Give Thanks in All Circumstances

James 1:17 ESV

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Psalm 107:1 ESV

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Ephesians 5:20 ESV

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Colossians 3:15-17 ESV

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Philippians 4:6 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

On this Veteran’s Sunday, we all have things for which we are thankful.  These are just a few passages of scripture that encourage us to give thanks.  In particular, we are to be thankful in all circumstances.  Being far away from home for Thanksgiving gives us a taste of that.  I found these stories from the military during World War II.

Cliff Sampson of Plymouth, US Navy 1942-1945: “My first military Thanksgiving was in 1942 at Great Lakes. We had a big mess hall and it was a typical Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the fixings, apple pie and mince pie. They tried to make it special and, of course, everybody was hepped on the war. Just being a little recruit, you didn’t have much to say about it anyhow, you just did what they told you and ate what they gave you. But it was good food, I can’t complain. Some of the food probably was better than a lot of people ever had before they were in the service. Some people came from poverty… “Thanksgiving 1945 I was home in Plymouth with my family and my wife. We were getting ready to settle down and I was back to work, running the store again. It was a great feeling to be home, after being blown up on a ship in July (the USS YMS 84 yard mind sweeper was blown up 3 July 1945, Cliff Sampson received the Purple Heart) and then in November, I’m out of the service and the war is over. I feel sorry for all those that didn’t come back. It was a great experience, but it’s too bad for those who had to leave us. They fought for a great cause.”

Bill Shepard of Plymouth, 102 Infantry Division (“Ozark Division”), U.S. Army, stationed in Ohio, Germany and Wales: “The Armed Forces were absolutely adamant about getting the troops a Thanksgiving dinner, all over the world, no matter who you were or what you were doing. Whether it was on the front lines THANKSGIVING “OVER THERE” *** World War Two Voices from the Front or in a big fort like Sam Houston in San Antonio, they always made sure that the Armed Forces got a Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas meals were also somewhat like that, but I remember the Thanksgiving dinners — there were always turkeys and pies and everything you would have at home. The food was often cold, if you were in the field (Thanksgiving Day 1944, the Ozark Division had just broken through the Siegfried Line at Aachen), but it was Thanksgiving.”

Stanley Collins, US Navy: “I was on submarine duty in the Pacific in the year 1943. We were in the area off the cost of the Philippines. I remember having a complete turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. While the turkeys were cooking, the submarine took a dive. We went down too steeply and the turkeys fell out of the oven onto the deck. The cook picked them up and put them back into the oven — and we ate them, regardless of what may have gotten on them as a result of their fall. That meal was so good!”

Ervin Schroeder, 77th Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion, I Company, US Army: “On Thanksgiving Day, we made our landing on Leyte Island in the Philippines very early in the morning. We therefore missed our dinner aboard ship. Somewhere down the beach from where we landed, the Navy sent us ham and cheese sandwiches. My buddy happened to get one of the sandwiches and brought it back to our area. I was complaining to him for not bringing one back for me when he started to have stomach cramps… At this point, I shook his hand and thanked him for not bringing me a sandwich.”

Ed Campbell, US Marine Corps, 1943-1945, had spent 3 different Thanksgivings in service.  He says this about the last one.  “The third and last Thanksgiving (1945), I landed in Boston on Thanksgiving Day… I walked around the city for a little bit, with joy in being immersed in the quietness of Boston — it was around 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning. I decided I would take a taxi home to Quincy. I had enough money — my discharge money — so I was able to pay for a cab to take me home in style. Of course, we had a great Thanksgiving. My mother had all the relatives and old friends there — I had called her to say that I would be home on Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful day to come home. It was literally the first day of the rest of my life.”

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.  Give thanks always and for everything.  Sing songs of thanks and whatever you do, in word or deed, give thanks to God for Jesus.  Do not worry, but pray and give thanks.  Give thanks in ALL circumstances.  We’re told all throughout the Bible to give thanks.  And not just in the good and easy times, but in the hard, trying times as well.

Stuart, Mike’s cousin, wrote this about his Granddad for the funeral.

“In a book that Tom Brokaw authored, he labeled the generation that fought in and supported our country during WWII as the greatest generation that ever lived. He went on to describe this group of people as the greatest generation that any society ever produced; not only for their efforts winning the war, but for the way they lived their lives.  I am sure everyone here has known someone who was a part of this generation and can easily testify to their godly and selfless character and how true Tom Brokaw’s characterization is.

I can certainly do this in the case of my grandfather.  Bob Jeter joined the Marine Corps when he was 17 years old. He fought in the critically important Battle of Iwo Jima and was one of the few soldiers to survive. During the battle one of his friends was buried alive on the shores of the beach during a shelling.  My grandfather saved his life by quickly digging him up and getting him to safety.  They remained best friends for the rest of their lives. He was awarded three purple hearts for his time in the Marine Corps. After being discharged, he went to work for McKesson Drug as a worker in the warehouse.  He got this job by using the GI Bill. Over the course of his career, he worked his way up to the position of vice president of McKesson Drug.

These are obviously all things to be proud of, but the accomplishment Bob Jeter was most proud of was the fact he and his wife of 60 plus years, Helen Jeter, raised a Christian family. My uncle overheard him say this on the golf course in response to a question about 15 years ago.

Everything my grandfather did was centered on Christ. He was a dedicated member of this church for 40 plus years. He served at Brush Hill as an elder, Sunday School teacher and in many other roles. He, along with my grandmother, were very actively involved in numerous ministries in East Nashville over the course of their lives. He began each day of his life with prayer and scripture reading and ended it in the same way.

It is truly a blessing if you have ever had anyone in your life who you can to to for advice on anything that is on your heart and know that you will receive profound, thoughtful, wise guidance in return.  Because of the relationship I had with my grandfather, Bob Jeter, I knew someone like this.”

He wrote this letter to his family.

Dear All,

I suppose you know by now that I am on Iwo Jima, and best of all I am still alright.

 

I have had several close ones, but the good Lord seemed to want me to stay in good shape a little longer.

There isn’t much I can say, or they’ll let me say, except that I am alright, and I intend to stay that way.

I’ll write more when I have more time and something to say.

I still haven’t seen Howard but I passed his island.

Your loving son,

Bob

Pfc Robert E. Jeter

Written March 3, 1945.  He was wounded (3rd time) and evacuated on March 12.  One day after his 20th birthday.  He’s the one who Enoch mentioned in last week’s children sermon who had the purple hearts.  When granddad was at Maybelle Carter, an assisted living facility, his neighbor would make stuffed teddy bears.  That was one of the things Enoch took with him when we had to evacuate for the hurricane because as he said last week, it reminds him of his grandfather and he indeed was a great man.

I have hope for our country.  At Girl State I loved to sing the song “God Bless the U.S.A.” because when we sang the part “And I gladly stand up” we would stand up.  Close to 600 high school juniors.  It wouldn’t have the same impact if I did it alone.  We have to do it together.  “And I gladly stand up NEXT TO YOU.”  We have to be united as a country and a nation under God.  We won’t survive if we don’t.  We’ve become so insular, so jaded, such experts on the way we see the world, that we don’t celebrate America for what it is.  A glorious melting pot of neighbors, of brothers and sisters, of fathers and mothers, of real people.  I’ve always believed that the way to Christ is in relationship.  Our personal relationship and our communal relationship.  We personally need to dig into the Word, fast and pray, and cultivate and tune in to the True Vine, but we also need to live it out, forming relationships with our neighbors, the person we see every week at the coffee shop and we always wonder if we should strike up a conversation, the frazzled mother at the grocery store holding on to her squirming children while she drops her groceries.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  AND give thanks for all that you have been given.  For example, your house, your food, your job, your freedom, this great country.  I challenge you to see and name three things for which you are thankful at the end of every night.  Do it for the month of November and tell me what happens.  My prayer and hope is that you will ignite within you a Spirit of Gratitude.

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We recognized our veterans at our special service and played this song and invited them to come forward for every branch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I5BqvpkwmA

Here We Go Again.

