Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rhubarb Pie

This post has its very own soundtrack provided by the ska stylings of Five Iron Frenzy. Go ahead-- press play!

Can you hear the music? Good. I love this song-- not only because it has a catchy off-beat feel with a walking bass and horn interjections, but also because it's about one of my very favorite things about spring and summer!

"Rhubarb pie, in the Summer. Rhubarb pie, made by my mother." Sometimes it's some of the simplest things in life that make us smile the most. Yes, my mom's rhubarb pie definitely gives me something to smile about and, as the song says, it makes my mouth water just to think about it!

Mom's rhubarb pie is definitely tasty, but it's more than just a delicious treat. It's the memories involved that really make it special; it's having the family at the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon, clearing away the dinner plates, brewing some coffee, and hearing mom announce, "And now, it's time for pie." Glorious.

Maybe you don't get as excited as I do about mom's rhubarb pie, but I sincerely hope that you have something that has the same effect for you. What is a little thing that makes life special for you? What is your "rhubarb pie?" Think on it while you bounce to the music...

Here's to Days Just Packed with rhubarb pie!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lent VI: Grudges

Carrying a grudge can often get quite heavy, especially if you're trying to carry it over a long distance or a long period of time. Sometimes however, it seems like it would be a lot easier to just hold onto a grudge than it would be to forgive someone.  It isn't, by the way. A grudge will eat at your soul until there is nothing left, and forgiveness is the only way to come out of it alive.  Just because you forgive someone doesn't mean that you have to be best buddies, but it does mean that you no longer hold over their head whatever it is that they did.

"Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."  
~Malachy McCourt

Have I been holding a grudge? Yes, or at least I had been for awhile. Have I let it go yet? Mostly. It still needs some work. These things take time, but I have taken some great steps toward reconciliation.

Over the last week of Lent (Holy Week), focus on the last two petitions of the Lord's Prayer:

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Here's to Days Just Packed with letting go of grudges!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lent V: Fasting

I am not good at fasting-- at all. I'm sure I'm completely missing the point, but I just don't see any worth in depriving my body of much-needed nutrition on purpose. I realize that fasting is a way to show spiritual and physical discipline in devotion to God (or one's specific cause), but I find it much easier to concentrate and be productive when I've had a meal.

I think it's good that I recognize this fact about myself and come up with an alternative to fasting: Since I don't like to go without food, I will donate to the food bank so that others, who aren't given the choice, will not have to go without food either.

 On to the next week:

April 6: Forgive us our Trespasses, as we Forgive those who Trespass against us
Focus: Giving up a grudge and replacing with prayer for our enemies and seeking reconciliation.

Here's to Days Just Packed with finding alternative ways to serve!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lent IV: Facebook

Was giving up social media a successful sacrifice for me? No, not really. In my defense, I don't usually use the Facebook for mindlessly browsing the newsfeed for the latest gossip-- usually, but I still do. Is that a constructive use of my time? Not really, but sometimes a bit of good can come out of it. As I said earlier, it is good to stay balanced and maintain a relationship with God, your family, and your friends.

God may not have a physical (legitimate) Facebook page, but you can find Him there. God shows up in people's posts, photos, groups, and likes. Satan shows up as well (you wouldn't expect him to pass up this opportunity, would you?). Take a day to really look at what shows up in your newsfeed.

Here is the focus for this week:

March 14: Give us this Day our Daily Bread
Focus: Fasting for a day or giving up a comfort food or drink (dessert, alcohol, coffee) and replacing with financial support and prayer for the poor.

Here's to Days Just Packed with a small dose of social media!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Napping Geese

Nature is pretty awesome. A couple of days ago, before the ice all melted off the pond behind my office, I decided that it was warm enough to take a mid-afternoon stroll. When I came to the pond, I saw a whole gaggle of geese napping out on the ice.  If you haven't ever seen a goose taking a nap, it's pretty easy to recognize: It just turns towards its head backward and rests its beak on its back.  The cool part is that there were nearly 100 geese on this little shelf of ice all taking a nap! Well, almost all anyway...

