BASKING IN THE SON

Here I am convalescing through COVID. 

I had two days of real sickness where I didn’t get out of bed. The rest of the week the sickness has been pushed back to a stuffy nose and a sometimes tickle in the throat that makes me cough. 

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

My energy level feels good today and for that I am very happy.

However, Mom tested positive for COVID this morning . She is asymptomatic so I am praying that she stays that way.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

I am still in quarantine for two more days; So Amanda has been holding down the church and doing all the errands and housework. I so appreciate this daughter of mine who is such a talented pastor and who can run things in my absence. Most of the staff also has COVID so she has been the only one in office a few days this week.

This week has also been the beginning of our church-wide 21 Days of Fasting and Prayer…. 30 hours a week of church prayer scheduled and I haven’t been able to make one session in person. 

I am so grateful to Jon Bauver and his team for running these sessions with their ministry, The Worship Room.

Jon’s ministry is a missionary prayer movement dedicated to bringing twenty-four-seven prayer to our region. They opened about two years ago and they are up to twenty hours of regular prayer every week. For the next twenty-one days they have really stretched themselves towards thirty hours a week to partner with us and I so appreciate it.

Of course when the plan was laid to let The Worship Room take the lead on this year’s 21 days I had no idea I was going to be out of commission for the first whole week of the fast. BUT GOD DID!

So here I stand or sit as the case were and instead of leading prayer meetings I get to bask in the radiance of the Son of God as a long distance participant rather than a leader. I am taking these moments to listen deeply and breathe in the grace of God for all the ministry that lies ahead. I am intensely aware that these moments of quarantine without strong sickness are a gift from God to help me prepare. Sometimes God needs to force us to our necessary rest.

Advertisement

COVID POSITIVE

I got home from church and deacon board meeting on Sunday and started feeling sick. By Sunday night I had full on COVID symptoms. I tested, but the test came back negative. By Monday morning I was pretty much relegated to bed. I slept away most of that day. On Tuesday after my second COVID test , which came back positive I slept most of that day too.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Tuesday I had gotten word that three more of my staff had come down sick and today a fourth member messaged to say she had tested positive. That leaves my daughter (who has just come out of quarantine) and my personal assistant who had COVID in November running the church.

We have just begun 21 days of fasting and prayer with 30 weekly prayer meetings and the church staff is pretty much in quarantine. My daughter was asking God about this and the answer she got was, “This movement is about the church not about the leadership. The church must rise up and the staff must be put in a position to let them.”

apparently that position is COVID POSITIVE.

So I am joining the prayer meetings remotely and am watching as my parishioners rise up to lead this prayer movement for breakthrough! It is POSITIVE indeed.

MORNING LIGHT

Morning’s are my best time. I find the hours between 5 A.M. and Noon to be my most productive. Something about the first rays of morning light (even when the sky is gray) just fills me with energy to get up and get going.

Don’t get me wrong a good cup of coffee helps too.

Photo by lil artsy on Pexels.com

But since we are at the beginning of our church’s yearly 21 days of fasting and prayer coffee is off the table. So the morning sun will be enough along with my herbal tea to get me going in the morning’s.

This morning I have done morning devotions walked the dogs, played with dogs, fed the dogs, made breakfast, read the first ten pages of my daily reading regimen and finished up the second chapter in Storyworth. This week my mother and I conversed about her father. Busyness is coming forward as the chief theme of my mother’s early life. I get the sense she understood the busyness but resented it as a dynamic in her family’s household.

I am finding for myself, busyness is a cautionary theme. I also think that there is a pendulum in my life that swings between busyness and lassitude.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I think I am looking for a happy medium somewhere between hyperactivity and complete indolence.

Maybe the morning light is my answer. Perhaps the balance is a morning of great productivity and afternoon of slower more concentrated work and the evening of recovery.

I am not sure exactly how that works with my schedule but it surely is something I am going to be praying into in the next 21 days as I seek greater breakthrough.

