Friday, March 28, 2014


Like the good southern woman I am, I put okra seeds into water this morning to start soaking. I gave up  on the idea of apartment gardening this year. My rosemary, and yes the cactus, are dead, and my kale plant is not far behind. We just don't get enough direct sun in our little apartment.

The thought of a garden-less season saddened me, but I'd let it go. This just wasn't the time for it. Another year.  But, I was reminded last week that my church has garden plots for the community and to fill our food pantry. When I checked, one was still available.

This is my beautiful plot:

It's big. It has soaker hoses already installed. The soil is loose. It has a nice little colony of ladybugs. It's even complete with a volunteer onion (?) right in the middle and some plants that might be lettuce. I weeded it this week, and, while I'm still sore, it felt good to have soil turning over in my fingers again.

It's still a month and a half away from our last freeze (lets not talk about that), but I got the okra started today.

I love watching seeds grow. It amazes me that these tiny seeds turn into fuzzy, mini okras, and then full grown ones, and then into a pile of crispy fried okra on my Sunday lunch plate.

It's magical.

With the start of gardening season spinning through my mind I finally got around to reading the article I'd bookmarked on Suzii Paynter's sermon at the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry conference today. I really like Suzii, and have a lot of respect for her and her work in Texas with the Christian Life Commission (working on everything from trying to end hunger to combating human trafficking). Her words resonated.

Suzii Paynter urged participants at the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry conference to consider lessons from the life of 19th-century abolitionist Sarah Moore Grimke. In a novel by Sue Monk Kidd based on Grimke’s life, The Invention of Wings, the central character prays, “Please God, let this seed you planted in me bear fruit.” Suzii Paynter told women ministers to listen to the voice of God who called them, not the “belittling voices” who tell them what they cannot do. 

“The premise, of course, is that there are seeds of leadership deep in our lives,” Paynter explained. “These seeds bear remembering if they are to bear fruit.”

And, “Accept the unfinished business of your life in ministry. You do not know which imperfect, unfinished parts of your story will be part of God’s golden theme,” Paynter said. “You will never be given a tailor-made calling. But you will grow toward the fullness of your calling if accompanied by Christ.”

I'm going to let these okra seeds soaking up water on my desk be a reminder to look for, nourish, and remember those seeds of calling, seeds of leadership, in me and in others.

{You can (and should) read the whole article here on ABP's website.} 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Open Arms Of Enough

Once I learned the word "dregs," which I swore I had never heard before, I heard it at least once a day for a month. The same thing has happened with all sorts of vocabulary over the years. The same thing has happened with enough.

Once you start meditating on something, start looking for it, you see it everywhere.

I came across an article by Sarah Bessey, here, and this idea of enough was right there, front and center. She says,

For those of us who have been told that we are too much—too loud, too opinionated, too smart, too bold, too quiet, too curvy, too skinny, too sexual, too intense, too feeling, too soft, too tough, too bossy, too tender, too young, too old, too liberal, too conservative—may we say: you belong here with us. 

May we be the women who make room for the too-much among us.  

For those of us who have been told that we are not enough—not smart enough, not ambitious enough, not good enough, not spiritual enough, not rich enough, not enough wife, not enough mother, not enough friend, not enough woman, not strong enough, not educated enough, not experienced enough—may we say: you belong here with us.  

May we be the women who make room for the not-enough among us.

(May we be the men too.)

That's the great, inclusive thing about enough. It's for both the too-much and the too-little. Enough is the grace to accept what is, and it's the courage to hear that who we are is ok. Not just that, enough is the quiet space to hear divine whisper, you are good.

I'm starting to understand that seeing enough is a form of hospitality. Enough invites the too much and the too little in me to dine at the same table as the too much and too little in you. When we are open to seeing enough in ourselves and to seeing enough in others, we don't have to edit or to strive or to judge.

We just pass the chicken or pour another cup of tea. We nod and say, me too.

Monday, March 17, 2014

13 Days In: Reflections on Lent

When I was growing up I never associated Lent with much more than fish sandwiches in school lunches on Fridays. My Catholic friends sometimes gave up sweets or something similar, but I never understood why. Growing up Baptist in a small church in Texas did not expose me to very many liturgical traditions.

Through reading more widely, traveling, and making friends with deeply spiritual people of different traditions, I've come to appreciate and love many of the more liturgical traditions. Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent have become full of meaning to me and important markers in my spiritual journey.

For years now I have been attending Ash Wednesday services, usually at Episcopal churches around whatever town I happen to be in (after years of moving services at Abilene's Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest) and this year at my large Baptist church in the suburbs. As the priest or pastor or whomever places ashes on your forehead in the shape of the cross, ashes from last year's palm Sunday palms, they remind you that you are dust, and to dust you will return.

It's a call to repentance. It's a visible sign to remind you of your place. It's a call inward.

Those of you who know me well know that I love to set goals and resolutions. Lent for me is sometimes a do over for New Year's resolutions--a time to refocus on them without the clutter of holiday hangovers. Usually it's a time to go deeper, though. Lent is a time to remove something from your life that you don't plan to take back up (at least not in the same way) after Easter. Or, it's a time to focus on a discipline or habit that can become a part of your life from Easter onward.

My Lenten journeys have taken me different places. I've found the thing I decide to give up or take on is usually much more difficult than I planned. I "gave up" grudges one season in an effort to embrace forgiveness more wholeheartedly, and honestly, for the first time. It turns out that grudges are the kinds of things that are much more pervasive than I realized. When you start looking for things you find them.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to focus on this year for Lent. I was at least a week late in deciding on New Year's resolutions this year, and, with Ash Wednesday sneaking up on me, I was afraid the same would be true of a Lenten discipline this year. One of the things I love about the liturgical seasons is that they force me to confront things that I would continually put off without a deadline of sorts. So, I made some space and gave it some thought.

As I thought through what I am struggling with, what is holding me back, and who I want to be after Easter, I realized that I'd been talking about enough a lot lately. Enough is the opposite of scarcity. And the thought and fear of scarcity, of not enough, has permeated just about everywhere we turn without us even realizing it.

So this year, my Lenten journey is about meditating on enough. About having enough things, enough money, enough time. About being enough. About giving enough. About others being and giving enough. About others not having enough. I'm not sure how this will play out by Easter, but this meditation is already taking me deeper and in directions I did not anticipate.

So, for those who have never participated in Lent in a meaningful way, or for those who didn't get around to inviting the Lenten season into their awareness this year, I give you permission to start now. We are only 13 days in. (Easter is still almost 5 weeks away.)

Here are some ideas for Lent if you are looking for something to get you started, more explanation or to spur on some ideas: 40 Ideas for Lent 2014, by Rachel Held Evens

[Also, if you are taking on or giving something up this year, I'd love to hear about what you are focusing on.]

Friday, March 14, 2014

Connections and Habbits

I've spent a long time away from the blog, and it has been good for me. I went from a year of intensity to a season of searching and stillness (and back again through mini versions of the two). I feel like life swings between times when you want to share and between times when you want to snuggle your stories and your triumphs and your struggles deep inside you while you ponder what they mean.

I think that's good.

Yet, as another long Denver winter starts to turn to spring, I find myself with a surge of information in my brain. I am a collector of information and random tidbits. I love those Did you know... pieces of information. I love those lines of books or overheard conversations that make me pull my notebook out of my purse and write them down. I have been reading constantly, listening to new podcasts each week, and having meaningful conversations with fascinating people over the last couple of months. As all these bits roll around my brain, I have sensed connections.

I've been feeling this strong need to make these connections and to put them down in a way that is a bit more permanent than the orbit of random thoughts in my mind these days. I seem to keep having conversations with folks who have been trying to make these same elusive connections, too. So, I figure, let's just open this journey up.

I'm also looking for a way to make my writing more of a habit. Maybe the blog is familiar place for me to stretch that writing muscle. And, in the stretching of that muscle, maybe the connections–the stories, the triumphs and struggles, the podcasts and passages, the conversations–will cement themselves together in a more meaningful way.

Spring is stretching and seed planting season after all.