Laughing as I sneak this in under the wire

Well, not quite… it’s December 1 by about 15 minutes here in the Eastern time zone, and I’ve not posted my November 30 NaBloPoMo post. Thus, I shall pretend I am in God’s time zone (Central, of course) to write up a quick little something. 

Last night I laughed.

This is not an odd occurrence.  I laugh a lot.

I know I contribute some nervous laughter into the world, and bored laughter.  And the kind of laughter used to diffuse a really tense conversation (non-anxious laughter?). I am pretty sure, though, that most of my laughter comes from an honest place.

There was a point in my life a few years ago when I didn’t laugh much. It was a really difficult stretch for me as a mom, wife and seminary student. So much of what was happening around me was chaotic and scary and farther outside my control than I knew things could go.

And then one day, I laughed. I laughed until I cried. And then I laughed some more.

Not because things were better, but because I had been in the presence of someone whose joy became my joy. And my heart remembered how to find the updraft of hope and open its wings, gliding by faith on the breeze.  It was a small thing, a brief moment, but friends noticed.

It was good to hear your laugh again. I’ve missed it.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a new friend.  No really, we met and were instantly friends. And as I prepared to leave, he said to me, Stay in touch. I need your laugh. 

Last night, my school chums and I finally were all on the phone together again. For hours. This is what happens when you go too long between conference calls with people you love.

We laughed.
We shared some hard stuff.
We laughed some more.

Because sometimes you need to hear the laughter of people you love.
And sometimes you need to laugh with the people who know why you cry.

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Naming and Blogging

NaBloPoMo Day 28: Explain the name of your blog or regular writing venue.  I think this might actually have been meant for yesterday, and I’ve reversed it for today’s prompt. Ah well…

I first named my blog “Clever Titles Need Not Apply”, but when I joined the RevGal blog ring, I noticed a similarly titled blog and decided to go another route.

The URL name is a play on my initials… Elby = LB, so I thought I might as well play with my last name on the Title version.  I have lost count of the ways I’ve heard it mispronounced since I married into the Viau name.

It’s actually fairly simple… Vee-Oh.  You say the names of the two vowels that don’t actually appear in my name.  But I’ve heard folks try to rhyme it with Meow and Mow or Pow. Sometimes they’ll give up after Vee- and pause, then just kind of spell it out slowly, as if saying the letters by name was normal.

My favorite has always been the attempts closest to view (run together or two syllables).  Partly because I like the idea of a name being an invitation to take a look.  Thus, the “Viau from Here” is a place for me to share my point of view, perspective, and general outlook on life.

Left Behind, Forgotten, Underrated

NaBloPoMo Day 27: Say a little something about the most underrated Bible passage/verse.

 Hmmm…. this is a little tricky. Entire chunks of scriptures go unread and ignored except by those hardy souls who are dedicated (perhaps even obstinate?) enough to follow through on those cover-to-cover Bible reading plans.
There are some real gems in those “minor prophets” that are easy to misplace and rearrange in one’s internal table of contents. Job tends to provoke a lot of grumbling, despite the beauty of its poetic forms. And Ecclesiastes evokes as many “it’s sooooo depressing” descriptions as Revelation does “I don’t even” head shakes.
There are a couple of verses that have become dear to me that don’t get a ton of air time.
Zephaniah 3:14-20 is a glorious sample of God’s promises to the faithful remnant (which he describes a few verses earlier).  But 3:16-17 contain such rich imagery: the mighty warrior who rejoices with singing, who loves and fights with equal ferocity on behalf of the beloved.
and
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 where we are reminded of the wisdom of sticking together. And that sticking together with God at the center is the best.

Full

NaBloPoMo Day 26: poem… Write a poem for the day… About anything… Any poetic form.

Floats and Balloons carrying expectations of sales and traffic
Newspapers swollen three times their size
Pretend families eat perfect meals and find perfect bargains
On every channel
Projecting want, hunger, desire

But I am already
Content
Aware
Loved

Full

Stereo-atypical

NaBloPoMo Day 25: How do you crush a stereotype of your gender/sexual expression/race/denomination/nationality?
Sadly, I am not sure that I crush any stereotypes. I might muddle a few, given that my swing between work worlds theologically. And maybe I stretch expectations a bit…

 I am far from the only woman pastor, though I am the first to hold the position at my church.

Many women play guitar, wear Chuck Taylors and opt out of wearing makeup. 

Lots of women ride motorcycles these days, and I have seen others who eschew pink or blingy  accessories for masculine watches and phone cases.

But I did find that my study needed some softer, more feminine touches if it was going to reflect me and not all the men who had filled the shelves before me. 

Mostly I just am who I am. And I am thankful that I feel more freedom to make those choices now than ever before. That may be the closest I get to crushing any kind of stereotype. 

Giving Thanks for My Peeps

NaBloPoMo Day 24 – not following the prompt today, but posting some thoughts on giving thanks for and with my community of faith. This is a little note I sent my congregation (at least, the ones on email) today. 

