Thursday, December 31, 2009

My girlfriend Linnea (One of The Salvation Sisters) sent this though to me. It was as my girlfriend Donna would say -- just what I needed when I needed it.

Richard's Daily Meditations

Question of the Day:
Where in my life do I most need the freedom not to know?

“The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

~ Thomas à Becket’s words in T.S. Eliot’s
Murder in the Cathedral

Great spiritual teachers always balance knowing with not knowing—and knowing that you don’t know, even your own motives—as we see in St. Thomas à Becket. This balancing act became the central Biblical great idea called “faith.” I am afraid it has been largely lost in the west in our desire to combat secularists, atheists, and unbelievers. The Christian churches today largely define faith as knowing, and even being certain about your knowing, when in fact it means exactly the opposite!

Faith is being willing not to know, and still being content, because God knows. Faith is a learned “tolerance for ambiguity” because I no longer use knowledge as power, so I no longer need to be right. I do not even need to know that I am perfectly moral, superior, or good, because I now know as Jesus said, that “God alone is good” (Mark 10:18).

Now that’s definitely a gift from God—to be able to live with the freedom not to know and not to be right—and that is exactly why we always said that faith is a gift. It is a gift we can consciously ask for and grow into, but we do need to know what the goal is!

Adapted from Beginner’s Mind
Let each moment be a new beginning.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's A Parent (Or It's Apparent)

After spending some sweet time with our grand kids and being touched by their innocence and joyful spirits I wondered to myself -- why are they so settled?
I've come to the conclusion that a big part of it is that some of life's weightier questions have been explained to them as they have grown in understanding of the "whys behind the whats of life."
Like what is the meaning of life and why are we here? What is our purpose? And in the shadow of the deaths of family members -- what happens when we die?
Their mother and father took the time to soul seek and God seek in order to confidently lead these little ones into an understanding of their heavenly Father.
Life is such a balancing act. There are lots of times when they can (and will) loose their balance and fall.
Good parents teach sure footedness.
I've come to see that not teaching our kids about God's plan for their life is like putting them on a tightrope and saying, "I don't know where it is tied at either end ( why you were born and where you will go after you die) but good luck and have a nice life."
Life is so constant and demanding. It is easy to just put one foot in front of the other and walk through our days ignoring that nagging sense that there must be a purpose.
One of the books that has come recommend is "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel.
I can see the rewards of Rush and Ann's personal faith quests in their clear eyed settled children.
I'm comforted by the knowledge that when they fall they will be caught and put back on the rope whether I'm here or not.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Great Time Was Had By All

As usual Annie and Rush threw a beautiful Christmas Day brunch complete with a birthday cake for the baby Jesus. Christmas Eve service was at our old church -- yep it's big this was one of 5 services that day. We cherish these times of good fortune and good will.
Hope yours was full of all of your favorites!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Jesus!

You had a birthday and we got the presents (Presence)!
We just can't help making a big splash of Your birthday. It was the event that changed the course of our lives.

Things we celebrate:You were not religious -- You were about relationships.
(The religious folks have always bucked your system of humility, generosity,
and grace.)

You didn't hold it against us that we are sheep and followers of the church
of "What's happinin' now." (You just keep showing up in our daily life
and whisper to us the way to a life without regrets.)

You show up when we do nothing but call out Your name.

So Happy Birthday Jesus if we overdo it a little bit please understand it is a mere shadow of what you did for us -- first.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gift of Not Enough

