9.29.2011

About me? Uummm...


When El Chupacabra gave my nifty little blogaroo a facelift, he added all these cool tabs at the top of the page for junk like contact info, and how to support us, and all that. In the last week or so, I've managed to get them all filled in. Except for the “about” page.

I keep sitting down to write it, but it feels....icky.  So I started to make a list. Not a list about me - like, “I like turquiose.” - but a list of what I'm about; the things that dominate my thoughts, and more importantly, how I live my life. When I look over my list, I have to say that I'm a lot more about me than I'd like to be. Ooh, I made a rhyme!.... *sigh* See?

This isn't the whole list. I left out the really obnoxious parts, like "I'm about buying your affection with warm chocolate chip cookies" and "I'm about tweezers".  But I'm seriously considering taking this list and pasting it onto my "about" page, just to be done with it. 

Unless you have a better idea...

....          .....          ....

I'm about procrastinating.

I'm not about administrating. I can't even handle my own inbox. It's embarrassing.

I'm about loving my husband and sons. I wish I was way, WAY better about this.

I'm about organic discipleship. The kind that happens naturally. Although, I usually just call it... ya know... friendship.


I'm not about Klout. Or Alexa. Or Analytics. Or any of the other false measures that tempt us into thinking we're more significant than anyone else. (This is the internet, people. Easy come, easy go.)

I'm about coffee.

I'm about food. Sometimes I'm not healthy about food.

I'm about changing the way we do missions.

I'm about hair and makeup and clothes, and feeling pretty, and twirling in skirts, and being adorable, and wishing “he loves me” on a daisy, and asking “does this make my ass look huge?”, and hating my ankles, and all the other bullshit girls do and say in a misguided effort to know that they are loved.

I'm not about leading.

But I am about instigating. I'd rather we walk alongside each other in this life, than one in front of the other. But, if I see that you need a push, I'll get behind you... and I hope you'll do the same for me.

I'm about words. All of them. Even the ones you don't like.

I'm about people.

I'm not about turning people into projects. If I'm spending time with you, it's because I like you.

I'm so not about speaking Spanish.

I wish I was about running.

I'm not about home-making. Or home-schooling. Or? Home-wrecking. These things just aren't for me.

I'm about second chances.

I'm learning to be more about Jesus and less about me. It's way harder than it sounds.  

....           .....           ....

What are you about?.... What do you wish you were about?


9.26.2011

Using your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson.


I know it's been a while since I opened the “Are short-term teams a good idea?” can of worms. And I know I said I'd post my opinions on this list of 4 reasons people gave for why short-term missions are super awesome and shouldn't be changed. And I know that was two months ago and I've only responded to reasons #1 and #2. Soooo.....

Here is my obscenely unimportant and completely non-authoritative reply to reason #3:

A short-term Mission taught my kid to be grateful for what he/she’s got.”
If a short-term mission has any value at all, it is undeniably found in its ability to educate the participant. It will stretch your kid's physical and spiritual boundaries by making them truly uncomfortable. It will teach them about a new culture. It will force them to engage with the world in a new way. It will make them appreciate the hot shower, cushy mattress, and abundantly full fridge they enjoy at home. This new found appreciation will last for at least one week. Sometimes more.

But.

As we send throngs of suburban teenagers on short-term missions every year to “learn a lesson”, we have a responsibility to ask ourselves; What are the poor kids learning from all of this?

We're teaching impoverished kids an important lesson, as well, when we wave our arm at a slum and say to our suburban brats, “Don't you see how blessed you are that you don't live here?!”

Poor people aren't stupid people. Poor people aren't less perceptive. Poor people aren't always pleased to be living what we deem “simple lives”. And don't you dare fool yourself into believing that poor people aren't making the exact same lifestyle comparisons you are.

They know.

They know it costs a butt-load of money for you and/or your kid to fly across the ocean to come and take pictures of them. They know that you spent thousands of dollars to hand deliver $200 dollars in toothbrushes and sample size toothpaste. They know the difference between the new shoes your kid is wearing and the old ones you're donating.  They know by the look on your face, by the way you gesture to your teammates, by the way you slather on hand sanitizer before you eat, that your life is very different than theirs.  They know you have way more of everything – food, money, luxury, opportunity - than they will EVER have, and they know you think those things are “Blessings”.  And, yes, they know what an iPhone is. 

When we descend upon the impoverished to improve our family's perspective, we may as well be saying to the mothers of these children, “Pardon me, I'm just gonna use your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson for a minute. I'll be out of the way in no time – Oh, and I'll leave you some shoes.... and a toothbrush.”

The not-so-hidden lesson there, the lesson we're teaching kids worldwide, from the suburbs to the ghettos, is that “The rich are Blessed”  - which, of course, means that the poor... can suck it.

Obviously, that's not true. But that's the unintended message that we share with the world when we altruistically say "Look how Blessed I am, I drive a new car".  Somehow, we've lost sight of God's true Blessing, and that is that He is Present.  His face shines upon us.  Rich, poor, ugly, pretty, fat, skinny, sick or healthy, hipsters, hookers, lepers, rockstars; it makes no difference - 

Immanuel... GOD. WITH. US.

ALL of us. ALL the time. No matter what....

Sadly, the Church's humanitarian efforts are sometimes leading people away from this vital Truth. 

Should we strive to teach our own children not to be entitled and self-indulgent? Absolutely!  But it cannot come at the price of devaluing another human being. Even unintentionally.  

Truly, the biggest lessons your kids will learn about gratefulness will happen at home. If you're materialistic, you can expect them to be the same. If you're stingy and selfish, your kids will be, too.

If you practice generosity, you will raise generous kids. Hold loosely to the things of this world, and so will they. If you demonstrate your gratefulness for the life you're living, your kids will pick up on that and do the same. “Grateful” should be learned at home and applied in the world, not the other way around.

If you have an opportunity to participate in a short-term mission with your kid, or to send your teen on one, by all means DO IT – there is much value to be gained from the experience. But consider your interaction with this planet as you conquer it. Give some thought to the lessons you're teaching as you cross paths with folks from all walks of life - and not just to your kids, but to all kids.

They're paying attention. 


....          ....         ....
For more on the subject, this article, by Steve Saint, is one of the best I've read on the interactions between Short-term Missions and the world.  Check it out!

I have to admit, I felt in a lot of ways like I was writing this to myself. I've got work to do in the example-setting facet of parenting.... :\

9.24.2011

Missionary Positions: How a Barista does it.

Today's contribution to Missionary Positions comes from Bruce Collins, who (in my opinion) has the best avatar on Twitter.

No formulas here.

Sharing Jesus isn’t always easy. Other times it’s just plain hard. When you’re a pastor, though, it’s all in a day’s work; especially on Sundays (sometimes twice). Pastors talk about Jesus all the time. In fact – and I don’t want to speak for all pastors – it all becomes a little trite after a while. The clich├ęd christianese rolls off one’s tongue much like ice-cream off a cone on a hot summer day at the beach. It becomes too easy because it’s what pastors are paid to do. I’m not saying pastors don’t love Jesus, nor am I saying that every pastor you meet is that pastor: the one for whom sharing Jesus has become a day job. What I am saying is that it can so easily happen.

I used to be a pastor.

“Familiarity breeds contempt”, they say. In this case, maybe it’s more like complacency. When sharing Jesus is an everyday vocational hazard, the danger is that it becomes hackneyed. One settles for mediocrity. The awe of Jesus and his story of redemption are lost.
How sad is that? A called and anointed minister losing sight of the power of the gospel: a unique truth.

I am no longer a pastor.

It isn’t my vocation to share Jesus anymore. No more twice a Sunday sermons and mandatory coffee dates with the flock. No more youth meetings or ministry opportunities at schools. No more sharing Jesus as my day job.

It is what I am called to be though. We all are. There’s no escaping it. It is part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. We have to share him, but how?

I’m just trying to be myself: celebrating what Jesus has created in me. That has to make an impact. Doesn’t the Bible say that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” and that God uses us as we are, with all our idiosyncrasies? Check out Moses, Jeremiah and Jonah to name a few unqualified people. That gives me hope because I sometimes feel particularly unqualified for this sharing of Jesus he has commanded me to do.

