Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Growing deeper in faith or staying put?

When it comes to the faith journey, I guess my view is that it is one of growth and change.  It is difficult for me to imagine living in stagnation, in the same place for a life time.  Yet, I guess that is possibly what some people want.  A conversation with my walking buddy this morning caused me to reflect more on this today as we talked about people being satisfied in their faith journey and/or with milk and not desiring the deeper or meatier versions of the journey. 

Much as we cannot NOT grow up physically, I find it hard to fathom that we wouldn't want to grow up emotionally and spiritually as well.  Yet, I recognize that there are things that hinder our growth along life's journey in all areas, physically included.  So, what makes that difference?  How is it that there are those who hunger and thirst for the deeper relationship with the Creator and seek to know God more intimately and those who are satisfied with a 'get-out-of-hell-free-card'? 

I don't have the answer.  Yet, I know that I am called to love and guide all, especially those in the darkness seeking their way out.  But what about those in the darkness who don't want out and those who are fine with wherever they are in their journey?  I realize that is where others are and I am okay with where someone else is.  I can be okay with that.  Mostly.  It depends on the context.  If I'm in a purposeful context for spiritual growth and formation, it is my thought that others are there for the same purpose and therefore, whether or not they desire to grow in their journey, I hope they can be okay with my passion and hunger and thirst to keep going deeper.  This will be interesting as my ministry journey continues.

I did a search on "growing deeper" and was relieved to find many articles and websites dedicated to the deeper growing faith.  I even found a United Methodist website with resources in the Missouri Conference.  Check it out.  You will find some good resources here for yourself and/or for your church. 

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I understand that growth has its time and place.  It isn't constant.  There is a time for movement along the journey and times for stillness.  That is part of the rhythm.  Just as we went from milk to mush to solids as an infant and rested often in between our feedings, there are times of spiritual feedings and rest.  We feed, we act on our feeding (serving in the world, community, etc.), we rest.   There is an ebb and flow, a balance. 

For me, if I'm not changing and growing deeper at some point during a given year from where I was in the previous year, then I need to assess my vitals-- am I truly living heart, mind, soul, and strength as I say that I desire to be, for my Creator?!  If there isn't evidence of growth or change, then something isn't matching up and something needs be pruned, reworked, etc. 

Maybe there are people who can simply "stay put" and be satisfied.  That's not the example I see in the Scriptures of those that followed Christ.  Nor is it the example of any of those I've read from days gone by.  All who have entered into relationship with the Creator have sought after a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Creator. 

I guess it's one of those things I may not ever understand.  And that's okay.  As the song goes, "I want to live this life unsafe, unsure, but not afraid..."  The song is "Believer" by Audio Adrenaline.  I've shared it before.  I'll share it again.  It is my heart's desire to continue going deeper.  I believe that it is also the desire of the Creator to be in deeper relationship with us.  I believe I've seen it in the Scriptures and I know I've experienced it.  But, hey, maybe that's just me.

"Believer" video with lyrics:


So, there you have it.... some thoughts and reflections today spurred on by a conversation during my morning walking time.  The physical and spiritual are closely connected.

Blessings on your journey,


Monday, April 21, 2014

A quote about prayer and peace leading into the 2nd Sunday of Easter....

In today's reading of A Guide to Prayer For All God's People (red book), a quote by Catherine de Hueck Doherty on page 156 stood out to me.  I have written about one of her quotes on spiritual growth before in a blogpost from December  27, 2011.

This quote started off about prayer, but led into peace, and ended up with wounds.  It is a profound quote that touches me deeply. 

As I walk into this 2nd week of Easter, there are many things swirling around in my life.  I have my final weekend of worship class at the end of this week.  Before I can get there, I have quite a bit of reading and other coursework to finish.

But that's not the main thing on my heart, mind, and soul.  There is a situation in life that continues to escalate and unravel before my eyes.  Prayer is the only thing within my control at this point.  If I'm honest with myself and others, the outcome isn't looking good.  For me to keep in control, I'm having to let go, over and over..... to submit to the One who can control this.... and trust.   There is peace for me, even in the midst of uncertainty and concern.  That peace runs deep, thankfully. 

