Sunday, August 31, 2008

Holy Ground

We attended church today in Charleston at St. Marks UMC. It's a beautiful sanctuary -- light and elegant.

Monty, the minister, began his sermon with a prayer, which included the line, "God, remove our sandals so that we will know that we are standing on holy ground."

What a great line. And isn't it truth? Don't we sometimes need God to help us to understand that the ground on which we stand is holy?

One of the lectionary readings this week is from Exodus -- the passage where Moses finds the burning bush -- Exodus 3:1-15.

Read this verse (#3): Then Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up."

Moses turned aside. He stopped and noticed the bush. He watched it long enough to realize that it was not being consumed.

Do we notice the burning bushes? Do we pay attention to God's intervention in the world? Do we need to ask God to remove those things which distract us or prevent us from noticing that we are standing on holy ground?

God, remove my sandals so that I know that I am standing on holy ground.

Image: St. Mark's sanctuary (taken by G.)
Note: Happy Birthday to J, who is 12 today.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Community Post

Special Note: Hit 30,000 hits yesterday.

Read this scripture:

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Romans 12:4-8)
These two images in this post are of a quilt that is hanging in the Social Hall of the student center at Wesleyan. Individual fabric squares, all floral fabric, are sewn together according to color value. You can see in the other image that together these blocks form a cross.

Perhaps community / church is like that . God can see the picture that we make when we are united in purpose. He sews us together to create the piece of art that only he can imagine.

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Friday, August 29, 2008


Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast 3 years ago today.

In your prayers remember those who remember Katrina and who are watching Gustav. What must it be like to be waiting for a storm to arrive?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pray without Ceasing

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances might not be easy things to do, but I've always thought that they sounded more achievable than to pray without ceasing. How do you pray without ceasing?

I'm giving a talk in October about living a life in relationship with God. Ever since I started to think about the topic, planning what the muscles on the bones of the talk might be, I keep encountering examples I might use or viewpoints that I hadn't thought of. They just appear. In an errant email that was not addressed to me. In music that I didn't choose to listen to. In web sites that I just happen upon. They seem like coincidences.


If I believe that I live a life in relationship with God, and if I believe that he is involved in my life, then I must believe the corollary...that I will see evidence of his work. If I believe in God and in his active work in the world, then I have to believe that there are things that happen which are not coincidences.

I wonder if God opens our hearts, ears and minds to see what is around us that will equip us to do what he has called us to do? I have a friend who asks for prayer for "clear vision." Is that clear vision, or a part of it?

I wonder if being open to this kind of "pointing" by God is part of what Paul meant by praying without ceasing?

From an article an article by Philip Yancey called, "Frederick Buechner's Experience of Crazy, Holy Grace":
"I have intellectual doubts, of course," he says. "But as John Updike put it, if there is no God then the universe is a freak show, and I do not experience it as a freak show. Though I have had neither the maleficent nor the beatific vision, I have heard whispers from the wings of the stage."

He writes of an anxious moment in an airport (Buechner battles a fear of flying) when suddenly he notices on the counter a tie pin engraved with his initials, "C.F.B."; and of a good friend who dies suddenly in his sleep and then visits Buechner in a dream, leaving behind a strand of blue wool from his jersey, which Buechner finds on the carpet the next morning; and of sitting parked by the side of the road in a moment of personal crisis when a car barrels down the road with a license plate bearing the simple message "T-R-U-S-T."

Each of these occurrences, Buechner grants, is open to a more "scientific" interpretation. Buechner, though, prefers to see messages in such chance occurrences—of an underlying Providence.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What would life be like?

I bought a new CD this evening -- What Life Would be Like by Big Daddy Weave.

Take a look at the lyrics of the title song:

He made the lame walk and the dumb talk
He opened blinded eyes to see
That the sun rises on His time
Yet he knows our deepest desperate need
And the world waits while His heart aches
To realize the dream
I wonder what life would be like if we let
Jesus live through you and me.

I've liked the tune to the song for a long time, but listening to it tonight on the way home, I heard the words in a whole new way. If we think about the life of Jesus, we know that he cured the lame, the deaf, the blind, and that's easy to see in the words of the song. But consider these alternative thoughts...

