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not a clue, as usual


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Follow the Sun

IMG_20150616_0001 (2)My dad loved his gardens and always included a few giant sunflowers among the flowers and veggies. Today, I still plant a variety of sunflowers each year in his memory. I’ll plant a mixture of colors from burgundy to bright yellow sunflowers, orange bushy tithonia (Mexican sunflowers) and little two foot high, fuzzy “Teddy Bear” sunflowers.  Then there are the “volunteers”. These are the sunflowers seeds dropped by birds visiting our feeders. They can sprout up anywhere. This year, we have some growing by the side of the driveway right against the retaining wall. Several others are coming up in the middle of my small patch of zinnias. One even P1010526sprung up in the center of some potted herbs on the deck! I let them grow and cheer them on as they struggle to become full- fledged sunflowers. They obviously don’t realize that they are born of inferior seed, the seed that is relegated to bird seed mixes. Their stalks are thin and spindly compared to the ones in the garden. When they bloom, their heads will be small and pale. They won’t be much to look at yet still they grow and each day they do what all sunflowers do. They will follow the sun with a determination that is inspiring to me.


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In the morning, as the rising sun send out its first rays of the day, the flowers will face the east. By noontime, the heads will be facing straight up towards the sun. At sunset these same flowers will be turned due west as they catch the last of the fading light. They show such devotion to what they acknowledge as the source of their life. Yet, the truly incredible thing is that they start this pattern as soon as the sunflower head begins to form. Even as a tightly closed bud, sunflowers follow the sun.

So it makes me think – how closely am I following the Son? Unlike the sunflower, I am aware that I am born of
inferior seed and not nearly smart enough, strong enough or good enough to follow Christ. Yet, He invites me to follow. Often we wait until we are more comfortable before we join into a ministry opportunity. We want to wait until we learn more, know more or can do more before we sign up. While I am all for the proper training of volunteers, can we ever be really “fully trained”? We need to take our cue from the sunflower and start following while we are still forming buds and not wait until petals are full bloomed.

I’ve been known to jump out of the boat a few times and often find myself learning on the job. The great thing about that, is that when I have little preconceived ideas of what a ministry should be, I am much more open to whatever God is prodding me into doing. I have found myself in some very interesting places simply because I was trying to follow the Son.

Once I found myself in a HazMat suit telling a group of kids about the beauty of God’s creation

Once I let kids break water balloons over me at the end of the school year just to show them how I trusted them.

Once I broke out the bubble solution and transformed a classroom into a whole room of bubbly fun as we spoke about how “Jesus’ love is a bubbling over” at a Valentine’s Day party.

Once I used a chemical mixture to make a pumpkin “vomit” in order to show how we are changed by our encounters with Christ (Oh, the joys of being a youth leader!)

I’ve lost count of how many times I have crawled under a puppet stage to teach kids and adults about a God who loves them more than they can ever imagine. In the process I have built friendships with the teens that I teach puppet techniques to and been blessed by those friendships.

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  I try to follow the Son wherever He leads just like the sunflowers in my garden. Admittedly, I don’t always get it right. I make a lot of wrong turns and I get stuck in a lot of bad decisions. But I have asked Jesus to lead and He keeps an eye on me as I follow. Just as He watches over the smallest sparrow, the lilies of the fields and the little sunflower growing my pots of herbs, He watches over me and keeps me on track.

And I follow…

      When I don’t feel good enough

           When I don’t get it right

                    When I can’t see where He is leading…

                             I follow the Son.

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Catching Fireflies

firefly cartoon

When I was little, my favorite summer sport was catching fireflies. My sister and I would chase those flashing lights in our backyard and laugh as they climbed over our hands before taking off again. Sometime we would put a few in an empty jar with holes punched in the top, a few bits of grass and twigs and a sprinkle of water. Unfortunately, the larger ones would die overnight while the smaller ones would seek freedom through the air holes. But we never tired of the chase. Whether we watched from our bedroom window or enjoyed the thrill of running outside past our normal bedtimes, catching fireflies is a cherished childhood memory.

