Archives for February 2013

Feeling Boxed In – A Guest Post for Allison Vesterfelt


What is it about cardboard boxes? Children love them, adults recycle them, and all kinds of good things are contained within them. They are, however, designed to be temporary, reusable, for delivery purposes only. They were never meant to become permanent fixtures — they simply do not have the strength to endure the wear and tear of daily life, much to the chagrin of toddlers round the world.

I’ve watched children use their imaginations to create all kinds of interesting habitats out of a simple, large box. My own kids once made a playhouse, complete with windows and window boxes and a front door that opened and closed. And for a while, they loved playing in it and with it.

Over time, however, the box became wobbly and refused to stand up properly, the edges of the windows and door became frayed and bent and the entire house began to list to the left quite badly. The kids gradually lost interest, realizing that the box had served its purpose well and now it was time to move onto something new for entertainment and experimentation.

Boxes are supposed to have a limited shelf life.

It’s a pity we don’t more fully understand that truth in real life, the life we live from day-to-day, the life in which we human creatures find — or even create — our own special boxes and then crawl right inside them, insisting that the view from there is true and good, and in fact, all there is to see.

A box can be a cozy thing, I suppose. A place with clear boundaries, with edges, a place where we feel protected from the winds of fear and uncertainty, or the temptation of the new and different. And there are stages in our development as human beings when boundaries are needed and important. Children and adolescents need to know there are limits and that there are good reasons for those limits. Even adults recognize that there are some boundaries better left in place, for our own good and the good of our neighbor. As believers in the Book and as followers of Jesus, we choose to believe that those boundaries are divinely inspired, gifts to us for our well-being on the road of life.

But boxes? Boxes are never divinely inspired


Please click on this line to read the rest of this reflection over at Ally Vesterfelt’s lovely blog. . . 

The Sister I Never Had — The High Calling


Celebrating Anita’s Birthday in Choma, Zambia, 1966

About a week before Christmas last year, a wonderful thing happened to me: I was invited to contribute an essay to one of my favorite online magazines – The High Calling. The first idea I had contained the germ of what the essay eventually became. It proved to be an extremely difficult piece for me to write. It’s been 18 years, and the grief is still so strong. I would be honored if you’d follow this link to read the entire piece over at THC . . .


I never had a sister. But I had Anita, with whom I shared adventures, stories, dreams, fears, prayers. We logged a lot of life together and made a lot of memories.

She phoned me one day, eighteen years ago: “Are you sitting down, friend? I have stage 3 breast cancer.” We spent that weekend with our husbands, walking the beach, praying about what direction she should take for treatment. After choosing an expensive and controversial alternative course, she enjoyed 14 months of remission. We wrote notes across the miles between our homes almost every week during that time.

But one night in a darkened theater, we came to watch their son perform in a college play. I twisted around in my fold-down chair to see her, standing in the back of the auditorium the entire performance, her face lined with pain. Looking at her, haunted and frail in the dim light, I knew with every fiber of my being that she was dying. And, oh! She saw that I knew! Her eyes brimmed briefly with tears, we said goodnight and she never allowed me to contact her again. . .

Please follow me over to The High Calling to read the rest of this story. . . 

Timing Is Everything — Just Write


That’s what they say, right? “Timing is everything.”

Well, if that’s true, I’m feeling about everything’d out just now.

For two years, I’ve been working on this writing thing, posting several times a week, writing comments all over the place, finding a lovely community of friends and comrades on the way. I often wondered why. And then, I remembered . . . God asked me to do it.

Sounds weird, right? Well, it is a little. He asked this about seven years ago. And it took me five to believe it — and then, of course, retirement happened, which actually opened up exactly the kind of time and interior space that I needed to do the work.

So, I’ve been writing. And reading lots and lots of other people’s writing, too. Spending inordinate amounts of time doing all of that, actually, but learning a whole heckuva lot in the process. Like so many out here in cyberland, I struggled with the reality that not many people would ever read what I write, with the increasing pressure from all sides to be about things like ‘platform,’ and ‘SEO,’ and tweeting and creating an author page at Facebook. I worked through those peripheral issues (and for me, they are truly peripheral at this point) and gradually came to peace with writing when I could, saying what seemed good to say, and being grateful for whomever would care to stop by and leave a kind word or ask a question.

Then I got invited to write at another online spot — a magazine I loved. Wow! Cool! And then, I was asked to write for another one that I loved. Amazing! What a surprise! And then there was the Bible study series at another site and then a call for an essay at the place I long dreamed of writing. What? How did this happen? I have no clue.

And during all of this writing time, there has been our poignant and painful journey with my mom, the loss of cognition, the increasing confusion, the slow fading. Then it seemed right to us all that she should move closer to family. So we packed her up, we gathered the family love-team, and we moved her nearby. A lovely gift and a difficult reality, all at the same time.

Spiritual direction fits into this line-up, too. I stepped into training as my pastoral role was winding down, wondering if anyone would ever want to come and sit with a 68-year-old novice at this ministry. And just today, I added number seven to the list. Seven souls to meet with once a month, to listen to their lives, to listen to the Holy Spirit together, to discern where God is moving and prodding and transforming.

And then, of course, there was the completely surprising invitation to step back into work-mode again, doing worship-planning and leading, being an up-front presence for three months, after 2 years away. Also a gift. Also a puzzle to me.

Because ALL OF IT is happening Right.This.Minute.

Excuse me, Lord? Really??

Somehow, I think God is smiling smugly right about now. (Can God be smug?) “See, woman! This is what I made you to do — all of this. And if you open yourself to my grace and power in a new way, you might be surprised at how it all stitches itself together in lovely ways.”

So, I’m prayerfully (and tiredly) looking for the embroidery God is doing in the midst of what sometimes feels like the ragged hem of a garment I cannot quite see, trying to trust that the work being done in me and through me will come together. I’m looking for the silvery sheen of that thread from moment to moment some days, trusting that maybe, just maybe, I’ll catch a glimpse of what the Stitcher is up to.

Quietly joining this with Heather, Laura and Jennifer tonight. . .

When Reality Intervenes — Prodigal Magazine



I’m writing over at Prodigal Magazine today, just a small essay about the ordinary stuff of life . . .

So much of life is just plain ordinary. Day in, day out — do the tasks at hand, follow the routine, learn to maneuver the ins and outs of relationships, see to the commitments on the calendar, slide in a little bit of self-care. Yeah, just keep on walking, one foot in front of the other.

That’s why a change in the ordinary can feel like a welcome reprieve, opening the windows of the soul to let the good fresh air of the unplanned blow things around a bit. A change in scenery can do wonders for those ordinary-blues.

Unless, of course, it doesn’t.

We’ve gotten very used to our current state of ordinary. We’re both ‘retired,’ though busy with lots of different commitments and activities. We’ve got the daily routine thing nailed – each of us in separate areas of our home, pursuing our individual commitments, coming together for dinner and bits of conversation throughout the day. After a dozen years of living apart for a piece of each week, this is how we’ve been learning to do life together 24/7.

 And it’s a good, rich life . . .


Grace and Peace — Lenten Services

Am I ready for this?

I’ve been sitting in the back pew for over two years now, and happy to do so.
Enjoying the leadership of others, fed by the word,
encouraged by the music,
grateful for the community.

After a few months of some disorientation,
wondering a bit about how I’d discover who I am
without the hard-earned role of pastor as my identity,
it’s been a rich two years,
filled with surprises and grace upon grace.

Who knew that reading and writing and meeting people
through the miracle that is the internet
could be so rich, so challenging?
Not I, that’s for sure.
It has been wondrous serendipity for me,
week after week.
Reading good words,
thoughtfully offered;
giving and receiving encouragement,
finding a prayer community.

To tell you the truth, it’s been a lot like pastoring.

So much so, that I have not missed the work like I feared I might.
So much so, that I’ve discovered that long stretches of
unscheduled silence and solitude,
by the sea or in the quiet of my bedroom,
can be gift-beyond-measure.
So much so, that working with directees in person,
and communicating with a wide range of ‘parishioners’ via the interwaves
has filled that pastor-piece very nicely indeed.

So it was with some trepidation that I assumed ‘the mantel’ this month.
On February 1st, I began a 3-month, very part-time stretch
as. . . Associate Pastor, once again.
And to start things off, I was invited to do something I love —
planning and leading a series of six Lenten services,
in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.

We began with a simple soup supper on Ash Wednesday, one week ago tonight.
We had about 25 RSVP’s,
but enough soup and bread for the nearly 70 people who showed up.

 Then another 20 people joined them in the worship center
as we began to celebrate the beginning of Lent,
sharing communion and ashes.

There is a sweet seriousness about Lent,
about worship in Lent.
There is an intentional slowing,
a purposeful remembering,
a focussed attention.

The structure is simple,
both formal and informal,
with responsively read prayers,
songs in a minor key,
times of silence and confession.
But there is also coming forward to tear the bread and dip into the cup.
There is a time for public offering of brief prayer requests,
and a shared response to each one . . .
“Hear our prayer, O Lord.”
And there is the passing of the peace.

I love the combination of words written
and words offered,
words from the tradition and
words from the heart.
I like reaching out to one another,
with a hug or a handshake,
a ‘peace of the Lord be with you.’

I’ve done the brief homily for the first two of our six,
braiding thoughts from the four scripture passages
read aloud during the liturgy.
And tonight,
with a very much smaller group,
I also offered the bread and the cup.

Doing this again makes me want to take off my shoes;
I am standing on holy ground,
offering the gifts of God to the people of God,
saying the words to each person by name:
“The bread of heaven, the cup of salvation,
for you,  . . . “
“The body of Christ, the blood of Christ,
for you,  . . .” 

This is the heart of it all, isn’t it?
For you,
for me,
for all of us together?
All of us together. 

Whether that ‘all’ is 250 or 12,
this is our collective story,
our shared remembering.

This is who we are; this is why we’re here.

I am including the homily from tonight’s service below the links to Jennifer’s place and Emily’s and Ann’s.

Lent, Week One — Brief Homily on Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans
10:8-13; Luke 4:1-13

Four scripture passages, just like every week in the church year. But these four? They seem to have something important in common. And I think maybe it’s this: they all call us to remember important things.

The Old Testament passage in Deuteronomy? “Remember the story. . .” –the story of deliverance, of faithfulness. Tell it again and again and tell it with thanksgiving made visible in offerings and words and oil and song and respect.

The psalm? “Remember that refuge is found in God alone. . .” — when we name the name of Almighty God, we are secure in God’s presence, no matter what comes.

Paul’s letter to the church at Rome? “Remember that the word is near you. . .”
in your mouth and in your heart, and this living word is how we find rescue, how we are being saved, day by day.

And the gospel lesson — ah, yes, the gospel lesson. . . That one’s a little harder to pull out, but I think maybe it’s something like this: Remember to have your yeses so firmly in place that your noes will be almost automatic. . .”

And the through line all the way along, in each of the four, is this idea of ‘the word.’ The WORD — whether that word is the name of God, or faith in the resurrection, or offerings poured out in thanksgiving, or meeting up with the devil himself in the wilderness wasteland after 40 days of fasting and isolation — the Word is central.

Familiarity with The Word — learning it by heart as well as by head. Knowing the details of the story of deliverance, knowing them in our very marrow. Sitting with the story long enough to breathe it in and breathe it out. Absorbing the words as if they were living things, because that is exactly what they are, living and life-giving things.

Even when we’re at the end of our natural resources, even when we’re exhausted and hungry and thirsty, even when we’re wandering in the back of beyond, seeking the Face of God, carrying with us a blessing.

That pretty much describes where Jesus was in our gospel lesson tonight, right? From the high point of the dove descending in the River Jordan, to the immediate journey to the desert, to the 40 days of concentrated prayer and filling with the Spirit, Jesus is at his most vulnerable point when the devil shows up: weak, tired, hungry.

But ready.

Ready to meet the temptations thrust in his face, one by one, each invitation offered parried by a word from the Book.

We can only imagine what those 40 days were like for him – we are given no details other than it was a long season of fasting and solitude. What I imagine happening is something like this: gathering thoughts, solidifying goals, wrestling through the hard stuff, cementing in his mind and in his spirit who he was and why he came. Learning the YESES of kingdom work.

I think Jesus understood so clearly who he was and what he was about that saying ‘no’ was just about the most natural thing he could do when that temptor showed up. He knew the ‘yes,’ so he could offer the no. No to magic tricks. No to power plays. No to super stunts.

Yes to grace. Yes to worship of the True God. Yes to the upside down world that was his to usher in. YES to the story of God’s love for the world.

I wonder, what are the yeses in my life, in yours? Do we have them clearly in mind, part of our DNA? Yes to grace. Yes to God. Yes to the upside-down-ness of the gospel.

Because if we do, then saying no gets a whole lot simpler, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure none of us is tempted to jump off a pinnacle in order to prove that angels will save us.

And I’m guessing that we don’t hear dark whispers, enticing us to make stones into bread.

Ah, but I too often succumb to the siren call of things that do not truly nourish me or others. All kinds of things – from food that is lousy for me to words that I read or say that do not bring life. I sometimes wrestle with the need to feel important and needed, to have others validate me and offer me ‘authority and splendor.’ How about you?

What are the words that can help us with the particular wildernesses in which we find ourselves these days? Where are they found?

Right here, around this table. That’s a good place to start. This is the primary place of remembering, for us who follow in the Jesus way, isn’t it? Remembering the story, remembering the refuge, remembering the word, remembering what we so need to say ‘yes’ to.

Remembering the gift and grace of salvation, taking in the bread and the juice, letting it flood us with light and hope, with peace and grace. Amen.



Just Write — How Have I Missed This??

I’m not sure how I’ve missed this the last couple of years, but my writing companion from A Deeper Family, Heather King, has a lovely meme each Tuesday called “Just Write.” We are invited to sit and write out whatever is happening, whatever rises to the top. So, here’s what rose tonight:

It’s a gray day here, and a blue night. The fire is crackling in the corner — a gift of love from my husband every winter’s night.

And I am feeling the ache, the physical weariness of lifting, toting, sorting, sifting. And the emotional ache, too.

The frightened look on mom’s face when I got there on Friday morning. Confusion reigns in Mom’s world during times of stress. My brother noted that she was much like my dad was eleven years ago, when we moved them to that retirement community, the one we were moving her away from on Saturday. The one dad never wanted to go to, the one we hoped would bring my mom some respite from the never-ending care he needed back then.

But that rest never came. She did it all, finally hiring a strange little man to stay with dad for two hours once a week so she could grocery shop. And breathe.

She never really recovered from all of that. The exhaustion, the grief, the missing him.

And then, she began to lose her sight. And then my youngest brother died.

Now, I can see in her face, hear in her words, intuit from her body language — now she is the lost one, the one sunk beneath anxiety with a capital “A,” the one who can’t remember what you told her two minutes ago, the one who wants so badly to do it right, to understand, to ‘get it’ . . . but she cannot.

So tonight, I am in recuperation mode, remembering her silence on the long ride up here, hearing still the strangled question: “Have we been this way before?”

Yes, Mom. We’ve been this way many times. Many. But this may well be the last time, sweetheart.

Yes, it may well be.


“Where Are We Going?”

Just over a year ago,
we moved my small mama into this space,
an assisted living 1-bedroom apartment,
in the retirement community where she has lived for the past 10 years.

She was forgetting to take her meds, you see.
And she couldn’t see to walk across the street anymore.
And she was increasingly anxious about living
independently, in an apartment with a back door.

So we sorted and sifted and made uncounted trips
across the street from one apartment to the other.
My brother, my sister-in-law and I breathed
a very large sigh of relief, and trusted that
Mom would be snug and happy for a good, long time to come.

She had a little entry way, a large bathroom, a bedroom and a sitting room,
and two large closets. Even a very small kitchen wall, with fridge and microwave.

Well, not quite.
The cognitive losses kept multiplying,
the fantasies kept swirling,
the anxieties grew threatening and troubling.
And the nurses in the unit began to suggest that
she needed to make the next move,
to more care,
farther away from her friends and from the center of life on the campus.

So, she and I together talked and cried and looked at options.
And with my brother’s input, we decided that the next move would
be a little bit further than across the street.
She would move to Santa Barbara, ten minutes rather than
two and a half hours away from me.

Mom, flanked by her two good friends Patricia and Ginny
on the morning we left Hillcrest.

One last look at #162.

 Mom’s new room in Heritage Court 

And this was the Big Weekend,
the move away from friends, toward family.
The move away from the normal flow of independent living
to the more restricted movement of a memory loss unit.
The move down.

One room with a bath on a hallway of 15 other such rooms,
filled with people who were further down this road
than my mom,
a lovely, large living room for everyone,
and a private dining room,

The whole family pitched in and we rented a small truck,
loading it and two cars with what was left of her 91 years of life.
We drove through southern California traffic for nearly three hours
on Saturday morning,
were met by my son’s wife and youngest daughter,
who brought us a delicious homemade lunch,
and then we
unpacked it all and began hanging pictures.
In the process, we introduced her to aides and residents,
trying to get her settled as quickly and thoroughly as we could.

I told her she now has what the Brits might call a ‘bed-sit.’
Her bed fits nicely in the corner, out of sight of the entry.
Her blue cabinet still holds her precious Royal Doulton figurines.
Her plates and artwork are all in place.

We worked hard, all of us aging children.
My brother’s wife is an artist and a work-horse,
and together, we make a formidable team.

Dick’s sister,
who was there to be with her own mom, spent several hours
talking with my mom, introducing her to people,
making her feel included while the rest of us schlepped and hammered,
grunted and groaned.
At the end of the day,
we left her in the dining room,
already being gracious to two total strangers,
who don’t, as she put it, ‘have much to say.’

No, Mom, they don’t.
But I’ll tell you what —
those two women said more to you that night
than I’ve ever heard them say to anyone else.

I think it is entirely possible,
that even as she continues this downward slide,
my mother will be a minister of hospitality
right where she is.
It’s a gift, you know.
And she’s got it in spades.

I find I don’t yet have the internal space to reflect on this whole thing just now,
but I’ll join this more straightforward report with Michelle, Jen, and Laura tonight.

Entering into Lent – a Beautiful Download for You

Today we are the brink of Lent 2013.
It seems to have come quickly this year,
dependent as we are on the shifting calendar for Easter Sunday.
Yet, here we are!!

Are you ready?

If you’re not quite there, that is just fine,
because Lent itself is a time of preparation,
a set-apart time, for reflection, repentance, refreshment.
So come as you are, ready or not —
the season welcomes you, Jesus welcomes you.

Sometimes people ‘give something up’ for Lent –
like particular foods, treats, habits.
And sometimes, people add things for Lent,
like new patterns for scripture reading,
prayer, generosity, penitence.

The Foundations for Laity Renewal have brought us a gift for this season.
It’s a beautiful devotional booklet,
free for the asking,
with contributions from a wide variety of writers
connected with the Foundations and their subsidiaries,
most particularly, The High Calling and Laity Lodge.

Many of the names will be familiar to you, I’m sure,
and I was privileged to contribute one day’s meditation, too.
I encourage you to head over to this site,
fill in your name and then open the link they send.

It will be a rich addition to your Lenten experience this year, I promise.

If you’d like to read through the introduction and opening thoughts
you can click here, and go directly to The High Calling to read
Mark Roberts’ good words.

Bare: A 5 Minute Friday, Embellished + A Photo Essay

I have a love-hate relationship with the wind.
It’s a California weather feature that no one talks about very much.
You hear about the sunshine. Or the smog. Or the fog.
But the wind?
Not so much.

But it’s here and it’s sometimes huge.
When it comes in the dark of night, howling through the canyons,
I detest it.
Sleep becomes impossible, yard furniture tumbles across the lawn,
tree branches click against the windows, power flickers,
often going out for hours.
Demons can loom large in such weather.

When it comes in the light of day,
and the day is hot and the season is dry,
I fear it.
Wildfires are endemic to this climate and they are terrifying.
Massive damage in moments,
families displaced, memories lost, even lives,
if it’s bad enough and fast enough.

But when it comes in the middle of winter,
as storms are brewing and blooming,
the wind is an entirely different thing.
It’s a friend, a welcome, bracing blast of cold, clear air.

And I remember what it felt like when I was an early adolescent,
old enough to be taller than almost everyone I knew,
but young enough to allow a rich imaginative life.

We had a back porch that was nothing more than a steep staircase with a landing.
We had milk delivered to that porch, twice a week,
and I often put the empties out in the case
to be picked up in the morning.

When the wind blew in the wintertime,
I would go out to check on the bottles,
imagining that they might be lonely or frightened,
and I would tell them that everything would be all right.
And I would stand up tall, spread my arms,
lean my head back and close my eyes,
and present myself to the force of that wind,
standing bare before it, willing it to blow me over.

And it never did.

Instead, it reminded me that there was much in this life
that is so much bigger than I am,
and beyond any feeble ability of mine to control.

I was reminded of that feeling yesterday,
and it was wondrous.

I took a walk on the bluffs, following the paths to Coal Oil Point Reserve.
And the wind was blowing mightily.
My jacket zipped to my chin, a brimmed hat holding wispy hair
firmly in place, I walked in wonder,
dressed from head to toe,
yet bare before the beauty.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by my life of late,
trying hard to control all the pieces that are coming together
in this month of February.

