Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday visits

The holidays are an interesting thing.  They create stress and joy all at the same time. They bring persons together that might not otherwise have the opportunity to come together.  In the midst of it all, there is always the pressure to meet, greet and be a part of the holiday cheer.

While the holidays are officially over, the visits to friends and family continue for many.  The visits bring about what a good friend calls "grouping up".  "Grouping up" consist of family (or friends) coming together and piling into a space and existing together.  The interesting thing that occurs in 'grouping up' is that everyone's personal space is stretched just a bit.  We live in a culture in which persons have their own rooms and in some cases even their own bathrooms.  We are a custom to thinking of our selves in terms of bedtime schedules, food schedules (as well as likes and dislikes), where we want to go or what we want to do. It challenges our own family traditions and the things that we want/or need.

'Grouping up' challenges all of those things.  It causes us to think about others, not just ourselves. It causes us to let go of some of our personal boundaries and learn to give and take on the things that we want.  It causes us to find our way in the midst of community instead of living our individual lives. 

'Grouping up' reminds me of living as a community of faith.  We are called to come together. To mesh together all of our individual wants and desires to the needs of the community.  It causes us look at our 'traditions' and find something new for those that are gathered.  It begs us to always be looking forward and not just think about the needs of one group but the needs and desires of all the subgroups. In 'grouping up', in living as a community we must be willing to find the common ground, to find the good that will benefit everyone not just one subgroup.  There is not one subgroup that is more important than another.

Where have you been 'grouping up'.  Where are you being called to give up your personal wants and desires for the needs of the community?  Where are you being called to find a new tradition?  Where are you being asking to do things in a new way?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

From the mouths of babes....

Each day as we make our way to school we come up and over a hill before turning onto "Vietnam Veterans Blvd".  Over the past several years we have had our share of Contributor vendors.  With each vendor that we have formed sort of  bond with them. Often giving them a dollar donation without taking the paper. There have been plenty of times that we have not had the dollar bill to purchase a paper and usually Emma has something to say about us not stopping.

Our most recent vendors name is Andrew.  He is a younger gentlemen that is friendly, willing to strike up a conversation and takes great pride in himself and the way he speaks to everyone.  One day I simply realized that he was probably hungry so I took the snack I had packed for the day and simply handed it to him.   Since then Emma has commented about packing extra snacks for him.

We have both commented about him needing something warm to drink. It has been so deep in Emma's mind that asked me repeatedly to purchase cups so that we could simply hand him a cup of coffee.  We made a pack, that on the days that we made coffee for ourselves that we'd simply fix another cup and take it in the car with us ready to hand off to him.

Those simple comments often bring a sense of joy deep within.  I am touched and thankful that some of the things that we are trying to teach Emma are sinking in.  One night not long ago, I couldn't believe Emma's sensitivity to all that was happening around her.  As we pumped gas, she said "Mom, I'd like to get Andrew a Christmas present."  I quickly said "Ok."  She continued by saying, "can we get him a car."  I smiled and just said well I'm not sure about that Emma.

About a minute later, Emma said "cars cost a lot of money don't they?" "Yes" I replied.  "Well then, I guess Andrew doesn't make enough money to keep a car."  I couldn't believe it..."You're right, Andrew doesn't make enough money to keep a car."  We had a short conversation about how hard it was when you don't have a car yet need a car to get you to and fro.

I asked her what she thought he needed "a good meal and maybe some clothes."  I said "yes!"

A few nights ago she wrote her note to Santa and my heart was full as I read the letter.  She was clear in asking for the one thing that she wants this Christmas and then added:  "Could you please, please bring something to Andrew our local Contributor Vendor.  He needs a nice Christmas".  I wanted to cry that my sweet girl saw beyond herself and saw someone else's need.

A few days ago, we made sure to go by Goodwill and Burger King (because these two things are right down the hill from where we meet him daily).  In Goodwill, Emma's heart again began to spring forth again. They had a bike for sale and Emma wanted to get him a bike. I finally convinced her to allow him to choose something by himself.  It wasn't about how much we spent or what we were getting she was merely delighted to have purchased something special for Andrew.

So often we overlook those in whom our lives intersect.  I am praying that my sweet, sensitive Emma never lose the innocence of seeing others for who they are and what they add to this world.  I pray that she never lose sight of all that we have been given in this world.  I pray that she always be bold enough to care for her neighbors no matter who they are or what they look like.

I have been thankful for her insights this season.  I am thankful for all that she adds to this world.  I am thankful that she is listening to the very One that created her and sees the world through His eyes.

Emma, thanks for all that you have taught me this season.

Who is teaching you?  What are they showing you about the world around you?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prayer

I haven't journaled about my trip to the Holy Lands but one of the things that happened was a sense of prayer.  It actually started a little over a month before I left.  I had three different 'events' that occurred that were all leading to the same conclusion, that I had to find a way to come to God.  I had to find a way of reconnecting to the Holiness that awaits me every single day.  I also knew that I had to bring the community of faith together, to lift up our leaders....the people within our community.....lift up the hurt and brokenness....the worries....fears and anxieties.....to celebrate and proclaim the joys...the moments of healing that are upon us and given to us.

I knew that was what I being asked to do.  I have been a part of prayer services in the past and I simply didn't want to settle for going through the list of names on the back of the bulletin.  I wanted to be real, I wanted to meet the needs and speak them out loud!

As we walked through the holiness of the Land of our Great God, I kept feeling a pressure to come. I kept feeling like I was being asked to be quiet.  I kept feeling like I was missing something. Then it happened, we were at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher  and I could not keep walking through the holiest sites I had ever seen without stopping and pushing the world away.  There were tons of persons in a very small space, and I found a quiet space on a bench.  At first it was very difficult.  I knew that my group was walking around and perhaps leaving the space.  Even with my eyes closed I knew that the room was being filled with people and the space was becoming more crowded.  


I wanted to run, I wanted to stop and simply find my group but I closed my eyes and then I found it.  This space where I couldn't hear any of the voices that were surrounding me.  I no longer felt the need to run to get up. I knew that a magnetic power was pulling me even closer, even deeper into it's presence.  I was completely alone with my Redeemer, my Friend, my Comforter, Prince of Peace and Counselor.  I was able to speak to God in a way that I had not known in such a long time.  I knew a power that was fresh and restorative.  


Upon my return home, a freshness has fallen upon me.   


The group that gathers at our new prayer service are open, willing and excited to meet God each and every week.  They make me want to come, they make me want to continue talking with God in a different kind of way.

Last night as I read the scripture and saw the weariness in each of them, I was pulled to lay hands upon each of them.  I am not sure how the words came or how I knew what their intimate thoughts were but our Almighty God knew and brought the words forth.  God's magnetic power pulled me to each of His servants.

Here is what I wrote on my facebook this morning: Prayer is an interesting thing, it is a process of emptying and yet being filled all at the same time. It is a bit frightening to pour your soul out and let your fears, worries and uncertainties be known. Yet it is fulfilling when you allow God's presence to guide, direct and illuminate your path. I am thankful for friends who pray with such honesty and depth. May your day be filled with God's presence as you lean into His presence.




Prayer...it is simply powerful.  I cannot explain it but what I do know is that my Great and powerful Creator is listening!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Refresh

To refresh means:  "to revive...to give new freshness or brightness..to restore and to fill up again".  


This summer's heat has been excruciating!  There have been plenty of days where just trying to get the car cooled has been a challenge.  The other day was another day in the low 90's and just being outside literally took my breath.  In the midst of the heat I had the privilege of walking into a local restaurant to sit at a table with 4 persons in whom I love and respect. 



As always the conversation was filled with laughter, grace, thought provoking questions and love. Each person adding a moment of refreshment to my life.


I am honored to sit with each of them every single month.  I know that as I sit with them that they rivive my passion for serving God in a personal journey; not just in leadership for the church.  


I am always amazed and in awe of my friend TW as he speaks with honesty and compassion. He simply has a way of talking that speaks the truth in love and grace.  He revives my soul in a way that is indescribable.  Every moment that I am able to share in his presence I experience the power of Christ. 


I am so thankful for my friend DL as his passion for people encourages others to feed the hungry and clothe the sick.  His passion for the least and the lost inspires me to remember those around me.   He brings a bright light into this world.


My wonderful friend JS aways has a way of looking at things with fresh eyes. He strives to think outside the box and confront things that are hard.  He has a way of bringing a freshness to the conversation.  His humor lightens the load and brings laughter to us all.


My sweet and wonderful friend HB is a woman of strength and deep insight. She sees the heart of persons and isn't afraid to lead even when the leading is hard.  She restores my belief that persons are good at the core and that Christ is present in all situations.  I treasure her opinion and thoughts more than she would ever know.


I have many other friends who truly revive my soul.  They add a brightness and freshness that restores my hope and faith in the world around me.  I am so thankful for persons like MW, MNP, LAB,CS, AG-F (and so many others) who bring a sense of freshness into my world.  


While it was another hot day and my schedule had been packed that week, God brought me into the sanctuary of friendship.  A sanctuary and holy ground where my soul was refreshed.


Who refreshes your soul?  Who helps to fill your tank when you are tired and empty?  Where do you find refreshment for your parched soul and heart?  I give thanks that my friends help to fill me and refresh my spirit.   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hope

God works in amazing ways.  One day last week I had the privilege of watching the sun rise over the trees painting the sky with  beautiful hues of pink, gold and purple.  As I looked into the sky, I took a deep breath and gave thanks for being apart of something so amazing.  That night in a rare twist of events as I drove home I witnessed the sun stretching across the horizon and watched as the light brought forth a different color of red and orange.  I'm not sure that I have ever seen the beauty painted across the horizon twice in one day.  


In the midst of craziness of life the awe of experiencing a breathtaking sunrise and sunset in one day seemed to fade.  The calmness and the hope that each of those sceneries brought into my life faded under the pressure of trying to do the everyday.  Today as I made a quick scroll through the ever changing Facebook status I noticed that someone had asked a simple question: what has given you a bit of hope lately.  


I realized that the sunrise and sunset had given me hope that something new would be created and come deep within me. I experienced hope as a doctor listened as someone I love described their symptoms in a manner of boldness.  I experienced hope as a new medicine was given to help find peace and calmness for the one whom I dearly love. I  felt hope rise as I saw the joy come across the face of a person who felt as they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders be lifted for just a second.  I experienced hope as a group of adults committed to partner with young persons as they grow in their journey of becoming a Disciple of Jesus. I knew hope and goodness and I listened to someone pour words of appreciation and love upon me for just being me.  I realized that I have experienced hope in so many ways in the past two weeks.


Hebrews 11 tells us that "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see."  I am certain that I serve a God of faithfulness and one that has placed a song deep within me.  I am thankful for the grace that is abundant. I am thankful for that hope that rises (even if for a moment) in the midst of the dangers...in the midst of the absolute darkness....in the midst of the turmoil.  I am thankful that while I cannot see the future,  I have the hope that tomorrow will bring another beautiful sunrise and sunset for me to breathe in and enjoy every hue and stillness.


Where have you experienced the hope of something new being revealed to you?  How have you experienced the hope of a new beginning reigning down upon you?  Where do you need to open yourself so that you might experience the sense of hope in your life?



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Celebration

Today I awoke a bit early so that I could sit in the silence of the morning.  Today is a day of celebration!  It may sound silly but we have a tradition in our home that we set aside a day at the end of each summer to mark the beginning of something new.  Every year we take the opportunity to spend an entire day together as a family.  The day is set aside to do one thing, celebrate!!

Yes we celebrate the goodness that we've had over the summer but more importantly we celebrate the beginning of another year of school.  The beginning of school is seen as an opportunity to remind us to be open to learning and exploring in ways that we have not experienced before. It's the opportunity to open ourselves to new relationships and take a stand for the things that we hold dear. 

It is also a day of celebrating E in all the things that she has accomplished in the past year.  I'm not talking about the 'things or the awards' but who she is becoming. Yes, today is a today of encouragement...a day of recognizing the courage, the boldness, the deep sensitivity, the creativity, the sense of compassion that lives within her.  While we speak these things throughout the year today is set aside to speak these words to her so that as she begins her school year every ounce of her is filled with a celebration of all that she is!

So often I think we allow our pressures of the world to push us and determine the path. We forget to celebrate the small things...the joy of living in a country that provides education for children....the way children grow as individuals and contribute to the world around them....the creativity and sensitivity that lives within each and every person....days and moments of being a family....having breakfast, lunch and dinner together as a unit....and so many more!

