Tag Archives: friends

Back to blogging

It’s been a month since my last blog about the Great Plains  Annual Conference. Following conference I took a week for sermon planning and a week for vacation. Seemed fairly straight forward and well planned.

You know the saying, “the best laid plans….” It was a good two weeks, but as the week of my sermon planning time began, a neighbor and a friend died. It was unexpected in many ways, I had seen him the week before and I would never guessed I would be planning service within 10 days.

In my neighborhood, I am not the “pastor” particularly. Some of my neighbors attend church in other denominations than mine. Some of my neighbors do not. To be a “neighbor” is a wonderful thing as opposed to being whatever my “vocation” might be. Yet, it was a privilege and honor to be asked to preside at this man’s funeral. It was his request and so I sat with his daughters and we found a way to honor his life and spirit.

He had many  talents,  not the least  of which was gardening. He was meticulous in pulling weeds and keeping his flowers and his lawn beautiful. He was smart and funny. I will miss him.

During the time I was so blessed to become acquainted with his daughters, brilliant and funny and accomplished each in their own jobs and professions. I now have in my home, a few things in which to remember this wonderful and thoughtful human being. These past few weeks have reminded me again how precious life is and how each person plays a part and makes a difference in the lives of others.

As I begin my second year at First UMC, I am so grateful for those people who created this place for people all over Wichita to encounter the living spirit of God. I am blessed to continue in ministry with the gifted people in this community of faith. Life is precious and the call of Christ is to be a neighbor to every person we meet and to make a difference in lives of others. I am thankful my friend’s life and death and memory reminds me of this reality and call. I am graced to serve in this city and in this place and in this neighborhood. Life. Downtown.

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Memorial Day thoughts

My sister and I visit the cemeteries each year on Memorial Day Weekend. Well, not the weekend, but on Monday. We do this because everyone who decorated the graves before us are all gone. This tradition has become more deeply meaningful for both of us. We do not just visit my mother and stepfathers grave and my grandparents graves, we have begun to visit my great grandparents graves and other extended family members that no one remembers or perhaps other relatives live too far away. I wrote about this tradition two years in a blog I called Remembering.

I have seen some news articles and some social media posts about how people have forgotten the “real” meaning of Memorial day and have been saying things like “Happy Memorial Day!” I also know that while for some people the main purpose of Memorial Day is to remember the service men and women who have died in wars across our countries history, that is not the only meaning for this day. As I said in my former post, some of us were raised that this was a weekend to remember those who have gone before us. It is a time to decorate graves and tell stories and also in my family tradition, to have cookouts and family time.

I don’t think any of those things are unimportant or wrong. I took American flags to both my stepfather’s grave and my grandfather’s mausoleum. I had a wonderful party on Sunday evening. In worship on Sunday morning at First, we focused on memorial and legacy gifts and Ascension Sunday.

 I am sitting here on Monday evening, experiencing a “good” tired feeling. It has been a full three days. I have celebrated a neighbors birthday, worshipped on Sunday, had 40+ people over for a wonderful evening and then visited four different cemeteries. I also made hospital calls and been grateful for so many things. 

My sister and I have decided to remember those family members that no one else seems to remember. Mostly it is unmarried or married without children couples and babies and small children. We even placed pinwheels and flowers on the graves of some small children who were not related. 

Our great grandparents were visited 


My great grandmother held Tammy and I as infants before she died. We visited our favorite great aunt (she was awesome and fun)


Then we headed to Great Plain and visited Aunt Leola (who was not our favorite and liked to pinch us hard!) and even though there is no gravestone, we visited baby Stella, who died at two.


Then just a little ways away, we visited baby Clyde McClure. If I remember my family history, his mom ( my grandmother’s sisters) HAD to get married and this little baby did not live. His parents are buried elsewhere, but we remember him today.


Finally at the Calvary cemetery we visited Maudie. I have visited this grave since I was a little girl. At one point, there were still decorating it, but that has been a very long time. This little lamb stone speaks of the love the family had for this precious child:


The little poem at the end says “Sweet Maudie unto earth,  a little while was given. She plumed her wins for flight, and soared away to heaven.”

Finally beginning last year, we sought out a very small cemetery that my grandparents visited only once. It was part of my grandfather’s German Lutheran heritage.
 What we both remembered was one small baby grave that had only the last name Wiske , but no first name. Last year we went searching for Baby Wiske and we found the grave, but had to pull back the grass to see the name. It happened again, we had to pull back the grass. 


But while there we remember Remick’s, remembering family reunions of long ago and  decorated the grave of my grandfather’s brother and wife.


Finally we visited a marker in a Wichita cemetery remembering my mother. We had visited her grave and my stepfather’s grave in Garden Plain


She had married again late in life and had just a few short years which were a gift for both her and her husband Jerry.


Here is what I believe, we only have a short time to love nad laught and share. Whatever the number of hours or days or years, each moment matters. I know sometimes that it is uncomfortable for folks when people don’t “remember” or “memorialize” in a preferred method. I think having dinners, going to the lake, making memories is not bad or sinful or wrong. I also think mourning and remembering and honoring is not bad either. 

I find the moments I take to walk cemeteries and “recount the tales” and wonder about the stories I don’t know to be sacred and holy. I also find hosting family and friends for a party is also sacred and holy. Time is a gift and choosing to spend part of it with those we love is precious.

So tonight, I am grateful, for family, for friends, for memories and for time enough to pay attention.

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Giving Thanks

Today I give thanks for so many things: family, friends, a job, a home I love, a chance to cook and for the people who will gather around my table tomorrow. Thanksgiving week usually tends to be a slower week at church, even though we are gearing up for Advent.

Today, once I got home, it was full swing into getting ready for company. We had kids and grandkids coming home. We finished up cleaning and making beds. For me, it was cooking and baking.

I tend to do as much preparation as I can before a big feast day. I want to enjoy the day and not spend the whole time in the kitchen. Tomorrow, three of us will participate in the ‘Say Grace’ 5K race in the morning. The money supports a ministry of the United Methodist Church and it’s fun.

So, today I made a chocolate bourbon pecan pie, caramel apple banana muffins, a cranberry tart.

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I tasted the cranberry curd….oh my is it tasty! I also bought pies from the youth, so dessert is covered! We smoked a natural ham in the smoker and I I just pulled the turkey out of the oven.

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My twin sister is bringing the green bean casserole and the make ahead mashed potatoes. The 7 layer jello salad will be done before the evening is out. There will be relishes, corn and dressing to finish up tomorrow.

When it is all said and done there will be ten around my table and I couldn’t be happier. Surrounded by love and laughter, that for me is the bedrock of Thanksgiving. The food is important, but the fellowship is what makes the feast.

So from my house to yours, may you experience love and laughter this Thanksgiving and may grace and gratitude bless you.

 

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Thanksgiving Eve

Yesterday I wrote about that it had been one year since my mother’s memorial service. Last year on this day my brother’s and I spend all day cooking and baking and enjoying preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Today, I prepared a much smaller feast to be shared tomorrow with my husband and his mother.

First, my husband and I will participate in a 5K run/walk for Grace Med. This ministry offers health care to the underserved in the Wichita area. They are a ministry of the United Methodist Church. Four years ago they began the “Say Grace” race.

There is much I have for which I am grateful. Yesterday, I was thankful for the memories of my mother and the celebration of her life. I was also thankful for a day bookmarked by a gorgeous sunrise and sunset. I don’t often see both but yesterday morning at the downtown YMCA, this was what I saw as we walked in preparation of tomorrow’s race:

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The end of the day’s picture did not turn out quite so lovely, but the view as I left the church was just as stunning.

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On this night I am thankful for the ability to walk 5K to help the medically underserved in the greater Wichita area; a plan to “skype” with grandchildren; to cook for my mother-in-law and husband; some days at home to enjoy with my husband and to begin to decorate for the upcoming Christmas holiday. I am deeply grateful for family and friends, a roof over my head, and faith to make each day a gift. On this Thanksgiving eve, I am graced to serve.

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Food, Glorious Food

I love food. I love shopping for it, planting seeds and harvesting the results. I love cooking food and eating it.
As the autumn evolves into the winter, the garden is just about done. I planted some late summer seeds in order to have some vegetables in the late autumn. The radishes have been harvested, but I still have some lettuce.
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Some very cold weather is coming later this week, so the lettuce will be cut and left in the raised bed to see if it will come back again. If not, I have two planter boxes on the front porch with seedlings coming along nicely.

I have also planted garlic.
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You plant it in the early fall, and mid summer there will be many bulbs to harvest to use for the rest of the year. Planting, harvesting and cooking my own food is such a joy to me. Not only my own fruits and vegetables, but I love searching out the best at the farmer’s markets and getting to know all those who enjoy food as much as I do.

Tonight I cooked dinner. The salad was made from tomatoes, radishes and lettuce from the garden. The roasted vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, red peppers from the the garden and brussel sprouts and onions from the market.

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Dinner was served with little prep, but glorious color and freshness.

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I was raised that food should look pretty on the plate, but not fussed over really. The table was important, for conversation, for relationship building and yes for eating and feeding others. But the deep enjoyment that I have for food was somewhat suspect.

I realize that part of my enjoyment of cooking and of food is that when I cook and when it tastes good, people smile. People enjoy themselves. I am in a profession where sometimes it is hard to figure out whether or not I am making a difference. In cooking, it is immediately obvious.

Food feeds creativity. The colors, the tastes, the smells, the ability to find ways to combine ingredients and create wonderful dishes is a way of being in touch with life itself. Everyone has to eat. Food is a way of bringing people together.

Every time, every place, every culture has its own food experience. While one can pick up food anywhere, food that is well prepared and surrounded with love has it’s own place in life.

I love food. I love preparing it, harvesting it, selecting it and cooking it and serving meals to people I love. It puts me in touch with what is real, what is good and what matters: family, friends, food and a table surrounded with love.

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