Thursday, October 28, 2010

How much?

"Tell us, if there were one thing we could do for your village, what would that be?"
"With all respect, Sahib, you have little to teach us in strength and toughness. And we don't envy you your restless spirits. Perhaps we are happier than you? But we would like our children to go to school. Of all the things you have, learning is the one we most desire for our children."
- Conversation between Sir Edmund Hillary and Urkien Sherpa, from Schoolhouse in the Clouds
(Three Cups of Tea)

Have it all figured out yet? Or are you still learning?
Oh the gift of learning, how we take it for granted at times...

While I was away, I missed out on my niece and nephew's, notorious question stage. You know the one, where every sentence ends with "why?" and you begin to believe there is no way to make it stop. It feels as though someone recorded this one word and then jammed the repeat button.

Soon that stage passes and relief comes only to be followed by the "nothing" stage, which I am pretty positive some of us never grow out of.

What did you learn today?..."nothing." What did you do today?..."nothing." And I think to myself, really? So you really did nothing today? You learned nothing today? How sad.

I know that this is not true. But for some of us adults, we do choose to go through each day, our same old routine, not open to new thoughts and ideas, not willing to learn and challenge ourselves. And that is sad.

When we stop learning, challenging ourselves, embracing new experiences, asking real questions, searching to understand Truth, we miss out on so much, we miss out on the depth GOD wants to take us. We miss out on Life.

"Are we willing to let GOD explode our comfort zone and expand our capacity for him? Or do we want a GOD we can manage? Unfortunately, a lot of the time that is exactly what we want - enough of GOD to make us happy, but not enough to make us change. We'd never say it, but our attitude is just what Wilbur Rees had in mind when he wrote: I would like to buy $3 worth of GOD, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine..."
(Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World)

How much do you want? How much do you choose to take? How much do you choose to give?

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Whom Do You Answer?

Lately, I've found myself faced with several decisions or situations that challenge my integrity. Some of these situations can be easily overlooked, considered "no big deal", or might even seem to be a norm in society. But I believe those are the ones that challenge us the most.

I've been studying Proverbs. Two passages caught my attention in their similarities, yet they are vastly different.

Proverbs 8:1-6 - Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city all the entrances, she cries aloud; To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say.

and the the chapter continues explaining wisdom.

Then I come to Proverbs 9:11-18 - The woman Folly is loud; She is undisciplined and without knowledge. She sits at the door of her house on the seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way. "Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgement. "Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!" But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.

You see, both call out! Both offer you something. Even folly can imitate "good" or a "shortcut" that can be justified. But to whom do you answer?

It is easy to take a seat with Folly, to get that "deserved" rest, or drink of stolen water for that is what you are "owed" in an unfair world, or even eat the secret food that you are able to get away with or maybe you just think to yourself, "I'm a good person in the long run...I can think of much worse things others have done..."

Does it really matter in the scheme of things?

Maybe some things we can get away with. Maybe some of these situations won't greatly affect the world. But your character is affected. Integrity is overrided by duplicity.

Proverbs 11:3 - The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

I've really been learning what it means to develop the characteristics of Christ, for He is in us. I'm definitely not perfect nor do I always make the right decisions, but I'm choosing to be aware of my actions, my thoughts, my decisions and the way they display the characteristics of Christ. What am I reflecting?

Wisdom calls out...Folly is loud...To whom do I answer? To whom do you answer?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One of Those Moments #3...

It is officially fall and I can't resist being outside. As I
approached an older couple on a walk, this is what I observed. This is what I appreciated.

They walked slowly, no rush, arm in arm, taking there time to look around. Light conversation took place between them as they glanced and smiled at each other. Every few steps, he lightly patted her hand, almost seemed to indicate..."I'm here with you."

They approached a busy intersection and she hesitated. He stepped out, looked both ways, and when it was clear, stretched his hand out inviting hers to join his so that he may lead her. As she took his had, he squeezed it tight and led her across the street safely until they reached the other side where they rejoined their arms.

I turned down another street, remembering the sincerity of this moment.

He still leads and protects her, and she still trusts. They Love.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I've Got My Stone...

and I'm not backing down.

I remember the week George R. came to share with us, to teach us, and to challenge us in our dreams and plans. He made us think. He guided us. He questioned us to see if we would back down. Some felt it was an intense week, others felt ready. Either way, it was great preparation.

For now I'm home, still carrying out the plans laid out, still pressing on, still very much passionate about that dream in my heart which will be reality, and yet still living in the present. But, lately I've faced some challenges. In a particular area of my life, I've felt as though I have been asked to jump through certain hoops, put through one test after another. And it continues...

I'll admit, I struggled a bit with the pressure and frustration of it all. But as I ran today, I began to really take my thoughts captive. I know this is part of the path, and how could I consider turning away because it gets a little challenging?

I saw the stone in my hand.

When David faced his giant, he used one stone. So what is my stone?

HIS purpose for my life.

I saw the preparation GOD provided as last night I had the amazing opportunity to share of my experience at the G42 Leadership Academy, to share my passions and dreams, to share my heart with some great women.

