Those were the words I heard as I settled into my new office, right next door to the Chapel. I knew it had something to do with a rhythm of prayer first, then all the other “work.” I needed to hear those words because I would soon find myself in the all too familiar battle for first love.Read More
I was reflecting upon these past three years that have led me on this road to the Chapel doors. It was November then too. Unveiled was born right here in the Chapel. At the time, it was a beautiful space for our first conference. I couldn’t have known how precious this place would soon become to me. I also didn’t know when God gave the vision for Unveiled that it would be a long, winding, sometimes treacherous, and beautiful road. It has not always felt so beautiful.
But I have learned along the way, things are not often as they seem.
Your harvest is coming, sooner than you think.
My cousin stopped by my house today on a quick errand. I was working in what I like to call “the creative corner” where I often sit and write. She popped her head in and said: Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep being obedient to what God has called you to do. Keep planting seeds. Your harvest is coming. Sooner than you think.
It’s so easy to hope in the things we can see – our jobs, our homes, our families – but the walk of faith is a constant invitation to put our hope in what we cannot see. We are to place our hope, our trust, our lives in a God who is invisible and who often feels intangible.
We are compelled to believe that the reality we cannot see with our naked eyes, is the truest reality of all. The Invisible, Immortal, Eternal God is who he says he is. Emmanuel – God with us.
I’m learning to fix my hope. Not just to “fix my hope” by way of where I place my trust, but to “fix” my hope by way of repairing what is broken.
I was at a family friend’s funeral recently and the priest offered these words of reflection. He recounted how often when someone has endured prolonged illness before their passing, we find ourselves saying: “They were only a shadow of themselves.” But this is not true. It is in this life here on earth that we are in fact “shadows of ourselves.” Our true and glorious nature is yet to be seen.
Not long before attending that funeral I was reading this curious little story of Jesus healing a man possessed by demons. This man who was a vivid picture of one who was quite literally living in the shadows. He actually lived in the graveyards, among the dead.
I’ve come to know this One who never breaks a promise.
I remember sitting in my bedroom one evening, crying out to God for direction. I wanted to know his plans for my life. I had come to a crossroads in my career and I wasn’t sure what was next. So I began seeking God.
This was not the first time we’d been here. I’d asked him years before to lead me, to give me passionate pursuit of his purposes. And he had answered. After nearly two years of seeking Him on this topic of destiny, I “stumbled” across a job posting that would ultimately change the course of my life. At the time, I was in the middle of sorting out many different paths. I was restless and ready to make a move. Restlessness is a good first sign that transition is coming. God begins to stir the nest.Read More
It’s an old familiar poem – these footprints in the sand. I still love it. For its honest questioning, its authenticity, and beautiful intimacy. Because in the hardest of times, our hearts groan with questions. Where are you, God? Have you left me to walk alone?
It’s this question of the poet’s heart that grips us so. We can relate to his pain and disbelief. He asks the Father why during the hardest times of his life, there’s only one set of footprints. He wonders how God could have left him to walk alone during the time of his greatest need. And of course, the Lord says – oh no way did I leave you alone. I will never leave you. It was during those most difficult times that I carried you.
I remember being on vacation once and everyone wanted to go on the submarine adventure – except me. I’m the sensible one. “Human beings do not belong on the ocean floor. Let whatever is down there, stay down there. I’m feeling pretty safe up here.” But I went anyway – very reluctantly. I won’t lie and say I loved the experience, I didn’t. It was just ok. But there’s a whole world of unknown down there – it’s beautiful, and it’s accessible.
This is where Jesus is trying to take us. Way down under water in the places where it feels unnatural, and even scary to go. The places where I can barely breathe, except he cover me.
Prayer isn’t complicated. It is like a glance – locking eyes with one that you love.
In this daily walk, there are days when words fail us. When we simply don’t know how to start the conversation. Those days are the best days. They often feel like the worst days but that is not true. On these seemingly prayer-less days, we are standing on the water’s edge of a grand invitation. Breathe in. You’re being invited to go deeper – still.
What are those places in your life where you feel like you’re just staring at water, when what you need is wine? Where the stakes are high, and like the family at the wedding at Cana, if Jesus doesn’t show up all will be lost.
When we’re in the “messy middle” of our lives, our vision is clouded. We can’t easily see what is taking shape before us, those things that God is bringing into focus. In the messy middle, we don’t know that the Lord of time and eternity is changing perspective. He is turning your messy middle into your miraculous middle.
I first heard it phrased that way from a dear friend in the Unveiled community who was smack-dab in the messy middle of life. She was sharing her testimony of walking through the pain of loss and betrayal, and God had given her this beautiful glimpse of the messy being made miraculous.
You are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her. (Luke 10:41)
I heard the Lord repeat these words from Luke to me today. I was sitting in the little chapel that I like to visit and talking to the Lord about all of the things I needed to do, and how I needed his help to do more.
It’s funny now as I write about it. The irony of it all. I’m sitting in the quiet chapel to presumably spend time with Jesus, and I’m anxious about all that I should, could, and need to be doing. Can you help me do more Lord? Can you help me be more disciplined? Can you help me gain more success?
What we are doing is always secondary to who we are becoming.
I remember when my mom made the decision to move back to Liberia. I was just starting college, and she was planning to return to Liberia as soon as I finished my education. A part of me didn’t really believe she’d go. We had moved to the United States when I was just four years old.
I was terrified of my mom returning to Liberia. She went at a time when the brutal civil war was just coming to an end. It was a nation still quite unsettled and unsafe.
When we don’t know what to do. When we can’t figure out our next move, that is the time to stand still.
I was holding my little niece Genevieve today while putting dishes in the dishwasher. She was cheerfully watching me work. Her little head turning back and forth as I picked up a dish, rinsed it and put it in the dishwasher. She didn’t want to miss a thing.
At one point I leaned over a bit further than she was comfortable, so she held on to me a little tighter and let out a squeal, a bit concerned that I may drop her. I turned and looked into her big, beautiful eyes and said “Genevieve, I got you. I’m not gonna let you fall.” Those words came back to mind just as my head was hitting the pillow that night. And I felt the Lord saying to me, “Connie, little Genevieve knows how to stand still and watch me work.”
I took this picture a few years ago in Kolkata, India.
This striking crucifix stood tall, affixed to the side of a Hindu temple that housed Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying. The man on the tree, with the words inscribed beneath him declaring his heart for humanity – I thirst.
It takes your breath away. Quite literally. I remember gasping as I walked out of the Kalighat temple area, a place dedicated to the worship of idols. And when I turned around and looked up, I could hardly believe my eyes.Read More
I find myself returning to this little chapel in the woods.
At the center of the chapel’s sanctuary is this simple wooden cross. It’s perched up along the apex of the walls, illumined by two small lights.
I remember so many tender moments with my Aunty Cynthia. Over the course of a few years, we watched her slip away from us. Those times were difficult, yet they were tempered by the occasional graces of her memory and her voice returning – of her returning to herself, if only for a moment. But in the end, she was completely weak. She could not even speak.
You are brave.
I remember the day I began to know that I was courageous. At the time, I didn’t feel very courageous at all. I was preparing to move to France. I’d decided that I wanted to learn French and that the fastest way to do it was to move halfway across the world. I was 24 and full of ambition, but also full of fear.
My middle name is Tonea. It means stay here.
My parents gave me this name native to my birthplace, Liberia, because I was nearly miscarried early in my mother’s pregnancy. I guess they wanted to encourage me to stay here until the appropriate time of delivery. It is a lesson I am also learning now. Stay here. Stay still. It feels like Jesus has been instructing me by my middle name in this season, where we are in the throes of birth pangs.