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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - February 20, 2019

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When I was in Cuba (for a J-term class on evangelism), I had two friends from seminary on the trip with me. It was an eye-opening experience in so many ways, including our understanding of the power of prayer. We returned to Candler very aware that no one had responsibility for our spiritual growth besides us. So, we decided to do something and started with prayer. We decided to meet weekly to sing, pray and share with each other. It was a fairly informal time, but we know we could share what was going on in our lives and that we would seriously pray for one another. We met weekly in a small room off the main sanctuary. As time went on, we had occasion to invite others to join us. Some did for a season and others did for the next year or two of seminary. Those women were at the core of my spiritual development in seminary. And they continue to be my core spiritual sisters. We have talked and texted regularly over the last 13 years, and for a couple of years now have shared a private prayer group on Facebook with one another.


We know we are safe with one another. We know we are cared about and loved by the others. And we know we have faithful people who will pray for us, our families, our friends, and our congregations. We didn’t expect that to be the fruit our weekly time of prayer would yield; honestly, we didn’t start with any expectations. We only started with a hope that God would move in us and through us.


As we, at Moscow FUMC, embark on a new journey as a church this Lent, I am hopeful about the power of the connections in our groups. Some may simply meet and discuss a book. And that’s great. Others may meet and laugh and share together. Others may find God calling them to serve in a particular way. Others may meet and share more deeply and form bonds that could last more than a decade. And that’s also great. I don’t want to put too much expectation on what could happen in these weeks together, but I do want you to know something powerful could.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

Pastor Debbie E-Spire - December 8, 2018

This week our community suffered the loss of Donal Wilkinson. For reasons we may never know or understand, Donal took his own life. He was a scout leader, a member of UUCP, a youth mentor, and a community member. As his own pastor was out of town for a family funeral, I was asked to attend some of the events their church held. On Wednesday evening, they kept the church open and had their lay ministers available to listen and pray with any and all. On Thursday they hosted a soup supper (thank you to the Co-op for the soup and bread) along with conversation, professional counselors, and community support for youth, parents of young children, and parents of teens and young adults. Tragedy is hard on any community and I was so grateful to see the ways people were coming together to care for one another.

As I talked with and listened to many who knew and loved Donal many wondered how he could have done that, and why they didn't see it, and wished they had only known so they could have helped me. All of those are normal and appropriate responses. Most of us can never fully wrap our minds around how someone could feel so terrible. And yet, for the few of us who have seen the darkest part of the abyss (of depression, or grief, or sadness) we can imagine. I shared more than a few times about my own struggles over the years. I battle situational depression and have faced the suicidal edge twice. I am grateful for the things that brought me back from that place. And learned that in the pit, reason doesn't exist. Logic is mute.

That might sound crazy, but I remember talking with a friend who called when she was suicidal. I remember asking about her sisters and parents and friends...what about them? And they did't matter. Not in the darkness. I didn't understand it. Until I found myself in that space. And then I got it. The darkness isn't rational or reasonable.

So then the next question became, "How do you help someone?" And "How can you defeat the darkness?" It's not a perfect formula. And there's not a strict timeline. But I've found that being vulnerable and honest about how you're feeling is vital. Not being shocked if someone tells you they feel that low is essential. Listen. Share. Be honest. Be real. And remember, it does get better. Not generally as quickly as we might like, but there is always reason to hope and believe things will get better. We all need to be reminded we matter, are important, and are loved.

Suicide is something treated as taboo in the church. We don't quite know what to do with it. So we avoid it, if we can. This week, for some in our community, it was unavoidable. So we talked and shared, and worked through the hardest parts together.

If you are struggling, please know you are not alone. We are here. You matter. And it does get better. It's ok (essential really) to be honest. Please tell someone, even a stranger. There is always someone who will listen at 1-800-273-8255. And if you need to talk, I'm here. Please reach out.

Many in Moscow are grieving this week. Many are struggling. May we have abundant compassion and grace for one another.


In Christ,
Pastor Debbie


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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - November 29, 2018

 I've been thinking lately that I need to try something new. I need to do something that challenges me and takes me out of my comfort zone. I think it's good for me to be challenged. And, I think it's good for my ministry to help me relate to others whom I'm asking to try something totally new and out of their comfort zone.

Last year we won a family pass to the ice skating rink for the winter season. So last week we tried it out. We all wore our ski pants (for when we inevitably fall not he ice) and got outfitted with our skates. Rick has no problem. He skated for years and even after his broken foot surgeries he out-skates the rest of us. Steven lasted once around the rink and then he was done. Ruth used the little ice walker some of the time and was able to skate both holding her dad's hand and independently with only one fall.

I, on the other hand, used the ice walker the whole time. And mostly felt like a fool doing it as people aged 2-70 passed me skating around the rink. But the reality is I likely wouldn't have made it off by hindquarters had I tried to skate on my own. It was a little rough on my ego being the least skilled on the ice. But I also recognize I won't get better any other way. I worried about using a "crutch" to learn and have concerns that I might be less equipped to go it alone down the line. But, I figure learning to get and keep my balance without breaking any bones is a bonus this season.

I am not graceful on the ice. I am not confident. I am not skilled. And I'm not fun to watch (unless you want a good laugh, which may be worth it). But I am trying. I think all too often as adults we fall into habits of the familiar--doing things we know we can do without stretching ourselves to do something more or different. Learning is good for us. Failing is even good for us. Persistence is good for us.

I don't know what your new thing might be, but I would encourage you to try--to stretch and reach and fail with the hope ofsticking with it and getting better.


Here's to new things!
Pastor Debbie


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Pastor Debbies, E-Spire - October 3, 2018

Last night, about midnight, we had a sick kiddo. I'll spare you the details, but it took about 30 minutes to clean up. Waking up to those sounds and those chores was not a welcome surprise. But, I did what needed to be done, including scrubbing floors and starting laundry, and praying no one else comes down with the same.

This morning as I switched laundry and washed contaminated items, I was struck with gratitude...not for the chores, but that there's a washer and dryer in the house so I could start something at midnight. We have fresh water to wash and fresh water for my kiddo to help her rehydrate.

As I reflected, I thought of folks who don't have fresh water or cleaners to clean up the mess. Or have to wait a day (or two or three depending on work to go to the laundry mat to start the wash), or those who have to do it all by hand, or no real access to water to wash at all. I thought of those who don't have "sick supplies" on hand and can't afford to go the grocery and get them. And then I thought of those babies (of any age) who are so sick from diseases, malnutrition, or chemo treatments that vomitting is the norm and not the exception.

In the day to day, it can be really easy to get caught up in my circumstances, frustrations, or struggles (or even my joys). As humans, it's extraordinarily easy to make things all about ourselves. But as Christians, we're called to look beyond ourselves and see others and their circumstances, to cultivate empathy for them and their story, and to take actions to make things better in the world.

Over the next month, our worship series is called "More Than Us" and is focused on how our faith pushes us to look at the world beyond us. And not just look, but pray and find ways to take action. I have been praying for those God has called to mind all morning. And now, I need to do some research for how I might do something to create greater access to clean water, or offer resources to those who are going without, or advocate for access to healthcare here and around the globe.

I hope you'll join us in worship this week and in the following weeks. And if you've been inspired to take actions and connected with agencies or groups who are changing the world for the better, I'd love to learn more!

Peace and grace,
Pastor Debbie


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Pastor Debbie E-Spire- - Septmber 19, 2018

Two Sundays ago we talked about Paul's letter to the Colossians, including his prayers for them. I encouraged you to identify a church for which you might be praying. What ministries are going well, for which you might give God praise? And what things are not going well that you might lift up in prayer?

Have you found a church? Have you talked to a pastor or member? Do you have specific things to lift in prayer?

I shared that my friend's church is Asheville is the one I had on my heart. I see their ministries on facebook and have lots of reasons to give thanks. I have been playing phone tag with my friend, their pastor, but know Hurricane Florence and the rains were of concern, so they've been in my prayers for that. I do look forward to hearing more about what's happening in the day to day and lifting them up.

What about you? Which church are you praying for?

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie



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