Friday, October 4, 2019

Amazing Grace

I should be writing a paper, but instead I'm blogging. Typical.

We've had Baby K for 5 weeks yesterday-- which means she's 6 weeks old today. Crazy. Time is flying.  We have a heavier lump to carry around now. She's fattening up from 5 lbs 7oz (the day we got her) to right around 10 lbs now.

She eats. She sleeps. She poops. She cries. She refuses to sleep when she's clearly exhausted. She stares at us with wide eyes and I can't help but wonder if she's actually looking at me or looking into a blurry abyss. She's really cute. I'm thankful for that, especially on her fussy afternoons.

We're tired.
Our words are little sharper. Our patience a little less abounding. But, we're making it.
I'd like to think if I had 9 months to prepare for a newborn joining our family that we would have a little more figured out by now. Like, what we'll do about childcare. Or our jobs. Or school. Or our social life (what's that?).

It feels like a lot sometimes. But, lots of times, it just kind of feels normal. Why not get a stork-delivered baby dropped in your lap and just figure it all out on the fly? (If storks were real, I bet it would feel a lot like this).

I get a lot of my steps inside now instead of on the walk to the office. My left arm is getting stronger as I'm figuring out how to be an ambidextrous baby-holder. It's insane how she can sleep for hours...and then cry for hours. The dietician at the WIC office told us this week that with babies, "...nothing is normal".  Great.

The other night I was walking, rocking, swaying, singing baby girl to sleep (anything that might work), and found myself digging up some old songs from the recesses of my mind (Waterdeep, anyone?). One of the oldies was straight from Isaiah 43:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you...
And the waves, they will not overcome you.  
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name, you are Mine.   
For I am the Lord, your God
For I am the Holy One of Israel
Your savior  
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you...
It's one of those moments where the Lord quietly reminds me that this fussy baby isn't mine... but His.  One of those moments where I'm tearing up in a dark room remembering the Lord's goodness, His faithfulness, and how He redeems even the darkest of nights. One of those moments where I remember my place in the grand scheme of all of this. I'm a steward of this life. What an honor. Will you pray that I remember that?

Many days later, I'm shedding tears for a different reason. Maybe it's exhaustion. But mostly I'm so frustrated at my inability to be like Jesus. Impatient, quickly frustrated, accusatory...broken. I imagine all of you parents are laughing right now as we experience this depravity of the soul for the first time. You know this song.

But man. How much I'm reminded that I need grace.
I told my small group last night that I still have the tendency toward self-righteousness... but having Baby K reminds me just how sinful I can be. Oh, amazing can it be? Jesus is really, really good. To love me, to want me, to take me in... when I am such a fussy little baby. Isn't it ironic?

Kel and I just celebrated our 5-year anniversary last weekend, too. We had, what I'm calling, an "Awkward Anniversary" gathering. We invited friends and family in... and asked them to challenge us with things they have seen in our marriage that need to be refined, to encourage us with things that embody Christ, to hold us accountable to our vows and the things we want to improve on, to pray for us. But mostly, to remind us that we can't do anything of that without first running to the Lord.

How hard we try to be all the things we think we're supposed to be and all the things we want to be without first going to Him... as if we could muster up any of it on our own.

Having a baby has been awesome (really, truly).
Easy? No.
As hard as I thought it would be? No.
We love her a lot (probably a whole lot more than we are frustrated with her).

Would you pray that every day we have her that we could be like Jesus to her?
To extend grace upon grace, to love selflessly, to serve joyfully... even when she's a fussy little baby.
Pray that we remember that our time with her might be so limited, to embrace the moments we have left, no matter how few they may be. If there were ever a time to live in the present, it is now... for we really do not know what tomorrow may bring. Pray that we would be stewards of this baby girl, and remember to Whom she truly belongs.

We have continually been blown away by the generosity of people during this season. Strangers, even. God takes care of our every possible need. Amazing can it be?

Thanks for loving us.

Your entries will remain anonymous 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Whirlwind

It's been a whirlwind.

Like a...get a text at 6:30 in the morning and come home with a week-old baby 8 hours later type of whirlwind. 

It was last Thursday, and I was gearing up to leave on Saturday for another 3.5 week trip out to California to help with my brother's family. 

I tapped Kel to wake him up. "Kel...". 
"I know, I know, it's time to get up." 
"No... listen to the text we just got." 
I am sorry to be texting you so early but we have a 10 month old child that we have been unable to find placement for- it is a boy, and we also have a newborn baby girl that will released from the hospital today. I was wondering if you all would be interested in placement of one of these babies? 
Imagine our surprise to find out that we were actually officially licensed and certified foster parents in this way!

I don't know if you can ever really prepare for this type of moment and the things that you'll think, or the feelings that you'll have. My immediate reaction was that it felt impossible. We had committed to be there for my family during my niece's leukemia treatments.  How could we possibly take in a foster child? Truthfully, it had been so long since we had heard anything, I had personally taken it off the table as a possibility. It was starting to feel like we were weren't ever "supposed" to have kids.

But here we were - faced with some choices.
So we (...I mean I...) freaked out. We prayed. And then we went to work.

We felt like we needed to see if we could make it work out, so we told the placement worker we were interested in the newborn and that we were going to try to adjust some stuff (since Kel was also supposed to be traveling the following week).

My family was the most gracious and excited. When I called my sister-in-law to see what she thought, she reminded me that Berit's treatment had been deescalated to standard risk instead of very high risk, and it felt like the Lord's timing that we had just received that news a few days prior this unexpected text. They weren't even sure they would need someone there full-time.

So we kept moving forward.
Text after text, a knot growing in the pit of my stomach-- angsty about the unknowns and the possibilities.

We drove into town that afternoon to pick up a few baby things from the county that they were able to provide us (a bassinet, a boppy, some size 1 diapers...). We ate lunch at Chick-Fil-A. We drove to Target, to get a car seat... and some newborn diapers, wipes, a cat litter box (the essentials). We waited in Target, cart packed and ready to check-out... waiting for the text that told us that it was time to pick her up (and IF it was time to pick her up-- it was only 98% likely to happen).

We got the text.
We checked out.
We struggled through putting the car seat in correctly in the Target parking lot (which took far longer than we anticipated).

She was a lot smaller than I could have ever imagined:  5 lbs 7 oz - no idea how long. Healthy. Helpless. Ours... at least for a little while.

Before we knew it, we were driving home with the tiniest of humans on board.

We have had five nights with Baby K.
We've learned about diapers and Butt Paste.
We've learned how to stick tiny appendages through tiny sleeves.
We've learned about sleepless nights and constant worry that we've probably done something wrong.
We've learned about laundry needing to be done every single day.

We've learned that we are surrounded by family and friends who are generous, kind, and so willing to help us out during this crazy time. Within hours, we had baby girl clothes on our counter, baby swings in our living room, swaddles in our arms. We were given baby bathtubs, burp cloths, nose suckers, tiny gloves and socks, bottles. A meal train was set-up for us and we have eaten like royalty without having to prepare a thing. We have been so, so humbled by our community.

Kel's parents made a last minute Labor Day weekend trip to meet Baby K. Lee Lee taught us how to  keep her clean. B worked hard on our chicken coop (because yes, chickens...). They held this new baby like she was their own granddaughter, loving her as such until she is not.

We have talked and FaceTimed with my family often. Sweet Berit loves to see Baby K, encouraging her use of the binky. We have heard from countless friends who are excited and supporting us in this endeavor, whatever it may bring. 

What a beautiful picture of the Gospel.
A beautiful picture of giving and sharing with one another when they are need.

We literally had nothing prepared for an infant.
Now, I can barely think of anything else we could need.

We don't know what the future holds for us and Baby K-- or how long we might have her. But we know that we love her a lot and are thankful for the time that we do get with her. Pray that we would be good stewards of this little one that has been entrusted to us during this season. That we would love her well, that we would keep her safe, that her future would be one filled with hope and joy.

Pray also for Kel and I as we figure out the balance between newborn life, full-time jobs, and both of us being in school (not to mention tending of the Beal farm). Pray that we would trust the Lord in His timing, in His ways, and in His goodness.

It's been a whirlwind... but the best kind of whirlwind.

(Also- this is NO surprise, but my husband makes the best daddy).

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Showing Up

I've been living in Cupertino, California for the last 4 weeks.
Because life never turns out the way you think it will.

If you had told me a year ago that Kel and I would have legitimately contemplated moving to Costa Rica, that I would be working a job in Human Resources, and that my two-year-old niece would be diagnosed with leukemia... I probably wouldn't have believed you.

But, here we are. Another year under our belt and a whole new set of challenges before us.

The last several months have felt like a "stripping down". A getting rid of the excess. Of having to set aside the things that just don't matter as much. A necessary living out of Colossians 3 (and if you've talked to me in the last few months, I may have already told how this passage has been rocking my world). Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

It all started when our full-time staff was encouraged to fast for 40 days from something as we prayed through some organizational changes. Because of some of the books I had been assigned to read from seminary, I was readily aware of how social media was impacting me in negative ways and so I chose to give it up for a while.

This was the beginning of learning more tangibly what it means to show up.
It meant that I was no longer on my phone swiping or scrolling to see what was going on in someone else's life halfway across the country that I hadn't talked to in a decade. Instead, I was present with the people physically in front of me. Instead of only taking pictures because of how "post-worthy" they might be, I was taking them for my own personal enjoyment or to send to one or two people. Instead of being on my phone because there was nothing else to do, I was showing up in my own thoughts, forcing myself to deal with the silence. Instead of judging a neighbor because of something they said or posted on social media, I learned how to love them in person because I have to take the time to actually know them and not just assume that I already do.

While the 40 days passed months ago, I am still an infrequent visitor to any social media platform. The changes that giving up the habit have caused in my life have been so rewarding, it is hard to imagine going back.

Not too long after, I felt that there was something else I needed to give up that I had been avoiding for a long time. Every time the thought surfaced, I didn't want to acknowledge the harm it was causing in my life and I justified its existence. The truth is, I think that sometimes our habits turn into addictions and oftentimes, these addictions become so acceptable in society. My addiction? Binge-watching TV shows. In a lot of ways, it felt like my reward after a long week of school and work. I justified hours of episode after episode because it wasn't my "norm". It was a way to disengage with my reality. A way to calm my restless mind from thinking about all the things going on, without actually dealing with those things.

I had felt this prodding before-- the demand to give it up. And, every time, I had talked myself out of it. It felt too hard. Which, I know, sounds silly. Mostly I just didn't want to. But I knew that sometimes I was anxious to get home from somewhere so I could escape into an alternative universe for an hour or two before bed. I knew that sometimes it could too easily become a way for Kel and I to co-exist, without actually engaging in conversation with one another. I knew sometimes that I was avoiding time (or drastically reducing) with the Lord because the weekend only has a limited number of hours in it and, if I'm being honest, Netflix got far more of those hours than Jesus ever did.

So, I quit. Because I wanted to be different than that. I wanted to show up for people. I wanted to show up for Jesus, for my husband, for the people in my life. I didn't want to leave early because I really wanted to watch something. In fact, my priorities were all wrong. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. The verse continually pounds into my brain. Put on compassionate, kind, humble, meek, patient hearts. Forgive, put on love. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly... 

Cold turkey, I stopped watching TV shows, right in the middle of a season.
Because suddenly, they didn't matter. I didn't want to look back and consider the hours and hours (and days and weeks) that I had spent thinking about and caring about fictional characters' lives. I wanted to care about the real lives of the real people around me. To care about real souls. To show up.

I went most of the summer without watching TV, and have yet to enter back into a place where I feel like I should (or want to) watch shows on my personal device, alone.

The craziest part about all of it was that I never really missed it.
I had gained back time. And space. And conversation. And probably some sleep.

I was learning how to show up again with Jesus. The quiet space, where I might normally have thrown on a show while I cooked, or cleaned the house, forced me to be more present with where I was really at, and what I was really going through. I pray more. Listen to music more. Exist in silence more. I tended to the new plants, the chickens, the dogs, the cat.

I show up more.
For the Lord, for others, for myself.

