Sunday, June 30, 2013

A blueprint?

Many see Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as a blueprint for human behavior. But to do so is to turn it into another form of legalism.

Jesus did not give us these words so that we could grit our teeth and fall into despair because we cannot follow His path to perfection. He gave it so that we could recognize the distance between ourselves and God. To become aware of the great chasm that is in that distance. It is given so that we may know that all humans stand on the same level ground before God. No sinner is worse than another. 

When we come to know that all have fallen short of the glory of God, we can rest peacefully knowing that God cradles us in His arms and covers us with His absolute Grace.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Food for thought:

In his book Sacrilege, Hugh Halter admonishes us to no longer use the word "discipleship". He says we should change it to "apprenticeship".

"Apprenticeship is not about morality, church attendance or sticking up for God. It's not about getting hired or fired by Donald Trump either. And as good as these things can actually be if done for the right reasons, it won't matter if you have a "quiet time" or are committed to a small group. It isn't important what denomination you're connected to or what translation of the Bible you like. It's not about giving money, being nice, avoiding alcohol, not cussing, or how long your daily prayer list might be. It's not about your end-times theology, whether or not you believe in a second baptism, or whether your pastor preaches exegetically or topically.

Biblical apprenticeship is about is about three things:
1. becoming just like Jesus
2. doing what Jesus did, and
3. doing the above with the types of people Jesus liked spending time with."

...Although none of these are easy, they are definite milestones. If you were able to say "I do that" to each of these, do you think you'd be worthy of the title "Christian"?

Friday, June 28, 2013


Everything in Christ astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Between Him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by himself...I search in vain in history to find those similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach the gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature, offer me anything with which I am able to compare it or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.                          Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Be still...

When you doubt the lovely silence of a quiet wooded place,

When you doubt the path of silver of some moonlit water space,

When you doubt the winds a'blowing, flash of lightning, glistening rain,

Sun or starlit heavens above you, on the land or bounding main,

When you doubt the sleep of loved ones, deep beneath some precious sod,

Listen to a soft voice saying, "Be still, and know that I am God".
                                by: Alicia Poole

Monday, June 24, 2013

Friendship and Life

In second grade, I found myself in a class with another boy who would turn out to be my best friend. Our friendship grew slowly throughout our school years. We attended different churches, but ended up in the same ecumentical youth group during our senior year. We went to separate colleges. I married halfway through while he remained single until a few years ago. Wherever my wife and I moved, whatever state we lived in my best friend always came to visit. His frequent flyer miles enabled he and I to travel to Europe and Africa. His career still requires him to be on the road spending many hours driving to meet with clients. Years will pass, now, until we are able to see each other, but cell phones enable us to converse quite often. At least once a month, my phone will ring and we'll have a long talk while he makes his way home. This year, we both turn 61. I trust him with my life.

 In her book, "Called to Be Friends," Paula Ripple begins her introduction this way:

     Christianity is based on the two great commandments which tell us that human beings can neither live nor grow in isolation. Without God's love we cannot discover who we are. Without the love and friendship of human companions we become less than we are. Without faithful companions we risk losing not only our courage, but even our way. 
     Of all the gifts that God gives to sustain and nourish our lives none can equal the presence of a faithful friend. No sacrifice is too great, no personal discipline too exacting, no struggle too painful to offer in exchange for the ability to give and receive friendship. Each investment that we make in one friendship enriches every other friendship. All of human experience and all of life is somehow related to our ability to call another "friend."

Forty-one years ago, I married my closest best friend. She is my life. That's a whole different story. I do believe our closest friendships bring us closest to God.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


I have been quite disturbed by the reaction of many concerning the recent ruling by the BSA concerning gay scouts. Instead of seeing this as a wonderful opportunity for everyone to learn tolerance, it has not gone as well as I had hoped. But...

I love it when God uses the animal kingdom to "put us in our place"...

I read an article today about puppy being rejected by its mother. When Noland (the puppy) was only 1 day old, he was taken to the Cleveland Animal shelter without his mother. Now even in the best of circumstances, without a mother, his chances for survival are not high. But the people at the shelter were willing to try everything they could...and found the most unlikely of allies...a mama cat!

They introduced Noland to Lurlene (mama cat) and her litter of 4 nursing kittens and amazingly Lurlene welcomed him as one of her own. To quote the shelter, "They're now one happy family"! It's still touch and go and Noland is not out of the woods yet, but his chances are much better than they would have been!

When we think of species who do not like one another, cats and dogs rank high on the list. But in this instance, the mothering instinct was stronger than anything. Why is it we humans, who have the ability to think, rationalize, communicate, adapt, grow and learn, have such a hard time with tolerance. Why must we fear? Why must we assume someone who is not like "us" is wrong just because of their difference?

Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-9)...He didn't turn away, He didn't run her off. Despite their differences and generations of hatred, He MET her at the well...why can't we?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice!

If you live in the US, it's already happened...the sun has reached the northern most point in the sky resulting in the longest day of the year (actually this occurred in the middle of the night where I live). Regardless, today is technically the 1st day of summer! 

This photo by Thierry Legault shows the International Space Station as it crosses the face of the sun!

Of course, thousands gathered to welcome the sun this morning at Stonehenge. Although scientists and anthropologists are still not certain why it was built, the alignment on the solstices would be something to see (yes, I would love to be there!).

 In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the winter solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of summer solstice.

 In North America, many Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Usually performed during the June solstice, preparations for the dance included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night). (information found here)

However you choose to celebrate the day, it most certainly tells those of us who live in the "Sunny" South that hot and muggy days are ahead. It's probably a good time to locate a good place to go swimming when the heat becomes unbearable. Happy Solstice!

Christian Unity....

We Catholics should pray together,” Pope Francis said in his Wednesday audience, “but we should also pray together with other Christians.”
This is a message every Christian should take to heart. We don’t have to give up our doctrinal differences to know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life. The most important thing is that we put Him at the center. When we do that, the differences we think are so important fade into the background where they belong.
We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christians. That makes it all the more important for Christians to support and stand by one another.
- See more at:
We Catholics should pray together,” Pope Francis said in his Wednesday audience, “but we should also pray together with other Christians.”
This is a message every Christian should take to heart. We don’t have to give up our doctrinal differences to know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life. The most important thing is that we put Him at the center. When we do that, the differences we think are so important fade into the background where they belong.
We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christians. That makes it all the more important for Christians to support and stand by one another.
- See more at:
We Catholics should pray together,” Pope Francis said in his Wednesday audience, “but we should also pray together with other Christians.”
This is a message every Christian should take to heart. We don’t have to give up our doctrinal differences to know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life. The most important thing is that we put Him at the center. When we do that, the differences we think are so important fade into the background where they belong.
We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christians. That makes it all the more important for Christians to support and stand by one another.
- See more at:
“We Catholics should pray together,” Pope Francis said in his Wednesday audience, “but we should also pray together with other Christians.”
This is a message every Christian should take to heart. We don’t have to give up our doctrinal differences to know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life. The most important thing is that we put Him at the center. When we do that, the differences we think are so important fade into the background where they belong.
We live in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christians. That makes it all the more important for Christians to support and stand by one another.
- See more at:
As time passes, I am more and more impressed with Pope Francis. His words and his actions show the image of a man in touch with and in love with God.

After first stopping to give a child a baseball hat to shield him from the sun, the Pope said
in an address this week, "If the head is separate from the body, a person cannot survive. It is the same for the church. We must stay intensely connected to Jesus. The church is not a cultural or political institution, it is a living body with Christ as the head. " He also stated, "We Catholics should all pray together but we should also pray with other Christians. We must pray so that God may grant us unity."

He noted that we live in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christians. This makes it all the more important for Christians to support and stand by one another.

From day 1 he has shown himself to be a unique and humble person. One worth listening to...

There is more here...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where are you really from??

