Monday, March 13, 2017

The Void {A Life Story Part 1}

As we're approaching the one year mark of turning our lives upside down, I've been thinking a lot about the last year. It's also due to the fact that we've made some new friends and have shared our story a few times too - every time I have to verbalize our journey here, I'm struck by another tidbit that I'd forgotten. Funny how that works.

Anyway, like I said, I've been thinking about all the bits and pieces that factored into making the decisions we did, our desires and dreams, the whole purpose of shifting our lives so drastically. And that purpose has really been tugging on my heart because I believe that I misplaced it somewhere along the way to today. Amidst all the stress of packing up our lives in SD, sending Adam off to the Army, figuring out how to live without him, dealing with the headache that is selling a house, readjusting to living with my parents, moving again, and starting a new career (it's a lot, right!?), not to mention the mere minutia of every day living, I forgot why we chose to do all that, the very simple reason for a very complex life adjustment. We wanted to influence lives for Jesus.

If you don't know anything of our history, this time last year Adam and I were working living as youth pastors in South Dakota. We loved our kids, we loved our church, we loved our town and the friends we had there. We wanted to be there long term. But God had different plans for us. Fast forward one year and Adam is in the Army, we live in Kansas, and I am working to become a teacher. As two people who were individually called to ministry, this looks like a dramatic shift in thinking. But hopefully I can explain. Now, from here on out, I'm going to share only my side of the story. Not being in Adam's head, I don't want to speak for him in this place. But I can share specifically what God was doing in my heart.

It started for me when I took a second job. As I only worked part time at the church, we decided I'd get another job to help us try to get ahead a little bit. So, I found a part time gig at a restaurant in town as a hostess. Nothing glamorous at all there, but I quickly found that I really loved it. I enjoyed all the people I got to interact with, coworkers and customers alike. I also quickly realized that I was working with and amidst broken humanity, people in desperate need of the love and grace of Jesus. Having come straight from Bible college and being completely immersed in the church world as I was, I had almost lost sight of that need. Now, I'm not saying that people already in church don't still need God's love and grace in their lives. That's not true. We all need Jesus. (Can I get an "Amen?!") But the desperation, the urgency of those in need of the life and eternity changing Gospel, that is what I had lost sight of. And so, without even realizing it, I was thrust back into "reality", a world where people I knew and cared about, who I interacted with daily, were unloved, uncared for, lost and wandering, dying without knowing Jesus - and that broke my heart. It created in me a sense of desperation and urgency. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by wonderful people who had never heard that God loves them.

A few weeks ago our pastor said something to the effect of "a great vision starts with a great void." He was talking about Nehemiah and how God began the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah's first step in bringing wholeness to his people was seeing the brokenness, recognizing the need. Crazy enough, God used my job as a hostess to show me the need of my community, to let me see the void that so desperately needed to be filled - that there were still people in Watertown, SD, a town with plenty of churches and so many believers, who were hurting and in need of the Gospel AND that I had access to them through the channel of a restaurant hostess. And with that He began to grow in me a new vision for what His ministry might look like in my life.

This was where this upside down, crazy journey into the unknown started for me. Now, of course, there is a good bit more that goes into this story. But who wants to read more than four-five paragraphs at a time? I think I'll wrap it up here for today. We'll make this a series, shall we?

Saturday, March 4, 2017


One of my favorite podcasts does a segment every month called "Read, Watch, Listen, Follow" where they share what they have been reading, watching, listening to, and who/what they have been following. As I get some great ideas from them, I thought I'd share some of mine through my own outlet - this blog. 

Read: Gone With The Wind. My grandmother has been telling me for years that I need to read this one. I picked it up back in high school, but it just didn't catch me. However, now, I am totally loving it! I find myself strongly disliking Scarlett one moment only to root for her the next. Her incredible selfishness kills me, but I think it's because I see my own selfishness mirrored in her character. So often I find myself thinking, "yeah, I would've done the same thing." And the force with which she fights for herself, her family, and her home, man, they make me want to be just as strong. Really, it's excellent. What's even more fun is the fact that this was one of the first books my grandmother read after she came to America (and I think in English). I find myself constantly wondering what she was thinking as she read these same pages. I can't wait to give her a call and hear her thoughts once I'm done.

Watch: I just started watching Call The Midwife on Netflix and I am totally hooked. The show follows new midwife Jenny Lee through her cases in London's East End throughout the 1950s. The characters are all so quirky; Chummy, being one of my favorites. Each episode reminds me how fortunate I am to live without the constant threat of poverty and in an era with such advanced medicine. It's a bit of a reality check, but with enough lightheartedness so as not to be too heavy. 

Listen: Around the Table Podcast. I already said this is one of my favorites. It's actually the first podcast I started listening to regularly and I'd say the one that got me into listening to podcasts in the first place. Their tag line is "the perfect balance of intention and indulgence," and I'd say that rings true. Jacey and Maggie have great thought provoking content with enough fluff to keep it fun every week. They are the reason I look forward to my Monday runs. (I always listen to podcasts or audiobooks when I run - way more fun than music.) 

Follow: thegraygang on Instagram. I love following this awesome mama and her five adorable kiddos on Insta. She's always super honest and vulnerable about motherhood and I find her downright inspiring. I love that she shares the good and the bad; how being a mom is both incredibly difficult some days, but that it's so worth it. She has some awesome quotes from various sources and never hesitates to give a bit of her own wisdom and thoughts on raising little ones (without any judgement!). Plus her kids are totally rocking it and they have the best names. Props to her and her husband for raising strong, loving children. Makes me so look forward to that stage of my life...and maybe want a big family myself. 

What are you reading, watching, listening to, and following? 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A chilly dilemma

We've all been enjoying this not-so-wintry weather recently, right? 70+ degrees in February - I'll take it. But here's my dilemma with this whole springtime-weather-in-winter thing: I'm not prepared for it.

You see, I have two jackets: a knee length winter parka and a well used fleece. In the mornings I am faced with a critical decision. Do I skip the parka even though it is currently 25 and windy or do I wear my wonderfully warm puffer and look ridiculous this afternoon when it is somewhere around 60? Freeze now or look silly later? Now, you might be thinking, "Simple solution, just don't wear the parka in the afternoon." Sure. That's an option. But, it's still windy (alas, I'm still cold). And I always have my hands full coming home from school, so it just makes walking across the parking lot that much more difficult. I know, complain, complain.

I was just ignoring the problem. Who cares if I look ridiculous, I'm warm. However, yesterday I did feel rather foolish as I was walking across the Walmart parking lot, my parka swishing in the wind, next to a girl in a tank top. Picture that please. One gal in a big, puffy, fur-lined hooded parka and another in a tank top walking into Walmart side by side. I may have been laughing not so silently to myself. That chick probably thought I was crazy. Well, I am the one wearing the parka after all.

Why do I tell you this? Simply because I found a good bit of humor in it.

And now I am determined to find an acceptable springtime/in-betweener jacket to wear on days like today. Goals, I tell you. Goals.

Side Note: I'm still hoping to get one good dump of snow before winter is gone. Anyone with me?