Friday, August 31, 2012

Scrabble cup cakes and Seminary

Image found @: The Cupcake Blog

when I graduate from Seminary I want to 
celebrate with "Scrabble" cup cakes.
Because, the only way I'll make it to graduation day
 is one letter, word and sentence at a time.

Earlier this week, I applied to the "Castle" Wartburg Seminary's:
TEEM program (Theological Education for Emerging Ministries).

Lot's of work had already gone into getting to this point.
(Three years of essays, prayer, interviews, and more have gone into
this discernment process that is called " ELCA Candidacy".)

Good thoughts, prayers, and maybe a Scrabble game or two
are welcome as I wait to hear if I start classes in September.

One letter, word and sentence at a time.
Seminary? Yes. Seminary.
It feels good to share this word with you.

Don't graduate from kindergarten

Image found at Coupon Phenomenon

September has arrived, Labor Day is only days away, college students are already taking classes, and local schools doors are going to open Tuesday morning. Student's are excited and maybe a little nervous about going back to or going to school for the first time. New back packs are filled with not yet used pens, pencils and notebooks. Shiny sneakers wait by the door to take squeaky steps into a school year filled with new rules, lessons and opportunities to grow.

The call back to structure and schedule isn't just for students, but for everyone. 
I have to admit, that as much as I like to resist structure at times; that it does help me to find a greater sense of balance. My days have a more defined beginning, middle and end once fall returns. Once the basics are in place, my life is more balanced. 

Robert Fulghum, author and speaker is a person that thinks the "basics" of life are all one needs to thrive.

Robert Fulgham has written many books, but the one that he most famous for was published in 1986 and is called " All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten". 

                                                          Image found at

Here is an expert from the book, just in case you haven't heard about it before:

"All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
These are the things I learned:
  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don't hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don't take things that aren't yours.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK." (All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten Copyright 1986).

The old testament and new testament readings this week (Deuteronomy 4: 1-2,6-9 and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23), also are a call back to the basics of the ten commandments found in Exodus 20: These commands were given directly by God to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai after He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

The First Commandment
You shall have no other gods.
The Second Commandment
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
The Third Commandment
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
The Fourth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother.
The Fifth Commandment
You shall not murder.
The Sixth Commandment
You shall not commit adultery.
The Seventh Commandment
You shall not steal.
The Eighth Commandment
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
The Ninth Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
The Tenth Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
For more on the Ten Commandments and Luther's Small Cathechism: Visit Concordia
Robert Fulghum's kindergarten basics list is not the same as the listing from Exodus' ten commandments, but they capture the spirit of building a life on something greater than personal whim and self-direction. In both of the readings today, the call back to the basics of faith, rings through loud and clear.

In the Deuteronomy reading, Moses is preparing to send the Israelite people out into the world and reminds them that the moral and spiritual demand upon them was unique. Moses wanted to be sure that the people and their children would remember and live according to the covenant that God had made with them.

Do not add(D) to what I command you and do not subtract(E) from it, but keep(F) the commands(G) of the Lord your God that I give you." (v.2)

" careful,(S) and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach(T) them to your children(U) and to their children after them." (v.9)

In the Mark reading, Jesus challenges the criticism the Pharisees speak to his disciples by reminding them to return to the basics of faith in quoting the prophet Isaiah...

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[b](F)
 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions." (v.6-8)

The new rules the religious leaders had added involved requiring all people to follow rituals that were hardships or unnecessary for the majority of people to ascribe to. These new rules made it difficult for new believers and Gentiles to participate in the faith community. Jesus desired to draw all people into God's covenant, not exclude people based on race, status, or ability to follow man made to do lists.

God's covenant is a reminder that we always need to be open to his instruction. The challenge to follow God's 10 commandments is hard enough without adding more man-made requirements. These basics remind us of our great need for God's grace and forgiveness. Our God is unique in that his commandments come from a place of love and a desire for us to live whole lives in community. While no one technically deserves to dwell with God, we are invited into that place by his gracious hospitality. As children of God we have been called, like Noah, Abraham and David, not to be sinless, but to live lives that are completely oriented to and dependent upon God.

The basics of faith are a means of maintaining, growing and staying connected to our God. This relationship is one that provides a solid foundation for us and our children to build faith lives that will not be moved. God's care and covenant with us is complete. Nothing needs to be added or taken away from his promises.

Returning to the basics can take some adjustment, just like going back to school. While you have moved on since kindergarten, the lessons learned there continue to be valuable today. God's basics are something we never graduate from. They are our traveling companions, our rule of life and our daily reminders that those who trust God will always have a solid foundation for facing the world; they will not be moved - no matter what happens in class. 

Welcome back to the basics of faith, these lessons and the wisdom that come from them last forever.

Prayer: Heavenly Father:
In this coming school year, help us to get back to the basics of faith and relationship with you. Subtract what keeps us from you, and add what helps us live the life you dream for us. Help us to grow in faith, trusting that you are faithful to help us live gracious lives just as we have been recipients of your amazing grace. Amen.

Ideas to ponder and comment back:

What basics help keep you motivated to grow in your faith?
What is your natural tendency?
 To (A) go with the flow or (B)follow a routine?
How might a routine or basic rule of life help your to grow in faith?
Where do the basics need to be plugged in?
Why do you think that basics are so helpful?

This weeks complete readings: 
Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9 New International Version (NIV)
Now, Israel, hear the decrees(A) and laws I am about to teach(B) you. Follow them so that you may live(C) and may go in and take possession of the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add(D) to what I command you and do not subtract(E) from it, but keep(F) the commands(G) of the Lord your God that I give you.

Observe(M) them carefully, for this will show your wisdom(N) and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”(O) What other nation is so great(P) as to have their gods near(Q) them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws(R) as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Only be careful,(S) and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach(T) them to your children(U) and to their children after them.'

Mark 7: 1-8,14-15, 21-23 

 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled,(B) that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.(C) When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.[a])(D)
So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders(E) instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[b](F)
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”(G)

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” [16] [f]

20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder,22 adultery, greed,(Q) malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

1000 moments to celebrate!

A moment, a love, a dream, aloud
A kiss, a cry, our rights, ours wrongs
won't stop till its over...


(Music, lyrics and video to Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap.)

32, 243 Views.

Reorganized on 1/20/09.
Thoughtful comments for three years.
I wish I could count the number of words that have been posted here at Uphill Idealist.
Today, though I can celebrate the 1000 moments that are represented by the 1000 posts at this corner of the web. But, more than counting posts or words, I hope the words, ideas, and art posted here have made a difference - for good's sake.

Thank you to followers, readers and friends like IanPam, Mary Lue and Mel that have walked alongside this idealist that keeps on trekking up all those hills.

Thank you to those who have shared the...

moments, love, dreams, kisses, cries, rights, wrongs of this wandering, wondering and hopeful 

Uphill Idealist. 
I am hopeful.

Don't worry - 1000 posts does not mean this is over. 
This journey has only begun.

                                         Image found at

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rooted and growing with Parish Collective

Rooted & Linked from Parish Collective on Vimeo.

My new friend Paul Sparks, who I met at Inhabit Conference this Spring, is going to be hitting the road and heading to the East coast to share about his ongoing work with Parish Collective. He hopes to meet with local leaders of non-profits, churches, and community organizations to develop networks to respond to the needs of grass roots communities.

Late in September, we hope to host Paul at First Lutheran Church, in order to make daring steps into mission in the mist of our local neighborhoods. If you live in the Buffalo to Chautauqua area, please leave a comment if you would like to take part in this network.

Grace and peace,