Just for fun:

I ran across an article concerning the etymological names connected with cities and states. 

I now know my mother's family are from "North Freewoman's Land"; my father's family are from "Land of the River" and "Land of the Great River"; my grandson was born in the "Blooming Land"; my next grandchild will be born in "Land of the Red People".

If the name of your state gets you down, keep in mind that Mexico translates to "Navel of the Moon"!

From Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust:

The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings,
of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles, Canada and the United States.

For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated,

the Atlas gives you "The Tawny One", derived from Arab. es-sahra “the fawn coloured, desert”.

The 'True Names' of 3000 cities, countries, rivers, oceans and mountain ranges

are displayed on these four fascinating maps,
each of which includes a comprehensive index of derivations.
Etymology, (OGr. etymon “true sense” and logos “speech, oration, discourse, word”)
is the study of the origin and history of words.

For the first time, the Atlas of True Names uses etymology to give us an unusual insight
into familiar geographical names – with intriguing results......

Once the names have been taken back to their roots and translated into English,
it is immediately apparent that our world has an extraordinary affinity with Middle Earth,
the mythical continent where the events of Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ are played out.

Middle Earth’s evocative “Midgewater”, “Dead Marshes” and “Mount Doom”
are strikingly similar in nature to Europe’s “Swirlwater”, “Darkford” or “Smoky Bay”,
as revealed by the Atlas of True Names.

Many geographical names are clearly rooted in Man’s observation of his natural environment;
the physical location of a settlement: “At the Foot of the Mountain” – Piedmont,
the character of an important water course: “The Gentle One” – The Seine
or even just the local vegetation: “Under the Oaks” – Potsdam.

Unsurprisingly, countries and landscapes

often derive their names from the characteristics
of the people who lived there: “Great Land of the Tattooed” – Great Britain,
whilst local mythology and regional rulers also frequently leave their legacy:
“Isle of the Monster’s Eye” – Peleponnese or “Illustrious Emperor” – Zaragoza.

Sometimes, it is impossible to deny the force of the Roman proverb

‘nomen est omen’.
For instance Grozny - the Chechnyan capital which,

over the last years, has been destroyed in so many wars,
– translates as “The Fearsome”.

The Atlas of True Names restores an element of enchantment

to the world we all think we know so well.
It takes the reader on a journey into the unknown –
a unique exploration of uncharted territory

in that familiar place we all know as ‘home’.

Take a look at the world through fresh eyes!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sometimes we all need a laugh...

Who can resist this???

There are some sounds in this world that are just meant to make you feel good, this has to be one of them!

Critical Events

Life is God's initiative and can end or change suddenly, unexpectedly, and unpredictably. When we humans are ready to give up hope and resign ourselves to inevitability, God intervenes and reveals completely new beginnings. The resurrection of Jesus is God's sign breaking through every form of human fatalism and despair. In every critical event, there is an opportunity for God to act creatively and reveal a deeper truth than what we see on the surface of things. God also can turn around critical incidents and seemingly hopeless situations in our lives and reveal light in darkness.

Henri Nouwen

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sacred Mystery

Have you ever experienced a "sacred mystery"? One of those moments when your rational mind cannot understand what your whole being knows to be the absolute truth?

Perhaps you were raised in a situation that is outside what society deems "normal"...being raised by grandparents or living with an older with parent(s) who suffer from depression or addiction to name a few.  You are the product of your environment. 

I have always leaned toward the "nurture" side of the "nature vs. nurture" debate. You would not be who / what you are today without those who cared for you when you couldn't care for matter how flawed they may have been.

The moment you begin to see their influence on your actions / reactions can be a sacred mystery. Instead of blaming them for things gone wrong, you recognize how much they did right.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My walk...

My parents rarely attended church, so I had little contact with it growing up. When I was with one grandmother, she would take me to her Baptist church and when I was with the other I attended "Home Services" which were Church of God. We lived in southern Mississippi for a while and I had several friends who took me to Catholic services. Oh, and before we married, my husband introduced me to the United Methodist church! Needless to say, although I didn't have a complete understanding of any of these denominations, I had a wide variety of experiences.

I am happy to say that the UMC was the place I needed to be and many of their core beliefs are very dear to me. But, this background must be the reason I feel so comfortable incorporating aspects from other faiths in my walk with God.

My prayer beads are always with me and have helped me ease into prayer whenever I am struggling. I hold them any time I am part of an act of worship and just touching them brings me peace when I am troubled.

I love to spend time in quiet contemplation as I walk a labyrinth. Putting one foot in front of the other as I move to the center and back out again has been the source of more than one revelation.

Making the sign of the cross is not a particularly Protestant act, but seems to be the perfect ending to time spent in prayer or a quick way to bring my thoughts into focus when I'm in distress.

Gazing at Icons, using candles, praying the Hours (I love this but fail miserably to do it with regularity), meditating, lectio divina and time spent in retreat have all benefited me in my walk. 

Does that mean I'm not a faithful member of the United Methodist Church? Personally, I think I am. And, although I haven't read it cover to cover, I can't find anything in the UM Discipline that tells me otherwise.
Despite what many think, none of the things I do are new. All were practiced by the early church and have slowly been relegated to this denomination or the other, or forgotten altogether.

While I am not advocating that you do as I do, I would encourage you to keep an open mind. An open mind will lead to an open heart.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


In light of the recent devestation caused by tornados and flooding, I am linking to a post concerning the United Methodist Chuch's response to such...UMCOR (United Methodist Council on Relief)...
The author can give the information far better than I...

Theology behind disaster relief....

Find this story here....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How do you say it?

Follow this link to 22 maps to see that although we're all connected as one nation, we tend to pronounce certain words differently!

It only takes a few minutes and you might be surprised what you discover...

Friday, June 7, 2013


To pray is to take notice of the wonder, to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return for the mystery by which we live….

Amidst the meditation of mountains, the humility of flowers wiser than all alphabets–clouds that die constantly for the sake of God’s glory–we are hating, hunting, hurting. Suddenly we feel ashamed of our clashes and complaints in the face of the tacit glory in nature.
                        Abraham Heschel

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Remembering eloquence...

I was very young when President John F.Kennedy was assassinated. So young that my only memory of the time was my mother's reaction. She was driving and I was in my usual position...standing behind her right shoulder (don't fuss, this was before seat belts became common), and we were listening to the radio. I heard the announcement, but it made no impact as death was something I had not yet experienced. But my mother pulled to the side of the road and cried. I'm not sure why...perhaps it was the loss of such a vibrant president who had such radical ideas, perhaps it was the thought of his young family, perhaps she cried for our country but it's very possible she cried for all three.

When Robert F. Kennedy was campaigning for President, I was 5 years older. I was still too young to really understand the political process or have any political leanings. But I watched everything televised about him, I was responding to the man I perceived him to be.

For those who have heard him speak, you know that he was most excellent at extemporaneous speaking. He often included poems and quotes that made even my young mind curious. I don't think I'll ever forget the speech he made when Martin Luther King, Jr. (another great man who excited my love of words) was assassinated. In just a few short minutes, he was able to pull together an impressive tribute. Think of how it must have been for him, to re-live his own trauma at the slaying of his brother less than 5 years before, and then to manage a message that was both wise and reassuring.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I'm only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some -- some very sad news for all of you -- Could you lower those signs, please? -- I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.
Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it's perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black -- considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible -- you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.
We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization -- black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.
For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with -- be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.
But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.
My favorite poem, my -- my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.
So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King -- yeah, it's true -- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
And let's dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.
Thank you very much.

Bobby Kennedy was able to quote from a favorite poem and express the raw grief and crushing despair of the moment. Truly this was the benefit of a quick and gifted mind that was well-educated, but there had to be something in the man’s character, too. Something that allowed his thoughts to move toward what was good not for his party, or his own benefit, but for the country. And in doing so, may well have quelled the desire of many to respond to violence with violence and quite possibly prevented rioting, bloodshed and more tragedy. All this by the virtue of his words.

