Saturday, December 31st, 2011
I’m thankful for the moments that have brought me to this moment.
Thankful for being raised by my parents, loved by my grandparents, befriended by my friends, taught by my teachers. Thankful for Latin homework and choir practice and going to skating-rink birthday parties and playing on the tennis team. For vibrant, giggly college dorm life and a lonely grad school apartment. For moving trucks and paychecks and bosses and co-workers and battles and working with ideas. For fresh starts and faithful churches and bumbling breakups. For tension and tears and prayers and acceptance and commitment and the settling of married life.
For a job that led me to a friend. For seeing that friend’s listing of things she was thankful for. For the prompting to try it myself and the glimpse of joy that propelled me to commit to 365 days. For the money to buy a domain name. For my husband’s help in booting up this blog. For God’s whisperings and opening my eyes to all of these posts and more.
For the changes this exercise has caused in my outlook and the days when others have voiced their thankfulness. For the friends and family members I’ve written about and those I haven’t. For the challenge of trying not to repeat a post, and looking that much harder for something new each day.
For the winter day on which I write this final post in the Year of Yay. And for the year of opportunities to come.
May every year be lived thankfully.
Saturday, December 24th, 2011
If you’ve ever been in a crowded church on Christmas Eve, when they turn down the lights and start passing that little flame from person to person until it makes the whole room glow, you know what I’m talking about.
The symbolism of the entrance of the Light of the World is breathtaking.
Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
What makes a “good” pastor? Is it great preaching, uplifting personal relationships, crackerjack outreach skills? Obviously, people define this in many different ways. But when you have a good one, you know.
I’ve been privileged to have some great ones come in and out of my life. Some of them will never know how their teaching helped carry me through critical times. Some, I listened to from afar and never even shook hands with. Others, I called on with tears, confessions, and life’s unanswerable questions.
Each one has impacted my life, and I’m very thankful.
Sunday, September 4th, 2011
I’ve had the opportunity to attend and visit churches of several different denominations. It’s always fascinating to see the elements of the service that remain roughly the same. Today I visited a Melkite Greek-Catholic church. One of my colleagues is a reader there, which to me was more like a cantor, because he sang/chanted throughout the service. In fact, most of the service was sung. The whole congregation was singing, and there was no book or bulletin to follow – you either knew the entire liturgy or you didn’t!
A group of robed men performed duties around the altar during the service, including swinging an incense burner, consecrating communion, and taking a cross on a couple of processions. I sort of felt like I had been transported to another time and country; it was so different from what I’m used to. Yet there were creeds and prayers that were familiar.
The church holds a Middle Eastern food festival each year, so after the service we joined the festivities. It was fun to check out their community.
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
Opportunities to help others are everywhere. A friend could use a day-brightener; a co-worker needs help preparing a presentation; someone just needs a listening ear. Tangible and intangible needs abound.
Shifting your focus to others has a nice way of taking it off of yourself. It’s been my experience that self-focus only leads to negative things.
I’m glad there were others in my day today.
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
My Bible study just finished going through “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. I didn’t realize that Chan is sort of popular. That’s probably an understatement, but I just didn’t know before we started the study. I highly recommend this book and the group study. It goes through what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit, and it asks a lot of questions of the reader – good and challenging questions.
Friday, April 22nd, 2011
It’s been sort of a churchy week here on the ol’ blog, but hey, it’s Holy Week. Today is Good Friday, and the Good Friday service has become one of my most favorite of the year.
The sanctuary grows progressively darker as we go through the story of the events leading to the cross. Candles are extinguished one by one. At the end of the service, it is completely dark, and the final candle is carried out of the sanctuary. It’s not extinguished – to signify Christ’s victory over death. In total darkness, the large Book is slammed shut (causing most of us to jump an inch off our chairs), reminding us that “It is finished.” (I learned this is called the “strepitus” – see more here.)
Then, the still-glowing candle is brought back in.
It’s extremely powerful.
“Ye who think of sin but lightly, Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate.”
Wednesday, April 20th, 2011
My friend BW is moving away. I first met her when she joined my Bible study – a small group of women – more than five years ago. At our potluck dinner tonight, we celebrated her time in the group and reminisced. We realized I am the longest-running member of the group, though I certainly didn’t start it. That means a lot of women have come in, stayed awhile, and moved on in the last six years or so (and years before I came). Some changed churches; others moved away; others got married and joined couples’ groups.
I think back to my arrival. The group was probably about this same size when I came – around six or eight regulars. I joined because I had recently moved to the area and thought it would be the best place to meet new friends and get “plugged in” (that’s Christianese) to a new church.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Some of the women have become my close friends, and others I see only on Wednesday nights. That time we set aside weekly to study and encourage one another is priceless.
Some of us are married; some are not. We come from diverse backgrounds and professions. Some of us were raised in the church; others weren’t. But none of that stops us from rallying around a Tim Keller study or an Éclair Cake.
I hope if you’re not a member of a small group, you’ll seek out an opportunity. I’m certainly thankful I did.
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
Can you imagine a world without singing? I can’t. From silly made-up songs to rock bands and classical masterpieces, it’s fun to sing and listen to singers. If given the choice, I would rather be singing than listening. I have sung in choirs since I was a tiny tot at church.
Tonight our church did an Evensong service, which meant the choir was the majority of the program. It was a joyful time for those of us in the choir (and I hope for those listening!). It’s very cool to be able to share the meaning of the Lenten season through song.