Friday, December 14, 2012

and now we wait some more...


After another follow up appointment at the doctor's office I will not be running for another month (at least).  The good news is that the last two months of rest have shown signs of healing in my tendon.  Now I just have to continue to be patient...easier said than done.  

I am thankful that I am able to swim a few days a week to clear my head, heart and take time to breathe.  I told the doc that was what I missed most about this break from exercise.  Firstly the opportunity to eat like I'm training for a 1/2 marathon...but secondly, I miss that me time to breathe, to clear my head, to pray...and to feel as if I've accomplished something.  I'm sure the natural endorphins (if that's what they're called) are just gravy.  

What I loved about my swim this morning was seeing the community that happens at the pool.  I have done laps at different times of the day depending on the day and the schedule.  But I still see groups having their daily check-ins and friendly conversation.  One woman waved and said hello to me because we shared a lane last week.  The gentleman who took my lane as I left was convinced I was too young to be a pastor.  I thanked the 82 year-old man and headed out on my way.  

I can't imagine how many people are members of the pool, let alone the rest of the fitness facility.  But to see the intimate relationships that are forming in small groups is that reminder that that *is* what people are still seeking: close, face to face relationships.  I love that the opportunities for these small groups are all around, but I love that we can build these within the context of the Body of Christ...especially at Trinity.  

Trinity is a large congregation, but the small groups that crop up through different activities, ministries and opportunities continue to help us make connections to one another and make the Body of Christ visible in our communities.  

May you be refreshed by the small groups that nurture and support you.

+paz

Friday, December 7, 2012

Just breathe....

Okay, so Advent is here.
My favorite season and I'm afraid I may miss it. For some reason I'm really struggling with the busyness and just looking for time to breathe.
I have to say part of that may still be because I'm not running. While I am taking time to swim for exercise there is something missing from my mornings around the community. It's time for me to breathe, to pray and to clear my head.
I feel like I keep coming back to this lack of running thing over and over and over again. Somedays I'm feeling okay about waiting and healing, but other days it's a struggle. It makes me worry that I have put too much time into it that is creating such a significant void. But maybe it's because I can't do any weight bearing exercise that I'm really noticing it. In the past I've been able to cross train through injuries...but this one is just rest.
Lesson is not yet learned....but I hope I'm getting there.
I'm taking time to breathe and pray each day....and to focus on others.

Blessings to each of you as we journey to the manger together.

+peace

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Favorite time of the year...

Happy New Year!  I love Advent.

I love a season that draws us into the now and not yet of God's presence in the world.
Here we are awaiting the celebration of the birth of the Christ child, yet we are called to stay awake and alert and see Emmanuel (God with us) here and now.  I love, too, in the preparation, the time to get the house ready.....the cleaning and the decorating...adding colors and images to highlight the season.

There are stars all over the house, but the ones receiving the most focus are those in a bowl in the middle of my Advent wreath  I painted, cut and labeled them yesterday.


This is the time of year when I reconnect with daily prayer...beginning the day with matins, praying at noon, in the evening hour and closing the day with compline.

Here's to a season that calls us to just slow down: to breathe, to pray, to sit, to see God at work in the midst of the busy world we find ourselves hustling and bustling around in.

May you find that time to do whatever allows you to see more clearly God at work in the world around you.

Until next time . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2012

two very different tables.

An early start to the day getting blood work done first thing meant plenty of time for breakfast.



Hard boiled egg, 1/2 a grapefruit and a lemon greek yogurt.  Yum.  It was recommended that I not have breakfast at all since lunch was going to be a huge treat, but I figured starting off with something in my belly would be a good thing.  Also, it was quite nice to just sit and enjoy my breakfast.  I do like breakfast at the island in the kitchen, but it was even nicer at the dining room table with some extra time to enjoy it.

The staff headed to Hershey today with two busloads of folks to visit Chocolate World and enjoy an incredible spread at Hotel Hershey.  Lunch was super delish!  From salad to pasta, beef, duck and tasty veggies.  The food was a wonderful treat.  Unfortunately my eyes were too big for my tummy.

This was my dessert plate:


I could not finish it.  It was all delicious, but I could only put a dent in these tasty treats.

So here's the thing....I only had two meals today.  One was alone eating a simple meal.  The other was around a table with great co-workers and enough food around all of us to feed hundreds of people. Both left me thankful.

Thankful for a roof over my head and the opportunity to purchase and prepare food the way I want.  The many options I have when I open my fridge and pantry is a true blessing.  I'm also thankful for the times that I am able to enjoy a special meal with co-workers and friends.  I'm blessed to live in a place with abundance and choice.  I pray for those who do not have the opportunities I was given today.  I pray that my eyes are continually opened to see the ways I can share the abundance and choices that surround me in a way that enables me to share with others.  I'm thankful I'm not going to bed hungry, but am taking a moment to remember those who are.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

smiles & tears

No pictures for today, but two beautiful moments.

I saw a smile the exuded pure joy. In a split second I saw such happiness in a person it was wonderful. It brought joy to my day.

Later in the afternoon I was visiting with a person who began to tear up when talking about family. This person was so moved by the joy seen in kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.

We are so blessed that we are able to just let our emotions flow.

I'm thankful for people who let their smiles and tears share their feelings. I'm thankful, too for being present for those moments this day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

snow and crescent rolls....mmm....

It was beautiful this morning....the snow was falling and I had the morning to myself, so I enjoyed some coffee and then headed out to run some errands.  The roads were clear enough to be out and about and the store wasn't busy at all!  (win. win.)


