~ ~ where some see a hopeless end, others see an endless hope ~ ~

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You Could Have Series #3: DriveUpper's

Just so we’re clear.  This happened a week ago.  And I’m still smiling because of it…

That’s how powerful this is.

You Could Have Series #3: DriveUpper’s

We are studying a workbook at the office, teaching us to become better followers of Christ.  A simple commandment to serve humbly, live intentionally, and do it all while in the shadows…  <-- As in.  Don’t expect recognition.  Don’t serve for your own glory.  Don’t expect anything in return.

I experienced this first hand.

I was driving through Starbucks, treating myself to a skinny vanilla latte, (extra extra hot and no foam--ya know, so you get the vivid description).  And for those of you who know the Starbucks world… that’s almost an entire day’s pay--so I, OF COURSE, was only getting one because I had a gift card.

when much to my dismay, I had just switched bags that day and didn’t have the card with me.


Bummed and bitter about my forgetfulness, I continued to pull forward to pay for my coffee-made-of-gold treat.  As I dug through my wallet to scrape up the change, the lady in the window casually says, “That’s all covered for you ma’am.  You don’t owe anything.”

Blank Stare.


“I’m sorry?”

“The car in front of you took care of your coffee for you today, it’s all taken care of.  You have a great day, ok?”

It took everything in me not to JUMP out of my car, leap through the window, and hug her face.  Composing myself, I, instead, did the only other thing that came to mind and that was cover the man’s beverage for him, behind me.


I don’t know who the girl was in front of me.

I don’t know her story.

I don’t know where she works, what her favorite color is, what her parents are like, if she has kids, a dog, or a boat.

All I DO know is how I felt, when she did what she didn’t have to do, and to hear those words, “It’s all taken care of.”

Could you IMAGINE the effect on this planet if every time some ONE does ONE thing for another, that ONE person would PAY IT FORWARD and do ONE more?

There’s 7 billion people on this planet.  You do the math.

It’s this kind of stuff that makes my heart leap.  It’s these little acts of kindness that keep the smile on my face, the hope in my eyes, and the joy and excitement to continue another day.


To whoever was in that Red little car, whose window wouldn’t roll down so you had to open your door, whose hair was brown, and whose smile was bright….   Thank You.

You Could Have kept driving on.

But you didn’t.

You made my day.

and because she made mine, I want to inspire and encourage you to do the same for ONE person in your life today.  You may know them.  You may not.  The Challenge is on, people.  Here are some ways to get you started:

1. Say "Good morning" to a person standing next to you in the elevator.

2. Pay the toll for the driver behind you.

3. Take a minute to direct someone who is lost, even though you're rushing.

4. Write a letter to a child who could use some extra attention. Kids love getting mail.

5. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, especially in extreme weather. 

6. Give a homeless person your doggie bag.

7. Say "I love you" to someone you love.

8. Put a coin in an expired meter.

9. Help a mother carry her baby stroller up the subway stairs, or hold a door open for her. 

10. Each time you get a new item of clothing, give away something old.

11. Take someone's shift as the car-pool parent.

12. Bring your assistant coffee.

13. Out of the blue, send flowers to a friend.

14. Say "please" and "thank you"—and really mean it.

15. When you're on a crowded train or bus, offer your seat to an elderly, disabled or pregnant person.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Anything is Possible

There’s something so massively mysterious about this… and yet, so unifying at the same time.

Almost, in a weird, non-offensive way, puts our biggest dreams in a box, or…
simply suggests a calming, peaceful voice from Above who says,

“Yes.  Anything is Possible”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Say Thank You and Celebrate

A very near and dear friend of mine shared with me the forward in her book that she’s reading, “Bittersweet: thoughts on change, grace, and learning the hard way” by Shauna Niequist.  To me, it’s everything I’ve felt--just didn’t know how to put to into words.  To me, it’s unbelievable that such pain, hardships, heartbreaks and failures truly can AND WILL catapult you into a place where you truly feel like you’ve conquered the world.  They show you how to heal.  They show you how to mend.  And they bring you to a place where your most vulnerable issues are your strongest foundations in life….

This inspired me today, I hope it does you.

The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and re-weaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness.

Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is the courageous, gutsy, earthy.

Nearly ten years ago, my friend Doug told me that the central image of the Christian faith is death and rebirth, that the core of it all, over and over again, is death and rebirth. I'm sure I'd heard that before, but when he told me, for whatever reason, I really thought about it for the first time. And at the time, I didn't agree.

What I didn't understand until recently is that he wasn't speaking to me as a theologian or a pastor or an expert, but rather as a person whose heart had been broken and who had been brought back to life by the story God tells in all our lives. When you haven't yet had your heart really broken, the gospel isn't about death and rebirth. It's about life and more life. It's about hope and possibility and a brighter future. And it is, certainly, about those things.

But when you've faced some kind of death- the loss of someone you loved dearly, the failure of a dream, the fracture of a relationship- that's when you start understanding that central metaphor. When your life is easy, a lot of the really crucial parts of Christian doctrine and life are nice theories, but you don't really need them. When, however, death of any kind is staring you in the face, all of a sudden rebirth and new life are very, very important to you.

Now, ten years later, I know Doug was right. I've thought about his words a thousand times in the last few years, a season in my own life that has felt in some moments like death at every turn. I've begun to train my eyes for rebirth, like looking for buds on branches after an endlessly long winter. I know that death is real, and I trust that rebirth is real, too.

Christians, generally, aren't great at lament and mourning. Jews are really better at lament, maybe because they've had more practice. My favorite part of a Jewish wedding is the breaking of a glass. Like most Jewish traditions, there are a whole bunch of interpretations; some say that all the shards of broken glass suggest loads of future children and future happiness. Some say that the breaking of the glass references the irreversible nature of marriage; in the same way that the glass can never be put back together after it's been broken, two people can never be separated once they've been connected by marriage. But my favorite interpretation is the one where the wine in the glass is a symbol for all of life, and when the bride and groom drink it, they accept both the bitter and the sweet aspects of life. They accept that sometimes they'll celebrate and sometimes they'll mourn, in the same way that sometimes they'll drink wine and sometimes glasses will shatter.

This collection is an ode to all things bittersweet, to life at the edges, a love letter to what change can do in us. This is what I've come to believe about change; it's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and hearybreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that is has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. So this is the work I'm doing now, and the work I invite you into; when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

SING a new song!

I love music.  I love the whole world of music.  I love tappin my toe to a good beat and being “that girl” in the car next to you at a red light when my favorite song is on the radio.... Everything about the art of it, the way it makes people feel, the way it motivates, inspires, drives, and heals.  I love music.
And now I live in a city full of musicians.  And my heart lives in a continent full of hopeful spirit and talent.
And not trying to pursue a musical career, sometimes I ask God why He has given me this passion.  Why He speaks to my heart through music and creative expression.  I’ve been so impacted by it, that’s it’s literally been steering my Lifeship all these years. . . So, WHAT do I do with it?
Since I can remember, I have wanted to introduce the arts to children in impoverished areas all over the world, to heal them, teach them, train them, igniting their passion to use it for the Lord, and empowering them to use their talents to further succeed in life.  And when the bible calls us to walk out the mandate given in James 1:27—I want to do so through Music.  

*I want children to know they’re beautiful and talented.
*I want them to know how special they are because they have gifts the Lord specifically chose them to have.
*I want them to feel a healing they’ve never felt before.
*I want children to know they have a Future, because they have a Hope.

This May, my Visiting Orphans co-worker Frank Pass, our partner Artist Johnnyswim, a team of musicians, and I will be heading to Gisenyi, Rwanda, bringing the gift of music to share God’s love with over 600 orphans. 

Music is an important part of the Rwandan culture, communicating God’s love that transcends language and cultures, and it plays an important role in the lives of Rwandan orphans.  We will be uniting this team’s unique talents and skills into a themed mission trip to teach the youth in Rwanda how to use their musical gifts!  We want to empower these children to use their talents to further succeed in life.  We want to show them, not only is Music an opportunity for expression—it’s an opportunity for healing.

JAMES 1:27 is clear when it states that, "pure religion is to visit orphans and widows in their distress."  And I’m asking you to consider how saying, “Yes” just might change you forever.  I’m praying you want to share your God given talents with the world, in places that need it the most.

