Sunday, October 31, 2010


I have always been intrigued by the history and ancient customs that comprise the celebrations we have throughout the year...Halloween is one of the most interesting...

Ancient Origins of Halloween from The History Channel

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).

The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.

During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.

The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas

For more from this article, check here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


My daughter has been in the military for 8 years now. Fortunately for us, even though she has been overseas, she has not been assigned to active war zones. So, even though I understand the separation and anxiety...I don't know the cost of war. Many of us do not...we have not felt the affects up close and personal...this story is from WWII...and has been on-going lo these many years.

Franklin Hobbs III was a 21 year old corporal serving on Iwo Jima during the bloodiest days of the war. He took a letter from the pocket of a dead Japanese contained this picture:

and this drawing:

Recently they were returned to the daughters of the Japanese the story linked above and try to understand what it would feel like to finally get closure after a lifetime.

Friday, October 29, 2010

People and Church

The dynamics of relationships in a church setting can be misleading. I suppose everyone feels that within the confines of this building (since it is dedicated to God and Holy) we will all be on our best behavior and therefore no one will ever be hurt...physically, mentally or emotionally. It is a Utopian ideal. This is one place I can go and be safe.

While we all do what we can to keep this a place of safety...physically. Human nature can be much harder to control in the remaining areas...

People will be what and who they are...we just can't help ourselves. Even though we may try to enter this sanctuary and act accordingly, our human selves will out. If I choose to speak my mind or my heart, I will invariably hurt another. While I may not do this willfully or while I may do it in defense of another and while I may do it with what I perceive to be a heart of love, I cannot control how it will be received by another.

If we choose to wear our hearts on our sleeves, our hearts will be hurt or maybe even broken. If we choose to take all comments or critiques as a personal rebuke, we will spend much time in sorrow. I use the words “choose to wear” and “choose to take” purposefully. It is my choice. How I allow the thoughts or words of another to affect me is MY choice.

Most people within a congregation do not attend with the purpose of hurting others. Most of what is said and done is meant to be helpful, or at least instructive, or so we believe. I cannot control “other people”. I can control me...what I do with their words is completely within my power. Regardless of how a thought, word or action is meant...if I choose to receive them in love, I can completely remove their power to hurt.

From time to time I will forget and react in my human nature. But given time, I will hear the voice of God. He has given me the power to choose and He will give me the love and strength to follow through.

Or, as said by Catherine de Hueck Doherty in "Poustinia: Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man":
"As you know only too well, the divisions, arguments, and power plays that take place at meetings witness to the fragmentation of humanity. By your presence in love, you have to witness to how much time is wasted, how much selfishness is going on, how much greed there is for power, attention, and recognition…If by prayer you have received food from God, you should be give the oil of tenderness and the wine of compassion, first to each other, and then to everyone you meet. All this is done silently, in the secret places of your hearts."

Thursday, October 28, 2010


We humans are capable of some amazing feats of skill and daring! Don't believe me? Just watch...

Oh, and please, do NOT try this at home!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The little house that could...

One would not imagine that a tree house would cause issues but apparently this one did:

I'm glad to say the little house is still standing and the occupants couldn't be more more here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.
1 Corinthians 15:41

Even though we are small, we are gloriously so...and like the stars, each different from the other. We serve a marvelous God!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Twitter & the Nativity

This Advent season, Twitter users (and anyone with internet access), will be able to follow the "Natwivity"! The U.K. based Evangelical Alliance and a design company called Share Creative hope to bring the ages old story of Christ's birth to a new and modern media platform.

The characters will include...Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the 3 wise men and King Herod. Huw Tyler, of Share Creative, says: "We want to tell the Christmas story, an amazingly exciting story in a way that is not only accessible, but is fun and relevant to today's internet generation." They plan to offer fresh insight into what may have been the thoughts and feelings of the main characters...imagine, a twitter post from the shepherds when they meet the Angels!

If you are not a follower of Twitter, daily accounts can be read beginning December 1st through December 25, by logging on to:

The project also has a Facebook page here. The postings will be suitable for people of all ages! I, for one am interested in seeing what they have to say!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Surprise, Surprise...

After years of hype about the apocalypse occurring on December 21, 2012...the date could be wrong! A new critique "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World" argues that the conversion of the dates from the Mayan calendar to the modern calendar may be off by 50 to 100 years. And while they explain lots of calculations and what routes were taken to arrive at the date the bottom line is...they don't know when the world will end. And neither do we. As Jesus says in Matthew 24:36, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

We're not supposed to know, nor are we supposed to worry about it. What we are supposed to do is "be ready" all times. We are called to live each day as if it were our last...with love, compassion, peace and grace.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wondrous Creatures...

If we take a moment to observe the world around us we will be reminded that God has made some truly wondrous creatures...with amazing abilities...

This was filmed in Italy and I don't know exactly what kind of deer, sheep, antelope these animals are but to see them standing and eating around the rocks on this dam seems to defy gravity and a couple of other forces of nature...

There is a lesson about fear and trusting in the Lord somewhere in here...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Companion of the Souls

When the two disciples recognised Jesus as he broke the bread for them in their house in Emmaus, he "vanished from their sight" (Luke 24:31). The recognition and the disappearance of Jesus are one and the same event. Why? Because the disciples recognised that their Lord Jesus, the Christ, now lives in them ... that they have become Christ-bearers. Therefore, Jesus no longer sits across the table from them as the stranger, the guest, the friend with whom they can speak and from whom they can receive good counsel. He has become one with them. He has given them his own Spirit of Love. Their companion on the journey has become the companion of their souls. They are alive, yet it is no longer them, but Christ living in them (see Galatians 2:20).

Henri Nouwen

Friday, October 15, 2010


Since it's Friday and it's fall (my favorite time of year) and the weather forecast for the weekend is absolutely beautiful and the trees are really starting to turn and it's really busy what with the normal day to day living and all that it entails. Along with planning a meeting at the local Corn Maze for Sunday evening and Halloween party next weekend for the children. Then before you know it the holiday's are really on us. Looks like all the chicks + 1 (son's girlfriend) will be in the nest for Thanksgiving and what with planning for Advent and Christmas...I decided to offer this Satire by Craig Brown of the Daily Mail:

Things are as they are. Yet being what they are, they are also somehow different. And if things were not as they are, they could not continue to be what they both have been and will be. And consequently they--the things in question--will always be not only what they might have been, but also what they will be.

Here's to Friday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


My mother's mother...we called her Nanny...has been on my mind and heart lately. Although she passed away 25 years ago, from time to time I get nostalgic and spend time with her in my memories. A friend sent me an e-mail this morning that brought her back to me once again...

I don't think our kids know what an apron least not the “grandmother” kind.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few and because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons required less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven. When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls. In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes. In today's world, people would go crazy trying to figure out how many germs were on those aprons...I don't think I ever caught anything from my Nanny's apron, except love...

They're on their way up....

So far 10 of the 33 miners trapped 1/2 mile below the surface for 69 days have made their way up! They all seem to be in good health and the Chilean government is to be applauded for their all out efforts to care for and rescue them. They are estimating they will have Luis Urzua (the Shift foreman credited with keeping the men healthy and calm during their time below), the last man on the list, to the surface Thursday morning. Please continue to lift up prayers that the equipment will continue to function and that there will be no set backs.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

Monday, October 11, 2010


On August 22 of this year, workers found a note attached to a drill bit that had just been pulled to the surface...the note said "We are alive, well and waiting to be rescued". The note came from the men trapped in the San Jose Mine in Chile. They should all be on the surface again by the end of the week...after almost 2 months below.

But now there is a new dilemma...who comes up first? "I would like to illustrate what they are going through today with a conversation we had yesterday," Health Minister Jaime Manalich told a press conference near the mine.

"I questioned them and mentioned we were working on an order in which they would be brought out. I said the order would be determined by technical factors.

"And what was their reaction? 'Mr. Minister, that's fine but I want to go last please.' And then another guy said, 'No, my friend, I said that I was going to be the last one up.' 'No, no, really -- I want to go last, please,' another guy started saying."

What a commitment these men have made and share with one another! Knowing human nature I would have thought they would be disagreeing differently...that they would each want to be the first one out. The first to breath the fresh air, feel the sunshine, to touch loved ones...but no, these men have such a spirit of solidarity and commitment that they each want their friends to be first.

What a beautiful lesson! I pray that they will all have a safe journey to the surface and will be in good health. It's already obvious they are in good spirits!

Makeshift Altar near San Jose Mine

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Enough said...

from: "Dream for an Insomniac"

Saturday, October 9, 2010


There are many that will tell you that doubt is a sin. To doubt God imperils your immortal soul. If that's the case, then I guess I have been mislead...for the God I know...the God I believe in...the God I introduce to young people is very capable of accepting and acknowledging that we doubt. My impression is that He actually encourages it to a point.

