Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Looking Forward

Last week's Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals really took me aback. It asked what 5 things do you want to accomplish before you die. We've been so long in the get through school, get debt paid off, get ordained path that we haven't really talked about longer term dreams. It was a depressing realization and I couldn't even make a list.

While Gifted & Talented and I still haven't had time to talk about long term dreams - maybe this weekend while manBoy is on his MS 150 ride - we have at least made plans for one fun event this summer. We will be going to see one of our favorite musicians perform in June. Dogblogger will go with us because she likes this artist too! If you were at BE 2.0 I played a snippet of one of her songs for our group's response to a question.

manBoy and The Alpha will not go with us but for a good reason. They will be away on a mission trip to the place that arranged for manBoy to be ours. Cool huh!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mix and Match

Several unrelated, but seemingly important observations:

PERSPECTIVE:
G&T called late this afternoon to tell me about something that had him really bummed out. I could hear in his voice that he was unhappy, so by the time he got around to telling me the "thing" he was upset about it wasn't nearly as bad as the "things" that had already gone through my mind. He still has a job, and his car and his body are both fine. So, feeling relieved that the "thing" wasn't as bad as those "things," I failed to offer appropriate condolences and support for the "thing" that was indeed bad in his view.

BIG ROCKS:
I may have blogged about this before, but I learned from company that combines organizational tools with being highly effective to make a Big Rocks list. This is the list of tasks that will make the biggest difference in your project or goal. It's based on an illustration I had seen years before. If you have a glass full of large rocks and sugar or salt and dump it all out, it won't all fit back in the glass if you put the small grains in first. You have to put the big stuff in first. This morning I was able to make a Big Rocks list for the first time in a couple of weeks. I got stuff done today. Inertia begone!

BE 2.0 REMINISCENCES
While some of the others who attended BE 2.0 have talked about their re-entry afterwards, I had a crash landing and all good done at the retreat center seemed to vanish with one phone call before I even went to bed the first night. So now I'm going to try and get back that lovin' feelin' by making a list of memories - idea stolen from Zorra.

*Understanding friend who helped me when I started feeling faint - really faint - on very crowded plane. I'm so glad I wasn't alone. All was well - no actual passing out. Friend very gracious.

*Ride in van to retreat center with other BE 1.0 returnees - having great laughs and perplexing driver.

*Laughing until I cried as we read the beginning saga of teh RevGalBlogPals. My sides ache still when I think about it. I haven't laughed that hard in years. I soooo needed that.

*Reconnecting with lovely ladies I met last year, missing those who couldn't return, and making new friends too.

*Helping with a puzzle geocache and noticing the names were spelled differently on the diplomas than on the placards. Tricky, tricky....

*Finding a clay pot that would go perfect in my southwest den, but deciding not to get it as I have other priorities - thanks a lot monetary contentment college!

*Learning about the Hebrew word for womb-love or mother-love that is used many times in the OT. Gave flesh to the few feminine images of God I was aware of in OT.

*Walking in the desert beauty, looking at the scenic mountains around us, and visiting with Zorra - I guess this is now a pattern. Last year we snorkeled and hung out on the beach together.

*Discovering that Abigail whom I have long admired as someone who saw trouble coming and prevented it (my forte) really was a prophet in the way she convinced David it was not in his best interest to kill her husband et al.

*Working with Rev. Dr. Kate to put together the Prayers of the People for closing worship. We learned a lot about each other doing that. We make a great team - my desire for simplicity with her strong liturgical background.

*The.campfire. - I loved this part of the weekend. I love being outdoors if it's not 110 degrees. I grew up camping. I don't spend much time outdoors anymore. G&T who also grew up camping (Eagle Scout) thinks it's too much work. So....getting to tend the fire after it was already built was great fun for me.

*Angelic voices singing Taize songs at an impromptu worship gathering under the stars.

*Closing worship.

*Lunch at airport with old and new friends. Learning a little more about each of them.

*Landing at home without a migraine - much, much better than last year.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Inertia

Main Entry:
in·er·tia
Pronunciation:
\i-ˈnər-shə, -shē-ə\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
New Latin, from Latin, lack of skill, from inert-, iners
Date:
1713
1 a: a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force b: an analogous property of other physical quantities (as electricity)
2: indisposition to motion, exertion, or change

3. See Mid-life Rookie the last few days. Laundry - check, blogging - check, pretty much anything else - not so much.

Lord, move me please. I just can't on my own. Amen.

UPDATE: Big Rocks List and Daily To Do Lists made for this week - huge progress toward motion. Big Rocks List explanation coming in next post.

Praying for the Enemy????

When I hear the same message from more than one direction I listen up. Yesterday in accountability group we talked about what it takes to be able to pray for our enemies or for those who have harmed others. I told my friends I was just not there in regards to the man who is accused of murdering my neighbor, the man against whom the evidence is overwhelming, the man who has not told the police where they can find her. My mentor pastor tried to get me to go down that road on Thursday - to acnowledge the victims in the family of the accused man, but I was having none of it. I'll just hold onto my anger and hurt, thank you very much.

Today, our pastor included the story of Jonah in his sermon. He talked about Jonah running from God's mercy - not for himself, but for the folks of Ninevah. Jonah was afraid God would offer them mercy and save them if they repented - turned from their ways. Our pastor also talked about the first step in our own spiritual healing being admitting something is wrong - ie confessing our sinfulness. Yikes!

This afternoon, I finished reading The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. In this book, the main character is asked by God to forgive someone who did something evil just as I believe the man mentioned above did something evil. The author believes that forgiving does not mean forgetting or letting go of the hurt, it means "letting go of another persons throat." Later God tells the main character, "for you to forgive this man is for you to release him to me and allow me to redeem him." Powerful stuff - not enough time to process where I stand on this particular theology, but definitely I'm hearing that I must choose something other than (or at least in addition to) anger and hurt.

The conviction or convincing I've received from all of this is: I need to be praying for this man whose soul is so broken or polluted that he could do such a thing. I'm pretty sure that I'm not supposed to be praying that God's light will shine on him so brightly that he will be crushed at the revelation of the evil he has done - that's still vengeance. So I have begun to pray to the best of my ability and to ask God to strengthen me in this.

My journey as a neighbor through this tragedy is minute compared to that of the family. Please keep all of us in your prayers. Pray that bitterness will not magnify the harm that has been done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Abigail the Woman Prophet

I have long loved the story of Abigail found in I Samuel 25. Abigail sees problems coming and acts before they happen. This is something I find myself doing - a.lot. However, I've always reminded myself that Abigail doesn't seem to lean on God much in her problem solving. This is also something I have to watch in myself.

I found a new view of Abigail as a prophet at the BE 2.0 this year. In addition to correcting her husband's poor judgement in refusing to supply David and his men, she also speaks truth to David. She tells him he must avoid having blood-guilt when he becomes king. She believes that God will make David king, and that David needs to live his life accordingly. I love that David recognizes that God has sent her to him and blesses Abigail for her "good sense."

No major aha's or words of wisdom in this. Just affirmation of my admiration of Abigail and something more positive for the top post on my blog.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Evil Lurks...

even in those neighborhoods portrayed in Norman Rockwell paintings. This is something I've known on a cognitive level for years. But when it's your neighborhood and suddenly evil is big and scary and right in front of you, you know it on a whole new level. I'll admit I'm struggling with this. My heart hurts. Someone is missing. Please pray for her family.

Update: An arrest has been made - someone she knew. Charge is murder. She has not been found. Prayers still needed. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Almost Time!

This evening I will go watch manBoy run at the last track meet of the season. He runs hurdles - it's hard for a mother to watch. This has been a good season in terms of making it all the way to the end still on his feet. If he makes the finals, I'll miss those races tomorrow night. I'll have to get the results by cell phone because...

Tomorrow I leave for BE 2.0! Today I've done most of my packing and visited the blogs of the people I haven't met yet. I'm in the office now, just about to set phone message and email replies to "Not Here" or some other nicer way of saying that.

I have stopped myself from packing work and church related reading material that I could work through while I'm gone. This is, after all, a retreat. How can I retreat from responsibilities if I stick them all in my suitcase and haul them with me? Talk about baggage. I think I'll stop by half price books on my way home and look for a novel.

UPDATE: manBoy did make the finals in one of his events and ran a personal best. So, tomorrow evening, I'll have to get the scoop via phone.

Next post will be post BE 2.0.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

There Were No Trumpets....

...on that first Easter morning. We celebrate Easter as a great joyous occasion - with flowers and singing and trumpet fanfares - because we know what the resurrection means. But on that first Easter morning, there were no trumpets.

A seminary, covenant group friend's adult son died this week. It was tragic and unexpected. I've been asking myself - how do you preach Easter to a church who is coping with tragedy? My friend's church, churches where fire and tornadoes have struck in the last 3 days, churches in Italy where the earthquake death toll rises, in places of war? How do you preach Easter in places where joy has slipped away?

Here's what I've come up with. The first Easter morning was not a time of joy. There were no belly bumps and back slaps as the disciples discovered the tomb empty. So what did Easter morning bring to Mary and the other disciples? What did they find on Sunday morning that they didn't have the night before?

The answer is hope. What the resurrection gave the disciples that they didn't have in those dark hours following Jesus' death was hope. They were still bewildered and wondering what their future held. They still didn't understand what it all meant. But...they could begin to hope again. God had not forsaken them. Christ had overcome death and returned to strengthen them before the coming of the Spirit. Hope lived. Hope lives now.

Hope is the Easter message for folks who find themselves in places of despair.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Important Cause


manBoy needs some help gathering donations for the MS Society. After he bought his road bike last year, our friend The Alpha told him about the MS150 bike ride and manBoy thought it would be a great thing to do. So in a few weeks, manBoy and The Alpha will set out to ride 150 miles in two days along with a few hundred other riders. That's a lot of miles. I have to tell you this mama is just a tad worried about safety, but I know The Alpha will keep an eye on him.

Multiple sclerosis is a progressive neurological disorder that affects people in many different ways. It could be paralysis one day, loss of vision the next or impaired memory the day after that. Living with MS means living with uncertainty.

manBoy's school places strong emphasis on giving back to the community and this is just one way he is far surpassing the required service hours. He also volunteers at our church ministry for adults with special needs.

So whether you strongly support the work of the MS Society or simply support the efforts of one young man trying to serve others, please click on over to his page and make a donation.

Many thanks from his proud mom.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Disorder

My offices - home and work - are both in a state of disorder. I.don't.like.this. Twice in the last few days I have not been able to put my hands on papers I needed. In both cases I thought I knew just where they were. I was wrong. This disorder of space and stuff leads to disorder of mind and heart for me. Today, I will begin to bring order within and in my environment. God is the God of all order - after all look at the universe! God will be with me in this.

Lord God, Creator of All, guide my steps and thoughts and words today as I work to restore order to my surroundings. Remind me that the purpose of organization is not to be organized but to be ready to do your work in this world - to have the materials I need at hand. More importantly Lord, help me restore peace in my heart, knowing you are with me whether my stuff is organized or not. Amen.

UPDATE: both sets of papers found - offices still a mess, but important details attended to today. Perhaps tomorrow.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Keeping Holy Week Holy

The Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals reminded me that Holy Week is upon us. But MLR, you say, you are clergy! Didn't you know Holy Week is coming? Yes, I did. But since I'm chairing the Hospitality Team, not pastoring my local church, my preparations and activities for Lent have been much about doing and not so much about being. Our church has been focusing on hospitality as a part of our spiritual practices during Lent, and I head the team that has put together the many elements of this focus: Devotional Guide, Hospitality Moments for each service, postcards, flyers, signs, banners, we miss you cards for those we haven't seen in a bit... The list goes on. So when I say I'm surprised that Holy Week is already here, it's because I've been busy doing or arranging for someone else to do.

At small group this morning, two of us talked about the need to keep Holy Week holy in the midst of all our doing. As I read Cheesehead's blog a few minutes ago, I realized one thing I can do is pray for energy and stamina for my clergy friends who are serving in local churches.

You see, I am at the end of three months of non-stop doing and going. I have work to do in the next few months but no urgent deadlines for a while. So, while my friends are still waiting for that time when things slow down, I'm already there. My spiritual discipline this week will be to pray for them.

Instead of putting a list of "big rocks" list (things I need to do that will make the biggest difference) in the weekly bookmark, of my planner, I'm starting a list of my pastor friends for prayers.

So, if you want to be on my prayer list this week, leave a reply. Chances are you are already on there, but remind me just in case.

Lord of All Hope, please be with all of our pastoral leaders as they guide their congregations through the elation of Palm, despair of Passion, and celebration of Easter. Provide for them a personal Easter - resurrect their spirits after this long period of Lent. Amen.