ONE THOUSAND GIFTS

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This Journey Called Life - II


It's the Circle of Life, And it moves us all, Through despair and hope, Through faith and love, Till we find our place, On the path unwinding, In the Circle, The Circle of Life. ~ Tim Rice

A reader shared that she had thought of the Disney movie Lion King while reading my thoughts in the first post. I smiled, because I had actually begun to hum the song "The Circle of Life" as I wrote that post!

Lion King is one of my favorite movies. This morning I decided to watch the clip of that first scene on Youtube, and I was blessed by images even greater than what I was searching for. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as I!

The Real Lion King - The Circle of Life

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Friday, July 29, 2011

This Journey Called Life

We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey. ~ Stephen Covey

John Michael Talbot's gentle voice and his words so speak to my questioning heart...Father, I Put My Life Into Your Hands....

These days seem to be full of .... so many different emotions, celebrations, uncertainties....

One, my mother-in-law, who lives within a stone's throw, is losing her battle with cancer. She has lived a good life, and she is ready to leave this earth...Yet, those who love, are seldom ready to say good-bye.

At the same time, I am anxiously awaiting the birth of Daughter #3's first child. Talking with her this evening, she has begun to thin, so it will only be a few weeks before we get to meet this new little person.

As we await both the death and the new life of ones we love, life goes on.


Tonight, I listened to the thunder, I watched the dark clouds pass us by, and I said a prayer for much needed rain to come on our acres of corn and beans.

Tonight, Nancy and I baked and cooked in preparation for the celebration of Payton's 5th Birthday!

Tonight, I read an email from my brother talking about the 7 y.o. grandson of a friend who lies in a hospital following a freak accident. He shared that his wife will be moving her mother into a nursing home on Monday. He talked of crops drying up in the field...

Yesterday, Today, and Tonight, I have played and been entertained by Evan, Payton, and Cooper.

Honestly, I don't know what I am to be feeling as I sit within this time...this time of death, celebration, birth....and everything in between.

But, wait. I talk of living from an Attitude of Gratitude...

Lord, I am grateful for the opportunity to be alive with these people at this time, sharing the struggles and the joys.

I am grateful you created me to experience both tears of joy and tears of sorrow! For without them, I would not be fully alive!

I am grateful for the beauty of this earth, because in drought or flood...this earth is magnificent!

I am grateful for the life of Elmerree, for the gift of Payton in my life, and for the wonder of the upcoming birth of a new child, a new beginning...in just a few short weeks!

I am grateful for my family (parents, husband, brothers, daughters, cousins...) and that we are bound together in such a way that we are free to share the grief that rips through our hearts and souls as well as celebrate the joys that bring wonderful laughter.

I am so grateful to be a unique, gifted, and much loved child of God!

As I sit and write, I am reminded of the passage from Romans 8:1-4 that says:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Hallelujah and Amen!

Thanks for listening. It helps to write, it puts everything in perspective.



God, you are greater and stronger than any of the things we carry or come across on our journey of life! You defeated death, so we need not fear ever being separated from you! As I listen to rolling thunder in the distance, as I listen to news from Washington, as I await a telephone call from Elmerree and from Laura, as I prepare to celebrate Payton's birthday, as I hold my brother and all his concerns in prayer....through your Spirit, may I live in gratitude, knowing you are in control! AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hope

Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. ~George Iles

My Hope Is In You Lord - Aaron Shust

Yesterday, while driving, I became lost in my mental wanderings. I began thinking of those who preach of a spirituality that is "bigger or beyond" Jesus. I have to admit, I am a Christian who does not believe that Jesus is the only way...He's "MY" way, yet I cannot say he is the "only" way. I think because of my openness, those who believe differently than me, often feel comfortable sharing their own thoughts, their own wanderings and where those take them.

I believe that Jesus is bigger than my definition or understanding of him. I believe that he is present in places that would not be labeled as being "Christian."

How?

I don't know, he is Lord and in "my" mind, that means he is bigger and broader than I can comprehend.

