Small blessings…


I was reminded by one of the elders at St. Andrew’s this week, that it is a very good thing to take pleasure in small blessings. This elder was sharing that he had waited for the bitter macintosh apples to be in season, and as our meeting began he was eating his first bitter macintosh…and it was wonderful.

Sometimes life is so overwhelmingly busy. Right now I am in one of those seasons. Days seem to pass without much time for taking a deep breath, never mind taking stock of the small blessings I have enjoyed. So right this minute, I am taking stock. Here are a few of the small blessings I have experienced – despite a busy and (weather-wise) gloomy day:

– Koski and I got out for an hour’s walk this afternoon…in the only hour of (intermittent) sunshine that I saw today. The light was cold, a winter kind of sunshine, but it was so welcome and it made me smile.

– I laughed with friends this afternoon. And I knew God was present in our midst.

– I made the tastiest butternut squash soup today. I have NEVER made a successful butternut squash soup before – I have always preferred those made by others. But today, I made one that I know I will enjoy eating all week. And it’s a very healthy recipe (here is the recipe, before you ask!).

– I got to sleep in this morning. I only allow myself one day per week without an alarm, and boy – do I enjoy it when it comes!

– I had some mini-eggs this evening. They are pretty much my favorite milk chocolate, ever. One little package, 4 PointsPlus – an indulgence that makes all the days of not having sugar worth it!

– I had a little misunderstanding with my Mom over email that made me burst out laughing when I realized my mistake. It was silly and frivolous, but it was good to laugh out loud.

You see – I wouldn’t count today as one of the better days of the week. Lots of things made today difficult (not the least of which was the fact that we were having SLEET in OCTOBER, weather that I take as a personal insult). But even on the not-the-best days, there are so many small things to be thankful for, to see the blessing of God in.

I hope that you – when you are eating a bitter macintosh apple, walking your dog, eating a good homemade meal, or laughing with friends – will see that these things are good gifts from a Heavenly Father who loves you.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17 NIV

Being Christ…


I was at a meeting this evening where an issue was raised about how all of the people at the meeting (elders and ministers, for the most part) treated each other. We were reminded that we are not always very “Christian” to each other.

It was a good reminder. The reality is that those of us in full-time ministry and those of us who have served the church in a long-time capacity (like that of being an elder), sometimes forget that we are called to be Jesus to each other. That we are called to embody the very spirit and manner of the One who gave his life for our salvation. We are called to treat each other with love and and kindness and gentleness. Peace and hope and faithfulness are meant to be at the center of our comments and conversations. Joyfulness and patience and goodness and self-control are supposed to ooze out of us. (In case your keeping count, yes, those ARE all the fruits of the Spirit.)

And yet, all too often, I have been in church meetings where this was not the case. People spoke harshly, shaming and blaming others. Someone got their back up and someone else responded with sarcasm or derision. Hurts were dealt out in equal measure by people on both sides of the issue.

And I think I heard Jesus weeping.

The fact is it is not always easy to keep our tempers in check. When you gather together a group of ministers and elders, you have a bunch of people who care passionately about the church. And sometimes our passions get the better of us.

But we need to remember (and I say this for myself as much as anyone else) our calling. We are called to be Christ. We are called to embody the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to lead by example. We are called to act in ways that honor the teachings of Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV



In the community of faith, where I serve as Associate Minister, we have suffered a number of losses in the past 9 months or so. Many of these have been sudden and unexpected. Death comes to us all, and the Bible tells us that our days are numbered. No one knows when or how their life will end.

Most of us live as though we have an endless supply of time. But we don’t. And I’ve been thinking about what it means to leave a legacy once you are gone. When I think of the church members we have lost, I am touched to be able to say that each one made an impact on me. If asked, I could speak about the legacy these followers of Jesus built up over their lifetime…even though I only knew them for a couple of years.

I am not saying they were perfect people – none of us are – but they lived and loved in ways that would cause God to say “Well done!” when their lives were over.

Though I often get a lot of good-natured teasing in the church about my age (people always think I’m younger than I am, but at 37 years old, I am still on the very young end of the scale in church world), I feel like I am more aware than I have ever been about the passing of time and how very short life can be.

Each kindness we do to another, each time we give a little hope to someone in despair, each time we great another with a smile or a hug – we are building up a legacy. When we do these things we are being Christ to others. And that is the best legacy of all. As we do these things, we are ‘storing up treasures in Heaven’ and putting our hearts in exactly the right place.

