Saturday, September 27, 2014

In the Arena

Yesterday I witnessed Marnie running and finishing the 4 mile race at the Octoberfest.      This is not her first race or her longest - but she just had a baby 10 weeks ago and so it may have been her most challenging.

  I honestly thought she might not make the whole 4 miles - with it being a 2 mile loop it would be very easy to quit in the middle (I saw at least one person do that).  I also thought that she might end up walking. After all she had just had a baby!   But she did not - she kept going, kept running and finished the race.  And I was so happy for her and proud of her and she was proud of herself.

Tomorrow I will have a second book study at my home on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and I realize I am watching all three of my daughters who are putting themselves "In the Arena" of real vulnerability.  In Marnie's case, it was a conscious choice and in Kacey and Audrey's it is life circumstances.  In my last post I wrote about the strike at Reynoldsburg Schools and Kacey is in there picketing and involved in every way.
Audrey accepted a teaching job after being unable to find a job in ministry and every time I talk to her I am realizing how challenging it is to be in the classroom - especially after a break of a dozen years.  She is learning on the spot with critics all around her and she is doing it!

And I don't want to write about only my family - my life is full of examples of people who are "in there" - taking risks and trying new things.  People like Jason who with some friends started a brewery, or Kim who is entering the Wellstreams program or Gail who continually is challenged in trainings and new experiences as part of the BREAD organization. And then there are people like Lisa and Jan who had the courage to quit jobs that were toxic and seek employment elsewhere.  There are all kinds of ways that we find ourselves in the arena.

It was fun for me to be present watching Marnie but what I know is that life is really rich and full (and sometimes scary) when we are in the arena ourselves. . I celebrate my daughters and all who have the courage to take the risk of trying hard tasks.   I also stand with those whose life circumstances have put them in that difficult vulnerable place of not knowing what is coming and wondering if  you can persevere. 

Here is the quotation from Theodore Roosevelt from which the title of book comes:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the person  who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly....."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


This is now my daughter Kacey's profile  picture that she displays on facebook.  She wrote it is not a good picture but it describes how she feels - "what the hell is happening?"

I look at that picture and remember her as a little girl trying to do the right thing. And it breaks my heart - all of it.

The Reynoldsburg Teachers are on strike and today is the third day. Teachers do not go on strike casually or easily.  There is a long process of failed negotiations that have led to where they are today.  And that is - picketing outside the schools, watching children they care about and teach go into schools with inadequate teachers and security,  and not getting a paycheck or medical benefits. 

Every time I am in a prayer group I find myself asking people to pray about this situation.  97 percent of the union voted to strike but that doesn't mean that this is easy.  These teachers love kids and want to teach and walking a picket line outside the schools is something they never imagined they would do. Emotions are high as they watch some refuse to join them and others cross the picket line.  I am sure when all of this is over, there will be hard feelings and a real need for reconciliation.

And so, I write this blog just to ask for prayers here.
  •  Prayers for those people - on both sides -  who will be sitting around a table trying to come to resolution - that they might come with wisdom and compassion and care for the students. 
  •  I pray for the students who are going into the schools today and this week - that they might be safe and be able to learn something.  Kacey is a special education teacher and I can only imagine the emotional disruption for her kids as they encounter new faces in the classroom. 
  • I pray for the students who are staying home that they might be safe and able to learn something.
  • I pray for the administration that is making decisions in the present and for the future.  May they have compassion and wisdom.
  •  I pray for the teachers who are walking the picket line this week - that they might be strong and compassionate.
The hardest part to these situations is how easy it is to fall into "us" vs. "them" thinking and behavior.  Always, my hope is that we can continue to see one another as sisters and brothers - not the enemy.  And know that working for justice is hard but it does not have to be hateful.

Prayers all around.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Outdoor Worship

Yesterday morning we worshiped outside in the garden behind the church.  This picture was taken by Kim Veatch during the service.  It turns out that, like me, she was struck by the clouds moving across a very blue sky throughout the service.

I found myself thinking about change and mortality.  The day before I had attended the funeral of my seminary and clergy sister, Deb Hayden.  We had graduated from Methodist Theological School in Ohio with M Div's in 1985 and our lives would intersect periodically throughout the next 25 + years.  I remember babysitting each other's kids and conversations during regional assemblies and coming together at various times.  It is always sobering to lose your peers - especially those younger than you.

At the same time, as we sit outside it is clear that the changes of life are more than losing people.  It is also the new life that is constant and unrelenting.  In the past month I have watched Marnie give birth to her third daughter (and my 5th grandchild) and Audrey  do a career switch in going back into the classroom after over a decade away.  Change and new life.  And that is just in my family. 

The blessing of being part of a church "family" is that you can see the growth and new life in so many ways.  Yesterday our speakers at church were Dave and Anna Young who talked about faith in the workplace - Dave, in his 50's and Anna in her 20's both had wisdom to share about discipline, gratitude and prayer to get through the stresses of daily life. 

What is clear to me as I sit and watch the clouds move and form and re-form in the sky is that change is inevitable and is part of life and growth.  And it is often difficult.  So, as always, I am grateful for faith that reminds me that God is the constant in my life and our lives.

And that God brings us to change and through change and enables us to have the strength to begin and begin again.  After death, after a new job, after whatever changes have come our way.

God is good,  all the time.