Friday, August 31, 2012

dog days of summer.

 The dog days of summer are here...

I've been finding myself anxious for the Fall- both excited and nervous.  I'm excited for the weather to change, for Fall colors, crisp air, and, let's face it, the option of wearing pants!  It's too hot for pants right now.  I'm also excited for everyone to come back to church in full force.  It'll be fun to see choirs, kids, Sunday school, mid-week programming all back in action!  But, I'm nervous, too.  From September to June, it is just plain busy.  Evening meetings are a source of dread for me, though I'm fine once I get there.  I know I can get it all done, and I trust that it will be fruitful for me and for the people I work with, but man, the post-Labor Day rush is looming over my head.

I took both of these pictures in the last week.  A reminder to enjoy these last few slow days.  The thick, humidity-filled heat actually helps you slow down, sometimes.

This week got me to thinking about time- either wishing it away, or not wanting the next day to come.  I'm experiencing both right now, and while it might be an inevitable feeling, I may need to be better about enjoying each day as it comes- cliche, but true.

I also started considering what God might think about my concept of time.  I don't know that God feels bad for me with my ramped up schedule, but there's something to be said about interpreting our busy-ness.  Do we see our vocations, our busy lives, our responsibilities as a gift? as a call?  Or, are they simply days filled with work until a sabbath day when we can relax and "really" do what we want?

Don't get me wrong, sabbath is important- it's good to do nothing, to worship, etc.  Everyone needs a day off.

But, more often than not, we're always thinking ahead, planning for the next thing, organizing our lives with calendars, alarms on our phone, bulletin boards and elaborate file systems (okay, I don't file).  And because none of this is going away any time soon, maybe I need to reframe.

This text from John surprised me in a way I wasn't expecting.  It's sort of a scary passage, actually, because Jesus had to be careful for fear of being killed.  In it he talks about time, though time for Jesus was based on one thing- when he was going to die, and what he could do between the present, and that future day, to tell people about God.  This part from John 7 reads:

His brothers said, "Why don't you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do?  No one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes. If you're serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world."  His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn't believe in him either.  Jesus came back at them, "Don't crowd me. This isn't my time. It's your time - it's always your time; you have nothing to lose." 

The disciples were pressuring Jesus, trying to get him to do things to convince them, and others, that he was the Son of God.  They even threatened him a bit by telling him that no one who wants to get things done does it in secret!  But, Jesus told them, look, it's not my time to be the center of attention, it's your time and you have nothing to lose.

I think I need to remember not to put so much pressure on myself to be ready, or on Jesus to show up.  The church year will begin whether I get everything done in time, or not.  And Summer will turn into Fall whether I want it to, or not.  And, Jesus will be present throughout it all whether I trust him to, or not.  It's always time for me to love what I do, to enjoy the people around me, to see emails and meetings and busyness as a gift, because if I do it that way, then I have nothing to lose.    

I'm sure there's going to be crazy days ahead, as there were for the disciples, and Jesus, too.  But, if I think about the precious short time they got to spend together, and think about my own life that way, I gain a whole new perspective.

The words below are from Psalm 90, in the paraphrase of The Message.  I'll use them as my prayer for the next few weeks, and maybe you will, too:

We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard.  Who can make sense of such rage, such anger against the very ones who fear you?  Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!  Come back, God - how long do we have to wait? - and treat your servants with kindness for a change.  Surprise us with love at daybreak; then we'll skip and dance all the day long.  Make up for the bad times with some good times; we've seen enough evil to last a lifetime.  Let your servants see what you're best at - the ways you rule and bless your children.  And let the loveliness of our Lord, our God, rest on us, confirming the work that we do. Oh, yes. Affirm the work that we do!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

dutch delft wedding.

A little bit of a wedding recap for your enjoyment...

I am so happy to share some photos of my sister's wedding from August 11.  It was such a GORGEOUS day in Holland, MI.  We spent the first half of the day picking up the back of Lizzy's dress, like this.

See those balloons going up the railings to the Chapel doors?  I LOVE THEM.  They were huge, and such a fun thing to see bopping around in the wind.

Brook Collier was the photographer- out of Grand Rapids, MI.  She was so relaxed and nice to work with, and even put up with our idea to drive all the way down to the beach after the ceremony!

Love those balloons!!

This is the inside of the newly redone Western Seminary Chapel, and that's my cousin- the Rev. Kate Kooyman, who is the chaplain at Hope College (right next door to Western Seminary).  She officiated the wedding and did such a fabulous job.

Great photo of my mom with two nephews, Joe and Greg DeYoung.  They've gotten taller over the years, and did a beautiful job of ushering at the wedding.

Such a happy couple!

I didn't get any pictures of me with my own husband, nor did I get any of the reception venue.  Hopefully those are still to come from the photographer, Brooke (I'm sure they are!).  

The Scripture I had the privilege to read at my sister's wedding was from Ruth, Chapter 1.  It reads: 

Again they cried openly. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye; but Ruth embraced her and held on.  Naomi said, "Look, your sister-in-law is going back home to live with her own people and gods; go with her."  But Ruth said, "Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried, so help me God—not even death itself is going to come between us!" (The Message paraphrase).

My cousin, Kate, did such a good job of talking about covenant, about God's Hesed.  Here is part of what she wrote: "There’s a word for God’s covenant faithfulness in Hebrew. HESED. Hesed is crazy loyalty. It’s love that costs something. It’s faithfulness that makes no sense. HESED is how the God of Israel loves his people. Over and over, in spite of our failings, this God comes back to the covenant he made and renews it, strengthens it, makes good on it. There is no shadow of turning in HESED. Great is God’s HESED."

I've done a lot of weddings myself, recently, and I am totally in agreement with what Kate was talking about.  The covenant we make in marriage, the promises and vows we say to each other, are really a reflection of the covenant God has made with us, as his people.  Marriage is a beautiful, wonderful, awesome, yet tricky thing, at times.  But, God's love and promises are perfect, never-ending, and constantly being made known to us.  We see it in Ruth, and we see it in Jesus- not even death can come between us and the love of God.  

Depending on what you believe, marriage can have a greater significance on the relationship ladder, but in reality, we are constantly working on all of our relationships- whether it's our spouse we see everyday, or our best friend who lives hundreds of miles away.  It's helpful, at least for me, to remember that my relationship with God will never go away, never be threatened, renegotiated, or lost.  Because of Him, we know how to love others.  

Love you, Lizzy and Daniel!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

laugh with me.

Well, I decided to try my hand at blogging again!

I've tried a few times before with no luck.  The blog world is so big now that I figured no one would care about what I have to say.

But, really, there's so much negative politics, a lot of bad theology, and many bloggers that perpetuate consumerism masked as "design", that I thought "certainly I can contribute something worthwhile to the wider world."

And so, there you have it, folks, my rationale for blogging a blog that will be lifestyle meets practical theology meets art/design (hopefully).

I also think it'll be good to discipline myself to write.  Especially because writing for pleasure isn't something I do very often, and that is sad!  It's such a gift to be able to create in this way.  And if people read it, that's just icing on the cake.

For now, though, I'll leave you with a bit about my blog name.  "So Sarah Laughed" comes from the book of Genesis, chapters 18 and 21.  I won't go into the whole story- many of you know it- but I simply love these verses and try to remember them as often as I can.

Sarah and Abraham were so surprised by God's gift of a son later in life, and so filled with joy, that they named him Isaac, which in Hebrew means "He will laugh" or "God laughs".  In any case, these verses remind me that there is so much surprise, not only in life, but in our vocations, as well.  Life is filled with the unknown and unexpected; just when we think we're done with one transition, we're faced with the next.  And if we're not careful (I'm preaching to myself here, too) we can forget to find joy where there only seems to be newness, strangeness, lostness, etc.

This blog is, I suppose, an effort on my part to practice gratitude, to laugh, to think, to pray, to theologize, to be prophetic (or, at least, work on it), to articulate grace, to seek beauty, to be joyful, to make an offering, and to try and laugh at myself (not a lack of situations to laugh at myself about).

So, bear with me, friends.  I'm about to embark on this vulnerable blogging journey.