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Showing posts from May, 2017

Slow, savory pace

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There are countless cliches that we throw and toss around our causal conversations, but if you stopped and put them side-by-side you might see our conventional wisdom often contradicts itself.

For example, we say, "Many hands make light the work but we also say "Too many cooks spoiled the soup."

When do we ask for help and when do we make do?

At other times we throw out there, "Two is company and three is a crowd only at another moment to say "Hey the more the merrier!"

Which if we are talking about mimes, I am prone to think the first one.

Or perhaps it is that great adage, "Seek and ye shall find" but we also counter, "Be careful because curiosity killed the cat."

Perhaps as humans we are not as wise as we think we are sometimes.  Trying to sort out the next right step amid all the advice swirling and stirring around out in the world, especially today, is a task that will require more than a keen intellect.  We cannot think our wa…

Beyond Games prayer

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Boundless God...

We are so good at trying to figure our the rules to life.
We want to be safe and secure from all alarms.
We long to be part of the inside group.

Your prodigal/extravagant/amazing/abundant grace scares us.
We'd rather define and confine the party to people like us.
We'd rather baptize our own believes, that let go to trust in Your unconditional love.

Challenge us beyond commercialism.
Transform us from transactional understanding.
Keep nudging us with a nourishing sense that there is more than we can possibly understand.

Each day is a mystery of meaning.
And we barely see the beauty of a clean plate or really taste the sweetness of a grape.

Each day is full of Your grace.
And we get caught up in defining and confining where we'd be okay for Your grace to go.

Boundless God...
We pray that Your unconditionalness would define not only Your love, but Your patience.

We can be a bit stubborn about this.
We can want to pontificate and preach, rather than be and b…

Beyond Games Part Two

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Last post we dove into the since that everything and everyone belongs.  I ask for you to play and pray and live with it.  Question it.

Everything...really?

What about that annoying co-work/neighbor/family member/friend who you would prefer drive their plastic flimsy car off a cliff?  Whoops...did I say that out loud?

We have turned life into a game...not only financially, but also with God.  God, some churches proclaim, seems to only love you when you are singing that you, "Just want to praise him."  Such a God seems a bit narcissistic for me.  Or God wants me to go out and fight for what right.  Why wasn't I at that protest?  Or maybe, how could I not believe that God is unchanging, unfailing, and silent as night?

Richard Rohr challenges us to let go of a transactional God...one that is only interested in our good deeds or right belief.  The prodigal (which means extravagant, excessive, over-the-top) grace and love of God finds us where we are.

The Prodigal God will e…

Beyond Games

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The pale blue plastic peg sat silently in the ruby red car that had all the structural integrity of our family’s Ford Pinto.  We were about to begin to play the Game of Life.  It was always curious to me that the starting line didn’t include spaces and scenes from Elementary School such as,

“Someone makes chocolate milk squirt out your nose at lunch, go see the school nurse and miss a turn.”

Or how about a place on the board from Middle School,

“Giant pimple appears on picture day, spin a five or high to convince your parents you have the bird flu to stay home.”

Or from High School,

“Congratulations you have your first job, realize that someone named FICA is suddenly very interested in you, give 7.65 percent of your income.”

Good times.

None those experiences and events of early life are on the board.  Instead the game fast forwards and you face a forced choice of needing to decide should you take the long road of college or shorter path of work?

Your blue or pink plasti…

Music for the Soul Part 3

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It has been a blessing sharing a few of the songs that get on repeat both on my ipod and in my brain.  I really do believe that sharing music that has meaning is a great way to connect.  I also believe that hearing your experience with these piece is an incredible blessing.  The point, for me, is less, did I like it?  But more to listen deeply.  Our musical tastes are as different and distinctive as each of us are as individuals.  We are blessed to live in a time where it is so easy to share some of this music with you.  I grew up in the era of mix tapes and trying to catch/record a song off the radio.  I would sit for hours listening to, "Hot FM...the heartbeat of the heartland, WXYZ of Des Moines."  There was the thrill of actually recording the song...the agony when the tape stopped before the song did.  Sharing a mixed tape with another person, especially someone you had a crush on, was clearly a labor of love.  Trying to find just that right mix of songs to convey your…

Music for the Soul Part 2

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Hopefully over the last few days the melody and words of the first piece of music I share have been stirring your soul.  I love the line, "We bend, we may break, but we keep it together."  I find myself singing that over and over throughout my day.  And when the hope seems to flicker and fade within my life, I need something a bit more basic.  I need to remember to breathe.  Just like music works on many different levels, so does breathing.  When we are afraid or anxious, physiologically our breathing become more shallow.  To take deep, belly filling breaths is one way both to calm down and a basic reminder that in the beginning, when God fashioned and formed us with fingerprints of love, God breathed the divine breath into us.  So may you breathe today as you listen to this music.  And may you sense more than a trace of God's grace for you.

