Monday, April 27, 2015


I have a bunch of pieces before me,
They are scattered and confused across the floor.
Some of their edges are slightly worn
And the bright reds and purples are a little bit faded.

There's a piece for just about everything
All the angles of my life.
And I want so badly to figure out
How to piece them together.

We talk a lot about what it is to be whole.
To know God.  To love God.  To be happy.
But do we even know what any of that means anymore?

The pieces still lie scattered on the floor.

And everything else in the world comes first.
Comes before we even start to try
To bring the pieces together.
To become whole.

We save it for another day.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Dead Tree

In a field behind the house where my grandparents used to live, my Nana would take us to see a dead tree that was still standing.  It felt like an adventure, an exploration.  On pretty Spring days, two young girls with their grandmother, would venture into the great unknown to discover a treasure that no one knew about.  In reality, we probably walked no more than 50 yards from the end of their back porch to the foot of the tree.  When we reached our destination, we froze in mouth-opened awe.  (I wonder now how much time Nana was trying to "kill" with this great adventure.)  There it stood with a sense of self and uniqueness.  Its frailty unmatched by the surrounding greenery, its trunk wearing thin and the leaves browned and crackly.  The dead tree looked tired and worn.  Its branches pointed upward as if to say, "I've done all I can in this life, I have nothing left to give."  We looked on at it with such wonder.  What did it mean to us to be in the presence of something that was no longer alive, yet stood here in front of of our very eyes?  It was a mystery to us - this dead tree.  A mystery beyond our understanding that pulled us back again and again.  "Let's go see the dead tree!"  As if it were the only one of its kind.

And so each time we went, we paused in wonder and disbelief.  Unknowingly considering the connection between life and death.  Unaware of our burning desire to understand the mysteries that filled the world around us.

Mysteries and questions about life….about death….about resurrection…  that continue to call me out on pretty Spring days for an adventure, an exploration - a journey to find God.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Searching for Laughter

One of my favorite books to read with Abbey before she goes to sleep at night is "Time for Bed."  It's a short, simple poetic lullaby of different animal babies - yes, you guessed it - going to bed.  My favorite line is:  "It's time for bed, little calf, little calf.  What happened today that made you laugh?"

Other than the precious act of Abbey leaning down and kissing each animal on every page (o.m.g. it's so precious), this line is my favorite part.  What a great question.  What happened today that made you laugh?

I can imagine the writer of this book at 2 a.m. the night before the final draft was due, refilling her coffee cup and silently cursing herself for choosing a calf for one of the animals.  What rhymes with calf?!  She probably would have thought the snake page would have been her biggest challenge…does anyone really want to think about snakes at bedtime….yea, I didn't think so.

And then I can see her sheer excitement over her own brilliance when she came up with it - right at the moment when she knew if she didn't shower now, she would be running very late for the meeting with her publisher.  (I have no clue how the publishing process goes, so just humor me here…).

"What happened today that made you laugh?"  Oh my gosh that is perfect!  It's so different than the other lines that talk about why it's time for bed or how the Mamas can't believe that the babies are still awake! (like that darn snake!)

I think we all need to ask ourselves this question before we lie down every night.  Too often our days are one big ball of blurry hurriedness.  We have so much to do.  So many things to check off the list.  So many reasons to make us rush through our day just wanting it to be over, only to get up and blur through another one all over again.  How often do we pause to appreciate the simple goodness of our days?  Even when (or especially when) the day is not so good, and it's a long shot to think of something that happened to make us laugh.  Don't you think it's important to look for the joy, the funny, and the humor that really does exist in this world?  I wonder how we would grow and change if we were to make this search for laughter a daily spiritual discipline….

I get excited about reading that page to Abbey when she is old enough to answer the question.  I can't wait to hear the joy in her voice when she tells me something that was funny from her day.  (At this point, I'm sure it will likely involve her buddy Izzy).  I can't wait to laugh with her when she recounts the memory.  And then, with that being one of the last things on her sweet little mind before she falls asleep, I can't wait to find out how the funny story carried her in her dreams and woke her up with a smile on her face.  Ready for a new day.  Excited to find out what will happen this day to make her laugh.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What now?

I asked myself lots of questions when I started this blog (a couple of years ago?).  The loudest question I asked myself was:  am I really going to keep up with it?  The insecurity that lies in the root of the question taunted me.  And it still does.  Do I really have anything important to say?  There are millions of amazing blogs, thinkers, writers, theologians, people out there - so what?  A post every now and then - why bother?

How many times do we ask ourselves that question?  There is something I really want to do, but is it worth it?  I really don't have the time, and it's not a "make or break" thing, so why bother?

The season of Easter is a good example of this.  We've done all this work for the whole six weeks leading up to it.  We've given something up, taken something on, prayed, gone to church, attended special worship services, we've considered our shortcomings and, kind of like on New Year's Eve, promised God that we will work harder - pray more - live wiser.  And then the awesome day of Easter arrives with bells and whistles, wearing new clothes, beautiful flowers, and smiles on the faces of everyone who walks through the church doors - whether they've been there since last Easter or not.

And then Easter is over.  Now what?  What now?

I'm reading an Easter devotional for the first time ever.  Who would have thought someone would write a devotion about Easter?  That seems ridiculous!  The good news is here, Jesus is alive - we don't have to think about it or work at it anymore, right?!

I guess not.  Unless….unless you've ever asked yourself the question, why bother? 
And the more you think about it - the more the nudging and the yearning and the desire grows.  The desire to be a little more than you think you are.  The nudging from God that speaks to your heart.  The yearning to have more from this life than the joy that seems to conclude on Easter night because life picks up per usual on Monday morning.

There's gotta be more, right?  Right?  How are we going to keep up with it?
What now?

When it comes down to it, no.  I don't have anything more important to say than anyone else.  My words are just that - words in the cyber space vacuum of thoughts, ideas, and posts.  But there is something about writing that I love.  There's something about sharing my thoughts and connecting with people that gives me meaning and draws me to God in a whole new way.  And, so, I've decided to bother with it.

What about you?  What now?
Jesus is alive.  Hooray!  We celebrated it a couple weeks ago, and guess what - we'll celebrate it again next year!  Woohoo!
So does it really hold much significance to us in our every day lives?  Or is it just too easy to make it about one particular day and then... carry on per usual?

God is going to keep doing the work of resurrection whether we buy in or not.  Sure, God would love us to participate, but when it comes down to it, whether we run off in terror like the women in Mark's Gospel or not, the hard work of overcoming the hate, violence, injustice and sin in the world is still going to happen.

So what now?  How do we live our lives as though we believe this good news we dress up for on Easter Sunday?
When I watch the news and find that another senseless shooting has occurred, or when I sense the nausea that comes with the beginnings of yet another election season in our country, (which just makes me want to curl up in a ball and never look at Facebook or watch the news again)….

And when I realize that, yes, the calendar does go beyond Easter Sunday….
Then I realize why I want to bother.  Because we really are supposed to live differently.  We really are supposed to love more.  We really are supposed to follow a God who breaks all the boundaries of division.
Huh.  So what now?  I guess, now….we do the work of resurrection.  We do the work of life.

I am excited to see what that looks like.  And I am excited to see if I can keep up with it.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Writing to God: Easter Sunday

2 Corinthians 1: 19-20
Mark 16: 1-8

Darkness covered the face of the Earth, O God, and you said "let there be light."

Your people, just released from the chains of slavery, wandered in the cold, dark maze of wilderness, and you guided them at night by a pillar of fire.  You said, once again, "light."

The world's darkness had become too heavy to bear.  And your star of light shone brightly in an ordinary town, to ordinary people, for more than ordinary purposes.  You said again, "let there be light."


The day of death, despair, hopelessness, and loss is over.  For something amazing has occurred.  You said, one more time, "let there be light."

And Jesus became the Christ.  Life began anew.

It is not a one time thing, my God, that you have done this extraordinary act.  You do not make a play and then leave the game.
Oh no.

The light of resurrection shines anew all the time.  Every day.  We cannot be blinded by our preconceived notions or our same ol' status quo ideas of living.

Jesus is Alive!

Thank you, God.
Help us to show this life - your life - in our words, our actions, and our prayers.  There is nothing that can extinguish your light.  For your light is love.


I pray for the courage to live it every day.  For the goodness of your beloved world.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Writing to God: Holy Saturday

I Kings 19: 11-13
"Between Hopelessness and Hope"

The Gospel of Mark, after detailing so precisely the events of the week - and in 3 hour increments the events of Friday - says nothing about Saturday, the sabbath day.  The day of rest.  And for the followers of Jesus, the day of numbness and loss.

And so my prayer today is for those who felt the sting of Jesus' death all too closely.  It is also for those, living today, who have ever felt as though God has left them, and rolled a stone of finality over the hope in their lives.

Today.  Today I wait.  O God.

My mouth is dry.  My heart is numb.  My eyes have nothing left to shed.

Does the world go on around me and it is I who cannot move?

Am I the only one who is staring into the face of rock solid emptiness?

O Lord, if it was something I did, can you give me just one more chance?

O Lord, if just one mind could have been changed to have prevented this…I would try.

But the thought of you having anything to do with the horror of this whole mess…no I cannot go there.
Not today.

And so, you must be gone.  But I pray that you will return in glory more magnificent than before.
O God, your people ache.

Today.  Today I wait.
I wait for a still, small voice to tell us that you are here.

And that this ending, this… death… is not the final word.

I wait for things I cannot be sure of.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Writing to God: Good Friday

Mark 15: 1-47
"Darkness over the Land"

Today's prayer is one of hopelessness and anguish.  All over the world today, Good Friday is more than just a horrible thing of the past - it is reality.  As we remember and mourn the death of Jesus, let us also remember and mourn the lost, the forgotten, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the lives that we know and the ones we will never know who have lost hope that this life, at its heart, is good.

The darkness feels suffocating.  God, it is hard to breathe.  It is though all hope, all possibility, every potential for good was just sucked up in a vacuum of despair.

Jesus died and still children go hungry.
Jesus died and war did not cease.
Jesus died and the rules of love and respect tightened around the rules of the privileged and powerful.

Jesus breathed his last and when he did, thousands more were forgotten.  Prayers of hope no longer whispered in the morning.

Why, God?  What now?

Where is your kingdom when acts of violence dominate our world?
Where is your saving grace when all we see is news reports of destruction, hypocrisy, fear, injustice?

Jesus died and children go hungry.
Jesus died and animals are abused.
Jesus died and the kid at school is bullied.
Jesus died and the numbers on death row increase; the fear of dark streets at night follow us into daylight.

The experience of loss and death causes us to cry out to you, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?!"


Don't.  Breathe.  Your.  Last.

O, God, tear open our hearts and stay with your children today.

Weep with us as we collapse at the foot of the cross.  If we are there at all.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Writing to God: Maundy Thursday

Psalm 56
Mark 14: 12-72

Today is what many Christians refer to as Maundy Thursday.  The day we remember the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before he was arrested.  The day began with the disciples following Jesus' instructions to find a place in which to share the meal and it ends with the tears of Peter after he denies Jesus three times.  This day draws our attention to the invitation that Jesus made through the sacred Passover meal, how he broke bread and shared the cup and extended it to his closest friends; even those who would turn their backs on him in very painful ways.  We also remember the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane - how grief-stricken and scared he was (as it is recorded in Mark's Gospel), and how the disciples just couldn't stay awake to sit with him in this moment.  Today is also where the story becomes violent and fast-paced.
"Maundy" comes from the Latin word mandatum, meaning "command" or "commandment" - and depicts the new commandment Jesus makes with his disciples at the last meal (as recorded in the Gospel of John) to love one another.
The Psalmist's words in Psalm 56 guide my prayer today.

Be gracious to me, O God, I don't know what to say.  My eyes are heavy.   I would rather sleep.
Skip over this part of your story.

Be gracious to me, O God.  The week is moving too fast.  The drama is unfolding.  I am panting to catch up.  But perhaps I could just stay behind, where I normally like to be, in the comfort of safety and status quo.

Tonight, all over the world, people will gather around a table.  We will all ask you to be gracious to us. For we think we would have been different.  We are certain we would have stayed through the confusion until the bitter end.  Surely we would have understood.

Be gracious to us, God, when we glance over the hard stuff assuming we are more faithful than another.

When the table is set - the wine poured and the bread broken - when people of all walks of life are gathered round….be gracious to us.
For still, we wish to have the final say.  We just can't handle your mercy, your grace, your humility, given for all.

O God, be gracious to me.  When the sun sets and the night brings a chill.  When I don't know what to say.  You tell me to "keep awake" and my eyes are heavy.

O God, be gracious to me. If I weep because I just cannot handle the pressure of knowing you.  When the moment comes.  When the question is asked.  Will I know what to say?

Watch.  Wait.  Listen.  Pray.
Be gracious to us, O God.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Writing to God: Wednesday of Holy Week

John 11: 1-44
"John 11:35"

A quick note about today:  My prayer prompt comes from the story in John of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  A range of emotion fills this story.
Though today is Wednesday of Holy Week, and according to the Gospel of Mark, on this day Jesus is at Bethany with his friends; at the home of Simon the leper.  Interesting this unintentional common point between the two readings for today - different homes, different stories - same place (Bethany) and common thread of the anointing of oil in preparation for Jesus' burial.  John 11: 1-44 mentions it and says that it is Mary, sister of Lazarus who anointed Jesus.  Mark's account credits this act of extravagant love to a woman whose name we do not know.  And he tells his disciples that, because of this, she will be remembered forever.

God, how many times did Jesus weep for Jerusalem?  For his beloved city and beloved people?  For the ways that power and wealth was abusing and ruling the poor and the common?  For the way so many were desperately trying to remain faithful while others were giving up and giving in.  How strikingly similar his world is to ours.  How many times does he weep?

God, what did the laughter of our Savior sound like?  Was it high-pitched and sharp or a deep chuckle that rolled up and out from his belly?  Did he laugh and make snide remarks about the absurdity of all he saw?  Of all that was taking place?

When his closest friends denied, or betrayed, or died, how many times did Jesus laugh at the memories and weep in sorrow for his loss?

He showed us how to love.  And we forget or refuse to laugh out loud at the joy of life; the gifts that cost nothing but our time, our energy, our care.

He showed us how to love.  And we seldom weep for the state of the world we love.  For our Jerusalem - whatever it might be.
Because, (we've been told, or we tell ourselves) to cry is to show weakness.  To cry is to be vulnerable and we should never be vulnerable.  To cry is to lose control of the situation.

And Jesus wept for his dear friend.

Lord, forgive us.  Father, have mercy.  Lord forgive us all.