This One Life

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“I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.” – Ezekiel 37:14

This morning after I got the boys on the bus, I went for a walk. Then, I went to the nursing home and preached at their weekly service. The residents gather and we sing hymns with no accompaniment. Some don’t hear very well and so usually everyone is starting and stopping verses at different times. It may not always be a pretty sound, but it is a joyful sound as we sing their favorite hymns, read scripture, and share in Holy Communion.

After that, I went to a meeting with some other ministers to talk about upcoming events. Next, I dashed over to Fargo to see a parishioner who is still in the hospital on hospice care.

Then, when I got home, I went for another walk with my sons in the beautiful, warm sunshine. We talked about the highs and lows of their day and breathed in the fresh March air. “Can we do this every day, Mom?” my youngest asked. They, like most of us here in Minnesota, have had enough of cold weather and are looking forward to soaking up as much sun as possible now.

This evening I met with our church book group and we talked about the “Christ Walk” book by Anna Fitch Courie that many in our church have been reading during Lent. Most of us said we had been better about walking than we had been about keeping up with our reading. Overall, we liked the book and Courie’s reflections on walking, spirituality, and health.

It was a simple day – nothing special. However, as I walked with my boys today I thought about how it’s these simple days that add up, one by one, to make this one life we get.

Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones is a promise that Israel, though dead in exile, will live again in their land through God’s life-giving Spirit. I pray that God’s life-giving Spirit is granting you energy for each step, wisdom for your choices, inspiration for your journey each day. Each precious, unique, simple, irreplaceable day.

Keep Walking, Friends!

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Dry Bones

This Sunday, the Old Testament reading is Ezekiel’s vision of the Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). In Bible study this morning as we talked about that text, the question came up, “What kinds of situations do people face which might cause them to despair that they feel like dried, dead bones?  How might God’s Spirit breathe life and hope into these folks?”

The stories the Bible study members told were immensely moving – stories of grave loss and devastation that they or people they loved had known – but each of them also spoke about ways that God had brought healing in the most surprising ways.

You have stories like that, too, don’t you? Times when you knew the Spirit of God was bringing you back to life in ways you could never have foreseen – bringing you peace and comfort and hope when you were pretty sure those things were gone for good.

I pray for that for you today, friends. If you have a story of healing to tell, share it – because it might be just the life line someone is needing. And if today you find yourself still in the midst of the Valley of Dry Bones, feeling dry, withered, forsaken – know that I am praying for you that soon you will feel the Spirit bringing you back to life again…breathing God’s breath into your days.

God is near. Always.

Sacred Spaces Photography Available Now

For many years I have taken photographs of churches and cemeteries. I’ve been asked numerous times if my photographs are available in a coffee table book or somewhere else and so I have set up a little shop on Society 6 where you can find some of my photos available as prints, notecards, and even some iphone cases!  Have a country church you love? Look for it here:  https://society6.com/pastrgrrl

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Looking for Green Places

Looking for green places
But they are not here yet
Just brown and brown,
grey and brown
The cold lingers a bit longer
Spring is shy.

I was tired today
Walking felt like a chore.
I walked and felt underwater with each step.
Everything was hard –
Cleaning – a chore
Writing – a chore
Being awake – a chore;

So I scaled everything back and practiced being quiet
My kids and I
Watched movies
Ate Chinese food
and talked
occasionally glancing out at the
brown grass, brown trees, grey March day.

There was so much I needed to do
but really
I needed to sit
and listen
for You.
Sometimes You seem so quiet…
or am I just being too loud?
All I know is that my spirit gets dry as dust
my bones all wither-y
and then
it is time to stop.
Stop and listen.
Stop and pray.
Stop and be.
Stop and look out the window
at the brown and grey,
wonder out loud,
sigh.

Oh – maybe someday I will be wise enough
to do this before my spirit feels parched.
Someday I will pretty much enlightened
Pretty much.
But not today.
Today I was tired
So I rested.
and I trust in the healing sleep will bring
and in the One who placed the stars in the sky
and in all that might yet be possible tomorrow.

An Everyday Prayer

Dear God,
I yelled at the dog
I had a cookie for breakfast
I was impatient with the children
I sighed over another cold, snowy day
I worried, and worried, and worried some more.
Countless times I lose my way as your follower each day.
Countless ways I wander in the darkness
So much for being a light in the world for you.
So much for showing others the way to you when so often I am distracted,
Disturbed,
Day-dreaming,
Dead-tired.
But still, you are here. For me, for all of us.
But still, I hear your breath in the evening breeze.
But still, your wonder is painted in the sunrise.
But still, you are everywhere – in the warm handshake on the way into church,
In the sweet smiles of children listening to stories about you.
In their squirminess, too.
You are here – in this holy place – so old, and yet being made new each year.
You are here – loving us at our best, holding us at our worst.
So thank you, God. Thank you for this day – snow and cold and all.
Thank you for blessing us with relationships, people to love. Help us to be better at that.
Thank you for all there is to do and be each day – but help us to not take it all so seriously that we miss the joy of the journey.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen.

Save the Cocktails for after the Ceremony. Please.

Thinking about having a glass or two of wine, a nice cold beer before your wedding ceremony? You might want to think again…

Detroit Lakes Weddings

Out of the corner of my eye, I could sense it was happening. The gorgeous bridesmaid, who had minutes before elegantly teetered down the aisle on her perfectly dyed bridesmaid heels, was beginning to unnaturally sway as I was preaching my small wedding sermon. I glanced over toward her – her face was grayish and sweat was glistening off her delicate brow. “She’s going to faint,” I thought – and then she crumpled like rag doll onto the carpet.

One might think this would cause chaos – and surely it can – but this wasn’t my first rodeo. As the other bridesmaids flocked around their fallen cohort, I calmly told the congregation, “one of the bridesmaids just needs a moment to catch her breath and get some air. Let’s sing a hymn.” I announced the hymn to the organist and she expertly started playing – it wasn’t her first rodeo…

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