1. It’s in books that I’ve always sought permission. Having been raised evangelical, in a religious culture that requires looking to a book for answers, I’ve never been able to quit reading for revelation, for instruction, for affirmation.
    — 

    Carlene Bauer.

    Elle Magazine.  March, 2013

     
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  3. The Rule is clear: love costs. It costs the little daily things - serving the meals, providing the needs, asking for favors nicely, refusing favors gently. Second, love makes demands. It demands we use our gifts for our own communities as well as for others. It demands that we make relationships a priority. It demands that we make community for others. It demands that we share ourselves, our minds, our insights, and our time with one another. Most of all, it demands that we allow the people in our lives to be who they are and grow as they can.
     
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  5. For nothing is so inconsistent with the life of any Christian as overindulgence.
    — 

    The Rule of St Benedict

    Chapter 39

     
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  7. sonder \ (noun) \ the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own - populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness - an epic story that continues invisibly around you with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
    — Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
     
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  9. The years flowed smoothly by, seaming the faces of the young and adding gray to their temples. The perpetual labor of the monastery continued, daily storming heaven with the ever-reccuring hymn of the Daily Office…
    — 

    Walter M Miller, Jr.

    A Canticle for Leibowitz

     
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  11. Congregation is composed of people, who, upon entering a church, leave behind what people on the street name or call them. A church can never be reduced to a place where goods and services are exchanged. It must never be a place where a person is labeled. It can never be a place where gossip is perpetuated. Before anything else, it is a place where a person is named and greeted, whether implicitly or explicitly in Jesus’ name. A place where dignity is conferred.
    — 

    Eugene Peterson

    The Pastor

     
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  13. An outworking of an inner theology

    I preached my first sermon yesterday.  I’m sure it must be a significant milestone in the life of any minister, but for me it was a profound experience because this sermon was the last outworking of a long-held inner theology.

    I am now in my ninth year of vocational ministry at my third PC(USA) church.  That means a lot of things but one thing it means for sure is that I haven’t missed much church lately.  I’ve been in a corporate worship service of one shape or another nearly every Sunday for the last decade.  Including myself yesterday, though, I am now only the second female voice I have ever heard preach from a pulpit.

    [I’m not looking to make an argument for a particular position of women in ministry.  I assume your understanding of gender roles within the church is probably pretty set.  If it’s not, find a few voices more eloquent than mine to introduce you to the conversation – the search won’t be difficult.]

    Over the years I’ve come to believe that my voice and voices like mine – female voices, I mean – are invited and necessary in the leadership of the church.  It was a lightly held belief while I was in college that has become more and more sure within me despite (or perhaps because of) the schools I’ve attended and the places I’ve worked since those early days. 

    Yesterday was the last frontier to tackle as I worked this out this long held inner theology.  I’ve sat in Session meetings and I’ve given my opinion on significant church-wide decisions.  I’ve led staffs and I’ve led Sunday Schools and I’ve led trips.  For years now I’ve been involved in the leadership of the church, but never have I stood in a pulpit.  

    My mind knows I am not the second woman in the history of the world to stand in a pulpit and preach, but the truth remains that I am only the second woman in the short history of my own life to have held the position.  My heart beat a little faster as I first lived out what I believe.  It was a weighty thing to finally commit the action of my body to an idea my heart has long affirmed.

    It was, I would imagine, much like when I ask my youth group to serve in unsavory places, to do the hard work of loving an unlovely neighbor.  It is one thing to agree that Christ calls us to love the friendless girl at school but quite another to commit your body to the seat beside hers at the lunch table.

    I am proud of the words I spoke yesterday.  Proud because I know they came from solid study, much prayer and a heart earnest to speak words of grace and truth. More than that, though, proud because it was a final, outward, embodied affirmation of my long inner theology.

     
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  15. I’ve tried to get us thinking about education, or pedagogy, in terms of practices or even rituals. In particular, I’ve been suggesting that education is not primarily a heady project concerned with providing information; rather, education is most fundamentally a matter of formation, a task of shaping and creating a certain kind of people. What makes them a distinctive kind of people is what they love or desire - what they envision as the “good life.”
     
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  17. Leaving HPPC

    This email went out today to the students and families of Highland Park Presbyterian that I love so dearly. 

    Friends –
    The time has come to announce that I will be leaving the HPPC youth ministry staff.  I can’t begin to articulate how much I have loved being a part of HPPC these past years.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to share life with so many wonderful students, family and staff - my time at HPPC has been rich with blessings.  Within the love and grace of this congregation I have come to better understand community, ministry, theology, spiritual formation and so much more.  This transition, then, is incredibly bittersweet.

