postcards from sabbatical – week 13

postcards from sabbatical – week 13

Dear Faith Friends, This past week has felt quite indulgent.  I had a chance, during the sabbatical, to think about what I enjoy doing and would like to spend more time at. I came up with baking. So much of ministry has a non-tangible outcome.  Baking is a chance to be creative, have a product and feed someone! Problem is…just when I have time to bake, I don’t have a congregation to feed.  So, I got creative about that, too. I baked for people in the neighborhood (finally paying them back for their “welcome pies”.)  I baked for people moving into a new home.  I baked for my mother’s nursing staff.  Next up, I’m baking for Faith staff. I’m not a very good baker.  Any success I have in cooking or baking isn’t from skill or technique.  My only talent is that I am good at reading recipes and recommendations.  If you start with the right directions, it’s bound to turn out well. Thanks be to God, that’s true of our lives as Christians, as well as cooks. Blessings for the journey, Charlotte Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.  Saving is all God’s idea and Christ’s work….It’s God’s gift from start to finish.  – Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2....
postcards from sabbatical – week 12

postcards from sabbatical – week 12

Dear Faith Friends, I am back in Indianapolis for four weeks, before I am back at Faith.  It is filled with a unique kind of anticipation. This week, writing the first draft of our Community Ministry Grant proposal. For several years, Faith has diligently explored and talked with community leaders about the resources and needs they see, to discern how our congregation is to connect with the community.  Just about the time that we were gaining clarity on a vision of our calling and wondering about how to proceed, Center for Congregations announced a matching grant program for congregations ready to explore mutual ministry with their community.  It sounded like a perfect match for us. We’ve learned a lot from the year-long process with Center for Congregations, as well as experiencing some frustration as we have been a bit a head of the curve in planning.  Still, the support and experience they offer, plus the possibility of shared funding has made the extra process worthwhile. To be honest, writing the grant wasn’t that hard.  We’ve have done a lot of hard work already.  Or maybe we have let the Spirit of Jesus Christ do a lot of hard work among us. I come back to Indy with renewed energy and excitement about what we are called to do with and for our neighbors. Blessings for the journey, Charlotte It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  Long before we first hear of Christ and got our hopes us, he had his eyes on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of...
postcards from sabbatical – week 11

postcards from sabbatical – week 11

Dear Faith Friends, Trail Ridge Road runs straight through Rocky Mountain National Park.  It gets you high and it gets you high quickly.  Before you even reach the Continental Divide a sign tells you that you are two miles above sea level.  You haven’t gotten out of the car and you are already out of breath. Trail Ridge Road will take you even higher.  You can walk straight out of your car onto Alpine Tundra.  They say that driving the three hours from the high plains of Colorado to the top of Trail Ridge Road is like driving from Mexico to the Arctic Circle.  The tundra is a desert, where – despite large snow falls – only small amounts of moisture seep into the ground.  Plants and animals have evolved and adapted to the treacherous temperatures and wind speeds.  It has made flora and fauna creative, hardy and fragile.  A plant may bloom only once a decade.  Animals have about two months to gather food or get off the mountain. The air is thin.  I must hike slowly.  I must take my time.  I must be prepared with water, nourishment and adequate safety measures. I must watch ever step over boulders and stones, across tender plants. I am rewarded.  With astounding views.  With animals who are as curious about me as I am of them.  With delicate plants in bloom.  With bright sunshine. With enormous billowing clouds.  With occasional friendly human companions.  With the presence of God.  With time in God’s time. This is truly a thin place for me. My soul is being restored in places I did not...
postcards from sabbatical – week 10

postcards from sabbatical – week 10

Dear Faith Friends, What a gift it is to be in the high mountains.  I love the rolling hills of Indianapolis and the flat, sprawling plains of the Midwest.  But, oh, what a delight it is to be where the air is thin, the sky is vast, and even the trees fall away to make way for the wind! My daughters and I had time to hike.  We went on familiar paths that are ancient and new every time. (Husband and dog stayed back at the cabin.) Then one daughter flew off to Seattle for a five-week internship, and the other took my husband back to Indianapolis to prepare for her senior year of high school and final year of basketball. Now, I am alone. It is surprising how disorienting it is.  I make so many decisions in response to others: when I wake up, so my devotions are in quietness; where we eat; what I cook; which hike to take; how fast and far to go. Then, I become aware of other expectations and perceptions which skew my decisions and mood.  Am I hiking as high as another hiker?  Does the church expect me to be working harder? Why are my pictures not as amazing as someone else’s? Apparently, I need this time to be alone with God.  I need to shed what is false, to be unencumbered of expectations which are not divine, to let go of presumptions and find my soul.  I want my focus to be what God wants me to do with my time and where God wants my effort to be.  I want God’s expectations alone to...
postcards from sabbatical – week 9

postcards from sabbatical – week 9

Dear Faith Friends, All five members of the family (husband, two daughters, the dog, me) made a very familiar drive from Indianapolis to Grand Lake, CO.  The second year Gene and I were married, we bought a cabin about the size of my office at Faith that’s half a mile outside Rocky Mountain National Park.  I grew up in the Canadian and American Rockies (in Calgary, Alberta and Golden, Colorado) and now our girls have grown up as mountain children, too. Having the cabin has meant our family hasn’t traveled as widely for vacations as some families. (It’s one of the reasons that our trip to Greece was so extraordinary.)  It has given a second home to all of us.  We just start down the road to the cabin and the mountains and we are already on vacation.  No need to settle in, figure out our way around, or learn what there is to do.  It’s instant restoration. That’s a good thing, this year because most of the family won’t get much time here.  The eldest daughter has a five-week internship in community housing development in Seattle and the youngest needs to get ready for her senior year of high school and last year of basketball. But, just being here is a touchstone for us. A reset button.  A spiritual renewal.  The ruggedness, majesty and oxygen depletion of this place sets us right, makes sure we keep the right perspective.  We live in particular amazing place of God’s making, are close to one another day and night, live simply, and spend more time outside than inside.  We walk and watch and...