Five Minute Friday: Distant

Gentle Reader,

No idea where the last two weeks went. Hours lost to the same black hole that eats socks and hair accessories, I suppose. I thought I’d have a lot of time for writing, but nope. Here, there, and everywhere went I, and any moments left over have been dedicated to sleeping, because summer camp is next week and sleep is not a thing I will not likely do for four nights.

May the odds be ever in my favor.

Kate says: distant.

Go.

Part of my heart has been roaming around Utah, Arizona, and California, traveling with my beloved youth group. They explored Arches National Park, attended a conference with 8,000-plus other teens, participated in service projects, spent two days in Disneyland, splashed around in the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach and are now making their way home. I didn’t get to go on this trip, as I stubbornly dragged my feet in responding to God’s leading, but I thought I was okay with that until the vans pulled out of the church parking lot two Sundays ago.

It wasn’t the trip itself I minded missing, because I am not a woman who ever wants to go hang out in the desert in the middle of summer. It was them. I missed them.

And so I am thankful for the beast that is technology, because

Good news from a distant land is like cold water to a parched throat.

– Proverbs 25:25 (CSB)

They kept me in the loop. Shared pictures, stories, and videos. Called me a few times, both to vent about things that would make anyone cranky when it’s 114 degrees and you’re operating on very little sleep, and to share their joy as they began to hear God’s voice. That, indeed, is the best part. God is still speaking, still working. Still drawing people in.

My dear ones learned that they are not the future of the Church, but that they are the Church right now. I am delighted that they heard this message and I can’t wait to see how they begin to take ownership of their place and role. I am excited to walk alongside them as they continue to grow.

Teens are not a lost cause, you see. They aren’t useless. They can be used by God to impact their communities for His glory and everyone’s good, just as adults can. Yes, I am human and no saint and there are moments when it’s awfully tempting to walk away because they can test you like nobody else can (especially middle schoolers), but they need me. And they need you. They need those of us who are a little farther down the path to hold out our hands and pull them up alongside us. They need us to show them how and why to follow Jesus.

I am excited for them to return from the distant land. Excited to hear all the details of their grand adventure. Excited to hug them. Excited for new relationships began with Jesus and old relationships deepened.

That, I think, is one of the little miracles, the subtle touches of God’s hand, that we don’t always notice. A year ago I would have never imagined I’d feel this way or be so invested in their lives. I had purposefully distanced myself from many people because of deep hurt. I can’t say that I’m completely healed, but I can say that the in-process work of the Spirit lies in bridging the distance, in moving me toward when I want to pull away.

Simply, God is good. He has given me a beautiful, complex family, one for which I never thought to ask.

Stop.

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Five Minute Friday: Promise

Along the Way Graphic Template

Gentle Reader,

I fell asleep around 6:30 p.m. last night. Woke up at 8:15, feeling confused but also deeply at one with the blanket. And I wasn’t the only one; my dog, traumatized by his visit to the groomer’s earlier in the week, snored loudly.

Kate says: promise.

Go.

I’m not a runner. I’ll do just about any other kind of physical activity. Hiking, Pilates, kickboxing, weight lifting, dancing, swimming. Hardly the best at any of these, but I’ll do them. Running, though? If nobody is chasing me, what’s the point? (And if somebody was chasing me, good chance I’d go all “deer in the headlights,” anyway). I’m just not competitive enough, with myself or others.

And yet I am a runner.

Youth ministry crashed into my life like a tornado a few months ago, almost as if God said, “Yeah, so, you’re going to stop avoiding this now.” Why He plopped these beautiful people in my lap, I’ll never know for sure, because nobody thinks “youth leader” when they look at me. Too anxious. Too reserved. Too studious. Too always trying to hide a highly sensitive heart behind an analytical, detached exterior.

Ah, but He who began the good work in me sees it through (Philippians 1:6).

That’s a promise to which we can hold. God’s ways are not our ways. His plans are not our plans. He sees things in us that we don’t see in ourselves. When we stop running, and give ourselves over to Him, we experience the strange combination of energy and rest. Passion to do what He made us to do. Peace in knowing that we do not do it in our own strength.

Why this and why me? I have no idea. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s enough for me to just say “yes” and love these people. And I do love them, fiercely. Like the proverbial mama bear, I watch as they take faltering steps to truly form community, to truly engage with the Gospel, and I know that I cannot and will not allow anything to mess with that or them, even if that means I have to access my not-so-gentle side and come out swinging.

