Tuesday, October 29, 2013

All Saints' Day

Tuesday greetings!  Hope you are all doing wonderful on this amazing fall afternoon. 

As we near the end of October a very important day is on the horizon.  Many simply refer to this as Halloween; however, there is a very important tradition that surrounds this secular tradition.  The day immediately following Halloween is known as All Saints’ Day, day where we honor and celebrate all the saints, known and unknown.

The Episcopal Church does not canonize people because in our tradition we believe that all baptized Christians are saints of God and have the potential to be examples of faith to others.

Who have been the examples in your life and how do you honor them?

One thing I was blessed with growing up was having great role models.  Naturally, there was my mother.  A strong independent woman, who as a single mother worked her tail off while raising three children,  I know for a fact that dealing with some of my sisters’ and my antics were not always easy.  But I say we turned alright. 

But outside of that I also had great role models who modeled what it meant to be a good Christian, a good person, and how to deal with certain situations. 

My sisters who convinced me that all the cool kids were going to youth group and kept me engaged in the church by always being a living advertisement for the church and what youth group meant.  Paul Canady, my first Youth Minister who got me to stay involved and showed me what the church could be.  Trone Sawyer, who showed me another side to the church and how living out your beliefs said a lot more about you than the words you say.  John Burruss, who taught me to ask questions and pursue answers instead of just believing everything I heard.  Trip Gintz, who always has another angle to look at something that opens your eyes to things you may have never thought of before.  My grandfather, who was the greatest man I knew and can have you laughing so hard you could barely breathe.  Rick Brubaker, who treated my like a son and help me to see that family doesn’t always mean you connected by blood.  My Uncle Steve, who teaches me all the time that just because you are growing up doesn’t mean you have to take life too seriously. 

These are all people, who for me, are examples of faith to me and therefore are my saints.  They may never have an official feast day for them but that doesn’t mean you can’t honor them.

That is what All Saints’ is meant for.  A chance to honor all of those Saints…known and unknown. 

Take some time today and think who your saints are.  Who are your examples of faith?

What have they taught you?

Now, that normally would be a perfect place to stop, but I am going to go even further.

This week, as we celebrate All Saints’ Day and remember and recognize all of the examples of faith that you have had in your life, ask yourself, who are you an example for?

Some of you may laugh that off and think. “There is no one someone is looking up to me!”

Yes, they are.  You may not know it.  But you are a role model to someone.  Whether it is at school, at work, at soccer or football practice…you are an example to someone else.

How are you being an example of faith to others?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday greetings!

Today I have a challenge for you.  It may sound a bit different then some of the other challenges you may have heard but it is just as important.

In my opinion, this may be one of the most important things you do for yourself.

We are also commanded to do this by Jesus himself!

What, oh what is this great challenge!?


Now I know that this may sound a bit different than what you normally hear.

We typically associate being Christian with being nice and kind to others.  Yes, but there is so much more to being a Christian than that.

We will save that topic for a later date but still, we have these to contradicting ideas. 

Doing things for others and now this crazy thing that I am telling you to do, to be selfish.

Now, when I say to be selfish I am not saying that you should make everything about you at all times, everyday, and basically become a hedonist. 

But Matthew, why then are you telling us that we should be selfish.  I don’t remember that commandment, “Thou shalt be selfish.”  Yea, that doesn’t ring a bell…

Well, what if I were to ask you what the greatest commandment was?

Hopefully, you are thinking of that verse from Matthew 22:37-38.

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all you soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Ok, yea, I am still not seeing the selfish part of that.

Well, that is where Matthew 22:39 comes in to play.

“And the second is like it: “’Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Do you get it now?

Yes, we have all heard this and try to live it out by helping others and being a good neighbor and making sacrifices to be there for those that we care about.  But that does not mean to forget about yourself.

How can you love someone as yourself if you are not taking care of yourself?

Sometimes in our lives we may forget that part of the scripture.  We focus a lot on the neighbor’s part and we forget the ourselves part. 

Personally, I know that I struggle with this.  I have a hard time saying no to people, it is a minor miracle for me to ask for help, and normally keep things to myself.  On top of all of this…believe it or not, I am an introvert. 

Sometimes, I know that I need sometime to recharge but find it difficult to actually make that happen.

This may sound a little crazy but sometimes we need to allow ourselves time so we can take care of ourselves.  So that we are able to continue to care for others, we must take care of yourself.

So today, that is my challenge to you.

Today, be selfish and do something you.  If we are could to love others as ourselves…take a look at how you are caring for yourself and think about if you should spend some more time on you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crazy Little Thing Called Life

Tuesday greetings!  I hope today has been surprisingly, unexpectedly, amazing!

Well, that wasn’t a normal greeting…

Let’s be honest….how often do things really work out exactly how you plan?

Do you ever seem to work so hard to make a plan and then it just never quite pans out the way you draw it up?

You may really want something to work out or to happen but no matter how hard you try, things don’t always line up or the timing is wrong.  Something is just always in the way.

