Monday, April 29, 2019

If I had known

I miss my mom.  My grief comes in unexpected waves now, and today happens to be one of those days where I really miss her.  It was 3 years ago that we learned we would be moving to Moscow Idaho and leaving my parents in California.  Leaving them was the hardest part of our decision. Over 8 years they had spent a lot of time with us. At first, visiting about every 6 weeks. Then, as my mom’s health got worse and she had more appointments in Los Angeles, they were with us for months at a time.  And then, all of the sudden, we weren’t going to be there.  And in two more months, my dad would take my mom from our house in Valencia to a care facility in San Gabriel.  It would be the last time I hugged or saw my mom in person.  When it happened, I knew it could be the last, that she wasn’t well and the doctors weren’t doing much, but even though I knew it mightbe, I don’t think I dared to believe it would be.  I have to think that if I had known, for sure, that I would have hugged her longer, been more effusive in telling her how important she was to me and showing her my love.  I look back at pictures from those months and wish I had taken more pictures.  She wasn’t in great shape, she was super heavy and couldn’t get up to walk or shower regularly.  And it didn’t really seem like something worth capturing in a picture, but what I didn’t realize or even think about was how few pictures I would have of her with me, or with my kids from those months. And since Steven was only a baby at the time, there would be far too few pictures of them together—despite her deep love for him and the fact that he would have absolutely adored her. It’s nothing I can change now, and isn’t the worst thing that could have been, but it is certainly something I grieve now.  I tried to do it all without regrets—caring for her, helping my dad, having her at our house, visiting her in the care facility—but there were some things I simply couldn’t see to make a different choice.  

Monday, August 27, 2018

2 year anniversary

Dear Mom,
I miss you. A LOT. Some days it feels like I could just call you up and ask your advice, or that we'll see you on the next visit. And other days I get hit with a ton of're not here and you won't be here. And I should have appreciated you more. Seen all that you did with greater clarity. And Lord knows I should have asked more questions. You were so smart. So learned. You understood people and systems and things. And I wish I had you here. I don't have another you. 

Grief stinks. Ok, so maybe it doesn't. It helps you move through all the emotions and remember  the people you love. it can humble you. Teach you. And make you more grateful. It can even help you live better, more appreciative for what you've lost, more attentive to those you still have. The part that stinks is the losing. More specifically the losing and not getting back.  

Friday was two years since you'd died. Approaching the anniversary didn't feel so bad. Even the day of was OK. Until the fatigue hit...the one that marks my grief in an odd way. I'd expect uncontrollable tears, but those only come when I write. Instead my grief comes as this crazy thick fatigue where I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm sure if you were here you'd know the science and physiology of it to explain it all to me. But instead I have my questions still unanswered.


Thursday, June 28, 2018


Holy One,
Draw us close to you.
Speak life into our lives.
Move the mountains of injustice in our world. 
Calm the storms of hate and fear.
Draw us together by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Build us up in humility and hope.
Guide our steps.
Give us courage to live like Jesus.
By the power of the One who was,
and is,
and is to come. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Imminent and transcendent God, 
We welcome you to our church today.
Center our hearts and our minds.
Help us devote ourselves fully to you.
Help us surrender our agenda and our will to yours.
Send your Holy Spirit
to bless and convict us.
In Jesus' name we pray,

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Prayer of confession

Based on the temptation in the desert

Lord God,
We confess we have been tempted.
In the desert places where all we saw was all we didn't have and couldn't get.
In the high places where we needed you to show up, to know you are real, for you to take our side.
And on mountain tops where the world was ours for the taking.
We regret that sometimes we took the bait.
We chose short-lived satisfaction,
the things that tested you,
 and the successes that made us look good.
For all the times we failed to be faithful and choose you,
we ask for your forgiveness.

What you have to offer is so much greater and durable than the things of the world.
Help us to remember that.
Help us to cling to you.
Give us holy wisdom.
Give us self control.
Give us humility.
So that we may become more like Jesus with each choice we make.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Doing it all again

I’m not really sure what’s lurking. Only that I’m perpetually tired….like really tired. Like ready for bed by 8 tired.  Last night it was ready to sleep at 6 tired, but I have kids, so that didn’t really work out.  And it may just be that I’m tired. But since my mom died, I’ve learned that crazy tired is actually a sign of unacknowledged grief. So, my guess is that somewhere there’s a pocket of emotion that’s built up and keeps sapping my energy. And the best way I've found to find it is to write....