In December I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon in Charlotte and since it was the last day of classes here and was a 7 hour drive, I decided to cancel it and find a neurosurgeon here in Gainesville.  I didn’t make this decision lightly and I looked up all sorts of things about the awesome program here and I asked around to a number of people.  I saw my new neurosurgeon for the first time on Valentine’s Day (ha!).  He ordered an MRI to be done the Monday after our spring break trip to Costa Rica (March 11th).  On Tuesday, March 19th while Mike and I ate lunch with Evy, the nurse called and said that the doctor recommended surgery.  She then set an appointment for me to talk to him about this for today, March 28th.

Mike and I of course called our parents.  I didn’t want to say anything about this before we knew anything, but needless to say, we’ve been pretty distracted this past week and because I try to be a reasonably transparent person, it was hard to preach on Palm Sunday or for either of us to function without a twinge of something always in the background.  My parents came to visit last night so that Mom could go with us to the appointment and Dad being the great MacMac that he is, could hang out with the kids this morning since they’re on spring break.

Three years have passed since the first surgery.  To review, my doctor in Charlotte removed what he could of the tumor but left a strip near the motor cortex of the brain.  The type of tumor I have is an oligodendroglioma and very thankfully it’s a grade II (low grade).  At the time, research and common practice said that you take a watch and wait perspective and treat symptoms.  Now, research says that you resect as much as you can of the tumor so that it does not increase in grade.  They will use computer guidance to make sure that they are as precise as possible in removing as much as they can of the tumor that remains.  All of the risks associated with brain surgery are still at play here (duh.), but even more than that, because this is on my motor cortex, there could be temporary weakness in my right arm, hand and face.  As he said, scenario A is much like the first surgery – I come in on Friday and have surgery, I go home on Sunday, and I go back to work on Wednesday (this is also because I’m a crazy person that likes to work – yes, I know).  Scenario B is I go into surgery on Friday, hopefully still leave on Sunday depending on some things, go back to work in two weeks, and then possibly do physical therapy and rehab for a month.  If removing as much of the tumor as possible gives me a higher means of this not turning into something worse, I’m willing to risk either scenario.  The doctor’s suggestion is to take the “earliest elective opportunity” to do the surgery.

I’ve decided to do the surgery in May – most likely either May 10th or May 17th.  What does this mean for our family?  The kids were 1 and just turning 3 when the first surgery happened so they thought Mommy was on a trip of some sort.  They’re 4 and 5 now so we’ll be handling things a little differently.  They’ll still be in school so that should help.  I am blessed with an incredible extended family….and in essence I consider y’all a part of that as well.  Mike has been an absolute rock in all of this and I can’t begin to thank him for living out the weight of our vows every day.  The irony of asking him today – do you want to have the surgery around our 11th anniversary (May 11th) or around your 34th birthday (May 16th)?  I know that God is with us and will provide – whether that’s within the surgery, recovery, sanity, financially or us trying to squeeze in two more days at Disney before June 6th when our passes expire =0).  I’m also looking at the beginning of May so that I can be present for all of the end of semester fun, but before things ramp back up for summer.  I didn’t plan on a surgery during my first year here in Gainesville, but I know that there’s an amazing staff, student leaders and board here and we’ll be good to go.  As always, I’m pretty open with questions – so if you have one, ask me.  I also tend to use the blog to process and answer things as I can. (Don’t be afraid.  I’m not “broken” or an invalid, and I’m still the same person.  Human as can be, but trying to figure it out….so ask, don’t just wonder.)

As soon as I get the actual date of the surgery, I’ll definitely post it and I will hugely appreciate all of your prayers!

So all that to say, I don’t have any big actual blog “reflection” tonight.  We just completed the Maundy Thursday service and I’m pretty spent at this point, which I guess is just about right with Good Friday coming tomorrow.  I am increasingly struck this Easter season that there’s no fast forward button between Palm Sunday with the Hosannas and Easter.  I also appreciated a song that my parent’s sent me when I told them this last week.  It’s Tenth Avenue North’s “Worn.”  Hope that during this Holy Week we are reminded of our redemption, peace and hope in Christ in the midst of the sometimes dark despair.

