Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Change in a Sister's Heart, Part III

Yesterday, Part II

That night, while everyone slept around her, enjoying their first night of peace in months, she couldn’t find rest.   The ground was soft beneath her, the stars shown brightly above her, and fear of Esau did not shorten her breath, but God would not leave her alone.  She knew what he wanted her to do – she knew that he wanted her to bridge the gap as Esau had done, but she would not do it.  She could not do it.  Her resentment of her sister was the only dignity she had left, and she could not part from it.  SHE was the one who had been wronged.  SHE was the one who had been insulted.  SHE was the one who deserved to receive an apology.  She would NOT be the one to reach out.

And yet that was exactly what God wanted her to do.

The next morning, as the camp began to stir and preparations were made for their departure, Leah set aside her weariness, and began to pack her belongings.  She watched Judah speaking to his brothers, but ignoring Joseph, who sat alone.  She heard the echo of God’s word from long ago, “Through this child, I will bless the world with a love greater than anyone has ever seen.”

How could God bring about a love greater than anyone had ever seen through her son, when she had only taught him resentment?

Walking across the camp, she reached Joseph, picked him up and carried him to Judah.  “Find him something to eat – he’s hungry.”  Judah held the child out at arms’ length, plainly shocked by his mother’s request.  Ignoring his protests, she continued on to greet her sister.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Change in a Sister's Heart, Part II

Yesterday, Part I

Leah reached for a basket of wool, and began to work it through her hands, pulling out the leaves and dirt the sheep had left behind.  She thought of her life, and how she had desperately hoped that she would become acceptable in her husband’s eyes.  With the birth of each son, she had begged God to open Jacob’s eyes to her value as a wife.  As she plucked a seed from the soft, gray wool, she remembered holding her son Judah, wrapped in a gray blanket.  Even then, fresh from what must be the terrible experience of birth, her son had stared at her with quiet solemnity.  Watching him today, she still saw that same look on his face.  As she had gazed upon the infant, God had spoken to her.  “Look upon this child.  I know that you desire the love of your husband, but in that pain, do not forget to look at this child.  Through this child, I will bless the world with a love greater than anyone has ever seen.  I cannot make Abraham love you, but I love you – you are precious in my sight.”

She had named her son Judah, which means, “I will praise the Lord.”  Every time she looked upon him, she remembered God’s promise and reassurance.

Throughout her life, she had clutched the knowledge of God’s love close to her heart.  It had protected her from the hatred that had been growing there.  Each encounter with her sister, each evidence of Jacob’s love of Rachel, had been a new hurt, but God’s love had kept those stabbing moments from growing into something more.  She had been grateful for that, but she had kept that love to herself, like a precious gem, hoarded away.

Today she had stood with her family, afraid for their lives, and witnessed something different.  Today she had seen Esau run to greet his brother – the same brother who had deceived him, who had stolen from him, and who had left home out of fear for his life.  He had embraced Jacob, and welcomed him back.   She had been amazed, and she still couldn’t believe what she had seen.  To embrace her sister, after all that lay between them.  Impossible.  Esau must be stronger than she could ever be.

She sat and stared at her sister, the fire between them, and knew that she could never love her.

Tomorrow, Part III (Click hyperlink for final part of story)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Change in a Sister's Heart, Part I

The night air was a blessed relief from the heat of the day.  She was grateful for the sound of the nearby river and for the reassurance it gave concerning water for her children. In their long journey from Haran, the closeness of water had been something she no longer took for granted.

It had been a long, tense day; the culmination of weeks of worry.  She sat down by the fire for just a moment, allowing the stiffness in her back to dissipate after the hours of travel.  She and her children and the rest of her husband’s family would rest here for the night.   The revelations of the day had transformed their travel.  They no longer walked in fear that Esau would attack and kill them; through a miracle of grace, he had forgiven his brother and then left to return home.  She still couldn’t believe what she had witnessed with her own eyes.

All of her married life, she had known that Jacob had left his childhood home out of fear that his brother would kill him.  Her husband didn’t speak of it often, and never to her, but she had overheard the story as he told it to Rachel.  Jacob had stolen his birthright and the blessing given by their father.  She understood how Esau could hate Jacob. 

As she sat beside the fire, she watched her sister as Rachel prepared herself to greet Jacob.  The ever-present resentment rose within her.  Rachel was the one Jacob loved.  Rachel was the one he had chosen.  Leah had been forced upon him, and that fact had forever impacted their lives together.  Leah was his first wife, but even today, as they walked out to meet Esau, Rachel had been given the place of honor, last in line to approach the brother.  Rachel had been the most protected.  Rachel and her son, Joseph, had been closest to Jacob; it had always been that way.  Leah thought she should be over it by now, and in many ways she was.  She continually buried the resentment and the hurt, ignoring the looks of love and kindness bestowed upon her sister by their husband. 

She had approached today with great fear, because she understood, at least in a small way, how Esau felt.  She knew how resentment and hatred could build within a person’s heart, and she feared that would be what had happened over the years to Esau.  She was certain he would meet them with violence, finally having found an outlet for the revenge he must have greatly desired.  She, of all people, understood how the hatred could have built into a desire to kill his brother, or to at least steal from him all that he acquired while they had been apart.

Tomorrow, Part II (Click hyperink for next part of story)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 27, 2011

Viva La Difference!

I was reading Carole Knits this morning.  Don't run off; I'm not going to talk about knitting.

Carole said, " I went to a library conference a few years ago and attended a lecture by Nancy Pearl. She is a well known reader’s advisory expert and she said that people read for 4 major things: character, language, story or setting."  She explained that she reads books for the setting -- she wants to feel as if she is in the book.

What draws you to a book?  Is it setting?  Character? Language? Or story?  I'm not sure.  I think language, for me, is a gateway.  And maybe this statement isn't really about language, but more about skill, but if a book is written poorly, I won't read it.  Awkward writing, where the use of words becomes a distraction, will turn me off a book.  And I love clever writing, where the words of the characters pull you in -- either through laughter or just plain cleverness.

Story is important to me, but perhaps most important as it relates to relationships.   I want to care about the character, and I want to see how the characters care about each other. 

And I want a happy ending.  So there -- I said it.  It's fiction, and it can end well.

I feel the same way about movies, and I am convinced that even though the first (produced) Star Wars had a much smaller budget than the last three, the earlier ones did well because we cared about the characters, and they cared about each other.

I have a friend who hears only the notes (or mainly the "notes" -- meaning the sound of the music itself) when he listens to music.  I hear the lyrics.

If we all are attracted to books, movie, music by different components, and we don't have an issue with that difference, then how is it that we become so close-minded about other issues?  Don't we realize yet how differently we were created?  And how great that is?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sign Post

I found this image on my camera.  I had forgotten about it.  Can you figure out where I was when I took it?

You may need to click on it to make it bigger to read the signs.


Saturday, June 25, 2011


Flowers outside of Wesley Chapel at West Virginia Wesleyan College


Friday, June 24, 2011

Flying High

I want a levitating car so that I can travel above the traffic in Charleston.  Like this one.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Resting in Creation

I read this on RevGalBlogPals:

The verse I find most interesting immediately precedes the one I quoted above: And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that God had done.

The seventh day, the day of rest, was the day on which God finished the work of creation. You’d think it would’ve been finished on the sixth day, making it okay to take a day off. But the resting is apparently part of the creative process.
The emphasis in the above quote is mine.  Have you ever thought of that?  Have you ever experienced that?  Do you believe that resting is part of the creative process?

I have.

When I'm working on a sermon idea, sometimes the best thing to do is to leave it, and come back later.  There is sometimes creation in the rest.  When I'm creating a brochure at work, and I think I'm finished, I'll leave it.  When I come back, I can see what needs to be done in order to really be finished.  When I'm concentrating on a project at work or at home, there are times when I need to stop, to rest, to take a break.  When I get back, the work goes much more efficiently and effectively.

Rest is creative.  Giving the mind and body a break is part of our rhythm of creation -- it's how we were created.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Genesis 33

I read Genesis 33 today.  In this chapter, Jacob and Esau meet once again. 
  • In Esau's grace Jacob sees the face of God.  How often do we allow others to see God's grace in our own face?
  • Does this passage remind anyone else of the prodigal son passage in the New Testament?
  • While Jacob could only imagine a violent end to his return, Esau saw one of grace.   Esau is the one who had a right to revenge, and he is the one who offered grace.  It is the "wronged one" who imagined and created the grace-full ending. 
  • How often do we, as the one who was wronged, hang onto resentment, saying, "I'm the one who is hurt; I will NOT be the one who apologizes, or who mends the rift?"
  • Leah, as first wife, should have had the place of honor that Rachel received.  What would life h ave been like for Leah?
  • I wonder if there were ever a time when Leah and Rachel echoed the experience that Jacob and Esau shared?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Genesis 32

Today I read Genesis 32.  This chapter has two parts -- Jacob planning to meet with Esau and Jacob wrestling throughout the night.  My thoughts:
  • Jacob plans to send wave after wave of gifts to his brother in order to appease him.  Do we do that?  Do we find it to be successful?  Should it be?
  • The comments on the passage say that Jacob couldn't imagine any ending to the encounter other than a violent one.  Are we sometimes like that -- so worried and fearful that we cannot imagine any ending to an experience other than the worst possible ending?  Does that worry and fear sometimes block us from imaging that God could be involved and have other plans?
  • This might have been one of the first times I thought Jacob was giving credit to God for his success.  He is almost too desperate to plot something!
  • Later that night, Jacob sends his wives and children across the Jabbock but stays alone on the one side.  He wrestles with what is at first called a man, but later described as God.  God struggles with Jacob all night long, and in the end, there really is no winner.  What does this tell us about ourselves?  About God?  About our relationship with God?  I like this passage, because God does not give up -- he stays and struggles with Jacob, all night long.
  • In the morning, God changes Jacob's name to Israel -- "God strives."  Does that denote a change in the man himself?  Is that what the struggle was about?

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 20, 2011

All things in Three

This evening I was reading this sermon by Songbird.

How do you think of the trinity?  It's a concept that is way too complicated to really understand, I think.  Of course its purpose is too describe a God who is much too complicated to understand or even imagine.

There is an aspect of it I have never really considered before.   There are times when we need a creator -- a father -- an almighty presence.  There are times when we need a brother -- a friend -- an advocate -- a savior.  There are times when we need a presence -- a shadow -- a guide.  Whatever our need, God can meet it for he is all of these.

The trinity describes a God who can be all things - whatever we need, whenever we need it. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011


I taught Sunday School today.  The scriptural basis was Joshua 2 -- the story of Rahab and the two spies.  I like the story; it has some surprising aspects:

  • It's a story about sharing your faith.  Rahab's faith is formed by what she has heard about the actions of God.  She shares her faith with the spies.  It strengthens their confidence in what God will do.  They return to Joshua, and share their confidence in the success of God's plan.
  • It is a story about faith and redemption.  Even through God has commanded them to kill all of the Canaanites, they spare Rahab and her family.
  • It is a story about God's use of the unexpected outsiders.  Rahab is a Canannite, a harlot, and a woman, and yet she is the heroine of the story.
  • It is a story about God's love for the marginalized.  She lives on the margin of the city -- in the city wall -- as far from protection as possible (thanks to Marcia for the thought).


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Palm Trees


Friday, June 17, 2011

Our boys during our spring trip.


Thursday, June 16, 2011


How do you define salvation?  What does it mean?  If someone asked to you to explain it, what would you say?
To be absolutely truthful (although I am always truthful with you), I think people who answer the question, "Salvation is God's gift of eternal life to us" are correct but not thorough.  That answer is too easy and simple.  And when answers in Christianity are easy and simple, then I usually think that there must be more to it.

Christianity, in its best form, is not a 101 level class.  It's complicated, radical and anything but simple.

Tyrone Gordon preached on Saturday an Annual Conference.  As part of his sermon, he talked about salvation.  He said that according to Luke, salvation is more than going to heaven.  It is deliverance.  It is deliverance from whatever binds us -- spiritually, socially or physically.  It is deliverance from all kinds of evil.  Salvation is a restoration to wholeness to live as we were created to live.

I think all of that implies that salvation is not only the gift of eternal life.  It is the gift of life right now, right here.  It is a gift God gives all of us, and it is a gift we can help God give to others.  We can help to free people from whatever is binding them.  For example, when we free someone from loneliness so that they can live out their lives more fully, we are serving God by bringing about the salvation he offers.  When we feed someone, cloth someone, visit someone in the hospital, we are helping God to bring about salvation.

The result is a wholeness of life -- LIVED NOW and lived in the future through eternity.

I really like his explanation because it sounds so Wesleyan -- social justice and holiness.  They are completely intertwined.  We have to offer bread -- bread for the body and bread of faith.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Experiences

The Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals last week asked us to share five new experiences we have had -- moments of insight, wonder or discovery -- or moments we have shared with other people.

  1. I remember the first time we took our older son to the beach. He was barely one year old. He loved it, but he was a little nervous. His nerves were evident because he carried a purple and green sand shovel around with him everywhere he went on the beach.
  2. I remember the first time I saw the Pacific Ocean up close and personal. Steve and I were in San Francisco, and we drove up the coast. After visiting Point Reyes Lighthouse, we drove down to the beach. It was so different from Atlantic Ocean beaches - smaller and rockier. Just different.
  3. I remember the first time I held our older son. It was quiet an experience, and yet, while it was the first time I held him, I felt like I knew him already.
  4. Why do I remember more "firsts" with our older son than with our younger one? I remember the first time the older one used a straw to take a drink from a cup. Amazing!
  5. I remember the first time our younger son shrugged his shoulder. He was 7 weeks old and a brith injury had meant that he couldn't move his right arm. At his first occupational therapy session, he shrugged, and we were all very happy.


Why I am United Methodist

At Annual Conference, I was thinking about why I am glad I am a United Methodist.  Here's part of the list:

  • In this Church, my gifts from God are affirmed, even though I am female.  In this Church, I teach and I preach.  I sit on committees that deal with finances and personnel issues.  I am the Lay Leader of a local Church.  I am gifted for these ministries, and in this Church, my gender is not a barrier to the use of my gifts from God.
  • In this Church, everyone is welcome to the Communion table.  Everyone -- even those who are not United Methodists.  It is Christ's table, and he invites all.  None of us are worthy; all of use can come.
  • In this Church, there are no easy answers.  In this Church, we are encouraged to think for ourselves.  Thinking is not a barrier to faith.
  • In this Church, my children have learned a faith based on grace, not judgment.  In this Church, we have a faith that speaks of God walking before us, preparing the way with his gifts of grace.


Monday, June 13, 2011

What's the danger?

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  I believe it is only when we understand and adopt that mission that we will function as the church we were created to be.  What often occurs, though, is that we hope to attract members so that our local church will survive.  We need more members in order to continue to exist.

There is a huge difference between those two goals. 

We are warned (rightly) that to adopt the second purpose will result in failure.  And yet, when we hear the status of the church, we are warned that unless we evangelize, our churches will die.

It seems to me that that is a conflicting message. 

What is really the danger of a failure to fulfill our purpose as a church?  Could the real danger be that our neighbor, who we are called to love, will continue to live an untransformed life, missing out on the grace and mercy offered by Christ?  Will God's purposes be thrwarted because we fail to be a church?

Could be.  Or it could be that God will find another way.

And yet, we, if we do not reach out to others, may face another danger.  The tranformation offered by God through service to him will not be achieved for ourselves.  We are transformed through following Christ.

So, the danger we should be aware of is not the loss of our local churches.  If the church is not fulfilling its purpose, it probaby shouldn't exist anyway.  If we fail to bring others to Christ, it could be that God will find another way to accomplish his plan.  It could be that the real danger of our failure to follow God's command to become fishers of people is that we will remain as we are -- unchanged.  It coud be that rather than fighting for our local churches, we are fighting for our own transformations.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Jean asked in Sunday School today if we consider courage to be one of the first characteristics we think of when we think of what it means to be Christian. I think she was expecting a negative response. I imagine she thought the more common answers would be kindness, love, care, sympathy, helpfulness and forgiveness.

My thought was that the more radical our Christian faith is, the more courage will be necessary. I liked the quote Jean brought to us:

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. (CS Lewis)

Think about it. At its most radical point, kindness requires courage. At its most extreme, love requires courage. When the hurt is deepest, forgiveness requires courage.

I think courage is definitely a Christian virtue


Friday, June 10, 2011


I have lots to write about, but Annual Conference is always long, tiring, jam-packed and HOT. A minister stopped me today and said, "Kim, are you OK?"

Apparently, I even look tired.

I told her I had been hot for three days (and my feet hurt, but I didn't mention that), and it was draining. She agreed, and when I asked her why she wasn't wearing the sling she's supposed to be wearing (after she injured her arm in a roller-blade incident) she said, "It's too hot. I just can't wear it."

But, once I cool down and get some rest, I have lots to write about.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Random Thoughts from Annual Conference

Some random thoughts (I'm too tired to be comherent):

  1. There is a Burger King at the foot of the hill near the hotel.  The sign out front says, "Angry Whopper packs a kick" (or something like that).  There's any angry whopper?
  2. Outside an office in the chapel of the college, there is a telephone on the wall.  Above it, there is a sign that points to the phone, and says, "Phone."  Why do they need a paper sign to point out what is glaringly obvious?
  3. We had a two hour evangelism workshop today.  The presenter used Acts 1:8 as a structure for part of what he was saying  I saw wisdom in this passage that I had never seen before.  It would make a good Sunday school lesson.
  4. At this Annual Conference, I've spoken to two large groups of people without much preparation.  I could never have done that even three years ago.  God is at work.  I love my job.
  5. Go here to see a picture of Steve on his bike ride.   Also, if you look at the picture of the ministry fair, the booth on the left hand end of the row, you can see our display.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


I"m at Annual Conference.  At the Laity session this evening, the President of the United Methodist Women said that the women were going to do mission work "glocally."

Glocally.  Have you ever heard that word?  It means that one considers the global missional needs in the world and one acts on it locally.

 I like it.  Glocal.


Active Love

I preached last week about "active love."  We love God, and we translate that love into an active response.  He loves us, so he demonstrates that love through his actions.

How do I know my husband loves me?  He tells me, often, but this evening, he worked with me at church, cutting fabric into strips and stapling it to clothes line for a line of streamers for Pentecost.  We did this for a few HOURS.  He loves me -- why else would he spend time doing this?


Monday, June 06, 2011

Worth Repeating

The Friday Five at RevGalBlogPals last week was to list 5 things worth repeating (in this time of re-runs).

  1. Some movies -- there are movies I love to watch again, even though I've seen them before.  Is this odd?  I don't care.
  2. Currently, we are watching NCIS from the beginning of the series through to the end.  Worth repeating.
  3. Vacation -- going on vacation and repeating visits is good.
  4. Books -- there are particular books I love to read over and over.  Do you see a trend?  A good story is worth repeating.
  5. I love you -- always worth repeating.


Sunday, June 05, 2011


In Sunday school today, Marv listed various forms of communication on the white board. He started with party lines and snail mail and continued through cell phone, text messaging and twitter.

Isn't it amazing how technology has advanced in the last few decades? I remember all of these types of communication. Our family didn't have a party line when I was small, but I remember Mom talking about them. I remember when faxes came into existence (using that terrible thermal paper on a roll), when cell phones were actually car phone, bolted to the car, and when computers took up a room and required one to schedule time to use them compared to small, mysterious machines that sit on your lap while you type and watch TV (as I am now).

With this on rush of technological change in the last few decades and the resulting speed of communication, have we become an impatient society? Do we have any ability to invest time and wait for results?

