Being Single & Seeking Community

Living alone has great benefits. There is no one to fight for control over the remote, wearing  whatever you like and eating whatever you like. It can be the absolute dream of being an adult. But there are times when it can be hard too. Coming home after a long day of work to an empty home can either be a relief or hard. 

A relief when the day has been long and stressful. When all I crave is a nice shower or bath, a bit of food and quiet before bed. Hard when craving companionship and no one is available because well life. Then there are those days when it’s a mixed bag, when you desire a bit of both. 

Right now, I’m in a peaceful place with my life and therefore my state of singleness. I’m coming up on my first year of living in my own home, becoming more settled in my position at work and growing more in my faith in the Lord.

But I have been in a place when it wasn’t good. When I listened to the lies to start with, the ones that say I was not worthy of God’s love and care. When my defenses are down and exhaustion seeps into my life I’m more susceptible To seek out comfort or weakness and sin . I turned away from the truth of who I am in Christ. Choosing instead to believe the lies,that I am forgotten or unloved. 

Thankfully I’ve been connected to a healthy church for most of my Christian life. Writing those words I understand how privileged that is to write . Because without a healthy community to rely on a person can fall into becoming disconnected.

Falling away from community doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, bit by bit until one day looking up and realizing that it’s just not there as it once had been. 

Finding a healthy church community is hard. Maintaining a connection to one is hard too. It means trusting strangers with all that we carry in our souls. People have been hurt because those they trusted disappointed them and so have withdrawn from pursuing community. 

A lot of factors can contribute to disconnection. Changes in work or school schedules, family obligations, personal health and mental health to name a few. Or perhaps there are difficulties with friendships or a feeling of a lack of care or finding understanding from your church. 

The thing to recognize first is do you believe that the Lord is your Savior ? I mean really believe that you are the beloved child of God? Without first believing this, then the rest doesn’t matter. Nothing else written here can help you. 

If you find yourself in a state of disbelief who can you reach out that you trust to discuss this? 

Pray for your belief in Him and in the community He desires you take part in. 

Peel back the layers of your struggle with connecting with others and seek the Lord’s wisdom in letting go of your defenses. Allow walls to tumble down in order to connect or reconnect.

Reach out to renew old relationships that help you to strive for the Lord. Some old connections do need to stay in the past. Be wise here.

Stay connected, living in community takes belief, trust and effort. It can be hard, but it is so worth it. Make the effort to join a group offered at church or volunteer.

I’ve learned to open myself up more, to be vulnerable with people and honest with people in my life. Instead of holding things in and it allowing bitterness to seep in. I try to reach out to people in my life and to stop assuming things about them.

I tend to long to be invited to things and so I had to challenge myself to also invite people into my home. Doing these things has helped me in those hard times of be alone.

Working at relationships has helped me to understand the Gospel even more so. Having a strong community of women who love Jesus has helped me in learning to disbelieve those lies.

Cross and bright sunshine

Beyond My Heart

I’ve been thinking about what it means to follow God’s heart instead of my own.

Praying

Wrestling

Journaling

In these times of instant reaction and emotional see saws it’s hard to get a grasp on what truly matters. It’s been hard for me to step back and take my time processing information. So much is thrown out here on the inter webs. One story after another comes out, full of half facts and slanted view points.

It just gets so loud.

I’ve had to learn to limit my time on social media. Spend more time in prayer and with God’s word and less on social media. Taking time to sift through facts and not just react.

I’ve also learned that because I may have a response to someone’s post doesn’t mean I need to respond. Social media is not necessarily a place for conversation. It’s more of a declarative thing, a way to say I CHALLENGE YOU TO ARGUE MY POST!

Something I’ve also been guilty of doing. I mention this because the struggle I have is one of judgement of others. As if a post or comment can show me the depth and breadth of a persons heart.

When I sit in judgement of others , I am saying that I am right and that’s all that matters. But there is something bigger that must happen beyond being right. It’s caring for people in a way that makes me uncomfortable.

