Friday, January 30, 2015

Day #395

January 30, 2015

One more item has been checked off the list for our cross-country transition - the house has sold and officially closed near where I was serving. It feels weird, almost anticlimactic, based on all the house-selling challenges we faced to get to this point. However, it feels really good to be able to focus on truly being where we are now.

Thanks be to God!!


Day #394

January 29, 2015

One of the things I love about what I do is meeting with other people. Whether it is planning a citywide focus for youth, having a thank you celebration for folks who have spent hours doing important ministry, meeting new people or running into friends at dinner, I find meeting folks, and meeting with folks, awesome. People can be so creative, so dedicated, and so determined, and their enthusiasm is contagious.

Thank you for a day full of being with other folks who love God and people.


Day #393

January 28, 2015

The gospel reading for Sunday is from Mark, the first chapter. The beginning of verse 27 is: “They were all amazed.” Jesus had ‘wowed’ the crowd with his authority in teaching, and over the unclean spirit plaguing the man in the synagogue.

With that said, the question for Bible Study was, “When have you been amazed by Jesus?” Every person in the room had an example. Mine was that I am continually amazed by Jesus’ grace. His unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness and desire to be in good and right relationship with me blows me away all the time.

Perhaps another example I could have used is the simple fact that Jesus still amazes us today, even though none of us have met him, sat with him in person, seen his miracles or heard his teaching firsthand. His presence is made known all around us in his Word, his meal of Holy Communion, his disciples or other followers, and through prayer. And we can ‘see’ it. That’s amazing!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day #392

January 27, 2015

Sometimes I am amazed, and sometimes I am saddened, by the contrast of thoughts and beliefs I read on Facebook pages. For instance, there was a post from someone recounting a story I heard long ago of an inactive person being visited by the pastor. As they sat in silence, the pastor took an ember from the fireplace that was burning brightly and moved it to the side. Without speaking they watched the ember lose its glow and cool down. Then he took the ember, and still without saying a word, moved it back into the fire. It began to glow red again and soon was burning brightly. As he stood to leave, the inactive person broke the silence and thanked him for his "sermon." Then he said something like, “I get it. I’ll be back in church Sunday.”

Over the years that story has reminded me of my own need to regularly be in community to worship with other Christians. It has even reminded me that when I am feeling doubtful or confused, as if God is a long way away, to consider who has moved (hint, it’s not God!).

Yet, those are not everyone’s thoughts, evidenced by one of the comments. It went something like: I was gone from church for a while and no one came to help bring me back. It made me sad to think this person may have cut themselves off from church community because of what has not been done for them.

Next in line was a post with a picture of a cross with the words, “Don’t allow what has been done to you to become bigger than what Jesus did for you.” Needless to say, the contrast between focusing on what wasn’t done versus what has been done touched me deeply and inspired me to pray for both.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day #391

January 26, 2015

There is no other way to say it - an absolutely gorgeous day! While we’ve had at least 47 inches of snow so far this fall/winter, today was a bonus that brought folks out of doors and lifted spirits. A day to be truly grateful for and enjoy.
And, yes, the A/C came on in the car - and I opened the sunroof to enjoy the sunshine. Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks be to God!!


PS I do realize there are other parts of the country getting hammered with winter weather. They are in my prayers. I know more snow is probably coming here, too. And cold temperatures. But right now, I give thanks!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day #390

January 25, 2015

Showing appreciation. It’s important! Not only is it polite, but it shows that we value one another, and it helps build relationships. Those who had served in various ways during the last year were asked to stand and were shown our appreciation at the Annual Meeting at church. Our godson’s mother called to say he mentioned appreciating us in his bedtime prayer (that surely touched my heart!!). My husband showed his appreciation for me by accompanying me on an errand he wasn’t excited about, but did it willingly and without complaint.

I hope I let others know on a regular basis, in many and various ways, that I appreciate what they do and who they are. I am so fortunate to have caring and giving people in my life. I just hope they know I realize how fortunate I am.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day #389

January 24, 2015

Twice this week I had the joy of FaceTiming with our godson. Such a sweet young man, with lots of enthusiasm and wonder.

It’s awesome that we have such an invention - seeing one another while talking, yet being hundreds of miles away. It’s like we’re just sitting together. And it makes me thankful for technology.

It’s ironic how I was just thinking earlier today of his mother and me and how we began Instant Messaging while in school. Quicker than the phone, but a great way to communicate, we would send each other notes while studying in our separate apartments. It helped us know one another, brought us closer, and contributed to forming a friendship still very strong today, years later.

Hopefully, these moments of FaceTiming will have a similar affect with her son, our godson, and us. It sure makes me smile to see his face instead of just hearing his voice. What joy!


Day #388

January 23, 2015

According to the church calendar, this is known as the season after Epiphany. So what is an Epiphany? One definition is: “a moment of sudden revelation or insight.” Some might call it an “a-ha” moment. Something not clear before is suddenly revealed, made known, brought to light. And it can happen in an instant.

Karoline Lewis, pastor and theologian, wrote this week about the suddenness of epiphanies. Quoting her words: “There is nothing comfortable about epiphanies. They rock your world.”

True. No longer can you pretend to be in the dark once the light has been turned on. No longer can you pretend ignorance when knowledge has been gained. Once you know, once something has happened to enlighten you, there is no turning back. And it just can rock your world.

We’ve had quite a few epiphanies in the last year. Quite the year of transition, and it continues as we seek a new home, begin a new year, and experience all those “firsts” in a new place.

Does the world feel rocked? Maybe just a tad. But it is sure comforting to know we are not alone. The Holy Comforter is always present! Thanks be to God!


Day #387

January 22, 2015

Sometimes there just are not enough hours in the day or days in the week. Busy seems to be not only the buzz word, but my current reality. There is lots going on.

Which reminds me of a friend I used to work with who would sometimes say, today I just need to whine. Nothing is really wrong, I just feel overwhelmed and need to whine about it. We often did that for one another.

A group did that for me. Just listened as I talked about how life was feeling like too much this and too much that, with too little time and too little energy to address it all. What a gift! What awesome listening ears. It didn’t add any time or lessen any “to do” lists, but it sure helped me to feel better to just whine for a couple minutes. 

Hmmm….might be another important aspect of prayer, too (see day 386)?! But please know, really, all is good!!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day #386

January 21, 2015

The topic for today: prayer. Specifically, the Lord’s Prayer and the part “give us this day our daily bread.” What sorts of things does God provide? What is included in asking for “daily bread?” Doesn’t God know what we need and provides it without our asking? What is the essence of prayer?

In the conversation, there wasn’t anything we could not trace back to God providing - food, shelter, clothing, love, etc. And, we concluded that everything is included in our asking for “daily bread.” Also, yes, God does know what we need, yet deeply desires for us to pray, because the essence of prayer is conversation with God. It is taking the time to acknowledge who God is, how God is part of, or all of, our life, and how we need God and God’s care.

Basically, I suppose, it’s about relationship. To maintain relationship with people we care about we talk often, share our thoughts and feelings, and get together when we can. How much more should we/can we do the same with God?


Day #385

January 20, 2015

Forgiveness. Now there is a topic that volumes could be written about (and already have been). Is it necessary to forgive? How quickly do we want to be forgiven? Is it easy to ask for or give forgiveness? Does it depend on the offense?

After a conversation that included this topic, I reflected that probably from the beginning of humankind, forgiveness has been a major sticking point. Why can’t we humans just love one another and not need to be forgiven or to forgive? Wouldn’t that make life simpler and more enjoyable? Certainly, but we seem drawn to ways of hurting one another over things both big and small.

There are two things that have helped me in the quest for understanding and practicing forgiveness. First, an understanding that forgiveness does not require having a relationship restored to its original intensity, but does involve me giving up my “right” to get even. Not going after an eye for an eye, but giving up the perceived “right” to hurt the other person back in like kind, or worse. Second, a quote (author unknown): “withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It makes much sense to me that my withholding forgiveness eventually does me more harm than the other person.

Much to think about!


Day #384

January 19, 2015

The theme for this week on D365 is Time to Respond. Have you ever made a response that was done in haste, only to wish it could be taken back? Or changed? I know I have, so I am grateful for this reminder from the “go” portion of the daily devotion this week:
Take a few breaths. Take a few more. (I really need this second sentence!) 
Good advice!


Day #383

January 18, 2015

Our first visitors to our new home! What a joy to show off our new town, new congregation, and new friends. Imagine much laughter, hugs, talking and eating. Yep, a great time!!!!

But not a single picture. Guess we were too busy filing memories away in our brains.

“Good friends are like stars...You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.” (author unknown) But when you did get to see them - what joy!


Day #382

January 17, 2015

Having the gift to create a piece of art fascinates me, perhaps because it is not a gift I believe I have. Painting has always left me frustrated. Sewing or yarn art can drive me crazy, except for cross-stitch, which involves mostly following a pattern (loved the linear nature of it and am sad I cannot continue this craft). And I never had the patience to stick with pottery - since it didn’t work for me quickly, I gave up.

But I am in awe of those who are artists, like the potter whose demonstration we had the joy of watching. Yet, this was so much more than just “throwing” a pot. As the artist created, she talked about God as the potter, lovingly sculpting us into vessels of finery and usefulness. Then she said, sometimes things come along and flatten us (at which point she took her fist and flattened the vase she was creating). As we all literally gasped at the destruction of the piece, she began to rework the clay, creating a new piece, a bowl, ready to be filled and poured out in usefulness.

Sometimes we are flattened by life’s circumstances. Things can seem very dim and broken, and often they are. Illness, death of a loved one, financial insecurity, fear, betrayal, you name it, can crush our hope and joy. In those times, I have found, God gently works to restore me, not to who I was before, but to a new creation of openness and giving.

What an awesome reminder, and a gift from God, to have been reminded of God’s blessing (God’s face turned toward me) and work in my life.


Day #381

January 16, 2015

Making decisions. When presented with several options, none of which is the absolute best or worst, how do you make a decision? Prayer plays a prominent part for me, but then what? Sometimes it’s a matter of pulling out pen and paper. What are the pros - what are the cons? What might be the ramification of each aspect of the decision? Where does my heart lead?

What are things you consider when making a decision?


Friday, January 16, 2015

Day #380

January 15, 2015

The Gospel lesson for this coming Sunday is from John, the first chapter. It is the call story of Nathanael, introduced to Christ by Philip, who when he was found by Jesus went himself and found Nathanael and invited him to “Come and see” Jesus.

This idea of invitation permeates our culture. It would be the basis of advertising, I would say. Come and see what my product will do for you that the competitor's product will not. Come and see how my product will enhance your life. Come and see - and then, of course - purchase.

How many times have you been to a restaurant or movie, read a book, seen a play or concert, heard a song, or met a new friend, that you have said to someone, you ought to go or read or listen to or meet what/who I just did? It’s/they’re wonderful! We may call it recommending, but really it’s invitation. It is inviting someone else into something of your life that you found meaningful or important.

With that said, where does that leave us with the invitation to “come and see” Jesus?


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day #379

January 14, 2015

Sometimes there is a need for a quiet space. Sometimes the door that closes out the noise and confusion is a most welcome entity.

And then laughter and learning bursts into that quiet space, and there is joy. All is well again!


Day #378

January 13, 2015

Some days, I think, the clearest reminders of the Intersections between Faith and Life come from simply having fun. Enjoying doing what you do, who you do it with, and where you do it. It might be the gentle teasing from colleagues or their acceptance of your sometimes crazy ideas and thoughts. It might be the openness of committees to stretch their wings and move forward in trust. It might even be a good haircut. Just enjoying life and the people who cross your path in it.

“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118.24 - NKJV


Day #377

January 12, 2015

Isn’t she the sweetest little angel – a House Angel, locally “grown” by artist Val Knight, who was well-known during her life here in my “new” town. Two months here and I can’t say I really had noticed these sweet little angels. Until…I was gifted with one. Now I see them everywhere. At the church, the house we are renting, other people's homes.

Wonder how many other “angels” I miss on a regular basis? People I overlook; nudges from God I ignore. Hmm…


Day #376

January 11, 2015 

Often I have heard that music is something that touches a person so deeply that when memory begins to fade about other things, music can still touch their soul. I would like to think that Amazing Grace, Jesus Loves Me, and How Great Thou Art will be songs that I will always remember, no matter what, along with dozens of others (including all kinds of secular music I enjoy).

This understanding was brought to my mind as we celebrated the repair of the organ at the church I serve. Beautiful music was wonderfully played, creating a joy-ful and joy-filled time. Perhaps the thing that brought the largest smile to my face was the woman whose fingers kept time with the music, knowing she struggles mightily to remember faces and names, etc.

Yes, music touches the soul. What a gift for it to be heard, and to be shared!



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day #375

January 10, 2015

It’s somebody’s birthday today! It’s somebody’s birthday today! Happy Fourth Birthday to our Godson!!

Can’t believe it’s been almost four years since we met! We sure do love you and are very proud of you. And honored to pray for you and cheer you on in life! Have a fabulous 4th Birthday!!


Day #374

January 9, 2015

We received yet another notice that our credit card would be reissued. Something has happened that created a security breach and therefore, at great expense, another card will automatically be sent to us. This action created angst in me over what information has leaked out, frustration over the hassle of changing credit card numbers with places that use it to automatically renew or pay items, and just a general sense of yukiness. It’s a violation of our privacy, our sense of security, and our convenience.

In the midst of whining about this new revelation, the thought came to me, "be thankful you even have a credit card." Many, many do not have that luxury. I remember getting my first credit card when I was about 18 or 19 years old. I thought it was “something”; that I was something. Not having one now, not by choice but because of maybe having bad credit or unemployment, must be frustrating. Not to mention it can also be used as another form of identification - what does that say about its importance?!

Ok, so maybe I am ranting about something that doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things - really, a little plastic card with numbers?! But it reminds me, earthly “treasure” can easily be destroyed, taken, copied, or lost, but heavenly treasure/identity cannot. God knows us and has marked us in our baptism (see Day #372 for more) as belonging to God. FOREVER!! No matter what, nothing separates us.

And I don’t even have to carry a card to prove it! 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Day #373

January 8, 2015

There is a group of clergy clustered in approximately a square mile radius where I am now serving who have come together to network and dream about better serving the community where we are located. Today’s meeting was my first to attend. What a joy to see colleagues of differing denominations gather to talk, dream, respect, listen and plan. What an honor to be included!

After much talking and thinking about action, it was finally settled that the place to truly begin might best be in listening. Inviting other folks to the table, so to speak, to hear their hopes and dreams, then figure out how we can be supportive or advocates for change, if change is needed.

How important is it to you that someone simply listen? When faced with an issue or problem, do you want someone else to jump in and try to solve it, or simply listen to you? And if you are simply listened to (no solution found or suggested), does that really help? Or does it depend on what the problem is? I suppose the question I am really asking boils down to, do you have a hunger to be known/seen/heard?


Day #372

January 7, 2015

This coming Sunday is the celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord. Thinking of Jesus' baptism brings to mind memories of my own. And it brings to mind questions many of us have about baptism - what it really means; whether it is necessary for us; how often do any of us remember or ponder having been baptized; why do different denominations have conflicting “rules” about baptism?

I suppose baptism being such an important part of my own life comes, in part, from being an only child. The assurance of being adopted into a family with millions of brothers and sisters fills my heart with joy and gladness. And, having a loving Father (God), who accepts me as I am/was made by Him, and yet teaches and nurtures me every single day, is beyond words.

Then, there is also the amazing gift I have been given as a pastor to baptize others. Like our godson, who I will always be grateful to have had that honor. Who I pray also knows his acceptance by God, his being loved by God, and by his godmother and godfather. Yes, it fills my heart.

So what about you? What would you say about your baptism is most important to you?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day #371

January 6, 2015

Happy Epiphany!
“Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (ELW, Holy Baptism)
May your Christ light always shine brightly!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day #370

January 5, 2015

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, God gave to me….and much of the city, about twelve inches or so of snow! It’s beautiful, certainly, but what is amazing to this southern-born and bred woman is the heartiness of folks who just keep going. A little snow doesn’t stop traffic, schools, businesses, events. This beastly weather does not get in the way of life.
Hmm…something to think about as we celebrate the day of Epiphany tomorrow. The ‘wise men’ from the east must have encountered many obstacles on their journey. Yet nothing stopped them from seeking the Christ child. What might I be letting get in the way of my own seeking?


Monday, January 5, 2015

Day #369

January 4, 2015

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, God gave to me….eleven reminders of the Good News of Jesus’ life among us from the Gospel of John, the 1st chapter. Seven references to Jesus as the Light and four to Jesus as grace.

What is important about the Light? Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness, which is hope and trust that the darkness cannot and will not overpower the Light. This is especially comforting as we daily witness darkness all around us. 

What about grace? This is the unmerited, undeserved love without measure and without condition that God has for us, revealed through Jesus living among us.

What joy and what awesome reminders for the beginning of a new year!


Day #368

January 3, 2015

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, God gave to me….$10 for a movie. Well, not exactly gave me the $10, but gave me the encouragement through my husband to go see a movie. How’s that?! And I know $10 is crazy to spend on a movie, but what a powerful story and message from Unbroken! Well worth the money.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day #367

January 2, 2015

On the ninth day of Christmas, God gave to me….at least nine (plus) colleagues and spouses to have a lovely dinner with as an early celebration of Epiphany. So thankful to be in this place where colleagues of many denominations enjoy being in one another's company and having conversation.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Day #366

January 1, 2015

On the eighth day of Christmas, God gave to me….seven words of wisdom from Guideposts magazine (submitted by Angela Rinaldi of Milford, CT), to which I added one:

“Don’t complicate life: 
  • Missing someone? Call.
  • Want to meet up? Invite.
  • Want to be understood? Explain.
  • Have questions? Ask.
  • Don’t like something? Say it.
  • Want something? Ask for it.
  • Love someone? Tell them.
And the eighth one I added: Worried about something? Pray.


Day #365

December 31, 2014

On the seventh day of Christmas, God gave to me….a reminder of at least seven things to be thankful for in 2014 (in random order):
  • My husband, who supports me in my call and life, loves me even when it’s not easy to do so, makes me laugh, and with whom I now live in the same house after many, many years of dual-home living.
  • My friends who keep in touch, listen, say they miss me, are honest with me, and also support me in what I do and who I am.
  • 365 days of writing about the Daily Intersection, showing me God IS present in this world through people and places and things - EVERYDAY!!!
  • God’s love and grace. God, who loves us so much as to come to earth as, and in, Jesus, to live and die and rise for us. God, whose grace abounds in forgiveness every single day for the ways I do the things I do not want and don’t do the things I want. Whose grace freed me to be who I am today.
  • A new call where I can serve alongside and amongst faithful people of God in a place full of beauty and opportunity.
  • A wonderful first call in a place full of faithful people of God, who welcomed me when I came and sent me on my way with understanding and love.
  • Losing forty (yep, 40!) pounds. Thanks to a no-nonsense physician who set me on the right path!
I could go on and on. I know I’ve missed some important things, so again I’m thankful for forgiveness from those who mean much to me but I may not have mentioned individually!

Thank you, God, for a meaningful, adventurous, and healthy 2014. May 2015 be another year full of serving you, loving you, and living life to the fullest!