I am thrilled to welcome 2017! Saying goodbye to 2016 is okay by me. 2016 for all of the heartache (literally) and loss had so many gifts. Yet, I am happy to look forward. The end of the year marks a transition point for me. I am invited to look back to see what happened and to look ahead to what might be. 2016 is done. I cannot change what happened. The new-year is coming, it’s just two days old, so much of it not yet unfolded, a mystery. I think about reflecting on what has been, and for me looking back as a journey reflecting for a moment on the detours, the rest stops, filling stations, adventure, crossing bridges, getting stuck in dead ends, etc. When I reflect on the past year this way I know it will resurrect both joyful and painful memories which give me the opportunity to take not of the state of my being, body, mind and spirit and to remind myself this a time to discern God’s presence with me in all of it.
Janet Rupp in her book, “May I have this Dance” has great questions to ask at year-end:
As you traveled on your road this past year,
Meet someone who helped you find direction? Yes, I met so many that guided me through one of the most challenging years of my life.
Find an unusual treasure on the roadway? So many! I have blogged about many of them in prior posts. I have a gigantic list of the treasures I have found on the road this past year.
Encounter any dead-ends? Oh yes. And in some ways as the “way closed” (Parker Palmer) it was hard, sometimes made no sense but in the long run such gifts.
Fall into a ditch and work your way out? Hmm – almost dying (literally days away from drowning in my own fluids and crashing twice in the hospital) falls into this category. It is now 9-months post heart failure and I have improved (to my doctor’s immense surprise and delight) 100%!!! I did not work my way out on my own. I had tons of support from my family, friends near and far, my faith community, my therapist and my larger faith community known as The Vineyard. So much care, prayers, love and support is how I came out of it.
Get lost? Why yes I did. From the time I went to Thailand in March and came home almost having died, I was in a fog. Everything changed in a moment. My life as I knew it was over. I felt lost in so many ways.
Search for your way back home? I always felt at home. I feel at home in my own skin so though I felt lost in a fog – I did not at any time feel I was not at home. Home for me is with Rich, my kids, my family, friends and faith community. Home for me is being with Jesus every moment of the day. Even in the hospital when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, I felt at home whether I lived or died. Death did not scare me. I knew in either state I would be home.
Cross over a bridge to new freedom? In so many ways! For me almost dying gave me so much freedom. It makes living all the more sacred to me. The freedom to let go, to live my life to the fullest from day to day is the greatest gift that came from this last year.
Spend time in a place of beauty and rest? My home is that place for me. Having my home to recover in has almost felt like I have been on retreat for the past 9 months. I could not be more grateful for the gift of a beautiful place to live and my family and friends that share my home. There were other places too. Trips with just Rich and I or with family and friends. So, so much goodness!
I thank God for:
Those who have helped me along way. From near and far, in thought and in deed.
The treasures I found on this past year’s journey
The dead ends when the way closed
When I fell down and was able to get back up mainly because of prayer, love and support
Moments when I felt lost, you were there for me, thank you
The grace to be at home wherever I am because you are there
Guiding me through crossing bridges to new freedoms, thank you
The places of rest and beauty, home being number one!
I am grateful to you, Father, Son and Spirit for all the ways you are with me and for the gifts you shower daily. Thank you for your mercy, for your goodness and unfailing love.
The Journey to Come
I am spending time this week naming my hopes for what’s to come. Some things I am thinking about:
What am I anticipating?
What are my hopes?
What practices will help me be open to what is being birthed in my life in this season?
How can I be open to gifts even if they come disguised in the most challenging ways?
I love this quote by Thoreau “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by and infinite expectation of the dawn.” To me the dawn is God in whatever terms you relate to God.
