Welcome to my corner of the Web.
Poverty isn't always urban. How do we modify our strategies and services to reflect that? http://t.co/5jTLfKekwu #iamccda
@mink23 MIN! Your baseball glove is great. And I had a blast at my practice tonight. Super-pumped for my summer of games.
Softball practice for my first ever #dcsocialsports #zogsports. Boy this brings back memories! [pic]: http://t.co/PuK6Eddz4R
In D.C., parents miss work, lose jobs trying to get child-care subsidy http://t.co/q2rBvObipm
Celebrating with the DC @perspectivesWCM leadership team. A fruitful and fruit-filled semester! http://t.co/cKFa2nq8ww
Beauty school for former sex slaves http://t.co/Dfr49TbDTd #NCCswUSA #trafficking #freetheslaves #businessasmissions #iamccda
@hannahsmock @washingtonian DC is ranked as one of the top cities for newlyweds, according to http://t.co/DzUqGJ43So. http://t.co/giDrdWEmqS
But What About the Baby?: Raising the Next Generation of Philadelphia City Kids - http://t.co/oR4VgSKoZI via @nextcityorg
RT @colsonwhitehead: "How do I capture her attention? I have a sentence, maybe two." - Don Draper invents Twitter, 1968. #madmen
@paementoring Thank you for the re-tweet!
When it comes to ending violence against women @SirPatStew would like to "make it so." (via @Upworthy) http://t.co/2tAws3gGye
Nice addition to #Brookland's 12th Street AND they'll serve coffee in the AM! cc: @eknox_online @laineydel12 http://t.co/akzCwPDMq5
Guest Blog Post: Three Truths of Mentoring via @New_rhythm #mentoring #fostercare http://t.co/CcGfroPPhV
Why Christian Pastors Are Talking About Scandal in Church - Stacia L. Brown - The Atlantic http://t.co/niXVbidSEZ
You can also read this post over at The Bluevine Collective.
Saturday’s tragedy at the Indiana State Fair has given me pause. Like so many people across the country, my heart goes out to the families of those who died when the stage collapsed at the fairgrounds this weekend. One thing I didn’t expect — how difficult it is to hear the news from across the country.
On Saturday night, I spotted tweets from fellow Blueviner Matt Peyton. The tweets came in rapid succession – something about “victims sent to Wishard and Methodist hospitals.” Immediately, I knew something was wrong back in Indiana.
Later that evening, I watched live web coverage from one of Indianapolis’ TV stations. The journalist in me searched for details everywhere, including my social networks (which has a strong Indiana influence due to my four years at Butler University). Several college classmates posted statuses alerting everyone they were safe.
DC is not a typical lens from which to learn about current events. Politicos and other newsmakers “inside the beltway” saturate the media market. But since The Washington Post is also a national newspaper, there’s still some room to read headlines from beyond the capital. It pained me to see this piece of news treated like just a drop in the bucket of current events. Just another headline, another news brief – sometimes contained to a single sentence – and eventually archived.
I remember the thrill of seeing the Post cover Butler’s riveting basketball season this year. In DC, its always a conversation starter – a way to feel proud of my Midwestern roots even though I’m far away (“Yes, that MY school on the front of the sports section!”). But in today’s Sunday edition, I dreaded what I would find. I flipped to “national digest” and found the horrific photo of the stage collapse, and a 1-sentence caption.
The majority of DC’s population is transient and young. Conversations here always begin with “What do you do?” and eventually follow with, “Where are you from?” As I like to tell people about the DC crowd, “everyone is from everywhere.” In that sense, roots take on significance in DC because its one of the easiest ways to differentiate people one twenty-something from another.
The tragedy was another reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. A reminder of the importance of roots. Cities and towns help remind you of who you are, and how you’ve changed. I like to think Midwestern roots are stronger than most geographic ties.
Most impressive was the video footage of the Hoosiers who ran to lift the stage rigging off the trapped victims. Gov. Daniels said they “ran to the trouble, not from the trouble. That’s the character that we associate with our state.”
I may be in DC, but I’m proud to call myself a pseudo-Hoosier.
The final Harry Potter movie this weekend marks the end of era. I am part of the demographic the news is talking about this week -- the “Harry Potter generation”. I’ve devoured the books with each publication, and hurried to the theaters with each new movie. The movies painted a fantastic illustration of a world I’d imagined in my head, thanks to the captive words of J.K. Rowling.
But when I think of Harry Potter, I don’t think of Warner Brothers, or the theme park, or a multi-billion-dollar franchise. What I love most about the Harry Potter books is that it reminds me of my love of reading.
|Ready for the final film!|
One summer during my awkward “tween” years, I spent a week with my aunts in Michigan. One of the aunts told me about a book that had been on the bestseller’s list for weeks. “A boy named Harry,” she explained. “He’s a wizard.” I was intrigued.
