Meet Lindsay

I’ve meant to share a link to this blog for months, but somehow never did. Lindsay is one of our fellow Tracy House members and probably one of the most passionate, faith-filled, evangelistic people I’ve ever known.  She can also make a mean green smoothie and has a knack for putting words to the faces and lives we encounter in this community. Check out her blog here

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Is This Not the Fast I Have Chosen?

“Rather is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bonds of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every enslaving yoke? is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house – when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from the needs of your own flesh and blood? Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you, conducting you to peace and prosperity, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” – Isaiah 58:6-8 (amplified)

We have a high chair in the corner of our kitchen now, with a baby doll tossed underneath. An assortment of toys and sippy cups make a trail down the hall and into the living room, leading to a basket full of board books and a mini trampoline. All signs of the new life in our house.

On Thursday we welcomed a young mom, Shelby, and her two kids (ages one and two) into the Tracy House family.

Their move came on the tail end of a week-long fast with the Collaborative, where we met nightly to bare our hearts in vulnerable confession and prayer, journeying together through repentance, humility, faith, intimacy with God, calling, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. During the days I sat with my open journal and empty belly and let ache and hurts, fears of failure and dread of rejection, rise up from the muddy depths of my heart (as Richard Foster wrote, “More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.” – Celebration of Discipline, p. 55). The fast left me feeling a bit raw and weary by the end of the week.

But now I’m settling back into a new sense of life here, embracing the increased noise and movement and vibrancy that a house full of kids brings. This morning I woke up earlier to spend those last couple hours of dark and quiet with the Lord before the house woke up. Then Derek and I sat in our sunny kitchen and had breakfast with the kiddos. After breakfast I cleaned the kitchen and danced with the kids on the newly swept floor. Then I sat and read Angel a book.

I think I could get used to this….

Lindsay with Shelby and her family right after her baptism on Independence Day this summer

Home

After two days of painting (two long days – fourteen hours one day and seven hours the next), a day of carrying boxes and furniture up two flights of stairs, and several days of unpacking (including carrying boxes back down three flights of stairs to the basement)….we’re all moved in! Almost everything is unpacked and put away (just one more box to sort through…), paintings hung, books on the shelves.

As we pulled into the driveway Sunday evening with one of the final vanloads, the song “This is Home” by Switchfoot (from the Prince Caspian soundtrack) came on the radio. The timing was perfect and made us smile.

This is home. It’s true. Even before we moved in, this house began to feel more like home than anywhere we’ve lived since we got married.

That longing for home has been deep inside me for a while. Not a longing for the place where I grew up (which doesn’t really feel like home anymore) but that ache to put down roots somewhere. I remember one afternoon in particular, in the spring of 2007, sitting on a blanket in the sunshine in front of the Marwood house, longing to finally slow down, settle down, and make it home. I’d moved three times that past year and watched by life turn completely around. I felt constantly in transition. I felt worn out. I dreamed of a garden, of a cat, of putting little touches around the house to make it feel more like mine and not just a place I stayed. I was homesick for a sense of permanence. But at the same time, I was acutely aware of its lack of permanence, knowing that God was preparing to send me elsewhere. And though I stayed there for over a year after that (the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I moved out of my parents’ house), it never feel like home.

Home. It’s an interesting, complex word. What exactly makes somewhere home? What makes you feel like you’ve come home? The definition seems to encompass so much more than just the place you choose to live, your “usual residence”. One of the definitions on dictionary.com is “the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.” That edges a bit closer. It touches on our hearts. Something about the idea of home feels directly tied to our hearts, to where our hearts find refuge and belonging.

