MaryBeth at RevGals has this week’s prompt:
I’m looking forward to a good summer…my husband feels well, I am taking on some new challenges, I have a new church home, and overall I feel like I am moving in some new directions. When I saw this sculpture, I felt a kinship with this woman (though I cannot to a lotus pose like that…not yet, anyway). The sculpture is called “Expansion” by Paige Bradley. You can read more about it and its creation here.
For today’s Friday Five, share five occasions or events in your life that have been turning points…when you have felt like a new thing was being born. You can refer to the birth of children, career, your kitchen garden, or whatever moves you.
1. Music: The story from my parents is that I was standing and singing along to my older sibs’ practicing before I was out of my crib. So I started piano lessons early, and sang in a choir for as long as I can remember. It’s what touches my heart and soul. While I’m not engaged in an official capacity or in any performing group right now, listening to music is a way that I center and one of the primary ways that I “sing back” to God.
2. Family Losses: I was 13 when my big brother died in an accident. In my young adult years, all four of my grandparents passed away. (It is a true blessing that I knew and spent lots of time with my grandparents in my growing up years… and why their deaths impacted me so.) Wrestling with the whys and wherefores of their declines (a range of cancer, Parkinson’s, and longevity) was the first of my questioning of God, life, death and grace. With my dad’s death in 2000 from lymphoma, and my brother-in-law’s last year from ALS, I again had to ponder (and be dissatisfied with) what I understood to be true about suffering, faith and grace (or theodicy, if you want that fancy-pants term.) It continues to be a formational part of my life.
3. Marriage: I can’t imagine life without the man I lovingly call “The Bearded Brewer.” I’ve lived with him longer than I lived with my parents. We’ve learned a lot on this road of 26+ years. That’s a grand gift of God.
4. Children: I know I brag about them endlessly. I try not to embarrass them or put them in sermons without their permission. 🙂 Our two lovelies are growing up to be the strong, caring, loving, bright women we had prayed for. I have made many mistakes along the way, but I’ve been blessed many times over by being their mom.
5. Calling: I resisted it. Denied it. Agreed with a fundamentalist church leadership who told me, after a broken engagement to a future missionary, that “women should not be in seminary unless they are married to a pastor or missionary.” So I listened to them, instead of listening to God, and dropped out of seminary. A member of that leadership later wrote me a note (perhaps out of guilt or conviction by the Holy Spirit?) and advised me to reread Gamaliel’s advice to the Sanhedrin:
“…If their plan or activity is of human origin, it will end in ruin. If it originates with God, you won’t be able to stop them. Instead, you would actually find yourselves fighting God!” (Acts 5:38b-39 CEB)
Years later, when I was told by three wise Christian leaders, in three different settings, that I was not listening to God’s Call on my life, those words came back. I was fighting God. It was time to acquiesce to the Spirit. Years of listening, praying, waiting, finally attending seminary and wrestling until I knew the place God wanted me – as a chaplain. A companion in joys and sorrows. A spiritual friend. A worshipper of the unlikely ways God works. And here I am today… walking and serving and living by Grace.
A BONUS: Over the years, I’ve noticed and tried to collect photos of what life in God’s grace means. Sometimes they are pictures of struggle, sometimes of victory. The one that grabbed me as I clicked through a few photos this morning was this one: