Saturday, July 22, 2017

retirement thoughts part 2

So here is one thing I do not miss from my working days:  the pressure.  As a pastor there is a lot of pressure.

Parishioners have expectations......

  • The sermon better be good.
  • You better come see me in the hospital.
  • You better make good decisions.
  • You better not lose that family.
  • you better get along with everyone
  • don't lose that staff person
  • don't upset that person


The Methodist bosses have expectations.....

  • You better keep the church growing.
  • You better pay your apportionments.
  • You better come to all of the meetings.


I don't think most people realize the kind of pressure that is on a pastor.  You enter this job because you have a calling, and then suddenly people and systems are piling on the pressure.  Maybe there is nothing to do about that, but I have to tell you I do not miss the pressure of keeping it all going.

God bless and guide those who are still working to make the churches great.  It is hard work.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, July 21, 2017

retirement thoughts part 1

So, on the one hand, this is a lot of fun.  I wake up in the morning when I want to.  No pressure.  I say to myself, "What will I do today?"  My self answers, "I don't know, what day is it?"  I talk to my kids and they can't wait for the weekend.  I ask myself.... what is a weekend?

My typical day consists of working around the house in the morning.  Painting something.  Building something.  Trimming palm trees.  If I have handyman work for someone else, of course that takes precedence.

In the afternoon I swim and read.  At night I watch movies.  Sometimes we go out for dinner.

Honestly I am having a blast but I feel kind of guilty.  Should I?

It's a beautiful carefree day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

was it?

A friend sent this in about something that they learned in their home growing up.

Was it???

Many days I realize that I am just a composite of all that I’ve learned from other people (parents, teachers, pastors, friends, and of course from God.)   Here’s one on the long list of how others have influenced my life.   If your home is like ours, you say things among family members, that you wouldn’t say to others.  Sometimes unkind words, opinions of others, or judgement of others just kind of slips out.  You know how it goes.  Someone at church, at work, or in the neighborhood says or does something that irritates you, and your family finds out how you felt about it.

We learned something valuable, from a pastor’s sermon one time, that we still say in our family, to challenge each other to have good attitudes toward people.  The pastor gave an example of something someone said about another person, and then he said “was that true, necessary, or kind?”  That has become kind of a catch phrase in our home.  One family member will say to the other “was that true, necessary or kind?


Well, was it???

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

do it anyway

There is another wonderful song that came to my mind the other day. Cindy Harris used to sing it in church and oh my could she knock it out of the park. It is a Martina McBride song.

You can spend your whole life building something from nothing
One storm can come and blow it all away ... build it anyway
You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way ... dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway ... I do it anyway

This worlds gone crazy and it's hard to believe,
That tomorrow will be better than today ... believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart, for all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away ... love em anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway ... yeah, I do it anyway

You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway ... yeah, sing it anyway yeah, yeah

I sing ... I dream ... I love ... Anyway


Here is a link to the song


It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

That's the way I feel about you

Early in 2004 I got an anonymous hate letter from a member of the congregation.  One of the lines in it said, "if your preaching ever had any significance, it is totally gone now."  Church folks can be so nice sometimes.  Receiving that letter crushed me.  I remember sobbing and sobbing.  I looked for a counselor.

I was fortunate to find a wonderful counselor who I went to see for the next few years.   A year after Katrina hit, she left KC and moved to New Orleans to help people there.  Losing her as a support piece in my life was pretty tough, but she helped me so very much.  We never had lunch or anything, but we had become friends.

At our last meeting, she gave me a copy of this song.  It brought me to tears.  From time to time I think of those whom I love that I don't get to see very often.  I think of people who I looked out and saw in the pews every Sunday.

I think of how much I love you and miss you.

Here is the link to the song.
That's the way I feel about you by Jana Stanfield

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Democrats and Republicans


Are you a Democrat? Congratulations.
Are you a Republican? Congratulations.

As a Christian, we are called to love one another. Do you shame the opposition party on social media? Is this what Jesus would do?  Do you have ill will towards the other candidate? The other party? Do you pull up behind a car with a bumper sticker for the other side and feel ill will?  Is this what Jesus would do?

What ever happened to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness and self-control?

Jesus calls us to something higher.
We are called to love each other.
Even those of the other party.  Especially those of the other party.  Love your enemies.

It is time for Christian people, for Methodist Christian people to stop posting hateful things about the other party.

20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.  
     1 John 4:20-21

This is God's world, and he cares little for our petty differences. He calls us to love all. Period. Let's do it.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

faith and knowing

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Faith is believing and holding to something, precisely when you don't know.

Too many Christians have turned this upside down.  To some, their faith has made them "know it alls."  Attacking others with doctrine and beliefs, they have become those who "know."  The problem with this is that true spiritual knowledge comes not when we know, but when we realize how much we do not know.  Spirituality is emptying myself of the notion that I know it all or I have it all together.  Spirituality is not about knowing, it is about loving and trusting.

And so we have faith in a God that is bigger than us.  A God who loves us and forgives us.  A God that does not need us to have all the answers.  Faith - it's not about what you know or what I think I know.  It is about leaning on the God whose ways are higher than our ways and whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

failure to thrive

I was raised in a home where there was no joy, no hugs, no kisses, and no I love you's.  Maybe that is why I have been wanting to write about the concept "failure to thrive."  Although it can refer to many different circumstances, I read about it somewhere and it was described like this..... a lack of growth or development, a decline in health in a child or adult, for no presenting reason.  In other words, someone is clearly not doing well, and there appears to be no medical reason why.

One study suggested that failure to thrive comes from a lack of physical touch.  Babies not being held.  Older adults losing loved ones and living alone.

The point of this post is this:  pet the cat, scratch the dog's belly, hold your children, your spouse and those you love.  The warm fuzzies that come from your kindness may just drive away the blues and fill a person's day with joy.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sunday's Sermon

Rembrandt's Prodigal Son
[smug Elder son to the right]
I think that this is going to make Sunday's sermon.  We shall see.

It is a thought about the Prodigal Sons.  I am pretty sure Richard Rohr is the source for this thought.  Prodigal sons, not son, but sons.

When we hear the story of the Prodigal, our brain tends to think that he is the bad one in the story and the Elder son is the good guy.  But they both have it wrong.  The Prodigal thinks that he is too bad to be loved by the Father.  The Elder insists that he is good enough to be loved by the Father.  Both wrong.

