I Saw The Sign!

Out in front of the church, we have one of those changeable-copy signs like a lot of churches have. Every week or so, I put up a sign saying, but I always wish I had a little more space. Thank you for reading the sign and following for more information!

Knowing your flavor of tired

Have you ever been exhausted? Just weary to your bones? There's a certain tiredness that comes from a long day or week or season of hard work, be it physical labor or emotional toil. This is the kind of tired that can be cured by time off... a relaxing weekend, a trip away, a sabbatical. There's great value in honoring your body. "Lazy" is a myth. A tired body and mind need rest to recover. 

There's also a deep weariness that can take hold when our hearts are not at ease. This can happen for so many reasons. Grief, burnout, deconstruction, loneliness. So many things can conspire to steal our peace. There's no one-size-fits-all answer for the tiredness that comes from a lack of peace. Prayer, meditation, finding something to look forward to, gratitude journaling, pushing out of a comfort zone. These are a few ideas, but the most important thing you can do is ask for help! Your church family stands ready to assist you as you rest, seek peace, and grow in God's love. And of course, another important way to ask for help is to consult your primary care physician if you are experiencing new, ongoing fatigue or a mental health issue. Counselors, doctors, and other professionals have tools to help us work through tiredness, as well. As the saying goes, “you can have Jesus and a therapist, too.”

Listening is twice as nice

I was watching one of those talking-head shows the other day (ESPN, I think) when I noticed that none of the people were actually listening to each other and addressing the things they were hearing. Each one would ask another a "leading question" about some player, and the other person would, instead of answering, just run off with their own ideas like my dog with a new toy. Once I noticed it, it drove me crazy. How could you work with someone all the time who just refuses to address what you're saying? But then I realized I often do the same thing. I certainly don't listen as much as I should, much less as much as I could. It's often easy to see in others, and more difficult to recognize in ourselves.

How homes are built

As many people do, I have often found myself on WIkipedia reading about some random something or other. Recently, I was reading about the way many of our most precious metals are mined. Not gold and silver, but the metals used in computer products and batteries. They are extremely valuable and, often, the mining process is extremely labor-intensive. As important as they are for modern technology, these most valuable of things require something even more valuable - an abundance of time, effort, and energy. For many things, there is simply no substitute. This is true in our relationships, too. There are no shortcuts without exploiting others. If we want to have a village, we pour our own hearts, hands, and hours into the lives of others.

What is a life worth?

Economist Betsy Stevenson* says that, up until the 1980s, the value of a life was decided by their work value. The question to answer was, “what is the cost of death?” When you include the medical costs associated with death and their lost earnings, you get the “cost of death.” In the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, the average cost of death came out to around $300,000. Around the same time, W. Kip Viscusi was challenging that number in a debate about OSHA labels. The government was debating whether dangerous things needed to be labeled – “corrosive,” “flammable,” “poison,” things like that. And the government had decided printing all those labels wasn’t worth the 4,750 lives it would cost to just not label things. Through a math equation that, I’m sure, makes sense to economists, he deduced that people value their own lives, on average, to about 3 million dollars. He convinced George H.W. Bush of this math, and that’s why we have those OSHA warning labels on things today. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation’s value of a life reached $2.5 million in only 1998. All of this, of course, is beside the point. How valuable your government thinks you are doesn’t define or limit your value. What you bring in per hour, how full your calendar is, and how much life insurance you have isn’t indicative of your worth. God Himself, to my knowledge, doesn’t place a value on your life, either. The closest He gets is the somewhat understated “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” In a proverbial way, your value to God is beyond your knowing. And He, after all, is the One Who would know such things.

*there's a fascinating podcast on this subject at https://www.npr.org/transcripts/835571843

Shoe Leather Theology

The 24-hour news cycle has elevated opinions above everything else. Channels work hard to bring in “experts” to argue one side or the other(occasionally, an actual expert shows up). In a time so dedicated to vociferous argument, it's easy to forget that the most powerful influence we can have on others is not what we say or how loudly we say it, but how we live - embodying the values we believe in and literally “practicing what we preach”. 

It means being a role model to those around us, inspiring them through our actions rather than just our words.   One of the oft-used rebuttals to arguments is, “well, if you really cared about ______, you would be out there ________. And those statements are more accurate than we would like to admit. Strong beliefs are certainly important, but if they are not backed up by consistent, ethical, and just behavior, they ring hollow. 

Our daily choices and interactions are going to display what our true beliefs are. When we prioritize living a good example over simply having strong opinions, we not only inspire others, but we also strengthen our own character and convictions. Alternatively, if we spend our time as a part of the “outrage machine” that has developed in our culture, but none of our time caring for those people, we show where our beliefs actually rest.

In a world that is often divided by conflicting opinions and ideologies, it is more important than ever to prioritize living a good example - embodying the values we believe in and demonstrating them through our actions. In this, we can be a force for positive change and inspire others to do the same.

"...And I will give you rest."

I remember gardening with my grandmother years ago. One job we did every year was picking about half an acre of purple hull peas. Looking back, it wasn’t a big job, but I remember finishing the job and having to walk around all hunched over for a while – my back had stiffened up while I was working, and I couldn’t stand up straight! In a lot of ways, grudges are like that. They force us into uncomfortable positions, and they can keep us there with a variety of different kinds of pain. In the end, though, grudges take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being and may not help us at all.


Holding a grudge is burdensome because it requires so much energy to maintain. Keeping a grudge means we are thinking about the person or situation, and how it hurt us. Not only is this mentally and emotionally draining, but it can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, and even depression. It interferes with our ability to move on and can prevent us from finding closure, healing, and even growth.


Grudges can also negatively impact our relationships. When we hold a grudge, it can be difficult to communicate with them and maintain a healthy relationship. This is especially true when we don’t get to choose those relationships – like with our co-workers.


Besides, holding a grudge is not an effective way to deal with hurt or wrongdoing. Instead, it's important to find ways to process and release our negative feelings. This can involve talking to a therapist, journaling, meditating, or practicing forgiveness. Many times, we will need help with any or all of these practices. Forgiveness, especially, is hard. But remember that forgiveness is not about excusing or ignoring the hurt, but rather about releasing the negative emotions associated with it.


Letting go of grudges isn’t easy, and it will take time, but it can free you from the burden you carry and help you move on with your life.

What steals your ability to enjoy your blessings?

Over the years, many writers have claimed different things are the “thief of joy.” Time, age, anxiety, death, anticipation, worry, and many others. Certainly, each of those can steal your joy or poison your attitude. Comparison, also, steals your ability to enjoy your own circumstances. Either we compare ourselves to those who have less (which can make us sad, disappointed, haughty, or judgmental), or we compare ourselves to those who have more (which can cause jealousy, anger, resentment, shame, guilt, or a number of other feelings). Comparison is easy for all of us, and we often do it in ways that support our own struggles or preconceptions. It can be much more difficult to see what we have, thank those who have helped us, enjoy our blessings, and seek to be a blessing to others in turn. Yet each one of those steps are doorways to joy, connection, authenticity, and gratefulness. Life is not just about joy, and joy comes from more than just stuff, but let us all strive to bring joy to others and live joyfully as well.

Too busy to look inside

There's a lot happening in the world from Thanksgiving to New Years. Work is thrown off, families are scrambled, and I often forget what the date is! (Especially between Christmas and New Years!) Even though it's so busy, and maybe because it's so busy, we can become overwhelmed with the stress and obligations instead of overwhelmed by the opportunities for love, support, friendship, hope, or peace of this season. This may be an especially difficult time in your life or in the life of someone you love. However your day has gone, however the holidays are going, you are loved. You are seen. You are heard. And your presence makes a difference.

(If you or a loved one are in crisis, please dial Lifeline at 988.)

Measuring Up

We live in a world dominated by ads. We usually don't forget this, but we usually don't think about the effects the constant bombardment of ads has on us. It is typical for advertisers to sell us their products by convincing us that we need it - that we aren't good enough (yet).

But! if we had their magazine/exercise bike/phone/meal/car/gadget, then we would be happy. It's obvious why they do this. It's also obvious, when we think about it, how silly that sounds. What is harder is understanding that we are enough right now. We don't need a gadget to be good enough. We are already created in the image of God. We are enough right now. Sure, we will continue to grow. We will learn and develop and mature (we hope). But those things don't make us more worthy. 

And when we run across the person who thinks we are too much? Who want us to shrink back, to hide, to change, or to be less so that they will like us, as if our value is based in their perceeption or opinion? As Elyse Myers says, "go find less."

3,000 miles For a Turkey Leg?

Have you ever gotten so caught up in the details of something that you completely missed the reason you were doing it at all? I've done that. I've gotten so focused on getting a meal "right" that I forget my family actually needs to eat some time in the next few hours! This kind of thing can be difficult at the holidays - Thanksgiving especially. We get so caught up in having the perfect turkey, potatoes, pies, table setting, or whatever that we forget the reasons we are together and the wonderful opportunity we have to be thankful. I think we would probably have a much better Thanksgiving with pizza and sandwiches than with a feast and all the stress that goes with it. Besides, the dishes are so much faster if you just eat with napkins! Especially if your family travels a long way, it's important to realize there's no turkey on earth worth a cross-country trip. We travel to be together. What can you do to make the holidays more personal this year?

The Other Side

There are days where I'm working hard to just get things accomplished at all. It may not be perfect. It may not be pretty. But I tried. And the message gets across. Those are days I need grace. I'm sure you have them, too. Days where you don't have enough letters or spoons or bandwidth or whatever analogy you use. Other people have those days, too. We all need grace every day. We need grace from one another. The grace to be imperfect and accepted. The grace to be loved for who we are. We need grace from ourselves. Grace to not be our optimal self every day. And most of all, we need grace from God. We need to know that the One Who created us, Who knows us better than we know ourselves, loves us and wants to be with us.

More Grace

For a lot of us, grace is a word used for musicians, monarchy, or meals. Maybe athletics. But it's not a word we use very often for the way we treat other people. This is especially true when we are driving! We will often recognize the reasons behind our own mistakes or unusual decisions (have you ever driven with a full crock pot of chili in the car?) But we have a harder time recognizing when others need that same grace. An exercise I was taught years ago was to imagine the circumstances that would help explain another person's difficult behavior. Why would a person need to drive so fast? What could be happening in a person's life that would cause them to get that frustrated with another person? What would cause this person to care so much about such an inconsequential thing? once I figured out what Could be happening, it became easier for me to extend grace regardless of what had actually happened.

You Are Powerful

It's election time again. And regardless of party affiliation or job responsibility, we all hope our representatives will use their time in office working to empower us. Certainly, we can point out any number of powerful people who have used that power for selfish reasons (this is true in any field). We forget sometimes how powerful we can be. We forget how often we can choose to build up and encourage. We forget how powerful kind words can be. No matter how much power you have, use it to benefit others - especially when they are different from you.