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Archive for the ‘vocation’ Category

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.

 

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In July, I spent four Sundays as the interim pastor for the church where we are members. My pastor was on a month long sabbatical leave. I was nervous and excited as the month approached. Will I have enough time to prepare sermons? Will my son feel neglected? Will I feel guilty about not spending more time with him? 

I have chosen to stay home with my son for the this time in his life. It is an intentional decision based on many different things. I have loved it (most of the time) and found out more about myself through this process. However, I also know that I love ministry. I want to continue to be a minister while I am a mother to my son. For years, I have told women they could do both. I have witnessed some great models in motherhood & ministry. But, when the time came for me to do it myself, I had doubts.

As I reflect upon the month, I realize July zipped by so quickly. It was a fun month of preaching and getting to know a congregation I am already learning to love. I was humbled by how quickly folks shared their stories with me. I loved how God used each worship service in unique ways to help us think about rest & renewal in our lives. I enjoyed walking with this congregation as we prayed for our pastor’s time away.

The really fun part was watching my son. He had no idea that his mom had accepted more responsibilities at church. What he did learn was that there were a whole hosts of people ready to play with him on Sunday mornings. He loved having extra play dates with everyone from the preschool minister to the building supervisor. One of my favorite memories was of one morning at staff meeting when I didn’t have childcare for him. We brought a walker up from the nursery and he played but decided that during prayer time. He laughed and called out while we were bringing our requests before God. Momentarily I was slightly embarrassed, but two of the ministers graciously said, “This isn’t the first time children have been with us for staff meeting and it makes it more fun!” At the end of prayer time, our staff was dismissed while the ministers stayed to discuss Sunday’s service, the building supervisor held out his arms and my son jumped into them. Mr. Charlie took Parker for a tour of the church, to play with the ladies in the office, and to find some extra toys. They all took turns playing with him and he didn’t seem to miss me for a moment. He came back to me with a smile across his face.

While I was pastoring the congregation, my son had a chance to see what God looks like– in all the people who helped me care for him. He saw love, laughter, kindness, creativity, & fun. All a few of my favorite parts of the Divine.

I don’t know what the future holds for us but, I am grateful for the moments we had to learn something new in July. May my son and I both continue to be amazed at the ways God reveals God self to us each day. Amen.

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In case one of my five blog readers would like to keep up with some of my writings, church news, etc. I thought I’d pass along my new blog for the church. We are hoping to integrate it into our website so folks visiting the website can get a better idea of the weekly stuff going on. I hope to also use it as a spring board to thoughts, ideas, ramblings on sermons.

Check it out: www.newcommunityoffaith.wordpress.org

*Just so no one thinks I take myself too seriously. I don’t typically use this title. However, it is rather amusing that many of our friends from different faith traditions refer to me by this title. I thought it was simple catching.

 

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Transitions

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I’m sitting on the verge of another transition. There are five days left of my Clinical Pastoral Education program. FIVE DAYS.

I remember hearing about CPE during my first year of seminary and thinking, “maybe I’ll try that one day“. This year has been incredibly difficult, inspiring, and overly reflective in so many ways. I will walk away from this experience a different kind of pastor than when I began.

I’m thankful for my colleagues who have journeyed with me. I’m thankful for the patients who have taught me. I’m thankful for my family and friends who have encouraged me through the process.

Now, off to writing my final evaluation!!

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This week the Bay area CPE programs spent two days at a retreat center in Los Gatos, CA. Presentation Center is a beautiful retreat center nestled up the mountain off Hwy 17. We had an hour of free time built into the schedule today. The weather has been beautiful and quite a relief from the heat & humidity of where I found myself the last few weekends (Florida & Texas). I took advantage of the free time, sunshine, and beautiful space. I went for a walk.

I love discovering new places. There is this sense that I have to push myself. I have to remind myself that being willing to risk going down the unbeaten path might be worth it. I have the conversation with myself that even at my age of 30 (ahem) it’s okay to take the way that doesn’t look “safe”.

Today I discovered a path like this. It was worn down like a path that had been well traveled but it was not manicured. I doubt that folks have taken it recently. There was no sign but I could see something at the bottom. Curiosity got the best of me. I walked down a series of steps– 50 maybe– tucked into the hillside. I discovered what appeared to be an old meeting area.