We are loved.  Period.  I love my kids so much.  I welcome them, I hug them, whether they are being good or not.  SO DOES GOD.  There is no losing his love, and there is no earning his love.  You are simply loved.

That my friend, is Good News!

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the boulder

In Pastor Tim's sermon on Sunday he mentioned the Albert Camus story about the man who is pushing a boulder up a hill.

Camus believed that life was void of meaning.  He said it was like the character Sisyphus from Greek mythology who spent his life pushing a boulder up a mountain only to see it roll down again.

Pastor Tim said that this is what life is like for those who are trying to earn their standing with God.  Those who are trying hard to be good enough.... it's like rolling a boulder up a high hill, when you get to the top you lean on it to rest for a moment, and the boulder rolls down the other side.  No matter how hard you work at trying to be good enough, it never works.

This is not bad news.  This is good news.  Really good news.  We cannot earn the love of God.  We have it already.  Stop the mental and doctrinal gymnastics of trying to be perfect.  Just enjoy life.  Celebrate it!  Live it!  God loves you.  Stop pushing the boulder.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

jokes

I love jokes and I have a million of them.  Most are clean, except the ones that I learned from Ben.  Anyway, I love jokes.  I always have.  Since yesterday's date prompted a joke, I thought I would post a few today, just for fun.

What do you name a dog with 3 legs?
tripod.

What do you name a dog with 3 legs, and one eye?
lucky.

Where do you find a dog with no legs?
right were you left him.

What do you call a cat with no legs?
dog food.

So the library here in Vero Beach was having a contest to see who could come up with the best pun.  There was $100 prize to the winner.  Since I don't have a job I thought I would enter the contest.  You were allowed to offer up to ten puns.  Weeks went by and I finally got a letter.  It said that all though we know you made your 10 submissions hoping to win the prize, unfortunately, no pun in ten did.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

damage

Damage.  I was talking to a friend about writing some stuff for this blog.  He mentioned that he could not imagine anything damaging our relationship.  I think what he meant was that if I didn't use everything that he sent me, he would be ok with that.

I love this guy.  When the phrase "damage our relationship" came up, it brought me to tears.  Not just for him, but for any of you.  Whether I have met you or not, I don't ever want our relationship to be damaged.  For any reason.  Life is too short, life is too good.  We have all had enough fracture in our lives.

No worries ever.  No damage ever, only healing.  We are good.  Always.  Now on to some Jeff Brinkman humor.....

The owner of Quick Trip hates today.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

[The owner of QT hates today because it is free advertising for his competitor.]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Fast Forward

One of my friends sent this in.  I thought it was excellent!!!



When I was in elementary school, I attended an after-school program at the church. I would count down the minutes until 5 p.m. when my mother would pick me up. I’d rush to the car, toss in my bag, put on the seatbelt, and dig through the plastic container in front of me.

In it were tons of cassette tapes. Okay, maybe not tons. But at 10 years old, it seemed as if there was every tape imaginable at my fingertips.

I had a couple favorites—Matchbox Twenty’s Yourself or Someone Like You, Eve 6’s self-titled first release. But my favorite tape to pop in on the ride home was U2’s The Joshua Tree. I’d remove it from its case, flip to side B, and push the fast forward button as quickly as possible.

I’d stop and start until I got to that familiar intro I knew all too well…drums and harmonica.
When the song was over, I’d push the rewind button and play it again. And again. And again.

My mother was probably sick of that song. But she let me do this five days a week for as long as I could remember.

Now we all know The Joshua Tree is one of the greatest albums of all time. And after the recent announcement of U2’s return to Kansas City almost 16 years after their last visit, how appropriate it was for me to play the album on repeat on Spotify.

I double-clicked on track 8, and that familiar intro began. But then I did something different. I scrolled up and double-clicked “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the first song on the album.

And listed to the album straight through. Eight times in a row.

In life, we are constantly pushing the fast-forward button. When you're in high school, you can't wait until college. And in college, you can't wait to start your career. If you're single, you can't wait to be in a relationship. If you're dating, you can't wait to get engaged. And the list goes on and on.

So slow down and enjoy the life God has given you. Don't skip ahead to the “good parts.” You never know what gem you might find on that album if you listen from start to finish.

Jacob’s Ladder

Sunday, July 9, 2017

sermon preparation

A pastor friend wrote in and asked me some questions about sermon preparation.  Since I am filling in next Sunday for a pastor that is on vacation, this is a good time to share this process.

Here are the questions that he sent in-
     What is your process for sermon development and writing?
    What are your rituals/routines/habits for sermon development and writing?
    What is your process for feedback following your sermon delivery?


Sermon Preparation
1.  Pray.  I don't mean pray for a good sermon or pray for good ideas, I mean stay in touch with God on a regular basis.  Keep the lines of communication open.  A prayer for inspiration for a sermon is fine, but it should be a regular part of the flow of dialogue between God and human.
2.  Look constantly for ideas.  Read the Bible, read everything you can get your hands on.  Find a speaker that speaks to you and devour their material.  Anyone that talks for a living needs to keep their eyes open for thoughts, stories and illustrations.
3.  Organize thoughts.  I like to think of a four burner stove.  The closest burner is for this Sunday.  The burners farther back have pots that are simmering with ideas for the coming weeks.  I usually collect about four weeks ahead so that hopefully by the time that Sunday arrives, we have a pot full of good stuff.
4.  Make sure that you can relate to it.  Make sure that it strikes your heart.  If the content does not strike your heart, if you don't have a heartfelt affinity with the material, neither will anyone else.  Without that heart connection, a sermon becomes a nice talk or speech.
5.  Write it out, move it around, massage it.  Take all of those thoughts out of the pot and line them up in a way that makes sense.
6.  Practice delivering it.  Actually stand up in front of a counter, set your notes down and go through it audibly.  Often, things that looked good on paper, do not sound as good when delivered live.  Often something that looks like a good transition does not work at all.  A person can learn a lot about practicing their sermon live.  [the first sermon I gave in 1977 I had set up chairs and was practicing for the sermon in the basement and the family cat came down, curled up on a chair and went to sleep!]
7.  After you have made all of the adjustments and you think you have it ready, don't be afraid to change it again.  You know when something feels right, and you know when something feels forced.  When you stand up to talk to the folks, it should feel as comfortable as possible.
8.  Love the people.  A successful sermon will only fall onto the ears of people that you love.  If they don't like you, if they can't relate to you, they won't listen to your stuff.  Spend the time to build relationships with the people in your audience.  We listen to people that we like and we also give them a pass when a weak sermon gets through.  Love the people.

