Friday, February 22, 2013

Rethink

     I remember visiting a friend in Colorado and being in awe of the crisp, clear blue winter sky and looking over at the mountains stretching into the horizon and asking "do you ever get tired of this?" I asked him "Do you ever forget where you live and what you see?  Does the beautiful ever fade away?  Do you ever take it for granted?"  My friend quickly responded "nope, never!"
    Now that I live in the mountains myself I can say that I don't grow tired of the beauty...it doesn't fade away. But if I am honest there are other things that fade away.
 
       The other things that often fade away before I have realized it are all around me.  The things that seem to fade or slowly run together like the water moving across a painted canvas are the things like deep friendship.  Friendship that seems to span the miles; friendships that have carried the burdens; friendship that have cried from the depths of one's being and yet continue to gather together to celebrate; friendship that reminds you to be happy in where you are and to stay connected to a community of faith even in the brokenness and to tend to the needs of your family above all things.
   The things that are taken for granted are the ability to settled into the life of acceptance.  Acceptance by a community of strangers that grows into a family.  Settling into the comfort of an old pew that has heard the stories of faith over the ages and then invites one into the sacred space of
the Divine.  I forget; I miss that there is a comfort found in the power of a storybook sanctuary; the comfort and power of being connected something more powerful than yourself. I gloss over the stones that are made of tiny grains of sand are held together by One that has stood for me through the ages of time and isn't afraid of the weight of the world.
     There are things that get swept away by the tast of the day; like the love of a spouse or the laughter of a child.  There are grains of our days that wash away as we rush the conversation at dinner or miss that last hug as they walk out the door.  There are the everyday things like a bundle of flowers that are gathered in a vase that when left unseen cannot unveil the power of love that stretched years of walking into the open field to gather the beautiful yellow bloom that symbolizes that spring is coming; that new life is here.
     This season I am embarking on a daily 'challenge'.  A 40 day challenge of looking; seeing; thinking about things in a light.  The challenge offers a daily word and invites me to capture a picture that describes that word for me.  This challenge calls me to rethink how I view the everyday...how I view the ordinary.  This challenges me to rethink how I take things for granted and what I am allowing to fade into the background.

I want to rethink the daily...I want to rethink the ordinary.  I want to see with new eyes.

What do you need to rethink? What part of your life needs to be brought into a new light?  What things have lost their true meaning and need to be revised?  Are you up for the challenge to rethink the world around you?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weaving

     When I sit down to blog usually it comes fairly easy but this time I have started over many time. Tonight, I am still sitting here staring at these pictures.  I feel like I am meant to share these pictures and the story that is unfolding.  It isn't anything that I expected and yet it is consuming me because I see what it is doing for the people that have been entrusted into my care and I want to do my part in fulfilling all that God is unfolding.

    To be honest I wanted to do something for Lent that I had already done before.  I felt like it would give be the ability to be with my people during this season of Lent. I also wanted an opportunity to 'get ahead', so I turned to something that I had enjoyed preaching and teaching before.  This time I wanted to come at it from a different angel.

    As I prepared to preach on the Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus knew by James Bryan Smith the imagine that kept coming to me was a sense of


weaving God's character into our character. The entire book is based around falling in love with a God is broader than we could ever imagine. It is about shattering the images of God that hinder us from coming to him or from falling totally in love with all that He offers.  In the midst of the preparation the word and imagine of weaving just kept coming.

    The reality is that every single one of us has something that we would love to change...something that we don't like about ourselves.  It can be as simple as the way we look or as important as the way we respond to others.  It can be something that keeps us from experiencing or accepting others for who they are and trusting that they really care for us.  I could go on and on but the reality is that we all have that something....that something that we want to change.

     As we began our sermon series this past Sunday,  the scripture that came to me was from Matthew 11:28-30.  Jesus calls all those who are weary to come to him and he would give them rest.  I heard something that I had never heard before.  If I am to know the God that Jesus knew then God is inviting me to find rest in the stories that I keep hidden inside my head and my heart.  The stories that keep me from being fully transformed into who God has created me to be. They are stories that have been with me for years and that live within me brain telling me why I cannot fully change...telling me why I cannot be all that I am called to be.  The God that Jesus knew invites me (and all of us) to take a rest from those stories and hear a new story.

 God is inviting me to rest and step away from the stones that have been thrown and take up His story  
 of Protection.