Doubt is defined as: involves uncertainty or distrust or lack of sureness of an alleged fact. It encourages people to hesitate before acting and/or apply more rigorous methods.

I have had doubts...I may well have them again. I am at a point in my life that I do not doubt God's existence...I do not doubt His love for His creation...but I do doubt some of teachings and doctrines. Does that mean that I am better than you because I do not doubt the existence of our Heavenly Father? means I have been down that path and have come out on the side of faith.

Faith is the opposite of doubt. In Hebrews 11:1 we are told "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see". By exercising my faith and doubting when I do, I become stronger...I grow in knowledge about myself and my God. Doubt causes us to explore deeper, study harder. If I do not understand or do not like what I hear, I am obliged to search until I reach a conclusion.

Many thousands of pages have been written about faith and doubt by persons who are wiser than I. Given that, I cannot hope to adequately cover the subject with just a few lines in a blog...I can only state what I know. God loves me and like any Father is willing to let me stretch my wings until I am ready to fly.

I leave you with this:
If we are not allowed to doubt, why is this verse in Luke 11:9? "So I say to you, Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, know and the door will be opened to you" What other interpretation can we have of this?

Also, as only Asbo Jesus can:

Friday, October 8, 2010

First Man on Moon

A recent study shows that 1 in 5 British schoolchildren think that Buzz Lightyear was the first man on the moon. Now, while his most famous saying is "To infinity and beyond!" he wasn't even around when Neil Armstrong landed. Of course, neither were the fact, it has been more than 2 generations since those exciting times. The gap in their knowledge about historical events is somewhat disconcerting, but that's a discussion for another time.

I remember my parents waking me in the middle of the night so I could view the first moon walk. I sat mesmerised...and actually ran outside to see if I could see them! But these were the days when many programs were still broadcast in black and white...we only had three channels on the TV and they went off at midnight or before. You still had to dial your telephone and if you couldn't call someone, the telegraph was the fastest way to get a message out. Don't know about you, but at that time I believed that by 2010 we'd be travelling by time machine!

While technology has grown in ways and directions that most of us couldn't even imagine, it has, in it's own way, numbed our children to the wonder of imagination.
Knowledge and information is at their fingertips. They can find the answer to any question by simply going to any one of a number of search engines. Think about what kind of papers and reports you could have written had you had the Internet rather than the World Book Encyclopedia.

But back to imagination...they can view any event, look up any fact, listen to a book or read a synopsis...or better yet, in their minds anyway, watch the movie! I admit to being a lover of movies, they cannot be allowed to take the place of reading a book. Peter Jackson did a wonderful job of telling the story of "The Lord of the Rings" but any who have read these books knows that entire places, events and characters were left out of the saga. The fantastical images I saw in my mind while reading these books were a wonder!

It is my hope that we find new and creative ways to encourage our children to be not just voyeurs but participants in life. Instead of watching something happen, to run out and do it! I pray that as their brains are filled with knowledge, their bodies do not just wither away from lack of use. Let us help them build forts, explore creeks, climb trees, sail in imaginary boats and fight pirates. Buzz Lightyear is a great cartoon character...but he's not a hero!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hula Hoop Baby

This is really cute...but there's something to be learned here. Notice the first child is doing the hula hoop like it's supposed to be...and doing a great job! She steps away to share with a younger sibling.

As is to be expected, the younger child cannot maintain the hoop around the hips (doesn't even try)...just stands there and wiggles...what's important is what is happening in the background. Listen to the encouragement!

Now while I know we are to teach our children to perform tasks to the best of their ability...sometimes they just need to be cheered on from the sidelines. No matter that it's not perfect...they're trying! Let's not forget that children need to know they're loved and that we are proud of them, even if they are a little unconventional!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Stethoscope...

From a church in Abilene, TX...

Youth 2011

On the heels of yesterday's post...thought this was a great time to bring up Youth 2011...Our group is attending the gathering at say they are excited is a major understatement!

If anyone has questions or doubts about attending...please get in touch...I'd be glad to tell you of our experiences...This will be the 3rd one Becky (a Youth Volunteer Leader) and I have attended...Youth 2003, Knoxville, TN; Youth 2007, Greensboro,NC and now Youth 2011 at Purdue University!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Almost Christian II

I first spoke about "Almost Christian" by Kenda Creasy Dean here. I have since received the book and must admit she had my attention within 2 pages...

