#RunLikeaGirl

#runlikeagirl

#superbowlcommercials

Okay, it is quite safe for me to admit that I am not that great at getting out timely posts. Perhaps I think about them too long. Perhaps I procrastinate on the writing part. Perhaps I just find other things that I think are more important at the moment. Perhaps…well, this could go on for a very long time.

So this post is a bit on the late side. The Super Bowl is almost out of everyone’s memory by now and so are the commercials that so many people looked forward to watching. When I saw the “Always” commercial “#likeagirl” I immediately began to think about this post but alas, I am just getting around to it.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it here.

Thank you, “Always” for getting this message out and making a part of our social conversation. You are so very right.

I am the proud father of three very wonderful young women…

My oldest has had a harder life than many would imagine. She came from a broken home – her mother and I divorced before her second birthday. She spent most of her life going between homes and trying to figure out the different boundaries that came with those homes and the changes that took place in them. Sometime in her teen years she became addicted to pain killers and carried that addiction through a couple of relationships.

But she kicked it. She survived.

Now, she is a stay at home mom to five children and the supportive wife of my favorite son-in-law. (Okay…I only have one but he’s a great one – great with the kids and good to my daughter.) She is surviving day by day and has recently become very active in a local church that is made up of families a lot like hers – where someone in the family is fighting “the” fight. I am so proud of this young lady who #kickeditlikeagirl and #survivedlikeagirl . We could all wish to do so well.

My middle daughter is finishing up her first year at Marshall University as a Voice Major. We moved right after her sophomore year of high school and this young lady had to navigate her last two years of high school in a brand new community. She did it with style, excelling both academically – top ten in her class – and in music – just too many accomplishments to mention. I can’t forget that she not only sings, she speaks, she preaches with boldness and conviction.

She also navigated the decisions surrounding college and college financing on her own. Her mother and I were there to support and talk, but we left the decision up to her. She chose a school that she could both love and afford to pay on her own.

I am so proud of the way this girl uses her gifts.

She #thinkslikeagirl , #preacheslikeagirl and #planslikeagirl . We could all hope to do so well.

My youngest is still navigating the landmine that is known as high school. I don’t envy anyone in that position. But this young lady paves her own path. She recently returned from a twenty day mission trip to India. It was her first time in an airplane and she decides to fly half-way around the world! She sings, she is teaching herself to play the ukulele and she is asking the hard questions of her faith that many don’t get around to asking till much later in life. I am proud of the way this young lady displays her love for all people. I am proud of the way she follows in the footsteps and shadows of her sisters and yet find her own journey to take.

On top of all of this she has the wit and humor of one twenty years older than herself. A sharp wit. A polished use of sarcasm. A laugh that infects all around her. She’s just funny!

She #discoverslikeagirl , she #loveslikeagirl and she #bringsjoylikeagirl .

Several years ago, I had a couple of colleagues that made the obvious observation that I suck at basketball. In their effort to make their observation funny they began saying, “You run like a girl.” And yes, I laughed and joined in by returning the favor.

I get it now.

“Like a girl” needs to mean AMAZING THINGS like I see in my girls. We do need to rewrite the rules. (Okay…admit you haven’t seen the commercial yet…here’s another link.)

I can only hope to be as strong as my girls!

Go!

“Baptizing a baby is the most dangerous and reckless act a set of parents can do with a child. If this child is one that you want, you need to stay as far away from the baptismal font as possible.”

I have said these words a couple dozen times in the last twenty some years of being a pastor.  I said them with all seriousness because I truly believe them.  We think as parents that we can look out for our children, do what is best for our children, and perhaps even plan and work towards a good future for our children.

And then, in Baptism, we go and give them to God!

Sure, we promise to do all we can to bring them up in the faith.  (Yet another dangerous act!) Yes, we do this partially out of cultural significance – at least in the church culture.  But sometimes we don’t think completely about what we are doing.  That’s why I make the statement that I do.

Hammock from Nicaragua

Hammock from Nicaragua

This hammock is “resting” in our garage for the winter.  It had spent the summer in our backyard on a stand that I had to move about 37 times when I was mowing the grass.  (Our house does not have a “lawn”.  I don’t do lawns.  I am lucky to say that most of the yard is grass, thank you, very much.)  It did get used quite a bit by different members of the household, but truth be told, I probably used it more than it’s owner – my daughter.

I spent many an afternoon laying in the hammock and just thinking.  I don’t sleep well in it so I rest…and when I rest, I think.  And some of my thoughts were about the very strings that were holding me up off the ground and giving me the rest that I needed at the moment.

Most would not think of a hammock as something associated with the word “Go.”  Stranger still might be the connection between “go,” “hammock” and “baptism.”  But because some words leave a lasting sticky residue in your mouth, I have no trouble at all with the connection.

This hammock from Nicaragua returned with my now senior in high school daughter when she returned from a mission trip in December and January of 2012.  I worried a lot while she was gone.  I marked the passing of her sixteenth birthday without her while she was away.  I prayed a lot while she was gone.  She turned off her phone when she arrived in Managua because she wanted to totally immerse herself in her work and I didn’t here from her directly for over two weeks.  Like I said, I prayed a lot while she was gone.

