10 Ways to Celebrate The National Parks Centennial

There are few things I love more than National Parks.So there are many places I would love to be this week to celebrate the Centennial of our National Parks Service. Like the edge of the Grand Canyon. The narrows of Zion National Park. Standing knee deep in the cool perfection of Jenny Lake. Heading up Going to the Sun Road in a "Jammer." Surrounded in the pure darkness of Mammoth Cave. On a pristine beach in the Channel Islands. Or crashing an elk party in the Rocky Mountains.But alas, h … [Read more...]

$10 In My Pocket

Guest Post: by Tiffany FlamingI have $10 in my pocket. It might as well be $1,000,000. I have that much of a clue as to what to do with it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it is heavy with meaning and generosityI’ve had a rough, well, let’s say year and a few months. I’ve been quiet over here because I am more of an internal processor when life goes south and in many ways it has. But in many ways, it’s pretty great. I am on the verge of a new chapter and over the last few mont … [Read more...]

Lost and Found: A Parable In Socks

You know what was great about living in the desert all those years? Among other things--not having to wear socks. Ever.Maybe occasionally with running shoes or hiking boots, if you were going out on a trail. Because, you know, rattle snakes. But otherwise, it was 10 months a year of sandals. Glorious, breezy, open-toed, sock-less freedom.Sure, I love a warm fuzzy pair to wear around the house on a cold winter day. But even better was the complete absence of cold winter days. For the most … [Read more...]

An Ecological Conversion: Called by God (and a Scientist) in the Cloud Forest

Guest Post: by Scott Hardin-NieriOur family delighted in God’s creation as we served in Monteverde, Costa Rica as Global Ministries Volunteers. We met neighbors like Howler Monkeys, Three Wattle Bell Birds, Sloths and Toucans. We learned their names and recognized their voices and watched and listened to them with awe. There were human neighbors who also inspired us; like the cab drivers, hotel owners, tropical biologists, bakers, house keepers, coffee farmers, and teachers-- from faith b … [Read more...]

Sinking Ships: 6 Do’s, and One Big Don’t, for Fundraising

Ever been on a sinking ship? I have. Literally.But not for long. Because the minute I figured out it was going down, I bailed. That’s what you DO when the boat’s in trouble… you get yourself elsewhere. Quickly.Which is why “sinking ship fundraising” doesn't work.If you’ve ever been connected with an institution for any amount of time—a church, school, non-profit, or civic body—you’ve gotten "the pitch." Maybe it was an email, a paper letter, a phone call, or an appeal at a large g … [Read more...]

Scattered and Sown

So this farmer went out with a bunch of seeds. And he scattered them far and wide. Some fell on the road, so the road runners ate them. Some fell on the red rock; those seeds sprouted quickly, but their roots didn't go very deep. The saplings whithered and died in the blazing sun, and the remains were trampled by coyotes. Some fell in the dry and thorny weeds; those seeds never had a chance. And some of those seeds fell on rich, fertile, life-filled soil, and grew forth abundant … [Read more...]

Preparing a Place

Sometimes the best, most life-giving things in the life of a church evolve without a great deal of planning. They emerge out of daily life without meetings, without a line-item in the budget, without a major marketing campaign or overhaul of policy.A few weeks ago, I overheard my yoga instructor say that she was looking for a Tuesday morning gig. I said, "I know of a place..." And before i knew it, there were 7 of us gathered in the narthex on mats, engaged in community, mindfulness, and of … [Read more...]

Ask: Why Fear of Death is Killing the Church

A telemarketer called the church. She was selling neighborhood mailing lists. I told her no thank you."I'm just trying to help you grow your church! Don't you want your church to grow??" she shouted angrily. Whoa. Where was this coming from?I said (with the manners of a saint, given her tone), "we have a budget for resources like this, but it's been designated for other things.""Yes," she said, "but the church doesn't really run on a budget, does it? I mean, it's all donations, ri … [Read more...]

For Such a Time as This

I was sitting on the floor of my crummy first-year-of-being-a-grownup apartment, doing grad school homework that i should have done the night before, and getting ready to go to class. Which means I probably shouldn't have been watching tv, but was. When the plane hit the first tower, i went and woke up my roommate, who was still sleeping. "What? That's crazy!" she said. I ran quickly back to the tv to find out what a breathless world was waiting to find out--what sort of mechanical error, … [Read more...]