Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mr. Rogers and being thankful

One of my favorite TV shows as a child was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. You may recall his catchy song, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”, his cardigan sweaters, and his red toy trolley that traveled to the land of “make believe”. Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who was unsatisfied with television programming for children and created the well-known TV program that has become an icon in children’s television history.

Years after watching the program, I read a memoir by Tim Madigan called, ‘I’m proud of you’. In this book, I learned how important compassion and thanksgiving inspired Fred Rogers not only to reach out to the children of world, but also to singular individuals. After an interview conducted by Tim, Fred befriended him and became an important friend and mentor throughout his life. What could have been a one time meeting turned into life-changing friendship. Fred Rogers seemed to have an amazing ability to connect with people – and stay connected in meaningful ways. 

Some might not first consider friendship, mentor-ship and making children’s television programs to be mission work. But I disagree. I think Mr. Rogers life – professionally and personally – reflected God’s love in everyday but life-changing ways. I for one am very thankful for Fred Rogers example as well as Mr. Madigan’s book expressing gratitude for one person’s caring actions.

Gratitude is a powerful tool in the battle with discouragement and disillusionment. Gratitude is a gift God gives to us and helps us to find the “beautiful day” in the midst of the challenges in our everyday life.

Psalm 28:7 reads, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.” 

This Psalm helps to re frame where our strength comes from and reminds us that there is a song of thanksgiving that we are called to sing. Sometimes this song of thanks can help us to carry on in life, but other times it is a tune that projects out to those around us that are in great need of compassion – like Fred was for Tim.

Thanksgiving and compassion are more than a day or season to kick off the 2014 holiday season. Thanksgiving is what we carry in our hearts, put on like a cardigan sweaters and tie on our feel like comfortable walking shoes.

Thanksgiving is the foundation for starting to sing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor…won’t you be mine, won’t you be mine, won’t you be – my neighbor.”

Sing your song of thanksgiving – make a new friend and let the love and friendship God has given be what motivates action of love, encouragement and thanksgiving throughout your neighborhood and mine. Happy thanksgiving, neighbor.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Monday Sleeping with bread returns - Run the race

It's been quite a long time since I've posted a Monday Meme of "Sleeping with Bread".
Every Monday a lovely group of bloggers would gather to post reflections of thanksgiving on the bread that God had given for the week as well as the bread that was needed for walking the week ahead. 

Over the weekend, I have been working ahead for some bread to share this coming Sunday (Oct. 5th) at my home congregation at First Lutheran Church in Jamestown NY. What you find below is also a message that is part of my studies for an online Preaching class with Wartburg Seminary facilitated by Professor Samuel Giere . All this said, I am thinking that the message below, connected once again with the "Sleeping with Bread" Meme may be a good combination for conversation and encouragement to consider this question...

"What do I need to let go of, and what do I need to hold on to in the week ahead?"

If you like, take a few minutes to watch the video below (please keep in mind I am a student preacher) and ponder the question ...

"What do I desire to give to God...
what do I need to receive from God?"

May this week bring you hope - knowing you are not alone on the path - 
for we are walking together - and through the grace of Jesus - God walks with us.


                                          Image found at ELCA Facebook Page

PS. Dear Sleeping With Bread friends... I hope you'll give your insights and feedback. It's been too long since we've broken bread together. Mary Lue, Mel's Dream Bethany Rick Blaine

Friday, August 29, 2014

Use your hands

A reflection on Matthew 16:21-28

Do you know that there is something very special about your hands? There are 29 bones in each of your hands. Also there are 37 muscles that help your hands to move and pick things up. What is something that you do well with your hands?

Can you think of anything else that is really interesting about your hands?

Your fingerprints are really interesting!

Fingerprints are the tiny ridges, whorls and valley patterns on the tip of each finger. They form from pressure on a baby's tiny, developing fingers in the womb. No two people have been found to have the same fingerprints -- they are totally unique. There's a one in 64 billion chance that your fingerprint will match up exactly with someone else's.
Fingerprints are even more unique than DNA, the genetic material in each of our cells. Although identical twins can share the same DNA -- or at least most of it -- they can't have the same fingerprints.
(Info from article at "How Stuff Works".)

Your fingerprints are unique to you! In our lesson today Jesus tells his disciples to take up their “cross” and follow him. I know it can be hard to understand how we can carry a cross today, but I’d like to suggest that a good way to explain it might be by using the word – fingerprints- in place of cross. Your finger prints are unique and are a part of your hands. Our hands can be tools to serve God and care for people. You, your hands and your fingerprints have a unique way to serve God. So take up your hands and fingerprints – in your own unique way – and follow Jesus!

Prayer - From Last Tuesday's song "Empty" from Resolve...

I give all to make this thing, take it. What You need it. For Your will it's Yours. I won't need it, give it meaning. I give it up, take me make me, something new, I still believe. Still learning to let go..

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two tickets to childhood please

Yesterday I traveled about 2 hours southwest of my home to attend a class orientation for a new course in my seminary studies. The location I was headed was very close to a small amusement park that my family would visit each summer when I was a child: Conneaut Lake Park. While things never look the same as an adult as they did as a child, I was still anxious to stop by the park and see it - through adult eyes.

