"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, November 05, 2018

a confession

I broke a bunch of social media rules today, by posting a confession on Twitter.

But I did think about it first.

I asked myself what I always ask myself: "Is there one single person in the entire world that I hope never reads this?" (If the answer is yes, I don't post it. That's my rule.)

And although I could think of some people that might not agree (sigh), or who might think less of me (ouch), it wasn't enough to stop me from posting it.

So I posted it.


Please don't mistake that for a complaint. We have no real complaints. It's just facts.


My parents raised me right, I assure you. I was taught to cook and clean and make my bed every day and budget and grocery shop, as well as go to school, learn, work, be ambitious.

And play the piano.

But if they're honest, my parents will also tell you that my bedroom was a constant source of angst. Heck, my very-tidy college roommate could tell you that. I don't like cleaning. Never have. It doesn't come naturally. 

But I know it's part of adult-ing. So although I definitely never came close to my sister's Stellar Level of Amazing Homemaking, The Boy and I did all right.

Most of the time.

With enough notice.



*gasp* This Is My Confession.

*hangs head in shame*


Listen - I've done all that.

I've menu-planned a month ahead. I've canned (because my aforementioned sister taught me) - tomatoes, peaches, plum preserves, salsa, pickled beets, assorted jams. I've baked my own bread. I've taken a half day to drive out of town to a butcher, to get the best quality meat, in bulk, at the best prices, to put in my freezer for the next few months. I've shopped the flyer sales. I've cooked double portions, and had casseroles in the freezer. I've grown my own vegetables and dried my own herbs. I've made my own stock.

And it's all great.

And it All. Takes. Time.

Serious Time, my friends, and nobody tells you that part.



I like people (mostly). And I like our home. And I really like my Mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm quite happy to have people, in our home, eating those cookies. But not if I have to race home first, and scrub the house down before they arrive, and then act like it always looks like this, like it's nothing.

"Oh - the fridge is gleaming?
I wouldn't notice, it's always that way.
I just use my grandmother's recipe of vinegar and baking soda
to scrub it down once a week,
with a cloth I wove myself
out of cotton from my garden."

[insert eye roll] 


No disrespect to my grandmothers. I've honoured them before. They were freaking amazing, hard-working, miracle-accomplishing women, hands-down. But they lived a different kind of life than I do.

And that's ok, right? I don't have to explain how much our world has changed in the last 100 years?

Great. Thanks.

And we women - well, not all of us, but some of us, me too, probably - we *mean* to be helpful with our "it's easy if you just" advice. And sometimes we're helpful. But sometimes we're not. 

Sometimes there aren't enough time-saving tips in the world to make me want to spend a couple of hours polishing silver. No matter how shiny it looks at the end.


Seriously. One of you looked at me over a coffee cup a year ago, and said, "What, are you CRAZY?!" And I love you for saying that. And I love another of you that gave me the name and number of the person who cleans your home. And I love another of you that opened up a whole new world to me of weekly recipes and portioned ingredients, delivered right to my door. And I love another of you to whom I confessed this secret, and who looked right back at me and said, "I've had help for years."

#NoShame


*resisting the deep urge to defend myself*


And that's all absolutely true.



End of post.

Monday, October 15, 2018

it's monday. i am well.

It's Monday.

Monday is a day when pastors often "crash". Meaning - we gave it everything we've got on Sunday, and Monday morning we wake up tired, and wonder if it mattered. Tuesdays are better again.

I don't crash nearly so often as I used to on a Monday.
I seem to have gotten better at riding out the ups and downs.
I'm thankful for that.

I saw last night that Eugene Peterson has begun receiving hospice care, and will likely be coming to the end of a long, faithful life on earth. I'm grateful for him. His memoir, "The Pastor" is one of those that shaped me. He has a beautiful way with words; and he managed to remind many of us that the daily, ongoing life of pastoring is gentle and kind and sacred. That we simply follow Jesus, and invite others to follow with us, even while navigating buildings and budgets and boards.

He will be missed.
But his has been a life well-lived.
His influence will live on.

This morning, knowing that I was crashing a bit, I dragged myself into my prayer space, not because I wanted to, but because I knew I needed to. I prayed. I read Scripture. Wept a bit. Ranted a bit. Sat silently for a bit.

Andie came too.
She likes to curl up on my lap in there.

And at the end, I realized that while my emotions were a little vulnerable, and my body was a little tired, and my brain was a little fried, and my jaw was a little sore from apparently clenching it last night, there was something deeper happening. It took me awhile to notice, because it was below the surface, and not clamouring for attention.

It was a song.

How great is our God
Sing with me, how great is our God
And all will see how great, how great is our God.

And it then blended into another song.

Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to Thee
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

And then another.

Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again

What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

And another.

You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God.

And I realized that, even on a Monday, my soul is well. Shaped by years of worshipping, of living the rhythms of our faith, of absorbing Scripture, of praying, of communing with God. The physical and emotional fatigue are real, and self-care is important, and I do all of that,

I do, I promise.

But below all of that, deeper than that - my soul is well. My life's foundation is sure. I am at peace.

Onward.


Monday, November 06, 2017

a new conversation

Ugh, I am just sickened today. And angry.

Sutherland Springs, Texas. 27 people dead. Another - another - mass shooting south of our border.

And the same conversations. Gun control vs mental health vs religion vs racism vs politics vs founding fathers vs thoughts and prayers.

We live in a world now where "thoughts and prayers" are scorned, by the way. I'm of the "DO something" ilk too, but I sure would hate to live in a society where no one even pauses to express sympathy or pray in horrible moments. I mean, I get it. People are so angry and frustrated. Nevertheless, the conversations look the same to me, circling around, going nowhere.

I'm watching for a new conversation.

There are moments in history when someone tenaciously leads a new conversation, does something different, and changes the world. William Wilberforce. Martin Luther King Jr. Agnes Macphail. Mother Teresa. William & Catherine Booth. Martin Luther.

Someone who rises above the paralyzing bickering and the helpless handwringing and the sickening politics of the day. Who is ridiculously committed to doing what is right, to finding a solution, to changing their world, no matter what.

No. Matter. What.

I'm watching for that. Praying for that.

But meanwhile, I can't simply sit on the sidelines, watching and praying.

I'm responsible for my own time and my own place in history. I can't just wait for someone else to rise up. Nor can I toss up my hands and give up on the world, withdraw into selfish preservation of what matters to me only. I don't have that option.

I'm responsible to live today, tomorrow, the next day - here and now - as a wholehearted follower of Jesus. Tenaciously doing good, loving people, welcoming the marginalized, comforting the hurting, giving generously, keeping my word, forgiving offence, calling for truth and justice, loving those who don't love me. I committed to that long ago, and it won't change.

May my world see Jesus in me today.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Thanksgiving

Yesterday (October 8), I spoke on a tough topic at our church, as part of our "What If Jesus Was A Quebecer" series. You can listen to it here, once it's uploaded, but one of the core ideas was, "Quebecers fear the return of religion."

And understandably so.

It's become quite a meaningful series (for me, anyway). A year ago, the sociological nerd in me jumped at the chance to read a current book about Quebec culture, highly recommended by two born-and-raised Quebecers. Now, a year later, unpacking how our faith interacts with that, and ending up in deeper space than I ever imagined ... well, it's meaningful.

And a little terrifying.
What business does an Ontario girl have,
talking about Quebec?!
I'm thankful for the behind-the-scenes
Quebecer focus group
that has helped to keep me on track.

Yesterday, I was amazed - AMAZED - at the overwhelming response. "Bang on, pastor ... we lived it ... my family lived it ... I'm understanding myself better through this series ... so glad to be in a church that talks about this ... so glad we are going to be a church where it's safe to make mistakes ..."

Thankful for that. 

Yesterday afternoon, we shared Thanksgiving dinner with a family that felt like our own. Lots of loud laughter, overlapping stories, a shared heart for the things that matter. (And food. Oh the food. Including turnip that tasted like apple crisp!!!)

Thankful for that. 

Today, I'm off to Evangel's Thanksgiving Community Dinner - I heard it's the 23rd year of it, I think? We expect to serve around 600 meals in 3 hours. I'm not actually needed there, because we have tons of people helping. Last year's dinner was the first time I heard the phrase, "It's what we do, pastor,' said with a matter-of-fact shrug and a smile. My goal is to be, somehow, mildly helpful while also staying out of the way of all those who know exactly what they're doing.

It's Thanksgiving weekend. And I'm thankful. I truly am. I'm thankful to be part of a church that is filled with memories, as well as dreams for the future. I'm thankful for friends and family. I'm thankful for turkey and pie. I'm thankful for the crisp-yet-warm air of a Canadian fall day.

And I'm thankful,
because that crisp fall air, every year,
reminds me of Ukraine,
and I smile,
knowing I will be there again soon.
#landilove

And so, a Thanksgiving prayer...

"My Father ... Thank You. For dreams. For history. For family.
For our church community. For friends. For our city.
For purposes that matter.
For a life filled with shared moments, and a beautiful world in which to share them.

Thank You for a roof - a lovely one! - over our heads.
Thank You for our food.
Thank You for Your loving presence in our lives, for grace,
and for the always-challenge to live better.

