Lenny Jump.

Lenny Harris. Lenny. LH. Len. Len-girl.

It’s my favorite variation of nicknames, reserved only for family.

And as most nicknames in my family, it originated out of the blue and somehow found a way of sticking. When we were little, my sister, being just shy of a year older than me, couldn’t say “Jennifer.” Instead, she would try and say, “Jenny,” but her little girl lisp made it sound like “Lenny.”

At the time there was a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Stoltzfus family’s all-time favorite team, named Lenny Harris. And my family, being anything but stingy with nicknames, somehow caused it to stick.

Fast forward a few years from the origination of Lenny, and you’d find me in the 2nd grade, at Sarasota Christian School. I have many distinct memories from this year, including the dearest teacher named Mrs. Hunt who taught us to count to ten in French, a friend who had diabetes (I remember this mostly because she got extra snacks throughout the day (to maintain her blood sugar), and I was jeeeaaaaaalous), and the Lenny Jump.

The Lenny Jump was a term coined by my parents after the fascination of SCS faculty and staff grew every day my daddy picked me up from school (or on days he would stop by midday to share lunch, or just say hello). I can’t exactly remember if we would wait in the hallway to be picked up, or what, but I remember this: the very moment my eyes saw my daddy, I would SPRINT down the hall and leap fearlessly into his arms. He would call me pretty and tell me he loved me. He would spin me around.

And there is just no way he will ever understand how much his love taught me about Yahweh God.

Through the tenderness of my daddy, I learned to trust my Heavenly Father relentlessly. I learned to sprint full-speed toward all that He is and all that He leads me to, and I learned to jump, without hesitation, knowing I would be caught every time. I learned that I was safe and secure in Daddy’s arms. I learned that I was deeply known and deeply loved.

I grew up believing every daddy was as whimsical and endearing as my own. As I have learned the naivety of this belief, I have grown in thankfulness for who my father is and who he has encouraged me to be.

So, thank you, Daddy.

Thanks for telling me I was beautiful every day I can remember. Thanks for always telling me you loved me. Thanks for coaching my tee-ball team (even though I was the only girl) and for supporting my decision to not play softball (…because it was only girls). Thanks for building us a playhouse and a fire pit in the back yard, and for making sure it was used for fire-cooked dinners and endless summer fun.

Thanks for letting me sit in your lap and “drive” down our 300-foot driveway. Thanks for making tires into rafts when the front yard flooded. Thanks for making everything a game to played. Thanks for finding joy in everything, and for making laughter a daily part of life. Thanks for being the biggest Bucs fan in the world and for raising kids to be your only rivals of that love.

Thanks for always, always, always encouraging me to follow Jesus (no matter how far or how crazy the call), and for praying for me and writing letters every time I was gone. Thanks for trusting Jesus and teaching me to do the same. Most of all, thanks for loving Mama more than anything else on earth.

You will never fully understand how deeply you have shaped my heart and life.

Happy Father’s Day, Pops. I adore you!

 






 

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be{Coming Home}

It was just over a year ago that I played Tetris with the sum of my earthly possessions. One year since I carefully packed and repacked and repacked again to ensure each item would fit tightly placed in the back of Yoda, my Toyota RAV4. One year since, through buckets of tears, I said goodbye to the town, friends, students, and families that I completely adored and followed Jesus into the unknown of Orlando, Florida.

I go back and forth between feeling like I’ve always been here and wondering why I ever came in the first place. Feelings of deep friendship battle feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Confidence in what Jesus has brought me to mixed with missing the place He had me.

It makes home a funny thought to me these days. Yes, I live in Orlando now. But I left a big ‘ole piece of my heart in Dallas. West Palm Beach is my favorite place in America. And WinShape Camps in Rome, GA will forever be holy ground to me, a place I feel utterly and entirely home. Even still, my family lives in four different cities, in three different states, way too many miles apart.

It has me thinking a lot about home & “thin places.”

It’s a Celtic idea that is rich with the pursuit of God’s presence here on earth. It’s the idea that there are places on earth (the Celts thought actual, physical places) where Heaven is nearer than others. Now, I’m not quite sure that the coordinates matter, but I’m bent on the idea that we can welcome the already pervasive presence of God and allow it to change our spaces.

I’m giddy at the idea that we could be curators of a love so divine that people sense the presence of Jesus when they’re with us… no matter where it happens to be.

The more I think about living in Orlando, and home, and missing the places I have spent days, and months, and years of my life, the more I think about the gift Yahweh has given us in creating havens for others to find rest. In the smallest sense of the word I want to be home. I don’t want to go home anymore; I want to be it. I want to be a place of refuge, consistency, and joy. I want to remind people who they really are and to Whom they really belong. I want the noble name of Jesus to show up in every conversation. Not out of obligation, but because knowing Him as changed me. It has made me better, and different, and more hopeful. It has made me kinder, more thoughtful, more loving.

I want friends and strangers alike to feel a sense of belonging and value and safety when they are with me. Be it in my living room, across the table from me with a hot cup of coffee, overseas in a Costa Rican high school, or across the globe, connected only through FaceTime.

Home doesn’t have to be an address. It’s people, full of stories and life and laughter. It’s a freedom to invite others into and a reflection of our good Father. It’s a commitment to showing up fully wherever you are. Where have you been given the opportunity to curate home? What can you do to invite and engage the Spirit of God in order to make your current location a thin place? Where can you join Yahweh in a place He is already at work?

Let’s stop coming home, and become home instead.