Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh my Goodness

KXAN was covering David's memorial service tonight. It's a beautiful portrayal of David. Enjoy the video..I'll probably update it to the one from the 10 p.m. broadcast. It shows more of the coverage from the Memorial Service. Lastly, here is the link to Donald Miller's blog site, which has the eulogy he spoke tonight. p.s. The photo in the corner is David's truck parked inside Journey at the reception after :-). Also, read my tribute to David below. David, thank you so much for all the love and lessons!!! Oops and I almost forgot, here's the link to the eulogy. Click here

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Champion

This post was actually written, Wednesday, December 30; the day of David's Memorial.

One of my favorite lines in a contemporary movie is one very simple, and one that may or may not be actually true. The line goes, "The Greeks didn't write obituaries-they only asked one question when a man died; did he have passion."
Passion is the driving force for any of us...the passion to care, the passion to love, the passion to it a gage for success of one's life as perhaps the Greeks felt? I don't know. But what I do know is that my friend and pastor, David Gentiles had great, great passion. He felt things strongly. He loved strongly and he cared strongly. All the while, remaining extremely humble and unassuming. Writing about David is hard for me. This is something I wanted to do since Friday, Dec 18; the evening he died. But never did, and now even struggling to write. If I write about him in the past tense, then I'm professing that his physical presence is no longer with us anymore. Something very hard to swallow. Something very hard to come to terms with.
Over the last week and a half, I've remembered every conversation and interaction with him. I remember planning a thank you dinner with him; a remember sharing my poems with him; a remember a shared moment of God's clarity and light when I went back to school; a remember teasing with him (he had such a good sense of humor); I remember running to him when I was upset or troubled...the list could go on and on. And what's so remarkable is that not only for me, but for dozens upon dozens, hundreds rather or so people could say the same thing.
David was humble. I'm trying to remember all of David. Those times when I know I annoyed him, or he bothered me; as well as, the touching moments of understanding. He sometimes shared that he questioned his purpose or his impact. My experience with him is that he loved to have fun but equally was private and reserved...he could separate himself at times and even be a little melancholy. But, this never lasted long. David was a rock for others. When he talked to you, he never held an agenda. He was always patient, honest and kind. Simple words cannot encompass the impact and purpose this man held for others. Simple words cannot encompass the impact and purpose this man held for me.
Once I sat next to David at a funeral. After telling him to scoot over because he was sitting where I wanted to sit, he obliged with goodness in spite of my insolence. And then, in the middle of the service, something touched his spirit and he teared up (David could cry easily and often did :-) ), I took his hand and whispered to him, "Only a man that's so close to God, could feel things so strong." That statement was so true about David...David chose to be close to God...he lived the good news of Christ with every breathe he took. He left himself open to God's Spirit and direction. I could give a multitude other examples of his goodness and the time he gave of himself unselfishly to others.....
I'll end this post with something he wrote thanking the people who worked on getting the warehouse up to city codes and a functional space.


I once had a friend who would get into a crowded elevator, and after the doors closed he would turn around to face the rest of the riders and declare, “Well, I guess you are wondering why I called this meeting!” There is no such uncertainty about why we called this meeting tonight…you (the collective you) are the very reason that we are now sitting having this dinner in this wonderful space that God has provided for us. You painted, you cleaned, you hammered, you measured, you drilled, you provided food, you prayed and you made it possible for this community to gather to scatter, and have a place to scatter from. “Thank you” is much too small and cliché a phrase to adequately express how immensely grateful we are for your time, energy, love, passion and sacrifice…but it will have to do…along with this chicken dish, of course. Thank you…and THANK YOU GOD!"

Thank you God for David, who was our champion, our rock who gave us his energy, passion and sacrifice. Words cannot adequately express how grateful we are that he touched our lives. I cry today because of both the gratefulness and the void he leaves in the hearts of others.

Lastly, here is excerpts from a eulogy sermon given by Greg Rickels for local Austin dance legend, Boyd Vance, who died in 2005. These words are very comforting to me. When I substitute Vance's name with David's, it describes my grief, our grief and who David was. Ironically, the beginning and ending of the excerpts are attributed to words by Don Miller. David influenced Miller's life profoundly as a youth and who became like a father for Miller.

The night Boyd Vance died I could not sleep. Many of us couldn't. It was so hard to shut our eyes that night. I sat up in my living room, and began reading a book that I had just received by Don Miller. The book is entitled Blue Like Jazz. On the very first page are these words: "I never liked Jazz Music because Jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theatre in Portland one night when I saw a man playing a saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked Jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It's as if they are showing you the way." It was as if Miller was speaking to me, or the Holy Spirit was, about this man, who had just passed, who we loved so much. Our brother, Boyd Vance, on countless occasions, closed his eyes in love of his craft, and in the process opened the eyes of so many. In fact, the number of changed lives, the number of those who could now love something, because of him, is infinite, unknown. Some may not even know it themselves, that this small man, with a huge heart, and not just a few opinions, had moved them to a new place. He indeed did show us the way.

Of course, Boyd would have never seen it that way, never agreed with that. He was rather humble, for all of his talent and skill.

Sadly, Boyd will not see 89, not here. I am profoundly sad about that, profoundly and selfishly sad about that. I know you all share that with me. His parting leaves a hole in my, and in my community of faith, and in my community in which I live. I miss him dearly. We all do. He didn't see 89 but, and this is what we celebrate today, he will see eternity, and someday we will see him.

Like so many of you, I look back on moments, just weeks ago, with Boyd, and wonder about life, the tenuous nature of it. His unwanted, but certainly realized, gift to all of us in these last few days, since April 9th, is not to take so quickly for granted this life. In this last week, goodbyes have been a little more intentional and heartfelt, tinged with a bit more grief than normal. We look into the eyes of the ones we love and keep ourselves fixed a bit longer than before. We treat each other with a bit more consideration.

That, most likely, will wear off after a while. It has to, really. We will, hopefully, keep just enough to make our lives a bit more full, but it is difficult to stay in that awareness for long. Distance from our mortality is something that helps keep us sane. This one may take a little longer.

I will miss his performances, on and off stage! I simply miss him, period.

I will miss him for the way he loved children. I will miss how he shared himself with them. I will miss him for his generosity in material and spirit. I will miss how he loved his heritage and sharing it, and sharing it in a way that every person, of every color, of every station in life, loved to hear it too. You can add to the list, and all of us could go on and on.

As I sat in my living room, late at night, I could not help but think of him when I read those words, "I never liked Jazz Music because Jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theatre in Portland one night when I saw a man playing a saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked Jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It's as if they are showing you the way." But it doesn't end there; there were just a few more. Miller finished with these words: "I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened."

Boyd, you, my friend, happened to me, you happened to us. We here today are so grateful for it. You have taught us to love many things, by our watching you love those things. Your eyes were closed, so our eyes could be opened. You have done it for us one last time. You have taught us there is resolve, in the things we do, in the way we love, in the God we know.

Boyd, until we meet again, until we hear that sweet voice, and see your warm smile, and gaze into those sparkling mischievous and marvelous eyes, go in peace, and know you go with our most profound admiration, our heartfelt thanks, and our eternal love.

David, go in peace...may we carry the torch of your life, and as you prayed over me, may we be equal to the challenge...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wow!! This is what I call Holiday inspiration :-).

View more news videos at:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Clever way to think about something new....

I saw this on today's Times...I thought it was cleverly done and brought a message worth thinking about. Take a look....easiest way is to click here :-).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Must Blog...

Recently, I took a pretty bad fall that has left me not my self in many ways. In the midst of whining about the pain and the fog, and not being myself. I stumbled (excuse the pun) upon this video. It's Dave Matthew's video for the song You and Me. I really liked the concept and theme. Like, really found the concept and theme deeply profound, and one that goes quite well with the series of thoughts I started a few weeks ago. Let me know what you think. :-).

Dave Matthews Band - You & Me (Official Music Video) - The most amazing bloopers are here

Friday, November 6, 2009

Forgiveness, Healing and Spirtual Abuse, or is it the other way around

My intention was to write with a little more frequency when I got the idea of my next writing series. Best laid plans of mice and men, as they say. School and busyness of papers and reading assignments take precedent; but when I woke up this morning and saw a post of a new blog I frequent, called the carnival in my head. The person who writes it is the co-pastor of a church called The Refuge in the Denver area. I've liked what I've read on it so far, and this morning was no exception. The writer, Kathy, talked about Spiritual Abuse and the pain people experience from bad church experiences, experiences from people. I can theorize through all I've read/studied in school on the reasoning, etc., but it's (Spiritual Abuse) an area that needs addressing. The pain is still real and raw in many circumstances. Kathy gives an account of one woman's story. It's worth a read, especially in light of the future posts I'm planning on diversity and learning from one another, incited from my friend Nikki's senior sermon. Click here to go directly to the post and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

You can win the Easiest/Best Bread Book ever!!

My friend Beth is having a contest to win a free copy of the book, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day!! Please visit her blog by clicking here!. She talks a bit about the book and her success with some of the recipes. She even puts a link to a video where you can try the bread making technique for free. To enter her contest, all you have to do is leave a comment and write down my name in the comment section that you found out about her contest through me. It's that easy. Hope you win. If I win, I just might share. :-). Good Luck!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Park your donkey for a minute and look around.

I know, I know, it's been forever since I posted...part of the reason is because I wanted as many people as possible to see the first thing on my blog, my note titled, A Circle of Wisdom. (If you haven't read it yet, please take a moment to read it, or reread it, and give me any feedback that comes to mind. Your ideas are important to me.) So, I'm back from my hiatus from blog writing, and now I want to share bits and segments from my dear friend Nikki's senior sermon and my reflections upon it. Her sermon deeply moved me today for several reasons. The first reason was it's premise is near and dear to my heart. Namely, my focus of the importance of becoming united in our faith all the while keeping our diversity in tact; and seeing past the hurts and disappointments people, through the vehicle of religion, can exert on us . Impossible you might say...maybe not so much. I'm going to take this step by step. I'm going to include scripture, creeds, my understanding of what I learned in my New Testament class, and in my Old Testament class...what I learned in theology and from some of my favorite writers and poets. I might even end the series with a my own creed, and perhaps some of you can join in the writing of it. The title of this blog series, Park your donkey for a minute and look around.. This was a quote directly from Nikki's sermon and it stood out to me as a great play on words in light of the 1st century Christian juxtaposed with the 21st century person, Christian or otherwise.
The first thing to ponder: The pericope from Acts 2: 1-13, which Nikki's sermon was based upon. What does this passage mean to you? What words jump out? How does it apply to your life today?

Acts of the Apostles 2.1-13
The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. 7Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’, 13But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Circle of Wisdom

Last week I wrote a Facebook status that said, “Looking for ingenuity, inspiration and wisdom...”. I'm naming and enunciating that very same status with all of you now through this note. I am at a place in life, in my seminary journey namely, where I am needing to gather wise and imaginative people around me for advice and inspiration. Some aspects of my request come out of simply needing to help problem solve; some lie in the realm of needing rejuvenation from working so hard for so long without much true Sabbath in between. I'm looking for trusted people made up of different ages and backgrounds to gather around me in a circle of wisdom.

Glimpse of the Issue:

Two years ago I made a commitment to God, the Austin Seminary community, my home faith community and to myself to follow a calling and go to seminary. That first year I juggled teaching full time and school. I quickly discovered I could not do both together sane-fully :-). So, I put forth everything I had (sold my home and cashed in my TRS savings) to go to school full time and live on campus. Additionally, at the same time, I made the decision that I needed to switch degree plans to provide me with a more professionally balanced educational base that could potentially open more employment opportunities after I graduated. Financially and emotionally that was not part of the plan but I believed God's hand was upon me and somehow everything would work itself out. Along the way in the last year, God has given me confirmation that I'm where God wants me to be. Not only have I grown intellectually and spiritually, but I just completed a successful hospital internship and am currently interning in a congregational setting with nurturing and faithful people. I've made strides in wrestling with some of my inner conflicts to push my own self out of the way in order to be open and available to hear God's rhythms in and around others, which ultimately leads to having the pastoral skills to help others find God for themselves in spite of any brokenness.

With all that all said, even though I am working two campus jobs, receive a substantial tuition scholarship and small student loans, my original monetary means have just about run out. I am looking for a circle of wisdom to surround me with prayer and help me come up with creative solutions. That's the problem solving aspect. The flip side of the same coin is the aspect of what I call, infused refreshment. It's the encouragement of inspiration and knowing that support is given in acceptance, understanding and love. It's not the hand out but the hand up. It's the arm around the shoulder in prayer. It's seeing the finish line in the distance and knowing there's a glass of water being held out from the sidelines. It's sharing in a bit of healing fun. It's all reciprocal, grace-filled and God blessed, and thus much appreciated.

Please consider being apart of my circle of wisdom. I actually would like to have a get-together with folks soon where I can gather ideas and brainstorm ways I can “survive” and thrive in the next 18 months or so. (I hope to graduate in May 2011, but may be able to finish coursework as early as the end of the 2010 fall term. At the start of this coming spring semester, I'll have 125 credits completed toward the 180 needed to earn a MDiv., so that means I'll have 55 credits left to graduate after this coming January, each course being typically six credits each. )

Circle of Wisdom

If you're willing to be apart of the meeting circle, please leave a comment to indicate that and your availability. If not, I would be blessed by a note of encouragement, and or an idea you can share with me. Please include me in your prayers and how I might pray for you in return in Christ's love.

