The Cries of Psalm 13

The tears have been sitting there on the edge for a few days now. Today those tears finally came forth. Tears that tell me that this is not over. Tears that tell me, tell us that it’s all about grief; anticipatory grief. I’m no stranger to grief. I’ve grieved a lot these last two years, but this grief, this grief is different. It’s a grief that comes due to canceled trips, graduations, and so much more.

I’m grieving that the beginning of a new call doesn’t look the way it’s supposed to. I’m grieving my friends and how lonely it is to be in my new house, in a new community. I’m grieving that mom is in a nursing home and I can’t go visit her. I’m grieving that Holy Week and Easter will look drastically different this year. And I know that I’m not alone. All of us are grieving in our own ways.

Grief is a human response. It’s how we all respond to the death of things. Grief often paralyzes us and hits us in unexpected ways. This grief came at us full throttle. It hit us as life around us was completely halted, completely stilled. But with that forced stillness, fear and anxiety still take hold as the world around us is topsy turvy. The not knowing is hard. There are days I think I’m ok but the next day I am simply hanging on. And I’m sure you all have found yourselves there too.

Jesus himself was as much human as he was divine. Jesus himself wept. Jesus promises that he will never leave us or forsake us. Yet even with that promise, I find myself shouting out,”How long, oh Lord, will you forget me ever?” How long will this last? When will I wake up and not think about this pandemic?

It’s the cry of Psalm 13; a cry that the world is crying out In the midst of this pandemic. As a ship pulls into a harbor in NYC, as more positive cases and even deaths are reported daily, and as we settle in for another month of quarantine, that cry becomes louder and louder. A cry that will still lead us to the Last Supper, to the cross, and finally to the empty tomb.

I need to sit at the table with Jesus and have him declare “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Love this year means social distancing and staying home. It means not gathering as a community around the table.

I need to stand at the foot of the cross and sing, “Where you there when they crucified my Lord? Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” During this uncertain time, there are days the news is too much, too heavy. So much so that if I keep watching, my anxiety will continue to climb and I might tremble in fear.

But most of all, I need to come to the empty tomb and find it empty. I need to be reminded again and again and again that death has been defeated. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).” I need to be reminded that our God is all powerful and will always be triumphant over the cross and the grave.

I may wake tomorrow and the tears may find themselves sitting on the edge again. Or I may wake to a new renewed hope. Whatever the day brings, I know that God’s grace is enough. God loved us so much God sent Gods one and only Son into the world for each and everyone of us.

And tonight, that love, the resurrection promise is enough!

Adjust

I hope you all are doing well and are social/physically distancing yourselves. I’m so thankful for technology and you all during these days. The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “adjust.”

Life and work have been all about adjusting in these days. Learning how to record a worship video to post on our FB page. Reaching out and making sure everyone is ok. My days are filled with less travel to our serve churches but rather is now phone calls, emails, FB live and so much more.

Yet I’ve come to realize I’m pretty good at adjusting. I love being creative and coming up with new ideas. I’ve been reading books to my friends kids online. I’m doing a nightly prayer live also on Facebook. It’s a little crazy in these days. But I pray that I am being Gods hands and feet sharing the Gospel in these days.

I’m praying we come out of this sooner rather than later. But we must do what is best for the collective whole. I look forward to the day all I’m adjusting is my radio dial and not adjusting because life is uncertain.

For Such A Time as This

Several years ago, I found myself stumbling across the Slate Project in Baltimore. I was so excited and intrigued by the ministry I saw unfolding there. And then I found #SlateSpeak; a progressive online conversation on Twitter. It was one of the coolest, most interactive things I’ve ever participated in. Now I can’t miss a Thursday night if I can help it.

Over time, new hashtags have been created by the Slate Project; #slatereads and #slateprays. More and more of us are joining in online. We’ve created a deeply grounded community where everyone is welcome. These people mean the world to me. I can’t wait until we meet in real life. But for now, it is this community virtually that continually blesses me.

As a blogger and social media fan, I’ve learned so much from the Slate Projects founders Jason C and Jen D. I’m continually learning from them. Because of them and others, I’m not afraid to try something new and if I fail, I fail.

And here I am, in the midst of a new call and now a pandemic. To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement. But then I’m reminded of how I’ve been made for such a time as this. I’m live streaming prayer on my personal page. I’m jumping right in and leading virtual worship on my new parishes Facebook page. They are a seven point parish and don’t have much of a history of using media, etc.

I can’t help but think that a God has been preparing us all for this time. We have the gifts and tools to worship and remind people that the church is more than a building. It is the people.

My community is a smorgasbord of blogging friends, seminary classmates and friends, former parishioners, ministry colleagues, professors, friends that are more like family and many many more. As I see each one trying new things, streaming live worships, I feel like I’m in their sanctuaries, sitting around their kitchen tables and so much more. It gives me an overwhelming peace.

Friends, this is not the time we want but it’s what we are called to. A year from now, I pray we look back and say, “Wow…we did that. We made it through that.” The truth is God is with us. Turn to him and ask him to calm your anxious fearful hearts. Turn to the truth…trusted sources but most of all the truth of God.

For such a time as this……

Trusting Joy Will Come Again

I’m sitting with a cup of tea from my favorite store in Chelsea Market in NYC in my hand. It’s in one of my favorite mugs with one of my favorite verses from Psalm 30:5 written on it. “Weeping comes for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I need that reminder right now,

I just finished doing my nightly Facebook prayer live. It is such a gift to gather. As each name popped onto my screen, I found such joy in knowing we weren’t together physically but virtually. Each person connected through time and space; a weaving together of community.

