Monday, May 31, 2010


In Disciple last night, we talked about Revelation.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:22-25)
This picture was taken standing on our balcony of our ship -- at 9:53 PM. PM -- as in night time. On the same day, the sun came up at 4:15AM. Night-time was very short.

What would it mean for there to be no night?
  • For me, problems are bigger at night. I'll wake up and worry when it's dark. Once morning comes, the problem seems much more managable. Worries are always smaller in the daylight.
  • If I'm up at night, I'm usually by myself. Night can be a lonely time. (I don't mind the quiet at night; I can see, thought, how it could be lonely.
  • Night -- darkness -- can be frightening. If I'm home and Steve is on the road, I usually keep the television on during the night. The sound covers all the strange, frightening noises that I want to ignore (and don't hear if he is here).
  • We might not be able to see at night. We can lose our way, not know our direction.
God's presence doesn't mean that it is daylight. He is the light.

Image: Taken from the back of the ship (our stateroom was at the back) at 9:53AM on Wednesday. We had left Skagway and were on our way to Glacier Bay.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Life in Christ

We flew home yesterday and today from Anchorage. As we flew in to land at Seattle, an analogy to flying came to mind.

It was about 9:00pm, Seattle time. Thirty eight thousand feet in the sky, the sun was just setting, and the light was reflected on the clouds. Beautiful.

Flying is something I can't do on my own. I can't flap my arms and take off into the sky. It requires the pilot, the plane and the air for lift. I have to give up control and just ride.

We dropped into the clouds as we started our approach into Seattle. The white cloud layer surrounded the airplane -- I couldn't see anything. I had no sense of distance, direction or obstacle. I just trusted the pilot, that he knew where he was going; the plane, that it would hold together; and the wind, that it wouldn't let us fall.

We came out of the upper layer of clouds, and I found that we were between cloud layers. I couldn't have predicted the wonder of being sandwiched between the upper white layer and the lower fluffy clouds. I still couldn't see the ground, but this place was great. I could have stayed here a while, just enjoying the view, but I wasn't in control of the situation.

We continued to drop in altitude through another layer of clouds. Finally, Seattle came into view. It was the best yet -- Seattle at night, perfectly clear, every building lighted for night. The Space Needle, the Downtown, the water -- it was unbelievable.

Our life in faith requires us to acknowledge the control of God. We rely on him, his son and his spirit to enable us to do what we could never do alone. When we do, we may not be able to see where we are going; we just have to trust. We come to a place of beauty and abundant life, lighted by God's grace.

Image: The mountains outside of Anchorage from the air as we flew over them. If you look closely, you might be able to see a glacier.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Leaves and a Rainbow


Friday, May 28, 2010




Alaska is where
The weather might be hot one moment and cold the next.
Layers are important.
Skies have been blue, ocean has been jade.
Whales swim, catching dinner, while blowing water into the air,
A signal of their presence, before diving down for more buffet,
Tail flashing.
The sun rises at 4:15am , too early for humans
And sets at 9:55; daylight at very strange hours.
There is barely a night.

Alaska is where
Glaciers calve, and everyone yells “Oh!”
I think our joy in the sight is a combination of wonder
At the falling of ice from such a height,
And the relief of watching a wall of ice do nothing for 20 minutes.
Seals “drop” pups
(ask the seal – I bet she would be offended by the concept of dropping).
Mother and Father Eagle both incubate the eggs in the nest
And provide for dinner.
Ice flows
In chunks toward the ocean
And down a mountain, imperceptibly creeping toward the water,
Or up a mountain in retreat.

Alaska is where
Mining towns look like West Virginia
With clapboard homes and small town histories,
Rolling hills,
Evergreen instead of maple,
But still a blanket of solid green.
Whitewater rushes in a river,
And creeks are everywhere.
Robins search for worms.
The world is different than home.
There are no snakes, no poison ivy or oak,
Mountains, jagged and snow covered, stab into the sky.
Bald eagles fly instead of cardinals.
Arctic terns, caring for young, dance around a glacier,
Before flying around the world to the South Pole.
You can only reach the capital city by boat, plane or conception.

