Monthly Archives: October 2010

just the way you are

It’ll be nice to look back on this moment and know that it is over, that this culmination of emotion moved me toward and forward and I am going to be stronger for it and because of it.

Right now, it was enough to stand up and leave the bridge.

I found myself in tears, sitting on a wrought-iron bridge overlooking the river in Chiang Mai. I went there to clear my mind, cry and talk to Jesus.

I’m not going to get into why I was crying and what I was upset over. It’s a culmination of many things that pent up and then came out.

What I will say, is that I needed to trust that this has a purpose and trust that God is in control.

I wish I knew what God had in mind, why I struggle with the same things, over and over, and what the final result of all this will be.

Life is a story. I don’t know the in between, but I know the beginning and end.

It’s hard not knowing the in between sometimes. Good stories always have conflict and good stories also have conflict resolution. It’s no fun when you are in the conflict stage–waiting for the resolution of hurt sucks.

It’s all for His glory. I don’t know what God’s doing. I know that I trust him. I know that I can’t sit and be hurt on the bridge forever, I have to get back to life. I have to get back to playing my role in God’s story.

Getting up from your place of hurt takes courage. It’s easier to wallow. It takes faith. It takes knowing that there’s a God that sees your tears.

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Transforming church

I’m not involved in a rural church in America, so my reading Shannon O’Dell’s book, “Transforming Church in Rural America” may seems a little strange.

But, many of O’Dell’s themes and messages can be applied overseas as well as to rural churches in America.

Ministry needs to have calling, vision, attitude, leadership, understanding and excellence. These same elements are needed in churches all around the world.

Many people believe that mega-churches are the only way to go. God seems to be with large churches.

O’Dell uses his experience in taking a small, rural church on the brink of extinction to a vibrant church to paint a picture of how influential rural churches can be. O’Dell shares in his book how his church transformed from a sleepy, lifeless church into one of passion and service.

This is a message America needs to hear. Money or size doesn’t make the church. Every believer is called to worship and serve, no matter the location. The churches in the Bible were small and rural. Their stories are still being told, thousands of years later.

Imagine what would happen if every church in rural America lived transformed, dreaming big and acting on it?

Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program provided me with a copy of this book. My opinions are my own

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assuming asaph, living like levi

I attended a meeting last week and the Lord used a devotional a brother in Christ led to really speak to me. He shared from Psalm 73, a prayer of Asaph.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know a whole lot about Asaph before this week. It sort of sounds like you are sneezing when you say it, especially if you say his name quickly.

This brother in Christ I mentioned above and Google helped me sketch out who this guy is. Asaph wrote several psalms, 50 and then 73 through 83. He was one of King David’s musicians and was a Levite. The Levites were the only of the 12 tribes to not have land. They were the tribe of priests–their home was with the Lord.

Home, for me, is a word that has no boundaries, no nestled yard or cement walls that stay constant for too long. Home, for me, changed often with each move. I didn’t grow up living in the same house or even the same country. Sometimes I struggled answering where home is. When in Thailand, I’d say Texas. When in Texas I’d say Thailand. Saying I was from Texas brought on the “what-high-school-did-you-go-to” question, and since I’m not Thai, saying I’m from Thailand in Thailand doesn’t usually work. Where is home? Home is where my heart is–with my family, immediate and extended.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever,” Asaph writes in the Amplified version of Psalm 73.

He is my portion. He is my portion forever.

Go back and read that last line again. Savor it. Do you believe it? Do I believe it?

The Levites found their home in the Lord. They had no land to call their own. Their portion was in the Father.

I am a 21st century Levite. Is that OK to say? And really, as believers, we should all be Levites. Land doesn’t matter. Houses don’t matter. As Christ followers we should find our portion in our Creator.

“But as for me, how good it is to be near God!” Asaph continues in verse 28. [NLT]

Being near to God also takes in another step toward our glorious destiny. I wish I could say I came up with that poetic statement on my own, but ole Asaph already did.

“You will keep guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny,” Psalm 73:24 [NLT]

Part of being able to be led toward that destiny is letting our portion be in God. When we hold our portion in our hands, our destiny is only as big as our palms will flex. Now, unless you have super duper mammoth hands, you probably won’t be able to handle much portion.

It is so easy to want to tie our portion down and to find it in the familiar. We want the familiar. It’s easy to want land assigned to us. But our portion is in a Rock that will never crumble, fade or decay.

He is my portion. He’s enough. I’d like to assume Asaph’s attitude and live like a 21st-century Levite


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Beijing blast from the past

If home is where the heart is, then my home is in Asia.

I am at home in the pungent Thai marketplace and Hong Kong’s Stanley Market. I am at home sailing down the picturesque Li River with a backdrop of mountains holding centuries-old secrets. I am at home on the train in Taiwan and the MTR subway in Hong Kong.

Whether it be perched on a waterfall ledge in northern Thailand, or wedged in a cable car ascending to the Great Wall— I am at home.

But, I am discovering the part of me that is American too.
I studied abroad in Asia this past semester. I enjoyed it immensely.
Oddly, I am finding myself ready to go back. I am missing my friends, and I am looking forward to my senior year.

Written in 2008 in Beijing

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Who told you

Anyone who sat near me today on the airplane probably wondered why I was giggling.

I didn’t have an opportunity to share the reason for my literal “lol.” It certainly wasn’t the instant coffee that I asked for two refills on to alleviate my caffeine headache.

My roommate loaned me Jonathan Acuff’s book, “Stuff Christians Like” for my recent trip. I laughed out loud at his stories about side hugs, hand-holding in church and group prayer. I’d definitely recommend the book, not only is it hilarious, it makes great points on Christian-isms. You should buy and read it.

I just finished reading his entry titled “Thinking You’re Naked.” Don’t worry–it’s not dirty.

In this section Acuff talks about a time when his daughter got a scratch on her forehead but refused a Band-Aid because she thought she’d look silly.

“Who told you that you were silly?” ran through Acuff’s mind afterward. He ties this anecdote to Genesis where God asks Adam and Eve who told them that they were naked.

Shame has been introduced in Acuff’s daughter’s mind as it was for Adam and Eve. It hurt Acuff as it hurts God’s heart when His children feel shame.

“Who told you that you were not enough?
Who told you that I didn’t love you?
Who told you there was something outside of me you needed?
Who told you that you were ugly?
Who told you your dream was foolish?
Who told you that you would never have a child?
Who told you that you would never be a father?
Who told you weren’t a good mother?
Who told you that without a job you aren’t worth anything?
Who told you that you’ll never know love again?
Who told you that this was all there is?
Who told you that you were naked?”

Have you thought any of these thoughts? I know I have. Why do we believe these lies and when were they introduced?

“I don’t know when you discovered shame. I don’t know when you discovered that there were people who might think you are silly or dumb or not a good writer or a husband or friend. I don’t know what lies you’ve been told by other people or maybe even by yourself,” Acuff writes.

I struggle with what I’ve italicized above. The words jumped off the page and I found myself turning around to see if Acuff was standing behind me, magically knowing that those words were written for me. (He wasn’t standing behind me, I was relieved to find, but I have a feeling he’d give me a side hug if he ever read this).

I’ve felt called to write since I was a pre-teen. I know God’s called me to be a writer. I am here now because I have a calling to write. But, there aren’t many days that I don’t struggle with my self-esteem about writing. I doubt my ability to write. I’m not sharing this to coax comments on what a good writer I am from y’all. That is not my purpose at all in writing this post.

I don’t know what insecurities you deal with. Maybe your insecurity was listed above. Maybe it wasn’t. What is your Band-Aid? I do know, that if we are all honest with ourselves, we’ve felt shame. We know what it means to doubt ourselves or what God’s called us to do. If you haven’t, praise the Lord.

“In Christ we are not worthless.
In Christ we are not hopeless.
In Christ we are not dumb or ugly or forgotten.
In Christ we are not naked,” Acuff writes.

In Christ alone, our hope is found.

We’re not naked.

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