Thursday, February 28, 2008

Want to come to my pity party?

Last weekend, I was at Highland Lakes Baptist Encampment for their annual Ladies' Retreat. I went to Highland Lakes for church camp in junior high and still have memories--good and bad--that I hadn't thought much about until I went back.

I had been asked back in October to do a workshop for ministry wives on the expectations that we live under and how to exchange pleasing others for following Jesus. A day and a half before the retreat was to begin, I was told that they had changed the title and were including all the retreatants--and no one had told me! Their assumption was, I found out later, that all women live under the expectations of others and would benefit. I, of course, had tailored my workshop to the UNIQUE expectations that ministry wives live under. Aaaarrrggh! They were very nonchalant about it, assuming that, once I got there and saw who came to my workshop, I could decide what to do. This, of course, was after hours of preparation on my part.

So I ended up speaking about half the time to the ministry wives who attended and the other half to women in general. The feedback I got on the evaluation was that ministry wives felt that it didn't allow them to talk honestly because there were other women there and that they wished they had had their own session. So, there.

The only agendas I had for the weekend were to bless ministry wives and to meet ministry leaders from Austin to continue to build my referral base. It wasn't really a paying gig, so I needed some other reason to be there. When I got there, I quickly realized that there was no one from Austin at the retreat. I met one woman from Austin and all the rest were from the small, surrounding Central Texas towns (Llano, Lampasas, Burnet, some tiny ones I never heard of). So, pooh--struck out on both counts.

I leave tomorrow for the BGCT Ministry Wives retreat at Glen Rose to do a workshop on Ministry Transitions. Again, not really a paying gig, so I had three goals: to bless ministry wives, to meet other ministry wives from Austin, and to spend the weekend with my long-time and much-missed friend FrostyRogers. Well, registration is way down this year and as far as anyone knows, no one else is attending from Austin and my friend is sick and can't go with me. Double pooh.

The best moment at Highland Lakes this past weekend was sitting on a bench overlooking a royal blue lake when deer thundered past right in front of me. (I was really delighted until I had the thought, "I wonder what they're running from . . . ." But I guess they were just running for fun.) And this weekend, I'll be in beautiful surroundings again and with very nice people that I've met through the years of being involved in Baptist work. So, it's good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some days

Some days you just want to beat your head against concrete because you know how much better people's lives could be if they could just summon up a smidgen of maturity or self-awareness. Instead, when you suggest something, hinting that now is the time for them to reach down deep and make changes, move toward being their best selves, they look at you with confused eyes and protest, "But it's her fault, his fault." And that's when you want to just stand up and leave and go home and watch something really stupid on TV.

But every now and then, you get to sit quietly in your chair and watch people come up with reserves of humility and kindness that they didn't even know they had, and move toward each other in hesitant new ways. On those days, you realize that you have a front-row seat for the great sacred drama of grace and you not only don't want to leave, you don't even want to breathe, for fear of spoiling the whole thing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Drive Friendly

Boo got her driver's permit last week. So when you're trapped behind a driver going too slow or the person in the next lane seems to have no idea what they're doing or someone cuts in front of you and then slows down--clueless--just remind yourself that it might be a student driver with a panicked parent in the passenger's seat (which is not equipped with a brake, no matter how hard you press on the floor) and be kind.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Just an update

This is just to catch you up on what's going on around here.

C is now one of only two full-time staff members (pretty unheard of with a weekly attendance of over 500)--the other is our youth pastor--and one very part-time staff person. Half the staff left in Jan (no connection to C), which means he is either working or thinking about work all the time. Part of the issue is that he is still committed to the ministry he had planned before we lost the rest of the staff. The congregation, as lovely as they are, seem to have no clue--but they also make very few demands and seem very happy with everything he does.

Mowgli will finish up his senior year soon and is still looking at small liberal-arts colleges in North Carolina. He and I will take a trip in March so that he can make sure this is still what he wants to do. Guilford and Davidson are at the top of the list. He's also still working every weekend, going to concerts every chance he gets, reading voraciously, and keeping up with the political scene.

Boo got her driver's permit this week! She still, as C puts it, is scared of the accelerator but she drives to the mailbox and around the church parking lot--even cutting across to the Methodist church from time to time. She continues to enjoy dance and loves the youth group--thanks be to God and to our youth pastor!

I'm seeing 6 clients now--3 clergy couples, 1 "regular" couple, a UT student, and an elderly lady. I really thought it would have picked up by now, but I made my rent in the first week of Feb (yay!) and I do enjoy these clients very much. I have three more gigs this month--a leadership retreat for a Lutheran church (ELCA) tomorrow, the Highland Lakes women's retreat (I'm doing the workshop for minister's wives--which will be fun and, I hope, a source of referrals), and the BGCT minister's wives retreat (also, I hope, a chance to meet some women from Austin). I'm figuring out that I must be a little more lonesome than I realized because every time I've been with friends lately, I've been even more talkative than usual (I know, some of you who have known me a long time just fell off your chairs laughing . . . ). It just feels good to be with someone I'm not just getting to know. I had a wonderful time this week with a friend from high school--the only one I keep up with--she is just delightful and I'm thrilled that she called to say she was in town.

Well, that's your update for now . . . let me hear how you're doing, OK? Like I said, I'm just a little bit lonesome!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Several of you have asked, "How was Colorado?" and I can honestly say it was wonderful. Three reasons: It was absolutely beautiful, the people were outstanding, and it's exhilerating to be part of something new.

SonRise Mountain Ranch is a 45-minute drive up into the mountains surrounding Montrose, CO, in the western part of the state. Unlike a ski resort, which is full of hotels, shops, restaurants, etc., SonRise is mostly alone at the top of the mountain. Everywhere you look, there is only breathtaking natural beauty and all you can hear is quiet. Before we came, they had gotten quite a bit of snow and this is what it looked like:

I slept in the loft of a tiny cabin surrounded by the moonlight streaming in my window at night. I have never seen so many stars!

There are three families who run the retreat center, two with school-age children and one with a new baby. They are all deeply committed to this work and live in intentional community there at the top of the mountain. We were so impressed by their hospitality, which they made look effortless, and reminded of its importance in our own lives.

Here is the cabin that I shared with my dear friend (now dearer) BH:

Before we left, there were two more inches of snow and lots of wind making the trip down the mountain fairly treacherous. We started out with lots of nervous talking and laughing but we were pretty quiet when the snow started blowing and obscuring the road. I could live without that part of the experience!

Of course, the biggest blessings of Faithwalking are the Faithwalkers! Here they are:

These are 19 people (mostly laypeople) who are deeply committed to intentionally mobilize the Body of Christ where they work and live, extending the influence of the gospel outside the walls of the church building and into the world where God is passionately pursuing "the least and the lost." They continually surprise me with their ability to think creatively about how to seek the good of the communities in which they live and work and their commitment to live out their vision of transformation. And besides, they're just great people! Hearing their stories and sharing their lives, even for just four days, was a privilege.

"For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. And we are ministers of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:19