Changing the Plan

From the beginning, I knew that the purpose of my trip to Nepal was exploration. Exploring the ministry, the culture, and the country to determine if the next four years of my life were going to be spent serving there. But I also went with the idea that this was the last step in the process, the confirmation of what I had surmised was a perfect fit. For the first week, I was all in. Loved the people, especially the staff of the ministry I would be working with. Loved the food. Knew that I could grow to love the chaos and dirtiness of the city, and that it could eventually become home.

During our road trip, however, a change took place. Two things happened. First, I was able to get a realisitc picture of the timeline for when teachers will be needed at the school I was hoping to work at, which is not any time in the near future. Second, I realized that my passion is to work with orphans, but that I don’t really know what that looks like. My heart is not necessarily for this particular country or organization, but to serve the fatherless in some capacity. 

Well, that changed things pretty quickly. I did not go to Nepal with a backup plan, but I came home knowing that I am not moving there in August. The past two weeks have been spent processing, praying, and adjusting to this monumental shift in the direction I thought my life was headed. The primary emotion I have felt has been exhaustion, mentally and physically. I am not fearful, for my confidence rests in the sovereign God of the universe who knows me and knows what my future holds. I know that my time in Nepal was not in vain, that there was a purpose for my being there.

For now I am pursuing several options for this coming year, all very different, yet all equally exciting. As a planner, slightly on the OCD side of things, this is still relatively new territory for me. It is good though, as through it I am growing in ways I never would have if I was given a road map.

5 Minutes

So true!
So true!

Living in a mobile, fast paced, ever-changing society such as ours has its advantages and its disadvantages. On the plus side, we can now explore more of the world than ever before, we can experience new things, and we have the opportunity to get to know a greater number of people than if we spent our whole lives living in one place. The downside is that once you leave those friends, or they leave you, a rut begins that goes like this:

“Oh, I haven’t talked to [insert name here] in a while! I should call her, but I really don’t have time for a long chat.”

One month later….

“Oh goodness! Now it has been two months since I talked to [insert name here]. I want to catch up with them, but with my crazy schedule I just can’t spare 2 hours.”

Another month goes by, and you finally have a free afternoon. So, you call them, and get their voicemail, of course. Then they call you back, and get your voicemail, and the cycle is perpetuated until you finally connect and spend 3+ hours catching up on the past 6 months or however long it has been since you last spoke. At the end of the call both parties promise to call sooner and agree not to let this happen again, except that it always does.

At least, that is what so often happens in my world. Until recently, when I read a fabulous blog post I can’t find anymore from someone I have never met. She postulated a solution she uses to correct this endless cycle that has helped me tremendously in keeping up with dear friends.

The idea is not revolutionary, but it does take commitment on both sides.

You both agree to talk more often for a shorter amount of time, say 5 minutes.

It is extraordinary how much you can communicate in 5 minutes.

Just share one story from your day, or call to share something funny that happened, or just to say hi and hear their voice. The best part about it is because you have both agreed to the plan, there is no guilt when you call on your way to the grocery store and say “hi, on my way to the store, just wanted to see how your week is going”, and 4 minutes later when you arrive saying “ok, great to chat, just got here! Talk to you again soon”.

I’ve been experimenting with this brilliant idea since I moved back to DC a few months ago, and so far I love it. I have a list on my phone of 8-10 friends who are in it with me, and on my 30-45 minute drive home from work, I go down the list and call them. Or I call them when I see something that reminds me of them, or do something I know would make them laugh. Or I call on my way to the store, or while I am sitting at home. And sometimes they call me! Some days I talk to one friend, other days I talk to 4 voicemails, and still other days I talk to three friends in one drive. Sometimes we talk for 3 minutes, and sometimes we talk for an hour and a half.

