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Remembering Mr. Charlie

A few years ago our church embarked on the daunting and yet exciting task of planning for the future. “Write the Vision” was a journey of intentional conversations about God’s dreams for the future and how our congregation could be a part of it. It was a tough task, one that took a great deal of time and commitment from our members. What makes our church special though is that we are not afraid of taking on tough and challenging tasks. Each month, our meeting room was filled with people who cared about the future of the church. Out of those meetings, we shared dreams and developed plans, and we have already begun making changes so that those plans become reality. It’s been an exciting time to see the work we did come to life!

One of the most important lessons I learned from the vision process was not in the published finding, but was what I learned on our journey together. Each time we met, we gathered around tables and were encouraged (sometimes forced!) to sit with different people. At the very first meeting, my husband and I sat at a table with Caroline and Charlie.

Sitting with an older couple was unusual for us. As parents of young children who are still learning their table manners, we usually pick tables towards the back of the church’s fellowship hall. We typically find other families to sit with who are not bothered by the constant words of instruction: ”Sit in your chair.” “Don’t talk with your mouth full” “No dessert until you eat your veggies.” Our fear of aggravating other church members and interrupting their meal has kept us and our rowdy boys at what we thought would be “child-friendly” tables.

But at that first meeting, Caroline and Charlie welcomed us to their table. Truth be told, until that day, I did not even know their names. I am sure we had met before, but I couldn’t remember who they were. So we started with introductions. Over our shared meal, we learned about Caroline and Charlie’s family. We heard some of their stories. We learned that Charlie had played football at Florida State (Go Noles!) back before Burt Reynolds had been on the team. They told us about how they met. They shared stories about their wedding. They bragged on their children and grandchildren. They talked about how much they love our church. During that first meal, we also made the connection: their son-in-law was our son’s Sunday School teacher. Getting to know Caroline and Charlie, their family, and their love for our church was one of the highlights for me of our church’s visioning process. I’m so glad they welcomed us to their table.

One of my favorite hymns right now is “For Everyone Born.” I love this verse in particular:

For young and for old, a place at the table,
a voice to be heard, a part in the song,
the hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,
for young and for old, the right to belong,
and God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace: yes, God will delight when we are creators of justice, justice and joy!

Charlie passed away recently, and my heart has hurt for Caroline and their family. Charlie will be greatly missed by our church family and by my family. I am so thankful for his friendship and for the way in which he pulled up a chair and welcomed others else to the table.

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I finished a book!

I know that’s a terrible title of a blog post. Unfortunately, it’s the truth. I can’t tell you how many books I started last fall but didn’t finish. So, one of my resolutions for the new year is to read more books. I updated my goodreads list, remembered my online library password, and got to work requesting books.

I was so excited when the first book available to me was “When Breath Becomes Air” . I have wanted to read this book for a while now. I cried last night as I finished it because it was over. I didn’t want it to be over.

It was a great book full of life, experience, hope, faith, illness, death, and love. I’m so thankful that the author and his wife worked so hard to get it written and made sure it was published. There were so many beautiful parts that drew me into the book. I found myself drawn to the images of Stanford and the Bay area, a place where Barry and I grew to love deeply. My memory was stirred as I heard him describe his endless nights, rolling into days of little sleep on a rigorous schedule and I remembered what’s it’s like to have a spouse as a medicine resident. My head was challenged as he quoted beautiful literature and poetry to describe his journey of a terminal diagnosis.

In my work as a pastor and hospice chaplain, but also as a granddaughter, I have been at the bedside and watched loved ones draw their last breath. It is a holy moment. The author, Paul’s wife, Lucy graciously includes us, their readers, in the story of Paul’s final moments on this earth. I cried.

I’m thankful for the life of Paul Kalanithi. I’m thankful for the lives he saved as a neurosurgeon and for the lives he is saving by writing his story. My life is changed in a different way after reading it.

What will I read next?

PS, I originally read about Paul and Lucy’s story on Cup of Jo . The blogger, Joanna recently published an update on her twin sister, Lucy.

 

2018

I think I’ve decided on a word for this year.

BRAVE

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

I’m tired of living in fear.

Fear of failure

Fear of not being good enough

Fear of the unknown.

I’m moving forward and making some steps about how to focus on this word in my life this year:

Part of living into this word will be writing again. I’m not going to make promises I know I can’t keep like writing every day. I just want to show up and challenge myself to write more.

Part of living into this word means taking more time for myself. I love to read and reading for pleasure has gone to the back burner. I’m digging it out again and putting it in the front. (Picking up my first read from the library today!)

