Monday, July 30, 2012

Birthday Post, Pt. 1

I woke up this birthday morning unable to shake this line:
"Rejoice, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."

I remember exactly one year ago joking with my friends about turning 25.  You know, they say you begin dying at 25.  You are no longer more than 51% living; you are, instead, 51% dying -- it has something to do with your oxygen intake or consumption or something.  I don't really know.  But I know I'm on my way out, and no longer on my way in.

So the dreams that have been created, and the hope for influence, and the stir-craziness in my soul to do something worthwhile -- those things I want to start doing.  And not just thinking about doing.  I want to see dreams come to reality.  I'm on my way out, you know........

25 was quite the year.  Maybe one of the most eventful in a long time.

Ann Voskamp says, "joy and pain -- they are but two arteries of one heart that pumps through all those who don't numb themselves to really living."

This little gem of a statement has defined much of my 25th year on earth.

Joy.  Joys abounding.
New roommates.  A new, cozy home.  Meals with friends.  Laughter in car rides.  Songs that speak in ways words never could.  Living in brutal, beautiful honesty.  My support team.  Tanning on the beach with friends.  BGSU Greeks.  Living in the face of seemingly debilitating fear.  Free Kenny Chesney concert on the beach.  Chasing for the real over counterfeit.  Friendship.  The Color Run.  BG CRU.  The Seifferts.  Kala Butler.  Ashley Rozelle.  The Butler gang.  Fireworks.  Trips to the breathtaking San Diego and Arizona.  Redeeming misfit sins.  Celebrating.  Cookie cakes.  Friends marrying the loves of their lives.  Taking risks.  Late-night TBS Friends marathons.  Learning the art of gratefulness.  Language.  BG CRU staff team.  Opening myself up to love, and romance, and marriage dreams.  Allowing my heart to wonder.  Sunsets.  Mornings with coffee and the Bible.  Beholding the underwater beauty while snorkeling.  Praying.  Making decisions by sheer faith.  Full-out wrestling with God.  Love, and the darlingness of it.  Worship.  Beauty platformed.  Pumpkins.  Back roads.  North Carolina.  People believing in Jesus for the first time.

And yet, yet........

Pain.  Pains deep.
Heartbreak.  Insecurity.  Uncertainties.  Begging God for other ways & options...and Him not giving them.  Finances.  Shattered dreams.  Slavery.  Questioning God.  Excavation of the soul.  Wrestling.  Sleepless nights.  Break up.  Armor to shield the weapons.  Grief.  Skepticism.  Distrust.  Reflecting.  Loss.

Joy and pain -- two arteries of one heart of those who don't numb themselves to living. 

25.  Fully alive.  Feeling the elation of joys.  Feeling the pierce of pain.

I'd rather live with a fleshy, soft heart, than a cold, stony heart.  Through the joys.  and the pains.

It's been a year.  I wouldn't trade the past year for anything.  Beauty for ashes.

For those of you who were written into my story of the 25th chapter -- thank you for walking with me.  We are sojourners on mission with others.  My life is blessed because of you.

Mat Kearney says this in one of my favorite songs of the year... "that was the real you singin' hallelujah lookin' down a barrel."

It's been a bit of a "lookin' down the barrel" year in many regards.  But, I resolve. 
Hallelujah!  Hallelujah!

Rejoice, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.  Indeed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Call Me Maybe

The Olympic Opening Ceremonies start tonight.

So, to get you all in the mood, I thought this video from the 2012 Swim Team might be perfectly appropriate......

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mom Jeans

...because it's hilarious.  And because if you haven't seen it, you should.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Living the Dream

All we were trying to do was transform a tiny little college campus in the Northeast corner of Ohio.  We had some really good news about a God who intervened in our lives and we simply wanted to talk with our friends about Him.  It's kinda like when you find a really good cupcake shop, you don't want to just hoard it all to yourself -- you want to share it with your special friends.

And, so, we were on mission together.  We were committed to inviting everyone to the "cupcake shop," who would be willing to try it.

And, when that happens...when you find something you're passionate about, and you find others to join you on that journey...those "others" become some of your dearest friends in the world.  You share in the struggles, the sadness, the frustrations, and the heartbreaks of the journey with those you travel with.  You also rejoice together, and sing songs together, and laugh, and dance together.  You do life together -- the beautiful and the ugly.  And those "others" on your journey see you at your best and at your worst.

That's precisely what happened with some of my sweetest friends, Ben and Shaina.

We met when I was a freshman at Mount Union College (they, seniors) when they simply opened up their home to me and invited me over dinner.  That one small dinner changed the trajectory of how I would live my life.  We were excited about God together and we wanted Mount Union to taste of the gospel and consider it good.

The Thompsons now, still some of my dearest friends in the world, are living a story they never could have created on their own -- even if they had tried.

The story God is writing through the lives of Ben, and Shaina, and their beauty Chaia, is epic and majestic.  And way larger than any of us would ever dared imagine as we sat in the measly Mount Union College chapel praying for a campus years ago, or as we sat around the dinner table in a one bedroom apartment swapping dreams of the things we wish to come, or as we sat on college futons in freshman dorms planning campus-wide Capture the Flag, or as we were skipping class to grab lunch with a friend to hear about their thoughts on God, or as we stayed up until 3AM (blowing off papers) talking about the cost of following Jesus -- and better yet -- the rewards of following Jesus, etc.  We dreamt a lot together, we had mighty dreams for future years and we had hearts that begged for God to use them, and we thought we were crazy.  We thought our dreams were so massive and so unattainable.  

And yet, yet, here's this story of my sweet friends who dreamt like crazy -- but the story they're living now is way wilder than they ever thought possible.  The costs and the losses and the pains are deeper.  ...and so are the rewards and gains and joys.

I am so privileged to be a part of Ben and Shaina's lives.  I couldn't have picked a greater couple to have been mentored by, brought up in, and shepherded by.  

I love what they're doing in Columbus.  
Columbus and Ohio State are receiving some of the greatest people in the world.  

May God bless you and keep you and may He be gracious to you.  May his face shine upon you and give you peace, Ben & Shaina.  I believe in you.  "This is not the end." --Gungor

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Green meadows & peaceful streams.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.  

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

My cup overflows with blessings.  
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Influencing the World

Pat Summit is fascinating and totally lovely.  Her story inspires me.

You'll want to be sure to watch this little film as Pat's life unfolds before you and captures your heart.

(It's a little on the long side [13 minutes], so settle in with your Diet Pepsi and a box of tissues).

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Wildwood Caught on Film

Where did we leave off?  About 4 weeks ago?  Caught on film: the rest of Wildwood Summer Project, CRU Staff Style...

Snaggin' a little Chick Fil-A on our staff day off for our southern folks' fix.

Taking an evening to relax from "normal" project life...putt putt'ing and eating lots of ice cream.

Our students doing a little teamwork activity.  Preppin' for the staff to leave.


Our staff's final Wildwood Women's Time at the Tea Room. this guy is a champ to lead Wildwood so graciously with me.  

Our full staff team on our final night together.  Aren't they lovely?

I got to train these gorgeous women this summer -- Chelsea, Lara, (myself), and Megan.

While the team of 30 CRU Staff have departed from Wildwood, the 60 students still remain there.  They are leading mentoring relationships, spiritual conversations with friends & co-workers & internationals, they are leading small groups and weekly meetings and community outreaches, etc.  I'm proud of our students' leadership and owning the vision of Wildwood Summer Project.  We have passed on the torch -- and we could not have passed it on to any better students.  

Wildwood Summer Project 2012.