Praying with the Generations

I go to a Baptist church, and while we are more liturgical than the average Baptist church, we’re still pretty Baptist. We don’t, for example, say the Lord’s Prayer every week.

But sometimes we do, and we did on Sunday.

I like reciting prayers and creeds and Scripture passages, for the same reason I like to sing old songs.

I like to feel the weight of generations past hovering around us. I like to think about the great cloud of witnesses joining along, reminding us of our place in a long line of faithful folks struggling to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. I like to breath the it-is-well-with-my-souls, the Jesus-Christ-his-only-son-our-Lords, the give-us-this-day-our-daily-breads deeply, absorbing those patterns of speech and the poetry of my tradition so far down into my subconscious that, as happened with my grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers, those words will remain even if other pieces of my life fall away.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Link with Love

Recently I was reading a friend’s blog and saw what looked like a guitar pick that said “Link with Love” in the sidebar of the site. It’s probably not a guitar pick (you be the judge), but that’s what it looked like to me.

LINKwithlove

I  must have been wasting time that day because from her blog I ended up on another blog that also had the same guitar pick logo in the sidebar, this time in a different color.

What was that thing? I wondered.

So of course I clicked on it.

I discovered LINKwithlove, a really neat nonprofit.

You should go check out their website on your own, but since I know most of you won’t, here’s the gist of their cause in their own words:

LINKwithlove is the idea that we, the internet, can teach and learn respect when dealing with intellectual property* online. It is our dream that art, music, photography, words, design, ideas, etc – be shared in a way that is ethical, respectful, educated and kind.

As I’ve made clear before, I’m a big respecter of copyrights, so I was thrilled to know that this organization exists. They’re facilitating community in a way I hadn’t ever really envisioned, in a world quick to swipe information from the internet and not credit sources. What’s more, they’re doing it in an aesthetically beautiful manner. As a writer and artist and heck, fellow human being, I resonate with the project.

And so I promptly added their badge to my own side bar.

Because I do “link with love”–and I hope you do, too.

________________-

PS LINKwithlove also has neato free downloadable calendars for your computer’s “wallpaper.”

Real People Doing the Real Thing: Stacey

When I looked around for “real people doing the real thing” in my community, the first person I knew I had to take a peek at more closely was my friend Stacey. Stacey is an ordained minister, licensed pastoral counselor, and certified chaplain. But it’s her tireless work as program director of the Scott County Hospitality House that inspires me most. So I asked her about it. 

Take a peek and be inspired yourself.

Let's start with your story. What prompted you to start 
Hospitality House?

In 2010 I was working as the Family Resource Coordinator at a local elementary school when I became aware that we had homeless children in our school sleeping in their car. Then I began praying about it, and reflecting on the fact that children cannot possibly get a good start in school, or focus on academic work when they don’t know where they will sleep at night.  During this time, homeless children and their parents had to go to shelters in nearby cities or other surrounding counties which meant uprooting them from their schools, thus further traumatizing them.

So, after much prayer it became clear to me that this was a moral imperative and that I had to do something to help our local families remain in our own county while assisting them to transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. God had always given me a heart for the poor and a sense of solidarity with their struggles, so as I researched more about their needs, it became clear that I had to do something. Thus the creation of Hospitality House.

Continue reading

Community: Where Everybody Knows Your Great-Grandfather’s Name

I just got off the phone with my mom, who’s happily putting a puzzle together while the furnace repairman works in the next room.

When the repairman arrived this morning, she noticed that it wasn’t the guy who normally comes to work on the furnace, so she went outside, greeted him, and introduced herself.

“Oh, I know who you are,” he said. It turns out that he was from Carsonville, the local cluster of homes small enough to not really be a town though it has its own little “hotel” (i.e., bar) and, I think, an ambulance.

He continued, “I know Gram and Pap Cutman.”

Now, by “Pap,” he meant my mom’s grandfather, not my grandfather, who was also a Pap Cutman. They’ve both, however, been deceased for decades.

But what makes the story even better is that not only did he know Pap Cutman, but this repairman’s grandmother used to date my mom’s grandfather.

I kid you not.

When my mom told me this on the phone, she concluded her story by proclaiming, “Now that’s community!”

Yes, Momma. I think you’re right.

Grocery Stores: The Antitheses of Community?

I found myself at Fall-Mart on Saturday morning, standing in line at the cash register because only three lanes were open. That there would be a line on a Saturday morning I should have expected, and I shouldn’t have been so grumpy about it. I called J and left him a voicemail to say in my best frustrated voice, “Now I understand why Broger advertises We get you in and out in a hurry. Remind me of this next time I say I’m going to Fall-Mart. GRRR.” Then I hung up.

You see, when I go to the grocery store, I prefer self-checkout. And Broger lets you do self-checkout for full carts of groceries. They have a special line just for people like me! Additionally, I try to go the store at off times, especially avoiding Wednesdays, senior citizen discount day. I don’t like waiting my turn to squeeze my cart down the aisle. I know this makes me sound bratty, but it’s true.

Continue reading

Shady Gas Stations, Incarceration Facilities, & Shame on Me

Here is something you probably don’t know about me: I’m a little snobbish when it comes to gas station restrooms. If we pull up to a gas station, and it looks shady, I hold it. And I can hold it a long time, trust me.

Last week, we drove to South Carolina for my cousin’s wedding, and there were quite a few stretches of road between here and there without restroom facilities, gas station, rest area, or otherwise. So when J felt the need to warn me as he got off an exit– “There really haven’t been many options, so this will have to do”–I knew there was a chance I wasn’t going to like the bathroom that lay ahead.

Continue reading

Conferences, Prayer Meetings, and Receiving Blessings

Just before nine o’clock on Saturday morning, I was beckoned to join a circle of chairs in the lobby of a church building that used to house a Wal-Mart. I wasn’t just beckoned, actually, I was hollered at as I walked through the door, “Elizabeth, we’ve got a seat for you right over here!”

Man, I thought. People know my name around here.

So I sat down.

Oh, I didn’t mention it was a prayer circle, did I? It caught me a little off guard because I wasn’t going to the church for a prayer meeting. I was going to the church on Saturday for the third day of a conference. Yes, a conference. A conference for–wait for it–storytellers. (Now who thinks I fall into that category? Anybody?)  It was only the third day of a conference and I was getting called out by name. Goodness.

So there I found myself, at the conference-turned-prayer-meeting.

Continue reading