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?!