Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gather Up the Crumbs - VI - A Couple of Crumbs for this Evening

When I am searching for tight harmony, I go to Acappella,  and I am never disappointed.

What I love about this video is the end...all the wonderful faces!  How would I treat another differently if I looked for the eyes of Christ within the face looking back at me?

Then, my Soul Sister reminded me of Beautiful by Mercy Me.  Another one of my favorite groups singing a great song.

Now, let me ask you...isn't this a great way to end one's day?

From Beautiful Beautiful You!

The CATS are all out, purring
through those fields!
Oh! Thinking about it...I have a couple of more crumbs that I do not want to ignore, for they are blessings!

One....notice anything about this barn lot?  Looks kind of empty, right?

It is empty!  For the first time in I don't know how many weeks, the guys have been in the fields for TWO straight days!

Enjoying the sun, while standing on my driveway.

The barn lot is empty because the sun has graced us with warm sunshine...since Sunday!  That magnificent ball of light should be setting nearly any time here in central Indiana.  I do appreciate the gift of sun and the gift of rain.

I wonder what crumbs some of you have identified as being blessings during this day?

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Gather Up the Crumbs - V - Examples of Crumbs

Jesse Colin Young
The sunrises and sunsets have been spectacular lately! This morning, watching the sun rise, I thought of this video... Let Your Light Shine by Jesse Colin Young.

I have been hearing again, "Sandi, this book is hard and I'm not getting it!" or "Sandi, I'm just about ready to give up on this book." or...

Finding a Good Summer Read....
I cannot deny that this book is more difficult than I had anticipated.  And, I will admit, I've had moments that I've thought about giving up.  This morning, however, after working outside all day yesterday and getting more than 20, yes 20!, hours of sleep the past two nights, I am ready to stay with the book for a few more least for this week.  Then....I may reevaluate.  If anyone has suggestions for a good read....PLEASE send me some ideas!

Last week, I said that Macrina was going to share some of her crumbs that have brought her to the heart of God.
"Gathering them as crumbs means I do not receive them lightly. I do not treat them as leftovers, but as part of the whole loaf of God's plan for me." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 28)
 Macrina's "crumbs":

  • Love of trees.
  • Beautiful hard Maples...
    • A life symbol with its roots thrust deeply down into the nurturing earth, its trunk growing up to the heights, and its branches reaching out in all directions.
    • If I am truly awake when I meet a tree, I stand in awe and listen to its voice, a silent sermon moving me to the depths, touching my heart, stirring up within my soul a yearning to give my all.
    • Molly the Maple, a tree from Macrina's childhood was her "first chapel". A sanctuary that supported and protected her as she struggled with hurt feelings, misunderstandings, doubts, angers, growing up...
    • Trees are still sanctuaries for me, holy places where I can rest.
  • Moments of beauty.
    • What is unique about a moment that has the power to bless us and the potential to feed us is not so much the power of the moment itself, but rather the quality of the presence we bring to that moment.
    • Moments of beauty are every where in every day. They are only crumbs, pieces of the whole loaf.
      • snowflakes falling so fast that the sky was suddenly full of angels
      • a physical therapist working reverently with a person who is learning to walk again after a car accident
      • a bud on a Christmas cactus that you thought was dead
      • a sunset that is so breathtakingly beautiful you stop the car to just be with it
      • the steam from your early morning coffee or tea slowly ascending, meeting the first rays of dawn
      • an old face aglow because of your unexpected visit
    • If you walk back through your day each evening, you may be close enough to some of those missed moments that you can still capture a bit of the blessing that was meant to be yours.
  • Sin and weakness in my life.
    • There is nothing like felt inadequacy to help me depend solely on God. What is sin but not living up to your potential, not being all that God calls you to be?
    • When you embrace emptiness, God can begin to fill you. (Oh....remember the lesson about emptying my cup so that God can fill me:)
    • Sin is:
    • "Sin" has a "big" connotation, things I see on TV.
      Yet, it can be small things that separate me from God.
      • living according to my own plan
      • trying to fill up my own life rather than allowing God to fill me
      • being willing to stay where I am rather than going through the pain and joy of being in process.
      • St. Basil the Great said, "Sin is not using the power for good that God placed within you."

