No room to judge.

Hey. . .I am not good at blogging. . .I don’t think it really matters to the world.  I am pretty sure, though, that what I have said here a couple of years ago it still true:  God has something for my soul in it.  Alas, I am quick to resist. He is so very persistent and kind.  There is a pattern here in all areas of my life.  I love the gospel, as it does give me. . .the grace to run.

New York City is now my home, and you are welcome to journey with me on this new adventure.  I thought I’d start by just posting what I have recently sent to my faithful and generous team of partners:

“Tick Ridge Road to Madison Ave. is quite a leap.  Here, extravagant wealth manifests in the pristine streets, the black jaguars, the meticulously manicured dogs, and neighbors like Barbara Walters.  The other night as I was walking home from a dinner appointment, I over-heard a conversation where a woman was processing why her earning capacity merited her purchasing a $5,000 purse.  I thought to myself, “I’m not on Tick Ridge Road any more”.  My next thought was laced with incredible judgment.  This posture of judgment was ugly, and all too familiar.

Whether I condemn the wealthy for their extravagance, the poor for their laziness, the young for their dress, or the woman for sleeping with her boyfriend, I am acting as Judge.  There is only One who is worthy of such a role.  I stand before Him condemned, apart from His lavish grace.

My propensity to be Judge does not stop with others, as the self-contempt runs deeply within me.  I am so tired, and I need a nap.  Guilt.  I’ve got to use my time better.  I experience fear about this new venture with cru.  Guilt.  Where is my great faith? I eat too much to numb all of this guilt.  More guilt.  Now I’m going to be fat, and no one who is “hip” and 23 will want to talk to me.  I feel contempt around my age, as I seek to hang out with those that could be my daughter.  Shame looms at the reality of my grey hair, and my untimely hot flashes. Ugh. The battle:  real and raging.

Then, I realized that my judgment of others is in correlation to whether or not I experience deeply the grace of the gospel.  I am loved.  I am accepted.  I have a God who delights in who I am and moves to meet my needs. . .even my need for a nap.  He teaches me how to have compassion toward myself.  My humanness.  Then I have the space to have compassion on others.  They need a Savior.  They don’t need another Judge.

God is doing so much in me as He is giving me His eyes to see.  I am seeing not just the men and women of this city, but His eyes toward me as well.  He doesn’t need me here.  He loves me here, and will love others through me.  He judges sin.  He takes our rebellion so seriously that He died a gruesome death.  He has compassion on all:  the rich, the poor, the young, the old.  This is the stuff of a world-changing. . .Jesus centered movement.  This is the stuff of grace.

I love it here!  I feel like I was made to live in NYC.  I have met many recent graduates, whom I thoroughly enjoy. Kelly and I will be moving from Madison Ave. to Long Island City this weekend.  Gone are the days where Barbara Walters is my neighbor.  I will welcome with open arms my worldly possessions that have been hidden away for a year in an Orlando storage unit!  I can’t wait to make a home! Note the new address.  Send your Christmas pictures so I can plaster the frig!

Please pray:

  • That God would establish relationships with pastors and other leaders in the city, as we seek to bless them and partner with them.
  • That God would lead us to the people that He wants us to know and love.  That He would open doors that no one can shut.
  • I am praying for a gospel movement of a million in the city.  Pray that God would work in such a way among His Church that everywhere people turn they would “bump into” Jesus and His redemptive ways!
  • That our home will be a place of great refuge, holistic nourishment, and that all who walk through the door will experience Jesus.”

Be free today in the grace of the gospel!

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Another Try. . .

So, after a week of really struggling through some times with the Lord due to the “wandering heart syndrome”, I so experienced the grace of God in connecting deeply with Him this morning.  I am grateful, not just for this morning, but, perhaps even more so, for his consistent and relentless pursuit of my heart.  That in my wanderings, He draws me to Himself. He is the lover and satisfier of my soul.

In his tenacity, He continues to prompt me to write.  I continue to let my heart wander, and not surrender to His grace to focus my thoughts and let them continue to take shape through my fingers on my keyboard.  I need the grace to run with Him in this life, and I need the grace to write.  I don’t know, frankly, what He has for me in this, but as I said at the beginning, I do know that He is good, and that obedience bears good fruit.  Whether or not anyone reads this. . .really doesn’t matter. . .somehow the discipline will bear fruit in my soul.  If you have found yourself here, thanks for joining me in the journey.  May you experience His relentless pursuit of your wandering heart, and find the grace to run.

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I love my mother

My mother is by far one of my favorite people.  If you know her, you know why.  If you don’t, I’m so certain that you would like her.

She says some of the funniest things, often in passing, so you have to listen carefully, or you’ll miss it.  Here are some of my favorite “mom quips”:

In response to the question asking if she’ll ever re-marry:  ”Oh, honey, men my age are just so old.”

