what could be

twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. so throw off the bowlines. sail away from the safe harbor. catch the trade winds in your sails. explore. dream. discover.

– mark twain

once in a while i sort of hear this comment, either underhanded or directly:  “well, we are just sick of church malcontents talking about all the things that are wrong with church, they leave so they never are part of solving the problem… why don’t they stay & do something about it?” while i think that can be true, we all know there are far more people out there who have “left” (who gets to define what that means anyway?)  but are finding different forms of gathering and expressing their faith that just looks so foreign to the institutional church that people think somehow it doesn’t quite count.  and i think people who say this tend to not have experienced hitting the wall yet so they have no idea what it feels like to get disillusioned, kicked out, aced out, burned out, dreamed out, oh all kinds of things that contributed to some sort of shift, exit, transition away from all that once was.    i do think most everyone i know-even those who have “left”-really haven’t left.   most are finding our way in different forms of church that are being birthed in coffee shops & living rooms & bars & online & on the top of mountains & in weird old grange halls & downtown & in transitional housing facilities & all kinds of other places where people commune together & seek after God’s hope.  the church IS being born & reborn again and again in all kinds of glorious and wonderful ways.   most every shift away from the status quo will be tagged by the system as some kind of movement born from disgruntlement & anger & frustration.   this is the sad part to me about what the emerging movement has met with in terms of resistance-“they’re the ones with the liberal theology…they care too much about action and forget doctrine…they’re just mad about this or that…they’re not evangelical enough…” oh there are far more criticisms that i could list here and honestly i try to stay out of the argument because it all makes me a little crazy.  why can we not just celebrate that the kingdom is being expressed?  that people are living out their faith in beautiful ways?  that there’s a hunger & a desire for living out the ways of Jesus that has nothing to do with the structures & programs that many grew up with? that where two or more are gathered, that can be enough? that lots can get done apart from the mother-ship but not apart from Christ.

i sometimes wonder what i would be doing if we hadn’t birthed the refuge. i am pretty certain i’d be working as some form of an advocate in an agency in this town,  gathering with friends at my house like we have for years, and somehow connecting with hurting people longing for hope & help & a chance for life to change.  it would have been plenty.  somewhere along the way i have lost the need for any kind of whiz-bang-music & 30 minute sermon & cool kids program to be part of my week.  i am pretty sure i can live the rest of my life without it and that doesn’t mean i’m missing out on anything or am just angry or bitter.  it also doesn’t mean i’ve left “church.”  it doesn’t feed my soul like it used to & i am finding new ways to connect with God & scripture & the story i find myself in.  all that said, the refuge is “a church” (sorry, john, i had to say it…even though i like to call it a faith community instead–or when i’m talking to outside agencies who look at you sideways when you say “church”, i say we’re ‘a nonprofit ministry dedicated to advocating for women & struggling families’ because we are a 501c3 and that is what we often do and then they’re not so confused!).   it’s funny because lots of people somehow don’t see the refuge as a ‘church’ because it looks so foreign to what most have experienced at a weekly gathering.  people dialogue.  sometimes there’s music, sometime’s there’s not.  we eat together.  we laugh together.  we talk about God together.  we get up and move around.  we sit in circles & around tables & on the floor & outside.   but that is an hour and a half once a week.  that could never ever ever ever ever (note the evers) be considered “church”.  that is called a meeting or a gathering. our weekend gathering is just one of several others that meet during the week that sort of do the same thing.  the “church” is the people. period. the people connecting with one another and other people they are in relationship with throughout the week.  it’s the love, the prayer, the encouragement, the doubt-expressing, the hand-holding, the truth-telling, the grace-giving, the resource-sharing, the long list of other ways that people’s lives intersect with other people’s lives (and not just people who “attend”) during other 6 ½ days of a given week.

we all value different things.  for me, community is the highest value because it is in relationship, life-on-life, that i believe we learn the ways of Love.  of course, Jesus spent time alone connecting with God the Father & knew how to find ways to separate from people & get re-fueled, but i believe the gospels call us to incarnation. to be his image-bearers.  to live out the ways of the kingdom that are so counter-cultural to pretty much all we get taught about independence, power & success.    it’s so subtle i don’t think many really even notice or consider what they are submitting their hearts and time and money to-inequality, mortgages, an unspoken addiction to certain people’s teaching & ability to inspire, a perpetuation of a we-will-help-those-‘poor-people’ mentality that  keeps us from ever living in true community with people who aren’t like us (oh i can’t help it, here i go again!)

