Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day #481

April 26, 2015

Good Shepherd Sunday.

“I just wanna be a sheep, baa, baa, baa, baa” has been playing in my head all week. So when I asked the youth at Children’s Time what sound the sheep make, I was delighted they “baa’d” for all they were worth! It was so precious.

What a gift to get to spend a few minutes each week talking with the children. They are so awesome! I pray their enthusiasm and joy continues forever!


Day #480

April 25, 2015

Sometimes the news you hear is so painful all you can do is listen - and pray the whole time you are doing so.

When a heart breaks, God holds the pieces gently and tenderly. We can trust that.

So pray without ceasing, for answers will come and peace will reign!


Day #479

April 24, 2015

Ok, d365 is really “speaking” this week. One more too good not to share. The “prayer” portion for April 24th:
Big-hearted-God, how amazing it is to be fully known and fully loved. Help me to look at those around me with a strong and loving heart. May I always remember that each person I encounter is your beloved child. Amen.
And then part of the “go” portion for the same day: “God, the Good Shepherd, who never leaves our side, travels with you into the day ahead - whatever it holds.”

Yes, Jesus the Good Shepherd. Always alert and watching out for us - ALL of us - equally loved and cared for. The Good Shepherd, always willing to pull us back, welcome us home, save us from trouble, and remain with and forever. What a promise!


Day #478

April 23, 2015

Then there is the “prayer” portion of d365 for April 23rd: “Help me to love loudly throughout this life and into the next, just as Jesus did. Amen.”

Love loudly. Now there’s a voice from me I hope someone hears playing in their heads (see Day #477)! Often!!


Day #477

April 22, 2015

This gave me a lot to think about. It’s from the devotion, d365, the “think” portion:
The way we use our voices matters. A lot. Not just whether we use kind words or mean words, but the very tone of our voice speaks volumes. The words we hear spoken again and again from parents, teachers, and the others adults in our lives eventually create a little soundtrack in our heads. And that’s often how we end up speaking to ourselves.
How many times have I said, “I can hear my mother’s voice playing in my head?” Sometimes it’s something positive, but not always.

This is a reminder that what we say matters. People do listen, or at least hear. And remember especially (unfortunately) the times we don’t say helpful things in helpful ways.



Day #476

April 21, 2015

One word - GIFT! That’s what making visits is...a gift. A gift of time. A gift of relationship. A gift of welcome. A gift of holy conversation. All the way around...a gift.


Day #475

April 20, 2015

And then there was this:

Maybe that’s a part of the answer to times of doubt (see Day #474) - hearing/reading, regularly and intentionally, what God has to say about God’s relationship with God’s people (us!) in scripture. Just a thought.


Day #474

April 19, 2015

Been thinking lately about doubt, so I looked up the word. The definition is: to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.

Doubt is something that seems unholy. Unfaithful. Even unchristian. Yet, doubt is not the absence of belief or faith. I think it’s an ebb and flow of faith, an intertwined emotion. So many things bring moments of pondering - scratching our heads wondering if what we think we know or believe is really real. Can this love be real? Am I dreaming about that acceptance letter? Have I been duped into thinking my friend is loyal?

One of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, is often referred to as “Doubting” Thomas. I think he gets a bad rap with that name. After all, he just had a hard time believing that something he hoped was real, really was. I want to see it to believe it; don’t we often say that right along with him?

That’s where the definition of doubt gives room for grace - hesitate to believe. And in those moments/times of hesitation, the real grace comes in that Jesus understands and walks with us then just as closely as at any other time. Amazing grace!


Friday, April 24, 2015

Day #473

April 18, 2015

I am not always a fan of using one verse as an answer to a particular question or concern. When referring to scripture, there is a need to consider context, etc. Yet, I think the verses listed here give us something to think about. Especially if we view them in light of Jesus as the epitome of love:


Day #472

April 17, 2015

Saw this and just had to share it! It speaks for itself!


Day #471

April 16, 2015

What is it about peace? It must be important since the gospel lesson for both Sundays (the 12th and 19th) include Jesus saying to the disciples, “Peace be with you.” The quick answer to its importance is that the disciples were troubled, afraid, locked behind closed doors, and shutting down. Fear and angst can do that. Rob the joy out of life, and knot us into a closed ball. It can happen before we realize it’s coming, too. Suddenly we wake up and go, hey, I’m scared. I’m not sure I trust. In fact, I’m not sure I believe, or even want to try to understand. And temptation has found a foothold. 

So Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” Beautiful words. It’s like him saying, open yourselves back up. Let me smash that fear. For I am here, I am with you, and I am real. Be open to renewal. Have hope.

Every Sunday we share Christ’s peace and his reassurance with one another. It has a tendency to become a time of fellowship, but is meant for so much more - a boost, a turning, a renewal of hope.

“Peace be with you.” May calm and quiet be the rulers of our life, even amidst so many things that want to pull us in very different directions. For in that calm and quiet, I have found that I can more clearly and more often hear God speak, and reassure me, and lift me up in ways nothing else can.


Day #470

April 15, 2015

The topic for Confirmation Class was baptism and confirmation. My teaching partner for this particular night referred to Romans, Chapter 6, verses 3-4: “ you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life.” (NET)

The burying in the waters; the rising out to walk in newness of life. It prompted an action that is now an image stuck in my head. As she read it again, I put my hand under the water in the baptismal font, brought it out dripping wet, then proceeded to walk around the font, stepping high. But the best part was watching us all walking around, raised to "walk in newness of life."

It was a moment of joy - a newness moment I will always remember. I pray those there to learn will always remember, too, that Jesus came to earth out of God’s love, lived among us to show us God’s love, died in obedience and willingly to demonstrate God’s love and forgiveness, then rose again to show us God’s power in love. And that in baptism we walk the same path, to rise and live and serve and love. It’s so simple and beautiful and life-giving. For God loves us that much! Thanks be to God!


Day #469

April 14, 2015

I love hearing stories about the things our godson says (he’s the inspiration for beginning this blog). I have three new ones to share here for posterity:
  • “If it’s Sunday, you go to church and Sunday School.” Oh, my prayer is that he always feels this way!
  • “The bus must be sick. It’s white.” You know, instead of yellow like the school buses.
  • And my favorite - “when can I FaceTime with my God Friend?” Yep, that’s me. Again, I'm praying he'll always think of me as his God Friend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day #468

April 13, 2015

Thankful and grateful! That is what I am for those who take the time to reach out by sending a card, a note, make a phone call, comment on a blog, or simply post my name on FaceBook in a way that says “I’m so glad to hear from you.” I truly am grateful and thankful! Suffice it to say the encouragement was/is needed, and I’m grateful for it!

May you be encouraged today, if only to know that I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog!!! Thank you!


Day #467

April 12, 2015

I am reminded of how important it is to listen. Also, how I cannot always (often) do anything to change someone's situation – or mind – but what I can do is listen.

You know what, however, that is hard. Really hard! Especially if what is being said hurts to hear, or is directed at you in an accusatory manner, or is something you can do absolutely nothing about to change the past. Except listen.

Thank you, God, for keeping my mouth shut and my ears open. Hopefully, the outcome will be one of reconciliation and moving forward!


Day #466

April 11, 2015

Just one word – HOME! It was great to go away, and great to be home!!


Day #465

April 10, 2015

“The end of Christendom means it asks more of me.” Susan Briehl made this comment in her presentation, and it stuck with me. I took her to mean that the end of expecting everyone to believe there is a God who is the same Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) I understand God to be, and that not only is church important, but vital, means I need to step up and do more. More sharing, more living not just by action, but by word, and more teaching.

I suppose first I must agree that Christendom is ending. And I do. What I mean is that I believe Christians in the USA are becoming a minority. It seems to me more and more people see Christianity as something to “do” for only one hour a week (or every other, or once a month), rather than a way to live. There seems to be so much controversy in teaching that the message is garbled and watered down and the expectations of how we are to respond are too low. Not to say I don’t fall heavily on God’s work and grace in my life, and that I realize works does not save us, but I believe the expectation that God desires for us to do some digging deeper into faith, understanding and response is at an all-time low. After all, I see digging deeper also as a means to be more intentional in sharing, for Christ’s light shining through becomes brighter as we are decreased and God is increased. That may not make much sense, but I believe others can recognize a difference in someone who follows Jesus, and thereby see God, and that someone who follows Jesus more intentionally speaks about their faith. And the world hears, and God changes the world.

Let’s say this is a work in progress of how to articulate my thoughts – and how to be more intentional in teaching and inspiring. God does the changing, the saving, and the faith-giving, but I/we are God’s mouth, hands and feet in this world. And that does mean more of me/us!


Day #464

April 9, 2015

Being away on retreat provided an opportunity to ask myself many questions, and time to ponder them. I’m not sure I’ve found too many answers, but here are some things swirling in my mind:
  • What does it mean to be affirmed in relating to a desire for unity among denominations, Christians, religions?
  • What is the best way to listen to a colleague? Are they asking for affirmation, advice, understanding? 
  • What does it mean to need or desire proof of something (Thomas Sunday)?
  • What does it mean to feel so alone in a crowd?
  • What is the best way to use some free time? Is it really free time if you think you have to do something?
    Certainly more questions than answers, but what a gift to have time to actually think of the questions!


    Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    Day #463

    April 8, 2015

    It was correct to assume God would be speaking in this place. It began this morning at breakfast with the bishop and the others new to this state since last year. It is good to be meeting new colleagues!

    Then, we heard two dynamic speakers. The first connected the Word with song, walking us through a particularly rich hymn, We Know That Christ Is Raised, helping us discover the depth of theology found there.

    The second speaker talked about the Wilderness. His Hebrew word study of “wilderness” as referred to in the book of Exodus could actually mean a place apart from, or without, word(s). He went on to say that wilderness is more than just a geographical place, but a place between bondage and freedom. A place between the old way of life and the new. A place of testing.

    Then he spoke about the temptation of people in the wilderness to want to get back to where they came from. That even as bad as it was in the old place, they desire to get back to the familiar, to what they had before that was “free,” even though it came with a huge price - bondage. Partly, he reasons, is that while in slavery or bondage, nothing is ever our fault; we can blame things on someone or something else.

    These were powerful words and understandings for me. Perhaps the wilderness of leaving one place for another speaks more strongly to me right now, but I’m thankful for words to put thoughts into expression. And I look forward to the next parts of the lectures to hear more words of hope. For I believe with all my heart that God does not ever abandon us - no matter where, or what, is our wilderness!


    Day #462

    April 7, 2015

    There is a tradition in the state where I now serve that the pastors (and some family) go on retreat together the week after Easter. From all over the state, pastors are gathered in one place to have some time to network, relax, rejuvenate, learn, eat, and worship.

    The Pastoral Conference is located in a beautiful setting. This is the view from the window in my room.
    And while there certainly looks as though there will be some rest and some fun, the conference has a rather complete schedule of learning opportunities, too.

    So, for the next four days, I gather with other clergy who have also just walked the Lenten/Holy Week journey with Jesus. And together we find respite and care. It’s good for us, for the congregations we serve, and for the church at large. Also, I have a feeling God will be speaking here!

    Oh, and the husband has some time to go fishing back home. It’s good for him, too!


    Day #461

    April 6, 2015

    Blessed rest! For a solid twenty-four hours I was able to stay at home and recharge.

    Yes, the word for the day - REST!


    Day #460

    April 5, 2015

    What more is there to say than a glorious: Christ Is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!!

    So many folks came together to share their gifts and talents this week, this Lent, and especially this Easter Sunday.

    The Resurrection of Our Lord has dawned! Christ is alive! And because he lives, we live.

    What an exciting day! Thanks be to God!


    Day #459

    April 4, 2015

    And on holy Saturday, we wait. And wait. And make sure we are prepared. And wait.

    Yep, Sunday’s coming, but it sure is coming s-l-o-w-l-y!


    Day #458

    April 3, 2015

    There was a noon worship this Good Friday led by the Ministerial Association. A creative group of folks who planned a meaningful service focusing on the sights, sounds, and even smells of the Passion. It was moving and reflective, just what I needed.

    However, at the end of the service, one of the pastors made this comment: “The Gospel is dead...and now we wait.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. The GOSPEL is dead?! It might have been the most powerful reminder, or understanding, of what the disciples likely felt after Jesus’ crucifixion. The Gospel is dead. Hope is lost. All is finished.

    Except we know the rest of the story. And so we wait!


    Day #457

    April 2, 2015

    I had a text from someone that a death had occurred. It wasn’t unexpected, yet death is almost always shocking to the system of the ones who love the deceased. Our hearts weigh heavy, as much for our own loss as anything else.

    Just moments after the communication, I checked email and found this prayer from Moravian Daily Texts:
    Lead us, O God, to live by the gentle whispers of your Holy Spirit. And as you relieve the heaviness that we so often carry, give us the strength to become helping hands and listening ears. In your name we pray. Amen.
    It seemed fitting this should be a part of what I would pray for the one who let me know about the death; that they would be given the strength to be Christ’s hands and ears for the family.

    So prayers for all of comfort and hope in the promise of the Resurrection, that we will soon celebrate!


    PS As a follow-up to Day #453 - the four young ladies had their first Holy Communion and it went great! And the bread was perfect, and meaningful!

    Day #456

    April 1, 2015

    In honor of this being the post for April Fool’s Day, it was originally my intent to put here that this would be my last entry. That I had given up this “foolish” endeavor to find an intersection between faith and life. And then...say the obligatory, APRIL FOOL'S!

    However...since it is many days past April Fool’s, the idea seems rather silly to do now. Besides, if you have read this blog before, you have heard me say more than once how I value this exercise in recognizing God’s presence in daily life.

    So, I suppose the joke’s on me. But I had to let you know my original plan. Anyway, late April Fool’s!


    Tuesday, April 7, 2015

    Day #455

    March 31, 2015

    I had to look back at Day #350. Vision - specifically, glasses. Because I broke mine (the ones pictured in Day #350). I came around a corner at the new home, cutting it too close in the dark, and WHAM! Glasses against a hard surface with a face behind them meant a broken frame. Fortunately it didn’t leave a mark on me, but the glasses are toast.

    Nothing to do but get a new pair. Repairing them was out of the question, and I have to have them to see. So since I couldn’t find my back-up pair in the boxes still littering the house...well, let’s just say I’m thankful for a one-hour glass maker.

    So, with new specs, I’m ready for the week ahead. I can see clearly now. Let’s hope I can hear God just as clearly!


    Day #454

    March 30, 2015

    It is something I have always thought of doing, but just never joined - a Book Club. There is a long-established one where I serve, and I’m honored to have become a part of it. The books are chosen by the hostess for the month, and have been varied in type and author.

    Perhaps, however, the draw to Book Club is not the snacks at the gathering (although they are good!), or the reading of the chosen book, but the conversation. The time to come together around a common literary work and talk about it. To share ideas, opinions, and ponderings. It’s as much fun as I thought it might be.

    But then, so is Bible Study. And I’ve always LOVED that, so I’m not surprised! Just pleased!


    Day #453

    March 29, 2015

    The beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday - remembering Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. What a fabulous worship time of processing into the sanctuary, waving our “palm” branches.

    But then, the topping of the day was baking bread with four exceptional young ladies who will have their first Holy Communion celebration on Maundy Thursday. What fun measuring, mixing, baking - and talking. Getting things ready for worship on Thursday. What a special time!!


    Day #452

    March 28, 2015

    The Women of the ELCA at the congregation I serve hosted a wonderful Lenten Brunch. I was honored to be asked by one of the young ladies there to sit with her and her mom. It was truly an enJOYable time!

    Yes, JOY was the theme, and it was well-represented - from the joy-ful napkins of bright colors, to the flowers, to the Joy dish soap, to the music, to the keynote speaker who helped walk us through joy vs happiness, to the delicious meal. What a great way to spend the eve morning of Holy Week.

    Yes, Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday. And while the week culminates in the celebration of the most joy-filled event ever in the world, the week also carries some tough moments. This reminder of JOY as we begin the week was both timely and soul-filling.

    Thanks to all who worked so hard to help bring the JOY!