Archives for April 2013

Those Little Things — Reflections on Omaha: A Photo Essay

It was a retreat about big things,
God-sized things.
Dreams, to be exact.
Dreams that God plants in each of us,
designed specifically for us,
invitations to step out, step up, practice obedience.

But what I most remember are the small things,
moments of grace and beauty,
reminders that the God of big dreams is ever and always,
the God of the details, too.

As I told you last week, I almost didn’t get there. 

When I did get there, it went something like this.

A pinpoint landing on an Omaha runway, after five different attempts,
late in the evening of the opening session.

During those rugged 36 hours of trying to get there,
I had re-packed my bags to make the checked bag heavy,
the carry-on, light.
Instead of my usual flying outfit of sweat pants and shirt,
I dressed up a little, knowing the arrival time would
barely allow space to breathe, much less change clothes.

So I hurried off the plane, found my rental car, but lost my heavy bag, and took off
over 35 miles of Nebraska country roads,

arriving at the retreat center just after dark,

exactly in time to offer the first of my assigned contributions —
the closing prayer.
I jokingly asked everyone in that gathering space to tolerate
well the clothing I was wearing, as the rest of it was still enroute.

That outfit included the earrings at the top of this post.

If you know me at all, you know that I love earrings.
Love them.
And collect them, too. But that purple-pink color is hard to find,
and I remember how pleased I was to find these beaded ones.

Exhausted, I headed back to the hotel where I was staying,
after a brief run through a 24-hour Walmart to purchase
a few toiletries, something to sleep in, and a change of
underwear and shirt.

As I got ready for bed, too tired to see straight,
I realized that one of my beaded, purple-pink earrings was missing.
I looked through all layers of my clothing, my large purse and then
I scoured the car the next morning.

No earring.

Can I just admit to you that this loss made me a little bit teary?
I know, it’s just a small thing.
But sometimes, it’s those small things that trigger
the big emotions. My own fatigue played a large part in those tears,
I know that. But it was the missing earring that
somehow represented for me the deepness of that fatigue,
and the difficulty of getting to Omaha at all.

As I have made a lifetime habit of doing, I sucked it up.
I’ve gotten quite good at that over these years.
Quite good.
Generally, when I’m struggling, you’ll see only the topmost layer
the layer I can joke about, make light of —
because I’ve taught myself to . . .
rise above?
put a good face on it?
see the glass as half full?
avoid whining?

I don’t know all the reasons why, I just know what I do.

So I sucked it up, got up in time for breakfast, traveled back to the conference center,
and asked the Lord for eyes to see what I needed to see.

Here are a few examples.

Quiet moments of conversation, tucked away here and there,
faces intent and engaged, attention being paid.

Friends becoming sisters.

Earnest times of prayer and connection.

Brothers here and there, encouraging, serving, sharing.

Watching one of the most beautiful women I know turn like a flower toward the sun, time after time after time —
doing exactly what the Lord equipped and called her to do.
Thank you, Dee, for dreaming big and following hard.

Shared laughter, creative thinking through glitches.

Astounding leadership skills, gifted speakers and organizers.

In-real-life connections, arm-in-arm, heart-to-heart.

Beauty in abundance, from short to tall, from north to south,
from every single face.

The glory of a family farm as spring begins to peek through the earth.

The joy of women’s voices, preaching, teaching, leading, blessing.

The power of small symbols to tell big truths,
the simple act of writing out the roadblocks,
depositing them at the altar,

 entrusting them to the far reaches of an Iowa farm pond,
another small but concrete act of relinquishment.
These stones of heartbreak were tossed to the bottom of that pond
this weekend — they were read, remembered, prayed over and then
released by the hands of two generations of women of God.
Jennifer, Lydia and Anna Lee — we thank you.

Sunday morning arrived and still no luggage.
In that bag, I had packed Sunday-morning equipment that I could not access,
yet new friends helped to gather all that was needed,
all that was right.
This was my primary responsibility for the weekend,
to lead us all in a service of worship and communion,
to remember who we are,
to celebrate who we might become.

And again it is the little things that spoke most powerfully –
the bread, the cup.
And these stones of remembrance,
shiny and bright, reminders of how God
is in the business of changing the rocks of regret
into reflections of glory.

The bread was hand baked, tough but delicious.
We had to work a little to tear off our portion.
And somehow, that was a powerful small thing for me,
reminding each one who came, by name,
that the Body was broken for them,
and by them — a gift that must be taken
with energy and commitment.

But here is the tiny thing that was perhaps the one thing that spoke to me,
just me — Diana —
most powerfully over the course of this rich, rich weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, I was too tired to stay for informal conversations,
and too old and infirm to even think about the ‘brave’ activities like zip-lining.
So I headed back to the hotel for a shower and a nap.

As I opened my car door, something shiny caught my eye.
Nestled on the floor of the car,
the very car I had inspected carefully for just such evidence,
was my lost earring.

It winked up at me, in the middle of my exhaustion,
in the middle of my constant anxiety about being enough
and doing enough,
and it said to me these words:
“I see you, Diana. I know you.
What was lost is found, sweetheart.
What was lost is found.”

And so I was.

Yes,  my bag eventually found me,
two days after returning home!
And as I unpacked all those things I knew I had to have to
do the job for which I had been called,

 I remembered again. . .
it isn’t the stuff that makes me who I am.
It isn’t the stuff that defines me.

I am a pastor.
I didn’t ask to be, I didn’t even want to be.
But I am.
And it is God who provides what is truly needed,
often through the loving generosity and creative ideas
that emerge from the people in my life at any given moment in time.
I am still unpacking, friends.
Still unpacking all my stuff.
Oh, the suitcase contents are long since stowed away,
but I am unpacking nonetheless.
And prayerfully asking, “What can I learn? How can I change?
Who am I now, and what dream are you asking me to own?”
I’ll keep you posted.
Today, I’ll join em’s prompt late and on Monday, I will add this to the links at Laura’s, Jen’s, Michelle’s places.

The Prayers from #JTreat

Wow, what a wild and wonderful weekend it was! The Jumping Tandem Retreat was all that we hoped and prayed for . . . and more. I hope to write some personal reflections soon in this space, but until then, here are the prayers I read at the close of Friday and Saturday evening’s keynote events. And the homily from Sunday morning’s worship service, too.

Friday evening, after Holley Gerth’s wonderful beginning to our weekend together, these words from a martyred Zimbabwean pastor’s notes, found after his death:

“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have the Holy Spirit power.
The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made– I’m a disciple of His.

I won’t look back,
let up,
slow down,
back away,
or be still.

My past is redeemed,
my present makes sense,
my future is secure.

I’m finished and done with low living,
sight walking,
smooth knees,
colorless dreams,
tamed visions,
worldly talking,
cheap giving,
and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence,
or popularity.

I don’t have to be right, first, tops,
recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.

I now live by faith,
lean in His presence,
walk by patience,
am uplifted by prayer,
and I labor with power.

My face is set,
my gait is fast,
my goal is heaven,
my road is narrow,
my way rough,
my companions are few,
my Guide reliable,
my mission clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured,
lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice,
hesitate in the presence of the enemy,
pander at the pool of popularity,
or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up,
until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up,
preached up for the cause of Christ.

 I am a disciple of Jesus.
I must go till He comes,
give till I drop,
preach till all know,
and work till He stops me.
And, when He comes for His own,
He will have no problem recognizing me…
my banner will be clear!”

And from Saturday evening’s creative and inspiring message from Jennifer Dukes Lee, this adapted piece from Celtic Daily Prayer:

Teach Us to Speak, Teach Us to Listen
adapted from “Caedmon – A Declaration of a Dream” in Celtic Daily Prayer, pg. 85

 Teach me to hear your story through each person,
to cradle a sense of wonder in their life,
to honor the hard-earned wisdom of their sufferings,
to waken their joy that the King of all kings stoops down
to wash their feet,
and looking up in their face says,
“I know, I understand.”

 This world has become a world of broken dreams
where dreamers are hard to find and friends are few.

 Lord, be the gatherer of our dreams.
You set the countless stars in place,
and found room for each of them to shine
You listen for us in your heaven-bright hall.
Open our mouths to tell our tales of wonder.

 We have a dream that all the world will meet you,
and know you, Jesus, in your living power,
that someday soon all people everywhere will hear your story,
and hear it in a way they understand.

 I cannot speak unless you loose my tongue;
I only stammer, and I speak uncertainly;
but if you touch my mouth, my Lord,
then I will sing the story of your wonders!

 I cannot hear unless you loose my ears;
I turn away, and miss the quiet cues;
but if you touch my ears, my Lord,
then I will hear the wonders of your word,
the wonders of your word as
told through those I meet.

 So touch our tongues and touch our ears,
tune them to the Truth.
And as we share and as we hear,
may we not forget to tell
your story–of love and grace and peace.

Here am I, my Jesus–teach me.

And Sunday morning’s homily:

Jumping Tandem Retreat
Closing Worship Service
April 21, 2013

 Finding Our Way Home
Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30

It’s been a rich time together these three days. We’ve been stretched — some of us quite literally! — we’ve been encouraged, we’ve probably been a little bit overwhelmed from time to time, I’m guessing. After all, dreaming great, big, audacious dreams can do that to a person. Dreaming any kind of change, imagining a picture of a new future, big or little or in-between — any kind of dream can feel sorta scary.

And now, in just a few short minutes, we’ll begin to journey back home, that place where all these dreams, no matter their size, just might begin to come true.
Are you feeling the butterflies? A teensy bit queasy? Uncertain? Excited? Challenged? Maybe even hopeful?

Well, good.

Because that means we’ve done the job God began throwing our way many months ago. Our fearless leader, Deidra Riggs, began mulling and yes — dreaming! — about each one of you a LONG time ago. And look around you — go ahead, look around. And now, look down at your own lap, at those hands of yours and those feet.

Do you see yourselves?

YOU are Deidra’s dream come true, dear friends. Yes, you are. Yes, WE are — every single one of us, young, old and in-between. And I want to tell you a little secret here: you, we, each of us and all of us together — we are GOD’s dream come true, too.

So, as we spend these few moments together, facing God, linking arms and hearts, singing and speaking, hearing the Word, eating the Word, I invite you to reflect with me on the strongest single image of this week’s lectionary texts, a word-picture we read about very specifically in 3 of the passages before us today. It’s a through line, a sparkling red thread, as my friend Sandy King might say: and that red thread is this one: the image of God as our shepherd.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t run across shepherds very much where I live. We’ve got some goats roaming the foothills above my house — rent-a-goats, actually, goats for hire, sent out to eat up the oh-so-dry underbrush that is so dangerous during wildfire season in southern and central California. But sheep and shepherds? Not so much.

Yet our scripture is full of ‘em — full of sheep and those who tend them, both literally and figuratively.

God is described as the Shepherd of Israel at several points in the large arc of our OT narrative. David, Israel’s greatest king, began his career, corralling those pesky sheep-critters. And his most famous psalm, the one we read responsively just a few minutes ago — number 23 — is a primary place where we discover a God who looks out for the sheep of his flock, who tends those he loves, all of us who live and work on the edges of the wilderness with its wild beasts and steep cliffs and barren landscapes.

In this psalm, we meet a Shepherd-God who brings weary sheep to cool, still water, to green pastures for food and rest, and then guides them right through the darkest and scariest ravines.