It is within this context that I read this quote this morning:

"Where does the life in prayer lead?  Toward the end of the journey inward, after one has met Christ and shared his cross, one enters a strange land of loneliness.  Peace seems to precede it.  I think that it is the peace that comes through having been crucified.  There is a moment of resurrection, as if one has been taken off the cross.  The wounds are not healed, but they no longer hurt."  --From Soul of My Soul by Catherine de Hueck Doherty

I don't know if there is anything in this quote for you today.  Read it over a few times.  What words or phrases stand out to you?  Where do they meet you on your journey?

For me the words and phrases that stand out are: life in prayer, journey inward, land of loneliness, peace, resurrection, wounds not healed, but no longer hurt

If there isn't anything in this quote, maybe you'll want to check out the other post I wrote on another one of her quotes and included links about her (linked above).

As I walk into the Easter Season on this 2nd week of Easter, heading toward the 2nd Sunday of Easter, I pray that I may be open to hear and see and experience what the Wounded Healer might be attempting to teach me.

Blessings on your journey,


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Saturday reflections

This morning I read from all three of the prayer guides that I have from the Upper Room books: A Guide To Prayer For Ministers and Other Servants (blue book), A Guide To Prayer For All Who Seek God (green book), and A Guide To Prayer For All God's People (red book).

Several things spoke to me in the readings that I will share.  There has been heaviness that remained with me throughout the morning and into the day.  Maybe it's because today is Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday and the day before the Resurrection.  Maybe there are burdens on my heart, mind, and soul beyond those of which I'm aware.  I'm not sure. 

A peaceful respite during the afternoon was during my daughter's piano lessons during which I was able to hold a beautiful 6-week old child while she slept.  She woke up toward the end of the lesson, yawned several times, became slightly agitated, and fell asleep again in my arms.  Watching her sleep took me back to the days when my own child was so young, so tiny.  How precious are the moments we have to gaze upon the face of a child, to hold it tight. 

Life.  It is wonderful.  It is amazing.  It is challenging.  It is difficult.  It is heartbreaking.  It is all these things and more.    Most of all, it is truly an adventure.  Life continues to teach me new things, to broaden my horizons, to allow me to explore and to unfold. 

As I reflected this afternoon on this beautiful child and her life at this moment, I listened to my "child", now a teenager, play her lesson on the piano.  She is an incredible gift of life.

Tomorrow, I will reflect more on the resurrected life of Christ so that I might have life.  This life that I have.... I continue to desire to live it with abandon, following the example of the One who surrendered His will and His life so that I might know the freedom of grace.   I continue to fall, to fail in my attempts to live as my Mentor.   Yet, I allow myself to be lifted up by the surrounding community and my Creator and continue on. 

Both the red (149) and the blue (146) prayer guides had this reflection from the Mozarabic Sacramentary:

"The Day of Resurrection has dawned upon us, the day of true light and life, wherein Christ, the life of believers, arose from the dead  Let us give abundant thanks and praise to God, that while we solemnly celebrate the day of our Lord's resurrection, he may be pleased to bestow on us quiet peace and special gladness, so that being protected from morning to night by his favoring mercy, we may rejoice in the gift of our Redeemer.  Amen."

[Since I quoted from the Mozarabic Sacramentary, that may have raised some questions.  The Sacramentary is a collection of prayers, a prayer book, the book of prayers.  The term "Mozarab" refers to the multiplicity of groups (Christians that remained under Muslim rule when the Muslims took over) who lived primarily in Toledo, Spain.  The prayers, chants, and liturgies that came from this time period are still used today.  More about the Mozarabic Rite can be found at the Catholic Encyclopedia link here.  An Order of the Mozarabic Rite can be found here.  (It's a PDF and is in Latin.)]

Why does this interest you?  It might not.  At all.  Why does it interest me?  I studied abroad in Spain in 1984.  I traveled throughout Spain and visited Cathedrals and Castles.  Spanish is my 2nd language.  At one time I knew more about the history than I do now.... Think back brain to those classes I took in undergraduate studies on history and for international studies! ☺

As Holy Saturday comes closer to dusk, I close today's post with some information on Holy Saturday.

Today is a day of silence, darkness, waiting, unknowing, reflection.  What just happened?  What will become of all of us?  What does this mean for us now. 

At the time of the crucifixion and burial, the questions centered around whether or not the man that was killed was truly the Messiah that had come to save them, because if he were, then why hadn't he saved them?  Why hadn't he saved himself?  People were confused, afraid, uncertain, grieving.   There were family and friends that had lost a close companion.  There were others that had lost a mentor and a leader.  Others lost a teacher.  Many lost hope. 

They didn't know what we know today.  That after the burial, there was an empty tomb.  That death did not hold the Messiah.

But, that's tomorrow.  For today, we wait.  We reflect.  We grieve.  We wonder. 

Ah.... maybe this is what today's burden has been all about.

Blessings on your journey into the Easter Season,


P.S.  Here's a reflection on Holy Saturday for you by Barbara Brown Taylor-- Learning To Wait in the Dark: A Holy Saturday Reflection.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sisterchicks in Gondolas.... other nuggets from the book

I've already shared with you the biggest nugget I received from the novel Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn-- the expression "grace on you".  Have you used it yet?

I thought I would take a moment this afternoon to share some of the other nuggets I received from the book.  I doubt I will be able to find them all since I didn't mark them in any way.  But I hope to find a few to pass along to you.  Maybe something here will encourage and/or challenge you.  Maybe you will want to pick up a copy of the book and read it for yourself.  Who knows?!?!

Here we go.

As I open the book, there is a familiar Scripture passage (Psalm 23) that simply breathes life into me.  Maybe it seemed more refreshing to me because of the unfamiliar words of The Message:

"God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction....
My cup brims with blessing."
Psalm 23:1-3, 5B
One nugget that will be hard to give just one example for is simply the story line and how lives and situations are woven in and out of each other to create a beautiful tapestry.  It may not seem beautiful as the situations are being lived out in the moment or may be difficult to see and understand, but then there comes a moment of clarity in which you realize how things have worked together 'for such a time as this'.  Those things are beautiful to me.  They remind me that even though I can rarely see what the great Artist is doing in my life's tapestry, there is something going on bigger than I can imagine and much more beautiful than I could ever dream. 
Another nugget woven throughout the book is that of friendship.  In the book there is the friendship of sister-in-laws and a band of brothers in Christ who meet together for a time period.  New friendships are born out of daily contact with vendors or situations and old friendships renewed.   That is a great reminder to me that we are not on this journey of life alone, but rather we walk it with others-- past, present, and future.  I have been super blessed to walk my life journey, my faith journey, with many who have encouraged me and supported me along the way.  I could not have done it.... I could not do it..... I would not be able to continue to do it..... without each and every one.  I am blessed!
Besides the term "grace on you", another term came from the book: "victims of grace".   Jenna, the main character writes: "Sue now has a term for what happened in Venice.  She says we were "victims of grace." I like that.  Both of us had been victims of a lot of other stuff over the long years.  How sweet of God to make us victims of grace when we were old enough to appreciate what the gift cost Him." (15)
Good stuff.  I am thankful to be a victim of grace.  It was tough to accept grace.  At times it still is.  It isn't easy to accept something free, undeserved, wonderful, something that will free you up and send you soaring.  Yet, that is what grace is and does.  Grace is transformational.
Though I've been to Italy on a mission trip, I have not been to Venice, Venezia.   Reading this book was fun to put me back into Italy and into a part of Italy I haven't had the chance yet to experience.  The nuggets here involved language and culture.  I'm not recommending the novel over a travel guide or a language guide, but if you're planning to go to Venice or if you've been, what I am saying is that you will likely relate to what you read.
In addition to the "grace on you" phrase, here is the opposite one: "shame off you".  They are different sides to the same coin, but maybe someone needs hear the "off" before they can hear the "on".  The "shame off you" phrase is introduced in the book on page 70.
Here are two paragraphs that spoke to me of God's working in God's time, place, and space: (Jenna is writing)
"What I sensed in the kitchen that morning was the Spirit of God refreshing my sister-in-law through everything around us.  We had been washed with the Word as Malachi read from the Psalms, then all the new experiences, tastes, encounters, and small challenges were displays of how God could care for Sue more than I ever could.  My job wasn't to diagnose her or counsel her or try to teach her anything.  We were students together.  Equals in every way.  Sue and I were fellow victims of grace.
     I felt as if I'd just been shown my place--a clarification of my role in our friendship in this new season of diving into the deep end and experiencing the refreshing that comes from such a plunge.  I had places deep inside me that I needed to examine and that needed healing, too, but Sue wasn't trying to fix those in me.  All I had to do was be here and receive the grace as it fell on me." (124)
Going deeper and deeper on the faith journey, growing in grace and healing, and willing to walk it with others.  That continues to be my path.  As I walk it with others, I attempt to listen to the Spirit's guidance along the way, to know what to say, to know when to be silent, to know when to simply "be".  I don't always get it right.  But, there is grace for those times.  Life is too short to not seek to live intentionally in love and grace and to grow through the pain that leads to healing.  That's what I've learned over the years.  And, more recently, I've seen a young life exhibit boldness of God's love exuding from him to everyone as he followed the example of Christ.  I will write more about this incredible person at another time.  To live and love boldly while allowing the space of grace for healing and growth.... this is part of my calling as a guide through the wilderness.
Telling our stories to one another often allows for healing as we see the workings of grace in one another's lives.  There were such stories in this book.  Again, I won't share the details, that's for you to read.  But I will share this quote with you because it speaks to us being present to one another in order to be able to share our stories.  Sam, the leader of the men's gathering says: "I'm beginning to think that 90 percent of what we should be doing as believers is just to show up." (197)  Sometimes we are hesitant to share our stories because of the shame we still carry and the fear of what others will think or say.  Yet, when we have accepted the grace for ourselves, it is easier to share and others can hear and see the grace in our stories.  Then, they can likely find it easier to share their stories if they haven't been able to yet.  It becomes a ripple effect of grace and freedom.  
Jenna writes: "I remembered every word those two men spoke over me on that balcony.  I'm sure I will remember every word for the rest of my life.  They blessed me and empowered me to "go," even though I still didn't know where I was supposed to go or exactly what I was supposed to do.
     The beautiful part was that I didn't need to know those specifics yet.  What I did know was that I was free.  I, at long last, had put on the grace God had given me.  It was real.  Very real.  And I had a feeling it looked even better on me than my swishy new skirt." (201-202)
Where do you need grace in your life?  How can you show grace to someone else?   Are you ready to put on the grace that God is ready to give you so that you can extend it to others?  You need not know your next steps, ever.  My friend Thomas Merton reminds me of that too. ☺ It's not about the "going" and "doing", but rather about the "being".  Yet, there comes a time to "go" and "do".  And, when that time comes, walk into the light of the next clear lit step that you can see. 
Who knew that one could glean so many nuggets from a Sisterchicks novel?!?!  Thank you Robin Jones Gunn for sharing your gift of writing and God's grace through these books.
Wherever you find yourself at this moment on the journey, I pray that you might know grace and that you will take some time to rest in the meadows, drink from the quiet pools, catch your breath, and then move onward, sent, in the right direction.
Blessings on your journey,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sisterchicks in Gondolas... grace on you

