Sending off another group…..

graduationGraduation is upon us.
They are ready for Kindergarten.
They are MORE than ready for Kindergarten.
We prepare them to be so prepared that if they enter a dual immersion class they are well rooted and confident in their academics they are able to tackle learning in another language!

What a privilege to share this time with them. We have loved them. We have seen their unique personalities and giftedness. We have prayed for them and asked God to greatly bless them and their families. It has been a sweet journey. We are still connected by the invisible bond of love even when they move on. We delight when they return to tell us of their wild success in elementary school. Just today we had a family visit so their son could greet his teacher. Even when they were a long way off at the other end of the hallway, his teacher knew immediately it was him. It was a touching moment…. beloved student and beloved teacher.

On Saturday it happens again…..we send off yet another group…. to the next adventure. We may not be ready…..but they are!

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Community is a beautiful thing…..

Do you have those weeks when everything seems to point you to one truth? This week for me it has been taking in the beauty of community.

A short term mission team (from Northern California and Colorado)  is here this week serving in our ministry “Building Generations” ministry in Tijuana.  They have led sewing workshops, led devotionals, sang, laughed and have thoroughly enjoyed serving this week.  I am so grateful for Londa, Luther, Pastor Clare, and Twila. There have been some long days this week but very sweet ones. Yesterday Londa, Twila and Luther helped the women tackle some sewing projects and I translated for Pastor Clare as he met with Pastor Enrique and lay leader Sadoc to discuss matters of faith and theology. Actually, it was more of an encouragement session and I know that was a tremendous blessing to the church workers.  What a generosity of heart for Pastor Clare to simply offer an ear to listen and encourage and share. Then we participated in a two hour devotional that the women have each Thursday.  It was beautiful how they sang, worshipped God, talked about how they are supporting their church’s ministry and serving the poor, they celebrated and prayed over the birthdays of a couple of women and they prayed prayers of thanksgiving and petition together. They prayed together, they cried together, they encouraged each other and then they celebrated together with a fellowship meal.  

As we were driving across the border, I asked the group what made the most impact on them as they got to interact with the people of Tijuana.  Without missing a beat, Pastor Clare said, “….how they care for each other with such devotion and affection.”  He couldn’t have summed it up better and it is such a privilege for me to be part of this community too.  For more on this and photos go to www.edificandogeneraciones.org

 I opened up Pastor Schmidt’s blog this morning and he shared this verse: “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”  Romans 12:10  Certainly this is a hallmark of community.  We saw this in Tijuana and it was so evident even to outside observers.  

I get to see this as I serve in the Concordia community too.  It’s  God’s design and it is very good.

 

Fascinated by the larger story…..

Twice over the last week I have been privileged to hear someone’s story.  By that I mean they shared their struggle of how to think of God as they have experienced loss, pain and trial.  I know it sounds dramatic, but I am truly honored when someone considers me trustworthy to open their heart and let me be part of their story and invite me to their journey.  There is a greater story to be told and God lets us be part of his creative and transformative work in the lives of those who seek Him and His grace.

I found this blog interesting especially the question posed:  Rather than ask “why” when tough things happen in life that you don’t understand, ask: “God, what do you have for me here?”

Tell me what you think.

—Melissa

A Question to Ask When Faced With Conflict

Al Andrews

Al Andrews

He started playing the piano at age four. At eight years old, Leon Fleisher made his public debut in music performing with the New York Philharmonic. The director called him “the pianistic find of the century” and soon he was accepted to study with some of the greatest teachers of his time.

His star continued to rise in his twenties as he signed an exclusive contract with Columbia Masterworks. Particularly acclaimed for his interpretations of Bach and Beethoven, in the classical music world, he was becoming known around the globe as the “next big thing.”

And then, when he was in his 30s, at the peak of his career, something happened. Over a brief period of time, he gradually lost the functional use of his right hand. It simply wouldn’t work. Doctor after doctor couldn’t diagnose the problem. Physical therapy didn’t help. Counseling wouldn’t bring it back. Medications failed to make a difference.

Predictably, he sank into a depression and wondered if all was lost. I don’t know this for sure, but I would imagine suicide could have been a real option. It appeared his career was over.

• • •Can you imagine it? What if you lost the very thing that allowed you to do your job, to make a living, or to offer your gift to the world?

A singer loses his voice. A dancer loses her foot. An artist loses her eyesight. An audio engineer loses his hearing.

What would you do? How would your respond?

• • •After a while, Leon began to slowing find his way through and found that he loved to compose music. Then he discovered his love for conducting, which he dived into as well. While still playing the piano, he developed proficiency playing with his left hand alone.

Soon, his world renown returned, this time for his beautiful and intricate left handed concerts. Take a look a Leon Fleischer performing in his seventies:

So, here’s the rest of the story. When Fleischer was in his seventies, after more than forty years, the cause of his hand disorder was discovered and in time, the use of his right hand returned. In early 2000, Fleischer embarked on yet another world tour to promote his new CD, “Both Hands.”

Before you read any further, I want you to sit with this story for a few minutes.

A man had it all, then lost it all, wandered in the wilderness, found something again, and late in his life, was given even more. It’s a rich story of hope. I have wept over the beauty of it all.

• • •I wish that I could say that every story ends like this. Sadly they don’t. I know plenty of people for whom tragedy has struck a dissonant chord, and that chord will likely never resolve this side of heaven. There are some things in my own life that I feel that way about. Sometimes life doesn’t take that turn.

So what do we do when tragedy strikes and takes away the equivalent of our right hand – our job, our marriage, our reputations?

I’d like to suggest a prayer that the Benedictine monks pray during times the call “Desolation.” Desolation is when things don’t work – when life, relationships, God – all seem disconnected at best.

When that happens, our natural prayers are usually variations of the word “Why?”

Why? Why me? Why this? Why this now? Why God?

The Benedictines suggest a different question. They ask us to pray this simple prayer, “God, what do you have for me here?”

Do you notice the difference? While honest, the why questions presume we are entitled to something and the current problem has no place in our life or the universe.

“What do you have for me here?” presumes that there is a larger story told by a storyteller who loves us and is far more creative in his telling than I would ever be. It also presumes that if my right hand ceases to function, unknown to me, sixty years later, someone I’ve never met might be writing a blog because my story touched him and gave him hope.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer in one of his prison poems, wrote this in the weeks before he died, “That which is lost will return to us again as life’s most living strain.”

Bonhoeffer died before I was born and thus far, Leon and I have not crossed paths. However, in the mystery and mingling of stories that weave in and out of one another, they are dear friends who have taught me to lean into loss and ask a different question.

It takes a village …..

I am so grateful for the special “village” as we participated in the graduation festivites of SDCC for Andres.  Last night we attended the banquet and one of the students’ popular theology professors had some great remarks about how to live in the world (not in the bubble) and be a light of love and truth.  They had asked we submit photos of the graduates. I of course submitted some from when he was a toddler and young child as well as some wonderful shots of him leading in church, at his recital and with his Fusse and music buddies too.  As I saw snippets of his life flash…it made me think of all the blessing that had to happen over his whole life to bring him to this point.  It has been a privilege for me to be his mother but it really is true that raising a child is a “village” experience.  There have been family, the extended Concordia “village”, friends and neighbors who have taken the time to spend time with him and invest in him and love him.

graduation

 
More evidence of that “village” experience when pastor texted us early this morning with his greeting and congratulations and words of wisdom and reflection.  Yes, it is amazing to be connected to a community of faith and people who not only share friendly space with you but really love, invest and pour into you.  I am grateful for pastor who started mentoring Andres about 6 years ago…spending time with him, praying with and for him, discovering his heart and giving him opportunities to serve and as he grew, gave him more responsibilities.  I think of how key this has been in his development and what a wonderful provision of God through community this has been to us. 
 
There have been others (two others texted me today too!) in the Concordia village that have encouraged him and prayed for him and taught him and showed him by their example what it means to follow Jesus and serve others.  I am so grateful for these wonderful collaborators in this work of love. 
 
Yes, just feeling grateful today.

Patience.

I am enjoying the new series on Patience. I especially love hearing how people are connecting with God through Concordia’s ministry.  It never gets old to hear people remark how the message seemed to be written especially for them.  Of course, that is the personal and powerful work of the Holy Spirit and it is beautiful to witness.

We launch new home groups too this week.  I am still hearing from people who are discovering God in new ways from their experience at the last set of home groups.  Just yesterday someone texted me this:  “I am so excited to finally grasp God’s Word….!”

I love being part of the Concordia ministry and being able to be one on this beautiful journey of discovery with others.  I am honored when others share their stories with me.  Sometimes It reminds me how beautiful is the mutual caring that happens in community, as a friend of mine tweeted today: “By His wounds we are healed; in our woundedness we share healing.”