Alaska is where
The population of a town swells from 1000
To 11,000, when four cruise ships dock.
Tourism has changed part of the landscape,
Bringing jewelry stores.
With diamonds more numerous than the natives.
And tanzanite, gold nuggets and fake totem poles.
Shore excursions promise salmon bakes, lumberjack shows and whale sightings.
A train was built 100 years ago to take gold hunters
Into the Yukon,
Past Dead Horse Gulch,
Echoing with the sound of 3000 pack animals’ cry.
The train hangs on the mountain side,
Rumbles across gorges on wooden bridges,
Climbing a mountain to White Pass,
On a narrow gauge track.
It once carried supplies for the construction of a road
In World War II,
Protecting the state from Japanese bombs,
But now it carries tourists to see
Breathtaking views.
Everything changes with time.

Image: Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Park Bench


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fruit in the Park


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Prom Rose


Monday, May 24, 2010

Duck Duck No Goose


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Prom 2010


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dogwood -- not quite fruit yet



Trying out Blogpress from the iPhone. We're sitting in the Denver Airport, waiting for the flight to Vancouver. We literally ran (well, OK, jogged) through Dulles to not miss our flight. I had real doubts that we would make it, and I am an optimistic person! Glad to have a longer layover here in Denver. Glad to have a break to stand up walk around.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pentecost Altar

I decorated the altar for Pentecost yesterday evening. Early, you say? Yes, it is. We're leaving soon for a cruise to Alaska.

I haven't found someone to Guest SandBlog, and I don't know about internet access in Alaska. I've arranged a photo to appear each day -- my practice shots with the SLR camera after reading and studying more about photography. Hopefully, it will pay off!

Enjoy the week. "See" you soon.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010


Galatians 5:1-6:10

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

We took a look at this passage in Disciple class, asking the questions -- What does this passage tell us about God, about humans and about the relationship between God and humans?

About God:
He saves us by faith, working through love (isn't that a great phrase -- faith working through love)
Calls people to freedom
Calls us to bear each others' burdens
Calls us to eternal life

About people:
Likely to be consumed by one another when we bite at each other -- we can be destructive
We cannot reach the "fruits" without God.
Prone to self-deception (Not me; maybe you, but not me!)
We reap what we sow.
Cannot be self-indulgent and live by the spirit at the same time.

About the Relationship between God and people:
We are cut off from God if we try to justify ourselves by works or law.
When we are led by the spirit, we are not subject to the law.
Relationship yields fruits of the spirit -- doing or being good is a gift of grace.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, what's going on?

Today is post #1,750. I distinctly remember Post #300, because it felt like such a mile-stone. I didn't even write it! There are now over five times that many posts, and it's been over three years since the date of Post #300. Since I started keeping track, there have been almost 50,000 hits on the blog. It's all numbers, and really probably meaningless, but I still find it interesting.

I read a blog post today by a minister who lives on the Gulf Coast. She asked the question, "So, what's going on?" Then she made a list. Thanks to St. Casserole for the idea.

So, what's going on?

Preparing for Annual Conference
Getting ready to leave for a Cruise to Alaska
End of school is soon
About to mail an Emmaus newsletter (once the tape, stamps and labels are done)
Washing clothes
Reading a JD Robb book
Listening to the dog snore
Praying for Linda and Theo
On vacation next week -- getting ready this week
Finishing a Commission Possible II brochure
Trying to get ahead with Disciple reading
Missing Steve, who is going to Lewisburg tonight
Celebrating the accomplishments of G and J
Ready for it to stop raining

as well as

Grateful for my family
Celebrating my friends
Enjoying my work
Learning to take better pictures
Knitting a shawl


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Open Doors. As United Methodists, we say we have them.
My son's bedroom door is having a problem. It sticks. It's very difficult to completely close. It is, in effect, a none-functioning door. Steve finally gave in to the frustration and attacked it with a screwdriver.

Nevertheless, we ignored the problem for a while. We would look at it, try to shut it, talk about it, but we really didn't do anything to fix it.

Do we do that in church? Do we recognize a problem and then choose to ignore it? Do we wonder why the problem exists, but not move beyond the wondering? Do we talk alot about the problem, knowing that we need to fix it, planning ways to overcome it, but never taking any action?

Are our doors open? Really? Or do we have broken doors that we haven't taken any action to fix?

Image: Dogwood just moving from fallen flower to soon-to-be fruit.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Do we look or see?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been reading about one of our cameras, and learning some basics about photography. The chapter I just finished was about "Finding and Composing a Photo." I expected the beginning of the chapter to be about framing an image, or focusing correctly, or something else technical.

Instead, the author talking about learning to see again. His theory is that we fail to find really good pictures because we don't know how to look for them. He says the older we are, the more we know about our environment, so the more our brains will edit out of the picture in our minds. For example, when you are looking for your keys, you will miss them when they are sitting on your desk, because your brain knows what is on your desk, and it edits down the contents to small amounts of information. We miss them, because we know what should be there. I imagine we've all done that with proof-reading. We know what the text should, so that's what we read.

I have a feeling it is the same with God. We know what we should see in the world, so when we look, that is what we see. We fail to see God, because we don't expect him. We have to retrain our eyes; retrain our minds, to see the presence of God.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pulling and Stretching

When we go to the beach, we sometimes end up in a shop that has a machine that pulls taffy. Have you ever watched a machine pull taffy? It seems like it ought to reach a point where either the turning arms of the machine hit each other or the taffy would have been pulled so much as to break. But neither one of those things happen.

Why do you have to pull taffy? According to the Internet, pulling taffy incorporates air into the candy, and makes it lighter and chewier. In order for taffy to become what it is destined to be, you have to stretch and pull it.

Jeremiah preached today, and he said something that surprised me. He said that adding people to the body of Christ requires patience. Wait; that's not the surprising part. I imagined that I would have to be patient with other people, but he went on to explain that it requires patience with ourselves. We have to be patient as God transforms us, so that we desire for God to transform us. Then, we have to be patient as God pulls and stretches us, giving us the skills and gifts necessary to demonstrate an inviting attitude.

We feel uncomfortable inviting other people to church; uncomfortable with showing hospitality to people we don't know. So we give up -- evangelism is just not my gift.

But God is not finished with me yet. He's not finished with any of us yet. The taffy has to be pulled -- longer than we want to pull it. It requires patience for God to turn us into the children of God we have the potential to become. And yet he uses us anyway.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Image from Park


Friday, May 14, 2010


The RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five today is about geneology:

  1. Do you have any interest in genealogy? I like history, and I enjoy knowing about my own history. I don't really have any urging to do the research it requires, though.
  2. Which countries did your ancestors come from? I know my maternal grandmother had an ancestor from Ireland, but the other ones I know were born here. Prior to that, I don't know.
  3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know? The man from Ireland's name was Fitzpatrick. His wife's name was Mary, and she was a Cherokee Indian. He was a fur trapper. On my maternal grandfather's side, there was always a rumor that John Hancock was a relative.
  4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group? Seems like I remember hearing about a Civil War relative who fought for the North, deserted, and then fought for the South, and then deserted.
  5. What would you want your descendants to remember about you? I hope they think I was a good human being, a child of God, a great-grandma, loving...


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Believe it

I heard a story this week of a woman who is very much afraid that she will go to hell when she dies. She worries about it daily; prays about it daily.

At the same time I heard the story, I was reading Romans and Galatians. If Paul believed anything, if he wanted us to understand anything, it seems to me that he would want us to know that we are justified by faith. Our faith in God brings us into right relationship with God, and then God's grace helps us to grow toward perfection (sanctification - holiness).

It's not something we do. It's not based on how good we are. It's all God's action. All we need to do is to have faith. Believe. Trust.

You are loved by a God who would die for you. He will not leave you alone. You are his child, and he will bring you to where he is. He is the way, the truth and the life

Believe it.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Too Big

I was talking to Jack today in his office. We were standing at the window, checking out the severity of the rain that was falling before I left to walk to the car. I noticed a picture on his window sill of a large group of people, so I asked him about it. It was taken soon after his wife and he married, and it was of their children (adult and youth), spouses, significant others, grandchildren, parents, and an aunt. It was brimming over with a happy family.

