Archive | My Life RSS feed for this section

a world where there are octobers.

1 Oct

Octobers

Last night was spent like a lot of other nights here in Gainesville – gathered around a table made out of a door with friends at a house nicknamed “The House with the Yellow Door” (so named not for the table, but for its actual entryway.) We’re pretty good at finding any reason to celebrate, and last night was no exception… we were welcoming Autumn with a night of “Pumpkin Mania” – carving pumpkins while we indulged in pumpkin treats – pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin beer, even pumpkin martinis. It was pretty fabulous.

pumpkin mania

Tonight on my run I stopped for probably a solid four minutes to stand and stare at the way the light was hitting a maple tree whose leaves are already brilliantly red.

Some of you might have noticed my Facebook status today:

fb status

Yep, I LOVE the season of fall. And judging by all of the other posts out there on the interwebs, it’s safe to say many of you do as well. It’s a season that’s easy to be excited about: football, outdoor fun, special pumpkin flavored food and drinks, a break from the heat, the clothes… oh, don’t even get me started on the whimsy of scarves and boots and hats and layers.

When fall comes there’s just this magic in the air that’s hard to pinpoint or put into words. And today as I was basking in the goodness that is the first day of October I started rolling around in my mind, what exactly is it that makes fall so special? Aside from the pumpkin spice lattes and watching SEC football every Saturday, what is it that really stirs my spirit in the fall? Why is it that something in my heart comes alive as the leaves begin to turn?

I think it’s because fall reflects some of the innermost places of our hearts. Our deep longings and desires, the things that we were meant to know and want and walk in. Here’s what I mean…

Fall is a season of abundance. 

It’s not a coincidence that fall comes with laden tables and feasts. It’s the harvest season, which traditionally means that food is plentiful, and as harvest winds down, so does work… which means there’s more time to enjoy the fruits of your labor – literally. In older times, people enjoyed the abundance of available fresh food before preserving, storing and rationing it for the winter. I think that even though we now enjoy the blessings of modern agriculture, technology and transportation, there’s still something about the harvest season – the season of abundance – that resonates with us. I think that the way we gather around the table in the fall to enjoy good food and great company hints at the abundance that we were designed to long for.

feast

Everything is richer in the fall. 

Colors are deep and saturated- burgundy, burnt orange, sienna. Flavors are full of spices and things that are toasted and roasted to bring out the fullness. Textures are exaggerated and extreme – plush blankets, fuzzy flannel, scratchy burlap. We experience this season with all of our senses. Nothing is half-way, and it speaks to the richness we long for in every area of our lives.

fall collage

The splendor of fall is uncomparable. 

Nature is just spectacular. I mean, come on. Our souls leap as creation bursts forth and brags about the One who created it.

leaves

Fall reminds us of the promise of Life.

Yeah, fall can be bittersweet because we all know what’s coming after the excitement of the newly crisp air and the pumpkin lattes grow stale… The cold, dormant season where life gets sucked out of beach lovers and annual flowers. But I think that deep down we appreciate fall because it reflects the rhythm of life. We know that things have to die down so that new life can come. That’s just how it works. It’s how it has always worked. And the most beautiful part is the promise that lies ahead. That life is coming. That Resurrection will happen. And so as the air and the colors change, I think our hearts leap a little with the reminder: seasons change. Death happens. But life comes. It always comes.

throwing leaves

So yeah, me too, Anne of Green Gables. I’m also so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Happy fall, y’all.

pumpkins

Advertisements

moving for a bit

7 Oct

While I’m on the World Race I’ll only be blogging from my official WR blog. Follow me there. And when I return, I’ll be back here. Until then…

http://reneedurham.theworldrace.org

Peace.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

17 May

It’s one of the most quintessential gifts a graduate can receive: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by a wise Dr. Seuss at his best. I received my own copy at my college graduation party. What a fun book! It’s filled with inspiration, advice, encouragement, hope, wonder and wisdom. Every time I read it I marvel at where I’ve been, new beginnings, possibilities, and how we so often end up places we never anticipated.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

…Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on your way!

 

As I began my life adventure post-college I was so eager to experience the world – new people, new places and new undertakings were on my agenda. I had big dreams and big ambitions, but even given no limits, I don’t think I could have ever dreamed or predicted that I would be preparing for the journey that is ahead.  And that’s the sweetest part, isn’t it? My life has taken a direction so much bigger than my own, and for that I am so grateful.

