Hearts Full of Grace, Souls Generated by Love

Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is simply one of my favorite people. If you haven’t watched Selma, I would highly recommend it. Get yourself a box of tissues and a friend to process with. Looking back on the history of race and America is not for the faint of heart.

People can be so wicked, cruel and ignorant. Fear does crazy things to people. The tension for me is in asking the question: what would I do? Great books and movies force me to ask this question. What would I do, really? And more frequently than I care to admit, I’ve found that I might not be the right side of justice, love, or understanding. I don’t know that I would have been willing to march, speak up, go to jail, or put my family at risk. The luxury in looking backwards is that you can see the outcome and know what steps to take. The reality of living in the moment is that you have to risk a lot and overcome many fears to make the right decision.

My prayer and hope is that I would have a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. For me, one of the ways I try to do this is by increasing my time with Jesus and taking care of myself. This month, I’ve had 2 retreats.  One was a New Year retreat and the other was a Silent Retreat. Both were SO good. One started by looking backwards and bringing me to my now and the other started with my now and looking ahead at what’s to come.

The first retreat was at Awaken Community Church. It’s a covenant church in St. Paul off of West 7th. It’s a community of incredible artists and deeply thoughtful people where I feel like I am both loved and pushed to pursue Jesus out in the world. It’s been a great space for me to process, think and generally figure out what’s next for me. It’s been exactly what I’ve needed in this season.  At the retreat we were asked to study Luke 24:13-35.  It’s the story of 2 friends who are walking on the road to Emmaus. They are sad and have lost hope because of Jesus’ death. They don’t yet believe that Jesus is alive.
When I placed myself in the story, would I have been sad and hopeless on the road or would i have stayed in Jerusalem with hope for more than a few days??  As much as I would like to say that I would have hunkered down with hope in Jerusalem, I would have probably been on the road sad and hurt that the man I gave up everything to follow in was laying dead in a tomb. Have you placed yourself in a Bible story lately?

The second retreat was a Silent Retreat at The Urban Retreat Center.  If you are longing for some time away or looking for an amazing retreat (there are even date nights and small groups) I would recommend this hands down. It was SO good for me and my soul. I worked on my Rule Of Life, a practice that helps you identify and be intentional about how you live and how you balance life, spirituality, health, work, etc. It was only 2 hours, so I didn’t actually craft the whole thing, but I did have time to pray and answer some really good questions.  I looked at where I currently am, my roles and desires and what I wanted my future to contain.  The last question, the one I didn’t finish, was so profound:  “What has God placed deeply in your soul that speaks of your most sincere concern for others, yourself, and God’s kingdom?”  If you know the answer to this question for yourself, then you should make your rule of life!  And tell me about it!

So those are my thoughts on this frigid January day in Minnesota. I’m working on writing more (journaling more than blogging, but that can change depending on my day) and I also decided to start my own business. I’m super excited about it and you can read up on it or do a little stalking by going to my webpage, by clicking here.

I hope that your heart will be full of grace and your soul generated by love as you begin this new year. I pray that each of us will learn from the brave men and women in the past who pushed past the fears and unknown to change the world. I pray that we would be people who risk much and end up on the right side of justice, love and understanding.

The What and the How

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. More than normal for this introvert. I wanted to write weekly blog posts and have amazing updates on my life.

But, every blog post I wanted to write was going to come off sounding a bit crazy and bit political.  And I don’t like to engage in politics behind a screen. I’ve found that I have computer-courage. Similar to liquid courage,   it allows you to say and do things that you normally wouldn’t.  And, to be honest, neither of those types of courage ever got me anywhere.

I have struggled with coming to terms with the fact that I’m not supposed to be out in the world hustling to climb the corporate ladder. I was secretly hoping that God would have it in mind for me to go back to being an analyst, making 6 figures.  We could buy a nicer home, move to a better location, send Austin to college and Nick to private school.  I could buy my Subaru.  We could go on a family vacation that wasn’t in Minnesota. I was REALLY hoping.  But it’s clear to me, my husband, and my closest friends, that what God has for me is not about all those things.  And, in an effort to just be transparent and real, I feel like I must not keep those thinking things just in my head.  That I must put them out there.  I have to make some of these thoughts “real.”

If you don’t speak it, is it real?  If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
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So, first things first: the job search.   Some of you care, some of you don’t.  But it is the most asked question that I get.  What am I doing?  I’m currently doing a few things.

1.  I’ve started to do some art. Well, art/design/building/creating with my youngest sister. She and I work together one day a week and then on our own during the rest of the week. We are playing with pallets, paints, canvas, sharpies, spray paint, thrift store finds, plants, candles, and anything else that inspires us.  We will be launching a website and “store” soon.  Our first public show is at Awaken Community Church (it’s a Covenant church in St. Paul that I just LOVE) from 12-3 on Sunday November 29 and December 6.  Come and see what we have been up to!

2. I’m also substitute teaching at New Life Academy. I know, crazy, right? I was excited to try “teaching” (and by teaching, I mean the absolute best parts of it without all of the hard work like lesson planning and tests and all the things that teachers do all day and night).  When I was younger, I would spend days playing teacher in the basement of our house. I loved chalkboards and handouts and teaching my sister all the things that I knew and that she NEEDED to learn. So, yes, I love subbing.  I’m working with the middle school and high school kids.  They are sassy and funny and full of dreams and fears.  I also just show up and do what the teacher has asked and then go home without any work coming with me.  It’s been almost 20 years since I had a job that didn’t come home with me.   ITS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE and a pleasant surprise.

3. I’m still volunteering with non-profits that I love and I have joined a board.  I’m learning about housing and poverty and life skills, with Steps of Strategy. It’s something that keeps challenging me and I continue to learn how much I have to learn.  I love the people that I get to work alongside of and it’s a good reminder for me of how many amazing things I have in my life and that the quest for bigger and more sometimes means that I have less to give to others.  

4. I’m working on writing and developing a curriculum.  This one has been on the back burner, but it’s getting moved up because its one of the things that I know I need to be working on, but it’s easier to not.   It’s hard and requires me to put a whole lot of fear behind me so I can actually do the work.  

And then, the other question, how am I doing?

I’m doing well. I can see how God has planned this time for me and my family. I struggle with missing many people and organizations. I miss running large events and selling mugs. I miss the Christmas planning and preparing to be hospitable for hundreds of people.  And if I’m honest, I miss the hustle.  I know how to hustle. I know how to work hard and get approval and be a success. I’m pretty good at depending on myself to get things done.  What I don’t know how to do is wait and depend on others.

What I know is this: this season isn’t about the hundreds for me, its about a few.  Advent won’t be lost on me this season. I really don’t know what my career path looks like right now, but I’m doing well.  I do know that I’m a better wife, mom, and human being right now because I have margin and I am loving the flexibility in my week.   Jeremiah is providing for our family financially and it’s so great to see how God is using him.

I know the pace of my life and the work that God is doing in me doesn’t look like what I or others think it should look like.  But His best work never does. I’m thankful for this times and these unwritten pages.

P.S. If you’re looking for some amazing organizations that doing some of the hardest, in the trenches, work for those on the margins, check out these places:

1. Safe Families, MN 
2. Urban Ventures 
3. International Justice Mission

 

 

 

Prayer Matters

I returned home from the Global Prayer Gathering (GPG) in Washington DC this past week.  Spending time withInternational Justice Mission (IJM) reminds me how God is moving all over the world in every hidden and small space.  This year, the focus was on how our prayers matter. Indulge me for a moment to share some quotes that I heard during the GPG:

  • “Faith is fear that has said its’ prayers.”  Brenda Salter McNeil
  • “God can do ALL on His own. But God chooses NOT to do on his own. He unleashes His power into the world through our asking.” Gary Haugen
  • “To pray is to trust him as you may and He will reward you that you would trust him more.”  Amy Carmichael
  • “Jesus, if you change people as they say, change me.” First prayer of a former slave who is now working for IJM
  • “I want to be beautiful again. I want to regain all I’ve lost.” Prayer of a rescued trafficking survivor
  • “I tell you these things so that you would always pray and NEVER GIVE UP.” Jesus

I spent time in prayer for many different countries and different forms of injustice and I was struck at how often I forget how powerful prayer is. I think that the discipline of praying and building our relationship with God is one of the hardest things to learn because it’s something that can be faked and simply cannot be taught. We have to just do it.  We have to practice it. And for each one of us, it looks completely different.   The only way to figure it out is by doing it.

