Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I've been feeling melancholy all day--maybe because it's a week and a day until we take Mowgli to NC (ya think?!) and I'm realizing this is over. Some of you are really anxious right now because you want me to understand that I'll be fine, that it gets better, that they never really leave, it's a new beginning . . . I get it, I get it. But this is over.
When C was sick with meningitis (before we knew what it was) and he was having what appeared to be what is euphemistically refer to as a "neurological event," he gripped my hand and said through his locked jaw, eyes intense on mine, "I have no regrets. I have no regrets." We repeat those words from time to time, when things are scary or sad.
I've been thinking about that a lot today. I was not a perfect mom. I wish I had known then some of what I know now. There are things I would have done differently. But I left it all on the field. And I have no regrets.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I've found a new spiritual director (thanks, MJO, for your help with that). It feels like I can breathe a little easier, knowing that someone else will be walking this journey beside me again. She is Episcopalian and meets with her directees in a lovelyhilltop sanctuary surrounded by Texas hill country not too far from my house.
She is like so many of the spiritual directors I have met through the years--restful and quiet and kind. Just being in her presence makes my blood pressure drop, my breathing deepen, my mind turn toward God. This ministry of spiritual friendship is a deep blessing for the Church and for me.
I'm still not sure what I want from the process this time . . . maybe I'm learning to wait and see what will come. I know that I long for someone to do for me what I do for others--to create space for me to explore and wonder and gather. I also know that I have to grapple again with the doubt that always threatens to knock me over and grab me by the throat--that sometimes gets so scary that I can't breathe or think or pray and I have to disconnect. Disconnected isn't a place I want to live in. I'll need someone sturdy and brave to help me with that.
I also love the way that spiritual direction helps me to live mindfully, to live with the end in mind, to take my choices out and look at them and make sure they're taking me where I want to go. That alone is priceless.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I was 7, I think, when I decided to give my life to Christ during VBS (we called it "asking Jesus into your heart" and I was actually just making it official). And it was during VBS when I first heard the call to ministry as an earnest nine-year-old. I still remember that moment in time-slowing detail and it guides me even today. I still remember going to VBS at the Lutheran church on the hill and at the Church of Christ and at my grandparents' churches--all different places, different faces but essentially the same.
I started helping my mom when I was a young teenager, old enough to know I didn't really like kids but I liked ministry. Then there were Backyard Bible Clubs in shabby neighborhoods on every youth mission trip throughout my teenage years. In college, I was the youth director at a small-town church in a nearby town and one of my main duties was directing the Bible School. I felt very important and also very humbled--after all, these church women knew so much more than I did about it. Now I know that none of them wanted the job and were more than happy to watch me run around like a crazy person buying pipe cleaners and making copies and spray painting posters.
After that, I took a short break from VBS--the year we were married and the next year and then I taught every year after that until last year with the single exception of the year we moved to CLBC. Since we had just moved the week before, I didn't have a job at VBS so I just went and sat in the teachers' snack room every day and got to know just about every woman in the church over cookies and soft drinks as they took a short break from the hardest volunteer job the church has to offer.
In the last 15 years, I have been a site director for 13 teaching sites--there was the general store, the Arctic explorer's post, the jungle tent, the desert island (we moved about 30 pounds of sand into the choir room for that one). There was the Bible-day market (ours ended up looking a lot like the set from a harem movie) and the secret agents' lair and the mountain climbers' cabin. Every year the kids got older but because we stayed in one place for so long, we got to watch them grow from little ones to teenaged helpers. Recently I attended the wedding of a boy I first taught the year we were all spies on a secret mission.
This year, I provided snacks (I tried to make really good snacks) for the teachers in VBS at our new church. I dropped Boo off and looked around at all the sets and tried to be encouraging and enthusiastic. And then I left. And, shhhh, don't tell . . . it felt wonderful!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
That night, she had a swimming party at our neighborhood pool. It was a beautiful, cool night and the sky was gorgeous all around us as the sun went down. About 20 kids and adults showed up and Boo glowed the whole time. Here are a few photos:
Thursday, July 3, 2008
We still love Austin, even though we don't get a chance to do much. Between grand jury and meeting pastors, I've learned to navigate the city pretty well. Remember when I used to be terrified to drive on the freeway in Houston? That seems like a lifetime ago. I get places early because I forget that "the other side of town" is a LOT closer than it used to be. On the other hand, in Houston, only the Katy Freeway and part of 290 can compare traffic-wise to Austin.
