Running

Woman Runner Tying Sport Shoes

The leader of a small group I was attending asked us to bring an object that would help explain who we are. I didn’t have to think very long or hard. I brought my running shoes. Those of you who know me know that I am an avid runner. There is nothing like it. There is nothing more physically demanding or spiritually refreshing. But I didn’t just bring my running shoes to that meeting to talk about physically running; running shoes embody who I am and what I value. 

If you are a student of the Enneagram, I am a strong 8. If you are a student of Strengthsfinder, my top strength is activator. I have been designed to move; physically, emotionally and spiritually. I turn nouns into verbs without even realizing it. My favorite bible verses are the ones that have action attached. Brainstorming sessions are very stressful for me, because ideas equal action. Without other people realizing it, I walk away from meetings burdened to take action on all the ideas discussed. A few days ago, Bryan and I were once again talking about rest. I found myself saying “What if the way that I rest is by doing something?” I can just hear my mindful friends begin to compose an email to me about the importance of rest. I get it. Let’s put that on the back burner and discuss my rest needs at another time. 

I will be the first to admit that I am extreme. But I also find that more often than not, I am an exception. Most people I know have incredible ideas, but for whatever reason they stay ideas. I also see this tendency prevalent in our Christian culture. We are quick to discuss our sin, but are slow to repent and make amends. We are quick to judge, but we don’t take the time to truly understand. We talk about loving our neighbor, but we turn our face the other way as they get in their car each day. 

I don’t say those things to condemn; I am equally as guilty of those things. I am here to remind myself and others that ideas are only ideas. Without action – ideas are useless. I have found in my life that the ideas that stay in my mind and heart over time (not rash, fleeting ideas) are usually ideas God has given me. God is calling us to take those ideas and put them into action. 

Don’t just take it from me, it didn’t take me long to find out what Jesus had to say about taking action. The Bible is full of exhortations. 

James 1:23-25 says: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

In James 2:14-17  we are told “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

James 2:18 says “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

James isn’t speaking of salvation. Our salvation is not contingent on our works. But I do believe that James is reminding us that faith propels us towards action. James is calling us to take a good look at our lives. If we aren’t producing fruit, it’s time to take a closer look at our faith. Faith is like a tail wind. It gives us the push we need to keep leaning into our God given passions and callings.  

I have spent the last month or so talking about things that I am passionate about. I have talked about my passion for my community and especially my neighborhood. I talked about my passion for public schools. I talked about my new passion about taking care of the earth. Last week I shared about my passion to take care of our bodies. You may not be passionate about any of those things and that’s okay. What are you passionate about? What are the ideas that keep coming back to your mind over and over again? Take note of those things. Write a list. You may be surprised as what comes to mind spills out onto your paper.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I believe one of the reasons people struggle with taking action is that it feels overwhelming. When we get overwhelmed, we tend to get paralyzed. Look at your list, if you feel like you don’t know where to start, then start with one passion and start doing one thing. Do that one thing until it becomes second nature. And then when you no longer have to try to do that thing, do the next thing. 

I deeply believe, if we all did that, took our God given ideas, committed to one action -and then did another and another – we would CHANGE our worlds. 

So join me as I seek to change my world, one action at a time. 

Lisa

 

 

 

Don’t sell yourself short.

A95B0206-B314-4791-A403-F7C4DEA2F290I was never a star athlete growing up. Any athletic ability I possess I have earned with blood, sweat and tears. But as early as middle school, I instinctively knew it was important to exercise. When I was in 8th grade I started going on morning jogs. In high school I scheduled “treat days.” I would get up at 5:30 to get to the gym before school. I wouldn’t say that my behavior could be described as an eating/exercise disorder, but considering I wasn’t an athlete in the traditional sense, I was much more aware of my body than my peers. 

A few months prior to my liver transplant, I was working with an organization called “YWAM”. We had been overseas so I had not been exercising. I felt really convicted that I was supposed to get back into shape. In case you don’t know – its a lot harder to get into shape than to get out of shape. But I struggled through it; it almost felt like a calling from God that I should get back into shape. 

It was a good thing I did. After my transplant (Transplant), I was back exercising within a month. The doctors were amazed at my swift recovery. I heard over and over again that the reason I did so well after my surgery was because I was in such good shape. 

After hearing that, as you can imagine, fitness was no longer just important – it became a passion. That passion eventually led to a job; I became a personal trainer. My favorite part of working with a new client was hearing their story, to hear about their “why?” “Why did you hire me as a personal trainer? What is motivating you to be more healthy?” Most of their answers sounded like this. 

“I want to be able to run around with my kids….” 

“I want to be around to see my grandchild get married…”

“I want more energy at work….” 

“I want to feel more confident….”

There were a few exceptions, but overall the reason people came to work with me had little to do with how they looked in a swimsuit or how much weight they could lift or how high they could jump. 

They wanted to be who God created them to be and to do what God called them to do. 

I believe God asks us to take care of our bodies so that we can fully be who God created us to be and do what God is calling us to do. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says … do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

When we choose to walk with Jesus, we welcome the Holy Spirit to come and take residence in our heart and mind. When we surrender our lives to Jesus and invite him to take over, we become his dwelling place. His temple. We become the vehicle through which The Spirit moves. 

In life, if we do not fill our vehicles up with gas or oil or do not fix what is broken, our vehicle can only drive us so far. We may get half way, but we won’t make it to our destination. 

We are asked to look at our body in the same light. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the vehicles God has chosen to use to advance his kingdom. And if we don’t rest, properly fuel our bodies, exercise or prepare for the journey ahead – we won’t get to our final destination. We may get close, but we won’t be able to fully walk out the calling God set before us. 

For me part of my calling is to be a mom. If I don’t get enough sleep, I have zero patience for my kids. I’m not able to walk out the fullness of that calling on my life.

Part of my calling is to write. If I don’t exercise I don’t have the energy or focus to write, I’m not able to walk out the fullness of that calling on my life.

Part of my calling is my community. If I don’t eat well, I don’t feel good and need to rest. I’m not able to fully invest in my relationships, I’m not able to walk out the fullness of that calling on my life.

I’m not here to give you specific tips or a new exercise routine. My challenge for us today is to simply shift the way we view our bodies. We are the dwelling place of the Lord on High. Repeat that again and again throughout your day. I bet if you started saying that each time you were eating or as you were deciding between the elliptical and the couch, you will start experiencing change. 

You will be able to chase your son that “one more time”. 

You will be front and center at your grand daughters wedding.

People will begin to ask at work where you get all your energy.

You will start radiating with confidence. 

And when people ask how you do it…

You can say, I am the dwelling place of the Lord on High.

I was bought with a price.

So I am going to glorify God with my body. 

Lisa

 

 

The Earth.

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Lately I have been very convicted by the state of our earth. I feel guilty every time I put anything in the garbage can. I have started feeling physically stressed out when I consider the state of God’s creation. I have actually started washing our plastic baggies, something I vowed I would never do.

I don’t understand the ins and outs of global warming. I can’t grasp all the underlying causes. But I am confident that the earth is changing and it’s not moving towards the fullness of its glory. 

As I have dug deeper and sought to enter into the conversation, I have been disappointed at the lack of Christian voices. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few loud voices and they are making their mark. But there are questions I keep asking myself: why is a 16 year old from Norway leading a climate revolution? When did climate change become a progressive agenda? In Genesis 2, God’s people were given the privilege and honor to take care of God’s creation; shouldn’t we be leading the charge?

As I continued my research, I heard a few compelling reasons why Christians aren’t out in front of the conversation, but none of them carried much weight. They all feel like shallow excuses. I have come to believe the real reason why many Christians aren’t engaged in conversations about climate change is because we haven’t considered why we should be.

Why should we care?

To understand, first we need to adjust our focus. We get so consumed with our place in this world that we forget that we are a small piece of the big picture. We forget our actions affect other people. We forget the decisions we make will affect generations to come. We don’t consider the legacy we will leave behind. 

We forget we will leave a legacy. It will either be good or bad. It’s up to us to decide what we will be remembered by. 

 So now that we have taken a more broad view, let’s take a look into the future. Let’s imagine we have not changed a thing in the way we interact with the earth. Disease is (more) rampant because of pollutants in the air. Healthy food is scarce because climate’s effect on farm land. People are displaced from their homes because of natural disasters. Without a home kids grow up homeless and this reduces their ability to receive quality education. 