Much, much love,

Monday, September 21, 2009

International Peace Day

In honor of International Peace Day, here's a fun yet practical video,


And, here's a cookie recipe thrown in, and the cookies are called, what else but, World Peace Cookies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Everyday Justice: A Review

Martin Luther King Jr. writes in From Where Do We Go From Here, “All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasury of ideas and labor to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed. ...We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women. When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge which is provided for us by a Pacific islander. We reach for a soap that is created by a European. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese or cocoa by a west African. Before we leave for our jobs we are already beholden to more than half the world....We are inevitably our brother's keeper, because we are our brother's brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Julie Clawson addresses exactly what Martin Luther King Jr. speaks of here in her new book, Everyday Justice. Clawson’s book brings thoughtful reflection and awareness to some of the most profound and obscure breaches of justice that plague the world today. Some of the topics Clawson includes are the injustices found in coffee, clothing, and cocoa production, the car industry and the impact of oil consumption upon the environment, and even the rampant amount of waste created by a consumer society. The target audience of the book is the Christian living in America. Clawson claims that the Christian, who desires to follow the lessons of Christ and the principles of social justice within Christianity, must start to become aware and take responsibility for how consumption choices contributes and sets the stage for many of the human rights atrocities in the world today. But the book is not just for the Christian, it’s for the socially and ethically conscious individual who wants to take, as Clawson says, small steps toward a better world. It suggests small steps toward a future free of exploitation. It suggests small steps toward building a better future.

Given the controversial nature of some of the topics addressed in this book, some may criticize Clawson for not addressing all sides of every issue (the global warming debate, or the relative merits of fair trade, for instance). But given the limited scope of the book (only 206 pages) and the audience intended, it seems that Clawson’s purpose is not to argue every issue in minute detail, but instead to give practical advice for ordinary people. With every chapter, Clawson lays out the issue and provides practical real life scenarios, vignettes which she calls “Everyday Practitioner”, highlighting the individual inner conflict as well as specific “everyday” ways readers can make a difference. At the end of each chapter, she also provides recommendations of books, films and websites to look to for further information . On the chapter of Waste, she even gives a photography website that depicts a pictorial display of the impact of trash.

In conclusion, Clawson opens and closes the book with the directive, “Don’t Panic”. Yes, today’s global issues of injustice are vast and complicated but while there is no end all immediate solution, Clawson helps provide ways the individual, you and me, can play a role in helping to alleviate the injustice. Whether that is supporting the local farmer in buying local produce, recycling or buying fair trade coffee and chocolate products, the action provides a message that injustice is not tolerated. In many of Martin Luther King’s speeches, he often quoted from his book, Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, “Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet...we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have to do this. We must learn to live together as brothers. Or we all will perish as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in the inescapable network of mutuality” Picking up Clawson’s book will help make the brotherhood of man one step closer to becoming a reality. Here is a direct link link off Amazon for purchase, click on me

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Stages of Love

As I try to get adjusted to a new schedule and changes in life, and quite frankly feeling pretty disoriented right now, I remember back to something I learned this past summer from my CPE friend Dale. The way out of human suffering and thus being close to the divine nature of God (reaching the house of God) is done in the following ways according to the Buddhist:

Metta - Loving Kindness
Karuna - Compassion
Mudita - Joy (Need to be joyful...only bringing joy to others)
Upeksha - Equanimity

These things are called in Buddhism, the Brahma Viharas, or the Houses (Abodes) of God, the Divine. Dale explained that it's a subjective reality that does not exist separate from humanity. It's another way of seeing life. Something to think about.

As a silly aside, the juxtaposition of my life right now and this concept reminds me of the classic musical scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head. Okay, maybe it's a stretch but nevertheless, a classic childhood favorite and who can doubt that Paul Newman does not bring shared joy :-).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Welcome to the New

I have not blogged for what seemed like weeks. Fresh start today. Today is the first day of the new semester. New classes, new experiences....and drag, what comes with it all, getting used to a whole new schedule. It also includes new discipline. With classes, working two campus jobs and a church internship, I enter overwhelmed but not daunted. Albeit, a part of me is holding my feet a bit firm not wanting to go any further, digging them into the dirt, afraid of getting too close to the edge of the precipice....What happens if I fall! The new is scary. This past Sunday, my home church had a blessing for me as I start my church internship this school year at another church. I brought my friend Lindsay with me. (As myself, it was her last Sunday to go where ever she wanted before she started her SPM requirement, so I was honored that she came to my church with me.) Lindsay and I met two years ago when we attended our seminary orientation. Even though I commuted my first year and she lived on campus, we maintained the connection we started at orientation. Our friendship grew and changed (cemented) this past year when I moved onto campus and went to school full time. She is very dear and like a sister (even our dogs are dear friends). When I met her, I was in a completely new venture. I was just trusting God. I had no idea about what the future may hold. Entering my third year of seminary, I remember how God gave me the gift of her friendship and how that gift blossomed. Totally unexpected. I enter the new, trusting God will take me to the unexpected and yet things will continue to come together...change, adapt and blossom. And, as one of my professors wrote me recently, I will thrive in the new. And, as in the prayer that I received this past Sunday, with God's grace, I will be equal to the challenge. Welcome to the new. I just heard a bird outside my bedroom window signaling in a new day...and so it begins.

Monday, August 24, 2009

CPE....the best of times and the worst of times

I know; it's been forever since I last posted. Thank the CPE experience for that and it's aftermath of sheer, unadulterated exhaustion. On that note, here is a very short synopsis (extremely hard to do) about my travels this summer in the land of CPE, which I wrote for the first issue of Kairos, the APTS student newsletter.

I recently came across a word I’ve never seen before. The word, susurrus (pronounced soo-sur-uhs), means a soft murmuring, rustling sound, or whisper. The imprint of one’s summertime hospital internship story , also known as CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), is unique and indelible on one’s ministerial path in the life-altering way that only God could susurringly do. It’s the same rustling of God that confirms that life will never quite be the same again because of the experience attained. Toward the end of CPE, a fellow intern and I joked that the day we graduate from CPE was the day we meet Jesus, the Eschaton itself. This same friend even went so far to call the CPE experience, Priest Boot Camp. Although arduous, for me the blessed triumphs far out weighed those moments of despair. I discovered new capabilities within myself through CPE. I learned what it meant to inhibit a growing sense of pastoral identity and authority. I learned how the pastoral role could fit as a team player with interdisciplinary hospital and medical support staffs. I learned how to minister one-on-one with people with different demographics and of different religions; and to those in crisis; and in those breathtaking moments of honor, whether that was being with a woman that delivered her baby unexpectedly on the way to the hospital, or grandchildren telling their grandmother, recently taken off life support, detailed stories of how she enriched each of their lives in love. CPE also meant dealing with vulnerability head-on. It was through becoming aware of my blind sides that I was able to take this newly bred honesty and allow an emerging relationship to form in acceptance of myself, and how I can better relate to others. Finally, CPE gave way to God’s susuration to trust for a future and a hope.

Monday, August 3, 2009

We try to "fix" the world

One of the things I've learned in CPE this semester is not to "fix" others or a situation. By all means one can help others find meaning and help for themselves but we cannot do it for them. My friend Nikki wrote a sermon a couple of weeks back on this exact topic. Let me know your thoughts and hope you enjoy the read.

The Church Doesn’t Need Your Commodore 64, or What Are Your Family Priorities?

