The Insignificant Moments

It truly is the moments. Sometimes those moments are days. But oftentimes they’re just moments…parts of days. But moments which forever change and shape my heart and soul. They’re moments I never want to forget because they remind me that I’m human. They remind of who I am and who I love. They remind me what’s important. And they give me hope. For life. For humanity. When all is said and done I think our lives are made up of these. The seemingly insignificant moments. The moments in which strangers become friends. The moments when all of the pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into place and we understand. The moments which we spend living for something greater than ourselves.

Permission to Speak Freely and the Gift of Going Second

I got Anne Jackson’s “Permission to Speak Freely” when it came out back in August and it’s been sitting neglected on my shelf for the last several months. But, I finally had the chance to finish it and wanted to share a few thoughts.

For me it was one of those books that I read and I reminded I’m not alone…one where the author seems to put words to my heart. Here are just a few of the passages in Permission to Speak Freely that did just that.

“Most of us choose to live in one of these extremes: conforming or escaping. Few can find peace living in the tension of both. Those of us who do wonder if we’re too idealistic to believe a faith community can be a hospital where our wounds are welcomed and can be healed. That true sanctuary can be found both within the walls of the church and outside the church as well.

A Scottish minister once told me, “If you can’t be an idealist in the church, then something is extremely wrong.”

At the risk of sounding overly idealistic, I’d like to say that for those of use who believe the church should be one of the safest and most grace-giving places a person can experience here on earth, it’s time to reclaim what our faith stands for.” (page 85)

I’m definitely one of those idealists. And it just’s good to know I’m not the only one. :)

You can’t will yourself to transform. There’s nothing you can do to make your heart “get” it. Nothing. You can prepare for it, and be receptive when it comes, but that’s all you can do. You have to step back and let it soak in.  (page 95)

Even though the one thing I desired was to be by myself, deep down, none of us wants to be alone. The reason we crave isolation so badly is because more than our fear of being alone is our fear of rejection. (page 110)

Ouch! That one is truth. And the truth does indeed sometimes hurt.

“It’s funny: I feel I end up being a bit of a broken record because I keep saying it’s about community, or whatever you want to call it. We just need honest relationships. But for a lot of people, that’s scary place to start. But the burden of fearing those relationships is so much heavier than actually having them. Once we have them, we realize how necessary they are.” (page 176)

Yep, that’s my life!

Anne talks a lot about the “gift of going second.” The idea that when we risk…risk our hearts, our “image,” tackle fear head on and shed our masks sharing openly and transparently about our struggles and doubts we give others the freedom to do the same. Only it’s not quite as risky for them and the fear isn’t quite as great because they have been given the gift of going second and when it comes to being transparent going second is always easier. I think Permission to Speak Freely is that gift for many people. Thank you, Anne, for giving us all the gift of going second. I’m feeling challenged to pass that gift along to others.

Have you read the book? If so, what were your thoughts?

Ponder…Why You Brought Me Here

As I’ve wrestled with the doubt that inevitably creeps in when you make a major life change over the past couple of months this song has put words to my heart. As the year comes to a close I thought it was fitting to ponder. Because though I still don’t understand all of the reasons, I am constantly reminded of how perfect His plan is.

I know I’d get an answer
That I won’t understand
If I ask that your intentions be made clear
I know Your plans are greater
And in that greater plan
Are the reasons why You brought me here

My story would be different
If it were only mine to write
There are secrets I would never volunteer
But secrets lose their power
When they have no place to hide
Maybe that is why You brought me here

Oh, all I see are the ruins
As the smoke starts to clear
Oh, I hope You know what You’re doin’
‘Cuz You brought me here

It’s a mess of my own making
This I won’t deny
Though the consequences shake my heart with fear
If I was happy with the way things were
I’d give more of a fight
I guess I’m grateful that You brought me here

Oh, all I see are the ruins
As the smoke starts to clear
Oh, I hope You know what You’re doin’
‘Cuz You brought me here

And if it’s hard to raise the white flag
It’s even harder to believe
That surrendering is worth the sacrifice
That the very thing I always feared would be the death of me
Was a way to come alive

Though it hurts to be this broken
It’s bearable some how
As the chance to prove I’m worthy disappears
I always heard You loved me
But I think I know it now
Is that the reason why You brought me here?
I guess I’m grateful that You brought me here.

Lyrics from “The Reasons Why You Brought Me Here” by Jason Gray

For Fun…a Year in 150 Words

Just for fun, I tried to cram the last 361 days into 150 words…

Cold midwest winter
New friends at VWRT St. Louis
Meet again at VWRT Nashville
March 4th
Amos 5:21 from a stranger
Meant wrestling with God

2nd visit to Nashville
April 22nd
God says go
Could Nashville be home?
Letting go

Goodbye to The CORE
Memphis in July – hello humidity!
Hope – go to give but end up receiving it
Echo Conference reunion
Take the online offline
Selling, giving, throwing
Pack life into my car
Move to Nashville
August 28th
3rd trip in 6 months
This time to stay

Beginning a new volume
Not just a new chapter
Dropped into community
A home at Journey
STORY Chicago

New friends
God brings it full circle
Theory to practice
Talking to doing

Risk…yet again
He’s faithful
He’s got this
Embracing the unexpected
I’m home
…for now

If you haven’t figured it out, I love words…I love describing things in few words. So, it’s natural that I would love an idea I came across from Alece on her blog Grit & Glory…one word for 2011. Looking back I think it’s safe to say that my word for 2010 turned out to be “risk” although that’s certainly not one I would have chosen or predicted at the beginning of the year. I’ve been thinking about my word for 2011 since reading Alece’s post and I’ll write about it when I discover it :)

What kind of words would you use to sum up your year?

Throwback Sundays…If I Had Courage

I wrote this post several months back. And if I’m honest most of those things are still on my “If I had courage” list. Kind of pathetic. A few things I would add…

If I had courage I would let more people in.
If I had courage I would speak my mind more often.
If I had courage I’d risk my heart.
If I had courage I would start a business.
If I had courage I wouldn’t be in America right now.

Your turn. “If I had courage….”

The Year of the Unexpected

This year was by far filled with more transition than any other to date. In January I was visiting my family in MN in -12 degree weather and loving the 15 degrees it was when I returned home to Appleton. All the while I was laughing at my friends in Nashville who were freaking out about the 2 inches of snow they had. And I was loving the multiple feet of snow falling in Appleton. Fast forward to this month and I was the one freaking out about the 2 inches of snow that were falling in Nashville.

Mid-January I headed to St. Louis for the first Visual Worship Roundtable. And in March I was heading to the second one in Nashville. Little did I know just how much those couple of days and a conversation with a stranger, who is now a friend, would change my life. When I got home from that trip I made a frame collage type thing. Inside the frame was a cup sleeve from Crema and I wrote three things: Remember the out, Surrender fear for trust, and Amos 5:21. It sat on my desk at church from March will June right next to my computer where I saw it every day. I was looking at it back in October and realized that deep down I think I knew in March that I would leave my church and end up in Nashville. I went home from that trip and wrote this post. Five months later Nashville was home.

It truly amazes me just how different life turns out than what we imagined. If you would have asked me New Year’s Day 2010 what the year ahead would hold, I don’t know that there is too much I would have accurately predicted. For the first time in I think six years I am not involved in planning and executing a worship service on Christmas Eve. I left a church I had never imagined leaving, moved to a city I’d never visited before this year but for which I was homesick after my first short visit. This year I have lost more old friends and gained more new friends in one year than I think any previous one. I am ending the year fighting for relationship over religion realizing I cannot serve both of those masters. I have been cut and pruned and broken. But I have also been restored and healed. God has redeemed some incredibly hurtful and difficult experiences and restored relationships, demonstrating once again just how faithful He is.

I have more questions now than I did in January and more questions than answers. I am apprehensive about the risks God has planned for me I am also extremely excited. I have incredible excitement for the movement of God through His Church in the years ahead. Because at the end of the day I have hope. I have hope for the world, hope for the Church, and hope for my own life because this year God has shown His faithfulness time and time again.

Visiting Nashville wasn’t in my plan. Quitting my job at my church wasn’t in my plan. Moving to a new city in a new state in a completely different part of the country wasn’t in my plan. But honestly, it all makes me pretty glad that I am not in control because I like His plan a whole lot better.