Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Word about Grandsons

As a mother of daughters, there is something very special about grandsons for me and today I get to be with 2 of them.

This morning I went to see Jackson, age 5, play soccer. And i joined Jackson's family - a very big family - including his mom and dad and sister Alyse, his aunt Marnie and Erik, cousins Addie and Reagan, and his aunt Eileen, and his Aunt Lindsay and Unclle Erik and cousin Avery and his Grandpa and Annie, his Pawpa and Nana and me - Ogram! That's a lot of family for a little boy - but we got quite a show.

This kid can play soccer and it was so much fun to watch him. He is aggressive and pretty good with the ball and completely unafraid get into the fray. He took the ball from midfield and scored a goal! And the whole time he is engaged, smiling and having fun. It was a wonderful way to spend time this morning.

Chuck wasn't with me because his grandson Shane is down visiting from Toledo. Shane is a senior at University of Toledo and just came to spend time with his Grandpa. They played golf this morning and went to a Greek Restaurant for lunch. We all watched footbal this afternoon, had dinner and played - quiddler and rummi kub tonight. Now we are watching the end of the Auburn-S Carolina game. Shane has a personality as easy going as Chuck's and is always pleasant and fun to be with. He is patient with Chuck and appreciates his quirks (like collecting hickory nuts when he is golfing) with good humor. It is a real blessing to have a young man in our life who seems to genuinely love to come and spend time with us.

As we were playing tonight he was reminiscing about playing pounce with Mom Mom - my Mom so many years ago. So, I guess this is a time that we are making memories.
For all of us.
So, a

Thursday, September 23, 2010

God says YES

A friend in Wellstreams showed me this wonderful poem
This is MY GOD!

God Says Yes To Me
by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and God said yes
I asked if it was okay to be short
And God said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and God said honey
God calls me that sometimes
And God said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
Who knows where she picked that up
What I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

From The Palm of your Hand, 1995
Tilbury House Publishers

Monday, September 13, 2010

Re - Ignition Sunday

Sunday was my first Sunday back leading worship at Karl Road Christian Church. A Sunday that we called "Re - Ignition Sunday." Many people wore our red T shirts which saw that we are "Ignited by God, Changing our World" and it was a very packed service and I think - inspirational.

For me, it was good to be back and I got two important responses from people: we are glad you are back and I like your hair. My hair is a little different now - streaked blond and longer. I am just enough of a "girl" to want some affirmation on my appearance!

We recognized Eileen Connor - who is my daughter's sister - who did a beautiful mural in one of the rooms for her senior art project. She is a gifted and generous young woman and it was so good to have the church family absolutely show their appreciation to her. We also recognized Bertie Dell who served as interim pastor in my absence.And the church gifted me with a beautiful stole in recognition of 25 years of ordained ministry. All of that was wonderful.

However, Bertie ceremonially tapped me on the shoulder as a way of saying that she no longer was pastoring - and that I was back and she said, "Now you're in charge."
Little did she know that "Margot in charge" is the title that i have given to some of my most negative dreams. The notion of Margot being in charge is what really messes me up - internally. That is what leads to my compulsive workaholism - thinking that I am in charge.

I write this and pray that as I am coming back again and want to pastor in the most healthy and grace filled way. And for me, I can't think of myself as "in charge" any more. I have to remember always that this is God's church and that while I may be a pastor, preacher and leader - I am not "in charge." It is not all up to me.

Anyway, I am happy today to have a day off to ponder everything and to rest and remember how Good God is to me. Everyday.

Monday, September 6, 2010

This is pretty cool

I just noticed that i have a new follower - Jesus Christ.
How about that?
I thought I was following him and now it looks like he is following me.
Who knew? Pretty cool!

Sabbatical Reflections

This time away from pastoral responsibilities is almost over and I look back in gratitude and awe at my life during these last 3 months.

As I began the sabbatical I had a lot of conflicting emotions. I was always grateful for the time that I was given but also felt somewhat guilty. Wouldn’t everyone like to receive a summer like this.
And there was also anxiety about the church in my absence.

As I prepared for the sabbatical I named three aspects to it: renewal, remembering and preparation. And it really has been exactly that and looking back I am awed as seeing the hand of God at work during this time.

