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  • 12/8/2018 When we think of abundance, we tend to think of excess. At least that is where my mind usually goes. If I have an abundance of tomatoes in my garden, for instance, I can (put up) tomatoes, or make salsa and sauce. If I have an overabundance, I give them away to my neighbors and friends. I used to have a co-worker who grew zucchini every year. When each season gave way to harvest, mounds of zucchini would show up in the break room, begging to be taken and baked into bread and sending us to the zucchini Pinterest pages.
    Sometimes, the holidays send us into excess. More holiday baking, more gift giving (buying), more decorating, more fa-la-la-ing. Having just moved into a new home, I find myself having outdoor Christmas lighting envy. It is taking everything I have not to run to Lowes or Home Depot to buy a big blow up nativity set. After all, being a pastor means that my outdoor decorations need to show the reason for the season, not the Santa, reindeer or candy canes.
  • 12/1/2018 Not Carole King, not the Heinz Ketchup commercial, but Advent and the whole season, 24 days, is making us wait for Christmas. While people sincerely wish me a Merry Christmas, and advertisements slam my social media feeds, and fights break out over Santa Clause Houses, what the decorations look like this year and the calendar filling up with Christmas activities, a little piece of my heart and soul yearns for the peace, hope, joy and love of pure Advent. I have visions of calm and bright starry nights, the sound of logs crackling in the fireplace, and the taste of the first snowflakes on my lips; I yearn for the sound of peace on earth, goodwill toward all.
  • 11/17/2018 This year, one of my highlights has been moving my father from Arizona back to Noblesville, into my home. He has been kinda sorta MIA for about forty years. During that forty-year span, we have kept in touch, with emails, occasional phone calls, and visits now and then. We have missed each other, and I am glad to have him back.
    This has been a year of transitions, moving, and blessings. The Spirit is well and alive, and full of surprises. John and I had downsized our home, readying for the next chapter of empty nesting and life out of politics. Recently, my youngest son moved back home from Kansas City, because of a job opportunity. He will be living with us temporarily, and giving me the joy of having a three generation home, under one roof. As an added bonus, I take care of two of my grandkids on Monday evenings overnight. So our Monday night home is technically a four generation home. My dad takes out his hearing aids.
  • 11/10/2018 My spirit animal is a rhinoceros. Sure, that is not what the online Buzz Feed quiz indicated, but that is who I would be if I were an animal. While I know that rhinos are not particularly pretty, there is a certain charm about them that makes them stand out in a crowd. Rhinos like mud baths and they are communal, their offspring can be described as cute, and that horn is something else. But what really resounds for me, albeit folklore wisdom is that rhinos are the only animals, when they see a storm coming, they run into it and not away from it. This is because they know that better weather is on the other side. They know that even though they could run, they cannot hide from what is coming, and it is better to face it head on than to try to outrun it.
  • 9/7/2018 When John and I moved into our new neighborhood this summer, I reminded myself that I would be extra vigilant in knowing my neighbors; not in a busy body way, but in a caring communal sort of way. If we know our neighbors it is easier to take care of one another. I have had a lot of fun getting to know the people in our growing neighborhood. The more we know about our neighbors the less fear there is and the opportunity for more fun in the sharing of life together.
    One of my favorite people, and new friend Brenner, came to my door just a couple weeks after we had moved in, bringing her mother and sisters along with a plate of delicious blueberry muffins they had baked. I’m not sure but I think Brenner fell first in love with my dogs, Mercy Bea and Rootie Patootie Punkin Pie. 
    A few weeks went by and Brenner found her way back to my door with her friend Sydney, asking if they could take my dogs for a walk. They told me that they were raising money to give to the Humane Society. Boom. Yes, please! Mercy Bea is a Golden Doodle with lots of energy and needs the attention and the exercise, while Rootie Patootie is a miniature poodle who likes to be held while she “walks.” Most weeks, the dogs get walked 5-6 days a week and I am happy to pay. More than that I am blessed to get to know Brenner and Sydney, what lovely young ladies with serving hearts and gentle spirits.
  • 8/25/2018 ”Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 NIV
    Five weeks, in a row, of bread texts makes one hungry for all kinds of combinations of yeast and flour. The Gospel of John smells heavenly! While some pastors get bored with preaching on the how and why bread and Jesus are linked, I find these texts wonderfully rich and full of life. Bread! It is the stuff of life. I have never met a bread I have not liked. Then when you add the accouterments, such as meat, cheese, peanut butter, jam etc., it is simply lifegiving! Bread has all the senses covered, taste, feel, smell, the crunch of toast, and the deep satisfaction of memory. What fond memories are conjured up by the scent of baking bread. Mmmmmm bread!
  • 8/11/2018 What if we read the Bible out of child like curiosity, instead of being on a fact and fear based mission? What if we read scripture with our minds open to the questions that seem to be open ended, and sometimes unanswerable, instead of reading like it is a book to be fact checked? What if we thought about the stories in the Bible with more, “I wonder” questions, rather than seeing it as a black and white book of laws and mandates? It occurs to me, that I am in the minority of people who try to read the Bible, with the curiosity and wonder of hearing it for the first time; he greatest story ever told. A book of poetry, prose, prayer, lament, humor, joy, mystery and history. A book chock full of flawed characters, murderers and thieves, liars and cheats, tax collectors and mysterious women who indulge, and men who lust. You know, everyday people, our neighbors, the person in the mirror. The stories that are timeless because they involve human wit and stupidity, love, honor and betrayal. Ah yes, we can certainly see ourselves in the stories, if we just would be so brave.
    The Lutheran tradition, as well as Catholic and other mainline churches, have a tradition of having several scripture readings on a Sunday morning. Yes, I have seen the glazed over eyes, the weary faces of boredom, but also the faces of curiosity, and challenge. We follow a three year prescribed reading schedule, and if the church decides to read each selection, the hearers will have heard the Bible read in its (almost) entirety. The challenge is that people are either distracted to listen (no blaming or shaming, this is life) and /or the reader does not have a talent for reading aloud. Sometimes, the words get in the way, sometimes the ancient text does not translate well into English, sometimes the cadence is off kilter.
  • 4/27/2018 Therefore we do not lose heart; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

    Monday of this week, I was preparing my devotion for my Tuesday friends at Magnolia Springs. Ever since my friend Paige’s mom was in Memory Care, I became more aware of the needs of Spiritual Care for those who seem to not care about much at all; after all, memories are seemingly failing and fading. 

    What I am finding is that the spirit is alive and well in all the souls I visit, and I am continually blessed by my time, receiving the wisdom that exudes in the very air at Magnolia. Admittedly, when I’m preparing for my time with them I am still somewhat intimidated, shy and awkward. Yet, I feel called to this place and to these people.

    Now when I say I prepare something for this group of people, I generally find that I need something physical, a sort of show and tell. Just quoting scripture or telling a story does not seem to connect with most. This week, I took two props. One was a beautiful blue, but broken handled pitcher. It had been repurposed to hold a live chocolate mint plant. It smelled delicious.

    Even though the pitcher seemed useless at first, it had been almost born again into something quite lovely and useful. God’s creation was not only beautiful but it smelled good and when immersed in water makes a yummy tea.

    The other item I brought was my family Bible. My father had brought it to me several years ago. It had been found, hidden in my Aunt Ada’s attic, a German Bible written in the language of Martin Luther, beautifully illustrated, and published in 1853. 
  • 3/10/2018 Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark,” is challenging me to rethink pain, suffering and brokenness. She claims that we are not taught, nor do we do a good enough job of teaching our children, how to walk in the dark or how to accept our pain as inevitable part of drawing closer God. When we think of pain we think of a physical or physiological reaction. Suffering, on the other hand, is an emotional reaction to our pain. She alludes to the fact that suffering is almost optional. This is where I struggle. Surely people can overcome this emotion of suffering. But maybe, just maybe our suffering can help us to understand Jesus and the suffering he endured on the cross. Maybe the point of suffering is what we do with it. It seems to me that suffering is a large part of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith experience. That suffering can be a holy action, if it draws us closer to emptying ourselves to be more like God. Suffering for the sake of others, is at the center of the Christian faith.
  • 3/3/2018 “What is saving your life today?” This is a question that I have heard spoken during various interviews of theologically inclined people, who are spiritual leaders in our modern culture. Our community at Roots of Life subscribes to a resource that produces visual liturgy, short films, and meaningful interviews, which I then use during worship and study, called Work of the People. More than the question, I love hearing the answers of deep thinking people, who talk with such vulnerability and realness that it makes me wonder about my own answer. “What is saving my life today?” What gets me out of bed each morning? No! What makes me want to do work, to see God, to bring life into the world? 
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