Friday night

It's FRIDAY! I'm headed into a big ol' weekend and it's going to be great!

Tomorrow is RENEW! - an annual synod event. This year's theme is "The Dance of Radical Hospitality." The planning crew has done an outstanding job putting this together! With the impending inclement weather, folks discerned that our best bet would be to shift to an abbreviated version of the event. That way attendees will still get to enjoy each part of the agenda AND get out before the snow starts falling. Hopefully it all works out as intended.

Then Sunday I'm pulpit supplying down at a 2-point congregation near the Iowa boarder! The congregations will soon be getting their new pastor and won't need back-up coverage anymore. It has been a joy to work with them now and then over the last couple years. I'm excited for their new pastor, and I'm excited for them! It will be a great, beautiful thing for these families of faith to have the consistent presence of a pastor in their midst.

For the last month or so I've been using PicMonkey to create photo collages with some of my old images. I post them on Instagram, and I think I'll share them here, too. It's a small creative outlet and an enjoyable way to revisit my photography over the last decade. I've also been experimenting with incorporating public domain images into the backgrounds, too. This one is a combo of a sunset photo I took a few years back during a trip to Florida, a beach walking shadow pic of Mom and I, and a public domain image of a flower drawing from the 18th century!


Core Desired Feelings

Hey there! It's a snowy Thursday night here in Rochester. I hope that you are cozy whenever and wherever you're reading this!

A few months back I believe I shared with you about "The Desire Map" by Danielle LaPorte. It's a great book/workbook resource. The author invites a person to get real and in-touch with the actual feelings they are most interested in feeling. Instead of big lists of random goals based on who knows what, LaPorte instead encourages her audience to focus on what they, as individuals, most want to feel...and then build their life plans and aspirations around achieving those feelings.

She calls them "Core Desired Feelings."

Back in December, I zeroed closely into the words "free" and "curious." I had two other words in addition which I liked a lot at the time but no longer feel quite right. I've been listening to her audio series called "Fire Starters," and there are some prompts that led me to my current core desired feelings. LaPorte says that you are free to change them when you want to change them. I think she said she reevaluates hers once a year. But there are really no rules. You can choose the words that are right for you when you want to do so.

My current core desired feelings are: free, curious, courage, and purpose. These are the emotions I want to feel coursing through my veins every day!

How about you? What are your core desired feelings? LaPorte recommends focusing on 3-5 of them. 


Regular Blogging

Good morning! As I revisit the habit of regular blogging (to discern whether I want to cultivate it), I'm going to go back to the original style of this blog. Updates on life. Thoughts on random topics. Photography. Poetry. It used to bring me a lot of joy to curate and maintain this space; I'm not sure if it still will. But I'm thinking I'd like to give it a try. Thanks for joining me!

Last night was my monthly book group. We discussed the book "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry." We laughed a lot last night which felt great! The book is a good one and one that ended up leading to meaningful and far-reaching conversation.

Another update: Justin and I recently went to see Black Panther! Have you seen it? We both really liked the film on a lot of levels. The storyline is powerful. Meaningful contemporary topics are explored. It is visually gorgeous. I'm generally not a *huge* fan of superhero movies, but my affinity for them has been on the rise in recent years! Black Panther is a great movie to see in the theater! There were several points in the film when I got really misty-eyed just thinking about how impactful and important and beautiful it was to see so many African American actors on the screen in roles in which they have agency and power. 

And a little clip from the weekend's New York Times below. It's a brief article and explores the topic of forgiveness. The underlines are just a couple parts I found particularly meaningful. I've heard a lot of different definitions of forgiveness over the years. I like the idea that forgiveness is abandoning the anger.


Forgiveness Vespers

On "Forgiveness Vespers" at the Greek Orthodox Church

Silently, we stand
In awe
Of all 
Sacred Smells
Divine Presence
Of something
All these somethings
I missed
Until now
Unti here
In this place
You overflow
And I remember
You are everywhere
In these faces
We are entwined
Through You
In You
With You
"Forgive me" 
We ask
Each other
You respond


Ash Wednesday Sermon

Storm Clouds by Arthur Dove - Source

Sermon outline from last night. 

Today is Ash Wednesday. On this sacred day, we have the opportunity to come together in community and GET REAL. Really real. I find this day to be one of the most real, vulnerable, transparent days of the church year.

Today – we get real about our lives. We get real about our brokenness and shortcomings. We even admit our inevitable deaths. We also get real about our potential and our worth.

During today’s liturgy,
We confess.
We are marked with a cross.
We eat together at the Lord’s table.

One of the gifts of our tradition is that there is a liturgy…an order that we can follow. An order that has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years to invite us into a deeper experience of community and of the holy. Today’s liturgy does that in a really powerful way. My friend Maggie was a pastor. She died unexpectedly a few months ago. She said that the liturgy speaks for us when we don’t have words…and I’ve come to really love that about the order of our worship - the way it makes space for us to connect to God, to one another, and to all the saints who have traveled this road before us.

On Ash Wednesday, we don’t need to come up with a lot of our own words. The prayers we will speak…and the motions we will move through…it’s all part of this day and it has been for a long time.

All of it has been used by people for hundreds of years in the meaning-making process. There’s a holy comfort in that. Honoring Ash Wednesday first began around the year about 900 years ago in 1100 AD.

The words we will hear as the ashes are placed on our head are old words; old, wise words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” They come from the 3rd chapter of Genesis. God is speaking to Adam and Eve at the time.

Those words are a timeless reminder of the inevitability of death. Today, we get to admit it together. It’s not gruesome or strange. It’s beautiful and brave.

As author Christine Vaulters Painter reflected earlier this week, “In remembering that we will die, we are called to remember God who is the source of our life.”

The ashes, too, connect us back through history…back through the struggle and joys of what it means to be human: The practice of incorporating ashes comes from the Old Testament books of Job and Daniel where the use of ashes represents sorrow, grief, and repentance.

Through this doorway of Ash Wednesday, we enter the season of Lent. 40 days (plus Sundays) of time in which we make intentional space for God.

Let me say clearly: there are no rules for what Lent has to look like or feel like. For some, it looks like fasting or giving something up. For others, they add a new spiritual practice like prayer, meditation, or journaling.

The idea is to make space. To listen. To talk to God. To connect with the divine. As a family of faith, your Lenten journey takes on special significance this year. Together, you are collectively discerning what it means to be a congregation at this unique and important juncture in your journey.

You are discerning who you are and who you want to be. You are seeking the Spirit’s guidance. Go deep during this time. Be brave. Open your hearts. Get real with yourselves about what has worked and what hasn’t worked. Where you’ve triumphed and where you’ve messed up. Where you've been generous and where your ego has gotten into the way.

We bring it all to the alter today…and then Jesus invites us to the table. JUST AS WE ARE. Fully loved. Fully valued.

Today is the transition into Lent which is a season of Repentance: The Greek word for repent is metanoia which means ‘to reconsider’ – and ‘to turn around.’

We pray during this season that the Spirit of God works within us all to empower us to turn around and reconsider in whatever ways are most healing and peace-building. These 40 days are a gift. An opportunity for holy transformation. To connect to our creator and also to recognize our own potential to bring light and grace into the world.

With that, I’ll close with a blessing from Jan Richardson…it highlights the glorious mystery of what God does with dust. (Here's the link to "Blessing the Dust".)


Ash Wednesday Art

Today is Ash Wednesday. Today we transition into the season of Lent which will lead us all the way to Holy Week and Easter in late March.

The Gospel text for today is Matthew 6. Here's the link.

Here's a collection of images from the public domain section of The Met. May they me a visual meditation as you discern how best to honor the season of Lent on your personal spiritual journey.

