Posts Tagged ‘synchroblog’

Christian Community Saved My Faith

whatsavedmyfaithI’m joining the synchroblog for the release of A Christian Survival Guide: A Lifeline to Faith and Growth by answering the prompt: ‘What saved my faith?’

One of the darkest times in my life was before I had my son and I wrestled with God about my infertility. What saved my faith in that time were my faith communities. I wrote more about that in an older post about coping with infertility. Here is an excerpt:

Even when I’m mad at God, I need the support of my faith communities.

It was a big turning point for me before we had our son when I finally asked to be added to the church prayer list for my infertility concerns. I had told one or two people in the church, but most people had no idea. When I asked for prayer it became public. I was nervous at first, but my church family at the time held my prayer need with utmost respect.

When I am struggling in my faith I am particularly glad for corporate worship and liturgy in particular. Even if I can’t pray, the community of faith carries me through their prayers. Churches who do liturgical worship are accused sometimes of “just going through the motions.” I have to tell you though, when infertility plunged me to my lowest point, those “motions” were all I had. Reciting liturgy that I have memorized, that I know by heart allowed me to pray when I would not have otherwise been able to pray.

One thing that helped me also was when my congregation and other supportive faith communities became aware of the pain of infertility. Due to awareness about infertility, my church family prayed for couples who cannot have children on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Before I had my son, fellow members of an online discussion group for Pastor’s Wives made a point to show sensitivity when sharing about baby news.

What saved your faith? Write your own post answering that question and then visit http://www.edcyzewski.com to learn how you can join the synchroblog or to read additional posts to celebrate the release of Ed’s book A Christian Survival Guide, which is discounted on Amazon this week.

P.S. I got to chat with Ed Cyzewski about A Christian Survival Guide for the Life & Liberty podcast. Listen to our chat here: http://www.davidhousholder.com/a-christian-survival-guide-ed-cyzewski/

Starting a New Year Presently

present

Over the past few years I’ve noticed bloggers doing this thing where they pick a word for their year. I don’t totally know how it is supposed to work, and since I was doing well just to start this thing part-way into last year, I didn’t worry about picking a word. I just needed to start.

But this year, I wanted to pick a word. Well, it’s not so much that I wanted to pick a word as that God kept laying this one idea on my heart–over and over. So, I wanted to put a word to it for 2014.

The idea that God has been nudging me toward has come with a number of different words: “showing up,” being “incarnational,” and such like.

Basically, my natural inclination is to retreat. When I’m super stressed out, I probably need a good stretch of solitude to right myself.

I don’t withdraw to avoid conflict. In fact, I’m surprisingly comfortable navigating interpersonal rifts and engaging opposing viewpoints.

But I do like to escape into my inner-world. I have a super-active thought-life that doesn’t slow down–ever. In my previous post titled Why I Love Conferences Even Though I’m an Introvert (click the title to read that post), I explained, “I can be in a crowd of people and be totally withdrawn into my own thought-world.”

I don’t consciously try to shut people out, but this natural inclination to retreat does mean that I have to consciously make myself get out, reach out, and be connected to others.

At first when we moved to this super rural community I was a little troubled by the fact that there wasn’t a paying job for me way out here in the Texas countryside. As time has gone on, what I have found is that this easy country life has been a great opportunity to do the writing that I have wanted to do. And the preaching & speaking opportunities have come just often enough that I can bring in a little income for my family.

All the same, this country life has made it easier than ever in my life to retreat to a fault. And my dear husband is so supportive of my writing and preaching and speaking that he lets me retreat whenever I need to. This is great when I need it, but not great when I am needed elsewhere.

So the big challenge for me is pushing myself to get outside of myself more despite how easy it is to retreat. With that, my word for 2014 is…

Present

I’ve never been very big on New Year’s Resolutions–mostly because making resolutions all-of-a-suddenly, out of nowhere seems like a recipe for failure. But this word, this idea of being present has come from quite some time of reflection and I am indeed resolved to work at it in 2014.

