Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Creativity

I wouldn't call myself creative on any level.  

I actually tell persons I'm the only one in my family that didn't get a tactile kind of creativity.  My dad works with his hands, he's able to see beautiful items and shapes out of the trees that surround us.  My mom has always been able to take simple things and create a variety of items from beautiful boxes to handkerchief blankets.  My oldest sister is an artist at heart, she has always been able to see shapes, colors and textures and put them all together. My twin sister is one that takes a house and creates a home with beautiful colors, hand sewn drapery,  and warm touches.  

When I describe myself I always say that everyone in my family has a creative spirit. 

Then I have quietly (as if it's not as creative or note worthy enough) add that my creativity comes out in my preaching.  

Today I got to spend the entire day with Emma.  We were working on creating some Christmas presents for the cousins and grandparents.  
The 'craft' involved a couple of key steps.
1.Emma choosing a word that describes each of her cousins (which we did several weeks ago)

2.Emma choosing a font that we could use to cut out the word to put upon the canvas.

3.Us talking about the medium in which we would use in order to trace the font and cut it out.

4.Us talking about the colors for each canvas once the word medium was chosen. Which meant Emma taking the time to mix the colors to create just the perfect shade she was looking for...the perfect shade she could see in her mind.  

5.  Emma painting each canvas while I cut the words out of the specific mediums that we had chosen.

6. Us talking about the different 'extras' that would be added to each canvas along with the word that described the person.

In the midst of all of this Emma said, "Mom, why do you say that you aren't creative?  You are very creative.  Look at all that we are doing."  I just don't think that I'm that great at it. Painting, creating, putting colors together and pulling it all together is just so hard for me and I always look at stuff like Pintrest and magazines for my ideas.  I told her that I never considered myself creative until she came into my life.  Being creative was a way of spending time with her.  It was something that I could do with her, simple crafts that bind us together in time and simple pleasure.  Crafts allow us to laugh and share in ways that we don't always take the time for.  I liked creating because it gave me time with her.  

Today there was a mess in the kitchen and in the midst of the mess something creative was emerging.  Canvases that express heartfelt words for family were given life.  Yet the most important thing about being creative was time spent asking for Emma's opinion, allowing her the space to do the things she wanted, to hear the thoughts that have been rattling around in her head and to merely be together.

What part of you wants to look around and proclaim that everyone else has something to give?   How long has it been since you wrote your thoughts, doodled on that page, took a photograph for the joy of it?  When was the last time that you saw the creative spirit that you add to this world? May your voice inside proclaim: I am creative and wonderfully made!  May you know that the mess on your desk just may be the unique idea that brings people together.

  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tea

            Some days your path leads you through the fog and straight into the warmth of deep conversation.  The invitation and warmth to enter begins as you turn down the driveway.   The turn leads you to a sanctuary, to sit within someone's reach, to partake of the gallery of art that spans the ages.  A hand waves you forward and you find yourself turning the corner and feel full before you even enter.  As you step out of the car, your pulse slows because the invitation is so pure.  As you walk the steps you are  welcomed by the blessings at the door; the invitation to take off your shoes and be a part of the family.  

       The inside is filled with color.  The kitchen bar is filled with a variety of tea pots, all ready to be used.  There are a variety of vibrant colors, all pulling you in to a sense of home.  Fresh, plump, green grapes high on a pedestal waiting to be eaten.  Beautiful red, yellow and orange peppers sit in a large bowl ready for the next meal.  Red cherry tomatoes in a small bowl inviting you to make a fresh salad.  The kitchen is warm, colorful and always has a kettle sitting on the stove inviting persons to linger in conversation.


    The tea kettle whistles, the tea is selected and the hot water fills the mugs.   A bit of sugar is placed within the tea that is so gentling making the hot water turn into drink that will fill the soul.  As the sugar settles it is stirred with a beautiful silver sugar spoon.   The time has come to sit and breathe deeply.



     The tea mug that might look more like a soup bowl than a mug is placed on the stack of books that fill the table.  The books that much like the art that hangs on the wall tells the story of the  soul of the one that has welcomed you in.  The tea is warm and the conversation begins.  It is one of richness, truth, celebration and sadness.  There is something about having a proper cup of tea in your hand.  It is as though all time is lost when you are able to share tea with one another. Several hours pass before you have realized it. The fog that darkened the way has now gently lifted and light has been found.  

     The light of friendship, of sharing a meal; that while  extremely simple has filled the body for the task that still lay before us.  The lightness of not being alone in the journey was felt if for a brief second.  There is something about sharing a cup of tea.

Today there was love and goodness given and received as a cup of tea was shared.  A bond of friendship and family was felt.



Hugs given and a gentle squeeze of the hand to bid one another farewell for the time but to be joined again as the tea kettle awaits.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Death

Death

It literally takes your breath away.

It never comes at the right moment in our lives.

It is always (no matter what the situation) more difficult than our words can fully articulate.

It brings out the worst and the best for loved ones as they navigate the curvy road of what is now their new reality.

