Dear House Hunters….

I am starting a new series on my Tumblr called “Dear House Hunters.” Every day until I sell my house, I am going to post a helpful tip or note about my house.

Hopefully I won’t have too many posts in this series.

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Wrapping Up Another Birth Month

I turned 36 this month and I still love celebrating my birthday. Presents and parties (sans the pinatas and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey) are still fun but I love being with friends. Each year I think, “This has been the best birthday ever,” only to reach the next birthday and think, “This is the best birthday ever.” I stopped to think about that little phenomenon and came to the conclusion that each year I am excited about life and about the life God has given me and that I get another year of it and that I have great people with which to share it. No matter what city I am in, great friends surround me and support me and celebrate with me.

This year was no exception. I got up really early, spent a couple hours in my car, shared my story with a church in Henderson, TN, spent a couple more hours in my car going back to Nashville for what I called a Super Birthday Mac-n-Cheese Bowl Party at a friend’s house. This was likely to be the last birthday that I celebrate as an actual Nashville resident so it was a tad bittersweet. But man, what a great time I had, hanging out with Shelley, Joe, April, Stephanie, Greg and Lucas, and just being and eating dessert hummus and watching football and marveling over Madonna’s halftime show and texting our friend Shelby who was working in Indy. It felt good, being with a group of friends that have watched me grow up in Nashville and have been inspirations and mentors to me. It just seemed like the perfect culmination of my life in Nashville.

That’s what made this birthday the best, and every birthday the best. Yes, there is the miracle of life for which I am grateful to God. But there are also the relationships and friendships because those go beyond the 24 hours of a birthday party (though, I typically take the full month of February to celebrate my birth month). My friends, my confidants are with me every day or available to me every day, and I am so blessed to have them (you!). And while I’m confident that Nashville connections will last beyond my residency, I will still miss the daily or weekly or monthly face-to-face interaction that I have with them. It has been a great 14 years that has resulted in more wonderful friendships than I could have imagined.

It’s almost a little too weird for me to think about where I will be next year for birthday #37. Much will happen between now and then, and there will be a giant “good bye” party in there somewhere as well. So until then, I mean to capture as many friend moments as possible this spring, starting with this big “thank you” for your friendship, prayers, and support.

Meet My Friend Lena

Are you sensing a trend yet? I just now realized it myself. The folks that I have featured so far are friends that I met while living in Los Angeles. Lena is another one of those friends.

I met Lena through young adult/singles ministry at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley. I remember sitting on the back patio of a friend’s house, for some group function, talking with Lena about her move to Uganda. She was working out the details of her condo (to sell? to rent?) and we were swapping notes (at the time, my house in Nashville was being rented). If memory serves me correctly, she had also recently found out that her teaching position was being eliminated, which became another sign that in fact she was moving in the right direction.

Lena had been to Uganda on mission trips and was moved to serve there full-time. She joined New Missions Systems International (NMSI) in 2008 and left for her new home about the same I moved back to Nashville in 2009.

In Uganda, she works in partnership with Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM). ARM is an indigenous NGO that started to train up a new generation of Christian leaders. Lena is currently working on a multi-level leadership curriculum to meet the needs of ARM’s 8,000+ sponsored children. It was a project that was to last a few months and now will last five years! Lena is also responsible for coordinating the development of leadership materials into a variety of local language, to better met the needs of the non-English speaking population of Uganda.

She is also diving into learning the Luganda language. Lena has a Luganda language class on Tuesday afternoons and works in an office surrounding by native speakers. I’m praying that she will feel more and more confident in the language within no time.

I happily support Lena each month. I just love how God spoke to her heart, so she picked up and went. And she is such an inspiration and encouragement to me now as I do my own fundraising.

Lena and I emailed recently and I asked what her prayer needs were right now. If you think about it, could you pray that:

1. Work: That God will continue to lead and direct her at work and that all that is done is what he desires for the organization
2. Her work permit: It is coming time to renew it; pray that it will be short and easy
3. Trip to the States (Oct/Nov): That it will be a refreshing time to catch up with everyone and be renewed before returning to Uganda

Blog: www.lifewithlena.blogspot.com

Lena is in need of a few new donors to make up for the loss of several donors in this new year. To make a tax-deductible donation, go here.

Meet @districtchurch in Washington, D.C.

Another friend that I support is Justin Fung. I met Justin at Fuller Theological Seminary; we were both cross-cultural studies folks. After he finished at Fuller, he moved to Washington, D.C. and served with Sojourners for a year. When his time with them ended, God led him to join a church plant in D.C. now known as The District Church where he now serves as Associate Pastor.

What I appreciate about Justin is his desire to live out the gospel. Whether that’s with The District Church now or in his previous work with Sojourners or the ONE campaign, he works for the least among us. He lives out his calling to see that everyone has the right for justice and compassion.

I also appreciate his honest and authentic outlook on life. He asks questions and he seeks answers and doesn’t act like a know-it-all. You can see for yourself via his blog.

Something else I like about this church is their Leadership Residency. Justin started as a Leadership Resident; that’s when I tuned into their work and started supporting him/them. The Leadership Residency program gives leaders pastoral experience for those called to church planting or urban ministry. They want to train leaders who will then lead a church or urban ministry, either in D.C. or elsewhere. What great idea and great opportunity in such an important city. It was great to hear Justin’s stories as he served as a Leadership Resident and now as a pastor.

ABOUT THE CHURCH: The District Church is a non-denominational church in Washington, D.C., that started in spring 2010. A small group of people came together to be a church that existed for the sake of the city. A city with many of the world’s most educated minds but also the lowest performing public schools. The capital city of the world’s wealthiest nation but also the highest poverty rates. What extremes! The District Church aims to be a community for the world changers that arrive in Washington and for those on the outside of society.

Website: www.districtchurch.org
Twitter: @districtchurch
Facebook: www.facebook.com/districtchurch

To make a tax-deductible donation, click here.

One Word 365

I am taking part in One Word 365. My one word for 2012 is READ. I am attempting to read one book per week this year. You can keep track of my progress and read my notes or reviews of the books on my Learning website here.

We just started Week 6, though I am still working on the book from Week 5…it’s pretty long. I hope to finish it with enough time to start the next book before the week ends.