March 25, 2012

lent: repentance...

"lent is a season that reminds us to repent
and get our lives centered, our priorities
straight, and our hearts clean."
lauren winner

repentance is often associated with lent. it means 'to rethink things'. it is a change of thought to correct a wrong and gain forgiveness. in a season of reflection, it stands to reason that we would take time to step back and rethink how we live. to examine our faith for the purpose of deepening our commitment to Christ.

at the beginning of lent there was a table at our church filled with stones. we were invited to chose one to take to carry with us throughout the week. it became a symbol of a hard place in our heart, a place waiting for God's touch.

i already knew what the rock represented for me. it's something that has been on my mind for awhile. for me, repentance also included the need for confession. the simple act of acknowledging my sin to another human being. it was scary and it was hard. but it was oh so freeing.

"finally, i confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
i said to myself, 'i will confess
my rebellion to the Lord.' and
you forgave me! all my guilt is gone."
psalm 32:5

today i carried my stone back to church and and released it into the water of the baptismal font. the water easily covered the stone, like grace so easily covers me.

March 19, 2012

st. louie spring break...

ah spring break. a delightful week of amazing weather and some extra things things that made the week fun:

1. roommate

kim came with me to st. louis for a few days of relaxation. we hit up the casino buffet, stayed in a suite at the queen (thanks to my uncle mick and aunt linda), took the anheuser busch brewery tour, ate at fitz's on delmar and enjoyed the beautiful weather in downtown st. charles.

2. apples

i've mentioned these before. the caramel apples that dreams are made of. this is not a photo of them. i don't have a picture of our actual finished products because they were far from aesthetically pleasing. we're going to have to do some research...how in the world do you keep the caramel from sliding off? thankfully, they taste amazing either way. like little bits of heaven.

3. redbirds
did you know you can tour busch stadium? i'm not sure how i lived without that knowledge for so long. it was pouring down rain most of the time, but cleared up just in time for a visit to the cardinal dugout.

4. madness

march madness that is. and it's been madness all around. i love a good cinderella story (most of the time) but my absolute favorite tradition is the highlighting of the brackets. it just doesn't get any better for my type-a self.

5. airport

my mom was in israel for ten days and i missed her a lot (this is an understatement). so i decided to make her welcome home extra special and surprise her at the airport. i was in st. louis the whole week and she had no idea. i had the perfect hiding place to jump out of with my sign. i'm so glad she's home!

March 11, 2012

lent: being still...

solitude. silence. peace. these are good things. things i appreciate. things i enjoy. but for some reason, i rarely make time for them. the lure of surfing the internet, mindless television or just plain busyness always seem to override my best intentions.

during lent i am making an effort to slow down. to rearrange my schedule and set aside a bit of time each day to be quiet. i've figured out that the best time of day for me is right when i get home from work. before i turn on the computer or get sucked into all the little 'things' that take up my time.

i sit down by the window and light a candle. at the minimum my routine consists of reading the scripture for the week (from my church's lent guide) and reading a piece of liturgy from the ash wednesday service (see below). some days i linger, taking extra time to read, pray or just sit and think. other days i just do my readings and go on with the day. either way, i am loving this discipline. taking a moment to be calm, to correct my thoughts and to focus on what is really important.

most merciful God, father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.
we have not loved you with our whole heart, mind and strength.
we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
we have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Lord, have mercy.

we have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us.
we have not been true to the mind of Christ.
we have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Lord, have mercy.

we confess to you Lord all our past unfaithfulness;
the pride, hypocrisy and impatience of our lives.
Lord, have mercy.

our self-indulgent appetites and ways,
and our exploitation of other people.
Lord, have mercy.

our anger at our own frustration
and our envy of those more fortunate that ourselves.
Lord, have mercy.

our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts
and our dishonesty in daily life and work.
Lord, have mercy.

our negligence in prayer and worship
and our failure to commend the faith that is in us.
Lord, have mercy.

accept our repentance Lord for the wrongs we have done,
for our blindness to human need and suffering,
and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.
accept our repentance, Lord.

for all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts
towards our neighbors and for our prejudice
and contempt towards those who differ from us.
accept our repentance, Lord.

for our waste and pollution of your creation
and our lack of concern for those who come after us.
accept our repentance, Lord.

restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us.
favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
that we may show your glory in the world.

by the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

March 4, 2012

lent:self denial...

alternatively titled the rice and beans experiment.

a month or so ago i was blog surfing and came across the story of a family who took a one month challenge to eat beans and rice for dinner every night. they donated their grocery savings to help build a well that will provide water for some of the one billion people on the planet without access to clean drinking water. the idea sounded intriguing to me. for one, i kind of like beans and rice. when we visit project manuelito in honduras, i'm usually a little envious of the plates of rice and beans that the kids often eat. (they feed us more 'american' food...it's a cultural thing) i was also drawn to the aspect of self denial and the opportunity to remember how blessed i am.

i tossed the idea around a bit and decided to make it a part of lent as a tangible way to disrupt my normal routine. once a day i eat rice and beans for my meal. i occasionally add some fruit on the side or something for dessert, but they are always the main dish.

the thing with this discipline is that it all sounds very poetic at first. moderation. unity. solidarity with the poor. a mutiny against excess. it is magical. for like three days. then it gets old.

i honestly didn't think i would get tired of this meal so fast. i'm a pretty simple eater. i don't usually mind bland food (in moderation apparently). it is nice having so many of my meals planned out ahead of time. but it is so unappetizing. a few times i've considered just skipping a meal instead of having to partake of them one more time. arguably, i am new at the whole cooking rice and beans thing and it took me awhile to get the proportions down. those little side dishes i'm allowing are sometimes the only thing keeping me sane.

even so, i'm pressing on. i remember a quote from the blog of the family that ate this for a month, "i mean, really, who am i to complain about eating rice and beans when there are millions of people who would be beyond thankful to know that they were getting rice and beans every night? who am i to think i deserve more than rice and beans?" i can tell you one thing, it has made me much more grateful for the food i do have. it is a small sacrifice among my many blessings, to remind me of His great sacrifice.