Jumping Back In

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 1.07.11 AMThe last 3 weeks have been certifiable insanity.

Between a close family member with a serious medical diagnosis and my own ongoing health saga, my car is almost on a remote control path an hour away to our Mayo hospital.  I am so grateful for the amazing care both of us are getting from our respective doctors and staff there.  But even in the midst of craziness blowing in like one last ferocious winter storm before all the trees and flowers come alive with spring, a long 2 year winter for me is thawing and I’m getting ready to jump back in with even more faith and hope than ever.

I think processing all the lessons learned in the last 24 months will take a very long time and there is probably a book {or two or three} somewhere in the mix.  On March 15, I received the answer to 4 years of prayers and waiting and trusting:  Create 61’s official letter of determination as a 501c3 non-profit ministry organization in the USA.

For some reason, I had no peace about really pursuing the things God had in my heart until I had that letter in hand, even though legally I could have.  Might I say God allows delays for very good reasons?  When I held that letter, I knew it was time to step out into all God has been stirring in my heart for the raising up of truly healthy leaders and missionaries, the mentoring of creative professionals, using the arts to share the heart of God and see a generation who live centered in Jesus and equipped, empowered and engaged with urban and cross cultural missions.

I now start full time into another chapter of missions that leverages all God has sown into me over the last 20 years of ministry and multiplies it in the raising up of others.  And I cannot do it alone.  I need each and everyone of you who feel so led to come with me on this new adventure.  Nothing happens except by prayer and through the generous hearts of family.

If you know me, you know I absolutely detest strong-armed, manipulative guilt-provoking tactics of raising support.  I feel so strongly about that, that it is a big part of what I will be doing in helping other leaders and ministries learn to effectively steward the story of what God is doing in and through their projects and organizations.  So never any compulsion coming from here.

But I do want to be open and honest about needs as they arise and offer you opportunities to come along side to invest in and partner with what God is doing with my life and Create 61.  Right now I have a total blank slate in C61’s bank accounts, a huge faith for some pretty urgently needed financial miracles and new ways for you to easily sow online anything you feel led to give via a secure paypal account.  You can even set up a monthly automatic donation. {All gifts are tax deductible in the USA and no gift is too small or insignificant.}

It is an awesome privilege to have my own organization and be able to pursue all the things God has put in my heart for the strengthening and service of His Kingdom.

Please take a moment and check out our totally updated and redone website that now accurately reflects all the changes and where we are going.  You are always free to email me with any questions and I will do my best to answer them.  I look forward to hearing from you and am so blessed to have you be a part of the next chapter of this adventure!

P.S.

In case you’d like a quick link to give something to help Create 61 get going, this paypal button will take you there! If you would like to make this amount a monthly, simply click the little box under where it says “make this recurring (monthly)”.

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It Wasn’t Nails That Held Him to the Cross

behindyou2“No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And piercèd are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?”
-Amy Carmichael

No one makes it through this life without scars.  Not even Jesus.

I entered this world with multiple birth defects. I was missing my left leg, hip and kidney and had many other congenital problems all requiring 23 surgeries by the age of 13 . My body is crisscrossed with their incision marks.  I wouldn’t be alive without them.  These scars stand for healing that looked like incredible medical intervention.

Then there are the scars that can’t be seen.  The betrayals, the disappointments, the losses, the abuse, the hard things of this fallen world that puncture our hearts and rip at our souls.  Scarred stories of survival and strength to forgive and let the things meant to destroy us become the very things that make us most dangerous to darkness.

Continue reading over at Velvet Ashes.

How Beautiful

Courtesy Iris South Sudan

Courtesy of Iris South Sudan

I should be finishing writing my case study due later today not writing this post. But I can’t not write this post.

I just received news from what was my home for almost seven years about a little boy I have not met.  Sebit came after my time there. Carolyn, who took over the leadership of the base (and is an incredible leader with a true mama’s heart) has been sharing updates about his health and progress.

For the last year the staff has lovingly and tenderly changed bandages on a severe leg wound that refused to heal.  They have prayed and worshiped and stood with every ounce of faith they had for miraculous healing for over 365 days in the face of the impossible.  Yesterday with little more than a spinal block and some tranquilizers this precious one had his leg amputated to preserve his life.

As he was going into the procedure he sang worship songs with lines like Your praise will ever be on my lips God and I belong to You God, forever I belong to You and Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name, Your kingdom come quickly.

I can’t even begin to fathom how silent heaven must have been in awe of this young boy’s sacrifice of worship.  I am quite sure angels were hushed as Father leaned extra close to receive this love offering outpoured.

In the middle of such squalid conditions where they had to borrow and sterilize a neighbor’s saw for the procedure, where flies buzz around the recovery room… In the middle of loss and pain and realities so stark it is impossible to fully imagine unless you have been there, in the middle of the mystery of God’s goodness when things don’t happen in the way we are hoping… In the middle of all this, one clear voice arrests heaven with its worship. Sebit’s.

I heard that he was told stories of me having one leg and starting the children’s village and I have been choking back grateful tears that the legacy lives on and that the people who are still rooted deeper in my heart than I have language to express are still being encouraged.  I miss everyone there so very very much. I wish I could be there to hold this dear one’s hand and tell him it really is going to be ok.

But I know he is in good hands and that God has brought a new generation of leaders there who are the right ones for this time and season.  They are weaving their legacy into the fabric there and I celebrate the beauty and authenticity and raw humility that they bring with their lives laid down.  I am just so grateful to see what was started in love growing beyond my wildest dreams in love and grace and power.

How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news. Sebit is a good news bringer and I can only grasp the edges of what a mighty call he has on his life.  Would you please keep him and Carolyn and all the family there in your prayers this week as he is recovering and adapting to a new way of doing things?

Thank you friends.

Follow Carolyn’s latest updates over on http://irissouthsudan.org. You will be encouraged and challenged to follow Jesus wherever He is calling you.  You can also support the work by following the instructions on their giving page here.

Forged from the Flame

flameforged-webThis is a daring, put-my-heart-on-a-screen kind of post.  It is a bit raw and not at all tame.

It has been a rough couple of years.  If you been reading along, you know rough is an understatement. It has been the kind of years that polish and buffet and take rough edges off the soul.  Storms and suffering, deep grief and loss that threatened to swallow me whole.  Some of the storms are still blowing wild.  And some days are still raw and hard.  They just are.

But the good news is Jesus can still silence any storm with a whisper.  Any gale at any time.  Pervasive loss does not have to mean permanently lost.  The same “loss” that took me out of Africa gave me the gift of a blank canvas to begin again in America.

It is absolutely impossible to ever really lose that which is sown in love.

My life and the dreams and promises sown in the red earth of Africa can never be stripped away.  Not by circumstance. Not by the words or actions of others.  Not by sickness. Not by spiritual attack. Not by injustice.  Not by any created thing.  It is a beautiful thing to watch that which I had opportunity to plant in love be nurtured in love by the current, new generation of leaders there.

Recently I made a list of things I felt loss over when transitioning out of my old assignment.  I discovered most of what I wrote down:

  1. Were things I never really had to begin with
  2. Were things that have no bearing on my future
  3. Were things that potentially could have capped or cut short my actual calling.
  4. Were things that in essence could never actually be taken away.

So those things are not actually losses.  They are in essence gains.  Most of the things I did “lose” (stress, malaria episodes, etc.) were things I don’t miss at all.

{Of course I miss the children and my friends there.  But they can never be lost to my heart because they are held within it and will be forever.}

I’m not making light of what I’ve walked through the last 2 years.  But I refuse to let it keep me from walking onward in all God has for me.

Then I made a list of what I’ve gained.  It was 3-4 times the length of the list of losses.

Looking at the lists together it dawned on me, the only things burned up in the flame were the things that would have held me back.  I was not burned in the fire, I was forged from it.  What has come through the flames is stronger, purer and more authentically His than I ever was before I started this journey. 

There will always be storms, struggles and seasons of suffering this side of eternity.  But now I hold onto a deeper knowing I have only, ever gained from them.  Again this doesn’t negate very real emotions I still feel and have to work through.  It simply supersedes them.

Maybe you’ve been through a hard season too of late?  Perhaps get with Jesus and make a list of what you felt like you lost and/or actually lost and then what you have gained.  You may be surprised to find out some things “lost” were actually gains in the light of eternity.  Others weren’t truly lost at all.  Changed yes, lost no.

The bravest journeys of all start inside us.  Often our biggest battles are hidden ones.  I pray you too find beauty in the storm and greater definition forged from the very furnace the enemy intended for destruction.  May we be the ones created from the flames.

Creativity Ignited

Well this didn’t happen today neither did the #TuesdayTutorial.  Other things took precedence {like my air con drain for the building flooding run off into my carpeted hallway for all 3 floors of the building} & allergies made my face into something I really didn’t want to digitally immortalize until it unpuffed itself… but I am working on being back on track next week.

Super excited about this new adventure and about having YOU on it with me.  Take a walk on the wild side and get in touch with your creativity this spring.  I may not be traveling much in these season but I’m happy to be sharing online. Pop on over and sign up to follow all the latest.  Looking forward to seeing you there!