I headed into the office and based on the weather, we decided that we would postpone this evening's meetings...by noon-ish, the snow was still falling, even though the forecasters said it would stop and we weren't sure how the temps would fall into the evening.  We'd rather people stay safe rather than attempt a trip in on roads that could have been slick or icy.  

I enjoyed salad and soup for dinner with a side of my Thanksgiving favorites: crescent rolls!


The soup was the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers.  Yum.  

I'm thankful for the beautiful snow!  I'm thankful for tasty eats....like crescent rolls.  (I know, silly, but tasty.)  I'm also thankful for the gift of a free evening.  I was looking forward to meeting a bunch of folks interested in becoming members of Trinity, but also a quiet evening is a blessing....especially when it's unexpected.  It also gave me a chance to google some recipes for a cookie party I'm heading to on Saturday.  The cookies will contain bacon.  Definitely.  

Until tomorrow. . . 

Monday, November 26, 2012

just keep swimming.

So, I swam a great mile today.  I think what fueled me is that I was frustrated that people (definitely older than me) were doing laps faster than I was.  I got grumbly....I wanted to say....um, I'm a runner so don't expect me to go too fast.....then I got grumbly that I was swimming because I couldn't run.  So during one of my breaks, I reminded myself that at least I can swim right now.  I'm thankful that I'm not  completely restricted from exercise.  (even as I type that I wish I could run)  So, all in all a solid workout and I should just stop right now, before I enter Negativeville.


There's my suit and my monopoly towel...drying for the next workout.  If you look carefully, you may also see a cat tail.

Thanks for reading...

Playing catch up.

The past three days have been a bit of a whirlwind!

Friday I had the chance to hit the pool and took a shot at deep water aqua jogging.  I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere....but it at least gave me the feeling of running again.  (boy, do I miss running)  I also snacked and caffeinated like a champ for the lock-in that night at Laser Quest.
This is just a small sampling of all the drinks we went through that night...in addition to a table full of orange snacks: Cheetos, Doritos, goldfish and BBQ chips.  I'm truly thankful for a fun night with the youth and even more thankful to the adults to stayed up all night to give them a safe space to play.  Volunteers are amazing!  (Thanks, too, to all the parents who transported us safely to Laser Quest and picked up their youth promptly at 7am. You are awesome!!!)



Saturday, there was some serious sleeping to start the day, which was followed by family Thanksgiving.  From the family, to all the food we ate, the stories we shared and the laughter.   It was a a wonderful gathering....I have the leftovers to prove it.  I enjoyed some quality time with my beautiful niece, Eva....and my 4 legged nieces and nephews (Gigi and Geno)  :)
Of all the wonderful pictures, this was the highlight of my day.  All the 'kids' gathered together for a picture.  I'm so thankful for my family of future in-laws who have welcomed me in with open arms.  Thanks!  <3 nbsp="nbsp" p="p" you="you">



And yesterday was a relaxing afternoon...it started with brunch with french toast, homemade strawberry topping and whipped cream and a side of bacon!


Which was followed by a trip to Hershey to the ride the rides and look at the lights at Candy Lane!


In the midst of busy lives, Billy and I are truly thankful for the ability and the flexibility to just go and have fun.  We love that we are able to spend time with friends and family, but still have time for just us....to date!  :)  We loved the evening and some tasty grub at Troegs at the end.

A busy 3 days, but they were filled with amazing moments.  Thanks to all who were a part of them!  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

home.

So leading up to today, I thought I knew what this blog post would be all about.  As I was preparing for Thanksgiving Day, I knew today I would be thankful for old traditions and new memories.
I must have been pretty excited for today, I woke up before 7am....before the alarm went off and I was ready to roll, cinnamon roll, that is.

I got up, started the keurig and got the record player spinning with this:



There's something about that old familiar tune...that while you can listen to it other times of the year, it's a Thanksgiving tradition for me.
The cinnamon rolls were hanging out in the kitchen and the oven was preheating while I got firewood in for the fire and made final preparations for the Macy's Parade.  The kitchen smelled great & the rolls looked like this when they came out of the oven.



I quite enjoyed the ones stuffed with apples, craisins and walnuts!  I made it through one and my second cup of coffee before the troops arrived.  

Hello Kitty, ducks, animal (from the muppets), cats and pink snakeskin were the pajamas that were sported as we ate cinnamon rolls and sipped coffee, chocolate milk and orange juice.  We created our own Parade Bingo cards for the parade watching.  



I put Matthew in the 'free space' because we had just seen him in a musical number.  The "Bad Musical Number" space went to the piece from Bring it on: The Musical.  "Like Big Bird has his Snuffy...." Yeah....I'll pass on that one.

At the end of the parade most of us had just about filled our cards....and sang along with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots.  And during the commercials, Marley had some playtime, too.  (Thanks Jax & Anna!)


After the parade, it was time to get out of the jammies, cook up some brussels sprouts and head on over to the Kennedy's for dinner.  Who doesn't like apple pi pie?



We ate well, we laughed often and shared silly stories and just enjoyed time around the table and time in the living room.  The evening was topped off with some laughs and tears during Elf.  (I always cry as soon as James Caan starts singing....every time.)

And so, as I got into my truck to head home....I thought, yes, I am thankful today for old traditions and new ones!  I could get used to the cinnamon rolls and jammies while watching the parade every Thanksgiving.  Many folks asked if I was going home for Thanksgiving....I know people think of the place where you grew up as home, but as people asked me about it this time I thought, I am home.  This is my home.  This is where I want to be celebrating holidays and these are the people that I thank God for surrounding me with this day and all days.  I love my family back in New England.....and they will always be my fam....and my home in Connecticut will be my home sweet (childhood) home.  But this is my home now.  It's where I feel called to live, to work and to love.  It's home and for that I am truly thankful.

