Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Saying goodbye to a saint

Today we had to say goodbye to my beloved mother, Sue Camphouse.  We weren’t surprised by her passing as she has struggled with her health for a couple of years now; and was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and just this week took a turn for the worst.  But it’s still hard to know we’ve said our last “goodbye” and “I love you” (at least during our earthly life).  As I’ve thought about my weekly e-spire, I’ve wondered whether or not to share about her.  It felt crazy not to mention her death and yet a bit selfish at the same time.  

Finally I decided I needed to share, not only because it’s the most pressing thing on my heart today, but also because I need to live what I believe.  I believe that we are called to community as we follow Christ, and that means more than showing up and putting our best foot forward. It also means being honest and real with one another. It means letting people through the door when the house is a wreck or we have yet to shower.  It means receiving a hug when we know it will only elicit tears (and maybe a snotty, sniffling nose).  It means confessing our fears and our doubts.  It means daring to trust even when we’ve been hurt before.  It means accepting grace when grace is offered.  It means all of that and much, much more.  

So, today, I share, with tears streaming down my face, that heaven received a wonderful woman.  I wish you could have known my mother.  But since you won’t have that chance, I will share just a little about her. She was amazing. I couldn’t dream of capturing her in a few short sentences, but I will say, she was one of the most kind-hearted, generous, thoughtful, caring people I have ever known.  She was always thinking of others. She wanted them to be happy, safe, provided for, and to know they were important and loved.  She had a heart for the marginalized. She dedicated her life to special education and serving students with physical and mental challenges; in doing so, she also taught others to be kinder, more understanding, and more caring toward those same students. 

She was outgoing and gregarious.  She never met a stranger.  She loved people—young and old, regardless of any of those things that get in the way of our relationships. She was creative, talented, and incredibly faithful.  She taught me to pray publicly and over the phone. She modeled Christian disciplines, leadership in the church, and above all else, loving like Christ.  She was incredible and played a huge part in shaping me into who I am today.  For that I am eternally grateful.  

Her service will be in my hometown in a few weeks.  In the meantime, we will be here, supporting my father from a distance and working through our own grief.  Please know we are grateful for your prayers.  And know, even when my heart hurts, I am still here to be your pastor.  I look forward to sharing the Word on Sunday mornings, to visiting with you and getting to know you, praying with and for you, and preparing for the beautiful ministry to which God has called us.  I am here for you and am grateful for that privilege.

*While this isn't the most recent photo of her, it does capture her well: joyful, smiling, playful, and full of life. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Power of Routine

They say that to establish a pattern or practice of prayer (or any other spiritual discipline) that you need to set a routine.  If you sit in the same chair, or start with the same music, or read the same scripture then the habit forms more easily.  I know those things, and have practiced them from time to time, but it hit home in a new way recently.

I told you a couple of weeks ago that I was in an accountability group for exercise and was trying to be more regular in getting out to walk.  Occasionally I run but with the same eagerness as usual (which is to say, not much).  But then I found (as we continue to unpack) my iPod and took it on my walk with me.  I wanted an easy day and intended only to walk. Only, when the music started, I almost couldn’t help myself.  My muscle memory with those songs was to run, so I did.  You see, it was the playlist from when I trained to run the half marathon. Those songs immediately reminded me of running with my friends from the Leukemia/Lymphoma society and then running at Disneyland for the Tinkerbell Run.  

Even though I wasn’t trying for it, the devices I used to set my routine years ago helped me easily slip back into those patterns.  Muscle memory formed and it becomes easier and easier to do what was initially quite challenging.  

All of that reinforced for me the importance of having a pattern or ritual around my prayer time, and my scripture reading, and worship.  It’s part of the value of using tradition and rituals in worship…they make it easier for us to fall into the mental and emotional space of praising God.  Certain songs may make it easier for us to let go of the morning chaos. Others may help us really open our hearts to God.  The familiar patterns or order of service give us muscle memory to make the act of worship a little easier.  

If you’re looking to establish a practice of prayer or Bible study, I’d encourage you to set up some re-usable habits to go with it.  Sit in the same comfortable spot. You might want your coffee or tea beside you, or a scented candle. You might choose a psalm to help set the tone. It could be any variety of things, but if want to create some spiritual muscle memory, it should be something you can repeat easily and often.  

May God bless you,

Pastor Debbie

Monday, August 1, 2016

Let the Primer Dry

Over the last couple of months, I have been learning to re-do furniture with a fresh, fun look.  

I’ve done a chair, a book shelf, a lamp, a dresser, and a desk.  I’ve been spray painting to try and get a smoother finish.  

Along the way, I’ve learned various tips and tricks for a more successful project.  One that I learned when painting the desk was to make sure the primer dries before trying to apply the final color.  

This is what happened when I didn’t wait long enough.  The original color was green. The primer was white. The final color was orange.  As you can see the primer covered the green, but when I tried to apply the orange, it mixed with the white.  it wasn’t dry yet.  

If you are into a DIY project, you can take that tip and stop reading. If you’re into life lessons, leadership, pastoring, or thinking theologically, then you might want to read on. 

The primer issue made me reflect on my new beginning at my church.  There are lots of dangers and risks in leadership and not letting the primer dry (so to speak) is one of them. Often we get things ready and then apply the first coat. But in our haste to see/have a finished product, we often rush the process.  Sometimes we skip steps and sometimes we rush through them not allowing the proper time before beginning the next.  

As I venture into new beginnings at a new church, I know there is and will be a lot of excitement. There will be things that need to be cleaned, others that need to be repaired, others that need a fresh coat, and probably a few that just need to be thrown out.  In the midst of all of it, I need to regularly remind myself to let the primer dry.  

I may want to see results quickly, but I also need to make sure I allow the appropriate and necessary time before moving onto the next step.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Fried Rice

This is one of our favorite "everything in the pot" left over recipes. 

Fried Rice
Olive oil
Sesame oil (if you have it)
1-2 eggs
½-1 cup chopped carrots
½ cup onion
½ cup celery
1 tsp fresh ginger (optional)
2-4 cloves garlic (optional)
½ cup peas (frozen or canned)
½ cup corn (fresh off the cob, frozen, or canned)
1 cup chopped chicken or chopped ham
1-2 cups already cooked white rice
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
3 green onions chopped

Use a little olive oil and a little sesame oil to scramble and cook the egg(s).  set aside. 

Using the same pan, add a little more of each oil. Add the chopped vegetables (ginger and garlic if desired, not the green onion). Cook 8 minutes on medium heat.   

Add the already cooked meat. Add the cooked/cold rice. Stir and mix thoroughly.  

 Add soy sauce, 1 tbsp at a time. Combine well (you do not need much here).   

Remove from heat.   

Add egg and onions. Serve hot. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Best practices

This year we moved to a new church and I'm trying to institute some new practices for better sanity & fruitfulness at home and in the office. I'll share them for whatever thry might be worth.

#1 keeping sabbath (this is actually a carry-over I've been doing for 12 years. My study of Scripture has taught me the Sabbath is meant to be life-giving and restorative.  So my prohibition of activity normally includes things I "have" to do (aside from the mom things like changing diapers and getting food). It's most often a family day.  We try to think "What would restore us?" "What would feel life giving?"

(The new stuff)

#2 making meals on Saturday to have ready food for lunch on Sunday.  I hate dealing with lunch on Sunday.  I'm tired. The kids are normally cranky. And even "putting something in the oven" seems to take far too long. So having cooked food ready to reheat has been great. 

#3 Late start Monday: this is a chance to find a little order and peace before jumping into the week of work.  It might be extended coffee on the porch,  or cleaning the bathrooms,  vacuuming, or laundry. A few of the chores i refuse to do on sabbath that make home a little better to come home to. 

#4 Work from home Wednesday: frankly, I don't enjoy sitting at a desk or working in an office,  but it's part of the job.  But sometime's it's nice to stay in my pj's and sit on the couch and do some sermon writing,  or read for a class, or leadership dev., or whatever.

I love what I do.  I get great joy from pastoring. I also get great joy from being a mom.  Sometimes there's a pretty decent tension between the two.  So much of this is an attempt to find a better balance for it all.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Preaching Prayer

Loving God,
 Send your Spirit to be upon me.
 Give me the words to speak 
and the message to share with your people.   
Energize me as I prepare to share the Good News.
 Open my ears that I might hear your message for me this day too, 
even as I share with others.   
For all the places that need your grace this day,
 I ask that you would infuse and infiltrate us with your love.   
In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Parenting tip

Why yes, I did shut my kid outside so I could mop. You might call it crazy.  I call it a parenting hack...a little food,  a safe place to be busy/mobile and I get 10 minutes to mop the floor. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Making sense of trials

Have you ever been through something difficult?

Of course you have,  that's part of life. 

Break ups

Life is messy and painful.  Period.

And,  often,  in the midst of a struggle,  people want to make sense of it all. Why me? Why this?  Why now?   Somehow,  it seems like it might be more tolerable if we could just understand the reasons.  So we look for explanations and answers.  We want someone to blame.  And when our earthly options fall short (and sometimes even when they don't and are instead starting us right in the face), we often blame God.

It's God's will.  
Everything happens for a reason.
God has a purpose.
God has a plan.

And while those things might be independently true (well,  I'm not sure about the first two, but I do believe the second two...God does have a purpose and God does have a plan) those things may not have any connection to the circumstances of my trials.

It can be tempting to soothe our own wounds or try and soothe someone else's by "helping" to justify what's happening with the notion "everything happens for a reason", but please use this please cautiously...since the reason may (likely) not be God (as you're suggesting) but instead it may be

The consequence of our own actions
The consequence of someone else's actions
Systemic injustice
Learned (bad) behavior
Or maybe (sorry to be so glib)...just because $h1t happens. 

Really,  all kinds of things happen without any real explanation or answer and pretending the answer is God is really not helpful.  Sometimes we just have to sit in the discomfort of the messiness if life. ..without an answers at all.

Letter to my daughter

Dear sweet first-born child of mine,

Over the years,  you will learn more and more about me.  One thing I'd like to give you a heads up about is I'm not actually a morning person. I know that will come as a shock since I've been rising with you at every ungodly hour since you were born,  but it's the truth.  Let's just say I faked it well (oh and it was a lot easier when you were smaller since you just wanted to be in our vicinity,  not have actual conversation). That said, I have a pro-tip for you: mornings will be a lot smoother (maybe even more fun. ..eventually) if you ease me into them instead of cradling into my bed and talking a million miles an hour.

Don't get me wrong I like your taking. it really,  I'll just be a lot more pleasant  (and responsive) if you give me 10-15 minutes to be quiet and gradually wake up. 

I know you won't heed this.  You probably couldn't care less. You won't,  until you're  thirty and have a talkative child yourself.  But hey, it doesn't hurt to try!

Know that I'll love you forever,  no matter what,  including if you rush me into mornings every day for the rest of my life.