Tuesday, September 28, 2010

baby it's fall outside

-Fritz's (my parents' dog) warm, chocolate brown eyes. He's the friendliest dog ever.

-My Mom all geared up to go to The Riding Center, where she helps with rehabilitating special-needs kids through horseback riding. Such a great thing to do.

-Being able to work on my laptop on the back porch, with the cool fall breeze wafting around me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

making waves

-Making one more little trip to the beach with my Mom and enjoying the refreshing breeze and warm sunshine, swimming in the briny ocean, munching on crunchy coconut shrimp and reading with the sound of the waves undulating in front of me.

-Going to "my office" (aka the coffee shop in town that has great wireless) to work on next Sunday's sermon and being greeted cheerily by the girl at the counter with, "Hey! You look cute today!" The weather's suddenly turned a little autumnal and so I wore a soft blue scarf.

-Grabbing a burger at Jim's where Ashley works. She greeted me with an exaggerated wave from the back. Another woman working there come straight over to the people behind us with a coffee pot in her hand and said with a smile, "I put it on as soon as you walked in the door." Later, she said to me, "Aren't you Ashley's friend? Did you get sunburned at the beach too?" I love small towns.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

pure and undefiled religion

My Mom and I were heading to Port Aransas for the day yesterday (that's right, 2nd beach trip in 3 days) and right outside of Victoria, she suddenly pulled off the road next to a large gas station and said "I think you would appreciate seeing this." It was the place where 19 immigrants died in the back of a truck with no ventilation or air conditioning on May 14, 2003. These people weren't "aliens," they weren't "illegals," they were human beings. And they died in the effort to have a better life for their families here. To make their story only about politics is an insult to their memory, this is a story about families (the first to die of suffocation and heat was a 5-year-old boy). But to not let this story impact our politics is also an insult to their memory.

I stood there at the little shrine dedicated to the memory of these immigrants (who, like my ancestors, just wanted a better life) and looked at the offerings of bottles of water, too late. Toys, never to be played with. Crosses and rosaries left forgotten along a dusty road.

I know my blog is often about joyful moments, and I've often been accused of being "too happy" (to which I respond that sometimes my glimpses of grace are the three less-bad things that happen that day, you know?). But this Sunday morning, this is not a glimpse of grace. It's a disgrace. I'm aware that an overwhelming theme in both the Old and New Testaments is care for the foreigner, stranger and poor. We have a lot of work to do. Below is an excerpt from the Belhar Confession, adopted as a confession by the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, 24 years ago today, at the height of apartheid. I need to hear it this morning. My favorite line is "We believe that for God pure and undefiled religion is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering." What is our religion this Sunday morning?

We believe

that God has revealed himself as the one who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people;

that God, in a world full of injustice and enmity, is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor and the wronged

that God calls the church to follow him in this;

for God brings justice to the oppressed and gives bread to the hungry;

that God frees the prisoner and restores sight to the blind;

that God supports the downtrodden, protects the stranger, helps orphans

and widows and blocks the path of the ungodly;

that for God pure and undefiled religion

is to visit the orphans and the widows in their suffering;

that God wishes to teach the church to do what is good and to seek the right;

that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need,

which implies, among other things,

that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice,

so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;

that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands,

namely against injustice and with the wronged.

Friday, September 24, 2010

a day at the beach

One of my oldest friends Ashley and I decided to head to Port Aransas for a day at the beach. It's been raining everyday because of pesky hurricanes in the Gulf, but we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful sunny day. Being greeted with a yummy egg and potato taquito for the little road trip was pretty awesome too.

The view from inside my big floppy beach hat.

We were lazily ambling along the beach and picking up shells here and there and one of us remarked, "Hmm, the tide's really coming in." Realizing that our chairs and things might be affected by that, the other said, "We better walk faster!" We discovered that our flip flops were trying to make a break for it and my (ahem, my Mom's--sorry!) book got a little wet. Considering the dedication in it, it's not all that surprising. :)

Beach "Logde"...the sign might be misspelled, but it was a great relaxing lunch spot.

There's just nothing like the feel of the warm sea on my toes. It was such a rejuvenating day. And a wonderful way to catch up with a great friend.

God is good.

Monday, September 20, 2010

two wonderful things

I came back to discover that two wonderful Belfastic things had arrived while I was away. One was the amazing stool that Fitzroy built for me as a going away present. This short gal has to have a step to preach on and now I have one handmade by Albert with the Fitzroy logo beautifully carved into it. What a gift.

The second thing that arrived was a wonderful video emailed to me from Andrea and Tilmann in Berlin. Andrea's so funny and I miss them so much. We had a lovely little Skype call today while I was working on things in the coffee shop. I was eating a cinnamon roll and they were eating nutella crepes and it really did feel like we were sharing a table and catching up.

graceful mo-ments

I had such a brilliant time at Mo Ranch for their Young Adult Weekend. There was something about knowing I had this past weekend to look forward to that made leaving Belfast a tiny bit easier. I expected a weekend full of deep sabbath, lasting friendships and spiritual nourishment and was not the least bit disappointed. From seeing old friends and making new ones, to hearing the soul-resonating, thoughtful lyrics of David Lamotte, to reading my Bible under the cypress trees with a cup of coffee, to singing Sanctuary after having communion, to drawing my journey in swirls and colors, to soaking in the melodic rapids, to late-night jam sessions, it was such a rich, thin (as in heaven-and-earth-closeness) experience. I'm so grateful to have a place like Mo that always reminds me of who I am and Who God is. I am reminded that no matter how unknown the future, God's peace that disturbs me out of complacency is stirring deep within every email with a church, every midnight prayer for clarity, and every conference call. David Lamotte said it best as he closed our worship on Sunday, "You are loved, and so special to God. And we have work to do." Amen.

comfort, tx (the actual place)

En route to Mo Ranch for their Young Adult Conference, I (through the good advice of my Mother) decided to go to Comfort, Texas (because who doesn't want to go to a place called Comfort?). It's an adorable town chock full of antique stores and I had such a lovely afternoon. I dined on a fabulous homemade jalapeno pimento cheese sandwich and sweet tea next to a hilarious group of women who were waving their hands in the air to show how it apparently makes veins on your hands disappear so they appear younger. I wandered through antique shops and ended up having an extended conversation with one shop owner who was a retired Nasa engineer about Portrush, Northern Ireland on the coast, where we'd both been. I watched bees buzz around vibrant flowers that spilled over fences to take over sidewalks. The afternoon was slow-paced, Texan, relaxing and grace abounded.