Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Natality

Happy birthday to me, and my brother, and my niece, and my big girl! It's a big week for births, though we aren't doing anything real big to celebrate. Just nice and relaxed. Just my speed these days.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Never was there such sisters

It's official, SweetBaby is crawling! Forwards, that is. Not quickly or skillfully, but with great determination, and already getting into trouble. We apparently can no longer have anything on the coffee table. And the cords for the keyboard will have to be hidden somehow. She really wanted those cords today. Every time I turned around, she was heading for them. And if you lie down on the floor, she immediately tries to climb up and over you. Our little mountain climber!

Lil' Princess is definitely struggling with this sibling business. She has been the only child for so long. She does love her sister, but it is hard for her to share the attention, and realize that her sister actually comes first for attention under certain circumstances. Without fail, almost every night, she's yelling for me to come exactly when she knows I'm rocking her sister to sleep. And that's why she wants me soooo badly at that very moment. So I've tried to make a point of "picking" her for things, like making sure she knows I'm choosing to read her a story instead of being the one getting Sadie ready for bed. It is wonderful to see that if I bring her little sister in with me to wake her up, she wakes up in such a good mood (otherwise it's a coin-toss between a starting mood of grumpy misery and reluctant obedience - we are NOT morning people in this house).

Right at this moment SweetBaby is attempting to crawl all over RevDad and spouting all kinds of baby talk. Lil' P is busy getting into all the stuff we'd rather she'd leave alone. And RevDad is patiently waiting for me to get done with this post so we can get a small project done before dinner. So, off we go!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gear Shift

Sweet Baby's latest accomplishment is crawling backwards. She tries with all her might to crawl forwards, her arms pulling her body towards me. But her legs drag her backwards, and since they're stronger, back she goes. The back and the front limbs have yet to figure out how to work in concert, which frustrates her. But she keeps trying, and she keeps backing into furniture, and corners, and all sorts of places she didn't intend to go.

I see waaaaaaay too many similarities with how our lives tend to work. But one day way too soon Sweet Baby will figure this whole crawling thing out, will switch from reverse to forward, and turn our lives upside down (eeep!) But do we ever figure it out?? We intend to move forward, to turn away from our sins, to do better, to be meaningful, to be whatever that vision of ourselves we carry. But in the end, don't we end up backing up into the same old dusty corners? Bringing out the same old favorite sins?

We are both saint and sinner. We earn our sinner status. God gives us our sainthood. There are just many days when I want to ask "make mine a double, Lord!" Because, boy do I need to make up for some big backward steps.

But we're supposed to carry on with boldness anyway. Keep on, even though we are flawed messengers. Trust that God's work through us will be sufficient, that God's grace is sufficient too. Even for us backward crawlers, who never seem to get our forward and reverse figured out.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My man Thomas

photo from flickr

I appreciate Thomas. "Unless I see...unless I touch..." There are plenty of times when a little healthy skepticism, clear questions, and time spent thinking things through is precisely how faith is going to grow and deepen. Maturing in faith is not about closing your mind, but about opening it to how God is at work. Our tendency is to limit how we think God can work or how God can be, or how we can define aspects of faith. But God is sooo much bigger than our little boxes, our little categories.

Thomas had no category in his head to understand a risen Christ. He only knew what he could see and touch, so that is what he asked for. Fortunately for him, he could receive that experience. But we who come after can't. That's why Jesus says, blessed are those who do not see and yet believe. So we rely on the work of the Holy Spirit, the scriptures, prayer, and the support of the Christian community. We ask our questions. We think. We pray. We talk and study with fellow believers.

And God's desire us that we would trust God more and more, and that we would join Thomas in confessing "My Lord and my God!"

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Sermon Woes



That's what any ideas I have had thus far for Sunday's sermon have sounded like. Blah.

It's Jesus appearing the disciples in the locked room after his resurrection, and then appearing again when Thomas is with them (good old "doubting" Thomas).

I am struggling to say anything fresh and new about this encounter. Is there a different angle? Or would this be a good opportunity to talk about doubt. How it's normal. And how God reaches out with blood-stained hands to touch our hearts and lives to nudge aside the doubt and fill up the space with hope and trust.

