Monthly Archives: June 2011

When it seems nothing but everything changes

This week I went to a wedding of a friend I have known for about 7 years. We became friends, enjoyed some adventures, were part of a Bible Study, and have worshipped together at church on and off. He is the type of friend I appreciate as I know that the most important part of his life is his walk with God and that it is changing and growing. No matter how little or often our paths have crossed, faith is core to our friendship. As with most weddings there were other people I continue to cross paths with who are not as close but we make conversation and it’s enjoyable to spend time with them.

The standard question to ask seems to be, “What’s new?” It can be a difficult question. On the outside my life is nearly the same as it was 10 years ago – the same apartment, the same life status (single not in a relationship and without kids), and nearly the same job. I’ve travelled, mentored more kids, my nieces and nephews are older, I’ve taken classes, learned new things, been on adventures, taken up new sports, developed new friendships, deepened others, been in and ended close relationships, feel closer to God and further along in my journey. Lots has changed in my life, yet from an outsiders view, and sometimes in my own mirror I wonder if I have really changed other than the rise in gray hairs that I am seeing. I know that I am not the same person I was 10 years ago. Many of the goals and dreams I had ten years ago have not been realized (marriage, kids, house, new job) yet It seems that God continues to change and grow me and is preparing me. What that preparation is for I’m not sure but I continue to sense a stirring.

What struck me today is that Jesus must have gotten this question as well. As a man in his late teens and all through his 20’s the question “What’s new?” must have been asked over and over again. When was he going to find a nice girl, get married, start a family? It may have looked to outsiders he was stuck, oddly single, and possibly even that his career aspirations, if any, were small. Yet if they had listened to what was new about his relationship with his Father I believe they would have heard something else. What I appreciate about my now married friend is the type of friendship we have. A friendship in which the question of “What’s new?” is really about what God is doing in each other’s lives, whether it be seen in external or internal changes.

I don’t want to miss asking the question of “What’s new?” both from an external and internal perspective. I also don’t want to dismiss that the changes in my life, though not many are external, are significant and real.

What’s new with you?

Advertisements

Summer Missions Trip 25+ years later

The impact of summer missions trips has been on my mind today. Because of my office moving to a new location there have been some renewed friendships. One friend, Kim, is a supervisor at the child protection agency we are now located with. She’s excellent at what she does. We have continued to see each other in various meetings in the 11 years I have worked in the city. She’s worked in the city twice as long. She’s a remarkable woman and as a teenager she participated in the high school youth program at the church I attend. For maybe 30 years my church has been sending off youth and adult missions teams. Many times I have gone with them and though I am not going this summer, my heart is with them. Over 110 adults and youth are headed off this year to Moldova, Thailand, Nepal, Haiti, New Orleans, Boston, Malawi, Lebanon, and Jordan.

Kim and I caught up a lot this afternoon but I will remember what she shared with me years ago. It was on a summer missions trip as a high school student through my church that her heart began to be stirred toward social work and adoption. As I’ve been feeling a bit stuck professionally lately she reminded me of the relational impact we can have on others. She reminded me of the impact that can’t truly be measured and that it is not about the title we hold rather the time we spend. Kim has had a rough year personally but I look at her life and see how God has used her in some many people lives. One of the staff she supervises came in as we chatted and the social worker talked animatedly. She shared how a teenager who had repeatedly run from one residential program is going to give her new residential program a chance. The teenager stated to her social worker, “I’m worried I’m going to be a bum when I turn 18. You’re not going to leave me are you?” So this young social worker, who is well supervised by my friend Kim, assured her she would continue to walk with her. The social worker stated “I really felt I connected with her and she’s going to try to make it work. I told her I’m not going anywhere.” Kim is leading and serving well.

A stirring in Kim’s heart years ago allowed her to recognize her purpose then and now, being a light in a dark place. In addition to being a social work supervisor with the state her other role is a mother to 3 adopted sisters from foster care, now edging into adolescence. This is the impact of a missions trip and what God can stir up in one’s heart. God re-stirred up a lot of other things in my conversation with Kim… including an adoption and foster care ministry. Will I be faithful to God’s stirrings as Kim has been? I don’t want to miss God’s “stirrings” and acting upon them.

What has God has been stirring up in you, now or years ago when you were still a teenager?

Cubicle Inspiration

 My office is moving this week.  My co-workers and I have been “hosted” at another site within the agency for over a year until reorganization of space occurred.  We will be moving to a new location and sharing space with a much larger state agency.  It is better for the clients we serve as we’ll be back in the city.  I will be leaving my windowless office with its door and moving back to cubicle land.  On the other side of the new building lies the ocean, that will not be my view, I do not have a window.  The rhythm of my work will need to change.  My door is non-existent therefore can’t be shut to my co-workers talk of retirement or to save them from my adventurous musical taste, podcast or Pandora listening.  I know they wouldn’t appreciate my music or voicemails I listen to on speakerphone.

There is a list or rules for our new cubicleville – don’t hang any pictures on the walls, don’t plug in any small appliances, and some rules about tape, tacks, and many others I am already concerned about.  In my other spaces, and the office I just left, I have put up very intentional pictures, quotes, and art that are reminders to me to keep my work in perspective.  I have loved my current bulletin board and white board – I look up and most often I gain a bit of perspective – it was very sad taking it down.  Other people post phone numbers, lists, reminders, etc.  I tend to post what inspires me.   I have been concerned about how I will make this new space one that inspires me to keep moving forward.   I have realized that a new set of headphones is needed sooner than later.   Here’s a glimpse of what I took down.

Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature.  C.S. Lewis

 

This quote is next to a “life is good” sticker and a picture of an important kid in my life who has transformed me…she has not always believed life is good.

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.  It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.   – Anne Lamott

 “If you make $50,000 per year, you are wealthier than 99 percent of the world.” Global Rich List as read about in The Hole in our Gospel  (www.globalrichlist.com)

 Children I have taken pictures of in Haiti, Moldova, and Mexico (these are just a few of many pictures)

Below is the picture of a man in Haiti and I love his smile and the TapTap behind him.  I know as I took it he was walking through a road with broken homes and businesses around him. 

 He wasn’t posing… there was joy in his step. 

I also keep a list of the Places/Trips I have been on in the past 10 years – to remind me that I’m not standing still – and usually I have on my whiteboard the next adventure to look forward to. 

 What inspires you in your office, kitchen, at your desk, or in your cubicle?

How do you keep your perspective and stay inspired? (possibly even in a  cube with lots rules and don’ts)

Embracing a Space

During the Month of May I started working on a home project. There is a landing down my back stairs where there is room for 2 chairs and a little table. Gini, my downstairs neighbor, has had visions of flowers and a place to sit off her second story apartment. I didn’t have visions of anything but mosquitoes.

Cleaning – Scrubbing – and getting a sweet blister I embraced the project of cleaning one Sunday afternoon. I literally washed the green off the siding and wooden deck. We have a mold, green, roof issue here at the house I live in, yet its home. After a couple of weeks I finally found just the right window boxes (no drilling needed), picked out containers, dirt, and flowers conducive to shade, and set to work. Hours later and my last drill hole made (for a hanging plan) there is a space outside I have already come to love. Looking past the peeling paint, tinted green in places, there is a new look to a once dismissed space.

Sitting out the past week I have been amazed at how I had written off this space. I had not thought it could or would be anything special. I had not seen the potential or value in it, other than a second means of egress to pass fire standards. Yet I have been able to reflect, relax, and restore. I embraced what I had dismissed as ugly, unusable, and not worth the effort. The space was there all along. My struggle has been that my apartment is too small, cramped and I wish for so much more where I live, including flowers and the option of a garden. This part was outside my door all along.

Like my new newly embraced and transformed landing I don’t usually want to wade into the areas in my life that I have overlooked, are full of mold and a buildup of neglect. I don’t want to have to clean, possibly scrub, and maybe even get a blister. However there is beauty waiting. Gini my dear friend mentioned her hope and vision in passing. I don’t want to miss embracing the space that was there all along… the physical space and even in my heart.

Have you overlooked space before – made a small change and been surprised at the beauty?