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Working at the pool in the summer can be a little crazy.  The outdoor pool is awash in kids off school for the summer and mom’s looking to get them in the outdoors.  The indoor pools host classes and camp kids.

My son is a lifeguard at two indoor pools.  Recently, a new group of campers asked him about the rules.  “Walk, don’t run.  And don’t argue with me if I tell you to stop something.”

Most of the kids were satisfied with this but one little worrier needed a bit more.  “What will you tell us to stop?”

“My job is to keep you safe.  Okay?”

“Yes, but. . .”

“And don’t be a butt to anyone else.  Okay?”

Even the worrier was satisfied with this. Walk, don’t run.  Stay safe. Don’t be a butt.

With the addition of rule #3, he could cut loose and have fun.  But fun that involved being mean to other people was not allowed.  That seems like a pretty good way to reword the Golden Rule.




This is one of my favorite prayers. Okay, technically, it isn’t a prayer.  It was written in The Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich.  But I use it as a prayer.

For those you who don’t know of Julian of Norwich, she lived approximately from 1342 to 1416.  She was a spiritual counselor, a woman who set herself off from the world and lived at St. Julian’s Church in Norwich.  Thus the name by which we know her.  That’s right.  This isn’t even her real name.

Does that mean we should pity her as a woman whose identity has been taken from her?  I don’t think so but not because that isn’t an issue.  It is but in this case I suspect it is what she wanted.  She was an educated woman who wrote the oldest surviving Western book to be written by a woman.  She has a clue.

In The Revelations of Divine Love, she writes about her visions of Christ.  In one vision, she was bemoaning the fact that sin had to exist.  Wouldn’t everything be better if there was no sin? But Christ answered her in her vision, “It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

How often in prayer do we spend our time looking back, gazing on past sin and suffering?  Oh, God.  Why did this have to happen?

It did happen.  But there is God and where there is God there is hope.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

The world is not a perfect place and yet we have grace.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

We are flawed but we are God’s.

“But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”


I’ve been thinking about traditional values a lot. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the values that my grandparents taught me.

  1.  Work hard.  My grandfather graduated with a degree in mining engineering as many mines across the US were starting to play out.  Yes, he worked as a mining engineer but he also managed a gas station, custom painted cars and maintained the city parks.
  2. Get creative.  Because they kept chickens, my grandmother saved the print fabric feed bags.  She used the prettiest prints to make dresses for the girls.  She used the geometrics for the boys.  The rest became underwear.  That has never been lost on me.  She made their underwear.
  3. Be generous.  They didn’t have a lot but what they had, they shared.  There were never only 5 plates at the table for Sunday dinner.  Everyone who was there got a chair and a plate and there were always friends and neighbors present.
  4. Laugh.   My maternal grandparents loved to laugh.  Most of the photos I have of them include one if not both of them with a big grin.  Laughter is essential.
  5. Have Faith.  All four of my grandparents were faithful.  We prayed when times were hard.  We read scripture.  And we learned to give people the space for their own beliefs.  Granted, in my Protestant family, this often meant no more than giving people the space to be Catholic but I’ve chosen to apply this a bit more broadly.

Hard work. Creativity. Generosity. Laughter.  Faith.  These are the family values I experienced as a child.


People used to ask me why I did’t camp with the Scouts.  Because when I did one of two things would happen.  It would rain.

As a Cub Scout mom I reconnected with another mom.  We had been Girl Scouts together.  We shared a tent on a Cub Scout trip and at one point she looked at me.  “Oh, right.  It did always rain when you were at camp.”  Some of us are just talented in unexpected ways.  What can I say?

Sometimes it would storm.  On my only camping trip with the Boy Scouts, we had three tents collapse.  Lightning was slicing through the sky as we put two new tents up.  Me?  I elected to sleep in the car.  My husband and I were the first two up come morning.  The sun was out and birds were chirping.  Then we discovered that one end of the dining fly had been smashed.  We managed to reach the camp stoves, the coffee pots and the doughnuts.  When everyone else got up we had the brew perking away.  “Why are you in such a good mood?” snarled one sleepy dad.  Yes, I laughed out loud but I also handed him a cup of coffee.

God made us so that we can laugh.  He also gave us the ability to cry.

When faced with a crisis, you can select which way to go. I tend to opt for laughter.  Sure, it annoys some people. But if you cry, you won’t be able to smell the coffee.  Me?  I’m opting to laugh with my fellows over a cup of coffee.




Yesterday we celebrated Pentecost.  I wish I had had my camera with me to get a photo of the communion table.  On Pentecost every brings in a red candle and places it on the communion table.  At the beginning of the service, the pastor lights them all to symbolize the spread of the Holy Spirit.

For those of you who may not know the story of Pentecost, this is Acts 2: 1-12, NIV.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

I’m not sure why this only came to me when I saw the quote above, but Pentecost is a story of God’s love.  This is God meeting the people where they are.  Why do I think that?  Because he sends them the Gospel in their own languages.

I can’t help but think that when he tells us to love one another, he wants us to do the same.  He wants us to deliver his word without preamble and without conditions.  Simple, straight forward and without preamble, just because.


You are reaching a fork in the road.  How do you know which one God wants you to take?  Listen for that still small voice.

Years ago, worship had gotten a bit ho hum.  I went to church because of a sense of duty.  It was habit.  But something needed to change.

So I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more.

Then a thought popped into my head.  I should join the choir.

Pfft.  That couldn’t be right.  I hadn’t been in choir for something like 20 years.  As much as I loved music, middle school choir had been a nightmare.  I gladly dumped it when I started high school.  Choir was NOT the answer.

Then the choir director walked up to me.  “You need to join the choir.”

The think is that when I get in front of people, I have panic attacks.  My focus narrows.  I shake.  I’ve never thrown up but I could.  That much is obvious.

But I said yes.  Friends warned me not to let the choir director bully me.  For a bunch of people who worried he was bullying me, they were awfully pushy.  That was ironic.  In spite of this, I stepped up and went to practice.

I’m not going to say it was easy.  The day I sang a duet I nearly face- planted.  No, seriously.  But I did it.  And I’m bummed that this Sunday is the last week we sing before our summer break.

Not sure if what you are hearing is the still small voice of God?  Here’s my base line question.  Is it easy?  If yes, listen some more.  If no, sorry.  There’s a really good chance the terrifying suggestion is from God.



Every year, our presbytery issues a challenge.  For those of you who aren’t Presbyterian, a presbytery is something like an archdiocese.  This year our challenge is to tackle hunger in our communities.

When Rev, Howard challenges us to tackle hunger, he isn’t thinking “they can just pray about it.”  Yes, prayer is a part but we also need to put our prayers in action.  There need to be verbs.

For our part, our congregation expanded our community garden.  The purpose of this garden?  To feed the community.  We doubled the size of the garden and added a bush cherry, three apple trees and four blackberry brambles.  Last week, we made our first harvest.

While the lettuce is looking beautiful, the first thing to be ready to harvest was the row of radishes.  One pound may not sound like a lot but we will get almost that many more and then we will replant them.  Who know that radish seeds grow so quickly?  Not me.  That’s for sure.

Fortunately, the local hungry aren’t relying on just me.  There are people in our congregation who actually know what they’re doing.  They’ve planted kale and lettuce, spinach and corn, and cucumbers.  There will, once again, be lots and lots of cucumbers.

Praying about a problem is good, but as Chevalier said, we need verbs.  We need actions.  We need to add hands and feet to our prayers.  In this particular instance, that means planting.

Sit down and think for a moment.  What are your prayers for your community?  How can you add a verb to these prayers?   Christ, after all, called us to walk among the people.


Our adult Sunday school class is currently finishing up our study of Ephesians. Among the topics we are discussing is the armor of God – the gifts that God gives us to combat evil in the world.  For those of you who don’t remember this passage in Ephesians 6: 13 – 17.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

These are powerful gifts and I have to admit that when I studied this passage in the past, I noted the fierce gifts.  But there was one gift that I overlooked – peace.

How strange that this is what I missed.  Truth without peace can easily be used to beat someone down. Righteousness without peace easily becomes self-righteousness.

God grants us a variety of gifts.  Taken together, they enable us to do his work in a broken world.  Not that it is an easy task but he does give us the tools we need, including peace, faith and salvation.


Currently, I am taking a Yale class on happiness called “The Science of Well-Being.”  This is my first psychology class and the professor is discussing what we think makes us happy vs what really makes us happy.  One of the first things that we did was take a character survey to find out which traits are strongest in each of our personalities.

When I saw this quote, it really rang true for me. But then again I just found out that it is official.  Among my top five traits are judgement and bravery.  I wasn’t really happy when I saw the term “judgement” but then I read what it means.  This isn’t about being judgmental.  Instead it is about being able to look at all sides of an issue. Bravery is described as a willingness to act or speak up about something even if your take on things is unpopular.

The quote above pretty well summarizes the last few weeks for me.  The only Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri is on the verge of being closed down.  Ooooo, Planned Parenthood!  I can feel hackles going up across the blog-osphere.

When you say Planned Parenthood, many people think abortion but not all of their clinics perform abortions.  They also provide medical exams for women who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay the bill at your typical OB/GYN’s office.  There are college students and young working women who get their PAP smears and well-woman exams at Planned Parenthood.  That’s right.  They go there for cancer screenings not to get rid of unwanted fetuses.

If you don’t approve of abortion, I get it.  But I also see the much larger part of what Planned Parenthood does which includes saving lives through early diagnosis. And if not condemning this organization is an unpopular stance among Christians?  See Bravery, trait #5 on my list.

I hope we can be civil to each other even when we disagree, but even if we disagree, I’m willing to take a stand for women who need the health care Planned Parenthood provides.


When I was a teen, I despised my grandmother’s Southern manners.  My mother’s Leave-It-to-Beaver simpering smile.  How could they let people say such rotten things and not respond?  It was like being a door mat.

Flash forward to today.  One die-hard liberal in the family picked a fight by calling the Republicans “the enemy.”  Maybe a few more of them would have been willing to let it go, but Memorial Day weekend.  Ka-blam!  The battle was on.

Today, an urban teacher friend panned Missouri legislation that would change various elements in the school year calendar state wide.  Apparently, I haven’t researched this, the goal is to improve state tourism by not starting school until later in August.  But could my friend simply say “this legislation is a bad idea?  Oh, no.  He had to call the tourist area Lake of the Go-Karts.  Rural friends may be rural but they know when they are being called unsophisticated hicks.

Tolerance. It isn’t about being a door mat although it does sometimes mean letting something slide when you would rather tell someone to mind their manners, God Bless Their Pointy Little Heads.  For those of you who, sadly, are not southern, that is not strickly speaking a blessing.  It is more of an acknowledgement that sometimes only God can love our loud mouthed flawed selves.  Hopefully, everyone else will be tolerant.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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