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Archive for April, 2005

ROAD TRIP!!

ROAD TRIP tomorrow!!!  Whoo-hoo.  Cari and I head out early in the morning for our road trip to Minnesota. Ok – it’s a working road trip but nevertheless, we are going to have a grand time getting out of town and hitting the open highway. I’m really pumped.  We have good company, good music, good snacks and a very flexible schedule.  Plus Cari has made some fun plans for Thursday night up in Minneapolis.  I’m sure I’ll post some road trip photos when I return this weekend so you can share in our adventures.  I’m expecting many, many unexpected blessings! 🙂

Today was LONG – an all day planning retreat with the pastoral team.  The last three days have been so crazy with constant appointments, projects and assignments as I prepare to be away from work for over a week. (i am on vacation next week.)  I haven’t made the time to cherish my unexpected blessings much.  Sunday was definitely a wonderful blessing through Youth Sunday!  I love my youth and they did an amazing job leading us to the feet of God.  Monday I was blessed very unexpectedly as plans for the Minnesota mission experience fell into place with nothing but the grace of God to explain it.  Tonight I was blessed by my youth here for c-groups.  BOB just cracks me up.  Okay this will sound a little irresponsible but Bob was setting his clothes on fire.  You had to be there cause it honestly was stinkin’ hilarious.  Until one point when the flames kept on going up his sleeve.  Then I had an excuse to beat the tar out of him as I put the flames out.  Too funny (no youth were hurt in the making of this moment).  Bobadinski is a spaz just like me and we have the best pointless conversations. 

I haven’t had much time to be quiet within for a few days so I am very much missing that time of connecting with myself. I feel a little disoriented and chaotic without my time to process life, events, feelings, revelations, etc.  I very much need that in order to really know how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking.  I think I’ll have some time to do that as Cari and I journey the next few days. I will definitely make time for that next week.

Thanks for prayers for my dad.  He has bronchitis but they gave him some great drugs and he is on the slow mend. 

Have a great week and I’ll be back to blogging this weekend!

Peace – Melissa

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Solidarity

Don’t have time to write much tonight but found this quote that I find incredibly rich and challenging.  Wanted to share it with everyone.

Mostly we think of people with great authority as higher up, far away, hard to reach. But spiritual authority comes from compassion and emerges from deep inner solidarity with those who are "subject" to authority. The one who is fully like us, who deeply understands our joys and pains or hopes and desires, and who is willing and able to walk with us, that is the one to whom we gladly give authority and whose "subjects" we are willing to be.

It is the compassionate authority that empowers, encourages, calls forth hidden gifts, and enables great things to happen. True spiritual authorities are located in the point of an upside-down triangle, supporting and holding into the light everyone they offer their leadership to.

Henri Nouwen

Peace – Melissa

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Who am I?

Catch up time:  This week has been incredibly busy – all day and every evening so I haven’t had time to post regularly.  However, I have been experiencing many blessings the last few days that I must share.

Thursday: Spent time with family and especially my dad for the first time since he returned from Europe.  So great to have him home.  Continue to pray for his health as he is still sick.

Friday: CBF-MO General Assembly began and we are the host church this year so it was a crazy weekend. Attended a morning conference here at the church on the practice of Sabbath.  Dr. Mike Graves from Central Seminary was the leader and his thoughts and teachings about the commandment for sabbath in our lives was very rich for me.  Spent the afternoon actually practicing sabbath with a friend and it was exactly what was needed.  We "ceased" for a few hours.  It would be an understatement to say I was quite moved by the experience and believe sabbath should become a regular part of my week.

Saturday: At the church for morning conferences and worship.  Worship was amazing – a true worship time for me.  Let me share two things with you from it.  The first is a poem by Brian Wren that moved me deeply:

A child, a woman and a man are people dear and close to me –
A name, a smile, a voice I know,
A hand I touch, a face I see;
And more than I can see or know
I know that Jesus knows and loves
That very woman, child and man.

Then love us, Jesus, as you can,
Until we see, confess, condemn,
More than the evil others do,
The evils we might do to them.

Come, humanize our speech and thought
Till we are looking through your eyes
At every woman, child and man.

We had a time of silent meditation over this piece and I was so struck by this – especially the center part of recognizing and confessing our own evils that we do to others.

Then, later in the service, our pastor, Dr. Sager, delivered an amazing message on "Blessed are the Balanced" based on the Luke 10:38-42 passage about Mary and Martha.  Adding it to the sabbath mix from Friday brought continue healing and rest to my spirit.  We entered into a time of communion by intinction and I was so moved during this time.  I wept with overwhelming gratitude for the way the Lord has cared for me recently and for how God has freed me from some self-imposed bondage.  Read the words of the song, Who am I, by Casting Crowns that was sung during the communion and which left me speechless and broken before God:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth, would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star, would choose to light the way for my every wand’ring heart?
Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.
I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind.
Still You hear me when I’m calling.
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling.
And You’ve told me who I am: I am yours.
Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love, and watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea, would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me?
Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.

That song breaks me every time I hear it.  This song could come straight from my heart it is so true to how I feel.  I just can’t believe God loves me, that He cares for me . . . but God does. I’m so broken that God sees my sin and still loves me. I’m so grateful that God calms the storm within me.  I’m so overwhelmed that God hears me when I call and God catches me when I fall and He still calls me His.  Thank you, thank you, thank you a thousand times over.

Peace – Melissa

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Poopoopreen

I love my middle school youth.  They crack me up when I least expect it.  I love their humor and their craziness and their rare take on things.  Tonight we were talking about James 4:11-12 where it says that when we bad-mouth friends it is like writing graffiti all over the word of God.  So, they decided that since graffitti can sometimes look pretty it needed to be an ugly color so that we wouldn’t forget that it was bad.  So, Blake, one of my eight-grade guys, came up with the color "Poopoopreen".  This color is a combination of puke green and poo brown.  🙂  How can you not love that creative realization?

Things are mad crazy right now with many big things looming on the horizon and fewer days to get ready for them.  I’m out for almost two weeks beginning next week and I’m realizing how much I have to do before I can leave town.  What was I thinking taking some vacation time in May?   . . . I know …. I was thinking take it now or never!  Never a slow period or down-time it seems but I like it that way for the most part.  I would be incessantly bored otherwise and would most likely get into trouble.

My dad is safely home which I am very grateful for.  He is sick and needs prayers for healing but he is at least here where mom and I can dote on and mother-hen him.

I came across this passage in The Message today that just really spoke to my heart and captures my passion about the importance and blessedness of community and how we should go about living in community. 

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.  It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.  You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.   James 3:17-18

A great challenge to me especially in the first part to live a holy life and to get along with others by being gentle, reasonable, merciful, a blessing to others and consistent.  I try to live this way and to treat others with dignity and honor but I worry sometimes that I miss what true dignity and honor mean to others.  The idea that sometimes you think you are treating a person with respect and dignity but it actually is pity or misunderstanding or something like that.  Or that sometimes in an attempt to create community with someone where they are respected you lose yourself or your own opinions because you choose to or because you know they have run into so many bad stereotypes that you don’t want to be associated with it.   I’m still learning how to love and be present with people and I’m sure will never stop learning in this regards.

I’m also learning how to balance myself and keep myself grounded when new passions enter my life.  I have this tendency to be really excited and fully jump into new things of interest in my life and to drop other things.  I can get consumed by new things pretty easily and lose myself in the process.  So, I’m needing some time to just center myself and refocus so I don’t spin out of control. 

Okay, enough deep mental stuff for one night. 

Peace – Melissa

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Today was a little out of the norm but I like it that way.  Went to Columbia all afternoon to judge an FBLA public speaking event.  About 8 high school students gave 4 minute speeches on a business/FBLA related issue.  Pretty interesting and I enjoyed being an all-important judge.  I thought about coming early, wearing my judge-badge and seeing how much special treatment I could milk out of the deal.   I got convicted just about the time some poor high school boy was getting ready to be my "purse-carrier boy" and decided that abuse of power is not a good thing and can quickly go to your head.

Tonight was the first mowing of the spring season.  I broke a champagne bottle over the mower and set to work.  I love a freshly mowed yard.  Makes me feel like a domestic goddess.  Wait . . . I AM a domestic goddess.   Then I went to play racquetball with Steve for awhile.  I got my butt kicked – that’s right, Steve.  I have homework tonight because Steve SCHOOLED me big time.  Get the plates because I just got served!!!  BTW – the goggles give you a funky face tattoo.  Nice …

Drum-roll:  The all-important-ever-amazing unexpected blessings . . . (in no particular order)  the sound of the racquetball whizzing by your head (makes a very distinct and exhilirating sound that is heightened by the intensity of narrowly escaping death); an a-ha moment about some personal stuff that came during the middle of the premarital session I was conducting today.  A blessing because of the clarity and peace that came with the awareness more than anything; and finding out that Kailey is comin’ to town this weekend! yee-haw

Right now as I type this my dad is flying over the Atlantic Ocean on his way back from Eastern Europe.  He’ll be home Tuesday night which is very good because I miss him and need to give him a major hug.  I think I also need to prepare my nephew, Blake, because Dad is never go to let him go on Wednesday.

And this last parting word from Paul that comes from Acts 23:5 in the Message paraphrase.  First let me set the stage: Paul is before the high priests during a meeting called by the Roman captain.  At one point, Paul says to the Chief Priest that he is a fake and that God will slap him down for being a hypocrite.  In v. 4, they responded how dare Paul talk to the chief priest this way.  So Paul responds this way (v. 5) Paul acted surprised.  "How was I to know he was Chief Priest?  He doesn’t act like a Chief Priest.  You’re right, the Scripture does say, ‘Don’t speak abusively to a ruler of the people.’ Sorry."   Sometimes, Paul just cracks me up.  Other times, he ticks me off.  But tonight, I just had to say in the words of Ben Phelps,  "Good one, Paul, good one."

Peace – Melissa

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Swinging Weekend

I know I’ve mentioned it before but it case you have forgotten or in case I didn’t make myself clear the first several times – I positively, without-a-doubt LOVE spring!!!  This weekend was absolute gorgeous and could not have been any better weather wise if I had ordered it myself.  THANK YOU, CREATOR, for spring – in every form and fashion, in every shape and season, in the physical and the spiritual. 

