Posted in Balance, change, Devotional Life, God, Ministry, Moving, Prayer, Prayers, Providence

The Power of Prayer

Intentional Prayer Time at International Justice Mission
I was reading some blog posts yesterday and one of the commentators asked another if he had prayed about a particular situation going on at his church. She wasn’t seeming to say it in a “jesus juke” fashion of trying to make him look/feel bad or in a way that said look at me the better Christian, but in a real, practical and honest way. It struck me at the time and I read the comment again. It began to challenge me as we live into the present and future of our personal lives, families, ministries, vocations, churches, etc. Have we – several times a day – intentional asked God to show us and lead us and guide us?

I admit that I am better at that sometime than others. I try to read my email version of the Upper Room when I get to the office every morning and I am one of those sometimes rare people that really like Christian music so I often listen to it in the car. I often have a pretty good indicator on how I’m feeling in connection to God by how often I steer clear of the Christian music stations or how often I just skim or delete the devotional. It’s not that I’m intentionally saying – I want some distance between me and God right now. But whether I articulate it that way or not, in many ways that’s what I’m doing.

For me, when I realize that there’s some space there, it’s gut check time. What’s going on that I’m not acknowledging? What’s my hesitation? Why am I not sleeping at night?

In our lives right now we’re busting at the seams with worries. We’ve been getting moving estimates this week and juggling boxes, pick up times, and delivery is awesome. The kids have a two week break between the end of their preschool regular school year and the first summer session and Enoch asks every day why I can’t stay at home on vacation and not go to work. Enjoying the kids for two weeks while keeping the house clean and spotless and ready for someone to do a showing – super stressful. Wondering if people will see the house and want to buy it or if we’re going to juggle payments or end up renting – not for the faint of heart. Realizing that I only have a couple more weeks in the office to get everything settled here and to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready to begin a new adventure – baby steps.

It’s a lot.

But I know that we don’t go into this alone. And I know that we are not helpless in facing life’s joys and challenges.

Sometimes I just want to avoid the weight of the pressure and the huge emotion that goes with being personally invested in this crazy ministry that has been more than a job or a ministry but a home and community for over a decade.

Yet God is there, waiting and ready to offer what I need. A random facebook comment to point me in the right direction. Jars of Clay’s “Shelter” coming on my itunes reminding me that “in the shelter of each other is where the people live.” So instead of ducking my head in the sand and being in denial for a bit longer, it’s time to make a list of prayers. Not worries. But prayers. That I will intentionally pray for throughout the day.

1. That our house sells.
2. The Enoch will love his new school and that he will have a great teacher and kindergarten class. That he will make friends and that he’ll continue to do well with his speech and language since he had a delay and worked super hard here so won’t do speech in Florida.
3. That we’ll find a good preschool for Evy and that there will be room for her to join one of the classes. That she’ll make friends and will continue to excel at school.
4. That the actual move will go well. That the estimates are not too crazy much. That everything gets there and transporting us, the kids, the cats and everything else will go well.
5. That Mike will find a church music job and can do what he’s passionate about!
6. Winthrop Wesley and the transition
7. Gator Wesley and the transition

There’s more but I’m sticking with this list – Mike, Enoch, Evy, House, Move, the two Wesley’s.

God help me to remember to come to you and to seek you. Help us to remember to open ourselves to your Word for us and that we can urgently come to you in prayer. Amen.

Posted in change, Faith, Journey, Leaping

Coming and Going – Leaping

I talk to my students a lot about not being afraid to take chances, leaps of faith, embrace change. It’s a message that clearly resonates with college students and young adults who are consistently coming and going in residence halls, with roommates, doing internships, studying abroad, and one day graduating and hopefully finding first jobs and new communities.

But as you know, it’s sometimes hard to practice what you preach. It’s hard to move out of comfort zones. It’s hard to put yourself out there. It’s hard to rock the boat.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Nor does that mean that we’re not called to do it.

On February 29th – ironically – Leap Day – I interviewed for the Pastor/Director position at Gator Wesley in Gainesville, Florida. As y’all know that was a pretty big leap for us but one that we all had prayed about and were excited about – though I admittedly was terrified as well – duh. I was trying to live into what I tell my students a bit and I posted on facebook, “Can’t help but thinking about “leaping” today. I don’t know if one would necessarily leap into Lent or the wilderness, but I hope we can leap into growing on our journey with God, loving in community, and taking risks and acting in faith in our callings and the living of our lives!”

The thing that I love about community and the comings and the goings is that just because things change, that doesn’t mean that what was shared wasn’t precious or that love and life and story shared just goes away. But we continue to journey and take risks and answer callings.

So in that vein – we “leaped.” The Jeter fam will be moving to Gainesville this summer and someone else will be leaping to Winthrop Wesley. Prayers for these comings and goings and a huge thanks to all of those fellow journeyers out there! May we all be ready to leap when God opens a window!

Link to my leaving announcement on the Winthrop Wesley blog: http://wuwesley.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/announcement-from-narcie/

Posted in calling, change, Community, Family, God's Providence, home, Methodism, Moving, Parenting, Preacher's Kids, United Methodist Church

I Want to Go Home

There’s something about that saying, “I want to go home.”  We’ve been at the beach this past week with my fam and the kids had a blast playing in the ocean and the pool and going to the inlet to see Aunt Guyeth and catch crabs and play with Nemo the dog.  It was a great week.  But it’s funny, every time Enoch would get tired or cranky or even not get his way, he would say, “I want to go home.”

Now that didn’t mean that he really wanted to go home.  We would ask him if he wanted to pack everything up and get in the car, and of course he said no.  But there’s something about saying, “I want to go home.”

This past Wednesday parsonage families across the South Carolina Annual Conference moved.  These families are always close to my heart during this time of year because I remember how that was as a preacher’s kid in a parsonage family myself.  I don’t attempt to speak for all preacher’s kids because we all have different experiences and see things differently, but for me “home” was a big concept.

In the early years, my two brothers and I were sent to our grandparents house while Mom and Dad moved everything from one house to another.  They would set up our rooms with the our “stuff” and toys in them and it would feel a little more like home by the time we got there.  In one of these first houses, apparently I wrote my name and our phone number on the mattress in my bedroom in case it got lost.  I didn’t realize that not even the bed came with us and this was a running joke for the family that came after us.

We’ve gone down the road of explaining to people, yep, in our church one family moves out in the morning and another family moves into the parsonage in the afternoon.  For some reason, that’s a hard one for people to get.  It is a little strange.

As we got older we knew that when Mom started playing Steven Curtis Chapman’s “For the Sake of the Call” that we better get ready to move.  The Spring around the Cabinet convening time was always a time of anticipation/nervousness/fear that this would be the year when we moved.  And different families do this so many different ways in terms of how it’s communicated to kids, how the transition is made, how much of your own furniture goes, preparing the child to move, etc.

Now I want say that every move was great.  Or that every transition was smooth.  Or that each of us felt the same way about each place we lived.  There were definitely highs and lows and everything in between at each place.  But however we were taught to understand it, we knew that we were moving and that this wasn’t just something that was Dad’s job – it was his calling and that God would take care of us too.  Does that mean everything was always sunny and rosy?  Nope.  But I think I can speak for Josh and Caleb as well when I say that we wouldn’t be the people we are today if not for all of these experiences.

Even those times when we would say, “I want to go home.”  And that home be a house that now had another family living in it at our old church.  Some clergy couple friends have said that their daughter is having a hard time saying goodbye to her friends and her school and I totally get that.  It’s hard and tough and not fun.  And not all of us cope well.  Not everyone makes new friends easily and wants to leave the old town behind, but I think there are a great many of us that learn some things about ourselves along the way – making new friends, being able to talk to a wide variety of people, seeing different places and different communities and how different churches work, and all sorts of things that are just engrained.

So blessings on those this week in between “homes” and trust that not just home is where the heart is but home is also where you make it and how you create it.  Even if it’s the one picture hung on the wall or that one stuffed animal or everyone being together.  May we know and trust that our home is with God and that it’s not just something we cling to when we’re scared or angry or things aren’t going our way, but is something that is eternal and can’t be taken from us.  May we feel it and may we know it.