Don't misunderstand: I'm not saying that social media or TV shows are bad or wrong. I know there are so many benefits for social media and the connectivity we have through it. I know that I have missed big life events of people I legitimately care about because I am not perusing these platforms daily (text me, if that's you!). I just know that right now, in this season, being more removed from it allows me to be more fully present with those I am physically with. And, I have not been legalistic about television shows and also believe this can be a communal, fun, enjoyable thing to do with others. What I am actively staying away from currently is the binge-watching, by myself activity that can become entirely too addicting for me as I get carried away in a new storyline and new characters.

Not long after all of these decisions were made, we found out that my 2-year-old niece, Berit, has leukemia. After a lot of conversation and prayer, Kel and I felt like I should come to California to help my brother and sister-in-law out while they navigate living in a completely new area (they just moved from Florida a few weeks ago) and figuring out what treatment will look like for Berit. They need someone to watch Alta, their 4-year-old, while they are at the hospital a few times each week, and while my brother gets his new job figured out.

My new HR job allows me to work remotely and camp has been so, so incredibly gracious in allowing me to do so. In a lot ways, the saddest parts to me about coming to CA for an extended period of time was not being able to see how all of my time with the plants and the chickens would pan out. And not getting to see Archie, our new kitten, grow into a cat. And, once again, the verses pounded within: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Show up for people.
In even the silliest ways, I had shifted my TV-watching addictions into a more "fruitful" activity-- watching and tending to things as they grow. But, even this, I was reminded, doesn't really matter. It doesn't have eternal significance.

So I left on July 13 for California.
I will get to see my husband again on August 13- it's the longest we have been a part. At this juncture, I am planning to be in California for most of the fall, minus 5.5 weeks total (where I'll be back at camp and with my husband!).

At every turn, I'm learning more about what it means to show up.
Learning more about what it means to be stripped of the things that don't matter, and to consider how I let the things that do matter become a priority. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. It's like the Lord is saying:

Show up, Debbie.
Show up, in even the littlest ways.
Show up for people.
Show up for Me.
Press into the hard things.
Seek Me, and find Me.
Don't forsake your True Love.
Don't let the opinions of others matter, it is I whom you should please. 

Will I give up all things for the sake of knowing Christ?

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. 
- Philippians 3:7-8-

I have so much yet to learn... 
But I know that taking steps towards the abandoning of anything that gets in the way of Christ (even the things that can seem good), teaches me more about His goodness, His love, and the indescribable ways that the Triune God shows up for us. 

(Also- I can't even begin to describe the joy it has been to be a regular part of my nieces' lives, as well as getting to spend ample time with my brother and sister-in-law. It's like God knows the things our souls actually need, or something...). 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, June 3, 2019

Let Them Come In

I met her about a year ago.

We were serving together at a homeless shelter. As we talked, I began to piece together that her and I were pretty different. She wasn't just coming to serve because it seemed like the right thing to do. This place, in fact, was her current home. She was serving her friends and her roommates, some that she interacted with on a daily basis. I was serving strangers that I might see once a month, if I made the time for it.

I saw her at church a few times after that.
I tried to make it a point to talk to her each time.
When it was time for our church to serve again at the homeless shelter, she apologetically told me that she wasn't going to help serve because last time she hadn't gotten a chance to eat.

Months went by without seeing her. I would often wonder where she was and how she was doing.

But then, in January, she came back to church. I began talking to her before the service started, but we were quickly interrupted by the music beginning. I found my way to my husband, with a ludicrous thought bubbling up from within. Kel, I whispered. I think we need to invite her to live with us. He graciously nodded his approval and the second the benediction ended, I scurried over to her. I hadn't thought through much about what words were coming out of my mouth or how I ought to say them, but I found myself asking questions and eventually inviting this woman into our home.

I never saw her again.
We went to Costa Rica, came back, got busy with work and school, went to church, served at the homeless shelter...and she wasn't anywhere.

On May 5th, she reappeared at church. We pulled up into the parking lot and saw her immediately. We hugged and throughout the course of the morning (before and after the service), we had ample time to talk. She was still at the homeless shelter, still not able to find a job... but she was interested in coming out to our community group on Monday nights. I told her she could stay the night afterward, if she needed a place. We drew her a map and wondered if we'd see her again.

On May 6th, she appeared at our house.
On May 29th, she left.

There's been a vacancy since she left that I'm not quite sure how to describe.
I learned a lot in those 3+ weeks of having a stranger live in our home.
I learned a lot about generosity. Not just with our things or our money... but with my time. With my ears. With my space. I learned that maybe those things aren't really mine at all.

I learned that I can't control outcomes, or people, or that maybe what I think is best is not actually was is best. I learned about letting go, about trusting, about simply not knowing.

I learned that sometimes when I think I'm the one who is supposed to be giving or offering...that maybe I'm supposed to be receiving. That maybe the Lord wanted me to learn from her much more than He wanted her to learn from me. I learned the beauty of listening, of paying attention, of being present...even when I had a million other things that I would have rather been doing.

It's been a lesson on getting over self.
Of recognizing pride.
Of walking faithfully, even when I don't know what that actually accomplishes.
Of opening our home, even when we don't know the outcome (or even the person).
Of redefining "ours" and "mine"... and learning how to replace those pronouns with "His".

I don't know who the Lord might bring into our lives next, but I do know that I am more convinced than ever that my job is to let them come in. Into "our" home, into "our" space and allow them to take up "our" time, and eat "our" food and use "our" things. To let them come into our lives. And to do what we can to love them, no matter how long or how short that season may be.

In a world that is pressing more than ever for us to take care of "our"selves, I'm quite convinced that Biblically we are called to do quite the opposite. To consider others as better than ourselves (Phil 2), to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12), to bandage up wounds and to take care of others--even those whom we might despise, or might be completely opposite of us (Luke 10).

I don't know where my new friend will go or if I will ever see her or hear from her again. I don't know if her short stay in our home did anything positive for her or made any sort of lasting impact in her life.

But I do know that it has affected me.
And I think God is ironic in that way. Reminding me that I know so little and have so much to learn. Reminding me that He is King of my whole life, not just some aspects of it. Reminding me that He is God...and that He brings about growth and change in His timing and in His way.

"Our" home feels more open now. Less like it's mine to control or protect. More like it's His to bring in whomever He will, for however long He will.

And it's hard.
And sad.
And heartbreaking.

But it's good. Worth it.
A reminder that this life is meant to be lived not for my glory or my benefit... but for His.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Why Me?

Why me? 

