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It’s dark.

It disappears. But reappears.

It’s elusive.

It haunts us.

We swing and we can’t hit it.

We run and we can’t shake it.

And then we realize this shadow belongs to us.

It reminds us of our fears.

It is the knowledge of our inadequacies.

It hides our secrets.

It carries sadness, hurt, insecurity, anger, and regret.

It’s there because of us, but it’s not connected to us.

It resembles us, but it’s distorted.

It darkens our smiles.

It diminishes our emotions.

It masks our uniqueness.

It’s void of the color in our lives.

We all have shadows.

Shadows aren’t bad. Shadows are reminders that we exist…just like everyone else. Shadows are reminders that we all carry crap.

All. Of. Us.

Shadows remind us of our humanity. Everyone has a shadow.

In fact, light creates shadows that remind us that we’re all real people, with real stuff.


Light is what shows the way.

Light shows us who we are.

Light helps us find each other.

We don’t need to swing at it. We don’t need to run from it. We simply accept that we all have one.

And then we get to remind each other of the beauty of our smiles, the tenderness of our tears, and the color in our lives that makes us unique.

Love, Acceptance, Grace…Turned Into Fields of Gold

Posted in Faith, God and the Church | No Comments »

Designed by Amy Dusek


When my dear friend Amy designed the Bloom logo, she did it purposefully. But I don’t think any of us knew the extent of its truth when it was unveiled to the world three years ago.

It’s a dandelion. Gone to seed. And we all know what happens when dandelion seeds blow away…they spread like wildfire. They take over everything. They have the potential to create fields of gold.

Last week at Bloom, we announced a change in the way church happens…with the sole purpose of spreading love, acceptance, freedom and grace through Jesus across Minneapolis and St. Paul…across the United States…and maybe even around the world…just like those dandelion seeds. (In short, we’re transitioning Bloom into a network of small, organic churches…and in St. Paul, since a strong community already exists, our organic churches will be augmented with a twice-monthly gathering of all of the churches, similar to what we currently do; if you want the details listen to the podcast here.)

We’re committed to helping people get back to the heart of what church really is – fellowship, life, food, and prayer – and we know that can happen in bars, in restaurants, in coffee shops, in parks, and in homes. Environments that are part of everyday life. Environments where relationships are developed and deepen. Environments that are safe…open and accepting to all. Environments that create opportunities for people to realize they’re loved and valuable. Environments that create opportunities for people to experience the grace of God.

The most touching moments that Jesus had with people were shared outside of the Temple.


Western culture has defined church as a place we go.

But the Bible defines the church as a people.

Western culture has defined church as an event.

But the Bible defines the church as a community.

Western culture has taught people to look at the church for what it offers to themselves.

But the Bible has taught us that the real gift in being the church is doing unto others.

Much of Western Christianity is focused upon getting people to come to them.

But Jesus asks his followers to go out into the world.

I don’t care if someone ever walks through the doors of a church…I just want them to experience true love and grace…true love and grace is divine…even when we don’t realize it…and it changes people. We don’t have to preach, we only need to love and trust God to show them the rest.

We don’t need pastors, stained glass, laser-light shows, or pamphlets filled with scare-tactics to show people Jesus…we only need each other…realizing we’re forgiven, and showing each other we’re loved.


Volume Down

Posted in Life's Compass | No Comments »

I have to watch television to fall asleep <insert thought about how unhealthy you think this is here…and then forget about it, I’ve heard them all>.

There is a certain volume level that we’ve found acceptable at our house…it doesn’t keep my husband awake at night, yet succeeds in helping me hear enough of what is going on to drown out the five million thoughts racing through my brain until the sleep timer powers down the machine.

This past weekend, we had a houseguest. And, a houseguest staying a few steps down the hall means turning the TV way down…I didn’t want to keep her awake…or have her know that, thanks to Netflix, I’ve almost finished watching every Grey’s Anatomy episode. Again.

