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Showing posts from 2017

Facing Fear in the Concrete.

I'm fairly comfortable with things in theory. For example, in theory, fish is good for me and is tasty; in practice, I can't get myself to swallow the slimy meat or purchase Omega-3 supplements. In theory, I could stop drinking coffee at the drop of a hat, but in practice, I'd get awful withdrawal headaches and would miss my friendly pal named Caffeine.

In theory, my fears seem pretty conquerable, but in practice, my stomach does somersaults, my fingers get tingly, and my instinct is to run away – and as quickly as possible.

My rational mind tells me, "Of course, Laura. You can definitely drive without fear. It will be a-okay." But when I actually get behind the wheel and behold the on-ramp before me, my fear to spin my wheels on the highway becomes incredibly concrete. Everything in me wants to avoid merging into a steady flow of traffic, frightened that there might not be room for me. I'm scared I'm going to miss my exit, be absentminded, be unprepared,…

The Cruciform Life.

One book that's been particularly formational for me the past three summers is Ian Morgan Cron's Chasing Francis. This book is the only novel I've ever re-read, and reading it truly is – in the words of Jo March – like "being home again." I don't want to spoil any elements of this book for you if you haven't read it; however, I will say that it's about pilgrimage – a journey closer to the heart of Christ through looking at the life of St. Francis of Assisi. As I have visited and revisited this book, I find I'm on a pilgrimage of my own. This pilgrimage is one of deeper trust, transparency, and authenticity. It's one of learning to live an unprotected life, one that's open to loving others with the love of Christ.

Here's one segment of the book that speaks deeply to me, an interaction of a Franciscan friar with the main character:
"Do you know how Simon Tugwell described Franciscanism? He called it the 'radically unprotected li…

Affirming Dignity.

Already, I could write so much about my experience of being a chaplain in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) for the past seven weeks. I hope that in the days and weeks ahead, I can share what's been percolating in my heart. For now, though, what's been brewing (might as well extend the coffee metaphor, right?) is the concept of dignity. Specifically, I've been asking myself, "How am I seeking to affirm the dignity of others, not only in the hospital rooms I visit, but in my day to day life?"

I firmly believe that each individual – every God-created soul – is made in His very image. And because we are made in His image, we have inherent worth and value. We have God-given dignity. And while it's often easy to believe the image of God is present in individuals who are most like us – most familiar to our life experiences – it can be a little harder to recognize the image of God in those we disagree with, dislike, or even those we fear. 
Dignity has been personifi…

Grappling with an Evangelical Identity.

When I was growing up, I can't say I ever identified as an 'evangelical.' 'Pentecostal,' absolutely. But 'evangelical'? It just wasn't a familiar or even a relevant term to me. As a child, I didn't quite understand how I fit in with the larger body of Christians around me; while I felt a strong identity to fellow Pentecostals, I had no idea how I connected with the Baptists down the street, the Lutherans across town, or the many Catholics in parishes all over the south suburbs of Chicago.

In college, too, denominations other than my Pentecostal tradition seemed a bit 'foreign' to me. Since I grew up in this denomination, I thought that any understanding outside this denomination was lesser-than (particularly regarding the Holy Spirit), that is until I discovered Anglicanism (I'll write about this journey some other time). In Anglicanism, I found a tradition that delighted in being part of the Church universal, joined to all Christians pa…

Holy Silence.

Image
{I recently found this poem that I wrote in May 2016, as a reflection of my retreat time at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri. The photo below is the visual that inspired my written words. Feel free to click for a closer view.}



My cotton blanket was an altar,
Green grass its ornamentation.
The call-and-response came from opposing sides of trees –
Some light, some dark,
With disparate harmony but equal parts.
I felt I could not properly sing along,
For the song was unfamiliar.
"Holy, holy, holy"
In notes not fitted for scale or staff.
The gnats, though intrusive to my altar,
Sang along; they knew their part.
As the sun shone its rays upon the sanctuary,
The stained glass of my heart also shone,
Illuminating the color of my prayer
That could only be expressed in awe-filled silence.

Scaffolding & Scales.

As this second semester of seminary has begun, the words and insights of Henri Nouwen have continued to speak truth into my heart, especially as I've journeyed to invest in what it means for the Lord to access all of who I am – without disguises and without facades.

One of my dear friends here at Gordon-Conwell, Shannon, is also a Henri enthusiast. In one of my first conversations with her in September, she mentioned that she was moved and blessed by Henri's notion that we allow our "scaffolding" to be removed when we are in the Lord's presence. He sees us for who we really are, even when we are unaware of what lies beneath the layers of protection we have tried to establish to impress Him and others (and even ourselves).

I encountered this quote about scaffolding once again at a discipleship retreat I attended this past weekend, and again, this concept struck me deeply.

Here's what Henri writes:

In solitude, I get rid of my scaffolding; no friends to talk wi…

Living from Belovedness.

This past semester, I wrote a research paper on the life, theology, and ministry of Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, writer, and psychologist, who blessed the world with his kindness and his seemingly endless insights. As I read his writings, I fell 'in love' with his explained concepts of Belovedness – specifically, living Beloved as God's dear children. His thoughts have reworked and reframed my most basic ideas of God's love, and while my paper is complete, I know that I will spend a lifetime chewing on Henri's sweet insights of the Father.

Essentially, living as God's Beloved helps us to identity with Jesus, find our hearts' true home in the Father, and value the life of our neighbor.

At the start of Jesus' ministry, when John the Baptist immerses him in water at his baptism, a voice is heard from Heaven. It's the voice of the Father. He proclaims over His Son, "This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Henri…

Mournful, but Prayerful.

{Warning: this post is political in nature}
I must be honest and up-front with my emotions. I am hurting. More than once, I have cried about the results of this Presidential election. Quite honestly, I would have felt a tinge of dissatisfaction no matter what the results. Thus, my tears are not indicative solely of the results of the Presidential election; rather, they speak to my experience of mourning and of misrepresentation.

This election has made it incredibly difficult for me to wear the name "evangelical." It's made me feel incredibly distanced from many in the Church – from those I deeply love. As a woman, I've felt the weight of what it means not only to be objectified, but also what it means to not be advocated for as one who is made in the very image of God. This election has been a time of ideological upheaval for me personally, causing me to question the very foundations of my political perspectives up until this point. I've revisited how I define &…