She has always been a gift to me. Never in an official role, she has always been the bonus prize.
When befriending her oldest, I got the chance to gain her by virtue of being my friend’s mother. She exemplified what it meant to love Bobby – to both help him from falling and to be there for him when he did. Her persistent love for her son through the ups and downs showed me what it was to be a mother, before I was even trying to learn. Her persistent love for her son since his death has reminded me to cherish the days as they pass, to hold them gently and loosely, and to be a good steward of the lives entrusted to me. For nothing remains forever, other than the love shared. That always remains.
To my dear friend on your first day on the job,
I can only imagine how it felt this morning as you pulled up to the church with two kids in the back. Dropping them off with the “goodbyes” and the nervous “be a good listener” before you walked those hallways and stairwells to your office on your first day as senior pastor. I’m sure a beaded necklace adorned your chest and a smile spread brightly and permanently across your face as you walked through offices giving your usual good mornings. They were always a staple in my life for the past six years. I’m glad a new crop of people can start their day with your abundant welcome.
After pleasantries, you arrive at the much-anticipated moment. The door closes and you sit at your empty desk. The job description suddenly becomes less a document of certainty and more a question of discernment of the logistics. The massive office must have felt so foreign after living in your closet-turned-office that people passed on the way to the restroom each day. The desk and seating area must have felt so ominous and expectant.
Three peers in ministry.
One small office.
Huddled together, her smile and the light in her eyes gave away the surprising news. After over three years, it was finally here – a positive pregnancy test. I don’t remember what was said, but like a film clip, I remember it in the silence – wide-eyed disbelief, stunned faces, tears streaming down our cheeks.
Three peers in ministry.
Three women pregnant at the same time. Continue reading
The babysitter is secured and the plans are coming together to celebrate a friend’s birthday tonight. We’ll gather at one of his favorite restaurants and retell our memories. We will recount the small things that once seemed inconsequential. But in the absence of his physical body with us, they have become everything.
When I let my mind wander, I can get lost in the memories. The moments we shared. The adventures. His dreams. His smile. The times he was fully alive.
For a moment, I am with him. All that has been lost returns. All that is fractured is made whole. Continue reading
On our way to our table for three, we have already begun our worship. We open the menus and we begin with praise – sharing stories from the latest happenings from the day or tales of the latest mishaps in ministry. We laugh and we nod in understanding. We order our drinks, place our lunch orders, turn in the menus, and move into confession.
Taking turns, we look to one another and ask – “So, how are you doing?” If the first attempt does not open the floodgate, we entertain the response and then prod further with another, “how are you really doing?” Slowly and carefully, one will unpack the latest stresses, fears, and wonders of our lives. The two listening will lean in and remain quiet. Nodding their heads, they hold the words and feelings gently.
Avoiding the traps of advice or dismissal or belittling, we move into proclamation. We seek to shed light on the darkness of our confessions. We try to drain the power of the gremlins that too often rule our thoughts. We ask questions. We look for where hope is growing. We hold in our hands the grief of one another. We mourn our inability to grant another’s dream or fix another’s brokenness. When we cannot find the words, we just sigh. Continue reading