Tag Archives: community

Where Dreams Flourish

Home. That’s always been somewhat of an abstract, whimsical…almost fairytale-like concept for me. Something that deep down I think I longed for but didn’t ever believe I would have.

Growing up with divorced parents was a life of multiple addresses. I added another to that list when I moved away from home to go to high school. And yet another for college. At one point I think my checking account had one address, my driver’s license another, my car registration a different one yet…and none of them were the actual address of where I was living. (You might be understanding why “home” didn’t seem like a very concrete idea.)

Then I visited Nashville. 72 hours later back in Wisconsin I was homesick for this city – for the spirit of this city.

Most days this place feels so much like home I hardly know what to do with it. I can’t believe I haven’t lived here all of my life. There are days I still awake waiting to violently wake up from a dream. Life today far exceeds anything I could have ever dreamed up because it is outside the box of anything I knew for so long.

I’ve discovered in this process, that something happens to our dreams when not only our hearts but our feet find a place that feels like home – they flourish. They flourish because we’re no longer putting our hope in them to “get us somewhere.”

When we come home our dreams are free to follow. They may hand us a map but we’re free to lead them in the direction we want to go. That’s hard to do when you’re wandering around lost looking for home as you drive in circles.

Has your heart found a place that feels like home? A word to the wise – community has more to do with that than location. It’s about cultivating relationships to surround yourself with a spirit that encourages the unconventional & champions dreamers. 


Resolve to Live a Life You Can Be Proud Of

From the very first post I ever wrote about Nashville, to deciding to take a giant leap into the unknown just a couple months later,  this city has been home.

When I say the day I moved to Nashville is more of a reason to celebrate than my birthday I truly mean that…I don’t care how cliche it sounds. That move was the start of truly living for me. It was completely unexpected but has truly transformed me more than any other event in my life.

I have found healing …both physically & in my heart.
I’ve discovered the intersection of justice & community.
I’ve learned to live life in all of its messy layers.
I’ve learned what it is to savor life in relationship.
I’m learning what it means to embrace the beautiful mystery of tension.
I’ve learned to sit in the space in between rather than being distracted by the next thing.
I’ve learned to love more deeply from the community of people I get to live life with.

This city has wooed me. And celebrating two years here today is just as incredible & unreal as celebrating one year was. When I look back on my story of my life I see how He has connected all of the dots…how everything that seemed random to me belonged in His plan.

When I stop to think about life over the last two years it is so full my heart is overwhelmed. By His goodness. His plans. His provision. The community He has surrounded me with. It is a story I never even imagined or dreamed, and for that I am grateful beyond words. Sometimes He asks us to go simply so we can find life…so we can come alive. All we have to do is respond.

So if you feel like you’re going through the motions, like you’ve lost the person God created you to be; if you’re frustrated with what is & feel like He’s given you a dream for what could be, take a step out of the boat, live in a place where miracles are necessary, & trust that He wants you to do more than survive. Resolve to embrace every bit of the risk & vulnerability of failing & bring hurt by love in order to live fully awake to the joy of life.


Profoundly Ordinary Moments

I’ve written about them before. That special group of people that gathers on Sunday evenings whom I haven’t quite found the words to describe just yet.

But perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps “community” is a sufficient description because to dissect it any further would only remove the mysterious yet tangible beautiful spirit of those people.

The thing I love most about that community is the moments. The profoundly ordinary ones.

This past Sunday it was dancing in the rain. Yes, a dozen or so 20 & 30 somethings dancing outside in the pouring rain, thunder crashing, lightening flashing. For a moment I think every one of us was fully alive. Experiencing the joy of being present. Laughing as we jumped wholeheartedly into the moment like carefree children.

I truly believe it’s the profoundly ordinary moments…the ones too simple for words… ultimately shape us. The ones whose beauty can’t accurately be summed up, only felt. The life in between the milestones that sustains & nourishes us.

