Today I did my best at #8,
Be a friend who listens.
I’m really good at talking, not nearly as good at listening. But this is a characteristic that I want to define who I am, and how I treat others. Like most things that don’t come naturally, practice makes perfect.
I’m thankful for friends who give me opportunities to listen, and to love.
Today is day 2 and I chose #6
Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life.
I chose Jen Arens and with her permission, this is the letter:
You’ve been a part of my life since I was 16. I had just moved out of a home of an addicted mother where I was made to feel that everything about me was wrong.
I was hurting and alone. I felt too different, and fought as hard as I could to fake normal. I thought that was the key to making it out alive; trick everyone into thinking you are just like them. They can’t hurt you if they never really see you.
And then I met you. You were bananas; an original to the core.
You were fully you- honest and vulnerable, outgoing and bold, completely without a filter and unabashedly loving.
I met you and the scales fell from my eyes. I thought, “This woman holds nothing back. She loves Jesus and the freaks in the margins just the same. She is free. All I want is to be free”
I’ve had the privilege of living life with you since then.
I’ve modeled my ministry, my parenting, and my love after yours.
People give me a lot of credit for the things I get to do, and truth I get to speak into the lives of others. But I am not a pioneer; I am a woman who identifies those who have gone before and gotten it right as they clear a path for the next wave.
We’ve been through a lot together.
You were the first person I told I knew I was called to ministry. You tried to talk me out of it. Jokes on you, look at me now 🙂
You were the second person I told I was 20 years old, pregnant, and not married- second to Anthony… Priorities.
I sat with you and cried when I struggled with infertility- feeling like I was being punished for not getting it right the first time, and you picked up weight that I couldn’t bare.
I walked with you as a ministry you were passionate was taken away, and rejoiced years later with you when you were given your hearts utmost desire- a ministry in the Bayview.
I refer to you as a mother figure in my life, but that terminology doesn’t really do justice for who you really are.
You have been my mother, my friend, my confidant, my stretcher-bearer, the giver of a swift kick in the pants, and reality checker. You have reminded me that faith with no bounds can move unimaginable mountains. You are showing us that cancer doesn’t mean we can’t still do amazing things for the kingdom.
Jen, as I finish this note, while crying my eyes out- I want to say thanks.
Thanks for never being afraid to be who God created you to be, even when people didn’t get it, or felt threatened by you, or tried to marginalized or silence you.
I am me because of you. I have Jesus because of you. I’ll never stop fighting with love because you’ve done that for me.
Today is day one, and I decided to do almost the last thing on my Lent list.
69. Say something kind to a child.
We had youth programs tonight, and I was able to have a good one on one conversation with a girl who is close to my heart. In a lot of ways, she reminds me of little Lisa.
She’s struggling and trying to figure it out. Sometimes she does well, and sometimes she falls short (kinda like the rest of us). Today our chat was light hearted and fun. They don’t have to all be heavy and emotional to be valuable.
We Salvos love to show Jesus in the ministry of presence. Today was one of those days.
And then there was Leilah….
Today was her birthday and she thought no established rule on the earth applied to her. As you can guess, that thinking led to distruction.
As a consequence for her crazy behavior, she wasn’t able to open the rest of her birthday presents.
She. Was. Mortified.
We sat in the car and had a serious chat about how even on our birthdays, we still need to be kind. In my humanness and general exhaustion, I just wanted to go home and send her straight to bed. But even though the day went a little sideways, it was still her birthday. Probably the first birthday she will remember.
So she got an ice cream cone on the way home. Birthday cake in a sugar cone.
I don’t know if I did it all right, but I know I did the best I could with that I had.
Our kids are a gift. I hope I never take them for granted.
Lent Starts tomorrow!
True to form, I’ve got to do things my own way. So like I did a few years ago, I’m going to experience Lent in a different way.
Many who are from a spiritual tradition who are used to experiencing Lent, manifest this by giving up something. Sometimes, meat, or soda, or Facebook, or something else that is difficult for them to remove from their lives. That is except for Sunday’s. I’m not sure why, but the OG’s who came up with the Lent rules, somehow decided that you get a free day. Some say this is so during a time of sacrifice, Sunday’s are mini-Easters, time to celebrate the resurrected Savior. I think this has more to do with people not being able to commit to a solid chunk of time to do anything that may make them feel uncomfortable. But maybe that is just be being slightly cynical….
So like I said, Lent for us at Seattle White Center is collectively different. Instead of taking something away, or focus on sacrifice, we are going to intentionally add something- one small act of acts of kindness every day. I created a list of 70 things, yes I said 70. I know that is more than 40, but some on this list aren’t for everyone. Several have to do with your kids, and if you don’t have kids, then those ones wont work for you.
(For my list, see picture below)
So you pick one and live it out every day. You go in any order you want, and if one is really transformative, then feel free to do that one more than one time. You do you Boo Boo.
As we share about what this looks like in our lives via social media- because we all know if it isn’t on Facebook, then it didn’t really happen (insert sarcastic high arch eyebrow here), we are using the hashtag #WhiteCenterLents. Even if you don’t live or worship in the White Center area of Seattle, feel free to use this hashtag anyway.
Our world is busted and hurting. A little more kindness every day would be right on time.
Let’s show we love Jesus, OTHERS, and our communities by Lent-ing together.
#WhiteCenterLents #TheSalvationArmy #CommunityCareMinistry #TheNewLent
A BRAVE event is coming to Seattle in the spring of 2017.
What is BRAVE?
BRAVE is a catalytic event for conversation and connection. This is a one day event where we will come together to remind a very specific demographic that they are worth celebrating; girls 12-18 who are in Foster Care.
These girls are vulnerable and susceptible to violence, and coercion in illegal and sexually explicit behavior.
BRAVE is a preventative event to remind these girls that they are valuable, lovable, and to encourage them to dream big dreams for what their futures can be. They come to this event, and in turn join a group of other girls who will be mentored in intentional ways by someone who desires to show them that life can be different than what they’ve known.
Through this process, these girls will learn more about who they are and who’s they are. Then, if someone with sinister intentions attempts to encourage or force them into damaging behaviors, these girls will stop in their tracks and say, “You can’t do that to me. That’s what you do to an oppressed person, and I am free”.
It is our hope that this event will change a generation. It has the potential to change the statistics for girls who end up in the sex industry, for girls who have babies too young, and to encourage girls to be BRAVE enough to become whatever they are meant to be.
You can be a part of this movement.
Are you BRAVE?
When you move to a new place one of the joys is finding new doctors, eye glass places, and dentists. Please note the sarcasm in choosing the word “joy”. Usually when we choose joy, it leads to great things…. just not in this case 😉
I made an appointment for my son and I to get our eyes did, kinda like getting your nails did- but less glamorous.
We got our eyes checked and they confirmed horrible vision in me- and even worse for my boy. Sorry kid, genetics suck sometimes.
Before we saw the doctor, I had to fill out the paperwork that asked about your health history. No big deal, I can totally tell you about my health. Super healthy, just chubby.
But then it asked about my family health history. I know they need this info, but I hate it. I have no idea about my family health history on either side.
So I lied.
My response in the margins was “I’m adopted. I don’t know.”
It’s a lot easier to lie and say I was adopted instead of saying, “My mother was an addict and not healthy at all. How long is the check list for drugs taken, years lost in alcoholism, and packs smoked in a day? But it really doesn’t matter because she threw me away, and I couldn’t ask her if I wanted to. I moved in at 15 with some well intentioned folks, and lived with them for about three years. But they aren’t biological, or in my life anymore. Oh, and I can’t ask my birth father because I was the product of a one night stand, and he refuses to acknowledge I exist.”
They don’t put that box as an option to check on the form. Maybe it’s too specific…
I wasn’t adopted. It’s just easier to lie and end the conversation there…. But lies produce guilt and shame, even this one.
You wouldn’t think that the heath questioner would bring up so much baggage, but this time it got to me.
Then I started thinking about the folks who can’t check those boxes either. Maybe they had parents who were addicts, or they were in the system, or maybe they lost parents too soon.
I may not be able to align myself with a biological or adoptive family, so I choose to partner and join with those who can’t check the boxes.
I wanna be on your team, even if you feel like no one else is. On the days where not being able to check the boxes hurts your heart, or takes you to a place that is painful- know you aren’t alone. Send me a note. Find me on Facebook. Let’s listen to some Regina Spektor or Kimya Dawson and be sad. We can get through the tough days together.
While writing this I’m reminded of a couple verses from Ephesians. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3
Peace. Gentleness. Humility. Bearing with each other in love. Unity.
We’ve got this. We aren’t defined by those boxes.
Be gracious to yourself.
These past few weeks I have been blessed with opportunities to enjoy meals and coffee and phone calls both with people that I have loved a long time and with people that are in love with the same mission as I am.
Through so many of these interactions I’ve heard stories of guilt, or grief. Stories of putting ourselves down and feeling like we’re just not good enough.
It seems like we are much harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else.
Imagine you’re sitting at a table across from someone that you love with your whole heart. You both have your hands wrapped around the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had.
That person you love is sharing stories of disappointment in themselves, or stories of lingering guilt, or shame. Maybe they’re sharing stories of how they wish they could be someone that they’re not, or they wish they weren’t someone that they are.
If they truly are someone we love, we would never look at them and say “You’re right. You really are an awful human. All you are capable of are mistakes and failure. Really, you should get it together or jump off a bridge.”
That would be absurd. We would never say those things or even anything remotely close to that to someone that we care about. We would look at them with eyes of grace with a heart that embraces them for who they are, and we would say things like “I know it’s been hard, but you’re not alone. You really been doing your best, things are going to get better. Just because you’ve made this or these mistakes that doesn’t mean that’s who you are.
You are loved.
You are valuable.
You are wanted.
You are appreciated.
You are needed.”
If we would say such gracious and kind things to someone we love, why are those the last things we would ever say to ourselves?
Life is hard.
Why do we make it harder?
Beating ourselves up usually doesn’t make for a better choice on the next go. Cycles of guilt and shame produce more cycles of guilt and shame.
I wonder how different our lives would be if we were kinder to ourselves. How different would our lives be if we were as kind to ourselves as we would be with someone that we love and respect?
That doesn’t mean that every mistake we make isn’t a big deal or that we shouldn’t try our best to do our best, but maybe we should just handle our wounded hearts with hands of kindness and compassion- as opposed to hands full of thorns and scorn.
We’ve served in The Southwest for over 5 years, and loved a solid ¾ of it 🙂
There have been some challenges, most being struggles of self (isn’t that almost always the case?). But standing at this end of our time as Divisional Youth Secretaries, I wouldn’t change it or trade it for anything.
I could say goodbye to the desert in a hot minute- pun intended, but the relationships and friendships we’ve formed will go with us forever (Caveat: there are some great things about the desert, like monsoons and haboobs <–That is a real thing, not just me being inappropriate). Since we’ve been here I’ve used the hashtag #FamilyYouChoose more than I ever thought I could, and no matter where we are sent or what our ministry positions are, the friends that have become family here will always be a part of our lives.
We are off to Seattle Washington to help run a Corps and Community Center in the White Center neighborhood. I hear they have a great team assembled, and we look forward to jumping in and being a part of the Kingdom work that is happening there. We are excited for this opportunity, and thrilled to be Corps Officers again.
Here’s something kinda funny.
This is a picture of a picture. It’s been hanging above our kitchen sink for 5 years. It has a very common verse of scripture on it. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
During my seasons of sadness or disappointment I remember standing over the sink doing the dishes or prepping dinners and I would look up at that picture and think, “Do you really, God? Because right now, I don’t think you do.” There have been times where I’ve felt alone or forgotten by God. Times where I felt like people made bad calls, and we shouldn’t have even come here. Times where I felt like I was lost, or dispensable.
But then I would look up… I know the plans I have for you. Even if you don’t know. Even if you don’t understand- I do and that’s all that matters. Even when you don’t get it, or when you don’t understand, I will listen to you.
Those are the words on the picture. But the picture in the center is the part that is kinda funny.
It is my family, before Hurricane Leilah was here… In Seattle.
We are in front of the first Starbucks at Pikes Place Market.
I know the plans I have for you…. And they are right here. They might not always be staring us in the face every day, but God knows them- and if we really believe that is truth, then we don’t need to see our future in a picture hanging above the sink to believe that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
I’m thankful for what has been. I am thankful even for the times that have been difficult, because we’ve been refined. We have been strengthened, we’ve learned lessons in humility and trust. We’ve learned that God is so much more in control then people ever could be.
I am different than the Lisa that stepped into this appointment five years ago, and I look forward to the continue growth and change that is still to come.
Southwest Division, specifically my friends that are now family- Thanks for being there, for your love, for your laughter, and thanks in advance for coming and visiting us up north. You can totally crash at my house.
My book has a misprint.
It’s missing a line on the bottom of page 10. As printed it says,
Anther phrase that is a regular utterance of my heart is, “You don’t matter.” be the first thing.
That doesn’t make much sense, right?
It was a bummer when we discovered that mistake. But we found a solution! A reprint would have been crazy expensive, and leaving it like it wasn’t an option (There are a few floating around, especially if you got yours before we discovered the mistake. You win a prize! Can we pretend that it is a collectible thing?)
The solution we came up with was to print the missing line on a clear sticker and go through each book and stick it in there. This is more time consuming than you would expect.
I have spent about 4 cumulative hours trying to fix some. Once they are corrected,it reads like it should:
Anther phrase that is a regular utterance of my heart is, “You don’t matter.”
I don’t matter. I can’t come first. It’s not all about me. It’s the whole, “last shall be first” thing.
So much more sense!
Anyway, I’m not writing this to complain about the misprint. I’m writing this to talk about the revelation I’ve had while fixing it. Because we really need to stop complaining. For the most part, no one wants to hear it, even if its valid.
Maybe that is just me. Maybe I’m the only one who wants to run far away from people who are overly negative or super complainers. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks you should be positive or be quiet. Maybe….
Each sticker needed to be lined up with the words above, so I matched up the word ‘you’ from the top line with the word ‘first’ on the sticker line.
So for hours at a time, in my mind over and over were the words
You. First. You first. You first. You first. You . first. You first.
Over and over.
My thoughts, “Man, I’m doing a lot of putting you first. What if I put you first this much in real life, every day? How would things be different if my attitude was always you first.”
I’ve written about it. I have a reminder tattooed on the inside of my ring finger, but I don’t know if I’ve really lived it. At least not as often as I should.
Maybe this doesn’t count as a legit revelation, but it does make me want to live more with an attitude of you first.
What about you?
What could you do today to put someone else first?