Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five: On the Road Again

In honor of those preparing to leave on trips (of which the kids and I are one such specimen), Singing Owl of the RevGals asks, "What are the 5 things you simply must have when you are away from home?"

I may pack a lot, but I consider myself a pretty low maintenance traveler. Let's see what I can come up with!

1. Journal. I never end a day without it, and I never leave it behind when I'm gone.
2. My own soap, Dove. For some reason most other soaps, even mild ones, leave a rash on my chest.
3. A good airplane/car/train book. Probably more thought goes into this than anything else when traveling. It's got to be engaging enough that I will jump right into it and not get bored and toss it aside, but not TOO fast of a read because then I finish it and have to buy another. I try to just bring one book per trip so that I don't have to accumulate too much. Depending on the length of time in the car or air without child interuption, though, sometimes I'll bring two. If I'm going to my mom's though, I ALWAYS take a new one from her stash before I leave!
4. The iPod. Full of good music and lots of podcasts it's perfect for me when I want to ignore everything else, or, lately, good for LadyPrincess so we can ignore her. (I mean that in the nicest way.)
5. Cash. I know there are lots of other easier and safer ways to travel, but I still feel the need to grab about $100 in cash before I go on a trip. Ya never know.

My own bonus - - My favorite cd for traveling is and always has been Paul Simon's Graceland. The beats, the songs, the lyrics, the sing-along-ability makes it my number one road trip album.


The kids and I head to Synod School on Monday after worship. I will likely be out of the loop until after Aug. 3. See ya then!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Glimpsing Heaven

Larry Patten challenged his readers on July 17, 2008 to find their own parables for the "realm of love" or kingdom of God. I'm working on mine (instead of writing a sermon about some). They aren't quite fleshed out, but well, you get what you get when I'm procrastinating while writing a sermon.

The kingdom of God is like a mother nursing her child. The more life-giving milk the child receives, the more milk will be available for life in the future.

The kingdom of God is like a raging 3 year old who clings in love and desperation to the very one who has made her so angry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Five

RevHRod got us thinking about blog names/identities with these questions. Several of them I've covered myself in other posts, so I'll link to those.

1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?
Can't find where I posted it elsewhere, must have been in someone's comments some time, but She Rev is what my Catholic best friend and her mother dubbed me when I was ordained. Nothing too much more exciting than that.

2. Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?
Meet the Fam

3. What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?
I just discovered today that one of my best friend's from growing up has a FANTASTIC blog, and the name cracks me up. Graceful Like a Chicken

4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals blog of course!
Newly devoted to Graceful Like a Chicken.
I'm a fan of Juniper's blog.
Another new one, but I will stay active on in reading and posting is the PC(USA) moderator's blog.


5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?
Really the RevGalBlogPals blog site did. I had heard of it obviously, but I hadn't read any at all or really been interested. I found RevGals from textweek.com, first reading the Tuesday posts, then joining on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings. Honestly, though, I didn't get it at first that you all had your own blogs for a little while. After a little bit of that (occasionally since at the time I was an associate pastor and I wasn't around much) I found the blogs and decided I'd get started on my own when I took my new call so that I could officially join this GREAT group of women officially!!!

Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks?
I was at the meet up at the Festival of Homiletics, so I met some of the ladies there. I discovered I knew one in real life pretty well, and had met another around our Synod, but didn't know it until then. That was fun!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I blew it.

Poo. Tomorrow was supposed to be a day with the kids. Not just the kids, but the kids and two other families in our neighborhood - - our new friends I have been so excited about making and spending more time with. I have been pumped about it all week. I can't do it, though. I have been a horrible slacker at the church this week and I just have to go in tomorrow. I don't have a well organized plan for the session retreat on Sunday afternoon. I don't have a homily for the memorial service on Saturday. I don't have a word or even really a thought for my sermon on Sunday. This is not good. Ugh.

This is the first time I've really had to short change my kids for the job in this call and I feel bad. It's worse because it's my own fault. It would be different if it were an unexpected death or some sort of emergency or something. But it's not. It's my own slackerness. Poo.

Poo!

POO!

Humph. Swearing won't help anything. I hope I remember how ticked I am so I don't do this again. It's my own stinkin' fault, and I'm frustrated the family's getting the short end of the stick here. Poo.

OK. I'm done.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weeds in the Wheat


Matthew 13:24-30

It was sort of like opening a Christmas present this spring as the snow finally melted. We were house-hunting here in Hudson last October, and, on someone’s recommendation somewhere I took a gazillion pictures of the houses we were considering. It was great having those as we got ready to moved, but the one thing I forgot to take pictures of was the outside of the house. Oops. It wasn’t a big deal or anything. Like I said it sort of made the spring resemble opening one big Christmas present. We had no idea what was in yard and around the garden.

We also didn’t know what our neighbors had going on, and I have to admit I was a little worried about that at first. I didn’t remember being worried about the house next door when we were here last fall, but when the snow melted and revealed an entire yard of dirt at the house next door, I was a little bit concerned. This couple had been here quite a while, and they still didn’t have any grass? We had a vacant home next to ours in Lincoln for some time, and the yard there was the neighborhood eyesore until the city was called to come take care of the noxious weeds in their yard. I was hopeful, but nervous that we might have to deal with something like that again.

Our new house has grass, sort of, or should I say mostly. It’s not the most luscious or consistent lawn of grass ever, but it is grass. It’s also a lot of dandelions, I guess. It’s hard to maintain pure grass with dandelions, and Karoline doesn’t help in that department.



She loves to pick and blow the “dandy flowers” she finds. She’ll gather hands full of them and blow them one by one while I’m working in the flower beds, on walks around the neighborhood, riding in the stroller, or while being pulled in the wagon. It doesn’t matter where she is or where she’s going it’s hard to pass up a perfectly tempting dandelion. I remember the fun of doing that as a kid, too, so I just haven’t had the heart to stop her.

I wonder some days now, though, if our neighbor has that same feeling. It turns out that their grassless yard is one of the most prolific, diverse gardens I have ever seen. I feel silly now for being worried earlier. The way the lots are divided on that part of the block left that couple with minimal room for yards or gardens, so instead of grassing the front yard, she has probably worked forever on her beautiful garden. There are roses and strawberries and daisies and lilies and more flowering plants than I can name!




And… surprise, surprise… she has a pretty steady fight with dandelions.

Ugh - - every time I see her out there weeding (which is just about every other day) I feel a little guilty. I mean, I know we didn’t single-handedly raise a crop of weeds in the middle of her garden, but I wonder if she just wants to curse us, the enemy in the form of a 3 year old and her mother who came while everybody was asleep and sowed weeds among her good seed.

Our neighbor, unlike the farmer in the parable, has what I would consider a normal reaction to the presence of weeds in her garden. She weeds them! Isn’t that what most of us do when the weeds start cropping up? It’s what I spent the GORGEOUS afternoon doing yesterday, and it’s what I anticipate doing next weekend again if it’s still pretty. Weeding is what keeps our gardens looking like gardens instead of masses of green mess! In the case of farming, weeding is what keeps the good crops growing strong instead of weak and under-nourished because the weeds stole all the resources.

Weeding is the understandable attempt to remove these encroaching nuisance plants that steal from the seeds we have gone to great lengths to sow. Weeding is what makes (or attempts to make) our gardens and crops pure. And if NOTHING else, weeding is what we DO while the garden is doing what it does – growing and maturing. It’s how we know to care for the plants, to tend to them, to help them along as they grow and bring us joy. Weeding is what gardeners DO to keep the garden going.

But in the parable, the householder, the farmer, doesn’t weed. I don’t really get it. Presumably he’s used his good resources, either the crop from the year before or money from the sale of it, to sow good seed, pure seed, seed that is guaranteed to bring him a good yield of wheat. Yet as the seed grows into a crop he discovers weeds growing alongside his wheat.


That’s not what is supposed to happen. The slaves come running to tell him the news, and really to wonder about this seed he found anyway. Is this really the good stuff? Did you waste your money on it, or, maybe, did you get what you paid for? Either way, there are weeds out the in the fields now, do you want us to go take care of it, they ask (not really expecting anything but an answer in the affirmative).