My time spent at the GPG encourages me to pray more passionately, more frequently and with expectation.  I begin to see that God answers prayers in the most incredible and huge ways.  Like this:

  • In Uganda, there are now 11 police stations in IJM’s project area that have been trained and resourced by IJM so that they no longer see property grabbing as a “family matter” and are recognizing it’s devastating impact.
  • In Guatemala, IJM is partnering with government official in a historic initiative that allows IJM to train national police on protecting children from sexual assault.
  • In South Asia, in 2014, IJM helped rescue 512 slaves in their largest operation to date.  Govenrment officials are frequently investigating and prosecuting cases of slavery on their own.
  • In Cambodia, after 10 years of IJM working there, IJM has trained thousands of local authorities in the fight against sex trafficking and, after a decade of work, it’s very difficult to find children in the commercial sex establishments – less than 1 percent in most places.

There is still so much work to be done in the world.  And our personal relationship with God can always use some more time and attention.   If you are interested in praying with and for IJM, I have 2 links below that you can explore:

 A guided prayer time

View the GPG online with On Demand Videos

And, if there is any way that I can help you in any part of your journey, please let me know!
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Lisa Adams,
Director of Missions

Who are you? A reminder.

My sister and I were just talking this week about this realization that somehow when we got married and then gave birth to our kids, we gave up our identities.  It wasn’t something that we planned on doing.  In fact, we didn’t even know it was gone for years.   It was a slow fade.   I had slowly become something to everyone but me.  I stopped doing the things that I loved and began doing the things that needed to get done to keep everyone else okay. Which works out fine if your life never has crisis.  Anyone here never experience crisis?? Crisis and identity go hand in hand for me. I learned that crisis and has a funny way of spotlighting you.  Like this big bright light shining down on you when you are feeling weak and vulnerable and afraid.  Like how white pants show every dimple and ripple.  Am I right? So, when crisis came for me, I had forgot about the Lisa who was strong and brave and who was passionate about music and justice, and helping other people, and who Jesus LOVED and who loved Jesus.  What I remembered in that spotlight was the Lisa who had hurt other people, who made some bad choices and deserved to be punished, the Lisa who didn’t feel like she was good enough for anyone to fall in love with her.  These were the loudest voices.   When my marriage was in crisis and the pain of a potential divorce and raising a child by myself was my reality. I was standing there in tight white pants.  And that spotlight is harsh.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I wanted to be able to tell you what someone once told me (while I was weeping and snotting, and breaking down and standing in that spotlight) –  was that Jesus desperately loved me.   He is mad about me. She reminded me that the harsh voice I was hearing was wrong…and not anything that God would say.   He had forgiven me.   He finds me beautiful.  He thinks I’m smart and funny.   He knows the kindness I have shown others.  And he chose me.   His light is a soft candlelight, with beautiful black pants.

And to make sure that I continue to hear that voice (instead of that spotlight) and be more “LISA”I started to do a few things:

  1.   I cant even begin to tell you how important this was for me.  I’m a therapy pusher!
  2.  My table. I invited a few cherished dear friends into my inner circle and I’m completely transparent with them.  And they with me.   They remind me when I need to turn down the spotlight and light candles instead.
  3. I started to go to concerts again. In my pre-husband and sons days, I went to multiple concerts and musicals each month.   Music is my love language for sure.  So, I’ve started to make room in our budget and calendar to do just do concerts.  I just figured out my summer schedule and I am SO excited. It makes me giddy and feel like me.

So for some of you, this will be an affirmation.   For others, you may not have heard these words in a long time.   But I wanted you to know that God loves you.  His is mad about you.   He calls you His.  You are smart.  You are beautiful.  You are kind.

Now, it might sound like my life is just full of crisis.   It’s really not, but those moments have truly allowed me to grow in my faith and in who I want to be so I tend to tell those stories.

Schoolhouse Rock

I’m writing to you from Washington DC! (I know, very House of Cards). I have the privilege of being here this week at theGlobal Prayer Gathering!

International Justice Mission (IJM) will gather over 1400 people over the next couple of days to lean into God’s heart for justice. We will will worship, pray, sing, and hear stories about how God is on the move all over the world.

This year, I was asked to be a part of the group that would lobby with the House and Senate! There is this new legisaltion called the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act (S. 553) that IJM sees as very critical to ending modern day slavery.

Basically, it would create a non-profit that would raise money to fund anti-slavery efforts around the world. This particular piece of legislation is so encouraging because it is both bi-partisan and it requires funding from other governments and the private sector. I see it like a little miracle act that is bringing the whole world together to end slavery.

My task was simply to let our Congress people know that I cared deeply about this. I went into this this morning thinking that it would be super intimidating and difficult to navigate. I mean when people talk about going to “the hill” and “lobbying” I don’t really think I’m part of that scene (unless the hill is the pulpit and lobbying is what I do in the lobby). I didn’t see myself as an advocate. But after this morning, I realized that I am.  And so are each of you.  The influence that you wield simply by living in your city and state is LARGE. Sending an email matters. Phone calls do not go unnoticed. This does not require some special skill set or Poli Sci degree to get your voice heard. You can be an advocate anywhere.

I tell you this because I walked away from today stunned that what I learned from Schoolhouse Rock is actually true!  And I also came to believe there may be day that WE will see an end to slavery in this world.  Our generation could be the one that says no more.  That freedom is something that everyone should have. God is on the move and He wants us to join Him.  He wants us to advocate for the orphan and the widow and the slave. He wants us to be a light in the darkness of human trafficking and violence and slavery.  Will you join Him?  Are you willing to be an advocate for people who can not advocate for themselves?

I would love to see you join this movement to end slavery!

If you are interested in learning more about advocating for justice around the world or would like to sign the act, you can go to freedomcommons.ijm.org

And if you have more questions or just want to get together to talk about justice, I’d love to help you with that. You can reach me by phone or email.

P.S.  The Global Prayer Gathering is being recorded, so I’m hoping that by next week, I’ll be able to share that link with you all.

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Lisa Adams,
Director of Missions

Here Comes the Sun

I have to be honest, I don’t love the Beatles (I know, I’m a rebel), but as I watch Winter turn to Spring, I hear the lyrics of Here Comes the Sun…”Little Darling, it’s been long cold lonely winter” in my head. This winter has kind of felt like that, right? The cold, and gloomy, and of the lack of life have been everywhere. It seems no matter where I turn, I hear stories of struggle. From the shooting in Kenya, to Isis, to illnesses, and people who have so much life to live leaving this earth too soon. Winter, has been upon us for so long and it at times has felt so lonely. With all the tragedy we can start to wonder where God is.

And then Easter happens. We are reminded that with Jesus’ death we are give new life, and we understand that Spring was always in God’s plan. From the death of winter comes the new life of Spring. Hope. New beginnings. A chance to start fresh.

As Spring slowly begins to wake the earth up, and grass gets greener and plants start to bloom, we see God’s fingerprints everywhere. If He keeps the small delicate flowers blooming, and he cares about the tiniest sparrow, certainly he is at work in our lives. Even when, or maybe especially when, we feel like we are in a season of unending Winter.

The blooming of Spring makes me feel strangely brave. Like the possibilities are endless and that we can change this world into something beautiful. Something that looks more like the Kingdom of God and less like the heartbreak we currently see across our papers and TV screens. I want to urge to look for the opportunities that might be right in front of you this season. Maybe you are looking to get involved at Crossroads, maybe you’re looking to serve somewhere in your community, or maybe you’re just looking for community and people do life with or maybe you’re looking for freedom from the past.

Whatever you feel you’re needing in your life be brave and pursue it, God will be faithful through it. The ice is slowing melting, and the sun is coming! While I don’t lose my mind over the Fab 4, i appreciate the hopefulness of this song, it’s a beautiful reminder of how Spring always comes, and God is always faithful.

If you’re interested in finding a place to serve, you can find some great opportunities in our GO catalog, here.

I also want to remind you ladies that on April 20th at 6:30 pm, we’ll be doing The Table for a second time at the Cottage Grove Campus. It’s a great opportunity to connect and get to know other women! You can register, here.

We’re also kicking off a 2 week series called “the After Party” this weekend!

Also, if you have never heard the song “Here Comes the Sun,” you can listen to it here, sung by Paul Simon, who I love a million times more than the Beatles.  Have a great weekend!

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Lisa Adams,

Sunday Is Coming

It’s almost Easter, and that means, at Crossroads, things are busy. There are volunteer teams to be assembled, programs to be printed, cookie orders to be made, just to name a few things. All in preparation for the thousands of people we’ll see come through our doors over the Easter weekend.

While there is a buzz of prep going on, this is also a time when we find moments in our day to slow down and fix our eyes on Jesus. We pause to recognize the sacrifice, the grace, and the love that is exemplified in this week long journey to the empty tomb.

In Eagan this weekend, the children’s ministry will be kicking off Holy Week with a Palm Sunday Performance! They’ll be kicking off each service with worship to remind us that Jesus has come! They will also be hosting a Good Friday-Evening of Worship on April 3rd.

