Showing posts from November, 2017

Introduction take one

I invite you to click on the above video...listen...sing along...and enjoy!!

The child-like nostalgia means that Christmas isn't Christmas until I hear the Charlie Brown crowd sing, "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing."  Actually, I need the whole glorious cartoon.  Yes, I know it is a bit cheesy, graphics are old school, but when Linus wraps his blanket around his head and recites the Christmas story...if there isn't a tear or a small lump in your throat, I think you need to check your pulse.

For me, Christmas Carols teach and tell us much about this mystery of the season.  They preach the power and possibility.  They invite us into the holiness and awaken the holiness within us.

But Christmas Carols can also just become background music.  We don't often let these words sit, simmer, and sing to us.  So, here is my invitation to you: let's listen with new ears and open hearts.  Over the coming days we are going to circle around Christmas Carols.  Each day in Adven…


Twas two days before Thanksgiving and all through our house
Everything was in turmoil and everyone groused.

With company coming and a big meal to make,
There wasn't enough time or space in the oven to bake!

The tension we felt was more than just about the food,
We knew that this wasn't the appropriate Thanksgiving mood.

We knew in a few days at the table full of steaming platters we'd meet,
And we would all have to utter or mumble a gratitude before we could eat.

The last few days would still simmer and sit,
Was a few sentences of thanks all we would get?

Wasn't this day about so much more than a meal?
Isn't this moment supposed to linger/last part of the deal?

The unanswered questions hung in the air,
Because it wasn't like we didn't care!

We did...we restlessly hungered for a different life...we wanted something more...
But with a turkey to cook, stuffing to make, and people about to knock at the door...

Why does the to do list take precedent and cause s…

Sunday prayer

The cornucopia spilled out with gourds galore...
Pumpkins peaking out from the woven wood....
Squash and apples and sweet potatoes all hanging out in harvest party.

What an eclectic gathering.
What an image of the church.
A place where we come in various shapes and sizes.
Colors and reflections of the Creator.

What a vision for the church too
For the abundance cannot be contained with the woven walls
But spills out in a joyful way,
Scatters about in beautiful random-ness
A holy chaos of creation.

Our lives are a cornucopia we cannot contain.
God's love spills out from us even when we try to control that grace.
God's presence overflows from our souls even if we try to strain to clasp hold.

What would be in your cornucopia if you colored it today?
Would it have family and friends...would it have playful moments that bring you joy?
Does your cornucopia perhaps right now feel a bit lacking and lackluster?
Maybe some kind of pain has stolen the joy
Or someone's words left you …


I tend to write these posts early...then through the magic of the able to schedule these words to appear when I tell them too. 

So, on the day this post is released I will be driving back after a three day retreat in South Carolina... a new state to me.  The retreat is about facing the changes of life with integrity and authenticity.  I love those two words.  Integrity means a state of being whole.  Authenticity reminds me that while I can't completely control everything, I can control the way I respond.  There is an authorship to my life even if the plot line is shaped by forces outside my own.  Because what people say and do impacts the plot line of my life.  Because events and experiences impact the plot line of my life.  Because when the phone rings...or I have to make a difficult decision...or something doesn't quite follow the map I had in mind...all that and a million tiny moments all make a difference in the plot line of my life.

Trying to live with a wh…


When I came up with the name for this blog, Grace Traces, underneath that were two formational and foundational ideas within me.  First, I do believe the world is infused and immersed with God. We swim in a sea of the sacred.  This, by the way, is also the first truth we celebrate every year at Christmas ~ God with us and us with God.  God for us and us open to God.  It is a two way street we travel in our lives.  But in the blurriness and busyness we miss the traces of the transformative power of God moving in our midst.  How many of us wake up in the morning already feeling like we are behind or running late?  How many of us on vacation still check our emails?  How many of us spend our children's band/choir concerts staring at the event through a screen rather than simply experiencing that precious, fragile, fleeting moment?   That hand you see in the air is mine. 

That leads me to the second formational and foundational idea...I believe that church should help us practice noti…


My mind whirled...
Thoughts whisked in and out...
All the tasks and to do lists clamored chaotically,
All crying out in unison, "Pick me, first."

Out of the corner of my eye,
I saw the butterfly land on the leaf.
It flapped its wings fully revealing the beautiful orange.
The delicate design of the Creator's imagination.

Stunned for a few seconds,
Marveled that I might have missed that moment.
I fumbled for my phone to snap the above photo.
And the butterfly, who like me, not known for it's patience
seemed to pause.

As I captured the moment...
Or maybe the moment captured me...
there was the swell, swirling feeling of unmistakable gratitude.
A trace of God's grace in a world that is a blur of busyness and to-do-ness

One photo...hardly going to win me a blue ribbon at the state fair.
One photo...that could have just stayed stuck on my phone never shared.
One photo...that suddenly seems like so much more the more I gaze at it.

For this is in the invitation...
If th…

A Good Day Take Three

A good day is one with a hug...
One where a smile sits on my lips...
But not in a way that denies the dangers lurking, lingering around me and the world.

A good day is one where I can cry with someone who needs to cry.
Good and happiness need not always be interchangeable or even compatible.

A good day starts with a cup of coffee, steam slowly rising reminding me of a savory pace.

A good day starts with a walk truly seeing the different shades of green in the palm leaves.

A good day continues with my family.  Doesn't matter where or what...just being together.

A good day means a good lunch.  Maybe a peanut butter sandwich that sticks to the roof of my mouth and takes me back to my youth.

A good day means something fun in the afternoon.  But then as my inner two year old cries out for a nap...I listen!!  I slow down to stop doing and simply be.

Maybe I will even write a silly post for this blog that maybe somehow in someway gets your mind, heart, and soul stirring!!

A good day mea…

A Good Day Take Two

What is a good day?  That is one of the questions that can haunt me a bit.  The stakes seem high.  When there are so many pushes and pulls in our many things we would rather not do.  Plus, this feels like some pressure.  So often I can let the demands of others fill my hours rather than my own voice.  But we need a good day we distinguish and define.  And actually, God said this from the beginning when the seventh day was given as one called, "Good".  We need to lean into and live out this invitation of "Good". 

Good, as I said previously, doesn't have to mean awesome or amazing or best ever.  We live in an over hyped world.  If you don't believe me, turn on the television to some sports event and listen to how the person over came great adversity and now sits before you smiling, like life is grand.  The story we hear all around us is success and achieve and don't settle for just "good" enough.  So, let's name and notice our di…

A Good Day

I recently heard an interview with Atul Gawande. You can click here to listen to the interview from On Being.  There were several moments that I was drawn into what Dr. Gawande was saying.  First was his reflection on the integration of mind, body, and spirit.  We are not as able to compartmentalize our thoughts or emotions or spiritual life as we like to think we are.  The fact is that an emotion can be physically felt.  So when we grieve, we can feel exhausted in our bodies.  The reverse is true can give us energy.  What is going on in our head does impact the rest of us.  Pause for a moment to ponder what is going on in your head...your body...your soul. 

At a recent retreat I led, I asked people to draw a stick figure with a crayon; then write down how it was with their head, heart, and soul.  If you had to color your head right now would it be a bright, brilliant yellow or maybe a muted gray?  If you had to color how you feel physically, would you go with a purple or b…

Friday prayer

God of days growing darker, earlier...
God of dusk to dawn...
God who promises to never slumber or sleep...
We come to You after a full week.

So many moments still linger in our lives.
Times when laughter ached at our sides.
Times when we felt Your presence.
Times when we felt the hope-filled possibility of peace.

And times when frustration fumed...
Times when the words of another hurt and harmed and we still can stop them from being on repeat, replaying our minds...
Time we want a rewind button to do life over again.

And now this time.
This moment.
This day You have made afresh and anew.
This breath with it's promise that today need not be like yesterday.
We are a new creation...this is the re-creation for You are not finished with us yet.

So move in our midst this day with a tender tenacity and truth.
Move in our midst this day with courage.
Move in our eyes to see Your presence.
Move in our hearts to stay open rather than harden with bitterness.
Move in our soul with a spirit …

For All the Saints

This coming Sunday at the church I serve, we will name those who have passed from this life into the next this last year.  We will light a candle symbolizing the way each person let his/her light shine and warm our lives.  We will speak the name of the person and feel the fingerprints she/he left on our hearts.  Our church will be ablaze, memory, love, and certainly God's presence.  The writer of Hebrews says, "Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses."  We don't always see through the mist of our mundane lives the sacred infusion of the saints.  We don't always pay attention to the traces of God's grace in our daily lives.  We end up compartmentalizing spirituality from "the rest of our lives".  But the purpose of the church is to remind us and teach us that there is no separation between Sunday and Monday mornings.  There is no such thing as your spiritual life and daily life.  The two are intertwined and tangled.  The church…