Wednesday, April 27, 2011

More Reflections?

just a quick note to say that I am praying about whether to continue this column :-)

I started it as a Lenten prayer exercise and am trying to discern a message about whether it continues.

But at this moment, I think about the Apostles.... when we celebrate Easter, we do it with a knowledge of the resurrection.

But for them.... Easter.... was the day they found their murdered friend missing from the tomb.  It took time... and several appearances by Jesus... to convince them that something else was going on.   They must have been confused.  Even SEEing Jesus... well how could they possible recognize him?  They saw him brutalized.... they saw him executed.... they helped to bury him.  I am not sure that I would recognize him alive and well either.  I would think I was overwrought and a little bit crazy!

It took time and more miracles for Jesus' followers to be so filled with confidence and faith that they were willing to risk everything to continue the message.

So Easter is a beginning.... not an end... a beginning of reflecting and thinking and trying to figure out which way to go next.  In my religion, we call this time Mystagogia.... and it is a time of the Spirit brewing and percolating.

I ask you, my readers, to pray too.... God will speak and together we'll figure out what happens next!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I think about Jesus' followers today..... we celebrate the risen Lord with an understanding of 2000 years of faith and thinking.

I wonder what they thought.... with Jesus being killed the other day... and all the grief and fear and mourning.  To discover that he was not in the tomb and to hear Mary's story of the stranger she spoke with.   How confusing it must have been for them all!

What tremendous acts of faith were required for them to continue on believing in Jesus.  WE know the miracles that happened in the next 40 days.... but right now THEY didn't.  The true nature of the miracle was just beginning to unfold.

I pray that God will keep us in faith and joy, fully appreciative of his gift to us!

May God keep you and bless you on this holy day of remembrance!

Amen :-)

Friday, April 8, 2011

2 Weeks

Can you believe it is almost 2 Weeks until Easter?

The most important holiday in the Christian faith!  Easter tells the story of WHY we believe the way we do :-)

For the next 2 weeks, I'm going to share a pilgrimage I made ..... and tell a story.  You know the story already... the story of Jesus' trip to the cross.. his resurrection.

A few weeks ago, I took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  There is a park there, Jockey's Ridge, which has a nature trail through a HUGE sand dune.  I have been trying to do the nature walk for a couple of years but I can never get anyone in my family to go with me.... so I haven't done it.

But THIS trip, I was on my own for a couple of days... so I decided to make it happen!  And then a friend joined me.. and that made it all the more meaningful :-)

My friend was tickled with the idea because she likes to walk too.... and it was a beautiful day... so we set out to walk.  It was sunny and warm.... and there were quite a few other people there too.

Surprising for an off-season weekday, I thought.  We walked and talked and stopped at each of the markers... took a few photos... and went on back to the condo and had a super visit just catching up.

But something stuck with me and was percolating in the back of my brain.... the landscape was so desolate... like a desert.  It reminded me a little of pictures I have seen of the middle east.  And, then, late that night, it hit me...  if I led a youth group in the Outer Banks, I would use this place as a pilgrimage about Jesus' trip to the cross.   There is a devotion called the Stations of the Cross that marks several stops along the road to Calvary.

And it so happens that, like this nature trail, the traditional devotion uses 14 stops.  There is a bit of controversy about this devotion and its lack of historical accuracy.  I don't want to get all involved in that - I would like to use it as it is intended... as a way to remember what Jesus chose to do for us.

And so it happened that my friend and I got up early the next day so that we could be at the park when it opened.. and we meditated on those stops as we walked that trail a second time.

This is what I'd like to share.  That little window of an hour or so.... before we left each other and went back to our lives.

We set out without breakfast and were there when they opened the gates just before 8 am.  It was a bit cloudy, threatening rain.  It was chilly and the sand was cold.  I went barefoot.  It became a sacred journey.

Over the course of the next two weeks, I will post a meditation each day about one of the 14 stops along the way.  My hope is that we can capture together a bit of that sacred space and reflect on the tremendous journey Jesus undertook for us.

Dear Jesus,

       We know you walk with us and we are never left alone.... Just as you were not truly alone that terrible day when your world came crashing down around you.  Be with us now as we remember what you did for us and how much you love us.


Worship Together

A funny thing happened the other day.

Somehow I was at church by myself.

No worries... I don't mind.

I entered and headed to my usual spot.  I like being near the choir so I can catch the cues from choir director.  That's really important if you are a lousy and loud singer... you really don't want to be singing when the choir stops :-)

So I chose an empty pew.  Standard behavior, I know... you slip in unobtrusively and sit on the end.  (I'm not sure why - quick get away, perhaps?)

I am sitting there minding my own business... a few polite waves hello... but mostly quiet.  And a family of people starts coming into the pew.  Oh yeah, I forgot.... THEIR pew :-) 

So I start sliding over.... and the rest of the family goes around and comes in the other side... so now I am sliding back and the first few are climbing over me. 

Okay.... back to my edge...

And THEN... someone belonging to the family in the pew in front of me slips in beside me.  Their pew was FULL.  

I was surrounded.

Okay, God..... I HEAR YOU! 

Sunday service is NOT a solitary celebration.  The plan is that we gather TOGETHER and worship you.  Solitary worship is for other times.

Dear God,

       I understand how Jonah felt.  I was looking forward to having it MY way.  I LIKE my quiet time with you.  But you are right.  And I need to curb my desire for quiet solitude on these occasions of communal worship.  I need to greet and enjoy your children, my brothers and sisters.  And thanks for not putting me in the belly of a big fish to teach me this lesson.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

God, it's me again...

Sometimes I wish the voices in my head would just STOP!

You need another challenge... you need to simplify your life.... you need to ask for help.... you need to stop imposing.... you need to lose weight.... you need to stop worrying about weight.... you need to help your kids.... you need to let your kids stand on their own....   yikes!  I feel like a battleground!

I am one of those voices, aren't I?

You bet!  But it's killing me... I can't figure out which one is YOU half the time!  I know that you have an opinion on every one of these choices before me.... but I can't figure out what that opinion is!

You really want me to tell you what to do?

Yes... why can't you just point the way with neon lights or something?  Like... YES to the lose weight... but NO to the worrying about it.. just eat sensibly and exercise and I'll take care of the rest..... or YES, ask for help but watch and be careful about imposing too much...

So far so good.... it doesn't sound like you need me yet...

Oh yes I do.... "just" eat sensibly?  If it was that simple, there would be no fat people on the planet!

"Be careful about imposing" would be simple too if people (your children, by the way) would tell the truth.  They lie... with all good intentions, they suck it up and keep doing for you until they get resentful and angry for being abused.  And then the original person who asked the favor... is left standing there feeling horrible because they took advantage and didn't know it was happening!

I admit, it sounds confusing...

Yes, but the thing is.. I KNOW you aren't confused.  I KNOW that you know how this is supposed to go.  Why can't you just TELL me so that I can make good decisions and not hurt people?

You are right.  I am not confused :-)  But I do love you and don't like to see you worry so much.

So... why exactly won't you help me?

I do help you.  I'm listening right now.

Ugghhhh.... I know that!  But won't you tell me what to do?

I don't need to.  You already know.

No, I don't.  I thought you said you were listening...

I AM!  You just gave me the answers.  The reason they don't work for you is that you are WORRIED about it!  You don't TRUST me.


That's right.  The weight thing would sort out IF you would just trust me.  Eat good food when you are hungry and move that body of yours instead of sitting so much.  VERY simple.  The weight issue won't straighten out WHEN you STRESS about it.   

The people thing.... people are messy.  My children are just like you... worry , worry, WORRY!  They want to help.  Then they get overwhelmed like you are right now.  It's just too bad when they get to a breaking point..... but you are right... it IS their responsibility.... but it is SAD when it breaks a relationship.  YOUR job is to KNOW this and keep the relationship anyway.  I LOVE you.... YOU love them.  Simple!

I DO trust you.

Then trust yourself.  I am with you.  I am helping you make these decisions.  Just trust me and show my love to others.  It will all sort out, I promise.

ummmm.... God?


I still don't know what to do.

<sigh>  Go to sleep.... I've got this for tonight.   We'll talk again tomorrow.



Thanks for listening.  I know that compared to tsunamis and earthquakes and civil unrest... my problems are small.  I appreciate that you care about my little stuff.

You are my child.  Your problems are important to me.  Now PLEASE go to sleep.

'night, God.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Over and over again, we read in the scriptures..

that Jesus had a special love for the lost...

for the searching...

for those who didn't know him...

He searched long and hard for the lost ones.

He left the ones who were safe and went out looking for the lost.

What does this mean for us and our love?

Why do we shy away from people who think differently than we do?  Is it because we are frightened of others' beliefs?  But WHY would we be frightened unless we are unsure of our OWN beliefs? 

Are we afraid that exposure to the thinking of others would shake our OWN faith structure?

Shouldn't we spend some of our love for those who don't know him?
Don't we realize that we are the only gospel some people ever get to experience?

Dear Jesus,
  Help me to spread your love around my little corner of the world.  Help me reach out to those I do not understand and offer them the same respect and caring that you do.  You never forced anyone to see your point.  You just loved.  Help me rise to your challenge of love!  Help me go forward away from the familiar... knowing that I am secure in your love and my belief in you. 


Sunday, April 3, 2011

What a DAY!

My mind has been rolling around like crazy since I arrived at church this morning!

I have 2 pages of notes.... so I will have ideas to share with you :-)

One of the things I dislike the most is that place in my head....

Where I am poised to move forward ...

AND there are several roads to take.

