Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Hard Goodbyes

At one point in my life good byes meant nothing to me. I had to say to many of them in my young life and I just stopped feeling. It was an out of sight out of mind survival instinct. Then God did something amazing. He made me feel again. Over the past month I've said many good byes. Some easier than others but none of them have been with out emotion. I've cried more than I'd like to say. Tomorrow begins the last round of goodbyes. The really hard ones. The people I've come to love as family. Just thinking about tomorrow night and Friday morning makes my eyes water. I don't know how I did it once, as much as I hate doing this I'd never want to go back to being that empty person.
The funny thing is all these good byes are just temporary. I've taken time today to prepare myself for these goodbyes. I've written notes and cried and prayed for these people but I know that I will see them again. I know for many it will be just a few short months before we embrace at the airport, this time in greeting instead of parting. For others I'm not sure when that will be again but I know that the days, months or years that pass will be only a small fraction of the eternity that we'll spend together.
And yet I can't keep myself from crying.

Monday, December 15, 2008

a promise that speaks volumes

This morning I was reading in Mark 10 and I was struck by the promise he speaks to his disciples.
29I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.

Over the last few months I've struggled with the lack of a home, friends and family. The last few years have been a world wind adventure that brought me far from my family and into a land where I'm alone like I've never been before. Up until the last few weeks this was crippling until God started to speak. He challenged me to set my eyes on him and to begin to live this life as if Heaven was a reality. If Heaven is real and as great as we say it is than everything in this world is simple a shadow of it. Homes, family, friends the all are just a fraction of its glory. He challenged me to not look at the lack of a home but to instead see the abundance of homes he has given me as well as the family and friends that come with those things.
This morning I was walking through this city and struggling with my little remaining time here. As I'm looking straight into the face of some of the hardest goodbyes from the last months I needed something from God. He gave me this verse to remind me.
This place has become a home and there are family and friends that I'm not excited about leaving but I know that part of the joy of this missionary life that I now get to live is that I have an abundance of all these things and one day I'll have Heaven where all of these places come together.
The love comes with the suffering in this life but in the next there is just joy.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Do you know what today is boys and girls?

Today is a very special day here in the CZ it is Mikuláš day or as you may know him Saint Nick. I love today. It is like a mixture of Halloween and Christmas. There are parades and candy as well as angles and demons. It marks the beginning of the Christmas season here.
As I was watching the news I saw a Mikulas in a hospital handing out gifts to children and a big check to the hospital. This brought back memories of watching news footage of Santa doing the same thing in the US. I was shocked at how similar the two events were and at once it felt like home yet extremely foreign.
I got to participate in the events by receiving some chocolate and partaking in some delicious apple dumplings. Dad this is for you. I love Christmas time!

Check this out for more fun:

Photo from the Orco Foundation

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A servant at heart?

Over the past few months God has been teaching me many things but they all seem to relate to one theme. That theme is being a servant. If you read my second to last post you can see some of those thoughts and frustrations.
I've realized over these past few months that I hate being a servant. It doesn't come easy to me. Nothing inside of me delights or desires to be a servant, especially as an American. I despise the thought of giving up my freedom to make my own decisions. To give control. The chance to make good or bad decisions, and to own the outcome. To work for myself and reap the reward.
BUT I'm a servant! That means I don't get to make decisions. I don't work for myself. I don't get to keep my wage. And nothing is mine, it all belongs to my master. My goals, my plans, my desires they all belong to him.
I'm tempted to cry the line of the third servant,(previous post)that my master is a hard man and that he has no right. This is a ridiculous charge because the master owns everything. Everything sowed is his to reap. All of my desires, my plans they are given by him and therefore his to fulfill or take. There is a comfort in knowing that He is the one in control. When I look into the future and see nothing I know that its ok he has a plan and I don't need to be overwhelmed.
There is also this cool thought that as a servant all that I am is tied to my master. My identity is wrapped up fully in him. I'm a servant of the Most High God.
Some days my servant hood is easy on my shoulders, after all the yoke of Christ is light, and other days it burdens me. It forces me into submission, God forces me into submission. I'm learning to embrace this servant hood so I can be a good servant.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let it snow, Let it snow

So here is the thing, in Czech there is no thanksgiving so Christmas comes a little earlier but today we have the snow to match the season. That makes me very excited.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A servants thoughts

