God cracks me up. I was typing the title for this blog post, "working from home." But instead of home, my fingers typed "hope." Sometimes I think God knows what he's doing. Because clearly I don't. That's where I am really going with this post. What am I doing? I am home today answering emails, folding laundry, and ironing. It looks pretty serene from the outside. Inside I'm a wrestling match, a sobbing mess, and a spirit longing to bust out of this daily routine. My goals for today include making sure I spend the hours I need to at the office, finding a book or two for tomorrow's family story time pool party, and ironing. Well, yea for me...ironing done. God is giving me time and space to read, pray, and struggle. Why? Why am I being allowed the freedom study scripture, focus on poverty, reflect on my experiences overseas, watch more documentaries, write to my sponsored kids, read posts and magazines from Compassion, etc. What am I doing?
For the last few months (ok, maybe the last 5) attendance at Family Story Time has been way down. Way down. It's the one time per month where I sit with the kids, read them a story, and engage them with questions about the story from a Biblical perspective. I love doing this. Perhaps I love it but I'm not very good at it. Not many families attend. It's not a snazzy show. Parents have to stay (Sorry, no date night). Just 45 minutes of trying to be real with kids, talking to them about everyday stuff with everyday stories. Don't worry, I know they can't sit still for 45 minutes... the kids have a chance to run around the church or outside on the lawn in the summertime. Last month I even offered free popsicles - only one family came. At the end I gather them close and we pray together. The two times per year where we do have higher attendance are when we show a movie (in December - the last two years we've shown the most recent Christmas Veggie Tale flicks) and the summertime pool party. Tomorrow is the pool party. And at this point, I don't even feel like we'll have a good attendance for that. Yep, I'm a grump these days.
My role at the church also includes parenting and marriage ministries. This summer I tried to get a group together for a parenting study. It went alright for two weeks, then all the families started having sick kids. We had to cancel the next two weeks in a row. Last night only one woman out of the group could attend. What's that about God? Is it as simple as saying the evil one just doesn't want us to focus on being good parents and he'll throw whatever tools he has at us to disable us from gathering? Bad timing?
Our 3M group (Monthly Marriage Maintenance) has also taken a summer break in part due to lack of attendance. A BBQ is planned later this month. Will people come because it's a BBQ (free dinner and a pool for the kids) or because they truly want to connect with other couples and recommit to making strengthening marriage a priority in their life? Or as the grouchy gus in me suspects, we won't have much of a turn out at all.
My frustration is that I want to be a part of ministry that matters. I want to be able to share life with others that have similar priorities and passions. I want to struggle alongside kids, parents, and couples as we wrestle with how we're working from hope. And quite frankly, most of the time I don't feel like I'm really able to do that. At this point it seems like my role is to keep things afloat, not rock the boat, and certainly not to paddle excessively, make waves, or to put up the sail and let the wind take us where it will. People don't really seem to want more. They are full enough. (Insert frustrating commentary about how we're all just too stinkin' busy.)
This summer I also took on women's ministries as a part of my responsibilities. I'm working to make sure that things are lined up for Women's Bible Fellowship this fall. God has put in place an excellent steering team. My hope is that WBF will continue to be a place where women are spiritually and emotionally fed so that they can go out and make a difference in their homes, relationships, and community. My husband's one piece of advice was, "Don't change anything." Thanks honey, yep, just keep it afloat. That's my job.
But I want to work from hope. Hope that what I do matters, hope that's based on what I feel God has called me to do. Hope that is based on a heart that is connected to the Spirit. Hope that is beyond the norms and the everyday. Hope that is full of vision but also applicable to our life right here right now. Elizabeth Sherwood gave an excellent message on Hope last week at church. She shocked me with the statement, "once we get to heaven we won't need hope anymore." WE WON'T NEED HOPE. I had never really thought about living without the need for hope. Until then I have to find a way to work from hope even when I'm just working at home.