Things I've learned about discipleship

 

In a time of pause and rest I find myself pondering the beauty of the discipling relationships I have had the privilege to be a part of over the years. These are some of those thoughts.

Discipling (for everyone, but I am pondering discipling women today). Wisdom is to disciple those that want it. Wisdom is also knowing what it feels like to get kicked in the shins for your attempts to disciple the people who aren’t ready or cannot receive from you. Should we disciple? Yes. Should we disciple everyone? No.

I pick 1-3 people a season. Sometimes they ask, sometimes I offer, either way I have the same conversation at the start each time. I carefully lay out what I am able to offer them. I am aware of who I am and therefore what I can give. I have repeatedly and over years laid down what I wish I could be, or the lies whispered in my ear of who I should be to those around me, and instead of invested deeply and with varying levels of success into who I was created to be. Constantly seeking growth and further wisdom for the healer and gardener himself.

 So that is what I know to offer.

It is not me you go to when you need gentle words or a silent room. I offer a second pair of eyes and ears to root out the lies that we have define ourselves by. I find I am able to pick up on the half truths and the pervasive decay that leads us to behavior that we despise. In my living room with a cup of coffee you will get my best efforts at truth and lovingly direct eye contact when you try to lie to yourself and to me.

 I am not for everyone, nor are you for every person my friend. That’s a lie we tell ourselves. Some personalities clash, while other relationships bloom and can be cherished for the explosive way God uses community to draw us back to him and thus eliminating the waste and deeply entwined lies that hide and distract from our restored humanity.

  While this desire and awareness of our deep need for purposeful community globally rises (again as it has in the past), we too need to rise in our willingness to love one another. To be available to one another within clear and gently laid boundaries. However, our ability to love on one another is able to grow exponentially when we have learned to love or at least listen to the truth God speaks to us about ourselves.  Boundaries and self-love are our cultural achilleas heel as women. There is a general love of being needed that is easily twisted. I do not have this need. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I feel chocked by being needed by others, squashed, ripped of my freedom. So know that,  I understand that not all women feel this way. However, I do feel the crushing weight of wanting to be seen as capable and responsible. Relationally perfect if you will. This leads itself to the same result as the need to be needed. The over extending at the risk of myself and my humanity for the sake of my commitment to others. This may have a ring of selflessness, or at least this is the narrative I (and others) tell ourselves, but ultimately the story always ends the same way with me sick or wishing I was sick so I had a reason to lay in bed and forget about the world. And because that is not a constant option in my life, I then am short and snap to all those around me, starting at those I hold most dear. As my exhaustion from all my ‘giving’ takes over the circle for whom I am willing to snap at moves from my children and husband to my closest friends. When I find myself grouching at the slow check out lady, I know I have made a lot of bad choices right in a row. That instead of being self-aware enough in my own humanity to recognize and honor my limits, I have overstretched to what? Prove to a pretend group of people that I am enough? When, really those closest to me know that I wasn’t and they are reaping the reward of trying to overextend past my own humanity.

When we get this bug of discipleship we want to share, offer, impart. Stand firm my sister in the truth that you have something valuable, heavy, important to share, but do not let your perceived results dictate your value nor the worth of what you are offering. Align yourself with truth, wisdom, and grace for yourself and others. We want to belong, to feel important of peoples time and attention and at the very least that is what we can be wiling to offer, ourselves. Thus is the Kingdom of God, that we are found valuable enough to be redeemed and worthwhile enough to offer the redemption of our King to those around us in meaningful and creative ways.

 Be who you were created to be and offer that with wisdom and grace (for yourself and the world) to others.

Dear Burned-Out Full-time Ministry Worker:

Your Soul Knows What It Needs

By Tonya Stanfield

 

Dear Burned-Out Fulltime Ministry Worker:

 

Your soul knows what it needs.

 

Don’t be afraid of this counter-intuitive season, this longing to withdraw into the unrushed places… free from the manyness, muchness, crowds and noise.

 

What once excited and spurred you on now feels like a weight on your shoulders, but do not think your call and vision are too much, naive, too overreaching, or even temporary. All this exhausted ache means is that you’ve come to the place where your call simply exceeds the well of Life you’ve carved out within your soul. It’s only natural that you should come to end of this precious resource, and it’s only more natural that God anticipated this day and welcomed it… just as He welcomed all the sacrificial choices and work you did to get to this painful space. In God’s eyes, it’s all holy.

Now, God is in process of attaching your well to the River of Life which will continually feed it. It is a necessary renovation. I can tell you it’s one we all go through, but I can’t tell you how long it will last. It’s not a renovation in the Spirit’s control, not yours.

Eventually, you will sense you are not yourself by yourself; you are connected to Father, Son, Holy Spirit… so you are more than yourself. Then, you will be able to offer this world more than just your talents and small well. You’ll offer them this connection to Life. God will do this renovation… not for your ministry… but because it’s the cry and desire of your heart. He’ll do this because it’s how Jesus, the true human, lived. He’ll do it for your children who need you, for your spouse whose been worried for you…  and, yes, for the world too. (Although you may define your role in and for the world differently from this point onward.)

Do not think your passion for this ministry vanished for no reason. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Your soul knew before you did what it needed to heal itself… to deepen your well. And, so you began to desire simplicity, quiet, safety, less hype and more depth, less acclaim and more humility. You stopped looking outward to answer the world’s brokenness and began to look inward, to attend to your own. Only you couldn’t reconcile this way of living to the way you were trained to go about your calling…

…which makes me think of Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. Yes, you heard me right… the Nobel Peace Prize winning anti-apartheid activist.

It is reported Tutu spent up to 6 or 7 hours per day in contemplative prayer practices requiring silence, solitude and liturgy. Tutu said if the government had been aware of how subversive this kind of prayer really was, they would have banned it. In fact, Tutu states contemplative prayer played a large role defeating apartheid. Those who know him said his extroverted political exuberance and contemplative practices were two sides of the same coin.  A Vicar I had dinner with, who cares for Tutu in his old age, confirmed his practices are so deeply a part him, so instinctive, he didn’t even need a watch to know it was time to excuse himself from a dinner and find a quiet room for prayer.