So, here it is… the locations I’m so excited about! The places I will go (World Race edition):

Guatemala


Guatemala is a land in indigenous history and natural resources — fertile soil from volcanoes yield excellent coffee! Beside the beautiful landscape, Guatemala needs God’s touch. Gripped by poverty and bound to a spirit of religion, people hunger for the kingdom of God to invade their lives.We’ll work to change the spiritual climate wherever we find ourselves.We’ll have the opportunity to extend God’s kingdom by sharing the lifestyle and living conditions of the people, reaching out to the fringe people of society, working hard, and maybe being a part of a miracle or two.

Nicaragua

This location is always a World Race favorite. Full of wonderfully warm and caring people, participants leave impacted by the new partnerships and friendships. Hopelessness, addictions, destitution, and poverty, however, plague many in Nicaragua. There are orphans who have grown up without knowing the love of a parent and families who survive by scrounging for scraps from the city dump where they call home. In Nicaragua, we’ll have the opportunity to bring God’s love through slum ministry, door-to-door outreach, children’s outreach, and more.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a hot spot for surfing and just enjoying “pura vida” – literally, “pure life”, it’s a concept of a “chill,” relaxed, laidback way of life. The beautiful beaches that line both coasts are the perfect setting. Among the Central American countries, Costa Rica (“Rich Coast”) lives up to its name. While the natural beauty attracts lots of tourists, there are still large pockets of poverty and family brokenness. Because of its relative affluence, Costa Rica also draws in immigrants from neighboring countries, like Nicaragua, who don’t fare much better than they did before. We might help feed their physical and spiritual hunger – and discover other creative ways to give new meaning to the concept of “pura vida.”

Thailand

According to the CIA, the kingdom of Thailand, known as Siam until 1939, is the only country in the region not colonized by Europe. Approximately 600,000 people live with HIV/AIDS in Thailand. With nearly two million people estimated to be forced into prostitution, it has become one of the most popular places for sex tourism. Here we might befriend prostitutes in the city or serve youth, care for orphans, and encourage a remnant of believers in the countryside.
 

Cambodia

Cambodia houses one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat, a Hindu temple and monastery built during the Khmer empire in the 12th century. It later became a Buddhist complex a century later, and today, just over 96% of Cambodia is Buddhist. Almost 30 years ago, 1.5 million Cambodians died at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge regime. Today, Cambodia is a source, transit point, and destination of human trafficking. Unfortunately, the government is struggling to stop it. The people of Cambodia are thirsty for the hope we can bring. 

Challenge: Asia
          ???

Will we forge further inroads with a ministry from the previous months? Or will we blaze a trail for our team and future World Race teams? This will be the opportunity for us to continue flexing our faith muscles as we depend on a few words of advice from the staff and mostly God’s guidance to choose the country and ministry we will serve in. With God, all things are possible and the possibilities are endless.   

Malaysia

Enter a world entrenched in Islam. A people within the thriving metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysians still live in ignorance of the Good News of Jesus Christ. As we delve into this culture of works-based religion, strong self-discipline, and uncanny faith, we will have the unique opportunity to deliver hope and point the people to their Redeemer.

Uganda

This East African nation was once an autonomous kingdom and British protectorate. During most of the later half of the 20th century, Uganda was under military rule, first under Idi Amin, the subject of the film, The Last King of Scotland. Northern Uganda was also troubled by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which heavily recruited child soldiers. Often referred to as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is diverse in topography and wildlife. We may find ourselves in the north partnering with ministries that are bringing still-needed healing and reconciliation or in the south working with churches to evangelize and disciple the next generation of Kingdom workers.

Kenya

Who hasn’t heard of Kenya in their lifetime? The Kenyan people are colorful, musical, artistic and hungry for the love of Christ. The Maasai bush, the Nairobi metropolis, and the Kibera slums comprise a country diverse yet unified in history. As a new era dawns in Kenya, so does the gospel of truth and faith. By meeting felt needs in the bush and the city, we will help bear lasting fruit with current ministry partnerships (ministries like evangelism, orphan care, and community development), and build foundations of future partnerships.

Tanzania

Roughly a third of the population in Tanzania consider themselves Christian, another third, Muslim, and the final third adhere to indigenous religions. In addition to the religious and demographic diversity, the relatively stable nation also houses Mount Kilimanjaro. Whether we are doing open-air crusades, door-to-door evangelism, or visiting hospitals and orphanages, Tanzania is sure to capture our hearts.

