The Adventure of Armed Robbery

Letting go of fear can make anything an adventure.

Several years ago I was working at an espresso stand in Western Washington. This is becoming a more popular way to buy coffee beverages throughout the US, but it has been a kind of epidemic in the Pacific Northwest for decades now. I usually worked by myself in this little hut just off of a popular highway. To the East (on the window side), was the highway and to the West (the door side) stood an enormous and visibly abandoned building.

Within the course of several weeks we began to hear reports of other drive-thru espresso stands being robbed in the area.

Setting aside what kind of dope would risk jail time for the pitiful amount of money to be found in an espresso stand, it made all of us worry. I remember coming to work on several afternoons feeling fear that this thief would choose me.

What fear accomplished in me made me worse at my job. Instead of welcoming every customer that came, I felt super cautious and suspicious of certain men and all walk-ups. I smiled less, and engaged in much less conversation…

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Emotional Constipation

As a verbal processor, it’s painful to not have words. If you had seen my room last week as I packed to leave Colorado, you would see the perfect picture of what my head looks like now.

Everything is thrown into piles around the room. Heaping, disorganized. Then, in the most random order, I begin to dive in and make throw-away, keep, and give away piles.

Until it’s all tidied and figured out, it is, as my mom would say, The Wreck of the Hesperus.

And so today there is this incredible mash of thoughts and emotions building up and spilling over a little in very random comments made to whoever is near. Earlier, while I was trying to brain storm for a teaching I’m working on, I felt as though all of my insides were going to push themselves outward through my freckled skin. In response to this feeling, I got up and went outside to lay on my face in the grass in the sun. Then I sat up and stared off into space for a long while. It was the most productive thing I’ve done all day.

So, why in the world am I writing a post about not having words?!?!  It seems possible that someone out there might relate. It’s also possible that I will see one or several of you in person and in response to a question about how I’m doing I might just make a weird face and give a few grunts and groans to express that for which I still don’t have words.

If life were not such a great, big, incredible adventure, I would have so much less to process.

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Send Someone Else

Does being awesome have to be such hard work?

I’m coming to believe that as much as I want to live my life on purpose, show as much love as possible and, above all, help people know God better- as much as I want that, I don’t usually want the difficulties that go with those things.

This isn’t where I give you some moral lesson about how I’ve really just learned to buckle down and do the hard work. This is where I admit openly that I don’t want to.

I don’t.

It’s stressful. It’s exhausting, and I’m pretty sure I’m going a little bit crazy…

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Level Up?

Today I advance one year in the age game. I’m not bothered by the number, although since I spend most of my time with people a decade younger, I joke that I’ll be turning 29 again.

The day did not start out so good. I woke up a little after 5 to work out…

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otherwise known as walking to Starbucks. The weather report had predicted snow, but this wasn’t as much snow as tiny shards of sharp ice – all flying at my face, regardless of wind direction. About a block and a half from home I slipped on the ice just in the way you see a person encounter a banana peal in the cartoons. Yes, I did laugh at myself, but I also landed in daintiness square on my right hip. If there were a movie of my life, it should start with that moment. It also may end with a  similar moment in fifty years.

Because I’ve been watching this tv show lately about spies, I actually considered the rest of the walk as a stealth challenge.

For a second.

Then I considered what it could feel like to fall on my throbbing hip again and I decided that studying today is quite enough of a challenge.

No other incidents in the last three hours since The Fall, but I’ll keep you updated. In the mean time I’ll be here with a mocha my roommate bought me and my nose in this commentary on Philippians.

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Holler

If I could create a drawing that described this year, it would probably be a comic strip. The whole thing would be a roller coaster ride.

After sitting here thinking for a while, I realize that describing the pictures I would draw is probably less effective than just describing the year itself.

January: This was a month of great elation. I had just completed the School of Biblical Studies, which is a marathon of studying for 9 months. I had puffy, bluish skin under my eyes and a great big smile on my face.

