Friday, October 28, 2011 in a sense I miss the discipline of Lent...sounds funny, huh?  Well, during lent I was incredibly more dedicated to spend deliberate time every day with God.  Lately, I've gotten busy with life.  Looking at my postings lately I can see a trend of needing to pray!

Anyway, I turned everything off yesterday and opened the window and watched it rain from the silence of my house.  I felt the cold breeze on my face and the warmth of the blanket wrapped around me. I just was.  And when it was over I was refreshed.  I also realized how out of sync life is and how I haven't been centering in on God nearly as easily.

So, I scheduled a date with God!  Yep, I'm taking part of a day next week as my God time.  I know, retreats are popular and all of that, but life is busy so I'm making a date!  It's kinda like imitating Jesus going up on the mountain top ot pray...yeah, just like that I hope.

So, can you date God?  Yep, can you set a large amount of time aside to be in God's presence? 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This weekend Rev Shuttlesworth is being honored as he is laid to rest after a long and faithfilled life.  His voice was the spark that lit a magnificent fire!  On Friday I watched as Carl Lindner's body journeyed through town in farewell and people gathered to say goodbye and thank you.  This coming Saturday I will say goodbye to another man who touched my life in a very special way...he called me his pastor when I needed that affirmation most.

I had the honor of hearing Rev. Shuttlesworth speak and being stunned by him.  I met Mr Lindner and was blessed beyond measure by him.  My friend was friend.

These giant men were just that men.  They were skin and bone.  Shuttlesworth was threatened, bombed, beaten, and treated horrid for his faith.  Lindner was considered by many as a saint of the church for his faith.  My friend quietly affirmed my faith.  Each has touched me a special way.  Each man leaves a mark on my life and my ministry.

God is calling us to use our voices.  God is calling for people to speak wisdom with passion.  God is calling for generous people to be generous.  God is calling us to name who people are called to be.  God's voice is active...are we listening?  Or are we too busy thinking someone else will do it to answer God's call?

Friday, October 21, 2011's inevitable.  It's also full of emotions at times.  My youngest daughter will be 12 next week.  She's all excited and I am, too.  But in the midst of it is also life pain.  A friend died this morning.  I'm happy for him as life was a nursing home bed and now he no longer faces his demons.  Thanksgiving is coming and bringing changes with it.  The trees are losing leaves, the air is getting colder and the rains are now icy instead of refreshing.  College applications wait to be filled out for my oldest.

There are changes in the air.  Life changes and seasonal changes.  Changes dance across the face of life with paintbrushes of multiple colors.  It's like everywhere I look change is making it's presence known.  It's like change has a face and a personality!

Change seems to be hanging in the window challenging leaves me wondering...was I good enough in the past?  Will my mistakes come back to haunt me?  Have I learned from my mistakes or do I repeat them?  Changes!  They make me reflect on things.  Hindsight is 20/20...hard to handle some days!  Forgive me Lord where I failed.

Change!  Look forward...Look towards that God has the best in store for you.  The best is yet to come!  Yes, the best still lies ahead of us and only through the changes will we get there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

It's fall...and lately I've been tired and grouchy.  So yesterday we went for a walk.  As my girls walked away from me I was struck by how old they are and how fast life has moved.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I know it's the way life moves, but having something to hold onto has left on my knees with the sacred.

What are the things that bring us to our knees grounding ourselves in the sacred?

The sacred is incredibly easy to find this time of year.  The colors of the creation and the wonder of our surroundings are awe inspiring.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

To say life has been busy is an understatement! 

I've learned something lately, though.  I had a friend come to me with a horror story of life that made me stop in my tracks and want to be ill.  As she told me the story of what had happened I became VERY angry on her behalf.  But it wasn't but a split second before I also saw the strength of my friend.  Not just a strength that gets you through, but the kind of strength that keeps us from becoming victims.  The strength that screams, "YOU CAN'T STEAL ME!"

I got to thinking about the women of the New Testament...I love their stories.  They are that kind of women...scrappy, determined, seasoned, lifewise, tormented, victimized...but not victims.  They have that strength that screams, "YOU CAN'T STEAL ME!"  The hemorrhaging woman...been through enough life and victimization of doctors for too long...risks everything to touch the hem of Jesus' garment...scrappy, brave, determined!  There are others...think about it.  These are the women of God who set the example for us.

There are horrid things we face in life.  There are tough times in life.  There are moments where we sit much like Job on piles of shit that seem to consume people.  But we don't sit idly waiting for God to move...we don't sit bemoaning our situation...we don't whine about how bad life is.  We live in the strength of God's presence!  We live knowing and screaming...."YOU CAN'T STEAL ME!"  I will be stronger than that!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's not that I don't want to's that I don't know what to say.  There are times when I know God's presence is there, but I really don't know what to say.  I'm consumed with questions that I can't find answers so I pursue them with a fierce curiosity only to wear out my brain and leave more questions for the next day.  I know the world is a crazy place of humankind's Peace truly a posibility or will we fight the chance?

I want to pray...but when I sit down I find myself exhausted.  I find my brain keeps moving in overtime and I can't really make it stop. 

There are so many things to list gets longer by the moment some days and I'm falling behind.  The kids need this, the husband needs that....the church needs....the schools need....the laundry piles are growing higher and the cobwebs have cobwebs!  The list invades my quiet times.

Romans 8:26-27  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Thank God the Spirit is....AMEN!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yes, I remember today.  I also remember the days that followed and the hundreds of stories that still haunt me.  But today I pray for Peace!  I pray that God's peace will enter our world and children will not cry themselves to sleep without food or parents, women won't be stolen and sold into sex slavery, politicians won't pose for pictures instead of solve problems wisely.   I pray God's peace will end wars and my children will know a world that learns that religion is not a tool of hatred, but a gift to praise God.

Yes, I remember today.  I will pray that my Muslim friends will not be left in the dust of hatred and my Christian friends will not give into the onslaught of fear propoganda everywhere we look.  I pray that together a new voice can be heard...the voice of wisdom and strength that calls people to join hands in kindness and compassion rather than hate and violence.

While I'm at it I pray that what makes each of us unique will no longer be a label for someone's hatred.  I pray for sexuality and color to no longer define us.  I pray for age to be a blessing, young and old, rather than a fight.  I pray that wealth and poverty will no longer be so far apart, but that people will help each other without guilt, judgement or disdain. 

I'm not naive!  I know I seek what most folks consider impossible, but I believe in a God who is greater than my belief.  I believe in God's children being capable of doing the impossible when we so choose!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I've been struggling lately!  Every time I sit down to blog I've been struck by how many people I know who are jsut plain hurting.  Last week was stark as I listened to several women tell me their daily life stories.  It's like watching Job in so many different people.  There's just so much struggle going around.

In some ways I'm stumped right there.  I know I need to pray these people know the strength of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  I know God is moving in their lives in amazing ways and out of these struggles will come strength.  But I also know that being stuck between a rock and a hard place is incredibly difficult.  And these days difficult has gotten worse for many.

I pray we, as God's children, will find ways to share what we have.  I pray God will show me how to open my door and meet the needs of those who ache.  I pray I can trust God to use me as God sees fit.  I pray I'm not my own stumbling block in help someone off their dung heap.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It seems like things are moving VERY quickly lately!  The girls are back at school and activities there have begun and while my office is quiet the planning for fall is well consuming me.  I love the bustle, but somewhere in there I've lost the silence and the time to stop and know God.  Oh, don't get me wrong...I talk and I seek God's presence for others and myself...but I don't seem to have time to listen.

It's really the best part of being in God's presence...that listening.  To just soak into the presence of God without words...just the Spirit moving around and between.  To hear the still small voice of God.  To feel God's strength wrawp around.  It's really the best part.

