Friday, April 26, 2013

Inch by Inch

This week I have been surrounded by inch worms and I think God is telling me something.
The weather has been nice and I have catapulted myself outside Tuesday and Thursday afternoon of this week and today.

Tuesday night after we had a family hike, Kevin was pulling inch worms off of me.

Today- I sat with my sweet Sophia in the "castle" of our playset.  She played with an inchworm and I sat and read for sermon prep, but mostly watched her marvel at the inch worm and then saw several around me.  I became drawn in by the inchworms, spiders, and ants that surrounded on the rickety and loved playset.

They just hung around me by threads.

There is so much that is unknown.

In two months our lives are changing.  My amazing husband is taking a leave of absence from ministry. He is not giving up on ministry, but stepping back to answer another call or perhaps it is the same call with another branch... He feels called to teach and is pursuing this call.  He'll need to go back to school, he's taking tests, filling out applications, submitting resumes and trying to secure a job all while still caring for his congregation.
I am in awe of him.

I am in awe of God who I know has gone ahead of us in this.  I know we are not going haphazardly into the unknown, its charted by my Maker-- I just don't know the way yet.

Most days I'm good.  I don't really ever feel confidant--- but I feel assurance.
Today I felt super overwhelmed.
And I think that is why God made me be still and see all the inch worms.
Sophia picked them up and they went way off track by this crazy giant girl.  And then she sets them down and they keep on plugging away, inching away.  They hang there by this thread seemingly hanging in space and they just inch on.

I realized today that I hadn't made a few calls or done a visit I had hoped to do.
Every day-- there is more and more and more I could do and should have done and didn't get to.

I have always struggled with enough ness--- but talking with a clergywoman friend this week I wonder if its even more as a pastor.  I feel such a compulsion to do so much.... Its as if I see need everywhere and I cannot relieve it fast enough.

I have much to learn from inch worms.

I walk past the bulletin board in the church and see that I haven't gotten around to changing nor have I developed a team to do so yet... I remember that I haven't yet organized this meeting, or built up this leadership here or there, or remembered to call and check on this family, or followed up with that family, I haven't sent the thank you notes that I want to do, I can go on and on and on... and sometimes I will write "what I did" list.. and that's all well and good.....

The laundry had piled, and yet I'm thankful that I spent some time to just play with my girls, that I fell asleep reading to Gracie the other night, that I've had time to make my family dinner every night...

I have a lot to learn from inch worms.... and I need to read some Annie Dillard again.

I have no idea what is coming.  I have no idea how we will make it on just my salary.  I have no idea what life will look like.  Kevin is applying for various teaching positions and hoping to have something and be going to school too.... we hang by this thread inching along.  The thread is strong.  God holds us.

On our trip home recently from visiting family in Florida-- we got off the interstate and took a more enjoyable route.  We knew it added a bit more time-- but it was so lovely. We needed some enjoyable quality time just us.
I said something to Kevin about how I didn't worry about the destination or getting home "on time"
we had everything we needed.  How lovely just to drive, share conversation, see beauty and enjoy the ride.

So much of my personality and call is about being on fire.  I often feel just sparked alive with passion and propelled forward.  I feel as though I am being led and pulled, I too often feel as though heaping coals of vision are dumped on my heart and I have thousands of flames ignited and I am not yet sure of what they will catch on to.  Too many visions... so many dreams... ideas after idea....

And while that is so true... this week I have just felt set down.
I've felt humbled and observant.
 somewhat paralyzed.

And perhaps I've just needed to watch inchworms.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Praying with the News

You've heard that Karl Barth said to "read the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other."

That has been so very true.
And never more true than today.
I feel like every day I am pelted with bad news.
 A young life born able to breathe a day, Stabbings, killings, bombings, blow ups...

And today I learned that a woman I went to college with was murdered yesterday by her husband.       I didn't know her well- but I remember her.  She has a two year old daughter.  My heart breaks.

Every since I saw this my heart and my mind cannot move forward - so I stop and I pray.

I open by bible and flip straight to Psalms.  And I read until God speaks to my pain.

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call to you,
    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.
Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord.
Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
    when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.
As I read I start crying.  Images of happy families who are now broken, images of smoke and destruction, pain and sadness just flood my heart.

I call my husband.  And we pray together.
I love that on Mondays we have chosen to work from home.  (It is nice to slow down on Monday after Sunday and focus on scripture, prayer, study, and the next Sunday's bulletin and message).