He told me that the well-known professional photography studio almost refused to take the picture. The large group didn't fit their guidelines for pictures. Too many for their space. "Can't we photograph you in groups instead of all together?" They were worried that someone would look at the picture, see their little gold embossed name in the corner and think the image wasn't up to standards.

He and Nancy insisted that the picture they wanted was of the entire large group; they wouldn't settle for anything else.

How often do we let the laws get in the way of expressions of love? Does legalism outdo grace? Do we let our worry about what other people might think of us stop our ability to show love and grace? To share God's love of other people? What pictures do we miss?

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camera ready

I working on understanding how to use our camera. This means I am reading about apeture and f-stops, time value and reciprocity. It's really interesting, and I hope it makes me a better photographer.

Studying how our camera works is not going to make pictures appear before me. It won't make the sun rise or rainbows cross the sky. It won't cause flowers to bloom in a place I can easily reach them, and it won't pause my son in mid air as he flies across a hurdle. Knowledge about how a camera works won't do any of those things.

So why do I bother?

If I understand the instrument, then when the sun does rise and the rainbow appears in the sky, I will be prepared. I will have our camera at the ready, and I will be able to pull it out and capture the glory that is right in front of me.

Taking the analogy a bit further -- all of our study and bible reading and preparation won't make Christ appear in front of us. It will, however, prepare us to receive the blessings of his presence.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Why Reach Out

I was part of a meeting today where we were talking about reaching out to young people. How do we do that? What technique do we use to reach 25 year olds?

I think a better question might be WHY. Why do we think we need to focus on 18-25 year olds? there are lots of older people out there, too. Why try to reach such a difficult crowd?

The reason that bothers me the most is that we need to do this in order to increase our church membership number and lower our average age. Those aren't good enough reasons. That aren't really good reasons at all.

We need to reach out to younger people because we are called to reach out to others for Christ. we are called to reach out to others in love. We are called to bring Christ to other people, because they need to hear the story. They need to know they are loved. And we know that they are.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Grace from a distance

In my other blog-life, I blog about knitting. I don't keep up on that one anything like I blog on this site; I blog on this blog every day because my knitting blog teaches me how often I will blog if I have not discipline about it - not very often.

Because I blog about knitting, I also read knitting blogs. One of the ones I follow is called Mason Dixon Knitting. It is a blog written by two women -- one in New York and the other in Tennessee. They write the blog as if they are writing letters to each other (with a thousand or so people eavesdropping. In her recent post, Ann, who lives in Nashville, was talking about helping out a friend clean up her house after the recent flood. She learned a few things. One of them was this:

The churches are HUGE in the cleanup effort here. A shout out to First Baptist Church for the cute retired couple who came by with a wheelbarrow full of granola bars and water. The United Methodists handed out five-gallon buckets loaded with everything from face masks to clothesline and clothespins. Grace Church of the Nazarene is having the neighborhood over Saturday night for spaghetti. The parade of kind people was inspiring.
I was glad the United Methodists were out, helping with flood buckets. If you have the opportunity to help "build" flood buckets or any of the care packages that UMCOR distributes, it's a terrific way to help. You can find out how to do it here, if you don't already know.

What we do in the name of Christ echoes. We may not know where the grace will go, or what effect it will have, but God does. Give, and trust that God will use your service to reach others.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Gift Cars

Gift cars. For mom. Not a bad idea for a Mother's Day gift.


Friday, May 07, 2010


The Friday Five last week was about friendship. Friendship Friday Five.

Sorry -- it just rolls off the tongue.

Anyway, the questions:

  1. Do you remember your first best friend? What did you do together? Are they still in your life? My first best friends, for any length of time, was named Lora. We met in first grade and stayed friends through college, to the point of being roommates. We don't see each other very much any more, but she is still special to me.
  2. Did you ever have to move away or have your best friend move away from you? Lora moved away after college, taking a teaching job in Delaware. She met her future (and present) husband there, and has since lived in California and now North Carolina. I've had other friends move away, as well.
  3. Are there people in your life now that you can call 'friend'?
    Yes, there are, and they are a gift from God.
  4. What are some of your favorite things to do with your friends? We get together and talk -- eat -- drink coffee -- laugh -- pray -- share life. When we're really lucky, we go out of town together for the weekend (not very often, but the times are memorable.
  5. What is a gift friendship has given you? Grace.


