Tuesday, July 26, 2011

a full, full heart.

It’s been a while since I’ve written and there’s too much by now to catch up on it all. But these past couple weeks have been arguably the best (and the busiest, hence no blog posting) of the summer.

We’ve now had 2 five-day sessions of Vida Joven outreach camp here, and on Thursday, the third and final one starts. It has been incredibly beautiful to bear witness (and even get to contribute to) these camps, seeing Pico Escondido used for what it exists for… after a summer full of encouraging the north american workteams about the importance of this camp property and of how their work enables here enables kids to meet Christ here, it is such a gift to get to see this place in action.

The experience has been  moving in many ways (which I'll comment on in another blogpost sometime soon), but I think most of all I’ve been moved by the tremendous amount of LOVE in this place. It is absolutely mind-blowing and heart-swaying to experience, and I’m not even sure how to describe it. (Well, First of all, God loves us all so much, from the saintliest of preachers to the roughest rebellious teens (he rejoices in the 1 lost sheep! Over the 99 who already followed) and that love itself is rich and fulfilling.)

But perhaps most salient here for me is that the Vida Joven leaders/counselors and staff are some of the most loving people I have ever met. They are filled to the brim, over-flowing with Christ’s love, which they accordingly pour out in the most self-sacrificial ways to the kids of this country. I am so blessed to be around them and have this example of self-emptying love, which looks a whole lot like the way Christ loves us. A lot of these counselors have had their lives transformed by Christ through vida joven and now they cannot help but share this best way of life with the kids of their barrio. They care so much about these teens that they’ll sacrifice so much of their time and energy – both day-to-day and here at camp – to be able to share the hope and joy that they now have in the Lord.

(and with Vida Joven, it’s not about numbers of converts or “saving souls” – it’s about loving kids, and loving them so much as to want them to also get to experience life with the one who gives order to the stars and to our lives. THIS is what sharing the gospel should look like, no doubt about it.)

And not only that, but also, these leaders/staff extend their love to even me. I have been blessed beyond measure to get to become close friends with some of them. I don’t understand how it is possible in such a short amount of time, but I just love them so much. They are so so dear to me and I was already in tears yesterday with the departure from camp of one friend who I won’t get to see again before I leave (someone I’d basically only known for 5 days – but love for brothers and sisters in the family of Christ can grow quickly, I suppose!). Yesterday felt like the beginning of the end of my time here (sorry for the melodrama), because I know that next week, I’ll have many more similar goodbyes to say. Frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it all. I’m hoping that I can say “hasta luego” (see you later) and not “adios” (goodbye), Lord willing. (More on that idea another time!)

But sadness aside, what’s important is that my heart is so full right now. So full of love, beauty, joy, emotion … and it’s not by my doing in any way, but only by the Lord’s. I feel so full of love from others and of love for this place and these people, that really it can only be contained in God. It’s a Psalm 84 kind of love, a kind of loveliness that is so sweet that only the Lord can contain it.

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
   LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
10 Better is one day in your courts
   than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
- Psalm 84

His love is better than life, and this life (especially right now! :)) is too good for words. My heart is full, and I’m oh so incredibly thankful.

Your prayers have been so impactful and I am so thankful for those too. I pray that you also may experience God’s loveliness in such a way that sweeps you off your feet.

peace and love,


Sunday, July 10, 2011

on resurrection, and life through death.

Recently I read Rob Bell’s Love Wins, which has had me thinking about the theme of resurrection, and dying to live (so i give thanks to this book on the following reflection). But more importantly than the inspiration of that book, I’ve been seeing this theme in my life this summer. And this morning, one of my fellow summer staffers, Grace, was baptized in the natural pool here at Pico as the sun rose, and the pattern of life through death is present on my heart and mind.

It’s amazing, the way this universe works.

Life out of death,
Joy out of pain,
Birth out of endings,
Seed out of the scar.

The rhythm of this universe – God’s rhythm – is such, and this is the fundamental message of the cross:

The death and rise to life of Jesus has inaugurated a new way, a way where
war, and
do not have the final word, but

and love
have the final word.

This summer God is bringing me on this path, this ancient, yet ever-new rhythm of death, in order to live.

There are many things in me (in fact, the all of me as a whole) that need to die. Selfishness, jealousy, self-loathing, self-centeredness… these need to die. The bible talks about this all the time: dying to sin, to self, and living in Christ. This is the story that we are all invited into, the invitation that Christ extends to each one of us.

Death, in order to live.
Brokenness, in order to be reconciled, to be sewed up and made new.
Seed, sprouting in the scar.

God is working in big ways this summer, and I can see it and feel it.

This time in the DR has been hard, harder than expected…it has been a time of death. (But in asking God to break me and restore me this summer, I perhaps should have seen it coming). It has not always been fun, those moments of realizing the ugliness and brokenness within me. Growth is not easy stuff! (Just see when Harry takes skelegrow in HP 2 for a vivid illustration :))

… But what better way could there be to live? (to die?) “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” –Phil. 1:21

"Though death is in the healing, it will heal." - Wendell Berry, The Slip

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:10-12

Behold, I am making all things new!
– Revelation 21:5

Death, death, and more death.
And then life, breaking forth amidst it all.

So may you too hold onto the promise. The stories are true. Bringing joy out of pain, freedom out of bondage, and life out of death, Jesus makes all things new.

grace and peace,


sunrise, frontón, DR // june 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

a joyful place.

this country is so joyful.

today i just wanted to share a photo that I took in La Vega a couple weeks back, and a favorite poem of mine. it often comes to my mind at those moments where the beauty around me takes my breath away. and so i thank God most for this amazing day.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

- e. e. cummings

Thursday, June 23, 2011

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas (i rest me in the thought.)

One week ago from yesterday I said goodbye to the lovely work group from 1st Pres. of CO Springs. They blessed me SO so greatly in their time here. I felt a strong sense of community and belonging with them. We “got” each other… cultural references, music, hipster jokes, etc. :) And moreover, they had positive attitudes, open minds, and warm hearts. Basically they are amazing, and we here at Pico all miss them so much!

The last three days with 1st Pres consisted of an amazing homestay (which I will blog about later – it deserves its own post!) and a day at the beach on the northern Dominican coast (this was when I was sick, so it was kind of anticlimactic, but nonetheless beautiful). Then I had the joy of returning home for one night at camp just to pack up again for the next trip: we got to go on a 3-day adventure trip as a summer staff! This was right up my alley.

We went to a beach called frontón, which is on the penísula samaná. (I sought a pleasant peninsula, so I looked about me, and found samaná, not Michigan. Oh well.) It is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Frontón is a fairly small beach that is nestled between a coral reef and a 300-foot rock face that juts out straight above it. It’s famous for climbing (which unfortunately we did not get to do) but I could see the bolts, and the routes looked amazing. (Next time, I guess!)

We hiked 2 hours in with our supplies on our back (with a burro carrying our water, which was luxurious for a backpacking trip!) and set up camp right there on the beach, under the palm trees, taking mind not to set our tents under the coconuts, so as to save our heads from any falling cocos. :)

Our time there was refreshing, relaxing, delightful, community-building, beautiful, healing, challenging, hilarious, unexpected, and restorative.

We of course delighted in the unbelievable natural beauty of the place, in the joys of splashing in the warm salty sea, and in waking up early to see the sunrise. We also learned to laugh at our circumstances, and when torrential rains fell for most of our first morning, we just kept swimming since it was warmer in the water, anyways. (Later on we did have our time to lay like bums in the sun, too.) These things brought us together as a team, which is something I really needed to experience. God is good.

And for me it was also a beautiful time of spiritual refreshment. Being out in nature is what I love most – there were multiple moments where I just felt this whooshing feeling of deep breaths, of the spirit moving through me – I just felt so alive! Moments of “this is what I’m made for” – not so much in the sense that my vocation is to be a beach bum, but more to say that this feeling of living life to the full, of experiencing deep joy and communion with the Creator and his creation – this is what we’re made for. The barrier between heaven and this broken world is very thin in Frontón.

The last night, the sky cleared and I slept out on the beach, under the stars. Before I slept I spent a couple hours just staring at the stars, the full moon, and the heaving sea, breathing in the salt air and contemplating the creator. Such delight, worship, and rest.

