Thursday, June 28, 2012


The message above is one that I've been hearing a lot lately. I guess I started paying attention to being the hero of my story when I read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In the book, he wrote about the fact that no one in their right mind wants to read about a guy who works all the time to buy a car, and then gets it and starts working to get something else. People read books and watch movies to hear about a tale of struggle and victory, either physically or emotionally, or usually both. Miller encourages his readers to be the heroes of their stories by getting out there and doing something that is worth writing a book about.

I agree that people need to get out there and do things with their lives that are bigger than themselves. That's why I like to travel. Being in unfamiliar places makes me feel like I'm living the kind of adventure that I want to read about.

But what I've been realizing more and more lately is that I'm not the hero of my own life's story. I'm just not capable of filling that role. And I'm okay with that because I've got a God who constantly whispers in my ear, "Let me be the hero of your story." In my own power, I can't change even one person in New Orleans or Seattle. Heck, I can't even change myself (believe me I've tried), but thankfully God has been doing that for me since I invited him to one Sunday night in 1999.

Last Fall, I had to preach a sermon for a class on Joshua 5:13-15. The main conclusion that I came to is that you have to let God be the hero of your story. Joshua and the Israelites couldn't have knocked down the walls of Jericho on their own. They had God's army with them doing the real fighting. Samson, pre- or post-haircut, couldn't have brought down the house without God giving him the strength. David couldn't have been undefeated in battle. Solomon wouldn't have had his wisdom and riches. Jeremiah wouldn't have known that people were threatening to take his life. Not to mention New Testament examples like Peter, Paul and Silas, and John. The whole Bible is one big example of people who (usually) got out of their own way and let God be the hero of their story. (Try reading that Bible with that in mind. It'll give you a whole new perspective on those stories about mighty men and women doing mighty things.)

So, when I have doubts about my abilities to do something, especially in relation to church planting, I try to remember that it's not my talents or strengths that are going to win the day or change lives. I simply can't fill the role of hero, and quite frankly, that's a huge relief.

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Friday

I've been concentrating on the future so much lately I feel like I have forgotten to celebrate the present (or in today's case, the recent past). So, in that spirit, here are some pictures from my recent vacation to Seattle and my hometown. 

It wouldn't be a trip to Seattle without going to the University District Farmers' Market. I used to walk there every Saturday to do some shopping and enjoy the atmosphere. 
I was excited that I chance to wear my cute cold-weather socks while I was in Seattle since I never get to wear them in New Orleans. I sent this picture to my wonderful friend who bought them for me.
While walking to lunch one day, I came across this little guy. He wasn't shy at all. He saw me and kept on drinking, giving me a chance to take several blurry photos.
Aww...Stumptown Coffee. I heart you too.
After Seattle, I went home for a few days. My parents took me to the lake one afternoon. Here's my mom looking beautiful as always.
We spent at least five minutes watching this squirrel near the lake. I'm still not totally convinced  it was a squirrel since it's face was so weird.
I snuck into the honors center at my alma mater and sat in the courtyard for a little while. I was happy to see that "The Little Scholar" is still holding down the fort.
The Monday after I got home, my office had a belated birthday party for me. I got to participate in the amazing New Orleans tradition of having dollar bills pinned on me to celebrate. I racked up enough money to eat out :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Plan

Today, I was eating my lunch of leftover Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce outside and realized that I was sitting on the same bench that I sat on over three years ago when I came to visit campus for the first time, staring at roughly the same view I had then.

I was at a point of decision then, much like I am today. Last time I left you, I was on my way to Seattle to find out what might await me there. Here's what happened: I walked around a lot, I went swing dancing with friends, I talked to a few wise people, and I found a position on a church planting team :)

Now, when I say "position," don't think of anything that pays money, because it doesn't. The way that my denomination now does church planting requires the church planter to come up with a majority, if not all, of their money on their own. "The Plan" as it stands right now is to stay in New Orleans until December and then move to Seattle in January after I have had time to raise some funds. Once I'm in Seattle, I'll find a job in a coffee shop or other place where I can plug myself in to community life. I will keep you updated on specifics as soon as I know specifics.

Since June 1, it's been a weird, winding journey. I didn't have a position, and then I found one in a way that was unexpected. I thought I had things financially worked out, and then I didn't. Every day brings something new and different, and "The Plan" gets tweaked a little with every new piece of information. There are days that I'm frustrated and just want to cry, and then there are days when optimism abounds. The church planters I met in Toronto weren't kidding when they warned us that church planting makes people feel bi-polar.

Yesterday, a friend reminded me of a song that they sing at preview weekends and special events at my school. I think that it expresses the attitude that I pray that I maintain no matter how many times "The Plan" changes.

Friday, June 1, 2012


So, I graduated a few weeks ago. You know, no big deal. It just took up every waking moment of the last three years of my life...Really, though, I'm really stinkin' excited that I finally have my Master of Divinity (in urban missions, if you want to get really specific). For those who couldn't be there for my big day, here's how it went:

I woke up, got ready, and went over to my parent's hotel room so that they could help me get in my graduation get-up. Those graduations hoods are deceptively simple-looking. We took pictures until I saw what time it was and rushed out the door.

I'm somewhere near the back of that big mass of people. They put all the missions people last.

The family after graduation. 

"Yep, they actually put it in there. Isn't it pretty?"

I took lots of pictures with professors and friends. These are two of the first friends I made when I moved to New Orleans. I knew that both before they started dating and I got to be in their wedding...They are part of many awesome stories I'll get to tell my kids one day.

While my family was ordering pizza at a local restaurant, I went to my friend C's house to pick up the cupcakes she made for my special day. In one word: Amazing!

At the end of the day, I gave my dad his very own diploma, which I had signed by the president, registrar (who was very impressed by how real it looked), and graduate dean. He deserved it since he proofread and formatted almost every paper I wrote in graduate school. 

I'm still getting used to the idea of being a graduate. Right now, it just feels like I'm on summer vacation. Everybody asks what's next. The answer, as of right now, is: I don't have any definite plans for the future. I know what I would like to do, and I need to find the right people who will let me do it.  In the meantime, this is where I'm going tonight. Maybe the lack of concrete future plans will change soon...