Category Archives: Life Matters

Just that one by Willow Weston

We just had an open house in our new office! (I will share some pictures in this post from it!) It was such a lovely turnout of people who came to celebrate with us God’s continued writing of the Collide story. It has been a story of God taking nothing and making something. It has been a story of God taking pain and writing redemption chapters. It has been a story of God using women to do things they never thought possible. It has been a story of basement to building, and now having a space to minister out of and call home.

One of the staff’s favorite part of the open house was the one woman who walked in unexpectedly. She works in the building we now share. She has no experience with Collide but knows some people who do. She walked in and we handed her a key, as we did everyone, and said “Welcome home.” She stood in our storage room so blessed by this sentiment. She was surrounded by people who have led worship, fundraised, cooked, guided women into counseling, led our mentoring program, painted beautiful art, shared their stories, and given of their money, all in the hopes to touch and impact lives at our events and gatherings. And here she stood with a key in hand and a “welcome home” because she wandered by and walked in.

I don’t know her story. I don’t know her pain. I don’t know her journey with Jesus. But I do know one thing, God cares about her life. If she would have been the only one who showed up to the open house, it would have been well worth it. She was supposed to be standing in our kitchen surrounded by all these Colliders.

I went home after the open house and as I was saying goodnight to my kid, he mentioned that he was pretty concerned about a friend at school who hasn’t been there in weeks. He said he has tried texting him to make sure he is okay. He asked me to do something. I have to admit, I was tired and it was late and what could I do anyway? I called my husband Rob in and expressed Aidan’s concern.

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy to write someone you barely know off as “Not your business” or “Someone else’s concern.” It’s easy to assume they are “fine” or someone else is “surely looking after them.” It was easy to approach this conversation with my son with this kind of laissez faire trust that someone else is doing something about the kid who hasn’t been to school in about a month. But there was something that rose out of Aidan’s gut. He had a passion and a fierceness about him that wouldn’t let his parents off the hook that easy.

Just that one.

You know what that is that was coming out of Aidan? It was an absolute determination that aligns with the heart of God. Just that one matters. That kid who hasn’t been to school, his life matters. And yes, maybe a teacher or a principal or a social worker or a family member has it figured out. But maybe they don’t. And his life matters enough for us to be certain.

God is a God who cares about just one. He will run until He is sweaty and wheezing to catch up to someone. He is called the Hound of heaven. He chases people down and stalks them like crazy. God isn’t going to be ok with one lost kid absent for days for who knows what reason. God loves all His kids. And when I immerse myself in the parable Jesus told in Luke 15 about what God would do for just one, I can’t help but wonder if Aidan’s inability to go to sleep at peace until he knew this kid was okay, isn’t how we all should be?

The one coin mattered so much to the woman, that she searched and swept to find it.

Only one sheep escaped. Still the shepherd has 99 others. 99. That’s 99 percent retention rate. That sounds pretty good to me. It’s not good enough for God. Jesus describes God like the Shepherd who leaves the 99 and goes out finding the one, because just that one matters.

The father waited while his lost son plundered his father’s wealth and turned his back on him. As soon as the father saw his son trudge back ashamed, the father ran like heck and bear hugged his son with all the love and grace He had within Him. The father could do nothing else but wait and watch in the hopes of that one son being welcomed home.

Just that one.

Welcoming people home is the business of God. That is what He is all about. He is a God who is always welcoming us home, wherever we have journeyed, whatever roads we have traveled, whatever choice led us down a dark alley, whatever victory found us on the peaks and whatever fall skinned our knees on the way back uo. If there is even one person who isn’t at home in your life, are you finding yourself like my husband and I making excuses and justifications why they will figure it out, why your voice and efforts won’t matter, why someone else will help? Or are you finding yourself unable to be at home within your own hear,t like Aidan, until you know they are safe, sound, taken care, and know they matter?

Perhaps chasing people down, handing them a key, welcoming them home to a space they can stay awhile, making it known you notice their absence, perhaps all these kinds of things are at the very heart of God. Perhaps they are the most spiritual things we can be up to and when we are, it is then that people who need it most, will know God always invites them home. And perhaps, when we enter into this kind of work we will be most at home, too.

I know what my family is doing this afternoon. We are being urged to do the work of making sure that even just one knows they matter. Let us all be inspired by a God who is not at home until we are. Let’s go hand out some keys.

Mary’s Garden

waiting

The first house Rob and I bought was a cute lil rambler that we fixed up and made our own. We stripped nasty wall paper off for days and painted all the pink walls a latte color. We painted our ugly gray cabinets a crisp white and Rob crafted a beautiful mantel that we placed pictures and candles on. We designed the backyard with parties in mind and built an arbor and stone pathways.  My aunt whose garden at the time should have been in Sunset magazine drove over from Eastern Washington with a car full of starts. We planted hostas and lilies and lavender all from her garden and then they flourished in ours. This was our first garden.

Years later after the birth of our first baby, the house and the garden with which we had greatly loved, now needed to be passed onto a new family as we were going to move into a house we had built. I will never forget meeting the family that fell in love with our first home. They had two boys our son’s age who were twins. And I thought I was busy! Just seeing this woman with double what I had on my hands, gave me great respect for her! The Moore’s had relocated to Bellingham and Mary loved gardening, so they fell in love with the place.

We had sweet memories in that home from unpacking all our wedding gifts to our first Christmas together to baby showers and then bringing Aidan home to his cheery yellow baby room that we had designed for him. But it was time for this new family to make it home sweet home and that they did.

morewaiting

We didn’t know each other well, but our boys were the same age and ended up going to kindergarten together and journeyed all throughout elementary school in the same community. Mary, the mother of those boys taught all our kids. I have never seen someone so involved in the education of not just her boys, but all of our children. I volunteered on occasion, but this woman who had once been a teacher, she was at school nearly every day reading with children, making homework packets, and doing crafty art projects. She invested hours and hours of her life into the kids’ lives. I admired her devotion, values, sacrifice and service and felt grateful to her for how she was blessing my kid and many others.

Just a year and a half ago Mary was diagnosed with an intense form of cancer. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t imagine how her husband was going to hold everything together as amazing as he is. How were the boys going to cope? How was she going to handle not being the amazing involved parent that she was? How would she navigate all the loss and sickness? How would she say goodbye?

I found myself at her house one Sunday afternoon with a group of people working in her yard. I was bent down on my knees in the dirt Rob and I had hauled by wheelbarrow years prior. I was weeding her garden beds and I knew which were weeds and which weren’t. I had helped form and shape the curves of those beds and I knew where the tulip bulbs were and the crocuses. I stood under the arbor and dead headed the climbing purple clematis. We did that day what Mary loved to do but was becoming no longer able.

Mary passed away last week. I think about her. I think about her love for her kids. I think about her love for gardening. When people talk about heaven they talk about it like it’s some cheesy place where everyone follows the rules and wears crowns and walks on streets of gold. Frankly I could give a rip if I ever wear a crown or walk streets made of valuable stone or hang out in a place where everyone looks the part. What I care about deep in my soul is a place that promises spring. It is currently fall and the summer flowers have wilted. The leaves have turned burnt orange and yellow and have fallen. The bulbs now wait underground. But spring is coming. Mary’s garden will bloom this next spring as a reminder to all of us of what is true in the physical realm that is also promised in the spiritual. I love that Jesus’ very life and death and life again were like that of the crocus. Gone to come again, popping up to peek out on some given sunny day. His very self reminds us of the power that God has over the physical realm, Him in whose very presence we hear “spring is a comin’. ”

I wait for spring. I wait for death after life. I wait for her to be reunited with her boys. I wait for healing after sickness. I wait for the light in our days after the endless march of a long dark winter. I wait for the promise of something good after something horrifically awful like cancer. I wait for them. I wait for me. I wait for you. I wait for spring. Heaven is spring unfolded forever where death has no sting and cancer has no hold, where redemption reunites boys with their mamas and the lilies bloom forever.

This fall, I wait for spring.

-Willow

so i wait for spring

The me and you that is enough

nathan wall 1

It’s been awhile since I have written here. I have been asked why and I had no answer as it was not on purpose. As I think about it perhaps I needed some filling before I could pour out. Perhaps I needed to listen before I could speak. Perhaps I needed to be before I do. Perhaps I was entering into what God invited me into…

I found myself in a counseling office recently surprised by something super high school that triggered something much deeper within me. I was almost mad at myself for having such a deep emotional response to something so seemingly stupid. I turned 40 this year. And at the age of 40, I think I would hope that when people act dumb, I won’t. I think I expect more from myself and when people hurt me with their ignorance or their games or their pursuits, I want to be that person that can just let it roll right off my back, like I don’t even care…

But I do.

And maybe that’s it. Maybe I care too much. Maybe I want too much. Maybe I hope for too much. Maybe I love people and want that love in return in places I shouldn’t. So when I feel like a pawn in a game of chess or disposable like just another thing to move one from, it hurts. But I don’t want it too. I want to be tough. I want to be apathetic. I want to move on and let people who hurt me be the pawns because then my strong response protects me. But I have never been able to muster up being that person. Because being that person robs me of the love I am called to.

So I sat in this office looking at his clock and his file cabinet and his candy jar and this counselor strikes something deep within in me. It goes a long, long, way back. It goes so far back that I find I don’t want to travel that many miles. And I don’t want to share it here because it cuts so deep and it’s too much. And I realize that this current experience was a trigger and this trigger was God’s invitation to a healing He wants to do within me. See, it isn’t as simple as we experience something hurtful and we feel lousy or get upset. What my counselor suggested was that we experience something that activates or triggers our own self belief that is already there and has been for a long time.

Awesome. So my self belief needs healing. And I could wallow or I could enter into what God has for me.

I said “Yes.” 

Sometimes, I think all we can do is say yes to what God has for us in the midst of pain and hurt. Yes, God I need Your healing and I want it. I wait on it. I am hungry for it.

I so lean into the Lord for His healing of my own self belief to be made more whole. I often live with this incessant voice that screams at me “You are not enough!” I don’t seem to be put together enough, magnetic enough, smart enough, graceful enough, educated enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, interesting enough, rich enough, sacrificial enough, spiritual enough, giving enough. I know I am not alone. I know that because I sit with you. We have coffee. We  go to parties together. We converse. We complain. We laugh. We tell story. We share meals. We work together. And we, often find ourselves living with this constant voice that wakes us out of our slumber into insomnia using it’s power to keep us up in the night playing out all that we haven’t done, all that we need to do, all that we are failing at. This voice it keeps us from our dreams. It tells us it isn’t possible, we don’t have what it takes. This darn voice tells us to run away when maybe we should come close. It is mean and it whispers and it screams and it hounds us. This voice is the very voice that has shaped our self belief for who knows how many years telling us we are not enough.

My heart and passion is that we would be a people who would say yes to God’s invitation toward healing and allow the painful triggers in our lives to awaken us to what it is about ourselves we have believed for far too long. Its time to hand those beliefs over and let God’s beliefs about us be bigger.

God loves you and that should be bigger than their absence.

God says you are wonderfully made and that should be bigger than the size of your jeans.

God rejoices over you in singing says scripture and that should be bigger than their words of disappointment.

God says you’re the apple of his eye according to the Psalmist and that should be bigger than not making the cut.

God will never leave you nor forsake you and that should be bigger than their abandonment.

I could keep going but I wont because you have dishes to do and bills to pay and coffee to drink and Downton Abbey to watch. But as you do those things, say YES with me to God’s invitation toward the you that is “enough”.

nathan wall2

Raising Compassion

compassion

We have partnered with an orphanage in Haiti over the years that we had a personal connection with as well as with a local ministry that does amazing things in our community for at risk youth. Both of those partnerships were founded before we had kids and Rob and I found ourselves recently wanting to invite our kids into engaging in helping other kids. We knew we wanted Compassion to be the recipient of that partnership and so I sort of came up with this plan.

And I am just being honest. The way I planned it in my head, was that I was going to call them to the dinner table and bring over two small bowls of rice and beans. They were going to look at the minuscule offerings and wonder where the roasted pork tenderloin, brussel sprouts with bacon, rolls and spinach salad were. These kids have grown up eating like prince and princesses rather than paupers. I was sure they would start grumbling and complaining and then we would look at them like “Realllllly?” It would be then that we would lead them to the couch to watch a few videos from Compassion about kids with real problems. Our kids would realize they are spoiled and that would last just long enough to be ok with the idea that maybe they should look outside themselves and help others.

This was how I was sure it would go down. And my certainty was dead wrong.

I called them to the table. It was November and during the month of November, our dinner prayers are written on leaves as we practice gratitude to God for whatever it is we are thankful for. Every night the kids take forrrrrevvvvvvverrrrr to write their thankfulness out. Rob and I sit over the waft of foodie deliciousness waiting to eat while they write novels. Sometimes Rob catches himself getting annoyed by their abundance of thanks because it takes soooo long. I laugh. This particular night was no different. They were thankful for family members, listing each name, dogs, sky, food, friends, rain, teachers, football, gymnastics, squirrels, God, tutors, you name it. After we shared our gratitude, I brought over the rice and beans. I stood there awaiting a response. They looked down and then looked up and then said it…. “Where is the silverware?” I said “We aren’t eating with silverware tonight because there are people who have no silverware.”  They said “What are we having?” I said, as planned, “Rice and beans.” And their response? “Yessssss! Rice and beans! We love rice and beans!”

compassion must be

Ok, so maybe that part didn’t go as planned. As we ate with our fingers, pinching our beans into the rice, we talked about kids who have little to eat if anything, kids who don’t know when they will get their next meal and our hope to be apart of changing that story. I told them we were going to sponsor a Compassion child that night and they were so excited! I asked them how they would feel about eating beans and rice once a month in honor of that kid and taking the money we would save by not eating meat and side dishes and putting that toward the feeding of our child. Aidan said passionately ”Once a month? Let’s do this at least 4 times a month!” Rob said this was poverty according to a foodie and I needed to make the beans and rice not so delicious, less garlic and herbs, he suggested so the kids groan more. Their zeal and excitement were surprising me, yet they weren’t being called to sacrifice much at that point.

There was great conversation that pushed the edges of our worldview into greater expanse. And to be true Rob had mentioned early on that when he went to India, he experienced that people ate with one hand and used the other to wipe. So of course there was a moment where Rob looked at Aidan and said “Dude you just used your wiper hand to grab your beans.” We laughed like crazy, but then we started talking about the toilet paper we take for granted. And God knows we need more toilet paper than normal when we eat beans.

We sat on the couch and listened to stories of real people in other countries and what they face on a daily basis. We saw them experience help, food, shelter, education and love because of people who began to care and give and invest in them through Compassion. We looked through the hundreds of names of kids in countries all across the globe that are in need. We finally found our girl. Her name is Mary Mbuvi. She lives in Kenya and is the cutest thing ever. She was born on our anniversary and lives in an area that is widely affected by AIDS. The kids wanted to sponsor her. We said “This costs $38 a month to help feed, cloth and educate her. What will you sacrifice?” They agreed to an amount that they would work for and give and we did as well. This was a really important moment as a family where, together, we made a decision to each sacrifice to collectively help this girl.

raise compassion

I realized some things that night with my family that I would like to share with yours.

We are called to raise compassion. 

You aren’t just born with compassion. Compassion comes from engaging other peoples stories and allowing them to hit you. Our kids had been called to have compassion on the playground, on mission trips, at home and with strangers many times before. This time was only different because it was in a land far away for a girl they have never met. Part of our job is to raise compassion within our kids. Compassion comes when we ask our kids to walk in other peoples shoes. Compassion comes when we don’t just shelter our kids from truth, but open their eyes to the hardship of other people’s experiences. Compassion comes when we ask our children what they can do about what they see, whether what they see is in their own school, their neighborhood or across the world.

Kids are more compassionate than we give them credit for.

My kids surprised me! They have so much to give! They were ready to care, to help, to sacrifice. They want to do more than this. They have talked about Mary everyday since sponsoring her. I think the surprise is not that my kids had compassion, but that I expected them not to.

The very definition of the word compassion is this: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Compassion is not just feeling badly for another, but doing something about it. What I didn’t give my kids credit for is that they would want to do something  if doing something was going to require sacrifice. It almost felt as if they responded with hearts that said “We have been waiting for you to ask of us what we know we have within us!” My job as a parent is to draw out what is already there.

We, as parents are often the cause of killing compassion.

We pad our kids with all the comforts they could ask for. Our idea of sacrifice is when we say no to buying candy in the grocery store. We ask little of our kids in the way of helping others. We pass hurting people everyday in front of our kids. We don’t like simplicity or rice and beans or sacrifice and so we ask it not of ourselves or our kids. The person having the hardest time at the table was not my kids, it was me.

If I want to raise compassion, then I need to have it indwell within me.  

I have a feeling if your family is not engaged in the pain of others and sacrificing to bring healing to that pain it is because you don’t want to sacrifice, you don’t want to have to slow down, you don’t want to have to give up, you don’t want to have to have your worldview expanded. Am I preaching? Yes….. to myself.

We raise compassion when we live it. That night at that table, my kids had compassion. We just finally awakened what was already there. The more I collide with Jesus, He awakens within me this deep sense of compassion for others and this deep awareness that I have a long way to go to live and breathe the kind of compassion He did.  I want Jesus to raise in me compassion so that I can raise it in my kids. As the Psalmist prays “Let your compassion come to me that I may live…” It is compassion within in me lived out that brings life, real life, both to me and those who receive it. So I pinch my beans and rice and I pray for Mary Mbuvi and let my kids teach me again and I keep running into Him, needing His compassion as I hope to hand it out to others.

I invite you to join our family in extending compassion and sponsor a child in need of help….

 

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

I am not a tourist attraction

 

bus tour

We had one day to see San Francisco on our vacation . We had so many things we wanted to cover from Alcatraz to the Italian district to riding a trolley car and going to Fisherman’s Wharf. As we surveyed the land, we thought, how will we ever do all this on foot? Parking is practically impossible there, according to the locals. Taxis will suck the money right out of your pocket. Walking will get you nowhere especially when you look up the famous crooked street and see how steep it is. We kept seeing these double decker bus convertible tours pass us by as we were trying to decide what to do. We hesitated because we didn’t want that cheesy tourist feeling, but we also wanted to really capture this city.

After making friends with strangers and asking their opinion, we decided to bite the bullet, cheese or not and pay for a tour of San Francisco. The way this particular tour worked was awesome because you could get on and off the bus in any area and a new bus came every 15 minutes. So you could say “Hey- lets go to Haight and Ashbury for awhile.” And that we did. We stopped in that lil’ hippy block and enjoyed a dirty dive for lunch, the kind where you feel like you need to wash your hands afterwards. We had quirky soda pops that you place in what looked like dry ice for 5 minutes and the pop becomes cool and refreshing with flavors like ginger, pineapple and chocolate. We saw tattoos we have never seen and smelled a lot of Mary Jane.

bus

We got back on the bus and then off to go see where Kate and Ashley made their start. I actually never watched the show, so I was unimpressed with the grandeur of some twins who used to film there. Though the view was very “San Francisco”. We also stopped at the amazing Golden Gate park and went to an incredible museum and visited the planetarium and saw amazing fish of all kinds. We experienced an artificial earthquake that was more like a ride Disneyland would cruelly make you wait a half hour for.

We visited the Italian district and it was enough to make me claim (falsely) I am, indeed italian. I wanted a cappuccino and biscotti, lasagna and a fancy dress with red lipstick. I didn’t get any of those things. But I wanted them and I wanted to go into this beautiful cathedral and pray the rosary. I’ve never prayed the rosary, but this place peaks your curiosity about the rich prayers of the saints.

cathedral

We stopped in China town and our kids got lured by store owners asking them to come in and get a souvenir. There were American flag spandex leggings for only 5 bucks. I was tempted. Everyone knows how hot my thighs would look in those bad boys. We saw a lot of jade and wind up toys that looked like sushi and fancy flip flops that would break your ankles. We walked under the red lanterns and heard foreign tongues and smelled smells that woke our senses.

There were so many places we got to see in such a short time. This bus tour had different guides on different buses. Our first tour guide was a guy who had Rob and I laughing out loud. He made a lot of jokes about losing girlfriends because of his love for grunge music. One girl dumped him because he loved Pearl Jam more than her. I resonated. I think I love Pearl Jam more than most of my exes too. These guides were cheesy, informative and always pointed our view to the right or the left causing us to see and understand some new corner of this city.

We got on the bus and a woman guide was speaking into her microphone, which by the way echoed out onto the streets with passerby’s hearing whatever was being said. We drove through the Financial District and then on into the not so wealthy part. This tour guide was pointing out the impoverished neighborhood. She was sharing the dismal statistics of people who live there and the huge population of homeless people here in this part of San francisco. As she is beaming this out on her microphone loudly. I looked over the side of this topless bus and there are people lying there in their sleeping bags on the sidewalks. There were friends sitting with friends sharing some food they had been given… Some shooting up, some smoking, some just staring up at us. And I saw this lady keeping stride with the bus. She had short blond hair and dark black eye makeup. She was stocky and mad. She was making the international “I’m gonna cut your throat.” sign. The one where you take your flat hand and motion it back and forth across your adams apple to tell people to shut up. I saw her anger. I saw her being a voice for her people. It was like she said, “ I am not a tourist attraction and neither is my pain or my poverty! Stop!”

i am not to be gawked at

This was one of those moments where you see how we work. We, as in many middle class, rich americans. We pay with our extra “vacation” dollars to hop on some tour bus to see the sights and the next thing you know we don’t even think twice that the sights are now poor people. It is like we are at a zoo and we are staring down at them like they are monkeys or polar bears. “Wow, look at the animals. Look what they do. Look at how different they are than us. Look how they lie on that rock in the shade hiding from the hot sun.”

What do you think that sounds like to a homeless person who has lost everything including their dignity to hear tour guides all day long gawk at their poverty like its a tourist attraction? “Well folks, we have now landed in what is the poorest part of San Francisco… home to hundreds of homeless people. People who choose to be homeless,” says the guide. “They don’t want to work because the system works for them. The crime here is crazy and you wouldn’t want to walk around here at night because it is unsaaafe.”

How would the homeless people feel hearing this? They would hear things like: You are a statistic to me. You are something to avoid. You are dangerous. You are what makes this place unattractive. You are one to take pictures of, an object, but not a person. You are an attraction to drive through but never be. You are the one stop no one gets off for on this bus.

get off the bus

I mean I could keep going on. I wanted to scream at this tour guide! Stop! Just stop! Enough already! I understood why the lady was motioning the slit throat sign. These words held people down. They told people what they already believe: that their lives matter little.

People in pain and poverty are not tourist attractions. DO not gawk at them. DO not stare. DO not take pictures of them. DO not drive by them like they are a statistic, a thing.

There is this guy where I live who has stood on the same corner with the same cardboard sign for like a decade. And he waits and he hopes that people will give him what he needs. When I get stopped at his light, because it is his light, I observe people. And ordinary people, most of them, their cars are right next to his body and they look straight ahead as if he is not there, like you would a stop sign. You don’t look to your right and wave at a stop sign. But this man is not a stop sign. He is a human being. He is God’s creation. He is a child. He is a father. He is a brother, He is a friend.

Why don’t you look him in the eyes and if you insist that you will not give him money because you know “he will go buy alcohol with it” then give him the right to be a human being. Look at him and give him your biggest smile and wave. He is not a thing. He is not a monument of poverty. He is not a neighborhood that is bad. He is not a zoo animal. He is not a tourist attraction. And he is not a scary monster. Don’t worry, your smile won’t make him bust through your window and grab your wallet and your body and drag you into the bushes where your entire story ends. No, your great big smile might just say, “you matter.” Heaven forbid, if we cannot pull that off.

Ok, fine I went off. But we have got to understand these people are not tourist attractions. They are stories. Every homeless person I have ever had the privilege of spending time with has a story. And their story doesn’t find them there simply because they are wild animals or lazy. They are people in pain, people with wounds that need healing, people who have been abandoned. Do not drive through them like they are one spot on your way to somewhere cool.

financialtour

Jesus might actually puke in his mouth if you do this. Am I using strong language? Yes, I am. Jesus would stop and touch people no one else would touch. Jesus would care if people needed food. He fed the five thousand because he was concerned they would be hungry and miss a meal, one meal. You don’t follow Jesus so He can make you rich, you follow him and He will make you care about the poor. Jesus called the rich young ruler to give everything he had to the poor and then come follow Him. I  always imagine that Jesus had in mind the poor when he called for such a sacrificial move. But the rich man could only think of himself. Jesus told the story, the famous one, about the Good Samaritan. And how many people, religious people walked by the hurting man on the other side of the road, as far away as they could get, to pass him by? Too many. Jesus commended the one who went and helped the man whose circumstance left him there to die. So, this Jesus we talk about, how is it that we call ourselves his followers, yet we tour past poor people in pain as if they are nothing to us?

streetview

I am not a tourist attraction. Perhaps, a life on vacation or not, that lives like Christ would get off the tour bus and step foot into the scary places. Perhaps we should get off our high bus and go eat lunch on their sleeping bags. Perhaps we should ask them questions and actually be curious about their lives. Perhaps we should take tours of their lives and what journey brought them to this place. Perhaps, we should treat them as we want to be treated, with notice, care, respect, dignity, and love. Perhaps, we should realize we are standing in their living room, not our vacation destination. Next time you pass by someone in pain and poverty, take note. Look at your body language. What stereotypes are you handing out? What assumptions are you making? How nervous and fearful are you? Do you hide behind your sunglasses and act like you don’t see them? That is not a tourist attraction, a road sign or a monster, that is someone’s child.      God’s.

