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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”–Chinese Philosopher Laozi

Se Luz is 10 years old this year.  It’s a milestone worth celebrating.  It’s also a moment worthy of reflection.  I first read the quote above after having made the ‘single step’ on this thousand mile journey.  I think the intent of the quote’s author was to inspire and empower people to take action, albeit small action (a single step), towards a dream.  For me, the quote wasn’t so much inspiring, as it was affirming.  ‘Yeah,’ I thought to myself, ‘I can relate’.

In 2005 I moved to Guatemala to chase a dream.  The move was one step, but before that was the first step–fundraising.  By sending friends and family letters laying out my vision and action plan, I was committing to the dream in a very tangible way.  I also set myself up for accountability with…

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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”–Chinese Philosopher Laozi

Se Luz is 10 years old this year.  It’s a milestone worth celebrating.  It’s also a moment worthy of reflection.  I first read the quote above after having made the ‘single step’ on this thousand mile journey.  I think the intent of the quote’s author was to inspire and empower people to take action, albeit small action (a single step), towards a dream.  For me, the quote wasn’t so much inspiring, as it was affirming.  ‘Yeah,’ I thought to myself, ‘I can relate’.

In 2005 I moved to Guatemala to chase a dream.  The move was one step, but before that was the first step–fundraising.  By sending friends and family letters laying out my vision and action plan, I was committing to the dream in a very tangible way.  I also set myself up for accountability with those people.  As money and pledges started coming in, I realized, ‘now I have to do this’.  I had sworn myself to the thousand mile journey of Se Luz.

December 2006 is the official ‘birthdate’ of Se Luz.  For one week we had 25 youth staying in a hotel in Patzun, Chimaltenango, doing daily service projects at schools and churches.  Each night we had devotional time together.  Here we are, wearing shirts that proclaim ‘I Am a Light’:1918443_174663645364_1343188_n

In the 10 years that have followed, Se Luz has been my baby.  I love this ministry with my whole heart.  My love for Se Luz (the programs, community and leadership development initiatives, internal board practices, etc.) is only compounded when I realize how profoundly I love the people involved.  Like the very people smiling at you in this photo.

I don’t know about you, but when I love something or someone, I become it’s advocate.  I will defend it and strive to protect it’s most basic inherent value.  I make personal sacrifices to ensure it reaches it’s ultimate health and potential.  This is what I understand is the Jesus way to love.

Running parallel, though not entirely separate, with my Se Luz journey is my marriage to Felix.  We had been dating for a year when I made the move to Guatemala, and decided to have a long distance relationship during the 15 months I lived there.  I hope you can read between the lines and see the level of sacrifice we made for each other and for Se Luz in that decision.  Just 4 short months after moving home, Felix and I were married.  See:image

This month, we celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary.  We are expecting our first child together in August.  It’s been a long wait for a (human) baby.  Everyone’s perspective is different on this subject, but to me it felt extra long because we waited not due to biological issues, but because of personal and relationship ones.  For a long time, I wondered if I hadn’t ultimately sacrificed the chance at having a human baby by choosing Se Luz as my baby.

I thank God that that was not the case.  We made the single step towards parenthood when we decided to try getting pregnant in September 2015, and by November 2015 our baby was conceived.  When I found out I was pregnant in December, I had a deja vu moment of ‘now I have to do this’.  I realized that I was finally on the thousand mile journey of being a mother to a human baby.

My first maternal sacrifice came shortly after that when I was presented with the problem of Zika virus carrying mosquitos being confirmed to have reached in Guatemala.  Pregnant women infected with the Zika virus run the risk of delivering babies with microcephaly, or underdeveloped brains/heads.  With our annual board trip planned, and my ticket purchased, I made the decision to bow out of the trip this year.

In the sense of making this decision to protect my human baby, it was an easy thing to do.  But from the ‘Se Luz is my baby’ perspective, it was a lot harder.  I have always had such an integral role on these trips (as the driver, schedule maker, interpreter, cultural liaison, and leader) that it was and is still hard to imagine staying home.

Processing the decision with my mom and other trusted friends, I came to the realization that stepping back and letting the show go on without myself being such a principle character would allow for others to step up and into different roles of leadership.  This is ultimately what is best for Se Luz.  Didn’t I say this already–making personal sacrifice to ensure the health and potential of the thing you love… It’s how we ought to love our babies.

So, yesterday I saw our team off at the airport.  Before leaving the house, my dad and I ran through the list of must-not-forget items.  ‘Show me your passport,’ I said.  He did.  ‘Show me your cash’.  He did.  ‘Show me your drivers license’.  He did, and replied, ‘This is like going to my first day of school’.  Haha.image1

Well, actually, yes.  In a sense, I am a doting mother sending my loved one off on his own into the world for the first time.  While the team is in Guatemala this week, I am home in MN.  I am not detached from what they are doing–I could never be–but I am also not the nucleus.  I am learning to let go, and trust in God that the plans that have been made, and the preparations put in place will result in stronger, healthier, more empowered ministry.  Praise God for the lesson!

Thanks for reading.  :)
If you have a desire to send a baby gift, I want to encourage you to make a donation to Se Luz.  We will have enough stuff for the human baby (probably too much), and this would be a meaningful way to support both of my babies!  Here’s where you can give:
MAIL:  Se Luz Ministries, Inc. 4325 Zachary Ln N, Plymouth, MN 55442

Guatemala–land of Contrast and Irony

My hope for this blog entry is that the photos resonate with you more deeply than any words I could write.  They do need a bit of explanation, though, which you can find below.  I encourage you to look at the photos and meditate on them.  Ask yourself what story they are telling you.  Then ask God what your role is in this story–bystander, consumer, justice seeker, peacemaker, partner, problem solver, listener, (fill in the blank).

Photos 1 and 2:  The first is a picture of an actual dessert served to me at Antigua Guatemala’s fanciest restaurant.  (I could only afford dessert!)  While some Guatemalans’ food budget includes extravagant dessert, the reality for most is that they need help feeding their families.  The second is a picture of Se Luz youth Juan Culajay (whose own family has economic struggles) delivering a one-month’s supply of food staples to a grateful mother.  This was one of 30+ food baskets that Se Luz youth distributed in February of this year.

Photos 3 and 4:  Before and after (in reverse order) of a retaining wall and storage room project Se Luz built to serve this public school several years ago.  Unfortunately, the (then) mayor of Santiago tore the school down and promised to rebuild a better school on the site in an attempt to win votes in this years’ election (he lost).  Only the retaining wall, photos, and our youths’ memories remain of this project.  Whether or not the mayor chose this school to tear down to spite Se Luz is up for debate…But we do know that rather than celebrate our youths’ positive contribution to society, he resented Se Luz for the LIGHT that was shone on his corruption through the various projects we did that served public buildings/infrastructure.

Photo 5:  Gang graffiti over a sign that literally says ‘Welcome’.

Photo 6:  In contrast to the gang issue, this picture shows many young men working together to raise a wall of a home they built for a family that previously were squatters.

Photo 7:  Contrast in one photograph.  Despite the humble conditions of this woman’s home, the picture shows her big heart and hospitality as she cooks a meal for her guests.

Photo 8:  The great ruins of Tikal.  Probably the most iconic of Guatemala’s many beautiful landmarks (Antigua Guatemala and Lake Atitlan are also at the top of the list).  The contrast here is more aptly described as irony–because the park is so remote (it requires flight from Guatemala City), very few Guatemalan people have the opportunity to see these ruins in person.  It’s like a Minnesotan never seeing Lake Superior.

Photos 9 and 10:  Photo 9 shows a water line hooked up to the city water supply.  Se Luz youth dug a 400 meter trench and installed water access to benefit the 20+ families who live along the road.  Photo 10 shows the pila (sink) at the end of the water line, that the youth painted “Ministry Be Light”.  Again, maybe more irony than contrast, but Jesus is called both the Light of the World and also Living Water.  Here we have a juxtaposition of water and light–both giving testimony to the goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Photo 11:  This one is metaphor.  The beginning phase of every construction project is to level the ground.  The region of Sacatepequez (Santiago) is hilly (it’s in the mountains).  Sometimes there are large rocks that need to be removed from the construction area, sometimes there are trees that need to be dug up and hauled away.  It is always the case that the land needs to be prepared.  As I was selecting photos for this blog, I was going through all of our projects and it hit me that there’s a picture just like this one for every project.  Aren’t our hearts exactly the same?  By God’s grace, God enters our heart and levels the ground before laying the foundation and building God’s house in there.  God shows us the rocks and trees that need to go.  I guess Methodists called this phenomenon prevenient grace, since it shows God working on us before the foundation is laid.  Taking the metaphor back to the families we serve–the ones who ultimately live in the houses we build–please join me in prayer that Se Luz’ effort and service to them is representative of God preparing their hearts for a new foundation, and also that our youth would be inspired to reflect on this Truth as they work the ground on each project.