My friend also asked about how do you get feedback.  Well I never had an organized group that had the job of advising or critiquing a sermon after the fact.  There were always plenty of folks that would chime in with their opinion.  I always welcomed the feedback because constructive criticism can improve our efforts.  In every church I was at, I had a couple of close friends that I would routinely ask for feedback.

So I am working on a sermon for next Sunday.  I am filling in for a friend at the Ft. Pierce UMC on July 16th.  If you are in the area, you are invited to stop by.  Service starts at 9:30.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

why


Why??? We like to ask why.

Why is my face getting wrinkled? Why do I have car trouble? Why do I have to wait so long in the doctor's office? Why did my kid move away?  Why does so and so hate me? Why did I not get that promotion? Why did God let this happen to me? Why do I have this chronic disease? Why? Why? Why?

One of my favorite movies is the 1990 Robin Williams film Awakenings. If you have not seen it, please go watch it. It is a great movie about seeing the good in life. Anyway, in the movie, Leonard Lowe comes down with a disease that leaves him in a catatonic state for 25 years. When the doctor, played by Robin Williams goes to visit with his mother, this is what she says:

"When my son was born healthy, I never asked why. Why was I so lucky? What did I do to deserve this perfect child, this perfect life? But when he got sick, you can bet I asked why! I demanded to know why! Why was this happening?"
                  Ruth Nelson as Mrs. Lowe, Leonard's mother

Yes we do ask why. Why is this bad thing happening to me? Now without denigrating the problems that people have, [and let me be clear, my life has had and does have it's share of problems] without denigrating the problems that people have, what would happen in our world if we started asking these questions......

Why was I born in America?
Why do I have people that love me?
Why did I get to live this long? [the average life span in Mozambique is 42]
Why can I see when others are blind?
Why do I own a car?
Why do I get these blessings?
Why do I get all of these things that so many in the world will never have?

Dear friends, sometimes the ability to see the good is simply the choice to change our focus from what we don't have, and see instead what we do have.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.



Friday, July 7, 2017

used to

I used to have this.  I used to have that.
You used to have this.  You used to have that.

Hypothetically....


Maybe you used to have a better house but now you don't.
Maybe I used to have a cooler car, but now I don't.
Maybe you used to have a better job, but now you don't.
Maybe your new boss will never measure up to the old boss in your mind.
Maybe you look back at a former relationship as the be all to end all.
Maybe I used to have a better figure.
Maybe you used to have more friends.

Maybe I used to.... Maybe you used to....

Let me make a few observations.
1.  We tend to romanticize things.  Over time, we forget the struggles and remember the good old days.  Sometimes it is only fair to remember that the thing in that past wasn't as perfect as we have made it in our minds.
2.  It is no disrespect to our old friends, our old job, or our old anything, to try and appreciate what we have now.  If we try to make the future work, it does not denigrate the past.
3.  Maybe today is a struggle compared to yesterday, but there is still good to be found in today.
4.  It is totally unfair to hate today's car, today's spouse, today's boss, today's income simply because it is not "yesterday's."
5.  If we are stuck in yesterday, we cannot celebrate today.  Today will never return to us.  It is our responsibility to give our lives to God, day by day.
6.  Maybe that car will come back, maybe your friends will come to visit.  Maybe that new person will respond to new kindness from you.  But no matter, we must live in today.  We must love today.

Our old life would want us to enjoy today.  God wants us to enjoy this day.  Live in the present- it isn't the past, but the present is a gift.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

common sense

My friend Susan shared a comment with me recently. It is a helpful thought to put in play when people annoy you. Here is the quote-

"Common sense doesn't grow in everyone's garden"

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 5

Today I am 60 years old.

On January 24th, 1982 on the occasion of his 50th birthday, Henri Nouwen, wrote, "Within a few years [5, 10, 20 or 30] I will no longer be on this earth.  The thought of this does not frighten me but fills me with a quiet peace.  I am a small part of life, a human being in the midst of thousands of other human beings.  It is good to be young, and to grow old and die.  It is good to live with others and to die with others.  God became flesh to share with us in this simple living and dying and thus [his presence] made it good.  I can feel today that it is good to be, and especially to be one of many.  What counts are not the special and unique accomplishments in life that make me different from others, but the basic experiences of sadness and joy, pain and healing, which make me part of humanity.  The time is indeed growing short for me, but that knowledge sets me free to prevent mourning from depressing me and joy from exciting me.  Mourning and joy can now both deepen my quiet desire for the day when I realize that the many kisses and embraces that I received today were simple incarnations of the eternal embrace of the Lord himself."

Henri Nouwen died on September 21, 1996 at the age of 64.

Today I am 60 years old.  I would like to write something profound....  ha ha ha.....

I look back on every day that I have lived and they are all a treasure.  I remember running track in high school.  In my mind, in my soul, and in my dreams, I still run with the track team, but the body has moved on.  So I am the same as I used to be, but also very different.

I think of every person that I have loved, and oh I am so blessed.  I cherish every hug that I received from you and I hope to receive many more.  I think of the friends that we have made, the broken relationships that have been healed, and the amazing power of love.  I don't know how many days that I have left but I am going to take the advice of Ruth Gordon from the movie Harold and Maude.  She told Harold, live, LIVE, L.I.V.E. LIVE!!!

What a joy.  What a miracle life is.  Thank you all for being a part of mine.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Die a happy man

Thomas Rhett sings a song, Die a Happy Man. It's a popular love song on the country circuit.

Here are some of the words.............

