10 Ways to Care for Someone (When Nothing Will Fix It)

You just can't imagine what they must be going through. You don't know what you could possibly do to help. You have no idea what to say.Thing is... No one does. There is no magic formula of care and concern, words and deeds that will make this terrible thing better for this person you love. The death of a spouse, the cancer diagnosis, the divorce, the job loss, the debilitating accident, the incarcerated daughter... You can't fix it. Very often, not even a professional can fix it--not a d … [Read more...]

The End of Words: A Zechariah Advent

Thanks to the magic of Facebook pop-up memories, I revisit the posts of Christmas Past on a pretty regular basis. The last few weeks' flashbacks have shown me that, every year around this time, I have a viral blog post. Almost like clockwork, I write some clever ode to terrible Christmas music, a survival guide for clergy with young children, or a snarky diatribe about the so-called War on Christmas. According to the calendar, I am due for such a post right about now.But this is not going to … [Read more...]

Do Not Be Afraid: Calling All Angels

 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child con … [Read more...]

Moana, the “Other” Princess: Thoughts on Identity and Belonging

Guest post: by Rev. Allison RuariWhen I was three, I learned the words to “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” After hearing “Red and Yellow, Black and White/They are precious in his sight,” I had to reconcile that I was none of those colors (nor was my Samoan father). Still, I knew Jesus loved me (and my father). So what did I do? I asked questions and made the music director change the words. The new words weren’t perfect, but they served my purpose and the conversation encouraged others to t … [Read more...]

What Were You Expecting?

What were you expecting?If your childhood pre-dates the digital age and the magic of Amazon.com, then you have memories of spending December pouring over that sacred text, the Sear's Wish Book. That's how you KNEW for sure it was Christmas, when that thing showed up in the mailbox.These days, the retail world has other ways of getting our expectations up. They tell us to anticipate everything from diamonds to dazzling technology to a Lexus in the driveway with a giant bow on top. … [Read more...]

Open: The Perfect Christmas Card

I guess it's time to start thinking about Christmas cards. (sigh)This means coming up with a reasonably current picture of my whole family--all together in one place, all looking at the camera at the same time; preferably not in matching outfits, but also not looking like we just rolled out of bed or survived a minor struggle.For some families, this is no big deal. They schedule their professional family photo shoot for the same weekend every fall. They show up at a lovely local setting, … [Read more...]

Assemble: Word 3, Advent 1

One of the best parts of Christmas at my house is getting out the nativity sets.When I was a newlywed--with no children--I decided that I was going to be a collector of international nativities. My husband and I are both kind of minimalists in the home decor department. We don't do knick knacks, we think less is more, and anything that has to be dusted is probably more trouble than it's worth. However, I felt like nativity sets were the perfect thing for me to start gathering. They would … [Read more...]

Anticipate: Advent 1, Word 1

I spend a lot of my time and energy anticipating future needs. Mine, and those of other people.I anticipate the needs of my kids: That one is starting to whine and look kind of puny--better fix a snack before she has a meltdown. His jeans are getting too short, again; better order some, because he will outgrow them in his sleep, AGAIN. They should go to bed now or we will have a difficult morning. Make sure everybody pees now, or somebody will have to go behind a tree when we get to the pa … [Read more...]

When Inclusion Becomes a “Divisive Political Issue”

One of the school districts in the Kansas City area has banned teachers from wearing safety pins.Two weeks ago, responses to that headline might have been... Are they worried kids will use them as weapons? Did someone poke their eye out? What if there's a wardrobe malfunction? Is everything dangerous now??But now we can add safety pins to the list of inanimate objects that have become loaded with social implications. Along with Starbucks holiday cups and Target bathrooms.The safety pi … [Read more...]