7 Ways to Spread Kindness this Week

kindness

My heart aches for my country today. For the hatred and the alienation, for the division and the brokenness. My heart goes out to those who feel betrayed by their own country and for the damage that has been done, as I strive to respect the leadership that is now in place and trust God’s hand in all of this.

My mind is heavy with words yet I am at a loss to know what to say.

Broken culture is everywhere – media, entertainment, business, and politics. We have watched while Hollywood waters down masculinity and femininity, inflames racial issues, and perpetuates destructive worldviews. We have been alienated and put down and shamed and belittled in a thousand ways. Silence and passiveness have been celebrated as well as abuse and violence. Our differences have been labeled as weakness, rather than strength.

We shed tears for the state of this nation, but may we weep also for the times we have remained silent while all this was happening around us—when we closed our eyes to the pain and the hurt. May these times awaken within us that which has stayed dormant for far too long. May we embrace our God-given differences, our individual strengths and recognize how desperately we need each other.

So how do we process this? How do we not only cope, but rise up and take action?

Friends, I implore you, look for the light. If you can’t find kindness around you, be it. Be the good that you wish to see in the world. Envision the kind of world you want your sons and your daughters to live in, and begin to live in that hope. Champion hope, for hope is the substance of change.Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Cast vision for the broken people around you and lend them strength to keep fighting for love and unity.

Most importantly of all…pray. Intercede on behalf of broken leadership, broken systems, and broken hearts. Pray Daniel 9 over this nation. Pray for repentance, unity, truth, love, and deep healing in every heart. Pray for those who stand against you, even when it’s hard…especially when it’s hard. Lean into the heartache and grief; let them fuel your prayers for radical change. Encourage others to do the same.

And in the meantime, here is a list of 7 things you can do to promote kindness this week. #spreadlovenothate

7 Ways to Spread Kindness this Week:

  1. Practice gratitude. Write down 3-5 things every morning that you’re grateful for. Point out things you love about the people around you. Look for the good in people.
  2. Listen first. Be slow to criticize. Pay attention to what kind of vibes someone is giving off—are they stressed or uptight or defensive? Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about what they may be feeling and why.
  3. Let love be the motive that guides and informs you. Forgive. Extend grace. Let go of the outcome.
  4. Do something that brings you joy. Take a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood. Color a picture. Bake brownies. Call a loved one. Paint. Write. Tell a silly joke. Be intentional about it. If you are joyful, you will emanate joy to the people around you.
  5. Do a small act of kindness—anonymous or not. Write a thank you letter or note of encouragement. Bring someone coffee. Do the dishes. Send an encouraging text. Bring home flowers. Hold the door open.
  6. Ask someone how they are and linger for a few undistracted minutes. Take time to genuinely listen to their answer. Don’t touch your phone. Let them know they are seen.
  7. Smile. At your loved ones, your neighbor, that co-worker that drives you nuts, the stranger in the grocery store. Look them in the eyes and genuinely smile. Say hi, nod your head…whatever it is you do, but smile. Spread kindness.

Now go do it, hope warrior. We’re counting on you.

kindness2

Save

Save

Advertisements
7 Ways to Spread Kindness this Week

The Truth About Coming Home

I’ve learned, as a writer, that there are certain words you can’t force.

There are times when you must write even though you don’t feel inspired and that can certainly be useful, but there are certain times you can’t.

These are the words that come from quietness and pondering; the kind that seem to overflow from somewhere deep within.

This is what I have found to be true.

IMG_1486e

I have been back on US soil for over a month now and I’ve wanted to write about it all – how crazy and scary and amazing the past 9 months have been – but I couldn’t. The words weren’t ready.

But as I’ve began to finally settle into a rhythm in this new-old life and discovered that it’s far harder (and far easier) than I anticipated, words have been simmering at the back of my mind and in my spirit.

And when 4 different people (who you didn’t even know read your blog) in the last two weeks ask about your old blog and if you still write on it because you should…you know it’s time.

IMG_0092eprof

For me writing has always been about breakthrough, about sorting through the pieces after a storm and making sense of it all, turning it into something beautiful, something useful, and passing it back to those who follow.

But lately there has been this whisper in my spirit – something about writing humble, about not having some wisdom to offer after everything is alright, but being something to offer in the midst of the process. Something like carrying hope alongside the hurting and not merely throwing it back from the finish line.

I’ve been humbled a lot over the past few months – had my eyes opened to who I am without God, when I loose sight of His way and misplace His Lordship with my own. It’s a terrifying thing to realize you are capable of doing the very things you’ve judged others for.

And I’ve prided myself in being a non-judgemental person, an empathetic. But sometimes God strips away the person we think we are, and shows us what we really are apart from His grace.

banner

No part of me wanted to leave Indonesia. And I had plans to stay. I had it all worked out in my head how I was going to make it happen. But that last Friday in April I was offered a choice that wasn’t really a choice to return to the US and continue my studies. I cried ugly for a whole weekend, threw a lot of questions at God. Yet His only answer was the same thing He always says,

Do you trust Me?

So I swallowed hard my plans and my tears, packed two suitcases, and hugged my friends and life in Bali goodbye.

IMG_1116e

I know this is just a season. And I’ve come to understand why I’m here. The Lord has work I need to do, people I need to talk to, things I need to learn. It’s a process. I’m learning patience, trust, and discipline.

