Sabbath Monday: A Week in the Life

I lead a pretty ordinary life.

I get up, go to work, come home. Sometimes there are evening church meetings. Sometimes gatherings with friends. Sometimes I treat myself to a movie. Sometimes family time.

But mostly my week consists of just me.

Unlike many, I don’t have a daily routine. I don’t have a routine with children or a husband.

Ok, maybe I do have a routine. Sort of.

But every morning is different – Some mornings I get up early to read or do the dishes. Some mornings I “sleep in”. Some mornings I make lunch to take with me, other days I come home for lunch.

Every work day is different too. Ministry is all about the unexpected.

My average week sometimes turns out not so average for whatever reason – a random get together or multiple runs to the store.

A week in the life of me is often typical and also not so typical.

Though it is my story to share. My story matters.

This week I’m embarking on a Week in the Life with Ali Edwards. (I’m also currently in the middle of the One Little Word project with Ali as well.)

Week in the Life is exactly what it sounds like – A week in my life, documenting the daily doings of where I go, what I do, what I eat, who I meet, etc… Though the project is also more than that. It’s looking at things in your daily life differently. Like, noticing the sun blazing through your picture window and casting shadows on the wall.

This is my first year doing this project and I’m super pumped.

Last week I organized my book and supplies, taking notes and reading Ali’s blog for inspiration. This has helped me figure out what I wanted to do with this project.

Ali is doing her project this week, April 17-23, and I decided to do it along with her. With some minor edits.

I started yesterday, April 16, Easter Sunday. I chose to start then because though that day isn’t super ordinary, it is a special day in my life. I am a pastor after all. Plus, my family is the center of my life. I may go weeks without seeing my sister and her family but they are important to me and part of my life story. I wanted to document that particular family time.

Also, this is likely the last Easter with my Grandmother. Her transition to eternal life has been the focus of our family for a while now and a focus in my life. I may not see her every day but I talk to Mom about how Grandma’s doing sometimes in the week. And she’s in my daily prayers. I wanted to capture these last moments I have with her.

This week after Easter is super busy and a bit out of the ordinary. But whatever. I wanted to capture it.

My schedule changes daily sometimes. Meetings pop up, plans to meet friends for dinner come up. Last week as I prepared and planned for this week’s Week in the Life documenting, my calendar started to fill up. And you know what? That’s not unheard of so I’m rolling with it. It’s not unheard of for me to have a youth event on a Saturday night or book group or church meetings. Why not capture those sort of out-of-the-ordinary moments? Those moments make us who we are, they often define us. Why not capture and document them?

I started printing pictures this evening. I started laying out my book and figuring out what to do where. I’m using Dad’s professional like camera and I’m super excited. Bummed my little snap and shoot has issues but love the idea of playing with lens and angles. I feel so professional! LOL

Mondays are pretty blah since I’m usually home cleaning or resting. Today was about the same. I slept in and watched TV. I cleaned. But while I did this weekly routine I set the timer on the camera and took pictures. Pictures of me cleaning the bathroom, the sun on my plants in my window sill. Pictures of eating dinner and the outside of my apartment building.

I’ve spent most of the evening sorting pictures and printing. Realized I need ink for the printer and more photo paper, so I see a Target run tomorrow.

It’s interesting to be documenting the daily things I do each day or the sort of daily things I do every day. I look forward to taking a ton of pictures this week and documenting the things in my life – some I do daily and some I do occasionally.

But all make up my life story. It’s a story to be told and shared.

Like all of our stories.





Sabbath Monday: Palm Sunday & Start of Holy Week

20160320_084648.jpgSunday was Palm Sunday. It’s the one day during Lent that the church is joyful with palm branches waving, ‘Hosanna’s’ ringing, talks of donkeys. The one day in an other wise dark season that there is a bit of light.

In church we waved palm branches and sang. The children and I paraded around the sanctuary.

I brought palms home to Mom, Grandma and my aunt. Grandma’s face lit up when I gave them to her. (I love seeing those moments of pure joy on her face, something I experienced as a child but really have embraced over the last few months.) And now my dining room table looks as if it has a tree growing from it because the rest of the palms I put into a vase on the table.

A great reminder of the beginning of Holy Week.

And the shadow that’s looming.

As Christians we know what’s to come later in the week.

Sunday the focus was on Jesus and his arrival into Jerusalem.

There was a meme going around Facebook with a picture of Jesus on a donkey and the title, “The party don’t start till I walk in,” a nod to Kesha’s song, Tik Tok, from a few years ago.

It’s true though: on Palm Sunday the party doesn’t start until Jesus walks in.

Pictures and movies I don’t think grasp the pure giganticness of that parade into Jerusalem. I’ve been to some pretty big parades in my life and nothing compares to what I envision that Palm Sunday thousands of years ago to be in my head.

First, Jerusalem was already swelling from the number of people in the city. The Feast of Passover brought Jews from all over to the city for worship and observance of Passover. Then add Jesus’ followers, who numbered (in my opinion) into the thousands as well. The Gospels tell us about the 12 Disciples and Mary Magdalene but I’m guessing Jesus had more followers than that after word spread about what he could do and what he was preaching.

Second, Rome was watching. The Pharisees and Sadducees, the Jewish priests, were watching. And, shocker, they weren’t happy. The crowds were getting out of hand. They were loud. Caiaphas (a Jewish high priest) sings it best in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar:

“Tell the rabble to be quiet,
We anticipate a riot.
This common crowd,
Is much too loud.
Tell the mob who sing your song,
That they are fools and they are wrong.
They are a curse.
They should disperse.”

Later Jesus replies with a (rather pompous) reply about why wasting your breathe to calm them, there’s no point since the noise would continue even if everyone were still. I realized in the car yesterday that Jesus is referring to a Psalm that says even the stones and rocks sing praise to God. Or at least it seems like a Psalm.  And ok, maybe Jesus was a little full of himself. Maybe he was simply enjoying this moment, the good before the end. (Keep in mind, JC Superstar is an interpretation of Christ’s passion so…there you go.)

Thirdly, this grand entrance of Jesus was something a king or a Roman emperor would have, not some lowly Jew who claimed he was God. To prove he wasn’t a king (or at least not like a king – king, like Herod), Jesus came in on a donkey, not a horse. Kings would ride into towns on horses. Donkeys are small and ugly. Their nickname is ass – need I say more? Point made Jesus.

Finally, Palm Sunday kicks off a week of events – Holy Week:  the money changers in the Temple and angry Jesus flipping tables, the Last Supper, Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples, Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, Jesus’ arrest and trial, and eventual crucifixion and resurrection. Some scholars suggest this didn’t take place in one week but over a few weeks. I’m not sure of that, not that those details disrupt my faith in anyway.

However, Palm Sunday sets in motion the shadow that’s been looming over Jesus’ head for three years, well his whole life actually. It’s almost as if Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem was a trap – the culprit who’s been causing trouble comes to the city where everyone is watching and now those officials have him and probable cause to arrest him.

I wonder sometimes: What was Jesus thinking as he walked with the crowds along those celebratory streets that day?

He had to have known, right? That by entering Jerusalem it meant the end to 33 years of life. He had to have known. I mean, he’s been preaching about the Spirit coming in his absence; he breaks bread and tells his friends that it’s his body, broken for them.

And yet, Jesus is seen praying in the garden, asking God to intervene and to do something, to take this burden away. Jesus’ humanness comes forward in the moment when his divine nature was sent to create a new covenant for the world.

Holy Week, the week of Christ’s Passion story.

It starts out with joy and celebration and ends with tears. Well, up until the stone is rolled away anyway.

It’s a week of raw emotion from the characters in the stories, in Jesus, in us the faithful believers. It’s the central week of our faith.

And it’s a week filled with Hope.

Stay hopeful this week, my friends. God is walking with us on this journey towards the cross and that empty tomb. Listen to the words of Christ and his story with open ears. Remember how the cross connects us with God and with each other. Remember the hope the cross brings – of life eternal, of a resurrected life.




Friday 5: Goo goo g’joob

As a kid growing up, the stereo in the living room was massive, well to my child’s eye it was. And we were only allowed to touch it once we learned how to use it.

I have memories of family dance parties, my mother standing at the dishwasher belting out the female portion of Meatloaf’s  “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” while we picked up. I remember certain albums were for spaghetti nights when Dad cooked and Saturday mornings cleaning the house. I remember my father threatening us with a Rare Earth song while we cleaned (probably because we weren’t listening). And this wasn’t just any Rare Earth song – It was 20+ minutes!

Good memories! (Totally not sarcasm, they are good memories.)

When I finally got my own musical taste and my own CD player, I played Metallica’s black album on repeat, much to the displeasure of my sister with whom I shared a room. Ok, maybe I did it to piss her off (it worked). I remember being kicked out of my room and hooking myself into Dad’s stereo, cranking Enter Sandman as loud as I could handle it via headphones.

Until Dad peeled the headphones off me.

Not to turn it down though. Oh no.  To hell with eardrums.

He came to give me a musical education: Metallica vs. Black Sabbath.

I was unimpressed at the time.

As an adult, and out of  all my siblings, I’m the one who listens to Dad’s music the most. And he and I talk about it. Plus, I’m realizing now that I get a lot of my musical taste from my father, as well as my need for CDs and digital music. (And one day I will own his vinyl. Got that, Dad?)

So it’s no wonder the other night while watching the movie Sing, Dad went: “That’s a Beatles song” out loud, probably because he thought I’d agree.

I didn’t.

So I said, “Prove it.”

Sure enough – off Abbey Road – “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight” – was in the movie. How did I miss that?

Since then I’ve been on a Beatles kick, listening to them off and on this week. Dancing in the car along to  the early stuff, such as “Love Me Do” and “She Loves You.” Listening to the lyrics from “Revolution” and how it so applies to today. Figuring out a way to use “Magical Mystery Tour” in a sermon (it’s totally doable). And completely singing the wrong lyrics to many songs because let’s face it, there are just some words I can’t understand from Lennon or McCartney in their Limey-Liverpoolian accents. Tonight I put in the movie musical Across the Universe, which is about the 60s, Vietnam and set to the Beatles.

My week with the Beatles and this long explanation of words above have led to this – My Friday 5.

My 5 favorite Beatles songs, which is so difficult to nail down. I mean, first there’s a ton. And second, it’s The Beatles.

I mean, come on.

But I do have a few Go-To songs that I listen on repeat so…

Number 1: Hard Days Night – the album. See, I can’t pick just one. Though “If I Fell” is up there. And “Happy Just to Dance with You.” I remember watching the film as a child and loved Lennon’s humor. (And feeling sad for Ringo).

Number 2: “In My Life” from Rubber Soul – I cry…every….damn…time.

Number 3: “Here Comes the Sun” from Abbey Road – That simple opening with the guitar…Love! It’s so beautiful. And it’s gotten me through some tough times. I love that album too.

Number 4: “All You Need is Love” from Magical Mystery Tour – It’s like the best peace rallying cry song ever. It’s what I imagine Jesus would sing if rock-n-roll existed in ancient times.

Number 5: “I Am The Walrus” from Magical Mystery Tour – I LOVE this song. Like, hit repeat kind of love. First, have you listened to the lyrics? It’s super silly and yet totally spot-on. Second, ok yes, they were totally stoned out when they wrote it, I mean, eggman, what is that? Walrus makes no sense but whatever. Third, Ringo had “Octopus’ Garden” which is plain dumb if you ask me. Lennon can totally have Walrus. Wasn’t this the song he wrote in reply to folks who said they couldn’t understand his lyrics and they were evil or something?  I can’t remember.

My sorority pledge class had to pick a motto. Someone suggested the opening line of Walrus, but with she’s instead of he’s. So it was “I am she as you are she as you are me and we are all together.” Walrus has meaning for me. (And seriously – what an opening line? Love!)

There you have it – My top 5 Go-To Beatles songs. Songs I crank up loud in the car or at home. True, I’m missing a ton of others. “Help!” and “Sgt. Pepper” and “Lucy” and, “Eight Days A Week” and, and…I’m realizing I like a lot of later Beatles.

I love how much music has shaped my life. And how many music memories I have with my family. Such good memories to carry with me.

And yes, Dad influenced me the most in terms of my musical tastes. But to hear Mom say “I Love this song!” when Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” or AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” (and ok, perhaps some Backstreet Boys too) come on is pretty awesome too.

Thanks Mom and Dad for the memories.

Goo goo g’joob, Everyone.







Misc. Wednesday: Hope

Lately, I’ve been reminded of a scene from the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar,  where Jesus is completely overwhelmed, screaming things like, “Slow down!” and “There’s too many of you!” at the lame, blind and sick who wish to be healed. Or another scene where he’s in the garden praying while his disciples sleep off dinner. Jesus is scared and seen begging to God to not allow him to die, completely overwhelmed by emotion.

I’m reminded of those images because I can relate. Not that I’m trying to heal people or anything like that but I understand the feelings Jesus is going through. Jesus is coping with feelings about figuring out that he probably cannot heal everyone who comes to him and angry because God let him down.

Jesus, up until that point, has done everything God has asked of him – he’s gone and preached radical words about hospitality and love, he’s traveled and made “fishers of people,” he’s tried to spread the message of hope and God’s grace to any and all who would listen. And yet toward the end, the disciples abandon him; he’s left scared and alone and filled with this sense of, I don’t know, it’s not failure necessarily but perhaps it’s this feeling of “I tried and look where it got me.”

My reading and understanding the humanness of Jesus could possibly be something I’m reading into the story. Though maybe not. Maybe Jesus did feel all of those emotions, which allow me to relate to him because there are times where I feel totally and completely at a loss, where I feel overwhelmed and scared and left on my own island. I cry and scream and do what I need to do to feel better but the sense of let down and loss gets to be too much sometimes.

I don’t like letting people down. I don’t like feeling hopeless. And yet, life can do that. Work can do that. And in a society that promotes success and frowns on failure, it can be even harder to swallow and take in. It’s hard to hear you’re out of options and there’s nothing more you can do. You’ve tried and the outcome might not be grand but you’ve tried. Shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t that be the hope?

Jesus might not have felt like a failure or out of hope. The Gospels don’t tell us that. The writers didn’t want to make Jesus anything less than perfect, remember. However, in my mind, he might have felt that way. He was human and the countless number of people who came to him for help in whatever form probably exceeded what was written about in the Gospels. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus felt as if he let people down. And towards the end, that night in the garden, I wouldn’t be shocked if he felt hopeless, knowing his life was to end and thoughts about not reaching everyone crossed his mind.

Sometimes in life we try our best, we embrace the storm and do what we can. Sometimes in life people fail us or we fail ourselves. Sometimes life leaves us feeling hopeless. And it hurts and it’s ugly and scary.

However, the hope is that there are people and experiences that can give us comfort, peace, grace, forgiveness, and a lifting up. Sometimes there are people who remind us of all that is good and that there is this sense of love that surrounds us. Sometimes the hope is the thought of resurrection and new hope and new life. Sometimes hope shows up in ways unexpected, to show us that trying and doing our best is in fact good enough. Sometimes it’s our faith that gets us through.

As we head into Holy Week and Easter, I pray that wherever any of us are on our journeys of life and faith leads to hope. I pray that when life gets rough for whatever circumstance, we are reminded of love and hope and know that even if we feel alone, we are not. God may seem light-years away but God travels with us everywhere. I have hard time believing that recently, but it’s true. God is never too far from us.

Peace, Amanda

(from the church April 2017 newsletter)