Happy 2014

Well, it’s been way too long since the last time I blogged. It may be the inspiration of the New Year or the realization that I have been really bad at consistency, but it seemed like it might be time for me to start writing again. So here I am…

With 2013 gone, I feel (not just know, but really feel) a new start. The race seems quite a distance from me now and as this New Year and all its opportunities came my way, I got to thinking. Thinking about the changes I want to make and where I should go from here. Not thinking as much about where I was a year ago, but more about where I want to be this year.

And I honestly don’t know many of the answers to the questions I have. Questions that are the same ones you have asked me since I’ve been home: What’s next? Going back to school? Moving? Getting married? What’s the plan?

I don’t know the plan. I only know where I am right now. And where I am right now is maybe not where you would expect.

I suppose knowing who you are is important to everyone. People don’t want to go through life without intent, but my struggle with identity is that it seems hard to continue on until you really understand who you are.

I remember having confidence in myself…living my life according to the truth Papa spoke over me and knowing His truth was the only truth that mattered. But somewhere along the line, I started hearing more voices in my ear…voices telling me what is acceptable and what I should be doing, the path that is best and how I should pursue it. In the noise, I lost me. I lost what seemed so sure, so definite.

So, as this year gets started and we all dive into new adventures, mine will begin by jumping backwards…that’s right, I’m starting over by looking backwards. I want to move forward, but I have truth in my past that I’ve let go of in the last six months. It’s about time I pick that back up.

Sometimes you have to let the past stay there, but other times you have to go back in order to pick up the parts that were always meant to be taken into your future. And that’s the truth about where I am. 

Burn the Ashes

I’m sure you’ve all read my blog “Burn the Ships.” If you haven’t, you should. It combines this incredible historical account with my very recent realization that there are things in my life (ships, if you will) that have to be burned to prevent my retreating back to them.

When I left America and all the familiarity that 24 years provides, the future was uncertain (I know…this isn’t something new. The future is always uncertain), but I knew that no matter what lay before me, I was ultimately walking into victory.

 Here’s some great advice to live by: never retreat from victory. Never retreat from the best. Never retreat from anything that Papa has in store for you. To make sure retreat didn’t happen, I burned my ships.

All the ships I burned were things that I would want to go back to when I left: the way things are done in America, my family and friends, my church, even who I knew myself to be. I couldn’t hold onto any of it. All of these were ships that could keep me from moving forward. Thus they all had to be burned.

 So jump into the race: life’s incredible. I’m constantly challenged, constantly growing, constantly learning. I have no idea what the next day holds, but it’s really more exciting than frightening. And those ships that were familiar…gone. I’m living in a new (I’d say even better) way.

Now jump to today: I’ve been home for four months. I have a steady job, I get to see my family, I celebrate holidays, and I know the expected way of doing things (turns out I’m pretty American). And it’s okay because I’m home from the race. I’m not retreating from my work. This is my life now.

But it doesn’t feel right.

All those ships I burned to prevent myself from retreating from the race still allow me to retreat from what I’m suppose to be right now. These things that are so familiar keep me from pushing into something I’ve never known before.

 Maybe that’s why coming home is so difficult. I’m sure there was a moment after Cortez landed in Mexico that he thought, “This isn’t Spain.” But Cortez didn’t have any ships…he burned those to the ground. The only step he could take was forward.

I burned my ships when I left for the Race, so I don’t guess I can burn them again, but I’m not going to stand here looking at the ashes wondering what I’m suppose to do now. It’s time to turn around and face something new…there’s nothing for me in the ashes of burnt ships. 

 

Image(Photo by Christian Norris)

Is This Your Card?

One of the things I loved most about my community this past year was the constant life that was given to each other.

We prayed for each other,

Prophesied over each other,

Supported each other’s dreams,

And spoke life over what God was doing.

Incredible way to live, right? In Malaysia, one of my teammates had this vision for me:

“I saw someone doing a magic trick for you. You picked a card and put it back. Then he kept saying, ‘Is this your card? Is this your card?’ And it never was…until finally, with a deep exhale you said, ‘Yes…that’s it.’”

I love magic tricks. The more confused I am, the more I like it. This magic trick definitely left me confused, but I can’t say that I liked this one very much. I tend to be more impressed when he gets it right the first time. Why does it take so long to find my card?

Well, you see, for me that card is a promise. A promise of something bigger, something better, something sweeter, something I was meant for.

But waiting for that card is hard. It’s like I said in my ABOUT section, my view lately has been, “Shouldn’t my dreams be coming true?” I don’t particularly like the waiting process.

Lucky for me though, part of living in community that calls life out of each other also involves calling the junk out of each other, challenging us to live better. It’s love really. It doesn’t always feel like love, but it is. And that leads me to…

 Bitterness.

I didn’t realize I had it. It wasn’t obvious. It was hidden under a this-is-how-it-is excuse. But the truth is, I don’t want to wait. I don’t want to watch other people attain so easily what I have waited so long for. I would rather my strength be renewed by receiving a promise instead of waiting on the Lord. (Sounds ugly, but it’s true.) Waiting is hard. And how many of us choose the hard way if it can be handed to us the easy way?

But I’ve learned something from all this. Papa doesn’t make us wait for the sake of waiting. It isn’t a joke that he finds funny and we find miserable. If you’re waiting, it’s because He has something for you in the waiting. And if you are too focused on the card that will come, you’ll miss the incredible opportunity that is right now.

