Friday, February 27, 2009

Showering the baby!


Brianna and Sabrina helping to decorate.

The cake, delicious!




SURPRISE!





Good eats

And presents.

Family

New Family-Jonathon, Tiersa, and Baby Tira Elizabeth

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Funeral for Jada

I switched my work schedule today so that I could go to the funeral. I can't say I wanted to go, but I wanted to let her know I cared. The pictures were beautiful. Tears flowed freely....for what was lost, for what would never be...and our fractured hearts begged God to care, to hold, to be.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday


"...you are dust, and to dust you shall return." -God


Today the Lenten season begins. Doesn't anyone else find that quote depressing? Here in Pennsylvania Dutch country, everyone, Catholic or not, loves Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday) because of the fasnachts. (For anyone not from around here, these are donuts covered with sugar that people made to use up their sugar and such because the Lenten season was to be somber and not filled with treats.) But after the dough settles into a leaden ball in their bellies, most move on with their lives. Catholics stay for the ashes.

Today I will encounter many people with a dirty smudge on their forehead. The priest dabs his thumb into the ashes and then he makes the sign of the cross on their head. People wear it like a badge today. "I got mine. Where's yours?" Or like some secret (not so secret when it is staring at me from your forehead) marking where you can identify your comrades. Of course today is also a fast day which makes me wonder about what Jesus said about not letting yourself look like crap when you are doing something spiritual like fasting.

Today I will fast, tho I won't wear ashes. I will meditate on the upcoming events of the Passion, this Gift, this Sacrifice, this Love. I will mourn, but I will praise God for this amazing work of redemption. I am more than just dust. I am a daughter of the King.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bye, Amy..Hello, Lent




I was supposed to be at Johns Hopkins today. A friend from recovery who has hepatitis that doesn't respond to treatment had his gall bladder go bad. The local docs wouldn't touch him because the surgery was extremely high risk due to his liver. They knew he might very well bleed to death on the table. Because he is hopefully getting a liver transplant (some day), the transplant docs down there were willing to do the surgery.

I was supposed to be down there visiting him today. He wasn't supposed to be doing so well. He wasn't supposed to be out for a week so that they could watch for post op bleeding. But, he was coming home today and so we didn't go visit him.

Instead, it seems that maybe God cut me some slack. Instead of visiting a sick friend in the hospital, I visited a sick friend in a halfway house. She had made some stupid choice and gotten herself kicked out and was being sent back to jail. I used to sponsor her tho I let her go because I couldn't help the unwilling, but she called me to help now. She wasn't really trying to do well. She has been caught up in self destructive patterns. She would play lip service to change while she slunked off to do something wrong...against the rules where she lived, and against principles that would make her free. We packed up her room and she continued to try and lie to herself, as those going to jail do, either reflexively or in preparation. She minimized her wrong, she avoided and justified, she refused to feel any guilt, just victimization.

We talked as she sorted. We exchanged memories as we packed. She said God must have a plan, but I corrected her that God's plan was not for her to get laid and get sent back to jail; that was her plan. But, as we lugged the bags down those clunky wooden steps, my emotions began to gather in the back of my throat. I didn't want to guide or instruct or chastise anymore. I wanted to love her and tell her how much I would miss her and how much I wanted good for her.

Her mother arrived. "Well, this is it," she sighed. And we hugged, but the emotions came thru and I held her tighter. She tried to reassure me, "I'll be ok." She still didn't get it.
"I know, you'll be ok," I managed thru the tears. "You'll be ok in the way that we ignore how we feel and that we survive and move on. But that not what I wanted for you! That's not what God wants for you! We want you to thrive, to grow, to know freedom! I want you to see there is another side..." I let her go so that she could look into my eyes, to see and believe.

We finished the packing by loading up her mother's Honda. She thanked me for coming, when no one else had. I told her I was supposed to be at a class, but instead of the class, I was going to Baltimore which was cancelled at the last moment and so I was available for her. Maybe it was a God thing. We smiled, weakly as we hugged one last time before she left.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Lunch Lady says....


My days are always good. It's my reactions that screw things up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bittersweet

Father,

I don't understand. You say you knit us together in our mothers' wombs, that you knew us before we were born...

Did you knit her together? Did your stitches slip? Father, where were you?

As I wait for my grand daughter's birth. the news of this other baby, the loss of her, it is particularly heart breaking. She wanted a girl for so long. But the girl you gave her was only for a flicker of time.

How can I ask you to watch over my grand daughter? Did you watch over her child? Was it just a genetic chance?

As her mother grieves, please hold her, comfort her, help her to feel your tears. More than the evil that hounds us, we fear you being indifferent, stepping over our messy lives, stepping out of them. Do not leave us here like this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

MInistry

What is ministry?

For so many of us, we just concede that ministry is how professional Christians make a living. We pay them to "minister." But what does that MEAN?

I grew up a grandchild of a minister and so I thought I knew what that meant, but when I looked it up, ministry is simply the act of serving. Of course, one way to serve is thru "up front" ministry-serving as a pastor who teaches from a pulpit. However, there are many others who have a ministry.

Today at our service this gentleman was being interviewed about finding contentment and at one point he spoke about his interactions with children that he teaches piano, that sometimes they need to talk about their lives and he listens and coaches there as well as the keys. His comment was something like, this is almost like a ministry.

Sure sounds like it is one to me.

A friend of mine started selling the cookies she bakes and with the profits she makes meals for people who are struggling, sick or sad, to let them know that someone cares and that God loves them. She dropped off my Valentine's day cookies and told me about her latest adventure while tears rolled down her cheeks. "I just felt like I melted into the Lord," she summed up her experience.

"Sounds like you found your ministry," I observed as she nodded thru tears of joy.

And as I said that, I realized that I was practicing mine-listening and encouraging and sorting out things with people.

I used to ponder quite often and examine roughly what God wanted me to be doing. Then I stopped wondering and started doing.