Thursday, January 22, 2015

Delight your heart...

In the fall of 2010 I was introduced to TED talks.  I watched an eighteen minute talk by researcher and storyteller - Brene’ Brown. ( If you haven't seen a TED talks they have become an international phenomenon,  where people from various and unlimited backgrounds share short talks that are: “Ideas worth sharing”. (For more information on TED talks – look online here:

Brene’ Brown captured my attention in her short talk when she talked about the difference between divided living in contrast with “whole-hearted” living. Through her extensive research, Brene’ discovered an essential ingredient to “whole-hearted” living – vulnerability.

She claims that vulnerability is an important key to living out lives in the place of wholeheartedness. The more I listened to her words, the louder my own heart pounded. The words I heard were making something deep inside me sit up and take notice. 

Once my perspective on vulnerability shifted, I began to see how vulnerability allows a person to be sincere and honest about whom they are as well as who they aren’t. Vulnerability, frees people from attempts to be perfect - because we aren’t no matter how hard we try. This freedom from perfection and living in vulnerability are necessary steps (according to Ms. Brown) to living a whole-hearted life.

The more I consider it, living a whole-hearted life looks like living in a way that a person gains greater understanding of who they are as well as what delights their heart in what they do every day.

Perhaps whole-hearted living could lead to experiencing greater joy, peace, and contentment? What do you think?

Psalm 37:4 is a scripture about “whole hearted” living. Sometimes its been read and understood to mean: …”Obey God and you will get what you want.”

But what it actually says is this… “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

A person that delights in the Lord is one that understands they are not perfect – but a forgiven child of God. A person that delights in the Lord, is someone freed to live life in a “whole-hearted” way – trusting God in good and bad times.

Living “whole-heartedly” and “delighting in the Lord” call us to new places and unfamiliar ways of being and living, but these are ways of living that are truly free. Living “whole-heartedly” might not be comfortable, but it’s a challenge that allows all of us to live  - all parts of life.

Years ago, I had no idea of how Ms. Brown’s first talk about “whole-hearted” living would stick with me. As I learn more how vulnerability helps make space for growth, development, experimenting and change - I'm also challenged to take uncomfortable AND more whole-hearted steps in life.

Do you think that daring to live a more vulnerable life sounds like an exciting and whole-hearted “idea” worth sharing? 

I do too. 

True Sisterhood will be reading and meeting to discuss the book “Daring Greatly” by Brene’ Brown starting Thursday February 5th. The group meets at First House at 116 Chandler Street from 6:30 to 8pm for a 6 week book study. Please contact Tara for more book or group information.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Mix tape for 2015

This article first appeared in First Lutheran Church's January 2015 newsletter, but I share it here because the message of what "track" we listen to and live by has legs here as well. Thank you for your grace on the context, and may this track be one that is life-giving to you in the days to come.

We are on the heels of the Christmas season and there has been some time to pause and reflect on the story of the Christ child and the message of love and forgiveness God brings to us through him. You have heard the story of the Nativity from the Sunday School youth of our church, heard beautiful music proclaiming the gospel from our choir led by Kimberly King, and perhaps have listened to the Jamestown High School A’ Capella Choir sing for the vespers service (the 90th year anniversary by the way.) There has been a great deal of proclamation as well a much to take in and listen to.
Personally, this last week of Advent has been a challenge for me as I’ve been without a voice due to a case of laryngitis. I’ve not been able to speak – so listening has had to be my focus.

But all this listening has helped me remember a tradition that young people used to participate in about 20-25 years ago. This tradition was called, “making a mix tape”. 

Friends and boyfriends/girlfriends would choose their favorite songs and records them in a selected order and give them as gifts. Sometimes the songs would be favorites that the friends shared, reminders of happy times, or proclamations to tell someone how you really feel. Making mix tapes (or Cds) was a way to send a message, claim the importance of a relationship and use music as the messenger. When it comes down to it mix tapes/cds whole purpose was to share love with another person.
You may have never made or received a mix tape/cd before, but at some point you have either given or received a message of love. While people are not perfect and our messages can get messed up at times, sending and receiving a message of love is an important part of being human. I’d go so far to say that it is an essential part of being human. Love messages are essential to people because a love message from God to us is in our ‘make-up’. God created people in love and we can’t get away from our need to see, hear and share God’s love with others – even when we don’t get it perfect.
Mix tape and cds aren’t perfect either. There are gaps in songs, there are squeaks and pops in the recording and sometimes you run out of room on the label to write all the song titles. No matter that mix tapes/cds are not perfect, they are still worth the effort because what they communicate: “You are loved.”

John 3:16-17 says 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
In Jesus Christ, God sent us a perfect “mix tape” to tell us that we are loved. This message is one that we never get tired of hearing or sharing, because it’s the one message we need to hear over everything else.
For this New Year, it might be fun to create a mix tape/cd to remind yourself and those you love how you feel about them. What songs would you choose? Who would you make a give a mix tape/cd too?
Mix tape messages are remind the hearer, you are loved!” This message – and God’s, is one we all need to set to “repeat” – to hear all year long.

Happy 2015!

Friday, November 07, 2014

14 Day of Courage - Day 1: Your Inspiration

Starting today begins a 14 day challenge to post images that inspire courage. For the next two weeks, I'll be posting one image a day to participate in this visual adventure in courage. If you would like to join in the challenge, just follow the guide for themes and add the hashtag #14DaysofCourage.

Have courage!

Day one image: Your Inspiration
Title: Emmanuel "God with us"

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.