When the Storyteller meets the Master Story

Stories have been a bit of theme for us over the last few years, we’ve worked to learn how to use them well as teaching tools, to weave our story into God’s grand story, to show others how to do the same. We’ve listened as we’ve made new friends and learned their stories, cherishing the moments when we are invited into their journey. We’ve learned a few things through these moments. We’ve come to discover that stories hold power. They hold power over the story teller, threatening to suffocate the soul if not shared with someone, somehow. They hold power over the listener, inviting a person into a place, a life that doesn’t belong to them. Stories have the power to release us from the chains of shame and fear. Stories have the power to inspire us, empower us, and allow us to be known.

I was reading a book recently and came across this quote about people sharing the hard stories of their lives:

The storyteller says, “This is my wound. This is what happened to me, and it’s important. It’s not important because I’m the only one who suffered. No. It’s important because I suffered and I’m important.” *

I stopped when read this, wondering at the simple truth represented here. When you listen to my hard stories, when you recognize that my pain is important, you recognize that I, as a person, am important. But the truth does not stop there. When you recognize that I am important and you can share a story that demonstrates that God, creator of the World, recognizes that I am important you provide hope. By accepting my story, you recognize me as a person. By sharing a story about God, presenting me with hope, you invite me into a story of hope far beyond my own story. My story has value, my story contributes to the whole story, but my story is not isolated or removed. My story is recognized, validated, and included in the storyline of life. I matter.

Perhaps this is the greatest reality in storytelling. We invite the simple stories of our individual lives to come face to face with the great story of the universe. The story of a God who sent his son to live among us, to suffer for us, and to provide the way for us to be reconciled to God, others, and ourselves. When we share the stories of God, we invite others to bring forth their stories and match it up with God’s story. We invite them to discover truth through the lives of others. We introduce others to God in a way a lecture, a theological debate, or a persuasive paper cannot. When we share stories, we share life. When we share life, we are a community. When we are a community, we discover truth together. When we discover truth, we live in freedom.

 

* In the Land of the Blue Burqas

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Religious Diversity, Teenage Hearts, and a lesson on Friendship

What do you notice when you first meet some one who is different from you? When you talk so to someone whose faith or values are different from your own? When you interact with someone who looks different than you? So often our minds are drawn first to the differences. Depending on who we are we, we use these differences to guide our mind in identifying the common places, to unearth the areas where a foundation of friendship might be lain or we highlight the difference because diversity is a part of what makes us tick and recognized differences with our friend is the spice of life in our eyes. Either way, difference becomes the center of our focus, we notice it, we expect it to impact our relationships and we act accordingly.

My perspective and thoughts about this were challenged the other day by a single, simple card written to a young girl living in Kenya. Chances are that this girl comes from a Christian background and looks like what you would expect a Kenyan to look. My young friend writing this card expressed her desire to be this girl’s friend–to both extent and receive friendship from this new acquaintance. Nothing out of the ordinary from our typical expectations of a 12 year old girl. Yet, my young friend is profoundly different on the outside than her hopeful new friend. She is not Kenyan, in fact, she is not even African. She is not Christian, in fact, she has been persecuted for her faith by Christians. Yet none of this was her primary focus. She was not ashamed of her differences, in fact, she introduced herself by them. She did not allow her differences to limit her ability to extend friendship to this new acquaintance. She did not see similarities and differences, but simply saw the possibility of having a new friend.

The next time I approach someone who is different, I hope this experience comes to my mind. I hope I am able to recognize the places where I see similarities and difference when I should simply see a new friend. I wonder if there are times when I guard my differences out of fear and desperately search for similarities to build up security in a relationship. When our focus is on the differences we could miss out on a great new friendship.

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Whatever Happened to the Luers Anyway?

Now, before you start assuming we dropped off into the pacific ocean upon arriving in San Diego or that I am the worst blogger on the planet (which might be true), let me assure that we are still here and are loving our new home. I wrote my last post a few days before we drove to San Diego (last November) and have officially failed to update it for over four months (so yes, I am the worst blogger on the planet). Here, then, is an update on our life in San Diego and the adventure we are still journeying on.

Once we got to San Diego, we spent a few days painting our new apartment before we moved in. It looks great and is a cozy space we love inviting people into. We live on a fairly busy street, only two blocks from a park. This means that lots of people walk past our house every day. The afternoon is especially busy. When its nice out (which is nearly every day), we get to leave our screen door open and let the fresh air, and voices of those walking past come in. As I sit on the couch in the afternoon, I can hear many languages, most of which I am still working to identify. I love it! Bree, our pup, seems to prefer Spanish–as in he walks to the door with his head cocked anytime someone walks past speaking Spanish. It is a treasure to live in such a diverse neighborhood!

We, along with our World Impact co-workers, are partnering with an organization called Bridge of Hope. It is a great place, full of loving people who are loving and caring for our neighborhood. We help hand out food at a weekly food distribution, we participate in leading a Youth Club (full of diverse teenagers) twice a month, and meet with others to pray each Wednesday. The group of people God has brought together to serve and love City Heights at Bridge of Hope is a cherished blessing. It is always amazing to watch the love of God spread out of a place and into a community though the hands and feet of those God has called.

My most favorite thing has been building relationships with those in the community. There are a few families in particular who live just a few blocks away that we get to see often. Sometimes, on their way to the park or home form school, the girls stick their face in our screen door and yell hello. Sometime, when I am walking past their apartment, they spot me and call me into their house. Sometimes, we bake cookies together. Sometimes we chat about life and the challenges of high school. Sometimes, they play (with reservations) with the dog. Sometimes, I feel like I have entered another country. Sometimes, I am sure they have the same feelings. Sometimes, they call me for rides. Sometimes, they call and pretend to their sister just to laugh and tease me and sometimes they call just to say hi and then hang up 30 seconds later. Sometimes, its hard to understand what they really want or need. Sometimes, it is clear how to best provide. Always, they are a joy to love and light in my day. Always, I pray they will know that they belong to God and that he has great purpose for their lives no matter their story or pain.

In the end, we are still here. We are making friends and finding our place in the city of San Diego. We are trying to adapt to being West Coasters (I wont tell you how many times we almost go East on the Freeway because we are trying to get to the ocean). We are learning how to live in a place where winter means a handful of rains and few nights in the 50’s (Hard life, right?). We have struggled with Christmas without snow and winter without my favorite sweaters. We have embraced the sunshine and the people. We are learning, everyday, to hear the voice of God and obey his directions.

We are journeying along in the adventure we have undertaken. My hope to more faithfully share with you all as the journey continues. We will see how I do.

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Hello, my name is…

Hello, my name is child of the one true King
I’ve been saved, I’ve been changed, I have been set free
“Amazing Grace” is the song I sing
Hello, my name is child of the one true King

Our teens this summer would belt out this chorus as they cleaned, washed dishes, held random dance parties, and sought to find their identity in Christ.  Mathew West begins this song, “Hello, my name is,” introducing the regrets, despair, and lies we believe.  We easily allow these lies to define us, even after we have sworn we would no longer listen.  But, as a child of the one true King, we have been set free.  We no longer need to believe the lies that tell us who we are or what we are.  We are defined by something more, something bigger than our mistakes and flaws.

For me, entering into new situations, new places, new roles sparks two opposite reactions. The first is the sense of grand adventure. The kind of excitement that spur me on, that make me long to follow my King head long into whatever the future may hold. The other is fear, fear that I will fail, that all the mistakes I made before will surface again. Like you, I fear that I will not be good enough or strong enough. I doubt that I am what this new adventure needs. And like our teens this summer, I must choose to belt out truth. Because, I am a child of the one true King. I have been saved, I have been changed, I have been set free! Therefore, I can boldly follow my King into the unknown and trust that he has given me what I need and will cultivate what I do not yet posses so that I am ready, able, and willing.  With my battle cry in place, I will march boldly into the future, facing what may come with those God has given me to serve alongside. Let the adventure begin!

