Thursday, December 31, 2009

Summary of Simplicity

We've been journeying through the Spiritual Habits of Faith for the last couple of months. We started in November, talking about what it meant for us to be Generous and Thankful in all areas of our lives. We enjoyed discussion and visual reminders of all the things we have in our lives that make us thankful - and that enabled us to be generous. Both, attributes that God calls us to.

In December, we turned to the habit of Simplicity. In the busy, craziness of the holidays and all that they entail (shopping, cleaning, baking, parties, wrapping gifts, family dynamics, church activities, school programs, etc)... It's hard to remember to find that holy space in our calendar to remember that Jesus is why we celebrate. We've taken the time this month to talk about carving a few minutes out of each day for time with God, we've talked about spending less and giving more time and meaning in our gifts, we've talked about giving away to charities, we've talked about the importance of church services, of family devotional time, of getting rid of the extra "stuff" in our lives... So many ideas to simplify our hectic lives - and focus on what's most important - God and family.

I invite you, as we begin a new year and a new habit, to continue working on Thankfulness, Generosity, and Simplicity in your life... God calls us to these things - not as added stresses, but as ways to find peace and happiness in our lives, through Him.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


"Paul said in Philippans 4:11-12, 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.'

"Can we say the same thing? Can we care about people and situations and material possessions in a way that doesn't allow them to possess us? The discipline of simplicity invites us to this kind of freedom."
--Valerie Hess

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income."
--Ecclesiastes 5:10

"Some people are never satisified. The Irish saint Columbanus is reported to have said, 'The man to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.' We all know people like this. Give them an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic destination and they complain about the view from the hotel room. Take them to a place of beautiful scenery, and they complain of being tired from all the traveling. Show them another culture with all of its marvelous characteristics, and they hate the food and the bathrooms. These kinds of people always find something wrong because they are looking for perfection on earth, a quality that is simply not available in this life.

"The verse above reflects the human condition of always wanting more, of never being satisfied or content. One way to practice the dscipline of simplicity is through a spirit of contentment. This is so contrary to the culture around us that people are bound to take notice. We can strive to be sincerely thankful for all of the little things in life. Sure, there may be struggles or things we wish were different or needs or wants we would like to see met, but we are invited to keep them from becoming our defining reality.

"When we respond in peace and joy to the question, 'how are you?' we can be a witness to others of God's goodness in all things."
--Valerie Hess

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 27th, 2009

Church today was very quiet and very few people... But so nice to be there. After all of the celebrations, food, parties, gifts, and festivities, to return to where the celebration began. To be reminded one last time of the true reason for the season. To once again wish our faithful friends a "Merry Christmas."

I always have a hard time realizing Christmas is over... You build up to it for so long, that when the last gift is unwrapped, the last morsel of leftovers consumed, and the naps begin... It makes me sad...

Although... We will be leaving out Christmas decorations up for a week past New Year's this year for a small dinner party... And I guarantee that I will be listening to Christmas music for a little bit longer... I need to ease out of the Holiday mindset!

I hope you're enjoying this Sabbath day of rest. Re-couping from the festivities and reflecting on the joy and blessings! I know I am!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drowning in Stuff

"I wonder what Jesus' entourage looked like as he traveled around Israel. There were at least 13 men and several women in the regular group, plus those who followed along for part of the time. Sometimes there were even large crowds traveling with them (Mark 6:30-44). How did they pack and who carried all their stuff? They were not wealthy, though we know that the women mentioned by name in the rest of Luke 8:2 supported Jesus and his disciples, so they weren't destitute either. Were they each allotted one suitcase and a carry-on?

Humor aside, we need to note that Jesus never let anything detract from his focus of preaching the good news to the kingdom of God. He trusted God to provide, allowing material possessions to serve him and his disciples rather than the other way around.

The question for each of us is, which of the possessions and activities in our lives are keeping us from following Jesus fully?"

As the holiday season draws to a close - do you have enough? And if so, is there some you can donate? Are there things keeping you from focusing on God?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"Christmas is more than getting and giving;
It's the why and the wherefore of infinite living.
It's the positive proof for doubting God never,
For in His kingdom, life is forever.
And this is the reason that on Christmas Day
I can only kneel and prayerfully say,
'Thank you, God, for sending Your son
so that when my work on earth is done,
I can look at last on Your holy face,
Knowing You saved me alone by Your grace."
--Helen Steiner Rice

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas!!!
The service WILL be happening tonight at 5pm.

See you there!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Keep Watching!

Due to the weather forecast... Please keep checking on our church website, our Facebook site, here, the news, or calling in to the church voicemail... Whether we have Christmas Eve service, or not, will be determined by noon tomorrow.

"Jesus came into this world
one glorious Christmas Eve.
He came to live right here on earth
to help us all believe.
For God up in His heaven
knew His children all would feel
That if Jesus lived among them
they would know that He was real
And not a far-off stranger
who dwelt up in the sky
And knew neither joys nor sorrows
that make us laugh or cry.
And so He walked among us
and taught us how to love
And promised us that someday
we would dwell with Him above.
And while we cannot see Him
as they did, face-to-face,
We know that He is everywhere,
and not in some far-off place."
--Helen Steiner Rice

Give-a-way #2 Winner!

Using - Beth J. was our winner!

Your pretty mug will be ready on Christmas Eve - or on my desk the following Sunday!

Congrats - and enjoy! (I know I love mine...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Minute Simple Gifts

It's the week of Christmas! Here's a few last "simply giving" ideas!

*Watch the words you use - be kind.
*Let the little things slide.
*Get away - even if it's only for a few moments a day.
*Give people what they want, not what you want for them...
*Tell friends about your favorite books, movies, music!
*Surprise your spouse with a tank full of gas!
*Tell a parent they're doing a good job.
*Be present when you're with someone - put the phone or the blackberry away...
*Make a meal for someone else.
*Give a goat. Go to Heifer International's website and donate animals and crops to villages who need them!
*Be the house where everyone feels welcome!
*Pick up the tab for a stranger...
*Take a day off - and spend it with the family.
*Send a "thank you" to someone who impacted your life.
*Visit a shut-in.
*Donate toys to Christmas Angel programs or to Neighbor's Inc.
*Tell people you love them.
*Read the nametag - and use people's names.
*Park in the back - and leave close spaces open for those who need them!
*No gift is too small - give what you can!
*Donate old cell phones, eyeglasses, ink cartridges, computers, etc to organizations that reuse them!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 20th, 2009

Wow! What a fabulously fun Sunday!

Education Hour kicked off with:
* The Children rehearsing for their big Christmas program!
* The Confirmands talking about living with JOY in light of Christ's birth!
* The Advent Conspiracy class talking about how to show love to others in this Christmas season.
* The Wired Word discussed the use of the word "merry" when associated with Christmas.

Worship was a joy to be a part of! Mike and I got to light the Advent wreath. The Children's Christmas program was so fun! These kids are talented and perfect little angels. And shepherds. And wise men. And Mary and Josephs... They're all great! Here's a synopsis I put on my own blog: (We've got a little 'Ninja-shepherd on the bottom left - who was adorable and couldn't stand still! The littlest angel, next to him, was constantly falling off the step and loosing her halo. The two beautiful girls behind her were continuously helping her up and plopping the halo back on her head. Our lovely Mary, who's currently reading, had to keep sharing her baby Jesus with an adorable little shepherd who just wanted to cuddle Jesus so bad! Our older shepherds, in the back, went back and forth between looking bored out of their minds, and proud as can be! Our cute little angels, behind Mary, did their best to stay still despite crooked halos and wings - and static-y gowns! Their fidgeting made me giggle. And our Wise People were stoic and true to their role... especially in those glamorous robes! I love Christmas programs...)

We also got to be part of the celebration of giving Bibles to our new-er kids: Bennett, Casidi, Jack, Maddie, and Denielle. Congratulations, kids!

Pastor Penny took a few minutes to preach about the "Extra-ordinary Christmas Relatives." We enjoyed everyone's Nativity scenes that they brought from home - such beautiful reminders of that night in Bethlehem! We handed out glittery, red stars - a simple symbol of the extraordinary events of Christmas - from a simple beginning in a manger, to a king of peace and hope!

We thank everyone who participated in our Sunday service - kids, parents, teachers, friends - what a wonder-filled day!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Pageants

Here is a link to one of my favorite blogs - a pastor from Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. As we get ready for the children's program tomorrow, take a moment to read this - what a beautiful way to anticipate the joy that children (and a little chaos) can bring!

God is in the Small Stuff

Prepare him room - in our lives, our schedules, our comings and goings... in order to let him grow in our lives!

When we leave no room... our schedules - it means no opportunity for Jesus to do something surprising in our lives.
...for quiet and reflection - it means no chance for us to hear God's still, small voice in our thoughts.
...for solitude - it means no place for us to be alone with God. our resources - it means no possibility that we will enjoy the blessing of giving to God's work.
...for Jesus - it means no way for us to truly appreciate Christmas.

These may seem like small things... but the results can be huge!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Time Out

"Brighten your day, and lighten your way
And lessen your cares, with daily prayers.
Quiet your mind, and leave tension behind
And find inspiration, in hushed mediation."

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."
--Isaiah 30:15

"It's not an easy thing to find a quiet moment during the holidays. With shopping, baking, decorating, and entertaining, it all seems to go by in a blur. It could be said, however, that making time for quiet meditation is more necessary during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Unless we do, it's possible that we'll miss some of God's most joyful blessings.

"Christmas has great meaning to all of Christendom and even to the secular world. As the angels said, the season's good tidings were meant for all. First and foremost though, Christmas is about the individual heart reconnecting with God's heart. The Christ Child came on behalf of all of us and just as certainly for each of us. It's possible to be part of the shared blessing that comes from being with family and friends and reaching out to others and still miss out on the personal blessings that comes from spending time quietly resting in His presence.

"As you schedule your activities during the Christmas season, set aside some time each week - or even each day - to spend with your heavenly Father. It's an investment that will give the holidays new meaning and a true sense of joy."
--Helen Steiner Rice, from her book "Celebrating Christmas Everyday"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nativity Scenes

On Sunday we're inviting all the members of our congregation to bring their family Nativity Scene to church so we can look at the lovely array of reminders of baby Jesus' birth!

If you don't already have a set - get creative! I've made them out of Play-doh, Lincoln Logs, a Fisher Price farm set... etc etc. I saw a picture of one today made out of the little "S'more people" and Hershey bars! If you need another idea - check this out! Who knows what you can come up with?
Good luck!


"We must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. This does not mean we will never be busy. Jesus often had much to do, but he never did it in a way that severed the life-giving connection between him and his Father. He never did it in a way that interfered with his ability to give love when love was called for. He observed a regular practice of withdrawing from activity for the sake of solitude and prayer. Jesus was often busy, but never hurried.

"Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart...

"...It is because it kills love that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life. Hurry lies behind much of the anger and frustration of modern life. Hurry prevents us from receiving love from the Father or giving it to His children. That's why Jesus never hurried. If we are to follow Jesus, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives - because, by definition, we can't move faster than the one we are following."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Remember to check out our give-a-way! You have til noon tomorrow to enter!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This is so cool.

This is great - please check it out when you have a moment. Just another way to look at what this season is all about - and how easily we forget.


"The discipline of Simplicity... deals with the way we use our time and the way we use our words. It is an overall attitude of contentment and gratitude manifested in a visible way of living that includes not trying to do too much or have too much. It is a way of speaking that lets our yes be yes and our no be no, as Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:37)...

"In short, through the discipline of Simplicity we seek to live a life that is pleasing to God, life-giving to ourselves and has an element of availability to others. We can live a life of goodness, joy, peace and balance if we will engage honestly with this discipline."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

Ways to help you practice this discipline:

* Go through your purse, wallet or briefcase - get rid of anything you don't need!
* Find ways to say "no" to things your don't want to do or can't do - without feeling the need to justify yourself.
* How many conversations in your life are about time or possessions? Pray that God helps you to use these things in ways that express gratitude.
* Write down three blessings in your life - EVERY day. (Come back to this list when you feel like you don't have enough...)
* Do you have time in each day to spend a few minutes alone? If not, try to scratch one thing off your to-do list everyday.
* Try to be content today in everything you do have... When you start to think, "if only I had..." - be sure to stop and thank God for what you already possess. Shelter, food, clothes, water, family, friends, etc, etc.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Simply Giving

Here's some more ways to give simply to others this Holiday Season!

*Give yourself the gift of silence...
*Read the Christmas story again.
*Come to the aid of someone different from you!
*Let your heart lead.
*Collect lose change around the house - and give it to the Salvation Army kettles!
*Care for the sick.
*Be patient - especially with annoying relatives.
*Take your grocery cart - and maybe another - back.
*Pick up trash and litter.
*Make a handmade gift.
*Share family memories.
*Hug a grinch!
*Invite a friend to church.
*Leave a voicemail to brighten someone's day.
*Start a savings account specifically for giving!
*Give a "favor" coupon.
*Read a book to a child.
*Turn off all your electronics for a night - cell phones, tv, computer, video games.
*Cross one item (the biggest) off your Christmas wish list... Do you really need it?
*Bake an extra dozen - and give them away!
*Offer to baby-sit.
*Play in the snow!
*Take your lunch to school or work - and give away the money you save.
*Reconnect with old friends.
*Give a special photograph to someone you love.
*Go caroling (the church is going Dec. 17th!).

Remember to check out our give-a-way!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 13th, 2009

What a FABulous day at church!

Education Hour started with some great discussions:
* The Children learned about Jesus being the Son of God and were encouraged to thank someone who has taught them about Jesus and sharing the wonderful gift of Christ!
* The Confirmands met with their parents and Pastor Penny to watch the NOOMA video, "Shells" - a discussion about all the ways we find ourselves "too busy" and wondering what our focuses in life should be...
* Wired Word was led by Andrea this weekend - and the topic was an interesting one! The new Uganda laws pertaining to homosexuality, prison time, and the death sentence - how should we, as Christians, respond to this? And how can we live out our daily lives following the commandment to "love our neighbors as ourselves"?
* The Advent Conspiracy group focused on how to bring meaning to our holiday celebrations without focusing on money and materials.

Worship was a celebration today! Jennifer and Bennet lit the Advent wreath... Mark reminded us in the children's chat that one of the most simple and ordinary things we can do this holiday season is give food and gifts to Neighbor's, Inc, to help out other families! Pastor Penny briefly spoke about the "Ordinary" people around the dinner table and in Jesus' family tree... That sometimes the "ordinary" ones can bring the greatest gifts to us all! Think of Mary! Popcorn was handed out as a reminder of an "ordinary" way to spend time with the family and friends in this month of simplicity... Play a game, listen to each other talk about your days, or pray together!

Then... the choir performance! We thank our choir and Jennifer for all their hard work! It was beautiful! Sandy played her harp and sang a solo, Janet and Peter sang solos, and it was wonderful!

Afterward, just about everyone sat down to a warm, yummy breakfast of egg bake, muffins, and COOKIES! What a fun way to celebrate the holiday season together! Thanks to our hosts for doing an amazing job!

Remember: Next, week is the Children's Choir Performance - AND we're asking everyone to bring in their Nativity Scenes for a display of all the variety and beauty they bring to our decorations and traditions!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

God is in the Small Stuff

"Unless we choose to bring the meaning of Christmas to our celebrations, we will miss the meaning altogether.

There's someting about waiting that prepares us for arrival.

Christmas is a time of contrasting emotions: hope and despair, peace and conflict, togetherness and loneliness. Advent helps put them in perspective.

Getting on and getting off the holiday fast track have this in common: They are both choices.

We will never recognize the significance of Christmas until we slow down enough to think about it."
--from the book "God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas" by Bruce and Stan

Friday, December 11, 2009

Give-a-way #2!

I promised another give-a-way! So, here it is!

If you saw me walking around on Sunday with my cool Christmas mug - now's your chance to get one, too!

You have four ways to enter the give-a-way:

1) Comment on this post.
2) Be or become a follower of this blog.
3) Mention the give-a-way on your blog.
4) Mention the give-a-way on Facebook.

Just let me know the ways you have entered... All entries must be in by Friday, Dec. 18th, at noon!

Good luck!

Good Will to All

"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience."
--Colossians 3:12

"Kindness is more than thoughtful words and actions - it is also defined as a state of being kind. It's an attitude, a way of living, a well-exercised habit. If we truly want to emulate the kindness God showed when He sent us His son to be born in Bethlehem's manger, then we must make it a living, breathing part of who we are every day of the year.

"An attitude of kindness must start from within. Do we judge others by the color of their skin? What about those from unfamiliar cultures? Can we extend kind gestures to those who do not share our opinions about politics and religion? How about those whose lifestyles we disapprove of?

"It's easy to be kind to those who think like we do, look like we do, and act like we do. But it is far more difficult to show kindness to those who don't. We must remember that kindness neither condemns nor condones. It just is. God in all His holiness reached out in kindness to ALL of us, without reservation. His loving kindness is extended to every living soul. Glorify Him by asking that your own attitude of kindness would become as broad as a sky filled with angels."
--from the book, "Celebrating Christmas Every Day" by Helen Steiner Rice

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Give-a-way Winner!

We had 11 entries, each was assigned a number, then using I entered the numbers into a "random number generator" and number 6 was the winner!

Jill E. you are now the proud owner of Matthew West's "Give This Christmas Away!"

I'll have it for you on Sunday!

Watch tomorrow for our next give-a-way....

Simple Abundance

My friend, Andrea from NY, posted a beautiful blog entry last week honoring her grandmother who died recently... A story of simple abundance, joy, and beauty. I invite you to visit her blog today and read this beautiful tribute - and then think of all the ways you live in abundance as well!

Thanks, Andrea!

PS: The give-a-way ends at noon today!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Well, you never know in what ways God may decide to use you... And in our theme of simplicity - what could be better than knowing God used a frustrating afternoon to provide for someone in need of prayer? The most simple gift to give....

Tuesday afternoon as the snow was falling and I was trying to get things lined up so I could leave early for the day... The phone rang. I debated answering it - knowing I didn't want to get even more bogged down with more tasks... But I did.

And on the other end was a woman from a homeless shelter - simply asking for prayer. She told me a story of great love, struggle, depression, and a frustrating situation with her husband... All she wanted was prayers for peace, healing, and help in this difficult time - and she fully believed that the more people praying, the better things would get.

I listened to her story and I prayed with her - and told her to call back anytime.

When I hung up, I realized that all the frustrations on this afternoon were meant to be. She needed a friendly voice, willing to pray out loud with her - and I was here to be that person.

God works in mysterious ways... But what a blessing to see those ways at work!

By the way... Can you keep her in your prayers? Her name starts with an R (I don't want to compromise her privacy). Thank you - she would be delighted to know you're praying!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simply Give

Here's some easy things to do or "give away" this year - in order to spread the holiday spirit!

*Hold a door for someone
*Give thanks
*Write a letter
*Say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" to a stranger
*Make a joyful noise!
*Do a secret good deed
*Give someone a hug
*Take some of your good stuff to Goodwill
*Invite someone to dinner
*Tie up a loose end
*Tip generously!
*Pray for our soldiers
*Really listen
*Give something away - without telling anyone!
*Be a comfort
*Spend time with the elderly
*Get to know your neighbor
*Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger

Just a few ideas... more to come! (Do you have any?)

Be sure to check out our Christmas give-a-way!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 6th

Today was another festive and wonderful day at St. Paul's UMC!

During the Education Hour:
*The Children talked about recognizing the people you love by doing something to show them! And they are preparing for their FABULOUS Christmas performance - Dec. 20th during worship!
*The Confirmation youth explored some of the prophecies of the coming Messiah (and had fun playing some Advent games!)
*Our Study Group is discussing the "Advent Conspiracy" - a book that challenges us in our spending during the holidays... Can we spare buying one more gift, and instead give to someone who has greater needs?
*The Wired Word discussed the White House party crashers and what it means to be offered admittance... into Heaven, too!

Worship focused around the "scandalous" relatives of Jesus - and how comforting it is to know, if these are Jesus' family, then we must have a place at the table, too! Jeanette and her girls lit the Advent wreath like old pros. We sang some great Advent carols. Communion was served as the bells played beautiful music!
And "Yes" and "No" bills were handed out! These are meant to be "spent" this week - say "yes" only when it feeds your soul, and "no" when it's just one. more. thing.... You can make the choice to make this season holy!

After church, we had a lovely fellowship hour with yummy cakes and cookies; and the 2nd-6th graders headed out for some bowling!

A great day!

Remember to check out our Give-a-way! There's several ways to enter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Serving Others

"The capacity for caring illuminates any relationship. The more people you care about, and the more intensely you care, the more alive you are."

On Sunday, we talked about the "overlooked" family members in the Christmas story... But what about the "overlooked" in today's story? Who are the people you pass by everyday - unnoticed, unseen, and unheard?
Is it the homeless man at the door to the grocery store? Is it the lady cleaning the bathrooms at the airport? Is it a family member that is struggling with life? Is it an old friend that has gone a different direction... and has become lost?

When I think of the overlooked in my own life, I wonder what I could be doing this holiday season to make sure they know they are loved - by me, but more importantly, by God.

What ideas do you have? What is one simple thing we can do to reach the overlooked with love and compassion this Christmas season?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Give-A-Way #1!

"What if I told you, you have the power
To give someone hope far beyond their wildest dreams.
What if I told you, it's right there in your hands, in your hands.
It's hard to imagine how something so small
Could make all the difference, tear down the tallest wall.
What if December looked different this year?

"What if we all just give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there.
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive,
When you give this Christmas away.

"It's feeding the hungry, serving the poor,
It's telling the orphan, 'You're not forgotten anymore.'
It's doing what love does even when no one's watching you.
For God so loved the world that He gave us all His son,
So we could be His hands, His feet, His love... His love.

"What if we all just give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there.
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive,
When you give this Christmas away."
--from the song "Give This Christmas Away" by Matthew West

Want an uplifting moment?! You can watch the video and hear the song if you click here. What a great message for Christmas this year!

I'm giving away the book that was written based on the song, by Matthew West. It's a great book with LOTS of wonderful ideas for spreading love and cheer throughout the season - by giving Christmas away with money, actions, smiles, kindnesses, etc. (It's so neat, I bought myself one, too!)

So to enter the give-a-way for this fun little book, this is what you do:
1) leave a comment on this post for an entry
2) mention it on your blog for another entry (and let me know!)
3) post the link to the give-a-way on your Facebook for another entry (and let me know!)
4) become a "Follower" of this blog for another entry!

That gives you 4 possible entries! (And this is a practice round... There will be another give-a-way every week til the end of Advent!)

All entries need to be in by noon on Thursday, Dec. 10th.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spending Time

"A wise person once said that 'time is life.' Nothing could more certainly be true. Life is measured in the moments and the days we are given. And they are numbered... Finite. What makes life precious... what makes TIME precious... is that there is only so much of it. So to share time with someone is to share something precious, indeed. It is to share life itself - purer and more costly than gold."
--Love Finds a Voice in Bethlehem

God is there to share time with us everyday. Are we willing to share time with God? Or are we reluctant to even give one hour of worship a week to God?

How are you carving out time in your busy schedule to spend with God? Whether in prayer, reading, journaling... How do you spend time with God?

I'm working on a half hour every morning of reading, journaling, and praying... and then an Advent Devotional reading at dinner with my husband. I'd love to hear your ideas, too!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Time with God

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love... that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
--Ephesians 3:18-19

Into the busy-ness of this hectic season your word invites me to stillness - to sit and consider, to grasp and perceive the impossble dimensions of your love. To dive into it... to bask in it... to be filled with the fullness of God. I can't do that without lavishing you with a certain amount of my TIME, Lord. And as Christmas encroaches (yes, it honestly feels that way!), time is a commodity in short supply for me. That is no excuse. In fact, it should be the reason I NEED to spend time with you.
"Pilate asked Jesus, 'So you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this I was born, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.'"
--John 18:37

You WANT me to spend time with you. You want ME to spend time with you - to listen to you. During this busy season of Advent I hope the truth sinks into my busy mind: that you spent (and spend) time with me. Isn't that what this season celebrates after all? You left heaven to spend time with humanity - to teach us the heart of your Father... to suffer and die to win us back... to rise that heaven would be ensured us. You've certainly got my attention. I'm listening.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Month of Simplicity

"Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run. Let us run if we must... but let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us. And everything is worth its while if we only grasp it and its significance."
--Victor Cherbuliez

As I've been looking at my own schedule and list of things to do for this busy time of year... I feel I'm already failing on the "simplicity" challenge. I've decided to look at each engagement and obligation and decide - 1) do I WANT to do this? 2) do I NEED to do this? 3) how does this particular activity nurture my soul?

Most of my plans are already about family, friends, and fun homemade gifts! So now what?! How do you simplify further when you've already weeded out the things that don't need to be done and don't inspire or uplift your spirit?

When I'm overwhelmed and over-busy, I lose steam, lose joy, and lose appreciation for all that surrounds me - which is why I liked the quote above. "...Everything is worth its while if we can only grasp it..."

What have you noticed today that has made you stop, smile, and appreciate the season? Maybe part of simplifying is simply being aware of what is around us... even when we're off to something else!

