Give What You Got #2

Hey Friends,

I’m on mission to become a grateful man, a generous giver, and a better steward of my God-given gifts. In this quest I have repeatedly heard God say this,” If you want to get better at these things, you must use what you already have”.

This is my attempt to step in this realm. I have the ability to use my words in a powerful way. This what I have to say.

Give What you Got #2:

1. If you are feeling depressed right now, ask yourself these questions:

a. Have I exercised today?
b. Have I done an act of service? (thanks Ryan Dahlstrom for a and b)
c. Have I done something that I am passionate about today?
2. Go find the nearest mirror. Set a timer for 1 minute. Repeat out loud, “I like you”.

3. Run into your fears, not away from them.

4. Consider this. We ALL need you to be your true self. Our world benefits the most when you are not hiding underneath insecurities and coping mechanisms.

5. You are worth fighting for!

6. You are incredibly loved.

Road Trip Letters #5

Dear Family,

You hurt me more than any other people I have ever known. Every time I press in to know you better, and love you with an intentional love, you shut me out. You kick me, gauge my eyes, rip my ears, and slit my throat. You relegate me to a lesser me. I enter in your company as a strong and confident man. But I have many a time left you a voiceless, deafened and visionless boy with crushed bones.

I am intent in loving you. I will always love you. But I will make this clear. I will not make my home with you if the conditions of our current engagement remains the same.

I do not want to live complacently in an atmosphere of dishonesty and shame-driven secrets.

I want to speak honestly and openly to you. I want us to embrace forgiveness and learn to be understanding. I want us to talk through things instead of ignoring and stuffing them.

I don’ want to shout and scream unless we are willingly, and readily, open to admit and forgive.

I do not want to live in fear. I want to be unafraid to say what’s on my heart. And I want to be humble enough hear what is on your heart too.   

I am restless in trying.

I cannot do the “he said-she said” bit. Let us speak face to face and heart to heart.

I yield my right to be independent of you. But I won’t sacrifice myself to overt abuse.

Please don’t shut me out. My intentions to clear the air are only to draw us closer. Let us mend the frayed stiches.

Here is my outstretched hand. I am extending an invitation for reconciliation.

Honesty is akin to be nakedness. Nakedness is akin to vulnerability. Vulnerability is akin to intimacy.

I am willing to bare all to receive the all- whatever that may be.

I long to be close to you- all of you. Me being truly who I am. And you being truly who you are.

I love you,

Friar   

Road Trip Letters #3

Dear Father,

I am embracing distraction. In both direct and indirect ways I have numbed myself. I am avoiding the inevitable.

I am avoiding the reality that at the end of this road trip I will be with my family. The end of this journey means the beginning of being with them. And being with my family is like everything else in life. It is both exuberantly wonderful and woefully painful.  

I rather skip out on the latter of the two experiences, but it always seems unavoidable to some degree.

Instead of numbing my heart Father, I will sit here and be still with You.

What beautiful gift do you have to give my family on this short stint? What gorgeous deposit of light would You like to offer to our bloodline?

Response: Give yourself. Give who you truly are.

My Response: So be it Lovely One.   

Give me the courage to love. Give me a pure and honest heart. Protect me and each person that I come in contact with. May blessings, instead of poison, flow from our lips and souls. May our hearts connect and may healing and life abound.

I love You fiercely. Have great pleasure with our family,  

Friar 

Road Trip Letters #2

To: My Little Brother

First I gotta say I am so incredibly proud of you. Second, I love you a whole lot! Third, enjoy every moment of this summer.

I trust that this letter is reaching you while you are on your “Solo”. I hope that you are reading this in the midst of nature and that you are enjoying the beauty therein. I hope that your companions are God, an incredible view, and a gentle crisp breeze.