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Journeying together

ImageWe spent the morning in Panera, enjoying breakfast and sharing conversation. Eventually, we got down to business and sat down to write our prayer letter, a monthly update for those supporting our ministry, we each had a few ideas, but neither of us was inspired enough to write the entire thing. We sat side by side in our booth, sharing the key board. Nate would type a sentence and then hit a road block, so I would take control of the keyboard and finish the thought, only not to know how to continue. In true team work style, we managed to get our heart on paper, to share with our friends and family what God has been showing us these last few weeks. I am sure to those sitting near us we were quiet comical, celebrating the moments when we were able to put our thoughts together well and laughing as we passed control of the keyboard back and forth, but to me, it was a illustration of something much bigger.

Our Journey is one we have the privilege to travel together. Yes, when we share the writing process literally, it is comical. But there is more to the story than that. As we have traveled across the country, leaving our well known home behind, we have embarked on a journey in every sense of the word. We have journeyed, pup in the back seat, across 6 state lines and will continue on across many more. We have journeyed into the unknown, knowing only that God was bringing us forward, together. And like our experience writing our prayer letter, when one of us runs out of ideas or struggles to express ourselves, the other is there to finish the thought. How exciting and encouraging to know that this journey is not something we must venture through alone, we are together.

Anyway, this morning brought me a smile and I will always cherish my journey buddy.

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New Adventures

We loaded up our car yesterday: clothes, snacks, air mattress, pump, shoes, water, bikes, dog food, dog crate, and the dog. The dog did an amazing job throughout the whole trip. Praise God! The adventures began, we made a last stop at Northern Lights (the coffee shop we had our first date :), and started to drive out to IN. God has richly blessed us with our time at camp over this last year. It has been a blessing to work along side Brian and Denies, to learn how to be a Program Director, and so many other memories. God has done so much in our lives just being at camp. But now we are moving on. We are so excited for what God has for us next. We get to spend the month of October in Colorado Springs before we head out to San Diego. During the time in Colorado Springs we are planning on working on building out support team and spending time preparing for what God has for us next. On top of those things I am really looking forward to is going on bike rides with my mom, even though I am sure she will blow me out of the water. With the change in altitude and the fact that she bikes more then me, I will try to survive and keep up with her. 

I guess that’s all I have. Glad to have the time at camp that I have been able too but also looking forward to what God has for us next. 

The End:)   

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Legacy

I have been purging, as well like to call it, all of the old files at camp. Our general motto, everything must go! And yes, by go, we mean be added to the ever present burn pile. As always, hidden away in the files I have found treasures. Treasures from throughout the ages. Some that make me laugh, some that make me cry, and some that still make me role my eyes. But, the word most on my mind is this–legacy.

Legacy is defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past”. Camp, then has passed down a legacy from one owner to the next. I stumbled upon fliers, old contracts, and notes from campers long ago. As I took it all, I was aware of a feeling of completeness, of satisfaction. For generations this has been a place where God has been made known. What a joy to participate in this legacy!

Not just the legacy of this place, but the legacy of my family. As I was pulling out files to be burned, I found the old prayer letters for all of those who have worked at HHC in the last 15 years or so. Of course, I couldn’t help but read a few before I sent them to their final resting place. As I read, I was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of our God. Yes, I was slightly embarrassed that my mom would share that I was a lonely 10 year old; yes, I smiled when I read the story of Rachel finding her lost blanket and what lessons my family learned from the experience; yes, my heart ached when I read through the letter where mom shared about Carol and David’s accident; yes, I was reminded of God’s constant provision when my parents shared the story of believers we’d never met before taking care of us when our car broke down on our trip cross country; yes, I cherished the faith of my little sister when I read the tail of mom losing her diamond in the kitchen and Rachel finding it, only to tell my dad she knew we would find it because she had prayed. I was reminded of friends from long ago. Enriched by the memories of the past, I have been reminded that my family is prof that God is faithful. That my life is a continuation of this legacy. That it is not just about the child of a missionary going into missions… It’s about a God continuing his legacy of faithfulness, his legacy of love and forgiveness. What a joy to be a part of this legacy!

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