Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

Today I turn 40 years old and I give God thanks for these 40 years of life. I know that some people cringe each year they get older and some just stop ageing at a certain point but I give thanks. I do because I know those who die well before their time.

In high school I lost 2 friends to drunk drivers. Not long after graduating high school in 1991 I lost another classmate to murder. Since 1991 more classmates have died either to illness, crime or accidents and they do not get lost on me. The year I worked in a hospital I will not forget the 39 year old woman who lost her battle to cancer. I also will not forget the 21 year old and the 26 year old who also lost their battle to cancer or the 9 year old girl who died from a car accident. I know that each year I am blessed with is a gift. Each year, month, week, day, hour and each minute is a gift from God.

As I turn 40 today I pray that I have used my life to show love, mercy and grace to others as God has shown to me. And in gratitude to the life God has given me I will commit myself again to proclaiming Christ's death and resurrection to all I encounter.

Thank you Lord for 40 years. May you bless me with 40 more. Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I am a Human Being

On May 15, 2011 I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry by Heritage Baptist Church of Wake Forest, NC. It is a day I will not forget. It is one thing to know and feel the call of God on your life but it is another thing when a church affirms that call; meaning they see the call of God on you that you have felt for so long.

After a year and a half I think back to that day often but I have come to experience some pitfalls of having "Reverend" in front of your name. I have learned that people, whether they are of a faith group are not like to put you in a box or assume certain things about you. All I know is that on October 23, 1972 I was born into this world as a human being. Being born human God saw fit to make me a girl.  Without the fact that I am a human being I could not then be a woman, a christian or a minister. I want to take this time to share a little about myself so that you can see the humanity and uniqueness of a person who just happens to be a minister.

In spite of being an introvert I do enjoy the occasional social outing. Outings where I meet new people, converse with those I already know and enjoy a nice meal with a glass of wine. Now that I am a minister I still like to go out to various social events to meet you new people. What I don't care for is someone wanting to engage in a theological debate on the whether God is real and if God hates us or loves us and what do I make of Jesus Christ, I like to keep my social like somewhat free from inendation of my occupation. But what I do not appreciate is when I get a look or even hear, "you are drinking wine?" I am a minister, but I am most likely not going to fit into everybody's idea of a minister. Just as each person is an individual and has a personality true to only them, ministers are the same way. We are not all the same.

As a minister who works outside the church I view church very different than I did when I was a lay person who volunteered my time @ the church. No longer do I want to immerse myself into every church program. Since my ministry is my occupation church is a place for me to worship my God with other fellow Christians and a place that is my get-away from my ministry. I say getaway because Jesus gave us an example of "Self-care" by going away between his gatherings with the disciples, miracles performed and preaching opportunities.

As a child of the 80's/90's I love Rock and Roll and ordination has not changed that. Just this summer I enjoyed a Kiss and Motley Crew concert with my best friend. Listening to some good 80's rock allows me to escape to a world where I can just get lost in the music.

Also as a child of the 80's and 90's I am a fan of all things Vampires. When your formative years include movies like, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Interview with a Vampire and the Lost boys, I have naturally formed a guilty pleasure of watching The Vampire Diaries.

During my time in high school I attended a modeling school. You know, even I had that dream of becoming a beautiful and famous model. So to indulge in that never forgotten dream I live vicariously through those who do by watching the reality shows, America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. (I know, it is a little vain, but I just love those shows)

But probably the one thing that will come as the biggest or unexpected surprise is my current distrust and cynicism towards the church. The best way to describe it is by borrowing the title of a blog I recently read, "I am not in love with the church". Go read it before continuing on.


I have gone through the pain of a divided church, seen a pastor forced out and left that church disillusioned and wondering where God was in the midst of all of it. I have served in the church and felt the judgment and criticism when what I did was not "good enough" for some church members. As a result of both of these events in my life I walked away from church ministry. Really, I told God that I would go anywhere and serve except a church. People say you should not tell God what you won't do but I did and still feel the same way about it.

I was 38 last May when I was ordained and who I was that day and today has been shaped by numerous life experiences, good and bad and becoming a minister does not change who I was prior to May 15, 2011. My ordination is but one event among thousands of events that have occurred in my life and that shape who I am. That one event in no way negates what happened before and I would not want it any other way. Just as I like who I am now I liked who I was on May 14, 2011 and really don't want to change everything about me. God looked past my gender, my faith and called me to Christian ministry because of who I am, whose I am and what I can offer as a result of my life experiences. So why do I write all of this to you:

At this point in my life, following my ordination, all I want and would give anything for is for people to look past my gender, my faith and my occupation and see me. See a human being created by God and in the image of God. I imagine that every person reading this post wants the same thing too. 

So in the spirit of loving our neighbor let us meet people where they are and how they are with out any agenda to change them or label them to fit some box we have created, but only to get to know the person that has been created by God and in the image of God.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

For the Love of Dogs

October 4 is marked as the Feast of St Francis. On this day or the Sunday following it, Catholic and Anglican Churches around the world have a service where animals are blessed. The Feast of Saint Francis is in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi (Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone) Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals and the earth. You may also know him by the following prayer that has been put to music:

The Prayer of Saint Francis


 So, in honor of Saint Francis, I took my dog Sophie to a Feast of Saint Francis in Roanoke, VA on Sunday, October 7, 2012 and she was blessed by an Episcopal Priest.

 So why bless animals? Why not bless animals? In both accounts of the creation story, Genesis 1 and 2, we read how all the animals came into being. The animals of the sea, earth and air all came from the earth, or dirt we might call it. Something else was created from dirt as well. Adam; mankind, was created from dirt and that life was formed from the breath of God. We as humans are connected to every animal and creature by where we came from, the dirt(earth) Throughout scripture we read story after story of how God blessed his people. If God's people, us, came from the earth and are blessed then why would all the other creatures that came from the earth not be in need of blessing or be deserving of blessing? In the 2nd story of creation God gives Adam, mankind, dominion over all the creatures. As we have dominion over all the creatures of this earth I think it would be of great importance for us to follow God's example. That example would be one of blessing. In response to the blessings God bestows upon us let us in return bless all creatures that we have dominion over. Not just for the love of dogs but for the love of all of creation.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

in the meantime...

While I ponder, wrestle and thoughtfully craft what is on my heart I give you this post from Suzanna Paul.

I am one who will not write to all my thoughts are clear and so I don't betray the word of God that has been laid upon my heart. So in the meantime, enjoy this post. May it inspire you, as it has inspired me to seek out the ordinary.