Live Small, Love Big {a link up}

Live Small, Love Big

{If you need some help, here is my contribution to this community}

 

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Honey, There is No Color. Only Mankind.

DSC_1004This morning, while the kids roller skated through the entire house, upstairs and down, I sorted papers and old pictures. It’s been a week of moving all the furniture, all the books, all the paper stacks, all the wood to the fireplace, all the ashes to the metal canister and all the dust to the bottom of the Dyson.

Because when life leans over into crazy town, I move the stuff.

I move stuff to distract myself from the nagging feeling that things are happening just beyond my control and I move stuff to bring a sense of temporary order to the chaos rolling up the carpets all around me.

And y’all, the carpets are beginning to roll themselves up. Do you know what I’m saying?

It’s this feeling of being caught in the middle of one thing while the next thing,  I can’t see, is hanging out around the edges.

So while I do the same old, everyday things like the laundry, I move the same old, everyday things to keep me from squinting too hard at the things I can’t yet quite see.

It’s both cathartic and a productive waste of time.

 chaos to orderTonight, I squeezed myself into the only pair of jeans I can shove my post-I-Ate-Christmas booty into and smeared on a layer of lip gloss before heading one block over to the library for an event called Unified.

I mistakenly thought Unified was going to be a panel dealing with race relations in our city.

And it was…but it wasn’t.

Of the 18 people present, 5 white, 13 black, I was the only person under the age of 50 in the room. We watched an hour long documentary called Racial Taboo, filmed predominately in North Carolina, and then we answered one question: How did this documentary make you feel?

The documentary was well done by a white man who touched on the history of slavery, the civil rights movement, Jim Crow laws, and racism today. He interviewed many black individuals, a few white men, and gave bits of commentary on his own racial biases. His work showed the plight of blacks and the struggles they experience in relating to and entering into relationships with white people.

I jotted down notes throughout the video, nodding my head at the truths ringing out from the screen, things I heard in other documentaries I’d watched recently. I’ve spent the last year reading book after book, going to school on my neighbors who just so happen to be poor and black and trying to figure out poverty, so the information I was jotting down was not new to me. It was quite familiar.

When the video ended and the lights came up, I pulled myself to the edge of my chair and eagerly awaited the conversation that would surely come. The man facilitating the video screening gave some ground rules and informed us that tonight’s race panel would be the first of many to come over the next year. I almost cheered, my mind switching into high gear considering how many people I could cram into my house on a monthly basis. 

But my internal cheering quickly became an internal groaning as the conversation began.

There is no such thing as white privilege. Only black privilege.

How are we ever going to move forward if we all we do is dwell on the past?

It’s the white man who sets the laws and it’s the white man who keeps us down.

There is no color. We are all colorblind.

Why should we have to keep paying for things that happened in 1640?

My family never had slaves.

We just need to love each other and never talk about skin color.

Everybody has the same chance at life. Some people just don’t ever take advantage of it.

I want to move. This place has changed a lot in the last 50 years. I don’t feel safe here.

My son has a black friend and he’s the nicest boy.

You can’t play the white card because there is no such thing. There is only the human card.

I don’t like the way this video doesn’t show that black people were successful after slavery.

I think some people are just taking advantage of things.

The more talking that happened, the more my face flushed with heat. No one in the group said anything that I thought I knew. I wanted to sink through my chair onto the floor. And all I could think was that everything these people were saying did not match anything my neighbors were saying or line up with any book I have read or mirror any documentary I have watched in the last year.

I felt like I was sitting back at square one, a year’s worth of schooling being flushed down the drain.

Do I live in a place filled with people who believe that racism is just a figment of our imagination? Am I crazy? Do I even have a white card that I shamefully choose to play to benefit my neighbors? Is there really no such thing as the privilege I feel as a white middle class American with a college degree? Do the black people in my city really not believe that skin color is a non-issue? Am I just a prideful mama stuffed to the gills with lots of words she’s crammed into her head?

And why the heck do I live on Avent street if these people out here really just like being poor because they are too lazy to take advantage of this great land called America? {WHAT?}

I threw my two cents into the pot and then listened as the crickets chirped for a total of 10 seconds before the black lady behind me corrected my thoughts on all 6 fronts. Honey, there is no color. Only mankind.

I wanted to die.

And at a little before 8pm, on my way home, I voxed the only person I knew to vox and left a rambling message of {Tell me what to do here, you modern day prophet to North American white evangelicals!}.

And now at nearly midnight tonight, I sit with my own thoughts about my city and our racism and my face still burns.

Small Collage 1I share this with you because I’m in a season of life filled with more unknowns than knowns. And most days I scarcely know the person looking back at me from the mirror. My old self would have never stepped foot into the hot bed called race relations and she most certainly would have never, ever opened her mouth and tossed in a couple of pennies.

But love does.

Love jumps in and gets messy with the whole lot of them. It asks the wrong questions while seeking the right answers. Love says awkward things because it cannot bear to not speak up. Love listens and eats the sin spewing from the mouths of others because those who know Love know they are people of unclean lips too.

And as I fall all over myself in this small life here on Avent, I desire to be known not for my eloquent words, but for how I chose to love…

However messy and broken my love may be.

 

This is my humble offering for our Live Small, Love Big link up. See you in the morning at 11am.

The Middle of Nowhere

DSC_0893I took a narrow, winding road out to the middle of nowhere last tonight and I remembered that I love the middle of nowhere.

The middle of nowhere speaks to me in ways that smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-the-hood never can.

The middle of nowhere conjures up thoughts of rolling hills covered with free-range chickens and dilapidated barns. It stirs up feelings of a simpler life filled with lanes and lanes of no next-door-across -the-street-neighbors.  The middle of nowhere whispers quiet stillness and hey, let’s slow it all the way down to a crawl.

The middle of nowhere reaches in and touches my most introverted self and coaxes her out into the vast expanse of alone-ness.

And I love the middle of nowhere.

I love it because it gives me space to center in on me, never having to give a thought to what’s happening across the street.

 DSC_0894I drove the 45 minute drive with the radio so loud my chest rattled louder than the windows and my mind let go of the things that always rest hard and heavy there. I let myself wander down the road that leads to all the places I have no time to let myself go and tonight, I was surprised by what met me on the road.

My introverted self, the girl who longs to hole up and hide out, rose up against the narrow, winding road and reminded the ‘hood dwelling me of the one thing tattooed on my heart:

The middle of nowhere is a nice place to visit but the middle of nowhere is no place to set up camp.

 Rocky MountFor days now, the Man and I have been circling the wagons and going there, late at night, trying to lay down our next steps.

Do we plant again soon or do we keep on, keeping on, slow and steady? Do we host a formal gathering in our home or do we rally the neighborhood troops around the fire pit in the backyard and call it a day? Do we simply love our neighbors whether they cash in our ticket to Jesus or not? Or do we love our neighbors and anticipate that the church Jesus is building is the one gathering on our porch? Do we build a team and relaunch or do we wait on the Lord and just do the next thing- the next thing being our Saturday morning donuts and Jesus story?

{We’re a heavy duo, friends. If you wanna have a fun night of laughs and lighthearted conversation, we’re not your peeps. FYI.}

And if I’m going to be completely real with you, then I should tell you that as I drove out to the middle of nowhere, I had to beat back feelings of envy. I had to swallow all the thoughts of easy church {is there even such a thing?} and free-range chicken glory. I tried not to pine for the cute little country gas stations with 2 pumps and the ramble-y way the road dipped and curved with the lay of the land. I complained to myself about the utter darkness of the sky and the way I couldn’t see where I was going. {But the stars, oh my!}

There is something big and fierce in me that aches to retreat to somewhere pretty and peaceful and not so people filled.  It masquerades itself as a mama bear caring for her cubs or a good desire to “be alone with Jesus forever” or a “get back to my roots” sort of respect for legacy as if my legacy is tied to the dirt I grew up on.

These feelings are fierce, I’m telling you. They’re like  heavy ropes wrapped round my ankles trying to yank me and my heart somewhere I’m not meant to be.

But here’s the thing I know- today:

Jesus loves people and people live in the city.

The end.

 

{If you have 45 minutes, then take a listen to this. It’s Tim Keller’s take on Jonah 4. He’s spot on, even though I don’t really wish he were. The middle of nowhere calls to me.}

And don’t forget- Live Small, Love Big goes live on Friday. Yippee! Pray I figure out how to do the linky thing.

The Fray

frayI’ve been under the weather all week. And by under the weather, I mean still functioning while spending long stretches of time on the couch feeling nauseous and staring at all the dust.

The kids did a bang up job of filling all the gaps and Jesus did a bang up job of excavating all the rocks in the bottom of my heart. He likes to dredge up the ugly when I’m too weak and tired to put up a good fight.  So while Jesus moved rocks, I wallowed in the hardened mud in the pit of my heart until Wednesday.

On Wednesday, all hell broke loose in my front yard and I had to pull myself up off the couch and engage the fray. I looked like death warmed up when my bare feet hit the porch and I was cold. But the fray was unraveling at the edges and on Wednesday, the fray was a 13 year old boy in a backpack and pants slung so low his underwear was more than peeking out.

His mama was across the street swearing like a sailor and he was saying all the wrong things back at her. He was speaking truth, but the truth was making things worse. He planted himself down on my porch and I did the only thing I could do: I sat down beside him. And I sat down beside him not because I’m good or right or pure in motive, but because I was nauseous as all get out.

He unloaded on me while my stomach churned and his drunk mama never stopped yelling across the street. Within minutes the law came, in two cruisers, and they hauled the 13 year old boy in the backpack away to wherever they haul 13 year old boys who want to run away from home.

And I sat on my porch with the half dozen kids who’d come for the show and I felt all the weight of Monday’s words.

How do I love my neighbors when the weight of going where love has not yet been is nearly unbearable?

Little man

neighborsOn Monday, some words of mine were published over here and what happened after they were published is still a mystery to me. From 7am on Monday until today, kindness has poured into my little patch of online real estate and I feel the need to tell you a few things.

1.) I wrote that post nearly 90 days ago. Every word was and is true, but it was 90 days ago. And a lot of things can happen in 90 days.

2.) Living the words of that post is easy when things are rocking and rolling and you can see the light breaking in through all the cracks. But living the words of that post is hard when all the rocks have rolled into a heap at the bottom of the hill where it’s so dark you can’t believe you’ll ever figure out how to roll all the rocks back up.

3.) Hospitality is simply an overflow of a heart fully surrendered {anew, every single minute of every single day}  to the commandment of Jesus to love your neighbors as yourself.

And I need to tell you that today, some 90 odd days after all that business about delighting in the presence of outcasts, I find myself wondering about what that really means.

How do I, like Jesus, delight in the presence of outcasts?

 hopeThis morning, while the house still sleeps and my coffee has not yet cooled, I consider our life here.

I consider the way I think you guys on the opposite side of this screen imagine our life to be.

I consider our yes’s and the no’s we see coming.

I consider the crammed mud room and the food pantry that is spilling over because I’ve not yet tapped into how to distribute the goods to my working poor neighbors who are too prideful to receive the things there families need.

I consider the 5 empty homes on our street and I let myself consider, beyond audacious hope, that Jesus is moving one of you here.

I consider the slow way of Jesus that asks me to die to self {every single day} for the good of our neighbors.

And I consider that with each dying piece of myself He is making more room for the sort of love that is able to delight in the presence of the fray- that I may learn to abide both in Him and in my place- bringing His Kingdom near.

 

Psst…Our first ever link-up is going live on January 30- Live Small, Love Big!  How are you living small in your place and how are you loving your neighbors big? Or maybe you’re not. No guilt here, only grace. We grow in community and our community is my favorite. I’ll choose one of your posts to feature as a guest post in February, so be thinking on your story. Or poem. Or wordless piece of art. Link up goes live at 11am on Friday morning! Woot! Who’s coming? Anybody??

 And in case you missed it: Here’s our T-shirt design from Heather’s Letters! Love it so. Think white lettering on a gray tee with an aqua blue hashtag. They will be available in February, all proceeds supporting Feed A Neighbor and our community garden project.

Feed a neighbor

On Making Strides

DSC_0907On a Friday, before the sky fades into a milky shade of gray, the neighborhood kids play tackle football in the side yard while the Man builds a bonfire in the backyard. The girls line the driveway, the grooves of the path marking the lines for their cheering squad, and cheer like it’s their job.

Dust flies as the kids hit the ground. The girls cheer louder and louder and the boys get closer and closer to the flowerbeds. I wince with each tackle.

“Not the flowers, y’all!” I yell. “Seriously, anywhere but the flowers.”

They pause long enough to roll like tumbleweeds onto a patch of clover and I sigh as I look at the trampled bed. Another purple aster has been plucked from the ground and tossed aside like a weed.

I watch them from the porch and snap pictures in my mind and I think the whole filthy lot of them is glorious.

“You guys all staying for hot dogs and marshmallows later?” I call to them. “Thad is building a fire and there will be plenty if you want to stay for dinner.”

They all answer from their places in the yard and I take a mental head count as smoke billows up from behind the fence in the backyard.
And as I rise to prepare the food, I find myself grinning at how wonderful this life really is.

 

I’m sharing the rest of the story over at Grace Table today. I’d love to have you join me at the table.

6 Indicators That Jesus is Jacking Up Your Life

DSC_0884I got an email before the holidays that was rather lengthy. It was the sort of lengthy that makes my stomach flip flop because in my world, long emails from people I’ve never met = not so kind words. I scrolled all the way to the bottom to check out how she had signed her name and was surprised to see that she had signed it with all sorts of love.

So I read it. Twice.

And I was struck with two things: 1.) This girl was afraid that Jesus was getting ready to jack up her pretty life.  2.) Jesus was already jacking up her life.

She had answered all her questions simply because she had the right words with which to even formulate the questions. Make sense? Just go with me.

{Psst…If you are afraid Jesus is going to mess up your life or invite you to live in a way that makes you wanna curl up in a fetal position and cry, Ding, Ding, Ding!…He’s already doing it.   That’s sorta what He does.}

Her email to me wasn’t a letter of doom and gloom and Why is Jesus is doing this to me? It was a letter that edged on excitement. It was a list of things that were happening in her soul that led her to believe that Jesus was up to something- that maybe He  really was making her new and shifting her purpose. It was an email filled with fearful anticipation that what Jesus was up to would be costly.

Since Christmas, I’ve gotten one other email along these same lines and I thought that it may be helpful to give you a list of surefire ways to determine if Jesus is, in fact, jacking up the life you always thought you wanted in order to give you the life more abundant.

 6 Indicators Jesus

1.) You see people. Everywhere.

Instead of racing through your day barely making eye contact with people, you find yourself looking folks square in the face, tracing the outline of their hair, taking note of the color of their eyes. You find yourself being endeared to their quirks, remembering small details about their families. You slow down and soak up stories. You linger at the check out counter just to make sure you’ve connected with the person behind the register.

2.) You no longer see yourself as less broken than your neighbor down the street or friend on the the same pew.

You become acutely aware that the brokenness you see in your neighbor is readily found in your own heart. Because you’ve begun to see people as people with names that aren’t labels, grace simmers to the surface, and all that’s left is the wretch that was saved. And that wretch is you. But Grace.

3. You begin to realize that you are so busy serving the people who attend your local church that you have no time to host your lost neighbor for dinner.

This bothers you enough you decide to skip the Sunday night potluck so that you can share a meal around your table, in your home. You begin to count the hours spent “in the box” versus those spent “outside the box” and determine that something has to change.

4.) You start thinking up new ways to deliver the Gospel and none of those ways include a Come and See element.

In your spare thinking space, you get creative with ways to love your neighbors. You invite them to dinner. You show up to the birthday parties and deliver jars of soup. You invite yourself to their kids’ football game and you make obnoxious posters to show your team spirit. You mow the grass and take the trash to the street. You host a cook out and invite the whole street. You do things that cost you something and then wait for Jesus to build His kingdom slow and small.

5. You start taking stock of all you have and consider that maybe what you have is not meant for just the peeps in your house.

You stand in your yard and consider that the picnic tables should be moved from the backyard to the front yard so that more hineys can enjoy them. You move furniture around to make space for the people you plan to invite into your space. You stock up on groceries so you can readily pull together a meal to give away. You coupon like a boss so that you can give away part of your BOGO, not so you can hoard the extras. You loan your mower to the kid who’s trying to earn some jangle for his pocket and you let him cut your yard because you can.

6. You begin to filter your decision making through this question: Will my people and my place benefit or be left with a deficit based upon my decision?

You’re offered a job transfer with a little more money. Do you take it because your family could use the extra couple of thousand a year or do you stay because your neighborhood would miss the Jesus your family has to offer? Do you leave your small church for the larger, more progressive church twenty miles away, or do you stay where you are because your gifts are needed in that body? Do you let your  kids play basketball on the church league where all the other Christians play or do you sign them up for the rough-around-the-edges city league and encourage the Light that may be under the bleachers?

 

If you were able to nod your head with me, Congratulations! Jesus is officially messing up your life!

And if you were unable to nod your head with me, then tell me how Jesus is messing with your life.

Because He is messing with you- you just may not like it.

{seriously. let me hear from you. no chirping crickets over here today.}

One Thing I Know About the Slow Way of Jesus

DSC_0908There is a little girl down the street and around the corner that I’d love to give a vacation from her life. 

She needs a good 6 month sabbatical from the constant hollering and the getting up at 4am to watch her 2 year old cousin before she gets herself on the school bus. She needs space to breathe, space to move without the overly watchful eyes of her aunt and grandmother and space to lie down and watch the Disney channel for 3 hours straight on Saturday mornings.  She needs to be able to sleep through the night without having to fetch things for her drunk aunt who’s too jacked up to see straight.  She needs to feel the pleasure of a handful of hours to do with what she pleases. She needs to be able to eat PBJs until she’s sick on her tummy from the awesomeness that is a PBJ. She needs to be a kid who feels like she is person of value.

She needs a family that she gets to be a part of, not a family that she is responsible for. She’s eleven, for Pete’s sake.

 

I know Jesus is doing something in our family.  I just can’t say exactly what.

I find that my eyes are ever on the prospect that Jesus is making space in our home to hold one more face for a season. I often imagine that it’s the little girl from down the street and around the corner. Sometimes, I let myself linger over the thought of the baby whose parents are both up to their eyeballs in DSS investigations.

But even as I let myself nest and imagine life with one more person in our home, I am keenly aware that all this stretching may simply be the slow way of Jesus shifting my posture towards my neighbors.

And His slow way says enter into and stay until He chooses to deliver.

 

Is this not the fast which I choose,

To loosen the bonds of the wickedness,

To undo the bands of the yoke,

And to let the oppressed go free     

And break every yoke?

Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry

And bring the homeless poor into the house;

When you see the naked, to cover him;

           And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your LIGHT will break out like the dawn,

And your recovery will speedily spring forth;

And your righteousness will go before you;

The glory of the LORD  will be your rear guard.

Isaiah 58: 6-8

 

PS. If you gave me your One Word on the first, be expecting an email from me tonight. I have landed on an idea! Woot!

I’m Not There Yet

DSC_0764DSC_0779I’ve missed you guys and the normal sort of stuff we talk about here. There’s been too much housekeeping and list making and stating of everything and honestly, December kicked me in the hiney.

If I’d have known in November that for the 4 solid weeks  leading up to Christmas I’d spend all my time gathering and dispersing an odd array of donated things {which were awesome by the way}, I’d have flat cleared the calendar and backed up a U-Haul truck.

It was wheels off around here. A good wheels off, but wheels off nonetheless and I learned a handful of things:

1.) People LOVE to give.

2.) People have a hard time receiving.

3.) Matching up those who have things to give with those who are in need is tricky business. There are lots of feelings coming from both ends and figuring out how to navigate both is even trickier.

4.) I have years of school ahead of me.

But December was the most fun I had all year. Actually, it was the most fun our family had all year and that’s big winnings, y’all.

BIG winnings.

DSC_0841DSC_0835We’ve now moved into January like people on a mission to some land unseen and there is a thin layer of excitement so palpable that if you could bite it, it would crack between your teeth like peanut brittle.

The kids are jumping at the bit to do everything and nothing at all with everyone on our street and the house is a rip-roaring hot mess all the live long day. Our open-door policy with the kids from down the street is stretching me into places I thought I could not be stretched and the boys right across the street, well I just plain like those boys.

I really like them. As in I get a big ol’ cheese on my face when they knock on the door and I start offering them the pantry so they’ll stay a while. I think they’d stay even if I didn’t bait them with nabs and fruit punch, but it’s what I know to do so I do it.

I should probably tell you that this sort of behavior is not my natural bent and on a rotten day, I still bend towards holing up and hiding out. But I’m learning that sometimes saying yes when I want to say no is an outward expression of where I desire my heart to be.  Sorta like giving thanks for everything, all the time, training your heart to beat differently until it bursts with gratitude. Or in my case, sorta like the Grinch when he discovers love and his heart comes alive in such a way  that his chest heaves under the weight of his heart’s stretching.{OK.  I’m totally like the Grinch in all ways, even down to the water leaking from my eyes. You can ask the kids.}

But the point is the same: Every time I  awkwardly shuffle towards the door and crack it open, I’m giving Jesus space to stretch my heart enough to hold whoever is on the other side.

DSC_0829DSC_0826More often than not, the whoever on the other side of the door is a precious little person with a snotty nose and dirty fingernails. We like these little people because, well, they look like the younger fourth of us: small, precious, snotty nosed. They’re easy to like because they just wanna play and maybe have a slice of leftover pizza. They stay a bit and then they go home. There is never a nonverbal exchange that begs for more. Just a couple of tissues, an afternoon of swinging, a bite to eat and a quick goodbye. Easy. And I feel good because I’ve loved my neighbor.

But sometimes Jesus sends folks we like to refer to as EGRs: Extra Grace Required sorta folks. These folks usually bang on the door and make themselves known before we ever reach the door. They push themselves into whatever we have going on, sometimes making their way to the kitchen to see what we’ve got to eat. They track mud across the floor and use abrasive language 10 decibels beyond appropriate. Some smack their children around and then leave them for hours, giving a very nonverbal expectation that demands an immediate move on our part to fill a gaping hole.

And when I say gaping hole, I mean wide open cavern with wind gusts blowing through. Big. Spacious. Daunting.

EGRs rattle my cage. When fists pound my door, my cheeks flush and I lose the ability to order my words. When loud people hurl loud words and then stride to the back of the house, my hands get shaky and my shoulders tense up and I fold inward. I shut down. I’m like a caged animal with a smile on my face, trying to bargain my way out of this momentary stretching. My mind rages and I tell Jesus a flat out no to whatever He’s inviting me to do or say or give away.

It’s an adrenaline rush, a fight or flight response to a situation I’m keenly aware that I’m meant to live through until I’ve been stretched enough to respond with love.

I’m not there yet, y’all.

But I’m closer than I was yesterday.

 

psst…I’ve not forgotten about your words of the year. I’m still puttering around an idea. LOVE all your word choices, people. LOVE.

The State of Everything Address

Ainsley 1.02.15Happy First Day Back to Everything, y’all!

You feeling wobbly and unsure about this whole re-entry thing? Yeah, me too. It was too hard to roll out of bed and greet my people, who are also not morning people, with a cheery smile, so I {we} didn’t. We all just sort of puttered around the house and kept our heads down and played the quiet game.  No faking it till we make it going on round here. Just real people engaging in the real struggle that is the first day back to everything.

But since we are getting back in the saddle this morning and making all sorts of changes, I thought now was as good a time as any to let you in on a few changes happening around here and some things I’m into.

{If you’re a new reader, I want to let you know that I don’t normally write about blogging and I hardly ever make any wild and crazy changes here.  After all this housekeeping sort of stuff, I’ll be back to my regular posting next week. Hope you’ll stick around and maybe even join in and make yourself right at home.}

 Savor 1.03.15

1.) On the last Friday of each month I will be hosting a brand new link-up called Live Small, Love Big.

Because we’re a community on mission in our own places, I wanted to create a place where we could share how we’re doing just that. I’ll share more details later, but for now, begin to think of this link-up as a place to share:

a.)how you are living all-in in your place,

b.)how you are living your life in such a way that ushers in Christ’s Kingdom,

c.)how you are tangibly loving your neighbor, and

d.)how you making space to be an agent of reconciliation.

Think small, y’all. Not big or flashy or organized. God is using you, right where you are. Think of this link-up as an invitation to sit up and take notice and share your small living with us, your community.  Each month, I’ll choose one story that jumped out at me and share it on the blog as a guest post. {I’m super excited about that!} Mark your calendars now for our first link-up that will go live on January 30 at 11am.  {And for non-bloggers, I’ll be making space for you to share on the FB page.}

2.) The monthly newsletter previously known as avent*ure will now be known as HomeFries.

I’ve really struggled with the newsletter, friends.  If you’re a subscriber to the newsletter, then you know that. I’ve not sent one out in 3 months. I’ve spent the last several weeks praying through all the whys of the newsletter, trying to figure out what I wanted the newsletter to be and what I wanted it to say. And I’ve concluded that I want the newsletter to be more of my innermost heart things, the things that I don’t want published on the blog for anyone to be able to Google and find. I want it to be a place where I share about the ministry happenings on my street. I want it to be a place where I encourage you to live small and love big in your own places. I want it to be the place where I give you a more intimate glimpse into our home and how God is moving our hearts to live with more brave hospitality.  And I want it to be the one thing you get in your inbox that you sit down and savor- not because I’m a special human being, but because the words found in the newsletter point you to Jesus and inspire you to live differently. I desire for you to love your people and your place and I desire for you to make much of Jesus.  {Name change will take place next week.}

If you’d like to subscribe, you can do so here. The next newsletter is due to arrive in your inbox on January 15.

slowsabbath10415

3.) I’m joining the community over at the 365 Project and taking a picture, everyday, for this entire year.