It’s really quite freeing. We place such high expectations on ourselves when it comes to keeping up with our friends, thinking that it is only a “good” talk if it lasts for hours and you talk about every aspect of your life. But the reality is we rarely have time for those chats, even though our desire to maintain the friendship is genuine. What I have found is that talking more often, no matter how long or short the conversation, strengthens the bond and deepens the friendship in a way that talking for longer periods less often cannot accomplish.

So, I invite you to try it. Share the idea and see if your friends are interested. You never know what might happen!



Birthday Post: #27

Twenty-seven. Feels old when I say it. I know in my brain that 27 is not old at all, especially considering I had myself convinced most of this year that I was turning 28 on this birthday. But now I can say I am in my late twenties, instead of merely in my mid-twenties. Weird.

My generation has often been called “boomerang” children – we leave the nest for college/job/running away/exploration and adventure/whatever we feel like, and then return home at some point in our twenties to live at home once again. Most do it out of economic necessity, or because of a crisis or situation that renders home the best place to be. I always claimed that I was never going to be a boomerang child. That once I was out, I was out to stay. Well, never say never, I suppose, because here as my 27th birthday comes to a close, I find myself firmly ensconced in the basement of my parents’ house.

Growing up I envisioned a very different life. This is not exactly where I thought I would be at this point, yet at the same time I am utterly convinced that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Back living at home, pursuing a dream that has been on my heart for 10+ years. This life I have been given has been an adventure filled with many twists that I never saw coming, including leaving staff with Cru to pursue going to a country in Southeast Asia I had heard very little of until last summer!

It is kind of fun starting a new chapter on my birthday. New (old) home, new job, new church, etc. It feels fresh, full of hope, burgeoning with anticipation of all the good things the next twelve months will hold. I’m sure there will be hard times, and disappointments, and struggles, just like always. But there is also a new hope (yes, that was a deliberate Star Wars reference, and yes, I know I am a nerd) growing. I am standing on the edge of a cliff, about to jump, with no idea what is waiting for me at the bottom.

Ready? Set? Go!!!!

Why I am Terricited (and what that even means)

Everything is about to change. Except Jesus. Thankfully, He always remains the same. I’ve been singing the hymn “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” in my head for the past two days. And that is so true. My hope and my confidence are in Christ alone.

I start off that way because the rest of my life at this moment is in a state of chaos and transition, with very little solid ground to stand upon. Most of the upheaval is exciting, although part of it is absolutely terrifying, and a tiny bit of it is sad. In other words, I am terricited – both terrified and excited all at the same time. I made that word up the other day…feel free to use it as you have need of it. 😉 One year ago, if you had told me this change was going to happen, I probably would have laughed. But now it is real, and really happening. And I am learning that reality is my friend, and to embrace it.

What are these changes, you ask? Well, it all starts about 10 years ago, when I went to Ukraine for the first time and fell in love with a group of unkempt, lost, lonely children living on the street, desperately in need of love, a home, and the gospel. My heart was captured, and since that time I have wanted to work with orphans overseas. For a variety of reasons that I won’t get into right now (feel free to ask me about it though – would love to share!) the Lord has led me instead on a windy path that has moved me from Charleston, SC, to Berlin, Germany and then to Indianapolis, IN, all the time working with university students.

And I have loved it. Serving on staff with Cru for the past five years has been incredibly enriching, challenging, fun, growth-filled, sanctifying, humbling, stretching, delightful and hilarious. It is an adventure that I would not trade, and I am so thankful for the community and growth that came through being a part of this ministry, and the experience of seeing God actively working in the lives of men and women around the world as His gospel goes forth.

But now a new set of children have captured my heart, this time in Southeast Asia. And so, with some sadness, a little bit of terror, and a lot of excitement, I am saying farewell to Cru and pursuing going to this new, unknown place to love on and serve a group of orphans. The Lord is answering a desire of my heart that I have been praying about for a decade, and I am running after it until He closes the door or leads me otherwise!

There are still so, so many things to work out with this new opportunity (hence the bit of terror). So many unanswered questions. For example: How am I going to get there? And who is going to come with me? (Would you like to come with me? I am now accepting applications for a teammate who is fantastic, adventurous, and loves Jesus. I joke. But really. Let me know. We’ll talk). And when am I going to go? And what will my role look like? And am I crazy? (don’t worry – I already know the answer to that one).

What I do know is that there is One who sees everything, all at once, and I can rest knowing that He knows. He knows the answer to every question I have, and as I continue faithfully walking with Him all things will be revealed. It might end up looking completely different than what I anticipate. I haven’t done so well in the past holding my dreams and desires with an open hand, but I am learning. And this time, I am open to whatever the Lord wants this new adventure to look like.

In the meantime, I am moving back to Northern Virginia to spend some quality time with the family & enjoy my new nephew, start learning the language of the place I am going, transition to a new ministry, love Jesus, embrace community and continue growing and learning to love people well. I will also be learning to embrace the chaos, and maybe, just maybe, even enjoy it.

2012 is here….and?

What are you going to do about it?

For some reason 2011 flew by like a flash (not that I’m complaining), and when I woke up on Sunday a new year had dawned (as a side note, I really like starting the new year on a Sunday. It just seems right somehow). The year didn’t go exactly as I had planned, but then again, nothing ever does.

I’m not really big on goals or resolutions. I never seem able to keep them, and at the end of the year just end up frustrated or uncommitted to what I originally said. Andy Stanley preached a great sermon on Sunday that I totally agree with. The gist of it is that what we do is not nearly as important as who we are. What we do comes out of who we are. So, if we don’t first change the “who”, than the “what” isn’t going to get very far, no matter how hard we try.

At the beginning of each year, I make 3 lists. One is of ways I grew in the past year, two is the way I hope to grow in the new year, and three is the ways God showed up as my Jehovah-Jireh in the past year. I’ve been doing this for the past 5 years or so, and I love looking back and seeing all that the Lord did, as well as looking forward to what He will do in the new year.

In 2011, I had 8 things on my “hope to grow in 2011” list:

  • Mercy/Justice ministry – developing a heart for the poor and needy, and learning to love them
  • Ministry strengths – learning new ways to use my gifts and grow in ministry capacity
  • Expectation management – that I will expect great things from God, and learn from Him how to manage well the things of my heart (something I am very, very bad at)
  • Financial stewardship – to use well the money I have been given
  • Communication – keeping up more with friends, talk more, put people first
  • Bible study – deepen my knowledge of God through His word
  • Prayer – learning to cultivate Adoration and Thanksgiving, not just supplication
  • Self-discipline – exercising more, eating healthy, contentment with what the Lord has given me

The past 2 years have held an amazing amount of change, pain and altered plans, and I am thankful that in the midst of it all the Lord did indeed grow me in each of these areas in 2011 in some way – some in bigger ways than others, some I completely forgot I had on there, others were constant sources of my attention. What a great reminder that even when I forget what I ask for, He remembers.

As 2012 begins, I want to change my list to “what I want to be true of me at the end of the year”. I really want all those same areas of growth to be true again. But I realized that 8 things is a whole lot, so I think I will narrow it down to the top four, with one of them being new.

Here we goooooooo! By the end of 2012, I hope to be a person of…..

  • Expectation management – This one still needs a LOT of work. Sigh. Trusting the Lord in 2012 to help me surrender all of my wealth of expectations and just go with the flow.
  • Communication – We definitely made progress last year, but this year I want to continue to grow in communicating well, especially with friends and family who live far away (which is pretty much the majority of them)
  • Prayer – Learning more about God’s heart for prayer, how to pray, what to pray for, and how to listen (always hard considering how much I love to talk and how easily I get distracted)
  • Trust – This is a constant growth area, but this year, especially in light of my post from yesterday, I hope to grow in actually trusting His plan and His sovereignty and not trying to manipulate my own way, or even try to figure out the what or why’s of what He is doing in my life. I don’t need to know until He tells me.

Who do you want to be in 2012?