cheating death

Paul Restaurant

Restaurant. Airport.

Fear.

The kind that grips you by the throat and squeezes until your chest breaks open just to see you squirm. The kind that steals the bliss of sleep, the joy of laughter, the promise of life, the adventure from the journey. I know that fear. He has been a sneaky companion.

Senseless, perhaps, but this fear is real every time my feet leave terra firma. Quote statistics, show me aviation’s data, explain aeronautic lift; my heart pumps with escape adrenaline until the plane lands. I am the dorky passenger in the back that claps when the wheels touch. I really do. I send a text to Jay, cheated death again. He laughs but I am only half kidding.

And as this metal bird tips me over La Ville de Lumiere tonight, I catch my breath, wishing I was free to appreciate the exquisite beauty instead of gasping for air. Fear is a calculating thief. Continue reading

don’t talk to me about women pastors

lexi_lydia

Sister Moments.

‘It is a universally acknowledged truth that a single man in possession of a good fortune is in want of a wife.’ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

It is 8:40 in the evening and I steal into our little entryway at the end of Almond Tree Lane. I plug in the heater, take out my Bible, arrange the computer, light a candle for atmosphere and wait. Behind the door that I have just closed, I can hear girl giggles at the antics of their new puppy mix with their daddy’s masculine tones. The time is almost near.

This inconspicuous interview, sandwiched in between the homework dash and the laundry crush and the puppy’s training, is the last hurdle between now and being ordained as a minister. It is controversial.

Women as pastors?

Ordain a woman? Continue reading

sanctuary

walls

Transylvania is colorful walls like a crayola palette

The fog is thick here in the hug of the Carpathian mountains. Heavy. Like the snow that charms an inky night with its shushing lullaby to the arctic wind.

On this day, we shepherd an array of children through the mud caked paths that have been loosely coined streets. Slick and chocolatey, our feet fail to keep rhythm with the chatter in a Romanian English puddle of fragmented language. The brightly colored houses beckon from their ancient foundations like children who have been set free with a box of crayolas. One senses wisdom here in this corridor of the village Viscri. Continue reading

train hopping

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Arriving at the Keleti station this morning

10:30. Cold night. Our breath swirls in crystalized, fanciful designs. 

The icy air dances as we glimpse another, colder, harsher world. A conductor rattles into the train station and kicks out a daddy and his children looking for a warm night. I feel helpless. Sad. “Mommy. Where will they go?”

I’ve lived this mommy life long enough to know that I should have an answer. I’ve lived this Eastern European life long enough to know that I don’t. A shrug is impotent to wipe the furrowed brow from my 11 year old’s forehead. It is impotent to change the reality of a daddy and his kids searching for home. Where is their mommy? Continue reading

viscri, romania

A few photos from our beautiful day in Viscri, Romania.

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Construction on this Lutheran church began in 1225 in the German village of Viscri.

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German families volunteered to move to Viscri, Romania in order to make a new life.

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A glimpse into the life of the Saxon villagers.

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A view of the ancient clock tower and cemetery.

 

 

 

from the heart of sighisoara

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The clock tower in the center of the Citadel, Sighisoara

Sighisoara is full of tourists this time of year. Dark haired, Italian beauties leaning against ancient Draculesque walls in paparazzi poses. Germans out for a brisk walk.  The Brits snapping photos. It seems that you can find all of Europe snuggled into the arms of this very old, very quaint, quite unassuming Saxon citadel on the cusp of the new year. And, yes, we took a touristy New Year’s stroll after watching the midnight fireworks display in the shadow of the clock tower. #touristy

But our friend, Oanna, points out that for those who live here, Sighisoara is just ‘home’. That sounds so obvious and yet, her words are simply insightful. You never really know a place by visiting its iconic stops.

And that makes me think about God in this new year.

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On the ancient streets of Sighisoara

Our Book is full of iconic stops in the history of our Christianity. From a garden in Eden to a garden in Gethsemene to a garden in a new, redeemed Earth; these are points where we glimpse the very heart of God. In our creation, in our salvation, and in our redemption; we come to appreciate our worth to the creator and sustainer of all of history. But stopping by to take a photo of these important places is much different than nestling in and making a home.

Do you think that we Christians get lost in the tourism of our journey? What I mean is, reading this amazing narrative of God’s relationship with mankind, from beginning to end, it is just that, a relationship. And regardless of how you read the first three chapters of our Beginning or the last book of our New Understanding, all of us must agree that the pivotal point is relationship. God’s relentless, eternal, uncompromising endeavor to gather us into the safety of his heartbeat. So, if relationship is that important to the one who designed our DNA, it would seem logical to suppose that we are wired for relationship. Relationship with Him. Relationship with each other. Not tourism. Incarnation; which is God becoming present with and dwelling with us. The creation of mankind was not simply an iconic stop for God. He came. He dwelt. He lived amongst us. Do we endeavor to live, truly live, to nestle, to build our home in Him?

Sighi_rooftops

Looking over the city of Sighisoara.

Nestled into the quietly pleasant goodness of Oanna and Relu’s home last night, it is easy to see that there is something that surpasses culture and language. With 6 girls snuggled onto a couch watching a princess and singing along, over warm bowls of Romanian Chorba (traditional Romanian meatball soup), the heart of a pastor, the ache of parenting, the challenges of ministry, the grind of daily living, the relentlessness of cold winters and hot summers are common denominators in our human sojourn. And, the Eastern European understanding of relationship brings me so much closer to the heart of God.

To talk of God, to delve deeper than tourism in Sighisoara is to understand that relationship with God always means missioning. By that, I mean that we cannot fully understand the iconic stops in our Book without recognizing that our Creator and our Sustainer is always relational and always missional. He is always coming to us. He is always pursuing us. He is always moving toward us. He is always making a way for us. There is always, within the heart and the being of God, a constant motion toward us, His creation. And, if I could be bold for a moment, I would propose that He inserted that same DNA into us. He calls us to Himself and he sends us to others. Constantly. If we are to understand this dynamic properly, it means that we live our lives poured out for others. Relationally. Missionally. In God’s perfect plan, there are no iconic stops. There is no tourism. There is life. Abundant. Warm. Rich. Peaceful. Honest. Welcoming. Just like Roberta’s kitchen in Sighisoara on a cold January morning.

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Fireworks in the heart of the citadel. 2014

It is one of the reasons we like to come to the Citadel in the winter. Chances are good that sometime tucked in between the cornbread and the clanging of the church bell, we can get Roberta talking. We will hear her stories about outer space and science, and astronauts, and moon dust in Arkansas accents. It is a great conversation to have with Roberta, if you ever get a chance to taste her cornbread. But above all else, one has the feeling that God is honored here, not as a guest but as the host.

keyhole view

A view from the ruins

The morning sun is spreading its warmth across the terra-cotta roofs and the city, residents and tourists alike, are waking up. Funny thing, it seems that here on the Citadel, everybody knows Dorothy and Roberta, two women, one from Arkansas and one from Edinburgh, who made their home here in the heart of the Citadel in order to serve the people of Sighisoara.

Thank you, ladies, for your living example of incarnation.