Tutu’s life makes Richard Foster’s words on Christian meditative prayer ring just a bit deeper: “In fact, meditation is the one thing that can sufficiently redirect our lives, so we can deal with human life successfully.”

It also puts a different spin on the famous Quaker, William Penn’s words: “True godliness does not turn men out of the world but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.”

Your soul knows what it needs.

As long as you continue to desire slowness, quiet, solitude, etc…. don’t despise those desires. Your soul is telling you what you need. You do not know how long this renovation, this deepening, this attaching to the River of Life will take. Let your desires guide you, not the expectation of others, nor the nagging of your idealized self.

It might be a short season, or it might take years, but it is a part of your calling… not a detour away from it.

Maybe, before, you were solely vested in your ministry… but over the years you’ve added more roles to your life:

·       Husband or Wife

·       Proud Parent or Bereaved One

·       Friend or X-friend

·       Care-giver or Patient

·       Mortgage Payer or Manager

·       Widow or Divorcee

·       Team member … X-team member

 

You’ve come to see you’re more than just a single identity. Your life is a part of an intricate web called the human race, and you’re participating in God’s great redemptive story on so many levels. Simple identities, motivations and answers only require simple wells. Maturity brings a complexity that needs to be reconciled to a new way of being, to wholeness.

Callings like yours may take more than a deep well, more than a river of life. It may be time for total immersion into God’s ocean of love.

Your soul knows what it needs.

 

Let the desires of your heart guide you in this season, and do not despise them. This, too, is your calling.

 

 

Dreams, vision, and what to do with your life: Questions answered by author of 'Start Something' Mathu Ardis Thomason

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Before we get to all the good stuff, I want to do a little introduction to the man with a lot of the answers. This man is my pastor, one of my best friends, a person I have the privilege from learning from on an ongoing bases, and he makes the best french press coffee around regardless of the fact that he himself doesn't drink it. 

Ladies and gentleman, my friend: Mat.

. He is also the author of the book 'start something'. There is a link to his amazon page at the end of this interview. He is full of truth and down to earth humor that is evident in this little interview and in his book. Grab a copy, grab yourself a cup of coffee, and dig your teeth into some common sense love and wisdom. 

 

 

 

1. What would you say to someone who doesn't know what to do with their life?

 

I guess the first thing I would say is, "you're not alone." Even those of us who look like we know what we are doing struggle with that question at different times in our journey. I think a more important question to ask yourself is, "who I am" or "who am I becoming." This isn't necessarily an easier question to answer, but when we discover the answer to this question, the question, "what do I do with my life" will be nearer to being answered than it was before. Too often in life we focus on destinations or outcomes. What career will I have or where will I be in 20 years, instead of how am I being transformed as I travel into the unknown that is my future. I believe destiny is less about arriving at some perfect destination on the horizon of our lives, and more about who we evolve into as engage in the trial and error, stop/start, stumbling, falling, trying again process of following Jesus and learning to love and serve like He did. In that process we discover, or are more often than not surprised by, who He has transformed us into. And that person He has transformed us into is able to be fruitful and accomplish things that we never thought possible. So, if you don't know what to do with your life, just love people the way Jesus did while He reveals to you who you are and how He made you.

 

2. How do you best start figuring out who you are and what you should do with your life?

 

I kind of answered this above, but I can go deeper into my own journey. I found out the most about myself by paying attention to the way in which I served people. And not just any time I served, but when I actually served people from an unselfish place. (Side note: When we serve people with mixed motives, that sort of data is corrupted and can't be used for drawing conclusions about ourselves.) Growing up I would naturally want to teach people things to make them better at whatever they were pursuing. It was just something I always wanted to do, it just came out of me, even as a teenager. As I began to notice this more I tried to then narrow it down to a specific type of teaching. I think that is where I got it wrong. We too often make our path/journey or destiny too specific or narrow, I have learned that it is more broad than we suppose. I tried to fit my understanding of "you're a teacher" into my specific understanding of what it meant to be a teacher (junior high public school teacher), I've since learned it is better not to define what "teacher" means but to allow my desire to teach and serve others with my gift to paint the picture of what it means to be a teacher. In the past 20 years my definition of "teacher" has expanded so much that it is comical to look back on where my understanding of my gift started. If I had stuck with my definition of teacher, I certainly wouldn't be teaching missionaries in Cape Town.

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3. What if my dream seems audacious?

 

So what? Nearly every dream seems audacious before it is accomplished. I'm sure everyone, including Edison himself, thought the light bulb was an audacious dream, but now we don't even think about what happens when we flip on a light switch. The audacious of Edison's time is now the common and ordinary of our time. Every great discovery or advancement or accomplishment started in the mind of man as something audacious. So, if your dream seems "audacious", you are in very good company.

 

4. Is there too small of a dream?

 

Honestly, one of our biggest problems is our need to define the size of our dreams. The "bigness" or "smallness" of a dream is based entirely on our human and time bound perspective, which is probably the worst possible position to judge a dream from. We look at what others have done in order to discover the size of our dream. Our addiction to comparison robs us of so many opportunities to change the world. The size of your dream can only be measured from a heavenly perspective, which means that you can't look anywhere other than God to find out if your dream is big enough to pursue. To Him, all dreams are the same size.  

 

Click HERE for your copy of Mat's book!

 



Are you married and all your single friends "went away"? Are you single and all your married friends have "ditched you"? Then my friend, here is the blog for you!

Hi friends,

Are you married and all your single friends “went away”? Are you single and all your married friends have “ditched” you?

 Here is the blog for you.

I am sitting with one of my very best friends in all the world; Juliette, sipping on home roasted coffee and trying to decide how to share our story of pain, awkwardness, and emotional immaturity that led to one of the closest friendships either of us has ever had. 