HERE’S A SONG TO LAUNCH YOU ON YOUR WAY INTO THIS MORNING’S LIGHT.

BEFORE THE DOGS START BARKING

Finding time….finding time….finding time. It’s one of the hardest things to do. I seem to get sidetracked so easily. I get worn down too quickly. I too willingly push aside the important for the urgent.

I am asking myself a lot of questions lately.

WHAT SAFEGUARDS DO I NEED TO CREATE TO HELP ME STAY IN TASK?

WHAT CAN I DO TO UP MY ENERGY LEVEL?

WHAT DO I NEED TO SAY NO TO MORE REGULARLY?

WHAT DO I NEED TO SAY YES TO MORE REGULARLY?

Yesterday was one of those straight out days. I was on the phone, in meetings, writing e-mails and filling out paperwork until 9 P.M.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I mentioned to my sister, when I spoke to her this morning, that my eyes hurt, and when she asked me how much screen time I had yesterday I suddenly realized why.

It also made me realize why I feel at this particular moment that I don’t have enough time. Surprise phone calls, unexpected e-mails that led to necessary urgent paperwork gobbled up my time yesterday and spilled over into today. These things made it impossible to complete my to do list. That made me feel like a failure. That caused me to eat extra candy which in turn caused me to feel groggy and less energetic.

So today I am making a new choice. I finished the calls. I answered the e-mails… and I filled out and mailed the urgent paperwork.

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

JOB DONE! Now I can stop thinking about it, move on and refocus.

I can look back and celebrate the fact that I did not entirely sabotage myself yesterday in what I realize now was a stress storm.

Photo by Ray Bilcliff on Pexels.com

I may have had four pieces of dark chocolate. But I didn’t eat four Swiss Rolls! Go me!

Even though I missed writing yesterday I still got most of my essential reading done, my devotional video completed and posted. Even though

I did not do the filing I had on my schedule, but I did get the nursing home paperwork done and I still went through my financials.

And today the stress storm has passed.

I am back following my schedule.

I have logged my meals. I am back counting my steps

The regular house chores have been done: Dishes are done; Kitchen is cleaned; Roast is in the oven slow cooking; furnace has been filled with water; dehumidifier has been emptied; and the birds are fed

I have gone back to prepping for the fast which starts in two days (I had my last cup of coffee this morning).

And now I am writing A note to the Vicarage before the dogs start barking for their afternoon walk.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

I guess I have to realize that there will always be those days that go off the rails and no amount of planning is going to salvage them. That said I am seeing that something has changed. Last year at this time when my days started getting hectic I just gave up:

I stopped writing.

I stopped counting my steps and fell off the diet going on to gain an additional twenty pounds by summer.

I just decided that since we were moving out of the house in May any way for renovations: sweeping the floors, cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms or shower were sort of unnecessary.

It’s a whole new year and my perspective has changed…grown.

I know the dogs will bark again soon I know another day off the rails is going to happen. But I think I am ready this time.

A FUNNY COINCIDENCE

Once again, the pandemic has come to visit the Vicarage. Amanda has just tested positive for COVID;

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

So, she has been sequestered to her room. I am getting ready to super sanitize the bathroom and then I am going to mask up and head out to do the necessary errands in case, you know, I have it.

It’s strange to think that the last time this happened to us we were actually quarantined indoors for 14 days and had to have groceries delivered to us.

My biggest concern now is making sure Mom does not get it. Chances for that are relatively small as she and Amanda have had no physical contact because of Amanda’s schedule and Mom’s living quarters lending themselves so well to social distance. Still I will be doing everything in my power to make sure that we keep this bug shut out.

Mom and I just got word that we are due for our next booster by the end of January so we are at the end of the range of immunity (if such a thing even exists). I have actually been wondering if I can get someone to come in and give her the booster as she really…really hates going out. We have managed to get many of the other medical services mom requires to be in house so… who knows? Anyway I was just thinking about all this the other day and wouldn’t you know COVID puts in an appearance once again. It’s a funny coincidence.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN COINCIDENCES?

