Saturday, January 9, 2010

Emptying and Filling

There have been several bonuses from the Bishop of Connecticut search. One was to change my spiritual discipline regarding food this past July (via Weight Watchers online; so easy to do with an Iphone App!). That's working well. There's over 30 pounds less of the unhealthy part of me right now.

Another bonus was to be to seriously look at all the stuff in my house. The possibility of packing up and moving would have been a daunting task if I were elected Bishop of Connecticut. When I wasn't elected, I knew that I had a nudge to go ahead and get started on the clean up. Why wait to move to enjoy my cleaned-out home?

The last week of 2009 I got seriously started. This week I took eight garbage bags full of stuff that wouldn't be considered garbage to Goodwill.

It felt so good that I decided that one of my spiritual disciplines this year would be to intentionally clean out one place in my house each day and to put at least one item in the give- away bag daily.

Saturday I cleaned out my requests for donations folder. If you're like me, you get an awful lot of invitations to give. I tend to store those pleas in a folder and sit down and go through them all at once.

This rare week of not having to write a sermon or prepare a Sunday School class gave me a full morning. On this year beginning, I went through each request prayerfully. End of year giving from my generous parish made my Discretionary Fund full, and I wrote checks to over a dozen ministries.

From my own pocket, I wrote more checks to support my local PBS television and radio stations. I've also decided to sponsor a child with Big Brothers Big Sisters NW (my son tells me that time donations are up, but that money donations are way down).

I was inspired to sponsor a child in thanksgiving for the new grandchild that will be born in our family late this summer. I may have gotten the idea from my best friend from her own Project Georgia Grace.

Georgia Grace was my friend's first grandchild. There's nothing more fun, I'm told, than buying treats for a grandbaby. Of course, like so many children, Georgia Grace really had enough of most everything. So my friend made a rule: Every time she bought a gift for Georgia Grace, she had to buy an equal item for the local assistance ministry. Isn't that a great plan?

In the same spirit, I'll give some money each month for a child in the Portland area as I share the abundance that I know that Grandbaby "AJ" already has.

Meanwhile, I invite you to join me in the clean out/give away daily discipline. Emptying and filling, receiving and giving are very good things.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Another year of grace

I've stayed silent from the blog since returning from the election. We've finished Pentecost, Advent, and Christmas, and now we are days into Epiphany.

I've had wonderful gatherings with family at Thanksgiving at my mother's "farm" and another family gathering Christmas at the Rectory. My son Jacob finished his year with AmeriCorps and is now a full-time employee with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Portland. His wife, Lisa, has returned to school preparing to become a medical assistant. They are both expecting their first child, my first grandchild, this summer. My daughter, Lisa, continues to WOW with her wonderful photographs, recipes, and food writing.

In 2009, I was invited to be part of five processes in five dioceses for bishop. I was invited to be part of two processes for parish rector. Some invited me, and I said no; others invited me and then said no to me. I also became a postulant seeking to become an oblate of Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

At St. Mary's for the twelve days of Christmas, I was beyond thankful to be with those folk that I've been loving for thirteen years. Gathered with my family at Christmas, I was beyond thankful to be home with them.

Now what will God have in store for 2010? I would never, ever imagined what 2009 would have become, so I'm ready for the great surprises God has for all of us.

The Scripture which is my prayer is from Jeremiah 31. 3, 4:

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel