Faith & Fault-lines in a Pandemic

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Poverty is the Pandemic

We are not in the same boat.  We are not in the same storm.  In fact, an economic storm has been raging all along and we have left many without a boat or paddle to weather the most recent epidemic to hit Rock County, Wisconsin.  Continue reading “Faith & Fault-lines in a Pandemic”

When Faith Walks Out the Door: Bilbo, #Baltimore & Transforming Our Faith

Just getting out the door is challenge.
Just getting out the door is challenge.

Getting Out the Door

We have a rule in our house: always wash the dishes before we leave on vacation. This may seem ordinary enough, I’m sure many of you may do the same thing. But for me, the mere act of getting out the door on time is difficult enough—you can’t imagine how tempting it is to say, “leave it, just leave it. We will be back soon enough.” But the person who leaves the house is never the person who returns to it. We become a new person because of the journey and nobody wants to come back and clean up someone else’s mess.

Continue reading “When Faith Walks Out the Door: Bilbo, #Baltimore & Transforming Our Faith”

My people come from Selma Too: Breaking the Silence After 50 Years

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My parent’s wedding day April 25, 1965

Selma

Fifty years ago the world watched as one of the greatest victories of the Civil Rights movement unfolded on the stage of Selma, Alabama. March 1965 was the Super Bowl of the Civil Rights Movement. The stakes were high—the right for unencumbered voting for African American voters was on the line in this growing city.  Almost no African Americans were able to register to vote given they had to undergo literacy tests, civil tests, poll taxes, as well as having others vouch for them. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of that great victory that culminated in the march from Selma to the Statehouse in Montgomery and compelled President Johnson to issue and sign the Voter Rights Act.

My Family Connection

While the story of what happened fifty years ago in Selma is a compelling one, I care about what happened in that city for personal reasons. Continue reading “My people come from Selma Too: Breaking the Silence After 50 Years”

Learning to think on your feet: Cymbal Kid, Autism, and the Family that Makes Us

Andrew "Cymbal Kid" Pawelvzck with our Son Nishanth
Andrew “Cymbal Kid” Pawelczyk with our Son Nishanth

A Friend of the Family, Andrew the Cymbal Kid

One week ago my son’s best friend Andrew Pawelczyk (Pa-Vel-check) was thrust onto an international stage–he is the YouTube sensation “Cymbal Kid”.  A month ago during the last middle school band performance, Andrew, an accomplished drummer who usually plays the “quad” 4 drums, was asked to play the cymbals.  I was sitting dead center with my husband and daughter while our son sat in the trumpet section at first chair.   Continue reading “Learning to think on your feet: Cymbal Kid, Autism, and the Family that Makes Us”

In the Presence of Giants– Neuqua Valley High School Baccalaureate Speech

This Redwood reminds us that we must learn from the Giants who have come before us.
This Redwood reminds us that we must learn from the Giants who have come before us.

Giants of Our Time

We are a people gathered together today, in this place, in this time, to reflect, to imagine, and to step forth into a new future where we are called to a greater purpose by a God under whose Divine eyes watch over us on this day.

This same Higher Power that has watched over, guided, inspired and led the Spiritual Giants of our faith Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Rama, Buddha, and the great Gurus, on whose shoulders we stand today—this same Higher Power watches over us.  That same Spirit that hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation lives and dwells in you, our graduates. Continue reading “In the Presence of Giants– Neuqua Valley High School Baccalaureate Speech”

My Blooming Garden (Part 2): The Fragrance of God

Lean in to smell the perfumed fragrance of this red rose.

The Garden is Ablaze with Color

These days my garden is blooming with color-reds, pinks, yellows, and especially purples.  These warm days of June bring such bountiful beauty I can sit in my rose garden for hours contemplating the mystery of God’s creation around me.  The tomatoes have not yet formed.  The eggplants and peppers are hopeful flowers blossoming on young plants in delightfully cool mornings awaiting the buzz of bees to bear their fruit in fall.  The basil is reaching upwards toward the sun, not yet ready for my Friday pizzas.  It is here with the sun on my face, sitting at my garden table, with the breeze dancing among leaves of the cottonwood trees that I feel at peace, a sense of ONENESS with God and the world.  This is sacred Sabbath time. Continue reading “My Blooming Garden (Part 2): The Fragrance of God”

My Blooming Garden (Part 1)–Thinning Seedlings & Making Space

After three years my blackberry bush is producing fruit.

The Garden Teaches us Life Lessons

The garden teaches us many things about life.  It teaches us about patience.  It takes time for a blackberry bush to grow, to flower and to produce fruit.  My blackberry bush is three years old and I think this year I may harvest 20-30 blackberries.  Last year we picked 4.  Another lesson the garden teaches us is discernment.  We must learn to distinguish between plants that will produce food, and plants that will not–of course I am referring to weeds!  If we allow the weeds to grow, they will choke out the young tomato and pepper plants.  These two lessons are fairly obvious.  The third lesson the garden teaches us is a much harder lesson. Continue reading “My Blooming Garden (Part 1)–Thinning Seedlings & Making Space”

Seeking God in Gardening

A large fragrant red rose was the first to bloom in my rose garden this year.

Come to the Garden Alone

How do you get in touch with God?  When do you experience the feeling that you are dwelling within a sacred moment?  There are many ways that we can access the Divine.  Some people experience the sacred in cathedrals and churches; others experience the holy in the smile of a newborn baby; still others in the quiet time of prayer.   For me, I experience God in the midst of ordinary every day experiences with my family at home, at the beach, and especially in my garden.  My granddaddy—my mother’s father—was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister back in the day.  As I am writing this post, in my mind I can hear his strong vibrato tenor singing the hymn, “Come to the garden alone.”

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The Son of God discloses.

 

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,


And He tells me I am His own;


And the joy we share as we tarry there,


None other has ever known.

A Morning Ritual 

What brings me to my garden every morning?  Continue reading “Seeking God in Gardening”

The Gift of Water: Every Drop Counts! 12 yr old raising $10,000

In honor of Earth Day and her 12th birthday, this week’s blog is written by our daughter Nandini.  Last April at 11 years old she began fundraising to build clean water wells for kids in remote villages.  This is her second year and today she shares her story of the Well India Project.

Nandini is on her way to raising $10,000 to build wells for kids who need it most.

Join me in giving the gift of clean water to people who need it most!

Hi!  My name is Nandini and I am celebrating my 12th birthday this month and you can help me give the gift of water.

Last spring, I had an epiphany.  Everyone wants to do something to help people, and I had just figured out what I wanted to do.  It felt like God was sending me a message, and it came in a funny way.  I got my message in a catalog. Continue reading “The Gift of Water: Every Drop Counts! 12 yr old raising $10,000”

Creating New Communities: Spring flowers, tropical fish tanks, and new church starts.

A community of blossoms on a tree signal the beginning of spring.

Spring inspires us to take on new Adventures.

As the season of spring erupts all around me in the blooming tulips and blossoming trees, I am hearing about people starting new adventures as well.  Several of my pastor friends are starting new congregations, and others are teaching historic churches how to create new life.  I have friends who are beginning new jobs after long periods of unemployment, and others who are moving into new companies with new responsibilities of leadership.  Each of us at some point will enter into a new environment and begin the work of creating a community within.  Whether we are involved in new church starts, new jobs, or starting a new venture, I have been thinking about the questions,  “How do we create a new community?”  and “What makes a community sustainable?”

An experiment in creating a community: a tropical fish tank

Our daughter won a goldfish at a county fair two years ago and remarkably it was still alive at Christmas.  As her parents we decided that she was mature enough to have a tropical tank as her Christmas present.  For five months now my daughter and I have been hard at work creating a tropical fish tank of community fish.  In a very tangible way this experiment in creating a tropical tank has my daughter and I discussing how to start a community, what makes up a good community, and how it can sustain itself. Continue reading “Creating New Communities: Spring flowers, tropical fish tanks, and new church starts.”