But what they expect isn’t the plan of the farmer. There’s that twist in the parable we should come to expect. Don’t gather the weeds, he says. Let them mix in my garden. Let the weeds grow next to the wheat, FOR NOW.

See, the good and the bad mix in this kingdom garden. And the question we KNOW the slaves go away asking (we know because we’ve asked it a million times ourselves), “Why doesn’t God DO something?” If God is all powerful, if the farmer is the master of his fields, why is the good forced to grow right alongside those pesky, annoying, competitive, and even threatening weeds?

Tragedies happen. Horrific accidents devastate lives and families. Planes fly into buildings. Bombs detonate in busy markets. Tyrants and bullies force their own plans on people and crush opposition. Cancer is discovered. Drunk drivers cause collisions. Fires burn. Flood waters rise. The innocent are caught in the crossfire. Rage controls minds and actions. The weeds grow among the wheat.

There are weeds and wheat co-mingling in the life and history of the church, too, aren’t there? Gossip doesn’t discriminate against God’s people. Prejudice is alive in the Christian garden. Missionary schools are tainted by sex abuse scandals. Conversion is a prerequisite for humanitarian aid. Wars of words are waged against those who think and believe differently. Schism is threatened. Legal battles are waged on brothers and sisters in Christ. Agenda are pushed. My will is put before God’s will. Bitterness hangs on and on and on…. Sure the weeds grow among this wheat, too.

It’s easy to read this parable and recognize that there is bad, even evil, in this world around us. It isn’t even too difficult to point it out in the church and Christian family of faith. But unfortunately, it’s also not too hard to turn this into a story about how all those weeds are growing and choking the wheat that is us.

But I don’t really think that’s the most faithful reading. The truth is there are weeds growing in our part of the kingdom, too. In each and every one of us there are weeds that grow right next to our wheat. Jealousy. Hatred. Bigotry. Arrogance. Pridefulness. Rudeness. Self-centeredness. Idolatry. Greed. There are weeds in my life, in my heart, in my faith, and I’m pretty sure, as members of the human race, they are in yours, too. That’s just how this gardener works. The weeds don’t all get pulled right away, and while that can be the most FRUSTRATING thing in the world, it seems to serve a purpose.

After those few hot, muggy, and even stormy days we had at the end of last week, my garden was definitely needing my attention yesterday afternoon. So, while the kids napped I tried diligently to get some inside work done on the computer, but the MINUTE Karoline woke up we were outside. We were not going to waste this beautiful afternoon inside. I grew up in Florida, and there was no such thing as a pleasant July afternoon in that climate.

So as soon as she was up, Karoline and I went out to experience the weeds. I figured with this week’s Scripture lesson at least it counted as sermon preparation. With my inexperience, I learned a few things about weeds in the kingdom while we were working.


1. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the weeds and the “real” plants. Some of this goes back to the fact that we didn’t plant this particular garden. When I look in our flower beds and particularly up the hill at the wildflowers, I don’t always know what I’m looking at to know whether to save it or not. What if in discarding someone’s convictions that I don’t share, that sometimes in my arrogance I consider completely wrong and harmful, I end up discarding a word from God? Was the weeding worth it?

2. Sometimes when you pull up the weed, like the parable says, you really do pull up the good plant. Roots are intermingled. Vines are wrapped around the stems. A rushed and ambitious weeder, can sometimes ruin the plants that are growing. Tugging on the weed sometimes pulls the immature wheat that isn’t completely established in the soil yet. Some of us are still growing our systems of support and adding to our network that feeds us and makes us strong. Pulling up those weedy attitudes and habits that are still holding on strong might just destroy the good that God has just started to grow.


3. Even if it makes the garden look better, pulling weeds isn’t always fun. It doesn’t feel good the next day (my back is proof of this lesson today). And sometimes those little weeds just break between your fingers when you try to pull them too soon, leaving the roots there in the soil to sprout new plants. In the end it’s more efficient sometimes to pull them when they’re a little bigger. An added bonus - - maybe the wheat has a chance to grow a little a stronger, too, and can survive the trauma itself.

4. And lastly, if I weeded every time a new weed sprung up, I’d have no timed to tend to and enjoy the real plants in my garden. I can look at the garden and see the weeds are there. I search through the day lilies and hosta and petunias and coreopsis and begonias and rhubarb and tomatoes and a bunch of other stuff I can’t even identify and I see that there are things that don’t belong. I know what is there, and sometimes knowing is enough. Sometimes I need to just let that go a little while so that I can enjoy the beauty that is before me, the colors that dance when the wind blows, the fragrances that tickle my nose.

Sometimes it is enough to know that the gardener searches us and knows us. There will be weeding and pruning when the time is right. The wheat will be separated from the weeds in the world, in the church, in our very lives. But sometimes, sometimes it’s just time to let them grow together, allowing the wheat to get stronger, healthier, hardier in the presence of the weeds, so the master can delight in the field and fill the barns with a good harvest, when the time is right.



Boys blowing dandelions photo credit: Mrs. FireMom via photopin cc

Dandelion and daisy photo credit: jenny downing via photopin cc

Wheat field photo credit: Rosa Dik 009 -- On & Off via photopin cc

Harvesting photo credit: TumblingRun via photopin cc

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Five

Mother Laura at RevGals asks:
In celebration of summer, please share your own memories and preferences about camp.

1. Did you go to sleep away camp, or day camp, as a child? Wish you could? Or sometimes wish you hadn't?
I did both with no regrets. Day camp when I was under 7, but after that I went to Girl Scout camp every year until maybe the summer before 9th grade.

2. How about camping out? Dream vacation, nightmare, or somewhere in between?
We didn't really do this much growing up. I've seen pictures of my family (me included) camping in Italy when we lived in Germany when I was a toddler, but it must have been my father's idea because you can bet we never did it again with my mother after they got divorced! I loved the tent camping canoe trips we took when I was at Girl Scout camp though. I'm fired up to do it with my kids when they're old enough some day. EconoMan and LadyPrincess slept in the tent one night last week. It was so cute, and I was highly impressed she lasted the whole night. She's just 3.


3. Have you ever worked as a camp counselor, or been to a camp for your denomination for either work or pleasure?
The summer before my senior year I finally worked as a camp counselor. I checked it off my "List of things to do before I die." (That's really the title I put on it in the 8th grade, way pre-Bucket List.) It was a camp from my denomination, and it's where I really started to possibly get the idea that I might be called to ministry. It's where someone, for the first time, actually said that maybe I should consider. I don't think I had consciously before that.

4. Most dramatic memory of camp, or camping out?
I remember my first trip as the main leader and lifeguard on an "out trip" with middle schoolers. I was 21 which made me the main leader of a 3 night canoe trip. I however had ZERO experience at REAL camping, like on the side of the river, no state-park-potties, pitch a tent, and cook everything camping. Oh. And no cell phone. I had been on one training trip, but had not really thought that I would need to pay attention. When they told me I was leading the trip I asked "What if someone breaks a leg or something?!?!?!" The director told me, "That's why you had a week of training. Remember that day of wilderness first aid?" Holy cow. Who knew I'd really need that? I didn't sleep the whole trip because my real fear was actually "What if one of these kids dies? How the hell are we going to get them out of here?" (The trip went fine, and I led 3 more all summer. Loved it!)

5. What is your favorite camp song or songs? Bonus points if you link to a recording or video.
Actually, Camp Mah Kah Wee is where I was introduced the Indigo Girls before any of us knew who they were or who they would become. I mean, it was pre-Strange Fire when I started going, and started learning the songs. We would sing their songs around the campfire, and it wasn't until post-Closer to Fine that I even realized these weren't just songs that my counselors made up. "Closer to Fine" is definitely one of my favorite campfire song memories.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What a Waste!

Matthew 13:1-9

The last few weeks in our worship we have studied together Matthew Ch. 10, Jesus’ instruction to his disciples as they are being sent out in his name to heal and proclaim the kingdom of God. I think we can all agree that Jesus’ call to the disciples is at the same time an important and daunting call. Healing in his name, proclaiming the kingdom of God. It’s one thing to ask this sort of discipleship from those who have been raised in the faith, those who have spent a lifetime learning about Jesus, growing in their trust of him, beginning to understand what this kingdom is all about. It’s another to expect it from disciples who just dropped their nets a few weeks ago and followed. I’m not saying we who are here today “get it” all perfectly now, but at least most of us who choose to answer his call to discipleship have had a little more time to figure some of this out than the original disciples.

I don’t know that the extra time is always helpful, though. Proclaiming a new kingdom isn’t easy, no matter what kind of preparation you have had. We live in a “kingdom” of sorts. We know or are at least familiar with what the kingdom of our cultures, the kingdom of our society is about, what it believes in, what it expects from us, how we can and should act. But Jesus is saying there’s a new kingdom on earth now; it’s not going to come someday later, when we die or when something cataclysmic happens. It’s already started, and it’s just going to keep growing and growing as we who see it live like we’re in it and share our kingdom life with others.

So, we turn our attention this week, and the next two weeks to Ch. 13 of the same gospel of Matthew. Chapter 13 is chock full of a kind of teaching literature we call parables. Jesus uses parables both among his disciples alone and to the large crowds that come to hear him. The parables are particularly helpful for those of us who struggle to understand what this kingdom of God is supposed to look like and how we disciples are supposed to proclaim it.

A few sort of “bullet points” about parables before we move on:

1. Parables are more than just a story with a single point or moral. Don’t think of them as Aesop’s fables that can be boiled down to one teachable sentence, like “One good turn deserves another.”Parables can have multiple meanings at the same time or over time. Each time we come to them we may find something new or come to a new understanding. This is why it is OK to read a parable without the interpretation given in scripture as we will do today.

2. Parables are more than allegories, or point for point comparisons to our faith and daily living. One way of interpreting them is to compare each character or element in the story with something in “real” life, but that’s never the ONLY way to interpret a parable. Instead of looking for one simple meaning, think of a parable as a word picture. In the case of the Chapter 13 kingdom parables they are snapshots of what the kingdom of God looks like, how it operates, not necessarily simply directions about how to live, or rules to govern that kingdom.

3. Parables are based in the common knowledge of the community. They center their teaching story around jobs, tasks, and traditions that everyone knows and understands. In the case of biblical parables that’s great news for the people of Judea 2000 years ago. It’s somewhat more difficult news for us. The things that were common to them are not necessarily still common to us, so there tends to be some learning involved to catch us up to speed with these parables.

4. Parables almost always have a twist. While the parable is based in something familiar there almost always seems to be something in the story that just doesn’t sound right to the hearer. That, I believe, is often where the teachable moment comes in.

With this in mind, let’s turn our minds to Chapter 13, the parable commonly known as the Parable of the Sower. Listen with me to the Word of God.

Matthew 13:1-9
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

I have to admit now my relative ignorance in all things planting related. I wrote in our church newsletter earlier this year how the garden is not usually one of my areas of strength or attention. I’m growing into it, but I am, by NO MEANS, an expert or even a good student of all things (or any things) agricultural. It appears, though, that I am in good company. Jesus, the poor city boy, seems to know NOTHING about farming either. The crop yields he mentions are outrageous. And this planting style? Well, it was not how I was taught.

I don’t know about you, but I was taught to be a little more careful with the seed than this sower is being. Look at him! Looking up, away, not paying attention at all. He’s just throwing the seed any old play. My father would have killed me if I had let the seed fly like that!

I can remember planting the flower beds with my father when I was little girl. My mother and father, divorced by this time, had two different ideas of gardening. My mother liked to pick out flats of flowers at the nursery and, for instant gratification, just put them in the ground. My father, on the other hand, liked to start from scratch, putting seeds carefully in the ground at just the right time to ensure a beautiful garden later in the year.

With my father, gardening always involved a tape measure. We’d lay it out across the bed to be sure our rows were straight and had the right spacing. Another ruler would be placed alongside the rows to make sure the seeds were carefully spaced. There was none of this tossing the seeds around while looking off into the sky.

Modern farmers, in my limited experience, would be appalled at this mode of operating, too. Some of you may know that Phil grew up farming with his dad, and his parents still make their living that way in Lexington, Nebraska. Again, I do not claim to have any extensive knowledge of this livelihood, but I can tell you what amazed me on my first few trips out to the farm. Farming can be EXTREMELY technological, and not just on large corporate farms. In the office at home on the farm or really from any computer with internet access anywhere in the world, Phil’s dad can monitor just about every drop of water that irrigates or waters his field. He can turn pivots on the fields in Nebraska on and off from his laptop when he’s up here visiting us.

During and after harvest he can look at maps (like this one) that tell him what his yield has been on each field or even in each row of each field. He uses this information to help him plan how to treat he fields and crops the next year. All of this is to the end of saving resources, working for the highest yield with the least waste possible. (I’m pretty sure none of it was 100- or 60- or 30-fold.)

The planting technology is even more amazing to me. This is a display monitor much like the one that lives in Father-in-Law’s planter. For the most part it looks like a GPS (global position system) not unlike ones that many of us have in our cars for navigating unfamiliar cities or finding the closest gas station. Don’s GPS however, doesn’t tell him the route to the barn (although, I bet it probably could), it tells the planter where to plant. Not only that, with one more gadget attached it can actually drive the tractor to and on the rows themselves.

The benefit here? Nothing is wasted. The GPS, guided by satellites, knows exactly where every seed is planted within one inch of its actual location. It’s craziness to me! With the location of every single seed known, where to apply fertilizer or pesticides become more exact. What the seed needs to grow successfully can be delivered EXACTLY to where the seed lies in the field. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about farming in the last 6 years of knowing Phil and his family, it’s that waste is the enemy. The goal is to get as close to complete efficiency as possible.


Jesus’ parable, on the other hand, is the model of complete inefficiency. What is this sower doing? Those are precious seeds he is holding on to. Those are the seeds that will bring forth the vine or the grain that will feed probably not just himself, but his family, and maybe even the community. Seeds are not to be tossed about without any care about where they will drop. It’s hard to imagine any farmer not doing everything he could to be sure that the seed went exactly where it was supposed to. That it just spilled anywhere or that he might have just scattered it without watching where he was going is beyond ridiculous, even in the days before farming met GPS satellites.

What a waste!

But maybe that’s the point. Remember in a parable, we’re looking for the twist, the point where the familiar becomes the ridiculous. This is our place to step into the story and see what’s going on with God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom, this parable is saying, is a place where seeds, the source of life, are sown EVERYWHERE. God’s kingdom, this parable is saying, is a place where seeds, the source of life, spill over on the path, on the rocks, on the dry, cracked, parched land. God’s kingdom, this parable is saying, is a place where the seeds of grace fall in the middle of thorny weeds even though the weeds will choke them.

God’s kingdom, this parable is saying, is a place where people are cared for with great attention and love, and grace is allowed to fall on all. God’s kingdom is a place where grace is sown abundantly, without judgment of who will receive it, who will reject it, or who needs it most. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of abundant love and hopeful mercy. God’s kingdom doesn’t wait until the weeds are pulled, the earth is turned, or the rains have fallen before grace is sown in our lives.

We have made several trips to nurseries around town to pick out plants for our flower beds and pots. I’m new to all of this, so read every little tag like it is Scripture itself. Is this one for part sun? Is that one for shade? I’m trying to follow the directions to a T to make sure I do it just right. How much water? How far apart? How deep should the hole be dug?

This is just fine for a garden, but it’s not so great for sharing God’s grace. In God’s kingdom everything doesn’t have to be just perfect. In God’s kingdom grace is scattered lovingly and mercifully. The sowers of these precious seeds are called not to hoard them and guard them and share them only when the time is perceived as right. God’s grace is scattered without regard to timing and rules and directions on a tag. It sounds so wasteful to our ears that are tuned for efficiency and productivity by our standards. But what we might see as wasteful, God sees as graceful.


And when grace is sown with reckless abandon the fruit of God’s labor is abundant. The yield is beyond our imagination, beyond our expectation, beyond our understanding, but it’s within the realm of God’s grace in God’s kingdom.

Come this morning to the table of God’s abundant grace. Come taste the fruit of God’s labor. At this table of the Lord may we be fed so that we can become sowers of God’s overflowing grace and mercy.

