Home Sweet Home

Today (Friday) was amazing.  I’m tired, but it was amazing.  I hit a hammer into wood for the first time today.  Knowing that this was not going to be my specialty, I mostly held wood for others to pound nails into, but a few nails I did drive home:)  (I was kind of a girly girl today, I guess you could say)

Take a second and think of what the word home means to you.  Think of what your home looks like; how big it is, how cozy it is, how cool/warm it is, how much stuff you have in it, the paint on the walls, the pictures hung…I’m a spoiled brat.

Here are a few pictures of one of the homes that my team built today, for a widow and her five children.

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Think about the word home again.  Don’t you feel kinda spoiled?  We don’t have to feel bad about our blessings, but it’s nice to recognize that we have so much, in order to give.  After all, in the reality of the Cross, we don’t deserve anything, and we haven’t earned anything. 

This widow, and her kids, were so grateful for our small kindness.  I’m pretty sure that it meant the world to them.  We got to share blessing with someone that desperately needed it. 

Withdrawal

I’m a fan of many things including:

  1. my church
  2. ministry
  3. my pastor’s preaching
  4. my friends
  5. blogging
  6. jogging
  7. teaching 4th grade
  8. Hanley International Academy
  9. my family
  10. caribou coffee

…and I’m going through withdrawal of several of those things.  Can you tell on #5?  This is my 4th post tonight!  up until today i went through withdrawal of #10.  i feel like i haven’t been at #1 in forever…and i always miss #3 when i’m gone (good thing I can get the podcast;)…to the #4’s who read my blog, let’s do coffee when I get back…and i already can’t wait to get back to school the Monday after i get back (isn’t that insane?)…i miss #7 for the moment…and as for #9, i got a quick fix this weekend, but i definitely miss my boys in chicago.

12 Hours

In 12 Hours (and a few minutes) my plane will take off from the Detroit MetrGuatemalao Airport and I will be on my
way to Chichicastenango, Guatemala.  I’m quite excited and a little nervous.  I’m going away with mostly people that I don’t really know…and I’m going out of the country.  I haven’t been out of the country since I went to Mexico with my youth group, in ’96.  I really pray that we are open to being used and that God will change us forever, through changing the lives of the people that we’ll minister to.

Building homes for women and kids will definitely have its rewards…and I hope there’s more.  I want to pray prayers that seem so impossible and ridiculous to pray…and actually see God’s hand move.  Let’s pray for that.

I just posted three times this evening…because I’ve been dying to post.  I finally had the chance to sit down and not be quite as stressed about getting everything done.  My life is so blessed-so rich.  May God humble my heart this week.

It’s funny because I finally decided not to take my digital SLR, and settle for using my little digital camera, thanks to a good friend who helped me go for the "below par" pictures over risking the loss of ‘my baby’.   (Thanks, friend:)  Even in this one thing, I’m already feeling humbled! 

I think I already ready for bed!

Sent to Detroit

I love to tell the story of how I came to be where I am now.  Walking through a chain of events thatDetroit_1
God gracefully orchestrated has been a fantastic experience.

People will ask me where I’m from.  My response is usually something like this:  "Well, I’m from Philadelphia, but I went to college in Minneapolis, and now I live here!"  Others usually respond with a raised eyebrow and, "What brought you here?"  At this point I love to share the simple story of how God sent me here.  Until recently I didn’t fully get the concept of that, but now I feel like I have a better understanding of God’s plan.

***Allow me to interject the short story…I moved here to live with a friend, who was doing an internship, after graduation from NCU, but I was only going to stay for the summer.  My plans were to move back to Minneapolis in August but God directed my heart to stay.  It felt kind of crazy.  I didn’t have a job or a permanent place to live…what on earth was I going to do in Michigan?  I knew a few people and I had a great church, but what were they really going to do for me?  I still wasn’t going to be close to my family or any of my best friends…they all stayed in Minneapolis, where I was going to be.  God took me out of the comfort zone of the city I’d come to love, the college-life I’d become so distinctly apart of, and my large circle of close friends to be…in Detroit***

We’ve been talking about Jonah at Church of the King these past few weeks.  We’ve been looking at how Jonah was sent by God to a sin-filled place called Ninevah (yeah, yeah, yeah, a big whale…heard that story in Sunday School when I was 5).  But the perspective that Jonah was a missionary who lacked compassion for a city that needed God’s grace, just as much as he did, is not one I had the comprehension for as a five-year-old.  God sent Jonah (and he eventually went).  God sent Jesus.  God has sent me…to Detroit.

We’ve been talking about how God is sending us from our homes into our neighborhoods, our families, our jobs, our supermarkets, our malls-everywhere in our city-to be disciples in the most Jesus-like fashion we can.  I guess the funny thing is that I began to realize, a few weeks ago as I was telling my story once again, that God sent me from Philly, via Minneapolis, to Detroit. 

It almost seems silly that I didn’t get it before, after having told that story a hundred times, but it has finally hit me.  I am a missionary who left my family to go to an unfamiliar place, by myself, to see a city transformed in the name of Jesus. 

You know, I asked Jesus to be the Leader of my life when I was 7, during a missions convention at my church.  There were missionaries from Tunisia, whose son was dressed as a camel :), who prayed with me that night.  Until my recent years, when I thought of missionaries I thought of people like them.  Missionaries, to me, were people that travelled to other countries, ate scary food, learned to speak another language and dressed up in camel costumes!  Fortunately, God has expanded my thoughts of missionaries to look like people with red hair and freckles, who live in Southfield, Michigan and work in Hamtramck.

Perspective is a good thing.  I’m glad that Jesus is sharing more and more of His perspective with me about my life and my purpose these days.  I’m called to Metro-Detroit and unless He says, "Move," I’m here to stay.  I’m called to my church and I want to see it grow and mature.  I’m called to be a part of church planting here, however God chooses to use me in that.  I’m called to teach and I desire to see transformation happen through my students as they grow up to be future leaders in our city (that’s what I pray for them!).  I’m called to live in Southfield-I know that because I look different than everyone that lives around me and I love that:)

Temptation to leave comes , but I just won’t listen, because I know that I’m called here…voices tell me about things like better paying jobs, "nicer" city, better schools, lower taxes, bigger churches…but they simply don’t compare to being exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to do. 🙂  It’s truly amazing!

Freedom to Fail

I read an e-votional this morning with this story and thought I’d share it. 

A young man of
thirty-two was appointed President of a large, well-established bank.
He’d never dreamed he would be president, much less at such a young
age. Therefore, he approached the Chairman of the Board, a man known
for his wisdom, and asked, "You know, I’ve just been appointed
President. I was wondering if you could give me some advice." The old
man came back with just two words, "Right decisions!" The young man had
hoped for a bit more than this, so he said, "That’s really helpful, and
I appreciate it, but can you be more specific? How do I make right
decisions?" The wise old man simply responded,
"Experience." The young man said, "Well, that’s why I am here. I don’t
have the kind of experience I need. How do I get it?" The final and
somewhat terse reply came, "Wrong decisions!"

Ever since I was in
junior high I’ve always loved to be in charge of something.  Some might
think that means I like to be bossy, others might say "in control" and
others might recognize that as leadership.  I suppose each one could
certainly be true in its own way, but I’d like to think that over time
people (usually pastors) in my life were developing me to be a leader,
and not to be bossy or in control.  (Perhaps they saw something in
me:)  I’m grateful for all the learning environments I’ve been blessed
with these past fourteen years. 

One of the greatest things about these environments has been the freedom to fail…to learn through making wrong decisions.  Nobody wants to make wrong decisions, but unfortunately, for me at least, I make my fair share of them.  Just yesterday someone asked me, point blank, how my prayer life for my ministry was going.  I had to be honest and say that it hasn’t been what it should’ve been…wrong decision.  Oh, it wasn’t a wrong decision that I shared it, but it was a wrong decision to let my prayers shrink in my life (and for something I’m so passionate about!).  He could’ve told me what an awful leader I’d been because of that and that he needed to find someone better to lead that ministry, but I’m grateful to know that I’ve been given the freedom to fail…I definitely need to come back strong though. 

It’s good for me to have people in my life who allow room for this type of freedom.  I think it’s often hard to allow ourselves to have this.  Even if we’re not perfectionists (which I’m not), we don’t want to fail.  We don’t want to fall down.  We want to do it right the first time around and not have to go back to the starting line.  The fact of the matter is that if we never allow ourselves the freedom to fail we will go through life dragging ourselves around with a "woe is me, I’m a failure…nobody should want to be around a failure such as I" attitude…and we’ll never take God-ordained risks.

In conclusion (this is how my students would start a closing paragraph;), try not to fail, but liberate yourself from the fear of wrong decisions.  Even as I read that last sentence, it’s much easier said than done, but aren’t you glad that God can be the source our "trying not to fail"?  🙂 

Have an awesomely, freeing day.

Wet Pants

Come with me to a third grade classroom….. There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives.

The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, "Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I’m dead meat."

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.

As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is
carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap.
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inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap.

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is

saying to himself, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!"

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of

ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The

teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts

to put on while his pants dry out. All the other

children are on their hands and knees cleaning up

around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful. But as

life would have it, the ridicule that should have been

his has been transferred to someone else – Susie.

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out.

You've done enough, you klutz!"

Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting

for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and\n whispers,

"You did that on purpose, didn't you?" Susie whispers

back, "I wet my pants once too."

May God help us see the opportunities that are always

around us to do good.

Remember…..Just going to church doesn't make you a

Christian any more than standing in your garage makes

you a car.

Each and everyone one of us are going through tough times right
now, but God
is getting ready to bless you in a way that only He can. Keep
the faith.

My instructions were to pick four (4) people that I wanted God
to bless, and
I picked you. Please pass this to at least four (4) people you
want to be
blessed.

This prayer is powerful, and prayer is one of the best gifts we
receive.
There is no cost but a lot of rewards. Let's continue to pray
for one
another.

The prayer:

Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives\n and those that
I care
deeply for, who are reading this right now. Show them a new
revelation of
Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their”,1]
);
//–>

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, "Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!"

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful. But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else – Susie.

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out.

You’ve done enough, you klutz!"

Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and
whispers, "You did that on purpose, didn’t you?" Susie whispers back, "I wet my pants once too."

Yesterday my pastor preached an(other) awesome message and he started out by saying that other people exist.  It’s not really all that profound of a thought, but it was striking to me, nonetheless.  Not only was it striking, but it was convicting.  I tend to pride myself on  how often I think about others and then as I sat in church yesterday I thought, "Oh, yeah, I’m not as great at that as I think I am."  My prayer is that I will walk in submission to the Holy Spirit’s calling to think of others throughout my day, and to actually put those thoughts into practice more often.

Martha Stewart

Would you believe me if I told you that I saw Martha Stewart today?  Me neither.

There have been so many things pounding in my heart these past few days, which is a huge reason why I’ve been distracted from doing tedious things like grading papers (man, I’m like a broken record about grading papers..).  One of them involves leaving a legacy, no matter how much or how little I actually get to invest into someone’s life.  It’s often the little things that impact people.  I realize how much an email can mean to a person and how much an encouraging letter can help to confirm a person’s thoughts.

Today I got to do a little thing and I dropped someone off at a bus station-no biggie, but I was glad to do it, and I pray that Jesus was recognized as the Provider of that ride.  As I dropped this person off I looked over and saw a gentleman there that I knew!  His name is Martha Stewart.  Well, it’s really "Norm", but he doesn’t know that I know that.  🙂 

Rewind to last spring…

Martha Stewart is a guy that we met in downtown Royal Oak (right about now, Anne Marie is cracking up).  He always tried to play mind games with us and was adament about not going to church…Until about April 15 of last year.  I remember talking to him the night before The Oaks launched their first service on Easter.  He was telling us that he’d give it a shot…once.  I recall praying that after simply tasting the sweet presence of God, he would crave it. 

The next morning I got to attend their very first gathering.  I walked in a couple minutes late, looked to my left and saw him sitting there.  So I sat with him.  My heart was pounding the whole service because the day had finally arrived for The Oaks to be there.  It was so great!  I loved it that I got to sit with someone that I’d been investing prayer and conversation into.

Fast forward to this afternoon at the bus station…

I was in the driver’s seat, so I put my window down to say, "Hi."  He came over and I asked him if he was still going to The Oaks.  He said that he was and that he loved it-that it was great…he even proceeded to invite me!  (Nothing could’ve blessed my heart more than that!)  I wasn’t sure that he remembered me, but he totally did.  I said that I was really involved at…and then he finished my sentence…"the King church".  I said, "Yes." 🙂  I told him that I was due for a visit to The Oaks again soon and that I would see him there.  I asked him how God was blessing his life and then he talked for about a minute….

Nostalgia set-in.  I was nostalgic of being a part of sending The Oaks. I miss it.  I want to do it again.  I want to see more lives like his changed around Metro Detroit.  The next church plant that happens won’t look exactly like The Oaks, if at all, but I’m okay with that.  It was a great feeling, seeing a result of one life that’s being changed (for we are not changed once, but we’re continually being changed).  Honestly, I don’t know exactly where he’s at right now.  But from what I saw I definitely saw a different person.

In the little things like notes, conversations, persistence, car rides…God uses us.  That makes me happy.  As for what’s going on at The Oaks…Chris, Nicki, Carrie, Richie, Anne Marie, Matt…you guys (and several otheres) are my heroes for going.  I’m privileged that my heart has been invested. 

Heart investments leave legacies…