Thank you all who are a part of my life (both near and far) thanks for being in my life.  Blessings to you all.  May you each see the abundant blessings in you life and enjoy the presence of family and community in the days and years to come.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

new recipes

Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to try new recipes.  Part of this came from a facebook post asking for simple cinnamon rolls....and when I said I'd try a recipe, some neighbors asked if there would be samples....so, I'm also thankful for an impromptu breakfast gathering tomorrow morning during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Here is the first batch of cinnamon rolls....kicked up a notch with apples, walnuts and craisins.


I may have overstuffed them....the second batch with just cinnamon and brown sugar rolled much easier...but I'm excited to try the stuffed rolls.


If you're in the area between 9am and noon, swing by for some rolls, coffee, chocolate milk and parade viewing.  If you're up and dressed, your welcome....if you're up and in jammies, you'll totally fit right in!


My Thanksgiving holiday is off to a great start with treats ready in the kitchen and the Thanksgiving episode of Buffy already viewed!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve....blessings to all as final preparations happen for meals around many tables tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

(not pictured)

I'm debating what I'm thankful for today....at first it was going to be getting lost....or should I say losing my truck.  When I arrived at the store I was on the phone, so I parked and went into the store....I guess I didn't really think about where I parked.  After the grocery store, I headed to another shop and then I couldn't find my truck.  I walked through a few lines of cars, and thought...it must be here somewhere.  I started giggling....then I passed someone and said, I guess I shouldn't have been on the phone when I parked.  This fellow didn't find it funny at all.  I felt silly passing people more than once as the bags in my hand got heavier and heavier.

(not pictured - cars in the parking lot....with mine in the mix)

I just ended up laughing out loud.

I'm thankful that I was able to laugh today....at myself.

Monday, November 19, 2012

old school...i guess

So I was listening to WWOZ this evening during dinner. The song that caught my attention didn't catch it with a drum beat or a sax or trumpet riff, it was the crackle.  It was the sound that could only come from a needle on vinyl.  So when I got home from the Stewardship meeting tonight, I pulled out a Judy Small album.



I love that crackle.  
I love that as I was growing up we listened to vinyl.  I have to chuckle now when my dad pulls up tunes on the apple tv...oh how far we've come.  But seriously music has been such an influential part of my life.  It is the thing that can help me connect with how I'm feeling, it can spark a living room dance party or bring back a fond memory.  I know I've blogged about music before, I'm thankful today for music in all sorts of forms....vinyl, cassette, digital....even a compact disc.  It's great to record....to listen...to share...


Sunday, November 18, 2012

First thing this morning . . .

At the end of a long day, I'm so thankful for a simple beginning.  Last week when I rediscovered rooms in my house I thought that the room off of the porch upstairs would become the spot or my morning devotions.  While that is a wonderful area, it has become my trumpet practice room.  Because the reality is that I don't make it back upstairs to that room with a full cup of coffee.  It may be a better room for practicing and reading in the afternoon rather than an early morning reading spot.

Now that the island in the kitchen is super clear, it's a perfect spot to start the day.


I enjoyed a cup of coffee with my morning devotions before the full Sunday began.

Back in the race training days, I could get up early and I would get up early to get a run or a ride in before the day began.  I'm learning that I can still get up early and use that time for other things.  From devotions, to laundry (yes actually being productive first thing) to reading for pleasure... I have done all these things in the past week....I wonder what this week will bring, but let me just day that I anticipate homemade cinnamon rolls at some point....because I think they will be a perfect treat during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  :)

I'm thankful today for a chance to sit and pray before going, going and going.....I'm also thankful for a relaxing dinner after such a busy day.  This day was bookended well.

Yesterday's eats

I enjoyed at tasty Moroccan chicken with butternut squash for dinner last night and the scent of cinnamon and cumin is still lingering in the kitchen.

I'm thankful for a warm house, hot food and a solid night's sleep last night.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy feet

In the recovery stages on Achilles Tendonitis finding comfy shoes is sometimes a challenge.
I'm thankful for the ability and finances to shop. And the bonus to finding fun and functional shoes.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

live music ;)

The last few times I've played trumpet at church my chops have been in poor shape.  We're playing again for Christ the King Sunday, so I've made more of an attempt to practice in preparation for the rehearsal this Sunday and playing the following Sunday.  I dug out an old book of etudes and I've actually been practicing more than just the hymns.




I may get some decent tone back if I keep this up.  My goal is to hit the high A in the descant for Jesus Christ is Risen Today by the time Easter is here.  I'll let you know if that works out.  

I'm thankful for the gift of music.  For the ability to play the trumpet, sing in the choir and learn more and more each week at bell choir.....I'm blessed to sing and share music with others and thankful for being raised in a musical family.  

I wonder how much I remember of the piano lessons....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Date night

It began with a pick up at the repair shop as I was dropping off my truck. (The seat warmer was on when I got in). We went to the grocery store in search of some dinner and while we were getting some taco toppings we spotted some frozen pizzas and changed the menu.

We enjoyed store brand frozen pizza & a Tröegs Golden Monkey while listening to music from the Treme soundtrack.

We scoured the Internet for bars and hotels for our honeymoon and watched Sunday's episode of Treme. A completely relaxing evening.

I think even Marley enjoyed it, although she slept through most of Treme.

I'm thankful for out of the ordinary work schedules so we have time to spend together during the week.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

warmth, new beginnings and patience.

We had a small gathering at my place tonight around the fireplace....