The day before, I had another chance to unexpectedly visit my childhood, when I met my fellow classmates for the new class. I missed general introductions when the rest of the class had started before arriving, so I gave a short bio and introduction late. As I told the class who I was, where I worked and what I was hoping to learn a fellow student chimed in...
Wait, you are from Warren County?
Do you know where the Agway in Youngsville is?
Yes - I grew up at the top of York Hill Road.
York Hill? I live on York Hill!!!
I'm Todd and I think I remember you when you were a little girl.
Now it was my turn to say - What?
I tentatively asked - "Did you ride a bus called Y14?"
Oh my - Yes! He replied.

This classmate that was now in my seminary class, used to ride my school bus and still lives on York Hill - 25 years later.

Life is weird.

Just when you think you are going to a place where no one will know you, you will find an unexpected connection. Sometimes these connections bring your eight year old perspective to your forty something life. What you thought was long gone - returns to remind you of your roots as well as that people can grow and change.

The amusement park is not what it used to be. Many of the rides have been torn down. The Midway is not as sparkly as I recall, but my feet used to walk there when I was a child. For that fact alone, my connection to that place remains.

Time passes - people change - amusement parks become weary; but connections remain.
We all are connected.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pot luck Theology with Antioch Session

Today a piece I've written was published at Antioch Session. If you like the post below about the Red Crock Pot and are hungry for more, go to read more about the main dish at the Church pot luck here at Antioch Session.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Red Crock Pot

It's been almost 14 years we've cooked together.
How may meals is that?
What curry was the best?
Remember the soup cook offs?
Do you remember? 
I do.
Hopes were tossed in.
Some spices and veggies too.
So much hunger we have abated together.
Choosing the temperature.
Setting the timer.

Let's keep on cookin.

Tara L. Eastman June 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sherlock Holmes, the tortoise, the hare, Dukan Diet and me

Pick up the phone and call Scotland Yard - I have a mystery for Sherlock Holmes!

My mystery was not a crime - but it was one of a nutritional and physical matter.

Last year due to repeated foot injuries, there came a time that I had to lay off the running habit that I'd established over a five year period. I'd gone from thinking I could never run a mile, to running a 5k and not thinking twice about running 2-3 miles 6 days a week. Progress had been made - and I didn't want to loose the ground I'd worked so hard to gain.

I'd never say that I was the "hare" kind of runner, but loosing my "tortoise" daily run was a difficult loss.

However, the injuries meant I'd have to rest from running. Unfortunately, that six months of  PT and rest led to me gaining the twenty pounds I'd lost from running over the last five years.

The mystery continues...

In response to the weight gain, I consulted a nutritionist, logged my calories and after 3 months had lost 7 pounds. It was progress, but not quite as much progress as I'd hoped for. Over the summer I tried a vegetarian diet, but did not see a significant change.By the fall, I was determined to find a solution so I could get back to running (less mass = less impact) and tried protein shakes two times a day for a month. At the end of that month I'd lost two pounds. After a year of food diaries and only nine pounds loss, I began to consider a plan that my friend Kathy had been working on with the help of her doctor.

Maybe with the group support and a doctor's insight - this mystery might be able to be solved?

Image found at Deviant Art

While I was amazed by her progress (she is now 60 pounds down from her starting place), it took some convincing for me to try this high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate plan. I decided to give it a month and see how the Dukan Diet worked.

In that month, I lost a little over ten pounds. My energy level was improving and my foot pain continued to decrease with the loss of mass. (less mass=less impact)

From December to the end of May, I've now lost 40 pounds and am approaching my goal.
Over the last six months I have lost weight, but my blood pressure (upper number) has dropped 25-30 points and I've discovered that I have some sensitivity to gluten. These are all good clues that lead me to think I'm getting closer to solving this mystery.

Let me clear to say that this change was not motivated to meet an ideal or accepted by the world around me. I have been and will continue to be a strong, sturdy, and healthy woman -it just turns out with this change in my diet that I'm a tad lighter than I thought was possible.

While I'm posting the before and current picture to show a physical change in my physical state, this change was not originally motivated to "change" my appearance. But the change in my appearance is conclusive evidence that there is a distinct difference seen over the last year to six months.

I'm happy to say that my love of running and being active are things that can continue to be a part of my life. Slowly, I'm hitting pavement - but (maybe this is wisdom from experience) I'm much kinder to my body than I used to be.

Slow and steady could be the answer to this mystery...

Left side - May 2014              Right side - October 2013

Making changes can be a difficult. In the last year there were many times I'd wish the Sherlock Holmes of nutrition would have shouted, "The solution is elementary, my dear..." Tara. But finding a solution to this running and nutrition mystery was no sprint (tee hee) - it was and continues to be a marathon. 

That said, progress on this mystery has been made. 

From one turtle to another, the Dukan Diet has been quite helpful to me in solving some nutritional mysteries. It may not be a sprint to reach your health goals, but slow and steady...remember this.......
really does win the race of life.

(Please make healthy changes with the help of your doctor - don't just take my word for gospel. I'm not a nutritionist - obviously!)

Happy mystery solving and be kind to you!

 Tortoise Tara