My heart gets caught up in the surface of things. The anger I feel towards injustice, pain and hatred is natural. It’s important to reject racist rhetoric, to educate and speak up when needed.

When it gets dangerous is when I’m inclined to turn away from people. When my desire is to turn away instead towards them. Calling out hate speech, racism in our everyday lives is important. But what happens after the call out is important too.

This is where the heart work comes in ( see what I did there). It’s not enough that hatred is exposed, but also to help another let go of ingrained, generational hatreds and fears.

Because if my heart is hardened towards others, how can I even claim to love Jesus?

In this place I sit with the Lord. I pray for a heart beyond myself. To use the anger that I was created with for His will and not my own. How can I be effective for the Lord if I don’t come from a place of love?

The Choice

love is a choice, then too is hatred

Choosing to see another human as an other

Instead of a fellow struggling, messy human soul

Choosing fear over care

Choosing to use energy to destroy another soul

When instead we can choose to love

To see them as people in need of care and love

When hate is chosen instead of love

Hate gives a false sense of power

Hate lies that it’s protecting you

Hate lies that it must exist

Hate lies that you have control

When in fact it’s LOVE that must exist

Love calls us To care

Love call us To create community

Love calls us To unify

Love calls us beyond ourselves

When we choose love we honor God

Which is your choice?

Love and Hate

I attended church yesterday with a heavy heart, the events of Saturday in Charlottesvile, VA at the forefront of my mind. I was not however surprised. Racism is something that will always exist in this broken world. My pastor spoke that love and hate are intertwined. I cannot disagree, love is powerful and can be good. It means caring and wanting the best for the thing I love.

But

What do I love so much that I would hate? It’s a valid question. If my family or friends are hurt, I hate what hurts them.

So

As I look at my newsfeed on various social media outlets, and I look at the chilling photos of well dressed white men holding torches and seig heiling ( not sure of the proper verbage for it). I wonder how much do they love the idealogy of whiteness to hate the rest of God’s creations?

For we are all image bearers. My saviour was not white. He was on earth a middle eastern Jewish man who brought salvation to all.

One cannot be of two minds. You either love God and therefore love all. Or hate God and love the few. What you love is what you are most passionate about, what you expend time and energy on. If you are more passionate arguing on social media about things that attack your comfort than  in working to love God and others than perhaps its time to reevaulate what you are truly loving. The heart is a decitful thing, and idol maker and can lead people away from God.

This weekend’s past events in addition to other events have made it evident that there are many who love the idealogy of whiteness over all. The death of Heather Heyer happened because a man so full of hate drove into a crowd on purpose. Because what he loves overrides the diginity of others. Because what he worships was being attacked in his mind.

I pray for him to repent and have  a Paul moment ( Act 9:1-19). Paul was a man called Saul who persecuted Christians until Christ intervened, causing him to be blinded for a period of time. When he was able to see again, he saw the truth of who he had been and became someone new. I truly believe that people can change, to learn to love something beyond their own comforts.

My first inclination is to hate these people right back. I am angered and saddend but not surprised. I must fight against this because how can I claim to love Christ if I hate who he created? How can people meet Jesus if I am not willing to see them as people in need of Him?

I love God and therefore I fight against hate. I will do so by how I know best, my words. I will continue to work in my community loving people because they need love. I will engage in hard conversations and not back down. I will listen and read as I have been. I have much to learn and much to love. Most of all much to be in prayer for my own heart, my community and this nation.

I pray for there to be more love of God then of self preservation.

