Tag Archives: The Kansas Expatriate

Reflections on 2014

It has been a year. That sentence in its simplicity speaks volumes for my life and the life of many I know. It hints at grief, uncertainty, joys and surprises. My brother blogged about his life in review at The Kansas Expatriate Like him, I really enjoy the “year in review” from newspapers, magazines, new commentaries and even those “facebook” movies. Every event in a year in “review” hits people differently. However most people, I would guess, view the year from a very personal set of lens.

Certainly my year has been filled with ups and downs. Several of my posts have focused on a year of grief after the death of my mother. Some showed frustration with my broken foot and how that affected my mobility and ability to do what I wanted and loved to do. Others spoke of the gift of pastoring when grief was thick and deep as so many of my congregation died this year and some of those deaths tragic which reminded me of my own grief.

My year has also been filled with joys. I walked a 5K on Thanksgiving day, something I could not have done earlier with my broken foot. I spent wonderful days with family and friends and found ways to focus on the good in spite of what could have been an invitation to spiral into despair. I also took the challenge to blog daily during November and while I didn’t make it every day, I did most days and that felt great.

In many ways it has been a difficult year, but it has also been a very good year. I love the Kingston Trios “It was a Very Good year.” It is a melancholy song relating life to wine and that each year is a very good year. In truth, even in wine, some years are better than others. The weather, the sun versus the rain, the timing of the harvest affects the grapes and how they produce the final product. I have decided that while life is often like wine, I have the choice of how the weather, the circumstances and the events of the world and my little place in it affect how I choose to live in response. I choose faith. I choose love. I choose joy.

So as I review 2014, it has been a year. A year of sorrow, a year of joy and a year of deepening faith that grace abounds and God loves me, God loves us all more than I can possibly imagine. So on the eve of 2015, I ran across this photo from Codeblack faith on facebook
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May it be a prayer that ends this year and gives comfort and strength for the year ahead. In the midst of it all, I truly am graced to serve.

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First Sunday of Advent: Light

Hard to believe that today is the last day of the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month). The challenge is given to write a blog post every day during the month of November. I did not make it. I think I missed five days of posting and six if you count the day I re-posted my brother’s blog with a few words of my own. I feel good about being pushed to write and to connect with people through this particular medium.

Today, in the Christian tradition is the First Sunday of Advent and the first day of the our new year. In many churches this day is accompanied with a candle to mark the Sundays before Christmas. Often the first Sunday’s candle is named for “prophecy” or “waiting” or “hope”. We chose at West Heights to use the image light. It is a good image as the days grow darker and shorter and considering the darkness that surrounds the world with violence, hatred and injustice.

I used a video clip from the Fellowship of Rings to help consider how much I, and I believe many need light.
It comes as that unusual company of men, elves, dwarves, hobbits and a wizard seek to fight the evil and defeat it. They need gifts and Frodo, who bears the ring that must be destroyed is given a particular gift by the elven Lady of the Wood Galadriel. The gift as shown in the video is light for the darkest of times when all light seems lost.

I preach from notes so this is not word for word from my sermon….but my notes said this:

I don’t know when this Advent will get dark for you or for what reason, but it will. There will come a time when all the violence and craziness of the world will come pressing in, or your grief from the loss of a loved one or the brokenness of a relationship will seem overwhelming dark, or when the circumstances of your life will not let up….in that moment, you will need a light to remind you that we are beloved sons and daughters of God, beloved children of the Light….and in that moment when all seems lost, I have gift for you to take home for you to use in that moment…a glow stick..seems a bit odd, but you can snap it and shake it and the glow stick will glow and you will see light and hope in the darkest times…because that is what we really isn’t this Christmas? We want light in the darkest places of our hearts and spirits and lives, we want the light of Christ to blaze and change us and change our world Paul writes: Live as children of light for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true
This week, my friends, may we remember that in the beginning was the Word and the WORD was and is God and that Word is the light of the world that as children of the light all that is good and right and true is made real in our lives and spirits and that Christ will shine on us and in us the darkness can not overcome it.

The glow stick glowed and I brought three home that had gotten jostled in the basket and they looked like this:
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I know that I will need light at some point in this Advent journey and one glow stick will make me smile and remind me that there is light in the darkest night and that God, whom I celebrate in Christ as “Emmanuel: God with us” is truly with me and with us all. With that faith in Light and Love I am graced to serve.

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Saturday six

In RevGalBlogPals each Friday there is a challenge to write on the “Friday Five.” Yesterday, I missed the post because I was taking down Thanksgiving decorations and began putting up Christmas decorations. I also re-posted a blog of my brothers from The Kansas Expatriate

So instead of a “Friday Five” I thought I would post a “Saturday Six.” This post will serve as a transition from Thanksgiving to Advent. I love the Thanksgiving season and I love the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany cycle and season as well. Here are my six things I give thanks for today as I move into the Christian New Year.

1. I am grateful for a husband who loves cheesy Christmas decorations as much as I do. He helps me decorate for all the seasons, but we go crazy at Christmas time with vintage outdoor Santas, snow men, candles and a Grinch who steals the light from our home each year.

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2. I am grateful to have a home that lends itself to multiple Christmas trees and the joy I have in decorating them.

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3. I am grateful for a beautiful day, where it was 70 degrees and I ate supper on the back porch. Tomorrow the temperature dips again and goes down for the rest of the week. Kansas in all its glory has very interesting weather!

4. I am grateful for the New Year that Advent brings. Once again, as Christians we come to a time where we hope for the coming of that time where there is justice, peace and joy.

5. In the midst of the darkness season of the year, and dark times as a nation and as a world, I look for the light that is promised in Emmanuel, God-with-us.

6. In the midst of violence, anger and pain, I pray for peace and look for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign forever and ever. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

With those Saturday six, I am graced to serve.

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One year ago

The news is filled with pain and anger and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. While I can’t begin to understand the suffering and grief for many, I find myself distracted from those events from my own memories of this particular day. For me and my family, this is the day one year ago when we had my mother’s memorial service.

We gathered the week of Thanksgiving for the first time in years and years. Unfortunately my mother did not live long enough to celebrate with us, but we gathered in remembrance and in honor of her life. Here is the picture taken that day before her service.

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My brother wrote a eulogy to honor her unique life. Re-reading his eulogy made me smile and feel a little sad. I miss her. I am grateful for all foibles and her unique and unrepeatable spirit. Chris captured her well.

Postude

Sometimes the personal takes precedent over the political and global nature of life. This evening I am striving to just be at peace with memory, with grief, and with a sense that the world is always a bit unsettled, a bit crazy and all too violent. Tomorrow and the next day and the days after there will be time again to engage in all that the world offers and the hope and promise that faith gives. Tonight it is enough to say Thank You to the One who loves, who comforts and who offers grace enough to face whatever comes. With that prayer of gratitude, I am graced to serve.

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Seasonal Decorating

If you looked in the stores you would think it was time to have all of the Christmas decorations up! It is “the most wonderful time of the year” after all. Actually in some stores, Christmas was creeping into the aisles BEFORE Halloween was over and had taken over on November 1. My brother who blogs at The Kansas Expatriate wrote profoundly on the War on Thanksgiving.

On November 1 I wrote about how the music changed that day to Christmas music in the stores. One radio station is playing non-stop Christmas music already. I LOVE Christmas music, but I LOVE Thanksgiving more. I don’t want to jump from jack o-lanterns and ghosts and spooky decorations to red and green Christmas decorations. I want to enjoy the autumn colors a little longer. I don’t want Santas up while I am enjoying Thanksgiving turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes. I want to be surrounded with oranges, bronzes and reds and golds and crimson. I want those hues that speak of incredible sunsets to fill my home with their warmth.

So I decorate for Thanksgiving. There are fall leaves, pumpkins, pinecones and all kinds of things that literally glow with the colors of autumn. I have “trees” up all year round that are decorated seasonally. After Halloween, they become Thanksgiving trees BEFORE they become Christmas trees. My kitchen is filled with garlands of fall leaves and with pumpkins. The trees look like this:

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This decorating keeps me grounded in this season. Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. I understand why some cultures make it their “new year.” It is autumn that makes me more reflective. I long to think on the past and make choices about the future. The flaming leaves of the trees challenge me to live in such a way that I, too, might glow with inner fire as I enter the “autumn” of life. The autumn reminds me that nothing, not one thing lasts forever. Life is a gift, but it is finite and choices matter.

So I decorate for the fall. I will enjoy the colors of the season until it is time to decorate for the darkness season of the year. Then the house will be filled with light and hope. As I live through these lingering days of autumn, I am graced to serve.

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