04 May 2010

LONG awaited update!

Dear Family Around the World,

Greetings in the Love and Grace of Jesus! I know it has been many months since my last missal; as always, thanks for your patience! One of you wrote me today an jarred me to write...I am grateful!

Friends and fellow journeymen, there has been too much that has happened since the last posting in August to tell it all here, but let me try to pick the threads as best I can…

The theme for the last year and nearly two for me has been Grace. Grace for everything. Grace for me and for all God’s creatures. It has frustrated me to tears, angered me at times, terrified me but it has held me, deeply, closely and unconditionally close to the heart of my beloved Jesus.

Let me tell the tale…

When I was about 26 I realized one day that I absolutely HATED grace. I wanted nothing to do with it. This was a shocking thought as I was leading a campus ministry at the time and preached and taught regularly – I was keenly aware that a Christian should NOT HATE grace! So I spent some weeks meditating and praying about it asking God to tell me why this was true (and I knew in my soul that it was). God was faithful and gave it to me – he told me I hated Grace because it implied I messed up SO incredibly badly that there was no cure for it. If God did not give his grace whatever the endeavor or life (mine or someone else’s) would be lost or permanently broken. It deftly hit all my perfectionist buttons and would not let me go.

I couldn’t change this about myself (hummm… imagine, not being able to give God’s grace from yourself to yourself…inconceivable! ;) ) so I asked God to teach me what Grace is and to help me to learn to love it. This was the beginning of now a 10 year discussion that was carried forward and deepened greatly by my time in Middle-East (ME) and continues to carry forward in these last few months I’ve been home.

When last we spoke I had just gotten to my first post in AFG – FOB Lightning and I was transitioning in. Well, the transitions never ended. I went to 16 different FOBs COPs or Camps during my short 5 months there. I went from being a parish pastor in KU to being a Circuit Rider (anyone remember John Wesley? Replace the horse with a helicopter…that’s the idea). Of those 16 I was able to get back to a handful of them several times. I am really good with Blackhawk helios now.

Many of you have asked or hinted at asking how much danger I was in. I was in some, I did get shot at and blown up occasionally, but there were many I ministered to who were (AND STILL ARE) in constant danger and have to bear that daily. I say this, because the grace it evoked in me was sheer ministry of the moment and ministry of presence. And I both loved it and was completely wiped out emotionally, mentally and spiritually by it. I got used to speaking truth as deeply and graciously as the person I was talking to would allow… and I finally really started to own that darned ‘gift’ of prophecy God gave me years ago…

God gave me divine appointments EVERY day. Sometimes I would be sitting in the chow hall and someone would just sit near me. We’d strike up a conversation (either by their gesture or word or mine) and I would find something God was doing in their lives – not like a ‘hard core’ evangelical discussion where I was pushing an agenda, but a Gracious discovery – it came to me, I did not need to look for it. Sometimes I got to speak the words of God’s love for them directly using scripture or other ‘God language’ but many times it was just the sheer grace of being in each other’s company and fellowship… it was enough to communicate the life, love and presence of Jesus. I was always every bit as blessed as I think/hope I blessed. God also blessed me with a few precious friends while I was there who ministered to me intentionally and unintentionally. This too was just a jaw-dropping experience of feeling the Grace of God enfold and love me.

I’ll be honest, there were times when I became so overwhelmed with EVERY kind of battle that I was surrounded by – spiritual, emotional and LASTLY physical – that about ½ way though I really felt much of my faith and hope that God could break through all this was really quite broken. But I still had love. I still absolutely LOVED Jesus in spite of being furious with him and terrified of his plans, I could still love and receive love from him. So, work with what ya got! I kept loving people. I kept preaching. I kept showing up to the places and times God invited me to. And I realized a funny thing; I really did still have faith and hope… they just were absolutely no longer dependent on me in any way, shape or form. They belonged to and came entirely from Christ himself. What humbling grace… And it was humbling… I am often arrogant enough to believe I am the agent of my own healing by the choices I make or don’t make. While I do think I have a role to play, the overwhelming evidence for me now is that Christ fights much harder and much more consistently that I can even imagine…and I have nothing to do with it; he will love me till the end of time because it is in HIS nature to do so.