When my children were growing up we didn't have enough money to buy them new toys. I would spend Saturdays in the Autumn scouring yard sales for toys in decent condition, clean them up and wrap them for Christmas morning. The boys lit up just like other kids when they walked into the living room to see a pile of presents.
Once Rush must have smelled a rat because he looked up at me and asked, "Did this belong to another little boy before me?" "Yep." And he didn't mind at all.
I couldn't afford to buy the ingredients for fancy cookies so I found a recipe for Pop Corn Balls and made a basket of huge ones in red, green and white. They were so delicious, beautiful and it looked so luxurious that the kids grown friends still call me at Christmas for the recipe. Total cost about $2.00
We didn't have tickets for the seasonal plays but we had a Christmas carolling party every year where we met at our house with all of their friends to practice the old familiar songs and then drove way out into the country and sang the first carol (Joy to the World) to the baby Jesus under the stars.
Then we would proceeded to all of the shut ins houses we knew and sing our "not quite ready for prime time" carols. If you pick the right audience your efforts will be much appreciated and we were!
It modeled for the kids that giving is the best part of Christmas.
In our neighborhood there was a fee for picking up the dead Christmas tree so we started a tradition of a bon fire on New Years Eve to incinerate the tree. Word spread and it became another annual party at our house.
One year when things were particularly tight a friend stopped by with an on sale Winn Dixie ham. What a delicious memory. We had ham sandwiches, ham strata on Christmas morning and ham balls for dinner. To this day that was the best ham we've ever tasted!
Spending time together, making our own fun and trusting God to fill in the gaps was a gift. It kept us on track to not miss the true meaning of Christmas.
It made the stable and Mary and Joseph in a jam feel familiar.
I often fretted and wondered why the Lord didn't seem to bless us like He had most of our well healed friends but now in looking back I understand He gave us the greatest gift of "not enough."

Monday, December 21, 2009

All Things Work Together for Good for Those Who Love God and Are Called According to His Purpose Romans 8:28 -- Really Lord....ALL Things?

Two years ago on Christmas morning the members of our church arrived to see the church burned to the ground. The timing made the loss even more poignant. This was good? We know these members to be faithful believers. Seems like they did their part of the deal.
But it now looks like there was a bigger plan than our own understanding.
Yesterday -- almost two years after the fire we met in the new church.
The way this group of people have addressed this loss has been a witness to me.
They have sacrificed time, money, and the indulgence of their own agendas to prove that they take the Bible at it's word.
Who believes like that anymore in this wishy washy no absolutes world?
Evidently they do and I feel stronger when I sit under the roof with grounded people like them.
"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding but in all of your ways acknowlege Him and He will dirrect your paths" Proverbs 3:5,6
If you are like me I wish the Spirit of Christmas could last all year long. I think it will at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Junk Brothers

"Hello my name is Suzanne and I'm a HGTV addict." That is Home and Garden channel for those of you who don't obsess about napkin folding and pillow arranging.
One of the shows I really love is called "The Junk Brothers"
These fellows drive around on the night before trash day and pick up people's large trash items. No big deal I happen to know -- OK it's me -- people who do that all of the time. Here's what sets The Brothers apart:
They take it home and turn it into something beautiful and useful. Then they take the same piece back to the original owners and put it on their front porch, ring the door bell and run.
There is a camera guy hiding somewhere with a really good camera who catches the owner's responses.
First confusion.
Then recognition of their item.
Then elation over their redeemed furniture.
They can't drag that treasure into their house fast enough!
I have never seen anyone just admire the piece and walk away.
It got me to thinking about God and how he is a Junk Brother.
Here is a poem that was read in church this morning:

Love III George Herbert (1593 - 1633)
Love (God) bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack anything.

"A guest" I answered "worthy to be here"
Love said, "You shall be she."
"I(?) the unkind, ungrateful? Ahhh my dear
I cannot look on thee."
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"True, Lord but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not" says Love "Who bore the blame?" (Jesus)
"My dear then I will serve."
(No says Love) "You must sit down and eat my meat"
So I did sit and eat.

I hope that in this season of gift giving none of us are too proud or broken down in our own mess that we don't receive the gift of Love (God).
Here is a prayer of receiving:
"God I am not even sure if you are real but if You are would you receive me and feed me and make Yourself known to me in a way that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that You are?
I promise to keep my eyes and heart open. I've made a mess of my life and now I'm ready to let You set the table and feed me."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What to Say......

On my last morning in New York I decided to head over to the Anthropology store and check out their displays. I was not disappointed!
On my way back to the hotel I found myself walking beside Tim Gunn of "Project Runway."
I didn't want to be a pest but he was just sauntering along looking contemplative so I asked; "Mr. Gunn?"
He looked up and acknowledged yes it was he.
"Thank you for being a kind man" I said.
He brightened right up.
"I know your mother would be proud" I finished and strolled on my way.
You know -- we all need a little encouragement sometimes don't we? I hope my "new best friend" was.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New York -- New York!

Well, my ship came in and not a minute too soon. The city was quite a sight from the ship. I've never seen it from that perspective.
We love our $150.00 a night Priceline hotel. Crown Plaza on Times Square. We look down on Times Square from our 27th floor room.
The city is full of families and happy faces which is a relief after all of the dreary Bernie Madoff financial tsunami. It is more subdued than years past but still a happy vibe even if it only will last a couple more weeks.
We met at Tavern on the Green for dinner and it was very busy. All decked out in Christmas finery.
The couple who sat near our table were so cute and when I looked over he was down on his knees asking her to marry him! We became the grandmother's cheering section and they were thrilled for someone to celebrate with them. (While we were downtown yesterday we noticed Santas everywhere. Evidently there is a traditional day in NYC where the young people dress up like him and do a bar stroll. Well, let me assure you the old boy (and girls) were feeling mighty merry by 2:00pm. A little boy on the subway said to his Dad; "I think Santa was drunk." Can you feel the Therapists schedules filling up now?
This morning we got an early start (still on European time) and went to Rockefeller Square and then saw the windows at Saks.
Noon found us at David Wilkerson's "Times Square Church". It always makes me cry to be in the middle of this city surrounded by fellow believers. Rich, poor, young, old.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Send Me Your Poor and Huddled Masses...

UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH That would be us!
No staff on this ship has ever seen so many days at sea with gale strength storms. I feel like the little girl in the backseat saying; "Are we there yet?!"
My girlfriends from Philadelphia are going to check into the Waldorf on Saturday and we have dinner at Tavern on the Green that night. That ought to put some distance between the Mayflower and me.
Hope to send some photos of the Big Apple.
"We're Comin' to America!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green (Belch)

We have had 2 days of rough seas with no end in sight. The waves are 27 feet high, the wind is 35 miles per hour and the front desk is handing out pills like Haloween candy. None of the staff has experienced anything like it.
The good news is all of this has put a ton of rainbows in the sky. I'm taking it as a sign from God that we'll not go down in the Burmuda triangle (today's lecture in the room above -- what the heck were they thinking!)
That is our porthole that looks like a washing machine window.
Light a candle for us -- say the rosery, give money to the Salvation Army. We need a break.
Started to call the Captain this morning and say "I'm a celebrity get me out of here" but I knew what his next question would be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sailing, Sailing, Over the Ocean Blue.

The first two days were fairly smooth and then it hit.
Rough seas. Lots of green faces. No wait for the computer.
These are some photos (from the 12th floor) of the water breaking on the bough.
Believe me -- you don't wish you were here!
Forget what Nancy Reagan said -- just say YES to drugs!

Goodbye Corsika

Although it was a dreary day I loved the home of Napoleon.
I had a yummy lunch at this little creperie. Crepe Suzette's were just the thing to lift my spirits.
The home was fascinating and very luxurious. Off to sail the ocean blue!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bonjure From Corsica / Napolean s Home Town

Here are photos from yesterday`s cooking school. What a fun time.
The chef was so sweet and handsome and his American girlfriend was dear.
They agreed to let me plan the wedding.
We made beer batter fried artechokes, sage and prochuto (country ham sliced real thin) and cheese with beef filet, my very favorite gnnocci with blue cheese sauce, ane no kidding / choclate souffles!
All diet food.
We rolled back onto the bus then the train ( 1 hour ride to the dock)and finally the Mother ship!
A perfectly beautiful day and what a memory! There are so many wonderful people all over the world!
Today I will walk the tiny village and research Napolian s home town.
As he lie dying on a remote island he longed for" the clear blue skys of Corsica. Now I know why!