PRAY IT FORWARD

Yesterday we received a powerful prophetic word that was brought forth by two of our prophetic people and the preacher, all in line with one another in their messages.

Basically the idea put forward was that a storm was upon us, no avoiding it now. God won’t take away the storm. He will walk with us in it and give us power to walk through it miraculously, As we keep our FOCUS ON HIM. Here is one of the Scriptures Carrie Hackett, our guest preacher, used.

 “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’ ” Ma. 14:22-33

Photo by Ralph W. lambrecht on Pexels.com

Today, I began preparing for the 21 day fast which starts next week. I am weening myself off of caffeine and processed sugar to begin with. I will be doing the Daniel fast which is a vegetarian fast with no caffeine, sugar or processed flours. The purpose of this fast is going to be for a release of personal growth in our congregation through a process of breakthrough in areas where we are stuck.

Of late I have felt my vision was stuck. So I will be praying for a release of my prophetic vision.

WHERE DO YOU FEEL STUCK?

A GOOD START

Photo by BOOM ud83dudca5 on Pexels.com

HAPPY 2023 EVERYONE!

So here we are at the beginning of the new year 2023. It’s Sunday. My busiest day of the week.

Up at 4:30 A.M. for an hour of prayer

Make the coffee

Walk and feed the dogs

Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

Set up Mom’s pills for the week

Make breakfast for me and Mom

Do Some housework

Read my Bible chapters

Get Ready for church

Write my Men’s ministry letter

I have that song ringing in my head this morning from The Trials of Rosie O’Neill

Living in time and feeling every moment
Do I walk into tomorrow and never look behind
In a perfect world
Everyone’s dreams would all come true
How will it all unfold
I wish I knew

Look at all the ways the mystery unravels
Try to find a pattern–is there one to find
Though the sky is stormy
I see reflections of gold and blue
Will the true story ever be told
I wish I knew

As I try to learn the answer
And I stumble along the way
I am powered by the love in my heart
By the thoughts in my mind
By the dreams I dream each day

It isn’t always easy
But I gotta believe I’ll make it through
What will the future hold
I wonder what will the future hold
How will it all unfold
I wish I knew

© 1990 Lushmole Music (BMI), Rosie Tunes (BMI)

If the rest of my year is as productive as this first morning then 2023 promises to be a very good year. Of course it’s not a perfect world so what dreams will come true and which ones won’t? I wish I knew.

Photo by Tomas Ryant on Pexels.com

JUST LIKE A NORMAL JOB

Nothing dramatic to report today. Sometimes the job is just like every other normal job…well almost.

I think I might have mentioned that I bought my mother a subscription to Storyworth for Christmas. It is a neat website that specialises in helping elders tell their stories for posterity. You can check it out here.

STORYWORTH

Mom and I had our morning interview which consists of me asking the weekly question and letting the conversation go where it will for a half hour or so. Then I sit down and add to the story board we are working on..

The week after Christmas is generally quiet at the church but this is turning out to be fix it week. We have had Tim, the hydrothermal unit repairman here for a few days working on our oldest hydrothermal unit which gave up the ghost back in August.

The plumber was supposed to come today to to replace our sewage pump in the basement. He got stuck at another job.

So I have been printing out devotional material for our upcoming fast and getting it ready for the stapling process tomorrow while waiting for the skilled workers to finish up their work which at the moment seems way more complicated than mine.

Photo by John Diez on Pexels.com

I made a devotional video and a few phone calls to congregants who are ill.

Tim is finished now and so is the photocopier, so it’s time to go home and make a healthy dinner and finish my step count for the day….See. It’s just like any other normal job.

I Got the Word!

Every year I ask God to give me a word for the year, a theme of sorts towards which I can direct my energy. I have done this for long enough and publicly enough that a large part of the congregation around me also seeks for a word for their lives each year.