You see, unless something changes, this is the world our kids and grandkids will grow up in. 

But most of us that read this blog, we have the resources to avoid these things. We will figure out how to filter the air around us. We will spend the extra money to buy healthy food. We will go to the doctor at the first sign of illness. We will most likely always have a home, if not ours-we will have a place where we can stay. 

What about the sick, the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged?

The least of these.  

It’s been proven that careless behavior towards the earth disproportionately affects the least of these. People who are sick, poor, disabled or disadvantaged do not have the same resources we do. They will breathe in the polluted air. They will not have any money to buy healthy food. If they are displaced from their homes, they will not have a place to stay.

And Jesus seems to have some strong feelings about how we treat the least of these. 

In Matthew 25:35 Jesus says “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

If you follow Jesus, this is a familiar section of scripture. You have probably looked at the passage and recognized the importance of physically meeting those needs mentioned. It wasn’t until recently that I saw this calling in a different light. I took a step back and looked at the big picture.

I asked myself, what if Jesus is not just talking about meeting the most immediate, physical need? What if he is not only calling us to feed the poor-but to consider the food the poor rely on? What if he is not only calling us to give water to the thirsty, but to conserve the water we have been given? What if he is not only calling us to give clothes and shelter, but to consider that our choices today have a long term effect on whether those things are available tomorrow?

I believe that he is calling us to ask ourselves those questions. He is calling us to take care of the earth not only because he has given us the privilege and honor to do so, but because he loves his people and he calls us to do the same. He asks us to look beyond today, our small world and consider the big picture. He is asking us to consider the choices we make today and how they will affect tomorrow. He is calling us to consider our legacy.

He isn’t asking us to care for His earth because it’s trendy or it’s the hot political movement. He is asking us because he gave it to us to sustain us…all of us, even the least of these.

Lisa

I know this conversation can feel overwhelming. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s easy for me to get paralyzed and do nothing. 

Start small.

A lot of small changes over time lead to big change later on. We are in the early stages of these changes at our house, but here are a few things we are trying:

• Buy cloth napkins and hide the paper ones.

• Don’t make your paper towels easily accessible, it’s too easy to grab a handful.

• Wash your plastic baggies, in fact don’t buy them. Use reusable containers or buy compostable bags (I found ours at target).

• Don’t by individual packages of snacks.

• Compost.

• Educate yourself on what you can recycle, you can probably recycle more than you think.

• Bring a mug with you to the coffee shop, church, or work…anywhere to replace the use of a disposable one.

Comment with more ideas! Let’s join together and make our small changes add up to something big!

 

Public Schools.

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I am a product of the public school system. I had a great experience growing up. I played varsity tennis. I was in national honor society. I was even the student body president. And I was a radical Christian. Honestly in hindsight, I’m not sure how I had so many friends. I would boldly profess my faith. I led people to Christ in the hallway. I made some pretty radical decisions my senior year of high school and when I was asked “why,” I gave the only answer I had… “God told me to.” 

Even though I had a great experience myself, I didn’t really fall in love with public schools until I was signing my kids up for preschool. The decision at the time was not all that thoughtful. As a young mom I didn’t realize that in order to get into most preschools you have to sign your kids up for preschool at least 6 months ahead of time. We had decided to hold Piper back and start kindergarten when she was 6, but I knew that she was ready for at least 3 days a week. My options were limited, so without too much thought, I signed Piper up for our local ECFE preschool. Without realizing it, I had signed Piper up for a side-by-side class. It is an integrated class where special needs students and mainstream students are in the same class, working side-by-side (hence the name). Piper had no idea. There was a mainstream teacher and a special ed teacher in each class, both were equally Piper’s teachers. It didn’t matter to her that the girl next to her had a “friend” (para) with her half of the afternoon or that the boy in front of her had special accommodations. Her classmates were her friends. Plain and simple. Each student was provided with what they needed to succeed. 

The more I learned about the program, the more my passion grew. I loved that kids with unique needs were provided the services they needed. I loved that kids who couldn’t afford to go to preschool could get scholarships so that they could attend. I loved that they would send home food to families who were in need. I loved that my kids rubbed shoulders with kids who are different than them. I loved that I got to meet parents that lived in my community. I loved that each family had a different story, yet shared the common passion to raise their kids well. I began to see public schools as the center of the community. And not only that, but as a microcosm of the community at large. What we see in the schools closely mirrors what is going on outside of those sturdy walls. 

