the pieces of my heart

I grew up in one place. I’ve lived in the same house for 20 years. My family was here, my friends were here, my church was here. Columbus, Ohio was really all I’d ever known. Until that day in August of 2005 when I moved away. It was two months at college before I came home again, and I realized that when I was at school, I missed home. And when I was home, I missed school. My heart was in both places, and at any given moment, I had to choose one place to be. I’m limited. I can only be one place at a time. All of us are like that. Yet both places began to feel like home.

It didn’t really make sense until this summer. Arizona became another home. The Navajos are my family now too, just like my family in Ohio and my family in Indiana. And coming back to Ohio made me see that there was a huge piece of my heart that stayed in Arizona. I’m not complete in any one place anymore. I’m always thinking about where I’m not and how those people are, because I miss them so much.

I felt somewhat empty after coming back. Like I’d poured myself out so much on the rez that it was hard to give more here. And there are very few people that will sit and listen to your hours and hours of stories and pictures and memories and laughs that defined your summer and changed you. I felt empty and drained.

Until the other night. I decided on the spur of the moment to go see Hillsong United in Indiana with a very dear friend. And as I was once again simply a part of the crowd, with music so loud that I felt it in my heart and couldn’t hear anyone around me sing, I found that God was filling up my heart again. He was taking the pieces and fitting parts of them back together. I was filled with love again and a desire to go out and serve Him more.

I still have pieces of my heart all over. Ohio. Indiana. Arizona. And now that I’m full again, who knows where else I’ll leave my heart in the future. God’s taking me somewhere. He’s using me for something. And I’ll take the adventure day by day and leave my heart where I go.


more leaps of faith

There’s a simple beauty to Ohio. Maybe I’ve always taken it for granted, growing up here and all. But as I was pushed into free falling out of a plane today I noticed the patchwork quilt of green and cornfields that make up Xenia, Ohio.

Arizona never stopped being beautiful to me. Every time I walked out our front door I was reminded of where I was, how isolated we were, and how incredible it really is. Every time I went to the canyon, my breath was taken away by the sheer vastness of what God had done there. It wasn’t simple beauty. It was breathtaking.

And I’ve become convinced that you only see God’s true beauty when you take a leap of faith. Arizona was a huge leap of faith. I was clueless heading into this summer. But if I had known ahead of time every obstacle I would face, there’s a great chance I would have backed out and said, no thanks. Maybe it’s good that we don’t know where God is leading us or why. It’s only when those moments and situations come that you find out God has enough strength to help you through. All we have to do is take that first jump.

Before this summer, I highly doubt I would have said yes to an invitation to go skydiving. I kind of used to have this fear of heights. It didn’t take the Navajos long to find out our fears. And I’m not kidding when I say that they did everything in their power to make us face our fears head on. And so by the end of the summer, there wasn’t much that scared me anymore. And when Anna called and asked if I would jump out of a plane with her, I didn’t have to think twice. My fears will never again get in the way of seeing God’s beauty, whether it’s standing at the top of a canyon or seeing the patchwork quilt of Ohio while falling from the sky.

The only way to live is by leaping into life.


I'll come back when you call me

*It started out as a feeling,
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder until it was a battle cry

I’ll come back when you call me
No need to say goodbye

Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war
It could start on the dark horizon
And follow the light

You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when it’s over
No need to say goodbye

Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget
Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
Till they’re before your eyes

You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye
You’ll come back when they call you
No need to say goodbye*

The Call – Regina Spektor

This became my theme song for the summer after I saw Prince Caspian. I’ve seen Arizona as my own type of Narnia. While there were parts of it that were so much like my world, there was so much that was different. I faced different challenges, I was stretched in different ways. And when I learned my lesson, I had to board a plane and leave.

And that’s where I am now, in the Philadelphia airport, less than three hours from the place I call home. And a huge part of my heart is still on the rez. I think I knew it was going to be hard to leave, partly because, like in Narnia, you have no idea when you get to go back.

There’s no word for goodbye in Navajo. They simply say, “see you later.” I like that. That’s one Navajo tradition that I’m going to carry with me through my life. With Christians, no matter where and when, you never really have to say goodbye. You can simply say “see you later” and know that no matter what, it will hold true.

* I’ll come back when you call me – no need to say goodbye *



“The church is a whore, but she is my mother” - St. Augustine

My Basic Christian Doctrine professor promised us that we will get burned by the church. Especially for those of us going into ministry, whether a head pastor or youth pastor or working in missions. The church isn’t made up of the perfect suburb people. The church looks like this, like the family that I’ve been working with all summer. They are far from perfect, and so am I. And the issue is learning to work together. It hasn’t been easy. There have been days where I’ve been burned, when all I’ve wanted to do is run.

But you stick with it. Not for yourself, but because God calls us to be faithful. He’s been the most faithful to us broken down and sinful people, so why is it so hard for us to turn around and understand where the people we’re working with have come from? Why must we judge when we’re all the same in the end. We all need our faithful God. We also all need each other.

The church may burn me, but I couldn’t live without it.


a frybread hotdog

The countdown is 5 days and I saw tonight the things that I am going to miss the most from Arizona. It rained hard tonight and so as we butchered another sheep with the team and made frybread, everyone was gathered around either the fire or under the shade. There was a sense of real community that I’ve seen only a few times in my life. Why is it that community always happens around food?

Sarah was explaining tonight that we butcher for the community. It’s not about how they butcher (which is still culture-shock cool) but it’s all about the why. Normally, the Navajo would butcher when a family member came home from being away for a period of time. It was a welcoming home thing. It was about bringing people together for a celebration. The tradition is much like the story of the prodigal son. When he returns home, there’s a party.

They get it. There’s something different about living like the Navajo do that changes the way you view life and the idea of community. I know being here has changed me. I’m going to live differently when I go back. No more suburb life. I may be stuck there for a while, but I’m still going to make an effort to keep some Navajo ways of living that I’ve picked up. I want to “get it” too. I want that sense of family that comes with knowing Jesus and sharing good food.

And hopefully, we’ve left a small mark on them as well. Like tonight, when we wrapped a hotdog in frybread dough and fried it. It was excellent, and I’m thinking it might be something they won’t soon forget.


one more

It’s like that scene in Schindler’s list. At the end, he’s upset with himself for not saving one more. He thinks of all the things he could have sold to save one more, he thinks of all the things he could have done better.

I feel a little bit like that right now. I have 7 days left. I’ve been here over two months and time is slipping away so fast. And what could I have done better? Who is that one more that I could have impacted better? God sent me out here for a purpose. Did I fulfill it? Did I connect like I was supposed to? Have I learned what I needed to learn?

There’s unanswered questions, but there’s also still one more week. So I guess the question is, how am I going to live this last week? It hit tonight as Townie and I were lying on a trampoline that there’s moments in life you’re never going to forget. There’s been so many this summer. There’s been so many conversations with Daniel, with Townie, with those that have come and gone, and even several with Yon.

In the spring I remember deciding to have a good day, no matter what. And that’s what I’m deciding this week. It’s going to be good. I want to laugh. I want to leave with all the good memories. I want to leave not asking what more I could have done. I would prefer to not be Schindler this time.