Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chasing Butterflies

Happy Wear a Dress Tuesday!

I tried to take a self portrait again - the camera is just too big!

Thank you for grabbing the camera, Bruce!

I adore this dress and I love how nicely the thicker heel compliments it.  Agreed?


So I received an absolutely amazing gift this afternoon and I had to share ...

Our Church School Sunday is coming up next Sunday and all of the kids have been bringing in white t-shirts for one of the teachers to tie-dye.  A few weeks ago, a few of us were talking about the shirts and I mentioned that it would be fun if we could find a way to make me a tie dye stole to wear that day.  Abbie - one of our teachers - MADE THIS HERSELF! 

She bought the fabric already tie dyed, we traced one of my other stoles and then she sewed it together.  Then she put on the butterflies - which represent new beginnings.

Isn't that gorgeous?  I'm speechless!

Well, not really.

Thank you Abbie!  Now that you know how to make them, I have an idea for another one ...


New Carpet Smell

I LOVE our new carpets!

When I walked in, I immediately felt a difference because of the new padding that they put down.

Bruce took these progress pics ...

Here's the new carpet!

The color it 'Pie Crust'.

I'm in love.

They did everything except the master bedroom, which they will come back and do tomorrow.  I love that every room has the same color carpet (there were three different colors before).  I can't wait for it all to be done!

I snuck out of this office around 3:30 so Bruce and I could have an early dinner before choir tonight (well - Bruce has choir, I have work to do!).

I had leftover rice in the fridge, so I made a batch of fried rice.

Mmm ...

I'm heading back to church to finish up some work.  I'll be back with a Wear a Dress Tuesday photo tonight!


Good Morning!

A short week just means I have less time to get everything done that I need to this week!  Eek!

So Bruce and I started the (short) week off right. :)

We're getting new carpets installed at the parsonage today so we've been trying to move things onto the hardwoods or linoleum.  My kitchen currently looks like this ... 

Yes that is a litter box. 

In my kitchen.

I'm going to church to hide in my office until this is all over.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Nights

What a beautiful night!

It was HOT today!  We were at a Memorial Day picnic for most of the afternoon, but pretty much came home and hid in the basement for the rest of the day.  I just went upstairs and it seems to be cooling off.  Phew!  I don't know about you all, but I am so much less productive in the heat!  It just completely drains me ...

Dinner was late because we honestly weren't hungry.  I think it was a combination of the pounds of picnic food we ate (mmm) and the fact that we were just hot and blah.

Once we started to get hungry, Bruce heated up a frozen pizza and I - inspired by our dinner with church members last weekend - tossed a spinach salad with red onions, sliced almonds and ranch dressing and put it on top of the pizza.

It was awesome!

I'm forcing Bruce to watch the season finale of Khloe and Lamar tonight - don't judge!  I need the mental break.

Dighton/Rehoboth Memorial Day Parade

Some of my favorites ...

Bruce wants us to get a tractor so he can ride it in the parade next year!

For Those Who Have Fallen

Happy Memorial Day!

Flag is at half for the morning - we're off to the parade!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More Than A Four Letter Word

Man - what a great service.

An opportunity to experience the Holy Spirit, to pay tribute to fallen soldiers, veterans and their families and to worship in awe of creation.

Just ... Amazing.

(Thanks, Steve, for the photos!)

Here is this morning's sermon.  The audio has been uploaded to my sermons tab if you'd like to listen instead of read!


John 14:15-21

More Than A Four Letter Word

I was on a conference call this past week and someone on the call asked me what my relationship with Jesus Christ was like.

I have to be honest – I was a little taken aback by the question. In all reality, in the United Church of Christ and in Congregational Churches in this part of the country we don’t often talk specifically about our relationship with Jesus Christ. We talk about community; we talk about building the foundation for strong churches; we talk about all of the wonderful things that our churches do; we talk about wanting to raise our children in a positive Christian environment; we talk our powerful worship services and we talk about the wonderful feelings of hope and peace that we feel when we experience fellowship with our congregations.

I stumbled over my answer, saying something about being inspired and empowered by the ministry of Jesus Christ; about striving to walk in the path that he set before me. I said that my relationship with the divine is more about the spirit than the literal person of Jesus Christ. In an effort to make it seem like I actually had a coherent answer to the question, I repeated myself a handful of times, said "um" more times than I care to admit and finally kind of trailed off and hoped that the person who asked the question would start talking.

I'm pretty sure the guy on the other end of the phone was probably fumbling through his papers and emails, thinking to himself, "She does WHAT for a living?"

I thought about our conversation all week; and I struggled with the fact that I was unable to eloquently articulate my answer to that question.

But here is the truth – I have always had a difficult time answering that question. And it is not because I am uncomfortable talking about my faith – you all know that, I do that every week! It is not because I don’t believe that Jesus walked and talked and lived as one of us. It is not because I do not believe in the resurrection. And it is not because I do not think that we should all strive to live a life of compassion and service like the one that Jesus lived. It is because I have always felt that in focusing solely on our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are missing out on a powerful part of the divine prescribed to us by Jesus before he died: The Holy Spirit.

Jesus said before he died, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."

Jesus knew that he would not be in the flesh forever. He knew he was going to die; he was ready to die. But he was not ready to be gone completely. He did not want the world to resort to a way of life similar to the one that existed before he was born. And so he asked God, the Creator, to send an Advocate on his behalf, the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is eternal. The Holy Spirit is ever present. The Holy Spirit exists in, within and through all things. The Holy Spirit is always with you – each one of you. In my pastoral prayer every week, I ask God to give comfort and support to those who cry out in pain; to wrap his arms around them. And in my mind – it is the Holy Spirit that acts on that request; it is the Holy Spirit that is always there to comfort someone when they are weak, to fill them with power and courage when they are scared and to hold them close when they tremble.

