one thing ALL people experience

Today is October 13th 2017.

It was 15 years ago (on the 15th) that my Grandmother passed away.

2002 was a hard year for me. I remember the pain a lot; but the fact that I am writing this means, I made it through.

I also remember the joy.

This week for my job I have presided in two funerals. As a Pastor part of my job is to preside over funerals. I have done funerals for families that I know really well and I have done funerals for families I have never met before.  I have done funerals for families who are well off and have a lot of “bells and whistles” (for lack of a better term) and I’ve done funerals where it is just basic nothing too fancy.  I have done funerals for families who have been raised in the church and are highly faithful people.  I have done funerals where the family has never stepped foot in a church. I have done funerals for people who fill the funeral home to show their love for the departed. I have done funerals where only 2 or 3 people have gathered.

There are a lot of things I have learned from this wide assortment of funeral experiences. Here are my top 3:

  1. The days leading up to a loved ones death are Holy.  They have a reverence about them. I think it is because when we know someone we love is about to die soon we stop everything we’re doing and go be with that person. We stop going to work, we stop going to school, our daily routines stop. When we’re bedside next to our loved one, or sitting in the room with family we tend to go deep within ourselves to remember that loved one and how that person loved us.  We spend time remembering. Remembering requires us to go deep within ourselves.  Deep, where those hidden things lie, deep where our secrets are safe. We think about the end of life and what comes next, heaven or not. It happens to every family, regardless of their faith. This is Holy. It’s Holy because we become vulnerable, raw, and exposed. This is the place where God resides. I say this because when I think about the times I’ve felt the closeness of God they are the times that involve some level of vulnerability. Society would like us to think that vulnerability is weak. It isn’t weak.  Vulnerability is being real with ourselves and our creator.  This time is Holy; don’t waste it worrying about what comes next, drink it in with all the strength and vigor you can.  As a clergy person I feel so very awed and humbled when I am invited to share these holy moments with families.
  2. Death is something all people experience. It doesn’t matter who you are or what walk of life you come from. Everyone experiences death.  Death is a part of living. death is a piece of this life that God has given us.  It is hard. It is messy. It can be scary. It can be easy. It is something no one can avoid. Even God himself experienced death.  If someone had the power to offer me a long life without ending I’m not sure I would take it.  I cannot imagine life without death.  I love my life and, life in general, and I will cling to it as long as I possibly can. Life without death isn’t really life. It’s like day without night. What is the light worth without the darkness? What is the point of Resurrection without death?
  3. I believe in the Resurrection; this gives me hope and so much Joy!  During all of the funerals that I have presided over I say these words found in the UM Book of Worship: “May God grant us grace, that in pain we may find comfort, in sorrow hope, and in death resurrection”.  As Christians we believe that Christ rose again– this is the celebration of Easter.  It is only natural then to believe that we will be resurrected as Christ was.  Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians that our human bodies will be resurrected and we will live forever with Christ in our Spiritual bodies.  This gives me hope, this gives us all hope.  If we spend too much time thinking about being dead and resurrected it might get a little creepy; especially if you’re like me who needs allll the details to understand something fully. So I try to think of this scripture as a way to remember when we die it’s just a piece of us dying; that we will go on living with Christ.  The scripture that really gives me comfort is John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus has overcome the world. This means that all the sadness, grief, pain, and meh that we experience in our daily lives none of it can over take us.  Nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ that is in Jesus.  Nothing!

When a loved one dies we are left with the grief process.  It is a process and even after serving the last 12 years in some form of ministry there are days, like today, when I grieve my grandma.  Grief is something that is hard to make tangible and at the same time can grab us and take hold of us so tightly that it’s hard to breath.  I find a lot of hope in this quote from on of my favorite authors:

grief glennon quote

Grief is love’s souvenir.

I have a lot of souvenirs.  I am okay with this.

The death, funeral, and grief part of my job is one that I do not shy away from.  We all have things about our jobs we do not like, this isn’t one of them.

I hope this post has helped you in some way.

I will leave you with one more thought.  Sometimes when grief grabs me I sing the song “It is well with my soul” over and over and over.  For me this is like John Wesley’s faith encounter with Peter Bohler where Peter encourages Wesley by telling him to “preaching faith until you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith”  

I sing it is well with my soul, over and over and over so I believe that it truly is well with my soul.  This usually works really well.

If you find yourself in a place where grief has grabbed you please know that you are never alone.

Peace and Love to you all

~Rev. Single Mom

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“The Way Forward” & BIRTHDAY WEEK

Hello Readers–HAPPY MONDAY!

Two things have weighed really heavy on my heart this month.  (I still cannot believe we are half way through September).

  1. My Son turns 10 (today) and I turn 35 (yikes!) on Thursday the 21st
  2. The United Methodist’s Church’s Commission on “The Way Forward”

I’m going to start with #1. I usually get SO EXCITED and busy for my son’s birthday that it leaves very little time for me to worry or even think about my birthday or age.

This year is different. Why? I do not know–maybe because we’re both hitting “milestones” in our ages.  Nate turns 10 years old today. He hits double digits! He is such a good, kind, funny, somewhat-of-a-stinker lovable kiddo.

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Nate summer 2017

As SOON as my brain stops processing that he is 10 and how grateful I am and hopeful of who he will be, my brain screams HOW ON EARTH ARE YOU OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE A 10 YEAR OLD KID?

Like for real! This adulthood/motherhood/career thing has gone by SO FAST!!! I WANT MORE TIME! Sometimes I feel like I still have no clue what I am doing in regards to parenting.  Sometimes I feel like I JUST GOT STARTED with my life– (in reality I just began a journey of living a whole-hearted, courageous, brave, self-aware, and joy-filled life) so how is it that my BABY is 10?? IS THIS NORMAL? or is thing something else to add to my “i’m a dork because” list?

OKAY on to #2

#2 The United Methodist Church’s Commission on “The Way Forward”

For the last SEVERAL years this issue of human sexuality (in regards to LGBTQ+ people) has been a very heated debate in the UMC.

I tend to land near the center maybe just over the line left about this topic both politically and theologically.

I am a huge supporter of social justice and equality for all. One of the top doctrines that I draw towards that gets my heart pumping is that of the Imago Dei–that we are all created in the image of God. I’m also Wesleyan and fully (sometimes to my detriment) believe every person has good in them and are of sacred worth.

For my entire 35 years I have heard about both sides of this topic and how it relates to the church I love and am happy to serve.

I do not have any answers. (I’m not sure anyone does.)

I do not know how this will all play out.

I do pray, all the time.

I recently read this article in the Good News Magazine (which I usually put in the recycle bin without even taking a 2nd look at, but, this cover article caught my eye). 

I do not like the negative language used in this article, but I’m not sure how to write an article like this without any bias coming out.

