Monday, February 21, 2011

Family Pictures

Brian and I will soon get to fly from Des Moines, IA to Denver, CO and meet a special group of friends who are in ministry leadership around North America, thanks to a Peer Learning Grant from Sustaining Pastoral Excellence (SPE) a grant that pays for the expenses that an event like this takes. We met 2 1/2 years ago in Big Bear, CA and it really impacted and encouraged Brian and I.

You can read a reflection on how this group of friends formed on this article in the Calvin Seminary FORUM.

One of the preparations, along with the preparations for leaving three small children home, is gathering pictures to help tell the story of what God has been doing for the past 2 1/2 years. I enjoyed reflecting while doing this, and am excited to hear everyone's stories once we settle in our mountain cabins!

Summer 2008 in Big Bear, CA

The group in 2008

The family pictures so just how much we've grown in 2 1/2 years!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Healing Begins

A Prayer based on Psalm 90:

Teach us, Lord, to count our days
that we may gain a wise heart.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

There was a beautiful mid-winter sunrise earlier this winter over the Iowa landscape. One of the benefits of living in wide open spaces of the country is getting to enjoy the big sky in some of it's greatest moments of glory. Winter sunrises offer some of the most spectacular shows. Sometimes it is in unlikely places that we find beauty, like the middle of Iowa winters, in a cemetery.

Since I was up way to early, I drove to capture some photos of the sunrise before my "sons" woke up.

Several older cemeteries are scattered along roadsides, surrounded by farm land. If you grew up in the country, chances are there is one with in a few miles of your house with large conifer trees shading it.

There was a cemetery across from the church I grew up in that we sometimes would play in before or after soup supers and cadet car races when our parents were visiting and us elementary school girls wanted something to do, like throw rocks at the ducks in the pond and pretend we were making wishes in the wishing well. We had a Sunday School teacher that took us to the cemetery for a walk. We didn't think anything of it. It was just sort of part of the church landscape, an extension of the community. Some of us in the class had grandparents buried there.

Hearing stories from older generations reminds us that the cemetery and the community of people lived a little closer to each other. The church and the cemetery shared the same field, in-home funerals were common, and, more people died.

Today marks the beginning of the forty day journey of Lent: a time of renewal for those who follow Christ, beginning with the imposition of ashes and the scripture, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return (from Genesis 3).

So why start a season of renewal with reminding ourselves of death? It isn't an easy way to invite a friend to church, "Hey, we are reflecting on death this week, why don't you visit?" Hmm...not likely to get a yes.

Sometimes it is some of the most unlikely place we find beauty, like the middle of Iowa winters, in a cemetery.

I was reminded of this when I heard, "Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North was inspired after praying in a cemetery.

This is where the healing begins, this is where the healing starts.
When you come to where you're broken within, the light meets the dark.

There is nothing like reflecting on death to help you get your priorities straight.

Search out the brokenness of Good Friday, so that he may heal you with the spirit of Easter.

May God the Father, who does not despise the broken spirit, give you a contrite heart.
May Christ, who bore our sins in his body on the tree, heal you by his wounds.

May the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, speak to you words of pardon and peace.

The sunrise reflection in the windows of church.