Saturday, February 28, 2009
Just when I thought the ground would be frozen forever.
Just when I thought I'd never be able to wear sandals again.
Just when the gray around me couldn't be any grayer and gloomier.
I heard it first.
A faint honking in the sky.
In the V formation that reminds me of the victory of spring almost forgotten.
The geese from Canada are passing though town today.
They are heading home,
for a season of warmth, welcome and rebirth.
One goose straggles behind the group.
Beating its wings as hard as it can to catch up.
I feel like the bird lagging behind.
Spring, hurry up.
Don't forget me.
Friday, February 27, 2009
God is moving performed and written by Jon Abel.
Take up the hope in this song, God is moving in ways we can't even imagine. I especially like the part that asks God to open our eyes... that must be my lesson currently, asking for eyes to see and ears to hear.
I'm still asking.
Creator, redeemer and comforter -
Help me to see, help me to hear.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Image from Cartoon Stock
The last week has been full of car drama and the rescheduling of plans due to the reduction of independent transport. I've learned a couple things the last few days as a result of all this juggling.
There are people around me that are more than willing to help me get to were I need to be.
Sometimes relying on others and adjusting schedules makes opportunity for new perspectives.
Relying on others -
Although it can be difficult for me to ask for help, its a blessing to know that the people in my life are not annoyed with my requests for help. Thank you to everyone for that - you've made the last couple of days much easier.
New perspective -
As to the adjustment of schedule and such, this morning I rode downtown with my husband as he took all of us to our appointed places. What a nice taxi driver he is. Instead of being dropped off directly at my office, I told him I'd get out at the high school with my daughter. My office is less than a block away, it was a lovely 42 degrees this morning, and the cross traffic to get to my work's street is a nightmare before and after school. So I walked.
I had a chance to chat with my daughter and her friends for a longer time today and I enjoyed the extra time we had. I turned to start walking to work and two students from the on campus fellowship walked up to greet me and give me a hug. I joked around with them and told them to have a good day. I took a few more steps and saw another girl that I'd lost contact with, but used to come to youth group. We chatted, she gave me a hug and I was on my way again. Next, I ran into a young man I'd not seen since he was in middle school, but he gave me a nod of greeting in response to my smile and hello. As I began to cross the street, who comes in the opposite direction but one of my regular youth guys. I said hello and asked him how he was since last night. ( We just had youth group the night before.) I told him how good it was that I'd bumped into all these students and I mentioned how cool it would be to connect them to our church community. He agreed and said goodbye and went on his way to school.
The words, "We really need to find a means of getting connected to these students." stuck in my mind like super glue as I walked across the parking lot that bridges our churches property with the high school property. I mentioned earlier this week my need and asking God for eyes to see and ears to hear; and I feel that I'm beginning to see and hear something standing in this intersection this morning.
There is opportunity and possibility for greater connection to thousands of students that walk past our doors and park in our parking lot every school day. We have a location that is already literally connected to these students everyday lives. We already are connected, but somehow this morning I began to see it in a new way.
I have some praying and thinking to do. I need to have some conversations to share with my exisiting youth. They know better than anyone else how our church can serve their peers. We just have to ask, "How can we help you? How can we care for you? How can we be Jesus here for you?" We have a gift on our hands and we need to open it.
God help us to see the gifts you place right before us, and then help us to open them your way.
One more thing. Coincidence is defined as the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection. The word is derived from the Latin co- ("in", "with", "together") and incidere ("to fall on").If my car wasn't in the shop I might have never seen this connection because I would have been driving too fast and in my own independent environment. God spoke to me this morning on the midst of community. I'm glad I was in the place to hear the message. Although I saw not plan in the trials of my car, maybe just maybe God had been speaking this message all along. Only I was moving to fast to hear it. I don't think this is a coincidence, if it is its one with a purpose.
Open my ears. Open my eyes. Teach me what I need to do with what you show me. Keep me open even when I want to be closed.
G-d, give me a vision that is more aligned with yours. I don't want to insist on seeing things my way and miss incredible mural you've been working on all along. Help me to put down my brush, pick up yours and join with you in your creation. Show me how walking a path shows me more than speeding past the lesson at 50 miles per hour.
Cartoon found at Cartoon Stock.
While driving up the steep hill to work the other day, I was looking all round as I waited for a long red light to change to green. I looked towards the sky and noticed that even from the valley I was idling in, I could see the cross at the very top of the bell tower of the church I work at. My first thought was, "Wow I wonder if there are any other buildings that surpass the height of the cross up there?"
I looked across the skyline as I puttered up the hill, and could only find one building that could possibly be taller that the bell tower. City hall is one of the tallest buildings in town, but the communications antenna tower on top of the building looked to be close to the height of the cross of the church.
In looking the two highest points in my point of view that morning, I was amazed to consider how in practice and correspondence to each other how important faith and communications positions actually are. Faith should be a venue of uplifting and encouragement, so in that regard it should be something overarching in life. Communication is paramount in the progress and development of humanity, so it too should be something elevated in our lives. What if faith and communication (in their best example), were combined in application?
Just like my example of driving through a hilly northeast town, what if in practice faith and communication were the elements that uplifted giving people something to look to for support and hope? What if no matter where you travel in life, the church was a greater catalyst of expression, conversation and growth? Instead of being out of reach like a bell tower, what if the church was as in reach as the cell phone in your pocket?
Like a mobile phone, the church has the capacity of connecting people, giving direction, and being a resource of bridging community. It's great to have a goal or organization to look up to, but if there is a disconnect between what you see and what you experience, there can be an actual breakdown in relational willingness to be part of that community.
The cross is an image of grace that I look too every day, but that is my image and my perspective. How better can the message of grace be expressed so that all who have ears can have the opportunity to hear and experience grace for themselves? Sometimes what needs to change is the words used and the lives lived that are attempting to demonstrate the mystery of grace through faith. Then again, the message can be spoken or lived, but the spirit of God ultimately shoulders the rest of the work. Spirit of God - give all of us eyes to see and ears to hear.
I'm asking of ears to hear and eyes to see, even when I'm driving up the steep hill on my way to work in the morning. These are the kind of driving lessons I need: lessons in grace, inspiration and interactive church/world mobile communication. In a time so influenced by social networking and communication, what other choice is there?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
There are certain things that send me over the brink and into a sea of fretting. Most of those things have to do with worrying over a family member or friend, but this time I'm fretting over my current means of transportation and what to do about it.
I can have it fixed, true.
But should I put more $ into it?
Should I sell it outright or trade?
Is going to a newer used car going to make sense for me financially?
If I don't make a change, will I be in the same repair boat in a few months?
I know there are much bigger issues in the world than me getting from point A to point B, but why am I put so off track by this? I wish I could blink my eyes and click my heels and have the right answer.
Where did those ruby slippers get to?
Truth be told, I think I'd hope I'd do something better with ruby slippers than solve my own car problems.
Hmmm... I wonder if they work more than once?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Twenty one years of birthdays
Twenty one years of talks
Twenty one years of mystery
Twenty one years of walks.
Time holds our memories
of days long past,
of what we're doing this very moment,
what we ponder, dream, scheme and plan.
Twenty one years of candles,
Twenty one years of cake,
Twenty one years of wonder,
Twenty one years of awake.
Life lived together,
in the challenge,
in the victory
and in the joy.
The best gift you can give back to me is just twenty-one years and more.
T.L. Eastman 09'
Happy Birthday Ian, my sweetheart, my husband and my partner in time. I love you and hope you have a great birthday!
Monday, February 23, 2009
Less than myself/more like myself:
This last weekend, I had an unusual opportunity to step out of my routine and life as I know it and attend a woman's prayer/book retreat at Camp LCLC. Originally, I had two friends that were planning to go with me, but due to scheduling conflicts, sadly, they could not make the weekend.
Last Thursday I had a decision to make: Go bravely to the retreat without them or chicken out and stay home.
Don't get me wrong, I'm social and love to meet and be with people, but having a shift in my purpose for the weekend was where I felt least myself. That is until when admitting my thoughts of bowing out to my husband, Ian, he said - "Part of effective and necessary to ministry is the ability to simply be with others." The next day, my friend Jay quoted a line from the book The Shack (Which the weekend was based on),"Child, you have no idea what I'm doing - Papa."
Their words gave me the push I needed.
Be with others. Those were the words I found I could not ignore. Being with a group of ladies is not a place I often find myself. I was wondering: Who will I meet, will they like me, and what will I have to do to make this weekend environment work?
All of my frantic over thinking was, well, ridiculously silly. Sorry about that.
To my great surprise and enjoyment, my experience this last weekend was inviting, welcoming, encouraging, intellectually fulfilling, gift confirming and spiritually uplifting. I found that I have more sisters than I had ever dreamed, twenty eight of them to be exact! What a gift to find that I felt more like myself with these sisters - I - never - knew - I had - and can't wait - to see - them - again.
This weekend taught me so many things, but some of the best lessons learned besides the joy of taking an intentional sabbath, was in finding out that I can make new friends. In this last year of great change, I did not realize that I'd been holding out in my trust of people. I understand that in my shell-shocked state, I'd become self protective, and shielding. In a way, I'd drawn a line between myself and possible others because I was honestly afraid of loosing anyone again. Deep down I'd come to the conclusion that loosing friends had become too painful, to make new ones.
