#write31days: serving

A few years ago, I went on an eleven-month long mission trip.

I think I’ve mentioned it before. It was a really difficult experience for me. One that I’m still not sure I can see purpose in. It was a few weeks before leaving for the Race that I realized I no longer wanted to do it. My heart was not in it anymore and I was backpedaling. Fast. But I really felt that the Lord was calling me to the Race. It was just an option He was laying before me. He was inviting me, beckoning me to join Him on this particular journey. So…I launched. Strictly out of obedience. And I stayed out of obedience.

I had several raw, honest conversations with the Lord during that eleven month period and remember praying every day that He help me see Him in some way that I wouldn’t be able to if I were at home. I’m still not sure that He really did that, but I do know that He let me see myself in some ways that I wouldn’t have if I were at home.

And it was not a pretty sight.

One of the things I saw was that I like to serve. …but I like to serve on my own terms. When schedules change and communication is lacking, I get frustrated. When it’s hot and humid and sticky and I am hot and sweaty and stinky, I get grumpy. When I don’t see the point in what I’m doing, I become indifferent. When I know where I am but my sending organization has no clue, I get angry. These (among others) are things that I saw in myself as the Lord led me along the Race but, to be honest, I kinda just left it at that.

It wasn’t until Scott and I went on our first Kaleidoscope trip to Ghana that I began to try and sift through the emotions and engage the Lord in conversations about why I only like to serve on my own terms. That Ghana trip was a year-and-a-half ago. I’m not really much further in my understanding of the selfishness that is within me, but I do know that I am making progress.

How?

Because I’m in Cambodia right now and all I really, truly want to do is serve as I can while I’m here. Yes, I still don’t enjoy being hot, sweaty and stinky or not really knowing what my day is going to look like (though, we have a much better idea of our days here than I did most of my time on the Race), but those things aren’t negating my desire to serve. I still want to in spite of them. Five years ago, I might have helped but I would not have served. There’s a heart component to serving in any ministry capacity, I think. And I am finally beginning to see some of it in my heart.

 

#write31days: travel

This is us right now.

Ok, well, it’s not a picture of our plane and we’re not even on the plane…yet. But, it is a perfect representation of wheat we’ll be doing very shortly.

Scott and I are sitting in the Houston airport less than half an hour away from boarding a flight to Moscow. Our ultimate destination, though, is Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We’re headed there to do some work for our nonprofit ministry, Kaleidoscope Media Ministries, and are so excited!

We love to travel. We also love to serve. So putting travel and serving together is a match made in heaven for us.

I intend to continue my #write31days challenge while we’re across the world, but may have to post several blogs at the same time depending on how easily we can find internet. 🙂

#write31days: zentangles

I doodle.

My mom used to get mad at me for doodling during church. Not really when I was a child, but as soon as I moved up to my tweens and teenage years doodling became disrespectful and no longer allowed. I learned to cope with my wandering mind in other ways during the sermons and such, but I never really stopped doodling in other areas of my life that required long attention spans.

Like school, for example.

I did pretty well in high school. Graduated in the top 10% of my class with a solid GPA. I carried that on through college, though my work load also picked up in college so my GPA wasn’t quite as stellar. But, I never stopped doodling during the lecture classes. All of my notes are filled with random drawings (nothing spectacular, truly just doodles) in amongst the important pieces of information from the talking head at the front of the class. Still, doodling in church remained a no-no in my brain and I never did it.

Until recently.

It happened slowly at first. I’d doodle, but not throughout the entire message. Just here and there when I felt my mind wandering. And what I discovered was that the doodles helped me to stay focused on the message so much better. I think it’s because it helps reign my wandering thoughts in and focus them in one direction which, interestingly enough, opens me up to being able to retain more of what I’m hearing.

Anyway, I decided to embrace the doodling and let it be a tool for me when I need to focus or when I just want to pass some time doing something (sort of) artistic. Around the same time, I happened to stumble upon something called “Zentangles” and I thought I’d just been handed an “Ok” from God to keep doodling.  …ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration…but, I was pretty happy to find out about this art form by happenstance.

Zentangles are structured patterns that can be combined to create images. The images can be abstract or concrete, but multiple tangles are generally used to create one image (see pic below of some I’ve done). I’m just starting my Zentangle journey so I’ve got a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I love being able to create something, from scratch, using simple patterns.

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And I plan to keep doing them for a long time to come. Even in church.

#write31days: just me

I sense that you restrain yourself a lot, because there is so much hidden emotional under current. Yes, we can feel it ; ) I know that it’s hard to tap into those feelings all the way sometimes as you may feel like they will suck you under and you will drown. But you won’t. Don’t be afraid to go there, a little deeper.

This was part of a comment that a friend and reader of my blog left on my post from yesterday. She’s a consistent source of encouragement for me here, on my little space of the internet, but she can also challenge me. Just as she did with that comment.

The truth is that I do restrain a bit. Yes, for the reasons she mentions, but also because I’m just not convinced that sharing those feelings and stories and other things about my life and experiences is of any use, interest or encouragement to anyone else. I mean, what’s the point of it? I can see a point if I am able to tie the stories, feelings, etc. in to some nugget of truth or wisdom but…when I can’t?…what does the reader walk away with (besides learning something about me)?

