Monday, January 25, 2010

My new Baptist identity

A very hip-looking mixed-race couple came to Date Night at St. David's Episcopal last night and I walked over to visit with them. They are not members of the church but came by for Date Night. As we talked, they asked me where I went to church and I told them. They both frowned. "Baptist? Like Southern Baptist?" I said yes and smiled. You could see the wheels turning behind the frowns. After a long pause, the husband said, "But you're like a Jimmy-Carter Baptist, right?"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sometimes I just can't believe my ears

I was driving to work this morning listening to a popular, local radio show when a caller said (no kidding), "Those people in Haiti need to quit running around with their hands in the air, crying "Help us! Help us! (mocking voice)" and they need to bust their butts helping themselves." The conservative host agreed while the mostly impotent moderate host protested.

Later, trying to find something other than that station, I was scanning when the radio stopped on a national program just as the host was asking whether Muslim defendants in U.S. trials would swear to tell the truth on "the American Bible or the Koran." The "American Bible?" Sheesh . . . the willful ignorance in this country astounds me.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Update for 2010

Well, several of you have asked me, "What are you up to lately?" More of you are probably asking yourselves, "Where's our Christmas card?!" Nobody's getting a Christmas card, sorry, but if you still want to know what I'm up to, keep reading.

Of course, first there's the family: Mowgli is back in NC where he belongs. He won't be home for Spring Break (going to Seattle, Vancouver and Yellowstone with friends) so it was hard to let him go. He's so happy there, though, so that helps immeasurably. Boo's doing great--school is stressful but show me a high school junior that isn't stressed out! She's still dancing for fun and enjoying the church youth group. And, of course, all the children at MBC love her!

C and I are still very happy in Austin. The church is full of loving, enthusiastic people and we love the town. He's leading the church in a couple of ways that could be game-changing for the future, long after we've left here. That's the hope, anyway!

I'm spinning even more plates than usual. I'll try to describe some of what I'm doing without boring you to death.

Of course, there's my counseling work. My schedule is now full, after a lull in the summer that scared me a bit. I'm actually referring people out now, trying to keep my schedule from becoming a tsunami that I can't manage. I work late two nights but I take off Fridays (my favorite day!)

You know that I've been working with Faithwalking for a couple of years now. Mission Houston has now contracted with me to to continue to teach Faithwalking retreats (including Missional Marriage) but to add curriculum development and project management to that. These are new skills for me and I'm very excited about supporting the mission of Mission Houston.

Another thing you already know about is the work JTH and I are doing with Reformed churches in Michigan and surrounding areas. In the first 5 months of 2010, we'll be in Michigan 3 times, in addition to Indianapolis and Chicago. It has been a wonderful adventure and an amazing opportunity to work with the same leaders for a couple of years, exploring and experimenting with personal and congregational transformation.

One developing piece is the ministry to strengthen marriages. I'm doing 5 Date Nights at St. David's Episcopal Church in downtown Austin. They have a record crowd and lots of enthusiasm. Also, there are several other Date Nights scheduled for other churches and one for South Austin in general. I've saved some money to hire someone for a bit of help with publicity and admin and that will open up more possibilities.

You can see that there is a lot of travel involved here and that is always fun and always hard. I'll be traveling 9 weeks out of the first 20 of the year and that feels overwhelming to me. On the other hand, every single opportunity is wonderful and I love my life. I've reminded myself to "stay here, stay now" which helps immeasurably and I've taken steps to take care of myself and Boo, especially. And I think every day about how incredibly blessed I am to have C in my life, who unfailingly encourages me and believes in me and makes it all possible, even when it makes his life so much more complicated. And, of course, most of all I'm deeply grateful to God, who called me to this work, equipped me and now sustains me. He has given me the desires of my heart. (Ps. 37:4)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I did it!

Tonight, I did a polar bear swim! I'm a member of a birthday club made up of women from my church and each month, the birthday girl gets to choose the activity. When Holly decided that we would do a polar bear swim in the pool behind her house, we had no idea that the second Saturday in January would be a weekend of record cold! This picture sets the stage:

There were four of us who decided to actually do it and here we are before:

And here we are after:

Just for the record, last night's low was 19 degrees. Today's high was 41. As you can see, the sun was going down when we did this at 6 p.m. It was so fun!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Making a life

I got out my calendar yesterday--the big kind, not the daily calendar on the Blackberry--and noticed that I am out of town at least 9 times in the first 20 weeks of 2010. In addition, I am doing at least 8 Date Nights during that time, leading young adults at MBC and, oh yeah, running a counseling practice.

In that context, I just read Brene Brown's latest post. In case you don't want to read the whole thing, here is the line that made me close the blog window and walk away from my laptop, just trying to absorb it: (after saying that she chooses not to advance her career at the expense of her family) "It's not that I don't care about my work--I do. I'm passionate about my work. I believe in the things I talk about. So much so that I want to make a life out of living them, not just a career out of talking and writing about them."

Don't get me wrong: I don't regret at all the opportunities I have to travel this spring. Every one of them represents something important and meaningful to me. And every one of them represents a portion of the tuition for Mowgli at Guilford College, which is a key goal for this season of my life. And, I'm very aware that spring won't last forever and then there will be a long lull.

But I'm grateful for the reminder to "make a life out of living [my values], not just a career out of talking and writing about them." And I'm grateful for another role model for this crazy working-mother life I live. And I'm especially grateful for all the people who support and surround me and my family and make it possible for me to live this life right now. I love my life.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy new year!

It's a new year! I've always loved the idea of a new beginning--new years, new school years, Sundays marking the beginning of new weeks, new notebooks and new pencils. Appropriately, then, I've spent most of my adult life making elaborate new year's resolutions, listed, color-coded and cross-referenced. I don't do that any more.

What I do now probably looks similar but is fundamentally different. I look for small ways to make big changes--points of leverage where small adjustments or additions to my systems or routines can have disproportionate results. For the past five years, I've found at least one and it really has been amazing to see what is possible.

Anticipating an absolutely insane winter and spring, I intended to take all day today for solitude and quiet, to focus on the possibilities of 2010. I guess you could say that I've had solitude and quiet today but it has mostly been in the bed, wishing I felt better. I haven't taken a day off to be sick in ages, so this was something new. I've learned that the daytime tv offerings on New Year's Day are pitiful but if all you want is distraction, it will do the trick. Other than that realization, today has not been productive at all . . . unless, of course, you want to count allowing my body to rest and heal, which I have decided to count.

One small change I want to make in 2010 is to blog 6 days a week. Since I post to 3 blogs, that shouldn't be hard except that some days, I have no idea what I want to say. Let me just go ahead and apologize in advance for the occasional drivel that I'm sure will result. But, as Anne Lamott says, you have to let yourself write "sh**ty first-drafts" if you want to be a writer, so I'm going to take it on faith that that's true. It certainly seems to be true in many other areas of life.

So, anyway, I'm rambling. Maybe when I feel better, I'll come back and edit. For now, I'm giving thanks for chicken noodle soup and for Sprite and for the son who went to get said Sprite even though he laughed at my firm belief in its medicinal properties. I'm grateful for my comfortable bed and my television with cable and I'm especially, especially grateful that I'm not throwing up. Next time I have a bad or stressful day, I hope I can remember what a wonderful blessing that is.