Friday, February 27, 2009

Quote of the Week ~ Things of the World

I am spending time in my daily devotion with John of the Cross. Here is a thought I found appropriate for Lent:

Divine Wisdom speaks, here, to all those who are attached to the things of the world. She tells them that she is dealing with great things, not small things, as they are. The riches and glory they love are with her and in her; not where they think. Lofty riches and justice are present in her. Although in their opinion the things of this world are riches, she tells them to bear in mind that her riches are more precious, that the fruit found in them will be better than gold and precious stones, and that what she begets in souls has greater value than cherished silver, which signifies every kind of affection possible in this life.

~ John of the Cross

Isn't it our constant struggle not to be attached to the things of the world? This struggle is part of my motivation for undertaking a weekly fast during Lent. I haven't figured out exactly what form my fast will take, but any kind of fast is going to be hard for me! I'll keep you updated and let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Life Insurance

Yesterday Gary and I did a very grown-up thing. We took out a life insurance policy. It isn't as if we came up with the idea ourselves, though. We were alerted to a special offer through our benefits provider. Yet, instead of letting the opportunity pass by, we decided to take advantage of it.

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that this all happened at the beginning of our Lenten Journey when we hear the words, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."

As partners and parents, Gary and I have to acknowledge that we are not going to live forever. Life insurance helps us plan for that, and that's important. Yet spiritual planning is just as important as practical planning. It is also a very grown-up thing to recognize that we are created as mortal beings, loved by God with a finite time on earth. How do I want to spend that time? What is most important to me? How does my life reflect that? These are the questions I will be focusing on during this season of Lent.

What about you? What is your Lenten preparation?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quilt

My Grammy Dot died about 10 years ago. She was a quilter. She made some beautiful pieces and I am blessed to have some of them in my home. When she died, though, she left several projects unfinished. I ended up with one of them.... a pink, white, and blue 'wedding ring' quilt top. All these years my plan has been to finish it myself. My mother offered to help me. But this year it dawned on me. "Who am I kidding? I'm not a quilter! And during the brief visits my mom and I share during the year, we're not going to want to quilt!" So I came up with Plan B.

Every Tuesday a group of women meet at the church to quilt. I've watched them make several quilts over the years and they are always absolutely gorgeous. They usually sell the quilts at the church fair and donate the money toward mission. This fall, as they were finishing up their latest quilt, it occurred to me to ask them if they had another project lined up. When they said no, I asked them if they would be interested in taking on something a little different! They were happy to be asked and thrilled when they saw the beautiful quilt top my Grammy had begun.

Now, every Tuesday, I get to see the progress they are making on the quilt. I'm so pleased that the donation I make will go entirely to missions and that I will, finally, be able to enjoy this quilt that has spent the last 10 years in my closet. I'm also happy that this quilt will not only hold good memories of my Grammy Dot, but also memories of the kind and generous quilting ladies at South UMC!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quote of the Week ~ Suffering

Suffering is not God's desire for us, but it occurs in the process of life. Suffering is not given to teach us something, but through it we may learn. Suffering is not given to punish us, but sometimes it is the consequence of our sin or poor judgment. Suffering does not occur because our faith is weak, but through it our faith may be strengthened. God does not depend on human suffering to achieve his purposes, but sometimes through suffering his purposes are achieved. Suffering can either destroy us or it can add meaning to our life.

~ Quoted from Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White by Adam Hamilton. Hamilton cites it as coming from an unidentified church newsletter.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine Surprise


Imagine my surprise on Valentine's Day when I opened these M&M's! The picture is of Gary and me when we were in California. "Meow" is from Zeke, of course and "Woof" is from Nicky. "Voof" is not a misprint, but rather the German translation for Bady :>)

What a nice Valentine treat... and they taste good, too!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Swimming Lessons

On Friday, Katie took me swimming! She's had several lessons so far, so she wanted to teach her "Auntie Krista" everything she knows. It was so much fun! Check out the link to see all about it.

Swimming Lessons
(It may take a few minutes to load.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five ~ Pet Edition

RevGal Sophia writes: My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her beloved Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love.

So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.

As I sit writing this, I am surrounded (literally) by three of the best pets one could ask for. Bady (our German Shepherd) is snoozing on his mat. Nicky (our Border Collie) is pacing around the room, as usual. And Zeke (our kitty) is perched atop the living room chair. Each of my "boys" have been an important part of my journey. Zeke was there (with my bunny, Raisin) through my years of seminary and my first experience of living alone. Nicky came to me during my first year at my first church ~ full of energy, filling a lonely house with his presence. Bady is the newest arrivial and my constant companion ~ in the house, in the car, at the church, making visits, by my bed.

