Hope Tea



For Christmas, I received Thistle Farms’ Tea Kit. Inside a handmade pouch are four different types of tea, 10 honey sticks, 16 empty tea sachets, and a spoon. Purchasing this kit helped five social enterprises in four countries.
Hope Tea is the first tea I sampled, and it is delicious! This Ugandan black tea is smooth and tasty. I steeped it for about 3 minutes and added a honey stick because that sounded so good. It was a rich caramel color. This tea is awesome. I was delighted to see that Thistle Farms sells it as a stand alone product. Yum!

A bit more information found on the website. “Hope Tea is a social enterprise in Uganda patterning with local tea growers to provide holistic education to vulnerable youth who face such challenges as poverty, high incidences of HIV/AIDS, unemployment and socially sanctioned violence .”

Be the Church!

My heart breaks when I hear people say they can’t be who God created them to be and participate in the life of the church. And I believe this breaks God’s heart too.

God is the Source and Originator of Love. God loves you and wants you to be loved.

God created us to be in relationship. God wants you to be in healthy and happy relationships with others.

God created us with brains for thinking and questioning. God wants us to look critically at the Bible, at the world around us, and sometimes at each other, so we can all live in love and as Christ’s disciples.

What obstacles or barriers are we putting up that stop people from being part of the church community and experiencing God’s love?


O Love that will not let us go, help us to love each other as you love us. Help us to see each other as you see us. Help us to welcome each other as you welcome us. Break down the barriers that divide us. We want to make our churches places where all can feel at home, and we know this is only possible with your Spirit. In hope for a new day of acceptance and love, we offer this prayer to you. Amen.


Book Review-Great Figures of the New Testament


As one who commutes, I try to use my car time wisely. I was delighted to receive the gift of Great Figures of the New Testament by Amy-Jill Levine. Each of the 24 lectures are about 30 minutes long. This collection is part of The Great Courses series, and I highly recommend it.

Emotional Response-4

Scholarly Response-5

I first heard Professor Levine speak while I was seminary student. When she speaks her intelligence and depth of knowledge shines through and she speaks well to her target audience. In these lectures, she would refer back to something she’d already explained and also give you a quick reminder. This study is perfect for beginning Bible students as well as those who have studied the Bible for years.

She took stories and people I have studied and brought fresh insights. For example in the story of the Good Samaritan, she said that too often when we tell it we don’t emphasize how much the Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  “Who do you despise so much that you’d rather die than let that person help you?” Wow. That made me stop and think more about this story.

The CDs come with a course guidebook which gives you the scope, outline, suggested further readings, and questions for each lecture.

I would recommend these lectures for anyone who wants to dive deeper into the Bible. I would recommend these lectures for anyone who wants a refresher course with new insights into some of the most familiar people in the New Testament. I would recommend these lectures for Bible study groups who like to learn together and for individuals who prefer to learn alone. I highly recommend this course.

Worship Words-Psalm 27

Psalm 27-A Reading


This is a reading two parts. Reader One reads select verses of Scripture from the Psalm which are in italics. Reader Two reflects on the ancient words.


Reader One– The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Reader Two-I trust God. I am afraid. I admit it. I want to be brave like the psalmist instead I am scared.

Reader One-When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall.

Reader Two-I feel God’s presence in my life. Those who hurt me don’t always stumble. Sometimes, they are doing much better than I am.

Reader One-One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

Reader Two-I will ask these questions and share my fears. When I pray, I need to know God is listening.

Reader One-Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!

Reader Two-God, Are you still listening to me? Do you hear me? Are you tired of my questions?

Reader One-Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!

Reader Two-Are you there God? I am waiting and listening.

Reader One-I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Reader Two-Even when it is hard, I will keep believing in God’s promises. I keep believing that all will be well.

Reader One-Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Reader Two-I will wait.

Reader One-Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!


Practicing Lent

Once again we find ourselves in the season of Lent. I’ve been talking with friends about what practices they’ll take on or what they’ll give up for Lent. And this morning, my husband asked what I was doing for Lent. For many years our combined practice has been to not eat meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. This is a challenge for us as most of our meals include meat. I knew we had already agreed on that, so that was not his question.

My practice for this Lenten season is to intentionally hold one person in prayer each day. I am keeping a small notepad by my bed so when I wake up I’ll see the name of the person who I am keeping in prayer. When I go to bed, I’ll see the name again as a final reminder that I am praying for this person.

My husband’s Lenten practice is to remember that most people are doing the best they can. He is practicing this by being more patient with other drivers. When he described what he was doing, I asked how it went yesterday. He said he didn’t even make it home from work without getting angry at someone. We both agreed that this is why it is called a Lenten practice and today is a great day to start again.

So how are you observing this season?



This photo was taken on a hot August day when I was stranded on the side of the road with my 1 month old niece, husband with a broken leg, parents, sister and brother-in-law. Thankfully, we had a few drinks and a bag of pretzels in the van. It took us hours and hours to get to lunch or maybe we should call it dinner by the time we ate.

This picture reminds me of the season of Lent. We start out with great intentions. Sometimes it is smooth sailing, and sometimes our plans are changed. We adapt. We learn. We rely on God as our constant companion for this journey.

As you journey through this season, I hope for you grace and peace for yourself as you practice what it means to love Jesus and follow him.

A Reading for Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Based on Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17


One-What does God ask of us?

All-God wants us to turn back to the One who created us and who loves us.


One-How do we turn back to God?

All-We let our hearts break for the things that break God’s heart. We admit our wrongdoing and are merciful to ourselves and each other.


One-How will God respond?

All-Our God will love us, forgive us, and offer us more opportunities to love and forgive ourselves and each other.


One-You know of God’s compassion and mercy. Now what will you do?

All-We will live as God’s forgiven children always seeking to forgive each other and ourselves.


Refresh Mint

I received this tea for my birthday and it didn’t even make it to my tea cabinet before I sampled it. When you open the individual package, you are (almost) overwhelmed by the smell of mint. While drinking, you’ll catch a whiff of mint and enjoy a smooth cup of tea with a hint of mint. This tea is delightful.

The box says, “The rich flavor of the peppermint and the intensity of the spearmint jump, skip, and roll down the grassy hills while the warm hint of sweet tarragon wonders what all the rush is about.”

I appreciate the clever name and the calm feeling this tea imparts. I highly recommend a cup of Refresh Mint. And a big thank you to my dear friend for sharing this tea with me.IMG_4232

Worship Words-A Prayer for Inspiration and Action

As I read the passage of the Transfiguration for this Sunday, these words from Becca Stevens kept running through my head.

“The story of the transfiguration reminds us that before, during, and after their retreat, the disciples were the same, they just became more themselves. Part of the point of that story is to remind us that heaven is no more in the mountains than it is in the valleys. Retreats can be the bridge between having our heads in the clouds and our feet on the ground walking toward justice. We can be inspired on the mountain, but all inspiration fades without action, no matter how vivid the dream” (174).

She begs us to hear today’s story while holding together inspiration and action. Today’s worship words are a prayer for inspiration and action whatever that might look like in your life. May we follow where the Spirit of the Living God is leading us.


God, We are often like Peter. When we are somewhere that we feel your presence we want to stay there. We want to build a home or pull up a chair and stay put. No need to move because we are in the presence of God. Yet you remind that while Jesus spent time in prayer and retreated away from others, he always came back to do the work he was called to do. So, God, we need your help. Once we carve out the time for retreat, we are pretty good at searching for you and finding you. It is the coming back and using what we have learned that is more difficult. So give us strength to act. Inspire us to action so that what we learn can be shared with us. Give us courage to share your love in our daily lives. Open our eyes when we aren’t on retreat to injustice to loneliness to need in the lives of others and in our own lives. We know that you are always present in our lives, Gracious God, and with your help we will be open to seeing you in everyone we meet. Amen.


This is me enjoying the beauty of God’s creation on a brisk day at one of the beach retreats taken by the St. Giles’ Youth.