To Change or Not to Change… This is the Question

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300We have a new host for our Five Minute Fridays… Kate Motaung, and I’m grateful that she is carrying the banner. Lisa-Jo, I know God is calling you to other wonderful things… and I will miss you (in FMF) but will continue to follow you around the blogosphere and literature.

Change.

For most, this word strikes terror. The kind of fear that brings chills with cold sweat and the creepy someone-is-watching-me fright. The thought of change makes them jumpy. Paranoid. “When’s the next chaaaaaaaaaange?

Yeah, that’s not me.

Strange, I know. (Okay, disclaimer: I don’t like negative change… like death and sickness or great, big, out-of-control losses).

Other than that, I love change.

I thrive on it.

It gives me energy and fills me with life. Now, I’m an introvert, so quiet time also fills me with life. But the runner-up is change. I always want to be learning something new, experiencing a new culture or a new language or painting a wall or creating.

I’ve often wondered if I’m troubled. Like, maybe I should abhor change like everyone else. What is it about me that makes change so easy? So comfortable? So… welcome?

For one, I think God has wired this into me. And so did my parents. I’m a Highly Mobile Kid (HMK). I moved A LOT as a kid and when we finally stopped moving… I didn’t know how. So I changed my room around every month. Or when I got older, I learned to travel the world. THIS did wonders for my soul. But it also was a detriment. It was like a fix I needed. When life was too mundane or ritualistic… I e to get out and get a change “fix.” WHAT?!

In some ways, this is frustrating to me about my own self. Part of me would LOVE to want to be settled and permanent and rooted. Truly. And perhaps if I could live multiple lives at once, one of them would be as such.

But I can’t and I’m not and sometimes I want to cry and sometimes I jump for joy.

I’m a mess.

Then God smiles on me… after 5 years of teaching me to root and deal with complete monotony (which ended up being AMAZING years)… He plants me in Germany, on the border of Switzerland and France. I’m a hop, skip, and a jump away from other cultures and languages. When life (which I AM living here… regular, every-day life, complete with day after day of laundry, cooking, dishes, rearing of children, work, etc) begins to drain me, I have access to the world. OH, I love the smiles of God.

But this planting only came after the hard call to plant. To dig deep. And you know what? I wouldn’t be here today… living so fully within the design God commanded of my personality and heart, if it weren’t for those years of planting. And some of my deepest, truest friends come from that same soil. And the huge amount of Support Heroes who provide for us to serve a Black Forest Academy… well, they wouldn’t know my from Suzy Shloozy if it hadn’t been for those years of planting. And the ways He matured me, grew me, developed in me, invested in me, during those years… are how I can be here and be healthy.

Yeah, the change I needed most in my life was the change I kicked and screamed against.

The change asking me to stop the change for awhile.

I’ve always known and trusted God as my constant. He’s everywhere I go. I never leave Him behind, or He me, when I travel. He’s my constant. He’s the only constant I truly need. And while He understands the life of a HM (He experienced life as one Himself) and frees me to be such… if I’m to know Him entirely… then I have to make my peace with not changing.

Because He doesn’t.

And how can I be so repelled by something that so deeply characterizes who He is? Consistent. Steadfast (Lamentations 3:22). Unchanging like the shifting shadows (James 1:17). The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6).

To know this piece of Him, this piece of His divine nature, I must embrace those moments in my own life. To make my peace with the seasons left untouched by variation and transition. To understand that it’s not the “fix” of another adventure that really gives me life… but the Giver of all things good and beautiful. Sometimes that beauty is revealed through an adventure, yes. And sometimes it’s revealed in the quiet nuances of each regular moment.

An Orphan Needs You to Be His/Her Valentine… Are You Up For It?

3Ci+Maubane016 Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorites. My parents were so great at making each holiday special- finding ways to celebrate my sister and I and our family. It wasn’t a day where my parents ditched us to celebrate their love (nothing wrong with that!). Instead they wrapped us up in their love and made Valentine’s a day for us all… not just romantic couples.

And I love it.

Years later, I’m instilling the same in my own children.

And today, I’m joining Lisa-Jo in an even bigger wrap of love… a blanket that encompasses 250 orphans and 150 adults in Maubane, South Africa. Are you ready to

passionately fall in love with 250 kids who would tell you that there is nothing ordinary about being a mom? Especially when you don’t have one. Here’s the chance to give your heart away and BE someone’s unexpected, ridiculously generous valentine.

I can’t think of a BETTER way to spend Valentine’s Day, can you?

Through five phases, we are building a community center in Maubane.

