- It has been a blessing not to work the last few weekends. Two Saturdays ago I was able to attend the Cornerstone URC Women's Conference with Martha Peace. Her talk paralleled her book Attitudes of the Heart. I was blessed by her messages and also convicted that the call to holiness in a Christian's life is hard work, and some of those attitudes that we need to cultivate (gentle and quiet spirit, love, gratitude, etc) we don't really labor over. Many everyday life situations don't lend themselves to these attitudes, so to work on these would require as the Puritans would say, "holy sweat".
- Just this past Saturday I was asked by the FRC youth group to participate in their "mall hunt" activity. They selected four individuals to disguise themselves and "hide" in the mall for the youth group kids to find. After much anxiety (I really am not good at this type of thing) I followed advice from others and decided to only slightly disguise myself. By making yourself look ridiculous you stand out even more. So, I straightened my hair, wore make-up, dressed in a business suit, and put on fashion glasses. I looked different enough that you probably would have to take a second look, but "normal" enough to blend in. As I came out from the bathroom in my "disguise" I said, "I look more like..." and just as I was saying, "my cousin Maria", Russ said, "your Aunt Joanne." How funny is that!? One of the youth group girls told Anna the next day that "your mom looked really pretty yesterday." If you connect all those if/then logic dots I think that is a complement to Maria and Aunt Joanne! We won't even consider what that means for me every other day... Anyway, it was a blessing to connect with the youth in the church and despite having to be in the mall on a busy Saturday for two hours it was fun.
- Since the boys both received Division I ratings on their solos at District they were able to move on to State. Last Saturday morning (after BSF and before the mall activity) the boys played their solos (violin and cello) at State. Both received Division I ratings. Russ and I consider it a blessing to see some rewards for all those lessons!
- This year's track season has been a huge challenge. Not only have we had only a handful of days where the temperatures have been above freezing, but when we do have a warmer day the roads/sidewalks are incredibly messy (2-3" puddles!). I have forbidden the boys from wearing anything white to track practice! All those little dots of mud/oil/slush just don't come out of clothes very well. As of yesterday, the track had only one lane open all the way around. Athletes could probably run a 200m workout on the track. But since we had over an inch of snow last night and it is snowing on and off today who knows when it will be clear enough to use! For now we have been using the parking lot which is not only messy and dangerous, but provides a pretty hard "injury-producing" surface. Russ said even the radio weatherman was a little "short and clipped" in his forecast report. "Current temp 26. High today 28. Low tonight 10. Normal lows for this year 30. Yes, our high today is lower than the normal low." Since we had so much snow, maybe this extremely slow melt is a blessing? Otherwise, all our basements and roads would be flooded?
- Caleb had running clothes stolen at school this week. This is extremely frustrating since both were expensive items and there was really nothing he could have done about it. He had a quartet gig over the noon hour on Monday so quickly ran from his college class back to the locker room at NorthPointe to change into his all-black quartet "concert" dress. Evidently, NP does not clean out the lockers each year so there are no open lockers with locks on them. So he just left his duffle bag with this track clothes inside unlocked in the locker room and realized when he dressed for track later that day he was missing his Under Armour shirt (a necessity this cold spring!) and Adidas pants. He was planning to address it with administration today so will see how that goes.
- Russ officiated his first funeral today. A 21 year old woman from the church in Kalamazoo was in a car accident and sustained a severe head injury. The family was faced with hard end-of-life decisions that made this especially difficult. It is no surprise to realize that pastoral ministry is no different than many other professions in that schooling or seminary training can not always completely prepare someone for the "real" world. I learned in PT school how to treat a patient with a hip fracture, but then I began working in the "real" world and found it was never that easy since the hip fracture patient would probably be an amputee with dementia (or something like that). I guess this was just a taste of what is to come. This week I happened to read this passage in Surprised by Oxford by Carolyn Weber and it kind of resonated with our experience these last few weeks:
I initially thought pastors just married and buried. But now I began to realize that they weathered the trenches. Drinking, drugs, disorders, divorce, debt, despair--they saw it all, and yet they aimed in spite of their own struggles, to remain confidants of the darkest secrets, upholders of families, hubs of social wheels. All the spokes circled around them madly, while they learned to be still. To be present. To give both momentum and stability. A lot like parenting, I imagined. I had never before equated shepherding with love, or soldiering with pastoring.