Yesterday, thinking of these different pathways that are bigger/broader than any religion, I wondered where they find hope. I know that many who live from this position, live in the present moment, without concern for tomorrow because this moment is all we truly know we have...

2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith and not by sight."

For me, walking by faith, even though I cannot "see", I do see!

I see God all around me and I believe I see because of the grace found within Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the grace I have discovered in Jesus, I would struggle because it is my "hope" in him that helps me to ride the joys and the pains of this life.

This morning, I felt as though God was once listening in on my thoughts when I opened Sarah Young's devotional, Jesus Calling. For today, using Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and Hebrews 6:18-19 she writes:
http://www.markcassino.com/b2evolution/
index.php/2006_spring_wildflowers_viii
"Hope is a golden cord connecting you to heaven. This cord helps you hold your head up high, even when multiple trials are buffeting you. I never leave your side, and I never let go of your hand. But without the cord of hope, your head may slump and your feet may shuffle as you journey uphill with Me. Hope lifts your perspective from your weary feet to the glorious view you can see from the high road. You are reminded that the road we're traveling together is ultimately a highway to heaven. When you consider this radiant destination, the roughness or smoothness of the road ahead becomes much less significant. I am training you to hold in your heart a dual focus: My continual Presence and the hope of heaven." 
I smiled, appreciating and acknowledging the love of God that holds me and is within me as I read this passage. Because I'm warped, I looked up from the book and said, "Are you listening to every word I say or think this week?"

"Hope is a golden cord..."

We are living through the second drought in the same number of years. My family, my neighbors, many in my congregation depend on a good crop, yet for the second summer in a row, we are watching corn and beans "grow" in parched soil.

Without hope, I would be like those stalks of corn. I would be walking through this life, parched... Without the "living water" of my hope in Christ, my head would indeed droop, because living on this earth is painful, it is difficult. Hope is a cord, as Sarah Young writes, it is a "golden cord" a cord of great value that connects me to that which I cannot see except through the eyes of faith.

Today, I thank and praise you, Lord, for the gift of hope that resides in my heart! I thank and praise you for the teachers you send along my way, just when my head does begin to feel a bit heavy. I thank and praise you for people in my life who send encouraging notes or emails, they are woven within that golden cord that connects me to you for through them, I see you! I ask you blessing upon them, may their lives be touched by your love, may their sense of hope be strengthened, as they too walk by faith. AMEN.


Jeremy Camp - Walk by Faith... 


Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Monday, July 25, 2011

BAM! POW! SMACK!

What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?" ~ W.H. Davies



This morning God has sent me one blessing - BAM!

In case I did not notice, POW! Another blessing.

The last one, hit me right between the eyes, SMACK! I would have had to be totally numb, not to have received that one.

I love it when he works so hard to make sure I get the message!

First, this morning I was going to search for a quote on "something" (God's been so busy hitting me, I've totally forgotten what!) but before I could type in the last word "life" filled the blank..."quotes on life." That had not been what I was going to look for, but decided to click, and I discovered the above quote by W.H. Davies.

"Hmmm, that's nice." I thought.

I did pause to write it down.

A short time later, I picked up Sarah Young's devotional, Jesus Calling. Today's devotion is based on John 10:27; Romans 8:28; and Jeremiah 29:13:
 "As you  listen to birds calling to one another, hear also My Love-call to you. I speak to you continually: through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, Scripture. There is no limit to the variety of ways I can communicate with you. Your part is to be attentive to My messages, in whatever form they come. When you set out to find Me in a day, you discover that he world is vibrantly alive with My Presence. You can find Me not only in beauty and birdcalls, but also in tragedy and faces filled with grief. I can take the deepest sorrow and weave it into a patter for good.
Search for Me and My messages, as you go through this day. You will see Me and find Me when you see Me with your whole being." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, July 25)
Earlier this morning, I had sent the following email to a seasoned pastor:   I’m a solo pastor of a 120 member PC(USA) congregation in rural Indiana. I feel as though I’m fighting a Demon(s) of Despair…and the Demon is winning.


