Stories in the Missional Journey of Bruce & Deborah Crowe

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Surrendering Outcomes

When we plan, we have an end in mind, an outcome. These outcomes become drivers that help us stay focused and motivate us. Very few of us do anything without an outcome in mind. Whether we’re going to the store, or going to bed, we’re anticipating certain results.

In philosophy, this concept of a goal, an end-game, is referred to as teleology (gr. telos). When we live our lives, we who are reflective and consider the end and not just the beginning or middle, would be considered teleological thinkers.

Some of us are really wired, and perhaps even gifted to sift through many possible outcomes. If we have a big decision to make, we envision the potentialities, the outcomes. Will this make us happy? What will my life look like when the dust settles on this decision, or that decision? For many of us, to simply forge ahead impulsively and not consider the teleological end would be the very definition of insanity.

Enter Jesus, and a depth of Christ following that I’m only just beginning to live into. I can say, without a doubt, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed mapping out my life to date. I left the comfort of my rural Canadian farm life at the ripe age of 18. It was exciting, risk filled, and under-girded by a desire to detach my story from any sense of predictability and safety. After marrying, Deb and I found ourselves taking wild left and right turns, from Louisiana, to Mexico, Texas, and ultimately Ukraine. It all was going well, until it wasn’t.

The way we navigate life as we age, changes. As you sojourn through this mid-life phase, there are some rather sneaky things that begin to take place, often buried quite deeply in the soul. They aren’t as obvious as one might think, they require isolation, solitude, and a bravery that makes impulsive risk taking seems like a piece of cake. You see, for the broken, which I suspect is all of us, our teleological end game is skewed. We aren’t truly living for the kinds of virtuous endings we’d like to think.

We’re afraid of this life, because if we’re honest, we’re terrified of death.

How do I know this to be true? Well, my end game, my focused outcome wasn’t as much about enjoying the present or the Creator that made it, as it was co-authoring a story that would impress me, others, and the Creator that just might be weighing some scales. The motivations of my life were driven, therefor, by fear. This wretched thing called fear takes so many shapes! It’s most damning effect, I think, is in it’s insulating work. Fear drives us into the past, and into the future, because the present is terrifying.

The past and future are, in effect, illusory figments of the mind. There is no love there, for love can only take place in the present. We can’t love our future friend, lover, or God in the future. The present is where the action is at. The present moment, the present click of the keyboard, the present smell of burnt toast, the present grinding of my son Noah’s electric guitar in the basement. This gift of of the present, has been for me the hidden treasure I’ve spent the first half of my life overlooking in the chase of the teleological end of a life well lived.

Do you see the problem?

Deb and I are no longer motivated by what instigated us forward in the past. Why? Well, quite simply, we’ve been reckoning with the deep love of Jesus. This love, while comfortably lodged in our prefrontal cortex these many years, has been re-inviting us to consider its demanding, holistic work.

The good news, if you haven’t heard, is that we are loved by an everlasting, perfect love of a Father.

This love comes us to us in the present. We may have experienced this love in the past, and we will inevitably experience love in the future, but love is intending to balm and heal us now, in this moment. As we posture our hearts for this reality, this love, we face our deepest fears. Our narratives, our efforts, our attempts to run from the present are confronted. We need a deeper faith to confront our deep insecurities, and sense of unworthiness.

So, let’s close with this whole idea of surrendering our outcomes. Caught in the throws of this war in Ukraine, our family has relocated to Romania. The narrative, the calling to mission, the Crowe family running about doing crazy things for Christ, well, it’s taking a beating. As we come increasingly aware of this profound love come to us in Jesus, we’re sensing the invitation to surrender all these formulated outcomes. It’s death, it’s crushing, it’s a cross.

The cross is not just a symbol or event somehow detached from the nature of God instrincially. The cross is a place of self emptying, of implicit trust. Jesus, if truly the Son of God, could have at any time changed his outcome. What an outcome of his life!? He wrestled with this, and we’re given the inside look into his soul’s anguish as his fully human self embraced, by faith, the fully divine mandate from the Father. He was suspended, between the earth, and the sky, in a place of utmost trust in the trustworthy character of God the Father.

We too are called, to these mini-crosses, these places of surrendered outcomes. We may have the so called wisdom, the practical experience, the skills to pay the bills to navigate our own way through valleys of indecision. The cross, however, doesn’t ask us to living into particular futures. We’re already loved, perfectly, and this love liberates us from holding particular outcomes with a fierce grip.

We are invited to surrender the outcomes, and thereby participate in this cruciformity of Christ.

These are becoming more than words. They are not new words, being crucified with Christ, or giving our lives to Christ. Something happens, however, that defies all previous experiences on this journey when the words become a prayer, a surrender of trust, and love in the present moment moves in. We become the grain of wheat that dies and enters the earth. This is the miracle of Christ following, it’s a pattern. When we die, we yet live. We who serve Christ have a resurrection faith, and the power of this new life can only be found on the other side of surrender.

I still plan, I consider outcomes, and I think I’m really good at it too! I have to purposefully stop myself from going down the limitless paths before me. What’s different, or what’s becoming different, is that when I reach one that I really like and feel the clasping hand begin to close around a particular outcome, I see Jesus smiling, and directing me to a cross of trust.

I can lay things down and truly surrender the outcome when I am liberated from fear, living into the present and being filled with His love.

Why so offended?

Have you ever pondered the offensive nature of Jesus Christ? What does humanity find in Christ so repulsive that his name is substituted for, or as a form of cursing. Our family was watching a family friendly movie the other night, and I was surprised to hear Jesus name invoked in times of anger and frustration by the lead actor.

The next morning, I was reading from the book of Matthew, where John the baptizer from prison reaches Jesus disciples with a question to pose to the Rabbi.

“Are you the one?” John is now stuck in prison, his death impending for calling out Herod’s divorce and re-marriage to his niece. With John probably sensing his impending end, he’s looking for some hope, was this all for naught?

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

Jesus seems to be saying, as recorded by Matthew, “Let my actions speak for themselves.” Not only were these actions all impossible for any mortal to accomplish, but this answer is a fulfillment of prophecy which echoes through the writings of the prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah. The promise of the Messiah was to liberate, to emancipate, to heal and resurrect that which was left for dead on the margins of society – the poor.

What good news indeed for the wretched, the broken, the imprisoned, the sinner, the dead.

The next verse struck me, in light of this idea of Jesus being so offensive.

“Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” This word for stumble is an interesting word. It’s translated offense, or place of falling, or fall away from an intended trajectory. Jesus uses this to describe the Pharisees several times, their religious trappings represented an offensive stumbling block to those trying to pursue a path of true righteousness and connection with the goodness of almighty God.

This passage is so interesting, because nothing listed in Jesus reply to John is offensive, is it? What is offensive about healing or mending someones plight? It got me thinking about the narrative, the overarching story of Christ’s ministry in the world. How beautiful was it, really? He was patient, merciful, loving. His days seem to be filled with selfless compassion. Jesus lived from the inside out, the perfect human, really. If Jesus were alive today, how would he be judged up against say, a Mother Theresa. The only ones finding offense it seems, are those refusing to consider that He just may be who He says He is, the Father, eternal Creator in the flesh.

So why has his name been aligned with angry or belligerent cursing? I can understand using the name Hitler, or if the West started using the name Putin in their repertoire of cursing. But Jesus? The life that was spent in service to others, and not just those in power, but the oppressed, and needy, helpless, the poor. What exactly is going on here?

I’ve come up with a few options.

