Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This morning as I prayed for a loved one in the hospital I thought of all the women in similar circumstances but without health insurance, without the best doctors, without access to health care of any kind and prayed for them too.  As I prayed, I thanked God that I was not God to hear and love all of those women, their children, and all the people of the world frightened, in pain, alone, lost, and suffering and being asked to do something about it.  It is difficult enough to care for the people in my small circle, to have my heart break over my three girls.  I can't imagine the difficulty in loving and caring and having my heart broken again and again for all of God's children--past, present, and those to come.

As I considered those other women without health care or limited care, with worries not only of their bodies and children but of the finances to cover the expense of doctors, hospitals, and the children they await, I thought....there is nothing I can do about that and was awash with a sense of relief.  Perhaps that is the most heart breaking part of all--that we live this lie.  This lie that we are helpless to do anything for anyone else.  I'd guess this is what pains God most of all.  I can't help but think that there are little  and big things that I can do to help other women without access to health care or with limited funds to afford it.  I can't fix it.  I'm no doctor so I can't go on some grand mission trip and provide care directly.  But I can donate to fund those who do.  I can vote for people who see health care for all as a priority, and there must be more I can do--I just haven't taken the time to figure it out.

I am reminded of Gandhi this morning, "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problem."

May this day we do what we can, no matter how big or small, and instead of leaving it to God to figure out and do something about it, may we.  Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Good-bye Aunt Susie

My mom called early this morning, one of those calls you know is no good.  It scared me because she recently had her right knee replaced.  I was worried she had fallen but she said she was fine.  It was her sister, my notorious Aunt Susie.  A few years back she amazingly survived her abdominal aorta rupturing.  Apparently it finally caught up to her.

People said a lot of things about Susie, she was often the talk of the town.  I don't remember much of her when I was little but I know we were close, I remember loving her and my cousin Doug.  There's plenty of pictures to prove it.  Once when I was probably 4 or 5, Susie took Doug and I to get our pictures taken.  Doug was in a little suit and I in a pretty pink dress with white gloves and matching white purse.  It was supposed to be just Doug and I but the photographer insisted that our mom take a few with us.  Ooh, my mom still hates those pictures and the idea that the photographer thought she was my mother.  

My mom has never liked to talk about her past, nor about her relationships.  But from what I can piece together, I'm sure Susie and my mom had been close.  They've had one of those relationships in which you love and hate the other sometimes all at the same time.  My mom would hate me to say it but there were times I'm pretty sure she was jealous of Susie.  Susie did whatever she wanted without regards to what anyone else thought.  She had a tough shell but I'm pretty sure it was simply to protect her fragile and caring interior that she didn't often let anyone see.

Not long after those pictures Susie took Doug and moved to Oklahoma.  To live with a black man and run a bar off a reservation.  The scandal rocked our family.  My grandmother refused to speak or talk of Susie.  She was just wiped out of our lives until my grandmother died.  Susie came back when Grandma died.  She said that Grandma appeared to her at the foot of her bed the night before she got the call, as far as Susie was concerned they had set things right.  

Susie was a breath of excitement.  She was raucous and bawdy, she cussed, she knew magic tricks, she even told dirty jokes and would then wink at me.  I loved her.  My mom put up with her.  Susie and Doug moved in with us.  I think my mom was jealous because of how much I looked up to her.  I loved her wildness, her brazenness, her fearlessness.  I still do.

Nearly a month after Doug graduated from high school he died in a car accident.  It rocked Susie's world, it rocked all our worlds.  The next spring I confided to Susie that I was pregnant.  I was only 16.  I planned to put the child up for adoption, and keep it a secret.  She wanted, she expected me to give her my baby.  When I said no, she was furious.  She betrayed my trust and told my father and step-mother and the rest of the family.   She threatened me, she said horrible things about my mother and the father of the baby.  We stopped speaking.

A few years later, while in college, I wanted to go home for Christmas.  I heard that it was to be at the family restaurant that had become hers.  Naively, I wrote her a lengthy letter apologizing and asking her to apologize as well so that we could make amends.  She didn't  respond as I had anticipated.  She wrote a hateful awful letter in response.  My roommates took it from me as they found me crying over it.  They refused to let me read it in its entirety.  Instead of reading the rest of it I burned it.

We didn't speak or see each other for 20+ years.

At my grandfather's 80th birthday party, I walked in and she said "Well, here's that little bitch, Crystal."  My husband was in shock but after about 20 minutes I realized, I remembered that was a term of endearment from her.  All the rest was in the past.  I won't say I was pleased but it was better than carrying all the past hurts and heartaches.  I let it go, quickly I remembered why I loved her.  She was still bawdy and raucous, loud and crude, brazen and fearless.  I had taken in some of that myself.  She still winked at me and smiled.

I'm glad for the time we had when her abdominal aorta ruptured.  We truly made amends.  I spent days in the hospital waiting for her to be cleared to go home.  We talked.  She scared my girls with her roughness and directness.  I simply smiled and loved her.  We even talked about Doug.  I told her I'd take care of his photo albums for her,she didn't know who would want them.  I did.  I do.  I guess I should let someone else know that.  

My mom can't ride in a car for 12+ hours, I can't afford the trip.  So this is my good-bye.  

Good-bye Susie, I love you.  Give Doug, Grandma and Grandpa a big hug for me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Warning: Complex Migraine Whine

You've been warned and yet you're still reading.  Perhaps most shocking is that I continue to write. 

Yesterday I woke up feeling mostly fine, except for one tale-tell sign, my peripheral vision was all jacked up out of my right eye.  Some areas just disappeared completely.  I took a deep breath, attempted to calm myself, and ignore it.  I've experienced these things before and they are never good.  Yesterday was by far the worst.  After about 10 minutes of getting ready for church, I knew I'd hit the point of no return.  I took out my contacts, told Joel we weren't going, and laid down.  The numbing and tingling in my right arm and the right side of my face began.  The pain hadn't quite hit yet but I knew it was coming.  I can't pinpoint it right now but something scared me.  I knew this was a migraine, I've had them before but something scared me.  I went to talk to Joel but the words that had formed in my head were not coming out.  My mouth was not cooperating.  At All.  I tried to stay strong, telling myself it was just a migraine but I was terrified.  I laid face first on my bed and cried.  Joel came in and told me to smile.  I could feel that it wasn't right.  He had me lift both my arms into the air.  Thankfully that was no big deal.  We got my things together and Joel took me to the ER.  He was terrified, as was I.  I kept telling myself, Joel, and then the triage nurse that I was sure this was just a migraine.  Thanks be to God it was.  A "complex migraine." 

Complex migraines mimic the signs of stroke.  From what the doctors said and what I've read online no one really knows anything.  I've had two before. Both times I was on oral contraceptives and after the second episode I swore them off for ever.  Yesterday's episode was easily the most severe and the pain has continued through the night and this morning.  Thankfully, it's more like a headache than migraine but my head still throbs.  The part that is driving me crazy is not knowing, not even having a clue what brought this damn thing on.  It's not like I can prevent it if I can't anticipate it.

So that's my bitch session for the morning.  I realize this is still public but it's not as public as Facebook and frankly, I just needed to engage in some verbal diarrhea.

If you are familiar with complex migraines and/or Imatrex please comment--I'd like to hear your story and experience.  I tried Imatrex yesterday to help with the pain but hated how heavy and just weird it made me feel.  I slept through much of it but it wasn't always possible.  This morning I'm taking a pass on the Imatrex and using coffee and Excedrin, so far it still hurts but I've got kids to take to school and a full day--sleeping another day away doesn't seem like an option.  That said, if the pain worsens I'll just give up.  I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Genesis 8:20-22

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelt the pleasing odour, the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.
As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
shall not cease.’

The story of Noah and the Ark is common to most: God was disgusted by humanity and our cruelties and sinfulness so God set to destroy the earth with a flood, saving this one family and two of each kind of creature, and God made a sign and promise with a rainbow that never again would God destroy the earth and it's creatures. This last bit of the story is especially telling, God realizes that the human heart contains evil within it. At our creation God decreed us good, very good. Yet, after the flood, after God's anger disipated there was a realization that we were not entirely pure of heart, that a seed of brokeness exists within us. Despite this brokenness, this seed of evil God is still apologetic. It is as though God experiences a new realization that despite our brokeness God still loves us.

My biggest fear used to be that God was disgusted with us and had walked away from creation. A dose of the nightly news with all it's violence and tragedies can easily lead one to wonder where God is in the midst of this crazy world. The news rarely covers moments of grace, rarely do they feature people who reach out in love and earnestness, helping others when they have little to nothing themselves. The news does not cover grace, but we who profess to follow the Christ, we must not only keep our eyes watching for moments of grace but we get to participate in grace, we get to be the evidence that God has not left the planet.

Every time I witness love in action, I remember the promise of the rainbow--God is not finished with us yet. Thanks be to God!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mark 1:9-11

Mark 1:9-11
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

I was baptized twice.  Baptized a second time by a United Methodist preacher!  (UMC doctrine states that one only needs to be baptized once because God is the one at work in the moment of baptism and hence it doesn't need to be "redone.")  I'm grateful for my Methodist pastor who saw a young girl who desperately needed the experience of baptism, one that I could remember, one in which I felt the cool water wash over my face, one in which I felt renewed.  My second baptism was an act of pastoral care, one in which I am thankful.

The funny thing was, I was disappointed because as I rose out of the water I did not hear God's voice calling out to me, "You are my daughter, my beloved; with you I am well pleased."  Nor did I feel any different.  Part of me wanted to begg Pastor Earl to do again because it didn't take, I was still me.  But I didn't, instead I put on a big smile, ate cake, and celebrated with the church ladies who'd come to watch.  Everyone was joyous and it was contagious, I forgot (mostly) about still being me and not hearing God's voice.

I've learned that Baptism is the beginning of a new life in Christ, the beginning of transformation.  Baptism is not a magic trick in which we become a new person who no longer has sinful thoughts, lust in the hearts, who is free from worldy desires.  Baptism is the moment in which God indeed says, "You are my beloved and with you I am well pleased."  Often though, it takes a while for us to hear it, to believe it.  Baptism sets us on the path of understanding just how deep and amazing God's love is.  It is one of the first steps we take rather than the end of the journey.  It was true for Jesus as well,  his baptism sets him off for a trek into the wilderness in which he is tempted--why should we be any different.

Even if you can't remember your baptism, remember that you are claimed by God, that you are the beloved and what you do with your life is a gift most pleasing to God.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rape--Past and Present

Lately there's been a lot of talk and writings about rape thanks to MO Rep Todd Akin and how he “misspoke” about the rate of pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”  It's about time we talked about rape, what it means, how it affects both women and men, and how it tears at the fabric of our society. I hope that all of this talk will lead to men, as well as women, taking a stand against rape and working to end its menacing presence in our society. I don't know how to end rape. I just know that for the sake of my daughters, for the sake of humankind, we must do our best to put a stop to the culture of rape.   We must talk about and understand how destructive rape is to the victim and stop downplaying its violence regardless of what kind of force was used. 

Rape is not a new phenomenon.  The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament of the Christian Bible) has several instances of rape.  Genesis 19 tells the story of Lot who welcomes two strangers into his home for an evening of rest and comfort.  The men of the town, afraid of the strangers, go to Lot’s house and demand that he release his guests.  They are enraged and want to put the strangers in their place by raping them. (Rape was a common form of humiliation and warfare in the Ancient Near East.)  Lot refuses to send out the strangers and instead offers up his virgin daughters.  The men refuse and just as they are about to break down Lot’s door, the strangers reveal themselves as angels blinding the men and demand Lot and his family to leave town before they wreak utter destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

A few verses later, we find Lot and his daughters cooped up in a cave fearing that they may be the last people on earth.  Lot’s virgin daughters plot to save the human race, or at least preserve their family name, by getting their father drunk and raping him.  Granted, the scriptures do not use the term rape, but our legal system would define drugging a person so that a person could have sex with someone who would otherwise not consent to sex is rape. 

As I read this scripture I couldn’t help but wonder if Rep. Todd Akin would say that Lot was “legitimately raped.”

            Rape is mentioned many more times and just as in our society sometimes it is explicit and other times it leaves us to connect the dots and requires a great deal of courage to name it rape.  The story of David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-5) is commonly referred to as adultery rather than rape.  However, there is nothing in the story to assert that Bathsheba had given consent to King David.  As with many women who’ve been raped the blame is put back on Bathsheba.  Bathsheba was beautiful, she was bathing and Kind David could see her from his roof, she was asking for it. (Often people speak as though she was bathing on a roof, but the reading states that King David was on his roof and could see her.  Most baths were not enclosed; it’s no surprise he could have spotted Bathsheba.)  King David called for Bathsheba and he “lay with her” and she became pregnant (again, according to Rep. Akin—apparently not a legitimate rape).  A woman called before the king.  Was Bathsheba’s consent even a question?  A king who would kill one of his soldiers in order to keep the soldier’s wife for himself?  No, Bathsheba’s desire or lack of wouldn’t have mattered.  I dare to call it rape.

                  A few chapters later (2 Samuel 1-22), King David’s daughter Tamar is raped by her brother, Amnon.  Amnon is in lust with his sister and his friend gives him advice on how to seduce her.  Tamar begs and pleads with him to stop but he takes her by force and then is disgusted by her (or by his own actions?) and throws her out.  Tamar is a wreck.  She tears her gown in mourning, puts ashes on her head and wails.  She is humiliated but she will not be silenced.  Another brother, Absalom, tries to console her by telling her to keep quiet, that Amnon loved her, all while hiding his anger at Amnon in his heart.  Tamar takes refuge in Absalom’s quarters and we don’t hear from her again. When King David discovers that Amnon has raped Tamar he is furious but does not punish him.  It is hauntingly familiar, is it not?  Many rape victims are believed but then asked to remain silent by someone who loves them; someone who fears that speaking out would only make matters worse.  Then there are the courageous rape victims who face their rapists in court, often tried more voraciously than their rapist, only to have the rapist receive a slap on the wrist or a light penalty.[1]

            Rape continues in the Bible as it continues in the present.  Rape continues to eat away at the psyches of the survivors as well as the rapists.  We must do better than Absalom, King David, and the Church; we must acknowledge the pain and anguish, the violence in the act of rape itself.  We must not be silent about the reality of rape in our world.  We must talk about it openly.  We cannot shy away from the harsh realities that every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted and that 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.  We must tend to the survivors of rape and help them to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  We must hear their stories with empathy and compassion.  We must punish the rapists and teach them that their victims are more than conquests, more than rags to be used at their disposal, we must teach them to respect all humans regardless of their gender.  We must teach our children to honor their bodies, honor the people around them, and to understand that sex is something to be cherished and enjoyed consensually with eyes wide open.




[1]               Even when the rape is acknowledged, legitimized, the penalty is light—the average sentence for convicted rapists was 11.8 years, while the actual time served was 5.4 years.  Furthermore, only two-thirds of convicted rape defendants receive a prison sentence, while those who receive a local jail sentence average eight months in jail with less than 6 years of probation. Statistics taken from the Bureau of Justice at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/PSATSFV.PDF and the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse at http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/sexoff/sexoff.html)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Genesis 3:1-7

Genesis 3:1-7
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat from any tree in the garden”?’The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.” But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die;for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

From the very beginning we humans were not content with being creatures, being part of God's creation. No, we wanted more, we wanted to be more like God, we wanted to be gods. Theologians have pondered and argued across the ages--what was it about the fruit of that tree in Eden? Why would God place it in the center and then tell Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit. As any parent knows this is a sure fire way to get a child to eat such fruit. Perhaps the fall, Adam and Eve's disobedience was planned from the start. Or perhaps God intended Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit but not yet, after all they were new beings, still infants, still children. Or perhaps our original sin was not really disobedience, rather the desire to be a god, rather than rejoicing in being creatures, in being a part of creation, rather than being content with what and who we are, who God created us to be.

