Friday, March 25, 2016

Busyness and Blessings of Home


The Quest Continues

Being home feels good.  Getting last year’s paperwork ready for taxes, the reality hit that I had been gone from my home six months in 2015.  No wonder it feels good to be back.

I did have an unwanted surprise the morning of March 25.  As good as home is, I think I came home a bit early.  I did not want to experience another blizzard.  However, I am not planning to shovel.  Snow in March in Michigan is like snow in Virginia, wait a couple days and it will be gone.  

By the afternoon the sky had cleared.   I saw a robin.  The robin is the State of Michigan bird.  Seeing one is a sure sign of spring.  If you look close, you will see this one.  Happy Spring!

Back to the Gym

In 2012 when I was getting ready to go on my first mission assignment, I was getting my mind in shape on required reading.  I also had to be able to walk three miles.  At the age of 69, walking three miles a day was not part of my regimen.  I worked into the ability to do so, mission volunteering is good for your body.

Because I fell seven times while away on my journeys, my doctor ordered me to join a gym and work out for balance and core strength.
Now that I am home from VA, I am back at Centre Ice ( with my trainer, Joelle. 

Thanks to prayers and exercises I have not fallen for over a year!  Being in shape for future mission assignments is a great incentive!

Organic Wesley:

This winter reading the book, Organic Wesley a Christian Perspective on Food, Farming, and Faith, by William C Guerrant Jr changed some previous understandings.   This book talks about the current food movement.  The author identifies and suggests a specifically Wesleyan food ethic, relevant to our ongoing cultural conversations about food.  The author indicates Wesley was “convinced that God’s original plan for humanity included healthy bodies and that we need not await the resurrection to start bringing our bodily health in line with God’s plan.  Wesley believed that God intends both “inward and outward healing” and that a properly oriented Christian life should promote both.

Interrupting my eating habits according to Wesleyan food ethics is ongoing. 

Interfaith Peace Service March 20, 2016

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship of Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City invited the community to an Interfaith Peace Service on March 20.  As humanity, we truly are journeying together.  The program included participation from many different faith traditions.  Below is a copy of a prayer that was part of the service.

Prayer for Peace in the Middle East

Lord of Hope and Compassion, friend of Abraham, who called our father in faith to journey to a new future.  We remember before you the countries of the Middle East, from which Abraham was summoned; ancient land of the Middle East, realm of the two rivers, birthplace of the great cities of civilizations.  May we, who name ourselves children of Abraham, remember all the people of the Middle East who honor him as father.  We bring to mind those who guard and celebrate the Torah; those for whom the Word has walked on earth and lived among us; those for who follow their prophet, who listened for the word in the desert and shaped a community after what they heard.  Lord of reconciliation, God of the painful sacrifice uniting humankind, we long for the day when you will provide for all nations of the earth your blessing of peace.  But now, when strife and war are at hand, help us to see in each other a family likeness, our inheritance from our one father Abraham.  Keep hatred from the threshold of our hearts, and preserve within us a generous spirit which recognizes in both foe and friend a common humanity.  This we ask from the one who has given us the gift of abundant life.

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship

This fellowship invites the community to ongoing meetings and activities.  They often do book studies.  Books studied in the past include, Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, along with the Nonviolent Communication Companion Workbook by Lucy Leu; The Nonviolent Life by John Dear; and The Powers That Be by Walter Wink.   While in Traverse City, I hope to be a part of their ongoing studies.

Holy Week

Because my church is in transition, I worshiped with other congregations.
On Good Friday, several congregations meet together in the beautiful sanctuary of Central United Methodist Church.  Through Scripture, meditation, prayer and music our worship was guided as we considered the seven phrases of Jesus from the cross: 

I celebrated Easter with the family of God that meets at Grawn United Methodist Church. 

Their tradition is a Good Friday Cross Walk.  They meet away from their church and walk carrying cross.  A graphic witness to the community that they are people of the cross. 

Upon completion of the walk, they join their hearts in devotions and prayers.  The cross is covered in black symbolic of the realities around the death of Jesus.

Easter Sunday Worship takes on a different hue!  Through music and words, hearts were filled with hope as we worshiped together.  Pastor Colleen’s sermon, Eternal Life, challenged our understandings and actions.  We are post Easter people, living eternal life in Jesus. 

The words of the Sacred Writings of my faith tradition, quote Jesus as saying,
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.John 17:3. 

As post Easter People Let's realize each choice is an eternal choice.

Monday, March 21, 2016

So That

Home Safe

Praise God with me that I am home safely from my assignment in Harrisonburg, VA.
I arrived home in time to celebrate the 100th birthday of a very dear friend, Fran.  

Reflecting on Answers to Prayers

When I was getting ready to go last November, I talked to God about the “individual” part of the Individual Volunteer in Mission.  I was concerned that I would be alone from 4:30PM on Friday to 8:30 AM on Monday.  I was looking at living by myself in a motel room for four months.  A difference from Bethlehem-five in the apartment, Jordan-up to ten in the apartment with six in the same bedroom for a while and Beit Jala, Hope School, staying at the school with 22 other borders. 

God had plans to cover my individual angst! 

Reflections on Refugees

Serving through the Church World Service Office was a wonderful experience.  You can find out more information about the office where I served at the following web site,

A video was produced and is on YouTube:   It highlights some of the realities refugees face and tells about refugee resettlement in Harrisonburg.

On Saturdays and Sundays I transported refugees to events.  Their lives filled my weekend times with Joy as we participated in events!

Reflections on Asbury UMC

As you know from prior blogs, the family of God at Asbury UMC in Harrisonburg is precious to me.   They have a beautiful sanctuary.  The Christmas play was delightful.  

They welcomed me and also welcomed members of the JMU International Leadership in Education Program.  Four international teachers are now singing in their choir directed by Rev. Laura Douglass.

Reflections on Harrisonburg, VA

Harrisonburg is a special beautiful place.  Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg is part of the culture there that honors God and promotes peace and justice.  Their article at the following site highlights some of the goodness as the local police embrace the concept of Restorative Justice,

Naturally Supernatural

In my faith tradition, we believe that Jesus dwells within.  That makes our lives naturally supernatural.  What a joy it was for me to hear the faith stories of refugees,  from Asbury members and from the international teachers.

God’s final act of taking the “individual” out of my journey was an  experience with with Victor, one of the international teachers.   

Victor is from Mexico where he is not only a teacher, but also the pastor of a small Methodist Church.

Unknown to Victor, the Perry Ohio UMC was reaching out to a Hispanic community in their neighborhood.  Many of their Hispanic neighbors were from the town where Victor’s church, Mision Fuetne Agua Viva, is located.  The Perry Ohio UMC contacted Victor’s wife in Mexico. She let Victor know that Perry UMC in Ohio wanted to do a summer mission trip to help the church in Mexico. 

My planned trip home to MI coincided with Victor’s spring break.  I was able to enjoy Victor’s company during my trip to Michigan.

I transporting Victor to Perry UMC in Ohio so that Victor could be part of the fellowship, worship and preaching at Perry UMC.  

Everyone is looking forward to the mission trip in August.

What Was Seen?  What Is Remembered?  

Leaving an assignment is not easy.  However, I am filled and overflowing with precious memories.  

In 2013 when I was leaving Bethlehem, my first assignment, a poem, The Layers, by Stanley Kunitz came to me by email.  It is not a religious poem, but one that speaks to changes.  Below are some of the lines,  

When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength to proceed on my journey, I see the milestones dwindling toward the horizon and the slow fires trailing from the abandoned camp-sites, over which scavenger angels wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe out of my true affections, and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?...

Yet I turn, I turn, exulting somewhat, with my will intact to go wherever I need to go, and every stone on the road precious to me.

Purpose in Life-“So That”

I have been pondering the term, "So That."  It caught my attention while reading the story about the raising of Lazarus.
The Death of Lazarus John 11:13-15
13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him."…

Jesus’ purposes, were the “so that’s,” of events lived among humanity.

I wonder about all the events God has allowed me to experience in the Middle East and in the USA.   I see the needs in USA differently because of my mission journeys.  I ponder my "so that’s." They are mysteries, give meaning and are adventure.

We all are on an exciting quest, living into the "so thats" of our lives.  God's plans, our choices create our adventure!

United Methodist Women

We as United Methodist Women have embraced the quest.   We are reading, studying.  We are very active on many social justice issues. We are growing closer to God and each other.  Check out the social justice action resources on many issues at

Teach Us to Pray

In my faith tradition, during the Lenten Season, more time is dedicated to prayer and devotion.  Our Bishop, Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, is producing a weekly series on prayer; you can read her thoughts at the following link.

When Jesus taught people to pray, he instructed the disciples to ask that God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  Churches around the world repeat this request nearly every week.

Our love and actions are the answer to the “on earth as it is in heaven” prayer.  

Millions of refugees and other vulnerable people need that prayer answered. 

UN Pictures form refugee camps continue to show the needs. 

With each choice, let’s ask ourselves this question.