Saturday, August 11, 2012

Through No Fault...

This morning I was readying my bike for much anticipated ride. As I hoisted the bike to my shoulder to begin preparations, I heard a "Thud". My bar end mirror just fell off the handlebars. Try as I may to reinsert it, it would not stay put! Somehow, somewhere a piece must have broken or simply fallen off.

Now I must say that this mirror wasn't expensive and doesn't owe me anything. I have had it for fifteen years or more. Yet I found myself annoyed that it had broken. I wish I could tell you as well that it broke because I was riding so much and constantly adjusting it...but I cannot.

So I looked in vain for something that probably fell off, who knows where and really not knowing what I was looking for. Finally I gave up and realized I wasn't going to find it and will most likely never know why this happened.

Our lives seem to follow this parallel. Stuff happens and we may never know why. We can look (and often times we do) for answers and reasons but most of the time they remain hidden. One day we will understand but definitely not today!

Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

grace and peace...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not the Sum of Our Thoughts

"I have realized that thoughts - the inner stuff that flows downstream with us - matter. They matter because, unless we are careful, they sweep away our true selves." (Mary Margaret Funk Into the Depths: "A Journey of Loss and Vocation")

Each day as we arise we begin the process of making choices. What will we wear. What we will eat. Where we will go. What we will do. What we will buy.
One of the most important decisions we will make is what we will think. Meg Funk nails it when she says that "thoughts matter". (Also evidenced by her book of the same title.) We can be literally swept away by our thoughts.
So what are we to do about the multitude of thoughts that plague us?

Meg Funk offers this sage wisdom from the same book quoted above: "When I watch these feelings arise, and try to do so without inner commentary, most of them simply dissolve and go away."

As a patient and caregiver both G and I are in the battle of thoughts. With downright scary procedures looming ahead for him, we both face challenges in paying attention to our thoughts. It is a constant process.

Just Google the "number of thoughts per day" and you will get a range from 15000 - 50,000. Even on the low side at 15,000 it is still a very large number of thoughts for a 24 hour period.

It is impossible to just shut off our minds. But we can pay attention and notice our thoughts and refuse to make a full feature length film about them.

grace and peace...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cricket Harmony

As I drove home from work in the early evening I opened the windows and turned off the radio. When I came to a stop on a country road the stillness of late summer was palpable. But what really caught my ear was the sound of the crickets. Crickets in the cornfield chirping a beautiful melody in the early evening stillness and I almost missed it.

'A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, "So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?"' (I Kings 19:13)

Often times the pace of life moves so quickly we miss the small things...the sacred embedded in the ordinary. We miss the beautiful embedded in the common. We miss the quiet voice of God found in the gentle and quiet whisper.

grace and peace....

Monday, August 6, 2012


One of the by products of illness is tears. Tears of anger. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Tears of relief.

We've seen a lot of tears during the Olympics. Tears of anger. Tears of sorrow. Tears of joy. Tears of relief.

I find it interesting that two very separate life events, illness and the Olympics are marked by tears.

Out of curiosity I took a look at what Wikipedia had to say about crying.

"According to a study of over 300 adults, on average, men cry once every month; women cry at least five times per month...

According to the German Society of Ophthalmology, which has collated different scientific studies on crying, women cry on average between 30 and 64 times a year, and men cry on average between 6 and 17 times per year.
Men tend to cry for between two and four minutes, and women cry for about six minutes..."

One day though, there will be no more sad tears. No more tears of anger, sorrow. What a day that will be!

"...and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

grace and peace....

photo credit:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Telling the Story

From the moment we are born and until we take our last breath we write our life story. But sometimes our story can feel as though it is stuck in a loop that plays and rewinds and plays and rewinds and... Sometimes it seems like all we are is one small segment of our story.

In his Art of Letting Go CD, Franciscan priest Richrd Rohr said, "Because the hurts of life are so great, you cannot let go of the pain on your own. At that point, you need to draw from a Larger Source." He goes on to say that "...forgiveness is changing your egoic investment in your own painful story—which too often has become your ticket, and sometimes your very identity."

