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A Sacred Thin Place

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Have you ever been the outsider looking in?  

A place or time where everyone knew what to do or how to participate accept you.  Perhaps you felt uncertain or uncomfortable with not fitting into what was happening.  Or you might have been concerned about making a mistake or being seen as disrespectful.  We each have experienced that desire to be part of what is unfolding before us, yet we can’t for whatever reason ever really be an insider.

I experienced this last night as my fellow travelers and I from Central Baptist Theological Seminary made a pilgrimage to Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. (formerly Burma)  The sun was just setting when we arrived and the afternoon heat dissipated quickly to create a cool, breezy evening for us to take in this enormous holy Buddhist site.  The Shwe Dagon Pagoda has been here in Yangon for nearly two-thousand years.  It is a sacred, thin place where the Buddhist people can connect with Buddha individually and also collectively.  We saw hundreds, if not a thousands of people of all ages praying, giving offerings of water and money and spending quiet time gathered together while facing the pagoda.

Even though we see those main concepts of praying, giving offerings and spending time together in Christian churches in America, it was amazing to see the dedication of the people who gathered.  The dedication not only to Buddha, but each other.  Families came together holding hands, linking arms when walking and sitting together.  In America, we lose sight of how we can be more connected to others simply by touching.  Instead, we worry about who is invading our personal space or who is touching too much.  These people we observed extended themselves naturally to one another and you could feel the connection.  They didn’t come to the pagoda for a worship service that everyone sat and listened to on a Sunday morning.  It was a sharing of space where believers were cultivating their own worship and prayer.  No one was walked through an order of worship and there was no timeframe for the worship to end collectively.  Over the loud speaker, a monk was reading the works of Buddha while the people prayed, practiced their water or money offering and they shared space with one another.  

No one lead them, but themselves, which makes me wonder about how we feel lead to compare services and worship styles in America as it is more for entertaining us in the right space instead of individually being responsible for space we come to worship to pray, give offerings and share connection with other believers.

My experience has opened my eyes to new ways of practicing my individual faith and has created a desire in me to revel in not just Sunday morning worship being offered to me, but me being an offering when I worship at all times.  The challenge is to find a way to live into a thin, sacred space with God every day and not just weekly at a service, where I expect to be served instead of me only serving God.

I will be forever grateful for my time in Yangon and the chance to be on the outside observing an ancient world religion in it’s own setting and context.

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amazing grace…

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I usually don’t get interrupted during the singing part of bedtime.  It seems to be my kids favorite part.  After we pray for everyone in our family, including pets by name and a list of emergency responders, plus Kaylee added years ago anyone who needed a hug and a kiss, I sing.  For ten years, I have sung each child “their” song two times through.  I have sung Amazing Grace to Kaylee almost every night of her life and even on nights when Daddy put her to bed.  It is her song and I picked it to be her song, because it was her Grandma Ruby’s favorite.  When Ruby passed away ten years ago this November, we found countless versions on CD’s and cassettes and even played two different versions at her funeral. When Kaylee was just a little newborn, I mourned that she wouldn’t know the adoration and affection of her Grandma Ruby.  I wanted her to have a connection even if it was only a song.

Two nights ago at bedtime, my sweet eight-year old daughter stopped me during our nightly singing ritual.  She had reached out and touched my arm as I sang to her.  She said, “Momma, I sure hope that Chad is found, since he is lost.”  My throat closed up, my heart raced and my tears welled up instantly.  She made such a deep connection while I was singing “her song”… Amazing Grace.  Earlier that day, I had shared with her some high-level details about how our community was gathering to find a lost runner.  Our conversation had ended with little discussion, but she had continued to process being lost.

When she heard the line, “I once was lost, but now I am found,” it struck like a gong and impacted her heart greatly.  She showed me how she understands our connection with those in our family and in God’s greater family.  Her tenderness as she asked to pray with me that God would be with Chad until he was found was pure love.  I have witnessed pure love, self-sacrifice and unrelenting spirit this week.  I have been so impressed by the many Spirit-led posts and offerings on the Bring Chad Rogers Home Facebook the past five days.  I think our town of 29,000 (and something) realized how blessed and gifted we are collectively when the Holy Spirit leads us to one another.  No one wanted this ending for the search.  We hoped and prayed for happy news.  Some will question why God would do this, but instead of question I hope they seek stillness and prayer.  To search for their own Amazing Grace with God.

Like Chad Rogers, Ruby left us much too soon with a hole in our family.   And not a day goes by that her name isn’t spoken from my lips with my children.  She would have continued to go bananas for the 4 grandsons she had before she passed and she would have gone ape-wild for her one granddaughter and five more grandsons.  Even with the hole, I find that I can keep her alive to my children.  I mention how she would call Ian “Butch” as  baby or how Rhett and Kaylee have her nail beds or how as a retired junior-high math teacher she would have been delighted to see my children love math.  The hole seems smaller then, but even after ten years I can still remember so many details of her and I want so badly for my kids to grow up knowing their Grandma Ruby loves them all the way from heaven.