You can check out all five phases here, including how you can join and make an orphan your valentine.

Or an entire community.

12459491944_21199a8ba1_n This is how the garden looks right now… And with the help of YOU, Foundations for Farming, Lisa-Jo, and I… it will look like this:

12459489854_edd7d4d295_n

This is the work of Foundations for Farming in some of their other locations, after training and developing nationals in building and maintaining sustainable life-giving gardens. In Maubane,

Foundations for Farming will be training community representatives in “train the trainer” workshops and helping them establish a 2,500 square metre garden.

This garden will produce spinach, beans, tomatoes, carrots, corn and soya. Enough to feed the community as well as be a source of sales income.

This garden project is designed with the specifics of South African soil and this community in mind.

Training, equipment, veggies = $2,500

Fencing to keep out cattle = $1,000

Irrigation equipment = $1,500

I’m a mom. And I’m a mom doing the day in and day out of raising my children. I don’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from. They aren’t playing in the yard with hundreds of children who don’t have parents… whose parents have died before their time to preventable causes… I don’t worry where they’ll get clothes, if they’ll have clothes, or whether they will die of a cold.

And no mom should

Won’t you join me today? Will you take on this community as your Valentine?

Will you stand with the mother’s of South Africa?

Will you stand with the orphans of Maubane?

Let’s show our children the TRUE heart of Valentine’s Day!

worldnextdoornecklace

Lisa Jo’s friend, Krafty Kashoan has created three custom necklaces and will donate half the price of each to this project. Choose from the words Brave, Family, or Pray and wear a reminder of this love story with you on Valentine’s and beyond.

Just Write… Like That’s Easy

5-minute-friday-1

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

-Flannery O’Connor

“Just write,” they say. Like that’s an easy thing to do.

Like it doesn’t mean undressing your soul, standing fully nude, and being forced to birth a child in front of a bunch of strangers.

“Just write.”

Just tell me your deepest, darkest secrets… your greatest fears, your biggest nightmares, the things that terrorize your sleep and that you spend your life trying to ignore.

Just loose the doors to your lips, to your heart, and let it all spill on paper, leaving a bloody trail.

Just write.

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.

-Hemmingway

And yet… not to write is to die. f5c257e6946ffa7e8de77f57cb94d5fa

To cease to breathe. To cease to understand myself.

To get really, really cranky.

Because for writers, there’s this constant tension between the dance of mind and fingers and how they birth beautiful and amazing expressions of the deepest places, and the fear that we won’t be able to handle it.

That what comes out will be too much. Too deep. Too scary. That somehow all our daytime efforts of holding back will be overthrown, and this powerful urge to write will ruin us.

Yet, it is only in this space of soul-bearing that truth reveals itself in bright rays of light, bursting forth like a kid who’s been held back from a candy-buffet… and the bar’s been lifted. It lights each nook and cranny of the spirit, giving clarity and insight. “Ah-ha,” sighs the soul, slumping into rest… into the Sabbath dusk that chirps with crickets and calms.

It is like birth. The labor pains end and now you understand that it is all worth it. All the months of anxiety and fear and trepidation and excitement and build up and stretching and growing and changing… now, here, is this word-child, the result of the bearing and the pushing and the crushing of body. And now it’s clear.

17e470646fd7da46477f97e3465793ef

I have something to say, and I’m terrified to say it. It’s one thing to think it… it’s another thing to pull it out of that “safe” treasure trove and flag it around for others to see. I’ve seen writers  watch their “babies” dragged through the streets, slaughtered and hung on digital poles with signs of accusation and finality.

We live in a cruel world.

But we also live in a beautiful world. And I have experienced the way brave writers, stepping into their beautiful messes and sharing it with grace and elegance, can change the world for a moment. For a day. Forever.

My moment feels more mess than beautiful.

The kind of mess that begins to tower over you and reek of insufficiency and condemnation. The kind of mess you see in other people’s yards, piled in front of their pretty doorways. The mess you ignore because it just can’t be that mess. No, it might look like that mess, but it’s definitely not.

My denial has been assuring me that my mess is the self-cleaning kind of mess. Yeah. That kind.

Not the ugly, embarrassing, humbling, bigger-than-I-can-manage kind of mess.

Nope.

That’s for the other people.

But it’s not.

That kind of mess is for me, too.

And it’s here, in the thick of this suffocating mess, that God longs to bring my defense. My vindication. His healing to my story-in-progress. His healing to your story-in-progress.

The story we must tell to save ourselves and each other from self-made prisons.

Just write.

670040b807f6141b4f19c45663e5082f