Grain harvest photo credit: World Bank Photo Collection via photopin cc

Friday, July 4, 2008

Friday Five

Sally at RevGals writes:
I have to admit that I am chuckling to myself a little; how strange it seems for me a Brit to be posting the Friday Five on 4th July! I realise that most of our revgals will be celebrating in some way today, but I hope that you can make a little room for Friday Five! From my short stay in Texas my memories of the celebrations are of fireworks and picnics, one year we went in to central Houston to watch the fireworks and hear the Symphony Orchestra play, we were welcomed and included, and that meant a lot!

So lets have a bit of fun:

1. Barbeque's or picnics (or are they essentially the same thing?)
For me a barbeque is specifically cooking with a grill or smoker or fire in some other way outside. A picnic MAY have a barbeque as part of the festivities, but it doesn't necessarily. A picnic is eating outside, I'd say preferably away from home. When we cook on the grill and eat on the back deck I don't consider that at picnic. It can be as simple as sandwiches and chips. If my 3 year old were answering the defining difference would be a blanket. A picnic MUST have a blanket, and any food eaten on a blanket (inside or outside) is a planket.

2. The park/ the lake/ the beach or staying at home simply being?
On the 4th I prefer to do whatever I'm doing at home or the home of a friend. Heat and busy crowds? Not my thing. This year it's just our fam, so we're really not doing anything out of the ordinary. Our town is doing the fireworks thing tomorrow, so my real goal for tonight is to get my sermon written so I can go carefree to the display late tomorrow night!

3. Fireworks- love 'em or hate 'em?
Love 'em - - watching the big ones, that is. Setting off ones at home FREAKS ME OUT!

4. Parades- have you ever taken part- share a memory...
Nothing too exciting. I walked in a few parades with the Girl Scouts growing up. My most memorable parade-WATCHING experience was in February this year. A night parade in February in Wisconsin. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. It was (literally) like 2 degrees. It made for a great story to tell the family in Florida, though.

5. Time for a musical interlude- if you could sum up holidays in a piece of music what would it be?
Haven't read any posts yet, but I'm sure I can't be the only one to mention the 1812 Overture. I can remember going to hear the Brevard Symphony Orchestra (Brevard County, FL) play this choreographed to the fireworks going off over the river. I don't remember how old I was, but it was sometime close to the 5ht grade when I started playing the bass. It has a GREAT bass part!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feeling Disconnected

I LOVE not living in Florida. I am not a Florida person. I don't enjoy the heat and humidity. I am thrilled that it is the 3rd of July and the high here is forecasted to be like 77 degrees. This is gorgeous.

While I LOVE not living in Florida, I don't LOVE not being at least slightly closer to the rest of my family. Unfortunately, they LOVE living in Florida. So, here we are the day after my father has had emergency QUINTUPLE bypass surgery, and I'm hanging out in my office wondering what in the hell is going on. This sucks.

I heard from my mom late last night when the surgery was over, and things went wonderfully well, said the surgeon, but it still is no fun being the one far away. It also makes it really hard to focus on writing a sermon or responding to patriots (see below), or do anything productive at work.

I haven't figured out how or when or with whom to share my own family concerns when I'm here so at this point just two of the ladies on staff know. I did put it in the prayer concerns for Sunday morning, so I guess it's all out there. I've never been extremely public with family health stuff like this, or things that I'm worried about in general. I have my circle of friends and support, a few within my churches, but mostly far removed from it. In fact, when my father (bio dad, the one with the bypass now is actually my step-father of 24 years, but that's an entirely different post!) got sick with cancer 3 years ago I really didn't tell hardly anyone. Not because it was a secret, but because I am sort of particular about what I need and like during crisis. I'm pretty blunt about the state of things, and don't like a bunch of platitudes. I don't want to hear "It'll be alright" I want to be realistic and have the truth of the situation honored, not our prettied up version. I still joke and play around, and I'm not one to be babied or doted on, so it's easier to keep things within my own circles of support who can be with me the way I need. Even when my father died a couple of months after his diagnosis very very few people knew it. (I wasn't able to travel for the funeral since he died the day before my daughter was born.)

I digress. I just wish I were a little closer so I could be a part of my family while this is going on. That's about it. Sigh