Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review....

A few days back, Facebook had something on it where it offered to show me my 2013 year in review, so I clicked on it and it compiled my 2013 year for me, per Facebook.  Looking over the "highlights" that Facebook compiled, they did a pretty decent job.

It got me thinking..... what have I done/accomplished/experienced in 2013?

What sort of things have I done/experienced with friends and family in 2013?

So today, December 31, 2013, the last day of the year, I am taking some time to reflect back on this year.

January 2013
  • We started the New Year off in Flowery Branch with family and fireworks!  We spent New Year's Eve with the Beebe bunch and got to see Riley's brother Bob, sister-in-law Vickie, and Todd, Maria, Ben and Bethany.  The fireworks were fun!
  • I had session #7 of the Academy January 7-12.  The next to last session of the journey. 
  • I taught a 7 week Lay Speaking/Servant class through BeADisciple.com starting January 14.
February 2013
  • Seminary classes started this month for the semester.
  • I preached on February 24th at White Oak UMC in Red Bank.
March 2013
  • I attended my first "quiet day retreat" at St. Mary's Sewanee on March 1st.  It was a Lenten Quiet Day Retreat.  That was a neat experience.
  • I signed my motorcycle work order on March 18.
  • My bike was picked up on March 25.
  • March 30 we went to Vogel State Park in Blairsville, GA to meet up with my cousin Frank and his family for some putt-putt golf and a walk around the lake.  Since we had missed getting to visit them when we were up in MA on our northern states tour, this was a great catch-up afternoon!
April 2013
  • Final session (#8) of the Academy for Spiritual Formation was April 2-7.  Though the journey for Academy #32 ended that week, it hasn't been the end of what God began through the Academy in my life.
  • Worked a Women's Emmaus Walk (#59) April 18-21.  My last walk to work as a laity member in the community as I had been approved as clergy and could now work as an assistant spiritual director when asked.
May 2013
  • I led a 1/2 day retreat for women on May 16 at Camp Dixie.  I had lots of great help pulling that together and there was a good turnout. 
  • Charlotte was confirmed on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.
  • I preached at Royal Oaks assisted living facility in Dalton, GA on May 26.
  • We took a family vacation to Amicalola Falls State Park May 27-30.
June 2013
  • Swim practices twice a day for Charlotte and swim meets twice a week for the Red Bank Gator swim team. 
  • Saw the Sidewalk Prophets in concert at City Church June 9.
  • Left for Wilmore, KY on June 16 for my first on campus class on the Wilmore campus.  I stayed in Nicholasville at the Corner House B&B.  I took TH 670 with Dr. Steve Seamands June 17-21.
  • I preached at White Oak UMC June 23.
  • The People to People (P2P) delegation met with Mayor Jim Coppinger on June 25 at the Courthouse.  Photo opportunity with the Mayor before going to Canada.
July 2013

  • Charlotte's People to People trip to Canada which originally was to be in June was rescheduled for July and she left on July 8 for the Western Rockies Adventure.
  • I had my first in-person Hearts on Fire / FUMSDRL board meeting in Buffalo, MN at Christ the King retreat center, July 9-11.
  • SoulFeast July 14-18, Lake Junaluska, NC.
  • Starting teaching the 7 week class via BeADisciple.com on July 29.
  • Charlotte and Riley went to 6 Flags over Georgia on July 30, compliments of the 6th grade teachers at Hixson Middle School (Charlotte's ticket).
August 2013
  • Met with the DCOM on August 6 for interview to see where I was in process and how things were going.
  • Charlotte started 7th grade on August 8.
September 2013
  • Sept. 5-7 -- 1st weekend of intensive CS 601 Ethics class for the semester
  • Sept. 12-14-- 2nd weekend of class
  • September 27-- Jason Crabb in concert in Soddy Daisy.
  • Susan Komen race for the Cure, Team Thomas-- September 29.  In honor of Charlotte's day care provider, we joined with a big group of others to support Ms. Carolyn.  We didn't get to walk though because I had to teach that night at church and there was too much squeezed into the day.
October 2013
  • October 1-- Charlotte played in her first middle school football game with the band.
  • October 1-- I bought a new pair of shoes since I hadn't had a good pair of walking/running shoes in a LONG time.  Starting walking daily.
  • October 6-9-- went to Canton, GA to spend time with a friend who was recovering from hip surgery. 
  • October 9-- 49th birthday.  Came home that day, stopping in Dalton for lunch with Mom and Dad.
  • October 10-- went hang-gliding for the first time.  Was up in the air for about 51 minutes.  Totally awesome experience.
  • October 20-- Blaine Family Reunion in Franklin, NC.
  • October 21-26-- Fall Break.  We took a family trip to Arkansas to see Riley's brother Bob and sister in law Vickie.  We stopped in Memphis on the way there and back.  We went to Branson, MO while in Arkansas (right across the border).  We did a zip line there in Branson and shopped in the old part of town.  Great trip.
November 2013
  • My aunt Vicki and uncle Paul from California came to town (Dalton) November 7 for a few days.
  • I preached my sermon for the preaching class November 13.  It had to be videotaped and uploaded for the class. 
  • Charlotte and I were volunteers at the Hixson Wildcat Crawl on the 16th.  We handed out water to the walkers and runners.  It was a cold, misty morning.
  • Charlotte had Jr. Band Clinic try outs on November 23.

December 2013
  • Finished out my semester requirements for my two classes.
  • Charlotte had Jr. Band Clinic December 6 and 7 with a concert on the 7th.
  • Got my haircut and donated 10 inches to Wigs for Kids on December 10.  Haven't had a haircut in about 2 years.
  • Charlotte took the ACT on December 14.
  • Dana and Shawn came to town from California on December 21.  We got to visit with them and catch up some on their lives.
  • I preached at Fairview UMC on December 29.
  • We moved Sean December 30 to his new housing.  "Guy with a Truck" did the major moving yesterday while Sean's Mom and Dad, step-dad, myself, and friends have been preparing the house over the past several weeks.
  • My motorcycle is still in the shop at Chattanooga State, BUT it is almost ready.  It lacks some work on brake parts that we needed to reorder.  I'm considering a paint job at this point.  We'll see.  She has been there quite a while, but will be fully ready to ride (as I will be) when she comes home.
There were some band concerts in there; lunches, dinners, and coffee times with friends and family; doctor visits; lots of reading and paper writing; newsletters for Hearts on Fire; a couple of classes taught at church; a Bible Study taught for Mustard Tree ladies; a Wesley Life Group (one-on-one) with a great student; taekwondo classes; yoga classes; centering prayer; meetings with my spiritual director....

And then there were the trips to Avondale Estates, GA to help Mom get things out of my grandmother's home to prepare it to sell.  And the moving of my grandmother to an assisted living facility.

There were other events during the year too. 

Such as celebrations with friends as they celebrated birthdays or being with others as they had surgeries or recovered.  There were visits to funeral homes to comfort friends.

There were serendipity meetings at restaurants, stores, or coffee shops with folks I hadn't seen in a while.....and we shared a few moments in catch up conversation.

As I look back and reflect on 2013, I can say that it was indeed a very full and blessed year.  I am grateful for each and every moment.

This adventurous journey is truly a blessing.

Thank you for being a part of it with me.

Blessings on your journey..... May your 2014 be super!

Session #8 of the Academy (April)... my Certificate.  The experience is worth SO MUCH MORE...

May 2013 vacation at Amicalola Falls State Park.  Painted faces with "paint rocks", following Camp Lookout tradition. ☺

Truly an incredibly humbling and spiritual experience, flying! October 10


March 30, Vogel State Park... cousin Frank!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Are You Ready to Praise? -- today's sermon at Fairview UMC

Today I had the honor and privilege of preaching at Fairview UMC on Big Ridge.  It's a small church on a two-point circuit with Grace UMC.  The pastor, Clair Sauer, was out of town with family and had contacted me several weeks back to see if I would be available for today.  My calendar was open, so I said "yes". 

