water works

I get teased something fierce by my kids.  They have such great material to work with…

One of the standard teases has to do with the post-baptism glow that walks with me for days.

Being able to baptize infants and adults and toddlers and youth is Holy Spirit zap powerful.  Each baptism is different.

A few weeks ago I was able to participate in my first ever on-my-knees baptism.  We were blessed to have a family with three children come for baptism.  The eldest is wise beyond her years and she was so very present and aware of (as much as any of us can be!) the Spirit power she was sharing through her baptism.  Her  youngest brother was next. Having watched his sister, he was feeling like maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.  So he put his hand in the bowl full of baptismal water and let his fingers feel the water that was being dipped and placed on his head.  And then there was his brother.  He is four.  He wanted nothing to do with baptism.  He made like a fine escape artist and I wondered if we would need to share this holy sacrament sometime when I didn’t have to tackle him.  In order to try to connect with him I found myself on my knees on the floor.  But then he stopped.  And he allowed grace to bathe his head even as he maintained his dignity by shaking his head “no no no” with each dip.

This past Sunday we were able to welcome a four-month old as a sister in Christ.  Honestly, her eyes never left mine throughout the introductions and the asking of questions and the prayer over the water.  And when it was time to baptize her, as the cold water was gently put on her head, she broke into the biggest smile I have seen on a four-month old face.  No fooling.  She knew exactly what was going on.

I’m still filled with wonder.  To share the sacred in community is transformational good.  I know I have been transformed through the gifts of these recent baptisms.  I am a skipping, awe-full Pastor.

My heart is still on its knees.

heart stretch

One of the dangers of church work is the engagement of heart.

At worship yesterday, I shared with the gathered the deaths of two of our members.  They are people who had given much to their church:  companionship, insight, great hugs, and beauty.  When the news of death is shared, the whole sanctuary goes through an energy shift.  People are instantly in the place of heart.

Following worship during a scheduled meeting in the sanctuary, I noticed one of our members standing in the back of the sanctuary.  It was odd, this sight, since she is usually robed and singing with the choir.  The language of her body told me that something was up, but with another worship service soon to start, I wasn’t able to connect with her.

The reason for her unlikely position in the sanctuary became clear later.  She had gone to pick up one of our beloved older members for church.  They like each other greatly, these two, and enjoy the ride to church together every week.  The door was not answered this week.  Louise had died in her sleep the night before.   Her friend had come to church to share the news and to be with her people.

There are all the positives to know in my head:  She was in her upper eighties.  She died peacefully.

My head works the check-list of goods, but my heart feels the ache of her passing.

Louise gave huge heart to her church.  She was on staff for a time.  She coordinated counters for years.  And, she was the membership secretary since forever.  Looking at our church records, there is a beautiful visual poetry in the names written by her hand; names representing human lives willing to join their being with a church called “Richfield”.  Their names are in the book of life tended by Louise.

She had been at church just this past week for her book and people tending.  She was full of delight at a recent article written about her grandson, and her pictures of great grand babies were oohed over by all.  She was grounded and alive, full of the sass and heart that permeated her being.

I serve a congregation that walks in beauty.  I have been in their midst some eight plus years and there has grown in my heart a deep love for those kind and good enough to allow me to be Pastor.

Louise was a champion.  I will miss her voice, her love for her people, and her love for her church.  She and her husband Larry created a powerful flock of people who will bless in their stead for generations.  This I know in my head.

But my heart?  It is feeling the ache and beauty of grief and celebration, both.

The blessing of being in communion with Louise made for fine heart stretch.





Some of the things I am grateful for…

A Thanksgiving feast enjoyed by five out of six children and two mothers.

My “missing” child off at a destination wedding (not hers, but a family friend’s of her beloved’s) in Vail, Colorado is in the company of a high school cabin friend.  Who knew?  The world weaves in amazing ways.

Being able to take my mom to church.  The building was empty, and there in the hush of that holy sanctuary space, I could share with her the story of our pipe organ and the ways the church community made beauty happen.

Lunch with my mom and my newly discovered cousin-friend and her kin.  You know how it goes.  Sometimes the people closest via blood aren’t discovered as heart kindred until later in life.  So it has been.

Quiet.  After the orchestration of a mega meal and the hospitality that goes with it, the chance to sit on the couch is gift.

A mother in law who calls in the morning to be sure I read a guest editorial written about the heart-hurt experienced by same-gender loving people who cannot marry.  Last night at the dinner table she challenged us to become knowledgeable and speak up about human trafficking and the upcoming marriage amendment.  She is 89.  Who will be a witness?  Grace Wiggen, that’s who.

Love.  Cooper’s youngest is marrying next summer.  I got a peek at her dress (modern technology is our friend) and the planning is thick.  She is so excited to share life with her guy.  This is good.

More love.  Yesterday twenty-some people gathered around tables and shared a Thanksgiving feast at church.  I wasn’t there, but throughout the day I was aware that the warmth of gratitude and love was being shared by church kin and it moves me, this knitting of people.

Wonder.  Love is grand.  Gratitude is.  And Sunday?  Sunday is the first Sunday in Advent.  It will be powerful to gather in the hush of candle lighting.  To gather, and to continue this giving of thanks for the gift we know to be real but experience in fleeting ways:  the peace of the Christ.  God with us.  Emmanuel.





techno blub

We have new computers at work!

We have new computers at work.  Sigh.

While new is lovely, the muttering and foolish-feeling has escalated.  I’m not alone in this.  We do an amazing number of things in a given week:  create power points for worship, write lots of things, field hundreds of emails, send many of same, and send things like sermons from home to church to be printed.

Not a one of the above things that used to be done with ease has been easy these past few weeks.  There has been a seemingly unending stream of ineptitude-proving tasks that take twice as long to get done.

The worst was on Sunday morning.  I write my sermon at home, send it to the church, and print it off from there.  No big deal.  Except that when I got to church I could not get my email to release my oh-so-carefully crafted words.  I was thinking I would have to preach from a manuscript printed in a two (ok, maybe I am exaggerating here) point font.  Luckily I had patient church members who could coach my end-of-my-rope under pressure self and I was able to see my sermon in order to share it.

I know that in a week or so, we’ll be feeling fleet and smug about the new technology in our lives.  But oh, the meantime is endless long.

So, be kind to your techno-blubbing staff, my friends.  We’re doing the best that we can.



I had a treat this week; I got to spend time with old friends.

I’m in that gap time as a children’s book junkie.  My children are in their twenties.  They are not in the child producing stage of life.  Thus, I have no reason to indulge my delight in children’s literature.   The books my children grew up with are nestled in a book-case at the cabin, awaiting the first grand baby.  There is precious little picture book reading going on in my life.

But, since I was invited to a baby shower I got to lose myself in picture books this past week.  My children’s favorite authors are still delightful, and it was fun to see what else is going on during my absence from the scene.

Reading to my kids was one of the many favorite things I got to experience as a parent of wee ones.

As I was thinking about the joy of books and laps on that day,  I was jolted by the sight of a three year-old in a stroller watching a video on an IPad as her mom wheeled her through the mall.  It made me sad and worried, both (I sound like one of those judgmental old people; forgive me!).

For my kids (there I go again…) going to the mall and looking around and seeing people and talking with their mom was entertainment galore.  Was it always pretty?  No.  They got bored and restless and during such times a book was always ready to keep them distracted.

And televisions in cars?  Don’t get me started…

What I am hoping is that cellphone gadgets and electronic diversions don’t replace the joy of a picture book and the fallow-time goodness of imagination.

How full can a life be if we never have a chance to learn about the day that Jimmy’s boa ate the wash???

on me

So, it’s that glorious day when an extra hour of sleep is given.  People actually get to church early and there is energy aplenty because we are all burping from the extra sleep.

Except me.  Here is how it worked at my house.

I have one of those lovely phones that reminds me of my every obligation.  It does so by way of a beeping alert ten minutes prior to my inputted commitment.

I put Daylight savings into my phone, just so I wouldn’t forget it.  For some reason, I logged it in to commence at midnight.

I sleep with my phone in my bedroom.  Because I have three children and because I am on call 24/7, I plug it into a socket across the room in my bedroom.  Ever vigilant am I.

When I got up this morning, I felt none of the joy of extra sleep. I felt run over by a bus. Cooper too was a bit groggy.  As we swapped “Wow, I feel tired” stories, he suggested that I check my text mail box, since it sounded to him like I was getting texts all night.

That sent my alert mode racing.  I went to my phone to retrieve what I was sure were urgent messages from my kids.

And what I found was that all night long, every ten minutes, my phone had done what it was programmed to do:  remind me that it was the day when a holy extra hour of sleep was possible.

I vaguely remember waking up through the night wondering why my phone was lit up.  But in that sleep fuzzled way of wee hours, I didn’t rouse myself enough to investigate.

Instead, I slept, or didn’t sleep, as every ten minutes my phone spoke its warning message.

Technology is a fine thing, but it is only as good as the humanoids that tell it what to do.

Tonight, I am looking forward to a sleep unaccompanied by lights and beeps and vague wonderings.

I think I’ll like it.


And so begins another season of life here on Blaisdell.

Oldest daughter Leah and her wildly alive Pit Bull have moved out.  The room that housed her life treasures (and mine, for surely she is life treasure extraordinaire) is emptied.

It surprises me each time I go upstairs, this vacancy.

I am filled with wonder about this elastic and colossal thing called love.  It is a force in life that finds endless ways to hum between parents and children, partners and pets.

Children come, they go, they partner with others, they hurt, they triumph and always always there is space and hunger within me for their being.

I had lunch with my girls yesterday.  We walked arm in arm down the streets of St Paul and shared Thai food, laughter, and hearts.  Advice was sought and shared, notions played out and life swapped.  This morning I had breakfast with my 21-year-old son.  Always this child has been tender of heart and voracious in his hunger for life and living and while being a sometimes terrified bystander to his questing is rough going, my faith in his amazing beauty is boundless.

I have loved every phase of their being, these people who shared my body for a time.  I sometimes long for the days of sleeper jammies and newly washed heads under my chin for reading marathons.  I long on occasion for the days when I could tuck them in at night and rouse them in the morning.  Their presence in my every day was ground of my being.

And, it still is.  They are flown, my babies.  Flown to the lives they are creating through their willingness to engage and stretch and live.

They are treasure unbound.