Giving Tuesday

 

 

Have you heard of Giving Tuesday yet? I saw it on the news and instantly decided to become a part of it.

Black Friday…Cyber Monday…

Why not Giving Tuesday? On the Tuesday following Cyber Monday, everyone donates to a charity that they value. Billions of dollars changes hands over this shopping weekend, let’s make some of it count! Watch the newsclip and consider joining.

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/msnbc/49942153/#49942153

The idea is to tweet our commitments, but since I don’t tweet I thought I would do that here.

I have committed to give every month for the past 10 years to Navajo Ministries. I give to the Four Corners Home for Children. These children have no stability in their lives. They are abused or neglected. Navajo Ministries gives them a loving home and a stable education. Check out this ministry and all the other wonderful work they do at Navajo Ministries at:

http://www.navajoministries.org/

Navajo Ministries

 

I challenge you to post your giving and spread the word about Giving Tuesday.

Sounds of Silence

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything…It is the presence of time, undisturbed. It can be felt within the chest. Silence nurtures our nature, our human nature, and lets us know who we are. Left with a more receptive mind and a more attuned ear, we become better listeners not only to nature but to each other. Silence can be carried like embers from a fire. Silence can be found, and silence can find you. Silence can be lost and also recovered. But silence cannot be imagined, although most people think so. To experience the soul-swelling wonder of silence, you must hear it.”

Gordon Hempton, One Square Inch of Silence

http://onesquareinch.org/

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“The soul-swelling wonder of silence.” What an incredible phrase! I have felt it but never knew how to put it into words.

Once, long ago, I was hiking through Silver Falls State Park and I sat down for a rest and a snack. No one else was around. After finishing my snack, I paused. Then I heard it! The natural silence. The pitter-patter of chipmunk feet behind me. The soft  whoosh  of leaves high in the trees. Yes! I could feel it in my chest.

When life gets difficult, I always find myself retreating to the forest. There are other beautiful places to hike but there is a magic about the forest that touches me in a way nothing else does.

Stress…worry…anxiety…burdens…tension…

My muscles are tight with it all. My mind stuck in an endless flow of negative thoughts. My temper on edge. My patience non-exsistent.

Then I reach the forest. I look for steep trails that lead to isolated water. I hike hard and fast. I push myself, allowing only small amounts of water periodically. My lungs feel it first. The burning. Then my thighs start to ache. Sometimes there are tears. I am not ready for the silence yet. The forest is only beginning its work on me. I feel protection from the trees. I feel the firmness of the trail beneath my feet. I feel the boundlessness of the sky above me. I feel the hidden animals aware of my intrusion. I feel much that I am not consciously aware of.

When I finally reach exhaustion, I stop and look around. I can begin to see again. A thousand shades of greens and browns. The view down the valley.

I find a place for a snack and sit, replenishing my energy and soaking in the feel of the forest. I am half way there.

My hiking is now slower and my thoughts match my pace. The negetive thoughts have stopped their insistent hammering in my head.

Then I reach the water. Just the sight of it soothes me. My thoughts and emotions settle. I need to touch the water, to feel its coolness slip over my hands. Next, I find a place to sit as close to the water as possible. Another snack and I am ready for the silence. I sit and listen. The tiny lap of water on the shore of the lake. The birds crying as they circle overhead.

How long have I sat there? One, two, three hours? I refuse to take a watch hiking. A glance at the sun tells me when I need to be heading downtrail so I won’t get caught in the dark. “The soul-swelling wonder” of the silence has nurtured my human nature. It is difficult to head home, but I do. I will be patient and kind once again. But not for long. Soon I will need to return to my forest and my silence.

Who Is God?

Who Is God?

We all wonder.

The five-year old who just heard the story of David and Goliath for the first time.

The teen-ager struggling to understand their place in the world.

The young parents who just lost their newborn.

The philosopher who pursues a lifetime of knowledge.

The elderly who knows that it is just a matter of days till they will see Him face to face.

As a seminary student, I searched the scriptures diligently for clues as to the nature of God. I was trained in various study methods to discern the truths of God’s character from a multitude of passages. We spent hours upon hours reading, marking and cross referencing.

Then one day I ran across this passage. It took less than thirty seconds to read. This is where God himself tells us who He is. Simple. Short. To the point.

Exodus 34:5-7

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him (Moses) and proclaimed His name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished….”

God uses eight descriptions to define himself. The first seven are merciful attributes.

Compassionate:    a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by

misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Gracious:    merciful

Slow to Anger:   patient

Abounding in love:   overflowing with love, the true kind of love

Abounding in faithfulness:   overflowing with loyalty, steady in allegiance

Maintaining love to thousands:   Love again. The only one mentioned two times. To thousands and thousands and thousands. To me too.

Forgiving:    cancels our debts, overlooks our sin

The final attribute is justice. Ensuring that right is done.

Without justice the first seven attributes would also describe my black lab.

God’s grace and love are enormous. God’s justice is ever-present.

I feel a deep sense of awe in that this is God’s description of Himself, in His own words.

But isn’t all of scripture God’s words? Yes, of coarse it is.

Yet this paragraph carries more significance for me because it is a direct window into my Lord’s very own being. Of all the words He could have used, these are the special few He chose.

I believe that He would have us think on them very carefully!

Do you have any special scripture passages that speak to you about who God is?

Friends and Magic

I was thinking today about some people in my life that are a gift to me.

An intelligent, spunky child of 6 years old with an insight to the world far beyond her years: as I share reading skills with her, she shares her joy and magic with me. A day does not go by in which she does not make me laugh.

Last time her mother paid me for tutoring her in reading, she stopped and stared at me. “Why do you get money?” she demanded to know. My reply was, “Because I work very hard.” She did not miss a single beat but quickly responded, “I’m the one who does all the work!”

Her joy makes my heart sing!

A co-worker. We unexpectedly became fast friends. They have a gentle, calm way of  being upfront and honest about things. It feels wonderful and freeing to think about and discuss ideas together without worrying about being accepted or someone’s agenda. They are also a wonderful listener. To just be and share. And to be heard – those are true gifts!

It seems that most people work at keeping a hierarchy among everyone they know. They try so hard to put themselves at the top. They tell downgrading stories behind the backs of others. “Do you know what she did?…” “He never gets it right!…”

What are they looking for? Acceptance? Recognition? I’m not sure but it seems to me that they never truly get what they want. They never seem content. The bickering goes on and on.

Me too?

When my friend listens to me, they listen with their eyes and ears and understanding. I feel greatly accepted and recognized. What would the world be like if we were all like my friend?

I am grateful to these two individuals for what they have added to my life. I would like to find ways to thank them.

Do you have people like this in your life?

Are you a gift to someone? Strive to be a gift today.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. NouwenThe Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

Nature’s Peace

Multnomah Falls along the Columbia River

This is one of my favorite hikes. Thousands of people view the falls from the parking lot. Hundreds view the falls from the bridge. Few view the falls from the top.

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir