My mom, part 2 – The Reverend

Last week ended up being too full to get this part 2 post wrapped up and sent out, but I didn’t forget about it! If you missed Part 1, check it out here – it’s a few snapshots of my relationship with my mom and is a great setup for today’s post.

I’ve been a pastor’s kid my whole life. Someone once asked me if it was strange that it was my dad up on the platform preaching, and my response was, “No, because it’s always been that way. It feels more strange when it’s NOT him.” When I moved away from home and those conversations came up about who we were and where we came from, I almost always answered that my parents were pastors. Many would exclaim, oh really?! They’re BOTH pastors?! And I would correct them and say, “well, technically, my dad is the pastor, but they’re both so integral to the running of the church that I see them as a unit, pastoring the church.”

IMG_8396This past week, my mom made it official – she is now an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God. In addition to her decades of real-life ministry experience, she took classes at night and over weekends to fulfill the requirements: classes on theology, biblical history, and leadership. She did this in addition to her full-time job and her role as worship leader at our church, all while still showing up as a wife, mother, and grandmother. My dad gave her the pulpit several Sundays to give her time to practice preaching and teaching and finding her own voice. Watching her pursue this goal and watching my dad support her in it has been life-giving to me as their daughter in innumerable ways.

I may write something a little later that fleshes out my thoughts in a more general manner regarding credentials and ordination of women and what it all means. There are interesting conversations happening around this subject, and I may dive in sometime.

But today – it’s really about my mom and my daughters. I’ve heard it said that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” It occurred to me last Monday that my daughters are seeing a woman step up into roles of leadership and pastoral authority and to them, it feels obvious. It is the next step. They won’t think it’s odd to hear their grandmother preach – they’re growing up with it. We adults all felt the gravity of the moment. There were tears through the smiles. In these days, in this society, with our history, my mom’s ordination MEANS something.

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Family row at the service – forgive the lighting

I tried to explain a little bit of the significance to my daughters but truly it was foreign to them that some would (and will continue to…) find this step offensive. They really didn’t get it – and for that I’m thankful. While I do want them to understand the history that we stand on, I’m grateful that this moment was one of simple celebration for them.

It was such a pleasure going to the ordination service. There were about 30 other people getting ordained that night and watching the diversity of age, gender, and race walk up to the podium was very meaningful. There were at least two married couples who had gone through the process together and were being ordained together. It is our network’s 100th year anniversary this year, so the service was extra special and drew national leaders to the stage. These new leaders were charged with some excellent (and challenging!) remarks by our General Superintendent Dr. George Wood. IMG_8390

As a participant in the service, I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the future of at least our small corner of the church world. There is so much pain and brokenness going on in the church. Last week’s service didn’t change that and won’t heal the wounds overnight. But I couldn’t help but begin to see a rising tide of sound, strong leaders taking their place.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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Proud granddaughters. My little one wouldn’t stop hugging her! #allthefeelings

 

A two-part #WCW: My mom

The next two week’s #WCW will be dedicated to my mom. We’re coming up on Mother’s Day and she has a big professional milestone around the corner so I wanted to give some extra space for that!

Next week, my mom will be ordained as a minister in the Assemblies of God. She’s been working towards this step for several years and I couldn’t be prouder. I’m taking my big girls at least to the ordination service and next week’s #WCW will be much more about that side of things.  This week will be mainly about the mothering side – childhood memories and the ongoing relationship of an adult relationship with my mom, and next week I’ll brag on her other “outside the home” accomplishments. What follows are some snapshots – a few memories that try (and will fail) to capture a lifetime of moments.

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no bedhead pictures – but this smile is the one I think of while singing that song…

Childhood:  I’m sleeping and my mom pops in the bedroom and starts singing in a loud whisper voice – “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory! Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory” – then her voice increases to a regular tone and she almost shouts the last phrase – “RISE AND SHINE AND [clap] give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord!”  We didn’t use alarms – my mom preferred to greet we non-morning-loving people with overly cheerful and peppy songs! It makes me giggle remembering shuffling out to the breakfast table with eyes barely open with the soundtrack of my mom’s voice in the background.

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Senior Prom – the only teenager picture I could find of me and my mom…

Teenager: It was the weekend of my 16th birthday and my mom had driven me several hours away to a softball tournament.  In the middle of one of the games, my teammates stood up and started singing Happy Birthday to me and then my mom told me it was time to leave. I had no idea what was going on – I left in the middle of the game!! She told me she had already cleared it with the coach and that she just needed me to trust her.  We head out in to the parking lot and she throws me the keys to drive home. I’m in shock, as I’m still in the learning phase and wasn’t sure she quite trusted me. In the next 2 minutes, I gave her cause NOT to trust me driving, when I turned too much pulling out of the spot and slammed in to the car next to us. Yes, my first ‘accident’ was pulling out of a parking spot. I’m pretty sure my mom shrieked, but then just calmly came around to my side and switched places with me, leaving a note on the car that we hit to call us for any damages, and drove home. Fairly quickly her annoyed attitude shifted to excitement and she tried to draw me out of my ashamed sheepishness. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had invited several of my friends to the symphony playing at Constitution Hall downtown and we were going to be getting home just in time for me to shower and change into something nice. She was dropping all these little hints about what I should do when I got home – and I was so confused because none of them were related to my driving disaster! I actually still don’t even know what happened with that, because once we got home it was all party time. She graciously allowed me my moment and didn’t allow it to squelch the day’s fun.

 

Adulting – I had just had my first baby. We’d been home for a few days and my mom was about to leave to go back home. My husband came home, a bit shell-shocked, to tell me that his chain of command had decided that instead of remaining behind as the commander of the rear detachment, as had been the plan leading up to my delivery, he was now going to be deployed with the rest of his company to the Middle East for an indefinite number of months.  I remember vividly seeing my mom on the couch, hearing this devastating news, and then literally crawling into her lap. I for sure didn’t fit there any more, but it was the only place I could figure out to go. I just bawled there for a bit and she let me cry it out. Then, we started figuring out how we would handle it. It would be ok, we decided. We could do this. THANKFULLY, the powers that be came to their senses and changed their minds. We didn’t have to figure it out. But I’ll never forget that moment of crawling back in to my mom’s lap like a little kid and her letting me, and then helping me get back up on my feet.

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Mom and Becca admiring a fish I caught. Several months post-breakdown

These are such short moments in a lifetime of fun, surprising, and calming ones. Love you mom!

Local Business #WCW – Play, Work, or Dash

It’s been awhile since I highlighted an outstanding woman in my circle for #WCW.  I’ve got one for you today PLUS a teaser about some new things coming down the pipeline for me.

If you don’t already know this about me, I have four children with a large age gap between numbers 3 and 4. Just when I was beginning to think about starting back up a career again after being home (for the most part) with the kids for 12 years, I found out I was pregnant with baby number 4. One of the things that I remember my husband saying to me during those early weeks (okay months) of reeling with the news was that we didn’t have to do things the same way this time. He was supportive of me continuing the journey of what I’d already started – figuring out what I want to do when I grow up, pursuing opportunities, etc.

But, HOW??? For real? Well, when Michael was a few months old, I learned about a new place in our area, called Play, Work, or Dash that was offering a unique solution to moms like me.

The founder of PWD is Nicole Dash; she and her little community over there at PWD are my #WCW for today.  This spot is so wonderful and has been an incredible asset to my life these past several months. Here’s the basic concept – it’s a co-working space with childcare.  There’s a cute office suite over in Tysons – you walk in, drop your kids (ages 9 months up to 8 years old) in the lovely playroom that is staffed with great childcare workers, and head out in to the lounge area to do some work, or upstairs to the shared office space. Upstairs is a kitchen with snacks and coffee, multiple workstations with outlets, a printer, and miscellaneous office supplies. There’s also a conference room that you can book for meetings or just reserve to have even more quiet space to work.

If all of that wasn’t enough to radically open up the possibilities of pursuing my career options, Nicole also began offering workshops to her members. Each one of these that I have been able to attend have been very worthwhile. I’ve gained skills that helped me in some of my volunteer roles, my paid jobs, and also just overall with managing my life.

I’m so grateful to Nicole and to the other women entrepreneurs I’ve met at PWD for having the courage to pursue their dreams. It’s been such an inspiring thing to learn about all these people in my area pursuing very interesting careers in various industries.  I love the little community you’re building at Play, Work, or Dash – the sense of camaraderie and “me too” of young moms trying to do life around the chaos of toddlers and preschool, the environment of empowerment without competition.

That saying of a rising tide lifting all boats rings very true at Play, Work, or Dash – I see women being able to go ahead and take on that new client, get back to doing what they love, or start a new thing.

As for me – I am starting a new thing. I’ll talk more about it another day. There is lots of background as to why, how, and when I’m starting this new thing. But one very large reason I went ahead and took the plunge is because of the air I breathe at Play, Work, or Dash – parent-honoring, business-savvy, child-loving air.

Thank you Nicole!

 

#WCW – International Women’s Day Edition

Well, I haven’t written in almost a month! Things got busy around here. I was going to skip today too because my head is just spinning a bit from other things going on, but then I saw that today is International Women’s Day! I have to highlight someone on this day!

So, today I’ll tell you about my daughter, who is rapidly becoming a woman in her own right. She turned 14 last month and today she had quite the milestone of getting her braces off! Ugh, now she’s even more beautiful.

Parenting is such a funny experience. It all happens right in front of your nose so you don’t really see what’s happening. Then you look at a picture from a baby album, or remember how old you are, or write on the invitation to the birthday party the age of your kid and the reality smacks you upside the head. She is growing up! She is not a baby anymore! All the things they said when she was a toddler are true! “It goes so fast.” “The days are long but the years are short.” “This too shall pass.”

22431_301334152450_5771074_nYep, we conquered teething and sleeping through the night, potty training and not eating poisonous things from under the sink. She does NOT still use her binky (phew!)

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I no longer worry about her having separation anxiety or whether she’ll learn to tie her shoes. She’s spent the night away from me too many times to count. She eats her vegetables and makes her bed. We’ve moved on from Dora the Explorer to Harry Potter. The milestones just keep piling up.

She’s an amazing daughter and I’m so excited to watch her turn into a lovely young woman. Next year she heads to high school and while I simply cannot imagine time going any faster than it already does, I know that it, too, will ZOOM. So, I’ll share some hopes I have for your future while I have this moment. (Your baby brother is currently very happily banging on an empty coffee can. This could go on for MINUTES!)

I hope you always believe the TRUTH about yourself – that you are talented, intelligent, creative, beautiful, full of potential, worthy of love, and loved immensely by your family and by God.

I hope you continue to surround yourself with friends who support you and who you support. Girlfriends are life – treasure them! Bring them over for dinner – we love your friends and we love a home full of girls’ laughter.

I hope you take time to pursue your dreams and passions. Go to school. Travel (just always call me when you get there, ok??) Try something crazy. Enjoy the adventure of your life. We’ll always leave the light on for you.

I hope you know you are more than your GPA, your transcript, your list of activities and accomplishments, your eventual college acceptance. Your achievements will be so important, but they’re not everything.

I hope you’ll remember you come from a line of strong women. We support you and cheer you on. Your grandmothers and great grandma are women who have not always walked easy roads, but who have gained resilience from walking those roads with dignity. Their legacy is an amazing one and I’m so glad you get to know them. I hope you keep up your own relationship with them as you grow older.

I love you my sweet girl. You and your sisters and brother fill me with such hope for our future. Happy International Women’s Day!

 

The women who’ve helped me love Jesus more, a #WCW post inspired by the IF: Gathering

I didn’t have time last week to get out a #WCW post.  (See all the others here) I had planned initially to spend last week’s #WCW on the IF: Gathering team. The IF:Gathering is an event/movement that has really influenced my spiritual journey for the past couple of years. I admire the whole team and I think I will at some point write more about them and how their obedience to God has shifted much in my own life.

But for today – I’m shifting the focus a bit. You see, at this year’s gathering, discipleship was a huge focus. And by discipleship, I refer mainly to this process  – show people how to love Jesus more so they’ll love Jesus more and teach others to love Jesus more and on and on. We were encouraged at the end of the weekend to use a tile and write some names on it. On the back side of the tile we were supposed to write the names of people who had helped us love Jesus more. On the front side we were supposed to write down names of people we wanted to mentor/disciple/teach to love Jesus more.

So, I wrote down a few names, and today I’d like to tell you about them. All of these women probably deserve their own #WCW post; and that will probably happen too one of these days. For now – the small highlights of a long journey of faith.

My mom – Brenda Burns

My mom has been showing me how to love Jesus since the beginning. There are numerous stories to share of her faithfulness, but one conversation sticks out to me. I was in a frustrating season of not knowing what I wanted to do when I grew up (even though I was kinda already grown up, having been married for about 6 years and having two small children…) I asked her – do you ever feel like you’re there? Like you’re doing that thing you’re supposed to be doing for forever? And she surprised me by saying, “No!” But she didn’t stop there – she explained how she’d learned what a gift God has given us as women and mothers to continually be able to change our goals due to the very practical and logistical realities that we have in our lives as moms of young children. Her saying that and me remembering all the twists and turns her life had taken showed me what it means to trust God with it all.  She also showed us that loving Jesus is FUN – I have so many fond memories of being silly while singing songs about Jesus, or giggling at the funny pronunciations of hard to say Bible names or scripture verses. She made it clear that loving Jesus wasn’t restricted to formal sitting in the pew times, but that it infected every part of her life.

Laura Belcher – College IV staff

Laura was my InterVarsity staff worker while I was in college. We had some very fun and sweet times together. One particular time stands out.  In the spring of my last year, it was time for us as the IV student leadership team to meet together and pray about the next year’s team.  This process was very very tough on me. Most of the people involved in the application process were my closest friends and while no one was maligned or disparaged in any way, we did have difficult conversations about their weaknesses and strengths. After that very intense day, I just could not go back to my dorm room. So, even though Laura had had a long day herself hosting 6 college students in her home all day, she drove me to blockbuster (yes.) and we rented a Disney movie. Because sometimes what you need is a fun movie and yummy popcorn to know that Jesus loves you! Thank you Laura for being there for me!

Danine Klinner

Danine showed up in my life shortly after my husband and I moved to Germany. Danine showed me the real meaning of hospitality and real friendship. She let me in to her life and showed up for me and Tom in such a deep way. She was there for me when I had my first baby and again when I had my second baby. She was the big sister I never had growing up and sometimes a surrogate mom while I was on the other side of the world from my own.  She’s the one who told me everything would be fine when I was first-time mothering and freaking out about everything Becca did (or didn’t do).  She showed me that loving Jesus meant giving generously without ever asking for anything in return. It meant showing up, even if you didn’t have anything but your presence to offer. It meant never leaving someone to go it alone even if they pretended everything was ok. Danine, your love for Jesus has had so many ripples in my family. Thank you.

These women (and many others too) have had a dramatic impact on my life and the way I follow Jesus and I’m so, so thankful.

 

#WCW Week 4 – the one, the only, Debs

I just noticed something the other week that’s kinda funny. My two best high school friends have birthdays just one month apart. And my college buddies’ birthdays are all clustered in a few months pretty close together too.  Today you get to meet another third of the JMHS Triumverate – Deborah.  It will be fun to introduce you all to my college buddies close together as well when their birthdays are all coming 🙂

So, Debs. Katherine (from Week 2) brought us together at youth group sometime during our freshman year. The three of us stuck close throughout all of high school, stayed in touch during college and were in all of each others’ weddings.  As more and more time passes since those teenage years, I marvel at how we’ve been able to remain close all this time. I do not take it for granted.

But let me tell you about Deborah. As I was pondering what to say, the line from Dirty Dancing popped into my head – “Nobody puts baby in a corner.” That’s how I feel about Deborah; you think you’ve got her figured out and fitting into whatever stereotypical box you have for her and then she pops out and surprises you with something else.  When I met her, I mainly understood she was in the drama crowd and enjoyed singing and musical theater. I thought I knew what kind of person that was. But then, we would play capture the flag or something at youth group and this hyper-competitive, funny-trash-talking side came out and it totally flipped things on me. I was like, wait! who are you? She was an athlete – swimming on the swim team all four years of high school, while simultaneously performing in most of the HS dramas and taking on performances with other theater companies in the community. She was equally at home leading with me at Fellowship of Christian Athletes as she was in full ball gown wowing us all with her powerful soprano.  She also never took herself too seriously. (Great story – we totally pranked our youth group at camp one year. She came out in her Madrigal gown and I had dressed in black formals as a piano accompanist. It was skit night and all we said was that we wanted to perform a song.  We were the song leaders at youth group, so I’m sure they just thought we were going to sing a new youth group song or something. But, when we came out like that, you could almost see the cringing. I started up on the piano with some fancy sounding arpeggio and then Deborah started singing in her best operatic voice. Except we performed the extremely silly DC Talk chorus of “Jesus Freak.” It was great. A huge sigh of relief went out from the crowd as they realized it was ok to giggle at us. I wish there were video. Kinda. Actually, it’s great that was before the age of smartphones.)

She never brought a normal lunch to school – there were no peanut butter or ham sandwiches. Sure, she brought leftovers – but it was always something like tikka masala or baba ganoush (before any of us knew what it was). While the rest of us were daydreaming about sleeping in on a weekend, she was furiously perusing the weekend section of the Washington Post looking for a fun show to attend. She’s never been satisfied with just going with the flow and following the script.

So I guess it wasn’t too surprising to me or Katherine when she came back from a “short-term” missions trip telling us she had fallen in love with a Nigerian man while in India and they were going to get married and live in South Africa. I remember her telling us this and kinda expecting maybe shock and dismay, but getting delight and “of course you are” from us.

And guys – she is doing the real stuff over there!! She and her husband are running an amazing ministry there called Living Springs Faith Ministries, where they are dedicated to the transformation of the townships in and around Cape Town, South Africa.  Their community development efforts are exciting, and challenging, and rewarding. Deborah and Gabriel are the real deal. They have two beautiful children, one of whom has some special needs that have made living far away from their extended family very, very difficult. But, in true Deborah form, she has tackled this challenge like every other thing in her life – with tenacity, grace, and incredible outside the box thinking.

Because of her challenges with her own son, she’s been able to advocate for missionary families and try to communicate with people ‘back home’ on the special accommodations that some families need to live out their purposes.  She’s also never lost sight of the things that are important to her. While parenting two small children halfway across the globe from her family and working to get a non-profit up and running, she completed a master’s degree. Wow!

Debs – you are a treasure. Your willingness to go wherever you’re called and serve your family however they need you in that moment without ever losing sight of who God has said you are is an inspiration. Hugs from the other side of the world and thank you for letting me tell my circle about you.

#WCW Katherine the Great, Katie or Kate. But NEVER Kathy or Kay

I’m so super late writing this one out, but it’s still Wednesday! Today I’ll be bragging on my friend Katherine. I met her at freshman orientation at James Madison High School. Actually, she met me, after introducing herself to my mom, behind whom I was literally hiding, because I was a shy, scared to death 13 year old at the time.  (KJ – does this count as a meet cute? I say yes) She sought me out because my mom was reading a book she liked and was brave enough to actually say hello to strangers. After I got over my dread of everything new, Katherine quickly became my best friend in high school.

We were both pastor’s kids, loved sports, books, and history, and had a penchant for falling in love with youth group boys. It was a match made in heaven.

There are too many things to say about her for just one blog post, so here are the highlights –

She introduced me to my other high school best friend and the three of us have maintained a sweet friendship all these years.

She introduced me to my husband. (We won’t talk about the time she went with him to homecoming senior year. I’m  over it.)

When she called me to tell me she’d been hit by a car, I almost passed out from worry. I still sometimes get a little choked up when I go through a certain intersection.

She wrote letters to me in college – back when email was tedious, phone bills were extravagant and ICQ/IM was our texting service.

She is a brilliant, funny, but I have to warn you, HEARTBREAKING screenwriter. One of her films is on Amazon Prime – it’s called Touched By Grace – and you should watch it now.

She’s now a mom of 6 and is the fiercest mama bear and soccer/baseball/football mom pro out there.

She’s a loyal friend – one who can come over for chicken nuggets and mac and cheese because that’s what the kids will eat.

If you ask her to pray for something, you can count on her to actually do that; it’s not an empty gesture.

There’s a bunch more I could write, but I’ll just leave it there for now.

Love you Katherine!

(Katherine has a public Facebook page for anyone who wants to stay in the know on how she’s doing with her screenplays or just to keep up with her writing career. She’s going places so get in now 😉 Also – none of my friends know I’m doing this. I’ll let them see their post before it goes public. I just want to brag on my people and if they’ve got a public presence, I’ll share it with you!)