Frontón is covered in God’s fingerprints. We can find them everywhere, not just in places of such obvious beauty… and my time there served as a reminder to look for them all about the paths I walk.

May you, too, search and find God’s fingerprints everywhere.

be well,


Sunday, June 12, 2011

this world is enchanted, lean in closer to see it.

One of my favorite songs from the worship CD recorded at Mars Hill in 2006 says “this world is enchanted, lean in closer to see it // this world is enchanted, dare to breathe it in.” I really resonate with this praise. I’ve long been wonder-filled and captivated by the resplendence of God’s creation. And this time in the Dominican has been filled with frolicking delights in God’s beautiful world.

As I write this post now I am on the back porch of our lodge, which looks out over this green explosion of a valley where camp is nestled in nicely between a few hills and a couple mountains. This is one of the places that feels much like home – I spend a lot of time here reading, hanging out with my summer staff and work groups, and at night the last thing I do before hopping into bed is come out in the dark just to listen to the oratorio being composed by myriad chirping and cheeping and trilling creatures.

Atypically, the mountain at this moment is not covered in fog, but very often, wisps of silvery mist swirl their way about the mountain peaks, enveloping the highest trees in their shimmery fog. It is so incredibly beautiful. Nothing ever dries here because it is so humid, and the rain is near constant, which is bad news for my wool socks’ ability to dry and for my formerly-anticipated summer tan, but it is great news for the vegetation, which is dense and lush and amazingly diverse. There are so many cool plants here, and I would love to tromp through the forest with my botanist Dad to try to identify them! I’m not familiar with the tropical flora, though, so compared to hikes in the states, when we’re hiking here, I seem way less nerdy to my cohorts (or at least less nerdy in the botanical sense. I can’t hide my real nerd self though! Ha. I compensate when we get talking about theology or Spanish grammar. :))

(On the fauna side, fortunately there are no poisonous spiders or snakes here. Phew! Mostly just tons of lizards and lots and lots of mosquitoes with ferocious biting powers.)

A couple times now, we’ve hiked out to the waterfall, which is just up the road and a little bit behind camp. The first waterfall is lovely and you can arrive in about 15-20 minutes. But the second waterfall is massive and glorious, and to get there, you have to wind your way through this tropical rainforest (not sure if that’s what it technically is but it seems like one), crawling your way through dense leaves and vines, scrambling up rocks and roots, and wading across the river something like 8 times back and forth. But when you get there it is so worth it. Besides, in my opinion as a lover of hiking, that adventure to arrive is most of the fun! Standing at the bottom, the pleasantly tepid mist covers you in water droplets whether or not you get in the water, but you can go swimming in the natural pool there. It is amazing. We’ll be leading the work teams on this hike a few times and thus far, it’s one of those things that doesn’t get old.

With the work group at the 1st waterfall.

With my dear fellow summer staffer Ella

The work group enjoys the second waterfall
Along the way to the waterfall... glory

In the words of that song ‘enchanted,’ may God give you “new eyes to see, give you new skin to feel, new lungs to breathe the wonder underneath.”

This world is enchanted. Lean in closer to see it.

peace and blessings,


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


It’s my 5th day in the DR, and contrary to what the title of this post may connote, in my time here thus far I have not baked any betty crocker chocolate chip cookies, re-arranged any furniture, or made the kids’ lunches, or sewed any quilts. Nah, not that kind of home-making.

Rather, this almost-a-week (can’t believe it’s only been that long!) has been a time of finding my place here, of making it home. (of God making a home for me.)

When I first arrived, I was excited to be in the DR because, well, I love to travel, and as I’ve previously written, I knew that this was going to be a great opportunity to learn and serve.  And I was not tremendously unnerved, because I am used to traveling and I tend to adjust quickly to new environments. But I was a bit unsettled. Inquieta is probably the best word I can think of for this situation. I did not feel HOME as quickly as I expected. In those first few days I was good, not great. I was pleased, not glowing.