If you want more blabber from a woman who wants to be Italian and loves Pearl Jam and keeps colliding with Jesus and it’s wrecking her life (in a good way)…subscribe to get these yammerings by entering your email address in the box on the right:) – Willow

it takes a village to change a villager

At a Collide event this winter, I walked up to a girl who had been invited by a friend from AA. I introduced myself and said “How are you doin’?” She said “Not good”, but then she giggled. I wasn’t sure if she was kidding or serious so I probed a bit more. She said she had few panic attacks that day and that she wasn’t into the whole God thing. But then she looked at me almost stumped and said “But I don’t know what just happened to me. I met that blond lady who taught my breakout session…whats her name? Whatever just happened for some crazy reason I just agreed to let her pick me up and take me to church tomorrow.”  I said “I know what just happened to you. God is about to change your life.” She laughed like crazy. She looked as if she was dizzy and shocked, like she herself couldn’t believe it. And low and behold I saw her at church the next day.

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I met with that woman a few weeks ago for coffee. The story that led her to walk in those doors broke my heart. Her mother was an addict and gave her up when she was 5 years old. She lived in foster home after foster home after foster home and then herself became an addict and married an abusive addict. She was sent to a clean and sober house in far far away from where she lived to break the chains of an abusive marriage and a nasty addiction. She came here to start a new life. We sat over coffee and laughed and she shared deeply. When she walked into Collide she laughs telling the story, she jokes saying her friend tricked her. She assumed she was coming to an AA meeting and all of sudden she was sitting in these pews hearing about God. God had always been a vengeful, angry mad man who in her words “who will cash you into hell like that.” Who needs another abusive man anyway, I thought?

This girl has never had a sense of family. She said “I don’t know how to swim, I have never gone on vacation or done basic things other people get to.” She was describing her life and was quite scared because she was just told before we met that her housing allowance was running out in June and she would be homeless. She looked at me scared. She said “I cant go back there. I cant go backwards.” She has been clean for 10 months, going to recovery programs, taking classes at school, going to therapy to deal with all her triggers and now she finds herself going to church, praying and reading scriptures everyday, facing the thought of going backwards.

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I left that meeting and felt I needed to do a few things. One, she needed help with her housing situation. I called some friends that work with the system and then her new friend Cris, who drives her to church every week. Cris asked a recovering alcoholic and his wife who understand the struggle of addiction and the power of Christ. They have agreed to come alongside her and advocate on her behalf to help get her in a place where she can only walk forward instead of backwards!

Then I got so excited about my next idea that I was like a giddy kid! I messaged my friend Lindsay who teaches swim lesson at the country club. I asked if she would be willing to teach an adult swimming lessons. She said she would love to be apart of this story! So the plan was to go shopping for a bathing suit and in she goes! Swimming means keeping your head above water. It means survival, it means being able to swim to shore when the waters are rough, and then it means diving, snorkeling, scuba diving and seeing  beauty and color. It means adventure and going to the beach with your friends in a yellow polka dot bikini and drinking lemonade and eating potato chips and going for a dip.

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God is trying to give a woman back family who has never had a family. God is trying to give a woman an education who never had an education. God is trying to give a woman back dignity who hasn’t been given the dignity she deserves. God is impacting this woman’s life and He is doing it through people. God used a woman from AA to invite her to Collide. God used another women to listen and drive and invest in her life.  God is using the husband and wife team to advocate on her behalf. God is using a swim lesson teacher to bless her. I tell you this story- because this story is a picture of what could happen all over our village if we together enter into the lives of those who need it. It takes a village to change a villager. 

Come back soon and I will tell you how her first swim lesson went!

the two things I said to a guy who wanted to end his life because he’s gay

Sometimes people send people my way. I am not sure why. I’m not a counselor. I’m not a pastor. I’m not even halfway interesting. I think it’s because I am willing and i am free. You’d be amazed how many people just need someone to sit with them and listen.

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I’m sorry, i am going to go off for one sentence…

What the hell is wrong with our world that we need to pay people to listen to us?

Ok, I am back. But really, what is going on that we need to pay people to listen to us? Just sit. still. engaged. making eye contact. with no phone. no agenda. No bias. No judgement. open ears. that’s all. People make up to what $100 dollars an hour to do that? (Counselors are wonderful x amillion. But the huge gaping hole of people needing people to just sit with them and listen isn’t.) This whole I am free thing keeps me pretty busy…

So a friend sent me their friend. My buddy was really worried about his friend and so I got a phone call from this random guy and agreed to meet with him. I had a bit of background on him as I walked into this coffee shop looking for a single guy who’s physical characteristics were never disclosed. There were like 5 guys sitting alone at tables. I thought to myself, “Oh man, don’t be that girl who walks around looking like you are Match.comming it at a coffeeshop.” I agreed with myself and waited for him to come to me.

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He didn’t.

So I texted him and told him where I was sitting. Sure enough, one of those five guys stood up and walked over to me. Two hours later, I left that coffee shop with a spiritual stomach ache.

I will tell you his story tomorrow….

No, ok I will tell you his story right now. This young man is struggling with his sexuality. In his words, He is a Christian, wants to do right by God but believes being gay is a sin, yet feels a strong sense that he is only attracted to same sex males. He has been fighting his desires for years. This fight has found him looking to hook up with girls hoping they will “heal” him. (This made me sad for any girls whose lives are being used to “heal” people. Who wants to wake up and find out they were being taken like a pill? No less a pill that didn’t work.)

This guy who will remain nameless said that pill wasn’t working. It was a placebo. He started becoming addicted to porn and was really struggling. He opened up to his pastor and friends at his church, that he loves. They, in their effort to help him took away his computer and encouraged him to go to counseling. They surrounded him with an all out effort to hold him accountable. Their efforts pushed him further into the closet, hiding with all sorts of skeletons.

By the time he was sharing an americano with me, he had traveled from girls to boys, to hooking up on any end of the spectrum anywhere he found himself, to a nasty porn addiction with suicide luring him as the ultimate pill. This week he was falling in love with a boy. He said if he told his church he was gay he would be excommunicated.

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In an effort to understand, I asked, “So, if you are addicted to porn you can stay in the church, but as soon as you say you are gay, you cannot?” Yes, that is correct. It was his fear of losing his people that led him to live a life of hiding where nobody really knew who he was and what he was doing. These lies and secrets were killing him. But it would also kill him to tell people and have them disown him. He saw his options as one of two. Hide or die.

Did you hear that? Hide or die.

I asked him if those were his only options? He confidently said yes. I said that I wanted to suggest a few other options. And here is why.

Outside of what you believe about sexuality, I believe these two things to be true:

1. Life matters. This man’s very life is in question. He lives every day thinking about killing himself because he sees no other option. God made him. God shaped him in his mother’s womb. God made his sense of humor. God shaped his brain. God knew his strengths and his weaknesses, his quirks and his tendencies. God breathed life into Him and until the day God decides to tenderly move him into the other realm, his life should not be taken by his own hand. He is someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s friend, someone’s coworker. He matters. And when I sit across from someone who is questioning that, I will start there. Always.

2. Be real. Living a life you have to hide is just as much a sin as any other. I always say to my kids, “Live a life you don’t have to hide!” This is one of our family mantras. Fill in the blank with any sin…..Hiding and lying about who you are and what you do is just as bad as __________ (insert any sin you think heinous whether it be not recycling, greed or murder). Yet the system this man is a part of was encouraging this hiding. Living a double life, a life of secrets is just as sinful as another sin you are living out in the open with, isn’t it? Are we encouraging people with our judgements to live secret, lying lives? What choice is this guy left with? He either lies to his community and gets to be apart of the family or he tells them the truth about where he is at and he is on the streets like an orphan with no home.

In that moment, as I prayed, I didn’t feel it was necessary to go into the hot button topic about homesexuality and where he should land on it. What good would that do? This wasn’t his issue. His issue was now choosing to live- choosing different options than to hide or die. He had heard arguments on all sides of the issue for yeeearrrs and interestingly enough, he himself believed for him it was wrong but he also felt like he “couldn’t stop doing the very thing he felt he ought not to do”. This man has tried to stop. He has denied himself. He has gone to “rehab”. He has self loathed. He has prayed a million prayers. Now he lives wrestling, struggling and wanted to give up. So if he thinks not living is now his only escape from the struggle, do you really think I should get into a theological volley with him? It felt like God wanted me to fight for his life and for living it wide open, honest. Wherever he is at, he needs to be able to be real about it.

What is the point of community or of church if we have to hide what is really going on in our hearts, our minds and our lives? We need to be able to journey with people as they are. It is then that we can all invite God to show up as we are and do what only He can do in our lives. How can God show up in our lives in a real way if we are all walking around being fake? How can we get help for our porn addiction or our confusion and our sleeping all over tarnation if we have to hide it? How can we get help for our boxed in judgmental hearts and limited grace meters if they are never tested because everyone is walking round acting perfect in person and screwed up in secret? How can we learn what it looks like to love, really love, if we only worship with people just like us? How can people who want to end their life have the people they need to keep them alive if they can’t be real about what they are pondering?

This is not to say we shouldn’t speak the truth in love. This isn’t to say that we should tell people do whatever the heck they want. That is not what I am saying. (There should be some asterisk here about how this is not a blog on speaking the truth in love and holding people accountable. This is a blog on sitting across from a guy who thinks about ending it all.) So don’t go off on your assumptions and miss out on numbers 1 through 2 and an added 3rd.

1. Life matters. We should be telling people in the church and out this. We should be telling our kids and our parents this. We should be telling this to people who have black skin and those who are albino. We should be telling this to people who are Muslim and people who are Bhuddist. We should be telling this to people no matter what they do with their private parts. The same God, the One God, made all of us and we all matter.

2. Scripture says in Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Not death, nor life, nor life that is crazy, messed up, confusing, different, diverse, weird and destructive, nor angels, nor the President, the Pope or your boss, nor Republicans or Democrats, nor kings or the Queen, nor this very present circumstance you find yourself in that feels like its overcoming you, nor what is about to go down, nor any victory or success or low low valley or deep dark sin, nor a long list of mistakes, nor any other human being and their opinion shall be able to separate you from the love of God which we see in Christ Jesus. 

And boy do we see the love of Jesus Christ! His death reminds us that our lives matter. Our lives matter so much so that God was willing to give up His own for ours. He died so that we could live. Next time you are sitting across from someone regardless of what you think or believe about how they should be living, start with their life mattering. Jesus Christ gave up His life so that you would never wonder where you are at with God.  Jesus loves you with such an intense sacrificial love that I am going to keep telling you how much you matter. And please keep telling me.

I understand that because our life matters, it matters how we live it. But sometimes we elevate how we live above the life itself. Thats why people keep sending me suicidal people to have coffee with. Free and willing, I sat across from this man and I physically hurt. Remember, I am not a professional. I am not a psychologist.What can i possibly say?

I can say, your life matters. Let’s get you to a place and places where you can start there. That is most important. God would say so with His very life. (In fact, none of the other stuff matters if you are no longer alive.) And we need to be saying this too!

3. Be real. I am not suggesting that the Church shouldn’t be a place that teaches morality, virtue, discipline, and values. But I am going to suggest that we have got to allow people to start where they are. I just cannot get over the fact that a church will kick you out if you are gay but not if you get excited about nasty porn every night. I can go to any church in my town and no one is thinking about kicking me out. Yet they have no idea what I am doing in this head of mine. I could be shooting people with rifles in my imagination. I could have millions of dollars in an account that I don’t share with anyone. I could be sleeping with other men in my head every time I sleep with my husband. And guess what, you would never know.

Whether I am doing all of those things or none of them, how on God’s green earth do I stand a chance of journeying towards God if people are pushing me away from Him? What chance do any of us have if we are keeping what needs God’s face shining on it hidden in a dark closet? We have to be able to be real about what is going on our lives. This actually is the beginning of true healing, true recovery, true freedom and true community. I have always said: If people can’t tell their story in the Church then Church won’t be a part of their story.

I am confident that we as the Church must reread that last sentence and get our staff- our children’s pastors, youth pastors, family pastors, our worship pastors, your elders, our laypeople, we need to get all of them together and we have got to figure out how to build and shape an environment where people can be real about their stories. This then is when God can enter our stories and write into them beauty, hope, life, grace and redemption. If people cannot be real about their story in YOUR Church, YOUR Church won’t be a part of their story.

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Or I can keep looking purdy in my church dress and filling a pew and showing up and looking the part to make you happy and trick myself into thinking I have a spiritual community. I can sit right alongside my new friend and we can fake all of this, but where is it getting us? We know God is real, so why aren’t we being real? God is real and He can handle us. He can handle us in all our unglorifying mess. He can. I am sure of it.  I will sit next to that man. In fact, I will pick him up and take him to church if I need to, if only to remind us both that life matters.

I will show up and like this guy, and like Paul in the New Testament, I will say “I continue to do the things I ought not to.” In saying that together, we realize our deep need for God in all His stretched out forgiveness that gives and gives and gives. And saying that together with other broken people who echo the struggle, we can hold hands, reminding each other that Jesus says life matters. Grab our hands and come with us if you want. We can walk towards Jesus instead of away from Him. We can tell our stories and beg that God becomes our Author. We can together find ourselves underneath His cross, where the ground is level, everyone matters and His death reminds us just how much. That is the only hope we all have. That His love is greater than our brokenness. And it is the only hope I will give my life to.

If you don’t like what I have to say, I don’t want to hear about it this time. I am not in the mood to mess around. I just sat across from a guy who wants to end his life. Argue with someone who just sang with the gospel choir.

 

 

life, death, wins and losses

Last week, some of the moms who have spent countless hours on the sidelines together cheering on their kiddos over the past several years, spent the morning of another mom, Julia’s, memorial service lining the street with pink. A friend of Julia’s had come up with the idea to line the street from her family’s house all the way to to the cemetery with signs, balloons and bows.

Julia's balloons

It had snowed that morning and we all met on the corner of the block we had been delegated. These other “sports moms” are all different from each other. Some are athletes themselves, some are not. Some would eat a donut at the drop of a hat and some would never dare. Some are loud and some are quiet. Some work and some stay at home. Some are outgoing and some are shy. Some believe in God and some don’t. Some love the church and some want nothing to do with the church.  And what had drawn us together initially was our kids, sports, school and being moms.

And here we were gathering because one of our own, a mom, had passed away. It struck me as we wrapped bows around telephone poles and hung lanterns on people’s trees (we hoped wouldn’t get angry)…it struck me that this woman’s life that we now mourned and celebrated, had impacted us all. Julia, who I wrote about a few weeks ago, truly made her life count, so much so that in her loss, a group of ragtag women who had once been drawn together by the commonality of being moms were now drawn together by who Julia was and how she lived and died.

Team Julia

There is something about death. There is something about mortality and the finiteness of life and facing goodbye that makes people come together. I think we all felt it could have been us. I think we all hurt for their family. I think we all wanted to do something. Anything. Even if just to pinkify a street to say to her husband and kids, “She mattered”.  And she did.

Later that afternoon, our family drove to the funeral. A lot of the boys on the football team, the team who had taken 1st place as county champs, showed up wearing their green and white jerseys just to say to their friend who lost his mother, “We are on your team in victory and in loss.” 

I experienced a few things that day.

I sat in that pew and kept seeing these kids file in, squishing together like sardines.  Every time another boy sat down, I saw the teammates welcome and make room where there was no more room. But yet, another boy would come to sit down. I felt sorry for the older people on the end of the pew. And yet, every time another boy came, they made room because no one would be left out of this. In fact, there was no more room and one boy sat further back with his mom. And I heard the chatter amongst these kids who decided that wasn’t right for him to not be with the team. So here these boys who are very different themselves. Some love video games and twinkies, while others hate sitting dormant and eat sprouts. Some love school and play with calculators while others dread school and are adrenaline junkies. Some get the idea of death and heaven and some have never pondered such. Some are starters on the team and others play much less. And yet, when one was alone, they went and brought him back to this overfilled pew and practically sat on each other’s laps to include their team member.

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I saw the power of telling someone “We are with you in victory and loss.” When the son who lost his mother looked up to the balcony of this church and saw his friends, I couldn’t help but almost lose it. He scanned the aisles and saw the football jerseys, the baseball jerseys and even some basketball jerseys, all from the teams he plays on. These kids were with him, not just on the field, but off. That young man might need to hang on to that community that surrounds him for years to come and he had a visual that day that they are indeed with him. We will all take our turn facing something where we need our team to show up. And for that boy, that day, they did.

I also saw the beauty in the invitation our kids received. I looked at these boys backs. As i sat behind them, I realized, they too, will face loss, pain and hardship throughout their lives. And we just invited them to experience what it looks like to stand with people in pain. Not run from it. Not act like its not happening. Not make it small. But instead, to allow pain, suffering and death draw community together and stand for those who might need help standing. This was a beautiful and powerful invitation that those boys will most likely relive in their future and now they know how to.

Sitting in the waft of “It is well with my soul” and hearing countless stories of this woman who lived her entire life for Jesus, I started to see how all of these different people from different places in her life had come together. They had come together and now were being invited to, together, come to Jesus. And then I was reminded of what a friend always says: “At the foot of the cross, all ground is level.”

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There are no starters or bench warmers at the foot of the cross. There are no quarterbacks, nor water boys. There are no coaches, nor psycho sports parents. There are no winners and losers  There are no cool kids or cool moms or uncool kids or uncool moms. There are no overachievers or slackers at the foot of the cross.  The foot of the cross is level ground. There are no hierarchies. There are no castes. There are no ladders. There is no score. Jesus says “Come” to all and all can come. The invitation is for everybody. A call for people as diverse and colorful as they are; strong and weak, faithful and faithless, stubborn and shy, awkward and charming, cool and callused, for all to come. A team, if you will, where in the world we would play on different fields, but with Jesus, all ground is level. At the foot of the cross, sitting before Him and His ultimate show of love, we see and understand in our guts that everyone there matters. Everyone there is important. Everyone there is loved.

