Thursday, September 4, 2014

Marking Time

How is it that a year can pass with little or no thought? My busy, busy job makes my mind swim at times. So when I'm not at work, I feel the need for blankness. Absence of thought or purpose. Time passing without fanfare.

When I look at my blog, I feel a great loss. The year that's passed has been an amazing one, and yet my absence of thought is greatly apparent on my blog. Some might think my blank blog is evidence that I don't have thoughts or experiences to share. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I've had a great number of experience in the past year. And I've had some time for reflection too.

I spent a good bit of time after I returned from Latvia getting involved in our ministries there. Planning, communicating, meeting and sharing. I went to Tennessee for the Friends of Latvia meeting, and became the FOL Secretary. I built a website and implemented an electronic news platform.

I had a great struggle in June as I turned 40 and tried to decide how I felt about it. I still haven't articulated a philosophy. Many tell me that I don't need one, but it's something I ruminate about. I need a mindset to keep me centered.

I spent my 40th birthday in the airport, waiting on a flight to Chicago that was delayed, canceled, etc. The next few days, Kef and I did important things. Whether they were big or little, the time was important. It was good to be together. And we didn't argue once (that I can recall).

I spent time researching the Crater and Rae and Caldwell families, and still have more to learn.

Work has been hectic and difficult. We've had a lot of change, which makes for many challenges. Our staff is in flux, and our ministries seem to be marking time until the "what's next" begins. Our attendance has been down as people try to decide where and whether they fit. We're at a crossroads with growth, and our only option is moving forward in faith. It all makes me weary, but I persevere... as we all do.

Interestingly, today I feel almost verbatim like I felt a year ago... on August 27, 2013. My dogs are my joy. My home is my refuge. Every day, I'm ready to be there and stay there. And when I get there, I'll likely ignore my blog as I've done for the past year. I'll likely sit on the patio and watch the dogs chase butterflies and squirrels. I'll probably snack and watch tv and put a puzzle together and read a book and play a game and draw a tangle.

But I probably won't take time to write. As much as I love to do it, I'll probably wait another year and wonder where all my lofty thoughts went and why I didn't record them while they were fresh.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

One God

As I sat in worship at FUMC Colleyville this morning, I reflected on the past seven weeks. I have worshiped more consistently every week over this time that I've been out of town than I have when I've been at home. I just thought I'd put some of my thoughts down on blog...

Seven weeks ago, I was being commissioned to go on a mission trip. The next couple of Sundays were spent worshiping with the Czech, expatriates and Latvians. Then I came home and worshiped with FUMC Grapevine's Spanish-speaking congregation. The following week I was in worship at a Cumberland Presbyterian church in rural Tennessee, followed the next week by a vibrant Methodist Church in Maryville, TN.

Visiting other churches has really made me think about what we demand in our worship experiences. Are we focused on God, or on the experiences and styles we like or don't like? In the eight congregations I've encountered in the past seven weeks, I've found that they all have one thing in common: faith. Whether their worship is simple or reverent or vibrant... slow or fast... traditional or contemporary or blended... the opportunity to connect with God was available for all. And the people in the pews are faithful and committed.

The only barrier to worship seems to be your own mentality. If you'll be fully present, open and willing, then worship happens regardless of the music or surroundings or people sitting beside you. I hope that I've learned something about myself and about the church in the past few weeks. What I hope more than anything is that I'll be able to find some peace about my own struggle to reconcile work with church... especially since they're one and the same.

Friday, September 6, 2013

First Mission

As I prepare to go on my first mission trip, there are a lot of things on my mind. On the one hand, I'm excited about the trip... about seeing new places and learning about a different culture. But I have some fears too. What if I don't connect on an emotional level with the ministries we visit? What if we go exploring and decide that we don't think we should add this as another Village ministry? What if I don't have a spiritual experience there? What if I don't feel what other people feel when they go on a mission trip?

I have so many things to get done before we leave that I haven't had time to really spend much time preparing myself mentally or spiritually. It's probably for the best that I don't have more time to worry and fret over the little things. I'm really hoping that by the time we leave I'll have some peace and be able to openly accept and experience everything that's ahead of us.

And as for the fears... I just have to trust that whatever happens on this trip is what is meant to be. I may have to make a concerted effort to open my heart and mind to the possibilities. I hope it's not as hard as I think it will be.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Someone asked me at the airport today whether I'd rather be in Chicago or DFW. Chicago is fine... and DFW is fine... but my answer was, "I'd rather be home."

There's something about that word. It doesn't really matter where "home" is... whether on the east coast or west coast or south or midwest... home is wherever you want most to be. One definition... "relating to the place where one lives." It's the place - literally - where I live... where I'm most alive.

As much as I love visiting family and friends... going on vacation... having the opportunity to travel... what I most love in the world is being at home.

For the next couple of months I'll be travelling more than usual, so home will be more amazing than usual. I'm excited and ready for my upcoming trips... but I'm already ready to be home. :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This Sunday we're beginning a series of sermons on "Our Favorite Sins." This is based on research by the Barna Group... the result of surveys of people about their perceived sins. One of the "sins" people report is overeating. As we were discussing this, the subject of obesity came up... and I cringed.

People assume that everyone who is fat is an over-eater, or an emotional eater. People assume that people who are thin don't overeat. I just hope that the sermon doesn't villainize people who look different than our society's ideal, just because of our assumptions and judgments about their spiritual state, their health and their diet. You can't judge a book by its cover.

Take me, for example. I am fat, no doubt. I hesitate to use the word "overweight" because that implies that there is a "right weight" - and that is so subjective. I refuse to accept our society's standards for what is the right weight, the right way to look, the right size to be. I'll readily admit that sometimes I eat too much. But I don't eat any differently than smaller people around me. I strongly believe that the reason I am the size I am is because of the biological damage I've done to my body with yo-yo dieting. I refuse to diet again for this very reason.

So is it a sin to be fat? No. Sin is anything that separates me from God. If anything, living in our society with the stigma of being fat draws me closer to God. The sin related to food is trying to replace God with food... To replace the hole in your heart by filling the hole in your stomach. Sure, we all do that on occasion. But for me... that's not the source of my obesity. The source of my obesity is spending too many years listening to what other people said my body should look like. Enough of that. I've washed my hands of it. And I feel closer to God than ever... because I've finally accepted that He knows better than I do who He created me to be. "Bigness" and all.

Since I've stopped weighing my self-worth with a scale, I've maintained my size... something that has never happened to me before (I've always either been gaining or losing... never static). I have to make a conscious decision to be happy with who I am, regardless of size. If my size changes, it won't be because I tried to manipulate it... it will be because my body is regulating itself. And I strongly believe that that's how our Creator intended it to be.