  1. Ignorance: maybe folks who curse using Christ’s name are simply in the darkness as to the nature of his life, mission, and suffering death.
  2. Hypocrisy of Jesus followers: The church, particularly as it’s been wrapped up in various cultural forms through the ages, confusing the Spirit of Christ for domination and exterior symbols, hasn’t had the best track record at times. Maybe folks curse in Jesus name as a defiant rebuke to all that is religion and considered inauthentic.
  3. Social conformity: why do we use any of the metaphors, and forms of speech anyway? It’s all learned to a degree. I started using the word “Ratatouille” a few years back whenever I was frustrated or stubbed my toe (which happens more than one would think!). It was an interesting social experiment. My kids started laughing at first, then they were confused, then, occassionally, I would hear them yell, “Ratatouille” from across the house. Yes, we sometimes just copy without much thought.
  4. Disbelief: Jesus represents unfathomable love, come to us. This love, this reality, perhaps is a direct confrontation towards the other ways we all seek affirmation, and meaning. Could it be that Jesus, the proposition that God has come to earth and IS love, that we ARE valued beyond all material things, startles humanity to the core. Rather than process this idea, ruminate anywhere close to this idea, it’s better to push down the idea in a manner that might keep us focused on the house we are building, the life now being erected on sand.

I’m not sure why folks curse in Jesus name. I suspect there’s a measure of truth in all the reasons mentioned above. I do think, however, that love, God’s love, is terrifying when centered around the selfless, compassionate Savior who lived, and died in absolute consistency with the pathos, suffering nature of love. That Christ, is a rock we are told, and our lives built on this revelation of a Loving and all powerful God will end very well for us! However, the great exchange required, the leaving behind the house built on sand, the identity we’ve worked so hard to live into, cannot be held as Christ the healer and lover of our souls is considered.

Keep God aloof, disinterested, sovereign to the point of detachment from this material reality. That God is easily rejected. Stay ignorant, refuse to read the historical narrative this Jewish teacher, that keeps Jesus flying off our lips as some expression of detesting. Lean into Jesus the person, look at his ministry, death and resurrection, and we’ll come face to face with a terrifying reality; The Creator knows who we are, loves us despite our participation in the rebellion.

Who do we say He is? There really can be no answer that skates between the poles. Is He a fake, joke, curse word, or the center of the universe suspended on a cross of shame in our place? Go tell John, the good news has come. Blessed are those who don’t stumble over this reality.

August Update

News from Ukraine, Bruce starts a new podcast, and a lessons from a bee.

Greetings friends & partners,

The war continues to drag on, especially in the East. Ukraine is mounting a counter-offensive, but to what long term purpose? Armed with weapons and the US provided HIMARS rocket system, Ukrainian soldiers seem to be stalling any significant Russian advance, blowing up bridges, weapon depots, and critical supplies to the front.

As much as we’d like to believe Ukraine is turning the tide of this occupation, the reality is it’s becoming more of a war of attrition. From my perspective, the West is bleeding the Russian army through the very real blood of Ukrainians who are willing to die before surrendering another inch of their homeland.

When I talk with Ukrainians, their response is essentially the same, “What choice do we have?” They have witnessed what Russian occupation looks like. There’s no going back.

Yesterday, by way of latest news, we were told that Ukrainian tanks were on the move passing through Kyiv regions en route to the Belarus border. Is Putin about to re-invade from the North? This week we received some requests for new refugees in Romania, it seems men in the army are telling their families to evacuate as if something is brewing. Also, the nuclear power plant U.N. nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine “is completely out of control” – Russia is using it as a staging ground and for weapons storage because they know Ukraine can’t fire back. So there’s that! (Article yesterday click here).

Lastly, as of today, the Ukrainian banks in the Kherson occupied regions will cease receiving funds. We have 26 widows and 11 volunteers we’ve been supporting since the beginning of the war. Barring a miracle, we will no longer be able to support them monetarily. The costs have sky rocketed there, and the Russians are implementing the Ruble fully now.

Changing gears, let’s talk about areas we are focused on, and where 90% of our time and resources are going as a ministry in this season. We thank you for giving, praying, supporting. We rely on monthly gifts, and this summer our giving levels have returned to pre-war amounts. We’re now spread out however, and doing a LOT more than we did before so we we need wisdom as we head into the fall and winter months when our expenses typically escalate.

