Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I had one of *those dreams* again yesterday.  It was so vivid at the time, but like all it's brethren  it starts to fade in my memory after a while.  I dreamt I was in the parsonage, on the carport, cleaning and gardening (my two most common activities right now.)   The local kids were hanging around, as they are wont to do.  The weather started to turn - this area is the worst in Georgia for tornados. The kids ran down to the ditch at the bottom of the driveway and laid down.  I yelled and screamed for them to come inside either the parsonage or church for shelter, but to no avail.  I barely got inside to lay on the kitchen floor before it hit.  The wind was so strong, it moved me around on the floor of the kitchen.  I was able to get the door shut but to keep it shut for my safety and the safety of the kids and cats, I had to lock it.  The kids in the neighborhood had no way to get in - and I was incredibly sad at this.  I was able to take refuge under my desk.

Yesterday, the dream seemed so real that I wondered at the state of the house and yard.  I kept expecting it to be covered with storm debris.  I had dreamt that the roof was partially ripped off and that much of the house was soaked with water - and was surprised to get to the kitchen yesterday and find it OK.

I know what my dream probably means.  And it makes me sad.  The power of God moves through - the justice and righteousness of God is like the power of the tornado.  Shelter and safety are offered, but not all take advantage of it.  I know that's one meaning.  Sitting with it today.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Why I Have Not Been Blogging

Answer number one: it started to seem like effort.  I set up arbitrary deadlines for myself (like blogging every day) and when I failed to meet them - well, it felt like failure.

Answer number two: Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Answer number three: Candy Crush Saga (and its like.)

Answer number four: fear.

Answer number five: lack of "space" to do so (on many levels.)

I don't think it's because I have lack of things to say - but I edit myself quite a bit now-a-days.  I edit out the 'Dark Thoughts' and the critique of people, places and things.  For instance, my thought process this morning was just frankly depressing.  It goes like this:

We are all "special" or at least we have been told so all our lives.  We are all as unique as snowflakes.  But y'all - there are billions of snowflakes.  There have been billions in the past and there will be billions in the future.  How special can one snowflake really be amid those billions?

See?  Dark and depressing.  And so I edited it out of my thought process most of morning until I sat down and did some prayer and meditation.  And it faded and slipped away into that dark morass of fear and anxiety from whence comes the majority of my Dark Thoughts.

Does it edify anyone whatsoever to know those Dark Thoughts?  Does it add to the goodness of the world for them to hit the light? I don't know, so I don't blog them.

There might be goodness found to know that others struggle with Dark Thoughts.  There might be some goodness found to know how others cope and deal with them.

Thinks to ponder. (Yes, and I said "Thinks.")

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What does it mean to be the church? Newsletter article.

What does it mean to be the church?  Some people might think immediately of a building, the property on which the building sits or just the sanctuary.  Not a bad answer and one you would get from the dictionary, but based on the Bible, the church isn’t our property or building.  We can get a clue of what church is and is meant to be by looking at Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Let’s break this down a bit.  First in verse 42 we see that the people (the church) were devoted to 1) teaching and 2) fellowship 3)breaking of bread and 4) prayers.

First comes the teaching. We gather together on a weekly basis first to learn about the faith, to hear the word proclaimed and expounded upon. And this teaching is just not about information: this teaching should be for transformation. We should be people who are being transformed (look at Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.)  We come together to learn so that we are not conformed to this world, but transformed into something much better.  We come together to learn so that our minds might be renewed. Is this why you come to church?

Second, the church was devoted to fellowship. John Wesley would call it “Christian Conferencing.”  This can take on many different faces.  Potluck dinners are fellowship.  Movie night is fellowship.  Even workdays can be fellowship.  Any time we gather together and it is not specifically for worship can be considered fellowship time.  So often we just come to church on Sunday mornings thinking that’s all we need to do and we miss out the richness of relationship we can have with God and one another in deep meaningful fellowship.  What have you done this week to deepen your relationships with God and one another?  For every hour you spend in worship and learning, another hour should be spent in fellowship and service.

Third on the list is the breaking of bread.  This can take a couple of forms as well.  It most definitely means communion in church.  But it also means potluck dinners and dining with one another.  I’m making it a goal this year to break bread with everyone in the church (well, at least those who want to have dinner with me!)  I’m doing this by inviting people to dinner at the parsonage, having a couple of parties at the parsonage and going out to eat in groups.  I want to break bread with YOU.  By doing so, we will get to know each other better and build relationship with one another.  When is the last time you had some other member of the church that isn’t your blood relation over for dinner?

Fourth is prayer.  Prayer is the one thing that can be done anytime and anywhere.  It’s done during worship every Sunday.  It’s done before Sunday School Classes.  It’s done in your car on the way to work.  It’s done by saints and sinners.  Where do you pray? With whom did you last pray?

As we go forward together in ministry, I want us to be intentional in our being church.  I pray God will strengthen us individually and together as we go about being HIS church.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Change and my favorite restaurant

Yesterday I was crushed to find out that my favorite restaurant for more than a decade has changed hands: new owner, new wait staff, new sushi chef.  We had dinner anyway and it was OK, but …. It just wasn’t the same.

I had a long day yesterday – lots of new stuff to integrate into existing systems, new tasks to do, new ways and processes.  Things can change rapidly.  I left our meeting and drove multiple miles through territory that I know well, but it’s been a while since I’ve been here. So many changes in the landscape.  Trees cut down, roads widened, new buildings put up in place of older ones.  I was looking forward to something that didn’t change –  my favorite restaurant and my old familiar standbys: salad with ginger dressing, miso soup, spicy fried rice and a sushi roll.  But it was not to be.  The ginger dressing was spicy not sweet, the spicy fried rice was just not spicy enough.  My yellow-tail tuna roll wasn’t constructed properly and fell apart in my soy sauce.

I really was upset. Kind of the “final straw” feeling. As we drove home through the pollen tinged rain last night, I asked myself if there was anything in life that felt like it didn’t change – that felt like security, that felt absolute.  And truthfully, in this world, the byword is “the only thing that doesn’t change is that things change.”

And so this morning I woke up with tremendous empathy for those who are fans of traditional, conservative worship.  I understand why at a funeral you insisted on the 23rd Psalm in King James Version.  I really understand why you wanted the traditional Lord’s prayer instead of our contemporary one in the hymnal.  You wanted not just the message to change, you wanted the medium to remain the same as well.  I feel the same at times.  I like some of the older liturgy as well – I occasionally want to say that, “We be not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.”  And then I finish the statement,  “But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy.”

You are indeed the same Lord and your byword is grace and mercy.  Praise be!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Communion Bread Recipe

Candler Communion Bread Recipe (for those of us who have gone to two stores looking for pita bread and can't find any)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a bowl mix:

4 cups of whole wheat flour
4 tsp. of DOUBLE ACTING baking powder (or 8 tsp. of single acting baking powder)
2 tsp. of salt

Make sure ingredients are thoroughly mixed because it will affect the taste of the bread.

In a separate container mix thoroughly (I put them in a container with a lid and shake)

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Gradually add the wet mix to the mixed dry ingredients mixing them together with your hands (this will be very, very sticky). You're shooting for a ball of dough that's cohesive, but not too sticky; this may mean that you don't add all the wet ingredients or if your dough is just a sticky mess add a bit of flour. Knead the dough once you have a ball. Once you've kneaded, roll or pat the dough out and cut it into 6 inch rounds (I use a six inch bowl to cut them out). The recipe suggests the dough be about a 1/2 inch thick; you can make it thinner if you can do it without tearing; they will rise in the oven.

Place them on an ungreased cookie or pizza sheet (I use Teflon pie tins)
Then use a knife to cut a cross into each of them (don't go all the way through the dough!)
They will bake in 10-15 minutes, however they may need just a bit longer or shorter depending on your oven. 
They are finished when they no longer seem doughy. You don't want them super dark (burned) on the bottom.
This recipe makes 6-8 rounds 8 is usually plenty for the service.

Recipe from the Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Modified, Steve Reneau

Monday, March 25, 2013

Maundy Thursday with readings from John

Full script with Director's notes here.

John 1:1-18
“Once upon a Tree” by Pepper Chopin -- Choir

John 12:1-4
“My Jesus I Love Thee” UMH 172 – Ist verse woman’s solo joined by choir rest of verses and congregation

John 12:4-8
Luke 22:7-14
“What Wonderous Love is This” UMH 292

John 13:2-17
Invitation to Footwashing
“Jesu, Jesu” UMH 432
“O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee” UMH 430

John 13:21-35
“Gift of love” UMH 408
Luke 22:15-20

Words of Invitation to Table and Consecration
Solo- “Remember Me” by Mark Schultz
“Be Thou My Vision” UMH 451

Matthew 26:30-44
Solo – “Into the Woods” lyrics by Sidney Lanier
Words of Dismissal
“A Wind Blew Over Calvary” by Greg Sewell – Choir

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Reflections about Snakes and Evangelism

Yesterday my husband Bill and I entertained a local traveling evangelist from another (unnamed) denomination who came knocking on our door. Rather, Bill entertained and I sat and listened in the other room. I usually invite all who knock on my door into the house for a cup of coffee and conversation but I was in the midst of paperwork and that kind of stuff.  I usually invite them in because serves two purposes – it allows me to witness to my faith and it allows me listen to listen to as they witness to their faith.  I’m pretty non-discriminatory – I invite them all in: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon Missionaries, Baptists, non-denominational. Whatever they are, all are welcome.  It boosts me up to be able to talk to people about Jesus regardless of the circumstances.
Of course I know that not everybody feels this way.  Most of us consider these people to be annoying, even unwelcome.  After Bill had closed the door on our latest visitor he said, “I think next time I’ll get a snake.”
It’s an inside joke - he’s referring to an incident that occurred early in our marriage when I still worked at Fernbank Science Center.  I babysat two different snakes over two different summers.  The snakes had a definite purpose in life – we used them as teaching tools to show kids the difference between venomous snakes and non-venomous snakes.  Buzz was a Florida King Snake, mostly yellow with black stripes.  I kept him quite a while but my favorite was Scarlet who was a Georgia Corn Snake.  These snakes were not very docile and had to be handled everyday so that they wouldn’t forget to be “nice.” 
One summer afternoon, I had Scarlet up my sleeve and she had gone to sleep curled up around my elbow.  When the local traveling evangelist knocked on my door and I answered, Scarlet woke up and traveled down my sleeve to my hand.  I held out my hand to shake my visitor’s hand and …. the snake poked her head out of my sleeve and started to go toward my visitor.  She gave a shriek and left rapidly.  To be fair to her, most of the time corn snakes get killed because they are mistaken to be copperheads.  I’m sure she thought I was handling copper heads.  Nonetheless, that was the last time they came visiting while we lived in that house.
So when Bill said, “I think next time I’ll get a snake,” he was really meaning, “I don’t want them to come back.”  Yet I do.  I enjoy it and encourage it.  I find it a boost to my faith to hear their stories.  And I pray for them and with them, that their journeys from house to house might be fruitful and that God use them to increase the Kingdom.
I think evangelism is the number one place Methodists fail. We are really good with the fellowship components of Christian community. We excel at Christian Education and Formation.  We are superlative at Acts of Social Justice, be they right or just well intentioned.  But we are not adding to the Kingdom.
Old methods and models of evangelism are just that – old. Some of them have worked and some are just well intentioned.  I was trained in the late 1970’s (as a very very young child, I will have you know) in a method called Evangelism Explosion.  I either was not very good at it, or perhaps the methods had seen their day because I don’t think I ever really entered into a good, rich and deep conversation about faith with anyone I approached.
I think the oldest of the methods – Jesus’ method— might work the best.  If we look at how Jesus gathered people together we can start to see how we might gather them together.  He first approached them as people – individuals – and not “prospects.”  He made relationships with them.  He ate with them, He healed them.  He loved them.  He took care of their deepest need and then said, “Follow me.”
We need to approach individuals and see them as unique in God’s eyes, a beloved member of God’s great creation and realize that  each of them will come to Christ in their own way.  Let us seek out the un-churched, the least, the last and the lost and enter into relationship with them.  Invite them to dinner.  Eat with them.  Go to ballgames with them, shop with them, watch movies with them, get to know them and find out their deepest need.  Pray with them – and pray for them.  Love them as God would love them.  Ask them to church, share your faith with them and things will be transformed. 
And what’s amazing to me is that even if they never come to church – even if we never see the fruit from the seeds that we have planted, things will be transformed.  YOU will be transformed.  I will be transformed.  By echoing Jesus’ methods of evangelism, we will become more like Christ.  Our faith will become deeper, richer and more mature.  Our lives will be enriched, we will be transformed.
So it doesn’t require special training, y’all.  It doesn’t require extraordinary skill or special formulaic words.  And you don’t have to keep snakes.  Just a lot of love. 
 “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
            - 1 John 4:7-12 (NRSV)

Monday, March 04, 2013

There is a part of me that knows that life is a journey upon which we retrace roads over and over again. The road that I'm on right now is one I've been on before and I know that one day I'll retrace this bit of the journey again.  No thing of the road will be changed, but I will be changed.

That said, I think I've entered into a new bit of the territory that I've not been in in quite a while.  There are days that all I can say is, "I love Jesus."

I want to be quick to qualify that but, I won't so that the statement won't lose impact.  To qualify it would be to dismiss the visceral nature of that statement that "I love Jesus."

I love every single part of Jesus. I love the sheer beauty of this thing we call the "God's Plan of Salvation." I love the ebb and the flow of the story.  I love the person of Jesus who lived and breathed like me, who loved his mother, who loved his friends.  I love the teachings of Jesus.

I just love Jesus.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yesterday I watched a webinar concerning "Healthy Church Leaders."  The leader presented 13 key factors for Clergy Health.  I reproduce it here from a screen shot I took during the presentation.  (You too can find this presentation here.  One of the categories is "The Existential Burdens of Ministry."  This is defined as the minister"—carrying the weight of others’ emotional and spiritual burdens; overwhelmed by others’ needs and the importance of ministerial issues; expected to solve unsolvable mysteries." (You can find more here.)

Yep.  There you go.  That's it for me today.  Two funerals I want to attend, friends who carry large physical burdens of horrible diseases (several now), depressed people (several again), anxious people (ditto) and so forth.  I feel it today.  I need to release that energy and replenish the creative within me.

I find it interesting they determine all this but offer no solutions.  I suppose the solution is up to me. SO - today I am off to find my own unique solution of how to deal with all my Existential Burden of Ministy.

And then tonight I'll watch another webinar - Working Together for Healthy Clergy.  Let's see if this helps.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Grouse

I don't know if I'm getting old or what.  It's not like I prefer traditional over everything else, but I'm getting tired of being castigated for liking traditional.  I'm tired of having the name "fuddy duddy" and "staid" and "stuffy" being thrown at me like clumps of sticky mud.

So I'm going to say it - I LIKE traditional.  I like traditional stuff, I like traditional worship, I like traditional dinner parties, I like traditional PTA meetings.  I like contemporary/current trends in all sorts of things, but I'm not willing to throw the traditional out the window just because something new comes along.

I like antiques and I like Ikea.  I think a person can like both - even in the same space.

So there.

EDITED: I used a politically charged phrase in the original post. I changed it.  I will blog more about exactly what I mean by "traditional stuff" tomorrow.  I did not mean what some of you thought I meant!  Peace!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Silence is not a bad thing.  I find myself yearning for more of it. Not just turning off the TV/radio/internet but deeper silence than that.  The other day the power went off and I realized that we are surrounded by noise of our own creation all the time and we don't even hear it.

I want a reprieve of all those things that are below our conscious level of hearing but are still there.  I want a reprieve from the voices that tell me to do more, do less, do differently, be here, be there, butt out, pay up.  I want to revel in that silence. I want to sit in that for a while, steep in it like a weird reverse teabag until I and the Other are as one. Perhaps it's more like I need to steep in the dye until He and I are one.