    At the end of August I will be moving to Kansas City to begin a job at Youthfront, a non-profit youth ministry organization. This new role will give me the opportunity to integrate much of the doctoral work in Christian Spirituality that I have been doing at Fuller Seminary for the past few years as I work towards thoughtful, theologically informed adolescent spiritual formation with youth pastors around the country. 

    I continue to be excited about the ministry happening at HPPC.  Jim Gribnitz, the Children’s and Youth Minister, is a great leader and has an incredible vision for our youth ministry.  I fully believe that God is at work within the life of our community and look forward with eager expectation to hear the stories of his grace and faithfulness as our youth and families continue grow in the knowledge and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    As sad as I am to say goodbye to my life at HPPC, I am incredibly excited to see what is in store for this next phase of my life.  While I am fully convinced that Youthfront is the best place for me to fully live into who God has called me to be, much of my understanding of ministry and spiritual formation has been shaped by my time at HPPC. I would love to be able to spend time with as many families as possible before I leave to personally thank you for the incredible influence you have each had in my life. 

    Much love to you all,
    Laura

     
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  19. We pray for young people
    Who put chocolate fingers everywhere,
    Who like to be tickled,
    Who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
    Who ask for $20 before they leave with their friends,
    Who erase holes in math workbooks,
    Who never put away their shoes.

    And we pray for those
    Who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
    Who can’t bound down the street in new sneakers,
    Who never “counted potatoes,”
    Who aren’t anybody’s Facebook friend,
    Who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead in,
    Who never go to the circus or to a concert,
    Who live in an X-rated world.

    We pray for young people
    Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
    Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
    Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
    Who leave make-up all over the sink,
    Who slurp their soup.

    And we pray for those
    Who never get dessert,
    Who never had a safe blanket to drag behind them,
    Who can’t find any bread to steal,
    Who don’t have any rooms or lockers to clean up,
    Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s iphones,
    Whose monsters are real.

    We pray for young people
    Who spend all their paychecks before Tuesday,
    Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
    Who like ghost stories,
    Who stay out past curfew while their parents wait for them,
    Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
    Who think they’re far too old to be hugged good-bye,
    Who squirm in church and scream on the phone,
    Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

    And we pray for those
    Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
    Who will eat anything,
    Who have never seen a dentist,
    Who are never spoiled by anyone,
    Who don’t have a loved one to come out to,
    Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
    Who live and move, but have no being.

    We pray for young people
    Who want to be carried
    And for those who must,
    For those we never give up on
    And for those who never get a second chance,
    For those we smother,
    And for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind
    enough to offer it.

    We pray for children.

    Amen.

     
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  21. …but minimizing the crisis does not merely suppress the pain crisis causes; it is also a way of pushing aside the necessary transformation of the whole system of living…Only life systems that are capable of suffering are capable of surviving, because they are the only ones that are prepared to learn and are open to change.
    — Jurgen Moltmann
    God in Creation 
     
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  23. plays: 0

    country music has produced a panoply of songs that could have been written either about an incredible relationship with a boyfriend or an incredible relationship with jesus.

    luckily, blake has stepped in with one that switches the question to girlfriend or holy spirit?

    cheers to the bible belt.

     
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  25. if i get to five

    sometimes the best ministry books aren’t really about ministry at all. 

    from neurosurgeon fred epstein’s if i get to five:

    "we’ve learned that keeping ourselves open to the emotional as well as physical pain around us doesn’t come naturally; retreating from other people’s pain does.  compassion isn’t a passive state.  it’s an act of will, an act of courage; the courage to cope with every parent’s worst nightmare, the courage to be emotionally honest, the courage to risk having your heart broken, the courage to care enough to push yourself to do what’s scariest.

    i used to think that courage meant taking on the toughest cases, being the guy who dared to make the life-and-death judgment calls in the operating room.  i now know that holding a child’s hand while he undergoes chemotherapy can be a lot scarier than holding his life in my hands during an operation.”

     
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  27. royally wasteful

    my current hero, lauren winner, at a conference for christian artists a few years back:: 

    "we live in a secular world governed by a capitalist model of scarcity. there’s never enough money in our world and there’s never enough time. all of our resources are scarce.

    by contrast, our god gives us a very different economy. our god is a god of overflowing creative fecundity, a god of inexhaustible eucharistic offering. a god who, after all, multiplies loaves and fishes.

    so to borrow marvus don’s phrase, one of the things that marks us as followers of that god is the consistent practice of being royally wasteful.  of wasting time by praying and worshipping … christians need not, because of our god of abundance, always be concerned about the evident utility of everything we do.  we are instead called to worship and reverence a god who is interested in whimsy and not just utility.”

    she’s brilliant.

     
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  29. plays: 0

    there’s not much that’s more embarrassing than loving a song by an artist named “pitbull”. but i do. i love this right now.

     
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