No One Else will do it For You

There are things in this life you must do alone. These things always come with risk and demand from you, authenticity.

It is a job done singly because only you can journey to the depths of your being to find what is at the core. This is not another person’s job in the world. So don’t be waiting on anyone else.

It is risky because once you find what is at your core you will feel the burden to live it out loud, to bring it to life, to birth who you really are to the world.

Continue reading No One Else will do it For You

The Strength to Journey Far

You’ve been working hard. You’ve chosen how you will spend your time and your life and you are working to remain faithful.

But you may be getting tired.

Your steam may be running low.

In this case, it may be important to note the regular rhythms of work and passion and vision.

There are always times of cloud-shrouded uncertainty of task and days. This is really, really normal.

Continue reading The Strength to Journey Far

Changed by Uganda and the Lord

I’ve been personally challenged and changed during my time in Uganda. Three months is plenty of time to hear the heart and requests of many people to go to the next level of presence and ministry within the country.

Continue reading Changed by Uganda and the Lord

A Glad Heart

It is each of our responsibilities to nurture a glad heart within ourselves.

A glad heart is a barometer and its also a buffer.

A glad heart tells us when we are being true to ourselves or when we are not.

A glad heart is the oil of life that makes living sweet.

Without a glad heart we become brittle and even caustic.

Without a glad heart our words and our manner no longer bless others and our favour on earth becomes lost.

Everything begins to dry up and atrophy.

We want glad hearts.

We must nurture glad hearts.

First in ourselves, then in others.

This begins with the simple question, “What makes me glad?”

By what am I refreshed? Where do I find joy? How am I delighted?

Make your list – seriously.

Nurturing a glad heart requires a commitment on the one who owns the heart and it requires intentionality to care for said heart.

It’s not something you can be without this year.

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Open Doors

The Lord really began telling me about the work I was to do in the year 2000. And as I slowly came to believe and trust that this was indeed from God I entered into a process of waiting. Way back in 2002 I have in a journal entry, ‘the time is now, pray that the way would be opened.’ In 2004 another journal entry records, ‘pray that the doors would be opened for all over the world do I choose to use you.’ In 2008, ‘pray that the doors would be opened.’

And so I entered into the longing and the waiting and the praying alongside these directions of the Holy Spirit. I spent my time investing in my own inner healing and wholeness, for I knew that if these prophecies and the accompanying visions were true I would need to be a clean vessel for the Lord. Come forward to 2010 and our Capturing Courage team prayer times recorded, ‘pray that the doors would be opened.’

Well, the doors are open. Internationally speaking its been just over two years since the doors opened and we couldn’t now shut them if we wanted. I have invitations to 11 countries on three continents. Most of those countries have multiple invitations representing hundreds of churches and a number of Bible Schools.

The doors are so open that we cannot go through all of them at once. Most invites are followed by about 2 years of long-distance communication and relationship building before I ever arrive at that particular place,  and every time I do travel the invites become multiplied to that country.

The doors are so open that we have now entered into more waiting. I recently wrote about the power of longing (which is closely tied with waiting, you can read it here), and yet I hardly have the words to speak of the incredible investment made in the wait. I feel I am barely poking at the significance each time I write about it.

When I was young I was a ‘I’d like it yesterday thank-you very much’ kind of person. I like to say I’m a recovered driver-personality. I am now a firm believer of waiting and I encourage leaders and would-be-leaders to enter into waiting whole-heartedly and with faithfulness.

This duo of longing and waiting is in many, many ways the work. Really. Longing and waiting IS THE WORK. And I realize now when I travel and as I write and encourage and equip even over email and Facebook and phone calls that this is the harvest season for me. The multiplication of the waiting has already, and is still continuing, to take place.

All those years back then when I could hardly see my hand in front of my face for all the waiting on the Lord I was doing (many personal things as well as CCI), I never imagined that I was in fact and in that faithfulness doing the work. But I was. Today, we are simply reaping the harvest.

I’m so glad I didn’t go around the waiting. Thank-you Lord for keeping me faithful.

It’s interesting though that the ones closest in during those waiting years seem to have missed the significance of them. To them I was just going through difficulty and trial. Even the ones who knew of the visions and prophecies spoken over my life, even a few who did the prophesying, cannot believe it today.

And I think this is so true of all of us. We see waiting and we see the outward difficulties and we miss the work going on under the surface. We aren’t able to realize that faithfulness produces its own harvest. That staying the course alongside our Lord is an investment in great things to come. God looks at the heart after all, we on the other hand, seem to have trouble doing this.

Today, thought its a bit different, I am still waiting. Where will I go in 2014? I don’t know. I know my first trip will be back to Uganda, but when, what month? I don’t know. And I can’t know when I will know. What about the other places and people pressing in on my heart, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Burundi, Northern Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana?

Names I’ve come to love: Timothy, Ravi, Ravindra, Esther, Alex, Charagh, Philip, Michael, Caliph, Walter, Daniel, Innocent, Patrick, Elizabeth, John, Irene, Edward, Praise, Evan, Joyce, Victor, Whisky, Edison, June, Annet, Grace, Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Mildred, Swen, Pascal, Lydia, Scholastic, Geoffrey, Nicholas, Mehtab, Anthony, Peterson, Kigozi, David, Alex, Mamma Bosa, Edith, Aaron, Nelson, Godwin, Bena, Elijah, Paul, Nabeel, Mathias, Honey, Jacob, Anniebel, Stephen, Isabel, Daniel, Camota, Vologa, Huda, John, Dombay, Paul, Isaiah, Lino, Rui, Armando, Oondo, (please forgive me if I missed you).

I’m waiting on the Lord. It’s really hard work. Every day I bear the load of it and invest of the longing alongside it. Yet gladly and with great privilege.

Not for myself any longer, but for those that the Lord chooses to touch and heal and make glad. My job is to show up. The Lord does the rest.

What has become very amazing is that I’m not waiting alone. Weekly I receive emails and phone calls reminding me that they are waiting for me. Hundreds of people in multiple communities are praying and praying and praying for me to travel to where they are. How many full days and services have been set aside over the past couple years for the express purpose of praying for me and my journeying I have no idea. I just keep hearing about them.

It’s an amazing thing. And I get it now. I’m not the only one waiting. Rather, we wait together. And in this I am convinced that the compounding investment of our communal waiting will bring about the Kingdom of God in mighty and powerful transformations of lives and leaders and churches within the body of Christ.

We wait on you Father. Together.

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:15

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3

Amen and amen.

Stepping Out then In to Christmas

Some dozen or so years ago Christmas was a much embellished affair at my house. I’d always loved decorating and wrapping gifts just so (this is an understatement). But as the years went by and as the demands grew I found myself increasingly dissatisfied with what Christmas was becoming and my bondage to it.

The straw that broke the camels back was the year my ex and I took our five kids to the dollar store. Each child had their gift list of some 20plus family members that they were going to get a gift for, and then their friends on top of this.

Now, I must say that teaching our kids to give gifts instead of focussing on receiving them was one of the really great things we did. For many years the children rarely thought or voiced what Christmas might bring them, rather it was always about their gifts to other people.

So the year that we realized that the dollar store could facilitate this gift giving in a fairly economical way was a bit of a eureka. And I still have fond memories of children with a basket in hand trying to shop for their siblings and parents while all in the same store at the same time.

It was later at home that it all unravelled for me. The next day or so and just in time for Christmas I found myself helping five children over the course of some six hours wrap and keep straight 300 gifts!

This on top of all the food preparations for our Christmas Eve dinners. On top of the shopping for our own five children, “Oh I found another gift for so and so, and now we have to find one more gift for the others so that they are all equal…” And so on brought me to a ‘no more’ in my spirit.

I just couldn’t do it any longer. Christmas had become way out of control and I just wasn’t enjoying myself any longer.

To confound the difficulty my ex was making decisions that then required me to carry the brunt of the work (of those decisions) and I was toppling under the loads.

So I began extricating myself. The camels back was broken.

Needless to say I began dialling back on what I was willing to do and be part of. It was a slow process. And a hurtful process for my ex. He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t in agreement anymore to some of the things we had most been about at Christmas.

But I just couldn’t do it any longer. And so I began to make Christmas what I wanted it to be, what I could be glad for and what didn’t kill me each year.

And in that process I learned that it needn’t all be done. I learned in fact that nothing need be done at Christmas. I learned that Christmas happens first and foremost in my heart and that all the rest is simply expression and worship.

Since then till now, for some years to this point, early in December I find a deep peace and quiet and worship descending into my inner being. My soul is bathed in holiness as the Lord presses in close. This to me is the heart of Christmas and sets the table for whatever else the season may hold.

As I’ve refused the craziness peace floods in.

I decided that what I really wanted to do was to buy one gift for each of my children. Instead of keeping tabs on numbers and dollars spent between them all, I would instead take a leisurely afternoon shopping and find one gift for each one that I wanted to give them.

No more shopping lists that makes me feel like I’m at the grocery store. No more requests filled out like I am a vending machine. Don’t tell me what you want, I want to surprise you!

So, for Christmas each year I’m simply in charge of making the 20 lbs of mashed potatoes for our family dinner. One year I took scads of pictures.

I might buy a few gifts (but even these last two years I’ve not had the funds to even do this). I put up a small tree.

And I might do some Christmas cards, every three years or so perhaps.

And guess what. My children still know I love them. Family is still there to hang with. We still eat just fine.

Christmas is now a true expression of the freedom and grace that Jesus Christ came to give. No longer is it wrung through with ought and should and exhaustion.

Instead there is freedom for my children to come and go throughout the day. There is peace and comfort in just being. We always have a great meal that is spread between all of us in the making.

It simply works.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Longing

Longing, what do we do with it? That ache, the ache you carry, how do you carry it, honour it, invest it, live with it?

Longing is hard work.

So hard in fact that many shun the work. Many rush to fill longing with less-than options, with quick fixes and veneers that keep ache away.

I’m dealing with deep longing myself  these days. A strong, quiet, yet shouting-at-me ache.

I know others who are dealing with longing. Caught by an ache that as yet is unfulfilled but just won’t go away. There is no reprieve.

In fact, it grows stronger.

Longing seems to be a lost art form requiring honesty and recognition, faithfulness in the secret spaces of our souls and with great strength and courage.

Longing grows capacity deep within us. Before longing we have these ordinary hearts, ordinary lives, and while there is nothing wrong with ordinary its not always up to the hard task of longing and of aching.

Longing takes us beyond ourselves, beyond our normal, beyond our comfort, beyond anything we’ve ever known.

Longing only asks of us that we carry it. Like a woman pregnant an investment is made in the very core of our being that in turn affects everything else.

Longing demands to be recognized, acknowledged, reckoned with.

Once longing takes hold of us there is no turning back. Longing brings us to courage. It breaks us. It stands us on a sheer cliff where the only option is to keep standing. We will not jump but there is no way back.

For longing opens the soul and mind to possibilities we once never dreamed of. Where before we didn’t know what we didn’t know, now we’ve had a taste and we cannot un-know it.

Longing increases.

I myself once rushed to satisfy longing quick as a wink. I refused to remain in the longing, to taste the ache. Today, these last few years, I’ve come to see that longing is in fact an art-form. It’s a skill to hone and craft and grow.

And rushing to fill our longings won’t hone or craft or grow anything.

And in the rushing we deny longing. In the rushing we push away the work done in aching.

Yet all good things of this world have been set in place by someone who ached, by someone who longed and invested themselves in the hard work of that longing.

There are no instant transformations or freedoms or giftings. There are no miracle ministries or immediate fruit.

Everything we know has been preceded by someone willing to carry ache, to invest in longing, to bear the weight and the pain of it.

This work done in the secret spaces of our lives will reap a harvest at the appointed time. But we cannot rush it. Cannot force it. We simply must bear it.

Carry it well.

Surrender to it.

Allow it.

Come under it.

Let it change us.

What are you longing for today? What ache are you carrying?

Know today that there is nothing wrong with you. In fact, you are about as alive as they come. Longing is the seed-bed of profound things.

It all begins here.