Goodbye, My Friend

Posted by on Friday, Aug 19, 2016 in Blog | 5 comments

The last couple of nights I’ve awoken with this song playing in my head. Over the past four years our friend Traci bravely battled multiple myeloma. On Tuesday, August 9th, at the age of 52 with her dad cupping her face, she took her last breath. Kelly, Traci’s sister and one of my closest friends, called with the news. I showed up at the hospital 15 minutes after Traci took her last breath. Seeing her body was a profound experience. I know that sounds weird, but what I’m trying to say is it was so evident her spirit had departed. Whether you believe in a soul or not, seeing her was evidence there is a soul. The soul had departed. Her body was present, but Traci was not there. It was a profound moment. Over the next seven hours, family and friends streamed into the room. As a friend and pastor, I was asked to lay hands on Traci and pray. What a privilege to be present with those I love at such a time as this. Seven hours later Traci’s body left the hospital to be taken to a crematory. Traci’s death has provoked all kinds of thoughts, emotions, and evaluations – most of which are too sacred to share publicly. I’m grateful for death in that it causes us to question life. My life. How I live. What I live for. Who and what I find important. Death helps us recalibrate. On Sunday, August 14th, I officiated my first memorial service, the memorial service of a friend and a sister of one of my closest friends.  It was hard, and it was a privilege. I spoke of how every human being images our Creator. (Genesis 1:26-28) If I had to attribute one characteristic in which Traci imaged God, it would be beauty. She was physically beautiful (she frequently reminded us she had superior facial bone structure to which we admittedly agreed), but she also created beauty within her relationships and in her work as one of the leading floral designers in Dallas. Traci reflected God’s beauty to the world and back to her Creator. I’m grateful for Traci’s life and for what her death continues to teach me about my life. Goodbye, my friend; it’s hard to...

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Living In Between

Posted by on Thursday, Jul 21, 2016 in Blog | 1 comment

If someone you trusted failed you, if you’ve stepped out of your organized faith community but haven’t landed in another, if you have let go of the old answers and are asking new questions, or if you are not who you were but not yet who you will become … well, then you’re probably living in liminality. Liminal space is the place in between – it’s an uncomfortable place but it’s the place where all transformation happens. The following is an excellent article on liminality. It’s long but it’s worth it! Breath in deep, digest well. Forty Years in a Narrow Space by Lenard Hjalmarson.    Sometimes the best map will not guide you You can’t see what’s round the bend, Sometimes the road leads through dark places Sometimes the darkness is your friend. One April Sunday my family and I visited a young church community in our town. On the way to the meeting we noticed two very different restaurant signs. The first invited, “Come in from the cold; warm food and hot drinks.” The second proclaimed, “Swing into spring. Escape the heat with our smoothies and frappacinos.” Contradiction is one of the elements of liminality. Is it winter, or spring? When the seasons are in transition, and the old season hasn’t quite given way to the new, we don’t know quite what kind of weather to expect or even how to dress on a given morning. When we walk out the door it might be hot, or it might be cold. Worse, it may start out warm then shift to cold while we are on the road. We are plunged into uncertainty. When the church is in transition, the same kind of confusion surfaces. Even casual conversations can become complex, with people using language in very different ways. “Church” and “evangelism” and even “Christian” carry baggage they didn’t once possess. We struggle for definition, even reacting against it. Moving from a Baptist gathering to an E Free gathering becomes an experience in cultural shift, even within the same town. Liminality is a place in between. It is emptiness and nowhere. Adolescence is the liminal space between childhood and adulthood. But liminality is more than a point along the way to somewhere else. It represents anti-structure to structure, chaos to order. The place between two world views is a liminal place. It is a place of dying and rebirth, even of metamorphosis, the place where the caterpillar spins its cocoon and disappears from view. Liminality is Israel in the desert, Jesus in the tomb. Reality is that place between the sea and the foam. Irish Proverb The Latin word limina means threshold. Liminality is where all transformation happens....

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Saying Goodbye Is Hard

Posted by on Monday, Feb 9, 2015 in Blog | 1 comment

This weekend we said goodbye to our lake house. Ten years ago we purchased this tiny lake house (cabin) on a lake (really a large pond). It wasn’t a place for our kids – no motor boats allowed – just fishing. It was a Menuha house. Menuha is a Hebrew term which means: “To the biblical mind menuha is the same as happiness and stillness and peace and harmony. The word with which Job described the state after life he was longing for is derived from the same root as menuha.  It is the state wherein man lies still, wherein the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. It is the state in which there is no strife and no fighting, no fear and distrust. The essence of the good life is menuha. ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters.’ (the waters of menuhot) In later times menuha became a synonym for the life in the world to come, for eternal life.”  Steve and I have served as full-time ministers and having a place to get away – to Menuha – was … well, words can’t express.  And the beauty was, our Menuha cabin was for so many others too. So many of those who were sold out to Jesus (and needed a place of rest) found it at our little Fly -In -Lake place. This weekend (while Steve served those in the Congo) my kids and I and our house mate, Amy, packed up and moved out of our Menuha house. It was hard. I cried, snot running cry, as the U-haul pulled out of the tree tunnel (those who’ve been will know what I’m referring.) UGH. It was about a year ago that I buried our family dog at this cabin – today I left him behind. Saying goodbye is hard. Even when it’s right and good – it’s hard to say goodbye. 2005 -2015 Menuha -Thanks for the 10 years of...

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Baseball Shirts & Baggy Sweats

Posted by on Friday, Jan 3, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Steve and I spent New Years Eve at our lake house. (It’s really a cabin on a pond but Steve hates when I say that.) The weather was decent so we spent the evening sitting by the fire sipping on wine. That’s when I noticed how awful I looked. Not because I was sick, well maybe a little because I was sick, but more so because of my choice of clothing.  I had on my son’s baseball jersey, Steve’s baggy grey sweatpants, and my black and white flip-flops with multicolored fluffy socks to keep my feet warm. Not a pretty sight. (You wouldn’t catch me at a meeting, grocery store or church wearing such a thing.) That’s when a conversation ensued in my head. How many people have ever seen me wear such an outfit? Not many. How many people have let me see them wearing such a get up? Not many. Why? I realized I dress like this (at the lake house with Steve) because I don’t have to put on airs, pretense, make good first impressions, look profession or ( _____  you fill in the blank.) My awful outfit signified I could be vulnerable. It said there’s safety and intimacy. Unconditonality (I know it’s not a word but it communicates.) Times like these are a rarity in our lives aren’t they? This must be how Adam and Eve felt – in the garden – prior to sin entering. Imagine. (No really take a minute to imagine.) Imagine always feeling this sense of “ah I’m okay just as I am” with the self, others and God. No wonder they called it Paradise. I continued to talk to myself as I sipped on red wine. Jackie, would you wear this if Jesus where sitting here with you right now? I mean after all you would be sitting with holiness. Would your first time – face to face with Jesus – be in these clothes or would you want to wear something more presentable? It’s not a new question. The church has been discussing issues of clothing forever. Should the minister wear a robe or a suit? Is it disrespectful to wear shorts, jeans or flip-flops? Is it more reverent to wear fancy clothes on Sunday? That’s the type of discussion I was rolling around in my head. The conversation continued … Yeah but Jesus would see right through my fancy clothes. He knows what lurks underneath. I don’t have to look presentable for him. Or make a good first impression. Or get him to accept, like or love me. We’re intimate. I can be vulnerable with him. He loves me unconditionally. If Jesus were sitting with me by the fire on New...

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Story is Enough

Posted by on Friday, Jan 18, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Lately I’ve been learning the importance of my story. The need to find and share my voice. I’m a writer, as much as I’ve fought saying those three words, never thinking of myself as a creative. Even though words were my craft, the only thing that ever really made sense to me, my method for processing, and basically my very breath. I just didn’t think I qualified for that creative realm that artists occupy. Not until I started wrapping my brain around the idea of being created in God’s image. You know, God THE Creator. But that’s another story… As a writer, I’ve been struggling to find license to share the real stuff. Permission to leave my voice on pages in its natural state. Constantly thinking that my words are too raw and unpolished. My writing not nearly poetic enough. My experience average and uninteresting. My story too unimportant. Not worthy of being told. I spent time looking back through the books that have shaped me over the past few years. You know, those books that make you laugh and cry and aspire to be a better version of yourself. The ones that hit hard and then don’t fade away after you turn that last page and place it back on the dusty shelf. The ones that actually impact you as much as if you had heard their story face-to-face meeting in a coffeeshop. One of those was Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. I skimmed through the list of chapters, all short stories on her experiences of life as a combination of bitter and sweet, highlighting that one without the other just wouldn’t be as beautiful. I was really doubting the importance of my story that day, certain the idea of sharing it, even if only through a blog that few read, was a dumb idea. My eyes spotted the last chapter title, “You Must Tell Your Story.” Well, guess I should read that one, huh? In five short pages, my opinion on story was transformed. Writer to writer, believer to believer, person to person, Shauna convinced me that my story, along with everyone’s, must be told. There’s no other option. And nothing more important. I learned from Shauna that story is enough. We constantly invalidate it. Overcompensate for what we think story is lacking. Adding unnecessary fluff and overused clichés. But story, raw, untouched, organic story…is enough. Absolutely enough. People tend to think otherwise, because like me, we assume we are nothing special and that God is doing much bigger, more impressive things in the lives of others whose stories speak more highly of Him or have a more impactful finish. Sure God’s shown up in my life, but he cured...

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