Slow Sensible Talk

Garrison Keillor is one of my all-time favorites. I want to say “favorite author”, but it’s more than his writing. I could say “favorite entertainer”, but that seems so simplistic. After A Prairie Home Companion, I don’t feel entertained – I feel at peace.

I’d like to say that he’s one of my all-time favorite people, but I don’t really know him. So that doesn’t seem right.

Regardless, he’s special to me. And when I read this today, I paid attention.

Back in the day, you glanced at a couple newspapers and a handful of magazines and that was it, your duty was done, you had the evening free to sit on the porch and jiggle the ice in your glass and talk slow sensible talk with the friends and neighbors. But now, if you dare open your computer and go online, you are swept away into a vortex of surf and whirled around and around and when you finally gather the will to click Disconnect, you find that hours have passed. Weeks, perhaps. And you can’t remember a bit of it.

Made me think.

Read his entire article here.

What Leadership Demands

I came to my job at PCC with relatively low expectations for my role and responsibilities.  After worshiping from the seats for several months as an attender (and crying through the services, just like so many others) I eventually began to serve as a musician.  They needed a piano player, and I played, so there you go.

When a larger need presented itself, I was asked to help with some organizational and administrative stuff for the music team.  That role opened up to an offer to come on staff; I could hardly believe the offer was extended, but there were too many indicators that God was involved.  I left my secure, salaried, benefit-rich position in Chesterfield County and came to work for Powhatan Community Church.
I’ve never regretted it.
One of the most rewarding parts of my role here is the opportunity to stretch my leadership wings.  I had an early start in that area; growing up, I was always in charge of something.  Class officer, student council officer, president of this and that club, leader of this and that organization.  I was our high school’s nominee to the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar as a sophomore.  I was outgoing, outspoken and very involved.  Once I earned my teaching credentials, I was active and inventive and aggressive with new ideas and programs; I loved teaching and was eager to pursue the development of anything and everything we could dream up – especially when somebody said it couldn’t be done.
In the midst of all of this activity, circumstances in my life led me to the place where I embraced a real relationship with Jesus for the first time; although the church had a place in my life, up until this point it held no meaning other than what was culturally and traditional important to me and my family.  But around 1987, I met Jesus.  It changed my life.
I became very zealous, very focused and very excited about plugging back into a local church.  I was warmly welcomed into a small, loving church that was rooted in rather basic, fundamental, conservative theology – and culture.  I loved that church and the people, and strove to accept the teachings I heard and those that were modeled, based on my desire to live as a “good Christian” and really understand what it meant to sincerely follow Jesus.  I really wanted to do this right.
In that particular time and place, in a fairly fundamentalist environment, I learned to equate being a “good Christian” with a form of submission that required burying my tendency to lead.  Without ever being sternly instructed in such things, I slowly absorbed the notion that my Christian life could not safely include my past – a past that reeked of leading most everything I got involved in – primarily because of my gender.  So, I fought hard to be somebody completely new – clinging to that “new creature in Christ” idea.  I wanted to be not just a “good Christian”, but a “good Christian woman“.
I tried.  In doing so, my attempts to be somebody completely different harmed not only me, but those around me.  I know that in an effort to be a “good wife” according to misinterpreted standards, I failed to bring my authentic self to my marriage – and that contributed to its downfall.  I felt like an imposter in my own life.  I never understood how to connect my past – just the simple life I had during high school and college – with the person I felt I was supposed to be, post-Jesus.
Moving out of the Bible belt, experiencing grace, opening my eyes and ears to different, Bible-based teaching – and completely falling on my butt in terms of my pathetic attempts to “be a good Christian” – all these things combined to bring me to a new place.  And the circle began to close, somewhat, in this new place – when I arrived in Powhatan.  I’d begun to hear and understand hints of a richer, more authentic form of grace – a Jesus that was fuller and stronger and more complete than what I’d been taught.  I’d heard it in Cleveland, at Fellowship Bible Church.  I’d heard it from Jamie Rasmussen and Doug Flood.  I’d seen it lived out in women like Sharon Rowland and Tish Lushiano and Sharon Lloyd.
I was able to taste it when I was exposed completely, broken, and forgiven freely.
The circle of grace closed around me here in Powhatan, gathered me towards a new role and responsibility at PCC, and has spun me around, safely inside its walls, only to thrust me out into a new – and yet very familiar – place.  I live in this circle of grace, tethered to its center – my friend, my Lord, my savior – free to go out and work and live and be, all the while welcomed home.  It is such a different thing, this living in grace.  So much safer than being a “good Christian”.
What prompts all this?  A post I read tonight on this blog, one titled “What Leadership Demands”.  You see, between the faithful, patient friendship and encouragement of Brian Hughes, the partnership of Kevin Salyer, the kind, steadfast example of Angie Frame, the passion for the Word of Sammy Frame, the gentle spirit of Lori Wheeler, the quiet strength of Susan Hughes, the strong, steady hand of Chauncey Starkey, the unyielding can-do attitude of John Starkey, the honest, fiery indenpendence of Kim Meza and the kind, listening ear of Dennis Green, I have been held up, prayed for, pushed toward, yelled at, convicted of and loved into the sweet spot of life.
I am a leader.  God made me that way, years ago.  Even now, it seems presumptuous to type those words.  It frightens me, seems like I’m “getting too big for my britches”.  I’m afraid somebody might hear me, and cut me back down to size.
“You’re a leader?  Ha.  Who do you think you are?  You’re just a girl…just a piano player…just a teacher…that’s all.  Who do you think you are?”
But over and over again, it comes back.  I see it, I feel it, I experience it.  And I have finally learned to accept it, to marry my history with my present tense.  I feel that I am becoming, through the grace of God, all that He has intended me to be.  He has molded the broken, battered, sometimes unwilling clay of my life into a ragged pot – but I have finally learned the joy of yielding to the pressure of his direction, rather than fighting it.  For even with the purest of motives, fighting God makes you sweat.  It’s exhausting and draining.
I am a leader.  

And for you, for the Kingdom, for all who have invested in me and loved me and fought with me and pushed me – I want to be the very best leader I can be.  I read this post and cry, recognizing a few things, longing for others, knowing that God placed something inside of me that fits who I am with who I want to be, exactly where I am.
I simply cannot imagine anything better.

God Can Do Anything, You Know…

I had a phone call early (for me, anyway) this morning.  It was a friend who wanted to share something from the Bible that she felt was really pertinent to our church right now.  

It’s a scripture verse I’ve read before, but in light of the week’s events and the undercurrent of electricity and anticipation that I feel about our the future, it spoke powerfully to me today.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

My friend emphasized the part about glory in the church and encouraged me to seize that.  
It’s resonated in my head and heart all morning.  I sought out that verse in The Message, knowing that Peterson always gives a slightly different slant to the words of scripture that ALWAYS prompts me to think and often touches me deeply.  Here’s his take:

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”

I’m keeping that close to my heart today, this practical voicing of an immense idea:  God can do anything, you know…

Oh, yeah.
It makes me wonder what’s going on, what he’s working within you, deeply and gently, to create something that you can’t even imagine.  It’s happening in many of us.  It’s happening in our church.
Oh, yeah.  
What’s he doing in you?
Scriptures from Ephesians 3


This made me cry today.

I’m floored when God reveals some part of life to me, when I – in my utter self-absorption – am running around caught up in all the minute details of my life, and things like this are happening right around the corner.
God of mercy, grace and compassion – give us your eyes to see, and hearts to understand the painful challenges facing the people around us.  
The ones who give care.
The ones who receive care.
The ones who don’t care.

To Be Loved…

Pete Wilson is a pastor in Nashville, a husband and a father.

And a very honest blogger.
If you’ve ever wrestled with the debilitating desire to be loved, to be accepted at any cost, to find your value in others’ opinions (hey – I KNOW who you are!), you will be encouraged and perhaps challenged by this post.  Here’s just a snippet of Pete’s honest confession of his struggle:
I would ignore the sincere compliments of others to be obsessed with the few critics.
I would abandon my boundaries and go above and beyond to “help” someone while ignoring my family. (ouch!)
I would put off the tough leadership decisions trying to keep all sides content.

Check out Pete’s blog – click here.
You’re welcome.

My brother gave me some good advice regarding dealing with my difficulties. I thought I’d share it:

“I was reading the gospels and the thought occurred to me that the more we focus on the wide open spaces of the Kingdom of grace, the smaller our problems become. As humans we PREFER to focus in our difficulties like a large man focuses on buffet signs (sorry, it’s the best metaphor I could come up with). But LOVE never shrinks. His love is limitless, and ever-expanding, which means it can be as big as we need it to be, in order to dwarf our problems.” ec

God’s love literally dwarfs our problems. That’s an active verb. He acts on our behalf. It’s not just my struggle to see things clearly or to figure stuff out, or to apply what I know of grace to the situation. He acts for our good, for His glory, on His terms.

Isn’t that awesome?