Coming Soon

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the time has come to publish my book. I’m excited for today’s post, because I can finally share the cover with you! Live Your Story: Walking Out Your Identity and Purpose with the Master Storyteller is coming! Pre-orders will be announced soon, and I believe the books will be ready to ship within the next couple of months. Stay tuned!

Final cover

I am very excited to share Live Your Story with the world. It has been nearly seven years since I first felt God was asking me to share my story and the message of identity and purpose I have learned. It’s hard to believe the process is nearly completed and the book is happening. I never imagined myself having a book published, but God has made a way.

I pray that Live Your Story will impact lives for the kingdom of God despite its unlikely author. God often chooses the least likely people to accomplish His purposes.

Has God asked you to do anything that seems outside your abilities? Take a risk and say yes. It can be hard and scary, but it’s always worth it!

P.S. For those who will wonder: No, those are not my legs. 🙂

Advertisements

His Grace is Sufficient.

Yes, I am still alive! I have made it safely back to western Ireland, and I am getting settled back into my home. Of course, I don’t actually have a place to unpack yet, but I am remembering my way around town and beginning the search for housing again.

I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles for the next story from my adventure, so here goes…

Off we go...

Off we go…

As part of my trip, I met up with a dear friend to do some walking and praying along the coastal path in Somerset. The first day, we set out in the morning for a day of walking, and things were going pretty well for a bit. And then it started…

You see, nearly a year ago, I messed my knee up, and it has never quite recovered. I knew asking it to carry me for 10 miles in a day was a bit much, but I was NOT going to miss out on this chance to walk/hang out/pray with my friend whom I had not seen in years. For the first couple of miles, I barely felt anything, but by the half-way mark it was hurting a fair bit. As the trail got more difficult to navigate with my cloth sneakers and mud, my knee got more and more unhappy with the pressure it was under to keep me upright and moving forward.

We stopped for a late lunch and I began to pray about whether I should catch a bus back to our accommodation or finish the remaining 3 or so miles. I wanted to be wise, and not allow my pride to cause injury. As I prayed, I felt like I should finish the allotted miles for that day, and by the grace of God, I did.

By the time we arrived at the bus stop to await our chariot back to Minehead, I could barely walk. From my waist down to my toes on the right side, everything hurt with every step, but I made it. As I struggled through each step of those final miles, I prayed about the future of my walks with my friend. I had set out to walk with her nearly every day for a week, and that didn’t look likely at this point.

That’s when I realized a glaring omission in my planning and preparation. I hadn’t prayed about whether I was meant to embark on this walk in the first place. I am always in awe of the grace that God extends for the tough things as we follow Him, but what about when we step out on our own?

There is incredible strength to be found as we walk in His grace, but when we step outside of His calling, even for good things, we are moving in our own strength. Based on my experience during this walk, I can’t help but wonder how much of the joy that becomes our strength is the result of knowing that you’re doing as He has asked. Because I wasn’t convinced for much of that day that I was, in fact, following His direction for me, it seemed really difficult.

After praying, I decided to have a day to myself the next day, and my friend carried on walking without me. I spent time that day having fun in the pool, relaxing, and praying for my friend and about whether I should walk the next day or not. I realized during the time I spent listening to God that I was not called to change Britain by walking with my friend. My prayers might make a difference for the Kingdom of God on that island, and prayer never hurts, but I cannot take on the calling of someone else.

As I walked that first day, I was trying to walk in the calling that God has given to someone else, and it wasn’t working. The grace that she has for that journey does not extend to me because that calling does not extend to me, and grace follows calling.

Let me take a moment to clarify one thing. When I speak of grace in this context, I do not mean the Grace by which followers of Christ are saved. That Grace extends to anyone who will accept it, and there is no limit! The grace I am referring to is the supernatural strength to walk through difficulties. It is what the apostle Paul was referring to in 2 Corinthians 12:9. It is God’s power made perfect in weakness.

So, what was I called to do during that week I was spending with my friend? I was called to be a blessing to her, and the best way to bless her the following day was to join her on the journey again. With that realization came the knowledge that His grace would indeed be sufficient even though I wasn’t sure I could do another full day of walking.

Wait.  That doesn’t make sense… I’m called to do another full day of walking? How is that different from the first day? I’m doing the same thing…

Yes. I was putting one foot in front of the other, setting out for a day of walking that in many ways turned out to be more difficult than the first. There was more mud (ankle deep in places), bugs that left my ankles red, itchy, and inflamed for days, a lack of water that made me wonder if I would pass out, blisters that got infected, and a very close call with even making it back to our room that night… (We got to the bus stop 4 minutes after the last bus of the day was scheduled to depart. Thank God the bus was 5 minutes late!)