This summer, we’ve been looking at the stories of David and trying to discover what we can learn about ourselves, and our families, through these stories. So far, we’ve been challenged not to pigeon hole ourselves, or others, into rigid roles. We’ve been encouraged to live into trying out new dances for ourselves, as well as, to honor the dances of others. We’ve been reminded that we are called to live, and even to disagree, in love. We’ve been asked to move beyond our comfort zones realizing that God does not want us to be a stagnant people, but rather a people of change. And finally last week, we looked at David’s imperfect family life and reminded ourselves that the people of the bible were not perfect – just like we are not perfect. Yet we are all part of God’s good story.

Today, I have the honor of sharing with you the story of David and the building of the temple – well really the conception of the idea of building a temple, or house, for God.

But before we get, there I have a confession. I’m not sure if you know this about Tim, but he is very organized when it comes to his sermons. He has his scriptures, themes and topics laid out months in advance. So it was no surprise that when he originally asked me in April to preach for him today that he also provided me his initial outline for the sermon. I read the first line…David lives in house, God lives in tent and then I read his suggested sermon title The Church Doesn’t Need your Commodore 64, or What Are your Families Priorities? I remember thinking, “oh this one is going to be easy.” I mean I remember this story from grade school – David takes care of his own needs first before taking care of God. God gets upset. David’s priorities are all wrong. Fast forward to today. Where are our priorities? Get them straight. Amen. Phew thank goodness that sermon is over!

So being the good responsible seminary student that I am, I sat down last Sunday and actually read today’s scripture. Imagine my surprise, when the story that I recalled from my childhood did not exactly match up with the story that I was reading. I spent an hour searching for the version that I recalled…I didn’t find it. It’s amazing what happens when you actually read the Bible. I don’t know about you, but when I take the time to read the Bible sometimes I actually see things in a different way…or see things that I missed before… or see something that someone (thank you grade school Sunday school teacher!) forgot to tell me or glossed over or maybe they really did tell me but I wasn’t listening.

The more I read and struggled with the differences of my initial understanding of this story and what I was reading, I realized that Tim’s outline didn’t fit so well to what I felt God was calling me to share.

Now don’t go back to Tim and tell him that I think he is wrong! The church still does not need your outdated commodore 64 home computer from the 1980s. And I still think that this story is about priorities and values. I just see it in a different light now.

If you recall, the original twelve tribes had settled in the promised land. The ten tribes that
settled in the north were known as Israel. The remaining two tribes settling in the south were known as Judah. To make matters confusing, collectively, all of the tribes together (that is all 12) are called the people of Israel. So we have to be careful when we say Israel. Are we talking about the whole twelve or the northern subset of ten tribes? – confusing stuff, I know. Nonetheless, Saul is king over Israel, the whole. He dies. Judah, the two southern tribes, recognize David as king. Israel (the ten northern tribes) recognize the son of Saul, Ish-ba-al, as king.

Long story short, Ish-ba-al is assassinated and David is made king over all of Israel (the whole twelve tribes). Although the twelve tribes were “God's children” it is evident that they were variations in their political loyalties, religious customs and traditions. Imagine that! We don’t have anything like that in our modern world, do we? I mean, everyone in this room supports the same politicians, believe the same things, and practice the same way? Right? Don’t we? Hmm…

Well to bridge the gaps between the northern tribes and the southern tribes, David establishes Jerusalem in Judah as the political capital and spiritual center for all tribes. We read last week how he moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem in an attempt to form a common ritual between the north and the south.

So David has established Jerusalem as the permanent capital of all of Israel. As leader of this nation, he has a house built for himself -- a nice house of cedar. Cedar symbolizing strength and beauty and therefore demonstrating the power of God. So David is looking around his house admiring its beauty and strength, looks out the window and sees God living in – well -- a tent! For the ancient people of Israel, it was believed that God resided in the ark and the ark usually resided in a tent. As nomads, they had carried God with them everywhere. Once in the promised land, the people began to plant roots…to settle down…to build more permanent like homes. David thinks to himself, I live in this nice house, God definitely deserves to live somewhere better than a tent. I’m going to do the right thing and build God a house! He tells Nathan the prophet of his plans. Nathan agrees God deserves better …

and THIS is the part where God is supposed to be angry that David had his priorities wrong. That God's house should have been built first...enter the rage and anger of the Old Testament God…followed by David’s shame…but that’s not what we read.
God comes to Nathan in a vision or dream and tells him to ask of David “Are you the one to build me a house to live in?” “Have I ever asked you or anyone else to build me a house?” Uh-ooh! Did God really want a house? I mean it was a good idea, right? God deserves the best or at least the best we can offer God within the limits of our humanity. Was David wrong for wanting to do something for God? I personally don’t think so. I think where David missed the mark was that he did not include God in his decisions. He didn’t ask God, “how do you want to use me?”

How often are we guilty of that? How often do we act without first checking in with God? I mean we do a lot of really good things around here. We provide money to our local church and the church at large. We give special mission offerings for Global Ministries and other outreach organizations. We volunteer to help out with Vacation Bible School. We send our kids to youth camps and on mission trips. We write letters, send cards, and make phone calls. We serve as elders, deacons, Stephen ministers, musicians, Sunday school teachers, preparers, helpers, and so on. All very good stuff!

Outside the church some of us volunteer for the food pantry at Bethany Christian Church or serve meals downtown at ARCH. Many of us provide money to very worthy charitable organizations. We volunteer at our children’s schools. We care for our neighbors. We seek justice for the weak and underprivileged. We give our time, our talents and monies to worthy causes. Again, all very good stuff and all part of OUR mission to love God and love neighbors…But do we take the time to include God in our decisions?

Could it be that we are so busy doing good stuff --- stuff that is no doubt important – but still so busy that we are missing the one specific thing that God wants us to be doing? Or maybe, like with David, we are so busy trying to do good that we miss an opportunity for God to do something for us? In our story today, instead of wanting David to build God a house, God tells David that “the Lord will establish a house for you.”

The text doesn’t clearly say here why, but it is implied that if David builds a house for God then that may get in the way of the house or the kingdom that God wants to build for and through David. For you see, even a great king like David can’t do it all!

Many of you know that in addition to my seminary studies, I’m also pursing a masters of social work at the University of Texas. In the social work program we learn how to relate to people, counsel others, organize events, manage organizations, create policy, and more. Although all of the classes have been very insightful, by far my favorite class has been my Social Justice class.

Each week we attempted to take an honest look at the injustices of the society we live in: racism, sexism, ageism, able-ism, classism – and yes the list of –isms goes on and on. Of course we could not do justice (no pun intended) to each of the topics. Instead, we merely scratched the surface of such important issues facing our society. I left class every week so compelled to make a difference in that particular week’s topic. As you can imagine, I quickly become overwhelmed. How can I make a difference in all these areas? How can I possibly decide that one –ism, or issue, deserves more attention than another? Who has time to write letters, make phone calls, research which companies to boycott and which companies are safe to purchase from, organize petitions, participate in sit-ins, and so on. I mean everything is so important because everyone is so important.

