Day 47: (4:24) the road ahead

27 04 2011

4:24: the road ahead

I cannot believe No, I can believe… that I am this late in posting my Easter photo–the final photo for “Journey to 4:24”. I took the photo on Sunday, and yet, here I sit… Wednesday morning, posting. Oh well. That said, here’s my post.

Easter is the ultimate example of hope, of life, of possibility. It is God’s unimaginable love for us, reconciling himself to humanity through Jesus Christ. It is God forgiving our sin, and giving us life, so we can live abundantly.

Easter is about the road ahead, full of possibility. Let us live into that hope-filled life, empowered by the empty tomb. (Even when we’re running behind.)

Day 6: Tragedy and Hope

14 03 2011

map of hope

A family. A tragedy. An official day of mourning three lives. Unimaginable grief upon grief upon grief…

Another family. A tragedy of a different sort, because this family goes out of their way to condemn. Sad. This family threatens to disrupt the other family’s grief.

Enter social networking at its best. Enter the community from various parts of the local map in support of the grieving family. If needed, this group would provide a peaceful human shield against hate-filled distractions.

It wasn’t needed, fortunately. But we stuck around long enough to be sure it wasn’t needed.

I pray that the grieving family is able to continue their grief process in peace. I pray—hesitatingly, because it’s hard—for the other family who obviously needs to know the love of God. And I pray that those from various points on the map continue to gather for peaceful support of those in need.

Advent Journey-Hope

28 11 2010


Hoping that Advent bring me closer to Christ and to God.

Hoping that I will be open to the Spirit’s nudging in these and other areas.

Hoping for the end of untimely deaths among those I love.

Hoping for the end of untimely deaths among the world’s population. Not just those I know I love.

Hoping for the end of violence, war, skirmishes, pettiness, etc..

Hoping for freedom from the things that keep me from growing closer to God. And hoping for this same freedom, as applied to others also.

Hoping that though I may not get the whole platter of turkey leftovers, I might at least be given a morsel.

Hoping that I will receive the gifts God gives to me everyday. Whether or not I want or think I need them.

Easter Day: Dance

8 04 2010

Morning Dance

Originally uploaded by cathyse97.

Our favorite singing group–Lost & Found–has a song called “Dance”. It’s one of Jim’s favorite songs, about the ladies going to visit the tomb of Jesus: and the tomb is empty! Part of the lyrics are as follows: “At dawn as the walked sadly hanging their heads. They fell in reverence when the angel said, ‘Why do you look for the living with the dead?’Their mourning song turned to dancing instead.”

Mourning song turned to dancing. Imagine the joy, yet disbelief, at realizing what had happened.. that Jesus had risen, just as he said. Of course there would be disbelief at first, and shock, and all that stuff. But after that.. when they saw the risen Christ… what must have they thought? done? imagine the dancing!

Of course, life circumstances can distract us from the dancing joy. Life can get us down, it can discourage, depress, disappoint… obviously. We know this all too well. So we keep hoping, trying, reminding ourselves and others of the Easter Dance: that Christ is victorious, Christ is risen. Regardless of life’s circumstances, Christ is risen. We can dance… and we can keep hoping in this risen Savior.

“Catch-Up”: Tuesday

18 03 2010

Philippians 3:4b-14

Pressing on.. I can’t say that I’m one who focuses a lot on “pressing on” for the sake of the heavenly prize in Jesus Christ. I don’t often think, “Ah… heaven. I can’t wait.” or “I’m pursuing the goal of resurrection from the dead.”

Tues., March 16th

Maybe, on some days–the days I think about the deaths of loved ones, the days I contemplate the future after death… maybe on those days. But mostly, I simply live. I do press on, in terms of moving forward. I do try to live my life as though Christ Jesus and his resurrection makes a difference. But what, exactly does that look like? For me, it includes working on those annoying habits that creep up on me. It includes working on not being so annoyed by the habits of others that jump out in front of me. It includes focusing on Christ Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit for guidance. And it includes a whole bunch of other ideas, actions, words, speech patterns, that are too many to list here. In this sense, “pressing on” is hard for me. I imagine that those who think about heavenly reward have a hard time as well. But for me, simply living today, as though Christ does make a difference in my life, is challenging. In this photo, my sister, nephew, their dog, and I were walking on the beach–and I photographed their shadows. Bennett was walking Tasha, their dog… Susie was walking Bennett’s bike, I was holding the bags of Bennett’s and my shell findings..  A stretch though it may be, we were straining, we were pressing on… and it was hard! walking through the sand. Hard, but worth it.

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.

Messy Lent.