From there, I shared all the things going on within my congregation: health concerns, drought, corn fields flattened by wind storms, stressed couples, cancer, financial worries, oppressive heat...


I admitted that I feel like Pollyanna wearing rose-colored glasses with my message of "Living from an Attitude of Gratitude."


Bam...Pow...How did God know I feel as though I am fighting a demon of despair within my congregation?


Psalm 139......
"Sandi, Sandi...I know you when you sit down and when you rise. I perceive your thoughts from a far..."


Then, the final, Smack... from Macrina's book on page 107...
"There was a time when I tried to do everything right and proper. That seemed to be my goal. But suddenly all I want is to be holy. I long so for a deep holiness." (Klara) 
I have longed for deep holiness, thinking then I could bring comfort to those in my congregation and my family.  "If I could just be holy enough, then I could fight these demons that are attacking people for whom I care!" My best buddy would most likely tell me this is "stinkin thinkin."

Macrina writes that what she believes the world needs is "feminine energy" and she describes that energy in various ways but ends by saying,'
"Feminine energy shows her best face in leisure. She doesn't take time. She has time. She has time to be. The world is starving for this energy...a slow flame that burns from within and gradually transforms what it touches, precisely because it touches rather than clutches." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 108)
David Steindl-Rast defines leisure as taking things separate, one by one, and singling them out for grateful consideration.  Macrina compares his thoughts to those of Opal Whiteley (page 102-103) who spoke of having long looks at things.

Holding the wisdom and insights of Steindl-Rast and Whiteley, Macrina writes:

"So today I'm taking things to my heart, one by one. I'm singling them out for grateful consideration. ...whenever you single out something or someone for grateful consideration you have a little celebration...these little momentary celebrations may be the very secret of holiness." (Wiederkehr, p 109)
I am not a saint! I am Sandi and when I deal with
one demon at a time, I can breathe and find God.
 When I begin piling all the concerns of my congregation and my family into my heart all at once, of course I am overwhelmed by all the many little demons! Of course I begin to feel the despair of the world!

Demons are tricky.  They can take the form of "caring" for another which of course is not a bad thing! Yet, when I "care" for this person, that person, this situation, that situation...all at once...

BAM! ~ W.H. Davies, "What is this life...[if] we have not time to stand and stare?"

POW! ~ Sarah Young, "...When you set out to find Me...you discover that the world is vibrantly alive with My Presence...find Me not only in birdcalls, but ... in tragedy and faces filled with grief..."


SMACK! ~ Macrina, "Take long looks at everything. Single many things out for grateful consideration."


God, when I pause to take a deep breath, I know you are here in the midst of cancer, financial concerns, troubled relationships, drought, destroyed crops...just as you are here in the sunrise, the hummingbirds, the cooing of the dove, the gentle breeze, the smile of my grandkids... Forgive me when I begin thinking it is up to me to solve the problems and concerns of all those for whom I care. By your Spirit, help me to remain still so that I might reflect your presence within this world. For, when your presence is reflected...stand back and watch what you can do!" Thank you for the teachers you send my way. AMEN.


I have spent a lot of time...yet, before I leave...

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Obedience

When we learn to say a deep, passionate yes to the things that really matter... then peace begins to settle onto our lives like golden sunlight sifting to a forest floor. ~ Thomas Kincaid




I normally preach from the lectionary. I admit to preaching from the lectionary so I am not searching for scripture verses to back up my sometimes radical thoughts! This week, the reading from the Hebrew Scriptures is Genesis 29:15-28, the story of Laban's trickery on the night of Jacob and Rachel's wedding, which, if you know the story Jacob married Rachel's older sister Leah without knowing. In Psalm 119:129-136 the psalmist celebrates God's law and prays for God's mercy so that he might guided by God's way.

Then in Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52 Jesus describes God's kingdom  by using five different parables: it is like a tiny mustard seed, growing into a large tree, like a small amount of yeast that permeates the dough in baking, like the treasure hidden in a field and like a precious pearl. Lastly, Jesus says, it is like a fishing net in which many fish are caught. After the net is brought in, the good ones kept and the bad ones thrown out.


One of my professors absolutely loved St. Augustine and he enjoyed tying in quotes of this early Church Father to nearly every class he led. One of his favorite Augustine quotes came to my mind as I read these passages and throught of tomorrow's sermon:  "Love God, and do what you want!"


I'm a rule breaker.


Rules make me nervous. Give me a rule, and I'll work to understand it so I can find a way around!


I know...not one of the best traits to have. Still, I need to confess this so I can admit that when I read about "obeying God's rules"....I feel skittish.  


I felt skittish until I understood that if and when I give God my heart, then I don't think of "obeying his will" as constraining! It is what I want to do to the best of my ability, because I love him!


http://www.flickr.com/photos/dallaportfolio/375969264/
Earlier this evening I was talking with another woman. She shared how she sometimes just goes without turning on the evening news. We talked about the oppressing heat. We shared concerns regarding the health of some greatly loved individuals. We talked how so many seem to feel so very tired.


I smile at the image of the little boy, captured so well in this photograph, yet the heaviness of what my friend was sharing, is not endearing or cute, it is simply painful.


What am I...what are we to do?


The words of that old hymn immediately came to my mind, Trust and Obey.


Jacob obeyed Laban and worked for the hand of Rachel. He later said that the years seemed to go by very quickly because he was working for the love of someone very special.


The psalmist celebrates God's law and asks for mercy to help him follow the law.


Then Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God being worth more than anything I can imagine here on earth.  Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God coming from something as tiny as a mustard seed.


Yes, I am a breaker of rules, although growing up, I was very obedient simply because I never wanted to do anything that would cause my Dad to be disappointed in his little girl. And here I am, all these years later, still a breaker of rules...except for the rules that really count.


As St. Augustine said, "Love God, and do what you want."


So, I will love God by offering him praise...every evening , no matter how I am feeling by writing three praises...three gratitudes in my journal. Three little mustard seeds of gratitude a long with a prayer  "135 Look upon me with love; teach me your decrees.(Ps: 119:135)


This road of life is not always easy and it sure as heck sometimes does not seem to make a lot of sense!!!  Yet, it is not for me to know nor to judge, it is for me to love my God and to obey his will.

I needed a smile this evening and found it in this short video on obedience:
Sermonspice - Obedience

Holy God, I do not always understand why this person has to hurt, why we go without rain or why floods take away homes...God, I don't understand why my own body cannot be healed so I don't hurt, so my life is not so difficult, yet...this life is a gift and I thank you and I praise you! Lord, I ask for your grace and your mercy so that I might better obey your will, so that I might better serve you. By your Spirit, help me to say "Yes!" to what is truly important and then, may I know your peace.  AMEN.


Chris Rice - Everything is Okay

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Friday, July 22, 2011

Finding God Within Written Letters


L. Carpenter 1920-2010

“What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't reread a phone call.”  ~ Liz Carpenter


Lately, I have been journaling about my book on this first page, because my thoughts have seemed to be shaped by what I have been reading. Today is no exception. This past weekend, a group of women who all share the same Great-Grandmother, gathered in the county that holds the life of our Grandmother. Sunday afternoon, we were around my mother's dining table reading old diary entries, studying pictures, and reading letters.  Having so recently spent time reading letters of my great-grandmother, Della, Goethe's quote was particularly interesting to me...

“We lay aside letters never to read them again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life, irrecoverable for ourselves and for others.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A wonderful reminder how we can sometimes reach deeper, allowing thoughts and questions to arise, through the writing of a letter:
Dear Mister God  by the Warren Brothers...

At some point, I hope to share some of the letters I read along with my cousins last weekend. They are a testimony to something we have lost...but these thoughts are for another posting!

