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Weeds and Nerf darts

Ministry, Wife and Mom life… bring it on.

Why Weeds and Nerf Darts?

I have a box of Nerf guns by my front door. No kidding. We had to move the love seat over to accommodate the overflowing amount of Nerf guns, Rebelle crossbows and the box full of darts. The box has become the ubiquitous part of my life, as have the darts I run over with the lawn mower.

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Pouring from an Empty Cup

5th Sunday after Epiphany Mark 1:29-39

“Jesus replied ‘Let us go somewhere else- to the nearby villages- so I can preach there also. That is why I have come'” – Mark 1:38

This week has been tough, for those of you who have been following along you know I lost someone close to me recently. Well, life doesn’t stop for grief, and this past week my Grandmother was admitted to the hospital with heart and lung problems. So the trite cliche is ever so true here… when it rains it pours.

However, Jesus was no stranger to the outpouring of problems. People sought him out to heal their illnesses, drive out demons, and to learn anything they could from his teaching. In this passage he heals the mother-in-law of Simon, as well as many more people who showed up at the door for his healing touch.

Its no surprise that in the morning the disciples couldn’t find him, because he had gone to pray alone. The phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup” has become widely used in the conversation surrounding self-care. In fact, self-care has become a hot topic in our society as of late. I’m not talking about getting massages, or taking long hot baths (although that sounds great), I’m talking about actually making sure you are taking care of yourself.

Are you eating foods that fuel your body? Are you making sure your muscles get used instead of atrophy? Has your mind been engaged with a good book or intellectual conversation? Do you have time to check in with your soul, or talk to someone about your spiritual life? Unfortunately for many of us the answer is no.

For those of us who are caretakers, of small children or those of us in sandwich generations who care for small children and adults in our lives, we often don’t take time for self-care. We tell ourselves the needs of others come before our own, and in some cases that’s true. I’m not going to read my book while my baby cries in his crib, but I can turn off the tv later in the day and read it while he plays. I’m not going to skip hospital visits to make sure I eat right, but I can make better choices before I leave the house instead of stoping for fast food.

Jesus took time alone, to fill up his own cup before he poured out blessings on other people. Find your time. Carve it out wherever you can get it, and fill up with whatever you need, so you can pour out to others in your life.

Authority

4th Sunday after Epiphany Mark 1:21-28

This week’s lectionary gospel begins with Jesus teaching in the synagogue. Scribes often taught in the synagogue, but scribes had to receive their authority from following the law. Jesus teaches with authority not given to him by the law. His authority is a divine authority and the people around him are beginning to realize it.

They wonder how he has this authority, and why he does what he does. And then someone comes along to prove Jesus’ authority. A man with an unclean spirit approaches Jesus and the demon engages the divine. The demon even knows that Jesus is the Son of God, and says so in front of everyone.

“I know who you are, you are the Holy one from God”

We forget sometimes, that there was a time Jesus walked this earth, and people didn’t know who he was. We know the end of the story, but contemporaries of Jesus did not.

Jesus didn’t have any earthly authority. He wasn’t a political figure, or a military force that was going to save his people. But he did have divine authority. He had authority to teach the will of God to his people, and to cast out demons. He has the authority to calm the storms, to perform miracles, and to heal the sick. His was an authority of service.

Do our leaders serve? Do those around us, politicians, teachers, pastors, law enforcement, judges, even parents… do any of us with authority over others remember that despite Jesus’ divine authority, he lived a life of service to others?

We don’t have the same authority as Jesus, as we are human as we are full of flaws and prone to sin. But we are capable of recognizing that Jesus’ authority to forgive sins extends to us. That our sins are forgiven and we are free to live a life of service to others because we have a savior who showed us the way.

Fishing For People

3rd Sunday After Epiphany Mark 1:14-20

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” -Mark 1:17

This week has been rough. My very dear friend passed away on Saturday after her battle with cancer. I met Lauren when I moved to Covington TN in 2013 for my placement at a church where I would serve as the youth minister while in seminary. Lauren was in the next town south of me and was so excited to have another female youth minister and seminarian that she showed up the very first day to help me move my furniture. From that point on we were together.

We got mistaken for sisters a lot, which was fun for us two only children. We shared a love of Mexican food, Chacos, coffee and youth ministry. The closest Starbucks was 25 minutes away from my house, and Lauren was conveniently on the way, so once, or twice, or many times a week I would pick her up and we would ride down to properly caffeinate ourselves before beginning our day. Even though both of us would “pre-game” (her term) with our own coffee at home.

We took joint mission trips with our youth groups, had combined youth group once a month, and generally shared a love of ministry together that was unparalleled. She would joke that we should go work for a church together where I could be in charge of games and lessons and she could do what she loved, be the master organizer of all things.

So what does this have to do with fishing for people? There was no better fisher in the world. Lauren reached into your soul and pulled you into her world, which was full of a deep love for Jesus. When she got her hook in you she didn’t let go, and you never wanted her to. My boys called her “aunt Lauren” as did many other kids in her sphere of influence.

She cast a wide net in her youth ministry, and her kids loved her fiercely. She caught sports stars, singers, instrumentalists, and kids who might have never felt at home anywhere, but they had a home with Lauren.

What I learned from Lauren would fill volumes, but for now, I’ll just say, go fishing. Catch people and tell them about the love of Jesus, maybe you go to church together, or maybe you just go out for tacos. Either way, be like Lauren, reel ’em in and never let go.

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Aunt Lauren and AJ at Build a Bear for his 11th birthday.

Come and See

2nd Sunday After Epiphany

John 1:43-51

 

“Follow me.”

These are the all too familiar words Jesus speaks to Philip, a man of the same town as Andrew and Peter. I love when these two words come up in scripture, because they are always followed by… well… following. The author simply moves on with the story with the new disciples following their teacher.

Wait. What?

They just follow. There’s no inner turmoil over leaving family, or obligations, or various fishing equipment, just following. In the case of Philip here in the Gospel of John, he runs to get Nathanael as well. He tells Nathanael they have found the one of whom Moses wrote, Joseph’s boy from Nazareth.

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All Shook Up

Lectionary for the Baptism of the Lord- Psalm 29

Psalm 29:8

“The Voice of the Lord shakes the desert, the lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.”

Sometimes I wish I could hear God’s voice. A real audible voice that would just tell me what to do. Then I remember that I’m pretty stubborn and I’d probably just argue with the voice and sometimes, perhaps, put my fingers in my ear and just turn away, like the petulant child I’ve been known to be.

Then I read Psalm 29 and I think about the voice of the Lord. The psalmist tells us its “powerful, majestic, breaks the cedars of Lebanon, strikes with flashes of lightening, shakes the desert, and twists the oaks, and strips the forests bare.”

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On Starting Over

Starting over is hard. Moving to a new city, finding a new job, starting kids at a new school, learning to find a new favorite grocery store… its a lot of new, and a lot of tough stuff. This past year has been a year of starting over for us. We finally moved from outside Memphis TN to Decatur Alabama, where my husband had been living nine months prior to our move. We’ve spent the last year with lots of new in front of us, and its been quite the journey. 

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Then They Were Boys…

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We didn’t find out the gender of either of our kids. I remember sitting with my mom looking at baby things, and her saying “What if its a boy?” I had a momentary sense of panic. I’m an only child, of the female variety, so neither my mother nor I had any experience with boys. We didn’t understand them, and were pretty convinced that the aforementioned baby would have to be a girl.

Then they were boys…

5 years apart they were both boys. God’s funny that way, right? I was convinced that when my first son was born that it might have been some kind of cruel joke. What was I going to do with a boy? With all of the little sports onsies, tiny baseball caps, and overalls?

I with I’d known how great it would be. 

I wish I’d known how much fun it would be to play in the dirt. To button up little plaid shirts, roll up the cuffs of some jeans, and put tiny sneakers on to go to church, without frilly dresses and tights.

I wish I’d known potty training wouldn’t be the nightmare I thought it would be. That they’d be rough, fall down the stairs, yank out a tooth and laugh about it. Or how they’d fall asleep on the couch with me watching Harry Potter, and I would wish they could stay that little forever.

I wish I’d known that, while it would be hard to fight people when they didn’t act the way culture tells them boys should act,  it would be worth it. That I would be raising them to be whole people, not media portrayals of boys. That they would love Nerf guns, and Pokemon, and Super heroes, but they would also love My Little Ponies, Princess movies, and singing along to “girl power” songs on the radio.

Being a mom of boys has been such a blessing, even when its hard. I cringe when I hear things come crashing to the ground, or when one comes in crying because his brother hit him. I have given in on more violence in video games than I ever said I would. I’ve not been as patient as I should have been. I’ve let them sleep in their clothes and go to school in those same jeans, because we all woke up late. And we forgive each other, and try again.

I wish I’d known that having boys would be amazing, and now that I do, let the adventure continue.

 

 

Stop Unfriending People Over Politics

tjpoliticsquote

So. There’s some sort of political stuff going on right? My guess is, if you haven’t been sequestered or living under the proverbial rock (where are these rocks people live under anyway…) then you have heard plenty about politics. There are inflammatory statements being made over every media outlet social and otherwise, on both sides, and people are getting really upset about it.

I don’t want to write about politics, which may seem strange from the title of this article, I want to talk about the changing nature of friendships. I currently have 517 friends on Facebook, (my husband has 2,606 as he is quite the social butterfly). While scrolling through my list I smile at the names that spark childhood memories of skipping rocks, grass-stained knees, and singing into hairbrushes. I see high school classmates who, for a time, were woven into the fabric of my life in such a way that to tear us apart would have been unthinkable. I see former church members who rocked my babies, and whose babies I rocked. I love seeing those same babies win state championships, sing solos, and make their parents proud.

However not all of these people are what people may consider real friends beyond Facebook, nor am I a friend to them outside of cyberspace. Time and distance have created their inevitable rift and we grew in different directions, as happens when time and distance combine. But much of this speaks to our actual understanding of what a friend actually is.

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When there are no words…

I pride myself on my use of words. Much of the time this pride is probably undeserved, or at the very least blown way out of proportion to my actual abilities. But overall I love words. I love the power they have to enthrall, woo, convince, enlighten, and entertain us. A good book and a warm mug of coffee are possibly the greatest paring for me on earth, and if I’m not in the mood to read a movie or television show with witty banter is a great second.

As a part of my seminary studies we discuss our strengths frequently, and one of my top strengths is communication. I agonize over word choice in emails, ensuring I don’t unintentionally offend the recipient. I sit with students and try to mediate arguments caused by the careless use of words thrown out in anger. Words have an amazing amount of power, but sometimes, there are no words.

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