Maybe that’s why this feels like home already. Something about this house seems to invite our hearts to pursue their calling. It’s settled securely in a neighborhood in need of the transforming love of God, the kind of neighborhood we want to live and minister in long-term. We’re surrounded by life and community that welcomes guests, calls forth hospitality. When we walked around the neighborhood the other evening, I noticed at least four empty lots that could become a community garden. There’s a second bedroom next to ours on the third floor that could be filled with kids someday and a park down the street. And there’s the downstairs unit, occupied now, but perhaps someday (and here I’m just dreaming) we could rent that, too, for the daycare I plan to start or the neighborhood prayer room we’ve talked and dreamed about. It feels like we have room to dream here, room to grow. It feels less temporary.

But even here, though I feel more settled, more at home in this lovely old house, with it’s luxury of color (bright, cheerful colors with names like “honeybird”, “blue jewel,” and – my favorite – “glorious gold”), I’m reminded that, ultimately, this is not our true home. This home, beautiful and comfortable though it is, isn’t the ultimate goal. As Hebrews 11 talks about, we desire “a better homeland, a heavenly one” and Jesus is preparing our true home, even now (see John 14:2-3). Abba, help me hunger more deeply for that true, heavenly home!

In a way, it feels like this house, with its vibrant colors and ample sunshine, reminds me of that. It pulses with the invitation of God to come home, to our true home, our ultimate refuge, to come to Him where we truly find home. Even that first night, as I unpacked in the kitchen, my head was filled with pictures of sitting at the kitchen table, with coffee in hand, a bible open in front of me, and the morning light streaming onto the yellow walls. And so Tuesday morning, I sat with my bible and journal and talked to God about home. In the other room I could hear Derek playing guitar, his own bible and journal next to him. Perhaps (I hope) he feels that call home to our Abba, too.

Perhaps that’s the Word of God to us in this season: home. Even Tuesday night at prayer we prayed for home, for people in the city to find a sense of home. And in so many ways, I feel drawn to home here, home to God, home to our calling and purpose, home to who we were created to be, called to both make a home and find home, and to lead others home. It’s a nice feeling, a peaceful, I’m-finally-where-I-belong feeling of, well, coming home.

This Is Home – Switchfoot

 

I’ve got my memories
Always inside of me
But I can’t go back
Back to how it was
I believe you now
I’ve come too far
No I can’t go back
Back to how it was
Created for a place
I’ve never known

 

 

Chorus:
This is home
Now I’m finally
Where I belong
Where I belong
Yeah, this is home
I’ve been searching
For a place of my own
Now I’ve found it
Maybe this is home
Yeah, this is home

Belief over misery
I’ve seen the enemy
And I won’t go back
Back to how it was
And I got my heart set
On what happens next
I got my eyes wide
It’s not over yet
We are miracles
And we’re not alone

 

(Chorus)

 

And now after all My searching
After all my questions
I’m gonna call it home
I got a brand new mindset
I can finally see The sunset
I’m gonna call it home

 

(Chorus)

 

 

Now I know
Yeah, this is home
I’ve come too far

And I won’t go back
Yeah, this is home

And now, a few pictures of our new home….

Our bedroom:

The upstairs living room:

And the upstairs bathroom:

Time to Pencil in a New Address (and Other Changes)

I’ve tried to write this update several times over the past few weeks, but so much has been happening, both on the surface and internally, that it feels like my words are never going to catch up. But big changes are happening, so I’m going to throw this update out there anyways, incomplete as it is….

A house accustomed to community

“People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.”

More and more over the past few years, this line from “The Vision” by Pete Greig has felt like a tagline for my life. I’ve moved six times (including three states) in the past four years. And this weekend that number will be upped to seven times.

On Sunday (assuming we finish painting by then) we are moving in to the Tracy House, just a couple blocks east of Troost. We’ll be sharing an upper duplex with two other women, a baby (yes!), and a guy. Our bedroom will be on the third floor, with a small living room and a not-so-small bathroom that we’ll share with the guy, while the girls are on the second floor.

