Posted by: abbiewatters | June 25, 2017

Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Sabbath – Sunday

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Sabbath this week. The rules for Sabbath come from the oldest writings of the church. In Genesis, we are told to rest one day out of every seven, because God rested. God understood and understands that we get tired and worn out and burned out – even when we are doing good. And then in Exodus, we learn that the Israelites practiced Sabbath as an act of resistance. They refused to agree that their entire lives belonged to Pharaoh. And, likewise, in Jesus’ time, they practiced Sabbath as an act of resistance to the Roman occupiers.

1.  Notice throughout your week when you rest. What feels most restful to you? It’s very restful to disengage my brain. When the weather is decent, I love to sit in the rocker on the back porch and just rock. Sometimes I listen to music, but often I engage in an earlier Spiritual Discipline of enjoying silence. Reading a trashy novel, with no deadline, also lets me turn my mind off.

2.  Reflect on these two questions: What is saving my life? What is killing me? The beauty of the area where I live is saving my life right now. I can usually count on seeing Puget Sound every single day, and for someone who spent time languishing in Nevada and West Texas, cool water is a balm to my soul. The political climate, and the realization once again that people will descend into evil without a firm basis in a loving God, is destroying me. It’s killing my soul. I keep thinking if I could only talk to enough people, or educate enough children, or make enough phone calls to my elected representatives, surely things would begin to change and people would quit worrying about their own poverty, or powerlessness, or greed, and begin to think of the other people in our world. When I begin to despair, I often take a walk by the water and sit and listen to the waves lapping at the shore, and I gain a little peace, and the ability to go on with the work of changing the world.

3. Take one day this week for rest and no work. I’m retired, so I never work in the normal sense of the word. Because I don’t work, I have a hard time separating the days and “creating” a Sabbath. I am trying to quit obsessing about the number of steps I get on Sundays. The other days of the week, I try (and usually succeed) to get 10,000 steps a day. That involves carving time out of my other activities to walk, either indoors at the Wellness Center, or outdoors. For this one day a week, I eat what I want, and I don’t worry about how many steps I have. For someone who has been on a diet for three and a half years, not worrying about it is a real relief.

 

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Posted by: abbiewatters | June 18, 2017

Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Prayer – Sunday

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of prayer this week. If the best definition of prayer is connection with God, and if Jesus is God, why did Jesus pray? Sarah says that regular prayer will help us understand our purpose, and clarify what we are supposed to be doing. Here are the three things I hope to practice every day this week.

1.  Give up one regular activity this week and use the time for prayer. I’m going to go back to a previous practice I had of mindfulness. Recently I have become so focused on politics and the news, I haven’t been meditating every morning as I used to. Instead I have been reading The Skimm, and starting the day on a low simmer. For this week (at least), I will meditate instead of getting myself worked up about whatever political horror happened overnight.

2.  Listen to the Pray As You Go podcast. I have added the podcast to my iPhone, and have set a reminder for 5:00 pm. I already have the Ceaseless app on my phone, and it serves up three people every day for me to pray for by name. 5-10 minutes twice a day is far from the command to “pray without ceasing,” but it’s a start. Maybe with my life bracketed by prayer like this I will be able to fall into a more regular habit of prayer.

3. Experiment this week with a kind of prayer that is new for you. I’m probably least comfortable in naming my own desires in prayer. I have no problem praying for other people, but I resist asking for something for myself. I’ll try, this week, to recognize and accept what I want, and I’ll try to ask for it from God.

 

Posted by: abbiewatters | June 11, 2017

Spiritual Discipline for the Week – Listening – Sunday

Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of listening this week. She asked us to do three things every day.

1.  Sit still for a few minutes. Notice the sounds around you. What do you hear?

As I sat in the sun in the rocking chair on my back porch, I rocked and listened. I heard the birds.

There were several white-capped sparrows calling to each other with their distinctive “See, see, pretty, pretty, me!” I could hear at least three and possibly four different sparrows. One would call – another would answer – always with the same, vain song – “See, see, pretty, pretty me!” How does that echo my own vain song “See, ME, it’s all about me”?

