I am just getting home from an annual conference for Covenant pastors. I’m tired and content and curious about how I will catch up on sleep before my husband leaves me home with a now three year old while he goes to his conference. I have work to do- writing and coaching and I’m sure there’s a sermon or two I need to write coming up quicker than I want to acknowledge. But in light of a very good conference, I am thinking only on a few things. My brain is occupied with all the deliciousness of questions.

And one question I have involves clashing realities. Working right now as a coach for pastors and sometimes even church leadership teams and whole congregations, I know things that I think I knew before, but not quite so personally. I know that in a room full of a thousand pastors- pastors of all stripes and flavors- the vast majority of them are really quivering and aching behind the quick smile and firm handshake and hands raised while singing loudly. I know that when many pastors say, “Things are fine,” they are lying. Or at least in their heads, they are adding a lot of conditions to their answer. “Things are fine… Except for my marriage. Except for my kid. Except for my complete insecurity. Except for my worry over money. Except that my ministry is failing. Except that my church is hollowing out my soul with their expectations and criticism. Except for my addiction. Except for my anger at God. Except for the crushing reality that pastoring is nothing like the ‘brochure’ or ‘commercial,’ and I’m so incredibly bored and disappointed.”

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Making Me Proud

January 29, 2014

I love being surprised. Well, I love being surprised by good things at least. I had taken my weary mind on a plane to Chicago for the annual pastors conference I always go to, and even though the conference was just about to start with the Monday night banquet, I was already feeling the itchiness of introversion. Wanting to go up to my hotel room and sleep, play a game on my iPhone, read a book. But my itch would have to wait. The banquet was happening whether I was ready or not.

I found a colleague and an empty seat next to him and was catching up on his story of the last year when someone grabbed me from behind. I turned to see this young woman I had walked with as she finished high school and entered college. A young woman who had sat across from me many countless times, chips and salsa between us or coffee cups to in our hands, discussing the questions of life and spirituality that echoed in the caverns of her mind. A young woman who loves Jesus and it shows, but who wrestles constantly with what loving Jesus means for her life.  Read the rest of this entry »


January 21, 2014

The other Sunday I was called in as an emergency preacher for a friend who has been very sick. I love his congregation and always enjoy preaching there, so I jumped at the chance. Of course it was Friday when we worked it out and I didn’t have time to write a fresh sermon, so I pulled out one I had preached a couple months before at another place. A sermon on God’s love. 

I will admit that sometimes I have an internal reaction to hearing “God’s love” spoken again and again. It brings up so many memories of people who claimed to be acting in God’s love when they did horrible things. Or it brings up the TV image of a football fan holding a poster board that quotes john 3:16 over the end zone at a game. Or it conjures up the line of signs I see each month as I head out of town to a meeting, signs which start with “God is love” and end with “You are going to hell.” And somehow in between we move from love to judgment in less than a half mile. 

This isn’t a blog about hell and judgement though. It’s a blog about love. And not about just this surreal, fantasy-like, taken-for-granted type of love, but about a love that I now know is more real than the air that I breathe. Let me first share with you some back story:

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Learning to Pray

January 17, 2014

My son is sick. He has been for quite some time. It has been exhausting in so many ways to have a child be so sick and no answers. It has been exhausting waiting for answers. And when the answers finally came at the beginning of last week, the exhaustion was renewed with the reality that so many things would need to change in order for him to recover his health. And throughout it all, my pillow has seen many tears- the ones held back in daytime hours. And in the security of my bedroom, or the front seat of the car, or in the deep of my mind while grocery shopping, prayer for my boy has been a constant.

I don’t think I knew how to pray until I became a parent.

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