God is inviting me to rest and put down the stories of failure and take up His story of conquering the
Greatest Giant.

God is inviting me to rest and step out of the furnace that feels like it is going to consume me and take up His story of Covering.

God is inviting me to rest  and to take His story of redemption and make it my story of redemption.

God is inviting me to rest  and weave His story into my story.

We as a people of God are not giving up anything this season of Lent, we are taking a rest from the stories that harm us... the stories that keep us from accepting who we are and what we have been created to do...the stories that tell us we are not good enough....

We invite you to come along with us in weaving your story into a new story.  We invite you to come along to weave God's story into your story and to take God's character so that you might weave His character into the world around you.




Friday, February 15, 2013

Fog

Fog...

It isn't just present in the mornings, it can last half the day and today was one of the days that it just didn't seem to want to lift.  

It wasn't just the fog here on the mountain that didn't want to lift, it was the fog inside my head that didn't leave as quickly this morning as I had hopped.  The fog of being disorientated and dizzy would not stop as I tried to lift my head.  Yep...it was the fog of vertigo.  This fog has been with me for almost a week now and it's amazing how difficult it is to maneuver when the fog in our lives doesn't lift.

Vertigo definitely brings about it's own kind of fogginess but I'm guessing that each of us have experienced some sort of fog in our lives.  The fog of disappointments role into lives and it doesn't matter what we do it feels as though we cannot catch a break...or the kind of fog that comes from not speaking the truth and the consequences of our poor choices continue to come when we least expect it.  You know the kind of fog that lingers when your're simply not in a place of truly forgiving that person that wounded you in way that keeps ripping open.  I'm guessing that some of us have known the kind of fog that clings to our every fiber as we struggle to find our purpose; the kind of purpose that fills us with pure joy and bubbles up from the things that we love the most.

Fog is an interesting thing....

There are days when we wonder if it is ever going to lift.....

We wonder if the think dampness that makes us want to crawl into a hole will ever give way to something warm and inviting.

Fog.....



It's funny because I actually started this post on Wednesday, February 13th (Ash Wednesday) because I was growing weary from waking up to a room that was spinning.  I was tired of the fog that seemed to make itself at home within my brain in a way that left it hard for me to focus.  I was growing weary...and then I looked outside and there after a long morning of wondering if the fog would be lifting any time during the day I realized that the fog WAS lifting ever so gently.  

The fog was LIFTING!

The fog didn't lift within minutes but took it's own sweet time to lift but the reality is that it was lifting and that it did lift.  

The same is true for us.  

Yes, while we might be wondering if the fog that has made itself at home deep within our hearts and minds will ever fully lift God is coming to us.  God is blowing the fog ever so gently out of our lives.  God is wiping the fog off of the limbs that are clinging to our lives.  We may not notice it but it is happening.  Tonight God is making His way into our being to bring a sense of warmth and light.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Fence

     Today I have been sitting on the fence between being happy for others and the things that God has brought into their lives and sulking at what I have not been able to obtain; or what I haven't been given.

     It's a weird place to be.

     I want to be happy for my friends.
          Happy that they have succeeded.
              Happy that all things have gone well for them.
                Glad that the words that they needed came and just the right time.

   And yet if I am honest, deep down I am jealous and a bit hurt.
          Yes, jealous that the pieces of their puzzle seems to fall into place.
             Sad, that I am angry that they get to celebrate such a goodness of a day.
                Hating myself that I want the recognition from others.

  As I sit here today, pride has been welling up within me.

   Pride is always a funny thing.....

  Pride always makes us want something more or different than what we have.  It makes us question the very thing that is before us.  It tears us away from the strengths that we bring to the table and that God has designed deep within us.  It makes us wonder why we are not chosen and why we have not received the accolades that we so deeply crave. Pride makes us think that it is all about who we are instead of who we serve.

The harsh reality is that if we lean into pride we will miss the journey that has been created for us before we were even born.  If we lean into thinking that the grass is greener on the other side then we will miss the opportunity to love and be loved by those who are surrounding us in the here and now.  The harsh reality is that we may perceive ourselves as average here on earth but in the next world we will soar with the very One who created each and everything thing with vibrant, stunning colors.

The fence of letting others soar while you desire that for yourself is hard to balance.

In the end, I think I will chose goodness and celebration both for myself and my friends.

What about you?  Are you sitting on the fence today; are you comparing yourself to others?  Are you wondering why it never works out for you and yet seems to always work out for someone else?  Are you wondering why everyone else gets the recognition?

Or do you want to lean into the joy and celebration of those that are surrounding you today?  Do you want to experience the presence of knowing that you have your own strengths and they do not have to be compared to another?  Are you willing to soar with the Creator today and all the tomorrows to come?

I choose to get off the fence and stand in the celebration...in the celebration of all that I am and all that is before me...in the celebration for a job well done for my friends....and give thanks that God has breathed his breath into me and that is what is important.





Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The unexpected.

         Some days are not at all what we think they are going to be.  

         Actually some weeks are not what you think they are going to be

.....and this has been one of those.......




It's interesting, never in a million years did I think that I would be traveling to the Holy Lands more than once in my life but here it is, I am returning this year....not just as a pilgrim but as a Leader; helping to open the Land of the Holy to those entrusted into my care.  It's an amazing thing and one that I don't think that I have wrapped my head around but that's another story for another time.

I have been making a list of persons who have been telling me that they were interested.  If I saw someone that picked up a brochure I added them to the list.  I simply wanted to create a list of persons in whom I could pray over and in whom God could reveal those who were to be a community for this two week journey.    My list has been growing...

Honestly there was a person in whom I heard wanted to go on this trip and my heart began to leap.  She's an amazing young woman.  A young woman who has a love for God, it's not the kind of showy faith that others think of. It's the kind of love for Christ that is filled with a deep warmth for others....it tends to the least in ways that others would never think of....it is the kind of faith that comes to life in and through worship (not jut the act of worship but the spirit of worship).  She is a young woman who works hard and rarely does for herself.

I knew that if she came on the pilgrimage it would be a huge sacrifice.  

This week I had the honor of telling her that someone had given her the gift of this trip.  I almost cried in joy for the gift that was given to her.  Then I had the amazing privilege of telling her that she was indeed coming on the pilgrimage with us.  She herself was almost in tears and what a joy it was to share that news.

Yesterday I had the privilege of teaching a person new to ministry a trick and skill that a DEC took the time to teach me in my first job as a youth minister.  It's the trick and skill of planning trips, of making a budget for a ministry that you were not a part of the previous year, and the understanding that you give yourself some wiggle room just in case something goes wrong during the year.  I know it's a small thing but it felt good to teach someone something that has stuck with me for almost 20 years in ministry.

Never would I have guessed a month ago that we would be having youth leading a worship service in our church anytime soon.  This week, I have had a 6th grader step up with a willingness to lead our congregation through our time of prayer.  I have had an 8th grader that was willing to lead the beginning of our service as we center ourselves and pass the peace of Christ.  I have two high schoolers that are willing to stand to greet persons as they arrive and then to serve as persons that bring the offerings of our community to the table of our Lord.  All of that occurring within a whim, without an expectation but occurring with goodness.  

Today I made the last cup of spiced tea that was given to me this fall.  It's a tea that is so close to the tea my grandmother made that I could feel her the first time I made a cup.  Today as I looked at my jar I was a bit sad that it was to be my last cup, but then the very person that gave it to me this fall showed up at my office with a whole new batch of spiced tea!!  It wasn't just the tea, it was the opportunity to share in conversation.

Conversation....sometimes we forget that's the most important part of sharing the Gospel.  Today someone stopped in my office and I have to tell you it was so amazing. I have the most amazing job in the world....literally even when it is crazy it is amazing...even when I forget, it is still amazing.  It is amazing because I have the honor of listening to the part of persons lives that they so rarely share with others.  I get to listen to the part of their lives that they work so hard for others to not see (not in a negative way but in the way that it protects them on many levels for persons not to know or see this part of their lives).  I get to listen...I get to watch the tears of frustration come bubbling to the surface...I get to watch as they accept the new mercies that await them each and every day...I get to walk them in a ways that so many others do not.

Today has not been what I expected...neither has this week for that matter but the thing is that the good news comes flowing out in the places that we least expect it.  The goodness of our Lord comes pouring upon us when our minds are on other things.  The amazing grace of Jesus comes pouring upon us in the moments when our stomaches are empty and our minds are swimming....then again I think that's what ministry is all about.

Thank you Holy One for the week of the unexpected...thank you for allowing me to share such amazing news...thank you for allowing me to stand with persons on this journey of faith.