Friday, February 26, 2010

Three Generations - Girls "Night Out" (actually IN)

My sister-in-law, Susie, is in town from Delaware for ten days. She is a wife and mother of three boys. She is surrounded by testosterone!! My mother-in-law, also named Susie, decided that while younger Susie was in town, we should have a girl's night out. Now you have to understand that my mother-in-law is one of the sweetest women in the whole world but when I think of "Girl's Night Out" . . .I would say that our ideas probably differ!! But knowing that, we went ahead with her plan for a "Girl's Night." There are three generations of us. Grandmother (as I call my mother-in-law), then there are four in my generation - my sister-in-law, Susie (Mark's only sister) and then the other in-laws - Alice and Rebecca (married to Mark's brothers) and me. Last but certainly not least, are the two granddaughters, Laura and Grace - 11 years difference in age. We arrived to this cute table filled with "movie" snacks.
We had placed our take-out order with Zoe's - a wonderful local restaurant. We had grilled chicken salads and some had grilled chicken plates - yummy food. We ate straight out of the containers with plastic forks . . . in our laps. For those of you who know my wonderful mother-in-law, you are probably gasping! She is a true southern lady who doesn't allow the carton of milk or ketchup bottle on the table!! But this was "Girl's Night Out." We started our first movie, "What a Girl Wants." We needed to watch a movie that all ages could watch . . .and it helps that my mother-in-law ADORES Colin Firth. We ate and watched the first movie and were even "shushed" a few times!! At one point, two generations were spread out on the den floor :-)

This is the sweet woman who planned it all. Look at that face - she is laughing at something in the movie . . .hands must be busy . . .knitting a scarf - she has knitted us all at least one scarf this season (because they are so in style!!)
I must admit that I was not really looking forward to the evening - simply because I was so very tired (long day at work). But in hind sight (which is always 20/20) I realize what a perfect evening. What a nice "Girl's Night" out/in. I'm thankful for my "in-laws" . . .since my mom has been dead for so many years, I know - I KNOW - without a shadow of doubt that we need to be enjoying these days together. Thank God for my sweet mother-in-law!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The family

Last night at our Wednesday night supper, my friend, Chris came and sat down beside me. He said that he wanted to tell me about our table. Remember my desire? My hope for our table was that some family would get it and children would sit around it and the family would laugh and do homework, etc. A family with four children picked up our table this week. Their home had burned and Chris helped furnish their new place . . .and hopefully, love will be served each and every day on our (I mean "their") kitchen table. God bless that family!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Say what?

During Lent, we traditionally "give up" something and sometimes "take on" something. The season of Lent is so powerful to me. This year, I have given up talking about others. I was aware that I did it "sometimes" but have been made painfully aware of how often I do. Today, during staff chapel, I thought of this verse from Philippians, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8) . . . those things could also be said about what we "say" - "say" only those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy!! I guess my point (as I ramble!!) is that it is not only talking about others. As Christians, we should only say things that build up the body. Can you imagine a day where all things spoken were lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Some might say that is a "pie in the sky" kind of idea . . .one that might never work. Who knows? I think I'll give it a try.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

24 hours that changed the world

Trinity UMC is using a book by Adam Hamilton for the season of Lent. Today was the first Sunday of Lent and we had communion. I think one of my favorite "perks" of working on a church staff is the honor of serving communion. I can't put into words how I feel when we are serving. It is an honor and a privilege but more than that. I sometimes feel as I gaze into someones eyes and say the words, "the blood of Christ shed for you" or "this is because Jesus loves you so much" to some of the children, that it is truly a God moment. A moment where "Christ in me" meets "Christ in them." A few weeks ago, I served a little boy who has special needs. When I said to him, "This is because Jesus loves you" he looked up at me with the most beautiful eyes and said, "Jesus loves you, too." Sorry . . .back to today. Before communion, our senior minister (Andy) preached a great sermon and I know that Dave (our associate who preaches in the contemporary service) did also. We actually had a triclinium table set up in the altar area so that we could imagine how it really was that night. After early church, we went to Sunday School. We watched the first session of the video in our Sunday school class and then discussed some of the questions. I don't think I had ever really thought about Judas sitting on the left hand of Jesus at the last supper in an HONORED spot. I knew it on some level but I think today that point really sunk into my pea brain. We talked about whom we would want to be sitting around the table at our last meal. Jesus had a man sitting by him in a position of honor who was going to betray him. Jesus still loved Judas. To be honest, when I thought of the folks that I would want sitting with me at my last supper, I thought of people who love me, people who encourage me, people whom I love . . .not any enemy. We also talked about how the Seder meal and Holy Communion are similar - a time of remembering who and whose we are. I think that the thing that was most meaningful to me was when we imagined (with our eyes closed) that it was Jesus handing us the piece of bread. What did his face look like? To me, his face must have radiated amazing love. Even more amazing, his face radiates amazing love each time he looks at me. He loves me - a sinner - one who screws up all the time. He loves ME. I am overwhelmed by that love and grace. I think today was a wonderful first Sunday of Lent - maybe the best yet!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It feels good . . .

So, I told y'all about our new kitchen table and even showed you a picture. Well here is the old furniture sitting forlornly (is that even a word?) in our basement.

We could have run an ad in the paper and tried to sell it or we could have given it to the Salvation Army but instead . . .we have a friend, Chris, who has a business called Community Furniture Bank. He will come to your house and load up your furniture and household accessories, dishes, bedspreads, etc. He then takes them to his warehouse. People who need furniture can come to him (I think they go through a referral process) and he will help them furnish their home for free. I know that he told me yesterday that he took in 9 whole truck loads of furniture during January and outfitted 9 houses!! Sometime he gets referrals from the Red Cross - if someone's home has burned or from homeless agencies when a family is finally able to move into their own place.

As I looked at the furniture stacked in the back of his truck, I said, "I hope that some other family finds as much joy around this table - enjoys as many meals - laughs a lot - like our family has over the last 15 years." I truly mean that - the kitchen is so often the heart of the home. Our children did homework on that table and we ate many meals as a family around that table. Our supper club and other friends have sat around the table and laughed and talked.

You can't see in the trailer behind the pick-up, but if you could, you would see headboards and footboards for two beds and mattresses and box springs, some big tall silk trees and some bedspreads. May God bless Chris and his ministry and may God bless the family that gets our stuff!! If you live within a sixty mile radius of Birmingham, Chris will come and pick up your gently loved furniture also.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Pleasure is all mine (ours!)

Monday night, we opened our home to those in our church (and their friends) who are in their 20's and unmarried. We have found that there is a real need for a ministry for this age group in our church. We had 24 who came and we fed them and then talked to them about what they are interested in.

I borrowed the mardi gras wreath from my friend, Dona. Imagine my surprise when one of the girls told me that she was missing her hometown and mardi gras and here she was greeted by a mardi gras wreath. Doesn't God work in mysterious ways - using a wreath to show love to someone!!
This was the decoration on the dining room table. Our Sunday School class gave me this really cool metal candle holder centerpiece for Christmas. You can put candles in it or little pumpkins on each ring - all sorts of seasonal decorations. On this night, it became a holder of mardi gras beads.
Now as much as I like to take pictures, you would think that I would have pictures from the evening . . .well, I had the camera out and ready but between greeting guests and taking coats and admiring the snow and cooking the dinner, I forgot to take pictures!!

When one of our guests thanked me, I said, "the pleasure is all mine." Isn't it fun to use our gifts to serve God?

Please pray for us as we move forward with this ministry. I think God is at work.

It all started with a new light fixture

Right after Christmas, our kitchen light fixture died . . .yes, it did die. It was a three light fixture on a chain that was way too short and to be honest, we had hated it for a long time. Well, it finally died and I purchased a new one from Home Depot. Little did I know that my husband knows how to connect a new light fixture. What a handy man to have around!! This is what it looks like - hanging down low - before we swagged the chain over so that after 17 years, our light fixture now hangs over the middle of the table.

But as so often happens, when we got the new light up, we realized that we needed a new kitchen table and chairs. I had seen this one several weeks ago when I was shopping for a scrapbooking/sewing table (which I haven't had time to use yet!!). I had received a small bonus at work and decided to spend it (with a little more) on a new kitchen table. Don't you love it? Isn't it funny how you replace one thing and then "have" to replace something else?

The table actually opens into a much bigger table- the leaf is stored underneath and opens and closes fairly easily. We originally thought we would leave it small but I'm sitting here using it as a workspace . . .and I think I like it large!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow! Snow! Snow! in Alabama?

We rarely have snow in Alabama . . .but we have had more snow this winter than I ever remember. When our kids were young, the minute there was enough snow outside for a snowball or snowman, they were bundled up and out the door. Usually within a few minutes someone would have to go to the bathroom and you had to peel off all those wet clothes and start over again.