Part of living into this word means trying something new that I never thought would be possible. The reality is that I still don’t know if it is but I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and give it a try. (more on this later!)

So, here’s to 2018!

28356-Be-Brave

 

Resolutions

I never get very far with resolutions. I always try really hard but usually by January 15th, I’ve forgotten what resolutions I had made. This year, I’m taking stock in what I’ve done in 2015 and re-evaluating it for 2016.

blog more. (or at all). The last time I had hit publish on a blog that was posted here was on January 1, 2014. I’ve written several blog posts since then but some of them went to the trash bin and others were published elsewhere. I want to blog on this site… because blogging means I’m writing and I want to write more.

move my body. This has been an important move in 2015. I ran another half-marathon (April: Rock ‘n’ Roll in Nashville) with friends. I completed my first round of 21 Day fix extreme and went on to complete the Piyo program. I found that aside from running or swimming at the gym, I really love exercising in my own home. I’m getting ready to start the new Hammer & Chisel program through Beachbody and I love my coach, Elizabeth.
In one week, I’ll be running the Disney World half-marathon. 11 years ago, I found my love of running while training of this race. It’s really exciting to be going back. In April, I’m planning to another half-marathon that will be in its first year. 2016 is about getting stronger and healthier!

be an advocate. I find that God speaks to me through little nudges that eventually become big shoves when I don’t follow right away. Over the course of 2015, I continued to sense nudges about a particular need in my city. Eventually, I sought out ways I could help and have found such joy in the opportunity to give back. It’s not a type of ministry that I get paid for or any recognition but it’s the chance to be with people in their most painful moments of life. Holy moments are happening and I believe somehow and someway my presence is helping to ease their pain. I wish there wasn’t a need for this volunteer job but there is and it’s an important one. I will continue to give in this way as long as I can.

put down the phone. My phone is my lifeline. I text my mom friends instead of calling to catch up. I look up a recipe for dinner or search twitter for the latest news. I also spend way too much time looking at that device. My challenge to myself in the new year is to put down the phone and spend more time being “present” with the people I love and with life happening around me.

practice gratitude. In one of my recent healthy habit groups (see above, Elizabeth for more information), we kept a gratitude journal and it was amazing to sit at the end of the day and write out 3 things for which we were grateful. My faith increased and my cynicism about life decrease when I realized how at the end of a really crappy day, I still had a lot of reasons to give thanks.

May 2016 be a year of growth, strength, being present, and giving thanks.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Stroke of Midnight

2016 is here. I can’t believe it.

The sounds of celebration from our neighborhood and beyond are just settling down (which probably has something to do with why I’m still awake). Our celebration tonight was a bit different. In an afternoon text message we invited our friends who live just down the street to join us for pizza. When it seemed that the kids were getting cranky and restless, we brought out the noisemakers and put on the Netflix countdown show (genius, Netflix). The kids had no idea what or why they were counting down but even the 2 year old got in on that action. When 2016 flashed on the screen, we all blew our horns loudly and cheered, “Happy New Year!” My oldest (now 5) insisted that we start a parade and we marched from the kitchen through the living room.

After company had gone home and the kids were sleeping, I celebrated the real stroke of midnight while snuggled next to my husband recalling our past NYE events together. The truth is where we celebrated this stroke of midnight is like many in the past…. right next to each other, wishing, hoping, and praying for a wonderful year.

Wherever you celebrated the stroke of midnight (real or the kid-friendly one), may your hopes, dreams, and prayers become reality in 2016.

Happy New Year, friends.

 

“For last year’…

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
T.S. Eliot

May 2014 be a year of new beginnings.

The List….

My friend Bridget wrote about list making today. I love to make lists, too. I have one this morning for errands P and I are suppose to run later today.

She tells a wonderful story of how her daughter wrote a list of things she is good at. It inspired Bridget to make a list of her strengths. (which is hard for us to do as adults!)

Thanks to Bridget’s encouragement, I’ve made my own list.

Here it is:
*Top three are stolen from Lydia’s list

Eating
Sleeping
Living

Laughing
Cooking
Giving hugs
Smiling
Listening
Reading books
Preaching
Meeting new people
Dreaming
Sitting outside
Singing silly songs
Loving
Encouraging
Volunteering
Parenting
Exercising
Planning
Snuggling

It’s hard to write down my strengths. I kept wanting to write justifications or think of judgements (“well, except”…  or “only if..”) Every time this would happen, I’d say to myself, “Stop. Just write the list. Embrace it.”

What’s on your list? Comment below or post it on your own blog. Go… write your list!