So far today, I've noticed:
*one of my favorite ornaments on the tree lit up from the sun this morning
*a Jimmy Buffet Christmas song on the radio (that made me laugh)
*my little "Pause" gift on my desk that encouraged me to close my eyes and take a breath
*someone taking the time to drop off more presents for our Neighbor's collection
*some of my blogging friends doing tours of their Christmas decorations - and they all had Nativity Scenes!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Nov. 29, 2009

"No man is an iceberg drifting on the ocean of history. Each one of us belongs to a great family, in which he has his own place and his own role to play."
--Pope John Paul II

Usually on Sundays, I give an update of what happened at church today... But I wasn't there! I hope any of you who read this can fill in the blanks for me... I feel adrift when I'm not able to be at the weekly family party!

Here's what I do know:

During the Education Hour
**The children began talking about the season of Advent and God's promise to send a Savior. They were also given an Advent "Take-out Box" Devotional - a set of devotionals, a journal, and a candle to encourage the families to take time together this season and share scripture, prayer, and blessings.
**There was no Confirmation due to Thanksgiving Break.
**The Wired Word, our current events class, talked about rules and how they pertain to our walk with Jesus - which rules are timeless and which are time-limited.
**And our new Bible/Book Study for Advent began a discussion of "The Advent Conspiracy." There are still books available in the Narthex if you'd like to get in on the discussion!

The worship service was focused on Simplicity and "The Overlooked" Christmas Relatives. We've begun the lighting of the Advent wreath, singing the traditional Christmas tunes, and even singing the Doxology to the tune of "O Christmas Tree!" This Sunday the story of "The Pause" was shared - and all were invited to take home a pretty little package to remind them of being still, taking a rest, and appreciating this holy season. Oops! Carol reminded me to tell you that the little box was empty! It represents a "pause" - taking a break from the busy-ness of the season and enjoying the moment, opening your heart, and letting God in. Thanks Carol! After church, the Hanging of the Greens took place. All the decorations went up and a festive (and I heard, delicious) meal was served! Many thanks to the organizers and the cooks!

I've heard a lot of good things about today! I wish I could have been with you! (Did I leave anything out?)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Hands down, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It highlights the home and family. It is synonymous with stuff that can be found only at home - early morning fussing around in the kitchen, kids and grandkids, long distance phone calls, holding hands and praying before that special meal."
--Charles Swindoll

Today, as I awoke at 6:30am I grumbled a bit at the early hour... and then remembered WHY I was getting up so early! Today, Mike and I are walking at the Mall of America in the Walk to End Hunger! We're turning in over $900 that YOU helped us raise to serve those in our neighborhood who are without jobs, homes, food, and warm clothing. I love starting my Thanksgiving Day in this way - a way to count my blessings, give back, burn calories and spend time with friends. So much generosity and joy!

Then, we came back to the house, watched the Macy's parade, and continued a family tradition of making the centerpiece for the table while Mom cooks. My sister, dad, husband and I laughed, played, created, and laughed some more at this silly, but fun tradition, started many years ago (I'm pretty sure Mom started it as a way to keep us out of the kitchen while she prepared dinner!).
When the meal was prepared, we sat around the table with the feast and centerpiece before us. Dad shared his prayer that he had written just for today and we began to share what we were thankful for this year. Family, a warm home, food to eat, jobs, loved ones, laughter, joy - so much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving - and may the many blessings in your life be a reminder of the One who provides them this Holiday Season!

What are the Thanksgiving traditions in your home?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Thanks

This is the last update on our "Month of Generosity and Thanks" thankfulness chain! Be sure to check it out on Sunday - it's amazing how long the chain got by simply thinking of one or two things each week that we are thankful for!

These are the things our congregation was thankful for this week:

Mashed potatoes
The Macy's parade
The Walk to End Hunger
Christmas decorations
Donut holes
Warm mornings
Clean pants
Hugs and kisses
Good health
A great hike
A new house
My kitty
Losing weight
A great year
Fun-packed weekend

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"Thanksgiving puts power in living, because it opens the generators of the heart to respond gratefully, to receive joyfully, and to react creatively."
--AnonymousLooking for a way to respond in thanksgiving?

Walk to End Hunger is only two days away! You can still donate to support Megan and Mike Adams, Beth Johnson and family, Melissa Early and family, and Beth Hewitt and Jason! Just go to, on the left side of the page, click "Sponsor Participant." You can then type in one of our names and donate!

As of this writing, Megan and Mike are listed in the top five fundraisers for the event with $800 raised! THANK YOU to all who have donated! Neighbor's Inc will be so excited to receive these donations!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sermon Notes - Nov. 22nd, 2009

"The scriptures invite us to be 'overflowing' with gratitude. How splashy is that? How much thanks - and where?

If our thanksgiving is beginning to look like Niagara Falls perhaps we are getting the hang of it. "Maybe it looks like a bubbling fountain - overflowing with lushness and full of refreshing 'thank yous.' "I think about all the times when I don't overflow with thanks and wonder how much I think it costs to say words of appreciation, gratitude, or love. Words are free. And they are powerful - the 'I love you!' carries power far beyond the eight little letters needed to shape the sounds.

"This is the perfect week to take a small amount of time to send a note, email, card, flower, hug, whatever-it-takes to offer someone the blessing of being showered with abundant grace!"
--Pastor Penny Zettler

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Nov. 22, 2009

We celebrated another week of living thankfully - through our generosity - at church today!

Our Education hour was hopping with all kinds of wonderful discussions:
* The children talked about how God gives us courage to do what is right! (And they continued practicing for the Christmas Program! Mark your calendars for Dec. 20th!)
* The Confirmation class talked about those who share their faith with us by being role models of faithfulness.
* Beth led the last class on Philippians this Sunday - Thank you so much for your leadership!
* Beda led The Wired Word, discussing the latest news about mammogram guidelines.

Worship celebrated Thanksgiving a little early - talking about OVERFLOWING gratitude! Jill even did a spectacular stunt with the children's chat to illustrate what "overflowing" really looks like! (Here's a hint - what happens when you mix soda with Mentos candies?) In the end, the focus was that we have SO MANY blessings in our lives that we should be sharing with all those we meet - whether it's sharing words, kind gestures, money, gifts, our presence... There are so many ways to be generous in our daily lives and its up to us to figure how. It's up to us to figure out how to be "overflowing" with God's love.

How are you overflowing this week?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Praise and Thanks

"Gratitude... takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God."
--Thomas Merton

I don't know about you, but I take things for granted all the time... My warm home, food on the table, nice clothes, a loving family... all kinds of things, everyday. I take them for granted and I forget to say "thank you."

