Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pffffftttt on negative voices

Occasionally – or more often than I like to admit – I find myself dealing with things I thought I had already dealt with…but I guess some things are like laundry, never really finished. I don’t think it’s just me, either. Too many conversations give me reason to believe it’s a pretty widespread thing.

Once again, I find myself realizing how much I have listened to negative voices and allowed those voices to dictate how I see myself. Not sure what I mean? I’m talking about the people in our lives who have influence over us and either tell us up front or slyly communicate that we are less than their expectations.

My dad reads this so I feel compelled to point out that I am not referring to my family. I’ve been blessed with parents, children, and a sister and brother-in-law who do everything they can to tell me how wonderful I am. Even when I’m not.

There are many others in our lives, though, who wield influence over us. We want them to approve and be satisfied with who we are…or maybe even be more than satisfied. Delighted would be nice. To be fair, I probably interpret things incorrectly. But not always.

God has typically used irony and humor to get through to me…and such was the case with this revelation today. God sent an unexpected messenger to affirm my shaky understandings. As I walked my walk-deprived dog this evening, I began to realize how God used this messenger to clear out some of the fog in my vision.

  • I’m not perfect…I’m too human. And…I’m ok with that because it means I can still grow and learn and become. The growing and learning and becoming that has already happened has value, too. I’m so much more than I used to be and not nearly what I will become. That's exciting, not negative.
  • My gut isn’t always right but it is mostly trustworthy. Especially when I am aware and responsive to what my gut is telling me. If you get a gut-check from someone else, then you’re even more likely to be on the right path. Just sayin…
  • And finally…negative voices do not add value. Sure, there are tons of things most of us probably need to “work on,” but, for the most part, we aren’t nearly as lowly as some would have us believe. God made each one of us uniquely and purposefully…God does not screw up. We all have value…even those whose native tongue is Negative.

For now, I am freed of these voices. Even if I do still have laundry to do…

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bloom Where You Are Planted

This is a note I sent out today on our church's e-news...would love your feedback!

In preparing for this week’s message, I keep running into this phrase: “Bloom where you are planted.” It’s a cutesy phrase, to be sure…but it also encourages some deeper reflection on what that might mean were we to really live out that concept.

Many of us have been uprooted. We live some distance from where we began our lives as infants and children. We may no longer live in our childhood homes. Or neighborhoods. Or cities. Or states. Or country. We have likely been transplanted, whether by our own choice or that of spouse or parents or children.

This cutesy little phrase challenges us to not just accept the soil we find ourselves in but to open up, to bloom and share our very selves in this new and uncertain environment. The scripture passage that led me to this phrase comes from a letter Jeremiah writes to those who are now in exile in Babylon…uprooted and transplanted:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:4-7, NRSV)

I invite you to pray over and ponder this passage as we make our way to Sunday. Spend some time imagining what it would look like for you to bloom where you are planted, especially in your place of exile. As a newly planted and grafted church, how can we, collectively, bloom where we now find ourselves?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this passage and idea of blooming. Please feel free comment below or email me (ygillar@gmail.com) …we grow together through our sharing and support of one another so water me with your wisdom!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Singing about Grilled Cheesus on Glee

Maybe my timing was off. Or maybe I should have watched the first season before I tuned in a few weeks into the current season. Regardless, I watched "Glee" tonight for the first time and am still kinda scratching my head...

The "grilled cheesus" was pretty cute...and poor Finn's prayers were heartfelt and honest. And the grouchy lady was perfect for her role. Plus, the music was -- as billed -- really good. 

It was just rather painful to watch...because I'm pretty sure there are plenty of folks out there who don't have much use for God or religion or spirituality. Lots of people who tried their hand at praying for what they wanted then were disappointed when they didn't get it. And just gave up on the whole God-thing.

Let's face it -- if you try to rationally, logically make God (or faith or religion or spirituality...insert your favorite concept here) make sense, it just doesn't. I know there have been times throughout my life when I have stopped and wondered...is all of this for real? Is this divine being who I talk to at odd, random moments throughout the day really real? Logic and rational thought have a way of bringing doubt and uncertainty to the surface...except, of course, when its burned into a grilled cheese sandwich...

We do weird things as people of faith. Just this past Sunday, as I was preparing and blessing the bread and the cup for communion, I had to wonder what someone might think of this rather strange, body and blood practice we engage in as church folk. We take a perfectly good piece of yummy Hawaiian sweet bread and dip it into a huge cup of grape juice (hopefully Welch's) and somehow, someway we are connecting to Christ in a mysterious way...through this ritual that dates back some 2,000 years. Say what you want, but that is weird. And there are other things we do in the name of faith that could easily fall into the weird category.

Except, sometimes it isn't weird at all. Sometimes, it is just right. We know it deep in our souls, we feel it in every fiber of our being, but we can't express the experience in anyway that makes sense to someone who has not figured out what is happening when God's grace shows up in their lives...uninvited...unexpected...unfathomable.

Maybe the happy ending was the dad squeezing his son's hand, especially after the gut-wrenching monologue his son delivered at this bedside. I don't know though...I think the wrestling with the questions and making the effort to point out the Holy throughout the episode was as clear as the image of Jesus on the sandwich. I may just break out into song thinking about the ways the cast of friends were church for one another....