So we went barn-swinging on Saturday and it was awesome.  I love my youth.  They are so fun to hang out with and they were awesome all day on Saturday.  I’m so proud to take you anywhere because you always make the most of the excursion and you do it with a positive and fun-loving attitude.  My Saturday was chalk-full of blessings from simply being with you all and seeing you have such a great time.  I wasn’t feeling too perky but I had a wonderful day regardless.  I was so thrilled that Kailey, Olivia and Amberlee joined us!  These girls are the coolest.  Thank, Kailey, for the surprise card and gift!  You are too awesome and such a great friend to me.  I am stoked about hitting Maurices!  Choices, choices, choices….

Unexpected blessings this weekend: Kailey pouring out the love on a college budget! Hope you have enough Ramon Noodles for the rest of the semester, sister; Brooke Anthony throwing parking lot scum water in my face. The blessing here is not the fact that I tasted grit in my mouth (nasty) but that Brooke called my bluff.  You rock, Brooke.  I didn’t think you had it in you.  I’m proud . . . oh, so proud.; unashamedly  needing and receiving care and a safe haven in a friend where I could just "be" for a few moments.; Meeting a much-loved younger brother.; A quiet Sunday evening at home to get my laundry done and my house in order. 

In my Acts reading today, I was drawn to Acts 20:32 – Now I’m (Paul) turning you (Ephesian Christians) over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what he wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends. This is a great verse promise for me – that God will make me into what God wants me to be and that God will be actively involved in the my holy relationships and communities – involved in providing for our needs according to God’s vision as God makes us individually and corporately into what the Creator wants us to be.  It reminds me of something I read the other day about how we often function as "functional atheists".  Here’s the quote from Rachelle’s blog:

Pastors and church planters, more than anybody, tend towards atheism. And by atheism I mean this, “nothing good is going to happen today unless I make it happen.” It’s not an ideological atheism. It’s a sort of functional atheism. And I know this from personal experience. But Matthew 17(?) says that we wake up every morning and step into something that’s already going on that’s already been put into motion. So what are we really trying to do anyway?

What we should be trying to do is to create environments of grace for ourselves and for others. (Again, Matthew….”unforced rhythms of grace”…”I won’t put anything heavy or burdensome on you.”) As a leader you are not actually a victim of the corporation. You are a co-creator of it. What kind of organism do you want to create? You set the ethos. Will it be an ethos of grace? Will you recognize that it’s not up to you to make sure that something good will happen today? It’s up to you to live into the already-reality of what God is already doing.!!!!

The unexpected blessings project was to help in this manner but I think I’m just skimming the surface. I’m going to work this week to see past the surface and to really allow God to give me new eyes to see the already-reality of what God is already doing and embrace it fully.  Sounds deliciously liberating . . .

Ok, the final dryer buzzer just went off and Monday morning is a few hours away.  Here’s my sincere wish that each of you find yourself in unabashed amazement this week at the grace and freedom Christ lavishes on you if you are willing to receive it. And for the love of all that is good and holy, you’d better be posting some comments.  Even if they are totally random and relate in NO WAY to what I write, leave a blasted comment.

Peace with a cherry on top – Melissa (a.k.a Mel)

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Being Honest

Is it more challenging to be honest with other people or to be honest with yourself?   To be honest with other people about difficult things is challenging but there is a degree of understanding that it is best and the responsible relational rule to follow.  So many of us have seen the effects of dishonesty in relationships and with those images burned into our minds, we are careful to not either repeat it if the images are personally ours or to create such images if we have none from personal experience.

But to be truly honest with yourself is very difficult.  In many ways, there is no accountability to anyone in this matter.  You simply have to make the difficult and very conscious choice to be honest with yourself about your thoughts, your feelings, your tendencies, your weaknesses, your justifications, etc.  Occassionally someone knows you well enough that they are able to call you on it but there are areas that are not known to anyone but yourself. At that point, when you are faced with a reality or awareness that you may be deceiving yourself but to accept it and be honest may lead to an outcome that you don’t hope for . . . well, what do you do?  And beyond that, when you get to this point and you realize and accept the fact that you have been deceiving yourself, whether intentionally or not, how do you know that your aren’t deceiving yourself in other areas and just haven’t realized it yet?  And on a further level, what happens when you realize the personal deception after someone else has associated themselves with the deceived you? That’s a difficult and disillusioned journey to make and to bring someone through.

Just some thoughts I’ve had lately. 

Now to unexpected blessings of the day: picnic lunch with a friend on a GORGEOUS Friday; a former youth stopping by and sharing with me updates on life and her call to ministry; a phone call from a neighbor.

Tomorrow is barn-swinging day!  YEE-HAW!  I’m taking a busload of youth to Ozark, MO, for an afternoon of fun and swinging.  I love this trip and am so looking forward to hanging out with all my awesome youth.  You make my life grand and rich and blessed.  I love you all more than I could ever convey in words.

Later gators and PEACE –  Melissa

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