Part of being generous is being generous with our words - our thank yous, our praises of others, our acknowledgement of the blessings in our lives! That's why we've been making a paper chain of thankfulness at church - a reminder of ALL the things we have to be thankful for! That's why we've been starting meetings and small groups asking people to say something they are thankful for - an "out loud" reminder. That's why we keep talking about - and writing about - the blessings in our lives... it's so easy to take them for granted and to never say "thank you."

And when we take notice, when we appreciate, when we say "thank you" - we are being generous with our gratitude. We all like to be thanked and appreciated for the things we do - let's remember to thank those around us, too!

Who will you thank today?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Thanks

Half way through the week - looking for a pick-me-up? Here's some more things our congregations is thankful for! Feel free to add yours in the comment section!

Good health
Eric's soup
2010 will bring 2 new Great-grandchildren
Emotional support
20+ year olds
Understanding people
Fun people to work with
Hot tea
Good friends
Good parents
October rain
Beautiful frost on the ground
Smiles and hugs
Warm shiney weather
Productive days
Understanding husbands
Opportunity for growth
Young children
Those who follow through

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


"If we learn how to give of ourselves, to forgive others, and to live with thanksgiving, we need not seek happiness. It will seek us."

A perfect quote in the midst of the last couple of months at church! Forgiveness... Generosity of ourselves... Living with Thanksgiving. God - and happiness - are in them all!

When do you feel happiest?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sermon Notes - Nov. 15th, 2009

"Who is the most generous person you know? I love the story about the generosity of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. His life reflected his beliefs. As he finished his post graduate work, and began to teach, he was spending his salary in "typical" ways. His reason to live differently came in the shape of a cleaning woman who worked in his residence. He saw that she wasn't dressed for the cold. As he reached into his pocket to help her buy warmer clothing, he didn't have money to give. He realized he had spent his money on things that weren't making a difference in the world.

"From that moment on, he began to seriously give away his extra. Only he didn't define 'extra' the way I might. He decided he could easily live on the 30 pounds he was making, in fact, he gave away two. The following year, when his salary doubled, he continued to live on the 28 pounds he had been comfortable with the previous year, and gave away32 pounds. The next year he received a raise to 90 pounds: lived on 28, gave away 62 pounds. He kept this pattern throughout hs life - even when he was making 1,400 pounds through speaking and writing.

"Wesley felt that the Christian should not merely tithe but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of. He believed that with increasing income, what should rise is not the Christian's standard of living but the standard of giving.

"2 Corinthians 9:7 says that God loves a cheerful giver. May we be those particularly loved!"
--Pastor Penny Zettler

(Photo courtesy of Google Images.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Nov. 15, 2009

It was another beautiful day at St. Paul's UMC!

The education hour was learning all kinds of interesting things:
* The children talked about how wonderful God is and that we should find ways to worship and praise God all throughout our daily lives!
* The confirmation class met with Pastor Penny and their parents to watch the NOOMA video "Rich" and learn about all the ways we are rich and can give back to God.
* The Philippians study was talking about Paul encouraging us to take strength from God, live out our faith, and live with joy!
* And the Wired Word group was graciously led by Ryan this week - talking about the Fort Hood tragedy and were our faith fits into such horrible incidents.

Worship was continuing the theme of Extravagant Generosity - and all the ways our gifts can open doors in our lives, in our community, and in the world! Rhea generously shared part of her faith journey with us and Jeanette led a wonderful children's chat (reminding us of the childhood poem "here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and there's all the people!")! Today was also the first opportunity to make your pledge for 2010 - be sure to bring your pledge cards next week to support the ministries of SPUMC!

We are so blessed to have so many gifts and talents present in this congregation - so many ways that people are able to share their faith with one another. (And so many great cooks who bring yummy treats during fellowship hour!)

Watch tomorrow for Pastor Penny's sermon notes!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teaching Thankfulness

Our theme at church this month is generosity and thankfulness. Each Sunday (and other times while in church groups/meetings) we have been asked to write something we are thankful for on a chain link and we are making a large chain... it has been fun...something EVERYone can do....
It got me to thinking... I teach at a Junior High...special ed students to be specific...learning and behavior mostly. On Thursday I got to thinking about my students while I was at a church meeting writing on chain link...I was thinking "I wonder if my students would be able and WILLing to do the same activity...

I thought about it for awhile when I got home. I didn't want them to perceive it as a "baby" Junior Highers often do....I tried to come up with a clever poem to read to them...but I couldn't... I tried to come up with some things I am thankful for...but I just thought they would ignore me...

It was then that I spotted my Turkey.....
and thought...ah ha? I will offer them a sucker if they play along! And play along they did! I am proud of them... many came up with several things...some didn't want too...many passed up the sucker and some asked "can we do this again?" So...I will keep it up as long as they want to play! I think it is good for them!

(Submitted by Beth Johnson. Have a story about thankfulness or generosity you'd like to share? Email it to Megan at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thoughts on Saving - Clothes

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin." --Matthew 6:28

"As you build and sustain your wardrobe, there are many ways to keep it the style you want without spending too much.

"Define your style. Know what you want before you go looking so you won't buy something just because. It's like the grocery list. If you have a plan, you'll know what to look for. Avoid buying just because it's on sale. Even if it's a great sale. You don't need another one if you already have three like it in your closet.

"Avoid using credit cards as much as possible. If you have one that gives cash back on purchases or other perks that you will use, consolidate all your purchases on the one and pay it off, always, on time...

"...You can have great, personal style without overbuying. Set wardrobe goals. Don't shop and buy willy-nilly. Only buy what is a part of your plan.

"Avoid trendy clothes.
Buy clothes with lasting style.
Add flair with accessories.
Find quality clothes at alternative stores.
Avoid high-maintenance clothes.
Wash in ways to preserve the life of the fabrics.
Learn to sew on a button and mend a hole.
Find a good shoe guy (and a tailor if there's just no way you'll learn to sew!).
Use sales, coupons, and specials - and never pay full price.
Help the kids learn to shop and spend wisely.
Get support and help if you're spending your way into debt."
--from the book, "99 Ways to Stretch Your Budget" by Cheri Gillard

What's your favorite way to save on clothes?

(Photo courtesy of Google images.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009


"First, calculate whether you have enough money for all your needs today. If you do, stop focusing on lack this minute. You probably have all the money you need to take care of today's needs and more. It doesn't matter how much more. Anytime you have more than you need, you have abundance. Catch yourself the next time you start dwelling on what you don't have; switch tracks by noticing and appreciating all you do have. As this becomes a personal habit, you'll find yourself coping well with any amount of money you have, rather than worrying about it.

