Lent 31: the Rocking Chair

18 03 2013

Rocking chairs have always held a certain appeal for me. Even the ones that are too high for me to rock in comfortably. When we bought this rocking chair at a garage sale many years ago, I expected many nights of rocking Kajsa to sleep.  Lent 31: the Rocking ChairWhat I didn’t expect was how much she and I would both long for the rocking chair at other times.

It started a couple of years ago when, after a particularly hard day, I carried her to the rocking chair, and simply rocked. I think she was still a little frustrated with me at that point, and wasn’t eager to be rocked. But before long she calmed down. I sang one of our favorite songs (Skidda-ma-rink-a-dink-a-dink, skidda-ma-rink-a-do), and pretty soon she was asleep. The story repeated itself a few times.

Then the story changed. She began asking if I would rock her. And so we rocked. And rocked. We have rocked ourselves calm (that sounds strange) too many times to count. When my five year old or I are having a difficult day, she is often the one to ask to be rocked. The rocking chair has become one of the many methods we use to quiet ourselves, to hug each other, to adjust attitudes and frustrations, and to move on. I love this time.

Reflecting back to last week (!) and the Prodigal Son story, I imagine that God loves the times with us, when we have quieted down, when we allow God to hold and comfort us, and to welcome us back into God’s arms.

Lent 26: prodigal dog

11 03 2013

Last night, Kajsa, Jim and I watched “Lady and the Tramp”, the 1955 version. I had never seen it, amazingly. I thought I had, but apparently I had just learned a song (“We are Siamese if you pleeease…”), and seen a clip here and there–such as the spaghetti noodle clip. Thinking I’d seen the movie and seeing the movie are two different things. Lent 26: prodigal dog

Though it is a stretch, I did find myself thinking about the prodigal son from this morning’s Luke 15 gospel text, and “Tramp”, the dog who is a free spirit, not wanting to be tied down to anyone or anything…. and yet has incredibly redeeming characteristics.

A different kind of prodigal.

Lent 14: Psalm 27

26 02 2013

Psalm 27 has long been one of my favorites. It became a favorite during a challenging season in ministry, when a friend suggested I memorize it. This friend had heard a speaker share his painful ministry struggles, and, as a help to continue putting one foot in front of the other, he memorized Psalm 27. So my friend suggested I try it. Not as a “this will solve your problems” suggestion, but as a way to keep moving forward, despite the struggle. Lent 14: Psalm 27

So I started to memorize the psalm. It was helpful. And by “helpful”, I mean it helped me to stay focused on God throughout that season, and not on what was going on. It helped me to focus on the strength I can draw from God, and not on my own strength. And, it helped me to lean on God as my light, the One who helps me to see when I am tempted to not even look any more!

Somewhere along the way I stopped memorizing it. But I’m going to start again. No, I’m not going through a difficult ministry season. I’m just living life, winding road by winding road. And today, this week, this month… verse 1 especially speaks to me:

“The Lord is my light and salvation –whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life –of whom shall I be afraid?”

Throughout the winding roads, God is my light, my stronghold, my salvation, and my help.

Thank you, God.

Lent 9: Refuge

22 02 2013

Late, again. Oh well.

Last night Jim, Kajsa and I went to Margarita’s Restaurant, to eat dinner… we went to help support “Relay for Life”, and, specifically, “Cheryl’s Angels”. 5% of last night’s proceeds went towards this team. As we were sitting in the booth waiting for our food, I looked over at Kajsa’s satchel (that’s what she calls it), and her newest stuffed animal–a Beanie Baby named “Hopper” was in it. I snapped this photo, because it immediately made me think about how Kajsa carefully takes care of Hopper. Mostly. Of course, she’s five-and-a-half, so isn’t the world’s most attentive parent, even to a Beanie Baby. But for the most part, she holds it carefully, pets it gently, wraps it up in blankets, sets it down carefully to take a nap. When she goes outside, she likes to shield it a little from the wind and cold. She even wants to strap her stuffed animals in seat belts on car trips.

Obviously, God cares and loves us more than we care for Beanie Babies. And even each other. I hope, at least. Psalm 91 talks about God’s protection, about God being our refuge… of course, Psalm 91 also states some confusing things–things like, “If you say ‘the Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent…” (Psalm 91:9-10). Confusing because, clearly, harm does come, disaster happens all the time. Image

I remain confused and often frustrated by Scriptures such as this, which say that God will protect and rescue people who call on him. But at this point, at least today, I am willing to remain confused and frustrated. This doesn’t always happen–that I’m willing to remain confused. Normally I want the answers, I want to know why, I want to cry out to God. And I’m sure those feelings and thoughts and actions will return to me –maybe even in an hour. But for now, I’m trying to yield to God my need to understand it all. And I’m trying to rest in the reality that God is still God… that God still loves…. and that God is still my refuge.

“the Jesus pile”

19 12 2010

Today’s Gospel text is Matthew 1:18-25, the birth of Jesus. Verse 18 begins, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way…” (NRSV).