For this day, just this one short day. Let us rejoice in being creatures of the Creator. Let us take comfort that we are not in charge, we do not have all the answers. Let us rejoice in knowing that all we must do is love freely just as we have been loved, regardless of our disobedience, regardless of our failures, regardless of our sin. Let us rejoice in love this one short day. Amen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday's Devo

Psalm 51:1-12
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

We've all sinned. We've all missed the mark. We've all fallen away from God. We've all done what was easy rather than what was right. Regardless of what we've done, God is there with us. God waits for us to realize our errors and to repent. Repentance is not simply saying I'm sorry, but turning and going a new way.

Today, we pray with the Psalmist for clean hearts, for God's grace to wash over and through us so that we may truly repent and go a new way. Thanks be to God that Grace allows for u-turns, left turns, and right turns. Grace heals our brokeness and guides us towards God, towards loving others, towards doing what is right no matter how impossible it may seem.

Holy and gracious God, thank for you for this day of new beginnings, ripe with your grace. Let this day not be wasted but lived for you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stuff of Nightmares

Last night I dreamt that I lived next door to the devil himself.  Not a red horned creature with a pitchfork but Satan in human form, an attractive enough fellow who wouldn't have stood out any any way, except that he was Satan with evil powers and a league of demons to do his bidding.  We lived in a duplex next door to him.  Our front porch and basement stairway paralleled his.  He had it out for me.  Constantly sending bugs, whispering threats in my ears.  At first I thought I was going crazy.  But then one day as we entered our homes, I looked over my should and saw his eyes and I knew then who he was.  Terrified, I told a friend I was living next door to Satan himself.  She didn't believe me.  She thought I had lost my mind.

At this point, he began to send his minions after me.  They looked normal enough.  One even looked a bit like Gerard Butler.  They haunted and hunted me.  I went to the church to work, doors opened on their own, the phone rang only to be answered with silence or the hum of a hoard of flies.  I began to worry that perhaps I had lost my mind. 

Then one day a little girl ran past my house with the Gerard Butler clone chasing her.  I put out my hand and she hid behind me.  The minion and I stood face to face, peering into each other's eyes until my neighbor's door slammed against the porch wall as it opened.  As my head flashed to Satan's face, the minion disappeared.  The girl was gone too.

I had been trapped.  Lured in and now Satan was calling me to his basement.  But I ran into our house, began packing our things.  The duplex crumbled around me.  Try as I might, I could not get away. Everywhere I went, he or one of his minions was there, watching, waiting.

Dreams and nightmares rarely feel as wonderful or terrifying in the daylight as they do in the dark of night.  I can still feel that suffocating fear and frustration.  

Sometimes we struggle to understand our dreams and nightmares.  We wrestle with them so we can understand what our psyche longs to tell us, to get out in the open.  There is no wrestling, no struggle.  I know precisely what my psyche longs to tell me.  

She tells me that I am not crazy.  That the small man who was previously my neighbor still haunts my family. While he is man and not demon he continues to haunt us.  He's altered my eldest's confidence in herself, made her afraid of how she appears to others.  My youngest cried as she confessed how afraid she had been--afraid that he would kidnap her eldest sister, afraid that she would "do suicide."  My middle daughter desperately misses her friends, feels lost and alone in a new place.  I am still angry that no one in power believed or thought it wise to protect my children and the others who came forward to describe his taunts and harassment.  Our lives crumbled as we stood against him.  

We left but we have not completely escaped.  We will wake up and find ourselves free.  One day it will be like a bad dream we long ago left behind for the light of day.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We're Here! Now what?

