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.