Malawi

Known as “the warm heart of Africa,” Malawi is definitely a place that you visit to ignite yourself with the fire of God. This country has a beautiful landscape and an even more beautiful culture and population. This month, we’ll be helping plant churches, raising up leaders, and infecting the people with the love of God. I’m guessing we won’t want to leave.

Today, the journey ahead seems like such a long road. These places seem so far away, there are so many unknowns. And yet as I pray for each of these countries  – for the people there, the work our team will do, the hearts of believers, and those that we will serve – these countries have already begun to etch themselves into my heart. I cannot wait for these places we will go… and I also can’t wait to share them with you!

Peace & Love
-R

So I GO.

28 Apr

my race my race my race
my race, more than the color of my skin and the language I speak
More than a 5 or 10k
More than a run in the park awaiting for the sound of the gun to blast
to activate my stride, my step, my course
Destiny in the making, purpose for the taking
Awakened in a season, rather forsaken a reason for my being, the reason
for my seeing
the reason for my hearing, my speaking, my life, my choice
My longing to dispose of a comfort and a fear that’s recycled and reused
me for too long
Too many tears not poured into the right soil, the right soul
Too many years not reaping the ripe harvest, the right mind set in my ways
reevaluating my calling because I couldn’t calculate it
Reconsidering convenience because I couldn’t handle the leaving of home
The known for the unknown
The digital follow me’s that have kept me at ease, appeasing the heart
of me
Keeping the real followers at a distance for the scared of me
Status-quos, fb statuses for real life and unpredictable challenges
so grow and break the rest of me, realizing that all of Him is the only
best of me for them to see
I lost part of me in the process, part of me in the nonsense
part of me to get sense but not change, my life is worth more than
dreams that keep me dreaming and people waiting, keep me waiting
and people dreaming about a love so deep it keeps them gasping for His air
His breath to keep them breathing, His words to keep them believing
Longing for more of Him in the form of me and me longing for more of
Him in the form of them, so I go
        – Michael Perez, World Racer

The World Race released a new promo video today featuring a current racer from the September 2010 squad 2,  Michael Perez. He wrote this poem in Africa and the video was filmed in Kenya. What an incredibly powerful, inspiring and challenging message. Check it out and pass it on to anyone who could be interested in this life changing adventure!


My World Race Blog

21 Mar

Every racer has their own blog attached to The World Race website. And today I got mine!

It’s official. It’s real. I’m a World Racer!

On my World Race blog I’ll be writing about my journey on the race – from support raising to our ministry once we’re on the field. A lot of times I’ll probalby post the same thing on that blog as on this one. But sometimes there will be separate posts, or posts might be edited to fit assigments I’ve been given to write about (the case with my first blog post on that site.)

So… check them both out. 🙂

http://reneedurham.theworldrace.org/

Peace & Love 🙂

Walking the Talk

14 Mar

I’ve talked (well, and written) a big talk for a long time.

About how the world needs us.

About the love of Christ.

About how possessions aren’t important.

About how we should serve people in need.

About how we should give our time, money, and talents to others.

About how I’m going to live RADICALLY in 2011.

Yeah… my talk has been pretty big. My walk? It’s been mediocre. It hasn’t lived up to my words. And for the last year, I’ve been doing a lot of praying and reading and thinking about how to fix that. And now I’m ready to share the answer.

If you are a reader of my blog you know that in October I read the book “Radical.” Our church read it as a body as we contemplated our “reach” outside of our personal circle. The book was challenging to say the least, never more so than when David Platt challenges his readers to just consider and pray about whether or not they were called to missions. He made it clear that the answer may be “no” but that it’s not up to us to decide the answer before we have seriously inquired of the Lord. I had considered missions before and never really felt as if I was “called.” In my mind I’d reserved it for the select few that are devout and equipped far beyond myself. And besides, my “mission field” was right here – in my job, in my church, in my community, in equipping others – I wasn’t actually “called” to go to the other side of the world to serve the Lord. Right?

Even though I believed this to my core, I obliged and followed David Platt’s request. I prayed seriously and soberly. I reflected. I listened. And God answered. And the answer was one I never expected.

I’ll fast forward through the painstaking details and just get to the news. Here it is:

The World Race
11 Countries. 11 Months.

In October I will be leaving the US for nearly a year to abandon my worldly possessions and traditional lifestyle to serve “the least of these” amongst real and raw community. With a  squad of around 60 people who will work in smaller teams on individual assignments we will country hop around the world living out of a backpack and showing the love of Christ to orphans, prostitutes, the sick, communities who don’t know Jesus, and everyone in between. Our ministry will vary from place to place and include anything that could be a part of God’s kingdom work.  Our route is very tentative, and there’s a good chance it will change, but right now the tentative countries on our route are:

  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua
  • Costa Rica
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
  • 1 Asian country we will choose
  • Malaysia
  • Uganda
  • Kenya
  • Tanzania
  • Malawi

I am really excited about this next step in my adventure of life, and anxious to see how the Lord will work in the hearts of others as we serve and love on them, and no doubt how He will work in my own heart as I discover what it means to know Christ, the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, and become more like him in his death.

The road ahead as I prepare will be a great journey in itself. There is an incredibly long list of things to do, prepare, think about, and take care of. And oh yeah, I have to raise my own support to cover my training, travel and living costs while I’m on the field. What does that mean?

It means I have to raise $14,300 in an account managed by the World Race.

Yeah. That’s what I said too.  That is no doubt a large sum of money and I do not take it lightly. But I am convinced that where God calls you to He provides for. I will be posting more information about my support raising journey and how you can be a part of it through prayer, encouragement and giving. I will not only be raising funds, but also accepting donations of items & supplies I will need as I travel.

In the mean time, if you are interested in giving financially now, you can do so on-line at:
https://www.adventures.org/give/donate.asp?giveto=worldrace&desc=&tuid=6690283
Choose “Support a World Racer” and enter my full name (Renee Durham) in the line below.

I’m really excited to share this journey with you. As I know more and begin preparing I will most definitely post updates and provide you with more information. And please – if you have questions about the race, how I got here, or anything else, please contact me – I’d love to share with you personally.

To learn more about the World Race program you can check out http://theworldrace.org

I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I said that prayer 6 months ago. Heck, I still don’t. But I can’t wait to find out. Living radically – I told you it might get a little a crazy! 🙂

Peace & Love – R

One Word

24 Jan

We’re 24 days in to 2011. In the last 24 days, several people have asked me questions like:

  • Any new year’s resolutions?
  • Do you have any big plans this year?
  • What are your 2011 goals?

Also known as… Renee, what the heck are you doing with your life in 2011? Well… that’s a good question.Drumroll please…

In 2011 I have no goals.

What?

The people I’ve mentioned that to have either: a) seemed shocked, or b) given me a hard time. Are there things I want to do better and ways I want to grow? Absolutely, and through weekly accountability meetings with a lovely girl named Whitney, I’m going to work on them. But goals? Nope. Resolutions? Uh-uh. A check list of some sort? Negative. So here’s what I AM doing. Instead of setting goals, I’m choosing ONE WORD to live by in 2011. I was inspired to choose one word for the year by another blog I follow. So, why one word? Well, I don’t really have a good, clean, concise answer to that question. It just seemed more fitting for where I am personally right now that I strive to make every area of my life reflect one consistent attitude rather than looking back at my journal daily, weekly, monthly to see if I’m adhering to a checklist of goals that I created for myself. So, that’s what’s up for the year.

So I set out to choose my word. I made a long list of possible words that came to mind. Things that I’ve been striving for lately. Words that reflect what I’ve been learning in different areas of my life, or just words that seemed like good things to live by. And then, one day as I was journaling about something totally different, my word flashed into my mind out of nowhere. And as soon as I thought about it and wrote it down, all I could say to myself was, “Duh! You mornon – it’s been right in front of you this whole time!” So… what is it?

RADICAL

 

If you read my last post about books I loved in 2010, you might presume that this word was borrowed from the title of David Platt’s book. If that was your guess, you would be absolutely right. That book turned my world upside down, possibly changing the trajectory of my life. This word is something God’s been laying on my heart a lot lately – even before I actually read the book. So, what does this mean? What is “living radically” going to look like practically? Well, to be honest – I’m not exactly sure. All I really know is that it’s going to be a process of discovery, growth, and dying to myself as I strive to be RADICAL in:

  • How I foster my relationships
  • How I give
  • How I use my gifts
  • How I spend my time
  • And certainly how I seek the Lord and strive to live like Christ

That’s it. One word. A year of living RADICALLY. Yeah, I’m a little nervous about this. Hang on, friends – there’s no telling what 2011 has in store. This could get crazy. 🙂

Peace & Love – R