GOOD NEWS!!! This week our windows arrived for our new mission building, so in the next month we’ll the space to start storing up food and essential supplies. We just completed a van load of aid from Romania, and will plan another one as soon.

Our ministry focus right now is in three areas:

  • Widow’s Construction: repairing war damaged homes in previously occupied areas.
     
  • Refugee Care: with a focus more on our own friends, inviting them for some rest and soul care. Less is more. We are planning an October retreat in Western Ukraine Lord willing.
     
  • Story-Telling: through the new podcast, videos and stories produced by Aleksa and her team, we want to keep things human, engaging, and hopefully bring influence in more spaces.

PROGRESS: We have completed now 16 construction projects, and have 11 more on tap for August.

Beyond fixing war damaged houses among the elderly, we are assisting a young single mom who’s an orphan. Her apartment is still standing and structurally sounds, but windows and doors were blown open by shelling and interior walls broken. Here video is below.

Pray for Anya, and the volunteers that serve with us that will use this opportunity to share Jesus love and care for her after construction.

I’d also like you to meet Valentyna. She’s 65 years old and represents, like so many of the elderly caught in this war, a typical story we continue to run into. Her husband died more than 10 years ago. She worked for many years in sales in a small shop. She had 2 sons, one of them died, and the other is in Russian occupied Eastern Ukraine but she doesn’t know where he is or what happened to him.

A shell landed in her yard, destroying her windows, door and fence. With your help, we are able to help widows like Valentyna and many more!

Watch more videos-  Click Here

Thought you might enjoy seeing inside my world. I live in Ukrainian Excel documents (below).

Here’s the active August widow’s construction projects underway; the city names, streets, project lead, budget breakdown and hrvnya ($) estimate. In the past week the Ukrainian currency went from 27:1 (where it’s been for the past 5 years) to 36:1, but unofficially it’s trading over 40 on the streets. The systems are cracking, inflation taking effect, this will be a difficult winter.

Aleska and Masha have been working hard to release our new projects page on our Mir Ministries website. Much prettier than the excel document, and in English just for you!

Now you can finally see all our active campaigns, videos and donate all in one area.  VISIT PROJECTS

Bill and I met Onisim (yes, I now know an Onisim like in the New Testament!) in March before our family moved to Cluj.

He’s currently running a Christian camp, but has been led by the Spirit to secure some property in the center of the bar district in our city.

I wanted to help share his story and make a video for him. The SAME DAY I finished shooting the video, one of our church partners in the US contacted us and inquired about sending a construction team, and asked me to send them any project info… well as a matter of fact! It was an encouragement to me that these creative efforts will work to connect the kingdom.

More open spaces to be the church within the culture, in the world Jesus loves!

Check out my new podcast! Listen in each week with interesting guests, conversations from a variety of cultural and faith perspectives.

This past week I’ve interviewed Olena a Ukrainian trauma psychologist who is working with refugees in Romania, and our dear friend Lena who is managing Lighthouse and just arrived to visit us (her first time out of Ukraine since beginning of war).

Next week I’m interviewing some friends inside Russia.

Podcast Website – Click Here
Spotify: click here
iTunes: click here
Amazon: click here 
YouTube: click here
Facebook Podcast Page: click here

Here’s a sneak peak for friends on the Podcast which has video with Onisim:

Video takes a lot more work, and reveals I have terrible posture. Noted. Hope you enjoy and subscribe to the YouTube channel to get alerts on new uploads.
Clark (photo) and Noah just returned from their 2 weeks with YWAM. They traveled in different directions, Noah went down to the Black Sea toward Bucharest, and Clark remained in Central Romania and worked with the Roma (Gypsies).
Our kids, especially Clarke, is really enjoy Cluj. After a lifetime in a small Ukrainian village, he is really spreading his wings. He is not too happy that we’re going back to the US for Christmas again. He is aching for more stability, and we’re realizing all of the kids deep down want to be ‘home’ – don’t we all?
Romania is absolutely stunning in the summer. Rolling hills, mountains, and open fields.
We were waiting for the girls to finish gymnastics. It’s a strange picture, I admit, but we had recently watched a marvel movie and I think of my wife as a super hero – so I told her to grab the circles.
What is looks like when we have our monthly Zoom prayer and update with friends. Join us! They are extremely encouraging to the Ukrainians right now, who need more than supplied weapons and humanitarian aid – they need to solidarity and smiles from the body of Christ.

