Monday, December 17, 2012
The sad and horrific event reminds us that we desperately need a Prince of Peace. We need God-with-Us for our world to change. We pray this Advent for a day when violence will be no more for all of our children.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
No one in my immediate family could have fully prepared me, or coached me about being a pastor and raising kids in the church. I had heard from adult PK's about the trials of living under the microscope of the congregation, but really had no idea what I was getting them into.
What has taken me sometime to figure out is how to juggle the expectations of being a mom and also being a pastor. I am not sure my male colleagues have the same struggles, but we women put a lot into our expectations for what a mom, a working mom, can accomplish outside of work, and then you have a congregation that needs to meet in the evenings and early in the morning and at times when you are out to dinner to celebrate with your family (in emergency situations).
I suppose all working moms do the careful dance of learning how to balance/juggle/maintain career and motherhood.
Each time I have had a new ministry position on the horizon, my first worry is about how I will be able to meet the needs of my congregation and my children, from the reality of not being able to be in two places at once. Will I be able to afford childcare for evening meetings if my husband is out of town? Who will I get to watch my children? Will the church offer childcare? What will I do if there is an emergency on a Saturday and my husband is working or out of town?
So here is the place where I brag about my current congregation, they are so amazing in embracing my family and our needs so that I can minister to them. When Dan was out of town, one family has on two occasions watched my son, first so I could officiate at a funeral and then to stay home with him on a Sunday he was running a fever. When my kids have a performance at school and a meeting is scheduled they are okay with me going to the performance. My husband, congregation and I have gotten into a nice rhythm that is a smooth symphony. In regard to my congregation I believe it because they would do the same for anyone, not just the pastor's family. They truly live up to the call to be a caregiver for any child, be it with a crying kid while mom is singing in the praise band, or to sit with a child when dad is reading scripture.
A lot of the solutions to making sure that my kids are being taken cared of where solutions I had not imagined before moving to El Paso. What used to be a worry is no longer. And I hold this as an example for how we as a church can move forward into the uncertain future, we may not have all or any of the answers right now but we walk forward nonetheless.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Shortly after moving to El Paso, Pastor Julian Ibarra the pastor of the nesting Hispanic congregation in my church building, came to me and told me of the desperate need for food, for rice and beans in Cd. Juarez. So we began a collection that I have been a part of now for four years. Yesterday I attended their worship service and participated in the blessing of the gifts that my congregation and other congregations have contributed to.
What I found so amazing is hard to put into words. For someone who grew up in the Midwest I find it to be such a wonderful gift to be able to be part of a worship service held in Spanish, with people who still have ties to those living in war torn Juarez. Who despite all that has gone wrong in that city, in either their country of birth or their parent's country of birth they still come together and sing praise to God. They still hold onto a faith that God will help them to make things right.
And while it is more than apparent that I am an outsider when I walk into their fellowship, I am perhaps the only one with that perception. I am treated like a beloved child of God and my soul is fed when I gather with them. I thank God for the generosity of my congregation and for the power of God to transform our hearts when we give generously to others. I thank God for Pastor Julian and his keen insight into his community in Cd Juarez, his desire to help those who are hungry and to offer us an opportunity to help.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I suppose part of the reality is that our preparation for the birth of Christ will ultimately be what we allow it to be. If we place our expectations super high, then we have a greater chance of being disappointed when the day finally arrives. I suppose what I struggle with is this idea that we somehow make Christmas happen, with our shopping, our decorating, our baking, our parties, our receiving of gifts. But when it comes down to it, the birth of Christ, the moment of God becoming flesh is not of our own doing. It is a gift given to us apart from anything we can do to make it happen.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
As I added the ingredients to my omelet, Harry said about slimy "he was a good friend." Which caused me to pause and to more fully process what was going on. I said a short prayer over slimy (very grateful that we close our eyes to pray because his presence was turning my stomach) and then they were off to the front yard for his burial.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Thursday, October 25, 2012
This morning as I drove into Central El Paso to the church, I prayed. And I thought about how if my prayer does not result in some action, then I probably wasn't really listening to God. (Which prompted me to write this blog about prayer and also to make some phone calls to members today.)
Some people feel the need to only pray when things start to spiral out of control. I have been there, but what I have noticed in the last couple of years, is that life often times is spiraling in some direction that I would rather it not. My family had just finished up dealing with a pretty serious situation when my son was diagnosed with ADHD. And what I have found is that his diagnosis is an answer to prayer in so many ways. We now have a mountain of resources to help him and to help our family live with a little boy that is so full of energy and insight and at times hard to transition into much needed focus onto something else.
So what I find myself praying for, among so many other things for the people in my faith community, is the strength and endurance to deal with the variety of situations that life throws at us, with the grace, forgiveness, mercy and compassion of our God.
Monday, October 8, 2012
I live on the west side of town and find that to be one of my ministry focal points and I serve a congregation that gathers in the central part of El Paso. A part that once was an affluent part of the city which now sees many homes as multi-family dwellings and lower income housing. It too is a focal point of my ministry and every time I enter into the neighborhood a voice in my head (perhaps God's) says "welcome home." I love this neighborhood and I am blessed to be part of a congregation that does as well, some of us that live in the neighborhood and others that drive to get here.
This neighborhood helps me to stay grounded in my ministry much more so than I think I would be if I served a church on the west side of town, not because there isn't need there for gospel living or because people there already have it all together on the west side, but because I need to be here, because I have room for growth.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
There are few moments in a preacher's life when she is left speechless. We are trained to listen carefully and then to bring a sense of God's presence as found in our scriptures to any given situation. On the day of 9/11, I was three years into full time ministry and found myself at a lose for words. Tragedy on such a great scale can do that for us all and yet even today I am reminded that when there are no words to explain what we went through and what we continue to remember and return to, God is still present. I am so very grateful for the heros that responded and my prayers remain with the families who have lived 11 years into the lose of life. I am grateful for a country who stands beside those who still mourn and who takes time to bring the flags to half mast and to for a moment stand in solidarity with them in their grief. So 11 years later here are the words that bring me comfort on a day like today.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ... Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:4, 10-11).
"The spirit of the Lord God ... has anointed me; ... to provide for those who mourn in Zion - to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle the praise instead of a faint spirit." (Isaiah 61:1,3)
Thursday, August 30, 2012
This morning I took Mesa into the office and avoided I-10 and the view into Mexico. But as I listened to the radio I heard about the violence in another part of the world, of families huddling in the middle of the home praying not to die from bombs outside and I had to think about my neighbors across the border. Cd. Juarez isn't a safe place to be and the poverty there is staggering.
So when I opened my email this morning I was struck by the contrast in one email that showed an impoverished family and read about how Kevin ( resident of Cd. Juarez)did not go to school today because he had no food to eat to give him the energy to get through the day; then the rest of my emails were all from retailers that I shop at with the latest sales and deals. How I respond to my neighbor's need reflects how I understand stewardship, how I understand faithfulness, how I understand mercy and ultimately how I understand Christ's purpose and mission.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Today I was pleasantly surprised! I think in part it is because of her hectic schedule as a 5th grader with a home room teacher, a teacher for enrichment, a teacher for language arts/history, a teacher for math/science, a P.E. teacher and an orchestra teacher. Most of my anxiety over the past 72 hours have been over my little girl that to me is still 5 (even though she is 10) knowing where to go, being able to carry all of her supplies, and to make it through the day!
So we got to the blacktop, found where she needed to line up and she asked me stay!!!! Then when the bell rang, she asked me to walk her to her room (I think to help her carry her supplies). But as I looked around I didn't see any other parents in line with their kids. We talked about how I thought I would be the only parent walking her to class, so she confidently grabbed the extra bags of supplies I was holding and said "I got this mom." So as she got ready to walk in, I leaned in for a hug and she kissed me!!!
