Monday, July 25, 2016
Monday, July 18, 2016
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
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Have you ever been through something difficult?
Of course you have, that's part of life.
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
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.
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. ...love 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.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
Over the years I've had the privilege of working with a lot of people in ministry. ..thousands of people. Some i know well after working side by side week in and week or, others I know more loosely through Bible study or a single hospital visit. Others I know by face or by name, but don't really know. And some slide in and out of the worship space, willing not to be seen or noticed.
From various encounters, meetings, and times of counseling, I've learned why people have come to church.
The reasons include:
Finding a church home
Returning to "roots"
A physical/health crisis
A relationship struggle/crisis
Looking for safe space
Re-imagining one's self/identity
Because it felt like [I] should
To teach [my] kids faith
The list goes on.
The common denominator is
One of the things that has been the biggest blessing to me in visiting churches is being able do what is most comfortable/necessary for me in any given moment. I appreciate being able to choose (or at least feeling that freedom since I always have a choice) whether or not to stand, whether or not I sing, and even entering a space or position for personal prayer.
That freedom creates an extra layer of security to simply be and hopefully to encounter God in the midst of worship.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
*Disclosure: this is literally about poop, which may not be your thing. (It's not really mine either, but it's relevant. ..even theological). So, you may want to skip this post and move on to the next.
My dear sweet child unfortunately has weak teeth (or poor hygiene, or both) and she has had more dental work in 3 years than I have had in 33 years. She has 5 crowns, maybe 6. And on Friday, one came loose and she swallowed it. I called the dentist and she was out of town, so we have to wait for Monday. Insurance won't cover the replacement, so we will owe around $400. (Yippee) Sigh.
The hygienist suggested we "watch" for it. I can't even begin to describe how giddy that makes me. So we talked and talked to Ruth about not flushing and letting me know if she had a bowel movement.
At dinner I asked if she'd pooped and she said, "Yes, and I didn't flush, just for you!" Oh goody!
So I grabbed a bucket and gloves and went upstairs. And I "looked" for this $400 treasure piece.
I warned you. .."literally about poop".
And, ironically I started thinking theologically. ..where is the God-message in this?
And I thought, "I wonder how often this happens. ..we accidentally swallow/lose something precious that God has given us, and then we wait for it to "appear" and hope God will sift through the shit to recover our treasure."
Regrettably, the crown didn't appear, so I get to look forward to this "joy" again today. And I couldn't help but think of God..."Oh boy, I get to do this again tomorrow. .." sigh.
Sometimes we have accidents, and sometimes we lose very valuable things because of it, and then we have to sift through the shit (excuse the language, but if you've ever done this chore, you get it, it's not glamorous) if we ever want it back. And God, who is a loving and faithful parent, will grab a bucket & get some gloves on, and help us recover that which is precious.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Over the last few months, while on maternity leave, I've had occasion to visit a number of churches. It's been interesting since I haven't been church (s)hopping in 12 years (and then I was single with no kids). My intent hasn't been to critique churches, but I can't help but notice certain things along the way. I offer these reflections as a note to myself for future ministry and for whatever it might be worth to those who work/volunteer in the church.
When I was in college, I began attending the campus Intervarsity group. I started going to worship mid-week and when I first showed up, I met one of the key leaders. He was very friendly, "Hi, I'm Jarrod, what's your name?" So I told him my name and that it was nice to meet him.
The next week I went back. Again, he approached me, "Hi, I'm Jarrod, what's your name?" I figured, well, it is only my second time here, it's OK. I liked the worship and the teaching and so I went back again. Week 3, the same thing, "Hi, I"m Jarrod, what's your name?" Not even a glimpse of recognition. It was a decent size group of students, but not enormous and I had met him EVERY week. So it was odd that he didn't even have a minimal memory. I get not everyone does names, but not even a "I think I should know you're name, but I'm not good at remembering."
I really was trying to be part of a faith community and did like the worship, so I went back, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 times. And do you know what happened every time?
"Hi, I'm Jarrod, what's your name?"
Every. single. week. for 10 weeks. After that I started a Bible study with IV and Jarrod still never learned my name. He grew to know my face, but never my name.
Now, I'd grown up in the church, so I cared more about worship and study than my interaction with one guy. But, it was significant that I, seemingly, wasn't memorable (at all) to a key leader. So significant that I remember the story and his name 17 years later...
It is interesting when we visit a church who (if anyone) greets us, and then who (if anyone) remembers us when we go back.
I know church folk can be pretty overwhelming in their effort to greet the newcomer, but in trying to avoid that tendency it seems like of folks have fallen off the opposite edge.
In our recent visits, the church who has done the best at welcoming and remembering us is Pacific Palisades Community Church. We had 5 or 6 people greet us on our first visit, and a good number who remembered us when we came back the following week.
We want to be noticed and welcomed (as opposed to ignored) but we don't want to stick out like a sore thumb. And it is nice when people pay enough attention to remember us when we go back