I hate breaking things down into a formula because faith, and the sharing thereof, is not formulaic. There are some principles, however, that loosely underpin my sharing of Jesus. Feel free to grade me on these:

1.       I must be in awe of Jesus and the gospel.  It’s no good sharing something passionately about which I am not passionate. Daily. It is an everyday decision to do that: be passionate about Jesus.

2.       It seems corny but my life must shout “Jesus”, as much as what I say.  That includes my online persona: the things I post, tweet and write on my blog.

3.       I will not be judgmental. Again, this is a daily decision. Knowing Jesus, doesn’t make me holy, it just reminds me of the fact that I am as bad a sinner as any and that grace is actually amazing, like the hymn says.

4.       I will make friends with people first and I will be upfront about my faith. There is nothing great about blindsiding people with the gospel.

5.       I will love because Jesus loves. Even my enemies and those who laugh and sneer at me because the gospel sounds foolish to them.

6.       I will be real. I will acknowledge that I can sometimes be a real idiot and oftentimes I’ll get things wrong. I will be authentically me. No faces. No facades. No playacting for the audience. Just Bruce, struggling to (and sometimes getting it right) live the life I am called to live: a life that pleases Jesus.

7.       I will speak about Jesus at every opportunity.

So, no formulas here.  Just a guy who used to be a pastor who has learned what it means to really love Jesus again and deeply desires that others would love him too.


For more from Bruce, check out his blog, Barista Bruce's Brews, and be sure to follow him on the Twitter machine

Have you ever struggled with "sharing Jesus"?
(I wasn't kidding about his avatar, right?! Pretty rad...)

9.21.2011

Things are good.... for now.


Things are good.

Ministry stuff is going strong. Marriage is in a happy place. My teenagers aren't crying themselves to sleep at night (as far as I know). And, though we were barely able to come up with the funds to pay for our most recent round of car repairs, it worked out, and we can still eat a little, teeny, tiny bit of food each day until we get our next paycheck. So we're good.

Actually, we're really good.

Things are just clicking. Work is good. Family is good. Health is good. Finances aren't great, but they're ok, which is good. So, basically, I have zero room to complain.

You wanna know something weird? When things get good, I start to panic.

I start wondering when the goodness will come to an end, and I start to imagine all the ways that disaster could strike. And then I start saying weird things like, “I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop” and “You know, the last time things were going this well, our house was robbed”.

It's all very whiny and pessimistic. Sexy, I know.

There's some really good stuff in the Bible about what a stupid waste of time it is to worry, but my favorite passage about worry (the one I turn to when I'm acting like a moron) is in Matthew 6.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

~Yeah, the Bible.

I always think it's so remarkable that we're still worrying about the same crap, thousands of years later (except I like to replace “pagans” with “hipsters” - try it, it works). But my favorite part is at the end, where Jesus is like, “Don't worry about tomorrow. Why are you doing that? Life is hard enough without you adding to the drama.”

Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”

In other words? Shit happens. And there's nothing you can do about it, so why worry?

Why do I waste time seeking the shit; looking for it, waiting for it, anticipating it - when I could, instead, be seeking God?

Things are good. 

I think I'll just rest here for a minute, in His Goodness.

Tomorrow can worry about itself...

....       .....       ....

Do you do this? Do you worry about when the good is gonna give out??

9.18.2011

Missionary Positions: Oh crap, it's Sunday!

Oh, Hi.

So....uh... How was your weekend?

Mine was kind of awesome in a "wow that was a great weekend but I can't really say why, it just was" kind of way.

It was Independence Day here in Costa Rica so we enjoyed a four day weekend - Woot!  And two of our kids participated in a local parade, which I thought was pretty cool. 

Mine is the tall one. 

And some friends dropped by with a chocolate cake and a little "under normal circumstances this would be no big deal but because you live here and it's near impossible to find, it's awesome!" surprise for my birthday. 
Diet Dr. Pepper?! Yeah, baby!

And today my oldest son played in his first ever game in the semi-pro Costa Rican American football league. Totally freaking awesome! GO RHYNOS!!

Mine is the tall one. (#74)

But I spent most of the weekend watching over El Chupacabra's shoulder as he transformed my dumpy little blog into this super-sexy-chill-out-lounge. 

What do you think? 

