I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media this week, arguing for or against Black Friday shopping. Some argue we should stay home and be thankful for what we have. Others are grateful for the chance to save for holiday gifts.
IMHO, it’s a personal choice, but I wonder how many people are really choosing the craziness of holiday shopping.
For me, we’re moving into the liturgical season of Advent, which is a time of reflection and emotional/spiritual preparation. I want quiet. I want peace.
The last thing I want is to be in a store with 100 other people spending money I don’t have to impress people I don’t even like.
Last week, one of the Gospel readings included Mary and Martha–a story that has always troubled me a little. I want to be Mary at Jesus’s feet, but inside I’m Martha, as I think most Americans are.
Luke 10:38-42 New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
When this Gospel reading comes up in the liturgical year, you can see people squirming in the pews a little. After all, we’re all about getting things done and to many of us, we want to complain just as Martha did that those around us aren’t pulling their weight.
The last three years have been a bumpy journey of massive transformation in my life. In a way, I’ve come full circle, but I am not the same person who started this journey.
I started this journey with dreams of having a sustainable farm with rescue horses, donkeys, and dogs. I pictured building a spacious home, a guest house, and my ultimate dream barn complete with indoor arena.
In the process of pursuing that dream, my dear husband and I nearly lost ourselves and our marriage. We emptied our bank accounts and put everything in our lives on hold. Everything became stressful. There was no joy left in our lives or in our home.
I don’t regret the journey, but I’m glad that it’s coming to an end and that I have a clearer view of who I am and what I want. Continue reading
These days we have a lot of changes going on!
First, we changed our hosting provider due to some rather crappy support at HostGator. I used to have a dedicated account that let me host multiple sites, but as I moved away from web development into farming and writing for a living, I no longer needed that much space. I didn’t realize that downgrading my service would mean downgrading my support!
So… We’ve moved our website to WordPress.com, which provides everything we need at a lower price with options to upgrade as we grow. Unfortunately, that meant migrating, which allows causes some kind of loss no matter how careful you are. We lost our featured photos and our theme. We look a little different, but we’re working on choosing a premium theme to get us back to our previous standards. I’m also working through posts to make sure all the photos get back in.
Second, we’ve lost our dream property. Someone swooped in with a cash offer before our current place sold. We’re sad, but we’re also sure that God has something wonderful planned, so we can fulfill our calling of helping others learn to care for God’s creation.
We appreciate you’re hanging in there with us as we live out of boxes and are far more silent than we’d like to be! I promise to get things back on track and moving forward as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’re going to take this time to revamp our pages to make our services and mission more clear.
Have a suggestion or a comment? Please let us know! We’d love to hear from you!
I’ve been spending some time contemplating three books, all of which really struck a chord:
- How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living, Rob Bell
- Breathing Under Water: The Spirituality of the Twelve Steps, Richard Rohr
- To Know as We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education, Parker J. Parker
I’ve been undergoing a major transformation the last few years that will culminate in a shift in my career, my lifestyle, and my ministry. In some ways, I have rediscovered childhood loves and forgotten joys. In some ways, I’ve discovered new layers to my personality and spiritual life.
I’m discovering that great spiritual formation and great art live in the same liminal space, opening the conversation rather then declaring what God thinks or what the world needs. Both require us to dig deeper and neither suggest an answer. To be the writer and the spiritual being I aspire to requires more posing of questions, more exposing of paradox and mystery, and more exploration.
So… Here are a few questions for your journal, your contemplation, your musings.
- What gives you joy?
- What are the moments when you stop and say, “I can’t believe I get to do this?”
- How often do you stop and really see what’s around you?
- When was the last time you stopped just to breath in the scent of honeysuckle (or anything else)?
- When was the last time you stop to enjoy the warmth of the sun on your face?
- When do you feel the most connected to the world around you?
- When do you feel the most alive?
- What causes you the most stress?
- What is standing between you and God?
- What can you let go of?
God bless my brothers and sisters!
I decided to hold off on the post I had planned for this week to take a minute and share with you some recent struggles. Often, when I succeed, I hear, “But it’s so easy for you!” It actually isn’t. I work hard at overcoming my demons just like everyone else. Sometimes, my demons get the best of best of me. My personality type and my personal dysfunctions generally prevent me from letting people see that inner struggle, but it’s there, and I’m working on it.
