ARE WE MOVING OR JUST TREADING WATER?

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

Read the entire chapter 43 of Isaiah. You find all kinds of imagery of movement: passing through waters and rivers, walking through fire. And making paths to cross, pathways through the sea.

God told Abraham to move to a new country; Joshua to go to a land promised to the people; Jonah to Nineveh; and Jesus was never in one place at one time.

Moving. Kinda on my mind and spirit these days – so I looked up the average number of times a family(and I am a family- me and my dog. LOL) moved in their lifetime: 12 times. Twelve times!! And so I counted how many I have(including the next one) and it will be 12 times!! It is frightening, exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.

Where is this going Pastor Liz? Segue: how is your faith moving? Have you grown from a child into an adult in your faith? Paul spoke of how we acted like a child when we were a child and need to act like an adult – in our faith, in our mission, in our extending hospitality and compassion to those who have never understood what that means. So how has your faith moved from the child-like faith into a mature faith, still ever changing, ever flowing, moving from your prayer and Bible study to the practical hands on, get dirty and grimy faith which transforms the lives of others including ourselves?

“We’ve always done it this way” is invalid when that way hasn’t led to more life, greater growth, or maximum efficiency. Take that how you will…business, personally, church, or family. Complacency is too easy to breed, and already has one foot in the grave.”  ― Aaron W. Matthews

“We’ve always done it that way.” That is powerful and I had a friend who reflected on their church that it was still run by dead people. Wow – dead people running a church? Zombieland in the sanctuary?

We cannot be that church, we need to be more like those whose faith was not just some head knowledge but was an action toward others through the calling from God:

Jesus – never said anything that he didn’t do himself – feed, clothe, heal, visit, lay down your life, bear your cross.

Mother Teresa – heal, walk among the most marginal and forgotten, love unconditionally

Martin Luther – change hurts but is necessary, scripture and prayer more powerful

Dorothy Day – feed the poor and unemployed during depression

Moses – stood up to Pharaoh to free Israel from oppression, God’s voice in the wilderness

John the Baptist – lived in the wilderness, paved the way for Jesus

Samuel – as a boy listened and followed the voice and will of God

And the list goes on, even many of today that had faith and courage to step out and risk humiliation, social standing and even their lives to fulfill the call to faith by God. They recognized injustice, lack of hospitality and compassion, and took on the status quo for change.

How can we as First Presbyterian continue as a mission to this community, beyond our rummage sales, Souper Supper participation and Coat Drive? How are we can we be the hands and feet of Christ outside the building we gather in each week?

These are the things to remember to take when you’re ready to move forward:

Pray regularly – Always start with prayer. It opens us up to the Lord and helps us recognize God’s presence within us.

Be prepared to take very small steps – there will be big moments when we know what God is telling us to do, but usually things will go slowly. We pray and listen. Sometimes, we may not hear God correctly, but when we’re striving to move forward how we believe God leads us then we’re living our purpose in God.

Be willing to say yes and try(one more time) Be willing to say yes and try: – God likes to lead us in unexpected areas, but trust that if God does, God will have prepared you for them. Grant yourself grace – we’re all works in progress, trying to live in the way God made us to live. We’re human, though, and won’t always get it right (I promise you that God gets it right). When the time comes that you realize you’ve gotten it wrong, back up and pray some more, read scripture more, and be patient as you fine-tune your hearing.

Always remember that what you do is for God – how blessed we are when we find the things that give us purpose. It’s not as easy to get to that place as we’d like. When we do, after a while it can become old hat and we may lose the reason we’re there in the first place. That’s when things begin to get tedious. Take the time to re-focus on God and follow the example of Jesus.

This is moving faith, growing faith, running through a dry desert and creating a river of life faith.

Are YOU ready? I am.

a woman paddling a boat in the lake

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

In God’s Grace – Pastor Liz

Journey to Wellness

I have been on this really spastic journey to grow my own food: herbs and vegetables and maybe fruit. Not easy being older and body has decided it doesn’t want to lift the 50-75 lbs it used ot. And crap my knees!

