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As our congregation, we are looking at some big expenses.  The biggest?  A new roof.

I’m not even sure how many thousands of dollars that is going to be but it won’t come cheap.  And the problem really isn’t the total. It’s the fact that so many people have been hooked by that number.  Have a fund-raising suggestion that is less than the total?  Sad, sad shakes of the head.  It just won’t be enough.

Well, duh.

Okay, it’s not the most polite response ever but if you want to get a ruling elder’s attention well duh is the way to go.

Obviously $500 or even $2000 is less than tens of thousands.  I may not be a math major but I get it.  They are less.  It is more.

But Christ has a habit of working with the very least.  A mustard seed.  A few loaves.  A handful of fishes.  Christ can make it work.

And when we are working for him, in his name, we can do it too.  If I do a small part and you do a small part and someone over there also does a small part, we’ve accomplished something.

I’m not saying that a new roof is a matter of faith and faith alone.  It will also take a group of us each doing our one small part.  Together we’ll pay for a roof, fill the food pantry and gather supplies for local children who don’t have even a quarter for a cheap folder.  Because there is something each of us can do.



When my son was tiny, as in about four, he managed to get out of my reach and go wading into a river.  We almost lost him when the current grabbed him but another parent reached out and snagged him.

I was afraid of water before that happened.  Then my father-in-law moved to a lake.  The boy had to learn to swim.  He also played soccer and rode horses but I’m not afraid of horses or soccer balls.  Naturally he gravitated to water.

He and his friends raft.  They swim.  They canoe.

Then one of his friend’s tried to push me in.  Poor, misguided boy.  He might be a state heavy weight wrestler but things did not go as planned.  And that’s when everyone found out that I’m like trying to throw a cat in a lake.

What does this have to do with courage?  On my part, not much.  But I wanted me son to live a life with broader horizons.  I was sure he’d have issues but I thought I’d let him develop them on his own.

I’d say that God and I talked a lot when my son was in the lowest levels of swimming lessons but in all truth I didn’t do much listening.  I fussed.  I complained.  And I leaned.

The courage wasn’t mine but that’s okay.  I knew where to find what I needed.



Since I’m writing a week of New Year reflections, I feel like I should make a confession.  I’m not big on resolutions. They just seem trendy and too easy to let slide.

My birthday is toward the end of the month.  By the time it comes around, I tend to have a better idea what I want to address.  I’m ready to decide what to leave behind as my annual gift to me. Not that these annual gifts are always super popular.

One year, I quit agreeing to do things I didn’t want to do.  Not everything but the things that someone else could do but “you just do it so much better.” Um, no.  I don’t actually accept that as an explanation anymore.

The next, I quit apologizing for not doing things I didn’t want to do. “I can’t make it” became a perfectly acceptable, to me, answer.  It might mean I was busy.  It might also mean I just don’t want to put on shoes and leave the house.  But it also meant that I have to accept the same responses from my introvert friends.

What are you bringing into the New Year that you might put aside?  Perhaps you need to shrug off the childhood admonition that you have no artistic talent and take that painting class you’ve been wanting to try.  Or you could pick up a set of calligraphy pens and go through some online tutorials.

God gives us opportunities.  To take them up, we may need to put something else down.


When editors give new writers advice, one of the things they say most often is “don’t write to the trends but instead write what you are passionate for.”  The thinking is this, writing a book is hard work.  If you have any hope of finishing it, you have to be passionate.  Ho hum?  Only doing it because you think you will make money?  Then you probably won’t succeed.

Yesterday, our pastor lectured on finding your passion in the church.  Some people have a passion for feeding others.  Others are passionate to teach.  Still others garden, growing the food we all need.  He challenged each of us to think about how to use our passions to serve.  (I’ll paste the sermon in below.  It was really good.)

This makes sense to me.  The harder something is to do, the more passionate you have to be to pull it off.  We have one member who is a nutritionist.  Would she be the person to put on the committee to source new seating for the choir?  Maybe.  But a group of us have been talking about cooking classes. This would be a better use of her talents.

Someone else was supposed to redo the church Facebook page.  It is part of her job.  For two years it didn’t get done.  My son and I did it in 3 days.  What can I say?  We’re into social media.  He helped me over a few hurdles and I was able to get it done.

Carpentry.  Music.  Teaching.  Think about your passions as you head into the New Year.  How can you use them to improve 2019?


Trying to do social media on my phone is a bit of a nightmare so I have to admit that when we leave town I leave it all behind. Facebook?  Twitter?  Yeah, my phone isn’t cooperating.

So I was a little surprised when I got home and everyone was griping about Nike.  Burning their gear.  Cutting off the swoosh logo.

As a hardcore introvert, people often baffle me and I assumed that that was the issue.  People are just kind of odd, you know?

It probably took me two days to connect Collin Kaepernick to the whole thing.  Seriously, when I’m clueless, I don’t mess around.

Now that I’ve caught on, I almost feel compelled to go out and buy a pair of shoes.  What’s stopping me?  I hate shopping.  And I don’t need a pair of shoes.  And I’ve never worn Nike, but that may change.

Because I really respect Kaepernick.  I respect him for having the nerve to risk a multi-million dollar contract over a stance.  I respect him for the stance he chose – I’m kind of nutty about freedom.  And I respect him for sticking with it even when things heated up.

But Kaepernick took a knee for people who aren’t heard and seen as they should be because he knew he could be heard. He stood up for the least of these.

As much as I hate shopping, I may have to make a stop.



Social media is a funny thing.  It gives us the illusion that we have the right to weigh-in on other people’s lives which might be okay if we limited ourselves to the action they wrote up in a post.

My friend Anne was pregnant with her second child when she lost her first to cancer.  Their family has a sweet little ritual they do whenever they visit someplace new.  It is their way of still including their lost child in their lives.  Note, he’s been gone less than 18 months.

She tweeted about this and got a scathing comment about what an awful parent she is because she never posts about her living child. Clearly he gets none of her attention.

Really?  Is it clear?  So far today, I have posted about the class I am teaching, a photo of a baby rhino and the above quote.  I have also eaten breakfast, gotten dressed, made my bed, taken the boy to school, gone to get the boy, and picked up in the kitchen. If someone was to post that my family is suffering because I focus on baby animals?  They would be wrong.

Why is it when we see something we don’t like, we think whatever has offended us is all there is to this person?  I’m not innocent here.  People post things that annoy me, but I don’t comment.  I try not to judge and even when I fail and do it, I do not let myself post.

Sure, God knows I had the uncharitable thought but I don’t have to toss it out there for all of the rest of you to see.


About a month ago, I had to spend a couple of days with one of those people.  Patient though I try to be, she will eventually set me free. This time it revolved around a recognition plaque given to my dad.  “Help me hang it and we can take a photo for him.”  Dad couldn’t go so she was given the plaque for him.  The part that really stung?  We would have been there if she had told us but this ‘help me hang it’ was the first I had heard of it.

As soon as we left, I started griping.  How self-centered can a single human being be?

Finally my husband spoke up.  “I don’t think she did this to spite you.  I think you were right.  She’s just that self-centered.  She never thought of us at all.  So why are we spending so much time focused on her?”

What?  Whoa.

But he was right.  I can’t make other people be thoughtful or kind.  And while I can’t change anyone’s behavior, no matter how lovely that would be, I have some control over who occupies my thoughts.  It isn’t like I can keep them out completely, but I can take a deep breath and, as I exhale, let them drift away.

As Christians, we don’t often discuss mindfulness.  But if I focus on someone who is unfair and selfish, it makes me angry.  If instead I focus on someone inspirational that God has put in my path?  I am more inclined to look for ways to be kind and loving to others.  If I want to share God’s love with others, I can’t give too much head space to certain people.


A number of my friends are librarians and one of them recently told a story on herself.  No surprise, dealing with difficult library patrons is annoying.  She can’t just give them to another librarian.  She can’t find something to do in the back.  And she has to keep them from impacting how she deals with the next person.

While they are griping, she takes a deep breath and says to herself, “This is a child of God.  Remember that – child of God.”  It may not change how this person behaves, but it does change how she views them.  She says that she has actually felt the tension draining from her shoulders.

So many of us seem to embrace the aggravation and the anger that people bring into our lives.  We post about it online.  We retell the story again and again.  How different might our outlook, and our days, become if instead we said this small, high-impact prayer?

“This is a child of God.  Remember that – child of God.”


This past week, my family and I took a trip to Gatlinburg, TN.  I jokingly referred to the trip as the Edwards Extravaganza because all four siblings ,their kids and the grandparents were along.  Needless to say, we didn’t do everything together.  Something about trying to coordinate sixteen people.  We met up for dinner and games each evening but spent the days out and about.

My husband, son and I trekked over the mountain to Cherokee, NC.  As treks go, it was tame since we were in our Jeep as we drove through the pass and onto the reservation.  It was more than a touch surreal.  Shop signs were in English but street signs?  Cherokee first, English second.

Near the TN/NC border.

Our destination was the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.  Before I made my way through the exhibits, I thought I knew something about Cherokee history.  The truth of the matter was that I knew the history we learn in Missouri – the Oklahoma history.  In this museum, I learned about the prehistory, the move to live more like whites, the debate about moving to Oklahoma, Andrew Jackson, the Trail of Tears, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

The removal of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears split a people in half.  In spite of this, the museum was marvelously even-handed.  Facts about the Cherokee and the other Civilized Tribes were simply presented.  No one was vilified – not Jackson, not the Cherokee who favored the move. The story of the Cherokee people was told in all it’s complexity.

Yet when I tell people here in Missouri where I went and all I learned, people are more than willing to assign blame. I have to understand why Jackson did what he did; he was from North Carolina.  That one really confuses me since the Cherokee were also from North Carolina. Those Cherokee need to get off the reservation so their children can have a good life. If the Cherokee would work to be more like the mainstream culture, things would be better for them. The Cherokee and other civilized tribes farmed and lived like the dominant culture but were still forced onto the Trail of Tears.  A veneer of white-ness didn’t save them or their homes.

What does it mean to be an American?  It is to be part of a society with a complex history. Do you walk among others as a brother or sister? Or do you expect the fish to fly and the birds to swim?  This museum was definitely something I needed to see and I thank God for putting me on this path.



People are a strange.  It seems like one moment they are ignoring ugly realities and the next they are dwelling on the negative.

But when we face fact, hope can make a huge difference.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading the past few weeks about various animal species and the environment.  I can already hear your groaning but stop.  Seriously.  Knock it off.  Because there are stories of hope.

At one point the Bald Eagle was endangered but when we faced the damage that DDT was doing and banned it that was the beginning.  Eagles have made a comeback and I occasionally see one soaring over our church.

The American alligator is another success story.  This one was endangered because of habitat destruction and hunting.  People conserved habitat and hunting was banned.  Alligators are no longer endangered.

Reality and hope.  Working to make a better world.  God gave us inquiring minds as well as drive.  We just need to apply them.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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