Lent 25: fruitful?

10 03 2013

This photo was supposed to be of our blueberry bush. I thought of it a little late. Dusk-ish, to be exact. So as I was trying to focus on the blueberry bush branches close to my lens, I accidentally snapped this photo of the cherry tree branches instead. I don’t know if we have even tried any of these cherries. I don’t know if they’re edible or not. I’m assuming they are, but I’d best not assume until I confirm. But the funny thing is, even though I love cherries, we haven’t focused our efforts on these trees. I’m not sure why–maybe because cherries have pits? Maybe because the birds pretty much hang out in the trees from spring through late summer? Maybe because we haven’t confirmed whether or not these are edible cherries? I don’t know.  Lent 25: fruitful?

The blueberry bush, however, we’ve spent a lot of time on–especially this past summer. Trying to outsmart the squirrels and birds, Jim and Kajsa created a pretty clever net/cover. But the blueberries, too, we learned, require more work than we always have time or energy for. Still tasty, we still love them… and I’m already researching how to outsmart the critters for this summer.

Most of the time, I’m guessing, fruitfulness–bearing good fruit–requires work. Certainly in the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9) from last Sunday, the gardener would have work to do, in order to save the tree. The vineyard owner was ready to cut it down, but the gardener was more patient… or saw more potential… or was simply more gracious of a person.

Blueberry bushes and cherry trees aside, I hope to take the second/third/fourth/etc. chances that God has given to me… and produce good fruit, in my life. It might require more work than I often feel like doing–but hopefully, if it’s something I feel God calling me to do, or to join, or to reflect on… hopefully, I will be faithful, and bear good fruit.


Fisher Price Prodigals

12 03 2010

son #1: in the back of the pick up truck, face turned away…can’t believe he took this drive with his father today… he just went along because he was bored, and now he has to witness this occasion…

Fri., March 12th

son #2: a daughter, in this case… can’t believe that her father saw her from the pick up truck, and didn’t turn around and drive back to the house. Can’t believe her father is running out to greet her.Can’t believe her father hasn’t even asked her where she’s been, or where the money is.. can’t believe how much her father loves her.

dog: not in the original parable, at least not divulged, if there. But I think she belongs in the Fisher Price edition of the Prodigals.

father: jumped out of the truck to greet the daughter, after driving down the long driveway everyday for years, looking for his daughter. Can’t believe his daughter is back. Sad that his son is staying in the back of the truck.

The prodigals: prodigal #1 is the daughter, who’s been known as the prodigal… prodigal #2 is the father. The word prodigal means a reckless spendthrift, an extravagant spendthrift. The father is the true prodigal because his unexpected, counter-cultural response to his daughter’s return is prodigal behavior.

for three years

3 03 2010

Three years is a lot of time. In more ways than one. A long time to have the chance to grow, a lot of chances, and second chances…

Wed., March 3rd.

A lot of time for us to give and receive grace. we would be given a lot of grace. A lot of time. A lot of chances, and second chances… for all of us. Not just the ones we’d like to put in this category, but all of us. Three years.. is a long time, in more ways than one.

In Luke 13:1-9, Jesus talks about the parable of the fig tree. A fig tree owner was frustrated at checking back for three years, and not finding any figs. The gardener asked for another year–and this time he would fertilize the tree this time. And this time, if there were no figs, then the owner could chop it down.

Three years seems like long enough for the fig tree to waste the fig tree owner’s soil, and resources, as the owner was probably paying the gardener. I hope he was. Three years is a long time for stuff to not produce fruit. A lot of wasted resources, a lot of wasted time, a lot of waste. Seemingly. Yet a lot can happen in the growth area, too.

How often have we been given another chance? Another chance to grow, to make our lives reflect the fact that we’re actually following Christ.

How has God been growing us, lately?


19 06 2008

Overwhelmed by all the to-do lists….. all over the house.

Overwhelmed by everything on the lists.

Overwhelmed by the excitement of meeting Kajsa.

Overwhelmed by the state of the house. Pretty funny.

Overwhelmed by God’s grace, evident through my friends, family, my yahoo adoption travel groups, the dogs, strength to keep moving these days…

Overwhelmed by how hard life is, still. Even with God’s grace.

Overwhelmed with sadness, at the upcoming move of good friends.

Overwhelmed by how long this wait has been. And that many people I know are frustrated and tired and exhausted by their waits.

Overwhelmed by how much love already surrounds Kajsa, and how many people are–and have been–praying for her.

Overwhelmed by how many peanut butter M&M meals I have had in the past 2 weeks.

Overwhelmed by the fact that in less than 6 days we leave!

Overwhelmed…. and yet excited. I can hardly wait.

Grace, Take 2

12 03 2008

I miss my favorite mug… no doubt. The mug I took a photo of and titled the photo “Grace”, because I thought it had been spared in an unfortunate fall off a coffee table. Then I blogged about how it wasn’t grace after all, because the mug ended up being broken Sigh.

Well, yesterday my friend Steve surprised me by having other district clergy bring a mug to district meeting… so now I have three new mugs! And a box of kleenex for the next time–may it never happen–I break a mug. 100_0763_2-mugs.jpgNot only that, but the box of kleenex actually matches one of the mugs. Another mug has Zion Church’s phone number (which is great, because now I can call Steve and Andy anytime I want!). And the other mug has a nice photo of a church in the UP.