If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night...
if I never get to build my mansion in Georgia
Or drive a sports car up the coast of California
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man


So on the eve of my 60th birthday, I want to let you know that I can die a happy man. [not that I plan to die soon]

I have done so many things in this life. I have seen so much.
I have been to every National Park west of the Mississippi.
I have stood by the ocean and listened to the waves.... in fact I can do that any day now.
I have owned beautiful homes.
I have birthed and raised wonderful children.
I have snow skied at 20 different resorts.
I have made the beer circuit at Epcot Center.
I got to be a part of some great churches.
I played softball with great guys for 15 years.
I ran, I jumped, I caught, I dropped, and we all laughed.
I have learned some jokes.  lots of really good jokes!!!
I have enjoyed working.  
I have made homes more beautiful.  I have painted, tiled, and fixed them.
I have been to Canada, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, Greece and Aruba.
I have driven a sports car on the coast of California.
I have basked in the Redwood forest.
I have had the best friends that anyone could ask for.

But most of all I can say this to you.... I can die a happy man, because in this life, I have loved and been loved.  It doesn't get any better than that.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, July 3, 2017

OK

I have friends that worry if I am ok.  So they text, email or call to ask if I am ok.  I am also concerned about folks, if they are ok.

I am ok.  But I am more ok if I know that you are ok.  I can deal with me and my life much better as long as I know that you are ok.

I am much more ok when I know that you are ok.  OK?

If you are concerned about someone, check in with them.

It's a beautiful day in God's world be sure to see the good.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Miracle of Pain

That is an odd title to a blog post.  The miracle of pain.  We generally don't consider pain to be desirable much less a miracle.  We Americans particularly do everything that we can to avoid pain.  We even act like it is our God given right to be pain free and we can end up mad at God when life gets too painful.

But what if [as Laura Story suggests] our blessings come through raindrops?

Think of it.  When we have no troubles, we tend to go on about our lives.  We don't talk to God so much during good times because we don't feel the need.  Oh, but bring on a little difficulty and here comes the prayers.  As if prayers were in existence only to remove our pain.

Think of some of the most spiritual people that you know.  Don't they face pain and deal with it gracefully?  Don't they let pain teach them?  For me, it is in times of loneliness and pain that I am closest to God.  It is because of times of difficulty that I have learned some of life's lessons.

A life without pain would be much like being raised with a silver spoon in your mouth.  Although I have every empathy for your pain, may we all recognize that pain plays a role in getting our attention.  And when life has our complete attention, we tend to see more of the miracle of God.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

One of these days

I heard a song the other day by Neil Young called One of these days. I was not familiar with it, but some of the lyrics stuck with me.  Here are the lyrics:

One of these days
I'm gonna sit down and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known

And I'm gonna try
To thank them all for the good times together
Though so apart we've grown

One of these days
I'm gonna sit down and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known

One of these days
One of these days
One of these days
And it won't be long, it won't be long

And I'm gonna thank
That old country fiddler
And all those rough boys who play that rock 'n' roll

I never tried
To burn any bridges
Though I know I let some good things go

One of these days
I'm gonna sit down and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known

One of these days
One of these days
One of these days
And it won't be long, it won't be long

From down in L.A.
All the way to Nashville
New York City to my Canadian prairie home

My friends are scattered
Like leaves from an old maple
Some are weak, some are strong

One of these days
I'm gonna sit down and write a long letter
To all the good friends I've known

One of these days
One of these days
One of these days
And it won't be long, it won't be long


So if you are reading this, you are probably my friend. I want to write to you today and thank you for the time, the relationship, the love. There is a house for sale across the street from us. Do you want to come look at it? I miss you and I love you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 30, 2017

That Lemon Tree

My wife wanted a lemon tree.  So we bought this little guy and planted it in the corner.  For two years it produced no lemons.  Finally in the last month, it is producing it's crop.

One lemon.

It is funny, but we find it kind of exciting that the little tree is making a lemon.  Like Kevin Costner in Waterworld, we are pretty possessive of our lemons.

Some people are like our lemon tree.... not quite meeting our expectations.  And yet then we see an occasional glimmer of hope.  One lemon.  One fruit.  One act of kindness.  Maybe with a little fertilizer our lemon tree will do better.  Maybe with a little more love, the people in our lives that are under producing will begin to bear more fruit.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Animals are funny



So this is Tyler the cat who is out on the screened in back porch.  He and his "sister" Kiki love to go outside and hunt for lizards.  The other day he caught one, brought it inside and put it inside my shoe!

Anyway, outside, resting underneath the little lemon tree [my brain just switched to Peter Paul and Mary, Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.]  Anyway, resting underneath the lemon tree is a concrete squirrel.  We had it in my back yard growing up, so it is probably 40 years old.

Sometimes Tyler the cat will go out and sit next to the squirrel as if waiting for it to wake up and play with him.  I watch him sit there by that squirrel and wonder what he is thinking.

Tyler of course does not realize that the squirrel is stuck in a world that is not live.  He will never be animated.  Now my next statement is not to encourage anyone to leave their family, but sometimes in life we get stuck with people that are about as helpful as that squirrel.  We hang around and hope that they will come to life and celebrate with us, but they just can't seem to break out of their funk.

Tyler the cat needs a new friend.  Sometimes we need to make new friends too, friends that will inspire and encourage us.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

favorites

Ahh, the development of sound devices.....  I remember that I had a small cassette player in 1969.  I bought my first music on LP albums.  I recorded some of the songs onto cassettes and played them in my car in 1974.  My car only had an AM radio, so the cassette player sat on the seat next to me.  My parents let me and a friend drive to Disneyland, over 400 miles, when I was 16.  We played that cassette player the entire way there and back.  The Beatles, Beach Boys and BTO.

Anyway, after cassettes came Compact Discs.  CD's.  We bought music on CD's through the mail in clubs.  You remember?  Buy 3 get 6 free.

Then came personal computers and digital music.  Then we started recording our own music from our CD's to our computer and onto printable CDroms.  So instead of just listening to what the record label printed on the CD, we could make our own favorites.

So I was rooting through my car the other day and I found an old CD that I had printed in 2006.  This was prior to jump drives or satellite radio, so a CD marked "favorites" held- well, some of my favorites.

I had no idea what was on it, but I put it in the player and listened.  I may have had 100 favorite songs, but only 17 would fit on that CD.  I was interested to see what I had recorded as my favorites in 2006.  This is what is on that CD, in order:

1.  Van Morrison- Into the Mystic
2.  Leah Kunkel [Momma Cass Elliott's sister]- I've Got to get a Message to You
3.  Paul Simon- Went to my Doctor
4.  Storyville- Good day for the blues.  [A favorite song of my friend Chuck McClamrock, who by the way is a great guy]
5.  Dave Loggins - Please come to Boston
6.  BTO  - Hold back the water
7.  Lynard Skynard - Freebird
8.  Billy Vera -At this moment
9.  Crosby Stills Nash and Young- Find the cost of freedom [anti war song]
10.  Jackson Browne - Load out/stay
11.  Eagles - Hotel California
12.  Lou Bega - Mambo #5
13.  ZZ Top - La Grange
l4.  Cat Stevens- If you want to sing out
15.  Don Henley - end of the innocence
16.  Orleans- Dance with me
17.  Pink Floyd- Wish you were here

I wish I had time to put all the youtube links here, but I don't.  If you don't know any of these songs, listen to them on youtube.  You might just find a new favorite.

What are some of your favorites?  I might want to find some new songs as well.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Palm Trees


Canary Island date palm
spindle palm


I have always loved trees.  We planted about 50 of them on the Woods Chapel Campus.  By the way, do you know the best day to plant a tree?
areka palm

50 years ago.

triangle palm
Do you know the second best day to plant a tree?

Today.

I love trees.  After missing my annual redwoods trip for the last two years, I am going to make the pilgrimage this year in late August.  I am so looking forward to the trip.

pygmie date palm
I love trees, and since I moved to Florida, I realize that I also love palm trees.  Before I lived there I thought that there was only one kind.  I thought that a palm tree was a palm tree.  But there are gazillions of different ones.   The differences between them speak to me about the great mind of God.  God is an amazing creator, and his creation speaks to us of his glory.
christmas palm

All of these pictures come from our house or our next door neighbor's homes.  What seemingly common things are happening around you?  Can you see the beauty and the good in them?

sable or cabbage palm



It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.
queen palm

Monday, June 26, 2017

Florida





What I like and don't like about Florida.

What I don't like.....
Most of my friends live in Kansas City.
The friends that I made in Cape Coral are 3 hours away.
I'm not working much.... hard to find handyman gigs.
In some places the traffic is really bad [not in Vero Beach]

What I do like about Florida...
It is almost always sunny, which makes me feel warm and happy.
I love the palm trees.
I love the swimming pool.
I love my work space in the garage.
I love the retired life.  {what day is it?}
It's a great flat place to bike ride.
My friends can come visit.
We are 8 minutes from the beach.
The wind from the ocean travels in to us and it is wonderful.
There is a lot of live music.
My family is here.

Pretty good stuff over all.  Life is good.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

shaving

I have never liked shaving.

It's kind of an odd journey.  When I was a teen... Oh I wanted to shave!  Oh I wanted a beard.  To wear a beard was to be a real man.

As the years went by I was able to grow one, and I quickly became aware of the annoyance of shaving every day.  Even if you grow a beard you must keep it trimmed.  Shaving is a pain in the neck.

So for years I would grow a beard during the winter.  All that came to an abrupt end round about 2002 when a good old "church lady" made a comment.  On the way out of church, instead of wishing me well or commenting on the sermon, she looked at my hairy face and said, "I don't know why you grow that, you look dirty."

Ouch.

I am sure that I allowed those words to effect me too much.  I know that person did not mean to hurt me.  But I stopped growing my annual winter beard.

Now that I am mostly retired, I shave or not.  I grow it for a week or two, then I shave it off.  I don't feel dirty anymore.  May the words of our mouths be chosen with care.

It's a beautiful, hairy day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Prisoner

So I was in Kansas City working for one of my friends on a rental house.  Next door to the rental was a family that kept Basset hounds as pets.  Basset [from the french word meaning low] hounds have short legs and a long drawl of a hound dog bark.  They get big and fat and can be kind of funny looking.  Definitely not a lap dog.

So I am working on the side of the rental house and the Bassets are in the back yard.  Howling at me and rooting around.  Then I notice something.  Do you see it?

There is no fence to speak of.  The Bassets are held in the back yard by a small green border fence.  I paused to think.  Here is a big strong dog who is held back by something that he could easily plow right through.  I guess his mind says that he is fenced in.  Oh what fun they are missing by staying in the back yard!  I imagine them breaking free and carousing around the neighborhood creating great memories, but they won't.  The green "fence" holds them back.  Or something in their mind holds them back because the fence can't do it alone.

So, how about you?  How about me?  Are we held at bay by something that we could easily plow through?  Are we satisfied with a tiny back yard sized life when the whole world awaits our exploration?  What ever fences you may have allow to hold you back, push through them and take over the neighborhood.  What a story you will have to tell.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 23, 2017

BUG!!!

So I have this scab on my arm.  I am not sure how it got there, but it has been there for a month for sure.  It is about the size of a June bug and it won't go away.  I have been worried about it, and the fact that it just won't heal.

Then I realized something.  I keep catching it out of the corner of my eye and thinking it IS a bug.  I have been startled by it 20 times.  I have hit it 17 times.  I have made it bleed.  I have shaken my arm out of the socket 4 times.

You know what, things won't heal when you keep smacking them.  Stop and think about that. ... things won't heal when you keep smacking them.

No matter how many times I tell myself that it is not a bug, my brain still reacts to it.  Laugh for a minute.  OK, are you done?  Now let me ask you a question.... are there things in your life that you react negatively to that turn out to be nothing?  Are there pieces of your life that won't heal because you won't stop picking them?

Cringe.  Not so funny when I look at it that way.

It's a beautiful day in God's world be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Beautiful

In March I wrote about the song, You've got a Friend. I wrote about the impact that the song had on my life and how I felt about it. Well there were several other songs on Carole King's Tapestry album. I know them all by heart. I wore that record out 3 or 4 times.

Well, just a few months ago, I heard again, the song Beautiful from that album. I have heard it 4,000 times, but a few months ago when I heard it, I heard it for the first time. I actually heard the words....

WOW!!!
here is the link to the song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJn3QJYYBr0

Here are the lyrics:
You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful, as you feel

Waiting at the station with a workday wind a-blowing
I've got nothing to do but watch the passers-by
Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing
And they don't see it showing, why do I?

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful as you feel

I have often asked myself the reason for sadness
In a world where tears are just a lullaby
If there's any answer, maybe love can end the madness
Maybe not, oh, but we can only try

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will
That you're beautiful, as you feel

I have highlighted the chorus because I think that it says what I have been trying to say in this blog for over ten years.....