This seems all fine and normal for the first few days in a new place, right? Well, yes and no, but a couple things kept me from more realistic expectations: 1) I had built this up a lot in my head; and 2) I have been spoiled by several of these sorts of quick adjustments that went off without a hitch, where we just clicked instantly, such as when I moved into Calvin for the first time and almost instantly found my friends who are now, 3 years later, going to be my housemates; or when I moved in to Harambee and we were all “camping” out on the porch the first night and laughing to the point of tears within a day.

So when I arrived and found out more about my summer and met these good and kind people that are my summer staff and the full-time staff at Pico, and things were just ok, I felt a little off. I was missing my friends and fam from home more than I usually do on trips. Now, as time has gone on, we have come to know each other and love each other better, and each day, I feel more and more fed by these relationships. But we are rather different people, and it was different for me to be in an environment where we did not have much common ground to begin with. (I think we take for granted the cultures of our own social circles and our places – our hometowns, colleges, states, etc – and those differences are maybe bigger than one might think!) So we’ve been building friendships from the ground up, and it’s been great. I really value the people around me. They have such beautiful kind hearts.

Perhaps what has been the greatest (or at least equally great) has been the arrival of the first work team. When they got in Monday night, oh man – things really took a turn for the awesome. They are a delightful group of 20 from the youth group of 1st Presbyterian in Colorado Springs (from Colorado AND reformed folks – well THAT feels like home haha). One of their leaders is even a Calvin grad! They’re fun and energetic and interesting and just so quick to open up and form relationships. I really value each of them and I’m so happy that I get almost another week yet to spend with them! God has blessed me immensely in giving me the chance to host them this week. My job consists of leading them (particularly in terms of guiding them through their schedule and activities and meals in town and stuff like that), encouraging them, planning details of their visit, processing their experience with them, and just building relationships and loving on them. God’s filled me with so much life and light in this. I forgot how life-giving for me that leadership and encouragement are and I’m so glad that I’ve been given me the opportunity to do this full-time. I love the chance to get to know these high schoolers and show them through my time and care and interest in them that they have value as children of God! It’s so great.

God has spoken a fresh word to me in this time of his love and of his light (we are people of the light!) and for this I am so grateful.

I could write much more and this is already getting to be bookish, so I ought quit now. (But an almost-week is a lot of life to communicate in one blog post!)

I’ll write more about the place itself and of the adventures we’re having soon. I can’t wait to share about the immense natural beauty of this place, the crazy awesome hikes to go swim in waterfalls, the fantastic Dominican staff and other new friends, the merengue lessons (!), and the local food.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support. They are certainly felt and very much appreciated. God is good, and I am so blessed to know that I have such wonderful people back home that love me and that I love so very much, too!

¡Hasta luego! ¡Cuídense!

un abrazo,


Thursday, June 2, 2011

adios! and time for a new hoja.

Well, tomorrow is the big day: at 10:40am, i'll be boarding a plane in Grand Rapids, and a couple flights and layovers later, I'll land in Santiago at 8:15pm!! (Like Michigan, the Dominican Republic is on Eastern Time, fyi.)

I am so so excited. (Today a dear friend asked me to rate what percent I am excited and what percent I am terrified: I gave the ratio of 99 /1 %.) The nerves and stress were really only from all of the things I have needed to get done in these past weeks, and unfortunately, some of those didn't get done. But this, too, shall pass, and I am only learning more about grace through the process.

Some of my friends have asked me what I'm most excited about... I struggled to contain it to a few things, but I think two aspects stick out to me the most.

One thing I am so excited about is being a part of the amazing ministry of Dominican Young Life. I am deeply passionate about it, and I have been waiting three years to join back into the work that they are doing. I can't wait to meet the work teams, invest in their lives, share with them what I'm passionate about, and come alongside them in their journey. And also to learn from and serve the amazing Dominican people, too!

But really right now what I think excites me most is the change of pace (and place). Instead of balancing 18 bajillion different things at once, I'll be there. At Pico Escondido. Present. Investing my love (and therefore my life) into the people around me and into better knowing my creator and his creation. And this will all be taking place in the gorgeous mountains of the DR's top coffee-growing region (yum!). Nothing like getting to a mountaintop to slow down.

