Happy “No Fear” New Year

Wxmom.cc

The year just passed was a real “doozy.” Yes, there were many good things to affirm and celebrate, but 2015 was also a year marred by fear, hate, violence, and nasty political posturing and rhetoric. We wrestled with (or avoided) legitimate concerns about climate change, poverty and income inequality, safety and security, homelessness and the plight of refugees, racism (and a host of other -isms), and the continued slaughter of black men and youths. Yes, 2015 is better left behind, and I pray we’re wiser for having lived through it.  Continue reading “Happy “No Fear” New Year”

Jesus and the Stewardship of Self

Cross and Starfish

It’s tough to be good stewards of our time, our relationships, and our finite resources. I’ve been reflecting on this topic a lot lately, especially in light of the wonderful Rostered Leaders Wellness Retreat our Lower Susquehanna Synod hosted with support from Portico Benefits (our insurer), Thrivent Financial, and Lutheran World Relief.

We spent a wonderful two days at the Hershey Hotel with wonderful food, great collegiality, worship, Bible study, and time for yoga, meditation, and financial stewardship workshops. We were also treated to chair massages and a prayer labyrinth. Just having time to see colleagues from all parts of our synod and to treat ourselves to a lovely setting that most of us would never consider going otherwise was a lavish gift.

Even better, our keynote presenter, Dr. Mike Brown, explained healthy living through a heart healthy diet and exercise. His presentation was fun, engaging, and humorous. My husband and I have  been comparing labels ever since and are committed to being attentive to “what goes in our mouth and what we do with our feet.”

Here’s a link to the reflection I wrote this week on the Narrative Lectionary reading for February 8, 2014, posted on the Stewardship of Life Institute website. Seems our Lord Jesus Christ knew a lot about health and wellness and provides a wonderful model for stewardship of self. Thank you, Jesus!

Moving Day and a New(ish) Adventure

Paretz Partensky cc

Dear Friends,

It’s been a crazy busy year, and it’s time to simplify. For several years now I’ve tried (with mixed results) to keep two blogs going, to write weekly for the Stewardship of Life Institute, to write periodically for other publications, and to write and edit a hefty portion of the communications for the Lower Susquehanna Synod, ELCA (my call and vocation as a pastor). I also completed the first draft of my first full-length novel in November (thank you NaNoWriMo!). Thankfully, I have an amazing husband and awesome family who support my “word play.”

A lot of my writing is on the topic of stewardship, and trying to keep too many writing projects in the hopper is simply NOT good stewardship of time, energy, and resources. To that end, 2015 is the year of writing more simply. This means that all of my writing will be migrating to my blog onewritelife.com effective tomorrow, December 31, 2014.

I hope you’ll follow me there and continue to read about gratitude, thanks-living, stewardship, faith, and writing. The coffee will be brewing several times a week, and fresh prose will await. Let’s live life fully one word at a time in 2015.

Good-bye Adventures in Thanksliving. Hello, One Write Life! Hope to see you there!

Sharron

Photo: Paretz Partensky, Creative Commons

Here’s a wonderful essay by friend and fellow author Julia Park Tracey. Check out her book website (links provided) and then get a copy of the book. You’ll enjoy it!

Adventures in Thanks-Living

(This is a guest post by friend, author, and fellow Compactor, Julia Park Tracey. Be sure to check out the website for the book. Enjoy!)

For the past year I have been sharing snippets and excerpts from the “Doris Diaries,” a collection of diaries from the 1920s through 1940s that I inherited from my Aunt Doris. The first volume of these has just been published as I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen (1925-1926). It has been an unexpected pleasure to spend time in the presence of someone I miss very much, and whose presence in my life was akin to a fairy godmother.

When my great aunt Doris, who passed away in 2011, was beginning to fail, starting to lose some steam in that last of her 101 years, she asked me to take care of her private things, not to…

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Here’s the latest book I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) during my recent convalescence.

Adventures in Thanks-Living

Occasionally a book comes along that just flat out tickles my fancy and keeps me turning pages in anticipation and delight. This is the kind of book I don’t want to put down. I want to savor certain snippets so much that I find myself turning again to particular quotes  and scenes. I find myself torn between galloping through to the end or savoring each page. A book like this is an experience, one that leaves the reader wanting more. Such is the case for me with I’ve Got Some Lovin’ to Do: The Diaries of a Roaring Twenties Teen.

Doris Louise Bailey began keeping a diary in 1925, at the tender age of 15. Chronicling her adventures became a practice she would continue throughout her long life. After her death in 2011 at the age of 101, her great-niece, author and editor Julia Park Tracey, found herself in…

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The Gift of Connection & Community

No man (sic) is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. — John Donne, from Meditation XVII

Jacobean poet John Donne’s powerful words still ring true today, although humankind still strives for distinction and personal space. However, for the one who practices the art of “thanks-living,”the joy and the meaning of life are found in the connections forged among us. The meaning of life is expressed in community and communion rather than the glories of individualism and singular achievement.

“I did this” or “I made that” the human mind is apt to proclaim. The truth is that nothing is completely original, and we all build upon the lives, creativity, and experiences of others. We, too, will leave a legacy for good or ill upon which our successors must build.

