The Rock Piles of Ministry: Who Knew?



Behold. A rock pile.

Not just any rock pile. Oh, no! It’s taken years to get this pile of rocks.

There was a decent start to the pile when we moved in 22 years ago. As I dug new garden beds, I’d find rocks and add them. When we added a retaining wall, the landscape crew added to the rock pile. When we did a major remodeling of our home, the builder found even more. And when I installed a simple spiral labyrinth in the back yard, there were incredible amounts of rocks to toss on there, too.

Everyone was glad to have a place to discard the rocks. It was a lot easier than taking them to the landfill. Each contractor looked at me askance (at first) when I said, “if you find large rocks, I want them.” But since it was cheaper to reuse rather than remove them, there were no arguments!

I learned a lot along the way because of these rocks. Patience. Perseverance. Techniques of rock removal (yep! there are some!) Reality checks. And seeing progress and naming it for the hard work it takes.



Some of these rocks made my new landscaping projects very frustrating. At the start of building the labyrinth, I bent every single hand tool I owned because they were not up to the task of chiseling large rocks out of clay!

So now… those rocks are no longer discards!

It was with a bit of irony that I had to haul loads of these rocks back down the hill to grace the edges of a water feature we just installed this spring. Three wheelbarrows of rocks. (Yes. I counted.) And as I heaved and hauled and placed them, I had to laugh. Here they are. Being put to good use. Finally in their right place.


It made me ponder a perverse truth about Calling and ministry…

For any of us who battle ourselves, our environments, our churches, our relationships to be finally FINALLY brought to just that right moment of ministry… it’s seems like it will never work. We interview. We candidate. We preach. We study. We try to do our best, battling the odds like rocks in hard clay. We set things aside for another day, making a muddy hillside into a landscaping feature of a retaining wall of cast-off rocks. We try to see the beauty in what we do. We keep adding to the pile. And then… and then!!!!

Those rock piles of ministry are put to use. Those mossy, ignored, strengths that we have set aside in obedience, or sometimes, out of necessity and not by choice, they suddenly become relevant. And they are beautiful, in their right setting, at the right time.

I hear you, friends. I know your sense of relief. And a bit of wonder, too, that though we felt like we were forever gathering moss, perhaps even feeling useless, we will one day see a change!  For now… NOW is the appointed place and time God has for us. There’s stuff to do – even on a rock pile. And greater things are ahead.

And if you are still waiting, like me, marking time on the rock pile with a prayer of fatigue and longing, know this…

You are not a cast-off.

You are not a mistake.

You are not in the way.

You are called… press on!

…for such a time as this…


Multi-tasking my way into a mess…

I have a plan for today. Correction… HAD a plan.

Step one (after Reedy Girl left for school at O-dark-ridiculous and Bearded Spouse headed to work) was to do a quick change and refill of the fish tank. And while I was doing that, get some clean-up and pick-up done in the clutter-catching zone of the kitchen. It was a plan.


I didn’t clip the siphon’s hose to the inside of my bucket. It fell out as the bucket started to fill. But I didn’t notice. And since I didn’t hear the bucket “sound” like it was getting full, I forgot about it.

Until… I heard a funny “blub-blub-blub” sound. And a sizeable pool of stinky aquarium water was all over the dining room carpet.

[Expletive deleted.]

I finished the water change, cleaned up the mess, soaking and mopping up as much water as I could from the carpet. And then put two fans on the carpet and pad to try and dry them out.


Yeah, that’s going to take a while to dry out.

In the mean time, as I mopped and rinsed and mopped some more, I had some time to think about my habit of multi-tasking.

I’m usually pretty good at multi-tasking, and there are a LOT of things in this world that don’t require my undivided attention. For instance, doing dishes or laundry and chatting with family. Or maybe watching TV and scanning my emails.

But… so many times I am multi-tasking and not giving my full attention to things that matter. Like people. And slightly messy tasks like cleaning a fish tank.

And God. Even stopping for a time of daily prayer and reading, my brain can already be on a list of minutiae that I am trying to remember I need to do. And instead of really REALLY listening, focusing, and responding to the God-moments, I’m already half-way somewhere else.

The carpet will dry. The floor is fine. The fish don’t particularly care. The cats are fascinated by the smells. I’m just trying to remember to do one thing at a time today. That seems to be plenty.

Derp. Derp.

Yesterday was a crazy, busy day. Reedy Girl needs her passport renewed. She also had a pit orchestra rehearsal. I had a half day of CPE. There were multiple around-the-house chores to be done, like taking down the Christmas lights and decorations. And I have a 20 page consultation paper due, like, yesterday.

SO. I packed a lunch. Worked on my consultation paper while I waited for Reedy Girl to get out of school. Got her to the post office  late (after I stopped to pick up the forgotten paperwork and passport photos), meeting Bearded Brewer. Only to discover… they had us on a different day.

But… but… on my brainiac phone (not necessarily smart) I had it on my calendar for January 6th.

No. We are down on their calendar for Jan. 13th. And both parents do not need to be present for a child over 16.

I took Reedy Girl back to rehearsal and went home and looked at my calendars. You know, the paper kind. One said it was on the 6th. The other said it was on the 13th. Bearded Brewer checked his personal calendar, and it said the 13th.

I felt lousy for messing up 3 people’s days, and then being confident that the post office employee messed up the date.

Derp. Derp. Yup. It was 99% likely it was my fault.

So, what do you do when you have one of these Derp. Derp. moments? You stop. You pray. You apologize. And then you try again. It was a dose of humble pie. My least favorite, but most necessary flavor.

It’s not often we get a do-over. But I did. And I’ll extend the same to you. Just remind me. “Post office.” That’ll do it.

It’s a easy as…

It’s as easy as… backing a trailer.

Recently I have been trying to be a writing coach and personal organizer to my progeny. The organizer part I can do. Well, sort of. The writing coach part, not so good. There’s certain things that I do well, and seem to do them instinctively. How do you teach instinct? You don’t.

Even if I give a step-by-step, there’s really no substitute for experience, dang it. Practice makes perfect. Or may it should be “practice makes better rough drafts.”

I just decided that this “writing” business is very much like backing a trailer. Anyone can do it, with enough practice, enough patience, and the right skill set.

It also helps if you know left from right… kinda like writing.


That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!