Here at our house, the birth of Jesus begins like this photo: all the Jesus-es (?)in a pile on the bookshelf. Kajsa has loved playing with many nativities this season. Loved it. I have a couple fragile ones up high where she can’t reach, but for the most part, I’m discovering that our nativities are child-friendly. For the first few days I had them out, Kajsa was playing with Mary and Joseph, too.. who were frequently going to meetings.

the Jesus pile

“They’re very busy” she told me. So “Grandma and Grandpa” (other Marys and Josephs) and sometimes some animals were keeping Jesus company.

Then she turned to categorizing the nativities… all the Mary’s lined up in a row, Josephs, animals… shepherds… and this week, she left all the Jesus-es on a shelf. I asked her one day where a certain Jesus was, when I noticed he was gone. “Oh” she said, “He’s in my Jesus pile.” and she pointed to the shelf.

The birth of Jesus took place in one way, but has continued to influence many languages, cultures, socio-economic systems…. etc.

A child’s perspective can be so refreshing, even in a season that already brings wonder and joy and awe…

could you define “will”?

9 12 2010

Isaiah 35 promises many things-things that are not altogether bad. In fact
they are community-building, wilderness-enduring, healthy and faith-deepening
things. And yet the word “will” accompanies these promises so much, that if I
were alive back then, I’d be saying, “Define WILL… and let me know WHEN.”
Those of us who have spent many years waiting for something know how hard it can be to hope, when what we are waiting for doesn’t happen yet.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, life doesn’t always work like that. We don’t know
when, we don’t get to define “will”—at least not when it comes to Biblical
promises. We don’t always get it, or, if we do, we don’t understand it. Waiting is

the "patient" dog waiting for someone to play with her

Some promises in Isaiah 35 have come true in the life and ministry of Jesus
Christ. Literally and figuratively. Light into the darkness, the blind see, miracles
happened, the power of sin was conquered, rejoicing came to the wilderness.
Even so, at times the wilderness stinks. For instance, when someone says, “It
will get better…” or… “Someday you WILL see the good in all this waiting
period.” Whatever. That may be true. But in the meantime, waiting is still hard.

I suspect we’re all waiting, on some level. My good friend Karen says that
everybody is waiting for something. Whatever we are waiting for, may we be
graced with the strength to find joy in the wait. We may not know WHEN our
waiting season WILL be finished… but help us, Lord, to see you in it. And to find
joy in this time.

leader for the week

30 11 2010

leader for the week

This Sunday’s Isaiah text is chapter 11:1-10. The kingdom that seems impossible, where the lions don’t eat the lambs and other strange mixed company groups survive and get along.

And in verse 6, Isaiah prophesies that “a little child shall lead them.”

This morning, we had a little child very excited to lead. Little does she know how challenging leadership can be, how much of a privilege, and also how disappointing at times. For now, Kajsa’s meaning of leadership is bringing snack to preschool for one week, and being the leader at school. She’s so excited she can hardly stand it.

She has a lot to learn about leadership.

But so do we all. If we could all learn a little of the excitement and joy of children, and apply that to the areas we lead in life, maybe the prophesied kingdom in Isaiah could begin to come about more quickly?

in the light

30 11 2010

“O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5).

Yesterday, Jim’s parents, Kajsa, Jim and I went to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Pretty neat. It should come as no

let us walk in the light of the LORD

surprise that I loved all the Christmas lights. But I really loved the light pictured here: the Moravian star. Beautiful.

We had walked past (and under) this star earlier in the evening, before going to see the Putz at Central Moravian Church. And walking back towards the car, we passed this star again–the bookstore was closed at this point, though. So the light stood out more, because it was both darker outside and inside the book shop.

Christ, the light of the world, came to shine his light, and the light of God’s love, upon the world filled with darkness. How are we walking in the light, helping to reflect God’s love and light to people around us? How can our light be brighter? Not for the sake of being beautiful, but for the sake of bringing the light of Christ to the world around us?

Advent Photo Journey 2010-Intro

28 11 2010

A photo a day during Advent, perhaps a brief reflection a day. Reflecting, visually and verbally, on an Advent scripture passage, or on a general Advent theme. Sounds simple enough, right? Right. I’ve done this for several years now, as have a few friends. But this year I’m doing it a bit differently. I’m going to reflect on an upcoming Sunday’s scripture, rather than on a Sunday that has passed.

The only problem is, Advent began 16 minutes ago (as I write this). I’m already behind! I was going to start this past week, reflecting on tomorrow’s Scripture passages. I was going to enter the 2010 season of Advent more reflective, more mindful of God and God’s word. I was going to enter this season feeling ready. Not behind. At least not with this one piece of my life.

I did begin taking photos on Thanksgiving day. So I’ll post those in a bit. And today, the first Sunday of Advent, will simply have several posts. Posts with good intentions.

Ready or not, Advent is here.

Friday’s Pic: Moon and Cross

27 03 2010

Moon and Cross

Originally uploaded by cathyse97.

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1) .. it’s easy to give thanks to God when looking at a gorgeous moon, a beautiful cross on a beautiful church.. It’s easy to remember God’s steadfast love… to feel God’s steadfast love.

I love this view. The photo, not so much–but you know how I feel about my camera being in the shop. Still, I love the view. I love walking the grounds of the church at night, with Abby… and looking up.

The challenge is to look “up” throughout the day. Not only when the beautiful cross and moon are noticeable, but all the time. To look up at the cross, to look to God for guidance… to give thanks at all times.. to remember the steadfast love of God…. at all times.