The difference that day was that I knew I was meant to be there, and I knew why. That knowledge brought joy that I was walking (literally) in what I was called to do for that moment, and that joy brought strength that carried me through every step, every tear. There is something very freeing and empowering about knowing that you are fulfilling your purpose, no matter how small it may seem in the grand scheme of things.

That second day wasn’t the last I spent walking with my friend either. The final day, we spent most of it walking on the beach, and it was wonderful! Oddly, though, that isn’t the day that first comes to mind when I think of my time walking with my friend along the West Somerset Coastal Path. That honor nearly always goes to the day that was beyond hard and yet filled with the knowledge that there was a purpose in the steps, and therefore a special grace on each one.

I think a lot about identity, calling, and purpose because the passion that God has put in me is to see others discover those things. This experience was another reminder of why that passion is so important. Knowing why we do what we do – and whether we are called to do it – can make all the difference in the world. Too often we see the things others are doing, and see no reason we shouldn’t join them in their endeavors.

We should all be praying and sharing our faith and trying to bring justice where it isn’t. The danger is trying to fill the role that God has given someone else because it seems noble or exciting or whatever else. Maybe we just don’t know what our calling is, and so it seems good to join in someone else’s. If God has not called us to walk that path, it is not our journey to walk, and the grace for those steps don’t extend to us.

Does that mean we should just stand still until we know which path is ours? No. Pray, seek wisdom, use your brain and work to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. Just do those things in God’s strength, and be open to hearing God say that isn’t your calling. Most people aren’t born knowing what they are called to do, and callings change sometimes with the seasons of life. Be aware of when the grace lifts or isn’t there to begin with, and let that be a clue that perhaps you aren’t called to that path.

We will all have difficulties along our path, but His grace is always sufficient!

Perspective

The weeks of travel have begun, and I must say God is taking my level of anticipation a bit higher each day. He is providing contacts, accommodations, transportation, and opportunities that I had not imagined.

Only a week into this adventure, and already, I cannot choose just one highlight. Each day has held a special moment or event or connection of some sort.

However, there is a moment that stands out in my mind as I think about the last week because it was a tangible fulfillment of God’s promises to me. I found a random photo of a sunset behind a little church to serve as my desktop background on my computer last year as I prepared to come here. It was my reminder that God had promised I would make my home on the Emerald Isle, at least for a time.

On Saturday, I took a bus from Belfast to the town of Downpatrick. A couple of miles outside that town is a beautiful little church, the same little church that has been at home on my computer screen for the last several months. This is my own photo of it.
??????????

I was so excited to see this little building that represented the promises of God to me for a while, but there was something far more interesting that I found when I got there….

DSCN3278

I don’t know how accurate the information on this sign is, as I have a sign from another church that claims it was where St. Patrick established a church. It is accepted that this is a likely spot for the beginnings of his ministry in Ireland, but honestly, who really knows the exact location?

What did strike me about this is that there was a church established in this locale nearly 13.5 centuries before my country was founded. Yes, I realize the land was there, and there were people living there. I’m not here to get into the politics surrounding the beginnings of what is now the United States of America. The reason I bring this up is that it once again gave me the perspective of how small I am in the grand scheme of things.

Somehow seeing buildings that are older than my country has a way of bringing into focus how relatively new the USA is in the annals of history. I know many people (both from the USA and not) who become so ethnocentric, so focused on the history, accomplishments or contributions of their own nation that they forget it is not the center of the globe, let alone the universe… I don’t often find myself thinking that way, but there is something about realizing how “young” the USA is that solidifies that acknowledgement.

In addition to the realization that the USA is young, I have a new appreciation for how big it is. In the past 2.5 weeks, I have been on the  coast at each side of this island – north, south, east and west. In fact, I looked it up, and to drive from the southwest side of the island to the northeast would likely take 7 hours or less. By contrast, driving from Seattle, WA to Miami, FL would take 48 hours or more…

These realizations combined could make one feel very insignificant. I am one person from a massive country that has been in existence a fraction of the time that buildings I’m seeing have been standing. And yet, I am feeling quite the opposite. In the midst of realizing how small I am, I have seen how BIG the story I have been invited into is.

As I travel and meet people and learn more about the men and women from centuries past, I am seeing more and more that they were incredible people. I am also reminded that they were still people. St. Patrick was an incredible fellow, and his story is fascinating – no matter what version of it I happen to read! 🙂 I believe the most significant thing about his story though, is the same thing that makes the heroes of faith from Hebrews 11 and throughout history stand out from the crowd…

He said yes to God.

He answered a call to serve God no matter the circumstances. He was willing when others questioned his sanity. He obeyed the God he knew and loved, and because of his obedience and love for God, the world is a different place today.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a man who once considered himself a Christian. During the hours after I met him, he explained to me why he no longer believes in the things he was taught as a child. As the conversation progressed he asked me why I believe we are here. I answered something along the lines of God wanting others with whom to share relationship.

While this man believes in an almighty being and creator, when I asked him the same question, his answer was something along the line of “to play our part”. I don’t have time to fully explain the conversation, and honestly, I’m not sure I would be able to if I did have time. Suffice it to say that in his mind, we are “cells” in the organism of earth, and we are here simply to do our part to keep the whole being healthy. (If I understood correctly in my sleep deprived state, the earth is also a part meant to work toward the health of the next level out which is the solar system, I think…)

Maybe I’m being picky, but that doesn’t seem to answer my question. If a creator was involved in the beginning of these systems within systems, what is the purpose of any of it. If each is only there to sustain the life of the greater system, why make the first system to begin with? What is the overall purpose? If I am meant only to be a cog in a wheel, I’d like to know what the purpose of the wheel is.

That story may seem out-of-place in a post about St. Patrick and old buildings, but in my mind they are connected. As I thought about what I might have said differently yesterday (had I had the chance to really say anything), I realized that all of this really is about perspective. The lens through which we see reality, God and ourselves makes a huge difference in how we live.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a cog in a wheel. My existence is not just a means of making some grand cosmic system function, and neither is yours! No matter how old or young, big or small your place of origin is, no matter what good or bad things have happened in your past, no matter how small you feel in the scheme of things, you have an important part to play in history.

God is the Almighty Creator, and He has a very good reason for knitting you together in the way He did. As you are in relationship with God, responding to Him, and willing to say yes, you, like St. Patrick, can be part of shaping history for centuries to come!

Why Am I Here?

The other night I was watching Castle with the couple I’m staying with, and an ongoing conversation between the main characters was the invite list for their wedding. At the end of the show, I jokingly said that my plan is to meet someone here in Ireland and get married here. Then I can invite lots of people, but likely have very few come.

My brain working the way it does, that simple comment started a chain-reaction of thoughts that ended up somewhere much different than where it began. Along the way, I began thinking about the fact that God has been speaking to me lately of His promises to bring someone along for me to do life with. (Obviously, I do life with or alongside a lot of people, but you know what I mean.)

I haven’t really talked about it much with too many people, but I have a feeling of anticipation for his arrival that I’ve not felt in a long time. That doesn’t mean that will happen during my time here, but it doesn’t mean it won’t either.

One reason I haven’t mentioned it much is that I don’t want people to get the idea that I am here looking for romance. For one thing, I wouldn’t be very smart if that’s the reason I flew over here on a one-way ticket. It wouldn’t make sense to move from a large country with perhaps tens of millions of men to choose from to an island where the total population is less than five million if a man is what I’m looking for. 🙂

So, as my train of thought continued, it was derailed – or at least held up – by a question; no, by THE question.

Why am I here?

Those words make up a question that most, if not all, people on earth have asked at one time or another. I have personally asked it many times, and part of my passion in life is to help others answer it for themselves. However, this time I’m not asking the big question of why I’m on the planet. This time, it’s the simple question of: why am I, right now, sitting in a house in Sligo, Ireland?

A man? No. I’m smarter than that.

Ministry? I don’t know. It’s easy to point at the “official” reason for my move, which is to help establish a missions training program.  Honestly, though, that’s not why I’m here either. God told me to come here before that program was even scheduled, and my reason for being here won’t cease to exist if that falls through for some reason.

God said? Yes. This is a great Sunday school answer for life, the universe and everything. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy says that answer is “42”, Sunday school says it’s Jesus. When in doubt, saying that God/Jesus asked you to do something is a great answer as to why you’re doing it. – There is, of course, the issue of those times when we’re blaming something on Him that was not His idea after all, but that’s a topic for another post, another day.

Despite the validity of the Sunday school answer, I have an issue with being here just because God said to come and He opened the door. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that this is the truth, and I’m beyond delighted that I’m here! The problem is I don’t know what to do. Granted I’ve only been here two weeks, but I’m beginning to feel restless.

I’ve accepted a couple of ministry opportunities. I’m working toward the establishment of the training program. I’m contacting people about housing options. But I know there is more… I feel like I’m on the edge of something huge, and I’ve had only glimpses so far. I’m impatient to see the whole picture and where I fit into it.

For now, though, I’ll have to just keep doing what I know to do, and trust that God will make things clear as I take each step with Him… Yay for another chance to trust Him in the midst of uncertainty and anticipation for the big things I can’t see yet! 🙂 I look forward to knowing the answer to the question that I know will be clearer in the days, weeks and months to come!