It is in these times that our faith can be tested.  We try and try and try, we pray, beg, and plead yet what we ask for just doesn’t happen.

Why!?  Why can’t it always just work out!?

Sometimes it’s enough to drive you crazy.  It’s like when your birthday is coming up and you make a wish list.  You think, “Oh, this will be great!  I am going to get all this stuff that I ask for!”

Your birthday comes and you don’t get anything on your list!  WHAT!?

It’s not the worst thing in the world but you still think, well that was a little bit of a let down.

This one time while I was in school, I hit a bit of a rough patch.  I had a lot of bills to pay, a lot of homework to do, I was scheduled to work a lot that coming week and did not know how I would make it all work out.

I prayed.  Naturally it was for someone to pick up my shifts at work, for me to be able to absorb the information from my books and notes by sleeping on them through some modified version of osmosis, and to find a tree that money grew on.  All my problems would be solved.

Actually, I just knew that I had a lot of school work to do and was praying for an easy shift at work.  I needed the money so I had to work but I also really needed to study.

That weekend as I went to work, hoping for that easy shift so I can get home early…we get slammed.

From the moment I walked in the door till the time we closed, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Great!  Of course on a day that is normally slow, on day where I really could have used a break, we are incredibly busy…fantastic.

On the other side, because of that busy day at work, I was able to pay my bills and put some into savings.  I also was able to finish my homework; I just didn’t sleep as much as I would have liked. 

Sometimes, I think that is the way God works.  In mysterious, frustrating, unexpected, and wonderful ways.

Now, as an Episcopalian, I am comfortable in saying that I don’t believe that these paths are all determined for me and that my life is all mapped up and set for me.  I do believe that I have a purpose.  However, it is up to me to find it and to get there.   However, I am not alone in this journey. 

Often times in life, we think we know exactly what we want.  We have a plan.  We try to create as much organization in this crazy little thing called life.

More often than not, it doesn’t work out exactly that way.

When we pray, why do things not work out that way we ask?

Sometimes it may feel that our prayers are being completely ignored because things aren’t working out the way we plan.

But I think that is part of the plan. Just because our prayers are not answered in a way that we want, doesn’t mean they are not being answered. 

While I may have wanted a day off from work that one day, I actually really needed to work.  It was something that really helped me out at a time that I was struggling.  It wasn’t the easiest answer to a prayer, I had to work hard to make it happen, but in the end, it was what I needed at that time.

Just because things don’t work out the way we want doesn’t mean that God is ignoring us.  Maybe God is answering; we just don’t always see it.

They may not be the easiest paths and we may have to work hard to make things happen, but whoever said that prayer was easy?

If you go back to the origin of the word to pray it actually means to wrestle.

In the Bible, Jacob is in prayer and is assaulted.  Jacob wrestles his assailant until daybreak.  This was Jacob literally wresting with the visible manifestation of the invisible God. 

I think this is more accurate way of describing prayer.  We ask, we beg we plead, we cry out…Over and over and over again.

Prayer is not a one and down kind of thing.  It is something we should do a lot! 

But also remember, the thing you ask for may not be exactly what you ask for, but that doesn’t mean you are being ignored.

Be on the look out for the wonderful, amazing, annoying, frustrating, unexpected ways that God answers your prayers.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Tuesday greetings!

So, I am going to say something to you that will probably blow your mind…

I am almost completely confident in saying this too.

What if I told you that something you do just about everyday…

Something you learned when you were very young…

Something that after you learned it, you never really thought much about it again…

You have done it so many times it is second nature…

Yet, I must let you know something…

Your whole life, chances are, you have been tying your shoes wrong.

Yup….you read that correctly.  Your shoes.  You have been tying them wrong pretty much your whole life.

Crazy, right?

Whatever do you mean that I have been tying my shoes wrong my whole life?! 

It’s true, though.   Please allow me to explain.

So if I had to take a guess at how you currently tie your shoe, it would probably go something like this…

Tighten the laces…cross the left and right strings and pull tight.

Make a loop with one of the ends.

Wrap the other end around the top of the loop and pull through the hole between the two loops. 

Pull tight.



When it comes to “shoe knots”, the knot most of us are taught is actually the weak form of the knot.   How can you check to see if you are using this “weak” form of the knot?  Hold the shoe underneath the laces and pull outward.  Sometimes this note will slip and loosen, sometimes coming untied, but it was also align the knot so that it runs down the long part of the shoe, towards your toes. 

Well my friends, there is a better way!

We are taught to tie our shoes this way at a young age because it is easier for a child to learn.  As we grow up, we never second guess the things we learned as a child and just take it as truth…which leads to years and years of you tying your shoes the wrong way.

The correct way is instead of looping the second end around the top of the first loop you make, wrap it around the bottom.  Everything else is the same.  When you pull the shoe wide you will see that the laces do not slip or loosen.  The knot will also align itself transverse to the axis, thus meaning it is the strong form of the knot!

It will come untied less often and won’t let you down as much.

What are some other things that we learn about as children?



How to share.

Bible stories.

About Jesus.

What was the Jesus that you learned about as a child?

Is He the same Jesus that you picture today?

What about God?

What did God look like to you when you were a child?

What do you think now?

What were the morals and lessons you learned from the common Bible Stories we all learn as children?

How often do you go back to a lesson you learned as a child and see what it means for you at this moment?

Have you fully formed your own thoughts and beliefs or do you believe the same thing as your parents because that was what you were taught?

One thing I love about the Episcopal Church is that we are able to do this.  The sermons we hear on Sundays, more often than not, are challenges.  A lesson is presented and we are asked to look inside ourselves to truly determine what that message means to us.  They are not a declaration telling you what it means and how it should affect your life.

Our faith is and should not be something that is stagnant.  As we grow and mature and go through life, our views on things change. 

Our faith should be a journey. 

An ever growing, ever changing relationship with Christ that should grow and mature as we grow and mature.

Today I ask each of you to reflect on the views and beliefs that you have and ask yourself, “Why do I believe this?” or “Where did this come from?”

Is it something you were taught when you were younger that you just continue to believe? 

Sometimes, we need to go out and figure things out for ourselves.  Different things in the Bible can mean different things to us all depending on where we are in life.

Questioning and searching and learning are all encouraged and good things when it comes to your relationship with Christ.

Maybe you will find that something you used to believe doesn’t quite mean the same to you today.

Or maybe you will find out that there is a different way to do something that you do everyday.  Like tying your shoes.  

Leave it at the Altar

whoops...forgot to post this last week!

As many of you may know (at least the ones that know me), I worked in the food industry for sometime holding various jobs in various restaurants.  Including Huey’s, Macaroni Grill, McAlister’s Deli, Blue Coast Burrito, Kobe Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar, and a brief stint Savelli’s Italian Restaurant.  While at these jobs I held positions like “Saluta”, Server Assistant, Take Out Specialist, Expo, Server, Devo, Bartender, BOH, Dishwasher, busser, chef, you name it, I have worked it.

One thing that can happen when working in a restaurant is you become very proud of how “good” of a server you are.  You want to get the best tips, be able to take care of the most tables at once, never mess up an order, have the most add on sales, have regulars that know you are good, how well you can carry a food tray, how many drinks you can carry, how quickly you can get an order out… literally, you want to be the best at everything.  Sometimes you can work hard enough to be rated as the #1 server and hold that position for 4 months….just saying…it could happen.

Anyway, I remember one shift when I was taking care of a friendly elderly group that had come in for dinner.  I must admit, beverage trays were not my strong suite.  I could carry 6 full water cups with my hands but put 4 glasses on a tray and ask me to carry it and it was a struggle.

So, as I approached the table to drop off the water glasses, I remove one glass, throws the weight of the tray off, it wobbles, and eventually flips.  Not one…but THREE full glasses of ice water land directly in this gentleman’s lap.  He was completely soaked. 

I felt horrible! 

Naturally, I began apologizing profusely.  I ran and get some towels so he could dry off.  Told my manager, get ready to comp some food because I just messed up.

The man took it all surprisingly well.  He was not angry, bitter, or anything.  He was cheerful…

“Now anybody can drop a glass of water…but you…no, you were also able to somewhere get the lemon to land in my pocket!  That takes skill.”

I couldn’t help but laugh but I still felt bad.  After they paid and still left a very generous tip, I caught them as they were walking out the door to apologize again. 

Still again, he forgave me, said don’t worry about it and that he had a blast.

I still didn’t get it or fully accept his forgiveness.  I still felt bad about dropping the water on him.

By now you are probably thinking, what in the world does this have to do with anything!?

This past month, we were lucky enough to have the one and only Bishop Don Johnson join us as our Spiritual Director for Happening #54!  Over the weekend, the Bishop shared a story about a conversation he had when he was younger.

He said that he would go to church and was able to bring all of things that were going on in his life and lay them down at the altar and give it up to God.

Then as church ended he would stop, pause, turn around and go back, pick it all back up and take it with him.

He was unable to leave it with God.

Thinking about this how often are we unable to accept the forgiveness of others?

How often are we unable to forgive ourselves?

How often do we go to the altar and feel unworthy of the unconditional love that God shows us?

How often do we chase after someone to again apologize for something after they have already forgiven us?

One thing that has become a staple of our youth retreats is an affirmation circle.  What is an affirmation circle?  An affirmation circle is simply when you stand in a circle and say stuff to each that affirms them.  Get it!?

I have been apart of one where you look directly in someone’s eyes and tell them that you see God in them.  Which is a very powerful thing to hear.

Another one is a great response to this feeling we may have when we are unable to accept forgiveness.  When we are feeling down and are lost or confused and feel that you can not just leave all that stuff at the altar…

You are worthy and deserving of love.

And God loves you.  No matter what.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for 
your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30