I was wrong.
It was the gentle welcome when I arrived at camp on Friday night that taught me different,
it was Donna and Tammie's affirmation and acceptance of my gifts in triad group that taught me different,
it was Mary Anne's willingness to include me in helping create the alter for worship that taught me different,
it was all the women that told me of the joy, peace, energy and love I radiated that taught me different,
it was helping with art projects and telling all the ladies "Everyone is an artist!" that taught me different,
it was the group laying hands on me in sincere prayer for feet of direction in my life that taught me different,
it was sitting silently and holding my neighbors hand - listening to an hour of healing, blessing and intercessory prayer that taught me different.
it was God's presence and speaking through the lives of all twenty eight women that taught me that I don't have to hide or shield myself from the friendship of new people.
People have seasons in our lives. Some come and go quickly and others stay for the long haul. Either way, I don't want to keep friendships from coming into my life. The risk of hurt is so much less a value than the greater blessing of new life and friendship.
The less than circumstances of life need to stop consuming the greater than opportunities.
Greater than is greater than all the less thans life gives.
I want to be a catalyst of greater than for those around me too - they just may be stuck in the place of hurt like I had been. Maybe they need the greater than to move them from the less than place I was standing one short weekend ago.
We all are part of the equation, weather we realize it or not.
I'm so thankful that I came to a place of peace this weekend. How amazing it is knowing the place that I thought made me feel less myself, actually brought me to a place where I feel I can more fully be me?
By the way, in case you don't know it:
God thinks you're cool, so you ought too know you are cool too. :)
That is bread the masses need to hear.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Lent is a season where out of devotion to God so many of us give something up. Some of the most popular things to give up are: Chocolate, junk food, TV, and Internet surfing. While letting go of habits that are not particularly healthy for us can be good and teach self-discipline, what if during lent we considered adding a habit or practice that would be helpful to our spiritual health and wellness?
Last week I finished reading a book called, The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg. The Sacred Echo discusses the challenge and promise of a life devoted to prayer. Margaret tells stories from her own life honestly shares her own challenges in pray and her relationship with God. She suggests that a chronically disrupted prayer life can be symptomatic of our own misdirected perspective and attitude towards God. If we subconsciously perceive God to be angry or vengeful or disinterested, we will not be very likely to pursue a relationship with God.
Margaret says this in regard to times of silence with God,
(Pg 169, The Sacred Echo)
" In the silence, we are tempted to fill in the blanks in our life, our future, and our relationship with God. And that's dangerous. In the silence, we are tempted with doubt and fear, and, wort of all, we may resort to the godlessness that sprouts from trying to make things happen on our own."
In my own personal challenges in sustaining a consistent pray life, I found it encouraging to know I'm not the only person in the world who is sometimes distracted, discouraged, or frustrated with my own shortcomings in faithfulness to regular prayer. Sometimes, due to my own distractedness in prayer, I think I've drawn lines in the sand in my communication with God. Sometimes when I experience silence from my times of prayer, what do I do? Often, I scurry back to the business of life without considering what the purpose of the silence may be for. Maybe, I need to better learn that prayer is not something to check off my to do list, and would better be described as being with God. Maybe if I was better at being with God, I'd be less concerned about what was being "accomplished" in my own quiet times and prayer.
So when I consider Lent and the opportunity it offers for me to grow in my relationship with God, I have a few things to consider:
1. How is my perspective of God effecting my willingness to approach God in prayer?
If I can step into lent this year and look to God as a loving, approachable God, I know I will be more likely to make an effort to communicate via my devotions and prayers.
2. Can I think of the time I spend in prayer as not just something to accomplish, but as spending time with God? If I can look at this time in this way, maybe the pressure to accomplish will be removed and I can simply be with God during this season of Lent.
For Lent this year this things I'm hoping to give up: misconceptions about God and lines I've drawn between God and myself will ultimately allow for me to take up something new and life giving: time and openness for a closer relationship with God, my loving and comforting Creator, Redeemer and Comforter.
This Lent, we could choose to give up lots of different things to show our devotion to God, but what if giving up the lines and limitations we've already drawn between us and God allowed for a fuller, richer, relationship with God? Lets un-draw the lines and relearn how to simply be with and speak with God from our hearts. Its what God's been hoping for all along.
A prayer and resource that you may find helpful this Lent is one I've enjoyed for several years. Go to Sacred Space online or order the yearly devotion as a tool for prayer and spiritual growth. For more info on Margaret Feinberg and her books, go to www.margaretfeinberg.com.