Category Archives: Listening Life

Family and Kingdom

I tossed and turned in bed last night. The bed sheets gathered around my neck. One feline camped out at my feet while another lounged around my head until they decided to rumble around 4 a.m. The humidity weighed heavy and my husband’s breathing echoed. Finally, I gave in and got up. After a shower, breakfast, exposure to the Happy Lamp, and a deep breath, I scrolled through the all-important happenings posted on Facebook during my not-so-slumbering hours. I came across this quote:

Once you’ve left the concept of family you’ve left the concept of Kingdom. – Bill Johnson

It took me aback. See, it’s Sunday. Sabbath. The traditional day to scurry about getting the family fed and presentable and out the door (by 9 a.m., yet again, like all the days before it) to attend a corporate gathering for worship. Except for the past year-ish, my family hasn’t.

Some days we’ve been sick; some days we’ve been tired; some days we’ve been with extended family members – in state, out of state, in all sorts of states. But lately, we’ve woken up leisurely. We’ve enjoyed breakfast together. We’ve dressed down, grabbed our bags with workbooks and card games and cookbooks for weekly menu planning, and we’ve gone to a local coffee shop to hang out for two-ish hours where we connect with friends who work there and friends who hang out there and friends who wander in and out in between church services.

I don’t know if this is the right thing to do. Part of our actions stem from wanting a day of rest. Perhaps that means our weekly activities are too much; perhaps that means we’re being lazy.

Part of our actions stem from children’s ministries at our worship gathering: we have three littles participating, but we don’t have adults serving, and the need for teachers/leaders/facilitators seems great. I’ve connected with the children’s pastor about this, and she spoke freedom to my husband and me that we didn’t have to volunteer. But I haven’t been able to get past the dread/guilt/uncomfortable feeling I have dropping my kids off with my friends as they’re teaching children’s Sunday school.

A friend has written about the lack of male representation in children’s ministries. This morning I joked with my husband over our Sunday morning cup of coffee that Jamie and I have the same sense but totally different responses. He rallies people to move toward something, issuing a call for men to come alongside the current volunteers (mostly women) in the role of teaching the young among us. And I wonder about laying children’s ministries down: no volunteers, no interest/energy, no program.

My family spends a decent amount of the week apart. Well, the kids and I spend the time apart from my husband. But on Sunday morning we spend some quality time together – with people from our community who come in and out of the coffee shop since it’s in the middle of our town – and we connect.

So when I read Bill Johnson’s quote, I did a double-take. To a degree I feel like I’ve left my church family. My kids beg to attend Sunday morning service – mostly to see their best friends and get to run around bizerko during community time while my hubby and I try to balance yelling at them to behave and giving up because who else is actually trying to manage their children? – and yet I feel a block about attending the worship gathering. Actually, I feel an achy tummy. And achy ears from my kids’ seemingly constant questioning. “Why don’t we go?!!”

So I read that quote, and I thought, “Have I left Kingdom? But I want to be about the Kingdom!”

And yet I spend Sunday mornings with my immediate family camped in the midst of our greater family. I don’t know that we worship. But honestly, I don’t really worship at the corporate gathering anyway, so at least my stomach ache stems from too much caffeine instead of spiritual anxt.

“Once you’ve left the concept of family you’ve left the concept of Kingdom.” I think this means to point out the importance of relationships over power; grace over law; love over all. And I hope somewhere and somehow the actions – and nature – of my family speaks the Kingdom to our greater family; that we hear Kingdom from our greater family; and that we get the chance to glory in the unexpected and unbounded movements of the Spirit together – to and with the greater world.

Discernment

Yesterday I heard a man telling a story from a time when he was a paid pastor. He was in his office when he heard a racket coming from the next room. The associate pastors were trying to cast a demon out of a person. The pastor listened to them for almost an hour as the associates kept commanding, “Tell us your name! Who are you? Come out!” and other things I couldn’t really relate to because I was raised a Quaker and apparently we don’t roll that way.

Anywho, the pastor finally went into the room next door and asked, “What are you doing?” “We’re trying to cast out a demon, but it won’t tell us its name.” “That’s because you haven’t discerned what kind of spirit this is! It’s a lying spirit!” “Oh. Okay.” The pastor left, the associates commanded, “Lying spirit, be gone!”, and the man was delivered.

Like I said, there’s a lot to that story that I don’t understand. But the part I’ve pondered was the “discerning of spirits” element. A new “crisis” seems to be emerging (or rather, finally named) in our regional Quaker conference. New mentions of “practicing discernment” peppers the topical landscape. This sort of discernment brings to mind images of turning inward, checking in with the “inner sense,” trying really hard not to use Scripture as a means to justify belief (but really wanting to), and sheer amazement if any sort of thing is agreed upon (but now, actually acting upon it …).

Recently I’ve heard about the gift of discerning of spirits. The above case shows discerning of evil spirits – the kind that Christ cast out of the man and into the pigs. But there seems to be a different gift of discerning as well: what spiritual gifts a person may hold, what honor or favor or future God may have gifted a person with. The centurion discerned Christ carried a great deal of authority. Quakers used to recognize “Weighty Friends”: could that have been a discerning of spiritual things?

I’ve never read Scripture that says God calls me to seek his will, but I have read about being called to seek God’s face – be in right relationship. It seems that God’s responsible for letting me know when I’ve stepped out of his will, which I will know if we’re in right relationship.

I wonder if my practice of discernment has gotten a little too modern (listen til I know which way to go or act: very “holy board room”) or post-modern (listen for the mood or the vibe and leave feeling happy: very “coffeehouse chic spirituality”). I wonder about practicing true discerning of spiritual things: I don’t know how to go about it. But I sense that in this sort of discerning comes the quaking, and that I really want to know more about.

Follow Your Favor

Tonight I re-listened to a talk titled “Follow Your Favor.”

Today I’ve heard people talking about listening to dreams, finding the place where one feels most alive, and learning to dream again.

Who is dreaming? Does God truly meet us there? Or is God already present in the dreams, and we simply have to meet God in that place of Most Trueness?

I hope. Oh, I hope.

Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

Today our worship gathering finished our focused study on the book of Ephesians.  We’ve been soaking in it for over eight months.  Wow.

I sat in the balcony, feeling released from that anxiousness that generally plagues me, looking for the I-Spy hunt that God has been leading me on as of late. So much fun!

The message this morning: reflecting on Ephesians. I had an inkling in my mind.  I had put a book in my bag before running out the door for service: it seemed to need to come along.  The title: “The Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation” by Watchman Nee.

“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1.17).

“Paul prayed in his day for the saints in Ephesus that they might see the exceeding greatness of the power which God had already given them. Now if we today do not see that the power in us and the power in Christ is on and the same power, we too must pray for seeing. If the power manifested in us is less than the power that was manifested in Christ, we should acknowledge that there are still many things which we have not seen. Let us humbly confess and pray to God to make us see. Yet whether we see or not, the fact remains that the power which God works in those who believe is according to the working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ.  Hallelujah! This the spiritual fact. Let us ask God to open our eyes that we may truly perceive and understand. We will not ask His to pour upon us more power from outside; no, we will only ask Him to cause us to discover and to see m ore that is in us already. And when God opens our eyes to see, we shall praise Him more and more for what we have been given” (23).

This I prayed, for my self and my worship family as we shared some of our reflections, struggles, challenges, and encouragements from spending time in (and out) of Ephesians.

“Paul prayed ‘that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ … may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation.’ Without the Holy Spirit, what profit is there in clearness of teaching? It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes and causes us to see. When He truly opens our eyes we will immediately be able to say: ‘Thank God, the work is done.’ We are not to expect the Lord to give us greater power: we are simply to perceive how great is the power which He has already given us. The spirit of wisdom will  make us understand and the spirit of revelation will make us see; wisdom will make things clear and revelation will bring them to us” (33).

All this I prayed while I casually waved my son’s palm frond in a passive aggressive way in attempting to show some passion. 🙂 And I smiled as my children proclaimed their hosannas all the way to the car, with construction paper leaves and a paper windsock. Just like in Bible times. 🙂

Wisdom and revelation: be here. We anticipate you with fear and trembling. Hosanna in the highest!

Ps.  The topic of the sermon I listened to on Tuesday night when I felt like God took me on an audio Hide & Seek game (my own personal bazinga!): wisdom and revelation, freedom and joy! Nevertheless!

Ritual, Respect, and the Light of “Instead”

After a hearty recommendation from a friend, I recently purchased a book: “To Dance with God: Family Ritual and Community Celebration”. The author discusses the importance of ritual in our family and worship lives through following the liturgical year, giving ideas for families to enter in without engaging in superficial piety. Due to the length of the title, my friend calls the book by the author’s first name: Gertrud. I think Gertrud would be okay with that.