So if there is someone in your life who could use a kindness or a word of hope, or a hug or a smile, do not hesitate to be generous with these things. Time may be short, but we all can choose to live in a way that brings Heaven to Earth and gives glory to God.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moths and vermin do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:20-21 NLT



Thursday of Holy Week is called Maundy Thurday. Maundy means “mandate” and is a reference to the new commandment Jesus have his disciples while at table with them:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34, 35 NLT

This is also the night on which the first Communion (Lord’s Supper, Eucharist) was celebrated. It was the night during which Judas lead the chief priests to the garden of Gethsemane an betrayed Jesus with a kiss. It was during this night that Jesus healed the soldier’s ear. And it was during this night that Peter denied Christ three times.

These stories are so well known to me. And every year they bring me to tears. I believe it was all part of God’s plan from the beginning. I believe it all had to happen exactly as it did. I believe Jesus knew exactly what he would face in the final days of his life. And I believe he went there willingly, out of his deep love for humanity.

Still, it breaks my heart that his pain and suffering was necessary. And it continues to be necessary because of me…because of us.

This is a tough night for me each year, in my walk of faith, and tomorrow will be even more difficult. But you can’t get to the salvation am celebration of Easter without walking through the dark and difficult days leading up to it. And there are things to be learned on a dark night like this. Not the least of which is how very thankful I am that Jesus went there for me, and for you.

Finding balance…


The last two days have been kind of crazy. Packed full of activity – lunch with friends, back-up singing at an Elvis impersonator’s concert (I never get sick of dropping that detail into conversation!), Christmas shopping, addressing Christmas cards, cooking, buying turkey(s). It’s been a bit of a whirlwind.

So on the night before the Advent Sunday of Peace, I find myself reflecting on the lack of balance I’ve had this week. It has been full of one thing and another. It has been sadly lacking in peace and rest.

I found myself at the local mall this morning. I had gotten too little sleep the night before and had too many things on my to-do list, and now that I think about it…I was one of those grumpy joyless people that make me frustrated at this time of year. Now that I’m on the right side of a good long nap with my dog, some time spent with friends, and the completing of so many things on my list, I realize I could have actually enjoyed this morning. I could have spread all my errands over a few days. I could have stopped and taken it all in rather than rushing from one moment to the next. I could have found the balance between getting it done, and enjoying the moment.

Micah, the prophet, wrote:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you,
one whose origins are from the distant past.
The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies
until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
will return from exile to their own land.
And he will stand to lead his flock
with the Lord’s strength,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
And he will be the source of peace.

Micah 5:2-5 NLT

Part of the problem with my experience this morning was that I got so focused on the list of things to do, that I forgot the reason I was doing it all. In the end, it is all to honor Jesus. To celebrate that moment when Love came down from heaven and dwelt among us.

Micah says that Jesus is meant to be the source of our peace. So I will try to make him the center of my celebrations from now on. I will try to smile when it might be easier to scowl. I will tap into the source of my peace, and remember that this is about him first and foremost. I will pray that you will be able to do the same.

I like this. A lot!

So if you have been a Christian for more than about 5 minutes, you have probably heard the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.” my friend Nancy posted this AWESOME take on that saying on FB the other day. Ever since seeing it, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.


Mark Lowry likes to play the lovable idiot. But dude is SMART. This reminded me of Teddy Roosevelt’s saying: comparison is the thief of joy. I think the world would be a much better place if we could all learn to take care of our own mess, instead of worrying about the messes of others.

Jesus had something to say on that matter, too. He said, worry about the plank (read: big honkin’ piece of wood) in your own eye before you point out the speck (read: tiny, barely noticeable flake of wood) in your brother’s (read: fellow human being) eye.

It isn’t an easy command to follow, and Jesus knows I fail at it regularly, but it certainly is something I continue to work on. And I am convinced it is one of the secrets to world peace.


Today I had the rare opportunity to sit in worship and listen to my Father preach. It struck me as I listened, that there was a time when I did that every Sunday. And it struck me how long ago those childhood times are.

Listening to my Dad preach is a return to my roots. It was in those childhood days of watching and listening to my Dad that I learned most of what I know about leading worship. My Dad likes to tell me I am a good preacher, but as I listened to him today, I knew that any ability I have as a preacher has its roots in listening to him.

