Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Power in Gratitude

Right now, I sit in the cool relief of a coffee shop, thankful for a retreat from the 100+ degree heat, and safe from the storm that downed trees and power lines all over the city.  Our own house remains dark and the temperature is rising as our power has now been off for over 17 hours, with speculation that it may not be repaired for 4 to 6 more days.  John and the kids have headed to my in-laws' until the power is restored, and I'm staying at home as I have to return to work on Monday after a two-week break, and our dog will also need care.  It's easy to become frustrated, and I've lost my temper, patience, and positive spirit several times today already (sorry, family).  So I've decided it's time to express some gratitude to keep it all in perspective:

1.  In spite of the noisy 80mph gusts of wind last night and no a/c, the kids managed to sleep through it...all night long.

2.  We have friends and family offering help, shelter, and care.

3.  So far, the house temperature is still tolerable (grateful for the windows we've replaced and the insulation added).

4.  I have this coffee shop retreat.

5.  Thanks to John's initiative, the half-dead tree towering beside our house was cut down LAST week, saving our home (and likely our lives) from yesterday's destructive storm.

6.  Our property sustained just minor damage (a medium-sized portion of a tree down on our fence, lots of broken limbs, and a few missing shingles).

7.  We all have shelter, and food, and resources to take care of ourselves.

8.  Our house is located right next to the electric company, which gives me the (false) hope that our power will be restored quickly (although experience proves otherwise).  I'll hang on to what I can, though.

9.  Our family and friends fared well through the storm.

10.  I'll now have lots of time to catch up on reading!

11.  God is good.  Grateful for this reminder again.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What is torn down, and what remains

 There are things that are too hurtful or risky or dangerous that must be torn down.  Although they seem too imposing or have hung around for so long that it just seems easier to let them keep hanging on, it is time to release them.  Then the hard and long work begins of chopping away, the exterior, and then the interior, until the mess of it all lies around you.

As you pick your way through the splinters, you remember what was and mourn, even though it was not something you wanted to keep.  It had become part of you, and now the change is a little terrifying.  The view is a little too open.  The familiar is fractured into pieces and the new is still uncertain, unformed.

But there is freedom on the horizon, if you just look up, look ahead instead of behind.  New worlds will be built, one fresh stick at a time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A picture of (childlike) faith

Dripping wet, all of his 35 pounds shivering with cold and excitement, he turns to me and asks, "Can we do it again?"  We are stepping out of the baptistry and his smile is beaming as my heart grows bigger and bigger.  My son Brady is six and I've just had the privilege of baptizing him.  Years down the road, when I'm once again questioning my calling, I pray that this image will come to mind, my hand on his wet head in love and blessing, his face glowing with joy.

This boy, heart of my heart, is a child of God.  As I spoke the words of commitment and blessing, for a moment I was not just his mother, I was a minister, a representative of Christ, entrusting this precious life into the hands of God and our congregation.  I am now his sister in faith, joined not just by blood, but by water and the spirit, as I am with all those who profess their faith as Brady did, "I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior".  I am joined with my pastor, Donna, who also had the joy of baptizing her daughter the same day.  A shared second birthday for our two, and a shared gift of ministry, motherhood, and friendship for us.

Some question Brady's age and what he is capable of understanding.  I humbly admit that after 29 years as a Christian and 13 years as a minister, I know little to nothing.  My answers to his questions of faith were stumbling, halting, uncertain, and yet...there is no doubt that Brady is God's beloved, that the Spirit is working in his young and precious life.  My son's tenderness and love have so often been reminders of God to me; his spirit and his curiosity stir my soul.  His very faith and desire is an inspiration for me to keep learning and growing with him.

And a little child will lead them...

We are now on a new journey together, bound by Christ.  I stand ahead a little, knowing about the pain, and uncertainty, and darkness that he has not yet faced.  I want to shelter him, and yet, I know that this is his cup, too.  He, like me, has been buried with Christ in his death, and raised to new life in the resurrection.  And I pray, how I pray, that the new life will continue to grow and grow and grow...forever.  I hope that this moment will be forever etched in his heart as well, and when the tough times come, he will remember his baptism and the loving presence of God and God's children surrounding him.  I hope he will remember my hand on his head and remember that nothing, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(and with the picture, I couldn't resist sharing the video,