So Gertrud arrived at my house, and I skimmed ahead to the section on Holy Week and Easter to get a sense if there was anything I might incorporate into our upcoming celebration. Gertrud is very holistic in her life, because instead of simply listing off craft projects and foods that could be enjoyed, she talks about an event and weaves in psychological, community, and personal implications.

Gertrud starts off talking about the procession of Palm Sunday with ideas of making bread dough chicks, gathering branches, displaying banners, and then so slyly delves into a discussion on feeling and passion in the corporate gathering. “The powerful liturgy of these holy days must tap also our deepest and most human place, the feelings of the human heart.” (157)  I remember loving to tear through the sanctuary as a kid: to be as loud as I wanted to be, especially without any adults to tell me to “quiet down, now” (as I do to my kids in the social hall – sigh). Part of that was the rambunctiousness that comes with being a kid, but I also think it’s something more.

Then Gertrud hit me, lovingly:

Indeed, in many cases it takes some educating and coaxing of priests and leaders of public worship not to stand at such a distance from the passions of what makes us human. That education and leadership, in turn, directed to the community assembled, can release a richness and a power, which can only be called a religious experience. Yes, we risk putting ourselves out. But to hold back or deny out of fear is to deny people a form to contain their human expression; it is to rob people of a religious life. (157)

Pow.

In one of his talks Graham Cooke talked about the relationship between worship leaders and the “rest” of the gathering. He said something to the effect that we’re called not to judge how worship is going or meeting our needs, but rather to intercede for the worship leaders that they may create an atmosphere of deeper breakthrough of the Holy Spirit.

My natural inclination is to sit back and point out things that I perceive are wrong or lacking, and then feel justified in disengaging. What if that negative revelation has a place, but rather calling for deeper engagement? What if that message is for me so I know how better to intercede for our worship facilitators? What would it look like to lift up rather than tear down? And what if lifted up, the facilitators can better “release a richness and a power, which can only be called a religious experience”?

One of my dearest friends facilitates worship both on Sunday morning and at our bible study on Thursdays. This past Thursday the songs she chose reflected the themes and fingerprints of God that we’ve talked about lately at our Tuesday night “crafty” gatherings. I don’t know that she did it intentionally or subconsciously, but I did grin as each song was displayed on the projector. I pray for her, respect that she’s been gifted for this task, believe she is equipped, want to acknowledge her blessings and intercede in her places of lack. I see richness and power released into our Thursday morning experience: hosanna!

I’ve been convinced I don’t carry the same posture on Sunday mornings, and this post is an attempt at repentance.

I am sorry for the times I have judged or been critical – that was not, nor ever will be, my place.

I believe God is the God of “insteads”:  Isaiah proclaims God wants to give beauty instead of ashes, abundance instead of deprivation. Instead of judging, I want to respect and honor those who have been chosen to facilitate our worship times. Instead of having a spirit of introspection, I want to have a spirit of communal adoration. I want to honor my leaders’ giftings, respect their leadings, and “coax” them into a deeper engagement and passion through a pouring out of prayer. I want to see us in the light of “instead”.

Then perhaps I, and we, will enter in more deeply to what God is already doing:

“11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 58

All glory laud and honor, to you Redeemer King! Hosanna, hosanna to the Son of David!

From the Heights to the Depths You’re There

A few months ago I had a chuckle. During our worship gathering one of my boys was sitting in the sound booth, “helping” with his favorite sound technician.  He puts on headphones, watches the computer screen, and actually sits quietly until he’s dismissed to “children’s church.”

Meanwhile, my other son was stuck in the men’s bathroom stall.  A friend’s son found him; with loving concern the whole family brought him in his distress to us and stayed to make sure he was okay.

One running things in the balcony; the other stuck in the basement bathroom.  But both helped out by our extended family.

Today the eldest was back in the sound booth and the middle child was sitting with one of his best bud’s family.  Jason and I enjoyed a moment of rest. I worked to enter into worship, trying not to get stuck on the mention of the “Quaker handraising” (described as a small extension of the hands to the side, totally non-expressive. Doesn’t quite seem in line with a denomination that got its name from describing their bodily manifestations of the Spirit). I thought about how nice it would be after worship, having received an invitation to a friend’s house for a Real Sunday Dinner (with grandparents and Wii entertainment for the tykes – delightful!).

Downstairs I ran into one of the Weighty Friends in my life.  Her face lit up when our eyes connected.  We waxed poetic about people we admire in our lives and joked about how it’s good that we don’t sit together, lest we stir up “real” trouble.

Similar to the experience I earlier described with my boys, I was enjoying life in the balcony, while another was stuck in a metaphorical crapper.

It can be hard to get through service with young kids, especially when the dismissal to children’s church occurs later than usual.  Instead of experiencing the help of a friend “opening the stall door” to get through, a snarky comment about controlling kids or not having them in the sanctuary pretty much slammed that door shut.

This is not the first time it’s happened to someone I know.

What do I do with something like that? What do *WE* do with that? What does it look like to give grace (“oh, maybe they were having a hard day”) or to call into loving correction (“this is not how we treat each other”)? My fear is I will hear more excuses (“yep, that happens in churches”) rather than being heard (“that’s hard. and not okay. what does this mean, and what must we do?”).

Ultimately it’s not my choice: it didn’t happen to me. Directly. But it happened to someone in my family.

After trying on a myriad of reactions, I take the lead from today’s message on prayer: pray without ceasing, in *all* things. In the heights/balcony and the depths/basement men’s bathroom, You’re there redeeming, O Lord. You pour Your righteous love on us all – the old, the young; the movers, the sitters; the finger-extenders, the quakers.

A song that echos through my days, and ultimately I hope to be my evident in my life:

We are His portion and He is our prize.
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us, oh how He loves us. – John Mark McMillan

Faith for a Feeler

In many respects I am my father’s daughter.

  • For years my watchband was sewn together with dental floss because “it’s three times stronger than regular string!”
  • I can eat breakfast at least three times a day.
  • I like my coffee extra-hot (which is pretty darn hot for an americano that’s made with 200 degree water).
  • This morning as I was loading six bottles of V-Fusion (known as “Granddaddy’s juice” in our abode) onto the conveyor belt at Grocery Outlet because it was only $1.79 (yes, Pappy, it’s true: total stock-up price), I realized, “I’m stocking up.  On juice.  And I’m super-excited.  I’m so my DAD!”

My dad reads a lot.  I read a lot.  Lately he’s been sending me his books so I can resell them at our local coffee/bookstore (also known as our home away from home: the boys’ nightly prayers always have a Chapters trip request for the following day).  I filter through Dad’s reads, pulling out what I find interesting *and* might read: as a mother of three small tykes, that’s a surprisingly narrow category.

The latest book I’ve discovered and have been soaking up is Andrew Murray’s “Living the New Life”.  This is also known as “The New Life” for some reason.  It’s written for “the young Christian”, a sort of manual of basic spiritual formation.  Each chapter is concise, starting with scripture, a small teaching with plenty of scriptural footnotes, questions for individual or group discussion, and a prayer.  In fact, it’s all here!  In the words of my father, “How cool is that?!!” [insert arms going out to the side, palms up].

Today I sat a bit with “The Life of Feeling”.  On the Myers-Briggs indicator, I’m a high-level F (Feeling); as high as I am an F, my father is a T (Thinking).  That has made for some interesting father/daughter dynamics as well as perceptions of Papa God.  Wikipedia, source of all information is true, sums up:

Thinking and feeling are the decision-making (judging) functions. The thinking and feeling functions are both used to make rational decisions, based on the data received from their information-gathering functions (sensing or intuition). Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent and matching a given set of rules. Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it ‘from the inside’ and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved.

As noted already, people who prefer thinking do not necessarily, in the everyday sense, “think better” than their feeling counterparts; the opposite preference is considered an equally rational way of coming to decisions (and, in any case, the MBTI assessment is a measure of preference, not ability). Similarly, those who prefer feeling do not necessarily have “better” emotional reactions than their thinking counterparts.

I know these are different uses of the word “feeling”, but I find it interesting to think of how they could easily get muddled, and likewise get me muddled.

We do not find the word “feeling” in Scripture. What we call “feeling” the Scripture calls “seeing.” And it tells us without ceasing that not seeing yet still believing–believing in opposition to what we see–gives salvation.”(Abraham), not being weak in faith, considered not his own body” (Romans 4:19). Faith simply adheres to what God says. Those who see, yet have no faith, will not partake of the glory of God. Those who have faith in God, but do not see, will witness His glory.2 The man who seeks for feeling and mourns about it will not find it. The man who does not care for feeling will have it overflowing. “He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39). Faith in the Word later on becomes sealed with true feeling by the Holy Spirit.3 (ref)

This seems to be my heart’s cry at the moment: for me and my worship gathering – “Feeling always seeks something in itself. Faith keeps itself occupied with what Jesus is.” What if my day-to-day activities were solely occupied with what Jesus is? What if my worship, individual and gathered, was solely occupied with what Jesus is?

Another dad-ism:  “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job.” Maybe it’s easier to find faith when I have faith, becoming aware of areas where I am occupied with what Jesus is.

I think the point is to retire my preference for decision-making and lean into that Great Mystery despite feelings or logic; this requires faith that I can’t produce but can accept if I’ll just take a step.

 

Spring Up, Oh Well (splish splash)

“Drench my soul with your living water.”

I attended a conference two weekends ago.  A friend caught me on Facebook in the early morning hours:  she had been praying and interceding, I had been syncing podcasts before making a slew of cheese eggs (because boy howdy, my kids can eat cheese eggs).  She told me about this conference:  The Sound of Heaven.  I knew about it but thought I was going to be out of town at my folks.  I mentioned it to my mama casually and quickly received an email from my dad saying he’d love to go with me, my mama would watch the kids, and Jason could do whatever he’d like:  win for all!

I was scared to go, honestly.  It’s a worship gathering that seems to shine Truth and Love, with a strong abiding in the prophetic, and I was a little scared that I might get scorched … or that I might not.  As we drove to the evening conference, a double rainbow blazed overhead.  No, it didn’t end on the building, but it was the most vivid rainbow I’ve seen in a long time.  Perhaps it’s brilliance was amplified in comparison to the dull grayness I’ve existed in for the past many months.

I remembered the flannel-graph story of Noah that I learned as a child and sensed a voice reminding me:  “The rainbow is a promise:  I promised never to destroy the Earth again.  And I promise not to destroy you.”  I realized I had a fear that God was going to wipe me out:  a lie.  This moment would be the first of the tears that flowed all weekend, and into the next week, and that are still present when I abide in certain moments.

During one worship session the speaker talked about God raining down and wells springing up.  Having grown up in the church, I figured I’d have a mental image of rain falling from the roof of my meeting for worship flowing out into the streets.  Instead, typical of God, it was the complete opposite.  I saw wells springing up in my neighborhood park, flooding the houses, kids playing, adults being drawn out of their closed homes to see what was going on.  I saw wells springing up in neighborhoods all over Newberg.

And I saw in particular geysers in the neighborhoods around Newberg Friends, gushing, flowing over into the streets, parks, parking lots, and into the church building.  Beginning in the social hall/kids Sunday School rooms the water rushed in, flowing upwards to the sanctuary, up past the balcony, blasting off the roof, shooting powerfully into the air and raining back down on the flooded streets.

My hope is kindled.

My family attended a worship gathering on Sunday night.  The theme of the night centered around dreaming about the future for this gathering.  One person commented that he dreamed about the gathering looking more like the people in the neighborhood:  that our physical neighbors would be drawn to participate.  I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my image because we don’t normally worship with this group:  it felt intrusive.

This picture feels like it was meant for the larger Gathering.  So I share it here (if anyone is reading this little blog still). 🙂

I’m not sure what it means:  I don’t need to know.  I get to abide, watch God work, and participate where He calls.  I want to spread the call of Love and Hope and Joy that God blesses us to live in.  Outside of the box.  Magnified in community.  Showering down love.

“Come like a flood and saturate me now:  You’re all I want.”

The Gospel of Weed Management

Summer’s here!  Technically:  though in these parts, it’s still feeling March-ish with the cloud-cover to sun ratio still substantially in favor of the clouds.  People are getting their gardens in, posting pictures online of their burgeoning (and potentially drowning) crops.  We have a small garden:  a couple of beds modeled after the square-foot gardening technique.  One bed is a carryover from last year.  My husband built an additional “adult” bed and two “kids” beds which the boys got to help with.  The other day my eldest came running in:  “Mama!  Mama!”

“Yes, son.”

“Mama, did you know?”

“Know what?”

“My lettuce!”

“Yes?”

“It’s *growing*!!”

I never thought my heart would skip a beat to hear such words.  In the past I could care less about growing things, and in fact, only had luck at keeping a sucker-fish alive.  But since my role has morphed into a Manager of Consumption, I find myself more concerned about food – where it comes from, how it’s grown, what the cost of that food is – to eat and to grow.  My creative side enjoys tending to the harvest:  what sorts of berries should we stock up on to make smoothies or cobblers with this year?  What color of peppers should we grow?

I told a friend of my son’s excitement.  He shared his own story about getting his kids excited about weeding.  “I asked them (in an excited voice) ‘Do you guys want some strawberries?!!’  They went tearing outside to our strawberry bed, but there were no berries:  just plants and weeds.  I told them that they needed to get rid of the weeds if they wanted those berries to show up, so they started working away!”

He noted that if people share a “hatred” of gardening, it seems to be in regards to one thing:  “My parents always made me weed.”  But when people (kids) could have ownership over then entire process, from picking the types of produce to grow, to prepping and planting, to seeing them sprout and encouraging new growth, to weeding and eventually harvesting and eating, they enjoyed it so much more.

This friend was our teacher in Sunday School for the month of May.  He shared on the idea:  “What is Truth?” or rather “How is Truth?” and “What does Truth taste like?”, exploring whether or not our concept/experience of truth is anemic (restricted to ideas) or more robust (people, places, feelings, a person – Christ, etc.).  We ended talking about soil in comparison to our spiritual lives:  the quality, the types.  If our soil (like Truth) is anemic, our lives/fruit reflect that.

I thought about our previous conversation of weeding, how when it’s removed from the full experience and focused on as the sole task, people believe they hate gardening.  What’s a thing we hear complained a lot about in regards to Christianity?  Sin management.  Without the church helping to give a full picture/ownership over the process, it’s just weeding, but sins instead of invasive greenery.  I hope to live in a space where I hear people exclaiming “Guess what?  My lettuce/patience/endurance/love is growing!” and to have my heart skip a beat in joy.

Make It or Break It

A few weeks ago while chatting with a friend about her current faith community experience, she made a comment that startled and stuck with me:  “This is a make it or break it point.”  We were reflecting on her participation at a fledgling worship gathering.  Either her passion to see this community grow, thrive, and fly or her cynicism that “institutional” church squashes most creative/emerging sorts of worship expressions was so strong that this experience is an ultimate for her:  ultimately uniting or dividing her from her present faith community.

I couldn’t quite figure out why her declaration bothered me so.  Is it that I didn’t anticipate her feeling that strongly?  We usually see so eye to eye.  Or perhaps it’s that in times past I would’ve been right there with her believing that this new expression was needed and absolute and of course not understood by the ‘stodgy institutionalized’, but in present day I wonder what she’s hollerin’ about:  how can the way we worship be more important than who we worship with?  My youthful fear:  have I slowly melded comfortably in with that that I railed against?

Today I read a post about the current attack/think-to-complain-about in the emerging/institutional church circles.  Jason asked what I had heard about Brian McLaren’s new book:  “Nothing.  I don’t really read emerging church blogs anymore:  they’re just kinda blah.”

The emerging church and mothering sites are what drew me initially into the blogosphere:  daily I would check for new Quakes or young adults crying out for more authentic living and worship (and new funny ‘here’s the many colors of poo of my child today’ stories:  when you’re sleep-deprived, they’re a hoot).   As blogging’s become more normalized, posts feels very mechanical, formulaic.  The topics are rehashed, and unless serious digging takes place, the grand sense is evangelical white males talking about oppression:  something’s a bit off in that scenario.

While listening to a podcast about the need for Free in today’s crafting business world, a comment stuck with me:  “The only thing you have to offer is your self.”  He said there are a million people putting beads on wire or crafting pictures, but only you can sell your experience and your self.  There’s a fine line, though, between offering your experience and personality and stories and views or becoming a commodity to be consumed, and a lot of the blogosphere feels like the later as of late.

I’m not done blogging.  I’m not done seeking for authenticity.  Is the lack I see enough to drive me away, to say that it’s a ‘make it or break it’ experience?  I hope not, either online or in my corporate community.  In an age where people seem to believe only extremes are heard over the roaring buzz of constant information consumption, I’m thinking the quieting hum that soothes my baby girl to sleep is the way to go.

[Plus, the extremes remind me way too much of my toddler, and sometimes it’s hard not to break out into giggles.  “WORSHIP THIS WAY OR I’M LEAVING!” versus  “MY SOCKS ARE TOO TIIIIIIIGHT!”  “You picked out your socks.”  “TOO TIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” 🙂 ]