In Woodbury, we’ll be hosting a prayer walk on Monday, March 30 at 6:30pm. We’ll be praying throughout the church for the people that will be coming through our doors. Everyone is welcome to join us!

Life is busy, and crazy and complicated. Sometimes we have more questions than answers. Sometimes, God feels far away. Sometimes we get caught up in regular life. I just want to encourage you, where ever you find yourself in this Easter week, that you find some space to fix your eyes on Jesus. If that means inviting someone to a service, pulling out and reading your Bible, praying or reaching out to someone who’s been on your mind. Do it.  Because Sunday is coming, and the tomb is empty, and we all get to celebrate that!

We’ll see you this weekend!

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Nicole Case
Web Administrator 

Running…

I’ve been restless lately. Maybe it’s the weather.  Maybe it’s the return to a regular schedule after Spring Break was over. Maybe it’s budget planning.  Maybe it’s dreaming of future events. And maybe it’s that God is working on something that I just can’t see, and yet I can feel it. It wakes me up in the middle of the night or 4:30am and makes my brain spin.  It sets my introverted self into over drive and if I’m not careful, I will run from this feeling and “numb” myself with Pinterest ideas and Facebook posts.  Avoiding the wrestle and the decision. Maybe you’re familiar with that. Or maybe your tendency is to get frustrated and blow off steam in unhealthy ways. Or maybe you don’t wrestle with any decisions…in which case, I’m going to assume you’re magic or 110.

I personally think that the wrestle and restless is where God is stirring. I think God uses our restless spaces to do some amazing work in us. And through us.

I can’t tell you the number of people who set off on their first mission trip or begin volunteering because their restlessness has compelled them to do something.   People decide to walk across the street and invite someone over to dinner and begin a friendship with a neighbor. People commit to running 26.2 miles to change the lives of children they will never meet. People use their success and business and figure out a way to help women across the globe with their business. They chose to run towards God in the restlessness. They take their longing and their passion and turn it into something more.   God made us for more.

“If you’re wrestling with some sort of decision, reflect for a moment and ask yourself, Am I being brave, or am I being safe? In the end, it depends on whether we think God can be trusted.” 

― Gary Haugen

 If you are restless, wrestling, or scared, I want to encourage you to be brave.  I want you to trust God with every ounce of who you are and with everything you have. I want you to inspire others with your bravery and your faith. I’ll be praying for you. And for me, because I’m not magic or 110.

We’ll see you this weekend!

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Lisa Adams
Director of  Missions  

La Mesa

There are a team of people heading to Mexico with Serve His Kids this week. They will be staying at an orphanage, working alongside volunteers and kids, and learning some more about Jesus and why we GO.  One of the more powerful times during this mission trip (and other mission trips) is the time spent around a table.  It’s a powerful time for many reasons.  Sometimes, it’s because the experience of eating with children who don’t live with their parents makes you see your table differently. Sometimes, it’s because you pull up to the table to help a child with school work and you realize the gift of a public education.  And sometimes, it’s because you sit at the table and the simple small act of being together, being in community with others, fills a space in your heart.  The table is where many of us begin to meet Jesus.  Will you join me in praying for this team as they journey across the border and gather at a new table this week?

Also, I’m really excited to be a part of our Women’s Ministry event that is coming up, called The Table!  Now the men had BBQ at their men’s event in January; I heard it involved meat sweats and Jesus. The Table that I’m talking about, is more about women and less about meat sweats. The women who are coming to The Table all come from different places. We’re young, old-ish or somewhere in between. We’re introverts, extroverts, strong, mild, and many other adjectives.  We’re single, married, mamas, aunts, sisters, and best friends. Our stories ebb and flow in different parts. Some of us have walked through and weathered incredible storms, living to tell about struggle and the restoration. Some of us are in the middle of storms, needing  relief, both of the laughing and crying varities. While others of us are in the best seasons of our lives and want to share that joy and come alongside others who need us.

To register, click here 

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We’ll see you this weekend!

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Lisa Adams
Director of  Missions  

March GOment

For the month of March, Crossroads Woodbury is partnering with the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf (CCEFS).  CCEFS provides help for those in need in the Woodbury community.  All donations during the month of March will be matched through Minnesota Foodshare!  It’s the perfect time to donate!

To make it easy, we are using the Text To Give option for you to make your donations!   You have until the 29th of March to do this! Text the phrase CRGO and the amount you would like to give to 28950Every dollar counts!

We’ll see you this weekend!

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Lisa Adams
Director of  Missions