Category Archives: Faith

John 4:1-26 and 39-42

John 4:1-26 and 39-42

I Love the pictures the bible gives us. Pictures of Jesus and pictures of God’s people wrestling with how to live out their faith in the real world. Regular people just like us. The story of the woman at the well is one of those kind of stories.

Sometimes stories become so familiar that I think I know them and because of what I think I know, sometimes I miss details.

God orchestrates ordinary circumstances to accomplish extraordinary things.

In this scripture there is a little passage, kind of a side note that caught my attention. Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. Some translations say Jesus needed to go. Jews at that time had as little to do with Samaritans as possible. They would take the long way around to avoid going through Samaria. So that makes me wonder…why did Jesus, a Jew, HAVE to go through Samaria?  So, if we walk this out –  Jesus did His Father’s will. So if Jesus had to go through Samaria, then logically, it was His Father’s will that He go that way. If he had not obeyed His Father’s will, He would not have met the Samaritan woman. (sometimes when we listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit we may go through unfamiliar and even uncomfortable territory.

If you have an encounter with Jesus, you might do something out of the ordinary (like leaving your water jug behind)

So here we are. Jesus, wholly divine and fully human is sitting at this well, tired and hot. A woman shows up at the well to get water. She must not have been rich or she might have had servants to fetch water for her.  But Jesus listens to her. He SEES her, right to the heart of her life. Maybe his words caused her to see herself through His eyes, and made her realize how badly she needed grace. I’m not sure what His words meant to the woman but we know from the text, they were personal and He revealed Himself to her as the messiah! The words must have had a profound effect on her because she was so excited that she went off and left her water jar. In the desert. Left. it. THAT is what an encounter with Jesus can do to you. I imagine if I went to Walmart for milk and was gone several hours and came back empty handed, Dale and I would be having a conversation. Now notice what happened. She went back and told the others that this man told her everything she had ever done and they BEGAN to believe. Something about what she said or maybe just how she was, made them want to meet him.

Sharing our faith doesn’t convert anyone. We just have to point them to Jesus. Jesus does the heavy lifting. It is their own encounter with the Christ that changes them.

Whatever effect Jesus had on this woman, something about her caused the people she spoke to, to have a desire to meet this Jesus for themselves and once they met Him, they wanted to hang out with him and because of their time with Jesus, Christianity spread throughout that part of the world. Pretty extraordinary!

So what are we to do with this? How does this story speak to each of us? For me, it reminds me we are all walking through a desert. It can be beautiful but also it’s dry and dusty and just harsh sometimes. On Sunday morning we come here – to our well where we can rest and be refreshed.

We are tired and thirsty. Maybe we have spent the week wrestling with our faith, trying to work out how to live as one of God’s kids. Maybe we have had one of those weeks where we resembled the Samaritan. We have worshipped on a different mountain and hung out at different wells, and our own beliefs have gotten muddied. Maybe it was wonderful and we just need to say our thanks and praise the one who sustains us. Whatever the week was like, we are here now with with our empty cups held out.  We need an encounter with Jesus. We need that thirst to be quenched. We need to be filled with living water.

But just showing up at the well isn’t enough. Like the woman at the well, we have to seek Jesus for Him to reveal Himself to us and ASK Him for that water. If we walk into the sanctuary with our empty cup held out, asking Jesus to fill it, to fill US with living water then it isn’t going to matter who is behind the pulpit. It isn’t going to matter that our favorite hymn wasn’t sung. It may not even matter what team’s playing or where we are eating after church because we will have in some way met Jesus and we will be changed. And maybe, just maybe, if we are paying attention, there will be someone we encounter in the next week that needs to meet this Jesus and we will have a conversation, or perform a kindness, or just seem different and it will point them in a new path in the desert, not just to fill a pew at our church, though that would be wonderful; but because every single person needs to know that they are not alone in the desert, needs their own encounter with the risen Christ, and needs to know that at the end of that long walk through the desert, Jesus is waiting for them.

Changes

I have been inactive here for too long. My dry spell for writing began with the election but while shocked at the results, the continuation of that dry spell has been more a response to the willingness of people to not only strongly take sides, but spew hate without even seeming to be aware of what they are saying. I fear for this world, not for myself, but for my children and their children. There are hard times coming.  Some writers can take their pain and turn it into poetry. My poetry comes from a place of peace in my soul and that is what I have been working on, but it has taken my thoughts in a different different.

Next Sunday I will give the message at church for the first time. I will post it here after Sunday. I am speaking on John 4, the story of the woman at the well. Walking though the desert to get water and meeting Jesus seemed a good place to start. I would appreciate prayers. I am not a public speaker and this is so very far out of my comfort zone. Luckily I will have a stool to sit on as it makes it even more difficult to concentrate on your words when your knees are shaking!

I’ve also had some ongoing health concerns this year and as of this post, I have a shiny new grand daughter – Nola Mae. So cares and blessings. Life moves on.

 

 

Luke 17:20-21

A Pastor friend posed this question:

“How do you define the kingdom of God? Is it heaven? Or maybe the perfect evening with your family at your favorite restaurant? These answers are not wrong, but one thing’s for sure. The kingdom of God is not ushered in with visible signs. You won’t be able to say, “It has begun here in this place or there in that part of the country.” For the kingdom of God is something that is within your own heart.”
Based on Luke 17:20-21″

My response:

They asked Him for a map you see
To get to heavens shore and lee
His answer was within the key
He knew they would stay lost

You cannot get there by direction
Though easier if you make connection
The price is all and predilection
Proved that He would pay the cost

So look within and give without
Cling to the savior though you doubt
Receive and share it’s all about
The least will see most

If Jesus lives inside of you
His love will change the way you view
Put self aside, let Him shine through
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost

I am enjoying this rhyme scheme of aaabcccb, a pleasure to write and fun to read.

It Is Well

to breath in rivers
of stinging cold
that tastes of stars
and snowflakes
whispers of secrets
floating down rock-a-bye
sorrow tomorrow
peace tonight
softly curled around
the shivery moon
it is well
tree lights glow
through window panes
with my soul
staring into the dark
feet on solid ground
sweater tightly wrapped
I feel myself grow solid too
it is well

Easter

Watching the clouds
from my back porch
sailing across the steel sky.
I wonder where could they be going?
A nightbird is singing goodnight
to the morning and the honeysuckle
lays heavy on the air.
I realize that spring is not coming.
I have been watching and waiting
and she has been on her way
and yet
here she is and
she is not spring at all
she is summer.
Like those racing clouds
all in a constant state
of movement
even when I cannot see.
I wonder if the changing seasons
are God’s way of trying to teach me
this lesson over and over,
That the only constant
besides Him, is change.
He is always creating.
I say goodbye to winter
as spring moves in
and the glory of summer.
Crucifixion comes before
resurrection
the season whispers.

A Responsive Reading

There are those who spend hours huddled
over bibles stirring as if they were cauldrons
filled with gallons of steaming condemnation
drinking from a fountain of self righteousness

There are those who wrap themselves in corsets
containing and prohibiting any human love
freezing out those not deemed suitable
walking two steps ahead of the lowly and unworthy

There are those who scratch words and prayers
on paper that bleed and they suffer oh how they suffer
for their Jesus. P.R. Men for God, the only ones
with hotline to heaven, key to the executive bathroom

There are those who are confused and tired
poor and hopeful, lost and broken, held in God’s hand
with a gentle touch, washed and whispered to
needing, fed, welcomed home, covered by grace

Early Morning Track Ponderings

One Word this week was track

I try to go to a local walking track at least three days a week. I go at 7 and the Texas summer is telling me I may need to go earlier.  I started this morning with Spirit In The Sky playing in my ears, setting the beat, the cadence as I move around the track even though muscles are complaining.  Thinking about spirit. The human spirit.

A minute isn’t long enough for two miles of thinking.  I have to come back and revisit this.