We started talking about the possibility of this the same weekend that both our jobs ended and it feels like a good fit in so many ways. Historically Troost has been Kansas City’s dividing line between the black and white neighborhoods, between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged. The neighborhoods east of Troost have a reputation of violence, crime, drugs, broken homes, and bad schools (we found some pretty sobering statistics). Which is exactly the kind of neighborhood we’ve been yearning to live in, exactly the kind of place we feel called to.

Not only that, but we’ll be living in community, praying together, ministering together, sharing meals, sharing life. Yes. It feels like a solid step towards a myriad of things we’ve had tucked away in our hearts for a while.

In some ways, the Tracy House already feels more like home than any place we’ve lived since we got married, maybe because it’s a house accustomed to community. We’re looking forward to adding some of our own touches to it, too, like painting upstairs (the living room, the bathroom, and our bedroom). I’ve never lived somewhere where I’ve been able to pick paint colors. It’s just a little thing, but it makes me excited (we have a collection of bright, cheerful paint swatches of blues and yellows sitting on our side table right now and I’ve been scouring the internet for paint deals).

Now we just need to pack (luckily, moving so often has encouraged me to simplify on a regular basis)….

Collaborating

Along with the move into the Tracy House, we’re also planning on joining a new “leadership collaborative” at the Boiler Room. The purpose of the collaborative is “developing and equipping leaders in the Boiler Room to extend the kingdom of God in Kansas City and beyond.” Each person in the collaborative will choose a “kingdom assignment,” some sort of project in prayer, mission, or justice, according to their specific gifting and calling (for Derek and I this will probably involve some combination of neighborhood ministry, community living, hospitality, prayer, and possibly a community garden), and explore the question: “Who am I called to love and how do I love them well?”. Together the group will walk through the process of starting and developing these projects. We’ll meet weekly for prayer, worship, friendship, encouragement, accountability, and strategic input. We’ll also be going through teaching on developing a right, kingdom-centered perspective on God, ourselves, and the world, as well as looking at our own personal callings, how God has interacted with us I our lives, and how He’s shaping us as ministers and leaders. It sounds like good stuff.

This will be their first time doing something like this so we’ll join 15-18 people in a sort of test run of the program. It’s just a part time commitment, so people have the option of still working and going to school at the same time (Derek will still be working at the Roasterie and I’m continuing to look for work).

When Derek first told me about the collaborative, I was a little hesitant about it. It sounded great, but it sounded like they were inviting pioneering type people who wanted to walk out a specific call. To be honest, I wasn’t sure we were the kind of people they were looking for. I mean, yes, we had all these dreams on our hearts for community and incarnational ministry among the urban poor….but we were living in Brookside, working our normal jobs and not walking in any of those things. We weren’t even making definite plans to walk in them any time soon. They were just ideas, just dreams for someday.

But we prayed about it. And our jobs ended. And things opened up with the move to the Tracy House. And then several weeks ago we met with Wendy Andrews and several other girls who might be joining the collaborative as well to go over the preliminary plan for it (which has changed already, but anyway…). As we listened, something deep inside me stirred with a resounding “YES!”

The building of a bridge of faith

So here we go, moving forward. A lot of the details are still fuzzy and I don’t know exactly what it will look like here to begin walking in the things we’re called to, but this move and this collaborative feel like steps in the right direction. I believe God will bring clarity as we continue to step forward.

I’m reminded of a reflection I read a couple weeks ago, so I’ll end with that:

“The Lord never builds a bridge of faith except under the feet of the faith-filled traveler. If he builds the bridge a rod ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. That which is of sight is not faith.

There is a self-opening gate which his sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate or it will continue to be closed.

This illustrates the way to pas every barrier on the road to duty. Whether it is a river, a gate, or a mountain, all the child of Jesus has to do is to go for it. If it is a river, it will dry up when you are near enough to it, and are still pushing on. If it is a mountain, it will be lifted and cast into a sea when you come squarely up without flinching, to where you thought it was.

Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won’t be there.” (Henry Clay Trumbull, quoted in Streams in the Desert, p. 202)