I've got my stone. I have purpose. And I declare now that I will not back down. I declare that I will give my all without complaining. I declare now that I will persevere with appreciation and gratitude for the great things around me, in me, and through this experience.

I've got my stone...what is yours?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Who We Are

It's been one of those of those weeks where everything hits you, doubt can sink in, and there are moments where you just battle with the reality of where you are. Hope and faith exist and remain, but must be held tightly for it would be easy to let go.

And there she was. My sister, who even through her own pressures of life and family, looked beyond herself to an awareness of me, reaching out to me with such encouragement which has always been evident in who she is. She provided such uplifting words, challenged me and held me accountable, and made time to sit and listen to me, to understand.

I heard her words, which were what I needed to hear, but mostly it was what was in her presence that kept me grounded in the truth I know, the acceptance I have, and the person I am. It was the hope that was coming off of her. It was the peace the was overflowing from her. It was the love which she freely gives that was coming through her. It was just simply her.

And I found this to be true even with friends who are miles away from me. Friends who provided specific words for me this week, shared them willingly, who were aware of what they needed to speak, and what I needed to hear.

I was so appreciative of such love that I reflected on the question Andrew Shearman would ask us, "What is coming off of you?" and
I ask, "What is coming through you?", because it is the core of who we are that is to be seen, to be given, to be shared...for Christ is in us.

Sometimes we let fear hold us back from this awareness of others, reaching out to others, trusting the Spirit to guide us. We try to think of something wise and profound to say or we keep silent. We don't have a plan of action to help someone, so we do nothing. When most of the time, what is needed is simply...WHO WE ARE.

Friday, September 10, 2010

One of Those Moments #2...

Needing some time to clear my head, to sort out some thoughts, to just be, I went for a walk around the river walk. With our fall like temperatures lately, it was a beautiful day to do this and was greatly needed. I found myself a somewhat secluded area to just rest, think, and listen.

And there he was.

I looked to my left to see an older gentleman possibly in his late 80's sitting on a bench just watching the water. In his lap laid a notebook just waiting to be used. I watched him for a bit as he was similar to that notebook as he too was just waiting for something...maybe for someone particular, maybe just someone to talk to, or maybe he too just needed some time away to think, to be.

And then he came.

This younger gentleman approached the bench, yet sat on the very opposite side of the bench as far from the older man as possible. His music heard loudly through his headphones that even I could make out the song and at the same time he was texting someone on his cell phone. He sat there for a minute or two oblivious to those around him until the old man shifted causing the bench to shake a bit. The young man looked up at the older gentleman and they both smiled. He took off his headphones and put his cell phone away. And they sat there quietly.

The old man then began conversation with an introduction and pleasant greeting in which the young man replied with niceties and so the conversation continued. Before I knew it, they had moved closer together and they were laughing and having an interesting debate on the best way to make paper airplanes. With the young man contributing his knowledge on the advances of science, the older gentleman sharing his wisdom and firmness of the true and steady classics, and the papers of the notebook being ripped out and used one by one to prove one another's point, it seems that a simple interaction as this, can turn any day around. Even just by my observance of it, did I remember the way can choose to seeing the one right next to us!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dispersed but not Disabled

(The thoughts expressed are specifically addressed to my G42 community, but I hope it challenges others who read it as well.)

Change, as we know, is inevitable. And yet, it still surprises us when it happens. It can stir up doubt, fear, concern, and seem to hinder us if we allow. I sit here thinking about the conversations I have had with my community from Spain. It has been such a joy to me to be able to skype, email, text, and call those who I grew close with during the past 6 months. Those whose friendships challenged and encouraged me...

and continue to, though we may be miles away from each other.

Each relationship is different and each person is facing their own challenges and their own accomplishments and steps forward as they continue living out their dreams, passions, Lives. Each one unique as we are all unique.

But the truth is, struggles do exist. Why is it that location and physical distance tend to turn us upside down for some time, tend to stir up confusion? We know it isn't where we are that defines us. It isn't who is right next to us that tells us who we are. Have we lost our voice because we are now in a new area, or location? In fact, this is when we should be speaking. Now. Among our friends and family, where ever we are, who ever we are with. Does GOD still choose to use us though we may not be physically together? Absolutely, for it is you HE chooses. It is you. Just as it is me.

We may be dispersed around the world, but we are not disabled. For we are still a community. There is support. There is friendship. There is Life...and Love. And it isn't because we all live within walking distance of each other (though I must admit, was quite wonderful), but because we are living the lives we are called to live. As I continue to reflect on this, I can't stop being reminded of the freedom that is abundant in Love. Love that draws us together, but allows us to grow, to be, to Live.

I learn more about this as I travel between homes throughout the week. Where I am is where I am to be. And I will speak what I am to speak; I will encourage where I am to encourage; I will challenge where I am to challenge, and I will be me, confident in the Love of God and the Love of community.

As we are dispersed around the world, let us Live in this confidence. For we are not disabled, but empowered.