"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Thursday, August 30, 2012

joy moments.

As I recently worked my way through the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, my mentality began to shift.  She talked about enjoying moments.

Over the course of a year, she made a list of one thousand things that she experienced that she saw as blessings, as gifts, as graces from the Lord.  She writes about how seeing those "grace moments" brought her to a place of thanksgiving - of remembrance of all the things God does, the things he brings us through and all of the little things he gives to us to bring us joy, if only we notice them.

I, too, have begun a list.  It is far from complete, but it has changed me.

This week has been full of those grace moments.  A trip to Kansas City brought many of them, as I was able to see so many people who I dearly love.  The face of a girl who experiences freedom for the first time.  The arm of a girl once covered with scabs, now healed.  A childlike excitement where there used to be apathy.  The face of a baby, looking so much like the parents and so full of innocence.  Returning to a place where I had grown roots, sitting in remembrance of the time spent.  Coming back to Saint Louis and going to Trader Joe's, my favorite, where I haven't visited in months.  Buying the dried mango I so enjoy.  Drinking a latte with someone who had never drank a proper one before.  Engaging conversation, discovery.  Live music that wouldn't be right if it wasn't a little off-pitch.

These things exist in our everyday, too.  In the mundane we can see them if we are thankful to God for the small moments that pique our attention, draw our eyes and our ears.  Let us pray that our eyes will be sensitive to these things, so we can forever be in a mindset of thankfulness for the joy moments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

vikings no more.

In the spirit of celebrating newness, wherever God reveals it..

I felt inspired to change the background and color scheme of this blog.  Someday I may change the title - I think I stopped liking it only weeks after I started writing it.  Anyway, you are all now free from the Vikings colors glaring at you every time you click on my blog (I know that's what you all thought about when you saw the purple and yellow together!  Well, at least all the Packer fans :)).


Tonight at church we celebrated Easter.

Yes, I realize it's August, months after Easter happens on the calendar.  But that's exactly why we celebrated it.  Easter cannot be a day on a calendar.  It cannot just be the day that we have a big family meal and dress in pastels while running around the yard searching for sugar-filled pieces of egg-shaped plastic.  No, it must be more.

Luke 24 talks of the women who came to bring spices to the once-sealed tomb finding it open and empty.  It speaks of the men in dazzling apparel - breathtaking, I'm sure.  They tell the women that Jesus rose, like he said he would.  And, don't miss this, they remembered his words.  They remembered the words of their risen Savior and immediately went out and shared their excitement.  This remembrance brought thankfulness, their thankfulness added to their faith, and then they had joy and they worshiped.

Remembrance brings us to worship.

Not only on Easter Sunday - but Easter every day.  Walter Brueggemann in one of his prayer books asks the Lord to "Easter us with your newness."  And he will.  The empty tomb made a place of death into one of new life.  Let us never forget.

We all took communion, and in the breaking of the soft loaves, we remembered.

We should always remember.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

blessings. possibilities.

Starting a life in a new place is challenging.  It means developing new routines, discovering new places, learning the roads, and most challenging of all... meeting new people.

I have spent the last six weeks figuring out where things are, moving and then moving again, unpacking, settling.  Decorating comes next, and I am in awe of God's provision.  Pieces of furniture come from all different directions for free and for blessing.  Fabric for curtains comes in sheets with beautiful patterns, and is used in abundance.  People from other areas of my life showing up in random places, reentering.  Blessings.

Matthias' Lot is the name of the church I started attending.  It meets on Wednesday nights instead .  Soon, I will be able to be more involved there, as I was able to meet some of the leadership last week.  I am grateful to know people there.

I occasionally get to go into the city to volunteer at different neighborhood events for my job.  Sure, my role is more supervising and facilitating the volunteer work of our residents, but it is ministry just the same.  Seeing, and partnering with, the work of urban ministries and churches in this city, serving thousands of people things important to their future daily lives - it serves as a great reminder that my work in the city is not over simply because I no longer live in an urban area.  I can still spread God's heart for the city no matter where I am, and I can still serve.

These adjustments make things different.  While I realize that living in a new place and doing a new job will inevitably change the way you do life, I am still astounded by its reality.  There is a stark difference between the ways I have lived in the past and the way that I can live now - a new sense of freedom with my time and energy compels me to use my time well.  To spend it maintaining relationships far away, building new relationships here, learning new things, taking some graduate-level courses, reading the stack of must-reads that have laid untouched on my bookshelf for years, cooking new things, starting (and finishing) projects (thank you Pinterest!), and a never-ending list of others.

To end, I just want to share a verse that I've been dwelling on:

I'm asking God for one thing,
only one thing;
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I'll contemplate his beauty;
I'll study at his feet

That's the only quiet, secure place
in a noisy world.
Psalm 37:4-5