“To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God…”

this is one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite stories, les miserables.

so good!

i can’t really think of a better way to describe the condition of my heart today. but let me back up a month or two. or eight?

last summer, i began discipling my friend kelly after a fairly lengthy pursuit. it was awesome though because once kelly realised she wanted to be discipled, she REALLY–wanted to BE a disciple and she asked for accountability. the whole ‘asking for it’ part doesn’t happen very often. when it does, it creates space for some real life-on-life to happen.

days pushed into weeks, that pushed into months, of really digging in, giving up old habits, picking back up old habits, laying down old habits, learning to make good choices, unlearning the old way of living. it has been a literal roller coaster…that i wouldn’t trade for anything. God has pushed me and challenged me through kelly in not just knowing Him, but believing Him.

in about december of ’09, things progressed in a less than ideal direction, and about six weeks ago we had to check her husband into a mental health clinic in dallas for treatment. kelly came to live with me, and our church community just raised up around us coming forward doing and saying things like, ‘i’ll help you with your bills!’ ‘i’ll drive your husband to the clinic!’ ‘ i will buy you a plane ticket to see him while he’s away!’ it was like a little village of awesomeness appeared out of nowhere to be the hands and feet of our Jesus, loving and serving this family unconditionally. indescribable.

her hubs has made, so far, an incredible recovery. he’s on great meds now and is just blossoming in our community. of course there have been road bumps along the way, and with mine and kelly’s relationship some real joy and some real heartache. dying to everything that you have known for the past 30 years is a lot of work that can not be expected to happen overnight.

in the past week, we have chosen to also enroll kelly in the clinic her husband went to, starting this wednesday. as a community we believe this will help both kelly’s condition and their marriage as a whole.

we know this is only the beginning to the road for recovery, for both, and i want to share what i’ve been learning personally through this process.

first of all, God has shown me His beauty. we ALL…and i mean ALL of us, have ugly junk that we choose over Life. we just do. we are a depraved people. God loves us so much that He sent His Son to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, so that we could be made pure and blameless before God. this is real life for me right now. it is overwhelming to think that a love that deep exists. but it does, and it is life giving.

the second thing comes from a prayer. a man in my small group prayed over me one particular thursday, when i showed up to group in pieces. he prayed that i would be weak. little did he know that that’s exactly what God had worn me down to. i don’t know if i have a beautiful enough word to describe what it’s like to be in a place, so desparate for someone, that all you can rely on is the fact that God is who He says He is. mighty. merciful. one who extends grace. healer. lover. creator. majestic.

thirdly, God has shown me His great power through truly having a heart for someone. i hear a lot of missionaries talk about how they have a heart for a people group. this is not by mistake. i sincerely believe and have now witnessed in my own life, what it looks like when you intentionally talk to God about something every. single. day. you do things, you extend compassion, you have energy, you have love that is supernatural. if God didn’t love me first, i would never be able to love kelly the way i do.

love. now we come to number four. a few months ago i attended a conference with the austin stone called, ‘verge.’ the major thing i walked away with, besides just loving Jesus more, is that perhaps there is no 6-step process on how to love someone. there’s no devotional or sermon series podcast that’s a fix-all for our problems. we need to go back to the Word. God left us this amazing love letter, on how to live and how to have life, bring life and be life to others. love has become probably the most complex word in my vocabulary. i had no idea what it meant to love someone, and after this experience, i feel even now i’m only on the cusp. i can not wait to see what’s next.

i can’t complete this blog without talking about my so-called partner in crime during this process; my friend, dan. dan has been co-ministering with me to kelly and her husband since the end of january. it’s funny because preceeding these events, God began to minister to me in a really powerful way about being led in ministry and life by the men in my church, and used dan as a major catalyst for this. dan will tell you that for a long time, i bowed up to him, fought him, pushed back on advice he tried to give, and by the grace of God and thankfulness in obedience, i began to choose to let dan lead me. it’s funny how we push back and push back on something God is being very clear on and when we finally give in, it’s way more awesome than we ever could have imagined and then you ask yourself, ‘why did that take so long??’ dan has been there to talk me down, to be the calm in the storm and just point me back to the gospel. watching him pursue Jesus in this, has changed me. and so explains my fifth and final (for now) lesson.

i’m just praying that these ‘lessons’ (for lack of a better word) are something i continue to learn and grown in. and that it doesn’t stop—ever. you can never grow too much. the gospel and truth of God is infinite. i am so grateful and humble to those who have been a part of this process–that’s really just beginning.

there’s something very rich and meaningful in pursuing Jesus with someone…and not to mention LIVING with someone! kelly has become such a dear, dear friend to me. God is so good to me through this gift of friendship.

thanks for reading.

why i divorced my car.

So, I sold my car. September 25, 2009, to be exact. A day that lives in infamy…just kidding. :)

I guess this all started over a year ago when I went overseas to work with an NGO in Eastern Europe. I saw the world through “other eyes” for the first time in my life and it changed me. It had to. You can’t be human and ignore something like that. Upon my return, I began to have this crazy, burning desire to live more simply. My first move of simple satisfaction, was making a home in a 250 square feet flat in Central Austin. I was so sick of owning stuff. I called Salvation Army and had them come pick up everything except for about half my clothes and shoes, half my books, a few keepsakes and my TV. I got rid of everything. Furniture. Bathroom accessories. More furniture. A brand new coffee pot. All my kitchenwares. Gone. I even lived without a bed for a year.

It felt amazing to purge and get rid of all these possessions that I didn’t need, and set up shop in a smaller, simpler place. I felt healthy after this transition. I was rid of years of useless junk. I discovered at the heart of this, God was calling me to live even more simply. Did you know that just by owning a car, you are more wealthy than about 95% of the world? Sick! I just felt gross that this was the truth. And then He said, ‘what about your car?’ Yikes! But, ok!

The thing is…I actually really love public transportation. It’s so Euro—and has always had an exciting appeal to me. I remember at one point, making a list of pros and cons and only coming up with one con. The day I actually sold my car, was one of the most liberating days of my life. I thought I would cry or be upset, but as I walked those three, hot, long miles home getting dust in my shoes and sweat in my eyes, I felt that fat check in my pocket, that I knew would bring blessings to others, and I was overcome with intense joy.

It’s funny the different reactions I’ve gotten from people. Some feel sorry for me, as if I had something terrible happen and had to give up my car. Others treat it like I have a disability. As weird as that sounds, they just can not seem to, in their minds, allow me to ride the bus. But I like for people to sit in this tension. I think it’s both challenging and moving. And then there are some who have also done the same thing, or that applaud the effort to live simply, be green, give something up because God asked me to.

Knowing myself for the past, almost 29 years, I can not believe that I don’t have a single complaint to give you about becoming car-less, but I don’t. I knew when I took this step that God would be faithful in providing me what I’d be lacking. It’s made me more disciplined, forced me to start thinking ahead, and humbled me greatly by having to ask for help every once and awhile. I need to do this more. It’s weird to tell you that I crave those walks I’m forced to take now. I see things and buildings and nature, ways I have never seen them before. “Beautiful” is not a strong enough word.

So many “good” things and emotions have come from this, but there are still struggles I am on the field with, battling. Here’s my dark confession part. Since being on the bus, God has revealed a lot of prejudice I have been harboring in my own heart. Man is it ugly, and raw. The bus has a certain unshowered stench to it. There are people who, omg—ask you for money and OMG, have to sit by you that might seem scary. God has shown me more compassion and love through these people than I ever could have imagined. He has taught me every life is valuable and purposeful, no exceptions. The size of God has expanded, as if that’s even possible. As He continues to break through this hardness, it hurts. It’s embarrassing. It breaks me down. But this creates space for true restoration to happen. He is more, I am less. It’s worth it.

Last night I had to walk about six blocks home from the bus stop. Not a long way, but it was pouring down freezing cold rain. My legs and feet were freezing, my socks were squishy, and my shoes were completely soaked. I surprised myself when I found myself, in the dark, cold and wet, praising God. I felt so alive and satisfied. That—is how it is when you make choices with Jesus.

This whole experience has evolved me as a person. I’m just in awe. It has affected me physically, spiritually, socially, intellectually and emotionally. Who knows if I’ll buy another car ever again. Maybe if I move somewhere I need it, but learning to live without it has become a one way, constantly moving forward street.

So if you see me standing at a bus stop or walking down a random street letting the rain fall on my head and the wind blow in my face, sure. You can offer me a ride, I might take it. But if I refuse, it’s because deep, rich sanctification is happening. And…get ready. I’m praying for you to join me.

Thanks for reading.

my new friend, maggs.

i just have to say this and get it out there, because it’s been bugging me. i totally and completely just witnessed dog discrimination. is this possible?

anyway, rockin and rollin’ from the atx, yo. ha ha. i had lunch yesterday with a new friend, maggie, who has a very cool non-profit called discover hope, which gives micro loans to women in peru. i’m going to start volunteering with them, offering my experience in event planning and my non-experience in photography. ha!

maggie is one of the most interesting and unique people i’ve had the privilege of knowing and i admire her heart and generosity in her personal battle to end poverty and to inspire others to join her in this journey.

i knew going into our lunch that she was a very spiritual person, but i was so richly encouraged by her deep devotion to God. it’s always such a blessing when you can openly and freely talk about what God is doing in your life and the path He is leading you down. there’s just something awesome about two people, who don’t really know each other, connecting on a spiritual level, through God’s love and understanding that…from the outside you can’t understand and from the inside you can’t explain.

maggie said so many things to me that i needed to hear, that i’m sure she thought was only relating to what’s happening in her life. i think the word she used was ‘quiet-tude’, but i could have misheard. she was referring to her quiet time with God that she has every day. she told me this is where God gives her guidance and understanding and the excitement and necessity she has for this time spoke volumes to me. i have so much to still learn about my walk with God, and He used this conversation to lay some things on my heart.

she even invited me to church! how great. i don’t know if i’m going yet…there’s another place that has recently caught my eye and i am sensing long-term devotion, here, but more to come on this later.

i look forward to posting many more stories about maggie and her fervor for life, AND probably some pictures from our upcoming fundraisers.

i give you, maggs.