Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Dream Fulfilled

I first met our friends, Jay and Leslie, through a Life Group at our church. Our group consisted of a bunch of us who are over the age of 40. Truth be told, most of us were over 50, but there were a few from the younger crowd who joined us as we met every other Wednesday night. Over the course of a couple of years we discussed any number of things and one week we found ourselves discussing the dreams we had for our "second half" of life. (It's really only the second "half" if we plan to live to be 100, but that's a topic for another day.) Last Thursday, April 22, Jay and Leslie achieved their dream. (I’m sure they’ve got more, but I’m referring to the one they shared at our Life Group.)

It’s possible (read probable) that the dream belonged primarily to Jay in the beginning, but Leslie followed along and eventually, she was working just as hard. What was their dream? To complete the education needed to become pastors. In our particular denomination there are education requirements that must first be fulfilled. Then there is a test and an interview process. Personally, the whole thing seems a bit daunting to me. To have to take a test after the age of 50, well, that’s just inhumane. But, Jay and Leslie were up to the challenge.

With their tests and interviews completed all that was left was the ceremony at which they’d receive their license to preach. In our denomination there are additional requirements before being ordained, and that isn’t even a possibility until you’ve served as a pastor for a number of years. (I’m explaining this to the best of my knowledge only AFTER having it explained to me at least a half dozen times.)

We were thrilled to attend their licensing ceremony on Thursday and be a part of this very special moment in their lives. It only goes to show, you are never too old to start something new. When God has given you a dream, don’t think about your age, your race, or your perceived lack of ability. As the slogan goes, “Just Do It!” You never know where God might take you.

So proud of you, Jay and Leslie! Congratulations on achieving your dream!

If we look like we are about to get into some mischief, we probably are. Leslie may be a pastor, but she knows how to have a good time, too. Some days we are a dangerous combination! On this particular night, however, we did keep our laughter contained to a reverent roar.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bridging the Gap

I received an email today from my friend, Leslie. Whenever I go more than five days without posting a blog, she questions my commitment. And occasionally, she gets a little whiney about it. (I’m sure she’ll read this so just for her; I’m kidding, Leslie.) I really don’t mind because then I know that at least one person is reading my posts and waiting for an update.

So, here’s the deal on my lack of blog posts. It’s not that I’m not writing. I have been asked to do some “humor” writing for a newly launched website, Bridging the Gap, and there are just so many hours in my day (which can be significantly shorter than some people’s due to the fact that I’m not a morning person.) Bridging the Gap is a women’s ministry here in Minnesota, but the website is applicable to women worldwide (at least for those who read English.) I feel quite honored to be asked to write for them and I love doing it. The truth is, the short little articles I write for the website, are quite similar to what you usually see here. In fact, a couple of them have actually been here a year or so ago so if you go to check them out, you might be thinking, “Gee, I’ve read this somewhere before.” (Shhh….don’t tell. Sometimes when there is a deadline, I don’t always feel particularly funny.)

Let me tell you about the website. It’s so incredible. In addition to my articles, which by the way, can be found in the Laugh/Create section, there are articles on life issues, relationships, taking care of your home, leadership, finances, health and wellness, spiritual issues, book reviews, and so much more. In addition to that, there is a video that changes regularly called CafĂ© la Vie with encouragement, information, and devotionals. Oh, and speaking of devotionals; there is a whole devotional section, a section for Bible Study materials, and a prayer wall to share your prayer requests.

If you happen to live in Minnesota, there is also a section where you can check for upcoming events. You can search for them in order of the date they occur or by putting in your zip code to find the events in your specific region. By the way, if you see any typos in the events area, well, let’s just say someone whose blog you read, messed up at her job.

This website has been in the making for over a year. It’s still getting off the ground, but it’s a great resource for women everywhere and will only get better. Check it out and let me know what you think. In the meantime, I’ll try to get more posted here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fifteen Minutes of Inconvenience

A year ago, Paul Scanlon from Abundant Life Church in England, spoke at our church. Pastor Scanlon is an engaging and humorous speaker with a challenging message. Last year he encouraged us to be willing to give up 15 minutes a day to be inconvenienced by God in order to do something nice for someone. We didn't have to tell them about Jesus, or beg them to come to church with us, we were just challenged to do something nice.

Well, how hard could that be? I mean, what's 15 minutes? But right away I had a problem. I had no idea where to start. After great consideration I decided that the best way to go about this was to let God show me what I could do. Of course, I was excited at first and every day I'd wake up and pray, "Lord, show me how I can be inconvenienced today to do something for someone else."

I don't know, maybe I wasn't paying attention, but nothing obvious came up right away. I try to be kind to people on a regular basis so maybe I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, but didn't notice it as different. And, as ideas like this often go with me, I soon forgot to ask God to show me who to help.

But, one summer day, I remembered the challenge and can still show you the exact spot I was standing in a building in downtown Minneapolis when I silently prayed, "Lord, you still haven't shown me anything about this inconvenience deal. Really, I'd like to do something."

I left my meeting in Minneapolis and headed home, stopping at a friend's house along the way. It was a Tuesday night and I left her place about 6:30 p.m. thinking to myself, "it's only a half hour drive from here which means I'll be home just in time for NCIS. Perfect!" Side note: I LOVE NCIS. It is one of my favorite television shows but if you miss the first five minutes you never really know what is going on the rest of the hour because it's all based on the "incident" that happens at the start of the show. Another thing you should know about NCIS is that you don't want to be eating while you watch those first five minutes. Fair warning, enough said.

As I drove down the little back road out to the highway I decided that I'd call home and check my voice mail messages. Sure enough, there was a message from a woman who wanted some Creative Memories products. I used to sell them and apparently she hadn't gotten the memo with the information that I was no longer in the business. As it turned out though, the item she wanted is one that was no longer being made and I happened to have a couple of extra that I wasn't going to use. And, as is most often the case, she needed this product right away. (I refer to these incidences as "scrapbooking emergencies.") The caller told me that she was "in town" right now (that's Cannon Falls slang for "I'm in the city limits and I'm trying to get everything done so I won't have to drive the 10 miles back in from the country tomorrow.") I told her that I was on my way home and if she could wait 30 minutes she could have whatever she liked. So, we agreed that she'd wait in town and meet me at 7:00. That settled, I hung up the phone.

It was at that very moment that I realized; if this person is going to come to my house at 7:00, I'm going to miss the first five minutes of NCIS; the CRITICAL moments of the show. Admittedly, I got a little pouty and then a still, small voice rattled around in my head and said, "Well, you asked me to inconvenience you." RATS! I hate when that happens. For the record, though there may not have been a booming voice coming out of the sky I knew that the thought in my head was clearly from God. I laughed and said "Yes, well, I didn't mean I wanted to be inconvenienced in my inconvenience." If it's possible to hear God chuckle, I did.

As it so happens, Paul Scanlon will be at our church again this weekend. I can't wait to see what his challenge is this year. But you can be sure, I'm going to be more careful about what I pray for!