Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 23, 2006
A wiser saint than I recently commented to me that people remember the emotional experiences of church, the relationships and the connections with both God and people, more than they will ever remember the content of a class or a sermon. Thinking of that, and then reading the Torah as well as my fellow-readers comments has me pondering about who my "fathers"--and mothers too--might be.
Who will I join when my time on earth is ended? Who will be awaiting my arrival with joy and anticipation? Perhaps it is a silly exercise to think of this, since Heaven will doubtless be something quite different than anything I can contemplate. Nonetheless, if love is eternal someone is waiting for me. And some people are still on this earth who have no idea they had an impact on my life, but someday they will.
Speaking of eternity, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,
Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now. There are three things that will endure--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:12-14 (New Living Translation
I've started compiling a list of those fathers and mothers, and sisters and brothers too...people who have been part of my "spiritual formation" as Lutheran Chik phrased it. This is a very incomplete list, but I've started because I want to remember and I want to thank God for them, and the faithfulness of God in my life.
1. My mother
She was the first to tell me about Jesus and to give me a sense of God's love for me. She is about to celebrate her 89th birthday, but one day if things follow the usual course she will be on the other side waiting for me. I still vividly recall the sunshine coming through the window, the hard feel of the floor beneath my knees, the texture of our old couch on my cheek, and the sound of my mother's voice as she led me in prayer when I, at age four, asked Jesus to "come into my heart."
2. My dad
A lifelong Southern Baptist deacon, he gave me a sense of humor, a love for the Bible, for church, and for study. He was a wonderful teacher of the Word. And he loved his daughters.
My relationship with both of my parents had some significant struggles and flaws and I can't say our interactions were always healthy or encouraging. But that does not change the fact that I will eagerly await to be "gathered" to them. My dad has been gone for some years, and I miss him. And I suspect that, viewing things from the "other side," he might have decided that maybe Pentecostal women preachers are not necessarily heretics after all. ;-)
3. Mary Newbill
She was my Sunday School teacher in my preschool and early elementary years. Mary was a tall, thin, plain woman. But I can still see her loving expression. She looked at a cross-eyed, shy, pigeon toed little girl and saw a heart for God. She was the first to teach me (even though I did not know this at the time) to look for the holy potential in people. I still have a card that she mailed to me when I was five.
4. My sisters, Darlaine and Paulette
I can't write about Darlaine, the eldest of three girls, without crying. Darlaine was my second mother. Our own mother was mostly unavailable. Teenaged Darlaine usually shared a bedroom with her little sister (me) and I have many memories of late-night conversations in our old double bed, giggling, "drawing pictures" on each other's backs, reading with a flashlight under the covers, praying. Darlaine read to me, listened to music with me, and played dolls with me when I'm sure she would have preferred other activities. She loved me unconditionally. I am like her in many ways. She is the only person who always understood my explanations for things and who never had to ask me to define any word I used. We used to do the "It Pays to Increase Your Word Power" quizzes in Reader's Digest together, and she gave me my love for books and for reading and for...for WORDS. I can still see her at about age 15 with her "nose buried in a book." That is my mother's phrase.
Darlaine was brilliant and kind and compassionate and funny. My heart breaks for her because she has Alzheimers. She is too young for this.
Here we are, not too long ago.
Our middle sister, Paulette, is the outgoing one of us three. She loved to laugh, to "cut up" and to act. She taught me, in a way, about justice. When I was little I had some significant physical problems. I can still see Paulette flying out of our back door, yelling at the top of her voice at the neighborhood kids. She would watch us play from the kitchen window, and she would see things I never did. She still tells me about the time we kids were playing hide-and-seek and one of the boys stood behind a sapling, hanging out on both sides, plain to see for anyone who had good eyesight. But invisible to me. The other kids watched and snickered as I looked for Eddie unsuccessfully. Paulette would take all she could take, and then she would chase them away and bring me indoors and play "house" or "nurse" or some other make believe game with me. This is something she has confessed she hated to do, but she did it because she loved me. There is a bit of Paulette in me, the champion of the underdog, when I get riled about injustice. Which I frequently do. I'm like Darlaine in some ways and like Paulette in others. Those two sisters of mine are opposites, but I (the youngest child) am a mix. Thank you for loving me, dear ones.
If you have ever listened to Bill Cosby's routine "To Russell, My Brother Whom I Slept With" you know how hilarious sharing space with a sibling can be. The three of us sisters once laughed till we cried listening to that routine together.
5. Mrs. Newman
She was my third grade teacher, pretty, silver-haired, another lover of words. She wore classy suits and pinned a big rose corsage to her lapel. I do not know if she was a Christian or not, but God used her in my life. She taught our class about poetry. One of the poems I wrote won an award and was published in "The Bard" magazine. (Ever heard of that one?) She told me that I was a smart girl. Really? No one else had said such a thing. That was an amazing discovery for me. Part of my spiritual formation? Oh yes. There were so many circumstances in my life that the enemy of my soul could use to defeat and destroy me. But God, in goodness and mercy, sent people to affirm that I was a person of worth and value. A very godly concept indeed.
