Joyful, Joyful

I am enjoying time away at Princeton’s Institute for Youth Ministry’s yearly forum. It is a week of learning and laughing with others who love youth. It is a week of worship and table fellowship. It is a week of questions and wondering. I haven’t been here in a few years and coming back makes me realize how much I’ve missed it.

My reflection is inspired by the song, Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, which we sang yesterday in opening worship.

As a young child, I began taking piano lessons. I remember practicing this song over and over. And even when I learned other songs, I kept playing this song because it was familiar. As we sang Joyful, Joyful yesterday, the familiar feeling came again. And I wondered what other songs are such a part of my life that they are in my memory from childhood and youth years? And how can I help my youth learn the songs of faith that will stay with them all their lives?

Giver of immortal gladness, We thank you for all the ways you reveal yourself and your amazing love to us. Thank you for giving us the gift of music. Thank you for people of faith throughout the generations who have shared the faith with the next generation. All the good gifts that you have given us call us to rejoice in thee. Help us to rejoice, Loving God. Amen.


Cinnamon Plum


I’ve visited The Spice and Tea Exchange many times without ever buying anything. It is a great store with jars and jars of tea lining the walls. I got my first taste of their teas when a friend gave me this tea. She chose very well. This is a great cup of tea. The cinnamon flavor is very subtle. The main flavor you’ll enjoy is the plum. I haven’t had many plum teas before and this one is delicious. I highly recommend stopping in to browse The Spice and Tea Exchange if you happen upon one, and I highly recommend you picking up a little Cinnamon Plum tea too!

Worship Words-Psalm 148


The Psalm for this week is Psalm 148. This responsive reading of the Psalm features the words of the Psalm in italics and my words in regular font. I enjoy the process of rewriting Scripture while remaining faithful to its roots. Using different words to express the same ideas is one way to keep Scripture fresh and new for us. This practice can give you insight into how you see God and how others have seen God throughout time. Why not do a little rewriting of a psalm yourself this week? I’d love to see your results.

All-Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise God in the heights!

One-All who are faithful, Praise God! All who try to love God offer your praises!

All-Praise God, sun and moon; praise God, all you shining stars!

One-Let all praise the name of the Lord, for at God’s command all were created.

All-Praise God all creatures small and big who live in the oceans and waters.

One-Fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling God’s command!

All-Hills, valleys, and mountains, fruit and flowering trees, weeds and vines.

One-Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

All-People with power and people with no power, all are God’s children.

One-All ages and all people are God’s children.

All-Let all praise the name of the Lord, for God’s name alone is exalted; God’s glory is above earth and heaven.

Book Review-Caffeine and Commitment by Steven Case


While searching for inspiration for our weekly youth gatherings, I found this book. Inside you’ll find 18 lessons on themes like dating, employment, gifts, risk and weakness. This book is written to be used in a coffee shop ministry with youth. You could take the book to the coffee shop, open it up, and lead a discussion with little to no preparation. I’m using the book a bit differently. For three weeks in April, we are focusing on the themes of Doubt, Friendship, and Servant. I’m using the book as a guide and jumping off place.

And for Doubt, it was very helpful. We began by playing a game of I Believe It/I Doubt It. I updated the questions found in the book. Here’s an example, according to the CDC 20 Americans are killed each year by cattle. Although it sounds strange, it is true. I had hoped to play a game of I Doubt It (the card game I knew as BS growing up), but we didn’t have enough time. I altered the Table Notes activity by having them draw a picture of themselves and then write or draw their doubts around themselves. While this was happening, I played Nickel Creek’s song, Doubting Thomas. Then we shared some of our doubts with the group. Next we turned to Scripture and read the story of Thomas (John 20:24-29) and to remind us that others doubted too we read Matthew 28:16-17. We ended our time together with a prayer thanking God for accepting our doubts and love us still.

This book is an affordable way to introduce some different topics into your youth ministry. It is part of a whole series of affordable books by this author. It works well as it is written or can be added and changed to meet the needs of your youth. I’m looking forward to using it over the next few weeks to explore more topics. I recommend this book for any youth ministry that needs some new ideas or wants to try something a little different.

Worship Words-A Prayer for Planners


Did you plan what you’d create each day? Did you make a spreadsheet or action plan to create most effectively? How much pre-planning is required when you are God?

I admit it, God. I plan. I organize. I make lists. I like to know what is going to happen when. And sometimes I get frustrated by those who don’t plan. No, that’s not true and prayers should be true. People who don’t plan make me frustrated all the time.

Surprising God, I need you to help me utilize my gift of planning and preparedness in ways that are helpful. I need you, Merciful One, to grant me patience and mercy for the non-planners in my life and in my work. Keep me flexible and open to surprises when I go off schedule. And maybe sometimes, help those in my life to plan a little. Is this a case where all things in moderation would be helpful in my life? Maybe so, God, maybe so. I’ll keep trying and keep asking for forgiveness. In your mercy, hear my prayer. Amen.


PS-This planner loves her passion planner.

Sweet Cinnamon Spice


On a cold, rainy night I sampled this tea for the first time. It was a birthday gift from a dear friend. This tea smells delicious. I held my tea cup in my hands and inhaled the spicy aroma. Although this tea is called sweet cinnamon spice, cinnamon is only one of the flavors I tasted. Tazo tells us that this tea contains cinnamon, licorice root, orange peel, and star anise. I tasted all of these ingredients except the orange, and I didn’t miss not having the orange flavor. This is an enjoyable tea. It is a good tea to drink while curled up on a cold night. I highly recommend this tea.

Worship Words-How Many Times?

In our Gospel Lesson for Sunday, Jesus repeats the same question to Peter three times.

In our world filled with distractions…

How many times do I need to be asked before I listen?

How many times do I need to see you before I notice you?

How many times do I need to read the words before I understand?


Spend some time thinking about when and where you need to be more attentive to what the Still Speaking God is saying to you.