Saturday, November 24, 2007


It is amazing to have three daughters who all blog. Audrey wrote in her blog about some of the memorable thanksgivings that we have had as a family. (
Kacey wrote about this year and put pictures in. It was wonderful.
If you want to look at it -

From my perspective, I just feel blessed by it all. I have made the joke (or observation) that I am no longer the queen of the family - but I have become the "Queen Mother,." The next generation is making the decisions and I just go where they tell me. It is very freeing especially since my daughters are creative and responsible.

So this year we went to three cabins in the woods. Audrey and Kacey and Chuck's son Brian and his wife and Dawn and Jason. We enjoyed the meal and it was delicious and low stress with eathing off paper plates and everyone bringing some aspect of the meal together.

We ate in shifts which spread the meal over about four hours and gave us time for a nice walk in between turkey and dessert.

The best part of Thanksgiving was everything else.
I got to look out the window and watch Brettt and Jason in the rowboat with Jackson and Alyse in the morning.
I got to watch them fishing.
I got to sit at night around a beautiful campfire and see Huong eat her first S-more and show us how they coook potatoes in the fire in VietNam.
I got to sing and play guitar with Caroline and Audrey around the fire and there is a FULL MOON in the sky.
I got to play games with my grandkids.
I got to be with one of my favorite Grandma's - Karen who loves Jax and Alyse like I do!!
I got to see Brett's grandparents and the obvious love and affection they have after 50 plus years of marriage.
I got to leave everyone and go read in my own cabin and watch Gray's Anatomy when I needed some alone time.
I got to know that my kids and friends were in the hot tubs and having fun being together.

As I look back over Thanksgivings in my past - especially as a young adult, I remember tension about the meal and about being together. The greatest gift that I experience these days is a sense of peace and love and joy.
Talk about thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

getting ready

I am getting ready for many things.
First of all, I am getting ready for Thanksgiving. This year we are renting three cains in the woods and going to have a very different holiday. Less stress supposedly as we are having a simpler meal. Right now all I can think of is - what do I need to pack? what are we going to eat? what are we going to do? And the fear is that we will get down there and not have enough.
Is this living out of scarcity? Probaly - the pull of the simple is at odds with the fear of not having enough. Anyway, what to bring is taking up a lot of space in my head.

And I am getting ready for Sunday service. I will be preaching something that I am calling my signature sermon. And it is a review of the life of the church - and a look ahead to the next year.
Not too much to ask of myself. And trying to attach it to the book of this week, which is the book of Daniel. The bulletin will be completed today and I need to make sure that it is okay.
And the sermon notes - for a sermon that is yet to be written.

And we as a church are getting ready for Advent. We have put together an advent devotional. We had people from the church write daily readings based upon the four themes of the weeks and scriptures that I had selected. Yesterday we printed them all out and I read through the whole thing and thought it was wonderful. How cool is this that we actually did it! And today we have a group that are literally putting it together.

And Sunday we decorate the church for Advent.

And at the same time I am thinking ahead to 2008. I have this really interesting idea about a "story telling project" for the year that would involve Sermons, shut ins and the sermon inserts.
More about that later.

Preparing is important to everything that I do - I just hope that I don't miss the moment in all the planning and thinking ahead.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Building the Ark

I just returned from our monthly "Reel Faith" where we show movies at the church. We watched "Evan Almighty" a movie that was better than I expected it to be. Even though it was corny, I still found myself laughing at parts of it and somehow identified with God calling Evan and the changes in Evan because he was supposed to build the ark.

Today I had lunch with Yvonne Gilmer Essig who has been hired by our region and the UCC to develop a church in our neighborhood. It was presented to us almost 2 years ago as a new church start that was designed to be African American. We were a little put out because the plan seemed to be literally within a mile of our church. But at this point, I realize that this is going to be very different from our church vision of a diverse service. Yvonne is in her late twenties and my guess is that her emphasis will be on young (emergent) worship and diverse.

As we talked about the neighborhood that we both seek to serve, it seems like it is so hard! It is hard to reach out to the community from an established church like Karl Road and certainly it is hard to start from scratch as she is doing. And somehow, this movie about building the ark resonated for me tonight. Yvonne told me that during her process of discerning this call to come here to Columbus (she was living in Maryland - and her family is still there until June) she couldn't sleep at night. And sometimes that is how God calls us.

I sure don't know much at this point about the ark that we are supposed to be building except that our church is being called to become more diverse and intergenerational and I don't know how to do it. But I believe that step by step God will show me (us) the way. And in the movie Noah's hair turned white - will that happen to me?

I like the idea of "build it and they will come" but - really - how do you build it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church

That is the name of the conference that I went to yesterday. It is based on the book by Paul Nixon and he led the workshop. Over the years I have been to a lot of these conferences and they often give me good ideas about what to do in leading the church. They also can leave me with a sense of frustration. They are usually led by men and often they speak of the need for radical change or organization. Sometimes you get the sense that the church needs to move forward for the next generation and too bad for those faithful ones who have literally built the church.

Saying all that, this conference was a good one for me. We purchased the book and I am going to read it with the plan to possibly have the board and elders read it next year and to review each of the chapters every month from January to June.

Karl Road Christian Church is not a dying church and we are definitely moving in the right direction. I am so glad that we have come through what we have come through - in terms of discerning our core values, bedrock beliefs and have our motivating vision. This has been foundational.

His thesis is that the church has choices that move us either into life or death. The six key choices:
1.Life over death
2. community over isolation
3. Fun over drudgery
4. bold over mild
5. frontier over fortress
6. now over later.

We have work to do in each one of these but thank God the church is not stuck and we do not have opposition to trying new things. I know that I need to get out of the office and into the community more. I am going to be tutoring at the library up the street which should be helpful.
He suggested that we go to coffee shops on a regular basis so that we strike up conversations with people and become kind of a known quantity. We don't have coffee shops in our neighborhood, but we do have MacDonalds - and God knows I like to drink coffee.

So, I keep learning and trying new ways to stretch myself and pray that God will guide me to people who need a relationship with Jesus Christ.

One other aspect that really spoke to me in this conference was having a sense of urgency. I have that as time seems to just zoom. Four years have passed here in a blink and I have a finite amount of time left in this parish. I pray that God will give me courage to really reach out.

Friday, November 9, 2007

eventually Susan

I have been on the phone for an hour talking to my best friend Susan and encouraging her to figure out how to put books on "goodreads" and how to start a blog.

It is an interesting time in our lives. We have been friends since we were freshmen in college. We were both English majors and ended up as writers in some sense - she is now a reporter in Phoeniz and I write sermons every week.

But something has happened over the years. We moved from writing with pen and paper and typerwriter to computer to internet. She now knows more about me because she reads my blog and my daughters' blogs than she has known for years.

But - speaking for both of us. It is a struggle to keep on learning this stuff. I watch my daughters text, and take pictures with their phones and handily work their way around the net and I do my part slowly and carefully and clumsily. And I have trouble seeing the computer because of my foggy contacts and my weak eyes.

The fear is that we won't keep up. Susan was going to name her blog - "suddenly Susan" but the name was taken. And my suggestion - "Eventually Susan" is more appropriate for a blog by a 58 year old woman. It happens eventually these days. But it happens.

check it out -

American Gangster

Thursday is my day off and my favorite thing to do is to go to the movies. And so this week - American Gangster. I knew I would like it because I love the whole genre of mob movies - plus Denzel Washington and 'Russell Crowe were in it!

I went with someone who had never seen a mob movie or the Sopranos. There are a lot of elements in this movies that were familiar.

- the Mob Boss as CEO who you find yourself admiring for his discipline and organization
- The Mob Boss with a family - the women who accept the financial benefits and pretend that they don't know where it came from
- the family that is also the weakness with brothers who may betray the boss
- the violence that is always there and can shock you - either a sudden fight at a party or a shocking shot to the head
- the church in the background - this time it was a protestant church and we heard hymns - "A Mighty Fortress, How Great thou Art, Amazing Grace. The mob boss who worships!
- the moral ambiguity with the police who are on the take

The character that Russell Crowe played was a renegade police officer who was not trusted by his colleagues because he was NOT on the take - he had given back a million dollars that he and his partner found in a trunk.
Later he gives up custody of his son, because he realized that his life is not conducive to raising children. Meanwhile the mob boss has a whole loving family around him.

What made this movie different was that now we have an African American Gangster. And so there is an American - "self made man" - shaped by the culture he was raised in. Really a fascinating film.
With great acting!
I not only recommend it - but would see it again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Long Obedience

A Long Obedience In the Same Direction is a wonderful book by Eugene Peterson which is about the Psalms of Ascent - Psalms 120 - 136.
This Sunday I am going to preach on Psalm 130 so I have been spending some time with this book again and just re reading my underlinings. And want to share what continues to touch me.
Here are some quotes from the book:

"The world is no friend to grace." Opening sentence of the book. Think about that.

"World is an atmosphere, a mood. It is nearly as hard for a sinner to recognize the world's temptations as it is for a fish to discover the impurities in the water."

"One aspect of the world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assupmtions that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once."

"There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness."

He quotes Gore Vidal who wrote that today's passion is for the "immediate and the casual."

"Christian living demands that we keep our feet on the ground; it also asks us to make a leap of faith. A Christian who stays put is no better than a statue. A person who leaps about constantly is under suspicion of being not a man (or woman!) but a jumping jack."

And the bottom line of this book is that this journey of following Jesus is one of dedication and perseverance. He writes that we are best guided by a fusion of scripture and prayer:
"It is not a terribly difficult way of reading and writing, but it does require diligent attentiveness. The fusion is accompanied by reading these scriptures slowly, imaginatively, prayerfully and obediently."

One of the blessings of this year for me has been that a year ago I purchased his book"The Daily Message: through the Bible in One Year." And so, this year I have read and preached through the entire Bible. I am always awed by the way that the word - especially studied in community - can speak to directly to my life.

And so this week - Psalm 130 - which begins:
Out of the depths I cry to you.

Hmmmm....I wonder where is this going to lead this week?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Peace of the Lord

This morning I got a call from Ed. His wife Jo was having a bad morning and she was upset and weepy and wanted to see me. She is in hospice and living in a hospital bed in the living room.

She is one of the sweetest women I think I have ever met. When I went to see her, we held hands and talked. She talked about her parents and seemed to be reliving their death and spoke of the cemetary. And how hard it was.

I asked for a Bible and read to her from John 14 - the verses that I read to both my Dad and my Mom as they lay dying. About the peace that God gives to us. "Peace I give you. Not as the world gives. Believe in God, believe also in me" The scripture that speaks about Jesus who goes ahead and prepares a place for us. I remember reading it to my Dad and he was maybe in a coma, but I felt he heard me. And the evening before my mother died, I told her that I had read this to him and she said "I know." Those were among the dozen words that she spoke to me that evening.

So I read to Jo. This and then Psalm 121 and then Psalm 23. I lined that to her - I said a line and she said a line. And then afterwards I said - the Lord is my shepherd and she repeated it.
And she said over and over again "He prepares my soul."
And I prayer for the peace of the Lord to be with her. And clearly it was. The tears ended and she asked Ed to bring some coffee.

There is power in the word of God and there is power in prayer.
Last night we took part in a healing service at Gender Road Christian Church. We did our reiki for about 6 people. And in our healing touch, and in our silent prayers, and in the presence of God in that place there was peace.
I don't understand any of this. But I trust it and feel blessed to be able to read God's word to people, to pray for them and to be with them in times of need.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

morning out

Every three months we have a morning out for young women. I went to this one because I wanted to lead it on prayer.
We were at Kim Veatch's beautiful home and it is November 2nd and we were able to walk in the woods.

Whenever I do this kind of thing I have learned that less is more. What people need is time alone with God and I can always trust that in some way "God shows up." And it happened today.

I shared some resources on prayer from a prayer retreat I did in September. Among other things - the idea of meditation on nature and the serenity prayer and some Bible verses that matched the 12 steps of our "prayers anonymous." After we share some joys and struggles in our lives we just had time in this beautiful place to be with God.

I spent the time first writing a prayer and then walking in the woods. As I walked in the woods I first was meditating on this scripture: "As I Humble myself before the Lord, God lifts me up."
I walked fast and enjoyed the effect on my body of walking, walking, walking. I love the sounds of the leaves as I walked and walked along the river and just enjoyed the whole thing.
As I returned back to Kim's house, I at times wondered where the path was - but it always showed itelf to me. And I thought how much that is like my life. and my mantra then became
"As I humble myself before the Lord, God shows me the way."

Returning back and sharing with the other women was so meaningful. When we shared our struggles in the beginning I felt that they were universal - struggles with balance, with accepting people as they are, with what to do in the future, with being kinder, with weight (that's me!!) with life.
I think that having a morning and sharing and then allowing silence and nature and scripture to fill us can gives us some peace and faith. To keep going, to trust, to live.

I could do this every week.