Re-THINK-ing Lent

18 02 2010

It’s Lent—perhaps my favorite liturgical season. There’s so much possibility with Lent… so much that could happen, spiritually speaking. At least there are a lot of intentions, on my part. I won’t bore you with my list of intentions for the season… or even for the past week. Suffice it to say, it’s tempting to already give up, knowing that it’s not possible for me to fulfil all my intentions. And yet I’m going to try to figure out ways to make Lent a bit more meaningful this year. 

At Christ Covenant Church, we have a theme for Lent: Re-THINK Lent. The purpose is to help make Lent more meaningful for all of us—spiritually. To Re-THNK the ways we do things, the habits we have, the ways our Christian faith makes a difference in our daily lives. Today, Ash Wednesday, we start with our intentions…

And so I’m thinking about my intentions. My intentions for my relationship with God and others. And my intentions to live as though Jesus Christ makes a difference in my life. I’m pretty much convinced that today’s best wishes will not amount to much. And yet that’s part of what I like about Lent—there’s still the possibility.

So I’m going to try. I’m going to try to take a photo a day that makes me think about Lent…. I’m going to try and spend some good time each day focusing on prayer—the talking to God and the listening to God.  And I’m going to try to live into the season.  Whatever that means.

So, my first photo is a blurry photo of the stained glass window in the church sanctuary… blurry because it reflects my intentions… wanting to focus on the cross and on my faith, but not always happening that way.





Guilt photos

5 04 2009

Not guilt about taking the photos, not guilt in the photos. Guilt because I haven’t posted in so long. So these photos are the guilt blog. Or one of the guilt blogs. I want to say so much, write so much–about Kajsa, about life, about faith… but I’m running out of steam lately, and so photos have to do once again.

alexander

Lost and Found

Poang

Grover

38. following the big kids





I might be going to hell…

14 12 2007

if the phrase, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is true. Thankfully, though it may be partially true, I realize there’s more to it than that. But, just for a split second today, I realized that my “good intentions” list has been growing and growing… and my actual productivity level has not been growing in proportion. So, here are some of the many things I fully intended to do this week or last week or last month or even today:

send a Thanksgiving letter

write a Thanksgiving letter

catch up on work I’m behind on (church work)

reply to all those emails that came in that I’ve forgotten about, yet need a response

send a Christmas letter

write a Christmas letter

send Christmas gifts to friends and family

buy Christmas gifts for friends and family

post today’s Advent photo before noon

take today’s Advent photo before noon

respond to hard words rather than react

go to bed earlier than 12:30 am

walk the dogs today

forgive someone hard to forgive

ask for forgiveness

write a letter of appreciation for someone who is leaving his position

clean the house

move the home office downstairs

organize my winter clothes

start our child’s nursery

call friends and family

start sermon early

finish my list of “necessary phone calls” yesterday

Advent devotions today

call youth to see how they’re doing

read a book

read several books

play in the snow with the dogs

blog several times in the past week

read the newspaper

play the geography games online that help me learn world geography

check our adoption paperwork to see if it’s all good (might need to be fingerprinted again… joy)

call my Mom

spend less time on the computer

exercise

do my laundry

clean my church office

finish my Guatemala ’06 scrapbook

and many many more things….

ah, well… such is life. Good intentions are great, but now I need to work on some of these items. Thank goodness–no, thank God–for grace.





Ordinary Birds

5 12 2007

Jim bought me a bird feeder last Christmas. If you know me more than a little bit, you probably know that I love animals.. birds included. I thoroughly enjoy watching the birds fly about our backyard, back and forth between neighbors’ yards and bird-feeders, and picking up the dog fur outside to line their nests.

So a few weeks ago when our neighbor added new food to his bird feeder, I was so excited: the woodpeckers, cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees, and others flocked to his feeder, and to our trees… The other day Jim put up our bird feeder, and added some new food he bought. And though this new food is obviously an improvement over last year’s variety, it has only attracted ordinary birds. Sparrows, wrens… that’s about it.

I like ordinary birds. I have nothing against them. I love to watch them going crazy over the food, and am thankful that Jim put the feeder up just in time for the ice storm. But is it too much to ask that a “pretty” bird would stop by?

For a moment I feel shame. Shame, because I want to see pretty, colorful birds, not just ordinary grey ones. Shame because I should be happy with the flock of birds that are enjoying our food. And then I realize: I love these birds–yes, the ordinary ones. I am content with providing for ordinary birds, content with all the photos I have already taken of these birds flying around our yard. And, I remember that my whole life, I have been an “ordinary bird”, often wishing I was more colorful… And throughout my life I have been thankful for the people in my life who look at who I am, rather than at appearances.

Again, shame. I should know better–from first hand experience–than to wish for prettier birds. But I quickly release that shame. (I have enough to do this week without worrying about the shame I feel for backyard birds.) And instead I focus on the joy God gives me throughout the day, as I get to watch God’s ordinary creation outside my ordinary backyard. And I give thanks that we can help them out in these cold, snowy, and icy days.

Thanks be to God.





Advent Guilt

3 12 2007

I have it every year: Advent guilt. Guilt that I didn’t get my Advent candles and wreath set up… (I know, I still have time); guilt that I’m more excited about my house being decorated and my 1500 white Christmas tree lights than I am about preparing for this Sunday’s sermon; guilt that I love having the secular part of the Christmas season despite efforts to focus, focus, focus.. on the real reason for the season. I’m a pastor-shouldn’t a desire for Advent and all its’ true meanings come naturally?

It’s not that simple, I’ve discovered. Fortunately I have never been one of those people who thinks that by becoming a pastor (I’m an MK=Missionary Kid and a PK=Pastor’s Kid…I know better) this Advent desire comes naturally. But I still hope that each year will be different for me. It’s not that I don’t have joy for the coming of Christ. It’s not that I don’t feel overwhelming gratitude for Christ’s birth and entrance into our world as human flesh-yet-divine…. It’s simply that I like the Christmas celebrations. And, it’s not-so-simply that I am still waiting for the hopes and dreams of my life to be fulfilled. Some of them.

So this Advent, I’m going to try and not add to the pressure of the season… I’m going to try and focus on Christ’s first coming. I’m going to enjoy the Christmas season that I love so much, while also taking time each day to center my heart on Christ Jesus. Jesus the babe in the manger, Jesus the one who calls for change of heart, Jesus the Savior.

I’ll let you know how it goes.