A couple of years ago, I joined a group of 4-8 women gathered on Monday mornings in an empty conference room in a suburban church to pray for their twenty-something adult children. The first morning we met, we introduced ourselves, briefly shared a bit about what each of our kids was doing post-college, and whether our offspring were still actively following the Jesus we’d each endeavored to share with them during their growing-up years. I jokingly dubbed us Moms In Touch 2.0 after the prayer groups popular (now renamed Moms In Prayer) when most of our kids were in elementary school. It was in this group I discovered that among a safe community dedicated to interceding for the various messy crises of our kids’ respective launches into adulthood, there are some things that leave us as outliers, even among friends.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pilgrimsroadtrip/2014/10/kvelling-valley/#ixzz3GeABH0zk

Read More...

I’ve written in this space (herehere and here) about the challenges some over age 40 have when it comes to maintaining meaningful connection with their local churches.  I am always on the lookout for people and congregations doing some creative thinking about how to nurture spiritual maturity for those at midlife and beyond.

bonesDr. Gail Bones has written a very helpful exploration on the subject of transition in Living Cross Wise: Hope and Help For Navigating Transition (Treasure House Publishers, 2013). This 12-chapter, 200-page workbook is a thoughtful, Biblically-rooted study of the uprooting, disorienting nature of change, loss and new growth in our lives. She notes, “As painful as it is to be stretched, both in labor and in life, (transition) is an essential part of giving birth to something new.” Each chapter includes a helpful, wise reflection, a set of discussion questions that would work in a small group or to be used as journal prompts, five days of Bible study questions, some thoughtful quotes, additional reading suggestions and a memory verse. A couple of excellent appendices are designed to assist readers in prayerfully naming their priorities during a time of change. She includes a word of instruction on how to run an intergenerational group to walk through this excellent material.

Peace Lutheran Church in Joplin, MO ran a Vacation Bible School for seniors. Activities included Wii and iPhone instruction, greeting card making, a class focused on helping participants write a personal history, crochet and choir groups, a space to simply hang out and talk and more. [Read more]

Read More...

My friend B. had been a pastor for years before he stepped into the leadership of a parachurch ministry. During his work week, he worked and prayed with dozens of pastors and church leaders interested in transforming their congregations and communities. But on Sundays, he and his wife were invisible members of their own home church.

“It’s not because I’m burned out from my work,” he explained. “If anything, the work has energized me. I’ve offered to serve the pastoral staff in whatever way they need, connect them with resources, or just listen and pray for them – my wife and I have always been used to being an active part of the life of any church we’ve attended. At this church, we attend a small group, and my wife prays with some other women a couple of times a month. That’s it. Frankly, I don’t think they don’t know what to do with us.”

I wondered aloud if maybe the staff felt threatened by his expertise, experience and influence, instead of welcoming the gifts the couple wanted to offer to their local body. After all, having a former pastor in the pews might carry an intimidation factor for some; kind of like having Tom Brady quarterbacking your Pop Warner football team. [Read more]

Read More...

After a lifetime of taking almost uniformly terrible pictures, modern technology in the form of camera on my phone plus the special effects magic of Instagram filters has allowed me to improve my game a bit:

original image Balyeat's Coffee Shop, Van Wert, OH

Saturated color highlights the sign's decay.

 

Original image. Barrington, IL.

Cropping and contrast adjustment highlighted the color of the unexpected petunia growing out of a crack in the brick sidewalk.

 

original boys

Slightly cropped, and warmed up a bit.

 

While there is almost nothing a person with a good command of Photoshop can’t do to an image to make it better, worse, older, younger, or different, my experiments with Instagram have given me a way at last to show what my heart sees when I snap a picture.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. – 1 Cor. 13:11-12

Young children draw what is in their hearts, scribbling with abandon on a sheet of construction paper. Most of us stop drawing about the time we realize what we see isn’t the same as what we’re trying to reproduce on a blank page. The frustration of the dissonance keeps us from continuing to play. Instagram has been for me a way to play again. Because I have the sense that when we see fully and completely, when we know as we are known, we may be more like the children we once were than we can possibly imagine.

What about you? Do you love or hate the idea of tweaking a photo with some filters? Why?

Read More...

After months of writing and talking about regret, a few people have told me that they’ve thoughts about it, and they really don’t have any regrets.

Ninety-nine out of a hundred conversations I’ve had with others about regret include the other person sharing a few headlines of their own if onlys. I am always ready to reference my own regrets in those discussions as well.

The “no regrets” crew has two distinct categories:

(1) People who have sought to live wisely, and have made some poor choices because they’re human beings. These people have been intentional about pursuing practical wisdom by owning those choices and processing them before God as they’ve journeyed with him.

(2) People who are living disconnected from their regrets. The disconnect can take on a lot of different looks ranging from denial, sometimes taking the form of super-spiritual talk and activity (“No need to revisit the past. It’s all ‘under the blood’.”) to escapism via self-destructive activity (self-medication to numb their pain).

Figuring out which kind of “no regret” is in operation is usually fairly obvious. When someone is sharing a story of pain, hurt or regret, and their conversation partner responds with some variation of “Why can’t you just move past this?”, they are proving their membership in category #2.

empYou don’t need to have gone through a lifetime of bad choices to become an empathetic person. Those who seek to understand by listening well, by seeking to honor with humility and respect the feelings of another, by being present with someone else’s pain are either those who have a short list of regrets because they’ve processed them in a healthy way in the presence of God as they’ve walked through life, or they’re people who are sensitized to the hurt of others because they’ve recognized their own brokenness. This lack of empathy can show up in all sorts of ways. A “get over it” reaction to a friend’s woe, or a patronizing, dismissive response to stories of institutionalized racism (this excellent blog post highlights what this sort of approach looks like) both showcase the way in which a disconnect from our own regrets desensitizes us to ourselves and others. [Read more]

Read More...