For those visual people out there that want to pray over an image….rock on.

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God Things

Today in this season of thanks I thank God for the God things. That sounds like a really general and broad area, right? But I know you know what I’m talking about. I thank God for the times when you can feel God’s presence whether in the sacred or the secular, the intentional and the spontaneous.

Both kids have not been sleeping well lately and both were up off and on all last night. Needless to say, it’s been a sleep-deprived hazy day. But in the midst, there’s all these God things that keep us going. When things seem to derail and doubt starts to creep in or fears for the future begin to weigh, it’s nice to be reminded that we are called to trust in God. We are asked to step out in faith. We are charged to live lives full of the bold promise that God will provide.

So today I thank God for the little bits brought into our lives where we can feel that Spirit moving. I am thankful for possibilities and dreams and prayers. I am thankful for gentle reminders and teachings that I know I needed to hear today about forgiveness and peace. I am thankful for spiritual mentors and grounded students who reflect God’s grace. I am thankful for the joy that buoys us up even when we’re exhausted and blah-ed out and for the promises of God.

What little God things did God show you today? How was your spirit refreshed today or your calling confirmed? Where did you see God today?

Loving jamming to Colbie Caillat “Brighter Than the Sun” today.

For the Communion of the Saints

What are you thankful for? Over the next days/weeks leading up to Thanksgiving I’m going to try to do what many of my wise friends on facebook and other wise folks have shared – cultivate a spirit of gratitude. If all is grace, then we are thankful.

So for Day 1 on All Saints Day, I am thankful for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us. These “saints” that have gone before are not just the heavy hitters like Mary or Paul or Mother Theresa. These saints encompass all of the people that have gone before us seeking to live as Christ. Some of these saints are ones that we read about in our Holy Scripture (Paul – I can’t wait to talk to you about the book of Romans after preaching on it this semester in worship – wowzers). Some are ones that we have read back and forth and still dig into their kernels of wisdom – CS Lewis, Jim Elliot, Teresa of Avila (Love Jim’s “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose”). Some of these are saints that may or may not be seen as religious folks – love me some Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. Others may be the ones that we’ve personally known or been shaped by.

I think about some of the dear saints I’ve known in this life. Mr. Howard and Ms. Evelyn that we sat with as children on Sundays while Dad preached and Mom sang in the choir. Ms. Betty teaching our first and second grade Sunday school class. I still remember the felt board with the Bible characters. Mr. Tim and Ms. Bunny who proved to me that people want to minister to their minister and his/her family and they really care about each of us. There are so many that I could easily name.

I think about the saints in our family…and then I start to laugh. The thing that I love about them and any of our saints for that matter, is that they were real people – flesh and bone and not always perfect. There’s this thing about saints that we build up to be otherworldly with rose-colored glasses, but the thing that I like the most is that they were colorful characters who didn’t just do everything prim and proper perfectly, but they made a splash. They had spunk. They did not go gentle into that good night as the Dylan Thomas poem goes.

There’s stuff all over the place about paranormal activity and that crazy horror story tv show and even Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt talking to folks from the beyond and I get people’s fascination with this. Or at least I think I do. Well, not necessarily the horror/scare factor. But I do think there’s a great big part of us that wants to know for sure and for certain that we’re not alone here. There’s part of us that wants to know that our family and loved ones – both from long ago and now – dear to us – are okay and it’s going to be okay for us too. That stinking Anderson show (I watched while sick – captive audience) even had me tearing up at parts because of the sincerity of people really wanting to know that we are all connected and we stay connected and that this beautiful network of love doesn’t just stop here, but continues on.

As the seasons in South Carolina start to change for real and things are turning and getting colder and Winter is coming, I’m reminded that death is not the end. Yes, there is grief. Yes, there is change. Yes, there is loss. Yes, there are those we miss dearly. But the great cloud of witnesses surrounds us, spurs us on, and still speak to us in big and small ways. As Dad likes to share – these folks are often our “balcony people!”

