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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do Over

As a kid, when something went wrong during a game at recess, somebody would holler, "Do over." That meant you got a second try at the game. In playground law, it was assumed that you deserved second chances.

As an adult, it seems that do overs are few and far between. It seems that our choices are weightier with tougher, more long term consequences. Maybe that's why getting a second chance is such a beautiful thing.

We have recently had deep, dark times with our teens. Without betraying their trust, I will simply say that it's easily been one of the hardest months of my life. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is that God handed me a do over. So many times with teens you don't have the opportunity to repair what is broken, therefore I am very grateful for a second chance.

The catch of second chances is that they don't come easily or without sacrifice. For this season in our life, our children have expressed their primary need is more time at home - lots of time with our family. This means that I have given up journey groups, ministry opportunities, and friendships. For this season in our lives, I am digging in deeply and investing into my children. While I desperately miss my friends and getting to minister alongside Shawn, I am already seeing changes at our home.

Tonight I skipped James' game to bring the girls home. We picked up a few groceries at the store, turned on some music and danced, sang, and cooked supper together. As we laughed together at the dinner table, I realized that the lights are shining again in my girls' eyes. They are starting to feel loved and valued again. I have to say that the sparkles in their eyes make the sacrifices easy.

Tonight I was thankful that God is still a God of second chances. And that He gives us the good sense to seize them!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ode to the metronome

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Fast. Slow. Steady beat. Such was the voice of my metronome. It was ancient when it first came into my possession, belonging first to my older brother, and if memory serves me correctly, my grandmother before him.

It was not the modern metronome - a slick black box with a tiny battery that makes it click. Instead it was a wooden triangular box with a wind-up key on the side. If you wound the key nine times, the metronome had enough power to last for over an hour of practice.

When I left home, I didn't bring a lot of my childhood things along, but I did pack the metronome. As we have moved many times, I have kept my metronome. When we stored stuff when our house went on the market, I left the metronome in a kitchen cabinet where I could see it daily.

Maybe that seems like a strange item to keep, but my metronome and I have been through much together. Rhythm is not my strongest gift. Many times over the years, I became extraordinarily frustrated by complicated measures of music. I have yelled at, hit, and thrown my metronome. Then I would retrieve it, reset it, and try again. It has been many years since I last needed to know the exact difference between 64 and 72 beats a minutes, however I still open the cabinet to look at that metronome frequently.

My old metronome is a strong reminder of persistence. Even though rhythm doesn't come naturally for me, any song can be mastered with enough hard work and discipline. My metronome is a reminder of where I have been. When I see the old beat-up case, I remember the hours of frustration over music that is now simple. I remember the hours of time I invested in something that I have grown to love. I am reminded that I am human as I examine the dents in the case from the angry outbursts as a teen.

Tonight, I opened the metronome one last time for my kids to use for band practice. Their fancy slick little black box needed new batteries, so they were willing to use my antique. Unfortunately, my metronome has starting counting off beat - like me. 1...2...........3..4...........1......2..3.4......1.2.3.........4........

Instead of throwing it away, I gently replaced the cover and set it back on the shelf. I decided that I needed it, even if it wasn't able to help me count anymore. I need the reminder that anything is possible if you have the persistence to daily refuse to accept failure. While my metronome may be a little off beat, it is still dead on with its life lessons.

Monday Morning Update 10/17/10

I just realized that I skipped last week's blog. I had great intentions of writing, but somehow life got in the way.

Last weekend was phenomenal! We met at the school for an opening song, and a short devotional. Then Shawn dismissed our congregation with a grocery bag and a list of needed items for our local food pantry. Our members went to the store, purchased some of those items and returned with 660 pounds of groceries for hungry families in our community.

It was great to see our people engaged in missions and realizing that service is worship. Worship is so much more than warm fuzzy feelings from singing awesome music. Worship is about loving others and loving God.

This week Shawn sat in the "hot seat" and answered people's questions about life and the Bible. I am always amazed by his expertise in these moments that he has a grasp on the Bible to be able to go to the chapter and verse that he needs for the answer. I am so much more of a generalist. "Well, somewhere the Bible says...." Over the years, this has always been one of my favorite services because I have the opportunity to hear from people's hearts about what bothers them, and because I think it makes people realize their full accessibility to their pastor to have the freedom to ask questions more often.

This week we also played with a new band. There has been much transition over the last two years in our worship band as members have moved away or felt led to attend other churches. I miss my old friends very deeply, but I am thankful that God is providing for our needs at this moment. Our worship pastor, Robby, had even placed ads seeking band members without success, but apparently God planned to meet that need by bringing in musicians as church members. I am very excited about working with these new musicians and expect to see God move in huge ways in our future.

We are facing many other transitions in our near future, but we are confident that God has things under control and has plans to meet our needs in ways we can't even imagine at this time.

I would ask my prayer warrior friends to spend some time on your knees for The Crossroads. Our families are in great distress. We have many experiencing severe financial crisis, marriage problems, addictions, and illness. One dear friend lost her preterm baby and another is sitting in ICU tonight with her teen son who just had a brain tumor removed. It feels like we are fighting against darkness on many fronts, and definitely need prayers during this season.

At a personal level, we are struggling hard with our teens. They are fighting against depression, discouragement, and anger. I have yanked back from many commitments in order to spend more time at home, which seems to be helping them, although it leaves me (a people person) rather lonely. Pray that God will raise up those who will help us walk alongside our children, to encourage them in ways and times that we aren't able. Pray that we will be wise as we seek solutions. Pray that God will give me the ability to let him be my "Enough" as I walk life a bit more secluded than usual instead of at my husband's side in journey groups and other events.

I want to be clear here: I love what we do. I love being a part of The Crossroads. I am glad to be a church planter and wouldn't trade it for the world. I am simply asking that as we walk a tough road in a rainy season, that you would lift us up before the Father as a part of your regular prayer time.