Monday, July 28, 2008

Casas Por Cristo

We made it! We got back from Juarez last Saturday night...and I'm still exhausted. I actually had to leave work early today because I just couldn't stay awake. It'll take some time to recover I guess! But wow, it was worth every hour of lost sleep. 
We took 45 people (around 34 youth and 11 adults...) to Juarez, Mexico and in 4 days, we built two houses from the ground up. And when I say "ground", I mean this was what we drove up to on Monday morning.
So our work was cut out for us. But our kids just never cease to amaze me. I had no doubt that they would get the job done. They are ridiculously awesome workers. 
We got up at 5:00 AM every morning, got out to the site at around 6:00, and our group worked until around 4:00 or 5:00 every day. The weather was hot but DRY! I can do dry heat any day...and that also meant that the evenings and early mornings were amazing. I have never seen so many flies in all of my life. And the junebugs were out of control. They kept trying to nest in my hair (which, speaking of, I didn't wash for 5 days straight! :) I love not caring what you look like or smell like...there's nothing like it.
We stayed at a church in Juarez, which was right across the street from a soccer field where our kids attempted to take the Mexican kids on in soccer a couple of nights. There's something so amazing about interacting with people with whom you can't verbally communicate. Although it was frustrating, I loved every minute of it. I loved reading expressions and eyes. I loved the things that we knew we had in common. I love the fact that even though we couldn't say it, we knew there was a connection between us that went beyond borders and nationalities. Cool stuff.
I haven't seen poverty quite like that before. The family we were building for (and the majority of the families there) lived in something like this...
Their shower consisted of a tube hanging down from the ceiling that rainwater flowed through. Their kitchen had little, to no, roof over it. We've been talking a lot about poverty and the imbalance of wealth in the world, but now, we were standing face-to-face with it and able to put actual people with the problem. It made me a little sick to think about my nice home in Tennessee.
The breakdown of the week went something like this:
Monday - leveling the dirt, mixing and pouring cement, setting the foundation
Tuesday - building the frame and getting it up, putting up blackwall
Wednesday - putting up chicken wire and roofing
Thursday - drywalling inside, stucco-ing outside
(I'm not gonna lie...I loved drywalling! I'm weird like that...maybe because I had the best drywall team ever)
And then by Friday morning, we were able to present this to Maria and her family:
We had two teams. I worked on the "big house" team:
And then we had the "small house" team:
The dedications of the two houses on Friday morning were amazing. To give a family keys to their own house (not pieced together cardboard boxes and wood scraps...but a HOUSE) and to tell them that it's because of the love of Christ that we were there was an incredible thing. And to see their tears and hear their prayers of gratitude and then to pray over their family and their home...well, suffice it to say, I wept.
I want to be back there. I miss it. It's incredibly hard to come back to comfort and complacency after being there. It just more deeply rooted the ache that I have been feeling in my Spirit for the impoverished and the sick and the hungry that are ALL over the world. I know two families are changed as a result of last week. But there are still millions to go. It has intensified the unsettlement I have been feeling in my Spirit. I still don't know exactly what to do with that. But I'm praying...
So I'll close with the top 10 things that I miss about Mexico:
10. REAL Mexican food...oh the tortillas and the rice...
8. sunsets that are not blocked by hills and tons of trees
7. Working alongside my Jesus family...I love them all more than I can say.
6. Manzana Lift (a little piece of heaven)
5. chicken wire
4. sweet little Juarez...oh I got so close to putting him in my bag and bringing him home
3. sombreros

2. some of the most adorable children I've ever seen
1. being the hands and feet of Jesus to our brothers and sisters in Mexico

Saturday, July 19, 2008


There are two families in Juarez, Mexico who don't have a house to live in....and that's going to change by this time next week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

break the spell

So I had a choice to make about 5 minutes ago: do my marathon training like I should be doing or sit out on the back deck and do some catch-up on the blogging..hmmmm. I think I made the right choice.

My family is in town right now and I am loving it. My parents and grandmother came up to spend the week with my sis and me. First of all, I love when guests come to town because we do all of the super-touristy things that I'd never do on a typical day here, like going to bluegrass shows at the Ryman, riding on the General Jackson Showboat, walking around the Opryland Hotel etc. But what I love even more is that it doesn't really matter what we're doing, I love being with my family. It's weird how you sometimes don't get homesick until you actually go home. I think it can be the same way with people. You sometimes don't realize how much you miss them until you're around them. 

Grandmommy is in our kitchen right now baking a chocolate pie. You just can't beat that...especially when we're talking about a 91-year-old woman here. She's amazing.

So some have been wondering what the name of my blog means. It comes from a quote by Kaj Munk that goes like this: 
"What is, therefore, our task today? Shall I answer: "Faith, hope and love"? That sounds beautiful. But I would say - courage. No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth. Our task today is recklessness. For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature...we lack a holy rage - the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity...a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world. To rage against complacency. To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the Kingdom of God."
Man, if that doesn't get you fired up...
I'm just starting to wonder what would happen if God's people would start to wake up and dream again. To start raging against complacency. I'm reading this awesome book right now called "Wide Awake" by Erwin McManus. I've never read a McManus book before, but have always wanted to. It's talking a lot about dreaming with our eyes open. About digging deep and discovering the amazing potential that God has placed in you that just might be lying dormant right now. I fear settling. In ANY area of life. Complacency is the enemy of the Church. 