Lent has always been my favorite time of the year. I love the Gospel readings of Jesus’s teachings. I love all the purple. I love the music. There’s a raw open quality to it that I admire and love, a quality I wish I had more of. It’s a time when grief, pain, and sadness are ok. It’s a time when are limitations are ok. The Christian message is that those things are ok all the time, but that tends to get lost on mainstream Christianity that asks me to say 24/7 that things are well with my soul. The truth is that I need Christ because my emotional insides are a hot mess.
I recently had a conversation with a woman at church, who said that we couldn’t find God in the material world. I think that’s a big part of our problem in America. We don’t make the distinction between the man-made material world and the God-made material world. God is everywhere in the material world, because God made the material world and revealed God’s self in that world.
For so many years, theology has separated the spiritual world from the physical world, but how do we know God? As Christians, we know God through Christ–the physical manifestation of God. If God meets us in the physical world, why would we try so hard NOT to meet God in the physical world? Doesn’t it only make sense that we try to meet God in the world God created, especially this time of year when we’re walking with Christ as he approaches death and resurrection?
I am so often disappointed when I look around the world and see the way we treat God’s creation. When God left us in charge of things, I don’t think God intended for us to abuse his creation. I think God intended for us to love and to care for his creation as God loves and cares for us, which we are most certainly not doing. I have several friends who are in the rescue business, either canines or equines, and their Facebook pages are continuously filled with sad stories of abuse and neglect. Don’t get me wrong. I understand what it means to fall on hard times and have to re-home your pets, but the volume of animal abuse and neglect in our so-called Christian society is in no way consistent with Christian teachings.
I witnessed a disturbing incident on the way to work the other day. I was driving my usual 5 miles over the speed limit when–as always happens–60 miles per hour just wasn’t fast enough for some hotshot in his supped up, lifted Chevy truck. Just as he came barreling around me and the person behind me, a squirrel darted into the road. I can’t be sure, but I would swear that the driver intentionally hit the squirrel, who realized his error in judgment and tried to retreat. The poor squirrel rolled under the big truck tires and was thrown into the other lane. He clearly did not die on impact. It was heartbreaking. I have no great love for squirrels or any other of God’s rodents, but I could never imagine being so callous as to not care that I took a life–any life. Continue reading
On Saturday, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, TN served as a satellite location for the Values in Action 2018 conference sponsored by the Trinity Institute in New York City. The church charged on $20, which included a continental breakfast and catered lunch. The speakers included:
- Most Rev. Michael B. Curry: Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church since 2015, first African American presiding bishop.
- Michelle Alexander: civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar, and best-selling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
- Pádraig Ó Tuama: poet and theologian based in Belfast, Ireland. Teaches religion, storytelling, and conflict transformation.
- Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman: Episcopal priest, political strategist, and author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity.
- Jose Antonio Vargas: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker and founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America.
- Deirdre Good: Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street, formerly served as Academic Dean at General Theological Seminary and Interim Associate Academic Dean at Drew Theological School.
- Adnan A. Zulfiqar: legal scholar, educator, strategist, Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, a Truman National Security Fellow, and a member of the Urbane Development Collaborative.
- Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, PhD: Associate Professor of Bible at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Campaign Coordinator for “American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters.”
- Rev. Winnie Varghese: Priest and Director of Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street.
- The Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones: Priest & Director for Core Values & Latin America & Caribbean Relations at Trinity Church Wall Street.
A few months ago, I was named the USA Representative for the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (AWSA), whose purpose is getting animals on the agenda of the Christian Church. Founded over 30 years ago, the organization is called to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation, and in particular God’s creatures, and believes that God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God’s world. Their activities include the following:
- Encouraging churches to include animal welfare concerns in their prayers.
- Encouraging and helping churches to hold animal blessing services and to be aware of the need to care for God’s creation.
- Through education and lawful action, advancing the conservation and well-being of animals.
- Co-operating with other organizations, religious and secular, that have similar aims.
- Production of Animalwatch (free to members) containing articles and information about animal welfare issues, interests, and events and providing a means by which the members can share ideas, stories, and concerns.
- Publishing a series of pamphlets about animal issues, ensuring that materials are balanced and theologically and scientifically sound.
- Helping to arrange major services and events focusing on animal care.
- Promoting awareness through exhibitions, meetings, talks and preaching.