Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Waiting for Jesus

Jonah is so disappointed that he can't hear God's voice these days. "Why doesn't God talk so we can hear him better?" he asks me over his breakfast toast. My only answer is that I don't really know. Explanations about listening to God's word through the words and actions of God's people don't quite cut it in the 5 year old brain.

What are you wanting to hear from God? Jonah wants a full tank of gas for the van, Miriam wants to see baby Jesus, I'm waiting for the traditional "Well done, good and faithful servant." Wait, wait, wait, maybe that's why Black Friday can be so spiritual; we all hurry up with great anticipation of savings and then we wait....

Today's Psalm 79 includes:
"Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and forgive our sins,
for your name's sake.
Why should the nations say,
"Where is their God?"
Why should the nations ask where God is? Why do children long for the voice of their friend and comforter? Why do we look for God in malls and online, and forget to look in the manger?

The deliverer is coming. We will be saved, not from high prices, but from our sins. We will be delivered, not out of rising mortgages and health insurance premiums, but out of the despair and hopelessness of and God-empty life. We will receive help, from a baby in a manger, who dies on a cross with arms outstreched: "I love you."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give Thanks, With a Greatful Heart

This year I give thanks for

Life, love, and a warm house
one husband, three kids, and two cars
big families, church families, and foster kids
warm snuggles, sweet apples and dirty toes

purple beans, red tomatoes and fresh strawberries
muddy jeans, backyard swings and bathtub rings
old farms, license plates, and grandpa's arms
lawn mowers, snow throwers, and gas that's lower

a letter from an old teacher
a call from a new school
non-stop flights from Vancouver
Facebook, blogger, flickr and Yahoo!

black dog, new shoes, warm coats
new babies, wet clay, lakes
grey cats, typewriter keys, camera screens
life, love, and good food


Thursday, November 20, 2008


It's what I do in my spare time! Pretend to be a tree for Kindergarten classes! OK, it's not my spare time, it's my day job at the moment, and I love it! Sometimes I do the Resource Teacher thing, and sometimes I am a "regular" sub. This photo was taken in Jonah's class, but he's not in the picture. (sorry grandma!) Click on the post title to see the story in the paper or here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ah, this is the day we longed for!

At last it has come! Lines are forming in front of churches all over and people can't wait to get in! Prayers are rising up from all corners of our nation, and around the world.

Oh, yea, did I forget to mention that they are lining up to vote. It's a strange twist in the separation of church and state to think that so many people will enter into their local church for the first time ever... New voters are turning out in droves. I'm sure the prayers are rich too. Prayers for this candidate and that one, and prayers of desperation for making the right choice among so many sordid choices. In this mud smeared campaign year, it's hard to see anyone for all the accusations.

This morning's Bible reading; Lamentations 2:13-17 is all about the kind of deceptive visions that have filled our airwaves in the last few months.
Your prophets have seen for you
false and deceptive visions;
they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes,
but have seen oracles for you
that are false and misleading.
Lamentations is full of this depressing stuff. But the end note is that no matter how desperate the situation seems, God is still there, loving us. We can listen to false prophets and watch our world be destroyed by war, flood, and neglect, but God does not desert us. So as you enter your local polling place, go confident that your prayers will be heard!

your vote is your voice!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A face we can love

Roald Dahl is one of my new favorite authors. His book, The BFG, had my 4 year old rolling on the floor laughing. His way with words is ripsnortingly hilarious. Then sometimes he gets fairly philosophical. In The Twits, he tells the story of two people, the Twits, who are mean and ugly:
If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.

On the other hand, he talks about the kind of person we all hope to know.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.

Of course the rest of the story is just silly funny. Like many good authors, Roald has a great understanding of people and the way we act and think. He also puts into words the way we think about other people.

So, don't be a twit!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I believe I can fly

A good frost and a stiff wind knocked the leaves off our trees today...A Time for Everything
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.

Ecclesiastes 3

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A taste of the feast to come

My cousin shot this image of white pine cones in the moss in the wilderness of the boundary waters. Dave was trying to give us a glimpse of an overwhelming vibrant green landscape.

This morning I had a glimpse of an overwhelmingly vibrant future feast. A mouthful of bread and a sip of wine contained within a worship service, a foretaste of the feast to come.
Morlock Photo a Day: 9/28/08 - 10/5/08

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Father's Hands

I visited my parents this weekend, and my Father "helped" me with a project. Ok, he did the project, and I took pictures. His hands are beginning to look like the hands of his father.
This is my dad: working, creating, helping! Thanks be to God for Dad!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fruits of Faith

So.. for you, a parable that I keep hearing on the news:

The master set up a banking system that was fair, and just, and gave those who needed it access to credit enough to buy their own homes. And she put restrictions in place, and she set up the public institutions that would help honest, hardworking people, and allow for modest profit for the managers. But the managers took the profits and inflated them, using them for their own gain. They took great risks that encouraged people to borrow money they would not be able to pay back, and they inflated the cost of homes without bound. 
The Master’s plan was unrecognizable, and the hardworking people were suffering greatly. Many who had bought homes with great faith in the Master’s plan were suddenly without work and without a home.

