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Archive for September, 2006

Goal 42

I did it. 

Yesterday, I submitted an article to Relevant Magazine Online for possible publication on their website.  It is just under 1,000 words.  I do not receive payment for it.  It will not be in print.  But I submitted it as my first step towards accomplishing one of my goals.  The goal to be a published writer.

One of my goals of the vacation was to fine tune some thoughts and submit it. I enjoy the articles of Relevant so began there.

I haven’t heard anything yet nor did I expect to a day after submitting.  It may very well not be published. But that doesn’t matter right now. 

Today I am enjoying the sweet satisfaction of taking a step forward. One step forward is still new territory so in that I revel. And as my friend, RevAbi purports, I am living, not merely hanging in there.

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Vacation

Right now I’m sitting in a corner of Paneras in little ol’ Branson, Missouri.  I’ve downed my first class of Diet Pepsi (sorry – I’m not cool enough to drink coffee of any variety or taste) and a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon roll that was hmm-hmm-good.

I’m on vacation.  I love vacation.  Every year my parents give me some days away by myself at a resort in the Branson area.  Two things to know: 1) I love time away by myself.  It doesn’t drive me crazy.  It actually makes me very happy.  It is 2:47 pm and I have not said anything out loud except "I’d like a cinnamon roll and a diet Pepsi." and "Of course, they cancel each other.".  That’s it.  2) The Branson of great fame and fortune is not my idea of a vacation.  Branson is a haven for a senior adult population that spends loads of money on entertainment shows like Dixie Stampede and Darrin Romeo and shops, shops, shops.  I don’t enjoy entertainment shows and I’m not fond of shopping, shopping, shopping.  Maybe one shopping, but not three.  I have no problem with being the youngest person in the close proximity.  It is comforting and fund.  I feel a little like Cameron Diaz in the movie In Her Shoes.  Except for the fact that I don’t look like her, dress like her or sleep around like her. Otherwise, we are totally twins.

Yesterday I did the following:

  • I read a book.  Start to finish.  One day.  I love that. 
  • I excercised.  They have a nice gym here at the resort and after I got up around 10:30 am I went to exercise.  🙂   Yes, 10:30.
  • I sat by the pool and read the afternoon away. 
  • I got a sunburn.  Yes – a sunburn.  Hallelujah.  I will not let summer die.
  • I went to dinner with my good friend, Kailey Leesman who lives about 30 minutes away.  We had a nice walk in the evening air, a great dinner and an even better dessert at Cold Stone Creamery.  Hello, perfection.

Today, I slept in again.  I exercised again.  I read by the pool.  And now I’m here trying to do some writing on this final last day at the resort.  I leave in the morning to return home and although I’ve contemplated many ways I could extend the vacation or permanently be on vacation, I’m accepting the fact that tomorrow I will have to leave.

It has been good.  Vacation is fabulous.  My parents are saints for giving me this fabulous gift each year. 

Now, time to empty my bladder, refill my soda and get back to my writing.

Blessings –
Melissa

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Okay

Tonight I had a date with the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I’ve had a desire to see this movie since the reviews came out on it but I’m shy and slow in making the first move.  So, its taken me a good two years but tonight was our night.  It was an amazing date.  One of those where you wish the night would never end.  You just get caught up in the excitement and wonder of it all, not the least bit disappointed in the anticipation that has built in these days and months leading up to this evening.

Okay, if it is not clear by now that I am in serious need of a real date with a real, live person then just pretend I didn’t confess the dating drought and lets go on.

Eternal was a tremendous movie with such depth and poetry.  I always marvel at the minds that can capture and pen such amazing insights yet with the allure of such subtleness that you honestly think you are the only one who caught it.

Relationships are tough.  They are work.  I think that is what scares me the most about commitment.  The work.  The truth that I can’t just ignore or avoid things when it is convenient for me.  The scary realization that you are in this together.  I know that this is comforting to many people.  I know this simply because they say it is and because so many people go for it.  I don’t know it from personal experience.  I hear "in this together" and I hear prison doors slamming shut and Percy Wetmore yelling in the background "Dead Man Walking".  My worst nightmares have involved marriage ceremonies where the count-down is on, I’m in white and dead-sure I’m about to make a big mistake.  A mistake bigger than the pepto-bismal bridesmaid dress with more ruffles than a Lays warehouse.

I’m scared of the work. The compromise. The surrender. The selflessness.

"in this together" means "the good, the bad, the ugly in this together".

Can I handle that? 

Can I handle someone knowing with pain-staking accuracy my bad and my ugly?

In the movie, there is this very brief but significant dialogue:

Joel: I don’t see anything I don’t like about you.
Clementine: But you will! But you will, and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped, because that’s what happens with me.
Joel: Okay.

Okay. 

God:  I don’t see anything I don’t like about you.
Melissa:  But you will!  But you will, and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped, because that’s what happens with me.
God:  Okay.

A four-letter word with such incredible grace and freedom.

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Friday Five: Boo Boo Alert

Here’s the Friday Five from the RevGals.  Play along!  Leave me a comment with your answers.

1) Are you a baby about small injuries?Nope! I’ve had several over the years.  As a tomboy growing up, scars, bruises and wounds were symbols of prestige and honor.  The more, the better.

2) What’s the silliest way you have ever hurt yourself?
Hand_2Does fracturing my thumb while starting a lawn mower count?  Mowing is dangerous. For my own safety, I try to avoid it.  Or perhaps it was the time a horse bit me on the knee.  That wasn’t fun either.  Accordingly, I don’t have much use for horses.  Okay, I forgot about the time I jumped off the top of the playground tower in 4th grade on a dare to be the first girl to accomplish such a feat.  As I cleared the top chain, my foot caught it and I tumbled to the gravel base 12 feet below.  Knocked the wind out of me, gave myself gravel marks in my back for a few days but more importantly, earned the respect of my classmates for having some guts.  (not stupidity, guts).

3) Who took care of your boo-boos when you were a child?My parents.  I don’t actually remember. By the time I was four, they probably had given me a personal first aid kit for Christmas and said "Knock yourself out, kid."

4) Are you a good nurse when others have boo-boos?
Pretty good.  There are lots of occasions for nursing as a youth minister.
I just pass on the wisdom of my parents and tell them "Knock yourself out, kid."

5) What’s the worst accidental injury you’ve suffered? Did it require a trip to the Emergency Room? Believe it or not, the mowing accident was the only one that landed me at the ER. 

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A Glutton is . . .

"A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition."
                                       – Frederick Buechner

Damn it, Buechner.  Take all the joy out of my chocolate binges. Geez . . . as if I didn’t feel bad enough when I grabbed the Chunky Monkey from the freezer before I read your comment.

Don’t you hate it when people hit you right between the eyes with a two-by-four? 

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Happy Birthday

I turned 33 today.  Seems like only yesterday I was 32.  Wait . . . .

Its been a good day. As you become more gifted chronologically, you tend to just be thankful that at least you are gifted at something.

Honestly, I’ve always been one to say it gets better as I go.  No regrets.  No wishing I could return to a younger age.  There are some things I’d rather not repeat and some lessons I’d rather not relearn.  More than that, there are some awesome memories I wouldn’t dare risk losing.  I prefer to think about the possibilities of today and tomorrows.

To the many well-wishes who sent me cards and emails, to those who picked up the phone and to the many who left comments on "my space" and on "my wall", thank you.  I felt loved and special today.

Now, on to tomorrow.

Melissa

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Hanging Out with Will

The past two days I’ve been hanging out with William Willimon.  Okay -there were about 70 other folks as well but it seemed very personal.  I attended a Minister’s Retreat sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri which I am proud to connect myself wth.  The guest presentor this year was William Willimon, the Bishop of The United Methodist Church, leading the 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama.  For 20 years, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University.  He is also the author of several books.

Willimon was an outstanding and provocative speaker. I laughed, I cringed, I laughed, I mulled, I laughed.  Considered irreverent by many, I’m sure, he was down-right funny to most of us attending.  I must admit it is wonderfully refreshing to have someone say what you wish you had the guts to say on any given day in ministry. 

His focus was on how we, as pastors, provide pastoral care in the name of Jesus with the emphasis on "the name of Jesus".  Because with all of its challenges, pastoral care is not too terribly difficult.  Maybe draining but many in ministry feel inclined to the care part of the vocation and were attracted by that aspect of ministry.  (I’m not one of those individuals.)  The challenging part truly is the "in the name of Jesus". Because Jesus had some uncomfortable, non-pc, counter-culture things to say. Then we went through some great discussions the remainder of our time together remembering who Jesus really is and what Jesus really requires and teaches.  I must admit that it was so pleasing to me to be reminded of the strength and expectations of Jesus.  There is a tendency to "wimpify" Christ in are efforts to seek relationship with Christ but that really doesn’t satisfy me.  This Christ that we remembered the past two days sits better with me in regard to what I think is truth yet I’m also fully aware that this Christ is uncomfortable and demanding and expecting much of those of us who claim Him as Lord.

It truly resonates with me because this is the part of the call that I heard from God and have known in the depths of my soul that God has commanded me to be a part.  As pastor, I am an announcer.  I announce to others the word of the Lord.  "Thus saith the Lord God … ".  We aren’t called to make faith comfortable for ourselves or for anyone.  Comfort, conformity and political correctness should not be our objectives and they shouldn’t even be unintentional results.  If they are, then we really aren’t announcing the word of the Lord.  When was Jesus’s message ever comforting, conforming and political correct?  Some of you might say, "Okay – maybe not conforming or political correct, but Jesus was definitely comforting."   Well, that depends on what comfort looks like to you.  Bring your burdens to Jesus and He will give you rest?  Comforting, yes.  Pray to Him and he will give you success, affluence, a modest life with no pain and injustice?  Not likely.

There has been a serious restructuring of Christ into the image we want him to be but it is a seriously false idol – this god we’ve created in our likeness rather than the other way around.  We need to reclaim the Christ who turned the world upside down; who questioned the established beliefs; who reversed the social order; who made the last first and the first last; who started a revolution with twelve nobodies; who dined with those left out in the cold; who befriended the friendless; who refused to play the game; who said – get over yourself and love your neighbor.

Nobody says it finer than C.S. Lewis in his classic The Chronicles of Narnia.

"Is — is he a man?" asked Lucy. "Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh," said Susan, "I thought he was a man. Is he — quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion." "That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else silly." "Then he isn’t safe?" said Lucy. "Safe?" said Mr. Beaver, "don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."

Safe?  Of course He isn’t safe.  But He is good.

What are your thoughts about this?  Do you see a conflicting image of the Christ of Scripture and the Christ portrayed in Christian music, literature, sermons, and culture of today? How do we journey through this as ministers?

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