On page 4 she says, "...Since the religious and spiritual choices of American teenagers echo, with astonishing clarity, the religious and spiritual choices of the adults who love them, lackadaisical faith is not young people's issue, but ours." It continues, "So we must assume that the solution lies not in beefing up congregational youth programs or making worship more 'cool' and attractive, but in modeling the kind of mature, passionate faith we say we want young people to have."

I don't believe you can say it any plainer than that. The fault and the solution rests on our shoulders. And while, as Youth Director, I feel that part of the burden (please know it is a burden I have asked for and gladly carry) is mine it also rests upon the families of these young people too!

Anyone who has worked with youth can attest to the fact that it is generally easy to tell which youth come from families who take their faith seriously and those who 'entertain' it as something good, but not to be allowed to get in the way of other activities we feel are more important. Even in my small group, I know...because we are not a large congregation, I generally know even before they get to me. But what to do? How much weight does my word and life carry? How much impact do others within the congregation have with these new and developing Christians if there is no importance placed on it at home? Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting the time of the other young people who desire a life with Christ?

No...loving our neighbors as ourselves is the 2nd most important commandment according to Christ's teachings. So we do what we can to help and encourage them. But short of Divine intervention, what are the odds that we will change a lifetime spent where their spiritual life has not been emphasized? Granted, we will lose more than we keep but it's worth it if we can reach but one.

Today there is an alarming trend to send children to school to learn...with little or no reinforcement at home. When I mean learn, the teachers are expected to show them not only "reading, writing and 'rithmetic" but also discipline and manners. It is amazing how removed many of today's parents are from the lives of their young people!

I didn't intend to write this piece as a condemnation of all parents. Most are loving people. They try to provide all their children need and will fiercely protect them. But do they know the impact of their lukewarm faith? Do they know how hard they make it for their teenagers to grow and bloom as fully committed disciples of Christ? Perhaps, if enough of us speak out, they'll hear what we're saying.

I guess you noticed I titled this "Almost Christian II"...I smell sequel!

Too cute

Some may think this post is a waste of space but...every once in a while you just need to OD on cuteness...or at least I do...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Prayer Cloths

For many years, I have used different "tools" in my prayer life. Whether it is prayer beads, prayer shawl, icons, incense...they all serve to enhance the experience for me.

Imagine my surprise and joy at church yesterday when I found that part of the service was dedicated to prayer cloths. Every person chose a cloth as they entered the Sanctuary.

Each cloth had been knitted or crocheted by someone in the church. While they are make them, they pray for whomever may receive it. So essentially, there's a prayer in each stitch!

We were asked to hold the cloths in our hands and spend a few minutes in silent prayer for the person who would receive it from us (we traded them!)

The next few moments were spent trading with others. Some exchanged cloths just once but other cloths traveled through 3 or 4 different hands. Our Pastor asked us to continue the process until we felt we had received the cloth God intended for us.

Everyone left yesterday's worship service not only receiving God's grace through Holy Communion but armed with our cloths...knowing that they had been saturated with prayer. What a lovely know that each time hold our cloth when we enter into prayer, we do so with the love and blessings of others!

I'm sure there will be more mentioned about this at some point. Right now, I am to full to express everything in my heart.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

St. Jerome

Thursday was the feast day of St. Jerome...he is known for numerous works and acts but foremost for translating most of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). While many Protestants are hesitant to believe in Saints, there is something to be learned from them.

Method X puts it this way:
Saints are getting a lot of press these days. We moderns are intrigued by people who lived lives of virtue and moral excellence. They seem so different from the rest of us. Observing saints more closely reveals that they were ordinary people just like us. They struggled with anger, fear, doubt, inadequacies, boredom and depression. What set them apart was their life purpose. More than anything else, they wanted to know God. So despite their faults and frailties, they have much to teach us.

I receive e-mails from the Method X (linked in blue) website and more often than not, take a few moments to read about different Saints as they list their feast days. One fact that stands out more than any other, they were willing to endure pain, discomfort and many times cruelty for Christ. At one point, I stopped reading about them all together, for it made me feel inadequate. Not only do I not have to face what they did...I'm not sure I would have the strength if called. Thankfully, God was patient with me and after a while, I returned...While I have not taken the step of interceding to them, I have found there is much to learn from their teachings and their lives. Learning about the saints is not for everybody...but how do you know unless you try? Besides, you already know some of them...St. Peter, St. Matthew, St. Mark...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pie Jesu

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for "Pie Jesu" as arranged by Andrew Lloyd Webber and sung by Sarah Brightman but oh my, this arrangement by John Brunning and sung by "All Angels" is breathtaking...Take a few moments, close your eyes and soar: