Faker, Table for 1.

I’ve been pretty quiet as of late. Not if you’ve been inside my house, because there, I’ve been pretty loud. Perhaps too loud. But in the publishing my thoughts for public consumption, I’ve been quiet. Vulnerability does that to me. I like to have things in a row…my ducks, my sweaters, and my spices. And when I don’t, I’m not fan of showing it. I especially like my faith to look like it’s in a row.

Cue the timely Bob Goff tweet:

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Well. Doesn’t that just make sense.

The truth is, I’ve been faking it.

Faking like I have everything in a row. Shocker, I don’t. But putting that out there feels a little scary and a lot risky. But it’s honest and it’s mine. If I learned anything while on staff at a church, it’s that each of us is on a faith journey and none of them look the same. And this morning, I did have an epiphany about why I feel so, well…stripped.

Before I tell you about my “dream,” let me explain that I am fiercely independent. Because of this, I have always wanted to make sure that I could “take care of myself.” Taking care of myself meant that I could fix my car when it broke down. My dad owned an auto body shop (shout out to Jim’s Fender Rebender fans) during my younger years. I grew up smelling paint and playing with windshield adhesives. My dad didn’t necessarily teach me the business, but I learned a lot by watching him and his employees. Maybe I’ll even tell you all about Mookie sometime.

But today, I needed to give you a little background on me and cars. My dad didn’t understand my determination (he calls it stubbornness. potate-o, potah-to) to fix things, but always encouraged me to “settle down” and “we’ll figure it out.” He also handed out nuggets of wisdom on everything from checking your oil each time you fill up to how to whip a shitty on a frozen lake. He also taught me how to change my tires and remove the lug nuts.

That lug nut thing, it’s important for this story to make sense. Because if you try to take off a lug nut that is over tightened, with too much force, you can strip the lug nut. So here’s a picture of what I’m talking about:

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I had a semi-lucid dream/talk with myself this morning. It was kind of outta body and kind of inna body experience. It was strange.

There I was, looking at my car and my tire; telling myself that I, have a stripped lug nut. I was telling myself that my life was just like that stripped lug nut. I had tightened my life and my career so tight, that when I needed to change the tire, I ended up with a stripped lug nut.

My faith was like a lug nut screwed on too tight. I had been trying to shut out any doubt and know all of the answers, that when it came time to leave my job, it was actually so entwined with my faith and who I was and keeping it all together, that in the process of leaving, I pushed too hard to keep it all together and I stripped the nut.

In the “dream,” I cussed at the tire, the lug nut and the stripped bolt. Tossed the tire iron across the yard, sat down defeated, and wept. And then, when I was done throwing my tantrum, I got up and called my dad. He knew exactly how to get that lug nut off.

I think what I needed to see and understand from this “dream” was that I know how to do this, but sometimes I need to ask for help. Which means not being a faker, inviting someone to join me at my table. I’ve been trying to hear God and figure out where my next steps are, but I haven’t actually asked him for help yet. I need Him at my table. So, that’s what I’m going to go do now. And then I’m gonna call my Dad and thank him for all those lessons in changing my own tires.

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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  

Simple, As it Should Be

I really like New Year’s Day. I think there is something beautiful about a seemingly clean slate, unwritten futures, and the possibility of anything happening. I like living in a world of endless possibility.

You should know, though. I’m terrible at resolutions. Absolutely the worst. I make a list of them and then….i forget about it when life gets back into normal rhythms and then i have an uncrossed off list of things i wanted to accomplish, and that never feels good.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been picking one or two words I want to focus on through out the year. It helps me be intentional, it’s doable, and above all else, it’s simplified.

Our current series, Simple,  has really gotten me thinking about getting down to the simple of roots of what Jesus taught us. We are called to love. Love God. Love people. That is simple, right? Well, yes. But sometimes it’s hard to love people, right? Like sometimes hurt, and being right, and brokenness get in the way and we forget to love people. And relationships suffer because of it.

That’s why, this year, the word I’ve chosen to focus on is, grace. Jesus extended grace to everyone.Everyone. including the people who hated him. Shouldn’t I try to extend grace to everyone, too? Even the people who have hurt me, or don’t like me? Isn’t there more to their story, too?

