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Showing posts from 2013

The Gift of the Carolers

I visit Norma periodically.  Norma lives with a variety of health problems, and together we get to enter the sacred ground of secrets from the past, crises in the present, and anxieties of the future.  We share, we pray, we laugh, we cry, we search Scripture, and we talk for hours.  I get to be her pastor, and that is a gift.

Norma has discovered that when you're sick, you're often alone.  Friends and family don't know what to say, so they say nothing.  They feel guilty that they cannot come around more often, so they don't come at all.  It's hard to love someone who's sick, and it's hard to be the someone who's sick and lonely.

But last week, some friends of mine, a small group at PCC's Westchester Campus, went caroling.  They asked for Norma's address; I asked Norma's permission to share her address; she agreed nervously; they knocked on lots of doors before actually finding Norma.  And then they sang to her and her husband.  

This is what No…

Blue Christmas: Waiting for Comfort

If you find yourself in a place of grief, hurt, or pain this Christmas morning, then I pray some of these words will acknowledge your reality on Christmas, and maybe offer some comfort or hope. However long we spend waiting, it almost always feels too long, right?Whether the outcome is good or bad, most of us would rather just get to it already instead of waiting another week, another day, or another hour.And yet, waiting must be endured as part of the human experience.To live is to wait.And while all waiting is challenging, some waiting is almost unbearably painful.
We wait for the depression to pass, for the dark cloud that follows our every footstep to dissipate.  We wait for the torrent of tears to subside.  We wait for the right medication to restore balance to our brains, so we can restore balance to our lives and our families before their patience runs out.
We wait for him to come back home, for her to change her mind and decide the marriage is worth fighting for.  We wait for a c…

Slavery, Then and Now

On a recent date night, my husband took me out to the movies.  He took me to see 12 Years a Slave, which is being heralded as one of the best movies of the year.  My husband says it’s the most powerful movie he’s ever seen. 
It was awful. 
Don’t get me wrong, the writing, storytelling, character development, believability of something so barbarically evil, and suspense were incredible.
But it was awful.
I got up and left at one point when the slave was defying his master, because I couldn’t bear to see what savagery would result from his insubordination.
I worked hard to keep down the popcorn.
I covered my ears and eyes. 
I could not wait for the mercy of the ending.
And then it was over.  And no one moved in the silent theater. 

How could we?  How could we get up, throw away our popcorn and soda, stop off at the bathroom, and go home to a comfortable, safe home after watching that movie?
And yet, that’s what we had to do. 
My husband and I had plans to stop for dessert after the movie.  I …

For Dr. Heard

I opened mail from my alma mater a few months ago to read that Dr. Heard had died.
My heart sank, and my eyes filled with tears.  
Dr. Betty Heard was my college adviser and a professor in the English department.  She taught me Milton, an English education class, and Victorian British Novel--which is my favorite kind of literature--I think--I do love Romantic poets...and American Transcendentalists...and Shakespeare...and Hemingway and Fitzgerald....  But Austen, Bronte, Hardy; it doesn't get any better than that.  (However, I could do without Dickens.  Twice in my educational career I failed to read assigned texts; both were Dickens.)
I wanted to attend the Homecoming Chapel service that honored her, but it was on a Sunday, and I kind of have a job that happens on Sundays.  I've thought a hundred times, "If I were the pastor who'd been asked to speak about her at the service, then what would I have said?"  
It's taken me three months to be able to form those wor…

7 Things

Continuing the Facebook trend...

I've been given the number 7.  Seven interesting and/or random things about me...
(This was really hard for me, because I talk about myself a lot, and I have no poker face, so if you know me, you pretty much know me.)

1.  I was born 8 weeks early weighing 3.5 pounds.  I dropped to below 3 pounds.  My incubator had to be tilted so that I could not dig in my heels to get leverage for my long, skinny fingers to wrap about my tubes and pull them out.  A nurse also knitted tiny drawstring mittens to help with this issue.

2.  I have a minor in history.  That doesn't really count for anything or mean anything, except that I find history interesting.  Also, I forget it as soon as I "learn" it.

3.  This small town girl has been to a few of the world's biggest cities including Paris, Cairo, and NYC.  Cairo was uncomfortable; I'd go to the other two every year, or do extended vacations there, if I could.