Okay, where was I.  Spirit In The Sky, warm day.  I’m walking along, swinging my arms.  Twice around is two miles. The song starts me thinking about the human spirit – isn’t that a misnomer?  Human equals flesh – spirit, God.  My misbehaving, undisciplined, flesh, complaining, moaning, whining it’s way around the track, down the path, on the journey.

I start out moving to the song, the music keeping the speed until my body settles and muscles loosen and I fall into rhythm with comfortable ease.  About halfway through the walk the comfort isn’t quite as comfortable and I look at the shoe prints in the sand ahead of me and just follow those footprints still listening to the music knowing the goal is worth it. The killing the flesh, struggle to be stronger, healthier.  Can’t get there without some pain.  There’s pain – arthritic feet but you walk through it, past it.

Sometimes there is shade and a cool breeze.  The walking is pleasant.  I’m on the path and the path is smooth and easy on my feet.  Other times the shade is gone and the sun beats down and I’m sweating and wishing I was somewhere else and I could be, it’s a choice after all.  Sometimes I choose wrong but the path is always there and I come back.  There is some ugly trash along the path but also beautiful flowering trees.  Others walk the path as well.  We nod and speak and all keep walking.

The track is not far from where I live but it isn’t exactly at my home.  I have to act to get to it.  I have to choose to get in my car and drive there.  I choose to listen to the music and keep walking, putting one foot in front of the other, finish the race, claim the prize, complete the walk.

The spirit moves us, not our spirit.  We move along the path, track, onward on the journey, wherever the spirit takes us, flesh dying, spirit moving, til we can go home.  Trials on the way and joys too.  Never alone, spirit always with us, nudging, prodding, waiting, speaking if we listen.  Waiting for us to choose, listen, move, obey, and then come home.

Not Ready For Sunday Scribbling

The prompt this week is healing and when I saw that in my reader it made me cry.  Those who know me know this has been a terrible week.  We lost a friend Wednesday night.  His name was Shawn and he left a wife and two daughters.  I’ll post more about this later but for now I’ll tell a little bit of the story.

We left a church we had attended for about ten years.  There were problems and we were lucky to have found a new church home and were healing and moving on.  We met up with some friends who were starting a small Sunday evening praise service at our old church and went and started helping them. This was how we met Shawn and Lindsay and their daughters.  The service fell apart but we had started meeting in each other’s homes once a week for bible study.  The group shrank after that but Shawn and Lindsay became our friends and continued coming along with our friend BJ.

We joked about having short attention spans and while we always had a meal and fellowship, sometimes we didn’t get in as much bible study as we could have.  That used to bother me some but now I see that God had a hand in all of this.

In November Shawn stopped working because the company he was employed by didn’t have any more contracts.  He and my hubby started going up to the church and working some.  My hubby is disabled and has balance problems but could work with Shawn for a few hours and I wasn’t worried about him falling and no one being there.  They also went to a Men’s Ministry class there on Tuesday nights.

Recently Shawn got sick.  He was having stomach problems and went to the emergency room several times where they did very little for him except take his money.  He finally had started having tests run and we worried because it was dragging out so long but thought they would find the problem and fix it.

Wednesday night I checked my phone at church which is something I NEVER do and there was a text from Lindsay saying that they were at the ER and to come if we could.

We left right away but when we got to the hospital, Shawn had already passed away.

When we went to our old church for that evening service I thought that maybe God wanted us to share our faith there.  I thought that was the purpose.  When things fell apart I was left not understanding because if that was the purpose then had we failed?

Now I know that God put us there because He knew the future.  He knew that we would get joy from knowing Shawn who was no angel but could sing like one.  Shawn who loved Third Day’s music and wanted more than anything to be in a praise band.  Shawn who could not ever seem to have a serious discussion for long and would make you laugh til your sides hurt.

God put us there so that we would get to know Lindsay who is shy and reserved at first but has a strong faith and great insights.  She is my sister in Christ and such a gift.  Her oldest daughter reminds me of her and the littlest one is her dad made over.  He fussed at her often, I think because he saw himself in her and knowing himself, wanted to give her guidance.