I found myself so overwhelmed that I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t do anything. Stuck. Drowning in feelings of urgency of need and shame for my inability to do anything. It was just all too much. Until one day my spiritual director and friend said “Stop. Did God really ask you to take on every issue and personally solve them all?” “Have you asked God what part, if any, you are supposed to take on?”

“Well, um no” I replied. I hadn’t really thought of or even asked God what, if anything, that God specifically wanted me to do. Guilty like David.

As Christians, I firmly believe in God's commandment that we love God and love our neighbors. I’m not suggesting that we necessarily stop doing the good things that we do. What I am suggesting is that we line up our priorities with the priorities God has for our lives. In many ways, our actions may stay the same, the difference is God's inclusion. The only way I know of including God is to ask and then listen. Loving God implies relationship with God. Successful relationships must include communication, attention, and time. Without such elements we really don’t have relationship at all.

May we seek to do good in the world based on the priorities that God holds for each of us. Amen!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Small Ways that Lead to Huge Impacts through Music

The transformation quality of music is one of the palatable ways people make meaning out of life intrinsically. The sharing of music and what it means to us is one small way music makes a huge impact in the lives of others. It's the vulnerability that comes when we share our lives and our experiences through the music that touches our souls in reflection of the culture in which we live. That's a mouth full I know but we can all agree that music enriches us and teaches us. It can guide us too. For many including me, U2 has impacted lives through their music. U2 has also impacted Christianity. A good friend of one of my professors at school and a recent Facebook friend of mine, Greg Garrett has recently published a book through Westminister John Knox Press that highlights U2's impact on society, Christianity and on individuals. From Publisher's Weekly from the Amazon page on his book says, Rock music fans who have ever wondered if their faith and musical taste could ever be paired will be intrigued by U2's story and Garrett's theological analysis of the band's music.

Tonight, Greg listed a recent interview he did to promote the book on Public Radio. Below is the caption verbiage and link to the interview he did. Here's the caption on the KUT webpage as it introduces the interview of Greg Garrett's new book, We get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2: Sometimes music and the lyrics go beyond a catchy tune, and make a real impact. Austin-based writer Greg Garrett says while U2 is not a “Christian band” per se, their faith definitely leaks into their work. Greg Garrett is the author of We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2. — Jennifer Stayton

Check out the interview (click on KUT webpage above). It's short and and the interview is set for broadcast on the KUT (Austin's NPR affiliate) program, Morning Edition.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Simple Tugs at the Heart

The video below is currently being highlighted on Yahoo. It's absolutely amazing. This is the message I posted on Facebook to go with the video, "This dancing piece is absolutely amazing, touching and beautiful. The choreographer, Tyce Diorio, created this dance for a friend of his who was battling breast cancer. The piece was shown on the program, So You Think You Can Dance. It will take your breath away." Seeing pieces of creative artistry like this one is one of the small ways people can make huge differences in the lives of others. It's the simple things that bring glimmers of beauty. These reflective sparkles of God's grace and beauty through the human spirit are also ways small things can make huge differences.

Another example and aspect: If you look at Michelle Brunner's blog, she is doing a series on simple things. Look for her blog entry for July 23. See what I mean. :-).

Here's the video:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An interesting observation & simply water

A couple of nights ago, I was talking to one of my oldest and dearest friends, Claire. We're talking about the changes the Internet brings to society. She was pointing out her opinion that sometimes we cast such a wide net into the world, such easy access to information and communication, that sometimes it distracts us from those people that are closest to us....and thus ultimately distracts us from focusing our energies on one soul at a time, a community at a time, one neighborhood at a time. Our brains are not wired for the constant haphazard and chaotic dealings the Internet and social network sites tend to create (The downside of Facebook, you're so busy finding what others are doing that you're not listening to the person speaking next to you.) And this really resonated with me, she said, "Humanity has lost touch with its own humanity, trying to do too much, too fast." A number of years ago, I did all this research on the small ways people make huge differences in others lives. And the juxtaposition of that with the changing face of American Christianity. I interviewed heads of non-profits and church pastors. What I would like to do in the next few weeks is share some of this data and highlight recent ways people can make differences, locally and globally, all in the grace of making profound differences in others lives. I want to explore how the Internet, used purposefully, can help people make a difference. This first post is from an article I saw in the Times at the beginning of this week that talked about the non-profit called charity: water. A group of former co-teachers I taught with and I were having a conversation at the end of the 2008 school year. We were talking about what demarcates true poverty in the world. Definitively, true poverty from this standpoint is the lack of access to clean water. What struck me about this non-profit is that it helps people in under-developed nations learn to build wells so they can have access to clean water. The average cost per donation: $20. So, in honor of this first post of this series of thoughts, here's a link to the article; and here's charity: water's website,
And lastly, here's a few minute video on the charity and it's impact.

Small Ways to Make Huge Differences
charity: water

Friday, July 10, 2009

Buffy vs Edward

This video I found on one of the blogs I circulate. It's also circulating around the web. It's actually quite good (especially for a Buffy fan) and worth a look and a handful of minutes to waste. Sorry Twilight fans but Buffy is just too.....well you watch and tell me what you think :-). One more thing...look below the video for some thoughts from the creator of the video...interesting take and one I just might agree with...

From the designer of the video, rebelliouspixels, "Read my post on why I made this remix via WIMN: In this re-imagined narrative, Edward Cullen from the Twilight Series meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's an example...Read my post on why I made this remix via WIMN:
In this re-imagined narrative, Edward Cullen from the Twilight Series meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's an example of transformative storytelling serving as a pro-feminist visual critique of Edward's character and generally creepy behavior. Seen through Buffy's eyes, some of the more sexist gender roles and patriarchal Hollywood themes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed - in hilarious ways. Ultimately this remix is about more than a decisive showdown between the slayer and the sparkly vampire. It also doubles as a metaphor for the ongoing battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21ist century."

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Human Spirit

Three summers ago, maybe it's four now, I interviewed a number of people of the small ways people make huge differences in others' lives. Note to self; I need to start posting the findings of the research and interviews from that summer. I digress for a second. This morning I was checking Facebook and I noticed my former department chair Vanessa posted a link to an article about a young man who survived devastating injuries from a fire that destroyed his home this past December (10 days before Christmas). This change in his life has forced him to give up on some high school dreams but not on life and what his future can hold. The article also shows the impact of others' kindness. My friend Vanessa and her students started a club based upon the movie, Pay It Forward. The club raised 17,000 dollars to help this young man and his family get back on their feet. This article from the Austin American-Statesman is truly inspirational from the standpoint of the resiliency in the human spirit, and in the kindness of people. Here's the link to the article.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prayer of St. Francis

This is Sarah McLaughlin's version of the Prayer of St. Francis. I found this beautiful video off YouTube that uses her version. There is some absolutely stunning imagery as part of this video. Enjoy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

More Birthdays James, Richard and Belated to George....

A couple of last Birthdays of famous artists. Today is the birthday of James Van Der Zee who lived from 1886-1983. He was an African-American Photojournalist who was famous for documenting Harlem in the 1920s. One of his pictures is set above. Yesterday, June 28, was the birthday of Richard Rodgers. Rogers lived from 1902-1979 with a career that spanned more than 60 years. Some if his most famous work was with his partnership with Oscar Hammerstein. Some of their most notable work among so many others was The King & I, South Pacific, Oklahoma and the Sound of Music. For his time and place Rogers was never afraid to lift out the evils of discrimination and lift up always hope for the future. I've placed a video of Hugh Jackman (the love of my life..ha) singing Oh' What a Beautiful Morning as he played Curley in the west end London version of Oklahoma. And lastly, last week held the birthday of George Abbott who lived until the age of 107, dying in 1995. Abbott directed some of the best Broadway musicals and golden era films. He directed such classical works as, Pal Joey, Wonderful Town, Damn Yankees, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Once Upon a Mattress, among others.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


My friend Beth made-over the look of my blog....kind of like that Home-Improvement show on cable where two friends make over each other's place. It's been kind of fun...For before and after shots, look at her blog where she also gave the details of how she did each step. A link to her site is also on the sidebar to the right under, C. Beth's blog. By the way, I've added some other blog sites to the sidebar: One, Maggie's Austin that highlights out of the way restaurants that you might normally miss, or new ones, and upcoming bands and musicians coming to Austin or playing in Austin, like for example one of my favorite bands from Athens Georgia, Widespread Panic. Second, is a blog called ErzaPound Cake and it's a cooking blog; and then I put a blog called Operation Beautiful, all about ways to recognize inner beauty while taking care of yourself physically. And lastly, I put a blog that highlights my friend Melea's year of study in Zambia. So, here's also Beth's blog site for the makeover details :-), C. Beth blog. Let me know your thoughts on the makeover :-). Before and after shots included. Before: Photobucket
....After, of course, you're looking at it...silly me :-).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just too cool...

Currently being performed in Central Park, New York, is William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The epitome, to me, of summertime beauty....the combination classical lines of Park and one of the greatest English playwrights of all time. This production stars Anne Hathaway as Viola and Audra McDonald (one of my favorite singers) as Olivia. This picture (above) is from the New York Times, Friday, June 26. I wish I lived in New York.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


From the Partridge Family....

And, this old commercial...

Michael Jackson

When I heard about Michael Jackson dying, I thought I hope this troubled soul finally finds peace. Undoubtedly he was a very, very talented individual but maybe fame, fortune and his own brokenness got the better of him. This is how I want to remember him....when I was a little kid and he just a handful of years older...someone full of natural talent, still young and untarnished. Enjoy the memory of the Jackson Five singing, Never Can say Goodbye.

Women in Jazz

This is my original post for today. I heard this lady on the local Austin NPR station, KUT. Her name is Pamela Hart and she is phenomenal. She makes her home here in Austin. Enjoy this cut of a performance at the Paramount.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Norman Cousins and Spiritual Practice in the Ordinary

Today, June 24, is the birthday of Norman Cousins. Cousins lived from 1915-1990. He is considered an American Essayist and known for his editorial role of the classic periodical, the Saturday Review. He will be best known for his books on the healing power of laughter. One of his most famous, "The Celebration of Life: A Dialogue on Hope, Spirit, and the Immortality of the Soul." Some quotes by Cousin's, "Hope is independent of the apparatus of logic." And, "If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality." And one more, "Man is not imprisoned by habit. Great changes in him can be wrought by crisis - once that crisis can be recognized and understood. " and thus I can't resist some last thoughts, "Laughter is inner jogging; and, Life is an adventure in forgiveness."

Laughter could be considered a spiritual practice in some ways. Laughter is healing and can connect us to the presence of God. I think anyway. In my daily blog reading, I came across a suggestion on Christine Sine's blog site, Godspace (see my side panel for the direct link). It talks about spiritual practices in the ordinary things we do. In answer to what is spiritual practice in the ordinary things we do (connecting our everyday life to our faith), she presents a poem a friend of hers wrote on Spirituality in the act of taking a simple shower. Check out the poem called Shower Prayer by Maryellen Young. Here's the site address,, or click on the side panel link for Godspace and look at the June 24 entry. It's worth a look....holy in a beautiful and non assuming way. What everyday things do you do that exemplify your faith. I would be blessed to know.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Update from Monday

I only thought I was past it. I discovered last night that I had one pock (besides the one I knew was waiting to dry out more to be released back to my classes and clinical work...sorry if that sounds gross) in the crease of my right knee that was blistered. I was hoping and praying all day that it would start to change in form and see some indications of healing. But no change. Please pray. I've been out for almost a week now...restless and concerned that I will not be able to make up the time in the program. Thanks :-).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Discipline & 2 Birthdays last week

CPE has taken all my energy so to speak. It's a tremendous growth experience and a huge opportunity for which I am grateful, but completely draining.....and then at the end of last week I developed a latent (post 20 days) reaction to a vaccine. I got a "mild" case of the chicken pox. I still broke out all over and was uncomfortable; albeit the worst was being sent home and not being able to participate in any aspect of the the program for a week. Many of my friends know this portion of my story already. Now, I feel I'm past the reaction (all the pox are resolved as they call it) but waiting for the appointed time to commence where I left off. It's like the discipline of waiting on God...okay God I'm ready now, but then God says not so many stories in the Bible refer to this...Abraham and Sarah for one. And so, I wait with my at home to-do list and latent anxiety that all will be fine :-).

Two birthdays I didn't blog about last week. Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin had a birthday last week, as well as Lillian Hellman who wrote the Children's Hour. Stowe's masterpiece was Uncle Tom's Cabin, a story that changed history....a story that brought the travesty of slavery and the unalienable rights of freedom and justice for all people to light. In her obituary from July 2 1896, the writer said Stowe heard their stories and saw their wounds; she helped their flight. In her own words (written in the article), she said that the story of Uncle Tom was not hers, but given to her with the implication that the gift did not come from a earthly source.
Lillian Hellman who lived from 1905-1984 was one of the United States most famous playwrights who was subsequently blacklisted during the McCarthyism Era for not "rating" out her friends and colleagues as "communists". One of her most famous plays was the Children's Hour, where the issue of slander and belief was addressed. A startling story and one that is still true today.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Searching for a new look and Happy Birthday William

William Butler Yeats was born on this day, June 13, 144 years ago in Dublin, Ireland. (Yeats died in France in 1939. He was 74 years old.) Yeats is one of my favorite poets. One of my most favorites of his is the poem, The Second Coming.

"TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

To read more poems of Yeats, go to Happy Birthday WB!!
I have not written/blogged anything recently....lots of learning and changes as I progress in my summer CPE program. However, two things to get me writing again (I know I need this outlet of communication): 1) I'll highlight for awhile one person; artist, poet or great thinker, every time I post when the post coincides with a particular person's birthday, such as Yeats above. And, 2) Please give me ideas/knowhow for a new look to my blog. I think some newness might give me the motivation to start writing again, and get somewhat of a following, or at least a way to express myself through writing again. Thanks for your input in advance~

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Silly....but this blog needs some spice and dazzle

I saw this "goofy" symbol on my friend Beth's site this morning, and I thought, I need to try this. My site came up with a 'G' rating. And, I thought to myself, "Oh, I need to add something and up the appeal." Ha!! (Funny how a G rating equates to boring, or only for children....why do we need a R rating to get our attention as something that's valued....huh?). Anyway, click on the icon below and tell me what your blog was rated.

