Monday, November 14, 2016

Super Moons

Last night I received a text from my mom ' be sure to look at the moon.'

I was grateful that she reminded me to check out the super moon and all of this glory.  Looking at moons isn't new to us.  My parents encouraged me to spread my wings and so I left the nest to attend college 5 hours away from home in the deep south.

I think college was where I first realized the fullness of racial tension.  I'd grown up being part of a school system that bussed their students across town to integrate students.  I'd been the minority for most of my school aged life.  I had been part of a community of friends that didn't see the color of anyone's skin, we didn't care which neighborhood you lived in or what kind of car you drove (we were just lucky to have a car at all to drive).  We danced together...we laughed together...we cried together.....we hated assignments together....we worked on homecoming floats together....we celebrated birthdays together....we stood up for one another when we were away from our school....we went out together.  We didn't see people as 'other' or 'them'...we were simply all in it together.

I had to come to believe that this was the way the world functioned.  I believed that everyone saw the good in others.  I believed that everyone strived to treat one another with respect, shared acts of compassion toward one another.  I believed that all of us were created equal.

The reality of hostility and disrespect came breaking through when I moved to the deep south to attend college.  I didn't have a car my freshman year and I remember asking what I thought was a friend of mine to take me to the Civil Rights Monument that was part of the city's history. The friend responded: 'no, they didn't deserve it to which I responded back then you don't deserve to be with me.'  I ended the friendship that evening.

I vividly remember conveying that story to my mom and feeling as though I was alone in this world of hatred and sense of rightness.  She reminded me that the very one who had taken the time to create me, had also created the person with whom I was talking so fiercely about just seconds before. The one that had created me, the other person had also given birth  the moon, the stars and the sun.  She reminded me to go outside, to look up at the bright moon, to stand under its light and be reminded that all (every single one of us; even those with whom we disagree) were formed with the depth and breath of our God that I firmly put my faith in.

Over the years, we have called to say, go, look outside, be sure to see the moon.  We'd go outside under the cover of the light to share the reality that all of us no matter what state, timezone or country we may be in, we were encased in the glory of the moon.  We've stood under the light of the moon talking about those with whom we disagree and push our buttons to be reminded that the light stands with us in the darkest of the places and guides us ever so gently into a new day; new opportunity; new beginning.  The moon has always been a place of comfort that all of us were created as scared, joined together in a journey of life to encourage, stand with and call out to in our time of need.

As we stand under the super moon tonight as a country, I'm praying that we'll be reminded that there is a light pulling us out of the fear, disbelief, anger, disappointment into a life of trust, honor, compassion, joy and solidarity.

Go stand outside.....  Look up.....  Feel the breeze.....Stare at the moon....Let the Gravity of Love pull you towards a new beginning; a new life; a new courage!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The second Saturday

Orange, yellow, red and green surround me this evening.

The second Saturday of the month always rolls around a bit quicker than I want.

The second Saturday of every month is always filled with a dread of all the work that lie ahead and yet a joy of all that is to come.

The second Saturday of every month I step into our church building and am in awe of the persons that fill the pews, hallways and second floor. Our building is filled with families from our county (depending on the data it's the poorest to the third poorest county in the state of Tennessee), students from a local private school, university students from a prestigious private school, professors from the university, retirees and their grandchildren that live within our community and members of Morton Memorial UMC.

Every inch of our space is used...pallets of food, bags of produce, carts used to transport the food to the cars.

Today I did not want to be there. I'm suffering with bronchitis and on any other given Saturday it wouldn't be a big deal for me to be at home resting. Today I had to be there, we had some of our key leaders out of pocket and I knew our Director of the Food Ministry might need my support for the problem solving that happens 'downstairs'. Begrudgingly I got up and went.

I arrived late, the sanctuary was already filling and people wanted my attention.

In a week where division, grief and yet celebration has been spewing across our news feed, as I stepped into our building none of that mattered. What mattered was that people came hungry. It's a hunger of longing to be seen, to matter, to feel important, and to be reminded that they are not alone. People younger than their skin might reveal, and whose hearts are larger than we might give them credit for came with a hunger deeper than I can possibly comprehend.

Hearts were opened and stories were shared.

Hospitalizations without health care to offset the cost.
Diseases that are raving the body without health care to receive any treatment.
Adults who have to admit that they cannot read or write and ask for assistant to fill out a form.
Picking up food for your neighbors because they are coming home from having a stroke and need food in the pantry.
Tears flowing because they are at the end of their rope in caring for family members.
Weariness and fear about how to walk in the midst of their situations.

Feeding others merely begins when you offer food, it only happens when we are able to set aside our discomforts and listen to one another. Hunger turns to nourishment when trust is established and vulnerability is shown.

Orange, yellow black and white they are all precious in his sight......it doesn't matter whether we are the one in need of receiving or the one willing to give, every single one of us can feed the other.

Where are you exhausted and dreading a task? May you be willing to step in, look around and sit long enough to be fed. May you have the courage to be vulnerable to others trusting that your story will be held in confidence. May you have the boldness to listen deeply to hunger of those with whom you meet. In this season of grief and celebration may you be fed.







Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Steps

I've been thinking about steps a great deal today.

Currently my fitbit tells me that I've walked 13,642 steps since I put it on this morning just before breakfast.

While I have been thinking about the physical steps that we've been taking each day today I was thinking about steps on a very different level.

We began our morning sitting on the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount.  The steps are the steps that pilgrims from the southern end would have terversed in order to enter the top of the Temple Mount. The view is breathtaking.  But something happened on the steps this morning that bothered me and clung to me for the remainder of the day.  The four of us were sitting, reading our Bibles, walking through the reflection questions that I had crafted for this holy space and another large group came and seem to overtake the space without any regard for the time of prayer that we were having.  Sharing space isn't/was't the problem because here in the Land of the Holies space is limited and is meant to be shared.  The difference was that the pastor acted as if we were invisible.  Due to the size of the group they all had earbuds that are used in order to allow the guide/pastor/leader to speak to the entire group without disturbing other pilgrims.  This pastor jokingly made a comment about how loud he could be and proceeded to talk at (yes at and not to) his pilgrims.

I felt invisible.
I lost my concentration.
I felt as if where I was in my journey was not as important as his ego and getting his point across.
I was bothered.

Again, the words and the feeling clung to me.

Later in the afternoon we were again sitting in a quiet court yard at Peter in Gallicantu..the House of Caiaphas writing in our journals and another group evidently did not see us.  They literally invaded our space to the point that I was forced to duck my head so that I would not be hit with a backpack.  The group was not discussing or reflecting; it was merely a time in which they wanted to sit down and gab.  Frustration rose and in my journal I began asking God, why in the world we could not have one experience today that allowed for the presence of the Holy not to be interrupted by some sort of self-centered talking.  When they left, I turned to the others and said; are we invisible and do we not count.

I'm sharing this story because it all came full circle today as we sat in the Church of All Nations in the Mount of Olives.  Jesus was a man of steps.  He didn't merely climb the steps to the Temple Mount, he took the steps to meet people where they were.

He stepped toward those who were lost.
He stepped toward those who were invisible.
He stepped toward those who were broken by the circumstances of their lives.
He stepped toward those who did not believe or uphold the exact same traditions as himself.
He stepped toward those who were facing challenges.
He stepped toward relationship instead of law.
He stepped toward love instead of hate.

Have we merely built our churches so high and lofty that we are unable to see those sitting?
Are we so consumed with our idea of Christianity that we look over those who are not in our group?
Are we so consumed with ourselves and our ideology that we have made others invisible?
Do we think so highly of ourselves that we cannot see that others are on the journey but that it might look different than our own?
Have we stationed our lives one presidential candidate believing that they are going to be our savior  and in the mean time stepped over or around someone else because they are not voting for the right candidate?

If I am going to be a follower of Jesus Christ and walk in his steps then I must be wiling to take steps toward those who are invisible. I must be willing to step toward those who are different.  I must be willing to step in love instead of hate.  I must be willing to step into relationships.

Are you willing to take a step?

Monday, October 31, 2016

Praise and thanksgiving

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."  Psalm 100:4

We awoke to the stready flow of movement this morning.
The click and clack of shoes hitting the pavement as people made their way to and from work.
Cars below us giving their short beeps to move the car in front of them along or to jump into the roundabout where each car can barely put a sheet of paper between each bumper.

The solitude of the Galilee behind us.

Deliberately and slowly we blessed our food and gave thanks for the journey that we had traveled.

We were not yet ready for the hustle and bustle of the city but our home was calling.  Climbing down the large stone steps we found our place in the morning shade.  We sat, we gave thanks once again and we entered the Holy City with reverence.

It was a quiet and harsh day for our souls.  The push and the pull of the city was  a bit overwhelming. All senses were on overload as we walked the narrow streets with the vibrant fabrics and the intense smell of spices along with fruits and vegetables.  Our minds trying to catch up to the commerce that surrounded us.  Our souls trying to make the leap from walking in the steps of Jesus to the busyness that envaded all parts of our being today.

Then came the journey through the Western Wall tunnels.  Touching stone that King Herod had designed and brought into this area.  Witnessing the determination that the Romans had in destroying the wall of Herod and making it their own.  Putting the souls of our shoes upon the rocks the Romans laid for their main street.  Meandering through the aquaduc that held their water.  Being as close to the holy of holies that you could possibly be without being on the Temple Mount itself.

Gladness
Thanksgiving
Joy
Awe

Just a few days ago we were standing in Zippori at the Roman crossroad and traversed over their stones within our path...and today they connected us to the Holy of Holies.

I think the Apprentices of Jesus and Jesus himself would have felt a bit overwhelmed when they made their enterance into this holy city.  Surely it took them the day to get us to the movement happening all around them and the pressing of people that were making their way into the city for their holy pilgrimage.   Last night as the sun was fading we entered the city and stood atop the Mount of Olives and I couldn't help but think that surely Jesus gave thanks for all that was before him.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the movement in your life?
Do you awaken with the noise of the world pressing in upon your heart and soul?
Have the colors around you faded into muted dullness?

May you rise today willing to step into the noise of the world.

Gracious and Holy One, as my friends rise around your amazing globe would you plant their feet upon a step of thanksgiving this day. May they be able to look around and fine just one thing that connects them into your presence and your purpose for their lives.  May they experience the holiness of you bringing them into your courts of compassion and mercy today.  Call my friends home to stand with you today.  Amen


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday morning from the Sea of Galilee

In the thin line between darkness ending and light coming I found myself awake.

The air was cool.
The pathway lit by the dim glow of lamp post along the way.
The bricks beneath my shoes ever so damp.
The glow of the Sea's cities stretched out before me.
The quite lap of the waves of a swimmer in the Sea of Galilee below me.
The breeze ever so gentle.
The rooster crowing.
The birds awakening in song.
The thin line between the that which has past and that which is before me was present.

There before me was the passing of one day and the new mercies of yet another day stretched it's arms around me.  The horizon filled moved from darkness into a blue, fading into a purple and exploding in a vibrant pink.  The rays felt as if were reaching out to envelope me, wrapping it's arms around me in a giant hug proclaiming, come my child, come find rest in the day before you, bread for the journey and the crashing of my love upon you.

I sat listening.
I let the breeze wash over me.
I turned my head to see the mountain that we had climbed up and over and then walked through it's valley below to see the reflection of the sun hitting it once again.

The night had faded, a new day had begun, the sky was a hazy blue.

I thought the sun had risen and I almost left.

Then another pilgrimage joined me in the sitting and watching.  Conversation was had and another 20 minutes later, a blaze of fire slowly crept over the horizon.  The red ball filled the lake, used it fingertips to touch the surrounding mountains and reflected off of the water.

Red fire.
Blaze of glory.
A dawning of a new day.
Welcome my child, welcome.
Arise and go, arise and go.

Sunday morning from the Sea of Galilee

In the thin line between darkness ending and light coming I found myself awake.

The air was cool.
The pathway lit by the dim glow of lamp post along the way.
The bricks beneath my shoes ever so damp.
The glow of the Sea's cities stretched out before me.
The quite lap of the waves of a swimmer in the Sea of Galilee below me.
The breeze ever so gentle.
The rooster crowing.
The birds awakening in song.
The thin line between the that which has past and that which is before me was present.

There before me was the passing of one day and the new mercies of yet another day stretched it's arms around me.  The horizon filled moved from darkness into a blue, fading into a purple and exploding in a vibrant pink.  The rays felt as if were reaching out to envelope me, wrapping it's arms around me in a giant hug proclaiming, come my child, come find rest in the day before you, bread for the journey and the crashing of my love upon you.

I sat listening.
I let the breeze wash over me.
I turned my head to see the mountain that we had climbed up and over and then walked through it's valley below to see the reflection of the sun hitting it once again.

The night had faded, a new day had begun, the sky was a hazy blue.

I thought the sun had risen and I almost left.

Then another pilgrimage joined me in the sitting and watching.  Conversation was had and another 20 minutes later, a blaze of fire slowly crept over the horizon.  The red ball filled the lake, used it fingertips to touch the surrounding mountains and reflected off of the water.

Red fire.
Blaze of glory.
A dawning of a new day.
Welcome my child, welcome.
Arise and go, arise and go.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday, October 29th....Detours from Arbel to Capernaum

Let's face it we hate having to detour.  We hate not being able to take the fastest way possible to our destination.  A sense of dread rises about the time that will be wasted. We focus on the inconvenience of taking having to go out of our way.

Today was a go out of our way kind of day.  The sun is bright as we begin to climb mount Arbel.  From the mountain we can turn around and see the way in which we have come.  We are proud of our past and can see our destination, the beautiful stunning Sea of Galilee.

Standing atop this mountain is not the way Jesus would have traveled but the view is simply so stunning that the Jesus Trail takes you up and over this mountain.  The descent began and all was calm. The bouldering was much the same as yesterday but when we arrived at the half way point and approximately 45 minutes from the valley we simply had to turn around.  Not everyone in our group felt safe holding onto the wire rope that was embedded into the side of the mountain for hikers to hold steady. I have to tell you I believed that they could do it.  While it would be pushing those within my group, I believed in them.  But our guide made the call for us to ascend the mountain and walk down the paved road and around the other side of the mountain into the valley.

My heart sank.  This was the part that I was looking forward to because I love adventure and I love pushing my own limits of self confidence and ability.

We all began the long journey back up to where we had started the morning.  Down the paved road and onto a connector path of the trail that we have been walking.  Boulder after boulder; barely any path at times; a very slow and steady trek downhill.  As we were just about to make the connection onto to the trail for the day our guide stood in disbelief. The gate that had always been there was suddenly gone and a new barbed wire fence had been put in it's place.  Feeling absolutely awful our guide searched for a place that we could make the crossing.  The solution was to crawl under a 5 stringed barbed wire.  We were all up for the challenge and began laughing that we had all done it throughout our childhood.

We made it under the fence and began the journey of walking in the valley.

It was during that extra two hour walk that our guide shared that today should have been his wedding day.  We talked about heartache, forgiveness, moving forward and trying to find peace.  Those two hours gave me the chance to really pray over some people I really love.  Those two hours reminded me that leading means listening to the group's concerns.  That extra time on the trail found us laughing and making memories that we would not have otherwise shared.

Guess what, we made it to our destinations today.  We did not make it to our destination by not foot because after sharing in a delicious meal along the seashore we realized that we wanted to celebrate all that we had done.  We called our driver and spent time in three different places along the Sea of Galilee. As we stood on the Sea of Galilee in Carpernaum, I had everyone look across at the Horns of Hittin and over to Arbel and through the valley because if not for the detour we would not have shared in the glorious provisions that shared our day.

Where are you frustrated?
Where do you feel like your like has taken a detour?
Where are you caught trying to push others when they are not ready to follow?

There is greatness in the detours and there are lessons to be learned from those who need to pause.  Keep walking because your destination is before you.

From Friday, October 28th...Generations...from Lavi to Arbel

If you are reading this for the first time in a bit, I want to share with you that I am on a journey in which we are walking from Nazareth to Galilee.  There are four of us and we span the ages; literally!  I'm 44, my roommate is 53, and the gentlemen are respectively 72 and 82.  These are men and women with whom I deeply love and respect in more ways that I can begin to speak.

Today we were walking from Lavi to Arbel.

The sky is blue; haze fills the air daring it to drop even an ounce of rain.
The sun shining through the clouds touching the ground ever so gently.
The ground is brown (or golden as they would say), dotted with the green of olive trees, waste high bushes.
The panoramic view leads the eye from one hill to the next, each one shooting out of the ground as if to shout hello, you are welcomed here!
Boulders encase us within the valley.
We are headed up to the Horns of Hattin, across the valley and back up to the Arbel.

The view was stunning.  From standing atop of the Horns of Hattin looking down into the Sea of Galilee to walking in the valley with the boulders incasing us and the mountains rising around us the view was simply breathtaking.  There truly are no words for what we experienced today (if you want to see more; check out my pictures on facebook).

In each step that I took today I was thinking about the power of generations and the strength of leadership.  Today's hike was not a walk in the park, it was climbing up and over boulders and descending steep, slippery boulders.  Most of the time I was walking alongside or just behind our guide.  I was in front of the pack as you might say.  After we had all safely descended (even to the point of having to climb down backwards) I started laughing out loud and said to the crew, "you guys are going to go home and talk about your crazy pastor that takes you on these really hard journeys and to dangerous places".  To which they all responded "yes we will!"

The sun quickly made its way out from behind the haze and glare of the clouds into the bright, full sky, bearing down upon us as we walked.

Our path found us not walking in groups but spread out in single file for a good portion of the day.

The more I pondered and thought about the connection between leadership and generations the more I was in awe.  These people really did trust where we were going.  We could not always see the fullness of the destination but they trusted that I was not going to lead them astray.  At times I needed to be in the lead and up front today but at other times I needed to walk at a more gentle pace that would give me the pleasure of walking alongside my more mature members of the group.

They had to trust, I had to walk slower than normal.

In the traveling together this is what I gleaned.  If we are going to call ourselves leaders of a congregation, we must be willing to go to ask people to come along with us on a journey that is scary, risky, full of love and compassion.  If we are to be leaders, we must lead in small group, be responsible for a few; pour our energy into relationship building, equipping, giving directions and sometimes walk ahead of them.  We also must be willing to know our people well enough and deep enough that we take the steps to slow down  because they simply might not be at our pace but that does not mean that they are unwilling to come alongside us.

The generations before us are filled with wisdom that they want to impart upon us but sometimes we are walking too far ahead to hear what they are saying.  Sometimes we are walking ahead of them and haven't taken the time to ask them what frightens them and how we can help move them through those barriers.  Sometimes as leaders we are too focused on our destination to stop and walk alongside those who are behind us.

Where are you walking too far ahead of others to hear them, see them and acknowledge their fears?

Where do you need to slow down and help someone up and over the boulder that they are facing?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The everyday

Have you ever had a day where all you could do was to keep moving through the task that were before you?  

Have you ever wondered if those days are ever going to lead you to the place where you truly long to be?

Today as we began climbing our way out of the city of Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of changing the water into wine the sun was already high above us. The steep climb out of the city led us to a summit that overlooked another village sitting high upon another hill.  It is true that 'a city on a hill cannot be hidden' because when each summit allow you span the horizon to see the next village rising out of the hill.

After we made the summit of Cana, we began to drop into the valley to step upon the Roman Road.  We quickly began stepping upon rock after rock.  Rocks of all sizes and shapes and simply making our way on the road.  There were moments when the rise was steep and we walked slow and steady but honestly the majority of the trail today was in the flatland of the valley. 

The more we walked today, the more I thought about how we had come all this way and what were we doing; just walking along a dirt road, filled with rocks and olive groves (with workers beginning the hard work of harvesting).  There wasn't anything spectacular about our scenery; don't get me wrong it was still breathtaking at moments but for the most part it was just the everyday stuff.

As the day unfolded, I thought deeply about how each of us must travel the road of the everyday.  There are moments in each of our jorueny's that are long and wearisome, leaving us wondering if we accomplished anything at all and if the task moved us forward on any level.  It seems that most of us want a miracle, some breath-taking, oversized sign that God is not just among us but in and with us.  Today though, I was remind that it is in traveling the everyday,mundane that glory,compassion and mercy are held.

Along the way today, we shared one another's burdens. Literally.  We took things out of one backpack to put them in another so that someone's shoulder wouldn't be hurting.  Another fell and we helped bandage the cut.  We held hiking poles when someone was getting something from their pack.  We shared water along the way so that all would be hydrated.  We each walked at our own pace never rushing or shaming the other for the journey that they were traveling.

In the middle of the ordinary the gifts of Jesus were given to one another.  In the ordinary we sat upon rocks reflecting upon Saul's journey to Damascus in which he saw a great light.  In the ordinary we moved a few steps closer to the glory of holiness.  In the ordinary we moved one step closer to our utlimate goal.

Are you in the midst of an ordinary, ho-hum day?  If you are, be encouraged because not everyday holds the wonder of a miracle but it does hold the wonder of compassion and mercy.  If you are stuck in the task of the day; take care for others will come alongside you.  If you think that your life isn't headed anywhere; remember that with each step you are on the road leading to a new beginning.

Orindinary brings holiness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

in the dark of night

The dark of night is strange.

 If all is well within your soul, the darkness of the night seems to pass quickly as you fall into a deep slumber. It is then that you can awake refreshed and sing "it is well with my soul."  

The darkness of the night can also perpetuate a restlessness within; allowing your mind to run to and fro trying to catch that thing that eludes your and keeps running further and further away.  

I must say that for two nights a deep slumber has eluded me.  It started on the plane ride over to Israel.  I literally did not sleep the entire 10 hours we were on the plane.  Oh believe me I tried!  I took a natural supplement to help settled me down, turned on my music, closed my eyes and tried to will myself to sleep.  It did not happen.  Then last night on our first night in the country, I found myself wide awake at 3:00am.  I tried again to will myself back to sleep.  I concentrated on my breathing, took a drink of water, spent time praying over some of my friends and family, flipped open my Kindle and texted with my family as they're were finishing their Tuesday night. I could not sleep.

I laid here in the darkness of night.

Then at 5:30 this morning, I heard the familiar Muslim call to prayer.  It was as if I had been welcomed home.  I smiled and then the darkness turned to joy.  I laid in my bed with a smile on my face.  I was home.  I was in the land on my faith, my room just a few blocks away from the Church of Annunication where Mary stood at the well and heard Gabriel call to 

Mary, a young woman, from a two-bit, out of the way, that you cannot even see town has a messager from God come to her and say "Do not be afraid".  

In the still of the night, with the prayer ringing loudly and the ever so slightly glow of green lights coming from the 'light house' of the dessert for those who have lost their way I knew then why I sleep had eluded me.  I was afraid.

I have been here many times before, just last year for 10 days by myself and never before have I felt uncertain. But this pilgrimage was different.  I was definitely uncertain.

Uncertain whether or not our company had fully communicated with their sister company here in Israel and if they would be there waiting at the airport.

Uncertain whether or not I was ready for 10 miles a day of hiking in 80 degree weather.

Uncertain if those making this pilgrimage with me could physically do the pilgriamage.  

Uncertain about whether or not we would enjoy our guide (as I could not have my good friend as a guide on the Jesus Trail).

The list of uncertainties grew beyond this trip and those that I have been holding onto for far too long without realizing it.

As my list of uncertainties began to be layed upon the table, all I could hear was Amanda do not fear, do not fret for I am with you and I bring you great joy.

Today as the journey began and the terrain of the land began to unfold, I walked along a thin edge of understanidng what it looks like to walk out of fear and into a life of miracles.  

If you are afraid, if you are uncertain, if you are being asked to do something that you do not know where it is leading, may you hear 'do not be afraid' being whispered to do.  

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The seeds you plant

During high school our family structure changed.  My parents separated and eventually divorced.  It was a difficult journey.  In the midst of it all, I had a mentor in faith give me a wooden cross. The cross had a tiny hole where a piece of leather was threaded through it so that it could be worn as a necklace, hung from the rearview mirror or placed on a peg on the wall.  I carried the cross with me; it was in my backpack or in my purse or hung on my car rearview mirror.  It was a constant reminder that while the journey might be difficult, I was not alone.

I had someone in my corner.
I had someone who loved me.
I had someone cheering me on.
I had someone to call in the middle of the night that would just listen to my heart's cry.
I had a Jesus that loved me as far as the east is from the west.
I had a Jesus that was going to light the way for me in the darkness.
I had a Jesus that was going to put his arms around me and carry me when I didn't feel as though I could take another step.

The cross was a sense of presence.  This simple symbol wrapped me in an assurance that I had friends walking with me here on earth and a redeemer that shrouded me in restoration.  The gift of the cross had planted the seed of comfort and assurance for me.

Some years later I had the amazing privilege of working alongside the Youth Pastor at my home church as the summer youth ministry intern.  That summer planted seeds far greater than I was aware. That summer we painted fences, attended mission trips, traveled to DC to be participants at DC/LA '94, did crazy dives at the endless pool parties, read scripture and talked about what was on our hearts and minds.  The group held a crazy group of guys...guys that loved one another, who weren't afraid to play jokes on one another and who had each others back fiercely.  I loved watching them, being part of their jokes and having the privilege to encourage them in their faith.

Just two years later  as they were all headed off to college, life took a drastic turn for one of the guys. One of those fun loving guys wept at the side of his mother's bed as she passed from this world into God's enteral kingdom.  I will never forget the phone call from this young adult who had just moved into his college dorm room to begin his new life.  His life was shattered.  I knew I needed to get home to Tennessee to merely be present with him during those hard days of planning the service and then celebrating the one whom he loved most.

I knew that I was meant to give my beloved cross away. I knew that it was something that was meant to be passed on. I knew that he needed to be comforted and to know that he would not be left alone in the darkness that he was facing.    I freely and whole heartedly gave it this young man with the promise that I would always be present for him and that God would never leave his side.

Many years have passed.

Phone calls have been made randomly over the past 20 plus years.

Likes on Facebook have been exchanged.

Text have been sent.

Tomorrow I have the privilege of officiating his wedding to the love of his life.  Today through the rehearsal  and into the luncheon I noticed that he had a piece of leather that would randomly poke out of the collar of his shirt.  At the rehearsal lunch I asked him what it was and in a blink of an eye he was pulling out the cross that I had given so long ago.

Tears swelled in my eyes.

I had no idea that I had planted the seeds of hope and love that had sustained him for so long.  I had no idea that he had literally worn the cross to the point of it breaking and his friend reworking it so that he could still wear it.  I had no idea that he had worn the cross as a reminder that he was loved beyond words and accepted for who he was and where he was on the journey.

I was blown away by the power of one simple gesture and the impact it had upon my friend.  It reminded me that I have the power to plant each and every day.  It made me think about what I'm planting in this world.

This cross, is a symbol of the power that each of us have.  Every single one of us had the power to plant seeds into the lives of others.  All of us have the power to plant the seeds of hope, goodness, acceptance, love and wholeness. What seeds are you planting?

Monday, August 29, 2016

There is a place on I-24 south that I love, it is few miles west of Exit 127.   In this particular spot the mountains wrap their arms around you from the north to the south as you drive into the bottom of the plateau.  I don't care how many times I make the trek home there is something that catches in my throat that allows me to say; these are my mountains and these are my people.

Tonight the sun was setting ever so gently creating a ray of light on upon the far north side of the mountain, off to my left.    The pink hue was so light that you can barely see it and yet it was there reminding us that the cycles of life that are always before us.

I spent my day sitting alongside hundreds of people who had gathered to celebrate a man who had impacted their faith, encouraged them to be leaders, challenged them to be better at their jobs, set a passion within their soul to do something outside of the box.  As I entered the worship space, I found myself in the in-between.  Not in a bad in-between but standing in a place where I had once been the 'student' the middle school then high school student who gave up her summer to wash dishes.  My favorite staff members of all time were gathered for this celebration of life. Men and women with whom I deeply admired and respected growing up.  Young adults (at the time) who taught me about matters of faith and who believed in me perhaps more than I believed in myself back then. Turn after turn there were surprised looks of the realization who I was, followed by warm embraces that seem to cover the passage of time.  Love exchanged as deep as a well of flowing water.

I stood among those who were my 'peers' on the mountain.  Reminiscing about the larger than life trucks that we all drove (and summer staff members still drive today), the long nights, the camps with little to no running water, how crazy we must have all looked in our bandanas with a load of lumber hanging well over the back end of the truck slowly making our way down the road to the next project. Reminiscing helped to reconnect and remind us of all for us there is still a life worth living well.

I hugged the neck of young adults who spent this summer on the mountain giving it their all so that others might experience Jesus in the fullness of love and grace.  Young adults who are encouraging others in order that they too might respond to the call to serve others.  As I hugged the necks of these amazing college students and looked over my shoulders to see those who had embraced me when I was there age, I had realized that the circle and cycle of life has truly called us to all be the student, peer and mentor.

As the pink hue hit the mountain at my favorite spot, that place in my throat caught once again.  It caught because of the love I was shown when I was a shy kid trying to find my way.  My eyes filled with tears ,for the protection that was showered upon me as I drove the county backroads as a young adult trusting that others would show kindness to the stranger in their midst.  My heart skipped a beat for the ways that I now get to stand with young adults and remind them that they are whole, gifted, loved individuals that God has brought here for such a time as this.

I have much more to learn as a student of Jesus.
I have many more roads to travel with fellow disciples.
I hope to have many more opportunities to shine God's light of encouragement upon others.

The circle and cycle of life is powerful.  May you never grow tired of learning, never give up on those who are walking alongside you and always be willing to teach someone else.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tribe

I've been thinking about tribes lately.

Tribes are communities of families (blood relatives) that are linked together through social, economic and/or religious commonalities.  Tribes consist of the people we choose to link ourselves with to build something greater; to conquer injustices, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with in times of trouble, heartache and celebration. These are the people who lift us up when we cannot go any farther on the path. Tribe members speak to the truth to us when, even if it hurts but then pours love into our being so that we walk in the hope that new beginnings are possible.  Our tribe are the people who are across the table from us when we celebrate life's most important events.

Tribes are important.

I am fortunate to have a tribe.

My tribe offers to take time out of their schedules to make a two-hour round trip  and then sit for another hour and a half in order to allow my teenager to be part of a very specific academic resource that is helping her to close the mathematical gap that has occurred due to a vision disfunction.

My tribe includes colleagues  that are willing to drive to me so that we can be pray, discern and create powerful worship services together.

My tribe are educators that provide a new beginning for a struggling, sometimes awkward, quirky teenager.

My tribe are people who pack the dance floor to sing, move and shout to the song "We are Family" at weddings.

My tribe offers words of hope, security and healing through lingering conversations that happen after a lunch meeting.

There is so much more that I could say about the tribe that I am currently standing among but the most important thing is I am part of a group of individuals who love as deep as the deepest canyon.  I am part of a tribe of individuals who are willing to climb the highest mountain in order to stand atop the summit and follows me into the valley so that I am not alone in the darkness.

Today, my prayer is that you are part of a tribe. I pray that  you have people that go to the ends of the world with and for you.  I hope that you have people in which you can say "those are my people."


Friday, May 27, 2016

Award Season

It's award season.

Kids all across the country are walking across the stages in their school cafeteria or auditorium. Students are listening intently for their names to be called for those coveted awards of highest grade in each subject area, citizenship, best athlete and the list goes on and on.   These things should be recognized and celebrated because they are grand accomplishments.

Social media is filled with smiles of these wonderful students and proud parents.  It is good to see kids accomplishing task and being celebrated for their hard work.  I believe in celebrating!

There is a flip side to award season.  The flip side is that pictures cannot capture the kids who are sitting on the stage ever so patiently but never hear their name called for an award.   Students who worked hard and achieved much.

Here's what the award ceremony cannot reveal.

The girls and boys that are all dressed up, with their legs crossed properly and hands sitting ever so gently in their laps have had their own set of accomplishments this year.

Some of them have battled anxiety so severe it has paralyzed them to the point that they were unable to participate in extra curricular activities or engage in the fullness of class decision. Finishing the year in one piece as part of the community and sitting on stage is the accomplishment.

The names of those who are never called have sat at their dining room tables studying for literally hours each night, wrestling with content and assignments not because they are lazy but because comprehending is just that challenging.   The accomplishments is found in the task that was completed on their own and turned in on time.

The students who graciously keep smiling while their peers names are being called, are the students who have admitted that they are struggling and need help sorting out the emotions that are swirling within their being.  The accomplishment is that they have trusted their parents enough to not only ask for help but to admit they needed professional assistance.

Some of the students on that stage have battled eating disorders and the accomplishment is that they are healthy and finally finding balance.

The students sitting behind those whom keep standing to accept their award for all of their hard work are the students who have been bullied during the day and cried themselves to sleep only to get up and do it all over again the next day. The accomplishment is believing in their own worth and wholeness while others beat them down.

Those students who are sitting among your high scoring and high GPA students never hearing their name have stood in the balance of being being shuffled back and forth between parents who have used them as a tennis ball batting them back and forth between homes.  Students who have come to school leaving an important project at a home that they will not return to for some days.  The accomplishment is that they made it through their day helping another student in need.

While we are celebrating the kids who received their awards; let us remember that accomplishments come in a variety of forms.   Many accomplishments cannot be captured in a medal around your neck, a trophy that will sit on the bookshelf or an award that can be framed.

Accomplishments are those moments in life when you had the courage do something that you did not think was possible.





Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Being full

"I am so full."

How many times have you said this as you pushed yourself away from the table?

We've come to think of fullness as a physical response of partaking in eating too much food all at once.   Even though I had dinner hours ago, as I sit in the comfort of my home; looking out of the french doors onto the porch that is illuminated by solar lights I am thinking I am so full and it has nothing to do with food.

I am so full.

I am full of thanksgiving.

There is a deep thankfulness within me tonight.  I have a friend who is quiet, so sensitive towards the needs of others that she always sees what others do not. She is a person of joy, when she comes into the room it seriously lights up with laughter and goodness.  My friend is not afraid of a challenge and always encourages others to rise to the challenge of accomplishing the things they thought were impossible.

This very special person that I am talking about is someone that has made an imprint upon my life; within my heart and soul.  On Monday, I turned 44 and as a gift to me this friend of mine texted me on Sunday night to tell me that she had hired her house keeper for the day to give my house the 'top to bottom' treatment.  She knows my schedule so well that she knew exactly when to schedule the cleaning!

This morning when I left the house, I knew that I would return to a clean home.  The house cleaner is someone that I know and I knew that she would do an amazing job but I had no idea to the extent of amazingness!!   Seriously, tonight when we walked through the door (it's rare that we'd all be walking through the door at the same time) all three us were ooh-ing and aah-ing as we walked through the house.  In every room there was a little surprise, the floor in the pantry cleaned and spotless, our pillows rearranged just a bit {she took all of our sheets off to put them through the laundry and then back on our beds}, the couch and chair cushions cleaned.  There wasn't a leaf unturned in our house today.

I've never had a house keeper.  

Only one other time in my life has someone come in to help clean my house and that was just over 14 years ago.  So, I had no idea one simple act could change a person's state of mind and the direction of her heart.  Tonight I was reminded that fullness has nothing to do with a physical reaction to the amount of food we've eaten but the emotion that comes when you are loved without a shadow of a doubt.  

Today I am so full.

I am so full because my friend loves me so much she knows what will bring joy deep within my heart and soul. 

I am so full because my friend loves me so much that she gave me a gift that wasn't about a material thing to add to my house but a gift of calmness. 

I am so full because my friend knew just how to alleviate my stress for a moment in time.

I am so full  because I was able to stand in a spotless kitchen tonight baking granola and no-bake cookies because I was so full. 

I pray that as you read this that someone in your life is pouring their love upon you in such a way that you are full.  







Monday, March 21, 2016

Life is not a race

Recently I increased my normal 3 mile hike to a 4 mile hike.  Saturday was is a beautiful day and I knew I wanted to get outside and enjoy every minute.  I started my hike a bit later in the day than I had hoped but I didn't really care because I had enjoyed all that the unfolded within the morning hours.

I got out of my car, put my earbuds in, turned my app on to track my trail and mileage and got out my hiking poles.  Off I went, well sort of.  I got out of the parking lot to almost to the trailhead  and had to return to the car because I had on my glasses.  I'm far-sided and don't ever hike in my glasses because of my of trifocal lens...if you have ever hiked in trifocals you will totally get what I'm saying! So back to the car I went.  

I didn't let returning to the car bother me because the sun shining, the wind was gently blowing and the trail was before me.

I've been struggling with shin splits (before you tell me I need to do more stretching; believe me I know the importance of stretching and do it) and so today I loosened my boots just a bit to see if that would help.  It did not help, it only created a whole slew of other problems like my feet sliding forward in my boots as I descended down hills.  It wasn't helping with the shin splints on any level.  I stopped, took my boots off do the specific stretches that I know are designed for that very thing and put my foot back in my boot and hit the trail again.

I felt deflated and almost defeated because I really wanted a 4 mile hike  at a certain pace and I was no where close to that.  Honestly I'm not even sure that I'd make it mile 2 much less to mile 3.1 where my car is sitting.  

I finally decide that I'm going to slow down, physically hike much, much slower to find my footing.  

Just as I think I'm doing OK, I pick up the pace just a bit more and then not once but three times the cord on my ear buds get tangled in my hiking poles (I have never had this issues, I have no idea what was wrong with me).  

I get the earbud situation taken care of and I think, Amanda why in the world are you pushing to get the PR today?  What is so important about your time?  Why do you think you have to hike 4 miles instead of the 3?  Slow down.  There is much to hear, see and feel today.

Just when I am comfortable with hiking 3 miles instead of 4 my left ankle gives way and I feel myself falling face first into the leaves.  On the way down my right knee hits a rock and I am covered in the damp leaves that line the trail.  I simply lay there, my face in the dirt and my body covered in leaves.   Slowly, I turn over look up at the blue sky between the trees that are trying to bud and finally get up.  

I still had well over half a mile to my car and I laugh at the craziness of the hike today.

As all of this was happening,  I could not help but think of the ways that someone around me might have set out to accomplish a specific project; excited about an opportunity, job opportunity, an arrival of a new addition to a family and find themselves experiencing a journey that is much harder than they ever anticipated.  

I'm thinking about those who are walking in deep grief after an unexpected loss of a loved one.  I'm thinking about the persons who have given all that they are; their heart, soul and mind to something they know they are called to only to have it be washed away like a sandcastle on a beach.

I was reminded  that life is not a race.  
The journey is not always what we anticipate, hope for or long for.  

There are times when all we can do is lay right we are to find our bearings.  
There are moments when all that we can do is look up and find something beautiful to concentrate on.
There are seasons when we must rise slowly out of the muck and mire to find the strength to keep going.

If you are walking a difficult journey, know that while it may feel lonely and unbearable there are others who are with you in spirit.

May this be a word of encouragement, a glimmer of hope and simple gesture of love pouring over you today.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The process......

An inner calling.

A design that you cannot ignore.

An acceptance.

Telling your story in relationship to God's story

Affirmation
      Encouragement
           Doubt
                Fear
                      Disappointment
                              Calling
                                        Design
                                                Acceptance
                                                     Confidence in who we are designed to be
          


Our stories of standing before you each week as we preach and teach do not come as easy as you might think.  Our lives are not as put together as you might believe.

Our personal stories of standing before you are filled with a movements that you rarely get a chance to fully see and understand.  Before we adorn our robes, places the stoles upon our shoulders and stand in the pulpit we must discern this inner desire to serve, to share the good news that has the power to transform lives and the longing to ensure that all people are invited and welcome at the table of holy communion.  

The process is hard; questions arise. Doubt creeps in. The fear that we are not worthy, that we do not have what it takes rises to the service.  We wonder if God will provide words for us to speak week in and week out.  We wonder if our sins are simply too much to overcome and if our transformed souls can really do this work of loving others. We wonder if we are enough, if God's prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace is really ours for the taking.  

Slowly but surely there is an acceptance of who God has designed us to be. Words of affirmations come from those of who have seen something in us we could not believe in ourselves.  Encouragement is given and we begin the path to accepting the mantel that is being placed upon our shoulders.  We stand among the saints who have gone before us.  We begin to tell our story in relationship to God's story.  We stand at the waters edge, hearing the voice of one greater than ourselves asking us if we are willing to put down our ways and pick up his ways; casting our nets in such a way that when we encounter others that they too will be embraced in a life of wholeness and goodness.  

As the journey unfolds the pressure rises, expectations increase and every part of heart, soul and mind are examined.  The examination is difficult.  It involves articulating our unique Weslyan theological perspective, preaching, writing and developing your own bible study, disclosing our financial debt, and answering important questions about our personal call into this life.  Laity and clergy listen, pray, ask hard questions and discern if we have the tools to be effective in this calling that we have worked so diligently and  long to articulate, overcome the fear of failure, stood in the fire for and finally accepted as our personal God-given design.  

The examination ends and for so many of us standing before you (me included)we find ourselves sitting across from the table hearing words that we did not expect.  Words that this isn' the time; there are still growing edges that must be smoothed out and remolding that must take place.  The words are devastating.  They are words that make you wonder where in the world the God you believed so deeply in is.  You are wounded beyond words and your soul can merely cry in silence as you seek to say God take this cup from me, let your will be done.  Fear and failure rise; unworthiness and loneliness overtakes you.  

The words are painful and devastating.  Your being is shaken.

Then just when you think the darkness is never going to give way a sliver of light and hope return.  God's people come to you and lift you up.  The words of Jesus' healing take on a new and deeper meaning.  Get off your mat, suddenly means that you have to get up and be willing to do the hard work of smoothing out the rough edges; letting go of your ego and taking up the spirit of humility, sitting at the feet of Jesus because you yourself have are empty.  You have to listen to the words of others who have walked the road before and are willing to come stop along the road and carry you to a place where your wounds can be healed.  You have to die to your own ego; your own will.  It is only when we die that we are able to stand before you as resurrected people.  In that slow and gentle resurrection we find the courage to stand before you in our robes with our stoles around our neck proclaiming the good news.  

The process is hard.........

Not just our process of discernment but for all of us along the journey of faith. When you feel the disappointment and failures of life.  Remember that Jesus stopped in Samaria to pick you up and carry you to a place where your wounds can be tended to.  When your souls are pierced  and wounded remember that Jesus was pierced and wounded so that we might experience a resurrection.  If you are wounded, have experienced failure, had your God given design questioned know that in this darkness and loneliness a resurrection and new beginning is coming for you!



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I need help

As you can see from the 'about me' info to the right of this blog that I'm someone who holds all things very close.  I have always hated asking for help.  I mean I really hate it.  I hate asking for help because I don't want others to pity me.  I don't want them to try to fix the thing that I might be currently wrestling with.  I don't want someone hovering over me asking me if I'm Ok or if the situation is getting better.  Just like everyone else, I simply don't want to ask for help because keeping my pride in tack is more important than opening myself to others and leaning on them for assistance.

In these past several months I've been learning a lot letting your guard down and saying "I need help."

I'm not gonna' lie, the journey of letting your guard down has been a steep climb and while it might feel like the path has leveled out, it has not.

I have to say that I haven't been doing the heavy lifting in this journey.  The heavy lifting has been done by my sweet E.  Several months ago a normal question about homework created a crack in the damn that she had been building for quite some time.  Suddenly, we had a teenager who's heart, soul and mind were fragile. In the midst of damn breaking our teenager  trusted us enough to say I need help.

For those of you who are reading this and don't believe that mental health issues are real, maybe one day someone will come into your life to change your perspective.  Mental health does not merely improve when we change our attitude, try harder or ignore the symptoms.

E's request for help left us swirling emotionally.  These last several months have revealed a strong/deep anxiety that is specific to OCD.  While we might just think about OCD as rules surrounding germs or organization there are many varieties.  The rules that invade E's mind all have to do with ensuring personal safety.  Particular things must be completed in order for to feel safe.

From feeling anxious all of the time to managing her ADHD she has been teaching me the importance of letting your guard down, telling the truth and letting others in so that they can merely walk the journey with you.

In the midst of all of this, I continue to waver in shedding the layers of the emotional journey that have been swirling as I listen to a kid who is truly wrestling with so many things.  Some days the journey feels as though it's leveling out because her OCD is calm and simple things like homework being turned in can be celebrated.  As soon as I feel like I can take a breath, another struggle reveals itself and my heart is deep in the trenches trying to figure out how to best support (not enable) the situation as it is unfolding.

We're in this together as a family and for that I am beyond grateful.

Our lives are definitely not as seamless as they might appear.  In order to provide E with the support she needs, we're making weekly trips into Nashville (1.45 hr one way)for counseling, along with two weekly trips into Chattanooga (1.10 hr one way) for her math tutoring.  We're all learning how do work in odd places and at odd times.

And we are learning to ask for help from one another and from others.

I am still wrestling with how much to share and when to share it (I guess the cat is out of the bag).
I am still struggling to ask for help.

I am sharing but I do not want pity.
I am sharing but I do not want you to hover {over me or E}.
I am sharing but I do not want you to ask us a gazillion questions about how we are.

I am sharing and I want you to know that some of my closet friends have been walking this steep journey with me.
I am sharing because I know it's healthy for me to be honest.
I am sharing because maybe just maybe someone else reading this will be able to release just one layer that they've been holding in.

I have a long way to go in asking for help but I am learning thanks to the courage and bravery of my teenager who has asked for help more than once in these last several months.

{aside note:  I have the privilege of being a part of a place called Morton Memorial UMC. They love me and have given me the permission to be mom first, pastor second.  They want me to be healthy, they want E to be healthy spiritually and emotionally and for that I am beyond thankful.  They are my biggest cheerleaders}

Hoping that I'll be as brave as E has been in seeking the assistance of others and leaning into the village that surrounds me.

Is there something that you need to ask for help on?  Is there a part of your that scares you to death but would find restoration if you asked for help?  Just know this...the truth always sets us free and asking for help makes us stronger not weaker.











Sunday, January 24, 2016

oh praise him

As I write this my earbuds are filled with hymns that I know by heart.  The music is slow and reflective forcing me to hear the songs in greater depth.  There is this quiet voice singing 'oh praise him, oh praise.  Alleluia....Alleluia....Alleluia.'

This hymn brings me to the scripture that I was to preach this morning.

The scripture is Nehemiah 8.

I'm not going lie, I love Nehemiah.  He is an unsung layperson within our story of faith. He had this uncanny way of pulling his community together. He was a cheerleader when those around him were broken and weary from the stones that lie around them reminding them every day that they had been defeated. The broken wall reminded them that they were vulnerable to their enemy.  The broken wall made the community question who they were in their midst of their faith.  The crumbled stones left their minds weary and unable to make decisions. The shattered wall left them wondering about their future.  The dust of the stones covered their hearts and left the people paralyzed.

Nehemiah returns home and takes charge. He isn't afraid to make decisions for the community. He isn't afraid to say to them, you gotta work together. He says to them, if you want this city to be rebuilt; if you want your lives back, you have to work together. You have to stand shoulder to shoulder trusting that your neighbor has your back.  Nehemiah leveled the playing field. The poor beggar had to stand beside the highly educated. The law makers would go hungry without the knowledge and handiwork of the farmer. The laborer had to ask for assistance from the banker who could broker the deals that were needed. Every single person within their community was invited into something larger than themselves in order to rebuild the city.

Trust

Questions

Confession that they could not stand on their own

Acceptance 

Unity

Nehemiah doesn't force theses things upon his community invites them into a new way of understanding one another.  In the  give and take, individuals once again become a community.  

It wasn't a religious leader that impacted the community.It wasn't the priest who pulled the people together and gave voice to the fear they were feeling. It wasn't a pastor who gave them a plan of rebuilding.....it was one of their own. It was a layperson who made the greatest impact on this devastated community.

The city is rebuilt and Ezra is back on the scene.

Did you read Nehemiah 8?  

Read it.

Did you see it?  Did you see what happened here in this part of our story of faith?  

Everybody gathers together.  Not just the men, but the women and children are part of this story. As Ezra stands to read from the book of the law {their scripture...their words of encouragement and hope} every one stands.  

Imagine that......think of every single person in our congregation standing shoulder to shoulder, raising their hands, turning their ears to the words that are being proclaimed.  Now picture all of us that gather on Sunday morning, standing shoulder to shoulder with the 150 families that come on Saturdays. Everyone equal, everyone longing, everyone desiring the exact same thing; to be filled with the power of God's holiness. 

They don't just stand for a second; they keep standing through the entire reading.  

WOW...just WOW

Can you imagine what it would be like for us to stand through the entire reading of the book of John or Romans?  

In their standing I see something that I long to have.

I see their commitment to the Holy of Holy.  I see their longing to be made new and experience a transformation like no other.  I hear their breathing, steady and calm; not restless and labored but steady. I see them standing even when it is difficult and finding a steadiness in and through God's word.  When it is hard and they want to quit, they keep standing, they keep receiving what God is offering.

Their standing allows them to hear the words that they heard so many time before in a new depth and pours upon them a fresh understanding.  In their weakness they are made strong. In their weariness they begin to rise and soar like that of an eagle.  In their devastation they experience an anointing that wipes away the ashes and restores them with new life.

Today I want to stand.

I want to stand with the holy of holies and lean into the words that are being revealed to me over and over.

In my weariness I want to know that there is a place where I am welcomed and encouraged.

When I have nothing else to give I want to be able to stand as the words of God pour over me.

I want to find that steadiness that God is offering.

When I feel alone I want to stand with my brothers and sisters knowing that I am accepted just as I am.

I want to be able to stand and sing oh praise him, oh praise him.

I want to receive God's calm and peace when it feels like I cannot take another step.



Do you feel isolated and alone?
       Are you struggling to find your place?
                     Are you overwhelmed by the devastation and heartache that you are enduring?
                             Do you feel like God is calling you to be the voice for a community who needs to                                 be moved to action?
                                         In your weariness are you burying your head in the sand?
                                                Are you wondering if this day is worth all the trouble?


Today, God is pouring his words over us.  

Hear him read the words of life, of truth and healing just for you.

Take a second and stand up, open your arms, breath deep and steady.  

Let the words pour over you.  

When you get weary from standing, let his Spirit calm you and give you strength.

Oh, praise him....Oh, praise him......

Receive his anointing today.....