Friday, October 31, 2003

Mike Yaconelli died yesterday morning. I can't believe it. Here's the newspaper article about it.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

i feel so lazy and sleepy. like the best thing to do right now would be to take a pile of quilts and crawl under them on the loveseat on the porch and just snooze. too many things to do around here has that effect on me.

this morning i drove through rock creek park to see a client for a postpartum visit. such clear cobalt blue skies against all the colors of fall...golds, pumpkin orange and red. i love fall. my artist friend and kindred spirit rachelle is making a book right now of blues and orange. can you stand it, roo? all this beauty on such a tiny planet?

on the way home, i stopped at politics and prose to wander, hoping some book would jump off the shelves and say "i am the one", but no such luck. i ended up with dave eggers second book you shall know our velocity which i somehow never got to read, a copy of ani difranco's latest cd evolve and a little pocket sketchbook for all my little people i like to draw. i should draw one for you.


now my brain is swimming with so many thoughts, so many questions about what i do not know. maybe that's why i'm so tired. i've been all over the web, thinking about postmodern leadership and blogs and maternal feminist theology. really having no idea whose dinner party i'm crashing. who belongs with who? should i definitely not speak to this person? do i have a friend here i just haven't met yet? or should i not have come?

right now, most of the time, i'm just talking out of my ass and wondering if i'm making sense at all. i feel things so strongly and have such a strong sense about this or that, but who knows really exactly how it matters or for what purpose. can you tell...i'm feeling a little blah.


i feel like i should go get a tatoo or something, to signify this huge shift happening in my life, this revelation of calling, but then i worry that my latent ocd will kick in and i'll be hysterical trying to wash it off from now til eternity. i think about piercing this way, too, as a way of celebrating the depth of experience i'm having, to remind me of all the ways i'm being transformed. but then i imagine the actual experience of having it done, the pain and all that paying attention to the wound i'd invariably have to do when it was over and i think...hmmm...not so much.

maybe i'll just cut my hair.

i don't know. i think i'm just crashing from all the enthusiasm. maybe i shouldn't have eaten all the halloween candy. maybe that's it. maybe it's a sugar crash.

carter is sleeping now on the futon
warm sunlight pours in the bedroom window
and his skin looks golden like a god's
no one speaks
just the sound of my fingers on these keys
tapping out my sos
my message in a bottle
down the dsl line

i haven't forgotten god
that you are the air i breathe
that your holy presence is living in me
i'm just a little tired from it all

and so i'll rest
beside my golden child
in the sunlight
in the hope
that all will be well
with my soul


quote of the day

you can not eat money, and if you could it would make you sick.

alice walker
from her new book
a poem traveled down my arm

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


quote of the day

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.

Zora Neale Hurston
Dust Tracks of a Road, 1942


have you heard said the bird?

of the last embassy? my blogging bud dj just posted a great link to this chick's site, so i've been wandering around the embassy, ignoring all the "contemplating" that is beckoning to me in this house. i just love people like this. can we have lunch?

spiritual doula

i've been in the realm of the real lately, blessed by conversations true from the heart seemingly everywhere i go. nothing makes me happier. i ran into my friend kathleen at the farmer's market (one of the most god-infused places on the planet). we haven't seen each other for forever, and she let me put my hands on her growing belly and delight in what a miracle lives there. i told her about ray's wedding and how amazing it felt to be included in that moment and how i just wish i could do this kind of thing everyday for my whole life.

"jen, this is so cool. you've got the birth thing goin' on, now weddings. and this whole spiritual thing, too. jen, you're like a spiritual doula!"

spiritual doula. what could be cooler than that?

when you are present with people in childbirth, you get to witness a lot of raw humanity.
the deepest joys
the most intense fear
the most alive you'll ever feel
and the most near death

birth reminds you that you cannot live without love
and at the same time you are utterly alone in this work of creation
no one can do it but you

birth can convince you that God does live
and that you need that divine presence to make it through

babies come into the world in fits and starts
most of the time, especially in the beginning, you wonder if anything is really happening.
am i imagining this? is this it?
but then birth takes over and you just have to hang on for the ride.

to be a doula is to stand beside
to bear witness to your courage unveiled
to believe that your utter weakness will give way to beauty and strength
to tell you the truth when you despair
to call you out to your life's finest work
to say out loud that God is present
that he will never leave you or forsake you
and that you are completely safe in his care

i want to be a spiritual doula.
i want to be blessed enough to be there
when new life is born of the spirit
when the soul knows there's no turning back
and all will be made amazing and new.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


the tribulation is not over

we found sid. thanks for all your prayers and well wishes. sid seems depressed, but handling her recapture as well as can be expected.

"no one's called to vacuuming"

i have to take a moment here to talk about calling.
for the longest time, probably because of the circles i grew up in, i thought that the ultimate call for a woman was to be a wife and mother. there's a lot of airtime for this notion in conservative circles and i don't doubt that for some women it might be true. but mothering only lasts a season and housewifery even for the crafty-est among us gets boring after awhile. could the reason we are on god's green earth simply be to keep things tidy, stay caught up with the laundry and facilitate the development and growth of our significant others at the ever growing expense of ourselves?

i think not.

being a mother is truly a divine calling with rich potential for personal growth and service to the world, but in the same right, so is being a father, correct? do kids need mothers more than fathers? i don't think so.

i think each life is meant for something deep, something transformative, something creative, something good. cleaning is great for contemplation, but contemplation is not an end in and of itself. our reflection must lead to action, to growth, to change. and call must transcend the limitations of societal or church sanctioned roles. we need a lot more space than those narrow definitions provide.

what will it take to bring true change to the church? when are our marriages going to reflect the liberation that the kingdom brings? when will it be the norm for christ followers male and female alike to share in the nurture of children and to share the power and time necessary to fulfill the call put on each one of our lives? what does it mean to share power in a way that inspires the world to set aside competition and embrace cooperation, not only in our workplace, but in our homes?

i wonder about these things, and i feel sad that my people and keepers of my tradition of faith, still struggle so desperately and feel so threatened by the idea of men and women being true partners in the call of the kingdom. everything is so sexually charged that we don't know how to be brothers and sisters anymore. we don't know how to grant one another access--free and clear--to the realms assigned to us by the church of long ago. the realm of nurture, the realm of change-making, the realm of caregiving, the realm of power. in this new day, we have to share our whole lives, somehow, and be the people who trust one another as true partners. and not that bizarre form of partnership where one of us keeps the homefires burning while the other lights up the world. this must cease. we need a new way. to keep women out of the loop is to reveal to the world we are still in the dark about how life really works, about how people grow and change.

it seems just ridiculous on one level to be writing this here in 2003.

but we still don't have it right, not remotely. even at emergent, the hope of church as i know it, men dominate the conversation. women don't attend the convention in any numbers representative of our population and too few women are presenting/provoking/challenging us from the national platform. we have yet to really be completely comfortable with the idea of women as co-authors of this movement. what kind of movement is it anyway if most of the people in it look like all the guys who brought us the reformation? this is not good.

but i am hopeful.
very hopeful.

can you imagine how beautiful it would be if women in the ministry of their everyday lives could be seen, truly recognized, as the shepherds they are? what if they were given the gift of time away from mundane responsibilities to write and reflect on what they do so naturally in the day in, day out of life? what if they were given the space to write and create and represent in images and form what it feels like on the inside to be a spiritual life-giver? what kind of wonder would the postmodern world find itself caught up in to witness such beauty honored, such life-force alive in art?

the gospel of Jesus Christ is for our times. it is not ancient history. and some of its purest forms are hidden now in the lives of women, devoted followers of christ. i want to see that gospel uncovered, not diminished or drowned out by the death knell of modernity. i want to see women come into their own as dreamers of god's kingdom come.

Monday, October 27, 2003


can i just say my husband rocks?

now you might be led to believe from looking at this blog and all its emerging fanciness that i'm one of those cool chicks who is not only creative but technically literate as well. not true. and i owe all my blissful ignorance to my personal computer guru dave lemen who is gently guiding me in the ways of blogger and then going on ahead of my learning curve and making my every wish his command.

dave is so great. i love you, babe!

and dj--god bless dj--when we had a blogger tragedy this weekend, he promptly sent me some code to cut and paste and voila! my sidebar reappeared like magic. i appreciate you, deej. as far as i'm concerned you're the father of blogging as i know it!

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Ray and Jules here's a picture from ray & julie's wedding. that's me looking all sandra day o'connorish. you can read excerpts from my homily (i just love that word) here.


birthday party madness, missing sid & a new kind of something

yesterday i descended into that motherhood hell of the kid birthday parties. usually, i just send dave as part of his punishment for having a fulfilling career, but yesterday the kids being celebrated happened to be children of people i actually care about so i schlepped my sorry ass to chuck e. cheese where i without shame crowned myself air hockey champion much to the chagrin of a very competitive three year old with glasses. it's evil i know, but i felt better, and i think she even felt better after a lifetime i'm sure of seemingly competent adults being completely incapable of beating her at anything. what can i say?

from there i had an hour to race home and make another stab at finding sid, our hamster, our european hamster mind you, who had taken up residence in the madeline doll house per the suggestion of her suddenly generous oppressors/owners, madeleine and carter. upon realizing that her oppressors were no where to be found, she vacated the premises immediately, convinced i'm sure that God did live and that she had not been brought into this world for endless torture in small purses, paper towel rolls and the long sleeves of madeleine's sweatshirt. i've suspected for some time that sid is convinced that she has entered the apocalypse and that when she nibbles furtively at the corners of her cage, she's really praying for the madness to end, that the earth consumed in flames of judgment would be a blessing compared to this and that a life squeezed between the closed pudgy hands of carter lemen really is a fate worse than death.

poor sid. who are these children's parents and what in God's good name ever made them think they were ready for a pet?

dave and i searched while madeleine stared at herself sobbing in the mirror, mourning the loss of sid and begging for another pet. what wondrous love is this? we gently prodded her with analogies about what it would feel like if we decided every time she wandered off (which is often) to just go get a latte and drop by the adoption agency on the way home to pick up another kid? madeleine can appreciate this line of reasoning, thankfully, and recommitted herself to faithful pet ownership.

after that drama, and still no sid, it was time for birthday party number two.

all that driving around as a mother gives you time to think, so i was glad to have the kids strapped into the safety of their carseats so i could just drive and not worry about things like hamsters and the like. heather keeps talking about another way to do church, and i'm starting to wonder if i might be tripping over it, in all this madness of mothering, attending births and doing regular life. of course, because i'm a mother, and i write this with a million interruptions, i have to stop now before pure chaos breaks loose--did i mention carter is potty-training himself?--but know that i'm thinking...and writing soon i hope...

about the sacraments
the village shaman
the sage
why it's actually an advantage to be a woman
and a spiritual mentor in the emerging culture

about blessings

about being brothers and sisters
opening doors
lending power
handing over the keys
and doing it together.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

today my vision for my life came a little further into reality.

fatou, my crazy smart phD friend who hails from paris and the ivory coast, came over so i could make sense out of the cake box directions. i love this kind of quality in a smart person. madeleine provided entertainment while we baked by doing a spontaneous dance to fatou's cd of african tunes from mali, and binta, raina & carter pulled out a huge drawer of art supplies for some creative mischief. i told fatou about the tipping point and heather's tipping point hopes for emergent. and she told me all about the tragedy of Jean Helene, a favorite french journalist who was recently murdered in the ivory coast. we mourned together over the state of the world, especially in her homeland, and wondered what change might come. coulibaly, her husband, is wild with hope for the ivory coast and working hard to bring his visions to reality.

it was part rant, part party. by the time dave came home, we were huddled in front of the computer conspiring to buy ten copies of the tipping point and start our own book group of friends each trying to change the world in their own way.

for one snapshot in time my life was just the way i hope it to be--real conversations, big ideas, holiness in the mundane, friendship across cultures...sigh. what a gift.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

aslan is on the move. grace mclaren introduced me to a pastor named heather who lives in takoma, too. heather is church-less right now, but working hard on a proposal for emergent. her vision is to see the landscape change in the church & emerging culture movement so that women would stand alongside all those middle-aged bald guys with theology degrees and be co-conspirators in the dream making for future church. she has guts and much needed clarity.

heather and i talked today for hours, finding in one another a true kindred spirit. coming from two different planets of christianity (h: sleepy mainline denomination, me: scary evangelicalism), we have a lot to learn from one another. my mind is racing with possibilities.

richard tarnas writes much better than i can about this shift in our culture...after analyzing the journey of the western mind through centuries, he concludes that western culture has offered the world all the strength and beauty of the masculine (one fine feature being autonomy and the quest for mastery for example) but at the subjugation and expense of the feminine (mystery, environment, etc). his theory is that the slow decline of the modern era is really a death of modern man and that western civilization has worked itself back to its beginnings...a place where the feminine was not 'other' but integrated in the whole. is anyone still out there??

the point for me is this: women and those who embrace the true feminine may very well be the seekers we need to follow to leave the excesses of modernity behind forever. women may be the healers of culture that we desperately need in order to keep moving into the light of what's ahead for us all.

the emerging church movement might need to more heartily embrace the feminine in order to find the passion to become the church we were meant to be.

not just as a sideline, but as a matter of survival.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

i just blew through "A Search to Belong: Rethinking Intimacy, Community, and Small Groups" by Joseph R. Myers. i hate to be an evangelist, but what a great book!

he builds on the work of Edward Hall to show how four ideas of space--public, social, personal and intimate--intersect to give people a sense of belonging in their world. to me the most provocative idea was this: the ultimate goal of community is not to get everyone to one space, but to allow people to move in and out of the four spaces at will to pursue the kind of community they need in order to belong. and...that becoming community environmentalists as opposed to community programmers might be a greater gift to the church. by environmentalist, he means the kind of person who can foster or nurture the ideal conditions for self-selecting community to happen in whatever space you are talking about.

can you imagine? the church becoming an agent of freedom and choice? laying down control of programming in such a radical non-hierarchical fashion? dear jesus, sign me up.

i think this explains some of my own trouble with belonging. stay tuned.

Monday, October 20, 2003

home from the wedding. amazing.

it may be impossible to express what transpired there, but i can say this: something beautiful and true broke open from my family's core, and we became different somehow from the act of blessing my sister. some old family rules were broken; some old roles reversed back to the correct order.

we couldn't have done it to ourselves on purpose. it just happened, like the shifting of the wind. i still feel exposed and raw from so much love, so much holy light inside my soul.

weddings can do this. so can birth. on some weird psychic level, families take some subconscious inventory and decide to shake things up a bit without even meaning to.

i couldn't feel more thankful, more broken or more loved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

today chaos hits a new level. my sister patience said it is like the day before christmas. i don't know what that means at your house, but at mine it means staying up til 3 am wrapping presents, cooking, and hoping to get it all done by morning. the stress level is high, but so is our sense of pending excitement--the best payoff ever.

in a few short days, my sister kris will marry in the garden of an old Virginia plantation with friends and loved ones in joyful attendance. from now til that peaceful, holy moment, we will race against time like crazy people to do everything in our power to make this day her best memory ever.

this is what we do, my sisters and me.

in honor of my mother, i am doing essential things like cleaning out my sock drawer and reorganizing my art supplies in order to get ready. when we were kids and in a rush to get out the door for some important occasion, we could always find my mother at the kitchen counter cleaning out her purse. don't ask me why.

i'm so overwhelmed.

somehow the 150 favors will be wrapped, the kids will get new shoes, the bags will get packed, the dress will be hemmed in time and my house will be magically clean before ray and julie show up.



Tuesday, October 14, 2003

have i mentioned my poncho?
ah, the poncho. behold a thing of beauty, a warm afghan of a garment, a statement of delight in all things autumn, breezy and divine.

i know you can barely read right now because you just hit the link to the poncho and you can't take your eyes off it, it is so glorious. i know. go ahead, gaze, dear friends. i understand.

i've been thinking about my poncho lately not only because i think about my poncho a lot, but because of brian's sermon on sunday. you'll discover shortly that most of my thinking goes back to someone's sermon/article/book or the fine theory developed by isabel myers. (please feel free to email me your letters. trust me, i will be enthralled.)

he was talking about the different things people cull to exert power over others...sexual attraction, intelligence, status as obtained through--gasp!--what you wear which he expressed to be particularly odd and unfamiliar to him. everyone laughed, but i thought to myself: it would make perfect sense if he saw my poncho.

when i first put on my poncho for dave, he stared back at me blankly, seeing only a large knitting project and none of the magic. i adjusted the angle and crossed my arms in a state of deep satisfaction. still nothing. but then he looked beyond the blanketness of it straight into my eyes and laughed in recognition. Ah, my wife, the third grader! she's back! and he nodded at my poncho with appreciation and that crinkly eyed smile of his that is my favorite.

i just love my poncho.

i know brian was making some finer point about the misuse of power, and god knows that this poncho could bring many a good soul to their knees if only from sheer envy of desiring alone, but in my case, the poncho came to me in a moment of despair, like an old friend reminding you all will be well. i was feeling rather low when i saw it, anticipating my upcoming birthday and making mental notes on my impressive lack of accomplishment. i was despairing over the state of my relationships and the caustic effects of my crabbiness. i was wandering around georgetown in circles, feeling rather alone.

but then! the poncho! i slipped it on against my better judgment.

in that poncho, i could see myself traveling the world's cities. in that poncho, i could see myself cozy on my porch writing books. in that poncho, i could see my crabbiness slip away as my children delighted in its magic, the miracle of no sleeves and all the places inside to snuggle up to me and be warmed.

normally, when i encounter this kind of redemption screaming my name, i put it back on the rack and walk away forlorn. but not that day. i bought that poncho without a second thought, and the very thought of it in the bag put a jump in my step all the way home. honestly, i could have kissed the salesgirl; i felt such joy.

for those of you dear souls still reading this ode to my poncho and for you cynics out there wondering if it still holds such transformative power over me, all i will say is this. when i wear it, i feel happy and free, and i know that the best parts of me will yet emerge and that my life's finest work is just begun. it's not a purchase--it's a symbol. and i plan to live up to all the dreams my poncho embodies, before it's too late.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

church was so good. i'm sorry for everyone out there who just came home bored to tears, wondering why they bother. not the case at crcc. brian preached a kickass sermon on 'the two towers' with gallum's fragmentation being the focal point of the talk. he talked about how a non-god kind of power dis-integrates you (think gallum doing the DID schtick) and about how much damage we wreak on our world when we say "my will be done". (think galadriel during that freak out when she considers taking the ring from frodo). i could have crawled under my seat and hoped the whole time dave was still trying to talk carter into staying in the nursery, it was so me. i'm always trying to power-out something (or someone) to try to bring my world along at my pace with my vision.

what can i say? a little silence is in order.

the redeeming part always is the body of christ. when allison handed me the bread, she said, "indulge in God's gifts to you"...a most grace-filled way of saying don't indulge your self so much, okay? that's not where the treasure is.

afterwards, i had an encouraging talk with grace about women and emergent, and she introduced me to a woman who lives in takoma who is a minister of sorts. i told her about the porch, all the magic that happens there, and my dreams of some kind of pastoring. I think she'll come over and hang out. i am desperate to talk theology with someone who can really put words on what i'm thinking, someone who can ply me with good articles and mind-stretching books. i've been wandering around in the stacks with no earthly idea how one concept connects to another. i just keep kicking off the dust and lingering when the aroma of truth leaves me high and full of otherworldly hope and delight. god dreaming is just the best ever. because who knows really what god is like...how could we ever get our minds around it...how could we ever imagine that kind of goodness and light, so present in one being, so constant, so beautiful.

sigh. i'm so glad for this fall day, for church, for the body of christ broken for me...for the chance to remember my power, my voice is no where as beautiful as his, and that when i am quieted, he can speak his beauty and peace through me.
on a cheerier note, last night laura and i sat on our porch in our pajamas with a hundred candles, drinking tea and reading poetry and old journey entries out loud. very fun.

we are getting ready to revive 'the porch' for fall and winter and the thought alone made us drunk with anticipation. two summers ago, my brother (of the heart) ray and our friend josh came for emergent at crcc and we transformed my porch from trash heap to best hangout place ever. think trading spaces.

we had a lot of good church on the porch and with ray and julie coming in just days now for my sister kris's wedding, i'm inspired to restore it to its inspired state. rachelle was the one really. she came over one cold night and picked up all the pieces of a broken pot and arranged them in her artist way with some twigs and fallen leaves, making our candles an altar of sorts. we were transfixed.

this morning we trek to cedar ridge where (at least until the porch is ready) we will receive the body of christ. in my crotchedy state, God knows i need it. jesus, do something with this old heart today. make it soft and new.
stephen shields posted on faithmaps an old article of sally morgenthaler about moving beyond postmodernism. here's a gem of a quote:

Lived and lasting change is not born of the quick and easy pastiche. It is born of deep connection, whole person sinewing – mind, spirit, emotions, bodies - to the Incarnate One Who invades our histories (yes, even the Enlightenment), disturbs our philosophies, and has eternally raised the bar for human interaction.

isn't that a nice little aside about community?

she goes on to make the point that we are quickly moving past postmodern deconstruction to construction of sorts only this time we have some perspective on our smallness (or at least we should). there are some beautiful slams on the shortcuts to coolness we see now in 'postmodern' ministry and she appeals for more dialogue across all lines, a la another article i just read about brian mclaren.

it was helpful to me to read both and to read that brian really doesn't see himself as a reformer. news to me, since i'm one of those people who grosses out on church so much, i'd hold the paper for you while nailed your ninety-one theses to the door once and for all.

but it matches up with how i'm feeling at the same time. i really don't want to argue anymore. i just want to do my version of the real thing and be able to call you up and discuss it from a different perspective if you're not exactly on my page. it's openness i long for, really. if we could all just talk about anything without fear of reprisal or disapproval...that would be the best.

can't we all just get along? ha.

the truth is i'm probably one of the main reasons we don't get along. i'm impatient, too easily wearied by familiar discussions (creationism & the inerrancy of the word being my two most tiring), too short-tempered. A crabapple to be short. i don't know why exactly. i'm a gem if i feel like things are straightforward, but layers and social convention trick me every time and i mistake politeness for you mean it. this is the gift of the internet to me...it's removed enough from irl interaction that i can turn off my people pleasing button and actually think straight. and consequently be annoyed.

(grace mclaren is somewhere in cyberspace shaking her head. personality hazards of the enfj.)

Friday, October 10, 2003

just finished talking to my sister patience on the phone. she's been reading "spiritual parenting" by mimi doe and finding inspiration. the premise is that your kids are already connected to God and your job as a parent is to preserve and encourage that connection. we've both been very interested in this topic as mothers of small children and church as we've experienced it so far is more on the page of children are spiritual blank slates at best and need some indoctrination to come out all right. honestly, it's hard to know.

we were raised in the shadow of my mother's vibrant spiritual life...an emotional rollercoaster of faith that was a sight to behold. she stayed on her knees in heartfelt petition, doubted feverishly in a sulk in her bedroom and made up fake ailments when she couldn't bear another mindless sunday morning. her journey was real, and so we took God seriously and believed that faith was dynamic and relevant because of her.

my dad smoked cigarettes and read oswald chambers and plato and andrew murray (unlikely bedfellows) and contemplated over cups and cups of coffee first in his smoky office in our pennsylvania basement and then later on the patio in the florida morning sun. his basic statement of faith was that we're all creeps and that somehow God loves us anyway, but the sooner you figure out what a jerk you are, the better off you and everyone else will be. i guess you could say he was something of a calvinist without the high of being the elect.

they weren't really big church members. joining wasn't really their gig. but they attended and served in their own odd quirky ways. they liked people and happily paraded strangers, foreigners and social misfits through our living room. much later we found out who was there because their husband beat them or because they were rebuilding their life after prison. at the time all we knew was that some people came over or called a lot. the only indication of scandal was "the look" my mother shot my father over our heads for starting to inadvertently let out some forbidden bit of intel.

now i think i've become one of those misfits of sorts myself. not that i'm beating my husband or recovering from a prison stay, but you know what i mean. i just can't bring myself to do the program. i mean really...is church open source? can you tweak it? is it community property? does someone really need to own it? and what about all the professional christians...are all those paid staff people still gatekeepers? making sure things don't get too crazy, too unorthodox, too...out of control?

i'm dreaming of something a little more fluid, interactive, unraveling, surprising. something spontaneous, mystical, contemplative...without education models or ceo corporate structure or logos. something like a co-op, and i live in takoma park, co-op capital of the east coast, so i know exactly what brand of craziness i'm suggesting here. it's just so counter-cultural, to share things, to work as a group. is it possible really? or is it always going to be some version of a hierarchy?

the funny part is that if church looked the way i want it to, i'd be the first person to really suck at it. sticking with things is hard for me, and i'm not good at the everyday faithful maintenance groups require. i'm horrible at doing anything in a regular, routinized way, but i long for that kind of continuity. i need the discipline of all that and the rewards that come from perservering with people. maybe i'm just looking for church to be the way i need it to be so that i can get better at the things i long for and value most... like community, friendship, transparency, intimacy.

i'll be digging out madeleine's room today as an act of spiritual contemplation. send me your best encouraging, housecleaning vibes and be sorry you don't have carter by your side to remind you of the really important things, like eating pretend ice cream and being dinosaurs.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

a few minutes to write before picking up madeleine at school (where she is being tortured, by the way).

tonight i will lead the open house for the doula program at holy cross hospital. another public speaking gig and so i'm thankful. this afternoon i'll bake an apple cake for refreshments for the open house after lingering at school with madeleine to play jump rope with a bunch of 1st and 2nd graders. i feel drawn to this little school community and wondering what treasures might be hidden for me here. i love to jump rope, hand clap and do all the silly songs and rhymes. third grade was a very happy age for me somehow and i think in many ways i am still stuck there in my heart.

we told keith (and crcc) no on the small group thing. oddly enough, an article i just happened upon in chicago helped validate our objections and who would you guess to be the author? brian mclaren, my pastor, and the silent presence in the kitchen during the small group meeting. he is a puzzle to me, but once again his thoughts on a page helped clarify my own, and so we forge on ahead sans small group. oh well.

my small group today will be evelyn, emily, pamela and madeleine with miss mary mack, of course, uniting us in perfect jump rope harmony. i expect to be healed and will report all progress in the journey of my soul hereafter.
a few words from my notes for ray and julie's wedding...

true marriage...becoming one...takes a long, long time.

it will take you your whole lives really to know how to flow together as a couple.
as marriage reveals to you where you are still immature and lacking in character, you will need time and space to develop more as individuals in order to stand whole. the challenge is to know when you should take that private time and when you should work things out together. it’s a messy, complicated process—growing up in marriage—and you will choose badly some days, doing the exact opposite of what you need to do. you will fail one another, you will betray one another, even though your intent is to do the opposite. there will be lonely, sad moments where you don’t know how to connect and you will feel lost.

but in these moments of sorrow you must remember this blessed secret—your lives are hidden in Christ in God.
just as his spirit lives in us, so too the whole of our existence is enveloped in his presence, his love and care.
and so when we despair or lose our way, we no longer have to think of God as somewhere far off…He is as near as our very breath. so breathe deeply, take in his presence...he is right here!
no wonder paul says that nothing can separate us from the love of God

return to this altar, again and again, come back to this kneeling place, this place where you promised to trust that something greater than yourself would overtake you and prevail in crafting a true union of beauty and grace.
don’t be afraid, God is with you.
return to this place in your hearts on this day. this amazing day when your senses are heightened and you knew in a way you could almost touch that God would never fail you and that everything would come out alright.

keep receiving the gifts of marriage...the chance to grow, to learn and be transformed by the act of loving someone with all your heart.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

we just got back from a weekend of wedding celebrations in Chicago for our best friends ray and julie.
it was just amazing.
dave was the best man, madeleine was the flower girl and i performed the ceremony.
i'm still high from it.

what an incredible gift to marry someone!
the whole weekend i felt kind of wobbly inside and fragile...vulnerable and very emotional. my whole life it seems my feelings have been hurt by the way women are excluded from leading in the church. it has been a felt rejection of sorts, a discounting of the ways God has made me. so to be asked to do this very thing, to lead the way, to commemorate the beginning of a journey...wow. i felt a lot of sadness being released and more space opening up inside me in a new way. it was major.

doing the ceremony itself felt very natural and comfortable. i spoke from my heart, and at the end i served them communion...an honor beyond words. the whole thing was amazing.

well, carter is paging me. i'll paste in some excerpts later from my notes.

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