In community there is hope

Good afternoon everyone! Monday plus daylight savings…ugh!  Anyway, we are so lucky to have a guest blogger again today! My dear friend Lauri Muller has written an amazing devo for us today. Lauri has a heart for the homeless and passion for justice. She is amazing. Enjoy!

Today’s scripture:

Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV)

A Call to Persevere in Faith

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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Good morning friends!

As I ponder the scripture for today from Hebrews provided by the Common Lectionary, I am struck by the encouragement to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. I must admit that although I consider myself to be an optimist in most occasions and I love problem solving and generally approach life with a very hopeful “can do” attitude, this past week I have found myself on many occasions falling into a “Oh the heck with it” perspective on many things. Whether that is my utter astonishment at the current political happenings, or frustration around anti-productive methods and unrealistic expectations for our brothers and sisters who have found themselves struggling with homelessness or stress at work and even hitting a plateau in my efforts to slim down and get fit. Maintaining a unswerving hope can be a difficult task to manage.

The good news as we read on in the text is that we have the support of the one who models ultimate faithfulness as our coach. We can take lead from Christ who in the midst of political unrest, social out-casting and his own day-to-day struggles who held steadfast in hope. How does Christ lead us? I believe the last portion of this text sheds some light for us. Pointing us towards community, this text helps us recognize how through coming together we strengthen each other. Yesterday as I was spiraling through some of my hopeless rants I was blessed by the council of friends who spurred my on toward love and good deeds and encouraged me to not give up. We need each other in our pursuit of hope. Perhaps collectively we can more effectively hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. I suppose that means I should reconsider my tentative plans of moving to Canada in November depending on the outcome of the elections. 🙂 Despite our circumstances, we can be drawn together to be encouraging, supportive and loving to one another. In our coming together in love we also draw nearer to that which God has called us to be forgiveness, love and hope.

Joy wins

Good morning and happy Friday!

Today’s scripture:

Psalm 126 (NRSV)

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.

Lunda

This is Luna. She came home with us last evening from the Oregon Humane Society. Luna is 10 months old and is some sort of Dachshund mix….we aren’t sure what she is mixed with but she has this beautiful blue coat with tan fringes and cute white puppy paws.  She is a super happy super chill little girl. Rudy is ok with it…not thrilled but not angry…kind of like when you realize you now have a younger sibling. She keeps trying to puppy lick his face which he will put up with for a moment and then tell her, “enough!”  But then they will sleep right next to each other and that happened pretty quickly.

We had night one with Luna last night and it went really well.  We will be learning all about her over the next days to figure out how she functions and where we will train her.  Rudy is figuring it all out too.

We have been talking for weeks about possibly getting another little dog. I have mentioned this before in the blog.  We hemmed and hawed and debated. Does Rudy need a companion since he no longer lives with a cat? Do we have the capacity and time for another pup? What kind of pup would we look into?

So with all of these questions in the back of our minds, Jenny and I started to look at the humane society website.  First mistake.  We fell in love with all of their pictures.  The turnover is amazing!  Remember when I talked about how we went to visit the other pup…that was all part of this journey.  Rudy had said no to that little one. So the other day I saw a little one I really wanted to meet but I told Jenny…we are not getting a puppy. No way. The little one was 3 months old and that is wayyy too much work! So I said to her, “Let’s go look but we can’t get one AND if we see one we want we have to sleep on it.” We went to see another dog. Luna wasn’t even on the radar.  The shelter folks tell me that she had been hiding in her bed since she arrived until I walked by. She hopped out of her bed and trotted right up to the bars and started wagging the tail.  It was as if she said, “ok, time to go home…you people are my people!”

So we had her meet Rudy and it went ok and he didn’t freak out and they communicated. We put a hold on her to sleep on it like we agreed.  We talked and talked and talked….she is a puppy, can we handle that? What about logistics? Will this be more stressful? What will it do to Rudy? What if she doesn’t work?

We slept on it.  We couldn’t quite decide in the morning. It didn’t seem logical but we both wanted her.

We texted during the day. Jenny finally texted, “But think of the joy she will add in the midst of our stress.”  That turned a corner for me.  What if we chose joy? And then a few hours later a text from Jenny, “Go bring our girl home.” I drove out to the humane society still unsure.  I went to her little cage. There were five different people looking at her and she was being very social.  I squatted down. I didn’t make a sound and she dropped everyone else and ran over to me and licked my hand.  It was done. I needed to bring home our girl. Joy wins.