The renewal has come gradually. But a key element for it was a silent retreat – 6 days away from my daily life and devoted entirely to God. And in that time I was able to mourn the loss of my sister, to face my need for control and to receive God’s unconditional love. I heard God’s voice and it was as clear as day saying these words: “Let me Love You.”

The remembering was, I believe, inspired and guided by God. It began in May with a weekend with my girls as I remembered my life from mid twenties to mid fifties. But this summer I went backwards to the places of the early years of my first marriage, my college days and my childhood. What I have seen in this was the blessing and the call of God throughout my life. I could also see how I have grown through my struggles and through mistakes. God’s grace is abundant and God has led me to become this woman that I am in this time and place.

The preparation has been gradual as I have remembered the power of the call to ministry. Several things stand out for me.
• I went to a workshop on shame and hope at Chautauqua and learned again about the power of love and started to become excited about returning to that unique role of being a pastor – which is essentially loving a congregation.
• I went to First Community Church and heard Dick Wing preach and recognized how meaningful and important good preaching is. Sundays are relentless for the preacher as it comes around every week – but it is such a creative process. I feel ready to go back into the pulpit this weekend. .
• I read books – most especially A Failure of Nerve and want to become more mature in my leadership. To quote Edwin Friedman:
“What is essential are stamina, resolve, remaining connected, the capacity for self regulation of reactivity, and having horizons beyond what one can actually see.” YES!
And interestingly we become self differentiated as we are able to face our own story and our own dynamics from our family of origin. Tied right in to my times of remembering!

Through the summer I have also had opportunities of ministry with various people: People we have visited, people who have crossed paths with me, the 2 folks I direct every month and the community at Advance Conference. That has been a blessing for me – to look back and see that this has not all been about me – but God has used me to companion others even though I am not officially in role as pastor.

Maybe the most important part of what has happened is that I have had a sense of moving from my usual compulsive life to a more contemplative way. It has been really lovely to have time – to not have to hurry from this to that because of the next meeting or appointment. The time has changed something inside of me, I think. I hope.
Yesterday I had a vision which I am still processing that speaks to this. I am reading a book, Bio Spirituality, for the wellstreams class which starts tomorrow and practiced “focusing.”
In a time of deep prayer I asked myself what was preventing me from happiness right now. And as ideas came up, the most pressing one was fear of the future – the fear of “going back into it” the way I came out of it. And then an image came – of being in a clothes dryer – just tumbling around. What a disturbing image that is.

After a while I pondered the other way that clothes are dried – on the clothes line. A piece at a time, drying in the sun and the breeze, slowly. And that is what I desire for my life. That is what God desires for my life. That I can slow down and still have the same result – but with care, contemplation, and trust in God.

It has been a good summer and I feel ready and excited about whatever God has for me to do this fall.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week 12

It is the last week of my sabbatical and God continues to bless me in so many ways.

First of all, a great blessing in the last few days has been time spent with my granddaughters - Reagan, Addie and Alyse. They are growing up to fast - 2 2nd graders and one first grader. And wonderful, interesting girls. Love hearing about school and teachers and riding the bus and all their adventures. It is pure joy.

Second, I have started seeing some folks from church to prepare for my re-entry and it is obvious that all has gone very well in my absence and people have had some remarkable experiences this summer that has led to their spiritual growth. I feel blessed to learn about that and I look forward to what is coming.

Third - my reading has been prolific and satisfying. I did finish the third book of the trilogy - "The Girl who kicked the hornets nest." Loved all 1800 pages of the three books. As I am in a mode to be looking ahead to the life of Karl Road Christian Church in the future I have found 2 books that have been really helpful:
"A Failure of Nerve" by Edwin H Friedman and "Pursuing the full Kingdom Potential" by George Bullard. And I got my books for this term at Wellstreams and have started reading"Bio Spirituality" (by Peter A Campbell and Edwin M. McMahon and it is really engaging and helping me to keep going deeper with God.

Finally, I am attending to my health concerns with a visit with my doctor and new medications, a colonoscopy on Friday and then the 2nd eye surgery next week.\

I am filled with a sense of gratitude for this time and want to enjoy every moment.
I am writing this quickly as Chuck and I are going out on a date - to the movies this afternoon - to see George Clooney ( I heart George!) and a last lunch before serious fasting for the procedure on Friday.

God is good - all the time. But especially you know it on a sabbatical!