Monday, September 21, 2015

The Surface of the Sun

When I was preparing to move to Las Vegas from Washington State, I kept telling people I was moving to the surface of the sun. It’s hot here. Everyone knows it. I mean, we’re in a desert. A desert filled with CONCRETE, which means it never has a chance of cooling down at night. Mid-summer, when it’s over 110 for a week in a row, the “cool” for the night is 95.

That’s hot.

But it’s part of living in Vegas. And it’s not really THAT BAD. (Don't laugh at me!) Yes, it’s hot. But once you’ve lived through several days at 115 degrees, 104 starts to feel good!

That is… it feels good in June.
And July.
And even August.

But September…

September starts teasing you. The weather reports say things like, "This is our last day of three-digit temperatures!" 4 days later, it's 101. Then the humidity starts to climb. We like 2% humidity here, and it may be 49% on any given day!

People start getting crabby. We stare at the sky and wonder why it's so hot. We yell at meteorologists.

And we start commiserating together.

That's the funny part of it. We've all suffered through the insufferable together, and now we have this bond that brings us all together. It doesn't matter your age, background, beliefs--We are ONE and we shall RAGE against the sun!

OK, it's not that dramatic.
But we are united. 

This never-ending heat starts conversations, it pulls people together in air-conditioned stores, it makes us laugh when someone stumbles into somewhere cool because we were just that person 4 minutes ago. 

And once that conversation about the life-sucking heat ensues, we start talking about other things... new stores to visit, friends we have in common, upcoming festivals.

This terrible, horrible, no-good heat brings us into community like nothing else can. We're forced together, and we connect.

Maybe we DO live on the surface of the sun. That's OK. Turns out there's life here after all.

Friday, June 19, 2015

One Thing

As part of my #dosummer2015 challenge, I've been reading a lot more. My soul is being quenched! One of the books I've recently finished is the book The Emotionally Healthy Church, by Peter Scazzero.

Honestly... I was nervous about reading it, but now that I'm done, I highly recommend it. It challenged me in very personal ways, in ways involved in the Church--if you're a leader, I think you should get your hands on it.

Peter Scazzero was a senior pastor of a large church when he realized that there was a lot of "stuff" in his own life that he needed to work out. In order to do that, he and his wife took several months off--not pastoring, not leading a ministry, not in the church. In his reflection about that time, he had some surprising thoughts:

"God met us in profound ways. I recognized that I was still too active and my first work was to seek him above all else, not to be a pastor/leader (cf. Ps. 27:4)."

I read this sentence.

Then I read it again.

Finally on the third try, I set down the book. I started thinking.

Above all else, Peter was called to be a follower of Jesus. The end. Out of that relationship would flow his job as a pastor, his leadership abilities, his administrative skills (or lack thereof). First and foremost, he was to follow Jesus.

He references Paslm 27:4.
The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.

The Psalmist doesn't say, "One thing I seek most--to preach every Sunday and be the spiritual leader of thousands of people." The Psalmists "one thing" was to spend time with God. The end. To be with the Lord, living with Him, delighting in Him, learning about Him, breathing the same air He does.

Peter and his wife, in taking time away from what they thought their "one thing" was, realized how wrong they'd been.

When I read this, I had to put the book down. I was forced to pause.

I love Jesus with every fiber of my being. I will follow Him forever. I've seen what else is offered there, waivered on my descision, questioned my faith and His faithfulness, and know that without a doubt He is the One I choose because He chose me.

But... I've spent so much of my life waiting. Waiting to be a pastor. Waiting to let my skills and abilities work themselves out in the Church. Waiting for the accountability and responsibility that comes from a life in ministry that is different than a volunteer role in a church.


Feeling unwanted at times. Feeling unimportant--struggling with my own pride. Trying to do the best I could do in the positions I was granted. Flourishing and failing. All the while... waiting.

And here I am, in a brand new church start-up that I love dearly, surrounded by people who I care about, excited for what we are doing in our beautiful, vibrant city, thrilled to say finally!, and then...

"I recognized that I was still too active and my first work was to seek him above all else,
not to be a pastor/leader."

