I am super excited. Some friends that have been trying for awhile to get pregnant are NOW pregnant! How exciting! I am so happy for them. I must admit my heart sinks everytime I hear that someone else is pregnant not because I am not happy for them because I truly am but rather because Im not at that phase in my life yet. But I did realize something the other day driving home from camp….in my own way I do have my own children. Ok so I have to explain a little. The camp counselors are almost young enough to be my children….mind you I would have been pretty young when I had them…but they mean a lot to me. Some of them I’ve known since they were little. Some of them were my campers and now they are camp counselors. The reality is I am glad that they are in my life and I care deeply about them. I dont want to see them hurting or in pain. Maybe for now that is my mission on this earth to be a caring adult/mentor in someone else’s life until Mr.Right comes into my life!

Friday Five Questions

1. Do you tend to be a late person or one who is timely, arriving on time or earlier?
I definetely tend to be an early bird!

2. Have you forgotten anything of importance lately?
Not that I can remember.

3. Is procrastination your inclination? Why or why not?
I never use to be a procrastinator and usually dont tend to be. However I definetely did learn the art of procrastinating from some friends at seminary….LOL! So to answer the question, depends on what it is…sometime procrastination is in my inclination and other times it is not!

4. Do you like schedules or spontaneity? Which works best for you? Schedules but I am getting better at being more spontaneous!

5. How do you stay on track with the various things you need to, people you must meet, etc., etc.? Cell phone calendar, my planner, etc

Camp Celebration

Wow….boy am I tired but an absolute good tired. I really want to take a nap but wanted to post to my blog first. The past four days have been absolutely amazing. I’ve been spending them at Super Awesome Bible Camp (Camp of the Cross) with my mom. My mom was attending a camp called “Camp Celebration.” Camp Celebration is a new camp the camp is doing for mentally, physically, and developmentally handicapped individuals. They only had two people registered so the invitation was extended to residents of the nursing home my mom lives at. The camp called me to see if I wanted to spend it with them. The amazing thing was it was an awesome opportunity and I was able to get away and spend it with my mom. My mom has lived a hard life. She has faced many obstacles and difficulties yet she still walks through life as this amazing woman of God! She and the other ladies who were at camp taught me so much about what it means to live completely and wholly as who God created us to be! Mom has difficulty walking which luckily the camp let her ride around in a golf cart but she was such a trooper. She walked when she could. I never heard her or any of the other campers complain once! I went to camp expecting to spend time with my mom but instead I was surprised by how much the other campers taught me as well. They all have such a joy for life and never complained. They even tried new things when they werent sure about it. Being at camp I feel so loved and honored to be a part of this place that has touched my life in so many ways. Thank you CCM for blessing my mom’s life too. My mom often says she is proud of me and my sister Andrea. But I have to be honest, Mom, I am so glad that some of my camp friends and even some new camp staff got to see who you truly are. Today more than ever I am honored to be your daughter!

God’s Masterpiece

I’m at my favorite place: Super Awesome Bible Camp for the next three days or so. There is just something absolutely special about being in this place for me. It is hard to even put into words. Tonight we were taking about how we are God’s masterpieces. I so see that here in this place. One of the reasons I am here this week is because my mom is attending Camp Celebration: a camp for people with developmental disabilities etc. The nursing home she lives at invited her to come here. I came to hang out with her but also because I’ll take any excuse I can to come hang out here! When I walked in the doors tonight, I was practically mawled by some of the staff who know me from when I was a camper. Craziness huh! I love this place with all my heart and soul! It will always hold an absolutely special place in my heart. I definetely know that I am one of God’s masterpieces when I am here. It is a good reminder to be who God created me (and us) to be! I think sometimes I/we forget that especially when life gets difficult etc.

