A Month of Letter Writing

A Month of Writing Letters
When I walk to my mailbox each night, I am hopeful that something fun will be inside. Somedays I open the mailbox, and it is empty. This happened just last night! When my mailbox is empty, I always assume it is a holiday that I didn’t remember. Somedays I open the mailbox and find only advertisements. On the best days, I open the mailbox and find a card or letter from a real person. It makes my day.
I love writing letters, and I love getting mail. For those two reasons, I enjoy participating in A Month of Letters Challenge. During the month of February, I sent out (at least) 23 handwritten letters or cards. As I write I think of the joy I am sending to another person. As I write I pray for the person who will receive the letter. I appreciate that in this wintry, cold month I have a goal to accomplish, and it is spreading cheer across the country.
I invite you to join me this month in writing at least one handwritten letter. Together we can share joy with others who just need a reminder that they are loved.

Writing a Letter-A Spiritual Practice

Writing a Letter-A Spiritual Practice
When I have too many thoughts running through my head, I write a letter. Other people may write in a journal or go for a run or write a song or find another way of clearing their heads. As someone who enjoys letter writing anyway, writing a letter as a spiritual practice makes sense. Sometimes the letter is to a person about whom I’ve been thinking. Sometimes the questions I’ve been pondering are answered as I write the letter. I don’t have to send the letters I write or then again I might. The letter can be to myself, to whom it may concern, to God, or to someone I know. The letter I’m sharing is to my best friend, Kristi. I needed some help working through something and I knew she’d know what to do. I commend to you the spiritual practice of letter writing as a way to soothe your soul and quiet your mind.
A Letter to My Friend
Hi you!
Is the nearing of my 39th birthday the reason you are on my mind so often lately? When I think of 39, I think of you. You’ll always be 39. You’ll never have to admit you are 40 because you are always 39. How can I have caught up with you? You were always 5 years older and soon I’ll be the age you were when you died. And that makes me realize that it has been (almost) 5 years since you died. So lately, I’ve been thinking of you.
This birthday feels different. I’m not afraid of getting older. You know that. I’m grateful for every year. I guess I just want you to say it is okay for me to be the same age as you and then get older than you. Of course, you’d tell me it is okay. You never held me back. You were always pushing me outside my comfort zone to new places, new experiences, and new people. So I’m going. I will turn 39. I will celebrate being 39. Thank you buddy for living all of your 39 years with reckless abandon. As I blow out my 39 candles (hopefully just a 3 and 9 candle because we don’t need the fire department involved or do we?), I will be grateful for the years I have lived and the people who have walked with me, and I will look forward with anticipation and excitement to my next adventures.
You know I have ninety-two billion other things to tell you, and so for now, all I will say is thank you for helping me prepare for 39. Thank you for helping me clear my head and my heart.
Susannah

Sitting by the Christmas Tree

Sitting by the Christmas Tree

In our home, we celebrate the season of Christmas by leaving our tree up until at least Epiphany. I love the practice of celebrating the liturgical season of Christmas (December 25-January 5). I feel like I have more time to sit by the Christmas tree after everyone else is done celebrating Christmas. The presents have all been unwrapped and the must do list is done. I’m sitting in the living room with all the lights off except the Christmas tree writing this now. It is a silent night with time to think about hopes for this new year and time to give thanks for those I love. It is a holy night feeling God’s love in the midst of this sacred time. It is a time to remember Christmases past and ways I have celebrated throughout my life. Merry Christmas!

What traditions of this season make it meaningful for you?

How do you celebrate in unique ways?

Happy New Year!

A New Year!

When the year draws to an end, I want to mark the occasion. My husband and I remember the year that is ending through the memories we have collected in our jar. While I don’t want to add another item to my to do list, I do want to look ahead to the new year with hope.

To prepare for this prayer for the new year, gather some paper and a pen and find a comfortable place to sit. When the questions come up in the prayer, pause. Take time to write and reflect.

God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
A new year is approaching. After reflecting and remembering this year, I want to look ahead with hope. I wonder what this new year will bring. For your guidance as the new year begins, I pray.
What are my hopes for myself for the new year?
What are my hopes for those I love for the new year?
What are my hopes for where I live, my country, and this world for the new year?
Faithful God, hear my hopes for this new year. Amen.

Words of Love – Advent 4

Love

“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.

‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’

He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’  –Matthew 22: 34-40

Leviticus 19:18 – love your neighbor as yourself

Deuteronomy 6:5 – love God with all your heart

Deuteronomy 10: 19 – love the stranger

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 – time for everything including love

Micah 6:8 – love justice

Matthew 5: 43-48 – Jesus reminds us to love our enemies

John 15: 9-17 – “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you…”

1 Corinthians 13 – the love chapter

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What surprised you about how and where love is mentioned in the Bible?

Where do you find love this Advent season?

How will you share love this Advent season?

Words of Joy – Advent 3

Joy

“Let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.”

                                                                           Psalm 5:11

Psalm 16:11 – In God’s presence there is joy.

Psalm 30:4-5 – Joy comes in the morning.

Matthew 2: 10 (story of the wise men is 2: 1-12)

Luke 1:44- John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary arrived

Luke 2:10-angels bring shepherds new of joy

Philippians 1: 3-5-I thank God for you.

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What surprised you about how and where joy is mentioned in the Bible?

Where do you find joy this Advent season?

How will you share joy this Advent season?

What You Do is Appreciated

Not too long ago I had a call from my supervisor asking me to stop by her office. Maybe you are one of those people whose mind doesn’t jump to the worst case scenario immediately. I am not. While driving to her office, I wondered what I had done wrong. Had I missed visiting a new patient? Did I offend a patient or family member? Did I chart incorrectly? The questions ran through my mind as I tried and tried to figure out why I was being called to her office. When I arrived, she thanked me for my work and gave me a bag full of goodies as appreciation for all the good work I was doing. I shared with her how I had been worried the entire time I was driving to her office. We laughed. I wish I could say that I learned my lesson and never worry about being called to the office. It isn’t true. I try. And because I felt so much love and appreciation when I received this bag of goodies, I wanted to share it with you. Know that you are loved and the work you do makes a difference in the lives of many others. You are enough. You are God’s beloved.

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Words of Peace – Advent 2

Peace

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” – John 14: 27

Many times in Old Testament people are told to “go in peace.” For example Jethro to Moses in Exodus 4:18 and Eli to Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:17.

Psalm 29:11 – “May the Lord bless his people with peace.”

Psalm 34:14 – “Seek peace and pursue it.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 – A child has been born to us.

Matthew 10: 34-39-Jesus did not come to bring peace.

Luke 1:79 – Zechariah speaking

Luke 2: 14- angels to shepherds

 

What surprised you about how and where peace is mentioned in the Bible?

Where do you find peace this Advent season?

How will you share peace this Advent season?

 

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A Gratitude List

Tomorrow we interrupt our regular lives and say thank you. I encourage you to express your gratitude to your loved ones for all the ways they brighten the world. I encourage you to notice your abundance and share. I encourage you to get outside and enjoy creation. That is how I hope you’ll spend your Thanksgiving! And as we celebrate this holiday, I am thankful for you, dear readers, for walking this journey with me. Thank you!
I’m going to start this prayer/gratitude list and hope you join me by adding those people, places, and things for which you are grateful-
Dear God, We thank you for
turkey, stuffing, cranberries, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, and pumpkin pie
tables where we gather to eat together
farmers who grew our food
family, friends, and all our loved ones
changing seasons
warm drinks and fuzzy socks
dishwashers and people who love to cook
the warmth of the sun
a day off of work
work we are called to do
laughter
small children learning and growing
elders among us who share their wisdom
candles and tablecloths and paper plates
stories of our ancestors
family recipes
naps and games
memories
walking around the block to make room for dessert
opportunities to notice our abundance and share
traditions and flexibility…
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Words of Hope-Advent 1

Years ago, I was asked by a church to lead a four-week Advent study. I’ve always loved the ritual of the Advent candle lighting, so for the study I decided to explore where does the Bible mention hope, peace, joy, and love. Each Sunday in Advent, we met and opened our Bibles together. It was such a rich experience that I’d love to do that again here on my blog. Each Monday morning, I’ll share Scriptures for the next week of Advent. I do my sharing a week early to help out any clergy friends in need of inspiration. Bring your Bibles and read through the Scriptures listed.

I’ll invite us all to reflect on these questions-

What surprised you about how and where hope/peace/joy/love is mentioned in the Bible?

Where do you find hope/peace/joy/love this Advent season?

How will you share hope/peace/joy/love this Advent season?

And since Advent begins on Sunday, we’ll start right away with hope.

 

Hope

 

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,   his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

                                               Lamentation 3:21-25

 

Psalm 33:18, 22- God’s eye is on those who hope in God’s steadfast love.

Psalm 39:7 – My hope is in the Lord.

Psalm 42: 1-5 – My soul longs for God.  God is my hope.

Psalm 71: 5, 14 – “I will hope continually.”

Jeremiah 17: 5-13 – verse 7 trust can be translated as hope. Hope/trust?

Romans 4:13-25 – Abraham’s hope

1 Corinthians 13:13 – faith, hope, and love abide

 

What surprised you about how and where hope is mentioned in the Bible?

Where do you find hope this Advent season?

How will you share hope this Advent season?

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