4.  I've held the bars to Nelson Ma…

Confessions of a Bad Mom

I don’t understand girls, and yes, I am one.
We girls write, read, like, and share blog posts that largely say the same things:
We women need to cut ourselves some slack.   (If we’re feeling spiritual, then we put it in spiritual language) :   We need to extend ourselves come grace. The Supermom, Pinterest-mom, perfect mom idea is false. We can’t do it all.  We do the best we can and get up the next day and do it again.
And yet, we are the ones who perpetuate the supermom complex.
We stand around at birthday parties trying to one-up each other.  We hover at dance class or ball games making stabs at each other over decisions like whether to give our kids raw milk, whole pasteurized milk, skim pasteurized milk, almond milk, soy milk, or hemp milk. 
We really do need to cut ourselves some slack, and we really need to cut each other some slack.
We also need to be responsible moms.  It’s a fine line to tip-toe across.  On one hand, none of us can do it all.  On the other hand, there are some thing…

Kindergarten

Now that the first nine weeks of kindergarten have passed, I’m getting around to writing about this monumental life moment for my son and our family.  Oh well…
The night before kindergarten I was a little nervous.  We laid out clothes, read books about going to school, checked that the book bag was packed (for the tenth time), and went to bed early.  I went to bed, but I didn’t go to sleep right away.  My mind was racing:
Would he remember his book bag when he got off the bus?  I never rode the bus, so I was most anxious about that part.
Would he have to get help getting to his class?  I know there will be people there to help, but he’s like his Mom—having to ask for help or receiving help embarrasses him, and I don’t want his day to start like that.
Would he be able to open all the items in his lunchbox by himself?
Would he speak up if something went wrong, because again, he’s like his Mom…?
Would he talk to his teacher and the kids in his class?  Would he talk too much, because when somet…

Missing the Youth Pastor

A little over a year ago, the Blue Team (think senior leadership team—kinda) of our church met for a couple days.  We had an agenda—create a new leadership structure for our church.  Our church had long since outgrown our structure in terms of sheer numbers, and particularly, with having multiple campuses.  We weren’t structured to function as a multi-site church, so we weren’t really functioning as a multi-site church, and we knew that had to change.
We’d spent a couple months preparing for this meeting, we spent a couple days in this meeting, and we spent months editing, editing, and editing the result of this meeting.
Eventually, we completed our structure.  My name appeared in a few bubbles on the org chart:Student Director, Powhatan Campus Student Coordinator, Online Campus Pastor, and Guide Pastor.That’s a lot of bubbles.
We agreed I’d move myself out of some of those bubbles over time.  First up—Powhatan Campus Student Coordinator.  It was clear to me and everyone else, that as lo…

Casting Director Tristan Frame

I understand this will only be amusing if you know the people listed.  But, if you do, I think you'll enjoy.

First, the back story.  Sunday morning was dress-up day at church.   Lily was Minnie Mouse.  Tristan was Darth Vader.

Sunday morning I said something I say every morning, "Tristan, brush your teeth."

But Sunday morning I heard, "I'm not Tristan, and you're not Mom, so I can't do that.   I'm Darth Vader, and you're Princess Leia."

Lily, "But I want to be the princess!"

Tristan, "Fine, Lily.  You can be the princess.  Mom, that makes you a storm trooper."

Me, "I don't think so.  Darth Vader and Princess Leia, Yoda says it's time to brush your teeth."

(I lost my position of Yoda when Aimee Krueger entered the scene later talking like Yoda--for real.  You gotta hear it.)

A couple hours later we were at church, and Tristan decided to cast those around him in Star Wars:


Daniel Brawley—Obi Wan Lily—Princess Leia Ry…

Listening and Praying

Yesterday I got a great compliment; the kind that sticks with you and continues to release its encouragement and affirmation:  Have you been taught how to listen and to pray, or did God just make you that way?
Yes.
That’s how a seminary professor of mine answered most either/or questions.  I think I’ll borrow his technique.
On one hand, I love to listen to people’s stories, to hear their struggles, to see their faces light up with joy.  I love to ask them questions that help them dig a little deeper or to see their circumstances from a different perspective.
On the other hand, I’ve been taught a lot about how to listen.  Of course the basic rule is, “Shut up!”  You cannot listen when your mouth is running.  And I like to talk…especially about myself.  Very vain of me—I know.  I’m working on it.  I have to tell myself, “shut up,” in my head during every conversation I have.  I still get it wrong all the time.  I interrupt.  I babble on about myself.
But occasionally I actually practice the …

Happy Anniversary!

Recently our staff began celebrating our anniversaries.  Basically, when it's someone's anniversary as a PCC staff member, their manager says a few words about them.  

Last October, Erik Edwards became an unpaid staff member.  So, we recently celebrated his anniversary, and I got to say the nice things about him.  Getting to tell the rest of our staff team how selfless, committed, and competent Erik is was a true joy for me.  I share these words with you so that you, too, can hear how amazing Erik is, if you don't already know.  If you're a student or parent of a student, then you most likely know already:)  Please take an opportunity to thank Erik for how he has impacted you, your teenager, and your relationship with God.


October is notable for Erik for two reasons—his birthday and the anniversary of his being “staff.”  We don’t pay him, but he is committed to PCC; he’s more than competent in the ways he serves here; he has great chemistry with our team, and with our st…

Trust, Team, and The Government

I don’t understand the government shutdown.  I get my information from my husband, Stewart, and Colbert.  Occasionally I listen to a panel yell at each other on a news network.  I try (kinda), but I don’t fully understand.
I hear people vent about how immature it is that our government leaders won’t sit in a room, fight it out, figure it out, and walk out of the room with a solution.
I share that frustration.
I try to imagine what it would be like to be one of those leaders, but I can’t picture it.
I’m a leader in an organization of 1,300.  I know what it’s like to walk into a room with my colleagues, knowing that a fight is coming, knowing that someone’s going to yell, someone’s going to cry, I’m going to get red splotches all over my neck and jaw, we’re going to disagree, we’re going to spend hours in that room, and we’re eventually going to emerge from the room with a plan. 
But I also know what makes it possible for us to enter that room and fight, argue, cry, splotch, disagree, stra…

A Crooked, Depraved, Polluted World

I hate listening to hype on the radio and watching it on TV.  I hate the way public personalities use their power to prey on the fears in people's heads, to spread doom and gloom, to raise anxiety, and to catalyze extreme, desperate behavior.

For sure, there are huge problems in our world at this very moment--problems that cost people their lives and their livelihoods.

But it's not new. 

It's not new, but it's been news for as long as I can remember.  And it's been news longer than that.  

In undergrad, I minored in History and did a study of Religion in Antebellum America for one of my American History classes.  While researching, I read a sermon from that time period and was struck by the doom and gloom, "the world's going to hell in a hand basket" rhetoric--because it sounded EXACTLY like what I'd heard from many people from many public platforms in my own lifetime.

It's goes back much further than Antebellum America.

Whom do you think of when yo…

Choosing to Celebrate

Like most moms, I think, I choose to dwell and to doubt, to give into guilt, most evenings.  As the day ends, I look around and see the laundry that didn't get put away, the trip to the gym that didn't happen, the project due in three weeks that needed attention today, but didn't get it, and the list goes on.

I don't think I have a Supermom complex.  I'm not terribly insecure.  This post isn't a cry for affirmation--really; it's not.

Tonight I'm choosing to celebrate instead, largely because tonight our family rallied to get some things right. But I'm also aware that I'm making a choice.  It's my choice to reflect on my evening with joy and pride instead of dwelling on the things that didn't happen.  

Here's what did happen tonight that I'm celebrating...

We ate dinner together.  French onion soup and wedge salads for the adults--bistro fare at home, homemade, a tad healthier than a bistro and a lot cheaper.  The kids ate dinner …

Six Septembers

Fall is my favorite.  I love the sights, smells, tastes, and traditions.  I especially love sunny fall days with a slight breeze and a crisp chill.  I get nostalgic on days like that.
September recently ended, and I found myself reflecting a lot as fall began.  Particularly, I reflected on September 2007.  Here’s what happened in my life at that time:
I started my final year of seminary, but I dropped down to part-time student and raised my hours working at church.
I traveled with Sammy, Brian & Susan, and Tim & Kathy to Calvary Baptist in Belize City.  That spring our church had taken a bunch of money and a bunch of people to Belize City to help construct their new church building.  In September we went to the Dedication of the finished product.
I, along with my husband, entered into debt for the first time in our marriage, and we went big.  We bought a house with exactly the floor plan we wanted.  We moved back to our hometown.  We moved a mile from church/work.
I got pregnant, …