Above all else Shawn wanted to take care of his family and I know that God has plans for them and I have already seen Him at work in His people loving on Shawn’s family.

Once again, what I thought God was saying was not what he planned,  so as we all try to understand and heal from this grief we know we do so with the hope of Jesus Christ and to quote Shawn, God  “I’m a welder.  Use short words”  God, I’m listening but you know I’m a C+ student at best.

Wednesday night Jason said something in the lesson that stuck with me.  He said God is much more interested in working in us than through us.

A friend is going to put up a memorial site and when it is complete, I will post a link here.  There is no insurance so help for the family will be appreciated.

Sunday Scribbling: Confession 2 (not a story)

Confess they say and I say yes
I think that I should indeed confess
but not to you, just to my God
Who knows my heart and yet loves no less

You don’t own me and you don’t  own God
in fact if stumbling you should cause
Then before you are lain beneath the sod
Turn your angry eyes on your own flaws

I’m free you see because my sins
The Father has cast into the sea
And in the end when the world is made new
That sea is gone and my God wins

My soul is His, I freely give
Just as he died, so I could live
As If I lived like him I’m loved
So I turn from you to Him above

This may sound a bit angry.  I read a lot of things about confession this week that just trouble me so here is my thought on confession as it pertains to being a Christian.  Just my thought…

I think confession is necessary.  I think you confess your sins to God.  I think you confess to Him that you are a sinner and there is no way you can be made right without Him.  This isn’t shame – it’s freedom.  Freedom from constantly feeling as if you don’t measure up, because you don’t.  No one does and never will of their own.  It’s Jesus who does the work that takes away our sin.

We confess to God because it’s the first step to repenting or turning down another path.  We confess and then we turn to Him.  In that turning is forgiveness and restoration – we are restored to Him.  We are Justified.  Just as if I’d never sinned.  Do you get that?
Read the two scriptures below.

Micah 7:19
19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.

Revelation 21
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

They.  Are.  Gone.
I love that

We All Follow

The prompt at Sunday Scribbling is follow and as I sit writing I have a song in my head – Follow That Sound by Sharon Little

I can hear a telephone ringin’
I can hear a gypsy singer singin’

I’m gonna follow,follow that sound
till i know, till i know i cant be found.

there a woman on her knees prayin’
theres a child in the breeze playin’

I’m gonna follow,follow that sound
till i know, till i know i cant be found.

We were strong and thought we could handle anything.  We had a few potholes along the way and thought of them as trials. We had lost people, but we had each other.

Life just kept moving along and crouching in the wings was a lion, ready to pounce and gobble us up.  We knew he was there but as people will, we chose to ignore him hoping he would go away.

Finally one day, his presence was too closely felt and we knew we had to face him or be consumed.

It was a Friday night and D had become sicker and weaker until I could hear his breathing at night – a sound that both reassured me and terrified me.  It didn’t sound right.  We sat down and looked at each other and he admitted that he needed to go to the hospital.  He wanted to wait til Monday because we knew that he would just sit there all weekend and nothing would be done.

Monday we showed up at the emergency room and because of the ongoing construction, I had to remain in the waiting room.  We were so sure it was his heart, and we were right, partially.  His kidneys were failing and it was causing fluid buildup around the heart.  They thought we were crazy because we were encouraged that it was his kidneys.  We knew he could live without kidneys but a heart was a whole other matter.

We followed the doctors instructions.  He began dialysis and I began researching how to feed him.  We were given dietary information which mostly consisted of what he could NOT eat and it was a very long list.  If it had any flavor, dialysis wouldn’t filter the chemicals that create the delicate balance your body needs to survive.  Too much of this, too little of that and the whole pile of cards comes tumbling down.  I was determined that I would find every way possible to give him enough choices to keep eating from being a punishment.  It didn’t always work and he didn’t always accept the choices with grace, but I don’t think I would have been able to accept it as well as he did.

Initially things seemed better,believe it or not.  The dialysis made him feel so much better than he had felt in a long time, that even 4 hours a night, three nights a week seemed to be a small price to pay.  He was soon feeling better but he couldn’t return to work on dialysis so we followed what we told at the dialysis center and learned how to do peritoneal dialysis at home.  After going through the training and making sure our home was set up for it, we followed instructions and diet to the letter!  We were the local poster kids for living with end stage renal disease.  D returned to work and we gradually settled in to a routine.

We had several good years before the lion returned.  D came home from work one night saying he was hurting and didn’t feel right. He did his first exchange and the fluid was cloudy which means peritonitis.  Such an innocuous word for a decent in to hell.  We went to the emergency room again and they gave him antibiotics and called his PD nurse and she called in instructions for more antibiotics to be used in his exchanges.  Nothing worked and things got worse so fast.  He was in so much pain and nothing helped.  We went to the hospital and followed their instructions and for a week met each morning with hope of improvement.  Every day his white count was higher and now he was so medicated for pain that he was hallucinating but still in pain.

I finally made the decision to move him to another hospital and immediately the treatment changed and he slowly started to improve.  He was so close to death when we got there that it took months.  We lived at that hospital for several months total and our children finished the school year on their own. Even after several trips home and then back the process was slow and some of the damage that had been done to his body was permanent.

He was back at the dialysis center three days a week and so discouraged.  We knew at this point he would never return to work.  We were trying to wade through the muddy waters of insurance and disability and in the meantime life went on, kids grew, bills came, and we were taking it one day at a time.  We had beat the lion back one more time.  We knew he just wasn’t feeling as well as he should this time on dialysis and because of hard lessoned learned we monitored everything closely.  Checked his temperature and blood pressure regularly using own thermometer and cuff.  We watched his diet and read his blood work reports carefully.  We talked to his sisters because he was finally ready to try transplant.

His youngest sister was a close match and the process was started.  We are thankful every single day for her gift.  There were other gifts too.  People who supported us financially, with prayer, with cards – gifts so great that thank you just hangs up in my throat.

The family followed us to the hospital.  Friends and pastors too.  We got up and checked the board over and over again.  The board was where they posted progress and approximate time left .  That board seemed to change so slowly.  Finally after what seemed like years, the doc came out and told us that every went well.  We had several hiccups – adjustments in medication were made and finally we were allowed to move from the hospital to an apartment nearby where we could come every day to the transplant clinic at first.  The transplant was Thanksgiving and we finally got to go home at Christmas.  The process is not easy and the anti-rejection drugs are rough at first but we have graduated to checkups every eight weeks.

Following all that, we are remaking ourselves.  Our lives are not what we planned but we are here and the lion, while not gone completely, follows from a distance for now.  Sometimes the paths we follow are not ones we would have chosen for ourselves, but we walk them anyway.  Sometimes they are dark and full of shadows and then sometimes we step out of the shade into the sunlight and the light and the warmth surround us for awhile.

Happy Easter

This was a special Easter for me as our church held our Easter service at the high school where I work.  he last two years it was held at a neighboring school with an auditorium that holds about 650.  Last year some people left because there was no place to sit.

Our auditorium holds a little over 1000 and I was worried that people wouldn’t come because the weather was bad this morning.  I don’t know any exact numbers, but it looked pretty full to me.  That’s just awesome.  It’s encouraging to see that many people, in one place, worshiping together – especially in a community this size.

The service began with the itty bittys singing and it looked like there was about 40 kids up there.  I got so tickled at a little girl in the front who was just about to dance, hopping and raising her hands whenever they would sing “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” – she was so cute.  She was just so excited to be up there.

I was thinking about an Easter before the kids were born when we lived in Littleton.  My best freind and I decided we would go to the sunrise service at Red Rocks which is a natural outdoor amphitheater formed by what they call the “hogback” where the foothills push up at the edge of the Rockies.  The guys had no interest in going so I made us a thermos of coffee and she brought quilts for us to wrap up in.  We left at 4 in the morning because a LOT of people go and it isn’t easy to park.  Even getting there early, we still had quite a hike up to where people were sitting.  It was beautiful and peaceful even in the midst of the crowd.  I found a picture on Flickr – not from back when I went but you get the idea.

This gives just a hint of how big it is.

Hope everyone had a joyous, peaceful Easter holiday.  He is risen! Amen!

Scribbling Prompt – Scary

The Sunday Scribbling prompt this week is Afraid.  What are you scared of?

A lot of things scare me.  Bees and wasps, snakes, pain, Fiddle Head Ferns (I know but they always made me think of aliens), saying the wrong thing (which I DO frequently – you would think I’d be over it).  There are things I worry about but I think those are a different category.

If I really search for the things that can keep me awake – I am afraid of time.

There have been crystal pure moments in this life, where time stopped and I stepped outside of it, barely breathing. I saw everything at once, heard every laugh, smelled the sun, and knew without a doubt that if I was asked at that very moment, where I would like to be, I would have chosen that time and place.  Every color, intense and perfect, feeling complete and peaceful joy.

I don’t mean the big events like births and weddings. Those things are marked by the calendar.

I mean the small, seemingly insignificant times when for some inexplicable reason, it felt as if God’s finger tapped me on the shoulder and whispered that I should look and remember, take it with me. I mean a time when I wasn’t just there, but I was truly present – in that moment.

As a Christian, I know I have the hope of heaven. I believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins.  I believe that God loves me more than my human self can possibly imagine.

My human self can’t imagine anything more beautiful or joyful than those moments. This is a paradox and my most confusing sin.  We are not supposed to be tied to this world – and yet we are given these gifts of moments that make me love this world in a way that goes to the very heart of me.  Oh, I know there are terrible things in this world.  You’ve only to turn on the evening news to get bombarded by violence and tragedy.  We see evidence of how little humans care for other humans every day.  But when I think of how a person’s mind works and through little lines and sounds that form words and how we make leaps of imagination, form relationships, paint pictures, and create music and love, I am in awe.  When I think of the small every day miracles when someone does the right thing for no reason or when someone makes a small gesture of love without being asked it makes me want to hug the world!

But those moments, oh those moments.  They hold me as much as I hold them.  I fear them stopping.  I fear not being here.  I fear not feeling that connection to another human being.  Will I take those moments with me?  Will I remember?  Will I be remembered?

At the same time I’m curious to see what comes next.  In Mark 9 we find the short but oh so meaningful prayer – “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” That sums it up for me. Am I flawed or do others have this doubt?  If we are to love God and desire to be in His presence, is it wrong to have this love for His creation?  Can we love the Creator but hate His creation?  If it’s wrong then why is creation so filled with beauty?  Is it part of learning to trust?

It’s Easter weekend and it’s scary to me to even post this.  This is a time of celebration.  The tomb is empty, Jesus conquered the grave.  I know these things but I want to know them MORE. A friend told me (teasingly I think) that I’m nosy.  I am, it’s true.  More than nosy – I like to KNOW things.  I like proof of things. I like things to make sense.  I love it when a bible teacher explains something that makes the Bible make sense.  I love the mystery and mystical”ness” but the logic and proof make me enjoy that part more. When I learn something that proves the gospel, it doesn’t all of a sudden make me start believing.  It’s more like YES!  I knew it!

Sooo, I hope I am not judged too harshly for doubts.  Isn’t that what faith is about?  We keep walking because we trust God to guide us, even when in and of ourselves we know we are lost?

Celebrate

I was not in a celebratory mood this weekend so when I saw the prompt from Sunday Scribblings was Celebrate I was dismayed.

A stressful week and then not feeling well physically had me kind of shut down.
We are still in Ephesians at church and as I opened my bible, it fell to the page that contained the following scripture.