2016 brought many unexpected moments, challenges and gifts – I wait in hopeful anticipation the gifts 2017 will bring. It seems appropriate to end with this prayer from Walter Brueggemann
On our own, we conclude:
there is not enough to go around
we are going to run short
we should seize the day
seize our goods
seize our neighbours goods
because there is not enough to go around
and in the midst of our perceived deficit
you come giving bread in the wilderness
you come giving children at the 11th hour
you come giving homes to exiles
you come giving futures to the shut down
you come giving easter joy to the dead
you come – fleshed in Jesus.
and we watch while
the blind receive their sight
the lame walk
the lepers are cleansed
the deaf hear
the dead are raised
the poor dance and sing
and we take food we did not grow and
life we did not invent and
future that is gift and gift and gift and
families and neighbors who sustain us
when we did not deserve it.
It dawns on us – late rather than soon-
that you “give food in due season
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
By your giving, break our cycles of imagined scarcity
override our presumed deficits
quiet our anxieties of lack
transform our perceptual field to see
the abundance………mercy upon mercy
blessing upon blessing.
Sink your generosity deep into our lives
that your muchness may expose our false lack
that endlessly receiving we may endlessly give
so that the world may be made Easter new,
without greedy lack, but only wonder,
without coercive need but only love,
without destructive greed but only praise
without aggression and invasiveness….
all things Easter new…..
all around us, toward us and
all things Easter new.
Finish your creation, in wonder, love and praise. Amen.”
? Walter Brueggemann
Today Rich and I went to see my cardiologist to get the results from my 2month post-op
echocardiogram. I like my doctor so much. He had big smiles as he read the results and heard how I have been doing. He was so happy! My heart was at 10-15% when he first met me. It moved to 20% after I was in the hospital and they took 6 pounds of fluids off my chest cavity. When I left the hospital and with every follow up appointment he would tell me my heart was as good as it was going to get. Today, the echo showed my heart at 25-30%. This is YUGE!!!!!! We asked him again if he thought this would happen and he shook his head and said, “NO.”
I absolutely, without a doubt believe that the prayers of the people have carried me through and my heart is healing. Thank you thank you! Thank you for all the prayers, good wishes, good thoughts, love and support.
Last week was the Northwest Vineyard Regional Conference. I had no idea how I would do attending the conference. I definitely had to have good boundaries and rest for several hours in between meetings. My body would reboot and I was okay. I received so much prayer and love with all my NW Vineyard tribe! I loved the conference. Eric, Julia, Lance, Le Que and Robin were the best. Everyone was amazing! The host church, Portland Vineyard, the NW Leadership Team, all of the Worship Leaders and team, the amazing kid’s leads and volunteers, all the volunteers, Darlene and Nicki! Thank you to everyone at the conference. Thank you Vineyard USA for all of your support, love and encouragement!
I thank God for all the goodness in my life. I am deeply loved and cared for. “I lack nothing.” Ps 23
My stepson, Ben is battling cancer. He was diagnosed in Korea in late October. Had surgery in November. Complications after surgery. Ben, his wife, Hyemin, their son, Daniel and Hyemin’s mother, Leigh returned to America just over one week ago. Ben is battling for his life. Would you join him/us in prayer for a divine intervention? The prognosis is very grim, Ben needs a miracle. I believe in miracles, I do.
I have felt the grace of God in so many ways through so many people. Our family, friends and our faith community, Vineyard Community Church have surrounded us with love and care. I read this in a book recently, “Suffering enlarges the soul’s capacity for great joy.” This is a season of joy and sorrow taking up equal residence in my soul and in the soul of those I love.
I will pray for Ben’s healing, for God to have mercy. I will trust in the goodness of God no matter what the coming days bring. Ben is strong, he is a fighter. I’m joining with all the prayers around the world for healing for grace for mercy.
For Christians that follow the liturgical calendar it is the season of Epiphany. However, today I find myself back in a season of waiting…
Waiting to hear decisions
Waiting to make decisions
Waiting, feeling powerless
Waiting, holding onto faith by a thread
Waiting, clinging to hope for dear life
Waiting, wondering what will be…
Tomorrow is the second Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Peace. Prayers are for peace in our very unsettling world globally, locally and personally. We pray for the Prince of Peace to bring peace on earth and goodwill to all people. In my personal life having heard the news my dad’s death I have been wrestling with processing the death of a parent I was estranged from most of my life. I find peace in a beautiful song by Kevin Prosch:
Kiss the Son
When you’ve been broken, broken to pieces.
And Your heart begins to faint
’cause you don’t understand.
And when there is nothing to rake from the ashes.
And you can’t even walk
onto the fields of praise.
But I bow down and kiss the Son.
Oh, and I bow down and kiss the Son.
Let the praise of the Lord be in my mouth.
Let the praise of the Lord be in my mouth.
Well, though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
Well, though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
Though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
Though You slay me, I will trust You, Lord.
When the rock falls, falls upon you.
And you get ground to dust
no music for your pain.
You open the windows, the windows of heaven.
And then You opened me
and You crushed me like a rose.
I pray for Immanuel to come into the darkness of my own heart and bring rays of healing light…
Advent is my favorite time of the year. Stepping just a bit out of the madness that accompnies the holiday season to reflect weekly on the Story of faith and the implications of what living in the continuing Story means brings a deep peace in my soul. Today marks the first week of Advent, the season of waiting and expectation married to each other to see how God will come. How will the light of God enter the darkness of not only our world but the places of darkness in my own soul. Expectant waiting, O Come O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel…come to all the places that are held captive in our world, in the violence, in the greed, in the hate.
Today we light the candle of hope. Help us to offer the “gift of hope” as we go about our week in all our interactions.
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.
Black and white, all people of color, young and old celebrating in the streets, young people activated, John McCain giving a gracious, generative concession speech–what an historical moment we are living in. I pray we will take the hope ignited and in God’s hands make the most of this moment for our world. I bet those great cloud of witnesses are cheering:
“If this work can contribute in any way toward proving this, and at the same time arouse the conscience of the American people to a demand for justice to every citizen, and punishment by law for the lawless, I shall feel I have done my race a service.” Ida B. Wells
“I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land.” Harriet Tubman
“I have a dream” “Let Justice Roll” Martin Luther King Jr.
Could you hold 4-year old Max in prayer the next few days? He has contracted ecoli, has been in the hospital for days and is not doing well. They discovered it has gone into one of his kidneys and his liver. He is being transferred to Children’s Hospital today. Please pray for healing, strength and that he will not have kidney failure.
Max is the grandson of our good, good friends, JR and Nancy. Please keep them all in your prayers as this has been an exhausting week. Thank you.
Last week at VCC we did a reflection – looking back at 2007 and asked these questions:
- Who were the significant people in your life?
What books or Bible study instructed your mind and heart?
- How were you a gift to a person or a community?
- What was your greatest joy this year? Your greatest sorrow?
- In what areas did you grow? Were these areas related to your joy or your pain?
- Did you root your life more firmly in Scripture and in prayer? Did God seem near or far off?
Is there anything you feel God is saying to you as you look back on the year?
This morning we will reflect on looking ahead at 2008 with these questions:
- Who are the people with whom you would like to deepen your relationships in the year to come? Do you have relationships that need to be healed? Are there places in your own heart that need healing?
- Is there an aspect of your character you would like to develop, or one of the fruit of the Spirit you would like God to grow in you? (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Gal.5:22)
- Are there any other goals, in the area of mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional growth that you’d like to name before God, asking his help?
Most of the time we encourage living in the present, this real day to day, ordinary life and see all aspects as holy. Spiritual formation is happening whether I am watching Fox News, CNN or eat dinner with my family. All of life is forming me. There are a few times during the year that it is good to reflect on the past and ask what do I hope for in the future. As followers of Christ we live in three time zones, the past, the present and the future. The Kingdom has come, is here and our prayer, “Kingdom Come”