I am back at work for three months,
something I never planned, nor even thought about,
to tell you the truth —
yet here it is.

My mother will move to my community next weekend,
and various family members will help me make that happen.
That’s not something I planned, either,
even though I have done all the legwork,
checked out the options,
taken my mother to see them all.

Still, I didn’t plan to have to care for her in these late years of her life.
I didn’t plan for her to have dementia.
I didn’t plan for her to lose her eyesight,
her son, her self.

But here we are.

Why, I wondered, did I say ‘yes’ to this job right now?
Am I crazy?
(Don’t answer that.)

I’ve been laying out Lenten services for the last couple of weeks,
enjoying the feel of it, not sure about the weekly commitment
of leading them all, but pondering, with what I hope is an open spirit.
Yet I haven’t felt any strong confirmation that
this decision was one I should have made,
thinking only it is one I have made.

Yesterday’s walk opened something in me.
I guess that’s what being bare can do, isn’t it?
Standing on the edge of a cliff, the wind blowing wildly all around you,
staring off into the wonder and beauty and complete untame-ability
of this world — well, that can strip away a lot of things.

So, as I got in my car to drive home,
after taking these pictures, and saying, “Thank you! THANK YOU!!”
with my arms outspread, my head bent back, my eyes closed —
after that. . .
I drove down the ramp to the 101 Freeway,
I thought about the intense privilege it is to be
asked to pastor anyone, anytime, anyplace,
and tears of gratitude spilled.

I GET to do this.
I am invited to do this.
I am welcomed to do this.
I do not, in any way, have to do this.

I cannot put into words what a gift that experience was to my roiling
spirits and troubled heart.
What’s happening in my life right now
IS beyond my control. It just is.
But it is not beyond God,
it is not beyond hope,
it is not beyond wonder,
it is not beyond joy.

It is gift.
ALL of it.

Thank You. 

Joining late with Lisa-Jo’s community over at the 5-Minute Friday link-up. Five minutes took me to “beyond any feeble ability of mine to control.” Another ten minutes took me to the end of the words. The pictures and the techno stuff with formatting?
Well that took another 45 or so. 

I just read this through, after plowing through HTML to figure out why the font keeps shrinking every time I insert a picture. Finally, the preview matched the draft. And as I read, I wept again — grateful for the windy day, even more grateful for the ways in which God chooses to reveal love and grace to me, despite my anxious heart and control-freak nature!!

Five Minute Friday

adding this tonight to the Monday crowd – Michelle, Jen, Laura and Ann – with thanks for the invitation to think about how God is working in us, how we’re learning through play, and how gratitude changes everything.

A Note to My Younger Self — A Deeper Family


Last week, Emily Wierenga invited her readers to answer this question: “Would you hang out with your younger self?” I’ve been mulling that one over for a week now. . . and here’s where I landed.

I can see you in my mind’s eye: tall and awkward, outspoken and uncertain and so worried about keeping all the rules. The ones summed up in your mom’s favorite half-joke: “Beware the unguarded moment.”

So that’s what you spent a lot of time doing, isn’t it? Staying on guard. Yet, as I recall, it came sort of naturally to you. Number one child to parents you adored, big sister to two brothers, one right behind you and one far back. You learned early to be bossy, to take charge, to direct events in your small world.

There was a circle of girl friends in high school, mostly the brainy kids, but not all. And there was the church. Oh my, yes, there was the church. As wary of leadership as you were in the school setting, you jumped in with both feet at church. You felt safe there, bounded, encouraged. The youth group was large and active, about 200 kids. And there were adults who cared about you, who invested in your formation as a Jesus-follower, and who knew how to have fun.

You went to confirmation and memorized pieces of the catechism and became a voting member of the congregation at the ripe old age of 14. And you sat in the balcony of that beautiful old Gothic brownstone, writing notes to your friends and trying hard to stifle the giggles. Yet much of the message somehow got through all that stifling and note-writing. You were blessed to hear the sweet notes of grace mixed in with the heavy bass line of rules, and, over time, that’s the tune that stayed with you the longest.

Sadly, however, you did not learn how to sing that song to yourself very well. Yeah, that nasty inner critic started a long, long time ago, amplified by the anxieties and expectations of others.

I’m writing over at A Deeper Family today . . . maybe you’ll join me there?