Apr 13, 2015 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

Seeking Aquila

I have little experience with personal ads.

I don’t troll the newspaper or the internet for a date. I tend to go about my life and work and ministry and just expect someone to suddenly show up.

But maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I need to make my wishes for a mate known more widely. I was listening to the sermon at church yesterday and heard of the fame of Priscilla and Aquila, a couple who labored tirelessly in the early church. Aquila was a tent maker and worked alongside Paul the Apostle. They hosted a church in their house in the fledgling phase of the church. They were thanked repeatedly at the end of epistles. They even sought out an evangelist, Apollos, to correct him and give him a fuller understanding of the Gospel.

They worked hard. They were a team. In short, they rocked. 

After studying more about this dynamic duo, I’ve been rethinking the personal ad idea. So here goes:

One single female, we’ll call her Priscilla, who enjoys at caregiving, teaching, study, writing, laughter, and the obligatory long walks on the beach, seeks male for the following line of work:

I want a partner in mission and ministry. I want someone to keep me focused on what is truly important. I want someone who works hard as a tentmaker and a disciple-maker. I want someone who can exhort and correct me in love and show me the bigger Gospel that I sometimes miss. I want someone who is hospitable and will host others joyfully sharing his home and his life with them. I want someone who will recognize and encourage my gifts as well. I want someone who is adventurous for the right cause.

I want a vision caster.

I want a servant leader.

I want a team.

I am Priscilla. I’m seeking Aquila.

(applicants welcome).

Space Available

References of Priscilla and Aquila: Acts 18:1-3, Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26, Romans 16:3-4, I Corinthians 16:19, II Timothy 4:19.

Apr 4, 2015 - Devotional    3 Comments

Easter Saturday

I love books.

Just one visit to my house will confirm that fact. I love re-reading and re-living a beloved novel. I love the pages which have become wrinkled with interest and vigorous page-turning. I love the crease in the spine which allows the book to lay flat, opened to my favorite scene. I love knowing how the story will end.

I’ve found that as much as I enjoy experiencing books for the second or third or fourth times – there is something special about a new novel. I read it differently because I cannot anticipate the ending. When I don’t know the ending, I live the highs and lows of the characters a little bit deeper. When I can see the finish line so clearly, I read a little bit faster to get to the “happily ever after.”

I do the same thing with the Bible.

I think we all do. When we’re familiar with the stories, we can skim past the painful times of waiting to get to the good parts, the periods of resolution, celebration, and praise. The intention is good, but I think we miss out of the fullness of the story and all the emotions when we skip to the end.

As I thought about this tendency, I remembered a Max Lucado book that I read a few years ago. He discussed the crucifixion and resurrection and how we celebrate them today. We have Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services to focus our hearts and soak in the mourning and darkness of the death of Christ. But then, reading the Scriptures like a well-loved and well-known novel, we jump straight to Sunday and celebrating the resurrection.

orlando grace church easter2007 Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday. But What About Saturday?

But what about Saturday?

We have to stop and think about the familiar story, not just skip to “He is Risen!” (As amazing as that knowledge is!) What did the disciples feel on Saturday? Sorrow? Numbness? Disbelief? Hope? Did they intuitively know of the grandeur coming on Sunday? Did they think the past three years of their lives were a loss? Did they yearn for a miracle? I think there is something healthy to think of Saturday- to know of the sorrow and the disappointment and, above all, the waiting.

For in a larger way, we live in Saturday.

We have experienced the mourning and the grief of the brokenness of the world in many ways and we know that God wins in the end! We have an amazing hope beyond all that we can think or imagine (Eph 3:20). But today, in many ways, we are waiting for the miracle, waiting for the resolution, waiting to see and understand the larger story. In this life we get glimpses of heaven and glimpses of life without God as well. This is our Saturday as we live in constant sadness for the state of the world and hope that it is not going to remain this way!  We are challenged and refined on Saturday in the midst of the waiting. It contains truth and encourages me in the midst of my Saturdays to continue to wait on the Lord who is constantly at work!  May you too experience an ever-present hope of the coming Sunday, the eternal Sabbath, as you wait in the Saturday circumstances of you life today.

“Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!”
Psalm 27:14

Wishing everyone a very happy, and hopeful, Resurrection Sunday.