We made it!  We finally made it to Colorado!  A few times a day, it will hit me as I view the Peak while sitting on the porch or running an errand, this is not vacation...this is our new life!  Thanks be to God we are finally here!

Now what?

I've applied for a few jobs, contacted the local UMC district superintendent.  We've unpacked a few things but since we're living with the folks there's not really room for us to unpack much.  The eldest daughters will start volleyball practice on Monday.

This morning, I was considering what I should be doing with my time, besides looking for work and mumbling to myself.  Trying not to freak out that I'm living in a room packed with boxes that are difficult to navigate around.  Trying to be thankful that we are here, that we have a home when others' have been burned to the ground, when others simply don't have one or live in a disaster of one.  We truly are blessed and I do realize this.  In this midst of all the chaos and gratitude I realized that I need to get back to writing--to blogging and then back to writing daily devotionals on mailchimp.

As we settled in for our first night Joel looked at me and said, "Is the hard part over or has it just begun?"  Neither of us wanted to answer that question.  For now, I am simply thankful to be here.  To have a comfortable bed to sleep in and a lovely porch to sit and view the mountains.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Whining about leaving

My time here is drawing close.  Sunday was my final communion with our churches and I came home and moped the rest of the day.

My house is a disaster and I should be doing more to get packed but it feels overwhelming and hard.  I apologize for so much whining.  Leaving is more difficult than I imagined.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I have 5 sermons left to preach.  In 7 weeks I will no longer be Rev. HipChick, at least not officially in the UMC. 

For the past 8 years my life has been consumed by becoming and being a pastor in the UMC.  I'm leaving my churches not because they want me to leave but because my eldest daughter was being bullied at school by a teacher.  We spoke with the teacher, the principle, the superintendent, and the school board.  Our daughter was not alone, there were others.  But the school board chose to keep the teacher.  We have chosen to put our children first and leave northwest Missouri.

Thankfully, we are leaving to go home to Manitou Springs, CO.  Thankfully we have a wonderful place to go and to be near our families.  Others are stuck here to figure out how to protect their kids.

In some ways it might be easier if I had screwed up.  If I had been kicked out of my churches for something I'd done wrong.  But I'm leaving and starting all over because that's what our children need and deserve. 

But I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a bit scared, that it didn't feel as though all I've worked for has shattered.

I know better.  I know this is a fresh start.  It's exciting and scary all at once.  On one hand I'm thrilled to be returning to Colorado.  It's not exactly a bastion of progressiveness (we're not moving to Boulder after all) but compared to NW Missouri, what a breath of fresh air--literally and figuratively!

To return to the mountains, family, and old friends, that is wonderful.  The possibility of starting my own church of outcasts, rebels, and undesirables--that's good and scary stuff. 

Discerning whether or not to stay in the UMC after a crazy General Conference--not so fun.  Life is messy and chaotic and beautiful all at once.

Changes are coming soon, ready or not.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Announcement

At the end of our Palm Sunday worship I announced that our last day at Mound City would be June 24.  I can barely remember what I said.  I can't bring myself to post about it on Facebook yet. 

Our hearts are filled with both joy and sadness.  We love the people here, Mound City has been a very good place for us.  We've gone through some trials but come through them strong and supported--one can't hope for more.  As I shared with them, our best years in Missouri have been in Mound City. 

However, those good times and feeling of almost home have made us crave our real home all the more.  It is with great joy that we announced that we are moving home!  We will be moving back to Manitou Springs, CO in July!

We've waited nearly 15 years to go home and it finally feels right.  Joel has found a program to finished his teacher certification while teaching and is now searching for a teaching position.  I'm not sure what I'll be doing.  I have had a dream/vision of planting a church of misfits and outcasts since I've been in seminary.  No offense to my friends in Colorado but I think I might have the right group to get that started! 

We are taking a leap of faith and are very thankful for all our family and friends--in Colorado and in Missouri for all their love and support.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

God is so good!

