Looked with Favor

This morning, I received a phone call from my mom’s nursing home asking if we wanted her to get the Covid 19 vaccine. I know the call was coming. My sister and I had talked about so I was ready to give them an answer. Yes!

“For God looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”

“God looked with favor on those working on the frontlines” “

“God looked with favor on the nurses, the doctors.”

“God looked with favor on nursing home residents, the disabled, minorities and so many others”

May all these be able to stay safe and receive the vaccine that need it and want it.

”For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.”

A New Year

Sorry again friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “conclude.”

I think we can all agree on one thing…that we all are ready for 2020 to be over. It has been a pretty crummy year. Family and friends have suffered from COVID. One of my favorite people died from COVID. I began my new call right as this pandemic really took off in the states.

There has been a tad bit of good that came out of this year. Zoom has been a life saver as it’s allowed me to stay connected to more people than I imagined or expected. My colleagues departure to Norway and her new call was delayed. The months we served together I learned so much from her. My sister and I are only an hour apart.

Yet this year has been full of so much loss and grief. I’m more than ready for a new year and 2021 to arrive! As I write this, the first vaccines are starting to be given to essential workers. I’m beginning to see more glimmers of hope as this year concludes and a new year is soon upon us.

May 2021 be filled with so much joy!

A Covenant in the Midst of a Pandemic

I’m laying on my couch with only the lights of the Christmas tree and my tv on. My sister and I have been texting back and forth asking what we are going to do for Christmas. She’s currently quarantining as she was exposed to a positive case. I’m thankful that she doesn’t have any symptoms so far.

This year has been hard. I began a new call just as this pandemic started. I met a lot of my new parishioners on Zoom. The Zoom fatigue is real, but I’m so grateful that I’ve had Zoom to connect with others. In many ways, it’s been a life line.

My heart aches for the families that have suffered such great loss this year. I’m reminded of sweet Marvel who gifted me the beautiful tree skirt that currently is wrapped around the base or my Christmas tree. She passed away from complications from Covid pneumonia. She was one of the healthiest women that I know. And her story is only one of the thousands who have passed away this year.

The essential workers have continued to care for so many and yet they too have found themselves defeated and worn down by this virus. My mom’s nursing home called three weeks ago to inform me that mom tested positive for COVID. My heart sank into my chest. How do you explain to a 70 year old woman who lives with bipolar disorder and some early signs of dementia why she has to quarantine? She was so sad and I couldn’t give her a hug etc. Yet I’m so incredibly thankful that mom escaped with no symptoms.

I’m not sure what Christmas will look like next week, but what I do know is Jesus will be born. And as Emmanuel “God with us” we need him more than ever. This infant who comes for the lowly, the outcasts, those on the margins and every single person on earth.

Today I sing of God’s faithfulness as mom didn’t have any COVID symptoms when she tested positive. I sing of God’s faithfulness that sometimes we need to experience the darkness to come to the light. I sing of God’s love that God has never left us or forsaken us in the midst of this pandemic. I will sing and tell the story of God’s love that continually calls us to lament and leave our burdens at the foot of the cross and in the manger.

“Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room, And heaven and nature sing. Joy to the world! Joy to the world! The Savior reigns.”

A Love Hate Relationship

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Psalm 13. How long, oh Lord, will you forget me forever?” So when I opened today’s Advent devotion from Psalm 79 and read these words “How long, oh Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire.” I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. Yet I could feel it in my body. I felt a deep tenseness and wanted to be six feet away from the words that were staring back at me.

My morning started with a phone call from my mom’s nursing home calling to inform me that Mom tested positive for COVID 19. Thankfully she doesn’t have any symptoms but as I heard those words, my heart still sunk into my chest. For the last nine months, as this pandemic has raged on, mom has been healthy and cared for there. I know that her nursing home staff has done everything in their power to protect mom and the other residents. I could hear the sheer defeat in the social worker as she shared the news of my mom’s health with me.