It's a question I have asked a lot in my life.

Sometimes, the question is in response to the hard things.

Sometimes, the question beckons a different type of answer. Too many times in my life, I have felt like I needed to know the answer because the answer held the secret to all my security.

Why do you like me?
The voice of a 4th grade Debbie asks her admirer.
The answer speaks value to my little blonde self. Because I'm pretty. Or smart. Or fun. These become the critical components of likability. These are the answers I need to know...because I need to know how to do more/be more of these characteristics so more people will like me.

Why do you want to date me?
This is the voice of high school Debbie. I know now that puberty has changed me and looks only go so far. Because you love the Lord. Because you're the type of girl I would want to marry. Because you have faith. My legalistic heart checks these off the list. Do more things like this, and more people will like you.

Why me? 
It's a question I have asked a lot in my life. Sometimes audibly. Sometimes in the deepest places of my heart. It's a question that points to my insecurities, my fears, and my worries. It's a question that's hidden motive is more about wondering if I'm actually enough or how much the person in front of me really wants me.

I had the privilege of getting to stare at this painting in the chapel of Gordon-Conwell's Charlotte campus the other morning.

The Parable of the Sower, at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Painted by artist Gerald Steinmeyer. 

As I stared, this haunted question of my past resurfaced again. 

Why me, Lord

Because as I gazed at everything going on in this painting-- the one thing that captivated me most about it is that Jesus is coming for me. Out of His world and into mine. Coming, because of a great love. The Greatest Love. 

Why do you love me
This is the pleading voice of 34-year-old Debbie who often seems to think she has life figured out. But sometimes, in the deepest places of her heart...she knows the truth. She knows that she is weak and broken. She knows that she is tired and desperate. She knows that she is not enough. 

The answer to this question feels weighty.
But the answer to this question is also simple. 

Because I do

There's this part of my soul that wants the Lord to affirm why He loves me. To commend my faithfulness, my willingness, my obedience. To lift up my efforts to be a "good" Christian, to be one in which He is well-pleased. 

But in the quiet moments of this chapel, the Lord reminds me that none of that actually matters. He loves me the same, no matter what I do or don't do. No matter what I look like or how I dress. Even when I say the wrong thing at the wrong time or when I play my part perfectly. I cannot earn it. 

The Lord doesn't give me the answer I hope for, but His answer is better. It always is it. 

It's an answer that simultaneously puts me in my place while also restoring my identity in Him. He will not give me the false praises and accolades that we so often seek from men. But He will remind me that He loves me because I am His. He will remind me that that is enough. 

He has come for me. 
I don't have to question it.
I don't have to even understand it. 

He loves me. 
I just get to live in the certainty of that. 
The certainty of knowing that while I was a sinner, Jesus Christ came to save me. Through nothing that I have done, I am His. 

It truly is amazing grace
That saved a wretch like me... 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Saving Face

Some of the most ludicrous fights I have are with myself. 

They are these crazy battles of the mind, where I want so desperately to be right, to be justified, to defend my honor. These are the pre-fights I often have when I am in conflict with someone else. The moment someone offends me, or accuses me, or bruises my ego.... I'm immediately in the throes of an inner battle. 

I don't mean to, but it's where I automatically go. 
I'm quickly trying to prove my point to myself, to rationalize my behavior, to make sure that my course of thought is logical. I think through the argument at every angle, certain that despite whichever vantage point you approach the situation from, you will find me in the right

The situation could be with my husband, or with a co-worker, sibling, friend, or someone I barely know. But before I can have the conversation with them, I need to rationalize my position internally first. 

Save Face, Debbie

My inner pride goads me on. It cheers for me to win, to keep up the appearance of happy, good, intelligent, logical, able to juggle a million things without dropping one ball... dare I say... perfection?

Last night, I was in the middle of one of these internal battles. I had just received an email that caused me to feel slightly wronged and very much entitled. My mind, within seconds, had already collected a list of the reasons why I was in the right and why I also was deserving. I was ready to go to bat in my defense. 

But something slowed me. 
What if you're wrong, Debbie?  

It's a baffling thought, I know. Me... wrong? 
The thought kept prodding at me. And so I did my usual subconscious pre-work-- proving my point to myself, considering the situation from other perspectives, seeking to use logical discourse to make sure I wasn't too emotionally charged.  

I was in the clear. All good. I felt reasonably sound in my defense.

But the thought came again, only this time it felt different. 
You don't have to anything to prove

But... I do, I argued back. I have to prove that I am right. I have to prove that I deserve this. I have to prove that I didn't screw up. 

These are the moments that the internal arguments feel the most insane. These are the wars that are waged between flesh and spirit, sometimes over the most minute things. Sometimes these moments feel like the truest pulses of our humanity clashing with this newness that the Lord is longing to cloak us in. 

In some ways, I felt like I was finger jousting with someone-- pointing away from myself and doing everything I can to make sure my finger doesn't get turned around to point the blame back at me. But I'm not always strong enough--sometimes it feels like my opponent is winning, and other times I gain my strength and momentum for another burst of energy. It's a back and forth until one of us concedes. 

But, then I realize that this exactly what the Lord is asking me to do-- to point my finger at myself, to concede. To stop fighting to prove how right I am, and consider how wrong I might actually be. Wrong and defenseless, instead of right and defensive. 

It's a call to forget saving face, and consider my own need to be saved by grace. 
A reminder that I need the Lord and my response ought not to so quickly be about keeping up appearances and defending my "honor". It's a call to surrender. To let go. To give up. To take the blame. To look at the log in my own eye, instead of the self-righteous tendency to examine the speck in another's. 

It's a call to be reminded of the Gospel. 
That literally all the time I need to remember who God is and what He has done. That's something I get to stand in awe of instead of so desperately trying to prove who I am and what I have done. 

It's a shift of perspective. 
A necessary moment that forces me to take my eyes off of me. 

This too shall pass

There is this undeserved promise for me that is always waiting for me as I am urged to look at the Promise Giver, as I am urged to let go of the petty entitlement that I too easily cling to. 

There's a freedom that is found when I surrender the jousting. The struggle stops. The conceding brings an internal peace. 

The shift in my gaze changes everything

Suddenly the fight seems ludicrous and I am ashamed to admit the passion in which fought so hard for something so fleeting. 

There's something bigger at hand. There is Someone bigger wanting our attention. 

I'm learning.
Every day.... still learning. 

May He become greater, and I become less. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, March 11, 2019

All In

There are certainly seasons of life where the DFW airport feels a bit like home. In and out. Stay for a meal or two.

I'm currently on my way to North Carolina for 10 days. Attending some classes for (hopefully) the last time. While sitting in class all day certainly isn't cause for giddy excitement, I am always thankful for the opportunity. To learn. And to be reminded that there are countless individuals across the country who are like-minded in their desire to see God's Kingdom grow.

I read something the other day that felt profound. “[Christian worship] marks us out as and trains us to be a peculiar people who are citizens of another city and subjects of a coming King” (Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith).

Peculiar people.
Citizens of another city.
Subjects of a coming King.

I love that.

I love being reminded of that as I sit in trendy DFW wearing would-be joggers, tennis shoes and sporting my frizzy hair and make-up-less face. Peculiar. A citizen of a city that is not in this country. A servant to the King.

What a relief.

Life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately. We got back from Costa Rica and tried to catch up on all that we had missed. In some ways, leaving the farm feels like it happened years ago. Just a few days after our return we bought 12 chicks. And I took a new job (at camp). I actually start tomorrow-- while I'm in class. It's pretty fitting for my life.

When we realized Costa Rica wasn't for us, I felt like I had to do some deep soul-searching. A part of me was hoping that we would go and realize that this was our calling. Most of me knew that wasn't going to be our reality. But, when our answer was a clear no, that left me wondering: what does that mean for me? It had been 6 months of not really knowing where I belonged and I was beginning to question what I was even good at. What could I possibly have to offer?

These are the lies we believe in some of the darkest of nights.
These are the words that too quickly become our reality.
In just a moment, the thief steals, kills, and destroys. And we let him.

I'm ashamed to admit that I spent too much of my 3.5 weeks in Costa Rica halfheartedly battling the attacks. I felt like the things I was most passionate about were the very things that I believed I was worst at. Insecurity rose in my throat often, fear gripped the corners of my eyes. Tears threatened my conversations and I found myself retreating to a place that is all too familiar. A place of self-sabotage. It's easier to believe that I can't do anything than to believe that I might be able to and then fail.

Today I am reminded that any talent I have been given isn't mine to hoard or to waste. It isn't mine to determine where, or when, or how it ought to be used. It is only mine to steward wisely, to hold loosely, and to trust freely. 

We started the New Year off with a Dunk Tank.
It was a symbolic gesture to communicate that we were all in. 

Willing to take a plunge into unknown territory, to devote ourselves to the leading and teaching and training up of our staff to being disciples of Jesus Christ. Willing to do something crazy (and potentially stupid, since it was dead winter and the water sure wasn't warm). Willing to do something with others who aren't afraid to take the same risks.

These are just a few reasons that I have loved working at camp. 

And so, as I step into new role, I'm all in

All in, despite my fears of failure or inadequacy... I'm reminded over and over again that I am a part of a ministry that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this, there doesn't need to be fear, or worry, or failure. There only needs to be the constant reminder to lean into Jesus. To trust Him in all my brokenness, that He is sufficient. That He is the the King whom I serve with delight. 

I get to live all in because of what He has done. 

May I not forget it.
May I be the most peculiar of the people, a citizen of a world that is not the one in which I physically dwell, a subject of The King. And may the way we live radically transform the world in which we do reside. May we bring hope. And joy. And peace. And light.

May we be all in.
No matter where we are, or what we do... because of what He has done for us. 

Because, together, we serve The King.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  
--Revelation 7:9-10--

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rough Around the Edges

Kel said the other day... "If I were writing a blog about Costa Rica I would title it: When I was called Cal, the Man, Cow, Kyel, and sometimes Kel for three weeks".

"Poling" Across the River
Apparently "Kel" is a really hard name to say in the Spanish language. And sometimes even in the English language. 

It's been a week. 
A week where I can be perfectly content and at peace with my surroundings and circumstances and then ten minutes later be looking up what it would cost to change our flight to come home earlier. I'm ashamed by my lack of patience and the amount of pride I can have (sometimes over the smallest things). I'm ashamed by how selfish I can be. 

We came here to know if moving here was our calling. But we also came to serve. And we have definitely done that, but perhaps not in the ways I would have imagined. Our interaction with locals has been limited and our service has been primarily in farm work. We have also helped organize and assemble Bible lessons for children in schools along the river. And, after "poling" across the river on Thursday, we were able to go to a school and be a part of one of these hour-long programs.

At the School
I am convinced that the work being done here matters. The woman (who is close to 80) we are working with has been sharing the Gospel with the people who live along the river for the last 27 years. Churches exist because of her willingness to go. And these schools invite her to come and share. To sing songs that might stick with them for a lifetime. To teach them about the Bible through story and craft. It's actually really incredible. I wish that we were more geared toward young children or farming, but our strengths and passions are not the things that are needed here. 

And, as with probably many mission opportunities, this life is hard. It is without the comforts of running water, or air condition, or any kind of food you want whenever you want it. It is without recliners and televisions and a certain standard of cleanliness. It is without mirrors and bug spray (although those could easily be remedied). 

The Toucans we see daily
But- it's mostly hard because people can be hard to work with. They can be hard to understand. They can be hard to see eye-to-eye with. They can be hard to respect. They can be hard to talk to or listen to. They can be hard to not get frustrated with. They can be hard to trust. Granted, this is the challenge that is universal. It happens no matter where we go or what ministry we might find ourselves working in. People are different from us and they do things differently than us and, in that, we often find ourselves in conflict. 

These are the moments where I believe the Lord is refining us. The moments where I have to beg that the Lord would give me patience...and that I would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. But there are also moments where I have to discern when (and how) to speak up. Moments where I have an opportunity, as the Spirit leads, to say something to someone that maybe no one else has been willing to. Moments that refine us because none of us are perfect and we all have blind spots. We need each other to grow in our weaknesses. But sometimes we're too quiet. Sometimes we're too scared. Sometimes we don't think it's our place. 