Right. Right, I knew that.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. ~ Matthew 6:33

Seek. Jesus. First.

My main requirement in life, my "one thing" is not to lead, to pastor, to preach, to set up communion, or do the budget (though I happily do those things!). My "one thing" is to seek Jesus. To know Him better today than I did yesterday because I, like the psalmist, sat in the house of the Lord. I cannot lead others unless it is an outflow of that time.

And when I spend that time with Jesus, when my "one thing" is centered where it should be, perhaps I, too, will be saying, "God met us in profound ways."

Saturday, June 13, 2015


15 minutes. 900 seconds dedicated to one thing. One goal. One achievement. On purpose.

It's no big deal, really. I mean, we have 1,425 other minutes in the day in which to sleep, eat, watch TV, work, clean, be bored, and so on.

It's JUST 15 minutes.

That's not true, though. If it were just 15 minutes, we'd do it without needing any prompting. Well, maybe you wouldn't need the prompting but I sure do.

That's what #dosummer2015 is all about. It's 15 minutes at a time, doing something.

From June 8, 2015 - September 8, 2015, a whole tribe of people are committing to doing something that they need to work on for 15 minutes at a time, 100 times. That means that in a 3 month period, each person will spend 25 hours improving a skill, honing a discipline, learning something new.

I'm a lazy Type-A personality. I know, the words "lazy" and "Type-A" should not be in the same sentence, but for whatever reason, they do in my life! I'll happily binge-watch my favorite shows on Netflix when there are things to do, if I don't have the motivation or determination to do them. With a little kick, though, I'm off--and there's no stopping me!

The great thing for me is that, usually, I'm in competition with myself! That's why #dosomething2015 is so great for me. I have checklists! I have specific goals! And if I fail, it all comes down on me--so I WILL NOT FAIL!!! (Imagine a big, echoey, movie voice yelling that!)

That means, I'm sharing, for all the world to see, what my three categories are this summer. (That
means I can write about them later!) Drumroll, please...

Coming in category one, I will be spending 25 hours in focus, directed prayer this summer! This is, embarassingly, much harder than it looks. I will update you on how the journey goes.

Coming in category two, I will be spending 25 hours reading this summer! I've always been an avid reader, but over the last few years have gotten out of the practice of reading for both growth and enjoyment.

And finally, in category three, I will be spending 25 hours writing this summer! I have large writing goals for this year and for my life. You can't call yourself a writer and not write!

Be prepared to hear more about this over the next 3 months. I'm so excited! I've already learned a lot and I'm not even a week in! Will you join me? - sign up and download the checklist today!!!!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Beautiful Gifts - June 9

Gifts, gifts, and more gifts.
I love thinking outside of the box for gifts because 1) it makes me work harder, and 2) it means that I get to really dig deep into what I'm truly grateful for. And that makes me much more appreciative, especially of those Ugly-Beautiful Gifts (which you can read below).

3 Gifts Orange
1) Sought Church's main color is orange. It surprises me because I've never been an orange lover, but... It's fun to have such a distinctive color!
2) Sunsets
3)  Juanita's Tortilla Chips. Because YUM. (OK, the chips are yellow and the bag is more red, but still. Close enough.)

3 Gifts "Ugly-Beautiful"
1) Today a caller called me a stupid interpreter because he wouldn't listen to me explain why I couldn't do what he wanted--it wasn't allowed and it wasn't even possible. It made me angry because people can be downright horrible when there is anonymity. However... it also made me think of the caller I had who thanked me at the end of the call and said, "You were a great match. Fantastic." If you've been around the interpreting world for any length of time, you know that being a great match for someone is the ultimate goal for what you want. Not just "thumbs up" or "great job, interpreter."  A good match means choosing signs and words that each person would use if THEY spoke the language you're interpreting into.
2) Accounting classes, because they help me balance a checkbook for more than just myself.
3) Traffic driving through the Spaghetti Bowl. It means that I get to go slower through my favorite part of the city, Downtown.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Beautiful Gifts - May 31

Ann Voskamp wrote a revolutionary book called 1000 Gifts a few years ago. I call it revolutionary because I never imagined that giving thanks for something could actually change people's lives. However... According to Ann, research as proven that people are 25% happier when they are actively grateful. And according to ME, my life is infinitely better when I live in an attitude of giving thanks every day, as opposed to griping every day.

