Reflections on a Life

Reflections on a Life

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Light of the World

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12

I love Christmas.  I love the music and the decorations and the food and the general sense of joy and hope that  surrounds everything and everyone.  It’s the lights that I think I love the most.  

All year long I see traffic lights and street lights and the headlights and tail lights of cars.  But when fall turns into winter, those lights magically look like Christmas to me.  And the last things I want to take down  when the season is ‘over’  are those lights.  

And the real beauty of those lights is that they never go out.  They might not be lighting The Plaza or my home or my tree, and the traffic lights might start looking like normal cars again, but they stay lit in the world… and in my heart.  

Because the birth and the life…. and the death… of the man who is the reason for those lights have changed the world - and my heart - forever.  And, I pray, that even when things appear dark,  I remember to follow the Light of the World.

Thank you, baby Jesus.  

Published in God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, January 2018

Being the Prayer

We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us. The Spirit speaks to God with deep feelings that words cannot explain.          Romans 8:26

I’m reading Why Not Be a Mystic? and love it because the chapters are short and sweet and make me stop and think deeply about what has been said.  Sometimes I write comments and questions in the margins that I want to discuss with my small group, The Mystics.  Occasionally my soul does a happy dance about something that I read that just thrills me.

When this scripture was tied to the thought that prayers don’t need to be ‘laundry lists’ of names and events and needs and hopes and that the best prayers are little more than simply being present with God, in every breath, and allowing the Spirit to pray in me, I was rocked!  What a relief!

There are so many things that are in my heart regarding the people I love and the world we live in.  I worried I was leaving someone or something out.  What a blessing to know God hears my petitions with every beat of my heart, with every breath I take no matter where I am. We are a living prayer.

Published in God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, September 2017

The Peace of God

And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

I'm sitting here, looking at my sweet, confused right-now-very-angry mother and wondering at the twists and turns that life throws us all at any given moment. She's safe. She's well cared for. She's actually relatively healthy, but life has thrown her and everyone who cares for her the regrettable twist of dementia that keeps her constantly lost in time and space. And often scared and angry. 

Who can blame her?

My heart consistently breaks for this once-competent, independent woman who now depends on the kindness of everyday strangers to do everything for her. And other than loving her and trying to be her memory and her one unchanging constant, there isn't one thing I can do to change her situation. 

And to be unhappy about things I can't change is as pointless as being unhappy about the things I can. 

So. I continue to pray for that peace that transcends understanding, continue to be constantly grateful for loving caretakers and friends, and sit here thankful that I still have this remarkable woman in my life teaching me lessons of faith and grace and love. 

Always love. 

Published in God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, May 2017

Love Never Fails

I Corinthians 4-8  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about love lately.  Partly because that’s what I think about a lot, anyway.  But mostly because of the contentiousness that is in the air and has been for months.  

And, I guess to be frank, I’ve been noticing and feeling a lot more of the opposite of love.  It looks and sounds like hate, but I think it’s really just fear in disguise.  

Fear of change.  Fear of things and people that are different than we are.  Fear of losing a way of living, working, playing and even worshiping. Fear of what might happen with the coming new year, whether close to home or reaching out to the country and the world.  

it’s really easy to be afraid.

And then today during a service dedicated to love and the inevitable loss that comes with life, I’m reminded of the beautiful words that talk about what love is.  And isn’t.  And I’m called to remember that my faith statement is just this simple.  I believe in love. 

Because Love Never Fails.    

Published for God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, November 2016

The Promise is Peace

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.

So, so many things to be troubled about in the world swirling around us from Nice to Dallas to Baton Rouge to our own homes.  Senseless acts of violence, tragic accidents.  It is so very difficult, sometimes, to not let a heart be broken - crushed even - with the events that come crashing down around us seemingly every day.

And.  The promise is peace.  The promise is that love conquers all.  The promise is that, although every day along with the exquisitely beautiful, when the world gives us the very bitterest of lemons, with the right frame of mind sweetness can come.  

Peace can come.

And it starts right here, in me, with my heart.  I ask for peace. I pray for peace. And the only way to make it happen is to be that peace. 

Oh, Lord of love, abide in me.  Guide my every word and act and step.  May I be an instrument of your peace here, now, with every being I encounter.  And with you, I will not be afraid.  I will live this life out loud, on purpose and in love.   

Published for God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, July 2016


You surround me on all sides and hold your protecting hand over me. ~ Psalm 139:5

This has been a hard year for my family.  I am certainly not the only one who’s had a tough year; others have gone through so much more with grace and aplomb and are true inspirations to me, reminding me to remember my blessings.  

And blessings do abound amongst the turmoil.  What I am most touched by are the appearance of angels surrounding me on all sides, lifting me up and holding my heart gently in theirs.  I have felt lifted, protected, loved, safe.

Those angels are sitting here in these pews and on that raised platform in front and in the choir loft.  They are listed on my ‘Friends’ list on Facebook.  They are in the aisles of the grocery store.  Those angels are everywhere.  

With those angels surrounding me, I can face anything.  With God protecting me from all sides I know that all shall be well. 

Published for God in the Life of Our Members, November 2015

Living Love

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth  John 3:18

I have been involved with The Mystics, a small group in our church, that has met over the past 3 years studying various Christian Mystics.  We have marvelous and in depth conversations about topics that touch very close to my heart and make me ponder deeply big issues.

Recently we talked about the overuse of the word ‘love’ in our culture. I am guilty of that overuse.  I use the word ‘love’ a lot.  I know that I love my children my family and my friends. I love my church and my country.  But do I love my house or my home?  My car, or the safety I feel driving it?  A movie, or the way it makes me think or feel or even act differently?

I believe that it is in action that our words of love are proved true and meaningful.  If I say that I love someone, but then speak unkindly to or of them, then I am not acting in love or truth.  My long-time prayer has been to speak my truth with courage, wisdom and love.  

My new prayer is to LIVE love with courage and wisdom and truth.

Published for God in the Life of Our Members, February 2016

Blessing and Thanks

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. - Matthew 18:20

This past eight weeks have been the most difficult of my life.  My sweetheart of 33 years died suddenly in our home at the end of May and everything I knew about the world I was living in changed abruptly and permanently.  My heart was shattered. I will be collecting those pieces for years to come.

In the midst of these worst of days, though, we have been blessed beyond imagining with people who gathered to lift us up, let us cry, feed us (and all the people that congregated), send cards, bring flowers, wash dishes, mow the lawn and even feed the birds. 

Throughout it all, I am continually reminded that truly, when two or more are gathered in His name (which in my opinion always means ‘love’) He is always there. This congregation of friends have proven those words to be true. 

Although I may now be alone, I know I will never be lonely. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Published for God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, July 2015

Speaking Truth in Love

Speak the truth in love.  Ephesians 4:3

To speak my truth with courage, wisdom and love has been my personal prayer for years.  I always considered it a sneaky ‘two-fer’ prayer because in order to SPEAK my truth, it was necessary for me to KNOW my truth.  

It sounds like such a simple thing; knowing my truth.  I was raised by my parents, church and school to respect the rules and traditions of my family, community, church and country.  I crossed my heart and pledged my allegiance to those lessons.

As I grew I began to question some of those teachings.  Were some of them misinformed or flawed?  Or maybe just wrong?!  Just as I was taught that kindness and respect were keys to a happy life, I was taught to fear the unknown and avoid risk. I’m still sorting through my lessons on love and relationships.

I recently read something that has been helping me with this life-long quest for truth.  ‘Say your truth - kindly, but fully and completely.  Live your truth, gently but totally and consistently.  Change your truth easily and quickly when your experience brings you new clarity.’

And so, Ruth continues to learn.  And pray.  And grow.

Published as God in the Life of Our Members for Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, March 2015

Everything Fits

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

I suppose in every time since the beginning people have wondered ‘what is this world coming to’?  In the turning of these last 4 seasons - I have buried a brother, uprooted a mother, closed down a home, wept for a baby born with little chance of survival, prayed with a friend dealing with cancer, and watched as the world appears to be imploding with violence as a result of ages-old hatred.  Living hurts.

I have also celebrated a son living his dream, hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon living mine, spent a year closer to my mom than I have been in 40, laughed until my stomach hurt with friends, sung and danced with little ones at VBS, and held that precious baby who seems to be beating the odds.  Life is wonderful!

My mentor reminds me constantly that ‘everything fits’, which sounds harsh in the face of sorrow.  She also reminds me to ask ‘what am I contributing?’ in any given situation.  And I am reminded that there is a reason, a season and a time for everything.  May my contribution in everything be loving.

Published for God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, July 2014

This Little Light

Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:16

Once upon a time, not that long ago, I was a Sunday School teacher for the 3 and 4-year-old class at my church.  The story one Sunday was ‘let your light shine’. We made candles out of toilet paper rolls and coffee filters and sang ‘This Little Light of Mine’. The children love this song, as children have done for ages.

The Jubillaires, a group of dedicated folks who sings for nursing homes and retirement communities in the area I live,  also was singing ‘this little light’ for the residents of the communities we visited.  Most of the residents sing with us, pointing their ‘candles’ in the air and circling them around, just as they did when they were children. 

Such a lovely lesson taught to encourage me to be everything I can be, helping others and demonstrating the love of God. Why am I, then, sometimes afraid to serve?  To put myself out for others?  To think ‘who am I?’ 

As Marianne Williamson famously wrote, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I read her words and remind myself “You are the light of the world.” ~ Matthew 5:14 and “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” ~ Phillipians 4:13

And, then, I remember to say ‘yes’.

Published in God in the Life of Our Members, Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, February 2014