Posts Tagged: "Church"

The Great Stripping Away (or—how I lost some of my faith)

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Thankful Notes

I will always think of this past year as the Great Stripping Away. There were things I intentionally chose to remove from my life, there were things that just happened naturally and in their season, and there were things that felt more forceful, not in my control… more like a taking rather than a giving or letting go.

This past year…

We sold our big 3,000sf home of 10 years in the neighborhood where Ashah grew up

We gave away most of our furniture

I gave away 3/4 of my clothing

My dad started having memory problems

Ashah graduated / turned 18 / has boyfriend / is heading to college – including a study abroad program

We began a complete gut-and-remodel of our little lake house while living in it… which included no heat or water during the snow storm and power outage this winter

We had to move out for some days when the staircase was gutted (leaving no access to bedrooms and the only remaining usable bathroom)

The main level of our house had no walls, no insulation, no lights, etc. for a while

I slept on a cot in the construction zone for a month or two

We had no kitchen, no way to prepare food at home other than with a microwave

We ran out of money to pay contractors and had to borrow in order to keep going

We began a remodel on our rental house so we could sell it

We sold our rental house

We decided to close our Kent campus after some significant setbacks – the youth pastor left to work at another church and took much of the band and our workforce with him; at the same time, an elder/pastor left because of a pending divorce

The church I grew up in, now a multi-site megachurch in our community, hired our youth pastor without any prior contact or conversation with me. Our youth pastor left to work at one of their campuses and took… Read More

Thankful Notes: Sunday Defication

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Thankful Notes

Today is my big work day. It started early, just me and Camper heading out for the store and Starbucks and then the church. We would be staying through the end of the evening, so I was hauling clothing and dog supplies for our 13 hour non-stop day.

Because my day was long and I am only now just sitting down, I won’t write much at all—but I will share this one story…

On Friday, our friend Julie took her nephew Jayden, whom she has raised since he was born, to the courthouse. It was adoption day. After so much time and a roller coaster of challenges, it was finally legal.

Yesterday, we went to a party celebrating Jayden’s adoption. And today at church it was Jayden’s dedication.

At our church, we will never do mass assembly-line dedications or baptisms because we want to take time to pause and celebrate individuals, share their stories, and let that moment be about them.

So today we took time with Julie and her family and little Jayden. It was tender and sweet and holy and good.

We had a little something extra planned for them—because of the special weekend with his legal adoption… there would be flowers for Julie and a big teddy bear for Jayden, to be brought up by her friend Leslie.

After the words shared and the prayer given over Jayden and Julie, we stood there on stage and smiled as Jayden pointed to his pictures on the big screens and said, “Look Mommy, Jayden!”

And then Leslie came up with the flowers and the teddy bear and she gave Julie a big hug. Before she left the stage, I asked her to take the microphone and explain why she was up there. Through tears, Leslie… Read More

Maybe We Need To Recover Our Imagination

*photo above: Scott Erickson painting during his one-man show “We Are Not Troubled Guests” at NWLife’s Together Night

 

Sometimes I wonder, have we lost our imagination?

Stewart Henderson, in his poem I Believe says,

‪Propagandists are

excellent mimics

But don’t expect them to say anything original.

I believe in doubt

I believe doubt is a process of saying

“Excuse me, I have a question.”

Propagandists hate questions

and in so doing

detest art.

I believe in art.

We are so easily tempted to mimic, copy, follow, and accept status quo as reasonable and good enough.

In the church it happens like this: we look to another church in some other part of the state or country that is considered successful because of one or more of the “B’s” – buildings, budgets, and butts-in-seats.

We esteem these other churches as having or being something that we also should have or be. We podcast them. We fly over to them and scribble notes about everything we see and hear. We meet with their leaders to get their secret recipes. And then we bring it home to our state, city, neighborhood.

This whole thing reeks of a lack of imagination to me.

What ever happened to… Read More

The Difference Between Being Motivated By Power And Being Motivated By Love

The church has never done well when it was latched onto power. The church has always done better when it was on the margins. —Dr. Joseph B. Modica

I suppose it would be a colossal understatement to say there is a lot of hierarchy in church.

With all the titles and positions, posturing and power-grabbing, manipulating and controlling, and the ever-present sense that we are not enough—we need to be given advice, we need to fall in line (and if we don’t we can expect some form of dismissal, disapproval, excommunication, shunning, etc.), it’s no wonder people say they don’t… Read More

Lent Day 2… To Be Rooted

Today is a little different—rather than sharing from one of my favorite Lent devotional books, I will be sharing what I fondly call a tweetstorm. This one is courtesy of Sarah Bessey.

*     *     *

If you would’ve told me 10 years ago I’d be a straight-up devoted church lady, I’d have laughed in your face.

I was emancipated from church – who needs church? Apparently I did and I do and I always will. Look at all the ways God will surprise us.

One of the most important and doggedly hopeful things we have done as a family is to intentionally, simply, steadily stay put with our church.

Community is not the work of magicians or salesmen or brand ambassadors or performers or instant-wish-granters.

Community is like gardening: you prepare, you plant, you tend, you wait, you weed, you wait, you feed, you harvest and…

…you cycle through seasons of rich reward and seasons of seeming emptiness, seasons of work and waiting.

Simone Weil said, “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and the least recognized need of the human soul.”

We experience on a daily basis what it means to… Read More

Thinking About That Time When I Was Enough

Recently some friends of ours showed up at church. It was a happy surprise—I wasn’t expecting to see them. They don’t exactly live in the Renton/Kent area, and I haven’t seen them in years… decades.

Who are they? Pastor Lou and Sandra—the ones who took a chance on me. My very first ministry position was at their church. I was young, inexperienced, and not yet finished with college. But they believed in me, loved me, and wanted me to be their youth pastor.

After their surprise visit at our church (where we had a few minutes to say hi, Pastor Lou gave me a “Pentecostal handshake,” and we posed together for a picture), Shari said something about them that left me reflecting for days…… Read More

Sunday Shout-Outs

Two beautifully challenging pieces to share today—the first one is new, the other is a few years old…

shannon dingle for post

I Want To Help You Understand My Lament by Shannon Dingle.

I’m hurting, friend. I’m hurting deeply. And I’m being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can.

My heart is so tender, and I’m praying with each word that they will be received in the matter in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart.

I occupy a unique space. I’m white, but four of my children aren’t.

I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I’ve been targeted online as a “race traitor” for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabiling), but I’m raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren’t or don’t. I’m a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn’t “read books by women because they aren’t any good.” (And I’m a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that’s not how I’m feeling. I have… Read More

Schools of the Heart

*pictured above: some of my favorite ladies at church hanging out and catching up with each other

Today’s word from Jean Vanier…

True unity cannot be achieved in a family or community which denies difference, and behaves as if everyone should be the same and think in the same way.

Unity is achieved when each member of the body is different and contributes a different gift, but all are united around the same goal by mutual love.

There are schools and institutions which develop our minds, but communities and families are the schools of… Read More

What My Daughter Said About The Church

My daughter recently had an assignment at school: to write a paper about her family of origin, her culture, and/or traditions that have shaped who she is. I’d like to share a small section from her paper:

Another tradition from both my mom and dad’s childhood is going to church every Sunday; this has been part of my growing up experience as well.

My mom and dad are both pastors, so I was born into this culture of praying and going to church, and it is something I am very passionate about.

I essentially grew up in the church. Some might say church is a restrictive and limiting environment, but I have discovered… Read More