New Day

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Lamentations 3:22-24.

*Ahh! Posting a Sunday Stilleto! Feels like slipping into a fabulous pair of heels…and I know a thing or two about that…!*

On my final day of renewal leave I decided to get some dirt under my fingernails. Equipped with great advice from my gardening gurus – Nita and Lila – and a very sharp pair of pruning shears, I shaped my grandmother’s crown of thorns and used the trimmings to root plants in six other pots, which are adding much needed color to our new yard. It brings my heart joy that my Nonnie continues to shine beauty on this side of eternity as well as the next.

(My neighbor thought I was a little crazy cutting a cactus by hand without gloves…you can take the girl out of Polk County, but you can’t take the Polk County out of the girl…)

I have been quite like this crown of thorns over the past six weeks: way too hot, out in the elements, in the midst of moving, and at times – prickly. This plant was one of the last items to journey to our new home from our previous parsonage. With its arrival also came the reality that we are not in Kansas – I mean Casselberry – anymore…even though we have been in Riverview close to six weeks. When Andrew unloaded this plant off the truck, the feeling overcame me that this is now our home.

And that, friends, is well with my soul.

Beginning this week at South Shore UMC I finally feel like the in between time of transition is complete. Christian Mystics often refer to “in between times” as thin places – places where the veil between reality and eternity is much thinner, or perhaps, even permeable. It is those times where people either A) really connect and root with God or B) they freeze or flee from God because it can be scary to be near something so holy.

I experienced both in my thin place of transition. I connected with God. I froze. And now – how wonderfully theological and symbolic – I have chosen to root – just as I rooted cuttings from my grandmother’s crown of thorns. I – my family – have chosen to root in this neighborhood with this church family for the Kingdom of God. Just as I took a piece of Nonnie’s original plant to make something new, so God is taking pieces of me – experiences, learnings, failings forward, and most importantly, relationships – to root me in ministry alongside the folks at South Shore.

I reckon I will need daily watering (coffee-ing?) and pruning (accountability) especially if I start to be or am prickly.

I am counting on y’all.

Thank you, South Shore UMC, for the warm welcome we received. Andrew, Joshua, and I are grateful for you and excited to root alongside you in ministry to the God we serve.

See you Sunday!

Prayer: “Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee; surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with his love doth befriend thee.”* Amen.

*”Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” The United Methodist Hymnal 139.

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Waiting and Watching

Sunday’s Scripture ~ John 10:22-30.

I don’t like change.

The frequency I am hearing and saying this sentence increases daily.

It is true – we like what we like. We like what we know. Therefore, we do not like change.

It is also true – if we do not change, we do not achieve our full potential. If we do not change, we deny ourselves growth and maturity.

If we do not change, we die.

During times of change I find comfort by remembering and returning to the constants in my life – God’s faith in me, the love of and for my family, the good news in hymns, and the truth contained in Scripture. These are sure and trustworthy anchors for me.

On Wednesday I had the privilege to preach the chapel service at Westminster Winter Park as I have done quarterly for the last seven years. These mornings spent in worship with this community have been such a blessing. The residents became mentors and friends. They helped shape me as a person and a pastor. I am so grateful.

Many of my chapel visits were on days that one of Westminster’s musical groups offered their leadership in worship; Wednesday was no different. The choir sang a rendition of “God of the Ages.” The last verse of that hymn sings:

Refresh thy people on their toilsome way;
lead us from night to never-ending day;
fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
and glory, laud, and praise be ever thine.

The phrases “refresh thy people” and “lead us from night to never-ending day” speak deeply to my soul in this season of transition. Amidst all the movement and shift associated with change, change is also an opportunity to refresh and to be led. Our God has a very clear idea of who God wants us to be and what God wants us to do. I, for one, am really good at overcomplicating things, most especially myself. The gift of change is the ability to refresh and be led in and for God’s intention for both my life and my ministry.

The same is true for the Tuskawilla UMC Family as you prepare to continue your ministry alongside Pastor Heather.

My prayer for the coming days is that all our lives truly will be filled with love and grace divine as Jesus refreshes and leads us to the new days that await us. Change is not hard; resistance to change is hard. So may we all be encouraged to be refreshed rather than resist the change. The God of the Ages – including this one! – is leading us!

Prayer: “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace! My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the honors of thy name.”* Amen.

*”O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing,” The United Methodist Hymnal 57.