We had the chance to get to know each other a bit better...and think about some fun upcoming activities for the future.  One of the things I'm thankful in the midst of a large congregation is the time in small groups....to chat, to laugh, to watch the cat, to share stories and experiences....and just build relationships.  Here's to more fun gatherings in the future.

Oh, and Marley, who was pretty much the star of the show, is now curled up on my lap.  I guess the gathering wore her out.  :)

In other news....I feel somewhat like Punxsutawney Phil....as the doc checked out my tendon today, he said at least 4 more weeks of rest.  (sigh)  I guess that original research I did online about Achilles Tendonitis was pretty accurate when it said it could take up to 3 months for a full recovery.  That seemed like such a long time to me....yet one month in....there is light at the end of the tunnel....even though I'm only 1/3 of the way into the tunnel....there's got to be light at the other end, right?  I am heading to the gym on Friday to pick up a swim pass.  I've been fairly sedentary the past month...and I'm ready to get back into something....and swimming twice a week is something I just need to start doing.

My lesson on patience and waiting and healing will continue....it would be an excellent focus for an advent/lenten devotional.  Hmmmmm.....

Monday, November 12, 2012

clean rooms & spare rooms.

I'm thankful that there is a small group gathering at my house tomorrow night because it has forced cleaning all over the house!  I love the deep peace that I get when I walk into clean rooms.



Is there still touch up that's needed?  You bet.  Will it remain this super clean for long?  That remains to be seen.  But I think I re-discovered my morning devotion spot.  (Not pictured: cup of coffee.)
The other half of this room is just waiting for the quilt frame to go back up.

In other news, I'm also thankful for spare rooms....that have doors I can shut.

Both the bed....

And the floor...

in this room....have become the catch all for things that still need to be sorted.  Luckily there is a tv here with both cable and netflix....so stay tuned for an upcoming post when I'm thankful for rainy days and a chance to sort through this mess!  But until then, I'll enjoy the newly rediscovered clutter free rooms.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

photo of the day


So this morning's Sunday School class was about the Bible.  I'm using the Animate course from Augsburg Fortress.  Today we talked about why we read and re-read the Bible.  We had fun inscribing hard boiled eggs with familiar scripture passages.  I'm sure there will be some good lunch conversations this week.  All this talk about reading...and the fact that this week I started a book.  The short time I had on the porch today was a wonderful respite.


I'm thankful to have my love for reading rekindled this week.  I'm also thankful for the reminder (in combination with the sabbath-ish day) that I need to make time in my days for the things I love to do.  It's funny, I can get up early to run...so why not make some time in the morning with a cup of coffee and a book?  We'll see how that pans out tomorrow.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

unplugged....sort of.

So what I'm really thankful for today is public radio.  But I wasn't really sure how to get a picture of that.....but my day started off with jazz from WWOZ in New Orleans, followed by Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and then live broadcasting from the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival.  Good times listening to many brass bands as I cleaned house, danced a bit and prepared my dinner.

I tried some new eats tonight.

Butternut Squash Gratin  (her photos are beautiful...mine are from the iPhone)

Here's the squash, ready to be layered...


And the tasty onion, garlic and celery...to go between the squash and the cheese....oh the cheese.


I tweaked the original recipe because I couldn't find fontina at my two closest grocery stores, so I went with a blend of Parmesan and provolone.  (not a bad flavor combo.)

After you pull the celery and onions from the heat, you add thyme, which was fresh from my garden.

Which inspired the rest of my dinner, although that gratin could stand alone.

I thawed some chicken breasts and marinated them in evoo, lemon juice, thyme and s&p.


As I was putting it all together, I realized I should have some greens, so I sauteed up some spinach with balsamic to put under the chicken.  

Here's the final product....The gratin was on the runny side, but that did not impact the sharp bite of the cheese and the sweet taste to the squash.  I'll definitely make it again.  Perhaps a little lower fat (minus the butter and half & half....and maybe some bread crumbs on the top?  This could be the go-to side dish for any holiday dinners I attend.  


When I came home from church, I popped the gratin in the oven and enjoyed Prairie (not prayerie) Home Companion and thoroughly enjoyed both Peter Sagal's appearance and the interview with Martin Luther at the end.  Happy Birthday, Marty.  

When I finish up the blog, I'll end my evening with a live concert from Mount Gretna (on NPR) and continue Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.  

I'm thankful for the opportunity to hear music from across the nation and across the state.  I love the stories, the news and the games on NPR.....I also love that it reminds me of growing up and listening to NPR as a kid.  (Sorry Carl Kasell, you have always sounded like an old man to me. Please accept my apologies.)  

I am also thankful today for a clean kitchen and the time and space to cook and eat tasty food.  :)


Friday, November 9, 2012

sabbath-ish


A Sabbath thought for this day: "I want to convince you, in part, that setting apart an entire day, one out of seven, for feasting and resting and worship and play is a gift and not a burden and neglecting the gift too long will make your soul, like soil never left fallow, hard and dry and spent." Mark Buchanan

I had a sabbath-ish day....yes I did get some things done around the house, but it was de-cluttering which helps me to breathe much easier each time I see the clear space.  I slept in (no alarm!) and moseyed into my day with not 2, but 3 cups of coffee!  



I do enjoy a slow start to the day and when I have a whole day with nothing on the agenda, it's nice to stay in the jammies as long as possible.  Since I'm still resting my tendon, I did take in several episodes of CSI as I folded laundry and planned out my menu for the week.  I do have to say that Marley is truly the master of sabbath in this house....


This was taken earlier today, after she played with some toys.  As I'm typing right now, it seems that she has found that same position today.  

I've taken some time to blog, to pray, to rest, to paint my nails, to catch up on Top Chef and I look forward to starting a new book this evening.

I agree with the quotation at the beginning of the post....sadly I'm not certain I am able to fit in a full day of Sabbath each week....but it is something I will work towards.  I have to say that throughout the day, I did look at a to-do list periodically thinking....woah, I have lots to get done in the next few days.  But not as the end of the day, I am thankful for a day of rest, rejuvenation, relaxation, feasting and play today.  I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep and a fresh start in the morning.

I hope that you all have the opportunity for a day of sabbath soon.

mmmm....beer.

Yesterday was National Stout Day.  I'm sure thankful for good beer, that is most certainly true.
So I guess this post could be all about the tasty brews that I've enjoyed....but there's more than that.  Here was the tasty treat from yesterday:


It was Southern Tier Imperial Oatmeal Stout ..... super delicious!
But I'm not just thankful for the beer....it is more so the person with whom I shared it, my fiance.

(Warning....this post has some sap potential.)

No, seriously, I am so thankful to have found someone who totally gets me. Who is patient and understanding when I'm grumpy or hungry or tired.  Someone who empties the dishwasher, just because.  Someone who is making sure I'm taking care of my Achilles tendonitis, even though sitting still is such a challenge for me.  He makes me laugh.  We can talk open and honestly about life, love and laugh about how often my dad tweets.   He enjoys spending time with my family...and loves to eat, brew, take pictures, hunt, relax with friends and smoke delicious meats :)
I continue to thank God for the wonderful matching job done through eHarmony.  We can truly be ourselves with one another and that feels great!  I continue to pray that I am as kind and generous and loving to him as he is to me.  Here's to many more years together, Billy.  You are amazing and I love you so much!



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yesterday.

Within the context of contemporary worship last night, we remembered All Saints Day. As we remembered those who had gone before us, and ourselves we created a paper chain. Each person had a loop with his or her name on it and at the end we extended the chain with the names of those who had been baptized the past year. We talked about how we are apart of that chain and how we are connected to the past and the future.

Here is the completed....well, not quite, chain.  You see, we left it open on each end....to be ready for the future saints who will be joining us. 

Below is the homily that was the setting for the chain construction.
 
 
Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 24
Revelation 21:1-6a
John 11:32-44

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 

Every October, Bloomington, Indiana is home to the Hilly Hundred.  It is a two day bike ride in and around Bloomington, for about 5000 riders, that, you guessed it, is very hilly.  Because it’s a ride and not a race, there is a staggered start each morning which allows the riders to get moving at their own pace.  Each day there are 3 rest stops with live music, doughnuts, fried chicken (at the lunch stop) and all sorts of other carbo-loading treats.  This was the second ride I had participated in, and the first one that took place on roads that would have some of their regular traffic. 

What really caught my attention the first day, aside from all those hills, was the communication between the riders.  As we rode single file, if folks came up from behind they would let you know that they were on your left….so you knew someone was around you.  Folks would point out gravel patches, bumps or other road obstructions to those who were behind them. 

And when the cars, trucks or combines came by the folks up front would yell, “Car up!”  so you knew a vehicle was coming at you, and the folks from behind would yell, “Car back!” so you knew that a vehicle was coming from behind. 

This constant communication was for the safety of not the individual riders, but for the good of the entire group.  Any rider who shouted out one of these things was thinking about those who were going before them or those who were coming behind them.  It was an exercise (no pun intended) that showed concern for others, beyond themselves.  It was the awareness of being part of a community, it was the awareness that there are those who go before us to guide the way, and that there are those who will follow us for whom we can show the path. 
 
What I love about All Saints Day…is that we are reminded about the connection to those who have gone before us….and who we are – as individuals and as a church because of those who have touched our lives and the lives of those around us.  But what I also love about All Saints Day is that we are a part of a larger group, and there are those who will follow us, as well. 
 
We hear in the story of Lazarus, the all too familiar response to the death of a loved one….oh, Jesus if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  In the midst of things that we cannot comprehend, we are drawn to ask questions of why?  How come?  When something tragic happens in our lives we are often drawn in upon ourselves….we have aches, pains and sorrows that need comforting.  We sometimes struggle to see God within the midst of our sorrow and grief. 
 
But here’s the thing…it’s not just the saints who have gone before us that we are called to remember this day….it’s also the saints among us…and the ones who will come after us.  You see, that’s what makes the church the church. 

We are surrounded, yes, by a great cloud of witnesses – who have gone before us, but also surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses…here and now….and that crowd and cloud will grow as time passes. 
 
I’d like us to see that connection this day. 

I’d like to create a chain of saints, if you will, so we can see the connection between those who have gone before us, those who are here now and those who will follow us….

You will receive 2 strips of paper. 

On one, write your own name.

On the other write the name of a saint who have mentored you, who has taught you in life or in the faith, so someone who has helped prepare the path/family/congregation of which you are a part. 

Once you’ve done that, connect them together. 

Okay now that we each have at least 2 loops together I’d like us to start linking these loops with these strips that I have here.  Each strip contains the name of an individual who became a part of God’s family through baptism this past year.  These are the saints, too, who are a part of this great cloud of witnesses….who will continue on in the faith…and who will continue to do God’s work in this place, this community and around the world as they continue to grow. 

It is at this table, that we all gather.  Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, we come to this table for bread and wine, for forgiveness and grace, for the opportunity to gather with all the saints of every time and place. 