As I look around my office and home to the things that I treasure – pictures with family, pictures at Ganny’s house, a beautiful picture painted by Robin, a shingle that my Gandaddy made with our pictures on it, Dad’s pottery, a “family tree” my Mom made for me….as I look into my heart to the things I treasure – both sassy grandmothers that neither minced words, had plenty of spunk, and weren’t afraid to use various words in their vocabularies, the amazing integrity and character of both of my grandfathers and the legacy for trying to love people – whoever they are, whatever color they are or accent they have, wherever their family came from…these are the gifts that the communion of saints continues to give us as we wrestle with their words, their examples, their legacies and their authentic lives of faith.

Thank you God for all of those that have touched us in such mighty ways!

Who are your saints? Who has shaped you? What do you hold dear from the ones that have gone on before us?

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” – Louisa May Alcott

Can you hear the party of praise around us???

Update on that Spongy thing inside my Noggin’

  I am completely slacking on blogs right now which breaks all the rules of regular blogging.  Sorry about that!  I’ll catch up soon.  Right now I’m at a great conference and have tried to be as fully invested in it as possible, but there has been a part of me distracted.  Some of you that began following this blog when I started writing after finding out that I had a brain tumor and you walked with me through that journey and the recovery and even though the blog has become a little bit something different, I do still want to give you an update on that good ole brain of mine because I believe that this community of support has been invaluable and really a holy presence in my life and I can’t imagine my life without your prayer and support.

I have been doing 3 month MRI and neurosurgeon check ups over the past year.  For the most part, I try to keep moving with life and I give a sincere and concerted effort not to let these worries and fears rule over my life.  Then comes the time when I get the envelope from Carolina Spine and Neurosurgery in the mail with all of my appointment times and as Mike and I see it, I can feel the background stress and tension in me and those I love.  The unknown is so completely…humbling…scary…difficult.  There’s so much to unpack there but that would be an incredibly long blog and mine are already probably way too long.

Last week I went to my (I don’t really care to remember how many its been now) whatevereth MRI and the techs were asking how I was doing and what I was there for, all that good stuff and I told them my hope that maybe this was the visit where I could be increased to every 6 months or every year instead of every 3 months.

On Monday I met with the neurosurgeon and he said that it was the radiologist’s opinion that the part of the tumor still up there in brain/motor cortex land may have grown slightly but that it was very slight.  His opinion was that he didn’t see a change and disagreed with the radiologist.  We then had a lovely back and forth where I looked at the comparison MRI’s myself and tried to understand and that I got a chance to ask some hard questions.  Since Mike was not with me, I could ask some of the things that I want to know and would like to understand but that I don’t want to alarm, worry or hurt someone else by them hearing the questions or the answers.  Does that make sense?

So even though it was not my most favorite news in the world, I was okay.  My amazing doctor said he was going to take the tumor to the tumor board for them to decide if it had grown or not.  I called Mike and my parents on the way home and was okay.

Primarily I was okay because I was leaving the next morning for a conference and I just didn’t have the emotional energy or the whatever to process it.

Yesterday afternoon while I was in a workshop, the doctor left a message and when I hear him say his name I immediately get a little freaked out on the inside even though he’s a fabulous doctor – like fabulous – but it’s just anxiety producing.  But then he says an AMAZING thing – the tumor board doesn’t see any change.  AND because this place on my lovely brain has stayed consistent this year, I get to stretch the time between MRI’s to 6 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (I could probably mash exclamation points for a while on that one.)  That may seem like a little thing, but it’s such an act of hope and grace and peace to me.

And though I didn’t shed a tear on Monday, I couldn’t stop crying off and on yesterday evening.  Is that crazy?  The bad news – I take it and I’m like let’s do this thing.  The good news – I’m a basketcase.  In talking with a dear friend and colleague about this last night I told her as I was trying to process and express my layers of feelings that I really needed to blog about this.  For some odd, crazy reason this is how I started this journey – blogging.  And it has been such a healing and cathartic piece or even peace for me.  There’s something about putting it out there in writing and narrative that makes it something that I feel a little more grounded in.  I guess we each have our mediums – whether it’s walking outside or making pottery or playing baseball or journaling.  And I am thankful for this one.

