Word of the Week

Do you have a bucket list? Working on completing it? Or do you just put thoughts like that out of your mind as soon as they come up?

My family says I think about death too much for their comfort. "You're so young" says my husband. "Why would you be planning your own funeral?" With the follow-up back at me, "Why are you always planning mine?" The planner in me just can't help myself, and when your job includes leading such you think about it more than most.

To this, enter this week's word: aware.

Aware defined as showing realization, perception or knowledge.

Several years ago, a friend gave me a playlist with the song "Life Means so Much" by Chris Rice. You can listen to it here. Here are some of my favorite lyrics:

Every day is a bank account
And time is our currency
So nobody's rich, nobody's poor
We get 24 hours each
So how are you gonna spend
Will you invest, or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under

Teach us to make the days count, Lead us in better ways, That somehow our souls forgot, Life means so much.

What I most appreciate about this song is that it calls me to be present in the moment.

Each breath of ours is a gift. Each moment we can share with a loved one is a treasure. Each opportunity we have to serve-- when the Spirit nudges us saying, "Go. Do. Connect" is why we are alive.

But living with this daily awareness, I know is SO HARD. It can feel too serious!

It's easier to go through the motions of the daily grind.

We're out of milk. The clothes are piling up. I need respond to that email.

Maybe you can relate. The hamster wheel is always calling. But I do think, as people on a faith journey, God calls us to more.

Awareness is our ticket to freedom. Awareness is also our ticket to joy. And it's our ticket to purpose-driven living with whatever moments of life God gives us.

So, stop right now and voice a prayer of thanksgiving for your life. You are here! Then, keep this awareness close to your heart this week.

Your life is a gift. Hear me say that to your heart today. YOUR LIFE is SUCH A GIFT! I am so glad to know you. (Thanks again for allowing me in your inbox on Sunday mornings!)



People have asked me, how is it going? How is your Sabbatical time treating you? Are you going nuts not officially working? Well, I have to say though there have been several rocky moments of "oh my goodness, I can't do this. I need to work!" most of all it has been wonderful. Oklahoma City hasn't killed me yet either . . . I am breathing in deeply, deeper than I have in years on the plains. I am learning much about myself, God and what spiritual practice is all over again. I am loving spending more time with my husband.

I've been collecting quotes and thoughts of mine as I think of them and posting them on twitter. I thought I'd share them as a litany here.

“Sabbath is about the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption” ― Walter Brueggemann

Life is not about what you do. It is about who you are.

It is hard to be silent. It is very very hard. But I want to try it. I want to really do Sabbath.

Sabbath means your life is more private. That's ok. The good reflections and insights often come when you are quiet and alone.

Sabbath is breathing deeply into all will be well, all matter of things will be well. (Thanks, Julia for this).

When partaking of Sabbath time, days on calendar don't matter and sometimes you book a flight for the wrong week and have to stand in line for hours to change your ticket. Oh, well.

Sabbath doesn't change who we are. It reminds us whose we are.

Sabbath is not bring afraid of being alone. You can be alone and not lonely.

“If busyness can become a kind of violence, we do not have to stretch our perception far to see Sabbath can invite a healing" -Wayne Muller

Sabbath is thinking you are writing for fun and drafting out a new chapter for your book long project. Inspiration finds you when you least expect. Productivity is not something to be worried about. It comes in its own time.

A gift of Sabbath is contentment. I don't know the future but don't have to.

God gives us everything we need as we rest.

We can not know God unless we know ourselves. In sitting with ourself long enough to listen, we hear God.

"Caught up in our own busyness running from one crisis to next looks less like loving God and more like trying to become one" - Phileena Heuertz

Sabbath is good. It is really good for the soul.

1. Best piece of advice  I ever got about becoming an adult was- "Make good friends and keep them."

I ran across this quote last week from Anne Lamott and posted it on Facebook. Seems to be appropriate to share here too: “It's funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools - friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty - and said 'do the best you can with these, they will have to do'. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”

2. In the same way, I recently heard Oprah say recently something to this effect "Some people don't have the oxygen to make up life's mountains with you." Some friends are just for a season. They don't have the oxygen to climb with you, and to make them feel bad about this is not fair to either of you. Keep climbing beside those who do. You might have to make new friends. You might need to rediscover friends from long ago,  but it is all good. The climbing partners are there. Keep your eyes open.

3. There's always time for relationship surprises. Henri Nouwen wrote of a now-famous conversation which helped him think about this concept: “While visiting the  University of Notre Dame, where I had been a teacher for a few years, I met an older experienced professor who had spent most of his life there. And while we strolled over the beautiful campus, he said with a certain melancholy in his voice, "You know . . . my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work." Maybe that phone call or email or visit that you didn't expect today could be in fact your greatest gift to give the world today . . .  something for all of us to think about.

4. Friends can be the family we most need. I give thanks this week for one of my dearest friends, Kristina whom spent a lot of time this week visiting DC with her husband and daughter. Somethings never change like the fact that folks either think we're related or they mistake us for one another from a distance. It was fun to be called, "Kristina" this week again when a church member couldn't tell us a part. And to finish each other's sentences!

5.  To love someone, though is not to cling to them. Can I say how much I have loved the book, Awareness by Anthony de Mello. It's a text that I know is not new to the world (was published in 1990) but it has been the gift that has kept on giving to my life in the past month. Every morning de Mello and I have a date and it's wonderful! And he writes this: “Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.”

6. To love someone, is also to hold them close in committment. One of my favorite quotes about this, I blogged about this over a year ago, here.

7.  "You can only be as close to the heart of God as you allow your heart to be to others." A spiritual director imparted this wisdom to me years ago. It was a season of my life when I was wrestling with how much time I spent studying for school and how much time I allowed my daily patterns to be spent with a group of people I was growing very close to. Her words encouraged me that friendship is as much of a spiritual discipline as is prayer, quiet, service, etc.

8. Can pastors be friends with parishioners? Such is a question that is frequent discussed in my clergy circles. Most of my colleagues seem to have a different opinion about it usually based on their personality, family situation and church size. I've come to believe that while maintaining healthy boundaries is appropriate, it's a decision that everyone has to make for themselves. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

9. Friends are those who walk beside us and love giving the good gift of silence. Sometimes there are no words for the grossness of life that we are asked to walk through with each other.

And because one can't get enough of Henri Nouwen on this topic, here's another quote of his that I adore: "“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” from The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

10. True friends are those whom you tell the same story to at least 10 times knowing that when you need to tell the same story over for the 11th re-telling they'll be around to hear it then too. Who says stories only need to be heard once? Thank goodness there are those who can hear us into understanding!

Here's to hoping your life is filled with some moments to share today with those whom you call friends!