Laura is living at home now and she was observing in a classroom that morning and the schools dismissed early. It was nice having her home during the snow. You can see that she embraced the snow with joy.

She even built us a tiny snowman on the deck.

What is it about a birdfeeder and snow? To me, it is beautiful!!

A winter wonderland right outside our door.

Don't you just love these boots? We bought them for Laura when she was at Auburn to be used for those long walks to classes in the rain. The boots came in handy for this snowy day also.

Mardi Gras Party

Our friends, Gary and Dona, are so kind to host a Mardi Gras party each year. They have had the pleasure of living in the New Orleans area so they know about the "real" stuff! We enjoyed Fiery Shrimp and red beans and rice and gumbo and cheese grits and salad and king cake and all sorts of appetizers and delicious purple punch with a kick!! This is at the beginning of the party before all 45 people arrived - Guy, Mark, Howard and Carolyn.
This is such a cute picture of Dona (known by her husband as Sweet D) and Terrie (oops - she has on her mask)

I love this picture - Phella, me in the middle, and Dona - look at Dona's beads - yes, they are garlic cloves. I've heard about those vampires (which I hate) in New Orleans. She was keeping them away. (Just kidding)

I think this is a funny hat and Guy is a brave man. Enough said!

Here we are before leaving for the party.

Such a fun party!! Such a fun way to spend a Saturday night. We are blessed with good friends!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Passing the cars in a funeral procession

Disclaimer . . .much of this Sunday School lesson was taken directly from a book by James Moore. I would love to meet him some day and tell him how much I have enjoyed his books and how much he has helped me in Sunday School lesson prep.

In my old age, I can’t remember if I’ve told y’all this story in a lesson before . . .but if I have, it is a good one and worth re-telling. Mark and George were students at Auburn and they had been to Lake Loachapoka fishing one weekend. They were in a hurry to get back to Auburn and they got behind a slow line of traffic. They were driving a big old green impala station wagon with a 17 foot green canoe on top and they started to methodically pass each car - one at a time. As they approached the front of that long line of traffic, they realized that they had made a huge mistake. When they saw the hearse, they realized that they had indeed made a huge mistake. They had been passing the cars in a funeral procession. The title of this book made me think of that story. The lesson is “Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a trailer? You can’t take it with you so live confidently now.” When I was telling Laura about the lesson, she said, “there is a country song like that.” So we googled it and the song is “You’ll be there” by George Strait and he says,

“You don’t bring nothing with you here
And you can’t take nothing back
I ain’t never seen a hearse, with a luggage rack.”

We have two Sundays before the beginning of Lent and I thought we would do a couple of lessons from a new book by James Moore that I purchased at Cokesbury.
When Paul, James Moore’s grandson, was three years old, his pre-school teacher sent a basket home with each child. They were told to fill the basket with their favorite things from home for “show and tell.” Paul put his stuffed bear; his toy train engine; one of his fish pillows; a plastic dinosaur; a football and most important of all, a piece of his blankie in the basket. He was asked to tell the class about his things in the basket. Later, Paul was telling his granddaddy about this activity and his granddad asked, “What is your favorite thing at school?” Paul – who remember was three at the time – said, “At recess, I kissed a girl.” His granddad said, “You kissed a girl at recess?” Paul answered, “Yep.” His granddad asked, “Well, did she like that?” Paul replied with all the seriousness and confidence a three year old can muster, “Oh yeah.”
“Oh yeah” – that is the picture of confidence. So today, February 7, 2010, where do you put your confidence? In whom or in what do you put your confidence? What is it that makes you feel good and confident about life? What makes you feel safe and secure? What gives you hope for tomorrow? What enables you to sleep well at night? The world tells us to put our confidence in money, in possessions, in belongings, in success, in securities – we even call them “securities.” The world tells us to put our confidence in material things or in things we can see and hold or even in people. Which brings us to the title . . .”have you ever seen a hearse pulling a trailer?” We can’t take it with us when we go. We can’t take the earthly stuff with us when we die. There are indeed some things that money can’t buy.
The son of a very wealthy man smashed his sports car into a tree. The pastor went to the emergency room to be with the family. The boy’s father was a nice guy but his major motive in life had been making money. He was running up and down the halls of the hospital waving hundred dollar bills in his hand, trying to give them to the doctors and nurses. He was frantic and he was saying these words, “Here, take this. You’ve got to get in there and save my boy’s life. Here’s a hundred-dollar bill. Save my boy. Take this, I’m counting on you.” The doctors and nurses would not take the money. They would only say, “We are doing everything we can.” The young man didn’t make it. The father ran to the preacher and sobbed like a child and then he took all those hundred dollar bills and threw them on the floor and said, “All these years I have put my trust and confidence in all the wrong things. I have money to burn and now, in this moment, it is not worth anything. Where do I find the resources to live through this?