9 03 2010

Lent is the messiest liturgical season for me. There are the obvious reasons, like mixing ashes for Ash Wednesday, getting ashes on my fingers and forehead, (the fingers is because of putting ashes on others), washing rocks in our yard, and getting lily pollen stains on Easter clothes. Those are the obvious messes that result from Lent. But Lent is the messiest season because if I let it do its work, it changes me. That may not sound messy to you, but trust me: it is. It’s messy because I expect change from Lent… I expect that God’s going to do great work in me, God’s child… along with all the other children God’s going to do great work in. The “wow, changing that one simple thing solved so many of life’s problems” kind of work. Nope, that doesn’t happen. At least not to me. Instead, God works in me a little change at a time.

Lent is messy because little changes tease me. I think I’ve changed in a specific area, and then bam! Oops.. not so fast.

Mon., March 8th.. Messy, mixed colors while painting...

Turns out, I only thought I had changed. Really, I’m right back where I was the day before Lent started. That would be Shrove/Fat Tuesday, when I was eating fattening stuff. Which, by the way, I’m still doing. No, little changes don’t ease life as much as one might hope. They make me pay more attention to God’s work in and around me…. not the giant neon sign works, but the garbage by the side of the road type of noticing, the oops, I shouldn’t have said that noticing, and the yep, now let’s change that instead of just realizing that we shouldn’t do that. The little changes that make me reflect more on Sunday’s scriptures even when I’m not preaching. And that takes time which means the rest of my life stays messier–the house, the organization efforts, the unpacking.

Lent is messy because it inspires creativity in me. Which sounds great until you start trying to blog everyday, or wash rocks, or find a good oil to anoint with for an upcoming worship service. And it’s still great, because in spite of these minor hurdles I love the creativity Lent inspires, and I love who God made me to be when I feel creative. And part of a creative team. Lent is messy because I think that I’m going to be better at reading my Bible and praying–both the talking and the listening part of praying…. but I end up playing Hide and Seek, and finding Waldo for the fifth time in 2 hours, and cleaning up messy paint projects, and picking up puzzle pieces and Hotwheels and stray crayons… and then I’m so tired, I just don’t want to do any of the spiritual stuff. So then I feel guilty, which can get messy.

It’s messy. And sometimes it’s pretty hard. But this year, this season, I’m able to enjoy the messy Lent… so far. Stay tuned.

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.

Re-THINK-ing Lent

18 02 2010

It’s Lent—perhaps my favorite liturgical season. There’s so much possibility with Lent… so much that could happen, spiritually speaking. At least there are a lot of intentions, on my part. I won’t bore you with my list of intentions for the season… or even for the past week. Suffice it to say, it’s tempting to already give up, knowing that it’s not possible for me to fulfil all my intentions. And yet I’m going to try to figure out ways to make Lent a bit more meaningful this year. 

At Christ Covenant Church, we have a theme for Lent: Re-THINK Lent. The purpose is to help make Lent more meaningful for all of us—spiritually. To Re-THNK the ways we do things, the habits we have, the ways our Christian faith makes a difference in our daily lives. Today, Ash Wednesday, we start with our intentions…

And so I’m thinking about my intentions. My intentions for my relationship with God and others. And my intentions to live as though Jesus Christ makes a difference in my life. I’m pretty much convinced that today’s best wishes will not amount to much. And yet that’s part of what I like about Lent—there’s still the possibility.

So I’m going to try. I’m going to try to take a photo a day that makes me think about Lent…. I’m going to try and spend some good time each day focusing on prayer—the talking to God and the listening to God.  And I’m going to try to live into the season.  Whatever that means.

So, my first photo is a blurry photo of the stained glass window in the church sanctuary… blurry because it reflects my intentions… wanting to focus on the cross and on my faith, but not always happening that way.

Year of the Rat? Really?

7 02 2008

Happy Chinese New Year… maybe this year has more than 11 months, I don’t know actually. I haven’t done that much research. What I do know is that the thought of getting our child in the year of the Rat doesn’t sound that appealing. the Rat.. really? Ok, so some have toned it down and said it’s the year of the “Mouse”. Cuter, in my opinion. But let’s call it what it is: a rat.

So here’s what I figure. First of all, rats aren’t so bad. I have friends who have pet rats.. and I have held these critters. Kind of cute in their own way. Then there’s Templeton, the rat in the book and movie “Charlotte’s Web”. I love this guy. So, rat’s aren’t so bad. Second, recent Chinese New Year animals included: pig, dog, rooster, monkey… I like all these animals. But let’s face it: none of these animals have served us well, in terms of adopting our child. So, the way I see it, though rats get a bad reputation, and though our daughter will hopefully have been born in the year of the pig (though it could have been dog or rooster..), the Year of the Rat just might pull through.

Check out the Lenten Views photo a day web gallery…. somewhere on there is my photo of Chinese New Year, at least here at our house. As well as great photos by other photographer friends.