And the master sent in servants to reclaim the system and the managers chewed them up and spit them out. So the Master sent her son to challenge the lazy managers and they killed him and tore down all the walls and safeguards that the Master had built. And when the system would no longer bear up under the strain of bad debt and unwise investments the managers cried to the Master “Save us!”

What therefore should the Master do to the Manager?
  • “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Matt. 21:40
Now is the time to be the good tenants! To build up the walls, tear out the weeds and re-dig the winepress that the Master built.  See Matthew 21:33-46.  Don't worry about who the bad tenants were, or might be, it leads to a far too political and judgemental reading of the parable.

Get out there and be the Good Tenant and press on with the Master's Plan!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Road Signs

Lead me in the path of your Commandments, for I delight in it. Ps. 119:35

Ever since I moved to Minnesota, there has been one intersection that has been under construction. "Unweave the Weave" is the friendly name for the three year project to reconstruct the intersection of 35E and 694. I don't think I ever drove the same route through that particular knot twice. It has been an exercise in reading road signs to get where one wants to go. 

Once I would have railed against the machine that puts up all the detour and road closed signs. I truly believe that I-35 through Oklahoma City was under construction for 10 years straight, all in an attempt to slow down our family trips to Grandma's house!

Then the construction began on the intersection near my home, the one I always take off of I-35W. This intersection was a hassle turning left, because of a lack of lights and enough travel lanes across the bridge. So when things slowed down as the city added two more lanes to the bridge (actually building a whole new bridge in two parts) and putting up signal lights, I was thrilled. 

I really didn't mind all the cones and barrels. I was pleased to see the "road closed" signs when it meant that my new bridge was being built, and I rejoiced when the old one was demolished. Even if that meant traveling around the back way to get to work a day or two.

When the I-35 bridge fell and the signs went up and the detours were made semi-permanent I gained a new respect for all the Annoyance of Orange.

Now, the weave is almost re-woven, my intersection is complete, and the new bridge is due to open next week. It is no longer a game of "chicken" to turn left, and I know so many new ways to get around Minneapolis.

All the signs and cones and barrels and barriers have a purpose: to send us on the safe path through whatever reconstruction is being done.

Psalm 119 reminds us that God's Commandments serve the same sort of purpose: to lead us on the safe path. Jesus' life and resurrection made that path a saving path. 

Something human and fallen in us rails against the machine that says "Do Not!" Even when the "do not"s are God's good commandments. Even the "Do This" commandments make us cry out when it means we can't do our shopping on a Sunday. 

Paul reminds us that all the "Do This" and the "Do Not" rules can be summed up in 5 words: "Love your neighbor as yourself". (Romans 13:9

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Starting School

Jonah's first Day of Kindergarten!

Miriam had to pack her lunch box as well, so we were all ready to go.

Monday, September 01, 2008

All in the Family

Summertime fun is filled with family! This summer we've visited with family and friends from all over the globe and across the country. Every one is different, but everyone gathers around food.

The rice, curry, and lentils that we shared with missionaries and natives of Pakistan, the beans and brats and salad we ate in Kansas, and the rice and beans and arepas that we'll share with a new friend from South America are more alike than they are different.

Rice, beans, tomatoes and potatoes; bread (almost always round, somehow!) and fruit. Some combination of cucumber and cream. We call them by different names, and spice them differently, or not at all. It's food, and the love that goes in to preparation and serving, that makes the world go round, and makes it smaller than ever.

Baby Matthew (above) knows that food is good, and family is good, and it does not matter what color your friend's skin is. He's loved.

He sits ( bottom right hand corner) in the midst of a cluster of cousins with racial heritage spanning at least 4 continents, all sharing the same Great Grandparents. There is" Blond hair, red hair, brown and black hair. Blue, Green, Brown and Hazel eyes. Walking, waddling, toddling, running, and the one who was three days old and didn't come to the picnic. One observation: I can't group siblings by hair color, every family has multi-colored mops! But they all ate Aunt Marilyn's cookies!!

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Gal. 3:28

Friday, August 22, 2008

In the good ole' Summer Time!

It's almost time for school and the inevitable "What I did this Summer"
We had picnics in the back yard, and thoroughly enjoyed the swingset.
We made new friends and decided we need gates in the fence.
We went to the cabins, and Grandma's house and camping and a (very little) fishing.
We rode in boats and picked 'taters and planted 'maters.

We had Summer fun!

We went to the Indian Museum in Mille Lacs, Kelly's Farm in Elk River, the Fur Post, the Mill City Museum, the Children's Museum, and the History Center.

It's been busy and fun and sweaty and swimmy. We've had lots of baths and showers because the kids were dirty! In a great, summer fun sort of day.

I hope your summer was just as much fun!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Valley of Vegetables

Originally uploaded by thebigboat2000
Remember Victory Gardens? I know I read about them in history, when people were encouraged to grow their own food to help the "war effort." My little garden is more about fresh food and teaching moments. We've harvested radishes, carrots and sugar snap peas. The beans are coming in and we found our first cucumber today. Tomatoes are set on, but still green, and the beets are a growin'.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chef Jonah

Chef Jonah
Originally uploaded by thebigboat2000
The making of Chez de Macaroni!

This has to be the kids' favorite meal. Jonah's french accent when we cook this is a tribute to Rattatoui!

Like many of my favorites, this is more of a guideline than carved in stone. Any real sous chef will probably cringe at my techniques.

Cook up half a box of pasta: 8 ounces. Drain in a colander,. While the pasta is draining, add two tablespoons of butter to the hot saucepan. Melt over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of flour and cook for a minute or two. Pour in about a cup of milk and whisk to get out the lumps. Cook on med-med high for a few minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Add a big handful of grated cheese and still until melted. Add the pasta back into the cheese sauce.

Voila! Chez de Macaroni!

Monday, June 16, 2008

God Our Father

God Our Father
Originally uploaded by thebigboat2000
Be strong and very courageous (Joshua 1)

How strong must you be to sing praise to God? If M and J are any measure, very strong, but not very big. M&J learned this prayer from a children's sermon at our new church. They fight over who gets to lead at each meal.

Be strong! As strong as a child who can run and climb and sing and play all day long! As strong as a 5 year old on 16 inch bike tires keeping up with mom on a 5 mile ride.
Be very courageous! As courageous as each recovering addict, as courageous as any cancer survivor!

"Do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (more words to Joshua from the Lord)

God is with you... whether you are strong, courageous, or really tired and weak!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

This I believe

I don't think I ever felt so small and alone as when I started first grade at Christ Lutheran School in Murray, Utah. It didn't help that it was November, and I had just moved to town. Everyone else had been to Kindergarten together, and they all knew each other. They had gotten used to the teacher, and I was just new.

Miss Hughes is the first teacher I remember. She had a big desk at the front of the room, and I think she was really old. We learned our ABC's and 123's. We had a bible verse to memorize, and chapel every Wednesday. I'm sure the pastor who led chapel was really old too. I was afraid of Miss Hughes, and pretty sure that she wasn't really human.

This I believed!

At the end of my tenure at Christ Lutheran, after finishing 6th grade, my family visited Miss Hughes in her home. We ate a normal dinner, and then us kids listened to "Jesus Christ Superstar" on the record player. By this time, I'd grown up. I'd reached my full height of 5 feet, 2 inches, and had travelled around the world. Going into Miss Hughes' home was still frightening. She was the First Grade Teacher. By the end of the night, I finally met Miss Hughes. She wasn't inhuman, and she wasn't very old.

I think it was the record player, and the rock music that convinced me that my First Grade Teacher was really a nice lady.
I think it was some of the songs I heard around campfires at Lutheran Bible camp that convinced me that Jesus really loved me!

This I believe.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Who taught the trees to grow?

We live in a world full of plants and trees that we didn't plant. This question was posed to me this morning: How do the trees know how to grow?
My answer was that God taught the first trees to take sunshine and water and make food and grow. The trees remembered and still do just that. Like a top that you set spinning, the world just keeps spinning according to God's original plan.

17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Mt. 7 NLT

In God's original plan, Apple trees produce Apples, and Olive trees produce olives. When trees produce good fruit, according to God's plan, they are useful, loved, and protected. A good child of God produces the fruits of God, and these can be seen and appreciated; kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, healing, loving. Good children are loved and protected by God. Just and an apple tree can't help but produce apples, God's children, by thier God-given nature reflect God'd good image in all they do.

If a child of God turns from good and seeks evil, then they begin to bear sour fruit. Greed, violence, selfishness, and abuse are fruits of the fallen child. If an apple tree began to sprout thorns and bear thistles, it would be cut down. When orchard trees no longer bear good fruit, they are re-cycled as heat and mulch. Thank God a bad kid is not burned, but re-purposed with love.

Much of the seventh chapter of Matthew warns us against judgement of others. It is our place not to throw out bad fruit, so much as it is to foster good fruit. Be aware of your fruit, and make sure it is good. Help your children and grandchildren know about Christ so that they too may bear good fruit. Pray for those whom you know are bearing bad fruit, and do not follow them into the furnace!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Promises, promises!

Originally uploaded by thebigboat2000
For the second weekend in a row, we've had dangerous storms roll over our home. This time it was during my birthday party, so we opened gifts in the basement.
After the storm, was the most brilliant and colorful rainbow I've seen in a long time. It was double for a long time too, and even my new camera couldn't quite capture it all.

It's a great reminder that after all the storms, comes God's promise of presence.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Family Seat

Family Seat
Originally uploaded by thebigboat2000
..teach them to your children, and your children's children.

Five Generations in one place. Or at least the memories. My Mother and I took my children to visit Carnahan Creek, where my grandparents and great grandparents are buried. It was a beautiful Kansas spring day, Jo and M were chewing on grass and hearing us talk about people they never met.

Jo knows that all these greats are up in heaven with Jesus, so the cemetery is to him a sort of full-sized family tree, as we walk through the names and try to describe the connections. The headstones tell their own stories, too. Walter C. Green was a Methodist Minister of the Circuit Rider generation. There is a medal with a horse and a minister near his head. Uncle Merton and Uncle Cecil served in the Army, as one can plainly read.

Not in our family, but near by, are the stones that speak of short lives, big families, and long histories. There are half-filled stones where one can see that someone has been left widowed. The grass is growing, the peonies were full to bursting, and the sun was warm.

