Saturday, May 31, 2014

whatcha gonna do?

Since last summer when Ethan  participated in Running from Malaria, my younger son Justin has been brainstorming ideas to raise money for Imagine No Malaria.  A few weeks ago when he asked if he could color his hair, I said - only if you're doing it for a good cause.  So, we agreed that he could color it blue, for $500 in contributions to Imagine No Malaria.

'Great idea,' I said.  'But what if folks donate $1000?'  'Well,' he responded, 'I guess I'll have to dye it pink!' you go...$1036 in donations.  Wow!  Thank you Trinity United Methodist Church!

And while this may seem silly, consider that because of the generosity of this one community of faith, 100 families half way around the world will receive bed nets...this could save the lives of hundreds of children.  Children who die needlessly from an illness that is both preventable and curable, thanks to those who said yes to eradicating Malaria.

So, thank you, everyone for your support of our young people who say YES to Jesus, and yes to making a difference in the world, even if that means that their hair will be blue, or pink or purple for a few months this summer.  It's a small price to pay.

Well done Justin - and friend Connor - who joined him in coloring his hair this evening in celebration of the $1000+ donation!  So very proud of you both!

Be on the look out next week at the Iowa Annual Conference...Justin will be there as a diakonos and he has some more great ideas to help push us over the 2 million dollar mark!

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Recently I ‘pinked’ a load of laundry.  You know what I’m talking about…when a random item of clothing (in this case a red t-shirt) bleeds all over the clothes in the washer.  In my haste to clean up the laundry room I neglected to pull all of the lights from darks.  To top it all off the t-shirt had never been washed.  Ugh!

I pulled out the dark colored clothes and tossed them in the dryer then I tried to lighten the affects of ‘pinking’ by using a Rit Dye remover and washing everything in hot water. I couldn’t wait for the load to get finished so I could see how I did.  Sigh.  No change.  So I washed the load yet again, this time with a heavy dose of bleach.  You guessed it; everything is still a lovely shade of pink.

I have wracked my brain trying to figure out a way to reverse the stain, but at some point I am going to have to make peace with the fact that I now have one less tablecloth and one of the boys has a ruined dress shirt.

I hate it.  I am angry with myself.  But eventually I need to toss the pink load of wash in the dryer and move on.  I will also need to find a way to forgive myself.

How many of us have made mistakes in life that we are still wearing - like an unnaturally pinked shirt?  How many of us keep fighting the same battles, searching for answers in all the wrong places?  Trying to erase all signs of our mistakes is human, but it isn’t spiritually healthy.

We have all fallen short.  We have all sinned.  It is likely that we will sin again.  This is part and parcel with being human.  However, we have the opportunity, dare I say the responsibility, to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t repeat them.  AND we desperately need to forgive ourselves so that we can move forward. 

I believe the number one spiritual ailment in the 21st Century is the burden the people carry around because they can’t or won’t accept God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness.

Jesus knew about these sorts of burdens, many are self imposed because good people think that they have to beat themselves up to begin to make reparations to God for their sinful ways. I think this may be why so many people have dropped out of church, because it can all become so exhausting.  But God’s grace doesn’t work this way.  The Good News is that Jesus offers an alternative vision; a new way of living that speaks to the basic needs of each and every one of us:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  
(The words of Jesus, Matthew 11:27-29  The Message)

The unforced rhythms of grace include prayer, worship, participating in acts of justice and mercy (service to others) and other spiritual practices that bring us into an awareness of our loving God.   

During this Easter season let's celebrate the ways that Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after that first resurrection morning.  We are also invited to celebrate the ways that God’s love, mercy, grace and forgiveness are extended to us, each and every day!  Even when, especially when, we mess up.

Peace to you and yours,