Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another update

Faithwalking was such a blessing again this time. For those of you who pray for us, thank you. Each time we get better at the teaching part and each time we see lives touched and, hopefully, changed. I have a wonderful life.

I'm heading to Michigan in a few hours. Those of you who know me well know that I've looked at the national weather map (it was an accident--I was watching the Today show) and that I've seen all the thunderstorms between here and Chicago. I'm sure there will be quite a bit of turbulence and maybe some delays but I've got two magazines and two books and a pad of paper and my MP3 player so I should be okay.

I'm going into this energized and fatigued. The days in Michigan are 12 hour days with pastors and their leadership teams. C and I are team preaching again on Sunday morning (after I arrive in Austin Saturday night). I'm truly not complaining--I love this life God has blessed me with. But if you thought to pray for me, for stamina and for the ability to stay present and focused, I'd appreciate it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The latest update

It's Faithwalking time again! I'm headed to Houston in just a few minutes to be ready to start with a new Faithwalking group at 8:00 tomorrow morning. This is always such a special weekend and I always come back changed. On Wednesday, I leave for Michigan to spend time with the Reformed pastors there and their leadership teams--about 125 people in all. You may remember that we were last with them in February here in Texas.

If I've counted right, by April 30, I will have traveled somewhere for speaking/consulting 7 times since the beginning of the year. That's definitely a busier travel schedule than I'm used to but it pretty much comes to a screeching halt on May 1. I have one or two things this summer and one or two in the fall.

An unfortunate byproduct of my travel schedule is that I stopped "shaking the bushes" for new clients after the first of the year. In addition, the clients I had are doing better and therefore coming to sessions less frequently. As a result, my counseling schedule has tapered off quite a bit. May has to be all about getting clients and generating name-recognition. If you have ideas, please share them!

C continues to love his ministry at the church and the good people we serve here. We are team-preaching right now--we preached together last week, he's on his own this week, we'll team up again next week and then I'll be on my own the week after that. We really enjoy working together this way and the feedback we get is terrific.

Also, the vision team for the young adult ministry I lead is coming together in a really exciting way and I'm excited to see what God is about to do in that arena. The challenge is not letting more urgent things distract me from patient leadership with these young adults.

Boo is doing great as well. She's overwhelmed with homework right now but that should taper off soon. She still loves dance and will be in three dances in the spring recital. I just talked to Mowgli last night and he is working really, really hard to wrap things up for the semester and will be home in less than two weeks! He'll work at HEB and go to summer school.

So, that's about it--just realized there is a lot going on and I hadn't updated you in awhile.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Everything you never wanted to know about me

I've been tagged by the electric monk to answer these questions on my blog. If you blog, consider yourself tagged.

The rules: Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention; add a question of your own.

Why do you blog?
It started as a way to keep up with friends after I moved. I've since learned that most of those friends have no interest in the blog (not sure what that means) so it's become more of a journal and a means of self-expression. I'm enough of a writer to need and enjoy that and I appreciate having the outlet for it. Of course, I'm also pretty narcissistic!

Do you nap a lot?
I used to be a world-class champion napper but I've lost the touch.

Who was the last person you hugged?
People in my Sunday School class as they left the house last night.

Have you ever had an altercation with the police?
Are you kidding? I'm the biggest rule-follower ever.

What was the last thing you bought?
Contacts solution at Walmart (for my new bifocal contacts!)

What are you listening to right now?
Podcast from Blog

What is your favorite weather?
60's or 70's, blue sky, low humidity

What’s on your bedside table?
Lamp, book (reJesus), hand lotion

Say something to the person/s who tagged you.
I need you to teach me how to post videos on the blog.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be?
Fully paid for? How about Austin, TX? No . . . something on a secluded lake somewhere, Tennessee or North Carolina would be beautiful but Texas is fine, too.

Favorite vacation spot?
See above

Name the things you can’t live without:
Books. Magazines. Dr. Pepper. C. The internet.

What would you like to have in your hands right now?
Plane tickets to NYC for all 4 of us, along with hotel reservations and Broadway tickets

What is your favorite tea flavor?
Christmas blend.

What would you like to get rid of?
30 pounds

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
North Carolina, to say hi to Mowgli

What did you want to become as a child?
A nun or a missionary. A "brain doctor." A writer.

What do you like better, e-mail or telephone calls?
Email for getting things done, telephone for friendship.

What do you do when you get time alone?
Read. Piddle. Watch movies. Organize things.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just what I needed to hear

This was my email devotional on Monday. It's by Eugene Peterson, author of The Message.

