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For These and All Thy Blessings…

This post is a long time coming…

I’m writing at my work desk, looking up at the row of windows above my desk, listening to Patsy Cline, and marveling at how life works out.  It’s hard to believe this is August, because it’s only been in the 90’s once in the last month.  It’s hard to believe that we live in Ohio, now, and that for the first time since December 2011, I’m bringing home a full pay check and benefits.  It’s hard to believe that I spent the first half of the summer pulling 80 hour weeks and running summer camp. It’s hard to remember that I don’t have three jobs, anymore.  And last week, I was so happy, just sitting at my desk and editing, I burst into tears. 

The newness is sweet enough to give me a toothache.  I know that at some point, the newness will start to rub off, and this will look and feel like normal.  But for now, I’m determined to soak in the deep well of happy I’ve fallen into, and not feel guilty, or wonder when the well might run dry, or try to decide if the speck on the horizon is a storm blowing in.  Instead, I’m going to mow the back yard, and steer clear of the poison ivy, and dead head the lilies that grow by our air conditioner.  I’m going to reacquaint myself with both my crock pots, and get some fresh herbs planted in the boxes we brought from Houston.  

Pay day was last Friday, and for the first time ever, I felt like a real writer.  Of all the things I ever wanted to be, professionally speaking,  this is the thing I wanted most, and wondered if it would ever come to be.  I am profoundly grateful for the ministry that is mine.  I remember having a similar feeling, when I was falling in love with my beloved…this feeling that what was happening was absolutely the right thing, that every step it took to get here was worth it, that all things really were counted as deep joy. 

It’s good to be here, and good to be caking, again.  Thank you for your love and prayers for me and mine as we make this transition.  Get ready…I’ve got some stories for you. 

Love,

rachie

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Christian or Follower of Jesus?

judgementquotes

With the reformation underway in American Christianity, there’s been a lot of talk over what that word (Christian) actually means and who gets to use it. Some people on both the left and right see themselves as gatekeepers and are busy declaring who is, and who is not, a Christian.

Thoughts for Thursday

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
(Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude)

I have prayed this prayer so many times, maybe not in those exact words but definitely the same sentiment. There is something comforting in the humility of this prayer, the acknowledging of my own shortcomings yet still the simple desire to do God’s will. I hope that wherever you are today, whatever is happening in your life, you’ll take a moment to pay this prayer with me.

Can the Evangelical Church Embrace Gay Couples?

In the end, it may not be theology or psychology that changes the most evangelical minds. Human relationships have a way of doing what academic arguments cannot. James Brownson was what he calls a “moderate conservative” on the question of homosexuality until his own son, a well-adjusted 18-year-old, came out to him and his wife eight years ago. “When I had to deal with my own son, a lot of the answers that were part of the tradition I’m part of and that I had assumed in the past just didn’t work,” he said. “We have to be able to talk about real people here.”

My Life Ate My Homework…

So, I forgot to post last week.  I mean, I forgot totally.  Like how you can totally know you are supposed to be at your doctor’s appointment, or dental cleaning, or godson’s band recital, and then just totally and completely bonk.  And I’m sorry about that.

Let me explain, with out making excuses…

Until about three weeks ago, I was working three different jobs, not counting the work I do on http://www.thedailycake.org.  Two weeks ago, I got to drop Job#3.  In five more weeks, I’ll get to drop #’s 1 and 2, and start up a brand new One and Only Job.  But first, I have to navigate the busy season, here and now.  And it’s kind of kicking my teeth in, presently.

The fun news is that I am going to be a real writer and editor.  This is the thing I’ve wanted to be for most of my adult life.  I still can’t believe I got the job.  My husband and I are moving 800 miles across the country, and out of our beloved Texas, in just a few short weeks.  The hard news is that I’m in the middle of running a mobile summer camp, and helping organize several mission trips and one overseas pilgrimage, and packing up our entire life…oh, and we’re trying to figure out if we’re taking the dog and cat with us, and how all that’s going to happen.  And on Thursday, we’re flying up so my husband can interview for a job, and we can hopefully find a house to send all our stuff to.

So, I’ll try to keep my ducks in a row.  And please remember I love you, and love writing on this blog.

 

–Rachel

Give Me Your Hand

Maya Angelou died today at the age of 86. A friend of mine posted A Conceit, one of her poems, online, and it’s small and lovey. It begins:

Give me your hand

Make room for me
to lead and follow
you
beyond this rage of poetry.

This poem makes me think of an essay I read by Mary Karr called Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer. In it she writes:

From a very early age, when I read a poem, it was as if the poet’s burning taper touched some charred filament in my rib cage to set me alight. Somehow—long before I’d published—that connection even extended from me outward. Lifting my face from the page, I often faced my fellow creatures with less dread. Maybe secreted in one of them was an ache or tenderness similar to the one I’d just eaten of.

Which makes me think of all that Angelou has done with her witness and her words to connect us and change us for the better. Rest in Peace.

You can read the full poem here.

For These and All Thy Blessings: The King of All Bigs

Dear Jesus,

One of our godchildren is at that special age where his imagination and his vocabulary have magically melded and made him one of the funniest people I know.  From games like “Stick a Rock Up Your Nose” and “Ready, Set, Sniff”, this little blonde whirlwind keeps us on our toes.  “Fillion” is the king of all numbers.  “Gimongous” is the king of all big.

I have to say, right now, I’m working on a list that feels like it’s more like the Mother of All Lists, and so much more than just the king.

In fact, I’ve started referring to it (just in my head, and now, in the computer universe…) as the M.O.A.L.  It’s got a fillion things on it.  It is gimongous.

MOAL…like this.  And this.  And this.

But, oh…the adventures that await us, once my beloved and I navigate that list…

I’ll be so excited to tell you more about it, in the coming days and weeks, and to bring you along with us.

I’ve just been offered an associate editor position for Forward Movement.  This is the chance to be what I’ve wanted to be.

I’m so grateful for my sweet husband–my chief encourager and comfort in leaping at this opportunity, and who is by my side, every step of the way.  I can’t wait to see what happens, next.   There are many things to do, and many rivers to cross between Houston and Cincinnati.  But I’m so, so, so excited.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Love,

Rachel

 

 

Letting the Darkness In

We’ve got big windows in our apartment which let in lots of light, and we’ve been enjoying the spring sunlight, but I’m thinking a bit about darkness. This is because I just read Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark. In it, she gives up on “full solar spirituality,” and examiners her lunar faith, which waxes and wanes over time.

After so many years of trying to cobble together a way of thinking about God that makes sense so that I can safely settle down with it, it all turns to nada.  There is no permanently safe place to settle. I will always be at sea, steering by stars. Yet as dark as this sounds, it provides great relief, because it now sounds truer than anything that came before.

I think many of us know at some level that darkness and light are natural parts of life and faith, , that “dark and light, faith and doubt, divine absence and presence, do not exist at opposite poles. . . . As different as they are, they come from and return to the same source.”

Although she acknowledges that some have darkness in them they have to fight, it’s also a reminder that we do not have to fight off everything that is dark and painful and difficult. That’s exhausting. The darkness has things to teach us, and anyway we’re going to be in it sometimes whether we like it or not.

This is, in some sense, an invitation to let go and let in the difficult emotions, the doubts and fears. Leave the lights off. Sometimes God is in the dark cloud, and in the dark you can be transformed and changed.

 

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Thousand Word Friday–#bringbackourgirls

Thousand Word Friday--#bringbackourgirls

#bringbackourgirls

Moveable Feast

“…deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, ‘You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well’, as if he said, ‘Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time you will truly see it in the fullness of joy.” 
― Julian of NorwichRevelations of Divine Love

 

I think I like St. Julian because she preaches the Gospel to me in a way I can believe without feeling like I’m deluding myself.  She’s a mystic, and I like that, too.  I wish I could be a mystic, but I think I probably think too much about moisturizer to qualify.  All I know is that when I read what she’s got to say, what she seems to understand about this life, I feel better.  Sometimes, just having someone else say, “This stuff is hard…and raw…and real, and it’s ok.  Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, or that you’re being punished.  It just means that somethings are really hard, no matter how much you love Jesus.  Loving Jesus just helps you deal with the hardness, makes a way to be with Jesus in the hardness, makes a way for Jesus to resurrect and renew the raw and the real of our day-to-day lives.”  That’s what I hear her saying, anyway.

 

Light a candle.  Say a prayer.  All things shall be well.

 

Love,

rachie