Today is the 45th anniversary of his death. Requiescant in pace!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Stay Young...

How to Stay Young

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.
People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
Years wrinkle the skin but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.

Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair . . .
these are the quick equivalents of the
long years that bow the head and turn
the growing spirit back to dust.

Whether 70 or 16, there is, in every being’s heart the love of
wonder, the sweet amazement of the stars, and the star-like
things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events,
the unfailing childlike appetite for “What Next?”

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt,
as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear,
as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

So long as your heart receives messages of
beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from
the earth, from man and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When all the wires are down, and all the
central places of your heart are covered with
the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism,
then, and only then, are you grown old indeed,
and may God have mercy on your soul.

Samuel Ullman

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Feel like a little rejection?

Jesus, the only Son of God, is persecuted. Even now, 2,000 years after the death of His physical body. 

 He who is poor, gentle, mourning; He who hungers and thirsts for righteousness; He who is merciful, pure of heart and a peacemaker is not welcome in this world. The Blessed Son of God is a threat to the established order and a source of constant irritation to those who consider themselves the rulers of this world. 

Without  accusing anyone, He is considered an accuser. Without condemning anyone, He makes people feel guilty and ashamed. Without judging anyone, those who see Him feel judged. In their eyes, He cannot be tolerated and needs to be destroyed because letting Him be seems like a confession of guilt.

When we want to become like Jesus, we cannot expect to always be like and admired. We have to be prepared to be rejected.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Do people know who you are?

When people find that you're a Christian, are they surprised? Can they tell by your words and deeds that you have found joy in your life or do you follow the "I'm a Christian so I can't have fun" stereotype? Do you spend all your time thinking of the things you cannot do?
The happiest people on earth ought to be those of us in God's service. And we ought to look like it. We have every reason to smile more than anyone else. Even though our work is terribly serious, we ought to have more fun and have a better time doing it than anybody. Why would we not enjoy life? For whom do we live it? 
Those who look as if they've just finished their last piece of bread do not minister very effectively. We really don't need to spend all our time on the negatives of life; there are enough heart-breaking experiences to go around for all of us. Who wants to follow a God who is perceived to be standing over us hand on His hip, shaking His finger? If God does not want us to be happy creatures, why would He have provided us with food, drink, books, music, friends and all the beauty in the world? On top of all the wonderful things to be found in our world He also offers us the opportunity to be in communion with Him? One on one. We can't allow ourselves to get so wrapped up in daily life that we forget the gifts.

I don't mean to sound like life is always easy if you're a Christian...we do not have an easy calling. God holds us to a higher standard but He is also a loving guide who is always there to help us through the hard times and offer us joy, His joy. What more could we want?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Be Open

This is a excerpt from a sermon Nadia Bolz Weber preached in Nashville, TN at the Festival of Homiletics. Having read her blog for quite some time, I really wanted to go and hear her live but it didn't work out. I'm really glad she posts them! You can read the entire post here...

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.  -Mark 7

...Because when Jesus showed up in Decapolis and THEY brought him the deaf man, Jesus didn’t play into the whole “we’re fine but here’s the broken guy” thing – instead he took the deaf man away from the THEY. He removes him from that whole system of designated well people and designated sick people. And then, Jesus, in yet another example of having obviously failed his boundaries workshop in seminary,  sticks his fingers in this man’s ears and spits and touched his tongue and then looks to heaven and the text says he sighed. Of course he sighed.  He was probably sick to death of this nonsense.  He looked to heaven and sighed. And the thing is, Jesus didn’t then rebuke the man or his deafness…he didn’t say I cast out the demon of deafness.  He just removed him from the supposedly well people, touched him, looked to heaven, sighed and said “BE OPEN”.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Just 15 things...

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? You'll find the list here...
Although I must admit, it's easier said than done!