  • Being able to recognize and admit that I am wrong. (ouch.....)
  • Mistakes roughen up my smooth edges...
    • It is such a burden to always need to be right. (this one is good! : ) )
    • Needing to be right all the time comes out of my insecurity. As I mature, that need to be right diminishes.
    • Mistakes can be such friends. They roughen up my smooth edges, convincing me that I don't have to be perfect to be loved.
    • What a freedom to be able to say, "I was wrong!"
Macrina gives me examples of 13 crumbs that have blessed her and have drawn her closer to God.  Today, I have written about four of the thirteen and I think that is enough for one morning.

I can appreciate everything she is saying within these four, I have often felt and experienced similar moments of ah-ha.  I will most likely continue to reflect on her definition of "sin" throughout this day.  

There is a practice of doing an Examen at the end of one's day.  It comes from the Jesuit tradition and offers me an opportunity to look back on my discover the blessings and the learning I might have missed in the moment. A really really really good explanation of this Spiritual Discipline can be found at...

God, thank you for all the opportunities you have put along my path to help me grow be more watchful for your presence in my life.  Help me to incorporate these thoughts and learning as I continue walking along this path.  AMEN!!!

Yesterday, I preached on John 14:1-14.  As I prepared my sermon, a song by Audio Adrenalin filled my heart and mind. As much as I enjoy this song, there was NO WAY I could use it within worship at BPC! So, on this day after Memorial Day, I will include it in my journal for today as a reminder that even though I make mistakes...God still loves me and is preparing a place for me.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gather Up the Crumbs - IV - Crumbs on a gray May morning...

A friend sent me an e-card yesterday reminding me of all the things I preach.  In a kind and gentle way she was reminding me to Walk the  Talk.

Because I am a visual learner...I discovered this gift to bring home her message a little more.  While I suspect it was created for the corporate/secular world, it was not difficult for me to watch it through the lens of hope and faith in Christ.  Walk the Talk

I do not know why or how I get so off track...trying to do the RIGHT thing!

But, I do know that if I was truly walking the talk that I preach and journal, I would not become so emotionally, physically, and spiritually tired as I have been these last few weeks.  Still, I have the promise that God still loves me and that he will continue to send nourishing crumbs my way.

Tomorrow I am preaching on John 14:1-14. While I love this entire passage, there are verses that stand out for me today:
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.
Using my thoughts from journaling with Macrina, I am using the image of "home" within my sermon.  What do we think of when we think of "home"?

As I have worked on this sermon, I thought back to BPC's Homecoming last year.  Phil and Rhonda Foley joined us for worship and sang a song by Al Denson...Take Me To the Cross.

Why do I forget?

Why do I forget that I am not created to "impress" or "be all things" or...whatever it is that gets me so off track?

Jesus said, "29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29-30

When I am feeling harried, it isn't Jesus' yoke I'm carrying.

I had a wonderful time with my granddaughter yesterday.  We ate breakfast after getting her eye exam.  I ended up eating her pancakes because she thought my fruit and yogurt looked better! We did a little shopping and then went to see Kung Fu Panda. After a breakfast of pancakes I was hoping to avoid the concession counter.  Pleading that we were already late did not convince Payton she did not need popcorn and something to drink. Of course....she shared the popcorn.

A day of pancakes, popcorn, cherry coke....and a lot of love and a lot of laughs.

Yesterday, during those hours Jesus' yoke did feel light. Sometimes I forget I do not have to be "doing" all the time.

Sometimes Jesus' yoke is simply being present in the cleaning of my house.  Seriously!! : )

Working on today's entry I discovered a song by Josh Groban.  I hesitate to call it a crumb, because it seems much more. Still, I know I'm still at a place I could not handle a large feast...

