Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This past Sunday, Ben and I announced to Good Shepherd UMC that we'll be leaving to go to full time ministry with The Vine as of July 1, 2013. We are excited to embark on this "new" adventure with God though we are also sad to leave behind working with the congregation in a pastoral capacity. (If you want to read the announcement we e-mailed to our folks, you can find it here.

What excites me the most is that we have this splendid opportunity to go "all in". For me, this is "make it or break it" territory. We have this incredible chance to really see what God can do with us being single-minded and focused.

We've got some funding (for a little while). We've got some passionate people gathered around us. We've been itching for the chance to get to this point for a long time now - not to say that there weren't good reasons for waiting until this point. There have been a number of timing challenges that taught me patience and trust in God since we've landed here in Haverhill. That being said, this change will bring about significant changes in the way of life that Ben and I will be living - changes that, all in all, will be good for us and good for The Vine.

So this bumps up the house hunt (we really don't want to be doing incarnational ministry underneath a bridge). It also adds a few things to our plate about how we transition well and set Good Shepherd up for success with whomever their new pastor will be. We're also undergoing a shift in structure with The Vine as we focus more on creating micro-missional communities that reach out into specific neighborhoods or population groups. There's enough work on our plate for a year that will be crammed into less than six months. Add to the mix the mission trip to Guatemala, and yeah...I'll be lucky if I'm not carted away on a stretcher come the end of June.

It's all good though. That's the wonderful thing.

Remind me of that when in a couple months I start panicking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Office Hours

One thing that I have been very bad at that many of my colleagues in ministry do on a regular basis is: have office hours - times when they are available specifically for conversation and counseling and the like. These office hours take place in a variety of settings - some at a church office, some in coffee shops or bookstores, others in parks or street corners (certainly when it is warmer out!). 

So today I decided that instead of working out of the house, as is my usual pattern, I would work at Wicked Big Cafe downtown. I was meeting someone there for coffee later in the afternoon before going to volunteer at Emmaus later in the evening. Yay me for getting out of the house! I posted a quick update on Facebook to invite people to drop by if they wanted to chat or hang out. 

I want to do this more regularly. It's good to get out, to get regrounded in the community, to smell the fresh coffee and watch the people walk in and out and absorb the atmosphere of a place. It's been far too long since I've made this a regular part of my routine. It's important for those of us who love the places we live and for those of us seeking to make God's dream real for a place to be out in it on a regular basis -- at different times and places, encountering the people whose stories make up the narrative of the place. 

I guess in a sense, I have office hours all the time -- when I'm out walking the dog, when I'm sitting in the cafe with a good book or a good friend, when I'm behind the counter at Mitch's place serving the evening meal. Every conversation is an opportunity for encounter and transformation -- not just for the other person, but for me as well.

Just some quick Wednesday afternoon thoughts for you all.  I'm late for Emmaus. Catch you later!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Being in Mission

I'm getting ready to go on a mission trip this Spring - the first international mission trip I have ever been on. I'll be going with a group from my denomination to Guatemala to help an organization called Project Salud Y Paz. Salud y Paz operates health and dental clinics that primarily serve the Mayan population in Guatemala - a population that is extremely impoverished.

Grace, a woman connected with The Vine, will be coming too.

There's lots to do to get ready - update my passport, get vaccinations (no fun!), and we have some reading to do. I'm tackling A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez.

So - look forward to me writing some thoughts about the book, and when I'm there, writing about my experience in Guatemala!

If you want to help get me (and Grace!) there - you can do so here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Last Day of Vacation

I always end vacation with this vow to do more of "x" or less of "y". This time, I'm trying to resist the urge (with the exception of blogging a bit more frequently...and maybe getting to the gym more often).

I find vacation generally helpful for starting new routines or for strengthening already established practices. I know there are things that I'm pretty terrible at (time management and the inability to say "no" being two of the top ones), but coming back from vacation always seems like a wonderful opportunity to press the reset button - to take back control of my schedule, to plan ahead, to work and live at a sustainable pace of life.

But I also think it's important to be able to show grace to yourself, because a lot of times what creates the angst is the "shoulds" -- I should be eating better, I should be praying more, I should be wasting less time, etc - and all you end up doing is putting pressure on yourself for a goal that you yourself set in the first place.

My hope as I enter back into "reality" is this: that I accept each day as a gift and let go of the need to have some sort of ideal schedule or pace, but rather that I learn to follow the rhythm that each day brings...knowing that within each day there is a time to rest and a time to work and a time to play.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Blog Overhaul. Again.

Every year I get this same itch: to start writing again and put my thoughts out there on a regular basis. Problem is, I never seem to carve out the space to do it unless I'm on vacation, and I never seem to know quite what to write about. Should I focus more on the ins and outs of planting a new community? Should I talk more about the day-to-day living stuff? Should I pick a theme like cooking or knitting and make myself accountable to you all, dear readers, for actually completing the various craft projects I set out to do? Post a picture of something interesting every day? So many choices.

For the longest time, the tag-line of this blog has been "theological musings, random observations, and everything in-between."  That pretty much covers most of what my journey has been about in going on to perfection (in the good Wesleyan sense!). Maybe here is the space to help best make sense of the day to day stuff in light of the bigger picture stuff - life and God and creation and all that jazz.

So here's to another creative outlet (like I really need one). I promise I'll be better about regular updates!