Sunday, April 24, 2016

Potty Talk

*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

Lessons from church (s)hopping: A little recognition

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

Music Monday

Music is powerful in our house.  We even have a picture that says, "Where words fail music speaks." It's true.  So, I'm sharing various pieces of music that have either spoken to me or I think will speak into situations of friends. 

I regularly post on Facebook:

"Prayer Roundup: What can I lift up for you?" 

I'm always honored for how people share with me so that I can hold them in prayer.  And I am often overwhelmed by the level of pain in our lives.  Depression. Addiction. Mental health struggles. Grief. Betrayal. Abuse. Family conflict....the list goes on. 

There are a whole lot of storms that rage in our lives.  And this song speaks into our need to have faith that God is in the midst of the storm:

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Word of Hope

The Easter message matters. We need to know that sin, betrayal, death, abuse, death, heartache, loneliness, depression, fear, anxiety, loss, confusion, and dead ends don't have the final word. It may feel like it, but all those things lose because of Christ. In him we are given (freely without strings attached) forgiveness, second chances, reconciliation, redemption, freedom from our past, and promise of hope in our future.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

If you want my help

Let me just start by saying God is growing me so much as a parent. I am (slowly) becoming a better person day by day. And I'm learning a whole lot of humility, both from my failings as a parent and as I learn to re-image God.  

The other day Ruth wanted "3 Queen Elsa braids" in her hair. Now, she doesn't have enough hair for much, but she is content if I give her any kind of braid that make her feel like Elsa.  So, I sprayed and conditioned her hair and started to divide it into sections (at which point she normally likes to argue with me that she wants braids not pony tails...but if you do hair you know you have to do pony tails first to keep the sections separate).  I remind her she should trust me.  She said ok and then began to bend all the way forward.  


"Ruth, you need to sit up straight!"


I continued separating sections and then began braiding.  I don't remember exactly what she did next, but my response was "Ruth, if you want me to help you, you have to let me do it." 

Click in my brain.'s another one of those  lessons.  If I want God to help me I have to let God do it...

Let's just say I'm about as cooperative as my almost-5 year old when it comes to asking God for help and then either staying out of the way or being an active (and helpful) participant in following God's direction.  I'm trying. I'm learning.  I'm definitely a work in progress.  

I just have to remember, if I ask for help, I need to let God do it!