Wise Risks

August 23, 2012

I once had a conversation with a mentor in college about risk. My perspective was that you could make calculated wise risks, and he disagreed. As I have lived my life a little I have realized that he was very right. If you are making calculated, wise risks you are actually not risking.

We are at a place in our life as a family where we could make some risks or we could stay safe. The only problem with safety is its like a bandaid. It’s great for covering a wound, but it just aids the body in helping heal the wound. If the bandaid stays on too long it does more damage than good.

As our family has looked at these risks we have come to the conclusion that sometimes trusting God is better than being safe.

We are in the process of taking a big risk and we have already seen the fingerprints of God all over our plans.

As I looked up the scripture of the day I found this; psalm 94:18-19.

Even when we encounter doubt or hardship the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds us.

A powerful image for a Thursday morning.

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Waiting in line

August 22, 2012

When we moved down to southern Illinois I looked up how many Starbucks existed and how far I would be living from each. I discovered that in all of southern Illinois there were no “real” Starbucks.

While some would consider this a silly thing to get wrapped up in I find it to be an indication of the culture that we were about to enter.

In reality there is no third place that people congregate to find community, because there family is their third place. While this can look like a positive thing it really creates a divided community.

The reason I believe it creates a divided community is because the family life is a very closed system. If you are not related by blood than you are not really welcome into the community.

The challenge becomes how do you infiltrate that third place to incorporate ideas like; teaching teens how to use birth control/abstinence, teaching how to stop being racist, how to explain faith within an ongoing story, or how to interact with those dreaded homosexuals.

When the third place is the family, the thinking that has been passed on for generations, becomes truth.

Which is why one of our elders used the term queers in Sunday School, and why one of our other elders uses racist terms. While I could easily criticize them for their sin, I recognize that this thinking is passed to them as truth rather than as a generational perspective.

As I wait in line I am wondering how to help this very relational culture open their arms to people who don’t think, look, smell, or act like them. My only conclusion is that we must make the church that third place for all people, so that there is a safety net for all people, not just for the people who give the most, or who’s family has been there the longest.

This third place has to be transcendent to the cultural families, but be immanent amongst the culture. I guess that’s what the Holy Spirit is for?

Recently I have been thinking a lot of Bonhoeffer. When I was pregnant and very sick I decided to quit my job and to quit school. I had a lot of time on my hands between throwing up, so I went to Barnes and Noble and bought three books; the new Brennan Manning book, which I read and returned, a compilation of Dorothy Day’s writings and the new Bonhoeffer biography by Metaxes.

I started the Bonhoeffer book first and was absolutely floored by it. I knew a little about the guy from some college studies, but I was not prepared for what the book was going to do to me.

This man, who was born into an affluent family felt the call to pastoral work. He pursued his pastoral work before and during the holocaust in Nazi Germany. The reason I was so challenged by the book is because Bonhoeffer continues to come back to the question; what is the church?

Bonhoeffer lived in a tumultuous era and his faith was questioned seriously by his culture.

As I have chewed slowly on this book I come to Bonhoeffer’s question; what is the church?

Especially having Arlo around, I am even more spurred to ask and seriously wrestle with all the answers that everyone often gives.

I told Waylon I wanted to write something to Arlo, so that the things I have been impacted by as a twenty five year don’t get lost in the years of living ahead. When I am fifty, if I make it there, Arlo will be twenty six…will I still feel the same way that I feel now? Will I still be reflecting and learning and teachable? Or will life, death, and sickness turn my heart and mind cynical and bitter?

So many questions to ask, and so many that go unanswered. I grew up in a church that was concerned in what kind of legacy you will leave…

I don’t think I will leave a legacy, but I want to give my son my thoughts as a twenty five year old, so that when he asks the question; what is the church he can know that his know it all mom has struggled with it as well.

Communion Meditation

August 7, 2012

I am really bad at planning my communion meditations ahead of time. I mostly do my communion meditations the morning of church. I know, don’t tell my preaching professor.

Being married to Waylon has caused a shift in my theological perspective. Instead of berating people for their “badness” I try to communicate God’s love every chance I get. Sunday morning I pulled my communion meditation from Ephesians 3:14-21.

Paul’s powerful prayer to the Ephesians. He prays that kingdom people will be empowered by the Holy Spirit which will allow Christ’s love to be rooted within their hearts. These rooted kingdom people will get a taste of how high, deep, and wide, God’s love is for his people.

What a powerful image. God’s love is so all encompassing that it floods our senses and our essential beings.

Before we can experience this kind of suffocating and liberating love we must allow the Holy Spirit into our lives and into our churches. Coming together to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ through communion is a wonderful opportunity for our churches to open our lives to the Holy Spirit. Who would have thought that the Holy Spirit is the cause of all revivals.

This wonderful opportunity named communion also leads us to live out Spirit driven lives during our weeks. While we commune with our brothers and sisters in Christ on Sunday we can taste the love of the Trinity and give that to others during our week.

To paraphrase a quote from a desert father; if you don’t sleep, you are more prone to being tempted by the passions.

After two days of blood pressure monitoring and twenty hours of labor, our son finally arrived in this beautifully terrible world. He was thrown on my chest and was truly the most amazing person I had ever met, other than his father.

When the nurse came back an hour later to check on him they decided to take him into the nursery to be observed because he was grunting and his nostrils were flailing. Waylon had left to drive his mom back to our house so there I was alone, without my son. Later the doctor came in and told Waylon, who had returned, and I, that our son was being admitted into the NICU because he aspirated on some amniotic fluid and developed pneumonia.

So, we waited, a couple hours became a night, which became a day, which became two days, three days, five days, and then finally on the seventh day our son got to come home. After a sleepless week, we entered into three sleepless months. Arlo developed acid reflux, which wasn’t diagnosed until his two month appointment.

While I know my story is mostly a positive one, as our son recovered and came home with us and has suffered a minimal problem, it has taken three months of lack of sleep, conversation, prayer, and about ten pounds of candy(which Waylon and I shared :)) that got me to a positive place.

For Arlo’s labor was quite traumatic. When I envisioned going into labor I did not see it the way it actually happened. When I envisioned having a newborn I certainly didn’t think it would be as hard, tiring, or as frustrating as it was. I didn’t think having a baby would give my marriage another layer to unravel.

As time has passed I realize how blessed we were to have such a supportive nursing staff and midwife. I realize how blessed I am to have such a supportive and loving husband. As time passes, the traumatic feeling of being told I was going to be induced four weeks early lessens.

However the lack of sleep has challenged my patience, kindness, grace, and understanding. I became a harsh, irritated, irrational person. This has became a time where my faith has been truly challenged.

However, as sleep returns to our house so does much of our sanity. During the first two months of our new challenge my faith was challenged by a new life and a new life circumstance. With each new day I have grown to love my son more deeply.