Be our guest: A top 3

We are thrilled to have guests at “The Parsonage”!  My parents arrived late afternoon yesterday and are with us through tomorrow early afternoon.  We’d love for them to be able to stay for church, but as my dad just moved to a new church it’s still a little early for him to take off a Sunday.  Still having Bill and Sue visit for even a quick trip is a real treat!  [smile]

I only have time for a quick post so I thought I would list the top 3 best things about having weekend guests:

  • #3:  The house is super clean.  Even though we’ve not completely finished decorating, I wanted to present our new home in the best possible light to my parents so we spent yesterday cleaning top to bottom.  I love waking up in our clean house and knowing I don’t have think about cleaning anything for a few days.
  • #2:  We get to be tour guides and tourists in our own town.  I love the opportunity visitors provide to drive around and explore where I live.
  • #1: Finally, I love getting to have real, in person conversations with people I love.  The telephone is a marvelous invention, but nothing beats a conversation across the table with someone.  Plus actually being together means I get plenty of good hugs from Mama and Daddy.

Gosh I miss living closer to my parents, but I also love having a house they can now visit.

-Margaret

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Growing in Gratitude: Running Partners

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Now that the transitions of life have settled down a bit we started a jogging routine with the help of the “Get Running” app.  Essentially it’s a guide like Couch to 5K.  We have a goal set to be able to run in the Apple Festival 5K in October and slowly but surely we are working up to it. [smile]

After our run today, we sat on the back porch for a few moments of devotional and silent prayer.  We started with reading from Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill.  Psalm 1, the one we read today, seemed particularly appropriate for the state of post run bliss in which we were basking in at the moment. The psalmist writes:

Blessed are those who walk [or run] hand in hand with goodness, who stand beside virtue, who sit in the seat of truth; for their delight is in the Spirit of Love, and in Love’s heart they dwell day and night.

I’ve tried building a running routine before, but it never really took.  This time running with Caleb I feel like its probably something I can stick with.  Caleb ran cross country during high school, but to say I’ve never really been a fan of running is an understatement.  Still working some exercise routine into our lives is a must and jogging has the added benefit of getting to know our neighborhood and our neighbors better.  I’m learning to enjoy the process but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel like cursing a blue streak while running up that final hill on our way back to our house.  [smile]  Tackling the task of running together is what’s been making all the difference.  I love the quiet conversations that we can have during our running and having a running partner to push me through the last running interval or up that last hill makes each task a little more bearable.

Partnership is so essential to cultivating a rich spiritual life as well.  Together with my family, with my friends, with Caleb, and with our church I am challenged to think more deeply and live into the questions that arise on the journey toward discovering who God is, who I am in relationship, and what is the call on my life.  Running and walking together I am learning what it means to really be alive.  What a blessing!

Today I am thankful for running partners.

What are you grateful for?

By way of a happy coincidence, my mom forwarded me this illustration by StoryPeople today.  Hope you enjoy

Run Proud by StoryPeople

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Little Ones

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

With the big announcement from Clarence House yesterday that the newest royal had been born and with VBS (Vacation Bible School) in full force at “The Church,” I am overwhelmed this week with gratitude for the raw honesty, exuberant joy, and boundless energy of children. [smile]

It has been years since I’ve helped with a vacation Bible school and I’d forgotten what a wonderful organized chaos it is.  Let’s be honest if you have ever participated in VBS you know that no matter how well it is planned ultimately every VBS is an experiment in letting the children take over the church and boy if it isn’t fun, except for maybe that one VBS song that gets stuck in your head for the next month! [smile] In the process, we, the adult leaders, can only hope that the children learn as much as we are.  Reliving the Bible stories at VBS through the inquisitive minds of children is a revelation of God’s grace and a lesson in cultivating a practice thoughtful curiosity that makes faith come alive.

Today I am thankful for little ones.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

 

Growing in Gratitude: Reminders

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

I’ve been trying to think about what to write today, but I have felt distracted.  A friend of mine from college has been on my mind this weekend.  Well she has been in my thoughts and prayers for a while, but particularly this weekend.  I haven’t seen her in several years, but through the wonders of Facebook I have been able to stay connected enough to watch her beautiful family grow and her life to unfold.  [smile] Within the last year, she has experienced a very severe health crisis and recently shared that she is reaching the end of possible treatments for her illness.  Faced with this scary news, my friend wrote an inspiring reflection about her desire to celebrate life with her family, to continue fighting her illness, and most importantly to trust that God is working.  Her choice to move forward into this future which she would not have chosen trusting that God is walking with her has served as a particularly poignant reminder for me this weekend of the importance of living fully into the present God has given us.

Today I am thankful for this reminder that we have been gifted with one holy and precious life.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Home

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

Saturday evening we returned “home” to my parents’ new parsonage.  It seems strange to call this place home from the very beginning because everything is all so new and very different.  For the first time, none of my “stuff” was moved in with the rest of the family’s and my room will be more of a guest room than a place I’ll be living in for an extended period of time.

Home has been on my mind a lot lately because of all the changes happening with my parents and now going on the sixth week of being without a house of our own.  What is home?  Where is home?  Growing up as a preacher’s kid has prepared me to think about home in ways that are beyond location.  When it came time for a move during my childhood, we would wake up in one house/home one morning and go to sleep in a new house/home that night.  Most if not all the furniture would stay with the house and we’d come in to just add our own little touches.  Because parsonages are owned by churches for years, I’ve run into many other preacher’s kids who grew up in the same houses I did.  It’s an elite club. [smile]

One big moving day… that’s how the Methodists do it.  [smile]  I’ve never thought about how odd that system really is until I have found myself on the brink of my first move with my own nuclear family.  I’m excited, but also feel very aware that part of the process of moving in will be creating for us the sense of being at home in a place where we will be creating our family history.  Focusing on the present moment of being together in this place will be key.  Home is not the place.  Home is the life together.  So while I long for a house to begin to fill with our love and our stuff [smile], I am trying to remember we have never been home-less.  Wherever we share the activity of the day and wherever we lay down our head that night is our home and we are so blessed.

Today I am thankful for home in its many forms.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Commitment and Connection

Growing in Gratitude: A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth! Serve the Lord with a glad heart! Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying). Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible. Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

We woke up this morning in Lake Junaluska, aka Mecca of Methodism in North Carolina. [smile] We are here to participate in our Annual Conference and to celebrate the wedding of our dear friends, Nickie and Christian. It is such a blessing to be in this thin place where the Spirit feels so near.

I love a day that starts with a wedding. [smile] I find weddings to be such a powerful sign of hope. It is a joy to share in this public affirmation of the love and commitment of two persons. Yesterday’s wedding was intimate and in the best way possible an authentic celebration of the lives of our friends. Nickie’s family heritage is Mexican American and Irish and parts of the ceremony reflected these traditions. I particularly found beautiful the tradition of “arras.” The bride and groom were given bags of coins symbolic of virtues and blessings by their mothers. They then combined their “wealth” in a bowl as a symbol of their commitment to journeying through life together.

Today I am thankful for commitment.

Yesterday evening Annual Conference began with the opening worship. I realize this will sound odd for a PK, but I feel a bit like this is my first ever experience of conferencing on the annual conference level. Whenever we joined my dad for conference in my childhood we spent most of the time in the hotel pool and missed out on the actual activity of conferencing. [smile] Given my general inexperience and being with a new conference altogether I was happily surprised to feel a strong connection already with the community gathered in worship. Their celebration was my celebration too and the visioning we were encouraged to give ourselves over to this week felt shared too. I’m probably revealing my “methodorkiness” by feeling this way but hey if you can’t beat them join them. [smile]

Today I am thankful for connection.

What are you grateful for?

– Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Expectations

Growing in Gratitude:  A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth!  Serve the Lord with a glad heart!  Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying).  Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible.  Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

While packing up the study last week, my mother ran across an old book she’d found years ago at a used book store called The Pastor’s Wife.  It’s written by Mrs. Carolyn P. Blackwood, a minister’s wife from Princeton, NJ and published in 1950.  I vaguely remember when my mother bought this book.  The whole concept- a serious how to guide for preacher’s wives -made her laugh since she felt like in some ways she’d thrown out “the book” through her many years of discerning how her call and my dad’s vocation aligned.  [smile]  When she rediscovered it on the book shelves, she decided to pass it along to me to enjoy as I begin to negotiate the same waters very soon.

I’ve started reading bits and pieces just for fun and for the anthropological curiosity of the history of the role I’m about to take on. The introduction by the Rev. Blackwood provides a good glimpse into the scope of his wife’s book:

This book deals with the mistress of the manse in a church of average size, or smaller.  The author views her as a full-time partner in the most important work on earth, and as largely responsible for her husband’s success or failure.  Kindly and clearly these chapters discuss her problems and difficulties.  Hence the volume will appeal to countless good women out on the field, and younger ones with eyes turned that way.

It’s hard not to smile when I think about how I’m one of those “younger ones with eyes turned that way.” [smile] Clearly The Pastor’s Wife  was written in a very different age, but even so a book like this helpfully brings forth the idea of expectations.  Each of the chapters examines a different expectation:  “As Her Husband’s Helper;” “As a Financier;” As a Worker with Women;” “As a Subject of Criticism;” “As a Friend to Everyone;” “As a Community Force;” and “As an Uncrowned Queen.”  So maybe society’s expectations for who a pastor’s wife will be has changed a bit, but that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared entirely.  [smile]

Frankly knowing that some people will expect me to act a certain way or participate in specific groups because of Caleb’s vocational choice sometimes freaks me out.  But… expectations are a part of life together- not just the small life together of our marriage, but the grand life together of living in this world.  So lately when I begin to “freak out” about the prospect of taking on this role, I’ve tried to remind myself that expectations can be good.  Expectations can be opportunities that provide spaces to explore something new both for the expector and the expectee. [smile]  At least that’s how I’m choosing to see them today.

Today I am thankful for expectations.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret