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 to...travel, 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
  ...charity is very different from community building
          ...community 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 Rule...you 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 in....it'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.