In response to whether she would ever date again:  ”I’ve been there and done that.  You have to put your best foot forward.  You have to put your teeth in and everything.”

In response to the realization that when I went sky-diving, I actually had a skilled person on my back to pull the parachute:  ”You chicken.”  I prefer to think of it as wisdom.

“People that are hardest to love, need love the most.”

“I love you.”  ”So glad to have you home.”

So, on this the eve of mother’s day, 2011, I want to pay tribute to my mother.  Her zeal for life and her love for people is contagious.  She has folded (and ironed. . .a lost art) countless loads of laundry, and fixed thousands of delicious meals for an often thankless brood of 7 children. She sang and danced as she fixed hot breakfasts for us before school.  (I appreciate that more now.) On Sundays she would gather wild flowers to create an exquisite-one-of-a-kind-centerpiece. She was the loudest and most faithful cheerleader for mediocre, at best, football, basketball, and baseball games.  She modeled caring for the elderly with faithful tenderness.  She rocked babies.  She entertains with ease, and has the gift of hospitality.  You feel so welcome in her home.  She encouraged adventure and risk, while helping us always finish what we started.  She kills me in scrabble, except on the rare occasion I triumph.  She laughs easily and often. The list could go on and on. . .suffice it to say, she is one of my most precious heroes!

My mother is the "H"

This picture was taken in Southern CA the day after the Buckeyes beat the Ducks in the 2010 Rose Bowl.  She and her sisters love the Buckeyes.  I love their spunk.  Oh for the grace to have the “gene of spunk” when I am her age.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the fabulous, sacrificial mothers who may be reading this.  Your labor is not in vain!  Really!  I am so grateful for you!

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Simple Beauty

The rain drops dance on my sky light.  Softly.  So soothing.  It’s morning.  The coffee is hot and dark and rich.  The flame of my candle eats away the wax:  the life of the candle given as a gift to offer it’s iridescent beauty .  The roses, remnants from a night of entertaining over a week ago, have opened fully at their prime for my enjoyment.

I begin to awaken.  It’s been a slow process this morning.  The Spirit massages a numbed heart.  I sense His presence. . .pursuing. . .loving. . .reminding me that I am created for intimacy.  Amazing that the Tri-une God, who spoke the world into existence, meets me this morning.  He’s so real.  Unseen.  I can taste of His goodness.  I don’t want to leave.  My heart is finally warmed to His.  I am reminded, that “in His presence, there is fullness of joy.  At His right hand, there are pleasures forevermore”.  The tasks of the day beckon.  Ah, for the grace to abide every moment of this day with the God of simple beauty and lavish intimacy.

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The privilege of leading with others.

I have the privilege of working with these men and women!

Jesus.  People.  Relationships.  Ah. . .the stuff of life!  God is a God of relationship, and has hard-wired us to connect to Him and to one another.  He allows us to labor with Him in telling others that He is really about relationship.  Not surprisingly, we don’t labor alone!

Bob is the guy on the back row to the far left.  We lead together the Campus Field Ministry National Team.  Words cannot express how much I respect him. . .how much I’ve learned about leadership from him. . .how much he makes me laugh.  He loves Jesus.  Loves his wife.  Loves people.  Loves the gospel.  We are different, yet like-minded.  He is a gift of grace for this season of my life.  I’m sure you’d like him, too.

The men and women on the CFM team help give leadership to the CCC staff around the country.  We want to coach and resource our staff and volunteers, because they lead teams who believe God to connect the hearts of students (high school and university) and faculty to the person of Christ.  We believe as that happens, the world will be a different place. . .a place of rich relationships with God and others.

The men and women on this team are gifted, godly, fun (and funny)!  They take seriously the call of God on their lives, and walk in bold faith in light of what they believe God has called us to.  They sharpen me.  The extend grace to me again and again.  They inspire me to grow personally, and as a leader.  They love the people they lead well.  The privilege of laboring with them is truly humbling and delightful.

We are not alone, as there are other national teams that help give leadership to the US Campus Ministry.  Our comrades in Ethnic Field Ministry, Worldwide Student Network, Leader Development, Operations, Fund Development, R&D, and our 100% Sent initiative, are our partners in believing God for a world where every heart has an opportunity to be connected to the One who has fashioned it to be in relationship with Him.

As you look at the picture. . .please pray for grace, humility, boldness, and faith as we lead.  Pray for God to use us as a team. . .and that we’d laugh a lot along the way.

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A Father’s Delight

“Don’t be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32

How I can complicate this life of a Christian leader.  The internal pressure to “get it together” can mount to great heights.  I feel suffocated, guilty, “not enough”.   Is it that I have to “get it right” so that God can bring His kingdom?