I must pause to address the elephant in the room. Most of what I share about on my blog does not stir up controversy. This post could. I recognize that if you are a Christian, this passion of mine could rub you the wrong way. I get it. Both of my sisters home school their children. I have a ton of friends who have decided to send their kids to private schools or charter schools. I also know that many people reading this have had really painful experiences in public schools. As I share my passions, I am not judging your decisions nor am I minimizing your experience. Take what is good. Leave behind the rest. 

I mention that because the older I get, the fewer Christians I know share my passion for public schools. School is a lot more complicated than it was when we all went to school. I get it. It is our job to keep our kids safe. Elementary schools have to conduct drills in case someone comes into their school firing a weapon. My nephew bought a bulletproof backpack for school this year. It is designed to serve as both a backpack and a shield – what!?!?!?! Kids are caught with drugs in middle school. Kids are bullied daily because they are different. Kids are questioning their sexuality before they enter puberty. I…GET…IT. Public school feels scary.

But here’s the rub, Jesus calls us to scary places. Places that make us a bit nervous, make us squirm a little, places that make us uncomfortable. Most of Jesus’ ministry was spent in these places. It started at his birth, he was born in a stable surrounded by animals (Luke 2). He touched people with Leprosy (Matthew 8). He cast out evil spirits (Mark 9). He clears the temple (Mark 11). He ate with the pharisee’s (Luke 14). He did not come for the healthy, he came for the sick (Mark 2:17)

And not only that, he instructed us to do the same

Mark 16:15 tell us “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” 

Matthew 28:19-20 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

He gives us no room for exceptions. He tells us to go to all of creation, to all the nations. To the scary, uncomfortable places – even the public schools. 

So what if instead of looking at public schools as dark, scary places, that are void of faith, what if we looked at them as a mission field? And what if we taught our kids to look at it the same way? 

As adults it’s easy to assume things about students based on their behaviors. I realize that at a certain point kids do need to become accountable for their actions. But we also need to remember that they are kids; they are the products of their environments. In a lot of cases, they truly don’t know how to behave any other way. School is their safe place. It is the place where they are loved, cared for, and fed. Roaming the hallways are literally “the least of these.” It would be easy to try to steer your kids away from them. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to something different. We don’t get to walk away, we get to dig in.

I am not saying that you put your kids in danger or surround them with bad influences. But I am asking that we put our assumptions aside and dig in. Maybe you start by showing up for your kids lunch and meet her friends. Learn how to say kids names no matter how hard they are to pronounce. Introduce yourself to parents who don’t speak english. Send an extra snack with your kid to school to share with a friend in need. Adopt a family for Christmas. Ask the principal how you can help. Vote for Levy’s and Referendums. Invite the kids over that your kid talks about all day. 

Lead by example, befriend a variety of different people. Pray with your kids for their friends who don’t know Jesus. Invite your kid’s friends to church. I love “bring a friend” night at church. Elementary kids are always so open and eager to invite their friends to church. Create a safe place for kids to hang out. Teach them about the power of the Holy Spirit, that he can make us bold. Remind them each morning that they are entering their mission field. 

Bryan and I were asked to practice what we preach last spring. Piper was invited to a friend’s house that we had never met. She lived in a trailer park. That wasn’t the struggle. I was struggling with the fact that Piper’s friends mom didn’t speak English. All our communication was through the girls. We went back and forth about what we should do. We suggested that Piper invited the girl over to our house, she really wanted to go to this friend’s house. We had no reason to say no. We knew there would be a few adults home. So we arranged the play date. Thanks to google translator, we got the details worked out and they had a great time. We all won. I learned to use google translator (kind of). Piper got to experience a different way of life, and we were again reminded that most people share more commonalities than differences.

I’ve heard so many people talk about how awful it is that we have taken religion out of the schools. People get up in arms about how The Ten Commandments can no longer be displayed or how kids no longer recite the Pledge of Allegiance. People get angry at how the teachers talk about evolution without mentioning creation. 

