February 26 & 27 – See and Heal

This post is part of my finding a photo to illustrate a word each day during Lent. I find myself doubling up again. The words for yesterday and today are “see” and “heal”.

IMG_3014The thing about injuries is that they are often not visible. My photo for today is of my left shin, which is a bit sore. You cannot see this soreness. You cannot even see it by watching me walk. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there… that healing isn’t necessary.

This is an important reminder because we cannot see the struggles that are faced by others. We sometimes see the symptoms, but not always. Tragically we sometimes identify the symptom as a negative character trait rather than a hurt that needs healing. With this reminder I’m hoping I can be more patient with those I encounter. Maybe you can too!

February 25 – Joy

I’m sharing a photo and a thought to go with a word each day of Lent. Today’s word is “joy”.

IMG_0355
A friend took this at the finish line of Surf City.

Scott and I are not exactly jumping with joy here… only because we were tired. He successfully completed his first half marathon and I was able to take 30 minutes off my marathon time. It was a fun day!

February 23 & 24 – Covenant & Shelter

I’m sharing a photo to illustrate a word each day in Lent. Today I have two words because I had major technical difficulty using WordPress and photos on my iPad. Today’s words are covenant and shelter.

IMG_1970
Downtown Oxnard, Veteran’s Day 2014

Our city, like most others, has an event to honor our veterans each year on Veteran’s Day. Now that I live downtown I like to walk over to the park to watch and participate in honoring our nation’s heroes. This photo of the flag was taken in 2014. In the context of our veterans it’s a symbol of the covenant that our county has (or should have) with those who’ve served. Obviously the flag is a symbol of the freedom that we enjoy. But also shouldn’t it be a symbol of our solemn obligation to take care of those who served?

I don’t have a photo for shelter. Instead I have an example of our broken covenant with one of our veterans. I was in Chicago that last few days and spent lots of free time walking about the downtown area. There are many homeless in Chicago (as in all cities). Last night I had pizza and boxed up my leftovers so that I could give dinner to one of the homeless people that I would encounter along the way.

While walking to my hotel I came across a man in a wheelchair. He had a sign asking for help. I went up to him and first noticed that his fingers were so swollen that I don’t know how he was able to use his hands. I gave him the pizza. He looked up…ohh he has a young face… and he said thanks. He is a veteran. He has no shelter. Our covenant is broken. I cried on my way back to the hotel.

February 22 – Vision 

I’m sharing photos and thoughts about a word each day during Lent. Today’s word is “vision”. Maybe it is appropriate for the word vision that all my photos are upside down. A problem with the iPad I guess..

  Usually when we start a project we have a vision of what we want to accomplish. As I think of this word I’m reminded of a time when I had an idea of what I wanted to do but in reality I had no idea what is was getting myself into.

This all started about three years ago with the purchase of our 1915 Craftsman Bungalow. The first photo is what it looked liked when we moved in. The woodwork was pretty, the wallpaper was ugly and the carpet was horrid, but I loved the house. After living there a few months I had the idea that the wood needed to be refinished. At this point I had an incomplete vision of the task at hand. In fact if I had really known what I was getting myself into I’m not sure if I would have actually started.

In all the project took 21 months…it was a true exercise in endurance. Some days the work was easy and others it was frustratingly hard. This coaster reminds me of this project. 

 The truly good news is that the finished project was nicer than what I could have envisioned. Maybe that’s another lesson of life…to start something big we don’t need to have a complete vision of the final…if we had a vision of the obstacles we’d encounter we might not start…and it is so fun to celebrate the results.

   
 

February 20 – Live

I am sharing photos and thoughts on various words for each day during Lent. Today’s word is “live”.

 

Christmas caroling by candlelight and flashlights
 As I looked through my old photos I came across some photos from an event that happened just before Christmas. We had decided to have an evening of Christmas caroling (and cookies) on December 23rd. The event was at our house, which happens to be in the Christmas Tree Lane area of Oxnard. It was to be a fun evening and all was ready for people to arrive at 6:00pm. Unfortunately the power for our entire block went out at 5:30. How would we show off our decorations,inside and out, with no electricity? How would we sing? How would we eat cookies?

This episode was a reminder that life never goes exactly according to our plans. When the inevitable mishap occurs we have the choice to live with it, while making needed adjustments, or we can retreat in frustration and anger. On this night we chose to live with the temporary inconvenience. I lit candles and rounded up flashlights. We all had fun…and the power came back on when we were about halfway through our song book.

What frustrations have you chosen to live through?

February 19 – Love

10927849_10207574747350540_5093138697647466547_o
My daughter, Megan and Ethan were married last August. It was a nice backyard wedding… not on a marathon course. But they are running!

This is part of a series of posts featuring photos to go with specific words each day during Lent. Today’s word is “love”.

On Monday the LA Times had a story about some people getting married and others renewing their vows at mile 10 of the LA Marathon. My first reaction was, “I want to officiate at a wedding like that!” After thinking about it for a few days I would still like to do this, and at the same time I would want to emphasize that marriage is not to be entered into lightly.

When couples marry they vow to love one another through good times and bad. I like to emphasize to them and to anyone else listening that love in this sense is not a feeling, but rather something that we do. We strive to see the best in one another, to support one another, to listen to one another, to be patient with one another… and on and on. Some days this is easy to do. Other days, not so much. Just like some days life is easy and other days, not so much. Come to think of it, the running of a marathon is an excellent metaphor for a marriage. My hope and prayer is that all those who were married last Sunday can stay in it for the long haul… to not give up when the going is tough… and then together, in their older years, to know the exhilaration of a life well lived together.

I did have the awesome opportunity to officiate at my daughter’s wedding last summer. My wish for her and Ethan is the same…that they grow and struggle and laugh and live and prosper together.

February 18 – Refuge

 

IMG_2684
We participated for the first time at Ventura County Pride. This is our booth just before they opened the gates. I hope that our church was seen as a refuge by those who stopped by.

About 18 months ago our congregation voted to become a Reconciling in Christ Congregation. This means that we are intentionally welcoming to our LGBT sisters and brothers in Christ. For me it is very important that when someone hears the words, “Jesus loves you,” they don’t automatically think, “not really me.” Sadly this has been the reality for many people as they have heard throughout their lives that because of their sexuality, they are not loved by God. But this is not true. We are all recipients of God’s gracious love. Nobody should ever hear words that lead him or her to think that God’s love excludes them.

Today’s word is refuge. I hope and pray that our church is seen as a refuge and a place of welcome for all.