Monday, September 27, 2010


My grandma ("Gramma") has discontinued her chemo therapy. It has been nearly fourteen years of "fighting" lymphoma. It has been nearly fourteen years of sickness, weakness, sores from radiation... and a few months ago, she stopped. She decided to live and smile and breathe.

She ventured out to my little sister's beautiful little house the other week (with the generous help of my parents) and stayed in a hotel. Ironically, she came through the woods and over the river to see me this past weekend. She's seen four grandchildren grow up and has suffered the sudden loss of a beloved great-grandchild before we could meet him.

It's been a tough year... facing the impending loss of an incredibly strong woman whom we all love so very much... and all coping with the sudden loss of a precious little guy we all loved so very much and anticipated meeting. It's been especially tough living away from everyone as they suffer.

And, so, I've made an effort to honor my family in my new place. I pray differently... without ceasing... in every moment for the ones I love who suffer sudden or impending loss. I snuggle my supervisor's little son more. I weep with the woman who has recently miscarried. I hug the "grandmas" at the Nursing Home and tell them I love them...

Tonight, though, I honored a favorite memory of my Grandma that I had almost forgotten from my childhood. Tonight, as I helped get two sleepy little people ready for bed, I recognized the homesickness in their cries. I knew what it is to miss one's mommy. And, recalling what my Grandma used to do for us, I made Gramma's special warm milk. Sure... it was special for the sleepy little girl... but it brought a new and familiar peace to my heart. These are the ways I honor my family. I knit booties for little ones who are not yet born, praying for their safe arrival. I add a few drops of vanilla to warm milk for a weepy little girl...

I remember that the God I love and cherish is present in the midst of my suffering... holding the baby we all dreamed of holding... preparing a space for a beautiful woman... comforting a sister who mourns... supporting grown children in the anticipation of impending loss...

I remember that my God is also our God and that we are all held in compassionate, all-knowing love.

I remember these things... I weep... and I know that it is well with my soul.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Camfire Marshmallow

I purchased two candles from the local Country General Store. One is scented "Ginger" (it smells like pumpkin...) and the other "Campfire Marshmallow." Campfire Marshmallow scent is the perfect combination of all the best aspects of Autumn in one jar. I think I'll buy a hundred so that I can take them with me when I leave here...

Family is en route from Pennsylvania to these mountains I call home today. I get a little more than twenty-four hours with my parents and my Grandma. We'll go to the General Store, the local restaurant, tell stories, worship together... it's already perfect and it hasn't even started!

I love it here. I love watching the mountains brighten with yellows and reds and oranges as they prepare for winter. I love taking a watering can out to my pitiful flowers in the hopes of bringing them through this awful drought. I love wading in the low river with a happy beagle. I love the small town veterinarian who keeps "office hours" and not appointments. I'm even growing to love the giant mountain which divides me from the convenience of the life I used to know.

There is a peace that comes with Autumn. As Creation gears up for it's weary rest in Winter... I see the artist hand of God in every detail. It's a period of waiting that deepens my understanding and love for God. A renewal before hunkering down in anticipation of heavy snows and depleting resources. Autumn makes any waiting period seem do-able.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the Details...

The big festival... the day for which this entire town waits all year... begins tomorrow. One of my congregations is holding a bake sale to support their seminarian and asked if I would contribute. So... the muffin lady pulled out her parchment paper, soy milk and muffin tins and made miniature bran-apple and cornbread muffins. This week has already wiped me out. I am ready for a weekend of celebration and renewal. Thousands of people are preparing to descend upon this tiny town in the mountains for a weekend of new and old memories and I cannot wait to participate!

At the same time, I am up late tonight chipping away at my sermon on a Wednesday to make way for the busyness. I am consumed with prayers for friends and family who ache. One of my goals for internship is to learn what it means to be alone... how to care for myself in the midst of chaos and solitude. I've learned to turn off the television/internet and turn on the music. I've explored what it is to pray through baking or solitude or even quiet walks with the pup after the town has gone to bed.

As I baked these mini-muffins and created their little packages out of parchment paper, wrapped them in twine and labeled them accordingly, I thought of the loving care and detail my Creator has invested in me. Some of my friends would see these details as wasteful of time and energy. I've seen them as an opportunity for my intimate Savior to enter into this solitude in the mountains. I was reminded tonight of the many reasons to be thankful.

In the craziness of this Festival, people will (hopefully) tear into these tiny snacks without much thought toward the time and care that went into them. It only serves as a reminder to me of the ways I take the details of my own life for granted. When I lay my weary head on my pillow tonight, I will rest peacefully knowing that I am loved intimately by a God who not only created me, but sent His son to die for me.

...and a good sleep it shall be.