It might be a stretch but this morning’s Psalm is about joy.  Even when we weep, the tears turn into joy. Joy will come.  Joy will win.  Puppies rule.

Chain Reaction

Good morning everyone! I have such a treat for you this morning! We have another guest blogger, my brother Andrew.  I think you will really get a lot out of his writing and his perspective.

Today’s scripture:

Luke 9:10-17 (NRSV)

10 On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

12 The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so and made them all sit down.16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

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I have perhaps the coolest job anyone could ask for….. I am a scientist. It may not sound totally awesome, but hear me out. I get to ask bizarre questions and perform crazy experiments to find answers, all with the sole purpose of furthering the knowledge of man (and woman…sister edit :)). It’s like being a grown-up kid, except instead of mixing different types of juice, I alter peoples daily habits and see how hormones in their bodies change. Pretty cool, huh?

 

But it is not always easy to answer these outlandish questions, as my work is rooted in the reality that I need numbers, observations, and tangible facts in order to draw conclusions to share with the world.  Therefore all of my thoughts, actions, and decisions are embedded with this “truth of fact” in mind. Thus it is almost natural that when hearing about many of the miracles in the bible I can be….dare I say…. a bit skeptical at times. Now you can remind me that faith and religion are not about fact, but this is a tough persona for me to shed.  So I will do what any scientist (well, maybe not any scientist) would do, and dissect the feeding of 5000 for the real miracle I find using the information at hand (plus, it will also let me put my Jesuit education to use!)

 

The miracle of the feeding of five thousand, which by the way, is the ONLY miracle told in all four of the synoptic gospels, is the remarkable story about Jesus taking 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, and turning it into a meal for all with twelve basketfuls to spare.  Upon first reading, the common thought is that the miracle is Jesus somehow magically multiplying the food for all, which would truly be an incredible miracle.

 

However, if you read closer, I hypothesize that that is not the real miracle at all!  Jesus could have very easily sent all these people away without a second thought, but rather he does the extraordinary and feeds them EVERYTHING he has.  In demonstrating this unusual act of kindness, a chain reaction is set off throughout the rest of the crowd to do as Jesus has done. They begin to share all of the food that they have with their neighbors (rich, poor, healthy, sick, messiah, man, democrat, republican….. ok, maybe not the last two, but you get my point) and everyone is filled. In fact, this is not a feeding miracle of Jesus multiplying food (which based on science alone would be hard to believe), but rather a miracle of sharing and generosity!

 

This story demonstrates a very real power that Jesus contains; his influence on people to do good through his action. And isn’t this the way Jesus asks us as Christians to act today? Does he not tell us to give all we have and to love our neighbors? In the world we live, with heated political races, racial disparities, hate crimes because of looks, sexual preference, or whatever religion we follow, shouldn’t this be the banner we stand under as people of God? It wasn’t just the well-to-do feeding one another, it was the mix of all classes and health. And that my friends, is a true miracle with evidence I can get behind!

 

I draw this conclusion with the facts that I see, but part of my job as a scientist is being proved wrong!  Friends, as we move through this Lenten season, find your own miracles with the evidence you need.

 

Be well,

Andrew

All in the family

Good Monday morning!

Today’s scripture:

GENESIS 49:1-28

1Then Jacob called his sons, and said: “Gather around, that I may tell you what will happen to you in days to come. 2Assemble and hear, O sons of Jacob; listen to Israel your father.

3Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the first fruits of my vigor, excelling in rank and excelling in power. 4Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel because you went up onto your father’s bed; then you defiled it – you went up onto my couch!

5Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6May I never come into their council; may I not be joined to their company – for in their anger they killed men, and at their whim they hamstrung oxen. 7Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

8Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. 9Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches down, he stretches out like a lion, like a lioness – who dares rouse him up? 10The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and the obedience of the peoples is his. 11Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he washes his garments in wine and his robe in the blood of grapes; 12his eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.

13Zebulun shall settle at the shore of the sea; he shall be a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon.

14Issachar is a strong donkey, lying down between the sheepfolds; 15he saw that a resting place was good, and that the land was pleasant; so he bowed his shoulder to the burden, and became a slave at forced labor.

16Dan shall judge his people as one of the tribes of Israel. 17Dan shall be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider falls backward.

18I wait for your salvation, O LORD. 19Gad shall be raided by raiders, but he shall raid at their heels.

20Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall provide royal delicacies.

21Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears lovely fawns.

22Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. 23The archers fiercely attacked him; they shot at him and pressed him hard. 24Yet his bow remained taut, and his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25by the God of your father, who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26the blessings of your father are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.

27Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey, and at evening dividing the spoil.”

28All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing.

jahfam

I have always loved that story that my mom tells about being a little delayed in picking up my middle brother Andrew one day. For a year, my brother went to school in Sweet Home so my mom would take him and pick him up at the end of her day and bring him home. One day, my mom had been working a little later and went to pick up Andrew.  She apologized for being late and he replied,totally serious, “I knew for sure that you would go home, count your children, and realize that one was missing.” When my mom tells this story, it always makes me giggle.  We did not have a gaggle of children at our house….just four of us…but that story makes it sound as if we were the sons of Jacob or more.  Certainly she would count her children and by that she would know one was missing.  ha!

But in all honesty, it has always surprised me that the four of us are both so incredibly different and in some ways very similar.  All four of us have been called to very different careers from one another and our interests and talents vary but when we get together we have such a fabulous time. My brothers are hilarious and all very kind. They prioritize family and I enjoy being with them so much.  We say similar things.  My brother Grant is moving to Portland and so we are getting to see one another more and I am loving it! He is so much fun to hang out with one on one. He and I were eating breakfast and I said to the dog, “Hey, do you need to go o-u-t?” Grant laughed and said, “So you did pick up things from mom, eh?” We all have things that we say that we can trace right back to our parental units.

The Genesis passage this morning is Jacob blessing his 12 sons (who knew how many daughters he had as well with his three wives). He calls them each by name and tells them how they are so very unique and then blesses them in that.  They come from the same family, background, landscape and yet they are all so unique and called to so very different places and blessed differently.  They will go on to establish the 12 tribes of Israel and carry God’s work in unique ways.

We are all blessed and called very differently and yet called.  We each have our name and our space. We carry our uniqueness into the world and many of us are still trying to find that space.  Many of us are still searching for that unique blessing to live into. But we all come from the same God and are called and blessed.  We have similarities in addition to our uniqueness.  And we can have such a good time together!

Peace,
C

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This earthly tent

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture:

2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5 (NRSV)

16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

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When I opened the daily scripture this morning, this one was the one that immediately jumped out at me. I didn’t even need to look at the others.  There are times when something just pops out at you, aren’t there and you have to listen to that?

I needed this scripture today for a couple of different parts of it….

So we do not lose heart….
There is some really really hard stuff going on at the church that I serve at right now.  There has been confrontation and accusations.  There has been he said and she said and emails and texts and more meetings today.  There is hurtful stuff said and some supportive stuff but of course the hurtful stuff sounds louder and sticks more to my skin and to my dreaming world on a nightly basis. There are questions and rightfully so and conversations that I thought would happen and totally different conversations come out.  And I can’t give details but I needed someone to say to my soul….so we do not lose heart…

The decisions were made and are being made because of mission and where God is calling us….if we lose heart, we have lost sight of God.  If we give up having the hard conversations and just give up the community, we have lost sight of God.  If we just walk away, we are losing sight of where God can work so tremendously. “The weight of glory beyond all measure…”

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in…
An earthly tent.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about my own body (being on this Whole30 thing), losing people (other earthly tents) and our world (a larger earthly tent).  What interesting imagery!  We are here but there is more to come and this is temporary.  This situation. This moment.  This thing that holds us and seems like it is everything.  So there are two ways we can think about it.  1.  we can just manage and get through because there is more to come or/and 2. We must enjoy the camping experience to its fullest because this is one grand adventure chalked full of God and small miracles.  Paul writes to a church in turmoil that in this tent we groan but I think maybe we should look at each other intentionally and wade through the adventure for today.

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God…
God surrounds me/us. God has prepared me for such a time as this with capacity and resiliency and the narrative of love and mission.  We have to keep that narrative up even in times of discontent and disagreement.  Amen.

Spring is coming….

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture:

Psalm 63:1-4 (NRSV)

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

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This week in Oregon it is really starting to feel like spring.  Oregonian valley springs are the best. They start earlyish (we are due to have lots more rain this week) and they last a long time.  The flowers start to bloom right about now and you can see Oregonians, without thinking, turn their faces to the sun that we really haven’t seen in a while. It just feels so good to feel that warmth. A dear friend and I decided then on Wednesday to go walk around the grotto. We both needed a reset and some extra peace. If you haven’t been to the Grotto in Portland you have to go…even if you aren’t Catholic. Even if you aren’t Christian…you must go.  When you walk in, there is an instead feeling of peace and the picture above is what you find at the end of the first trail. It always takes my breath away. Here, in this sacred space, are people’s prayers before God, burning away in the midst of natural wonder. The rock cave holds a version of the pieta and it is truly stunning.  On this particular day, there were people here and there in deep reverence which made the experience that much more profound.

Then you must pay for the elevator to go up.  Up above, when you step off, is the most amazing view of Portland and then there are a few trails that walk you through peaceful and deeply moving stations of the cross, art, water, and a labyrinth.  This place is a hidden treasure of Portland and very near our house…hint hint.

Earlier in the week I had taken Rudy on a walk around our neighborhood. It was windy and cold but gorgeous with sun. I went out with mission of walking the dog but then I noticed as a wind would gust through Rudy would stop and lean into the wind. He had this look on his face of pure joy…just leaning in and pausing for it.  This made me look up. I was too busy before getting it done but when I looked up I noticed those first few signs of hope and new life….

daffodils

crocus

Any good Oregonian from the valley knows that these are some of the first to arrive. Thank you to my neighbors for planting them at some point. Daffodils and Crocus are signs to us in a wilderness of winter. They are signs that something new is coming and it is bright. When we thirst for God, these spaces indicate to us that God has come and will come again.  We can hope for resurrection in the midst of thirst because of what is to come. David sings this Psalm while in wilderness. And still David sings of joy in the midst of longing.  This week has been a reminder of all that is to come for me.

Peace,
Courtney

Rack, Shack and Benny

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture:

Daniel 3:19-30(NRSV)

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was so filled with rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face was distorted. He ordered the furnace heated up seven times more than was customary, 20 and ordered some of the strongest guards in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and to throw them into the furnace of blazing fire. 21 So the men were bound, still wearing their tunics, their trousers, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the furnace of blazing fire. 22 Because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace was so overheated, the raging flames killed the men who lifted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.”26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.”30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

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ok…I can’t help it but everytime I hear this story I see this instead….

The Daniel story is such a vivid story and shows up in our brains in such storytelling form.  Kid’s videos are powerful and so whenever I even hear the start of this story I flip into Veggie Tales mode. There is an excellent song about “The Bunny” btw…maybe I will add it at the end. This story becomes a staple of the people of God by how it is retold and what it carries.  Of course we all remember that they are thrown into the fire and God stands with them.  They stay strong in their convictions and even when the worst gets worse, God shows up around them. It becomes a kid story.

Although this story is far from a kiddo story. THEY GET THROWN INTO FIRE! ALIVE! And are tortured! And and and…..you get the point.

But here is what I pick up….even when it is the crappiest of crappiest for the guys, God shows up to stand with them.  God does not stop it. God does not redirect. God does not change the events. God has not predestined it.  God does not swipe them up.  God does not change the people or the circumstance.

God shows up to be with them in it.

I get asked so many interesting things but the question I get asked more than anything and I wish I could answer is…”Why did God let that happen?” and “Where is God?”  In fact, yesterday, a staff member in our staff meeting proclaimed, “God was not with those victims.”  We talk about where we have seen God during the week.  We prayed about it but what I should have said was.  Yes, God was standing right next to them even when the worst happened to them. Even in unexplainable violence. I believe God was the one who held them even in that and then held their families as they began to mourn.

When bad stuff happens…and it will to all of us….God isn’t the one who abandoned us, God is the one who shows up in the fire to be present with us. God is the people around us who help us survive, who hold us.  God is the food brought to our door or the person who said just the right thing or the person who cries with us.  God is the one who makes sure our flight is changed so we can get to where the crisis is happening or that extra sense of courage.  God is the person who just stops by…

You get the point. Where is God showing up for you today?

Appointed

Good morning all!

Today’s scripture: 2 Chronicles 20:18-22

18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

20 They rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established; believe his prophets.” 21 When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to theLord and praise him in holy splendor, as they went before the army, saying,

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the Ammonites, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

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It is not often that we get to talk about Jehoshaphat.  While a super fun name to say, we hardly bring up the books of Chronicles in the church world. Jehoshaphat was the fourth king in the kingdom of Judah.  He was the son of the King Asa before him.  If you remember hebrew scripture stories, the kingdom was split into two…Judah to the south and Israel to the North.  Most of the time the North was a mess and turned kings over fairly quickly. Judah as a little bit more stability but still is weak against people like Assyria.

Anyway, Jehoshaphat claims the throne at the age of 35 and reigns for about 25 years.  Scripture tells us that he is a pretty good king.  Scripture writers show him in a pretty favorable light. The kingdom seems to be peaceful and prosperous under this king.

As I read through this morning’s story and saw was was before and what came after what struck me was that at the base of praise to God for safety, the king appoints certain people to sing. The line is, “he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendor.”  This was someone’s job. They were appointed to it. Which means that to be appointed to something is an honor to be appointed to it as your livelihood for that moment in time. They did not jump up…people did not swarm…it wasn’t expected that all would just do…it was appointed.

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What if today you were appointed to sing and praise God? How would it change your demeanor, your day, your way of walking in the world? What if it were part of your job and your life depended on this moment of song? It would be an interesting practice and social experiment to do so…wouldn’t it?

What if we try it today. Carry that will you.  How will you show praise at some point today because you were appointed to do so?

Or another take….what if you looked at your job and vocation in this world (I would not consider those the same at times) as something appointed to you by God. Whatever you do is AS IMPORTANT to God and the people around you as singing praise.  You are ordained to do just this thing in the world (ordained means set apart by God to do so).  How does that change how you do what you do during the day? How does it create space for God in it?

Let me know how it goes.
Blessings!
C

Negotiating with God

Good morning everyone! You made it through Monday!

Today’s scripture:

Numbers 14:10b-20 The Message

Just then the bright Glory of God appeared at the Tent of Meeting. Every Israelite saw it. God said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me like dirt? How long refuse to trust me? And with all these signs I’ve done among them! I’ve had enough—I’m going to hit them with a plague and kill them. But I’ll make you into a nation bigger and stronger than they ever were.”

13-16 But Moses said to God, “The Egyptians are going to hear about this! You delivered this people from Egypt with a great show of strength, and now this? The Egyptians will tell everyone. They’ve already heard that you are God, that you are on the side of this people, that you are present among them, that they see you with their own eyes in your Cloud that hovers over them, in the Pillar of Cloud that leads them by day and the Pillar of Fire at night. If you kill this entire people in one stroke, all the nations that have heard what has been going on will say, ‘Since God couldn’t get these people into the land which he had promised to give them, he slaughtered them out in the wilderness.’

17 “Now, please, let the power of the Master expand, enlarge itself greatly, along the lines you have laid out earlier when you said,

18 God, slow to get angry and huge in loyal love,
forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sin;
Still, never just whitewashing sin.
But extending the fallout of parents’ sins
to children into the third,
even the fourth generation.

19 “Please forgive the wrongdoing of this people out of the extravagance of your loyal love just as all along, from the time they left Egypt, you have been forgiving this people.”

20-23 God said, “I forgive them, honoring your words.

tug-o-war1-1

In our house right now there seems to be a lot of negotiating mixed in with some grumpy, feeling great, and throw in a bit of whining.  Jenny and I have taken on what is called the Whole30 diet for a month. We are in day 8 of our journey.  This program is similar to Paleo with a few differences.  Basically we are eating veggies, proteins and a little fruit for 30 days….no processed sugar. No dairy. No grains and no alcohol for 30 days.  I have to admit Jenny is doing much better with all of this than me.  I am pretty much hangry most of the time although that is shifting.  At first, I started negotiating everything…well, maybe we should start later. Maybe we should both shop so then it will work. Maybe we could keep rice (I love rice and could eat it every meal). Maybe we should have one cheat day a week.

But then I realized that if I don’t commit it won’t happen…so then I just got irritable (no sugar in your body, remember?).  I warned people.  “Dear everyone, I am hungry all of the time right now which makes me very cranky. Beware.” All of a sudden my entire house bothered the heck out of me. I kept going to Jenny saying, “I can’t even lie on our bed…its so messy!” Cue the over dramatic responses from me. I didn’t want to wear anything I owned and changed my clothes three times in the morning before going out of the house.  I grumbled everywhere…just ask my friends. This lasted a few days.

Saturday night I had a dream. We have started watching The Americans…a spy show set during the cold war.  I dreamt that I was a Russian spy in Oregon and all I did was eat pastry.  All day long..pastry. I woke up feeling guilty I had cheated and then realized…nope, not a spy or eating pastry.

Yesterday I moved into a new category….stubborn to just not eat food even though I wanted dinner….nothing sounded particularly good (except rice and pastry and perhaps a glass of wine).  Jenny was a champ and made me dinner anyway and it was delish (I however commented it was fine for not being rice and all….).  Jenny has moved into wanting chocolate more than anything and planning her first meal after this is all done.

We are starting to notice big benefits though too….I am more hydrated and my skin feels better.  Today I have some more energy.  Jenny isn’t having as much back pain and no allergic reactions to anything. We will keep you posted.

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I bring all of this up because I love that Moses is in heavy negotiations with God. Moses goes through appealing to God, negotiating, bartering, flattering, whining with God and all out venting.  Moses continuously works the array of emotions with God and guess what? God responds!  God can handle it because God has those moods too and is bigger than we can ever even imagine. God responds to our pleas, gets frustrated with the Israelites, vents about them but still loves them so dearly.  God and Moses have this complicated relationship but the cool part is…Moses is just a guy and God responds to him so completely. I love these scenes in which God vents, Moses appeals, God responds.  It messages to me that God is not so far above even my day to day struggles.  God responds when I yell out or grump around or even find myself being ridiculous. God will respond to it just like God responds to Moses. God doesn’t hate on Moses even though Moses is up in God’s face. God gives him the respect and space to make the appeal and truly listens.

This is why when people are mad, sad, frustrated and upset I encourage them to go yell at God for a while. Go do it. Physically yell at God.  It’s ok. God can handle it. God is not fragile and will definitely not punish us for releasing that to God….much better than taking it out on each other. God can handle all of our emotion. Will listen and will respond. God has enough patience to still welcome us to the table even if we don’t think we want it and are being punks like I am without my rice.

Peace,
C

Oh Jerusalem…

Good Saturday morning! Hope the day has something fun in store for you!

Today’s scripture:

Matthew 23:37-39 (NRSV)

37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you, desolate.39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

zoo

I got to go to the zoo yesterday! I love the zoo and I especially love going with one of my favorite two year olds in the whole wide world, Clare.  Clare and her papa called to see if I could go and I said, “yes!” What a great way to actually take my day off. I asked her papa…what’s the weather going to be like? He replied, “Well, rainy and cold…so Oregon weather. Let’s go!”  So we put on our rain jackets and packed our snacks and went anyway even though it was raining and windy and cold…it was perfect. It was also great because there was hardly anyone there but most of the animals were out and awesome.

The picture above is the picture I took when we got to the lions. It was just awesome to see all of them out and present.  The one in front perked up at some point and was at alert as you can see. It was so gorgeous just to watch them and then to watch Clare watch them.  We were extremely close to orangutans and cheetahs, penguins and otters, and watched bears sleep away the cold.  The thing about going with a two year old is remembering that everything is super cool and deserves attention. The great big fish get as much awe as the amazing view of the lions.

I asked Clare at the end of the day what her favorite part of the day was as I picked her up to start back to the car.  She went silent. Her papa and I started chiding her…”the elephants? cheetos at lunch? the goats? seeing other kiddos?” Nothing. Just silence.  So we chuckled and headed back.  When we got in the car she said, “I have been thinking about what Tia asked.”  “What?” “She asked my favorite.” “Oh yeah! What did you decide?”  “The bunny!”  Earlier in the petting zoo she had gotten to be face to face with a very soft bunny and had petted her.  Clare took it all into consideration before answering.  This girl is a deep thinker.

I had the best time just remembering how each creature was amazing..true, you don’t get to all the places in one time (good thing we are all members) and yeah by the end of the day patience became a virtue.  BUT I just kept thinking about how important it is to do all that we can for the earth and our world for these munchkins who are just discovering their place in it.

There are so many exhibits at the zoo about earth preservation and caring for animals (as there should be) and it makes me lament about what we have already done in the world.  It makes me lament about the state of politics and neighbors killing other neighbors either right out or through our practices of pollution and consumerism.  It makes me cry out….Oh world, what we have done?

Jesus stands over Jerusalem and laments.  He laments about the city that doesn’t get it and he laments because he loves so deeply. He will do everything to create space for those redeeming it.  So should we.

Peace,
C