I must admit that it has been a weary past week.  Death has invaded my life in a variety of ways this past week.  A week ago today my Aunt; whom I grew up right next door to until I left for college, transitioned into the Kingdom.  My Aunt's death wasn't a shock for 4 years she had been living with breast cancer.  And yet  her death has left a whole, a whole in my mom's daily routine.  A routine that included calling her to touch base with how she was and what her plans were for the day.  It was never a really long conversation and yet it was a touch stone.

Beyond my aunt, my week has been filled with hearing the news that one of Luke's former students from JPII had passed away, sitting with a member of my congregation whom was still grieving the death of his brother who died a few months ago and receiving the news that his youngest sister had been suddenly passed away yesterday and just this morning a dear colleague/friend (whom I've known since I was a youth and who I respect and care for deeply) life was changed as his soul mate unexpectedly died in his arms late last night.

There is a mourning, there are no words for those who are hurting and who have lost their touch-stone. There is merely a presence that must be had.  There is a presence of sitting and listening to.  There is a presence of just being with one another.

Today my heart is heavy, heavy for the many whose lives are so different than they were yesterday or last week.  My heart is heavy for the many who find themselves navigating a new road; a new path.

Death is never easy; it strips us of so much and leaves us with so many questions.  It leaves us longing for the cup to be taken from us.

The darkness fell in the garden, a deep deep loneliness that came to as Jesus realized that he was now facing a new and curvy road.  It was a darkness that led to a weariness, a loneliness and eventually to a cold tomb.  In its own time the darkness gave way to something new and different; to a resurrection.  A resurrection that offered a new road, a road that was still curvy but one in which was filled with light and love.

My friends and family today I am praying that as the darkness shrouds you in weariness and loneliness. As the questions rise and the night seems to lingers may you know that a light is being held out for you.  May you know that a new life will come and it will be filled with love and life.  May you know that in the loneliness that you will know that you are not alone.  We stand with you and for you here and our Alpha and Omega has walked with you and will go before you in this new curvy road.


Friday, September 27, 2013

The unexpected

There is something that is burning to be written...something pulling me inside as if I need to say something but to be honest I don't feel as though I have anything important to write or to say aloud.  

And yet....

there is a yearning that is pulling me to the keys to express something that is lingering within my very being.

All I can really think to say is:  God you are incredible.  You are beyond my wildest dreams.  Holy and most stunning creator I am thankful that you said yes to brining me into this world.  King of All, I am astounded to find you lurking and waiting for me in the unexpected places of my life.  Rock and Sustainer your presence in my life, your longevity and breath supersede any expectation that I have in  my frail little mind.

There is a way of living and being.  

A way of leaning into a presence......
         A way of accepting that which cannot be explained.....
             A way of opening yourself to the truth of who you are and who you were created to be......
                 A way of saying that in spite of all the crazy things that I do that disappointment myself  
                 and others I can be whole and forgiven......
                      A way of letting go of the pressures of accomplishment and comparison and saying I 
                      good...I am worthy......
                           A way of accepting that revival can come and transformation is a gift.

I have been reminded it is when I take up this way of living and being that I have the 'peace that surpasses all understanding'.  When I sit in the presence of the Holy over the glamor of the world...when I accept redemption over failure....when I claim my worthiness in the midst of my brokenness...and when truly give up my own expectations and proclaim 'have thine own way Lord' is when the unexpected rises to greet me.

Yes, there has been a new seed planted within and one I commit to tending to and it is was of revival and resurrection so that I may fully appreciate all the unexpected love and grace that is given to me daily.  



Monday, September 9, 2013

Silent Night...Holy Night

This morning I found my way back to my normal routine.

A routine that includes waking up Emma, preparing my lunch, making sure that everyone has breakfast and heading to the gym.

I've been back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands for four days now.  I've stood in the pulpit that God has given me here at Morton Memorial UMC to proclaim the Good News.  I've walked through the jet-lag and unlike my fellow pilgrims I was 'back' yesterday. I've gone to get groceries and put them all away.  I have planned our meals for the week.  I made sure that all the laundry was washed, dried, ironed and put away.   Today should not have been any different, it should have not have been as strange as it was.

But this morning was different.  The silence of the morning, the dew still hanging on the grass and the sun slowing rising above our sweet mountain gave way to something greater.

While I was riding the stationary bike at the gym I simply put my iPod on shuffle.  I haven't been to the gym in a month now due to family vacation and the pilgrimage to the Holy Lands.  As the hills rose on the screen before me and the resistance on the bike gained strength.  I found myself struggling.  I found myself shaking my head because it was as if I had never ridden the course that I had chosen.  The songs coming through my headphones weren't helping. The songs weren't taking my mind off the hills that lie before me.

Then as the iPod made a new selection, there came the soft tone of a song that I know by heart.  It was a song that might have seemed out of place on this September morning, but for me it wasn't out of place at all.  I turned up the volume closed and eyes and I was there in the words, singing in full voice (in my head of course!!).

Silent Night
          Holy Night
                All is calm
                     All is bright

Just a few days ago, we stood in the cave of the Church of the Nativity.  A few days ago we raised our voices in the hustle and bustle of all that was going on and remembered the holy night in which Jesus entered this world.

There in the Church of the Nativity we were reminded of the pressure that must have been upon Mary and Joseph as they came into the city.  A city that was full, packed to the brim (just like we were as pilgrims standing so close we could feel the heat radiating off of one another) and full of people trying to find their routine in the midst of being the Savior being born.

This morning as I rode the stationary bike, in my ordinary place I was reminded that every night is a holy night, every day has the awakening of calmness and that every single day no matter what the routine of my life brings that there is a bright and holy star lighting the way for me.

Today doesn't seem so strange anymore. I don't have the struggle to find the calmness or the peace. I don't have to feel like a failure when the resistance begins to press in.  I don't have let the overwhelming to-do list take away the calm.  

The Star, the holiness and the calm are all awaiting me.

Today I choose to touch the Star and to stand in the holiness of the bright and beautiful morning.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Making your way home

Making your way home 

I wrote this on the way home from the Holy Lands while I was sitting in the darkness of the early morning on the plane.


Home is an interesting word. It is definitely where your heart is....it is where your heart connects...it is where your soul is filled and where you find your foundation.


I have missed Emma  and Luke in more ways than I can count. Yet in the midst of wanting to be at home with them, I have been reminded that my home is so much broader and deeper than the two of them.

My home is found when I lean into the power of a creator that has spanned the ages.

Home is found as I push against a rock so strong that it cannot be moved. 

Home is the safety that abounds when the storms of life are ranging all around you and the Savior raises his voice to calm the seas just for you.

Home brings you back into community even in the midst of not always deserving it.

Home is the wisdom found in others.

Home comes when we offer all of who we are to a Father who embraces us and instantly offers a new set of clothes that offer warmth and protection.

Home is offered as a our name is spoken to come out of the darkness of the caves that have enveloped our lives; to be released from the things that have killed our souls and find a new life.

Home is found in our God who is so large , so incredible that he gives the promise of  many nations through the servant Abraham.  A home that expresses comes three distinctive ways of coming to him.

Home is the celebration of pentecost arising everyday as persons from around his globe come to worship, live, play and worship together.

Home is found in a Savior that says have thine own way lord.

Home is given when strangers are willing to open themselves to becoming one in Christ.

As the plane heads across the sea returning me to my precious family and the home that awaits me I must acknowledge that I have a new home. A home that I never expected to envelope me in such powerful ways;  but now  breathes new life within my soul.  I have a home that I long for in a different way, a home that I can come to at any moment within my day and one that will surround me in grace and forgiveness   Holy One, thank you for the pilgrimage to the home of of my faith for the nourishment that you laid before me as I dined with you  Thank you for the pilgrimage home to my family who await me with open arms.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Death to life

Our time is quickly fading here in the land that is full of presence and peace.

Our minds are disengaging from the awe of that which is before us and turning to the things of home.

My heart is heavy today as we make our way home from Bethany and the Dead Sea.  The drive home from the Dead Sea means that tomorrow is our last day here in the land where my Savior grew into a young man....grapled with the pressures of coming of age.....the place where he wasn't afraid to reach out and touch someone to heal the brokenness that lived within them....the place where he offered to be the living water for any who would want to drink of it and never thirst again.

We have all experienced moments of deep excavation of the soul during these days here in the land of our faith.  Moments where the rock and the dirt in our lives needed to be slowly and painstakingly brushed away.  In the midst of that deep soul scraping moments that we have experienced Jesus comes to us today and offers us an extravagent love that cannot be contained.  The calling us forth from our graves and releasing us from that which binds us is breathtaking.  

Our voices vibrated in unison as we worshiped at the chapel within the church at Bethany.  Tucked away in the top of the church we raised our voices and a sense of belonging together fell upon us. Fr. Frank walks with the heart and teaching of Christ and today challenged us to open our lives to fully receiving the love that Jesus pours upon us and then pouring that love upon the world around us.  Giving of ourselves in such a way that it is intimate and sensual as the anointing that Mary offered him.

There was an offerieng of life within the anointing...there is a death ath must occur in order for us to celebrate the life in which Jesus so graciously pours upon our lives.

Where is God offereing you a new anointing today?  Where is there growth occuring where death once reigned?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Agony and silence

Silence

The sun may have been beating down upon us but in the shadow of the Western Wall all things seem to fall away.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters were coming before their day of work or school began to pray and lift up their prayers to God himself.

I love the Wall.
I love touching the foundation of my faith.

I sat watching and listening as so many others experienced the holiness of the Wall for the first time ever.  In the listening and the watching I was drawn to a prayer book. I wanted to hold it and let the words of the Psalms flow upon me. I wanted to hold the words of Isaiah and remember the sacrifice that he was willing to make for the One that he so deeply believed in.  I sat holding a prayer book filled with symbols in which I did not understand; in which I could not read and yet there in the midst of it all was God.

The Rock of my salvation was before me.

The Strong Tower has  protected me from my enemies.

The Holy of Holies laid the foundation upon which I could build my life.

As I made my way to the Wall, to the Rock I could feel the tears welling up within me. The space was tight as people were pressed up against of the Wall.  We were all gathered in community, in one body wanting something so powerful that all we could do was to use one another for support as we leaded into the mighty strength.

The stones are worn from the millions of pilgrims who make their way to let their prayers rise like insence.

We walked the Palm Sunday road into the garden. A garden of olive trees dot the landscape and there we heard Jesus ask us why we fall asleep. As the sweat fell from my skin the words 'his sweat fell like blood' pulled me into the words in which I have the privilege of speaking as I celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion.  The silence fell upon us over and over....the weight of the carrying the burdens in our own lives....we felt the disappoitments that we keep hidden away came pouring out.

The garden......the silence.....the agnoy





Monday, September 2, 2013

He is Risen...he is risen indeed!

As we gathered on the terrace of the dining room for breakfast a gentle breeze blew across our souls. While eating breakfast the sun shone in full glory as the orange ball crept into the sky. Coffee, awe and goodness filled our breakfast tables as we prepared for the journey down the Via Dolorsa  into Calvary By 7:00am we were praying the stations along the Via; the way of the cross.The Old City was in full swing this morning with shops opening, children rushing off to school and parents making their way to work.  Each station brought a different emotion as to the weight that Jesus carried for us as he walked the hill to Calvary. The movement through the city heightened our awareness that as the cross was forced upon Jesus' back to carry through the city the people would have been going about their daily lives.  They wouldn't have stopped, if they did they did not linger on his presence they simply noticed that another criminal was being led through the city. The Via Dolorsa leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the place in which we come to experience the rock of Calvary and the tomb found empty.  The darkness inside the church (you must ask your loved one about this church for it is far too much to describe within this simple blog) led us to bedrock in which the crosses would have been placed.  We climbed these steep stairs that are worn with deep indentations of where so many persons have journeyed to merely reach out and touch the spot where their Savior died.  The steep steps give way to a dark, humid area. There below a very ornate altar each of us knelt  down ever so gently and through an opening the size of the average forearm to touch he top of a bedrock.;A rock so smooth and so cool and yet filled with the warmth of a new life. Each pilgrim took their time touching the rock...giving thanks for the new life. Ah...but then you go to the tomb. The slab is so cold, so smooth but there in the tiny little cave of an area you feel the presence as you lean in placing your hand upon the slab touching and sensing what it might have been like when Mary went to pay her respects on the first day of the week.  He is not there...Jesus has risen he has risen indeed!! It was a morning of much silence and personal reflection.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Transformation

We awoke early once again to watch the sun make its way across the horizon.  Today there was no haze, it was a beautiful pink line that greeted us and welcomed in the dawning of a new day.

It was a day of transformation as we left the sea and made our way to Mount Tabor; the place in which the transfiguration of Jesus occurred.  As we made our way the mountain and could see from the distance, the low lying clouds gave it a majestic and holy appearance; as if God himself had  made bleached it whiter than we could ever imagine.  The road up the mountain is a steep switch back three mile journey and yet one that is filled with a beauty of a one lane road and the glorious views of agriculture springing forth to life below.  Seven pilgrims chose to walk the three miles up the steep road to gain a sense of what it must have been like to travel with Jesus.  While the road was winding and steep the conversations that flowed were joyous and transformative.  The view of shades of green below that held a crop were stunning against the backdrop of the blue sky.

Standing on top of the mountain the wind was blowing ever so gently and provided us with a renewed sense of purpose and lightness within our beings.  Standing in the glorious domed church with the mosaic tile so golden that all you could do was to stand in awe and feel the presence of the divine wrapping in you a life of warmth, grace and mercy.  The welcome of a life of being transformed.  As we worshipped and sang "Sweet, Sweet Spirit"; 'we lifted our hearts in praise without a doubt we know that we will have been revived when we shall leave this place.'

Jesus' relationship with the disciples were transformed that day.  The journey up the hill gave them the gift of having their relationship with their teacher, transformed into what would become a relationship with their friend and Savior.  God assured us that we too are transformed, that we are experiencing something so holy within this pilgrimage that our lives with him can never been the same.

The hush of the Sea of Galilee gave way to the busyness of Jerusalem.  Fr. Frank raised a glass as we gathered in the lobby and said "To Jerusalem"...as if to shout a hallelujah to the King of Kings.  A quick drop of our bags in our rooms gave way to a quick walk through the Old City.  As we neared the Damascus Gate my heart began to sing, my eyes began to fill with tears and a lightness within my soul.  Just as  the disciples followed Jesus;  12 persons followed Fr. Frank Ruff  through the Old City.  Fr. Frank teaching and talking all along the way in a way that made  you feel as though you were walking with Jesus himself.  The love and passion that Fr.Frank has for our Lord is breathtaking.  We listened and walked celebrating that this is where our Savior came as a child to celebrate; made his own pilgrimage for the high and holy festivals throughout the year. It was a moment of touching the define and being transformed.