My great nieces and nephews, though I don’t see them often, bring me great delight.  The next-generation of the Walker tribe are quite the good parents.  Engaged.  Fun.  Godly.  I watch them teach their children Bible stories, nursery rhymes, and numbers to the triple digits.  Giggles are abundant. Safety is evident.  The children trust with great ease.  They worry not about whether or not they will have the next meal, or have an attentive audience to their creative antics.

The fact that the Father delights to give me His kingdom is such a great picture of rest.  I posture myself to trust as a child.  I have confidence that He cares about bringing His kingdom much more than I.  I receive.  He gives.  I labor with Him from a place of security and acceptance.  I giggle together with Him at His lavish attention, with a free spirit of un-self-consciousness.  I work heartily from a place of rest.  A beautiful paradox.

Jesus bring your kingdom today, and all of your fullness and beauty.  Give me the eyes of a child today to wait with expectancy and abandon.

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Whole-hearted living. . .by way of vulnerability

My professor for a Servant Leadership class I am taking, wisely, suggested I watch this video by Dr. Brene Brown.  I am passing it on to you, because I think she has some very profound things to say about shame, vulnerability, and living from a whole heart.

Ah. . .how I want to live a whole-hearted life.  I want all the passion that this fragile human heart can contain.  I want to love and be loved.  I want to live and lead from authentic connection with God and others.  I want all that God has for me, and give away all that He gives. . .a broken vessel poured out as a drink offering.

This kind of heart comes by way of admitting need and asking for help.  I really value, and am pretty good at, being transparent about my own need for the gospel.  What I am finding, though, is that I am afraid to feel the pain of my own brokenness, and the brokenness that comes from life in this fallen world.  A world that is not our home.  I am often not in touch with my own needs, and therefore fail miserably at inviting others to help in places where I am desperate. So, I eat.  I do e-mail.  I spend time getting jealous of your life on facebook.  I numb. . .both the pain. . .and the joy.

Dr. Brown is brilliant.  Funny. Shares really good insights.  I don’t know if she knows Jesus.  As I listen to her, I love Jesus more, for He is the one that has made a way for a truly vulnerable existence.  He gives true freedom from shame, and I experience that freedom as I bring my shameful. . .I-don’t-want-anyone-to-know-this-about- me, parts. . .into the light with people who love Jesus, too.

So, I am asking God to help me feel the pain of my heart.  I am asking God to show me my needs, and to help me invite others into the process of meeting them.  I am thinking this is a crazy, even as I type these words.  What am I saying????

I am saying I want to truly live!

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Running again.

In early November the Lord and I jogged the NYC marathon.  The day was crisp.  The sky was crystal blue.  The trees were golden, and amber, and they danced in the wind.  I made friends along the way. . .they were grace to me.  We ran through each burrough.  Lady Liberty cheered and waved as we crossed the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island into Brooklyn.  We made our way through communities rich in culture, and the people were so kind to line the streets and cheer us on with every step.  The last six miles were. . .oh. so. painful. . .but, the end so glorious.

This morning, I slugged out three miles.  I walked part of it.  From a runners point of view, quite pathetic on many fronts, and a far cry from my experience on the streets in the Big Apple.

How easy it is to get out of shape.  How hard it is to get back into shape. The older you get, the more this is so true. I speak as one who celebrated, this week, a birthday that marks having lived half my life.  (Obviously, I say that with an open hand. He holds my days.)  To walk in condemnation for being in my current running condition never. no. never. contributes to my journey back into enjoying my runs again.  I just take the next step, fully accepted, right where I am.  I lace my shoes.  Pat my dog on the head. Open my front door.  And, I place one foot in front of the other.

The past couple of weeks I have nursed the nasty bug that is flying around the country.  Congestion.  No energy.  Aches.  I broke out in hives in a reaction to medication.  I had little energy to connect with God and people.  I was in a bit of a black hole of experiencing life.  Doing only what I needed to do.  My heart was hardening.  I was getting out of shape.

I feel like I am slugging out time with God, as my heart hasn’t been exercised.  I am gasping as I enter in again to the exercise of being with God.  I so want to experience what He has for me as I abide.  He reminds me that He doesn’t condemn.  He pursues.  He softens.  He meets me in every step.  He reminds me what it feels like to run with Him.

I am grateful.

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The Grace to Run

Often I have felt the Lord prompt me to run and to write.  Neither of those come all that naturally to me.  Yet, He is wise, and my resistance to His promptings, as I know from vast experience, never bears good fruit. I miss out.  He is good that way.

So here I am, writing.  Experiencing His grace in every step.  And, I run in this life, figuratively and literally, and I will fumble to put into words my musings along the way.

Running and writing have this in common:  they create space for me to think.  Reflect.  Be convicted of sin and self, and repent into the arms of grace.  They slow the pace of life enough to aid me in truly living.  While I believe He’s asking me to run and to write for the sake of my soul, I’d love your company.  You are welcome and safe here, for He gives us both grace in the journey.

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