Today there weren't as many folks as normal in attendance, but that is typical for the Sunday after Christmas.  Folks are still traveling, with family, maybe just taking the day off because the regular pastor is gone... ☺  I didn't count, but a "guess-timate" would be about 20-25 folks in attendance.

The church is white on the outside with an intimate sanctuary.  It has a "homey" feel to it.  I've preached once before there and have been there for Bible Studies when our church was a sister church with them.

Our church, along with Fairview and Grace, share in the Mustard Tree Ministries meal once a month on a Thursday evening.

Because of the Bible Studies in the past, having served some of those meals, and having preached once before there, I have met some of the members of Fairview.  It was good to re-connect with folks today.

Our worship time together went well.... from the songs to the Advent candle lighting to the offerings to the special sharing by a member, Eunice.  I can't speak for the sermon from their point of view, but from my point of view on delivery, it seemed to go well.

I had picked Psalm 148 from the lectionary when Clair first asked.  It has been sitting with me and the sermon below is what came out.  I didn't time it this time, but I imagine it was around 15 minutes.  My preaching class this past semester required a 10 minute sermon and I preached another 10 minute sermon this past semester, so I've been used to shorter sermons in the recent past. ☺

What I shared with the congregation isn't exactly what is written below because I added some things during the sermon and probably left out some things too.  But, you get an idea of what the sermon covered.

Are You Ready To Praise?
Psalm 148
Fairview UMC
December 29, 2013

Today is the 1st Sunday after Christmas on the Christian calendar, the 5th day of Christmas.  Can you believe that Christmas is finally here?!?!  After all the waiting of the four weeks during the Advent season, Christmas is here! 

For some, Christmas has already come and gone.  But in reality, Christmas has only just begun.

A quote about the Christmas Season: "Christmas holds the key to unlocking the deepest mysteries of our lives: Who are we, where did we come from, is there meaning to our lives, and where are we going?" (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, page 47)

Because we have journeyed through the waiting time of Advent, awaiting the coming of Immanuel, God-with-us, what could be a better Scripture to focus on today than one of the Praise Psalms? 

Let's look at Psalm 148, found on page 550 in your pew Bibles.
1Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
    he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
    stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
    creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
    old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his faithful,
    for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!


The praise in this Psalm is unending.  It goes throughout all creation, including everyone and everything.  Nothing, no one is left out of the opportunity to praise the Lord.  All of creation is called to join in to praise the Creator of creation.

This includes us today.  Especially during this Christmas season when we celebrate Christ coming to be among us as God with us, Immanuel. 

Rueben Job, a Bishop in the United Methodist Church, writes: "Jesus Christ came and was clothed in human flesh to let us know who God is and what God is really like.  In Jesus Christ we see that God is approachable, and to a degree knowable by creatures like us.  God can understand our condition because God has made us.  We can know God because God has been revealed in Jesus Christ."  (A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, page 49)

THIS is reason to PRAISE GOD!

Praising God isn't something we do out of our own emotional tank.  If that were the case, there would be many times that we simply wouldn't feel like praising God.  Our praise isn't based on how we feel.  But rather it is based on who God is and what God has done and is doing. 

Looking back over the verses of Psalm 148, we see that the call to praise is because

  • "he commanded and they were created" (v. 5)
  • "He established them forever and ever" (v. 6)
  • "his name alone is exalted" (v. 13)

The praise isn't based on anything but what God has done and who God is, both of which call for the praise of all creation.

Yet, the circumstances along the journey don't always make it easy to praise.  There are difficult times and situations.  What do we do in these times?

We strive to keep a proper perspective and focus on the One who has come to be among us, the One who Created all for us.

You may have your own situations or stories of this...  Some friends of mine have been going through a very dark and difficult time these past 4 weeks.  The husband contracted a blood disease and has been fighting for his life in ICU.  He has had several surgeries, been on ventilators and dialysis and in a coma.  The wife has been waiting in the ICU waiting room.  While waiting, she has been praising God the Creator, lifting up praise for the progress and prayer for continued situation.  As Advent moved into Christmas, my friend has made some significant progress, but remains in ICU.  He opens his eyes now.

I have two other friends battling cancer, getting their dosages of chemo, both of them fighting like superheroes, both of them continuing to praise God throughout the process.

These aren't easy situations... Yet, because of who God is to each of these persons, they are praising God through their circumstances.

Whether we are at the heights or in the depths, we are called to praise.  Today's praise Psalm takes us on a praise journey throughout all of creation.

Sometimes it helps to look at a different version of the Scripture to get a different view of it.  There are also Psalm Prayers that have been written based on the Psalms by different people.

Listen to this Psalm prayer of Psalm 148 by Jerry Webber (Fingerprints on Every Moment: 40 Psalm-Prayers in Contemplative Voice).


Praise to You, Lord God, from the heavenly heights;

Praise to You from the unseen spiritual world;

Praise to You from the angel hosts.

Shine your praise, Brother Sun;

Glisten your praise, Sister Moon;

Sparkle your praise, far-away stars;

Burst your praise, distant constellations;

Thunder your praise, storm-clouds and winds.

Receive praise, Lord God,

     the praise of all You created above,

     everything made to offer You praise!

Praise to You, Lord God,

     from the earth below,

Praise from ocean depths and swimming creatures,

Burning, freezing, raining, misting praise,

     windy praise we feel but cannot see;

Mountains and hills that praise You in stillness,

     waving harvest fields that praise You by bearing fruit,

Trees that praise You in growing through the cold mid-winter,

     household pets and wild creatures in the woodlands,

     crawling things and flying things,

All praise You in their being;

The world's leaders and all her peoples,

     young and old,

     all with a heart's-bent to praise You.

Receive our praise, You who alone are God.

     Your beauty and renown stretches beyond

     the heaves and the earth,

     recognized by all.

Give us, Your people, the will to praise You always,

     to weather each season of life in praise,

     to find in You a peace that never falters.

Alleluia!  Praise to You, God!


As we leave here today, how might we continue to live into this Christmas season these next 7 days of Christmas with an attitude of praise?

Let's pray.

Closing prayer:

Psalm prayer by Judy Holloway, #367 Upper Room Book of Worship

O God, creator of the universe and worlds beyond,

     we lift our praise to you.

You bless your creation with faithfulness,

     and you desire only the goodness of harmony and peace.

May we carry your praise into the world

     so that all creation is blessed by your goodness.  Amen.

Benediction: Go now in peace and praise and may the God of Creation go with you.


Blessings on your journey,


Friday, December 27, 2013

104 Broad Street

104 Broad Street, Statesboro, GA (from Google Maps)

104 Broad Street.

That's where she has been wanting to go lots lately.  She talks about it with the caretakers at the assisted living facility.  She mentions it by the address.

Who?  My grandmother, Meemo.  Ruth.

What is 104 Broad Street?  Her childhood home in Statesboro, GA. 

She talks about going to her mother's house.  That's where she wants to go.

I got to experience this on Christmas Eve.

After dinner at my Mom's house and opening presents, it was getting late.  We have a family tradition of playing a wacky, awesome family game that my aunt Vicki in California sends each year.  She is super creative and we have lots of fun.  Meemo usually participates, but this year she was tired.  So Mom and I took her back to her place so she could go ahead and go to bed.

But it wasn't that simple.  I told her we were going to take her back to her place.  She asked what I was going to do, where I was going to stay.  I told her I was spending the night at Mom's house.  She said she didn't really want to go back to her place.  We explained that's where her bed was.  That didn't seem to matter.

We got her up and to the car.  When she first got into the car, she mentioned that she wanted to go to her Mom's house, Mamo's (Memo) house.  I explained that Mamo (Memo) doesn't live there anymore.  She said it was still Mamo's (Memo) house.  I said that other people live there now.  She told me we had been there earlier in the day and asked if I remembered.  I told her I didn't remember that. 

I was driving, so I prepared to back out of the driveway.  She asked if I knew how to get there.  I told her I did. 