I think this is my third "Sisterchick" novel to read and my 2nd to reflect upon in a blog.  Since I borrowed this book from the same person who loaned me the others, there was no underlining or taking notes physically in the book.  I came close to grabbing the sticky notes and marking some pages though.  I was struck, once again, by the spiritual nuggets that grabbed me as I read this novel for "light" reading.

The biggest nugget I got out of the book is the phrase, "Grace on you".  Instead of "shame on you" in a myriad of circumstances and situations, there is instead the beautiful "grace on you".  I simply loved that phrase.  So much that I used it LOTS last week as I encountered people in different situations.  Now the truth is out, I got that phrase from a novel by Robin Jones Gunn. ☺  But I imagine Robin would quickly note that the concept of this grace and the phrase came from none other than the Creator, the Father who loves all creation and desires each of us to grow in grace.

Grace was a tough concept for me to accept for myself from God and others when I knew what I had done.  In several situations in my life, people were kind and compassionate and gracious enough to extend grace to me.  I carried enough shame on myself for all of us.  As I learned to live into grace, I learned the freedom that grace allows.  It is truly amazing. 

Grace is something John Wesley spends some time on.... prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace.  If you've been on an Emmaus Walk, read some of Wesley's sermons, been through Disciple's Path study (or a similar new member study in the Methodist Church), taken a seminary course, etc., you may be familiar with these terms.   If not, I imagine you are familiar with the song Amazing Grace.  There is also a hymn with the words "Grace, Grace, God's Grace" entitled Grace Greater Than All Our Sin.

The second song is the one that comes to mind this morning as I write.  It is the words in the chorus that come to mind-- "grace, grace, God's grace".  You can click on the video below to listen to it.  Lyrics are included in the video and below.

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God's grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.


Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Because I wasn't sure where this hymn might be found, I looked it up on hymnary.org.  The song, Grace Greater Than All Our Sin, is found in 103 hymnals.  Sometimes it is entitled Marvelous Grace. It was written by Julia Johnston in 1911.  Click on the highlighted link in the first sentence of this paragraph to learn more about the author and the song.

