By Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop. -continue reading…>
It’s a grey, drizzly morning in Houston today, but I couldn’t be happier to be here. So many thoughts and feelings running through my mind and heart as the second day of the 2016 annual Gay Christian Network Conference begins.
Overwhelmed with the joy and love experienced as I connect and reconnect with some of the incredible people who have played roles of support, encouragement, and challenge in my journey over the last years.
Peace and thankfulness throughout worship last night, truly blessed to praise God with a community of faith that is honest in their brokenness and struggle, but still striving to be faithful to the One who is the source of all freedom.
Remembering this time last year, feeling trapped in that I couldn’t openly share my experience through the blog or my Facebook because I was still living that inauthentic life, not being completely honest about who I am. Then feeling amazed at how far I’ve come in the last year. That I am now in a place of freedom, emancipated from the chains of a false life. And because of that, I can share all of the amazing things that have and will occur at conference this year!
So if you’d like, follow along here for the next couple of days where I’ll be sharing the happenings at #gcnconf!
We will also be posting daily recaps at the Cinnamon Waffles Bible Study Podcast, so check us out there as well!
Stories have a remarkable ability to shape and transform our world. They are a vehicle for communicating meaning and truth in a way that impacts our lives and allows us to see a world, a truth, beyond our own.
The immense power that stories have is revealed in the fact that this is the method by which God has consistently chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. From the creation narrative in Genesis to Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom, God has revealed the truth of who He is and who we are made to be through telling a story. This story, this metanarrative of creation and redemption, draws up our own stories into itself, and weaves them into the fabric of God’s work throughout time.
I would like to share with you part of my story, and how I think it fits in the larger narrative being woven throughout history.
My uncle recently told me that it’s much easier to understand someone’s perspective when you know their story, so I share mine not to persuade you to agree with everything I believe and stand for, but simply to let you see the narrative that has made me who I am today, in the hope that it provides a foundation of understanding upon which further relationship and discussion can be built.
So, I invite you into my story, and pray God will use it to His glory. continue reading…
For those still languishing in the dark, afraid of what the daylight will bring.
I vividly remember that 15-year old high school kid facedown during worship, tears soaking the blue-speckled carpet beneath him, in anguish because his deepest secret made him unclean.
Just a few of the words I had heard used to talk about people like me, a scalpel of rhetoric slowly,
cutting away at my soul.
I remember that same kid four years later, kneeling at the foot of a cross, face soaked in despair, begging God to take this cup from him.
I hated who I was, but no one would have ever guessed. continue reading…
This is the post I was both anticipating and dreading.
The two days we spent here were simultaneously a highlight of our time in Kenya, as well as the most difficult and heartbreaking.
Kibera is an informal settlement in Nairobi, located approximately 3 miles from the city center.
Covering an area of about 1.5 square miles and home to an estimated 250,000 people, Kibera is the third largest slum in the world.
HEART operates a WEEP center in Kibera, and we would be spending two days here, meeting with the women and doing home visits, joining their weekly Bible study, and doing some painting. This was the group of women I had heard so much about from my dad, the women who were praying for my mom and I to come to Kenya. Monday night during our debrief for the day, we spent some time talking about what to expect. The team members who were returning for their second year spoke about how their time in Kibera was a highlight of their trip, and that they were excited to return. Our team leader (my dad) warned those of us who were going for the first time that nothing could prepare us to walk into that slum.
He was right. continue reading…
It’s such a blessing when you get to see the fruits of your labor.
Our first Tuesday in Kenya (June 25) we had the opportunity to break ground on the house for Mercy’s children.
We left this behind at the end of that day:
The Wednesday before we left (July 3), we had the opportunity to return to the city of Ngong, to see the progress that had been made and to dedicate the home.
Most of our ministry so far had been single day events, and we hadn’t had the chance yet to go back to be with some of the incredible people we had met. So naturally, we were excited. The women of the Ngong WEEP center had made such an impact on us, and I know the the other guys and I were looking forward to seeing Moses, Paul, and James. We were also excited to see how far they had gotten in a week.
When we arrived, we saw they had certainly made some progress. continue reading…
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. – Psalms 19:1-6
This country just continues to amaze me.
After our time working in Kisii, we headed out to the Maasai Mara for a short break.
It was safari time.
Shortly after Vickie Winkler started HEART, she was asked why she brought people to Kenya to show them only the poverty and the dirt and orphans. Why not also show them the beauty this country has to offer?
While I might argue we’ve seen the beauty of this country, especially in its people, I am very glad we were able to have this time wondering in awe at God’s creation. After a week so full of ministry and people, it was great to have a short time to unwind and begin to process what we’ve experienced so far. continue reading…
Wednesday was a long day of driving as we headed “up country,” as they call it here, to a more rural area in Kenya. The drive from Nairobi to the town of Kisii where we would be working the next two days took a little over six hours.
At this point, we have spent a lot of time traveling over the course of this trip.
We arrived early in the evening to Dr. Meshach’s home were we would be staying, thankful the rain was light that day, so as to avoid making the treacherous dirt road up the mountain that much worse.
We were shown in to a home well above the average living conditions of the surrounding community, where we would be well taken care of during our stay.
While waiting for dinner to be prepared we had the opportunity to go and see some of the continued impact previous teams we had made, including the greenhouse HEART has provided the community, where they are currently growing tomatoes! continue reading…
It amazes me the joy I find in people who have been through such incredible suffering.
But before we get to today, lets talk about yesterday.
Yesterday was a relatively easy day. After breakfast and devotions in the morning, we had our orientation to HEART and our time in Kenya (even though we’d already spent two nights here!).
After getting tips and language lessons for our time here, we had the opportunity to visit Rift Valley Academy. Rift Valley Academy is the premier international boarding school in the world, located in Kijabe, Kenya. The school is a part of the missionary organization Africa Inland Mission, and is staffed by teachers and administrators who are not paid, but raise their own support, so as to keep tuition reasonable for missionary kids.
While there we had the opportunity to speak with the principle of the high school, talking to him about his experience bringing his family to Kenya, and all the wonderfully students and staff they have. Since my dad came and stayed at RVA on previous trips to Kenya, he and my mom have talked bat a sabbatical to go teach there. Now, as I go home to start a credential program in the all, I think about doing the same…
It’s been a beautiful morning in Kenya as we get ready for our second full day in country.
Yesterday was a wonderful beginning to our time in Kenya.
After breakfast we traveled out to Namuncha, a Maasai tribal village in the Great Rift Valley to join them for their Sunday worship service. When we arrived, we were amazed by the warmth and friendliness of these people, as the children crowded around us, smiles on their faces.