Two Monks in Contemplation in a ForestArtist: Carl Baron von Vittinghoff (German, Pressburg 1772–1826 Vienna)

Two Men Contemplating the MoonArtist:Caspar David Friedrich (German, Greifswald 1774–1840 Dresden)

Artist: Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815–1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)

The Flowering OrchardArtist: Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Zundert 1853–1890 Auvers-sur-Oise)

"Mother and Child by the Sea"Artist: Johan Christian Dahl (Norwegian, Bergen 1788–1857 Dresden)


Holy Everything Reads: The Four Tendencies

“We may think we know the “best” way, or the way others “should” work, but whether at home or at work, as long as the tasks are getting done, we should let other people suit themselves. We get along best with others when we recognize and respect that they might approach the world in a different way.” 

-from “The Four Tendencies” by Gretchen Rubin

Book #7 of Holy Everything Reads: "The Four Tendencies" by Gretchen Rubin. It's a non-fiction book written by the same author as "The Happiness Project." I liked that book. And I liked this book even more. There's so much about "The Four Tendencies" that can be immediately incorporated into daily life and relationships. That's what I appreciated about it most. 

While I don't "love" personality assessments of any kind (like StrengthsFinder, MyersBriggs, Enneagram), I did appreciate this book a lot! 

(Side note - the reason I no longer give all that much cred to personality is because I listened to this podcast a couple summers back.) 

The good thing about "The Four Tendencies": at the core, the author is not about personality or making conjectures about personality types. 

Instead, it's a book about expectations. It's based on the theory that all human beings respond to inner & outer expectations in one of four ways. This are no correlations between personalities and tendencies; any personality type can be any of the four tendencies. 

The tendencies are: Upholder, Questioner, Rebel, and Obliger. 

If you'd like a sense of your own tendency, you might like to take this quiz. 

I'm sharing some of my favorite passages from the book this week on Instagram; feel free to follow along! (the passages are paired with photos from florida) 

My favorite takeaways from this book were the inspiration it gave me to interact with my loved ones, coworkers, and friends in more intentional ways! At the end of each section there are tips for how to interact with that tendency type....whether as a spouse, coworker, friend, child, or medical patient. 

The other significant I'm taking away from this book relates to my work as a communications professional. What I realized in reading the book is that I generally tend to communicate as if I'm trying to relate to people who experience expectations in the same way as me. Now I feel more equipped to communicate in a variety of ways...in the hopes of persuading/motivating all folks based on their own individual perception of inner and outer expectations. 

If you read the book, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 


Spiritual Practices: Spiritual Direction

The Lenten series continues this week. 

The focus: spiritual direction and an interview with Sister Linda Wieser. 


Fahrenheit 451

Good morning to you! 

My biggest goal for 2018 is to read 52 books! I thought I'd check-in and update you on my progress. This is one of the most life-giving goals I've had in a long while. I forgot how much pleasure I derive from books! Such an infusion of goodness for my ol' brain. 

If you're on Instagram, you can follow the hashtag #holyeverythingreads for the updates along the way. I'm also using Instagram as a place to share favorite passages from books put alongside photography from over the last 10 years. 

I'd love to hear book recommendations from you, too. Are you on Goodreads? Let's connect. 

2018 reading list to date: 
Becoming Wise by Krista Tippett
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Just a Journlist by Linda Greenhouse
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


Myakka State Park

Myakka River State Park is one of Florida's oldest parks! We visited in late January, and it was quite fantastic! A highlight of our time at the park was an airboat cruise. The airboat, Myakka Maiden, is the largest passenger covered airboat in the world!

I didn't take many photos on the cruise because I was on.the.edge.of.my.seat the entire time! There were gators all over the place. Below is an audio clip I captured of the introductory words of Jamie, the boat's captain. He did a phenomenal job throughout the 90 minute cruise of giving us background information and a host of facts about alligators and the local ecosystem!