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cool , no make that soothing, quote

This was on my friend Stella's Facebook home page. It's a quote by one of the professors who teaches Greek and New Testament studies here at APTS. I wanted to remember this quote. After two weeks of finals, meetings, papers, and a healthy bout of exhaustion and depression, it seemed to signal light as it struck a unique and beautiful cord within me.
"We do not imagine/create the New and project it as a goal for striving, but rather begin with the new reality declared by God and grope for expression.." - John E. Alsup

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just Charming

I don't know why this looks so funny to me but it's me as a character from Star Trek. Wanted to post it to keep myself entertained while I stress out over finals....

Create Your Own

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Urbanism

I found this off the blog site, GodSpace by Christine Stine...from someone who had a home in the "burgs" and misses it very much, let me know your thoughts....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

P&J #1: The Anniversay of Columbine

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy in Littleton, Colorado. I write Littleton in the sentence because its ingrained in me as a good journalist but most Americans and many, many others in the world know exactly where this horrific event occurred. It changed the American psyche forever. I've had a strange fascination with reading about Columbine; albeit, what most strikes me is the survivor stories. Many of these survivors have turned the horror into messages of hope. Many, as Craig Scott (father of Rachel Scott), are teaching students tactics of kindness to overcome bullying and violence. I read recently in the New York Times that he's even taken his message into the corporate world. Amazing. For my new week of posting/bloging aspects of Peace & Justice, here is a website that highlights three survivors of Columbine and the positive non-violent methods they instill in their everyday lives. I encourage you to also check out the links of the article itself, Also, here is Scott's push to make a change in the grace of Peace and Justice, Lastly, several years ago I heard Craig Scott speak at Leander High School. Inspired, I wrote the following piece for the high school I worked at and printed it in the newspaper I advised. I know it's long but I hope you can take a few moments to look it over....(oh and incidentally, I've taken out references to the high school I taught at. Ironically, this high school almost went all the way to the State championship last year and won its district division title two years in a row.)

This past Saturday morning, I went to to realize that not only did the varsity football team lose again but saw the reality of a young school struggling for identity encapsulated on this website in five words, winless for two consecutive years. At first thought, this sounds pitiful but upon second, I knew that as any person, family, community, state, nation, or even a school's varsity football team and other self esteem woes is part of its journey only to be reversed at a moment’s notice.

This community has tremendous heart and an enormity of personality. These aspects are not always seen in the every day dealings of students, staff, faculty and administration. Everyday stresses cloud and misdirect the grounded truth of the adults molding the hearts and minds of young people and the young people receptive to learning and actively participating in the pursuit of becoming responsible adults.

No one high school is alone in this problem. High schools across the nation are in the same boat, so to speak. This past September, I heard the father of Columbine victim Rachel Scott speak on the problems that plague education today. Darrell Scott talks to high schools across the nation and has even talked to Congress. His theory is that the problem does not stem from potential school violence, video games or rock-in-roll music but from a lack of kindness and compassion at all levels. It’s a heart matter, not a testing to prove achievement matter, or how many wins on Astroturf and grass matter.

According to Scott, compassion can replace fear and violence all the while creating safer and more productive places for students to learn and achieve. Compassion is not saying hi to everyone but the heart behind it. In his address, Scott challenges all to start by erasing any prejudice that might exist in a person’s heart. He provides the heart-breaking example of Columbine victim, Isaiah Shoals, whose last words he heard in his young life was that of a racial slur and his last utterance was that of wanting his mother.

Scott’s second challenge was for students to choose positive role models and develop a sense of purpose and destiny. He provided his daughter Rachel as an example. Rachel reached out to those that are typically shunned by high school society; the handicapped, the picked on and the new. Scott spoke that Rachel provided profound opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives…small, simple things to show kindness and acceptance. He went on to remark that one should never be too tough or too cool to let someone show that they care.

Scott’s last challenge to his audience of students, administrators, faculty members and parents is to make a short list of those that have impacted one’s life in a positive way and tell them thank you and that they are appreciated. Right now do this exact thing; administrator to teacher; student to student; student to teacher; student to administrator; teacher to parent; write down 10 individuals and tell them how much they mean.

Negative environments, TAKS scores, athletic wins, academic advances and overall reputation can be turned on its head with small steps toward compassion and kindness. Accountability comes through care…it’s a heart matter. As Rachel Scott wrote in one of her last English essays, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” And so it is.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

The last push toward the end of the semester starts today, My whine is a want the semester to end but too tired to make the effort. So, I rely on history and remembering that the energy is found always found somewhere, as in seeing this video shot in Antwerp Belgium. Enjoy and a bit about the video, according to the original poster, "More than 200 dancers were performing there version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone to play the leading role, in the musical of "The Sound of Music". ). More traditional Peace & justice thoughts will return on Tuesday :-).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday...He is Risen, Risen Indeed

words by Sydney Carter, music traditional

I danced in the morning when the world was begun
I danced in the Moon & the Stars & the Sun
I came down from Heaven & I danced on Earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth:

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He!
(...lead you all in the Dance, said He!)

I danced for the scribe & the pharisee
But they would not dance & they wouldn't follow me
I danced for fishermen, for James & John
They came with me & the Dance went on:

I danced on the Sabbath & I cured the lame
The holy people said it was a shame!
They whipped & they stripped & they hung me high
And they left me there on a cross to die!

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back
They buried my body & they thought I'd gone
But I am the Dance & I still go on!

They cut me down and I leapt up high
I am the Life that'll never, never die!
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me -
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday...Serenity in Austin

Two thoughts stay with me this Holy Saturday: the first is insurrection...what does that word really mean and specifically in the scope of Jesus being considered an insurrectionist in his place and time, or even in our place and time?.....And, second how do we look at the character of Judas? Do we look at him demanding justice, or do we look at him through the lens of mercy?
The video for today is one I find by the band Flyleaf recorded after their recent trip for World Vision in Rwanda. They talk about peace, reconciliation and hope. Ah yeah, and it was recorded here in Austin during SXSW. Excellent.....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I have a few traditions on Good Friday that help bring me into contemplation of the day itself. I always need to listen to Andrew Lloyd Weber's Pie Jesu and Abraham, Martin and John by Dion for starters. (Sidenote: growing up in Los Angeles, I always remember that song 'Abraham...' being played on the radio on Good Friday. For me, this song represents our work in both the shadow and in the light of the cross) In the last several years in which I've lived toward the northwest corridor of Austin, I've gone to a noon or 3 p.m. service at a church off 620. Their stations of the cross are located in a wooded setting and to walk it with a couple of hundred people is in a word, cool. It's so quiet, except when the priest reads, yet you're in the midst of all these people who approach Christ's death on the cross differently. Some are families that visibly show their closeness, some are more charismatic as they genuflect in front of each station, while others are, like me, just simply reverent and reflective. At this outdoor walking of the stations of the cross, people also just come the way they are...simple, not sophisticated, loud or trendy, just grocery store ordinary. In an ordianry way, I have one last tradition, I always eat a fish sandwich somewhere :-). This year life is different and I will commemorate Good Friday differently too. In the midst of heavy reading assignments and gearing up for the end of the semester, I will have a more quiet day; campus service at 11, give to others from 3-6, and then my own special prayer time at 9. Oh and the fish sandwich, I ate that last, it's simple soup. :-).
Below is a sharing of my traditions and one new. Watch the Abraham, Martin and John video, it's a great reminder and reflection on the lives of MLK, Lincoln and John and Bobby Kennedy, the virtuous ideals they stood for...the second video is Pie Jesu song by Hayley Westenra. And, lastly the new...a short speech given on Good Friday by author and activist Shane Claiborne ("The Irresistible Revolution"). It's his shares experiences gained from a trip to Iraq in March 2003 with a Christian Peacemaker Team / Voices in the Wilderness delegation.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