Prayer for Moving Preacher’s Kids

Lord Jesus, please bless all of these children moving this week whether they’re toddlers to teenagers.  Give them peace and strength and courage as they move from place to place.  Help the move be an easy one.  Give them the friends that they need and the comforts and hope they need for them to feel at home.  Create a haven and shelter for them in this new place and a community of faith and support to surround them and lift them in this time of transition and uncertainty.  Provide the teachers, youth leaders, people that will give them that word of encouragement and will nurture and help them grow into the people you created them to be.  Give their parents strength and clarity and the rest they need to not only be pastors and leaders but also spouses and parents.  Give them the time and priorities and balance of both church and family and the vision and tenacity to know what needs to happen when.  Help these families find the special things that they need and locate the right box or restaurant or grocery store or park.  Give them not just a physical house, but a real and spiritual home.  Help make their way easier and for them to know and trust in your providence and love for them.  Surround them in your grace and peace that they may be wrapped in your mercies anew each day.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Posted in Campus Ministry, change, Community, Culture, Faith, Grace, Music, Suffering, United Methodist Church

The Cycle – Suffering, Poverty

Music Space at Rebel Diaz Arts Collective

The United Methodist campus ministries went on our annual trip to New York this past week.  It always a rich time with students getting to make new friends and see and learn so much from the city.  It is also a blessing to be able to stay at Metropolitan Community UMC in Harlem.  Their hospitality has always been a huge gift to us and a shining example of the United Methodist connection.

This year the United Methodist Seminar Program led by Jay Godfrey and Jennifer McCallum outdid themselves, scheduling 3 parts of our group in 3 different areas of the city for 3 days to learn about the communities, culture, and social action taking place.  We were divided into groups going to the Bronx, Lower East Side and Harlem and had one day of service at a meals on wheels sort of thing where we actually walked to apartments and delivered meals to the elderly, one day of learning about cultures in our particular communities, and one day of seminar focusing on some of the issues in our communities and what organizations in those communities are doing to combat them.

I had spent some time doing seminars in Harlem and the Lower East Side so I was particularly interested in the Bronx.  What a huge area and diverse group of people the Bronx includes.  In all of the stops at museums, art collectives, a Yankees game, community action groups – each area of the Bronx was really different.  They were all so proud to be “Bronxites” that their enthusiasm for their borough was infectious.  We all felt like Bronxites to an extent at the end of our time.  Did you know that the Bronx has more green space than any other burrough in New York?  Me either.

What we heard from a lot of people and I would think the other groups would say this to, was people saying that they grew up dreaming of moving somewhere else and starting a new life, but that through whatever experience, education, epiphany moment, they decided to stay in their community and try to bring about change and keep fighting for chances and opportunities for the children growing up behind them.  Many of the speakers we talked to were born and bred in these communities and the passion, devotion and pride that they felt for these places was evident in everything they said whether the good or even the challenging issues that they are still battling.

It was good for the students and me to see these people standing up for what they believe in using real, practical, and change-bringing principles to their every day, bringing voice to the voiceless.

The divide I feel when I’m talking about us going to a living wage rally or fighting on behalf of the poor versus some of the questioning looks I get from people back home, has a lot to do with people’s questions about justice and righteousness.  We say we don’t believe all of the malarky about people who suffer having done something wrong or may not have lived right and have caused their suffering.  We say that we need to support our mentally ill, veterans, the widows, the orphans, those that can’t help themselves.  But then again, when it comes to our wallets and our own comfort, it seems easier to say and assume that if people were just working hard enough, if people just did what it takes to succeed, they would somehow pull themselves up out of these places of poverty.

We just witnessed a royal wedding where a commoner who descended from coal miners and criminals married a prince.  As much as I like the fairytale and as hard as her family worked and as many names they have been called for “social climbing,” I think it paints a somewhat unfair picture of what the cycle of poverty really looks like.  To say that it is hard to break that cycle is such a rough and belittling use of an adjective that it feels wrong to say.  To stand up in the face of corruption, in the face of not just people but entire systems that abuse you, to demand the same rights that others enjoy when you’ve never gotten a fair shake – that is scary, it’s terrifying, it’s intimidating.

I am constantly amazed at the voices that do stand up though.  I was glad to hear of a student from the Bronx talk about students in the Bronx organizing a walk out of thousands of students when the government was going to take away their right to a student metrocard to get to and from school.  I was inspired listening to Intikana from Rebel Diaz Arts Collective talking about how they’re using art and music and film and all sorts of creative outlets to give people in the Bronx a way to express themselves in non-violent and constructive ways.  It’s great to see young people working to bring about a new day.  It’s good for all of us to see that we can make a difference, whether through our churches doing a soup kitchen, clothing closet, food pantry, or other social action.  In the midst of the sometimes uphill climb and little defeats in the battle, it’s good to know that none of us are alone in this battle and that we have folks journeying with us all over the world.

From a faith perspective, we are clearly called to the poor, to the wounded, to those that need to feel that love and wholeness and new life.  This isn’t just the obvious poor among us, but it’s also the single mom trying to make ends meet, it’s also our cranky next door neighbor who’s as lonely as heck, it’s also our friends, our family, the people we see at the office or grocery store or school.

One of this past week’s lectionary texts was 1 Peter 2:19-25 and it talked about suffering and following in Christ’s footsteps.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t ask God for suffering.  If you suffer, you suffer, but Christ suffers with you, I get that.  But I’m not asking for it like the lovely Mr. Wesley in his new year’s service.  There’s two things I like in particular about this text – one that Christ suffered for us and so God knows what suffering feels like – for real without a doubt not even his fault suffering.  There’s a song in the new Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon that’s called “Man Up.”  I am NOT endorsing or saying you should go out and watch Book of Mormon or get the soundtrack.  The story is about two Mormon missionaries in Africa and needless to say, one of them is seeing that he has a challenge before him and he’s like, hey – Jesus had to man up, so I need to too.  I’m not saying that we all have to man or woman up, but the song is right in that Christ did suffer and die and he’s been there.  He knows what it’s like to feel alone, tired, hungry, beaten, ridiculed, and tortured.

The other thing is that he did the suffering for us, that “by his wounds you have been healed” and he is our Shepherd leading us home.  To me, this calls us in two different directions – one to realize that we realize that this LOVE and sacrifice was for us.  The other is to realize that we have to share this LOVE and sacrifice with the world.  We can’t say, that’s not my problem, it’s a problem over “there” with “those” people in “that” place.  Nope, it’s something that we all must wrestle with as we share the light and love of Christ.  This cycle of poverty only ends as we all jump into the fight, pool our resources, and leave our pride, self-protection, and rationalizations at the door.

We learned a ton in New York.  It was a great trip.  The thing I like about these trips is that it’s not just something we leave in New York, in this far away place, but these are things we learn and do and bring home to make a difference where we are, not just in a nice, greeting card kind of way, but for real.

How do we break the cycle of poverty in our communities?  How do we break the cycle of unbelief and fear and doubt?  How do we break the cycle of people believing that Jesus would just look at them with contempt and say that they deserved it because of what they did?  What are our churches saying about the cycle of poverty and suffering?  Anything?  What message are we telling?  What inner soundtrack are our lives rocking along too?

A nice, tame song by JJ Heller, “What Love Really Means.”

Man Up from the Book of Mormon – (don’t forget this is a satirical musical written by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q so listen at your own risk…this is your disclaimer, seriously.)

If someone was going to write a satirical musical about our faith?  our denomination?  our churches? what would it say???

Info about Rebel Diaz Arts Collective:  http://rdacbx.blogspot.com/

Info about the United Methodist Seminar Program:

http://www.gbgm.umc.org/UMW/work/mission-education/seminar-program/

Posted in Campus Ministry, change, Justice, War

One Day

Today at lunch, Adrienne and I were sitting talking over the Wesley to do list and everything that needs to happen before the semester ends including our Human Trafficking cultural event, Imagine No Malaria event and the Harlem Mission trip.  We were enjoying lunch and then Matisyahu’s song “One Day” came on the radio.  We both stopped and listened and sat there wondering where we had heard this song.  Finally we remembered that we heard it on the Tom’s One Day without shoes video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BitShRujoeA

It is a really catchy song and something that is saying really great words.  Below is a video that has the words and I’ve also included them below.

Right now, my amazingly wonderful sister-in-law is in labor for my niece.  We’re all really excited.  Josh picked me up at 5:45 this morning for all of us to go over there.  I was honored to be apart of it and I’m looking forward to heading back over there.  When I think about the world that baby KLM (they haven’t told us the names, just the initials) is going to grow up in, or the world where my children will grow up, so many thoughts run through my head.  I would like to think like this song that one day there will be no more war.  One day there will be no more fighting.  One day there will be no more hungry.  One day there will be no more malaria.  One day there will be no more modern day slavery or human trafficking of any kind.  One day…

Outside of the Church Center building across from the UN is a quote from Isaiah on the wall.

Isaiah 2:4 says what is written on this wall, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, netierh shall they learn war any more.”  Micah 4:3 echoes this.

I remember in a meeting long ago, some clergy using Jesus’ words “the poor are always with us” as a reason for us to not work as hard as we could for justice, because they believed the poor were just a natural part of life. (Yep the verse is in Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, and John 12:8)  Yes, Jesus said it.  And if you want to take things out of context, I guess you could justify a pompous and self-righteous attitude about it, but Jesus didn’t work to bring about a kingdom that is just to come, but one that is also alive and well right here.  The already and not yet.  Jesus brought release to the captives and healing to the sick.  And part of what we do as disciples of Jesus is work to bring light and love and God’s grace to all that they may see and know that the Lord is good. 

I had dinner with a couple of students last night and they were asking me about some of the things they’ve learned in one of their Human Experience classes about faith.  They asked about doing mission trips and service and if that was what Jesus wanted and if that would make them a better Christian.  We talked for a while about work’s righteousness and how you don’t “earn” your salvation, but that in my mind acts of justice and mercy naturally grow and flow out of a love of God.  We even talked about the lovely Wesley’s personal piety and social holiness.  Yep, there’s something about that thing between us and God – that devotion, quiet time, meditation, getting away and centering on God, prayer, scripture study – that’s important.  But that social holiness aspect is equally as important.  They were saying that people in their classes questioned their faith and if they were hypocrites for believing both evolution and creationism.  You could argue for days on personal belief/piety.  Both personal piety and social holiness are things that the world can clearly see.  They can see if we are at peace and content.  They can see if we’re centered and grounded.  They can see if we’re leaving out what we say.  They can see if we’re offering a coat or a meal or a hug with a string attached or not.  They can see if there’s an ulterior motive or a justification or a rationalization on our part.

To me, what the world is hungry for, is not just people shoving beliefs down their throat but people living it out.  To the people that are going to be hesitant, unbelieving and sometimes obnoxious – that’s their opinion.  Maybe they’ve had some bad experiences with “Christians.”  They can’t tell you how you feel or what you believe and they can’t take your God/Jesus/Holy Spirit from you.  But we can answer honestly and openly with humility and confidence that the God we know and trust and love is One who is calling us forth to new life.  The God we know and trust and love is one who knows that one day there will be no more war, no more tears, no more struggle, no more disease, no more fear, no more….  One day.

May we work for this “One day,” not because we “have to” or we won’t be “good enough” Christians if we don’t, but because we want to and we’re called to and if we believe this Jesus is who he says he is and if we believe that this kingdom of God is happening right here all around us, let’s make it a reality.

