Friday, April 29, 2016

On Taking a Sabbath Day

Sabbath, a day of rest. When I hear of other people taking a sabbath I recognize its importance and in fact, I encourage it. The last few weeks and months have been busy and even at night my dreams have been occupied with all I have coming up so I haven't really rested. Hubby and close friends have encouraged me to take some time and I always have a million excuses of why I can't. Most of those excuses have to do with my unwillingness to allow other people to step in and help. After all, I'm supposed to be Supermom, Superwife, Superpreschool director, Supereverything. Right?!

Finally, after feeling completely overwhelmed at the beginning of this week, I decided that I had to make the time to rest and take a sabbath. So on Wednesday, as part of my preparation for the upcoming General Conference, I took a sabbath day. I needed to get my head clear and my heart in sync with God. With the sunroof open and the windows down, I headed out to the beach. On my way there, I sang at the top of my lungs...some praise and worship and some oh so spiritual Jimmy Buffet and Zac Brown Band. With one hand on the wheel and the other out the window dancing in the wind, I enjoyed the ride. Isn't that what we are supposed to do in life? Enjoy the ride? Sometimes I forget that.

Playalinda Beach is a sacred place for me. I always feel closer to God with sand between my toes and the sounds of the surf. Walking over the boardwalk, that first glimpse of waves with the sun glistening on the water, I take a deep breath and smell and taste the salt. This is heaven. With only one other family on the beach, I could spread out my sheet and just be. I had invited a friend to join me and she was on her way. Until she arrived, it was just God and me. I took deep cleansing breaths and felt the stress melt away. By the time my friend got there, I was ready for fellowship. We laid there talking about life experiences...things that mattered and things that didn't. We laughed, we commiserated, we enjoyed being together. We had such a good time that we lost track of time and I almost made her late picking up her kids!

It was a good day. I came home in a very different frame of mind. I felt rested, connected and put together for the first time in a while. I don't know what took me so long to do this, but I will learn to listen to my soul the next time and make the time.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Preparing for General Conference

In a few weeks, The United Methodist Church will hold its General Conference in Portland, Oregon. General Conference convenes every 4 years and United Methodists come from all over the world to worship together, pray together and discern together the direction God would have our denomination go. That is the hope anyway, that when we come together as a body, we will listen for the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and hearts into action and polity that is of God. Changes will be made to our Book of Discipline, a book that states what we as United Methodists believe and also our Book of Resolutions. As you can imagine, this is quite a difficult task. There are many important issues we will be discussing, although the one that is getting the most press and attention is human sexuality.

This is the legislation we are reading to ahead of time!

Florida has 18 delegates going to General Conference - 9 clergy and 9 laity. I was elected as one of those delegates. Our delegation has been preparing since we were elected last June. We have met on Saturdays, learning all we can about what to expect and educating ourselves on petitions and resolutions we will vote on at GC. While GC lasts 2 weeks, the first week is spent in legislative committees, going through each petition and resolution within your committee to refine, rework and avoid duplicates. There are 12 legislative committees, I am serving on General Administration, which has to do with the structure of the Methodist Church, its boards and agencies. The second week we meet as a body, all 874 delegates to discuss and votes on the petitions that have been worked on in each committee. I have ordered "The Idiot's Guide to Roberts Rules of Order" because I found that 4 years ago when I attended as an observer I got a bit lost in the process. When there is an amendment to the amendment, but that isn't passed so you are back to the original amendment, it gets a bit confusing. Especially because it moves quickly and in layers.

A week ago Sunday our Bishop visited our local church to preach. When it came time for the Children's Message Pastor Charlie talked to the children about laying on of hands and why people do this. He asked if they would like to learn how to lay hands on people and pray for them. Bishop Carter and I were invited to come and kneel at the rail and the children (and a few adults) laid hands on us as the church prayed for us. When Charlie first told me he was going to do this I loved the idea of involving the children in such a way. It's one of the things I really love about our church. I wasn't prepared for how meaningful this would be as it played out. As I knelt at the rail with all of these little hands on me, some who were rubbing my arm. At one point I looked up and there were these two little eyes looking right into mine and the innocent smile of a 3 year old who may not have fully understood the importance of that in which she was taking part, but she is learning and will continue to learn and grow in this intergenerational body of Christ. It was a sweet moment and I'm finding it hard to describe in words how it felt, but my heart was warmed and I found such meaning in this act of prayer.

Last Thursday night we gathered as a church for a prayer service for General Conference. We prayed for GC as a whole and for the work to be done there and we prayed for each delegate from Florida by name. Pastor Charlie read several passages of Scripture, we sang hymns and he gave us a word, which was actually more of a conversation. We talked about the mystery of our Unity in Christ and how the light that He brings in the world means that he has already won the victory over death, no matter what happens in Portland. It was an uplifting service and I felt encouraged and supported by the prayers that were lifted up.

I have received cards and letters in the mail from people I don't know who have let me know they are praying for me and for all who are going to General Conference. If you think your prayers don't matter, they do and it is really special when someone lets you know they are praying for you specifically.

I covet your prayers as I prepare to go to Oregon. It is exhausting, as we are in meetings from early in the morning until very late at night, but there are times especially during worship that are quite powerful. Worshiping with people from all over the world, knowing that the business that occurs there has an impact on Christ’s Church and setting the vision of where the Church will go during the next four years gives what we do purpose. Please pray for our time in Portland, that it is fruitful and for a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit to descend upon the Conference. Also, please pray for my family, as they will be home without me for two weeks.
          If you would like to follow along with what is going on during General Conference, there are two ways to do this. One, follow my blog. I will be blogging as I can about what is happening. Also, you can visit the General Conference website at for more information about legislation that will be discussed and voted on. The plenary sessions and worship will be live streamed and you can find the information about that either on the GC site or I will post links on my blog.

          Thank you for your support, prayers and words of encouragement as I go to Portland. I hope to represent you well and carry you all in my heart as I go.