There was also a whole flock of starlings quarrelling over the suet feeder! They squawked, and fluttered, and fought, until finally they all flew away – none of them having been able to get more than a taste. Because each one was so interested in getting there first, and getting the most, none of them got very much.

And when I was sitting still and listening, I could hear the beating of the wings of the chickadees as they fluttered across the yard, and the splashing of the robin in the bird bath under the tree. The chickadees have solved the problem of fighting for a place on the perch of the feeder. They nip into an empty spot and snatch one seed at a time, and retire to the branch of a tree to eat it. The robin enjoyed her solitary bath in the sun-warmed water.

2.  During your day notice which voices you trust.

On this 52nd Anniversary of our marriage, I trust this man. He has never let me down when it came to anything important. He has loved me, and he has provided for me and our children, and he has supported me as I grew into the woman I am today. When we met and married I was timid and unsure of myself, but after years of encouragement from him and the fact that I knew I could count on him to be there for me, I am strong and self-confident.

3. When you hear something you don’t want to hear, try asking yourself, “What is the Spirit saying to me?”

I really resisted reading this article ‘Soft Coup’ on Trump Hiding in Plain Sight. I realized that I have been so focused on MY side of the argument, that I have resisted hearing what the other side said. So I read the article. And I read the analysis on Medium. I’m not so stupid as to think that Trump is all bad, and the Democrats are all good, but I realized I may have been listening myself in to believing that. I think, once more, that Calvin was right. People may have been created without sin, but, left to their own devices, they will often (usually) choose the sinful, God-denying, self-important way. I realize the Spirit is telling me not to get too full of myself, and to keep on judging my attitudes and actions by Matthew 25. As I fancy myself as having more and more power in church circles and in life in general, I MUST keep remembering “Power corrupts! Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” May God have mercy on my soul.

Posted by: abbiewatters | June 2, 2017

2017 Intentions – May

As I said here, I dumped my original Star Word in favor of COURAGE.

These are my intentions for the year. Let’s see how I’m doing showing COURAGE in each case.

I will resist hatred, prejudice, and evil, and speak out against all of them when I see/hear them.

  • I will resist evil, hatred, and reactionary government by signing up with Wall of Us. Each week you will receive a list of four actions you can take by writing to your elected representatives to ensure your values are being considered by the government. Some are local, some are state, and some are national. Often you will receive suggestions of products to boycott or hatred to call out.
    • I’ve consistently made phone calls – either in support of my representatives positions or to encourage them to speak out. I have both US Senators’ and my Representative’s number saved in my phone and I call, at least, weekly.
    • I’m still calling. Right now, I’m focusing on LGBT rights, global warming, and immigrant rights.
  • I’ve signed up with People Power – a grassroots organizing effort backed by the ACLU.
    • I’m on the local leadership team for People Power in Tacoma
    • I have attended a City Council meeting where they were discussing eliminating fossil fuels from our port.
    • I’ve added my neighborhood council meeting to my calendar and will try to attend.
    • I attended a Washington Won’t Discriminate training, and will be working to bring Trans-101 training to groups I can influence. I also signed this letter as Vice-Moderator of Olympia Presbytery.

I will exercise regularly and eat good, healthy food.

  • I will try to get 10,000 steps a day – so far, so good, for the most part.
  • I will log my food every day (and no cheating)  – I have lost the weight I put on since the first of last May. That includes the weight I gained while traveling to see the Alabama Watters and at General Assembly. Next milestone will be when I get back to where I was when we returned from our big 50th Anniversary trip in November 2015.
  • I will cook most of the food we eat from scratch, and will be careful of extra salt and additives in any packaged foods – check, check, and check.
    • I have planted the tomato and pepper plants.
    • I’ve also planted green beans and squash, and the green beans have sprouted.
    •  I will continue to get Blue Apron meals whenever my schedule allows me time to prepare them. If you would like to try them, send me your email in a comment, and I’ll send you three free meals (I have at least 5 sets available).

I will make personal contact with at least half of the churches in the Presbytery.