Yes, that’s correct–“we.” Because we do not live in isolation. Even Thoreau in his Walden woods cabin could not completely separate the individual and his efforts from the joys and delights of a shared creation. The same sun and moon and stars that shone on Walden Pond still shine on all of us today. The same life-giving rain and nurturing soil belongs to all creation, not to you or me alone. Nothing can truly be held only by the individual, despite our illusions to the contrary.

We may build fences and wall and fortresses, but they will crumble and fall eventually. Robert Frost knew this when he wrote the poem “Mending Wall,” and said “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/What I was walling in or walling out,/And to whom I was like to give offence./Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…”

We are created to be our best in various constructs of community. We form family units, schools, churches, clubs, cooperatives, and any number of other groups that gather around shared purpose and goals. Together we are stronger than the isolation of our individual parts. When we break down walls and remove barriers, amazing things happen. Life and love flourish if given the most minute of opportunities.

One small example is our backyard garden. In all probability two new raised beds would have remained a dream without the joyous self-giving of our friend and neighbor, Debbie. She brought her tools, knowledge, energy, and laughter to the effort. She generously brought alpine strawberries, Egyptian walking onions, and black-eyed Susans to be planted. Other neighbors and friends, Ida, Audrey, and Creta gave their extra tomato and onion plants so that we now have an abundance to share with others.

Our little backyard garden, still very much a work in progress, is not something that we can claim as “ours.” It is the gift and product of community, the fruit of connection, and a harvest of true blessings.

Questions to Ponder

What strands of connection and community are you weaving into your life?

Who gives to you and to whom do you give?

What harvest of blessings might you celebrate during this season?

Photos by Linda N and steppnout. Thanks!

Here’s a wonderful reflection on gratitude from fellow blogger Paul Mark Sutherland of GYAtoday. My thanks to him for sharing. Enjoy!

GYA today

Fall arrives in the Northern Hemisphere tomorrow, September 22, 2012. I love fall. But, I’m not in a hurry for it to arrive, I will happily wait one more day and enjoy today. That’s because today, September 21, is one of my favorite days. Besides being the last day of summer, it is also World Gratitude Day, which was established globally in 1965 and has been slowly gaining steam.

To commemorate World Gratitude Day, I have compiled my 50 favorite quotes on gratitude and appreciation. Since I painstakingly etched them on a parchment scroll, I thought I should share them. So, I have unfurled the scroll below for all to see. Collectively, they all lead back to the same benefits, but they each have their own subtle nuance or shade. Hence the title, 50 Shades of… oh well, you know what I mean.

This collection is not all-inclusive, of course, so…

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Moving Day

What a week! It’s been one replete with blessings, heartaches, work, and worry. It has also had bright moments of joy lavished with laughter and seasoned with love.

Daughter the Elder and I moved Daughter the Younger into her dorm room on Thursday. The minivan was completely loaded, but it all fit nicely into her space (see photo above), and she’s not contacting me much, so that means she’s doing o.k. No news is good news when it comes to the college freshman on the first weekend.

Is it easier the second time around? No, not really. At least one knows what to expect, but it’s still an emotional day. You want your child to soar. You want her to do well, make good friends, be inspired to learn, grow as a scholar and person, and have fun, too. You just want it to be good.

Yes, there were a few tears, although I held it together until we got to the highway. She’s ready. I’ll be fine. It’s all good. I am thankful she has this opportunity, and I’m grateful to have had this day with both daughters. Even the requisite trip to Taco Bell was alright.

I am so thankful to have spent this day with two young women whom I love so very much. There’s only one problem now; it’s way too quiet around here. Sigh.

The Power of Blessing

Want to really make a difference in someone’s life? Offer them a blessing. Let them know through your words and expression how much you care about them and  their well-being.

Adrian, a retired gentleman in the congregation I serve, offers me a blessing as he exits the building each Sunday. He probably doesn’t realize it, but his blessing means a lot to me. “Drive carefully and be safe going home,” he says with a firm handshake. I can tell by the look in his eyes–one of kindness, caring, and concern–that he means it. And I do feel blessed when I finally get into my car and turn the key. The fact that someone has wished me well with a simple act of blessing makes the journey homeward both more intentional and more joyous.

Think about it. We receive so many negative messages as we move through our days. We pass like ships or collide like bumper cars as we hurry and worry and scurry about. A blessing possesses real power to transcend the negative. A blessing provides common ground even between or among the most different of folks. A blessing pours healing balm into the wounded heart and calms the weary soul.

Don’t believe me? Try it. Bless someone close to you. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. A simple “You are important” or “May you be blessed this day with the goodness of God.” You can wish someone wellness, safety, security, peace or whatever seems right. You possess the power to bless, to make someone’s day better, to bring joy, happiness, and respite from suffering.

I give thanks for Adrian’s blessings. I am thankful for the lesson he teaches me each week in the power and importance of blessing others. The gift of blessing is free, and it is yours and mine to share prodigally.

May you be blessed this day with peace, love, and hope. Be safe now! Be blessed!

Photo by Sahaja Meditation used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!