Thursday, August 29, 2013

On the Other Side of the Lake

Greenwood Urban Wetlands
Greenwood Urban Wetlands-Credit
I used to live in this old 1926 house that I loved on a cobblestone street in a neighborhood I loved. Beyond the big beautiful oak trees that canopied the streets and the deli just blocks away, what I loved most was the park.

The park was just three doors down from our home. There were sprawling grass covered hills, walkways with tree branches creating cover from the sun, picturesque bridges and benches to stop and contemplate the wonder of it all. In the center of the 19 acres of parkland was a small lake with a path all the way around. That park, that path, was the answer to all our questions in the home from 1926.

Did the dog need exercise? Walk him around the lake. Had you spent too many hours in front of a computer screen that day? Go walk around the lake. Did you want a lingering conversation with a friend? Invite her to join you on the path around the lake.

Walking around that lake we made decisions about jobs and ministry. We faced losses and griefs on that path around the lake. We laughed with friends and celebrated long awaited victories. We even had anniversary pictures taken there. Several times my husband and I would start around that lake with heavy hearts after a long day or in the face of a big decision. When we started at the beginning of the path we usually didn’t know the answer or what would come next. But by the time we made it to the other side we usually had a semblance of the answer. And if not? We’d walk around one more time until it was clear.

I miss our old house with it’s leaky windows and memory scarred floors. I miss the picturesque tree laden streets and being able to walk for a fresh-made meal at a moments notice. But most of all I miss that park where answers could usually be found just on the other side of the lake. 

So do you have any special places you go when you need to make a decision or get away from it all? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last (Five Minute Friday)

Our is the upside down kingdom. That we’ve been adopted into by His grace. And it really is countercultural. This first shall be last, radical, not pursuing of the American Dream, thing.

And I’m surrounded by people trying to make and get and be more. All the time. It’s always more. And I don’t want to run that race, always striving.

But it’s all around me and I often get confused. How do you be separate in a world like that? How do you not always push to the front of the line when everyone is vying for attention? How do you make yourself less and make Him more? How do you become first by becoming last?

I’m trying to figure this out as I do ministry with the homeless and the lawyer. The college student and the politician. The professional athlete and the day laborer. And I don’t know the answer.

But each day I wake and I strive to take up my cross anew and follow Him. To preach the Gospel  to myself that they may see His light. And I mess up and get it wrong all the time. By I grow and move forward and pick myself up. And maybe in the daily failing I really am learning to become last?

Five Minute Friday

On Fridays I join a community of writers who encourage one another. If you're interested in joining us visit here

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Under Construction

After nearly two years of blogging as Church Planting Confessions I've decided it's time to relaunch. The content around here won't change much but it will be clearer whose doing all the confessing and maybe even easier for you to connect?

With the new design there will continue to be some tweaking over the next few days.  Bear with me and while you wait do you mind telling me what you think of the new look of things? I'd appreciate it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Love Where You Live: Orlando Restaurants

Previously we've talked about why it matters to know your city. It's hard to live missionally if you don't  like where you live or don't know much about the places people go. But here's the thing, if you're unhappy with where you're at  or haven't been living a life of intention to the glory of God, all that can change today.

When we first moved to Downtown Orlando I prayed two simple prayers that God was faithful to answer:
" God, please help me see these people the way you see them and please help me fall in love with this city."
That's it. And it worked. I passionately love The City Beautiful and all it's diverse and wonderful people.

Robin lives in my second favorite city in our great country: Chattanooga, TN (it has something to do with countless family vacations there, their mountains and the fact that they have all four seasons, unlike Florida). Robin didn't always love her city but now it "has burrowed way under her skin and taken up residence in her heart." In the same way that Robin and I have fallen in love with our cities we'd love for you to do the same. Robin is hosting a Love Where You Live link-up for the next few weeks and this week we're talking about our city's restaurants.


What you may not know about O-town is that we're much more than Disney and Darden. We have a burgeoning local food movement that includes everything form local farmers to vegan and vegetarian fare to a food truck for almost every menu you can think of.

Below is short list of some of my favorites:

For a fine dining experience: Citrus
For killer sandwiches: 903 Mills Market or Pom Pom's
For your sweet tooth: The Dessert Lady or Blue Bird Bake Shop
For vegan/vegetarian offerings: Dandelion 
For coffee and GF options: The Drunken Monkey or Rhaposadic Bakery
For an affordable gastropub: Avenue
For the best lobster mac & cheese in town: The Pour House
For the best (free range, organic) burger: Pine 22
For killer food truck fare: La Empanada or Big Wheel Provisions
For French pastries: Benjamin French

That's the really short list. If you're ever in Downtown Orlando I'd love to give you a personal tour.

If you want to read more about why it matters to love your city visit here and here.

So what do you love most about where you live? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Small (Five Minute Friday)

So I think we’ve got this all wrong. We’re confused about what is small in this life and what really matters. Our society, our world has got it upside down. Backwards.

We say that motherhood is not a valid “career choice” and in the midst of full hands and hearts mothers everywhere are shaming themselves for not contributing more. We say teachers and artists and public servants don’t matter as much as celebrities and CEOs and professional athletes.

We’re constantly running, working to amass things that in the end won't matter while we gloss over the things that do. We’re missing it. All of the things that really make a life are passing us by.

But His is the upside down kingdom. Where the last shall be first and small is the new big. His Son modeled for us how to live a life that matters. To eat with friends and sinners and outcasts around the table. To stop for the sick, the broken, and the hurting. To make time for children, and widows and all the least of these.

So what if we lived our lives like small mattered? What is we invested intentionally in real relationships with the broken more than our personal brand? Maybe then would we live lives that were in fact widely, incredibly, big?

On Fridays I link up with a group of writers that encourage one another. Won't you consider joining us here?

Five Minute Friday

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to be in Control of Your Smart Phone

File:IPhone 5.png
Back in April I became one of the last people on the planet to upgrade to a smart phone. I was afraid for a lot of reasons to take the plunge. But my main two were 1) constantly hearing others bemoan how their smart phones had taken over their lives and 2) recognizing the realities of my propensity toward an addictive personality.

It's been a few months now and I can honestly say I could live with out my phone. Yes, it's true, I could go back to dumb (phone that is). If you're wondering how that's possible then I'll share my secrets:

How to Keep Your Smart Phone from Running Your Life:
  • Evaluate wants and needs: Before I made the big switch I evaluated what I wanted and needed from my phone. I wanted to make use of photography apps, simplify my banking and get more organized.
  • Decide what you don't want: I did not want to be tethered to me phone. So for the most part I do not use my phone for social media or checking email  (the major exception is when I traveling for work) and I do not read on my phone (same exception as above).
  • Decide how much to spend: I did not want to spend my life savings on my phone bill so I have a limited data plan. This also helps with limiting my phone usage. 
  • Don't carry it all the time: Leave your phone on your desk during lunch. Keep it on vibrate most of the time. Put it away when chatting with friends, etc. 
  • Reevaluate and delete often: I'm regularly thinking of ways I can make my phone work for me instead of the other way around. If I find an app that genuinely adds value to my life (and it's affordable) I get it. But I also don't add apps on a whim even if they're free and I strive to regularly clean up my phone and delete the unneeded.
These are just a few of the strategies I have for making my smart phone work for me and not letting it become an extra appendage. I know these ideas aren't practical for everyone but you are in control of your phone and your life. There are always ways to limit your usage to live the life you want to live.

Do you have any strategies for disconnecting from you smart phone? I'd love to hear your tip in the comments below.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lonely (Five Minute Friday)

Five Minute Friday

Lonely is one of those incredibly ugly words. It brings with it so many connotations. The idea of being all by yourself and depressed in the dark. One of those surrounded-by-people but not-a-friend-in-the-world moments. Lonely as in I’m the only ones who feels this way/does this thing/takes this risk.

Being all alone, being the only one, is one of the great lies in this world. Believing that you’re the only one can paralyse people with shame. Immobilize them with fear and doubt.

But the truth is none of us are alone. Not ever. There is always someone who’s where you are right now, who has experienced what you’re feeling and been through what you’re going through.
So don’t allow yourself to be lied to. Don’t believe the lies. Someone else has fought sex addiction and abuse. Someone else has seen a spouse die or a marriage fall apart in the most horrific way. Someone else has been there too.

So wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, don’t be the only one. Shout out that you’re broken or in pain or feeling tempted or less than enough. And if you do you’ll always find someone else who says, “you’re not the only one.”

On Fridays we join together to write and encourage each other. Won't you consider joining us?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chasing Your Dreams is Hard Work

So I've been actively pursuing some of my God-sized dreams this week and it's been busy. I'll have some exciting announcements coming soon and hopefully I'll be able to serve you, my reader, better.

One of the big things up until this point that has kept me from doing some things I know God is calling me to is fear. Fear of failure and maybe a little fear of success too. And I know I'm not alone...

So I'm wondering what are some of your God-sized dreams and how do you combat fear? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gather at the Table

(Thanks to Robin Dance for sharing this post as part of the Bloom Book Club's study of Bread and Wine.)

Ours is a table on a patio in the heart of downtown Orlando, and it has been for almost five years now. Sometimes it’s spread with Cuban sandwiches, Coke, and plantain chips. Other times it’s covered with the remnants of take-out from a local eatery or simply littered with empty glasses following hours of lounging.

Sometimes, like on a Sunday afternoon, the table at our third place is quiet and peaceful with a soft breeze blowing against your skin. Other times the hustle and bustle of the work day gives way to loud music, the scent of cigars and the sights and sounds of partiers who have had one too many cocktails.

We moved to downtown Orlando with the hopes of planting a church. But, as it usually is with God-sized dreams, things didn’t go exactly as planned. God made it clear that we wouldn’t be planting a traditional church anytime soon, but we would be planting the Gospel. 
Over the years our table has at times been more akin to a confessional in an old Catholic church building. People have poured out their hearts, stories, and sins on that patio. We’ve heard the deep longings of a former soldier suffering from PTSD, the insecurities of a young male college student, and the tension when a wealthy business man who has everything suddenly realizes he may indeed have nothing at all

Other times the table has felt more like an altar. We’ve had heart-to-hearts about our marriage and other people’s marriages there. We’ve shared difficult disagreements and life altering decisions leaning against that table, with tears in our eyes.

 And sometimes, just as it should be, that table becomes the heart of a living room of sorts. We’ve shared celebrations of birthdays, new jobs and exciting life changes there. We’ve meandered there after chili and apple dumplings or a Thanksgiving spread shared with all those we’ve met at that table over the years.

So yes, invite people into your home. Have them gather around your dining table, coffee table or bar in the kitchen. But don’t forget that the table can be found anywhere. Perhaps it’s in the break room at your workplace with a simple menu of coffee and donuts. Maybe it’s the picnic table at your little ones’ play group over goldfish crackers and PB&J. Wherever you are, the table can usually be found close by. So come gather at the table.

And in gathering, find life.