Having so recently spent time reading old letters, I was surprised and then delighted by the title of chapter 8 in Macrina's book: 8. Finding God in the Mailbox. 
"Letters are the stories of our souls. Unlike a telephone call, a letter can be picked up again and again. It can be deeply pondered. It can be eaten. Always serve letters with a cup of tea and a footstool. Celebrate the reading slowly. It is irreverent to read a letter fast." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 105)
Macrina continues, writing:
Oh, how I looked forward
to letters while at P.U.!
"I treasure my letters like early morning sunrises. I see the rays between the lines. I hear the dreams and the yearnings, the gratitude and the delight. I hear the questions and the musings, all coming from the heart of this newly published author. A letter bears its own copyright. Standing before my mailbox holding an original very limited edition in my hands is like standing before a feast."  (Ibid)
Macrina writes of letters written by Saint Basil to Olympius. Through his letters, we can get a glimpse into the humanity of the saints. The spiritual letters of John Chapman are filled with wonderful advice to those seeking spiritual growth.

Lastly, Macrina shares a letter by my new friend, Etty Hillesum who wrote to her friend, Tide from Westerbrook. She describes a little hunchback Russian woman in the concentration camp:
"She stands there in front of me, a green silk kimono wrapped round her small, misshapen figure. She has the very wise, bright eyes of a child. She looks at me for a long time in silence, searching, and then says, 'I would like, oh, I really would like to be able to swim away in my tear.'...She asks me with her strange accent in the voice of a child that begs for forgiveness. 'Surely God will be able to understand my doubts in a world like this, won't He?' Then she turns  away from me in an almost loving gesture of infinite sadness, and throughout the night I see the misshapen, green, silk-clad figure moving between beds, doing small services for those about to depart." (Ibid)
A strange picture with a
powerful message!
Macrina shares how this portion of Etty's letter stayed with her for several weeks, feeding her in ways that surprised her. I had not thought of letters feeding me, but I can see what Macrina means. As she says, letters may feed me the sorrow that makes me want to turn away from my own shallow living. Letters may feed me the wisdom that leads me to explore new depths. As I discovered, reading my great-grandmother's letters, letters may help one either revel in the memory of a loved one or meet this individual as if for the first time. Lastly, letters may feed me with encouragement that allows me the ability to think bigger, to dream broader.

Now, to my lesson from this chapter! Macrina writes:
"It has long been a custom of mine to pray with the letters I receive. Sometimes, I sit quietly holding the memory of the sender in my heart. Jesus and I look on the author of the letter with love. At times I use a single phrase from a letter as my prayer-mantra throughout the day." (Wiederkehr, p 107)
In Chapter 8 of her book, Macrina shares journal pieces of letters from friends and her prayer responses to them. She tells me that she has chosen to use the letter format for her responses, even if her journal entries were not always sent as letters.
"These selections are indeed testimonies to the truth that God can be found in the mailbox."  (Ibid)
My mother has always written letters, especially when she and my dad are traveling.  What's the old saying of not knowing what you have...?  I've never kept any of her letters, and that I regret. Laura, daughter #3, shared this morning that she began keeping Grandma's letters a couple of years ago. Then she shared how Grandma had said some really powerful things during the time Grandpa was having surgery last December.

Recently, I have begun keeping "journals" for each of my grandkids. However, reading Macrina's thoughts, I realize that I'm actually writing them letters.  Each journal entry begins with the child's name. Then I write about my thoughts on my day, something that has happened in the world, a quote.... Sometimes I doodle. : )

Macrina's reminder that God can be found in the mailbox has served to purposes for me.

  1. It is a reminder that God is EVERYWHERE and within EVERYTHING and within EVERYONE! As Michael W. Smith sings, "God is the very air I breathe..."
  2. It is a reminder that when I journal, sometimes my writing is a letter to God. While I had not thought of this being directly true... it brings a different lens to the things I write.
  3. It is a reminder of the value of taking time to write to another.
  4. It is a reminder to value what I receive in this moment, and to not take it for granted.
Lessons learned. This reminds me of one of my favorite songs:


Yes, I regret that I have not kept letters, I regret not writing letters...and today, these are lessons for me to learn and maybe to share with another.  I'm looking forward to this chapter as I continue reading my Grandpa's notes and stories and my Great-Grandmother's letters AND possibly sharing some of these new ah-ha's in letters to my own grandkids!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi



Thursday, July 21, 2011

When I am weak...





: ) I love Taz. God love this funny little
character! I feel a lot like he looks!
It has been a rough few days. That may be obvious to those who have been following me since there has been no blog post for a couple of days. This evening, I have thoughts to share from my own heart as well as my thoughts from Chapter 8 of Macrina's book. I have thoughts, but my body is to tired to sit at the computer. I would kill for a back massage! : )

I don't know about others, but with me, it is easy for despair to begin to seep into my soul when I am so physically tired. Knowing this, I went in search of music to ease my frazzled nerves and I began my search with Don Moen. The man speaks to me when I am feeling tired and edgy...when I am feeling a little distant from God.

Honestly? I am fairly certain that my fatigue comes not from just the physical, although that is great. I think this fatigue is also from the fact I have not had moments of quiet prayer and reflection for the past 2-3 days. Like I just said, I feel a bit distant from God...and you know what! I know he is not the one who has moved!

I used to go like this for days on end, but now, I know there is more to real living than rushing from one thing to another. At this point in my life journey, I can appreciate that when I do not have those honest moments with God, I have missed out on nourishment that feeds more than just my heart.

I'm going to call it an early night, knowing that tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow will be a full day! A sermon to finish, a bulletin to prepare, August's calendar to complete for the church, calls to return, AND time spent in prayer and refection as I journal and read. Praise God for the gift of night and the gift of rest! Praise God, for the promise within a new day!

Lord, I long to feel your presence within me and around me. I surrender to you, I no longer want to pretend that I can do this life alone...I don't want to go it alone! Lord, I want you to lead me and guide me along this path! I thank you and I praise you! AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Monday, July 18, 2011

Unspoken Truth is Spoken Everywhere

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.  ~Author unknown, variation of an excerpt from "The Serenity Prayer" by Reinhold Neibuhr




What if I had done more than go through the motions?


What if I had confronted another when I knew their path was wrong?


Oh, wait..."I" knew their path was "wrong"... 


Everything in life holds both a blessing and a curse.  When we label or judge something to be either good or bad, we deny this reality. One of my favorite Zen stories illustrates this lesson better than I could ever hope to explain:
A farmer had a horse but one day, the horse ran
away and so the farmer and his son had to plow 
their fields themselves. Their neighbors said, "Oh,
what bad luck that your horse ran away!" But the
farmer replied, "Bad luck, good luck, who knows?"


The next week, the horse returned to the farm
bringing a herd of wild horses with him. "What
wonderful luck! cried the neighbors, but the farmer
responded, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"


Then the farmer's son was thrown as he tried to
ride one of the wild horses, and he broke his
leg. "Ah, such bad luck," sympathized the neighbors.
Once again, the farmer responded, "Bad luck, good
luck, who knows?"


A short time later, the ruler of the country
recruited all young men to join his army for battle.
The son, with his broken leg, was left at home.
"What good luck that your son was not forced into
battle!" celebrated the neighbors. And the farmer
remarked, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"


"Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken."


This ZEN story came to mind this morning after opening my NIV Bible, looking for direction on how to manage mounting stories regarding someone for whom I care. I drifted through pages until Psalm 19:1-4 seemed to pull out to my fingers:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them
.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world. 
This morning I was wrestling with the questions of do I confront?  Do I stay quiet? And then I found Psalm 19.

Using the discipline of Lectio Divina, I began reading, and as you can see, I did not get far! "...no words." and "...no sound." then "... their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

It is my inner Demon who screams
at me to react and to worry.
Sitting with these words, the Zen story of judging something as being good or bad came to mind.
"But!" my mind screamed, "What is happening is wrong! It will cause so much hurt!"
My "reaction" is to confront, yet I hear another voice whispering through the clamor... "San, how do you know whether this is good or bad?"

"Of course it is bad! How could it not be bad?"


"San, how do you know?"


Yesterday I preached on Genesis 28:10-19, Jacob's Dream. One thing that struck me as I sat with this familiar story was that Jacob never got on the stairs. It was the angels going back and forth...to and fro from the earth.  God was there...overseeing everything while Jacob slept.

