Simple Things in the Neighborhood

Simple Things in the Neighborhood

This past weekend, we went into the neighborhoods to pick up trash, pass out flyers and candy, and pray with neighbors. Some would say these things are simple and ineffective, but as the day progressed, we noticed the difference we were starting to make.

Not only did the area start to look a little cleaner, neighbors were out, they were actually opening their doors for us, and they actually had prayer requests that we prayed for.

One woman who had driven by us a couple times, decided to purchase some waters for us because she so appreciated what we were doing. She purchased enough flavored water for all 15 of us to have a water bottle.

The group that was with me was not from Omaha, and not even from Nebraska. IT was a group of middle school students from a youth group in Iowa. They were able to knock on doors and pray with neighbors.

One such moment was unforgettable and will forever stay with me. A group of three or four students walked up to a house, knocked on the door and offered their flyer and bag of candy. The elderly woman gladly accepted and when they kids asked if they could pray, she requested prayer for her family to grow closer together. One kid prayed for her and then it seemed like they were coming to a close when a girl asked if she could jump in. She prayed passionately for this woman and her family and spoke of how important and special family are. By the time she was finished, both the woman and I had tears in our eyes.

One small prayer can be effective. One small act can be effective. A knock on a door or a little bag of candy can be effective.

We need to stop searching for so many big things to transform, and discover how small you can get.

The simple things this past weekend didn’t just affect the neighborhood and the people we encountered. They affected me, and each one of the people who were with me. We saw and experienced the power of a simple prayer, a simple kind act of picking up trash.

You will be surprised at who will say yes when you ask if you can pray. Try it!

Praying for the courage to step out in small ways and see how God will move.

Our Morning Without Water

Our Morning Without Water

Water is a necessity we all use daily, to drink, to shower, to cook and clean. When it’s taken away, we wonder how we will live or get ready for work, or wash those dishes in the sink. Yesterday our water was missing from our lives for just a few short hours.

They had been working on the pipe up the street since three in the morning, yet must have ran into some complications because it was not finished when they (or we) would have liked. My husband found out when he went to wash his hands and there was nothing there. A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door with one of the workers explaining what happened and that they hoped to have the water flowing by 1pm.

I found out by my husband coming up the stairs, asking how he was supposed to get ready with no water. He had been expecting to take a shower, brush his teeth and potentially do some of those dishes, among other things. As we discussed how we were to manage with no water for a bit, I was surprisingly unflinching.

I had a little water in my cup from the night before and gave it to him to brush his teeth. I had a full water bottle that I keep for class that he was able to use to “wash” his body.

I had face wipes I use for traveling that we could use to wash our faces.

I had dry shampoo to keep my hair fresh.

Just the day before I received a free one liter water from Influenster that would satisfy my needs for the morning.

There was an almost untouched cup of tea that I simply reheated in the microwave.

ALL OF THESE THINGS we had on hand, when just minutes before we wondered what we would do to prepare for the day of work. God knew- and it really wasn’t that big of a deal.

HOWEVER, (and this is where it gets a little more real) there are so many who do not have water daily, whether it is not clean, or they live in a place that the water is so far away that a day’s journey can only happen every so often. There are people who get water and other utilities shut off because they are unable to pay. Some say they made bad decisions and that’s why they are unable to pay for water. What about you? Should you get punished for every bad decision you make with something as extreme as a daily need of water?

Our water actually was turned back on by 10am and it was nothing more than an odd couple of hours where we had to come up with creative solutions. BUT some people don’t have that luxury. Some don’t have the water leftover from the day before because there was none the day before.

I’m not writing this post because I think YOU need to change your mindset or open your eyes to the realities that many in our world face. I AM writing this post to let you know how my perspectives and ideas about the world and how it works are shifting. I believe it is a good shift, and I am thankful for the shift, even when it is uncomfortable-like not having water.

I AM writing this post to let you know how my perspectives and ideas about the world and how it works are shifting. I believe it is a good shift, and I am thankful for the shift, even when it is uncomfortable-like not having water.

It only happens when I get uncomfortable, when life is interrupted and I’m not able to do what I normally do, but instead am forced to be still, think and pray and ponder on things that go beyond myself. Things out of my control.

I AM praying that you will allow yourself the opportunity to get uncomfortable, to allow yourself to comprehend another’s reality, and to sit and ponder and pray about what that means for you in your own context.

UNSUBSCRIBE

UNSUBSCRIBE

How many useless emails do you get on a daily basis? I’m always one for a deal, so I seem to find myself signing up for an email discount, and subsequently receiving multiple emails, sometimes daily from the same places about things I neither want nor need.

I find myself almost every morning, weeding out all of those meaningless emails to find the few good ones that actually contain valuable information for my life. Years upon years of spending time reading through subject lines and deleting thousands upon probably millions of emails, and today, just today, I unsubscribed. Thinking it would be too much of a hassle to unsubscribe from these countless emails, I just dealt with them because I thought I had to.

I “suffered” through the daily bombardment of countless emails unnecessarily! All that I had to do was simply scroll to the bottom of the email, and hit that joyous word UNSUBSCRIBE. It was much simpler than I thought, and got me thinking about some other things I was possibly avoiding because they seemed complicated, when they might actually be quite simple.

Maybe that means actually writing that thank you letter that you meant to send to your grandma

  • calling that friend that you lost touch with
  • cleaning up the mess in the sink (it will probably take less than 2 minutes- you can do it!)
  • Folding the clothes
  • Saying you’re sorry

Sometimes, we build things up in our heads to make them scary and huge, when a simple action can rid us of the worry and anxiety we create for ourselves.

If it actually ends up being bigger, sometimes the simple act can be a good start, and makes it easier to act again, and again, and again.

Unsubscribe.

What is your first response?

What is your first response?

My husband and I met at the nonprofit where we work and are choosing to live in North Omaha to intentionally see the reality of there one day being no inner city in Omaha, NE.

We live in a “lighthouse” where we want to build community and spread love and hope so the people around us can reach their full God-given potential.

Recently we were driving home around 9pm and as we are pulling up to the house, we see two individuals digging through our trash. Immediately I felt this creeping sense of fear and surprise. Why would someone be digging through my trash?! What could they possibly be trying to find? Information? Food? Cans to sell and get a little cash?

Continue reading “What is your first response?”

Irreplaceable People, Unexpected Love

Irreplaceable People, Unexpected Love

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Things are replaceable, people are not. -Tow Truck Driver

So thankful that my person and I are alive and well -a miracle and blessing from our father. And that replaceable thing we drive around in, well God took care of that too.

This weekend didn’t turn out how we expected or desired with a whole tire coming off the car twice- once on an expressway. Somehow -both times- we managed to get to safety without impacting anyone or anything else. God gifted us with people- irreplaceable people- who were willing to help strangers in our time of need. He sent those to check on us and offer rides or help and more to temporarily put the tire back on the car.  It was a miracle how it all unfolded–we are still marveling at it!

At first I cried because I was so scared. Then I cried because so many cared!

With it being the weekend before Valentines, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate love than by experiencing God showing us his love in so many [unexpected] ways. We missed a marriage conference and fellowship with some friends, but we gained a greater understanding of what it means to rely on God, submit to him, and appreciate the things that have eternal value.

I feel our marriage has deepened in a way that only God could have allowed and our faith in him strengthened. He is good and he looks out for his children.

Praying you feel His extravagant and sometimes unexpected love this season.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.’” John 10:10-11

Pay Attention: 1 Year Later

Pay Attention: 1 Year Later

Last year, yesterday, I wrote a blog post called pay attention (thanks FACEBOOK for telling me!). Yesterday (this year) I had another “pay attention” moment. At the moment I am in Costa Rica, it is 6:45am, and I am waiting to eat breakfast that starts at 7. Yesterday, the group of world changers I am with decided to go white water rafting. We got all signed up, strapped up, and then trained up to prepare ourselves for the crazy waters ahead. Our guide taught us some commands like: “forward” meaning we all paddle forward; “lean in” meaning there are rocks nearby and we should lean into the boat lest we fall out; “get down” means there is extremely turbulent waters and the whole crew needs to get in the boat and weather the storm until it passes; finally, he told us the commands for the various sides like “left side back, right side forward” meaning we need to somehow turn the boat to maneuver it down the river. This was all very adrenaline pumping and while we were thinking about our safety and listening to the commands, I realized I was paying no attention to anything else going on around me besides the people in my boat. As soon as we encountered some peaceful waters, I had to intentionally remind myself to look up and remember where I was-in COSTA RICA-and enjoy the beauty that surrounded me before the next Rapids engulfed my mind. 

After this amazing rafting experience, I was reflecting on how much my life is like white water rafting in many ways. Between a full time job and ministry, grad school, a serious relationship and managing other relationships with family and friends among countless other things, my life often feels like one rapid after another. Managing the boat, steering in the right direction and screaming “forward!” to the rest of my soul. In those times, I have little time or energy to enjoy my surroundings and rest. 

Like the peaceful times in the raft, I need to intentionally remind myself of where I am and often who I am, in the moments when I can rest and relax. It wasn’t until those calm spots on the river when I truly started to recognize and embrace that I was rafting in Costa Rica with my friends and we were working together so well to navigate the waters. 

The last command our guide constantly shouted at us was “STOP!” Where we stopped paddling forward or doing what we were doing to just ride the river. 

While I am experiencing my time of rest and fun in Costa Rica, I want to make the most of it and enjoy it to the fullest! However, I now will take back this little piece of wisdom to “pay attention” when I stop. 


I hope you can do the same, wherever you are! 

One Call Away


I had my first plunger experience recently. It was a little bit scary and a lot a bit embarrassing. No one wants to say they clogged the toilet, yet we all have at some point.  
The thought of someone else taking care of my mess made me sick. So I turned to the only one who I knew could help, wouldn’t judge me and would lovingly understand my mess. My father. He is a plumber, among many other things. And knew exactly what I needed to do. He text-walked me though the steps to plunge the toilet. I asked a million questions before I actually got down and dirty, and finally, with surprisingly little effort, the clog was gone. 

I couldn’t help but think of how I try to hide my other embarrassing messes. When the water pressure gets low and my heart gets clogged, I don’t want people to know and try to just let it sit and maybe eventually it will go away. 

I don’t want any other person to know, for fear of judgement and disgust. 

Sometimes time does heal, but other times, we need to grab our plunger and get to work. 

Thankfully, we have a loving father we can run to, who will never condemn us or ridicule us for his mess. He will always answer our call. He happens to be an expert plumber, a jack of all trades, and he knows exactly what we need to do. He lovingly takes us through the steps, often without us knowing what the next one is. We plunge and plunge until the clog is gone. And at the end, we can breathe a sigh of relief and thank our Father who was with us every step of the way. He has an answer to every one of our questions-though sometimes we don’t like the answer. 

We just have to humble ourselves and ask. 

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭NLT‬

“The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭69:32‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What clogs do you have in your heart today? 

Take some time to seek his face, give him a call and maybe even do some heart plumbing work.