Wednesday, July 31, 2013

25 Years and Growing...

Gratitude Journal
1. The Pastoral Institute of Columbus, Georgia
2. Colleagues in good times and difficult times
3. Enriching and challenging daily tasks
4. Opportunity for expression and creativity
5. 25 years celebrated with family, friends, co-workers!

'I remembered my two favorite prayers: Help me, Help me, Help me, and Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.' Anne Lamontt

When I was a child I often heard of persons of my parents generation being employed with the same company for many, many years. It was not unheard of for some to receive special recognition in the local newspaper and a gold watch upon retirement after 50 years or more of service. However, the long term employee is almost a thing of the past.

It is reported that most young college grads today may have as many as eight or ten different professional positions before they retire. Mobility, the desire to be ones own boss, and ease of 'working from anywhere' as long as you have a computer, are becoming more common place.

There is something to be said about this new world we live in today. I take my hat off to those who have that flexibility and make choices to roll and move and change with the times! Such a life can bring new and creative opportunities for exciting possibilities in almost every field of work.

Yesterday (July 30) the Pastoral Institute recognized and celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversery of my employment. Ron King, Executive Director/CEO, also was fetted for completing his 25th year. It was a most joyous occasion. Having family and friends and co-workers to participate provided many joy-filled memories!

One of the richest 'blessings' of the day was when my good friend publically said of me, 'John is a life long learner.' (Thank you Stephen Muse!)

If anyone had predicted 25 years ago that I would still be a part of this wonderful organization after all these years, I would probably have laughed. I fully anticipated I would eventually move back to a pastorate or some church position or denominational post. However, I have been blessed to learn and grow and change and participate in the development of other ministers by staying right here.

To see a minister or staff person or clergy-family member or lay-person filled with joy and hope through some work we have done together has been most rewarding!

But even more basic has been the joy I have known within my own journey as I have been challenged to read and study and learn new things. While I may be haunted by the bittersweet reality I will not have time left to 'read all the books', I can say I do look forward to each new chapter ahead. For the foreseeable future I will be right here, continuing to relish the great blessing I have to be of ministry to ministers.

Backwards though it may seem, I hope I continue to remember in the hard times to pray: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You... what do You have to teach me, Lord? And in the good times: Help Me, Help Me, Help Me,Lord... to be open to learning something new and not rest in idle pridefulness!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When It Rains

Gratitude Journal
     1. Rainy days and Sundays
     2. Honesty
     3. Honesty, even when painful!
     4. Reconnecting with family
     5. Any time with grand kids...

"It rains on the just and the unjust..."

Recently, on our annual family reunion, it rained every day.  Some days there were just a few sprinkles.  On those days we were able to doge rain drops and get outside and have some fun.  On other days, we felt a little more trapped indoors with three little people.  Each seemed anxious to outdo the other with loud play or orders and directions toward one another.  Although the house was large, there was really no place to 'get away' from all the activity and sound.

There were moments of deep joy, as well as sadness.  Joy of being with folks we don't see often.  Joy of reconnecting and laughing together and making new memories.  Joy of watching the children grow before our eyes.  And sad moments also when we realized we had let one another down in some way or we could not erase painful experiences for those we love and care so much about, or when we remembered those who were not with us this year, for so many different reasons. Those moments were tough!

Rainy days.  That can be a metaphor for any day that seems to be stacked against us.  Moments when we really have no control.  Anxious moments when we wonder what will happen next.  Sad moments when things don't turn out according to our best plans or wishes or prayers.

Rainy days.  This can also be a wonderful time for quiet moments of introspection.  Moments when we ask ourselves what our will is as compared to God's Will.  To review our actions and reactions.  To dream of what might happen next... what doors may open or close before us.  Times when we can just sit together in silence and listen and watch blessings drop from heaven.

When we visit the rental cabin during the summer, I enjoy getting up early while the house is quiet. When all are asleep and there is no sound of T.V. or other distraction.  Listening to the quiet, I call it.  Some might say reflection, others contemplation.  What ever the title, I embrace the time as gift and offer thanks.  Rain brings growth to plants and provides nourishment to animals.  And it also brings renewal to the soul, if we will let it!