Maybe not that old. There was a wooden platform at the front. Facing the platform were a series of benches circling around in amphitheater style. Weeds and plants sprung up from the crevices which was another indication that the area hadn’t been used lately. In spite of the  well worn steps, abandoned chairs, and full grown weeds, it was a beautiful place. I didn’t stay long. I didn’t need to.

It was vespers. Well, I don’t know what it was for the folks at the Presentation Center but for me it was vespers at Camp Pinnacle.

I missed camp today.

I missed hearing the voices of campers singing at the top of their lungs. I missed meeting missionaries, even the strange ones and hearing their stories of ways they witnessed God working in the world. I missed the beautiful mountain. I missed the peaceful (and sometimes orange) lake. I missed the swing set where so many beautiful conversations were held through the years. I missed hearing “God has something to say to you. God has something to say. Listen, listen, pay close attention…. ”

I missed camp today.

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It feels as though I am waking up in a “wilderness” point in my life. As Barry and I almost approach the five month mark on this adventure in California, life still seems a little unsettled. My CPE colleagues and I joke that one of my struggles on this journey is for “meaning and direction”. This isn’t really a joke though. It’s the truth. The constant question in my life seems to be “where is God leading me now?” 

A little background information… When it came time to talk about fellowship programs, I knew like most things in *my life* (*well, I could argue about some other certain circumstances but sometimes we deal with the choices that others make for us too.*) that we would have our answer when the time was right. I’ll spare you the details about how we knew this was right but we did. And we followed, making the move across the country. 

So, now here we are…. in a strange place, far away from the familiar friends, places and church family that we had grown to love. I forgot how hard it is to meet new people. I forgot how difficult it is to be wear the “visitor” name badge at church. I forgot how hard it is to find a new dry cleaners, a new dentist, and your favorite chinese restaurant (Oh, how I miss Little Szechuan). Of course, it doesn’t help that we still have an adorable 2 bd/2 ba condo on the market during a terrible housing crisis (email me if you are interested!). It’s more than overwhelming at times. 

I know it’s culture shock but even knowing doesn’t make it any easier. People still make comments about my “cute” Southern accent. It’s still strange to ask patients where home is and realize I have no idea where it is so why did I just ask. But more than that, it’s awful to wonder if we should have made this move to begin with. Did we do the right thing? Was it really the voice of God that led us here? Where is God now? 

The truth is asking the questions brings me some sense of peace. My belief is God is big enough for my questions. I have found solace in the words of my friend Kate Campbell‘s song “Dark Night of the Soul” on her new CD, Save the Day (if you haven’t gotten it yet, go to itunes now!) Here are the words: 

You can pray with all your might
Til you knuckles all turn white
Or you can look the other way
Hope it’s gone with each new day

You can do your best to hide
You can hold it all inside
You can curse and shake your fist
You can ask why God, why this?

There is peace somewhere I’m told
There’s a fire out in the cold
There are wonders to behold
In the dark night of the soul

You can give in to your doubts
Try to figure it all out
You can fight the fight alone
Or do your best to drink it gone

But there is peace somewhere I’m told
There’s a fire out in the cold
There are wonders to behold
In the dark night of the soul

Trust your spirit to be your guide
You’ll come out on the other side

In the absence of the light
Let the shadows hold you tight
And you can let your fear and pain
Wash over you like rain

But there is peace somewhere I’m told
There’s a fire out in the cold
There are wonders to behold
In the dark night of the soul
In the dark night of the soul

Last week, in a conversation with someone I had just met, she helped me reframe this time in my life. She encouraged me to talk about the places that I have seen evidences of the Holy during these last five months. She offered the image of stories in scripture when God led people to a new place and what happened in their lives as a result of the move. These “wilderness” places were ultimately times of growth for these followers of God. 

So, I’m wrestling and now I’m learning to once again (it’s a lesson for us constantly right?) trust the spirit to be my guide and remembering that even in times such as these, “… the One who began a good work among [us] will bring it to completion.”

Thanks to my new Save the Day CD, old and new friends who have promised to be with us along the way. 

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