His strong arm wraps around me warm, comforting, secure and he prays.

We rise.

There are things to get done and we can go on with God.

The world holds so much destruction. God Creates.
God is our Creator still creating.
And today is Earth Day.

This morning I met with a man who lost his wife yesterday.
He has over 100 varieties of azalea's.  His home is a museum of Native American art and artifacts. I gathered with the family this morning to plan the Celebration of his wife's life.  I loved being them.  He showed me his treasures.  We walked in the beauty of his garden.

After preschool, I pushed my daughter on the swing.  The wind blew, birds sang, everything was alive around me. 
My heart rejoiced at the beauty of God's presence and my heart ached thinking of a young woman my age who has been robbed of the joy of being with her daughter.

There is so much bad news. It comes and goes and there is a 24hr news cycle that will tell you every detail.  There are smart phone updates that ding and give me bullet points of the brokenness.

I cling to the Gospel.  It is Good News.

I pray and I pray.  I read this Good News.  I hug my children closer.

 The other night I read to the girls about Margaret Mead.  It was from my favorite series of books when I was growing up.  I said to Kevin something about how it would be cool to live in intentional community, to constantly teach our children about love and truth and peace and justice.  Once I made Kevin watch a documentary about Intentional Communities when we were in seminary.  My wonderful introverted husband was not up for it.  I think I daydream sometimes in a grass greener way that if we did life that way we'd have more time, we'd be more intentionally focused on peace.  There would be less destruction… I admire the work of intentional communities…yet I think living in the regular (for lack of a better word) world takes  a lot of courage.

 I love how Rev. Lillian Daniel says, “These people are always informing you that they find God in the sunsets. Well, excuse me, as if people who go to church didn’t see God in a sunset. You know, my take is that any idiot can find God in the sunset. What is remarkable is finding God in the context of flawed human community, and a tradition bigger than you, and with people who may not reflect God back to you in your own image.

I know that in the midst of destruction, we have a Creator God.
In the midst of sadness, death, and heartbreak- I have a Savior whose heart longs for me and who died for us all and who is the architect of hope.
In the midst of all this pain for God’s people, the Spirit pours over a comfort  over the earth.

Almighty God,
Thank you for hope.
Thank you Lord for your love.
As the news rolls in, as we scroll the updates and laugh at cat pictures, we see happy families, and mouth water at recipes gaurd our hearts when we hit the bad news.
We know the reality.
We are not dreamers.  
We are believers.
We do know reality.
We know a reality which proclaims
that love wins, peace pours, and justice rolls down like waters.
We know a reality of Hope.
We pray we will live in and into your kingdom.
May we usher in this hope in every moment.
May your light crack open our dark pain.
We pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Saturday Night Preacher Prayer

Help me Lord.
O Help me, help me, help me.
Help me preach tomorrow.
Help me hold them tomorrow.
Help me help us to lay it at all your feet.
Help me to help us see you and know you and hope in you.
Help us to welcome your presence and give you these burdens.
Help me to to help us give thanks even though we are so angry and sad and angry and fearful and overwhelmed with vengence and pain and confusion.
Help me pastor and love them.
Help me usher in your hope and presence.
Help me proclaim the truth that your kingdom will and is coming.
Help me speak the truth and reality of your love , presence, and protection.
Help me be the pastor and the preacher they need and you want me to be.
Help our hearts to dwell in your heart and your heart invade our hearts.
Give me strength.
Hold me up.
Speak in and through me.
Sustain me by the power of your Holy Spirit.
I am yours.
Thank you Lord.
Thank you for your never failing love.
I cling to you and I will not let you go.
Hold tight to me.
Hold us tight.
In you everlasting never-failing love,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Call to Worship for Prayer

I wrote this call to worship for Sunday-- I preached on Prayer and I taught the kids about ACTS- Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication-- so I wrote the Call to Worship to go with it!

Leader: We are here Lord to adore you!
People: We raise our hands in praise to you!
Leader: We come confessing our sin and laying our brokenness before you.
People: We bow washed in your forgiveness and made whole in your steadfast love!
Leader: We are here Lord to give you thanks!
People: We kneel offering ourselves with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness!
Leader: We come seeking you God, with our prayers and supplication.
People: Lord, You always hear our pleas and we pray that we may hear you this day!

Setting my mind on the Spirit

 It's the first week of Lent.  I decided I wanted to write and reflect more for Lent.   Years ago-- I wrote on this blog more often and ...