Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A new map

A year ago to the day, I took a step of obedience that has completely remapped my life.

Let me quickly backtrack.

The previous life map, was a good map. It wasn't like this treasure map that everyone sought after, nor did it lead to any buried treasure. To be honest, the world had jaded me so that I was not on a journey to find a fairy tell life, I didn't believe it existed. I just wanted to follow a map that lead to happiness. I learned to draw paths that wrapped around fun, excitement, and companionship. Even though I didn't believe in the happily ever after map, I was convinced that I was uniquely charting it out. I worked hard on my life map, it had it's own challenges, but I was ok with it.

At some point I learned that happiness fades out just as quickly as it appears. My map was filled with excursions and adventures that brought a lot of happiness to my life, but there was something missing.

It was in a parking lot off Broad street last year, that I took the step of letting go and creating my own paths, and chose to start following the map that had already been designed for me.

This new map has offered quite a voyage. There have been times where I question every turn that I am being asked to make. Sometimes I haven't always been able to clearly read the new map. There have been times when I am just plan stubborn-- I don't want to go back, but I am not ready to move forward. Parts of this voyage I have been able to pick up some folks along the way. While other times, I can search all I want, but there is nobody around. This new map has taken me through some dark tunnels that have brought healing and self discovery. And there have been day trips in areas that I have no words that describes the beauty or the peace that exudes.

This new map is a great map. It is not immune to challenges, struggles, and difficult times. There is fun, excitement, and laughter. There is happiness, and sorrow too. What makes is a great map is the fact that there is this constant peace and lasting joy. Everyday of travel isn’t a perfect day, but every day on this map provides purpose and life.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A few thoughts from Monroe Park's Birthday Party

For the last two months we have been planning this Birthday Party for the homeless. It’s not your typical brown bag lunch, I give you. I was sure nobody would go for it, or truly get the intent behind it. I was mistaken. Folks jumped all over it and on this side of everything I can honestly say it was a huge success. Okay, so we were a little over zealous with amount the cupcakes needed, but the party was lacking absolutely nothing.

Until today the party idea was just that . . .an out of the box idea. But as I sit here reflecting, it now has a face . . .it has names. Anna. Al. Wesley. Armando. Chris. Allison. Evan. William. It has stories. You would not believe time and time again how many people told us that they did not get to celebrate their birthday, or that no one had remembered it. I wish I could have captured that faces when some realized it wasn’t an event for the VCU students, rather a birthday party for them.

Today, I understand why Jesus talks so much about taking care of the sick, the needy, and the widows. I think so easily they have their sense of worth, of meaning, of humanity robbed from them. They are often overlooked, and treated as so much less than what God created them to be. We all need to be reminded of who God created us to be. We all need to be encouraged to settle for nothing less than His plan for our lives. As I reflect on my own life, yes, times can get very lonely and situations can seem pretty bleak, but I am constantly reminded of my worth and my value, and the special plans God has for me by my family, my friends, and my PCC brothers and sisters.

We live at a pace of life that honestly is ridiculous. I recently heard, if the Devil can’t convince you to do wrong, he will just make you busy. And too often, we buy into that lifestyle. We get so hectic with our lives, with our situations that sadly, we often forget to encourage and lift up those who desperately need it. It’s challenging to get outside of our own boxes. To be honest, I’ve struggled with this the past two weeks, but as I lay my head down tonight, I am thankful for the reminder of all the blessings I have and the call to be a blessing to those who desperately need it.

In closing, I encourage you to stop, take a look outside of what is going on in your own life. Look around, for those on the edge, to those who are lonely, to those who are feeling hopeless . . ..and do something. I can attest, it doesn’t have to be much to remind someone of their value, of their worth. Take the blessings that have been poured over your life (they are there if you look) and use them to show Christ’s love and care. Whether it be a small act of kindness (balloons on a mailbox, posters around town, or a simple hand written card) or an act of generous giving (paying for a tank of gas, a cart of groceries, a family’s dinner) you---we have been given the opportunity to speak value, significance, and hope into people’s lives. I have no words to explain how our unfathomable God can use our giving to change lives---those receiving and our own. He uses it to fill us, to satisfy our longings and to change us to become more like Him.

I cannot wait to download the videos and pictures to share with you just how God is moving through His faithful servants who serve in Monroe Park. He is building lasting friendships, building trust and creating an environment where people are opening up and sharing the burden life can sometimes bring. I covet prayers as we continue to seek His leading and as we continue to provide a loving community for Richmond’s homeless.

My heart is full of gratitude tonight.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A few thoughts running through my head . . .

Is it possible to regret good decisions?
I haven’t spent quality time with my dad in what feels like forever; I am excited not only to get a week of vacation, but a week spent of laughter, fun and lasting memories.
I miss my car. Yes, I am still driving the least sexy car you will ever see in your life. It does not scream fun by any means of the word.
Matthew 7:13-14 is currently what I am wrestling with.
I have read The Naked Soul by Tim Alan Gardner and am currently finishing Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groschel. Great reads. I can totally get on board with their philosophy on community and vulnerability . . . I can even be passionate about it, yet, recently I doubt that in our culture it even can exists. I think we have gotten so complacent and happy with meritocracy, we often fail to push the envelope--fail to truly live set apart . . . unfortunately myself included. It bothers me. For now, I’m setting this aside to dissect another day.
It’s September which means fall is coming—Fall colors, apple cider, sweaters and scarves. This makes me happy.
I miss my kayak. No car, no boat rack. I was looking forward to an awesome kayaking trip while on vaca. But it’s not looking like my car will be ready by Saturday (which creates a whole dilemma in itself getting the rental back when I am out of state). However, when this chic does get her car back—the water is where you will be able to find me.
I have been in a weird music mood lately. Today’s song of choice, I’m only happy when it rains by Garbage. I know, I know it is dark, but the rain in pounding on the roof here and I can’t get the song out of my head, so instead of fighting it . . . I am just going with it.
I couldn’t be more excited about this weekend. It’s been a lot of work, and still have two days of pulling all the last minute details together, but once Saturday comes and I get in the park—it’s just about loving on my friends . . .and those guys are a joy to love on!!
For now . . .that’s all I’ve got. Happy Wednesday!