  • I will meet the pastors for coffee and a “get-to-know-you” time. So far I’ve only connected at Presbytery meetings and events.
  • I was on a panel at the last Presbytery meeting because Bethany was one of the churches with the most growth – both in numbers and percentage.
  • I continue to attend Administrative Council meetings, Trustee meetings, Taskforce for New Worshipping Communities meetings, and meetings of the Granting Team for distributing mission money to various churches.
  • I will try to meet with the sessions and invite more participation by Ruling Elders in Presbytery meetings and commissions and committees.

I will work for more racial diversity and harmony in my city and church.

  • I will encourage a dialogue between Bethany and at least one historically Black congregation – no opportunities yet, but I’m working on it.
  • Our Interfaith Dialogue has continued through May. I have attended all four sessions, one at Bethany Presbyterian Church, one at Temple Beth-El, one at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and one hosted by the Mosque at the Library. We have studied how each religion thinks about Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohamed. In July we will meet with all the other faith communities for a picnic.

I will pray for Big Al as he faces decreased mobility and increasing pain from his back problems. I will try to remember that he is hurting, and not push him to do more than he is comfortable doing – I’m doing pretty well with this one, but it means I often go places and do things that leave him at home alone.

Posted by: abbiewatters | May 23, 2017

We Are Standing on Holy Ground

This phrase has been recurring for the last 48 hours. We sang it as one of our opening hymns for worship Sunday.

I spent the last two afternoons in the garden, trying desperately to dig out roots that were older than I am, in order to plant my tomato plants, and the music kept playing in my head.

I remembered that one of the ministers at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas always took her shoes off before she stepped into the pulpit. She said it reminded her that she was standing on holy ground.

And then, Monday morning, in the post from Kate Foster Connors on the NEXT Church blog, the phrase recurred.

I am realizing that wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, even if we don’t remember it, we are standing on holy ground.

Posted by: abbiewatters | May 14, 2017

Mother’s Day – 2017

(This seems to be becoming a tradition…)

Mother’s Day. Here’s a retrospective of pictures of Mama that’s I’ve published through the years.

Mama & Nannan

Here she is with HER grandmother, in 1921.

Mama - age 12

Here is her portrait from Junior High School (about 1932)

Mama

This is her college portrait (about 1940).

Mama and Me

Here she is with ME when I was about 3 months old (Fall of 1944)

The Greissers - Copy

Here she is with all the kids (Harriet, standing, Abbie on the arm of her chair, Betty on the little stool, and Billy on her lap). (Summer of 1956)Mama & Papa (7)Here she is with my father in 1974.

Mama and Papa

Here they are again in 1980.

Thanksgiving 1982

And here they are in 1982 after she lost a bunch of weight (I’m trying to do as well).

Mama & Papa

This is Mama and Papa in 1992 right after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mama & Papa's 50th Wedding Anniversary (15)

This is the last picture I have of her at Mama and Papa’s 50th wedding anniversary party, in June of 1994.

I still miss her, particularly on days like today, Mother’s Day, February 19th, (her birthday), and June 24th (Papa’s and her wedding anniversary).

Posted by: abbiewatters | May 4, 2017

2017 Intentions – April

Sorry, it’s Star Wars day and I’m just now getting around to writing this post. Mea Culpa.

As I said here, I dumped my original Star Word in favor of COURAGE.

These are my intentions for the year. Let’s see how I’m doing showing COURAGE in each case.

I will resist hatred, prejudice, and evil, and speak out against all of them when I see/hear them.

  • I will resist evil, hatred, and reactionary government by signing up with Wall of Us. Each week you will receive a list of four actions you can take by writing to your elected representatives to ensure your values are being considered by the government. Some are local, some are state, and some are national. Often you will receive suggestions of products to boycott or hatred to call out.
    • I’ve consistently made phone calls – either in support of my representatives positions or to encourage them to speak out. I have both US Senators’ and my Representative’s number saved in my phone and I call, at least, weekly.
  • I’ve signed up with People Power – a grassroots organizing effort backed by the ACLU.
    • I’m on the local leadership team for People Power in Tacoma
    • I met with the City of Tacoma Police Chief, and we discussed the 9 initiatives from the ACLU to make Tacoma a Freedom City.
    • I also met individually with two City Council members, one from my district and one at-large, and we discussed keeping immigrants safe in Tacoma. We also discussed initiatives to curtail the abuses at the Northwest Detention Center, located in our city.
    • I’ve added my neighborhood council meeting to my calendar and will try to attend.
    • I attended a Town Hall meeting with US Representative Derek Kilmer and heard from him about how best to lobby members of congress.

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer

I will exercise regularly and eat good, healthy food.

  • I will try to get 10,000 steps a day – so far, so good, for the most part.
  • I will log my food every day (and no cheating)  – I have lost the weight I put on since the middle of August. Next milestone will be when I get back to the first of June.
  • I will cook most of the food we eat from scratch, and will be careful of extra salt and additives in any packaged foods – check, check, and check.
    • We have enjoyed two (small) batches of asparagus that I was able to gather from the garden.
    • I have baby tomato and pepper plants on the counter in the kitchen waiting for the 15th of May to go outside.
    • I will continue to get Blue Apron meals whenever my schedule allows me time to prepare them. If you would like to try them, send me your email in a comment, and I’ll send you three free meals (I have at least 5 sets available).

I will make personal contact with at least half of the churches in the Presbytery.

  • I will meet the pastors for coffee and a “get-to-know-you” time. So far I’ve only connected at Presbytery meetings and events.
  • I continue to attend Administrative Council meetings, Trustee meetings, Taskforce for New Worshipping Communities meetings, and meetings of the Granting Team for distributing mission money to various churches.
  • I will try to meet with the sessions and invite more participation by Ruling Elders in Presbytery meetings and commissions and committees.

I will work for more racial diversity and harmony in my city and church.

  • I will encourage a dialogue between Bethany and at least one historically Black congregation – no opportunities yet, but I’m working on it.
  • Our continuing Interfaith Dialogue has resumed in March. I have attended all three sessions, one at Bethany Presbyterian Church, one at Temple Beth-El, and one at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. We have studied how each religion thinks about Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. In May we will meet with the Mosque and learn about Mohammed.

I will pray for Big Al as he faces decreased mobility and increasing pain from his back problems. I will try to remember that he is hurting, and not push him to do more than he is comfortable doing – I’m doing pretty well with this one, but it means I often go places and do things that leave him at home alone.

Posted by: abbiewatters | April 17, 2017

Check-In

Check-in
Physically – Pretty good – arthritis in my thumb is slowly improving
Emotionally – Flat
Mentally – Alert
Spiritually – Solid

Gratitude
1. Asparagus is beginning to sprout
2. Mental stimulation by working on the books at church
3. There hasn’t been any new violence internationally in the last day

My Enough List for the Day (three things I will do/focus on that will be enough for this day)
1. Exercise – 10,000 steps
2. Book the money and deposit the funds for Bethany
3. Wash, and dry all our clothes, and fold and hang my own.

Curiosity (something I’m puzzling over or wanting to pay attention to)

Working of something for writing class

An Intention

Focus on healthy food, not just calories

~

And the evening list, which I’ve been very irregular with. Oh well:

Three things to celebrate about the day:
1.
2.
3.

One thing I could have done better

Posted by: abbiewatters | April 16, 2017

On Sunday

It was on the Sunday

that he pulled the wheat.

They arrived with flowers,

shuffling through the dawn

as the dawn snuffed out

the last candles of night.

Their faces betrayed their belief

that yesterday would always be better

than tomorrow,

despite what he said.

He would not say it again,

so why bother to believe him on that score?

And the flowers,

they too were silent witnesses to disbelief.

Like the grass,

they were cut off from the root,

the bulb, the source of life.

He was the flower they cherished,

the flower now perished

whose fate the lilies of the field,

now tight in hand,

would re-enact.

So when they passed the crouched figure

at the edge of the road,

they thought little of him,

scarcely seeing his form through their tears.

Had they looked even a little,

they would have seen a man

letting grain fall through his fingers,

dropping to the earth

to die and yet to rise again.

It was on the Sunday

that he pulled the wheat.

From: Stages on the Way, Iona Community Wild Goose Resource Group

Posted by: abbiewatters | April 16, 2017

Wonder #rethinkchurch

This year for Lent I’m (again) following the posts from photo-a-day at #rethinkchurch

 

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