We are inviting people with many varieties of musical experience including singers, songwriters, worship leaders, music teachers, children’s music leaders, production, instrumentalists, etc.  We are looking for various talents and skills to contribute to this amazing team of Musical Missionaries!  So, I want to challenge individuals that have shown a passion for the Lord, have a heart for the Orphan, and want to share the love of Jesus through Music to ask yourselves,
What can I do with it?” 

Please consider joining me, my Co-Leader Frank Pass, Abner and Amanda Ramirez, and the rest of the Music Mission Team to Rwanda this coming May!! 

CONTACT FRANK PASS or MYSELF for more information on becoming involved!

"Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.”  -Psalm 33:3



Visiting Orphans is a registered 501c3 whose mission is “to awaken the body of Christ to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the 163 Million orphans by visiting them, loving them, and sharing the Father’s heart.”
Frank Pass (Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ukraine Trip Coordinator):  frank.pass@visitingorphans.org
Amanda Herdina (Executive Assistant):  amanda.herdina@visitingorphans.org

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

How far can you Fly?

The Bible quotes “fear not” 365 times.

God wants us reminded EVERY DAY of the year that we should not fear.  That we should not worry.  That we should lay all our cares aside and trust in His will for our lives.

So why is it that Fear strikes as one of the biggest wedges between us and God?

Fear comes to us at every angle.  In every situation.  In choices we make, in people we meet, in places we travel, and jobs we do.  Fear resides.  And isn’t it just like the enemy to come to us in our every day lives?  Attacking us in our every day situations?  When we would least expect it, because it’s “our EVERY DAY NORM”. ?

A thought occurred to me last night.

I’ll be the first to admit I have fear.  I’ve been scared out of my wits.  I’ve been terrified out of my mind.  I’ve been worried, anxious, nervous, and … fearful.  I’ve been all of those things.  And as I was thinking about the times I’ve been the most scared--the most glorious and amazing things have happened afterward.

From the ripe ‘ole age of 4 when Dad FINALLY let go of the bike seat and I rolled down the hill without training wheels.  I was terrified. But ya know what ?  From that day forward, I learned how to ride a bike.  A big girl bike.

When I committed to being in Speech and Theater growing up and that terror of going on stage RIGHT before my cue should have called me right back into submission--but relishing in it instead and giving the performance of a lifetime.

When my car was packed, loaded and ready to hit the road to Cali and fear crept so deep inside me that I literally disappeared for 4 hours before the trip.  But I somehow got in that car.  Made it California.  And the true path of my life was paved from that day forward.

When I had to make the decision to stay where I was most comfortable with a familiar world and paying job, or uproot, head east to Nashville, a territory unknown, having to put my career behind me--that anxiety and stress again came back heavy. … I’m still finding out today that it was one of the best decisions of my life.

When I stepped off the plane in a foreign country: disease, death, poverty, sickness, weakness, and hardship I’ve never experienced before surrounding me--I gasped for air.  I gasped for Courage.  I’d never felt fear so strong, trying to hold me back… but I’ve never come out so far ahead in the end.

See…. in me?  God uses my fear.  He knows it’s going to come.  So that’s when and where He takes me by the reigns, steers me into complete and utter terror, and drives me straight into what He knows best.

And I come out alive.  Better than alive.  

I’m learning that God is using the evil Fear that is surely intended for ‘bad’, and completely making it Good.

I’m learning that my fear is actually my ammunition.

I’m learning that the need to feel alive will bring you to the edge, but Fear will keep you from jumping.  God will use your fear to make you fly...

I’m learning that if I’m not scared, it’s not worth my time.

And if we aren’t giving ourselves enough credit to accomplish what God has planned for us, why should we expect Him to?

PSALM 27 inspired me today:

"1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— 
   whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
   of whom shall I be afraid?

 2 When the wicked advance against me
   to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
   who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
   my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
   even then I will be confident.
 4 One thing I ask from the LORD,
   this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
   all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
   and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
   he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
   and set me high upon a rock.
 6 Then my head will be exalted
   above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
   I will sing and make music to the LORD.
 7 Hear my voice when I call, LORD;
   be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
   Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
   do not turn your servant away in anger;
   you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
   God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
   the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, LORD;
   lead me in a straight path
   because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
   for false witnesses rise up against me,
   spouting malicious accusations.
 13 I remain confident of this:
   I will see the goodness of the LORD
   in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
   be strong and take heart
   and wait for the LORD."