Lessons from a bee

I’ve been struggling with anger, as well as some depression. Two emotions quite foreign, for the most part, to my journey so far. July was a trying month. I found myself lacking any sense of meaningful vision, purpose, direction. This feeling of being overwhelmed and disappointed with myself led me to a kind of debilitating apathy, a letting go of the steering wheel.. and not the Jesus take the wheel surrender, but rather I’m finished, I quit, kind of apathy.

It was honestly a little scary.

13.6 million displaced, struggling, befuddled, broken human beings from this evil war. A war that has rocked the reality and faith of friends, including charity/missional folks like myself. God sent a tiny group of international families to labor among Slavic people in Ukraine over the past few decades, and this is what we get? Those we have invested in, many have scattered to the four winds. Now charities, churches, missionaries, they are all running around, someseemingly in circles, some focused on kids, others the elderly, food distribution, construction, others still focused on evacuation in the East.

Hero work. This kind of work comes from adrenaline, which eventually runs out. We can keep bobbing from one thing to the other, but eventually, we need deeper sustenance that sustains. I was finished. I am finished.

Anyway, I was sitting in a chair, outside, overlooking the very nice green yard of grass we have here at our rental house in Romania. It’s probably why i chose this place. It’s a square yard, with a fence, peaceful, controlled, a little order in the chaos. So I was just sitting, discouraged, tired. I saw the green, a few dandelions, and that’s about it.

“Be present, and look.”

These were the words in my mind, to my soul. I was in no mood for the Spirit to speak to me. I’m never quite sure if it’s the Lord, and I wasn’t in the mood for guessing. After a few minutes, I noticed a little bee. It was working away, combing over this little weed, doing its bee thing.

“Ok, Lord. See? That’s what I want. I want a purpose, a focus. But instead, you give us this chaos, this overwhelming ocean of needs I can’t begin to penetrate.”

A few more minutes passed. I notice another bee, then another. My eyes, as if awakening from a dream, began to see what was always there, smack in front of me the whole time. The lawn was alive, hundreds of bees, spread across the seemingly static green grass.

My eyes got a little moist. No words, just a sense of His presence, all around, always there, inconspicuous the way our Savior is. There were, there are, hundreds, thousands of fellow folks buzzing about in their zone, in their measured, finite spaces. It was a sense of great encouragement, and a little chastisement from God – the kind that re-orients and settles the soul.

I left that chair, and that moment, with a new sense of rest. I can’t fix this world, I’m not supposed to. War, or no war, we don’t really have ‘a world’ to save, we each have a little flower. We all have one, and if we’re listening, and moving with the Spirit, we’ll pollinate life into this broken world, and join the Spirit’s enlivening activity. Little is big in the kingdom, less is more, and the big work belongs to big shoulders – not mine.

During our Zoom call, this became an affirmation from our supporters, and a deep encouragement to dig into the meaningful, not the massive.

So thank you, little bee. Thank you for showing me how foolish I look when I try to put a cape on.  Oh, and Jesus, thank you for wrapping yourself in humility, not an avenger’s cape. Your way is not hero work, but cross bearing, an invitation to surrender, not to strive.

After all, we too are flowers, and not just bees. We need as much as we give. Finite, mortal, limited, and designed to lean into the capable arms of our Creator when times get tough.

Blessings from all of us in Romania, and Ukraine!

New Podcast

You can visit this page for all the links to Spotify, Amazon, Google, iTunes etc.
https://perspectives-podcast.podbean.com/
This summer when we went to Bronwyn’s wedding, I ordered some Podcasting gear. It’s been fun to practice with the kids, they are all hosting pro’s now.

The war in Ukraine has altered the history of so many. 13.6 million according to the UN. While we are not suffering by any stretch of the imagination, change is hard and adapting to new surroundings in Romania is an ongoing challenge. Yet, within the altered rhythms, there are new ideas, new questions, and opportunities for growth.

I’ve blogged our families journey on this little site for 15 years now. I’ve been blogging for long, I don’t think this term is even relevant anymore. I remember when a personal blog, especially for missionaries, was cutting edge! It replaced the pricey, outdated printed newsletter. Fancy, fast, yet over time my little blog has became swallowed up in the glut of the information highway now filled with motion, sounds, talking heads.

I’m still very thankful for friends that still click over and check out recent news, prayer requests, though over the past year this has become more convenient to do over on Facebook. Sigh. For someone that enjoys context and story, texting updates on these tiny phones is a little depressing. Tidbits of info, flying past your face, will something be caught, read, and for what?

I heard one futurist warn, “The things that have been invented in the last 20 years will not be here in another 20 years.” Maybe the typed word, or printed newsletter is still the way to go. But, for this next season, I shall explore the verbal. Though the podcast is no longer new, and I’m probably way too late for that dance, I am going to try it. It will get me, hopefully, of this dreaded laptop screen more, a fast becoming life goal.

After getting everything setup, I can see others jumping in and starting their own as well! Like our friends here in Romania. I need to be mindful of my tendency to scale, produce.. for it’s own sake. Pray for me!

Like many of you 40-50 somethings, I’ve spent the better part of the past 20 years using technology as a means to an end. Spreadsheets, project management, putting out fires, sending invoices. By the time the iPhone was launched in 2008, I had already been living behind screens for the better part of 10 years.

When I started Cypress Interactive, back in 2003, I was excited to create, to be involved in bringing artistic things to life. We would be a tech company that stayed true to humanity, and nature, thus the Cypress trees. We deployed 100’s of projects over a decade, and we learned so much. Yet, I personally did very little of the creating, and more of the administration, making sure pieces moved, people got their deliverables, and we got paid. It was a blessed season of growth, formation, learning. I think I sort of lost my way, pragmatically producing results, rather than the joy of human creativity. America sort of does that to you, lures you in, entices you with production markers, rewards and you find yourself just running faster without thinking about deeper meaning in life.

I, unfortunately took that posture to Ukraine. This focus on doing, on results, is hard to discern until you find yourself slowly being formed within another culture. Instead of adapting to the contours of Ukrainian culture, I found myself bent on shaping a Christianity and worldview that that fit my own native lens. I didn’t mean to do this, I was just reading my Bible and seeing the Gospel through my natural habitat of production. Events, buildings, scale, decisions.

Sure, we can serve a widow in one village, but why not expand to regions, and more countries? We can host one evening of prayer and worship, but why not brand it and take it on the road, create movement and have something to show for our efforts? Without giving it much thought, I was applying western pragmatic, and consumer-driven mental models to Christian mission. While I wasn’t focused on quick ‘salvation prayers’ (I wasn’t that misled), I was however overly focused on starting things, then like moth to flame, seeing them expand.

But there’s a catch. When things expand, they carry with them a weight of logistical responsibility. The same spreadsheets, the same invoices, staff needs and time investments all follow you. Maybe that’s what I wanted, to feel comfortable in my own western skin in an uncomfortable foreign culture? In any case, I transitioned eventually from managing US businesses poorly from afar, to managing Lighthouse Cafe, and then re-starting a defunct NGO. By 2020, I was neatly wrapped inside a suffocating cocoon of my own making. 14 hour days on my laptop, surprising new health issues, increased stress, charity boards, meetings, expanding budgets, more staff, and simmering anger.

