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Archive for March, 2011

I have some time on my hands these days. Let me rephrase that, I have a lot of time on my hands these days; though, if I’m honest, I really should be doing other things like cleaning house and cooking dinner. I’ve been blogging here since 2007, but it’s been inconsistent and now that I’m feeling like writing again I need an outlet for it. But I’d like to think that my writing has some substance, so I’m employing different devices: writing prompts, hot topics (for me, at least!), and looking at other blogs.

Imagine me, at my little netbook, sitting in my chair with my feet up. I’m a religious woman, after all, I am ordained. But these days I’m a flockless-shepherd and I’m thinking more about what I’ll do for my next vocation. Anyway, back to being religious. You may already have picked up on the “I am ordained” line and figured out the likelihood is that I am not from one of the more conservation traditions. Indeed, I am a Mainline Protestant believer. Oh but as I write I realize those words have a different meaning for each person who reads them!

Well, we can say I am a Christian. Yes, I am a disciple of Christ. I worship God, but not so much Jesus. I’m a bit shaky on trinitarian doctrine. Sometimes I’m more ‘high-church’ other times my Christology is very low. I mainly believe that Jesus came to turn us back to God, to point us to God, to direct us in God’s ways. I don’t believe Jesus came to get us to worship himself. Now if I try hard enough, I can run in an entirely different direction with this and say that Jesus came to give us a face for God, but that said, we are all created in God’s image. But Jesus’ unique face was crucified, as it says, for the forgiveness of sin. So I can come close to trinitarian theology, but I usually end up stopping somewhere in the neighborhood but not quite at the defined address.

But, there I go, rabbit-trailing again! When we read someone who identifies as ‘Christian’ we each have an idea as to what that means, which is precisely why I mention that I am of the Mainline Protestant variety. (Yes, I know. I’m labeling and that’s not always helpful, though it does help us understand better. At least we assume that we understand something better when we can label it with a word we think we understand.) I’ll even go so far as to say I am moderate to liberal leaning in my faith. Social gospel? Yes. Prosperity gospel? Not so much. Open table? Absolutely- to any and all, even if you don’t profess to be Christian. Baptism? I was immersed at 10 years old, but I also love what infant baptism says, and I cried my eyes out when an elderly couple came to be baptised in their 80s (btw, they were immersed). Saved by grace? No other way. Hellfire and damnation? My God is Love.

I’ll admit what I believe is right for me, and you are entitled to your beliefs too. It would be so much easier if we all believed the same way, but that’s not reality and God has created each of us to think for ourselves. Along with that thinking comes the ability to re-evaluate our own beliefs and thoughts through study, debate, discussion, experience (some might say scripture, reason, and experience).

My humanness, my desire to find like-minded individuals, sometimes makes me stumble when I read blogs, books or articles written by others who also go by the moniker ‘Christian’. I catch myself trying to read between the lines and identify what subgroup of Christians each other ascribes to, and then I’m ashamed of myself. Ashamed because then I start to judge their beliefs and concentrate more on how we are different rather than celebrate the things we hold in common. Yes, this is the challenge of ecumenism: seeing the value in another’s faith without downgrading the things we disagree on or hold differently. Sometimes I think it is easier to work interfaith because we come in with the upfront understanding that our beliefs are very different and we don’t purport to believe we already know everything, so we (I) set in to learning what we hold in common and celebrating the fact that we are more alike than we are different. It is easier for me to read a magazine of Eastern thought than it is to read a conservative Christian article. And yet, I can also say that I have felt the spirit move so strongly when I have attended events that carried a more charismatic or evangelical flavor.

I’m reaching out as I read across the internet. I’m trying to arrest judgement and take things at face value, maybe I should say at heart value- for the quality that brings us all together in the same household of God, the Oikos. Many of our struggles are the same, especially in the day to day realm. So bring on those ladies and gentlemen of the broader Christian and human realm! Read for content, read for love!

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Writing prompts

I’ve been wanting to do more writing, but have struggled somewhat with what to write. That’s one reason I have really liked GypsyMama’s Five Minute Fridays. And sometimes when I’m out for my walk, I think of things I’d like to write about, but I forget them by the time I get home!

I thought I would make a list here of some writing prompts I might like to use. Feel free to take them for your own inspiration!

I never thought…

I don”t know about you, but…

When I woke up this morning…

It drives me crazy when…

Someday…

If I only had the time…

When I imagine my children’s future…

What was God thinking…

In a perfect world…

So grateful…

When I stargaze at night…

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On Waiting

We’re all waiting for something: the grass to grow, the engraved invitation, the sun to rise, the perfect job, the dream to come true, the whatever.

I’ve been journaling about waiting a lot the past year; and I’ve been doing a lot of waiting in waiting rooms. Doctors’ waiting rooms. But the big waiting that is on my mind has most to do with what is next in my life.