Some specific ways I want to live this out are:

  • Getting up & ready by X time everyday, so I can be ready for unexpected opportunities to be present with others.
  • Putting events on my personal calendar as soon as I learn of them so I can make sure to be present at events that are too easy to forget without planning for them.
  • Writing on the blog 1-2 original posts each week so I can continue to cultivate a consistent online presence.

This is new territory for me in choosing a word and making resolutions. But New Year’s is generally an upswing for me as my birthday falls on the third day of each new year (yes today). So, I am optimistic about my resolve to live into this intentionality of presence. Pluswhich, somehow 2013 was the best year of my life so far, so I want to be fully present for whatever 2014 might bring.

This post is part of the January 2014 Synchroblog: New Beginnings. See what other Synchroblog contributors are saying about their New Beginnings:

My Itinerant Home

all-of-life-is-coming-homeIs home a place? Neither the family I grew up in nor the family I have married into have stayed in one place which makes the idea of “home” a little complicated.

Where I Came From

I grew up and went to school from Kindergarten through 12th grade in Pickerington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. In many ways, I still feel Pickerington is my home. But none of my family lives there anymore.

My parents divorced when I was 14 years old and both stayed in Pickerington until after both of us kids graduated from high school. So, for a while there I had two homes in my hometown–the house where I grew up and lived most of the time with my mom and brother, and the apartment where my dad lived and my brother and I would visit on Dad’s weekends. When it came time for Christmas, my brother and I had two homes to help decorate!

But shortly after I got married, my dad bought himself a house in a neighboring suburb of Columbus. And two years after my wedding, my mother sold our family home to move in with her new husband–about an hour away from Columbus.

My parents are still alive and well and I go and visit them in their new homes when I can.  As time has gone on, I do feel “at home” when I visit my parents in their respective new homes–I know my way around their kitchens, I can find the right light switches in the middle of the night. But the sense of “home” I have about being there with them is disconnected from the places where we actually dwelled together during my younger years.

I haven’t been back to my actual hometown of Pickerington for quite some time. And even when I do go there, I feel a bit like a fish out of water, having no place to lay my head in the town where I grew up.

On the Move

After I finished high school, I went for one year to Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. Then I married my husband and moved to Indiana where he was serving as pastor of his first church. Then began even more moving in my life as a pastor’s wife.

In 18 years of marriage we have lived in 7 different dwellings in 4 different states. We have had 3 major cross-country moves–from Indiana to Florida, from Florida to Ohio, and from Ohio to Texas.

In each place we have lived we have tried to fully enter into the life of each community. It’s important to us to live near the church where my husband serves. We shop local and we frequent the restaurants nearest our home. Everybody knows our names and we like it that way.

We have done our very best to make each place our home. And each community continues to hold a special place in our hearts.

But we don’t have family in any of those places and the actual dwellings we lived in are filled with different people now.

And given the dynamics of pastoral ministry, returning to previous churches has a very different feel as my husband does not want to make things awkward for current pastors. We are clear that we are guests, friends even. But those churches are no longer “ours” as they once were.

We are simply visitors in places we used to live.

Home Now

Home for us now is a small town in Texas. And once again, in the town where my husband pastors, we are doing our usual routine of making this place our home. And truly the steakhouse in our town–JW’s Steakhouse in Carmine, Texas–is the best steakhouse in the whole state.

It is so strange to call this state my home. When I first met my husband and learned he was from Texas, it didn’t even occur to me that I might live there, ever. Even when we got married, I thought we would probably stay in the midwest our whole lives together. Unless, of course, we got sent to the mission field somewhere. Somehow going to a foreign country seemed more likely then moving to the Lone Star State.

But here we are.

And my husband’s family is all over this great state as well. So, he kinda is back home. And as I’ve mentioned before, his family has really made me feel at home among them. I even know my way around his parents’ kitchen and can find the light switches in their house in the middle of the night.

I’m not home at all, and yet I really am. I think, in many ways, the itinerancy of my home has deepened my reliance on the relationships rather than the places of home. In this sense, I can make my home anywhere despite never being able to actually go home in the way that more settled people can.