I also recently saw this circulating Facebook. 

I haven’t fully checked into this. So I can’t really say much about it, but here it is for you.

I will continue to pray for The Way Forward  and am REALLY GRATEFUL for the leadership and focus on prayer by the leaders of the Missouri Annual Conference.

The last thing I will say about this is that my heart hurts… it really does… and I pray a lot; and I hope that we (clergy) are all praying and working to educate our congregations/mission fields on what is going on.

I would love to talk with you about this, or join a clergy group that discusses this, I am not looking to argue sides. I am looking to be a part of a group whose hearts are also hurting for this church, for people, and who are longing for unity.

Why do I pray? Why do I have hope? Why do I seek to understand and learn?

It’s simple.

This kid…

Who has never known anything other than a UM church. He sits in the pew each Sunday and sings his little heart out, and hears so much more than his clergy-momma gives him credit for, or realizes. This kid who loves the church and is mostly-happy every time I drag him to it, for meetings and what not…

I want him to continue to experience the acceptance, joy, love, and hope that I experienced in the UMC, and his kids and his kids’ kids, and his kids’ kids’ kids, etc….

There is a way forward. There has to be. For this kid ^^

That’s as deep as I’m going to go, today.

Bring on celebrating birthday week!!

Blessings and Peace to you all!

-Rev. Single Mom.

Milestone and next BIG challenge.

Hey y’all so it has been a few weeks since I’ve posted. All is good, in fact all is great!!

Some of you know that part of my goals for the last 2 years has to become healthier in all aspects of life. My goal is to be healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The emotional piece has been such a wonderful journey. Brenè Brown’s Rising Strong process and small groups  (led by the one and only Charity Goodwin), meditation (I LOVE the app titled “calm”), prayer, and therapy have been things I’ve added to help me become emotionally healthier. I feel like I’m in a much better place than I was 2 years ago. Any questions you have for me on this end please just ask. This part is SO important for all the other parts to fall into place.

The spiritual piece is tied to the emotional piece, however I still haven’t accomplished my goal of attending a spiritual retreat, alone. I’ve given myself until the end of this year to get this done. I’m thinking I’ll do a solo-retreat at Mount Saint Scholastica

 
The physical piece has been an interesting journey. I started with changing diet and just attempting to get more active. I have learned a lot about my body.  In July of 2015 I weighed an all time high of 351. Yesterday (8/13) I hit my goal weight. I weighed 298.6… Whaaa??!! That’s 52.4 pounds gone!!! I see this and I almost can’t believe it, until I go to get up and my glutes & hamstrings begin to scream at me. Getting physically healthier has included some pain. But it’s the kind of pain that makes you proud of the work you’ve done. This means SO much to me.  When I was 9 months pregnant (10 YEARS AGO), waddling into the labor and delivery room after my water had broke, I stepped on the scale (hindsight says whyyyy?) and weighed 301.2 I never thought I’d ever be bigger than that, but life happened… and then I decided to take my life back; and I am back! It feels so good to be here.

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On this journey to getting physically healthy I have done things (like lifting weights (power lifting) and running a 5K) that I never thought I would ever do. Ya want to know a secret? I really like lifting weights. The running part is still growing on me.

In this process I’ve had to change the voice in my head. I used to tell myself “your are worthless, fat, ugly, you can’t do this”. Now I tell myself “I am good, I am strong, I can do this”. Sometimes this old self creeps back up, and I just head to the gym throw some med-balls around, or throw some weight on a bar and repeat the positive mantra over and over and over.  This has changed everything in my life. This positive mantra has changed how I parent, how I relate to others, how I relate to myself, and how I view challenges.  I received the courage to change my self-talk through the Brenè Brown process, specifically the https://player.vimeo.com/video/135475648” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Manifesto 

(seriously click on it)

LIFE happens to all of us. period. sometimes that is happy, sometimes it is blah, sometimes life brings STUFF (I could have used a different S word here, but I am a pastor, so I decided not to).  We have the choice of letting that STUFF break us down and tear us apart or we can rise from our STUFF, claim our stories, and write our own endings.

I decided I wanted to write my own ending.  I decided to finally believe that I was strong, worthy, good, capable and beautiful.  My story will not end with my struggle.  My story will end with my rising.

I am SO very humbled and gracious to those women (you know who you are) who walked through this with me.  Thank You. You mean more to me than you possibly know.

I encourage you that if you feel like your life STUFF is weighing too heavy on you, or if you feel like it’s time for you to rise, please contact me or check out the Brenè Brown’s work. CLAIM YOUR STORY, RE-WRITE YOUR ENDING we’re all cheering for you.

You. Are. Loved.

You. Are. Good.

You. Are. Worthy.

You Can do this!!

 

May God motive, encourage, and bless all of you!

 

transformation

Left = Easter 2015 Right = Summer 2017

Much love,

~Rev. Single Mom

 

PS: MY NEXT BIG CHALLENGE

Yea I know I’m crazy, but I just can’t stop! I am running the 5K portion of the Kansas City Marathon on October 21st.  If you want to run (or walk) with me please let me know I’d love to create a team.  I am encouraged to do this by my baby sister, Andrea.  Andrea and husband are RUNNING THE WHOLE MARATHON (yes, crazy runs in the family).  She is running this marathon to challenge herself  and to also SAVE CHILDREN.  Here is her fundraising site, if you are moved to support me or her in this effort please click this link and give. It costs $50 to give a child a new life.  That’s about how much I pay each month for internet, I can go a month without internet to save a child and I know you can too, please consider giving.  

 

this time is for reals, until next time, bye y’all;

—-Rev Single Mom

Camp: Intrepid Wildfire

This past week (17th-22nd) I spent a week on the campus of Central Methodist University serving as a camp counselor for Intrepid Wildfire camp.  This camp is planned and directed through the Next Generations Ministry of the Missouri Annual Conference.

I LOVE camp. I grew up as a camper at both church camp and Girl Scout camp.  I spent all of my summers from High School through College and even a few years after college working at summer camps.

Since I’ve been in full time ministry I have served at least one week as a camp counselor. It’s a joy for me to continue serving in this fashion.  It is a tiring week, but at the same time energizing and motivating.

This past week was the first time I served as a camp like this.  This camp was a camp for 12-18 year old youth (Jr. and Sr. High) and the focus was on mission projects.  The theme: Serve Hard, Serve Home.

We also focused on radical worship and had they typical church camp fun; swim, games, small groups, new friends, crazy fun times.

Each day the camp was divided into groups, some naturally came with their youth groups, some groups were formed once they arrived.  Each day all groups went into the city of Columbia and did mission projects. In my best guess, as a whole, we did like 20 mission projects throughout the week.  It was SO awesome to see a small part of so many different missions in the Columbia area.