but really, here’s where i land and here’s why i’m writing this:  in my little small world i just want to be part of living out not what was or what is, but “what could be.” it’s not perfect. it’s not ideal. it’s not more godly or more important or more anything than anyone else. it’s just what we are deeply dedicated to trying.  that’s about it.  there are so many stories far more interesting than ours, but because this is the story i find myself in and somehow there are people out here who are listening in to some of these thoughts, i’m just going to keep sharing until you tell me to stop by not reading anymore!

last week we spent some time with our dear friends from portland, ken & deborah loyd.  they co-pastored for a long time together in a community called the bridge (they’re website’s currently down, back up soon) & in the past few years ken has been cultivating a new community in downtown portland for people without houses called home-pdx.  we spent hours & hours talking about what we are deeply passionate about, about what we are seeing & tasting & experiencing personally & in the communities we live in and what we hope for the future in small and big ways.  one thing that is always crystal clear when we are together:  this is worth fighting for.  we cannot just ignore the desperation.  we can’t just walk away.  we can’t just leave it to the church professionals.  we have to create safe spaces for people who aren’t powerful & shiny & bright and contribute our little part to the kingdom, no matter how insignificant it may somehow seem.

over the next few weeks i am going to flesh out what i believe about “what could be” a little bit more, not just for you, but for me, too.  a lot is fairly clear to me but there is so much that needs to be lived out, expressed, experimented with in more intentional ways.  i want less and less of this to be theoretical (that is the easy part) and i do have some fun stories i’d love to share that somehow remind me that this really is worth trying.  i want to find ways to live and breathe and see some of “what could be” in action, individually & corporately.  i don’t separate out “well, this is the ‘church’ part and this is the ‘individual’ part.”  in all different ways we are a part of the body of Christ. & what i reflect individually i reflect corporately and what is reflected corporately reflects individually.  my bottom line:  we are called to be people & places of hope, light in a dark world.

so here’s my laundry list, some hopes for what could be.  i would love ‘the church’ (whatever that looks like) to be a place of hope,  where:

God is expanded

pain is welcomed

doubt is honored

power is difffused

equality is practiced

love, mercy & compassion are extended

justice is pursued

creativity is expressed

freedom is celebrated

okay so now i have committed myself to actually writing about each of these over the next few weeks. we’ll see how it goes!  thanks for processing some of these thoughts with me. i love the conversation here & always appreciate the emails & ways that you remind me that you’re wrestling with all of this, too.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

36 Comments

  • You wrote, “why can we not just celebrate that the kingdom is being expressed? that people are living out their faith in beautiful ways?”

    I guess that question cuts both ways. Why do those who choose other faith expressions speak so negatively and despairingly about the “institutional” church? Why can’t those who remain in those traditional settings be seen as living out their faith in beautiful ways? Why do people feel the need to tear down what others do to justify their own actions?

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  • ooh, I love love love this, and as things begin to shift in both my heart & my location (!!), I find this super relevant. 🙂

    In regards to J.R.’s comment, I do want to point out a couple of things, as I think that there may be a bit of mis-interpretation of both the tone & spirit of this blog. Yes, many people who have found their ways to this fun little circle & the connections in & out of the refuge would say that they have been wounded, dis-illusioned, and even completely led away from faith due to involvement in various ICs. Yes, many would say that they have found hope & comfort in finding others that have had similar experiences of deep hurt at the hands of the IC. However, in no way does this post, nor the honest reader indicate that there were not many things of value that were gained from being a part of that system. There is no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as most of us still have friends who whom we love & respect that are part of that world. It is just not working anymore for some, and the blog serves as a conduit to hope, not as a bashing of the IC. Even kathy states, “we all value different things”, and even goes as far as saying in regards to the way she does “church”, ” it’s not perfect. it’s not ideal. it’s not more godly or more important or more anything than anyone else. it’s just what we are deeply dedicated to trying.”

