Saturday, August 25, 2012

Before and After: How Vision Transforms Reality

One of the first things people comment about when they come to our new place is how settled we look. We are quick to explain that we've done very little. Six or seven years ago, someone had a vision to transform this home from shambles into the lovely home it is today. Here are the "before" and "after" pictures to show you what we mean.

It's unbelievable, really, to look at the "before" state of our home and see it now. We've learned from neighbors that before it's renovation homeless people used it as their squat. And before that, a family lived in it who struggled with serious health issues. A friend I know would come with others from her church to help them and pray with them. 

Then someone came along and bought it for a song--someone with a vision. They saw in our home something worth redeeming. They saw the potential; the good lines, the spacious size, the beautiful woodwork and the hundred-year-old walnut trees on the lot. They saw the future in their vision--when present reality would be transformed into a new reality.

Transformation is what creates the "before" and "after." But before transformation is the vision--the ability to "see" what could be.

As I look back on these last several years, our present reality is also the result of vision. I began to imagine a different life, a "home-centered" life where we would live and work and extend hospitality. I could feel the draw in me to a new place and a new lifestyle. The more I began to write and talk about it, the clearer the vision became--though still only a dream. Now we are living it; realizing our dream with each new day and the myriad experiences that follow.

I sense that many people have a dream or vision stirring in their hearts. After all, we've been created in the image of the Consummate Envision-er. When we "see" our world with God's eyes, we see his kingdom come to earth. We see potential, redemption, transformation--what "could" be. 

So, what vision is stirring in your heart? Where do you "see" what could be? How will you take the next step to realize your dream?


Friday, August 3, 2012

Discovering Your Growing Edge

I recently met with a woman for spiritual direction. As we sat together, considering her life and the situation she brought to our time, it was apparent that she was in a drought. Personally, relationally, spiritually, vocationally--life was dry and unyielding.

It didn't take long for me to recall vivid images of the literal drought that surrounds me in my own location. Indiana, like most Midwestern states, has experienced a serious crisis of rain-less-ness. The leaves on the trees are wilted and drooping; large limbs have fallen to the ground; shrubs and grass are brown and crisp.

I "saw" as I listened to this woman's story the roots of a plant, forced by sheer necessity to penetrate the soil, hungrily bearing down in search of moisture in the ground water for the sake of survival. I saw in this image a picture of this woman's "growing edge."

A growing edge is the place in our life where we are being pressed to deepen and develop. It might be from a drought of some kind or a new experience that requires larger capacity. It can come from experiencing "too much" or "too little" of something and having to adapt, narrow or expand. Whatever it is in life that applies the pressure, it often doesn't feel good. But rest assured, it can be God's invitation to grow our roots deeper into him--into the soil of our true-self-in-Christ.

For me, as I maneuver this new terrain of life in the city and begin this new ministry called Sustainable Faith Indy, I am aware of a growing edge. It's one that has surprised me. The growing edge for me has been an increase in opportunities. I am getting several requests each week to host, to offer spiritual direction, to lead retreats, to meet with folks interested in The School of Spiritual Direction.

It's been exciting, surprising and an invitation to grow. The growth for me is in learning what to say yes and no to. Learning what is for me and what isn't; what is beyond my capacity and what is within my capacity; to learn balance.

As we seek to discover our growing edge, at first glance it can feel more like a place of pressure, drought, or overwhelmed-ness. But don't be fooled. It can also be fertile soil and the very place where God is inviting us to grow our roots, expand our capacity or clarify our focus.

So, where is your growing edge right now? Where is life exerting pressure to deepen and develop? Remember that it can often be in the very place that feels most dry or hard or overwhelming. A place you'd prefer to be transplanted from rather than remain. However, it just might be fertile soil--your growing edge.