I have discovered some like minded folk who want to travel with me to learn more about being gardeners and especially using food to heal. I have been reading and taking some online courses about the benefits beyond spicing and flavoring my dishes with herbs and how I can use to heal defend against some of the ravages of processed foods, inflammation and contribute to overall good health. Something our foremothers were doing before pharmaceutical companies were even a thought in some greedy person’s head to make money.

So I have discovered this grant sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs and am applying for it to start an herbal community of growers – Journey to Well is the project name. My friend Hope is going to co- teach with me for this course and we hope we can win the money to not only get supplies but to also introduce the class to well-known herbalists through their books and lectures.

So here is a very amatuer video of Hope and I sharing our dream and musings for this class. Wish us luck!

 

Passionate Abundant Life!

Thought I would share my July newsletter article with more than just my congregation. Hope it inspires you.

John 10:10:

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (New Revised Standard Version)

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (The Message)

But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow! (The Passion Translation)

Are you living a passionate abundant life? Jesus came to do just that – in fact in reading Leonard Sweet’s book Gospel According to Stabucks: Living a Grande Life,(which we will be using in the Women’s Circle Bible study this fall and if you would like to join us – 2nd Tuesdays starting again in September but if that doesn’t work maybe we can start another one at a different time – and it doesn’t have to be just girls!) he is giving a definition of the Greek word for life in this passage: zoe. Which translates fully as a flamboyant, passionate life.  So the passage would read: I came that they may have a flamboyant, passionate life and have it abundantly. Isn’t it the coolest when you do simple word study and find out there is so much more to the words of Jesus?

I try but I wasn’t the best in Hebrew or Greek, and to have scholars like Sweet and my friend Arko from seminary, I can learn more. And isn’t that what we are to do as followers of Jesus – learn more? Learn more about God’s love, how to serve others, speak up to power, to not be afraid and remember we have faith.

Hebrews 11:1-3 gives the definitive definition for faith: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.  Or we can get a clearer meaning with the Message: The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

Our foundation is faith and upon it we build a passionate abundant life. Our life as followers of Jesus, who repaired our relationship with our Creator, is meant to be flamboyant, passionate, wild, radical, spontaneous, joyful, creative, incredible. So why do seem to be so serious about our faith? Why do we think God wants us to be serious in our worship of a loving, life-giving Creator Parent who wants joy for us, laughter and to just do ordinary things in extraordinary ways.

Starting NOW TODAY on this 1st day of July, pledge to begin having a flamboyant, passionate, abundant, extraordinary life – to the glory of God!

Blessings! Pastor Liz –

Who doesn’t love a cow?

It has been a roller coaster year – and it is just June!

I had made a decision to write more but – that hasn’t happened. A lot of stuff hasn’t happened. Hmmm? Why? How come?

Not totally sure but have some inkling about it – and unlike other bloggers, I am not going to spill my guts to you – it is not that interesting.

But some things could be helpful to someone besides me.

#1 – I am getting OLD! My strength is not like it was, my stamina is shot, and I like food! Well certain foods MORE than others. Want to have a veggie garden and keep talking about it but my body says, “What chu talkin’ ’bout? Going outside in the heat at your age?! Are you nuts??!!”  Yeah a cerebral fight that is continuous.

#2 – I have learned a lot of cool skills but find it hard to keep a schedule in order to get better at these new skills. Time management is not my strongest trait.  Making a schedule just seems tedious – especially since my core vocation is ministry and there has been alot of time – some of the time – I have this really cool schedule, on task, and poof! God laughs and says “You have a schedule!? Just let me help with a monkey wrench out from left, left field!”

#3 – I have creative tendencies and have not been able to practice more of these. Creating worship with visiual and auditory does take more of my time every week, but I need to do more.

#4 – My work is not physical. A lot of sitting, but I am so TIRED at the end of the day. Is that common for others? I come home and just can’t seem to get other stuff done – wash dishes, wash laundry, etc – you know that stuff that makes you a domestic goddess but I really would like to hire one. Oh I forgot – not in my budget. Well, someday.

So today on my day off I do have some canning to do(new skill and love it), I just might get Hannah in the truck and go look at cows.

WHAT!!?? COWS!!?? You may ask. But read this poem and you will understand. It encompasses everything I just shared –

– Ode To a Cow –
When life seems one too many for you, 
Go and look at a Cow. 
When the futures black and the outlooks blue, 
Go and look at a Cow. 
For she does nothing but eat her food, 
and sleep in the meadows entirely nood, 
Refusing to fret or worry or brood, 
Because she doesn’t know how. 
 
Whenever you’re feeling bothered or sore, 
Go and look at a Cow, 
When everything else is a fearful bore, 
Go and look at a Cow. 
Observe her gentle and placid air, 
Her nonchalance and savoir faire, 
Her absolute freedom from every care, 
Her imperturbable brow. 
 
 So when you’re at the end of your wits, 
Go and look at a Cow 
Or when your nerves are frayed to bits, 
And wrinkles furrow your brow; 
She’ll merely Moo in her gentle way, 
Switching her rudder as if to say: 
“Bother tomorrow! Let’s Live today! 
Take the advice of a cow!” 

The Old Farmers Almanac   1936 

nature animal countryside farm

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For those who do not have cows close by, I am sure there are some kind of video on youtube or facebook you can almost get the same experience. Almost. Take a trip out of the city, go for a walk in NATURE, not just doen your urban, concrete, suburban setting – recharge with God’s natural creation that does not need us to make improvements.

Schedule it! There I said – we have to schedule. We have to have some kind of plan – not in stone, but on paper and not in our heads, on the calendar whether that cool planner you got to use, the flat calendar from the local funeral home or on your phone with the bells and whistles to scream at you: CREATIVITY TIME!! NATURE TIME!! UKULELE TIME!! WHATEVER TIME!!!

Good luck – Happy half way through the year Eve!

And I am not sure when I will write again – so no promises right now – should put that on my schedule –

It is the sign of the end of Summer…

Image result for beginning of school year

…when all the big box stores put out school supplies. I love school supplies! I taught high school but I was like an elementary school kid when it came to supplies: I wanted the newest pencils, erasers, notebooks, folders – anything. And I especially love when it was Batman, Pinky and the Brain, and other newer characters: MINIONS!

And I do still get excited but I have moved on to just admiring, buying for the local school supply drives. I instead head to the sharpie section and stock on fav colors or get the newest collection.

I am going to be more proactive this coming year to let teachers know they are not alone – ever. Gratitude and appreciation is not shown enough. Shouldn’t be just an appreciation lunch at the beginning of the year, a single prayer during worship but it should be continous support through our prayers, keeping up with what is happening in the world of Education – like the appointment of someone who is NOT a supporter of public schools but is THE authority of Public Education in our government –  being present at school functions whether we have children in the schools or not, volunteering to read, to assist, to mentor or tutor – whatever we are able to do to let teachers and staff know we are behind them.

Rev Thom Shuman, a Presbyterian minister in the PCUSA, is a writer of poetry, liturgy and insight that is inspiring and instills reflection of one’s self that I have encountered in very few writers. He posted this observation today and I shared it on facebook but it got me thinking and lead me to write(haven’t written anything for a long time)

Here is Rev Shuman’s post from Wednesday Aug 9, 2017:

Here is the thing about teachers.
A teacher will never blow her own horn but will place musical instruments in the hands of kids and melt their hearts.
A teacher will never strut his stuff butwill take a bus load of kids to an afternoon ballet and years later watch the boys who sat on the back row snickering and rolling their eyes play the sharks and Jets in the High School production of West Side Story.
. A teacher will never make a scientific discovery but will introduce a microscope to a bored kid who 20 years later will discover the key that unlocks the door of her grandmother’s prison called Alzheimer’s.
A teacher may never write a great novel that will hand poetry and fiction and biography to a generation who will.
A teacher may not change history but will help her students discover the past so they can understand today and make tomorrow a better place.
So let’s stop making teachers our scapegoats, our pinatas, our bullet points in a political platform. Let’s start supporting them and caring for them and encouraging them and praying for them. Why not fill a box with school supplies and drop them off to a teacher? Why not become a volunteer in your local school? Why not give back to the teachers who have given so much to your community?
Because here’s the thing about teachers. They teach. And if they ever stop then everything else will stop as well.

Thank you Teachers! And I will do better by you –

Learning New Skills

I have signed up for a challenge: to learn to use a different type of preserving method each month. January it is marmalade. I am going to attempt to do this but in a small batch. And may even let others try it!  But this is what life should be about: learning new skills, traveling to a new place, working with people on a new project.

So keep a look out here as to my progress in preserving. Hope it goes faster than the unpacking of boxes – still have a few to get organized into the new home. Along with getting ready the garden beds and chicken coop.

And just in case you would like to join the challenge, here is the place to go:

Food in Jars Challenge 2017

Have a great 2017 and learn a new skill!

2017 – Wow, made it!

This is the article I wrote for our January newsletter here at FPC, Higginsville, MO. It has been an exciting 8 months and if the devil doesn’t spoil things(which is possible when you are doing God’s work and listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit), it is going to be an exciting year.

Still trying to be a gardener and small farmer, I am getting better. It takes time just like all skills. But I thought I did pretty good writing this and thought it might inspire others – improve ourselves, our relationships and world one step at a time. So enjoy, learn some about what is happening in my part of the world –

   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Who is ready to make some resolutions?!  How about just make one for January, then for February, etc. Small goals some a feeling of accomplishment will happen. Same goes for the Congregation of FPC. Right now for January, the Session is going to seek advice to renovate the kitchen as they have been talking about for awhile. January will also see the save the date mail out got to members and friends of FPC for our 175th Anniversary in June. Also our Souper Suppers begin and will need all hands on deck to provide meals for our community. We will have the Sunday night slot again on January 22 at 6 pm.

February will be a focus on how to utilize the green space behind the parking lot into a possible Community Garden. Many grants are out there and deadlines come up in February or open to apply. FPC will also approach FFA, 4H, Boy and Girl Scouts and the neighbors who live within walking distance of the church to partner with us in providing fresh produce. Will also look into scheduling workshops focusing on gardening, composting, preserving and canning. Souper Supper this month is on February 19.

March begins the Lenten Season with Ash Wednesday on March 1.  This is another time of reflection and how we can better serve and follow the example of Jesus Christ. The last Souper Supper is March 26. This month plans for the Anniversary Celebration will be finalized and flyers and banners will be created and publicizing will begin.

Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Resurrection will be our focus with the Chancel Choir Cantata, Men’s and Women’s Holy Week Breakfasts, Maundy Thursday Service and Communion around table in the fellowship hall, Good Friday Cross Walk. This is the April activities along with preparing for the Anniversary Celebration that will begin in June on the 25th.

And that is just the beginning of the year of 2017! Within this time period Bible Study will happen on Sunday morning at 9:30aqm, second Tuesdays for Presbyterian Women and a possible special Lent Study – more on that later. Worship on Sunday mornings beginning at 10:45am, Vespers on first Sunday night of the month and Mid-Week Morning Prayer time for not just us but also for the community.

So, within the activities, we will be the disciples and ministers that this community needs.  Our Mission projects to fund the Food Pantry: garage sale, Souper Bowl, etc; Cherith Brook and Festival of Sharing. Christian Education Team will be strategizing in ways to engage the youth of the community, especially those who are unchurched.  The Session (they don’t know this yet) will also begin strategies for Spiritual growth and Evangelism to our unchurched community. This takes time for we want to meet needs that are relevant for the those we need to reach.  First Presbyterian will continue to be a congregation that seeks to be a beacon of hope, compassion and a community of faith which will not condemn but show compassion, grace and acceptance no matter how our views differ.

May God bless you and your family this coming year. And remember, make your resolutions about how you can change the world by how you change and transform yourself to reflect the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, being empowered by the Holy Spirit!