Thursday, January 26, 2012

Women Create is Jazzing things up!

Creative Arts of Women of Western NY is doing a great job of jazzing up life by lifting up women artists!

Coming on March 31st, the community of Jamestown, NY will be celebrating SWAN day (Support Women's Art Now) I'm honored to have one of my paintings in this wonderful show and to be featured in today's Women Create blog segment.

My friend and amazing photographer Heather Mencer took the photos of me for an additional photo flag book that is in the works of being compiled for this upcoming Art Show.

Thanks for supporting the arts - they have a way of jazzing things up don't they?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ubi Caritas - live in charity



Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas Deus ibi est.

Live in charity and steadfast love.
Live in charity; God will dwell with you.

Charity is a word that most people don't use - or don't like to use. When I think of charity the phrase "Don't live off others charity", comes to mind. Somehow, charity's meaning has shifted to the space of being dependent on a great benefactor or bleeding off of someone else for something you want.

According to dictionary.com, charity is:
char·i·ty   [char-i-tee]

noun, plural -ties.
1.generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one's life to charity.
2.something given to a person or persons in need; alms: She asked for work, not charity.
3.a charitable act or work.
4.a charitable fund, foundation, or institution: He left his estate to a charity.
5.benevolent feeling, especially toward those in need or in disfavor: She looked so poor that we fed her out of charity.

When considering the definitions above, giving out of charity is something that is motivated out of love, concern, and selflessness. While I like to think of myself as an independent person, when looking at this definition I realize that I have been and will continue to be a recipient of charity. I've received charity from friends, family and ultimately - from God. Charity is the action motivated by love, compassion and care for someone else. Charity moves people to a place of active love, where needs are met, faith is encouraged and love is given generously. Just as the Taize chorus says:

Live in charity and steadfast love.
Live in charity; God will dwell with you.

Either in giving or receiving charity - God dwells there, and that is the place I want to live.

Each Wednesday at First Lutheran Church of Jamestown a small group gathers for prayer, scripture reading, and singing. This week our song is Ubi Caritas - Live in Charity. Chapel opens at noon, prayers begin at 12:15 - all are welcome.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Free Car Wash Prayer Time


Image found at Colima Car Wash.

Do you have a point card for a convenience or grocery store? Last week, when filling up my car with gas and coffee mug with coffee; I was surprised to receive a "Free Car Wash" at the checkout. After a lot of slushy, salt covered winter driving; the car wash coupon could not have come at a better time - for me and my winter weary Dodge Stratus.

I have a thing for automatic car washes. I love the sound of water whooshing, the juicy-fruit smell of the soap, colorful stripes of bubbles streaming down my windshield and how my car is gently pulled through the car wash bay.

At first, the two men worked on my car by spraying and brushing the excess dirt and ice buildup away. When I pulled into the car wash bay, I carefully lined up my wheels to rest on the tracking to be led through the wash process. I was told to place my car in neutral and release the brake.

I shifted gears but nothing happened. I looked down and saw that I had shifted to reverse - not neutral. My car was working against the tracking belt. No one was going anywhere. I adjusted the gear correctly and entered the full sensory experience of the automatic car wash.

While sitting in my car, I was reminded of how important it is to place myself in the neural and sacred space of prayer. As the water whooshed, the pulley pulled and the bubbles did their work; I closed my eyes and prayed.

I prayed for God to lead me in my decisions, for the help to shift to when I need to be in neutral - when I'm actually in reverse or drive, to allow for the washing away of things that need to go - in order to move forward. Similar to a worship service, that free car wash placed me in a sacred space of prayer where I could remember my baptism and receive God's love.

My car wasn't the only thing going through a transformation inside that car wash bay. Through that short time of prayer, I was reminded that my life can be placed in God's hands, that the debris that gunk’s things up can be washed away, and if I'm willing to shift into the neutral stance - prayer can change things. Prayer can change me.

Take my advice, that if you win a free car wash be sure you cash the coupon in. Not only will your car be clean and shiny - but so will you, as long as you remember to shift into neutral!

Dear God - Don't allow me see prayer as a routine task to be completed. Move me to prayer, so it can be the vehicle to process every part of life. Through prayer, help me to shift out of reverse or drive and into the neutral space where you can work in and through me. Amen

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.