2007 Reflection oh… and Dec 2006

I was thinking of writing a reflection on 2007 when I received an email this morning titled “One Year Later” a comment on my “Meeting With Mark Driscoll” post.
I clicked on the link and was taken here
I read through the posts and the comments and felt sick. I will leave it at that.

Highlights from 2007

2007 is a bit of a blur to me. Between family, friends, church, Turning Point and grad school, I need to look at my calendar to remember.

Unfortunately I began the year with a bit of a health scare. I had a cycle of migraine headaches that ended up lasting from late December to almost the end of January. Upon having my eyes examined as one of the numerous tests and doctors I saw they discovered something that could be either nerve damage or some kind of growth in my brain. I ended up having brain scans and all kinds of tests. It ended up being nerve damage to the nerves that connect from behind my eyes to the optic nerve. It is not a serious condition and can be corrected with eye glasses. I fought migraines almost the entire year. In September Rich (he makes coffee for us every morning, started using decaf, didn’t tell me until 3 days into it) and I stopped using all caffeine and I have not had a migraine since!

Bakke Graduate University
I continued grad school. I always seem to be behind but I love it! One highlight was teaching a session for the incoming doctoral students in January and June. This is a dream for someday… to teach part time in seminary as an on the ground practitioner. I continue to be amazed at how Bakke’s unique seminary, connecting practitioners with academics is the kind of seminary Brian McLaren wrote about in his book “New Kind of Christian”. I remember reading that section several years ago (before seminary was even an option for me) and thinking, that’s a seminary I would love to attend.

February – March
I spent two weeks in India for a course for Bakke Graduate University. You can read highlights here. I loved India, the people, the colors, the smells…

Our community journeyed through the Lenten season together using Henri Nouwen’s “Show me the Way” reflection. We met every Wednesday evening for soup, bread and sharing our journey.

I attended the Feast of Saint Patrick. What an amazing group of people. The Roman Catholic part of me envies having a beautiful building, St E’s, the intentional living in both the Convent and the Brown House. I hope I spend time in the future with these fellow travelers.

Along with Off The Map we hosted the Missional Matrix event. Scot and Kris McKnight were with us as well as Todd Hunter. We have known Todd for several years and it is always good to be with him. I have read Jesus Creed for a long time and so meeting Scot and Kris was an honor. We had a blast.

April – May
April – Easter! I love Easter. I love the Lenten season leading up to Holy Week, Palm Sunday and then BAM! Easter – Love Wins!

In May we had our annual women’s retreat. This is one of the highlights of my year. Women in our faith community go on retreat held in a beautiful setting overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains on Whidbey Island. This is one of the most bonding times we have together as women in community. We laugh together, cry together, pray together, sing together, cook together, eat together…it is a rich time of relationship with God and one another.

The majority of summer was spent working, leading VCC, leading TP and course work for school. We spent a 5 days with my sister and her husband at their house on Orcas Island. We live in one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

I began meeting with a Peer Direction group as another practice to try to keep myself growing and grounded in God during this very intense season of life. Five of us meet monthly. I love this group! We are four generations of women (I am in the middle). It’s amazing because almost monthly I think, “I am too busy for another meeting” and then we meet and I realize, “I am too busy to not have this meeting”. The depth of listening to God for one another and the direction that comes is one of the best gifts I received in 2007.

September – October

By the time Alex went back to school the first week of September I realized I was exhausted. The first week of school was in and I decided I needed to practice rest even if it was for only 24 hours. I decided that on Friday’s I was not going to be responsible for anything and only do things I wanted to do. I would putter around the house, and cook a beautiful fall dinner, usually roast chicken with root vegetables. I didn’t do it intentionally but it ended up turning into modified Shabbat meal. We would usually invite friends over and it ended up being a wonderful time. No agenda, no church business, just good friends, good food and good wine.

In September I agreed to be the Area Pastoral Care Leader in our area of churches. This is an honor because I don’t think there has ever been a stand alone woman in the Association of Vineyard Churches USA to ever break out beyond local church leadership. Diana Butler Bass said to me, “so you’re a bishop”…

By mid-October Friday nights were taken up beginning with a trip to Texas. I went with a small group of women to meet with the National Director, Bert Waggoner and his wife Evelyn to discuss how to empower women in the Vineyard on every level of leadership. I met some wonderful women that I know will be life long friends.

Arriving home from Texas the following weekend we had our second annual Turning Point Dinner and Auction. You can read about it here.

November – December

I began November attending the Off The Map Live Event. As I stated in an earlier blog, I think it was the best event to date. Brian McLaren spoke in our church that Sunday a.m. our recording computer crashed so unfortunately it was not recorded.

Rich and I went on a 5 day cruise to Mexico with the NW Regional Leadership of Vineyard. We had a great time! We had never been on a cruise and frankly never that interested. It was a great gift. Lots of rest and good, good times, oh and a bit of work actually got accomplished!

Ray Bakke was with us the first Sunday of Advent. You can listen to his message here. I am a very, very fortunate woman. My life is never boring. Sometimes I wonder how this has all happened. In the past two years so much has converged at once, wonderful wonderful life dreams and deep personal pain. The paradox of holding joy and sorrow never escapes me for long.

Advent and Christmas were wonderful. I think every year I readjust my expectations of Christmas. Even though I love Christmas, the past few years Christmas was not the same. I can’t explain it. This year I used Maggi Dawn’s “Beginnings and Endings” as well as some other Advent reflections and I realized – I love Advent, and leading up to Christmas it made Christmas somehow more meaningful, less about the hustle and bustle of shopping and the rest of the busyness of the season.

Though it’s all a bit of a blur – I am thankful, for my family, for my friends, and for the awesome community called VCC. The opportunities and the challenges of life, the joy and the sorrow, the mistakes and the successes…I consider them all gifts from God.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Happy New Year


This year we did not have a Christmas Eve Candlelight service. We decided to take a year off and instead Rich and I hosted a Christmas Eve open house. We were surprised with the number of people that came through. It was great. I made a gigantic pot of clam chowder and everyone brought something to share. Kids were playing and a few of the younger ones were so adorable, they were all dressed up and after a while kept telling their parents, “we really should go, Santa is coming” so cute…

I had some great conversations over red wine. I did not realize how many people in our community do not have any family in Seattle. There was a lot of laughing. In some ways I enjoyed our gathering as much as I do the traditional candlelight service. My daughter Nicole and stepson, Aaron (our only adult single children) were with us and spent the night. We opened gifts in the morning, Alex (our almost 10 year old) had a pretty fun Christmas. He got a Risk game. Rich and I, Nicole, Aaron and Alex played a game of Risk a game we used to play a lot when my first two children were growing up. We got down to Alex, Nicole and I when we had to stop so we could go over to Seth and Laurie’s (my stepson and daughter-in-law) where we met up with most the kids and all grandchildren. Our eleven grandchildren range from the oldest, 16 year old Chrystal to the youngest, 9 month old Tate. We had brunch (waffles, crepes, strawberries, whipped cream, bacon and sausage) and then all the kids opened their presents…so adorable. We hung out and played games, all the guys and Angela went out in the snow and played touch football and later we got some great family photos. I have a group of photos of Alex with my biological children, Michael and Nicole but I didn’t have any of Alex with his siblings from the Swetman side. Yesterday they were all together (something that does not happen often) so we got some great shots of all the kids…then with spouses, then with the grandchildren. We had a great time.

Rich, Alex and I got home around 6:00, I made linguine with clams while Rich and Alex played another one of the new games. After dinner Alex was so tired, (he and Nicole stayed up until 2:00 a.m.) so he went upstairs to watch a Rocky movie while Rich and I watched The Kingdom…good movie, the last few lines of the movie say it all, I actually found myself praying…

Rich and I went to bed and both said, this was one of the best Christmas seasons. it was a great combination of being with our faith community and some of our kids on Christmas Eve and then being with all the kids on Christmas day.

Today, Alex is working on getting his electronics to work. I need to get a great deal of over due writing done for school.

From today’s prayers “Sacred Space”:

    How do I find myself today?
    Where am I with God? With others?
    Do I have something to be grateful for?
    Then I give thanks.
    Is there something I am sorry for?
    Then I ask forgiveness.

Festival of Lights

Last night Turning Point, (a non-profit organization founded by VCC) Vineyard Community Church partnered with the Center for Human Services and the families that live at Ballinger Homes partnered together for the residents annual “Festival of Lights” party. Ballinger Homes is a low-income apartment community owned and operated by the King County Housing Authority. The Center for Human Services runs the “Family Support Center” in conjunction with many community partners.
Ballinger Homes is home to 110 families, the majority of whom are immigrants from all over the world. Turning Point and Vineyard provided gifts (gender and age appropriate) and food and volunteers for the event. We have served this community for four years. We love these families! Before the kids went to the gift station they first filled out a paper with their name, age and

“Wish Upon a Star”, we asked them for a life wish, not for things. Here are some quotes:

  • “to stop world hunger and let people get along with each other more and I wish to have a digital camera” Female age 13
  • “I want to be a doctor. I wish the war would end” Female age 15
  • “I want to become a doctor and hope to get a job in the UN to work in poor countries” Female age 17
  • “I wish to go back to camp (YMCA summer camp) and to bring all my friends with me” Female age 14
  • “I wish to be a teacher. I wish for my parents to have a nice life in the future for all the nice things they have done for me” Male age 13
  • “I want to be Cinderella” Female age 5
  • “my wish is for my sister to come to America to be with our family” Female age 14
  • “I wish for the homeless and the sick to have a place to live and a healthy life” Male age 15.5
  • “I wish for better grades at school and be better at basketball” Male age 16
  • “to be a football star” Male age 13
  • “to be able to help people in need through medicine. I always wanted to help others because others have helped me in the past” Male age 18
  • “I want to be an artist” Male age 12
  • “In my life I want to be a kids’ doctor because I like kids” Male age 17

As you can see, I don’t have the formatting for WordPress down and I have spent way too long trying to format…I also tried to upload some pictures can’t figure it out.

The night was great. The generosity of time, presence, gifts and more is what VCC and TP do best!

I think I have landed on the title for my dissertation…The Practicing Church…this will reflect the journey we have been on. A few of the areas I will concentrate on:

What are the practices of a church organized around the mission of God in areas of:
1. Spiritual formation
2. Mission
3. Leadership

Eleven Years Ago

Eleven years ago today Rich and I were married. Our wedding was beautiful. Our marriage started intense and that has been the personality of our marriage the entire eleven years. When I think back over the years I can’t think of a time I was ever bored in our relationship, good, good times, very hard times but never boring! Tonight we are going to dinner and then to see the musical, Jersey Boys in Seattle. Happy Anniversary Rich.

Silent Retreat & Advent

I’ve just returned from a two day silent retreat. I find so much peace in silence and solitude and I am an extreme extrovert! Part of constructing a life during a very, very busy and full season is finding ways to connect with myself and God for some extended time. After the first three hours of silence words flooded onto my notebook (I forgot my journal…another sign of why I needed solitude). It was cathartic. I went to Whidbey Island and stayed at the same house we go away to for our annual women’s retreat. There is a sweeping view of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountain range. It was a rich time. Listening to my soul’s need for rest and hearing the voice of the Spirit whispering to my heart. I returned home this afternoon to snow. Beautiful!

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. Rich and I and some others decorated the facility late this afternoon. Fresh evergreens for the Advent wreath, purple everywhere…I love Advent. I used to love Christmas. Now I love the daily reflection of looking for the light of Christ coming into darkness. As someone who leads a faith community, pastors’ people, I get to see the darkness in lives up close and personal. The darkness of marriages ending, of addictions that enslave, of the death of loved ones, I could go on and on. Advent reminds me that the light of Christ dispels the darkness. Christ brings hope, peace, love and joy even in the midst of the darkness. While I was on Whidbey I was watching as the sun set behind the water and the mountains, it was completely dark, but I could see a light blinking across the water…a lighthouse…that’s what Jesus is to me…the words from the prophet Isaiah came to me
“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned”
Ray Bakke is our guest tomorrow. I hope the snow doesn’t impede him or anyone else to celebrate the season.