Josh and Melissa

josh and meli

 

Dear Josh and Melissa,

So you’re getting married this evening…

Know that I’m thankful for your friendship these past few years – for small group, and worship, and prayer.  For coffee conversations, and dinners on the patio, and the steady diet of ideas, music, silliness, laughter, and joy…

It’s been a delight to see your love grow – the way you make each other come alive, the spark in your eyes on catching sight of the other.  Praying you hold onto that over the years as your love deepens and matures, and as you continue on this journey together.

Praying your love will create a space for beautiful things to grow, for God’s kingdom to be extended in new ways and spaces…
Praying for patience, for grace, for joy, for laughter…
Praying for protection of this relationship, that you are able to keep God as the foundation on which you build the structure of your life together…
Praying that you are reminded today and every day of all those who love you and have come from near and far to celebrate you, to encourage you, and to support you in your commitment to God and to each other.

You are both loved.

Thanks for inviting others in to celebrate with you today…

Can not wait…  Now let’s get the party started…

and suddenly, you're home…

It hit me out the blue today – but Chicago really feels like home.  A combination of thoughts as I reflected on today and the past week boiled over and left me feeling content, restful, and settled in so many ways.  Here’s a couple vignettes of why this place has all of a sudden felt like home:

– Sunday morning Dad and Heather came over to my apartment – we spent time getting food ready, the ham in the oven, and then off to church…  worshipping together in a space that celebrates beauty and truth, with friends and brothers and sisters – cello and bass and mandolin fusing with bagpipes and chorale echoing through the spacious cathedral, stained glass and liquid light and warm sound as we celebrated the victory of Life over death…  Then everyone back to my place for cooking and laughter and stories and an abundance of food – my heart overflows…

– Lunches at hole in the wall pubs and Jewish delis, cheese and wine with friends before small group, fasting and prayer and awareness of lack – and all those shared with friends old and new.

– A job that is challenging, growing, fulfilling, and loads of fun – newness and variety and opportunity – and all of that with a great fit for who I am, what I value – conversations with teenagers about what it was like being smuggled across the border, their families, their hopes, their fears, their problems and frustrations…  Laughter and games and bad movies and bad haircuts and temper tantrums and breakthroughs…  Amazing coworkers and laughter intertwined through it all.

– The lake – a running path from my door to the waves and the water, the skyline of Chicago floating behind me or before me, wind and sand and sky, races and smiles and the joy of movement…

– My church – small group – a people who value questions, and prayer, and food, and worship, and service, and action, and justice, and faithfulness, and each other…  Volleyball and soccer and teaching and praying – beauty and pathos – life…

– Friends – from roommates who have become like brothers to coworkers, people from school, church friends, and the like – helping move and sharing meals and laughter and prayer and movement towards the ineffable.

Tonight, I’m thankful that this place is becoming home…

light and shadow

Sometimes, words are not enough.

Sometimes, words confuse, weigh down…

But sometimes, words are all we have to give.  And so these words are written, knowing full well how inadequate and superficial they are.  And the hope is that through the words, love is shared – presence sent – courage grows – a candle is flickers – the darkness is kicked – and daylight spills out and overflows just a little bit more.

—–

I was 17 when I moved into the dorms at Taylor – fresh from the jungles of Peru, a little overwhelmed and confused by the United States, by the culture, by life.  I was heartsick and homesick and felt desperately alone, wanting to be with people who knew me – with my family & friends – for my mom’s cancer to be healed – for death to take a step back from our lives.

There was a community of international students, missionary kids, and other fun people who lived in a home off-campus called “the Souphouse.”  For that 17 year old kid, this home and these people were a lifeline.  They understood me, listened, and provided a safe place for me to adjust, acclimate, and begin to process what was going on in my life.  Dave and Rhys were a part of that community, and I am so thankful.

—–

This morning, I sat at my computer, reading about their daughter Lia, who is in a hospital in Seattle.  I read, and I prayed, and I wept.  She is fighting for life, for freedom from pain, and her family is with her in the midst of that.  This is Lia.  She’s three years old.

Rhys wrote,

“…we’re not seeking a cure. we’re seeking to do as little harm, and hoping to introduce something good. the goal is to maintain, to hang on and get every bit of life from these moments…

…parts of lia dwell in God’s house already, her feet are dancing, and her mouth sings with the angels. her body runs without effort, and yet she is still tied to this earth. her body is ground-heavy, weighed with the brokenness of being alive. even as i treasure her, i know that her house is being built. it’s not brick and mortar, but a floor to ceiling windowed house that opens to jungles and oceans. giraffes run freely through the rooms, leaving behind little star shaped footprints. the ocean laps against her windows, and the dolphins come to speak with her. she holds a merry court with angels, and her body is strong.

 when i think about it like this, the promises don’t seem so hard. it’s just a deep measure of peace surrounding we two on the couch while we wait…”

—–

water in my eyes…

—–

As I was reading, I heard Gungor playing in the background:  ”

This is not the end
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider

This is not our last
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider

And you know you’ll be alright
Oh and you know you’ll be alright

This is not the end
This is not the end of us
We will shine like the stars bright, brighter

and once again, tears streamed down my face.  This is our hope, and our prayer.  For Lia.  And for the world.

—–

     “Praise, praise!” I croak.  Praise God for all that’s holy, cold, and dark…  I kneel down beside him till within his depths I see a star.

Sometimes this star is still.  Sometimes she dances…  Within that little pool of Wear she winks at me.  I wink at her.  The secret that we share I cannot tell in full.  But this much I will tell.  What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.

~Frederick Buechner (Godric)

As we wait, and hope, and pray, and mourn, and weep, and listen, and treasure, my mind keeps coming back to that last line.

“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”  

So we pray peace, and rest, and love, and ringing peals of little girl laughter to fill and overflow that hospital room, for today, and each and every day that remains…  And through the tears, we wait.  And through the dark, we wait.  We wait for hope realized.  We wait for all things new.  We wait for Easter.  We wait for You.  We wait…  Be near us in the waiting.

—–

For those of you who pray, or just want to know more, you can go here for updates, prayer requests, etc…  Thank you.  And if you want to help friends travel to see Lia in March, go here.

Cool water

So this past Friday afternoon was quite eventful as I knocked out a big chunk of applications, bit the bullet, and sent them in. In celebration, I drove into the suburbs and spent the night with some friends. There’s something refreshing and life-giving about being with people who really, truly know you, and vice versa. And when you’ve known someone for a long time, it’s just that much sweeter.

Seeing Jeff and Megan and their beautiful daughter was long overdue, a breath of fresh air and cool water and warm sunlight. Sitting on the couch in the living room next to a fake fire (or rather, a real fire that burned on a fake log), laughing, telling stories, asking questions, challenging and encouraging each other…

Anyway, I’m grateful. Grateful for family, for friends both old and new, for those who know me, and who have allowed me to know them. Grateful for those that are exist and those that are developing. I am so rich, so blessed.

So much of this past year has been transitory – leaving Brazil, moving to the US, adjusting… saying good-byes – so many good-byes… preparing for the future… trying to figure out which doors to knock on, which to pursue, which dreams are worth fighting for and which dreams should be left to die gently… discovering what friendships look like now that I’m here, and not there… stumbling towards home, seeking clarity and wisdom, hoping and praying for grace…