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Get Out There!

There's no better way to help than to get out and experience nature for yourself.Donec id elit non mi porta gravida at eget metus. Donec sed odio dui. Maecenas faucibus mollis interdum. Duis mollis, est non commodo luctus, nisi erat porttitor ligula, eget lacinia odio...

Success Story – New Hope in Old Appalachia

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Hello, my name is Megan, and I am a workaholic.

One of the great learnings of 2013 seemed to be the power of accepting and even celebrating my humanity.  Claiming I can't have or do it all; failing is part of flying; re-thinking how I see success.  You get the idea.  This all seemed well and good until about three...

Words Matter

A few weeks ago I listened to an NPR story about words…specifically vocabulary words on the SAT.  Apparently, the college board decided it is time to revise the vocabulary portion of the test.  Rather than having lengthy sections with synonyms, antonyms, and...

Falling, Failing, and Flying

One of my least favorite parts of the holiday season is the work of de-decorating.  At least in the flurry preparation, there is the excitement of the season and the creativity about adorning the space.  De-decorating is some of my lesser favorite practices:  cleaning...

Ice

Baptizing God, The thought of splashing in water seems incomprehensible today. Even the dew on the window pane is frozen in place. Ice crystal droplets creating a kaleidoscope with the light of the rising sun. Some days my heart feels as solid as this ice. Secure and...

You CAN’T Have It All

One of the big lessons of 2013 for me seems to have been "You can't have it all."  This might seem harsh, sad, or defeating at a first read.  But I have to say I actually find this lesson to be freeing, empowering, and relieving.  For the first time in my adult life I...

Christmas from the Bench

I received one of the best gifts this Christmas.  Time.  Although the Cafe was open on Christmas Eve, I was not scheduled to work.   For the first Christmas Eve in several years I did not have the shoulda, woulda, coulda voices singing carols in my ear.  I spent this...

Step-Fathering God

Most of my life, I think I've been a Mary.  I'm a creator.  A dreamer.  A Spirit-filled woman bearing new life into the world.  I haven't spent much time thinking about or contemplating Joseph.  Growing up, our church's Christmas pageant focused more on  Luke's...

Are You the One Who is to Come?

Marathon runners talk about hitting the wall, The 20th mile wall. Both my sister and my brother-in-law Talked of it Experienced it. Even though it is only some six miles from finishing, The 20th mile is like a sky-high brick wall. The summit too high to see over Let...

Will We Burn in Heaven Like We Do Down Here?

I just got home from a long shift at the Cafe.  I opened at 6:45 this morning.  Traditionally, this means my shift ends between 1:00 and 2:00.  However, today I was responsible for the "Wednesday Night Dinner" and needed to be back at the Cafe at 4:00 to finishing...

Snowy Tuesday Morning with John the Baptist

It's a snowy Tuesday morning.I want to nestle next to the treewith a fresh cup of coffeeand this month's Real Simple Magazine.Instead I pour over the passages of this week's lectionary.Sometimes I wish there were Hallmark movie stories in the Bible.Instead I sit with...

Keeping Up With the Griswolds

Sometimes step-mothering feels like it could be an amusement park ride.  It has the twists and turns, climbs and chasms of an old wooden coaster.  I would be lying if I said I always love the thrill of the ride.  I don’t.  Honestly, sometimes I find myself feeling as...

The Gospel Through U2

I heard Gabriel singing today.  Half-way through my work-out, U2 began to play.  As Bono sang, I heard Gabriel waking me up, shaking me up.  Tough, you think you've got the stuffYou're telling me and anyoneYou're hard enoughYou don't have to put up a fightYou don't...

Clarinet Carols

Great Conductor, The cotton candy carols on the radio sing of your Sweet Son. The department stores swell with bright bows, packages, and perfectly proportioned pine trees. I've found Your Advent more like a new clarinetist playing through a carol-- Some measures full...

Evening Confession

I've caught the bug. The hibernation influenza. It happens this time of year. The days get shorter. The wind gets stronger. The frost gets thicker. The desire to remain within my four walls solidifies. After work I drive past the gym-- the engine sputters along with...