There is still something in this (my still raging perfectionism, I’m sure) that makes me very anxious. I still have many days where I feel the need to ‘get it together’ and make myself trust God… it does make me laugh a lot more that it used to… but the journey continues and really is unendingly gracious to me in it… I am a bit stunted, but as the song says ‘He’s not finished with me yet.’

Since I’ve been home, I’ve not done much compared to my ‘other life.’ And I have been so blessed by it.

When I first got back, since I’m a reservist, not active duty, folks REALLY didn’t understand my life – they kept asking me where I was stationed or what job I was doing now… I’d JUST got off the plane and folks were asking me this… I love the American culture of busyness… *sigh* I’ll admit, I wasn’t always as patient or gracious as I could have been. But that was a really frustrating question for me- I need space to be purely Terri, purely human for a minute and to detox from all the roles and emotional enmeshments I’d gotten myself into … so I would fluff folks off (sorry if you are one of them!).

What surprised me the most was how fractured my thinking had become. Most of you know my famous wit and sarcasm and ability to fire off a funny and almost (!) inappropriate comment in almost in circumstance for the sake (hopefully!) of bridging an awkward moment or building a community. This was REALLY out of sync when I got back. I’d think of something like 10 minutes after the moment happened or even DAYS after… I came to realize this was the mental fatigue most of us (redeploying military and civilians) experience when we transition back. When I got to AFG I was probably at about 50% of my normal capacities; when I left, I think I was around 10. I continue to not realize how depleted I get; so continued prayers there… This is part of why it took so long to write y’all – just haven’t had it in me…

But I’ve spent the last few months hanging out with friends, running a lot, working out – passed my Army Physical Fitness test for this 6 months quite well and enjoyed meeting some fellow reservist here in the Denver area – a wonderful bunch of engineers who were awesome in helping me get this done. I also started talking to the MOB (mobilization) desk about a new assignment. Turns out FT Hood didn’t need the help, but Germany does… So, in God’s timing (A LONG fun God story here, too), I was offered the position of Reserve Rear Detachment Chaplain for Reserve units that are deployed forward (IQ or AFG); which means I'll be looking after the families and Soldiers who stay behind while the rest of the unit goes forward (sort of the opposite job I did from KU/AFG- also very pastoral and I'm looking forward to it!). I’ll be back in Bamberg (for those of you who remember that story – perhaps THIS now is why I went then?!) and I’ll be there for a year. I leave 31 MAY.

So that’s the scoop, dear ones – thanks for hanging in here with me and praying/encouraging me… I really can’t tell you how deeply you all touch my life. And because you do, you free me to touch others. I am a blessed and rich woman.

I’ll post my address when I’m sure I have it right – usually Army rigmarole to go through! But I will say, this MOB is SOOOOO much easier than the last and the guys (chaplains) over there are being SUPER helpful and welcoming – I even still know a few folks from when I was there last time!

Please pray for me for transitions – always tough – the usual travel details and setting up a new life stuff; pray that God would bless me with great friends and help me to continue to maintain the ones he’s given already; pray for the mission – that I would see God and know my role and step into it unafraid. As always, write to me – tell me of your lives and times! I do pray for you guys and LOVE it when you ‘drop in.’ Thanks again for being my friends and fellow travelers…

18 September 2009

Winds of Transition...

Dear Ones

Well, I’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly 2 months now and my experience continues to bear out the Army mantra: hurry up and wait. Only, this is the steroids version. Allow me to elaborate (i.e.: vent)…

When I first arrived on 4 AUG I was told I might be out to my unit in a week – this was meant to impress me, I now realize… Initially I was told one unit, then there was a second thought that emerged from …? But no, the original thought ended up prevailing. All that took nearly 3 weeks. Then I was told I could get a heilo out to my new unit… that took 2 more days…And all of this, I’m told actually took place in record time…*sigh*

So, in the meantime, while I was trapped at what we call a ‘flagpole’ (flagpole= place where great amounts of scary level rank hang out creating a gravitational pull that causes everyone in the immediate vicinity to completely lose their minds…) I joined a band, did some opening prayers for services, got my runtime to fairly fantastic (for me), met a bunch of folks, and built my first piece of ‘furniture.’ The last item was especially fun as there was a fellow chaplain there who was equally stuck as I was – he also is a master cabinet craftsman…so he taught me the very cool/fun and interesting basics of cabinet and, in this case, table making…I can’t wait to have a garage to experiment in…

Finally, after all that drama (including a very cool divine appointment where a young man asked me to lead him to Christ), I finally met my new unit – the 1-121 IN (infantry) BN (Battalion). I’ve never worked closely with an IN BN before and in some ways it’s everything I’ve heard of but in a lot of ways it’s not. It’s very unusual as a female to assigned to an IN unit as they are one of the few still exclusively male units. I think I got the assignment in large part because the unit’s located on a JTF (joint task force) post which has folks from every branch of service (except Coast Guard – sorry my Guardian/Coastie brethren) and there were already 2 other male chaplains assigned to the unit. It seems like a strange set up to me, hey, who am I to blow against the wind? If I get the group of folks I will be working with consistently, I’m happy.

So, the first 2 weeks were basically ‘get acclimated’ to FOB (forward operating bases- wartime posts) Lightning in Gardez (Norther, and East near the Pakistan border)– in some ways, literally – I’m now at 7,800ft in altitude (and yes, my run time immediately tanked…again…*sigh* but I can look forward to being AMAZING when I get back to 1 mile high!). I have found that most of the camp services are lay led which leaves me time to do sermon prep and do ministry of presence – a luxury I never felt I had enough of in Kuwait. It’s also freed up some reading time – I’m reading several things right now: Afghanistan by Rasheed (painfully dry in places, but incredible informative); Grace in Practice by Zahl (I can’t say I’m really enjoing this…I am finding it strangely graceless in it’s systemization); Surprised by Hope, Write(INFINITY valuable stuff as I minister to and with folks who have to live out their theology of the resurrection every day) and Tuesdays with Morrie by Ablom…interesting stuff.

I’ve also begun to join my fellow chaplains in rotating out to visit other FOBs and I am currently at Camp Clark – a lovely (really, it’s very nice) little post that is very well laid out and organized. This is very different from the ministry I was doing in KU, so in a lot of ways I am re-learning my job; difficult for me right now.

This is an interesting thing, ministering in a warzone. In many ways, it’s like ministering at home – amorpic and somewhat boundariless. Though in all my wanderings in ministry back home I don’t recall ever being jarred out of a lunch conversation by the ringing blast of a cannon going off WAY too close to my dinning facility (that was yesterday…I was informed they were practicing…I later went out and found the Battery crew doing the firing – they told me the same. These guys will bring down very accurate fire when called upon by our troops when they come under attack by the enemy out on the roads.)

In many ways, this has been a great adventure and I’ve really enjoyed some of the stuff I’ve been privilidged to be a part of. In other ways, this has been an incredibly lonely time for me personally. I find I miss my friends and family very much – the first time for this deployment – and I’m finding the culture shock exceptionally difficult to breach this time. In many ways, it is difficult for me as a single woman to minister here, both because the AF people are so segregated from women, they just don’t know what to do with us when they see/meet us – they are either way too forward or mean…I’m grateful that I can’t understand what many of them have said to me in passing… so, that’s complex. Then there’s just the normal difficulties of getting to know a new group and find one’s place/voice. The Lord blessed me w/ my first 3 week sermon series – I did it on faith, hope and love; topics the Lord has been hammering me with lately.

All told, this is a phenomenal place and opportunity for ministry, but one must look for it and stay engaged when everything around you cries for disengagement (a survival tactic). I lead my first bible study out here tonight. 3 guys came. We talked about Mat 8 and the storms of Life and where Jesus is when we cry out to him in our terror…the guys really loved it. Jesus is answering our prayers in the mist of our storm of war.

Friends, I am tired. Not of people or even ministry (which is life affirming – I have not slid back into burnout/compassion fatigue) but of transitions. I realize I left my home in Denver CO on 18 JUN 2008 and have only been home 25 days in the time since… I’ve never been overseas this long and while it is my hearts home, I am finding I long for time to pull back and re-evaluate all that I’ve been through. To this end, I’m pretty sure I’m going to take a job offer to help train the next generation of MOB (mobilizing) soldiers at FT Hood in TX for the next year. This will help me ‘pay back’ my owed time to the Reserves before going active duty and it will also give me a guaranteed year in the states; time to rest, refresh and restore.

I would appreciate your prayers for my last 2 months here in country – I unexpectedly found out I need to be home and ‘deMOBed’ just before Christmas, which will mean I have to start my great migration around the 1st of DEC. Please pray I am able to pour out all of my love and compassion on the men and women I am surrounded by; pray I am not timid at all. Please pray for my transition home…this will be complex for me for a variety of reasons. Please pray for my troopers – they/we really are in harm’s way every day.

03 August 2009

The Quirkiness of Life...

I’ve been thinking about what’s ironic in my life lately… I’m quickly coming to my end of this chapter (at least so far) of my time in Kuwait as a post Chaplain. Some things have been ‘strikin’ me funna’ ‘– when we got here no one could wait to leave (they still can’t…we have to contain the stampede) yet now there is a fondness of this place and especially the people here that I know each, in their own way, will miss and some brave few who dare to think of it, realize will never happen this way again; we truly created a unique and beautiful community here. For all the complaining, I’ve been listening to the types of things people are passing along to the ‘next generation’ – things like, ‘yeah, it’s REALLY dull here, but it’s SUCH a great place – you’re going to love it!’ and there’s still such a spirit of generosity –which so characterized us – folks have given TONS of stuff to our TCN (third Country Nationals- the workers from around the world who serve us in the camp) Drive and to each other – rich and precious store-houses of knowledge and insight into not only surviving being here, but growing and thriving… it’s been really beautiful to watch from ‘around corners.’

This place has deepened my love and experience of Jesus. It’s ironic that when I left RI 4 years ago, I was begging God to send me to the deepest desert because I wanted to die – I wanted my physical life to reflect the deadness I felt in my soul – something poetic and integrity-laden for me (having my insides and outsides match). But the Lord sent me to Denver – a desert, but not the deadest desert, not like where I am now. And I began to breathe again; began to hope, began to wish, began to dream, began to heal… again…in the high desert… from those tender shoots of fresh, renewed life God then sent me into the deepest desert – the deserts of the Middle-East – some of the most conflict-ridden, soul eating places on earth – and I found those tender shoots growing and solidifying and becoming mature and beautiful… And so, I find myself reflecting on the mysteries of God and the souls of the Desert Fathers –how God has used deserts to cleans, heal, restore and grow his people for all eternity, and now my footprints are added to the sands... que bella…

In the desert I have found a tapestry of the richest cloth I have seen to date – people and faces from EVERY place on the face of God’s multi-colored Earth – Bangladeshi, Indian, Pakistani, Hawaiian, Philippines, New Zealanders, English, American, Micronesia, Samoa, Australia, all manner of African Nations, Papua New Guinea, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi, UAE, Qatar, Iraq and places I can’t even find on maps without Google! Many don’t speak English – but it does still seem to hold that ‘human’ still speaks to ‘human’ and a kind act or smile or tone of voice carries the weight of love any and all ways…There is a beautiful and tiny woman who cleans our living area – whenever she sees me she shyly comes up to me and gives me a hug – I haven’t seen her do this with anyone else – she speaks just a shade of English – I’ve gathered that she has a grown son who is in college or school and I think she’s from Bangladesh – I so honored and humbled that she would show me so much love…

In the desert there is a life most unusual and stunning… as in many harsh environments (be it because of economics or environment) what quickly becomes important are your relationships – you simply cannot ever afford to have enemies in your neighbors – you must make amends if you offend. You must. Your life and livelihood depend on it. This place is no different in spite of become a 1st world nation over night due to the oil; folks still spend months of their years out in tents in the desert so they won’t forget – they spend their nights in fellowship with one another over tea, coffee, hookah, and (as my Hawaiians would say) ‘talking story.’ What is beautiful here is often not what you see with the naked eye – the desert stretches on forever with very little interrupting it except for a town or power lines – what is beautiful is a soul – how one listens, the attention one gives to their host and visa versa. The quality of the interaction and even (I think) to some degree the quantity of the interaction – how much raw time is one willing to give to a friendship or new relationship? It makes me feel both anxious and inspired.

My heart is full as I go on to my next assignment. God has grown, matured and inspired me here. The death I felt as I left RI has been healed and the roots and been addressed and given over (even here more roots were taken). I have several new dear friends, one in particular has become very close and dear to my heart…so many unexpected gifts…There was a vision I had in Africa a few years ago where God was standing with joyful glee and filling my arms with gifts and he had more he wanted to give, but my arms were so full, there was no way to even balance one more, so it would have to wait. And wait it has – when I came here my arms were finally empty and open. He has placed extravagance in my arms once more…hallelujah!!

Please pray for me as I transition over the next few weeks to finish the last 6 months of my tour in Afghanistan. This will be a challenging time of change but an amazing and humbling opportunity to serve our nation’s finest in their darkest hours and one of the more scary places in the world; pray I am strong and courageous in the Lord and not afraid in any circumstance. Pray I preach the Gospel of Life and Love. Pray I reach out in the strength and hope of Jesus and not my own power. Pray Jesus is seen…

24 March 2009

The Ides of March...

This can be a very daunting task writing the monthly updates. For me, time is a fickle thing – moving faster than can be borne some days and so slow I wonder if I’m in trouble for missing something… but none the less, I enjoy writing them as it gives me an impromptu opportunity to ‘download’ some the events of the month.

I’ve been feeling better about my schedule lately – I sort of had an emotional, internal ‘crash and burn’ last month when the pressures of going almost non-stop for 6 months caught up with me after a particular vicious string of weeks without a full day off. It was very disturbing because the last time I did this was when I was on staff with IV and I just felt that that was catastrophic – it took going away for 3 years to seminary to get repair the damage I had caused then. So when I was feeling that depleted again and so quickly – it was very depressing and I spent a few weeks feeling rather depressed.

Now, here’s where the new tools and plans I got in seminary paid off. I’ve been meeting with my Spiritual Director in the states on the phone weekly and she’s been an enormous help and encouragement. Also, when the Lord did present me with a series of days where there was not much going on, so I took advantage of the lull and crashed – just laid low for a few days. Normally I feel very guilty about not being at work when I think I should be. But I had an epiphany that week – I realized I’m working every conscious hour I’m awake – my command has mandated I’m only supposed to be working 8-10hr days (it’s been more like 12-14hr days for me) – so I realized I didn’t need to be coming in at 0830 every morning and staying until 9 or 10 at night. I could come in later on those days I know will be late and I can work out in the morning instead. This was hugely freeing for me and it’s helped me develop a better work rhythm here.

Counseling continues to be a heavy load, though I have found it’s dropped of significantly now that we’re well past the holidays. I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I’ve been blessed to have a new Navy E6 (MA1 –for those who understand that!) join my UMT (unit ministry team – me and Sanders). It was really difficult having my assist away on block leave for most of FEB, but Chappell (yes, that really is his name) really made it not only bearable, but also doable- between him and a ‘loaner’ from the unit, we actually not only kept the boat afloat, but got some critical supply issues resolved. But I was VERY glad to have Sanders back. I am shocked to realize I can actually keep several assistant employed at any one given time; this was also an epiphany to realize I’m working to much.

The soldiers, sailors and marines here are doing basically very well. We’re all looking forward to Easter and coming home just a few months there after. I got to watch some of the Kuwaiti Air Assault teams practice doing Helicopter jumps onto a parking lot on my run this morning – I never tire of my job…

I am enormously looking forward to coming home for my block leave in June. I am in the final stages of preparing my paper for my final ordination interview. God willing, I should be ordained in Portland on my block leave. The Lord is faithful – he told me when I was 17 he would make me a pastor and that it wouldn’t be until I was in my mid thirties – I’m 35 and schedule to be ordained in June…God is good.

