May 31, 2011

God Sees Our Potential

Recently, our 26 year old daughter, Anna, who lives and works in Portland, Oregon, realized a couple of dreams. First, she was able to move from her tiny studio apartment to a one bedroom apartment. She is delighted with the extra space and now as she says, "I can have friends over," something she hasn't been able to do for over two years. Second, she purchased a cat. Anna has wanted a cat for a long time, but didn't feel that she had enough room in her studio apartment for a little friend.

Anna told me how she went to the humane society in Portland, looked at a few cats before she finally chose, Edie. Anna said that one little cat came to her immediately, so friendly, licking her face, ready to cuddle. Edie however, was somewhat distant, not eager for any type of interaction. Anna selected Edie over the other cat because, "I saw potential in Edie to become cuddly and ready to play."

I realized that God has the same perspective for each one of us as Anna had choosing Edie. God sees and knows the potential each one of us has to live, grow and serve in God's kingdom. Receiving God's love energizes our efforts to fully become who God created us.

God, thank you for pouring unlimited potential into each of us, your children. As we seek you daily, give us confidence in your presence to realize the potential to become who you wanted us to be. Amen.

Jacquie Reed,
Fishers, Indiana

May 10, 2011

Going on Vacation

Dear Friends, I'll be on vacation for the next couple of weeks. My husband and I are really looking forward to seeing our daughter and her family and celebrating our grandson's second birthday. And naturally I am taking a present for my four year-old granddaughter as well. Then we will head up for my younger daughter's graduation from graduate school. (If you have contacts in New York City, please let me know because she is looking for a job in Human Resources. Her MA is in I/O Psychology--just couldn't resist!)

I hope you have the chance to take some time away as well. It never ceases to amaze me how much fun my husband is and how much we enjoy being together. It is good to get away from the church with all its worries. But then, it will be good to return refreshed.

Happy travelling,

May 9, 2011

Welcoming a New Pastor and Spouse

Mike and I had a unique opportunity Wednesday. We met the new pastor and his wife, Kevin and Joyce. We did not know either one of them as most of Kevin's ministry has been in the southern part of Indiana. They were in Fishers for a few days making arrangements for the home they are building. Mike and I took them to a morning meeting at the church, where they had some time to get to know the staff.

The semi-annual fish/chicken fry also happened to be going on Wednesday evening. So Mike and I decided that if Kevin and Joyce wanted to meet us at 5:00 pm, we would take them to each table and introduce them around. They thought that was a good idea so for an hour and a half, we went from table to table. The four of us didn't sit down until after 7:30.

Mike and I were talking later that evening about how nice it was to let everyone meet Joyce and Kevin. The informal setting allowed Mike to tell stories or relate interesting facts as he made the introductions. I don't know how much Kevin and Joyce will remember, but that is not important. Because they were able to hear remarks like, "We've been praying for you." and "We're excited you are coming." They were able to capture the welcoming spirit of those gathered and to sense the anticipation for new energy and ideas.

How was the experience for me? Well, at times I felt sad as I realized that this is the beginning of the end. I knew that there may not be another chance to see some of these persons, because they attend another service or they may not be able to attend the reception planned for us at the end of June. I heard lots of affirmation and support for Mike's ministry as well as a few comments for myself. And I sense that there is lots of growing that I still need to do before we finally say good-bye. So I am trusting God to care for me and direct my paths.

God, I know that the church will benefit from the new gifts and energy that Kevin and Joyce will bring. I treasure the comments that persons made to Mike and me while we were host and hostess to these new friends. Keep us seeking you at all times. Amen.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

May 6, 2011

No Grave Can Keep Me Down

Have you heard the song, “No Grave Can Keep Me Down.” Actually, I hadn’t until I heard All Things Considered on NPR yesterday. Here is the link, if you want to hear about Claude Ely and his influence on Rock and Roll.

But sometimes being held back can be a good thing.

Here is what holds me back: I just want us all to get along. I want us to be like the Church in Acts, praying and living in one accord. But there is always someone who is negative or who lashes out at innocent people. And as the pastor’s spouse, I can be an easy target.