I (Kimberly) was married when I was 23; an absolute baby. I asked my mom a few years later why she would let me get married so young, she responded with:

“could I have stopped you?”

Good point mom. Good point.

I’m now 29, married with 2 adorable kiddos.

Juliette just turned 29 as well. She’s an absolute southern belle and her greatest dream growing up was to be a mom and a wife, but she is single.  

I met Juliette about a year after my wedding when she moved from the U.S. to Cape Town, South Africa, where we still live.

Juliette moved here to work as the administrator for a team I was leading.  Over the years, our roles have grown and changed.  Juliette now runs a coffee shop, goes swing dancing every Tuesday night, and one afternoon a week does the Auntie thing with my kids. I am taking more time to write and work with a missions base while still learning what it means to be a Mom. Our jobs and lives have looked different over the years, but the things that have not changed is we love each other and we are neighbors, so we have to see each other everyday.

For the last couple of years there have been lots of comments from our community and from around the world (our jobs led us around the world a number of times), asking us how we became such good friends while we were both in such different life stages.

We know from listening to people’s stories individually and together, how much pain there is for a single person looking to be friends with a married person and vice versa.

Our story is not one of perfection or completion, but rather a willingness to try regardless of past pain.  In fact, we struggled with this, have not been great at this, and will continue to have struggles with this in the future at some point in time. This is not a “how to do it right” it’s a “how to be willing to try”.

 

We both started as somewhat emotionally immature individuals, in our own special ways that have led to conflict, pain, joy, and growth. We are sharing our stories because we believe that some of the deepest connection to be found is often found in diversity of life stages, and we want that for anyone who is brave enough to try.

We understand that there is a lot of hurt; particularly in the Church on both sides of married friends and single friends. Today I want us to talk about pain, which is a terrible thing to talk about that most of us are uncomfortable with. However, connection will always include pain if you are willing to take it to any level of depth. The willingness to meet someone in their pain, is the willingness to connect with depth

Hi friends, this is Juliette writing now. I am single, I don’t want to be.  

This has been a long journey, processing this with God, talking with my closest friends, full of heartache and joy… and yet it is an incredibly vulnerable thing to share.  I actually stalled and debated for a week after Kimberly and I wrote the first draft – trying to decide if I was ok with inviting so many people into my story.  It makes me wildly uncomfortable to think about opening up to those outside my dearest friends – but I passionately believe this is something we need to be talking about.  Even as I’m writing this, I’m reminded of that, as I think about how challenging it was to even write the sentence: “I am single; I don’t want to be”.  It feels like a failure to admit that. I want so badly to qualify it with something, to explain it away.  But it is the truth – and it is not a failure or something to be ashamed and embarrassed by.   And so, it’s something we need to talk about, to dig into, to see the truth where so many of us are believing the lies we’ve been told all our lives.  Please bear with me as I figure out the nuances of communicating well, something that I am still learning and living.  

The pain of I’m going to talk about took me off guard because it wasn’t until two or three years ago that it first started becoming a “sharp pain”. Before that I was generally sure marriage, babies, and all that comes with it would happen soon. Suddenly I realized it was not a sure thing, and I was left watching all of my community, all of my closest friends living everything that I wanted for my life.  For me part of what was hard was I had done all the “right” things. All the things the Church had told me was the “right way” (purity, waiting patiently, giving it to God, “letting go”) I had done and done it well, but I was still single and still in pain.  The pain of realizing what wasn’t, and may never be, was akin to having my heart broken in a relationship.

But this time, the pain seemed to not be understood or allowed. I was basically told that if I was really holy, then I would be content and happy to allow God to orchestrate my romantic affairs. 

I am a researcher by nature and I do not like sitting when something needs “fixing”. Before I could fix my pain though, I needed to correctly identify and diagnose it so it could be dealt with properly. What I found was this type of pain is referred to as disenfranchised grief.

The definition being:

“The grief you don’t feel allowed to mourn, because your loss is not clear or understood”

Finding this definition or category was incredibly freeing. It told me the pain I was feeling was real and allowed. It gave it a name.

For me this was the grief of what I did not have, and may never have, but what I still want so deeply.

So two or three years ago when this hit me, my best friends were all married with kids. Two of the three of them were a bit older, but Kimberly was almost my exact age with exactly what I wanted. Two kids and a husband that loved her.

This was not helped by the fact that, although we worked closely together, Kimberly got told (in my presence) on more than one occasion:

“Kimberly, you’ve MADE it!!”

Married, leading a ministry, having a house, and kids of course being the definition of “making it” leaving me with what?

(For context, this was while Kimberly was leading a ministry I was working with… prior to my stepping into leadership of the team).

These were the moments that exacerbated the feeling. I loved my life, I had and still do have an incredibly rich and full life, but comments like that seemed to completely invalidate everything I was doing.  As I was working to live in a place of contentment and joy – knowing how blessed I am to have community, deep friendships, an amazing family with nieces and nephews I adore, a job I love, in a city dear to my heart… I was literally being told by the world that it was not enough.  That I was not enough.  

 

It would have been incredibly easy in this pain to shut off and pull away from families in anything other than surface relationships. However, Kimberly’s family had chosen me, and I had chosen them, and although my natural tendencies are to go the exact opposite direction than pain, I couldn’t walk away from them. Also I literally live in their backyard. That made it harder to leave in any sense of the word. Be it emotional or physical.

There was another side in this relationship though. This other side wasn’t willing to let me go without a fight.

I (Kimberly again) did not like the tension I felt from Juliette. I am emotionally awkward at best, and hated feeling like a failure in our relationship because something was so obviously off. I can’t say I jumped into the hard conversations, but was rather pushed in when things got so bad I either needed to ask her to move out, go home, or have a conversation. The first two would have been easier. However, I am a missionary and it would have been difficult to communicate firing someone who was perfectly good at her job because I could not deal with pain or tension.

