Donna’s Heaven Day

When I was five my sister Donna left for college. She was on an adventure. I was devastated.

donna and me

Donna was a mother to her younger brothers and sisters. Things like partly burnt-partly frozen ring bologna were the mark of her culinary skills. She was a terrible chef and prepared food that made you laugh and feel loved.

Her gift of being fully present to me has shaped my life.  I didn’t know that she was teaching me to see people, really see people.  She would gaze into my eyes, see her own reflection and say “I see Donna in your eyes” to which I would reply, “I see Clare in your eyes.”

When Donna was a young mom, she would come home on the weekends with her family. We would eat, laugh, sing and play in the front yard. Donna was a person of ease, a member of slow-time, a lovely non-anxious presence.

When I was a young mom, Donna called me every Saturday.  She had to know all the details of how I was hanging in there. She was never in a rush, even when I was, which was most of the time.

Donna made art for all of us. Sadly, gone are the t-shirts she made for me entitled “Sara’s Mom and Sara’s Dad.” She drew us holding our baby girl at 3 am in that “young parent trance” with big black circles under our eyes. She had a way of saying, “I’m paying attention to this crazy moment in your life.”

A few years ago my dad gave me the sweatshirt she made for him. Dad served as Chairman of the Board for many NPO’s during his generative years. Donna loved to create art that said, “I see you, I get you.”

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The last gift Donna gave me was a few months before she died. A Boyd’s Bear.  She made sure all the people she loved had bears that told the story of a moment they shared.  Mine was a symbol of the day she left me when I was 5. All these years she carried that excruciating good-bye in her heart just like me.

boyd bear

During Donna’s final five months our conversations were about God, God’s forgiveness and Heaven. I told her “in God’s house there are many rooms.” She wondered if God would give her a purple room. That seemed like something God would love to create for my sister, God’s own child. She never asked for anything…she only gave. Pretty sure she got the purple room.

Today marks 15 years since she left for heaven. I am spending the morning writing about my beautiful sister with tears and smiles. Holding and cherishing her gifts and imagining her in her purple room saying, “I see you, I’m with you.”

You can still see Donna in my eyes.  Her presence is still shaping my life. I love you, Donna <3

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:1-3

donna party

I See You

I can’t count the women over the years who have told me they either weren’t coming to church on Mother’s Day or couldn’t make it all the way through the service. Remarkable women who have shared their lives, given their energy to change their corner of the world feel excluded on this holiday.

There are so many reasons, and I won’t list them so that I don’t miss a single one. I just want you to know, I see you, I care about you.

Oh, and if you need a written excuse from a pastor to miss church today, I’ll sign it.

Having said that please allow me to say: Today I am celebrating the ALL females who are image bearers of God. Women who bring light in the darkness, hope in despair and presence to fill empty souls. I honor the beautiful women who speak up for the voiceless, offer grace to the sinner and beautify the ugliest corners of the world.

Some will produce human beings from their body, but ALL Image bears reproduce the life that is within them. Women nurture, care and shape individuals and ultimately culture.

Hallelujah for the feminine energy that changes the world through education, science, music, law, art, business and every random act of Divinity! Today I’m celebrating the creative, selfless, unrelenting women who give their lives to the next generation through every effort of faith hope and love.

In the beginning, God created women and men in God’s own image. Rock on magnificent daughters, sisters, friends, and Mothers! I see God in you.

With so much love,

clare

KID PRESIDENT CELEBRATES YOU!

Four-letter words and other personality typologies-

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Did you ever take one of those personality style assessments where the results were a “four letter word?” Was the four letter word welcomed or did you feel like someone just described you with a expletive?

The first time I took the Myers-Briggs personality assessment I came out as an ENFJ, an acronym for extroversion, intuition, feeling, judgment. After reading the description, I didn’t want the 11 other pastors I was with to know my four letter word! I had just been cussed at, exposed!

That typology described my coping strategies in the world, but it didn’t capture my Essence, my true self. It wasn’t until the personality tool called the Enneagram that my true-self found a description and my false self-coping strategies found hope for transformation.

Transformation is a buzzword. Everybody uses it. My stylist and friend introduced me to a “Brazillian Blowout” that transformed my hair, but for only about six weeks. That’s fine for hair transformation, but when it comes to the soul we all need something more long lasting, in fact eternal!

The Enneagram Personality Styles tool is all about presence, being present to God, being present to yourself, and how we’re made in God’s image. Whenever we are not present to God and our “God image”, we will end up on our edge, away from Presence and end up using strategies that wound our lives and the lives of other people. Being aware of presence is a practice that can make and remake you as often as you bring intention to your attention.

This weekend we will be guiding 70+ brave souls on a journey of discovery through this personality tool. They will increase their awareness of how they are image bearers of God, what takes them away from the Divine presence and how to come back home to their true selves.

Transformation is a lifetime process. We are made new momently when we open to the grace of transformation. These individuals are not coming for a one-time experience; they will go home with a tool that can keep centered, aware of Presence, for the goodness of their own soul and the people with whom they are in a relationship.

On the Journey of transformation always and forever, amen.

Resources for the Enneagram and Crossroads Retreat

©csloughrige 2016

 

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©csloughrige2012

She talks too much

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The Pizzimenti Mob =)

The little girl in the red dress used to get in trouble for talking. Every report card had a checkmark next to “talking” and that was not a compliment.

A few comments would follow those checkmarks like-“Clare talks too much. “Clare has difficulty focusing on her work.”  And one of my favorites, “Clare spends too much time visiting with her neighbors.

In my Catholic grade school you received letter grades; S (sometimes) N (never) A (always.) Grade school was full of lots of “S’s”and a few N’s.  They’re were no high marks for talkers.