I have to admit that these words made me step back and ask if this painful part of my story (this chapter as a caregiver to a spouse with cancer) was becoming my identity.

Those who know and love us are interested in our story. But there is a danger when telling our story feeds our ego. There is a danger when we "become" the painful story that we repeat over and over. We are more than just this moment in time. We must let go.

For sure Richard's words are true. We cannot let go of these painful chapters in our story on our own. We must draw from Christ the strength needed to separate who we are from what we are enduring.

grace and peace...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Shades of Grey

It is a blessing to live in a climate that has multiple months of grey....grey clouds and grey skies. Living in grey forces out the subtle side of beauty. Beauty that would be missed if one didn't make the effort to see it. It really comes down to a choice. Languish in the "grey-ness" or seek something good and beautiful.

Don't say, "Why were things better in the good old days?" It isn't wise to ask that kind of question. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

Likewise it is easy to say that our lives used to be "less grey" or better...better before sickness...better before divorce...better before children (ha!)...better before a layoff...

In the "grey" moments of life what do we see? What good and beautiful thing is to be found in the murky soup we sometimes call life?

grace and peace...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let Go!

I am blessed to have a wise friend in my life who by the grace of God knew I needed a little encouragement and accountability in order to restore a regular time of silent prayer back into the rhythm of my life. His offer meant making a choice. Deliberately setting aside time once a week to meet with other souls to share our experiences with prayer meant rearranging my priorities and letting go of some things.

It meant letting go of excuses as to why I couldn't do this. It meant letting go of the reluctance to be with people I had never met before. It meant letting go of ego that did its best to say, "You don't really need this".

All I had to do was let go and show up. I realized how parched and thirsty I was. I realized how my soul longed for a quiet place to rest in God's presence. I realized that what I had been longing for, what I had been struggling to articulate, was the desire to know God in a deeper and more intimate way.

"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." (Matthew 6:7)

grace and peace...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Walk Don't Run!

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)

Recently for the first time in many years, I found myself at an indoor swimming pool. I was participating in a relay race and had to go to the other end of the pool. I gingerly walked across the slick tile pool deck. As the warm humidity and the smell of chlorine hit me, childhood memories flooded back from my years on a swim team. I could hear in my mind the lifeguards blowing their shrill whistles and shouting, "Walk. Don't run."

A friend who is a pastor here in town says there is a reason that Psalm 23 doesn't say...."Even though I RUN through the valley of the shadow of death".

But that is what we really want to do isn't it! Hurry through whatever is painful, unpleasant, and uncomfortable in our lives! Prayers are more often along the lines of, "Get me out of here" than not.

There gifts embedded in the walk through our valleys. Psalm 23 says there will be no fear...that God is with us...that we are comforted...that we will know God's provision...that we are blessed...that we experience abundance...

Somehow I think we would miss all this if we ran through the valley.

grace and peace...

Monday, July 30, 2012

3 Promises

I called out your name, O God, called from the bottom of the pit.
You listened when I called out, 'Don't shut your ears! Get me out of here! Save me!' You came close when I called out. You said, 'It's going to be all right.'. (Lamentations 3:56-57)

At one point during the race on Saturday I thought I would have to quit. My teammate and I were involved in a challenge where we has to tie ourselves to each other and run around a city block. We started at a nice easy pace but after only a little bit I said that I had to walk. My legs were beginning to cramp. My teammate encouraged me the entire way to keep on. "Three more corners...two more more corner", she said I hobbled on with cramps in both legs. "We're not quitting", she said.

We made it. We didn't quit. We completed the challenge. Her encouragement made the differnence.

There is a peace that comes when we finally cry out...when we finally acknowledge our weakness and pain. God hears us. He comes close. He answers us. What more could we ask?

grace and peace...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Humilities and Such

In his book Falling Upward, author Richard Rohr says he prays for " good humilty..." every day. It is one way to look at the things in our lives that sometimes we would rather forget or bury or pretend never happened.

