Thursday, October 31

Following A Nudge

When we sit down together, paper cups of tea or coffee warming our hands - defenselessly shifting the coffee sleeve up and down, this way, then that -- coffee shop changing the soundtrack from blender humm to register bells to laughing chorus, you'll hear me say this.

"What's the nudge you think you should follow?"

It's the question of, "What's the most right thing you can do right now?"  When you look at me with multiple choice anxiety, I'll move you toward choosing the best right answer. The thing you would do if you could live today over again.  The thing that might be hard, or hidden, or holy.

I spend my days paying attention to and following those nudges, those promptings which are, I believe, from the Spirit of God.  The little moments we have to stitch trust over our fear, the ideas of wonder that intrigue us just enough, the cocoons we have to wrestle out of to see our new creation.

What if I did that, said that, pointed that out?  
What if I invited her, prayed with her, smiled at her?  
What if I just simply called, stopped by, paid for it, apologized, planned it, leaned in, said nothing?  

These aren't callings, they're actions; small pieces of the main point of everything. And I've noticed that they're all relational. There hasn't been one where I was nudged to plant a garden, take a trip, eat healthy, mow the lawn.  It's more like making someone aware that they are not alone, forgotten, discarded, misunderstood.  It's an act of encouragement, invitation, challenge, or community.  Following nudges moves me toward people. 


This is a story about my new friend, Allie, who showed me what following a nudge actually does.

It began during a recent time, I won't belabor it, just a couple months ago, when I was ripped away from my people.  When the fact that I called them community, felt their heartbeat just like my own, was inconsequential in some young men's eyes and we were corporately told, "You just don't fit."   (Enough of that old story, this is about today.)

I walked my son to school, feeling that pressure in my throat and behind my eyes.  This wouldn't be a strong day. The walking lent therapy.  The parents all -- converging together, kisses left atop the heads of their children -- lent hope.  But I missed my people and I was lost. I began the walk home, knowing what the day had for me and willing myself out of the cloud so I could just be strong.

Ahead of me, up the block, a woman stopped walking, paused, turned around and walked toward me. Ah, she forgot something, maybe one more kiss on that young head she just left.  No, she came to me and asked her first question, "What was your name again?"

And then the woman, who didn't even remember my name, on the very day that I missed my community so badly, invited me into a praying community of mothers.

I was stunned at the Spirit's care for me, at his amazing attention to me.  It was so obvious what he had done and how she, obedient to his nudge just did the next right thing.

This is why I push you.  This is why I tell you to do these things.  Because the changes we want to see in the world are really all relational.  The one force that divides and scatters us is fear.  But love casts out fear and love is nothing if not relational.

"If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another."                -- Mother Teresa.

This is the change that happens when we're intentional to act on what we know is right and then, too, to receive it as gift from God who loves to give us those good things like candy.

So Today 
The thing that was right in front of me was this story.  I went to the prayer group for the third time.  I am following this story to see how God wants to write it.  I leaned in not only to new relationships, but into prayer, asking God to let the discipline shape me and change my now healing heart.

Today I took hold of the good thing that he gave me when my new friend listened to his voice and said, "What if?"  When she wasn't afraid of the hard and stood there together with me in the holy.

Wednesday, October 30

The Life I've Been Missing

I was tempted to dive backwards today.
Into the turmoil and false fronts.
To correct and defend and swirl the confusion toward clarity.

But my soul said, "No."
"You're free."
"Eyes ahead."
"Truth knows."

This is my truth today:  I am not the Almighty.  He -- who can be everywhere at once, crossing time to repair all things, threading all experiences together to painfully heal and purposefully harmonize...the stolid and the sober, the faulty and the fixed. Nothing is wasted.  Everything comes together -- He is the one named for it, Everlasting to Everlasting.

I am only present. And the word speaks to me as just that:
...bread for today...
...rejoice today and be glad...
...this day your eyes have seen...

The past few months I've attempted to figure out that great trick of God = how to dwell equally in all times: past, present and future. A completely un-recommended attempt that leads straight to failure and discontent. I am not named everlasting.  My name only means "bee."

And so the todays have passed me by. I'm determined to catch them now before they go, to grab the tips of their scarves, the trim of their coat and turn them toward me so I can see them clearly and present my biggest ask, "Can I be present with you?"

Today the gray sky provided the canvas for the yellow leaves and purple mums and green grass.  I looked out at it all and gasped. Has it been like this all week? Has the glory been speaking without me? Have I been thinking so hard of summer and wishing for a million ways to redo it?

The tree across the street is on-fire red, my own burning bush to call me forth and reassure me, "I have seen. I have heard. I know. I have come. Now go!"

Today, I awoke from a long, restless sleep.  The I AM, the ever-present one, has sent me into the present.

This is my resolution: I will look hard into each day.  I will share what I saw, what I noticed. This is my spiritual discipline: A fast from the worries of the past and future.

Monday, October 14

What's Next

The day we said it out loud it was a sunny Thursday mid-afternoon, just days before summer ended, weeks since our ministry had come to its confusing stop.  The house was quiet when the phone call came for him.  Regardless of who was really on the other end, all he could hear was the Almighty saying in the subtext, "Do this.  Just say you'll do it."  It was a kairos moment we'll never forget.

When he hung up the phone he took a deep breath and looked at me.  "What if we just say we're going to do this?  What if, from this point on, we make all of our decisions through this filter?  This is now who we are and what we do?"

"I was just waiting on you," I said.

We said the words out loud, sat in the silence of the turning page, blinked long blinks, took deep "yes" breaths, clasped hands and took the afternoon walk to our son's school to pick him up.  Breathless, we shared the sidewalk while we repeated, "O.K.  ok."  As if by agreeing over and over again we could move more deeply into this commitment, quick-dry cementing our feet into a new path.

We were planting a church. 

We are.

The neighborhood looked different.  The houses were now the homes of potential friends, of partners in-waiting, of missional community, intentional service.  The air was thinner, fresher.  I couldn't for the life of me think what had made me cry for weeks on end when suddenly hope was wrapped around me, moving me from the old to the new.

Our first phone call on that walk was to a friend, "We have an idea about what's next. We want to talk to you."  And the very next day we met and shared and invited and he said, "yes."

And the Father has paid close attention to us.  Each week, in quiet moments or over coffees or stuffed in envelopes full of cash and gift cards in the mail, we sense his presence and his deep "with-ness."  We're sitting back and watching him work.  We're amazed and humbled and ever so grateful.

This is right.  This is real.

We are church planters.

It's not where I ever thought I'd be. It's not what I thought I came here to do.  But leaning harder and harder into this new thing I can see how it came to be.

How that first church plant -- that one that we snuck away from our city for a day to attend their leadership meetings in secret -- was the training ground, the season for learning.  We know how to shut down an old work and begin it anew with joy and promise.  We know the steps and the way to invite and pray and plan.  It made our hearts beat fast and broadened our scope of what the kingdom looked like.

And then there was that second one, the one we didn't plant, but found while it was months young.  We were in our own season of groping and wandering but we committed ourselves to those new-creation people for the duration, no matter what, to experience what true living in community looked and tasted like.  But we know how to grow into an unconventional space and let worship happen even there.  We know how to let go of our second-level beliefs to make room for more at the table. Those friends got under our skin, held up our arms, and let us change right before their eyes.  Maybe we were the neediest people there, or maybe we were the lives punched full of holes through which the light could shine in all directions.

And then we came here to a people we found ourselves loving with intensity -- even now still.  In the past four and a half years I've seen him become a wonderful shepherd, jotting notes to himself to follow-up, sitting together over countless coffees, bringing the drunk fiance in to sober up on the couch and locking away the gun, writing the letters to the courts, inviting the next person and the next person to dinner in our home, to homegroups, to advent prayers.  He loves these people.

And I remember how I didn't even hesitate to dress to appear in court with the friend who was sentenced to jail time, led away in handcuffs.  And how I tenderly cooked the meal for the couple who lost their baby at birth and took it to their white, trembling, empty hands.  The Bible study I began with fear that grew me into a teacher.  All the "yeses" to the "Can I stop by?" questions.  I chose this home to host groups and guests, for its proximity, for its commonness, for its extra bedroom.  I've never seen this life as mine.  It always, always belonged to others.

We've moved through our seasons of learning to plant, of living in a community that was planted, and now of loving the people we're supposed to plant with.   This is no surprise to God; it's what he's been in the course of doing for a very long time.

One step at a time, we begin a new life of obedience with a new community of friends doing a new thing in Denver.

He was just waiting on us.