Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grace, Sustainability, and Effective Ministry

These past two weeks have made my head spin and my heart hurt. They've also made me smile, pray, take deep breaths, and move forward.

Head spin: WBF, Women's Retreat, VBS, Sunday School, 3M, Girls Camp, Parenting Group, Summer Plan
Heart hurt: Effective ministry = what's that?
Smile: Alan, Brynn, Jolee, Corinne, Compassion (Oh how I love you), The Team at NFC, Women's Retreat and Girls Camp Steering Teams (Such good work being done!), Exercise
Pray: God, you know me. Help me to rest in you. To trust you.
Take Deep Breaths: Grace. God give me grace.
Move Forward: It's about loving Christ and others. NOT myself.

As I continue to wrestle with what to do, how to do it, who I am, and communicating what I'm about, I hear a word that makes me crazy: "I." It's time to refocus on God and leave more room in my head and my heart for Him to work than me.

So here I'll sit/stand/walk/run/Zumba/kneel/crawl/sleep: Soaking in grace, reminding myself that sustainability isn't code for lazy, and out of that truth be used by Christ for effective ministry.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sabbathing by the Sea, errr, Pacific Ocean.

I might just be the worst "sabbather" in the history of the Sabbath. I certainly stink at getting ready to Sabbath. For some the prospect of three days without anything on the schedule except time to commune with God might seem like an extravagant gift; one they would eagerly partake if given the freedom. But instead of just pushing the pause button on "real life" and gratefully accepting the gift, a gift I signed myself up for, I let my to-do list and my responsibilities, or at least my self-induced/mommy/wife/pastor guilt suck much of the joy out of coming to this amazing retreat. And not only does this stress lead to giant run on sentences like the one you just read, but it also leads to non-stop thoughts, worries, and fears racing around my brain, holding me hostage for at least the past 48 hours leading up to the "gift."

Everything gets better when you get in the car. At least this is true for me. Once I'm on my way and I've done all the fretting I can, I start to unwind and enter in. Mile-by-mile as my dad told story after story, I let go of the fear and anxiety about leaving and began to anticipate the adventure that lay ahead as we drove to Harbor Villa for Sabbath By The Sea. This time away was supposed to be a spiritual retreat that my husband and I were going to experience together. It would have been a first for this type of thing-and I was looking forward to how God would use this carved out time in our schedules for us as individuals and as a couple. But a week ago, Alan realized he couldn't leave work this week (no carving possible) and so I was left with a go or not to go. I chose to invite my dad and take the risk that I would still hear God even if Alan wasn't by my side. Insert smiley face.

As an only child, who finds herself extremely self-focused and leads a pretty demandingly busy and scheduled life....time with Dad is much too rare. The opportunity to share this Sabbath with my dad could not only be a fun thing to do but perhaps was God's plan all along.

Tonight during our first prayer gathering we read from Isaiah 55. The first two lines of verse 12 seemed to jump off the page:

You will go out with joy
    and be led forth in peace.

The first line was clearly God's gentle admonition that what He desires for me is to "go out"- to leave my home/work/responsibilities with JOY. He knows I failed and fell woefully short of leaving with joy. But God did not stop at this acknowledgment of my heart's condition. He added the second line: and be led forth in PEACE. This is God's covenant for me. God has promised that I will be led throughout the Sabbath in peace. He will lead me.

I will trust in God's voice form Isaiah 55:2

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.