Lasts.

I have never been flippant about leaving things behind.

As a kid, I cried when my someone came to buy our little old pickup.  We were buying a big, shiny truck to take its place, but I was still sad.  I felt bad for the old one.  I cried when I came home from school one day to discover a new color TV sitting where our trusty black-and-white set had been.  I didn’t get to say goodbye.  The few weeks before moving to college …. how many ‘lasts’ can there BE for an 18-year-old?  This is the last time I’ll go to church as a resident of this town…. this the last time I’ll sit in this kitchen as a full-time resident of this house. The kitchen itself was sad about this, I thought.  No sentiment was left unturned.

In just a few days our church throws open the doors on a new worship center.  You can read about that project here. We have lots and lots of things to look forward to in this new part of the building.  But we also say goodbye to our ‘old room’.

At the time our original building was built, the people of this church had the wisdom to create a space that could be used for everything. And 23 years later, it has been.  The room has held all the expected things, like weddings and funerals and meals and meetings. But it has cheerfully held its fair share of unusual things… like rappelling and basketball and entire villages made of cardboard.

We’ve now had our last band rehearsal and our last set of Sunday worship services in this room. It isn’t going away; we now get to dream about new ways to use it. But it turns out I have a little emotional attachment to this space.  I have been learning how to worship in this room for 15 years; I have been learning to create opportunities for the church family to worship here for 10. I have learned what a ‘band’ sounds and feels like.  I have planned and led worship experiences during great celebrations, and during times of confusion and grief.  In this room, Neil and I dedicated our kids, and we said goodbye to a dear friend. I’ve laughed and cried and messed up and stumbled into great ideas.

Never do I want to slip into believing that the church IS the building or that the building IS the church. The church is a group of people unified by God’s grace and purpose to be His hands and feet in the world. The building is a tool. But memories are linked to locations, and this part of this building is linked to my entire ministry career so far.  It’s a room.  But it’s been a cheerful friend, willing to handle whatever we’ve tried to create within its walls.  For that I am grateful.

Dirty Girls Ministries

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What? Pornography is only a problem for guys, right? Right? As it turns out…. no, not so much. Today I write to bring attention to Dirty Girls Ministries, a Christian anti-pornography ministry created to help women who struggle with pornography addiction. The mission of Dirty Girls Ministries is to…

  • Bring awareness to the porn problem among women today
  • Show struggling women they are not alone
  • Demonstrate hope for recovery from this addiction
  • Explain that the Bible and Jesus have the answer

These things are accomplished through online recovery groups, coaching networks, resources, and prayer support. Dirty Girls Ministries was founded by  Crystal Renaud in February 2009. After ‘meeting’ Crystal through the blog and twitter world a few years ago, I was finally able to meet her in person this summer as she generously spent an evening with our family.  I saw in person what I had already seen online… a talented, honest, God-chasing woman who is taking every opportunity she can to serve God and others through her gifts and experiences. Crystal launched a website survey earlier this year to try to find out the scope of this issue. Within weeks, she had received over 300 surveys from women across the nation proving not only can women be porn addicts, but that they are in desperate need of help.

Dirty Girls Ministries is for real. The need for this ministry is real. So take a moment… check it out… and start talking about it.

The upside of longevity.

My husband and I have been involved at our church for fifteen years.  For the first twelve of those years, Neil was the youth pastor of the church.  For the past ten years, I’ve been on staff as the worship leader.  Honestly, there have been times that I’ve wanted desperately to throw my hands in the air, turn my back, and walk away from this church. But there are lots of reasons why I’m glad we have not done that. Lately, I’ve been reminded of a few of those reasons. We get to do some amazing things.

Attend college grad parties for students we also saw graduate from high school. And junior high.
Attend weddings of former youth group students.
See former youth group students become amazing parents.
See our kids become friends with children of former youth group students.
See shy fourth graders grow up to be vivacious college students.
See former campers be counselors for my own kids.
Attend the baptisms, graduations, and weddings of all the kids in a family.
Act as references for students who are applying for involvement in innovative ministries.
See former ministry team members become amazing leaders of their own minstries.
Follow the thread of gifting through a student’s life, and seeing that gifting blossom into real action.  

So, do I think staying in one ministry for a long time is easy? No.  Do I think it’s required? No. But do I think it’s good and valuable, yes. Absolutely.

The people I’d spy on….

My friend Tam posted this question on her blog this week: if you were invisible, where would you go? what would you do? and why? 

It’s a fun question, and I thought of about 14 fun answers immediately.  And then I realized I was confusing ‘being invisible’ with ‘being invisible with unlimited funds’.  

So I reeled in my glamourous travel plans and, eventually, I landed at these answers.  Which, it turns out, are way better anyway. 

If I were invisible, I would watch my kids go through their day at school.  I visit a lot, but of course nothing is normal with a visible parent in the room. I would love to see them interact with their friends…. interact with their teachers…. really see how they respond throughout the day. I think I would be surprised in lots of ways.

If I were invisible I would watch my husband at work.  He’s brilliant, and creative, and works with a great team of other brilliant creatives.  My hunch is that their teamwork is at its best when there aren’t other people skulking around the office.  I would love to watch them do what they do.

And finally, my dad.  My dad has been a pastor for 16 years.  Neil and I have been involved in church ministry in some form for 14 years, living about an hour away from my parents. So we’ve all learned things together.  My dad was a dairy farmer when I was growing up, and if you know anything about family-owned dairy farms, you’ll understand why he was a guy that routinely fell asleep at 8pm and rarely had time for any kind of scholarly pursuits.  He has since that time become a person who has a new book to recommend every time we see him… leads his church with integrity and vision… and has a heart for the community surrounding him. Every once in a while this ‘new’ version of my dad still catches me off-guard.  But the truth is, he’s a great leader.  He’s a ridiculously energetic pastor serving a church with a unique set of cultural realities. His church is growing, vibrant, and writing a new manual on how to serve a community. I would LOVE to watch him at work for a while.  

So. Your turn. What would YOU do if YOU were invisible?