Today as you begin your day, what do you need to celebrate? What person in your life needs to be encouraged?  Where do you need to be open to new adventures and exploration?  My prayer for you is that today you find someone and something to celebrate.  May your day be filled with the warmth of pure love and laughter. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Holding on

It hits about this time every year; that the unscheduled days of summer fly by all to quickly.  Two weeks from now our nights will already be filled with homework, preparing for the weekly spelling test as well as the dreaded math facts timed quizzes, getting to bed on time ,trying to get up in the morning to get to the bus on time!  Yes, the unscheduled nights of simply deciding to to the pool and not have dinner until 7:30 or so are quickly coming to an end.  

I always want to push back on time and claim more days of simply being outside on the back porch trying to catch lighting bugs, playing the wii until we can't jump or dance any longer, and swimming until we are completely water logged . I always want just a bit more.   A bit more of the moments where I can truly enjoy Emma being a child with no worries in the world.

Today while I write my sermon, I am torn. I wonder if we have played enough....have we laughed loudly enough....have we danced our hearts out in the living room enough.....have I been an example of love to the ones I care for the most.... 

I always want more time in the summer. I want more days at the pool....more opportunities to invite friends over on the spur of the moment...and simply more times to love and laugh.  

I want to hold onto summer for what it reminds me of from my own childhood.  I want to hold onto summer for 'moments' it provides me to look beyond the schedule and live in the joy of the day.  I want to hold onto summer for the childlike things that we take the time to do and explore.  I want to hold onto summer.

Yet the reality is that another season awaits us and there is no need to hold on so tightly to that which is ever moving.  I must take told to live in the season that is before me. Opening myself to the joys of tests that are passed....knowledge that is gained...skills that are enhanced...and relationships that grow.

As I let go of the summer and the unscheduled days, I embrace and take up the goodness that has been had.  May we walk together holding onto the One that created all things for good.  May we help one another to let go of the things we need to be released. May we encourage one another in the continuing those things that bring us joy and gladness. May we find ways to explore and celebrate with the heart of a child!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Coasters

When Emma was four and about to begin Pre-K we decided to take a family day trip to Beach Bend Amusement Park to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of a new adventure called school!  Every summer since then we've spent a day at an amusement park riding rides and laughing with one another (often taking close friends with us).  This year we upped the ante taking three days for thrills and adventure at Kings Island. 

Emma is tall enough to ride every ride in the park so needless to say we were pumped!  We were ready for the adventure from the moment we walked in the Park.  We immediately jumped on the smaller rides eventually moving to the bigger, more serious rides with twist and turns.  We were laughing, screaming and pushing ourselves to ride in the front car of the rides.  But then it happened, we jumped on a ride and the reality of fear fell upon Emma.  Firehawk is literally unlike any other ride I have ever been on.  You stand up (ok so I've done that before) they lock your feet in (I had never done that), and pull a strap over your shoulders (normal) but then the ride flips you on your back and you do the ride backwards and upside down.  During this ride Emma was literally filled with a fear of helplessness begging for someone to help her.

I could tell that the ride frightened her deep within her being.  As we made our way around the back side of the park, Emma found the courage to get on another ride. Not just any ride but a ride with 3 corkscrews and 3 full flips. As we climbed aboard Emma did her normal thing, grabbed my hand and told me how she hated going up the hill.  Needless to say this ride that  flips you upside down 6 times (the Vortex) became Emma's favorite ride during our three day adventure.

Each time she reached for my hand I smiled knowing that she was putting her trust in something greater than herself.  In life it is so difficult to keep walking when you are filled with fear.  When those moments come in our lives most of us want to stop and pull the covers up over our heads.  Our hearts are beating a bit to fast for our taste.  Our heads are swimming with doubt that leads us to believe that we are a failure at what we were trying to accomplish.  While we walk forward we often lose trust in the people and things that surround us.

I was reminded that I have to be willing stretch out my hand as a gesture that I cannot do things on my own. As I stretch out my hand I must be willing to trust that there are others that love me and want the very best for me and are willing to calm me if I allow them to enter in.

As we walk this journey, what has taken your breath away?  What is making you feel hopeless and insecure?  Where are you letting your fears over take the joy and adventure that is coming your way? Where do you need to stick out your hand and place your trust into someone bigger than ourselves?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Traveling

Today as my family and I prepared to leave on our summer vacation (vaca as we like to call it) there was an excitement in the air.  We could not wait to get on the road and head towards our destination. This year our family vacation is filled with adventure and amusement as we spend the next several days at Kings Island.

Kings Island is a mere 5 hours north of our home and normally a breeze to travel to.  Today the journey was a bit different.  There were several points along our way in which we encountered traffic from work being done on the pavement.  We found ourselves crawling along not being able to cover very many miles.  I tried to distract myself my reading a new book but I found I was merely getting irritated at the delay.  I wanted to cover more ground, I wanted to move faster; I wanted to get to our destination. I do not know why I was in such a hurry; there was nothing on our agenda but getting to our hotel.  


We always carry maps (yes, old fashion paper maps that you have know now to read) in our cars.  When we stopped for a restroom break we figured out where we were and merely began traveling off the beaten path and eventually back to the interstate.  The simple act of moving calmed my spirit a bit.

Tonight as I sit in the comfort of the hotel I have been thinking about my journey with Christ.  It's so funny, God reveals something to us and we get so excited about walking toward the adventure that has been laid before us.  We do all the prep work and then we finally get on the 'road'  things begin to happen. What seemed like so much fun is suddenly filled with distractions or detours.  What you thought would simply take a few months to accomplish becomes clear that it's going to take much longer than you had hoped.

Sometimes it's not about accomplishing something it is merely our relationship with Jesus.  We are excited about the adventures that are before us as a disciple and then we get irritated when our destination of holiness seems so far out of reach.  Distractions arise and we find ourselves off the beaten path.  Yet eventually if we know how to read the map and take the time to see the full picture  we realize  that we can make our way back to the main road. Eventually we are back on track moving with swiftness and purpose to all that God has called us to be.

What does your road look like?  May your travels be filled with amusement and adventure as you continue to travel swiftly or as at a crawl.  

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lighting Bugs

Last night as the sun fell behind the horizon Emma was ready to catch lighting bugs.  I found a mason jar and of course punched holes in the top.  It was truly a delight to watching her run through the yard.  She was dressed in her night gown, flip flops and a sock monkey hat (yes, a sock monkey hat that we purchased earlier in the day and she fell in love with it. Even as I write this on Saturday morning she is sitting with her new favorite hat on her head).  The sight of her running through the yard after the fire flies made my heart sing.

Catching fire files isn't as easy as I remember but all at once we both began laughing at the sight of the two of us running through the yard.  Laughing at one another, laughing at the lighting bugs that seem to be out smarting us and simply laughing because we were enjoying the simplicity of the night. 


In the midst of our fast paced, scheduled filled world how often do we really sit back and enjoy the simplicity that surrounds us?  How often do we laugh until our belly hurts or smile until our face hurts?  More importantly how often do you take the time to just enjoy our family and the moments we share?  


I am so thankful for the sight of Emma running through the yard with her night gown blowing in the breeze, her flip flops flopping on the ground and sock monkey hat bobbing up and down with each step.  


What are you thankful for on this day?  What simple and yet profound joy and laughter have you experienced today?  Last night reminded me of the days of my sisters and I running through the yard while my parents sat on the back porch (more like landing from our kitchen door) all of us laughing and enjoying the long joyful days of summer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Listening

Over the past several weeks I have been conflicted about a situation.  I simply did not see the situation the same as others.  I wondered if there was something I was missing or if I were to stand my ground and give voice to a different opinion. 

As the weeks passed I continued to seek the Holy One asking for the path that I needed to take to be illuminated.  As in many situations that each of us encounter I longed to have the path revealed and yet it eluded me. Then the other night in the midst of a very heated conversation something began to happen that opened my heart and mind. I heard two very important questions floating to the surface. Questions that are the core of who I claim to be.

The first question that came to me was "who do you say that I am?"  If I am one that believes that Jesus is one that always redeems; then I must be willing to offer redemption even when I do not fully understand or agree with the actions and responses of another.  If I believe Jesus to be one that restores; then I must be willing to restore relationships even when they have caused anxiety and conflict over something I do not fully understand.  If I believe Jesus to be the Good Shepherd that comes after the one that has lost their way; then I must be willing to go after the one (the person or idea) that brings the community together.

 The second thing that I heard was: "love your neighbor as yourself."  Loving our neighbors isn't just about loving those that live right next to us; those that are like us; or those that enter the walls of our church.  If I am to love my neighbor I must stop along the road when someone is hurting.  I must tend to them even when it is difficult.  I must tend to them even when I do not want to.  This sounds so easy but it is not when we get right down to it. 

In the midst of situation that I could not seem to find my way I heard something that I did not expect. I heard two important questions that led to responding in a way that I proclaim and often fall so short of living.  I experienced once again, that a right decision often leads to loving righteously.  It opens us in a different way that stretches us beyond what we are accustomed to. 

In the midst of your difficult situations may you listen to the questions that are waiting you.  May your eyes be opened and your ears be tuned to that in which you least expect.  May you be able to stand and love deeply.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Self Doubt

Just recently I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with a dear friend of mine.  As my friend stayed with our family for several days he made some keen observations.  After several days of listening and watching me, my friend took a deep breath and pointed out something very important to me. 

My friend calmly and lovingly said; do you realize how much you put yourself down?  He continued by saying; I have watched and listened to you and I am tired of putting yourself down. I will not tolerate you doing that from this point forward.  You are more than you give yourself credit for. 

I listened with an open heart and was stunned. I was is awe that someone could see through me and see the self doubt that lives deep within me.  I have always had a sense of confidence when it came to my path as a leader within the church but in so many other areas I doubt my abilities. I compare myself to others and so often see the places I have missed the mark.

Throughout this Holy Week, I have been thinking about this basic question:  Why haven't I as a human being (one that believes that my Redeemer calls me His Beloved) grown tired of comparing myself and putting myself down? I would never allow someone else to speak the words to me that I speak to myself.  Why do I tolerate myself speaking harsh words of comparison?

In this amazing week, I am experiencing the renewing of myself.  I have a free gift of God creating me new and whole each and everyday, all I need to do is to accept it.  I do not need to tolerate the self doubt when the Master has told me that I am a new creation.  I do not need to lean into the the part of me that tears myself apart instead of building up the good that lives within me.  As you walk the road ahead of you, may you find someone who speaks the truth to you even when it hurts.  May you realize that you are good and whole just the way you are.  Breathe deeply and accept yourself. Join with me in saying: I am good!
 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Water

On Ash Wednesday the sanctuary was filled with dry, parched branches and twigs.  Since then each week has brought about different shades of green to represent the growth that is upon us. We've moved from the dry branches to branches that have budded into flowers and are unfolding into full leaves.  This past Sunday as a branch with buds barely opening were placed on the pulpit I simply smiled.  I loved the color that was before me.  I loved the sense of life that I was standing in the midst of. 

I absolutely loved that the branch held life and was coming into it's own.

Then it happened....

I looked down in the middle of the second service and noticed that the blossom on the tree branch was already withering.  The buds that were so full a few hours before were fading.  I was stunned by the stark difference in just a few hours and then I realized something very important.  The branches were no longer attached to the very thing that provided security for their well being...they were no long connected to the trunk that led to the roots that held the water they so desperately needed.

The branches needed to be connected to the tree...the branches needed to be connected to the water source in order to have life.

The branch was me; it represents each of us that get disconnected from God's living water for one reason or another.  We may not think that it's that important for us to connect ourselves to God on a daily basis but the reality is that we are not that different from the branch. God seeks to give us a living water that helps us to blossom into all that we were created to be.  We may flourish for a moment on our own but if we are not connected to our water source we will surely wither in one way or another. 

I am thankful for the water and for the ability to be connected to something that desires to give me life.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Walls

In the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about walls. Yes, walls.    Last week I spent time at a beautiful place called Beersheba Springs Assembly. It is one of our United Methodist campgrounds in the amazing mountains of the Cumberland Plateau.  I know that as I make the steady drive up the mountain that my cell coverage begins to drop.  This  year as I arrived 'on the mountain' I was pleasantly surprised to find that my cell coverage wasn't completely lost.  


We could text and make phone calls without having to stand at the overlook and without having to hold our phones in a particular place.  It was a wonderful thing to be connected.  And then it happened, I walked into our main building and lost all coverage.  At first I was frustrated that when I walked into a particular place my cell coverage would immediately drop. Yet, as our time 'on the mountain' continued something strange began to come to me. 


I realized that the bricks that were keeping out the cell coverage were not any different than the bricks that I have placed around my own heart.  Throughout my life I have carefully laid brick after brick to protect me from the mighty winds that have blown within my life.


Some bricks were laid with careful thought while others were laid without my initial awareness.  Each brick keeps a relationship from being realized, a vision from fully being communicated, a risk from being taken and most importantly it often keeps me from opening myself to the One that loves me the most.  


Just as the bricks at Beersheba kept my text from being sent or received, each brick that I have placed around my heart keeps me from receiving and giving God all that I am.  God is longing to provide me with the coverage I desperately seek to create myself.  If I am to let God provide my cover then I must stop building the walls that keep Him at bay.  

Today may the walls that encircle my heart begin to be taken down.  May your walls begin to be broken down so that you may find rest from all the building. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Creativity

Every 9 weeks our daughter's school gets a two week break.  It is always a welcomed time in our busy schedules.  The two weeks provide a time and space for us to simply be.  Yesterday as we prepared the house for the arrival of grandparents, our daughter Emma said "our breaks always make the days feel so long".  I immediately replied "yes they do when every single minute isn't scheduled or filled with something to do."

 There is a joy in not having every single minute of the day scheduled or planned out.  It is refreshing to close the calendar, not be consumed with the next thing on a to-do list, not care if the phone is ringing and to enjoy the day as it comes. 

Not being consumed with the schedule or list of the day brought forth a time of creativity for Emma and I.  We took the time to color outside the lines and be creative with chalk.  We created a mosaic of chalk art on our driveway.  We didn't care if the dust from the chalk moved from the pavement onto our hands or clothes.  We simply sat in the midst of the creativity  letting our minds be free.

When was the last time you put down your calendar, took off your watch and simply let your mind run free? When was the last time you allowed your spirit to be set free to create something unexpected?  I'm certainly not a 'crafty' kind of person nor do I have a great art skill but there is something about setting the mind and soul free to create.  May you find a time to set your soul and mind free from the demands of your schedule. Soak up the creativity that surrounds you and let your soul soar.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Parched Season

 Yesterday our sanctuary was transformed into a place where one could see and feel death.  It was transformed into a place where the parched and thirsty space could penetrate into every part of your being.  As I sat there watching our worship team transform the space I became transfixed on the smell and the feeling of death. I was drawn to the uncertainty that surrounded me.

In the midst of sitting in the gray and dry space I suddenly began to see the darkness with new eyes.  For days I have been watching the bush (well it's more than a bush) outside my window.  The huge gray and dry blob outside my window seemed to be lifeless, and yet after sitting in our sanctuary I realized that the tree is anything but dead. 

In the midst of the branches that would break easily there is a life that is hidden deep within. There is life waiting to be called forth.  It is waiting for just the right moment to make it's entry into the world and open to it's full bloom.  I believe that's what Ash Wednesday does for us; it recognizes the death and the gray branches within us that can be easily broken.  It calls forth the darkness and dryness that often penetrates our hearts during certain seasons of our lives.

As our foreheads are smeared ashes, it is like God watering our souls so that the gray, broken branches deep within will receive new life. The coldness of the winter months are being replaced with a warmth of the Holy One coming into our lives.  

Yes, our holy space has been transformed; it is filled with death but in the death comes new life. As we walk the season of Lent I am excited about experiencing death and the dryness of my heart so that I can fully experience the resurrection that is coming my way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday, March 4th

This week our daughter was given a gift, 3 simple buttercups.  As I saw them sitting on our mantle in a simple vase I was immediately taken back to a the fields of my childhood.  The fields of my grandparents where we would run freely and pick as many buttercups as we could possibly hold.

Buttercups are simple and yet beautiful.  As they make their way out of the ground each year it is always the first sign of a new season...new life making its way into this world. The bright yellows and white dot the landscape and draw us in beckoning us to take a deep breath.

Over the past several months I have wondered about blogging, about what it would be like to have a place to share my thoughts, to open myself to the world around me.  To allow persons to see a glimpse of me that they might not otherwise see.  I have been drawn to opening myself like the buttercups of the season...opening myself to something new. 

I have no idea if the words that fall upon this page will reach anyone but myself. I am simply opening myself to something new to see where our great Creator leads me in the seasons to come.