a Maundy Thursday Blessing

The Farewell Tear
a feast of friendship
a story of betrayal
a memory of gifts given

you look with such intense love
on each one gathered there,
mist covers your deep brown eyes
as you hold each one in your gaze,
you close your eyes and I see
the farewell tear of friendship
as it follows the curve of your cheek.

you take the bread,
bless it gently, profoundly,
with old words and new.
(do you mean to say it is yourself?)

and then the wine,
again with words old and new.
(do you meant to say this, too,
is now yourself?)

you look again at each one there
and give the eternal gift:
“remember me and do the same”

like those around the table then,
so with us who gather now,
if we knew how close our hearts
are held inside of yours,
we would always be amazed
that you meant this for us, too.

how shall we ever be brave enough
to do what you have done,
when grief engulfs our every breath
and each memorial word
is laden with our loss?
-- Joyce Rupp

This poem was given to me by my spiritual director Jean yesterday..............and now, here's the second part of Wink.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ghandi Trifling part II - Wednesday of Holy Week

As part of my class, we've been reading Walter Wink's book, Engaging the Powers. Here is a snippet of Wink talking about living nonviolently.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ella's Birthday and a NonViolent trifling for Tuesday of Holy Week

Today is Ella's Fitzgerald's birthday, (1915-1959). Enjoy her rendition of the classic Gershwin favorite, The Man I Love. Also, in honor of my goal this week to write about nonviolence and what individuals can do to live more in line with Jesus' teachings of living a peace oriented and purposeful life of a nonviolent is a project that my Education in Peace and Justice class is doing. We are charged each week to do a "trifling" to test Ghandi's theory that we can cultivate nonviolence in ourselves by attending to the little ways in which we are constantly tempted to participate in violence and take advantage of the opportunities life gives us to develop a regular practice of nonviolence. In this assignment you can pray in a particular way, or fast from certain kinds of habits or thoughts that contribute to violence, like gossiping or cursing at the guy or gal that cut you off in traffic. It might be to start to recycle, or take a walk to a place that's close to your home instead of driving. My trifling has been to write an anger journal. I got this idea from Ghandi's grandson, Arun Ghandi. It's not to just write down and vent about anger, but to find solution out of your anger. Where is it rooted and how can you react differently next time you are in that situation. Now, I'm not an angry person but I can be emotional at times and this has made me just pause at what are my triggers. Are my emotions giving rise to violence against myself, ugly self-talk I would say to myself and never to another person, or negative judgments and thoughts about another person? In this Tuesday of Holy Week, what can your trifling be about? Look at Ghandi's list (on Monday's post) of sins and the add-ons to the list? Any triggers or ideas come to mind?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Week Starts: Monday

This is Holy Week and a week for contemplation...quiet high, a welcome for Christ to come in; remembering, a time to reflect and enjoy a supper, and lasting love and wisdom; despairing, feeling the depth of the the deep valley of a pit and the deep pain of the world's ails; and then quiet once again followed by exuberant rejoicing, an all soul knowing that God moves with us and through us (there is no barrier between God and humanity any longer) to bring healing and grace...and most ultimately to bring the encouraging and eternal demeanor of hope through Christ's love. A joyous day to realize He is Risen, indeed. But Sunday is not here yet, so for Monday, I will start with seven things Ghandi wrote that prevents us from living non-violently and promotes us to live a life spiritually deprived (what he referred to as the 7 sins of the world). These were taken from a speech given by his grandson, Arun Ghandi.

1) Wealth w/out Work
2) Pleasure w/out Conscience
3) Knowledge w/out Character
4) Commerce w/out Morality
5) Service w/out Humility
6) Worship w/out Sacrifice
7) Politics w/out Principles

And, I've personally added an eighth to this list, Rights w/out Responsibility

What would you add......

Friday, April 3, 2009

Palm Sunday

April 5, Palm Sunday....I thought for Holy Week, I would post either videos that held the memory of the day for me and, or post some thoughts on peace and justice, living non-violently. The first one here is Bon Jovi's version of the classic, Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. I heard an interview with Cohen on NPR Friday and when I looked up his wide breadth of work over the years, I found out he wrote this great song. I looked through many versions by different artists on YouTube until I settled on Bon Jovi. If you get a chance to do a YouTube search yourself, Allison Kraus did a beautiful rendition as well. Additionally, I've placed the lyrics to this song on this post. As we enter Holy Week, may you become clsoe to God in new, refreshing and engaging ways. Peace~

Hallelujah lyrics

Now, I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which are heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cool Giveway and Scattering Joy

My friend Beth's friend Erin is doing a give away for an inspirational pendant. Very Cool. This is the details from my friend Beth's blog, ....Erin (Tesori Trovati) is doing a giveaway of a W.O.W. (Words of Wisdom) pendant! On the front of the pendant is your initial, and on the back an inspirational quote. It's gorgeous.

Above is a picture of the pendant. If you enter, let Erin know that I sent you to her blog to enter the contest. Good Luck!!!
Oh and best part of all is that she writes a post about scattering joy, that's well, very inspirational. :-).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Me Mosiac

I, I, I, I, i put together this picture mosaic when I was tagged by a friend on Facebook. I found it pretty cool, so I wanted to share it and how I put it together, instructions plus answers, that go with the pictures to my blog. So, without further ado, here it is...

How It Works: (In other words, the instructions part as show on Facebook)

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search (
b. Using ONLY the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into Mosaic Maker. Change rows to 3 and columns to 3 (
d. Save the image and post it on this note!
e. If you're tagged, pass it on. And tag me.

The Questions: (My answers part that goes with the pictures)

1. What is your first name? Laurel
2. What is your favorite food? tacos
3. What is your favorite color? blue
4. Favorite drink? mimosa
5. Dream vacation? tuscany
6. Favorite hobby? walking
7. What you want to be when you grow up? chaplain
8. What do you love most in life? freedom
9. One word to describe you? caring

By the way, each picture corresponds to a number, right to for example, the far left picture (Laurel) represents me and the upper central picture is tacos and then the upper right is the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, in blue :-), and so forth and so on.....