And in that last chapter of our holy book, the image of lamb and shepherd comes together in ONE Kingly Savior in the passage from Revelation 7 — a passage rich with symbolism and singing, with contrast and transformation and eternal joy. An endless sea of people, all kinds of people, from every race and nation and language, and all of them coming out of trials and troubles to get to that throne room, to wear those white, white robes, to sing their hearts out to the One on the throne, who sounds a lot like the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23.

Our gospel reading for today reminds us that John used this same imagery to tell us about Jesus when he walked the earth; he uses words about sheep and shepherds all through chapter 10. In fact, Jesus preaches a small sermon on this image at the beginning of the chapter, a few verses before our reading for today. Jesus proclaims himself to be the Good Shepherd, the one who lovingly tends the sheep, who knows them and protects them, and walks beside them across the barren back-countries of life. And Jesus makes a claim with those words, a claim to be God the Shepherd, an image all those listening should have recognized.

Somehow, however, folks didn’t seem to catch on to what he was saying. And in the scene before us today, Jesus is most certainly not on heaven’s throne. Instead, he’s on the hotseat.

And even though Jesus is surrounded by people who are on the very grounds of Israel’s primary place of worship, this scene is completely unmoored from the worship scene we heard about in Revelation 7.

To be accurate, this circling crowd of adversaries is not in the temple — they’re alongside it, milling around, almost menacing in their probing and questioning. They’re located, the text tells us, in a magnificent long, covered courtyard or porch, with double columns all along the sides of it, columns that stood 38 feet high. Surely an awe-inspiring place — but those folks circling around Jesus out there on Solomon’s Porch? They are SO not wearing white robes.

No, they are not. They are full of themselves, they are full of attitude, and they are confused. They’ve got these dreams, you see. They’ve got it all figured out — and the Messiah they’re looking for doesn’t look a thing like this strange-talking, fringe-people-loving, low-brow rabbi standing before them. They think they already have all the answers — yet, in reality, they don’t even know how to frame the right questions.

Because that’s where everything that’s good and right with the world, everything that’s true and holy and helpful and life-giving — that’s where it all begins: with good questions, asked in a spirit of humility and openness:

Who am I?
Why am I here?
What is real?
Who is God?
Where can I find hope?
How can I go on?
What do I dream about?
What dream has God planted in me?

These are good, open-ended, honest, searching questions, sincerely asking for answers, and when they’re asked well, they’re laid out with no pre-conceptions, no expectations, no ready-made answers. These are good questions. Not easy ones, but good ones.

The people in Solomon’s Porch, however, were not bothered by honest self-reflection nor were they interested in understanding much beyond their own snarling, circling selves. “How long are you going to keep us guessing?” they ask, anticipating the answer they thought they knew. “Tell us who you are,” they demand.

But Jesus knows their hearts. And he knows that they do not hear him, they are not his sheep. And how does he know this? Because he has already answered their question and they missed it.

Oh! I do not want to miss the answers! I want to come before the throne with my heart honest, my hands open, my attitude easy, my imagination fired up, my conscience clear.

And that most likely means that I am going to have to admit that I am not my own shepherd, that I cannot be my own shepherd. I want to allow Jesus to be the shepherd he is and not the shepherd I think he should be. I want to know that I’m heard when I bleat, that I’m found when I’m lost, that I’m fed when I’m hungry, that still water is around the next bend.

I want to offer my dreams up, like the gift that they are, releasing them to God’s tender care and provision. I want to listen for the One True Voice, to recognize it in an exceedingly noisy world, and to trust it when I hear it. I want to be fully engaged in worship, and not ‘alongside’ it in the bustling porches of this life. I want to sit at the shepherd’s feet, not circle around him with a menacing attitude. I want to let him lead.

I want to let him lead.

That’s what a shepherd does, right? He leads. He provides. He protects. He sings my name.

And I also want to know, in the very deepest parts of me, that I am part of a flock. We may not all look alike, we may not all think alike, but we are, every single one of us, just plain old sheep. Sheep, I tell you. And we don’t go through this life all on our own, no, we don’t. We belong to one another almost as much as we belong to our Shepherd.

In the early 1980’s, during one of the endless skirmishes between Israel and Palestine, soldiers moved into an area and rounded up all the sheep, shoving hundreds of them into a single pen. A widow came to the officer in charge and begged him to let her in to find her sheep. He laughed at her. “Find your own sheep in this throng? Fat chance. But go ahead if you think you can – and good luck to you.”

She entered the large pen with her son, who carried a flute with him. Softly, he began to play a particular sequence of notes, over and over again. Suddenly a head popped up, then another, then another, until as they left the pen almost 30 sheep followed happily along. They heard the song of the shepherd, my friends. They heard the song of the shepherd and they came together as one to follow him out to safety.

My prayer for each of you in the days and weeks ahead is that you will hear that shepherd song loud and clear, that you will follow it out of whatever place you may find yourself penned in, that you will know you’re not alone in the following, and that the song will lead you all the way home.





















Jump! 5 Minute Friday


 Sitting under the information boards at O’Hare. Everyone else looks as tired and confused as I feel about now.


And the prompt for this week is:





Just sittin’ here, waitin’. I want to jump — yes, I do. In fact, I signed on to jump many months ago — maybe a year ago?? That’s when Deidra invited me to consider coming to Omaha and being a Pastor-in-Residence for a bloggers’ retreat she was dreaming about. And it even had the verb, ‘jump’ in the title!

I thought about it. I prayed about it. I talked to my husband about it. He said, “Sure! Jump!” So, here I am.


I’m not here, yet.

I’m sitting in the bowels of O’Hare airport, waiting for what I hope will be my third-time’s-a-charm flight out. I came out from CA yesterday, flying into Chicago to make the transfer to Omaha.

However, yesterday was one of the biggest thunderstorms on record in these parts and 300 flights were cancelled!

So, I’m not jumping just yet.

Yesterday’s flight went kaplooey, so I hiked out to a hotel (all those near the airport were full – 300 flights, remember?), taxied back this morning to fly into Denver.

DENVER? To go to Omaha??

Yup. And then a tranfer from American to United to get back up to Omaha.


After seating all passengers on the Denver flight, a mechanical malfunction grounded the plane.

Yes, really.

So. A kindly ticket agent searched and hunted. Yesterday, there were NO direct flights to Omaha from Chicago until the weekend. Today, she found me a seat! It required a 5 hour wait — but hey, I’m in one place, the flight is shorter once it takes off, and I will actually get there sooner than if I’d gone to Denver.

So, JUMP! — here I come!


Joining Lisa-Jo’s as I sit and I wait. Such a great community over there – try this prompt business – you’ll like it!
Five Minute Friday

Here: Five Minute Friday

Been quiet for a while now – it began to feel a little bit dangerous out on the web this past week+, so I’ve been waiting, pondering, praying. This is a great prompt from Lisa-Jo Baker today and it seemed like it might be a good way to put a few words back into this space. We shall see . . .




It’s cool and quiet where I am this night, the air is still after days of fierce winds.

It is not cool and quiet in my spirit, however. Wrestling, working through, wondering – these are ‘w’ verbs active in me these days.

My journey does not look like anybody else’s — and most of the time, I am perfectly fine with that. I enjoy being here, in the middle of the story that God is writing in my life.

But in the midst of a week that has been rife with conflict in some of the blogging corners I frequent, being in the middle of my particular story has felt unsafe, unwelcome.

And yet – here, exactly here, is where I am and who I am, and both of those ‘w’s are part and parcel of God’s work (there’s another of those consonants!) in me. Of this, I am certain:

I am a child of God.
I am a woman.
I am a pastor, not by whim or even by choice, to tell you the truth — but by call:
God’s call on my own heart, in a deeply personal and very real way.

I am also a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a writer, a spiritual director, a wonderer.

I am strong-willed, yes, I am. But I am also teachable, open-hearted, and an encourager. I’ve lived a long time, I’ve undoubtedly forgotten more than people thirty years younger than I have even learned yet. I don’t say that in a prideful way, only in an honest one. Because, as I said, I have lived a long time!

I know that we are never finished learning in this life. Never.

We are never finished, period.

God is always about the business of transformation,
of mind-changing, heart-changing, life-changing.

But that change will look both the same and distinctly different from individual to individual.

ALL of us, if pulled by the magnetic power of God’s grace, will look more and more like Jesus — ‘gentle and humble in heart,’ servant to others, drawn to those who are on the edges. But because our Savior and our God is so multi-faceted, we are also different, one from another.

Here, where I am, will look different from there, where you are. I am blessed to see the changes God is working into your story; I hope you are blessed by the changes God is working into mine.

Please do not tell me that my story is any less valid than yours, any less Christ-like than yours, any less, period. Because underneath all the theological differences that might serve to divide us, we are the same, you and I: saved by grace, called to new life, freed from shame, empowered by the Spirit; we are loved, created, gifted, called.

And here? Right here, right now? THIS is where God has called me. And this is where God will move through me and in me and around me and over me and under me and beside me to keep that work of transformation going forward.

Right. Here.


Joining this, somewhat hesitantly, with Lisa-Jo’s crew tonight. 
Five Minute Friday



The Ugly, Scary Truth – A Deeper Family

My cousin, my mom’s ‘baby’ sister (she is 89), my mom and me, with my uncle’s two daughters reflected in the window behind us. We gathered for lunch last week to celebrate my uncle’s life. He died last month. He was in the middle of these two lovely ladies, and was 90 years old when he died. My mom is 91.

* * *

I am privileged to be writing at A Deeper Family today, my monthly, first-Thursday post. I’m writing about my mom’s journey through dementia and about how I’m discovering some pretty unattractive things about myself as we walk through it together. Please join me there today and share your own stories of difficult journeys:

She cannot hold it. It floats by, tantalizing, intriguing, possible. But she cannot hold it.

I watch her try to think and the picture that comes is this: the rotating rack in a dry cleaning establishment. You know the one. The attendant looks up your order, punches in the number and the clothes start moving, almost by magic, until they stop. The correctly numbered slot is right there in front, and the cashier picks up the hanger, hands it to you and says, “That will be $10.00, please.”

But for my mother, the right number hardly ever comes up. She punches those numbers for all she’s worth, but someone else’s clothes land in her lap. And she truly doesn’t know what to do with them.

Watching a person’s mind unravel is a sad and terrifying thing. She is so old now, so frail, and yet, there is evidence that somewhere in there, my mom still lives and breathes. Sadly, that evidence is sliding away on a daily basis and I often find myself unraveling right along with her. . .


You can read the rest by clicking on this sentence.

Let the Alleluias Begin! A Photo Essay

It rained on Easter Sunday, gentle but insistent,
washing the air, watering the earth,
catching our attention.

The sun did not break through until late in the afternoon,
and somehow, it felt absolutely right for this particular Easter celebration day.

I have stepped back into leadership during this Lenten season,
enjoying the familiar rhythms of leading weekly communion services.
Services that are liturgical, yet at the same time, informal and friendly.

 Our congregation enjoys the aesthetic contributions of a small group
of thoughtful, talented women
who work with the preaching pastors to provide
a worship environment that encourages us to better
focus on the Word offered on a particular Sunday,
or throughout a season.
All during Lent this year,
we were reminded of the journey
by a simple purple drape on the cross
and a large urn,
filled with bare branches.

On Palm Sunday, those branches were visible above the array of color
provided by palm fronds and fabric.

On Maundy Thursday, they were visible on the back altar table,
behind the richly purple setting on the front table.

 On Good Friday, they disappeared,
along with every other usual object in the chancel —
the baptismal font and table removed,
the pulpit shrouded.
And on the side shelves, where greenery usually flourishes,
only these upended wooden boxes, draped
in dark fabric like the cross.

And then came Easter!

Those bare branches?
Now richly flowering.
The purple drape on the cross?
Replaced with shining white.
Those stark wooden boxes?
Filled to overflowing with
lilies, waving their brilliant faces across the front of the sanctuary.


 A glorious feast of white and gold,
the Christ candle tall and stately in the center of it all.

 Shaking rainwater off of coats and jackets, worshipers filled the sanctuary
earlier than usual.
Almost on cue, they began to settle into their seats,
quiet their conversations and ready themselves to worship.
We began where we left on Friday.
That night the plaintive sounds of  “Were You There?”
filled a dark room, and everyone left in silence.

On Sunday morning, the lights dimmed,
as the room filled once again with the sounds of that old song,
this time in the lilting soprano of a high school senior.

 As she sang, our pastor came slowly down the center aisle,
lit candle in hand,
arriving at the Christ candle as the song came to its end.

And as the Light is lit,
the alleluias begin — full lights,
drums, trumpets, oboe, voices and glorious, glorious music.
“Christ is Risen!”
“He is risen, indeed!”

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more grateful to say those words
than I was this year.
One of our founding members, now in her 90’s,
declared this the finest Easter celebration she has ever experienced.
And I’d have to agree with her.

One of the lovely events that added layers of meaning to the day
was the baptism of the infant daughter
of our former Director of Children’s Ministries.
Following the tradition of the early church
(and the contemporary Catholic church, as well),
we folded small Anastasia (whose name means ‘to live again’)
into the family of God on Easter Sunday, trusting that the work of the Holy Spirit
will be real in her life as she grows to claim
the name of Jesus for herself.

Jon and I read the words together,
asking the age-old questions of parents and people,

dripping the water on her small head,

offering words of blessing to this babe and her family.

And then,  Jon carried the church’s newest member
up and down the aisles, introducing her to her new family,
while we all sang, “Children of the Heavenly Father.”

Jon’s sermon was strong and true,
spoken from the heart with illustrations my visiting
grandsons could enjoy.

It was a magnificent way to begin the Easter Feast.

 And then our smaller-than-usual family group continued the feasting
gathered around our table, as the rain fell gently outside.

Our oldest daughter, her husband and three fine sons
joined my husband, my mother and me to break the fast of Lent
and celebrate the Risen Lord.

The salad course was first,
followed by barbecued salmon,
cheesy potatoes,
a divine quinoa side dish that Lisa has added to our repertoire,
and baked asparagus with a balsamic glaze.

Even our resident vegan ate enough to require a little resting between courses!

These three young men have had a more difficult life than most their age.
They lost their dad after a long, lingering and difficult illness.
It is good to see them happy as a family,
with Karl and Lisa giving good direction and
providing a living model of redemption in that home.
There can be resurrection in this life of ours —
we remember this truth every time we are with them.

 Fourteen-year-old Joel is our resident baker/chef and he created this
stunning coconut cake to cap off the day.
It tasted even better than it looks,
and it looks divine!

Poppy got a candle in his piece,
because he celebrated a birthday that was
pretty much lost in the shuffle of Holy Week activities.

The candle that was lit at the beginning of our worship,
was also lit in the center of our dining room table.
And as the afternoon clouds moved slowly away,
the blueness of sunshine-after-rain
seemed a fitting and celebratory way
to finish off the feast.

Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed! 

Joining this longer than usual picture-essay with Michelle, Jen, Laura and Jennifer


Some Sweetness for April 1st

I do believe my entire life could
be told in this phrase.

Maybe yours, too?

April greetings of love and laughter to you and yours —
and that’s not a note for fools at all.

I encourage you to check out this fun site, where poetic phrases and beautiful photographs can be endlessly combined to send small messages of love and courage to friends anywhere. It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s beautiful. A truly winning combo!