That means that, in order for me to live my best year yet, I need to be grateful. Every day. Every week.

I certainly hope you will join me. I want to use Ann's list as a prompt to think outside of the normal, to reach further than where I would tend to go.  I may not go there every day, but I will use it as a resource. Prepare for a lovely list, and some fun stories as I add to MY list of Gifts!

3 Gifts Found in Church
1) Encouragement
2) Love and Growth
3) "I missed you!" A few weeks ago, I had to miss our church gathering because I had progressed to the District level for Toastmasters and had to go to California for our District Conference. When I came back the next weekend, I saw my four-year-old friend, C. The moment she got out of the car, she ran to me and said, "Emily! I missed you so much!" You can't beat that.

3 Gifts in Today's Work
This is ironic since Today's Work was church!
1) Air-Conditioning. When it's 102 degrees for the first time of the year, and your church is a start-up that meets in a theater, you're grateful that there is cold air to dry the sweat of your hard work!
2) People who care about seeing everyone free. We had the founder of FREE International join us today to talk about sex trafficking and how we can help. If you want to join us in helping to create a home for young girls who have been rescued from the sex trade to go to recover and heal, please go to, and give to Beyond Us. We're raising $10,000 this year.
3) Promise

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Difficulty of Blogging

One of my goals this year was to blog at least once a week. I wanted to WRITE because I want to WRITE (amazing how that works, eh?) and I did an amazing job at it... for about 2 months. Then things slowly petered out.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has set a goal and watched it crash and burn. In honor of all of our flaming goals, I'm going to say that my goal REALLY was to blog 52 times this year, minimum. That counts, right?!

In honor of that, and because sometimes I have great lessons from life to share, and others I just... don't... I am going to create a great list of "things to blog about if you don't know what to blog about."

To be fair... I'm stealing some of these from the internet.  There were a ton more here that I didn't steal!

  • My Favorite Things - favorite treats and places in DTLV.
  • Short Story
  • A recent speech
  • Link to a TED talk, then share a takeaway
  • Interviews
  • List of 100 things to do when you're bored
  • Bucket List
  • Things you'll never do again
  • Instead of just listing gifts, pick 3 gifts and talk about them. "Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle!"
  • Other questions to ask instead of "How are you?"
  • Review a book or movie
  • Pet Peeves
  • Talk about learning styles or personality styles and how they interact with others
  • Share a friend's blog
  • Join a link party and blog about that topic (if there is one)
There we go! I now have an official list of things that sound fun to me. What else do YOU write about?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

2700 Days

I just did the math.

2700 days.  That's what today marks.

From January 1, 2008, to May 23, 2015.  2700 days.
7 years, 4 months, 23 days.

Have you ever started a "good for you" habit and expected it to last longer than a month? Most of those habits seem to drop off our radar the first day we "forget" about them or just run out of time during the day.

On January 1, 2008, however, I started a habit that would change my life. I challenged myself to read my Bible every single day for 31 days. One month of commitment. During that time I read the book of Matthew. 28 chapters in 31 days. Reading something every single day.

Today is 2700 days later. I'm reading a brand new Bible this year with the goal of finishing it in the year. Every day I find nuggets that impact me in completely new ways.

Every day, it is an act of obedience. More than that, however, it's an act of love. Some days I don't feel like reading. Some MONTHS I don't feel like reading. I do it anyway.

Sometimes I don't FEEL God close to me. I read it anyway.

Sometimes I am sick. Or don't get home until midnight. Or have surgery. I read it anyway.

I didn't know a discipline could change your life. It does.

I am more rooted in Jesus, more able to hear and understand what He is sharing with me, because I have determined that I would be reading the Bible every single day. I've been comforted, disciplined, loved, bored, rebuked, encouraged, applauded, able to encourage others, and so much more because of a few minutes at the end of each and every day.

There is always an excuse not to read. Every. Single. Day. Do it anyway.