Friday, March 10, 2017

Seeing Things from A Diiferent Point of View

My two weeks in Australia was wonderful! So much to see, people to meet, and family with whom I enjoyed the adventure.  But what struck me was seeing things from a different viewpoint.

Being in the southern hemisphere really does that! Not only was it full summer there, but as you traveled further NORTH the hotter it got! It was more moderate to the south, and that took a bit of getting used to.

Then there was looking at the night sky.  It was like being in another world! The stars were not even the same constellations for the most part and certainly there was nothing in their familiar places in the sky.  But just because they were different didn't make them any less breath-taking! In fact, it was awe-inspiring to look up and see things differently while still being on the same planet.

One of the other startling differences in Australia was the friendliness of the people.  Their assumption was always that we would be friendly and they could be at ease and even joke with people they just met.  There was little of the tenseness that we have in our country when we meet people we don't know, and it was startling and refreshing.  Even airport workers joked with us on the domestic flights!

Seeing the Great Barrier Reef from right above it as we snorkeled and soaring above the rain forest on the Sky Rail also gave new and exciting perspectives on this wondrous creation of Earth. What an experience!

And some things were the same - WiFi available, Uber as well as taxis in the cities, and sunny skies. Of course car travel was on the left side of the road which totally gives another perspective on driving through cities, but there was a feeling of being at home in Australia.

Seeing things from this new perspective reminds me that although we all live on the same planet there are many ways of experiencing the same life and the same creation.  I am reminded that while we are all children of God we have different ways of sharing our faith and seeing what God has created.  And, that gives me space to experience new things without being afraid of what it means. 

I hope you follow your opportunities to see things in new ways so you too can be opened to the new things God has in store!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Anticipation!

Any time I hear the word "anticipation" I think of the song by Carly Simon.  The line is       
                         "Anticipation Is makin' me late. Is keeping me waiting"

That's how anticipation feels to us, right?  We have to wait and wait and it's not always comfortable but sometimes it's exhilarating!  I am off to Australia in less than a week and my anticipation is growing with each item put on my "to do" list as well as for each time I look at pictures and can't wait to get there. 

Anticipation is a neutral - not only good or only bad - but the one thing it does in either case is get us going.  Here's two examples:

First, think about the anticipation of Christmas morning for a child (and many adults!).  Seeing presents under the tree and thinking about coming down in the morning to unwrap them. Anticipation is full of excitement and mystery and it sometimes keeps children from sleeping.  All of their attention and action is focused on getting downstairs to see what awaits them.

Our second example is this: the anticipation of a new administration and new president.  Don't groan, I know we are all being bombarded by this, but it is a great illustration!  Some citizens anticipate a new administration will bring a narrowing of who we are in the world and back peddling on civil rights and even unity.  But others anticipate the new administration will bring their voice to the forefront and will embody their views.  As you know, much of the focus in our country has been on what will happen with a new president.  The anticipation is causing some people to protest and some to celebrate. 

What's interesting is that in both examples anticipation brings us to ACTION! When we are happy and complacent there's no need to get moving, but when we are anticipating something, good or bad, our blood gets moving, we talk to others, we plan, we protest, we rejoice.  But we DO something.  Anticipation may keep us waiting for the outcome - the trip, the presents, the administrative action - but it also gets us up and out of our chairs and out into the world.

Next month Lent begins.  It is, for me, the anticipation of the reminder of Jesus' resurrection.  During that time of Lent the anticipation sends us out to Lenten studies, Taize services, serving our community, looking within ourselves.  It certainly causes us to take action.  Even if we don't have Lent as part of our tradition, this time before Easter is a time of anticipation, of action. 

I can't wait to go on my trip and see all of the new things in Australia and meet new people! I also can't wait for Easter for my trip through Lent will be filled with learning new things and working to deepen my relationship with God.  The anticipation is keeping me waiting - and I can't wait!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sun Shine

I don't know about where you are, but here in Duluth, Minnesota it is always a blessing to see the sun shine in the winter!  There's so little light in the day and when it's overcast it feels gloomy and you begin to feel as if there's nothing to do but go to bed.

Today the sun is shining and it's warm! It reminds me of when we let the light of God into our lives, when we take the time to feel the Son shine.  That light disperses the gloom in our souls and lets us reconnect with God and God's world. 

But when there is gloom in our minds and souls it's so easy to block out the light.  Just as we have curtains on the windows that we can pull to keep the light from entering and brightening up our home or office, we can pull curtains over our hearts that can keep God's love and light from entering in.  Those curtains are fear, hate, self-pity, to name just a couple of things.  And we can make those curtains thick or thin - to let in some or none of God's light.

Just like today, with the sun shining and reflecting off of the white snow, filling the world with light and heat, God also shines all around us whether we want God to or not! We have no control over that - the light of the world is with us no matter what.

So, it is up to us whether we let the light in - whether we put on sunglasses, pull the curtains, or stand basking in the light of God's world and God's love.  The choice is ours.  What do you choose?

Blessings,

Pastor Laurie

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Contentment

I have been having a number of conversations recently about CONTENTMENT.  What does that mean? And, how does one experience it? 

The dictionary defines CONTENTMENT as: the state of being satisfied. Hmmm. What does that mean?  To be satisfied means to be well pleased or happy with something. 

I like that phrase "well pleased". It has been used in some of the Bible interpretations - God is well pleased with Jesus at his baptism to name one instance.  Well pleased. I think, as people of faith, we should be well pleased because God has taken away our fear of death, so each day should be filled with contentment, right?

There's a story about my grandmother.  Every day she would get up and open the front door.  No matter the weather - hot, cold, sunny, stormy - she would note that it was a beautiful morning! That is what I think of as contentment. Not having to delve into the weather report or have a discussion on global warming before taking a moment to enjoy the world and be well pleased to be alive!

However, if you're like me, contentment, being well-pleased, is not something that comes automatically.  I find I have to intentionally stop myself to note the beauty of my garden or the how pleased I feel as I write or how content I am with my friends.  If I don't stop (and smell the roses as singer Mac Davis once sang) I rush right by the wonders of this life into its problems.

And when I forget to see the beauty and the miracles and the love and laughter that surrounds me, I lose my perspective on life.   Do you ever feel that way? 

Life can get you down if you concentrate only on the negative and don't stop to see all of the wonder and beauty around.  There is so much with which to be well-pleased if we just stop and take note of it. But it has to be intentional.  It has to be something to build into your daily life so that it becomes part of who you are and how you live out a faithful life.

God is well-pleased with each of us - isn't it time we are well-pleased with this life we have?  May you find contentment this week and stop to let it sink into your soul!!

Blessings,

Laurie


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The New Year

Happy 2017!  It's been quite a while since I have written on this blog but my New Year's resolution is to get back to it.  So, here we go!!


Another year another new leg of life's journey! Oh I know what you're thinking  - this is the same old journey, we've just turned the calendar page, but that's only true if you want it to be. What happens on your journey in 2017 is what you make of  the events and opportunities, the pain and the sadness.

The New Year may just be a date on a calendar but it can also be the beginning of a new adventure on your journey. In our faith lives it's always good to renew our covenant with God and with one another at least yearly.  It helps us to remember what our faith is all about and how we want to live it out.  

Last Sunday at Hope we participated in the Wesley covenant renewal service which makes one stop and really think about what it means to be a Christian and whether you are ready to place yourself in God's hands.  It was also a time of joy as we celebrated our community of faith and the promise that comes from the light of Jesus.

We also gave out jars (popular now on social media!) so congregations members and friends could begin to acknowledge the good things in life and revisit them next New Year's Eve at a minimum.  I think they will also be useful on days when one is sad or lonely - to be able to look at all of the awesome things that have happened! 

So, it's the beginning of January.  What are you going to do?  How will you approach this new year?  May it be with the faith of Jesus within you and the light of faith leading you all the way!!



Friday, July 19, 2013

One week Post-Surgery

I would never have believed I could feel this good only a week after having my hip replaced!  Oh, there have been big ups and downs and there is, of course, still pain medication involved, but overall I thank God to be sitting up in a chair having walked downstairs with only a cane!  The human body is truly miraculous.

I have leaned so many things over this past week.  I know I dislike hospitals not only because of a complete loss of control but also because I felt as if I would never be released!  Even with that I had wonderful care and I know without that I wouldn't be sitting here.  Nurses, aides, PT, OT people all have hard jobs listening to the pain and fear of their patients over and over again.  Thank all of you who do this work!!!!!

The main area of learning is my body.  What a wondrous creation it truly is.  All of the pain and anguish I felt in the hospital has already become fuzzy in my mind as it works to protect me from myself.  And each new day brings new information about how my body deals with pain, with pain medication, with recovery.  I cannot adequately describe the process but it reminds me of the first semester of seminary when all of our preconceived ideas about faith and religion were laid waste down to the foundation then built back from there.  With the surgery that is being laid to the core and my body is rebuilding its strength and operations from that moment of time when it was under anesthesia.

For instance, my sense of smell was thrown off from the anesthesia.  When I was in the hospital, any time a new person came into the room I felt nauseous!  And food was the worst!  When the food would come up I would take a sniff and I couldn't eat things I have always enjoyed because they didn't smell the way they were supposed to.  Even now I am still finding some things hard to eat because the smell and/or taste is not the same.

And luckily for me, while my body has been busy fighting for recovery I haven't had to deal with allergies!  I have been careful about what I eat as well so I get to have my own research of what happens to my system when I eat certain things.  Very interesting.  However, I do have to report that as of this morning my allergies have arisen - my right eye is almost swollen shut!  The bad news is I have no idea why.  The good news is that Bella was not the cause!

Most importantly I have learned how important it is to have good support for these medical journeys.  I would have been even more distressed in the hospital if my sisters Robyn and Susan had not taken 6-8 hours of their days to be with me.  And I would not be having such a smooth recovery without Robyn, Tom, Will and Lauren who have all been so wonderful to me as I upset their household!  Of course it's only fair for Will since he will be living with me Sept-Dec. as he finishes up at UMD.

And the support of all of my family, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ is overwhelming!  Thanks to you all for your cards, calls and visits.  My life is so full of love and blessings.  Thank God!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Into the Unknown

As I write this I am only a few days away form having my hip replaced - a surgery many of you may have already had!  But for me it's new and it's a bit scary as I have never spent a night in a hospital and have only had anesthesia on one other occasion so I don't know what lies ahead.  People tell me the surgery is a pretty easy one in comparison to others but all I know is that I don't know much about what's going to happen.

I am blessed to have so many faith friends as well as family who are walking this journey with me.  I do know that no matter what happens prayers will be with me and with the team operating on me.  The rest is in God's hands.  I thank you all for putting up with my pain, my inability to sit through meetings, dinners, etc. and I look forward to August when I can do those things again!

We all face these times when we look forward and it's a hole where we have no knowledge and no real idea of what to expect.  So, we rely on our experiences and the people around us to help that hole seem not so big or scary.  But sometimes our experience can hold us back.  In my case, I have known literally dozens of people who have had surgery over the past four years with no problem what so ever.  But my experience in my personal life is just the opposite - the person I loved dearly, my late husband, did not have a good surgical experience and never made it out of the hospital.  So, while my head tells me everything is going to be just fine, my heart contracts in fear about what could happen.

And so I do the only thing I can or should - I turn to God.  I have spent many hours praying about whether to have surgery, about my fears and about giving up my need to control the situation.  Each day I move closer to the surgery I give more and more of my thoughts and fears to God and I thank God for giving me so many people in my life who can show me the love and grace to get me through this time.

My life is full and my joy of living continues and I look forward to living even more fully when I don't have to think about my hip every moment of the day!  But most of all I thank God for yet another experience to enrich my life, to stretch my faith and to remember I am part of something so much bigger than just myself.

Blessings to you - I will update my blog when I am out of the hospital!