So we talked.

It was terrible, we both cried primarily out of fear of feelings, then hurt feelings, but we talked. More stuff came up and we talked again. Then something shifted that was deeper than all the other times before; Juliette was shutting down, and no matter how deep I dug at her she couldn’t/wouldn’t describe what was happening.

This was when she was in her major research phase of trying to identify/diagnose her pain.

When she first was willing to talk about what she was experiencing and feeling, it was so difficult. We didn’t have just one conversation that made everything clear. As we were able to talk a little bit here and there, she was able to process it until finally it all came tumbling out at different times as she could describe it better.

My first reaction was offense that she could say I hurt her by merely being married. (Side note from Juliette – this misconception was actually part of the reason I was afraid of telling anyone…I wasn’t hurt by my friends being married, I was hurting that I wasn’t, and my pain was exacerbated by the difference between us.  However, I see how that could be perceived from my bumbling explanations.)

I know, selfish to the extreme, but we are trying to be honest, so there it is. 

I think as married people we need to stop feeling guilty, ashamed, or superior in any way for being married, and only when we can lay those aside can we truly feel the pain of the people we claim to love.

I had to learn to do this. And am still learning.

Juliette’s pain was not my fault, but did that matter? It was still her pain, and I love her, so what could I do?

Humans are designed for connection. However, often when there is pain we flee; either physically we leave, or more often emotionally we check out and offer unsolicited advice or empty platitudes that leave the one in pain lonelier than before.

The thing about connection is we experience emotions on a spectrum from pain to joy. If you cannot or will not allow yourself to experience pain, you cannot experience true joy. If you limit one end of the spectrum, you limit the other in equal degrees.

The same is true of relational connection.

Shallow relationships depending on just one emotion will only be connected by one emotion. That is not a deep connection.

We all need varying levels of connection, but for the few we chose to be “our people” those we need to learn to allow to connect across the spectrum.

This has been a five-year journey so far, and we have learned a lot from doing this really well, and from doing this exceptionally poorly. We will be sharing both ends of that spectacular spectrum in the coming weeks.

Love,

Juliette + Kimberly

 

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When callings get boring

Michaela Copsey

When i started pursuing God in my early 20s one the biggest allures of the Christian life was this idea of a “life with purpose”. I had quickly figured out that life by my own plans and pursuit-of-self was outrageously unfulfilling (and quite a mess honestly), and my newfound commitment to Christ opened up a world of possibilities as I discovered my individual calling. God-given callings are always exciting and world-changing, aren't they? What I didn’t see or understand through my new Christian starry-eyes was that nobody’s life is a series of ONLY mountain-top experiences. No calling is without it’s valleys, it’s boring days, it’s seasons of waiting and wandering, the daily tasks of the day to day. And maybe, some of these mundane tasks are more spiritually-formative than we realise. 

 

So here are a couple of cautions to calling that I've learnt along the last decade… 

 

1.     There are far more mundane, normal moments than there are radical crazy book-worthy events. The great thing is that these moments are no less valuable, spiritual or God-pleasing. They are essential to the human life. 

2.     The grass will look greener elsewhere; distractions will come that will vie for your attention, other people’s lives might look more exciting than yours sometimes. Stick with it. A tree doesn’t grow over night. 

 

One of my favourite books of the bible is Numbers. I know that’s a pretty shocking statement to most, but bear with me. I see myself so much in the Israelite people. God's calling looked glorious in the start for those that victoriously fled Egypt through the miraculous parted waters. The hope of their promised land urged them through the wilderness. This was their calling; to be the people of God in the land he was leading them to. But their calling wasn't just about arriving in the beautiful land, it was about the journey of relationship along the way that would prepare them.

 

When the days wore on, many lost hope. In fact, the entire first generation (those that left Egypt) gave up on entering the land of Canaan. Even when their children grew and gained their chance to conquer, several tribes opted rather to settle in the land east of the Jordan (Numbers 32:1-5). They came so close to walking in the fullness of their calling, but they stopped short. They got distracted. They settled right next door to what God had spoken. This fertile soil right under their feet was a quicker fix, a greener grass. And they chose it. 

 

How easily we can do the same thing. How easily we think we know better than God. 

 

God has been highlighting to  me the fine line between living the fullness of his call, and living my own comfortable plan just next door. It's close. It might even look the same from the outside. But it’s compromise. 

 

Something I really feel like God has personally called me to in this season is motherhood - in the context of missions. I can remember a time when I was travelling the world and leading teams and living this oh-so-exciting overseas missional life of faith with God. All that I had romanticised and dreamed of had become a reality, and yet deep down in my heart I had a real longing to be a mother. I fought and prayed hard through losses and fertility challenges to have our two boys. I adored the season of having itty bitty newborn babies strapped to me as I continued on with my ministry responsibilities. I worked hard to “have it all” - motherhood and ministry, side by side. 

 

But somewhere along the way, when my eldest was about a year old, I was getting really discouraged about my suitability for the job. There were mountain top moments for sure, but there were far more mundane repetitive days of wiping bums, making food for little people to throw all over the floor, and plans abandoned in the face of tantrums and impromptu naps.

 

Was this really the wondrous work I was called to? 

 

The job was harder than I thought, and lonelier than I expected. I adore my kids, but I felt torn between them and all the other more “noble” endeavours. I felt like I had nothing to write in our newsletters - I didn’t know quite where I belonged anymore. And some days, honestly, were just plain boring. 

 

But God has been teaching me - This is the reality of calling. All callings. Wether you are fighting human trafficking, educating underprivileged children, leading global corporations, or pumping petrol at a gas station, you are still a human being who needs to sleep and eat and wash your clothes and brush your teeth. 

 

Think about any person in the Bible who responded to the call of God. Think about the things Jesus spent his life doing. 

 

In that season I noticed how tempted I was by the allure of something more exciting. I would rush through my days like I had an unlimited stack of them despising the simplicity of just slowing down and rolling with the unexpected hurdles of my little people. Trying to do it all and doing nothing well. I couldn't see that God was using me powerfully in this new season because my perspective and values were all wrong. No longer could my son be contained at the back of meetings, or rocked to sleep on the go. I had to give things up if I wanted to be the one to raise them. I had to choose what would be my priority in this season if I was to live in the fullness of what God had for me.

 

God began to teach me simple, hidden, mundane, repetitive, faithfulness is hugely significant and important - I grew to realise I was in fact made for this calling - and in the simple repetitiveness, God was forming my precious kids, myself and sometimes even my community around me. When my attitude changed about the ordinary, I began to find God there; in the food-making, and the endless dish washing, bill paying, and baby snuggling. 

 

I started thinking about Eve. If anyone has a pretty sweet calling it was her. Eve had this perfect life, in a perfect garden. She has her man, Adam. They are naked and unashamed, they walk with God, they have this call of dominion and authority over all this amazing beautiful unbroken creation. 

 

What more could she want? 

 

And yet even she allows the voice of this serpent to distract her. She allows seeds of dissatisfaction to be placed in her heart. She allows him to make her feel like there is something better to be had. She's distracted from all that she has, and hones in on the one thing she doesn’t have. 

 

Can anyone else relate? 

 

EVEN in perfect fellowship she begins to wonder…what if there’s something more? What if i could have more knowledge? Be happier? Do something better? What if God is holding out on me? 

 

It's the exact same lie we entertain today. 

 

I can feel like the grass is greener everywhere else or for someone else and overlook the reality that I am literally living what I was made for. How sad is that? 

 

Our calling will not look like the most glittering, beautiful, easy path there is when we are in the midst of it. It never does. Hard things are good for us; they form us and mature us. Commitment is good for us. Following through in obedience forms us to be more like Christ. 

 

So dear friends, be encouraged. Stick it out in the trenches of what God has called you to, even when the end seems far away. Do not be discouraged by the seeming greatness of other people’s callings, the dazzle of someone else’s instagram account or the fear of missing out on pursuing the other 10,000 possible life endeavours. Don't try to do it  all - do YOU well. And find Jesus right there where you are. 

 

The extraordinary, book-worthy moments will come. Just maybe not every day. 

 

Let me finish with the wise words of Julie Canlis, “Don’t mistake me - the call to follow Christ is any fallen society is radical. Love of God and neighbour will put us on an ‘impactful’ non self-centred path. In Genesis, this path winds it’s way right through the world and the everydayness of our lives. If being sold-out is our goal, then we will eventually place the burden on people to do ‘big’ things - and we might miss the worship of God that is mowing the lawn, paying the mortgage, tucking children into bed, running the coffee hour at church. Of course we can always do these thing better. But let us be on guard lest ‘radical’ become the new legalism” - J. Canlis (2017) A Theology of the Ordinary. 

 

What is a calling? And how do you get one?

What is a calling and how do I get one?

I hang out with some crowds that are constantly asking themselves this:

“What am I called to?”

“what is my calling?”

“what if I miss my calling?”

and then there are the unspoken fears:

“what if my calling sucks?”

“what if I am bad at my calling?”

“what if my calling is a place with no good coffee???!”…oh that one is just me? Cool.

Dear friends, let’s take us take a deep corporate breath.

There are studies being done that have shown as a generation we feel that if we don’t “make it” by 25, we think we never will and we should give up.

I don’t know what “making it” means, but at 25 I was lost in Easter Europe trying to not get shot. I climbed not a single rung of the corporate ladder. I did not own anything besides my falling apart backpack, and my great-grandmothers wedding ring (which I am not sure how I didn’t lose that along the way). Not in a cool hippy I don’t care way, but more like a desperate attempt to answer: What is my calling? And please God don't let me fail it. 

I heard God’s voice, followed in obedience (more than less). I stormed brothels, and literally set the captives free.

Then I became a Mom who had to work through post-partum depression and a lot of avocado flavored vomit.

Did I lose my calling? Or was being a Mom my new calling? 

Do callings change? Do they ebb and flow? Is it to one country? One people group? One demographic?

Can one be un-called? Can one be double-called?

Oh the things to ponder.

Unless, that’s not how it works at all?

What if we are “called” to be reconciled in, through, and with Jesus? What if being who we are, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves is enough?

This requires much more work though then getting a people group, country, or area of the city “laid on your heart”. This requires the journey of knowing who you are. This takes time, energy, humility, and relationship to the one who crafted you with great purpose and care.

Hope and healing. That is what God has laid out for my life. I am to be Kimberly Brune, and I am to bring hope and healing (defined by God) wherever I go. Wherever I am. Wherever I am invited. Whether brothel, church group, speaking engagement, or coffee shops. I am called to be Kimberly.

My friend Mat likes to make fun of me saying my favorite part of bringing healing is the part where you must break bones in order to set them for proper healing. He is maybe not wrong. 

It’s who I am, regardless of where I am. The only difference is when I allow myself in either pride, insecurity, or some sort of self-diminishment, remove myself from those around me and try to be something else do I turn from my calling.

I am not perfect, a far cry from it (insert husband’s laughter here).

Over the years I have learned tools and new skills. I have grown in maturity (and hopefully to a level) grace. I have failed miserably and stood in amazing triumphs.

However, who I am called to be was always the same thing. Me. 

I have in varying degrees of success learned to let the Spirit of God lead me to the removal of the things blocking me from who I am created to be, not all, but what feels like a lot. I am more who I was created to be then 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago. I am more free to be who I am in the varying circumstances I find myself in. 

I know that God beckons, draws, and welcomes people to specific places, communities, and people, but that is not enough. That is a shadow of what being ‘called’ really is.

You matter. Who you are matters. Please act like you matter and discover who it is you are. In confidence and humility befitting someone who was made and crafted by a good God stand tall in your calling my friend, for it is for that purpose you were made. 

On behalf of humanity: Please be who you are called to be. 

p.s. if you know how to get peanut butter and avocado out of cotton, please let me know. I’m asking for a friend.

 

Love,

Kimberly

How to be Human: A guidebook #3

How to be human

A field guide: #3

What is our mandate as humanity? 

 

What is the difference between purpose and mandate?

If purpose is the “why”, then our God given mandate is the “how”.

In Genesis 2:15 (NASB) God gives us dominion of the creatures of the sea, air, and land. What does that mean?

A good, tri-unal God who is in perfect relationship created a way to extend that love beyond Himself.

 He did NOT create mindless robots to bend to His every whim. He created us, and then marked us with His image. With that He gave us some authority in and over this world. His given dominion is so remarkable, because unlike any other gods in History He delegated away authority and free will. He made us as co-rulers here on earth. Each one of us.

 Not some of us.

 Each human on earth.

 He gives us dominion and authority, and then teaches us how to do it well.

Our mandate was and still is: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and cultivate it”

This went beyond having lots of babies. Although babies are always a good thing, life is sacred.

But this mandate goes further. It is about creating cultures. We were meant to multiply, cross the world, and create diverse and beautiful cultures that represent and reveal our eternal God.

 

 With our mandate and our given authority and power we as humanity were to build families, communities, and nations that together committed to live in right relationship. With creativity we’d build beauty, order, and abundance that reflected the God who gave us life.

 

This is pertinent to the human experience. If we don’t know the how, we may float through life trying this and that but not understanding what it means for a job well done. If we think wealth building, the accumulation of power, or mere survival is what it means to be human we miss the epic, overarching theme of humanity.

That you were created with authority, power, and then given the mandate of culture building. You were given free will, so you can choose to ignore, marginalize, or abdicated this authority and role, but what would it look like if each human on earth engaged it?

 What would it mean if we all understood the importance of our lives as image bearers?

 

To know our purpose, and to engage our mandate is in large part what it means to be human.

 

 

 

How to be Human: A guidebook #2

How to be Human:

A guide book #2

What does it mean to be a being (Humanity specifically) that is made in the image and likeness of the God of the Universe?

What are the implications to us?

And if we are created for the purpose to BE Human, then what does that mean?

If we look at Genesis, throughout God’s narrative story, and modern Psychology, all signs point to one word: connection.

Children will die without human interaction. Without connection. 

There are a number of abhorrent studies to show us this. 

The human experience is desperately qualified by the ability to experience connection.

We were made in the image and likeness of a relational God and therefore we ourselves will reflect that to our very core. We crave connection, desire it, and due to the fall more often than not in our different ways, we hide from connection. 

How do we live our lives within this idea of connection and relationships? 

 I have recently written a book about God’s narrative story, particularly in light of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of a relational God. In the book I try and share my journey of understanding that our lives are made up of four relationships. Our relationship (or lack thereof) with the creator God, our relationship to ourselves, our relationship to humanity, and our relationship to this earth and all things in it. 

My book is reflecting more on the how, but today I wanted to think more on the “why”.

 When I am thinking about our need of connection, going as far as saying it’s one of the most basic expressions of our humanity, I am overwhelmed by the freedom that gives me personally, and unarms me of my desire to be good enough, as relationships and connection are not measurable in that way. They are a growing organism that change and flux with time, circumstance, and maturity. 

As I sat down to begin writing this, I thought, this could be fun and light. “A guide book to humanity” would be a funny title, because if you know me…well let’s just say I do not have it figured out. (I am sitting right now next to my three-year-old licking her book because “there are sparkles on it mama”, in yesterday’s workout clothes, trying to ignore the pile of dishes in my sink, and failing at not thinking about where my husband is right now (middle eastern country), and all the fear words that instinctively go through my head.

My job has taken me across the world, and what I’ve seen is that regardless where I am geographically there is a deep ache in humanity, an unexplainable craving of humans to be wanted, to be needed, to be connected. I see these desires, these deep groans inside of the church as well. The Church being the hands, feet, and mouth piece of Jesus here on earth, a family, a tribe, that is messy, beautiful, and often flawed. 

This is not a dig at the church. A “how dare you be imperfect!”. I would expect nothing less from a group of humans working through the effects of living in disorder. As followers of Jesus we are all flawed humans trying to figure out what it means to be followers of Jesus. 

But that I believe is one of the main problems. One of the greatest threats to trying to figure out how to be human is the desire to be more then human, thus crushing our ability to connect as humans. 

It’s a vicious cycle. 

 Here are some example of what I mean:

-I must be perfect. I must get it all done, and do it all with a smile on my face. My emotions are invalid. I must get through this with the fruits of the Spirit. It doesn’t matter that I feel crushed. It doesn’t matter that I feel pain. I must get this done, and I must do it all with the grace that is befitting a follower of Jesus. 

-I want to design sustainable buildings. I feel the creativity bursting in my veins, but I understand that is not good enough. I understand that _____ is what I should really be doing. I can’t tell anyone. For some reason I feel full of shame. I am bad for wanting this because there is so much more I should be doing. There are so many other people/things that need me. 

-They can’t know. It draws me. I want to look. I want to feel. The pictures, the movies, they make me feel. I feel wanted. I feel fulfilled. If only for a moment. I feel all those deep emotions, I want it all. I know it’s not real. I need to just get over it. I need to make sure it never happens again. No one can know, but I’ve got this under control. I haven’t for ___ weeks/hours/minutes. I just need to stop thinking about it. 

-I am not enough for them. They do not love me. I will never be pretty enough, smart enough, kind enough, have enough capacity, have enough money, have enough to give. I am not enough, and they all know it. 

These examples are people trying to be more then human. Thus rejecting the very connection that could remind them that they are human. And being human means even flawed are worthy of love and acceptance (due to the fact that their value is intrinsically wrapped in a God that does not change, because that’s who’s image they bear).

 Because you are made in the image and likeness of a creator God that is good, you hold intrinsic value. Your “humaness” makes you good enough without action or inaction. 

That level of value and importance is why the God of the Universe was willing to make himself as one of us. To make himself Human was a reflection of what great value we carry and the love He has for those He values.

He is a good God that created a reflection of Him. Not based on anything we’ve done/have not done is why we carry value. Rather God is a God who would only create something worth saving. He put His mark on us, as image bearers. 

We carry value because of that act, not our own. 

To live our lives trying to be more then human, is not more spiritual or more holy, it is in fact just the opposite. It is a lie (one of the original lies) that to be more then human is to be better or more then who we were created to be.

 We are created human, created in reflection of a relational God and a major implication of that is our drive, pursuit, need, craving for connection.

By the attempt at being more then human (or less then human maybe), each of these examples limits or outright rejects connection. Either by fear of rejection, fear of emotions, or fear of self, each one tried to shut off, or shut out the very thing that would have given them freedom: connection.

 By fearing our humanity, and trying to act above it, we limit our ability to function as humans, thus limiting our very purpose of existence. 

By limiting connection, we are limiting ourselves to living in “part” versus the ideal state, which is living in wholeness. 

The definition of wholeness here being the ability to function as a human. 

It is NOT perfection.

Perfection and wholeness are two wildly different expectations on our lives.

 One who lives for perfection will always avoid connection, because the deeper the connection, the more likely we are to barring our flaws that we work so hard to hide and fix. 

 Working towards wholeness is a process of allowing God to define our worth based on who He is, and allowing other people into the journey of the process. 

The process of learning how to let people in beyond what you have already figured out. Beyond what you have “perfected”. Beyond what we view as “good enough”. 

My deepest fear of disconnection is being imperfect in any relationship. I don’t care if you are the guy I buy my petrol from, or the person I look up to most in the world. If we meet I want you to feel:

a. Loved

b. Impressed by me

If I fail on either of those my natural tendency is not “I have failed” it is rather “I am a failure”. I have let me self-worth be so wrapped up in others view of me that the only thing I can do if I want to truly preserve this broken lie I have created for myself is lack of connection.

 If I am not truly connected to you, then I can’t let you down. I can’t fail you. 

If you don’t know my struggle, if I am able to become so disconnected from you, I am able to hide from what your rejection, anger, or indifference makes me feel. 

 It’s funny because my first desire is to make those around me feel loved. But instead of a love that is selfless, based on the value I see in you, it can so easily be twisted if I try and be more then human and desire recognition over connection.

 This is just one of my (many) struggles that I face while pursuing connection. But each step I take towards being more fully human, living in more wholeness, it becomes messier, more emotional, it calls for much more maturity, but I can actually breathe.

Each step I take, I can’t explain other than saying I actually feel more human.

Instead of perfection over my life, I seek growth.

It is earth shatteringly different.

I am in the journey to discovering more what it means to be human, what it means to follow a God who is Elohim (creator God), but also Jesus (Son of Man). 

 This God that created humanity, marked us with his image and likeness, and then regardless of our choices, still stepped into humanity as one of us to show us what it means to be a human once more.

 To live in fullness means we are functioning out of each relationship given to us, God, ourselves, humanity, and the earth. All those can only be lived in wholeness when you are connected back to the creator of them all. 

Why do we desire connection? Why do we seek recognition; the bastard of connection? Why do we hide from the very purpose of existence?

Because you were built to live life in open, caring, honest, growing relationships, and to live without is to live part human. 

To learn to connect or to re-connect is this incredibly beautiful process lead by partnering with Jesus, to allow our hearts, minds, bodies to be discipled by Him. To not fear our humanity, but to rather lean into the discomfort that so often accompanies this journey, to find the freedom, hope, and yes connection that comes on the other side.

“How to be human a field guide” is my attempt at communicating how and where that journey goes.

You are very welcome to come along. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be Human: A guide book #1

How to be human:

A guide book #1

 

What does it mean to be human?

Some would say:

“to worship God.”

Others may say:

“to enjoy life”

Some may argue:

“to do as much good as possible”

 

Before we can learn how to be something, we must first know what it is we are attempting to learn.

 

When I look to the Genesis story we saw that God made all of creation, and He called it good, or rather TOV. That’s Hebrew for: good (material value), beautiful, in the right order.

 

Then God did something. He created Humanity. Adam male, and Adam female. He created them in His image and in His likeness. He created them.

 

He then looked at all of creation with Humanities presence (being made in His own image) and He said:

“This is VERY TOV”.

This was perfect order.

 

Why is this so profound? Because I think we can stop right here for that grand question of:

“What is the purpose of life?”

The purpose of Humanity is that, to BE HUMAN.

 

What comes next is often called to cultural mandate, and we will talk more about that later. That is would argue is more of the ‘how’.

 

The why is to BE Human.

 

Then there was the fall.

It was the most epic of tragedies.

 

Here’s the thing about humanity is it is inseparably and intrinsically linked to who God is. For it is in His image and likeness we are created.

We are created in the image and likeness of the God of the Universe, and we are marked by Him.

 

We cannot know our own humanness without knowing the Creator God. For in Him we find our value, identity, and purpose.


What we lost in the fall was our ability to know Him. We lost sight of who we were created to be, for what purpose, and how to do that well.

These next posts are the unpacking of what we lost, and the how and why it can be found once more.

 

Cheers to the journey!

Thrive

Thriving.

We had some serious drama with the birth of our second wee one. She had a very rare blood disorder that nearly cost her life

During that time my family, community, and the larger church body stood with us. It was all it was meant to be. We were prayed for, people helped us financially, people met all of our practical needs, our oldest daughter was well cared for, in every way we needed and in many ways we didn’t know we needed the church, friends, and family stood with us.

One of these ways were my sisters put together a “go fund me” to raise money for all the mounting medical bills. On that go fund me page it was titled “Help Quinn THRIVE”.

Wow.

To be honest at the time I knew that was something really special, but I was drowning in huge emotions and exhaustion.

Now I see that it was not only prophetic, it was something I aspire to.

I don’t just want my babies to survive (although on lots of occasions that is the goal of the day), I don’t want them to merely succeed, or to get through life, but I want them to THRIVE.

I want them to be learners, to be constantly growing, I want for them to live life in fullness, to experience beauty, to accept and bestow grace and mercy to those in their lives, I want to find an unquenchable joy and for that joy to be a light in this world.

The title could have been “help Quinn survive”. That would have been absolutely acceptable because she was close to dying, but no rather than just surviving, I want my children to THRIVE.

This must start with them knowing their creator, because in Him they will know love Himself.

That is my prayer for my children, and yours too if you have them, that they will experience and respond to love, and grow with love in great intimacy, for from that place they will THRIVE.

They are coming...

Who is this meant for?

This is not a debate on a countries sovereignty to choose their border controls.

Nor is this a debate on whether or not refugees bring in the possibility of danger. I think common sense dictates that, try as we might, there could be individuals passing through borders with evil intent.

This is a question to the followers of Jesus who have headed the call to welcome/love/defend the lost the broken and the vulnerable.

This is a question to those who have looked to Jesus, looked at His example of His love for those His community hated.

Be it Samaritan, prostitute, thief, or oppressor.

This is a question to those who value their country and culture, but recognize their first citizenship is to the Kingdom of God to which all are welcome and invited into through Jesus.

You have condemned/spoken against those who looked at refugees and would deny them access.

You’ve posted/shared/tweeted your desire to see current refugees let in; some with greater grace and love then others.

My question and heart felt call is what now?

They are coming, that much is clear. Does your responsibility to reflect the love of Jesus end there?

Does your disbelief/anger/frustration/love that lead you to speak out so freely on social media going to spur you to greater love still?

Let us not leave this as just one more debated subject.

We have the world entering into our borders from places considered “unreached”. We have spent countless dollars/euros sending missionaries out to serve/love/and share a gospel of freedom, redemption, and love.

Now, that part of the world is coming to you.

Do you accept?

Do you accept the times we are in, do you accept the challenge/opportunity that is now at in our cities, coming to our communities, and at our doorstep?

Find your local refugee centers. Be the hands and feet. Teach English. Help them with the process of enrolling kids into school. Invite these displaced people into your home groups.

It won’t be easy. You are not their savior; but, if you are willing to love sacrificially you can show them the one who is.

#all lives matter

Photo Credit: Oliver Brune

Photo Credit: Oliver Brune

Why we do what we do


This is our reason and our vision:
Human trafficking is the buying and selling of individuals as commodities. There are upwards of 20.9 million slaves in the world today.
Slavery says that a person’s value is based on what profit the handler or trafficker is able to make from them. Using their body, health, and mind for profit maximization.
Oliver and I believe that a person has intrinsic value. That a person’s value is based on that they are created in the image and likeness of a creator God. Intristic, meaning inseparable. You cannot lose your value based on your action, thoughts, behaviors, or the choices inflicted upon you.
We believe that every individual holds this value, but because we live in a world where that value is not recognized there is terror, slavery, and brokenness.
Often we are asked how we can continue walking amongst so many hard things.
We have found hope and our hope will not be put to shame. We have found the hope that can stand up to a world that says the individual has no value unless they fall into a social grid of race, education, or social dominance.
We have found a hope strong enough to stand up for those who are exploited, those who are stuck in perpetual poverty, children who have families that won’t or can’t stand up for them, a hope for when the socially strong seek to destroy, manipulate, and marginalize the socially weak.
This hope we find through Jesus and His Kingdom that is both here and not yet.
Jesus, the Son of God came to earth fully human and fully God. He lived, died, rose again. He defeated death. He defeated the broken, selfish, exploitative ways this world was under siege by and showed us His Kingdom and invited us in.
His Kingdom of peace. He is the way to enter this Kingdom of peace and it is our calling as His followers to bring this Kingdom to the individual and the the nations; for it is the hope of nations and the individual both.
His Kingdom on earth. Gods will on earth as it is in Heaven.
A kingdom of joy instead of sadness. A Kingdom of healing for the individual and for culture. A Kingdom that says each person has value, that from the least to the greatest among us they are welcome to explore, heal, and grow through intimacy with the creator God.
This is not a passive Kingdom to enter. Our citizenship was bought at an epic price. Our welcoming into this Kingdom is because of the creator Gods grace alone. To enter into this Kingdom is to enter into intimacy with the creator Himself.
Relationship with the creator God is with a relationship with true love. That love is inspiring, passionate, full.
With the experience of that love one must begin to love the world where the creator God himself has loved to such an extent.
One must begin to love that world and want to see this Kingdom spread over that world. The deeper you know this creator God the more you begin to understand the hope that He and his Kingdom offers.
This is the hope that Oliver and I stand for. We stand in the hope of a Kingdom that heals the broken hearted, that heals culture, government, education, families, media, arts, entertianment, science.
This is why we do what we do. This is why we are willing to try new things, to fail, to explore new ways of bringing this Kingdom.
We have seen, heard, and experienced the worst of this world. We have been torn at, fought with, robbed, and abused, but our hope is not disappointed because we stand in the Kingdom of God and the hope that it offers this world.
We believe that each individual and each sphere of society can come under Gods Kingship and that this world can transform from ashes of brokenness to fullness, beauty, and restoration of value through the living God.
We don’t always get it right, but we are living out of intimacy with the living God to learn more about who He is, and we are actively seeking to bring that into this world.
There is hope for this world.
Thank you so much for partnering with us to explore what that means and taking an active role in bringing that hope to the individual and to the nations.

 

Photo Credit: Lee-Roy Bender

Photo Credit: Lee-Roy Bender