I'm starting to awaken to the possibility of another way of life than the typical. Maybe I've sub-consciously chosen to settle for the typical. I think we all grow up with this picture of the "American" way of life, and assume this is what we are all to follow. But one of my favorite quotes from this book says, "Sometimes the limitations you are willing to accept establish the boundaries of your existence. If your dreams are supposed to be bigger than your life, then your life will always be limited by the size of your dreams...Is it possible that you are not living the life of your dreams because God has asked you what you want and you are asking for way too little?" It's made me wonder what limitations I have sub-consciously placed on my life. What "assumptions" have I made about how life is supposed to be that are limiting what God wants to do in and through my life? I don't know...I'm working through that right now. And I'm asking for God to give me a dream. He's definitely been giving me some "holy rage" lately about so many things in this world, but I can't stay in that place. The world needs me - the world needs YOU - to dream and to stop sleepwalking and settling and live up to the greatness that God has put in each of us. McManus says, "The future is not waiting for us. It's waiting within us." So I'm asking Him to give me a dream. 

That's what restlessly seeking recklessness means.

And there could be nothing more fitting than leaving you with the lyrics from one of the more awesome songs of all time by Mute Math.

Come on, can’t I dream for one day
There’s nothing that can’t be done
But how long should it take somebody
Before they can be someone

‘Cause I know there’s got to be another level
Somewhere closer to the other side
And I’m feeling like it’s now or never
Can I break the spell of the typical

I’ve lived through my share of misfortune
And I’ve worked in the blazing sun
But how long should it take somebody
Before they can be someone

Because it’s dragging me down
I’d like to know about when
When does it all turn around

Friday, July 4, 2008

Pledging Allegiance

I am proud to be an American. I'm a loyal U.S. citizen. My eyes will very likely get misty tonight when I hear "Proud to be an American" at the fireworks show (because they always play it...and I always get mushy in that song). I am thankful that God blessed me with the opportunity to be born in this country. There are so many things that I love about it.

This is the first 4th of July ever, though, that I'm feeling a little bit of tension, I have to admit. Among all of the things God has been awakening me to over the past few months has been this question of where my true allegiance lies.  Because as great as it is to be proud of my country, is that where my allegiance has been stopping? Does my love for people stop at the border of my own country? According to 2 Corinthians, we are ambassadors for Christ. Our citizenship is in heaven; we are foreigners on this planet. An ambassador speaks in a foreign country on behalf of his king. What if we were to send an ambassador to another country but instead of speaking on behalf of our country, he got so comfortable with the culture that he chose to settle down, buy a house, switch his citizenship, and forgot his purpose? What would we do? We’d cut him off and send another one in his place! But what about me? I am an ambassador for Christ but sometimes I feel like I have chosen a different purpose and have gotten way too comfortable in this world and in our society (especially in America!). 

I have a frustration with the label “Christian”…how we use it as an adjective and not a noun. We say that he’s a “Christian doctor” or she’s a “Christian teacher”. But this seems to indicate that he’s a doctor who just happens to be a Christian or she’s a teacher who just happens to be a Christian. This is not our true identity; we are strangers in this world! So what if instead, we started thinking of him as “a Christian ambassador disguised in the world as a doctor” or her as a “Christian ambassador disguised in the world as a teacher”. It totally changes our perspective. Even more than a Tennessean or a Republican or a Democrat or an American, I am a Christian ambassador. And that changes the way that I see EVERYTHING. It changes who I consider “family”. Jesus gave us a new definition of family. He said that once we accepted Christ, we were adopted into the family of God and that we have a new set of brothers and sisters that runs deeper than biology or geography or nationality. In Irresistible Revolution, Shane says it this way: “A love for our own relatives and a love for the people of our own country are not bad things, but our love does not stop at the border. Jesus is telling us that we have family in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine. We have family members who are starving and homeless, or dying of AIDS, or in the midst of war.” I’m coming face to face with the reality that I have not always viewed the world this way. I have subconsciously held this “us” and “them” mentality. I look back on the way I felt after September 11 and am convicted of the fact that my love simply reflected the borders and allegiances of the world. I mourned the deaths of each American soldier, but did not feel the same anger or passion or pain for each Iraqi death. But their lives are just as precious, no more, no less. That’s hard for me to wrap my mind around, especially when you start talking about the lives of the terrorists who are responsible for the 9/11 attacks. The fact that God loves Osama bin Laden as much as he does Mother Theresa. I can’t comprehend it. 

So it's not like I'm saying that it's bad that we are proud of our country and have a love and loyalty to it. But I pray that we would always remember that even more than being Americans, we are ambassadors for another kingdom! I’m praying that God would give me eyes to see the world more like He does. That my central identity and allegiance would no longer be national. But that my allegiance would be to the Kingdom of God…and that my new “us” would be the church, the people of God, whether they be in America or in Iraq or in Afghanistan.