36 Hope Expands: Hiddenness

36hopeexpands(36 Hope Expands. A series of 36 ways to expand compassion in our daily lives.)

The largest part of Jesus’ life was hidden. Henri J.M. Nouwen

If we want to follow Jesus by words and deeds in the service of his Kingdom, we must first of all strive to follow Jesus in his simple, unspectacular, and very ordinary hidden life.

 

Our ordinary moments can be so hard. They outweigh the spectacular, by ALOT.

We live hidden lives, our best moments are often not witnessed… except they are. He sees every one, especially those done out of love in hiddenness. Ever feel unnoticed, unappreciated, unknown? It is painful. I promise you He knows. He sees. He loves you for your simple, unspectacular, ordinary, hidden. That makes my hope expand.

colorful chairs

I want to fill my ordinary with God.

Four little, applicable steps I took this week:

1. I downloaded the free CharityMiles App. You can walk, run, or bike. You can also do it with the kids and have them help pick the organization you give to.

2. We also tried Donate a Photo. Another great family activity… you simply take a picture and Johnson and Johnson donates daily to a cause of your choice.

3. I also started using RecycleBank. You can earn points to redeem. What I love about it is that you learn green tips and information.

4. In those ugly moments of feeling completely exhausted of my ordinary… I am trying to remember that showing up is an act of faith. Read this article about just that by Amy Sullivan

 

I pray for you and encourage you. We can do a million acts of justice, kindness, and good… but the most obedient and beautiful is probably the simplest.

Showing up for God in hiddenness.

What little things do you do to give back, that take just a moment in your day? How do you feel about obedience in the ordinary?  

 

36 Hope Expands: Bust Up Single-File Lines

36hopeexpands(36 Hope Expands. A series of 36 ways to expand compassion in our daily lives.)

My hope to expand compassion in my daily life has been taught to me by children this week. (On Monday, my daughter Ellie, and today a student.)

I work in a school with special needs students. Leaning against the wall underneath the white board, I read a Geronimo Stilton chapter book with a student. The going was slow, but we were making progress in an exciting pirate tale. Another little friend scooted closer to us with his Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. As the pages were turned this student progressively inched closer and closer to us. He not so subtly pretended to read his own book as he watched us.

This went on for twenty minutes, until finally, he was knee to knee with us. One student and I reading together, another pressed against us watching over the rim of his book. I dared not question his actions. His eyes conveyed he meant serious business. We sat all pressed together for quite some time. As guided reading ended, he tugged on my arm and waited for my reading buddy to find his seat. He leaned over tight against my ear, ‘I understand now. My friend does not know how to read yet.’ 

Later, the classroom lined up for specials. I watched the two boys stand together. One put his arm around the other, ‘I can read with you too, whenever you want.’ They walked like that for awhile down the hallway, even though they were meant to be in a single-file line.

bust upShow up. Even if you don’t know why.

If you are compelled to draw close to someone, they probably need you.

Bust up single-file lines when appropriate, we were meant to walk arm in arm.

 

 

 

 

God loves the way you breathe

 

flowersI struggle with feeling good enough. In the realm of being a Mom I feel it very acutely.

 

When we were just married, Kris was a youth pastor. One summer we took a small group of middle school students on a 3-day bike trip in northern Michigan along the lakeshore. We biked successfully, went swimming at the campground, cooked over the fire and settled into our tents. Sometime in the night the heavens opened up with rain, wind, thunder, lightening and a storm warning. The tents flooded and twisted in the wind. We all spent half the night sleeping in the 15-passenger van.

The next morning we got up and took extra care to dry out our soaking campsite. We got riding, and approaching our second camp saw the black swirling clouds above us again. Warnings extended through the night. We decided to call it and head home early.

Upon arriving in the church parking lot that evening, we opened the trailer that carried all the bikes and supplies. A 50 gallon cooler full of red juice had somehow not been emptied and had spilled all over the floor of the trailer, including an expensive tent folded on the floor.

That’s when you stand there and hope the students parents realize you are only twenty-two and forgot about the red kool-aid while you tried to keep the kids out of the storms path. No one said anything, all that mattered was that we loved their kids and did our best for them.

 

This summer we went to Disney World with my family. My parents had been planning and saving to take my brother’s family and my own for quite some time. One evening everyone was ready to go back to bed, but Ellie. I stayed with her to wait for an hour to meet Tinkerbelle. When we left it was downpouring so hard. We ran down main street in the Magic Kingdom with rain up to our ankles, laughing. I think neither of us will forget the moment. Imperfectly perfect.

tinkerbelleA few days after I had Ellie, I sat on our couch with her in our seminary apartment. She was so little, and I felt afraid out of my mind. I didn’t even know what I needed or what to ask for. Then my Mom showed up with target bags, from an hour away. She just showed up. I didn’t have any idea what I needed, but she did.

 

That is what love is… showing up.

Just being there in a puddle of red kool-aid, in pouring rain at midnight, in the doorway.

It’s being in proximity to those we love and those we need to learn to love.

It’s simple and I don’t know why I always make it so hard.

Just be there, even if you are an imperfect mess. God loves the way you breath, even if you are standing in puddle of red juice. 

 

How can you show up this week? When have you or someone else showed up in a red kool-aid moment? 

there is no hierarchy in brokenness

IMG_0881

They are watching.

They repeat the bad word you didn’t mean to say aloud.

 

We hope that they find a love for reading, so we read in their presence.

We take them to the baseball field, the soccer arena, the dance studio, gymnastics class.

We drive them to piano lessons, guitar, play rehearsals, art classes.

We craft seasonal experiences like apple picking, a Christmas light tour, Easter egg hunts.

 

Are we as intentional about showing them how to walk in the compassionate footsteps of Christ?

He was there, in the messiest, hardest, most broken places of people’s life.

 

My parents taught me this with their work. My Mom’s here. My Dad’s here. The broken showed up on our doorstep. They became a part of my story. I realized we are all broken.

IMG_2147My friend Mickie gave voice to immigration reform.

 As a farming family we pay well above minimum wage and give an end of the year bonus to workers that show up everyday and we still have difficulties finding workers. We hire anyone willing to work but unfortunately the vast majority of Americans do not want to perform theses jobs. If we could find enough American workers to perform these jobs than we would not have to depend on migrant workers but this is not the reality! And it’s not the reality that we pay poor wages so we cannot attract American workers. It’s a short season with long hours. Our workers work rain or shine, it’s dirty, often wet, it’s hot, it’s physically exhausting. I am so thankful for the workers that are willing to do this hard work whether they are Americans or migrant workers!

 

They are watching.

We want them to know…

There is no hierarchy in brokenness.

God sees us the same.

There is a story within each person we come into contact with, a story that deserves to be given voice.

Each person deserves compassion, an extended hand, an invitation to know hope regardless of what they have done or what they are currently doing.

We want them to see us showing up.

We want them to see us erasing dividing lines, so they no longer are visible.

We want them to know broken is all of us, all of us the same.

We want them to see us kneel.

Kris was in Washington DC this past week. He witnessed a peaceful demonstration on immigration reform. People… willing to stand with their immigrant neighbors, even to arrest. They stood together to give voice.

photo

I would love to hear your voice on what moves you. I know you are all world-changers. I would love to work with you to guest post about what you are passionate about too. 

to give what is most precious.

DSC05480Last week, I shared that I took a new job.

I am in the second grade again. Where we read story books and learned about community.

The books were about welcoming new kids and feeling scared about starting school again.

During the community unit we learned about diversity.

 

Second grade subjects:

  • welcome others that are different from us
  • we are all different and that makes everything deeper
  • even if we are different, we all face the similar challenges

We adults need some help to understand these concepts sometimes. In kids, they are kind of beautifully innate.

 

A new student saw a need at the desk beside hers, a struggling classmate.

Without words, she offered a pencil, the only one like it in her pencil box, blue with beautiful henna markings. The pencil was special; something that reminded her of home and heritage. Instead of keeping it for herself, she offered it to her neighbor.

The one who received, looked at first surprised, taken aback by such a thoughtful gesture. Then a smile broke through. The pencil lives in a new pencil box now. I see fingertips touching its length each time a writing tool is extracted, a reminder that someone cared deeply enough to give what was most precious.

The act was small, but breathtakingly powerful.

 

And in like fashion our friend Amy Sullivan talked about this very topic Saturday. She found a great book we are going to have to read.

Showing up changes lives.

God stretches open the spaces we leave him.

Show up with what you have. We all have something to offer, even if it seems small.