Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pray, Praise, Serve

Our Pastor Paul is retiring. Last Sunday he gave his last official sermon. He was just back from Africa and he told us about the resiliency and gratitude of the folks from Tanzania. He told us of the tremendous hardships they have endured. He told how he asked the one of the Christian radio leaders how he kept going and going under the terrible circumstances. The radio worker replied that he stuck to three words: pray, praise and service. Pray for guidance, praise the Lord, and serve man.

The elephant in the room of course, is that this also describes Easter's own leader, Paul himself. It could have been a sermon about himself.

The fourteen years that I have known Pastor Paul? They started with Calvin's baptism. Pastor lifted Calvin's little baby body high above his head at the alter--symbolically offering Calvin to the Lord, and simultaneiously scaring me to death--in that new mother sort of way.

Pray, praise, and service. Really that is the central theme of Pastor Paul's life. When I think of service to man, I think of Paul.

I will miss his sermons. But not really--because I actually remember almost every single one and there are a dozen of which I could rewrite the outline. The sermon the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I don't remember the year. . . well actually it was 2002. . .the catch line. . . was "heaven is not a place of leisure." God has us here to serve. And that might put us out of our comfort zone, again, and again, and again.

He can stand up and say those works to the suburban congregation because Pastor Paul put his money where his mouth is. Most of that money and those mouths being in Tanzania.

So those sermons have pushed me out of my own comfort zone more than once. Heaven is not a place of leisure. Heaven is a place of service. And it's right here.

Pastor Paul is facing some of his own challenges with his health. So, he's in our prayers. I remember a lecture series he gave on resiliency. I still have the notes tucked in my Bible. Pastor Paul is a resilient man. He knows all about that.

 Prayer. Praise. Service. God wants us out of our comfort zone. Resiliency.

Thank you for all those words and blessings on your retirement, Pastor Paul.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Circling Our Summer Wagons

It's that time. 

Last Day of School Outing With the Boy

Child Labor--thank you Mary for compiling my scores

. . . and Calvin for filing choir music

Working on the Workshop

Now for the poly and the cushions. . . she's almost done

Calvin survived a week at piano camp WITHOUT ME!

Calvin's first good crop

Cat Labor. Helping me tidy the linen closet. Note the black fur and white quilt thing. . . 

SPARK OF JOY -- It doesn't injure me when I open the door

Please note the paddle in my hands. It's a long way to shore folks. 

Who would have thought one little boat motor could suck up so much rope. Rookies. 

The banana boat lives to die another day. 

Piano Toys

Updating the studio with some organizers

And a day of antiquing with my family girls brings home some american pottery. . .
Some was my grandma's and some is new. 

The gang playing JAZZ IN CHURCH.  Satan get thee back.
Bill and Bill played a medley of Amazing Grace that would make just about anyone come to Jesus. 

Because we didn't have enough practice hours in the day. Oh the tales that clarinet could tell. 

Linda Erickson eat your heart out. I'm getting there. 
We've been having a great summer. There is so much going on and time with family and music camps and teaching. The garden is weedy but alive and blooming. A tornado came within a mile of our cabin. Our 100 year old pines dodged a bullet. Others were not so fortunate but no one was hurt up north.

Mostly this summer, in-between practicing for weddings and planning the fall workshop with Cindy, I'm circling my wagons.

I'm scared to death of this Fall, and high school and SAM and SPTG and choir. And my other child starting clarinet and continuing ballet and Calgon take me away.

I've been reading my new favorite book, Breathing Under Water, by Richard Rohr. Subtitled "Spirituality and the 12 Steps." No one in my current circles is battling substance abuse, thankfully. But me and a lot of people I know . . . do battle with addictions of the mind, consumerism, sugar and even our old friend caffeine. Most people got something hanging over their heads, maybe even the idea that everything is perfect and they DON'T have any addictions.  That is an addiction too.

So none of us are safe.

The reason I am loving this book is because it's giving me a conscious path to looking for God's will in my daily life. Rohr believes AA is the closest thing we have to a pure religion in the United States. While all the folks are dressed up ready for church upstairs, the inner work is happening all across the country in the basement meetings. Maybe.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and mediation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood (God), praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

If I can wake up everyday and meditate even for two minutes on God's will for my day it's gonna change my life. It's gonna align my desires with God's. I just have to be still enough to listen before I jump into the to-do list.

It might not change to to-do list. Or it might. It doesn't matter. How I live inside will largely determine how I live outside. A calm inner authority could possibly prevail. At least now and then.

It's the same thing I've always said--you have to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. But it's just making sure the oxygen we breath in and out is the pure air of God's will for each and every moment.

The storm is gonna come. I won't be checking FaceBook and watching cute cat videos when the winds of September blow.  I won't be sorting recital programs by date and slipping them into little clear sleeves.

It's a letter from my calm self to my stressed out self. It's okay to get a little frantic now and then--that's gonna happen for sure. We just can't stay there too long. We have to circle our wagons and find the path back to our very best self--which presumable is God's idea of us in the first place.

That's all I know for now. There was a raccoon on the front porch last night. Little yellow birds are at my feeder. Bunnies are minding their perimeters munching the back lawn. We've had an inch of rain every three days. And Mary is up for all day at 11:15 a.m.  Time for me to go.

Happy summertime.