At Christmas my daughter asked me what my word was and I had to be honest, I didn’t really have one.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I have a word for our upcoming season of fasting and prayer. That word is “BREAKTHROUGH”. It’s a great word but it didn’t really resonate with me regarding my own personal life journey for the year.

I usually have the word for the next year by at least the middle of December…this year NOTHIN!

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

ZIP!

ZILCH!

ZERO!

Honestly, I was getting a bit nervous about not having a word. Then today at last it came!

My word for the year is…..

Photo by Patrick Porto on Pexels.com

SURRENDER!

Here are some Scriptures to go with it.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? a 4Have you experienced b so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? Gal. 3:2-5.

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isa. 43:1-3

THE DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER

I still don’t really know where this is all going to lead, but at least I am here for another day of on-line journaling. And maybe that is going to be the point. “Notes” might be the brief opportunity I give myself every day to give myself a moment of context, a moment of putting it all in perspective.

The day started as most days do, walking the dogs, making the coffee, making my breakfast and logging in my calories (well that’s new). I bought myself Noom for Christmas as a gift from my Mom. I have got to drop between 60 and 80 pounds. So of course I set my goal for 85 pounds. Does that make me an over achiever?

Anyway, after that first log in I took a shower and got dressed to go to the store for some new pants for the funeral I had to preach today. I popped the button clasp on my old dress pants (hence the Noom purchase). I went to the store and bought the fattest pants they had in my leg length and got them home only to find that they fit as long as I didn’t have to sit down for any length of time (hence the Norm purchase).

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst on Pexels.com

I think though that I have to be careful of not letting the weight thing become too much of a focus. I do have bigger fish to fry this year. As I was sitting in prayer late this morning into the noon time hour I began to hear the voice of the Lord promise me a new level of clarity and power in prayer, but it would only come if I returned to a former rhythm of living within the context of this new wineskin, called lead pastoring. I have a lot to think about during the upcoming season of prayer and fasting (which begins on Jan. 8th). I am thinking by that time I will be moving into that former rhythm within the new wineskin, and the fast will be a solidifying agent for the duration of my ministry prayer life. 

For Christmas this year I bought my mother a subscription to an on line story app called Storyworth. Each week we get a question to discuss and then I spend a bit of time each day writing down her answers. This week our question is, “What was your mother like when you were growing up?” Mom and I have been deepening the answer to this question these last few days. It has been a fun series of discussions leading to conversation about what my mother’s life was like growing up on a small working farm.

After our lunch conversation I headed off to perform a committal at the local Veteran’s Cemetery.

I didn’t know the family I was serving today. Sometimes that happens. When a family does not have a home church or pastor they are connected to, each funeral home has a list of pastors they call upon to meet the need. This particular family was from quite a distance away and it has been many years since I worked with this particular funeral home. But they still had my name and number and when none of the pastors in their immediate area could help they reached out to me. I don’t do many funerals for people outside my congregation anymore simply because of time constraints, but this was a family I could help so….I preached the committal service for them and then went grocery shopping. Ministry is an odd mix of the sacred and mundane. Ministers must minister and ministers must have groceries.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Pexels.com

I guess maybe that is part of the rhythm/ balance I really need to get back to as I enter this new phase of ministry (new wineskin as God calls it). I have to figure out how do I faithfully live in the space between the sacred and the mundane? How do I emotionally navigate the waves caused by the often violent switching between the two mindsets. I feel like I was doing a better job of it during pandemic. Of course at that point so much of the sacred ministry was actually shut down and now….I hesitate to say normal has returned, but new normal does qualify. Sometimes the new normal does look a lot like the old normal.

I think, it is time to rehash some of the lessons I learned during pandemic especially about prayer rhythms. I need to look into how I am supposed to be incorporating those rhythms of sacred breath and mindfulness into this new context.

DID PANDEMIC MAKE YOU MORE MINDFUL? IF SO DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE LOST THAT MINDFULNESS AS WE HAVE RETURNED TO NORMAL LIFE?