I hope and pray for Amazing Grace for Chad’s family that now has a hole like ours, when someone you love leaves too soon.  I hope our community shows the same level of rallying and support the trust fund in Chad’s name to help his family. Please consider donating to the Chad Rogers Memorial Fund c/o US Bank, 1909 W Kansas St. Liberty MO. 64068

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A Reflection in my Rearview Mirror of Blogging

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You and I are Boldly Blessed!

 

 

Eighteen months ago it all started with the following 171-word blog post.

Why boldlyblessed? (My First boldyblessed Blog Post August 10, 2011)

I have spent the last few days taking time to pray on what this verse means to me.

2 Timothy 1:7 God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

This is the 2011 MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) theme verse. It is the first one in 7 years to shake me by the shoulders and demand my attention. Sound violent? Well, just think how I am feeling.

It is violent in a good way! It is one of those perfect storm kind of moments where life experience, leadership possibilities and personality meet. I feel like this one is just me. Hopefully it strikes the same chord with the entire MOPS population.

For me it is giving me permission to be ME. To use my gifts of leadership, experience and ease with others. For years I have unconsciously thought, “oh now Kristin don’t do this or that”. Well that voice needs to be stopped. I am ready to live boldly and help other women to do the same.

 

I had just returned exhausted and exhilarated from the 2011 MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Convention.  It always is a great weekend break from my mothering reality.  In 2011, I left my three kids for not just a break.  I was in search of a holy time for restoration, retooling and affirmation.

A MOPS Convention is packed with nationally known speakers and authors at general sessions, popular music acts that inspire the crowd with their passion, and small workshops so I can tailor my experience to my needs as a leader, mother and woman.  I have only missed one year.  I still regret not making the choice to invest in myself.  I had thought I was selfish if I went, but it has been years since I missed.  Now I encourage others to not limit themselves.

During this particular convention, I felt an overwhelming desire to be more bold and stop the negative self-talk.  I had mindless conversations playing in my head of why I could or couldn’t do something. The idea of being bold to me made me feel free and empowered.  Each year MOPS has a theme verse and I couldn’t have missed it if I had tried.  The verse for the was shared in many different ways from posters, powerpoint and speakers from the general session stage.  God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. (2 Timothy 1:7)  It was a turning point for me.  I deeply felt I had a mission statement for my life.  It still speaks clearly for me to boldly love others with my God-given gifts.

When I got home, my normal life rocked me back into reality.  August is time for back-to-school, MOPS kicking into high gear, and all the routines crashing back into our family calendar.  At that time, I was focused on everyone else.  I still burned with the need to share and encourage others to be bold with me.  I decided to blog, because it is a platform that I could share myself and inspire others.

My first post was 171 words of vulnerability and exhilaration.  My thoughts started living outside my journals and I prayed they would help someone else.  It has been wonderful to have  developed some supporters and I have posted 75 times since I started.  I feel like I have stayed true to my mission statement.  I want to am no longer focused on who reads the posts or how many readers I reach.  I want to continue living in my awareness of being boldly blessed by God and I will blog to reach others who search insight, humor and a woman who is the real deal.

Lucy or Ethel

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Come on now… you know what I mean.  Are you the type of friend that creates crazy situations? Or are you the type of friend who is the accomplice to the crazy?  You might be either or both depending on who you are with.  You probably have a dominant I Love Lucy personality.

According to Sabienna Bowman, Ethel needed Lucy just as much as Lucy needed Ethel. Even without a show to call her own, the legacy of Ethel can be felt in every best friend combo from Mary and Rhoda straight on through to the raucous ladies of Don’t Trust the B—in Apt. 23.  

Let’s take a closer look at what comes to mind with Lucy and Ethel’s personalities.

         Lucy                                             Ethel

Crazy                                                      Steady

Loyal                                                      Loyal

Rule Breaker                                   Rule Follower

Truth Stretcher                                Truth Seeker

Supportive                                           Supportive

Hare-brained Ideas                    Voice of Reason

Maniac                                                 Balanced

I am without any doubt a Lucy.  I have gotten amazing girlfriends into crazy situations more than once.  Like the time I instigated a living /dining room flooring demo at my friend’s home. Yep, that was a big one.

Our husbands were out all Saturday and we both didn’t have children to exhaust us yet and stop us from what we did to her home.  It all started out simply.  We were hanging out at her new-to-them home and talking about the possibility of hardwoods under the carpeting.  I brought up how lucky we were when we pulled up two bedrooms and a hallway of carpet.  We found great hardwoods under twenty-year old carpeting.

I got that crazy look in my eye and said we should pull up a corner to see.  She agreed because together we are actually two Lucys.  We were giggling as we tugged on that corner and we were pleased with what we found.  So, we worked all day and removed all the carpet from the open living/dining room area.  As we pulled, sweated and laughed about what our husbands would say, we got to the middle of the room.  We were in trouble.  There was some major damage where walls had been removed to make the space an open floor plan.  I definitely felt like Steve Urkel from the show, Family Matters with the famous line, “Did I do that?”

I sure did.  Oh, we knew it wasn’t going to be a project that we completed, but a mess we created.  Then we did what we could, we cleaned!  We worked double-time to get all the carpet and padding out, swept the floors and then figured out how we would face our husbands.  We were dirty and little scared.  We definitely had some esplaining to do as Ricky would have demanded of Lucy.  To this day almost ten years later, our husbands still question what we are going to get into together.

I am thankful tonight for my girlfriends.  Those who are Lucys and those who are Ethels are both equally important to helping me have fun in life!  To my Ethel friends, thank you for coming alongside me in my craziest of times.  To my Lucy friends, I am sure another adventure is ahead of us.

Hope you have a lot more adventures ahead of you too!

Blessings!

Kristin

PS- I am blogging daily for Lent (M-F)

Blog Resources:

Women in the Box: Ethel Mertz, I Love Lucy

This entry was posted on January 9, 2013 by Sabienna Bowman, in Women in the Box

http://classicland.tumblr.com/post/33621071702/lucy

So much…

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I often hear the following:

“I don’t know how you do it all.”

“You should learn to say no.”

“I see you coming and going all the time.  Aren’t you exhausted?”

“Just watching you buzz around makes me exhausted.”

I’ll be honest sometimes it stings.  I do have a lot of plates spinning.  And sometimes I am not sleeping much.  My “extra” things are keeping me up late.  It is the soft footsteps padding down the hall from my sweet three-year old at 3:00 a.m.  And yes, I could have a big production of the injustice of getting out of bed to tuck him back in, but I’ve noticed that his current level of “momma need” is fleeting.  My gig is to be his “person.”

Being his “person” reminds me of a great line from the show, Grey’s Anatomy from a couple years back.

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It is a different kind of “person” than the friendship described on that show.  But it still stands true.  I am his “person” and I will always be.  I am actually 3 smaller people’s “person” and one adult’s.

I try to not lose myself in all the doing, going and being.  It is a lot of ever-changing, coaching, and communicating.  I could use a nap just thinking about it all.  We all know that there isn’t time for that. 🙂  I keep my plates spinning and my people happy. (most of the time)  I am enjoying this phase of motherhood, family, MOPS Leadership, and master’s classes more than any other time yet.  It is freeing to have all these parts to my life and I am thankful for all the plates to spin.  Some days it seems like everything is falling apart and plates are crashing by the crate full.  Those are the days that stick out when some one comments about the business of my busy-ness.  It cuts a little, but I know that this crazy season is what I am in for now and it is a good thing I love it.

A Solid Investment

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Our wooden play set stands guard in our backyard of dead, dry grass as a beacon of hope for warmth and long days outside.  We moved to our home a little over 2 years ago.  One of the first, big, non-negotiable purchases we knew would be a play set with swings.  It has been a staple in our outdoor play and many times during this mild Missouri winter, we have been outside playing on it.

Today was one of those days.  A day “too cold” in Momma’s opinion, but just right for all three kids.  I heard them through my cracked open kitchen window.  They were laughing, shooting storm troopers together and of course there were the predictable set of tears and screaming.  It was an accident.  It is hard for our three year old to remember to watch for swinging feet and spinning tire swings.  Especially after not being outside for a few weeks.

They all came in chilled to the bone, but gleeful.  Time with each other on their play set was just what they needed in the great outdoors to run, scream and pretend.  I asked more about what they pretended and they each went into different versions of a Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  I am thankful they can be so happy together on a cloudy afternoon.

That play set was a solid investment.  Their cackling laughter is worth every penny.  I am so glad we didn’t wait.  I know it would be have been a big mistake if we had delayed or never installed the play set.  Glad as parents we just did what needed to be done.

In My Rearview Mirror Tonight

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In my rearview mirror tonight, in the dark as I drove home a new way on our busy highway I saw life differently.  As my kids chattered on about their day and church, I felt my heart in my throat.

In the backseat of my cluttered, orange van was my 3 blessings all buckled in unaware of what I was seeing.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except we had a lot more shining headlights near us on the highway.  As the lights shone in, I did what all moms do, I assume.  I glanced in my rear view mirror to see my kids as they spoke and asked me questions.  With the ever changing light, I couldn’t see them very clearly.  Their sweet faces would be lit for a moment and then go dark.

What caught my heart and made me try to do my best “motherhood moment time freeze” (MMTF for short) was what I saw upon their heads.  I saw two with little ash crosses and one with curls.  My two older kids took part of Ash Wednesday services, where they were marked with the sign of the cross in ashes by our Pastor.

He said to each person marked, “Remember who you are. Remember whose you are.”  I hope and pray that those are more than just words they heard once.  I hope those words are resonated in the love they receive from their Daddy and I, their Sunday School teachers, their church community, their extended family and friends.  That in our hearts and minds we can remember their cross on their foreheads like it is always there.

If they grow with knowing that, then we all will have blessed them.  

 

PS – I am challenging myself to post every day of Lent.  

        Dear Lord, Help us all. Amen

        Read, share, skip – – do whatever works for you.  I need to write and publish more.