Tag Archives: Western Canada

Hard to believe its Friday Again

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I just had the opportunity to spend a few days with ring member St. Casserole. I still remember the first blogpost of hers I read, both its detail and its whimsy, but at the time I had no thought we would ever meet and become friends “in real life,” as they say. Still, I encountered something in her turn of phrase that made me come back again and again, and eventually led to both a trip to her part of the world to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina and to the founding of RevGalBlogPals.

In this week some of us are preaching about a woman who encounters Jesus at the well, please name five encounters in your life leading to unexpected results. They might include learning a new skill, making a friend, falling in love, discerning a call or anything around or far off from those ideas.

  1. In the summer of 2003 I was in my second pastorate and went to the Interprovincial Women’s Conference that the Moravian Church in north America holds every 4 years.  I meet lots of folks at these conferences and many of them seem to know who I am but I feel so bad because often I don’t recall who they are.  Female clergy are almost always being asked to talk or rather listen and offer prayer.  But 2003 brought a different encounter for me.  I met someone who herself was feeling called to ministry and was my age.  We hung out a bunch and I believe I was with her when she received word from home that she had been accepted at Duke divinity School.  I prayed for her often but our paths didn’t really cross again for 5 years when she was asked to be the lay delegate and I the clergy delegate for a consultation that was to be held in Herrnhut Germany.  How elated I was when I found out who would be my traveling companion and together we did travel from Raleigh to London,  London to Prague (where we spent a few days) and then by train and eventually bus from Prague to Herrnhut Germany (our moravian home, so to speak).  But not only did we travel the world together our spirits were united in a friendship that today spans several states.  She’s my biggest supporter when it comes to taking time to care of myself and she helps me help the church see mental illness as something we need to do more than talk about.  She has become one of my dearest friends and without her I can’t imagine my life.  Daily I thank God for text messages, Facebook and other sources of modern technology.
  2. In a similar way I was at a youth convocation while in college and my room-mate and I had no idea who each other was.  She was from  North Carolina and I from Western Canada.  We chatted at night but didn’t really hang out as we travelled in different circles that week.  Fast forward several years and we would almost be room mates again but this time at Moravian Theological Seminary.  Her apartment was on the same floor as my soon to be husband and my first year of marriage my husband often jokes he thought he was married to both of us – as he would often have to kick us out of our apartment so he could go to bed….but we would just pick up bookes and our Pepsis and move on over to her apartment.  Both of us ordained now and we’ve never served any closer than 5 hours from one another but our friendship spans the states as we seek to support one another in ministry, motherhood, and basic day to day issues of juggling husbands, children, congregations, and our personal lives.  I’m blessed beyond measure by her friendship and the knowledge that I know she’s only a call away whenever I need a familar and comforting voice…..the icing on the cake is that she gets being a couple in ministry as her husband to is clergy.  But the cherry on top is that she blessed my life with a God daughter to love and by girly things for.
  3. While serving our second church my husband and I suffered several miscarriages and then infertility.  I carried one baby into my second trimester and ended up having to have a D&E.  I was eaten up over it and had lots of questions.  Normally I could turn to my husband for support but he was grieving also and we were at different places.  I turned to a bishop who I barely knew.  (In the Moravian church a bishops primary function is to be a pastor to the pastors, at that time and currently there were/are no female bishops in the south).   This bishop listened to me as I cried and grieved the loss of children, the longing to be a mother and the wondering of the theological implications of where my babies were.   But he also listened as I wondered if any of the trauma I had suffered as a child had any implications as to why I couldn’t have children – was God punishing me I wondered.  He never judged and has never judged me.  He gently reassured me and reminded me that I am a beloved child of God.  To this day he’s my pastor!  When we moved to the metro Atlanta area and adopted our son, it was he who travelled to baptize him – so that day Joe and I could be mommy and daddy.  It was he who visited me while I was on leave recently and he who visits our littleman when he has been sick and hospitalized.  Why is he an unlikely encounter – because of the trust I have for him!
  4. While in seminary I was also blessed to have a counsellor who later became more of a mentor.  She hugged me when I cried, she guided me through many life transitions – especially from being single to being married.  She listened and when all I could see was darkness she saw the light.  The light of Christ that surrounded me and was within me.  To this day when something significant happens she’s on my list of people to call to ask for prayers, to ask for advice or to simply just listen.
  5. I’m a knitter – not the greatest knitter – but when you are a knitter you find that knitters bound together in ways that are unexplainable.  I’ve got great friends whom I’ve never met but whom I text on a regular basis, I daily interact with a group of knit biters on ravelry that are truly my fiber loving sisters.  While in the Atlanta area I knit with a group of eclectic ladies on Friday nights that I knew had my back if I ever needed them.  We supported one another and helped one another in knitting projects but more importantly in life.  And even in my current setting I’ve got friends that the only reason our paths crossed was our love of yarn and our favorite yarn store.
  6. Okay I have 6 – I would be missing two of the most important people if I didn’t bend the rules just a bit.  My husband, my soul mate, my partner in life and ministry.  It’s he who picks up after me when I’m unable to do so myself.  God richly blessed me that first day of seminary in the first person I met – neither of us knew two years later we would be saying “I do”!  Together we have an 8 year old littleman who reminds us to take time and play, who makes us laugh on a daily basis and is forever keeping us on our toes.
Thanks for a great Friday five (or six), reminds me how blessed I truly am.  Truth be told I could have named five or so more folks whose encounters have impacted my life beyond my wildest imagination.  Thanks be to God for having my path cross with so many amazing men and women!
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Real Relationships

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For a number of years now, I’ve used the worldwide web as a way to maintain old or create new relationships.  I suppose it began back in the mid 90’s as I moved thousands of miles away from my home and all that was known to me – I moved from Western Canada to the Eastern United States to begin my journey into Seminary and eventually into ordained ministry.

At first I simply used the internet to send email messages with those who I loved and who I wanted to continue to be in relationship with.  Calling Internationally during that time was expensive and it seemed to take forever to send a card or letter that distance.  So almost on a weekly basis, I would send emails to my family and friends. Updating them on my new found life, the ups and downs of seminary education and soon I used emails to inform my girl friends of my friendship with a special man that quickly stole my heart.

Communication by this medium was simply by text as digital camera’s didn’t exist and certainly there was no such thing as social networks.  The greatest words to hear upon booting my computer where “You’ve got Mail!” and soon AOL was transforming communication again as instant messages became an everyday means of communication.  I remember sitting in my office at the first church I served and becoming involved in multiple conversations at once – some with friends from high school (all the way back in Canada), some with Seminary friends (now scattered across the United States and Canada), and some with church members.  At the time it totally blew my mind that such conversations were taking place.

Little did I know that it wouldn’t be long till Facebook and other social networking sites would emerge.  It soon was common for folks to say “I’ll Facebook you, with that information”.  I never dreamed that the day would come that friends from all aspects of my life, who had never met each other, would be entering into conversations because of a picture I posted, a place I had “checked into”, a status update I had posted, or a prayer request I had made.

Email, instant messages, and even Facebook up to this point in my life had been all about maintaining relationships with people that I knew: people whom I had face to face interactions with at some point and folks whom I had been blessed with giving or receiving a hug.  Then entered the world of Ravelry, Ning, and Facebook groups formed around common professions or interests.  One didn’t have to have meet someone in the flesh to form a relationship anymore.

I didn’t ever think that I would form relationships with people that would become so a part of my everyday life.  I began to look forward to conversations with some groups in Ravelry and on Facebook and it wasn’t long until I talked about some of these people in conversations with my husband at the dinner table.  I cared about them, I prayed for them, and we even on several occasions exchanged gifts as we reached certain milestones in our lives or because we saw something (often Yarn) that made us think of each other.  When my littleman graduated preschool he got Legos in the mail from someone he had never met.  Very real relationships were formed and my life was blessed in indescribable ways.

In the fall of 2012 I sat with some of my brothers and sisters in ministry in a retreat on Sabbath keeping where these relationships were called into question.  Computers, internet, and social networking sites were blamed on part for the demise of our culture.  Some vocal folks stated that relationships on Facebook or other sites were not “real” and there wasn’t any authenticity to them.  I know that there are folks on the internet who claim to be someone they aren’t but aren’t there people who you work with or live next to that do the same thing?  Yes there is a risk you take when you “put yourself out there” and yes one can be hurt if they are not careful.  No relationship comes without risks!

The emergence of social networks has allowed me the joy of relationships with people who understand the extremes of ordained ministry and with folks who have helped me feel connected when otherwise I felt isolated.  My littleman has encountered some rare health issues for children and without Ravelry, I might never have met a friend who has twins who as children and young adults also suffer from pancreatitis. I myself suffer from a chronic condition that leaves me with widespread pain most days and I’ve been blessed with friends who listen to my rants and offer encouragement, encouragement that I need as I seek to be an encourager in my vocation.  I have friends because of Ravelry and even Facebook that have insights on how to raise a little boy and teachers who offer words of advice as I’ve encountered issues (good and bad) as he’s entered the world of public schools.  Need I say, my knitting skills have been greatly aided by the numerous knitters who I interact with pretty much every day.  And of course, I can’t begin to tell you the vast amounts of times when I have laughed so hard I’ve cried at folks status updates, blog posts, emails, or message board comments.  Virtual relationships have indeed been “real” to me and have allowed me to be “real”.

About a week ago, a group I belong to (yes on Ravelry) lost a member after her courageous battle with cancer. She left behind young children, a husband, and other family members but she also left behind a virtual group who was profoundly touched by her whit and her strength.  As I read post after post and message after message I couldn’t help but recall that conversation  I was a part of back in the fall and I couldn’t help but want to stand up and say it is indeed possible to have REAL relationships with people that you meet online!