Diversification

When we first move to a place I am a woman on a mission.  I want to get to know people and find a community.  So I eavesdrop on conversations and just invite myself in to things.  I show up at the meetings of various committees and local groups.  I scan the paper for opportunities.  Then I get comfortable.  I settle in with my new friends and routines. This is fine, to have a sense of belonging and normalcy, but for my own personal faith development it is deadly.  The reason is that I put blinders on when I get comfortable and I stop being able to see outside of my own narrowly defined experience.  I miss the places God is calling me to be present because I think I already found them.  A perfect example is my Pilates class.  When I first started taking classes this summer I was friendly level 4.  Subtle, quiet, but looking for opportunities to connect to people.  I would work to learn the other students’ names and ask them questions like how their back was this week.  I would linger after class to chat.  Now I’m a regular, an insider, and I don’t work at getting to know new people.  I’m at friendly level 2.  I smile, but don’t engage with people I don’t already know.  (The scale goes to 10 by the way and those of you who have experienced 10 know it.) I know that my call is to connect with others and to share love with them in lots of ways.  When I stop seeing new people, when I get...

Cats in Worship

This past week as we set up for our monthly Taize worship experience I was once again visited by the realization of what a great house we get to live in while we do the work of building this new faith community.  The dwelling which serves as our home and the base of the faith community was built in 1930 and spent 80 years as the parsonage for the Sellwood United Methodist Church.  This house was home to many pastors and some of my pastor kid friends.  It was rented out for a while, with the income helping maintain the Sellwood Church.  Now it’s our home and the place where we host parties, join in worship, spend time in small groups, and where Jeff and I both work. This house is ours for now because of the work and generosity of countless others who invested in ministry in this place.  I wonder if those first folks who built this house saw the potential uses we would have for it.  The giant living room/ dinning room is so easy to use for everything from parties to worship.  We just need a few strong arms and we can quickly change the space from hosting brunch for 14 to a worship space and then to our family space with lots of good room for tv viewing and playing the wii.  The office on the first floor is my work space, but also convent storage for all of our clutter when we’re getting ready to host something.  The kitchen is spacious with room for a cookie decorating table for the Christmas Party and...

Coffee & Conversation

This past week I showed up at a local coffee shop and was joined by a few new friends from the Sellwood area.  We drank coffee and tea, ate some pastries, and talked.   Our conversation was wide ranging, covering everything from church politics to the finer points of certain actors.  We talked about our New Year’s resolutions and decided to gently encourage each other in trying to live as our best selves in 2014.  It was a simple time, but at the same time a great blessing to me.  This for me is the heart of what I’m called to do.  This coffee time was about creating a space to connect.  Part of this is talking about the things that are on our hearts from the sublime to the silly and everything in-between.  It also includes a piece of accountability.  My goal for the year is to be more positive and I know every time I’m tempted to complain about someone or to start dwelling in the negative that next month I’m going to be asked how things are going.  I know that no matter what I say it will be ok, because these new friends are awesome and loving, but knowing that someone else is interested in how I’m progressing in my goal makes me want to do better. One of the great bonuses to this new gathering is that we’re meeting at a local business started by 4 twentysomethings trying to make a go of their dreams.  We’re connecting with them and encouraging their attempt to live out their passions.  A partnerships is developing with these...

The Motley Crew

This year for Christmas we did something new.  We hosted brunch for a bunch of friends on Christmas Day.  The idea came from one year when we lived in Tacoma.  We didn’t have any family around and friends included us in their Christmas morning celebration.  It was a great time and when the opportunity arose for us to host this year I jumped at the chance because of that memory and because of my love for brunch.  A love born from being busy on Sundays and therefore rarely able to take part in the glamorous breakfast/lunch combo. On Christmas Day as I prepared I wasn’t sure what would unfold.  What I found was deep meaning in the gathering of a somewhat random group of people made up of  colleagues, friends from high school, people from the traditional church I serve, and members of the new community.  Many of the people gathered crossing theses categories and simply were friends at the table.  As we ate I was reminded of the motley crew at the stable that first Christmas.  Shepherds, animals, innkeepers, and later kings.  A group of disparate people all showing up to celebrate something and finding a blessed kinship in the moment.Maybe it’s just the mimosas talking, but I think this was the best Christmas I’ve ever had.  It felt like we were living a real celebration of the body of Christ that morning.   Everyone brought something to share, we laughed, met new people, and it was good.Our little family of three was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Bend that afternoon to celebrate Christmas again...