Thursday, May 06, 2010


I was reading the United Methodist Reporter when I ran across this article: From Ordinary Grace to Extraordinary Grace.

He talks about ordinary means of grace -- prayer, communion, baptism, worship. And then he talks about those extraordinary, surprising means of grace. We can't predict those extraordinary, surprising ways in which God changes our lives. It is a gift, completely at the control of God.

I was interested in how the author of the article links the ordinary means of grace to those surprising moments. The ordinary means of grace are the way in which we prepare ourselves for God's surprising intervention. We are tempted to skip them, to get out of the habit, but we need to resist that pull. I like his analogy -- farmers plow and prepare a field, planting crops, in the anticipation of God's gift of sunlight, rain and growth. The farmer can't predict the latter, but he must continue to do the preparatory work. Without the discipline, the surprise might be missed.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010


During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Acts 16:9

Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23
Discernment is not easy. It is a challenge to try to determine God's will -- to determine where one is being led by God. It really is a still, small voice sometimes.

About a week ago, I was asked to pick up a volunteer position for next year. It's something I would like to do, but I told the person who asked that I needed to think about it. I wanted wait a little bit of time to see where God might be leading me in this decision. All week I haven't felt any pull to not do what I had been asked to do, but I continued to hesitate. I finally realized I was waiting until I had found the time to sit quietly with God and think about it. So I did that today, and then emailed the person who had asked, and said, "yes."

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. John 14:26-27
Perhaps the peace I felt as I thought about the decision should been a clue in the discernment. Perhaps I should have paid attention when the person asking had told me about her process of discernment, and how my name had kept coming to her mind. Perhaps I should have listened more closely to friends who were encouraging me. Perhaps all of these are sometimes the way God's still, small voice speaks to us. Perhaps there are times when the voice isn't still or small. Perhaps sometimes the voice is obvious.

Image: Mississippi River from New Orleans, new Jackson Square.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sound of his voice

As we were driving today, we listened to one of Jack's sermons. He used a Scripture that included the phrase that "my sheep know my voice."

As I thought of that, I started wondering what Jesus' voice sounded like. I've never thought of that before. I've wondered what he looked like, but I think that may be because so many people have created art to represent him. I've never thought that he had a voice.

Of course, he did. I wonder what it sounded like. I wouldn't have been able to understand what he was saying!

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Ephesians Study

In class light night, we took a look at Ephesians 1:3-2:10. We were to listen to it and then explore what it told us about God, about ourselves and about our relationship with God.

About God

Worthy to be praised
Lavish in love
Gives us hope
Rich in mercy
Immeasurably grace-full

About ourselves

In need of grace
Redeemed and sanctified by God
We were dead
Saved by grace
We are what he has made us
Created for good works

About our relationship with God

We are loved by God
God gives us grace, freely
Chased by prevenient grace
God gives us life
God justifies us --
even as we were sinful
We are part of the body of Christ

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Let is Shine

If you have some time, go read the Bishop's Blog post, This Little Light of Mine. And then come back.

Hey, thanks for coming back!

What is my light? How do I let it shine?

We talked in Disciple this evening about what we can use to witness to God in the world.

Those might be kind of the same question. We live in a world of darkness in which the light of Christ is necessary in order to chase away the darkness. We have been given light, and we are to allow it to shine -- to be a witness to and for God in the world.

Have you ever seen the the scene in one of the Harry Potter movies where everyone is on the grounds, holding up their wands, with just the tip of the wand illuminated? I can't really remember which movie it is, but the action starts with just one person holding up one tiny light. It can barely be seen. But then another person adds his light, and another, until the entire crowd is holding up a light. The evil is held at bay; night is turned into day, almost, in the power of these lights.

God's light is like that. We hold up our lights, shine them forth, and the darkness is transformed.

What is your light? How do you let it shine?

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Out the window, Down