Tag Archives: pastor

Old, New or Just Right?

My one word for 2017 is New. I’m paying attention to that which is New. New ideas, new habits, new routines and embracing discomfort as I go.

I’ve incorporated into my daily to-do list a section for New. I’m making myself read, study and try out what is hard for me or different every day.

At the end of last year, my daughter and I started something New that we had been discussing for a while. We opened an antique booth. We call it Mimosa Rose which is a combination of my awesome grandma name and the name my mom called my daughter as baby, “Little Rosebud.” Mimosa Rose is a place for our shared interest in Old treasures used in New ways.

Mimosa Rose has taken me into to a world I know nothing about. I had to get two different tax id numbers. I had to learn about display. I had to figure out how to inventory items and keep track of things.

When I first signed the contract to have a booth, I felt overwhelmed even though I’ve done plenty of hard new things before like going to seminary, being a woman there, being a hospital chaplain, a hospice chaplain, a pastor, a mom of three, speaking in front of large crowds, etc. Nothing should really scare me anymore but this did. Because, it was New.

I find it ironic that mixed within all that is New, there is always the Old; old ideas, old ways of thinking, old habits.

Our New venture is all about repurposing Old things. I’m having to learn more about social media in order to share this New venture into Old things. Last week I even went to a class…(a class!) because there are so many New things to learn.

Jesus taught us about paying attention to New and Old. He told parables about cloth and wine and cautioned about not mixing too much Old and New or you could ruin or damage what is. I believe mindfulness is the key. Honor what is Old in your life. Honor what is New in your life. Any maybe, your New will intersect with the Old to create Just Right.

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Bittersweet and Beautiful

Yesterday marked the 28th anniversary of my ordination into Christian ministry.  I have no idea how 28 years flew by so quickly.  I still vividly recall, as a 25-year-old, kneeling and having hands laid on me and how heavy those hands felt as the ordination prayer was prayed by my favorite theology professor. I wish I could recall the exact words he prayed.  I just remember his words were beautiful. And, when I stood, tears running down my face, I was changed. Something happened in the kneeling and praying. I was somehow equipped, empowered and infused with God’s presence in a way I hadn’t been before.  It was strange.  But, then again, this whole journey has been strange.

A month after ordination, I found myself officiating the funeral of a 14-year-old girl in my youth group who had been killed in a fall off of a horse. I remember standing to speak thinking this was not at all what I signed up for.

Not too long after that, I interviewed for my first full-time ministry position, 7 months pregnant with our first child. A crusty west Texas businessman asked me a question I don’t believe was legal to ask, then or now. “How in the world do you think you are going to be able to be a mother and a pastor at the same time?” I don’t know what I said but I thought, “I have no earthly idea, I’ve never been either one.”

I got that job.  I became a mom. An older, shut-in church member there took my face between her weathered hands and prophetically said, “Trust God with your ministry and your baby.  God will provide.”  And guess what?  God did. God has. God will. Fabulously, stunningly, miraculously and with impeccable timing over and over again for 28 (!) years.

Ministry has been harder than I ever dreamed. It has taken its toll on my heart. It has driven me to my knees, to tears, to despair more times than I care to admit. One somebody asked me, “Is your job too much for you?” Without hesitation, I said, “Yes, but that is when God shows up and the community of faith sustains. No one could do this job without that. It really is impossible.”

It has been hard, impossible and, at the same time, wonderfully beautiful. The births, the weddings, the new life, the grace, the transformation, I’ve seen it all. Like life, ministry is a Holy mix. I call it the bittersweet, beautiful ache of ministry.

28 years. I am humbled, honored and so amazed. God really does provide. And God, really is so good.

Time Out

In football games, a time out is for re-grouping, strategizing, managing the clock, drinking Gatorade and sometimes just for messing with the game plan of your opponent.

In child rearing, a time out is to remove a child from his/her cycle of behavior; to teach him/her what is not acceptable through a bit of negative reinforcement; to teach the little one that he/she is not in control. When our now 21-year-old son was in his terrible twos, he threw temper tantrums whenever he didn’t get his way. He would simply melt, wail and flail. I was determined to win, so would pick him up, this solid, heavy, sturdy toddler boy and deposit him in his room. I told him the same thing every time, “I know you are upset. When you can calm yourself, you can come back out here with the family.”

To his stubborn credit, he’d try, oh, he’d try coming out to tantrum some more. I just kept depositing him back in his room to calm himself. Each time, it got worse. Bruised from his well-placed kicks, I’d be covered in his snot and tears and some of mine. He’d pinch. He’d try to bite. He threw toys at the door a few times. I just stayed on message and kept delivering him to time out.

One day, just like that, he stopped with the tantrums. Fast forward 19 years, he is now a 6’2″, 195 lb. young man; still quite sturdy and strong; a happy, productive, funny person who knows how to calm himself. You’re welcome world. Thank you, time out.

Time outs work. Time outs are effective. We all need them.

In the last few weeks, several factors in my world converged to create a need for a time out for me. In retrospect I now understand it was the “perfect storm” of:
–The medication I am on to prevent a breast cancer recurrence, Tamoxifen.
–The medications I was on to counter the side effects of Tamoxifen.
–Good things, like a packed fall schedule, high school and college football games, friends, social events, jobs.
–Stress-being a pastor is a tad bit stressful. I don’t want to whine but we pastors tend to absorb a lot of pain–people’s personal pain, institutional pain, pain meant for God, plus the painful sweetness that comes with trying to live out faith in community.
–Hormones-imagine throwing in the mix a whole pile of pre-menopausal hormones which Tamoxifen is trying to shut down while my body hard at work making more hormones. No kidding, I have a little hormone tsunami inside of me at all times.
-Our dog-our vet told us a few weeks ago that our Golden Retriever, Rusty who has been a part of our family since 2001, has Canine Sarcoma (Doggy Cancer) and only has a short time left to be with us.
–Mix in a day or two of not eating right and some insomnia.

I cracked. And, a time out on the field was called. I didn’t call it. I couldn’t even see that I needed it. I strongly felt that play should continue as usual. I was the sturdy two-year old bundle of tears, angst and snot who kept reappearing in the family room. Time out for re-grouping, breathing, finding a new strategy, re-calibrating. Time out.

Yesterday, in many parts of our nation, the sleet, ice and snow created a national time out. We stopped. No school. Flights cancelled. Holiday parties called off. Christmas parades and other elaborate holiday events stopped in their tracks. Time out for weather.

Our younger son, an over-programmed high school student, found a sled in the attic and played outside for hours. I sat by the fire, writing, reading and reflecting on why we need time outs. We made soup, checked on those we loved, played cards and snuggled in. Now we are on day two of this time out. “Shouldn’t we be doing something productive?” we ask ourselves. Turns out, we don’t. It is okay. Our work today is to be in time out.

We are all more fragile than we think. We are all prone to cycles of too much–too much emotion, activity, trantrum-ing, stress and busyness.

Sometimes we need to hit pause; call for a time out; suspend time and our activities for a while. Rest. Regroup. Re-strategize. Calm ourselves.

Thank God for the time out.

Confessions From a Pastor

Soon we will begin a new sermon series at church, Confessions from the Pastors.  I told my clergy colleagues I wasn’t comfortable confessing things before God and everybody.  One mentioned, “Isn’t that what a confession is?  Something you are uncomfortable admitting to God and others?”  I hate it when one of them is right…it is so rare it actually stuns me sometime.  Just kidding, kind of.

As I get ready to preach, all kinds of confessions are emerging on my part.  A few I’ve admitted before:

Many, many times when I’m sitting up front in worship, looking pastoral, I’m guilty of thinking non-pastoral thoughts like “I’m hungry.”  “A nap would be good right now.”  Sometimes I even do what you do, I wonder why someone is wearing that.  Or, if one part of the service is going long, I secretly will whoever is talking just to put a lid on it.  I do.  I confess.

I’ve confessed before that I have a big problem with Christmas.  It is overdone….way overdone and it makes me want to go to St. Lucia and look at the water for the whole month of December.  I confess.

But, the biggest confession I have is the one I will try to include in my sermon.  I confess that I have a problem with many, many Christians.  I have a problem with the ones who think they know everything like who’s going to heaven and why.  They seem so darn sure.  I don’t like the judgmental Christians who have figured out which sin is worse than the others and will tell you about it and what you should be doing. I ran into one of those early on, when I was in college.  She knew everything about God’s will.  She confidently told me that it was absolutely against scripture for me to be a pastor…she even showed me in the Bible.  Luckily, God’s voice was louder than hers in my spirit.  I just past the 25th anniversary of my ordination and so far it seems like it just might work. 

I confess that I have a problem with Christians who act badly.  You know the type, they act in mean, hateful and destructive ways and then post a Bible verse on Pinterest causing the world to say “Whaaaat?”   

Some Christians even make me want to hide the fact that I’m a Christian.  A recent book, Unchristian, surveyed thousands of young Americans and they said Christianity has an image problem, we appear hypocritical, judgmental, anti-homosexual and a few more things I won’t mention here.  And to that I would say, it is not an image problem Christianity has, has a real big giant problem.  Christians don’t just seem to be that way, many really are.  And, my big confession is that I don’t care for those Christians.  They make me want to turn my cute Christian t-shirt inside out, lest someone thinks I feel that way too.

It hurts my heart that I’m so distracted by others.  It hurts my heart that I’m not somehow holy enough to let that stuff just slide by. 

Here’s my problem, I really, really like Jesus.  I like the forgiving, surprising, God-embodying Jesus.  I like what he talked about.  I like what he stood for.  If it wasn’t for him, I’d never hang around the church.  I’m just confessing.