Room to Dream

It is amazing how much more creative and imaginative I feel now that my anxiety is under control and I’m being intentional about sabbath.  I’ve shared before here that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  When I’m under lots of stress, say closing a church or working on General Conference, I tend to have a corresponding increase in irrational anxiety and panicky feelings.  Since June I’ve been working to take care of myself, leading to some new habits that have helped me feel the best I have felt in years and it is like a light has gone on.  I feel more creative and inspired, ready for whatever holy dream God is sending our way. One of my practices is to have sabbath time.  This for me is not time off, but intentional soul feeding time.  Part of this comes during art lectures weekly at the Portland Art Museum which is part of my docent training.  While leading school tours is a community service and mission act, learning about the art is purely for my soul to soar.  Listening to Native American Artists speak about huge issues in our cultures, witnessing the amazing creative process of painters, hearing about the spiritual convictions of print makers, beginning to grasp the wisdom of Chinese aesthetics, and appreciating the beauty of Syrian contributions to the world through life like sculptures all change who I am and show me God, up close and in a vast array of forms. The other component of sabbath comes through my Sacred Ordinary Days planner.  This large book which holds my daily calendar is full of scriptures, prayer...

Slowing Down

This fall we started with a bang.  We augmented our normal schedule with two book groups, youth group, worship, and an additional service project.  We were once again experimenting, throwing things on the wall and seeing what stuck.  It often takes lots of adjustments to find what works.   We’ll have different things in October as we slow down and settle in to this season of our community’s life. The secret for us is that we start with a lot and then find what works.  We slow down and live in to the spaces where our community is thriving and then we start again when the moment is right with new offerings and experiments in how we do things.  One key is not to get upset when something doesn’t work or things change.  There are times when I feel like I’ve failed because one thing didn’t take off. I’m working to remind myself about all the places where things are taking off and it is clear that God is present.  It is so easy to focus on the things that don’t work out, ignoring all the beauty and grace that are flourishing.  Part of why we let go and slow down the schedule each time we do this is to really appreciate those things that are working and to create space for imagination and new vision to come so we are ready for what God is calling us to next. When we are ready to try something new we get feedback from folks in our community and we have our own ideas about where we should be going.  We’ve...

The Value of a Day

Today is one of those days where I’ve been working since I got up early this morning, but I have accomplished very little work.  Today has been about showing up.  Today has been about listening. It all started yesterday evening.  A phone call with unexpected news about a beloved friend and member of this neighborhood.  And my role, as always, when it feels like the floor is dropping out is to calmly offer light and hope.  I can’t cure illness.  I can’t fix the situation, but I can breathe.  I can bring the wine.  I can listen and cry.  I can laugh and hug.  I can throw away the old banana and hunt down the iPad.  I can say I am here, God is here, love is here. So today, when my to do list is growing and not shrinking, I know the value of my day and the value of the gift of the time I have to be present, to love, and to hope. I am so incredibly honored to do this work of coming alongside people in all sorts of spaces and moments.  My to do list will still be there tomorrow, and maybe one of these days I might actually get back to crossing some of those things off, but for now I’ll be where God needs me most....

Making Adjustments

It seems like just when we have it figured out here at SFC things change and we have to adapt. I believe this is one of the great lessons of new church starts, being able to adapt and move as the spirit calls.  We are able to be responsive to the lives of our community and to be able to adjust our programming and ways of doing things to meet people where they are. The thing is life changes.  What worked for one family last year doesn’t work with new schedules and transportation issues this year.  As the children grow developmentally the programming we’ve been offering might not work.  A Sunday School teacher might decide it’s time to retire, or the circumstances of life might mean they can’t commit to a specific Sunday anymore.  As we prayerfully reflect on what we’ve been doing we come to see that it’s not what God is calling us to at the moment.  As we try new things we discover that they meet an unspoken need in us and we let go of the former ways of being. This fall we had grand plans to do what we did last spring in offering children’s programing with dinner.  Now instead we will be hiring a young man to hang out and play with the kids during that time.  He did that role a few years ago and was fabulous, but then some of our number felt a call to teach Sunday School on Sunday nights so we made a change. Everything we do is borne of trying to be present to people in this...