Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking into 2009....

Many of my blogging friends are looking back at the best of 2008 ... and I'm still wondering just where December went?!? Sigh....

It is good to know that there are other places than you-know-where to which the road is paved with good intentions. Just about any road I'm traveling on these days seems to be one....

Next week, however, there are two amazing things happening on Epiphany (January 6th):

First of all, it will be the third anniversary of the vision for CovenantClusters. It is beyond amazing to me that three years have passed...and if I were to outline for you all the places I have been and the people I've met and the books I've read and the conversations I've had, well, it would take more time than any of us have available! God is amazing. His vision is still burning brightly in my heart and soul and mind. His timing will be perfect....

Secondly (and one of the reasons why so many other things have been slow-cooking on the back burner), it will be the launch of Missional Tribe -- and the other six of the "instigators" join me in looking forward to bringing the missional conversation to a whole new level. So stay tuned.

The year 2008 has been a very full year -- full of joy and sorrow, full of beginnings and endings, full of growth and, um, good intentions! Most of all it has been full of cHesed -- God's cHesed for me (in and through so many of you) and my wobbly cHesed of loving God and loving others. His faithfulness is without question ... I am a work in progress -- and grace, mercy and forgiveness are high on the list of projects, as always!

Here's looking back on a year of good, hard work ... and looking forward to a year full of hope and peace and joy and love as we follow the Way of Jesus -- whatever that means and wherever it leads.

I am so grateful to have so many wonderful folks on this journey with me.

Blessings for a wonder-filled New Year!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Advent 2008 with Abi--Day 7

Well, this is the last day in the first week of Advent ... and so the Abbess leaves you with one more story of hope.

This has been a week full of amazing synergistic connection with my Missional Tribe (more information to follow about who and what and all). As we were sharing, these very purple words bubbled up from deep in my soul. AbbE suggested that he was reading a post on Hope for The Virtual Abbess ... and I agreed.

Before you read my story, there are two blog posts that you really should read first. The first is from Erika Haub at The Margins and the second is from Milton at don’t eat alone. Without this context, what follows will not make as much (any?) sense.

I had so many thoughts swirling around in my head as I read his story. He (following Erika) is talking very much about the essence of the Virtual Abbess and her Purple Martyrdom, my friends … for I have spent a lifetime being a very good friend to many who just wanted to take advantage of what I had to offer.

But when life turned Purple and shattered and I became a broken-down, beyond chronically exhausted mother desperate to hang on hour-by-hour in order to beat the odds of recovering from catastrophic accidents and care for a newborn and two toddlers and answer the call of God to actually serve in an amazing pastoral ministry opportunity … I found myself very inconvenient to the many I thought were my friends … who neither wept with me or came to help me fold laundry because my neck and shoulder and back injuries prevented me from even doing this small task … and kept forgetting that I was broken, because after seven years I should be better, shouldn't I?

They were not there the day the doctor told me that my chances for recovery were poor, at best – and I had 8 ½ more months of pregnancy and a third child still ahead … and no family nearby to help me....

But it took a sister in Christ who (unbeknownst to me at the time) prayed me into being our middle school PTSA President (she is my right-hand as PTSA Secretary) … and then became my real life House Fairy last spring (trying to prepare for summer) and just recently again in November (trying to recover from summer). She would come – sometimes for 15 minutes, sometimes for 2 hours – and help me wash dishes, or clothes, or the kitchen floor, or the bathroom, or the kids' room (again!), or sort through stuff and rejoice with every little thing I either threw out or gave away … telling me what Fly Lady would do and then helping me do it.

And I have never been so humiliated and so honored at the same time, that this precious sister would carve out time from her busy days to come into the nightmare that has been my house these past eight years and help me break it down into pieces and get it done side-by-side is beyond words still. This is a woman who knows how to "wash feet" … and she saw the need that so many chose not to and didn't try to tell me that "Life's a bitch, isn't it?" or "These hard times will pass—everybody goes through this." or "Just suck it up and quit whining." or any number of other unhelpful things that I have heard over the years. She saw my need and moved to be Christ's hands and feet…to yoke up with me to help me carry the burden.

* * * * * * *

Wherever you are on this 7th Day of Advent, the last day of pondering Purple Hope, I pray that you will do two things:

First, choose to listen to those who need to have someone truly hear them … listen them into free speech (as our friends from Allelon say) by letting them talk long enough that they are able to hear themselves—perhaps for the first time—and in being heard, perhaps they will have the courage to share their heart's simple-but-seemingly-hopeless need.

Second, choose to watch for these Kairos-time moments where you might have the privilege of being Christ’s hands or feet or shoulder to some brother or sister with an empty spot in their yoke. Perhaps they will invite you into their pain and allow you to slip on their yoke and even out their burden. Might just take 15 minutes … might take two hours … one time, or once a week, or once a month, or whatever it takes to meet their need.

Dare to have hope … dare to give hope.

Love your neighbor as yourself.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent 2008 with Abi--Day 4

Advent missed Day 3 ... sometimes life happens, eh? But as I ponder Day 4, I encourage you to take a look at AbbE's post on hope. His ponderings on hope inspired today's post. Consider this excerpt:

And if we choose to interpret life in a larger narrative framework, we’ll work to perceive God’s providence as a text in the context of “the watching universe.” Something deep and unique is going on in the life of every individual, every couple, every family, every community, every ethnicity, every race, every nation, every civilization.

You may have seen me write about Bishop Berkeley's profound old statement: "To be is to be perceived ... the ultimate perceiver is God." And so Brad's call to perceive in a universe that watches strikes me again.... To be is to be perceived, and each of Brad's life groups both perceive and are perceived. I pondered this in an earlier post, which might be of interest.

In the end it seems to this abbess that we must be about the work of more properly perceiving that which God is perceiving. And, of course, to do that requires that one wear one's cHesed glasses.

Peering through purple cHesed glasses is one of the ways that one can vividly see Hope in the world in which we find ourselves ... because we will be perceiving as God does.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent with Abi--Day 2

The Abbess and family will be joining the conspiracy. No, not that one ... this one!

If you want to join the conspiracy, please visit Advent Conspiracy's website and have a good look around. Then go have a glass of water ... and consider those who are literally dying for a drink of clean water. I'm pretty sure you'll be challenged to prayerfully consider making a difference this year in how you view Christmas.

Thanks to the many folks, IRL and virtually, who have showcased this wonderful movement. Let the gift of clean water be a herald of the birth of the Living Water....