Leanne gets into the construction action as she nails the first piece of wood to the back wall of the house.

I have to give Leanne a lot of credit.  Construction is not her first love.  I think she would much prefer interacting with the children throughout the village.  Nonetheless, she dove in with an open mind and a willingness to get dirty to help build two houses during our week in Xenacoj.  Her hammering technique may need some polishing, but her passion for making a difference in the community and the world is unbelievably inspiring.

I’m so thankful for such a wonderful partner.

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It didn’t take long.  Soon Betty’s youngest were fighting for the attention of Hannah, Isaac, and the other younger members of our team.  (I’m not sure they are too crazy about the guy behind the camera though.)

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It didn’t take long, but we began to see signs that Rosita was warming up to us.  She was the shortest one in the family, and she was considerable shorter than our family.  I wonder if Rosita had an ache in her neck after our visit.

Without a father, without a bed of her own, and without suitable housing, it’s easy to see how things would get you down.

With our visit, things started looking up for Rosita and her family.

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opportunity

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent some time on the road this week traveling to various job sites.  I try to make the most of my travel time by listening to podcasts in the car.  I can’t recall which podcast I was listening to, but something made me think about missed opportunities.

If I think back on my past, I can remember missed opportunities – things that I regret.  There are times when I didn’t speak up when I should have said something.  There are times when I should have been there for someone.  There are times when I didn’t take risk or a step of faith.

Part of me kicks myself (figuratively of course) when I initially remember these times.

I don’t want to be a person who misses out on opportunities.  In fact, I want to make the most of the opportunities in my path.

But I must also remember that there is redemption even in the missed opportunities.  If we take an appropriate amount of time to reflect on our past regrets, we can actually learn to live life with more courage, with more action, and with greater confidence that God will work through our fears, our insecurities, and our laziness for something far better than we could ever imagine.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

What is one thing you regret from your past?  How have you turned your regret into redemption?

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare.”  Isaiah 55:1-2

Rosita is offering me a drink.

She must have known I was thirsty.

This picture represents so many thoughts about who we came to serve, and where we find fulfillment when we are thirsty.  Jesus said in Matthew 25-31-46:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

We are all thirsting for lasting refreshment and fulfillment.

This photo reminds me that this thirst is fulfilled when I serve others, because when I serve others I am serving Jesus, and He is the one who provides lasting refreshment and fulfillment from my thirst that needs to be quenched.

Why do you thirst?

Come find lasting water which will cause you to thirst no more.  Come find Jesus by serving others.

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Embrace Your Story

May 20, 2015 — 2 Comments

story

I think understanding your life as a story is a really terrific way of kind of knowing where you are and knowing who you are.

Donald Miller

I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz a thousand times, and there’s still something inside of me that wants to reach inside the movie to tell Dorothy to throw water on the Wicked Witch at the beginning of the movie instead of waiting until the end.

I’ve seen It’s A Wonderful Life a hundred times, and there’s always something inside of me that wants to tell George Bailey and his friends not to go sledding onto the ice.

I’ve seen Back To The Future many, many times, and there’s always something inside of me that wants to throw some plutonium into the DeLorean before Marty McFly goes back in time.

Have you ever watched a movie that you’ve seen before?  Even though you know what will happen, do you ever wish you could change the outcome of the movie or of a scene from the movie?

What if you knew how to change the outcome of something in your life?  How would that change your life?

We all have a story.  We all have regrets.  We all have somethings in our lives that we’d like to alter.

But what if those things were meant to be?  What if we came to appreciate how our past shaped us for today?

We can’t change the past, but we can change the way we look at it.  We can also chose to use our past to push us ahead to the future.

After all, Dorothy may never have learned the lesson that “there’s no place like home” if she hadn’t endured the trials brought on by the Wicked Witch.  George Bailey may never have learned the true blessing of friendship if he never lost his hearing in the frozen pond water.  And Marty McFly may never have learned the value of family and the value of standing up for others if he went right back to 1985 instead of staying in 1955 for a while.

What part of your story do you need to learn to embrace?  How has your story impacted who you are today?

After discussing the situation, Ken and I sprung into action.  We could sit on the edge of the foundation wall and analyze, but it wouldn’t build a house.  As Yoda told Luke Skywalker, “Do, or do not.  There is no try.”

If you want to make things happen.  You have to spring into action.

We are called to be people of action, and this picture reminds me of the importance of moving from a place of planning to a place of actually doing.

The challenge of this picture is to get up and do something.  What are you waiting for?

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writing quote

This week, I have the privilege of answering questions for students at Fairview Christian School in Seattle, Washington.  A college friend is a teacher at Fairview, and she contacted me and another classmate (Cindy Starr Stewart) about being part of the schools Ask An Author program.  The kids from kindergarten through middle school sent me a list of questions for me to answer.  Since I couldn’t be there in person, I created this video to answer some of the kids’ questions.

Even though I wrote and published the book over a year ago, it was fun to look back on my journey to becoming an author.

After you watch the video, answer the questions I asked the kids by leaving your thoughts in the comments.

If you were going to write a book, what would your write about?  How do you think writing a book would change your life?

We’re an analytical bunch.  Ken and I are both engineers, so you can imagine our conversations as we looked at the front wall support structure finished product.

Will it hold up?  How will we attached the wood for the walls?  Is there a better, more efficient way to build this house?

It was so nice to have a fellow engineer on the trip.

Things on this house are about to get exciting.  Stay tuned!

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thomas watson quote

If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good.

Thomas J. Watson

I’ve been writing about discipline for the past few weeks.  Why would I spend so much time focusing on disciple?

 

The theme of my blog is stretch.  I write about things that are stretching me.  I reflect on life’s stretch marks.  And I hope my reflections will help others to stretch as well.

Do I have these disciplines down?  By no means.  In fact, these are disciplines I am challenged to work on myself.  These are disciplines that cause me to stretch.

I want to keep stretching; therefore, I ponder the areas I need to cultivate in order to make the most of my life of stretch.

Over the weekend, I saw the movie Selma.  I hadn’t heard a lot about the story before I watched the movie, but I was told this was a movie I needed to see.  The movie portrays part of the journey of Dr. Martin Luther King and his pursuit of civil rights for African-Americans particularly the right to vote in the deep south – in towns like Selma, Alabama.  Selma’s population was nearly half black, but most of this population was restricted from voting.  In their efforts to stand up to this injustice, blacks were repeatedly knocked down by a white-controlled government and law enforcement.

Martin Luther King was committed to standing up against this injustice in a non-violent manner.  He risked ridicule, harm to his family, and harm to his personal safety.  And yet, he persisted.  He stood up when “enough was enough.”

Standing up for what you believe in is easy when everyone else is on board, but it’s not so easy when you risk going against the grain of culture.

I want to fit in.  I don’t want to rock the boat.  I don’t want to risk disruption to my “happy” world.

It’s time to institute another discipline.  We must learn to practice the discipline of standing up.  We must learn to stand up when “enough is enough.”

God has given you and me a voice – a voice to stand up and speak out for things that matter.

Are you content to go along with the status quo?  Or is it time for you to stand up, to speak up, and to make a difference?

These are questions we all must ponder.  I don’t want to reach the end of my life and wonder if I could have done more to stand up for my beliefs.  I want to know for certain that I took a stand and I rallied others for a cause that matters.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

How would your world be different if you made the decision to practice the discipline of standing up?  How has standing up made a difference in your life?  What causes you to stand up?