Thank you, Steve.. thank you, District Clergy. You gave me a glimpse of grace, humor, laughter, and some joy.

So now I’ll end with the nice platitudes that Jeremy wrote, accompanying the condolence/sympathy card (including an adaptation of Psalm 70) he made:

“Sending you love and support in this difficult time.

We pray in earnest that you have overcome the grief caused by the loss of your favorite coffee mug.

Please try to remember that it was for the best.”

Thanks, District!

I thought it was grace

11 02 2008

The other day one of my favorite mugs fell when I bumped a side table. A little coffee spilled, and I was so upset… This mug is from Saskatchewan. A friend up in Prince Albert bought for me when I was on internship there (1995-1996). I think, if I remember correctly, that a few friends were going to Saskatoon for the day, and asked if I wanted to go. Which, of course, I wanted to… but I was probably working on sermon or something like that, so couldn’t go. But when my friend returned, she had bought this mug for me. I love it. I have always loved it… sigh.

So back to the other day. The mug fell. I screamed, and was distraught. Then relieved, as I realized it wasn’t broken. So I took a picture for the “Lenten Views” gallery, and titled the picture “Grace” because the mug was still intact.

Oops. I spoke too soon. It’s cracked. I was drinking coffee out of it this morning, and coffee was slowly dripping down my hand. I immediately thought of the best case scenario:


I just spilled some coffee on the side, when pouring it from the thermos. Or I set it down in a wet spot on the counter, by the sink, when pouring coffee. But no, it’s broken..

Bummer. Maybe not “Grace” after all. Maybe just a reminder that life happens–mugs break, light-bulbs burn out (this happened a few minutes after I realized my mug was broken today), and “some days are like that, even in Australia”. If I wanted to be all theological and spiritual, I could come up with some way that God is still present in the breaking-of-my-mug. And maybe God is. Probaby. But the fact is, my favorite mug is cracked. And it’s a sad thing.

Oh well. Life goes on. Monday’s here, with lots to do. Time to think about other thing, like Sunday’s bulletin and sermon.

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.

“Zacchaeus, I used to like you!”

20 11 2007

I’ve always liked Zacchaeus—until today. I think I would still like him, had I not been asked, by an online prayer site, to think how I would feel if I were in the crowd, and had been one of those angered at Zacchaeus for his unethical tax practices. Apparently, I have identified with Zacchaeus in the past, and not with the crowd: I have loved this passage because it speaks to the love, grace and forgiveness that happens only through Jesus Christ. I have been grateful for that love, grace and forgiveness, and wanted to give that to others. I’ve probably preached on this text, or read devotionals, and commentaries… and encouraged others to respond in love and forgiveness.

Yet today, I’m part of the crowd. I’m angry, and grumbling at the Zacchaeus’ in my life, who knowingly mistreat me and those I love. And, I’m kind of mad at Jesus, too, for going to Zacchaeus’ house—doesn’t Jesus want to hear my story first? Don’t I get to tell Zacchaeus what I think of him and his tax practices?

But we aren’t the judges of that, either. I am not saying that we need to automatically release Zacchaeus from responsibility, and go on as if nothing happened. Proper and just procedures need to happen to hold people accountable. But I am saying that whether the Zacchaeus’ in our lives have a turn of heart or not, we are called to forgive. (not necessarily trust again, but forgive) I am called to forgive, and to let go of the grumbling long enough to see Zacchaeus through Jesus’ eyes.

I should say that I still like Zacchaeus—after all, I have been Zacchaeus to many other people over the years. But today, I feel like I’m in the crowd. Help me, Lord, to see the Zacchaeus’ of life through your eyes. Help me to forgive. And help me to remember that you have also forgiven me.

“The Apostle”

14 09 2007

Last night our M&M small group watched the movie “The Apostle.” Great movie, in my opinion. Though it’s been on my list of movies to see since released 10 years ago, I had not seen it until last night. From what I had heard, I didn’t think I would like it this much: Robert Duvall’s character felt called by the Lord to be an apostle… yet was also obviously a sinner. Yes, the movie is full of contradictions. As I had heard, Robert Duvall’s character (Sonny/E.F.) felt called by God, and yet was obviously a sinner… As the movie progressed, I didn’t want to like Sonny. But I did. He was enormously complex, loved people, a little too human for comfort, sometimes a jerk… and yet real.

Sound familiar? Aren’t we all enormously complex? Human… sometimes jerks… (some of us more than others, maybe.).. and yet real. Maybe that’s why I liked the main character so much. I’m a little too real at times. I mess up, I can’t always keep quiet when I should , I try–I genuinely try–to behave, to do better… and I still fall into similar human sinful patterns. And yet, like Sonny, I also care about people, and my heart’s usually in the right place.

Usually. But even when my heart’s in the right place, my actions still trip me up. And so I am grateful for God’s grace. Grace…. so undeserved, in the “Apsotle”, in Cathy, in those around me… so undeserved, and yet freely given.

Thanks be to God.