part of a whole

There are all kinds of complexities about me… all these revolving parts. I dream and sing, I doubt and cry. I am a sister, a coworker, a friend. I get afraid that people, only viewing one portion of me, will be disappointed that the whole is not as beautiful or as complex or as intentional as they can see from their vantage point.

But, I’m me. I am who I am — highlight reel and pockets of shame all mashed into one whole. And I am crazy thankful for the truth that’s been shoved in my face the past few days — that my complex wholeness is ok. As long as I live, I will continue to let people down and need grace. I will be used in the kingdom and get to be a part of crazy beautiful things. Praise God.

This week a dream came true for me. A big part of me is this worship part — the part that wants to seek God’s face with His people and draw nearer to His heart. And there’s a job at my church in Worship Arts that I’ve been dreaming of for years (I’ve been doing some of it part time for a year or so but now get to do full time) that has been offered to me.

Dreams come true. Not because we’re perfect and get every pocket of our lives figured out, but because our God is good and merciful and loving and big and strange and different. And He gives good gifts to His kids. And I’m crazy thankful. It’s not going to be perfect… I’ll let people down, they’ll let me down. I’m guaranteed to still get crabby or overwhelmed, because, well… I am still me. But I get to continue to be part of a community of other broken people seeking God’s face together. I am excited.

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waiting for change

Welcome to my little world. I hope to unpack some of what I am walking, probably mostly for my sake, but maybe for yours, too.

About two weeks ago, some friends invited me into a conversation about a good friend leaving our church. It’s a great thing for him and his family, and their obedience to God’s leading has been a treat to watch. But, that rattles some things up on our end. What’s next for our church? What is God doing?  We need to trust God to lead us in what’s next. I guess if I’m honest, this news was the big shaker for me. He has been a good friend and has walked with me through many adventures of learning to lead worship. He makes fun of my clothing, rescues me for awkward musical blunders and encourages my raw, honest and sensitive pursuit of worshipping God. So…. that’s the beginning of change around me.

My sister and her husband moved to a new apartment, my boss and his wife had their fourth baby, my good friend started dating someone who is wonderful for her, a houseful of great girl friends all moved to new weird places because one of them is getting married. All this is happening around me. And none of these things are bad. No one is sick, no one is heartbroken, and it’s good.

Change is good. It means we’re growing, right? Looking more like the Lord? Following Him?

But I’m not sure I’m changing. I’m the one waiting. I’m waiting for an apartment that I can afford (with a washer & dryer maybe!), to see if anything will change with my job or if God will put someone wonderful in my life. Waiting to see what God is up to. Many of my friends and family are waiting too — I am not alone. I have friends waiting for immigration paperwork, waiting to get pregnant, waiting to hear about a short sale home, waiting to be accepted to the Marines, and much more.

God is God in the midst of change AND in the midst of waiting. He walks us through seasons of both change and waiting. I guess we just need to lean on Him and be faithful wherever He has us. We know that He’s for us, and His ways are way better and way different than we could ever think up. That’s both great and frightening. We have to trust Him.

Isaiah 55:8-9,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Jesus, I don’t want to miss you in the waiting. As I sit, cry, pray, process, sort out, listen, may I hear you and lean on you. Help me to change while I am waiting. May I find you a closer, louder, and more gentle friend. Have your way.

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waiting…

I feel like I’m waiting to come alive.

That SOMEDAY I’ll be alive.

Here’s a list of the things I think my heart is waiting for:
— someone to join me for a walk in the park (so I’m not lonely or embarrassed of walking alone)
— kids to run through my sprinklers (so that I can teach someone the fun ways of summer and relaxing and enjoying outside)
— a job where everything I do relates to what I love
— going back to Africa and pouring my life out for the people there
— taking risks, ones that I know are risky but right
— watching myself carve out sacred time for Jesus

There are a lot of good and enjoyable things going on in my life. It’s not bad. It’s just hard. To be wanting and waiting. To know that some of that ache will not be met until I’m with my Creator in Heaven. But, I can walk closely with Him now.

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i got rhythm, but not like these kids…

Two weeks after getting back, my heart is still full of Africa… of new friends, beautiful faces, and God’s grace and mercy. I am excited about my life in the springs, but in many ways I feel ready to be back in Africa. Until God makes it clear if I’m supposed to head back, I’ll continue to unpack what I brought back in my heart. Our last two days in Africa were so full of good things…

Day 8 — Saturday, March 12

Today my journal started with these words: “I can’t sum up today.” It was beautiful. But even now, two weeks later there are too many people and pieces to try to explain.

We are blessed to get to know people, love people, see God in new friends, meet brothers and sisters, be in community, share ourselves with people, and be shared with. Today, I was called a mom, a friend, a sister… I sang at a twins’ birthday party, swapped earrings with a new friend in a dance circle, sang a duet with my favorite boy, and I feel alive.

I’ll have to try to give you stories on another day…

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Kwagga-what?

here’s just a bit of my heart on Friday… (I’m realizing that unpacking this stuff will take much more than just blog posts, but here’s to following through!)

Day 7 — Friday, March 11

Today I had to find out the date. I am enjoying life so much, I don’t even know what day it is. We packed up this morning from our peace-filled home for the past seven days and hit the road toward a town hours away from Johannesburg — Kwaggafontein.

As we pulled up, after a full day of shopping, we were greeted by a group of pastors. Not stoically waiting to be greeted, but singing and dancing — praising our same Jesus. It was such a fun treat to enter their world while worshipping Jesus. They took turns dancing in the middle of the circle, and the joy of the Lord was on their faces and in their hearts.

We enjoyed a tasty Braai for dinner, met the pastors, and then settled down for a good time around the fire. Pastor Jacob spoke, and we all introduced ourselves. Somehow one of my dear teammates (ha!) suggested that I sing the song I wrote about Africa, so I sang it at the campfire. That began some tender times for Pastor Jacob and I. As I began to understand just a glimpse of his story, it became understood that the song was a blessing to him. He also is a singer, and he has a deep love for the people that he serves. So, it was a blessing to have his friendship. He then proceeded to teach us a song in Ndebele. (We continued to ruin it and not figure it out). But, we kept  enjoying everything and dancing around the fire.

It is really crazy how unified the Church can be, even when we’re normally half a world away. It just felt easy to be there… it didn’t feel like we were “in Africa roughing it for the kingdom”. We were all just loving new people we met. What a treat.

As I look back on this evening, I realized that there are so many moments where God met me and us as a team… and I think He was just enjoying life with us. He was in little conversations in the van, conversations with good South African friends, in new songs, in dancing, in smiles — He was all around. And He delights in us so deeply.

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depth

I feel like it’s fading away.
We’ve been back for a week, and I’m struggling with how to remain changed.
How do we keep living the stories?
Letting the life we saw change us?

Day 6 — Thursday, March 10th

This morning was a fresh gust of air. We enjoyed a peace-filled beautiful morning at the Nelson Mandela Square, had a really tasty breakfast, complete with cappuccinos, walked around art galleries, and took our time.

As the day unfolded, I can’t describe how sweet God was to me. He spoke to me through friends, and was gracious to me and loud to me. He had things planned for me that only He knew I needed… though I can’t go into details now of how He met me, (took care of me and reminded me that I am His — uniquely His —  crafted with purpose with specific gifts for this time,) I am deeply thankful. And, I am in love with our God. Who would have thought that in the middle of time spent being Awakening Artists, that God would so gently remind me that He knows my story and He knows what I need to hear?

Our evening held more than is able to be summed up in words. We adventured into Hillbrow, a downtown neighborhood. We partnered with an organization called MES to participate in their weekly soup&bread handout. There are a lot of homeless people in Hillbrow because they don’t have paperwork, can’t get a job, or one thing led to another and now they are without anything. I felt really wide eyed the whole night. One man from the streets began a conversation with me. I enjoyed hearing everything he had to say and tried to get a glimpse of his story.

He’s just a guy, I’m just a girl.
He lives under a bridge. I live in a basement apartment.
He dreams of going to America. I dream of going back to South Africa.
I wish I could have better understood him, or at least remembered his name.
But, I do know that it was a privilege to love him and serve him even if just for a moment.

God shows up all over the place… and often in the moments when we don’t expect Him. We just have to have open eyes to see Him. I don’t have words for the way He holds us, crafts us, leads us, writes our stories… all in ways deeper, more raw, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Praise His Name.

 

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numb fear

A glimpse into Wednesday…

Day 5 — Wednesday, March 9

Today was scheduled to be a day to relax, process and chill. So, we headed to the Lion and Rhino Park to see all the African wildlife — whoo! So, we checked out all the zebras, lions, rhinos, then pet baby lions and posed as animals. Evidence here:

(photo courtesy of Cindy West)

(photo courtesy of Melissa Lemke)

But, where was my heart in all this? I was getting frustrated that though many of my friends had already had serious and deep experiences with God, poverty, story, etc., I was still without my heart breaking. It doesn’t need to break, maybe. I’d seen poverty before. But, I felt unseen… where was my story in all this? A good friend on the trip reminded me that being in South Africa, and five days in, no less, is just the beginning of our awakening. And I need to trust God with my story. Just follow Him — and not go numb.

My heart was timid. In the evening I got to head to Mosaiek to hang out with Hennie while he led band rehearsal. Hennie leads the Sunday night services, and is a gifted musician and has a great voice and a great heart for the church and for his band. I learned a lot from him and am excited to worship and work with him in the future. Worship makes me come alive. It’s ridiculous. It’s like I’m cut out for it. So, tonight was a treat.

More of the story is still to come…

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