You are currently browsing the monthly archive for February 2022.

All week long, I’ve felt like I should post about the situation in Ukraine. But what do you say when you are waiting for something horrible to happen? What do you say when it begins? When the photos start flashing across social media?

Two weeks ago, I was in a webinar with scholars from all over the world. I’m not a participant. I sit and listen while academics in Belgium, Malaysia, and Ukraine speak. This time, everyone wanted to know how things were in Kyiv. “We are waiting,” he replied.

Now I am wondering. Is he even still alive? Is he?

I don’t know.

Worrying about a single person is such a small thing in the face of so much chaos and grief. But my chest aches with it. I tear up when I think on it. I feel broken.

That’s the term the Stated Clerk of Presbytery used in his prayer this week. “We lift our broken hearts in fervent prayer for peace in Ukraine.” He also reminded us that we can’t ignore the people of Russia. Not everyone there supports the invasion. To protest in Russia is a true act of bravery.

Even as I started writing this, I wasn’t sure what to say. What instruction could I give?

Only this.

It is okay to feel uncertain, lost or confused. It makes sense if you feel numb or overwhelmed. We are, after all, a broken people – human and full of flaws.

Try to spend a bit of time today in the presence of God. How you do this will be up to you. Me? I try to spend time outside in the sun and the wind. If the thermometer is to be believed, it is 26 degrees before I chose that path. I may have to wait until this afternoon. But I can pick up my prayer beads. I can light a candle. I can breathe deeply. And I can turn to Him and hope to carry some of his light back into this battered and broken world, and with my strength renewed put his light to work.


With the Lord a day is like a thousand years…

Yea, though, with a contractor, a day costs like, a thousand dollars.

Now, this may not actually be (said in Chandler Bing’s voice) in the Bible, but maybe it ought to be.

Birds gotta fly. Fish gotta swim. Let me add to that list: Sales reps gotta sell. The trick is finding a sales rep who won’t rook you. This was on my mind as I listened to the basement waterproofing sales rep give me his spiel.

“So, with all the issues this basement has, we’re looking at…” (pretends to do quick calculations on his notepad). “Ten thousand, five hundred. Are you onboard?”

I want to say: Oh sure! I’ll pencil you in for next Tuesday, cuz I’m having tea with the Queen on Monday. Then I’ve got to buy the Brooklyn Bridge, mm hmm, let’s see… (pretends to check calendar on phone) and then I’m scheduled to buy a used turnip truck, and will proceed to fall off the back of it.

But what I say is this: “Thanks for your time.” And I usher him to the door. I wasn’t born yesterday. Or the day before, sonny! I know I shouldn’t get mad at people who try to sell me a bill of goods, but this is ridiculous.

In the actual Bible, in Ecclesiastes, it says:

“There is a time for everything,

    and a season for every activity under the heavens:”

It even covers home improvements!

 “…a time to tear down and a time to build…”

So what this saga tells me is that it isn’t the time to get those renovations done. It’s better to put buckets under leaks than to pay a shady outfit to do a half-hearted (or half-lower-extremity’d) job. Time to get back to my blessings and put the problem in God’s hands.

Rainbow on a plain. God’s promises didn’t just come to us from mountains.

Before Pastor Sean delivers the sermon, he reads a scripture. I hadn’t looked ahead to the sermon title but listened while he read Luke 6:17-26. If it doesn’t leap to mind, it will still sound familiar to many of you. It tells of Christ coming down to stand on a level place among the people. He looked up at the disciples and preached a sermon that I know you’ve heard. It begins: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” Many of us recognize the Beatitudes even if we don’t remember where to find them in the Bible.

After reading the passage, Pastor Sean explained to us that this well-known passage is the Sermon on the Plain. Hmm. Wait. The plain? I know I wasn’t the only one thinking this because one of my fellow choir members spoke up. “You mean the Mount.”

Then he explained the differences between the Sermon on the Plain and the Sermon on the Mount. I wondered how I had missed the fact that there are two very similar sermons. After all, I had just finished a challenge during which you read the Gospels in 40 days. I had recently read both sermons. I simply assumed that Luke was repeating what Matthew had written. Nope. I may have a good ear for detail, but I had missed it.

Fortunately, God knows that try as we might sometimes we don’t hear what is being said. That was often the case when Christ told the people parables. That’s okay. He is clearly ready to repeat himself if that’s what it takes. Fortunately, we have his instructions in print and we can read them as often as it takes.

After all, if we don’t hear what he has to say, how can we carry it out? How can we all approach him from the same level playing field – a plain of His making? Because our money and our educations may give us an edge in the world in which we live. But in the world that God would have us create, not so very much.

And fortunately, he’s willing to tell us again if that’s what it takes to get the message across. That’s the wonder of being children of God’s grace and love.


I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t. All I know is that the term “self-care” used to grate on my nerves. It may be because it is trendy. With me, that’s enough. Unicorns? Yuck. Mermaids? Shudder. Don’t even get me started on . . . never mind.

But lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care. It feels essential.

One friend recently told me about her teen daughter having to take carry out orders over the phone for work. When she didn’t immediately know which of several sandwiches with peppers one customer wanted, he explained to her just how stupid she had to be. A friend is helping her father post-surgery. She gets told off regularly by her brother because she isn’t doing it right.

And it isn’t just that these women need self-care. They do, but it goes beyond that.

Two people slowly freezing.
Self-care for me means taking at least a short hike even when the weather is cold.

I’m sure that some of the crabby people in these stories may be genuinely nice people. They love their dogs. They hold doors open for their neighbors when said neighbors have their hands full of shopping bags. They give to charity. They care.

But so many of us are stretched to the limit. It doesn’t matter if we are working in healthcare or education. We all have a vast number of worries. We have concerns. And some of us are getting really mean with those around us.

One thing that can help prevent this is self-care. Just what self-care means to you is going to depend on you. My husband and I are attempting to take 52 hikes in a year. We live in Missouri which means that, at best, we’re hiking in cold. At worst, we are hiking in snow. But every time we manage even a short hike, we are seeing something of God’s creation. We talk and we laugh and we decompress.

What about you? Maybe hiking isn’t your thing. Honestly, these are pretty gentle hikes. Serious hikers would say we are just going on casual walks. Pfft. Whatever. The point is that they work for us. Maybe you have a physically demanding job. Your perfect down time involves a hot cup of tea and your favorite music. Or you might love to draw but haven’t taken the time lately to get out your paper and pencils.

You just need to figure out what works for you. You see, you’re a part of God’s creation. And more than that, you are one of a kind. When you engage in self-care, you are caring for God’s unique creation.

When we hike, we experience the vastness of creation. Each step is a prayer of sorts, taking us away from our worries and toward the loving presence of God. How will your self-care be a form of prayer? Why not take a few minutes this week and discover the answer?



Have a Mary Little Christmas

%d bloggers like this: