Serve Small

It starts with a smile.

To look someone straight in the eyes, see into their life, and welcome them to yours.

It’s a simple hello and follows with an honest ask: “How are you?” Then, taking the time to look and see as they tell you. You remember what they said, follow up with another question, ask them again about it next time you two run into each other.

Something so small, which may at first be perceived as insignificant, quite possibly makes all the difference in the world.

Hospitality reaches beyond our homes—it’s bred in the tiny details of the day. Opening doors, sharing a smile, complimenting a jacket or eye color. It’s spreading wide our hearts to all those we rub shoulders with throughout the day. It is seeing someone—really seeing—with a deep soul-eyed stare. Noticing the person—not the problem, not the situation—but deciding to invest care into the stranger, approach them as someone created in God’s image and sharing in their value.

Listening instead of lecturing.

It’s the little things that make a person feel seen, set apart, welcomed and connected, embraced right where they are, as they are, in that moment.

 

 

**I’m delighted to be over visiting Leslie Verner at Scraping Raisens blog today. Read the rest of my post here, then stick around and read some of her work!

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Forgotten No More

Soft waves lap the shore. Beyond into the open water, it is calm, hardly a ripple. Clear blue across the sky, light wisps of clouds swirl above.

There is the tiny whisper of wind across my skin, teasing my shirt. And the serene slide of wave to sand. Other than that, mostly silence.

Here is the quiet, solitude and line of trees angled on the bluff. Beautiful, restful. I walk and walk, correcting my breathing to slow to the cadence of the tranquil morning.

But they follow me, these stories of forgotten children.

Hop into my heart and come along for the ride. The cries, screams of sorrow, haunted eyes and lips refusing to speak of inhumane tragedies they’ve been forced to witness. Walking eight miles a day to flee the horror of home and find respite in an unfamiliar town for the night, away from the fighting and mutilation and the fear-infested streets where many are forced to make their bed. Their young years have lived far too much unimaginable pain.

This should not be.

Unrest and sleepless nights shaken in fear and sorrow. This should not be anyone’s reality. And yet they still hope. Hope, the elusive and mysterious element that buoys the heart and gets them through one more day.

 

I remember the poem by e.e. cummings and hoist it like a flag across my mantra:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

 

I carry you with my, my darlings, I carry your hearts with me in my own. Wherever I go. Tucked in the safe pocket of my heart.

At work, in my air-conditioned café, frothing milk for a latte, stringing words upon a page, piling lettuce, cheese and carrots in my salad container at the grocery store—they are always there. Close. Beating within my heart. Their smiles are my own.

It feels good to be so connected.

I cannot forget their faces, their stories, their heart’s cries and desire for love. Can a mother forget her child? Even closer, the LORD God remembers, engraves on the palm of His hands. They are not forgotten. Not for one moment.

And not for a moment must we forget, either. It is our heart’s charge to break and wring for the ones the world overlooks and disdains, does not understand with eyes aglow with agape. Once we have been bathed in love, we see the tired and undeserved who have been waiting for us. Waiting to know their lives have value and they have a creator God who loves them and embraces them into His family.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Pour me out to the hurting and displaced, for whom hopelessness hangs heavy upon their hearts. Let me lift the yoke from their shoulders, or, at least allow me to slip the yoke to mine and shift the weight so they won’t carry the burden alone.

 

It is a beautiful morning. Clean air, clear sky. It is a good day to go about my Father’s business.

I am coming, little ones, I am coming. You may already be with me now, but there is so much more that I will bring for you. Do not be afraid. Dawn is here. Light has come. You are forgotten no more.  Love always makes a way.

 

**

Want to help make a way with me for these forgotten children? More to come in the months ahead (hopefully!), but for the time being, consider partnering with Saving Grace Children’s Village to give street children a place to live and heal and grow.

 

 

Hold Tight To Hope

Though You say You’re with me always, I feel left high and dry. You brought me so close to sweetness and then snatched it away and slammed the door on my heart. I can’t tell You how much that stings. And so I nurse my wounds, already sensing my default to close off from the world.

I am still so terribly alone. And there is nothing You seem fit to do to soothe the sting, the ache. I don’t know how to pray. Don’t know what to even pray for. I have absolutely nothing for You, and what a desolate wasteland that is.

Selfish is me. But I don’t know how else to be. How can I do it—live this life?

I keep trusting in what I cannot see and it is so hard.

You are God. I am not. But I fight for my grip on life, my heart, afraid to relinquish control.

Like I’ve ever been in control in the first place.

 

 

**Read the rest at ALTARWORK!

Coming Alive For Christ

Hutha is a dead man come alive who risks all for the sake of Christ.

The FCA India leader holds tight to the words of Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

God set Hutha apart to be a messenger to the nations, and he enthusiastically follows the call. After all, if it were not for Jehovah Rapha, he would not be touching the lives of hundreds of villagers throughout his country by his story and a soccer ball.

As he began to know God in 2004, Hutha fell mentally ill in a spiritual attack. While he prayed for healing, his village ostracized him, thinking he was drunk or wild, calling him “Mental Man” and refusing to use his real name.

He remained in a hospital for one year.

His family, steeped in black magic and the Hindu culture, sought help from witch doctors, who suggested they use the blood of a chicken as sacrifice. Hutha refused and said he would rather die in the name of Jesus.

 

***

It is an absolute privilege to share this incredible story of my good friend and spiritual role model, Hutha, over at FCA.org. Please click the link to read the miraculous journey of this leader.

***

The God of healing is restoring hearts through sport, and there is even more of His work to be done. The vastness of Hutha’s region in India requires resources to travel and gas to power Hutha’s motorcycle. Please pray for volunteers to join Hutha in his work, and for finances to be able to go where God sends him across the region.

Click here to support Hutha’s ministry, and visit fcaworld.org to learn more about what FCA is doing in India.

Merry and Bright

We’re chest deep in the Christmas season, yet I don’t feel merry and bright.

My head is filled with frantic, stuffed to overload.

My brother and sister-in-law are preparing for their last holiday before they head to an Air Force base in the middle of the country for four years. Changes are coming for our family.

Days roll into one another, so caught in the snare of streamlining my hours, hit the ground running and spin of my spirit just to try and smooth a rhythm in this new off-balance stretch of season.

And, how can I forget—I mustn’t forget—the world’s on fire and the flames edge wilder each week.

Changes are coming for us all.

 

 

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Read the rest over at ALTARWORK.

Awakened

We are all meant to be.

Someone.

Something.

A flash of light through thick, syrupy darkness.

We have been fastened together by dreams and shapes and symphonies, formed in the secret spaces of the deep. Intentionally. With fervor.

We are silhouettes made of stardust, given faces and smiles sewn on our porcelain skin. In the moon-speckled night, our deepest longings were whispered delicately into our ear. While we slept, we soared.

And then, slowly, with sensation sweeping from our eyelids, we awoke. To colors drying and chipping from the sky. With our faces, our lineage, our stories, muffled against the exhaust of nameless fumes, toxic and telling us to move along. They invaded our invincibility, our homes that hooked us to our cotton clouds and pulled the string. We slipped and stumbled to the ground, no longer aware of the way we floated. Instead, the sharp realization of reality jabbed us in the jaw, and then we knew how much the fall would hurt once our brittle bones hit the earth.  Huddled around us, voices hissed, full of doubt and fear and cruelty. The voices grappled for the shine in our eyes, tender from the blistering light that led us for so long. They took the glow and hid them in shadows, where we could only hear the faintest whimpers as they wailed at our separation.

 

 

*** Read the rest over at ALTARWORK!

Worked Over by the Breath and Touch of God

The rain slides quietly down the window today, trees dropping their burnt-yellow leaves in the upturned breeze. October in Wisconsin is always a kaleidoscope, each day unknown—will the sky sprout bright blue with glow of sun? Or will it roll in with wind that slices to the bone?

I am three weeks in to calling this place home once again after never imagining I would. But the way God weaves my journey is much like this breathtaking month: open-ended question marks, never quite knowing what’s around the bend, rife with vibrantly changing color.

 

***

I’m HONORED and thrilled to be over at my friend and fellow Redbud Ingrid Lochamire’s blog today, talking about my season of life that has taken me to unexpected places. Ingrid has a tender heart of gold, and her passion to cultivate community through real and connective stories is an inspiration. Stop by her space today for a slice of real life and encouragement.

 

 

Strength and Wisdom

When FCA South Asia leader Adam* and his wife first married six years ago, they began to pray for a child. They prayed and waited, and prayed some more, yet no baby year after year. In the fifth year, God answered with a little girl. It was all, Adam acknowledges, God’s ways in His timing.

So, he knows a thing or two about patience, prayer, and perseverance, traits that serve him well in sports ministry. Adam carries himself with gentle strength and wisdom shaped by experience, attention and humility. He is dedicated to transforming lives and has a heart for the coaches and athletes in his region.

Adam, who joined FCA in 2012, first realized the potential for spiritual impact through athletics at an in-country sports conference. He met coaches whose lifestyles and hearts were different than of those he usually saw in the athletic arena and this piqued his curiosity.

Influenced and intrigued by these leaders, Adam then locally attended the Sports Leadership School in 2008, followed by a 3-month training in Africa, and began volunteering in sports ministry. He pieced together a blueprint for his own developing ministry within soccer.

 

 

Read more over at FCA.org.

Come To You

You tell me to come to You.

Me, worn and weary, fall into You, and You will give me rest.

Just come to You.

Simple.

Straightforward.

Just come.

 

Am I that brave?

Do I trust You enough to just come?

Leave my worries at Your feet?

Give You my troubles? The uncertainties of my life? Not knowing which way to turn, job elusive, a permanent place or residence aloof, my fears for settling and giving in to mediocrity?

Can I simply let my burdens fall from my heart and take Your yoke, which You promise is light?

 

 

Read the rest at ALTARWORK.

Why Not Me

I believe in God being a God of redemption. There is something in remembering, in strolling through the memory halls of my heart and still holding out my hope.

We ask for the miracle and then doubt reality when it materializes.

We justify it away, fill with disbelief, run questions through our hearts.

I am too tender to take courage in the face of what I want.

And so I ask the million dollar question: Why me?

I am just a shy, simple girl who buried her nose in books when she was young and hoped with every inch of her innocent heart for a way to break out of the monotony of daily rhythm, to find a love that was true and fierce, to connect the poetry of life with beating hearts. And maybe, just maybe, I could change the world with my smile.

Why could I deserve anything great? Get the most treasured desire of her heart fulfilled?

Is God that good? Could what I desperately hope for be something that pleases Him?

Hope is that stubborn flame that will not be quenched. That soft surge of light within that unfurls its rays to break open the tightest corners.

 

 

 

Read the rest over at ALTARWORK.