Ephesians 14

Therefore He says:
“ Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Once again I’m reminded of how easy it is for me to forget that light.  We sleep, and anger creeps in.  We are spiritually dead, and self becomes all important.  How much of my time is spent “sleepwalking”.  God is faithful and calls me through His Son, to awake to the light and to celebrate that gift by letting that light shine through me for others, so that Christ can draw people to Him.  I mess up.  I close my eyes and sleep.  Today I celebrate the light that Jesus gives us all, and once again am humbled that though I sleep, again and again, He doesn’t let go of me and gently wakes me up to see that the light never leaves – I just need to open my eyes.

We’ve been sleeping for so long
Living in the dark alone
He has called us with HIs song
We remain His very own

We celebrate the light
Rejoicing in the Giver
We open up our eyes
And look to Him forever

Amazing how God knows what we need to hear, even when we are asleep.  Thanks Sunday Scribblings for this prompt

A Saint Goes Marching

I am not from this community and when you are a “transplant” you don’t know all the history and the long-time relationships between families and the community.  I have lived here long enough, however that some of the recent history of the community has become mine as well.

My kids were both band nerds and for several summers I had kids playing in the summer concerts in the park put on by the municipal band.  Musicians from high school age on up would gather to practice once a week and on Friday nights we could drag our quilts and lawn chairs to the park and families would gather around the pavilion to hear them play.  The concerts always begin with the National Anthem and end with “I Love Paris”.

These concerts are one of the things I have grown to love about my adopted community.  What a picture of small town America and like any small town, the picture has it’s own flavor because of the characters involved.

We lost one of those characters this week.  I knew him and his family through work but my favorite memories will be of him introducing the songs at the summer concerts.  Ever a teacher and music enthusiast, he saw that we had a little piece of information about the different composers and the music.  A regular composer each year was Henry Fillmore.  Because of Pat I know that Mr. Fillmore was known as the “Father of the Trombone Smear” and that he married an exotic dancer named Mabel May Jones. When his introduction began, as soon as he mentioned Henry Fillmore, those of us who were “regulars” for several years would chuckle because we knew that he would mention Mabel next.

I know that Pat was loved by his family, friends, and community and this is my favorite memory of him.  I will always think of my kids and their years in band when I hear a march being played but  now I will also be listening in my mind for Pat to tell a story about it.  I know you are a saint who is marching in right now.  Thanks Pat,  and God speed.

Are You Sunny or Gray?

There was a lesson at church this week on how we are most like satan when we are accusing our brothers or sisters.  The bible talks about whispers – you know what I’m talking about.  A better word is probably muttering.  Doesn’t that paint an attractive picture? The negative things we say that get back to people or even if they don’t, they color our attitude about that person and everything in general.  They also color us.  When we slop muddy paint on someone else we can’t help but get some on ourselves.

I wish we were like those big trucks that make the loud beeping warning sound when they are backing up.  When we start backing up into bad behavior the warning beeps would help us stop in our tracks and turn.  BEEP BEEP you’re not being an encourager!  BEEP BEEP You’re not controlling your tongue!  Danger Will Robinson!!

I’ve been trying to meditate on it all week and a friend of mine once said something that seemed so profound and at the same time, so simple.  We can’t always change our circumstance but we can always change our attitude towards our circumstance.

Our attitude is sometimes the only thing we DO have control over, or I should say, God has control over.  I can’t stop backing up into bad stuff but I can pray that God will put the brakes on and show me which direction to turn.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Maybe they could invent “Good Attitude” the drug.  We could have a pump like they use for morphine.  Every time we feel a negative attitude coming on we could just hit the little button and POOF – we are sunny and yellow instead of muddy gray.

The thing about attitude is that it is catching like a virus.  In ministry when there is encouragement – people get saved, churches get planted, people do ministry.  When there is muttering and whispering the very opposite happens.  It applies in our jobs and families the same way.  We have the choice to lift up or drag down.  I want to do better at the lifting up.  I want more sunny yellow and less muddy gray.  I’m not good at it, but I’m going to work at it.

I had a really bad day.  I tried to keep the muttering to a minimum.

pictures by http://flickr.com/photos/botheredbybees/ and http://flickr.com/photos/ir0cko/