Actually, I don't care what you think. I love it!  And it was his "we have absolutely no money at all but I'd still like to do something nice for your Birthday" birthday gift, which I think is cool and creative and useful, and just really sweet.

Now you can tell your friends about the Very Worst Missionary without being embarrassed about the crappy layout. (I can't say how many times I've seen "if you can ignore the lameness of her blog, the content is worth a look" disclaimers.) Plus? Now I have ad space. Soooo.... you know... if you're interested, or whatever... 

All that to say, sorry. I was gonna post something for Missionary Positions, but life got in the way.  We will resume our regularly scheduled programming next weekend. 

I'm going to end this post now because I can't think of any more "long explanations for weird stuff to put in quotes" type things. 

Hugs and Kisses, 
~jamie

Dear Lord, I'm so tired I could die. Sorry for the absolute stupidity. I'm hitting publish anyway....
....         ....       .... 

What about you? Did you do anything good over the weekend? 

9.16.2011

Hella 36.

It's my birthday. I gave myself a pep talk when I woke up. It went like this:

You know what?  There's nothing you can do about birthdays.  Nothing.  September 16th is just gonna keep come around, making you older and older... until you die

Get over it.

Stop wrinkling up your face to see how bad the damage is! You already know you've got crow's feet. This is not a new thing.  

Seriously. Get over it. 

And that hair you plucked last week?  The one you decided was 'very light blond'?  Um. No, Sweety. No, it was not.  It was grey.  YOU HAD A GREY HAIR.  And you'll live.  In fact, you'll probably live better, because one of these days, you'll have enough grey strands that it will force you to stop being such a chickenshit about coloring your hair and you'll just do it, and then we'll finally get to meet the smart, sexy brunette you've been hiding all these years. Or the spunky, hot red-head. That would be cool, too.  Really, anything would be better than the girl who spends too long wondering where *exactly* a single hair would fall on the color wheel. That's just stupid. And it was grey. 

Don't be a baby about being an old lady.

Get over yourself!

Besides - You're 36, not a thousand. So quit being ridiculous, and simply enjoy being 36.

In fact, don't just be 36. Rock it!  Be hella 36. 

Be amazing.  Be fun.  Be courageous.  Be adventurous.  Be bold. (But don't be crazy. Nobody likes a crazy chick.) And it's ok if you wanna Be kinda badass, once in awhile. 

Be a seeker of God, a lover of people, and a pointer outer of the awesome to be found within the ordinary. 

Spend more time looking at the world and less time looking in the mirror. 

Die to yourself so that others may Live. 

Give your husband a wife worth loving.  Give your children a Mom worth honoring.  Give your whole heart away in your words.  And give your life to Jesus, who has already given His, that you might live your 36th year in an abundance of Faith, Hope, and Love. 

Go... 

Be hella 36. 

"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me!" ~Stuart Smalley

....        ....         ....

How hella old are you? How are you rocking this year of your life?

9.12.2011

Because I want to wear a fancy dress.

Um.
I don't know how to say this without sounding like a tool who brags about all their stupid accomplishy crap on the interwebz - but I have to say something because ~Crap on a Cracker!~ somebody has mistaken me for a leader...


Apparently, 
I've been nominated for a 2011 Epoch Missions award, in the category of "Current Leader".


...Me. 


         ....For real. 


                   .....I know! I can't believe it either. 


But, I checked.  And it's true.  Somebody thinks I'm a leader in missions.


...*blink blink*...

BAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahaHAHAHAHahahahah!!!!! Heeheehee.... That's a good one. 


I'm pretty sure this is the part where I say something darling, like "I'm so honored just to be nominated."  But in the words of perhaps the most beloved Christian servant of all-time, Nacho Libre,
"I hWANNA hWIN!"

I do. I really do. I wanna win. 
And, yes, I am aware of the visible flaw in a missionary intent on beating out other missionaries for a place of public recognition. Ugh! There are just so many ugly things about this which fly in the face of humility, sensitivity, and selflessness one might hope for from a missionary. 


But, you guys - It's a black tie affair.  You know what that means, don't you?
Exactly! Pretty dresses, heavy makeup, and sexy shoes! *Squeals* It's all just so exciting! 

I know how crazy that sounds. I have long struggled with the insane disparity between the poverty that I've seen and touched with my own eyes and hands, and the frivolous desires of my selfish, material-driven heart.  I understand the contrast between the eternal investment found in a life of generosity and personal sacrifice, and the momentary, lusty satisfaction gained from a few hours in a truly fabulous pair of shoes.


And I know this makes me a horrible person, but I still reeeeeeally want to wear a shiny dress to a fancy party every now and again.  These hideous monkey toes of mine are longing to be crammed into the pointy snout of a sleek and strappy, black heel.  I'd like to wear crazy, dark eyeshadow to some place other than the super-market and I'd enjoy pretending, for just one night, that I'm a princess and not a pauper (even though I'm pauper by choice).


But while I've been all day-dreamy about attending the ball, other missionaries have been out there kicking the world in the ass.  They've been building wells and housing orphans and loving teens.  They've been inspiring people and challenging people and encouraging people on a path toward Jesus.  These are the missionaries who deserve to have their leadership recognized, they deserve to have a glass raised in honor of their efforts.  These are the dudes who should be rocking a frilly blouse and some fancy pants, and escorting their hot, homeschooling wives to the ball.


I wanted to win. 


For all the wrong reasons, I wanted to win. 


I wanted to win because I want to wear a dress. But I'm over it.


Now, I want to see my brothers and sisters win - the kick-ass missionaries who are out there reclaiming the Earth from the dark; bringing hope, filling bellies, washing feet.  


I'm honored to be counted among them, and inspired by their amazingness.
What else can I say? Rock on, MissionariesRock the hell on! 


....         .....            ....


Have you ever been nominated for an award? Did you feel kinda weird about it?  It's ok. You can tell me...

9.10.2011

Missionary Positions: How an Undertaker does it.

Today we hear from Caleb Wilde, an actual, for real Undertaker.  Like, the kind who buries dead people. No. I'm not kidding....  And I love his perspective. 


Caleb the Undercover, Undertaking Missionary

I’m a funeral director.  And, I’m also a missionary.

I love Jesus.  Jesus calls Death his last enemy.   And Death pays me cause I work for him.  And while Death doesn’t know that I love Jesus (I don’t think he cares), Jesus knows that I love him.  So, I guess I’m really an undercover agent who works for Jesus’ enemy but really works for Jesus.  Like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed, except I only drop f-bombs half as often and I don’t think I’ll get an awesome head shot scene when they come out with the movie about my life. 
Come to think of it, Jamie’s life would make a great movie … I wonder who could play her?  Angelina Jolie’s cool and Angie like’s poor people too … that might be a match? 

As a worker for Death (Jesus’ last enemy), I’m behind the scenes of Death's operation, trying to bring down the system and all that stuff as I speak life to those who request my services.  Speaking life is how I bring the system down.

But, even though I come from a family where all the males with the last name Wilde have been funeral directors for the last 150 years (I’m the sixth generation of Wilde funeral directors), I NEVER, ever wanted to be one!

When I was young, while all the other kids were drawing fireman, astronauts, princesses, and basketball players for their “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” posters in elementary school, I was drawing a missionary … cause even in elementary school, I wanted to be a missionary.

How I drew a missionary … I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure it was probably me, all grown up, dressed in a suit, with a black book that had “Holy Bible” inscribed in English on the front cover (cause everybody else in the world speaks English) in my extended hand, giving it to some naked Tribesman … and I probably blurred out the Tribesman’s dolphin with a subtle brown shaded crayon color.  That was probably my drawing.

Cause from a very young age, I wanted to be a missionary. 

And, in high school I lived like a missionary (a cool one, mind you … not the type featured in the movie Easy A).  And out of high school I became a missionary for two years with YWAM.

And then I left. 

At the age of 20, I left.  
Most missionaries leave missions for one of three reasons: 1). their commitment period is up, 2.) they become atheists, 3.) they get burnt out or 4.) the “Lord is calling me elsewhere”.  I guess that was four reasons.  Anyways, I used numero quarto when I left.

Except for me, the one who had wanted to be a missionary from elementary school on up, I felt God was calling me into the one place I NEVER wanted to be (isn't that always the story?) … back, behind enemy lines, working for Death. 

Lord knows, these past ten years have been incredibly shitty for me.  I feel like a failure wannabe missionary, living in the real world, but wanting to be out … handing nice shinny black English Bibles to brown skinned naked tribesmen.

When I first felt “called” to bury the dead at my family’s business, all my really spiritual friends and pastors used the whole “let the dead bury the dead” mantra, and that just made me feel even more sucky … cause I had no answer for them except that God was moving in me and was making it clear that I was to be a missionary as a funeral director. 

So here I am, ten years later and I imagine I feel like many missionaries, wondering, “What the hell have I done?   Have I made any difference?” 

And like most missionaries, I feel like the people I’m serving have ministered more to me than I have to them.  Sure, I’ve done plenty of nice, Jesus like things, but it’s amazing how much others minister to you when it’s your intention to be Jesus to them.   I’ve changed … a lot … for the better … because of those I’m around. 

So, now, I kind of believe any of us can be missionaries, anywhere, at any time, in any culture, just so we wear suits and dress cloths and have shinny Bibles in our hands (Just kidding).  And, I’m kind of thinking that my term is up in this mission field.  And, I’m waiting for that movie to be made of Jamie, played by Angie.  

   

There's so much good stuff to be found on Caleb's blog, "Confessions of a Funeral Director".  Be sure to pay him a visit; His post on the famine in the Horn of Africa is not to be missed!

Or. Stalk him on the Twitter

....          .....             .....

For the record? My life isn't movie worthy, nor is my face Angie worthy.... I'm more like a poorly written sit-com staring Leslie Mann.  And I'm cool with that.

Leave Caleb some comment love, and tell us - Who would play you in the movie of your life?

9.07.2011

Just your average WTF run to the hardware store.

 I  went to the hardware store with El Chupacabra, and some random guy showed me his wiener.  

Naturally, I immediately posted it to Twitter and Facebook


In this stunning, editorial image, you can see the dude with his hands shoved down the front of his pants. What the hell?!

Anyway. The whole thing was so odd that I'm still not sure what happened. Like, was this an unfortunate accident? A poorly timed stretch, resulting in wang exposure?  Did he forget he wasn't wearing any underwear? Is he just a "free spirit"? (His accent was super weird, he could have been French or something.) OR? Is he a really creepy, sly dog of a hardware store flasher? 

Impossible to say. 

But, the general feeling I got was that it was an accident... with a touch of perv. Like, it wasn't totally on purpose, but he didn't prevent it... and he didn't hate it.  Make sense?

I found my husband gazing at a wall of light fixtures, and I told him what happened. "See that guy over there, in the red sweater? NODON'TLOOK!... Well. I just saw his wiener, like, the whole thing!... But it might have been an accident. Can that happen? Can a guy accidentally drop trou in a hardware store?... Babe?...Honey?.... Hellooo?"

Of course he responded with sympathy and concern, "Hey. Do you think I should get the lamps with one lightbulb or two? Or those little lights, up there? The white ones..." 

He was far less moved by the wiener incident than I was - Probably from being a cop for a decade and having an admirable sensibility for when something is, or is not, a big deal. 

So, after I looked at 40 ceiling fans and a wiener, we bought lights and went home. 

The end. 

....          ....          ....

What do you think? Could the dangling digit have been an accident? 

How would you have handled the situation?

9.03.2011

Missionary Positions: How a writer does it.

Kindred spirit is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my blog friend, Tamara Lunardo.  I'm so excited to kick off Missionary Positions with her beautiful words and general awesomeness. When you read this, you'll immediately see why I like her so much. Enjoy!

I'm a Writer, Not a Quilt

I've been writing my blog for about a year and a half, and, maybe because I try to be candid on it, people often let me know how it affects them, and I love that-- mostly.

The comments and emails that tell me my writing makes people feel not alone, makes them think, makes them laugh-- those are notes are grace to me, they are treasures. But once in a while someone feels so free, so emboldened (and that's wonderful, but not) to let me know how uncomfortable I make them.

And I can only say this: My job isn't to make you comfortable; I'm a writer, not a quilt.

My job is to write out redemption.

Sometimes this does bring comfort-- not so that you will be comfortable, but so that you will know the Comforter. But often, I think the ways I'm most gifted to write out redemption are in pointing out how much of life is funny and, sometimes, in pointing out what fucks it up.

That might not be very comfortable, but it is truth.

And it's okay with me that not everyone loves that. Because I think God does. I think He made us to reflect His beautiful image-- as creators and healers, as teachers and nurturers, as protectors and providers.

I think He gifted us each to work out redemption in our own very tiny, very important way.

For me, that's writing openly about my life and faith so that others might be encouraged in their own. When I write about sex one day and Jesus the next, a set of people may be freaked out on day one, and a whole other set may be freaked out on day two. But to me, real life and real faith are inseparable; to try to separate them would be to diminish them both.

So if my writing about real life and real faith causes some discomfort, I can deal with that. And when it inspires rejection or hate mail, I can deal with that too (although I really don't love it, just so we're clear). Because I've learned that the most uncomfortable, the most raw, the most real moments in my life are where God has shown up.

I've learned that God dwells only in reality, and He has handcrafted me to write exactly there. He made me a writer, not a quilt. And my job is to write out redemption.

What's your job? You can tell me your profession if you want, but what I really want to know is how God has gifted you to work out redemption.

....          ....           ....



Want more from Tamara? Check out her blog, Tamara Out Loud, or you can track her down on the Twitter

9.02.2011

I'm recruiting... to build my army.

What's up writers, bloggers, and... normal people?

Would you be interested in writing a guest post for the Very Worst Missionary?

Because I would very much be interested in posting such a post.

Tomorrow, I'm kicking off a Saturday series highlighting the way we share Jesus in our everyday lives.  I've already got a couple of posts lined up by people you will fall in love with, but I'm opening this up to everyone because... uh...variety is the spice of life, and all that. (Whoa! I totally did not know what to say there. Weird.)

Anyway.

The idea is that we are ALL missionaries - every last stinkin' one of us - not just the lucky bastards who carry the title.  ~side bar~ Do you ever wonder how some people end up in missions as a vocation and others have to work a day job AND be a Christian?  It's so not fair.  Some say it's because folks in full-time ministry are "set apart" for this kind of work, but I suspect it's because we're being punished for something...

I am just kidding. Relax.

~carry on~

If you're a follower of Jesus, than you probably already know that you've been "called" to the mission of sharing His teaching.  So, I want to hear about how you're doing that, what does that look like to you? And how does it translate in the lives of the people around you? I gotta say, my favorite missionaries are, by far, the non-missionary missionaries; the guys who are just out there, doin' their thang, loving people along the way.  I'd love to hear from people like that, who have developed non-douchey ways to introduce their Faith to friends, neighbors, and co-workers over the course of an average I'm-not-getting-paid-to-tell-you-Jesus-loves-you day.

Key-word? Non-douchey.

That means I don't want to read a guest post about how you invited all the children in your neighborhood over for fresh-baked cookies, sat them down, told them they were going to burn in hell forever!, invited them to say a prayer "asking Jesus into their heart", and sent them home with a bible-tract and the instructions, "Now, go save your parents."

If you don't understand why that's douchey then.... go away.

Just kidding.  Stick around.  And read this series to see how other people are doing it - Through kindness and respect, and over the natural course of their everyday relationships with the people around them.

I'm excited about this, I think it's gonna be awesome. So don't be shy! Tell us about how you're impacting the immediate community around you, or how someone changed your life when they lived out their Faith in front of you. Email your clever, witty, sappy, sweet, gut-wrenching, heart-warming story (in no more than 700 of the words of your choice) to theveryworstmissionary@gmail.com.

YOU! *I'm pointing at you.* Join the ranks of the Very Worst Missionaries!

....           ....           ....

The only problem is I don't know what to call this series. I was thinking "Missionary Positions".  Ya know? Cuz it's from people who are kind of missionaries but they work in other positions... Get it?...No?... Well, I like it, but I'm afraid of the google searches. Scary.

Help! Ideas? What should I call this series! HURRY!! It starts tomorrow and it NEEDS A NAME!!


Apparently, the comment system I use is "down". Not, like, sad - just not working.  So if you have the PERFECT title for this series (and you know you do!) you just keep it in that hot little head of yours and come back later to leave it in comments. Mmkay? Thanks!   Never mind.