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The above art was made from Legos. Just a few of the amazing Lego creations now on display at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond.

Last night my daughter disappeared into a friend’s room upon hearing she’s find Star Wars Legos there. Her friend shares that he’d play with Legos all day every day if he could.

It’s truly wondrous what some people can do with these tiny bricks. It is equally wondrous how absorbing play with them can be for children.

Between these encounters with Legos and a few days of reconnecting with various friends, family members, and places part of earlier seasons in our life, I’m thinking about all the thousands of parts and pieces that combine to make a wondrous life well-lived. Each relationship, each experience, each landscape and constructed space, each taste, each sound, each smell… Each and every moment it’s own colorful brick that clicks together with the others towards a more glorious whole.

I especially like the black and white piece above… Thousand of pieces assembled to represent the dispersal of numerous seeds… To yield ever more seeds… New life that comes from letting go.

This is our first trip back to Richmond since moving away 2 years ago. We let go of the many little parts and pieces that together built a beautiful year for us here. In these two days we’ve picked up several of those gorgeous bricks again and appreciated them, knowing that they are not lost, even if we have for the most part let them go. New life springs forth yet.

 

imageDid you know that one can theoretically cook a chicken in a backpack?

Such are the things one learns with much laughter and wide raging perspectives thereupon when reconnecting with marvelous friends made at Wednesday night church suppers during the one year we lived in the capital of this commonwealth. The conversation meanders and talk about your next, camping, stop on vacation turns to food plans…

We are so ridiculously blessed.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/9254684@N05/27763302666/”>Deetrak</a&gt; via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 

An overcast, drippy day.

Snatches of conversations with family we rarely see.

A new knitting project begun.

Kids in the pool and hot tub or gathered around individual screens all playing the same game.

Official fireworks cancelled, but unofficial display next door equal to or better than shows I remember from my childhood.

A good day.

Road Trip!

 

We’re on day one of a road trip vacation. We left home at noon. We’ll probably arrive at our destination after midnight. Ordinarily we limit drives to 8 hrs or less, but in order to be with family for the holiday tomorrow (and to be able to lead worship this morning) so it is.

I wish I had kept a record of how many miles I’ve logged on road trips. THOUSANDS. There was that post college graduation cross Canada down the west coast and back trip… (And all the trips between college and home before that! Oh my, remembering the trip from Iowa to home in Upstate NY crammed into the backseat of the overpacked jeep of a friend of my college sweetheart…)  And my epic 13,000 mile road trip between my first two years of seminary- interviewing clergy women in Montana, Northern California, Texas, and New England (thanks to everyone who made me mix tapes for that mostly solo journey… And everyone who shared their homes and/or stories with me…) And many a vacation in our early married years… (Crazy late arrival to our deep forest, pack everything in campsite in Vermont.) And that epic trip post exams in my doctoral program on which we enjoyed marvelous hospitality and more mishaps than on any trip before or since (“Ride in da big truck?!” -our almost three year old when our car stopped working for the THIRD time…) And all the jaunts with my sister to help her add states seen to her list (I’m at 48 continental… She has the other 2, and is getting closer to all 50!) A few super sad road trips for funerals… And there have been so many more…

Somethings have changed- driving a hybrid now (yay for long stretches between fill ups); have a kiddo in tow (who is an AMAZING traveler. Almost 7 hours in and not a complaint yet!); finally have EZ Pass (why did I, of all people, wait so long on this?!); eat far less junk food en route now; have a smart phone that allows excellent restaurant finds (though we haven’t used that today), helpful navigation, easy updates, endless games, and blogging in a moving vehicle (don’t worry! Kev is driving while I’m blogging!).

Some things are very much the same- overpacked; I can’t really sleep in the car (the rest of the family can); I love to do crosswords and chew gum while on the road; and we’re anticipating glorious hospitality and reconnection with copious loved ones.

If you are in VA, NC, SC, GA, TN, KY and want to be a part of this three week ramble, please leave me a comment, or drop me a message, or give me a call. Currently crossing PA, third state of the day, but no time to stop…

Smooth sailing so far! May it continue. But if it doesn’t? My road trip mantra: “it’s either a good experience or a good story.”

I went to a lovely graduation party today. At this party I met another graduate, a friend of the one being honored. Both had been stars of their high school spring musical. Truly the brightest stars on stage. He, the friend, in particular, blew me, and many (everyone?) away. One of the most impressive high school performances I have ever seen. I asked him what’s next. He named an excellent state university. I inquired what he was planning to study- and learned, to my disdain- that his intended major is accounting. “Are you giving up theater?” I asked, likely with some judgment in my voice. He shrugged and indicated that is a live question. “You shouldn’t,” I offered uninvited counsel, then tried to soften, “keep it as an avocation at least. You are so talented.”

And then we went our separate ways.

The world needs accountants. It is none of my damn business what he chooses to do with his life. I regret being another opinionated adult in his life.

But the world also needs art. And humor. And he is gifted. And I hope  God will see to it that his gifts continue to flourish.

 

 

(smh)

Who’d’ve thunk it?

I screwed up my courage and walked into a CrossFit Box early on a Monday morning almost 9 months ago. You can read about why I did so and why I’m glad I did here.

I have tried to workout 3 to 4 times a week ever since, but occasionally life or travel gets in the way and I have a long(ish) stretch away. I haven’t yet mustered the courage to wander into a box away from home, and even though I’m more active than I might have once been when I travel… It’s not the same as an hour in the box on a regular basis. And returning is… Painful.

It usually takes a day or so for the soreness to set-in, but it certainly does. Today it is my arms (split jerk, kettleball swings, and ringrows yesterday). Weds it was my shoulders (lots of snatches on Tuesday).

And here’s the crazy thing. I like it. I wear this soreness as a badge of honor. It’s nice to be sore because I’m taking care of myself and building muscle instead of just because i’m stressed, sitting too much, what have you.

Early in my time at Crossfit I did a WOD (workout of the day) that involved a LOT of sit ups. So many I rubbed a spot on my lower back raw. I told the coach about this a few days later and she chuckled and said “that’s your Crossfit tattoo! I have a rather permanent darker spot there!” She seemed almost proud. I was a bit horrified.

Now I get it.

I once heard a distinguished biblical scholar share that a former student and friend of his once confronted him about his weight gain.  I forget the exact words he suggested she used, but it was something like “I love you, _____, and I need to speak to you in the Lord, you’re killing yourself.” He suggested this conversation helped to turn him around and lead him to new, healthier behaviors.  He was grateful for her willingness to speak truth to him in love, in the name of the Lord.

Too often in the church we let things slide in the name of love.  One might take offense at my opening illustration– I intend no fat shaming (and I highly recommend the recent This American Life episode http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/widget/widget.min.js

“>”Tell Me I’m Fat” ). I’m thinking more of the way we let bullies bully for years… or the ways we let people sell themselves short for years… or the ways we let people fail to follow through on their commitments… or the ways we simply turn away when we see brothers and sisters in Christ engaging in death dealing behavior. Maybe this is just a problem among mainline, predominately liberal congregations, but I suspect not.

Calvin suggested, and the Scots (see ch. 18) who followed him insisted, that the church is marked not only by Word and Sacrament, but also by Discipline– uprightly ministered. Except for cases of clerical misconduct… and occasional witch hunts around particular issues… we don’t see much in the way of effective church discipline (and some might say even in these cases the effectiveness of our church discipline can be questioned), at least not in my denomination, at least not in my lifetime.

We may think that we are obeying the command not to judge lest we be judged.  We may think we’re privileging love.  But true love includes accountability.  If we truly love each other, we can’t let certain behaviors persist.

How goes it in your churches– congregations, and larger councils/governing bodies, or denominations as a whole?  Do you have practices of accountability that work?  I am eager to hear from you.