The Limp

April 25, 2014

I walk with a slight limp. Last year I snapped a major tendon in my calf, which then led to a second injury- this time to my knee- which will one day give me an ultimatum: “It’s surgery or walking- pick one!” Because of these injuries, I move with a slight limp. It’s not noticeable to everyone and some days it is worse than others. In fact, I can sometimes even disguise my limp for a period of time, working hard to not show a gait that is somewhat off. But eventually it shows, especially going up and down the stairs. Compensation only takes you so far. So I walk with a slight limp.

Recently I led a group discussion on the life of Jacob from the Scripture. This sneaky, stealing, deceiving person who before he was born held the blessing of God. Clearly God’s blessing is not attached to our behavior or Jacob would have been lost not so long after he was born. The word the group I was leading came up with was, “swarmy.” Jacob was swarmy. And he was. Kinda a class A jerk. It is ironic that for years this swarminess goes on, even as Jacob’s life is punctuated by God’s clear favor and blessing despite it all. Then near the end of his saga in Genesis, we find him at the river’s edge, alone, at night. He was preparing to meet his brother- one of the people he had cheated. One of the folks who wanted Jacob dead. It has been over 20 years since he had last seen his brother and the Scripture makes clear that Jacob’s a little nervous about the whole encounter.

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Is This All There Is?

February 11, 2014

I sat at the round table having massive flashbacks to so many other meetings held around round tables, week after week after week, the same papers in front of me, the same running of a meeting, the same sorts of conversations. They weren’t unpleasant flashbacks; they were just… flashbacks. When pastoring, meetings are part of the game. It’s just how it is. We pastors shrug and accept it- some of us may even love it- and we sit around tables, looking at agendas, participating in the back and forth of what has been referred to as “the business of the church.”

Except that we are wrong on that label.

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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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Questions About Change

November 15, 2013

OK- my plans to pick up writing here again have not materialized as quickly as I planned. Life gets so busy sometimes. But I do have plans to remedy this situation and actually have a pretty good strategy to start writing again. Thanks for the patience and those of you who connected with me to let me know you had missed me. It means a lot to hear that and makes me want to write another post!


I got to connect with a dear friend this morning. This is a friend I have known now for years. We met in our summer intensive Greek class with the world’s worst Greek teacher and suffered through the hours upon hours of eating, drinking, and dreaming in Greek. I’m pretty sure that kind of suffering induces a bond that few others would understand. Adam and I have remained friends through the years of seminary and beyond, through ministries and ministry changes, through challenges and triumphs, through long distances and long silences. He’s the type of person where we can pick where we left off. And I still smile at the memory of him walking into the lounge at the seminary after class, and flipping over chairs re-enacting Jesus in the temple flipping tables, as Adam protested the current state of the Church and it’s disregard for the passions of God. Adam then sat in the middle of the room hunched over and mad until our other friend, Paul, and I coaxed him to join us. It’s been tremendous to watch God take Adam’s passion for the poor and hungry and turn it into a breathtaking vocation that has traveled the world and interacted with many cultures and people. In some ways, I’m pretty sure Adam has had a pretty rockstar vocation- only not in the way so many Christians view “rockstar pastors.” Adam’s work has had a depth of meaning that I confess I am sometimes jealous of.

And now Adam is planting a church. And I couldn’t be more excited for him. And more scared.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hold a Space Please

September 16, 2013

Being shorter in stature, I am familiar with the concerns of being in a crowd. I remember attended a concert with a number of friends when I was significantly younger. We managed to carve out a space for the lot of us in the area in front of the stage where everyone presses forward during the music. There was little room to do anything but jump up and down to the beat. Inevitably, a friend and I decided to go get something to drink. We pushed out way through the crowd and out toward the back of the open air arena. As we turned around once we were free from the crush of people, we realized that we had just left the massive crowd, and like water, the people closed in after us, making clear that getting back in would be quite the challenge.

I think that is sometimes how communities are. I have been thinking about the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. (It’s actually a story about the Father, but that’s something we can visit a different point.) A boy leaves his family in pursuit of his selfish wants. But he doesn’t just leave his family. He leaves his family with an insult to his father. And when he insulted his father, he insulted not simply the whole family, but the entire village where he lived. What he did was essentially cut himself off from the community and went on his merry way.

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