“Heritage Sunday calls the Church to remember the past by committing itself to the continuing call of God.”

Confession: None of our house grew up in the Methodist church. We grew up in church, but our first exposure to the Methodist Church was when we came to KFUMC 6 or 7 years ago. It seems we still learn new things regularly about the the traditions of the Methodist church. Heritage Sunday is no different. But this month it feels like a God wink that my assigned day to write for you falls between two Methodist Church traditions that are new to us: Confirmation and Heritage Sunday.

This past Sunday, our sweet girl was confirmed. When we came to the church, our son had just missed Confirmation for his age group. Going through this with her was a learning experience for all of us.

Confirmation and her baptism caused much reflection for me in this last week. Reflection on our faith heritage and how that has shaped us all.

When my grandmother was a little girl, her grandmother suffered from debilitating varicose veins. Her family was an active part of the Catholic Church at the time. One day my grandmother’s grandmother was walking past a tent revival being held by a pentecostal church and she was drawn in. That day her varicose veins were healed and my grandmother’s family joined that pentecostal church. That lead to her family becoming part of a San Antonio church that 6 generations of my family attended. That heritage, that firm foundation has led us to where we are today…watching our girl publicly profess her faith through the act of baptism.

I remember my past, my family’s past…our heritage. And have a greater commitment to that continuing call of God as I see both of my kiddos living out their faith walks. I remember my own baptism, around the same age my daughter is now. I remember my son’s baptism when he was in elementary school. I think of the joy my grandparents would feel seeing their great grandkids stepping out in faith. I’m thankful for a heritage that is rooted in Christ. I’m thankful for a church helps make my kiddos’ faith their own. I’m thankful for those who went before me and paved the way for me to walk in faith. I’m thankful for heritage.

He is Risen! Now what?

Resurrection Sunday. It’s probably the most significant holiday in the Christian faith. After 3 days, Jesus emerged from the tomb with the ultimate victory over sin, hell and the grave. A victory that is ours.

Christians walk out of church on Easter Sunday feeling renewed, excited, hopeful. Maybe even a little more committed to making a relationship with a risen Jesus a higher priority. But then Sunday ends.

It seems that by Monday morning, for many of us, the real world creeps back in with that Monday morning alarm and we go back to our life. Maybe we woke up in time to read our Bible. Maybe we turned on worship music instead of our normal morning news or radio show. Maybe we prayed with our spouse or kids before everyone was out the door. But did we stick with it on Tuesday?

Here’s the thing. He’s still risen. That tomb is still empty. But sometimes without the fanfare of Easter we can let life allow us to forget that we live in the resurrection every day. When the day is great and all goes well, He’s still risen. When nothing goes our way and it seems that the grave has won, He’s still risen.

As someone who may as well have been born in the church pew, I’m so guilty of feeling ALL OF THE FEELINGS on Easter. Then starting my week like I didn’t just have a beautiful reminder of what Jesus did for me. This week since Easter, I’ve thought a lot about how different my every day would be if I approached it like the day has already been won. Because it has. Even the bad days, the hard days, the fall apart days. They’ve been won. The resurrection has promised that. That problem that seems to have no solution. That diagnosis that seems insurmountable. That dream that seems so deferred. Those hurdles that seem to slow the journey down while working towards a goal. All of is has been won by the resurrection.

Keeping that perspective doesn’t suddenly make the hard become easy. It doesn’t remove the pain life can bring. But it can bring peace in the midst of a storm. It can bring that little bit of added strength to face the next day. And it can bring a deeper joy when we see the battle won.

So, He is risen! Now what? Now I’ll work to see my day through the perspective of the resurrection each day. I won’t do it perfectly. I’ll have days where I forget that I’m already living from the position of victory. But hopefully, as I try to be intentional about focusing my perspective towards the empty tomb, those days will be fewer and further between. Because He is risen indeed.

From Weariness to Hope | Lent 2022

As I’ve thought and prayed about what I would write for our Voices of Laity this lenten season, I’ve continued to come back to the thought of hope. Lent culminates in the Resurrection. What greater hope?!

But hope doesn’t come without weariness and struggle. When all is going well and as planned, we don’t lean much on hope. We don’t speak much of hope. But when we’re weary and discouraged, we look for hope like a life preserver to keep our head above water in the storm.

I’ve learned some lessons in hope from my daughter in this last year. Isn’t it an ironic thing that God gives us these amazing creations to raise and teach, but they end up teaching us so much?

Weariness and discouragement hit us all. There’s none of us immune. But what do we do in the middle of the weariness to help us get to hope? Here’s what my girl has taught me.