I also think it’s important to extend grace to ourselves. Currently, I’m awful at this. I’m super hard on myself all the time. Sometimes we’re in the refining fire, and some times we are living the dream. It’s important to remember that Jesus is at work in every season. If i used more grace with myself in and the people around me, who knows how things might change. I think, thought it will bring me closer to being more like Jesus, and it will strengthen my relationships.

Speaking of relationships, we all have them, right? They all take work. Some more than others. On January 23rd and 24th Crossroads hosting the RefineUS-Marriage Conference, hosted by Justin and Trisha Davis, authors of Beyond Ordinary. Now, don’t let the “marriage conference” part scare you. Currently, I’m as single as you can be and I’m really excited about it. We are going to figure out what good relationships look like. How to have them, and how to navigate them when everything feels wrong. Those tools are universal. So, if you’ve been married and aren’t any more (for whatever reason), if you want to get married, you’re newly married, or if you’ve been married for a million years, COME! There is something to be gained for everyone! It’ll be the best $10 you’ll spend this January. Maybe even this year!

We’ll see you this weekend for week two of Simple!

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Nicole Case
Web Administrator

Drifting

And just like that, it’s 2015.  Sometimes I’m amazed at how fast life passes me by. Blink, and the year is over! And sometimes, I’m amazed at how long it takes for a day to pass by. Like the entire day went by in slow motion.Time is a funny thing.

As I have gotten older, the things that impact me and bring me to my knees have changed.  Things that I never saw in my teens, I see weekly now. Cancer, divorce, and death all rear their ugly heads far too frequently. War, poverty, and violence fill up my view of the world. And if I’m not careful, these things can also change the way that I see God.   It’s a daily practice to make sure that I continue to believe that God is who he says He is and that I live my life like that. If I’m not careful, it’s actually quite easy to drift away from church, from reading the Bible, from prayer, from community.

Have you ever found yourself drifted in your faith? Blink, and it’s been a year. Try to get back from where you drifted from and it’s like every day is hard.  Do you have daily practices?  How do you make sure that God is getting the attention He deserves from you?

The beautiful thing about January 1’s is that it’s a great time to reflect on where we have been, how we got there, and then dream about where we want to go and what it will take to get there.  Crossroads wants to help you!  Perhaps you want to meet some more people and grow in your faith?  Our small groups are a great place to do that and they launch in January.  Maybe your marriage needs a little TLC?   We have an amazing marriage conference at the end of January you won’t want to miss. You can find details, here! Maybe you need some adventure and need to be inspired by God’s work in the world?   There are mission trips a plenty!  Maybe you’ve drifted and you just want to know that God exists and He loves you. Our upcoming series “Simple” will help you find your way back.

It’s never too late to try something new or to begin again. And after 2014, I’m incredibly grateful for that.

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Lisa Adams
Director of Missions

Football and Jesus

Do you remember your first “real” sports game?  You know, the one. It’s a team from a different school. You have a sweet uniform. The score counts. You will walk away a winner or a loser.  And you have the potential to make a mistake and/or make a brilliant play.

My youngest son plays his first football game this Saturday. He’s so excited to play a game!  As his mom, I’m pretty excited too!   I love seeing him train and practice to prepare for Saturday. I know the years of flag football and nights spent hanging around the field will pay off with the lessons learned from football. Some of my favorite lessons so far:

  1.  Your equipment matters. Your helmet and pads are critical for protecting yourself.  They also need to fit right so they don’t inhibit your ability to play the game.
  2. Head up. You have to keep your head up when tackling so that you don’t hurt yourself or others.
  3. Teamwork. Everyone has a position to play. Not everyone will make a touch down or carry the ball. But every position is critical.
  4. Perseverance. You have to keep on pushing the ball forward. It may be yard by yard or it might be a long toss down the field, but you have to keep working on it. If you lose a game, you have to show up for practice on Monday and try again.
  5. Discipline. It starts with basic skills and as your mastery improves, there are layers added. Learning how to block, tackle, and read a play all come with practice. You repeat things over and over so that it becomes automatic.   You improve physically and mentally each time you practice. You gain confidence and your body is more physically fit.

Sitting on the sidelines, I’ve realized that there are similarities in football and my faith.  My Bible, my trust in God, my friends, my daily Bible readings, and the time spent putting my faith in action are all critical to me growing as a Christian. I have to “practice” and be disciplined and I need others to be my team mates.

I’ll let you know what lessons we learned after this weekend!

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Lisa Adams,
Director of Missions and Care