Monday, July 21, 2014

Dream Center Update

Oh, MyUnswervingHope.blogspot, how I’ve missed you! I have allowed life, ministry and busy-ness to come between us. I really hate being this busy… there are just so many great things to do. I need to work on a new life plan that includes more journaling--it is such therapy for me.

I need to catch you up on my trip to the Dream Center. As expected, it was life-changing. I’m still trying figure out what to do with it, but it’s never on the back burner, it’s always in my consciousness, drawing me back from my materialistic, Polly-Anna lifestyle. It’s so easy to stay in the ruts of narcissism, twice removed from people who make me feel uncomfortable. I get lots of encouragement from others to stay in that rut. It’s hard for people who have been there so long to understand why anyone would want to leave.

But there are others, who are less attached to their place of complacency, who inspire me and give me the courage I need to move out of mine. Our trip to the Dream Center consisted of nine people, five women and four men. The other four women who went on the trip changed my life. They were just doing what their hearts led them to do. They made it look so easy. Their purpose was not to encourage me, they were following the leading of the Holy Spirit. I wish I could be more like them.

I have a tendency to ignore things I don’t like, hoping they’ll go away. I’m the proverbial ostrich with her head in the sand. I’m thankful for friends who gently, and sometimes not so gently encourage me to pull my head out. God used these ladies to yank me out of the fetal position and show me how to serve and love when I’d rather just do the task and keep my heart out of the equation.

The first day we went out with the food truck ministry, I was totally content to hand out groceries with pats on shoulders and lots of “God bless yous.”  Janie encouraged  me to join the prayer group at the end of the line and pray with the people after they got their groceries. “No,” I told her, “I’m fine.” I used the excuse that she and the others are better pray-ers than I am and that I’ll just keep doing the task—the bare minimum. That night the Lord convicted me. “You don’t want to get emotionally involved,” He seemed to say to me. “It’s not about how well anyone prays… in fact, it’s not about you at all. It’s about Me and the people I love. You are too protective of your heart and it’s time to step it up a notch!”

Then I saw Pam fearlessly walk up to a dirty, weather-worn homeless man, who hadn’t seen a shower in months, if not years. I had seen the man, sitting on a step, and I walked right by. This was our night out. This was a night for us to be tourists and see Hollywood Boulevard. But I felt God prick my heart when I saw Pam lay her hand on his shoulder and speak to him so kindly and gently. I knew I needed to step it up. I was still slacking.

I watched Teri in her calm and quiet way, as she poured into the young men and women we encountered at the Dream Center. I knew that Teri is the kind of person who would just as soon spend the day alone, puttering around her house, cooking something marvelous or planting something beautiful in her garden. But she chose, instead, to be obedient. And she wasn’t just going through the motions so she could say that she fulfilled her commitment to God. She poured her heart into Joe and Susie and Mack (fictitious name) and many others.

I learned how much Krista and I are alike. Loud, chatty, animated. But Krista knew why she was there. At the end of our trip, I felt relieved that my commitment to God had been fulfilled, and that I’d soon be going back home to my comfortable bubble, with no intention of returning to the Dream Center. But not Krista. Before we even left she said, without hesitation, that she’d be going back.

And then there’s Janie, who shares half a brain with me. We are so much alike and yet so different. Over the years, she has stretched me in directions I so didn’t want to go. Janie was Janie on our trip. What you see her doing in the lobby of our church, you see her doing in the middle of Skid Row and Venice Beach. Against all odds, in the midst of all kinds of suffering, Janie loves. And Janie inspires me to love.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!