February: I went home for 6 weeks to “raise support.” I put it in quotes because that is not as concrete an activity as some might make it out to be. Basically I hung out with my friends, made new friends, and spoke to a few groups of people about the work I feel called to do as a Missionary….

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Taking a Dive

An unexpected opportunity has come up since returning to Colorado. Although I had prayed several times for the upcoming Crossroads Discipleship Training School (CDTS), I had only thought a little about staffing the school. I’m not sure why, but in my mind it was far fetched. I did not know well the people who would be leading the school and I have never before staffed any school…. so I mostly just yearned to somehow be a part of what God would do, but didn’t really pursue a connection.

Then last week as I sat resting my ankle, one of the school leaders called me up out of the blue and asked if she could come and chat with me. When she had settled herself on the end of my bed, she asked me if I would want to join their team. In prayer she had been feeling like their team was not complete and when she asked for others to pray, my name came up “at the top of the list” (I put that in quotes because I don’t know if there was a literal list being written with numbered names or if it was just that more than one person who thought of me).

I told her I would pray about it and get back to them in a few days (but not too many days since they had already begun staff development).
Sometimes it is hard to hear God on something when I feel strong ambivalence….

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The Un-Adult Truth

The house is napping and I am in the basement with the books. It’s a daylight basement, which is really more of a rainlight basement.

Although I grew up in the great Northwet of

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Washington, I have spent just enough time away to gain a nostalgic perspective.
In small towns like Carnation (where I am today) I look outside and immediately remember movies like The Journey of Natty Gann, which then make me think of logging trucks, and big men wearing plaid and big beards.
Or I remember walking  from school like a pencil line connecting the dots of puddles the whole way home….

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Convergence

My friend Susie and I drove to Chicago for Thanksgiving. This was not a short drive, let me tell you. To her praise, Susie did the majority of the driving.

We left Wednesday evening and drove through the night… took a slightly “scenic” route and got even more scenic somewhere in Iowa when we missed an exit. We survived and the trip there, though several hours longer than it should have been, was pretty miraculous and full of laughter. We drove through the suburbs and picked up my friend Dave and from there headed into the city…

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Birds Have Nests

The simple definition of sojourner is “a temporary resident”. To me the word conjures up so much more.

As we were reading Exodus, I was moved by the command in 23:9 which says “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”  God is talking to people of Israel who had spent the last 400 years as slaves in Egypt. They were clearly not treated like honored guests there, but driven hard. They were oppressed, to be sure.

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Anytime, too that either Exodus or Leviticus talks about a Sabbath rest of any kind, it mentions the sojourner or the “alien” among them… Make sure they also get to rest. Any guest should be treated like family. Conversely in Leviticus 25 it talks about what you should do when your own brother is too poor to own his home or even “maintain himself” (vs. 35), you are to treat him like a sojourner- you won’t make him work for you like a slave, but treat him as an honored guest.

There is God, being funny again. Treat strangers like brothers and brothers like strangers. It actually makes so much sense, right?..

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Kingdom of the Heart (part 1)

This has been a pretty intense week between Staff Conference and the book of Acts. I just barely got my work done and turned in on time, but pushing really hard all week (except for when I fell on my face Friday and struggled to regain motivation) was really worth it. Today I am really grateful and want to share two things I gleaned this week from the Bible. In two parts because it turns out to be a lot of words 🙂

Paul. I’ll be honest, in the past I have not been a big fan of the guy. I have often felt like there was no way I could uphold his standards. I mean, he went immediately from hard core persecuting Christians to proving that Jesus was the Christ in a very short space of time. He’s headed like a freight train in one direction, meets Jesus on the road to Damascus and BAM he’s headed the other way in an equally unstoppable manner.
There is something in Paul’s heart which encourages God to interrupt him and change his course. Paul heard Stephen’s beautiful speech (Acts 7) before the religious leaders killed him and maybe there was even something in Stephen’s face which deeply disturbed Paul. Maybe in his zeal for God he felt he was facing a powerful adversary and he himself needed to strike back with strength against whatever Stephen had. Until he met Stephen’s reason for preaching and realized that Jesus was actually the God he thought he was defending….

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