At first, the thoughts coming from my brain were way louder than what was coming through the lit-up panel at the foot of our bed. I couldn’t sleep. But, with a little time and focus, I realized I could still hear it just fine…the more I focused, the more I could hear…and the craziness in my brain quickly slowed. I was astounded at all I could hear and comprehend with the volume down so low…the volume didn’t have to be on high to slow the tornado of thoughts. It was strangely refreshing…even freeing (enough to sit-up and write down the thought I had so I wouldn’t forget to write about it later!).

I almost felt as if I’d conquered something, although I wasn’t sure what. But the more I thought about the freedom, I realized the volume was probably a metaphor for my life.

I live a very full life. I like it that way. Things come at me from every direction. And the volume always creeps up…gradually…creating a new, unhealthy, normal. It inevitably gets to the point when something (or someone) needs to scream at me in order to get noticed. For me, letting my life get really loud only drowns out voices — including my own. Quieting things down is one thing. Screaming into oblivion is another. High volume doesn’t solve the problem, it only hides it.

I often forget that it’s up to me to adjust the volume back down…sort of like a reality check.

When we turn the volume down, we can still hear what we need to hear…and often can hear even more…and it all combines to make life much more peaceful, and much less stressful.

Turning the volume down doesn’t change what’s happening…or what needs to be done…it just turns us into better listeners.

A forgotten mission of true love and acceptance (continued thoughts about community)

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(If you missed the post earlier this week about our culture’s need for community, click here)

Follow me here…

If God = Love, and if Jesus = God, then following Jesus = Following Love


And love, by definition, is FOR someone else.

Ekklesia, the Greek word for The Church (as referenced in the New Testament of the Bible), means the assembly of the called (those who have responded to the call of God’s immense, all-encompassing, unbelievable, overwhelming, grace-filled, forgiveness-filled love…not a technical definition, but my interpretation of the love from God I’ve felt in my own life).

Shouldn’t, then, that assembly of those following Love Himself be filled with love for one another? No matter who they are? Without judgment? We read in the book of John that Jesus came to love the world, not judge it. And, if we – the assembly of the called, also known as the church – love others as Christ has loved us, then shouldn’t we have created a gathering of people filled with love for each other? A place of transparency and acceptance? A gathering of people that people long to be a part of? Instead of a gathering of people that others work hard to avoid for fear of being ostracized?

Church has become something we do, a place we go, a notch in our pride belts…instead of who we are. We talk about church more in terms of how it fits into our lives and how great we think it makes us, instead of an environment of unconditional love.

Theologian Andrew Kirk says it beautifully: What the New Testament means by the Church is not an institution which owns property, performs rites and organizes meetings, or even one that plans strategies to evangelize unreached people. Rather, it is a group of ordinary people who, because they are experiencing the immense grace of a compassionate God, are learning how to overcome hostility between people, forgive and trust one another, share what they have and encourage one another in wholesome and joyous relationships.

If love is our mission, than community follows. We can’t have one without the other.

As Christians, our unity comes from that big, sappy, mushy gift of unconditional love that we’ve all chosen to accept. It’s grace.

Our unity does not come from how we do church, or what we look like.

Grace, Himself, is our great uniter.

Who cares if people worship God differently? Who cares if we all have questions about God? Why do we argue about sin if God only sees His children as He sees his own perfect son (Jesus)? Who cares what gender, ethnicity, culture, or lifestyle brings to the table.

God is bigger than all of that. And if God = love, then love is bigger than all of that, too.

And, the moment we think we have God figured out…turned into a process, program, or a textbook…is the moment we need to realize we’ve missed the enormity of His being…we’ve missed the point.

Can’t we embrace our differences and all chase after love together? Realizing that we all bring something valuable and beautiful to the table?

God is love. God loves us. As followers of Jesus, we have chosen to accept God’s love for us. God’s love is so big that it cannot be contained in one human body.

Love overflows.

Love gives.

Love is about relationships, not rules.

Love creates community.

The church should not be an inwardly-focused exclusive club.

The church (followers of Christ, Himself) should be home to a giant party, a party where everyone is invited, a party where everyone feels loved, a party that deepens relationships and friendships, a party where people realize that the one thing that unites is bigger than all of the things that make us different.

Americans are hungry for real relationships and we, the church, should be standing at the ready, without judgment, to be curious and compassionate reminders of the bigness of Love, himself.

The church can and should be heaven on earth.


Community Buzz

Posted in Love, Hope and Humanity | 1 Comment »

Community is a buzzword right now.

Everyone wants to create their own…from President Obama’s campaign for re-election…to Starbucks…to Pinterest…to Target…to the local mechanic.

Companies like Facebook are capitalizing on people’s hunger for community.


I believe it’s because we were created for relationship.

I believe it’s because we were created to love and be loved.

And, sadly, I think our culture has forgotten about our natural wiring as human beings…we were never meant to be alone.

Instead of discovering the exponential beauty that we can create collaboratively by letting our lives weave together, we’ve created an empire of self. And in an environment where we glamorize and reward independence, we’ve, consequently, created loneliness.

Pride and loneliness. Now, there’s a combination…certainly not the definition of heaven on earth.

No wonder the world is hungry for true community again. No wonder organizations are spending millions of dollars to create it.

I prided myself on being independent for 30 years. Every single report card as a child lauded my independence. I became so stubborn about doing everything myself that I would avoid things I couldn’t do on my own because I didn’t want to ask anyone for help. And, then, I felt alone. When you feel alone, you realize how weak you are, you dissect your inabilities, and you dwell on your insecurities.

Sounds healthy and fun, eh?!

No wonder we Americans have a problem. No wonder people are committing suicide. No wonder there are eating disorders. No wonder bullying is a problem. No wonder mental illnesses have sky-rocketed. No wonder people are suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally. No wonder people are hurting.

No wonder even giant companies and organizations are trying to address the problem.

Mother Teresa said it wisely: “The worst disease in today’s world is not leprosy or cancer: it is the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, of being deserted and alone.”

I know today that I was never really independent. I only pretended I was…pretended to myself, and pretended to the world. Being independent put me in control. Being independent helped me avoid putting burdens on anyone else. Being independent protected my feelings.

Independence from people is not a breeding ground for love.

Pretending to be independent kept me from being me. It kept me from letting others help me see things in myself I didn’t know were there. It kept me from the full manifestation of love in my life.

I read a blog last week that said 44 percent of the letters in the New Testament of the Bible are about how we should get along with one another (only four percent were about “spiritual gifts”). In the same blog I read that the words “one another” are mentioned 59 times! As someone who has spent more than a decade in professional communications and messaging, I can tell you that mentioning something that many times means it’s REALLY important.

We cannot “one another” by ourselves!

Furthermore, we cannot love one another without looking beyond ourselves.

Community is the manifestation of love. You can’t have one without the other.

Loving others IS loving God. Where love is present, God is present. Love creates community. Where two or more are gathered, THERE GOD IS in the midst of us. Why? Because then LOVE is present.

Community is detrimental to our well-being.

Community spreads love.

Community spreads God’s love.

Community changes peoples’ lives.

Community is the church in action.

Our decision to follow Christ may be a personal one, but the manifestation of Him in our lives is not…it’s about people…community.

No we can’t all be best friends to everyone, then it would be fake…and we’d all be bad friends. But we can all show love, compassion and curiosity. We can all take time to learn about people. We can all connect people with others. We can ALL create community. Community isn’t something we sit around and wait to land in our laps. We were all charged with creating it when we were charged to LOVE.

If God has commissioned us all to love…love, by nature, forms an interdependent community.

We don’t need ad agencies, web firms and Fortune 500 companies to spend millions of dollars to create something already at our fingertips.

Bob Goff, the author of my favorite new book called Love Does, says it eloquently: “It seems that what God does most of the time when he has something to say is this…he doesn’t pass us messages, instead he passes us each other…We are the means, the method, the object and the delivery method.”

Let’s not get bogged down in the pride of independence or unravel in our loneliness. If we all stopped making life about ourselves and started loving where we’re capable of loving in our lives, community will be created…guaranteed…because that’s what love does.

(And, we’re not done on this topic yet…in a few days I’ll be sharing about the church’s role in creating community!)