Our scriptures for today’s lesson are from 2 Timothy. These words from the apostle Paul encourage us to be strong in the Lord, to stand firm in the faith, and to put our confidence in God. These words were written to Timothy and to the early church. They were facing many difficulties, formidable threats and cruel persecutions. It would have been so easy for those early Christians to get discouraged, perplexed, scared and disillusioned. The task before them was so huge. Their enemies were so real. Listen to these wonderful words of scripture from 2 Timothy:

I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

These are words of scripture that today in 2010, we can claim. These are strong words of encouragement reminding us that because of the power of God, the grace of God and the fact that God is watching over us, we can be confident.

We can be confident in the promises of God. Some years ago, a brilliant yet eccentric math professor assigned an incredibly difficult math problem to his students. The next day he asked some of the students to go to the board and write out their solutions to the intricate problem. One after another went to the board and when they finished, he would say, “No, I’m sorry. That’s wrong. Please be seated.” Finally, there was just one student left. He walked to the board and wrote his answer on the board. The professor said, “That’s wrong! Someone else put that answer up there earlier. Didn’t you hear me say that answer was wrong?” The student replied, “Yes sir I did, but it’s not wrong. This is the correct answer.” The professor fired back at him, “That is not the correct answer. Take your seat.” The student replied, “Sir, I’ll be happy to be seated. But with all due respect, I must tell you that you are wrong. This is the correct answer.” The professor looked at the student intently and asked, “are you sure?” The student replied, “Yes sir. I am absolutely sure.” Then the professor smiled at the student and said, “You are right. It is the correct answer.” The professor then said these words to the class, “People are looking for solutions today. And they want to be sure that those who provide the solutions have total confidence in them. This young man demonstrated today not only that he knows, but also that he knows that he knows!” That is the kind of confidence we need as Christians. That confidence is available to us because of God’s greatest promise – the promise that God will never desert us. We can know that we know that God is always with us. He is always with us – I have confidence in that statement. Martin Buber, and Old Testament scholar was commenting on the passage of scripture from Exodus when Moses asks God, “What is your name?” In our modern translations, God responds with these words, “I am who I am.” After studying the Hebrew text for many years, Martin Buber said he came to the conclusion that we have mistranslated that verse. Instead of being translated, “I am who I am,” Buber said he believed it should read “I shall be there.” The name of God is “I shall be there.” When we face hard times, the name of God is “I shall be there.” When we are frightened or lonely or depressed or heartsick, the name of God is “I shall be there.” That is why we can be confident in the promises of God because God is always there for us.

We can also be confident in the truth of Christ. Listen to these lyrics from John Lennon:
I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight-short sighted-
Narrow minded hypocritics

All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

I’ve had enough of reading things
By nuerotic-pyschotic-
Pig headed politicians

All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth

As Christians, we have been given a measuring device for truth. Our measuring stick for truth is the cross (I DREW A CROSS ON WHITEBOARD) The cross is our guiding light, our compass, our measuring stick for truth. We can put our confidence in the cross. If the world tries to tell us that it is ok to take advantage of others for our own personal gain; if the world tries to tell us that it is ok to lie, to cheat, to hurt, to hold a grudge or to hate, we have the cross as our measuring stick for truth. The measuring stick of Christ tells us to be committed to God and compassionate toward others; to be loving and caring and kind; to be just and honest and truthful; to be loyal and merciful and gracious. Anything that doesn’t measure up to that is wrong. We can be confident in the promise of God to always be with us and in the truth of Christ to always guide us.

We can also be confident in the strength of the Holy Spirit. How many of you have seen the movie “The Sound of Music”? Do you remember the scene where Maria is being sent out from the abbey to be the governess for Captain von Trapp’s seven children? She’s a little nervous as she walks down the road, but she begins to sing a song, “I have confidence, they’ll put me to the test. But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me.” When she arrives at the huge elegant von Trapp estate, Maria becomes intimidated for a moment. Do you remember what she does? She stops singing, looks up toward heaven and says to God, “Oh, help.” We can all relate to that. Sometimes all we can do is say, “O God, help me.” The good news is that we can always count on the Holy Spirit to be there for us and to give us the strength we need. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it like this, “God will give us all the strength we need to help us . . .in all time of distress. But God never gives it to us in advance, lest we should rely on ourselves and not on God alone. The apostle Paul said it so well, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” Where do we put our confidence? We put our confidence in the promise of God to always be there for us, in the truth of Christ to always guide us and in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Our faith walk for Ordinary Times

This was yesterday's (2/14/2010) Sunday School lesson and I loved it. Large chunks of the following are straight from one of James Moore's books . . .thank God for wonderful authors who share their writing with all of us!!

Our scripture for the lesson is from Hebrews 10:32-39

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

We’ve had many lessons lately on how to keep our faith when problems come or when tragedy strikes. Remember I even told y’all that I felt like I was teaching those lessons either for me or for someone else in the class. Those lessons were and are important but there is another side of the coin that is also important. How do we keep our faith when times aren’t so tough? What happens to commitment in the give and take of everyday living? How do we hold on to faith in the “daily-ness” of life when times are just ordinary?

Working on the church staff and being a Sunday school teacher, I sometimes get to talk to people when they are in the middle of really bad news. I must admit that it is amazing how well people rise to the occasion. It amazes me how well people respond with courage and strength when tragedy strikes. But it also amazes me that sometimes it is the daily things, the routine irritations that eat us up and tear us down. We so often handle the big battles pretty well, on to be torn apart by the little stuff. I think I shared with y’all about one of the older members calling and chewing me out about the way her tidings was addressed? Something really little sent her over the edge. We’ve all heard the old expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” But the corollary to that should be, “When the going is easy, even the tough slack off.” When things are ordinary, we often relax. We have a tendency to let down, to overlook, to neglect, to coast. We’ve seen this happen in football before. If one team is having a great year – winning is coming easy . . .all of a sudden, another team comes along who hasn’t had a great year – but they want to win . . .and often times the upset occurs. When the pressure is on, when the challenge is great, we stand firm only to fall flat when things are normal.

Our scripture today has that warning from the writer of Hebrews. Beware when no one wants to crucify you; beware when no fearsome threat hangs over your head; beware when you drift unchallenged into the ruts of the routine. Your faith may be in no greater danger THAN IN times like these. These are the times, says the writer of Hebrews, when we have to pay attention lest we drift away. It is not when the battle lines are drawn or when the trumpets blare or when the drums roll that most of us either find or lose our faith. Rather, it is when the bills are being paid, when we are caught in traffic, when the shopping is being done or when the church pledge card is being signed. It is in how we speak to our neighbor, how we relate to our children, how we treat the waitress or the waiter, how we respond to our co-workers. It is in daily living that our faith is really affirmed and expressed or else it slips away so silently, so quietly, so gradually that it is almost gone before we even realize it. Then one day we are jolted to see that our values have become those of the crowd and not of the Christ; our choices have become those of chance and not of commitment; our faith has become convenience instead of obedience; our morality has become custom instead of character.

The truth is that for most of us the real challenge of Christian life and faith is precisely here – in ordinary times, in ordinary places, in the give and take of day to day living. So just how do we hold on to a vibrant and exciting faith when the times are normal? How do we maintain that love of Jesus – that feeling of “I know God and he knows me” and I want others to see it in my face? The writer of Hebrews is actually helpful here. He suggests several things.

He suggests that we remember the original challenge of discipleship. Remember what first challenged you. Recall what caused you to make your initial leap of faith. Remember those times when God first revealed himself to you.

I have a great story (from James Moore). A mother went upstairs into her son’s bedroom to wake him and she said to him, “Get up and get ready. It’s almost time to go to church.” The son pulled the covers up over his shoulders and turned away from her saying, “I don’t want to go today.” His mother said, “Come on, Son, we always go to church.”
He answered, “I’m tired.”
“You can rest some other time, we need to go to church this morning,” she countered.
Then he said, “I want to sleep in. Sunday morning is the only time I have to sleep in.”
“You can sleep some other time. We are going to go to church today,” she replied.
He bolted up in his bed and said, “Give me one good reason we need to go to church today.”
“I’ll give you three reasons,” she replied. “First of all, it’s good for you. Second, it’s a habit in our family; we always go to church. And third, YOU ARE THE MINISTER.”

