Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Foolish Calling

My name is Lisa and I make tea. This is my primary calling in life. I’m not kidding.

OK, the actual tea making is NOT the primary calling. The tea making is a symptom, an out-working of my calling.

Let’s start that again.

My name is Lisa and I am a nurturer… And I know that my job description includes gallons of hot, black tea. (Milk and sugar are optional.)

But just hold on a minute, right here. I’m 45 years old. I have a degree in literature and more than 20 years of experience in cross-cultural leadership training. I am an excellent communicator and a darn good teacher. I am full partner in a 25-year (and counting) highly successful and ridiculously happy marriage. I have some sweet, crazy children who are turning the world upside down in beautifully rebellious ways. I am on the leadership team of the global prayer movement, 24-7 Prayer. I seldom write for publication (because I have too much laundry to do) but when I do, shoot, it gets published! I speak a difficult tribal language called Maa and I am the proud graduate of 10 years in the wilderness among the Maasai people. I carry a driver’s license from 4 different countries. That’s not particularly relevant but doesn’t it sound cool?

Geez! I hope you’re impressed with me!

(By the way, I’m feeling really stupid for listing out this selection of “credentials” but they do have a point so hang with me.)

Who cares about all that? None of those things really matter. In all of this, what I am called to above anything else is to offer love and nurture to those around me.

I hug. I touch. I put the kettle on. I listen. I probe. I pray in the night.

20 years ago I experienced miraculous healing of a malady that was really ticking me off. I had a brand new baby boy and I had chronic breast infections as I struggled to give him the only food I felt good about giving him. I was, as I have said before, a militant breast-feeding Mama. As part of a class at Fuller, my husband and I were “observing” a healing service and the woman speaker was receiving words of knowledge from God about ailments that people needed healing of. I just wanted to know if it was really God. I wasn’t really a doubter. Call me inquisitive.

I said to the Great Healer, “If this is you, please just tell the lady.”

So Speaker Lady walked back over to her microphone and said in a cool, clear voice, “There is a young woman here with a sore, left breast.” I was healed as she prayed for me.

Ten or twelve years later, I had a vivid dream that I was feeding a baby from my left breast. The sum total of the dream was me, nursing a baby. All the following day I pondered why the dream wouldn’t leave my mind. So I turned to the Great Dreamer and I asked, “Were you trying to tell me something?”

Clearly, I heard him say, “You will minister from the places where I have touched you.”

I have done and seen and experienced a lot. I've logged many miles and held cool positions. But honestly, real ministry comes out of a simple place called "Where He Has Touched Me."

Some how, in my global wanderings, this seems to manifest itself best over a cup of freshly brewed tea.

I seldom have a podium or pulpit, a stage, an audience, a publisher or an impressive paycheck. (Come to think of it, I've NEVER had one of those!) I do have a kettle, a teapot, a collection of cups, a tray and a porch to sit on. This foolish little collection, like Lucy's diamond vile of elixir, are the gift-tools I've been given from which to pour forth His grace.

This post is part of a global synchroblog on the topic of “God’s Choice in Using the Foolish and Our Understanding of Calling.” Read what other bloggers are saying about this topic...
Quiet Now, God's Calling by Jenelle D'Alessandro
The Power of Paradox by Julie Clawson
That Darn Ego by Jonathan Brink
Won't Get Fooled Again by Alan Knox
Foolish Heart by Erin Word
A Fool's Choice by Cindy Harvey
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right... by Mike Bursell
Ship of Fools by David Fisher
Hut Burning for God by Father Gregory
God Used This Fool by Cobus van Wyngaard
Blessed are the foolish -- foolish are the blessed by Steve Hayes
Fool if you think its over Paul Walker
Strength on the Margins by Adam Gonnerman
What a Fool I've Been by Reba
Sonja at Ravine of Light
Phil at Square No More
And Sally at Sally's Journey


andymoore said...


That is beautiful, heartwarming and inspiring.
Thank you!

Erin said...

It's interesting to me, in the churches I'm from there is so much emphasis on determining ones "calling"...and of course, it's generally thought it should be a big and powerful calling...not just "making tea" or whatever.

But I have personally found it's those of us who write blogs and pour tea and listen who are happiest in our callings.

jenelle said...

This could be one of my most favorite posts you've ever written. I want to be like you when I grow up, Lisa.

Brian said...

Lisa you made me think of a poem by a guy called Pip Wilson, this is for you:

YOU are a valuable person
YOU are a special person
YOU are a unique person
YOU are beautiful
YOU are precious
YOU are unrepeatable
YOU are mysterious
YOU are a beautiful human person
No one will ever exist like YOU
No one will ever experience the life YOU have experienced
YOU are a collection of specialness that has never been put together before
YOUR life deserves a film premiere at a West End Cinema

Pam said...

Wow! What a beautiful, eloquent, from your heart of hearts post. It speaks deeply to where I am and what I am struggling with right now. It gives me confirmation and affirmation for what is at my core.

The struggle is over the "need" to look productive and useful vs. a quiet, one on one, over coffee (or tea) sharing with another from the deep places where God has touched me - a place that can give life and encouragement to another person. It is what I enjoy the most and feels most meaningful, but I fight a nagging voice that says "DO".

So you have greatly encouraged me from across the world. Thank you!

Trevor Borden said...

I've always thought that the best thing that we did in Portugal was drink tea. I like you mamma :)

lisa said...

Thanks so much Andy, Erin, Nelly, Brian and Pam.

And I like you too, Truby.

dom. said...

Lisa, thank you for writing from deep within your breast, so to speak. It is true that it is often the "foolish callings" that God takes delight in using. I am learning the easily concealed yet eternal significance of putting the kettle on for loved ones. I think we can receive a taste of heaven as we are sipping a cup of tea, taking time with another.

Like Jenelle, I too hope that I can "grow up" to be more like you. Thank you.

Cindy said...

Lisa...I am sitting here crying as I so relate to your words. I too am a nurturer and it is a calling. Thank you for sharing your was the words I needed to hear today.

Baba said...

Thanks for all the time you nurtured me :-)... all the smiles, all the hugs, all the wise words on the right time, all the prayers, all the cups of tea on your porch :-)...Thanks Lisa, for touching me imparting to me very precious things which are now part of who I am today...
Thanks for being a mom... a wonderful one :-)
I love you...

Adam Gonnerman said...

Lisa, very nice contribution to the Synchroblog! I am glad to have "met" you and will try to read often.

Victoria said...

i'm a brand spanking new missionary- this is really appropriate for me to be reading right now- plus i'm an avid tea drinker.

Carolyn said...

And what a wonderful grace it is! You are definitely a nurturer.....I knew that the first time I met you! I think it's the best job in the world.