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!