Who is your Influence?

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “influence.” We would love to have you join us.

There is so much in our world that can influence us….music, art, tv! It seems a lot of those things can have a negative impact on today’s youth. Where do they learn about things they shouldn’t or use words that they shouldn’t either? W

Working at a church I want to have a positive influence on our youth. I want them to know it’s ok to unplug. I want them to know they can talk to me. I want them to know that they should treat each other with respect. Most of all, I want them to know they are a beloved child of God.

God is the one who cares deeply for all the world. God influences us all with God’s power. God loved us so much that God sent God’s one and only son into the world for all of us. God, and only God, had the power to overcome death. God and Jesus are who I want the youth I care about to turn too. I want them to be influenced by God’s love and to share that love even with those who are different than them. Who

Grief and Joy

“Grief and joy work together to lead us to our one and only hope throughout every page of our story.” This quote and post from InCourage have been sitting with me for the last few days. The author’s words have been such a gift to me as I head into 2019 focusing on my one word of heal. (You can read that post here: https://www.incourage.me/2019/01/finding-hope-in-all-the-pages-of-our-stories.html)

Joy comes in the midst of grief! Joy finds a way to the surface. One of my favorite Scripture verses is from Psalm 30:5. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” The nights may seem to be long but joy always comes with the morning.

In the midst of this past year, I have realized how important that joy is. How important it is to spend time with those we love. How important it is to do the things that bring us joy and love. It is not lost on me how much my sweet kitty Luna needed to be rescued but in a lot of ways has rescued me too. I am so glad that we found each other. The silly things she does like hiding in a drawer, or jumping up behind the sink or chasing a toy bring a smile to my face.

As we grieve, it is hard to find joy. It is hard to uncover those memories that make us laugh or smile because it is so painful to recall them. Yet when we finally uncover them, we realize the gift there is in remembering together; the gift there is in celebrating the beautiful memories that have been shared together.

Recently I was reading Bob Goff’s latest book Everybody, Always when I came across this quote: “God has surrounded me with countless people, just like He has you. Plenty of those people are trustworthy lights who point me to Jesus through our relationships. Find those people in your life and lean on them a little. Be more vulnerable and transparent than you think you have the wheels for. Do it anyway. Sometimes when we ask God for an answer, He sends us a friend. Figure out who He’s already sent to you.”

The truth is that in the midst of grief, these lights seem to find a way to shine brighter than every before. I think of my friend who bought me coffee on my way home after Grandpa’s death or the many friends who expressed their condolences. And I believe it is because of these dear souls; our friends that we are able to be healed; not completely. Because grief will always be there. Grief will always find a way to the surface. Yet joy and grief can and do work together to remind us that we will never be left or forsaken.

You, my friends, have been that light for me. You have reminded me again and again that I am not alone. You continually shine God’s love in the midst of a broken world. And I am so incredibly thankful for all of you. Together, we can be healed when we live our lives as wounded healers who are called to hold each other in all of life’s joys and sorrows. Thanks be to God!

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.

Better

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “better.” We would love to have you join us.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere”  This song has been playing in my head since I heard the word prompt for this week. It’s an older song but I’ve always enjoyed it.

It is no surprise to anyone that 2018 was heavy and hard for me. So many losses. Yet I find hope in knowing that my friends and family who were lost this year are in heaven. My prayer is that 2019 will be filled with more joy and laughter than loss and grief….that it will be a better year.

Yet even in the midst of a heavy and hard year, I’m so thankful for people and things that made it somewhat better. My kitty Luna makes me smile and laugh. I’ve never seen a cat that loves water as much as she does. I’m thankful for friends who know when you need a pick me up. Books, tea and blankets make life better too.

My word this year is heal. I want to come out of this year more whole than what I came into it. Grief won’t ever disappear but it will change over time. It’ll in some ways get better.

The Wounded Healer

I have always been a huge fan of Henri Nouwen. His books always seem to speak to me at the right time and place. Recently, I came across his book “Wounded Healer” and it seems so incredibly appropriate for my one word “heal”.

Nouwen writes, “Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”

“Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.”

When 2018 began, I had no idea how heavy and hard it would be. Then in March, my friend Ben died. Shortly after that, a beloved seminary professor Ralph Quere. Then Ben’s brother Aaron followed by my friend and youth ministry colleague Rachel. Not long after Rachel, it was my friend Paul’s wife Stephanie and then our beloved family friend Jim. Then in December, my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. It seemed I would just catch my breath and then news of another death would come my way. In my 40 years of life, I never expected 2018 to be filled with so much loss and grief; too many deaths way too unexpectedly.

Recently a friend asked me, “Are you becoming a grief expert?” I sat back reflecting on her words. I don’t want to be a grief expert, but the more I think about I think I might be. I have learned so much about loss and grief in my 40 years of life. I have learned what loss and grief look like after an unexpected job loss or a death. In all actuality, grief is the changing of a relationship. It is a hymn, a broken pair of sunglasses, an unopened Christmas card and so much more. In addition, I have experienced grief through living as the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.

According to Wikipedia, the theology of the cross is a term coined by theologian Martin Luther to refer to theology that posits the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. In other word, only God has the power to save Christ from the depths of the grave. Only God has the power to overcome death and the grave. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).”

My hope is to come out of 2019 much more whole than what I went into this year. The reality is that I am a wounded healer who can be a shoulder to cry on, who can stand with others in their own grief and so much more. In the words of Henri Nouwen, my own losses and grief have made me a wounded healer called to share God’s love with the world.

As a wounded healer, I am seeing myself and the world with a new set of lens.

“I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it to get to the other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself–an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self.” (Gwen Flowers)

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup and Mary and Tell His Story!

Sunday Blessings 236-239

(1) A great Sunday School program!

(2) 90 plus Gingerbread Houses decorated and taken home! 🙂

(3) Fun Christmas surprises. Thanks everyone for the awesome gifts!

(4) Enjoying and cooking in my new kitchen!

(5) Confirmation fun with Christmas trivia with AA and NL.

(6) Getting home safely to Ashley!

(7) BA gifting me with coffee and a coffee gift card for the return home!

(8) Nice weather for Grandpa’s funeral. (Christmas week, it was hard to find blessings in the midst of grief but I did find some!)

(9) Staying at Aunt P and Uncle T’s house!

(10) Lots of compliments on my eulogy for Grandpa. One of the hardest things I have ever done.

(11) Youth Workers Christmas gathering at CT’s house!

(12) A fun new Nativity mug

(13) Hugs from LT

(14) Family traveling to Ashley for the funeral.

(15) KUCHEN!!!

(16) Dad sending a Christmas tin of popcorn home with me.

(17) Snuggles from Luna because she missed me!

(18) KD and RD taking care of Luna while I was gone.

(19) My Slate Speak and Five Minute Friday peeps!

(20) Hanging with KD, DD and RD and friends. Supper at OG and lots of other fun!

(21) A prayer shawl from our churchs prayer shawl ministry.

(22) Ribs from DB

(23) Coffee with KG

(24) Sweet notes from parishioners

(25) Great book study and conversation at JC’s house

(26) Talking to Grandma on the phone

(27) Discern by Doing Group

(28) Sweet parishioners who gifted me a ticket to a local hospice event

(29) Golden Globe Awards

(30) Awesome winter weather..In the 40s