Starting Something New

August 29, 2013

We brought my old messenger bag up from the basement- the one I used during seminary with the clasp that you have to get lined up just right in order to release it. It was a bit dusty from years of sitting in a box. The piles of books still surround us on the floor of the bedroom and the floor of the basement. Only three boxes worth out of the 14-15 boxes still packed. In my quest to find the books for class, I found others I wanted to read or re-read or meant to read and forgot. And I couldn’t bear to put them back in boxes, suffocated by the darkness of the basement closet. But without bookcases, they live on the floor in piles. New pens, a freshly cleaned up laptop, and a winsome desire for an iPad with a keyboard that costs way too much money to buy right now. Clothes laid out, directions on gps, and the plan in my head for how tomorrow will go. I’m headed back to school.

Just for one class. Auditing really. Nothing too challenging, as I’ve already earned an MDiv and this is an MDiv ethics class. But I find myself nervous nonetheless, anxious about the homework and reading and conversations with people who haven’t been out of school for 9 years. Their minds might be sharper than mine, quicker to understand and perceive, whereas mine may reflect a slowness that comes both with age and maturity. Their tongues are already formed for the language of academia whereas mine has been shaped by the dailyness of pastoral ministry and toddler-speak. I have once again that familiar feeling of being the outsider, treading into the place where others are already comfortable and well-versed. And I realize I am selling myself short at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting to the Source

August 27, 2013

When I was very sick, I wanted to know why. I also wanted to know how to get well. Quickly. A few years ago, I had a form of cancer along with pancreatitis. So I asked these questions to whatever doctor I could talk to about my condition, trying to get to the bottom of it. I, fortunately, found a doctor who could not only help answer my questions, but also give me ways to live a healthier life, and while that never fully cured my health concerns, I can say that with his advice and support, I made significant lifestyle changes that have added quality to my life, halted some disease in its tracks, and helped me to live as healthy as possible even with the after effects of that traumatic medical emergency.

It sounds so easy when I re-read that paragraph above. But it wasn’t. Not only did I struggle with the anxiety of the illness, but I also worried that I might never be healthy again, or that they might uncover something more in the healing process. Those struggles are hard enough, but when you add in the reality that changing the way you live, think, exercise and eat, it gets REALLY HARD. We seem to be hard-wired to do some things some ways and sometimes, those hard-wired things are very destructive. Habits are hard to break and carving new disciplines in life is challenging work.

But I wanted to be healthy. Really, really healthy. And that kept me going, with lots of prayers and lots of tears.  I look back on that time now and see just how unhealthy my body, my heart, and my thoughts were. But that perspective has only come after getting through the difficulties. Read the rest of this entry »

Miley Cyrus

August 26, 2013

I did not watch the VMA’s. But I have seen the clips of both Justin Timberlake’s reunion with NSYNC (insert my jr high friend’s scream of joy here… not mine) and Miley Cyrus’ very… uh… interesting performance. I confess that I don’t keep up with recent developments in popular music, especially the artists whose main fan base is preteen girls. And so I can’t comment on Miley, her ability, her artistry, or really anything other than what I saw.

Amid the myriad of articles online today about her antics, amid the scornful tweets, amid my own cringing at the dancing, I was  asking, like many others, “why?” Why would a young woman do this? Unless we know Miley, we cannot really answer that question in earnest. We do not know her motives or thoughts, no matter how many people from Hollywood or Evangelicalism claim to. But I did wonder about some things.

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Practicing Gratitude

August 23, 2013

My little boy just popped out of bed at 4:50 am. Yes, 4:50 am. No matter that I had to be up at 5:15, the clock still has a 4 leading the time and that’s just insane by all accounts. So because I can be tempted to grumble when this occurs, I am, in my weary state, choosing gratitude. While shaking the sleep from my brain, here are things I am thanking God for as I drag myself from bed: Read the rest of this entry »

Feeling Like a Failure

August 22, 2013

When I left ministry, I left for various reasons. The day after my last day on the job, my son was born- a child we had fought hard to have. And it only seemed right that he have a parent with him for his first couple years of life. That was perhaps the biggest motivation. But I also left because I was tired, wounded, and depleted.

The previous two years had taken its toll. We had lost a child, dealt with cancer, struggled through pancreatitis, was left with thyroid disease, lost 25% of pay, followed by a lay off, and the stress of sudden unexpected infertility. Add to that we were working in a church revitalization project that wasn’t working. And that we had been isolated from any genuine community- a necessary ingredient for our souls- since we had moved to pastor this church.

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