Double dog dare you to stop and listen!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I like sentence prayers...shocking I would like simple and to the point, huh?  Anyway, I do.  I like the simplicity of one sentence that keeps the conversation going all day and reminds me of God's presence being ever present.  My favorite lately has been make me a blessing, not a burden, Lord.  Guide me.

See, I fully understand my limitations.  I stumble on my own.  My foot goes directly in my mouth, my face turns bright red and feel like an idiot for days.  That's what happens when I try to be in relationship with anyone with recognizing God's presence and my need for the Holy Spirit. 

There's a lot to walking with God!  Lord, make all of us blessings and not burdens.  Guide us.  Oh, by the way, folks...may we all know the presence of God is with us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's been one of those days where God is ever present, but I have nothing to say.  They are rare.  I don't feel the need to fill the silence with my voice, my thoughts, noise, but am very comfortable just being in the moment.  I like watching the wind in the trees, the sun setting, and crazy hum of my house living around me.

It's been a whirlwind the past several days.  Suddenly saying goodbye to a friend as we sat at her deathbed with her family...sharing the news and preparing for her funeral....celebrating her life...grieving, laughing, living.  She was a blessing to so many so hearing the stories of her life was wonderful.

So many friends kids went back to school this week and it made me think about my own girls.  My youngest who is somewhere between innocent childhood and awkward teen oldest who is blossoming and well into her senior year with confidence and poise. 

My parents celebrate 48 years of marriage and my father is 71 today.  I miss them...but that's another story for another day.

Life has been a whirlwind...for some it's been an earthquake or a hurricane...but it is definitely chaotic lately in many ways.  So, sitting still and knowing God is a blessing.  Letting God fill the space is like being held in a loving embrace.

Friday, August 19, 2011

No, I don't usually post twice in one day, but I never thought God's fingeres would shave my life like this.  Today after blogging the phone rang.  It was someone from my congregation...her mom was in the hospital and it didn't look good.  To say I was on my way was an understatement.

Now, let me explain.  Mary, the woman in the hospital, turned 99 in January and I was already planning her 100th.  She's precious to me.  She had been in the hospital years ago and I had the honor of praying for her, but when I said Amen she picked up and prayed for me.  Here I was on my knees before this woman sick in the hospital and she prayed for me.  It began a relationship I will always cherish.

Last night Mary was fine.  Not up to her perky self, but good enough to go out to dinner and stay up waiting on her daughter to come home.  She was good.  But during the night her body took a turn and by this afternoon she was gone.  I was blessed to pray over her with her family and honored to be there when she passed.  It was an honor.

On the way home we stopped as we watched young people walking in honor of fallen friend...tazed by policed a few weeks ago.

Life ends quickly.  Life changes in a moment.  God's fingers are ever moving and weaving the fabric of life in patterns unexplainable.  I didn't expect to to meet God so intimately today nor be reminded of how life is often a shave rather than a molding.

For Mary Young I give praise...for Everette Howard I give praise...for those who grieve, may they know God's healing strength...for those who grow from their lives may our witness be Christlike in our living.
It's been an interesting week.  The girls started another school year on Monday, which was less painful than I anticipated.  Yes, there's some grief in watching my oldest start her Senior year, but there's also a great sense of accomplishment at seeing who she is.  There's also a deep recognition of God's movement because she is clay I had no idea what to do with, but God did/does.  Watching her blossom is awe inspiring!

I spent time dreaming for me and my congregation and looking at calenda,r doing all of those organizational things one does in preparing for fall.  God has some interesting challenges ahead for us, but we have the strength of faith to live it.  It's good to spend time reflecting on where God has brought us and see how we've changed.  As a church...and for me as a person.

When I look at my own life and see the shaving God has done to my own clay I smile.  I am grateful for the changes and the fingers of God molding me.  Yes, some of those moments of being molded were painfilled, but I can see I am better now.  Kind of exciting to think about where I'll be someday.

I have many friends going through those molding times with some shaving going on in their lives.  I know they are in pain, but I also know they are growing and moving towards who they are becoming.  This is life in faith...knowing that things/people/life changes and we grow into something more, and hopefully, better.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Amazing moments...watching a community deal with the death of a young own heart has changed by some of the racism I've seen.    Seeing The Help and watching systemic racism somehow turned into entertainment....educational entertainment?

It's been a summer of ministry reflections.  Tomorrow is another Ordination of a young man with so much ahead of him.  Sunday I help celebrate the 65th anniversary of a friend's Ordination.  To be somewhere in the middle of both of these milestones and reflective of where ministry is moving...not just my own, but ministry in general.

I opened my door and windows to let the cool breeze refresh my home yesterday.  I live on a busy street, but I heard the firetrucks 4 times in 2 hours...excessive for where I live.  A reminder of the chaos all around.  I talk with friends and see divorce, lost jobs, lost homes, cancer, drugs, abuse, hatred....all kinds of pain.

I'm watching/praying a facebook page of teenage prayers and am saddened by the grown up issues of their lives.  Gun violence, police violence, family issues, school fears, cancers and illness, and so much more.  Cries for answers and compassionate embraces across the miles.

The passage for preaching I'm using Sunday...Nothing can separate us from the love of God!  Lord, help me to be a vessel of your love....Make my ministry a reflection of your love for us in an aching world.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Church camp!  They're home and exhausted.  And camp prepared my daughter for reality when she came home.  A young man who had graduated in the star, academic honors, popular, college bound...was killed last night.  Was tazed by an officer...the kid was African-American.

It's hard to watch the social network move on this and it's not. These kids are grieving and they are angry...and they are turning to their faith!  The first gathering they are calling folks to is a youth rally at his church tomorrow.  Not an angry place, but a deep place of faith.  Oh, don't get me wrong...there are some angry kids who trust police less now than before.  There are some confused kids not sure how the world changed over night.  But they are turning to each other and to their faith.  May they know the strength of God's love and peace...and not the anger of evil...or the evil of anger for that matter.

I'm sure as the story plays out in the media it will eventually get to the fact that we've lost a really neat young man with lots of potential...but I doubt it will ever get to the bigotry in our society that makes being a black youth so difficult.  God helps us all!

Friday, August 5, 2011

This summer has been an amazing time for me.  While it's been quiet and calm in so many ways I can look back over the last 2 months and see where God's hand is moving in new ways.  It's kind of scary to see, but it also gives me quite the tingle of anticipation. 

I've spent a great deal of time reflecting on my own call to ministry and the path it has been to get me to this place in my life.  I've made plenty of mistakes....but I've also done some good things.  When asked to preach a friend's Ordination I was brought to tears by the honor of it and the preparation was truly a spiritual experience.  Realizing that my life was an example that someone else chose to set as a role model brought me to my knees.  But watching a beloved young person set my friend as a role model was even more powerful.  To watch the weave of life threads was, and is, breath taking.

I think about those who have been my role models...and the list has changed regularly as time has gone by, but each was there for a reason at the time needed to guide me.  Men and women who may or may not have known I was watching them and shaping my life in their reflections.  I am grateful for their good and bad examples...yep, I learn/learned a lot from other's mistakes!

My husband and daughter come home from camp's been an amazing week for them and I know this God moment has been incredibly rich for my daughter...if not life changing/life shaping.  I know for me, I think I'm ready for the next threads to be woven in life because of the threads that have already been woven.  The examples that have been set before me have been strong and I pray I am as strong and good as they were.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Michael and Patricia are at church camp and Bekkah and I are home this week.  It's amazing how strange it feels to be home rather than in the office.  We're also living with less structure to our plans so it seems really odd.  I keep thinking I supposed to do...which is a good reminder that I've probably been doing too much.  I don't know how to relax...but I'm learning!