I'm very familiar with the parable of the talents. I've taught on it, I've heard it taught on many times...but something had never sat quite right with me. Its the response of the third servant or more accurately the lack of correction from the master to the servant's response. Here is what the servant says.
'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.-Matt 25:24

it is paralleled here in Luke.
Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. 21I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.-Luke 19:20

This is a harsh picture of the Master, especially when the master is the God figure. I understand the fear of the servant but it is how the Master responds. As the figure of the loving God we serve he doesn't correct the servant or remind him that all he does is for the good of the servant. No he agrees with the assessment. In the Luke passage he admits to that being his character and then judges the servant by this assessment.
When I think of the God i serve I don't want this image. I don't want this God who is a "Hard man." I want a God who is loving and caring and wants what is best for me and we allow me to have the things i desire and work for. But this is not the Master from these passages. This master takes what he wishes without caring if he has a right to it. This is a master who cares about results. This is a master I don't want to serve.
This may sound like a bitter post and it is, I admit that. It comes from a place of hurt and bitterness. As much as I want a kind caring master who makes me a high priority that isn't my master. AS much as I want to focus on God loving me and being a member of his family, which I know I am, I'm also a servant who serves a "hard man." Everything in my life is open to his plunder. And he seems to want to take the things I most desperately want to keep. He test my loyalty by taking my mina and asking what am I going to do about it. Will I still serve? Last Saturday God and I had a long fight about this because it is not in my nature to serve. (we will look into that later) The funny thing is that once I submitted, once I responded with loyalty, he returned my mina or should I say the mina he has entrusted to me.
As of late I tend to be relating more to God as the servant and less as the child.
I wish I was the child.

Monday, November 03, 2008

1+1=2 but how?

My friend had a really great idea once. It was about how we classify each other. Before you finish your undergrad program it is all about age and level of school. Post undergrad it is about relational status. ie Single or Married. It seems like post college this is what most defines us, until we become seniors that is, for most of your lives we are defined primarily by if we have a spouse or not. It was a great thought. This is a follow up thought to that.
All my life pursuing a relationship has been very easy. The girl of my affections has always been close. She has been a girl in the neighborhood, or at school. Seeing her and interacting with her was easy. We always had a common bond. Even during the colleges years we'd come home to each other or see each other at school but that is not the case any more. In the new post-college life, where the only common denominator is the fact we want a relationship with the other person, how is it done.
How am I to build a full relationship with a romantic interest. For some this is easy you got the co-worker relationship or you happened to meet someone around town and so you have those things in common. I'm talking about the girl you meet your last semester or while traveling.
There is the long distance thing but that is hard and you can develop habits that are hard to break. It is hard to have a close relationship when you are used to having a distance one. Not to mention the out of sight out of mind struggle. Its also hard to really know how the relationship will really work when you don't get to really have life together.
There is the whole relocating thing but what if that doesn't work. You move to this place to be close to someone only to find it didn't work out and now you are stuck there.
Seriously how do you do this?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

rain fall

I used to sit and watch the rain.
It always made me think of her.
We used to love just like the rain.
Sometimes hard and passionate
with nowhere to run or hide
and sometimes we wouldn't love at all
we'd just hold it in and watch the other die.
But we always knew that given time
the drought would pass and rain would fall again.
And we'd end up back in each others arms,
the only place we belonged.
Then one night I sat outside.
I waited for the rain to come.
I waited and waited but she never showed.
After that it rained no more.
Now when it rains I watch it come down.
Silently I sit focusing on the sound,
waiting for love to come back down
as thoughts of rain wash her away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

hot off the press

Here is a new poem I wrote this morning. No one else even knows it exist right now. I travel a lot by train and most of that time seems to be by myself. Last weekend as I wa son the train the rough ideas of this poem came into my mind.

My time on trains
Some times I sit and try to forget
here I am and that its not home
I try to get lost in the sky
and the colors on the trees
or words on a page
as I let my music cover me
I pretend that I'm not lonely
and that I'm quite by choice
I try to think I'm back home
and the strange names are new places
some immigrant town on my way home
But i always know the truth
the rumbling train is enough to keep me awake
and away from the dream I long to sleep.
This is what I do on a train.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I love my parents.

