What? Here? Now?

living the unpaved.


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The Road

“You know how difficult it was for you to make the decision to drop everything and come here to walk the Road to Santiago in search of a sword. But this was different only because you were a prisoner of the past. You had been defeated before, and you were afraid it would happen again. You had already achieved things, and you were afraid  you might lose them. But at the same time, something stronger than any of that prevailed: the desire to find your sword. So you decided to take the risk.”

– The PilgrimagePaulo Coelho

I’ve blogged about fear and about doing things in spite of that fear, and after being here in the great city of New York for a little over a month, I am still wrestling with being here.

Here are some things I miss:

Look at that face.

Look at that face.

These lads. Among others.

These lads. Among others.

This awesome lake. Where it is not cold.

This awesome lake. Where it is not cold.

ALL OF THIS FOOD.

ALL OF THIS FOOD.

And I exchanged that for this…

This man is Tebow-ing some trash. Or crying. I choose crying. Cause NYC is DIRTY, son. Dirty.

This man is Tebow-ing some trash. Or crying. I choose crying. Cause NYC is DIRTY, son. Dirty.

There are so many ways the city is different, and so unlike what I am used to. I am not in love with NYC (yet?), and that’s okay.

After all, I am still grieving what I have left. I came here running after a new dream, and it is hard letting go of one you held onto for so long. The death of a future you had once invested so much in, following the new future where it calls. Grief is almost always for the mourner’s loss.

“I’m afraid,” said Ender quietly. “But I’ll go with you.”

“Tell me again,” said Graff.

“It’s what I was born for, isn’t it? If I don’t go, why am I alive?”

“Not good enough,” said Graff.

“I don’t want to go,” said Ender. “But I will.”

Graff nodded.

 Ender’s GameOrson Scott Card

A shared story is one that can help someone find a piece of humanity to relate to, so I share my story. How about you? When have you felt the death of one dream in following another? Or felt afraid to go where you were called?


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In Spite of The Fear (Or, that one time I slept in LaGuardia)

And my lungs hurt and my ears bled
With the sound of the city life echoed in my head
Do I need this to keep me alive?
The traffic stops and starts but I need to move along
London calls me a stranger
This is not my home, my home

The City, Ed Sheeran

 One has a lot of fears coming to NYC. Most chiefly for me was, not to be homeless. To feel safe. Having the things important to me feel safe. I came to NYC for a week, not completely on a whim. More like a prayer. To see if I could indeed live here. To see about getting a job. Which is hard. People in NYC don’t want to hire you when you don’t live here.

So I bought a one way ticket, and hopped on a plane. I had a place to stay for a few days out of the week, a stay which didn’t start until the day after I was supposed to arrive. Oops.
I mulled this over for a while. I could beg and borrow from others I knew…

Or take a crazy chance to face some fears. As you’ll remember from the last post, I’ve got some. Afraid all the time, actually.

Fears: be homeless. Get stabbed, or snatched, or mobbed by homeless people. Almost completely irrational. But I’m a girl. That’s how it goes.

So that night, as I flew into NYC alone, I decided.

I would sleep in LaGuardia. People sleep in airports all the time, right? Not certainly by choice, but they do. I would take it one step further, and shack up in the baggage claim. Not the nice comfy safe terminals. (Plus I had checked bags, I had to rescue them.) In my ridiculousness, I figured, if I could last one night in the baggage claim of LaGuardia, I would be all right to stay and live in NYC.

I am not as smart as this guy. That tent is genius.

This is what despair looks like.

Long story short, I did it. I managed to sleep for a while, but one too many creepy shuffling dudes did me in, and I ended up watching some Netflix on my phone, waiting in vain for the morning hours. But I did it. (Ask me the story over coffee sometime, and do yourself a favor by googling images of ‘sleeping in airport’. Some complete gems.)

Essentially, sleeping in LaGuardia became my moment of overcoming. The moment that I could look back and say, whatever happens, I know at least, that I can do that. One time I can look back and say, “Here. Here is where I overcame. I can make it through.”

That’s what this whole journey is about though, isn’t it? Doing life in spite of the fear. Having the courage to run after what you should be running after.

Fear is a huge controlling factor in people’s lives. When it is hard and lonely and different, we crave the safety and comfort of things and places we know. But I didn’t leave for comfort. I left to grow, to be challenged.

Do we stop growing when things are comfortable? When they are easy? Or safe? Does the craving of the familiar mean that we are weak, and are dependent upon that comfort? Does that mean that we should strive to throw off that dependency?  What is the line between content and comfort? Have we confused them?

So many people say the opposite of fear is courage. Or that the opposite of fear is bravery, or action, or recklessness, or any of those other words that sound like you should strap on some leather bracers and grab a spear, ala Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

I’d say the opposite of fear is obedience. Someone I know once said, “Fear over obedience is a rejection of God’s goodness.” That God knows what is going on, and has a plan.

The comfort (friends/house/job/you name it) we’re afraid of leaving, is not really any comfort. The comfort is in the cross.  Jesus. That God’s plan and purpose is ultimately the best thing, and the small comforts on earth we crave are nothing compared to what God has in mind.

So here’s to the life of obedience in spite of the fear.


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The Fear

I’ve been worryin’ that my time is a little unclear
I’ve been worryin’ that I’m losing the ones I hold dear
I’ve been worryin’ that we all, live our lives, in the confines of fear

The Fear, Ben Howard

People (most often my family) express incredulity to my moving to NYC, asking, “Aren’t you scared? Isn’t there violence and isn’t it ridiculously expensive? And what are you going to do? Why would you do this?”

If I had to answer them, there would be a running theme similar to Bruce Banner, in the Avengers. Banner, having previously decided not to join the fight, finally shows up to join the action. Captain America says, “Doc… I think now is the perfect time for you to get angry.”

Banner responds:

That’s my secret friends. I’m always afraid.
I came to NYC for a week, alone, staying with a family member for a bit, and then a complete stranger for the last few days.
Trying to find a job, trying to secure a place to live, all seemed impossible, or that the odds were stacked so highly against me, I was sure to fail.
I am always afraid.

When I started this adventure back in January, I had no idea what I hoped to expect. Mostly it was a lot of fear. First, I had to think, can I really leave Dallas? The place where all my friends have become family? The place where my actual family lives so close?

The place where there is awesome Mexican food? And tortillas and salsa and Freebirds? (the small consolation is that there is Chipotle in NYC. Although true Freebirds fans will know, it is a poor substitute.)

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How can I? How can I leave this comfy job that I’ve got? This comfy apartment that I have, that is way too big for the amount of rent I pay? The church that I moved to help build? The best friend of mine who pastors that place? How can I?

So much fear. Those are the questions that come out of fear. Questions that are more about comfort than a calling.
So, step by step, I processed following God through the fear, away from the comfort.


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NYC, the Onset

Who knew when I started this blog over 5 years ago I’d end up here.

Some thoughts as I jump into this…

HOLY. CRAP.

Also, Psalm 24:1. and John 15:5.

Only by God’s grace can I be here.

Today was filled with anxiety, sorrow, moments of peace and extreme gratefulness, and moments of high stress.
Over and over I say to myself; Just keep going. One foot in front of the other.
God will make the path clear. He is here, He goes before us.

—————————————–

Story: Day One

When I left this morning, I was filled with such anxiety and sorrow…. And then I got on the plane. I bought a ticket 2 days ago. Flying Southwest, I paid extra to get priority boarding. Because, by golly, I wanted my aisle seat. Long legs + short spaces = the crap. Got on, claimed an overhead bin like a ninja, and snagged my aisle seat close to the front like a boss. It’s the little things, I suppose.
Plane was filling up, some guy takes the window seat… proceeds to take pictures of his family sitting across the aisle. Weird, but, hey. He smells okay. (Which, if you didn’t know, was the definitive measurement of acceptable airline flying seat companions. You cannot sit next to McDougle who hasn’t showered in the last 48 hours.)
Almost full, no middle seat. Which again, if you didn’t know, is the appropriate time for a small pre-victory dance. Perhaps you’ll be spared! The plane is full, and no one is sitting next to you! Victory!
Alas, the seat got claimed. First by some dude, who then switched with his wife. It was at this point I should have known something was up. I should have put my headphones in, but gosh darnit if I’m not an extrovert. Strike up conversation with the plants. Wife looks at me, bit panicked.

“Thanks, I’m just worried. My daughter is sitting back there, by herself. I hope she doesn’t start crying.”

Me:…. “What, really? How old is she? Where at?” I started to say…’If you ask the steward folks, they usually ask if people traveling alone can switch to have 2 seats next to each other…’
When I realized, it was me. I started to ask the woman sitting next to her daughter if she wanted to switch with me.. which made no sense because we were both in aisle seats. Someone was going to have to take the middle seat. WIthout realizing what was coming out of my mouth, or even what was happening, I found myself saying..

“Sure, yeah, we can switch, I’ll just sit here….”

What? What the actual crap did I just say??? Did I just give up my hard won aisle seat?? To be scrunched next to picture dude and woman with a PC?

Before I knew it, I was in the middle.

And the woman next to her daughter? She was crying. Out of joy.

When we finally took off, I realized again, God was punching me in the face with, ‘it’s not about YOU. it’s about ME.’ Great reminder as I head into the city, where it can be all too easy to be self focused, instead of God focused.


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This is Jesus: Part 1

So if you missed it last week, our Post College Bible study/training launched at Water’s Edge Allen.
The whole idea behind this training and gathering is for people who have left college, are starting to settle down in a city, either looking for a job, starting a new career, single or recently married, and without a real community and connection built up with their neighborhood and city. I hope it can be a place of growth and community building, as we stumble through the Word together and learn how to connect with each other and those around us. We’ll be going from September 21 to November 30.

The topic that spoke the most to me, was the topic of “This is Jesus”, based off the idea that if we’re going to follow Him, if we’re going to really try to live like He calls us, we’ve got to know who He is. We’ve got to dig into His life and catch the finer points of His personality, ponder why He did the things He did, and what does that mean for our lives moving forward?
Then, since we know Him, we can follow Him. And once we start following, He’ll call us to lead the people around us to Him.
Know, Follow, Lead.

So, why learn who He was? Because we can’t go where He goes without it. If we’re not earnestly seeking the heart of Jesus first, we won’t get anywhere. In relationships, in our marriages, in our jobs, in our schools, wherever. And Jesus won’t let us lead without it.

Try this. Open the book of Mark. It’s in the new testament, one of the four Gospels written by a guy who was walking right behind Jesus. Following Him every step of the way. Lucky for us they wrote about it.
In the first few chapters of Mark, it outlines Jesus’ life, and the beginnings of His ministry. As  you read (try chp. 1-3 to start) look for the character of Jesus. What he says to whom, how he acts in different situations.
As we read we find certain characteristics stick out. These characteristics we’ll check out over the next couple weeks of training, and hopefully adopt into our lives.

Oct 5-
The first: Forgive excessively. Jesus wasn’t on a mission to condemn, He was on a mission of forgiveness, of reconciliation.  He wanted to bring a broken people back to the Father who made them. In our lives, this is the first. We have to learn to forgive in ridiculous amounts the people in our own lives. Once we forgive them, we’re free to love them like Jesus loves them. After all, everyone’s broken.
Other Jesus characteristics:
He calls out the good in people.
He cares more about people than rules or traditions.
His family thinks He’s crazy. (mark 3:21)
He gets angry at injustice.
It’s not easy for Him either. He gets baptized, and immediately is thrown into the wilderness. (we don’t get a free pass either!)
He didn’t want personal recognition. He always pointed back to the Father.
He invites people into His house. He hangs out with sinners. At His house.
He doesn’t just preach at people, he meets their needs.
He holds feasts for people with what He has! (this is a good one. read Mark..)
And He continually spends time alone with God.

Just a taste of what’s to come. See you there!


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Lessons of the Day: Part 1

Over the past month, I’ve started Twittering life lessons that I come across. There’s almost always a new one everyday.
For me, these short glimpses are a way of challenging myself to a new leadership point, to see the world differently, and to rise to the challenge of what God is preparing for my life. You see, I’ve got somewhere to go and someone to be.  (1 Cor 9:22)
So enjoy them. They’re all 140 characters or less, nice short tidbits I try to live out everyday. I can’t really claim any of them; most came from people a lot smarter and wiser.

Feb 1st:
if you don’t speed, you don’t have to keep watch for cops.

pastor your family, even if your family is just you.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

“Don’t faint in the process, God is preparing you for what He is preparing for you.”

make peace with your past, so it doesnt screw up the present.

No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

overprepare, then go with the flow.

owe nothing to anyone, except love.

nothing is ever as big a deal as we make it out to be. ask the question: in 5 years, will this matter?

stop trying to be accepted and be exceptional.

do not be the poison, & whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. for His glory.

eating rocks may lead to broken teeth.

we are educated far beyond the level of our obedience. if you would just do what you already knew, you’d be dangerous.

be faithful (even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.)

just because you win the battle doesn’t mean you were right.

don’t wear socks with sandals, unless you’re living in the feudal era japan.

a man came to Jesus.”If you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus took pity. “I will,” Jesus replied. “Be clean.”

i am not God.

jesus wins.

if you don’t have the audacity to act, you’re not a visionary, you’re a daydreamer.

build for where you want to go, not for where you are now.

you cannot be in two places at once.

The limit to your abilities is where you place it.

i must be intentional about being grateful and encouraging. it is not natural for me.

An idea without implementation isn’t creation. True creativity results in a product.

Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If ya can’t eat it or play with it, pee on it & walk away.

if we were meant for another world than this, what’s keeping us from building that world here, now?


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balancing excellence with brokenness

I’ve seen a pattern over the past couple of days between churches and /or organization leaders talking about the value of excellence vs. drive.

Drive being described as having vision, having a ‘hunger’ (via Steven Furtick), a deep desire to see the people of this world have an everlasting encounter with our Father in heaven, a deep desire to follow the mission of Christ.

I think it begs the question: (ah, so many, so little answers..)  can one matter more than the other? At what point does drive, passion overcome the talent? The need for excellence?

Perry Noble, I like what you’re throwing down.
If you’ve read his blog, great, if you haven’t you should. 
And if not: short version. I think Perry hits this nail on the head, and I’m not sure if he realizes it, but he probably does because he’s freakin’ Perry Noble.

(I have a point, I promise, and am not simply rambling about P.N.)

There is a specific distinction to make between excellence in the church and passion in people.

When we look to surround ourselves in the Church (or anywhere else for that matter) we SHOULD strive for excellence in our WORK, but acknowledge and embrace OUR brokenness within ourselves that is covered over by the mercy of Christ.

Let me lay it out:

Church: deserves excellence FROM us (p.n.-   because we have the spirit of the almighty God working within us and for us and leading us, and have no excuse not to give Him our best!)
People: receive perfection FROM christ (i am broken. Jesus has got my back.)

God picked a bunch of broken, messed up dudes to spread the message of hope and salvation to the word. And they still messed up even while doing it!
but they KEPT DOING IT. 
They had the drive, the initiative, the passion to keep going, to have faith in God’s call for their lives.

Is that your final answer?
Hire people who are competent in their area, who strive for excellence, who think the Kingdom of God deserves nothing but their best effort, yet have mercy on their brokenness, and honor their faithfulness beyond their broken pieces.

 

(there’s my take. I’m no Perry Noble, but that’s what I’ve got. I appreciate all thoughts, clarifications, questions, and ‘you’re just plain wrongs’!)