Books I have been reading

Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Bryan Fikkert

The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

White Trash  The 400 year untold story of class in America by Nancy Isenberg

 

Unexpected Places

I never once imagined that I would end working with kids. I played teacher as a kid but I also played doctor, super hero and WWII spy. ( In a way it’s understandable to see why I enjoy writing fiction so much!). But working with kids as a career? NOPE. Or at least that was what I believed. Until I met my friend Mary Ann who works with Greater Miami Youth For Christ in a program called KIX ( Kids in Christ). It is an afterschool program (among several ) that reaches into a few neighborhoods throughout Miami. Through my friendship with Mary Ann, I started to volunteer off and on over the years. Helping out with homework or being there for the teen program on Friday nights.

Last year though, I was offered a position as staff. It was an answer to a prayer, a second source of income and feeling the God moment in it. Have you ever had a moment where there was no hesitation to say yes because it just felt right? This was one of those moments for me. I knew I was going to say yes to this and I began work with the second and third graders three days a week.

Let me tell you something, it has been the hardest job I have ever had but by far the most rewarding. These kids they just get into the heart. One in particular reminds me of myself. She has a bit of imagination and I see the story teller emerging in her. I get her, I was her at her age. I lacked confidence in my abilities with Math homework ( and I’ve only just begun to encounter this Core Math stuff too). Working each day with my girl is one of the highlights of the day. Seeing that moment when she gets it, especially after fighting hard for the answer is a victory. Her victory.

I have been told that God qualifies us for the work He needs us to do. This is why this time in my life could not have been planned by myself. I did not feel confident in being able to do something like this in my life. But God is greater than my doubts. This is where my trust in Him comes in for my life. Trusting Him in this place has been a huge lesson for me. I’m still learning and I’m not the greatest every day but there is grace in this work. As I learned a few years ago, work is worship and worship is work.

The desire and heart of Greater Miami YFC ( and YFC nationwide and international) is to reach the youth. Kids and teens in communites of all kinds bringing the love of Christ into their lives. The neighborhood that we minister  in is one of the largest Habitat communites in the country. It is a tight knit community that often has dealt with crime and violence. A few weeks ago a young lady was shot in the face by her ex boyfriend waiting for the school bus. She survived but she may lose her right eye.

This is the reality of what these kids deal with day in and day out. But by being able to come to KIX afterschool or  for teen events gives them a respite. It gives them a place to point to and say there is safety and love inside that building. I am grateful to get to be part of it. To plant seeds of hope in Christ and loving on these kids. I look forward to the next victory my girl has this coming week.

I would love it if you could dear reader take a moment to click on the link for Greater Miami Youth For Christ to learn more about what we do in our vast city. Perhaps you would like to get involved with your local chapter or even donate to KIX ( just look for my name under the donate tab). Most of all I would like your prayers for this neighborhood and many like it through out our country. For these kids to find a place of hope and love in the name of Christ.

 

 

Story Monday: Bookshelf Purge

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Box of books ready for donation

We all have those books that mean more to us than others. It struck me recently as I paired down my bookshelves that there were some books I always keep. And my hope to one day live in a tiny house means I will need to choose which books to keep and which to purge.

After all I won’t have much room to store them. By giving away books I have no interest in reading again, I am giving someone the opportunity to enjoy them. For them to do more than collect dust on my shelves.

Doing this can be hard. Feeling as if I am now betraying these works who live on my shelves. As a book lover, it is within me to keep all the books. However, practically I cannot continue to keep them.

In future I am going to put aside those books I have no desire to read again. To either give them away to my friends or donate to my local library, hospital or nursing home. Yes, I could also sell them to a used book store. However the danger here is then returning home with more books!

What a great way to help the community? By giving the gift of story?

Mid Week Motivator: Nano Prep Part 4

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In just a few days Nanowrimo officially begins! The next few weeks will be full of challenging creativity. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. While this a competition, this is not a race against others but with others.

Schedule your writing time. Whether it means getting up earlier . Some days you may have more time to write than others. Honor the time you have set aside.

Join local write ins. This will help you connect to other writers. Don’t forget the online community as well. Join in on the fun on Twitter by following the #Nanowrimo.

Most of all enjoy the process! You may find you have a first draft to polish in December or a head start towards your first draft.