Or something like that.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Recovery

Easter recovery continues...

Easter Sunday was lovely.

The main church of the parish looked beautiful with all the bright banners, butterflies, and fresh flowers. One of the tulip plants in the Easter memorial garden was given in honor of me and my family by one of the matriarchs of the congregation, which was so sweet. The people needed a little prodding when it came to the call and response "Christ is risen - he is risen indeed!" since it was so early, but they soon caught the enthusiasm. It was a joyful service, and nice to see all the family visiting some of the elderly and infirm members. The sermon even managed to be coherent and different from any Easter sermon I have ever given, so yay!

The little church in the country was not so full. None of the families had big family get-togethers this year. There was a little lingering sadness too, missing the presence of those who have left the church. But SweetBaby certainly livened things up by loudly talking along with me, and accompanying all the hymns, to the delight of all and the embarrassment of her mother. I think everyone felt the lift of Easter, though, the relief of Lent done, the joy of Easter and spring, the readiness to move on to new life and a new stage in the church's life. This church is ready to be done suffering and mourning, and ready to move on to living.

The little church in the town down the road was full to the brim! Our average attendance is ten. This Sunday we filled the place! Having a baptism made a big difference. It was such a joyful event. The baby is 6 months old, two days older than SweetBaby. She was so much fun at the baptism. She was checking everything out, and fully involved in the whole experience. And so cute! There were so many kids, which just delighted our usual members to no end. So many smiles, so much laughter, and communion actually took more than two tables worth! It was great. I almost lost it at one point when I looked back and saw the gentleman of the couple taking care of Sadie, holding her and having quite a conversation back and forth with her. And he had the biggest grin from ear to ear. So much joy was contained in that one little white church (that, truth be known, is usually a kinda grumpy place).

So much to be thankful for...and still exhausted. Today we met with other pastors for text study to get ready for next Sunday, and doubting Thomas. I'm not ready to gear up again! But time marches on, and Sunday comes around again fast. At least Lil' Princess got to color eggs yesterday finally, and she and I helped the quilters for a while. That was so much fun, and the ladies really enjoyed having her there, and encouraged her with different little jobs.

I'm so glad to see the sun today, and to be able to walk outside with just a light jacket. My bulbs are showing up, and I have a real itching to do some weeding and clearing in the flower patches. It will be fun to introduce SweetBaby to the great outdoors, that is until she starts crawling and gets into everything that's unsafe. But that's just how it works!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Easter Wishes

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

A blessed and joyful Easter to all -

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." Luke 24:5b

Friday, April 02, 2010

How Time Flies

Wow, can you tell we have a baby???? I can't believe I haven't posted since Thanksgiving.

We are in the midst of Holy Week.

Maundy Thursday service was positive. I was pleased with my meditation, which was focused on the definitions of love. Turn-out was OK, I was disappointed that so few people from the congregation hosting the service showed up. Basically, just those who were involved in the divesting were there. As always, it seemed like my girls were the highlight of the service for everyone. Even the one particular woman who does not like me is so sweet and patient with Lil' Princess, she makes a point of connecting with her and being kind to her. And of course EVERYONE, including the gruff old ranchers, want to take care of Sweet Baby. The first one to reach for her when I got there was one of these guys!

Tonight is Good Friday. I'm showing the Power Point of pictures from the Way of the Cross walk we experienced in Yarnell AZ in 2005. RevDad remembered this presentation I did back then, and so we're both using it. Just had to do a little rewriting. It really is a powerful way to walk through the events of Good Friday. RevDad gets the girls tonight, which is a relief for me. I don't regularly use a projector like him, so I am a bit anxious about getting it all set up and working.

Still haven't written anything for Easter. Not sure what I'm going to say. I find I need to get through Thursday and Friday before I can really focus on the resurrection message, so Saturday will be a busy day. We will also be coloring eggs and decorating, and both girls will be their usual demanding selves, so it will be the usual crazy balancing act!