I'm not a real big flower placer, but this trip reminds me of the value of visiting the past with the future. It is a time to tell stories, pass on blessings, and warn of curses. It can be a full sized family tree or stark reminder of a life lived alone. The little kids didn't come back with a sense of awe, but that's fine. They will learn and they will know and someday they may return.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Big Green Boat

Originally uploaded by thebigboat2000
After I saw some jeans made into purses a couple of years ago, I've been re-using the kids' old jeans to make bags for myself. I get so many compliments that I've been thinking to sell them too.
This is my first batch of purses for sale.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

If you plant a garden in a forest

The forest will take it back!

We plant six-packs of Impatiens; the willow drops millions of seeds.

We till and get in two rows of corn and potatoes; the black walnut employs twenty squirrels to plant two thousand seeds.

We divide the mums every year; the forsythia puts out 30 shoots, every year.

We'll never win. The forest, or the desert, or the prairie, or the ocean will always win in the end, even if we humans have some short term gains. Especially since our lifetimes even are short term to the forest.

This is bad if you are trying to raise food for your family under tree cover, as many subsistence farmers need to do.
This is annoying if you want to have a nice flower garden among the maples.
This is a challenge to be met day after day if you are trying to farm in Arizona.

This is GOOD NEWS if you are a child, parent, grandparent, or friend of anyone.


Because God is more persistent than the forest will ever be. Once God claims us as a child of God, we are always loved. Loved to death, in fact. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing.

We turn aside from God and seek material gain; God moves the path back in front of us.

We choose to sleep in on Sunday Morning; God shows up with the Monday paper.

We turn away and run pell-mell into the darkness; God follows patiently behind with a big, indestructible, never ending flashlight.

This is just plain good news. Whether you are the one running, or you are praying for someone you know who seems to be heading the wrong direction. God will always follow, and be ready to take you back. God is listening to the prayers and dropping hundereds and thousands of little love helicopers in the world, ready to grow into the new life of Christ.

Thanks be to God!

On beyond Basil

Miriam, Jonah and I are spending a week at Grandpa's Farm in central Kansas.

Grandpa's Farm is 3.7 acres of woods, lawn, and gardens. The kids are outside exploring and leaning, (shh, don't tell them!)

Jonah fell in love with Basil last summer, he'd bring it in from the back yard to put in his tuna sandwiches. This week he's moving beyond basil to mint, radishes and rhubarb. Central Kansas is warm enough for some spring crops to be ready to pick. Most gardens are in need of a weeding, and mint sometimes becomes a weed. As I was reducing the patch to a manageable size Jo came by to smell the air. that led to a whole discussion about mint, since his mints are round and mostly sugar! He's taken to chewing on a leaf now and then, and adding them to his lemonade. We picked radishes and lots of rhubarb. Radishes were not well loved, but rhubarb is becoming a real favorite. (stewed with sugar or in a pie!) We've found big caterpillars, live snails and lots of worms. There is even a litter of kittens in the window well.

This is a week of seeing what we've read about, of finding out where things come from, and what happens to the peelings. On beyond basil is a whole other world.

Have you moved on beyond basil in your devotional life? Can you take a step ouside the traditional sunday school stories and find Ruth, Deborah and Rhoda? Visiting the farm is a step outside our normal suburban life, and the kids (and I) find all sorts of new things to discover and see and experience.

See what you can find in the fine print between the stories you know so well.

Oh, and see if you can find a good rhubarb patch too!

Thursday, May 01, 2008


"It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1, the reading for May 1.)

The energy crisis has hit, big time!
Prices at the gas pump go up more than down, and that's starting to have a real impact on drivers. We're conserving gas again! All those injunctions to make every trip count, do many errands in one round trip instead of going back and forth, as well as downsizing big SUV's, are really coming into fashion.

In a way, the world is getting bigger, as gas prices rise. We had gotten so used to believing that the whole world was within reach, now it is getting more expensive to go across the state. It takes Power to move our cars, or fuel the planes, and that power is in short supply, or so it seems.

Jesus sends us out to the corners of the earth, to spread the Word of God's Love, and provides us with the power we need. All the power we will ever need, and some more, to share. Next time you are at the gas pump, or buying airplane tickets, remeber that all the power you need to live is yours for the asking. "Give us this day our daily bread"


Friday, April 18, 2008

Another clay pot kind of day

Today is another clay pot kind of day, the skies are grey, and even though the ice is finally leaving the lake, it's hard to remember that it is Spring. the kids are sick, someone stole my purse, and it's the last weekend at this call...

So it's helpful to read today's lesson: Acts 7:1-16 reminding us about Abraham, and Sara, Joseph and all those slaves in Egypt.

The reminder is: God was there, and God is here too.

I don't know what the official governmental take on this year is, but according to my family and friends and personal experience, we're in a recession. People are loosing jobs left and right, the housing market makes it impossible to move down to a smaller place, and gas prices keep shooting through the roof. UGG!
Abraham and Sarah trusted God through some pretty impossible promises: You will be the parents of a great nation, even though you have not yet had any kids in 90 years. You will Bless all Nations, but your descendants will be slaves of a great nation for generations. Even your attempts at circumventing my promises will bring a great nation into being.

What does God promise us? I will send you my Spirit, and I will be with you always.

Even when your position is eliminated 6 months before retirement.
Even when the bank forecloses on the house you've tried so hard to keep.
Even when all the medicine and diets in the doctor's book can only keep your child's seizures in the single digit range per day, not the 30's.
Even when you loose everything, or what feels like everything.

God is there. God's Spirit is with you, God's promise is everything, and no one, and nothing can separate you from that promise!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Food, food, and more food...

Wisdom has built her house,she has hewn her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine,she has also set her table. (Proverbs 9:1)

Following the story of Jesus sharing a meal with his friends at Emmaus, Monday's lesson recalled Abraham's meal with the Lord, and now Wisdom is setting the table.

We build families around the family table.

We build relationships over dinner.

We invite new friendships to blossom in the context of a picnic.

We bring food when a baby is born.

We celebrate a wedding with fancy food.

We support the mourning with casseroles.

Christ comes to us in the breaking of bread. Not only at the communion table, but in the simple acts of sharing sustenance with others.

When we entertain strangers, new friends, or family, the Lord is present.

Wisdom has set her table and invited us, simple foolish people, to learn wisdom. To drink from the fountain of life, and share in the feast of heaven.

No wonder we say "thanks" before a meal.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

it's finally here

spring has sprung and the kids are playing in puddles with no coats on

a long time ago, i memorised this poem by e.e. cummings,
it still rings in my ears, especially when it's spring...

in just-
in Just-spring
when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old baloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

baloonMan whistles

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Jonah was a prophet, Ooo, Ooo! But he never really got it!

If you don't watch VeggieTales movies like I do, that title won't make much sense.

Synopsis: If you were Jonah
  1. Run away from God's call to save your enemies.
  2. Cause a huge storm, and get thrown off a boat.
  3. Get swallowed by a big fish.
  4. Pray like mad, since you are sure you are dead, but really don't want to be.
  5. Get spit out by the big fish, and finally go where God sends you.
  6. Give God's message of salvation to your enemies, and have it accepted.
  7. Wait for God's destruction of your enemies.
  8. Get taught one more lesson by God about accepting other people into God's Kingdom.

If we don't get caught up in the big fish/whale argument, one big lesson to learn from Jonah is that God can, and will, save whomever God pleases. Our judgement of whether a person or a people are worthy of God's mercy has no impact on God's work, and indeed, God will save someone in spite of our protestations.

Jesus uses this illustration in today's Gospel: Matt. 12:38-42. God gave plenty of signs in the early days, Jesus' presence should be enough to prove his heritage. But people, like Jonah, don't really want to see thier enemies saved. We'd rather see our enemies take it in the jaw than give them the chance of a lifetime in Heaven.

Who are your enemies? Who would you rather see on the goat side of the fence, than in with the sheep? Don't risk the belly of the whale for a day's pleasure in retribution. Go with God and show mercy.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Jesus in the Old Testament

Tremble, O Earth, at the presence of the Lord, who turned the hard rock into a pool of water, and flint stone into a flowing spring. (Ps. 114, ELW)

It is still snowing in Minnesota. This should not be particulary shocking to anyone who has lived here for long, but it's getting annoying. We can finally see the grass and it gets all covered up again! It's a gentle reminder that I'm not in charge of the weather. I asked the two 4 year olds that I picked up from preschool today, "who said it could snow?" One of them answered without a pause "Jesus."

Jesus can calm the waves and quiet the winds, I guess he can send snow on Easter Sunday. God who created the heavens and the earth can hold back the seas, make the stones cry out, and turn the rock of Christ's Tomb into a one-way street to salvation.

That same God has written your name in the Book of Life, knows every hair on your head, and has plans for you that are good, very good. God watches over your goings in and your goings out, your smiles and frowns, your work and your play.

Thanks be to God!

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's not just me..

Paul writes to the Corinthians: Whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favor on me...It makes no difference whether I preach, or they preach. The important thing is that you believed what we preached to you.

Listen to lots of good preachers and you will hear truth from lots of different voices. All of whom are speaking by God's Grace, of God's Grace.

Just a reminder to us preachers that we are interchangable, the important thing is the Word, and the reception, not the preacher!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No more Dead Ends

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.'

Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

The Wednesday after Easter, we can still read the Easter Gospel and be encouraged that Christ goes ahead of us, always.

No matter how often you think you've hit a dead end, and there is no where to go except back, remember that Christ has gone ahead of you, so there must be somewhere to go!

I don't pretend to say that there won't be any bumps in the road, or that life will always be as smooth as a brand new highway.

For the last 6 months or more, there has been road construction at my favorite I-35W exit. As the workers tear down old bridges to build new ones there are "road closed" signs all over. It gets to be a bit of a pain at times, when it is hard to see around the big piles of dirt. Slowly and surely, though, there is progress. One new span opened last November. A new stoplight makes turning in and out of the YMCA much easier. New trusses promise another new span soon. Then with all new lights and everything the intersection will be much easier and safer to navigate.

God may not be in the road construction business, but God is in the life construction business. Sometimes stops and new starts, endings and beginnings, nights and new days are part of life. If we listen to the angels, "Christ has gone on ahead of you" and will meet you and be with you in whatever life brings. This month's layoff may give opportunity for a new career. Next week's funeral will bring sadness, sorrow, and a reminder of hope. Yesterday's road closure may bring a new, smoother, safer road.

Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thanks be to God!

Ever feel like life is an uphill climb with no end in sight, and you have a toddler sitting on your shoulders?

Last May, the kids and I went to Delaware Gap National Park. We climbed Dingman's Falls and the steps just kept going up and up and up. Miriam was one and she did her best to keep climbing, but then I had to carry her part way up.

We just kept going, and going and going. And then we got to the top, and it was all worth it. Eastern Pennsylvania is just gorgeous in late May, and back home in Minnesota it was still very grey. At the top, I know I said " Thanks be to God" for all of it: getting to the top, and seeing God's beautiful creation.

The Wednesday in Holy Week readings have a great deal of "just keep going" messages.
Is. 50:7: "Because the LORD helps me, I will not be dismayed...and I know I will triumph!"
Ps. 70:1-2 "Please God, rescue me! ...May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace"
Heb. 12:1 "Let us run with endurance the race which God has set before us"
Jesus needed those encouragements, as much as we do. He knew that his path didn't end in a beautiful waterfall, but death. He knew that the top steps were marked by the betrayal and denial of his best friends, not the smiling faces of super-fast sons. And Jesus did keep going. For us, for our salvation.
Thanks be to God!

Monday, March 17, 2008

The house was filled with the fragrance.

John 12:1-11: the reading for Monday of Holy Week, 2008.

Mary, in this case presumably Lasarus' sister, bring the big bottle of expensive nard to anoint Jesus. Mary was the one who sat at Jesus' feet and listened while her sister fussed over the soup. She broke the bottle and poured the whole thing on Jesus' feet.

The house was filled with the fragrance.

What fragrance is your house filled with this week?

Corned Beef? (it is St. Patrick's Day today)

Hot Crossed Buns?

Wiggly Children? (if it's Spring Break)



Jesus fills our heats and minds with Hope, even in the midst of fear and darkness.

The housing market is on the edge of collapse.

The stock market is not far behind.

The church budget is way behind.

Nothing is certain anymore.

Except Death, and Taxes.

Except that Death has been defeated, and we don't have to fear death any more. Christ rose from the dead so that we will have eternal life. Even though our mortal bodies must die, at least that gets rid of the taxes!

May the fragrance of Hope in Eternal Life fill your House.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Clay Pot kind of day

Ever had a clay pot kind of day? It's grey, cool (32f) and Friday. The readings for the Friday before Palm Sunday are Psalm 31:9-16, Job 13:13-19 and Philippians 1:21-30.

The Psalm selection is especially depressing, and the first place I found the clay pot reference, in fact the psalmist declares that " I am as useless as a broken pot."

Job is almost never uplifting, and here he's railing at his friends for trying to argue God's side, and not doing a particularly good job. He calls them clay pots, full of ash.

Even Philippians today is rather grim: 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. Paul is sure he will stay alive to do God's will, but somehow finds strength in suffering and struggling for Christ.

Clay pots are utilitarian, cheap and breakable.

On a clay pot kind of day I feel useless, cheap, and broken.

Then I remember the Genesis passage telling me that God molded human beings out of the clay, into God's own image.

Most of my favorite serving bowls are clay pots.
Utilitarian, yes, or perhaps Useful. As in full of uses.
Not exactly cheap, but not as expensive as silver or mass produced china. I like to find my pots in the potters studio, where I can see the wheel and the kiln in the background. Those pots carry the image of their maker with them.
Breakable, yes. But, then I have an excuse to go visit the potter again.

You are UseFull! God has good plans for you, sometimes carrying cookies, sometimes holding the scraps to go to the compost. Some days the table is set for a festival, other days it's just family. Even a holey pot can be life saving when it filters water. You are made for the glory of God.

You are not cheap! You do have your maker's image etched in your very being. Let people know where you came from, who make you, who moves you. You are not mass-produced, you are beautiful in your individuality.

You are breakable. For we have all fallen short of the glory of God. But Christ, as the potter, re-makes us and shapes us into something that will not break in the eyes of God. Over and over again, Christ makes us new.

You are Good Clay Pots!

Thanks be to God.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Even the rocks shall sing His praises

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." from Revelation 11:15-19. March 7, 2008.

Are you singing that in your head, or, with your voice?

It is from the last piece in Handel's "Messiah."

If you have ever learned the whole thing, or even parts of it, I suspect it rings in your ears when you hear or read the bible passages that Handel used as lyrics.

We can't help but sing God's praise. The earth and the sky break forth in song, so do we.

What's your favorite praise song?

Amazing Grace?

Blessed Be the Name?

or something else?

Sing, and be glad!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Do you believe I can do this?

Wednesday, March 5.
Matthew 9:27-34
vs. 28: Jesus asked the two blind men, “Do you believe I can make you see?”

Do you believe God can do this?

Give sight to the blind

make the lame to walk

heal the leaper

feed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish

rise from the dead

sit at the right hand of God

If we believe all that, why is it so hard to believe that God is doing any of it today?

I know a girl born blind who can now see.

I've see the lame walk after knee or hip replacement

My own father is a cancer survivor

God is still working miracles

Don't forget to ask

"Can you heal me?"

And be ready to believe

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Are you thirsty?

I'm trying something new, I have added the ELCA's Daily Bible reading to the sidebar of the blog. Then, I'll work on responding to the reading each day.

Today, Feb. 27th, the reading is: John 7:14-31, 37-39

Jesus is once again trying to define himself as the Messiah to those people who should be prepared to recieve him.

But they are not ready. Not for this Messiah.

Are you ready for the Christ?

Are you looking for someone who will answer all your prayers "yes", and support the course that you have set for your life?
Are you looking for a guardian angel who follows behind you and makes sure you don't stumble?
Are you looking for a bottle of water that never runs dry?

Christ will come and remind you that he follows God's plan, not ours. Jesus will walk with you and lead you, in right pathways, not necessarily the ones you choose.

Jesus calls us to drink deeply of the water of life, and care for the waters of creation.

no matter who you are looking for in Christ, Christ is looking for you, just the way you are.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A new perspective

The world from three feet above the floor..

I spend my life looking at things from a perspective at about 5 feet above the floor. That's where my eyes are. Every once in a while I wonder what the world looks like from 6 feet up. This winter I got a view of the world from three feet up. Jonah took a bunch of pictures from his perspective. One suddenly sees a great deal more cabinetry, and not as much counter top, lots of legs and not as many faces, dogs and cats are bigger, and probably scarier.

God asks us to look at things from a new place: Love.

Love sees hearts, not homes.
Love sees ability, not disability.
Love sees possibilites, not dead ends.

Love sees loss, but also sees hope.
Love sees pain, and does not leave.
Love sees tears, and wipes them away.

Thank God for looking at the Love.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fig Leaves and Fine Clothing

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3)

What kind of Fig Leaves are you hiding behind? This Sunday, the texts of the day centered around Temptation; Adam and Eve's and Jesus'. The Tempter finds our weakness and pokes and prods, and casts doubt upon God's Love for us.

Too often we give in to the temptation, and when we realize that we have sinned, we hide behind our own fig leaves. Like a child who is caught with a hand in the cookie jar, we make excuses, create alabis, and generally try to hide our weakness, our nakedness, behind some kind of fig leaf.

The trouble with fig leaves, is that they don't last very long. They don't make very good clothing. Somebody always sees through our deception, and the stories don't hold together as well as the truth. Everyone in church recieved a fig leaf of sorts.

Lent is a time to accept our fig leaves, and hand them over to God. Lent is time to look at what we are hiding, and what we are hiding behind, and confess our weakness to our Creator.

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3)

God will take those fragile fig leaves, and turn them into Fine Garments. Jesus' death on the cross and His Ressurection transforms our confessions into forgiveness. That's the good news!

Jesus didn't give in to the Tempters power, and in His strength, we too can find the strength to "just say no!" to all sorts of temptation. We can also be assured that when we do hide, we can come to God, confess our failings, and recieve forgiveness.

Thanks Be to God!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dusty Prayers

Lectionary for Feb. 8, 2008: Psalm 51, Jonah 4:1-11, Romans 1:8-17.

Romans 1: 9 God knows how often I pray for you.

Take some time today to pray through Psalm 51, follow the link above or find it in your own bible. It is the Psalm appointed for Ash Wednesday, so if you went to worship that day, it might sound familiar. It is a confession of our weakness, and our desire to be strong.

Today's lessons remind us to confess, to pray, and to accept God's salvation.

Ash Wednesday I have the precious privilage of marking the sign of the cross on the forheads of people I love and praying for them in their humanity.

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall

Each time I make the cross, I pray for that person. That they shall not return to the dust too soon, that the dust of the world will not over come them, but that they will be strengthened for the jourey of Lent, and the journey of Life. It is a precious privilage, to reach out and touch so many in prayer.

Lent is time to remember that we are created from dust, the same dust that every person is created from, every animal, every plant. We are created from the same dust that the earth, the moon, the sun and the stars are created of, for it is God who created all of it, and all of us.

So remember that you are Stardust!

You are precious in the Sight of the Creator of the Stars. You are welcomed into God's Grace eac and every time you pray, "I'm Sorry". You are forgiven in the blood of the One who Died for you.

Jonah got very angry with God's forgiveness of the people of Nineva. People who "didn't know their right hand from their left." Even though Jonah was the one who preached repentance, he didn't expect it of the people, and his human desire for revenge overwhelmed him. He was more willing to give up his life for a plant than to see the people of Nineva given life.
Can we accept that God love not only us, but everyone? Remembering that we are dust ties us to everyone who is and was and will be.

Rejoice that God loves you, and your neighbor, and your enemy. For it is God's love that turns enemies into neighbors and war into peace, and this world needs peace.

In Faith,

Monday, February 04, 2008

Whine, Whine, Whine

Today's daily Lectionary: Psalm 78:17-20, 52-55, Exodus 33:7-23, Acts 7:30-34

God's people, like little children, Whine! In Egypt they whine that they are slaves, once they are rescued, they whine that they are thirsty. As soon as God provides water, they whine that they need bread and meat. As soon as God gives them bread and meat, they whine some more.

I'll admit, I get really tired of my children whining, really fast. It doesn't take more than two requests for something that I've said no to to test my patience.

Thank God, God has more patience than I do.
God had listened to the People of Israel, and to Moses, whining about everything.
God's responce never changes:
14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

God will personally go with you,
God will give you rest
Everything will be fine.

Now stop whining.
Never stop praying.

Lord, you are our shepherd and our God, lead us down your paths of righeousness, and give us rest. Forgive us for fretting and whining, and forgetting to trust. Help us to take of our shoes on your holy ground and accept your presence in our lives. AMEN

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Heart Center

My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "LORD, I am coming." Ps. 27:9

My meditations yesterday after exercise led to my heart. As I listened to it beat, and imagined the blood flowing in and out, around and around, I saw the Cross in my heart. There are four chambers in your heart, and the walls between them form a cross. But more than that, I saw the cross that was written on my heart when I was baptized.

When we are baptized, the sign of the cross is made upon our forehead, and sometimes our chest. It's not a mark that is easily seen by others. On Ash Wednesday, we trace that baptismal cross in the ashes of our mortality. For a day or so, the mark of our salvation is visible. It reminds us every time we look in the mirror, it may give us chance to invite others into the conversation, if they ask about that black smudge on our head.

What about the other 365 days of the year? Does anyone see the mark of your salvation? Do you see the cross in your own life?

Take a moment, if you can, to sit back, relax, and listen to your heart beat.
Imagine the blood flowing in and around the arms of the cross,
In with the good, out with the bad,
Cleansing and renewing with each breath.

Open the eyes of my heart Lord, and let me see Jesus, Amen

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Sun was warm today!

In my attempt at finding next week's readings for study, I stumbled across Malachi 4:2; "But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings."

Yesterday, the sun felt warm on my shoulder on the way home from Church. It had not felt warm for at least a week, as temperatures around here struggled to rise above 0 degrees F. Even on the sunniest days, which were usually the coldest, the sunshine didn't feel warm.

I hadn't noticed that I missed it, until it came back. Sunday's temperature hovered above freezing, and allowed the warmth of the sun to penetrate the van window on the drive home.

The warm sun felt good, and right.

God's Sun of Righteousness comes to heal and to warm. Jesus was the light of the world.

Only in our modern times have we been able to create light without heat.
Our days get dark, and cold, sometimes because the jet stream dips down from Canada, sometimes because things happen that cloud our heart. We shut down, shut out, and shiver in our loneliness and hopelessness. Somedays are cold and lonely because a loved one is gone, a relationship is crumbling, or health is failing. Even though we can look out the window and see the sun, we can't seem to feel the warmth.

Keep looking! Even when the thremometer dips below reasonable temperatures, the sun is still warm. In Minnesota, it won't ever be too long before the sun shines warm!

Even when we sit in darkness, we can be sure that the Sun is out there shining for us!

Are you sitting in the darkness, surrounded by light?
Is it so cold in your heart that you can't feel God's love?
Are you so lost that you think you'll never be found again?

May the Sun Shine warm in you, around you, and for you.

May the Spirit wrap you in the comfort of her wings.

May God gather you up like a little lamb and let you go free. "leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture"


Friday, January 18, 2008

growing in the light

For Christmas this year I received an amaryllis bulb and a pot for the flower. The poor bulb followed it's internal clock and started growing inside the box before I even opened it up. In the dark, this living bulb grew about six inches worth of flower bud and stalk, but it was white.

White is the color of mushrooms and asparagus grown in the dark. Since there is no light available to transform into food by the chlorophyll, the chlorophyll just doesn't appear.

Now, I opened the box, moistened the soil and planted my bulb. I have set it in a window and in just a day or two it turned green. The stalks are straightening up and growing toward the light outside. Dear plant doesn't realize it's below zero out there, it's just sunny!

If we live in the darkness, there are loads of gifts and talents that remain dormant, like the chlorophyll in the amaryllis. Sure, it was growing, but wouldn't reach it's full potential in the dark.

In the light, in Jesus' light, we grow to our full potential.

We are prophets and priests, healers and leaders, speakers and interpreters. We bear fruit of kindess, gentleness, self control, and peace.

In the light of God's Son, and the water of God's Spirit, God grows a great people.

Walk wet, living in your baptisim every day.

Walk in the the light of Christ, and let your gifts bloom.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


What's your New Year's resolution?

Loose weight? Gain health?

Make friends? Destroy debt?

Find time for God? Loose yourself in leisure?

Why is it that the best things for us either taste bad, or hurt? This New Year's Day, my family and I got a membership at the new local YMCA. It's part of our get fit, and get moving resolution. The first day we went swimming in the family leisure pool with all three kids. It was hard to get them out of the water. Then we tried working out upstairs on the bike and eliptical machines. Yesterday I got into a Yoga class, and this morning I'm still "feeling the burn!"

God never promised us an easy ride. Jesus was born of a woman, and judging from my own experience, that hurts! Mary for sure, but probably Jesus as well.

Jesus was noticed and worshiped by the Magi, and Herod came to kill all his cohorts, all the toddlers in Bethlehem. Jesus escaped but lots of people got hurt.

So much pain surrounding a Savior.

Two verses to think about :
Mt. 16:24;Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

When we pick up our cross, or it is given to us, it is good to know that Jesus knows about it. Whatever the cross may be, He's been there, and heard about it, and probably lived through it.

But also: Mt. 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Seems rather contradictary to me. But God's not in the business of pain for pain's sake. God's way is straight forward: Love God and Love your neighbor, pass it on.

Sounds easy enough!

So did Yoga!