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me.


Last evening, expressing my concern with a good friend, he challenged me with the truth from Matthew 7:1-5.  I didn't want to hear it because "I" know what is right and what is wrong!


This morning, I discover the lesson from Psalm 19 for me to consider. Eugene Peterson paraphrases Psalm 19:2 saying:
Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.
After a night's rest...  After sitting in the quiet of a new day... After sitting with a few words of scripture that reached out and touched my heart...  After sitting with other truths that came as I was still...  I came to realize that what I can offer is peace and I cannot offer peace into this struggle, until I know peace within myself.  As the same friend reminded me months ago when I was struggling with my dying uncle...wanting to offer him peace...
  "San, you cannot offer something you don't have."
I am much healthier emotionally and spiritually than I was a few years ago, yet, I still at times "jump", wanting to fix something or someone, when the only person I can "fix" is myself.

Sitting here this morning with these verses of scripture from Psalm 19, I realize the best gifts I can offer this situation are:
1. Resist labeling it as being either good or bad.
2. Focus on the "log in my eye"...focus on myself, the only person I have the power to change.
3. Remember Jacob, sleeping as God and his angels worked within and among the happenings on this earth.
4. With these thoughts, trust God to be within and among those I love and in trusting Him...to know peace within myself and to offer that peace to the world.

Let There Be Peace on  Earth - the Indianapolis Children's Choir

Lord, I do want to do more than just going through the motions of acting like a Child of God! Spirit, help me to trust you and in that place of trust, trusting you to be at work within the lives and relationships of those I love! Lord, again, help me to move from going through the motions to taking each moment, to living each moment in peace and then, Lord, by your grace and power, may I offer that peace to the world...AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Come Away With Me

I am reading a lot within books and within other blogs of living with a sense of presence and recognizing the grace that is...and expressing gratitude.

Something a little different to begin this glorious Sunday day!


I have journaled before how much I enjoy Sarah Young's devotion book, Jesus Calling. This morning's entry touched my soul as I begin a busy Sunday and I decided to pause... and share...
Come away with Me for a while. The world, with its nonstop demands, can be put on hold. Most people put Me on hold, rationalizing that someday they will find time to focus on Me. But the longer people push Me into the background of their lives, the harder it is for them to find Me.
You live among people who glorify busyness; they have made time a tyrant that controls their lives. Even those who know Me as Savior tend to march to the tempo of the world. They have bought into the illusion that more is always better: more meetings, more programs, more activity.
I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest Joy. It is a pathway largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you. Moreover, as you walk closest to Me, I can bless others through you. ~ Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
Blessings for a wonderful day in which you are present to the Divine that is beside you, in front of you, behind you, above you, below you...and within you!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Name Says Gratitude

I'll live for all my days; To Put a smile on Your face; And when we finally meet; It'll be for eternity. ~ Hillsong's Forever



To put a smile on Your face.....

How great would it be for me to put a smile on God's face!


very green spring grass!!
Yesterday I celebrated 130 days of blogging and today I am putting it out to the universe that I am still as green as spring grass in terms of knowledge and understanding! After 130 days,  I have more questions than I do knowledge.

I recently discovered a blog for women who are pastors (RevGalBlogPals) and like other blogs, they must have "special days". (I'm still trying to figure out Wordless Wednesday and its source that I see on so many blogs!) Today I was introduced to Friday Five by the Rev Gals. While I am enthused about participating, I don't understand how.

You know what?  Blogging feels like I have entered another country and I am doing my best to live as a citizen while not understanding the language.


