Thursday, April 6, 2017

Staying still

It has been windy lately, and when it is windy I am reminded of my year teaching English in Japan.  I would ride my bicycle to the different junior high schools where I taught English, and in March and April it was so windy that I would be riding my bicycle and I would not be going anywhere because the winds were so strong.  I would be pedaling and pedaling, but not moving forward.  I am reminded of that experience often, especially during the time of Lent.  

We may have taken on a spiritual discipline in Lent or given something up in Lent. We wanted to do something to remember Jesus and to grow closer to God. For some folks, they feel like they have been doing their spiritual discipline or denying themselves something they enjoy, and they haven’t felt any difference in their spiritual life.  Or other people have eaten the chocolate that they were going to give up during Lent or they have stopped their spiritual discipline as life got busy and they have not been reading their Bible every day.  How often do we feel like we are pedaling and pedaling, but we are not moving forward?  When I get to that place of frustration, I remind myself to be still and to know that God is God (Psalm 46:10).  I am forgiven, and I can try again.  I am loved by God, and I can use the frustration that I feel to breathe in God’s grace and to know that God loves me.  

Staying still is not a bad thing.  Staying still can actually be a good thing.  When I stay still, I can feel God's Holy Spirit moving all around me. When I stay still, I stop and I listen.  When I stay still, I focus on being instead of doing. When I stay still, I breathe in God's peace and strength and love.  


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The journey

Last Wednesday I was not able to blog my weekly Lenten post because I was in Seattle with my family for Spring Break.  The wonderful thing about traveling together with your family is that you are stuck together.  If someone is grumpy, you have to figure out what to do.  How do you give them space?  How do you help? 

When I think about the best part about our time away, it wasn't the sights that we saw, the food that we ate, or the cousins we connected with (though that was a highlight).  The best part about our time away was the 24 hours a day that we were together.  There were no work or school obligations, no sports team practices, and no places to be.  We were able to spend time with each other, laughing, telling stories, being ourselves, and loving each other.  

One day we went whale watching.  We did have to set alarm clocks that day because we had to drive about an hour north to get to the boat.  The boat was going fast to try to find the gray whales.  The day before they had seen two gray whales, and the boat captain was talking to other whale watching boats trying to spot some whales but they could not find them.  I was disappointed.  This was supposed to be memorable and we had not seen anything. But the kids loved it.  They talked for days afterward about how fun the boat ride had been.  I had seen the trip as a flop because the goal had not been reached - we didn't see any whales!  But, the kids had focused on the process, they had focused on the journey and they had enjoyed it.  

So often in my life I have focused only on the end goal, and I have not enjoyed the journey.  As I let my light shine and follow my heart, my calling, and try to be or become who I am meant to be, I have to focus on the journey instead of only focusing on the end goal. My kids helped me to remember that to show love, forgiveness, kindness, and to be more like Jesus, I have to focus on the journey.  So often the disciples were frustrated with Jesus because he was talking to too many people, and he wasn't doing what they wanted him to do.  He was enjoying the journey. If they got to their destination, great, but Jesus was going to enjoy each step of the way.  

Traveling with my 12 and 9 year old children this week helped me remember also that time is precious and that before I know it, they will be all grown up.  I want to enjoy the boat ride.   


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Learn from others

This weekend was busy -  Confirmation/Youth overnight retreat, church, lacrosse game, and my mom and stepdad in town. By the time Sunday night came, I was tired. But, I got in the car and drove up to the church because Sunday nights at 5 p.m. during Lent we are having At the Table and In Conversation at Greenland Hills UMC.  I didn't want to miss our first night as we talked about our belief in God.  Yes, there were other places I could have been. Yes, there were other places that I wanted to be (the couch). But, I felt called to be at the church, sharing and learning with folks.  I am so glad that I went. We drew our image for God, and I was so blessed by what other folks drew. A tree, a sun, birds flying, and I drew a lap.  When I imagine God I see a lap that I can crawl into where I feel safe and warm, loved and protected.  I was so blessed by hearing how others view God. When other people share why they believe, it helps me to remember why I believe.

A few years ago I felt overwhelmed but I knew that once a particular project was completed, life would get back to normal.  But, after that project there was another project.  And throw in kid sport seasons, and it feels like there is no time to simply sit and be.  Sunday night gathered around tables with people from the church that I love, that challenge me, that make me better, I tried to simply sit and be and listen and learn from others.

During Lent I am blogging on Wednesdays and writing about following my heart, my calling, being or becoming who I am meant to be, who God created me to be, who I was put on this earth to be (thanks to Tesa Golden from Greenland Hills UMC for her original Facebook post about this).   So, as I think this Lent about honoring the sacrifices of Jesus, I want to show love, forgiveness, kindness, and be more like Jesus.  As Tesa said, "I want to SEE others and have them SEE me by letting my light shine."

In order for me to see others and have them see me, I have to show up.  I have to listen and learn from other people.  I saw a TED talk this week that has continued to rattle around in my brain.  It is Megan Phelps Roper sharing about growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church.  She talks about how we have to talk and listen to people we disagree with.  Here are her takeaways: 1. Don't assume bad intent.  2. Ask questions. 3. Stay calm. 4. Make the argument.

Shining my light today means that I am blessed to learn from others.  #ThisLittleLightOfMine

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Blogging during Lent, year 2...

I am hopeless at giving things up for Lent.  I remember one year it was day three of Lent and the cookie was in my mouth when my lovely daughter said, "I thought you were giving up sweets for Lent?"  So, last year I resurrected this old blog and blogged every Wednesday during Lent. I love to write.  Writing for me is therapeutic, it is meditative, it is prayerful, and I enjoy it!  So, blogging during Lent, year 2 begins...

Tesa Golden is a part of the Greenland Hills UM Church family and she and I have been praying about a movement during Lent.  It is a movement to do an act of kindness for another person every single day during Lent.  We wanted to document those kindness acts on social media with a hashtag.  We have been praying about it and the Holy Spirit kept nudging us both toward a particular hashtag.  This past weekend, we were praying about it and Sunday morning at 9 am worship our amazing pianist Robert and Minister of Worship Arts Kristi Hassell played a duet of This Little Light of Mine.  Tesa looked over at me and asked if I requested them to play that song.  No!  It was the Holy Spirit!  So, Holy Spirit, you win.  Our act of kindness during Lent hashtag is 

Tesa wrote on Facebook this morning, "I absolutely believe that we will change the world by following our heart, our calling, our inner wisdom, being or becoming who we are meant to be, who GOD created us to be, who we were put on this earth to be. 
In the past year I have gone from the exhausting task of trying to be who I thought the person standing in front of me wanted me to be to learning who I really am and showing up as that person to all who will see me. It's glorious and much easier! Not only has it changed me, but I believe that it has changed my family, my friends, and my community like a piece of the puzzle fitting in the right place makes the whole picture a little more complete.
Instead of giving something up for Lent this year to honor the sacrifices of Jesus, I want to try to show love, forgiveness, kindness to others and BE more like Jesus...I want to SEE others and have them SEE me by letting my light shine. 
So, regardless of your religious beliefs, will you shine your light with me at some point in the next 40 days? And will you share those experiences of how your callings are changing the world?"

Tesa, here is my story of sharing kindness for today.
This morning the dog woke me up at 4:45 am because she needed to go outside.  My alarm woke me up an hour later at 5:45 am. I was at the church by 6:40 am because we have a 7:00 am Service of Ashes for Ash Wednesday.  At 6:50 am everything was ready and I was questioning my sanity.  Who gets up this early to get ashes?  Why did I plan worship at 7 am?  I am not doing this next year!  I am tired!  I want to go home!

And then people began to come.  We had 10 bulletins and we 10 ten people.  Okay, God, okay, I get it. Sometimes I imagine God telling me to stop worrying about everything and to just show up.  Be present.  God will work it all out.  

The lesson for me today is about showing love, forgiveness and kindness to MYSELF by showing up.  Trusting in God that if I am present, if I give all of myself to whatever it is that I am doing, then God will use it for good.  

At 9 am I was standing by the doors as our Preschool families came for the day.  We were giving ashes to go and I realized that I should probably say something age appropriate to preschoolers that wanted ashes.  "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return" is a bit abstract for preschoolers.  So, I said to the preschoolers, "This cross reminds us that God loves us." 

This first day of Lent, may God remind me that God loves me and may God remind you that God loves you.  #ThisLittleLightOfMine