The beauty of the sea may have given way to the pavement of Jerusalem but the power of our Lord Jesus continues to make the journey with and for us.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Restore...to set right

Ever so gently the sun made its way across the horizon of the Sea of Galilee this morning, it was a gentle pink merely sneaking up and over the hills that encase the Sea of Galilee.  The clouds hung heavily in the sky as the the presence of a new day, the promise of a new life was offered to us once again.

Driving to the Mount of Beatitudes we saw the hills rising before us and forming the perfect amphitheater that makes it possible for one person to be able to speak to hundreds if not thousands of people .  The landscape is golden and dotted with shades of green.  As we gather to hear the words of our Lord proclaiming, 'blessed are those who are poor in spirit, blessed are those who morn, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are those who are pure in heart, blessed are those who are the peace makers and blessed are those who are persecute" God began to move within us.  The presence of the Holy fell upon us as the vibrant colors of the flowers pressed up against the contrast of the golden hillside.  The Spirit began to awaken us to the reality that our view was once his view.

Just as God's spirit moves, we moved to Capernaum to the place where Jesus offered so many the gift healing and restoration.  The heat began to press down upon us as we gathered  in the shade of a magnolia tree that shrouded us a bit of coolness and allowed us to focus on the movement upon the Sea of Galilee.  Capernaum, the home of Simon Peter and the place in which Jesus called home after he left his parents home in Nazareth.  Just as Jesus had called Matthew, he called us today.  He called us to experience a moment of healing.  Healing literally means to set right or to restore.  Jesus did not just extend the gift of healing; setting right to those of his time he tells us that we to can have our broken relationships healed/set right. Today Jesus offered us the gift of healing the lies within our heads that have told us we are not worthy; we are not good enough.  Today as the wind blew across the lake and the heat pounded upon our bodies, we came with all that we were and received the healing, the setting right, the restoration that our hearts had been longing for.

The joy of knowing receiving such an amazing gift was overwhelming to some.  The movement of the Spirit continued as we traveled to Peter's Primacy.  Peter runs away after the crucifixion and goes fishing and takes the others with him. In the early morning after the guys have been fishing; a place that says I am running away, I want to be safe from the crowds pressing in; Jesus starts a fire and ask the guys to come and have breakfast.  The fire is once again burning and Jesus ask Peter three times if he loved him  Of course Peter loves Jesus but he is ashamed of how he walked away, how he ran home to go fishing because it was easier to go fishing than to face his friend.  There in the heat of the day, the sun basking down upon us Jesus reminded us that he comes to us the dawning of a new day and invites us not just to breakfast but to the feast of love and acceptance.  We submerged our feet into the Sea and felt the warmth of being accepted flowing upon us.

The promise of a new life, of setting things right and experiencing restoration comes into its fullness when we stand hand in hand with our Savior and renew our baptism vows.  The covenant is filled with wholeness and offers to us a kingdom far beyond what we can imagine.  The Spirit was upon us as we stood alongside our brothers and sisters and renewed our baptismal vows at the banks of the Jordan River.

The Spirit of our Lord has been upon us today.  May you accept the gift of healing within your life....the gift of something, that one thing that is hidden away being restored or set right. May your healing come without hesitation.  New life is given, restoration has been received. Go forth and do likewise.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Building

Today has been a day of building.

We stood on the edge of the Mediterrian Sea listening as the waves crashed onto the land.  It was the land in which Herod  the Great built his great city and dedicated it to Ceaser.  Throughout history it has been a place in which building was central.  Building the Jewish community, then the Christian community and finally building and growing the Muslim community.  We began to ponder and ask ourselves what are we building in our lives? What kind of kingdom are we being asked to build, are we buildling one that is self serving? Are we building a kingdom that honors the Holy of Holies?

 We have been building community and building our relationship with our Christ.  As we climbed the hill to Nazaerth we carried the annunciation and promise of a new life that was given to Mary into our own hearts and minds. Mary's willingness and faithfulness to say 'have thine own way Lord' calls us to think about the ways that we are allowing God to have his will in our life b e done.  We have been challenged to ask if we meet God's annunciation upon our lives with a spirit of openness and willingness.  As we walked with Mary we wondered what our lives would be like if we did not have the gift in which God has bestowed upon us through Jesus Christ.

The hustle and bustle of Nazareth gave way to the scluded church in Cana.  An intimate setting in which we are reminded of the covenant that Jesus began to reveal as he turned water into wine.  We listened and understood that the wedding wasn't merely a family affair but a time in which the community/the village gathered to celebrate all that was happening.  Jesus celebrates each of us as he offers a relationship of transformation.

The day has come full circle as we saw the richness of the wood that was used in the boats during the time of Jesus.  The deep hues of wood that were crafted in such a way to withstand the winds of the Sea of Galilee.  As the winds blew across this lake this afternoon we heard the strength of the one that calls to us each morning asking if we will follow him for the day.  Our calling isn't just one of peronsl status it is one that ask us to go into the deep waters calling building relationships with others so that they too might know the joy and wonder of the Almighty.  Jesus invites us into the journey, ask us to consider doing life differently.  He shows us that no matter how powerful the winds may become the call to build and 'fish for others' leads us into a new life.

What are you building today?  What promise has God revealed to you to give you hope? Are  you willing to cast your nets deep into the life of relationship building?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Traveling

  Disclaimer...the bold or different font means nothing!! The blog was simply written at two different times....


   Pilgrimage in its purest form means to take a journey to a sacred place.  Today the pilgrimage is two fold.  It is a pilgrimage for my own soul, one that returns me to the land of my Savior. In less than 24 hours we will be landing in a land so holy and so rich that every step takes your breath away. It is a personal journey of walking the land once again and watching and listening in a new way.  It is a pilgrimage in which I hope that my steps are purposeful and slow.

     It is also a pilgrimage in which I get to lead 18 others who have never step foot on the land of our faith.  It is a pilgrimage in which I have the honor of helping to create space for others to feel the presence of our Lord in a new way.

     As we sit in the airport waiting the pilgrimage the pilgrims are each trying to find their own space and rhythm with one another.  Books and i-readers are being read and space is being found.



As the pilgrims find their space with one another a strange yet holy community begins to be formed. 

As community begins to form kindness and gentleness begin to emerge. Moments of unsettledness blossom into moments of grace and the unfolding of what it means to travel this journey together.
The pilgrimage to a holy place is not always a straight path with the shortest route (three flights and 20 something hours later) and yet that journey opens doors beyond what we could have imagined or expected.
The sun has set and risen again and we are gathering with our fellow Christ followers, jewish and ,muslim brothers and sisters awaiting the moment we can step onto the Land of our Faith....the Land of the Holy of Holies!

The hustle and bustle of the people has begun. The shades are up and children are laughing. A renewed sense of purpose has emerged as we near the Holy Land.  "take off your shoes for you are walking on holy ground."

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rethink

     I remember visiting a friend in Colorado and being in awe of the crisp, clear blue winter sky and looking over at the mountains stretching into the horizon and asking "do you ever get tired of this?" I asked him "Do you ever forget where you live and what you see?  Does the beautiful ever fade away?  Do you ever take it for granted?"  My friend quickly responded "nope, never!"
    Now that I live in the mountains myself I can say that I don't grow tired of the beauty...it doesn't fade away. But if I am honest there are other things that fade away.
 
       The other things that often fade away before I have realized it are all around me.  The things that seem to fade or slowly run together like the water moving across a painted canvas are the things like deep friendship.  Friendship that seems to span the miles; friendships that have carried the burdens; friendship that have cried from the depths of one's being and yet continue to gather together to celebrate; friendship that reminds you to be happy in where you are and to stay connected to a community of faith even in the brokenness and to tend to the needs of your family above all things.
   The things that are taken for granted are the ability to settled into the life of acceptance.  Acceptance by a community of strangers that grows into a family.  Settling into the comfort of an old pew that has heard the stories of faith over the ages and then invites one into the sacred space of
the Divine.  I forget; I miss that there is a comfort found in the power of a storybook sanctuary; the comfort and power of being connected something more powerful than yourself. I gloss over the stones that are made of tiny grains of sand are held together by One that has stood for me through the ages of time and isn't afraid of the weight of the world.
     There are things that get swept away by the tast of the day; like the love of a spouse or the laughter of a child.  There are grains of our days that wash away as we rush the conversation at dinner or miss that last hug as they walk out the door.  There are the everyday things like a bundle of flowers that are gathered in a vase that when left unseen cannot unveil the power of love that stretched years of walking into the open field to gather the beautiful yellow bloom that symbolizes that spring is coming; that new life is here.
     This season I am embarking on a daily 'challenge'.  A 40 day challenge of looking; seeing; thinking about things in a light.  The challenge offers a daily word and invites me to capture a picture that describes that word for me.  This challenge calls me to rethink how I view the everyday...how I view the ordinary.  This challenges me to rethink how I take things for granted and what I am allowing to fade into the background.

I want to rethink the daily...I want to rethink the ordinary.  I want to see with new eyes.

What do you need to rethink? What part of your life needs to be brought into a new light?  What things have lost their true meaning and need to be revised?  Are you up for the challenge to rethink the world around you?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weaving

     When I sit down to blog usually it comes fairly easy but this time I have started over many time. Tonight, I am still sitting here staring at these pictures.  I feel like I am meant to share these pictures and the story that is unfolding.  It isn't anything that I expected and yet it is consuming me because I see what it is doing for the people that have been entrusted into my care and I want to do my part in fulfilling all that God is unfolding.

    To be honest I wanted to do something for Lent that I had already done before.  I felt like it would give be the ability to be with my people during this season of Lent. I also wanted an opportunity to 'get ahead', so I turned to something that I had enjoyed preaching and teaching before.  This time I wanted to come at it from a different angel.

    As I prepared to preach on the Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus knew by James Bryan Smith the imagine that kept coming to me was a sense of


weaving God's character into our character. The entire book is based around falling in love with a God is broader than we could ever imagine. It is about shattering the images of God that hinder us from coming to him or from falling totally in love with all that He offers.  In the midst of the preparation the word and imagine of weaving just kept coming.

    The reality is that every single one of us has something that we would love to change...something that we don't like about ourselves.  It can be as simple as the way we look or as important as the way we respond to others.  It can be something that keeps us from experiencing or accepting others for who they are and trusting that they really care for us.  I could go on and on but the reality is that we all have that something....that something that we want to change.

     As we began our sermon series this past Sunday,  the scripture that came to me was from Matthew 11:28-30.  Jesus calls all those who are weary to come to him and he would give them rest.  I heard something that I had never heard before.  If I am to know the God that Jesus knew then God is inviting me to find rest in the stories that I keep hidden inside my head and my heart.  The stories that keep me from being fully transformed into who God has created me to be. They are stories that have been with me for years and that live within me brain telling me why I cannot fully change...telling me why I cannot be all that I am called to be.  The God that Jesus knew invites me (and all of us) to take a rest from those stories and hear a new story.

 God is inviting me to rest and step away from the stones that have been thrown and take up His story  
 of Protection.

God is inviting me to rest and put down the stories of failure and take up His story of conquering the
Greatest Giant.

God is inviting me to rest and step out of the furnace that feels like it is going to consume me and take up His story of Covering.

God is inviting me to rest  and to take His story of redemption and make it my story of redemption.

God is inviting me to rest  and weave His story into my story.

We as a people of God are not giving up anything this season of Lent, we are taking a rest from the stories that harm us... the stories that keep us from accepting who we are and what we have been created to do...the stories that tell us we are not good enough....

We invite you to come along with us in weaving your story into a new story.  We invite you to come along to weave God's story into your story and to take God's character so that you might weave His character into the world around you.




Friday, February 15, 2013

Fog

Fog...

It isn't just present in the mornings, it can last half the day and today was one of the days that it just didn't seem to want to lift.  

It wasn't just the fog here on the mountain that didn't want to lift, it was the fog inside my head that didn't leave as quickly this morning as I had hopped.  The fog of being disorientated and dizzy would not stop as I tried to lift my head.  Yep...it was the fog of vertigo.  This fog has been with me for almost a week now and it's amazing how difficult it is to maneuver when the fog in our lives doesn't lift.

Vertigo definitely brings about it's own kind of fogginess but I'm guessing that each of us have experienced some sort of fog in our lives.  The fog of disappointments role into lives and it doesn't matter what we do it feels as though we cannot catch a break...or the kind of fog that comes from not speaking the truth and the consequences of our poor choices continue to come when we least expect it.  You know the kind of fog that lingers when your're simply not in a place of truly forgiving that person that wounded you in way that keeps ripping open.  I'm guessing that some of us have known the kind of fog that clings to our every fiber as we struggle to find our purpose; the kind of purpose that fills us with pure joy and bubbles up from the things that we love the most.

Fog is an interesting thing....

There are days when we wonder if it is ever going to lift.....

We wonder if the think dampness that makes us want to crawl into a hole will ever give way to something warm and inviting.

Fog.....



It's funny because I actually started this post on Wednesday, February 13th (Ash Wednesday) because I was growing weary from waking up to a room that was spinning.  I was tired of the fog that seemed to make itself at home within my brain in a way that left it hard for me to focus.  I was growing weary...and then I looked outside and there after a long morning of wondering if the fog would be lifting any time during the day I realized that the fog WAS lifting ever so gently.  

The fog was LIFTING!

The fog didn't lift within minutes but took it's own sweet time to lift but the reality is that it was lifting and that it did lift.  

The same is true for us.  

Yes, while we might be wondering if the fog that has made itself at home deep within our hearts and minds will ever fully lift God is coming to us.  God is blowing the fog ever so gently out of our lives.  God is wiping the fog off of the limbs that are clinging to our lives.  We may not notice it but it is happening.  Tonight God is making His way into our being to bring a sense of warmth and light.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Fence

     Today I have been sitting on the fence between being happy for others and the things that God has brought into their lives and sulking at what I have not been able to obtain; or what I haven't been given.

     It's a weird place to be.

     I want to be happy for my friends.
          Happy that they have succeeded.
              Happy that all things have gone well for them.
                Glad that the words that they needed came and just the right time.

   And yet if I am honest, deep down I am jealous and a bit hurt.
          Yes, jealous that the pieces of their puzzle seems to fall into place.
             Sad, that I am angry that they get to celebrate such a goodness of a day.
                Hating myself that I want the recognition from others.

  As I sit here today, pride has been welling up within me.

   Pride is always a funny thing.....

  Pride always makes us want something more or different than what we have.  It makes us question the very thing that is before us.  It tears us away from the strengths that we bring to the table and that God has designed deep within us.  It makes us wonder why we are not chosen and why we have not received the accolades that we so deeply crave. Pride makes us think that it is all about who we are instead of who we serve.

