Lights Will Guide You Home

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I'm not quite sure when it happened, but at some point in my 34 years on this planet I became fascinated with lights like these. It's difficult to articulate why, but every time I see string lights draped across the evening sky and lit up they give me hope. 

They are small enough that they may be insignificant to most, but for me they create a space for something magical to happen. When I first saw these particular lights during the day a few weeks back I made a decision to come back to see them lit up and tonight was the night.

I walked around the shopping center for over an hour waiting for the timer to release power to bring these dull, vacant shells to life. For me it was well worth the wait. Anything that ushers in an opportunity to hope is worth the wait.

Like some of you that are reading this, I've walked through many losses too. I don't have to know your pain to know it's real because I've had my own. What keeps you going?

I have had to make some very difficult decisions in the last few years. I've had to process brokenness that I never expected to come to my doorstep. Sometimes we don't get to choose our circumstances.

As I sit here admiring these small glimmers of hope and writing these words, I feel the presence of the Lord. The breeze is a reminder of God's faithfulness to sustain me when debilitating anxiety attacks literally took my breath away. When things that really matter to you are stripped away, you realize what keeps you going. And in the last 2 years of my life I have become more aware of God's presence than I have ever been.

Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. He never leaves or forsakes us. He offers us rest when we've forgotten how to spell that word. He still gives us beauty for ashes and regardless of the despair or devastation that is the end result of a seemingly unmanageable storm, if He does not tell the wind and waves to stop, He rides the storm out with us. He does amazing work with broken pieces and nothing is impossible when He has editorial control of a situation or life.

I look forward to dancing again. I can't wait to build a family. All in His time. I continue to dream and pray and write and serve and wait with great expectation because God is good at what He does. Because He has carried me through so many difficult seasons, I can only imagine what may be ahead.

Like many of you that find yourself in-between, I wait. Sometimes impatiently if I'm honest, but God is growing me even through that. His pace and plans are better than mine.

Anything that ushers in an opportunity to hope is worth the wait. Nothing is wasted. Keep breathing. 

Lights will guide you home.

(Post from October 14th, 2017)

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Make It Matter

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First I get a phone call earlier this evening that I am being blessed with a car and then this encounter. The providence of God is ridiculous!

I eat dinner at home or with friends most nights. After I got back from a divorce care meeting at church tonight, I decided to get a ride with Lyft to grab a bite to eat. I was headed to Chick-Fil-A because why not. 

On the way we passed Mission BBQ. Mission makes me think of home because it started in Baltimore and my church family in York ate at Mission almost every Sunday and I miss my people. I said something about it and my Lyft driver agreed to drop me off there instead.

One of the ladies working the dining room greeted me and we started talking and she asked about my tattoos. She focused on the semicolon and I shared how I dealt with suicide when I was 14 and how God brought me through that and how He continues to show up.

With my divorce care workbook on the table she broke down and told me how she went through a painful divorce too and how she was so depressed that she attempted suicide. Then she said that's how her belief in God actually became more than a thought.

While she was in the hospital recovering from her suicide attempt, the doctors found a large tumor. She had no clue about the tumor, but they were able to address it and remove it. And she said in that moment after they told her about the tumor she felt God's presence and knew that He was real.

She went on to share how losing friends and family because of the divorce was hard, but God continues to bring christians into her life to show her that she is a part of a bigger family now! I told her how I wasn't even supposed to eat there but the plans changed.

She told me that before tonight she was ashamed to share that the suicide attempt actually led to them finding the tumor. Nobody knows. I told her that her story and testimony could be used to bless and share hope with so many people. She gave me permission to share her story as long as I did not share her name. Then I looked down at my cup. Man. Nothing is wasted.

Make it matter.

(Post from October 4th, 2017)

A Reminder Of God's Faithfulness

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I have never pulled these out of the folders that they were given to me in and displayed them. I worked hard to be counted worthy of the office of a pastor and I have considered it an honor to serve in every roll that God has placed me in. 

Now these certificates serve as a reminder of God's faithfulness in every season of my life and ministry. I am so thankful to be serving with NMSI now, but I have not forgotten where I came from or the people that have become family in every area that I have served. So thankful.

(Post from September 26th, 2017)

Jesus Has Invited Us To Live Beyond Ourselves

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This #EndsGivesBack missions trip was just like any other Ends Of The Earth Tour. Strangers became family over the course of just a few days.

I could tell you how massive the pile of trash is by the road that may fill a semi trailer that we ripped out, cleaned out and carried. Or the how horrible the fridges and mold filled rooms smelled. Or how hot it was both during the day and at night. But none of that matters.

We got to serve amazing pastors and love on their church and community. The amount of work that we accomplished together is nothing short of amazing. And the relationships we made will be life-long.

Yes we sweated together, but we also laughed together. We laughed a lot actually! Not one person in our group complained about sharing one bathroom. 

Every aspect of this weekend, even the difficult parts were full of joy and hope, because that's what serving does and that's #howGODrolls. Jesus has invited us to live beyond ourselves and every time we step into that something amazing comes from it.

I could tell you stories about every person in this photo. They are amazing people and I am blessed to call them friends. I watched them give and give and give now for 3 days straight. And God provided for me to have the opportunity to serve this weekend because of incredible people that are supporting me through financial partnership on my missions journey. Thank you, Jesus. Exhale.

(Post from September 24th, 2017)

Out Of Ashes Can Come Beauty

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Looking around at the damage from hurricane Irma as we drove down through the Florida Keys yesterday was pretty overwhelming. Then gutting our friends church and carrying out all of the ruined, wet and even moldy contents was a massive task. But there is much more than devastation present in the community of Marathon. There is hope.

Today as I was carrying things to the ridiculously large trash pile, I noticed a small sign leaning against the tree in front of the church. It said, "Surely the Lord is in this place." If you look through your natural eyes with all of the carnage so tangible, it can be hard to see how that could be possible. But there is something deeper happening.

No one in this community is focused on skin color, political persuasion or even religious affiliation. Today we had people from Fort Myers, Miami and New York all serving to bring the broken lighthouse that is Marathon Church of God back to life. And it was absolutely beautiful.

Some of our team dismantled a ruined stage while others handed out hot meals to neighbors and people serving around the community. Some people ripped walls apart while others continued unloading wheel barrels all day long.

While we were enjoying dinner together I looked up and noticed this tree in the neighbors yard. This tree can tell you some stories. It has watched this little community thrive and crumble on more than one occasion. As you can see a lot of the tree suffered damage because of Irma. 

But I bet if this tree could talk, it would not focus on the wind, rain or 6 foot surge that violently trampled through the homes, churches and businesses all around it. Like our dear friend that pastors the church that we are helping, I think the tree would recognize that its roots are still grounded and that there is still fruit on some of the branches.

Out of ashes can come beauty. From death and destruction can come new life. And from a ragtag group of a few committed people can come the opportunity to see Jesus shared and glorified in so many ways. Surely the Lord is in this place.

(Post from September 23rd, 2017)