Just knowing she needs me but can do it on her own was the best part of my day!
Monday, August 13, 2012
We of course "ewwwed" and "ahhhhed" over all of the amazing things that the athletes were able to do. And then what really caught my attention were the numerous silver medal winners that were so disappointed in what they did (or were unable to do?). Now I understand that they came to win gold, but seriously?!? Second in the world isn't good enough? I know it must be hard to handle disappointment with the world watching, so perhaps as we label it as bad sportsmanship we should also have a little bit of compassion for these young athletes that are just going through the emotions we would rather not have the world see us display. Michael Phelps admits to going off and screaming after not winning.
Part of the story of the Olympics is including the agony of defeat, even if you still get a medal, as well as some humility that we can't always be on top.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Our letter is an invitation for a conversation rather than a word bashing. I'm not sure how it will pan out but it has brought to light the reality that when Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he isn't just referring to the neighbors that make us happy, but also the ones that make us confused, sad, and angry. If love is our guiding principle, then conversation where we can listen to one another must happen. While it isn't always easy to work on solutions rather than to lash out at others, it is what I feel my family is called to do and to be.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Why Ash Wednesday?
This morning a friend asked me a similar question. So it got me thinking on my morning commute into work. Why Ash Wednesday? A simple enough question, with a perhaps simple answer: for me this day marks a special day in the life of our faith community where we come together, collectively to remember that we frequently miss the mark, in other words we sin. Today reminds us that this faith journey we are on is not one where we are in it only for ourselves, but we do have shared responsibility as communities of faith, as members of the human race. So much of scripture reminds us of our connectedness to community and our need to be mindful not just of ourselves or our nuclear family, but of everyone.
Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are all flawed. I think about my own desire to have everything just so. It bothers me that the paint on my walls have white marks showing through, it bothers me that my car desperately needs to be washed, but today it is OK, because the dirt and imperfections are a reminder in a small way that I am not God and that life can be very messy.
Today (like any day should be) we are invited to come as we are: To be open to being honest and vulnerable, to not have it all together.
So today we place ashes on our foreheads to remember that we need God, our community of faith needs God, because of our brokenness and of our world’s brokenness. We gather today to acknowledge that we need healing and our communities need healing.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
On Wednesday, February 22, we enter once again into the church season of Lent. I recently read an on-line article using the imagery of our church community being midwives as we help to each other along in this period of introspection, transformation, and new life.
Lent isn’t just a time for personal introspection, a marathon of letting go and challenging our self-will. It is a time to be mindful of everyone in our church, as together we prepare once again to receive the Good News of Jesus resurrection.
Once again, we have young people in our congregation preparing themselves for baptism during this holy season. There may be some of you who are discerning a path to ministry in the church. Our congregation is still in a period of discernment during this season as we pray and clarify God’s call to us in our location within El Paso.
This year during Lent, we will provide in our worship service time for silent prayer in the sanctuary along with prayer stations throughout the sanctuary. I hope that this will heighten our communal experience of prayer with God in worship.
As a congregation that has mission at its core, I think that we can tweak how we approach Lent this year, based upon Isaiah 1:16-17, which reads “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” As we prepare to enter into Lent, rather than give up something simple like chocolate or your favorite soft drink, maybe give it up and then place aside the money you would have spent on those items and then donate it. You might even take a certain week-day meal, let’s say Monday’s evening meal and have beans and rice for dinner and put aside what you did not spend as an offering to the Food Pantry.
Or maybe you want to give up a Saturday morning of catching up on your favorite TV shows that you have DVR’d and instead go out to Jardín De Milagros to help plant the spring/summer crop.
I hope you can join us for our Soup and Study on Wednesday at 5:30 starting on February 29th. We will be looking at the topic of Abrasive Grace from the perspective of the book of Galatians.
What do you plan on giving up or doing to help someone out this year?
Thursday, January 12, 2012
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