Since I was five years old, and we brought our money cat Abby home from the pound, I have always had a furry friend (or two or three). Abby was a dignified soul who didn't quite appreciate the antics of a five year old. Not long after, though, Fluff was adopted ~ a little puff of yellow fur who liked to play with me and attack her sister. I give thanks for all my animal friends, past and present. My condolensces go to Songbird at the loss of Molly. While I know there are many who would challenge my theology.... I firmly believe that all dogs (and cats and lizards and rabbits) go to heaven.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Wish

This afternoon, as I got into the Jeep to head home, I had a thought. It was fleeting, but the essence of it was: "I wonder if I will get a Valentine from Gram today?" Of course, Gram has been gone for more than four years now. I miss the notes and cards she would send throughout the year ~ and always on Valentine's Day. She would buy a "Hallmark" card, but embellish it with stickers and drawings and her own verse. Here's a poem I found in her journal, written for Valentine's Day 1994.

Quietly

(Valentines Day 1994)

As quiet as snow falling
Or fog filling the valley
Still as a burning candle;
As a butterfly in flight,
As a vine seeking to cling.
Quiet as a seed breaking the ground
Is the feeling of being loved.

The years have gone by fast and it is still hard, at times, to believe that there will be no more Valentine's or Birthday Cards and notes 'just because.' Yet I know that she taught me something about the feeling of being loved, and for that I am thankful.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Winter Run

Bady and I just got back from a run. Well, what I consider running is more like fast walking for him. He may just barely break into a trot. But in any case, after living in couch potato land for the past couple months, it feels good to get moving again. The weather this winter has not been conducive to outside activities... at least the kind that I enjoy. Too much snow. Too much ice. But today and tomorrow and Sunday are looking good, so I am going to try to break through my inertia and get out there.

As much as I hate to admit it, I actually like running. Last summer, when I was in a very dark place, running was one of the things that helped me break through and begin inching forward. Running makes me feel strong and confident. God gave me not just a mind, but a body that can do things like run and jump. I just have to remember to use it so it stays limber and active... So that's what I am going to do!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Quote of the Week ~ Consumption

John Woolman was a layperson who stood up to his fellow Quakers on issues of slavery, poverty, and the just treatment of all people. He was particularly concerned for those whose voice was not heard in general society. He traveled widely, for his day, with the intention of spreading his message. He often found himself in situations where he had to wrestle with his beliefs and the conventions of his day. If he found the only place of lodging was in a home that owned slaves, he would find a way to compensate the slaves for their labor while talking to the residents about the incompatibility between faith and slave ownership.

In 1964 he wrote a pamphlet called Empathy. In it he speaks of the injustice of consumption. As the rich demand more and more for less and less money, the poor, who provide these goods and services, suffer. I thought this essay was applicable some 200+ years later. As Americans who consume, consum, consume, what is our consumption doing to our planet and our fellow human beings who work for little pay so we can have the stuff we want? Are we willing to sacrifice a little for the sake of all?

But consider the condition of those we are depressed in answering our demands and labor for us out of our sight while we pass our time in fullness. Consider also that much less than we demand would supply us with things really useful. What heart will not relent? How can reasonable people refrain from easing suffering of which they themselves are the cause, when they may do so without inconvenience?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pinewood Derby

Yesterday I blessed the Pinewood Derby. It was my third time doing this. Boy Scout, Cub Scout, and Girl Scout Troops all use our building, but the Cub Scouts are the only ones who regularly request a pastor's presence at their events. The Pinewood Derby is fun, and I am glad to attend (besides the fact it involves getting up and dressed before 9am on a Saturday), but I never know quite what to say for a blessing.

This year I did the usual ~ asking God's to be with us and bless the Cubs and their leaders. However, I wonder if there is a more meaningful ministry I could offer. Many of the Cubs and their families are unchurched. Hope do I reach beyond the usual and offer them some hope while still making them feel welcome in our building, whether they attend worship or not?

Any thoughts on ministry to Scouting families ~ whether they be Boy, Girl or Cub Scouts? Any suggestions for next year's Pinewood Derby blessing.... or the Blue and Gold Breakfast blessing coming up next month!?