She did come home and she brought this great “‘restful” gift with her.

But the fact of the matter is that whenever I see that hammock…whenever I am attempting to rest in its web of strings, I remember that my wife and I stood before a congregation, let our District Superintendent sprinkle water on her head and let God claim her as one of God’s own.  Even then I knew how dangerous an act that was but I thought I could control things better.

Alas, God said, “Go.”

And I am blessed because my daughter listened.  Grayer…but blessed.

Looking Around…Again

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Bluefield Daily Telegraph photo of the Sunday afternoon work team.

The dust coming off the building as the hammers and chisels worked away at the painted cement on the brick surface made it difficult to look around much at all.  However, the sweat coming off of my forehead and rolling into my eyes made it necessary to stop every once in a while and wipe.  (At home later that afternoon the sand and grit that had stuck to my sweaty face gave me a free exfoliation as I washed it away.  But it felt good.  It felt really good.)  During those little breaks, I could look around – even if it was a little blurry.

I looked around and I saw at least four generations represented in the work crew.  Youth, young adults, middle age adults and even some into retirement were all working away together to help make a way for a local artist to turn a building into a canvas.  There were people on ladders and people working at just one level.  There was laughter and there were groans.  There was the roar of a bucket truck motor and shouts as people tried to talk over it.  There was and eerie silence when the motor stopped and I could hear car horns honking as people drove by, encouraging us in our work to make our city a little brighter.

I looked around and I saw history repeating itself and prepare to repeat itself yet again.  The man who led the project said to me, “My dad and I planted those trees across the street thirty years ago.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  Now we are getting ready to cut those trees down as part of this project so everything can be seen better; so the whole town looks a little brighter.”  If I were standing on this same lot thirty years from now, I am sure I could look around and see one of a number of youth who were working that day tell someone, “I remember the day we worked to clean off this wall so this painting could be done. I still remember the dust like it was yesterday!  But now it’s time for a new building so that the whole town can seem a little brighter.  I’m just glad I can be a part of this new day.”

I looked around and I saw one of our youth offering a cold cup of water to a person standing on the street.  She started to give him a piece of pizza from the lunch we shared before the work began and then thought better of it and gave him the whole box.  He took it gladly and humbly and walked away to some of his friends “from the street” to share.

I drove by that lot on my way to the hospital later that day and stopped for just a minute.  The work wasn’t complete, that was certain, but I looked around at what we had completed to see what I could see.  I looked around again and saw…well, I saw that the Kingdom had come near.

Looking Around

In the Fall of 1989, I was headed back to college after a break of a couple of years.  I was a new student pastor – in Kincaid, WV – and a new student at what is now West Virginia University of Technology.  (It was just known as WV Tech when I was there.)  I had spent the summer getting to know my two new churches, was enjoying the “newness” of ministry and really looking forward to getting back and finishing my education.

The first day of classes arrived and I found myself running late to make the trip across the mountain that separated Kincaid and Montgomery.  I rushed out of the house and then back into it to get my book bag and then hurried toward my car a second time.  I got in, started it up and backed up in my parking area (yes, the parsonage actually had a space where you could park four or five cars – the down side of that was that you had a steep driveway to get onto Johnson Branch Rd.) and within a second or two found myself stopping abruptly and unexpectedly as I smashed into another vehicle parked behind me.

Now, if I back up a couple of days I can explain how the vehicle got there… My neighbors across the street were have a lot of company visiting them from time to time and graciously I invited them to park in this nice parking area since there home had very limited parking.  Well, obviously my neighbor took me up on the offer and her brother from Ohio paid the price.    I tore the tailgate right off of his truck as I backed up in a rush that morning not even checking my rearview mirror simply because I had become so accustomed to driving there that I didn’t think I needed to pay attention.

Oh, they were gracious in accepting my apologies and were even good enough to work out a reduced price for me to pay for the damages.  However, no one from that family ever parked in the area again!

Sometimes, I fear that we are so accustomed to seeing certain things around us – or not seeing them – that we fail to notice when something changes.  (How many people have seen the new signs for Princeton?  Has anyone noticed that the dead tree in the fountain area across from the church has been removed?)

My reason for telling all this is pretty simple: If we desire to be the church in the heart of Princeton then one of the main things we will have to do is keep our eyes open no matter how many times we are around our community.  There are countless ways that we can show our love (be the heart) for this community – if we aren’t to busy getting to our destination that we fail to notice what is really happening around us.

Jesus is ready to come back to this community and we can pave the way by spending our treasures – time, talents and resources – where we see the needs.  That is, as long as we aren’t so busy that we back into them and cause damage instead.

The church in the heart of Princeton!  I know we love this place and we love this community.  I just pray that we are ready to be Jesus as each and every opportunity arises!

Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions, and give alms.  Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.  (Luke 12:32-34, 40 NRSV)