Through her 7th grade year, it seemed that every effort she made to improve and participate in her favorite sports was met by an obstacle that pushed her further back. School volleyball season saw some injuries that kept her from getting on the court. School track season saw countless frustrations that kept her from ever getting on that track. So many tears, so much frustration, some angry moments. Lots of questioning, lots of wondering if it was worth it to keep trying.

But then the first glimpse of hope. Her 13’s club volleyball season. She cried on the way to tryouts because she didn’t think she was good enough to make a team. But she went. And she made a team. She had a coach and a team that believed in her and helped her grow.

Fast forward to her 8th grade year and she found more playing time on her school volleyball team. And had a coach who pushed her HARD to try new positions on the court. She was terrified. But she did it. And grew. 14’s club season has been a continuation of the growth. Coaches that see her potential and believe in her ability, that still push her to be better. Hope realized.

But 8th grade track. She worked so hard. She wanted to earn a spot on that track this year. Her practices were phenomenal. But the practice meet for spots on the team just didn’t go well. Leaving that meet, she was sad and discouraged. At time for the first meet, she wasn’t on the roster. She text me from school sad and defeated, feeling that 8th grade would be a repeat of 7th grade track. But she still went into that practice, knowing she wasn’t competing, and put her best effort on the track. That afternoon I got my favorite email of the school year. Her track coach emailed me and told me that they’ve seen the effort. They’ve seen the work she’s put in. They wanted to give her a chance to compete. They changed the roster and put her in 2 events for the first meet. To say our house was over the moon is an understatement. Hope! But then a lovely winter storm cancelled that meet. Hope deferred. Another week of practice and she finally took the track. And has improved week over week with hard work and determination. Last night we saw the fruit of that. She qualified for District in her 2 events. Hope realized.

While I’m a proud mama, this isn’t about bragging about her accomplishments (but I’m happy to do that if you want to chat!). This is about what brought here here. She was weary. She was discouraged. She was sad. She was hopeless. There were a few times that she thought about giving up. But she didn’t. In the hardest moments, she didn’t quit. She kept working. She stayed disciplined. She stayed focused. Every glimpse of hope she was given, she latched onto and used it to push her forward. When a new setback came, she just clung to the hope. Until the hope was realized.

Our lives will always throw curveballs our way that cause us to grow weary. We will have days where we feel hopeless. We’ll have days that we wonder where God is in the mess. And maybe even wonder if it’s worth it to keep moving forward in whatever it is. Hope rarely just shows up on its own. Hope often is the reward for our discipline in staying faithful to what we know of God and His faithfulness to us. When life is hard and we wonder where God is, when we don’t see Him or hear Him or feel him. That’s when we have to dig in. That’s when we have make the decision to either stay where we are in the hard, or do the hard work of practicing our faith until we get the glimpse of hope. Then grab onto that for dear life until we see our hope realized.

I’m proud of what my girl has accomplished. But I’m more proud of her discipline, commitment and determination to move from weariness to hope. I’m more proud that she didn’t give up when that would have been so much easier. Are you weary? Don’t give up. What’s the one thing you can do today to move you towards hope? Turn off the tv and turn on some worship music. Reach out for the encouraging voice of a friend instead of the discouraging voice of the enemy in your head. Close that book you’re reading and open your Bible or a devotional. Put down the phone and talk to the Father who is so ready to meet you where you are. There is hope.

The Depths of Loss

Sitting down to write today for our church newsletter, I had a different plan. But as with most things we plan, God has shifted my direction.

In the last weeks our community has endured tremendous, unexpected, painful loss. The kind you’re never prepared for. The kind that knocks the breath right out of your lungs and makes you feel like solid footing is nowhere in sight.

If I’m being honest, it’s also the kind that can make you question where God is in all of it. Again, if I’m being honest, I’ve sat here this morning asking God that very question. And his soft answer to my questioning: “Here”.

This world doesn’t offer a softer landing for those that choose Jesus. We don’t get some magical protection that keeps the bad from happening. And sometimes, in the hardest times, the thread that we cling to is that God is here. Not to make sense of it all. Because sometimes you just can’t. Not sweep the hurt and pain away. Because those don’t just disappear.

God is here in the hope we have in our grief. When we lose someone who follows Jesus, the hope of that heavenly reunion is the greatest hope we can have. God is here in peace that just doesn’t make sense when all we see around us is ashes. God is here in the family, friends and community that show up and circle the wagons and make sure you know you’re not alone.

It’s a struggle to find God in the depths of tragedy when the only way I’m looking for him is to just take the tragedy away. But if I’m honest, God is here. He’s here in His people who become Jesus with skin on when the world gets turned on its ear. He’s not only here, He’s close. When our hearts are overwhelmed, lead us to the cross.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18

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