I guess I’d just like for what I write to matter; to make a difference or impact someone’s life other than my own. I suppose that’s what every (hopeful) writer wants. And I can’t see how the writing that I’ve been doing lately does any of those things. Sure, I share something about myself, but I don’t lead the reader anywhere. There’s no take away. It’s just information.

I do wonder, sometimes, if maybe I’m just in a certain season of my writing. One that is a training ground for the kind of writing I hope to do one day. In fact, if I’m being honest, I hope that it’s a season and that as I become more faithful in the writing, I will begin to see it transform into something more than just about me.

Until then, it seems that “me” is all I have to share with y’all. Hope that’s ok.

 

 

#write31days: homecoming

My Alma Mater’s Homecoming is this weekend!

Attending Abilene Christian University was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I have honestly loved ACU since high school. I started coming to campus as a high school freshman after I was accepted into the university’s chapter of the Upward Bound program. I loved walking around the campus, pretending I was one of the college students heading to class or to the library to study or to the campus center to meet up with some friends. Yes, I was a bit of a dork, but it’s true. It was actually through one of my summer Upward Bound sessions that I learned about, read about and saw my favorite musical ever: Les Miserables.

However, just like any other high school senior, I didn’t really want to attend college in my hometown. So, ACU wasn’t initially on my radar for universities. I was looking to get out not stay put. But, the Lord is good and He had a plan and that plan was for me to stay put and attend this small, private university in the middle of West Texas.

As a student, I got pretty involved in some of the extra-curricular activities on campus. Things like social club, Sing Song, Homecoming Steering Committee, Welcome Week Steering Committee and other social activities were par-for-the-course in my college career. I also managed to work 30 hours and carry a full-time class load. How?! I have no idea. I don’t remember sleeping that much, but … eh. It was worth it!

I learned a lot about myself while walking the campus of the university. I learned more about who I was and who I wasn’t, what I wanted and what I didn’t, where I came from and where I was going. There were lots of times I didn’t think I would make it to graduation and I was certain that my professors were going to call me into their office one day to say that I just wasn’t cutting it. But there were also many days where I knew that I was going to make something of myself in the future. I was challenged & encouraged simultaneously by multiple professors who refused to let me off easy but were gracious in their pushing. And, my faith blossomed into something that was mine – not my mother’s – while under the faithful ringing of the bell tower.

I suppose it is of no surprise that I now work for this university that has had such a large impact on my life. And I am thrilled to be attending this weekend’s Homecoming.

#write31days: capturing pieces

A few years ago, I made a crazy journey around the world living and serving in some of the poorest countries across the globe. It was an incredible experience and I am still humbled to this day that I was able to do it.

I spent one month of that experience in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. My team partnered with an American couple who was living in the city spreading the love of God through relationships that they were building with people in their community and the small church that they had planted. It ended up being one of my favorite months on the Race, not only because of the ministry we were doing, but also because of the connection that I made with my team’s contacts.

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Since returning home from the Race, I’ve stayed in contact with Greg and Jane. Their ministry has grow and changed some since I was with them four-and-a-half years ago. And, when Scott and I began to make steps toward starting our nonprofit, I secretly hoped that Kaleidoscope might be able to partner with this couple and provide them with promotional videos that they could use to build support for what they continue to do in Cambodia. However, I wasn’t sure if Greg and Jane really needed what Kaleidoscope provided.

…until I received an email from Jane.

She had read an earlier email that Scott and I had sent to friends and family telling them about our dreams for Kaleidoscope and that we were in the midst of starting up the nonprofit. In Jane’s email, she slyly mentioned that they could use our services if we were ever interested in going over there. And I was thrilled! It felt like a confirmation that Scott and I were doing something that 1. was needed and 2. was in line with what God was already doing. So, we started communicating about us heading across the world.

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You may have already guessed what’s coming next.

Yep. Scott and I are going to Cambodia! A week from tomorrow, actually.

…did you catch that?!

 

One week. From tomorrow.

*dances a little jig*

 

 

 

#write31days: a blinking cursor

I have no idea what to write about tonight.

I have literally started – and trashed – this post five times. This is the most frustrating part of writing to me. Wanting to write, but not having anything to say. Needing to write, but not being able to put my thoughts in to coherent sentences. Hoping to write, but staring at a blinking cursor.

I’m ready to do this writing thing but I can’t seem to get the oh-so-necessary words to come. They dance around the edges of my senses and then float away when I try to grasp them and form them into meaningful thoughts.

It’s annoying.

And I am so tired of writing about it (just as I am sure you are tired of reading about it). But, for now, it seems that all I can write about (at least, to the extent that any of what I do is called “writing”) is my struggle with writing altogether. Ok, I know it’s not all I can write about. I’ve written about a few other things even in this challenge. But, it does seem that not being able to write is the most common topic I write on.

Ugh.

I guess I should be thankful that words do come, even if they’re not the words I’d prefer. Maybe I will be tomorrow. Tonight, I’m just frustrated. And I hope that tomorrow I can bring you, my Readers, something that encourages or challenges or even just interests you instead of focusing so much on myself.