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Changes PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:12

under-constructionGimpy by Grace is undergoing some exciting revisions and will be out of commission temporarily.


I am excited about the changes we are making. Let me give you a quick preview:

under-construction1

FIRST - We have a new vision for this website. It is becoming a place  for sharing what it means to be Real about Faith.... The conversation begins this way (fill in your own blank) : It's all fun and games - until somebody looses a ____________.... Then it is time to get Real about Faith


SECOND - I have invited different voices to speak to the issue of faith in the midst of personal challenges and brokenness. I am excited to share this platform with others who "get" what it means to be Real about Faith. These folks are friends I have met along my journey and their life experiences have inspired me and given me perspective for my own life. I pray they are the same gift to you.


under-construction3THIRD - I will continue to contribute blogs to this site. I love it when you let me know what you think about our work here - so please stay in touch.
FINALLY - I will be placing the majority of the information about my professional life - speaking, teaching, preaching - on my personal site: www.paulasturgeon.com. It would be quite all right with me if you bookmark both sites. See you soon......


Paula


roseUntil then - here's a question - what's the significance of the rose on the site..............You will have to wait and see.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 19:26
 
On The Road Again PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 15:45

Hello my friends. I haven't been blogging because I've been finishing the book. Perhaps it's my 54-year-old brain which keeps me from being able to write two different things at once - I guess that says good a reason as any. I enjoy writing this blog and hope to be in regular communication with you through it now that the book is safely in the hands of my editors

.

Since I've been away from the blog I have had some really spectacular experiences. One, was a trip to Minnesota to be with the young people of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove. It is always fun for me to travel to the ‘Lutheran Homeland' and see big churches in action. On the Sunday that I was there, 176 fifth-graders took their first communion. My home parish doesn't even worship 176 people on any given Sunday! It is just awesome to see that many children and families in worship. That evening I spoke with their C3 group. These are folks in the process of preparing to affirm their faith. I was invited to be a part of Sunday Night Festival. This meant that I could share time with Peder Eide, one of my favorite Christian musicians.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how God is able to use the story of a 54-year-old amputee to speak powerfully to middle school aged folks. The story of God's grace and the power of knowing that Jesus walks with us through all life's challenges transcends age. Their interest and enthusiasm was refreshing. If we could somehow bottled their energy I would sign up for cases at a time.

 

img2Peder saying his beautiful song "Be Like You" which always moves me. The song is a prayerful plea to our Lord to help us live a Christ-like life. Peder's lyrics are so moving and include this, perhaps my favorite line: ‘...to be a friend with compassion, a servant with passion...'. The young people in our audience are generally unable to articulate their life plan at this age. Rightly so. And yet, Peter through song and I threw the sharing of my story hoped to reinforce the faith basics of our lives. Compassion/love and passionate service to God enable us to live a joyful and complete life.

 

Hey, do me a favor, and check out Peder's website: www.pedereide.com . His music is wonderful and his love of Jesus is powerful. By a CD while you're at it.

 

Until next time,

Paula

Still Gimpy By Grace - and - Well in the Lord.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 15:52
 
WHY ARE YOU CHURCH? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 March 2010 09:02

This question has been buzzing around my head for quite some time. It is a question which I occasionally want to ask of other people.

 

It starts like this: I find myself in conversation with one or more folks who are, shall we say, expressing a certain level of disagreement with something or someone in the church. Complaining ranges from the most mundane issues of church life to some of the most intensely held religious beliefs.

 

Arguing whether worship should begin at 9:00 or 9:30 inevitably is rooted in something completely outside of the faith community. Something like brunch. But that doesn't mean that the argument is any less passionate. Then, there are the other typical worship-related things like music. I don't think there is a parish on earth where there hasn't been at least one complaint about the music. From volume to style, music stirs our passions and forms the basis of our disagreements.

 

Then there are the ‘biggies'. Things like the ordination of women, the proper age for receiving the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and the allowance for openly gay persons to serve in the ordained ministry. These are issues which seem so close to the heart of our faith. Scripture is used to define arguments on all sides.

 

As I type this list I realize some of these issues have been ‘settled' for us in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for quite some time. I wasn't even a Lutheran when ordained ministry was opened to women! I also know from my travels that Holy Communion practices regarding age are different among Lutheran (ELCA) parishes.

 

And now, the issues related to the ordination and call of gay persons in committed relationships have brought more discussion and disagreement.

 

I DO NOT INTEND TO ARGUE ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER OF THIS ISSUE! IT IS NOT THE POINT OF THIS BLOG POSTING. As a member of the ELCA this issue is settled church polity and I proceed accordingly.

 

My question to everyone - whether your argument is on the small stuff or the big stuff - Why are you church? Why are you here? We spend an inordinate amount of time arguing over that which divides us rather than on acknowledging, celebrating and building upon that which unites us.

 

If you are ‘at' church for the worship and music you miss the real joy of it all. And furthermore you will never be fully filled and satisfied. If the ‘biggie' issues bother you find a place where they won't. One of the beauties of Christianity is that there are a variety of expressions, perhaps you will find one you like.

 

Why am I church? JESUS!!!!! - I am not cursing, I am stating the obvious reason I am and we are church! His great love for me - and His entire creation brings meaning and purpose to my life.

 

What could we accomplish if we did everything in pursuit of His mandate to us? I read that mandate from Matthew and Mark - to go into the world and preach the good news to all creation.

 

I could go on and on - there is so much to talk about on this subject. Perhaps another time. I gotta go be church.....

 

Paula

Still Gimpy by Grace ... And ... Well in the Lord


 
Blogging from Bed PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 February 2010 10:09

Forty plus major surgeries and I am completely leveled by an Upper Respiratory Infection. For two weeks I have been either in bed or out in the world infecting others. It has not been a pretty sight.

I have moaned and pleaded “Oh Lord, help me” more often than I am comfortable admitting. There is a part of me that is certain that our sweet Lord is saying something like: ‘Knock it off - it is just a giant head cold’. I have so many more important things which require my attention.  Oh and by the way - so do you!’

So I am wondering - why we are so readily drawn into complaining about the relatively little things of our lives? I have known people who have dealt with tremendous challenges with a sense of determination, resolution, even with a smile. And I have known others who have, on the whole, great lives and complain mightily about the smallest stuff. I wonder what it is in each of us that leads to such disparate reactions.

I know this past week I have fallen into that second group.  I will also confess that I, am not much fun to be around when I do. Sometimes I feel that since I handle the big stuff of my life with a generally positive attitude I shouldn’t have to handle the small stuff.  Yikes - there’s a serious glimpse into my all too human persona.

Why should I have to deal with a head cold? I have an arthritic body - why should I have to deal with any more than that?

Enough flailing.  My head is today clear enough to answer these questions. The answer is simple and direct.  Why not?  Our health - to whatever degree we have it - is just a part of our human condition. Be it a head cold (thankfully) or something serious like cancer, sickness is a reality in our lives.  Every bit as much as health. Yes there are things we can do to care for our bodies but at some point they all break down.  They weren’t made to last forever in this state.

But here is my original question - why is it easier to handle the big stuff than it is to handle the small stuff?  This answer is actually just as simple.  In times of great stress, like major illness or injury, we SEEK God. We LEAN on God. We are AWARE that with God we are not alone.

We SEEK God for comfort and strength that otherwise seems beyond our reach. We SEEK Him for understanding and assurance.

We LEAN on God because we are aware that we cannot stand alone. We LEAN into the comfort of His embrace, when there is no other comfort to be found.

And when we are AWARE of God’s presence, we journey forth in the company of an everlasting loving which sustains us.  We face nothing alone, for He is with us.

Today I am grateful that the virus is on its way into oblivion and that I am breathing much easier.  I have given up on over-the-counter remedies and turned toward the Great Physician - who has promised me the same love - in big and little stuff!

Continuing to heal...

Paula

 
RAINY DAY LETTERS PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 28 January 2010 22:42
It has rained on and off, for nearly a week in Arizona. We have had rainfall equal to the amount we would normally get in an entire year. So, the idea of a rainy day has been at the front of my mind.

Years ago (many years ago) I attended a series of personal development seminars. It was during a time of searching, of seeking answers for and direction in my life. It was during the days that I didn’t think that ‘church’ had any answers for me. Silly as that seems now, I’m grateful for all the experiences that have brought me to this place in my life.

It was during the final morning of one of the retreats I attended that we entered to find our breakfast tables set in a large open square. We took our seats and after our meal was finished the retreat leader called our attention to the neatly wrapped set of note cards and large envelope with our name printed on it at each of our places. There was also a single piece of stationery and matching envelope, again with our name printed on it. The leader instructed us to open the note cards and (in silence) write a brief note of affirmation to each of the participants. It was a delightful exercise to say something “nice” to everyone. And, I actually was astonished at how easy it was to do so, even for those people whom I didn’t actually enjoy.  (Come on - only Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like) When finished we delivered them to each other’s large envelopes. It was reminiscent of childhood Valentines Day school parties -  only better -  because EVERYONE - got something!!

Then we were instructed to take our piece of stationery and write one more note of affirmation. Smugly, I was certain this note was to go to our ‘buddies’ for the weekend. Not so. This was to be a note to ourselves - YIKES. We were told to write only the good stuff we had learned or realized about ourselves over the retreat weekend. We may have come to decisions about changes to be made in our lives but, those were not to be a part of our “note to self”. Rather, we were to focus solely on the positive.

Amazingly this was a much more challenging task than the other notes had been. It seemed almost silly to write a note to myself, particularly when the retreat leader suggested that this be a “love note to self”. Why was it easier to write nice things to other people? Why is it easier to tell someone else that you love them and not to say those same words to the person I see in the mirror?

Like it or not, that was the instruction and I could at least mellow myself with being compliant. So I began to write, and too weep. I was not the only one. This was an emotional task for everyone!

When our note was completed we were instructed to put it into the small envelope. Then we were to place a small envelope into the larger one with our other notes and seal it shut.

WAIT - WAIT - WAIT. I want to read what other people said about me. I like to hear/read nice things.

Then came our final instruction: put this envelope in a safe place. Knowing that it contains messages of love -  leave it stored until -  you have a ‘rainy day’ and need them.

Rainy days don’t always involve precipitation. The emotional blues may come when the sky is perfectly clear. No matter our joy, clarity or personal strength, there may be a point of personal struggle or low. On these kinds of rainy days we were invited to open our envelopes and read affirmations. They just might be the gift we need at the moment.

I still have one envelope (I attended  retreat twice). A couple of days ago, when the weatherman said “it’s another rainy day” I thought about that envelope for the first time in a long time. And I smiled.

That’s a long story to bring me to this point: the Bible has been called a love letter from God to His people. A love letter for us to open, read and cherish. Every day, whether it is a “good” day or a “bad” one, the love letter is available to us. Open it and revel in it. Wrestle with the tough parts, it’s okay! God can handle it. Cherish the words that comfort you, then cherish even more those which inspire and compel you forward in God’s name. Let God’s Holy Spirit direct you and illuminate His word.

It’s just a little like a rainy day letter -  just not kept in a drawer unopened. And, if that’s where you find your Bible now - then get it out!

Loving life and living in the word,

Paula
Still Gimpy by Grace ... And ... Well in the Lord
 
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