But here is the thing, a poster of the Ten Commandments is not going to lead someone to the Lord. But you know what might? Living a life that is full of contagious grace and joy. A life that is so different that people begin to ask you what brings you so much hope. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance isn’t going to draw someone to church. But you know what might? Inviting a friend to youth group for the first time. Talking about creation in science class may spike some curiosity. I don’t know that it will convince someone of the inerrancy of the scriptures. But you know what might? Inviting a friend to church on a Wednesday night or giving them a Bible may.

Friends I am with you. Public schools can be scary places. Our kids are exposed to things at younger and younger ages. As parents, we want to protect our kids. But can I be bold? Do you think maybe as Christians we have played a part in taking Jesus out of the schools? I know there is not one simple explanation. But I’m convinced that one of the reasons our schools are getting darker and darker is those of us that carry the light have given up. We have brought our light elsewhere, in some cases a room that’s already lit.

So let’s not fight to display The Ten Commandments or rally to say The pledge of allegiance. Let’s shine our light. Let’s follow Jesus’ lead, let’s go to the scary places. 

Let’s bring a little bit of Jesus back into the public schools. 

Lisa

 

I’ve always wanted to start a revolution…

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I have always wanted to start a movement, a revolution. At a PTO meeting last year, I tried. I wanted all the parents at our kid’s school to stop letting their kids play the video game Fortnight. The people in the meeting were complaining about how they felt out of control of their kid’s video game use. This problem felt very simple to me, with a very simple solution. I raised my hand. 

“Why don’t we as parents all commit to not allowing our kids to play Fortnight?” 

All I got in return was blank stares. 

At this point I may not be able to start a movement to rid the world of video games. But I do believe there is something each of us could do, and if we did it, we could change the world.

We could love our neighbors. 

And when I say love your neighbor, I am referring to your physical neighbor. The person living next to you, behind you or in front of you. I believe if we all just started with loving our physical neighbors, we could change the world-one neighborhood at a time.

Growing up we knew a few of our neighbors, but not too many. By the time Bryan and I moved into our home, we were fully committed to Christian community. Prior to owning our home, we had been living with a family and experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of fully knowing others – yet still loving them. It wasn’t until we moved into our first house that our passion for community centered around a physical space – our neighborhood. 

Right away when we moved in, we met our neighbors Angie and Jeff. They heard we had moved in and quickly came over to introduce themselves. They are a Christian family and are passionate about helping people. Angie invited me over for coffee. As we had coffee that morning, Angie told me about how once she started having kids she realized she couldn’t do as much outside of the home as she used to. So she started to pray that God would bring people to her, to their home. God certainly answered their prayers. I just sat there in awe as she shared stories about the neighborhood and the relationships she had built. 

I was in. 

At first, I just tagged along with Angie and met our neighbors. I joined her at neighborhood play dates. I curiously watched as she would invite the neighbors over, no matter who they were or where they came from. Surprisingly, most of the time, they came. At any given time there would be 2-3 neighbors in and out of their home. 

The passion for my neighborhood continued to grow. There was a small group of us who really started doing life together. We were raising our kids together. We had dinner together almost weekly. We loved each other no matter what. Other people around the neighborhood joined in. Our small pocket of the world began to change. There was a sense of safety and security. We showed up for each other whether it was by bringing a meal or just providing a listening ear.

We were meeting each other’s deepest needs: to be loved and to belong. When people’s needs are met, they are set up to make much better choices, choices that benefit not only them but the world around them. And as much as we like to believe our decisions don’t affect other people, they do. Our decisions have a ripple effect.

Our world is a mess. People are diagnosed with cancer every day. Anxiety manifests itself at younger and younger ages each year. Depression is common place among teenagers. Suicide no longer shocks people. Isolation is the norm. Loneliness is an epidemic. I can almost   guarantee you someone on your block is struggling with one of those things. 

So what if instead of ignoring them each morning as you get into your car, you said hello? And then over time, you asked their name. And then soon, you invite them into your home and into your life. They begin to feel loved. They are no longer isolated, they experience a sense of belonging. You become a safe place. You feed them. Out of a place of safety, they start making different decisions, healthy decisions. We will never know for sure, but what if a simple hello in the morning changed the trajectory of someone’s life and the lives they intersect with?

Can you even imagine the ripple effect that would happen if we all committed to living like that? 