I want to simplify your lives. When others are telling you to read more, I want to tell you to read less; when others are telling you to do more, I want to tell you to do less. The world does not need more of you; it needs more of God. Your friends do not need more of you; they need more of God. And you don't need more of you; you need more of God. For we do not progress in the Christian life by becoming more competent, more knowledgeable, more virtuous or more energetic. We do not advance in the Christian life by acquiring expertise. Each day, and many times each day, we need more of God. Back to Square One.

The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out –
but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

l JOHN 2:17

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What church could be

I haven't yet learned how to put a video here so just follow this link:

I hope it touches you and inspires you like it did me.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I believe in mindfulness and learn about it. I teach it. I try to practice it. I truly believe that it is one important answer to most of our human problems.

Well, let me just say that there is nothing like finding a rattlesnake in the garage--which is part of the house!--to make a person mindful! I was the last to snap to the fact that the sound we were hearing was actually a rattlesnake. I was distracted, looking for something, on a mission to accomplish something like I usually am. So I heard it but didn't even look, didn't even notice.

Needless to say, now I am mindful. I watch where I step. I listen. I pay attention. I am more fully aware.

If only I could learn to be this mindful looking for God . . .

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter excitement

We heard the rattling before we actually saw the snake. Dad held it down with a rake while C chopped it in half with a shovel. Now I'm steering clear of the garage. Does anyone know if rattlesnakes travel in pairs?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday

Have you ever seen anyone prepare a body after death? When I was a hospital chaplain, I was sometimes privy to the small rituals that nurses perform after the death of patient, especially when the family is coming in to view the body. They close the eyes and arrange the mouth, adjusting the angle of the bed if necessary to let gravity help. They wash the body with professional tenderness--in the ER, this is particularly important. Sometimes they arrange the hair or the hands so that the person appears more natural, less ravaged by the disease or the trauma that took her life.

I have long been fascinated by the story recorded by John (19:38-42) about the treatment of Jesus' body after his death. It seems that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (both well-respected and probably affluent religious leaders) were concerned about what would happen to a common criminal's body after it was removed from a pagan cross. Even though he was a heretic and a traitor to his religion, they wanted him to be treated in a way that would reflect his Jewish heritage and life. They asked for his body, prepared it for burial with spices and oils, and then laid it to rest in Joseph's own family's tomb.

This intrigues me. We know almost nothing about how closely they followed him during his public ministry but we know they were not in his inner circle. What, then, gave them the courage to identify with him after his execution? When his true friends were absent with fear, what made them want to keep following, doing the only thing that was left to do? When the story of Jesus had apparently ended in the most disillusioning way possible, why did these two men care whether he at least had a proper burial?

We can safely assume that these two men had never prepared a body for burial before. For one thing, that was the work of women (as we see when the women come to the tomb the next day.) For another, touching a corpse made a person ritually unclean and these were two religious leaders. In fact, this story almost certainly takes place during the Sabbath. This act of friendship is also a subversive act, an early skirmish in the revolution of grace that is about to begin.

Can you see them working together in awkward, mournful silence? Can you picture the intimacy of their ministrations as they use herbs and spiced oils to soften the skin of the broken body of their friend, now heavy in death? Can you imagine the breaking of their hearts, the tears running silently into their beards, their occasional sighs full of loss and grief? Can you see their love?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Maundy Thursday memories

We're heading out the door for Maundy Thursday services in just a couple of minutes. C always does a simple, Scripture-focused silent communion service for this day of Holy Week and it is truly lovely. When Mowgli called earlier this week, he remembered with fondness the Thursday services and said they were always his favorite. His exact words: "They were very Quaker-like."

Many years ago now, it was at Maundy Thursday services that Boo first expressed her desire to be a Christian. I was at work that night so C told her to wait for Mommy. As it turned out, we all piled onto her bed on Easter Sunday morning and she bowed her head and folded her hands in her lap and gave her heart to Jesus. Sweet memories . . .

Another excerpt from Wendell Berry

I will remember 2009 as the year I discovered Wendell Berry. My only regret is that I don't seem to be able to slow down enough to read him as slowly as he deserves to be read. Here's another excerpt (from Jayber Crow):

One Saturday evening, while Troy was still awaiting his turn in the [barber] chair, the subject was started and Troy said--it was about the third thing he said--"They ought to round up every one of them sons of bitches and put them right in front of the damned communists, and then whoever killed who, it would all be to the good."
There was a pause after that. Nobody wanted to try to top it.
It was hard to do, but I quit cutting hair and looked at Troy. I said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you."
Troy jerked his head up and widened his eyes at me. "Where did you get that crap?"
I said, "Jesus Christ."
And Troy said, "Oh."
It would have been a great moment in the history of Christianity except that I did not love Troy.