Amen and amen!!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gather Up the Crumbs - III - When the Rain Comes

Third Day is another group that speaks to my heart...when I'm needing a bit of a boost. For those involved in agriculture, I'm sure you will appreciate the hope these lyrics offer.

Third Day
"When The Rain Comes"
When the rain comes it seems that everyone has
gone away
When the night falls you wonder if you shouldn't
find someplace
To run and hide
Escape the pain
But hiding's such a lonely thing to do
I can't stop the rain
From falling down on you again
I can't stop the rain
But I will hold you 'til it goes away

When the rain comes
you blame it on the things that
you have done
When the storm fades
you know that rain must fall
on everyone
Rest awhile
it'll be alright
No one loves you like I do
When the rain comes
I will hold you 

A friend told me today that he had stopped reading my blog because I am all over the place.  I responded, "Well, yes, but that is how I think things through."

He was right.  When I got home I read the past few entries...and my fatigue jumped off the page at me. While I have been saying I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired...I've kept going, but unlike the Energizer Bunny, I've not been running ultra efficiently.  Funny, how the body/mind begin to betray me when I refuse to do more than acknowledge I'm tired.

I've got to get my bulletin to the secretary yet tonight, and then my granddaughter and I are going to snuggle with a movie...and hopefully go to sleep.  Tomorrow I'm taking her to the doctor, out for breakfast, a little shopping and then on to see Kung Fu Panda.

You know, its hard.

I am in a much better place spiritually than I have been, yet, I've so far to go in order to be mentally, physically, AND spiritually healthy!!!

You Alone by....are you ready for this? : ) You Alone by Echoing Angels.  Now, how perfect is that?

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

You Alone
Desperately wanting to just find a way
Searching and seeking for someone to say
That its alright and its ok
Like I know you can

That its alright and its ok
Like I know you can

You alone are God
I am yours and you are mine
And I know the heavens will call out your name
If I don't

I close my eyes
And I drift away
To a place I remember
To a place I feel safe
Where its alright and its ok
Cause I'm there in your arms

Where its alright and its ok
Cause I'm there in your arms

You alone are God
I am yours and you are mine
And I know the heavens will call out your name (repeat)

You forgive me
You accept me
Just as I am
And you love me
And you want me
To understand


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gather Up the Crumbs - II - Becoming Pure Capacity for God

Lord, fill me, use me...
"Remind yourself often, 'I am pure capacity for God; I can be more.'" ~ Macrina Wierderkehr

"Pure Capacity"

"I can be MORE"

Lord, the image I used from The Cup of Life journaling came to my mind.  Lord, today my is full and yes, it is cluttered; but Lord, I think I would be able to deal with that if I wasn't so tired! You know my day, you know it is full and that it will be long. Spirit, I ask for your help.  Help me to step carefully and gently through this day.  Help me to allow myself some of the grace I strive to offer others.  Spirit, I do want to be more and with your help and your encouragement I know that today I can be that for God, for myself, and for others.  AMEN.

Once again my Soul Sister has blessed me with thoughts and music to include in my journal today.

Macrina offers me examples of crumbs that have both nourished and blessed from her own life experiences as a way to help me discover my own.  Crumbs that call me back to my center.
"Although the experiences I mention here have indeed blessed me, there is a quality of presence and discipline still lacking in my life, which accounts, I suppose, for the fact that I still live so half-heartedly...On days when I am honest I see clearly and will not hide behind the lame excuses of my humanness. I have been called to be divinized. My baptism loudly announces that call. There is no such thing as an ordinary Christian. My baptism calls me, in Christ, to be like God. If we want to become like God, we cannot eat the whole loaf at once." (Wierderkehr, p 27)
There is no such thing as an ordinary Christian.

She's right, you know.  To say I am a Christian is to claim Christ's life living through me. At the time, Jesus was seen as being only an ordinary man. Jesus was anything but ordinary!  He knew who he was and whose! He knew his purpose and he stepped into that purpose with a focus that the outside world was unable to distract him from completing.

I am reminded once again of the powerful poem, One Solitary Life...

No, Jesus was anything but ordinary.  I often remind myself and my congregation that he was actually a radical!  Nearly everything he taught....went against popular thought. In the devotion I prepared for the Teams and Elders for tonight's meeting, I offered some insight on John 14:15-21 from Janice Scott. Scott asks me to consider that few if any of the instructions on Christian living came from Jesus.  Even in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is more interested in telling people how to be happy rather than how to behave.

John 14:15-21:   
15"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Role of the Spirit
 16"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;
 17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
 18"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
 19"After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
 20"In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
 21"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments...He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

Macrina encourages me by saying:
"We start small. We remember out littleness, our great need for nourishment. We remember, too, our call to greatness, our pure capacity for God. Yearning to be faithful to such a call, we reach out for every crumb in our path. We meet them face to face. We give them our real presence. We, so to speak, eat them." (Ibid)

Would you believe, I nearly missed the
call because I was "too busy"????
Lord, this morning I did not feel as though I had the time to sit down and read and journal.  I intended to share the video given to me, make an excuse, and jump into this full day.  My tired brain struggled to even write the title for today's entry! Five times, I had to correct typos and that seemed to confirm my resolve that I did not have time to spend with you this morning! Still...your Spirit nudged me to continue reading, to continue writing and reflecting...  Thank you.  No, I didn't read a lot, but these few crumbs have me stepping into this day with a different attitude than when I began.  I am more peaceful within and my brain no longer feels as foggy. Praise be to God! AMEN.

Now, just to make sure I am fully awake, my wonderful Soul Sister also shared this song with me. Enjoy!!

Wow...what a song!! AMEN and AMEN!!
Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gather Up the Crumbs - I - The Reason We Live So Dimly...

"...everything in your life is a stepping-stone to holiness if only you recognize that you do have within you the grace to be present in each moment." ~ Macrina Wiederkehr


My Soul Sister reminded me that it is the "stuff" of my life that God uses to grow transform me....

Francesca seems to have a smile with
all she writes and sings. 
This Is The Stuff by Francesca Battistelli I couldn't help but smile as I listened to this again this morning.  What a great song. Thank you, Sister!

Macrina hits fairly hard as she begins this third chapter:
"We stand in the midst of nourishment and we starve...In the light of such possibility, what happens? Why do we drag our hearts? Look up our souls? Why do we limp? Why do we straddle the issues? Why do we live so feebly, so dimly? Why aren't we saints?" (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 26)
Makes me gasp, but I wonder
if I live like this far to often?
My head immediately responded, "Because I have not seen these possibilities. I am a Child of my World where it is acceptable, even normal to limp along. I am not sure what a Child of God is supposed to look like! I don't know if I've ever seen a Child of God!.................well.....I might have come across a few Child(s) of God but they were not all Christian.....  Now, that is putting myself in a hard spot first thing this Tuesday morning!

Macrina suggests that a common cause that we live so dimly and with divided hearts is that we have never really learned how to be present with quality to God, to self, to others, to experiences and events, to all created things.

No leftovers...
"We have never learned to gather up the crumbs of whatever appears in our path at every moment.We meet all of these lovely gifts only half there. Presence is what we are all starving for. Real presence! We are too busy to be present, too blind to see the nourishment and salvation in the crumbs of life, the experiences of each moment. Yet the secret of daily life is this: THERE ARE NO LEFTOVERS!" (Ibid)
Macrina continues, saying, "There is nothing - no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain - that cannot be harvested and used for nourishment on our journey to God."

This reminds me a lot of Joyce Rupp's thoughts on Disguised Blessings from The Cup of Life.  I never was able to completely brace those thoughts.