I'm learning to appreciate being rough around the edges. Because, even though I can spot the flaws easily, there's something continually beautiful to me about being a work in progress. A work that has to point to God working through us because we are too imperfect for us to have done any of it without Him. It's a life that points to Jesus... because there's really no other explanation for the work that gets done. 

I get to experience that in Costa Rica. But I also get to experience that in America. We need Jesus. No matter where we are. 

I hate that I forget that sometimes. 

Someday I'll write about the supposed murderer we were living next to, or the time our boat almost flipped, or all the other moments of crazy we have encountered. Someday, but not today. 

Sunrise on the River!
Today I'm thankful for new mercies every morning.
For a grace that covers me, even when I am the ugliest of humans in my heart. 
For a bed to sleep in and plenty of food to eat.
For the hospitality and generosity of a woman who loves the Lord and is doing her best to give her life to Him. 
For a husband who continually amazes me and is willing to count my 100 bug bites for me. 
For new friends who patiently help me learn Spanish so we can communicate. 
For all the new knowledge we have gained about life on the farm and along the river. 
For internet that allows me to connect to family, friends, work, and school. 
For funny little animals that we have gotten to take care of. 

It's a good life.
A hard life. 
But a life where God is moving and working. 

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Wish You Were Here

I wish you all could be here.

I wish you all could experience the cockroach that's underneath our bed. Or the giant frog that comes out at night in the kitchen...but you only catch sight of him moving out of the corner of your eye and you're sure, instead of a frog, that there are snakes or roaches or alligators that are going to eat you. Or the thousands of chigger bites that you try to soothe with Vicks vapor rub or some homemade substance that smells of sulfur but you'll try just about anything at this point.

I wish you could experience the dogs barking in the middle of the night, alerting you to a newly captured raccoon, or a wandering heifer that you'll have to herd back to its pasture while rubbing the sleepies out of your eyes.

I wish you could experience Eduardo, the duck (who we forgot to lock up last night...but he survived). Or taking the baby chicks to and fro every morning and every night as they molt and grow-- looking sweaty and ugly. I wish you could meet Judith, the new calf who wobbles around with gangly knees. I wish you could collect the eggs each afternoon with us, getting as excited as we do when we find one more day than the day before. Or, when we count the hens and discover one missing. See ya, lady hen...(we never found her).

I wish you could experience making cheese. We're basically professionals now...every day trying to perfect our craft to make more cheese with the same amount of milk. We've increased by almost 3 kilos since our first attempt (that's like 6.5 lbs!).  I wish you could cut down banana trees with us. Or feed Wheela (the baby pig) and listen to the disgusting sounds of pigs eating slop.

I wish you all could wash your hair in the sink (we're up to one wash since we got here...), or attempt to shave some portion of your legs. Or try to remember to put your toilet paper in the trash every time you pee, instead of the toilet.  Or let throwing some water on yourself at night be sufficient enough for being "clean".

Sophia, the cat, comes to every meal.
I wish you could all throw your chicken bones into the river after lunch, or feed the begging cat your scraps. I wish you all could drink maracuya juice with us, or cut down fresh papaya, or pluck a fresh pineapple from the plant between where you sleep and where you eat. 

But most of all, I wish you could be here and meet the people... because without that, there's no real picture of what our time here has been like.

It's been unpredictable. But predictable. Chicks, cheese, hens, cheese, chicks, chicks, cheese, hens, chicks. It's all the hours in-between that leave you wondering: what will today bring?

And while we've actually really enjoyed our time here and know that we COULD be here long-term, we made a decision. Neither of us feel like we SHOULD be here or that we have been called to move here. We still think we can help this ministry though, and we aim to do so.

Finding quality people who can handle the adventure and lack of comfort, but desire to share the Gospel with this part of the world? We want to help do that. We want to help find someone to manage the farm, and another person to go to the local schools and teach young kids about Jesus and, simultaneously, a little English. We want to find people who are willing to learn new things (or new languages), and bring their skills to a little ministry in Costa Rica that desperately needs it.

19 baby chicks (this is only half of them)
There's a little part of me that's sad about that. Mostly because, when someone is in need, I want to fix it. But, I'm realizing over and over again that I can't be the person who fixes any of it (nor do I always need to feel like I'm the one who has to).

It's where faith comes in. Trusting the Lord that He'll take care of His people and His ministries...and we get to be faithful where we are, excited about what opportunities are before us.

And tonight?
Tonight there's a rifle outside the door so when the dogs bark and the raccoons come... Kel has a job to do.

It's been a crazy day.
I'll tell you more about it sometime.

But, really.
I wish you could all be here.
(and maybe, someday, some of you will actually come!)

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Friday, February 1, 2019


I told Kel today that I don't have words to describe our experience in Costa Rica so far...other than just literally telling you what our life is currently like.

But even that is hard to describe.

In Costa Rica, plans are mostly impossible to make. A car breaks down, an appointment was never made, the car's tags are expired, the boat's motor gets flooded, it doesn't rain so you have no water (and therefore don't take showers for days and days), things take longer than anticipated, 17 people you're growing accustomed to living alongside leave within minutes. But somehow, through all of that, the internet has been reliable. Technology is amazing, friends.

Today we made cheese.
It wasn't supposed to happen that way.
I was going to feed the chickens and meet up with Nelson, the farmhand, so he could walk me through the process. I had sort of helped two young women two days ago make it...fumbling through Spanish to ask questions and understand what was happening, and mostly considering how to make the process more efficient.

The thing about a language barrier is that when you show up to make the cheese and Nelson never shows up (except to show you how much Caujo to add and that the cheese will be ready to make in treinta minutos) is that eventually you realize that maybe he's thinking you're making the cheese. By now it's been an hour, because you fed the chickens and the pigs and tried to knock some coconuts down (for the chickens) and walked around looking for Nelson...and so it's time to just try to mimic what I saw my new friends do a few days ago. And I wouldn't normally care about messing something like this up, but the fact that it gives the farm much-needed dollars feels a little like pressure.
our first attempt at cheese!

So, we made cheese.
And it doesn't taste half bad.

We wake up around 6:00AM.
Today Kel immediately was asked down to the river with a bucket so there would be water to flush the toilets with.  And then he went to help milk the cows, but got there in time to see one of the pigs slaughtered and taken away. I recently got assigned chicken duty-- so I put the baby chicks out each morning and make sure they have food and water all day long. They have to get fat. Fat, so they can be eaten.

There were 17 refugees here when we arrived. A family from El Salvador who had gone through some really tragic things and needed a place to stay. We became friends through pointing at objects, asking questions by using the wrong conjugations, trying out Google translate (which is actually hard because if I ask a question I didn't know how to ask, they'll usually answer the question in a way that I'll never be able to understand). They cooked El Salvadorian food for us...blended beans that you dip your fried banana into. I didn't love it. But I was thankful for their generosity and kindness. One day, the police showed up asking for passports. A few hours later, they were packing their bags, praying for us, and walking down the dirt road with rolling suitcases. I still don't really know what happened or why it happened. But, I'm thankful for them and our time together with them.

Kel getting coconuts for las gallinas (hens)
It's a little lonelier on the farm now.
(And part of why we made cheese).

But, the really pressing question is the one I don't have words for.

There's a part of my soul that could be quite content with barefeet, hairy armpits, fresh-grown fruit at my fingertips, being in the middle-of-nowhere, learning a language fluently, interacting with the local community in the various ways that this mission does--through schools, churches, business on the farm. Basically, the farm sustains the ministry.

We talk a lot about the dreams and ideas we have. Starting up a discipleship program, bringing people out to learn about hard, manual labor through farm work while also learning what it means to follow Jesus more wholeheartedly.  Continuing the sharing the Gospel in local schools, helping out local church plants, being a resource, building relationships with people internationally. So much has already happened here for the sake of the Gospel...and there's so much more that could be done.

But there are a lot of dreams we would be leaving behind. A lot of ideas that haven't come to fruition. A lot of relationships we are in the midst of. A lot of people we get to walk through life with and learn more about the Lord alongside. Foster Care. Camp ministry. Family. Community. Church. Things (and people) we are passionate about and things we believe in.

So we're here.
We made it.
We're learning about life on a farm.
We laugh a lot and sweat a lot.

Keep praying for discernment.
(and for it to rain!)
(and for us to make better cheese tomorrow!)

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Sunday, January 27, 2019


Exactly one week later and I'm back in the DFW airport.

Only this time I'm not alone.
And this time, my husband and I are heading to Costa Rica.

In a whirlwind of a week of surprises, we pushed back our trip by 5 days so I could be in Missouri to help my mom with her recovery from a broken hip. It was the right decision. And while she's on the road to rehab, we're now on our way out of the country.

I've alluded to this trip before, but haven't exactly talked about why we are going or what we are doing. It's mostly because I'm not entirely sure.

Ever since August, Kel and I have been in a place of wondering if we were where we needed to be. Events out of nowhere sent us on a quest of prayerfully considering if camp was where we were meant to be. And, in the midst of our questions, we received a "cry for help" from a longtime connection I had in Costa Rica from when I had gone in 2010:
Presently I´m teaching the Bible in 4 schools and an additional community without a school every week.  There are 5 more schools asking me to teach,  but I can´t get to more places as well as teach Bible classes to adults some 4 times a week, plus administrate the farm, and the other branches and churches we have around the river.  
It breaks my heart to have people asking me to come share the gospel and in fact I can´t get there.  
The national representative to the foundation of Las Palmas de Mamre suggested that he and I visit some mission conferences to recruit for the school of mission and for another missionary who would be able to adapt to a rugged life, to come take over some of these burdens. My problem is that I can´t be here running things as well as be up there sharing.  
The farm as also been recognized as a model organic farm and I have been sent to several trainings in organic farming as well 4 different projects on a national level.  All of this takes time and I just can´t get to everything.
We'll help.
It was our immediate reaction to the email.
Within weeks we had talked to our supervisors, families, friends, and booked tickets for four weeks to Costa Rica.

When I married Kel, one of his "things" was simple obedience. A desire to be willing to do whatever the Lord asked, whenever He asked it, with whoever needed it.  It's one of the reasons I love him...he pushes me to do what's uncomfortable and what sometimes feels seemingly impossible.

So, if the Lord were calling us to move our entire lives to help our friend in Costa Rica and the ministry that is happening there...? I believe that we would go.

Although sitting in this airport, months after all the initial excitement has waned, and my mom is recovering from hip surgery, and our jobs are filled with things we are truly passionate about, and we're in our last stages of Foster Care training... I can't help but wonder...  is this actually what's next? 

Because I want to go when I'm asked to go. 

But I also want to stay when I need to stay.

So, faithful friends...
We need your prayers.
Prayers that our hearts would be open to the Spirit's leading in our lives. I'm not convinced that there's a "right" or "wrong" decision in any of this, either. I am, however, convinced that we have been made in the image of God and that we have various giftings and passions that can be used for His glory and I want mine to be used to the fullest. So that people would know Him. So that people would follow Him with their whole lives.

Pray that we would be obedient.
Obedient in our day-to-day, as we spend the next 3.5 weeks serving in whatever capacity is asked of us. Obedient with our entire lives, with how we invest in those around us. Pray that we would not allow the lack of comforts or the unfamiliarity of culture and language to dissuade us if going is what is best. But pray that we wouldn't be swept up in the romantic notions that doing something seemingly grand for the Kingdom is better than staying with what we have known. Pray for discernment and wisdom.

I don't know what our days will look like. Traveling? Farm work? Time in the schools or Bible classes?

We will try to keep you posted often, pending our internet situation.

Above all, pray that we would be able to share Jesus with those we encounter and be a true help to those who need it. Pray that we can love well, despite the language barriers (or pray that we can miraculously remember all of our Spanish classes from high school and college). Pray that we (mostly me) wouldn't worry about all the things I cannot control back home, or at work, or with school assignments that are due every Monday... and that we could let go and really be present where we are at.

Thanks for being a community of people, near and far, who support us and love us. We couldn't do this without you.

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Monday, January 21, 2019


"Who is your hero and why?"

I feel like I had to answer this question a lot growing up--whether it was a school assignment or on an application, it seemed to cross my path often. I never really knew how to answer it. I never really felt like I had a hero. A hero (to me) implied that there was someone that I wanted to be exactly like...but I never really wanted that. At least, not in every way.

I remember putting my mom down as the answer to this question. For a long list of reasons, I felt like she was the person I most wanted to be like--even if not in every way. I have the tendency to see all the ways people are imperfect and why I actually wouldn't want to be like them, even if they have a million incredible qualities. My mom probably got the brunt of this criticism more than most. In fact, she'd be the first to tell you that I was one of the most difficult children (of four) to raise. Believe it or not, I'm stubborn. And opinionated. And strong-willed. And selfish. And direct. But for whatever reason (mostly because it was so long ago and I can't recall why) I wrote my mom into that blank almost every time.

I haven't encountered the "hero" question much lately. But, I have encountered my mom more. And, the more I get to spend time with her, the more I'd be willing to write her name down over and over again to answer this question.

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
These are the type of sentiments we tend to believe about the people who are older than us. We're convinced that people are "stuck in their ways" and "unwilling to change".

These are the exact reasons why my mom inspires me. In the last several years, I have watched my mom change. I have watched her open her mind, her heart, her life up to new people, experiences, and challenges. I have watched her love generously, give selflessly, live more uncomfortably, and wrestle with hard things.

When I grow up, I hope I'm as willing to embrace change as much as she has. I hope that I'm willing to admit that I'm wrong. I hope that I'm willing to live my life differently than I have (for maybe even decades) as I wrestle with what is true and good and how that can affect my everyday actions. I hope that I'm willing to learn "new tricks".

I wrote this a few months back, knowing I'd eventually finish it. I didn't imagine, however, finishing it in the DFW airport on my way to Missouri because my mom is in the hospital with a broken hip.

But, here we are. In the midst of the constant reminder that nothing ever goes according to our plans. A simple morning routine, one that you've done every day for years. A routine that leaves you on your back, on the ice, calling for help for an hour in twenty-degree weather. A routine that leads to surgery and a long recovery.

Life is crazy.
And unexpected.
And hard.
And, somehow in spite of all of that, still beautiful.

And my mom, my hero of a mom, fights through it all.
A kid with a heart defect who survives emergency open-heart surgery at 19.
Kid(s) who come close to abandoning their faith or marrying addicts.
The loss of her good friend.
The loss of her parents.
The loss of her first grandchild.
Breast Cancer.
And now this: a broken hip.

She asked us to pray that she would be brave.
I don't know if she realizes that this is exactly who she's been her whole life. Brave enough to be different. Brave enough to be more like Jesus. Brave enough to invite a stranger to live with them. Brave enough to fight through all the sickness, the brokenness, the death and to remember that she has purpose in the life she has left to live.

Brave enough to see the people who are serving her in her incapacitated state as people and desire to know and love them.

I get to see my mom tomorrow.
I get to watch her be brave. To face the pain. To start to recover.

Because my hero of a mom is brave.
Brave and broken.
Brave and willing.
Brave and seeking for her entire life to still reflect the image of God.

Maybe all of us have something to learn from my mom.
Maybe all of us need to be a little more brave.
A little more willing. A little more open to how our brokenness can give us opportunities to be brave.

Brave enough to fight, to speak up, to love, to open our hearts up to the things and people who are different from us. Brave enough to change. Brave enough to be Jesus in the midst of a world that hates Him (John 15:18-21). 

Pray for my mom to continue to be brave.
For her to fight through this physical recovery so that she can have more opportunities to be brave in how she pursues the Lord and loves His people.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Lots of Doors

"You're opening lots of doors!"

Lately I've been seeing our next steps through a lens of chaos and uncertainty, so the above response was generous to my soul.

So what if we're heading to Costa Rica for four weeks while also working our way through Foster Care training while also trying to do our jobs while also entering my final year of graduate school...

Lots of open doors.
I like that. Maybe I need that. Maybe it helps the crazy feeling feel a little less crazy.

I was frantically getting ready for church yesterday morning because I was, of course, running behind.  I began thinking about Foster Care and what it would look like to have a four-year-old living in our house that we would also have to get ready for church. And while that might be a perfectly normal thing for most 34-year-olds in the world, the thought hurled me into a: what are we doing moment. I don't know how to be a mom.

I decided recently that I need to react more quickly to the urgings that are pressed upon my heart. The times when I think, "I wonder how ___________ is doing-- I really ought to reach out." Or, "I should probably give that homeless man something". Or, "We should invite that couple out for lunch." 

These are the types of thoughts I think often and then, almost as soon as I think them, they are gone. I haven't actually done anything. My good intentions vanish into thin air and I'm immediately consumed by another thought that's, most likely, self-absorbed.

But what if I didn't move on?
What if I paused and sent the text message? What if I stopped the car and found a way to reach out? What if I went out of my way to extend the invite?

It's crazy how quickly I can talk myself out of doing something.
It's crazy how much my own insecurities and fears send me into the spiral of self-focus and how quickly a situation becomes about me instead of the person I was just thinking about.

I get scared that I'll be rejected. Or that I'm too much. Or that I'm not enough. Or that no one really wants (or needs) me. 

Or, that I don't know how to be a mom and have never been a mom and that I'm much too selfish to really handle bringing a child into our home. How much earlier would I have to wake up, anyway? 

They're never good reasons. Even the best-sounding ones aren't actually good. They're just selfish. Fearful of change. Fearful of the unknown. Fearful of my world not revolving around me and what I want, when I want it.

I didn't mean to make a New Year's resolution. I just meant to do something live differently. It just happened to be right around the start of 2019. It's not about being "my best self" or living my "best life". It's just about responding. Responding to the urgings to ask, to call, to text, to show up, to care, to go.  It's about not talking myself out of things, but talking myself into following through with the initial thoughts. It's about kindness and generosity and hospitality and hope. It's about letting go of me.

In some ways, this is like the "summer of yes" for me. Only, instead of saying "YES" to things people are asking me to do, I'm saying YES to (what I think is) the Holy Spirit moving me toward people.  Saying YES to getting over myself, my fears, my worries, my selfishness...and going towards others.

Saying yes to opening up more doors.
Even doors that might lead me to other countries. Or doors that involve us inviting kids in who need a safe place for a little while. Or catching up with someone from a long time ago. Or doors that remind me that God cares deeply for others and He wants me to learn to do the same, regardless of what it might cost me (after all, just look at what it cost Him).

We're opening up doors. Asking God to show us which ones to walk through.
And I'm also resolved to respond to the promptings.
To say yes.

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