Building 429 has a song that uses that same chorus in it.  Their song, Grace That Is Greater, is on the "Iris to Iris" album that was released in 2007.



Search me O God
And know my every thought
Discern my every way
And speak into my soul
Point out to me my wrongs
Convict me until
I follow down the path
That leads me to your will

Because my heart
Sometimes can wander
And my faith
at times can stray
But I know
That when I fix my eyes on You
That I will always remain
Safe in the shadows of Your

Grace, grace
God’s grace
Grace that will pardon
And cleanse within
Grace, grace
God’s grace
Grace that is greater
Than all my sin

I praise You because
I am fearfully made
You formed my frame
In a secret place
All of my days
Ordained before I breathed
Written in Your book
Before I came to be
Because Your love
I stand and wonder
You know I come to Thee
And knowing that
When I fix my eyes on You
That I will always remain
Safe in the shadow of Your

Grace, grace
God’s grace
Grace that will pardon
And cleanse within
Grace, grace
God’s grace
Grace that is greater
Than all my sin

God’s grace
Grace that will pardon
And cleanse within
Grace, grace
God’s grace
Grace that is greater
Than all my sin

Grace that will pardon
And cleanse within
Grace, grace
God’s grace
Grace that is greater
Than all my sin

Grace that is greater
Than all my sin

Is greater than all my sin
Is greater than all my sin
Is greater than all my sin

Out of curiosity, I did a search on hymnary.org for hymns with the word "grace" in them.  There were 11,518 listed.  Check it out for yourself here.  You might find some new favorite hymns or be re-acquainted with some former ones.

Grace is abundant!  We read about it in the Scriptures (check out this link from Biblegateway.org of a listing of "grace" verses).  We sing about it.  We talk about.  The most difficult part is accepting it and allowing it to penetrate into our lives. Living into the grace is hard.  Why would this be harder than hearing about it, singing about it, or talking about it?  In my humble opinion, it means that we must let go.  We must give up control.  And, it means we must accept something that is given to us that is a gift, undeserved.  Most of us struggle with that in some form or fashion, at some time or another.  Yet, by letting go and giving up control and by accepting the grace offered to us, we will know freedom like never before.

Grace on you as you continue your journey,


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lessons from creation... the Creator speaks

I walk daily, well most every day.  My walking partner and I have spent lots of mornings over at the Greenway Farms to check out the trilliums, trout lilies (that I keep calling tiger lilies), tooth wart, phlox, etc.   Today I saw columbine.    It was nice to see the new life of the columbine in light of the trout lily blooms going away.

Nature, creation, is one of my go-to places and spaces when I need to fill up.  I am in awe of the Creator's handiwork and rarely can look up, down, or around without seeing something that points me to the Creator.  Not only am I pointed to the Creator, often there is a lesson in what I see, hear, or experience. 

Yesterday afternoon I saw the sun breaking through the clouds after all the rain we had received.  As I crested the hill and looked over to my left, I was struck by the sight of the light piercing the darkness.

On this morning's walk I could hear the trickle of water flowing long before I could see it.  When we got to it, the water running down the rocks was minimal, yet it was flowing.  And flowing onto the walking path and along the path for a ways.  That struck me. 

The sun has attempted to come out today, even though the clouds have fought to hide it.  I've been outside to capture the dogwoods "on film" in the front yard  because we have pink and white ones.  I have also captured a few tulips.  But what captured me most was the dandelion blowing in the breeze.  There it was, swaying in the breeze yet not losing its seeds. 

I posted the following pictures and thoughts on my Facebook page yesterday and today.  I share them with you today as a collection of lessons from creation.

Maybe something will touch you where you are in your journey and speak to you.... or maybe you know someone who needs the pictures or the words. 

There is darkness in our lives. There are heavy burdens. There is pain and sorrow. Even so, the Light will make a way through. It will shine in us, on us, and through us. Peace and grace on the journey.

A waterfall where there normally isn't one because of all the rain. For me this shows that beauty can come from extreme situations.

The breeze is blowing this tiny creation around, causing it to dance to and fro with the movement of the wind. Yet it remains intact. For now. It reminds me of the verses from 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NKJV)--"We are hard-pressed on every side,... yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed--always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." When the breeze does win and send the seed flying, life will be spread out to who knows where. Another life lesson from creation. Thanks be to the Creator.
Blessings on your journey,

Monday, April 7, 2014

Walking toward Palm Sunday... a word of encouragement for those in ministry (which means all)

This morning I knew I needed to make time to "fill up" before I did anything else in the day (after getting the kiddo off to school).