I've been reading this great book called 20 something essays by 20 something writers. I highly recommended it if you are 20 something or happen to love a 20 something. The book is a collection of 29 essays from 20 somethings each essay deals with life.
This past Friday I was riding on the train heading to one of my weekend visits. I had been reading this book and loving because it had been helping me process a lot of the hardships in my current life. I was nearing the end of the book and I stumbled across an essay that made me but down the book and cry.
The essay is called The Secret Lives of my Parents and is written by Kate McGovern. The essay is about the struggle of growing up and seeing your parents as people not just Dad and Mom.
I started thinking about all my parents have done for me. My parents once were people like me. Young, brash, irrational, full of hopes and dreams as well as piss and vinegar. But when my brother and I came along...all that changed. The older I've gotten the more I've realized their sacrifice but now I'm starting to really understand it especially as my friends are starting their own families.
I feel bad because I don't know my parents. No let me rephrase that. I know my parents. Who I don't know are Dale and Fran or Raye Nell and Donald (My parents are divorced and both remarried for those who didn't know.) I don't know what my Dad wanted to do growing up or what he thought of Europe while he was stationed here. I don't know any stories of Donald's time in Saudi Arabia or why it is he loves my Mom and decided that he would take her two sons along with her. I don't know why my Mom doesn't want to leave Texas. I don't know what she thinks about the church or why she goes. Fran I might know the best as a person but there are still mysteries like Why she never moved back to New England, why live in Minnesota or did she ever want to live in NYC growing up?
I began wondering what it must be like to let me go. When I call to trust their parenting job and treat me like some one competent to make good decisions. When I call not knowing what to do to give me advice instead of telling me what to do or even what they would do.
All that to say I love my parents. This seeing them as new people is something I'm going to enjoy doing.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The second of my freedom poems

Freedom Lies

Freedom lies on her bed at night
and cries herself to sleep
she wonders when it changed
that instead of men protecting her name
all they do is rape and shame
she cries for a man of old
that would take a stand and not withhold
an ounce of strength to hold her up
yet all her princes become thieves
who cloth their agenda in her majesty
only to swap her out for a mirror of lust
and fall in love with their power
as their world turns to dust
and freedom lies on her bed at night
and cries for those who believe the lies

Thursday, September 04, 2008

read and enjoy

I've decided to begin posting my poetry on my blog so I can share it with more people. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing it.
This summer I found myself thinking about freedom. I ended up writing to poems about it, here is the first.

Freedom Cries
Martin Luther King once had a dream
he wanted to see freedom ring
from shining sea to sea
but what does freedom mean?
For King it means opportunity
regardless of race or creed or poverty
but could a man have these
and still be bound to slavery?
What if freedom means
something beyond all these things?
What if freedom was itself a creed?
Would this freedom creed mirror
the life we find in Christianity?
That's what Jesus sought to bring.
But I think behind church doors
lay something he'd abhor.
A congregation of freed slaves
with no chains on their feet
and yet too scared to leave.
Yet, we wonder why no one believes
while the messenger won't leave his seat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sour Patch Kids and Ski slopes

It has been about one month since the summer has started. June is a crazy month for us. It starts with a race across Czech. The purpose of this is for the team to be built together through shared experience. We tried really hard to win the race…well until we missed our first train by a matter of seconds. After that we pretty much just relaxed through out the race. Until we found out that four of the five of us had crazy allergies which hit us half way through the race while we were sitting on a train.
After that we spend an intense week in training which is great. This year we had around 10 team and 3-4 countries represented. Training is such a sweet time that we get to connect with other missionaries and interns.
After training we go on a whirlwind tour of group visits. We have three weekends to visit three group and plan three weeks of camp. Not to mention building the team, planning lessons and other camp prep work which we do during the two weeks between visits.
Right now we are sitting at the first round of US team trainings camp start this Friday and there is a lot of work to do. From this point on life is like one giant series of cause and effect relationships.
The following are a just a snippet of the past weekend visits.
The first visit was in Pardubice. It is a city outside of Prague. Please pray for this group and for the chance for them to connect with new students. They are an older group that has done camps for a long time. Their struggle is remembering the heart of camp and God’s heart for the lost.
The second visit was at Bohumin. Bohumin was the first group that I interacted with in Czech 1.5 yrs ago during spring break. I’m so excited to be doing camp with them and renewing some older relationships. Pray that God moves mightily in this camp. It seems that he is doing a lot and a breaking point might come at camp. This is a great group.
The third visit was in Valašske Meziříčí. Yes that is a whole lot of Czechness.It is a hard name to say and when ever I see it my tongue cries. I love this group. They are restarting camps after taking the past 2 yrs off. Pray for the leadership that they would grow in confidence. Pray for students we have 9 campers signed up now, we want 25. Pray that we would get a lot of campers signed up from the city itself.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So I'm back in Czech. I love it here. As soon as I say the Prague and I felt the wheels of the plane touch down I felt something change. The large chunk of my heart that I had left here returned to me. A part of my soul came back to life. The piece of myself that I had been missing for a year was returned and I feel whole again.
This past year was a huge struggle for me.I had never waged such an intense battle for the desires of my heart before. I had never struggled with doubt like I had during the past school year but now...I remember what God had told me. All the questions I had about coming to Czech were wiped away.As I waited to get off the plane I thought to myself I have no reason to be in Czech. My whole story and involvement with this place and these people start with God. I have no reason to be here except for His call.I think that might be one of the coolest things ever.
One of my supervisors were talking about how everything for this summer seemed to fall apart except for us, the extended summer Interns. Its weird to think of myself as an answer to prayer but that is exactly what I am, or so I'm told.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the yoke

Lately I've been feeling like I'm carrying a burden that is more than I want to bear. It isn't that the yoke is to heavy or that it doesn't fit is just that I'm unaccustomed to wearing it. My shoulders aren't used to the mantel that is placed on them. My muscles aren't familiar with the constant pressure that life seems to be putting on them. All of the things I'm struggling with are not knew for me but for some reason they are different now. It might be the reality that is quickly approaching that a missionary's life holds for me. I'll always be away from home, I'll always be missing from family. I'll always be a foreigner. I'll always be dependent on people for support.
I know that Jesus promised an easy yoke and that his burden is light but these days I question if there is any way that it could be lighter still as I wait for the time that I become accustomed to feel of his yoke.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yes twice in one month

I know for those of you who keep track of this site that it is rather uncommon...ok, it has never happened before, i think, but I'm posting for a second time in one month. That being said lets get on with the good stuff.
Last week I was given the privilege of attending Josiah Venture's new missionary training. It was an incredible experience of meeting new faces of people that I hope to call co-worker with soon, hearing about what my life's calling has in store for me, and getting some wicked sweet advice. I forgot to mention but Dave Patty was there. Dave is the founder and president of Josiah Venture, a man who literally writes my text books, and some one that I greatly admire.That night ended with Dave, My roommate, a others and myself standing in a circle and talking about life. I was so blessed. On the way back to school I had time to talk with Krupa about mission's stuff and life in Czech. Krupa is a JV missionary who is a Moody for the year doing his Master's work. He has become a mentor to me over the past months. We got to talk about all those things that you never remember during question and answer times.
Last night I received some great news. I now have two churches that are behind me and supporting me. God is simple amazing. Unfortunately I can only do so much to get ready to leave right now because I'm still waiting on a lot(like all of it actually) of paper work from JV.
As for the rest of life it is going really good. God has given me a few surprises that have really caught me off guard but I'm enjoying it a lot. The semester is full of reading and a few papers and I can't believe that it is already February and next week is the start of Moody's Founder's week. Which is a week long Bible conference. it is fun but very draining as well.
Things to Pray for:
That I would get my info from JV so I can start aggressively raisng support
Pray fro God's provision during the upcoming months for school related items as well as support
Pray for Melissa my co-leader and our team of Americans and Czech(Which I have no info on)
Pray for the churches we will be working with and the one I'm at now.

Thank you all so much for reading this and being a part of my life.

Monday, January 14, 2008

oh my... time flies

Well hello to every one. After a long hiatus that I like to think of as a hibernation I'm back. Today is the beginning of the end. This marks the first day of my last semester in college. It crazy to think of all that will come to a fulfillment on May 17. Five years of college and a year spent trying to find my place in the world later I'll have my BA and I'll be off to spend the rest of my life acting like I know what it is that I'm doing. Almost a quarter of a lifetime's adventures come to a close and the second big stage of life begins.
The next great adventure that I get to go on is one that I'm unfamiliar with and forces me to revert back to a stage of almost total dependence on others. The Czech awaits, my adventure awaits. Am I ready? This is the big question I find myself struggling with lately. Are we ever ready for the things that await us around the next turn? Beginning a career, getting married, starting a family, the end of one thing and the beginning of another? I feel like that feeling of readiness will be something that continually evades me. I guess that that is the beauty of ministry. There are simply so many curve balls and "x-factors" that I don't ever feel ready but I work for this guy who isn't ever caught be surprises. Since I'm only a steward of my situation I can't go beyond his decisions. I find comfort in this. I don't call the shots, the burden of ultimate responsibility isn't hanging on my shoulders. there is beauty in that.