Monday, August 29, 2016

There is a place on I-24 south that I love, it is few miles west of Exit 127.   In this particular spot the mountains wrap their arms around you from the north to the south as you drive into the bottom of the plateau.  I don't care how many times I make the trek home there is something that catches in my throat that allows me to say; these are my mountains and these are my people.

Tonight the sun was setting ever so gently creating a ray of light on upon the far north side of the mountain, off to my left.    The pink hue was so light that you can barely see it and yet it was there reminding us that the cycles of life that are always before us.

I spent my day sitting alongside hundreds of people who had gathered to celebrate a man who had impacted their faith, encouraged them to be leaders, challenged them to be better at their jobs, set a passion within their soul to do something outside of the box.  As I entered the worship space, I found myself in the in-between.  Not in a bad in-between but standing in a place where I had once been the 'student' the middle school then high school student who gave up her summer to wash dishes.  My favorite staff members of all time were gathered for this celebration of life. Men and women with whom I deeply admired and respected growing up.  Young adults (at the time) who taught me about matters of faith and who believed in me perhaps more than I believed in myself back then. Turn after turn there were surprised looks of the realization who I was, followed by warm embraces that seem to cover the passage of time.  Love exchanged as deep as a well of flowing water.

I stood among those who were my 'peers' on the mountain.  Reminiscing about the larger than life trucks that we all drove (and summer staff members still drive today), the long nights, the camps with little to no running water, how crazy we must have all looked in our bandanas with a load of lumber hanging well over the back end of the truck slowly making our way down the road to the next project. Reminiscing helped to reconnect and remind us of all for us there is still a life worth living well.

I hugged the neck of young adults who spent this summer on the mountain giving it their all so that others might experience Jesus in the fullness of love and grace.  Young adults who are encouraging others in order that they too might respond to the call to serve others.  As I hugged the necks of these amazing college students and looked over my shoulders to see those who had embraced me when I was there age, I had realized that the circle and cycle of life has truly called us to all be the student, peer and mentor.

As the pink hue hit the mountain at my favorite spot, that place in my throat caught once again.  It caught because of the love I was shown when I was a shy kid trying to find my way.  My eyes filled with tears ,for the protection that was showered upon me as I drove the county backroads as a young adult trusting that others would show kindness to the stranger in their midst.  My heart skipped a beat for the ways that I now get to stand with young adults and remind them that they are whole, gifted, loved individuals that God has brought here for such a time as this.

I have much more to learn as a student of Jesus.
I have many more roads to travel with fellow disciples.
I hope to have many more opportunities to shine God's light of encouragement upon others.

The circle and cycle of life is powerful.  May you never grow tired of learning, never give up on those who are walking alongside you and always be willing to teach someone else.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I've been thinking about tribes lately.

Tribes are communities of families (blood relatives) that are linked together through social, economic and/or religious commonalities.  Tribes consist of the people we choose to link ourselves with to build something greater; to conquer injustices, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with in times of trouble, heartache and celebration. These are the people who lift us up when we cannot go any farther on the path. Tribe members speak to the truth to us when, even if it hurts but then pours love into our being so that we walk in the hope that new beginnings are possible.  Our tribe are the people who are across the table from us when we celebrate life's most important events.

Tribes are important.

I am fortunate to have a tribe.

My tribe offers to take time out of their schedules to make a two-hour round trip  and then sit for another hour and a half in order to allow my teenager to be part of a very specific academic resource that is helping her to close the mathematical gap that has occurred due to a vision disfunction.

My tribe includes colleagues  that are willing to drive to me so that we can be pray, discern and create powerful worship services together.

My tribe are educators that provide a new beginning for a struggling, sometimes awkward, quirky teenager.

My tribe are people who pack the dance floor to sing, move and shout to the song "We are Family" at weddings.

My tribe offers words of hope, security and healing through lingering conversations that happen after a lunch meeting.

There is so much more that I could say about the tribe that I am currently standing among but the most important thing is I am part of a group of individuals who love as deep as the deepest canyon.  I am part of a tribe of individuals who are willing to climb the highest mountain in order to stand atop the summit and follows me into the valley so that I am not alone in the darkness.

Today, my prayer is that you are part of a tribe. I pray that  you have people that go to the ends of the world with and for you.  I hope that you have people in which you can say "those are my people."