Sitting in those pews singing “When we’ve been there ten thousand years” alongside people from different places in their faith, who had originally been drawn together by being moms, were now being drawn together by something more. Something deeper. It felt like a powerful invitation for all of us to know, we all come as we are. And when we do, all the barriers, all the differences, all the diversity, all the wins and losses, they are all wiped away and all there is, is a God who says “Come” because He loves us so. And even God says, “Come, i am with you in all your wins and all your losses. Just come.”

Julias bow

Life and death continue to be my teacher as I am a student of Him who says “Come.” May you be HIs student too.

she wanted to make her cancer count

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She looked at me on the sidelines of our son’s football game. She had beautiful eyes and a heart even more stunning. She was missing her eyelashes. She wore a wig. In the midst of a conversation about her coming to speak at Collide, a woman’s ministry I had asked her to come and share her story at, she looked at me and said “I want to make my cancer count.”

I realized that day she watches football games differently than I do. She watched them like she wasn’t sure how many more she would get to watch. Just her presence pierced mine. It was the way she lived.

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I get her. She is my age. She is married to a faithful, good man. She has kids and loves them like crazy and probably wants to watch them grow old. A few years ago she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and it had spread into her breasts, lungs and even spine. When she was at the Cancer care hospital, apparently a woman decked out in Harley Davidson gear challenged her: We’re not dying from cancer, we’re living with it.'” Julia’s response?  “Could I lie in bed all day? Yes, but that’s not living with cancer, that’s dying from it.” This kind of attitude led Julia to start an organization in the midst of her fight called Team Julia that is helping fund a cure for cancer and helping other cancer patients pay their hospital bills.

She wanted to come to Collide and share the story that God was writing with her life, but she ended up feeling too ill to make it. Instead of replacing her spot with another story, we felt led to do something else. We paused and all 200 of us and wrote into her story. We wrote prayers. We shared scripture that instilled hope and faith. We shared our own stories of grief and pain and God in it’s midst. It was a beautiful moment. I drove up to her house to deliver those messages. She wasn’t home. All of her kids came to the door. And I handed them all of the cards and asked them to give them to their mom. Days later, after reading these words of faith, hope and love from other women, Julia said they truly blessed her.

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I can’t help but think about that today.

She said goodbye to her children and her husband yesterday. I grieve for her. I grieve for them. No mom should ever have to say goodbye to her kids. In the midst of grief, all those who knew her can say without a shadow of doubt she truly made her cancer count. She used her pain and suffering for Glory. I am in awe of how she chose to live and die. May her heart, love, fight, strength and hope live on and continue showing God’s love to those who find themselves like her on the sidelines watching the game differently, because they know it doesn’t last forever.

Today if you want to help make her cancer count for those that are fighting the nasty painful fight, please check out Team Julia and give generously to a cause that is truly blessing people who need hope and help. https://www.teamjulia.org/

May God meet you on the sidelines and may you always hold present, that this, right now, is all you know you can play. You have today, make it count.

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in shark infested waters, whose in your boat?

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So I sat down with this kid the other day. When I say kid, I mean young adult and I must be feeling old today. He has been through so much in life and we meet on occasion to check in and he knows he can count on me to speak truth into his life when he is flailing.

He so desires to grow in his faith and to know Jesus. In this desire he is surrounded by every temptation and invitation to hand over his faith and pick up something entirely other than.  He lives with and around people opposed to Christianity and is always being chased into scenarios that invite him to give up what is important to him for a moment of pleasure, fun or “what the hellness”.  It is not as though these are benign friendships that could careless if he goes to church on Sunday as long as he is the fun friend the rest of the week. He is actually surrounded by people who antagonize, laugh and mock Christianity. Not only that, but they are encouraging him to be and do what he doesn’t want to be and do. So, we caught up after not seeing each other over the summer. He shared with me that he hasn’t been doing well and his turning toward red wine rather than Jesus is becoming his new norm. He described himself as on an emotional roller coaster up one day and down the next. He feels unhealthy and wounded and longs for God but is very overwhelmed at how to get out of this rut.

As he was talking, I got this image of the woman who made it her goal to swim in shark infested waters to get where she wanted to go. She had a goal! She had a destination! I just pictured her taking on this grueling journey. Imagine her, if she were to pick people to ride in her boats that were
not encouraging her goal. Imagine them yelling “This is a stupid goal!” “You suck and you’re going to die from a jellyfish sting!” ” A shark is going to eat you alive!” You aren’t going to make it!”

Literally, watch her video and imagine those kinds of voices.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFR8FkdlFvA

If you can just picture her training and hoping and risking and those kind of voices yelling at her….What chance would she stand? There is no
way that woman would have made her goal, which she does, if she had a crew of people telling her she couldn’t get where she wanted to go or
she shouldn’t even try.

looked at this young man and said you are like that. You are swimming across rough waters trying to find emotional healing from your family’s
pain, you are wrestling through identity issues and in the midst of all that, you are trying to swim to God and yet you drowning. And you are
drowning because you have people in your boat who are yelling at you to quit right there in the middle of the shark infested waters. You need people in your boat who will yell things like “You can do this!” “God is with you! ” “Keep getting back in there!”   You need people who will support you- not sink you. You need people who will encourage you -not discourage you. You need people who will walk with you- not drag you down. You need some fellows in your ship. (I remember an old boyfriend used that on me once. So I used it on this young man.) What he needs is what we all need.

Having some fellows in your ship is called fellowshipWe all need some fellows in our ship to help get us where we want to go.  If faith is important to you than you need to make it important by having fellows who will cheer you on in life and faith when life and faith are wading through rough waters. If beating an addiction is important to you than you are going to need some fellows in your ship telling you it’s possible when the sharks are trying to clench their teeth into your back and drag you down to become bottom feed. If following your dreams is where you want to go and yet, what you have been following is everything except dreamy, its time you get some people in your boat to scream at you “You have what it takes to get there!” It’s not so much that you won’t incur rough waters, jelly fish, sharks, naysayers, temptation, sunburns, rejection and mockery. You will. Because you will, it is even more imperative to get people in your boat who will encourage you all the way to where you want to go! May this young man and you and I make sure we aren’t just desiring a destination, nor just training for a goal, but getting fellows in our ship so we are sure to step foot on the shores of our dreams!