    I know that I, for one, would have completely, absolutely, been turned so far away from the christian world had I not found first this blog, and then Emerging Desert.:) The pain that I felt from my IC experiences left me completed depleted, tired, and feeling so so alone. Since the recent turn of events & lots & lots of prayer 🙂 , I feel like I have an opportunity for a whole new life as a part of this community, and I feel like “what could be” for me is going to be expressed in amazing & incredible way this summer. Thank for for welcoming me with open arms.

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  • J.R., In the first paragraph Kathy establishes the context of living out the church for the not-institutionally churched. I didn’t see anything which invalidates the institutional church as a place of meaning and belonging for those who find meaning in it and belong to it.

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  • Kathy– we’re working on this crazy little addition to Celebration–and our hopes, dreams, and prayers for what it could look like really mirrors your list. We really can’t get away from this idea of a safe house– both in our prayers, and in our sad acknowledgments that the churches we have been a part of don’t always act as that haven, that shelter from the storm. Anyway, lots more I could say, but we’ll have to have coffee again for that conversation. 🙂 Thanks for this, and I’m looking forward to reading as you explore your hopes for ‘the church.’

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  • wow Kathy — you can delete all my comments. I owe you an apology — I always use your blog as a way to just hash out what’s on my heart and I shouldn’t dot hat.

    I totally took over and didn’t mean to. In fact — I’d rather you delete them. I will just talk about what’s on my heart at my own blog haha. I’m sorry for invading (as usual) thanks for the mercy.

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  • Stacy, Sage…

    I did not suggest that Kathy said anything wrong or derogatory nor did I suggest the “tone” of her post was negative.

    I agree with the overall sentiment she is expressing in the post and did not suggest anything to the contrary.

    I simply suggested that we, al the Church, need to apply her wise question to people on all sides of this issue. We need to allow the insight of her observations to guide all of us.

    I really encourage you both to ask questions about a person’s intent before reading between the lines and making judgments that were not stated or intended.

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  • oh, the joys of online communication! it is so hard sometimes, in my humble opinion, to pull off some of the conversations out here in blogland. without being face-to-face, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart, so much can be misunderstood. that’s okay, it’s just the way it is, but i do recognize how tricky it is. i have forced myself to be as honest as i can on this blog even though i know that many will hold some of my words in stone & also not know my true heart because it’s impossible to express in black and white. i think the same thing holds true for all of us, and the reality is that when we disagree on things, see things differently, it is really hard to just let that be. i love the conversation here and hope that we continue to wrestle with all kinds of perspectives.

    j.r. – yes, i think you are right in that of course that must cut both ways, that those with all kinds of church experiences are respected and that we recognize that God is alive & well in all kinds of expressions & forms that maybe some don’t connect with at all. i can’t say it any more clear and i keep trying to emphasize–of course God is doing great things in churches that i fundamentally disagree with. i respect the work that they do & realize that they meet a very real need for many people. i would never want to dismiss that. i think what’s so interesting, though, is a blanket observation that has nothing to do with you at all, just something i have observed over the past few years: many seem to tolerate injustices all the time against women, people of color, oh all kinds of things, like it’s nothing, but say anything about the “church” and swords start blazing. i don’t think that your sword was blazing at all, you were just making an honest statement in response & i think it is accurate and fair, but that has been an overall observation i have encountered in all kinds of ways in the past few years. thanks for sharing your perspective. i do like what you said about asking clarifying questions. sometimes it is hard because sometimes we don’t know who actually tracks comments & comes back and who doesn’t, but i think it’s a good thing to consider. thanks.

    stacy – thanks so much for your thoughts. i think what you hit on is that we are all in different places & that we need to really respect that. so many things that i write will not really resonate for some people because for all kinds of reasons we have not had the same experiences. there really is sometimes a language of understanding. it makes me think of 2 corinthians 1, one of my favorite passages because to me it validates that our stories are meant to be passed on, that our experiences will be used for good, that we comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received.

