Second Glance, Second Chance

A6857EDA-A84B-48C4-B0CA-1FE440C3BF6C

I read a post this morning by my friend Tammy Whitehurst (look her up on Facebook, she’s an awesome communicator). It made me cry. Happy tears. Finally, I found someone who’s Easter experience resembled mine.

Most of what I’ve been reading since yesterday is more lament. Sadness over what we missed: big choirs, lots of celebration, surrounded by a warm sense of community, family feasts—all the good stuff Easter evokes and offers.

I had very little of that. But what I did had touched my heart deeply. Please don’t miss the blessings that came while you pine for what wasn’t.

The message that was laid on my heart to share from the Easter story was the word of the angel to Peter…including Peter. The Easter message is a message of hope and restoration. Peter’s story is our story. Peter, after his pathetic personal performance (aka betrayal) was being offered a second chance.

Don’t miss the second chance you’re being offered.

It seems to me that when the people of God have gotten too comfortable, God shakes up the pot. Ask Job. Check with David. Look at Paul. And don’t forget those wandering former slaves who just couldn’t get it right…take another lap around Mt. Sinai.

Before this current pandemic went down. Before you were ordered to stay home. Do you remember wishing you had more time to read your Bible? Do you remember wishing you could have more time to dig deeper, move deeper spiritually?

How’s that working for you? How much TV/movies etc have you binge watched? I’m not saying it’s bad but I wonder how good it is for your spirit?

Confession. I found I was reading “news” articles on line far more than I was reading things that would encourage my faith and spirit. I felt myself sliding down a slippery slope into cynicism and despair.

Fortunately, after a long conversation with a friend (face to face and safely distanced, thank you Louise Waller) I was able to pull myself out of the nose dive. But I’m going to tell you, it was like what you see in the movies when the pilot is pulling back on the control with all their strength—not sure if they’re going to make it.

I made it.

You can too.

But second chances, like what Peter got, like what God has for each of us, are a gift we have to receive. Intentionality is involved. Want to is mandatory. We may not be able to choose your circumstances or situation, but we choose our response.

Peter could have heard the message and not believed it could be true. “Yeah, right. Maybe for someone else—not me.” Or like the rich young ruler in Jesus’ story (see Mark 10:17-31) walk away empty handed, empty hearted.

If all we see is what we didn’t have this Easter…then we walk away empty handed.

What did I learn? You take away all the trappings. All that is familiar and comforting. All that I count on. And I can still find so much to be thank-full for. So much room for praise. And a joy this world cannot take away.

What blessing did you receive in this unusual, but very special holy season?

More Bubble Thoughts

DEC7B0EF-0515-4D66-91CD-B47606BA656C

I love bubbles. And I love the thoughts that bubble up with them.

This morning when I closed the Dawn bottle at the end of dishwashing, I watched to see if I would be rewarded with a few bubbles. The smallest bubble I’d ever seen escaped from the bottle.

It was a baby bubble. And while some may have groused at it’s minuscule size—bemoaning not only it’s quality, but lack of quantity—I giggled. And then I became thank-full.

My itty-bitty friend reminded my of my least favorite hymn: Showers of Blessing. I loathe the chorus: Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.

I prefer a different hymn and way of looking at things…like my tiny bubble. In the hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, we are reminded of the words from Lamentations: “Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided.”

Big or small, all good gifts come from the One who loves us and knows what we need (see James 1:17).

So today, let’s not miss the smaller blessings that come our way while beg and expect great things to happen.

 

Getting Ready for Reunion

WP HS 40 yrs

August 8 is rapidly approaching.

My 40th High School Reunion.

How can it be that?

Did I blink?

Did I slip into some kind of Brigadoon?

Am I really staring at turning 60 in two short years?

So many questions. So little time.

Some days I feel like I’ve lived five different lives, and then it’s like I haven’t lived at all.

One of the ways I sort through thoughts and feelings is to put the words out in front of me. I do my best thinking out loud.

Today’s Reunion Thought: Angst Revisited

WP HS no more angst

Definition: noun
1. a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.

I will never forget walking up the sidewalk by what was then the practice field. It was wide and long…very long, and I was having trouble breathing.

I was sure I would never forgive my father for uprooting me from the place where I felt like I was finally starting to connect.

I didn’t know anyone here. I was sure no one would ever want to know me.

Mustn’t cry. But I wanted to cry and to run. Life was over. I was sure of it.

WP HS crowded halls

And so began the awkward angst-filled dance called High School. All the struggles with wanting to fit in, wanting to be liked and loved. The only moments when I didn’t feel alone were the moments when I happened to sit with a girlfriend in the bathroom weeping over the latest break-up. “What’s wrong with us?” we would cry.

Oh the battles with the monster “Enough.” Never smart enough. Never thin enough. Never enough.

WP HS coffee

It wasn’t until many years later when I got together with two friends from the ‘Burg and listened to them that I realized how un-unique my feelings were.

I’ve been doing some online reading about the experiences of others as they struggled with the whole reunion battle. Should I go? Why bother?

It seems the older we get the greater the need to look back. Who would have thought that what lies ahead would hold scarier moments than first loves won and lost, first jobs, and first wings of freedom.

Someone likened going to a reunion to getting a ‘do over.’ I can live with that. I’ve been living my do over for several years. And some of that process and growth has actually been helped by unexpected connections I’ve made on Facebook.

Here’s what I’ve decided: Life has been good. I have had my share of challenges, and enough disappointments, failures, and shame for three people–not that I was trying to hoard it. But my focus here on out is where it needs to be. I’m counting my blessings and thanking my God, especially that my dad yanked me away from where I was comfortable and planted me somewhere I could flourish.

So to the class of 1975, let’s enjoy this occasion.

WP HS 40 acronymn

Jesus Wept

WP tears in a bottle

Not long before his “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Books have been written on this one event. People have dissected the miracle, both to prove and disprove what happened.

I’m not interested in the arguments right now. I want to take a moment to look at Jesus, and the shortest sentence in the Bible.

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

This morning I had a huge disappointment. My heart hurt and the tears flowed. The conversation happened right in the middle of writing this post.

I sat here in my chair wondering how I could say anything profound or encouraging…when the presence of Jesus and the remembrance of his tears for his friends who were hurting brought comfort to my spirit.

The old gospel song asks the question: Does Jesus care? And refrain answers back: Oh yes he cares, I know he cares. His heart is touched with my grief.

It’s all I’ve got today. I hope it’s enough for you, because it’s more than enough for me.

PRAYER: Jesus, you were there to comfort Mary and Martha in the time of grief. You wept with them…you hurt with them. Thank you for feeling my hurt to and coming alongside me. You see each tear that falls. Thank you for the comfort of your presence. Amen.

WP He knows my name

Welcome Aboard.

WP triptik

I think Lent comes at a very good time of the year.

Typically we start the year out with great resolve, high hopes, and a few plans for improving life. And we usually make it for a few days, maybe weeks…and then we peter out.

My spiritual word for this year is habits. I started out amazingly. I was exercising daily, eating well, and reading through my Bible. The only habit I have faithfully maintained is reading my Bible. Both my healthy eating and my exercise have been inconsistent at best for the last couple weeks.

What has made the difference with my reading?

I’m not doing it alone.

In my church we were challenged as a congregation to read through the Bible this year. But as nice as that challenge is, it hasn’t motivated me. It’s not personal enough.

The difference is I have an accountability partner. I have someone who not only asks, “So have you read your Bible today?” We also discuss some of the interesting, surprising, familiar, and favorite things we read.

My partner? My husband. It’s handy and it’s a blessing.

I have accountability partners for my writing, too.

Why? Do you want the long answer or the short one? You get the short one. When I’m not accountable, I can make all kinds of poor choices. When I am accountable I find I am more successful. And I want to succeed.

There are numerous examples and admonishments to be accountable in scripture.One for today as we think about this faith journey: Encourage one another and build up one another.(1 Thessalonians. 5:11)

It’s not that we can’t or won’t see Jesus on our own, but let’s look together.

There’s joy in the journey…together.

WP group travel

PRAYER MOMENT: God you are our leader and guide. Your Word tells us you go before and follow behind. You led the Israelites through the wilderness with a pillar of fire and a cloud. A map or sign might be nice, but more than that we want to feel you beside us as we maneuver the hazards of life. Thank you for the encouragement we can receive from other travelers and help us to be encouragers as well. Create good habits in us this Lenten season as we seek to see you, know you, and find you daily. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving

The very first scripture that I learned was Psalm 100:

If I close my eyes I can still see myself as a third grader holding my red hard bound RSV version of the Bible reading the psalm with the other children n my class.

To this day those words shape who I am.

And who I am is about giving thanks today.

Blessings to you!

Wondering and Wandering to Christmas: Are You Feeling Lucky?

During my years of pastoral ministry, I had the privilege of working as assistant pastor to an extremely gifted man, Lester Clark. I learned so much from him. One of the things that shapes who I am and how I function can be directly attributed to Pastor Clark’s teaching. He didn’t believe in luck. He was so convinced on this matter that he didn’t call carry-in dinners Pot Lucks, he called them Pot Blessings.

Luck is defined as “a combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person” (dictionary.com). Synonyms for luck include: happenstance, karma, and fortuitousness. For me the reason I don’t believe in luck is in the essence or definition: the idea of chance. Chance meeting. What are the chances of that happening?

If we believe in luck, then we would believe that it was fortuitous that Mary was betrothed to kind-hearted Joseph, a man who would go completely against the norm and go ahead and take her as his wife. We consider them quite fortunate for having shown up at the only inn with a stable still available and an inn keeper’s wife with a conscience when it came to sending a woman about to deliver out into the night. I don’t believe it was luck. I believe was God was working all things for good.

Another place where I don’t see luck, but rather see God is in the ways our paths cross at just the right time with people who touch and change our lives. When I was teaching classes in my last job, I would share with the class at the outset that I didn’t know why we were together, but that I completely believe that God put us there on purpose and for a purpose. I would refer to 1 Corinthians 12:18b: God has put each part just where he wants it (NLT).

Are you feeling lucky, or blessed? How do you look at and consider the circumstances of your life? Have you missed any divine appointments lately? Have you snarled about an inconvenience or interruption recently instead of considering God was working for your good or the good of someone around you? Consider changing your perspective and don’t leave anything to chance.

A Latte Love (Factor of 7)

This is such a cool idea. What a great way to be a blessing to others. I’ve heard of others paying, but then to follow through with praying. I was very excited to share this ministry with others.

A Latte Love (Factor of 7).