Heart-Shattered Lives

“For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn’t know we needed and take us to places where we didn’t want to go.”

Apparently I needed to learn a bit more about grace.  Because I’ve gotten some serious helpings of it this week.  And I’ve gone some places I didn’t really want to go.
I’ve tackled a huge project in the last two weeks.  In my passion and zeal for doing good, I ended up doing some damage.
I’m beating myself up a bit for not being more careful, more thoughtful.  For not planning ahead and paying attention to detail.  For neglecting the ongoing things that must be done in an effort to tackle a whole bunch of new stuff that needed to be done.  For ignoring the needs of people in my rush to formulate a plan. 
Grace showed me all this, with tenderness and kindness and understanding.  With patience.  It doesn’t necessarily soften the reality of the things I did wrong, but it puts things in perspective.
So I’m left with a big bunch of grace.  It came to bring me things I didn’t know I needed – a gentle, loving reprimand that broke my heart.  A firm reminder that ‘words matter’.  A few healthy questions about ideas and plans uncommunicated that left others feeling ignored and left behind. A face-to-face meeting with someone who said, “You really hurt my feelings.”  A friend, hurt.  A roomful of people, shell-shocked by ill-prepared, poorly chosen words.
Add that to a few things unsaid, awkward moments of conversation that made it obvious that something was amiss, and you have a ripe opportunity for an invitation to grace.
Today, all these things came home to show me what I needed.
“Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your steadfast love, according to your great  compassion blot out my many trangressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from sin.”  Psalm 51,1-3 (NIV)

I know this by heart.  I lived in the middle of these words for a long season of my life.
Tonight, the same scripture, paraphrased different, spoke to my heart:
“Generous in love – God, give grace!  Huge in mercy – wipe out my bad record!”  Psalm 51.1 (The Message)

I feel foolish, and ashamed, and dumb.  I feel insensitive and unkind.  I’m embarrassed.
And yet I do not feel unloved.
I feel grace.
“Going through the motions doesn’t please you; a flawless performance is nothing to you.  I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”  Psalm 51.16-17 (The Message)
*quote above from Kathleen Norris, via A Song Not Scored For Breathing

Church Business Meeting – No Punches Thrown!

We had a great gathering tonight, at our annual ‘Membership Meeting’.  It’s actually the only business meeting our church has all year.  It’s perfunctory; we have an agenda meeting the week before, during which concerns and questions are discussed.  We met tonight for dinner, worship and a vote – which went basically like this:

Chauncey:  “Yada yada yada yada…yada yada….all in favor?”
All:  “Aye!”
Chauncey:  “Motion passed!  Item two, blah blah blah blah blah…all in favor?”
All:  “Aye!”
Chauncey:  “Motion passed!”
Etc.
Not to belittle Chauncey, our moderator; he is awesome.  But our leadership does such a stellar job of dealing with conflict so that there is no cause for old-fashioned church business meeting conflict.  It’s awesome!
After the ‘business’ part, we get down to the serious business of worship.  It’s great for us, because we can unleash, relax and just play – often a bit more than the typical Sunday.  We had a great line up tonight, and with just basic prep, we had a great time playing.
Afterwards, Kevin said he thinks we’ll get band shirts printed with a definitive slogan:  “It’ll be fine!”  Apparently I say that a lot.
Several things weren’t fine tonight. 
  • We forgot the keyboards.  Then, we when went back to get them, we forgot the stands.  I had to do soundcheck crouched on the floor like a frog in front of the keys.  It was ridiculous.  And humbling.  Just in case I get too big for my britches…
  • We forgot to announce that the band needed to go through the buffet line first.  So they ended up last.  By the time they sat down, it was time to start playing.  It wasn’t pretty.
  • I got to share some info about a new communications strategy, but I pretty much bored even myself.  So that wasn’t so great.  But it was good practice for the future.  
  • The awesome video piece that would make everybody cry as we reflected on the changed lives we’ve been privileged to witness this year?  No audio.
  • The pastor who worked for five hours to make that awesome video?  Frustrated.
But you can’t keep a good team down, and you can’t quench the spirit of God when it’s moving. Dennis shared some incredible and inspirational words.  Brian challenged and inspired us with his truthful but in-your-face statements, at one point getting down on his knees to make a particular point.  Our musicians did an incredible job of being flexible and bringing excellent attitudes to an important night.  We all worked together to tear down and reposition all the furniture in the room for Bethel Baptist Church’s service tomorrow morning (thanks, guys!)
Looking out over the room at a few hundred people committed to the core of our fellowship, I was moved deeply.  These are people that I know and love, who are making all sorts of sacrifices for the work God is doing through the church.  It was a beautiful sight.
It’ll be fine.  It already is.

More Than Ever

We’re trying to build a church building.  Bricks and mortar cost money.

The economy is in a horrible nosedive.
Seems like a terrible time to try to erect a church building.
These things cost money, you see.  And we’re committed, we’re in, it’s happening.
And churches don’t get government grants to raise up buildings.  Nobody else is paying for this.  We pay for this.  We sacrifice, and tithe our 10% – or more – or less – and we sweat and risk God’s promises and give our dollars to the church, trusting that letting go of that which we think we need the most might give God the honor he is due.  To all my PCC friends, do you realize this?  Do you know that this building doesn’t go up unless you give?  
It’s exhilarating and terrifying, all at the same time.
Today, I read Jan’s blog and these words caught hold of me:
More than ever, people need what only God can give through the church. And more than ever, we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus.
I’m convinced.  And convicted.
You?

Sitting at Cafe Caturra, one of my favorite places in the universe.

I’m disconnecting from the world for a few hours.
Working on a communications strategy for PCC.
Piles of paper, free-floating ideas, a vision, a challenge and an undercurrent of excitement and electricity for what lies ahead.
And an unmistakable kick in the butt from the Most Creative One.
Time to get to work.

A-R-M-A-D-I-L-L-O

I’m beginning to wonder.  Are these some signs that I’m not getting enough sleep?

This morning in the shower, I squirted a dollop of face wash in my hand.  And promptly used it to wash my hair.  After I had already washed my hair.
Yesterday, I couldn’t remember the word for this:
Of course, it was the first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning.
I need a day of rest.

Random Saturday Thoughts

A couple things I have discovered this morning:

  • Pizza Hut Supreme Pizza looks great, smells great, tastes great.  But it’s an internal nightmare.
  • A nap at 5:30 PM doesn’t indicate a normal bedtime later that evening.
  • If I don’t have to get up (like to get the kids on the bus, be somewhere, do something), then, frankly, I’d rather not.
  • I have much to do.  The thought of structuring my Saturday around what I need to do, rather than the kids’ obligations, is somewhat pleasing to me.
  • If I don’t clean my bathroom soon, I might have to report myself to the Health Department.
  • Candy Salyer would be so disappointed in me if she was in my bathroom.  (Seriously, that’s who I thought of this morning when I looked around and realized that I could not let this slide one more day.  It’s not my mom I worry about anymore; it’s Candy Salyer.  Go figure.)
  • Regardless of what time you atually get out of bed, coffee is a necessity.
  • The thought of singing a Jimmy Webb tune to close the church service tomorrow is EXTREMELY pleasing to me.  I need to practice.
*Candy Salyer is the wife of my good friend and co-worker Kevin; Candy is a kind and gentle woman who does a great job of keeping her family organized and CLEAN.  Mostly with a beautiful smile on her face.  I wonder if she ever reads my blog?  ‘Cause now she’s like, famous and all….