Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extravagant Love, Radical Hospitality

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." - Romans 12:12-13

A Challenge to myself and others:
Love Extravagantly
Practice Hospitality
Live life with arms wide open

Although I moved to my little town 2 years ago (almost exactly to the day! wow!) I have hopped from church to church. Tried several, but never felt like I truly found a place to call home. For lots of reasons.
I was always traveling on weekends, visiting friends or family, working... While there were 2 churches that I attended regularly, I never found "home."

I decided recently that the only way to do that is to truly protect certain times. I did that when I was in college. These times on Sundays were morning worship, and Connexion (the college service)....This time on Thursday is when my Bible Study meets....As a result of that commitment, I was connected...and my church was home. While I have protected my Sunday morning time for church, I haven't protected a location. Interesting distinction, I know....but one that I think truly matters.

I also had a hard time feeling like a part of the community different places. No idea how to connect in small groups or Bible Studies....I could literally walk in and out on Sundays and be a ghost if I wanted. While at times that may be appealing, I want more. I want to be surrounded by people who are going to push, challenge, and encourage me. I want to be involved in the life of the church.

Last week, I had a brave moment. I called a church that I had visited a few times to see how I can get involved in small groups and adult classes. (I have tried this off and on various places for a year now and have literally gotten nowhere.) I ended up on the phone with one of their staff members who, after about 15 to 20 minutes of talking, hearing what I was looking for, and where I was at in life just stopped and said, "My small group meets on Friday nights. We would love to have to join us. And hey, you know what? My wife and I love having people over to hang out, just for fellowship. We'd love to have you over for coffee sometime too."

WOW! seriously!?!?! Just like that. An open invitation. This person didn't know me and yet extended and invitation and practiced radical hospitality.

By the time I checked my email later that day, I had an email thanking me (seriously, thanking me....) for stepping out and calling, giving me directions to their house, and just a bit of information about some of the other people in the group so that I would, as he put it, "feel like family when I walked in."

So I took a risk (for me, a fairly quiet, shy, introverted least until you get to know me) and meet a bunch of strangers (who oddly enough, I discovered some connections with once I got there!) And you know was 100% worth it. Everyone was welcoming, loving, and truly interested in my story. Can I just say that this was probably one of the most encouraging moments of definitely the past week, and even the past month.

So why do I challenge myself and others to that? Because it makes a difference to people. I know that I will remember this conversation and this moment for a long time to come.

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (Msg.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chucking the Cell Phone

Every couple of months I have a moment where I want to chuck my cell pone out the window of my car, throw it in a lake, run over it with my car....something that will make it stop ringing. This doesn't happen all the time...but sometimes. (I must have a fairly low threshold for this considering the fact that I am NOT that important of a person and things DON'T demand my attention every waking moment of the day.)

Today was one of those days. Just a desire to escape and be out of touch even if only for an hour or so. Cells phones are great, don't get me wrong. I love that I can just type a quick message to a friend and not too intrusively interrupt their day to ask a question, or people can send me a quick little one liner that makes me smile (I however, have what I call a phone phobia....that is I don't like calling people. I am just worried I am interrupting too much, or bothering them, or catching them when they don't really want to be polite, but feel a social responsibility to be polite and engage in a conversation that they don't really want to be engaged in. I'm currently working through this....) :)

Anyway....I found a great post about just that by a staff member at GCC. I've enjoyed reading books and posts by him and learning as much as I can because let's face it, I'm young, and I've got a lot to learn.

I'll say it again, I am NOT that important of a person....I don't twitter, I don't subscribe to hundreds of blogs or automatic notifications, yet I still crave silence.

I think that was one of the things I loved most about being in Nashville at the National Youth Worker's Convention. Yes, I was still doing some work stuff, and I was busy attending different sessions and seminars. But the great thing was that I could leave a session and just go walk around downtown, or go to the prayer chapel, or back to my hotel and just sit, in silence and actually process and digest what I had just heard. I didn't get a lot of phone calls because people knew I was out of the office, I didn't get a lot of emails, and I didn't even check email all that often. It's been awhile since I've done that...since I've really just stopped to listen and hear what I'm supposed to hear. And it was GREAT!

I need to carve out more time to do just that. Stay offline, turn off the phone, the tv, and even the music and just enjoy the silence.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Things I never thought I would need to know

One of the things I love about working at camp is all the different things I get to do. Seriously, it seems limitless at times the things I can learn and do if I just set my mind to it. And all of it ultimately goes toward the end goal of building a better program to reach more students.

Every once in awhile, I like to think about all the tools I have worked with and things I never thought I would need to know how to do, but am either learning or have learned, thanks to camp. It tends to be fairly entertaining. So here goes.
  • Power tools. That's right...power tools. My first day as a summer staffer 5 years ago I spent 8 hours pressure washing a net... no joke. And then I learned how to use table saws, drills, blowers, soldering irons....the list goes on. I know this sounds fairly unimpressive, but to me...I think it's awesome that I have learned how to do some of these things.
  • Cooking for several hundred people. Not that I do this on a regular basis, but in a pinch, it's my responsibility to know how to get it done (with help of course).
  • Just about anything to do with toilets and drains....Not that I can always fix the problem, but I have discovered that it's good to have a basic knowledge of what might be wrong, and some common things to check for before calling in the big guns (aka the amazing facilities supervisor)
  • All things paintball. That's right. In preparing to build new programs, I am learning about anything and everything relating to operating a successful paintball program. Crazy
  • Climbing. Where to get equipment, how to run stuff, how to maintain a course. Yep. Love it.
  • Basic AV (sound systems projectors). I by no means claim to be an expert, but I can set up and troubleshoot the basics.
The list goes on. It's just fun to see all the things that I never thought I would need to know, but have had the chance to learn. And trust me when I say, I am by no means an expert in any of these areas (definitely not!) But I sure have had fun learning.

And it's just really funny to look at the progression of my life in general (classical dancer to ropes course operator at a summer camp, to setting up a paintball course...) It just makes me laugh sometimes. The people I used to dance with would probably never believe it.

But it's so fun. And I love seeing how God moves us to different places...where we never thought we'd be.

It makes me wonder what's coming tomorrow.... :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


If anyone that reads this happens to be a guy, I'm guessing they stopped reading after the title. If not....yes this is about shoe shopping. And a frustration I have with it. Really nothing insightful tonight at all...

Shoe shopping is not easy, at least not for women, and definitely not for tall women. This is made even more difficult when you are trying to find nice shoes to wear with a dress. Because apparently they only make cute, fun shoes with 5 INCH HEELS. They are cute. And they are fun. The problem.... they make me 6'2" thank you very much.

I decided several years ago that I would never wear shoes that made me taller than 6 foot. Ha. Yea right. I've given up on that, at least when it comes to nice shoes.

So I'm getting over it. But it still drives me nuts. And to any other tall ladies that may read this...I feel your pain. My advice...wear what you want and have fun. Who cares!