A beautiful mess


Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Mess.

I woke up this morning to a mess. The bathtub was filthy. Wet towels laid strewn over dirty sheets in our guest bedroom. Borrowed clothes were scattered throughout the house, evidence of our weekend guest – a friend we met three years ago in a refugee camp in Rwanda.

More than that, however, I woke up this morning a mess. A jumbled heap of unprocessed, unfiltered emotions – Adrenaline replaced by pure exhaustion; Frustration mixed with incredible joy. 

Evidently, that's what happens when friendships span cultures, continents, and languages.

You see, this weekend, my husband and I dove deep into refugee ministry. In the process,

- We marveled at the size of Chicago, as we saw it through our friend's eyes, from the top of the Willis Tower.

Emile Willis Tower

- We cheered on our team as we introduced our friend to the American pastime of baseball during a Cubs / Cardinals game.

- I suppressed my frustration every time our friend's phone rang... And he answered it, regardless of what else was going on at the time.

- We facilitated introductions and conversations. I watched as our friend used a scrapbook I compiled after our trip to Rwanda to explain life in the refugee camp where he'd lived for 15 years to our family and friends. 

- I teared up as our friend reminded our team that's about to go to Rwanda that “God loves the Congo” and that God gave us our stories to share with others, as a testimony of his goodness.

To be sure, this weekend was messy. My emotions and the state of my house both attest to that.

But make no mistake. Amidst the mess, there was also a whole lot of beauty.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

Now Available!

A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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