It's amazing how easy it is to become too busy without even realizing we're busy.  Saying yes is so much easier than letting people down.  And then all of the sudden we're tired and in need of a break...but too much to do to take one.  It's nice when a break is dropped on us...without illness, guilt or threat of more to do to earn it.

This week is my mandatory break to be with Bekkah.  We don't plan much, but we are just together.  I look at her face and realize how much she's grown since last year...her hands are becoming long and elegant next to my short fingers.  She's almost taller than her principal so kindly pointed out today.  I don't notice these things in the busyness of life.  We are just together in silence or giggling or listening to a book on tape or just being together.  She's so calm and patient in life.  I learn much from her!

We need breaks.  We need time to stop and do nothing.  We need to look at our lives and notice the changes.  We need to stop and know our lives rather than reflect on what has passed us by.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm loving me some summer today!  Michael and I went downtown to the market to get tomatoes and corn...oh, my goodness!  They had beautiful produce out today.  We're having BLTs tonight, which is funny because I never liked them until recently.   The corn I've loved since I was little, but having my daughter love summer food is like passing a tradition to her.   Next week we're looking for zuccini to make bread!

Bekkah and I just returned from hanging in the pool.  We had the place to ourselves and enjoyed the cool water and the bright sun.  I closed my eyes and floated along feeling the sun blazing and the cool water around me.  It was quiet and calm and I could just be lost in the moment.

Tomorrow Michael and Patricia are headed to church camp.  I remember those days at camp and treasure that my kids know the place as being holy.  It's changed quite a bit, but the impact on their lives is as great now as it was 25 years ago for me.

The girls are baking cookies and I'm moving slowly this afternoon.  I can watch the wind in the trees and the sunlight dance through the shade...I can listen to the bugs and the birds and watch the squirrels jump in the trees.

It's days like today when I can sit and watch nature and know I am part of it...not wishing I were.  I can feel the breath of God on my cheek and smile knowing I'm part of something so amazing that is beyond the fray of human chaos.

Friday, July 29, 2011

"It's time to make a decision that is in the best interest of our country. It is time to step aside from political bantering and posturing and make a decision that will move us forward. It is time for our politcians to be brave and make a choice that will make our country strong rather than continue to break us. Arguing over who caused the problem is like children in a sandbox...we need you to be daring and step up and lead us! I pray you agree!"

It's what I wrote my congressman...what did you write? 

The Bible is full of political leaders...good and bad.  Yes, we're called to follow our leaders and give unto Caesar what is Caesars....but seriously!  We can't let these people banter back and forth without us raising our voices. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I know people who seem to find God just by rolling out of bed in the morning and seeing the sun shining.  I'm not one of them and lately...well, let's just say that the past couple of days I'm not sure I've been rolling out of bed in the right direction.  I may have just been falling out and bonking myself awake.  So, I've been striving for calm, but didn't truly find it until tonight!

See, once a month my church puts together a Free Dinner open to the community.  No expectations beyond we open the door, lay out a beautiful dinner and folks are welcome to enjoy a meal without having to wash dishes, cook a meal or hear a sermon from a preacher with good intentions...I just eat and say hi!  Oh, yeah, I get lots of hugs!

Something happens on these evenings!  The room truly becomes sanctuary...people are fed spiritually as much as physically...we come from all walks of life and none of it matters!  It's an evening of fellowship woven by God's hands and I...and others.... always walk out filled from God's sanctuary of Love!

Being in the presence of God changes things...I am full of faith!  I am filled by the spirit ready to serve!  Wouldn't it be cool if we could all find sanctuary in our lives on a regular basis?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

There are days when things just seem to go the wrong direction..this seems to be one of those weeks!  All the signs were there Sunday in the midst of a really good Sunday, but...I just didn't prepare myself.  I guess there was a part of me that was just hoping the glow of Sunday would last all week. 

Oh, God,
for those of us in need of us on you and your strength instead of the things that call out our impatience.
for those in pain of grief, give comfort and love as they wander into tomorrow without the one they've been with.
for those who are ill, we seek your healing.
for those who are us, Lord, to stop and be in your presence.
For all things that complicate life, Lord, we seek you to guide us to be faithfilled.
And in the joys of each day, may stop and give you thanks and praise!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Today my dear friend will be ordained into Christian Ministry!  I'm excited for her and for where God will move in her life and into the church through her.  It's a tough time to be church.  Our denomination is small...ok, denominations are dying.  Our General Assembly this summer reminded us of the stark picture we paint in dwindling numbers and older congregations.

But if you flip the coin...which I like to do...I think it's an exciting time to be church!  Yes, it's like stepping into confusion and chaos, but there are amazing things happening when we center our lives on God.  Reclaiming scriptures and centering our worship back on God rather than us and offering ourselves, our gifts and our time to God's movement is powerful!

My friend is going to face so much in the church of tomorrow.  It's not the church of yesterday, but the church of yesterday isn't really what we want to think it was either.  I've come to understand recently how broken it truly was.  The church of tomorrow is God centered, life giving, loving, forgiving and full of's sanctuary in a chaotic world!

by the way, I'm preaching at her's an honor that humbles me.  Please ask God's blessing on Kara Swartz as she enters into a new phase of God's movement.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I came to church to pray and check on some things this morning...yep, my day off!  But it's too hot to be outside and I'm in dire need of a break so I thought prayer would help.  Anyway, as I checked the email at church an ad came through for 2012 calendars.  REALLY?  Already?!

I'm sitting in amazing heat this week still trying to figure out where spring went and why there are school supplies on sale already.  My oldest daughter will be a high school senior in a mere 3 weeks and I'm still thinking she needs to learn to ride a bike or swim or needs me to scare away the monsters at night.  Reality is a hard pill for me as I watch this beautiful creature I held in my arms now become an elegant walking miracle of all grown up.

Wait a minute...I haven't grown up yet!  I'm still waiting for my Mom to scare the monsters away in the night and fix me dinners that warm my heart and fill me with love.  Somehow time moved on and now it moves too fast.  I'm not lying in the grass watching clouds and climbing trees to reach the sky...neither is my baby any more.  She's testing her wings and soaring to places I can only dream.

2012?  I'm not ready for you!  But truth is, with God as my center, I'll be good!  Afterall, It's only by the grace of God guiding me that I am who I am today.  And I know my daughter is centered on her Lord and Savior leading her to God as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ok, I'm an old movie buff and I've corrupted my kids along the ride.  The younger one loves cuddling on the couch watching them and knows the stars pretty well.  So, today when we awaken I flip on the TV and there's a Natalie Wood movie on!  Now, rather than wisely change the channel I leave it there.  When the movie ended...yep, another!...Miracle on 34th Street!   Christmas in July!  Or in my case a late start with extra coffee and a great daughter to hang out with.

Sometimes it's the moments we don't plan that will be the memories that shape a person.  I'll get to the office later.  I'll finish that worship service later.  It will all get done, but for right now I'm basking in the blessings of being a Mom...Thank God!

A Simple message today...enjoy the blessings of being who God calls us to be in the moment we have.  relationship before task!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Last Sunday I preached about how God calls all of us...are we listening to God's voice?  Where is God calling us to go?  Where is God calling me to go?  VERY dangerous questions to ask!  So, being the good church member I took the sermon seriously and dove into the questions this week and explored the self doubts that come with them...that's probably just a me thing, but....anyway, I was drawn into the Old Testatement and the stories of God calling people.  Samuel, Saul, David and others.

It brought questions for me.  Am I listening and following God's voice?  Am I doing what God wants?  I wrestled with my over all call in life as well as my day to day call in details.  I put my best sceptic glasses on and tore myself apart and left myself lying on the ground bleeding with all of the flaws I found in myself.

So, this morning I knew I had to worship.  I needed to go before my Lord and Savior and pray, hear the scripture and experience the table.  I was starving!  (Yes, preachers starve, too!)  Anyway, I went and before I could center in on my bleeding self that needed repair God answered my questions. 

The air wasn't working in the sanctuary!  Crazy answer?  not really!  not in my life!  Ok, it's a brand new system that isn't paid I tried to turn it on again and no air.  I gave up quickly and decided to leave the problem to the expert...but that means moving worship!  So, I moved everything to Fellowship hall, set up a worship space, welcomed people in, talked with the Organist, who I love!, and settled in to worship.  It was in that moment I felt God smile and say..."I called you because you can do this." 

My bleeding pieces no longer bled...they were whole from the touch of God's fingers.  I was brushed off and ready to serve in the calling I am called to!  I treasure the questions and the experience of challenging myself, but I savor the knowledge that I am doing what God calls me to do.  I am the blessing God needs of me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Long week!  And the crazy thing is how hard it's been to find myself centered in of those self-doubt, questioning, not sure about life kinda weeks.  Yep, spent a lot of time sitting in the Old Testament scriptures which is always nice.  Liked the lostness of so many of the people.  I spent time staring into nature watching the colors, the birds chase the squirrels and the sinlight dance across the morning.   Enjoyed watching the world wander past.

Sometimes it's difficult to filter out the noise/chaos/chatter/busy-ness of life and hear God's voice and feel God's hand lifting me up from the dirt I feel like I'm in.  I get in the fears, my doubts, my!  I...LOL....even this blog becomes about me.  But that happens in life...we stumble in the humanness of our me-ness.

To be able to let go of the me and center on the Holy...that's the goal!  Just thought I could share the reminder.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

so...the cable TV is out!  Yep, at first I was really irritated.  (Probably because I was cranky and wanted some mindless downtime!)  But as the time continues I'm kind of intrigued with the challenge of finding other things to do.  The radio is on for news and background info, the laundry is begun and I'm ready for some serious household projects.

Bekkah is full of energy...without TV she is very entertaining!  She's been talkative and creative and is now anxiously ready for someone to invite her to go swim at any minute.  Gotta love being 11!  Patricia is asleep...17...but will probably not notice the TV being off since she lives with a book in her hand.

Michael is the one having trouble.  He'll admit it, too!  In his words he is mildly irritated by not having TV.  Yes, we talked about cable being a luxury and not a neccesity of life....but I think there's a baseball game he might miss.  He'll probably spend more time on the computer.

We become so dependent on things in life that aren't really signitficant and have a tendency to keep us from other things....One of my life stealers is TV!  So, while the cable guys try to figure out who is going to fix it I will enjoy the challenge of living without it.  May my time be more God reflective than frustratingly mindless craving.

Friday, July 8, 2011

We went to the Taft Art Museum yesterday where they are displaying 7 beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows from a church that was torn down for the building of I71.  The windows are stunning and the video on how they were cleaned and fixed was very enlightening. 

But what was truly enriching was, as we were debating the grandness of God in the architecture of our modern worship spaces...yep, I love those deep theological moments in the museum docents came up and chimed into the conversation.  That's cool!  Kinda odd for strangers to debate God, but hey, it's cool!  Anyway, turns out she used to be Christian Church (DOC), but didn't know we were in Cincy and so had joined a rather large Methodist church in town.  She was very clear she was part of a church she could be lost in without knowing people.  We talked and shared insights for awhile and then she left us to talk about the windows some more.

Later I got to thinking...are we invisible? or was she not looking for a DOC church?...there are 15 of us in the area!  Sometimes I think people don't look for what is there because it's not the shape they want it to be...or the color...or the size...or the whatever.  We come up with all kinds of excuses to do something we want or avoid things we fear, dislike, challenge us.  For me, I have this tendency to like life comfortable...not having to change!  (The cable is out and it just about threw me into a tizzy...that's how much I dislike change!) 

As I reflect on the windows and the church that was sacrificed for a highway I wonder how many hidden treasures have been lost to us not looking for them or looking for something we think we want so we can be lost.  How many thins have missed in my want to not be noticed?  How many opportunities to respond to God's voice have I missed because I wanted to be lost?  Because I didn't want to deal in/with change?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

While we were out driving last night we decided to stop and see some old friends.  On the way there and back we were struck by all of the changes in their community. Roads were different, housing communities built, parks created, all kinds of changes.  It’s part of life.  We stopped by one of my favorite places as a child and I stood and closed my eyes and saw children running and playing and knew every tree and blade of grass.  When I opened my eyes I saw changes.  Different trees, the gold fish pond was gone and the blackberry bushes were a nicely trimmed lawn.

Change is part of’s the proof that things are alive and moving in most cases.  We hold onto the foundational things and let the rest of it change.  We bring new ideas...sometimes old life and let them blossom.  Change means letting dreams find life.  There’s trial and there’s error, but there is the willingness to try.  Change means not being caught up in fear, but alive to possibility.

As we drove home we also noted the businesses that are closed and empty.  We talked about how our community is changing, but little new is happening.  We hear about  and see the forclosures and unemployment news.  Yes, it's a crazy world of changes!  It's also a time of opportunity for those who want to dream and live out the dreams.

My focus is the church!  It's changing.  That is clear.  It is a time for church to be more truly authentic church than we've ever known before!  It's a time to dream and pursue dreams.  It's the time to embrace the possibilities.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Okay!  I am a surprise, huh?  I screw up and make mistakes.  Saturday I was slapped in the face by how my sinfulness must look to other people if that is the only glimpse they have of me.

At the grocery in the line to pull out sitting behind a woman want to turn left, but letting all cars from the other direction turn ahead of her and ALL pedestrians walk in front of her.  Ok, she's being nice, but the 7 cars behind me were irritated.  It was the one woman who didn't want to wait any longer that I lost it on.  She  drove in the on-coming traffic lane and didn't stop for or pedestrian.  I laid on the horn and yelled.  Was she dangerous?  yes!  Did I handle it well?...probably not! 

We got home and I argued with my oldest about carrying the groceries...yep, I swore!  I told her to move her lazy...!  Yep, the neighbors heard me!  Yep, they KNOW I'M CHRISTIAN!  Yep, they know we're clergy!  Yep, they noticed my mouth!  No, they didn't see the apology later.  No, they didn't see the conversation about taking responsibility.  No, they didn't witness my faith growth as I wrestled with my sinfulness.

Yes, I'm a sinner!  Yes, I confess and seek forgiveness and am incredibly grateful for Grace.  But often it is helpful to realize it is usually our sinful side people see.  Often it is another person's sinful side we see. 

I hope I'm offering more grace than judgment...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

18 years ago!  I was younger than I wanted to admit.  The day was hot and with too much drama and way to much energy and argument in the creation.  Michael's Dad was ill and there were people missing.  We've watched the videos and have been struck at how naive we looked, who was actually there and many other things.

Today I sit and reflect that for 18 years I have been committed to the same person and all the drama, chaos, heat and stuff in preparation for the wedding doesn't hold a comparison to the drama, chaos and stuff we've lived through.  We've changed, but are still young enough to know we have a lot to learn.  We've lost loved ones we dearly wish were still here.  We've fought over stupid things, raised to amazing young women, and found ourselves in ways we could never have imagined.

18 years brings many things.  For us it has made us deeper, calmer, stronger and more committed.  18 years has  changed us as God's fingers have smoothed rough edges, roughed smooth edges and been the core of our strength and the forgiveness and grace that holds us together.  Do I think marriage is for everyone?  no!  Do I think a marriage can die?  yes!  But for me and Michael...marriage is a blessing.  Yes, a complicatedly dramatic blessing some days, but also one of the things we rely on for stability in the chaos.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I have a grandfather and uncles who served in the military.  I have friends who have served and who are now serving.  As I walked into Kroger the other night there was a young man in uniform hanging out texting.  I asked where he had been...Iraq.   He said it as if it wasn't a big deal and nothing special, but every moment one of these kids offers his/her life in a dangerous situation is something special.

let me be clear...I don't believe in war! Honestly, if the leaders of countries had to settle their problems on their own without killing babies, life would make more sense.  Yes, I know it's more complicated than that!...another blog, another time!

As I crashed on the couch sick this week I was blessed to watch a lot of PBS!  Yep, I like it!  Anyway, they did several pieces on the civil war, WWII and other things.  They did a piece on an African-America post civil war cemetary in Lexington that had been forgotten.  Sad, but amazing!  There was a piece on Lincoln and I'm sure others that I slept through--I was wisk, not bored!

I learned a lot...or maybe way just reminded of what I was taught years ago.  I heard of the lives that shaped and changed our country.  They creatively wove documents that stand today as close to sacred, but ever changing.  They looked at a vast open land that was full of possibility and dreamed...then strove to live out those dreams.  They face turmoil and struggles that most of us can't imagine and overcame.  In fact, overcame is probably a mild word since they did way more than just overcome...they created!

Our country, a place I live, shop, complain about politics, raise my family, have friends and family, a place where others have been willing to fight and die for!  It's a land that people gave their minds to create, their lives to protect and their hearts to perpetuate.   The 4th of July is a challenge through time to bring out our best for our country, to dream for our future and to find ways to live both!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm sitting in my living room where much of the furniture is upside down since I was cleaning carpet last weekend.  The girls still have launry in the living room from coming home from camp.  And I'm sick!  Lovely!  Yep, I have a touch of something that just has me achy and yuck.  I'm not looking for sympathy...I'll get over it in a day or so!

Have you ever noticed how chaos all happens at the same time?  or maybe it's just me...I'm not whining...just reflective on life tonight.  See, I'm supposed to be at church where we are service a Free Community Dinner tonight.  I love these dinners.  I love the folks who come.  Some of them live with chaos as normal and some of them live lives where chaos is rarely in the room.  It's a great mix of's also sanctuary.

While I'm dealing with the chaos of my life (which is what I need to be doing) I know there are people being great warmly by friends new and old for a time of fellowship and a meal.  Nothing fancy...just a meal served without judgment in a church.

Chaos is normal to life...some days are better than others and some weeks the chaos takes over.  In these God weaves moments of sanctuary...moments to know God's love, safety and grace.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Camp is a good 2 hours away...ok so the trip up seems to take forever and the trip home is the blink of an eye...but technically it's a good 2 hour drive!  I'm happy to say it was a safe drive and the construction zones were decent, but that is completely an aside for those who might be driving that route tomorrow.

The drive home was filled with camp stories...sweet antagonism between 2 very tired and devoted sisters...a few songs sprinkled in for good measure...and plenty of Mom watching the faces of her girls lit from within as only camp can do.  They are beautiful in their faith today.  Completely drenched in the presence of God.

Camp has changed...different buildings...different faces...even the fact they were able to go this week is new to me since elementary kids didn't have this opportunity when I was kid...and being a CIT?  forget it!  But when I close my eyes I can see the old buildings, I can hear the voices and the laughter as if I'm transported into the cloud of witnesses that hovers over that sacred ground.  I'm part of something way bigger than myself...but my girls had the most awesome God moments of their lives this week. 

That's the magic of camp...the place/traditions/ideal transport us to be part of something beyond ourselves and at the same time transform us in the here and now!  That's the blessing of a God who is beyond our imagining and bigger than our boxes, though...right?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I fell asleep last night watching a storm.  I can see the top of the pine tree outside my window and I watched as the winds shook the branches and swayed the tree back and forth.  This morning I awoke to blue skies and the sound of birds when I opened the window for a cool morning breeze to drift across my face and put me back to sleep.

We played hooky today.  We went and saw the butterflies at the Butterfly Show...spent more time watching trees move in the breeze as we sat by one of the old wading lakes in the park...went and sat in Krohn Conservatory and just watched the plants.  (There's some amazing stuff in there!)

Then we went to another park this evening and sat in the arboretum and talked.  We watching the trees and enjoyed the flowers.  We were a bit perplexed at the lack of deer since we used to count dozens in the evenings, but it was still a God filled evening.  While sitting in the gazebo we talked about finding God in the nature around us and the power of our Creator God.

Honestly, it was a great day to reroot ourselves in the majesty of creation and feel part of something beyond ourselves.  Then I received an email from a friend who was grateful for this blog...WOW!  To truly be a blessing to someone else in the midst of God's great creation is a major faith blessing.

God's presence is all around our our relationships near and the words we post/speak/live.  How are you feeding your relationship with God?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Longest Day of the Year!  One of my favorites, but then again I like to celebrate just about anything.   (...a good cup of coffee is all it takes for me to be happy!)  I'm sitting here typing where I can look out my back window and see how green the trees are and how the morning seems to be somewhere between a beautiful day and the threat of rain.  The leaves move gently as the breeze moves the weather.    It's quite pretty out!

It's another one of those days where possibilities abound.  I know of several folks whose lives are out of sync and I'm sure those of you reading this have friends or family in those same places.  Life has points of's a natural part of life!  But it's also nice to have encouragement in those moments.

I had the chance to talk to a friend yesterday who has been diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer.  It's not a pretty picture...but she was/is so inspiring!  She kept talking about how God was ahead of her on this journey.  God was leading!  She's a naturally kind and loving know the kind you're drawn to and everyone wants as a friend.  But now she's got this aura of calm adventure that makes you feel empowered and like you can do anything.  She inspired/inspires me!

The longest day of the year!  How will your friends inspire you?  How will you inspire them?  How will God use you today to touch another life?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Michael, my husband, was adopted as a baby and has never met his biological family.  We've talked about it length through the years, but have never pursued the conversation.

When we found out we were pregnant with Patricia I was scared out of my mind!   He became a man in that moment.  Something in him clicked and blossomed in that moment and he was a man ready to raise a child.  When she was born she was the first person in the whole world who was biologically related to him and part of his life.  The first person he had ever met who shared his dna!  It was amazing to watch him with her.  He was in the same place of awe and wonder with Rebekkah years later.

Yesterday the girls were working on their notes to Daddy for a special bulletin insert at church.  While Patricia poored out her heart and melted her Dad's, Bekkah nailed him to the wall.  "Daddy is wonderfullness!"  She asked if wonderfulness is a word and I said, "it is now!" 

I preached about how God has used all kinds of flawed and broken men through the years to touch our lives and shape us.  They may have been fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, friends....they were/are men!

I agree with my daughter...Michael is wonderfulness!  Thank God for the blessing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

One of the summer traditions that has been passed down generation to generation in my family is church camp!  And today daughter #1 took off early to get settled in as a counselor in training before daughter #2 descends tomorrow as a camper.  It'll be an amazing week for them...mountain God stuff!...the week they talk about all year...something to remember all their lives!  Yep, they'll have an amazing week!

My Mom was always thrilled to see me off to camp.  Not because I was going to be on top of the world for a week, but because she was going to get a break.  I know parents like this now...I appreciate that feeling, but I don't have it.  I'm one of those crazy parents who loves summer and "my time" with my kids.

Now, I'll date my husband...dinner, walks, talking over hot cups of coffee.  I'll clean corners left for clutter, dust and cobwebs.  I'll get caught up on my visits for church...I hope!  But I know I'm missing a precious moment with my girls and I will miss them. 

I love being a parent...I just do!  They have taught me so much about love, confidence, hope and faith.  It's through my kids that I have become better as a person.  (Yes, there are few other folks I adore for helping me with that...we'll get to them later in this journey!)  So, while my girls are growing in their faith on that amazing mountain top I will be waiting anxiously to retrieve them. 

Thank God for the mountain tops, but thank God for the breaks that remind us how precious our normal life truly is.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The possibilities!  It's the first day in days I woke up with energy and NO HEADACHE!  The possibilities of the day are endless.  Butterfly show?  laundry? cooking? walk in the woods? craft project?  finish my work?  (yep, it's also my day off, but I'm a bit behind this week!) ???

The possibilities are endless of the things I can do.  The sun is out, the weathermen called for warm and humid with late storms, which I love.  My family is home and the coffee is hot and strong.  I can do anything today!

It's easy to give God praise on a morning like this.  Being aware of God's presence is simple.  Now, to include God in the rest of the day and offer myself as a blessing for God to use is the challenge.  How will God use me today?  How will I be a mustard seed in another person's life?  The possiblities are endless!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I have had the kind of headache the past few days that makes everything hurt.  The pillows were too hard, walking hurt my head and opening my eyes was a real strain.  So, today became a blessing...after the headache finally ended.  I enjoyed the little things today.

It rained...I enjoyed the clean smell of it.
It rained...and I enjoyed the coolness of the air.
My 17 year old daughter cooked with me!
My 11 year old was lit from within after Bible School.
My husband is home with me and gives no reason to doubt him...He loves me!

Right now my husband is watching baseball, my oldest is reading a book and my youngest is hanging with her new BFF!  I'm listening to the quiet and pondering the blessings in life.

Someone...there are a lot of someones saying things!...Someone said life is what happens in between events.  I'll take it!  I'll take the simple days that make life sweet. 

It's in these moments I know God gently and kindly smiling.  I hope you also know God today in a gentle and kind way.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I argued with my husband!  That really isn't surprising to most folks and when I've said it to people in the past a lot them laugh.  They've been there!  (I love older folks who tell me these great stories of their marriages and remind me I'm ok!)

When we first got married and argued I was confused and scared.  I hadn't seen my parents do that so I thought something was wrong.  It took us a long time to figure out better and healthier ways to argue...but we've always argued until we got through it.  We never gave up on each other. 

A little girl was playing my daughter outside and probably knew we were my opinion the whole world knew, but I'm a little paranoid.  Anyway, she was sweet...her parents argue, too.  I had to smile!

I wonder...Did Mary and Joseph argue?  Not sure on that one!  Abraham and Sarah?  Oh, I'm betting they did!  After all...Sarah laughed at the idea of being a Mom and I can only imagine the anger she felt over the sacrafice of Isaac story until she calmed down.  Oh, and there was that whole handmaid thing....Did David and Bathsheba argue?  Funny, huh?  Imagining these children of God/leaders/role models in faith being just like us.

I love my Bible!  It reassures me that I fit into the story of God...imperfect, flawed and arguing with my husband!  It's part of life...but we have to get all the way through the argument and ALWAYS love/respect/treasure the other person as also a child of God...imperfect, flawed and equally allowed to argue!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alright!  Just a little advice to the's your choice to take it, but seriously, world!  Today is Pentecost...the birth of the "church"!  Not a building with a nice steeple...the community of faith known as the body of Christ woven together by the Holy Spirit!  Which also means our lives individually should reflect our faith.  (Yep, I'm one of those crazy preachers who believes that my life isn't just reflecting reflects my church, my faith, my relationship with God.  Yes, I make mistakes and seek forgiveness...ALOT!)

When at grocery on Sunday afternoon after church not eat fruit out of the cut fruit cups and put back on shelf!
...for that matter don't eat the produce before you buy it. nice the deli person!  They are trying their best to deal with the 50 people ahead of you so they be treated poorly by you because you're grouchy and hungry.
...don't feed your children donuts and let them run through the store.
...don't be offended by the screaming were a child once, too! kindly...I'm allowed to walk to my car without getting run over. know blessing not a burden.

You laughed didn't you?  But you know what I mean...and we've all done it!  We've all been "too busy to be an example".

That's just a few examples, folks.  We go to church and put on our happy faces, but the truth is that it doesn't matter a hill of beans if we don't live our faith when we leave those walls.  Being the church isn't how loud we sing or how devout we pray.  Being the church is how we live our faith so that God's love is shared with others.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It has been said that I dance to my own tune...and nobody else can hear it!  I don't fit the norm.  Well, in my front flower garden are petunias, flower pots of something, geraniums, garden ornament things...and 4, yes 4!, plastic pink flamingos!  I love them.  (In my bathroom is a string of flamingo lights and I'm taking a flamingo swim towel to the pool when I'm done with this.)

I know, they're tacky!  Right?  So what!  That's the opinion of someone...who?  Does this same opinionated someone also set the standard for skirt lengths, shoe heights and vegetable popularity?  (Yes, I like brussel sprouts...especially roasted/grilled!)  Do these things make me odd/peculiar/strange/weird?  Or just dancing to my own tune?  Or, maybe, dancing to God's tune for me?

I don't want to fit the "norm".  I want to stand out!  I want to be kind, compassionate, loving to ALL people, flawed, unpredictable....The unique child of God God is shaping me to be.

My flamingos are my way of laughing.  Looking out and seeing something fun, knowing the stereo type and knowing I'm not like everyone else.  They remind me that I am unique and I am supposed to be!  So, when you see my flamingon frenzy you can be offended or you can join me in my laughter and joy that God creates us to be unique!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I've started writing this several times!  Who are you?  Are you really who you present yourself to be or are you keeping the real you out of sight?  Are you afraid?  Or just keeping yourself private because of a career choice or other reason?

See, I befriended one of my daughter's teachers on Facebook and she clarified I had friended her teacher profile and when my kids graduate we could be "real" friends.  It got me thinking.  I reveal my life pretty openly.  I remember thinking about having 2 profiles on Facebook, but deciding I am who I am!  I'm not going to hide part of my life from folks.  (now, I understand this teacher's point of view and respect it!  BUT it got me thinking!)

It's not just Facebook!  People spend a great deal of time and energy hiding their lives.  Things are falling apart and they pretend life is great.  Life is great and people pretend nothing special is going on.  It's hard work to only present parts of ourselves and keep other parts isolated.

Who are we when no one is looking?  Better?  Worse?  No matter whether no one is looking or the world is aware...we're children of God!  Created by God!  Life breathed into us!  Worthy of love and relationship.

Are you hiding?  Or welcoming people into your life?  Are you living life waiting to be a "real" friend?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Most unexpected loveliness last evening!  We had decided earlier in the day to go on a picnic last night.  So after loading up the van and stopping at the grocery we headed to a local county park.  It's a pretty place that was created during the Depression so it has that old feel to it that makes for a lovely Sunday evening under the trees.

We had hoped to stop at our favorite picnic spot close to a waterfall in the creek, but found it pretty packed.  So, we drove around until we found another shady spot.  As we headed the one we wanted another group was headed the same way and about 10 steps ahead of us so we swayed to the left and went to the next set of tables.  Not as ideal, but ok we thought.

After lighting the grill and messing around with chairs we realized we had been beaten out by a group of musicians.  They were gently strumming away as their group grew larger and we were serenaded by folk music all evening.  It was wonderful. 

I looked around at one point and realized the community of people was increbily diverse, which I love.  From the African American kids running around with water balloons to the Indian women carrying babies to the hispanic family borrowing lighter fluid from us and the Muslim woman playing with her kids it was like a picture of God's Peace!  It was wonderful.

We had set out on a small adventure that turned into an evening to remember!  It could have been clouded by the heat and bugs and not getting to be where we wanted, but the change in plans turned into a great blessing we weren't expecting.  God is shaping a world of beauty if we can choose to relax into the wonder of it rather than the fear and hate that divides us.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Have you noticed how problems just seem to come in bunches in life?  It's like you're going along fine and then everything falls apart...better find your strength because it's falling apart!  What I've noticed during those times are how people deal with it.  I remember one woman kept it all secret until it was all over.  I'm not sure I could do that.

There's this other woman, though, who I just can't get out of my mind today.  When you meet her she seems like everybody else, but a little quiet.  Hard working, people smart, compassionate!  Then you get to know her you realize she's one tough duck!  She doesn't take any crud from people, and she calls a spade a spade.  (By the way...I really like people like that!  Especially women!!)

I had a chance to talk to her recently and asked her about her life.  She was kind enough to really share some hard times...not fussing over them...just telling me.  It was in her stories where I found out how truly strong she is.  The problems didn't define her, but they did move her.  She's not a victim...her struggles made her strong and resilient.

As the struggles in life happen...and they will...we have choices to make about how to handle them.  Will you be strong and resilient or...?  I'm grateful for the role models of faith I encounter daily.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I had the great pleasure of sitting in the surgery center with 2 lovely women.  I've sat with them many times and we all know the routine.  But each time I'm blessed that our conversation and our time take us deeper in relationship. 

All 3 of us are the "you see what you get" kind of women.  There's not much pretense about any of us.  (Part of the reason I really like these 2!)  There's also a sincere truth in their friendship that they let me be part of on days like today.  I'm not just the pastor, I'm another friend.

I watch people wander through life making tasks important.  Whether it be work or home or the guy screaming at me on the highway as he pins me between himself and the semitruck in front of me....anyway, life is full of busy, chaotic tasks.  It's easy to get caught up in their importance.  But they really don't do anything but lead us to the next task.

To engage with in loved and to love share secrets and laughter/'s so rewarding.  It nurtures something inside of us that otherwise starves.

It's summer.  It's time to slow down and nurture those relationships.  Especially the one with the God who created us, don't you think?!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's hot!  I'm not complaining, but it is a fact today.  It's hot here.  So I grabbed the water gun and filled it with cold water and started shooting.  Now one daughter enjoyed the experience and delighted in the chance to cool off.  The other wanted control and didn't like that I had it.  She locked herself in the bathroom and only came out to attack me with cups of water.

I have to smile!  There are days when I approach life in each way.  Today I embraced the heat of the day and just relaxed into the slowness of it.  Other days I only come out once I think I have control of the day.  I don't want to be caught off guard and nailed my the surprise water gun of life....unless I know it's coming and can retaliate in a BIG way!

There are times when having control really becomes a stumbling block to enjoying the moment...or in this case the laughter and cool thrill of the spray of the water gun.  Living life in control of everything can really limit us and keep us locked behind doors.

Embracing the moments that God throws at us and enjoying them instead of hiding seems like the easier way of life....ok, the better way of life as I know easier it is not!  Letting go is not easy, but it is rewarding.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day weekend and time, picnic, parades, pools opening, schools letting out, graduation parties....  Then I took time this week to prepare for church tomorrow a "short" honor for those who have served in war lately.  Ok, the last 20 years since that's how long this Iraq thing has been front and center.

I looked at these pictures of young men in their uniforms and in military surroundings looking proud and determined.  And also looking like some Mother's baby.  So young!  So innocent!  So much possibility gone!  I do not understand war!  NEVER will most likely, but that's not the point this weekend, is it?  It's about honoring those who gave more than we should ever ask.

Maybe someday we'll figure out that Peace truly begins with each of us doing and living Peace.  I'm a strong believer that Peace will only truly take hold of the world when we live it in the little moments in life.  Rather than being afraid of our neighbor, be kind and make a friend.  Rather than fear another race, recognize the beauty in the other person.  Rather than judge another faith, study it and understand it.  Rather than be angry, be kind and compassionate.  Rather than be filled with hate, be filled with joy and love.  Being Christian is counter-cultural!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

There are days when I wake up cranky and no matter what, I'm not getting out of it!  (click off now if you really think you're that perfect)  It's not that I want to be cranky...I just am cranky.  There's not enough chocolate and coffee in the world to change me during those moments and it really has nothing to do with genetics or gender!  It's just one of "those" days.

I've had conversations with folks about whether Jesus ever felt this way.  I'm pretty sure he did.  He was human and dealing with human beings.  Got the WHOLE experience.  It changes how I read my scriptures when I remember just how truly human Jesus was in those moments.

We have a tendency to see those days as "bad" days.  I can understand that, but there are a lot of blessings that come out of those cranky days.  We find out who our friends are and if we listen to them we find out we're not bad people.  God also has a way of showing us beautiful moments of compassion and kindness from other people on those days...not just towards us, but us as witness.

I'll take my cranky days and I'll take yours!  I'll embrace you in your growth and be grateful when I'm embraced in mine. 

Let God use our crankiness to God's benefit in shaping us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

God moves in amazing ways!  How has God been moving in your life today?  Please share!

I was reminded that...
  ...looks are not the best judge of a person
  ...character outshines so much is very different from community building
 building is better!
  ...good food translates in any language!
  ...a friend makes the complaints and crankiness less powerful
  ...I am a person in community and loving them as much as they love me.  God is weaving!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Please join me in and so many others in praying for all those in the paths of storms.  Please also pray for Amy Gopp as she heals.

God of creation, you hold us in the midst of your hand as part of this amazing creation.  As we face terrifying fears that remind how easy life changes and ends please hold us tight.  We ask you also hold Amy as she recovers.  You know better than we what she needs.  Call us, Lord, to respond to your cries for compassion in the days and weeks ahead as the world continues to change.  In Jesus' Name, Amen!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Galatians 6:6-10 and I like the Message version!
6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
7-8Don't be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he'll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God's Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
9-10So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Ok, so I used this is worship this morning, but was probably preaching more to myself this afternoon when I was cranky and tired and just not liking myself.  (Yep, you've been there, too!)  It's not the God part I have trouble with.  That's easy.  God's the cool part.  But the selfishness thing...that's another story!   Sometimes I get tired doing good.  Sometimes I just get tired.  Did I say the God part was easy?  Ha!  I wouldn't be selfish if I kept my eyes on God instead of myself.  So, I took a nap, woke up and listened to God's creation.

Who are you looking towards?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This is the day the Lord has made...rejoice and be glad in it!

Yep!  The news has it's the end of the world.  I don't give it much credibility, but who knows.  God is pretty amazing afterall!  Interesting though that someone thinks we can predict God's movement...small God box?

Today, like everyday, is a blessing.  Enjoy it.  Make yourself a blessing to others.  Live like it's the last even if it's not!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This is one of those days where I feel bad that I have not been God centered and nearly as good a person as I wish.  (I'm sure NO ONE else has ever felt this one....wink, wink, nudge nudge!  All perfect people please leave blog NOW!)  It's one of those days when I am paying spiritually for my irritation with the world.  Ok, so it's been raining for weeks with only a few bright shiny days of pure joy mixed in.  Ok, so building issues have shown their ugly face again at church...nothing serious, but definitely annoying.  Ok, so I've had to deal with a man's world lately...but was gifted with a woman who fixed the problems left by the men.  (God's sense of humor?!)  Ok, so my family is a bunch of crabby people dealing with grey weather, end of school and a deep desire for spring/summer and family time.  Given all of that I think being a little grouchy is understandable...but it's still not truly acceptable.  I have let me human side outweigh my God centered side.  (This human vs God-centered thing is definitely TOUGH!)