They have my heart.

And I realize that them having it means that God has it, perhaps in a way He never has before, because i have not allowed Him to pull and stretch me like this. I have held onto the false promises of low expectations and safety.

Now?

I cling to the promise of life, rich and full, found in Him.

Stop.

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Worthwhile: Creating a Life of Purpose & Joy in Infertility

Gentle Reader,

“Are you really a woman if you can’t have a baby?”

I’ve been asked this question, in one form or another, many times. It’s on the rude end of the spectrum, and I admit to responding with equal rudeness on occasion. But mostly, I get it. The general assumption, especially within the Christian community, is that woman equals one who gives birth. This is God’s design.

“You must have sinned in a major way. God must be mad at you.”

The bolder sort move from the question to these assertions, which never fails to leave me wondering what Bible people are reading. The God I know is the essence of grace, love and truth. He is not vindictive. He doesn’t engage in tit-for-tat. Can you imagine if He did? We’d all be lost.

This, my friend, is why we must know our theology well…

To read the rest, head on over to Rachel Marie Lee’s site. While you’re there, stay awhile. You’ll find encouragement and hope in her words. Grateful to Rachel for sharing her space with me!

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Five Minute Friday: Reward

Gentle Reader,

When did life get so heckin’ busy?

It’s weird, though. I am so very tired, and yet I have this bubbling energy. Perhaps a new facet of this thing called “joy.” Definitely need a nap or five. Wouldn’t turn down a day at the spa, complete with full-body massage. But I want to go and do and see. Have some adventures.

That’s why I get mad at my body. It consistently lags behind my spirit. Recently I decided that I’d like to climb a mountain, but these bones and muscles are all, “Yeah, how about no?” Annoying. But I’m gonna do it someday. Just you wait and see.

In the midst of all the busyness, I really have missed my writing people the last two weeks. You all speak grace, life and love into my soul. You are the Jesus-kids, the God-folks, the Spirit-poets.

Kate says: reward.

Go.

I can’t see for crap in the dark. Not that I see that well when it’s light; depth perception is not something I’m known for. Hashtag running into things and hashtag always a bruise somewhere. That’s why I suck at sports. Oh, I’ll play, and I’ll have fun, but I’m not going to score the winning goal or anything.

I’m also easily frightened. I’ve seen a grand total of two horror movies in my life, and don’t plan to see any others. Once made the mistake of watching a documentary about Jack the Ripper one night, all alone, because history is great, and I couldn’t even finish it. Give me comedy, always, or give me drama, but nothing scary, please.

So when I got invited to a young friend’s birthday party yesterday, and found out that she wanted to play a game inspired by the movie The Quiet Place, inside the pitch-black church…I was the opposite of into that. But this friend is awesome, and I love her so much, so I accessed what little bit of courage I have and joined in.

As the lights went out and I went to station myself in the sound booth, the first thing I did was smack into a wall. Much grace. Such style.

The game progressed. At one point I made my way cautiously down the very not-up-any-building-code-ever stairs. Because some new people in my life have discovered that it’s easy to make me jump, and this is funny to them, I about fainted when I came around a corner and encountered one of the “monsters,” who walked away chuckling. A bit later, this same monster made a noise and hit me with a pool noodle, which resulted in me gasping and kicking, and my ankle connected with a table that was inconveniently placed.

Honestly, it was pretty funny – once the shock and the “I’m going to die!” passed.

And so I’m full of warm, fuzzy feelings today. Relationships – they are the reward. Possessions, they don’t matter. I’m not going to look back and think, “I’m so glad I bought ______.” I will, however, always remember fondly the night I played a silly game with some teens and a few adults who consistently behave like teens. (We do have our serious, mature, adult-y moments). I will always be glad to have spent those hours eating cake, laughing, conspiring with my soul mate and wrapping my arms around the birthday girl.

That’s a shift for me. Not the understanding that people are what counts. But desiring to fully invest in new relationships. Insecure, shy, timid – those have all been words for me in the past. I’m working out what it looks like to break through those self-imposed barriers and be a woman who embraces life. Because I just want to love. And love is bold.

Stop.

Of course that was longer than five minutes, but everyone in this group constantly breaks that rule. Sorry, Kate!

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