Sunday, July 12, 2009

Needing to practice some contemplation? Try one or more of the following exercises this week...and enjoy the solitude and silence of simply "being" with God.

Exercises in the Contemplative Tradition

  1. Pray for ten minutes each morning or evening.
  2. Pray without words (in silence) for five to ten minutes each day.
  3. Offer a short prayer throughout the day (for example, the hesychastic prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner” or the verse “Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right spirit within me” [Ps. 51:10]).
  4. Read a section from a devotional book, such as a spiritual classic like St. Augustine’s Confessions, or it may be a devotional classic such as Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest. Devotional periodicals such as Guideposts or The Upper Room (or some other publication) may interest you. Discover God in the reading.
  5. Write out a prayer in your journal. You may wish to keep it private, or you may wish to share it. Write the letter as if it were addressed to God, telling Him your hopes and dreams, your worries, your needs.
  6. Learn to appreciate God through his creation. Take a walk in a park or simply sit and watch a sunset. Consider the majesty of the world, giving thanks and praise for all of God’s creation.
  7. Set aside fifteen minutes for a time of thanksgiving. Thank God for everything you can think of. Do not worry about intercession or confession; this is simply a time to give thanks.
  8. Practice the art of listening to God. Meditate on a verse of Scripture, being attentive to what God wants to tell you. Note the words in the verse. Does anything stand out? Turn the verse into a prayer. Ask God to teach you during this time of silence.
  9. Hold people and situations before God in prayer. Take ten minutes a day to bring your friends and loved ones before God. Do not worry about words; simply imagine Jesus standing beside them before the throne of grace. Let God minister to all of their cares and hurts.
  10. Try “flash prayers.” When you see someone—anyone—silently pray for that person. Riding on a bus, standing in a line, sitting in a room—wherever you are, inwardly ask God to give those around you joy, to touch their lives with his presence.

Smith, James Bryan. A Spiritual Formation Workbook: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth. A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. (pp. 87-88)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


"In a noise-polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let along try to be still and know God. Yet it seems essential for our spiritual life to seek some silence, no matter how busy we may be. Silence is not to be shunned as empty space, but to be befriended as fertile ground for intimacy with God" --Susan Muto

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." ~ John 7:37b-38 (NIV)

I am departing from the lectionary for the remainder of the summer to explore deeply the Spiritual Discipline Streams, based on Richard Foster's work.

So this week we will focus on Contemplation - The Prayer-Filled Life. Living a life of loving attention to God - through which we experience the divine rest that overcomes our alienation. I think we all need a little (or a lot of rest). Can you imagine your life if you took just a few minutes out of your day to be still... surrounded by silence... alone. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a little bit of heaven on earth.

Be still and encouragement for all of us, including me, today.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Covet vs. Contentment

Why is it that I always want more than I have or something different than I have? Why is contentment so hard to find and once you find it, so hard to keep? Temptation always seems to be lurking, ready to lunge at every turn.

This is one of the sins that I struggle with greatly and seemingly all the time. Does anyone have a secret for contentment?

Of course the answer is in front of me all the time - be grateful for what the Lord has blessed me with. I guess coveting is one of the many traps that I fall into when I take my eyes, my heart, my mind off of Him.

Oh Lord, help me to spend time with you everyday and to allow you to remind me how much I always have to be grateful for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five: Life is a Verb

Thanks to Jan from RevGalBlogPals for another great Friday Five...

Digh, Patti. Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful,
and Live Intentionally. Guilford, CT: Skirt!, 2008.

Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:
  • Say yes.
  • Be generous.
  • Speak up.
  • Love more.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Slow down.
As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?
Silence. Solitude. A growing awareness of God in every moment and the preciousness of life. There are moments when I catch myself watching closely my girls growing up and I realize how fleeting this life is. How quickly they seem to be changing, maturing and growing. I often wonder how many other parents wish at one point or another that they could stop the hands of time from ticking away the moments so quickly.

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?
The most brilliant green grass that I have seen in a long, long time - especially in June (thanks to all the rain, which is not always appreciated!) Children playing and laughing in the sunshine. One of the most glorious of all God's creation - a tree. Beautiful sun-kissed and rain-quenched red roses. A squirrel scurrying quickly (aren't they always!?!) through the yard.

3. Which verbs describe your experience of God?
growing, evolving, sprinting, inspiring, animating, invigorating, energizing, breathing, resting, depending, giving up - control to Him that is...I could go on and on and on...

4. From the book on p. 197:
Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?
She grew up...too fast. But God was there with me every step of the way, even when I wasn't aware of Him. I thank God for that and more, much, much more.

5. From the book on p. 88:
If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?
The question...
What is the most wonderful and the most awful thing that you do, the thing that brings so much joy and so much sadness, frustration, and tiredness and the thing that you would NOT trade for anything in the world?
The answer...
My work as a pastor, teacher, preacher, counselor and most of all servant of my Lord.

Bonus idea for you here or on your own--from the book on p. 149:
"Go outside. Walk slowly forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. It might be an idea, it might be an object. Name it. Set it aside. Walk forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. Name it. Set it aside. Repeat. . . ."

I am on vacation next week and I will do this then and post my results! What an awesome idea, thanks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

εχω χαρα!!!

Yes, even though Greek has begun and at times over the last several weeks, I have felt completely overwhelmed, I must say that I am enjoying Greek. I also freely admit that it has definitely been a humbling experience. Memory don't fail me now!

Tonight, I am appreciating the abundance of blessing in my life - looking across the room and seeing my DH sleeping on the couch - listening to his peaceful, even breathing. He totally deserves this BTW because he has been up since 3:30 a.m.! I do not tell him enough just how wonderful he is and how thankful I am to God for him! There is no way that I could live out this call that God has placed in my (really our) life without his love, encouragement and support. No doubt about it, he is my biggest fan, but there is so much more. I am so grateful that he is the best daddy that our two beautiful daughters could ever have. He is so caring and involved in their lives it seriously brings tears to my eyes.

I am thankful for the joy that comes in knowing that both girls are upstairs sleeping in their beds healthy, safe and sound. I have continued to witness just how fragile life can be and how absolutely necessary it is to live in the moment and to find joy, even in those moments where there is anything but joy to be found.

So goodnight sweet world for tomorrow waits on the other side of a good night's rest. Sleep tight.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The BIG To Do!!!

It is time once again for the Revgalblogpals' Friday Five!!!!

Greetings from the land of the Big To-Do!

It seems like every year I enter into the summer with a growing list of HUGE projects/events/trips that seem to have a permanent place on the 'to do' list.

This year I have a huge move pending so that takes up an entire list all on its own, but it doesn't take a big event like that for me to make plans bigger than my summer can hold!
How about you?

Is this the third summer in a row you have made a pledge involving your garage and actually getting a car into it?
Did you once again miss the registration deadline for the continuing education event of your dreams ?
Are you starting to think you couldn't even find the tents, let alone get it together to pull off a camping trip?

Here is your chance to get it out into the open and OWN your Big To-Do! Who knows? Maybe making the list will help you move the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-Da!

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do?
I have a feeling I will not be accomplishing any fix-it project this summer, though my wonderful hubby might unbury the garage so that we actually might be able to have it for the car! What a wonderful thought. :)

2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?
Two annual summer events are: UMC Annual Conference and Vacation Bible School. I also think the church where I serve is needing to look at a ministry plan, so I hope to at the least get started with that over the summer.

3) What trip is on your Big To-Do?
I have a week's vaca the end of June, ending with a weekend of camping with our wonderful couple friends and NO children! Yippee!!!! In addition, I think that DH's work is going to shut down for the last two weeks in July, so we may be doing some day trips with the girls...we shall see.

4) What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do?
I am really praying that my brother, who lives on the opposite coast and who I have not seen for nearly 4 years, will actually be able to make a visit sometime this summer. I am truly excited about the possibility of my girls totally falling head over heels in love with Uncle Chris and he with them, so that maybe we won't have to wait so long for his next visit! :) Yes, I admit to scheming to that end already!

5) Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?
I just began my summer class - Greek, so hopefully, I will have moved from wondering if I can actually retain Greek to learning it! That would indeed be a BIG Ta-Da for me! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meet and Greet: May I Interview YOU? edition

From Mompriest at RevGalBlogPals...

1. Where do you blog?
odyssey, sitting almost anywhere with my macbook! :)

2. What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
The Bishop's Blog
Into the Great Un-Gnome
The Painted Prayerbook

3. What gives you joy?
My two beautiful daughters
Rachel (Ray Ray) & Grace (Little Miss Lou Who)

And my wonderful, supportive husband

And as crazy as it may sound, the blessed opportunity to be in ministry and in seminary at the same time!  Thank you, God!

4. What is your favorite sound?
the sound of laughter, of singing, music, silence, rain on a metal roof, rubber tires on gravel roads

5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
Hello Andii.  Welcome home.

6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
Her legacy is in her children, watch them and you will see her echo.

7. Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
Hers seemed like a completely hopeless situation, but there is hope, even in the hopeless.

8. What color do you prefer your pen?
I am a pen snob and I do prefer blue!

9. What magazines do you subscribe too?
Time, Sojourners, Christianity Today, Entertainment Weekly

10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
Continue on the path toward my Master of Divinity.  I hope to be finished before the end of the next decade and then onto ordination!

11. Why are you cool?
Is there such a thing as geeky cool?  I love hanging around younger people who make me feel young. :)  They are cool!

12. What is one of your favorite memories?
There are so many to choose from.  Memories from a mission trip that I was blessed to co-lead almost 7 years ago -  a 3-week trip to Ukraine.  What an awesome experience.  While we were there, we met some amazing Ukrainian people who ministered to us way more than we to them.  I remember leaving Lutsk on the train to Kiev and our Ukrainian ministry partners standing on the platform in tears as the train pulled out, saying, "Until we meet again in heaven!"  What an amazing experience!

13. Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?
Hey friend, how 'bout lunch? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy, Happy Earth Day

Hug a tree, love your planet and remember that the earth is yours only for a time, borrowed from your children and from mine.

In celebration of Earth Day, one of my favorite poems...


Joyce Kilmer (1886–1918)

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Five - Time Out Edition

Sally from revgalblogpals writes...

Holy Week is almost upon us, I suspect that ordained or not, other
revgal/pals calendars look a bit like mine, FULL, FULL, FULL........ Jesus was great at teaching us to take time out, even in that last week, right up to Maundy Thursday he withdrew, John's gospel tells us he hid! He hid not because he was afraid, but because he knew that he needed physical, mental and spiritual strength to get through... So faced with a busy week:

1. What restores you physically?

I have always loved plugging in my headphones and dancing around like a nut! Now that I have this nifty little gadget called iPod, I have organized a playlist entitled "Dance Mix" and I live for those times. :) I also really enjoy an afternoon siesta, when I can find the time. ;)

2. What strengthens you emotionally/ mentally?
Spending time with my family, taking a walk, having coffee or ice cream and laughing with my girlfriends, unwinding with a funny and pointless movie like "Rat Race" - too funny and some killer one liners, reading a book that is not "required reading"

3. What encourages you spiritually?

I am starting to realize how precious and necessary it is - John & Charles Wesley, and others like them got it right - to spend chunks of time with God - ALONE! My goal is to spend one hour each day, one day a month, and one week a year (this one may prove challenging given the fact that I am a mom of two beautiful little girls and that I already ridiculously lean on a wonderful, supportive hubby/daddy) in silence/solitude and prayer (dialogue over monologue) with God...doesn't that sound heavenly! :) me thinks so

4. Share a favorite poem or piece of music from the coming week.
So hard to choose - I love the traditional hymns - "Because He Lives", "Were You There", "Christ the Lord is Risen Today", but one that gets me every time is an oldie, but goodie in my book - I love, love, love "Sunday's on the Way" by Carmen...

5. There may be many services for you to attend/ lead over the next week, which one are you most looking forward to and why? If there aren't do you have a favorite day in Holy week if so which one is it?
Is it even possible for me to choose just one!?! Holy week is my favorite, even more than Advent and Christmas - there I said it. I'm certain that I am not alone, but I love the entire journey through Holy week. I love the extremes of emotion: rejoicing, fellowship, anguish, sorrow never felt before, desolation and then the extreme joy of the empty tomb and meeting the risen and victorious Lord. The journey to the cross and beyond always makes me keenly aware of the tremendous sacrifice that was made and the depth of God's love for me and for all.

I pray blessings on all who will minister this week, that we will be uplifted and strengthened by the Holy Spirit
so that all those around us may be touched by Jesus in powerful ways - Lord, may Your consuming fire burn within people!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Five: Signs of Hope

Thanks to Songbird from RevGalBlogPals for the invitation to hope!

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

In the late, late winter, as the snow begins to recede here in Maine, we begin to look almost desperately for signs of spring, signs of hope that the weather has turned and a new day is on the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter and Spring twine inextricably, the crocuses and daffodils peeking through the Earth as we await the risen Christ.

Share with us five signs of hope that you can see today or have experienced in the past.

1. More sunshine! :)

2. Flowers peeking through! ;)

3. "Wearing a coat optional" days! ;0)

4. Positive signs for the housing market - Lord please sell our house! :}

5. Just looking into those beautiful brown eyes and blue eyes of my precious little girls!

Easter is coming! :-0
Yellow Peeps are in the stores - yum yum yum!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

25 Random Facts + Bonus

1. I believe that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life! :)
2. I am madly in love with Dale, Little Miss Lou Who & Ray Ray
3. I have been extravagantly blessed by wonderful, funny, encouraging and loving family & friends - Thank You, Lord!
4. I have learned already that being a minister is not easy - but I LOVE it.
5. I do not think that I could work a Monday - Friday, 8 - 5 job anymore.
6. My life verse (yes some would say taken out of context) is Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
7. I love to travel - I have been to various places in the US, Ireland, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, St. Thomas, Bahamas, Bermuda.
8. I have worked in the travel industry, the insurance industry, the health care system, higher education and media.You
9. I prefer the mountains and the woods to the beach.
10. I love campfires - especially for the purpose of hot dogs & ooey gooey smores.
11. I am still learning and loving it!
12. I love music - as long as it is clean & semi-understandable.
13. A must for any car that I own - air conditioning (this did not always come standard) and good sound (for playing music).
14. I went down the Piney on my hiney. I love Slate Run!
15. I would really love to own an a-frame, log cabinish home with some decent land, that has woods and a stream that I can sit by, and a cow for Dale . . . someday. . .
16. I have way too many books that I have not read.
17. I am discovering, I hope, a poet inside.
18. I am horrible at regular communication - thank You Lord for above-mentioned, very patient friends.
19. Being with young people makes me feel younger.
20. I hope that the ministry that God has called me to brings Him more glory! :)
21. Believe it or not, there is a part of me that misses Lebanon.
22. I hope to build a lasting and loving relationship with my two beautiful daughters, providing a safe place for both of them to turn when life gets tough.
23. I married Tim & Nikki at Camp Seltzer long before Pastor Dan did. :)
24. I fell off a six foot scaffolding (thank you Pastor Dan for saving my life) and lived to ride horseback the next day.
25. I secretly wish that my brother Chris would move closer - I miss him very much!

Bonus - I love being called Andii by those who know and love me - thanks Mom & Dad. ;o)

Holy Silence

Wait = Weight
Growing ever more burdensome
Upon body, mind, heart, soul
How much longer!?!
The cry escapes...

An aching, a longing, a heart's desire,
to serve obediently
And yet - silence . . . stillness.

Your voice - Holy and True,
brings peace.
Cannot carry burden alone . . .
but with You, all is possible.

230 a.m. - awakened
to find that You hear my cry.
And You offer the answer,

"Give it back, that burden that you have been carrying."

You are here - have been,
and continue to be.
So I may find rest,
and hope for today and beyond.

Gratitude for You.
All glory is Yours.

Just one more thing,
please answer soon
And if I may be bold,
let it be yes and get a bit easier - lighter

For You bring Light and Life,
to those who present requests to You . . .

Joy amidst pain.
Peace amidst chaos.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Life in Pictures...

- Go to Google image search.
- Type in your answer to each question.
- Choose a picture from the first few images.
- Use this website ( to make your collage.
- Save the image for use in this note.
- Post and tag all your friends.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What is your hometown?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. What is your favorite movie?
6. What is your favorite drink?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What is your favorite dessert?
9. What is one word to describe yourself?
10. How are you feeling right now?
11. What do you love most in the world?
12. What do you want to be when you grow up?
13. What is your favorite song?
14. What is your favorite season?
15. What is your favorite animal?
16. What is your age?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Five: Mid-Lent Check-In

Thanks to Sophia at RevGalBlogPals...

The pastor of my grad school parish once gave a fascinating reflection, at about this mid-point in the season, called "How to Survive the Mid-Lent Crisis"! As I recall, his main point was that by halfway through the season we have often found it very challenging to live up to our original plans....But, he suggested--on the analogy of the healing and reframing of our life plans that can happen during a mid-*life* crisis--that that can be even more fruitful.

So here's an invitation to check in on the state of your spirit midway through "this joyful season where we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed" (Roman Missal). Hopefully there's a good deal of grace, and not too much crisis, in your mid-Lenten experience!

1. Did you give up, or take on, anything special for Lent this year?

I have been practicing the spiritual discipline of silence/solitude and though it definitely takes practice, it is time well spent and totally worth it!

2. Have you been able to stay with your original plans, or has life gotten in the way?

Yes! And I have been thoroughly blessed by my time with God. In addition, since I am now in my first year of ministry I am participating in a mid-week, community Lenten service and that has been wonderful as I experience worshiping in differing settings and being fed by my brothers in the ministry.

3. Has God had any surprising blessings for you during this Lent?

God has blessed me abundantly during the last few weeks with a depth of intimacy and a deep desire for Him that I have never known before...

4. What is on your inner and/or outer agenda for the remainder of Lent and Holy Week?

To seek God and to spend time with Him.

5. Where do you most long to see resurrection, in your life and/or in the world, this Easter?

I have been so blessed by this Lenten season my prayer is to see resurrection in the heart of the people that I am surrounded by - my family, my friends, my faith community...Nothing is impossible for God!

Bonus: Share a favorite scripture, prayer, poem, artwork, or musical selection that speaks Lenten spring to your heart.

See my earlier post from this week for a poem that God wrote through me. I have always desired to be a poet! :) Thank You, Father, Son & Holy Spirit!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My Day Apart at the Jesuit Center

WOW! It was incredible. God is so amazing! Thank you.

I do not consider myself a writer, so I know this poem came from the Holy Spirit. Thank You Spirit!

Mindful of Life...

Life within
See Me in a new way.
I Am here.
You are NOT abandoned.
Life grows - deep and wide.

Set apart
you are called
to be with Me.
See the bones, the bud, the root,
Grows deeper still.
In silence be with Me.
For I Am calling.
An awakening, a renewal, a closeness never known -

Stillness . . . Quiet
I Am working even though you cannot see.
I offer rest - restoration.
Things are not always as them seem -
Look deeper - with your heart.

Life among the thorns
Be gentle with others and yourself.
Linger - do not rush - enjoy each step.
The journey has no end - wherever you are, I Am there also.
You cannot go too far - always
deeper, broader, wider, higher - ever closer to Me.

I will give you breath - breath of life.
A life lived with, in, and through Me.

Just as I give wind to make the leaves
dance and run, skip and twirl.

You've been inside far too long...
Come away with Me.

~ God

Friday, March 6, 2009

Time to Breath

Imagine Jesus directly addressing you, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."(Matthew 11:28-30)

This is an invitation for you to take time to rest, time to breath...take a deep breath. As you breath in, imagine that you are breathing in God, more of Him, more of His Holy Spirit. Linger there. As you release your breath, imagine that you are releasing to Him the heavy burdens that you have carried around for far too long.

When was the last time you pondered God? When was the last time you took time to allow Him to refresh you, to minister to you?

I have made many mistakes in this my first year of ministry. And I pray that I am learning.

I have realized the way I have been "doing" ministry has really become lazy. Yes, laziness in doing. God has brought me to the point of realization that "being" with Him is not at all lazy, but actually quite necessary. The more I am able to tap into the power of His strength, peace, grace, wisdom, the better equipped I am to do that which He has called me to.

How wonderful our Lord is. He does indeed offer rest and refreshment to the weary. He desires the best for us, and that is Him, above all. Thank You God for your awesome presence in our lives!