Can I encourage you to look for those moments in your life this week? They’re waiting with an open hand inviting you to come in & sit down for a moment to savor them. 

I Think I Found the Secret

It was 2 years ago today. I was on the road somewhere between Indianapolis & Nashville. It was a cool but full of sunshine morning & my first mission after checking out of the Super 8 I’d stopped at around 12:30am the night before was to find a Starbucks. A few exits down the interstate with a Caramel Machiatto in hand & my soundtrack set I was ready for the drive to Nashville.

I was on mission “Take a Break from Appleton” & in the middle of wrestling about what to do with the my life. Would I stay at the church I was working at or leave? 6 weeks prior I had been in Nashville when God punched me in the gut with a stranger’s question which left me reeling as I realized I had been ignoring His still small voice for months now.

Truth be told, somewhere my head knew that it was time to move on & my heart knew it was no longer at home in Appleton, but the two hadn’t yet communicated with one another. That phone call or email or text message…whatever it was…came on I-65 somewhere south of Indy that morning. I don’t remember a lightening strike “ah ha” moment, but I know that when I arrived in Nashville later that day I told a friend I had come to peace with the decision to leave my job.

I didn’t know, then, that it was possible for a city to woo me. For a city to be a community that would teach me relationship. For a community to be people that would teach me what it meant to truly do life with others.

I was at the Nashville Public Library yesterday & was taken by this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on the wall:

At last I’d found words that seemed to perfectly answer the question “why.” Why Nashville? Two years later I now know that it’s because a city wooed me. And a city can woo me because a city is a community. And the movement that has taken place in this community I know today is love. Love that encourages, supports, challenges, & ultimately inspires. If there’s a secret, I think that’s it. And for me, that secret has made all the difference.

I also discovered a challenge on Saturday at the library:

It’s pointless to discover the secret if it doesn’t move me to action. And the time for action isn’t when I go on a hunt for a new secret in a new city in another lifetime. No, the time is now. The place is here. If I’ve been inspired then I’d best do something with it.


Throwback Sundays…Learning to Love. Discovering Community. Living Justice.

When I go and sit on the floor in a big circle as we gather for a devotion before heading out I am overwhelmed at what is around me. It’s a group of mostly 20 & 30 somethings, all with incredibly different stories, all from different churches…some not from any church. No one comes out of obligation. No one is getting credit for being there. They come compelled by one thing: love. And that love is the foundation of a community not just among those of us serving but the people we serve as well. It’s grown in size since I first visited but it still feels like a big group of friends getting together to cook some food and give it to those in need. A community strung together by love and a heart for justice. (full original post here)

Parts of that community have thoroughly bled over into other areas of my life here in Nashville. And I love that. Although I haven’t been with them in a while, that community still holds a special place in my heart. I will forever remember it as a group of people & a shared experienced that altered the course of my life.

Do you have communities like that in your life? I’d love to hear their stories!

They Chose to Rewrite the Ending

“I’ll sing the song if you can play it on the guitar,” he said.

A google search later on a nearby iPhone & chords were in the guitar player’s hand.

“Let’s do it,” she said.

He stumbled through the first few notes…off-key & out of rhythm. Forgetting the words as he went. It was an embarrassing train-wreck in the making. A potential ego boost for the rest of the room.

But they chose to rewrite the ending of this story.

First the guitarist joined in, then the redhead on the couch, another “I love to sing but I’m not a singer” guy, next the long-haired blonde with an accent…soon the entire group was singing. A classic that had high school flashbacks playing in all of our minds.

Instead of embarrassment the ending was one of community. When he began to stumble…to lose the melody…the group quickly stepped in to carry him along for a bit. It may sound silly, but I see Jesus in these moments clear as day. His love & his life feel tangible for just a moment. 

I can’t guarantee you that all of those people in the room knew who Love is, but they certainly seemed to know what it means to live love. And I have a group of strangers to thank for helping me see Love just a bit more clearly…if even only for a moment.