More that draws us together…

Tonite I had the opportunity to see John Michael Talbot in concert. Talbot is a Catholic singer/songwriter. He lives in a hermitage in the States and travels the world bringing his music and ministry to those who will listen.

Talbot is kind of strange looking (like a Catholic version of Albus Dumbledore) and has a funny way about him (giggling at his own jokes and letting us know he was joking by doing this odd open-mouth-smile move). He often made me laugh out loud, but in a way that sprung from being delighted by his character and spirit as much as amused by his joking.

There might be much that seperates he and I – he goes about in a robe (I only wear mine for an hour on Sundays), he has long hair and a longer beard (I don’t have a beard, Thank God, and my hair is on the short side), he is Roman Catholic (I am Presbyterian). We differ in age, gender, religious background, country of origin, and theological leanings.

But what I most enjoyed as I had the chance to hear him share some music, thoughts and prayers this evening, was the fact that there was more that draws us together than separates us. Because in the end, the thing that draws us together is the desire to be a follower of Jesus and to share the hope we have found in Jesus with others. And that outweighs all the other stuff.

It is good to have spent an evening in worship with Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, and to have been reminded what matters the most.

Take a moment to check out one of his videos here.

 

A conversation with a friend and colleague…

Today I had the chance to spend some time on the phone with a friend and colleague. I haven’t talked to her in a while, so the call was well overdue. We chatted for quite a while.

We shared some of our joys and some of our frustrations in ministry. She didn’t solve my problems and I didn’t solve hers, but it was good to share. It was good to remind each other that we are in this together. It was good to laugh together and to finish each other’s sentences.

It reminded me of the lyrics of a hymn that I love:

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

My friends, we are not meant to walk this road alone. Whether you are in ministry, whether you are a Christian or whether neither of those things can be said of you. We are made for relationship. We are made to walk the road together.

Every night my friend Michelle texts me or send me a message on FB to remind me to blog – because we are in this together. We are doing NaBloPoMo together and that means that each day we encourage each other to keep posting. And there have definitely been times where I wouldn’t have posted except that she reminded me.

So look around, see who is walking the road with you, and take a moment to say thanks for their presence in your life.

PJ DAY

Every once in a while I believe it is important to take a day of rest. That hasn’t been something I could do very often this fall. Between a busy season at my church and commitments in my personal life, I have been running from one thing to the next all fall.

Today was different, though. I started with my normal hour-long with Koski and a friend, then had breakfast with my folks who were in town. And then – I had no commitments for the rest of the day. Except for another 1/2 hour walk with Koski, I spent the whole day relaxing at home.

I call this a PJ Day: one where you don’t have to get out of your pj’s of you don’t want to.

I have missed having PJ Days. I hope I will be able to get them more often in the future.

PJ Days are good for my soul.

Change of season…

 

Today there were snow showers in my town. This pic doesn’t really do it justice, but at least you can see some of the flakes. Now, I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of winter. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like that it gets dark so early. I don’t like snow…or at least, I don’t like it once the novelty of it has faded.

For now, the snow is still novel. There is something beautiful about the changing of the seasons. There is something magical about it. In one sense it is utterly ordinary: every year at this time the snow flies. It’s going to happen sometime in November in this part of the world, without a doubt. And yet there is mystery to it – I certainly didn’t expect that snow would be part of today’s story.

There’s something about the change of each season. The first snow of winter. The first crocus of Spring. The first warm day of summer. The first blush of colour in the maple trees of fall. Each time I stop to notice a new season I feel the hand of God at work in our world.

I am reminded of a Nicole Nordeman song that I have loved for years, entitled “Every Season.” Take a moment and check it out here.

Infinitely more than I could ask or imagine

 

Yesterday, my heart was heavy. I poured it out on my blog and then linked to Facebook and asked for prayer from my friends. It’s not the first time I have appealed to friends through social media to pray for me. Every time I have done that, I have been overwhelmed by the response.

As soon as the blog went live I started to receive comments, texts, and emails from friends (some close, some not) who wanted to share a word of support and encouragement.

Every comment and “like” was a blessing to me. And I was reminded that God can, and will, do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. The situation I was talking about yesterday hasn’t resolved itself. But I know I can move forward to deal with it. I know whatever happens I am blessed with friends who will care for me in the midst of it, and a Heavenly Father whose generosity and love know no bounds.

I am thankful.

Sometimes The Way is so hard…

Tonight the 20’s & 30’s group at my church met. I love the folks in this group. They are funny and uplifting. Our conversation sometimes drifts FAR off topic, but at the heart we are all trying to figure out how to follow Jesus.

Which is exactly what tonight’s conversation was about. We watched Francis Chan’s BASIC video entitled “Follow Jesus.” It was an interesting, and (at least for me) surprisingly challenging video. Chan argues that Christians often get it wrong – we often think that following Jesus is something we can do ‘in our heart,’ instead of with real, concrete actions. He uses the example of the childhood game “Follow The Leader.” You can’t play that game by sitting there motionlessly saying “Oh, I’m doing the Leader’s action in my heart.”

He also states that figuring out how to follow Jesus is easy. Just do the things he did and talked about: feed the poor, forgive the people you’re mad at, do nice things for your enemies.

On the one hand, Chan is right. Those things are simple. In theory, at least – because on the other hand, it’s really tough to actually DO those things. Maybe my heart is hard or I am too stubborn, but I don’t WANT to forgive people who make me mad. I want to complain about them and avoid them. Feeding the poor isn’t so difficult, unless the truth is that I’m not doing enough of it. Then it could become very difficult. And don’t get me started on doing nice things for my enemies.

I guess the thing is – this video hit me after a day in which I heard God calling me to an action I don’t want to do. It will be a good thing, it will make me a stronger individual, it has the potential to heal some hurts, and I am willing to bet it will draw me closer to God. But it will also be difficult, awkward, and perhaps painful. I’d rather just avoid it. Sometimes The Way is hard…sometimes following Jesus comes at a great price.

Which I guess begs the question: then why do it? Well, as Chan puts it, where else am I going to go? If Jesus is really the way, the truth and the life, then going a different direction means going away from the way, the truth and the life. I don’t want that. I want abundant life, I want the things God promises, I want the life Jesus dreams of for me.

But sometimes, I wish it didn’t have to cost so much. That is my confession.

 

It has begun!

I posted yesterday that I never have enough time to accomplish everything that I hoped to do in any given day. Today I have decided that one of the ways to deal with this reality is to take things in stages. Instead of trying to clean the whole house at once, it might be smart to spend one day tidying and another day vacuuming and mopping the floors.

Or, take the task of decorating for Christmas. There was no way I was going to get it all done today. Instead of stressing about that, I chose a couple of easily accomplished decorating tasks. I got the bows and sparkly-ball decorations up on the porch at the front of the house, and I put out my nativity set.

These little changes are a great start to my decorating, and I wasn’t overwhelmed by the task before me. I will leave the trees (yes, there are two of them) for a day closer to Advent. I will ask my brother and Dad to help with the lights while they are here later in the week.

In the meantime, I will relax and enjoy the little touches that have begun to bring a Christmas-sparkle to my house.

Not enough time!

I have this issue. I always think there is more time in the day than there actually is. Most days I take a moment in the morning to make a plan for the day. I make a mental checklist of what needs to happen during the day and what I hope I will have time to do.

Inevitably, most of the things I hope I will have time to do go undone. For example, I’d hoped to start my Christmas decorating today. But that just did not happen today. In fact, I was pressed for time to the point that I didn’t get dinner this evening (I had friends over and there were appetizers, so I filled up on those).

This is not a new issue in my life – for years I have always planned to do more in a given day than can actually be accomplished. My best friend and I used to make plans for a day off and we would always end them with “…and then we’ll go to a movie!” It never worked out. We only made it to the movies on days when we didn’t have other plans.

You would think that by now I would have figured out that I should plan on doing a little less because then I might actually accomplish everything on my list. But no, I just continue on planning too much and accomplishing less than I hoped.

Is Christmas coming too fast?

Every year it seems that Christmas paraphernalia shows up in the stores earlier and earlier in the fall. We used to complain when it started the day after Halloween. But I swear this year I saw evidence of Christmas in shops at the end of August.

Personally, I like a long Christmas season and I have been battling against the urge to haul out my Christmas trees and nativity set for at least a week now. I am living in a big old Victorian brick house which just begs for lots of greenery and red ribbons. I cannot wait to deck these halls.

At the same time, I have friends who get downright offended (and cranky!) at the idea of beginning the season early. Some believe it takes away from the meaning of the Season.

I have been running into both sides of this conversation regularly for a week or two now, and so I have been turning the idea of starting early vs. holding off over and over in my mind.

No matter how I try to look at it, I keep coming back to fact that I love all things sparkly and bright and Yule-tide-ish. The longer I can surround myself with reminders of the message and meaning of Christmas, the better off I will be.

So go ahead and hate if you must. But me, I am entering into Christmas early. I am entering into the full joy of the Season. I am going to enjoy every second of it and surround myself with wonder, sparkling lights and a baby who changed the course of my life and the course of history.

Merry Christmas!

PS – I think I may start decorating tomorrow!

It’s Friday! Friday!

I have a tradition. For a few years now, I go to hang out with a group of friends. Two of them are married to each other and have the three most wonderful children.

Case in point: today I arrived and the middle child, Nathan, said to me “Hi Beckah! Me love you face!” My heart just melted. I love these kids!

Coming here, is like coming home. In fact, there have been times that this place, among these people, has felt more like home to me than my own place.

I am blessed by good friends who enrich my life. So if you see me posting #ilovefridays on FB or Twitter, you will know where I am and who I am with.

Thank God, it’s Friday!