Be honoured through how we live today.

Amen."

Monday, October 02, 2017

about my church

Yesterday at the church I get to pastor - it's here if you're wondering - I lost count of the number of encouraging comments and feedback that came my way. And woke up to more this morning. All ages, all backgrounds. Some who have been here since nearly the beginning (Norma!) and some who were with us, literally for the first time.

From 6:40 AM, when I said the day's third "Good morning!" to a band member (the first two morning greetings were whispered quietly to Jeff and Andie, of course, who weren't quite awake), until 6 PM when we locked up and headed home, it was a GOOD DAY.

Next week is Key #4 of "What If Jesus Was A Quebecer?!" If you haven't been part of it, the REAL question is: how does our faith interact with our culture? We're using Cracking the Quebec Code as a bouncing-off point, helping us to look at the culture we're in, and then figuring out from Scripture how we might respond to or interact with that as followers of Jesus.

We've ordered in ... and sold out of ...
multiple copies of this book three times.

Truthfully - this is one of the most thought-provoking series I've ever done (for me, and apparently for many of you too). Yesterday's had a lot of silent moments.

For me too.

But the silent moments are often the important moments, the honest moments, the thoughtful moments.

They're also the uncomfortable moments.
I know.

But ... I'm grateful for those silent moments. They matter.

And ... I'm grateful for the depth of commitment and celebration that result from those moments.

When we imagine ... imagine ... if Québecers said, "When the going gets tough ... Evangel shows up! Followers of Jesus show up!" And we erupt in cheers at that thought.

When 105 of you respond immediately to say, "I'll be there! I'll help!" at our Community Thanksgiving Dinner, a week from today.

*shrug*
"It's what we do, Pastor."

On Thanksgiving Monday!!!!

I'm grateful for worship leaders, singers, band members, in-the-media-booth-ers, who went above-and-beyond yesterday to not only practice and lead two full morning services, but then ate a quick lunch, and came BACK to practice, and then lead an amazing all-worship night.

And all the other staff and volunteers
who ALSO made it all happen.
I saw you.
I'm thankful for you.

I'm grateful - just completely delighted - that a couple of other churches heard that we were having an all-worship night, and simply came to join us, without us even knowing. How great is that?!

We made some new friends.

And I was grateful to come home and take a moment with The Boy (aka Spike), to pray together, thanking God for the day.

It was a short prayer.
I happened to be holding Andie's food while we prayed,
which led to her whisper-whining while we prayed,
which made us start laughing.

Have a fantastic week, mes amis.

Monday, September 25, 2017

headlines

Mondays, the news headlines tend to hit me a little harder than other days. Likely because Sundays are high intensity, and Mondays begin slowly.

I become saddened. There's a lot of pain out there. Today I got on my knees beside my bed and prayed. For America. For Ukraine. For Germany. For Caribbean nations. For Venezuela. For Mexico.

For Canada.

For our world, beautiful and broken. We only have this one, for now. I know "this world is not my home" - but it is, at this moment. And so I grieve for its brokenness. And love its unexpected beauty. And laugh with its moments of joy.

And I pray.

God -

Be present in our world. Heal. Protect. Help. Restore. Defend. Have mercy. Bring justice.

Amen.

This week, whoever you are, whatever you believe...

Do good for someone. Even just one someone.

Show love to someone. Even just one someone.

And today,

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn his face toward you, and give you peace.

Monday, July 24, 2017

a soapbox and a sports analogy

Every now and then, I pull out a soapbox, step up onto it, delicately clear my throat, and express what's on my mind. Ever so gently.

Through a bullhorn.

Last week was one of those times.

Actually, it was two of those times.

If you missed the two written expressions of what was on my mind, they are just below this one. The first was called, "chocolate, coffee & conversations". The second was called, "this is happening".

Shorter (less-nuanced) versions
were threaded on Twitter.
@PattiTheMiller

A lot of people responded. And boatloads of people read it. Those two posts may have been my two most-read posts in all my years of blogging, by far.

Miracle-of-Note: Not one person messaged me to say that women can't or shouldn't be Lead Pastors in #PAOC.

Not.
One.
#thatsafirst

Soooooo ... this is happening.

And I'll leave you with this.

For now. You never know.
I might have more to say later.

Local churches: The ball's in your court.
District offices don't choose your pastors.
National office doesn't choose your pastors.
You do.

You.
Do.

*lowers bullhorn, steps gently off soapbox, carries on with previously scheduled day*

#NeedforLeads #yeswomencanbepastors #yesLeadPastors #thisishappening #sharefreely