Yesterday while participating in a local event that consists of biking all around the city and completing a series of physical challenges (both silly and serious) I experienced not just one but many humilities!

The most notable was taking a header over the bike handlebars when my front tire got caught in a rut between the grass and sidewalk. The bike stopped and I didn't. For a brief moment I may have resembled Superman! Tucking my chin, my bike helmet caught the brunt of the impact with the sidewalk. My bike gloves saved my outstretched palms.

I was a bit shook up but fine...on the outside. Almost instantly the voices in my head started. "Idiot. Why weren't you more careful? What were you thinking?" Yada, Yada, Yada!

But as I sat on the ground I took off my helmet in amazement. It was scratched but intact. It did its job. My noggin was preserved! I realized I was not injured! A sense of gratitude flooded my soul. Gratitude for my racing partner who turned around in concern. (she missed the whole thing and only turned around to find me on the ground). Gratitude for the volunteer who rushed to my side. Gratitude for the helmet and gloves that saved me from serious injury.

Not one person repeated the words I had heard in my head.

Good lessons yesterday from one good humilty...

grace and peace...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Offering

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." (Romans 12:1-2)

Choices. Options. Alternatives. These are appealing words. No one really likes being dictated to. In our jobs, many of us work best in an environment where we are free to pick the path to getting something done. Most of us hate to be micro managed or forced into a box or into a particular way of doing something. In our social lives we readily choose where we live, where we go, what we eat, who we see.

Every day we are bobarded by choices. The media slings choice after choice our way through advertising and marketing. Decisions rest with us.
Many times when faced with difficulty the choices become harder. Picking the easy way may not always be the best thing for us. The consequences of choosing one thing over another seem huge.

Paul's words from Romans offers us some wisdom about choices and shares the consequence.

The choices: Place our lives before God. Don't hold back...give him everything...even the every day, ordinary things that we think don't matter. Embrace what God does for us. Resist being conformed to society. Fix our attention on God.

The consequence: We are changed from the inside out. We'll recognize what he wants from us and readily respond! The best in us is brought out. Our maturity will be well-formed.

Placing the day ahead of us before God results in glorious things. Grace and peace to each of you as you greet the day....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Open and Wide!

It's thundering outside. Our golden retriever is trembling. His thunder-phobia is raging within him and he is looking for a place to hide. On one of his first nights in our home we had a huge thunderstorm in the middle of the night. It was the kind of storm that rattles your house and shakes you right out of bed! In his panic, we found Comet in the midst of it all trying to wedge his 80lb body under our bed.

No matter how we tried, we could not do a single thing to comfort him. He was a pitiful sight! Petting him, laying on the floor next to him, talking to him, bribing him...nothing could really change this behavior. Out of desperation we bought him a Thundershirt. It's a jacket for a dog that wraps tightly around his body and is akin to swaddling a baby. While it helped some, it wasn't the panacea we had hoped for.

It would have been wonderful to have him by our sides as we sat and watched the storm roll through. We admired the fury of the wind and the brillance of the lightning. The rain poured out of the clouds in an amazing quantity. It would have been wonderful to fall asleep listening to the sound of the rain with him by my side. But Comet was hiding. Living these moments of his life in a very small way.

"I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!" (II Cor 6:11-13)

Comet's "small living" during storms came from within him. Although Comet joined our family very late in his life, we think he has probably lived his entire life this way. How sad!

As I write the I find myself thinking about "small living" within me. Am I living in a "small way"? What choices do I make that are the symptoms of small living? Regrettably there are times I choose small living instead of opening up my life. It seems easier to bury in my sorrow and choose isolation than to live as Paul describes in his letter to the Corinthians, "openly and expansively".

What if we were open to new possibilities? What if we were open to new ways of looking at things? What if we were to consider opening up?

How wide and expansive could our lives really be?

grace and peace...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us...(Hebrews 12:1)

Cancer has a way of infiltrating not just our physical bodies but also the soul and spirit. It is a stealthy adversary of the highest magnitude. We are tripped up, knocked down, and worked over.

...If we let it...If we give up....If we hand ourselves over...

Certainly the journey that G and I find ourselves on has brought deep sorrow. There are doubts and fears and discouragement scattered all along this path.

Yet we do not lose hope. We do not give up. We do not hand ourselves over.

We choose instead to "cast off" that which entangles us. We cast off doubt, discouragement, fear, worry, anxiety. We choose to focus on that which is lovely. That which is good. That which is noble. In doing so we find that cancer loses its power over us and our ability to live really live life as God intended, bursts forth.

We find blessings in the small things of life...a kiss goodnight...a tender word...the touch of another reminding us that we are God's beloved...the soft nose of a dog burrowing into our palm...the beauty of a monarch butterfly moving among petunias...the power of a storm...the freshness of clean sheets...

We find ourselves surrounded by our family, friends, and community who become our "great cloud of witnesses". These are the ones who bear us up, providing care of every imaginable kind. These are the ones who see what we cannot see and remind us of what we have forgotten.

And thus we begin anew each day to run the race that is before us, the race that is "marked out for us". Unencumbered and free, hearts overflowing with gratitude, and persevering, we live our lives as God intended.

...lives marked by His presence, marked by His grace, marked by His beauty, marked by His goodness, marked by His blessings....

grace and peace....

photo credit: unknown

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Come Away

Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (Matthew 6:6)

Recently on You Tube I watched a sermon series by Henri Nouwen titled "Being the Beloved". One of the things he spoke of in his sermon was the need to be still, to be quiet, to be in "communion" with God. He challenged the audience to spend just ten minutes each day creating space in their lives by doing nothing.

Illness has a way of crowding into our lives. Our schedule revolves around doctors' appointments and medical tests. It has upended our normal routine. Each day we arise not knowing how we will feel, what kind of day we will have. We find ourselves thinking a lot about our illness. The day is often stolen from us before we know it. Many nights we go to bed with the realization that our day was consumed from sun up to sun down and we did not spend a single moment being still, being quiet.

What was so beautiful about Henri's message was its simplicity. It is so simple that we almost miss it! Spend ten minutes doing nothing in order to create a space for God. Space that is not crowded out by our thoughts, by outside media, by what we are reading, by how we are feeling. Life often clamors for our attention. What would change in our lives if we took ten minutes each day to simply be still?

...come away to a quiet place and get some still...let the world fall away and fall into the arms of God...

grace and peace...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Can You Believe It!

In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

It is hard to believe that in the midst of bad things happening around us and to us that there could be peace. That in the midst of heartbreaking sorrow, in the midst of a seemingly unbearable grief, there could possibly be anything that resembles calmness. But it happens.

In and of ourselves we don't possess the ability to do much but panic and worry when trouble finds us. Yet this verse from Luke's gospel tells us about the "tender compassion" of God that "breaks" upon us. There is something about the way this verse is written that makes me think about a compassion that doesn't just tap us politely on the shoulder but rather surprises and shocks us with its a ocean wave breaking over us in the surf.

Yesterday that tender compassion was found in a couple who took the time to ask, "How are things?" As I shared about the struggles Glenn and I face, there were tears welling up in my eyes. I could feel tender compassion flowing through my friends. I hadn't asked for it nor had the conversation started because I was looking for it. Rather, it was just there!

And so they became a conduit for the compassion of God. As my one friend pulled me into a hug, compassion broke over me like a giant wave. It was powerful and brought great peace. It lit up the darkness around me.

Unexpected compassion. Startling in its abundance. Powerful in its presence. Brilliant in the midst of darkness.

Can you believe it?

grace and peace...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

No More Goodbyes

...."He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Yesterday my brother and his family left to head back to their home. I know they have to go as they have jobs, a home, responsibilities, and other things that have rooted them in that place.