Anyway! The Rev Gals seem to be on the same wavelink as I have been lately of intentionally expressing gratitude. The author of this site, (I haven't figured that out either) writes:

A wise person once told me to make an ABC list of things I am grateful for any time I feel sad or depressed. It is a good practice when one is feeling happier than that, too. So for this Friday Five, I suggest that you use your name or nickname of about five letters and express your gratitude about something that starts with each letter. Some people have longer names, so you decide how you will go about this! (RevGalBlogPals)



Ummmm SANDI...
S - Sunshine. We need rain here in Indiana, still I appreciate sunshine!
A - Aliza's healthy baby boy who was born yesterday afternoon! Congratulations, Buddy!
I had not seen an MD in  7
years when I had my accident,
now...I keep them busy!
N - Neurologists.
D - Daughters...all four of my beautiful and wonderful daughters!
I  - Ice Cream. 
I should explain I saw a new neurologist yesterday and I liked him! Honestly, all the doctors I have seen since my car accident; doctors don't rank as my favorite group of people to hang out with. Yet, I need them and when I like one, that is truly a blessing!

So, I am grateful.

Since beginning my adventure in blogging, I have once again begun keeping an evening gratitude journal. I did this several years ago, then one night I didn't pick it up, then another night went by...

For me, keeping a Gratitude Journal is a way to train my brain to notice God at work in my life, and when I notice and then when I pause and say, "Thank You"...I can't help but think that brings a smile to God's face. And today, to it take it a bit further...to use my name to identify things I am grateful for...then that means my very name says "I am Grateful to You, O God!"

So, today I am grateful to the Rev Gals for giving me the opportunity to think about gratitude and to consider that my very name says gratitude when I live with an attitude of being grateful. Once I figure out how to fully participate in these things, I will be even more grateful!

Everything that I have and that I am, comes from God. Michael W. Smith's song, Breathe reminds me that God is the very air I breathe...my daily bread... Without God in my life, my life wouldn't be.  Thank you, Lord for being...

Many Blessings ~ Sandi



Thursday, July 14, 2011

130 Days of Laughing - Listening - Learning and Loving!

130 Days as a Blogger!
I looked back this morning and discovered I have been blogging for 130 days! When I began, it was a way to keep me accountable to a book study during Lent.  I was a wreck, trying to figure out how to begin. I didn't know what I would write about. I was anxious, yet I couldn't shake the sense that it was something I wanted to try.

And I am so glad I did!

In the past 130 Days:

  • I have grown more confident in my writing. 
  • I have  enjoyed having a place to play with music and images along with my words. 
  • Having a place to share, my interest in photography has once again blossomed. 
  • I have met some wonderful people and reflected on new thoughts and insights as I have read Joyce Rupp's book The Cup of Our Life and Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels.
  • I have met challenges and have gained the courage to keep stepping into the unknown.

I might have expected these moments of Laughter, Listening, Learning and Loving...what I did not expect:
130 Days of Self-Discovery and
New Relationships
  • Receiving and enjoying the gift of help from Jen author of http://jentsfrontporch.blogspot.com/
  • Connecting with people, I will most likely never meet in this lifetime!
  • My world become much broader and richer as I have begun reading other blogs and sometimes responding to the challenges I discover.  
  • The desire to begin journals for each of my grandkids.  I feel for certain, that has come from my own blogging and reading the blogs of others.
Yesterday, not realizing I had been blogging for 129 days, I began looking for a new image to post on my Blog and on Facebook that would say more about me. Up until yesterday I had a cup (The Cup of Our Life) and a tree (A Tree Full of Angels). On my Facebook page I had a picture of a pen and journal. But, yesterday I felt bold enough to post an image that was "ME."

Where is "Sandi" within this image?

1. It is a child, and through my blogging I feel as though I have rediscovered my childlike faith, curiosity, imagination...
.
2. She seems as though she is full of joy and praise.
.
3. I can't see what is in front of her, just as I can't see what is behind her.  That is another image I want to hold on to.  Arms lifted in joy without knowing what is ahead and not letting what is past shadow today.
.
4. Lastly, the tree beside her.  I love nature and I love trees.  For me there is something mysterious and life giving about a tree. Like people, there are differences even within the same variety. I sense a wisdom within a tree that stands rooted from season to season, with its branches lifted toward the source of its life.

If you are reading this, you have helped me to Laugh - Listen - Learn and to Love and I thank you!

One of my favorite songs:

Lord, let it be so...Shine, Jesus Shine! AMEN!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi