Rainy day Thursday musings…

Ahhhh…. rain. I stood outside this morning in the rain, catching the first spatterings from the sky with unconcealed joy. I love the rain. It’s probably because we don’t get much here (we average 7.48″/year, according to the InterWebs). Perhaps if we had a Portland-esque climate I’d feel differently (42″/year!) But I digress.

When it rains, I feel like my soul is being watered; it’s a tangible reminder to me of God’s grace & His care… & when I stand in the rain, I often pray, asking, “God, water the parts of me that are dry & crusty, the places that need Your life & Your touch.” And I feel like He does.


About a year ago, I felt like I experienced a “dark night of the soul” aka a place that Dallas Willard referred to as something that “tests one’s joyful confidence in God“. There were many reasons for this including challenging family circumstances, a roller-coaster of incapacitating anxiety/panic attacks, depression, & the loss/deterioration of a few close friendships. I slept a lot & didn’t eat well… (NOTE: I ate a lot, & my weight jumped… which led to most of my clothes not fitting… which led to more anxiety & crud.)

One day, I saw an invitation on social media from an acquaintance looking for guinea pigs (volunteers) to be a part of his spiritual direction “internship.” This involved a 1x/month Skype session with him for the purpose of discovering/rediscovering what God is saying, doing, & where He is leading. Considering the hole I was in, (& desperately wanted out of) I jumped at the invite. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Over the course of several months, I sensed my dark night (it was more like a dark quarter of a year,) dissipating, with the knowledge that, even when I hadn’t known it, God had been right there in the middle of it with me… And that He didn’t waste any of the pain, but actually turned it to be a source of fuel for bringing change in my life, physically, mentally, emotionally, & spiritually. And in the last 12 months, I’ve been able to track a turnaround in my life. Not an instant miracle, not a “BOOM! you’re healed” moment, but a gradual, (& lasting) shift in how I live, approach anxiety/adversity, what I give myself to, & most significantly, in my relationship with God. My spiritual director didn’t give advice, offer a plan for change, or really direct me to do anything. He merely asked lots of (Holy Spirit inspired) questions, listened to my answers, & asked more questions. And God used these reflections to give me a mirror into my own soul & to shine a bright light that eventually led me out of the dark night… (If you’d be interested in hearing more about this & my spiritual director, send me a note or let me know in the comments…)


This Saturday is our “Giver Team” dinner at Hillside – its a time where we acknowledge & appreciate all the “Givers” who give of their time & energy to serve at Hillside… In essence, its a celebration of the people who make Hillside what it is: a community of people, pursuing relationship with God & with each other, looking to find, understand, & follow God’s plan for their lives, & to help others in that pursuit. When it comes down to it, we believe in process… meaning, when we serve at church, we believe God uses that service (& our interactions with each other) as a source of helping us grow, in Him. Which ultimately means serving (being on the Giver Team) is a way to grow towards our goal: being mature, fully grown Christians… who live, love, & act like Christ would if He were walking in our shoes…. living, working, & playing where we live. I’m so thankful for this community of people – & I would love to be a part of this even if I wasn’t the pastor. And that is saying something.


More rain. I’m going outside.

Day 7 & 8 – Deutschland 2010 – Rest, Talks, & Study

Day 7, #2 –
Martin & Sandra came & picked me up around 8:30 p.m. to take me to one of Sandra’s favorite hangouts from her university days. It’s a wine & cheese bar around the corner from the U of Frankfurt, & it’s located in a cozy cellar lit mostly by candles. My kind of place.

We sat at a communal table, meaning there were other people seated at the same table as us, having their own little ‘date’ & going about their own evening. This is a pretty common practice (sharing the space) here, though it wouldn’t fly at home. I mean really, sharing a table with a stranger? Who does that? :) One might even make a new friend.

Had a chance to catch up with Martin & Sandra over a Spanish Navarra red wine; it reminded me of a great zinfandel. Martin ordered us pretzels (yes!) & a vorspeise (appetizer) plate that came with hummus, bread, sun-dried tomatoes, some white beans (don’t know what they were but they tasted good,) black & green olives, parmesan cheeze, & some salami. Ahh.

Interesting talks about our kids – their oldest daughter, (2nd grade) is facing some pretty tough stuff right now & has a classmate who is seemingly well-versed & connected in the occult; her mom is a practitioner of the dark arts. Sandra & Martin were trying to figure out what they could do to address the situation; they can’t just forbid their daughter from seeing the classmate because they can’t move her out of that class. So, we talked about praying for our kids &  “blessing & cursing” – speaking life, God’s protection, & physical/spiritual covering over their daughter; basically taking a firm stand in the spiritual world.

The night was over way too quickly, & they dropped me off around 11, just in time for me to crawl under the covers & go to sleep.


DAY 8 –

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the shutters on a German home; I mean the kind that you lower at night for protection, heat retention, & ‘blacking out’ the room. Well, I must have lowered the shutters all the way, because I slept until 10:30 this morning – there were no tell-tale rays of sun coming in to alert me that the day had arrived. Must have been tired as well. I do know that I dreamed quite a bit.  :)

Had my morning coffee, then prepared for my only appointment of the day, a visit to Koriander (the Italian restaurant that has a killer pepperoni/pineapple pizza) with Tobias. We had a great time getting to know each other better over lunch. A large part of our conversation deal with the Sabbath (he went to the seminar last Saturday.)

He also had a lot of questions about Foursquare – I’m finding that many pastors & leaders in the Foursquare Deutschland churches are looking for a global perspective, insight if you will, on the movement that they’re apart of. Each person that has asked me questions about the Foursquare family has stated that they’re incredibly thankful to be a part of something bigger than just them & their church. They want to hear the “family stories.” It reminds me a lot of my daughter, theWeez, asking my mom to tell her stories about her own life growing up, & about the family & how it came to be like it is. These questions, (& the stories that follow,) give a piece of solidity & groundedness to us, & build a bit of confidence about our ‘world’ & our place in it. If that makes sense. It does to me. :)

I’ve walked Leipziger Strasse at least 100 times in my life – never have I seen what I saw today: Jacque’s Wine Shop. I stumbled into it & found a collection of wines from all over the world… except the USA. I’d been planning on going by the Aldi or the Penny Markt, to buy wine for Julia’s family for when I see them on Saturday, but Jacque’s provided a better alternative with a great selection. The pictures don’t do the store justice, but I think I was making the proprietor nervous. I know one of the other customers just about lost it when I pulled my phone out to take pictures. He gave me the Look of Doom, & shook his head at me just like my old German teacher Frau Carson used to do in order to show her displeasure at my inability to put the verb in the right place in the sentence. Ah, dear Frau Carson, I do miss thee.

Ended up getting a Spanish Tempranillo/Crianza for Eddy & Laura, & an Italian Primitivo for the family Kern. I could have spent a couple of hours (& a couple hundred euro) in Jacque’s but alas, I needed to get home so that I could study for my speeching on Saturday & Sunday.


Spent the afternoon/early evening going over my notes for “Foursquare Friends Day” – a multi-church celebration in Engstingen where I get to share ‘my heart’ – meaning what I believe is important & close to God’s heart. I’ll be talking at least 2 times (about 45 minutes a shot): the first will be about the Monday Morning Church; the second is about living the Spirit-filled life… which is HOW we live as the Monday Morning Church in the 1st place.

Sunday, I’ll be in Ottersweier (where Julia lives) & talking from John 13:34,35 about living a simple life. And Julia gets to translate for me. That will be some good fun. :)


The time flew by, & I ended up studying for several hours… it got dark & the rains came again. But by the time I finished my studies, I needed to get out & walk – so I did, rain & all. The rain & cold have left my right knee achy,  especially where the screw from my ACL repair goes into the bone.

Goodness.

Getting out & walking helps a bit & keeps most of the stiffness away. I had hoped for some running, but I’m not nearly hard-core enough to run in the dark, rain, & cold. :)