Meditating.

I’ve been reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer, if you don’t know him, was a German pastor/theologian who was heavily involved in the fight against Hitler and his Nazi regime. He ultimately was executed for his role in a plot to assassinate Hitler but before that happened he made a mark on history in many ways. I’m fascinated by the story of his life and how he impacted the Christian world.

Over the years I’ve considered many different ways to study the Scripture and honestly sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the thought of how to best grow in my understanding of God and the words he provided for us to read. Once when Bonhoeffer was asked how he grew in his relationship with the Lord, he replied he didn’t just read his Bible daily but he mediated on the words of God.  I thought through that and was surprised to see in my own life where that was lacking. So I started looking at my Bible reading as a time of mediation not just reading the words but thinking through them deeply, asking myself “what is God trying to show me in this text?” and praying through verses or passages that were confusing. This means I read less Scripture each time I read but I’m finding its having a great impact on my life.

Not only that, it is having a greater impact on how I talk about the Bible with those in my life. About the time I made this shift in thinking, my discipleship circle starting reading through Romans together. What perfect timing to focus on mediating on the word of God. Roman’s is a tough book. Chapter 1 starts off with some pretty direct teaching about sin. We got into a pretty heavy conversation that night and I didn’t feel prepared. I felt beat up by the Word, beat up by our cultural influences and a little bit like my friends might never speak to me again. Thankfully, the next time we met we’d all had a little more time to pray through and process what God was teaching us and as I meditate through our readings each week God is teaching us all so much!

So next time you are reading the Word, don’t just read to get it read, but read for understanding. Read for God to speak through His words. Ask Him what insights He wants to show you!

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lessons in leadership

All of us are leaders. You may not have some high power leadership job but you are leading others, even if you are unaware of it. God has called each of us to a specific role, in a specific place, and for this specific time. He has gifted us and He is using our experiences to grow us and changes. And the really cool thing is He is using us to grow and change others. This got me to thinking of some leadership skills I’ve experienced and some I’d like to grow in. Let me share them with you.

Listen.

As leaders we probably spend way too much time talking. We should talk less and listen more. Don’t just hear them but pay attention to what people are saying! Listening gains trust!

Share your lives with others.

Isn’t this one of greatest gifts of leadership. Be open to share your life with the people around you… have meals together, play together, cry together, laugh together. This will bring joy to both parties!

Think the best in others.

This was a leadership lesson shared with me a couple years ago and when it was said I had this “ah ha” moment where I was like of course that is what we should be doing but for some reason it doesn’t always naturally occur to me!

Be authentic. 

Share your vision and live your values, be yourself. What does being yourself look like, to me it means not just agreeing with other people or forming your opinions based on what you perceive others want. Sometimes that even means looking closely to identify who we really are.

Be gracious. 

So you are being yourself and you don’t agree with someone, handle that with grace and kindness. Always show respect in conversation and realize differences in opinions don’t have to lead to broken relationships.

Realize when you are wrong.

Don’t beat yourself up about it but realizing and owning where you are wrong will build trust and authenticity within in your community!

What are some practical leadership principles you live by?

You’ve got a friend in me.

Hey guys–happy February. Not sure how this month is almost over but it is! I’m working on some blog posts for this year that are a little less update and a little more what God is teaching me. These lessons are playing out in ministry all over the city and I have seen them first hand in my life so I wanted to share some of them with you. Here’s the first one.

Friendship. (one of my favorite words!)

Following Christ requires relationships. It’s one of my favorite things about being a Christ follower; we get to share our lives with others! Many of those relationships are fun and life-giving but others are a bit more complicated—co-workers who are difficult to work with, family members who stir up conflict, and neighbors who aren’t very neighborly. Jesus taught us a lot about navigating relationships and here are a few things we can learn from His interactions with others—

*Always respond with truth.
This is a hard reality about relationships. We must be honest with those we care about even when it’s difficult. The truths Jesus shared with others during His ministry were not always well received but He spoke them nonetheless.

*Be direct and authentic.
Jesus didn’t butter people up with flowery language. He spoke the truth directly. We are called to do the same. Authenticity builds genuine, caring relationships even in the most difficult situations.

*Use any opportunity to share your message.
Jesus took advantage of every opportunity the Farther gave Him. Everyday we are given opportunity to take our life-changing message to those around us. Intentionally seek these opportunities and respond with the hope and joy Christ gives you daily.

*Choose people over tasks.
In the story of the Samaritan woman, Jesus was on his way to Galilee. He had somewhere else to be but knew the Samaritan people were too important to pass up. Relationships should always trump tasks. This is particularly hard for our human nature. We are busy people. We like to get things done. While choosing people over tasks can be difficult its a very rewarding decision.

*Be compassionate.
Jesus was often weary, physically hungry, and tired, but he chose compassion for others over immediately meeting his own physical needs. One of the greatest gifts we can provide others is the gift of compassion, a helping hand in times of trouble or a kind word after a long difficult week.

*Be an initiator.
Jesus didn’t wait for His followers or others to ask, He took the initiative to their lives. I’ve never had a close relationship that didn’t require work. Take initiative whenever possible to build strong, healthy relationships. Invite a coworker to lunch, ask a neighbor to go on a walk, etc.

*Experience communion in true friendship.
Throughout Christ’s ministry we see true and authentic connection with His disciples. Verses like John 15:15 show us how much Christ cared for His companions. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends…” Truly investing in others’ lives can be tricky but it’s worth it. Authentic connection with other believers strengthens faith, and friendship with non-believers gives opportunity to share the gospel through word and deed.

(Read John 3: 1-21, John 4:1-26-42 to see these things played out in Jesus’ relationship with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman and his disciples.)

18 for 2018 [looking forward]

On a road trip when I was home for Christmas I happened upon this podcast called Happier. I liked the concept of the word happier…like you do not have to be the happiest but moving towards happier is a healthy way to look at our lives. So I listened to a couple episodes and they caught my attention with this challenge to create a “to do” list of 18 things for 2018 that would make you happier. You know it’s like setting resolutions but instead of a list of things you feel like you have to do this would be a list of things you’d want to do. So I sat down and created my list and thought I’d share it with you! Here goes…

6 new things
6 random acts of kindness
5 year NYC anniversary (done)
Long Day (this is a day of fun on summer solace I created last year)
2018 miles (run, walk, or bike)
#SistaVacay10
2015-2016 photo book (I’m a bit behind)
A Christy/Jesus retreat
Take a writing seminar (Should I write a book??)
Take a cooking class (Scheduled for April)
Finish my LIC restaurant list (I want to eat at every restaurant in my neighborhood, I have about 15 more to go)
Disneyworld (with Misty’s family next month)
Frozen on Broadway
Win 2 diet bets/fitness competition (one almost finished)
Do 18 random generous things (2 down 16 to go)
One distant friend call a month
Treat yo’self once a month
Read Bonhoeffer biography (This one may talk all year!)

I tried to make the list a little ministry and a little personal. I cannot wait to see how they all turn out. The ones I have accomplished already have been a blessing. Here’s to making 2018 a little happier!

17 for 2017 [a review]

Let’s wrap up 2017 with one of my favorite things: a LIST! I love making list because, well honestly, they are easy to read! As I was listening to a podcast the other day, I was challenged to choose 18 things to do in 2018 to bring a little more happiness to my life. That got me to thinking back on this year and I wanted to share with you my top 17 moments of the year 2017.

These are in no particular order and may exclude some important moments but its the list I can think of on December 31, 2017.

  1. Seeing my friends Tara and Leslie baptized and listening to them share about their faith and how our New City Church family has become home to them.
  2. Traveling to Greece and Egypt with some great friends to celebrate the wonderful Christy Hill’s 40th birthday.
  3. Thanksgiving this year was such a blessing. I loved serving with New City folks at a local homeless residence and then spending the rest of the day with my fantastic friends eating some delicious food.
  4. Spending quality time with old friends in Owensboro, KY.
  5. Training other missionaries in partnership development.
  6. Seeing the Great Pyramids in Egypt.
  7. Michael and Shannon Hill moving to NYC. This family has been a great addition to my life and our ministry. And their two adorable girls are a big part of that!
  8. Flying over Greenland and seeing some of the most amazing white scenery I’ve ever seen.
  9. Walking through a difficult journey with a friend. I know this doesn’t sound like a great moment, but we are made for relationships and in the tears and heartache for this friend, I’m becoming a better me and God is using our friendship for His purposes.
  10. Will and Molly visiting NYC (there were some other cool visitors but these were my favorite).
  11. 1st Annual NYC Long Day. Although a lot of it was rained out I love starting traditions and look forward to making this a part of my summer each year.
  12. Celebrating 10 years of friendship with my Nashville friends.
  13. Closing out 5 years in NYC!
  14. VIP tickets to a Yankees game!
  15. Ringing in the new year in Times Square, something I had been trying to do since 2000.
  16. Coaching missionaries serving in NYC.
  17. And last and probably most impactful…being constantly surrounded by amazing people that push me to be the best version of me and love me even when I fail at it!

Watch for next month’s blog post where I share my 18 for 2018!

A picture is worth a 1000 words…

Ok so maybe not a 1000 words because you don’t read blogs for a thousand words but apparently this is just what you say when you think a picture summarizes an experience more than your actual words can! So here’s a bunch of pictures to update you my life and ministry!

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In September Send NYC hosted a vision tour. Here Josh Edney, a team member, from the Bridge Church talks with the participants about the work God is doing through their church and the potential they have to move into this building in Flatbush.

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Recently, I started working with Steve Kersh at the national office to lead other missionaries in Ministry Partnership Development training and coaching. This is from a seminar we did earlier this month through BLVD at NAMB. I’m excited to help other leaders grow in their knowledge and understanding of partnership development.

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Long Island City continues to grow and expand. This is looking down Jackson Ave where it meets 50th Ave.  The Citi Bank Building is getting a lot of company in the sky.

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Recently we had 26 people sign up to serve through one of our New City Church ministry teams! This was a great Sunday to mobilize our church family to be on mission with us!

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View from One World Observatory! You can see LIC to the far upper right.

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Grateful for times when friends and ministry partners get to visit me! This is my friend Brandi who I had the privilege of sharing life with when I lived in Nashville.

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The Hills’ newest addition is adding some fun variety to my life. Here she is rocking it during worship yesterday. 

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In September I was blessed to share at a women’s conference through NY WMU. It was great to share what God is doing through my ministry with women who love and support missions.

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Ellis with his friend Macy. He continues to give me opportunities to meet people and have conversations. It helps that he is the world’s friendliest dog. He even hung out at the carnival with us and helped lead the costume parade.

Continue to pray for the work of New City and other church plants in New York! God is doing great work and I’m very thankful to play a small part in it.

Buzzfeed is my life.

Not like “its my life… I can’t live without it” but more like “its my life…literally I could have written this article”. Most of the buzzfeed staff live in cities like NYC so much of what they write about is relatable so when I saw this post today, I couldn’t help but think you guys might enjoy reading it and then seeing how this list has played out in my life.

So click the article and read:

19 Bizarre Things about NYC Apartments most Americans will never get

Now here are 9 ways I can totally relate:

  1. I have paid a brokers fee to rent an apartment…something I only thought was possible when you buy real estate.
  2. I’ve lived in a three bedroom 1 bathroom apartment with 4 girls.
  3. Tiny bedroom been there.
  4.  No closet, yep! I pulled out some pinterest skills to create hanging space.
  5. I have had all the laundry options: no laundry at all, laundry in the building, and laundry in unit… I prefer no laundry at all b.c its actually easier (and surprisingly affordable) to pay someone else to do it.
  6. #12 pretty much my exact kitchen in my first place, I had a sofa table I used for counter space.
  7. I’ve used a lot of duct table and screws to get my AC units into windows.
  8. #18 I literally spent a whole winter with my windows opened all the time! And the noises radiators make are creepy!
  9. Thankfully the NYC apartment search for me has been over for a while and there is nothing nightmarish about where I live now! But to all my homies still living in the chaos I haven’t forgotten you or where I came from!

**this article failed to mention bugs, crazy neighbors, weed, and times where you find fecal matter on your door step/street and I am sure the list could go on and on.

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I once lived in mission team housing had to put this sign up to protect my life and property

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And I used the bunk bed to create a tv stand

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One half of my first real apartment

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the other half of that apartment

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And most of the time the post office is real stellar.

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And I had a mission team walk stuff 3 blocks to a new apartment b.c it wouldnt all fit in a van.

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but when you have views like this who’s complaining!