Mourning Into Dancing (Sermon for 6-6-2010)

Have you ever paid attention at a wedding dance as the new couple glides across the dance floor?// Have you ever observed a child dance exuberantly as part of a dance team?// Have you watched an elderly couple who have been married for a long time dance together?// Growing up there was just something special about watching my grandparents move across the dance floor. As I watched them, I saw pure joy captured across their faces.// But how do we capture that joy in the midst of pain, grief, despair, and sadness?// In other words, how does God turn out mourning into dancing?//

In today’s gospel text, the widowed woman in Nein which is five miles NE of Nazareth is grieving the loss of her one and only son.// Jesus arrives with his disciples and tells her to stop weeping. These are not the words she wants to here. In all actuality, they are the very last words she wants to hear!// But then something unexpected happens.// Jesus brings her son back to life.// I can’t even begin to imagine what this woman felt when her only son was suddenly alive again because of Jesus’ actions.// Because of Jesus’ actions, it seems that she is able to turn her mourning into dancing. Her tears of pain suddenly become tears of joy!//

Even though Jesus brings the widow’s son back to life, we realize that Jesus doesn’t resurrect every day. Throughout our lives, we still grieve.// We still encounter obstacles in our own lives.// We have a hard time turning our mourning into dancing especially when life throws obstacles at us that we don’t expect! Maybe it is an unexpected death, an unexpected diagnosis, or whatever life may throw at us!// The reality is that God doesn’t resurrect people every day. Yet God truly does help us heal and turns our mourning into dancing.// God’s role continues to be that of healing and restoration for all God’s people.// God loves and cares for each of us!//

Well-known author and theologian Henri Nouwen in his book Turn My Mourning Into Dancing writes, “We still ache in grief when death visits those we love or flinch when it approaches us, of course. We will suffer in many ways. But our pangs will be more like labor pains that bring new life. That bring into our world a new life. Facing death allows us to experience that life in a way our denial never can permit. Inviting God into our grief will mean we will never walk alone.// In all actuality, God has the ultimate power over death.

Almost two years ago, my cousin LeAnn was faced with death when her first child died after nearly 6 months of life. In the midst of her pain, LeAnn felt God walking with her. She knew that she was not alone. And almost a month ago, she felt God with her as she gave birth to her second child; a son, Jack Elliott.// Then this past January my friend Renee unexpectedly lost her husband Ben in the Haiti earthquake. Since Ben’s death, Renee and the rest of Ben’s family have not walked alone. God has and continues to walk with them in the midst of the pain and will eventually turn their mourning into dancing.// How have you felt God walking with you in the midst of your own grief?// In all our grief, God helps us turn our sorrow into joy, our grief into celebration, and our mourning into dancing.//

When our mourning is finally turned into dancing, we move from being lamenters of God to praising God’s name realizing that God truly does have the ultimate power over death.// I am reminded of the words of Ben Larson’s song “Mourning into Dancing” based on Psalm 30.// He writes, “You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken my sorrows and clothed me with joy so that my soul may praise and not be silent, may praise and not be silent.// Oh Lord my God I will give you thanks forever!”// God truly does take away our sorrows allowing us to once again feel joy!//

Nouwen writes, “The hardships we all endure require more than words, of course, even spiritual words.// Eloquent phrases cannot soothe our deep pain.// But we do find something to lead and guide us through.// We hear an invitation to allow our mourning to become a place of healing, and our sadness a way through pain to dancing.// We learn to look fully into our losses, not evade them.// By greeting life’s pains with something other than denial we may find something unexpected. By inviting God into our difficulties we ground life—even its sad moments—in joy and hope.”//

I’m compelled by Nouwen’s words.// This past January on a Wednesday morning as I sat with my small group at the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event, we strained our ears to listen to one of Ben Larson’s songs as they rose out of the computer speakers. As we listened to Ben’s words, we found ourselves reflecting on how he was missing in Haiti.//

Then Thursday morning, I was awakened by the ring of my cell phone by Shera; one of my small group members and also a student at Wartburg Seminary.// Something within me knew that death was near.//And my fears were confirmed when Shera came to my door and told me that Ben was now confirmed dead.// I don’t remember much about that day but what I do remember is Ben’s version of Psalm 30 playing as a prelude as everyone gathered for our last worship together.// Since January, I often find myself listening to Ben’s version of Psalm 30.// In the midst of death, Ben’s words have brought me (and many others) peace allowing his words to come to life; allowing our mourning to be turned into dancing.”//

When we finally are able to move from mourning into dancing, God opens our hearts to move from grief to celebration and from sorrow to joy.// In the words of Henri Nouwen, “We can ultimately find a healing that lets our wounded spirits dance again, that lets them dance unafraid of suffering and even death because we learn to live with lasting hope.// Confronting our death ultimately allows us better to live. And better to dance with God’s joy amid the sorrowing nights and the hopeful mornings.”// Therefore come and dance knowing that weeping may come for the night but joy comes in the morning. Amen!//