Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I noticed these two blog posts this morning and smiled to think
that these two are parenting together. 
Their three boys are lucky ducks. 

If you are a tired or droopy parent today, read these. They're beautiful!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

let's do this.

These days it's all about diving in headfirst. 

We're not just getting ready for Holy Week and Easter at Zion. We're preparing for the ZOOM House Gala on Saturday night. Last year we raised $45,000 in four hours - it's kind of a big deal. We're also getting ready to host a booth at the Lyndale Open House on Friday. Last year I talked to dozens of neighbors passionate about the community we share - it makes me proud to be part of this place.

Oh and we bought a new house! We've been looking for awhile now, but it happened suddenly. They accepted our offer 25 hours after it went on the market. A little more space and a lot more wallpaper just a few blocks from where we are now. Matt and I are excited to have a new project to share and imagine this being home for awhile. We close in four weeks.

That also means we're scrambling to get our current abode on the market. The goal is early April, so the dumpster shows up tomorrow. Let's get this party started.

I noticed that others are diving in headfirst today, too. One of our faithful Wednesday night regulars has been taking a break for a few months. She needed to reboot and pull out of most of her routine and commitments, so we stayed in touch by phone while she was away. Tonight she was back and happened to sit next to someone who has started coming faithfully since she went on sabbatical. Within a few minutes they were both teary eyed. 

I felt at home right away at Zion. 
This place has been so good to me. 
People remembered my name the second time I showed up. 
I feels good to belong.

A new friendship formed and they were both diving in - professing their place in this community and God's family. It made me glad to watch. They showed up to worship where we read from Colossians and talked about the way Christ's resurrection threads everything together - from creation to life everlasting. People shared about the things that stirred them in the text. We admitted the frazzled and tired things that get sewn into the fabric of Christ...and that remembering this helps a little bit.

We always end Recovery Worship with a hymn request and tonight it was Henry* who couldn't wait to call it. Henry has some sensory sensitivities and might be somewhere on the spectrum, but what do I know? He speaks with the official tone of a radio announcer and I love to listen to him sing. It took me awhile to find it because I believed it to be under a different title. But once it was found, I knew it would be a good choice. It's "Shall We Gather at the River", which is number 423 in your hymnal. This is the one we should sing.

And so we did. With gusto. And then, when the room cleared, it was just me and Henry. I always thought it should be called, "Shall We Gather IN the River". Everyone is going to get wet when they get baptized anyway. For convenience sake, they should just agree to all meet IN the river instead of next to it. That would save a step and they could get baptizing right away.

Yes, Henry. Let's dive in. Let's skip a step and get messy doing it. Let's gather in the river where the waters of life overwhelm and we're washed clean and things begin anew. Let's do this.

Monday, March 11, 2013

i carry you.

There are lots of ways to remember and repent during Lent. Some people give up meat or chocolate. I used to give up caffeine during Lent. Unfortunately, life without it makes me an angry shadow of myself. Since it usually played out as the opposite of a spiritual discipline, I now give up giving up caffeine for Lent.

Some use a Lenten devotional book. Others are taking one picture each day that speaks to a different Lent-y word. And more are using a list - one little thing each day - that reframes daily life in the light of God's gift.

I was still trying to decide what my Lenten discipline was going to be well into Lent. And then I realized it's Jasper. He has three favorite phrases right now and they mark up my days with pause and gratitude:

Look, Mommy!
Look at my animals! They're dancing on the table. They're making animal noises. They're being silly. Now look at them flying off the table all over the kitchen. Look at them scattered around and under the refrigerator, Mommy. Look in the oven - you can see what's cooking because the light is on! Look in the trash can at all the pretty colors. Look at what I threw in there when you weren't looking - even though I told you to look! Look at how I see the world - everything is alive. Everything has a story. I want you to see things the way I do and I want you to think they're wonderful, too!

And so I do. I look when he invites me to look.

Sit down, please.
Play Legos with me. Sing "This Little Light of Mine" and play the banjo while you cross your eyes and act silly. Get low to the ground so you can't see all the dishes in the sink or the laundry that needs folding on the bed. Sit down with me while we make things together and read books and get the giggles tickling each other. Sit down because then you might lie down - and if you lie down, you can give me a Superman ride on your feet. I am three feet tall, Mommy, and I want you to take a break from all the things up there that keep you distracted and on the move. If you come down here, I can show you the birdseed bin and you'll know that I want to fill up the feeder. Sit down so you can be with me.

And so I do. I sit down when he invites me to sit down.

I carry you. 
I say this when the sidewalk gets really icy and I need a ride. I say this when I'm tired and needy. Pick me up and take me with you wherever you go. I want to come along and I'll keep busy people-watching from your lap or coloring on the floor. I carry you, Mommy, even though you're the one carrying me. I will hold you up when you're spread thin by balancing you out and making you embrace the beautiful chaos that life brings. I will carry you by snuggling into your neck and touching your face. You will pick me up and I will say, "Oh my, Mommy!" and touch your cheek. And then I will wrap my arms around you for a hug and pat you on the back like an old pal. And it will make you laugh and squeeze me. And you will realize that you are carrying me, but I am carrying you, too.

And he does. He so he does in little, unexpected ways.

Jasper, thank you for helping me see this Lent. Thank you for inviting me to sit down. And thank you for being 25 pounds of joy to carry around. You lighten every load...except the one in your pants.

Love, Mom

Monday, March 4, 2013

you are worthy.

What a week! Many of you sent prayers for me and my congregation, and we were stronger for them. It is a good thing to be in the trenches together. Old men who called me "Meta" last week now call me "Pastor". Something has shifted since an annual review and two funerals last week. I am frightened by the great losses in our little church and how much I love these people, but I'm also glad for everything vulnerable about being with them.

I was all preached out (again) yesterday, so I did not prepare a sermon. Instead, I brought The Giving Tree and read it before the kids left for Sunday School. We believe in a God who is rooted in our lives. When we return to the place where we are known, there is always rejoicing and acceptance.

Then we heard all three Lost Parables. A coin went missing. A sheep went wandering. A son strutted off. And the congregation read the words of rejoicing aloud at the end of each story. Love-Surround-Sound. The Searcher rejoiced in the finding.

Not because the Lost one earned it or scored well on a test.
Not because the Lost one made a good case for being reclaimed.
Not because the Lost one deserved the effort more than others.

The Lost one was worth finding because The Searcher decided it was of value. And that is enough. I don't remember exactly what I said yesterday, but it probably went like this:

There are one thousand angles for preaching this text, but today I hear only rejoicing, Zion. You are worthy. You are valuable. Not because you've done something right, but because Christ has righted something. I'm reading a book about vulnerability and shame and worthiness right now, which is teaching me something very important about God's love for us.

We are not perfect. We are wired for struggle. But we are also valuable and worthy of love. That is louder and even more true than the rest of life's stuff. I know that being vulnerable and really feeling this world is dangerous and scary sometimes. We'd rather numb the pain, but humans are incapable of selectively numbing our feelings. If you numb the sorrow, you are also numbing the joy. So I invite you to feel the struggle. Experience the filth of the pig pen, but also the rich welcome and belonging we receive when the Father runs to meet us along the way. 

There are lots of voices out there. They're identifying you based on who you are and what you do and what you earn. But this morning I raise my voice above those things to tell you the truth: you are valuable and worthy of love even when you get lost - because the One who comes looking has decided that you are worth the effort. You are worth the searching. You are worth the finding. You are worth the rejoicing and celebration. 

That's all I got, but it's all truth. Amen.