He made the lame walk -- Does he ever move us to action? Does he make us walk to somewhere we would rather not go? Across the room to help someone? Down the block to serve at the Mission? Across the street to help someone? To a neighbor's home to visit? Does he make the lame walk today?

and the dumb talk -- Has God given you words when you didn't know what to say? Have you ever been in a situation and felt moved to speak words that you later thought could not have been your own? Does he lead us to speak out against injustice, hatred, or pain? Does he make the dumb talk today?

He opened blinded eyes to see -- Are there things in the world that we close our eyes to? Does God move us to attention to something we would have ignored? Does he lead us to see a situation in a way that he sees it? Does he give us clear vision? Does he open blinded eyes to see today?

That the sun rises on His time -- Do we ever finally know that God is in control? That his ultimate will will be done? That he is God and we are not? Do we finally notice that the sun rises on his time today? This very day?

Yet he knows our deepest desperate need -- Are there times when we hold back? When we aren't honest with God? Do we really think he doesn't know the truth? Do we really think that we can hide our sins, our fears, our shortcomings from God? Do we think know one understands us? Do we finally realize that he knows our deepest desperate need, even today?

And the world waits while His heart aches ... To realize the dream -- What would happen if we finally understood that God cares about what is happening in our lives? Do we understand that his heart aches, like ours would do if a child were in trouble? Do we ever understand our position as children of God?

I wonder what life would be like if we let Jesus live through you and me. -- Are there times when we know that what we are doing is because God has called us to the ministry? Will God be able to reach people through us? What would life be life if we had faith?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I'm still thinking about The Grove event. There was much talk yesterday about restoration and renewal (which is an obvious statement, considering the purpose of The Grove).

Jesus took time to pull away from his ministry, from time to time. He sought time alone and he spent time in solitary prayer.

Why did he do that? I assume that he needed it; if he needed it, then so do I, but why did he need it? What is the "so that" of renewal?

I ask this question because I'm apt to just sit and rest. I'm not sure that this kind of relaxation has a purpose or a reason -- I just like to do it, so I do.

There are times when I take a day off and just spend it on my own. Time apart. I need it; I don't just do it because I like it, but because if I don't do it, I get "antsy." I read the other day that people who take time for lunch during their work day are more productive than people who don't.

If the rest -- if the relaxation -- is because we are renewed for ministry, then it is sacred and holy. I'm not sure that I can say that about all of my quiet time, but for some of it, it's truth.

I think the point I'm trying to make -- and I am really am rambling around it -- is that I know that renewal is necessary. I just think that we need to make sure that it has a "so that."


Monday, August 25, 2008


We went to a seeding event today for The Grove . One of the exercises was to take origami paper and to fold a crane. That's mine to the left.

As I looked at my not-so-perfect crane, I decided that there are some similarities between the crane and us.

  • It is, of course, not perfect. Neither am I.
  • It was a little bit crooked, out of balance. The edges don't quite meet up. Like mine.
  • It was formed by forces which are flawed, and those flaws are transmitted into the creation.
  • The creases are folded tightly in -- just like the creases in my life. Unfold my life, and the scars of the creases will still show.
  • According to the story today, it takes 1000 cranes to create a miracle. We will find unexpected miracles in community. We can accomplish things we never expected when we are in Christian community.
  • As you fold up a piece of paper into a crane, there are times (most of the time, for me) when I couldn't have predicted what the final product would be. We can't always see the end or the purpose in what we are doing when we are in the middle of the work, even if it is work to which we have been called.
  • This crane has my own words of peace written inside. Peace often arrives when we realize that peace is not external, but comes from the spirit of God inside of us.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


A Friday Five from RevBlogGalPals:

Here are five things to ponder about dates.

  • Datebooks--how do you keep track of your appointments? Electronically? On paper? Month at a glance? Week at a glance? I keep a "Month on Two Pages" kind of calendar. I use it for work, for church and for home -- all on one calendar. I've tried the same thing on separate calendars, but I read somewhere that it was best to have just one, and whoever said that was right. I also put some of the dates on my Outlook calendar at work so that the computer can remind me.
  • When was the last time you forgot an important date? Well, I can't remember, although I'm sure that I have. Maybe I just blocked it out!
  • When was the last time you went OUT on a date? Steve and I try to make this a habit. We do it often enough that I couldn't name the last time.
  • Name one accessory or item of clothing you love even though it is dated. I have a leather coat that is probably out of date, but it is so comfortable that I love to wear it anyway.
  • Dates--the fruit--can't live with 'em? Or can't live without 'em? Oh, I can definately live without them!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

This I Know

I was in a meeting today for an upcoming Emmaus walk. I'm going to be a table leader, and I was thinking about my talk -- Life of Piety -- which has to do with having a relationship with God.

The Lay Director of the walk was talking about a song she wanted to sing during the walk -- she thinks that it will be Jesus Loves Me. So many of the team members discussed how their walks had shown them the immense love of God.

She read a devotional about the song Jesus Loves Me. As part of that song, someone had written a "senior" version, which included a line something like, "I will have no fear for He is near."

I wrote down that line.

As I think about it, several things come to mind:

  • There is a distinct connect between the realization that "Jesus loves me" and having no fear -- the knowledge that he is near. If we remember his closeness -- through our relationship with God -- then we will trust him. Trust doesn't exist with fear.
  • I forget. I get caught up in the fear, and I forget about the trust. I forget about his closeness. So I fear.
  • I'm blessed to have people in my life who remind me to trust, to not fear.
Aren't we blessed to realize that "Jesus Loves Me"?

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Friday, August 22, 2008


I was reading the blog Enter the Rainbow. Andy was talking about Usain bolt, the Olympic runner. He says,

Not only is Bolt fast, and not only does he make it look easy, he has a really good time while he's doing it, and it shows...He's out there posing, mugging the camera, dancing, taking off his shoes, messing around with other runners - he's having fun. He's 22 years old, the fastest human on earth, and he's having fun.

Which, apparently, is not okay with the Olympic people. "That's not the way we perceive being a champion," said Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, and confirmed stick in the mud. It seems Bolt's behavior might be perceived as disrespectful to the other runners, and not fitting for an Olympic champion.
I don't mean to make any statement about the attitude of track and field runners, but I wonder sometimes if our congregations are the same. Do the people in our worship services have the same kind of attitude? Do we have a link to "worship as it has always been" at the expense of worship as it could be? Do we get stuck in our preconceptions of what worship is so that we won't worship any other way? Are we so determined to "save our traditions" and our "sacred cow" of worship that we will put them ahead of actually worshipping?

And what can we do about it?


Thursday, August 21, 2008


Image: Sunset one evening on the way to dinner.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Leader: We come together as a church.

People: We stand in awe of our blessings and amazed by the boundless grace of God.

Leader: Join me in proclamation

All: If God were not with us, where would we be?

Leader: When anger seems to consume us, swallowing us in its grip,

People: Our God teaches us forgiveness and leads us to reconciliation.

Leader: When despair floods our lives and threatens to drown us,

People: Our God reaches toward us and rescues us, pulling us to safety.

Leader: Join me in proclamation

All: If God were not with us, where would we be?

Leader: When the storms of life turn our reality upside down,

People: Our God reminds us that we are never alone.

Leader: When it seems as if we will be swept away in our doubt and lack of faith,

People: Our God holds tight to us, ever faithful and ever steadfast.

Leader: Join me in proclamation

All: If God were not with us, where would we be?

Leader: If God were not with us, we would be lost.

People: Praise be to God that He keeps us in his care, surrounded by his love.

Leader: We fly like a bird, free to soar on the promise of God's possibilities for our lives.

People: Free of sin, free of guilt.

Leader: Join me in proclamation

All: If God were not with us, where would we be?

Leader: Praise be to God,

All: For He is our help and our salvation.

Loosely inspired by Psalm 124.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


One of the lectionary readings for this week is Exodus 1:8-2:10. It's the story of the birth of Moses and his protection from Pharaoh's plans to kill the sons born to the Egyptians. Pharaoh has granted the order to allow girl babies to live but boy babies to be killed. There are two midwives who refuse to comply. They risk themselves because they believed in God.

Think about what they risked. Surely a Pharaoh who would order the death of children would offer no mercy to someone who defied him. They risked that he would find out, and he did discover their defiance.

I was reading RevGalBlogPals this evening. The writer of the post asks, "Are we called to be midwives?" Are we called to stand against what we know to be wrong? I find it interesting that while the midwives did defy the Pharaoh, they didn't stand up against his horrible orders. Perhaps they knew that their own tiny voices would make no difference in what he was doing. They allowed their actions to show their faith in God. They saved children by what they did, not by what they said.

Are we called to be midwives?

I think that there are times when God calls us to speak up against evil. I think also, though, that there are times when we are called to be realistic and to work against evil in ways that will be most effective. In the case of the midwives, that meant not speaking out against the Pharaoh's orders, but quietly defying him. Children were saved, including Moses. Otherwise, no children might have been saved.

Are we called to be midwives?


Monday, August 18, 2008


We were talking today in our office meeting about peace. How can it be that in the midst of stress we are able to find peace? Why is it that peace exists in times of uncertainty. It seems to me that these would be the most unlikely time to find peace.

Except that peace which comes from God is not dependent upon circumstances. It's a gift.

What is peace? What is not peace?

Peace is not:
  • The assurance of a certain happy ending.
  • A lack of conflict
  • Getting what we want or think that we need

I think peace is the reassurance of the presence of God. It is the quiet that comes with the assurance that we are not alone; that God is with us. It is beyond our understanding, and it is a gift of grace.

Be still, and know that I am God.
Rest assured, and know peace.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

And the Sun rises


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fall Changes

Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals:

For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.

  1. Coming soon -- at the end of the month, I'll switch to a fall purse. This is a big deal for me; I really only change purses twice a year -- sometimes I switch to a small one to avoid carrying the heavy, big one.
  2. Kids go back to school -- that's a transformation for our household.
  3. G plans to take his learner's test soon. Talk about transformation!
  4. We have two new pastors at our church.
  5. I've lost almost 20 pounds.


Friday, August 15, 2008


We hang on to illusions.
The illusion of control.
The illusion of balance.
The belief that we can change the outcome
of the things which we cannot control.
We fight against those things
which are bigger than we are,
and we try to be strong on our own.

Our lives are filled with stress,
We borrow today's grace
to fight tomorrow's battles.

we let go
and we remember that God is holding us up.
He is in control.
We do not fight the battles alone.
We are held up by that which we cannot see,
but which we know by faith is unmovable.
He will not let us go.

When we let go of our doubt
we can begin to find joy.
We dance with God.
We play.
We laugh with our Father.
We let go of the worry
and we grasp the Lord.
When we do that,
we are free.
We swing.

Image: sculture of children swinging at Cabell Huntington Hospital


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Alleluia? Halleluia?

This piece of art glass is hanging in my office; it was a gift from the retiring president and his wife. I think it's really pretty hanging there, and I thought I could get a picture of it, so I did.

It wasn't until then that I realized the word used on the glass is "Alleluia" -- not "Hallelujah." According to Yahoo! there's really no difference, except that the Germans translated the word from the Hebrew slightly differently.

But thinking about that -- my own blindness in really seeing what is in front of me -- I am reminded that the biggest part of communication is listening.

Do we listen? Do we concentrate enough on what is in front of us to really be the joyful recipient of what is being communicated to us? Can we be good communicators if we are not good listeners? I am wondering today if our assumptions sometimes speak louder than what is truly being told to us.

Alleluia. Praise to God.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I was walking out to the car this evening on a route that I have taken often over the past few days. I noticed a sign on the wall which dedicated the room right next to it to the memory of a minister in town. The sign listed all of those who had donated funds to create the chapel -- including my own church.

So I went in. It is a very modern chapel, and it doesn't "belong" to any particular faith -- it is a very ecumenical room. I had a seat in on of the chairs, closed my eyes, and just absorbed.

God was in the room. I had tried to find him in the Sanctuary yesterday evening after a meeting, but the distractions were too many (It can be a very creepy sounding church when it sets its mind to it.). Tonight, though, there weren't distractions. There was just peace and quiet. Calmness.

God is an amazing God. He pulled me into a room that I had passed many times, and never noticed. I didn't even know that there was a chapel in that hallway. It's a beautiful room, but it's not "my kind" of chapel -- I love the dark, quiet feel of our sanctuary -- not the modern feel of this room. He knew what I needed; he knew that I wasn't doing a very good job of looking for it, so he put it in my path to trip over.

I don't know how long I sat there, but at least 15 minutes or so. When I left, the hallway was quiet. There was no one around. No sounds, no distractions. As I walked down the hallway, I was reminded that God and his peace walk with me.

Thanks be to God. Amen.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sign of the Times?

No time to post yesterday, so you get a post-dated picture.

This sign just struck me as funny. Are they hiring liquor?


Monday, August 11, 2008

Friday Five -- Hot Summer

The Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals. Yes, I know it's Monday, but I just read it tonight....

The five questions are called "The God Days of Summer."

1. What is your sweetest summer memory from childhood? Did it involve watermelon or hand cranked ice cream? Or perhaps a teen summer romance. Which stands out for you? I don't remember liking watermelon until I was an adult (although Mom says I used to just dig into it when it was in the fridge, eating handfuls.). We never hand-cranked ice cream, and I don't remember a teen romance. So those are out. I remember going to Jekyll Island, Georgia in 1972. It's a beautiful beach, with old oak trees and dripping moss. I remember Mike, a boy my age, and having a crush. I remember playing on the beach. Innocence.

2. Describe your all time favorite piece of summer clothing. The one thing you could put on in the summer that would seem to insure a cooler, more excellent day. I don't know. There is something about white shirts in the summer that is cool and refreshing. Skirts with no hose. Shoes with no socks (sandals, I mean).

3. What summer food fills your mouth with delight and whose flavor stays happily with you long after eaten? Chocolate covered strawberries. Ice cream eaten at Baskin Robbins, maybe outside. Beach food. The perfect hushpuppies at Coleman's in Calabash. Dinner on the deck at Damon's in Myrtle Beach.

4. Tell us about the summer vacation or holiday that holds your dearest memory. Honeymoon at Seabrook Island. Walking on the beach the year before we had our first son.

5. Have you had any experience(s) this summer that has drawn you closer to God or perhaps shown you His wonder in a new way? I've started working for the church (in a broad sense) doing work which I never would have thought I would be doing. There is joy and delight in doing it, in learning new things, and in doing something I feel called to do, that I never would have imagined doing.

Bonus question: When it is really hot, humid and uncomfortable, what do you do to refresh and renew body and spirit? I am renewed and refreshed in time spent with friends. Laughing, having fun, enjoying time with my husband and our dear friends is joy.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Random Acts

When I was in college, I was in a sorority. I remember a fraternity chapter advisor saying that he didn't like posters or sign boards advertising for his Fraternity. His reasoning was that members would spend time working on these painted signs -- working hard and spending a whole lot of time -- to have a painted sign when they were done. They would have this self-satisfied attitude -- "I've done lots of work" -- and would then do nothing else in the "rush" (membership drive) effort. This advisor believed (probably correctly) that members were recruited most effectively through one on one contact with fraternity members. The "poster painters" would not put the effort into one on one contact with rushees, because they had worked so hard on the signs.

We had a Sunday school lesson today about Random Acts of Kindness. Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for random acts of kindness. In fact, I love to do them or to be the recipient of them. They're great.

Do we, however, get a self-satisfied attitude once we do these small things -- like raking leaves, vacuuming the sanctuary, sending someone a card -- that prevents us from doing larger, more involved tasks. Please don't get me wrong -- all of these random acts of kindness are great. They can show God to someone in a way that nothing else can.

But, if we are called by God to do something long-term, something which requires a bigger commitment, do we turn down the opportunity because we feel that we've already done our share?

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Saturday, August 09, 2008


Steve met Danny many years ago. When Steve first started working for the lighting company, Danny was tasked with buying the line at his own company, so the two of them started working together. Danny died a few weeks ago.

Steve wrote the following. Last night he handed it to me to read. (Posted with permission from Steve, a frequent guest Sandblogger.)

Today I sat and watched, helplessly, a 14 year old say goodbye to her father, a wife of 24 years say goodbye to her husband, and a crowd, filled to overflowing in the chapel of a funeral home, say goodbye to a friend. No matter what kind of life was lived or how many birthdays celebrated, we are NEVER READY to let go. My grandmother passed away in her 90's and despite "comforting" words like, "She lived a good life" and "She went peacefully," believe me -- we were NOT READY to let her go. Danny was a scant 53 years old and none of us had any idea how to say goodbye. As I looked around the room at the spread of photos showing Danny as a young employee, a young husband, a young father, it occurred to me that perhaps our lives are not measured in years but in moments. The moment you pass from school age into 'adulthood,' the moment your one and only says "yes," the moment you both say "I do," the moment your baby says "Dada," the moment you spend with friends laughing so hard you can't breathe, the moment you are introduced to a room full of people as "my best friend," the moment you watch a sunset at the beach, the moment you see your hometown from the air, the moment... the moment... the moment. It filled my eyes with tears and my throat with a lump when I realized that I would never again have the moment of peering around the edge of Danny's desk and hearing, "Hey, Steve-O." Danny always had a smile -- sometimes a beef to go along with it, but ALWAYS a smile. He will be missed, and every time we think of him will be a moment to smile.


Friday, August 08, 2008


Before time began to tick for us,
God thought of us.
He held his vision of who we would be
Close in his heart.
He imagined what we would become,
and he breathed life into his thoughts.
We were created in his own image,
carrying his breath.
We were created in his own image,
but each different,
a reflection of his creativity
his love of variety.
Each created in his image
A reflection.

As we live our lives
we move away.
Who do we reflect?
When people look at us,
do they see our creator,
or do they see
what is not of God?

We seem, like a mirror, to reflect
that which is closest to us.
Like a mirror, when we stand near hatred,
we hate.
When we stand near evil,
our lives become a mirror
for what we would never chose
as our reflection.
Near violence, we are violent.
Near apathy, we do not care.
Near disbelief, we chose to doubt.

Away from our God
we fail in our mission
to be a reflection.

Draw us closer, Father
Change us
Polish us
Transform us
So that when we stand here
in this place
what others see
is You.

Images: Laidley Tower, Doors at St. Marks, United Bank Building.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Transform Us

A prayer based on Matthew 14:

There are times when we are challenged to stand for what is right, to speak out against evil, even if the cost of the action is our lives, the way John stood against Herod. Transform us with your grace through battles.

There are times when we join the crowds and search for You, needing healing and wholeness, just as the crowds did when Jesus just wanted to be alone. Transform us with your grace through our weaknesses.

There are times when we are called to ministry, but we feel completely inadequate and without gifts, just as the disciples must have felt when Jesus called them to give the crowds something to eat. Transform us with your grace through our lack of faith.

There are times when we hold in our hands a single blessing, and feel such gratitude that our hearts overflow, just as Jesus must have felt as he blessed the food that had been brought to him. Transform us with your grace through our gratitude.

There are times when we see the wonders that you can do, the way Peter did when two loaves and five fish fed 5000 people. Transform us with your grace through miracles.

There are times when our cup overflows, when our lives are so full of blessings that we can’t fathom what we have done to deserve such grace, just as the disciples must have felt when they carried 12 baskets of food back to their Lord. Transform us with your grace through our realization of your abundant blessings.

There are times when all we can see is the battering of the wind and all of the world seems to be against us, the way Peter did before he saw Jesus walking on the water. Transform us with your grace through trials.

There are times when we are asked to step out of the safety of our routines and to walk into the unknown, despite our fear and our doubt, the way Peter did when he walked on the water. Transform us with your grace through uncertainty.

There are times when our spirit cries out for a time of quiet, when the stress and havoc of the day are too much, the way Jesus must have felt when he sent his disciples out in the boat without him. Transform us with your grace through prayer.

There are times when our lives are overwhelmed by grief and loss, and we just cannot understand why tragedies occur, the way Jesus must have felt when he was told of the execution of his cousin, John. Transform us with your grace through loss.

There are times when we lose our focus, and we find ourselves dropping from the thrill of success into the disappointments of failure, the way Peter did when he sank below the waves. Transform us with your grace through failure.

There are times when friends reach out and lift us to our feet, welcoming us back into the warmth and safety of their presence, the way Peter was pulled from the water back into the boat. Transform us with your grace through love.

Transform us, heavenly Father, through your grace. We reach out for you, desiring to just touch the hem of your cloak. Fill our lives with your presence and hold us in your care. You bring us everything we need, and we will never be the same. In your precious son’s name…amen.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Back in April, I posted observations about a meeting we had a church. The response to the discussion questions from some people in my group was very negative.

Later, a member of the group said to me that it was good for people to share their negative feelings. That while it might hurt at the outset, Pain was a good thing -- a growing reaction.

One of the things that bothered me about this incident was that in some ways I agree with him -- sometimes we need to tell the truth in order to facilitate change. While I do believe that, I still felt like the meeting was counterproductive to the meeting we were supposed to be having.

Steve is in a Wednesday morning prayer and study group that is reading "Everybody's Normal until you get to Know them." I've read the book before, and I went back and scanned the chapter that the group was scheduled to read. Take a look at this"
There is a very important theological distinction between being a prophet and being a jerk. What burns deeply in the heart of a true prophet is not just anger but love.

There is such a person who speaks "truth" recreationally, but does it without love.
That's what bothered me about that meeting. I felt attacked. I didn't feel as if the discussion was being put forth in love, or in a desire to change the church, but instead with anger, and with the desire to spout forth negativity without the aim of love or change. It wasn't done to create accountability, but instead to bring forth complaints.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Fill in the blanks

I found this MEME at a blog called Grace and Peace, written by a United Methodist Pastor, Rev. Sonja.

It's a fill in the blanks list:

I THINK -- too much about some things.
I KNOW--I am loved, and that is a great feeling.
I HAVE-- family and friends -- great people in my life.
I WISH-- I were at the beach!
I HATE-- pro wrestling.
I MISS-- Jim Ray
I FEAR-- that I will fail in my most important job -- raising my children.
I FEEL-- joy.
I HEAR-- Bones on TV.
I SMELL-- nothing special right now.
I CRAVE-- chocolate. Always
I SEARCH-- with google.
I WONDER-- what my kids will grow up to be.
I REGRET-- um -- nothing that I can think of. Change one thing; change everything.
I LOVE-- my husband, my children, my family and my friends. I love to love.
I ACHE-- when I get a migraine, about once a month.
I AM NOT-- athletically coordinated. Never have been; never will be.
I BELIEVE-- in God, Christ and the presence of the Holy spirit in my life.
I DANCE-- in the kitchen, with radio volume high up, when no one else is around.
I SING-- in the car, with the radio, when no none else can hear.
I CRY-- when I find that I am close to God.
I DON'T ALWAYS-- do what I want to do.
I FIGHT-- with other people in my head, but not in person.
I WRITE-- daily; as a daily discipline.
I WIN-- every once and a while, but not very often
I NEVER-- remember how to spell penicilian. penicillian. pen.... Whatever. (two of my guys are allergic to it -- Steve and G.)
I ALWAYS-- itch to take a picture when I don't have my camera.
I LISTEN-- less carefully than I should, sometimes.
I CAN USUALLY BE FOUND-- near a computer.
I AM SCARED-- of bees, wasps, hornets.
I NEED-- to feel that I am doing a good job.
I AM HAPPY ABOUT-- the camera I bought last year...the fact that I don't work with lab animals new job.
I IMAGINE-- what heaven will be like


Monday, August 04, 2008

Making a Mess

In the children's sermon yesterday, Pastor Jack was explaining to the kids about unleavened bread. He told them that as the Israelites were preparing to leave Egypt, they were instructed by God:
This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover. (Exodus 12:11)
He said that they were to eat it standing up - so that they were ready to leave; to follow God's instructions.

He then went on to say that we stand when we hear the Gospel -- out of respect, but also out of the same kind of symbolism. We stand up to signify that we are ready to leave; we are ready to follow God's instuctions.

He broke off a piece of matzo bread and gave it to each child to taste. As he was breaking the bread, he worried that it was going to make a mess on the floor. And it did.

It occurred to me, listening to him, that communion is never neat. Communion with God is always messy. We can't truly break the bread without making a mess. Communion with God is messy. It doesn't go as expected; it isn't clean and easy. Life with God is messy -- thank God for it.

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Something to Say

Listen up, I got a question here
Would anybody miss you if you disappeared?
Well, your life is the song that you sing
And the whole wide world is listening

If my life is the song that I sing,
then what notes are heard
as I live my life?
What song is heard
when I dance through life
with myself as the center of the tango?
What song is heard
when I value things more than people?
What is the witness of my life
the only song I sing
is one of selfishness?
What is the volume of my song
when it is only my lies that are heard?

Well, the answer to the question is
You were created, your life is a gift and
The lights are shining on you today,
'cause You got something to say...

If the light is shining on us
what do others see when they look at us?
Do they see our violence?
Do they hear our gossiping?
What song do we sing
when God is not
our top priority?
What tune is heard
when the world around us is the choir director?

Listen up, I got a question here
Would anybody miss you if you disappeared?
Well, your life is the song that you sing
And the whole wide world is listening

If our live something to say,
what is being said my the way we live?
Do our lives witness to our faith?
Do our actions harmonize with the sounds of our creeds?
Do we live in a way that let's the light of God shine
so that the song we sing is alive?
Or do other people just hear crickets
when they listen?

Words in italics are the chorus of the Matthew West song, something to say. The image is of the stained glass in Bridgeport UMC.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Attitude adjustment

I was at a meeting of women about a year ago. A female pastor was giving a talk, and she mentioned an experience that she had had preaching. After the talk was over, one of the women at my table said, "She said she was a minister. Does she preach? I've never heard of such a thing."

I guess my table-mate doesn't get out much, but even so, I was surprised by her comment.

This week, someone said to me, "It's surprising that they hired a woman for that job." MY job. The situation didn't allow me to laugh at the time, although I did later.

Ken Ramsey told a story about a time that he was preaching at a revival in southern WV. He met a man who had become a faithful attender at the church where they were. The following conversation occurred (as near as I can reconstruct it):
Ken: So you must like the preaching here.
Man: Don't believe in women preachers.
Ken: What?
Man: I don't believe in women preachers. But she's here, and she's preaching, and it's good, so I've been studying on it.
Ken: And?
Man: I still don't believe in women preachers. But I've decided that God does, so I'm working on adjusting my attitude.

In all things in life, when we decide that our attitude and God's attitude don't align, or we willing to adjust our own attitude to bring it in line with God's? How stubborn are we? How stubborn am I?

Just in case you missed it, the United Methodist church in Africa has just elected its first female bishop, Rev. Joaquina Nhanala of Mozambique. How's that for an attitude adjustment to be celebrated?

Image: Labyrinth at St. Mark's UMC

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Hear my prayer, O Lord

Hear me, O Lord
Hear my prayer.
Touch my mouth with your grace
Touch my heart with your grace
so that my lips are free of deceit.
Hear my prayer, O Lord.

I pray for absolution.
I pray for justification.
I pray that in your eyes I might be blameless.
Forgive me, O Lord.
Leave me sinless.

Listen to my heart,
Come in the darkness
Visit me by night
In me you will find sin.
In me you will find selfishness and pride.
If you listen to me,
You may hear my lies.
Listen to my heart, anyway, O Lord,
And clean me of my sin.

The world around me is filled with hatred.
Sometimes I fear it seeps into my heart.
Free me of violence.
Help me to avoid the ways of the world.

I try to walk your path, O Lord.
I'm attempting to follow your way.
I fear my feet may slip,
so hold my hand,
guide my step,
light the path for me.

I know that when I call upon you,
You will answer me.
You are faithful and loving.
Turn this way,
Listen to my prayers, O Lord
Hear my words.

Cover me with your grace.
Hold me in your love
You are my savior.
You are our savior.
You rescue us when we are falling
And you keep us safe.

In gratitude, I send you my prayer
For you love is wonderful,
Your grace is complete.
Turn your ear this way, O Lord
And hear my prayer.

A Confessional prayer based on Psalm 17:1-7.
Image: Sky on the way to work this morning.

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