By far the greatest difficulty in living far away from family is the goodbyes. These stink! As the flurry of activity increases, one can't help but watch the clock tick down to the appointed departure time. We have spent enough to time together to become reacquainted, to be re-joined together and the pending separation tears that apart.

In our family leaving is almost always accompanied by tears...brave tears...tears that sometimes embarrass us...tears that sometimes frustrate us...tears that seem beyond our control.

I long for the day when there are no more tears. I long for the time when there are no more goodbyes but only joyous reunions. As I hugged my brother before he left, I whispered in his ear..."someday...someday....there will be no more good byes...".

One day heaven will be our only home. No more tears. No more crying. No more death. No more pain. No more mourning. That is a promise worth holding onto....

grace and peace...

Photo credit -

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Feeding the Fears

"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:27)

The truth is that whether we are sick or healthy, there is nothing we can do to add a single hour to our lives. So why do we persist in worry? Why do we feed our fears?

We want to be in control. We think we have to DO something. We worry when we don't know what else to do. Worrying attracts others, which feeds our ego. Not worrying requires vigilance on our part which is hard work.

We are in a phase of Glenn's treatment now that has many unknowns. The type of radiation, the length, the effectiveness are all unknown. The preparation results in his metabolism grinding to a halt which I am told akin to feeling like you have the flu. All of these factors provide the perfect climate for worry...for feeding our fears.

Paying attention to what we are thinking matters. Zig Ziglar says, "We all need a daily check up from the neck up to avoid stinkin’ thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes."
Worry is "stinkin thinkin". So what are we to do? The key is found in the words of James, chapter 1 verse 5...If you don't know what you are doing pray to the Father. He loves to help.

When we pay attention to our thoughts and catch ourselves "in the act" of worrying and offer a simple prayer of "Help", the cycle is broken. Now we may find ourselves doing this many, many times through out the's OK! There is no limit on asking God for his help!

In doing so we can let go of circumstances over which we have no control. We let the burden of worry and fear of the unknown slide off our backs.
In other words...we can stop feeding our fears...grace and peace to all...

(Admittedly there are some interesting (and sometimes provocative) photos on Facebook. This photo was posted on a friend's page but regrettably there was no credit listed. This is not my original work.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Outta My Kitchen!

True to his breed, Tucker the golden retriever adores his family. So much so that he can be terribly underfoot. When you combine his affection for family with his fondness for food, one can hardly move in the kitchen without bumping into him. He's quick too! Linger for just a moment with a morsel in your hand and he will go for it. Turn your back for just a second and what you had placed on the counter disappears. Soon my brother or sister in law has had enough and they shoo Tucker away with their hands and say..."Outta My Kitchen".
In a way I think God has said the same thing to me....when I have taken on worry over the future....when I work to orchestrate events in my life....when I meddle in things over which I have no control. For my own good, God has said..."Outta My Kitchen". He does not need my help...
As you do not know the path of the wind,
or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
The Maker of all things.
(Ecc 11:5)
Thank you for praying for us! Let us all remember to pray for others enduring hardship or suffering....grace and peace...cindy

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers,
   and under his wings you will find refuge;
   his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 

This is the second year that a webcam has been set up at an eagles' nest in Decorah, Iowa.  

I have to admit that I often check in to see what the eagles are doing.  One night as the female was sitting on the nest incubating her three eggs, something startled her.
She went into a protective pose, spreading her wings to protect her young.

When I saw this photo I couldn't help but think about Psalm 91 and being covered by His feathers.  It was a great visual for me. 

Right now G and I are being covered by His feathers as we seek refuge under his wings...  As we seek refuge in a place where we stay close to him and each other, waiting for a definitive diagnosis...  As we stay in a place of hope and courage about the future... As we stay seeking comfort from our family and from our community of faith.  We stay knowing that we are not alone, that we are safe, that we are in God's hands.

Stay isn't easy, but the knowledge that we have refuge under his wings gives us peace.  And with peace comes the ability to stay. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What is Mankind?

3 When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
   human beings that you care for them?
(Psalm 8:3-4)

A magnificent spring sky...the moon, Jupiter, and Venus lined up in a glorious array.  In this breathtaking beauty, I am reminded of Psalm 8.   The One who made the moon and the stars cares for us.  

When I started this blog, my intent was to declare the sacred that is imbedded in the ordinary.  But it wasn't going to be about my ordinary.  But I have been immersed into living something very ordinary and likely very with another who is ill.   
Today our journey a place where we pray for benign but realize it probably is not.  We pray for the best of two evils.  How in the world does one wish for one form of disease over another?  Last spring was supposed to be a "one and done"...diagnosis...treatment...cure.  But it is not to be.

And yet the sacred is there...right in the middle of the ordinary.  

The doctor who says, "We are praying for you"...

The congeniality among the hospital staff... 

The care assistant who brings me coffee as I wait for my loved one to be brought back...

The nurse who cracks jokes and then tenderly packs us into the car leaving us with the words, "I am praying for you"... 

The crucifix hanging on the wall in the hospital room as a reminder that Christ is watching over us.   

Ah Lord...what is mankind that you are mindful of us?  We are your magnificent creation! We are your beloved. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wounds or Scars?

The tree in this picture has a magnificent scar.  Today it is part of the character of that tree but at one time it was likely a gaping wound. 

Many of us rise each morning and face a life that marks us with scars as well. We may hear the words, "you have cancer" and battle its accompanying fears.  We might wrestle with discouragement created by the loss of purpose or financial struggles.  We may have worry and concern over children who have made poor choices or choose their own way.

Each of these events leaves a scar.  Sometimes we've been in this so long that we begin to see this life as "normal" and just the way it is.  Our scars just seem to be a part of who we are.  We become grizzled veterans, relying on our faith to carry us through.

Every once in awhile though, we make new friends who are sometimes appalled by the wounds we have...they see our earthly struggle in a fresh and raw way....we see it as simply wearing the evidence of battle.  For to us they are just scars marked by grace, courage, and the resolute faith reminding us that we are not alone. 

Soon it will be Good Friday and we will be reminded of how Jesus carries scars...of how he was wounded by life, for us.  

He was flogged. (Matthew 27:26)
Then he pardoned Barabbas. But he had Jesus whipped, and then handed over for crucifixion.
He wore a crown of thorns.  (Matthew 27:29)
They plaited a crown from branches of a thorn bush and set it on his head. 

He was nailed to a cross. (Matthew 27:35)
After they had finished nailing him to the cross...
He was pierced in the side. (John 19:34)
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

He too carries the scars that are evidence of a battle.  Scars that are marked by grace, by courage, by resolute faith in his Father.  Scars that are evidence that he is the victor. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Please Don't Help!

A recent surprise storm loaded the rhododendrons.  The branches were visibly weighed down with snow and ice.  Just one day prior, buds were beginning to peek through the foliage...a sign of things to come.  

I knew better than to go out and brush the snow from the foliage. The leaves would crack and groan under the  pressure of my well meaning hand.  Even armed with good intentions, a touch would cause more harm than good.  

Gradually the snow laden rhodies gave up their burdens as the warmth of the winter sun crept across their branches.  All they needed was a little encouragement from the breeze.  
Isn't that how many of us are when we are laden with worry and care? Rather than wait for the Son, we look for the help of another even though the help may cause damage and hurt.    We are impatient and want to give up our burdens the easy way rather than seeking his warmth that calls to us and beckons us to turn towards him.

Just as it is best for the rhododendrons to remain snow covered snow until it is melted by the sun, it is often best to allow our burdens to be melted by the Son, Jesus, to seek the relief that he offers.  

Jesus put it this way,  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  (Matt 11;23-8-30 NASB)

Peace to all of you who are burdened by troubles.  May you find the patience and courage to wait and turn towards the Son.        

Friday, March 9, 2012

Life Gets Up Ended!

The cupcakes looked amazing as the baker lovingly placed them into a custom fitted box.  Each cupcake had it's own little seat. How clever and how cute I thought! The lid was carefully taped shut, the box placed level in a bag and away I to finish my shopping at our local farmer's market.  

The cupcakes remained upright for perhaps five minutes at the most as I unknowingly sacrificed them to give a good friend a hug.  You see my friend was going through rough times and a hug was the best I could offer at that moment.  

So how do we handle being "tossed around" in life like those cupcakes?

We have choices...we can shake our fists in anger.  We can retreat to lick our wounds.  We can lash out at loved ones.  Or we can look at life with the attitude and say "it is what it is" and move forward by the grace of God.  We do get to choose our attitude even though we have no say in the circumstance.

Paul's letter to James puts it this way. 

 "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." (James 1:2-5 MSG) 

A friend  says that in life's hard times we must put on our "big girl faith panties" because suffering and difficulty will force our faith right out into the open for the world to see.    

Somehow in my journeying through the farmer's market, I finally remembered my lovely cupcakes.  Sure enough it was a full fledged cupcake disaster!  Even though I lovingly tried to upright them, there was no repairing what had happened, no going back in time, no do-overs.   So when I got home, I simply got out a fork.  It is what it is.  And they were delicious.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Length of Our Days

Sometimes the length of our days is measured by simple things.  For many of us when the time comes that we need a pill container, it is a sign that we are aging. It can help us keep track of what day it is or to remember if we even took our medications or not!  It is not a tool though that most of us welcome.  It is a reminder that we are finite, that our bodies are breaking down, that this is not forever. 

I am always encouraged that God has used people of all ages to accomplish his purpose here on earth.  Noah was eighty when he built the ark.  Sarah was over a hundred when she gave birth to Isaac.  Moses was eighty when he saw the burning bush.  

We are never too old to accomplish God's purposes in our lives.  His promises are not only for the young.  They endure throughout our lifetime.  They offer hope and a future for each of us.

 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Consider the Lilies or Crocus

This is the time of year when new life begins to spring forth.  The beauty of something fresh and green is a welcome sight this time of year.  But often it seems too early for the snow crocus to bloom...too early for their flowers to peek through the cold, damp soil.  And yet, their timing is always perfect.  Despite cold temperatures and random spring snows, they don't just exist, they thrive...throwing their brilliant colors towards the sky.

Just as the hint of spring shoots forth new growth from the earth, so the seasons of life provide opportunities something new.  Often the timing seems less than optimum.  There never seems to be a good time for sickness to strike, job loss to make itself known, or hardship to be experienced.  

Matthew chapter 6 beginning in verse 33 offers us some words of comfort declaring that if God cares for the ways of the wildflowers (think snow crocus) surely he cares for us in an even greater fashion.

  30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
 34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  (The Message)

We trust that each spring the snow crocus will burst forth.  Can we trust that as God cares for them, he will care for our needs?  Indeed we can...just consider the snow crocus.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Different Yet the Same

When I recently saw these rocks I thought about these things: they were rocks serving the same purpose, no rock was greater or better than another rock, and each rock was dramatically different from the other.  

Consider this parable from Jesus found in Luke 14: 7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (The Message Version)

These rocks served a common purpose by protecting the soil from erosion by rain.  Yet not one of them despite how they looked, was greater than the other.  They are equally important, serving a common function.  Not one called out seeking special attention or claiming a greater status than the other.  In some ways God's people are not so different... great in diversity, serving a common purpose, each one equal.  I would do well to consider the lesson that comes from these rocks. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

What exactly is a "Quotidian"?

quo·tid·i·an  [kwoh-tid-ee-uhn] an adjective

The every day...the ordinary...  

There is value in seeing the sacred in our everyday lives.  Often missed, small and ordinary things of our life contain rich treasures...but only if we are willing to slow down long enough to notice them.  It is the small things that reveal the greatest truth.  Jesus often noticed the small and marginalized people and things of the world and used them as a portal to help us understand the larger truths.   I hope to share the sacred that is imbedded in our everyday ordinary, walking around life.