I wondered what would fill my tank today.  Yesterday was the 5th Sunday in Lent.  Next Sunday is Palm Sunday.  Last week was a beautiful, yet difficult week poured out for family and others.  This week will likely contain more pouring out as there are needs, even beyond what I can imagine.

I picked up A Guide to Prayer For Ministers and Other Servants and turned to this week's readings.

The title: "The Wounds and Sorrows of Ministry"


"Almighty God, you are the light and life of every soul and my only source of hope.  Grant that in this time of worship I may experience your transforming power preparing me for the ministry of this day.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen."

Psalm 56 is the Psalm for the week.  As I read it, there were several verses that stood out to me.  I don't know what will stand out to others as they read it. 

verse 1-- "Be gracious to me, O God"
verse 3--"when I am afraid, I put my trust in you."
verse 4--"In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I am not afraid;"
verse 8--"put my tears in your bottle"
verse 13--"For you have delivered my soul from death, and my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life."

Ministry (whether one is clergy or a lay person) can be demanding.  Simply because there is always something going on.  Then, add communication or miscommunication to the mix.  Or add in folks with varying ideas and agendas.  It can get wild.  I speak from observation and experience.

A reminder that we are ALL in ministry as we are all called to use our gifts to the glory of God and for the Kingdom.  We have different gifts, different callings, etc. But we are all priests, all ministers, all called into ministry into the lives around us.  Don't take my word for it, check out 1 Peter where it refers to the priesthood of all believers.  Do some searching on your own to verify that we are all called into ministry, to use the gifts God has given each of us for the Kingdom. (Maybe I'll write another post another day in more detail on this.)

And, because we are human, we all at one time or another are that person in Psalm 56:1 who tramples or oppresses someone else.  Therefore, verse 1 in Psalm 56 is a reminder, a prayer, not only for protection from others, but for ourselves, so that we won't do that to others.

I know I need filling up daily and even more frequently so that I can be the light and love of Christ to others and not my natural, nasty self.   I am grateful for silence and solitude and times of "being" that fill me up as well as times of reflection and study.  Listening to music that uplifts my heart, mind, and soul fills me often to overflowing. 

What fills you up so that you can minister effectively as you are called?

In the readings for this week, one in particular grabbed me this morning.  It is by Henri Nouwen from The Living Reminder.  It is found on pages 139-140 in the Guide.

"The minister, as a living memory of God's great deeds in history, is called to heal by reminding people of their wounded past and by connecting their wounds with the wounds of all humanity, redeemed by the suffering of God in Christ.  But what are the implications of such a viewpoint for the personal life of the minister?  The temptation is strong to ask the "how" question: How do I become a living memory of God; how do I accept and connect; how do I lift up the individual story into the divine history?"  These questions are temptations insofar as they avoid the more basic question: "Who am I as a living memory of God?"  The main question indeed is not a question of doing, but a question of being.  When we speak about the minister as a living reminder of God, we are not speaking about a technical specialty which can be mastered through the acquisition of specific tools, techniques, and skills, but about a way of being which embraces the totality of life: working and resting, eating and drinking, praying and playing, acting and waiting.  Before any professional skill, we need a spirituality, a way of living in the spirit by which all we are and all we do becomes a way of reminding.
     One way to express this is to say that in order to be a living reminder of the Lord, we must walk in his presence as Abraham did.  To walk in the presence of the Lord means to move forward in life in such a way that all our desires, thoughts, and actions are constantly guided by him.  When we walk in the Lord's presence, everything we see, hear, touch, or taste reminds us of him.  This is what is meant by a prayerful life.  It is not a life in which we say many prayers, but a life in which nothing, absolutely nothing, is done, said, or understood independently of him who is the origin and purpose of our existence."

Yes, I realize that is a very long reading.  But, I quoted it in its entirety because it was solid and meaningful in its entirety.  What speaks to you today?  What can you take with you into this day, into this week of life and ministry?  Remember, whether you are clergy or a lay person, you are a minister.

Here is the benediction from the Guide... as you continue your journey.....

"Go forth into this day with the strong name of Jesus Christ to sustain you.  Amen."