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Short on Adulting.

Short on Adulting.

An Agave plant spends the vast majority of its life growing. Often called a ‘Century Plant’ because it can spend 80 years growing to before reaching its bloom. Imagine a giant asparagus growing 25 feet! Shortly after bloom, the stalk falls, and hundreds of genetically identical seeds fall to grow after it. The greatness of the agave isn’t just an entire life of growing. It’s also seeding life for others.

When it comes to children, growth is obvious. They get taller, lose teeth, become literate, develop a vocabulary, and seem to absorb everything (good & bad) from their surroundings. Kids also try new things with little fear of failure. And, trust seems to be the most natural thing in the world for a child.  It’s no wonder when Jesus was asked who’s the greatest in the kingdom of heaven; Jesus puts a child in the midst of their conversation. Apparently, greatness isn’t about social status or even remarkable skill. Rather, a child is held up as an ideal of humility…because with humility comes a greater ability trust.

The ability to trust is a beautiful quality of a child. Like the agave whose life is mostly spent growing, Jesus upholds a child and signifies that the process of growing and trusting – not the results – is most significant.  Childlike humility is not thinking lowly of oneself, but accurately. Humility "owns" who we are and learns to steward it. How can I trust God and use gifts for his glory? – That’s humility! That’s greatness!

A Chunk of Change.

A Chunk of Change.

Luz Brown was a Mexican immigrant who came to the US at 19 after an arranged marriage to her father’s widowed friend (?!?!). They were able to homestead right on the US-Mexico border in 1930. Luz found a job at small sweet shop – Wisteria Candy Cottage – located an hour east of San Diego. Known for 17 different kinds of divinity, 13 flavors of truffles, homemade and hand-dipped chocolate crèmes, clusters and turtles. The candy cottage became her life’s work, literally. By the ‘50’s she became the owner, working 7 days-a-week and often sleeping in the back room. While remote, the shop was on the highway where generations of people visited traveling between San Diego and Arizona.

Fast-forward a lifetime. In her 80’s with declining health, her daughter explained it’s time to move out. But, Luz insisted she had to go collect a “few things”. She began rummaging through all her secret hiding places - the Bible, coffee can, back of drawers, potted plants, even in the mattress. When all was collected, she had $80,000 lying on her bed! “Okay, we can go now”, she said as a matter of fact.

Luz Brown was my wife, Laurel’s grandmother (The shop is still going & in the family). Grandma Brown lived through the depression and banking industry collapse. Married to a husband 30 years older, she was a widow longer than she was a wife. Together, they had 5 kids. She never took a vacation or a day off. Adventure was nonsense. Desire was a luxury not to afford. She learned to survive because she learned to provide. Her work ethic was her salvation.

I think it’s easy to live our whole lives with a ‘scarcity mindset’. That is, we believe the idea that we’re one step away from poverty. In some cases, it might be true. But, resourced or not, we often default to, ‘In ME I Trust’. I think hard work is incredibly noble. Yet the ‘shadow side’ of this strength is a self-sufficiency that keeps us from ever seeing or trusting God’s faithfulness, abundance, care, and provision.

Faith is learning to trust in God. That begins with surrender, which can also feel like failure. And yet – in the kingdom of God – it’s the only way we can experience Life to it’s fullest.

"thoughts & prayers..."

"thoughts & prayers..."

I recently asked my friend Jonathan if his Burmese community appreciates the people from Mission Hills bringing groceries and donating clothes. 

He said, “Yes, they are very thankful. BUT…the thing they like most is when you pray with them and for their families.” 

I said, “Really?? They’d rather have our prayers than a meal on their table?!?”

“Pastor…meals are good but prayers are best!”

It occurs to me when you grow up with scarce education, food insecurity, under military rule, and a persecuted faith…dependence on God is your best Resource.  For a Christian who grows up in poverty and persecution, prayer isn’t something you do as a last resort. It’s a lifestyle. Prayer is a common as breath…inhaling the hope of God and exhaling praise and petitions to God.  

The idea of offering “thoughts and prayers” to people in need has been criticized as inaction and a lack of care. But we also live in a culture of advanced degrees and material wealth. We’re a society that places a premium on self-sufficiency. Of course, offering both prayers and tangible gifts are needed. However, learning to trust and rely on God can feel so un-natural, if not uncomfortable.

Here’s what I learned from ‘church’ last week when a couple of groups from Mission Hills had breakfast in Burmese apartments.  

We don’t help/serve/give to people in need in order to save them. We share our lives because we’re no different.

Practicing Compassion starts by spending time with people whose needs are different than our own. In the end, we need each other. Their dependence on faith and community continues to inspire. And, yes, we got to hear their concerns and enjoy a time of prayer together.  Felt like a lil’ heaven on earth.