Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We remember.

Yesterday marked two years since our brother Kyle Lake, pastor of UBC in Waco, died. Although I did not know Kyle personally, the news of his death and the experience thereafter moved me and many others who'd never even met him. Shaun Groves writes more about it here and also posted a tribute video to Kyle. You can visit here to find out more about how you can support his legacy via the Kyle Lake Foundation. You can also learn more about Kyle's Film and view trailers here. I recommend it.

May God watch over the flock he left behind, and his family, his beautiful wife and their three young children.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Home

[Some photos of mine from the summer-unedited, mind you]

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

[All taken at Lake Michigan. Heck yes...just as wonderful as the ocean, without rip tides, sharks, salt in your eyes and jelly fish.]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The American Way

Why do you so many Americans act and speak before they think? They feel so at liberty to comment on anything and everything, even those things they know little or absolutely nothing about. [I am often guilty as charged, mind you, but I usually try to at least think things out before I make a statement.]

What really gets to me is people who say ridiculous things in response to a situation that has been largely hurtful and difficult for my own community and people I both love and respect. Asinine comments are one of my biggest pet peeves, especially in times like these. Some people just need to shut up and deal with the fact that they have no clue what's going on here.

Those of you that know me well also know that it takes quite a bit to get a rise out of me. At this point, I am entirely sick of people attacking my community. Things are imperfect around here, there's no doubt about it. I have a feeling many mistakes on the part of our university officials will be revealed. But justice will prevail with or without some idiotic commentary from people that don't know us. I may not like what has happened, but at least I have enough sense to fight for my community and for what I believe in. I love my alma mater. I love the people it represents. I am passionate about its mission. And I have had the privilege to be a witness to that very mission being fulfilled in ways many people will never realize. A large part of my job is retelling the story of the many, many alumni that have made a tremendous impact in the world for God, and their stories started in the confines of this campus.

So many are quick to point a finger at someone else's failure, but don't realize that they are just as worthy of public humiliation, hosted by our horribly pervasive media that's anything but objective these days. I can't stand what they've made this into and how they spin things.

You may find it ironic that I criticize the media since it is my field, but I suppose when you think of a career as working for a man or an organization, you're bound to bitterly disagree with their practices.

None of what I do is for a man. It's for God and for the Kingdom. My first and foremost allegiance is to Him, and He's telling me we need to learn a lesson in grace and humility.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Unsent Letters

I thought I was ready.

I think I trembled as I wrote it. I tried to say that I was all in, that I was ready to do this. But something inside me knew that there was much to be proven, in both of us, before it could really be something beautiful. It seemed we had everything in the open. Progress...at long last. Then it stopped. Stalled. Fell apart. And slowly, it resolved. He moved on (as always). I healed. And I realized it was the last time I'd let him close to me like that.

It was finally over.

That week, a dear friend told me I was free as a bird. She said I could walk across the stage at my collegiate graduation (which was about a week from that night) and realize that I could go anywhere from there. I was unattached, able to pursue what I truly desired. I didn't feel free when she said it. I felt imprisoned by the weight that had settled into my chest. It was heart-wrenching. I was in suspension, wondering when it would stop hurting. But after a golden summer at home and many, many introspective moments, time spent watching the sunset, late-night talks with friends and family, watching the moonlight dance off the waves and hearing the sound of the wind rustling through the dune grass...I found myself again.

I found God in that place.

And now I'm here. Back where some of the greatest heartaches in my life have transpired. Walking the paths and frequenting the places where I had both joys and hardships. And most of all, where I learned what it meant to be passionate about my field of study and my pending career. It feels like a new start, even if the surroundings stayed the same.

So here I go
I'll chase the setting the sun tonight
If I know it gets me where I need to be
Here I go, I'm on my way again
And I'm perfectly safe where I belong


[If my life could be put into a song right now, this is what it would sound like.]

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fences

I hate fences with a passion.

I spent my Saturday morning picking up trash and talking to people in one of Tulsa's roughest neighborhoods (or at least the worst one the city was comfortable sending a few hundred well-meaning church folk into for a few hours). As a whole, our small army filled trash bags, trimmed hedges, cleared sidewalks, pulled weeds, spray painted addresses to curbs, repainted a house or two, and talked and prayed with a lot of folks. And in true Believers Church style, they also painted countless faces, cut hair and gave manicures in the park. Entire families were reaching out to other families. And we realized, all over again, that location means nothing. These people are just that...people. Imagine that.

Almost every single yard had a fence around it. One woman even yelled at me a little bit when I approached her door to offer to help with her yard. I had unknowingly invaded her space. Many people were gone or wouldn't come to their doors. They were entirely unsure of what to do with a bunch of smiling, garden-glove wearing people with rakes, lawn mowers, weed whackers, paint, brushes and hedge trimmers in tow. We even had city dump trucks and heavy machinery circling the neighborhood to pick up larger objects and piles of bagged garbage as we progressed. It was glorious. In all honesty, I think I'd be startled as well if something like that happened to me.

I struggled to put myself in the shoes of the people we reached. I struggled to see beyond the fences that threatened to separate us from them, and them from each other. But my passion for hearing and retelling others' stories started to work its way into the morning. After a while, I forgot about the fences. I put one foot in front of the other, filled those trash bags with a vengeance, and talked to people as we worked.

At one point, I met an elderly woman who came to her fence with curious eyes. She was 82 and wore rose colored glasses. She'd lived in that house since she was 31 and diligently swept the sidewalk every other day. She told me about her eye surgery she'd had a few years ago (necessitating sunglasses, but I like to think chose the rose color to make her delapidated neighborhood look just a bit brighter). She was beautiful and charming. With a smile, I told her she didn't look at day over 45 and her quick-witted response made me laugh, "I'll pay you later!" She reached over the fence and touched my arm as she said it.

There was so much more I wanted to say to her. To ask her. To pray over her. My heart burned with compassion. But for some reason, it was left unsaid. In retrospect, I think God purposely caused me to leave things unsaid. Outreach, in its truest form, should leave many things undone in our hearts. It should leave us burning to give more, to say more, to pray more readily and more fervently...to desire to be there every weekend or every day, not just once a month. To venture beyond the fences we ourselves have constructed and realize that the only place for us is in the center of God's will. I serve a God who breaks the rules every day. Who invades our universe and pulls us close to Him, dancing on the wrong side of the fence. He's beckoning us to join in a wonderfully undignified, epic story. To add our culture to another and to join in the beautiful diversity of humanity.

All this simultaneously scares me and stirs me. I love it.

So to all this I say: to hell with fences! That's where they belong, anyhow. I'd rather be on the "wrong" side of the fence in the center of God's will than sipping tea in a life of privilege.