It is a weird time to be a leader in the church. It is an even stranger time to be starting a new call. Yet I care so deeply for my flock already. I want to keep everyone safe.

These virtual gatherings are such a gift. A time of knowing that we are not alone. A time of caring for one another. A time of gathering over virtual coffee.

It gives me peace in the midst of this scary and uncertain time. I’m not sure how long this night will last. But I do know that joy, joy will indeed come again. I’m clinging to that promise tonight!

The Liar Named Fear

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “less.”

More love, less hate

More peace, less war

More hope, less fear

More kindness and compassion, less hate

There is so much evil in our world. Yet God shows us to show kindness, compassion, and love. The world needs to be founded in God’s goodness and grace and not in hate. Too often we let fear take over. But in the words of a well loved Christian song, fear is a liar. God is in control in the midst of uncertainty and fear.

365 times we hear the words “Do not be afraid.” I don’t think that’s a coincidence at all. God is with us.

The Table of Grace

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “table.”

Bread and wine

Broken and Poured

At the table of grace

Jesus himself

Life given and shed

Father, forgive them

For they know not

What they are doing.

At the table of grace

Forgiveness offered and given

Love embodied for us all.

At the table

The communion of saints

Now and then

Saints gathered in every time and place

A reminder that God welcomes all

Welcomes all to the table of grace.

It is here

At the table of grace

That I, that we come

Knowing the body and blood

The bread and wine

Are given to us all.

The body of Christ

Given for you

The blood of Christ shed for you!

Jeopardy and Taking Risks

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “risk.” 

I’ve always loved watching a Jeopardy. It’s one of those game shows that makes me feel smart when I know the answers. I’m way better at some categories than others. Recently I downloaded the Jeopardy app onto my phone. I do ok. I love the religious categories because I seem to do pretty great at them.

When it gets down to final Jeopardy, it’s always a decision to decide how much money to risk. Do I know the category or not? Will I gain money or lose it? It reminds me of the risks we take in life.

What dreams are we willing to try? To take a risk for? My friend K recently interviewed for a job and she got it! She is now moving from North Dakota to Iowa. I’m so excited for this new adventure for her. I also am hopeful a new adventure is on the horizon for Luna, Nevy and I.

I also am taking a risk reaching out to publishers about my children’s book on mental illness. It is so much needed in our world.

Mickey, Minnie and My First Bike

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “experience.” 

Life is made up of experiences, isn’t it? Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Learning to drive, ride a bike, talk, college, first job, losing a job, etc.

A few years ago, I found myself in Anaheim California for one of my favorite continuing education events: the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza or as it is affectionately called the “E!” It often occurs over Super Bowl weekend which it was that year.

Instead of watching the game, my friends and I headed to Disneyland which was only a few miles from our hotel. It was my first Disney experience ever. I was like a kid in a candy store. We watched the parades. My favorite was the Paint the Night parade. We rode on many rides. My friends took me on the Its a Small World ride. I can still hear the music playing in my ears. I got my first timers pin. We looked through many tourist shops. I bought a Mickey tshirt. We laughed and laughed and laughed. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

I also remember the first time I rode my first bike. I didn’t even have training wheels. My friends put me on the bike and pushed me. I fell a few times but got right back up. By the end of the day, I was riding my bike alone…never needing training wheels. Another neat experience.

What is a fun experience you remember?

Penning Words

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “talent.” 

“Mom, Are you ok?”

You’ve been in bed all day.

Is there anything I can do?

Mom, are you sad?

Are you mad?

Or are you glad?

I want you back

The mom who would play with me

Read to me

Laugh with me

Instead of just lay in bed.

Can a doctor heal you?

Give you medicine to make you feel

So much better.

Some call you crazy

Others call you lazy

But you are neither

You are a beloved child of God!

I love to write. I would call it a talent. My new goal is to write a children’s book about mental illness. This is a very first draft. What do you think? What’s missing?


Accompaniment

Accompaniment=”an instrumental or vocal part designed to support or complement a melody; an addition (such as an ornament) intended to give completeness or symmetry to something.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

In music, it is the accompaniment that brings life to the piece as the melody comes to life. Accompaniment is also what makes something whole. Accompaniment is not to be alone but rather walk alongside.

Since October, I’ve been patiently waiting for God to show me what’s next. Despite interviewing several places, God hasn’t led me to that right place yet. Because of this reason, I almost didn’t attend the ELCA Children, Youth and Family Network Extravaganza or as it is affectionately called the “E.” Yet I went because I knew it is where I needed to be.

The Extravaganza is such a gift. I sat and chatted with so many colleagues and friends and processed through the last several months. My friend Laurie made me this magnificent gift. I left feeling so at peace.

But it’s not just the Extravaganza, but the network too. The Network allows each of us to walk alongside and accompany one another through life’s joys and sorrows. Since October, I’ve gotten emails, phone calls, texts and so much more reminding me that I am not on this journey alone,

I have sat with colleagues as we said goodbye to our friend at his funeral. Our lives connected through the Network. I have grieved alongside other colleagues as they have said goodbye to their children way too early. I have celebrated with others too. The Network weaves together this beautiful tapestry that connects us through time and space.

The Network is being church together. It is a place where we are reminded that we are never alone. The Network and the E have been a gift to me in more ways than I can count or even imagine. Thank You dear people for accompanying me on this never ending, uncertain journey of where God maybe calling me next. I know I am not alone but am being accompanied through prayer, laughter, tears and the Network! And that’s enough…..more than enough!