We must all face our imperfections and our need for forgiveness of a regular, if not daily, basis!  BUT, blessedly the cross leads us right back to the empty tomb and the reminder to live a better way.  I'm grateful I'm not left to live without the cross, empty tomb and church!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Matthew 7  (The Message)
 1-5 "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

The news lately has been full of juicy gossipy news!  Have you heard?  Where I live the weather is miserable and we're all a bit moody and people are looking for anything to complain about...have you noticed?

TRY something different!

Psalm 150 (The Message)
Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship,
praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!

Monday, May 16, 2011

There are moments when our past reintroduces itself into our present.  It can be good and it can be bad.  But those moments when it brushes up against the now and makes us know we are who we are and it is good are such a blessing!

I heard someone make the comment about being in the silence being about liking to spend time with ourselves.  While I can see the point, I really like the silence because I like spending time with God.  The challenge is to spend 20 to 30 minutes with God today.  Just to sit and relax and enjoy God's presence.

Maybe in the silence we'll find out we're God creation and called good.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do you like your life?  Do you enjoy who you are and who you are becoming? 

Today is a day to worship and celebrate the wonders of God.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Romans 12:17-19
Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Discover beauty in EVERYONE?  Even the guy who cut me off on the highway?  The woman in the grocery with screaming children while she talks on the phone?  My husband who annoys me?  My cranky children?  YES!  EVERYONE!

Friday, May 13, 2011

16 years ago Michael and I graduated seminary and were ordained that summer.  Patricia was old enough to walk and I threatened to have her walk with me.  Afterall, without her my last year of seminary wouldn't have made sense.  Little did I know then that the rest of my life wouldn't make sense without her and eventually her sister.

I'm not the same person who received that Master's degree so many years ago, and in many ways that's the best way to describe the growth life has wrought.  There were painful days, joyful days, long lonely days of depression, days of laughter and finally, again, days of the ministry I had dreamt.  Today I reflect.  On the days gone by too quickly and the days lost in self absorbed growth.

I also reflect on my deepening reliance on the scriptures.  Like so many before, with and after me I graduated seminary thinking I was prepared.  I quickly learned I was clueless.  But with the strength of the voice of scripture I learned it's ok and I'm just as broken as everyone else. 

Romans 12 has been on my heart this week.  Not just words to read and enjoy, but words that have shaped me this week.  Words that I know I will hear speaking into my life for years to come.

Where  has God been shaping you the past few years and where is God's voice speaking for you to grow into who God is calling you to be?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.  Romans 12:9-10 The Message

GREAT passage!  Probably the best reminder of how to live life in a simple few words we can find.  Just a brief reminder today....hope it helps!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Luke 24:13-43  Whichever version you prefer

Emmaus!  There's something about the moment when they realize who Jesus is and at the same time he disappears.  It seems like it's over before it really begins and that's how life is lately.  I loved Mother's Day yesterday laughing with my girls at a riverside park, but it's already gone.  Lately, life seems to move faster than I can keep up and blinking takes too long.  I'm missing things and I'm feeling a bit frazzled.

Today the challenge is to find the center of life again.  To refocus on the God who loves us and not be sidetracked by the whirlwind of life's chaotic movement.  Know the God in your presence!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lately we've had nothing but March in our area of the world, and enjoying the creation has been wet and miserable.  Today the challenge is to stop for 20 minutes and enjoy the world God created. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Golden know...Do unto others as you would have them do to you....or you can read it from the Message, which I like...Ask what you want people to do then grab the initiative and do it! (yep, a paraphrase of a paraphrase!)

We are all so busy.  There are so many tasks and so much to do.  Everywhere we turn is another crisis or activity calling for our attention.  Often we are too busy to be in relationships with others.  Often we make ourselves too busy to be in relationship.  Yet, we're starving for just that...relationship.

The challenge today is to be present in the relationship to the failure of the tasks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Romans 12:3

 3I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

How many times do we try to define God according to our boxes?  Is God bigger than your box?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Romans 12 1-2 Message

1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

In the midst of the world we live's a thought worth sharing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Galatians 5:16-23 (The Message)  
16-18My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
19-21It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.
22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
25-26Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

I love the idea of being an Original!  How are you living today?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Luke 24:13-49

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them,16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him.21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place.22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning,23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?”27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on.29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them.30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.34They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!”35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

The journey of faith doesn't end with the cross...the journey doesn't end with an empty tomb, either!  The journey begins and continues as we feel Jesus burn in our own hearts.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Matthew 6:25-34
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin,29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

What's next?

That was the next question after the talking heads quit talking about the royal kiss this morning!  I'm thrilled they're married!  Yes, she's beautiful!  Yes, I watched many years ago when William's parents were married!  But, seriously?  What's next?

We get so caught up in the "next" we don't give ourselves time to enjoy the now.  Yes, there are wonderful things coming and there are great tragedies ahead as well.  It's called life!  But to miss the now is a sad thing.  To be so caught up in what's coming rather than enjoy the moment of now is to steal something precious from ourselves.

Today is the day the Lord has made!  Today we look for the God who is present now!  Tomorrow brings enough life for tomorrow.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm tired of rain and wind!  When we rolled over this morning it seemed a little odd to see sunshine and blue sky!  In the midst of all of the rainy days recently was Holy Week and Easter, the death of a young man my daughter went to camp with, friends with problems, musical rehearsals for the girls and a Free Community dinner.  I'm not complaining!  Really.  I'm just noticing that in the midst of the rain and winds outside life got complicated and difficult. 

The challenge today is to find the blessings, smiles and joys.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It seems like everywhere I turn there is rain, hurting lives, broken hearts, sadness.  It's important to being the celebration into life!

Psalm 150

1Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!
2Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
3Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
4Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
5Praise him with clanging cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

The world may not perfect, but there are many things to celebrate with joy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The tomb was empty...again!  Easter has been celebrated with fanfare, prayers, rejoicing and Alleluias!  (I missed this Alleluias during Lent!)  But Matthew doesn't end there!  The only message left is, "Go, tell the story!"  It sounds simple, takes courage to wear our faith on our sleeve without apology or defense.  I love St Francis....Preach always...use words when needed.  (Yep, paraphrase, but you get the idea.)  It takes courage to live a life that is representative of our faith...afterall being Christian is counter cultural in many ways.

Join me as we continue to journey into what it means to live out our faith in the days ahead.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Today is a day to spend some time listening to God's voice with 20-30 minutes of silence.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I have sung this song for years, but didn't realize there were other verses.  Then I realized that there are numerous verses if you look for them on the internet.  Unfortunately, I don't recall where I found these words, but I like them.  There's something interesting in them for today...Good Friday!

This is the Day

This is the day, this is the day
that the Lord has made,
that the Lord has made.
We will rejoice, we will rejoice
and be glad in it, and be glad in it.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day, this is the day
that the Lord has made.

Open to us, Open to us
the gates of God,
the gates of God;
we will go in, we will go in
and praise the Lord, and praise the Lord.
Open to us the gates of God;
we will go in and praise the Lord.
Open to us, open to us the gates of God.

You are our God, you are our God;
we will praise your name,
we will praise your name;
we withh give thanks, we will give thank
for your faithfulness, for your faithfulness.
You are our God; we will praise your name;
we will give thanks for your faithfulness.
You are our God, you are our God;
we will praise your name.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday
Matthew 26:14-56

14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests15and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver.16And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
17On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.20When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve;21and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”22And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”23He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”25Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
26While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”27Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.29I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”30When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
31Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’32But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”33Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”34Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”35Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.
36Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”37He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated.38Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.”39And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.”40Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?41Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”43Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.44So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.45Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”
47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.48Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”49At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.50Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.51Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?54But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”55At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.56But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.