So many of us are exhausted, ready for this pandemic to be under control. So many of us are weary; weary from explaining why we are being so cautious. Many are grieving the loss of a loved one who has been taken from COVID 19. And as I read these words from Psalm 79, I find myself asking more questions:

How long, oh Lord, will it take for the anti-maskers to wear a mask?

How long, oh Lord, will it be before our hospitals are no longer at capacity?

How long, oh Lord, will we have to worry about and protect those who are the most vulnerable?

How long, oh Lord?

How long, oh Lord?

I don’t have the answer, friend! But I do believe that we are called to love and serve our neighbors. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” And we can do that by simply protecting and caring for one another.

As we walk this Advent journey, may we see the road ahead. May we continue to trust that God sees us. God sees you working hard on the front lines. God sees you who yearns to be with family. God sees you parents teaching your children at home. God sees you with all of your needs. And God daily calls us to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with him.”

“How long, oh Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire.”

No Stranger to Grief

Sorry friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy and to be honest, I just needed a little break. But I’m back! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “grief.”

I’m no stranger to grief. From October 2017 to December 2018, I lost nine family/friends to death. A seminary classmate, then my favorite high school English teacher, then my friend Ben, a seminary professor, Ben’s brother Aaron, my friend Rachel, my friend Paul’s wife Stephanie, our dear family friend Jim, and finally my Grandpa Wilbert; two days before Christmas.

To say that that year was overwhelming is an understatement. I was so overcome by the grief of these friends and family. Grief at times can be paralyzing. We don’t know how to move on without them. Life is different and missing those we loved. Grief sometimes also comes not through physical death but the change of a job etc. God sits with us in all of our grief. God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; “mourning and crying and pain will be no more.”

Yet it isn’t until Christ returns that we will fully know that reality. So I cling to the Ecclesiastes text about seasons. “ a time to weep and a time to mourn,* a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted etc.” There is a time for every season under heaven.

Jesus weeps with us. Jesus knows the grief we feel and sits with us. Jesus will make all things new again. I’m reminded of one of my favorite scriptures Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” After long days of weeping, long days of grief, joy will slowly return. I promise I’ve seen it after the year of grief.

A Mosiac made and gifted to me by my friend Laurie H. Isn’t it stunning?!

Sitting on the Edge

The tears have been sitting on the surface since Tuesday. This morning, I went to post a Tik Tok video and the tears immediately let loose. Our world is more divided than ever and I’m not sure if there is any hope left.

I mailed in my vote because we are in the midst of a pandemic and I need to do my part to keep the vulnerable among us safe. It saddens me that my vote and the votes of many other mail in voters are being questioned right now. Our country has an election process in place to protect and honor the votes of all of us. It would do us all good to be patient in this moment.

However, what saddens and angers me the most is how we are treating one another. I’ve seen so much evil and hatred. I’ve even seen others flat out attacking the other side. It doesn’t make us look good to the rest of the world at all.

Have you taken the time to truly ask someone why they voted the way they did? (I know that I could be better at this). I believe that we could learn a lot and help bring our world together if we used our own righteous anger and rage to unite us rather than divide us. Doesn’t God call us “to love our neighbors as we love ourselves?”//

Several months ago, I joined a book study/discussion talking about racial inequality and white privilege. We’ve read “White Fragility,” “Stamped,” “Between the World and Me,” and many others. These books have helped me to learn what it means when we say phrases like “All lives matter.” All lives do matter but not until black lives; indigenous live ; BIPOC lives matter.

I joined this book club because I’m a lifelong learner. But more than that, I joined because I want better for my friend’s children especially those children who have been adopted from other countries. These children have not been immune to racism. Sadly they experience it almost every day of their young lives.

It makes me think of the people in the book of Jeremiah who were in exile for over 70 years.
What must it have been like to be the outsiders? What must it look like for those in our country who are often seen as the outsiders? Perhaps we could take a different perspective and learn from each other.

I want better for them. I want better for all of us. I want us to move beyond you’re right w f I’m wrong. I want us to move towards love and justice rather than hatred and evil. Words do matter!

These tears that I have cried are holy tears that are calling me to do better. They are calling me to truly live out the words of Micah 6:8 “But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.”

No matter what happens, friends, our work is just beginning!

More Than A Building

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “church.”

When I worked at camp, we had this poem we would teach the kids: “Here’s the church, Here’s the steeple, open the door, and see all the people.” It even came with hand motions. This catchy little poem is so fun, but I think in some ways it’s not telling the whole truth.

You see, the church is more than a building. During the last several months, we’ve realized that church can happen online. It can happen in a parking lot or on the church lawn. It truly happens anywhere two or three are gathered in Christ’s name.

Sadly too often I think many of us make the church building an idol. What would happen if a fire or hurricane or something destroyed your church ? Would you still be able to worship? Of course! Don’t get me wrong, I missed being in the building but I also realize the beauty of worshipping anywhere two or three have gathered in Christ’s name.

As a deacon in the church, my calling is to show God’s people that the church can and is more than a building! I am called to send God’s beloved our into the world sharing God’s love with the world.

She Believed

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “could.”

A few summers ago, I climbed almost to the very top of Estes Cone in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. It was one of the hardest things I’ve tried to do but I was determined. And the views were 100 percent worth it.

“She believed she could, so she did!”

Who would have ever thought that I would attend seminary and become a deacon in the ELCA? I struggled with systematic theology, but due to a smart professor, we figured out a way for me to learn more effectively. I finally passed that class.

“She believed she could, so she did.”

Writing words on a page is a gift God has given me. I never quite imagined I’d use words to tell my family’s story of mental illness and self publish my own book. I’m proud of that little book.

“She believed she could, so she did!”

There are so many things I’d still like to accomplish in my life like fostering etc. I know that Gods got me as I strive to reach those goals. The journey is not over yet!

“She believed she could, so she did!”

Weary

This pandemic continues on with no end in sight. People debate over the validity of masks vs no masks. Some think this pandemic is simply just a hoax. We cannot seem to agree on anything.

And in the midst of a pandemic, we find ourselves in the midst of a political campaign too. Republican vs Democrat, Liberal vs Conservative, and the list goes on and on. Again we find ourselves arguing over things rather than trying to understand where the other side is coming from.

Our world is full of so much injustice and callousness too. Jacob Blake didn’t deserve to be shot seven times. There are so many crying out to be heard and their cries often seem to fall on deaf ears. As I read and learn more about racism, I see my own complacency and know I/we need to do better for our siblings of color.

I know not everyone will agree with me but one way I believe we can do that is by not calling Covid the China virus. Yes, it originated in China but people use that to sling racism and hate at the Chinese people. Are we not better than that? I hope and pray that we are!

There is so much I want for our world. I want justice. I want peace. I want us to see each other for our differences rather than letting those differences separate us. I want this to be a better place for our children, grandchildren, etc to grow up in. Yet I’m not sure we can ever get there. Every day I try to listen to those voices that are different than mine. However, often those conversations turn to hate and arguing. It feels as if I’m wasting my breath trying to find common ground.

And I’m weary, friends…weary at trying to love my neighbor, weary at fighting for justice, weary at our world and how we treat one another. Yet in my weariness and tiredness, I cling to the hope of Christ; the hope that one day we will truly be united as Gods beloved people.

Where do you see hope in our world today?

What Do You Miss?

The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “loud.”

Over these last several months, life has been so uncertain. I’ve loved the time I’ve had with my kitties. But to be honest, there is so much I miss. I can’t wait until the day we get to hear those sweet sounds, hug those we love and not live life in the midst of a pandemic.

I miss the sound of sports fans in stadiums. It’s just not quite the same with virtual fans.

I miss gathering in worship without a mask on. I miss the sounds of children laughing and people conversing over coffee.

I miss the loud sounds of theater and music concerts. My heart is so ready to watch a concert with friends. But until then I’ll just blare my favorite tunes all over my house.

I miss seeing friends and family’s smiles and faces!

Oh how I miss this and so much more. I can’t wait to hear those sweet loud sounds again. What do you miss hearing, friends?

And for fun, here’s an oldie but a goody that I love to jam out too!