What I wanted to share with you today was all about the small group of whom I was their counselor.  I served as the counselor to those campers who came without a youth group.  We were small, but mighty.  We called ourselves “The Black Van Clan” because I used the conference van (which is black and known by conference staff as the ‘toaster’) to transport our group from the campus of CMU to the various mission sites throughout the week.  It was a delight to see strangers get to know each other and work side by side all week.  I cannot say enough about this group.  We had some who had never done any sort of mission project before AND some who had never been to camp before.  We also had some who were well versed in serving and camping and kept us excited to keep serving.  These kids shared their hopes, joys, fears with each other and over the course of 6 days grew closer to each other and most importantly closer to Christ.

Here are a few pics of the Black Van Clan:

We worked hard, the first day we cleaned up a part of the MKT-Trail (an extension of the Katy Trail). We tried to eliminate invasive weeds and bushes that were killing natural habitats and growth for healthy native plants.  This reminded me of God pruning us.  In order for us to grow deeper in Christ we must allow ourselves to be pruned. It isn’t always fun.  Yet, when we allow the spirit to wash out all of the “invasive” things we let in, we make room for the Spirit to grow and change in us, and eventually we will look, and act more like Christ.  I still have some poison ivy from this trip, but it’s healing and all good.

Also on the first day we did road clean up on Brown Station road.  THIS WAS THE HOTTEST I HAVE EVER BEEN IN MY LIFE.  It was also a very cool experience.  The conversations you have with youth walking down the street picking up trash are interesting.  We talked about homelessness because we saw a pile of blankets at the top of an overpass, I taught them that it was probably someone’s home and to leave it alone, but to pray for the person who owned it.  We talked about littering and recycling and how God calls us to be good stewards of this earth–deep stuff.  We also got a little hot and tired and were being silly, which is always fun.

The second day we cleaned up Cosmo-Park. Cosmo-Park is one of the largest parks in Columbia.    We picked up trash all over the park.  I think we (the whole camp) picked up something like 15 trash bags full of stuff, 400+ cigarette butts, countless gum piles stuck underneath tables and benches and God only knows what else.  This is my only time I will say this: If you are at a public city or state park there WILL be trashcans somewhere, PLEASE pick up your trash; and if you smoke, seriously the ground doesn’t deserve your toxicity.  If you look at the pics above, we also got to have a little bit of fun.

In the afternoon we went to the Missouri Annual Conference office and packed meals for Rise Against Hunger.  This was so cool! I want to do this again! We packed over 10,000 meals.  That is A LOT of meals.  These meals are for emergency use in 3rd world countries. It’s amazing what a group of youth can do it a couple of hours!

Day three we returned to the Conference Office and worked with the festival of sharing ministry.  We did a lot of things for Festival of Sharing, the thing that moved me the most was packing prison packs for women prisons in Missouri.  These were hygiene packs, that included shampoo, deodorant etc.  We packed them in zip-lock baggies and then packed those bags in boxes.  The thing that got to me was that before we could put anything in the bag we had to punch a whole in the bag.  I was curious about this, so I asked.  The answer was: we have to put a hole in the bag so that the inmates cannot use the bag as a resource to mix ingredients (to make something else).  I came to this conclusion: We all have holes, scars, wounds, and marks in/on us and we think that we are of no use to God or for anything. The big picture of the prison packs is that regardless of the hole in the bag, those items were extremely needed for the health of the prisoners, even with the hole in the bag, they still provided good.  Even with our scars, wounds, and holes in/on us; the big picture is that God can and does still use us for his good.  That’s deep– sit with that for a moment–… You are valuable to God with all of your wounds/marks…

Afternoon of day 3 we went to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.  This agency does many things and helps many other organizations in their efforts to aid in the elimination of hunger.  We packed noodles.  TONS of noodles, we literally shoveled (with snow shovels that were properly sanitized) into tubs which we then scooped into bags and put into boxes.  These TONS of noodles will then get distributed to other organizations to give to hungry people here in Missouri. I know that many churches in the area use this food bank to help provide the food that goes into their buddy packs that go to the elementary schools.  I would like to do something like this here in the Kansas City area.

Day FOUR was by far my favorite.  This was the day we put all of our knowledge and hearts to use.  We planned and executed our OWN mission project.  We also spent time dreaming and planning how to lead a mission project in our home towns.  We went to Community United Methodist Church and helped with their Tags of Hope ministry.  This is a new ministry that is set up like a shop and it is specifically a place for foster kids to come and shop for clothes, shoes, books etc. that they can have as their own.  This was so cool.  I have many friends and part of my family who have or are fostering and the one thing that i hear is the hardest on the kids is that when they are removed from a situation they are usually moved with just the clothes on their backs, leaving their belongings behind.  So this Tags for Hope ministry provides a place for foster kids to get what they want for free. The kids can come in a shop and when they leave the volunteers wrap it in a shopping bag.  It is a MUCH needed ministry all over the state of Missouri–shoot all over this country– and it was SO heartwarming to be able to help them for a few hours.  What we did specifically was sort through a huge donation of winter coats, sorting them by gender and size and weeding out the bad ones.  This is definitely something I would like to replicate in the KC area. I am not sure if a ministry like this already exists, so if you know of one please let me know.

EACH DAY after our mission projects the campers had free time where they got to swim, play, and cool off.  Then we enjoyed some off-the-chain, over-the-top passionate worship. We kicked off each night with a dance party led by this guy, who has become a great friend of mine and I have mad respect for.  Big Al.  Then were led in passionate worship and sermons by the college ministry at Mizzou.  These college kids gave me so much hope.  It wasn’t too long ago that it was me up in front of people praying and leading worship for others.  It was so weird to be on this side of camp. Not a camper, not a worship leader, just a counselor.  It wasn’t weird it was awesome.  I was reminded of how I felt when I first accepted my call and it energized me!

Here are a few pics (they’re terrible pics) of the kids dancing and worshiping.

 

The COOLEST part of worship was the last night of camp.  Kim talked about what we think scars us, what marks us up and how when we’re marked up with bad things we tend to think God isn’t there and that God won’t use us.  So we did a project.  We took a piece of plywood and each camper took spray paint and placed the “tag” of their mess what they wanted to leave behind on this piece of Plywood.

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I think this looks cool alone.

Here are a couple of action pictures:

THEN the next morning as a part of closing worship we revealed what was underneath.

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We pulled off the duct tape — and revealed the cross.

“Jesus shines through all our mess”

“Jesus is underneath and always present”

“God can take our messiness and make it beautiful”

These are some of the words the campers expressed when we revealed our graffiti art. this spoke to m heart and was SO COOL to watch the campers “get it”.  I hope this imagery sticks (pun intended–duct tape is so sticky) with them forever.

It really is a cool image.  Here is a pic I snapped of the cross with the CMU campus in the background.

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To end: I am going to share a quote from Sarah Dumas who was our official leader, kept us all straight, photographer, videographer, and blogger of this week:

“God was clearly at work in these students this week at Intrepid Wildfire Camp. Instead of losing faith after a hard first day, they embraced the week’s verse and their hearts were softened to the needs of those they were helping and they decided to truly make a difference. They understood that although they couldn’t change the world by ending hunger or homelessness, they could do their part and bring the Kingdom of God into the community.

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans 12: 11-13

I am tired. I learned that I feel too old to sleep in a dorm room and to shower in communal showers, YET I will do this AGAIN in a heartbeat.  It is experiences like this that are changing our world and our churches.  I am so humbled and blessed to have gotten this opportunity.  I cannot wait for next year.

For some official pictures MUCH better than the ones I snapped on my phone here is the link, please feel free to take a look.

ALSO if you any of this sparked your interest for your church, for your youth group, or just for you please let me know, or check out the Next Generations Ministry page for how you can get connected.  If you click there is a sweet video that wraps up this week. 

I was SO blessed by this week at Intrepid Wildfire. It is truly amazing what youth can do when you encourage them and have fun with them.  Camping Ministry in Missouri is vital and I am so glad to be a small part of it.

That’s all for today y’all, I have another blog post stirring in my heart… so keep your eyes peeled.

Peace

~Rev. Single Mom.

 

PS: IF you like Gospel/R&B/Christian Rap, take a listen to Big Al’s radio station Power 927.fm

My Call Story

Hey y’all

I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit to blog more, well really to write more.  I have always wanted to write, but have always thought I wasn’t good  enough with my grammar to write more than occasionally.

I don’t always know where to put a comma or how to craft eloquent sentence.  I do know that God has given me life experiences to share with the world. I know that life is compromised of our stories, and we give power of those stories when we share them.  I also know that sometimes we can find encouragement to keep going when we find someone else whose story is similar to our own.  I started this blog to share my stories. I have done this very haphazardly over the years. As I begin this new appointment year, I hope to be more dedicated and disciplined to blogging.

I write every week. The only people that I share that with are the people who hear my sermon each week. So why not at-the-least share my sermons on my blog?

I will start with my calling story, which also was what I preached this past Sunday (07/09/17).

This is what I preached Sunday July 9th 2017.  

The scripture reading this morning comes from Isaiah 61:1-11

  1. The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
  2. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
  3. to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
  4. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
  5. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines;
  6. but you shall be called priests of the Lord, you shall be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory.
  7. Because their shame was double, and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs.
  8. For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
  9. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
  10. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
  11. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

This morning I would like to share with you my call story.  I want to share this story with you to open the doors to build a relationship with you.

I chose this selection of scripture verses for one reason; verse 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.”

And really verse 3 is nothing without verses 1 and 2: 1..The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2. to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;

This scripture specifically about God calling the prophet Isaiah to bring good news is SO FULL OF HOPE. If we read it over and over and over again we see that there is a something very beautiful in these ancient words.    

This is the first time we hear these words in scripture. When God’s people the Israelite’s were desolate and destroyed he sent the prophet Isaiah to remind them who they were to remind them that even in the midst of the Babylonian diaspora God is making something beautiful from their ruins, that God was making a masterpiece with their lives.  

A commentator says: God was referring to Zion, the Holy City. The City of David. The place that once housed the Ark of the Covenant, and thereby the very Presence of God himself.

It was in ruins, but those ruins will be “built up” and repaired. Not in an act of historical refurbishment, but in a new way – in a new form.

And, far more important than the ruined buildings, was the faith of Israel that was in tatters. It was a renewed faith and hope that the God who had brought them out of the fiery furnace in ages past would once again work his wonders.

The second and third time we hear this scripture is in the Gospel of Luke. Mary sings part of it in her song after she learns she will be the Mother of Jesus.  Then Jesus himself reads this scripture from the prophet scrolls.  It is the first public scripture reading Jesus does after his wilderness experience.  This frames the ministry of Jesus. Restoring the broken-hearted, bringing hope to the hopeless, bringing comfort and good news to the downcast and oppressed.

When we think about ruins, and the bigger picture of what that means for us, for this community, for this state, nation, world; It doesn’t take much these times to witness things in ruins. Neighborhoods, Companies, Economies, Job Market, Relationships, Childhoods, Educations… The list could go on and on.  

But, our God is a God who builds up and restores. Who makes all things new. And, he’s the God who has invited us along, to pick up a hammer and get to work rebuilding and refashioning the world around us, and the faith that has been entrusted to us and handed down to us by the saints.

Everybody at some point in their life has to answer the question “What am I going to do with my life, what is my job going to be, how will I be an upstanding citizen?”

For years I have tried to discern my way through this quote:

Vocation comes from the Latin vocare, “to call,” means the work a person is called to by God.

There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of society, say, or the superego, or self-interest.

By and large a good rule for finding out is this: The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need to do and (b) that the world needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing cigarette ads, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a), but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.

Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

~originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words

I am the 2nd child of 5. I have an older Brother Ben his wife Shelley 3kids (who is a pastor serving in St. Joe) A Twin sister (Rachael) in Texas, a younger step brother Matthew his wife Kendra 4kids and a younger sister Andrea her husband Andrew 3kids. We are a rowdy bunch when we’re all gathered.  It was chaotic and fun growing up in a large family.  

My parents divorced when I was 8.

My dad raised us.

This was the first time I realized I was different than everyone else.  Unfortunately I grew up in the era when divorce was common, and it seemed that everyone had a stepparent and that I was the only one I knew whose Dad was raising them.

I am a product of divorced parents and a blended family.  If you will go with me with the theme of broken down ruins– this was the first part of brokenness I can recall.  The first “stain” or “ruins” in my story.  

I was raised in a Christian home we were at church at every single event they held. Living as an active and faithful Christian was very important to my Dad.  My childhood summers were filled with going to church camp, Girl Scout camp, and family trips.  In high-school I was a part of Christian clubs/organizations through the school and went to several ecumenical christian weekend retreats.  

I felt God calling me towards full time service in the church while at church camp my before my senior year of high school.  Maybe it was just a response to a mountaintop experience; I think it was much more. It was God’s prevenient grace stirring the flame of ministry in my soul.

After high school I went to college at University of Central Missouri—where at the behest of my father I became active in the Wesley Foundation on Campus.  It was a small ministry that was a blessing to be a part of.  As I continued through college and struggled with the normal struggles of young adulthood I continued to seek God’s guidance in answering that first tug he placed on my heart.  I became an active member and volunteer of the United Methodist Church in Warrensburg where I helped teach Sunday School and helped in the contemporary worship service. I quickly became a leader in the Wesley Foundation, this is where I had my first experience planning and facilitating programs, as well as attempting to grow the ministry through outreach.  

