Church Life, Crazy Busy, Learned From My Mother, Pray First, Prayer

The To Do List

My mother used to write them out in longhand, her beautiful penmanship rising above the mundane nature of the lists. She wrote of groceries needed, or projects she hoped to accomplish, or books she planned to read. She wrote in pencil, knowing that the tasks ahead of her might change and the list might need revising.

I type lists in the “Notes” function on my iPhone, because I can email them to myself, or know they will be with me when I arrive at Maine Hardware or Trader Joe’s. The icon taking me to it looks like a tiny, little yellow legal pad, and when the app opens, the screen looks like one, too. Just like my mother, I can edit easily, as changes warrant, but instead of striking through or checking off the things I’ve completed, I simply backspace over them until they disappear.

Some lists I still write by hand, though, and those are full of line-throughs and amendments, sometimes in pencil and other times in eccentric colors of thinline markers. I’m working from one right now, trying to use my four days of Study Leave the best possible way. As always, there is plenty to do and more:

1) Write three sermon review articles for a preaching publication
2) Write a new Christmas Pageant, hopefully involving the well the Sunday School is building
3) Read a short book for the worship class I’m teaching at Bangor Theological Seminary, to be discussed the Monday after I return
4) Write a sermon! I’ll need one to preach when I get back. 🙂

In and among all the projects on my list, there weaves a whisper reminding me to pray:

•Pray before writing.
•Pray before reading.
•Pray to be open.
•Pray to be inspired.
•Pray to get the words right, if not perfect.
•Pray to be faithful to God’s purposes.

I think I might need to put it at the top of the list:

Pray. A lot.

What’s on the top of your to do list?


Crazy Busy


Hey, there. I am still alive. I am having a busy week. Life is full and beautiful and challenging in the best sorts of ways.

I'm leaving in the middle of the night to travel to the Big Apple and see #1 Son in a play


I'm excited, to say the least.

I'm grateful to the people who are making it possible for me to get away for an overnight and to the friend who is meeting me there for a girls' night out!

Regular blogging will resume eventually, I feel sure.

Christmas, Church Life, Crazy Busy

Those January Newsletters

Janus-Vatican For my pastor friends struggling with the January newsletter article while it's still December, here's the beginning of a a sermon I wrote a few years ago, when January 1 was a Sunday:

It’s the first day of a New Year, and it is the time when we
make all those wonderful resolutions, well meant but seldom well kept.  It was the Babylonians of 4000 years ago who
had the notion that a new year ought to be a time for personal renewal and
self-improvement. Their new year was in
the spring.  We have the Romans to thank
for setting the calendar with which we are familiar.  They named the first month after the Roman
god, Janus, who had two faces, one looking backward and one looking
forward.  And that is what we all tend to
do at this time of year.  The news shows
have been full of lists of the Ten Best movies, or the most important people of
the year, or the most significant photographs, and of course the most important
stories of the year, one of which you all lived through four months ago.


What will last year
mean for this year?  We send each other
wishes for the New Year, hopes that all will be healthy and happy, and that the
world will be a more peaceful place.
I imagine those thoughts were with
the Babylonians as well, if in a bit different form.  They weren’t worried about spending too much
time on the Internet, for instance, but some things, such as repaying debts or
returning what we have borrowed or treating people better, go beyond time and place.


So what do we think of when we contemplate New Year’s
Resolutions?  According to the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion,
the top 11 resolutions are:


  1. Get a better job—I’m not sure if
    this means more lucrative or more meaningful—I suppose it could be either
  2. Be a better person—I find this one
    especially interesting.  How do we
    do that?  Perhaps we should continue
    with the list and see if it draws any conclusions for us.
  3. Lose weight—The Today Show claims
    this is in fact the number one resolution among Americans.
  4. Stop smoking—that’s always a good
    choice, but probably one of the hardest to stick to.
  5. Spend less money—in this culture
    of plastic cards (credit, debit, special store cards), it can be very easy
    to forget that actual money is being spent!
  6. Exercise more—That’s on my list
    every year.  Last winter we even
    bought an exercise machine for our house, but I still face the same
    dilemma—finding the time to use it.
  7. Improve health—many of the others
    on this list could have this effect.
  8. Get closer to God—Ah,
    finally.  The inner life is
    addressed.  But just at number
  9. Stop drinking
  10. Be kinder to others
  11. Go back to school

(Hope this helps!)