Thursday, November 29, 2007

Come before Winter

In March I am travelling with the Come before Winter team to do a renewal retreat for women in ministry on the mission field in Canada. What an incredible opportunity to join these amazing women. I am so excited about the opportunity.

Last night I shared this with our elders in their meeting and they prayed over me and I feel so confirmed in this ministry opportunity. If any of you would like to check out their website it is:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spiritual Formation at the Kasselmans, Kinda'

I have never felt less equipped for the challenge of parenting as I do right now with a Middle Schooler. Everything seems to be weighted with future consequences and I feel like I am second guessing myself all the time...I may make a fatal mistake and mess things up in significant ways. David keeps the balance and reminds me that many a child has survived and thrived with worse parenting and our children too will be okay. Okay?? Who wants okay, can you define okay. You get the picture...I am a little paranoid right now :-)

One of those challenges is how to have some semblance of family devotional time with a 6 year old and a 6th grader. Yes, we can do our own thing with each of them at bedtime, but I was looking for something more family like. Our church has a bible reading program called MyWord but that did not seem to be working well for us, so back to the drawing board I went.

Finally I came up with a calendar that I drew up that has 4 nights of activity per week based around a theme. Meditation Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursday and Feeling Friday. I know a little cheesy, but the kids love it. Tuesdays are for sharing something terrific about the theme of the week, Thursday is an action day of doing something for someone else also determined by the theme of the week and Friday is when we talk about an emotion linked to the theme of the week. Monday is our scripture for the week and the other days are the living out of the ideas in the Monday passage through service and reflection. Are you with me? One goal being that it is an avenue for Michaela to share because she is emotionally quite a closed child. Spencer not so much.

Meditation Monday is quite fascinating. We read a Psalm aloud, read it again silently to ourselves and then read it again. We sit for a minute or two (this is a 6 year old and a 6th grader remember) and think about what we have read. We all have a turn to then share what stands out to us in the passage. The idea is to begin teaching the idea of meditating on scripture or a very basic version of lectio divinia.

Well last night, we did Psalm 23 and Michaela shared first about how cool the idea of living with God forever is. When we asked her why, she very matter of factually said, "you are living forever with your creator - that is pretty awesome." (insert - seriously, could you guys not see that?) Not really. And then Spencer started. Oh my!
"Well the part I like is this...He leads me beside quiet waters."
His voice getting softer and more sappy.
"I...I..I just like the quiet water part."
Eyes down at the text, serious face. A few seconds of silence and then insert a loud, dramatic voice
"It is not crashing and kabooming and whooshing water. It is like a lake, a stream"
Back to the golf commentator tone -
"It is calm. I just like that part."
We affirmed that and asked a question about it to which he responded.
"Well God is with us in the easy things and the hard things. Hard things like when the dog bites me or the cat attacks me. Or I have to crawl in dark places???"
Yes, we said and perhaps also harder things like when there is an illness or someone dies. Michaela suggested times like when Nana died.
David and I could not look at each other because we were ready to bust out laughing.
Calm waters, animal attacks, dark places all in a quivery voice...
How did we get such a "to the point" daughter and overly emotional son?

Both kids observations out of Psalm 23 were great. Thankfully there is no right way to do this. Just being together around the word matters.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Open to Receive

Yesterday was one of those days. My heart was open to receive.

I have had a hard few months struggling with some emotional junk and having God reveal parts of myself that are less attractive and need work. You know those times when you are wading through the complexities of oneself and needing to stay there for clarity and understanding. Over the last two years I feel like I have spent more time here than anywhere. That may not be true - about 2 years ago I had a faith crisis that took several months to work through and this has been more about me and my baggage. God is faithful and I can honestly say I am on the "better" side. With a little help from my friends.

It struck me yesterday in worship that something was different. You know those times when you are clearly more open to receive the word and ministry of God into your life. I met God in worship like I had not done in a while. That was good. Last night we got to go and hear Tquan Moore from Houston in concert. He served as a youth minister with several guys who work here in the Amarillo area while they were all in Houston. He is launching a music career - just a guy and his guitar. I love that. He has a new version of Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims and it really resonated with me. Can't say I have ever loved this song but I heard something in the lyrics that I haven't heard before. I'm not a huge fan of theology that paints the Christian life on earth as nothing but struggle and the only goal is heaven when things will be good. I believe we enter now into the abundance of eternity - you know the already but not yet. So bearing that in mind still consider these words.

Here we are but straying pilgrims
Here our path is often dim
But to cheer us on our journey
Still we sing this wayside hymn
Yonder over the rolling river
Where the shining mansions rise
Soon will be our home for ever
And the smile of the blessed Giver
Gladdens all our longing eyes
Here our feet are often weary
On the hills that throng our way
Here the tempest darkly gathers
But our hearts within us say
Here our souls are often fearful
Of the pilgrim's lurking foe
But the Lord is our defender
And He tells us we may know

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I hope that we always have books. I love their covers. I love opening one for the first time. I don't dog ear pages. I do highlight and write in them sometimes. The Scholastic book fair is currently happening at my son's school. It is energizing to me to see the library stuffed to capactity with cases of colorful new books. I guess that is what has me going about books right now. I think too I am contemplating a good holiday read. What should it be?

My most current reads have been:
Junie B Jones Aloha-Ha
Life on the Vine by Kenneson
Discipleship by Bonhoeffer
Ethics by Bonhoeffer
Christ and the Moral Life by Gustafson
Heroes, Saints and Ordinary Morality by Flescher
The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog

I've dabbled with the Audacity of Hope by Barak Obama and will finish that over the holidays.

So now I need something for the holidays. Any suggestions. Just an fyi I am not into historical fiction or Sci-Fi. So bring on any other ideas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blog Soup

(as in a little of this and a little of that)

1. Spencer sitting at the table contemplating the meaning of life..."You know, when you register for Webkinz, your whole life changes. It does. Its amazing." Michaela, David and I crack up and almost roll out of our chairs.

2. Our friends Frank and Nancy moved to Dallas and visited our old church on Sunday. I got a call from Nancy to say, "guess what I just spent 2 hours with your friend Lisa at Starbucks and it was incredible." While talking to Nancy I get a voice mail from Lisa saying, "I just spent the afternoon with your friend Nancy and it was great." I think they can leave out the "your friend" phrase - I'm guessing they are now friends. It makes me so happy!

3. I was moved at seeing my daughters response to her friends crisis yesterday. Her friend's neighbor just had a horrible car wreck and their twins were killed. The twins and Michaela's friend were very close friends. Seeing Michaela enter the pain of another was so awesome to me.

4. The spicy chicken sandwich at Wendy's gives me joy.

5. I am not feeling Christmas yet even if Wal-Mart insists on playing Christmas music already.

6. It is the book fair at Spencer's school. I am reminded every year how much I love books. Love them. The way they feel, the covers, the emotional response I have to them. Yes, I spent a little too much....

Monday, November 12, 2007


It is about time to wrap up the Sunday series from Life on the Vine that I have been teaching. This past Sunday we talked about Gentleness. What an interesting week it was working through that idea. When is the last time you really thought about gentleness. I am not talking about what the word means in Greek, or how it is exhibited in the character of God. I am talking about looking out onto the landscape of your world and identifying people as gentle.
I started out thinking about people that I would call gentle. Sure, most of us have aspects of gentleness in different areas of our lives, but I am talking about someone who so completely models a specific trait that you would slap a label on them and be done (I know labels are bad, just an if you knew that can had corn in it, you could label it corn).

Think about it for a moment. Right now. Pause and just let your mind wonder a little. Who would you call gentle? Why? How have you seen this exhibited in their lives?

Here are three observations that I discovered.
1. Our culture does not uphold this trait. You probably had to search your brain for examples of gentleness in your life. I know tons of terrific people..people who are kind, fun, warm, generous but people can be all that and not always gentle.

2. Unlike other fruit of the spirit or virtue traits, this one has such an intangible quality to it. Patience, joy, peace, kindness, love can all be grasped in a way that is different to gentleness. It seems to be the coming together of a way of being that is evident in a person's words, their touch, their face, their demeanor, their eyes. None of which can be manipulated but follow from a heart that is transformed by Christ.

Now this is random and how my strange brain works.....

3. You will be surprised how many large people will come to mind. When I made my list just about everyone on there was 6.2 or bigger. Fascinating to me....probably only me! Well actually when we talked about it in class and people were sharing their experiences of gentleness it became apparent that others had the same experience. But it does make me wonder if there is something to the gentle giant idea:-) It makes me wonder if sometimes tall, imposing people compensate for their presence by developing a gentle spirit. I am not suggesting all large people are gentle, but we were struck by how many gentle people that came to our minds were tall.

I feel God's call to be conscious of my choices and not saturate my life with violence as entertainment, self promotion, power broking and aggression. If we believe God has the best life for us we must conform our lives to the gentle shepherd and the incarnate Christ is surely the best example of gentleness that we have.

I think of Amy Grant who posts on this blog, Winslow Ellis a friend here in Amarillo, David Wray (friend, professor, mentor), Cathy Burns a friend and counselor, my nephew Matthew - just to name a few people who I think are examples of this fruit to me. I am thankful that I can learn from you.

And ps. all of them tall....just saying! (To me you are tall short jokes allowed).

UPDATE: My friend Scott emailed me this and I feel compelled to add this to my blog...not sure how I missed mentioning Phil and Debby! He mentioned several people from the Riverside church of Christ in Coppell where we used to work before Central and yes, all of these are great examples of gentleness.
(from his email) How about Phil & Debby (I know, I know--they're not tall)? Don Barnes. Ken & Laquita. Pete Montgomery.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Halloween Better Late than Never

Just thought I'd let you guys see Harry and Hermione aka Spencer and Michaela from Halloween.
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