The vision God puts on our lives seems to be purposefully ellusive. There’s enough there to set some trajectories, but not enough to apply all the details. It’s enough to motivate, but not enough to keep us out of making a mess of things. The past year, before the war, I felt an unsettled feeling, like I was being shaped for something entirely different that was my reality was providing me at the time. That feeling followed me through Christmas, as we watched the war in Ukraine become a reality. I didn’t want to do my life anymore, not the one I had unwittingly created. It was a young man’s life, filled with management and laptops.

War. Jolted out of our comfort zone. No time to think about life directions and career paths. While the first months were spent in ‘hero mode’, connecting resources to endangered folks, and caring, along with thousands of others for desperate needs, the adrenaline soon waned. The past month has been like waking up from a dream, coming out of a fog. Where have I been? Why am I doing this, that? Who am I? What, in my life, do I actually do that I choose to? Want to? Would do if given permission?

To be honest, it’s taken me a few grueling months here in Romania wrestling through these questions. I still don’t have any long term answers. I don’t know where we will be living in 2023 and beyond. Forget about geography, I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I do, however, feel the sense of the Spirit encouraging me to take risks. Not the kind of risk that the younger Bruce would take, tickets in hand, passports and some impulse. This kind of risk is more difficult. It’s facing the inner world and recognizing God is installing a new operating system for this next phase. My old parts, my drivers, and apps, they can’t make the upgrade, they’ll need to be let go, they’ve run their course.

When we were in PA this summer for Bron’s wedding, we spent some lovely time enjoying nature. I was mediating by a small river and I felt the Spirit encourage me to try and get across the part of a river where some slippery logs lay. It was against all common sense. But I did it, and began to regret it halfway though. Deb was near, and I thought for sure I was going to fall in and make her day. I remember the child-like adrenaline having to balance myself along this log for a few meters, water rushing one both sides. It was SO worth it!

I’ve begun swimming laps 3 times per week in Romania. It’s vastly improved my breathing issues and overall health. I’ve taken up some photography lately, at least allowing myself to embrace this hobby I enjoy. It’s in this odd season of self discovery, or perhaps better coined self-care, that I’m venturing into this world of podcasting. It’s something I thought about for a few years, and for the past several months thought long and hard about. It’s been the invitation, I believe, of the Spirit to step on some slippery logs, and not worry about falling in.

I miss our living room, our home in Ukraine. There, we have held space, loved on people by being just a caring couple. We know this is the strength of our ministry to others in many respects, and why folks journey with us still. We have been learning to genuinely love people, not for any personal gain, but for the beauty of listening as a practice, for affirming the dignity of others. Allowing, even encouraging others to unpack their stories in a safe, accepting space is for me, immensely life-giving.

I am, by nature and to the surprise of some, an introvert. Introverts gain energy in solitude, they get rooted and ready for the world, but it takes time. I really don’t like crowds, and I loathe chit chat for it’s own sake. A podcast, I hope, will be a way to enjoy conversation, and deeper dialogue around meaningful topics, without having to type away on the dreaded laptop.

With the encouragement of the Spirit, and my lovely wife, I will host and upload a podcast at least once per week. I’m ready to try and bring my full self to something again, and let the Spirit form me in the process. If it turns out I’m terrible at it, so be it. Falling into a river is worth the risk.

Some of my favorite themes to explore will be:

  • Missional movement & the deconstruction of Christendom (the West)
  • Mentoring, coaching, leadership, spiritual direction
  • Marriage & family
  • Andragogy (How adults learn vs children)
  • Theology
  • Trauma
  • Culture making
  • Power structures (hierarchies, sociology, how to initiate change).
  • Personal formation and spiritual growth
  • Russian history (the real history, not Putin’s version)
  • Canadian politics
  • Toronto Maple leafs

The format will include conversations with guests. I want to have some specific Ukrainian – Russian related themes and interviews to break down some western mental models. Cultural perspectives are so fascinating and broaden our worldview.

I would like to highlight some books as well. Particularly some literature that will help middle aged folks integrate faith and practice through difficult seasons of rediscovery and second half living.

Well, that’s all for now, wanted to lay down context for this podcast, and remind myself why I need to keep going! Thanks to Bronwyn for my logo.

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