In the midst of this I know that there are those walking incredibly hard and deep and heartbreaking journeys right now.  I think of the family members that are living this reality right now and the friends and loved ones who have faced challenges that I know not of.  Please do lift up in prayer those who are in the midst of the struggle of the unknown and in this thin place where anger and fear and sadness and grief and life and death and joy and pain are so close to the surface at times.  Each of us walks this journey at times.

And we’re not alone.

I have seen Christ in the colleagues that I’ve shared with here and that continue to uplift and inspire and challenge and hold me accountable.  I have seen Christ in my family who continue to battle for me.  I have seen Christ in the countless people that continue to tell me they’re praying for me or those that just give me space to be…and to feel…and to just cry or laugh or talk about it or not talk about it.  I have seen Christ when I’m by myself and I am vulnerable and just laid bare as a child of God.  Although there is no doubt that I would not have chosen for this piece of the puzzle of life, I have felt Christ’s Spirit and promise more tangibly and have felt the Body of Christ more profoundly and genuine than I have felt in my life.

I am grateful for a community of people that I can keep it real with on the sad days and the angry days and the joyous days and the rock and roll days.  I am grateful for a Savior who continues to be that Great Redeemer and Strong Protector and just that Amazing Grace who support us and girds us up in mighty, mighty ways.

So that’s my brain.

And one of the awesome things – 6 MONTHS!!!!!

Grace and peace to all of you.  I am gratefu for you all.

Tonight, Tonight – Sometimes You’ve Just Got to Jam

It’s a dreary gray day here in South Carolina.  We need the rain and I’m loving the cooler weather.  I’d probably be down with the gray skies too except it’s doing more pouting and looking gloomy than actually raining.  Let’s get it going clouds!

It’s funny to me how much the weather can affect our moods.  Every Wednesday when I would write the Wesley Weekly email to the students I finally realized I talk about the weather all the time.  My desk faces some big windows so you see where mind is.

Right now I’m closing out our Summer newsletter getting ready for a conference and doing various crazy things that are on the never-ending to do list.  But I’m reminded how easy it is to get derailed.  You can get some bad news or read something on facebook or email or hear about a meeting where your name came up or remember something that can send your day in a spiral.  Or you could in general not be feeling well or be in the midst of something that has you just feeling blah.  Sometimes I’ll find myself not in the greatest of moods and I’ll have I try to remember – when did I start feeling this way?  Is this just a general “funk” or did something prompt this?

We all have different triggers.  Some of those are questions about the future or if we’re really living our vocation or what we’re called to do or money concerns or health concerns or family worries or whatever.  There’s all sorts of anxieties and fears out there and it’s almost like the lie in wait for us in the shadows ready to jump is or being to creep in.

I have this funny suspicion that Jesus doesn’t want us to live a life of burdensome worries and mopey-ness.  I’m not saying Jesus wants you to be sunshine and rainbows all the time and I totally believe he walks with us in the most mopey of mopeys, but I also think there are some days when we’ve just go to jam.

The song, “Tonight, Tonight” by Hot Chelle Rae keeps popping up on my radio and I keep playing it on my youtube at work.  Don’t worry I haven’t watched all 5 million times that it says it’s been viewed.  Do you ever just jam in your car when you hear a song that is just fun and funny and you just start dancing and digging it?  Or have you ever done that with a group of friends or on a retreat or whatever?  I distinctly have some of those memories with Faith Hill’s This Kiss and Macy Gray and the Dixie Chicks.

I’ve been playing this song, one to keep me moving and awake on this dreary day, but also because it’s fun to jam sometimes.  Can you picture Jesus jamming along with you?  A stretch?  Maybe not.  But I can totally feel like sometimes we just have to let go and get moving.  Sometimes that means regrouping.  Sometimes that means some new inspiration. Can you hear Jesus being the one that says, “Come on?”  or “We can get crazy, let it all out.”  Now I’m so not saying that this was the intent of this wonderful Hot Chelle Rae.  Probably far from it.

But I am thankful for this sort of fun music that make you feel like you’re joining a live, active, vibrant party.  It’s not always a party day, but I’d like to think that Jesus invites us to the dance and seeks to give us that abundant rockin’ life!

So if you come by office today, be prepared – you could see a very silly and terribly dancing Narcie.  Join in.  Dance.  Have some fun.  Even on a rainy day.  Even the uncoordinated kids.  Even the serious and grouchy among us.  Even the ones that certainly don’t have time for this.

Join the dance.

And may that energy and passion and fun and levity and release and liberating feeling bleed over into our faith.  Yep, life can be challenging at times, but it’s also awesome and amazing and so much to be thankful for!  This isn’t a prosperity Gospel but it is join in on the freedom and contagious fun of life in Christ!

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy

Today was a good day.  No idea why exactly I feel that way, but when the chiropractor asked if I had a good day today, I said yes. 

Now seriously I don’t know why I would have said that.  Enoch woke up in the middle of the night not feeling well.  Evy had a “bug” this past weekend so we thought he just had what she had, but when our super silly, energetic little man is laying down, whiny, and falling asleep while watching cartoons – we’ve got a problem.  Mike drove Evy to school and me to work and left Enoch with me while he went to a meeting.  Enoch slept on the couch in my office underneath a beautiful prayer shawl as we waited for it to be time for his doctor’s appointment.

Did I get much work done today?  Nope.  I gave a valiant effort.  Maybe.  But it’s hard balancing Mommy with a demanding week of end of exams/graduation/preparing for next week’s mission to Harlem.  I often wish I could give everything I have to my kids/Mike and everything I have to ministry.  It’s somehow not just hard but feels next to impossible to equally divide my time.  Some weeks, it’s a predominant Wesley week – hello the last couple weeks of school.  And some weeks, it’s a catch up with the kids and enjoy not plugging in for awhile.

The thing that I loved about today – even in the midst of a crazy week where I’m not feeling like I’m getting much of anything done in the midst of feeling like I’m working all the time – was that I got to be Mommy.  I got to be there for the doctor’s visit and not have to hear about it later.  I got to be the one to get Enoch to take his Tylenol and get Evy to let her diaper be changed.  Yes, she’s in rare 2 year old form.  The 3 of us got to invade Mike’s space as he was watching the basketball game in our room and we all four had fun piling on the bed and being silly.  It was a good day.

It wasn’t a perfect day.  I didn’t get a darn thing done.  It included doctor’s visits, antiobiotic and Tylenol all over us a couple times, cat poop on the floor, Evy stripping off her pj’s to wear a pair of shorts that she loves and saw as I was putting it in the washing machine, and now – everyone asleep.  Mike and Enoch fell asleep watching the game.  Who knows if coughing will begin again or if one of the kids will end up in our bed or if we’ll all sleep peacefully through the night.

I am thankul for the chance to be Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.  As much as by the end of some long days as I’m finally sitting down and I hear the words “Mommy come here” I want to scream, I am thankful to be Mommy.  I am mindful as facebook is blowing up with pictures of people’s mothers all over the place, that some people didn’t have the greatest mom’s.  Some have also recently lost their mothers and I can’t even imagine that feeling or how much this time of the year may hurt.  Some others may not be able to be biological mothers but they are mothers to dozens of us nonetheless.  I know that has to be hard too.

I guess what I’m saying is that at the end of the day – Enoch and Evy have no facebook picture background to change.  Praise God – they would probably love the most hideous of photos, my sweet angelic little rascals.  But, I don’t want them to thank me, I want to thank them.  I can’t imagine my life without their marks all over our walls, the stains all over my shirts, or the precious feeling when they actually do say I love you.  I can’t imagine (actually sadly I probably could) what kind of insane workaholic I would be, if I didn’t have Mike and the kids to come home to.

So although in the sleepy hazy fog of tomorrow morning I may totally recant this entire thing (totally won’t happen), I find myself giving thanks for being Mommy.  Watch now, they’re going to use it extra special tomorrow in all kinds of fun ways.