Wednesday, February 28, 2007
AND, yay for youth who write and thank me for the work I do and for the ways I help them feel welcomed! AND who want to work on inviting more people so we can grow as a group.
YAY! YAY! YAY!
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Clearly, I am having trouble with the isolation of a new place, new job, new everything, but yesterday I got to forget about all of that. Sunday night I drove 2.5 hours to the beach to see my best friend who has just moved down here. She and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning talking (even though we talk nearly everyday). We spent Monday shopping, walking, talking, and with her pushing me around Target on the shopping cart. I'm a simple girl really, I don't need much to amuse me. She and I laughed as we lurched and squeeked around turns and got all kinds of strange looks from the other customers. It was good to be able to relax so fully. We walked on the beach at nearly midnight and had a grand time falling into our old routines.
I guess I got to be three yesterday! My old soul certainly enjoyed being a kid again. =)
Finally after 30 minutes of futile and very frustrated questioning she named it: "I think we are too different to make this work. We understand God too differently and I don't have the words to communicate well with you." you got that right! I kept thinking of the place where I volunteer, we do horse back riding with kids with disabilities, and some kids simply respond better to certain people. The instructor can be top notch, but sometimes the kids just click better with someone else. I clearly needed someone different.
On my ride home I was frustrated and hurt. Frustrated for how it didn't work and the prospect of having to find someone different (along with the possibility that I may have presented a similar problem for someone I have counseled along the way). Hurt because the way she explained things made me feel absolutely inept, spiritually immature, and impossible to work with. The notion that came to me in those moments is that I need a soul whisperer. I mean really, there are dog whisperers and horse whisperers, I need a soul whisperer, someone who gets it and gets me. Where the resonance of our souls works in harmony and I can keep progressing in my faith journey.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
For over a week now I have been hearing the fighting behind the wall of my bedroom. It used to be I would wake up to my neighbors' rendition of the Vagina Monologues, but lately it is just fighting--loud, obscenity-filled fighting. It seems I am either trying to fall asleep in the midst of it, or waking up to it. They need more than prayers, they need intervention, so I have a call into a woman I met the other day in my "community organizing" visits in the community. Hopefully she can help. In the meantime, please pray for peace, patience, and understanding.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
- for the retired minister and his wife, that he preaches so I can have a reprieve once a month and that she faithfully plays the organ and is always there and is willing to stop and start as needed so we can learn new songs
- for a congregation that is flexible and willing to roll with the punches as we try new things in order to attain a worship service that is more representative of who we want to be
- for a successful youth group discussion about worship and what we are truly called to do for worship, that they truly get it, and only hope the larger church does too before we lose these kids
- for church leadership that is inspired and catching fire and being inventive and creative as they seek to find new life for and in our church
- for church leaders who are spiritual adept and who are looking to grow in their faith walk
- for long talks with friends
- for a senior pastor who does not wish me to run myself into the ground and encourages me to take vacation, study days, and time for myself
- for the opportunity to go to MS and do Katrina relief work, with BOTH of my parents!
- that my congregation(s) love me, and trust me enough to share with me and let me attend to their vulnerable and sacred spaces, and that they (many anyway) will let me be their cheerleader and walk with them into new (and sometimes seemingly risky) territory
- for a young adult group that enjoys the fact that I draw them into the ambiguous and difficult areas of belief and don't give them a pat answer
- for my one young adult who always comes and always reads, which makes my job SO much easier (and my apologies to all of my teachers/professors for whom I did not...)
I could probably go on and on tonight, but I will leave you with those I have mentioned and count my other blessings into slumber!
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
As you might have noticed, blogging is sort of like eatting Pringles for me. Somehow I can't simply write one post (unless my brain is overloaded). If I'm going to share one idea, I am probably going to share two or three. Hence the barage of posts whenever I am in a writing mood!
When I meditated on the word Guidance, I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing Lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the other. My eyes drew back to the word Guidance. When I saw "G: I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i". "God, "u" and "i" dance." God, you, and I dance. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead. My prayer for you today is that God's blessings and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday. May you abide in God as God abides in you. Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life.
And I Hope You Dance
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Anyway, you get the idea. This week, pre-deadly sins reading, I had an epiphany, it came to me: if I am trying for transformation every week, that means I think people should be changing every week, and not just minor changes, life changing differences. That's completely unrealistic. I mean really. I can hardly deal with major life transformation once or twice a year--that really profound soul-searching, the painful stuff that takes you into the dark corners of your soul's closets and moves you into new space. That's a pretty big expectation to place on congregants every week. Bigger than anything I would want to have asked of me by a preacher. So, I think it is time to reign in my expectations and think about more realistic goals for what can and should be the take away from my weekly preaching.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
So, either I am supposed to be discerning something in my own life and so I keep receiving divine nudges (earlier today I was inclined to say "goosed by the Holy Spirit"--that made me laugh!) OR I truly need to share this with as many others as possible because it is so helpful. So, ignorant of what I might be discerning for myself--though I did use it for a decision not to move to a house--I thought I would share. I recommend this for major decisions in life, in leadership, and hope it proves as useful for you as it has for me.
Step One: Listing
Note to user: you can either list "pros and cons" if the option is singular, OR you can do a comparative list if you are deciding between 2 (or 3) options. If you do the comparative list, you should list all pros and cons of each option on their respective sides:
no razor burn
Step Two: Numbering
Numbering should be done on a scale of 1-3. 3 being higher importance, 1 being lower importance--if you mix this up, it seriously screws up the math and the end result
3 smell nice
2 clean hair
1 shaved legs
3 save time
2 save water
3 no razor burn
Clearly in this instance, no shower wins out at first glance.
Step Three: Prayer & Listening for Confirmation
At this point you should take this issue to prayer and ask God for signs of confirmation (or disconfirmation as the case may be). During this time you should not share your decision with others, simply let God speak to you through actions, ideas, possibilities and the like.
Step Four: Sharing with a confidant
After a couple of weeks of listening, you should share your leanings and learnings with a trusted confidant. Ask him/her to share his/her thoughts and then to also pray for you and your decision.
Step Five: More prayer and listening
Return to prayer and listen for continued confirmation (or lack thereof) regarding your decision. Possibly share with a couple additional trusted friends/family.
Step Six: Move forward with your decision
Provided you have received the confirmations needed for assurance about your decision, at this point you could be ready to move forward with your decision. If not, return to step 1, be more discriminating in your numbering in step 2 and continue on in prayer and listening.
As you can tell, I apparently will not be showering until Easter as I listen for confirmations that "no shower" is the right decision for me! =)
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Anyway, my lack of interaction was not supposed to be the focus of this post, rather, how interesting it is to have conversations with some of the folks I encounter. The guy who helped with most of my car stuff (including the actual maintenance) looked like he was probably in ROP through the high school. He was helpful, but not terribly talkative. But as soon as his manager came in to do the biling, the whole experience shifted. The manager was outright flirting (an aspect of life I sometimes forget actually exists--it's not really a popular past time of serving communion or teaching Bible study to older adults). And he as much said he was flirting. (well, rather, asked for space from the other guy so he could flirt). I'm okay with that, it, at the very least, provides entertainment. So we chatted about where they were from (VA and OH) and places I might visit when I go to VA in a couple of weeks. Then Mr. "Excuse-me-so-I-can-flirt" tells me his 5th baby was just born. Wait, you just had a 5th child and you're flirting with me because why?? Yeah, graduated a year ahead of me and is on baby #5 (no wedding band) and is reveling in flirting. Definitely a reality check for me. I didn't have the _________ to interrupt him (people often get skiddish around me when they find out what I do) when he told me that when he was in HS he "didn't like any of [his] classmates, so [he] started fornicating with the underclassmen". They say confession is good for the soul, and I wholy believe it, but he definitely did not know to whom he was confessing, and I am not quite sure why he was confessing.
It's a strange strange world friends. A strange strange world.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
On that note: Today we had a bilingual worship service. (We have two congregations--one that is Spanish speaking and one that is English speaking and to encourage fellowship, awareness, unity and community, we started doing bilingual worship together about every 8 weeks) Today was the 4th we have done since I have been at this church. The first was a prayer and healing service (the one where people walked out), the 2nd was for World Communion Sunday , the 3rd was for Christmas Eve where we did a Las Posadas Service, and the 4th was today as we celebrated "Golden Weds Sunday" (a celebration and renewal of vows for those couples who have been married for 50+ years--for which we had at least 15 couples).
I am grateful for wisdom I had received from Heidi Neumark (whose book "Breathing Space" I HIGHLY recommend). She had shared that her church had to do 8 bilingual services before they found the rhythm and balance that fit them. This has been helpful to share with our congregation as many struggle with the adjustment (including the power point people who try and create slides with translations and yet don't understand the language). Knowing that this new form of worship will take time to take hold and for all involved to feel honored, welcomed, and able to participate is a wonderful gift.
Today's service allowed me to finally see us moving forward on this front--(1) During the welcome my Senior introduced me (for the sake of visitors or late-arrival "snow birds") and welcomed the Hispanic congregation to the larger service at which point a man in the front row began to clap loudly. I was so moved by his act of hospitality and encouragement, I almost began to cry. Being together is about celebration and welcome of the other "half" (though percentage wise only 1/10th) of our church. We are two congregations but we are one church. And that man got it--and acted in a way that would encourage others to get it. God is moving in our church! (2) After service I had a couple of folks (non-Spanish speakers) come up and tell me how much they enjoyed the Spanish. They liked hearing the rhythm and smoothness of it. Praise Jesus!
Which is all to say, I am grateful for the ways the Holy Spirit is opening people up to one another and to new experiences and I pray that we might keep moving forward toward a Pentecost reality. Our next bilingual service will be Palm Sunday and then again for the celebration of Pentecost in May.
Note: If you, or your church, are interested in bilingual or multi-cultural worship (even if you are not a bilingual church) and would appreciate some resources or direction, I am happy to help in any way I can. I can send a sample liturgy, translated prayers, or song suggestions--even an intro into the concept of this *fusion* worship that would hopefully give insight into how to go about this.
Knowing that I struggle with what our youth group is right now, my brother asked tonight over the phone how it went. I recounted it and he referred me to this site. She too is a pastor and had posted this video (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1122526581190505259&pr=goog-sl&hl=en)
Her follow up question was then: is this what worship should be?
Now, having just promoted Sister Act 2, it would be hypocritical to say "no". I do believe this is a perfectly legitimate form of worship. However, I WOULD NOT advocate that this is the only way we are to worship. I believe stillness and meditation are just as valuable as dancing and contemporary music. One of the things I have been encouraging one of my congregations to do is to embrace the fact that one of the things we have to offer is diversity of experience--we are bilingual, we are multi-cultural, we are multi-generational, and as we revamp worship, we don't have to trade in all of the "old" for all of the "new". We have the opportunity to do *fusion* worship. We can use the best of both worlds. We don't have to choose either or.
So in direct answer to Rev Abi's question (as a good Methodist)--yes & no. =) Yes, absolutely we can respect and utilize this style of worship, and no, this is not what all worship SHOULD be. But on a more general level, it is what worship could be (and should be) in that it: (1) is engaging (2) encourages people to participate (3) recognizes the importance of the whole body in worship (4) allows *fun* activities (like dancing) to be part of how we honor God (5) is relevant to those who are attending worship.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Friday, February 9, 2007
Betty Crocker's individual microwave cake things DO compare with the 9x13 full box kind--and provide less temptation for eating the rest of the cake, which at the same time does not allow for a slice of cake to tide you over before your morning cereal! =)
In a large pot (over medium heat)
melt 2 Tbsp butter
add 1 Tbsp cumin seeds (you can substitute 1 tsp of cumin powder if necessary)
cook 2 minutes
add 3 cloves garlic, minced
cook 2 minutes
2 14oz cans (3 1/2 cups) vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 cup salsa
2 cans diced tomatoes
Cook covered for 30 minutes. Turn off heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro.
Serve immediately with fried tortilla strips (or tortilla chips) (and 1/4 cubed monterey jack cheese)
3 things that scare me:
2) hurting others
3) being attacked by a tiger while I am out walking... ;)
3 people who make me laugh:
1) My brother in law
2) my nephew
3 things I love:
1) hiking, walking, and exploring (especially if there is someone to talk with along the way)
2) Sitting on my dad's lap (yes, still.)
3 things I hate: (including my own)
3 things I don't understand:
1) the power of prayer
3) all those math lessons Karl used to tell me about in college
3 things on my desk:
1) a sewing machine
2) canisters to do fun stitches with said machine
3 things I'm doing right now:
1) Listening to music
2) Drinking Kaluha, coffee, and milk on ice
3) digesting dinner (cashew shrimp curry)
3 things I want to do before I die: (I'd be satisfied with my life doings if I died tonight, so these are just added bonuses)
1) Go to Macchu Picchu
2) Travel around India
3) Get married and be a mom
3 things I can do:
2) give massages
3 things you should listen to:
2) affirmations & compliments (a.k.a. "warm fuzzies")
3) Music you can dance to
3 things you should never listen to:
1) hate (it tends to breed like wildfire)
2) the creaks and moans of a house when you are home alone
3 things I'd like to learn:
1) how to be a really good pastor (who empowers and fosters discipleship and personal growth in the congregation
2) how to make really good (and authentic) Indian food
3) to fully accept all offerings of grace
3 favorite foods: (for the record, limiting this to three is nearly impossible)
2) Indian food from Madras in Atlanta
3) Freshly baked chocolate cake--no frosting
3 things I drink regularly:
3) Freshly squeezed fruit and veggie juice
3 shows/books I watched/read as a kid: (wasn't a big reader until after HS, so...)
1) Cosby show
2) Murder She Wrote
3) Saved by the Bell (I must have seen each episode AT LEAST three times)
3 People I want to tag: (this is hardly fair as I only know a few bloggers)
2) Forever a Gringa
3) Endangered Species Church
1) I had a brilliant idea for our Lent studies, and like many of my brilliant ideas, the work involved to do it right is a bit overwhelming. With my other responsibilities as of late, I just haven't had a chance to plan like I would have wanted. On Tuesday I went in to meet with my Senior pastor, stressed about all that would need to be done, and he began to tell me which groups and folks were going to prepare the meals and lead the groups. Of the 6 weeks of Lent, 4 were ready to go! Woohoo!! God's mercy was abundant that day as I no longer had to keep myself up in order to get this done.
2) We are planning a baby shower for a mother in our congregation. This is her 5th child and she doesn't really need "stuff", so instead it is a "service shower". We are encouraging members of our church to give gifts of service (folding a load of laundry, making a meal, taking another child to the park so mom can sleep, etc). I have been able to recruit two helpers, but I am still the primary person in charge. Well, with two 12 hour days this week, I have hardly thought twice about it. Nevertheless, on Thursday, helper #1 called and checked to see if there was anything she could take care of and offered to pay for the cake. =) And helper #2 said food was all taken care of and had one game idea (and liked my other 2) and said she would take care of door prizes. Woohoo! amen for people who get things done without me reminding them!
3) I attended the UMW luncheon today and after lunch I was serving eclairs to the other women at my table. (just for the record, eclairs are one of my favorites). Well, I was also drawn into conversations with others around the room and by the time I finished serving everyone else, there weren't any eclairs left. I checked the kitchen and the caterer was gone. No eclair. =( so I sat back down next to this adorable woman who runs our food pantry. She asked where mine was and I said I was fine without. She said, "Well, aren't there any left?" I said no and she said, "well, take mine." I refused and so she told me to take half, which I did. We shared our eclair and I received my extra helping of grace.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Case in point, the example of the people at my church who walked out. In a sense, I had let my guard down. I had exposed myself, my passions, and my convictions in that particular worship setting. And I was wounded. Never in my life, would I have imagined church people walking out on me. Never. Maybe I should have, but that isn't the point. The point is, I trusted them to receive a service of worship, prayer, and healing that joined our two congregations (including the spanish speaking congregation THEY had started) and they (at least those 7) didn't. And it hurt.
So, if you are one who knows you differ from me on something, the sentiment I hope to express here is not that I don't want conflict (b/c you can probably bet your shorts that if it's there I will attend to it), or that I will disregard you for holding a differing opinion, it's more about me creating my own awareness about why the case of Hays (or others that are similar) was so troubling for me.
My process has drawn me into a heightened sense of awareness--what am I doing and why? Why do I blog the things I do? Why do I react like I do? etc etc etc.
According to my theology (sanctification is a process of moving closer to God), this work will never be done. To be quite honest, that's not all that inspiring--no matter how much work I do, I won't get there. (Yes, methodists, I know, Wesley says *perfection* is possible, but really...I'm not sure I buy it. though yes, of course, I will tell my BOOM that I am well on my way and of course with the intent of arriving). =) It kinda makes me tired just thinking about. There is always work to do (not just on the self but in the world). I think now is when I need the other part of my theology, the prevenient grace part, where God loves us first in spite of ourselves, or maybe even because of ourselves.
The next week we covered war, last week abortion, and this week homosexuality. In addition to the texts about where Methodists come down on these issues, we've been reading applicable chapters from The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard Hays. His arguments feel balanced and moderate though his positions are fairly radical (in the sense of against the norm). For instance, re: war he argues that no war or violence is ever acceptable, on the part of a Christian, even in cases of self-defense. Re: abortion--he suggests that maybe the need for abortion (except for instances of rape/incest or danger to the woman) might not be necessary if the Christian community were to step up and say, we will provide for and care for you (mother) and your baby in whatever is necessary (i.e., health care, emotional and spiritual support, finances, child care, etc.) Both of these weeks, our group was not quite as radical as the author, yet through his writing we managed a balanced discussion.
This week, however was different. There wasn't "wiggle room" in his stance. Hays came down like an iron fist with a staunch "no" against homosexuality (while still advocating love, grace, and embrace in our churches). To be quite honest, I was not looking forward to this discussion after this reading. And besides my own dissent and disagreement, I also had to wrestle with the notion that I have come to respect him and his loyalty to scripture and authentic exegetical work.
This was the old lesson re-learned: We won't always agree, even if we agree on many other things and that is a tension to be dealth with, not avoided or dismissed. I would like people who are "right" or "reasonable" to always be so (at least according to the laws of Deb). I know it's not very advanced of me, but I don't like conflict and it's easier to avoid when other people agree with me, or when I agree with them.
I had had to revist this lesson a few months back when 7 congregants walked out of a bilingual worship service because "This is America and we speak English here." (Nevermind the scripture teachings of "there is no Mexican or American"...I mean, Jew nor Greek--meaning, Christian community is supposed to be more focused on the fact that our faith in Christ unifies above all else--nationality, language, etc). I had to restrain myself not to blanketly (I doubt that's a real word) dismiss each of those who called me to share their racist opinions and instead try and look for places where I could engage them and hopefully regain respect for them as individuals, as thinkers, and as Christians.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Saturday, February 3, 2007
En este ambiente, me encontre tan comoda--por el lenguaje (bilingue), el entendimiento (del mestizaje de identidad), y de metas (mejorar la vida de los de la frontera, compartir el evangelio, y esforzar la iglesia, tanto de los dos lados que juntos). Y alli me apreciaron. Traduci mucha de la reunion, y por esto me agradecieron, pero tambien, 2 me pidieron que les ayudara con sus ministerios, uno como oradora de un acampamiento de jovenes, y otro (el sabio) de ser maestra de una clase del seminario.
Aqui no me encuentro con esta aprobacion, aqui todavia estoy luchando por entendimiento, en contra del racismo, por vision, por unidad, y con ellos, simplemente soy (por lo menos asi me siento). Esto es parte del mestizaje que vivo, por un lado nunca sere uno de ellos, y al otro lado, ya no soy uno de los "mios" tampoco...
Friday, February 2, 2007
Thursday, February 1, 2007
I don’t think the theological import is very far off. We crave intimacy with God and yet it’s scary as hell because God truly knows us and that vulnerability feels life threatening—the creator, the giver of life, the omnipotent one sees it all—Holy ****! That’s scary, beyond scary even. Granted, the reward for such sharing is huge and yet in the moment of risk—who cares?!?! We move right into self-protection. It has potential for literally making me dizzy thinking of how much could be lost. I know. Fear. It’s always focused on the negative, what could be lost rather than on gain, hope, or possibility. And yet, that’s what’s real—running from God for fear that we might be revealed for what we truly are.
I know, the irony is God has already seen, but that’s hardly of consequence when you’re running. I mean, the runaway car in a police chase hardly seems to register: “I know I will be caught in the end, so I might as well throw in the towel now.” Spiritual speaking, I doubt we rarely think, “God’s seen it all anyway, so I might as well give over my struggle to hide my shame now.” In a sense, in a very vulgar way, I have already lost that battle—of hiding myself, my sin, my shame, my imperfections from God—so why keep trying? It’s fruitless. So why expend the energy? Especially when God says, “so what? I love you anyway. I loved you before, I love you now, and I will love you always.” God’s made that claim on our lives, we can’t change the fact that God loves us. God pretty much can’t help God’s self (not as I understand it anyway) from loving us…which basically leaves me with a big “SO THERE!” to deal with. (well, you too, for that matter if you struggle like I do). =)