Thursday, September 26, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a feather flock together.  ...that's how the saying goes.

About a month ago, I was out for a run on a country road in Montana.  My mind was on the upcoming KidMin Conference, taking place in Colombus, Ohio this October.  KidMin is an amazing culmination of folks who love Jesus and serve children.

As I approached a little while farmhouse, I could hear the call of a magpie coming from a tree in the front yard.  Magpies make such a distinct sound...some love it, some hate it...but there is no arguing it is loud.  My mind shifted from the conference to the bird, and I began to think of how I am like a magpie.  Later, I read a little about magpies, and the resemblance is really kind of crazy...

They are opportunistic, social, expressive and willful. 
They have a colorful character.
They have an obsession with shiny things.  Gosh, that's easily distracted.  
They're known for their noisy, chattering sound.

Somehow the magpie and KidMin spun together in my mind and I began to wonder what type of bird my KidMin friends would describe themselves as.


As the list of birds flipped like flashcards from goose to roadrunner in my head, the smile on my face got big. At one point I recall thinking I was glad I was way out in the grasslands deep in this thought all by myself.  Just imagine if I was home...running down the sidewalk in my small town like I often do...giggling and smiling from ear to ear.  People would think I'd lost my mind.  Then again, maybe they already do...

Today I'm in Montana again, and this morning as I ran along the banks of the Madison River, I could hear the call of magpies. 

The KidMin Conference is almost here.  Two weeks from today, I'll set foot in the Buckeye State for the first time in my life.  I'll spend a weekend with thousands of others who are different than me in so many ways, yet who share the same desire for every child on this planet to know God's love.  In that way...and what I believe is the most important way...
we are "birds of a feather".

These people who serve children across the globe - some of them I haven't seen since last year, others I keep in touch with almost daily, and then there are those I will meet for the first time - they inspire me to press on, doing the little bit that I can do in my 
small corner of the world. 

So look out Ohio...we're heading your way.  And in we'll come... 

And we'll leave changed -  having grown closer to Jesus, having built and strengthened friendships, having learned more than we could have imagined - 
ready to fly back to the places we serve and really 
spread our wings.

This bird is just so thankful for KidMin!
tweet tweet :) 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Unlikely Friend

About a year ago, I received a Facebook message from a man I didn't know.  Here's how it read...

Saw the photo of Clay with the tractor. I don't know you however I know photography. Absolutely great shot.

I noticed that we had a mutual friend; I asked how he knew her.  He replied that he couldn't recall, and that it might be through racquetball, but that he didn't friend people on Facebook for no reason.  There had been some common denominator.

I stalked him the best I could and found that he was indeed a photographer...the real deal...and he also worked as a responder in recovery efforts following natural disasters.  "Interesting guy," I thought, so I friended him.  I wanted to see his photography and the type of recovery work he did, and didn't expect our conversation would go any further.  I do believe he expected the same, and a few days later, I got this message from him...

Take care. Keep up the good work. Shoot the things that are important to you. They'll never happen again.

Never underestimate the power of a simple, kind gesture. What seems like nothing to you may have a huge impact on someone else. 

All beautiful words, now that I look back on them.

Over the past year, we haven't kept up much on dialogue, except for the occasional reply to a Facebook picture or status.  It really is fascinating to me how communication in this day has shifted to "likes" and "comments"...
Anyhow, in July, one of our fave spots in Montana was damaged by a flash flood.  Shortly after, I saw my Facebook friend...his name is John...was headed to that area for restoration work.  I told him we'd be vacationing there the following month, and would LOVE to meet him in person. cool would that be?

The trip snuck up on me and I never took the time to contact John.  I planned to do it when we got into town.

The day after we arrived in Dillon, we walked into Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply.  As I tripped over Cole and Carson into the front door, a man stopped me and asked my name.  Caught off guard and still wiping sweat from my forehead after our bike ride, I told him I was from out of the area.  He paused for a moment, still looking for an actual reply, so I said "Brook."  He smiled and said, "I'm John.  I knew it was you."  And there he Facebook friend in person, standing there in small town Montana!  I gave him a hug, and followed up quickly with an explanation to Keith, who was just now coming in the door and probably wondering...although never surprised...why I was hugging a stranger.  We only talked for a short time; he was in a hurry to return to the work site.  We tried to connect again in person, but it didn't happen.  Still, the momentary meeting in person was priceless to me.

Today I wished John a happy birthday on Facebook.  I thought about our unlikely friendship, and how God has a reason for every person he brings into our life.  I thought about the words John typed out to me last summer...

Never underestimate the power of a simple, kind gesture. What seems like nothing to you may have a huge impact on someone else. 

And that's simply how our unlikely friendship began.  What a great place this world would be if the simple, kind gestures in our minds became actual words each and every time.  Thank you, John. :)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Day With God and the Girls...

It's a small miracle no one was in a chocolate coma by now... :)

~My heart is happy tonight~

Today was our women's retreat at church - Cafe' Chocolat - so in addition to lots of time to talk to girls, I also got to enjoy lots of chocolate...a pretty awesome combination.

One of the things I love most about life is that people can experience the same thing and yet have totally different take-aways.  What I got from today wasn't the same as what anyone else there did. God has a reason for each of us to be touched and to learn in unique ways.

So here is a randomly mixed list of cool highlights for me

My grandma's fruit pizza was enjoyed by everyone today.  My grandma passed away 13 years ago, but she was on my mind as I read from her typewriter-typed, food stained recipe.  God brought her to the retreat for me, although she wasn't visibly there...just in my heart. :)

I had the awesome privilege of explaining to someone that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are 4 different books, written by 4 different guys, but all about the same thing...Jesus.  That was cool for me.  Why, you ask?  Because I remember not knowing that, and it seems like it was yesterday.  I've now tried to expound on the previous 4 sentences for 30 minutes and I give up.  I'll explain in person if you ever ask me.  And I might confuse you even more... 

I was reminded that there are lots of lonely ladies out there.  
Waiting for an invitation to be part of something.  
I get so caught up in my own self-centered, "I'm too busy" social life, that I forget there are people within my reach who just want SOMETHING to do.
Thank you, God, for showing me that. 

I was reminded that I embarrass myself so often it's become the norm, and that approximately 22 years ago was the last time something mortified me so much I couldn't even laugh about it.  I'm thankful God gives those humiliating situations to me and not someone else.

Who takes friendships for granted?  I do.  Who speaks their mind without considering who's on the receiving end?  I do.  Who doesn't let friends know they are valued?  Me.  And I run off and do my own thing...and walk alone more than I should...and yet my friends are there for me when I return.
I need to give those friendships the love and care they deserve.

Trying to ignore people who make me unhappy isn't exactly extending them grace.  And yet, hmm...Jesus says, "love your enemies."  That's right, Brook, loving them from a far, far distance doesn't count.  I'll work on that...

Chocolate is good. :)

Just like my heart tonight, the Almond Joy candy bar is happy.  I just know it.  And it's the candy bar that I chose to represent me today.  Sometimes I feel like a nut.  Actually, that's all the time... :)

Most of all, God's grace is  Beyond explanation.
Because of His grace, because of His example of grace to me, because His Holy Spirit lives in me and gives me the ability to do things I could never, ever do on my own, I can extend that same grace to my friends, to people I don't know, to people I don't even like...

I'm glad God pulled me into our church today to learn about His grace with these ladies.

Next month, I have the privilege of co-leading this same retreat for a group of women at the KidMin Conference in Ohio.  Although not one of them will take away exactly what I did today, God has different and equally valuable things for them to learn.  And I can't wait to be part of it. :) 

"We praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son."
Ephesians 1:6