I’m getting the feeling that I’m about to make a career change. You see, when I make big decisions about my life, it’s more like the decision is made (by God) and then I spend months trying to figure out what is the best way to go, praying, wondering, wishing, hoping, agonizing, fighting and finally, like a big bubble coming up from the bottom of a lava pit, the decision I’ve been fighting becomes the ONLY thing I can do, the ONLY way forward. Painful as it sometimes is, resistant as I often am, I give in because to fight it further is so much more painful and difficult than just doing what I’ve suspected all along is God’s design.

So I’m waiting for that moment of clarity. That brilliant flash that shines the spotlight on the way forward. The thunder clap that shakes open the door I’ve been looking forward and slams shut the window I crawled out of. I’m waiting God. I’m waiting for that unique me-sized, me-shaped place that you are preparing for me and that I am preparing for.

[Another Five Minute Friday, stimulated by Gypsy Mama at http://www.thegypsymama.com.%5D

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[Five Minute Fridays starter for this week]

I feel most loved when I am appreciated, when the things I do, especially for others, are noticed and appreciated. I don’t mean to say I’m looking for rewards. I’m looking for acknowledgement. A simple “thank you”, “job well done” or “really liked whatever you did” will suffice.

And then there are the times when I feel needed. That too makes me feel loved. Like when my children come to me for comfort and encouragement. They show me that I matter to them just as much as they matter to me. I also like it when they let me know they want me around. ┬áIn the last year I have traveled without them for my medical treatments and I come home to hear them say, “I missed you, Mom. I wanted to be with you.” What greater love is there from a child?

And then there is the love from my husband. A smile, a hug, a kiss. The ones that say, “Not only do I like having you around, I love who you are and how you make my life better.” It’s not just the “thanks for cooking dinner or washing the clothes”, but those do count! It’s also the “I’m working on such and thus for work, what do you think?” It’s the “share your thoughts with me.”

And it’s the way my parents send flowers for my anniversary, call to check on me several times a week, and help me out when I lament (even when I don’t ask for help, just an ear). It was the way they jumped right in to care for my kids when I had to be away for 7 weeks (they covered 4 weeks with my 5 & 8 years old).

And then there is the way I feel when I sing a favorite hymn in church, or see something especially beautiful. It’s the way I feel when I walk by the creek and hear it babbling, or the bird calls that signal the arrival of spring. These come to mind when I recognize God’s love.

These are just a few of the ways I know and feel I am loved.

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40 Days of Lent

The season of Lent has begun and this year I feel a bit more motivated to observe it. Last year I simply didn’t have the energy to do much more than attend church on Sundays. This year I am feeling like making an effort to take on a spiritual discipline. I have returned to my journal, to a book on prayer I’ve been reading off and on, and a new book that’s a kind of prayer workbook.

The first book is When In Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life by Jane Redmont. Jane takes one through prayer in many different common circumstances giving her insights as well as those from people she interviewed for the book. She incorporates a variety of prayers from different resources which mostly come from 4 or 5 places; the New Zealand Prayerbook plays in heavily. She also includes questions and prompts at the end of several of the chapters to push the reader to dig deeper.

The second book is brand new, Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen by Rachel Hackenburg. This book is part of Paraclete Press’ ‘Active Prayer’ series of books that focus on praying in creative ways using art, specific scriptures, and a variety of modalities. Rachel provides a prayer, a scripture and a prompt focus. Then she leaves space for the reader to pen their own prayer. The object of the workbook is to help free oneself to use whatever words come freely as prayer. There is no pressure to be “good enough” or to use the “right words”. It’s an exercise in being honest with God and the self.

Both books are available through Amazon and could be used at any time of year, not just Lent.

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A Mother’s Love

It has to be a mother’s love that says, “even while I was unwell and resting my weary body, I missed my children. Though I wasn’t fully able to take care of their needs, I wanted to be near my children. Though their noises would have disturbed me and prevented my rest, I wanted to be near them.”

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When I look in the mirror I see the halo of silver white hair that is much less noticeable when my hair is pulled back in a ponytail or headband. I see the face that is so changeable with rest/lack of, diet, exercise, illness, age. Somedays I look and feel so young, and others I look so old I think, “Could that possibly be me in the mirror?”

I wonder if these days of recovery will always be, or if the cure I pray for each day will come to pass. (I believe. Help my unbelief, Jesus.) I see the young woman who still wishes for just 1 more baby, perhaps a girl, to nurture, nurse, caress and care for. I see the mom who tries to keep up with the two boys who she loves so deeply it makes her weep. I see the middle aged woman who is out of work and wonders what will come next. And I wonder if I should take my almost 9 year old’s advice and “turn my hair back to black” so I don’t look so much like a grandma.

I see the woman who still clings to the hope of living to the age of 90 and making a significant and memorable mark on this world.

[Thanks to 5 Minute Fridays for the encouragement to take a few words and turn them in to five minutes of flat out, no holds barred, writing.]

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