4.15.2012

My Father's Son

Yesterday was Stephen's last football game. Ever.

It was a tough loss, but a good game. I watched my son lay his whole heart out on the field, giving his strength and his spirit to his teammates. He took orders. He took risks. He poured every ounce of energy he could muster into his game, and even though the team lost, he considers it a personal best. 


I went to greet him on the field after the final whistle and he said, "Did you SEE ME?!"

Of course I saw him! I thought he was wonderful - but I'm his Mom. He could have been the worst player on the field (or in the history of the world) and I would have thought him a hero. But as we were walking off the field, the head referee stopped us to shake Stephen's hand. He looked my boy in the eye and said," You're a beast. You are a FRIGGING BEAST!"

My son didn't shrug off the compliment. Nor did he say, "Thank you".

He looked right back at the ref and said, "I am my Father's son."


I am my Father's son. 

That I didn't fall on my knees and weep, right then and there, is a small miracle. I was just so moved by those five words. I wish I could bottle the moment and hold onto it forever as a reminder of that incredibly humble and incredibly powerful acknowledgement.

Our amazingness is never ours alone.

My son was being literal; He gets his natural size and strength from his Dad. He was coached by his Dad. He has his Dad's propensity for general badassedness. He is clearly his Father's son. But the gifts and dedication of his Father combined with his own willingness and effort are what make him remarkable.

In the same way, when you lean hard into the gifts that God his given you and when you pour your might, spirit, and heart into those gifts, then you reflect beautifully on your Father in heaven.

You get to lay it all out there! And then remember that Shame and Pride have lost their place in your world - You are simply your Father's son. 

That's it. That's all there is.

...    ....    ...

For me, it looks like this:

I write a blog. Some say I'm a writing beast... I am my Father's daughter. 

Ok. Now you try it...

4.10.2012

Healthy Short-term Missions? Do it like Jesus.


Continuing our conversation on the folly of Short-term Missions...

This is how Short-term missions teams are often done:

Invite anybody (who feels like it/can afford it) on a trip to a (safe but adventurous) place. Raise funds, collect loads of supplies, buy matching t-shirts printed with a catchy logo and/or leading question to use as a traveling evangelism tool. Create a detailed packing list. Travel to destination in matching shirts, being sure to strike up at least one conversation at every stop to indicate that you are “serving the Lord, Jesus Christ”. Stay as a group in a dorm, church, hostel, or hotel. “Help” poor people, or the disaster afflicted, by offering unskilled labor, unwanted prayer, and cartoon Bible tracts. Give away some junk. On the last night of the trip, order Pizza because everybody is sick to death of local food. Arrive home, slightly conflicted, burdened for “those less fortunate”, unsure if any actual help occurred, but grateful for all your “Blessings”. Share none of your doubts, but tell family, friends, and especially financial supporters that it was an awesome trip and that you totally saw God at work.

Aaaaaaand...

This is how Jesus sent “short-term teams” in Luke, chapter 10:

“After this the Lord appointed 72 others. He sent them out two by two ahead of him. They went to every town and place where he was about to go.
He told them, "The harvest is huge, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals. And don't greet anyone on the road.
When you enter a house, first say, 'May this house be blessed with peace.' If someone there loves peace, your blessing of peace will rest on him. If not, it will return to you. Stay in that house. Eat and drink anything they give you. Workers are worthy of their pay. Do not move around from house to house.
When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set down in front of you. Heal the sick people who are there. Tell them, 'God's kingdom is near you.
 The 72 returned with joy. They said, "Lord, even the demons obey us when we speak in your name."

Soooo.... basically, we do it, like, exactly opposite to the way Jesus did.

Where Jesus appointed, we take volunteers.

Where Jesus sent pairs, we send herds.

Where Jesus admonished for danger and quiet humility along the road, we opt for vacation destinations and loud self-congratulations.

Where Jesus asks to be bringers of peace, we often bring chaos.

Where Jesus designed an opportunity for a disciple to lean into a new family, learn a new culture, and serve under the head of a household (who best knows his own need), we march in with a plan and the resources to git'er'done – completely missing out on the gift of being “a worker worth his wages”.

What if the original picture of “short-term teams” was meant to show us this valuable step in the process of discipleship, where we can learn dependance on God, love for others, and how to serve well?

And what if we've taken that picture and turned it into a billion dollar industry, creating dependance among the poor - not on God - but on the ourselves, damaging Christ's image in the world, and missing the point entirely?

Perhaps the first step to creating healthy short-term missions can be found in stripping them down to their most basic form, creating them to look more like part of the discipleship process. What if we unashamedly refocused the dynamics of a “mission” trip onto the one being sent, and removed pseudo-humanitarian efforts (which are often more harm than good) altogether?

I dunno.

It's just a thought...

4.07.2012

How to recognize us at Storyline 2012.


At the end of this month, you'll be able to find me and El Chupacabra in the land of bridges and bicycles - the lovely yet gloomy hipster paradise of Portland, Oregon.

We'll be easy to spot, as I own absolutely no vintage clothing (unless you call underwear so old it has lost its elasticity “vintage”) and because El Chupacabra's glasses are real and completely necessary. So, if you're in the great Pacific Northwest on April 30th, keep your eyes peeled for two dorks in baggy panties, clothes from Target, and functional eye glasses. It will be us. I promise.

We'll be there to attend Donald Miller's Storyline 2012 conference, and we're pretty excited about it. The conference website describes it like this:


WHY, you ask, are two people who have obviously taken some pretty extraordinary steps toward living life to its fullest going to a conference about learning to live well?

Um... That's a really good question.

Here's the answer:

We've found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads - Over the next few months we'll be facing some major life changes that we'd like to step into with a sense of direction. Our work/ministry dynamic will be changing. Our family dynamic will be changing. And our home base might be changing.

We want to spend April 30th and May 1st at the Storyline conference, examining these forthcoming changes. We're hoping to use our time there to prayerfully and willfully narrow the focus on our wildest passions and truest gifts. We want to explore our future, as our oldest son is moving out, and soon we'll begin daily life as a family of four. (Ugh. When I typed that, I think my heart opened up and leaked out something important. I'll never be the same.) And we want to continue to seek God regarding our future as missionaries.

Truly, I live an interesting life. Moving to a foreign country seems like an obvious choice if an “interesting” life is what you're aiming for. But I don't want to settle for an interesting life when I could upgrade to a meaningful life; A life that has depth, and impact; A life that serves, blesses, and equips others on their own paths. That is the life I want to live.

I want to live an unforgettable, honest, meaningful story - one clearly defined by Faith, Hope, and Love, and book-ended by Grace and Redemption.

It's just time for some self-evaluation, to be sure that's where we're headed, ya know? For that reason, I think the Storyline conference will be helpful to us. We're excited about it.


Oh. And you should totally come! Then we could hang out. A fun time would surely be had. Then sometime, way down the line, when we're old and wrinkled and looking back on our amazing stories, we could talk about the time our paths crossed in Portland and you knew it was me by my stretched out underpants, and I knew it was you by your... 

....Wait. How will I recognize you?!