Pretty sure I only received a few A’s in my Public Highschool.  When I would attempt to put my words on paper I regularly received this critique- “this is a run-on sentence.” I thought, Really?  Who gets to be the judge of that?  I had so much to say and sometimes only a “run-on” would reveal my heart. Still with this kind of academic discouragement I rarely did my homework but always had an active social life!

Once, my dad got called into the Vice-Principals office for a conversation about- a) my “talking” during a Chemistry test  b) my lack of focus on studies c) my out of balance “talking” life. My dad’s response to the VP was, “I don’t worry about Clare because she talks a lot.  I worry about kids who don’t talk and you don’t know what they’re thinking.”

Why did dad respond that way?  Well, dad understood my inherited social milieu. Dad was the oldest of 6 kids. I was the last of his 6 kids, he was in his 50’s with his last child in high school, had lived a lot of life and loved a lot of talkers by then. 

I did better in Community College (these are the only colleges that accept talkers) because I took Psychology and Sociology classes.  I soon discovered that I was interested in God and people, making Bible College  the best fit for this talker.

In Bible College I was learning the Gospel. Did you know that the word Gospel means Good News? I was thrilled! I found an occupation that needed people to use their voice to bring the Good News!  I was discovering that my deepest desire was to inspire, motivate, encourage, disturb and challenge people into social action- using words

Bible College and Seminary classes gave me new ways talk to people.  I even received life-learnning credits in graduate school for, get this-  talking to people!  I finally got A’s for “visiting with my neighbors!”  How cool is that?! “Visiting with” and “talking to my neighbors” was the “focus of my work!”

So now, here I am, 53ish and I am being asked to spend more of my time putting words on paper for my “neighbors” to read. Humbling for sure because I am a much better “talker” than “writer.”

I confess right here and now that I am under-developed in this writing stuff. If you risk reading my blog, you may not give me an academic “A ” but I hope to inspire, motivate, encourage, disturb and challenge you to discover Good News and your own “A” game.  (with a promise of lots of run-on sentences AND grammatical errors =)

Talking through writing,

clare

Happy Anniversary Scott!!

Today I write this blog for Scott, love of my life, best friend, ministry partner and companion in shenanigans. Any good thing in my adult life can be connected to you Scott Anthony Loughrige.

On April 3rd 35 years ago, two young kids said I will, I do… and we just keep saying it.  Despite the stats being against us, we are so blessed.  Our love has grown deeper and more beautiful with every celebration and every tragedy.  We’ve enjoyed the provision of heaven…and we’ve made it through all hell breaking loose…and we just keep saying, “I do, I will.”

What do those words mean to me?  Here are the cliff notes:

I do – believe that God is the leader and the center of our marriage. The One we’ve co-created with.  The One who renewed us when it felt impossible to have faith, hope and love…and as my dad would say the greatest of these is HOPE. Sometimes you have to have HOPE that you will have faith again. Sometimes you can only HOPE that love will triumph over darkness. Scott, you have companioned me with HOPE.

I will – keep aiming to love the way Jesus modeled it for me.  “For God so loved that he gave”…“there’s no fear in love because perfect love casts out all fear because fear has to do with punishment.” You have set the bar so high for me Scott Anthony, and I am still straining toward that high bar of love after all these years

Thank you for loving me so sacrificially. Thank you for having faith for me (and in me) when my faith was failing.  Maybe most of all, thank you for HOPE when all else was gone.

Now, just a little family slideshow…

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Was dad happy or having a nervous breakdown? =)

 

IMG_3879  My dad has learned to love you like his own son..however,.in the beginning, he wasn’t so sure about this 18 year old boy! Makes sense now, right?

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Here we are before God, making promises. Who knew that the vows “for better or worse, for richer for poorer, in good times and bad, in sickness and health, forsaking all others for each other” were real promises we would live.

 

FullSizeRenderHere is the first of many communion meals together…with this bread and wine,we remember the greatest love of all in Jesus Christ.


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One of many songs my strong and sensitive brother Jim has sung for me…some are not fit for this blog!  Nephew Donald serving at the altar as a foreshadow of his GOLDEN friendship, partnership and relentless serving that was to come!

 

FullSizeRender_3IMG_3886With these eyewitnesses!  I bet they wondered if they were complicit to some kind of crime!

 

IMG_3883The culprits.  Here are the people who started it all!  Smiling  with that “knowing what marriage is” smile and wondering if we would make it as many years as they did. Not yet but we’re working on it!

 

IMG_3877Look at these beautiful two beautiful kids… brother and sister, ministry companions. Shawn and Kathleen have been right by our side from childhood to grandparenthood.

 

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No idea what this beginning meant but we had our HIGH HOPES looking out on the future!

 

FullSizeRender_1Sealed with a kiss…and to our children and grandchildren’s chagrin, still kissing after all these years!

 

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My BEST WOMAN and FAITHFUL sister Lee who has been toasting us and LOVING us all these years <3

 

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Here is the first of a million times you would sing our song to me as my husband <3 Color My World.

 

FullSizeRender_6One of the signs that you can be trusted at every moment… even when the opportunity is oh so tempting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here we are 35 YEARS LATER!

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With children who are more wonderful than we could ever have imagined…

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Two new wonderful daughters and a son<3 <3 <3

kids new years

And the GRANDCHILDREN!!

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LA DOLCE VITA!

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kiersten again

 

Thank you Scott for sharing a life of MEANINGFUL MISSION…

 

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christmas

kids

airplane

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haiti

 

 

 

 

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haiti at night foodbank 
haiti composite earthquake

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I’ll stop now =)

If today was my last day, I have married flesh of my flesh,  heart of my heart. Thank you for challenging me, encouraging me and loving me always.  I am the one who married “UP!”

Looking forward to the next 35 years with YOU!

clare