Sadly, memories may be all we have left. Firefly populations have been declining all over the U.S. in recent years. Entomologists are blaming habitat destruction and light pollution for the ever dwindling numbers. Simply put, suburban sprawl has destroyed the forest and open grasslands where these insects flourish. They thrive in the warm moist environments of ponds and lakes surrounded by forests and open grasslands. They lay their eggs in the leaf litter of forest floors. As the larvae grow, they head for the open fields of grasses to find mates. The grass gives these nocturnal creatures cover during the day. At night, they climb to the tips of the grass to flash their lights to attract a mate. When the male sees a responding light from a female in an overhead tree, he will fly up to meet her. This is why suburban backyards next to wooded areas are so perfect for fireflies. But they have been squeezed out by housing developments, paved parking lots and large shopping centers that are so common today. We have made the environment hostile to them and fireflies now struggle to breed and are unable to lay enough eggs each year. Consequently, their numbers are rapidly falling.firefly

Though we notice the physical changes that we have brought about on this planet, we may miss how the changes in our culture affect our spiritual lives. As our society speeds up, we find it harder to slow down and spend time in prayer and meditation as God calls us to do. Social issues will always be at odds with Biblical laws. As a Christian, I often feel that I am being squeezed out by a society that values self-gratification over a higher moral standard. I didn’t notice the loss of fireflies until I read about it in a local newspaper. I can remember my childhood backyard alive with sparkling lights on summer nights. My husband tells the story of canoeing down the Delaware River as a boy scout and seeing thousands of fireflies light up the trees along the river. What a sight that must have been! But they are fading away and I didn’t notice until I read about it. Will Christian moral values slip away as quietly? Will anyone notice?firefly jar

While habitat loss is devastating firefly populations, light pollution has also caused irreparable damage. Scientists have noticed that some fireflies synchronize their flashes but the headlights of a single car can disrupt the flash pattern for several minutes. These insects use their lights to communicate. They find mates, defend territory and warn off predators with their flashing taillights. Now they have to compete with suburban landscape lighting, streetlights, increased car traffic and parking lots lights.

Light pollution has hurt the insect’s ability to find mates and breed while loss of habitat has taken away a safe shelter for them to lay eggs and allow the larvae to grow. As a result, less fireflies are born each year and summer lawns no longer light up with thousands of flashes on warm nights.

Jesus spoke often of light. He told His followers that they could be a light in a dark world. Too often, I feel like my light is being outshined by the society that I live in. The half-truths and outright lies of our culture seem brighter and flashier than the words of Christ in our upside down world. Or am I the one who is upside down? Am I letting myself be overwhelmed by waves of politically correct ideologies rather than holding tight to Christ’s teachings? Perhaps the things that He has taught us – love, compassion, forgiveness, humility – shine with a divine light that cannot be outshone. Perhaps I need to be more concerned about what is shining in my heart than letting the streetlights distract me. And in doing so, I can direct people to “the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:16).

…Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

firefly jar2


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fireflies on the 4th of July


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fireworks explode in a summer’s sky

where am I ?

catching fireflies on the 4th of July.

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It’s just so easy to get caught up in the flash and the power of it all

and I do it every year.

we arch our necks

and ooh and aah

but always come back to the wonder of those tiny lights sailing over summer lawns.

We often miss the smaller things

because we are overwhelmed by the bigger things.

When Jesus knelt to write in the sand

the crowd was so curious as to his

judgement on the sinful woman.

But wouldn’t it have been more interesting

to know what he was writing?

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fireworks explode in a summer’s sky

where am i?

catching fireflies in the 4th of July.

Everyone’s chasing a political football

running down a field towards a goal.

Then there’s those of us

who shuffle thru fields of grass

catching fireflies on the 4th of July,

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So often I overlook the little things

cause this world can be such a great big place

Even Noah’s working hard, hammering away,

trying to follow construction plans while the storm clouds gather

Do you think he even looked up as the first drops fell,

as the winds howled and the people ran?

or was he so taken by the gentle care shown as the door was sealed.

Fireworks explode in a summer’s sky

where am I?

catching fireflies on the 4th of July.

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