The Welcoming Prayer

20 10 2013

My daughter gave me a copy of this prayer last week. I have found it so helpful. I’ve realized as I ponder this how often I struggle to accept reality. I have such a strong sense of how things should be. How I should feel, or act. How other’s should feel or act.  I don’t listen to the moment, the person, or God. Instead I just project what I want to be true onto others, and struggle with myself and others instead of having a gentle acceptance. Grace brings freedom: freedom to fully accept the truth in myself, other’s the world around me. I am free because it is all okay; because a perfect God whose love for me is boundless is in complete control. Image

Welcome, welcome, welcome. 

I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment because I know it is for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations and conditions.
I let go of my desire for security.
I let go of my desire for approval.
I let go of my desire for control.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person, or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and the healing action and grace within.

––– Mary Mrozowski 1925-1993

Are you anxious or stressed out? Me too!

4 10 2013

ImageI was born with the anxiety gene. No doubt about it. Recently I’ve been watching a friend go through cancer, chemo, surgery, radiation, the whole nine yards. She has amazing faith. I have more anxiety about many trivial things in comparison.  Wow, how does she do that?

Watching her and spending some time on my own familiar anxiety coping mechanisms, and in God’s word I have a new strategy for dealing. 

Step 1: Write down or say out loud all the things you are stressed out about. I recommend writing. Get them all on paper so you can really focus on them.

Step 2: Now worry about them as much as you possibly can for 5 minutes. Name the what ifs, the How Can I’s, anything that means worry to you. I almost guarantee you’ll stop before 5 minutes, but try to keep it up.

Step 3: STOP worrying. Make a boundary in your head…you’ve done that already. And say this out loud

“Where does my help come from? It comes from the Lord


Shout that part and think about it. What kind of help are we getting here?

 Step 4: Now say this

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
Your love O lord supported me. 

And take deep cleansing breaths picturing God’s love pouring in.

Then say this:

When anxiety was great within me,
 your consolation joy to my soul. (Psalm 94)

Take another deep breath and relax asking God for consolation and joy. Sit there and relax, breath, calm yourself.

Step 5: The rest of that day, when it comes at you again say, “Help, Lord!” Take a deep cleansing breath and calm yourself.

At the heart of all of this is knowing that the Maker of the Universe loves you, has everything in the palm of his hand, and the hope of his full restoration of all things is sure. SHALOM.

 As my friend with cancer has faithfully declared: since her diagnosis.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14)

I Need Thee Every Hour

29 09 2013

A young friend posted this amazing hymn today. Wow…

Hymns can be so moving. When you consider the time that they were written and the story behind them. When I sing them I often get a chill realizing how many different times in history a song has brought people into God’s presence. This one was written in 1872 as a poem by Annie Hawks:

She wrote:

One day as a young wife and mo­ther of 37 years of age, I was bu­sy with my reg­u­lar house­hold tasks. Sud­den­ly, I be­came so filled with the sense of near­ness to the Mast­er that, won­der­ing how one could live with­out Him, ei­ther in joy or pain, these words, “I Need Thee Ev­e­ry Hour,” were ush­ered in­to my mind, the thought at once tak­ing full pos­sess­ion of me.

After writ­ing the lyr­ics, Hawks gave them to her pas­tor, Ro­bert Low­ry, who add­ed the tune and re­frain.

In No­vem­ber 1872. Some years lat­er, af­ter the death of her hus­band, Hawks wrote:

I did not un­der­stand at first why this hymn had touched the great throb­bing heart of hu­man­i­ty. It was not un­til long af­ter, when the sha­dow fell over my way, the sha­dow of a great loss, that I un­der­stood some­thing of the com­fort­ing pow­er in the words which I had been per­mit­ted to give out to others in my hour of sweet se­ren­i­ty and peace.

As you listen, may you enjoy the strength and peace that Annie’s daily life in Christ inspired, as so many across history have.

Two Years of Traditions!

23 08 2013

This weekend is the 2 year anniversary of “Traditions.”I have the privilege each week of serving as a “venue pastor” to this gathering of saints. We began this venue to provide a worship space on Sundays for those in our congregation who love the hymns, creeds, and a more traditional style of worship. Over the last three years I have come to love this community and the gathering we have each week.

A_Cross__A_Candle____A_Prayer_by_redJAZZangel7021There are about 100 who meet in the gym, Not exactly a traditional space, but that doesn’t really matter. We have a cross, light a candle to invite Christ’s presence, worship in music, scripture reading, prayer, and enjoy the teaching of gifted pastors via video from the room across the hall. Some might feel it is all to stiff, old-fashioned, “low energy” which may be in comparison to the other worship spaces. But I have come to love the space, the quiet, the people, and the power of knowing these same songs, creeds, and scripture have brought people of various centuries and circumstances before our unchanging God.

As you would expect, many who chose this worship experience are mature, both in age and in their spirituality. At 57, I certainly qualify in this category as well. There is a strength in the room that comes from these folks who know suffering, comprehend God’s faithfulness, know they are not in control, and have discovered the “peace that passes understanding.” Some who stood with us a year ago are now with the Lord. Their spouses are greeted and hugged each week, and memories are spoken of their beloved. We all miss their presence and that itself is a comfort.

We have lots of “aids” for walking, sitting. I had foot surgery a while back and my knee roller fit right in! All are reminders to me each week that we are weak, but these in these faces it is evident that He is strong. Almost every hymn ends with a verse that tells the hope of our future that is sure, secure when all is made right. Those verses are sung with gusto. For that future is the next season of life for many in our community.

But not everyone is old. I love the young people and families, though few in number, big in heart. They too love to celebrate the roots of our faith. And I know they draw strength from those who have gone before, both present with us and centuries earlier. For God is faithful, the same today as yesterday, and you sense it in our celebration and our reflection.

I think the best part of Sunday’s for me is right after the benediction when we sing the doxology together and I look out at the faces. We are a community who gather to proclaim, to love, to embrace truth and practice. And we send one another in praise of the God from whom all blessings flow.

Our gathering is such a blessing to me and I think to others. Three years ago I would not have guessed that I would enjoy this so much. I love all kinds of worship. But  “Traditions” has become my place of solace from the pace and craziness of the rest of my week. And it’s people are my heroes as I watch them age with grace, continue to be faithful, and love one another, and God with all their hearts, souls and minds

Who’s problem is this?

17 08 2013

Who’s Problem is this?Image

I recently heard Colin Powell speak at a leadership conference. A story he told hit me right between the eyes. He told of a very tense time as Secretary of State when things were heating up. He went to speak with the President and they met in the White House Garden. (Now this is my recalling his story, so it may not be completely accurate, but you will get the point!)

Colin was very stressed and upset. The President said hello and began commenting on the garden. “Watch these squirrels. Aren’t they something?” Colin is wondering how in the world the President can be enjoying the garden when things were so tense. He says to the President, “President, we have a problem.” The President looks at him and says “ No, Colin, YOU have a problem. How can I help?”

A few days later in another setting things were again very serious. The President was in charge and fully engaged. “Mr. President, now YOU have a problem.”

This was a story of both boundaries and empowerment. And it sure hit home with me. I am such a problem solver by nature. And my tendency is to make every problem “my problem.” Just asking myself this simple question “Whose problem is this?” could save me a lot of duress. And other’s would probably grow more, learn more, and have more fun around me.

It’s also great to share problems. Sometimes there is an “our problem” but most of the time you actually need someone who “owns” the problem, or “our problem” can become “nobodies problem.”

As a parent of adult, married kids this is a great lesson for me. How can I be encouraging and supportive without making their problem mine? I think I would be way less annoying.

And at work, I think it’s even harder for me. It’s so hard to focus on the problems that are squarely mine, and give other’s the space and encouragement to solve their own.

And all of this makes me realize there are way too many problems out there, and if I make too many mine I will never enjoy the garden!

Back to Blogging!

16 08 2013

I just decided to start blogging again.  I am a bit reluctant but here what I told myself today:

  • I like to write, though I’m not that great, and will not spend time editing.
  • Sometimes I think I have an insight worth sharing. Certainly more so at 57 than I did at 27. Maybe I can encourage some thought and conversation.
  • There are a few people who care about me and might like to read it.
  •  I read a ton and think it might be good to exchange some reading time for writing time. All that input needs someplace to go!
  • I follow a few blogs of people I enjoy and enjoy that, so why not?
  • It is a good discipline to work things out to a point that you are willing to share them.

So here goes. No goals – maybe once in a blue moon.

If you are interested, feel free to follow; I likely won’t post many on Face Book. That draws more of a crowd than most of my musings deserve.

Tomorrow I’ll launch into something more thoughtful, than why I am blogging. Nothing like getting off to a boring start!

It’s never been about leadership? I don’t buy it.

6 01 2012

I just finished “I am a Follower” –by Leonard Sweet.

The subtitle on this book is “It’s never been about leadership.” The “leadership obsession” in the church seems to be the underlying purpose for Sweet’s new book. He states early on “ I hope to convince you to quit defining yourself as a leader, stop your aspiring after leadership and instead set your sights on being a “Jesus follower” or “fellow follower” or “first follower.”

His discussion on the “great tragedy” of the church – the focus on leadership – was a theme that ran alongside a theme of greater importance to me. That theme was what it means to be a follower of Christ, following the way, the truth and the life. I found myself loving the follower challenges, and yet being distracted by the attack on the leadership development culture that has risen in the church in the last decades. Having personally witnessed the powerful way God has used the leadership development settings in many churches, including my own, it was hard for me to swallow some of the criticism Sweet was dishing out.

Sweet’s “first follower”, in my mind is just a semantic difference to the “servant leader” that has been talked about historically in the church. To deny that Christ cares about leadership seems overstated. Leadership is a spiritual gift. Scripture tells us to “let them lead”. His disciples certainly led a movement in the book of Acts. The overseers of the early church were leaders. God certainly chose to work through leaders in Israel’s history. Moses, David, Joseph, were all leaders.

I loved what Sweet said about “first followers” and the challenges he presented.  Absolutely leaders must be modeling true followership and submit always to the Master. He does cause one to think about where the line gets crossed of chasing after leadership skill instead of Christ Himself. But that is true for anything in life. Not just leadership. Anything we pursue can become an idol, and thus take us away from the focus of Christ.

It’s true, it’s never been about leadership, but about Christ. But this book? I wouldn’t buy it.