For the Beauty of the Earth

Reflecting on the old Thanksgiving hymn, For The Beauty of the Earth, I am truly grateful. . .

1) For the Beauty of the Earth
My new home in South Carolina is beautiful!  Yesterday, our family took a stroll through Clemson’s Botanical Gardens, and I was astounded by the splendor of creation — even in November!  God’s artwork is everywhere!

2) For the Wonder of Each Hour
Time is fleeting, and I’m thankful for each precious moments.  Seize the day!

3) For Thy Church
In worship (holy hands above) and service (pure sacrifice of love).
I am so thankful for my beloved church back in Wisconsin (so many heartwarming memories) — my new church family in SC — (such great visionary leadership), and the wonderful pastors and congregations I’ve met this fall in the course of my travels.  God’s people come in all shapes and packages — and His Kingdom is alive and well indeed!

4) For the Joy of Human Love
Brother, sister, parent, child.  I am thankful for my beautiful family, and am overjoyed for this opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with them

5) For Thyself – Best Gift Divine.
God has been my greatest source of strength and comfort. I find fellowship with Him sweeter as the years go by. In my daily quiet time, He gives me the spiritual motivation and strength to face whatever comes throughout the day.

A Good Sabbath Reminder

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

—  John Greenleaf Whittier

Prayer to Begin a New Semester

Lord, as we prepare for the coming of a new semester, make us ready, attentive and available to hear you.

Thank You for the gift of being able to rise each day with the assurance that You walk through it with us.

Thank You for the gifts of creativity and uniqueness, and the energy to put them to good use.

May all that we are today, all that we try to do today, may all our encounters, reflections, even the frustrations and failings all be place in your hands.

May the work we do and the way we do it, bring new hope, new life, and courage to all we come in contact with this semester. We thank you, Lord.   Amen

(Marquette University)

One Word that Changes Everything

Margaret Feinberg recently shared one word that changes everything for us:

One of the best words you’ll ever learn to say is, “Yes!”

“Yes” to learning…

“Yes” to being stretched…

Yes” to new experiences with friends…

“Yes” to wrestling with unfamiliar issues…

“Yes” to unusual flavors…

“Yes” to thinking deeper…

“Yes” to growth…

“Yes” to trying new things…

The word that will change your life is saying Yes….

Because when you stop saying  “no” to opportunities to grow and think deeper and learn…

You break out of….

The familiar

The same old same old

Those negative spirals of thought

The focus on what’s not possible

The tendency of self-focus

And open yourself up to…

The abundant life God has called you to live. New people. New experience. New play. New fun. New joy. New delight.

— Margaret Feinberg  (Read more here )

 

Thank You God for Each Moment

Lord, thank you for each moment,
for the blue-sky moment,
the softening earth,
the refreshing wind,
the yellow bush,
for my full heart
and the joy rising in me.

Soften me
to receive whatever comes as a gift
and to praise you in it.

Lord, thank you for each moment
for the twilight moment,
the pause,
the good tired,
for the quiet reflection,
the slowing down,
the mysterious sunset,
for the wisdom growing inside me.

Gentle me
to feel whatever comes as a gift
and to praise you in it.

Lord, thank you for each moment,
for the midnight moment,
the loneliness,
the fretful wondering,
for the watchful stars,
the long ache,
the sleepless wait,
and the hope straining in me.

Focus me
to see whatever comes as a gift
and to praise you in it.

Lord, thank you for each moment,
for the high-noon moment,
the job,
the necessary routine,
for the sweaty struggle,
the impulse to change,
and the courage gathering in me.

Ground me
to wrestle with whatever comes as a gift
and to praise you in it.

Lord, thank you for each moment,
for the shared moment,
the listening,
the unguarded word,
for the fragile openness,
the ready smile,
the accepted difference,
for my passionate heart
and the trust rooting in me.

Stretch me
to grow with whatever comes as a gift
and to praise you in it.

Thank you for each moment,
for the charged moment,
the confrontation,
for the hard decision,
the unexpected growing,
for my intense heart
and the truth expanding in me.

Free me
to be open to whatever comes as a gift
and to praise you in it.

Thank you for each moment,
for the holy moment,
the music,
the child’s eyes,
for the sunlight,
the touch,
the tears,
for the trembling pleasure,
the unutterable beauty,
for the life and love and heart in me aware,
and the wholeness spreading in me.

Touch me
through whatever comes as a gift
That I may be grateful
and praise you in it.

~from Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

The Burial of Dad’s Sermon Notes

Cleaning out my office after 26 years of ministry in the same small town congregation, I stumbled across my father’s sermon notes.

Since his death in 1991, I’ve kept several boxes of his hand-scrawled outlines enshrined in a filing cabinet, to honor his memory, maintaining a sacred bond with my heritage. But leafing through these mementos of glory thundered from the pulpit, I finally admitted the truth to myself.  There was no life in them.

For Dad, notes did not contain the life.  It was in the delivery.  The notes weren’t the sermon.  Rather, they were like spent bullet shell casings, or fireworks that had already been shot.  They were just scraps of words without significance.

The day I threw my father’s sermons in the dumpster, it felt somewhat like a second burial. . . with hope of resurrection.

Spiritual Formation and Beach Glass

“Spiritual formation is like the creation of beach glass. The pieces of glass that enter the ocean are never identical. Neither do they also look the same as the current washes them to the shore. It is the same for my spiritual formation and the ultimate result of a lifetime of being changed and transformed. I will still be me, but I will look, feel, and react differently.” — Sadie Kaminski

Singing In the Cage and Out

LITTLE CAGE
-Anonymous

He placed me in a little cage,
Away from gardens fair;
But I must sing the sweetest song,
Because He placed me there.

Not beat my wings against the cage,
If it’s my Maker’s will,
But raise my voice to heaven’s gates,
And sing the louder still.
—-

OPEN CAGE
-Darrelyn L. Tutt

He opened up my little cage,
And caught me unaware;
And now I wish to sing the praise,
Of He who brought me there.

With open wing and joy I sing,
And none more dear to me;
Than He took the bars away,
And set my spirit free.
—-

“Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17

Darrelyn Tutt is an outstanding poet.  Her inspiring and reflective writings can be found at her site:  Inkwell Ministries