We are each our own person when we preach, but we also share phrases and language and theology. And that is kind of a beautiful thing. I love the thought that I am myself, but I am also my father. I love the thought that his fingerprints can be seen in me.

I am blessed to have been given great roots. I grew up knowing that I was loved more than I could ever imagine by One who died for me. And that out of that love, God had granted my folks the ability to love others. And God granted me the same ability.

I am convinced that it is because of such strong roots that my life flourishes now. And today, I have been reminded of my roots and I am thankful for them.

Be weird…

A friend posted this on Facebook today, and I just had to steal it:


I am convinced that if the people of Jesus’ time spoke in our vernacular, they would have called him weird and random. Sometimes he answered the questions he was asked, but a lot of the time he went in a totally different direction. A lot of the time he used story and metaphor to get at the thing behind the thing he was being asked about. A lot of the time he chose to do what didn’t make sense to others and to teach lessons that went against the grain of society.

I like that about Jesus. Whenever I read the biographies of his life (aka Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), I feel like we’re seeing a real person. Not one who presents himself in a way that will be most palatable to those around him. I struggle with this sometimes. I am a people pleaser, though I think God is slowly curing me of that tendency. I could learn something from Jesus’ ability to just be who he was.

And who he was, was so very wonderful. The Son of God, the Word that was spoken at creation, the lamb who laid down his life for our sin, the love of God in flesh and blood.

So my friends, be weird, be random, be who you are. Because God made you and you are loved just as you are.


Tonite at our Wednesday night group, we discussed what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. For someone like me who has always been in church, it’s sometimes hard to define that word. A disciples is a disciple….?

So it was good that we were supposed to come up with a list finishing this sentence:

A disciple of Jesus…

We came up with:

A disciple of Jesus…
-displays the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control, faithfulness, goodness)
-is in communication with Jesus (ie, prays!)
-reads AND APPLIES the Bible
-keeps the two great commandments: love God and love others

All of which are great things for a disciple to do. But then we talked about the fact that a disciple is also more than these things. Because a disciple is in relationship with Jesus. And the relationship thing is kind of ethereal. I can tell you about the things I do with my friend, for example, but our friendship is more than the things we do together. It’s the same with Jesus. It is about believing and doing, but it’s also about more than that.

Maybe the ‘more than that’ is what we mean when we talk about faith.

Happy Valentine’s…

So all day Facebook has been lighting up with updates that have to do with Valentine’s Day. Some are quotes about love, some are friends sharing pictures of gifts received, some are comments on dinners shared. It’s been really sweet to see people sharing their feelings this way.

There is a popular thought out there that Valentine’s Day is all about selling chocolate and flowers. That real couples would be best to ignore the 14th of February, in favour of celebrating their love every day. And part of me likes that thought. I certainly like the idea of non-commercial celebrations. But (forgive me if this offends you), often I have noticed a certain smugness in those who ignore Valentines. It’s an attitude that seems to say that they have the best way figured out, and that all those who buy chocolate and flowers, bake dinners, make heart-shaped cookies, send cards, or celebrate in any way are foolish.

As a single girl, who has never once celebrated Valentine’s Day with someone special in my life, I find myself bothered by that. I would really enjoy doing something special on the 14th of February with the man I love. I hope that my future holds some of those celebrations in it. And I hope, when I do get to celebrate that way, no one will think that I need some special day in order to celebrate my love. I hope that those who know me would be able to see that it is simply something I enjoy.

(Now, before I go any further, let me say this: I am not wallowing in self-pity as a single person on Valentine’s Day. In fact, I kept forgetting it was V-Day, only to be reminded again with each new post. And I enjoyed my day immensely.)

But I will say that all the images, quotes and comments have given me a bit of a case of love-on-the-brain. I’ve been thinking about love today. What it means when it is real. How people fall in it and then fall back out of it. How some people never seem to find it and others seem to find it too often.

When I think of love – even in reaction to pink candy hearts or schmaltzy movies or red roses – part of my brain always goes to Jesus. There is a song I adore, written from the first-person perspective of Jesus and it starts off “I have always been a lover, since before I drew a breath. And somethings I’ve loved easy, and some I’ve loved to death.” (Derek Webb, Lover)

Jesus teaches us what love is supposed to look like. Not necessarily romantic love (although I believe He can teach us about that, too), but any kind of love. For friends or family or the stranger who passes you on the street.

Jesus said: “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” (John 15:12, MSG)

What if the whole world learned to love each other that way?