If you know me, you know I am very extroverted and outgoing. Strangers are just friends I have not yet met. I know not everyone shares my personality. I know meeting your neighbors can feel intimidating. I have found people find it easier to spend thousands of dollars to go overseas on a mission trip than to reach out to the person who lives right next to them. Why? Because trips have a start and an end date. They often come with a specific purpose. And honestly, if it’s a bust, you don’t have to see them again. Loving your neighbor is a lifelong commitment. They are going to hear you fight or yell at your kids. They are going to see you in your PJs as you run down the street to catch your dog. They are going to see your kids at their worst and their best. I often say that neighbors are like family. You don’t get to pick them, you may not always like them, but you should learn to love them because they aren’t going anywhere. 

You may live in a house, an apartment, or dorm. Whatever the case may be, try a couple of the following tips, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.  

  1. First of all, when I engage with new people, I always try to keep a few truths on the forefront of my mind. We are created for community. Our deepest needs are to be loved and to belong. Everyone has those same needs and desires. Most people want those things so badly, but are too scared to take the first step. It’s hard to take the first step. Do.It.
  2. Pray. Ask God to show you where to start. Loving our neighbors is in line with God’s heart. I promise, if you ask him to show you where to start, he will show you.
  3. Start with small deposits. Start by befriending a neighbor on social media. Send them a message of why you sent the request, if you don’t it might weird them out. Say hi each day as you leave the house. Introduce yourself. Ask their names and then remember it. Plow their driveway. Mow their lawn. When significant things have happened to our neighbors, we’ve shown up – by writing them a note, checking in with them or even showing up in sad moments like funerals or joyous ones like baby showers. Those small deposits of time opened up doors to much deeper, rich friendships with them. 
  4. Host a gathering. A lot of people may not feel comfortable with dinner at first. Invite a handful of neighbors over. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Host a happy hour. Invite people over for dessert. Some people will not be interested, but most people will welcome the opportunity to at least meet their neighbors. 

Halloween is coming up. Halloween is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbors. Everyone is outside going from house to house, usually very cold and yet somewhat relaxed. Last year we had a bonfire in our front yard. We had hot chocolate and cider. We set out chairs. By the end of the night 3 households were handing out candy while sitting in our front yard. Families stopped to get hot chocolate and warm up by the fire. We got to know several new families in the neighborhood. You may not live in a home where you can have a bonfire in the front yard, but you could certainly hand out candy and introduce yourself. Like I said, it starts with small deposits. 

Those small deposits matter. They lead to deeper and more meaningful relationships, which lead to feeling loved and a sense of belonging. And when people feel those things, they make better decisions. Decisions that don’t just affect them, they affect us all. They are better and we are better. The pocket of our world begins to change and before you know it we have started a revolution. 

One neighborhood at a time.

Lisa

Thanks Kirstin Tackett and Angie & Jeff House for teaching me what it looks like to live in community. We are all the better because it. 

 

Things I am passionate about…

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In our small group last night, our leader asked “What is one thing that you are passionate about?” I love to hear about what other people are passionate about. I am intrigued by what makes people’s faces light up. I’m drawn to their words as they talk louder and faster. Their gestures get bigger and bigger as they discuss their passions. 

Most people are quick to reply what they are passionate about, but when I follow up by asking “Why are you passionate about that?” Most people don’t have a quick response. It’s just part of who they are. 

Just as God gave us a unique personality, he also gave us unique passions and gifts. 

Knowing that our passions are from God should cause us to pause and stir up a few questions. 

Why did God give you that passion? And what are you doing with it? 

I’m asking myself those questions. What topics make my face light up when I talk about them? When I’m talking, what makes me speak faster and louder? What am I doing about those passions? 

As I ask those questions, I decided that I was going to take a month or so to talk about a few things I’m passionate about. 

I am passionate about community. 

It doesn’t take a lot of convincing for people to understand the importance of community. But let me just give you a few of my favorite reasons.

1. Did you know church attendance (which we will translate to Christian community) increases your immune response, lowers your risk for heart disease and increases your lifespan? 

2. Did you know Christian community reduces the likelihood that you will experience depression? 

3. Did you know that we become like the people we spend time with? The more we hang out with people who are like Jesus, the more we become like him.

4. Did you know that we were created to live in community? Romans 12:4-5 says “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” This is just one verse of MANY that speaks to our need for community. 

Even when people know the benefits of community and are aware that we are hardwired for relationships, why do so many people feel alone and disconnected? 

We struggle to build community because we have to be intentional about it. It rarely happens to us, we have to make it happen. 

For most of us growing up and even through college, community just kind of happened to us. Our shared space and experience created natural community. The older we get and the more busy we get, those natural spaces and experiences are no longer created for us, we have to create them for ourselves. 

Bryan and I have built our lives around prioritizing community. One of the main reasons I have decided to only work part time so we have the emotional and physical capacity to build community. We know that if we were both working full time and raising two kids, getting through the day in one piece would feel like a success. One of us has to have the time and emotional margin to make plans, clean the house and prepare the food. 

I know that not everyone has the choice to have one spouse stay home. Start small. Start with what is in front of you. Who do you work with that you wouldn’t mind getting to know? Who are your kids’ friend’s parents? Who do you sit next to at Hockey practice? Who lives next door to you? It’s hard to start a conversation with a complete stranger, it is a lot easier when you have something in common to talk about. If you’re struggling to find a person to pursue -join a club. Go to church. I’m serious, even if you aren’t religious, there are usually really great people at church. Join a gym and go at the same time everyday. I have met some of my best friends at the gym. Then after you have made a few connections…

Take the first step. This is hard. It is scary to be the initiator. But after you have chatted a few times, be brave, take the first step to get to know your new friends better. Sometimes people have a hard time getting coffee and finding things to talk about at first, that’s okay. Find something fun going on during the weekend and invite a family to join you. Ask the person you always sit next to at practice if they want to go for a walk while you wait for your kids. If a coworker mentions a movie they wanted to see, set up a time to see it together.  You may not talk much at first, but shared experiences over time bring people to deeper levels of comfort and ease.

As you are pursuing new friendships, remember the rule of two. I have a “rule of 2” when it comes to getting together with new people. If I extend an invitation 2 times without a reply, I take the hint. Be intentional, not awkward. Generally speaking, people love to be invited, they are just too scared to be the one inviting. 

We struggle to build community because we aren’t patient with the process. 

My husband always tell me that I don’t enjoy the process, I just like the end result. That has been true in my friendships. I haven’t always wanted to do the hard work of building and developing friendships, I just want to be deep and comfortable with people-now. Today. Building new friendships is just like dating. It takes time to get to a deep comfort level. It takes shared experiences, awkward silences and mindless conversations-it’s takes time. And just as a warning, you will go on a few bad dates along the way. I have been positive that my new best friend was sitting in front of me. I then got to know them a bit and realized we were actually super different. That’s okay! Not everyone is going to be your new best friend, but you will never know unless you try. 

We struggle to build community because it is scary and hard. 

Being  in community is vulnerable. To really commit yourself to others, you have to expose yourself; the good, the bad and the ugly. That is scary. All of us at one point or another have asked, “if they really knew me, would they still love me?” When I feel that way, it always helps me to step back and remember that the person across from me is asking those same questions. 

I have learned over the last several years that most people are not as great as they seem, but to counter that point, most people are not as bad as they seem either. As you get more comfortable with people, you get to see different sides of them. Things will be said that you don’t agree with. Decisions will be made that make you cringe. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint people, I promise. Push through it. Have hard conversations. Seek to understand. Forgive. Ask questions, hold people accountable. Keep at it. 

I mentioned earlier that Bryan and I  have prioritized community. One way we have done that is choosing to have one of us work part time. That choice has come with a cost. We don’t have the nicest cars, in fact they both make weird noises. We don’t have really nice things and we don’t go on fancy vacations. Community doesn’t just cost us money. It costs time, energy and resources. 

But you know what, we have really good friends. We have people in our corner. We have people that will go to bat for us. I have people in my life that fully know me, yet still truly love me. That in itself is worth any amount of money, energy or time. 

What has been holding you back from building community? Are you waiting for it to happen to you? Does it feel too scary? Are you struggling to find time? 

Identify your barrier, make a plan, take a step. It might be your first step or your tenth. Keep at it. Try and try again. When the excuses start coming your way, remember…

We were made for this. 

Lisa