As a part of the Wesley Foundation I went on several mission trips and United Methodist Student Forum trips.  These trips gave me experiences that helped me articulate my calling more.  It felt natural for me to lead others in prayers, worship, and bible studies, especially my peers.  This was the first time I experienced leading others in worship, and the first time I had the gift of ushering in the Holy Spirit, praying over people, serving others in the name of Christ. This was the first time my gifts for leading people spiritually were articulated back to me, in other words, friends and other students would seek me out to help them in their problems, to help them in prayer, and lead bible studies, and told me I was good at it.  

In my last year at UCM, the Wesley foundation spent a semester without an appointed pastor; it was here that as a senior in college—ready to graduate—and also deeply concerned with the continuation of this small ministry,  so I invested a lot of personal time to keep our programs alive.  

This experience was hard, but rewarding. I was told by my peers that they thought I would make a good campus pastor one day.  This was a very meaningful experience that grew my faith, prayer and study life and solidified my calling.  This persuaded me to pursue that calling no matter the consequences.

After this experience I had to complete an internship to finish my degree.  With my mission experience in Juarez Mexico I was interested in inner-city ministries and ministries related to poverty.  I did some research and  applied to be an Americorps Intern for Project Transformation in Dallas TX.  I served as an Americorps Intern for Summer 2005.

Project Transformation is a non-profit ministry that provides a summer day camp and after-school program for the under-served neighborhoods in Dallas TX.

After my summer internship, and finishing my degree that next semester, graduating in December, I was hired on Full Time at Project Transformation as their VISTA-Americorps Intern serving as their Curriculum Coordinator for 1 year.  The leadership experiences through Project Transformation provided a lot of substance to my calling.  I asked a lot of questions about ministry, observed a lot, and worked hard.  Moving from Warrensburg MO (a small college town) to Dallas TX (A major metropolis) was not only a cultural shock, but opened my mind and heart to a God that was so much bigger than what I had first thought.  I experienced inter-generational, intentionally diverse, intentionally mission focus ministries that expanded my worldview more than anything I had experienced thus far.  

I also got a lot of “real-life” or “hard knocks” experience–I call this my “OH this is what adulthood is?” period.  During the four and half years I spent in Dallas.  I met, married my now ex-husband, and birthed our child (yeah life experience!).  After completing internships with Project Transformation and gaining employment as an early childhood teacher, I pursued my calling and applied to Perkins School of Theology. As I began classes, gained employment at local church as a children’s minister, my ex began to vehemently disapprove of women’s leadership in the church. The marriage quickly became unhealthy and unsafe for both myself and our infant child.  I felt the only way to resolve our issues was to either save my marriage and deny my calling or leave and return to Missouri (home). After a year of anxiety ridden prayers discernment (and an emotionally/spiritually abusive marriage) I heeded the advice from my pastor who advised me not let anything stand in the way of answering God’s call on my life. In January of 2009. I left my ex-husband.  My son and I returned to Missouri. 

It was a time in my life when I thought I was completely ruined, an utter failure, yet I had a baby and couldn’t give up.  I knew my faith was strong enough to survive. I did not know that God could still use someone like me.

If we keep up with the ruins imagery that we find in this scripture, the second biggest place that is “in ruin” or “rubble” for me is this. I am a divorced woman, single mom, and still called to the ministry, really God?

After many months of shame and guilt of having a failed marriage, and dealing with all of the social taboos of being a single mom of a mixed race child whose father is not active.  I decided I was tired of holding it all myself.  So I gave it up to God. I allowed God to use me in spite of my failures. This allowed me to learn about healing powers of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Through a combination my very faithful (full of faith) parents, sister, friends and the Holy Spirit I was able to come to a mental place where I knew to be whole again I had to be faithful to God’s call on my life.

I reminded myself that Scripture gives us story after story where God uses the mess ups and the ‘ruined’ people to share the good news, to bring hope.

I remember praying “God if you can use Moses, Sarah, David, Rahab, Esther, Ruth, the woman at the well, and Paul; then you can use me too.  It took me some time to get here, but I got there.  I believe that if we give our lives fully to God he will use our lives, any part of them to bring good news to others.

When I came to this epiphany I had faith that God was going to open doors for me and my son.  So I applied to seminary in Kansas City and in the fall of 2009 transferred to Saint Paul School of Theology in the fall of 2009. I received scholarships for tuition and found that I was smarter than what I believed.  

Not only did I get accepted to seminary and receive scholarships, but I made it through! A lot of people thought I was crazy for going to school full time with a 2 year old and working 2 jobs (Sometimes 3).  I graduated seminary with a Master of Divinity specializing in Wesleyan Studies with a 3.3 (B+) grade point average.  ONLY through the grace of Jesus could I have done this.

It continually humbles me how God lifts me (all of us) out of my (our) broken, dark, lonely pit of life experiences to help others see the Good News, to help others know they are dearly loved by a God who is always there walking beside us.  

If my story can help one other person see the Good News of the Love of Jesus then I’m all good.  

Sometimes things happen in our lives and we have this thought that God could never use this mess that has happened to us or that we have allowed to happen to ourselves.  And we think we’re too ‘ruined’ to be used by God. I stand here today to proclaim that is untrue. You might have some messes in your life; but there is nothing God cannot use.

God makes beautiful things out of dust. He takes our Mess and makes it his masterpiece.

PLAY VIDEO — (Please click this link for the Our Mess God’s Masterpiece video)

GOD IS MAKING ALL THINGS NEW

Even with all of my scars, with all of my mistakes, with all of my shortcomings, I know that God called me to love his people.  I know that God called me out of his grace, because he created me in God’s own image as a human being gifted with empathy and compassion for all.  I know he has called me to help others see the Good News, to help keep the church alive, to help keep the word ‘church’ a verb, and to make disciples by helping others fall more in love with Jesus.   

EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THE RUBBLE, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THE RUINS, GOD IS AT WORK, GOD IS MAKING THINGS NEW, GOD WILL USE ANY OPPORTUNITY THAT WE ALLOW HIM TO USE TO BRING NEWNESS, TO BRING BEAUTY.

I am so excited that I get to journey with you, and you with me, as we help and watch God create a masterpiece out of us, and out of Smithville UMC.

So please ponder these questions this week:

Where are the ruins in your life? In your church? On your block?

Where are the places that you see, and instantly think that’s ruined, or broken down?

Because right there is where God is at work. And, right there is where God needs us. It’s where he plants us.

The GOOD NEWS today is that Even amidst the ashes, the crumbling brokenness, God is there making all things new.

AMEN.

 

 

That’s all for today y’all

Blessings,

~Rev. Single Mom

 

PS: the italicized words are not my own words. Credit given to these sources:

  1. Imagery around ruins. 
  2. Vocation

Reunited and it feels SO WEIRD!