"Worry is a future-tense emotion. Worry is a projection of a possible - not necessarily probable - scenario. Will there be enough? Where will it come from? How long will it last?

"Transforming every 'What will I do?' into 'What can I do?' fuels your fiscal creativity, restoring a sense of peace as you pursue prosperity."
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, from "Simple Abundance"

What CAN you do today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Thanks

It's Wednesday - half way through the week and time for a pick-me-up!

This month at church, we're asking our congregation to write down one or more things they are thankful for on strips of paper so that we can make a gigantic paper chain of all the things we are thankful for - as a reminder of all the blessings in our lives.

When we can count our blessings, it makes it so easy to look at all we have to give!

Here are some of the things our congregation is thankful for this week...

St. Paul's UMC
Safe hunting trips
America's Bible Belt
Jesus Christ
True Friends
Book Group
Being with Friends
Nap Time
Dolores Dahl
The Painter
Mexican food at Teresa's
Friends and Family
Baby smiles and hugs
Warmer windows
Sunny warm days for kayaking
Tuesday is over
Relaxing December
Family on Thanksgiving
A spark of Spirit!
Thanksgiving break
A car that runs - and the resources to keep it running
A warm house
Love and grace
Those who work with children in crisis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Can I Do TODAY?

"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present."
—Albert Camus

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." --Luke 6:38

"In the movie 'Pay It Forward,' the concept of doing something good for someone else is presented in an unusual way. The idea is that when someone does something for you, instead of thanking them or repaying them, you 'pay it forward' by doing something good for someone else. In the movie, this kindness is usually done to complete strangers: a young reporter whose car is totaled is given a car by a stranger who had two. A homeless person who had been helped by someone saves a woman about to jump from a bridge. It is interesting to see the chain of goodness wind through the story. Some of the characters that pay it forward find themselves on the receiving end of someone else paying it forward.

"The above verse may be loosely paraphrased as 'pay it forward.' I have found this concept to be a good way to deal with the spirit of greed. When we have been especially helpful to someone, we may secretly hope to be rewarded in some way.

"However, if I adopt the spirit of paying it forward, then I let go of the desire to be thanked and rest in knowing that someone else down the line will benefit from the goodness I have shared."
--Valerie E. Hess, from "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional: a year of readings"

Carpe diem. Seize the day. We often think of these words when we want something, or when we are having a hard time getting up the nerve to do something for ourselves... What if we thought of this phrase when we were thinking about giving more of ourselves or our resources?

I'm going to look for some chances to do a Random Act of Kindness or two, today... If you're able to do one, please let us know! I'd love to hear (or read) your story!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sermon Notes - Nov. 8th, 2009

"'Seize the day!' might sound like an unusual invitation to extravagant generosity.

"In Luke 9:55-62, Jesus teaches his followers to pay attention to the importance of living today. 'Seize the day!' rings true as an invitation to make a move NOW on a life lived fully and well.

"A Jewish writer interpreting scripture sums up the invitation to life: "If not now, when?" It's easy to pile up reasons why now isn't the best time to give, to be generous, to be open handed or open hearted. But if I'm to make the most of every day I live, I want to make a move on generous living in this moment. I want to act today in ways that share what I've been given. I want to do today things that are grace-giving. I want to be a blessing in this hour. I don't want to wait to feel that I have extra before I give; I don't want to wait till I'm organized , till I have time, till I know how, till I grow up, retire, get my driver's license, learn to make bread, or any of the hundred things in my way. I want to be a giver now.

"This day seized -- by me. You too?"
--Pastor Penny Zettler

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Nov. 8, 2009

What a fun Sunday at St. Paul's UMC!

The kids were talking about remembering to be obedient to God, because that helps us to live together. And when we're tempted to disobey, we should ask God for help. (A lesson we could all try to remember...)

The Confirmation class talked about our ability to do great things when we ask God for help!

And while I don't know off-hand what the adult classes were discussing today - I'm sure it was thought-provoking and uplifting!

Worship was lively! We had a fun children's chat with Cathy - she gave each of the children $1 to use in a generous way this week! I can't wait to hear what they did with it! Sandy played the harp and sang, "You Lift Me Up" - absolutely beautiful! And Dolores shared a little of her life story and why generous giving is part of her life.

We laughed, we cried, we were grateful to be together!

(Watch tomorrow for a summary of Pastor Penny's sermon!)

Oh! And we shared another fabulous pancake brunch!

I'm thankful today for this church family - so many wonderful gifts, talents, and stories to share!

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thoughts on Saving - Food

As I've been rethinking our giving... and how much we have to give... I've also been thinking about all the money we spend that is wasteful - and it's a lot!

So, I'm considering some ways of saving money - Like John Wesley said, Gain all that you can, save all that you can, and give all that you can - right?

Here's a few ways to save on on food purchases:

* Plan menus - fewer trips to the store, planned purchases, strategic use of leftovers!
* Know the prices - use coupons, take a calculator (to compare quantity to price), watch for mistakes at the cashier, don't fall for 5 for $5 schemes if you only need one!
* Pack the pantry with staples when they are on sale - try canning or freezing! (Just don't buy more than you'll use... Don't let things go to waste!)
* Eat less meat (you don't need it everyday) or use recipes that stretch meat (like sloppy joe's or meatloaf).
* Junk the junk food. Eat healthier snacks like fruit or nuts, go for a walk when you feel the need for empty calories!
* Make homemade bread! Make up your mixes ahead of time, store the dry mix, and make the bread when you want it... Not only does it save time and money - but your house will smell wonderful!
* Drink more water! It's better for you and cheaper than sodas and sugary juices. If you worry about tap water, simply buy a filter... It's much cheaper and more environmentally sound than bottled water! (Also, make your own coffee and tea - it can cost pennies compared to stopping at a coffee shop!)
* Eat at home. Most of the time when we go out to dinner, it's because the "cook" of the family doesn't feel like cooking. Dinner out can easily cost 6-7 times what it would cost to make at home! So, take turns cooking so one person doesn't get burnt out or lazy! Make it a family affair and it's the perfect opportunity for conversation and fun!
* Dining out - drinks and tips quickly add to the bill. Order from the carry-out menu for cheaper prices and eat it in the comfort of home, or take it for a picnic! Instead of delivery, pick it up - you save the delivery charge and the tip. When you do go out, split a meal or take home the leftovers for a second meal (portions these days are easily large enough to do this!).
* Make homemade recipes and freeze them for easy dinners (like pizza or spaghetti).
* Use re-usable grocery bags! It saves about 10 cents per bag and it's environmentally responsible!

What are your money-saving strategies when it comes to food?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Gift for Two

"It was a beautiful day for sightseeing around downtown Portland. We were a bunch of counselors on our day off, away from the campers, just out for some fun. The weather was perfect for a picnic, so when lunch time came, we set our sights on a small park in town. Since we all had different cravings, we decided to split up, get what each of us wanted, and meet back on the grass in a few minutes.

"When my friend Robby headed for a hot dog stand, I decided to keep her company. We watched the vendor put together the perfect hot dog, just the way Robby wanted it. But when she took out her money to pay him, the man surprised us. "It looks a little on the cool side," he said, "so never mind paying me. This will be my freebie of the day."

"We said our thanks, joined our friends in the park, and dug into our food. But as we talked and ate, I was distracted by a man sitting alone nearby, looking at us. I could tell that he hadn't showered for days. Another homeless person, I thought, like all the others you see in cities. I didn't pay much more attention than that.

"We finished eating and decided to head off for more sightseeing. But when Robby and I went to the garbage can to throw away my lunch bag, I heard a strong voice ask, "There isn't any food in the bag, is there?"

"It was the man who had been watching us. I didn't know what to say. "No, I ate it already."

"Oh," was his only answer, with no shame in his voice at all. He was obviously hungry, couldn't bear to see anything thrown away, and was used to asking this question.

"I felt bad for the man, but I didn't know what I could do. That's when Robby said, "I'll be right back. Please wait for me for a minute," and ran off. I watched curiously as she went across to the hot dog stand. Then I realized what she was doing. She bought a hot dog, crossed back to the trash can, and gave the hungry man the food.

"When she came back to us, Robby said simply, "I was just passing on the kindness that someone gave to me."

"That day I learned how generosity can go farther than the person you give to. By giving, you teach others how to give also."
--by: Andrea Hensley, "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul"

What have you "paid forward" this week?

(Photo courtesy of Google Images.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It's Wednesday - half way through the week and time for a pick-me-up!

This month at church, we're asking our congregation to write down one or more things they are thankful for on strips of paper so that we can make a gigantic paper chain of all the things we are thankful for - as a reminder of all the blessings in our lives.
When we can count our blessings, it makes it so easy to look at all we have to give!

Here are some of the things our congregation is thankful for so far...

Madden 09
An extra hour of sleep
Daylight savings time
A warm home
St. Paul's Church
Being cancer-free
Good health
Great Grandchildren
Pastor Penny
Bright tomorrows
Warm sweaters
60 years of marriage

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Useful Pair

"When I was president of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, one of my favorite treks was to Columbus, Indiana. There lived Fran and Chuck, both in their eighties, who were major donors to the seminary. A couple times a year my job was to give Fran and Chuck a "great opportunity for usefulness." I would take them out to lunch and dinner, spend a pleasant afternoon telling stories about what was happening in the world of theological education, and work into the conversation my my case for increased levels of support. Before I left in the evening to drive back to Dayton, I usually received a check for the annual fund. The first ones started out at $5,000. By the time I left United to go to Drew, their checks were in the amounts of $15,000 and $20,000.

"United was one of their smaller charities. Fran and Chuck spent their last years having the time of their life. They sat on a back porch in Indiana and waited for the world to come to their door. And the world did. Heads of universities, ministries, and charities from around the world traveled to Columbus, Indiana. Some of the biggest names in education, the arts, and the church drove into an unassuming retirement community, spent the day with two enchanting individuals, and paid for all their meals. Fran and Chuck were besieged with gifts. Their walls were crowded with pictures of world leaders. Their calendar was crowded. They never cooked. Every day was different.

"Fran and Chuck decided that they were in a time of life where they could live off a reverse tithe, no more than 10 percent of their income. Their goal was to spend as little as possible on themselves and to give away as much as they could on causes they believed in. Some of my peers were receiving checks of $50,000 or more when they came to call. Some got only $1,000. But here were an elderly couple whose last years were their best years because they got a theology of receiving right."
--an excerpt from the book, "Soul Salsa," by Leonard Sweet

Consider this quote from John Wesley:
Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your neighbor, in soul or body, by applying hereto with unintermitted diligence, and with all the understanding which God has given you. Save all you can, by cutting off every expense which serves only to indulge foolish desire, to gratify either the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life. Waste nothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children. And then, Give all you can, or in other words give all you have to God.

Do you think you could live like this: make all you can; save all you can; give all you can?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sermon Notes - Nov. 1st, 2009

"Sunday's sermon is prompted by the invitation in I Timothy 6:17-19 to live with "extravagant generosity." God has formed us so that our hearts are happiest when we are giving--just like God. All we have is gift from God, and we are created to live into God's image by also being great givers.

"I grew up thinking that probably God (and the church) needed my money. Now I understand more, and I understand that God does not need my money but that when the Bible encourages me to give, it's for my own good.

"Jesus taught that where our 'stuff' is tells a great deal about our lives. The best life is found in giving: back to God, to change the world; to others, to soften their rough edges; to friends, to help through rough times; or to family, to encourage love to grow.
"How and where can I best give? A smile? A cookie? A fixed computer? A joke? A ride? A clean toilet? Pick up a helping spirit and look for ways to help heal the world."
--Pastor Penny Zettler

(Photo courtesy of Google Images.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Greetings Members and Friends of St. Paul's United Methodist Church!

This is a new blog - written to inspire thoughts, experiences, discussions, and exploration into our lives of faith. We want to encourage each other to think about our Spiritual Habits in new ways - ways that we can live out in our daily lives, ways that connect us to God, ways that connect us to each other, and ways that connect us to the world! A life of faith is one that is meant to be joyful, engaging, compassionate, energetic, and ALIVE! And so... We begin this new journey together - a journey that will, hopefully, help us move into a more passionate way of living our faith OUT LOUD!

The month of November will be centered around the spiritual practice of Generous Giving - so I invite you today to share one thing you have given away in the last week... Was it a smile? a lending hand? a cookie? a donation?
Since this is meant to be a place to share our experiences - I encourage you to sign on, and leave comments! We learn most from our peers when we are able to share our lives with one another...

So where did you give this week?

(Picture courtesy of Google Images.)