Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
I'll write more about this year in the days to come. It has been hopeful, exciting and profoundly life changing.
For today, we celebrate the end of the church year. We enter now into a season of waiting and expectation. The busyness of this last month before Christmas dims as Advent whispers sweet peace in the waiting.
As for me and my house, there won't be a frantic rushing to get the latest everything at a $10 discount. There will be patient waiting. There will be remembering that God sent his son and when he did. . . . everything changed. For them and for us.
For now, the creche is empty, but not for long. As we wait.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Confusion and frustration are my go to emotions and the beginning of things spinning out of control. I start to be more carefree with my spiritual practices. I read the Bible, but I stop absorbing it. I say prayers, but I stop listening. I begin this weird dance with the Lord where I beg him to speak and then doubt or avoid what he's saying. It's crazy and I never recognize it until I'm smack in the middle of a mess.
Advent is a great time to take a spiritual inventory and I've been doing just that. Asking myself the hard questions. Why am I running from some things? What's working? What isn't? When was the last time I was in a great God place? What did that look like? What changes need to be made to get back there?
In yoga last week, we were doing backbends, bridges, and fish poses. The instructor said, "How do you feel?" Uncomfortable! "That's because you love productivity and accomplishment. The secret to moving forward is appreciating backward motion in moderation." Sure enough, a few downward dogs and forward bends later, I was feeling more balanced.
We look back to know where we came from and fall on God's faithfulness. We take what's working and carry it with us. We leave, by God's grace, what we need to let go. We press on, straight ahead with focused determination.
And the occasional peek in the rearview mirror.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
It was SO fun to hang out IRL with friends of The Virtual Abbey. Rob is my hilarious adopted brother and Raima has inspired my life with her wise and beautiful spirituality.
And another rapid fire conversation with Penny! One of my favorite human beings for a bazillion reasons. Plus she brought tiarras which I may now wear to various outings. Or to work.
And, the reason we were there-to celebrate the sacrament of marriage with Meredith and Dan. There aren't enough words to describe how grateful I am to have Meredith as a friend in this life. And I adore Dan because he's smart and Godly and funny and wise. And they both let me borrow their books :)
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I grew up as a minister's kid in a Baptist/Bible Church. I fell in love with the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament sometimes on a flannel board. (And, yes, I cut the head off John the Baptist. It's still funny.) It's hard for me to remember a time where God wasn't. And although I so love a great conversion testimony story, I wouldn't have it any other way for me. I'm 31 years old and I've loved God for 23 of those years already.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Perfect titles and an oil free make up remover that WORKS. What a concept.
This is what I'm scraping off my face before church these days. My all time favorite lip gloss.
When hope is not enough - enough said. I just love having this on my bathroom counter.
Friday, October 14, 2011
I froze as my heart stopped. Racing through my mind came whattodowhattodowhattodo? I followed it around for a good 10 minutes. Having just left a charismatic church, I willed it to die. In Jesus' name. It didn't work. I reached for my phone, but didn't know many people yet. Finally I called my new roommate borderline hysterical who came to my rescue.
She found me in the living room following (at a safe distance) this somewhat smaller than a mouse now roach. "I don't know what to do!"
She walked toward it confidently and in one motion - stepped on it. Crunch. As she went to get one tissue to clean up the remains (ewwww!) she said, "Huh. That's interesting."
I was afraid to ask. "What's interesting?"
"Oh, nothing. It's just the ones that look like that usually fly."
I died on the spot.
And thought I would never recover or adjust to this treacherous new landscape.
But, 9 years and roughly 65,321,528,211 larger than life bugs later - I'm a semi pro. Just a few weeks ago I had to put a snake out of my misery when he threatened to get close to one of my dogs.
And, as I was tossing his remains into the woods behind my house I thought, "Huh. Too bad I don't have time or proper tools. He would make the coolest high heels!!"
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
J: I like your blog, but it's not personal enough.
Me: Are you kidding?
J: No, I mean it IS, it just isn't. (Gotta love these conversations!)
Me: Okay, not personal enough, how?
J: Like, you don't post enough pictures of your real life.
Me: Okay, I don't post a lot of pictures. You're right. What would you like pictures of?
J: Fun stuff. You're fun. Like, what's in your refrigerator.
Me: Seriously? Who cares about that?
J: No! It's Fun! Be more fun!
So, thanks to my lovely friend J, you are warmly invited to a weekly blog post called My Real Life Mondays. Starting this Monday I'll pick a part of my *real* life to tell you about, show you, and introduce you to some of my favorite things along the way.
And, in case now curiosity has gotten the best of you. . . . .
Here's my refrigerator.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
But, lately I've had some great, although heart wrenching, back channel conversations with people. It's complicated and I'm not pretending I know what everyone goes through, but these are the things I find helpful to remember.
1. It's harder than it looks to act happy. A lot of the time - much harder.
2. No matter how much support you have, you always feel somewhat alone.
3. It's exhausting chasing the light.
4. Tidal waves can't always be predicted.
5. Any chronic disease is discouraging a lot of the time.
6. If you do, great, but you probably don't have the solution.
7. God IS the answer. Not necessarily helpful when people mention it as a cure.
8. Depression is NOT a sin. It's a symptom.
9. There are absolutely things people can do/not do to help with depression. And there's a lot to it that feels like being blindsided. Balancing both realistically is important.
10. The opposite of depression is not constant joy. Sometimes it's just being okay. And that's okay.
And not just regarding depression:
Be willing to give grace to those in your life who may be dealing with more than you realize. Sometimes actions and reactions surface from a place of just trying to survive. The greatest gift you can give someone else is to be there unconditionally. Hope is always there. It's just sometimes hard to find.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Last Wednesday a brand new person came in and, although there were at least 100 open spaces, sat down right next to me. Considering myself now a part of that church, I thought it might be rude to not welcome her along with the huge banner in the foyer. This church welcomes you+I'm in this church=I have to welcome you. So I did.
Smile. "Hey." (I live in South Georgia. Hey is a perfectly acceptable greeting in church or elsewhere).
She took this as an invitation and said, "ThisismyfirsttimehereI'veneverbeentoachurchlikethisandI'mnotsurewhattodomindifIsithere?" No breath. No kidding.
"No, of course not. Please, sit." I handed her my bulletin and bookmarked the readings for her.
When the service was over I expected her to have lots of questions or be completely overwhelmed. All she said was, "I love these kinds of churches! Where do they hide the incense? I didn't even see it but it smells so good! It's heavenly!"
I hated to have to tell her, but I did.
That's not incense.
That's furniture polish.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I think dreaming is risky and settling in is boring. It's a problem. I can't hope for too much without being afraid none of it will come true. And being without a challenge bores me to tears. I would sum up my life so far as constant frustration mixed with just enough bright rays of clarity and balance to survive.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Yesterday we were watching a sermon by David Platt, the author of the popular book Radical, at work. I think he has great points about a lot of things and covers most topics in ways that are challenging and Biblical. His message about eternity made me nuts.
I agreed with him that salvation is more than "repeating this prayer" signing this card and accepting a get out of Hell free card. I agree that perhaps not everyone who proclaims right relationship with the Almighty is correct. I don't agree with his mindset that we can't know for sure we're going to Heaven.
He mentioned that it keeps him up at night worrying that the people he ministers to don't really know God. He's worried that if he's not careful he will stand before the judgement seat of Christ and hear, "I never knew you." He mentioned that those following God should display works of God and bear fruit. True. But, his message tilted dangerously close to putting salvation back in my court. And that's not good news.
I'll never believe in a God who expects His children to live in fear and anxiety. (Do not fear/be anxious for nothing zips through my mind). God refers to us as his children. Loved. Forgiven. Accepted. We do make a choice to choose Him. We accept his plan of redemption and we fall on his grace and mercy. And then, I have to believe, for my own sanity, we can know where we stand with him. What parent wants their child growing up saying, "You say I'm yours, but I'm just not sure."
I'm not of the mindset that threatening people with Hell will make them come running to the Father. God is everything to me. The rest of all of my life revolves around my decision to be His. That's not to say I've "arrived" spiritually. The fact that we're always changing things so this life better reflects Him is proof that the relationship lives.
I can't live with anxiety that Heaven is not for me. I can't live in fear that I'll get there and He won't recognize me. I've accepted His gift of salvation. I've aligned my life with his. At the end of the day, I'm a human being with an eternal soul. God does not fall off his throne when I fail.
And I'm planning on going to Heaven.
It was love that drew me to Him. . . . .
and love that leads me Home.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I was recounting this story to a friend of mine last night who said to me today, "Bren. You have to blog that. I was still laughing when I went to bed." So, here goes.
I'm getting WAY more comfortable in a liturgical church setting. I get it. I know what to say. I know when to say it. I'm getting to where I even kind of know what's next and whether it's in the Book of Common Prayer, the Service Book, the Hymnal, the bulletin, or the music book especially for the 1130 service. I swear whoever planned this church was ORGANIZED! Ha. So, anyway, now that I know where to find what and when-I'm starting to get the whole rhythm of the liturgical church......and I love it.
Enter Wednesday night several months ago. I'd never been to that service before. I went straight from work. I was talking to a friend on the phone while walking in (not paying attention) so I followed the people in front of me right into the overflow sanctuary. Quite frankly-I didn't know there WAS an overflow sanctuary. So, that's where I ended up-in a row with a bunch of random people which was fine but I got off the phone and thought, "Where am I?"
By then the service started and this room is kind of to the right of the front so you can see-but you can't. Anyway, when my friends ask about stuff at church I just tell them, "I don't know. I just do what my row is doing." :) It's the truth. So, I was paying attention, but this guy walked in and started doing something on his phone and I started thinking about what kind of phone it was and all the sudden my entire row (and a bunch of other people) stand up and start walking to the front. My thought? It's too early for communion and I don't remember seeing that whole set up, but again, I couldn't really see.
So, I either had to go with them or a bunch of people were going to have to crawl over me. I promise you not so long ago I was a "keep up appearances" at church kinda person. Apparently not anymore. So, I'm in the middle of all these people walking to the front when it occurs to me that...
A. I don't know what we're doing and
B. everyone isn't going.
It was too late. What to do, what to do? "Um, Lord?" Total peace. Okay! (Good thing the peace arrived because my other options were none!)
Everyone kneels at the alter. It's a lot of people. I'm somewhere in the middle. I wanted so much to worry, but I just couldn't. No one was looking at me anyway and I honestly just didn't care. I realize by now on Wednesdays they offer a time of "Special prayers for those in need." As long as it's "In general" I definitely qualified! (and thank goodness it wasn't "Confess your biggest sin in this line" Wednesday! I have GOT to pay more attention!).
In spite of myself, my vision tunneled on God showing up in this moment. Sweet indescribable peace. Literally drowning in grace and mercy in that moment. The whole world faded away. The priest comes to me, in the middle, FIRST (Um, why??? I'm in the middle!). He prayed the most beautiful prayer over this life. I can't remember any of it, but I feel like I've lived it out the rest of the week. I know it wasn't a magical prayer, but it was a fairly eternal moment.
I'm not one who gets all wrapped up in experience, but the bottom line is the peace at that alter now several months later-hasn't left. It's weird. And it's wonderful. And I'm so thankful. More than I realized, I must have needed that special God touch. That gentle reminder, "I'm here. I care."
And I had to laugh to myself last Wednesday when a lady sat down next to me and said, "Mind if I just do what you do?"
Not at all :)