I have always said that God is always present in my life. Last summer when I was at the hospital, I said that God helped me get through every difficult case that I encountered. A few weeks ago, I talked about the fact that God was with me every step of the eight-year journey towards ordination. When people ask me how I stand up and preach every Sunday or hold it together during a funeral, I say that God gives me those words and poise. When I talk about finding balance in my life, I say that God helps me that find balance.

And I do not necessarily think that any of those statements are wrong. But after spending some time with this scripture this week, I think that when I talk about my day-to-day encounters with God, I am talking about the Holy Spirit. And I think that I struggled so much with the question about my relationship with Jesus because I understand those encounters as encounters with the Holy Spirit.

When I was writing my sermon this week, I had an ‘a-ha!’ moment. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit because he loved his disciples and his earliest followers and did not want to leave them alone – or ‘orphaned’ as the scripture says. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit because he cared so much about future generations that he wanted them to experience a constant divine presence in their lives. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit because, even without knowing them, he loved all of his followers – some who have come and gone, some who are alive today and some who have not even been born yet. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit because he loves every single one of you. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit because he loves me.

‘Jesus loves me this I know. For the bible tells me so.’ – It’s a simple song with a complex message. This passage is where the bible ‘tells us so’. Jesus loved and loves us so much that he made sure he could be present in our lives long after his life on earth ended.

“I will not leave you orphaned,” Jesus said. “I am coming to you. In a little while the world will not longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.”

The love shown to us by Jesus Christ in that one moment, in that one offering to us, is more than the four-letter word that we understand love to be today. It is a love that transcends all conflict and difference that exists in the world. It is a love that cuts through pain, hurt and suffering. It is a love that rejoices in truth and service. It is a love that we may never understand.

It is a love that transforms us all.

The passage that we read this morning was the passage that was part of the confirmation liturgy a few weeks ago – do you remember it? It was a perfect scriptural reference for that day! As the confirmands made their commitments to our church and to the greater Christian Church they were reminded that they are not alone in this journey.

Jesus gave us that greatest gift we could possibly be given by giving us the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But the scripture does not end there.

Jesus also said in this passage, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Now Jesus gave us several commandments before he died. But there is one that has always stuck out to me. It is simple and yet it says so much. It was recorded in the Gospel of John that Jesus said before he died, “Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”

It sounds so simple, right? But it’s not! History has proven time and time again that it is not easy to love one another.

But this is where Jesus’ final message to us all comes full circle. Because this is where the Holy Spirit comes back in.

The Holy Spirit is a divine presence that exists in us always. The Holy Spirit is what helps us to love when we want to hate. The Holy Spirit is what encourages us to use our hands to comfort someone rather than to strike them. The Holy Spirit is what breathes patience into us when we are at our wits end. The Holy Spirit is what whispers quietly into our ear when we are at our darkest hour, “Be still – and know that I am God.”

The Holy Spirit is what reminds us – even in our frailty and brokenness – that we, too, are beautiful in the eyes of God. The Holy Spirit is what gives us hope when our country is at war. The Holy Spirit is what gives us strength to support our soldiers and their families when we desperately just want peace on earth. The Holy Spirit is what reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation here on earth.

The Holy Spirit is what helps us to uphold the commandment to love one another.

It is not easy. It is not supposed to be. Jesus knew it was not going to be. That is why he sent us The Advocate. That is why he sent us the Holy Spirit.

Next time someone asks me about my relationship with Jesus Christ, I think I will proudly say that I love him for what he did hundreds and hundreds of years ago; that I love him for sending a Spirit that is with me and the people that I love every single day of our lives and that I love him for thinking beyond the realm of existence that he was living in. I will say that because of the love of Jesus Christ, a love that I will NEVER understand, but always recognize the value of, I am never alone.

We are not alone. We will never be alone. We are loved.

‘Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so.’ It does. Right here. Amen.

A Night In Wickford

We had so much fun last night!

Our friends live in Wickford, RI - which is an absolutely beautiful coastal town.  I can't imagine living that close to the water!

Dinner was delicious - Chicken with Fennel over Couscous + the Spinach & Strawberry Salad we brought.  Great combination!

After dinner we went through a walk around town.  It was such a gorgeous night!  Here are some of my favorite photos ... 

We have a special outdoor Memorial Day worship service today - I'm off!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spinach & Strawberry Salad

I'm kind of excited about dinner with friends tonight.

I'm bringing this.

Inspired by my lovely friend Cheryl, who used to bring something similar to potlucks at Pilgrimage (miss you guys!), I give you ...

Spinach & Strawberry Salad

10 cups Baby Spinach
1 pound Strawberries
1/4 cup Red Onion
2/3-1 cup Sliced Almonds
Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

This couldn't be more easy (especially because I cheated and bought the dressing!).

Throw your spinach in a bowl.

Slice your strawberries - you'll get about 4-5 slices per strawberry, depending on size.

Mmm.  Throw them in the bowl and toss it up.

Finely dice the red onions and toss them in ...

And then measure out your onions and do the same.

Keep chilled until you are ready to serve.

Except when you have it outside in order to have better photography light.

Food blogging makes life confusing.

Cheryl's recipe calls for tossing the salad in the dressing right before you use it.  I might let everyone dish their own dressing, though - for portions sake, but also in case there are leftovers.  Leftover salad that already has dressing makes for a soggy mess ...

We're off!
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