Grace and peace ~~

Music for the Soul Part 1

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Music moves us in many different ways.  We hear words that engage our intellect, as we seek and strive for understanding.  What is this combination of words seeking to convey, we ponder just beneath the surface?  As the words swirl and swim together, we seek meaning and whether this series of words might speak specifically to our lives.  But, beyond the words, there is a pulse, rhythm, or what is called the math of music.  What is the meter of the music...fast or slow?  Is it a series of short staccato notes or long ones that draw you in?  Of course, the ways the words and beat come together makes a difference.  And the mood we are in.  When I am feeling down, I really don't want to hear an 80s hair band...unless I do.  You see, music won't be confined or contained.  It moves, because there is a soul to music that speaks to our heads, hearts and core of being.  Over the next few posts, I want to share some music with you that is making a difference.  The first is by a band ca…

Friday Prayer

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The mood in the house on Friday night is one of celebration.
The week has come to a close.
School will not come knocking for several days.
Work is complete, the computer is closed.
The air is thick with pizza and the promise of ice cream awaits us as stars shine down.
A movie is waiting patiently for us.

These times seem so simple, but profound.
I wonder if looking back which of these Friday nights will really linger and last?
Which ones will be so deeply written that they will form the backbone of a story?
And which ones will be forgotten.
Forgotten not because they didn't matter.
In the moment, life was fully.
But forgotten because our memories seem to be able to hold only so much.

My prayer is this Friday
Laughter will come easy and honesty.
Connections will be found after a busy week.
A communion moment because God loves even frozen pizza.
A holy moment of being present to each other incarnationally.

A simple prayer from my heart to your home.
Along with wishes that the trace…

Grace at a Band Concert

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The plastic chair push on my back and bottom with such force, you'd swear it was angry I was there.  The lingering smell of lunch still can be found in the cafe-torium where my son is set to play.  The lights dim and the sound of music washes over me.  The melody is beautiful.  To be sure, there are a few wrong notes, but couldn't the same be said of our weekly lives?  Mostly, we are trying to the best of our ability to join in the song of our still singing God.  Mostly, we are trying to stay in rhythm and in tune.  But every day I miss notes and find myself in the wrong measure.

Most of the band is glued to the music so the director's motions seem to go mainly unnoticed.  Perhaps the same can be said of my awareness of God.  Trying to urge and help me, I stare intently at a screen or the musical composition of my to-do-lists.

Yet, our lives are not solos but symphonies.  I sense the sacred the most when I am aware that others are playing alongside me, offering their un…

Grace in a Coffee Shop

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Waiting in line for my morning coffee, the buzz of the small space alive with activity and fueled by caffeine.  There is a hum that comes from people clicking keys of lap tops, pouring over spreadsheets with a colleague, from workers behind the counter busily racing around filling paper cups and tiny bags crammed with bakery items.  There is a hum that smells like roast coffee beans and sweet sugary treats.  There is a hum that I feel vibrating as I lean up against the rail that helps keep the queue of people in order.

I look around at my fellow passengers waiting to fuel our lives.

Many stare down at the screens of phones lost worlds away and perhaps unaware of the world around them.  A few talk to the friend they had scheduled to meet there.  A couple in line studies the menu intently weighing the endless options of flavors and wondering why some words are written in Italian?  I keep glancing around, taking in the people who I will probably never see again. These are God's pe…

Friday prayer

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Just another Friday...
The to-do list for the weekend sits silently on my phone compiled in fits and starts as I noticed things around the house, but didn't have time to fix them right then and there.

Just another Friday...
Sure, there will be moments of rest and renew...relaxing and rejuvenating intermixed with the other items.

But what if Friday...this day right here...
Would open us to joy of the ordinary?
The video you watch that makes you laugh;
The lunch planned with a friend;
A clean floor that shines when the sun bounces off.
What if we didn't wait until Friday...
We don't need to postpone our joy.
We don't need to schedule our life around the beat the world tells us to dance;
We don't need to only "Thank God" for Friday...
Because I thank God for Mondays...when I dig in to a new week or read a story to our Preschool children.
I thank God for Tuesdays...when I gather with colleagues at staff meetings.
I thank God for Wednesdays...even when they a…

Easter joy on an Ordinary Wednesday

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'Joy is what we find on a hundred forgettable Wednesdays' ~ Tim Urban
When thinking about joy it is easy to gravitate toward the big moments in life, like our family's summer vacation.  Or to think about holidays...birthdays...anniversaries...the important moments when your iphone is posed in your hand ready to snap hundred pictures.  We twist and tie joy into what the world teaches us is "supposed" to lean toward that emotion.  There are two struggles we often face in following this rabbit down that hole.  First, the holidays ain't always what the Norman Rockwell painting promised them to be.  Family tensions (especially in an era of such divisive politics) hover and hang in the air.  Or we end up building up the moment so big that the slightest thing that goes awry...ruins everything.  I can't even remember how many burnt sweet potato casseroles threatened to bring down Thanksgiving.  Second, if we delay and defer our enjoyment until its appointed appr…

Easter as Encounter

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Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  Luke 24:15-16

Jesus came near...there was an encounter with the risen Christ.  In what ways can we encounter Jesus?  Easter, these fifty days, as us to be open to the ways Jesus is moving in our midst.  Often times encounters make us think of two people.  There is an incarnational (in the flesh) meaning to encounter.  Yet, we can also encounter nature, animals, and even ourselves.

Maybe this season of Easter you need to do some internal work.  Process pain.  Let go of a good grudge.  Explore joy.  Experience laughter and grace.  Be open.  Breathe.

Maybe this season of Easter you long to reach out to someone whose words hurt/harmed.  Or maybe to rekindle a relationship.  Or maybe find a new connection to someone.

Maybe this season of Easter the encounter is with God.  Every Sunday in worship we describe that holy moment as a sacred encounter.  It comes in many forms and fashions for the People o…