Tag Archives: Life

Waiting on the Kingdom

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I used to be a waitress.

I can honestly say that I not only enjoyed it, but I miss it from time to time.  It’s one of the few things I have come across in my life that came very naturally and easily to me; I did it well. 

Waitressing, for me, was never really a job, it was an outlet.

Talking and listening to people feeds something in me that I can’t quiet describe. I jump at opportunities to serve people because I like to feel needed.  I like to do for people what they can not do for themselves and waitressing seemed to supply that environment for me.

I couldn’t have asked for a better setting either. Whitefish, Montana is one of the most breathtaking places in the United States.  Something about that place beckons people to come and be a part of it. It invites and then transcends every expectation.  And tens of thousands of people from all over the world flock there every summer to witness it for themselves. 

Rumors of its beauty, tales of its grandeur, and pictures that attempt to capture its essence compel people to go and see if such a place exists.  It demands, and rightfully deserves, to be experienced personally.

Waiting on tables of visitors that had just come from Glacier National Park always brought a smile to my face. They were exuberant.  The views there will do that to you.  The air will leave you feeling exhilarated. The breeze will woo you and the fragrance of wildflowers will intoxicate you.

Back to waitressing.

Tourist and locals alike seemed to always come into the restaurant after their adventures famished. Exposure to that much beauty is exhausting.  Many weren’t prepared for the altitude adjustment.  Others didn’t hydrate properly to compensate for the dry climate.  Still others didn’t prepare for the hiking to be quite as exhaustive and so they didn’t eat enough.

They all came looking for sustenance. They needed to be replenished.  They needed nourishment. They needed rest. It’s not that they couldn’t have gone home to cook for themselves, it’s that they didn’t have the energy.

Being a waitress reminded me a whole lot of church.

Isn’t that what people come looking for? A promise of God that will quench their need for assurance? A truth that will satisfy their hunger for hope?  A bench to sit and rest on with others who are travelling the same road?  And a waitress (or waiter) that will be happy to accept them, serve them, and bring them love enough for the next day’s journey?

We’re all waiters. We are all called to serve what we know: Grace. Freedom. Forgiveness. Joy. Hope. Peace. Life. Love.

Some of us are openers. We meet people before they have ever even heard of this place called church. We give them directions.

Some of us are scheduled for the mid-afternoon lull. We have the opportunity to pay careful attention to the customers who come in alone and stay long.

And some of us are closers. We’re there for the evening time rush.  We have seven tables instead of three.  We get to serve the customers with complicated orders.  And we’ll stay there as long as they haven’t paid their bill.

All shifts are equally important, all serve a necessary purpose.

So whether you open, close, or keep the old company in the corner booth after the lunch hour, never forget you were scheduled for your shift for a reason.

Junior High Flashback… Tragic

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Remember Junior high? Remember how awkward it was?  Too old for elementary school, and secure enough in your multiplication tables that Algebra was the logical next step, but still too young for high school and not prepared for Pre-Cal. Junior high was an abyss of identity; an unmistakable black hole of self-esteem. A time and place void of reason, purpose, or the promise of a place where rumors didn’t dictate lunch table placement. 

Junior high was this really tragic middle ground; this era in adolescence that was comprised of being completely insecure in how you look, totally unaware of who you really are, and painstakingly afraid of every recess period for fear of not being picked to play with the “cool girls.”

Or at least that my was junior high experience. And you couldn’t pay me to go back. There is nothing about that time that I would want to relive. I had braces… and a head gear. I had a lot of baby fat (how long can I continue to claim that, by the way?). I had a severe ugly phase for, well, a really long time. I had one girl friend and absolutely no guy friends. I got along better with my teachers than I did my peers.  And I wasn’t the brightest crayon in the coloring box.

But we all know that those years, and the insecurities that they bring, pass with time, fade with maturity, and are overcome in large part with experience. We’re better for them; stronger because of them. My teeth are now perfectly straight and my jaw accurately aligned. I won’t touch the baby fat comment. I have more friends now, people who know who I really am and still stick around. I have a job that I am good at.  Because as it turns out, it’s not really about what you know, but how malleable you are; how quickly you can adapt and learn.

But then, years later, the cousin’s of prior insecurities find you and camp out in your front yard.  To what am I referring? The adult version of junior high: being a “twenty-something.”

Being a twenty-something lands you on a very familiar playground to the ones of your past. The abyss is no longer about who you are, it’s about what you are supposed to be doing. What career path to choose? what job to settle for instead in order to pay the bills? what dream you let die because it’s irrational or improbable? These are all now decisions you have to make in order to answer the question “what is my role in society?”

The black-hole of self-esteem still lingers unfortunately. Turns out the cousin is more like a twin. It’s not because you don’t know who you are though; it’s because you don’t know if who you are is enough. You don’t know if who you are will be accepted in the work place as “qualified.” You don’t know if who you really are will succeed. The black hole of self-esteem asks the question, “Does who you really are have what it takes? If you are your true self, how far will it get you?”

The tragic middle ground now revolves around what part of the social spectrum you belong too. I am no longer a college student, but there are in fact some people who are my age and still in college.  It’s a growing trend, and they’re not all becoming doctors.

I have only been working for two full years, which means that I am not eligible for 99% of non-entry level jobs, because so many require at least 3-5 years experience in a given field. 

The government told me I could legally vote and smoke at 18. The FDA told me I could legally drink at 21.  Insurance and car rentals companies won’t trust me until I’m 25.  And I’m pretty sure Uncle Sam started stealing from my piggy bank, day one. 

So how do I know how to categorize myself? I fit here and there… and yet nowhere at all.

I’ve noticed the same thing in churches (with the exception of the piggy bank stealing).

There’s “college and twenty-somethings” classes. There’s “young married couples” classes and there’s “working professionals” classes.  But I really don’t fit into any category for the following reasons:

1. Twenty-somethings and college students don’t have anything in common. The year after I graduated was a crash course in life, adulthood, bills, etc. Getting a job meant not making up your own schedule so as to have every Friday off. I was no longer assigned homework because what was expected of me was to be done immediately. And there was no such thing as extra credit– you do it right the first time. I was an employee, a colleague, and a participant; the days of spectating and taking notes were over. It was game time. All engines go, full throttle.

2. If you have read this blog more than once, chances are that you have picked up the little hints that, I am SUPER single.  Ergo, joining a “young married’s” class would get me… depressed.

3. The “young working professional’s” classes are somewhat deceiving.  They are in fact working professionals, but being called “young” is relative. If they’re compared to 80 year olds, than sure, they’re young whipper-snappers alright. But in most instances, the agee range here is defined to “between 28-40.”  My friends and I like to call these classes the “meat market”– Older singles who really don’t want to be single anymore.

And we’re back to the original question; given our options, where do I fit? In what group do I belong? With whom can I share the most practical and relevant life experiences? Where can I, by simply converting oxygen to CO2, contribute to others?

I have resolved that it is yet to be determined, but I am anxious to hear your thoughts and opinions.

I Do What I Want

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I went to a private Christian college. Bibles were text books and Jesus was a professor. Every class started with prayer. Week night curfews were midnight, and weekend curfews were 12:30am. Maximum “PDA” allowed on campus was holding hands. “Ring by Spring” was a mantra among female students and nearly every male student was either a missions or pastoral major. It was a breeding ground for… crazy. 

But for all intents and purposes, it was an incredible academic experience and I’m grateful to have been educated in such an institution. The difference between knowing God and walking with Christ became clear, and I chose the latter.  Looking back, one of my favorite classes was Basic Apologetics.  Two semesters of it was required for students upon graduation.

Everything was covered from theology to philosophy to politics to economics to current social trends in music, movies, and media. No stone was left unturned. And, for most subject matter, there was always a portion of the class that was dedicated to open discussion among peers.

There were several noteworthy days in that class that I recall with some clarity, but there is one specifically that stands out more vividly than the rest.

Professor Honeycutt posed this question–“How will you know who you will marry?  How will you know what job you should take when you graduate? How will you know which house or car is really the best choice for you and your family? How will you know what you are really supposed to be doing with your life? How will you know?”

The class of 500 students sat still and quiet. And because the same question had plagued me relentlessly since I had graduated from high school, I started tearing up. I have no idea, man! That’s why I’m here! I thought to myself. I sank in my chair as I realized that all the answers I had come to college to find would not be uncovered. I had been deceived. I had been led to believe that college would fill in so many blanks; shed light in the darkness; bring reason to seeming disarray, and ultimately, tell me who I was. I want my money back, please, I thought as I sat waiting for the professor to answer his own question.  Finally he spoke.

“Let me make this easy on you.  If you love the Lord above all else; if you seek His will above yours; if your heart’s desire is more of His heart; if your hope and faith is in Christ, His free gift of grace and the power of His resurrection; and if you savor His word, then… do what you want.”

*blank stare* Blasphemy! I thought. I didn’t pay for this kind of hedonism! Do what I want? Where does it say that in the Bible, huh?

He went on to explain, using countless biblical references, just how the heart and soul of a person who comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is transformed– made new and made different, from the inside out.  The life giving power of grace, the freedom that comes with faith, and the relationship with God that blooms as a product of complete surrender, brings about a new heart, new desires, and a mind that is renewed by the Holy Spirit.

Life is no longer a reaction to the world or sin.  Rather, life in Christ is a response to a good and gracious God, a sovereign Lord that rules and reigns as He pleases.  And as His subjects, we learn to want what He wants.  We learn how to speak as He does, with truth in love.  We learn to love like He does, unabashedly and unconditionally. We become more like Him as we seek and find Him. 

We can’t help it.  We are overcome. We must give way. It’s just like breathing.

Inhaling is necessary, just like grace. You breath deep, filling your lungs with oxygen, the life to your blood.  Exhaling releases what your body did with that oxygen– it is the action that completes the process of breathing. 

To accept grace demands that you release it through your actions.  To drink deeply of the grace that has been lavished on you necessitates that you release what grace did. 

Grace saved your soul.  Grace accepted you when no one else would. Grace redeemed you when on one else could. Grace loved you when no one else wanted to.

And the beauty of grace is this– there’s no payment required.  All God asks for is your whole-hearted acceptance. 

And that changes everything.

Happy Birthday… to Me & Jesus

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Since when do birthdays have to be once a year?

Exactly two years ago I did something pretty stupid. I moved to Colorado Springs– a city with a population of roughly 500,000 people… and I didn’t know a single one of ’em.

Exactly two years ago, I moved to a city I had never been to, in a state that I only visited once a year for my family’s Christmas vacation.

Exactly two years ago, I graduated from college with  a degree in Business Marketing and no job in which to use my mad marketing skills.

Exactly two years ago, God divinely intervened into my pathetic and boring life and stirred things up a bit.  Two years ago, God picked me up and set me down in a foreign land.

Exactly two years ago, God told me about poverty and those who live in it.

Two years ago, God broke my heart and opened my eyes to where His heart is and what His eyes see and what He wants me to do about.

Two years ago, God showed my Compassion. And then He showed me how to have compassion.

Now, two years later, I’m working at Compassion International trying to figure out how to do life like Christ wants me to; trying to see what love looks like; and finally discovering day by day, how much of me I don’t need and how much of Him I really want.

Two years ago, I celebrated the birth of a new heart, unveiled eyes, and a changed life. 

Two years ago, I learned how much I don’t need and how little is needed for those that have nothing.

Two years ago, I was set free from me.

Here’s to two more years– may God continue to wreck this heart.

Heart Check

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In light of growing up in a christian home, going to christian schools and colleges and now working for a christian organization, I sometimes find I need to fight to remember the passion I have for my faith.  Not to say I have considered leaving it for another. To whom else would I turn?  Seeking another is not optional. Rather, having been so saturated by theology, doctrine, and scripture that I used to have to memorize for finals, I am weary that I will lose the aroma of the person of Christ that first captivated my heart.

What I have found to refresh and renew my heart’s affections is simply remembering who He is.  Because in remembering who He is, I discover who I am.  And in realizing my identity is not based on my own abilities or accomplishments but instead determined by His ownership of my soul, life and freedom are restored.

To No Missed Opportunities

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You know the saying “life’s too short”? Well, my friend Jourdan and I have decided that we don’t want to say that and mean it.  We don’t want to say it  because we missed out on once-in-a-lifetime chances; we don’t want to say that we turned down opportunities for adventure and excitement all because we were a little scared or unsure of what the end result may be.

My dad once said that he had not regrets, only lessons learned. Personally, I think that’s a brilliant perspective, and I’ve decided to adopt that motto for myself (thank Daddy)–I don’t want to regret anything, but I don’t want to be afraid to learn a lesson or two the hard way either.  In my relatively short stint on earth thus far, going on 24 years, I have come to the conclusion that life isn’t really life, that is to say it’s not being lived fully alive, if you don’t mess up time and again; if  you don’t go out on a limb and take a chance, if you play it safe and never risk anything.

What I seem to be discovering is that if you never wager anything (i.e. time, comfort, relationships, etc.) you may never come to know the true depth, meaning, and worth of what it is that you gain.  Even if when you come to the end of some journey suddenly or sadly, I would still be willing to bet that you either learned something invaluable along the way or were changed for the better because of it.  Isn’t that the point behind anything anyways?

Not to be overly simplistic or cliché, but I truly believe that every breath and step taken is purposed for the glory and praise of God–and if that is the case–it is or will be good. It has to be, because He is good, so all that He does and ordains and orchestrates must follow suit.

So what am I writing this out? Why am I saying any of this?

I have no idea really… just thought I would. That’s the beauty of a blog.