Advent Longing

Entering Advent in the wilderness feels right in a way I can’t quite capture or describe with words.   It is like the perfect blend of butter, onion, celery, and sage in stuffing—full of comfort and longing all in one bite.  I imagine the Israelites hearing Isaiah...

Harvest

Great Creator I see the gift of autumn in the glory of crimson and gold, and the abundance of the harvest. Still the bitter-sweet taste of sage Flavors all I swallow. This harvest season These fields, the ones that have nurtured my growth, Are now fallow. The bounty...

Friday Five Adaptation: Cooking Therapy

Food is always a touchy subject for me.  I love it.  In many respects, food is my first love.  Or perhaps not so much love as compulsion.  My addiction of choice, if you will.  I think I have felt about food the way I hear alcoholics talk about booze.  It has kept me...

Domestication

If domestication is about becoming suitable and comfortable, I have to say I have found work in a "domesticated" field doesn't quite fit that definition.  From scrubbing and sweeping to stirring, creating a hospitable environment isn't the least bit comfortable behind...

The B-Word

A Buddhist proverb states:  "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  I think I would add to this..."If the students says yes, learning and growth commence."Looking back countless times of falling: falling off of my bike as a child, falling...

Quantification

One of the best and hardest units to teach in Eighth Grade Communication Arts was on the Holocaust.  The complexity of our history and humanity astonished, sickened, and captivated the fourteen year-olds.  For the first time in their school career, we would read a...

Amends

I owe amends to me: To seven year old me who gave up grilled cheese sandwiches for cottage cheese and fresh fruit because she thought she was fat. To twelve year old me who thought that being tall and developed was wrong, so she intentionally slouched. To graduating...

Slytherin

One summer at Leadership Academy the covenant groups, basically small groups of teens with a seminary guide, decided to name themselves after the houses in Harry Potter.  This decision was made while I picked up two teens at the airport.  So, by the time I returned to...

Flashback?

Discovered this list tonight...the more things (I) change, the more they (I) stay the same...theology of Christ has evolved some, my nephew will turn six this winter, and I now have another nephew and two nieces.  But other than that, it's pretty much the same....

In the Belly of the Whale

It's All Saints Sunday and I can't seem to cross the threshold into a house of worship. The shoulds whisper in my ear. The outtas tap on my shoulder. Still something inside says Not yet. Not this year. This year I grieve with a London Fog and my cafe community. This...

Morning Prayer

Sometimes there aren't words thoughts or even feelings to string together. There's flour, eggs, and sugar. A recipe to follow. Today I pray in mixing and measuring. I meditate to the whir of butter, sugar, and eggs. Find holiness in a sink pilled with dirty dishes....

Immersion

“You don’t do anything half way, do you?” These are my husband’s observations of me:  me cooking; me pastoring; me parenting; me barista-ing; even me Scrabble-ing. And he is right.  I don’t.  Never have. I was the child who leaped before she looked.  Repetitively....

Counting or Comparing?

(A sermon--or a sermon draft--of a sermon preached at Brownbacks UCC--a supply preaching gig) Two men walk into a temple… Someone not familiar with Jesus’ teachings And biblical readings May think today’s parable is the beginning of a joke. Two men walk into a temple....

Grace

Sometimes it's as simple as a triple word score or sparkly purple yarn. Grace isn't far away or in finely finished people or places. She's right here with us as we sip hot tea on a Saturday night.

Megan’s Sermon Preparation Recipe

1.  Thaw biblical passage in crockpot brain at least one week before "Sermon Sunday."  Cover passage with prayers and turn on lowest setting.  Allow the passage and prayers to simmer, blend, and breathe.  Breathing time is essential. 2.  Meanwhile,  puree thoughts,...

R.I.P. to the Nice Girl

Last week Anne Lamott posted a friend's quote on Facebook:  "I have a fatal disease of Extreme Coping. When I was little, in my family, and ever since, if you needed someone to do Extreme Coping with you, I am your go-to guy. It didn't matter that I was only six, or...

The Cafe Top Five

I missed the Rev Gal's Friday at Five.  So here is my The Cafe Top Five.  Today was my third full day "tent-making" in the wilderness aka "barista-ing" and "cafe-ing."  Honestly, my mind swirls and foams with recipes, receipts, and more.  Here's a small overview of...

Beginner’s Mind

Zen Buddhism encourages adopting a beginner's mind.  Supposedly this mindset is the gateway to true peace, creativity, and wisdom.  The Christian tradition speaks of following children.  Apparently, becoming like a child is the best way to encounter the Living God....

Called Out

If you spend time around a seminary, a group of pastors, or anyone connected with theological education and formation, then you must have noticed our penchant for talking about call.  Application essays and first semesters are often filled with "call assignments."...

Perspective

It's amazing what spending the day with an infant will do for my perspective.  There is almost literally no way for me to have "hamster-wheel head" with the delight and daunting tasks of caring for a nine-week old.  Whether it's attempting to guess about what...

Sunday Prayer

Great Physician, We read stories of miraculous cures And ancient healings By Your hand. How easy it can be for us to ask Why them and not us? How easy it can be to turn to you On a Sunday morning With wish list prayers. Great Physician Here are our ailments; Now what...

Back in the Saddle Again

Saturday nights are strange in the wilderness.  It's 9:00.  The girls are snuggled in bed; my husband just tackled the dinner dishes; laundry spins in the dryer.  And I look about for what to do.  If girls were down and home seemed fairly ok, Saturday nights became a...

Friday At Five–Babies Addition

Today’s Friday is about babies. Tell us about babies in your life, of all kinds, even ideas! Tell us about the babies you’ve paid attention to in your life: 1. babies of family or friends Goodness, I have a lot of "babies" in my life right now...no actual little...

Pavement Pounding Prayers

I started this blog a few years ago as a practice.  A practice to see if I could write "blog style."   And a practice of commitment...not so much about writing but healthy living.  I committed publicly to re-joining Weight Watchers and to train to run a 5K.  Through...

A Prayer for the 11th Leper

Holy Physician, I don’t understand your healing ways. You encounter 10 lepers. The sound of Your voice Moves the molecules of their beings And mid-walk They all become Completely clean. What about the 11th leper? And the 12th And the 13th And all the other lepers Not...

Living in the Red

I have spent far too many days living in the red. Not so much the financial red, though I've lived there, too.  I'm talking about lifestyle red.  Living on the extended credit of my body, mind, and spirit.  I believe I may actually become addicted to this pattern of...

Tomatoes

The tomatoes on the windowsill are just beginning to turn red. A neighbor picked them-- --plump and green-- and instructed me to wait until they were ripe. Why they weren't left on the vine until their skin thinned into a ruby red hue I don't know. I think my neighbor...

Friday at Five: Roots and Wings

The Rev Gal's challenge for this week:  Thinking about whatever new life may be touching yours (the birth of a child, a marriage, a new call…), choose five wishes from the following and do the same. (For instance, I wrote for Hunter, “I hope you laugh at your...

Are We in a Movie?

Growing up I sometimes wished that life was more like a movie.  More exciting.  More action-packed.  More extraordinary.  I haven't desired that for a long time.  Recently, I've spent a lot of time wishing that life was less like film.  Keep the drama for the page or...

Sick

Just two days ago I committed to blogging every day in the wilderness.  Tonight I find myself wanting to sit in silence.  In the absence of words.  Part of it that I have binged on NPR and social media the last couple of days.  Fascinating and disturbing as these days...

Jesus Came to Bring Division?

You once said You came Not to bring peace but division-- That brother might Be against father And daughter against mother. Today feels like One of those days: Our houses are divided Our country is divided Our lives are divided. How easy it is to look back at yesterday...

Wandering in the Wilderness

It's been two weeks--only a mere two weeks--wandering in the wilderness, and I admit I have looked longingly back at Egypt more than once.  I'm not proud of this, mind you.  But the reality is that stepping off the merry-go-round of career into the wilderness of...

Friday at Five–A Few of My Favorite Things

This week's Rev Gal's blog challenge is to list favorite things...We were reminded that "Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction.  Break the habit. Talk about your joys". (Rita Schiano).    Here are a few things that bring me joy in particular order and...

Plan B

I’m a planner Always have been. In seventh grade my Sweet Valley High Calendar Carefully marked and measured the momentous events of the year: School plays, Mall dates, Movies with friends, And of course The last day of school. I’m a planner. I was one of those people...

Bottom Dwellers

It's not so much hitting bottombut what you doonce you hit.Do you kick and paddlewith all your mightdesperate to resurface,Spending every ounce of energyto see if you can findthe world that once was?--Or--Do you take a momentto explorethe depths of the ocean...

Playing with Fire

I steep in the Word during the week.  Waiting and wondering if the Spirit will stir.  Praying for a hint, a whisper, a moment of a message.  Many weeks I don't fully like what I hear.  Most weeks the message is just as much for the me as it is for the we.  That said...

May the Words of My Mouth Be Acceptable to You

I unplug early on Saturdays.  I like to have time and space to breathe and to be present with family.  To clear my head from all the noise.  It's 9:15--I just sat down at church.  I like time to walk in the sanctuary and pray before anyone arrives.  Then I usually do...

The Spirituality of Step-Mothering

Today I had the pleasure of watching my step-daughters sing and dance at the culmination of their musical theatre class.  When I went up to the instructor to thank her, she asked, "How are you related to the girls?" "I'm their step-mother." The instructor simply...

Friday at Five–Prayer

The Rev. Gals posed questions about our prayer life this week.  Jan attended a conference entitled "Turning Into Mystics" and came away with these questions for us. 1. How do you pray? It depends on the day, the moment, and the situation.  My ritual in the morning is...

Thin Places

What the world needs and I can do have a Grand Canyon sized chasm between them. Most days I trust the process: one day one moment one breath at a time. I place my faith in the Mystery that surrounds all. On thin days the thin places feel like the cleft of the rock...

We Preach Anyway

Sunday night I watched this TED clip about educators.  Part of me became nostalgic remembering my "teaching days."  Looking back at seventh and eighth grade Communication Arts is far more romantic than much of what's involved in the daily grind of teaching and...

Who’s the Teacher?

While saying grace this week, one of my step-daughters (we'll call her Kate), thanked Goddess for our food.  Being nine, creative, and well...what her father calls a pistol, it could be easy to assume that this was simply to get a response.  Or should I say reaction...

Friday Five–Healing Spaces

With the events of the violence and tragedy from the Boston Marathon fresh in our memories, Deb asked us to ponder where we find healing, peace and strengthening. Here are some of the people, places, and things that help me find healing and hope.\ 1.  A piece of music...

How Long–Adaption of a psalm of Lament/Response to Yet More Violence

How long, O God? Will you forget us for ever?How long will you hide your face from us? How long must we bear the pain of losing loved ones to senseless violence,   and have terror in our hearts?  How long will places like schools and churches and city streets be...

Holy Week

Contemplating what moving to and through Good Friday

Just Breathe

It's the week before Holy Week. Even if you are the non-preaching type, there's plenty going on in most of our homes religious. I think we all need a collective deep breath. :)This week's Friday Five is simply a moment to BREATHE. Stop and tell us five ways that you...

UNequal Opportunity

The last year has been a crash course in learning how broken much of our assistance programs are in Lancaster County—and my guess is across the country.  From the little bits I have had to work with the system previously, I had a sliver of an understanding.  As a new...

Ponderings on the Parable of the Prodigal Son

The tension of being older brothers And younger brothers: Born of the same parents Worshiping the same God-- God our holy Parent-- Who extends equal grace Equal love To both brothers. Some days I struggle to believe God’s love and grace are abundant. My ego wants to...

Saying Yes Means Nothing if You Can’t Say No

Confession time--I can be a yes-aholic. Yes, I can do that for you. Yes, I can meet you at whatever time you suggest. Yes, I can make that (fill in the blank) happen. I was raised by a wonder woman to be another wonder woman. I get the bacon, bring it home, and fry it...

Post-Sexist–I Think Not

I stopped by the hospital yesterday to visit a parishioner after her surgery.  Nothing uncommon in the world of pastoring.  Nor was the response I received when I stopped by the nurses' station.  The conversation went as follows:Male Nurse:  Are you family?Me:  No,...

We Travel That Far

Weary travelWrong turnsWayward conversationsWe found our wayTo the star.And what lies beneathBut a babyBasking in star lightCradled in straw.We traveled that farFor this?We traveled that farFor this.In the second breathOf this momentLife changed.If we could not return...

What does THIS say about US?

I opened the local paper yesterday, and the first headline:  Armored Backpacks and Rush on a Guns After Conn.  The title alone sent shivers down my spine.  Shivers followed by an inner voice asking, "What does THIS say about US?  Is THIS what we want to teach our...

Mary

Take her out of the box and off of the shelf. Free her from the cultural prison we've locked her in. Untie and unbind her. Even those bars can't stop her from singing loving longing. She is Mary Blessed Mother She is not for the weak or faint of heart. She was the...

Loosening the Reins

My aunt taught me to ride a horse the summer that I was 11.  Over the Kansas prairie we trotted and eventually cantered.  Being in the mid-west, I learned to ride with a Western saddle.  Basically, this meant I needed to be careful about how I held the reins....

Noise

Holy One Today is one of those days: those days where I don't know how to pray or what to pray or if I even believe in pray. My head is full of noise. it jumps from station to station like my radio dial on scan. And every frequency I find fills with static of Gaza...

Lament

I grew up there or at least vacationing there-- along those shorelines the ones you've seen plastered on Anderson 360. That coaster floating in the ocean, it's the first one I rode. That building now a pile of match sticks, I walked by it this summer traipsing to the...

Be Thou My Vision

Great PhysicianWe cry out to youFor healing--Let us see againLet us see--Only to find thatYou open our eyesTo the joyAnd sorrow of life.IndeedOur blindness gives wayTo the multi-colored reality of our world.A world that knows warAbuseFamineTeen...

...or in my case on my shelf, my floor, my night stand, my kindle, my bag, my car...you get the idea... 1. STUDYING: What is your favorite book or series for sermon prep or study? Or have you moved from books to on-line tools for your personal study? If you couldn't...

Friday at Five–What’s on your Shelf

...or in my case on my shelf, my floor, my night stand, my kindle, my bag, my car...you get the idea... 1. STUDYING: What is your favorite book or series for sermon prep or study? Or have you moved from books to on-line tools for your personal study? If you couldn't...

Transform our Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

Great Creator Master Builder You gift us with bricks and mortar. Bricks and mortar We’ve used to construct Mighty fortresses-- Fortresses of honor Fortresses of protection Fortresses that seek to keep Our beloved community safe From the tides and tumult of our world....

Home Improvement Projects

I don't know if  it's the teacher, the oldest daughter, the camp counselor, or simply the control-freak in me, but whichever part, it is safe to say that I prefer planned projects.  I'm a planner.  I love to plan.  To play with possibilities, vision, dream.  I  "geek...

Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman

At first we gaspAt Jesus’ gruff responseTo a plea for help;We gasp and shudder.In our second breathMay we find companionship.For JesusThe pioneer and perfecter of our faith,Our model and guideWrestled with many of the same challenges we do.Jesus modeled what it means...

Mary and Joseph Came to Choir

I was so ready to head home after choir last Wednesday.  It had been one of those run-around days--both with children and with church.  The music of choir a much needed re-centering, and as we packed up to go home, Joseph walked into the sanctuary.Well, not really...

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Holy MysteryYou come to us in the form of JesusA humanWord made of flesh and bloodFeelings and foibles,And still we don’t recognize you.You ask us who we say you areAnd like children on the first day of schoolWe have quick and ready answers:You are the messiahThe Son...

Looking at the Woman in the Mirror

Last Saturday the yearly birthday card arrived from my aunt.  It arrived like clockwork.  September 1.  I could set my calendar by the arrival of her cards.  My birthday is September 15, and my birthday card always arrives on September 1.  My Christmas card will...

On the Willows

When I moved into the pastor's office this May, I felt more like an explorer than a pastor.  Behind each door was a different treasure.  In each drawer a piece of the past.  Taken individually, the treasure could have easily been construed as trash.  From pieces of...

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Have you ever heard the expression “robbing Peter to pay Paul”?  Some days I feel this is how I spend every minute.  The reality is that trying to be present both for my new family and the congregation can be an impossible task.  No kidding, right?  How could anyone...

Taste of Grace

I break Bread of Life Offering a small morsel of grace-- To empty hands Hands calloused From work and weather, Hands soft and small From new life, Hands firm and fixed, Hands quivering and quaking. All of them empty All of them seeking Something. Something beyond. A...

These are the Days

I don't know if it's spending afternoons at a pool after a 15 year hiatus.  Watching the girls delight in the sweltering summer sun.  Or simply the contemplative in me taking a moment to breathe.  Whatever it is, I find myself savoring the summer in a way I haven't...

Bread of Heaven

The air is wet and thick like a towel dipped intinction style into her  bath water. I sit to write-- her giggles and splashes, my accompaniment. I immerse myself in the significance of Bread of Heaven. All I can remember is the summer scent of chlorine and sunscreen...

The Valley of the Shadow

My family spent the evening at the Harrisburg Senator's game.  With the rain and wind, it wouldn't have really been my personal choice.  But it was the "company family party," AND the girls really wanted to go.  That said, I wasn't planning on navigating conversations...

Salome

Sometimes the intersections of life and lectionary aren't quite so pleasurable.  This week was one of those.  As a Pennsylvanian, the release of Louis Freeh's report of the cover-up of the child sexual abuse can't help but make one pause.  Then to face the beheading...

I’ve Still Got Sand in My Shoes

It's been a week where my brain functions felt more like an iPod playlist than a network of neurons generating creative thoughts.  Maybe you've had this too.  Where music plays continually.  The only problem is you're the only one who can hear it.  In my case it...

You’re Healed!

Can you see Benny Hinn?  You know the healer on TV.  The one that walks through the crowds, whacking people on the head, declaring "You're Healed!" I have to confess I sometimes pause to watch these clips and make snarky remarks--either to the folks I'm watching with...

If You Can’t Get Out of It, Get Into It

When I re-vamped this blog several weeks ago, I shared that I would reflect on finding my fit as I "lived with the lectionary."  This is all well and good until the text for the week is the stormy sea with the sleeping savior.  You know the passage, the one where the...

Lost in Translation.

I was all set to write about lessons from kayaking and its relationship to sailing on stormy seas.  (We only had difficulty paddling back to shore on a very windy, slightly rainy day, and I was ready to cry, "Don't you care that we're perishing.)  Then I went to our...

You Have to Be Carefully Taught

If you've been following the lectionary, you might have noticed we've had three weeks of learning.  It's Jesus' "last lecture" to the disciples.  His last chance to impart wisdom.  Give his '"two cents."  Remind them who they are and whose they are.  He even uses...

Bearing Good Fruit

In the summer of 2005, my mom and I drove up the coast of California.  We started in San Diego and cruised (or crawled) up the Coastal Highway.  Although I loved the ocean and the cliffs, what really captured me was Pasa Robles.  Lesser known than the Napa and Sonoma...

Taking Root

When I stated this blog over a year ago, I was seeking to find my fit--literally and figuratively. And if you followed the blog, you'd notice that I hit my goal weight in the summer of 2011 and just as I achieved this goal, my writing (and my running) got waylaid....

Christmas Comforts

Comfort seems to be the word of the season.  From Thanksgiving through the new year we bathe in comfort--comfort food, comfort carols, comfort Scripture.  And yet this year, I don't seem to be finding much comfort in what is supposed to be comforting.  Now, don't get...

Cross Cultural Ministerium?

Usually we (or at least I) think that cross cultural experiences require a trip.  You know a destination different from your hometown.  Doesn't have to be international.  But usually necessitates some lengthy travel experience where you leave your comfort zone and...

Consider it, Take Counsel, and SPEAK OUT!

Thus says the LORD to Abraham  Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:2). REALLY? Thus says Jephthah to the LORD Whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I...

Smashing the Glass Slipper

Have you ever had one of those weeks?  You know.  Those weeks.  A week that isn't so much gone wrong--just not how it was supposed to go.  Not how life was supposed to go.  And certainly nothing that any book or class could prepare you for.  That has been my last...