Back-to-Something-Else

Back to my desk

For the first time in 21 years, neither one of our daughters are going back-to-school. Both are college graduates. Both are making inroads on the job market. Both are strong, lively, caring young women. But there’s no “Back-to-School” this year. It’s now “Back-to-Something-Else”!

From their public school days, I don’t miss the homework assignments that the student does not understand. I don’t miss the “creative” book report assignments. I sure as hell don’t miss the group projects. (And I suspect my daughters would agree!)

There’s plenty of appointments on my calendar. But there’s no dorm room to fill. No sweaty elevators or staircases. No jaunt to buy desk supplies or refills for the printer. No awkward good-byes (and tears by Mom in the car on the way home). 

I gotta tell ya, it feels a little weird. 

Ok, a lot weird. But in a good kind of way. 

Now our years now fall into the natural seasons of Creation. The year doesn’t reboot in September every year. Instead, each new day is a new start. 

I’ve put a new practice back in my life called The Daily Examen. You can use the website or an app (scroll to the bottom for the links). You can write out your own questions for daily reflection. It doesn’t matter how as long as you do it. 

When the house is quiet in the evening, I pause and do a mental reset. I wait. Sometimes I worry. I pray. Sometimes, I rage. But always, I feel re-engaged and ready for sleep. 

So whatever your fall season brings, I invite you to embrace it. With questions. With honest reflection. With integrity. And then with action. 

Wondering Woman 

It’s… Wondering Woman!


It’s Saturday. I have laundry to do, correspondence to send out, books to read and a sermon to write. I also have a head-pounding allergy headache. And what I really want to do is nap. Or garden. 

Mostly I’m just wondering how I’m going to fit everything in my day into my day. Wondering where I’ll find that source with a perfect “pithy quote” for my sermon. Wondering why an antihistamine that worked fine for years stopped working this spring. Wondering why people gotta be so stinky to each other!!

I’m Wondering Woman. And I lost my cape, sword and shield…

Look at my picture closely and you’ll see dirty dishes on the counter. Look even closer and you’ll find cat hair in the corners. (I think I got the cat hork all cleaned up. But you never know.)

Wondering Woman managed to get through the work week with everyone in the household alive and accounted for. I also saw God do big things in the lives of my hospice patients. And I had some gentle moments of encouragement and challenges to growth from people who know me well. 

Yes, I’m Wondering Woman.  Occasionally, (and by that I mean daily), I want to chuck it all in the river and float away, but the Spirit of God compels me. I’m picking up my sword and shield, not to attack, but to defend. Those bullets aimed at my self-confidence are all too Real. 

BAM. 

Another bullet blocked. 

If you’re sermon-writing, care-giving, child-chauffeuring, house-cleaning, or hammock-swinging today, don’t give up. Press on. And fight for the dear ones next to you. 

Now… where did I put that cape?

On mission… soli deo gloria!

Take a breath

  
At first glance
the snow is piling up
on branches and cars.
It’s not much
just enough to frost the world
in loveliness.

I watch
as fat flakes fall
and the sky brightens.
Time to start my day,
driving,
charting,
seeing patients,
offering prayers,
listening, and
waiting.

But first…
I take a breath
as I remember and reclaim
Whose I am
and offer thanks
for the beauty of this day.

A deep breath…
I feel peace and wisdom descend.

Blessed be.

Unfinished: A perpetual state of being

 

This blog started with a title that (occasionally) makes people wonder. “Are you a composer?” They ask.

Uh… No.

I was fascinated by the story of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony when I took music history in my undergraduate studies. He wrote the first two movements and sketched out a possible third one. Though he lived several years after beginning the composition, he never completed it. What frustration he must have felt…

I know that feeling. There are dreams and goals that I have in mind for the year ahead. I know that by the end of the year, some of them will not be completed. It’s hard to accept that I’m constantly a work “in progress.” The perfectionist in me doesn’t like it. The realist I me knows I have to get over it.

We all have to learn how to live within the tension. I’ve thought a lot about this, and decided that I am more successful when I enjoy every moment of the journey, every aspect of the creative process. Even this meditative coloring has beauty in its unfinished state as I remember God walks with me on each part of this journey.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
Isaiah 43:1-3a NIV

NaBloPoMo: Happy New Year (C) Resolution

In the liturgical calendar, the “new year” actually starts with Advent, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It always catches me a little by surprise, even though I know when the holidays fall on my calendar. It is with the “new year” theme in mind, that the Revgals offer this prompt:

NaBloPoMo Day 22: What’s your spiritual resolution for Year C?

 

I have two resolutions and they are very intertwined…

  1. to “finish strongly” with our present congregation, Church in Bethesda
  2. to “begin humbly” with a new church family, wherever it will be, in 2016.

It’s hard for me to write about the process our church is going through right now. I have been a part of its leadership, serving in various  capacities, preaching very infrequently, and loving the saints God brought through the doors. There was, as Carrie Newcomer sings, “Room at the Table for everyone.”

There was a radical welcome, but it was not enough. A convergence of problems signaled it was time for a change.

In the last eighteen months, we lost about half of our regular attendees due to transfers and moves to other parts of the country. We were not able to retain a large enough congregation to meet our budget and do some necessary capital improvements and repairs. And we couldn’t afford to keep Todd, our lead pastor, full-time. In the midst of the swirl of changes within our church, God was leading Todd into the discernment process  with The Episcopal Church. Our Sunday worship will morph into something new and, as of yet, unknown.

 

So I stand in the swirl of the the liturgical year and the calendar year in a peak of emotions and wonderings… knowing that God is in the mix and I am, without a doubt, completely loved.

And for now, that is enough.

IMG_9923

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 

I Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)