The harsh reality is that if we lean into pride we will miss the journey that has been created for us before we were even born.  If we lean into thinking that the grass is greener on the other side then we will miss the opportunity to love and be loved by those who are surrounding us in the here and now.  The harsh reality is that we may perceive ourselves as average here on earth but in the next world we will soar with the very One who created each and everything thing with vibrant, stunning colors.

The fence of letting others soar while you desire that for yourself is hard to balance.

In the end, I think I will chose goodness and celebration both for myself and my friends.

What about you?  Are you sitting on the fence today; are you comparing yourself to others?  Are you wondering why it never works out for you and yet seems to always work out for someone else?  Are you wondering why everyone else gets the recognition?

Or do you want to lean into the joy and celebration of those that are surrounding you today?  Do you want to experience the presence of knowing that you have your own strengths and they do not have to be compared to another?  Are you willing to soar with the Creator today and all the tomorrows to come?

I choose to get off the fence and stand in the celebration...in the celebration of all that I am and all that is before me...in the celebration for a job well done for my friends....and give thanks that God has breathed his breath into me and that is what is important.





Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The unexpected.

         Some days are not at all what we think they are going to be.  

         Actually some weeks are not what you think they are going to be

.....and this has been one of those.......




It's interesting, never in a million years did I think that I would be traveling to the Holy Lands more than once in my life but here it is, I am returning this year....not just as a pilgrim but as a Leader; helping to open the Land of the Holy to those entrusted into my care.  It's an amazing thing and one that I don't think that I have wrapped my head around but that's another story for another time.

I have been making a list of persons who have been telling me that they were interested.  If I saw someone that picked up a brochure I added them to the list.  I simply wanted to create a list of persons in whom I could pray over and in whom God could reveal those who were to be a community for this two week journey.    My list has been growing...

Honestly there was a person in whom I heard wanted to go on this trip and my heart began to leap.  She's an amazing young woman.  A young woman who has a love for God, it's not the kind of showy faith that others think of. It's the kind of love for Christ that is filled with a deep warmth for others....it tends to the least in ways that others would never think of....it is the kind of faith that comes to life in and through worship (not jut the act of worship but the spirit of worship).  She is a young woman who works hard and rarely does for herself.

I knew that if she came on the pilgrimage it would be a huge sacrifice.  

This week I had the honor of telling her that someone had given her the gift of this trip.  I almost cried in joy for the gift that was given to her.  Then I had the amazing privilege of telling her that she was indeed coming on the pilgrimage with us.  She herself was almost in tears and what a joy it was to share that news.

Yesterday I had the privilege of teaching a person new to ministry a trick and skill that a DEC took the time to teach me in my first job as a youth minister.  It's the trick and skill of planning trips, of making a budget for a ministry that you were not a part of the previous year, and the understanding that you give yourself some wiggle room just in case something goes wrong during the year.  I know it's a small thing but it felt good to teach someone something that has stuck with me for almost 20 years in ministry.

Never would I have guessed a month ago that we would be having youth leading a worship service in our church anytime soon.  This week, I have had a 6th grader step up with a willingness to lead our congregation through our time of prayer.  I have had an 8th grader that was willing to lead the beginning of our service as we center ourselves and pass the peace of Christ.  I have two high schoolers that are willing to stand to greet persons as they arrive and then to serve as persons that bring the offerings of our community to the table of our Lord.  All of that occurring within a whim, without an expectation but occurring with goodness.  

Today I made the last cup of spiced tea that was given to me this fall.  It's a tea that is so close to the tea my grandmother made that I could feel her the first time I made a cup.  Today as I looked at my jar I was a bit sad that it was to be my last cup, but then the very person that gave it to me this fall showed up at my office with a whole new batch of spiced tea!!  It wasn't just the tea, it was the opportunity to share in conversation.

Conversation....sometimes we forget that's the most important part of sharing the Gospel.  Today someone stopped in my office and I have to tell you it was so amazing. I have the most amazing job in the world....literally even when it is crazy it is amazing...even when I forget, it is still amazing.  It is amazing because I have the honor of listening to the part of persons lives that they so rarely share with others.  I get to listen to the part of their lives that they work so hard for others to not see (not in a negative way but in the way that it protects them on many levels for persons not to know or see this part of their lives).  I get to listen...I get to watch the tears of frustration come bubbling to the surface...I get to watch as they accept the new mercies that await them each and every day...I get to walk them in a ways that so many others do not.

Today has not been what I expected...neither has this week for that matter but the thing is that the good news comes flowing out in the places that we least expect it.  The goodness of our Lord comes pouring upon us when our minds are on other things.  The amazing grace of Jesus comes pouring upon us in the moments when our stomaches are empty and our minds are swimming....then again I think that's what ministry is all about.

Thank you Holy One for the week of the unexpected...thank you for allowing me to share such amazing news...thank you for allowing me to stand with persons on this journey of faith.