Saturday, November 22, 2003

Another day down the drain. I guess I could chalk it up to resting, 'Sabbath' or just general pamper-yourself time, but I do too much of that. I did manage to go pick up a Christmas tree that had been donated to my youth group. that was kind of fun. My husband and son are watching a football game--Actually, Pat is watching the game and enjoying some kind of emotional overload orgy on every play. Alex is just kind of hanging around waiting for it to be over.

I'm having some real struggles with my ministerial candidacy. On one hand, I'm really antsy to move on from what I'm doing now, but I can't stand the thought of leaving my kids. That would be so hard on them. (Or at least I think it would. Part of me kind of hopes that it would.) I think I'm just really tired of not being taken serously. What I've identified lately is a real longing for legitimacy. I'm tired of being overlooked, or regarded as a dilettante or second-rate, or not really worth paying attention to. Is that egotistical? Do I lack humility. Does this reveal an unhealthy longing for power that is inappropriate for a minister? I'm not ever sure I know right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Time to get back to my personal blog. I've set up two group ones recently for different groups and they've kind of siphoned off my blog time and efforts, but I need to get back to my personal space. It's kind of ironic, but I haven't told anyone in these groups that I have this personal blog. I think it's because I don't want people who know me to be checking here to see what I'm saying about them. Is that paranoid or what?

Thursday, April 10, 2003

OK. I'm feeling much better now. I just watched this little Kikkoman figh song (thank you Dave Barry) and it made me laugh out loud. Fight!Kikkoman I always knew that the real world was surreal, but there's always some new strangeness out there to find.

It's good to be back after being gone for a month. So much for Lenten discipline. It's amazing how just when you think you've got everything under control, something--small or large--comes along to blow everything out of whack. And no, I'm now talking about the war in Iraq, though that would certainly do it all by itself.
In my case, the world whacker is a more personal tragedy--a car accident that killed my uncle and injured my aunt. I'm still processing it, as I'm sure I will be for a long time. How do you come to terms with these sudden, irrevocable life changes? You want to do it a little at a time, and for those around the edges--like me and my immediate family--you can. But for people deeply in the center like my aunt and her children, you don't have that luxury. All you can do some days is just keep breathing, keep living and let life find it's new path.

I just don't want to hear another person say "It makes you think." one more time. If it takes a tragedy like this to make you understand the fragility of life then your life is probably wasted on trivialities. How many tragedies do you have to see around you to understand that. Each moment, each person, is a gift not to be taken for granted. That IS the point.

Oh well. Enough. I'm ranting now so I think I will just shut up for today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

My Lectio reading for today (actually from the One-Minute Bible for Students) opens with Psalm 104: 31-34:
May the glory of the Lord last forever
The Lord rejoices in all he has made!
The earth trebles at his glance;
the mountains burst forth into flame at his touch.
I will isng to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!
May he be please by all these thoughts about him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.

The commentary talks about the difference between happiness and joy. It says that happiness is dependent on circumstances but that joy is a continuing attitude that doesn't change when situations change. I find it interesting to apply this to God. Psalms says that the Lord rejoices in all he has made--a continuing joy that doesn't disappear no matter how much we mess things up or disappoint him. I think that explains a lot.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Today's Meditation
My reading today starts with Psalm 33:1-4. In that, verse 4 really jumps out at me.
For the word of the Lord holds true, and everything he does is worthy of our trust. (Italics mine)
Not just the stuff we like, or the stuff that fits in with our plans, but everything He does. Even the stuff that is so far out of whack with what we want that it seems like it's not God's doing. Everything He does is worthy of our trust. But we make the choice to trust or not. God's grace and love are eternal and unchanging. Our joy, our response to that, is, to some extent at least, under our control. Lately I've gotten to know many unhappy people. And the thing is--they have no apparent reason to be unhappy. They have their basic needs met, people who care about them-enough even to care about them when they are doing nothing but complaining. They have families, health, church, jobs, all they things we think we need and they still radiate unhappiness. How sad. Sometimes, I know, it's not under their control and we all have unhappinesses in our lives that are unavoidable and not visible to others. But these people are unhappy about minor things--they just don't like this or that, all the time. No matter what God or anyone else does, it's never good enough. Dear God, remind me that my joy is just that, MY joy and that when I find myself unhappy about everything around me maybe it's not what's around me but what's inside me that needs the adjustment.

Monday, March 10, 2003

I am so sleepy I can just barely focus. This is really wierd, because I didn't get to sleep all that late last night. I have noticed, however, how often Sunday just leaves me drained. Even before I started to work in the church--which means that Sunday is a work day for me, not a Sabbath--I would still often start the week exhausted from all the church activities on Sunday. Something is badly wrong with this. The only people I know anymore who end up Sundays refreshed are the ones who have no place at all for church in their life. Why is it that the only people who don't rest on God's day of rest anymore are God's people? How does that work? And, more importantly, what can we do about it?

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Ranting about Revelations
OK. Step back from the screen, just in case lightning strikes or something. But, I have to say this. I am sick to death with this fascination with the Book of Revelations. I don't have any desire to study Revelations. I don't want to teach it to my kids. I DON'T REALLY CARE. And I don't see why anyone else does either.
That said, let me elaborate. It increasingly seems to me that all this fascination with Revelations, Daniel, all the other end-times prophecies is a nothing more that a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME! Isn't it hard enough to live the parts of the Bible you understand without spending all that energy on things that are a) not understandable b) you couldn't influence even if you did understand it and c) are not likely to impact you life. Shouldn't that effort go into living simply, showing compassion, noticing and valuing every single person you come in contact with? Isn't that hard enough. I have yet to meet anyone who can live up to the commands to love God and love your neighbor. Why waste you focus on what the mark of the beast will look like? I just don't understand the fascination.
It seems most to me like a convenient diversion. As long as I'm putting all my time and attention on the end times, I don't really have to worry about my day-to-day life. I mean, who has the time? I can still be righteously spending all my time in Bible study without actually hving to do through the discomfort of living in accordance with the Scriptures. Who has time to care for your neighbors when they are on their way to heaven tomorrow?
It just drives me crazy when I read about yet another "great study on Revelation." Who out there even lives the Beatitudes well enough that they should be moving on to the really mysterious stuff?
Reading back, I realize that this sounds really shrill and hateful. Once again, I'm overstating my case. What I really want to say is that the realy challenge of Christian life is living the life, today. Putting all your effort and attention into the future seems all too often to be just anouthe way of avoiding the call. And this is an especially insidious diversion because it has the extra twist of appearing like true devotion while still allowing you to avoid the pain of truly chaning.
Walk the walk today, and let the end times take care of themselves.
Computer Games
I swore off computer games for Lent and it's killing me! I know that it's petty and it sounds really petty, but I hadn't realized how often I use the excuse of a quick game or this or that to build in a five-minute break into my day or to keep me occupied while I did something kind of mindless (like waiting on hold on the phone). The question now is, how can I use that time and attention to deepen my spiritual walk? How can I grow closer to God by not playing computer games?
I'd rather just go play a quick hand of solitaire and not think about it.
Maybe that IS the point.

Friday, March 07, 2003
Perfect love casts out fear.
What a great thought (idea?, saying?, truth?) I've finally reached a point in my life where I don't fear things as much as I used to. I don't worry as much about whether or not people like me--because I have learned that no matter what I do, some people won't like me.
I have learned to worry less about tomorrow--because most of the time I can only cope with what comes. I can't control what's coming because I have no idea what it's going to be. So worrying about what's ahead is mostly just a waste of time because whatever happens is usually different from what I anticipated anyway.
Even with all that I've learned, though, I still find plenty to fear. No matter where I turn and what I learn I still find new things to fear. Right now, my biggest fear is that I will fail in my ministry. And that my failure will not hurt me but the kids entrusted to my care. Sometimes it feels like too much. But I have also learned in the last 18 months that the more I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of disaster is when I can finally let go and rely on God. And it turns out OK. So, now all I have to do is learn to trust God before I'm teetering on the edge.

(BTW, this blogging stuff is much harder to do at home--where my husband is watching television, my son is wrestling with the dog, & my daughter is tuning her ukelele, all at the same time. But I guess everyone else already knew that.)

Thursday, March 06, 2003

OK. I'm losing my mind. I just wrote this hearfelt, sensitive meditation on Psalm 42--and then I apparently clicked the wrong button and it all disappeared. This is not fun. But it has to get better, right?

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Mar. 5, 2003
Blogging for Lent
I'm starting this blog as part of my Lenten discipline of maintaining a journal. I know that a blog and a journal aren't precisely the same, but the pressure to publish every day may give my the push I need to maintain regularity. Who knows where their life & thoughts will lead in the long run, but for now, I expect it to start with some meditations (some on Bible passages, some not) and then wander off on paths of it's own.

This first thought is a meditation from January that I've shared with several others. It seems to hold significance for many people, but oddly enough, means something a little bit different to each person who reads it.

Watering the Desert
When a desert suddenly gets water, even just a little bit, it bursts out in a profusion of growth. But, the water often doesn’t last and neither does the growth.

The only way a desert can cease to be a desert is to obtain a continuing source of water-it may be from rain, a river, or a well, but something has to change in the landscape for the climate for the desert to be permanently changed.

If we are living in a spiritual desert, we have to find a way to change our spiritual landscape in order to regularly receive the water we need to have growth. We have to find a way to dig a well, tap into a river or even purify water from the sea. Whatever it is, we have to draw water from God’s river of life into our lives regularly, daily even, in order to nurture tender new growth and strengthen old, established trees.

Digging the well, diverting water from the river-these are hard work, work that takes many days, a little at a time. It takes a while to reach the water, time that you put in the effort without necessarily seeing any rewards. But, if you keep on digging the ditch, a little each day, eventually the water breaks through, the desert is watered and the landscape changes permanently.
January 2003