"Some of our greatest blessings have been difficult situations, uncomfortable ones we wanted to throw out of our lives as quickly as possible. Sometimes our greatest pain holds a gift for us that is hidden for a long, long time. The blessing is disguised amid the turmoil, confusion, heartache, and struggle. Sometimes we are unable to accept the blessing because we are still too hurt, too angry, too grieved, too overwhelmed, to receive it. It is only much later..." ~ Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life

Macrina, like Joyce, believes that everything in my life is a stepping-stone to holiness if only I recognize that I have within me the grace to be present to each moment.
"Your presence is an energy that you can choose to give or not give. Every experience, every thought, every word, every person in your life (Sandi) is a part of a larger picture of your growth. That's why I call them crumbs. They are not the whole loaf, but they can be nourishing if you give them your real presence. Let everything energize you (Sandi). Let everything bless you (Sandi). Even your limping can bless you." (Wiederkehr, p 27) 
Remember when I shared a thought of Eugene Peterson's from "Eat This Book"? In this book he talks about watching his dog gnaw and enjoy a bone.  Chewing on it, licking it, holding it between his paws...and he began to wonder what it would be like to read scripture like his dog chewed on and enjoyed a bone.

Here is a great link to listen to Peterson explain the difference between "reading" and "studying".  It was a gift for me to find it since he articulates so well what I have been trying to say to others about Bible "study."  I'm not a big fan of Bible "study"....   (I would love to visit/stay Laity Lodge!)

Anyhow, I have never "read" a book as slowly as I am reading A Tree Full of Angels. Since I am journaling about this book and the thoughts and questions that arise as I takes a long time!  And you know what? That is not how I am normally geared.  It is nothing for me to say, "I've read two books this week." But, if you asked me about those books four weeks later... I would be pressed to tell you what I "read."

This morning, I realized I am doing more than "reading or studying" this book....I am eating this book.  I am chewing on phrases, insights, stories...

This past weekend I participated in leading a Lead Like Jesus One Day Encounter, based on Ken Blanchard's book, Lead Like Jesus. Blanchard talks about there being four domains of leading like Jesus, The Heart, The Head, The Hands, and The Habits. (4-Hers...does this sound familiar?)

Withing The Habits he talks about different spiritual disciplines. There are MANY disciplines AND I am not expected to embrace/do/excel at all the disciplines.  What I want to do is to discover the disciplines that work for me and use them to help me grow deeper in my relationship with myself and with God. Journaling is a spiritual discipline that works for me. And, journaling online helps me to stay faithful, there is an invisible accountability group around me that asks, "Sandi, have you done what feeds your soul?" "Sandi, have you taken time to be present to God?"  If I didn't have to work, I would love to publish a blog
on Spiritual Disciplines and maybe one focused only on journaling... maybe someday...

Michael is a gifted worship leader.
Until then...Lord, Draw Me Near, and I'll Run After You... Michael W Smith

Again....Anyhow, this is going to be a much slower read than I had even anticipated, and that is okay.  God won't ask me how many books I read.  He may ask what I learned from my books, how they helped me seek his face, ....

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Monday, May 23, 2011

Frail and Glorious - VIII -The gift of God is the Divine Indwelling

 Two frail moments in the life of Jesus richly bless us: the crib and the cross. ~ Macrina Wiederkehr

This past Christmas Eve we focused on The Cradle and The Cross.  As we neared communion a young woman entered from the rear of the sanctuary.  She was robed and barefoot, but what was the immediate focus was how she coddled the "baby" in her arms.  She was oblivious to the congregation and to the dark robed man entering from another side of the sanctuary. The man was caring a large wooden cross who quietly made his way to the front of the sanctuary and placed the cross behind the empty manger.

The Mary character continued to move forward until she came to the manger, where she knelt, kissed her "baby" and placed it in the manger. I gave a short mediation and then the congregation stood to sing, "O Come, All Ye Faithful".  At the end of the carol, the congregation sat down, I walked over to the manger, picked up the "baby" and moved behind the Table.  Once I unwrapped the "baby" I held up the bread, blessed it, and broke it.....

John 14:16-20   16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

"I will not leave you as orphans" was the focus of my message and communion yesterday.
"Every time I say no to the birthing and dying that is set before me at the table of daily life, I seem to hear the echo of Jesus' words to the woman at the well, 'If you but knew the gift of God...'" (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 24)
Remember Macrina's anger when she realized the liturgy of a daily office suggested that a baby was the "tabernacle of Satan"?  As this chapter ends, she states her belief that at baptism, I became a tabernacle for the "Source of Life."
"When you come to understand this old, yet often forgotten truth, you will know what is meant by the words 'heaven on earth.' This is it. You are beginning to live heaven on earth in the Divine Indwelling. You, frail earth-creature, having given your frailty over to God, have created a place of splendor within the depths of your being, a holy and eternal space where you meet God face to face. Cherish this truth. It is costly grace." (Ibid)
I have heard "Christ within me" so many times, yet if I pause to REALLY consider what that means.... I can only say, "Wow."

"A splendor within the depths of my being".  It would have to be splendor for God to be there.  He could not inhabit anything less!

It is 'costly grace' because if I live into this reality, I will never be the same. If I live into this reality, I let go of my illusion of control and allow God to lead me.

Still, journaling about this reality, I still all to often Edge God Out (EGO).  I was reminded of this yesterday morning as I prepared a communion kit to take to the surgery patient and her family from this past Friday.  Lifting the lid my first thought was, "Wow! Someone already anticipated my need!" But, then I looked closer...

The bread was MOLDY.  Very moldy.  I lacked the nerve to take the lid from the juice container.

I started to throw it away, but then paused and really looked at that awful bread.... Several thoughts came to mind:
1. What a waste...
2. YUK!!
but I stayed longer than the initial "yuk"...

3. "How sad. Something that was created to be nourishing has become moldy because it lay forgotten on a a container used for communion no less!!!"

4. "How often do I become like this moldy bread. A Child of God created to be nourishing and life giving to others. How often have I become like this moldy bread?"

5. "Thank God, I do not get tossed out in the garbage like this bread will be tossed! Thank God, I am given another opportunity to live and be as I was created."

Macrina closes this chapter with another poem:

O frail and glorious creature
whoever you are,
Cherish this truth:
there are hints of glory in your being
seeds of splendor
traces of holiness.

To be divinized is your destiny.
Your original union
yearns for a place in your life.

Walk gently, then, with your frailty
Like a treasure hidden in a field....
Allow it to bless you.
It will not cripple you
unless you run from it.
Embrace it instead.
Carry it as one carries
the cherished secret of a great wealth
hidden away in a holy, eternal space
like a treasure hidden in a field.

That's you!
You fragile, noble being
Yes, there are whispers of greatness 
in the frail envelope of your being.

The dust of the Ash Wednesdays of your life 
is tinged with the glory of your Easters.
Your tomb is a womb of life;
you are hidden with Christ in God.
The dust of your life fades into glory.

O frail and glorious creature
from the crib to the cross
to be divinized is your destiny.
Your original union cries out
to become flesh in your life.
Your frailty and your glory
Your littleness and your greatness
yearn to come home in your heart.

The heavens have heard
whispers of your splendor
and God still weeps at your birth.

Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and your peace so that I might travel fearlessly through the steps/process to become life-giving and nourishing to others.  Life-giving me become the Child of God I was created to be!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Frail and Glorious - VII

The surgery yesterday was long, thus I got home late and I began working on gathering supplies and running off power point note pages for the Lead Like Jesus Encounter today... I would say I'm stressed, but I'm too tired to be stressed. : )  Lord, help me remember I am not in charge of this world...Lord, help me remember I am yours and that you are the great I AM!

Sarah Young writes in her devotional, Jesus Calling,
"I the Creator of the universe, am with you and for you. What more could you need? When you feel some lack, it is because you are not connecting with me at a deep level. I offer abundant Life; your part is to trust Me, refusing to worry about anything. 
"It is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events. Your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation, to bring about the result you desire. Your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves. Determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life. The only remedy is to switch your focus from the  problem to My Presence. Stop all your striving, and watch to what I will do. I am the Lord!"
I like this devotion book so much and that is honestly unusual for me.  I normally get bored with a daily devotion, but this one is different.

Frederick Buechner
As I prepare for yet another busy day...I found a quote by Frederick Buechner. I've actually copied it off and have put it inside my facilitator's notebook for today. I have been around so much death or dying this past week. Sometimes, as I go from one thing to another, I wonder what difference it makes? When I begin to get really tired, I sometimes go with harder questions of doubts, "Is this all there is?"  I actually had a conversation along that line with a family member of the woman who had surgery yesterday. When asked...I've never crossed over and seen with my own eyes!  Not being able to answer except from a place of hope and faith, the man began asking even more difficult questions...
"We find by losing. We hold fastby letting go. We become somethingnew by ceasing to be something old.This seems to be close to the heartof that mystery. I know no more now than I ever did about the far side ofdeath as the last letting-go of all,but now I know that I do not needto know, and that I do not needto be afraid of not knowing.God knows. That is all that matters." 

God knows...That is all that matters.

I'm so glad I am not in charge! My little corner of the world is enough chaos to keep my head spinning, I cannot imagine the awesomeness of God to know "me" within so much else.

Jeremiah 1:5 says,   “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,   before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Matthew 10:30 reminds me that,  "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."

John 15:10 promises that, "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love."

In other words, God knows ME!  He knows my name. He even knows the number of hairs on my head, that is how special I am to him.  I'm frail and I'm glorious! How great is that! I cannot believe that I will be simply "forgotten" like a speck of dust if I truly believe I am known and loved.

I may or may not get an opportunity to journal about that little book I picked up at the garage sale.  Tomorrow is Sunday...another full day after several full days.  Still, with God's help, I can remain present within each day.

Lord, today is the long awaited Lead Like Jesus One Day Encounter for the presbytery.  So many of us who have worked on this are also pastors...solo pastors of congregations.  Lord, you know each of our hearts.  Lord, you know us...each by name.  Lord, fill us with your Spirit today.  Help us to be a blessing to those who are attending this day long encounter.  And Lord, help me to remember to seek your face in each one I serve today.  AMEN!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frail and Glorious - VI

an English-American rock band
When my heart, ears, and eyes are open, "crumbs" seem to fall at my feet faster than I can gather.  Yesterday, I had a feast of crumbs...but not the kind I had expected.  For example, I heard this song by The Pretenders playing in a store.  I didn't realize it was playing until I found myself humming a long.  Once I realized, I continued to mindlessly hum, until...

...until I stopped and really listened to the words of this song.

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now

You don't know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

When you're standing at the crossroads
And don't know which path to choose
Let me come along

And when...
When the night falls on you, baby
You're feeling all alone
You won't be on your own

And, my favorite lines:

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you

Yes, I know.  The Pretenders are a rock band, but here's the thing... I believe God uses what he has available that will reach my heart and soul and yesterday it was an English-American rock band who brought me a word of grace and scattered crumbs of love and nourishment at my feet.
Brain - Fog

I have been a bit discouraged, but, no I haven't been in my "darkest hour". My brain has felt foggy as I have worked through this chapter. It has seemed as though I'm "getting it" but then I'm lost...again. The words of this song reminded me that I am loved, in all my squirrelishness, my fogginess, and that I am never alone.  And yes, I do "know" all of that. Yet hearing those words in those moments...

...they were greatly appreciated crumbs of grace.

Macrina says that we do not full appreciate the great honor it is to be brothers and sisters in the family of God. and that each time we choose the cheap grace of being uninvolved, the baptismal waters dry up a bit more and we leave each other still further in the dust.
" God's great compassion, our splendor is rescued from the dust that settles on it. Through the dust we see the face of the risen Christ and our own face of glory. We are frail and glorious creatures. This is the gift of baptism...The invitation of baptism is to be like God, which means being like Jesus." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 24)
Frail and Glorious
Remember when I journaled about the frailty and the glory of the cross?  Macrina reminds me that there were two frail and glorious moments in Jesus' life that richly bless me.
1. Jesus was born in a manger to two peasants and surrounded by livestock and shepherds.
2. Jesus was killed as a thief, in poverty, outside the walls of Jerusalem. 
One man, born in a manger and killed on a cross changed the world.  The manger and the cross became glorious, just as my frail moments can become glorious.

Yesterday, I received another gift, another crumb.  I decided to go ride a bike to nowhere before returning to my office to work. There was construction on the street to the health facility and while sitting, I saw a sign for a garage sale.

"Oh, what the heck..."

I admired the landscaping along the walk leading to the garage, but other than that, there wasn't much I was interested in until...

...there have been several of those "until" moments the past couple of days. On a table toward the front of the garage I spotted a small book, "The Book of the Shepherd" by Joann Davis.
"...set in a mythical time, in an unnamed land, 'The Book of the Shepherd' tells the tale of a shepherd, Joshua, who is troubled by the harsh code of an 'eye for an eye' that governs his world. Called by a dream, the shepherd sets off on a journey to find 'the new way.'"
Shrugging, I thought, "Well, it will give me something to read while I bike to nowhere." But, once again, this little book that did not say anything that surprised me....offered me crumbs of love, grace,....

I'm going to write some words and phrases from this little book, but I've got to get out of here to be present for an emergency heart surgery on one of my congregants this morning.  I was supposed to be involved with the set-up and last minute work for tomorrow's workshop!  But... I'm a pastor...  But, more than that, I am a woman who cares about people and this morning there is an elderly man and woman who's independence rests on her health.  There are daughters anxiously waiting for some good news.  There are grandchildren, one of which I officiated at her wedding two weeks ago...and great-grandchildren...all frightened and worried.
Darcie .... Sandi

It is moments like this that I struggle with some of Macrina's thoughts about the waters of my baptism drying up because of being uninvolved.  Once again, I was surprised and touched as my congregation spread word of needed prayers yesterday.  I was surprised and touched as people thought of ways they can help.  I was surprised and touched...because once again I saw the Church reaching out in love....and I wasn't really surprised as much as being fully aware.

I get discouraged by the Church and her lack of being "uninvolved" at times. Yet, I am beginning to appreciate that those moments are often "MY" definition of "involvement."

I become critical and judgmental, missing the grace of crumbs that are all around me. When I miss the crumbs, I become hungry, I begin to feel lost and then I am frustrated, sad, a bit angry... which then prevent me from seeing even MORE crumbs of grace and love!

Another crumb that was dropped at my feet yesterday was the discovery of JJ Heller.  I suspect I will be using her a lot within this journal.  If I could write, I would write the same words I have heard from her! Praise God for people like JJ Heller who put words to my thoughts!

Invisible Love by JJ Heller....

If my arms could reach around You
I would never move
If my eyes could see You
I'd have no faith left to prove
The wonder of invisible love

This is how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible love

When I fall I feel Your arms before I reach the ground
Lord, I know Your whisper, though I've never heard the sound
The wonder of invisible love

This is how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible...

Some day there will be no time to mind
I will be Your long awaited bride
We will dance away the night

This is how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible love

It's how it has to be
With You and me
The wonder of invisible love

God, your love is invisible, only if my heart is not present in the moment. Over and again, you feed me, you nourish me, you offer me living water...all in abundance if my eyes and heart are only opened to receiving your gracious gifts.  Thank you for the blessing of those crumbs that come from unexpected places! Rock bands, garage sales...and JJ Heller.  Just when the grayness of life begins to feel crushing and I become critical and judgmental, you offer me light.  This morning Lord, I lift up to you all the farmers that are watching gray and rainy skies.  You know their needs and you know each of their hearts....  Lord, I lift up to you Pat, her husband and all the family as they gather together in anxiety and in hope.  Help me to truly be present to them.  Help me to be mindful of the crumbs you offer me so that I might be able to offer them crumbs from my abundance. AMEN,

Many Blessings ~ Sandi