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Sharing Our Stories

In the last few weeks, I’ve had several really honest conversations.  Deep, challenging discussions that made me wonder why they don’t happen more often.  One of these discussions was over lunch with two women I am still getting to know.  Both have gone through struggles, but are taking on the world in big and wonderful ways.  One asked me a question that forced me to either lie or be transparent.  I was honest.  Honest enough that a few tears were shed.  And I left that lunch feeling like a dork.  Thinking that I had over-shared and would likely be moved from the “lunch buddy” list to the “only when necessary” category.

Why do we hold our lives so tightly?  We are the sum of our stories…and the culmination of His story, in us.  Far too many people are tiptoeing through life, trying to avoid the cracks and just play it safe.  But hidden inside are fears. and wounds. and scars.

Today, rather than list “five reasons it’s good to share” or “four tactics for how to tell your story”, I’d rather just challenge each of us to open up this week.  You never know what connection or freedom someone else may have in hearing your story.  We all have messes, but moving through them can become our message.

To every person who has been hurt, mistreated, forgotten, or forsaken, how wonderful to know that we have a love in Jesus that isn’t based on how good we have been, or how much work we have done.  There is nothing we could ever do to earn it…and that means we can never lose it.  That one thought alone makes every pain limited in its’ power over us.

What has the power of story (yours or someone else’s) done for you?


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The Heart of a Community

Photo credit-The Tennessean

Images like this have made me cry this week.  By now, you know all about the great 500-year flood we had in Nashville over the weekend.  The damage is heartbreaking.  The stories of lost friends and family members, ruined homes, and flooded cars is gutwrenching.  We have a long road ahead of us to get Nashville and many parts of Tennessee back to what it was.

But beyond the loss, was something amazing.  A community rose up immediately.  Folks were putting boats in the water and risking their lives to help those stranded.  Local media teams were taking chances in volatile weather to keep us informed. Within a 24-hour period, over 7,000 people had signed up as a volunteer at Hands on Nashville.  And even still, there are teams of people who will spend at minimum, the rest of this week helping folks get back into their homes, but more likely, weeks and months.

Many tears have been shed and hearts ache as we watch those we love struggle with what will be a long road back to “normal”.    I can’t help but wonder what the silver lining is in all of this.  One thing is for sure…residents of Nashville and surrounding counties will never again wonder if we are a real community.  Lifelong friendships have been borne and faith has grown out of the muddy waters of this flood.
I am so proud of this city and thankful to be Nashvillian.

If you’d like to donate funds, here are two (of the many) reputable sites: Hands on Nashville and CrossPoint Church.

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Memories That Linger

Photo Credit WiciaQ

I was reading Twitter updates one evening earlier this week and came across an author’s book trailer.  Part of the story looked at the past–circumstances that could have led to a life of self-destruction, but hasn’t (I haven’t gotten to read their book yet, so I’m leaving details on the author/title for a later post to maintain accuracy).  Hearing part of their story, it reminded me of the memories that rise up when I least expect them.  Things I don’t want to share-things I’m happy to forget forever.

It made me realize something I should have thought of long ago.  We walk through life oblivious to the memories other people have playing in their minds.  God offers hope.  He teaches us.  He forgives us.  But the memories still penetrate our thoughts sometimes.  I’m going to make an effort to be more mindful from now on and offer grace rather than take offense.  To nurture, rather than commiserate.  To build relationship rather than run to my bubble.  I want the memories of me to be worth replaying.

What are some other things we can do to encourage and uplift one another?

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Haiti and Retailers-Ideas from a Consumer

Photo courtesy The Huffington Post

I spent several hours on Saturday purchasing items for Haiti victims.  And while I know that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have given $25mil, and stores like WalMart, Home Depot, and Target have made cash donations ($600k, $1mil, and $500k respectively), I  am surprised at the lack of “big picture” thinking on the part of many national retailers in how they can help Haiti victims with actual goods, as much as through financial donations (and let’s be honest, the dollars given so far are small for these huge corporations).

As I was driving home with items purchased to take to CrossPoint on Sunday, I began to daydream about what I’d do if I ran these companies. This list isn’t exhaustive, as there are surely companies/industries I’m leaving out.  But I’m reaching out to these companies to pass along suggestions.  If you know people in high places at retail, I hope you’ll do the same.

Walmart, Sam’s, Target, Costco, Meijers, KMart-Why not create sections in the store with the big needs (tarps, tents, water, flashlights, formula, basic medical supplies, etc.) and make them easy for people to find and purchase? A step further-why not create bins for those purchased items to be placed into and ship them to Haiti?  You definitely have the resources to make this a possibility.

Sears, JCPenney, Belk, Macy’s, Dillard’s-Why not send several containers full of blankets, sheets, pillows, clothes, and shoes? Everywhere I looked today, there were sales happening, so it’s obvious there’s excess inventory.  I see a really good use for it right now.

Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s-Why not offer to help cover the cost of contractors who come into your stores everyday to get over to Haiti to help with building removal, search & rescue, etc.  I’m sure many many want to help, but haven’t a clue how to get started.  Also, why not commit to sending a carrier full of tools when the removal process begins? Having Eko Depot in Haiti, it’s safe to assume a process for getting materials there is already set.

National grocery store chains-water, formula, baby food, diapers, cleaners, prepacked meals and more are of top need right now.  Again, why not make it easy for consumers to purchase them for shipment to Haiti, as well as sending over shipments of them from you directly? I’ve seen Publix and Kroger’s both do this well during the holidays for those in need. 

Looking at the nonstop pictures, it’s clear that there are many, many people and agencies jumping in to help during this time of crisis.  This level of destruction is going to take marathon mentality, not sprinter thinking.  We need to be in it for the long haul. Which national companies will set the pace for grand-scale efforts to make a difference?

The cost of stepping up and doing the right thing: Expensive

The benefits of long-term loyalty built when retailers do the right thing: Priceless

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