If there’s one thing people know from Ecclesiastes, it’s that there is a time and season for everything. For good, for bad, for hard, for joy, for sadness. You name it, there’s a season for it.

Waiting is a season. It’s something we all go through to get to that place we want to be. But we can’t focus on the waiting; we have to focus on what is in front of us. The truth is…where you are right now is more amazing than you know. If you will embrace and enjoy the waiting, when your card comes it will seem even sweeter than you imagined.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”                                                                  2 Chronicles 16:9

When I Grow Up

The last week of the World Race, I felt like a little kid. I had an amazing year behind me, and God had taught me so much. But it was ending, I was going home, and I felt small, afraid, and unsure.

I had this vision of me as a little child, standing pigeon-toed in rain boots. I had on a dress and was holding an umbrella. I was freezing, standing alone in the pouring rain. That was exactly how I felt…small, alone, and scared.

And Papa told me, “That’s okay.”

It didn’t feel okay. It felt wrong. It felt like I was unprepared. That something wasn’t right. It felt like it shouldn’t be the end. I needed more time. I needed more time living in abandonment. I needed more time living in community. I needed more time to be okay.

That’s when God pointed me to Jeremiah. Jeremiah kinda went through the same thing; only he didn’t just feel like a kid…he was a kid. In Jeremiah’s story he tells God that he can’t speak because he is only a child. God tells him he can and must, and then puts His words in Jeremiah’s mouth. There is definitely a lesson in that…God will put in you what He wants out of you. But the story continues…

God asks Jeremiah what he sees. Jeremiah responds, and God tells him, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”

It’s been over a month since I came home, and I still feel like a child. It’s easy to think of myself as unqualified or to think that people won’t take me seriously. Sometimes I make it more complicated then it has to be. I have all this fear, but Papa is saying, “It’s okay. You may feel small and afraid, but I’m watching. I’m watching to see that my word is fulfilled in you.”

Maybe the reason I feel like a child isn’t because I’m small and alone. Maybe it’s because as a child, I’m exactly where God wants me to be. Maybe when people don’t take me seriously, God can do something greater than when they do. Maybe he would call me to Jeremiah because even as a child, His words can be in my mouth. And maybe walking in a legacy is walking in His heart, and His heart is found in being a child.

Once you “grow up,” being like a child feels wrong. But as a father, isn’t that exactly what you want from your kid? That they embrace where they are because you’re there watching to see that they become all they can be?

The truth is…I am a child, but I’m not alone. I’m exactly where I should be, knowing that my Papa is watching over me to see that His word is fulfilled in me.

For me, it looks a little like this:

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you and I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a storyteller to the nations.”

“Do not say that people won’t take you serious. You must tell everyone I send you to and write whatever I command you. Do not be afraid or discouraged; I am with you, holding you.”

God reaches down His hand and grabs mine. He says, “Now my words are in your heart. I’m pulling them out of you. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Little Roo

Here’s the Truth…

A year ago, I was in Washington DC, preparing to leave America for 11 months. I was nervous, excited, unprepared, and second-guessing my packing choices…but I was ready to go.

My expectations: I would learn about living in community and depending on God for everything. I would experience different cultures and learn a few foreign words along the way. I would encounter people and show them love. I would be stretched and challenged, but it would be worth it in the end. Despite the call to abandon all expectations, I went into the year believing these things would be true…and I wasn’t let down.

Last year was the most amazing year of my life. It’s hard to put into words what you experience on a journey like that because it’s hard to put into words what God does on a journey like that. It’s like what Joseph Campbell says, every journey requires dealing with the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new self. How do you explain your death process to someone who hasn’t gone through your experiences? 

So, here I am, back in America. But I’m not me anymore…at least not the me you may have known. There was a death that happened while I was gone. I don’t think the way I did or even believe everything I once did. I’m something new. Hopefully better, but at least different. The danger of returning to a familiar place after this “resurrection” is that the old self naturally wants to claim its rightful place. It’s easy to do what you’ve always done before.

So, I’ve been home for a month now. And for a month I’ve been fighting. I’ve been fighting to find balance between these two worlds that I know. I’ve been fighting to figure out who I am now. I’ve been fighting to mesh EVERYTHING into one perfect world. I know you’re one step ahead of me and realize this is a big undertaking and that I’m probably failing at it. Well, you’re right. I’m failing.

 And after a month of being home, I finally stopped fighting and cried. Not because someone hurt my feelings. Not because I haven’t succeeded in my fight yet. I cried because I can’t do this.

I need Papa’s throne room. I need His arms holding me.

When I finally reached that point, His words to me were simple, “I’ve been waiting. Waiting on you to realize where you are.”

Where am I?

Broken.

 I didn’t come home fixed. I didn’t come home with all the answers. I didn’t come home with a perfect understanding of who I am.

So, this is the beginning. Of what? I don’t exactly know. Maybe it’s the beginning of finding some answers. Or the beginning of understanding what last year really means for me. Maybe it’s the beginning of finding balance between worlds that clash.

I may have been telling myself that I can’t do this, but truth is, I’ve been wrong before. So, that’s the purpose of this blog…sharing the truth about me because likely, it’s the truth about you too. Maybe together we can figure out some answers.