6. Mrs. LaBarre
The third teacher I am mentioning---teachers, take note--you folks can sure be significant! Mrs. LaBarre was my favorite high school teacher. I attended a good Baptist high school. I am thankful for many things about that school.
It is embarrassing to recall, but in those days I tended to think that Baptists would be the big majority in Heaven. Mrs. LaBarre was a Lutheran. And she was a wonderful Christian woman. I spent some time pondering this startling fact. (Please, forgive me!) And one day she wept as she scolded some of my classmates for the shameful way they had treated our Spanish teacher, a young Mexican American who happened to be Roman Catholic. These were the "popular girls." I was not in that group, and on this day I was glad, as I had not participated in their rude behavior. I can hear Mrs. LaBarre's voice raised in dismay as she wiped her eyes and said, "You girls should be ashamed. Is this how you treat another human being? And a sister in Christ? Oh, you think that's not possible? You think you are better than she is because she is Catholic? She resembles Jesus Christ a great deal more than you girls do at this moment!" Wow!
7. Brother Polk
Do Southern Baptists still call all the men, especially pastors or deacons, "Brother ___________" ? Well, Brother Polk was my pastor. He was a handsome Billy Graham look-alike, a wonderful preacher who was also a man of grace and kindness. He spoke to me with utmost respect when I "walked the aisle" to tell him I wanted to cement my earlier decision to follow Jesus by being baptized. He prayed with me. He baptized me (aged six), in the big baptismal tank at First Baptist. He also shook my hand every Sunday, right along with my dad, and he said, "Good morning, Dorcas Ann! Good to have you in church today!" He looked at me as if he actually saw me. He did this for every child at First Baptist. I never forgot that, and today I try to be like him in looking at children and actually seeing them, listening to children and actually hearing them. I am angry at the Southern Baptist Convention these days, and I left my Baptist beginnings behind about 30 years ago (though I value my heritage and a part of me will always remain). But when I am tempted to judge or to stereotype I remember dear Brother Polk. I am sure he would not approve of some of the things I believe these days. But he modeled the character of Christ and he taught with authority, and he walked in integrity and love. I will rejoice when I see him again.
I have to stop now. I had no intention of writing so much. Perhaps there will be a part two one of these days.
Praise you, God and Father, for these blessings of people!
Friday, January 20, 2006
| You scored as Moltmannian Eschatology. Jürgen Moltmann is one of the key eschatological thinkers of the 20th Century. Eschatology is not only about heaven and hell, but God's plan to make all things new. This should spur us on to political and social action in the present.
What's your eschatology?
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Thursday, January 19, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Four Jobs I've Had in My Life
1. Nurses Aide
2. Data Entry (eeek!)
3. Benefit Specialist (paralegal stuff)
4. Advocate for Eldery in Nursing Homes (Long Term Care Ombudsman)
Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have
1. White Knights
2. My Fair Lady
3. Fiddler on the Roof
4. Gone With the Wind
Four Places I have Lived
1. Los Angeles County, California
2. Jacksonville, North Carolina
3. Washington D.C.
4. Ellendale, North Dakota
Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
2. The Amazing Race
3. Antiques Roadshow
4. ah phooey, put in a video instead
Four Places I have been on Vacation
1. The Bahamas
2. Disney World, FL
3. Disneyland, CA
4. Seattle, WA
Yes, I like Disney stuff.
Four Websites I Visit Daily
1. Disert Paths
2. RevGalBlogPals and some of its members, though not all each day
3. Egalitarian Christian Alliance (well, okay, not daily but often)
4. Better Bibles Blog
Four Favorite Foods
1. Mexican (anything but huevos rancheros)
2. spaghetti or steak...it's a tie
3. BBQ spareribs
4. chocolate ice cream
Four Places I would Rather Be Right Now
1. In a hot tub. My back is killing me. :-(
2. California (not permanently, just for a visit)
3. in the mountains...any mountains
4. ANYWHERE THE SUN IS SHINING!
People I tag (to do this next)
Whoever wants to!
Monday, January 16, 2006
| You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.
Are you a heretic?
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Sunday, January 15, 2006
I'm too busy reading the Bible (in order to TRY to finish in something
like 90 days) to spend much time pondering or blogging. But I
did stop reading Leviticus long enough to take this quiz. It
made me laugh, since once upon a time, I was a Journalism major,
English minor. I changed majors because I realized that, while I
read voraciously and wrote all the time, I was not assertive enough
to be a journalist. So a few years later, after marriage and two small
kids, I studied theology instead. Now, some would find THAT
And as soon as I'm done with the 90 day project, I plan to
try some of the lectio suggestions.
| You scored as Journalism. You are an aspiring journalist,
and you should major in journalism! Like me, you are passionate
about writing and expressing yourself, and you want the world to
understand your beliefs through writing.
What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
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Saturday, January 07, 2006
Well, I took the plunge and signed up with a rather diverse group of readers. I've read the Bible through several times, but not for quite a while and certainly not in 90 days! In spite of a rather chaotic life at present, I've been increasingly aware of my need for some disciplined way to tackle the whole Word of God.
So tomorrow I begin. Sign up to join us, or just see how I, and others, are doing by checking on us here.
What is a California girl, born and raised, doing up here in the north? Seventeen days without sunshine! I am feeling the effects, getting gloomy and crabby and sleepy! Did I say I love snow? Bah! I vote we all get ourselves really fat and hibernate till the crocuses start popping up through the snow, at least. Or maybe I should go make a pan of fudge and try out the new super-duper amazing non-stick plastic pans I got for Christmas.
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Monday, January 02, 2006
Assemblies of God churches in the USA are participating in a week of prayer, January 1-7. This poster is on our bulletin board and on the entryways to the church this week.
As part of that annual observance, the church is open for most of each day for people to come and pray. So I started the day in our sanctuary. Soft hymns played in the background, the cross on the platform wall glowed softly, and the interior was lit only by the white lights of our Christmas tree. It was peaceful. My husband mostly walked around, and I heard him softly praying for the various families of the church, directory in hand. (Today's prayer emphasis is families.) I pictured various people in my mind as I agreed with his prayers.
Once again, as seems to be happening to me a great deal, my awareness of God is centered on people.
What can we take with us into eternity? People. Nothing else seems to matter much anymore. I probably won't take my puny abilities, or my even punier intellect, my ideas of what "ought" to be, my doctrine, my various affiliations, my denomination, or even--praise God--my shortcomings and failures and mistakes. I don't know what to expect when I stand before the Savior, the God who is "Emmanuel"--with me through it all. I don't know much! But I believe that if God is to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" to me, it will be about people. It won't be about the size of my church, or the size of my bank account, or the size of my resume. It will be about the only eternal things I know. Love. And People.
So I start this new year with a renewed awareness of God and a renewed awareness of people.
Here are a few of the ones we prayed for this morning. The pictures were taken a month or so ago as the some of the church women gathered upstairs and the men gathered downstairs.
Nancy, my longtime friend and sister in Christ, with the most beautiful smile I have ever seen, and the softest heart. Honey, the servant and prayer warrior, Linda, another woman with a beautiful smile and a soft heart. And me and Pat, in our Women of Purpose shirts, smiling in this picture, and both, just now, seeking clarity on our pathway. And dear Laurie, stretching towards God like a growing plant towards the sunshine. And Sandy, longtime faithful Christian, and about to enter a new phase of life, once she understands what it is to be! Lord help us, all of us who are seeking guidance and direction. And Lynn, arm outstretched as if to embrace whatever and whoever comes. Thank you for Lynn and her enthusiasm and joy. And my mother, the "old lady of the group" as she says. Protect her Lord, and keep her close to your heart. Bless dear Kelly too as she continues to become who you created her to be. And Phyllis, a woman with a heart for justice and truth. Bless each of them as only you can, Lord.
And our wonderful guys...God bless them! Ray in front--in more ways than he knows! Be with him through all the changes that will come to him this year. And Jim, quiet and faithful and seeking peace. And John, seeking to be "on fire" for God...and Jeff. Bless Jeff, Lord, and bring into his place in the battle. Bless my dear Ken in his bright blue shirt! Bless him with spiritual brightness and renewed joy. And
Clayton too...bless him with JOY and renewed purpose. Bless the "dad" of the group, Gene, with his faithful and true heart for you. What precious guys! God, help them be all they are created to be. Grant them hope and peace and joy and love.
And all the others who are not in the picture this time. Bless them with awareness of your presence. Heal them, restore them, guide them, encourage them, convict them.
Use me in whatever way you choose in the lives of each one.
Lord, I thank you for the blessing of being the pastor of these eternal people--for the blessing of being part of their lives, and many others as well. I thank you for a renewed awareness of your presence. And I thank you, too, for the awareness of people. Eternal God--and eternal people! Amazing! May our connections and our interactions and our love be eternal, by the grace of God. Please speak to people through me, see, hear, and touch PEOPLE through me. What a mystery that you should desire that this be so! Whatever comes, whatever joy, pain, questions, answers, direction, blessing, loss or gain, through it all this year, may people be at the center. You, God, are "with us" as we are with each other on this journey. Amen