When we got to the assisted living facility, she looked at it and didn't really want to get out of the car.  That's not where she wanted to be. 

I knew that she wanted to be at 104 Broad Street.  But what I didn't know and what I can't know is what is going through her mind.  What are the memories she is having of her childhood home and of her mother?  Are they good ones?  I hope so! 

We got her into the facility and went into the parlor before going upstairs.  We wanted to make sure the caretakers knew she was back before we left her in her room.  Mom checked on that while I sat with my grandmother.

Meemo became a little agitated for a moment and expressed that she was frustrated because she was confused.  She was trying to figure it all out.  I can only imagine how confusing that would be.... to decipher between reality, the present and the past. 

I told her to enjoy those memories of her Mom and the house.  I empathized with her frustration and told her that I loved her.  She looked at me after that and said "thank you" a couple of times.

We moved from the parlor up to her room.  The caretakers came to get her ready for bed.  I told her "Merry Christmas" and that I loved her and we left.

It's not easy to be on this journey.  To walk alongside someone with whom you no longer can fully communicate.  You have your memories.  They have theirs. 

I know it happens all the time.  Many go through this.  I cherish each and every moment I get with my grandmother and am blessed that she has been a part of my life this long. 

I wish I knew more about that house on 104 Broad Street.  What stories would it tell me? 

I wish I had written down more stories throughout the years from my grandmother and other family members. 

When it comes my time to go back to my childhood home, will it be the house I lived in on Judd Terrace, the duplex, before we moved to Lakemont Drive?  I wonder where my brain will take me?!?!

Meanwhile, my goal is to accompany my grandmother on her journey, to companion her on her way.  To be there for her.  To love her during and through this time.  My goal is to also be there for my Mom, to assist her on this journey as well. 

It's a blessed journey, bittersweet. 


NOTE-- My "Meemo" (pronounced  [mee-moh] is Ruth.  Her Mom, "Mamo" or "Memo" (pronounced [meh-moh]) was Florence Elkins.  She married a Clark.  I always knew my great grandmother by her nickname.  We share the same birthday.

Picking up Meemo from the Assisted Living Facility for Christmas Eve dinner.

Florence Elkins, aka "Mamo/Memo" by the azaleas in the yard, Statesboro, GA


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Living through the darkness...a new day dawning

This week has been different for me.

This past Saturday evening I began to cough.  Deep.  It gave me a headache.  It was as if someone pulled the bathtub drain on me and my energy was sapped away.  So, I went to bed.  For me, it felt like it hit me out of left field.

Sunday morning I was supposed to be on prayer chapel duty during 2nd service, but I knew I wasn't going anywhere, so I communicated that to the prayer team.  I was able to tune in online during the 2nd service and watch it live through the website and pray, but I was in such a mental stupor, that I barely remember anything.

Mental stupor.  Barely remember anything.  That pretty much describes Sunday through Wednesday.  Not only did I sleep most of the time, but in some of the deep sleep time I found myself in some pretty weird places.  I did get up for medication and water.

Cough.  Headache.  Weak.  Tired.  UGH!

Meanwhile, the word for the weak in the Simply Wait Advent Study is "patience".  I looked at that at some point Monday or Tuesday and chuckled.  I was having to be patient with myself.  Actually it wasn't so bad this time.  I completely surrendered.  I didn't try to be any "hero".  I didn't try to do what I couldn't do.  Someone stepped in and taught the class on my behalf Tuesday night (Thank you!) 

I think I am learning to listen to my body and live into rest, etc.  I didn't read any symptoms going into it prior though.  And, that causes me to wonder if I missed something in my listening.  Last week was more busy in my life than normal.  I ended up giving quite a bit of time and energy more than normal and being on the go.  There were quite a few family situations.  Yet, it all seemed to have been worked out and good.  And I had the energy at the time. 

Whatever caused the "crash".... whether viral or whatever, it has been a learning time (everything can be a learning time).

I saw some quotes on Facebook that spoke to me in relation to this journey.

A quote from Parker Palmer from the Shalem Institute Facebook page on darkness: "The experience of darkness has been essential to my coming into selfhood, and telling the truth about that fact helps me stay in the light."  This is one that I have been living into for several years now.  This truly has been a part of me coming alive or coming into something because experiencing darkness and speaking about it has brought forth light and growth for me.  I imagine it hasn't always been comfortable for others.  It hasn't always been comfortable for me.  But, I'm becoming more comfortable with it.  That may be odd.  But that's okay.

A quote from Eckhart Tolle from some encouraging source.  It was embedded in a picture.  I thought I had "shared" it to my own Facebook page so I could more easily find it, but I must have omitted a button or something because it didn't show up.  All I can remember is that the quote spoke to me.  Oh well.  However, in searching for the quote, I have found wonderful other quotes on stillness and suffering.  I have books to add to my reading list once again. ☺

As I picked up my Simply Wait Advent Study and started reading the Scripture for the week, the first Scripture was Isaiah 35:1-10.  I'm several days behind.  But, that's okay.  Remember, the word is "patience" this week.

Isaiah 35:1-10 (NIV)
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
    the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
    and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
    and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
    the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
    grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
And a highway will be there;
    it will be called the Way of Holiness;
    it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
    wicked fools will not go about on it.
No lion will be there,
    nor any ravenous beast;
    they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10     and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
    everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
    and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

This passage spoke to me this morning.  It spoke life to me.

I am getting my strength back.  Yesterday I was able drive my daughter to school in the morning (then go back to bed).  I sat in the sun room some.  I took her to the dentist in the afternoon.

Today, my strength continues to grow.  I still cough some, but I have energy once again.   The weakness is leaving.

My husband and daughter picked up a Christmas tree on Tuesday.  It is a family tradition that I missed this year.  That's okay.  He put the lights on.  It will get decorated eventually.  Decorating close to the 12 days of Christmas is my goal (day 1 doesn't start until Christmas).  However, this year, the energy level may allow for beautiful lights.  We'll see. 

The amazing thing?  There hasn't been stress.  Even through all the family situations.  Even through being in bed.  Even through living into and through the darkness these past several days.  I have been at peace.  I can't explain that.  Nor do I need to.   Yet, as I read that passage this morning, a light bulb went off in my mind. ☺

I also woke up this morning with the thought "it's a new day dawning".  Maybe because I'm coming out of my darkness, my stupor.  Maybe because my friend in ICU is coming out of his.  I don't know.  But, the thought was there.  So I pulled up Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons so I could sing about the "new day dawning".

And, then about 1/2 an hour later, the sun began to rise.  And, oh what reds, yellows, and oranges painted the sky this morning.  It truly WAS a new day dawning!

For me, I new I turned a corner physically because I was able to drink coffee once again.  I don't drink coffee when I'm sick. 

I don't know what darkness you've been experiencing, but I want to encourage you that there is a new day dawning at the edge of the wilderness. I'll walk the journey with you.

Let's go.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Waiting room food

The other day (Thursday, December 12) I went with a friend to her scope appointment at the hospital.  While in the main waiting room area, a representative from a local hospital came in and announced that there was food in the ICU waiting room for all folks like us hanging out in the waiting room.  Since we had run into an old friend who was there with another friend for a friend, we were all waiting for my friend to get called back into a room. 

The friend that we knew from another church went with his friend to get some food (which by the way was yummy sandwiches, chips, deviled eggs, etc).

My friend got called back to a room.

Then, I got moved to a smaller waiting room and said goodbye to my friends, the old one and the new one.  It had been good to catch up with the one and get to know the other.

In the new waiting room, there weren't as many people. 

After reading for quite a while, a tall gentleman comes in, looking around and saying 'there's no food in here.'  He sits down declaring that he could eat a large hamburger about now, making a huge hamburger sign with his hands.  Sounded good to me.  He had some pictures with him.  Now I understood why he was so hungry.  He was a patient and just finished with a scope.  I didn't ask which one.

