Archive for the 'pondering' Category

we are all in ministry

one of the things i love about being part of a methodist church is that when we join we take a membership vow that says we promise to uphold the church (meaning Christ’s bride) and this particular local congregation through “our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.”  we reaffirm these vows anytime someone joins our local church. but i’m not sure we always fully understand what that vow means especially as it comes to service.

despite all its flaws, fallacies, and foibles, i love the church. i love that God created us to be communal people and that through the church we have a way to live that out. but i think all too often the combination of  our consumerist society and the professionalization of all aspects of ministry, we have forgotten that we have all been granted gifts and talents and by our Creator that are meant to be used for ministry and in service of our community. quite simply, either we forget or never understand, we are all in ministry.

small group at retreat

in my case, i have some solid event planning and marketing skills. a couple of the pastors at our church are aware of this gift mix in me and asked me to lead our all church retreat. not only was i happy to have an opportunity to serve, i was able to serve in a way that let me use my natural gifts and talents. i had a blast and the retreat went well. it was a way for me to take what i do vocationally and use it for ministry. over the last year, i’ve also had the opportunity to use my gifts to serve my neighbors in the community by getting involved in promoting some positive outcomes on health and safety issues facing the community. again, i used my skills to serve and this service is a way for me to reflect Christ’s love in my community–a way to minister.

it doesn’t matter what our passion and skills are–there is a place for them to be used in service to the Church and your community and in doing so, we step into ministry. through sharing ourselves and skills and talents, we can reflect Jesus and the sharing and serving become ministry.

churches and communities alike are desperate for people to stand up and say like Isaiah, “here i am! send me!”  what are ways you can offer your skills and talents to serve your church and community?



i spent most of the month of february voiceless. i had a horrible round of viral laryngitis which left my voice completely inaudible for a good 2 weeks; hoarse or barely audible the rest of the time. it’s just been in the last 2 days that my voice has sounded mostly normal. it’s not unusual for me to have laryngitis occasionally, but i’d never had a round of it like this. the inability to physically speak for most of a month despite other ways to communicate was surprisingly isolating and physically struggling to be heard left me pondering being heard emotionally and spiritually.

it happens when i’m out to lunch with a friend catching up in person and then we’re interrupted by a tweet reply or a text or a facebook message and we find ourselves distracted. or maybe i actually use the phone function and call a friend to ask a quick question and end up catching them in a moment where they need to talk but i don’t have the time. these exchanges happen far more often than i’d like to admit, both on the receiving and giving end of the scenarios. when i’m the one who’s been distracted from the friend sitting in front of me or didn’t really have time to listen when i called, i feel guilty. often not in the moment, but when i reflect on it later. and i probably haven’t properly apologized to those to whom i’ve done it. and i know when i’m the one cut short or put on hold, it’s easy to feel dismissed, disconnected, unheard, voiceless.

it also happens in at church. all too often, especially when i’ve been on a church staff, church is often one more place where i feel compelled to “have it all together”. i’m afraid to admit my personal failings and struggles. and sadly, i’m even more afraid to admit my questions and doubts. i’m afraid of appearing not good enough or not faithful enough or too messy. church should be one of the safest places to admit our failings and struggles and questions and doubts.

i have two lingering questions coming out of this month of laryngitis: how can i best create spaces to truly hear the ones i’m with and honor their voices? and how can i make church a safer place to voice the messier bits of life and faith?


pondering prayer

as i write this i have three friends and their families dealing with difficult health issues–one is in hospice with a brain tumor, one is recovering from a serious car wreck, and one is in icu after suffering a major stroke just yesterday.

i’ve been spending quite a lot of time in prayer for each of these friends–and for their families. especially the families–it’s horrible and awful to watch someone you love in any of those situations.

all of these friends live cross-country from me so i’m not able to offer child care, meal prep, or even a physical hug–the things one often does for a friend in crisis. i am only able to offer a text, call or email and my prayers.

and intellectually i know that prayer is the most important thing i can offer these friends. i can enter the throne room and intercede with the king for these friends. and despite that knowledge, i still feel helpless–as though my prayers are simply not enough.

i know other people experience this feeling as well. so the question i’m pondering about prayer tonight, why is it that the most important thing we can tangibly do for a friend-pray-can feel like we aren’t doing enough?

what do you think? ever dealt with this sensation?

100 days

i was looking at my calendar tonite and realized it’s been 100 days since i made the move from san diego to nashville. i’m a little in shock that it’s been that long. and at the same time, it still doesn’t quite feel real that i live here.

there are some signs that i really live here:

but there are 3 really important ways which make this not feel real yet:

  • i haven’t found a church home
  • i’m only just starting to meet people
  • i’m still not fully settled into my condo. it still needs a couple bookcases, a couch (having a hard time finding one i love), and to get through the last of the boxes. plus there are a few shelves to hang and some painting to trim & touch up.
  • i’m still homesick for san diego

back in 2000 when i made the move from tulsa to san diego, a wise co-worker told me to give myself a year to get over being homesick and a second year to fall in love with the place. it was true for that move and i’m reminding myself of this sage advice in the process of this move.

have you moved cross-country? what were the things or events that made the new locale feel like home?

confessions of a scaredy-cat

a theme started emerging in december: don’t be afraid. i simply chalked it up to being a theme in the christmas story. but then i noticed it popping up in other places in my life. i realized a number of the books and movies i’d enjoyed the most this year had a theme about people taking risks, starting new, overcoming fears.

for christmas, a friend gave me julia child’s auto-biography ‘my life in france’. and once again the theme popped up. this time phrased as ‘be fearless’. of course, julia is specifically speaking to cooking and says, ‘learn how to cook–try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!’

this feels a little like a mash-up of some verses i’d like to try to embrace this year. biblically, we’re told ‘be not afraid’ quite a lot. or at least the bible characters were being told that, but i think it’s meant for us too. we’re also told to live abundantly. and i think they go hand-in-hand. it seems a little difficult to have or enjoy life abundantly if you’re scared.

i’m a scaredy-cat. scared of being hurt, hurting someone else or disappointing them. of not doing enough for others, of not doing enough for myself, of failing. and a lot of my fears have been quite practical lately: finding a job, where i’ll live when i do, finances. and my fears sometimes leave me a bit paralyzed. i spend too much time thinking, analyzing, trying to project all possible outcomes. or i’m afraid i won’t be able to do something perfectly or that i’ll fail and i miss the window of opportunity.

mike yaconelli, who i had the privilege of working with and for, is remembered as saying “jump first, fear later.” so with mike, julia and the bible behind me, my goal is to be less afraid. or at least not let my fears hold me back. i’m not really sure how this is going to work, but hopefully this post is a small step in the right direction.

because after endings come beginnings

one month and one day ago, i was laid off from my job at ys along with 13 others. yesterday was officially my last day as a ys employee. it is the ending of a dream job that lasted nearly 9 years.

my time at ys has been amazing and such a gift in so many ways. i’ve met, worked with and become friends with a wonderful and slightly wacky group of people and have ended up with friendships that will continue long into the future. i’ve had the privilege of serving youth workers from all kinds and sizes of churches and have learned from and been blessed by the stories of so many. i’ve been able to work with youth ministry professors and students through the ys academic support network and had more fun and learned more from them than i would have ever imagined! i spent time with denominational youth ministry leaders and loved connecting with them just because of how much they wanted to encourage and equip youth workers. and then there are the dozens of youth workers who’ve volunteered at the conventions who’ve become friends and with whom so many memories have been created. (for some reason, the one that popped into my head was my fake birthday courtesy of scott riley & friends!)

of course there are all the ways i’ve grown professionally. for example, i can pack, label and shrink wrap a pallet. not a skill i had before going to ys. seriously tho, i can’t begin to list or describe all i learned at ys. it’s rather diverse. for example, in addition to the pallet packing, i leave with skills ranging from basic html programming and database management skills to the ability to create direct marketing strategies and direct art for ads and campaigns.

finally, i leave ys more confident, more comfortable in my own skin. and with a richer faith that is simultaneously more simple and more complex.

the ending of my season of life at ys is truly bittersweet. there is a part of me that is heartbroken. i have truly loved being able to serve with youth workers alongside an amazing team of people. i will deeply miss working with this team and serving youth workers on a daily basis. somehow though, alongside the sad, is the hope and excitement of what is about to begin. i’m starting to see some clues in some opportunities to do some freelance work by which i’m both excited and challenged and in an least one opportunity to do some speaking. all of the opportunities that have turned up so far were completely unexpected and totally show God’s hand.

i used to tell people who would ask me about working ys that for most of us who worked there, it was a crazy God thing that we ended up there–something that was especially true for me. and so in this ending, i can’t help but believe that God is in this too, just waiting to show me what else in my life is ready to begin.

quote of the day

just came across this quote. i love it.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
Mother Theresa of Calcutta

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