But I now have a job that I love and is challenging and stretching me in new ways. My church is launching a new campus in a different part of town and I get to be a part of that. I am meeting new people and building relationships and making connections. I have an opportunity to study at a great university with wonderful professors. God is good. He is really good.

IMG_1680e

I’ve learned that you can’t force things, and sometimes you can’t choose.

There are times when you must follow blindly, just trust that He knows what He’s doing, that He really truly does know best.

And with quietness and pondering,

This is what I have found to be true.

~Grace

 

P.S. I am thoroughly enjoying being back with my family. ❤

IMG_1438e

The Truth About Coming Home

Home. Happiness. Here.

IMG_0129
Home is waking tucked between pillows to the light leaking through rain-glazed windows.
Happiness is opening worn pages to favorite passages and finding strength in familiar truth.
Home is omlettes and homemade biscuits and apple butter with the roomie.
Happiness is growing into a language you hope to one day call your own.
Home is the endless stream of motorbikes weaving around your car on the bypass. It’s street food carts and little warungs and rice with every meal.
Happiness is little cafes and dark coffee and rainy afternoons. It’s acoustic ballads in the headphones and doing work you’re passionate about.
Home is the presence of a heart you trust. One that whispers, cease your striving and just be. I take you as you are.
Happiness is knowing that before all your doing, you are already enough.
Home is a meal shared with family from all over the globe because there’s nothing like food and Jesus to bring people together. It’s probing conversation and honesty.
Happiness is here and now and this.


*the other day, a writer friend of mine asked me what home and happiness meant in the context of that day. this piece was the result. thanks josh!
Home. Happiness. Here.

Indonesia Has My Heart

IMG_7610September comes and I hit the ground running.

Day one brings school ministries and lunch meetings and new faces.

IMG_8190Everyday new faces. And trying to remember all the names when most of them are Asian and unusual…I’m getting there.

Day three brings community and new-found family and I knew that very first gathering that I was all in. Happy tears. Grateful tears.

IMG_7623Suddenly I could see how everything had been leading up to this. Because all of my hobbies fall into place here and all of my skills and experience are being called on and this, this is where God has been working to bring me all this time.

It all made sense now.

Suddenly my planner is full and everyday holds new adventures and good food and genuine friendships.

IMG_8807[1]Suddenly meetings are my favorite because when great minds and big hearts get together to dream and plan, amazing things start working themselves out.

I’ve never encountered a community so passionate and creative and infectious.

IMG_8459

These people are changing Bali. And it won’t be long before the ripples start reaching other shores. I have no doubt.

Because here the dreams are big and the faith is bigger and impossible situations are simply opportunities for God to step in.

Indonesia has captured my heart.    IMG_7954

IMG_8298

IMG_7520

Indonesia Has My Heart

Home Across the Pacific (Thailand pictures)

IMG_6121
Bangkok skyline

It was incredible coming back five years later to the country that had such an impact on me growing up.

I was raised to have a curious mind, to explore the beauty of language, to love cultures different than my own.

It was in this city that I found Jesus as my best friend, where I learned that family is one of the most important things you can have, where I became convinced that Thai food is undeniably the tastiest food on the planet.

I knew such a huge part of me was wrapped up in this land of traffic thicker than the humidity and blatant stares and friendlier smiles. I remember days when all I wanted was to leave. But you can never run from who you are. Missions runs through my veins and I knew I’d come back. I’d always come back.

This time it felt strangely like…home.

Home is one of those words I always stumbled over.

What is home?

I had moved so many times early in my life and I rebelled mentally about settling in the unexotic Midwest. And it wasn’t until I’d been back to Thailand twice, Kenya, Costa Rica, and finally Greece to realize that this little Midwest city that could hardly be called a city wasn’t such a bad place to come back to.

I fell in love with the smallness, the simplicity, the coffee shops, the culture. Even after my two closest friends moved several states away, I was content.

And for the first time I knew how it felt to be planted – my roots grew a little deeper. Suddenly I realized I had two beautiful places to call mine.

Friends come and go and home isn’t always where all the friends are. My people span too many continents for that.

All at once I realized that home was less about my surroundings and more about my heart. It was about the coffee shop I visited two afternoons a week, where the Americanos are strong and the baristas know my name. It was about my favorite streets and downtown memories and old houses full of character and charm and stories to tell. It was about the library brimming with the worlds and adventures that filled my childhood summers. It was about family and shady trails and quiet creeks.

It was when I became content to call my little Midwest “home” that Bangkok suddenly felt like home as well.

IMG_6142IMG_6217somtambusDSC_0480IMG_6777IMG_6298IMG_6243IMG_6396 IMG_6374 IMG_6423IMG_6418 IMG_6509 IMG_6539 IMG_6525 IMG_6512 IMG_6544IMG_6631 IMG_6635 IMG_6685 IMG_6751 IMG_6750 IMG_6748IMG_6736IMG_6786 DSC_0223er

Now I’m packing my suitcases and moving back to Southeast Asia, though a new part for me – a little smaller, a little more beachy, a little less familiar.

I’m less sure than ever about what the future holds and far more excited than I ever hoped to be.

New country, new people, new adventures to be had and memories to be made.

I am so looking forward to adding Indonesia to the places I call home.

IMG_6092

Home Across the Pacific (Thailand pictures)