As I walked closer to snap a quick photo on my phone, I noticed that there were a few geese scattered throughout the gaggle who were slowly scanning the perimeter. The instant one of their "perimeter guards" decided that I was spending too long inside their "safe zone," he began crying out a very loud and obnoxious alarm to wake the others. It must be a rule among napping geese that once you wake up to an alarm, you join in. Within seconds, I had unleashed nearly 100 honking geese to wreak havoc upon the peace and quite of the little pond behind my office. They didn't fly away, they didn't walk around, they just sat there and honked... and honked-- until I walked away.

Once I was back on the other side of the invisible safe zone, the geese slowly stopped honking and went back to their naps. So, so cool...

Here's to Days Just Packed with napping geese!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lent III: Keeping Your Scales Balanced

It's hard to believe we're already gearing up to begin week three of our Lenten journey! For the past week I have been trying to focus on giving up a social activity and replacing it with service to an organization or individual. I had some difficulty with this one since I seemed to be so busy all the time! I kept trying to figure out how I was going to find the time to give up a social activity... wait a minute-- What exactly have I been so busy doing?

I started a mental list of everything that kept me busy for the last week and found that after time spent at work and the gym, I spent a lot of time on service to my church without many "social activities." Granted, I was in Louisville, KY, for a youth ministry conference for four days over the weekend, so my data may be skewed a bit, but even after discounting those four days I am starting to think that I may have tipped my "time-scale" too far in one direction. Just as service activities are important, so are social activities and maintaining relationships with one's friends. I think I need to work on balancing my scales.

 Here's week three:

March 7: Thy Will be Done
Focus: Giving up social media (Facebook, email, etc.) and replacing with scripture reading and devotions.

Here's to Days Just Packed with balanced scales!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lent Week II: The Journey Continues

Last week's Lenten journey centered around giving up a form of media (TV, newspaper, radio, etc) and replacing it with prayer (or something at least more constructive than vegging out on the couch). This was a fairly simple challenge for me. I already don't watch much TV, I don't get the newspaper, and I typically just listen to music on the radio. Out of those three things, I decided to go without television. I can do more constructive things with my evenings than watching a favorite show, right?

Time to reflect about what I added to replace no TV...  While I didn't spend every hour I normally spend watching TV in personal devotion or prayer, I did catch up on some pleasure reading, I got a start on getting my budget in order, I spend a few evenings with my friends, and I started a brainstorm list of things for our young adult group at church to do (I have recently taken charge of finally getting our group together). As it turns out, I don't really need to watch much TV! This is something I believe I will incorporate into my normal daily life.

Here's the next part of the journey...

February 29: Thy Kingdom Come
Focus: Giving up a social activity and replacing with service to an organization or individual.

Here's to Days Just Packed with constructive things to do in the evening!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Lenten Journey

Once again, we find ourselves in the season of Lent. Can you believe it?! Time flies when you're... not writing in your blog! The Lenten season is a time for reflection, which means that it is also a great time to share some of these reflections.

Ash Wednesday was two days ago; Lent has officially begun. When I talk about Lent with others, the most common question they ask me is, "What are you giving up?" Making a sacrifice for Lent is a long-standing tradition which seems to have overflowed into the secular world. Even people who consider themselves "spiritual, but not religious" enjoy the challenge and personal growth involved in a 40+ day sacrifice. As a Christian, I see this as a great opportunity for discipleship. With this common ground as a foundation, I like to share a different outlook on the traditional sacrifice--

A personal sacrifice takes something out of your normal routine. Where once there was something, now there is nothing. Inevitably, we will try to fill that void. What are you going to do with the time spent not watching television, not checking your Facebook, or not playing video games? How will you spend the money you save by not drinking alcohol, not eating chocolate, and not dining out at restaurants? Considering the outcome of personal sacrifice helps to breathe new life and, more importantly, purpose into this Lenten tradition with the hope that, through spiritual discipline, you may form a closer relationship with Christ our Lord. What are you adding to replace what you have given up?

Last year, my church challenged us to focus each week on a different spiritual discipline centered around the words of the Lord's Prayer. I like this idea, so I'm doing it again this year. Will you join me on this Lenten Journey?

February 22: Hallowed be Thy Name
Focus:  Giving up a form of media (TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc.) and replacing with prayer.

Here's to Days Just Packed with Lenten reflection!

Day 182:

If at first you don't succeed... try, try again! We will continue this discussion later.