New Life

Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and culminating with Easter Sunday, is the pinnacle of the Christian year. Theologically the events of Holy Week – the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – are at the core of the Christian religion. Specifically, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, defines the Christian Faith. Without Jesus being raised from the dead into new life there would be no Christianity. Every year we remember these world changing events in various worship services through the sacraments, dramatizations, music and symbols. For many pastors and church leaders this is the busiest and sometimes most challenging week of the year. We want the multiple services we plan and prepare and the multiple sermons we preach to do justice to the events leading up to and including Jesus’s death and resurrection. This is serious and sacred ground we tread during Holy Week.

This year Holy Week and Easter held a new, additional challenge for me. On Tuesday of Holy Week I had the difficult task, along with my sister, of telling my 99 year old dad that he could no longer drive his car or live in his home. For many aging adults these two eventualities happen well before the age of 99 years and 9 months, but my dad is a unique exception. He has stayed relatively healthy and very independent and active. He still bowls in two leagues, attends church every Sunday, makes hospital visits and until very recently was working out at his local wellness center every day. He is an inspiration to many people in his community, in his family and beyond. Two recent car wrecks and the diagnosis of congestive heart failure culminated in the difficult decision made by my self and my siblings.

In a week when I typically wrestle with preaching the message of sacrifice, suffering, death and resurrection, I found that wrestling match to be far more personal this year. I felt like I was placed in the position of judge, jury and executioner of my dad’s independence. When my dad entered the hospital one week earlier, he had no idea that he would not be returning to his home where he has resided for the last 38 years. Even though this decision is in his best interest and made out of love for him, the death of one’s independence is never easy. Sitting and looking my dad in the eye and handing down this death sentence, of sorts, was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

As I prepared for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter services with this personal grief as a backdrop, I was bolstered and encouraged by the knowledge that my dad is a faithful Christian. He knows about resurrection. He knows that whatever he is going through that he is not alone and that Jesus died out of love for him. One of the messages I often preach at Easter is that resurrection occurs throughout our life and not just when we are raised with Christ after our physical death. Every loss, every grief, every death we experience in this life is an ending that marks a new beginning – resurrection, new life.



In the last week I have watched new life springing up all around. I have seen it in the baby birds, the bees on the dandelions, the bluebonnets in a neighbor’s yard, the redbud blossoms and the iris in my yard and the sweet fragrance of lilies that filled the sanctuary on Easter morning. All these signs, in tandem with the joy of Easter worship yesterday, have reminded me that new life is possible even for my almost 100 year old dad. He was able to go bowling last Thursday and even rolled a 171 in one of his games. His new assisted living residence is right next door to a United Methodist Church where he worshipped on Easter. While I know he will probably be grieving the loss of his car and independent living for some time, he is already embracing new life. My dad has said for many years that he wants to live to be 139, but if he leaves the world today it’s been a great ride and if heaven is anything like life here has been, it’s going to be wonderful! Thanks be to God that my dad knows what lies ahead. Because Jesus overcame death and because he lives, we have nothing to fear and everything to look forward to – new life in this life and the next.


In God’s Time

Eleven years ago this month I submitted my resignation from public school teaching. I had considered teaching as a calling on my life. Since falling in love with teaching young children in my 20s, I had spent over twenty years teaching in both private and public schools. But God came tapping on my shoulder, whispering in my ear and finally placing an assurance in my heart that God had another plan, a second calling for the next stage of my life.After receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 2010 I was appointed by the United Methodist Church as pastor of a small, struggling, rural church in North Texas. I am currently in my fifth year of serving that church.

Leaving a secure teaching position and a career I loved at the age of 48 and pursuing a brand new career in professional ministry has been one incredible journey. I have learned so much about myself, others, life, death, resurrection and God. It is a journey I bravely undertook having no idea what lay ahead, but fully trusting that God would guide my feet and would hold my hand each step of the way.

Serving as the first female pastor of a rural church and being unmarried as well, has had its own unique challenges. My congregation has been nothing but supportive and loving to me, but turning a dying church around and leading it to become a healthy, thriving church once again has been a slow and sometimes difficult process.

Patience has not always been one of my virtues. However, as a teacher, every year, over the course of ten months I saw huge growth and progress in my students. Throughout the school year and particularly at the end of every year, I could see the fruits of my labor. My experience as a pastor in seeing fruit, has been quite different. I have planted many seeds through my preaching, teaching, leading worship, pastoral care and involvement in the community. Many of those seeds are at last beginning to produce fruit, but the waiting has tested my patience. Galatians 6:9 has become a guiding verse for me:
“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.”
Throughout the last eleven years God has faithfully walked this journey with me and has often surprised me when I have struggled with self-doubt.

I have the great fortune of living in a lovely parsonage owned by the church. Years ago one of the former pastors and his wife planted many varieties of bulbs and other flowering plants. My first spring in this house I was wonderfully surprised by the beautifully flowering bulbs. Each year since, some new plant or bulbs have flowered that did not bloom the previous year. Each time it is a wonderful surprise and I marvel at why those particular flowers have layed dormant for so long.
Each year in the front yard the green leaves of bulbs appear around two different trees and a clump in the middle of the yard. Each year I wonder what kind of bulb they are and each year none of them have bloomed. This morning on this unusually warm February morning God surprised me with this gift.

Like many of the biblical, spiritual seeds I have planted in my congregation, in God’s due time they will bloom. It may take years and it may be at some future date when I am no longer around, but today I know with assurance that the seeds I have planted over the last five years and the ones I continue to plant will one day bear fruit.