    sage – thanks. i like what JR is suggesting, that we ask questions now and then to clarify but i had the same assumption that you did. a few weeks ago someone i know who once in a while reads my blogs told me that maybe i needed to clarify more of my whole journey each time i write so that people wouldn’t think that i am just a burned out angry person from the past few years. i had explained to him that i have been fighting for authenticity in the church for a good 14 years or so at this point, so often bumping into the same exact resistance. the beginning of 2006 was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, that’s all. i told him while i respect his opinion i honestly can’t do that, it’s too much work. i can’t fill in all of the dots to make them like me or understand or somehow get on board what i’m trying to communicate. it’s just too complicated. i have had to trust that the people who need these words will resonate with them and the ones who don’t don’t need them anyway and will find what they need somewhere else. i didn’t mean to be so long-winded, but i think the same thing applies: when it comes to valuing the institutional church, i can’t say every single time every time i talk about church things validate that i do respect the work of many churches. i know God is much bigger than my limited little ideas of what i think is the right trajectory & i am thankful there are so many different expressions of church out there that are meeting people’s needs in wonderful ways. meanwhile, though, you hit it on the head: i am writing for those that are restless & long for something different.

    ryan – oh that is fun. i love what you guys are dreaming of and talking about and conspiring for. let’s get together soon, lmk what might work!

    randi – yeah, it is so tricky when we just see the whole thing so differently. i love that you try to engage in the conversation & i do admit that you make me think, especially about how sometimes i do come across. i think the part that we’ll probably not be able to reconcile is that i communicate best to a group of people who are restless, who aren’t satisfied or happy or content OR are now, but after a long season of pain & transition somehow. we just speak different languages. i can see how you think i am lumping you into the status quo but i’m not directly. at the same time, there’s no doubt in my mind that a status quo exists. it does. it is powerful. it sells books & makes money at conferences & creates training programs & influences gobs of people & shapes more than any of us know about how we think about all kinds of things related to church & life. i will never be able to speak in a way that will honor completely something that i fundamentally disagree with, you need to know that. so while i respect it, i don’t agree with all kinds of things that tons of other people do. my voice is one little teeny weeny voice to a unique group of people & i do think that there are some that have needed to hear, out loud, someone say some of the thoughts that sometimes are swirling around in their heads and their hearts. i do not expect everyone to agree with me, i so know that many don’t, and of course i want to be respectful in my tone, speak in kindness, etc. but it will always be hard to see that when we see things differently, my strong opinions will always be a bit edgy. for whatever reason, this is just where i’m at and i will say that i am not writing to those in the church who are happy with the way things are going, i’m just not. i love that you are trying to find your own perspectives, to listen to what God is saying to you, and let everyone just sort of be where we’re all at, even though it is quite different. i think that’s the idea for all of us. i always so hear your heart and i hope that you can hear mine! i don’t think your comments need to be deleted but you’ll have to let me know what you really want me to do!

    amy – thanks! i need to order your book. congratulations!!!!

    Reply
  • Hi Kathy, thanks for your gracious understading. Please know that I never post and run, so if I ever say something that seems really harsh, please ask me to clarify since I do appreciate what I have read so far on your blog and don’t want to leave the wrong impression for you or for your readers.

    As a church planter coming out of a church where I was hurt, I share many of the same feelings as you. I just came to a place a while back where I wanted things to be more positive and constructive. (you can read some of my thoughts in this short series on Rediscovering Church http://www.morethancake.org/2008/07/rediscovering-church-embracing.html ) Anyway, I get the sense you are saying much the same thing and trying to be more constructive so I appreciate that.

    Blessings sister.

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  • Thanks kathy, you can go ahead and delete the previous ones – not to make a big deal of it – but I was sort of using your blog as the place to fight with myself and all that wasn’t necessarily hahaha…. I am trying to be more careful to write before I type. 🙂

    I understand what you’re saying. I get that you are speaking to a certain people…. I didn’t really get that before so I appreciate you saying that. I’m sort of just eavesdropping on a meeting I’m not really a part of haha… I just happened to come across the blog at a time when what you’re saying is not always relevant to me — BUT the biblical truths still very much speak to me and your action of living out His commands do.

    I will do my best to remember that you’re not preaching at or trying to cut off, not trying to make a statement toward —- but isntead you are speaking to, relating with others and letting others peak in on your journey so others can know you feel their pain, see what they see, etc…. I don’t want to rain on the parade in anyway and I don’t want you to feel you have to be soo careful not to offend.

    I do feel like I know your heart and I really do believe that you are kind and want to come across so. I think in general you come across very respectful and merciful and loving… if I feel inferior it’s probably my issue.

    thanks for you.

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  • Doug N, Steve Bradley, and Kathy,

    Thanks so much for your kind response to a previous comment. Your words gave me much to think about. And made me feel much less isolated.

    -Gina-

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  • Okay, “left” comes from the latin word sinistra. Sinistra=”left”. Recognize anything familiar about the word? Sinister? That’s why being left handed was considered “bad”. I am left-handed. If you haven’t guessed by now, I am joking around by defining the word “left” for you…

    “i do have some fun stories i’d love to share that somehow remind me that this really is worth trying”

    I love this about you. You are open. What makes me who I am is my love of stories. I collect them like some people collect gold coins, stamps, pokemon cards. They are less tangible than most collections, but I am always honored when someone tells me some of their story, especially something they were afraid to share. So…I am all ears about your “fun” stories.

    “we are called to be people & places of hope, light in a dark world.” When I read this I thought to myself, that this phrase only applies to shiny happy people. But then I thought of some of the times I found hope. When someone shared a story that somehow made helped me feel accepted and began to eat away at the edges of my secrets. Someone who needs help, gives me an opportunity to help. When I need help, I am given the chance to be humble and ask for what I need. I used to think being a people and place of hope, light in a dark world meant that superiority was being asserted. I thought I had to be perfect so that others could see Jesus in me. But I think what Jesus meant is he wants us to share ourselves with others, whether consciously or unconsciously with love. I was always confused about that when I was trying to act perfect. I guess it took making mistakes to learn that.

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  • Ok, I am the banker, buttoned up, even institutional guy on here..but I would agree that most churches do not “sail the trade winds” of God. The reason I feel in love with my current church is the pastor once came to the singles/career meeting. At the time I was 24, out of college, just had my first “real” wear a tie job.. and he comes in and says the American Dream is BORING. That working at a job from 8-5, waiting for retirement, and simply moving through life is NOT the way Christ intended. He went on to talk about missions and how “exciting” a life is lead for the Lord in crazy parts of the world.

    Your post reminded me of this and I confess to still being institutionalized. Most of our churches are locked in the “American Dream” lie and actually promote it. Its why the church seems dull and lifeless. Think about it.. if you work M-F from 8-5, church on Sunday.. how much time do you really have to serve your community/world? Most likely you have to write a check, b/c thats what the American Dream teaches.

    Clearly.. my comments are ripe for ripping and there are obvious benefits to having a job, etc. But my prayer is for Christians to “break free” from this cycle in a real and meaningful way.

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  • j.r. – thanks for the link. i will check it out. and yeah, we are all in different places on the journey & i think that is so okay & important to continue to acknowledge for each other.

    randi – hey there, i reluctantly deleted your comments! i didn’t think they needed to be, honestly, but i wanted to respect where you are coming from and that you asked me to, but i just want to emphasize that while there may be so many ways we see things differently, i don’t think it’s necessary for you to edit or not be able to say certain things. we don’t have to come to consensus on specifics or even be in the same ballpark but we can continue to respect our different opinions! thanks for putting yourself out there…

    gina – i am so glad you felt a little less alone. that’s honestly one of the most important things i care about…thanks for sharing & coming back

    lisa – i always love your thoughts!!! i didn’t know that about the word left & yes, you are a story collector & cultivator! i am always so bummed that somehow so many christian’s experiences have somehow sent a message that it’s only when we’re squared away that we can pass something on to others. that is so messed up & contrary to the wacky ways God uses the most messed up of people in the most wonderful of ways. glad that’s breaking free a bit for you, really cool

    roan – thanks for sharing and i love what you are saying, no ripe-for-the-ripping necessary. i think you are just calling attention to the facts, some of which really work and are beneficial, and some of which can work against truly risking stability for the crazy ways of the kingdom. i don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer, for sure, but i do love that somehow that got stirred up in you and has lingered. i do get confused all the time about the american dream & how sometimes that is what the goal somehow is, i feel it all the time, the financial pressure & stability factors & what is “success” and making the most of out of our lives. what measures are the easiest to use? the world’s. no doubt it messes with our heads & probably keeps more of us paralyzed than we’ll ever know. anyway, thanks for sharing!

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  • Kathy, once again I love what you’ve said.
    Many of us have really struggled with calling what we do at Emergent Desert church. Many of the group are still involved in ICs. Joy and I are just starting to feel okay about where we are at.
    Last Sunday we spent the day helping a Grandpa who is taking care of his 9 grandchildren repair and clean up his house (9 kids can cause alot of wear and tear). One of the ladies working with us who was working with us commented how much more that felt like doing church then she’d ever felt on a Sunday morning.
    I’m looking forward to the rest of what you’ve got to say. I’d love for the Emergent Desert to have a chance to talk to you about “what could be” in our little part of the world when you come to visit us in Dec.

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  • Hello!

    Okay, left field (sinister field eh)comment!

    I think there is a real danger in going on about this too much.

    My frustration at the institutional organisation is also very real and very large, and one of the biggest frustrations is when people look at us and say “But you are a small group of folk, in a pub that does not even belong to you, and you dare to say that we, with billions of dollars of property, hundreds of thousands of members, some of whom are super intelligent, are wrong! Who do you think you are?”

    And that makes me sit back and think really hard.

    But then I think of the likes of Luther and other Reformers who also stood against huge institutions and prevailed, and I am sure that in those institutions they stood against there were very dear Saints who were also confused by what seemed like an attack on them – unfortunately, the treatment they, the Reformers, got is what we get today, often by the very institutions the Reformers started!

    I will face the issues as and when they come up but I must be careful of how I face them.
    I will not perpetuate the errors for the sake of convenience.

    I must take extreme care to look critically at the institution and not the people within that institution, except the leaders who support the errors.
    I will attempt, by example, to lead the way into what is God’s plan for us, His desire for us. When I do that, I trust He will draw in the right people to follow.
    I will not ever have a discussion purely to ‘attack’ the errors of the institutions – I prefer to lead the way forward and if questions arise, I will deal with them on an ‘as and when’ basis.

    What I do know for an absolute certainty is that there is only one Church and Jesus is the only one building it. He is the only one who can and He is the only one who is permitted to build it.

    If you want to call your building “church”, have at it, you ain’t fooling Him!

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  • As one who is often unapologetically critical of the IC I understand what you are saying JR (comment #1). Randi has helped me to have more grace toward the IC then I have been inclined to have mostly because of the good she has been able to find and convey. To answer your question (from a personal perspective) my criticism is sometimes out of personal hurt and sometimes out of the hurt I have witnessed. Most of the time, however, I believe it comes from understanding scripture differently then I hear it presented, and wanting to confront issues I believe the IC has neglected or ignored. Perhaps more modeling and less talking is a better solution. On that score the folks at the Refuge probably get an A+. Incidently, I am still functioning within the walls.

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  • I wanted to jump back on and explain my *deleted* comment.

    I made my *deleted* comment before I read the comments and after reading the comments and seeing that there was comments that asked to be deleted and were deleted … my comment then looked “very odd”.

    My deleted comment was a rant. I typed it in and then deleted it … it was my personal vent session 🙂

    I did not want it to be out there for the “whole world” to see. For you see, I am a “working professional” in a very traditional church that is really trying to make a huge difference in the community through partnering with numerous agencies and doing “quite a bit” ourselves …..

    However, this past week, after thinking we take “huge gains”, I sit in meeting hours upon hours about how we have to cut ministry expenses, we have to cut outreach $$’s due to financial economic situations ..HOWEVER, we talk about spending OBSCENE amounts of money on “building renovation”

    So many times, I think about packing my bags and leaving the IC, entering into the “real world” and fully devote my time / resources / energy into making a difference and it goes back to Mark Twain’s quote ..

    Off to the hospital and time to reflect

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  • jim – oh i can’t wait for a few weeks from now. i love what you guys are dreaming about & beginning to experiment with. you are someone that keeps me writing, honestly. you make it all worth it.

    pops – yeah, i hear you and i do think an inordinate amount of time can get spent on focusing on what is wrong with certain systems instead of focusing on what is happening to make things right. it is so funny how certain posts i think will be no big deal are and posts i think will stir up something big go untouched. you just never know & as you know from blogging, it is very vulnerable. sometimes i just want to quit because there’s such a diverse audience out here that it is tricky to stay true to where i am coming from, knowing it’s just my little perspective, and risk being misunderstood. i know you so get it because you guys are always swimming upstream. thanks for your continued love & encouragement & thoughts, i always love to hear your two cents. i am always railing against the system, not the people. i know the people inside have good hearts and are so sincere. hey, i was one of them. the big idea of this post, and really where i hope to continue to focus, is on what is possible, what i would love to consider, what i dream about & hope for.

    minnow – thanks for your thoughts. i do believe there’s always danger in too much talk and not enough practice. what’s hard about blogging is on the whole it’s talk!!! we are trying to live out what we believe, not just in words, but in actions. when i see men and women side by side, when i see women with beautiful voices get to use them freely and uninhibited, when i see people who would never probably be considered ‘leadership material’ in the average church living out things they are passionate about, when i see people doubt their faith & not get fixed, when i see people offer hope & healing & life & food that they don’t really even have in tangible ways without any agenda, it stirs my heart in ways i can’t describe.
    thanks for always listening in & i respect so much the ways you are stirring the pot & raising awareness of issues that need raising within the walls.

    jeff – oh i am glad you clarified. with all these hard things flying around here, i was like oh i hope i didn’t tick jeff off, too! you don’t know how much i worry about you. i see your heart. i see what you are trying to do. i see the shifts you are trying to get your community to make and it is glorious! i have so much respect for what you are doing & just know that i am cheering you on from afar and of course would love for the tide to shift in the direction you are pulling. it is MUCH harder to do what you are doing than what we are doing, so just know you have all kinds of support-from-afar coming your way.

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  • The list of attributes of a church are what I hope we can accomplish in Tegucigalpa. I am frustrated with the religious jargon and the lack of authenticity that permeates so many churches here. When people are hungry, out of work, and looking for answers, the church needs to be real. Not just a place with religous platitudes and empty slogans. Go Kathy!

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  • pops – yeah! hey, i LOVE your prayer bible pieces & your blog looks nice, so much easier than myspace!

    laurie – right back at you, laurie! the real-er the better. yes, we both know it’s uglier and harder there but those cracks & crevices are the places where God wants to seep & i believe that we are supposed to participate in the pouring, too. i so respect the work that you are doing there…

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  • kathy, this post inspires me and scares me. it inspires me because i find that living in those “what could be” spaces is exactly what my heart and soul are longing for. to really LIVE it out…every day of the week. knowing christ, being known by him. the incarnation of it all. so beautiful, so theoretical. that is what scares me. that i might not actually get to live this out. that i’m not good enough for it. not brave or smart or “whatever” enough. yeah, i have issues. 🙂 also, even though the reality of things is VERY messy, i feel a bit idealistic about it all. yet i know it is difficult and can be unpopular. that doesn’t scare me as much as living a comfortably numb life. to float through on my own self-centeredness. to miss what God has for me. or worse yet, to miss Him in the midst of everything. maybe i’m not strong enough to find a place to live these things out and to live them out myself. maybe i will be sucked back into the way things were before. that terrifies me.

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  • jeff – thanks for always taking the time to comment. i always love to hear what you have to say

    brother maynard – thanks for the link love

    davida – yes, this tension is so real! i think the reasons that you mentioned, not being good enough, brave enough, whatever enough are not just your issues or struggles. i totally know the feeling and i know so many that feel the same way. i always live in this weird tension that any minute it’s all going to go away because i screwed it up somehow and that’ll be it, done for, over. oh the enemy is so mean. i think he loves the idea of a comfortably numb life. i think that’s why we need each other so much, to spur one another long to not settle, to search for & create small pockets of hope and purpose and life no matter where we are. thanks so much for your honesty, i think you expressed this crazy tension of how tricky “hope” really is. yet God, the God of crazy beautiful wild hope, keeps stirring up trouble for really good reasons. i hope you can come down and hang out soon! my friend amber is doing a reading of her short stories this saturday night the 6th in lafayette which isn’t quite as far south. details are on the refuge web. i think you’d dig it but i know that it’s a crazy time of year!

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