I told him there was food in the ICU waiting room, compliments of a church, but that I didn't know how to get there because someone else had been kind enough to get my plate.   He declined.  He didn't seem to really want to go anywhere.

I noticed he was wearing a star around his neck.  It looked like a Star of David, but a little different.  So, I got up to take a closer look.  I told him I liked his star.  He told me it was a Star of David.  It had colored jewels inside.  Then he proceeded to start talking about the King.  And, he slowly, yet surely, became animated.  Not overly animated, but alive.

He forgot all about his hunger.

Turns out, he's a preacher.  His dad and his grandfather were preachers.  They were gifted with healing.  He talked about Jesus, helping others, taking the Word and food into the projects, offering picnics to kids when his kids were younger, etc.  He shared and shared.  I wondered what the rest of the folks thought about this, but they seemed to be okay with it.  I was a little concerned that I had started something by simply asking about his star.

It was neat listening to his stories.

When he was done, I said something to him about getting his meal later on and he said he didn't even feel hungry any more.   A lady near me said that he just ate. ☺  She knew what was going on.  She had not only been listening, but interacting. 

Yes, there was spiritual food being shared in that waiting room.  And, even though he was the one sharing it, he was also fed by it, as were the rest of us.  We all got filled it.

After his ride came and he left, I overheard some other conversations.  I shouldn't have been worried whether or not I should have started a conversation.  First of all, if I am acting on God's leadings, that is God's issue.  Second of all, the other folks started talking about church and ministry, etc. 

I didn't get the guys' name. 

But I did get two helpings of waiting room food that day.

Blessings on your journey,


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In the chair...

Yesterday I was "in the chair."

That is different from being "on the couch."

Yet, not so much in many places.

Yesterday I got my hair cut.  It hasn't been cut in about two years.  I simply haven't gone to get it cut.  I don't cut it often anyway.  It had grown fairly long.  Throughout my life I have had short hair and I have had long hair.  I like it both ways.  There was a time where I even had permed hair, but that was a long time ago.

Hair for me is simply something on my head.  It needs to be easy to fix because I'm not good at doing much with it.  I'm a "wash and go" person.  Literally.  A hairdryer is used only on very cold mornings when there isn't enough time to air-dry the hair.

Somewhere from deep inside, the thought came to me that since I had quite a bit of hair, why not check to see if I could donate it.  So, I checked with a friend who is a stylist.  The requirements were that one needed to have 10 inches of hair that hadn't been colored.  My hair fit those requirements.  She assured me that the white hairs interspersed wouldn't count as "colored". ☺

Donating my hair is something I had thought about before, but never really had enough.  Not until recently.  I haven't had short hair since about 2010 or a year or so before.   I haven't even thought about cutting my hair until fairly recently, though there was one time about a year ago that I was ready "on go" to shave it when a friend was going through cancer.  Her cancer was removed surgically and further treatments weren't needed.  She didn't go through hair loss.  I didn't need to follow through with the deal I had made with myself, to myself.  But I would have.  And, if, that leading ever comes along again..... to stand by someone's side in such a way, you may see me bald.  Bless us all, because I have no idea what my "bowling ball" head will look like.

I was able to schedule my hair appointment and donation for this week, after my friend got back from an extended Thanksgiving break (due to a car accident that left her stranded, but okay).

Originally, I was going to do this on Thursday, but got back with her to get it done yesterday, Tuesday.  Mainly because there are several things going on in my life and in the life of friends and family that day and I feel the need to be available.

So, yesterday was the day.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous. 

(1) I've not had a haircut in a while.
(2) I had never been to this salon location.
(3) I have never donated my hair before.
(4) I knew this was more than a simple hair cut and donation.

Let me explain #4.  My stylist friend is a spiritual friend, a fellow journeyer on the faith journey.  For her, cutting hair and styling hair isn't "just" a job; it's a ministry.  She listens; she prays.  She is a vessel of love and the Holy Spirit while working on her clients.

I wasn't planning on talking much (and I didn't--some, but not lots).  I simply wanted "to be."  That's what I needed. 

