Thursday, February 23, 2012


Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me

- Psalm 51:11

This is the scripture reference for today’s meditation in from Ashes to Hope, a book of meditations for Lent that I picked up at church the other day. This Psalm is thought to have been written by King David, showing his repentance for his adultery with Bathsheba and for arranging the death of her husband. While the message that God forgives us our sins is a good one, there was another quote in the piece from Augustine that really grabbed me: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”

Think about that for a minute. If you’re anything like me, you have what my Aunt Kate refers to as The Imposter Syndrome. I repeatedly introduce myself to people that I see only once in awhile because I can’t imagine that they’d remember me. I feel disconnected and irrelevant daily. I’ve never felt particularly beautiful (except on my wedding day), and I constantly feel like I don’t fit in.

I’m not saying this to fish for compliments or sympathy – I know that all of this is self-imposed, and no one except me can make me feel any particular way.

Interestingly enough, with the exception of time that I’m with my family and a few really special friends, the only place I don’t feel these stupid, negative feelings is at church. I love the things that I get to do at church. I get to do things that I’m good at. I work with the teens, I read the lessons, I play the bells, I get to see friends who don’t really know the Imposter me. They know who I hope is the real me.

Imagine how amazing it would be if I could remember what Augustine said outside of the safe walls of St. Martin in the Fields. I would never be an imposter because I’d always know I was loved as if I was the only one. And because I knew that I was the recipient of that type of love, I’d do all I could to deserve it.

A very smart woman I know made the point last Sunday that “God doesn’t move, we move.” When I feel the Imposter, I’ve moved. Put these two points together and I have a God that patiently waits to show me that He loves me as if I was the only one. All I have to do is move back into that thin place where I can see it, remember it, feel it.

So create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, so I can find that thin place wherever I am.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is It Time for a Mid-Life Crisis?

I’m thinking about having a mid-life crisis. Either that, or I’m going through menopause, but a mid-life crisis sounds like more fun, so I’m going to go with that. I sent a text to Hannah telling her this, and her suggestions were to buy her an expensive car (actually she said “buy your favorite daughter a car, so she could have meant either herself or Sara – I’ve never told them which is my favorite) and/or fainting goats. She also suggested dyeing my hair blue. None of these things actually peaked my interest, although fainting goats would be kind of fun, so I’m now pondering what other things I could do.

I don’t want to make any major changes because change stresses me out. So don’t expect me to announce an “Eat, Pray, Love” kind of sojourn. And I don’t have any big money to spend, so no expensive car for me either, and major home renovations are out of the question as well.

So let’s see. I’ll make a sort of bucket list – and I’ll assume that I’ll have some money, but not tons of it. The list is in no particular order.

1. Take a writing class, finish my book, and therefore become a bestselling author (I can dream, can’t I?)

2. Learn how to be a midwife – I think delivering babies would be fun.

3. Walk 60 miles – oh, wait – I’m already planning on doing that. I signed up for the 3-Day Walk in October.

4. Exercise more. See #3 to realize that if I plan to do the walk, I’ll have to exercise more to get ready.

5. Take piano lessons

6. Hike some of the Appalachian Trail. I actually have a friend who might be willing to take me.

7. Skydive

8. Take acting classes

9. Volunteer at a pet shelter

10. Go back to Paris

11. Take the kids on an African safari (not to hunt of course, just to take pictures)

12. Open a restaurant franchise

13. Go back to school and get my teaching certificate and teach high school English

14. Take a cooking class

15. Learn how to do some kind of craft

16. Paint my kitchen

17. Re-do my bedroom

18. Landscape my back yard (#16, 17 and 18 assume I don’t have to work and can focus on projects like this any time and not just on the weekends). The neighbors would probably appreciate me doing the front yard as well.

19. Take an Outward Bound course

20. Ride the best roller coasters in the country

Most of these things actually seem possible - except maybe the craft thing - I'm not really good with my hands! I’m open to other suggestions though!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Twice Over!

Two of the most influential women in my life have birthdays this weekend. Jeanie’s was yesterday (she’s my wonderful, evil step-mother) and Bonney’s is today (she’s my awesome sister-in-law).

As I was pondering what to write about them, I thought about the concept of God Bearers. In old church theology, God Bearer refers to Mary, who actually “bore” Jesus in her womb, but it also can refer to any ordinary thing or person who brings God to us – not always in big ways, but also in small ones too. Both of these beautiful, ordinary women have been God bearers to me throughout the time that I’ve known them.

Bonney has a fierce faith, and through the course of our relationship she’s been a prayer warrior for me and an ear when I need a friend, but also someone who will make me admit the truth of my own shortcomings – if not to her then at least to God. We see God in all sorts of things if we just look, and I see Him in Bonney’s friendship, humor and compassion. She’s funny, warm, loving, focused, hard-working and faithful.  And I hope to be like her some day.

Jeanie has a quieter faith. What I’ve learned from Jeanie is that the things that are valuable are not things we can touch and hold. The valuable things are time with those we love, taking care of those who have less than we do, being careful with the earth and being thankful for those things we are given. God shines through Jeanie as she lives her life focusing on these treasures. She loves me more than I could have ever hoped someone who didn’t actually give birth to me could, and I am so thankful for her presence in my life and the life of my family. Every time she introduces me to someone new as “our daughter” I know that God has given me the blessing of not just one mother who loves me, but two.

So happy birthday to both of these remarkable women, a mother and a sister. I’m so blessed to have you both in my life, and I love you!

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Sad Goodbye

I met my future in-laws about three months after Rick and I started dating. I was nervous, of course. I was nervous, partly because Rick was very close to his parents. That was one of the things that attracted me most to him – his relationship with his parents and his sister. It was important to me - that closeness - and I didn’t want to be in the way or, on the other hand, excluded.

My fears were all for naught. Rick’s parents treated me like I was a member of the family from the moment they met me. Something I have always been grateful for. I was especially taken with Efrain, Rick’s father. It was Thanksgiving, and he came to Rick’s house bearing a large jar of pico de gallo that he had made (one of his specialties), and I attacked that jar with relish. Efrain made fun of me mercilessly, which I enjoyed immensely.

The next time I saw them was the next month at Christmas when Rick and I announced that we were getting married the next Thanksgiving. Again, the reception was as warm as I could have ever hoped for. And it just got better from there.

Dad was an interesting man. Born in Eagle Pass, Texas, he grew up in a small, tight knit community with lots of family around.  He was in the military, once in the South Pacific when he was younger, before getting married, and again when he got called into active duty in the Air Force in the 1960s. After his service was done, they stayed in Dover, Delaware and he taught at the college there and finally settled into a job with the state. He loved to tell stories about all of the things he had experienced, and I loved listening to them.

Efrain was a man with a servant heart. He was a very faithful man, and helped anyone he could, whenever he could. He loved meeting new people, and I don’t think he ever met anyone with whom he couldn’t share a story or two. He took great care of his family and friends without a second thought. Always. He was a devoted grandfather and his grandchildren are better people for having had him in their lives. He was quick with a joke, or a laugh, and filled with the joy of just being around his family, which in turn filled us with joy.

My memories of him are full of laughter and smiles, loving embraces and long talks. He loved his wife, he loved his kids, he loved his grandchildren, and he loved me. And that was a gift for which I’m eternally thankful.

Efrain passed away on Wednesday. He leaves behind a family that was so blessed by his presence, and we will surely miss him. But Heaven got a new angel, and I know they’re so happy to have him. I hope his meeting with God was one of light, comfort and joy. One day we’ll all see him again, and that day will be one of the most joyful days I can imagine. I wish him peace and joy, and I hope he looks down on us and knows that we all loved him with all of our hearts.

Dad, thank you for being the best father-in-law I could have ever wished for. I love you, and I will miss you.