A couple of years ago, a woman at our church told me how much she enjoyed the Creationist theme park in Kentucky. Wouldn’t I love to go? Having recently convicted myself about honesty, I said, “No.” To which she replied, “Why? You don’t believe in evolution, do you? And you do believe in the Bible, don’t you?”

Actually yes, I do believe in evolution. I was a zoology and chemistry in college. And no, I am not a literalist; but yes, I do believe the Bible, but maybe not “in” the Bible, at least in the same way she does.

Naturally, I didn’t want to offend her and start parsing distinctions that she wouldn’t buy. So I simply said, “No, the theme park is just not something that interests me.” With that, she looked at me like I was un-American, whereby I seized her hesitation and changed the subject. On the whole, I felt like a coward, but one who was at least not un-Christian in her eyes.

In a choice between standing up for my beliefs and putting a relationship at risk, I chose the relationship. Am I happy about what I said? No, I felt like a coward, but at least it didn’t escalate and civility prevailed. I’m not especially proud of my response, but over the years I learned that not all confrontations are worth having.

So I held back. But at a price. Was it worth it? Yes.

There will always be things that hold us back for better and for worse, but nothing can separate us from the love of God, neither life nor death...and you know the rest.

God’s love endures forever.

Grace, Kathy

May 4, 2011

Making a Good Retirement

Mike, my husband, is down to eight weeks until retirement. He is doing much better than I am with the change that is before us. I am really going to miss the people in the congregation. During the past fifteen years, we have grown close to so many families, watching children grow up, get married and then have their own children. Being part of graduations, marriages, baptisms, anniversaries, funerals, and other events that bring meaning to a family have wrapped our hearts in love.

We visited a few churches in our area, but no place seemed to draw us. Maybe we will need to leave our current church before we have energy to invest in another place.

Looking for a new church has also reflected the importance of being a friendly, welcoming church to visitors. A newly created position at church - connection coordinator - began last fall. The young woman hired for this ministry, is aware when visitors attend on Sunday morning. She asks them about their interests and sometimes by the end of the day, she has given their names to the individual concerned with a particular ministry.

One church we attended did connect me with a person in charge of new members. When I told her three different areas of ministry in which I was interested, she forwarded me the three emails she sent to the persons involved. That was a month ago, and I haven't heard anything.

I realize too that I have never had to reach out and find my own path - people always came to me and invited me to various parts of church life.

I was talking recently to a friend at the YMCA whose husband is one of the pastors at a Presbyterian church. Her husband is retiring in two years. Last year, the denomination had a pre-retirement two day retreat. Part of the time was spent dealing with financial aspects of retirement. In addition there were a couple of sessions for pastors and spouses discussing the emotional and spiritual components that retirement will bring.

Although the Indiana Conference has an annual required "Making A Good Move" day and a half program for those moving, there is nothing similar for those retiring. Maybe developing a one day event is something Mike and I can do in retirement.

Needless to say, I need to increase my faith and trust in God for what the future will hold.

God in times of change, help me remember that you are the constant, ever present, ever ready to help. Amen.

Jacquie Reed,
Fishers, Indiana

May 2, 2011

When God Is Silent

Truly we are a blessed people. This morning I awoke to the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. He was an enemy of our country who hurt many innocent people. And while the untimely death of any person is not a cause to celebrate, we are better off as a result. And thanks to the brave team of Seals who risked their lives on our behalf.

So the question is, was God silent for all those years while people earnestly prayed for deliverance? Likewise, was God really silent all those years the Hebrews were enslaved? Is God silent when we go through our dark nights of the soul?

When we go through tough times and look to God for relief or answers that will not come. It could be that God is not silent, but preparing the way. Jesus tells us that God is not like an unrighteous judge, whom we must beg to do the right thing. God is ever present and generous with steadfast loving kindness; God is even prodigal--generous beyond reason.

God comes in the fullness of time. God's time. God is always at work doing new things. Yet, I do not want to diminish our aching for God when we perceive God's distance. God may be present, but we may still grieve, suffer, feel lost and alone--just as Jesus felt on the cross. But resurrection always comes. So have heart, for your heart rests in the sacred heart of God.

Grace, Kathy