We laugh at Abraham and Sarah as they became impatient with God's promise for a family, but they waited so LONG between God's promise and the results. Would we even come close to the kind of patience and faith they demonstrated?

Could we wait seven years while working for someone before the promised reward was delivered (as Jacob did for his wife?). What about the patience of Simeon, waiting to see the Messiah?

Has the way we live changed our ability to demonstrate faith over a long period of time?

Labels: ,

Friday, June 03, 2011

It begins

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the Team Selection Committee for the upcoming walks. I'm serving as the Lay Director for the Fall women's walk -- I'm sure, if you read this blog at all, you'll be reading about it over the next few months. Today I've been preparing a list of possible team members.

It's disconcerting and worrisome to try to think of who God is calling to be members of this team. A friend told me that I may not think it is the right team, and I may even doubt that it is, but in his experience, it will be. That is my hope.

I'm not sure I've ever done anything like this before. I've never really chosen a team for anything. I've been a part of many teams, and I've led teams, but I'm not sure I've ever chosen one. It's different, and requires a certain boldness and courage.

I pray God can use me in this position, that he will equip me, and give me the ability to discern his will and act upon it.

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Shrewd Investor

Ephesians 1:15-19: I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

One of the blessings of my life is that I am part of the ministry of a Foundation. Part of what we do is to serve as the Trustee for endowment funds and custodian for churchs' reserve funds. We often explain to people that we have a conservative investment policy with a goal of achieving a reasonable return while following socially responsible principles.

I was privileged to attend the funeral this week for Gordon Scott, a member of the Ashland Area Emmaus Community. His son said of him, "He was a shrewd investor who invested his life in the things that mattered."

What does it mean to be a shrewd investor in life? As I think about it, perhaps the same three investment goals we have at the Foundation could be applied to this question.

A conservative investment policy for our lives means that we do not lose the gifts we have been given. God calls us to invest our time wisely so that it is not wasted, to use our talents for his glory rather than allowing them to wither away from disuse, and to share our spiritual gifts so that others see God through what we do. We are called to invest what we have been given in the things that matter. What matters in your life? Is that how you invest your gifts?

Do we expect and produce a reasonable return on what we invest? Do we see the fruit of our investments? Gordon was involved in Scouting, in his church, in the Emmaus Community. He had friends and family who gathered to mourn his death. He invested his time and gifts in all of these, and all present could see that his investments were bearing fruit. The lives of youth have been changed. Others have seen God through his efforts. The faith of Christian leaders in the church has been strengthened and developed through the Walk to Emmaus program. And his voice will continue to echo through all of these ministries long after he is gone. As the Ephesians passage says, can others hear of our faith and our love of Christ as it echoes through what we do?

Do we listen for the revelation of God's wisdom? Do we invest our lives following the guidance of God? Do God's principles and priorities guide what we do?

Am I a shrewd investor? Are you? We have a glorious inheritance from our Creator; we have access to immeasurable power and an incredible hope. Do we use what God has given use wisely so that it produces fruit, and do we trust and obey our Lord? Are we shrewd investors in the things that matter?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Reminder of Grace

I read this in the comments section of Lectionary Leanings this weekend. It refers to last week's John passage:

I'll try again: Thank you for the invitation to preach something other than John who is wearing me out with all of the love. Of course, this might actually be the point. Unrelenting love.

I preached this past weekend, and I used the Gospel passage as the scriptural basis of the sermon -- entitled "If you love me..." I wonder sometimes, as the commenter did, if my sermons are too centered around grace and love -- if my themes are too trite and simple.

In the sermon for the past weekend, I talked about the Holy Spirit, and how he comes to our side in times of trouble and testing (as well as all the other times). God's gift of the spirit is an example of his active love for us.

After the sermon, a woman came up to me practically in tears. She had a speech problem, so I couldn't understand everything she was saying, but I think she was going that afternoon to visit a friend who had cancer. I think the idea that God is with her, and with her friend, no matter what, was just the reminder she needed.

So, if the reminder of grace was necessary for even just that one person, then I thank God.