Apr 3, 2015 - travel    No Comments

Support Group for Support Raising

Shortly your mailbox will be filled with letters from willing and eager missionaries radically going somewhere for the cause of Christ. Summer projects, week-long adventures, state side and international endeavors all seem to coalesce in the summer time, and that can only mean one thing – Support Raising!
This blog post is meant to give those raising support hints on how to effectively invite people into what God is doing in their lives and in the place where they are headed. Support raising is difficult, uncomfortable, awkward, and faith-stretching work. How can one possibly take all that God is doing in his or her life at a moment in time and put it on paper? I’ve written some helpful hints from some experience with past mission trips to help anyone who will be shortly be starting the adventure called support raising!

orlando grace church IMG 3968 300x225 Support Group for Support Raising

Support Group for Support Raising Hints:
 
1.Share your heart, not just details about the trip. Consider answering some of the following questions in your letter: Why do you feel called to go to this place? What has God been doing in your heart lately? How did you decide to go on this trip? What are you excited to learn about yourself, about God, and about the people you will be ministering to? People do support organizations, but even more than that they support people who they know, trust, and can relate to — so make yourself relatable! Include pictures, itineraries, prayer requests or other personalized touches.
2.Plan ahead! Know your deadlines, and don’t start raising support at the last-minute. Gather a file with potential supporter’s names, addresses, etc. Save this file for sending thank you letters and an update after you return sharing what you learned on this trip and thanking them for their help to get you there!
3.Use this as an opportunity to share your heart and the Gospel even with non-believers. Don’t be surprised when crazy Uncle Harry (who is hostile to Christianity) actually sends you a generous check to help you have “a cultural experience.” He may not call it a mission trip, but he is helping you get there anyway! (By the way, this is a true story!) Even if you don’t get any money from these people, you’ve had the chance to share part of your story and planted a seed of the Gospel. These can be powerful tools as people see the sacrifices you are making and the lengths you are going through to bring the good news to a lost people. Share your heart freely and don’t limit the work of the Spirit!
4.Be clear about logistics! Amount of and date that money is needed, dates of travel, where to send support, who to make checks out to, etc.  Put all this information together so it’s there for easy reference later. Make things easy on your supporters. Consider including a self-addressed stamped envelope. You may want to check the current IRS standards for tax-deductible gifts to make sure you are staying within the parameters of the law.
5.Have someone proofread your letter. Nothing is so distracting from the point of your letter as misspelled wrods (my point exactly!)
6.Lastly, and most importantly: Remember you are asking for supporters, partners, encouragers, prayer warriors, and radical senders…YOU ARE NOT JUST ASKING FOR CASH! God is sovereign. If He wants you to go on this trip, He will raise the money for you. Your job is not to convince people of the financial worthiness of your endeavor, but to ask for supporters because you can’t do this alone! I have had many people who have never had the means to send me a single dollar, but these saints have encouraged me, prayed for me, and been behind me 100% over multiple mission trips. I am so thankful for them.  You are not just asking for financial support, you are inviting others into your life and creating community through this letter. [Note: One option is to create two versions of your support letter: one with the details about financial support and the other sharing the details of the trip, but not specifically asking for financial support. I’ve sent the latter version of my letter to some people who I know do not have the financial means to support me, but still want to know an update on my life!]
For years I’ve said that I think the mission trip does not start the day you get on a plane to fly to some distant land, but with the moment you decide to go on the trip in the first place. Support raising is an integral part of preparing for the mission trip. It is both a bonding experience for the team members and a faith-building activity for you. God does amazing works, but almost never in exactly the same ways. Some trips I’ve raised my entire required amount in a week’s time – and I’ve praised God for His quick, overflowing provision! Other times I’ve had a generous, anonymous donation come just three days before I’m scheduled to leave – and I praise God for his faithfulness and His timing. Both stories are faith-building. So, open your laptops and begin pouring our your heart through the keys! Support raise for the logistics of plane tickets and food, and for the glory of God!
orlando grace church IMG 3618 300x225 Support Group for Support Raising
“I do now know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.”
Mar 29, 2015 - travel    No Comments

My Latest Adventure

disney osbourne lights

Want to know why I’m this excited? My latest adventure will take me to Italy this summer!

Why does Italy need missionaries? Didn’t the church start there?”

That question has been posed repeatedly as I’ve told people that I am planning on going to Italy this summer. Italy has a long history with Christianity, but most Italians live in a post-Christian world. They are in many ways over-familiar with the old stories, but under-gospeled. There are reminders of miracles, church councils, and Christ throughout the scenery, our hope is for new life to be breathed into this beautiful country.

I will, Lord willing, be traveling on a nine day service-oriented mission trip this May. My church has a partnership with a church plant in Salerno, Italy called Nuova Vita (New Life). We will be a nimble seven person team who will participate in physically labor intensive service for the church plant. The purpose of the trip will be to increase the visibility, perception, and influence of our church partner by transforming and beautifying a neighborhood in the city. 

Italy-Salerno

I am excited about this trip for many reasons. First, the team! Those committed to the trip are delightful, flexible, team players and I anticipate good things coming from this group of people working together. Second, the work! I love seeing physical, tangible movement and progress. I want to encourage those who are in Salerno long-term who will see the fruit of what we start on this trip. I am looking forward to having both physical and spiritual goals for this trip so that progress can be seen (and anticipated in faith for what cannot be seen!) And third, the church planters! Justin and Abbey Valiquette (and their four children) are our missionaries and church planters in Salerno, Italy. I have known them and worked in ministry with them for a dozen years. They were on my Summer Project through Cru in 2003. We labored together, sharing the gospel and our lives for an entire summer and I am delighted to see them again and understand more fully the work of the church they have undertaken in Italy.

How can you help? Great question! Thanks for asking! First, please pray! I am a firm believer that mission trips don’t start the moment we get on the plane, just as they don’t end when we return home. The prayer, team building, support raising, and preparation are all part of the trip experience. Pray for our team and Nuova Vita that we would be a blessing to each other and the city. Second, support me financially. I am raising tax-deductible contributions through Orlando Grace church. The cost for the trip including air fare, lodging transportation, and food is $3000 which I must raise by April 15th. The faith building portion of the trip begins now for me as I humbly ask for partners. I believe that missions requires go-ers, welcomers, and senders and that we can each participate in different roles at different times. It is my turn to be a go-er! 

If you would like to join my team of senders and support me financially, I will gladly send you the details! Just leave a comment below!

Mar 15, 2015 - My Story, Running    No Comments

One More Finish Line

My roommates are rad.

As I hobbled in the front door after running 20 miles at the Glass Slipper Challenge focusing on the soreness in my thighs and the toenails I will likely lose, I heard someone shout, “Wait, don’t look! We have something for you.”

(When I was allowed to look,) I saw that our house had been transformed into a running course and a finish line. Crepe paper stretched toward the back door blocking off the “running course” from the “cheering zone.” One roommate cheered and held a sign. One passed me a glass of water as I hobbled past. And one crowned me with a homemade medal as I crossed through the crepe paper finish line.

It was perfect. 

It was the celebration that my heart loved! They thought about me. They knew these races made me nervous and that it was a big weekend for me. They wanted to show me that they cared. That’s what I love in a good friendship. People who know what is important to you and want to be involved. I proudly wore my handmade “Rad Roommate” medal the rest of the night and it currently hangs on my display rack.  I think it’s the most important one. It represents community, togetherness, celebration, and years of relationship with my house friends. Running has taught me a lot about pacing, endurance, grit, and mental determination. Living with others has taught me about community, togetherness, celebration, compromise, and encouragement. Life is full of lessons. I’m lucky enough to have roommates who help me remember this one — complete with hardware!

medals rad roommate

What lessons have you learned through sharing your life with others? 

 

Mar 12, 2015 - Running    3 Comments

The Glass Slipper Challenge

It was a chilly Florida morning at 3 am when I awoke for the Enchanted 10K. My friend Sara would be running with me both days – my teammate in it for the long haul. We huddled with 10,000 of our new friends, and oodles of mylar space-blankets, waiting for the release. We overcompensated for the cold and wore many layers. I was dressed as Rapunzel and was able to use my hair as a scarf for a little added warmth! Bonus!

rapunzel scarf hair

The Enchanted 10K was just that – enchanted! It was a delightful course winding through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. It was a perfect length to be challenging, but not exhausting. And we had fun with it. Sara and I ran intervals and enjoyed the race. We laughed as we passed mounds of scarves, hats, gloves, and jackets which our fellow runners had tossed as they warmed up. It was a relaxing warm up – in all ways! Warm up in temperature. Warm up in mileage. And Warm up mentally for me for the Princess Half the next day. 

enchanted 10K

It was an even earlier morning on Sunday when my alarm blared at 2:30 am and I let out a giggle of protest at my plans for the day. Getting up at 2:30 am to run a very long way! What was I thinking?! Sara and I spent the majority of the day after the Enchanted 10K stretching, icing, massaging, and ambulating in preparation for the next morning. We dressed in our costumes as Sully and Boo from Monsters Inc. And got ready for the challenge of the day.

sully and boo

 

Sara and I started strong, keeping to our planned pacing and enjoying the sights along the way. I love Main Street where scads of people gather to cheer on everyone. Yes, they likely have a specific runner in mind, but they also joyfully holler for us all. I remembered one cheerleader, Peggy Sue, in this very spot last year with her famous sign, “Hello, Perfect stranger, I’m proud of you.” and I got a little misty eyed. We turn right and jogged through Tomorrowland before running directly through Cinderella’s Castle. Just behind the castle, cast members were positioned handing out tissues. I snagged one assuming it was a prop for the photo op. I would gingerly dab the corner of my eye and try to get a good photo, but as I ran through the castle and caught a glimpse of everyone coming down Main Street, I actually needed the tissue to wipe a tear from my eyes! That was my magical moment this year.

castle run

Miles 8-10 are always my most difficult. I’ve been running a long time, feel spent, and still have a long way to go. Sara was hitting her wall as well. We slowed down, but stayed together. We were going to pull each other through this race. We were delighted to be surprised by a few friends at the 9 mile marker. It was perfect! We were in need of something delightful and seeing two familiar faces was just the thing. We trudged through the last four miles before reaching the Finish line, where the real magic happens. I set a record (for my longest ever half marathon time!), got ice for my irritable knee and proceeded to eat all the calories available!

ice knee run

Hardware follows Hard work. Amen. I wanted something tangible to show for my effort. Not just my effort over the past two days, or my mental stamina to keep going, but my effort throughout the entire training program. I earned my Glass Slipper medals and my Coast to Coast challenge (as I did the Star Wars Half as well– and wrote about it!) I have medals to show for my months of late nights and early mornings spent with just me and the road. These mean more to me than one day of competition. They represent all the ways I’ve “channeled Michael Jordan” over the years! I began running 30 seconds at a time and have slowly worked my way up to half marathons and combination challenges. They hang in my room, silently squelching my self-doubt. They are powerful. They are beautiful. They are heavy!

medals glass slipper challenge

Mar 9, 2015 - Running    No Comments

Channeling Michael Jordan

A week before the Glass Slipper challenge (a 19.3 mile race over two days!), I wasn’t excited, I was sick.

(I’ll spare you the details, but just know, it was gross!)

I’m not sure what bothered me most: the inability to ever maintain the correct temperature to blanket ratio for more than a minute, the incredible amount of tissue boxes that I consume in my snot-filled state, the hazy, drooped eye lids which only give me a partial view of the world, or the lack of productivity.

sick, ill, snot, kleenex

I know, I’m ridiculous! I was ill. I’m allowed to have a cold! But I sat, blew my nose, drank my tea, cleared my throat and thought of all the things I should have been doing. My mind raced saying, “I should be running one last training run. I should be stretching. I should be packing my bag to ensure the correct calorie intake for the races.”

But I couldn’t do any of that right then. I sat, dwelling on the miles I had to run shortly. I was nervous. I had been training for months. I had been looking forward to this challenge for months! I needed to find some endurance somewhere deep inside of me. I sent a bemoaning text to my friend about my viral state and anxiety about my upcoming physical exertion and she wrote back, “Channel Michael Jordan.”

I knew what she meant. Michael Jordan’s performance during game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals is the stuff of legends. He woke up at 3 am the morning of the game with the flu. It’s almost all the commentators talked about throughout the game. The look in his eyes. The way he walked out hanging his head. And his incredible MVP-earning performance throughout the game. He found his drive deep down inside. He had endurance he didn’t realize. He relied on his training and his teammates to make it through.

And I did the same thing!

 

IMG_3258

These races became about something bigger to me. It was about finishing, not timing. It was about proving myself wrong and finding strength and energy I didn’t realize I had. I earned my Glass Slipper. I earned my medals. I earned a nap! Maybe I’ll go channel Rip Van Winkle instead of Michael Jordan for a while…

Where do you find energy when you need it most?

 

Mar 7, 2015 - Health, Running, speaking, travel    No Comments

Internal Daylight Savings

No, I’m not dead.

