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.