I haven’t posted for a few days because I’ve been enjoying having my daughter back home. She’s quite jet-lagged and experiencing a bit of what I call “culture dissonance,” but home.

She had a marvelous time in South Africa, with an amazing team of kids from Willow Creek’s Student Impact, our high school ministry. She got home Sunday afternoon.

A major theme in my spiritual life lately has been trust. Apparently it’s not enough to just talk about trust, God is providing me opportunities to actually practice trusting him. this trip was just one of those opportunities.

Last Sunday morning in church, I had a bit of trouble paying attention, knowing Mel was on her way home. But I wasn’t completely oblivious. In fact, I was reminded that our church culture is very focused on outreach and compassion. We got an annual report of our church’s compassion and justice activities, and we heard yet again that one of our goals as a community is to “unleash unprecedented amounts of compassion both locally and around the world.” We’re constantly trying to figure out not just how to support missions but how to help each person in our community to live missionally. You raise a kid in that kind of environment, and it becomes completely normal for her to want to go love on God’s children, where ever they may be.

the kids loved trying on american sunglasses!

The church culture I grew up in left the travels to Africa to missionaries, who were somehow “professionals” at it. So some Christian friends and family members thought it odd that I would let my teen travel to Africa. But these days, mission trips for teens are fairly normal. Some are well run, others are not. I believe the work our church is doing in South Africa, with a long-term focus, is not only helpful but necessary. And, I believe that God calls each of us to live missionally, in our neighborhoods and workplaces, and in the world.

Most evenings, if you came to our house, you’d find my daughter and I sitting on opposite ends of our large couch, our legs parallel. She studies, and I either a. quiz her to prep for a test, b. read a book, c. work on my laptop. Those quiet moments of what Devin Brown calls “sacramental ordinary” are sweet.

But sweet as our time together is, I know I don’t want either of us to stay on the couch. It’s a great place to regroup, recover, rest. But then we need to go and serve the world in whatever way God calls us to. I am so proud that she’s a young woman who lives her faith, who feels closest to God when serving him. She’s faithfully served in our church’s three-year-old room for a few years, she’s come with me to serve breakfast at a homeless shelter many times, she’s taught others about the worldwide water crisis. She has a heart for compassion, shaped by God and by the work of our church. My prayer is that she will love God and love her neighbor, no matter where that neighbor may live.

I’m astonished at God’s work in her life. And I’m humbled by how God is using her life to teach me things I would never otherwise have learned.