Lent is Hard! I Don't Know If I Am Going To Make It by Pastor Elizabeth Miller Edmiston
Wow- the season of Lent has just flown past.
I believe Lent is more about change than it is about giving up just for the giving up. If you give up eating out, then maybe you would want to consider giving a portion of the money you saved to the church for its ministries and upkeep or to another organization that helps with something you are passionate about. I will say that I discourage from any Lenten spiritual efforts that involve food. Not because it doesn’t make a difference, but because in our country there is a lot of food insecurity and mental, emotional and physical issues attached to food. But if you take on something, such as exercising, it will be wasted effort if you don’t continue. You see, there would be no change. Would that count as a spiritual exercise?
Jake, our son, has given up being lazy for Lent. Proverbs 6:6-11 gives him good guidance on why this is a good practice for him. It means every day he does something he doesn’t want to do, in order to feel good about himself. He said it also helps him feel happier knowing that something he has been putting off is no longer hanging over his head. I wish I had thought of that. But, instead, I went down a different path.
Let me share my Lenten thoughts and experience.
My Lenten exercise has just about broken me. I gave up Amazon! My idea was this would force me to get out and interact with people who are working in the communities where my family does business. Hebrews 10:23-25 makes a point that I am trying hard to work towards. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. That was the intended goal of my challenge for Lent. But that does not mean it is the only benefit I have found.
I have not purchased anything for myself or my household from any online store, including Amazon, since February 22. I even went so far as to put my subscriptions on hold. That’s right, no quarterly shipment of my favorite shampoo no monthly shipment of Milk Bones Extra Large treat bones. It’s been hard on me and the dogs. The vet, our beloved Dr. Chapmen, was pleased at the weight loss for Brick and Cookie. Brick and Cookie are not pleased because the weight loss is directly connected to a lack of treats. No monthly case of Animal Crackers for the goats. It has made the goats very mad at me, very, Very, VERY mad. Crumbles has placed the blame for his unhappiness squarely on me.
Now yes, I am going to go back to ordering things from Amazon. I live out in the country and it can take a whole day for us to go to the store and find everything we need. BUT, I will be ordering less, asking everything to be delivered on one day each week. And that will save money, which I will be able to direct towards other projects that I care deeply about.
And the season of Lent- all the money I have saved from avoiding the siren’s song of Amazon is earmarked for two special, personal projects. But I can tell you this, both will change lives. One locally, one universally. And for me, that change is enough.
My exercise is already changing how I see my spending, my imagined needs as opposed to my real needs. And I assure you, this spiritual exercise is wearing me out and down. I just hope I can hold on and keep the animals from enacting a coup against me until April 10.
Keep up the good work! Jesus kept up the good work and made massive changes in his days on earth and our eternity. See what kind of changes you make.
It has been a sad summer for my family. My brother was killed in a car accident June 17, 2022.
He was my only sibling, and I his. And we made each other crazy! We fought over the stupidest things, we refused to be in the same room sometimes, and truthfully, when I moved to another state, our relationship improved...a little bit. As adults, we were never close. We were too different.
He claimed he could remember everything, every detail. and I claimed he was full of baloney. Even when I proved him wrong, he refused to accept it. He would try to convince me I didn't know what I was talking about.
I declared myself a private person, who was uncomfortable sharing my thoughts and plans with him. He labeled me sneaky, that I never wanted to discuss my plans with anyone, that I just went ahead and did what I thought needed doing. I admit that sometimes I don't mention what I am up to, because I don't want anyone to have input into what I am doing. I suppose to a little brother, that could come across as sneaky.
He loved to travel, going to France multiple times, and touring Europe several times, as well as visiting Island countries. But he would drive within a mile of my house and never stop to say hello.. I only travel if my husband makes the plan or if I can drive the whole way. The only traveling I willingly do is back and forth to church , and to Arkansas. But I never stopped by to see him at his house, even though I drove within 10 miles of his house. We were both stubborn. We were both ornery. We loved one another, but we never knew one another.
Since he's been gone, I have people who know us both ask me Do you feel guilty because you didn't get along, now that he's gone? What do you wish you had done? And the answer is no, I don't feel guilty and I wouldn't have done anything differently. Firstly, because if I had known he was going to be in that accident, I would have derailed his plans that night. But hindsight isn't 20/20, is is hubris in the extreme. Secondly, we had reached a peace in our relationship that made it easier for us to talk on the phone once in a while. We had a communication that fit the both of us. No, we didn't get together on holidays. Not particularly because we were mad at one another, but because we didn't want to be mad about some silly thing the other one said. I know, I know, you are thinking "Avoidance, much, Pastor?" But it wasn't about avoiding anything, it was more about appreciating our relationship for what is was. And in many ways, still is.
But now, I am a lonely child of 58. I can't say I am an only child, because I have a brother, he's just not available at the moment.
I've told you all of this because I am reading the account of Jacb and Esau coming back together after their big blowout over birthrights and inheritances. We spend an appreciable amount of time in telling the story of the bowl of stew with which Jacob purchased Esau's birthright. Was Jacob to blame for Esau's shortsightedness? Was Esau to blame for being so hungry he thought he might die?
We enjoy sharing the trickery of Jacob and Rebekah when it came to getting Isaac's blessings, even though we also say it wasn't fair of them to trick poor, blind Isaac. We even like to recount the story of Jacob's running away to save himself from Esau. But we rarely look at the way Jacob and Esau came back together. Check out Genesis 33:1-15 if you don't remember the story. Jacob divided his wives and children, afraid they might be killed and hoping to save at least some of them. But when they met, there was no violence. They met, they talked about their families, and then, they went on their way. They were never going to be close, but they had made peace with one another.
Some relationships are like that. They aren't going to be what is expected. Those are relationships that might never make outsiders admire how well you get along. But, your siblings, they know a side of you that no one else ever will. When they die, that aspect of you is gone with them. If you can reach a peace in your heart, then maybe that's the best that you can do. It's practicing an agape kind of love, Maybe you aren't going to do anything fantastic for them, or they for you, but at least you have quit hurting yourself and your sibling by trying to force each of you into something neither of you can be. "Peace be with you, JW, and also with me."
It has been a weird, painful sad summer for my family. It's also been an exciting summer with us looking forward to fall.
My brother was killed in a car accident June 17. I am still struggling to recognize that he is not in this world somewhere, doing what he did.
What did he do? My brother was a horticulturist. He had businesses, and they were all for pursuing his passions, plants, growing and bringing joy. His work crews miss him, and at the same time, it's probably nice not having someone looking over your shoulder, thinking there should have been more work done. And for my brother, that doesn't mean he saw anything undone, just that he truly always believed there was something more that could be done to serve the customer. He was also a city boy. Which is funny, when you realize he grew up in a small town, in a farming community, to a farming family. But, he loved the theater, eating out at restaurants ,
Welcome to Manor UMC, online. I have been blessed to be the pastor here for going on two years. I came to MUMC during the COVID-19 lockdown. It was definitely a weird time to begin serving a new church, but life happens, and apparently, so do pulpit appointments during pandemics.
I can't imagine any life not affected by the pandemic. I know I had friends and church members from churches where I had been on staff before. die due to the virus, I also lost contact with people who took the opportunity during the pandemic to move closer to family in other states. There just felt like all I was experiencing was heart hurting loss.
I went to school year round on-line during this time, trying to finish my Master's of Divinity. It was a weird way to travel the path to the pulpit, but I stuck with it. Of course, at that same time, I missed my school friends, my best friends, and all the people I regularly saw throughout the week, at work, in worship and just while goofing off.
But, during the pandemic, I rediscovered the sweetness of old dogs and loyalty, the excitement of watching a small flock of chicks grow, the fun of learning to get the goats to stay in the pens, and the joy of a summer symphony of crickets and frogs. We adopted a puppy during the pandemic, Duchess, who started out at 12 pounds and 6 weeks, who rapidly grew to 90 lbs and is now approaching 1.5 years. I had forgotten how fun a puppy is, even if you are froze in, with no power or water. That's what a fat puppy can do for you, help you forget your troubles.
We're back to normal now, seeing friends, going places and worshiping in person, without masks. I just hope we don't forget all we lost and found.
In the "Lost Sheep, Lost Coin and Lost Son" parables found in Luke 15 (yep the whole chapter is about losing and finding), the key points, in my mind, are to never stop looking for the important things you have lost, like peace, faith, hope, love, friendship and energy, and when you find them, do what Jesus keeps telling us "Rejoice with me. What was lost is found!" Yes, we have lost many we have loved, but we know we will find them again, in eternity. But Look What We Have Found!
Hallelujah, we have been lost, but now we are found. Ain't it amazing?