We are still without several staff positions so C is working all the time but has gotten much better at protecting his heart and his time. We'll be happy when the staff is complete again, though. He still loves it here and feels effective and creative.
No vacation this year--just an 8 day trip to get Mowgli to North Carolina, get him settled and drive home as fast as we can so C can preach on Sunday. He starts school on August 13. I'm doing okay, thanks for wondering. I was really sad at the first of the year but I'm doing much better. He's so excited about it, that helps.
I'm seeing about 7-9 clients per week, with about 12 clients total. I still need to double my client load and don't fully understand why that's not happening faster. The good news is that my current load pays the bills and a little more; the bad news is that it won't for the long term.
I'm also working on some other projects:
- a community-based marriage preparation program designed for couples from small-medium sized churches as well as couples who don't go to church, "Happily Ever After." I'm pitching it to local congregations and trying to raise money.
- a marriage support format called "Dinner and a Marriage"
- marketing my skills and experience in counseling ministry leaders
- creating a leadership development program for a small denomination headquartered in Michigan
- continued work with Faithwalking
- putting together at least one group for women ministry leaders connected to the Pastors In Covenant ministry here in Austin
- maybe even doing some writing . . . haven't given myself over to this one yet, but
And then, of course, there's home. We're teaching Boo how to drive and making sure Mowgli knows everything he needs to know before he leaves home. If your children are little, go kiss them on their sweaty little heads because it will be over before you know it.
At church, I'm playing a pretty traditional ministry wife role, trying to get to know people and hear their stories. We're also transitioning from my Young Married Sunday School class to a comprehensive Young Adult Ministry and I'll be helping to head that up. I try to stay active in Women's Ministry without actually serving on the committee, so I'm having a book club at my house in August. You know that in Houston, I never sat in the same place on Sunday mornings, preferring to move around and sit with different people. But here, every week, someone says to me, "I haven't seen you in ages," which means they're telling other people, "I love our new pastor but his wife doesn't come very often," so I think I'll pick a spot and stick with it. Live and learn!
For the first time in my life, I'm exercising regularly and I thoroughly enjoy it. I can't seem to make myself get up early to go work out, but maybe that will come as I get busier.
So I'm doing well but miss all of you more than you can imagine. I know, I know, we have technology nowadays that can help with that--I'm terrible--but I just wanted you to know. Love to all--
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
But what about lately? Well, first there was the commentator (white, female) who was talking about the Clinton's unfortunate comment implying that Obama might be assassinated before the election. This pundit then says that "some want to 'knock off Osama . . . Obama . . . (laughing) well, both, if we could." I don't remember which Fox personality said that he didn't want to "go on a lynching party" against Michelle Obama, then added, "unless (unless??) there's hard evidence" that she holds what he would consider anti-American views. Then there was the referral by a Fox News anchor to the Obamas' "terrorist fist jab"--what?! A banner headline at the bottom of the page refers to Michelle Obama as "Obama's baby mama"--that one can't even be attributed to an accidental gaffe since someone actually wrote it down and thought it would be okay. And don't even get me started about Ann Coulter.
I guess what bothers me most is that this is the most popular cable news source in the country and that there just doesn't seem to be much outrage on the part of its viewers. Sean Hannity defends some of his more outrageous comments by saying that he received no negative mail about them. Is that because the kinds of people who watch Fox News aren't offended by these things? Am I too sensitive because I am? Don Imus's comment about the Rutgers' womens' basketball team was not substantially more racist or sexist than the idea that Michelle Obama--an accomplished attorney and businesswoman--can be reduced to "Obama's baby mama." He lost his job, his show, and his reputation. People at least pretended to be outraged. I just don't get it.
I make it a point to make sure I'm getting my news and opinions from a variety of sources, including those that don't typically reflect my views, which means that I occasionally listen to a particular talk show that makes me want to shoot my radio--it's good practice in self-differentiation and I do actually learn something from time to time. I worry about people who only go to the news channels and websites that support their views (something you couldn't really do when your only options were the national ten o'clock news and your local daily paper) and I worry about the culture they form.