I’m sad to say that minister had lost something along the way. He forgot the original challenge. He forgot that commitment. So often, we have not so much turned our backs on Christian commitment as we have forgotten it. We have not so much denied Christ as we have ignored him. We have not so much rejected Christianity as we have neglected it. That one is powerful to me - we have not so much rejected Christianity as we have neglected it. Ever happen to anyone else? Sometimes when things are going along pretty well, we forget and we give our energy to other things.

There was a woman who responded to the knock at her front door. There was a home freezer salesman standing on her front porch. Before she could get in a word, he gave her his spill and said, “Ma’am if you buy this freezer from me, you could save enough on food bills to pay for it.” At this, the woman responded, “Mister, we are buying a car on the bus fare we save; we are paying for the washer on the laundry bills we save; and we are purchasing the house on the rent we save. To tell you the truth, we just can’t afford to save any more right now.”

Some of us may be right there in our faith pilgrimage. We know it’s a good thing, but we are so strung out with so many other things that our energy is depleted. We have so many things to do, so many sporting events to attend, we are so busy, that we don’t have any energy left or time left or creativity left for the single most important thing in our lives . . .our relationship with God and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Our faith sometimes gets crowded out in the ordinary times; our commitment gets elbowed into the background. We include the church in our lives when and if we can work it in.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us to remember those days when we have seen God in action and felt him in our lives. We are to remember who captured our hearts.

The writer of Hebrews also says, “Do not throw away your confidence.” The great commitment is so much easier than the daily one. Talking a good game is not enough. We have to live it daily. It is so much easier to make a commitment than it is to keep it. We are doing weight watchers here at the church and many of us have been successful with the program. Our leader told us just last week at the meeting that we couldn’t just join and say, “I joined Weight Watchers. Watch me as I lose weight. . . .and do nothing else.” Just because we join Weight Watchers does not make us lose weight. Signing our name on the little card and writing a check does not make us lose weight. Eating well and exercising – doing it daily – is what makes us lose weight. Signing up for Weight Watchers is easy. It’s eating right and doing it that counts. It is the same thing with our Christian journey. Signing up to be a member of Trinity is pretty easy but living as a committed disciple of Jesus Christ takes daily commitment. We are counting on Jesus and he is counting on us daily to live as an example of His way.

The writer of Hebrews also reminds us to remember the ever-present cost of discipleship. He tells us to persevere - to endure.

She was a delightful woman and very well advanced in years. She had purchased a small booklet the day before for 25 cents and she liked it so much that she went back to buy another one for a friend of hers. As the clerk rung up the sale, she said, “that will be 35 cents.” The older woman said, “But I only paid a quarter yesterday.” The clerk answered, “the price has been the same all week – thirty five cents. I mark the books myself.” The woman dug the rest of the cost from the bottom of her purse, saying, “Sorry I was such a bother,” and then she turned to leave.

The man behind her stepped up to the cash register, but then the older woman turned back, stepped in front of him and said, “I’m terribly sorry to interrupt but there’s one more thing I need to take care of with this young woman.” The woman began to dig in her purse and apologized again saying, “I hate to be such a bother but this is important.” After what seemed like an eternity, the woman lifted a single dime out of the bowels of that purse. She handed the dime to the clerk and said, “This is for yesterday. I only paid you twenty-five cents for my booklet yesterday, so I owe you another dime.” The clerk said, “Oh no, that’s all right.” But the older woman was insistent. “Oh you must accept it. It’s the only honest thing to do.”

A big gruff looking man standing in line with a cigar in his mouth spoke up: “You are right, little lady.” It always pays to be honest.”

“Oh no,” the woman answered, stuffing the other items back into her purse. “No, it costs to be honest. It just cost me a dime; but Jesus is honest, and I try my best to be like him.”

Ten cents. One thin dime. Too many of us lose our standards or water down our commitments when life is just ordinary. Mark and George’s mom always says, “either you are honest or you are not.” That has come up in three different discussions with others this week. Either you are honest or you are not. There is not a lot of gray area in honesty. Too often, we just go with the flow. The writer of Hebrews tells us not to throw away what we know is right but rather to endure and do the will of God.

Honesty costs. Discipleship costs. Christianity costs in ordinary day to day living because it means what that older lady knew. It means “being like Jesus” and trying to be like Jesus is what makes the most ordinary times extraordinary. Did you hear it? Being like Jesus is what makes the most ordinary times extraordinary. Being like Jesus is what makes the most ordinary times extraordinary.