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


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