Risk Tests the Reality

Three short weeks from yesterday, Alison and our kids will be flying to Phoenix. Three short weeks from today, my father-in-law and I will follow them, he in a moving van pulling Ali’s car and me driving in mine. We will leave before the sun rises over Silicon Valley and arrive after it has set in the Valley of the Sun.

“Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief.” – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Already at the start of this new adventure, my faith and my beliefs are the target of gentle prodding.  Even in moments when I struggle, I believe the gospel of Jesus has given me the freedom to both wrestle and persevere.  That freedom doesn’t make the wrestling any less real or affective. That is why I feel blessed to know that we have a community around us who want to help, both in God’s name and not.

As we have shared our thoughts about this next season in our lives, Alison and I have been approached over and over again by our community about how they can help. Every night, she and I have talked and prayed about how to best answer this question.  Today, we felt like it was time to share the two most important things we believe are crucial to the success of our new adventure.

1. Would you consider praying with us and for us?
Our Scriptures tell us that because of the life and the work of Jesus on the cross, we can, and should, draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4v16). We know that the next five years will push us constantly to a place where we will need both. It already has. We want to hold firmly to his promise and we believe that God will give us the mercy and grace during that time to sustain us through those times. He already has. Would you be willing to pray with us? Specifically, we are asking for wisdom in future decisions, for work opportunities for Tony, for freedom from worry, for focus, endurance and hope.

2. Would you consider partnering with us financially?
We know that we cannot make this transition alone. When we look at it through the lens of what we are capable of doing it becomes easy for us to think about what we cannot do and stop there. But recently, we have been encouraged by friends to focus on what we can do. So now we’ll start there instead. While our ideal is for me to work part-time once we get to Phoenix, we’re going to do whatever it takes to make this schooling happen.  Finding a job will be one of my main priorities.  Taking care of my family remains a priority.

In the meantime, we are planning on selling nearly everything we can in the next three weeks to follow God’s call on our lives..  We will be having two large garage / moving sales on March 15 (7:00 am – 12:00 pm) and March 22 (6:00 am – 10:00 am). We will put stuff up on Craigslist. We will sell cookies, cupcakes, and muffins. Our goal is to raise $15,000.00. This will be enough to cover my program for the next two years as well as provide a small buffer in April as I look for part-time work.

This amount sounds like a lot and it looks crazy to see it written out but we’re excited about trying to make it happen. We have already raised $500.00 and our belief is that God has called us to this mission and so God will provide. We’ve even started a GroupFundMe account to help with all of our selling and fundraising.  Will you help us get the word out and consider financially partnering with us?

Frayed and Fragmented Threads

It is easy for me to write and talk about what I believe to be a sound theology concerning the sovereignty of God, about what it looks like for God to be a good and just King over everything in this world. It’s easy to say that Jesus is with me so long as I’m merely using that position to spout out niceties during a time of provision.

“It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?” – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Now that I am leading my family into the unknown with nothing but the voice of God calling out to me, there are times that I feel like the rope is being undone to reveal, beneath the fragmented, torn, and frayed pieces, the thread that is my faith.  But I suppose that is the point.  Only a real risks test the reality of a belief.  If that thread is Jesus, what else do I need?

We are preparing ourselves to test the reality of our beliefs. Will you join us?

CS Lewis Quote

Not for Comfort Alone

Last night, after selling our couches to some friends, Tony and I sat in the empty living room on the floor.  It felt good to have one less item to worry about packing but it also reminded us that we were packing.  It reminded us that we were leaving.  We have been telling our daughter, Soleil, that we are about to go on a big adventure and every day that passes makes it more and more real.

Tony saw this quote from Thomas Aquinas about a ship that continues to capture his imagination and thoughts and make sense of the feelings inside of him, which he started to share in A Ship is Safe in Harbor.  We believe that God is asking us to join Him so that He continue the work He has started in us.

“If the primary aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.”  –  Thomas Aquinas

For almost seven and a half years Tony and I have been married. Throughout our years we have talked about moving to different cities for lots of reasons.  I have always said no.   I am comfortable in San Jose.  I grew up here.  My family is still here.  My wonderful friends, whom I consider family, are here.  This is a wonderful valley to live in with green and trees all around, not to mention the beach an hour away from here.

But I’m not meant to live for comfort alone. I’m meant to live a full life of faith, hope and joy through the gift of salvation from Jesus.  God has brought me slowly and painfully to a place where I think less about my comfort and myself and more about being obedient to what I sense and believe God is asking me to do.   In less than a month we will be moving to Arizona and I can honestly say I’m excited! This alone is a testament to how God has softened and changed my heart over the past seven and a half years!

Instead of thinking of my comfort I think about God asking Tony to embrace his shape and to step forward in faithful obedience. I realize that only when Tony does that will he be ready to lead our family in the future, for whatever God has prepared for him and our family.  I realize he needs to go back to school to learn more deeply about God and strengthen what makes him, him!

Then I think about Tony’s family in Phoenix.  I think about MY mother-in-law.  I think about MY two brothers-in-law.  I think about MY niece.  Each day I think more about them and realize the immense love God has given me for them.  I love them no matter what!  They are MY family now and forevermore.  I will be there for my extended family in a way I have never been able to be so far.  I will be there in person.  Isn’t that what God did for us through Jesus?  I will get to live life with them. I will get to share my love and Jesus’ love for them because they don’t know the love that God has for them.

So maybe I have schooling to do in Arizona too.  Learning to love my family like Jesus loves people so that hopefully they see Jesus.  I won’t be going to a physical school or even going to an outside job. I will be working to cherish and raise up my children and love and support my husband with a home he hates to leave and longs to return to.

Please pray for us as we step out in faith as we go on an adventure that we both can learn to live not for comfort alone.

608px-Willem_van_de_Velde_II_-_Three_Ships_in_a_Gale

A Ship is Safe in Harbor

a ship is safe in harbor“But that is not what ships are built for.”
- John A. Shedd

This imagery has captured my imagination this year.  This imagery describes the hope that I have in Jesus.  This imagery expresses the feelings I have and the adventure my family and I are going to go on for the next five-six years.

I am pursuing my PhD.

I was accepted to a ThM program in Portland, OR at Western Seminary where I will write a thesis in preparation for a PhD program.  This first step will likely take a few years.  After this, I am applying to PhD programs around the world  in hopes of getting accepted.  If admitted, the PhD program  will take a few more years.  The next five to six years will be lived in unpredictability, newness, and adventure that will begin on April 1 in Phoenix, AZ.  Practically, this means a few things.

It means that my family and I are moving away from everything that is familiar.  It means that my wife is moving away from a place she’s lived her entire life.  It means that my children are moving away from where they were born.  It means that we are moving away from the dear and close friends we have made in the past eight years as a family.  It means moving away from a great job with great people.  It means moving for the sixth time in the seven years we have been married.  It means getting rid of stuff we cannot take with us.  It means moving to a new city with no job and no health insurance.  It means all of these things and a lot more.

Most importantly, it means that we are prayerfully acting on a conviction we have that this is the best decision for our entire family.  It means that we are learning what life looks like when we obey the convictions we have.

As we make preparations to take this next big step, we are finding that it feels like the dawn of a new day.  Everything that has happened has brought us to this place.  We have gone as far as we can go and we have made it as far as we are able.  Now we are being called further.  We are beckoned to head out onto the open sea, away from the shore, anchors pulled in, and sails let down.  Our hope is no longer on what we have built for ourselves but on what has been built for us.  It is this hope that we board, built on the love of God the Father, revealed through God the Son, and empowered by God the Holy Spirit.  On this hope we step forward into the unknown and dangerous future.

After all, a ship is safe in harbor but that is not what ships are built for.

An English Ship Lying to In a Gale - Willem van de Velde II

Coffee, Conversations, and a Yearning Humanity

coffee, conversations, and a yearning humanityThese past few months have kept me far busier than I want and have proven an obstacle to my writing.  No more.  I have decided I can take 15 minutes every now and then to share with you the amazing stories I see God writing around me, even in the midst of a busy work day.  I hope that these stories can create a small space in your day to pause and commune with the Author of all our stories and in doing so, encourage us as a community.

Coffee, Conversations, and a Yearning Humanity

It’s standard practice for me to find a coffee shop, grab a drink, and sit at a table with my headphones on, listening to artists like James Blake and Kid Koala, or remixes by Antiserium/Mayhem and Callisto while I plug away at objectives that I believe will move the mission of Jesus forward. Today, as I hunched over my computer, it seemed like another day in the coffee office.

But then an older gentleman sat down at the extra chair at my table here at Starbucks while he was waiting for his drink and signaled that he was not going to be there long. Normally I would have smiled, nodded, and plugged back away at work because that’s just the way I prefer to do life.

But not this time.

This time I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and I took my earphones off to ask him how he was doing. We chatted for less than five minutes.  He had just finished his dialysis treatment (goes three times a week). He was on his way home to fall asleep in his chair, a normative practice for him after dialysis, but had stopped at Starbucks for his son to get a drink because his son’s car was in the garage (shop).

He had four sons, all grown and out of the house. I asked him for words of wisdom on how to raise a boy, since I have an 11-month old son. He looked down while he shook his head, putting his hand up as if to say, “I have none.” After a minute, though, he  started sharing his thoughts with me as he kept his eyes closed.

“That’s a good age.  Enjoy them.  Enjoy them.  Take them to the park.  Let them run around.  Play ball with them.  I have four boys.  After work, when I got home, they would come up to me and ask me to go play.  I would take them to the park and we never played the same game.  We would run around for about 30 minutes before I was tired.  That’s a good age.  Enjoy them.”

Then he said good-bye and got up to leave with his son.  For reasons I don’t understand, that conversation affected my soul way deeper and moved me far more than I expected.  I’m introspective, so I’ll be thinking about this conversation all day long.  No doubt it will distract me from work at times.  But this is what is striking to me already.

A Yearning Humanity

We are a yearning humanity.  We yearn to engage with one another in a way that goes deeper than shallow “How are you?”s and “How about those Niners?”  We yearn to come together in a way that allows us to reflect on the lives we’ve lived so far and share with each other those thoughts that mean something.  We yearn to reminisce together, to live life together, to dream together.  We are a yearning humanity.

Stop believing the lies that you hear saying that people don’t care to share their lives.  Stop believing the deception that says asking anyone, a friend or a stranger, how they’re doing is invasive, thoughtless, unnecessary, or uncomfortable.  Stop believing the fallacy that people don’t want to discuss spiritual things or personal things.

I fool myself into thinking that the mission of Jesus can only be moved forward by completing the objectives I have created for myself.  The mission of Jesus will also be moved forward by the conversations I engage in every single day of my life.  And in yours.  The reason I can say this with confidence is because I have been shown that we are a yearning humanity.  Begin to have conversations instead of just having coffee.  Start seeing the stories that God is writing all around you and dare to draw yourself into them.  Our King Jesus does not just meet us on the pages of the Scriptures in which He has revealed Himself.  Our King Jesus is waiting to meet with us in the lives of the people who surround us every single day.

Let’s move the mission forward together.