And you’re invited to play along.

It’s easy, fun, and a great way to capture your year, one photo at a time. I’m posting over on Instagram daily  and once a week on FB. My friend Becca takes gorgeous pictures and after she took the challenge last year, I was inspired to join in for 2015. She added the date and a tag line to each of her photos, which I may do, just to organize them into an album. Picmonkey is a great resource if you want to take pics on your real camera {meaning not your phone} and add a text later. I use Picmonkey weekly.  Use the hashtag 365Project.

4.) Since we’re a community, I’d love to see your faces.

If you’re on Instagram and I’m not following you, leave me your username and I’ll find you. I’d love to put faces with your names. Also, as you live on mission by loving your neighbor, I’d love for you to use the hashtag #LiveSmallLoveBig or #NeighborsLovingNeighborsIsMyFavorite- that will make it easy for us to find each other online. Think online community of people quietly spurring others on to do likewise. And think FUN. Because living on community together is fun. {Yay!}

5.) Feed A Neighbor is taking on a life of its own.

I could write you a small book about Feed a Neighbor, but I won’t. I’ll just give you a heads up that Heather Ritchie of Heathers Letters is designing us a tee with Neighbors Loving Neighbors Is My Favorite on it! All proceeds from each sale of a shirt will fund Feed A Neighbor as well as other small things to benefit our community. Right now, we’re praying through an organic community garden for the spring that will feed our neighborhood as well as give our neighbors an opportunity to get their hands dirty. So stay tuned. I’m over the moon about this project.

Your turn~ What are you over the moon about right now?

Psst…don’t forget to leave me your Instagram username. Please?

 Happy Day friends! Thanks for hanging out til the end.

me

Happy New Year {One Word Reveal}

July 2014 collageHappy Happy New Year, friends!

I hope that your holiday season has been one filled with messy love, side-splitting laughter, and moments of big dreaming with your people. I hope you stayed up too late and slept in even later and I hope you spent long hours round the table with the people who know you most and love you best.

And I hope you lived the thrill of Christ’s coming in your soul and woke this morning to let yourself feel the thrill of the new year.

January whispers hope, too, if you’re postured to hear it.

The source of the hope is still Jesus. But while Advent whispers {Hope is coming. Wait.}, January whispers {Hope is here. Walk with Him.}.

January whispers hope to my soul and my prayer is that you are postured to hear it in your own soul too.

DSC_0296On Tuesday, I pulled out all of my old journals and checked the stats on the blog and looked for the common threads between what I write, what you read, and the things you say back to me after reading. We’re in community together and so when you speak, I listen. After all the digging,  I listed the 20 Things I learned in 2014.  {If you’ve never done this sort of thing, I encourage you to do so. It’s an intentional and tangible way to see the hand of Jesus in your life.}

And because God is good and sovereign and in every small detail of our lives, the list of things I learned in 2014  affirmed the word I felt God was giving me for 2015. 

I need to pause here and tell you that from September to October, my soul began to rest on the word Kingdom. It showed up in my writing and in my thinking and in my reading. I began to flesh out what Christ’s kingdom looked like here in my home and in my neighborhood and how I felt moved to join Him in what He was building. And with the closing of our struggling church plant, we, the man and I, began to see that God had been building His kingdom right on our street and we were missing it.

By the end of November, I knew my word for 2015 would not be Kingdom. It would be HOME.

HOME 3oneword

This morning, as I close myself off in my bedroom, still in my pjs, I let my eyes fall on the street in front of my house.

I let my gaze linger on the man shuffling down the sidewalk and I notice the way the morning light rests on the brim of his hat.

And one word comes to mind:

Home.

 

On Monday, I will be sharing a State of the Blog post where I give you more than just a glimpse into what God is doing in my soul, in my home and in my neighborhood.  I will also be letting you in on some of the changes coming because some of those changes will include changes to this blog. {yay!} And some of the changes will include making space for you to have a voice here. You people are doing small things in your own places and I want to make a place for you to share what you’re doing.

But for today, if you’ve decided on your word of the year, please tell us in the comments! I’m going to compile our words into something for next week. You have until Monday to let me know what word God has given you. Can’t wait to see how God is moving in this community.

Love Doing Life With You People~

me