Tag Archives: transitions


A month ago, I posted a letter from my daughter’s blog Tales of an Earth Mama. The letter spoke of her longing to move to Kansas but her struggle with the state of education in Kansas. I, too, wish she would move home, but life is always changing and one never knows what will be around the next corner.

Fast forward one month and I have announced my own change. I moving congregations. After 10 years at West Heights United Methodist Church as senior pastor, on July 1, I will begin as senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in downtown Wichita. This change came as a big surprise to me. I had not asked to move, my church was not seeking a change in pastors and yet, the call came and I said yes.

I am part of a facebook community called RevGalBlogPals. As the name implies, it is clergy women who “blog” and who have created a supportive community. The Facebook page has all kinds of resources for worship and for new ideas. It is over 3000 strong with women from many denominations sharing.

In January, one of the women shared her tradition of “star words.” In a linked file, it listed over 400 such words. She would use yellow paper cut out as stars and printed all the different unique words. Many of the women involved in the facebook group asked for a word. I did too. She chose words and let us know what our word would be.

I loved the idea and took it to my worship team and we decided to use a similar principle for the Sunday after Epiphany and celebrate the baptism of Jesus.  We used a variety of  bright colored paper and invited people to come forward, remember their baptism and pick a word to pray on for the next year. Perhaps they would randomly pick a word and or they could carefully choose one.


I randomly drew a word. It was interesting, the word I had been given through Facebook was “perceive.” I know that only because I went back and looked. I prayed with that word each morning and evening until I randomly drew a word on that second Sunday in January. The word I drew then was:


So from that time, I prayed with the word “expectation.” I wasn’t really expecting anything. I would just pray, for lack of better words, expectantly. I asked God to do new things in my life. I asked God to use me, to let me serve, to let me find joy in all that I did.

I have jokingly told people, “see what happens when you pray! You never know what God is going to do!!” Truth! I never know what God is going to do. I pray regularly, though, that God will make my life matter. I ask God to help me love more deeply, serve with integrity and joy and to help me be an instrument of grace, peace and love.

So, my life is in transition. I must say goodbye to people I dearly love. My time at West Heights has been blessed in so many ways, we have laughed together, cried together, worked together and served together. In the midst goodbyes, I will begin preparing in expectation what God will be doing in this next chapter in my life.

Truly, I am graced to serve.

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Gratitude and Grief

Today is All Soul’s Day. It is the end of the three-day period that begins with Halloween. Most non-Roman Catholic churches don’t honor or celebrate All Soul’s Day. This day is the catch-all for “all faithful who have departed.” The Roman Catholic (and Orthodox) traditions have a strict definition of saints, where other churches do not. So saints and souls and sinners don’t have to be divided.

Today allows me some time to ponder grief and gratitude. Since November in my religious tradition begins with remembering those who have died and ends with the cultural holiday of Thanksgiving, grief and gratitude seem tied together. In my understanding as a pastor, I have always put those two together as I work with families to plan memorial and funeral services. Those gatherings lend themselves to both expressions of the human experience.

Personally, the anniversary of my mother’s death falls between those dates as well. Facebook does a tremendous job of reminding me. Not that I would need reminding, particularly. Many small things come along that send my mind racing back to those final days.

Yesterday in worship, the gospel reading came from the beatitudes with this verse included:


In the first moments of grief, it usually doesn’t feel like a blessing. It can, particularly if death took a long time and the loved one transitioned inch by inch. Sooner or later, grief comes hard and fast and with a deep ache. Then comes the moment and moments when it doesn’t hurt so much. The sadness is not a constant shadow that stalks day in and day out. THEN, then the blessings come and the gratitude.

At that time and season, the memories comes with smiles and laughter and not so many tears. Grief transitions to gratitude as we become able to say thank you again and again to the gifts our loved ones have left behind: stories and sayings, laughter and love, values and faith. Our grief and our gratitude becomes a witness, a tribute to our memories. On this All Soul’s day I continue to be thankful for the many saints and souls that have gone before me. Their memories, their laughter, their love and their unique and unrepeatable spirits continue to be part of my spirit.

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