**Disclaimer please see my previous post about my stolen car, or most of this won’t make much sense, and I don’t feel like re-typing the whole thing.**

Today (7/8/17),

My  dad (where would a girl be without her dad right?) and I drove to Columbia MO and back.  We had a purpose. Get my car back.

Yup that’s right.

I GOT MY CAR BACK!

Monday the Columbia PD called me and said they found my car in “kind of a used car lot behind Taco Bell off providence road” The police towed it to a tow lot not too far away, and I had to make calls to my insurance, wait for the holiday, make more calls to my insurance, AND find a time when I could get someone (again grateful for my Dad) to go with me, so I could drive my car back.

After paying the tow bill (ouch!… I will get reimbursed) — We went to the address the officer wrote on my windshield, which is where the car was found.  I’ve taken pictures of how the lot looked from my perspective, the license plate of a car in the lot, and a picture of my windshield with the address on it.  This place, is a not-so-good-very-bad-probably-a-lot-of-illegal-stuff-happens-here–type of place.  If you have had your car stolen in Columbia go take a look here; DO NOT TRUST THESE PEOPLE. I have NO IDEA of the intentions of the person who took my car, the police officer said it looked like they were in the process of trying to re-sell it, this was his best guess. I do not know the owners of this company, I do know this place has given me a bad-weird-wrong feeling ALL day.  I do not know the people who own this place, I do not know if their business is legit and if its operated with integrity (as much as a used car lot/person can) I DO KNOW, my car was stolen and 2 weeks later was found here.

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1111 N Providence (I’m parked in the Taco Bell lot)

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DO NOT TRUST THESE PEOPLE — AA Auto Sales LLC, http://www.autoasales.com 

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1111 N Providence

 

There is no damage on the car except the cowling under the front-passenger bumper by the tire– which has broken before–and probably happened during the tow.  The car ran just fine all the way back to Smithville from Columbia.  This makes me happy–kinda–I’m still weirded out.  I asked my dad if he knew of a “cleansing of a stolen car worship service/prayer” he said no, but he did have anointing oil on him. So I let him pray over and anoint my car!!  I want to get a full inside and outside cleaning done on it, I want to change the locks, and I want to put an anti-theft thingy on it (I have no clue how much this will cost).

 

 

The saddest part about all of this is what we lost.  The car was cleaned out, so everything I had in it was gone (again see previous post). SO NOW that I have the car back, and it’s “just” the possessions that are gone I have to file a NEW claim under my rental insurance for my possessions.  I don’t know what the deductible is for my renters policy, but I lost about $1000 worth of belongings SO hopefully the deductible is less than that.

HERE IS THE GOOD NEWS. BECAUSE THERE IS USUALLY ALWAYS GOOD NEWS…

I HAVE MY CAR BACK (I feel creeped [why is this not a word] out and weird, but the car in is my driveway! I don’t have to get a new car, or get a car loan!!

and most importantly EVERYTHING is working out just fine.

FYI… here is a pic of what was left in my car…

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An autographed CD cover of UNSPOKEN, my Clergy tag, my tire pressure gauge, and a note with Smithville upper-elementary school contact information on it.  Maybe this autographed CD Cover will be worth thousands some day and this will all be worth it… maybe the guy who stole my car felt so guilty for stealing a clergy person’s car he decided to not tear it up more and wreck it… and thank goodness I don’t have to replace my tire pressure gauge (sarcasm font needed).

GOD thank you for your protection, this could have been worse, thank you for my loving, kind and patient family and most importantly thank you for carrying me through it all! (I listened to this song by Moriah Peters on repeat on the drive back)

I hope this is the end of this sort of excitement for a while.

Thanks for reading; I hope you find a place to worship tomorrow– I am grateful for God’s protection and blessings.

Peace,

~Rev. Single Mom

 

 

I’m Back!

I’m Back!

I am back on Facebook!

I chose to be absent for about 3 weeks, while I was on vacation and in transition from one church to the next.

I have set up a new page, this is where you can keep yourself updated about my ministry and my life.  

It has been a wonderful break from social media. I have had a wonderful vacation, it’s not been a dream vacation because that includes sand and the ocean, but I have read a couple of novels, slept until at least 9am and have watched many movies and plan on seeing the new Despicable Me 3 movie with my kiddo tomorrow.

I have moved into my new apartment in Smithville and am still unpacking. My next task is to figure out where I want to hang all my pictures, and figure out what to do for a coat closet, there is no coat closet.  If you have any tried and true small space ideas for closets and kitchens, please let me know.

My job as senior pastor at Smithville UMC begins Saturday, July 1 and my first Sunday will be July 2nd, it’s just 3 days away!

I am in prayer for all pastors that are in transition, as well as the congregations who are saying goodbye and hello.

Here are some fun pictures of my vacation.

Annual Conference fun:

WONDER WOMAN!!  I went to see WW in 3D with my friend, Rebecca and her husband Clayton, who shot this picture of us.

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Silver Dollar City Fun: (Nate, Grandma Nancy, Uncle Steve and I went to Silver Dollar City– grandma has some other pictures, one day I’ll get those)

I spent a week in Carthage with family, all of my siblings (except one) came down and many other long distance relatives came to celebrate my Grandpa Snyder’s 90th birthday. We had a lot of fun together, these are just random pictures I snapped over that week.

A lot of my vacation time has been getting settled in our new place, running errands, (dealing with my stolen car) and hanging out with family. Here are some random pics from those times.

 

I’ve had lots of fun. My daily schedule is way off, but thats what summer is all about right?

I am looking forward to getting back into the swing of work and other random fun times with my kiddo and family.  I hope you all are having a great summer.

I learned several things about my time away from Facebook. 1. it is a spiritual practice to take a step away, and although it took me a bit to get used to it, I really enjoyed being away.  2. It is a big brave step to create healthy boundaries both in real life and social media life. 3. I love who I am, who God has created me to be and where God is calling me.  4. I probably will do this break from social media on a more regular basis.

Much love and peace to you all.

~Rev. Single Mom

Crazy crazy craziness!

SO…Most of you know that I’ve not been on Facebook for almost 3 weeks now. I’ve been on Instagram, but sparingly — if you want to know why please see my last post.  I have found myself less anxious and less connected to my phone since being off Facebook, it’s been really really freeing and when I decide to come back, in a week or so, I will continue to keep the app off my phone.

ANYWAY, this post isn’t about that, this post is about the absolutely crazy weekend I just had.

The 24th of June (this past Saturday) I had planned on spending the day in Columbia at the final workshop of 3 that I’ve been attending this year. These workshops are focused around the practice of Rising Strong working through Bréne Brown’s work.  It is really deep, hard, thorough, and spiritual work designed to guide us through a ‘fall’ or failure and teach us how to rise strong from that. In previous workshops we have addressed those failures and the stories we tell ourselves when we’re in the heat of those times. We have talked about how we handle tough emotions and how to recognize when we are offloading hurt on other people, even when we don’t realize we are. We’ve talked about how when we’re in a situation of fall or failure we often make up a story in our brain and confabulate the specifics of the actual event. We’ve talked about how to handle shame and guilt. Most recently we talked about trust and how to build trusting relationships, by braving. It is really good work for clergy, and well, really all people to do.  I have really enjoyed these workshops and have learned a lot about myself and how I handle things.  I am working on how to translate all of this information into a way to bring this work to my local congregation, it’s coming soon, but for now it’s a work in progress.  If you haven’t read any of Bréne Brown’s work I highly encourage it.

SO, last Saturday in regards to the workshop was wonderful. It’s the events that occurred friday night or early Saturday morning that made this weekend absolutely crazy.

I drove to Columbia Friday evening and stayed the night with my friend, colleague, and mentor. She has two boys around Nate’s age and we all sat and watched the Lego Batman movie Friday night it’s hilarious and the boys had a great time together.

Sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning my car was stolen from the front of her house.

Yes. You read that correctly. My car was stolen from a nice neighborhood in Columbia MO.  When I first went to get in my car Saturday morning and realized it was gone I thought I had parked illegally and that it had been towed. Unfortunately this was not the case. I contacted the Columbia Police department, they were really professional and polite, I made the call to the non-emergency line and an officer contacted me within 5 minutes to make the official report. They searched the tow database and nothing was found describing my car.

I was shocked. I am shocked. It’s just a car, and the stuff inside it is just stuff, but it’s my car and my stuff and I kinda like my stuff and my car, and it’s just wrong.  I’ve always thought when I heard of someone else’s car got stolen that it would never happen to me, and that if it were to happen to me I wouldn’t really be too torn up about it.   Now it has happened to me and it’s hard to put into words when all of a sudden something that I depend on so much is gone, instantly. Crazy, is the word that I keep using to describe the whole event… Crazy, crazy craziness!

Thankfully I have full coverage and the theft is covered by my auto-insurance. It’s a long tedious process that I’m in the thick of right now, but eventually I will get paid for the value and contents of the car and purchase another car.  I am happy that I chose to keep full coverage even after I paid off the car and am happy with my insurance company they’ve been empathetic and have answered all my questions, I think I’ll continue to be their customer for the foreseeable future (Farm Bureau).

As a single mom who lives pay-check to pay check when you’re car is stolen or it needs worked on, your life gets instantly insane. The state of Missouri is a state that highly depends on cars to get from place to place. I wish we had much better public transportation. I don’t have a spouse with a spare vehicle, I’m not made of money nor have much saved and can’t just go buy a new car, or rent one. I won’t even go into all of the horrible details about the super-high-intrest loan that I had to get to purchase this car, and I was SO proud of myself that I paid off just last year.  My most sincerest prayer right now is that I do not have to get another loan when all of this shakes out.  So If you’re a praying person, please join me in this prayer.

I am VERY grateful, no, I am beyond very grateful, there aren’t words to describe how grateful I am, for my friend who loaned me her car so we could return to Smithville Saturday.  The hard part about borrowing her car is that I have no way of paying her back, and I know I’ve made her life more difficult this week. It is SO hard to ask for help, especially as a single-mom who is used to handling her stuff all by herself.  I needed help,  she stepped up I didn’t even have to ask. It brings tears to my eyes just typing it.  So I’ve got this rolling around in my brain/heart. I don’t know how I will pay her back, she will insist that I don’t.  I have had many mentors over the years who have in one way or another gone above and beyond. One day I will be like them and be able to bless my mentee’s abundantly like so many have blessed me.

The thing that still gets me about my car, is the contents.  My Son had all of his 3d-DS games in there as well as the birthday gift for his best friend that he was supposed to go to his party Saturday that never happened, he’s still sad about this. As a mom it is SO hard to see your kids hurt for a mistake you made.  I promised him we will make a special visit sometime in the future. Any mom who has a kid that loves video games knows how much they cost, this was probably the most expensive of the contents that we’ve lost (16 games at about $40 per game).

I had several random things left in the car, including a TARDIS Quilt that I had JUST purchased and picked up at the post office; yes it’s just a quilt, but it’s beautiful and I got it for cheap (it was 1/2 of the price shown on this link–that’s how I rationalized the purchase).  My favorite bright yellow/green water bottle was in the car, my KC Royals hoodie, and some pottery, (a bowl and plate that matches my communion set) purchased at Silver Dollar City was in the trunk.  These among several other little things I have to replace is what makes this so hard.

No, I don’t know how it happened or who did it, yes it was locked, and yes the windows were cracked.  So whoever took it was able to unlock the doors through the cracked window. I have to deal with the mistake and guilt of leaving my widows cracked something I always do in the summer but you’d better believe I won’t be doing again.  I have to deal with this feeling of being violated and not having control over the situation.  I have to deal with all the paperwork and replacement of contents.  Honestly I’m still hoping to get a call from the Columbia Police department that they’ve found my car with all the contents safe.  This is far-fetched I know, but I’ve always been one to hope.

Nate and I are blessed to be safe, and to have such amazing friends and family.  The insurance agent has set us up with a rental car and I hope by this time next week I will have purchased a new-to-me car.

I am not mad or angry maybe that will come later, I am more sad that it’s gone and frustrated at the process.  I have prayed a lot, and I know some of you are praying for me too. I trust that through God everything will work out just fine.

If you’ve had your car stolen or something similar happen to you, I can now empathize with you. I honestly hope it doesn’t happen to anyone.

So that’s what my crazy weekend was. I have about 4 days of vacation left. Lot’s of boxes left to unpack, I unpacked my room today. Tomorrow I will tackle the living room.

I also have a ton of awesome pictures from my time with family, silver dollar city, and just random things that I will share in another post. For now it is bed time for my little guy, so I will say goodnight.

Thanks for reading, my next post will be a happier, I promise.

~Rev. Single Mom

PS: I just couldn’t wait, this is a picture from my grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration of my parents with all their grands kids and a picture of me and Nate….

A working vacation

Hello! (*I am posting this from my iPad, on my ATT Data plan, I ask you to forgive my grammar, and layout)
I am off Facebook, instagram, and twitter while I’m “on vacation” so I thought I would post a blog post, for those who are interested in keeping up with me. 

So I am technically at a work conference, but I am also on “vacation” I am taking 3 sundays off  one will be spent at the conference I am at, and the other 2 I will spend spending time with extended family in south Missouri and spending time settling into my new apartment, and community in which I have been appointed, more on that will come later.  As I am writing this, I am at Missouri Annual Conference 2017 #moac17.  Yet, my last Sunday in the pulpit at my current appointment was June 4th. It was a very blessed Sunday, one where we celebrated our confirmation students and welcomed them into the Pleasant Grove UMC congregation. We celebrated Pentecost and were inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit; and we celebrated the 3 year ministry career I had at the Pleasant Grove UMC. I was full of joy, and I cried.  It is always an emotional roller coaster when a clergy person is in a time of transition between churches.  I share with you here a picture of me with the confirmation kids. I am so very proud of them and believe they are going to do big and great things for God in this community. 

Confirmation class 2017

Monday, the moving truck came. It is very surreal to see all of your belongings get put onto a 26ft truck and drive off. I spent about 3 weeks packing all of my belongings.  I went through every single box that hadn’t been unpacked since my last move and threw a lot away.  I went through every single article of clothing and fabric (sheets, curtains etc) and washed them all and packed them, I even purchased several of those under the bed plastic boxes to store off weather clothes.  I feel like it was an overall more organized move than I have in the past.  Yet, like always it seemed unorganized and chaotic I was at my wits end several times, in the end there were about 5 boxes that were packed in the last minute labeled random and put on the truck.  Here is a picture of me and my kiddo in front of the truck before they left.  

Tuesday the truck unpacked at our new apartment in Smithville. I went from a 4 bedroom parsonage to a 2 bedroom apartment/Duplex.  It was a crazy day and now all of my belongings are scattered all over my new place.  My son loves our new place, it is in a beautiful neighborhood and we live on a culdisac, so he has plenty of room to ride his bike.  The school he will go to is in our backyard, literally. 

Tuesday and Wednesday we spent unpaking and I got to go to my niece, Aveline’s, first t-ball game and my nephew, Zeke’s, baseball game.  It was the first time I got to cheer on my families sporting events and it was so fun.  My new appointment sends me much closer to my family and I am looking forward to going to many more sporting events. Here are a few pictures of those fun events. 

 

You know you’re in Kansas CIty when there is a Royals cutout at McDonalds


Aunty duty–I got to play with Mabel Irene while sister Aveline was playing tball


Aunt duty, I got to hold Ember Hope she is so precious!

Zeke playing 1st base

Zeke got a triple!

Aveline Tball game


Thursday Nate and I loaded up our car for Annual conference. We drove to Springfield, checked into our hotel and went swimming. I enjoy being at annual conference it is a holy time, as well as a fun time.  I get to reconnect with all my clergy friends that are scattered al over the state. I also really enjoy the learning times in workshops and the business sessions.  Nate enjoys staying at a hotel and he really enjoys the childcare offered here at annual conference.  They do really fun things, and I am so very grateful for the work they do. 

Like I said earlier I am on a “working” vacation (until annual conference ends on the 12th).  I also said I am off all social media. This was a decision I made based on a challenge given to me by a dear friend, for the purpose of defining my personal boundaries, which includes how much time I spend on my phone on social media, and what I post.  It is hard to do this, because I have to admit, I spend way to much time scrolling through Facebook and instagram and have been guilty of posting things too personal. This is hard. I have found that the only way I could do this was to delete the apps from my phone. I did this for the first couple of days, but when I got to annual conference I decided to download the apps again yet I turned off the notifications. So they’re on my phone, but I am not alerted when something gets posted. So I am looking at them much less. I am the type of person with my phone that if there is l little red mark on the app that notifies me that app needs my attention and if I cant figure out how to get that notification to go away I get uneasy.  I don’t know why I am this way, but I like a clean home screen.  So turning off notifications from social media apps keeps me from opening the apps for the simple reason of clearing that notification icon. 

Boundaries are something that are important to me and my career as a pastor.  I believe that having strong, safe boundaries help in keeping my spiritual, emotional, and physical self healthy.  It is very interesting how we as humans are so drawn towards social media sites for self approval.  I know my worth, and it doesn’t exist in Facebook or instagram notifications. This 3 week hiatus might result in me disappearing completely from social media, but maybe not.  

I enjoy blogging and sharing bits and pieces of my life with you on my blog so if you’re curious about me please feel free to check here. 

I have been appointed to Smithville UMC in Smithville MO, and as I said earlier, part of my vacation I will be settling in my new community so If you are a part of that community and are reading this and see me around town please stop me, say hello, and introduce yourself.  

I pray a blessing on all of you and encourage you to look at your own boundaries and make a step to live a more healthy life. 

Thank you, and catch y’all later. 

–Rev. Single Mom

These Hands (poetry take 2)

So today (5/25/17) my Fitbit & my phone died while I was at the gym, whaaaa?!! How could I let this happen? don’t worry I manually posted my workout, it still counts. 

Speaking of workout. Whew today’s was a good one. I hit a personal record on my bench press 4 reps at 85! Last week I couldn’t even lift it once. I stayed the same on my deadlifts, but I’m ok with that, I’m getting stronger and better at my form and grip. 

Today’s lifts were followed by an accessory work out — one my trainer designed to continue working the muscles needed to improve lifts. 

I could barley lift my bag out of the locker, driving home was interesting, especially on the sharper curves when full arm movements were required. 

When I pulled into my garage I sat there with the AC and music (christian rap, of course!) running trying to find the energy to lift my bag and myself out of the car and go inside. I sat for about 3 songs worth so 15 minutes? And I kept staring at my hands.  I kept looking at how they’ve changed in the last couple of years (since I started my weight loss journey), and how now they’re getting blisters and callasouses from the lifting workouts. While I was sitting this poem (of you can call it a poem) came to me. So. Here ya go. 

These hands:

These hands that hold so many different things in so many different ways

These hands cradle my kids leg and ties his shoes as he balances and wiggles 
These hands that hold the leash to walk the dog

These hands that scrape out lunch box containers from yesterday’s lunch 

These hands as I lovingly squeeze my kid’s knee as I reach back into the back seat before he jumps and runs into the school he’s too big for hugs now. 
These hands that reach for sustaining foods to keep my body going
These hands that hold, study, and research scripture
These hands that write, and type, usually not fast enough. 
These hands that hold, and sometimes squeeze, the pulpit each Sunday (well 48/52 of them). 

These hands that cradle the phone when the good and bad news comes calling, texting, or facebooking in

These hands that wipe the tears from my kids face. 

These hands that wipe tears from my own face. 

These hands that hold others hands in support as we pray, and walk through this life together. 

These hands that clap when we rejoice, even at the little things

These hands that sweat when I go for a jog 

These hands that grip the barbells, dumbbells, and kettle-bells as I left heavy things

These hands are rough 

These hands are soft

These hands do hard things

These hands do soft things 

These hands do beautiful and lovely things 

These hands. 


Peace y’all
~Revsinglemom