Sunday, October 30, 2011

I give thanks

We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers. (1 Thessalonians 2.13)

I was reminded this morning just how true these words ring in my heart.  A little over a year ago I received an unexpected gift in the mail.  The envelope was of no great significance, the post mark unknown, and yet to the tips of my toes it was somehow an answer to prayer.

I sat at the end of the driveway and slowly opened the envelope.  Inside was a whole lot of paper.  I dumped it all into my lap and in the midst of it was a red photo album that included pictures of this beautiful stone church and the people that called it home. I held it with reverence and prayed that God lead me there.

 A little more than a year later I too call this place home.  Today I was reminded what a gift it has been.  Now this little stone church is by no means perfect and comes with its own warts, foibles, and problems yet today I saw again the beauty of this place.

It came in the gift of a dear friend engaging in a gravity defying move that resulted in an 87 year old body (with two knee replacements)  hanging a mirror left in a pew after the repainting.  That same body reminding me that quitting was not an option until the job was finished.

It came in the love that made sure the table was set for ALL that came to be fed.

It came in the stepping out of a comfort zone to share the story of how this place became home and of a Savior found in and through its people.

It came in the timeless prayers being said by loved ones, some with reverence, some with small voices, some with exuberance, and all with love.

It came in the willingness to move from quiet behind the scenes ministry to serving at the altar in spite of fear.

It came in a study that moved beyond history to our story and to a place of depth where it was safe to raise questions even great theologians struggle with. 

It came in the laughter and giggles of little feet running almost faster than they could carry small bodies to a room where they knew they would be met with delight and love.

It came in the last minute yes to serve.

It came in the desire to make a celebration perfect by using a long lost platter as an altar of love and remembrance.

 It came in the smiles and tears of encouragement as we remembered the practical things that are needed to make sure others know this place of haven.

It came in the big things, the small things, and likely in many unseen things. 

It came when I needed the reminder that while this is home for me now, it has been home to many in years past and will become home to many in years to come. 

It came when I needed to see again that this is not my church, but Christ’s church in which I have the honor of meeting my brothers and sisters as we pray, laugh, share, complain, play, work, and dream.  

It came because of all the saints before us and all those to come.

It came because in spite of us all, God is at work in this place.

It came because God is God and for that I give thanks.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Turning 50

I look in the mirror and see
A face that surely can’t be me
The hint of wrinkles and spots
A far cry from freckles and blotches
Hair no longer blonde, purple, or pink
The gray coming in quicker than a blink
It leads me to think
What I see can’t really be me
Inside still many hints of the lonely little girl
So afraid of the world
Dreams yet to be
Plans unfolding
As the potter continues to shape
It can’t really be me
Hugs to give
Kisses to share
Sunsets worthy of time and care
Paths to travel
Words to speak
Yet the image in the mirror
Moves in time
A little more slowly
Perhaps with more care
But certainly not too old for a dare
To climb out of the box
And dance with the little girl
Who is able to trust a little more
While the days fly
No time for worries about what passes by

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Favorite Number Challenge

This is a crazy, busy week for me but when I saw the challenge was my favorite number, I had to participate.  It is titled:Challenge #44: "String Theory v. VI: Tangled on the inside".  You can find it here: Diva challenge 44 .

Mine is called playing with Pais and was actually done a few months ago:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Being Spent

Today was an incredible gift that allowed me to remember why I do what I do.  It was a day in which I apologized for hurting someone’s feelings (never an easy thing especially when I thought my words were clear), listened to a priest not yet ordained share her heart and love of God, say timeless words that continue to take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes, prepare gifts for people I will spend time on a mountain with, learn about one I love in a new way, and be gently awoken from a nap by my beloved to a carefully prepared meal.  

This day brought the gift of sunshine, many expressions of love (including a beautiful prayer shawl), the pain of growing, and the reminder that God calls us always to have hope.  

For one day each week I have the joy of being with this part of God’s family in a beautiful and unique expression of God’s love.  None of us is perfect in this place, nor do we have it all together, and yet when we are with one another it is indeed wonderful.  Tomorrow we will continue to live outside the doors of this place we call a church after the gift of today.  I pray that this gift is present to each of us as we face what the days to come offer.   

May we be spent with joy.

This poem was one of many of today’s gifts (thanks for sharing it Suz):

You, made in God's image,
stamped with God's likeness,
you are God's valuable coin.
God intends to spend you
according to God's desire,
to spend you on life,
on what delights God.
Will you be a coin that has
rolled under the sofa,
or the one stuck to the bottom
of the piggybank, “saved”
but never spent, never redeemed,
waiting for some future that never comes?
No, beloved, be spent!
Let God give you away
and have a blast doing it,
let God hand you over
for the very thing God longs for,
as thankful for you
as a beggar is grateful
for the coin that buys him lunch.
You are God's,
so give yourself to God,
knowing God will spend you,
and trust this: that spent,
sent into the world
by the God of death and rising,
the God who loses nothing,
tomorrow you will find yourself
in God's pocket.

Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sun Flowers!

The challenge for this week is Sun Flower Fun based on a South African fund raiser for a bone marrow registry (see more here: Weekly challenge 43)

If one sunflower is pretty:

More is better!

Here is one from another challenge on a FB group site:

Thanks Diva for bringing attention to an important cause and this is where you will find a similar site in the US: National Marrow Donor Program

zero to sixty

My head can become a dangerous place to be

When it becomes so full of me

From zero to sixty

It seems to be

Something so tiny

Becomes a mountain to me

A reminder that the knee

Is where I am to be

Letting go of “it’s all about me”

To that place where it is indeed about thee

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Flying without a net

I am learning much about being a priest in this new place I call home.  My homiletics professor pushed me to move away from the manuscript saying I needed to connect more with my audience.  I was stubborn enough to believe he was wrong and have held on to my manuscript as a life raft for the last three years.

This last week saw me take three trips to Nashville, two to Murfreesboro, and one to Sewanee in three days.  Added into the mix was some difficult news, an overwhelming schedule, a body that has its own time frame, and a set of readings that were enough to have seasoned preachers want to hide in a cave.  

As I sat down to begin putting thoughts onto paper, nothing would come.  I prayed in front of my computer and kept hearing silence.  A good story came to mind, but a story by itself is not a sermon.

I continued the disciplines I use to help me craft a sermon and still nothing came.  I prayed to have something to say worth being heard as the Holy Spirit revealed what the people in this place needed to hear from me at this time.   

Last night as my body ached and my eyes drooped, it was clear I was not to put a manuscript together.  Me, the one who triple checks even the most minor of details before each service.  I was reminded of a classmate who would say, "I got nothin'."  That was where I was. Yet fear was absent.

As I walked away from the computer, I heard in that still small place, "The words will come."  As tired as I was, I let it go and laid my tired body down.

This morning as I awoke the anxiety that often comes with Sunday morning was absent.  I sat down with my Bible and a piece of paper.  An outline came as did the peace that passes understanding.

Twice I delivered a sermon today after praying, listening, and remembering the words really do not belong to me, but rather to this incredible God who calls, who blesses, who breaks, and who gives as we respond.

I guess my homiletics professor may have been right after all as the people who received today's words shared they heard just what they needed to hear, connected with the parable in a new way, shed tears needing shedding, and felt the nudge that comes with the Holy Spirit making us uncomfortable enough to get out of the pew and do something.

All this to say that professors and God are much wiser than I and yet leaves the question of what I do with this thing called a blog and for those who cannot make it to church.  I am not vain enough to think people come here because something I said was so riveting they needed to see it after hearing it once.  So pray with me as I move forward without a net.  Pray that I continue to listen to that still small voice, that I am obedient to the (huge) nudge to be brave, and that I figure out what I do with this space.  

Most importantly, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to this God to whom I bow the knee of my heart and give all that I have and all that I am to in thanksgiving for the precious gift of new life I have been given.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


(This was a tough thing to find this week and so while the word may conjure up happy things, I had to search hard to remember where to find it...yet again it was in the little things and brief moments)

As hard to find in this 'tangle as it was in my week

As I drive past another for sale sign
A business boarded shut
The fourth restaurant in the same building
I wonder where the hope is

The tears ready to spill
As images come to mind
The mother in jail after a bad choice
The father denied his child
The daughter no longer recognized
The son ostracized

As I walk to another house full of pain
A baby jay greets me from the weather vane
A child smiling through the window pane
The sunlight warming the grain

A quick glimpse of you in the bow after the rain
Remind me that you call again and again

Come to me you whisper
Let me carry the weight
You are not alone
I see the pain and weep with you
Each day is new
And I walk with you

A reminder of where I find it always