She informed me later that she prayed for me while I was in the chair.  Good!  I was praying for her too.  I was soaking it all in.  Observing the interactions in the studio, observing her work, and simply allowing myself to receive; to receive not only the gift and skill of the stylist on the haircut, but also the prayers poured into me. 

It was a fun time.  Relaxing.  Joyful.  Energizing.  I think I even lost a few pounds.  Well, I at least lost 10 inches.  Of hair.  But that probably doesn't weigh much at all.

me "in the chair" with my donation

The donation is going to Wigs for Kids.  (Click on the highlighted name to learn more about this organization.)

My stylist friend is a true example of living out her calling in the world.  She is ministering right where she is supposed to be.  She makes a difference in the lives of many that come through the doors of that salon and sit in her chair.  Through her leadership and through her styling, she is able to shine and share the love and light of Christ.

What an example for all of us, to be light and love in the world where we are.... whether it is through our vocations, in the stores while shopping, on the roads and in the air while traveling, etc. 

Thanks Studio 3 Salon and Spa for making this donation happen and for making this experience a little less scary! (That was a lot of hair!)

Studio 3 Website
Studio 3 Facebook page

Thanks also for showing me what ministry can look like to someone "in the chair."

May you be blessed on your journey today,


length of hair prior to cut

the "after cut" photo with stylist

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Word clouds.... creating one for Advent

I first learned about word clouds a few months ago when at our District Charge Conference the District Administrative Assistant had used one via Wordle for the cover of the charge conference handbook (it contained all the names of the churches in the District).  Then, as I thought back to our Academy's closing week, I realized that the program cover from our 2 Year Academy was also a word cloud with all the "words of the day" from each session in both Spanish and English.  I don't know which format she used, but I am going to guess Wordle because that seems to be the first of the word cloud applications.

Today I wanted to make an Advent word cloud.

I first tried Wordle because I have used it once before.  But Wordle wasn't working for me today.  It seemed I was having some Java issues and after trying to resolve those issues to no avail, I moved on and tried a different word cloud site, Word It Out.

My Advent word cloud looks like this:


If you look closely, you will find "quiet" and "stillness" in the middle of it all.  I had to keep playing with it until the words came up (more or less) like I wanted them too. 

The colors didn't come up in their true color (that would have been cool).  And there isn't much control over which words are big and which words are little. 

However, with some patience and many keystrokes, I decided to go with the above image. 

It goes along with an editorial piece for an upcoming newsletter that will go out on the 15th.  

What words come to mind for you at this time of year?

Are you able to find some quiet and stillness in the middle of it all?

Blessings on your journey,


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Anticipation.... is making me wait.


The Advent season.

Yes, as I reflected on the word "anticipation", the first thing that came to mind were the ketchup commercials from my childhood.

Do you know the ones?  The glass bottle is held over the food and the red condiment is ever so slowly making its way onto the food.  The song "Anticipation" by Carly Simon is being sung in the background.  Here is one such commercial from the 1970s:

Carly Simon 1971 album "Anticipation":


Yes, the Advent season is full of anticipation. 

You may not be a ketchup eater.  You may not be able to relate to the anticipation brought to my mind from the past of the ketchup slowly making its way out of the glass bottle to the food while those wanting to eat waited and waited. 

You may not have experienced this waiting with ketchup.  You may not even like ketchup.

It was worth the wait.  Not just because the commercial said so, but because it was good.

But, what does ketchup have to do with Advent you ask?  It's all about the waiting.  Advent is the season of waiting, of preparation, of anticipation.... for the coming of the Christ child.   It's a time to slow down, to reflect, to not hurry through. 

If ketchup is worth waiting for, then imagine waiting during Advent and what that is worth.


Blessings on your journey through this Advent season,


"Gracious God, I put myself before you in this moment with waiting heart, expectant desire.  Open my eyes that I may see your promise fulfilled; open my ears that I may hear your word whispered to my deepest being.  Amen." (A Guide to Prayer For All God's People, First Sunday in Advent, page 23)