Lent 41: give thanks

27 03 2013

There’s surely an easier way to do this word cloud thing than this.. but this is what I did for Monday’s photo. I made a word cloud of Psalm 118:1. On this website.  I saved the wordcloud. Then took a screenshot of it. Then uploaded. Lent 41: give thanks

I’m giving thanks to the Lord for technology. Tonight, at least. Somedays it’s not so easy to give thanks to the Lord for technology. Or many things for that matter.

But, the Lord is still good. And his love still endures forever.

And so, we give thanks. For technology… and many many many many many more things, people, situations, etc.

Lent 38: all flocks and herds

27 03 2013

Psalm 8. A fairly well Psalm, I think. Lent 38: all flocks and herds

As I was walking in our yard last week, and photographed the miniature horses through the fence, I thought about Psalm 8. Particularly verses 6 & 7.

Lent 28: hiding place

12 03 2013

Kajsa loves to hide. And maybe even more than hiding, she loves the creation of hiding spots. Sometime in the past two days, she developed this new hiding spot by the coffee table. I think she calls it my secret spot.  She hides back there and does her “work”: writing, reading, drawing and talking to her stuffed animals. Lent 28: hiding place

Today’s Scripture reading from the Lenten bulletin insert for this week, is Psalm 32. One of my favorite verses is verse 7: You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I have often felt like hiding. Hiding from the many icks of life–painful and difficult detours. Sorrow, illness, death, tragedies, brokenness, loss, poor decisions, prodigal behavior, injustices, trauma, disappointing news…. lots of tears, lots of questions, not many good answers.. The icks of life that create pain.

But hiding places don’t remove pain. Sometimes we need a break, a reprieve from the detours… that’s different. And more often, what we do need is to rest and trust–in God. That kind of hiding, that doesn’t take us away from the pain as much as it does help us through it. That kind of hiding place helps us remember that even in the midst of all the pain, God is still present. God is still loving. And God is still faithful. This much I know.

Good Samaritan preaching…

5 07 2010

I’m preaching this Sunday, and the text is Luke 10:25-37… or, as many of us know it, “The Parable of the Good Samaritan”. As I’m thinking about the text, the message–or many messages–and the potential directions for preaching, I came across this interesting piece. Apparently it’s by a Barbara Johnson, though in my initial research I couldn’t figure out who this Barbara Johnson is… but apparently it was printed in “Ecunet, Homiletics”.. not sure if that means Homiletics magazine, or what.. but, here it is.. clever. Good. Interesting. If any of you have seen this, and know who Barbara Johnson is, feel free to let me know.

A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out.

A subjective person came along and said, “I feel for you down there.”

An objective person came along and said, “It’s logical that someone would fall down there.”

A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into a pit.”

A mathematician calculated how he fell into the pit.

A news reporter wanted an exclusive story on his pit.

A fundamentalist said, “You deserve your pit.”

An IRS man asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.

A self-pitying person said, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.”

A charismatic said, “Just confess that you’re not in a pit.”

An optimist said, “Things could be worse.”

A pessimist said, “Things will get worse.”

Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit!

And then I found this great image of artwork, called “Portrait of You as the Good Samaritan”. You may need to scroll to the right to get the full image. It’s also good, interesting, and makes me think.


10 03 2010

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32) is the Gospel text for this Sunday. It’s a gut-wrenching text, I think… and sometimes that is because of the amount of grace, love, forgiveness and generosity shown in the text. And sometimes it is because of thepain divluged by the older son.

Tues., March 9th

Today I was driving home from Dublin, PA (Department of Transportation, getting my driver’s license)–a pretty drive. I was enjoying the scenery, and before long this tractor pulled out in front of me. And I got to thinking about the Prodigal Son, Sunday’s Gospel text. (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32) When you drive behind a tractor pulling a cart of some sort of fertilizer or dirt or something, you can’t help but think a little bit. And I thought about where the prodigal was, in-between squandering his inheritance and being welcomed home. He was hanging out with the pigs–feeding them, but thinking about eating their food, too. He probably never imagined that one day he would be there for a season. And he probably had no clue what the future held. Only that he had made some mistakes, and he had to try and do something.

What are the “in-betweens” in our lives? Where are those areas when we recognize that we need to acknowledge some realities, seek restoration, and move forward…. ?

How often?

23 02 2010

In Luke 13:34, Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

How often have I wanted to:

..be gathered safely under God’s wings?

..let God brood over me and those I love?

..feel protected, and completely trust God’s provision?

..be willing to let God gather me?

..wanted to be protected, yet also want to do it myself? Or partly myself?

..have God still gather me, whether or not I’m willing, and whether or not I recognize my willingness or lack thereof?

Tuesday, Feb 23rd

In Luke 13:34, Jesus says to Jerusalem, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

I would hope that my willingness to let God be Mother Hen is greater than that of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day. I would hope. But honestly, there is reality. There is the fact that I am human, and though I am not two-and-a-half like my daughter is, I waffle.. one day I want God’s protection, the next I want to protect myself. Or maybe one minute, and the next minute. And then I waffle back and want God to step in again–but in my timing, of course.

Doesn’t sound like I’m always that willing, does it?

Maybe it’s time do some more trusting of the Mother Hen wings that desire to gather and brood… and let God do it.

count the stars

23 02 2010

One of the Scripture passages for this coming Sunday is Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. In it, God’s word came to Abraham (Abram) in a vision, and told him not to fear, because God was his shield..

Monday, Feb. 22nd

Abraham questioned God… God seemed to say that Abraham would have an heir, which Abraham found hard to believe, since he and Sarah seemed to be infertile. Then God took Abraham outside and told him, “‘Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!'”(from The Message, Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of The Bible).

Of course I struggle with this passage, because not everyone’s dreams of having children–biological or adopted–come true. Not everyone’s hopes and hearts’ desires come true. And not all of us have the faith Abraham often showed. Often, and in some pretty serious situations.

Count the stars… count them? I can’t even create a nice-looking star from Tinker Toys… thus the mess, in this photo. The mess of trying to create a star. And, of course, I can’t count the stars–neither could Abraham. Yet Abraham trusted, believed, hoped.

How do I believe in the God of the stars-I-can’t-count? How do I place my hope in this same God, even when my dreams, my hearts’ desires, those of my friends and family aren’t fulfilled? I give thanks for the blessings I do have. Like Kajsa… obviously an incredible answer to prayer, and incredible blessing… despite the heartache that preceded our meeting her. I give thanks for the people in my life who are like stars in a dark sky at various times. And I keep acknowledging that I can neither count the stars, nor create the stars… that’s part of God’s job description.

But I can appreciate them. And give thanks for them.

Give it up for Lent

5 02 2008

I don’t often give something up for Lent. Sometimes. But usually I take something on–more prayer, Bible reading, exercise… last year I did the photo a day exercise. This year I’m doing the photo a day exercise again, along with other friends. But I’m also considering some other options, to help me focus more on God, and less on problems.

So, as a fun distraction from thinking about tomorrow’s impending exercise, I thought I’d look up what other people are giving up or taking on for Lent. And here are some of the things I found online:

What some people are taking on: go to church every Sunday, saying the rosary every night, detaching from “distractions”, pay the 25 cent bridge toll for the person in line behind me, stay calm & freak out less, spend an extra half hour each day in prayer, head back to church, smile at a stranger everyday, and work out.

What some people are giving up: DISH TV, ice-cream, sarcasm, buttered popcorn & lemonade, cursing, being lazy, Facebook or MySpace, hope, beer, spending money on anything “luxurious”, sweets, soft drinks, coffee, hopefully 10 pounds, TV watching, cigarettes, butter, Facebook & political news, pretzels potatoes & pasta, writing about politics, screens (TV screens, computer screens phone screens, etc…) and sugar in coffee.

How about you? Are you giving something up? Or taking something on? Or doing anything to help you focus on God this Lent?

Bruised reed… not broken, supposedly

15 01 2008

Years ago, when Jim and I were first beginning our attempts to get pregnant, I began seeing a Spiritual Director. It was overall a powerful, healing, renewing experience. But at that first meeting with her, I was so full of hope. Things were beginning to be difficult in the church, I was struggling with fibromyalgia and fatigue and everything that accompanies FMS… but I was excited to begin trying for a baby, which would, naturally, come quickly.


At that same meeting, my then-Spiritual Director told me God had given her a verse for me: Isaiah 42:3. “A bruised reed he will not break…” I liked that. I liked the verse, I liked the hope it represented at that time, I liked the fact that my SD had felt God had given her that verse for me. That it represented God’s activity and presence in my life, and I should hold on to that as a promise.

I’m thinking there must be another verse for me at this point. Because every time I hear that verse, I flinch. I am so bruised it’s not funny. I have always bruised easily–physically and emotionally. Now spiritually as well. But that’s ok. That’s life. However… now, 6 years after that verse first came to my attention as one for me, that verse only serves to represent how wrong I was to hope.

I know, I know… I have many things to give thanks for, many relationships that sustain and renew me, many situations for which I am eternally grateful. I’m not so self-centered (at least I don’t think so) as to think that just because God hasn’t given me all the desires of my heart, that God is not present. Nor do I think-now-that because my SD said this verse was for me, that God was promising to never let me be broken. But I kind of thought that at the time. Naive? Yes. Too optimistic? Probably. Still, it’s a bit ridiculous…

So maybe I’m not as broken as I think I am, and maybe I’m just extremely bruised, bent, bumped, bewildered, battered, bedraggled, betrayed, b-b-b- yep, I still think the word is broken.

This all came up for me because last week’s bulletin cover at our church featured this verse, Isaiah 42:3. And I simply wanted to cry. I wanted to–and still want to–cry for the brokenness that has happened. The broken friends, who are tired of being bruised and beaten by life… for the broken systems that contribute to our brokenness. (and sometimes cause it). For the brokenness that is all around.

I might be going to hell…

14 12 2007

if the phrase, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is true. Thankfully, though it may be partially true, I realize there’s more to it than that. But, just for a split second today, I realized that my “good intentions” list has been growing and growing… and my actual productivity level has not been growing in proportion. So, here are some of the many things I fully intended to do this week or last week or last month or even today:

send a Thanksgiving letter

write a Thanksgiving letter

catch up on work I’m behind on (church work)

reply to all those emails that came in that I’ve forgotten about, yet need a response

send a Christmas letter

write a Christmas letter

send Christmas gifts to friends and family

buy Christmas gifts for friends and family

post today’s Advent photo before noon

take today’s Advent photo before noon

respond to hard words rather than react

go to bed earlier than 12:30 am

walk the dogs today

forgive someone hard to forgive

ask for forgiveness

write a letter of appreciation for someone who is leaving his position

clean the house

move the home office downstairs

organize my winter clothes

start our child’s nursery

call friends and family

start sermon early

finish my list of “necessary phone calls” yesterday

Advent devotions today

call youth to see how they’re doing

read a book

read several books

play in the snow with the dogs

blog several times in the past week

read the newspaper

play the geography games online that help me learn world geography

check our adoption paperwork to see if it’s all good (might need to be fingerprinted again… joy)

call my Mom

spend less time on the computer


do my laundry

clean my church office

finish my Guatemala ’06 scrapbook

and many many more things….

ah, well… such is life. Good intentions are great, but now I need to work on some of these items. Thank goodness–no, thank God–for grace.