In This Issue...
- A Theology of Humor by Cheryl Taylor
- Ministering With Humor by Stephanie Nance
- Christian Leaders Having Fun? by Pam Morton with Kathy Jingling
- The Health Benefits of Humor and Laughter by Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD, MS
Women in Ministry Mobilized E-Newsletter Articles
WIM - Subcriber Articles
Looking Ahead Through My Rearview Mirror
Thu, 01 Dec 2011 - 10:47 AM CST
By Lois E. Olena
In December 1995, after living 6 years in Vermont, my husband Doug and I - along with our daughters Arwen (aged 7) and Eden (aged 5) - headed south to Birmingham, Alabama, to be near my parents. My father had battled leukemia for the previous 5 years and had recently come through a serious crisis where he was not expected to live out the year. Every remaining day with my Dad was precious. We wanted to be near him, and we also wanted to live closer in order to support my mom who was bearing the burden of caring for her 90-year-old mother as well as facing the daily challenges related to my dad's health. The Lord was moving on our hearts to head south, and so we started packing.
As much as we wanted to be with our Alabama family, leaving Vermont was difficult. Although living in the Green Mountain state had sorely tried us financially, we had been enriched spiritually and relationally. Leaving meant saying goodbye to some of our dearest friends - and to one of the most beautiful states in the country with its unique lifestyle and peaceful pace. As we drove off our dirt road, out from underneath the canopy of lush trees and onto the paved highway that led down the mountain and into town, thoughts filled my mind. I eventually crafted the thoughts into this poem:
Behind me stands the mountain tall
bare and gray and cold
as lonely branches sway in the wind -
smiling, remembering -
having watched my babies grow,
having heard their cries, their laughter,
having felt their little hands and feet
climbing, reaching, holding, building.
Looking back at them as
bright eyes gazed upward
from the understory
of Arwen and Eden's backyard jungle.
A glimpse, a taste, a touch, a moment,
imprinted on my soul
as I steal this final glance behind me.
With better judgment for our safety
overcoming my melancholy
I force my eyes away from the mirror
and train them toward the road ahead.
Descending from the mountain,
I comfort my mind, numb from thought.
My eyes sting as little streams
take the path of least resistance
and flow together like a river
all the way to Dixieland.
"Barton Mountain in My Rearview Mirror"
Lois Olena, 1/30/96
It was as if our entire world flashed across my car's rearview mirror in that instant. I was saddened at leaving and had little idea of what lay ahead. But somehow I had a sense that the journey was right. As I had glanced through my mirror upon leaving Vermont, I felt a strong wave of God's grace and a deep sense of blessing for all that living at the back of Barton Mountain had meant to us those 6 years. We had seen God's provision and faithfulness in a myriad of ways. I had grown in my sense of ministry calling there. Treasured friends had poured into our lives, and we into theirs. Our little family had packed a treasure chest full of memories into our hearts and minds that would never leave our consciousness. God had been good although some of our times had been hard.
That was almost 16 years ago. In recent days, I have been thinking about the value of rearview mirrors in life. In a car, I feel lost and vulnerable without one - as when I drive my husband's little Honda S2000 convertible sports car with the canvas top up and my view is blocked - but a bit more assured and aware with one. Rearview mirrors are vital reflection tools; they help us see where we have been so we can better navigate to where we're going.
In life, many such "rearview mirrors" are set before us - opportunities to look back, reflect, and consider how past and future intertwine. True, you can't spend your whole time looking in the rearview mirror when you drive, but it's indispensible for appreciating the past and navigating for an exciting future.
In my current role with the Society for Pentecostal Studies, I am privileged to rub shoulders with scholars and ministry leaders who know the benefit of looking back to study and appreciate Pentecostal history in order to help clarify where we can go, should go, and might go in the future as Spirit-empowered believers and leaders. In 2012, our annual SPS meeting will focus on bringing together 400 scholars, 400 seasoned ministry leaders, and 400 NextGen voices to strategize jointly with Empowered21 for the future - even as we look to our past heritage and history - to help us perceive who we are, why we're here, where we're going, and how to get there. I hope you'll join us!
Registration information on SPS will be available on or before December 1 at: http://sps-usa.org
Dr. Lois E. Olena is visiting professor of Practical Theology and Jewish Studies at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary where she also serves as D.Min. project coordinator and editor of Encounter: Journal for Pentecostal Ministry. An ordained AG minister, she has published Holocaust curricula and poetry (most recently in Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust), articles for AG Heritage magazine, book chapters on the history of AG race relations, and the official biography of Dr. Stanley M. Horton, Stanley M. Horton: Shaper of Pentecostal Theology (GPH, 2009). She also teaches Jewish studies and theology as an adjunct at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, where she and her husband Doug have lived since 2002 with their two daughters, Arwen and Eden. In 2011, Dr. Olena accepted the post of executive director for the Society for Pentecostal Studies.