No, I haven’t decided to live off the grid.

No, I haven’t eloped.

February was just a blur. 

IMG_3398sick, ill, snot, kleenexenchanted 10K

Traveling, speaking, multiple illnesses, and a twenty-mile race can make a month very tight and very exhausting. I feel like I am just now able to process all that happened in February. Like my mind is living a month behind my body. It’s a new kind of internal daylight savings!

But I’m hoping to spring forward in more ways than one tonight. I want to align my clocks, watches, and internal system to live in the present. Yes, I need to think about my blur of a month, but I also need to live where I am. I don’t want to live life solely through my rear view mirror. I think back and muse, “Wow, I led a women’s retreat. I spoke for four hours about the Sabbath one month ago this weekend. Was that real?” I ponder such questions because the distance between my thoughts and my presence can keep me from enjoying what’s going on right in front of me. Maybe you feel the same. Nostalgic for what was and never fully enjoying what is. I am seeking to enjoy life past, present, and future. Remember good times, enjoy today, plan for the future. That’s my new daylight savings plan – enjoy the sunshine wherever it shines!

How do you train yourself to enjoy today and not worry about tomorrow or long for yesterday?

Feb 17, 2015 - Health    2 Comments

Sick and Ticked!

I’m sick. I just have a cold. Typical symptoms: cough, stuffiness, watery eyes, fatigue. But I’m ticked about it! I don’t have time to be sick! I have stuff to do. I have things to catch up on after speaking at a women’s retreat about Sabbath Rest! I have a half marathon this upcoming weekend! Couldn’t we reschedule the stuffy nose timing, God?

sick, ill, snot, kleenex

The irony is not lost on me. 

I spent all of last weekend telling a lovely group of women that they were not responsible for their own salvation. That they could rest. More than that, telling them that God designed us to need rhythms of rest and work.

But I don’t like my current rhythm. I’d rather be working. I have stuff to do. I’ve said it before and it is true again today. Sickness is used in my life to remind me that it’s not all up to me. When I am sick, I can still trust that the world will go on. Because I am not responsible for upholding the world and keeping it running. (Though I often live as if I am!) God is in control. I am not. My job right now is to blow my nose, drink hot tea, and take naps to fight off whatever virus has taken up residence in my lymph nodes. That’s it. That is what I need to check off my to do list today. Rest, be still, recover. And trust that God has everything else under control.

Instead of being sick and ticked, I will strive to be sick and trusting. It will be good training for all the times that I’m not ill, but still want to trust!

 

God repeatedly uses illness in my life to remind me of this truth. What has He used in your life?

 

Feb 16, 2015 - My Story, speaking, Writing    1 Comment

Seeking Rest for my Soul

I hear voices.

Well, one in particular. It whispers to me that it is unsatisfied with my work, my efforts, my productivity, and my choices. It tells me lies. It tells me that I have to do more and be more. That I have to earn rest and that work is always more important than rest.

Do you hear a similar voice inside your head that tells you to do more and to be more?

I shared my voice with these ladies last weekend at the Hays Hills Baptist Church Women’s Retreat and they understood. They didn’t scoff at my voice. They were acquainted with this voice and its lying words too well already. We don’t know how to rest well, or be still as a society. We might have periods of inactivity, but our minds, hearts, and souls continue to churn.

hays hills womens retreat

 

We fought for rest together. We fought for truth together. We fought for Sabbath together.

I’ve been thinking about Sabbath and rest for years and I was thrilled to share my research and thoughts with an audience. It was a huge boost to my confidence. I wrote these words with my friend and editor, Abby, and we were finally able to share them. Our gifts of writing and communication were recognized and encouraged. It was amazing to me that people were taking notes on my words. That they were asking me questions as if I was the expert. I giggled in glee that someone chose my words to write on her mug!

mug worry future

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Hays Hills Baptist Church for being so welcoming of me and for encouraging me through your questions and thoughts throughout the weekend. Thank you also to Aaron and Lindsay Kahler who were instrumental in getting me invited to speak in the first place. To the retreat planning committee who took care of every detail so that I just had to show up and talk! To Abby who has weekly picked apart this text with me word by word to make it the best it could possibly be! And a huge thank you to everyone who knew I was speaking and was praying for me back home. I felt incredibly encouraged and blessed this past weekend. Thank you for being a part of this adventure.

come to me and i will give you rest

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