I want to encourage you in this way while you are on your journey. Here are a few Words of Wisdom as you Walk through the Wilderness:

Embrace silence. Silence is more than golden. Silence will lead you to be attune with the Spirit of God like no other. Silence is where Our Father speaks most clearly. Learn to savor the sheer elegance of stillness. Know that when you stop speaking and start listening (solely for the sake of listening) you will meet God and others in the most intimate and noteworthy way.

Look for God in the most unexpected places and through the most unexpected people. God delights Himself and others by revealing Himself  with and in the seemingly improbable people and places. The adage is true in many ways, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. There are people you are meant to meet in the near future who have words of life and wisdom that you need. Don’t be fooled by appearance.

Fight for the things you love. What I mean by this, is that you should take life from a more offensive position than a passive position. Join God in being faithful and committed to people. Choose people before they choose you. Fight for them like the way God fights for you.

Be unafraid to love your God and narrow your audience. Do not be dissuaded or persuaded by the masses. Let God and God alone be your sole focus. Love Him first and then let your love for people and other things flow from that source.

Ask God the hard questions. Ask God the deep things of your heart. He is powerful and able enough to handle them. He’s been waiting to hear and respond.

Pray and Keep Praying. And while you are at it, pray about everything- this is how we connect to Our Father. God wants to journey with you in every aspect of your life. It’s what has He intended for us from the very beginning. He desires to walk closely with us, experiencing all facets of our lives.

These are the words I felt lead to share with you. Please ask the Lord to highlight what specific words you need for this time. Some may be for now. Some may be for later.

I am beyond excited for this leg of your journey. You are on the cusp of soaring over some high terrain. Do not be afraid of the heights that God will take you. You have always been designed to fly high with the Spirit of God. God will guide you through every facet of your life. Just lean on Him and trust Him.

I love you little brother. Let’s chat when you get back from this summer expedition and when I get back from my road trip (We’ll talk about that later as well).

May his peace be with you,

Friar

Road Trip Letters #1

Road Trip Letter #1

To Father:

I am heading to Denver today Padre. Although the flight is delayed, I am excited for this adventure. I am ready for a well-needed respite for this weary soul of mine. I’m tired of stressing myself out and second-guessing myself. I need some silence and stillness. And I need to step away from the stress that I have continually placed upon myself.

For some reason Father, I have heaped frustration upon frustration into the depths of my soul. I have both willingly and unwillingly accepted lies and fears into my life. I have become crippled by the presumed thoughts of others. My life has been dictated by the measuring stick of the people around me instead of what you have prescribed for me.

I have become unhealthy worried about about being successful. I feel as though I am not getting “straight A’s” according to the culture around me. According to the report card of the Western World and Western Church’s standards I am falling short in my endeavors. I hate that!

But F it!

F that!

On this trip Father I want you to re-center my heart to your truth. Realign my heart to your heart. Capture my gaze and attention. I narrow my audience to You and to the people that you have placed right in front of me.

I ask that Bobby and I will have a great time with You and with each other on this trip. Get us to New Jersey safely. Let us have incredible fun in between the final destination. Help me to get work done for Barnabas.

Speak to us in any way you want. Lead us to divine appointments. I want to become alive again to You and to the people have placed in my life.

Revive me,

Friar

Looking for Love?

Looking for Love?

There is an itch in my soul that I cannot seem to scratch.

There is a hollow within me that needs to be filled.

Spirit won’t you come and fill me with Your Wind?

 

And then He said to me:

Son, what you are seeking is Love.

 

And then I spoke back to Him:

Here am I. Here I am. I come with an insistent heart.

 

Teach me how to love.

 

Teach me how to love and be loved.

Teach me how to You and be loved by You.

Teach me how to love others and be loved others.

Teach me how to love myself and be loved myself.

 

He then said to me:

You know love.

You know how to love.

Start with the person in front of you.

 

Love the poor.

Love those who hate you.

Love those who do not love you.

Love those whose spirits are broken.

Lay down your life again and again and you will find life and love unspeakable.

Give yourself for the sake of Love, and in return you and without fail, Love will find you.

He Hears and Responds to Every Prayer

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Take a moment to meditate on these words:

There’s not a prayer I’ve prayed
That You haven’t heard
Not a tear I’ve shed
That You didn’t feel
You’re the God who comes to raise the dead
I know You’ll raise me up again
Who can praise You from the grave
to see the life you gave
Every fear in me You’ve put to rest
It’s the song sing I bring
Of Your faithfulness
And every tear has led my feet to stand
Where the ocean meets the land
Sink or swim I’m diving in
Where the river starts rushing
Where my heart starts beating
For the rhythms of the testing
And the songs of the trials
I will lift a cry up to You
Sung with hope inside my eyes
To the passion of Your heart
Where love starts
I lift my hands if my hands fail me
I’ll bend my knees if my knees grow weak
I’ll raise my voice and sing
I know that You love me
Give me a song to sing
And I will sing it to You God

– Give Me A Song to Sing, Will Reagan & United Pursuit Band

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Three Little Words

A few word can make a difference

My soul is arrested and held captive by three little words- You are loved. More specifically, Jesus loves me. I know this to be true, but why do I continually wrestle with this?

That is a question, I cannot and will not answer in this moment. However, I do know and believe this to be true. And I agree there is power in hearing, giving, receiving, and experiencing these words…

About a week ago I had a soul-haunting scene speak volumes on this dilemma of my inner man. While spending time in Lakeland, I got the pleasure to stroll around Lake Hollingsworth almost every morning and evening. It was a special time that I spent alone with God meant for prayer, silence, relaxation, detoxing, and for taking pictures of the beautiful scenery.

With these objectives in mind, I ambered my way around the lake in a contemplative fashion. Each step was an attempt to get closer to God and free from myself from stress. On one of these strolls, in the evening, while utterly stressed, and distressed, I had an encounter. I don’t know if my face showed it, but a man passing the opposite direction arrested me with the aforementioned three words.  He passed me and delivered these words in a way that has shaken me for days. He looked directly in my eyes and said in a very quiet and meek tone, “Jesus loves you”.

The words alone had power. But it was the delivery. The delivery really reached me.

I have heard those words before so many times. And I have said them countless times as well. But for some reason in that moment I was hearing them afresh.

To sweeten this moment even more was the fact that I ran into the same man again. You see the lake that I walked around is about 3 miles long. So, this afforded me another opportunity to run into this man. This is exactly what happened.

It was so funny too! I had the same reaction. I was taken aback and unprepared. The second encounter was as intense, and yet mild, as the first. Again this unknown man spoke past my exterior into the core of my being.

Sometimes I have to yield my heart to this crazy truth. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves you.

And sometimes He goes out of the way in small, still, and unexpected moments to stop us dead in tracks. He calms the storm and allows the dust to settle. Or he meets us in the fire and fury. He finds us and takes us aside and says, “I love You”. Or he speaks through his sons and daughters and tells us, “Jesus loves You”.

Maybe under further inspection I might find that Jesus is doing this sort of thing to us all the time. We may just be blind to it. And maybe, just maybe, there are other people that are sharing this sentiment of love with us constantly. We might be too shrouded with business to see it clearly.

Well if that’s the case..

I have three words to give you this morning, noon, and evening …

Jesus Loves You.

Friar Francis

Uganda Update #1: I Need Your Help

Hey Friends and Family,

Here is a little update on Uganda and my Fundraising efforts:

Trip Update

                So it is official, my tickets have been purchased, and I will be going to Uganda December 29th and returning to Northwest Arkansas on January 14th. My schedule will be packed from beginning to end. Words cannot express the excitement and anticipation that is welling up inside of me.

The updated itinerary is as follows:

  • Layover in Amsterdam on the departure leg of the trip
  • Ugandan New Year’s Celebration with thousands of people in a stadium
  • Meetings concerning chicken farms and their future locations. (Poultry Project)
  • Hands on learning experience on sustainable development
  • Two to three Speaking engagements
  • Delivering disability and athletic equipment to Ekisa Orphanage
  • Touring other orphanages and Champions Academy
  • Dance Therapy Session
  • Home visits
  • Safari
  • Eat grasshoppers, especially since they will be in season
  • Visit Oasis Uganda and Dave Caswell (Anti-traffiking organization)

Fundraising Update

I have great news, I have gotten all the funds I need for the sports and disability equipment! A big thanks to Nelson D. for his gift (I know you wanted to be anonymous but I am really grateful for your gift).  In addition to this, while playing league volleyball, I mentioned my Uganda trip to my friend Julia Roe. And now, the Yvonne Richardson Community Center has agreed to donate soccer balls, athletic uniforms, and other equipment. #Winning! These items will go to the orphanages we will visit.

So far I have raised $1000 towards the trip. Thank you so much Brett and Alyson Haynes, Dennis and Linda Peterson, my mom (Joan Clarke) and Barnabas Prep for my paycheck! I am very grateful for your support.

However, I need your help for the rest. Por favor! I have $2300 left to raise. If I can get 23 people to donate $100 each or 46 people to do $50 each I will be set for my trip. Technically, my deadline for all of my funds is due on December 17th. If you can help in any way possible I would greatly appreciate it! If you cannot help financially, then you can help in three other ways:

  1. You can pray for me and/or send some inspiration my way.
  2. You can direct me to other people who may be able help out financially.
  3. You can journey with me through social media.

I want you to be a part of the trip as much as possible. I am planning to take lots of photos, blog, journal, and bring back African art.  I have even joined Instagram recently in order to share with you in that way too.

Here are the ways you can send me gifts/donations:

Paypal. This the best and preferred way. My paypal account is linked to these emails- garyfrancis@fuller.edu or friarfrancis12@gmail.com. Click here to use this method.

Gofundme.com. You can use this link for this method. The only setback to this options is that  GofundMe takes out %7.9 cut for using their site.

Mail me or email me.  My address is as follows 3005 W Dorothy Jeanne St Apt 7 , Fayetteville, AR 72704.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Thanks you all for always being fantastic people in my life. I hope you are enjoying a sensational holiday and Christmas season thus far!

Of Celibacy and Your Love

My Prayer: I choose celibacy. I choose the celibate life. I give over my idols of sex, marriage, and relational fulfillment. I admit that I have made marriage and intimate relationships idols. I have so desperately wanted to be close to someone. Just one.

I have screamed, ached, and agonized over an improper perspective. Marriage and relationships, in the end, will not erase the loneliness that You have placed within me.

This I know. This I believe. This, however, has not caught up to my emotions and to my heart.

Oh, how You strike me with such heavy blows. But in the same vein and with the same fist You strike me with joy, love, and ecstasy unrivaled by any other. Let me live to taste and see the latter of the two aspects.

Make my eyes see and experience the illustrious fire that is so aptly named- Your Love.  Draw me into Your all-consuming fire. Though You singe me, I will all the more approach Your heat and intensity.

Though my heart is weak, faint, and failing I will pursue You. Though I know not of which way You will satisfy my soul, I trust You.

When You apportion my daily bread today- fill me with loaf for the lonely. Give me the bread that satisfies the angst within me. Assuage my dear soul. Lift up my chin.

Help me to see what you see, hear what you hear, feel what you feel, be moved by what moves you and bear the consequences of such living.

God’s Answer: Let them know. Share. I love you!

Friar Francis

Embrace Vulnerability

Oh that the dam would break within us!
Oh that the living waters would flow!
Oh that we would see clearly and rightly!
Oh that we would see ourselves like our God does!

Embrace vulnerability my soul!
Leap for joy my heart!
Live with a wholeness uncommon to the boundaries of our contemporary pasture!

Frolic through the fields and be utterly free!
Make known to the earth your song!
Sing loudly!
Sing vibrantly!

Take the risk to be fully alive!
After all it is this is the glory of our King!

Friar Francis