#amwriting, Family, Interim Ministry, Ministry, NaBloPoMo, NaNoWriMo, The Minister's Wife, Writing

Life is full

Victorian House floor plan I'm adapting for the family in my novel.
Victorian House floor plan I’m adapting for the family in my novel, from this book. Because you can’t describe a life without knowing where the sunlight comes through the windows and how far the bathroom is from the bedroom.

It turns out I am more of a promoter of NaBloPoMo than a participant in it. I have, however, been working on my novel, which is fun, although I do not have enough time for it, not really. Today I plan to spend some time on the novel, some time on a sermon and some time on overdue essays for Lectionary Homiletics, a sermon publication. That’s a full day of writing.

Every day this week has been a full day of living. Among the hats I have worn are Long Distance (College Student and other grown up people) Mama, cook, laundress, furniture duster, Pastor’s wife, Bible study leader, non-profit ministry Director (with it’s sub-categories of technical support, Social media minister, event planner and erstwhile visionary), book editor, novice novelist, floor plan researcher, freelance curriculum/sermon resource writer, colleague, friend, Facebook friend, Words with Friends player, step-mom, stationery supply shopper, cat owner at vet (twice, each with a different cat), leader, reader, pray-er, Stewardship letter writer, pastor myself and wife (minus Pastor’s for the times that isn’t the priority).

That leaves off a few descriptors for things I didn’t get around to doing.

Juggling multiple part-time jobs (Interim Pastor, Director of RevGalBlogPals, writing/editing) requires me to learn compartmentalization, a skill I have both envied and resented in others. This week I spent time on that task by setting up another email just for church and a connected Evernote account that works across devices. That’s my to do list just for church. And the truth is, I really only look at that Evernote in the blocks o time assigned to working at the church. It goes against my nature, but it has to be that way if I’m going to keep to the 20 hours a week for which I am contracted and also have time to do other work and be present to my family.

Oh, and God.

There are a lot of days in this season of life with its delicious if sometimes exhausting fullness when I count on God’s presence more than I invoke it. I think a lot about what God wants for and from me, from RevGalBlogPals, from the church I am serving, even from the church my wife is serving. There is not much downtime in which to regroup, much less to be contemplative, but I can feel the need for it. I made an appointment with my Spiritual Director — much-needed — but I can see the pace is going to continue this way for the foreseeable future.

So, I may not blog every day. But I am writing every day, at least a little, and I feel good about it.

#amwriting, Discernment, Writing

O, Great Belayer

Miss M and Mr. Dimples, belayed by Mr. and Mrs. S.
Miss M and Mr. Dimples, belayed by Mr. and Mrs. S.

Today’s UCC Stillspeaking Daily Devotion was something I wrote, about going with Mr. Dimples to the Climbnasium, and the way our friend, Mrs. S, held the rope for him.*

I’m not a climber, but I understand the concept. You plot a route up the wall, and you count on the person holding the rope, the belayer, to offer suggestions and to keep you from falling even if you lose hold.

Last year, I made an enormous move, leaving Portland after 25 years and parish ministry after more than a decade. A wonderful change personally brought with it some significant upheaval vocationally. More than once I’ve declared myself a writer on this very page, but I continue to struggle with finding the places to put my hands and feet, to climb the wall of faithful service to the One who gave me the gift of writing, among others. I don’t feel called to parish ministry now, but I miss living the rhythm of a preaching life; I often wonder if I’m doing anything that actually matters when I spend my time writing. There is no ramp-up to worship or a sermon, measurable in their impact on a community of faith. I continue to decide and undecide what sort of larger project I might undertake. I keep reaching for a hold and not finding the right one. Not yet.

The truth is I most love writing about and in conversation with scripture. There are numerous small endeavors, being an occasional sub for Daily Devotionals among them, along with writing the Prayers for Pastors I publish on this blog. I’ll be writing some curriculum (for a paycheck, amazing!), and today I’m starting a project writing liturgy to go with the Narrative Lectionary’s Year 1 (with the hope preachers might wish to purchase it).

But there’s something, I think – I hope – something else.

Until the route becomes clear, O Great Belayer, please hold tight to the rope. And feel free to make a suggestion about where to put my hands next.

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*You may read it here, and if you came here because you read it there, welcome!

Ministry, The Inner Landscape, Writing

She sat down next to me

My office at Starbucks.
My office at Starbucks.

She sat down next to me at the Starbucks soon after the mother and son left, a woman in her late 50s, with carefully coiffed and well-dyed short hair, proper makeup and lipstick. Almost immediately she asked about my tablet and keyboard set-up, explaining that she is looking for something and needs a portable workstation for writing. We discussed iPads, and I demonstrated my Origami workstation and showed off my favorite composition app, Write2.

When I asked her subject, she told me her story. She is a minister’s wife, and after 35 years in the parish, her husband is now director of a ministry school associated with a well-known (in her world) evangelist. Travel has opened their world, and she wants to carry her work along. She is writing about putting the fun in dysfunctional relationships and parenting a strong-willed child.

I can only imagine how these topics came to her.

It struck me how different and yet alike our worlds are. She has lost her day-to-day ministry, expected in the church world familiar to her. She counseled other women, for instance, something I would never be expected to do formally in my wife’s congregation. We have credentials and boundaries and authorizations. She has life experience (clearly!); the only credential she needs is being married to her husband. The ministry he serves has it’s own publishing arm, so once the big fish approves, her work will appear in print.

And yet we’re both fifty-something and living through a tremendous life change and adapting to a new environment because of our spouses’ careers. We’re both writers. We’re both hoping to somehow show care for others through the ministry of the small-w word.

She spoke with enthusiasm about the ideas she has, and here’s what stayed with me: “I have been working on one idea, and then last week, He dropped this other idea into my head.”

Sometimes I wonder if I work too hard at figuring these things out.

When I got home and read the comments on yesterday’s blog post, here and on Facebook, they included the following, “This is the beginning of a book – for people who can’t put what they feel into words!”

Okay, dear God. I’m listening now.

Challenge accepted.