The apostle Paul starts many of his letters with greetings that include a note of thanks… not only for hospitality or for the support of the people and churches he is writing, but also for his memory and experience of them.

It’s a difficult thing to describe, but I think we’ve all felt it. We give thanks at the thought of others because when we begin a relationship, people become a part of who we are and how we experience life. This is even more pronounced when that relationship is built on the foundation of our shared experience of Christ.
I was thinking today about how my family’s Thanksgiving table will be much smaller than in past years, only the four of us. No friends, no extended family. Just me, Mom, my sister A and the hubby. And yet, when I think about how many more people I carry in my heart this year than last, my table grows exponentially.
And like Paul the letter-writer, I can honestly say that I give thanks each time I think of you.
I give thanks for the laughter we have shared as we continue to learn not to take ourselves so very seriously.  I give thanks for the tears we have shared as we said goodbye to dear ones whom we will miss at our holiday celebrations. I give thanks for the prayers and the exhortations, for the celebrations and hard conversations that have happened in the year during which I have been in your midst. And I am deeply, deeply grateful for the grace extended in all of it.
Here is my exhortation to you today – You are loved by a God who cannot help but pour out goodness and mercy in abundance. Be still this week and rest in that truth. Then let your heart sing and shout a prayer of thanks!
I hope to do just that with many of you tomorrow evening – bring a lawn chair and join us in the pavilion out back. If you’ve got a spare chair bring it along to share. If the weather gets bad, we’ll meet inside. Regardless, we’ll start at 5:30 and will finish before 6:30, so you can get home and bake or baste or watch a ballgame.
Much love and many blessings,
Pastor Laura

That *Other* Vocation

NaBloPoMo Day 23: What’s your alternative vocation? Maybe you did it before or you plan to do it after or you’ve done it in between or you do it in your dreams.

I am and always have been a teacher/coach. For five years, that was my actual job title, but it’s always been my vocation. It has shaped the way I lead teams and committees (and now my session). It has a direct impact on the way that I preach and lead worship. It certainly helps me approach Christian Education with confidence – especially when I can draw on my training in educational psychology and developmental processes.

And when I think about the years I spent in the classroom and the gym, I can see how my approach to caring for and pushing my students and athletes (on my good days anyway) was similar to the way I care for and push folks in my congregation to keep growing spiritually.

 

 

 

New Year-ish Resolution

NaBloPoMo Day 22: What’s your spiritual resolution for Year C?  

Since today is Christ the King or Reign of Christ and next week is Advent 1, we are heading into a new liturgical year! 

I want to explore more deeply into other streams of theology. I was raised in a fairly middle-of-the-road (perhaps bland?) theological tradition. I was explosed to both the justice and the salvation inherent in Christ’s coming and teaching, but without a great call to action…

I have been introduced to a range of reformed theologians and read some of them more deeply, but this feels like a season of change in the world… a season in which I need to hear from voices that are not middle-of-the-road, but speaking from experiences that are different from my own. Speaking from places I have not been and cultures I have not yet met.

If you’ve got ideas for places to start, please drop them in the comments!

Chores done and undone

NaBloPoMo Day 21: Which chore (work or home) gives you the most satisfaction to complete? (Which one do you put off for as long as possible?)

I love getting the laundry done, even just for one day. Partly because I LOATHE the sock-matching part, so when it is all done and put away and hanging… it just feels so very good.

I dread my voicemail. Somehow it is worse than email. Maybe because I know that the people who know me will email me before they call, so the voicemail can only mean something complicated on the horizon. And some people’s name in the “from” slot on email cause the same level of dread. Of course, it’s usually nowhere near as bad as my imagining…

Back online. But not.

There is something to be said for being offline for several days, including access to news, unless the news you come back to is so big and heart-rending that it feels as though the world has been knocked a-kimbo.

We were only marginally aware of the bombings in France while we were in Cuba. Partly a function of the language barrier, but mostly because we were in buildings without TVs and radios, meeting with people in homes and churches and restaurants.

I’m still not altogether certain I could talk with any certainty about what is going on in the world because even as I dipped my toe back into news and social media, it felt unreal. My heart and mind are still processing another world. A world filled with completely different words and people and food and worship and scenery and buildings and churches and homes and cars…

I need to engage in the reality of this world, but I don’t want to put at risk those first still tenuous connections I have been made to that world, to those dear ones.

 

I don’t want to stop thinking in Spanish so that I can tell those sweet sisters how much their work, and cooking and care for us meant. So that I can tell our dear brothers that the hard world moving furniture and fixing water lines was seen and appreciated. So that I can love them each by pronouncing their names properly and meet their efforts at English somewhere in that beautiful in-between.

I don’t want to forget the honesty with which they shared their grief and pain and struggles. They have been separated from my own for too long by my government and by my ignorance.

Maybe in a few days I will have room for more pain and grief and anger. But for now, I kind of want to be quarantined.