I’ve been thinking about time lately. We spend so much time wishing the time would pass quickly here. We’re basically locked down much of the time here on post, so there can be an oppressive feel to how time runs here. But I’ve been thinking about it – I can never get this year back. If I spend the whole time wishing I were somewhere else or that the time would just hurry up and get on with it – what will I be missing in the here and now? What work of God, beauty of nature or wonder in the growth of a human being (me or someone else) will or even am I missing out on? The need to speed things up must never subjugate the need to be as fully present to the wonder of the moment.

Another thing – I’ve struggled for years in a mild sort of way wondering if I am more of a leader or a shepherd. Well, since I’ve been here I’ve seen a number of people come and go. Recently, I’ve had occasion to see 2 sailors I became very fond of visit our camp for just a few weeks, then go – I was not sure I’d see them again and was sad at their leaving. In the last 2 weeks I’ve had occasion to have them both back for a few days each and it was a joy to see them and minister with them again. I think this settles the debate – I am a shepherd more than a leader (in the sense that a leader looks more at the big picture and is not necessarily concerned with WHO is performing what function so much as what function needs to be performed and what quality/kinds of people he or she has to do them).

Finally – we’ve begun wrapping up things here (I know, it feel early – but you try to coordinate and move several hundred people and equipment internationally and see how long it takes you!) – awards are beginning to be processed, promotions granted, projects looking to their completion. I’ve been writing Sander’s award recommendation and I’ve been asked to submit my to 5 things I’m most proud of. It was a little embarrassing once I’d written it, but fun nonetheless. So, I’ll end by sharing my list with y’all – after all, you’ve been supporting me to do it!

OER accomplishments:
- Trainings (as of 3/09): co-conducted 6 Strong Bonds classes (marriage and relational wellness classes); trained the trainers and assisted in 8 suicide prevention classes (Beyond the Front); assisted in 6 Newcomers Welcome Briefings; and attended 5 UMT trainings by ASG-KU chaplains.

- Conducted (current and projected): 32 Sunday morning worship services; 32 Bible Studies; 20 Praise and Worship Nights; 8 special Holiday services; 5 Movie and a Message events; 5 invocations; 3 hospital visitations; and 45 guitar/music lessons. Provided for the needs of Muslim, LDS and Jewish SMs throughout the deployment by driving them to events, coordinating regular access to services and providing materials (books, prayer rugs, etc.) as requested.

- Counseling (as of 3/09): 24 Red Cross messages; 23 Duty calls; 136 counseling sessions of varying types.

- Facilitated Host Nation relations within the Christian community (as of 3/09): brought 16 SMs to local protestant churches; 60 members of the Catholic community to Mass in the downtown Cathedral; and coordinated a post-wide Benefit drive, raising: non-perishable food, bedding, shoes and clothing for distribution our TCN community

- Improved Chapel supplies and equipment (current and projected): ordered: ACU Bibles; Scholars and Pastor’s electronic libraries for the Chapel (there were NO pastoral reference materials here before); crosses, medals, stars of David, Muslim Chaplain Field Kit; 2 new microphones; I personally serviced and made useable 4 guitars that were in storage; and facilitated and coordinated with the Fire Department to get the Chapel up to current fire code.

19 February 2009

Feburary Happenings....

Dear Ones,
Hard to believe yet another month has passed us by – lent is fast upon us and I prepare for yet another round of ‘firsts’ for the holidays. It’s been another month of great blessings and great trials.

We were blessed to have an evangelist Chaplain out visiting from Virginia last week. He’s the rear-detachment chaplain for the group here and was out to do a sort visit to catch up with his folks. He’s a very fervent and warm hearted brother in the Lord and it was a blessing to have him out for the week. I saw him led at least one person to the Lord! (Pic = I got to go for a ride on an LCAC (hovercraf)- I know, I look a little punchy; the other was a camel ride sponsored by the MWR (rec center)).

I was also blessed to tag along with him to downtown Kuwait city to meet some of the local protestant pastors there – what a blessing to be in the middle of brothers and sisters from all over the world worshiping God together in several different languages – this always impresses me as a foretaste of heaven!

I also got to led a small group of 26 out to KU city to the Catholic Cathedral. It was a rich time of fellowship and worship for my Catholic community and I was blessed to fellowship with them.

I’ve been enjoying several good books lately: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning and Surprised by Hope by NT Write – these are helping to continue to shape my pastoral identity and thinking – good stuff if you get the time!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the concepts of balance lately – the last two weeks while full of blessings have not been pain-free. It feels like for every blessing I’ve received I had to fight hard in the Spirit to keep and not get torn down in other areas as I continue to learn the different nuances and demands of my job as an officer. Balance to me is looking more and more to Jesus and just asking Him to be enough for each moment as I am sometimes stretched to my limit and beyond. This continues to be a lesson of pruning for me (see John 15) as I continue to grow in my ability to trust God in the ‘deep end of the pool.’

A good friend recently pointed out that I am in a very similar situation to when I was on IV staff just before I left – I am the sole minister to a campus of several hundred souls. And I find I need to fight to keep another chaplain preaching here on a regular basis for our Sunday evening service. She reminded me that growth is always painful but it is something we greatly desire. I’ve been meditating on that the last day or so and while I acknowledge the truth of it, I confess I still don’t like it when I’m in a growing season. She also suggested that God is redeeming some of the negative lessons I learned during my time on staff and giving me a new experience of Him in the middle of what looks like the same situation. I find each week as I prepare to preach I go though a series of anxieties over it, but each week God shows up and an aspect of His Kingdom is revealed, people hear God’s word and lives are touched. And I’m pleased to report I think I have very little to do with it. This has been going on for months now and each week I don’t die, God is actually glorified and the community grows. I hope and pray I am beginning to trust the Lord a little bit more with my life and heart as I publicly declare the goodness of God in the land of the living. I just hope I can learn this sufficiently well so God can return me to the team-based ministry that I love so deeply.

Please do keep me and my little team here in prayer – the battles are sudden and fierce:
- Pray for Sanders as he’s home in HI right now on leave
- Pray for my new assistants MA1 Chappell (a new part time addition to the team courtesy of the Navy – I do LOVE joint forces work! It’s so cool!) and SPC Medeiros who will be covering down during Sanders absence – please pray we jell quickly and work efficiently
- Pray for continued opportunity to fellowship with our fellow Christians in the downtown area

07 January 2009

New Years thoughts...

Hi Gang – hope the holidays were terrific for you! I am doing well here. The weather turned sharply on New Year’s Day – it was a cold, windy and rainy day. It has since gotten a little warmer, but I am beginning to wear my fall weather gear fairly regularly. It still remains sunny and bright during the days and I have no fear of snow (sorry my CO & RI contingents!).

This has been another intense month of looking for God, following his lead and trusting Him alone as my daily bread. This was the first time I lead a congregation through a Christmas season of services… it scared me to death, but through the encouragement of friends near and far, I was able to keep turning this ministry and myself over to His leadership; my daily prayer has been “Lord, this is YOUR ministry, these are YOUR people – help me to not get in your way; let me be an instrument of your peace.”

The services went well, I thought – there were things I learned from it – some I would do again, some, not so much…but in it all, God was faithful and I know there was space in the services for folks to meet with God, so I felt like I did what I was called to do…

I have been finding it intimidating to be preaching every week, but the Lord is so good – this has become a point of stretching me in my faith and continuing God’s long-term work of pulling my perfectionistic tendencies out of me. I am learning to be content with who I am and not demanding I be someone I am not. An old, but continuingly important lesson I do keep having to re-learn. *sigh*

I am pleased to report on the friend-front that I do have a couple of good friend possibilities and I am hopeful to see how the Lord will develop these relationships. One of my new friends even came out to KNB from another camp and kept me company for the entire Christmas Eve/Christmas Day services cycle – I felt sooo supported by the Lord through her friendship!

Now that the holidays are behind us, I feel the mood in the camp lightening some. Christmas time in a deployed setting was incredibly difficult for most of my soldiers and sailors. Thank you for your prayers for us during that season; it made a HUGE difference.

Email continues to be an on-again/off-again affair, so if I don’t get right back to you, that’s why – I am able to consistently get on my army account, so please do write me there if you want to communicate. (terri.king1@us.army.mil) I hope y’all have a blessed New Years – below are my PRs for JAN…

Prayer Reqs:
- God would continue to fill me with his confidence and presence as I preach and teach each week.
- Continued friend development
- Daily grace for the politics I find myself in
- Wisdom on whether to extend my time here at the end or go home with the unit in July
- Continued protection from attacks of the Enemy

17 December 2008

Christmas Rambling from KNB...

Greetings from sunny Kuwait! I hope each of you is keeping very well during this Christmas season! May the light of Christ dwell richly in you as we wait together!

Things here are going well, I think. I’m settling into a weekly routine of sorts where I have meetings, hold services, counsel soldiers do visitation. There is a sense of security that I get from having a routine, but it’s a double edged sword most of the time – on the one hand, I like knowing what I’m doing on a consistent basis, but on the other, I get board very quickly and the routine can grate on me.

The Lord is stretching me in a number of ways, primarily in the ways I am present to people in different venues. Preaching every week is a challenge I haven’t had to do this in a while and it’s forcing me to rely on Jesus as my only source of affirmation. Now, this doesn’t mean people don’t give me affirmation, it just means, I know people are fickle and so have learned not to rely or ‘feed’ on their praise. My classic problem is that I want to do everything at once; the good things that I know take time to develop, I long to see already established. It is hard for me to wait patiently and work slowly, allowing this community to unfold and become what Christ has for it. I want to just be there now. *sigh*

The holidays in a military (I say ‘military’ because we’re Army, Navy and Marines) camp are a strange thing. On the one hand folks are not generally in the festive mood. They feel most keenly the absence of family, friends and holiday traditions at home. And unfortunately, we’ve arrived at just the time of year to catch all the holidays during our stay. So, this is where I see my role as a priest of God and how God has made me intersect with this group. I don’t generally love the holidays when I’m at home. I love being single all the rest of the year, except at the holidays – then it becomes very difficult for me. However, here everyone is feeling like a fish out of water, so –strangely- I don’t feel that way; I love the holidays here! And it enables me to speak words of encouragement, peace and hope into this community. And that is such an encouragement to me, too.

Emotionally, it is a roller-coaster for me. I can be rejoicing with a group of people over promotions or whatnot one minute, the next diving the depths of fresh grief with someone who just lost a loved one. Now, when I’m doing well and am at peace with myself and Jesus, I find this to be one of the best aspects of my job – you never know what you’re going to get and the Lord literally lines the streets with divine appointments. However, when I’m feeling drained and overwhelmed, this is difficult and I feel I have nothing useful to give. Again, the lessons are present: 1st- a constant reminder that this is Jesus’ ministry and love for this folks, not just mine; 2nd – I need to be vigilant about my self-care. (For those of you tracking this – I have managed to get my ‘day off’ mostly nailed down and am now working to get a routine that will actually refresh me established – this is still very hit or miss.)

On the friend front, this continues to be a struggle, but the Lord has provided a few tentative life-lines. I feel like I’ve learned so much about starting a new life from my move to Denver and these lessons are paying off now. I know the Lord has friends for me here, but it takes time to find them and who I start off with may not be who I end up with. So, patience is again the watch-word. It is also complicated making friends here as I am the post chaplain, so it requires someone of fairly significant maturity to be able to see me as a human and a pastor and not have a melt down about either. I have one real possibility for a friend, but she just got moved to another camp, so I’m not sure if we’ll be able to stay in touch. This is a pretty serious need I have, so if y’all could pray for that, I’d sure appreciate it. Right now my major source of support are my fantastic friends back in Denver (I’m SO grateful for y’all!!!), but obviously, I need some fellowship here as well.

Well, thanks for hanging in on this Christmas ramble…do stay in touch – I’m on em regularly at tkin5787@hotmail.com or terri.king1@us.army.mil.

Prayer Reqs:
- Friends for me
- Connections and community here at KNB for everyone
- Holiday mercies for all
- God’s comfort for the grieving (there are a lot)