That fall in Mrs. Carlson’s sixth grade literature class. I couldn’t wait for the first monthly Scholastic Reader, a paper-thin catalog showing the latest young adult books (I’d frequently circle my favorites books, and hope Mom would take the hint). It wasn’t long before Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone appeared in the pages of the Reader. I rushed home to ask Mom if I could order it. I guess you could say I was an “early adopter”.
At the end of the school year, Mrs. Carlson asked us to record our life goals. I - unabashedly - proclaimed I would read and collect the entire Harry Potter book series - I didn’t know how long it would take for all seven books to come out... An ambitious and scholarly goal for an eleven-year-old, I like to think.
I recently started re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Like the children in those books, a world like Narnia (or Hogwarts) can be re-visited even when the reader has “grown up.” Books make it possible for characters and worlds to keep living in the present, even when we have moved on.
Doris Nhan from the SmartBlog on Social Media writes about how Discovery's Gayle Weiswasser manages multiple social media accounts. The key point here - and also from my professional work experience - is that each account is unique and must be managed accordingly.
If God told you everything was going to turn out awesome, do you think you'll have to go through a lot of hard times? That's how Don Miller starts his talk at Catalyst.
Rob Bell earned a whole lot of press back in March with the release of his latest book, "Love Wins". Everyone - from pastors to atheists - seemed to be talking about it. Out of all the coverage, N.T. Wright makes a solid point: why focus so much on Hell, when we should be more focused on Heaven? If we're going to "cause a stir," let's do it in a way that glorifies God.
This came out of left field -- I had no idea that Butler Basketball Coach Stevens attended St. Luke's UMC in Indianapolis. (It's the same church that runs The Bluevine Collective blog). The Indianapolis Star wrote a really wonderful profile of Stevens that talks about his quiet faith.
I've been cleaning up my Google Reader, and in the process found two neat nonprofit association blogs, The Glamorous Life and The Hourglass Blog.
I think Beth Kanter posted this - it's the Security In-a-Box, a website to help you clean up your digital files (a really great resource for NGOs).
NPR Books has come out with a red-hot list for some cool summer reading. I've already added a few to my GoodReads.
Commencement addresses are wrapping up. I found an intriguing speech from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg ("The Women Of My Generation Blew It, So Equality Is Up To You"). She spoke to the women of Barnard College on May 17.
Web Finds: Dirty makeup
Web Finds: iPhone's big announcement
- Take risks, even ones that take you thousands of miles from home. It is as scary as it is rewarding - and that makes it worth the risk.
- Office culture is a balancing act.
- It IS possible to do much with few resources. Thanks to social media, this is more possible for nonprofits than ever before.
- Working for a small organization allows for greater opportunities - hiring interns, leading workshops -- but it also allows more opportunities to be humbled.
- Mistakes happen. Forgiving and flexible supervisors create employees who will be forgiving and flexible in their careers.
- Working with passionate people may mean longer hours; but at the end of the day, you’re working with passionate people - not robots.
I am struck by a few thoughts on the idea of giving:
- It is sacrificial. It asks for nothing in return.
- It provides the opportunity to reconnect with people you haven’t talk to.
- It is awe-inspiring. The anonymous donations floored me. Humbled me.
- It reinstated my belief of the power of the decentralized Internet. Even “loose” connections can bring together powerful change (Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s article - it’s an excellent read on social media and social change).
- God measures percentages, not amounts. Some of my closest friends (cash-strapped academics) gave just $10 donations. Those donations are just as important and meaningful as the largest amounts.
I think I have faith at least the size of a mustard seed. But, sometimes I doubt that I have faith at all. I want to take everything in my hands. Even knowing that giving it up to God will be much easier. I lack faith when I don’t see an end to a situation. I don’t really think that some people can actually be healed. I don’t know if I’ll have the outcome that I desire. I don’t know if I’ll be a good parent. I don’t know if God will provide. Then when I stop and realize that He’s done all of this for us before, I am relieved and humbled. And I know He’ll do it for us again.
But you know what? THIS was the end to the situation -- a pretty good end, in my opinion!
Thank you, dear friends and family. Thank you for giving. Thank you for reminding me that God is faithful, that God transforms us, especially when we’re not expecting it. Thank you Brad Ward, Lisa Massanisso, fellow storytellers Andy / Kristy / Teresa, Mom & Dad, Min Kim, Sara Bell, Rebeckah Reader, roommates Jaime & Jessie, Marianne Roszyk, Christina Lear, 2 anonymous donors, Sara Mollner, “my missionary” Helena, Aunt Lorene, Mrs. Kirsininkas, Erica Cribbs, Courtney Brode, Jessica Bowman, Cynthia Holtz, and JT.
Thank you for showing me that these kinds of risks are definitely worth taking!
A snowy, slushy path,
I give in to the elements.
A fury of flurries,
a silent downpour,
Gridlock hits the grid.
Trains jammed to capacity.
Gray shadows fill every street corner.
I am a character in a crowd in a silent film.
Basking in my helplessness.
Unable to stop weather.
At the whim of transit.
Much like resting in God.
Not scary, but gentle.
A submission to the Divine.
There is comfort in letting go,
In letting yourself get swept up
In His presence.
It requires patience, discomfort
But when the burden shifts to Him,
The traffic, the mess
Originally posted on The Bluevine Collective
Think about it like this: are you "all in"? Are you committed to the work of God - or just letting life pass you by? God wants all us of - not just the leftovers. It's like privacy settings on Facebook: God doesn't want to see your "limited profile," he wants to see EVERYTHING, even those pictures we're not proud of, or those not-so-glorifying wall posts. We need to hand over our time, money, and talent to worship him.
Some of my key takeaways:
- More than anything, God wants us to humble ourselves.
- Community is messy.
- We were born to take risks.
- Mess is inherent with spiritual growth.
- Whose mat do I carry? Who carries me?
- In everything we do, we must ask: is it for the glory of God?
I felt blessed to be in a room of 270 small group leaders at National Community Church, and we're growing. (Did you know Pastor Mark's vision is to have 20 locations by 2020?!) I love the leadership team at NCC - they're passionate, creative and DRIVEN. I feel blessed to be a part of it all.
This is my first post to kick off 2011.
I read Tim Schraeder’s blog last week, and I’m going to copy an idea of his here (thanks, Tim!) In his most recent post, he renounced the idea of making resolutions, and has opted to shape his entire year around a theme. I’m going to do the same thing.
I, too, dislike the idea of resolving to do something for a new year. Rather than simply posting a bucket list, I think a fitting theme for my year is DEPTH. (The K-LOVE radio hosts also blogged about the One Word For 2011 project; consider checking it out).
I’ve lived in D.C. for almost 8 months now (12 non-consecutive months, if you count my NPR internship last fall semester). I have spent the last four years in college with a ridiculous schedule -- and crazy and hectic as it was -- I do not miss the schedule. I want to learn more about myself and God’s role for me in my workplace, my city and in my relationships. This year, I’m all about going deep. I want to settle in, but not settle - if you catch my drift.
Here are a just a few ways I want to “go deep”:
1. Depth: Embracing life as a DC resident. DC is known for its transcience, its brevity. People constantly move in and out. But I love this city, and I want to explore it even more than I already have. For one thing, I'm contemplating getting a DC driver’s license. I'm making a bucket list of places I still want to see, or re-visit. This year, I'm hoping I'll host friends and family from out of town.
2. Depth: Committing to several groups and projects. I'm still finding my niche in the DC community. So far, I’ve discovered meetup groups, talented people in the news, non-profit and social media community that I'm learning a lot from. In January alone, I’m working on two projects: Spark and Social Justice Camp (If you live in DC, I warmly invite you to check out both events). I'm excited to see where I can make contributions to DC's civic, tech, blogging and/or faith communities.
3. Depth: Defining my professional goals. That's as much as I'll say. More to come in a future post.
4. Depth: Drawing closer to God. The last year-and-a-half has been really chaotic. I’ve lived in 6 different residences with 10 different women. Nearly overnight, I’ve switched from student-mode to full-time professional. See what I mean? Chaotic. But in the craziness, I have desperately needed routine, desperately needed to draw closer to God. The important thing is to give God the opportunity to draw close to me. Andy Pisciotti says in his post that letting God work through you
...removes all responsibility and temptation to take credit for his work, makes my motivations pure, and brings all of the glory directly to Him…exactly where it belongs. Don’t make the mistake of doing things for God without allowing Him to do things through you. As if God actually needed our work…
What if Jesus had been born in 2010 - amid viral videos, cloud computing and GPS capabilities? How would news of his birth spread? (I'm willing to bet the coming of Christ would have made CNN headlines, and trended on Twitter). Three cheers to this clever, modern take on the birth of our Savior!
It's the lack of conviction I want, of course. I was hoping for a mild, doubtful liberal, possibly a youngish woman, who would give a sermon about, say, asylum seekers and economic migrants, or maybe the National Lottery and greed, and then apologize for bringing up the subject of God. And somehow in the process I would be forgiven for my imperfections.
My hope for this book is that it will provide readers with a vivid portrait of evangelical hearts and minds to eclipse the old, broad caricatures; that people like me-people who bristle at public prayer or roll their eyes when someone asks if they've heard the Good News-might find in my book ways of accepting and connecting to Evangelicals.
With a soundtrack or without.
In a moment's realization or a daylong musing.
Tonight's Glee episode went beyond spirit fingers, and reached a whole new level of divinity. It took on a religion/spirituality theme. Among some of the song choices:
- A moving rendition of "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
- The surprising inclusion of "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from the lesser-known Streisand movie "Yentl"
- Obvious choices: REM's "Losing My Religion" and "What If God Was One Of Us?"
What I enjoyed most was watching all the #glee tweets. Tones across the spectrum of spirituality emerged. Some fans were outraged at the religious theme, while others thought it a refreshing turn from the brash Britney Spears-inspired episode. Still others remarked at the timing of the gay rights v. church debate, especially in light of last week's Tyler Clementi tragedy.
Here are a few tweets I pulled in from TweetChat.com:
Just watched "Glee." What a mature set of statements about religion. - @BrianStelter
Tonight's #Glee has confused me... What religion am I, what do I believe, do I like grilled cheeses? - @stevenfrombb10
Tina: "Last week we were too sexy, this week we're too religious. We can't win." Brittany: "Now I know how Miley feels." #Glee - @xmileyamazingx
Truly amazing episode of #Glee tonight. Very well written ep on a very touchy subject. Never expected that kind of show from#Glee. Thanks. - @longflyball
I do not have words for how atrocious the messaging was on#Glee tonight. #overit - @sionnan
Glee really isn't strictly a comedy and it certainly isn't a drama either... I believe #Glee is a new genre, It's unique and a special show. - @LeaGleeFans
So Kurt is a gaytheist too! Very cool.#glee #atheism #atheist” :: Yayyy us! :] - @seculagaytheist
When #Glee preformed "What If God Was One Of Us" I broke down and cried. And on that note, I'm going to bed noww. Goodnitee and God bless. - @taylorhalise
Glee is exploring the #god complex. is it due to #fox or something else? - @irobyn
I wish there were a separation between church and my TV. #glee #worstepisodeever - @icelandicody
"I don't believe in God, Dad, but I believe in you. " :/#Glee #makemecry - @nicoleelkington
- We can't understand history without understanding America's relationship with religion.
- The focus of this film is more about the public consciousness of religion at certain points in history (i.e. the Civil Rights movement, and the Puritan/Protestant clash).
- The film uses NYC actors, and even Michael Emerson, who plays "Ben" in the TV show Lost.
- In the coming years, how will America live with great religious diversity?
- The generational struggle with liberty is what keeps liberty alive with each generation.
- One debate is this: Was America founded on Christian principles, or founded on religious liberty?
- Thomas Jefferson is argued to be one of the "most secular" of the nation's founders.
- There is a trend in America's history to expand the sacred canopy. With each struggle (i.e. abolishing slavery, accepting Muslim Americans), there develops a great acceptance.
- There is only so much that can be portrayed in 6 hours. Scholars who contributed to this project, such as Stephen Prothero, admitted that scholars can continue to write, but film requires cuts and edits, which may not allow for full coverage of a particular topic or faith group.
Whenever someone asks me why I love Twitter, I’m initially at a loss of words (because I don’t know where to start!). But then I quickly recover, and my face lights up.
I love Twitter - among other social networks - because of what it represents. A friend described me, saying, “You like to network, but you go beyond that. You take joy in bringing people together.”
I see social media as one way to do that.
So many recent tech and business articles start out along the same lines: “Social media has drastically changed our culture...blah blah blah.” And that’s true. But I believe the social networks are uniquely placed to develop our spiritual growth. Because I believe - as Marshall McLuhan did - that the medium is the message. What if church was the blog - was the conversation - was the photo gallery - was the podcast?
Pastor Bruce Reyes-Chow is a great example. He’s a technophile, a prolific blogger. In fact, he believes in blogging as a spiritual practice. How ‘bout that? There are so many hands and feet of the church who are using the networks as additional limbs to reach others.
It breaks all boundaries. Social is open. A tweet has the power to spread like fire. A Facebook petition can mobilize and influence key legislation. Just like Gutenberg’s Bible made the Gospel available to peasants - just like the move away from all-Latin Catholic masses - just like Jesus made us a shortcut to get to God - social media gets to the heart of accessibility.
It builds relationships. I’ve formed new (in-person) relationships with folks I wouldn’t have otherwise known. God wants us to be in relationship with one another. Social media serves as an extension of - but certainly not replacement for - those relationships. A recent article from Inside Facebook describes how several different religious communities have developed an online presence that seeks to engage its members where there are most -- online.
It moves us towards authenticity. In the “old days” the Internet used to be a great place to hide out; anonymous identities could reign supreme. Defamation and libel tore across the Interwebs. And while some of that may still occur, online presence is becoming increasingly normalized. There is an expectation towards openness, honesty. If you make an error, you can quickly retract it (most of the time...). Privacy settings are great, but creating many accounts across the web, means authenticity is expected. Disqus is a fantastic example of this. It’s a commenting system that tracks your comments across the web. Friends and family often ask me how to “control” Facebook and limit what certain groups of friends can see. But doesn’t that sort of lose the whole point of social media? Doesn’t Jesus call us to live an authentic life? It’s hard to do that when you’re packing up certain parts of life for only certain people to see. We all need accountability and social media moves us, symbolically, towards that.
It is encouraging. My church’s current series is called “From Garden To City” which is a year-long bible reading plan. and it comes complete with a website that posts the daily reading, and often a blog post from a church leader reflecting on the passage. It’s amazing to wake up in the morning, do my reading, then hop and Twitter and see Pastor Joel tweeting his favorite passage, or my friend JT explaining what he learned from a verse in a Facebook note. Suddenly, the act of reading a bible has become 3-D and interactive. The daily discipline of cracking open the Word is no longer a solitary, linear activity.
All this said, I don’t want to claim that social media should in any way replace traditional forms of worship, or that social media doesn’t have its pitfalls -- it does. Social media can make us proud. It’s turned some everyday folks into Internet celebrities. Some people focus on how many “followers” or “fans” they can achieve. The constant stream of knowledge can be over-stimulating, when what we really need is some peace and quiet.
So balance is key. Like the famous Spiderman quote: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Some may think it a stretch, but I believe social media can bring me closer to others and even closer to God.
To learn more about Alpha, visit the NCC website, which includes a short promo video.
Several cups full of daily newspaper and broadcast types.
Teaspoon of Christian Science Monitor.
Teaspoon of Demand Media
Borrow ingredients from 143-year-old Washington Post and 1-month-old TBD
Directions: shred, dice, slice, puree, whir and blend.
Editor’s Note: Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to guest post for the New Rhythm Project as part of Foster Care Month. The New Rhythm Project is an organization that works to educate, communicate and facilitate local communities to care for orphaned and abused children across the globe. Read the full post.
“EveryONE can do ONE thing.”
It was a phrase that had echoed over and over in my head the past year. The first time I heard it was through a church small group led by New Rhythm founders Jason and Shelly Yost in fall 2011. The focus of the group was to learn about the magnitude of the orphan issue—there are an estimated 167 million orphans in the world—and learn how, as Christians, we can be part of the solution.
Through the book and discussion, I was initially overwhelmed. What could I, a young single professional, do to be part of the solution?
That’s when I remembered the phrase that kept coming back to me from small group: every ONE can do ONE thing. Since I don’t have the capacity to adopt, I knew one thing I did have was time, time to invest in someone else’s life. As it turned out, the “Orphanology” small group was the catalyst for me to become a mentor.
Together with three friends, I formed a girls mentoring club through a DC community center. Once a month, we gather together with middle school girls with one simple goal: have fun together.
It’s been a humbling process, and I’m certainly not an expert. But over the past year, I’ve realized a few basic things:
Mentoring requires flexibility and patience. Sometimes mentees don’t show up to an event on time. Sometimes an activity doesn’t go as planned. That’s where flexibility is absolutely key.
Mentoring takes time. My mentoring program asks for a one-year commitment. Why? Because one of the goals of mentoring is to build into a child’s life, consistently, over a period of time. With consistency comes deep relationship, trust, and friendship with the child.
Most of all, mentoring is fun. I have opportunities to be a kid again. Crafting? Yes! Silly sleepovers? I’m in. In its purest form, mentoring is about building a relationship with a child that is fun, supportive, and encouraging.
My hope and prayer is that the thousands of young people who live and work in DC, attend networking happy hours, and maybe walk through halls of power, would consider investing in the life of a child.
EveryONE can do ONE thing, however small. Maybe for you, mentoring is that thing.
Yesterday the news broke about Amanda Berry and several other young women trapped inside their captor’s home in Cleveland for nearly a decade. Thankfully, theirs is a happy ending in that they survived.
A story like this makes us ask: How did we not know? How could something so atrocious occur right under our noses?
I’m currently reading “The Slave Next Door” as I prepare for a stateside mission trip that will focus on the issue of human trafficking. The book, rich with anecdotes and backed up by research, is busting all kinds of myths I believed.
Here are just a few nuggets that have rocked my world:
Human trafficking is complicated. It encompasses a range of sub-issues, and it does not discriminate by age, gender, race or religion. There are housekeepers, migrant workers, immigrants, children, and teenagers who have been exploited and victimized.
Human trafficking happens here. It happens in the United States. In happens in Washington, D.C. In northern Virginia just last week, officials raided the home of a diplomat believed to be holding two women captive as unpaid housekeepers.
