Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Scribbles on the Pew

I was watching a little girl in church on Sunday.  Not quite three, she was an engaging child, sitting with her mom and older sister.  Well behaved, and minding her mom….. or so it looked..

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the little girl doing something.  Mom spoke to her, I couldn’t hear the words, and then the little girl bowed her head against the pew in front of her and burst into tears.  Inconsolable, heartbreaking tears. Mom quickly slipped out of the service with her sobbing child in her arms.

It wasn’t until after the service did I learn what had happened.

The little girl had drawn a beautiful loopy line in pencil on the back of the pew.   Mom had said quietly and gently, “Did you draw that?”   The little one bowed her head in shame, she knew that was a no-no, and then her overwhelming guilt burst forth in tears.  Mom wasn’t mad, instead gathered that little bundle of remorse in a hug to comfort her and reassure her.

We’ve all been there, right?

How many times do we have lapses of judgement ourselves?  Like a child who knows not to write on the furniture, sometimes we forget.

We do stuff we know we shouldn’t..

We say things we know we shouldn’t..

We fail to do things we know we should…

The difference between us and the little child is that we seldom burst into inconsolable, heartbreaking tears in remorse.  Yet, we know that we are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Will the little girl have lapses of judgement again?  Of course.

Will we?  Of course.  Daily.

Will we be forgiven?   Over and over and over again.

May we know the sting of guilt, the pain of remorse, and the deep, deep love of Jesus.

 

Jesus dies for your sin and pain.

Lift your head from shame to grace.

May the God of hope fill you

With all joy and peace in believing,

Wo that by the power of the Holy Spirit,

You may abound in hope.

Martin Rolfs Massaglia and Romans 15:13

Ashes

I love campfires. They bring back some sweet memories.

The smell of burning wood brings back times of fellowship, camaraderie and hospitality.

The crackling sounds mingle with notes of singing, laughing, and soft whispers.

The flickering multi colored, multi dimensional flames energize, yet mesmerize, and take me to somewhere deeper, silent, melancholy.

While the fire is burning life is good, fun, happy. Others are attracted to the fire. They gather together to share in the energy, there is a significance, a power, in being together.

And then the fire begins to die away. No longer fed by the fuel it needs to survive, the flames flicker, waver, and disappear. Those who have gathered around the brilliantly dancing flames begin to drift away. The crackling subsides, with only an occasional pop to crease the air.

Left in the fire pit are ashes. Smoldering ashes, with glowing edges and hot spots struggling to survive.

Left alone, these little fire lives will die.

Cold gray ashes will remain.

If even one person were to come along and blow gently on the glowing edges, the hot spots, the signs of life…

The fire would slowly, carefully, come alive.

With care, the flames would start to grow

I have ashes moments. Those times where ..

The blazing fire is gone

The flame is barely flickering

Times where I need

a breath of life to tickle the flicker into a flame

an encouraging word to spark a flame of hope

Quite honestly, there are lots of times where praying and reading and listening to music just aren’t doing it for me and I just really need God with skin on.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:21-22 NRSV

My family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues reflect Jesus.

From long talks to quick emails, these genuinely loving and caring folks may not even know they are the breath of the Holy Spirit. Some may not even believe in the Holy Spirit, but they take the time to care, make me laugh, think, see different perspectives, and dig deeper.

Never ever underestimate the ministry of your presence. Your kind words, random acts of silliness, encouraging words, emails, positive facebook posts mean more than you know to someone who may never tell you.

You never know.

You may be God with skin on.

You may be the breath of life to rekindle a smoldering fire.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,

No hands but yours, no feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which to look out

Christ’s compassion to the world

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

Teresa of Avila

To all my fire whisperers…  thank you!

Beauty From Chaos

Steampunk. There are a lot of definitions, but I like this one:

Steampunk art mixes modern ideas and technology with those from the past, namely the Victorian Age, when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing and steam was a major source of power.

Maybe I relate to Steampunk. Mixing modern ideas with those from the past. I am particularly drawn to the steampunk art.

I feel like steampunk art.

Beauty from chaos. Beauty from a bunch of gears, nuts, bolts, pipes, washers, thinga ma bobs, doo-hickys, and whatchamacallits.

Most mornings, I feel like a pile of those things, heaped in the middle of the floor of this world.

Not much to look at.

No parts seem to work together.

Not even sure where to start.

We, you and me, have our own personal steampunk artist, though.

Our artist looks at the pile of junk, old stuff, the thingys and the doo-hickys, and the whatchamacallits, and sees beauty.

Our artist starts carefully choosing pieces out of our personal piles of chaos and putting them in a special order.

Our artist adds new parts, modern ideas, stretching us to learn and grow as our old parts work with the new.

As our artist works, we try to help.

We rearrange parts to meet our needs.

We resist some of the new parts. They are uncomfortable. They feel weird against our well worn stuff.

At the end of each day,

Our help may have hindered, but not stopped, our artist.

Our artist has not been able to use all the thingamabobs, doo-hickys, and watchamacalits. but..

At the end of the day, our chaotic pile of junk has been lovingly formed into a resemblance of the artist’s own heart. We are still beloved artwork, gazed upon with deep pride and devotion by the artist. Our artist, the artist who created us from the beginning, bids us rest so the chaotic pile of junk can be shuffled and restored each new day.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

My Word

I gave up making new years resolutions.  It seemed counterproductive, and I was just setting myself up for failure.  Whatever resolution I set for myself was usually broken within a week.  Eat healthy, be less sarcastic, exercise more..human goals that were just unattainable for my human self.

Instead of a list of goals now, I choose one word.  Well, actually, the word chooses me.  A word that pings in my head and starts to grow and settle into my life until it curls up in my heart.  They are growth words, words that are smaller in my life than they should be, ones that God wants to work on with me.

Several years ago, my word was Emmanuel. “God with Us”.  Not a goal, but a reminder with each breath of whose I am, where my strength and protection comes from, and the source of my joy.

Thirst.  My word for 2014.  It started with a thirst for the word of God. It grew to thirst for community. Thirst for deeper relationship with Jesus.  Thirst for understanding justice and privilege.

Listen.  The word that choose me this year is listen.   Not sure where God is going to take me with this, but as it takes hold in my life, I will be learning how to slow down and listen to God, listen to my colleagues, listen to my family.  Be present in the conversation. Listen in silence. Maybe even listen to my own heartbeat.

What one word is bouncing around in your head lately?  What is God whispering in your ear?

Walk with me on this one word journey.  I would love to travel with you as this year unfolds and God is revealed in unexpected ways.