What do you hope for one day???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl9voSKJmEU

 

One Day by Matisyahu

sometimes I lay
under the moon
and thank God I’m breathing
then I pray
don’t take me soon
cause I am here for a reason
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because
all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day

it’s not about
win or lose cause
we all lose
when they feed on the souls of the innocent
blood drenched pavement
keep on moving though the waters stay raging
in this maze you can lose your way (your way)
it might drive you crazy but don’t let it faze you no way (no way)
sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around
because
all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

one day

one day this all will change
treat people the same
stop with the violence
down with the hate
one day we’ll all be free
and proud to be
under the same sun
singing songs of freedom like

one day

all my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
for the people to say
that we don’t wanna fight no more
they’ll be no more wars
and our children will play

Posted in change, Community, Grace, Health, Music, Tumor

Neurologist Update

Hi y’all,

I realized earlier today I haven’t really updated folks on the latest health stuff.  It’s both easy and difficult to push that to the back of my mind – especially this time of the year as we prepare for the students return.

Mike and I went a couple weeks ago to the new neurologist and she’s great!  An Emory Med School grad and it was like night and day from before which was great.  Mike particularly liked her which is high praise.  We talked to her about the small things that have changed since the surgery and she did some tests that proved that we weren’t just imagining things.  I have found that I can’t always remember simple things or people’s names even I’ve known them forever.  She showed me some flash cards with simple objects on them and although I knew what each was and they were simple like an umbrella or something like that.  I couldn’t actually say all of their names for a little while.  It’s like I know it but there’s some sort of delay or block.  I knew that I had been feeling this way but when she did that test, I knew for sure, that everything wasn’t “back to normal.”  We then did a test where you’re supposed to walk in a straight line.  Yes, like the drunk test.  Welp, totally bombed that one too.  I haven’t noticed any difference in regular life with my motor skills so that was a little startling to know that even that’s a little off.  She said she would testify on behalf if I failed a DUI test – no worries there since I can’t drive but it was funny nonetheless.

 I know that this is normal after brain surgery and many people laugh and say this comes with age.  I get that.  I’m not expecting to do everything that I could do before or to be able to snap my fingers and that this all will disappear.  But it’s tough because like she said that day – I look perfectly normal.  The way my hair is cut and the way I part it now completely covers up my scar that stretches 22 sutures from the top of my head to my ear.  Now that is a great haircut!  When you look normal and you’re trying to go back to your life and all of the same challenges and demands, it’s easy to forget that things are different.

For someone that talks and remembers things as part of her job – her ministry – her vocation – her life – not being able to think clearly on your feet is hard.  There’s no way around that.  Am I worried about August quickly approaching and getting ready for the school year?  Heck yes.  Am I worried that my normal “meditations” with the students in worship will be that much more difficult trying to remember and bring things together?  Yep.  Am I learning that I need to depend on other people more and I need to rest in the grace of God more?  Oh yeah.  I feel like a middle schooler without her license as I ask people for rides all the time.  But then again, it’s good to let others help you sometimes.  If we really are community it’s a balance of each of us helping and taking turns and building up the body.

Anyway – long story short – the neurologist says I’ll be on the seizure meds for 2 years if nothing happens again.  One piece of good news that I liked since I’m a little afraid of the seizures – if I have a little seizure (not go unconscious) then that doesn’t start over my 6 months wait to drive.  Scary I know.  Only if I go unconscious does that restart so November 28th I am looking forward to you!  I’ll see the neurologist again in January so the only thing on the docket now is the MRI in September.

That and getting ready for the school year!  But hey that’s just the normal crazy campus minister to do list…

Mike has done a lot of songs by Michael Gungor in The Journey service and I really do like his music a lot.  We’ve been playing the Gungor album “Beautiful Things” in our car for a while.  Below is a song by their group called “Please Be My Strength.”  It’s melody and lyrics speak to me and I hope it will speak to some of you.

I’ve tried to stand my ground
I’ve tried to understand
but I can’t seem to find my way
 
like water on the sand
or grasping at the wind
I keep on falling short
 
please be my strength
please be my strenth
I don’t have anymore
I don’t have anymore
 
I’m looking for a place
that I can plant my faith
one thing I know for sure
 
I cannot create it
I cannot sustain it
It’s Your love that’s keeping (captured) me
 
Please be my strength…
 
at my final breath
I hope that I can say
I’ve fought the good fight of faith
 
I pray your glory shines
through this doubting heart of mine
so my world would know that You
 
You are my strength
You and You alone
You and You alone
Keep bringin me back home