The way we prosecute human trafficking offenders is broken. We need to hold so many more people accountable — we need to bring the offenders to justice, instead of the victims. We need to provide better after-care for those who have been through the traumatic experience that is enslavement. We need to hold multinational corporations accountable for fair labor practices.
We need to change the way we talk about trafficking. And the change begins with us. We can be mindful of our rhetoric, cutting out words like “whore” and “pimp” from our dictionary. We can speak with our wallets, not bowing down to cheap products just because it saves us a few pennies. As Wendy McMahan wrote recently, “ignoring worker injustice won’t make it go away.” These small actions, together, can create greater awareness of trafficking and expose the shameful behavior of those who engage in it.
The bottom line is this: Human trafficking is about exerting control over another human being for profit, pleasure or power (and sometimes all three). It is another manifestation of our brokenness, and the broken world we live in. But God wants to restore that — if we are willing to work alongside him.
Check back here over the next month as I blog about trip preparations, how you can help, and further reflections on this devastating issue that I hope to shed some light on.
His message was refreshing – in a time when our generation wants a quick hit, be it a one-day service project or one night stand. We. want. it. now.
I was recently at a meeting to discuss the rec center in my neighborhood, the site of which is being proposed as a joint location for a new rec center and a new middle school. The room was tense: Parents wanted to ensure a good, safe school, and community members wanted a space they could still use without being hindered by school security issues. One gentleman in the room noted that he had fought for the original rec center over twenty years ago. He could have easily decided not to attend the meeting, knowing that he’d fought long and hard for the first community center. But he was there – despite the rain and the cold. He was there because it mattered. Because he wasn’t going down without a fight. Because he is a stakeholder.
When we have a stake in something, we are in it for the long haul.
Take the International Justice Mission, for example, which works to rescue people out of trafficking and bring justice to their captors. Haugen recounted the number of people it took to bring one trafficker to justice. He described long hours filled with lengthy legal paperwork, postage stamps and car rides. I wonder if this does not look so different from any given moment in my typical day.
If life is dotted with milestones, are there not also patient, enduring lines to connect those exciting dots?
If we are to be truly engaged in our church, our community, with our neighbors we must (a) be willing to commit the time to it, and (b) be okay with the long and boring parts. And, John Wesley warns, we must avoid burnout:
Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!
Serving is not sexy. It’s not always easy – not if you want to get into the weeds. Haugen’s message was a reminder that God is writing a story, and not every page will be an action scene.
If you get an opportunity to do something that only happens every four years, guess what: YOU DO IT.
It was my distinct joy to be part of the 2013 presidential inauguration – and not only just to stand in the crowds, but to witness it from the Capitol lawn. You couldn’t get any closer unless you were Katy Perry and John Mayer (who we DID see walk past our section en route to their seats).
It was the ideal scenario: A friend offered me an extra ticket to the green section on Sunday. I spent the night at her place on Capitol Hill (this was key!) so we could wake up early and brave the crowds on foot.
Afterwards, we celebrated at Good Stuff Eatery. Of course, I had to order the Prez Obama Burger. It was only fitting.
Cold? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Crazies? Bound to be at least one.
Worth it? Absolutely.
Monday reminded me why I cherish this city so much:
to walk where great leaders have walked.
to enjoy America’s front yard at book festivals, displays of human creativity, and film screenings.
and on Monday, to be a witness to history.Click to view slideshow.
Explore the scene outside the Capitol — and tag yourself in the crowd (The Washington Post)
How to pray for a president (Relevant)
Psalm 72: An inaugural prayer for President Obama (Urban Faith)
I started to make a list of the things I’ve learned this year. Many of them are quite practical: how to sew a button, how to unclog a toilet and how to swim (well, I re-learned that). But sometimes its harder to think about the life lessons that aren’t so easily put into words — things learned over longer periods of time, in moments of haste, and nuanced in between the work day, coffee dates, “real” dates and bus rides.
A few of these lessons came into rather clear focus lately. I’m so grateful for the clarity of mind, and for the people in my life to help me to see the bigger picture.
Manage your expectations; not everyone operates the same way you do. A few months ago I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (I’m an ENFJ in case you’re wondering). The assessment sorts people into one of sixteen personality combinations, which means that not everyone is an ENFJ — and thank goodness for that! Even though I have a way I prefer to do things, my house and workplace are so much more rich for the diversity of leadership, communication style and attitude. It also means I shouldn’t assume that everyone will approach things the same way that I do.
Life is a test of how well you can grapple with change. Some days, I feel like the Job of the Bible — bombarded with every piece of bad news possible, and then some. And like Job, it’s all too easy to become sarcastic, impatient and afraid. I still remember the bold, motivational poster seen often in grade school classrooms: “Life is 10% circumstance and 90% attitude.”
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.” – Charles Swindoll
I am encouraged when I realize that what I need in these instances in an attitude change in my heart. It’s a reminder that God is the one in control when everything in my life seem so chaotic.
Think before you speak; you’ll be grateful you did. The tongue is a double-edged sword; from it speaks words of death or of life, the Proverbs quip. A friend recently counseled to me: “You’re not required to give someone an immediate answer.” And yet I do. We do. It’s tempting to shoot off an email, hit “enter” into the G-chat box or blurt out a comment in person. But just because our culture and technology reward quick replies and instantaneous communication, it’s okay to pause. In some cases, it can mean the difference between a fight and cool-headed conversation. At the beginning of 2012, I decided that my word of the year would be “listen.” I originally thought that meant simply listening to others, but I think it also means thinking about my words before I speak them.
When you are sick, let others take care of you. I kicked off December with a nasty virus that kept me in bed for nearly a week. Being sick is no fun, but it’s a reminder of the value of friends. For stubborn folks, this can be a hard thing to accept – to rely on friends to shuttle you around, or re-stock your supply of chicken noodle soup. We are not meant to struggle through this life alone, and pride can get in the way. And let’s be honest, it’s nice to “have a little help from my friends,” especially if it means a temporary chauffeur, nurse and chef!
Bottom line: My ways are not always best. God is faithful in all circumstances. Words are powerful. Friends are friends for a reason.
What lessons have you learned lately? How have the people in your life helped give you clarity?
Last week I attended one of the most diverse gathering of Evangelicals, the annual CCDA conference — the Christian Community Development Association. I met dozens of people working in communities across the United States to bring reconciliation and peace to their neighborhoods. I also got learn during several workshops, like “Building church- and school-based partnerships” and “Toxic Charity.” It was encouraging to hear about what these community developers are doing “on the ground.” I especially appreciated the sound advice from the social media workshop.
In their presentation “What’s Tweeter?” Andrew Hoffman and Sarah Quezada didn’t just talk about shiny social media tools, but rather, they framed social media within the larger context of communications philosophies.
Andrew and Sarah are both part of the CCDA Emerging Leaders Cohort. Andrew is the one-man show at NeighborLink and Sarah handles operations (and the blog) for Mission Year. Both have found a way to maximize social media with limited resources, and to mobilize neighbors and interns near and far.
Their anecdotes explained how they have practically implemented core communications philosophies into their social strategy:
Relationships matter. Social media doesn’t replace traditional media; it’s a way to extend relationships, a way to dialogue until the next time you meet face to face. Ironically, Andrew and I met earlier in the day when one of our mutual friends (@monifree!) saw that we both posted photos from the CCDA conference onto Instagram. Andrew tweeted me, stopped by my booth, and then I attended his workshop. Voila!
What is my goal and purpose? Sarah has used social media for recruiting candidates into the Mission Year program — primarily because audience (young adults aged 18 – 29) are heavy social media users. She also leveraged a conversation with one of her blog readers to encourage her to apply to the Mission Year program.
What about development and fundraising? Andrew explained that he is using crowdfunding websites, like Kickstarter to hire employee #2, a Digital Storyteller. (In another CCDA social media workshop, Rev. Andy Bales explained how Union Rescue Mission raised a ton of money and leveraged the voice of a celebrity to keep Hope Gardens open).
Education and training via video. Content is not just sales all the time. What ELSE does your audience care about? Link to related your broader topic. Build yourself as a hub. Social media is about inviting people into it, and sharing content in unique ways that aren’t “sales-y.” (See above comment about the importance of video for fundraising!)
While this is not a comprehensive outline of their presentation, I found the above a good reminder that social media is not just an “extra” but rather, a core part of a communications strategy when implemented properly.
Read the tweet-by-tweet of the conference from @RedeemedRachel’s Storify account.
I know a lot of young, single people in DC who live alone. It’s not something I would choose, even if my paycheck allowed for it (no signs of that anytime soon).
Our generation continues to figure out what living out the twenties means (prolonged singleness, more travel, job exploration, etc.). But it shouldn’t be a lonely road. God doesn’t call us to solitude; he calls us to community. I believe we are called to explore our twenties in the context of friendship – leaning on one another for love, truth and support.
In DC, where so many people travel to live and work in the nation’s capital, friendship becomes paramount. It’s why Thanksgiving is so often referred to here as “Friendsgiving.” Friends truly become extended family.
We just wrapped up a series at church called “One Another.” I started asking myself, “In a circle of friends, what does it mean to biblically love one another?”
1. Friends extend grace to one another. Friendships – like family relationships – aren’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes I am cranky, and sometimes I forget to unload the dishwasher. For my own imperfections, I am reminded of the need to extend grace to others. I thank God that I have friends and roommates who show grace to me when I am frustrated or overwhelmed (Love your neighbor as yourself – Mark 12:31).
2. Friends honor and encourage one another. Pastor Mark suggests that encouragement is the very foundation of a relationship. Whether an extra smile, or a “thank you,” sometimes it’s the little things. Last week, my roommate left a pack of earplugs on my desk because she knows I’m easily awakened. It totally made my day.
A special note here on encouraging the opposite gender: I believe men have a responsibility to women (and vice versa) to encourage one other with honorable actions and behavior. It’s really another post for another time, but in word or in deed, we should never tear down, and always build up (Encourage one another, and build each other up. - 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ).
3. Friends hold one another to a higher standard. It’s easy to gloss over the tough stuff and pretend that everything is peachy-keen. But we also need to speak truth into one another’s lives – even if it is a truth that someone doesn’t want to hear. In fact, it is a sign of spiritual growth (Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4:15).
I am so thankful everyday for the friends who love and support me, for the friends who speak hard truths I may not want to hear, for friends who expect my very best — and then some — because that’s what God calls us to. For all the inconvenience and mess of community, it is also a picture of the Gospel.
PS: I encourage you – no pun intended – to listen to “The Art of Encouragement” sermon from National Community Church.
The NoMa-Trinidad neighborhood isn’t one of my regular hangouts, but on Saturday I was determined to investigate Union Market DC, just one week after it’s grand opening on August 8. I’d heard good things. Tasty things.
Union Market is just a portion of the area known as the Florida Avenue Market, or Capital City Market. Union Market was redeveloped as an attempt to bring in more than just wholesale buyers, but everyday folks (and foodies) — like me.
The Market creates a fresh, open feel with brightly-lit displays of fresh flowers, breads and produce. Patrons enjoy artisan coffee and wine tastings (I sipped a tasty huckleberry Italian soda at Rogue‘s stand).Click to view slideshow.
More coverage at:
- The Washington Post Capital Business Blog
- Borderstan’s Flickr page
- Capital City Market blog
There are so many approaches to community building and restoration. I got to see a few different methods in action when I visited Philadelphia earlier this month.
I can’t easily talk about what I actually did; it’s hard to put into words (you can also just skip down to the slideshow). The weekend trip was the idea of someone in my church small group, Steve. He had connected with the staff at an urban ministry called The Simple Way, started by Shane Claiborne. I first learned about Claiborne after reading his book The Irresistible Revolution which I highly recommend.
The staff at The Simple Way was wonderfully hospitable to us. It was phenomenal to see the ways they have engaged their neighbors, and created some beautiful things, such as a aquaponics systems , a shared garden, a community park and after-school programs. Gardens, by the way, are one method of fighting crime, as The American City pointed out in their recent article which highlight s a study on how urban gardens are connected to crime reduction.
While we did some work with The Simple Way staff, we also spent time with a few different churches and ministries in the neighborhood:
- Bethel Temple Community Baptist Church, a community church in the Kensington neighborhood
- Broad Street Ministry, a church in the downtown Philadelphia arts district
- New Jerusalem Now, an addiction recovery ministry in North Philly West
Photo Credits: Helene Scalliet, Ashley Bakelmun, Meg Biallas
This month I had the opportunity to contribute to Seedbed, the publishing arm of Asbury Theological Seminary. I was given the prompt, “What is like to live as a Christian in the nation’s capital?” Here are my thoughts.
Washington, D.C. is a city of paradoxes:
- A city that has been named one of the 10 most-educated (it’s No. 3, in case you’re wondering), is also burdened with a 50 percent graduation rate among high schoolers.
- The population named for the phrase “Chocolate City” is now in the minority, ever slowly being pushed to the edges of the District by new condo developments and posh dining.
- A city where more than three percent of its residents is infected with HIV, a rate that health experts deem an “epidemic”, is comparable to the infection rate of some developing countries.
It baffles me that one can live in a city so diverse, so rich with history and opportunities, and yet so many live a one-sided existence. Danny Harris is a perfect example of someone who realized this and decided to do something about it. Like many, he moved to DC for a government job and found himself in the organic grocery aisle, headphones in, yoga mat slung over his shoulder. An existential crisis set in: everyone in the store was doing the exact same thing. This lonely realization propelled him out of isolation and into his neighborhood. He started The People’s District, a blog dedicated to telling the stories of Washingtonians.
Like many, he moved to DC for a government job and found himself in the organic grocery aisle, headphones in, yoga mat slung over his shoulder. An existential crisis set in: everyone in the store was doing the exact same thing.
I see Harris’ blog as part of the toolkit of peacemaking, of bridging difference, of learning from and loving neighbors. While I speak from the perspective of a young professional in Washington, D.C., these two thoughts can apply to Christians living in community anywhere.