I’m not really sure what it might be exactly, only that I miss my mom.  I wish I could do Christmas with her again.  Last year was hard, but it didn’t feel hard, I guess because I was expecting it to be hard.  But this year, the grief feels worse.  I remember a woman from my second church whose husband had died.  She said, “The first year of grief sucks, but the second year is so much worse because you have to do it all over again.  I mean, you get through the first Christmas, birthday, anniversary, etc without them, and then you have to do it all again.”

It seems insanely obvious that after someone dies you would have to do all the things without them from that day on, year after year, and that’s true.  But it’s hard to do the work of grief, the expressions and the deep deep feeling, only to realize despite your best efforts, there’s more deep stuff and sadness there.  

So there’s both a deep longing—one where I wish she were here, where the decorations are mostly all a reminder of her…the table cloth she bought me, the napkins, the Christmas dishes, the “our first home” ornament, the clothes, the symbols…so much of it beckoning forth her memory and she’s not here to enjoy it or share it.  And there’s a deep sadness, an emptiness because of her absence.  And frankly, it’s exhausting.  

Yesterday we received a package that included See’s candy. That’s a special treat up here since there aren’t See’s stores nearby.  And See’s was always a favorite of my grandma and my mom.  So when I open the box to enjoy some candy, I’m inclined to offer some to my mom, or save some for when she gets here.  Only she’s not here and she won’t be coming…not again, not ever.  

And there’s the grief.  Hard and fast and strong and deep.  I miss her.  I wish I could talk to her. Appreciate her more.  Ask more questions. Learn more things.  But I can only pull from my memories, and those of others who know and love and remember her. And, for today, that’s the best I can do.  

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Children's time for All Saints' Sunday

(Give the kids a clementine.)

Today we are going to talk about savoring things.  Do you know what “savor” means? Savor means to enjoy…taking in every detail.  

So we’re going to take a minute to practice. We’re going to savor these oranges.  Before we open them, we want to look at them…what shape are they? what color are they?  

We want to feel them, how do they feel?  

We want to smell them, how do they smell?  

You get to anticipate what they will taste like…we’ll have you do your taste test up in activity time.  

But savor means we take time to look, and smell, and touch and feel something.  If we think about it, it can be easy to savor lots of things.  Even things we can’t taste…we could savor the beauty of a flower…how it looks and feels and smells….even though we wouldn’t likely eat it.  

We can also savor memories….we can think about someone or sometime and think about how it felt…was it warm out, or cold.  What were the things we saw?  Did we eat anything? Was it sweet or salty? crunchy or chewy?  

And we can do the same with people…what were they wearing? How did they wear their hair?  Were they wearing perfume or cologne that we liked? what did their voice sound like?  Did they give good hugs or have a big smile?  

Today, we are remembering the saints…we’re talking about people that we have loved who have died.  And we can’t hug them, or look at them in front of us…but we can savor our memories….remembering little details…maybe things that make us laugh or smile, maybe even things that touch our heart and make us happy. Savoring memories is one of the best ways we can continue to hold someone in our heart even when we can’t be with them in real life.  

Let us pray. 

Morning Prayer

Lord Jesus, guide my thoughts and my words. Help me to understand your Word in a way that is easy to share with others. May the words that I preach glorify and honor you. May the message of the day draw people nearer to you and to the saints. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Need for creative writing

One of my key roles is to be a story teller. It is my job to convey the stories and significance of the Bible in meaningful and relatable ways.  One of the best ways to do that is storytelling.  Some scriptures come alive easily and readily and others require that you mine the significance.  Often, as a preacher, I can recognize my preaching as a true gift from God in how easily the words come.  And, I know I’m struggling when I have to fight to write.  It may be that my spirit is dry, or that my mind is distracted. But, clearly, one way or the other I have something to work on. 

I often have multiple writing commitments (sermons, articles, FB postings…) those things can be fun, but they can also be a drag. And often I struggle to get those done if I’m not writing freely without expectations or constraints.  My hope is to revive my blog a bit to help stir that creative energy that I miss on a day to day basis.