What I Learned in 2015

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(inspired by Barbara Sostaita)

In early June of 1993, I recall clearly a conversation with a colleague of mine, Sandra. We had both just finished our first year in full-time ministry serving local churches. While I was a green 26 year old, Sandra could easily have been my mother (or perhaps a young grandmother). Her deceased husband had been a minister for many years, and following his death, she had entered seminary. Even though she was still a “new minister,” she had many years of life experience with churches.
When she asked about my church, I told her it was the church from hell, and I wasn’t sure how I could handle one more year there. She sympathized (as did my other friends from seminary), and then told me her husband always said he learned the most at his truly challenging churches. 22 years later, I still find that I am learning things from that fragile, dysfunctional community I tried so desperately to pastor.
Sandra’s advice never left me.

This past year was certainly been one of the most challenging of my life. If not the most painful, it ties with some other painful years of my existence. It stands to reason that I must have learned a great deal during this past year. I already knew a number of these things, but we always need reminders for some things we learned a while ago. One of my beloved former students wrote a Facebook post about what she had learned this year, so I thought it might be helpful for me to do the same.

What I learned in 2015 –
*My British heritage runs strong, because each day I tell myself to Keep Plodding On. (Or in the words of my dad, Press on Regardless)
*Kids are resilient.
*Every relationship always takes two.
*Close friends don’t always remain close.
*Don’t be afraid to lean on the friends who stick around.
*Charlaine Harris is the best author to read when trying to persevere (well, Diana Gabaldon ties) – and can easily be reread.
*Exercise helps everything.
*Chocolate only helps to a certain extent.
*Age really is just a number.
*Meditation is the key to counteracting worry and fear.
*Invest in waterproof mascara.
*Read every post on www.gofugyourself.com – every day; or find something else that brings a smile to your face at least once a day.
*Sleep 9 hours a night.
*As tough as things are, they really can always be worse.
*Give thanks for the small things throughout the day.
*Spend time at least 4 days a week working towards a dream – even if it’s just 15 minutes.
*Limit time on social media; unfollow people who don’t bring you joy.
*Get rid of items that don’t bring joy (thanks Marie Kondo).
*Listen to your gut.
*Don’t be afraid to be alone.
*Life’s too short to waste time on things or people who don’t bring you joy.
*Be confident – especially when you are uncertain – this goes along with never let them see you sweat.
*Always have the number of a good hairdresser.
*Take fashion advice from your best dressed friend (thanks, Jaqueline).
*Take chances – especially if it puts your stomach in knots.
*Be patient.
*Be open to the possibilities.

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Let’s Dream

            Ever since I was a little girl, my sleep has been filled with dreams. I even remember certain dreams from when I was about 4 or 5 years old. Some dreams have been filled with ordinary occurrences, while others have been the stuff of the most extravagant sci-fi movie. They have run the gamut from gazing at cloud formations while lounging in a mountain meadow to being the side-kick of super-agent/super-hero Roger Federer while he saves the world.

 

            One of the things I have found the most fascinating in the Bible is how it treats dreams. The preponderance of dreams in the Scripture is astounding. And the majority of them are some form of message from God. God is warning the dreamer about upcoming danger, letting them know part of Her plan, helping provide support and encouragement. I do believe God speaks to us through dreams. For many of us in today’s world, our lives are so filled with activities, gadgets, stress and worry that we don’t have our ears open to hear God speaking to us. When we’re asleep, God has a much better chance of getting through.

 

            Today we remember dreams, and how vitally important dreams can be in our lives and in our society. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an ordained minister who knew the Scriptures through and through. He knew a dream from God provided vision and hope for the future. The great sin of our country has been its acceptance of and reliance upon slavery. 150 years after the Civil War, racial divide and discrimination still exist. It unfortunately exists even in the mass segregation of our churches. Throughout the history of our country, so many Christians used the Bible to support slavery, segregation, and racism. I am very thankful for the Christian witnesses, from so many different traditions, who found radically different inspiration from the Bible. The Civil Rights movement was filled with faith leaders, witnesses to the prophetic dreams God offered in the sacred writings.

 

            Each one of us is a child of God, with the light of God shining throughout. Yes, we have very real differences among us. And these differences are to be celebrated. God has gifted each one of us in very different ways, and I pray for the day when we will all have the same dream, despite our many differences – the dream that MLK verbalized for us before I was even born.

 

            Thank God for the dreamers, and thank God for the dreams given us.