What reflections have these photos provoked in you?  Would you be willing to share your thoughts in the comments?


Think back to January of 2013.  Can you remember things you did, or what your life was like just 34 months ago?  For most of us, especially us adults who work and have never-ending responsibilities that are not broken into season by school year or something similar, it is difficult to think of one vivid memory from January 2013.

That is not the case for Juan Culajay.

Juan is one member of a family of 9 orphaned siblings (to alcoholism), with an additional 3 (maybe more now) children of Juan’s older sisters.  In January 2013, there were 12 Culajay children living in one room, behind the family’s tortilleria (shop that sells hot fresh tortillas at meal times).  As if that were not shocking enough, there are two other details about the Culajay living situation that build upon the direness of their need for help.

  1.  Sure, the family was crammed into just one room, but add to that the fact that the wall shared with neighbors was two stories tall.  Elder Culajay siblings can remember a time when they had a second room upstairs.  Unfortunately, their parents’ alcoholism took priority over living space and they sold the second-story wood floorboards to fuel their vice.  Not only did this act take away a whole extra room, but created very unsafe conditions for living in the room that was left.  If you struggle to understand the problem, try to imagine a 20-foot cinderblock wall over not great footings, and with no support besides the floor and the roof.  Then add the fact that this house is in an earthquake zone.  Just a little rumbling could have made that wall come tumbling down.  I shudder at the thought of what could have been, and thank God that it never was.
  2. The Culajay family is visible.  Or, at least, they should have been.  Their home is near downtown Santiago.  There are businesses and other families on their street.  Across the street is a church.  Around the corner is City Hall.  During election cycles, political parties used the front wall of the Culajay’s home to promote themselves, without even a knock on the door to ask permission.  How could so many Santiago residents be blind to this family and their needs?  How?

Juan Culajay remembers January 2013 because that’s the month that Se Luz youth showed up at his home with building materials and lots of young volunteer workers.  He remembers January 2013 because that is when his life was transformed.

With a simple home remodel, The Culajay home became safer and larger by the addition of the second floor bedroom and porch.  Through the kind gesture of a friend to Se Luz, the family became better-equipped to provide for itself with the gift of a new tortilla stove/comal.  But the most transformational aspect of this January 2013 service project was that Juan and his brother Jose joined Se Luz as youth participants.

Before long, both Juan and Jose became Romeo’s right (and left?) hand.  Juan was also integrated into Romeo’s work crew.  Since January 2013, these two boys have had almost 100% attendance at Se Luz weekly meetings and monthly service projects.

This past summer, Juan was in an accident.  He was hit by a car while crossing the street, and broke his leg pretty badly.  It has been 5 months since the accident, and Juan is still homebound, his leg in a cast.  He’s getting restless.  He’s questioning God and why this accident happened to him.  He misses Se Luz meetings, and laments not being able to participate in the service projects.

Just last week, Juan told me how upset he was that he missed out on going with the group to Playa Grande, El Quiche.  I told him not to worry, because God willing Se Luz will continue to do service projects until there is no more need.  That could be a while.  **understatement**

This is a young man who loves being a part of Se Luz.  He is eager to get better so that he can re-engage in serving his neighbors.  He is counting down the days anticipating the return of the Board of Directors in April 2016.  He even asked me to teach him English so that he can interact with us more easily when we come.  **my heart swells**

I love Juan’s story.  I love it that I’ve had the privilege to see his transformation over an actually short period of time into a mature young man and Christian.  I love it that it’s not only me who is excited to see this change, but Romeo, the rest of the youth, all of you… and most importantly, God.

Guys, the work we’re doing with your help in Guatemala is really. good. work.  I hope you get that.  We are actually changing lives–and not just anonymous lives.. The people who’s lives Se Luz is changing have names and stories and bright futures.  We all are so grateful that you’ve chosen to partner with us to make these stories possible.  May God bless us all.

Going Deeper with Comfort Zones

Today, September 3rd, 2015, marks the 10-year anniversary of my move to Guatemala to start what we know now as Se Luz Ministries, Inc..  It was at once the best decision I’ve ever made, and the most difficult day of my life.  I admit, I cried myself to sleep my first night in Guatemala.  It was lonely.  I had boldly stepped out of my comfortable and predictable life, and firmly planted myself in the unknown.  It was scary.  I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d made a mistake.  Yet I knew that my decision was founded on a clear conviction of calling and faith in a great God.  Despite my loneliness and fears, God’s grace empowered me to understand that that date, September 3rd, 2005, marked the beginning of a great adventure.