My Heart All Over

And yet, I still feel the attachments to and longings for my former homes. And sometimes when I think about all the friends I have left behind from moving around so much, my heart hurts. I feel like little pieces of me are all over, but I can never be there enough to have what I once did in those places and with those people.

And I try not to think too much about it because I think I really could wall myself off from the possibilities in my current setting. I mean, it gets more difficult to invest in each new place so deeply. Sometimes it seems easier just to stop forging the new connections.

I don’t want to do that though, I want to keep investing in each place. I want to keep being incarnational with the people where I am. Even if I can’t ever truly go home, I can be fully present wherever it is I find myself. That’s the best I can do and I pray for the love and grace to continue to make my heart a place of welcome for those I meet in each new place.

——-

This post is my contribution to a monthly Synchroblog that I am joining for the first time. The December topic is Coming Home. The following is a list of other bloggers writing on this topic:

I’m a Jesus Feminist Because I Don’t Have to Be One

I'm a Jesus Feminist

My friend Sarah Bessey coined the term “Jesus Feminist” and recently published a book by that name. She has invited others to reflect on the ways they identify with this term. Here’s my take: I’m a Jesus Feminist because I don’t have to be one.

I grew up in a time and place and in a home where, as a young woman, I had every opportunity. This was so completely true that I took feminism for granted.

I even bought into many of the negative stereotypes of feminists. I could disparage feminism in my youth because of the rights and opportunities that past feminist movements afforded me.

I didn’t have to be a feminist because of all the hard work for women’s rights that had already been done.

While I never knew a woman pastor growing up, I was in a denomination where women were permitted to serve in every capacity in the church. But I became acquainted with other denominations where this was not the case.

My own first experience in which I felt I was treated differently because of being a woman wasn’t until college. A guest-lecturer utterly dismissed an insightful comment I made after class only to go right back to chatting away with the male student that was still in the room.

But this was only the beginning. Over time I began to learn more about the plight of women around the world and I realized that I was very fortunate to have the rights and opportunities that I have.

When it came time for me to have my son, I made the seemingly “backward” decision to be a stay-at-home mom–not because I had to but because I wanted to. By this time I recognized that making this decision was a privilege afforded me by the work of feminists ahead of me.

When my friend Sarah Bessey announced that she was writing Jesus Feminist and she talked about her interest in feminism being motivated by following Jesus, it resonated deeply with me. I didn’t want to be an angry, man-hating feminist, but I do care about women being treated as people! And my own personal study of scripture led me to believe that God highly values daughters and sons alike.

I think I took the long route to come to terms with my own feminist streak. But the long and the short of it is, I am a Jesus Feminist because I don’t have to be one.

This post is part of Sarah Bessey’s “In which we are Jesus feminists synchroblog.” >>>Click here to read other stories of how and why folks became Jesus feminists.<<<

I also had the opportunity to interview Sarah about the book for Life & Liberty! >>>Click here to listen to the interview.<<<

Order Jesus Feminist from my section at the Amazon store at Life & Liberty.

Disclaimer: Your purchase via this link will help support Life & Liberty, an online magazine where I am a Spirituality Editor.

I Am From Pathways

I-AM-FROM_800

Today I am linking up with the She Loves Magazine “I Am From” Synchroblog

I am from charging cords, from Legos, and stacks of Bibles.

I am from the clutter with pathways cut through.

I am from the parched grasses, the pecan tree whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.

I’m from The Farming Game and quick wit, from Idella and Lenore.

I’m from creativity and rumination and long, drawn-out discussions.

I’m from preventing fires, and not being the boss of my brother, and wanting them to know we are Christians by our love.

I’m from summers in Massachusetts where I tried to forge pathways through muck.

I’m from Columbus, Ohio and from people whose waterways were first forged by the Mayflower, venison summer sausage and special carrots.

From a husband who saves turtles, a tireless servant of God, long letters tucked away that cut pathways for love to emerge.