 Let us pray,

Gracious God, we thank you for the gift of all the saints that surround us, for those who have gone before us:  Art, Franks, Lorraine, Robert, Helen, Robert, Charlotte, Al, Mabel, Margaret. 
And for those who are coming after us: Claire Elizabeth, Anthony Thomas, Clayton Hunter, Caden Philip, Sarah-Anne, Chaun Fred, Grace, Hannah , Madison, Steven Nicholas, Michael Thomas, Cooper Samuel, Connor, Aiden Timothy, Allison Grace, Alexis Loren
Continue to bless all of your saints as we strive to do your work thorough our hands. 
And now may the peace which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.   
 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
I am truly thankful for the opportunity to try new things in worship that enable us to see God in our midst and how we are connected as the Body of Christ here and now.  I love that some of the names on the loops were mentioned later in the prayers  and how people of all ages were able to see the connection we all have. 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

a moment of silence


So I'm thinking that the picture says it all today. I'm thankful that I live in a country that gives the freedom to vote.  But truth be told, I'm struggling with the negative comments appearing across the social media...and I guess it's not just the social media.  It's been around us this whole campaign season.    Granted, I'd like my candidate to win the election, but not to the point that I'm slamming his opponent.
I truly hope that no matter what the outcome, we are able to come together post election day.  Because here's the thing folks, we're in this together and for me, until the parties really start working together it will just continue to be a battle....

Okay, those are my two cents....and now I will sign off...breathe, pray and call it a night.

Gracious God,
I'm so thankful to live in a country with so many freedoms.  As election day comes to a close, bring us a time of forgiveness and healing.  May space be taken to hear the voices of others and remember that we live in this community of the United States together.   Thanks for the gift of community and the reality of learning about what that means, especially in the murky times.   Blessings to all who lead around the world.  In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Today felt a little like Christmas...


Okay, I'm well aware that it's not Christmas....heck we haven't event made it to Advent, let alone Thanksgiving.  Yet in the social hall today, it felt like Christmas.  There were carols being played, and over 20 people wrapping shoe boxes that will be filled on Sunday for Operation Christmas Child.  These fine volunteers wrapped over 300 boxes.  One first timer said that she can't wait to do this next year....it was so much fun!

Here you can see some of the unfinished boxes:



Here are some of the wrappers hard at work...they wrapped and wrapped.  
They were fed and they continued wrapping.  



And of course...there was music.  



Just to see the folks gathered together this morning was great.  There are so many hearts and hands that will touch these boxes in the next week that it will be too many to count.  So many hands, sharing the generous donations from folks within our community for the sole reason that some child whom we do not know, will receive a present on Christmas.  Over 2 months until Christmas, but the preparations for children around the world are taking place.  

I am so thankful for all that I have been blessed with a home that did not struggle to provide for me.  More so, this day, I'm thankful for those who are blessed with time and talents to give gifts to those in need.  Thank you God for all the blessings you have given to all your children.  May we see the abundance and share it with others.  

a quick glimpse of yesterday.

So, it was trickier to pick up my race number yesterday than I thought it would be....I really wanted to run.  But...seeing these three primed and ready to go made me smile:


One of them crossed the finish line with a PR of 2:04 and the other two came in first and second in their age bracket.  A good day, I'd say.

Thanks God for safe travels, for the ability to cheer, yell and encourage many runners and for these three who rocked the All Women and One Lucky Guy Half Marathon yesterday!

PS. So after a very late night last night, the above is all that I had time for before heading in to work this  morning.  There were so many other pretty amazing moments yesterday that I had to revisit this post.
In the midst of the race adventures there were car problems.  Yet kind souls helped get my dad to an auto parts store and other kind folks helped him repair the car, and yet other kind souls helped transport stuff and wait with my dad until AAA arrived.  Too many amazing moments experienced through those unexpected (albeit frustrating) moments.

And so, there we were, a dozen of us waiting at the finish line....we our crowd got louder and louder as our two approached the finish line.  We cheered as they crossed the line - finishing first and second in their age bracket.  We smiled as they were awarded hats, gloves and chocolate for their age bracket accomplishments!

We were also at the finish line as the last woman crossed.  A few of us had cheered her on at the 10 mile mark...and here she came for the finish.  We cheered and clapped and she finished.

As my fiance got her significant other's email (to share photos) he said this was a tough race for her, but it was a new PR.  It just goes to show you, that each runner runs her own race.  I hesitated sharing this story about her because I don't know her and I definitely don't know her running story.  I don't know her history, her training, what drives her to run and train and what motivates her to keep taking one step after the other.  I do know this...that she completed a half marathon yesterday with a new record.  She set out to accomplish a task and she completed it.  I'm thankful that a group of us were there to cheer her across the finish line, but truth be told, as much as we could muster for her, she lifted each of us up.  She brought tears to our eyes when we learned that she set a personal record.

I thought about her a lot today....and prayed for days of rest and recovery....may she have many days of rest in the joy of a personal accomplishment.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Too many things?

So the day began with a cup of coffee and a bit of the Muppets Take Manhattan. A breakfast of German pancakes around the table with family was excellent.

Then my mom and I went to a local health food grocery...we walked the aisles....then sipped coffee and conversed for quite some time. It was a wonderful morning. It's times like this that I wish I lived closer to my parents. They are pretty excellent.

The afternoon and evening were good times with my sister & brother-in-law.

And there was the eating of pig knuckles at the German restaurant for dinner and many other tasty treats.

Oh and a stop at the craft store where we tried on some antlers, you know, because that's what you do.

Thanks God for more safe travels, time with family, good food, conversations and laughs.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Home sweet home.

So let me start by saying that I drove through some pretty storm hit area today. Many down trees and many lines at gas stations. There were some pretty hard hit areas from Hurricane Sandy and I'm thankful that the area I'm in fared fairly well.

I do have to say it was wonderful to take a break from driving and grab a bite to eat at The Clinton Station Diner.
http://www.clintonstationdiner.com/.
I've driven by it many times and have never stopped in. After missing the exit, we drove passed a gas station with a line of cars waiting for gas. It was the that we began to wonder if it was even open.
We walked up to the door at 1:20 and the handwritten sign that said opening Friday at 1:00.
As we walked in the first thing we were asked was, do you have power at home? Thankfully we were able to respond yes. If we did not have power, we would have been eligible for coffee and many lunch specials on the house. It was cool to see the local restaurant feeding so many people and giving to those who were still facing the hardships from the storm.

But gosh, it's great to be home.
These are some things I found in my bedroom.

A fun bag that used to hold blocks or games. And a dream catcher that I made one year at camp. And thinking about the dreams I've been having lately, the catcher may come in handy.

Today I'm thankful for people who are able to give out of what they have and the opportunity to come home and remember fond memories of growing up.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lunch with Logan


For those of you who have met her, you know that Logan is an amazing young woman.
She is constantly thinking about someone other than herself.  When she is in the middle of having fun, she names people who aren't there and says, you have to tell so and so (it's often Pastor Bill) about this. She always asks about someone who isn't there and checks in to see how people's significant others, children or parents are doing.  She says what she is thinking which often opens your eyes to see something in a new way or it brings a smile to your face.
She is truly a gift from God and we are blessed be in this family of faith with her.
We are just so thankful to know her and be in her life.

Today, she treated the female staff at Trinity to lunch.  It was her way to say thanks for all that we do.  We were humbled to share a meal, good conversation and grand laughter.  Some of us had tears in our eyes from laughing so hard.
During lunch I told Logan what I was blogging about this month and asked if I could get a picture of the both of us to use on my blog and she said yes.


I'm thankful that she is in my life.  
I'm thankful she lets God's light shine through all that she says and does.  

Gracious God,
Thank you for the many ways you have blessed me this day.  Thank you for the gift of Logan in my life, my church family and my community.  May we all see through her eyes and let God's light shine through all that we say and do.
In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Until tomorrow . . . 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

giving thanks....for the next 30 days.

So, tomorrow, November is upon us. I'm not really sure where September and October went, but here we are one the eve of November, surrounded by fall colors, scents and food. I'm ready for a month of all things pumpkin, apple and turkey.

Looking back on October I had some amazing moments and some not so amazing ones. On October 14, I ran the Baltimore 1/2 Marathon and got a new personal record. 1 hour, 59 minutes and 30 seconds. Just under 2 hours! I was ecstatic! The run felt great, the accomplishment felt great....I was truly thankful. Then as we explored the city of Baltimore, I realized the pain in my tendon....and was hobbling all over the place. I took the next week off from exercising. The following week I went for a couple of bike rides, and then saw the doctor. I was diagnosed with Achilles Tendinitis....and am not allowed any weight bearing exercise of any kind. The toughest part of hearing about this was the reality that I would not be able to run in the All Women and One Lucky Guy 1/2 Marathon this coming Sunday. (The one that my mom and two friends ended up registering for, as well.)

I tell you, I know it's not the end of the world, and I'm hoping that 3 weeks of rest will help heal the tendon without having to wear a boot....but only time will tell. In the meantime I'm learning how to sit. If you're a person on the go, like myself, this is a challenge. I have been praying daily for patience and healing. I've also been in a bit of a funk, sad that I had this great race 3 weeks ago and now I can't run at all. I get daily email reminders about upcoming races....I delete them hastily.  I also frown when Daily Mile sends me an email that my friends miss my training.... :( 
But enough of this pity party. 

In the midst of it all, I have been inspired by a few things. The first being the cover article for our November newsletter. It has inspired me to give thanks each day during the month of November. 
I have also been inspired after seeing a book that was made up up 365 photos....one taken each day of the year. That book was centered around seeing God at work in the world. My one photo a day will show things for which I am thankful.

In essence....my 'down time' on the sofa will give me the time to reflect on things in my life for which I am blessed. I'll share pictures of things for which I am thankful....and take some time to blog about the specifics....now would probably be a great time to generate my Christmas card list, and get that photo card created.....who knows, maybe I could even do a Christmas letter this year.....hmm.....

While I realize that not everyone loves to take pictures or likes to journal, I hope that my blog this month inspires you at some point to see the things in your life for which you are thankful and to share those with others.  Feel free to share ways or things for which you are thankful.

Thanks for reading....

+paz

Friday, September 21, 2012

feeling disappointed?


I had the opportunity to preach at Crossfire (our contemporary worship service) Wednesday evening.  

Here's the sermon....and then a few thoughts that I have had since....

16th Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 116:1-9
James 3:1-12
Mark 8:27-38

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 

There is just something about Peter, isn’t there?  It often seems to me that he is the disciple that I most often connect with.  Maybe it’s his humanity…or his ability in one moment to see Jesus clearly for who he is….the Messiah….and in the next moment, try to make that Messiah fit his mold. 

Because try as I might, I can see God at work in our world, I can show others where God is working, but in the same breath, I can wonder why God is doing what God is doing, or should I say, be disappointed in the way in which God is at work. 

It’s easy to have expectations of God, isn’t it?  Just like Peter did.  Yes we know of God’s all-embracing love and grace for the world, but we want it according to our specifications, our expectations, our needs.  Yes, just like Peter, we have a hard time coming to terms with the Jesus we want and the Jesus we need. 

You see, we can connect with Peter’s strong reaction to Jesus’ prediction of his fate: He simple cannot imagine that the Messiah will suffer, let alone be killed.  His shock is so great, that he can’t even hear the part about rising on the third day…all Peter can hear is the word….that the Messiah…the one who has come to save us….will be killed, so he protests and is rebuked. 

Who’s to say that we don’t feel that way, too?  When we voice our disappointments with God?  We think that it’s wrong to doubt God….and that we are wrong when we do doubt God.  Some of us may have even been taught that it is wrong to voice those disappointments or those frustrations. 

Peter’s reaction is a natural one.  When faced with the idea and hearing the words, that the Messiah would be put to death, he did not want to hear it.  He wanted it not to be true….and he tells Jesus this.

Would we, or could we have acted any differently?  To hear about the God of heaven and earth, who was sent to save Israel and the world by dying on a cross?  No way!  Can’t be true.  God wouldn’t do that. 

We don’t want a God, a Messiah, a savior who will rise from the dead.  We want one that doesn’t die in the first place.   

We still, as sinful human beings, crave and want a God to be alive and active in our lives that fits into our needs and definitions.  We still, to this day, struggle with understanding a God who comes to us in the weakest and murkiest of places….and one whose power is seen in dying on a cross. 

It is a struggle we face every day….especially when things aren’t going the way we think they should.  When we learn that a brother of Christ takes ill in Alaska and he and his wife are so far away from friends and family, it is okay to ask God why this is happening….when we experience breakdowns in families that sometimes end in broken homes….when we lose a job….when a career takes us far from those whom we love….when a child is harmed on the sports field….or any other number of disappointments.  When things don’t meet our expectations, there will be disappointment.  In life, with people around us….and with God.   And that’s okay. 

What I’d like us to do now is take a moment to wrestle, if you will, with those disappointments.  Take a slip of paper and write down a time when you’ve been disappointed with God….upset with God….maybe even let down by God. 

We will not be sharing these aloud…and there is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed….it’s okay to express your disappointment. 

So take a few minutes to think about that time and to jot it down…..

(If you're reading this online....I invite you to pause and think of a disappointment and write it down.)

As you think about that time, remember that God can hear and can take your disappointment.  And remember, too, that God has promised to meet you in those disappointments and stay with you until you and all of us….until we come out onto the other side of disappointment to resurrected faith. 

Some days we’re walking in the light and promise of the resurrection….and other days that promise seems beyond our grasp.  So until that day, when we all walk in that resurrection light, let me say this, that the pastoral staff here will be praying for you, supporting you….and giving thanks for you in our prayers. 

Because that’s who we are as the Body of Christ….we are community.  So often when disappointment sets in, we alienate ourselves….we remove ourselves from community and turn in on ourselves.  Yet it is through this community that God is at work.  It is in this community of faith that we are loved, encouraged, supported, held up, and not ever let go. 

So as we wrap up this time in our service….I invite you to fold up your paper, write your name on it and come forward, place it in the basket, and we will circle around the basket in prayer together.  

At the end of the service, if you wish to take your slip of paper home with you,  you may….if you wish you may leave them in the basket and the Vicar and myself will lift up your disappointments in our prayers this week.  Anything shared with us will remain confidential.   

Come, let’s pray. 

*****************************************************


That was the end of the sermon as we circled around the basket and we prayed about our disappointments and other concerns in our hearts that night.  

As worship continued, there were times of smiles and times of tears, times of joyous singing and times of silence.  The sanctuary was a holy place last night.  

I was reminded of that holiness this morning as I sat at my desk and opened my day in prayer as I opened the folded pieces of paper in the basket.  As I lift up those names in prayer this week, I pray for others in our community as well, for the struggles and disappointments that people are facing each day.  May each of us be reminded that it's okay to be disappointed and that God is in the midst of the disappointment all the time....

If you have disappointments you wish to share in a prayerful way, please leave me a message, email me at church, or leave a note in my office.  

Holding you in prayer....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

craving carbs....

I am so thankful that I had time in the kitchen today.  I love cooking....especially when it comes to new recipes with tasty local eats.

With all the running I've been doing lately, I'm trying to shift my eating....to proteins at lunch and carbs at dinner, to fuel up for running first thing in the morning.  So after sorting through a few Rachael Ray magazines I found a tasty one.

Here's the original recipe for Zucchini & Penne with Hot Pepper Pesto
I saw pasta with zucchini...and knew I had some pesto left in the fridge so I figured I was good to go.  I'm sure the homemade hot pepper pesto is tasty, but I went with what I had tonight.  I also diced up a chicken breast to add to the mix....for some extra protein.  And I used whole wheat penne.

Here's what Rachael says will feed 4:



I don't think I could finish it off if I was expecting triplets.  There will be leftovers for a while....perhaps I shouldn't have cooked the entire box of pasta....oh well.  It was tasty and will be tomorrow....and the next day.....and the next day....

I do have to say that while I was in the store, I debated for at least a minute or two (although it felt like 5 minutes or more) whether or not to get cheesy garlic bread to go alongside my dinner.  I didn't see any that were whole grain options, so I passed....

Then I hit the ice cream section.  Within 30 seconds I spotted 'Under the Stars'.  Chocolate ice cream with peanut butter swirls and chocolate stars filled with peanut butter.

Needless to say, I need to make sure I'm getting enough dairy, so that went right in the basket :)


Here's to enjoying home-cooked meals....and splurging on dessert.

If you're local and hungry, let me know....I've got some leftovers.

In other news, I've found Rocko's Modern Life on Netflix.....good times.

Until tomorrow . . .