My first blog on Comfort Zones didn’t satisfy my appetite for discussing this topic with you.  I keep thinking about Jesus’ interaction with regular folks in the gospels, and how he was constantly calling people out of their comfort zones.  Even way before Jesus, God was in the business of making people uncomfortable in order to be great.  God called Abraham to leave his family and go where God led him, God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt (which, if you re-read the story of the Exodus, you’ll see just how uncomfortable this made Moses), God had the prophets doing all sorts of crazy things (would you marry a prostitute, like Hosea?  willingly enter the lion’s den or burning furnace, like Daniel?  go naked and barefoot for 3 years, like Isaiah?). Coming back to my point about Jesus, let’s look at a couple of gospel examples of how this call played out:

  • Jesus call the first disciples (Luke 5).  A couple of fisherman are not catching anything.  Probably, their fathers and grandfathers were fisherman.  Boat life and fishing were their comforts.  Jesus called them out of the boat, away from their nets to follow him.  They did it, and they inspire us to do the same.
  • A rich young ruler asked Jesus how he could earn eternal life (Mark 10).  Jesus, testing him, told him to sell all of his possessions, give to the poor, then follow him.  The young ruler couldn’t bring himself to leave his comfort zone of wealth, and walked away a sad man.  Jesus used that interaction as an example of the negative power our comfort zones have over us.
  • Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman at the well (John 4).  The simple act of talking with her drew her out of her comfort zone.  Through their conversation, she developed a kernel of faith, and because of her testimony, many believed.
  • Jesus called Zaccaeus down, out of the tree, and invited himself over to lunch at Zaccaeus’ house (Luke 19).  The result was an exaggeratedly generous episode of justice for those whom Zaccaeus had cheated as a tax-collector.
  • Jesus taught an expert in the law and the disciples that to be a neighbor to someone means to go out of your way to help them, sacrificing the time and expense necessary to meet a need (Luke 10).
  • Jesus taught that taking care of the least is equal to caring for Jesus himself (Matthew 25), and conversely, not doing so is equal to rejecting Jesus.
  • Who can forget the teaching of Jesus that we must take up our cross daily and follow him (Matthew 16).

Upon further reflection, isn’t the very act of ‘taking up our cross’–of dying to ourselves–just another way to describe leaving a comfort zone?  So then in order to identify your metaphorical cross, you’d need to know where the boundaries lie that form your comfort zone.  Most of us experience a comfort zone that is geographical and/or material.  Clearly, not everyone is going to pack their suitcases and move to Guatemala to test the theory.  ;)  Leaving the zone of material comfort could be as simple as venturing into a new neighborhood to volunteer, or giving a warm greeting to the signer at the busy intersection.  Just as universal as the physical comforts of having things and security, are the emotional comforts of belonging and having value.  Have you considered what it would mean to leave that comfort zone?  A couple of times in the last week, I’ve read statements in social media along the lines of, ‘this opinion may be unpopular, but (states opinion)’.  These people, by declaring an “unpopular” opinion, are exploring outside their emotional comfort zone.  You might call this being vulnerable.  Try thinking of an issue that is important to you.  How likely are you to speak out about that issue, to educate others, or to put your beliefs into action?  If you hesitate, it’s probably because you struggle with leaving your comfort zone.  Today, I want to encourage you to try it.  Speak up.  Take action.  Your voice is unique and the world needs to hear it–no matter what is the topic.  Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself outside of your comfort zone…

And that’s good, because by the looks of it, that’s where all the great stuff happens.

The Comfort Zone

If you know me in person (most of you do), then you’ve likely heard me talk about comfort zones.  It is one of my favorite topics to discuss.  I find the concept fascinating, as an observer of people.  What makes up a comfort zone, and why does mine look different than yours?  Is it about biological dispositions–personality, strengths/weaknesses, introvert/extrovert, skin color?  Or about lived experiences–education, social connections, socio-economic class, language, culture?  I don’t have the answer (I wonder if anyone really does), but wanted to share with you my thought process.  When I am out on a run for an hour+, listening to music by sociologically conscious artists like Ricardo Arjona, Ben Harper, and (of course) 311, these are the things I am inspired to think about.

Sidenote–in a previous blog I outed myself as a Connector (StrengthsFinder).  I’ll now reveal another of my top 5 strengths–Ideation.  It’s basically a strength at thinking up ideas.  Or in my case, chasing ideas down long, winding rabbit holes.

I have to laugh about the first thought I had for introducing this idea of comfort zones as it connects to my experience training for the Half Marathon.  I was going to write about not wanting to run in the rain, trying it, and then realizing that I liked it.  The rain is outside my running comfort zone.  I stepped outside the comfort zone and took on the rain.  Once in the zone of my discomfort, I found out it’s not so bad.  I was going to define comfort as ‘known’ and discomfort as ‘unknown’, and then encourage you, reader, not to be held back by fear of the unknown.  And there you go, a nice message packaged perfectly with a neat bow. Here’s the problem:  I had this version of the blog written in my mind before I ever ran in the rain!  It was 100% contrived, inauthentic, imagined, dare I say–comfortable.

You want to know what’s uncomfortable?  Running.  Heat.  Humidity.  Repeat.  That’s the experience of training for a Half Marathon in Minnesota in summer months.  It was uncomfortable in the beginning, and it is still uncomfortable today.  Facing down a comfort zone is not like my fantasy story above–try something one time and your comfort zone automatically absorbs it.  BUT, the fact that running makes me uncomfortable does not mean it’s not worth doing.  We need to be careful about dismissing ideas or experiences, simply because they don’t fit within our comfort zones.  Stepping outside of the comfort zone is how we grow, and yes the comfort zone will grow, too, with time.

My personal calling to serve God by serving youth in Guatemala came to me while I was outside of my comfort zone.  Believe it or not, Guatemala, the country and people God gave me such a deep love for, was once unknown to me.  My freshman year at Augsburg College, I took a step of faith by joining a mission trip to Guatemala with Pilgrim United Methodist church.  I remember feeling fear on several levels–Who were these people I would travel with?  What would accommodations be like (running water?, indoor plumbing? I had no idea)?  What about the language barrier?  My great-grandmother was near death at the time, what if she passed away while I was gone?  My fears were tied up with my zones of physical comfort, social comfort, and family comfort.  I chose to go to Guatemala despite my fears, and God changed my life.

For some of you, that last sentence may be uninspiring.  Maybe you don’t want your life changed by God.  I get it.  You’re stuck in comfort zone thinking.  I’ll pray for you.😉

In all seriousness, Comfort Zone breaching does not happen (at least not intentionally) without some measure of faith.  By definition of it being the ‘unknown’ we cannot know what the future holds for us there.  But with faith, we can trust that God is the author of our future whether we find ourselves inside or outside of the comfort zone.  I am convinced that it’s a universal truth that more good is accomplished by those who acknowledge their comfort zone, and then choose to explore what’s outside of it.  With Comfort, it’s too easy to become complacent or apathetic (yikes!).  In contrast, Discomfort keeps us on our toes, and most importantly, it keeps us dependent on God to guide us.

Se Luz recently served the family of Edwardo Quel.  I share their story, not to exploit them, but to show you the power of stepping beyond that barrier between comfort/discomfort.  For over 60 years, this family has dwelt in a shack made of rusted sheet metal, corn stalks, and tarp.  Edwardo and his 4 sons (a daughter lives with her aunt) have eked out a living with day labor in the fields and selling cooking wood.  This family is a textbook case of generational poverty.

When we visited the Quel property (the men were out looking for work), our board raised an important question about how building a 2-room block house for this family will alleviate their day to day stresses related to lack of income and food supply.  The answer was subtle, but so important.  We pulled them outside their comfort zone, first by showing up to build them a home, and second by involving them in the building project (and we hope, future Se Luz projects as well).  For Edwardo Quel, accepting help from the community was uncomfortable, as well as spending a day or two NOT searching for the means to eat for that day (Se Luz made sure the Quel family and our youth had food to eat).  The benefits to Edwardo and his sons as a result of this project are the obvious–a new home, and the not-so-obvious–stronger community ties, a sense of belonging in place of abandonment, a new vision for the future.

I realize that for some people, donating money to non-profit work is outside their comfort zone.  If that describes you, I challenge you to try it!  Become part of the Se Luz support community!  I believe God will bless you for it, especially if it is the Spirit who is nudging you to give.  As always, we are so very grateful for all the ways you lend us your support–prayers, words of encouragement, sharing our story, and yes, your money.  Here’s how you can give:

Mailing address: Se Luz Ministries, Inc, 4325 Zachary Ln N, Plymouth, MN 55442
For online giving, simply click HERE

For further inspiration on moving beyond your comfort zone, here’s a great list of related scriptures!


Good News!  I’m still running!  ;)  Physiologists say that muscle memory is an actual thing..  I’m wondering when my abs will remember I used to be a gymnast!  (I’ve had that joke planned for at least the last week.. lol)

Last year, when I checked in with you on these running reflections, I was able to tell you how many miles I had logged, how many runs, and at what pace.  This year, unfortunately, I am not as sophisticated on the technology front.  It’s pretty ironic, actually, because I ‘upgraded’ my phone from an iPhone 4s to and iPhone 5 since last summer.  This little big tech snafu has been the most significant contributor to what I call ‘anti’-motivation to train properly.

For the past two years, I ran with two running aps on the smartphone.  One was where I had my training schedule stored–it told me the goal distance and pace for every run.  The other ‘coached’ me throughout my runs by telling me when I finished each mile, how much time had passed, and my split pace.  Both aps had gps running with me around Minneapolis lakes, in my neighborhood, and occasionally along the Mighty Mississippi.  I really didn’t know how good I had it, until…

Enter iPhone 5.  Ugh!  Something with the locating feature of the gps on this new used phone is off.  And by ‘off’ I mean it’s totally wacky!  My phone coach thinks I am running 1-minute miles–over water!  In an emotional moment, I broke up with my running aps.  So frustrating!

I am an amateur runner (duh).  I don’t have a feel for how fast I’m running by simply being in tune with my body.  I need Siri to break through the music every once in a while to tell me when I’ve reached another goal.  It’s not just information; it’s motivation.  It’s encouragement.  Siri says, “You have completed 3 miles.  Time: 37 minutes.  Split pace: 12 minutes per mile”, and I hear, “Kali, YOU ROCK.  Don’t give up.  You only have 10 miles to go.  You’re strong.  You got this.  Let’s see if you can beat your goal pace on the next mile.  etc.”

I can definitely have that internal dialogue without Siri, but there’s an extra boost in knowing I’ve ticked off another mile.  Each mile is a benchmark.  It helps to know how far I’ve gone, and what I have left in front of me.  Knowing this, I can adjust my pace accordingly–either go harder or let off to conserve energy depending on the current pace.

This process is analogous to executing a strategic plan.  Start with a goal and an ideal timeframe.  From there, work backward and insert mini-goals to hit on the way.  Each mini-goal provides an opportunity to stop and do an auto-check to make sure everything is lining up with the longer-term vision.  If anything needs to be adjusted, it’s better to discover that early on in the process.  That’s why mini-goals, or benchmarks, are so critical.  All at once, they give a reason to celebrate and look critically at the plan.

This year, Se Luz is introducing a new benchmark.  It’s a tool that will help us track youth discipleship over time.  For the longest time, we struggled to find an appropriate way to measure or capture data that tells how our Se Luz youth are maturing spiritually.  The tool is called ‘RESPALDO’.  It is an assessment that each youth takes (and a leader quality checks) a couple of times a year, so that over time we can see how they progress in each of the areas mapped out in the acronym.  Respaldo is a term that literally means to give backing to, as in when you sit in a chair with a stiff back to it.  In the same vein, respaldo means support.  We think that growing in the following areas (loosely translated from the acronym) is indicative of spiritual growth because these things support discipleship.  [Note–the acronym works in Spanish, but the letters don’t align because of the translation.  Youth rate themselves on a scale from 0-10 for each letter]

R-I’ve given my life to Jesus (John 3:16-21)

E-I focus my thoughts on my new hope (Col 3:1-4)

S-I serve my church with my talent and time (Deut 16:17)

P-I participate in a spiritual community (Hebrews 10:25)

A-I love my neighbor with acts of service (Isaiah 58:6-8)

L-I read my Bible frequently (Joshua 1:8)

D-I develop other disciples (Eph 4:11-13)

O-I pray regularly (1 Thess 5:16-18)

The RESPALDO tool is a benchmark for Se Luz leadership to track discipleship of our youth, and it will also be a benchmark to the youth; an opportunity to pause, reflect on their growth and make necessary adjustments.  I challenge each of you to use this tool to track your own discipleship.  How are you doing with these markers?  Would you add any?

Epilogue to the running drama–I reset and upgraded the OS on my phone, then downloaded a new running ap.  It appears to function properly!  Hooray!  The training continues….

I’m running the Half Marathon on August 29th as a fundraiser for Se Luz.  You can read more about the project my run will support HERE.  If you’d like to contribute, you can do so here.

Reflections on being LIGHT in darkness