I have a tendency to over-commit and overwork myself, and 2010-2011 has been the apex of this destructive life pattern. I should clarify -- certainly, there are benefits to the busy life -- such as learning tons in and out of classes, trying to give of myself to the causes i'm passionate about, getting published, having adventures, "getting things done." But the schedule I run is also incredibly taxing, physically and mentally. This has been a season of growth in my life, but of great challenge, too: the lessons have been tough to learn. I've learned (better said.... I am learning) that by trying to do too much at once, I am actually able to give less of myself to those things, and I am less able to be fully present in the places of my life. I am hoping to take this time as a turning point on the path, a step into the type life that a mentor of mine of mine encouraged me to live into: to "live the spanish life," -- and now it can be said, the dominican life.

Its significance is two-fold: firstly, spaniards are generally more relaxed than americans and they sure know how to enjoy life (¡disfruta! - enjoy! - was the constant urging from my mamá) -- it's hard not to do so when you live on the mediterranean and take siestas every day, I suppose. (And have the best football team in the world! Yeah!) In this way, dominicans have much to teach me, too -- their open, slow-down-and-enjoy-life culture will be a breath of fresh air for this typical always-on-the-go americana. Furthermore, on my semester abroad, I did not have a job. I led no social justice student organization. I was doing no on-the-side research. I was a student, a host daughter, and a friend. Y ya está. I took walks along the mediterranean daily and spent time watching TV (especially Barça games!) with my host family. I slept a reasonable amount and used my free hours to peruse hostels in Morocco for my next trip or take dance classes at the local studio. And, surprise of surprises, I was still worth something! I tend to forget that even in my times of rest and in my failures I am loved and valuable.

And this summer, without stretching myself out over an amalgamation of every activity under the sun, I will be worth something, then, too. I will be a member of the summer staff at Pico Escondido: a sister to my fellow summer staffers, an eager learner, a servant to those around me, and (as always) a builder for God's kingdom. And hopefully, I will be very present, and very at peace.

So I'm hoping that this summer God grants me the strength and the grace to start moving my way into this new way of life... It's not that I'll never be busy again -- by no means! But rather, I want my life to revolve around people. Around worship, rest, and delight. Rhythms of sabbath that nourish and feed my body and soul so that I may better pour out my love to those around me, rather than turning my focus inward into my own preoccupations and my face down into my planner.

The last thing: the title of this post is "time for a new hoja." In spanish, hoja means both 'leaf' and 'page.' I'm turning over a new leaf... and stepping into treading about another page in my story that God is writing and unfolding before me.

I ask for and sincerely appreciate your prayers in my journey: both my flights tomorrow, and for this part of the journey in the story of my life. That God may be able to use this time in my life as a time to break me and restore me, constantly moving towards the best kind of life I can live, one lived in communion with my creator and all of my neighbors in his precious creation.

May God make you, too, attune to feel the beautiful rhythm that He is composing for you.

Next time I write... I"ll be there in the DR! Adios for now :)

gracia y paz,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

my summer bookshelf.

"Oh Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught." - R. W. Emerson

I love books. This summer I look forward to / hope for a chance to read more: to slow down a bit from my normal routines of rapid school reading and instead to have time to soak in ideas and truly wrestle with them; to get caught up and swept away in a thrilling story.

I am bringing a plethora of books and I know I won't get to all of them in their entirety in my 9 weeks in the dominican (though a couple are re-reads), but I wanted to share them with you and ask:

Have you read any of these? Which ones? What did you think? (but don't give it all away just yet :))  Leave me a comment and let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or recommendations, (and maybe later we can discuss!) Let's make this a conversation.

Without further ado:

In case that the image does not come through clearly (/ and to see the full titles), the books are:
  • Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, N.T. Wright
  • When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself, Corbett and Flikkert
  • Moon guide to the DR
  • Love Wins, Rob Bell
  • Loves Me, Loves Me Not: the Ethics of Unrequited Love, Laura Smit
  • Against the Tide: Love in a Time of Petty Dreams and Persisting Enmities, Miroslav Volf
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
  • Beatrice and Virgil, Yann Martel
  • The Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World, Richard Foster
  • The Illumined Heart: Capture the Vibrant Faith of the Ancient Christians, Frederica Mathewes-Greene

Thursday, May 26, 2011

first things, on the title of this blog.

The kingdom. If you know me well... you've probably heard me talk about it. I'm a bit caught up in it, you might say.

... Why is that so? ...

Well, the kingdom of heaven is what Jesus spends much of his time here on earth talking about. It's what He came to earth to usher in and to announce its earthly here-but-not-yet-in-fullness arrival. But what it is it like? Why should we care? What does this have to do with my summer in the Dominican Republic? ... My far-too-short answers to the above questions are: "peace, justice, righteousness, life, shalom;" "it is central to our existence as Christ-followers;" and "everything!"

But these are questions that we could spend hours unpacking, and this is just my first post! Hopefully I will get a chance to touch on them in further entries of this blog. (And for anyone interested, I would absolutely love to keep unpacking them over breakfast or coffee sometime. Let me know :))

So for now I'll give you the background to the references I make in the URL of my blog as well as the title at the top of the page.

Building for the Kingdom

Basically, I see "building for the kingdom" as my life mission... (If I had to sum up my purpose in 4 words, those very well may be the ones I would choose.) So it's fitting to be the title of my blog, no?

This phrase comes from N.T. Wright, connected with the ideas he talks about in "Surprised by Hope," which has been one of the books that has most influenced the way I think. (I should also thank my dear friend Jess, who has shared much of her wisdom with me about these ideas.) Below is Wright's discussion of this concept in an interview response he gave to Ben Witherington in 2009.
We are not building the kingdom by our own efforts, no. The kingdom remains God's gift, new creation, sheer grace. But, as part of that grace already poured out in Jesus Christ and by the Spirit, we are building for the kingdom. I use the image of the eleventh-century stonemason, probably illiterate, working away on one or two blocks of stone according to the orders given to him. He isn't building the Cathedral; he is building for the Cathedral. When the master mason/architect gathers up all the small pieces of stone at which people have been working away, he will put them into the great edifice which he's had in mind all along and which he alone can build--but for which we can and must build in the present time. Note 1 Corinthians 3, the Temple-building picture, and the way it relates directly to 1 Cor 15.58: what you do in the Lord is not in vain, because of the resurrection.

I have absolutely no idea how it might be that a great symphony or painting, of the small act of love and gentleness shown to an elderly patient dying in hospital, or Wilberforce campaigning to end the slave trade, or the sudden generosity which makes a street beggar happy all day--how any or all of those find a place in God's eventual kingdom. He's the architect, not me. He has given us instructions on the little bits of stone we are meant to be carving. How he puts them together is his business.
Note that Bishop Wright is very clear that we ourselves are not the builders of the kingdom, but rather, we build for it -- we contribute to the kingdom of heaven in our incomplete, humble, persistent efforts, and our sovereign God brings them all together in his grand story of restoration and reconciliation.

This brings me right to my next reference...

A worker, not the master builder.

That's me. That's you. That's all of us. 

(This one comes from a poem that has also been massively influential to the way I think and to how I approach and cope with this world: "Prophets of a Future Not Our Own," written in 1979 by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw / Detroit (though is has often been incorrectly attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, who nonetheless is amazing and is a justice hero of mine.))
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
This poem (which you can find on the right of the blog - please read it!) talks about how we alone simply cannot do everything we want to do to bring God's kingdom. As much as we hope to change the world and to end social injustice, environmental degradation, and broken hearts, we are powerless to do this completely.

And there is great beauty in coming to grips with our own finitude:

(I don't want to ruin the natural progression of the poem for you (you'd be better off just reading it now!) but here are a couple lines that express this sentiment most eloquently:)
We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

Looking Forward

So where does that end us up? Well, in 1 week from tomorrow, I'll be jetting off for 2 months to the Dominican Republic to serve and learn and give my efforts to build for the kingdom there.

I can’t wait to “get my hands dirty” in serving the Lord and my neighbors at Pico Escondido. I know that at times I may tire; on some days I may wake up weary; in some moments I may run out of my own energy – but I am not working on my own, no – in those times (like all times) God’s grace will enter and do the rest.

May He today bring you to a place of comfort -- moreover, of empowerment -- with your own powerlessness to bring the kingdom to its fullness, so that you may do something, and do it well -- that you may build for the kingdom.

grace and peace,