We've been through some hell this past month.  Given the public nature of this blog I cannot say more at this moment.
Last week I was at my breaking point.  I longed to blog but could not. 

This week my heart is racing with excitement and joy.  The world is wide open and my heart is soaring.  It's been a long time since I've been so happy.

It's amazing how God walks with us through hell and leads us into the sunshine, the fresh breath of spring, flowers springing up, and birds singing songs of praise to their maker. 

I am a firm believer in that whatever hell we are going through God will use it for our good.  God doesn't give us/send us there but walks with us through it and makes it work for our good.

Thanks be to God!  God is so good.  God is good all the time!  All the time, God is good!

Friday, March 9, 2012

RevGal Friday 5: The Women's Edition

For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?

1. Name a woman author you very much love to read.
bell hooks a prolific writer whose work is intellectual, emotional, powerful, and inspiring; reading her work in college gave me courage to write.

2. Name a woman from the Bible with whom you would like to enjoy a nice long coffee talk.
Tamar of Genesis 38--a woman of immense courage and creativity, imagine the tales she could tell!

3. Name a famous woman from history with whom you would like to have lunch.
 Carrie A. Nation--my grandmother once told me we were related but I've never seen her name on any of Joel's family history spreadsheets. She was zealous and crazed leader of the temperance movement, for crying out loud she always had an axe on her!  perhaps Dorothy Day would be more fun!

4. Name a living famous or infamous woman with whom you would like to go out to dinner.
Christina Aguilara

5. If you could be SuperWoman (o.k., I know you already ARE) what three special powers would you like to have?  perfect recall of stuff i'd like to remember--books, articles, events, names, etc; ability to read minds, ability to fly!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How I lost my voice: step one in reclaiming it

Six months into our life in Kansas City we wanted to move home; we called our new state Misery. 

Numerous times we sought a way back to Colorado.  Once it looked like we had a chance to move to Albuquerque which would put us within a six hour drive of Joel's parents and my mom.  I was thrilled, I love New Mexico.  Nothing ever worked out.  There was always a problem and the plans never came together.

At last, we had a plan.  I quit my part time job at the college, I quite my CASA volunteer job.  I began saying good-bye to our friends in Kansas City.  The girls and I were going to move in with Joel's parents while he stayed in Kansas City and I went to school to become a massage therapist.  We'd be separated no more than six months and the final result would be that we'd all be living in Colorado together, exactly as we wanted to be.  It was scary but we were desperate.  It had been 7 years of living in Misery.

Then I attended a 40's and Under United Methodist Women's Retreat.  In a time of contemplative prayer, I saw/heard/understood that God wanted me to attend Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City and become a pastor/minister/Reverend.  There was someone there that I needed to meet.  It had to be in Kansas City at SPST.  I told my husband about the pastor thing but not about SPST.  That would be too much, that was crazy.  I applied to Iliff School of Theology in Denver.  I was accepted.  We visited.  But I knew better.  Joel didn't get the job in Colorado.  I called SPST.  They waived my application fee.  They accepted me.

4 years later I was ready to graduate from seminary.  We still wanted out of Misery and back to Colorado.  I have family in Kansas, Kansas is closer to Colorado than Misery.  Perhaps Kansas would be okay.  While at General Conference I met a district superintendent from Kansas.  We hit it off, she said she'd be in touch.  A few weeks later I received a call from another DS in Kansas offering me a position in a small town in southwest Kansas.  We were thrilled.  We'd be closer to Colorado, not much but a little bit and that was better than Misery. 

Not so much. 

Since the town was an 8 hour+  drive, the DS announced my name during church.  They googled me.  In the meantime I had decided that I needed a new blog because I was no longer Seminarymamma but RevHipChick. 

Mistake #1 I called it Revhipchick Moves to Mayberry; people in this town did not have the same love of Mayberry that I did. They were offended.

Mistake #2  I had a picture of my latest tattoo and the crazy story about how I and a few friends got the same tattoo while at General Conference.  They were offended.

Mistake #3  I admitted on the blog and on Facebook that I cuss more often than I should.  They were offended.

That Monday morning I received a venomous email from 2 people  in the town.  I had some ugly posts on my new blog as well as my old blog.  I was friended on Facebook only to find out they weren't really interested in being friends. I was devastated.  I know small towns.  I know Kansas small towns.  I was terrified of what my family would be facing.  I didn't know what to do.  I deleted my old blog.  That's right, nearly 4 years of writing my heart out all gone with the pressing of the DELETE button.

The next day the DS called me and rescinded the appointment.  I was mortified but relieved.  I called my Misery DS and begged for mercy.  She was kind, pastoral, and wonderful.  Misery had an appointment for me, the same one I had turned down in order to take the one in Kansas.  I thankfully accepted.

We drove to Mound City, 90 miles north of Kansas City.  We met with the PPRC and it was great.   I was told there had been some big problems with the previous pastor (of course I didn't get the whole story or even the real story).  And the previous DS in this area (not "my" DS) warned me that this was a very conservative area and that I should keep my tattoos covered up and there was something else but honestly I can't remember what it was.  I'm not sure it mattered because what I heard was: "Keep your tattoos covered up and your mouth shut."

That is the story of how I lost my voice.  Something I rarely share about the story because it simply makes me laugh a little and then feel guilty.

The Saturday after I lost the appointment I received a call from my friend Stephanie, "Crystal I am NEVER messing with you!"

"What are you talking about?"

"I just saw ______,KS on CNN!  They were hit by a tornado last night!  Show's them for messing with God's servant!"

We laughed a bit and then talked about how we don't believe that God works that way but to be honest it did give me a boost.  Thankfully no lives were lost--which is why I can mention it.  There was a part of me that wanted to get a mission team together and go and help them rebuild and then introduce myself.  But I knew that I would do so with anger in my heart and out of vengeance, hence not something I would do.

Lastly, in our Mound City News there is a cartoon, "Mound City, Mayberry of the Midwest."  The first time I saw this cartoon I cried, Revhipchick did indeed move to Mayberry and lives in Missouri! Thanks be to God!

Getting to the root

It's been an interesting week.  I've had some good, even if frustrating, a-ha moments. 

4 years ago, fresh out of seminary and thrilled about my upcoming appointment in the United Methodist Church I lost my voice.  Some days it feels more like my vocal chords were ripped from my throat. I put some band-aids over the wounds and garnered some strength and began to speak and preach again.  There were days, runs of weeks even, when my voice felt stronger, I thought I was gaining strength and healing, recovering from the wounds but then I'd catch site of blood and speak and preach quietly again.
I don't think I had a clue how deep the wound was/is.

Last fall, I felt attacked as a member of the district committee on ordained ministry asked me, "Do you even like preaching?"  He went on to say that I had no passion, no energy, that I did not proclaim the gospel.  For months I've carried this with me.  It's eaten at the vocal chords, gnawing on them, gobbling up whatever was left from the "accident" 4 years ago.  After much anger on my part, thinking has this man even met me?  Doesn't he know that I am nothing if not passionate and fiery and energetic?  And then I realized that he was probably right.  How could my preaching have been passionate and energetic when my vocal chords have been ripped out?  How could I exude passion and energy when every word is tentatively spoken?  How could I like preaching when I was so very afraid of it? 

This week I realized that I have got to tell my story.  The whole story.  For 4 years I've told bits and pieces of it but never the whole thing.  It is my hope that in telling the whole story that I will begin to rebuild my voice, to shake off the chains of fear and doubt so that I may preach the gospel with passion, energy, and courage.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I find myself needing to speak even with my voice shaking.  My fear is that it will turn from shaking to quaking with anger.  Last week I realized that my fear of using "my voice" arises from the fear that others will hear, that words, my words are powerful and I fear the repercussions of them. 

It's ironic that my last post, from 4 months ago, was about using my voice, not cowering to the fear, and yet here I am feeling frustrated, afraid, and angry.  The truth is that I am afraid of my own power.