You've got to get up every morning
With a smile in your face
And show the world all the love in your heart

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

a theory

I was talking with a friend the other day about God's love.  He said that he had a theory about 1 John 4:8.  That verse says, He that does not love, does not know God.   He said that he had a theory about that verse and then he paused......

I bit.  I asked him what his theory was.  He said this.... my theory on the statement, he that does not love, does not know God is the following - - -  ""HE THAT DOES NOT LOVE, DOES NOT KNOW GOD."

I was expecting something long, complicated and profound.  What I got was something short, simple, and profound.  People that do not love, do not know God.  Plain and simple.

May we pray that all people, come to know God, that they come to know the God of love.  That they come to know that God is not simply a God of love, but indeed, God is love incarnate.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1973 Renault Gordini

Random story from my past....

So in my unpacking of boxes, I ran across some old pictures.  When I was in seminary, I bought a
really cool sports car from Lacy Weatherholt's dad, it was a 73 Renault Gordini.  Oh I loved that car.  It had fuel injection, and it would fly.

During Advent, our youth group was wrapping presents in the Walmart lobby for extra money.  [I doubt Walmart would allow that today.]  I had to run to the bank to get some change.  It had snowed the night before.  It had been years since I had driven in snow and no one in Tulsa, Oklahoma sees much snow.

On the way back from the bank I was heading up to the stop sign on Memorial Drive.  I hit the brakes.... nothing happened.  I was sliding.  I saw immediately that I was going to end up out in the middle of this main artery of traffic.  I said to myself, nothing will be coming, I will slide right through.

Sometimes our intuitions are right, and sometimes they are wrong.

As I slid into the intersection, a tractor trailer was coming.  The front end of the Renault slid under the trailer and the back wheels of the trailer hit the driver's side door.  The impact spun my car out from under the trailer.  I came to a stop on the side of the road.

The first one to the car was a friend of mine, John, who  was gassing up across the street.  They called an ambulance.

Overnight in the hospital, broken ribs- no worse for the wear.

As a side not, during my recovery, my friends loved to tell me jokes and try to get me to laugh so my ribs would hurt.  Then I would groan and they would laugh all the more.  I have always had great friends.

Maybe I should have, but I never really thought of this incident as "oh, I could have died."  Mostly I have looked back on this incident and thought about how I love cars too much.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.




Monday, June 19, 2017

Sinners

Jesus ran with sinners.  The Pharisees and the self-righteous hated him for that.  By running with sinners, Jesus was turning their world upside down.  By running with sinners, he was changing the rules of their game.  It was no longer the pious who got in, but the broken who saw their need for grace.  No wonder they killed him.  No one likes to have the rules of their game changed.

May we always remember as Peter Rollins taught us, Jesus did not just run with sinners, he ran with unrepentant sinners.  Had he ran with those who repented and cleaned themselves up, there would have been no scandal.

How sad that so many churches in America have painted a picture of a Jesus who loves the good people, the cleaned up people, the whole people.  And he does love those people, but he also loves and runs around with those who are still struggling, those who don't get all the commandments right, those who are broken.

What this means for you is that you are loved, in your brokenness.  You are accepted, you are invited to Jesus' table.  That my friends, is good news.  That my friends, is grace.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

God is not a Methodist

a friend wrote in to me..........

"Jeff, for years you talked about the danger of keeping God in a box. Well, I have been thinking more about that and I have arrived at a realization. God is not a card carrying member of my denomination or anyone else's for that matter. God is not a Methodist, a Baptist or a Catholic............."

Let me comment on this nice note.....

In the movie 42, about the baseball career of Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey who recruits him, is explaining to one of his coworkers why it is ok to bring an African American into Major league baseball. Rickey famously says of Robinson, "I'm a Methodist, he's a Methodist, God is a Methodist."

It is a cute statement, but it is not accurate. God is not a Methodist. God is bigger than Methodism, God is bigger than the Catholic Church. In fact, God is bigger than our ideas about Christianity. Do you realize that there are versions of Christianity around the world that are very different than what we practice in America? And God is bigger than all of the versions.

There is a famous story about 5 blind men who are leading an elephant along a road. Later they were asked what the elephant was like. The one who held the trunk said that the elephant was like a boa constrictor. The one who held the ear said that the elephant was like a piece of heavy leather. The one whose hand guided the elephant's leg said that the elephant is some kind of a giant. The one who held the tail said that the elephant was like a wiggly worm.

They might have thought they knew, but they did not really know what an elephant was like. They only had clues of something that was much much bigger than they were able to perceive in their limited state.

God is bigger than your denomination. God is bigger than our version of Christianity.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

ideas

Some ideas hit us like a ton of bricks.  We hear them and immediately take them in.  They are assessed and internalized immediately.

Red lights in your rear view mirror = an immediate stopping of the car.
Someone in the house calls for help = an immediate coming to their aid
You get a great coupon in the mail = you can't wait to use it.

There are other ideas that come to us, not as a brick, but as a seed.  An idea is planted and it grows over time.  A good example of this is grace.  We hear grace and we like it... we think we like it... but it sounds too easy.  Over time though, a person begins to see that Jesus was all about grace, all about welcoming outsiders.  Grace grows in us over time.  Like yeast in the dough, the bread eventually rises.

Sometimes we hear ideas that we are uncomfortable with.  Ideas that challenge us.  Don't be afraid of allowing them to work their work.
Yes, part of that fracture was my fault after all.....
Yes, I see what I was doing now.....

These ideas grow within us a little bit at a time.

Do you consider new ideas?
Do you consider ideas that challenge you?
What is God growing in you?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Referendum

A referendum is a vote on the value of something.

We allow too many things to have power over us in this life.  My child's behavior is not a referendum on my value.  My income is not a referendum on my value.  My pretty face or not, is not a reflection of my value.

My mistakes and sins are not a referendum on my value.  My good mission work in the name of Jesus is not a reflection of, or a referendum on my value.

I am valuable.  You are valuable.  Period.  Nothing to prove.  God made you and you are good.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

On letting go

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all -- young and old, rich and poor, good and evil -- the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current was what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, "I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom."

The other creatures laughed and said, "Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed against the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!"

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, "See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the messiah, come to save us all!"

And the one carried in the current said, "I am no more messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure."

But they cried the more, "Savior!" all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a savior.

                                           -- from Illusions by Richard Bach

Are you finding joy, or boredom in life?
Are you clinging, or letting go?
Are you stuck, or flying?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

a friend sent this to me....

This came in from one of my friends....

I once worked for a man with whom I had a kindred spirit for liking everything neat and in order. His desk was always in order, and sometimes before he began a workday he laid paperwork for all the tasks out in perfect order. Said that to say that there was rarely anything laying on his desk that wasn’t about his workday.

Because he was a department head people frequently came to and from his office. And as you probably know, in any given group of workers, you’ll find a few unhappy campers, who resist change. In the workplace, this was particularly true when computers first came on the scene. One day I walked in my boss’s office and saw a letter sized piece of paper he’d printed at the copier. On the paper, it said “Don’t look back, we’re not going that way.” I loved it.

To be sure, there are events in life that we tend to look back on, sometimes with good feelings, sometimes not so good. But the idea is not to become mired in the past, and refuse to accept what is.

In thinking about that, I learned a lesson from my toes. If God had wanted me to walk backwards, he would have created my heels at the front of my foot and my toes at the back.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

an oversight

In yesterday's post, I announced my change in status with the Missouri Conference to "retired."  I mentioned my appointments in Missouri and thanked everyone.  If I had been thinking, I would have also mentioned that I was thankful for my appointment in Cape Coral Florida and the great people that I met there.  I am sorry for that oversight.

I also served Methodist Churches in Bixby, Cache and Indiahoma Oklahoma, but that was years ago and I doubt any one from those churches even know that I am still alive, much less a blogger.  Anyway, I am grateful for every person, in every church along the way.

I have been blessed.

And remember, even as a retired person, I can still serve a church.  We shall see what the future holds.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, June 12, 2017

retirement

As you know I have been on a personal leave from the church. When you are on a personal leave, everyone asks things like:

"when are you coming back?"
"are you ok?"
and "what happened?"

Honestly, it gets a little tiring. Anyway, I will be 60 years old this year. I have decided to turn in my retirement papers. No more explaining what is wrong with me.... everyone understands retirement. The good news about the retired status too, is that if offered one, I can still serve a church.

I was asked to submit a 150 word statement to be read at annual conference. How do you sum up your life's work in 150 words? Here you go....

It has been a privilege to serve these past 27 years. I celebrate every person that I have met along the way. I give thanks for my appointments in Lebanon, Princeton, Mercer and Woods Chapel. Thank you all for partnering with me on this journey in the ministry of Jesus. I honor every clergy colleague, District Superintendent and Bishop that I have had along the way. 

What a joy it is my friends to be used for a purpose larger than one's self. God uses our nothingness to show his love. God calls each of us to be his sign of love to one another. This is a great privilege that we are invited into. Appointments end, paid service to the church ends, but love goes on, always. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you. It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The beach

Happy Birthday to my sister Julie.  Sis if you read this [and I don't know why you would] happy birthday, I love you, and I am happy for you and proud of you.

Now on to the beach.  My daughters hang out with each other from time to time.  When I was a kid, we did not really even know the other people in our home.  I did not hang out with my sisters or even get to know them until I was much older.  I am not sure why it was that way in my home, but I am so glad that my kids love each other.

Here is a beautiful pic of my lovely daughters Alli and Jenny who have taken a Saturday to spend together on the beach in Jupiter, Florida.  Alli is getting married next year and her maid of honor is Jenny.  This is not something that comes to Jenny by a birthright.... these girls really do love each other.

It makes me so happy to see my kids enjoy each other!

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Drug of Approval

Most everyone I know, at one time or another, has been addicted to the drug of approval. We want the approval of our father, we want the approval of a friend, we want the approval of a partner.

A ten year old girl walks into the room wearing a pink dress. We say, "Oh, my you look wonderful!" She beams with joy. The next day she walks into the room wearing a green dress. We look at her, shake our heads and say, "Green? It's not your best color." Her countenance falls and she is crushed. She is addicted to the drug of approval.  This addiction comes to us at a very early age.

All of us would prefer to be liked. We would prefer to be approved of. We would prefer praise to criticism. There are some people that it is pretty important to have their approval. Your boss would come to mind. If he or she doesn't approve, it could mean a job change.

But for the most part, we are way too worried about getting others to like us. What if we spent our energy living and loving, instead of worrying about if everyone liked us? Maybe they act that way because something is wrong with them instead of you? Maybe they will never be pleased.

Live well. Do right. Love all. But spend your days in celebration and joy instead of worry. Don't buy the drug of approval. God approves already and he is the only one that ultimately gets a vote.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, June 9, 2017

setting boundaries

If healthy people free others to live, they also set boundaries in their own lives.  You can love that 41 year old child, but you do not have to let them move in with you.  You can love that cousin and not loan them the money.

When I say free them to live, it does not mean that you become a doormat.

I may or may not loan someone money.  I am not obligated to do that.  Even to my children.
I will allow you to visit, but I am probably not going to allow you to move in.
I may or may not loan you my tools.
I may or may not do a lot of things.

When I free you to be you, it does not mean that I belong to you as well.  I free you to be you, and to take responsibility for your own life.  If I keep saving you from your life, I am not freeing you to live, but I am probably helping you so I can keep you around.... another form of control and manipulation.

I can love you and free you to be you.  But I don't have to meet you for lunch.
You have a right to be happy.  I release you to do that.
I have a right to be happy as well.
Healthy people set boundaries.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, enjoy it.  And be sure to see the good.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

controlling behavior

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I want to write a bit about control and manipulation.  We have all had those people in our lives that tried to control and or manipulate us, and we have also been guilty, each of us I am sure, of trying to control and manipulate others.

For the sake of my typing fingers, I will now refer to control and manipulate by c and m.

My mother was an expert at c and m.  She wanted to be sure that her kids acted just as she thought they should.  When children are young, they do need some direction for sure.  But at some point, we need to stop trying to c and m our adult children, our adult friends and our adult spouses.  The result of c and m is never love.  If you want to be loved, free others to live.  Let them go.  Let them march to the beat of their drummer.  They have a drummer and it is probably not your drummer.

The moment we try to c and m another person, we are announcing that we are broken and needy.  Whole people do not need to make others behave in a certain way.  They have learned to be ok in their skin.  They can welcome others into their life, and they can release others when others move on.  And in this life, people move on.... most notably our children move on.  They become adults and they are no longer ours to parent.  But sometimes friends move on too.  Sometimes spouses.  These can be very difficult because we have developed attachments to them.  I spent a year once, begging a friend to remain my friend.  Do you think that worked?  Not at all.

Take a few moments to examine your life and ask yourself to what extend you may be trying to control and manipulate others.  Free them to live, and you will find a new freedom in your life as well.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

how to love difficult people

So someone asked a different question. Not so much how to deal with difficult people, but how to love them.

This is going to be a bit uncomfortable, and a bit difficult, but lets chase it... 
Let's talk for a bit about what love is and what isn't.

1. love is not attraction. It is not about how gorgeous or handsome you think someone is. Someday, we will get old and bald and fat and will not longer be attractive. Love must be more than attraction.

2. love is not dependence. It is not two broken dominoes holding each other up. Once one domino gets healed enough to stand on it's own, the loving will be over. love is more than dependence.

3. Love is not an attachment. A clinging to someone or something. It is not an insistence that we cannot live without someone.  Whole people live life, standing on their own two feet [with the grace of God.]

So what is love? I would say that love is willing someone their highest good. Wishing and acting in a way that brings them all of the good that you can. You free them to live, to be themselves. Love is to see and appreciate them for the person they are. It is not about finding someone to meet our needs. Love demands nothing. It is unconditional.

Love is larger than marriage, for you can be married to someone and not love them. Love is a deep appreciation, a kindness, an affection that seeks not to take, but to give, to honor and to free another person to live.  You can have a child that you say you love, but if all I ever do is pour guilt on that child, it is not love.  When I love the adult child, I stop insisting that they live as I would prefer that they live and I simply care about them and for them, regardless of their choices.

And so back to difficult people. Once I stop wanting something from them, they seem less difficult to me. Once I stop insisting that they behave the way that I think that they should, I am less bothered by how they behave. If I free them to live, then I am also free to live. I may spend less time with them and more time with others that I have an affinity with, but I am able to learn to love difficult people when I stop insisting that they solve my problems and I free them to live their life as they choose.

These are indeed difficult words, I see that for sure.  They are words that I write for myself as well as others. It is so easy to be needy in this life and to insist that I get this or that from others..... when I release myself from this behavior, then love rises to the top.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

very well, very well

One of my favorite people in the world once told me that this story changed her life.  It is a real thinker though......

Once in a small village a teenage girl became pregnant.  She hid it from her parents for as long as she could, but eventually they confronted her.  Not wanting to take responsibility, and not wanting to implicate her teenage boyfriend, she told her parents that she was with child by the monk who lived just outside of town.

The parents were furious and they called the village leaders together.  The elders determined a course of action.  When the baby was born, the girl, the parents and the village leaders all went out to confront the monk.  "You foolish, terrible man.  You have impregnated this young girl.  You have fathered this child.  Here, you take it and raise it.  You foolish terrible man."

The monk held out his arms, received the child and said, "very well, very well."

After some months, the young girl, like all mothers do, began to pine for he child.  She couldn't take it anymore so she sat down with her parents and told them the truth.  It was not the monk, it was my boyfriend Johnny that had fathered the child.

The parents were mortified, they were beside themselves.  The had believed a lie, drawn others into it, shamed a holy man and given away their only grandchild.   They gathered up the village leaders and returned to the monk.  

The monk saw them coming and stepped outside carrying the six month old child.
They addressed the monk, Dear Sir, we come to apologize to you.  We were wrong.  You did not do this.  We are sorry that we shamed you.  Please sir can we have the baby back.

The monk smiled, held out the child and said, "very well, very well."

Commentary.... Jesus said don't worry...... what is coming your way today?  Avoid a collision if at all possible.  Avoid the terrible things that you can.  But some things are coming your way that you cannot avoid.  How will we accept them?  Will we make ourselves sick with worry or will we open our arms to the gift of this day?

Very well, very well.  It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, June 5, 2017

different drummer

On marching to the beat of a different drummer.....

Someone said, I have been considered a misfit since my childhood. No one seemed to understand me. My own father once said to me, “You are not crazy enough to be put in a madhouse, and not withdrawn enough to be put in a monastery. What shall I do with you?”

The man replied, “A duck’s egg was put under a hen. When the egg hatched the duckling walked with the hen to the edge of a pool and went straight into the water. The poor hen stayed anxiously clucking on the bank. Now, dear father, I have walked into the Ocean and find in it my home. You can hardly blame me if you choose to stay on the shore.”

You can hardly blame me if you choose to say on shore.  So you have a kid that swims in a pond that is not of your liking.  Yet it is their choice.  We may not understand, but we cannot blame them because we choose to stay on shore.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

dining together

We Americans eat a lot.  We eat so much, and so often that we have forgotten the joy and the gift of dining.

When I was in Russia many years ago, I went to the local grocery store.  Now conjure in your mind a grocery store.  Maybe you are thinking of Kroger, of Price Chopper or Publix.  If you did, then the problem is clear.  We have so much.  We see our opulent society as the norm.  It is not.

It might have been a bad time in Russia, it may not have been typical of Russian grocery stores.  Surely I saw much nicer stores on other trips, but this local Russia store was the size of a double garage.  There was a counter running through the middle of it.  Half of the place was where you stood to wait your turn, the other half held the counter, space for the worker to stand, and the back wall.  Needless to say, pickings were slim.  People would go to the store, not to get what they wanted for dinner, but to see what was available for dinner.  One day there was a few fish.  No beef.  The next day there were a few chunks of meat, no fish.  You get the idea.  You ate what was available, not what you wanted.

So it did not surprise me that when I was staying with local Russians, they would call each other up in the morning and discuss what each one had that day in the way of food.  Then they would meet up to share their food and to share time around the table.

To be invited to one's table is a joy!  When you are invited to share a meal, the host is saying, "you are good, you are welcome, you are loved."

Jesus ate with everyone.  The Pharisees scorned him for eating with sinners.  But what Jesus was saying by eating with them is quite amazing.  Imagine Jesus saying to you, "Come and dine!  You are worth it!  You are welcome here!

To share a meal with someone is a gift indeed.  Maybe this is why we say grace and give thanks before we eat.  To dine with another is a precious thing.

Who have you had over for dinner lately?  Who have you met for lunch?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.