For me right now.... it is writing and prayer... but sometimes it is other choices that life demands of us.  Sometimes we sit and are caught betwixt and between....  so many opportunities... and who knows WHAT the outcome will be...  It is hard.  But that is okay because life is not supposed to be easy.  Easy has no rewards.  But easiER would be okay sometimes :-)

Dear God....

  Tonight I will take a rest.  I trust in you.  You alone.  You know what my choices are.  And you know where you want me to go.  Tonight I will praise you because you are awesome.  Tonight I will thank you for my blessings.  Tonight I will stop the maelstrom in my head and just rest.  I am open.  YOU direct me.  YOU lead me.  I am ready when you are!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

In gratitude

I can't wait to go to church tomorrow.

I was sick last week and couldn't go....

and I missed my friends.

AND I missed the service.

I missed all the little things that went into putting the service together.  All the invisible and not so invisible pieces and parts that so many contribute.

When I think of Sunday services..... I naturally think of my pastor and I thank him for the gifts he shares.

But I also want to give a great big THANK YOU to all the people who make my Sunday service meaningful.

You know - they are in your church too.... the choir, of course..... but all the greeters and readers too... the youth who help out... and those who work with the children....  all the 'behind the scenes' workers.. people who clean the worship space and do the flowers and art...  and print up the worship aides....  and all the people I have forgotten...

And then there are the ones who COME!  Who listen and sing and pray with me....

I thank you all for making my worship more meaningful!

Dear God,
     Please extend your loving hand in blessing right now over the members of all your congregations and their families.  Please give them all a great night's rest and help them be excited and ready to gather with me tomorrow to worship you! 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thank You :-)

Thank you, God, for another day.

It sure didn't turn out the way I expected.  It was a lot harder.  Appointments were longer than expected.  My husband is miserable with a cold.  My kids are being kids.... and I've been fighting a headache since last night.

But I'm thanking you anyway.

I have a warm home to come back to at the end of the day.  We had a leftover pot of soup to heat and eat.... and there were no bills in the mail today.  And I have these blessed people to take care of and love.

Sometimes it's hard.  But that's good.  It feels good to get through it with a smile - well, mostly.  But I'm grateful for the blessings you shower on me!

Thank you for this day..... and I look forward to tomorrow.


PS... if you could see your way to making the headache go away, it just could be a perfect Friday :-)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where Are You Leading Me?

Okay - so maybe I don't really want to know!  I did what you asked.  I went to see THOSE people.  I went in their house and it was incredibly uncomfortable!  I didn't know what to say..


But I made conversation, I delivered what I needed to deliver.   but man, I'm glad it's over.  I don't want to do that again.

we'll see....

It was awful.  I was SO uncomfortable.  I didn't know what to say or how to act.

but I got you through it, didn't I?

Yes, but I don't want to do that again.  I was there less than TEN minutes and my clothes and my hair STINK!  The smoke haze was terrible.

true - addiction is no fun

but why me?  I quit over 20 years ago and it makes me crazy!

uhhhh.. you don't think you are over-reacting?

no way..... okay, maybe a little.  But I don't think they wanted me there... they just wanted what I had to deliver.

well.... maybe "I" wanted them to have you there.

okay - now that doesn't make sense to me.  What possible good did that do?

You don't HAVE to understand.  YOU have to trust me... just like THEY do.  It will go easier next time.

Next time?

Don't worry about it.... let's have a good evening....  we'll talk about this thing some more tomorrow.  You do trust me, don't you?

Of course, but...

No buts....

Okay.... I did promise.... where you ask me to go, I will go.  But it IS okay to talk to you about it, isn't it?  Maybe even whine a little?

Oh boy.... did you ever read about my child Moses?  Yes.... I LIKE it when you talk to me.... and I especially like it when you do what I ask anyway.  So let me hold you now.  It was a good day.

Thanks, God.  I'll try not to whine tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Little Light

At church the other day.... we had a prayer service that truly touched my heart.   There was a large candle burning in the darkened worship space.  Each person present was to light a small candle and set it on the altar.

It started with one small candle.... joined by another.... and another.... until there was a large tray filled with these small lit candles.  The room was no longer dark :-) 

That image stayed with me and got me to thinking about my own little light.... my own small efforts in my corner of the world.... little things that seem insignificant when I do them... like a note to a friend to cheer or encourage (okay, the truth is that FROM ME it is probably an email!)...  the pot of soup I make for my husband because it is his favorite (and not mine).. or even simply a smile!

Small insignificant actions.... one little light.... but when you add MY little light to YOUR little light... and we are joined by ANOTHER little light.... WOW!  Before you know it, we have a bonfire of kindnesses :-)

Dear God,

        Work through me!   Please help me take the light and goodness that you give me... and share it!  Help me remember that there are NO insignificant kindnesses.   My little light is my little way to praise you!   When we do small things in your name, they become BIG ways to glorify you.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Is Your Heart Open?

Have you ever noticed that when you are open to something.... you begin to notice it all around you?

An example would be a new word.  I know that when I hear a word that I've never heard before... all of a sudden, I hear it everywhere.

Even a really weird word.... I really noticed it not to long ago when I learned the word "bloviate".  I remembered the word because it means to talk on and on and on in a very pompous manner.  When I heard the word, I immediately thought of someone who bloviates (a lot of politicians qualify!)

But what was funny... was that within a few days, I heard the word in a conversation, I heard it on television, and I read it in a book.   And I swear I had never heard the word before.... but I know I have because the show I heard it on, I had seen several times before.

It makes me think that perhaps I should DECIDE what I want to find in my life.... and simply be open to it.   Like kindness.... or goodness in people.... or happiness.

Dear God,

   If I really trust in you, then I have to know that you want all good things for me.  You love me and want me to be happy.  Help me open my heart and my mind to that loving kindness.  Help me stop being suspicious and cynical.... and simply enjoy the people around me and be part of your plan.

Please help me see the love you show me every day.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why Can't They Make Their Kids Behave?

You've seen them.  THAT family!  There are a ton of them... they take up a whole pew.  And they have too many children.... who will NOT be still.  Why can't they make their kids behave?

Those little ones.... crawling all around... under the seats.... up and over all the adults.  The older ones fidgeting.... eating cheerios... arguing over crayons... telling each other what to do...

You've seen them!  They have interrupted your solitary time with God.... they've made it impossible to listen to the sermons..  Heavens.... you can't even follow along with the music... you can barely manage to hear the message the presider is imparting!

Okay - you can stop now....  did you SEE the littlest one rescue his grandmother's reading glasses from under the pew?   Did you SEE the quick hug the mom and child shared as he was climbing over her?   Did you HEAR those little voices praising God while they tried to figure out the lyrics they couldn't read?  Did you notice that the noisy 'FIGHTING over crayons' was really noisy 'SHARING of crayons'?

Did you once.... just ONCE... come out of your annoyance to NOTICE any of this?  Consider...perhaps the sermon you were distracted from..... was not the message God was sending to YOU personally :-)

Dear God,
     Help me to be tolerant of others.  When I am angry or annoyed, please help open my eyes and my heart to truly see what you want me to see!  Too often, I judge others by my own standards.... and I forget that You ask me to use YOUR standards!  Jesus wouldn't be harsh or critical of the children... EVER!  Jesus saw the truth without judging.... I want to be like that.   Thank you for loving all of us anyway!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Down from the Mountain

After a couple of days away, I am home again.  Boy, I missed my family!

But it was good to have time to be alone.

I have had time to focus on spiritual matters.  I have had time away from the usual chores and routines to really think.

My life stopped for a little while so I could think it through.

I am ready to put my shoulder back to the wheel and get this thing going again!


Thank you so much for the opportunity to spend time with you.  Time to regenerate and to sort out some of the ideas and thoughts in my head.  Help me bring renewed energy and joy to those around me!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Are You Out There, God?

God, I am really in a weird place right now.   I am busy.... so busy I can hardly hear myself think.  My head is a rolling list of things that need to be done... things to do right now, things I have put off doing that are becoming more important, things I want to do but can't figure out the time for... and talking to you is one of those things.


I mean, I am sitting here thinking about how I need to talk to you... and I want to hear what you have to say.... oops, the dog is at the door... brb

Okay - I'm back.. sorry about that. The dog wanted out and I had to walk her.  It was COLD out there but the sun was rising so maybe it will warm up later.  Man, those birds were noisy this morning too!  Anyway... that's done - and I went ahead and got some breakfast and put the laundry on while I was at it.  Now..... <deep breath>    I'm back.

And I have to tell you.... I am really in a dry spell lately.  I don't understand why You aren't speaking to me.  I mean, I am so overwhelmed right now and I could sure use your voice!  Things are nuts!  That reminds me - I am behind on my Lenten readings.  I'd better go see what the assignment is..

I'll be back in a minute.

Sorry - got sidetracked.  I have 4 essays to write about your kingdom and I can't wrap my head around it.  I keep staring at the assignment and the words won't come!  I sure wish you would tell me what to write!  You are just so quiet right now... and I need answers!


Phone ringing... brb...

That was a friend of mine... she said she was just thinking about me and wanted to check in and see how I am.  Nice, I know.... but I have things to do.

Man, my son is up and I need to go say good morning.  I have some errands to run too so it'll be a bit before I'll be back.... I'm listening though.... I'm ready to hear from you.  I wish you would speak up.  I know you are there!

...yes, I am here....

Okay - back - what a LONG day! I just don't get it... my mind is rolling around so much!  You know all the stuff that is on it!  The anger about that personal situation that I can't figure out what to do with... my friend who is going to have surgery next week... how we are going to get the taxes handled... well, you already know how confused and upset I am right now!  Why can't you just tell me what to do?  I know you are there.  Why are you ignoring me?  You could at least tell me how handle this stuff so I can be more useful to you!

Enough already!  Didn't you hear me when you saw that sunrise this morning?  I even had the birds put on a concert for you!   And what about that phone call from your friend?  You haven't heard from her in a long time and I prompted her to call you.  I thought it would make you feel better.   Your son woke up in a good mood.   The weather was good for your errand-running.  The jelly you've been looking for everywhere was right there on the shelf AND on sale!  I'm sorry the assignment about my Kingdom didn't grab hold of your attention but I've tried EVERYTHING today.

But what am I supposed to do?

You are supposed to trust me.

But I DO trust you.

Really?  Are you sure?  If that is true, then what is your problem?  Don't you think I have this under control?  RELAX!

Okay, God.  I'm sorry.  You are right again.  I am trying to take charge again, aren't I?  What is wrong with me?
No worries.  I made you.  I know exactly how you think.  It's okay.  Just keep talking to me.  Go to bed now and get some rest.  We'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Full Moon

For the past week or so, we have had the most beautiful full harvest moon.

The other night I was looking at it and commented to my husband about how gorgeous it was.

He proceeded to tell me how close the moon was to the earth at that moment.  Something about the orbit of the moon around the earth and that it would not be this close again for many years.  He gave me all the pertinent details - which as you can see - didn't stick :-)

I just saw the moon.

What is such a gift is that we are so very different in the way we think.  I become a better person because my mind has to stretch to meet his!  And vice-versa..

Dear God

Thank you for the people in my life!  Thank you for all of those who keep me thinking and learning and questioning about your world.  And at the same time, I want to thank you for my own unique perspective.  It is incredible how different each of us really is - how individually you created each of us.  It is not easy to have enough confidence in my own point of view that I can reach over communication barriers to try to understand where others are coming from.  Help me to appreciate the differences in myself and in others even when it becomes difficult to communicate!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I had the good fortune today to have a window of calm time to catch up with an old friend from high school.  The years fell away as we talked and shared stories of our very different lives. 

What a gift!

Many many years have unfolded since we were in the same time and space and it was absolutely beautiful to watch the years fall away as we discovered how much we still share.  How cool is it to still have someone who knew you back when you were a child!

Each of us in our own ways, in our own places are still seeking God and that is a wonderful thing to share with each other.

I am blessed that we have been able to keep in contact for all these years and still share that friendship we had so many years ago.

Dear God,

  Thank you for the blessings of friends. I appreciate receiving your grace THROUGH them.  Help me be a way for you to speak TO them.  Thank you for helping make this time possible for me.   


Little Miracles

I was thinking today about the miracles we miss.

The ones that happen every day that do not stand up and command our attention.

We are SO busy.... we miss the unfolding of a spring flower.... the song of a bird... the sun peeking out from behind a cloud.... the helping hand of a friend.... the driver who lets us cut in front of him... the special markdown on a grocery item we need.... the dollar bill we found in the dryer.... the letter from the phone company that was NOT a bill.... the million and one little miracles around us every day.  They are SO numerous that we not only take them for granted... we don't even SEE them!

It's time to slow down and take notice!

Dear God,  thank you SO much for all the blessings you give me.  Thank you for surrounding me with your love and care.  Please help me SLOW my life down..... help me stop and BREATHE in your grace..... and look around and truly see all the goodness in my life.  I am truly grateful for this place and this time where you have put me.  Lead me where you need me.... and help me see your loving hand all along the way!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

All Praise to God!

What an incredibly beautiful day!!

All the pieces fell in place today.  And it wasn't anything that I did myself...

The weather was glorious.... the traffic was light..... the kids were happy.   The grass got mowed.... there were no bills in the day's mail... we didn't run out of anything urgent... and my assignments are done. 

I don't think the day could have gone better!   And it is all thanks to you!

Dear God,

   Thank you so much for all your goodness and kindness to me.  Thank you for taking care of my family and my home and my friends... and everything in my little corner of the world today.  All praise and glory be to you!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Somebody took my pew!

Where am I going to sit?

I got a chuckle the other day when a friend confessed to me that she got upset when she went to church and someone else was sitting in the seat she usually sits in.

You KNOW that feeling... you have a seat.... you almost always head to the same spot.  Not only in church... I see it happen in classes, meetings... any gathering.  Just watch... people file in and sit in the same spot or position as much as they can.  We are creatures of habit.

I've seen older people get really angry when people 'take their pew'.... like their names are engraved on it :-)  But it's our SPOT..... we feel at home right there.... comfortable..... hmmm.... complacent..... unchanging.....

I can't remember even once in the Gospel where Jesus called us to be comfortable... OR complacent.    He called us to CHANGE!  He called us to be awake and ready and a bit on edge :-)

Maybe I should choose a different pew.... just because...

Dear God,
   help me be kind and hospitable.  Help me remember not to be rigid.  Help me be like my friend... a little bit annoyed at MYSELF when I am annoyed at having to change :-)   Thank you for loving me anyway and helping me on the journey!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Into the desert

While the gospel writers agree that Jesus went into the desert for forty days and was tempted, (and successfully overcame temptation, of course!).... they differ on HOW he got there. 

It is written that he was LED into the desert (Matthew & Luke) .... and it is also written that he was DRIVEN into the desert (Mark).  I like this.  I wonder what it must have been like for him .... to know what was going to happen in the end.... and to allow the whole scenario to play out as intended.  I mean, Jesus is God... so he had to know what that time in the desert was going to prepare him for!

But when I think about Jesus sharing my human condition, I can certainly understand the 'was driven' part... even though he was more than willing to do his father's will.  It is hard to do things when you are afraid or not quite ready.

Lent always hits me differently... sometimes I am prepared and I go serenely into it... other times, it sneaks up on me and I am driven into it...

Dear God, help me be like your son Jesus.  Help me be obedient to you.  Help me overcome my own feelings and go on into the desert to face my demons,  Whether I am prepared or not, please know that I am willing and eager (even when I don't seem that way!)  Help me go forward and be strong in your name.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Whose Voice is it?

I hear so many, many voices telling me what to do, Lord!  Is it YOU?

Is it the world?

Is it my desire?

Am I rationalizing what I want?  Or is this really what YOU want?

Sometimes it's hard to tell..

Sometimes the clamor is deafening.... so many people want so many things.  I think of the gospel passages where Jesus preaches and teaches and heals... and more and more people crowd around him.  And then he needs to go off somewhere else for a while.  I'm guessing he needed to re-charge.  I'm thinking his fisherman apostles put him in the boat and took him into the middle of the lake so he could get a little peace and quiet.

Sometimes it's just pushing.  The world just pushing me, pushing me, pushing me to do certain things.  I can't always tell if these are things I really should do or not.  Even GOOD things... sometimes they are not for ME to do.... but it's hard to tell.

Sometimes it's something that I want for myself.  Is it selfish?  Or is it just right?  Hard to tell, sometimes.

Dear God,  Help me out here.  You are the All Powerful, the Almighty.  You created the master plan.  You are the ONE who knows what is best for  me to do.  Help me hear your call.  Actually, Lord....  you might have to hit me over the head.... but know that I really want to do what YOU want... I just sometimes get caught up in the voices.  So, bear with me, Lord, and help me figure it out.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Prayer of Saint Patrick

This prayer attributed to St. Patrick is one of my all-time favorites.  It's worthy of printing out and repeating all day... and today is the day to do it!

It's a quiet, calm prayer that helps center me.

Take a quiet moment and join with St. Patrick and me to pray together

.... breathe in with every line.. and FEEL Jesus all around you :-)

Prayer of Saint Patrick

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, and in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.


Happy St Patrick's Day, everyone!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I need Jesus

I need Jesus.   Yes, I really do.

I like to study other religions because I feel that most of humanity is seeking God.  And I believe that, while we have the tools in Scripture, that we do NOT have all the understanding.  So, as people,  we study and we learn.  There are many paths to understanding what is right in front of us.  And most of the world's great religions believe in a higher power... in good morals... in peace... all good stuff we can agree on.

But the more I study, the more I find that I need Jesus.  Me personally.  I need a God that comes right down here to me.  I need to know that God understands what it means to be human.  And to think that God..... MY God...... actually CHOSE to become part of the human story...... to walk the earth and be abused and killed by the people he created... and then rise again to give us a new life.. .well, that is downright mind-boggling.

But it gives me a God that I can relate to.  A God I can aspire to.. a God I can believe in.

Dear God, thank  you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!  You have given me the greatest gift by sharing the human experience with me.  You chose to live a simple life and die a horrific death... simply to rescue me from myself.   This is a sacrifice... a gift.. that I can barely comprehend... but I am most utterly grateful.. and can never repay you.  All I have to give is my gratitude and my faith.  And it is YOURS.


Monday, March 14, 2011

A Steadfast Spirit

 Psalm 51:12 A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.  (NAB version)

When I was young, steadfast never seemed to be something to aspire to.  I mean, what is exciting about 'steadfast'?

And that is probably true - exciting is probably not the word to use to describe it.

But in this world of change... where life circumstances change from one minute to the next... where information is pouring into my mind and heart at warp speed.... a clean heart and a steadfast spirit will help me survive the day.

A clean heart to keep my motives pure and eliminate excess negativity towards others AND towards myself.  Knowing that I am forgiven before I even mess up is an amazing gift.  All I need to do is recognize my error, ask forgiveness and atone to my brothers and sisters where possible.  Of course, that is the hardest part.... BUT when I do this... I am forgiven and can start over!  Wow!

But that steadfast spirit is what I need more.

Because I KNOW that I will mess up.  And I know that the evil in the world lives on.

Over and over and over again.  I get really tired of trying (and making mistakes).  I get really tired of all the bad things I hear on the news.

Sometimes it's almost more than I can bear.  So, Father, I NEED that steadfast spirit.

I need to have the strength to keep on believing.... believing in YOU.... believing in your merciful forgiveness... believing in all the good things you have stored up all of us.

Dear God,
     Create in me a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.  Help protect me from myself.  Let me not succumb to the craziness of the world around me.  Help me learn about the events around me but not become absorbed by them.  Keep me thinking purely and logically with a heart to serve and help. Thank you for the steadfast spirit that will keep me getting up and starting over again and again as often as you need me to.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Where you lead me

My son keeps humming a song that sticks in my head...  the line that keeps resonating with me is "I will go, Lord, where you lead me".

Which , of course, I will.

But why isn't God speaking loudly to me?  The call I am hearing tends to be LAUNDRY.... or DINNER...  or DUSTING.   I am hearing the call to stop what I am doing and SERVE somebody in some way...  make a copy and fax it, pick up something at the dry cleaners, clean up something unidentifiable off the floor.

Why can't God call me to go do something BIG?  Like lead a group to Africa or some other distant place.... or raise a million dollars to help sick children... or make a BIG impact on the world.  Why am I being called to cut out posterboard for Vacation Bible School.. or make soup for a potluck... or send a card to a sick person?

What do you do when God is not calling you to GO anywhere....

What if the "going" God is leading you toward is actually "STAYING"?

Dear God, help me today to appreciate your call!  Help me to remember that this isn't about me and my need to feel important.  Help me to remember that you love me and have put me right exactly where you need me AND where it is best for me to be right now.   My life is filled with your grace... help me to see it and share it in the little ways you provide for me.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thy will be done

How many times do I agree to submit to God's will?

      "Thy will be done"

And how many times do I prayerfully ask what it is?  I mean, seriously..... I think most times, I try to figure things out on my own.... and then go forward like I know what I am doing!

And then..... when I DO ask....  how many times do I  - respectfully - try to change things because I need to be in control?  Or because I don't like the answer...

I KNOW that God knows what is best for me.   I don't just believe it - I know it.   So why, oh why, do I try so hard to take charge of my own life?

I think I need to learn that the very BEST way to STAY in control of my own life is to submit.... ooh, there is that nasty word..... SUBMIT to God's will.   To be loving when treated badly, to be understanding when the world hurts me, to be strong and faithful when the world is rocking around me.

 Dear God, help me to trust in you.  Help me to LET GO of the things that worry me and confuse me and focus instead on trusting in You.  Help me rest in your love and care so I can reflect that love and care to those around me.  Help me take charge of my life by trusting You to take care of me and my needs when potential problems arrive.  Thank you for helping me trust and believe even when I have trouble understanding!

Friday, March 11, 2011

"All Christian"

It is amazing to me how many products in the grocery store have a label that says "All Natural" yet when you look at the ingredients you see many items that you can't even pronounce!  Obviously "All Natural" is a misnomer.... I mean, how can something be all natural when there is nothing natural on the ingredient list? But in life, you can't always trust in what the label says.

I read a couple of verses in Matthew the other day that brought this into perspective for me:  Matthew 7:21-24 (NIV 2011 version quoted)

  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

It makes me think.  I profess to be Christian... That is my label.  But do I really ACT it?  Do I really show love and kindness like Jesus did? 

So I know my label.... but am I really what I say I am?  Is my label accurate?  Am I "All Christian"?  

I think I need to act nicer and worry less about my label.

And what about others.... people who profess NOT to be Christian?  I'm not saying that those of other faith persuasions are closet Christians.... not at all.  

But what I THINK is that God is pleased with those who act the way Jesus taught us to act.  For whatever reason and with whatever label.

Dear God, help me to be honest.  Help me to be a true follower of your Son.  Help me not to judge others and to recognize your goodness wherever I SEE it.  Help me not be blinded by what others SAY.. help me see YOU in what others DO.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

God's care and comfort

When I was sitting in church last week... one of the prayers really resonated in my brain.   The presider led us in prayer for "God's care and comfort".

What struck me though.... is WHY do we pray for God's care and comfort?  We believe already that God cares for us.  We believe already that God provides for our needs.  Why are we praying that God provide those things for us?

I'd like to suggest that we pray to be open to God's provision.  God's ways are not our ways... we've been made clear on that one... so the care and comfort we are seeking may not look like what we think it should look like.

Perhaps the care will come from someone we do not recognize.

Perhaps the smile a stranger gives us is part of that 'care and comfort'.

Perhaps the offer of help from someone we do not care for... is our opportunity to receive God's care and comfort.

And if we trust God to provide for us... perhaps we need to trust that God knows our needs better than we do.  Maybe our needs are being met already but our expectations are different from God's.

Lots to ponder.... it always brings me back to working on ME to be the best me I can... with God's help that is ALWAYS available :-)

Dear God, help me to SEE and FEEL the love and comfort you give me every day.  Help me to be the person you envisioned when you created me.  Thank you for being my rock!

Messed Up Already

Oh my, I am such a SCHMUCK!

First day of Lent and messed up already...

I promised you I'd spend 30 whole minutes reading and reflecting... and the day is done and I didn't get there..

"Why didn't you get there?"

Well, I planned to get up early and give you that time... but the clock didn't go off early like I am SURE I set it for... and I had to get up and get the coffee going for my husband.  I started to read while he was in the shower.. but then he couldn't find his socks.. and I had to go find some.

By the time I get him out the door, the dog was whining to go out..

"I remember told me you were worrying about rain... but I took care of it"

Yes, you sure did.. I remember asking you about it... well then, we got back home and I settled down again with my Bible... and my kids started waking up.. and the day began!  Breakfast and laundry and lunches to prepare... we had to leave in an hour.. so really quick, I went to my computer and downloaded the section of the Bible I wanted to read to my E-reader so I could take it with me.

"Good idea!"

...but I am such a SCHMUCK!  I never got back to the computer to get the reader... it stayed home.... but you know that already...

"Are you kidding?  You talked AT me about that for a good 10 minutes!"

that's right... probably a rant.. sorry about that... I told you, I am a SCHMUCK!  But anyway you are right, I fussed until I saw the accident..

"and.... you asked me to take care of the people involved.  I liked the bit about taking care of the rescue workers, too."

Oh yeah - well I do that a lot... but the day kept moving on.. just like that.  I had some errands to run..

"picking up supplies for your VBS meeting on Sunday.... you weren't planning on getting reimbursed for that, were you??"

No, of course not.... not this time, you already know that... it's part of my tithe.  And then there was my son's class to go to and the cleaning to be picked up.. but I had a plan.  I was gonna grab those 30 minutes just as soon as I got home.  Oh, I am such a SCHMUCK!

"So what happened?"

Well.... the cats tore up a plant and I had to clean that up... 3 messages on the phone I had to rescue for my husband and then I needed to forward those... putting away the groceries... and then my son wanted to tell me about his day.. so I sat and had a cup of tea with him.... by the time I got back to my 30 minutes... my husband got home from work...  I am such a SCHMUCK!

"So what I am hearing is that you couldn't give me 30 minutes because you were busy taking care of my children?"

No, MY children and my husband.... just normal everyday stuff.... you got pushed aside for normal everyday stuff.... I am such a SCHMUCK!

"I wish you would quit doing that"

Doing what?

"Calling yourself names.... you are my child and it hurts me when you call yourself names.  And, by the way, the people you take care of... are NOT your children.. they are mine.  I entrusted them to you and you are doing just fine with them.  Thank you for that."

For what?  Finding missing socks and cooking breakfast?  Come on, any normal person ought to be able to find 30 minutes to read their Bible and be with you.

"Get over it.... you are doing exactly what I need for you to do.  Do you realize how long THIS particular conversation has taken?  You have been talking TO me and AT me all day long.... MUCH longer than 30 minutes.  I LOVE that you want to give me some uninterrupted time... but you have done what I asked you to do today.  

Now be quiet and go to sleep.  Let me hold you and take care of you now.  You gave me your day.  Now let me help you get ready for the next one.  We'll try again tomorrow."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

And so to begin...

..... the annual Lenten journey begins today.

It starts small with waking up with a smile, knowing that I am about to embark on a special endeavor.  I plan to take the time to watch and wait and listen, to study and prepare and be ready, to cleanse and purify and purge.  I plan to take this gift of Lent and see what God calls forth from me.

But what specifically does that mean?

The culture 'out there' speaks to giving up.... giving up candy.... giving up television... giving up soda..  I don't want to 'give up'.  I DO want to be careful with what I put into this body you gave me.  I DO want to glorify you by following good healthy lifestyle practices.

I DO want to simplify my lifestyle so I can spend more time with God's children and less time with STUFF.

I DO want to GIVE BACK... giving alms is a Lenten practice.. so I plan to continue on my tithing journey and give what I can to those in need. 

Dear God, help me to be reasonable with myself.  I come before you today in an attitude of willingness and readiness.   You and me, we have a trip to take together.    Help me NOT attempt such huge things that You are not expecting from me.  Sometimes I think my desire to do BIG things has more to do with ME than YOU.

Help me NOT set my standards so low that there is no sacrifice involved.  When I expect too LITTLE of myself, I am not trusting in you.

You are in charge.... help me find the balance between TOO MUCH and TOO LITTLE... help me find the Lenten practices that are JUST RIGHT to help me become a gift back to you.