Tending the Soul’s Garden

Tending the Soul’s Garden
The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail. 

Isaiah 58:11

I keep it no secret that although I enjoy gardening, I am no master gardener.  In fact, any plants that go into my back yard are mostly on their own once they go into the dirt. I occasionally water.  I don’t fertilize. I rarely prune & groom. And…my garden looks about like you would expect!

And here’s the deal.  Our faith is very similar. You get what you put into it!

Image result for small flower garden

Nope. This image is definitely NOT from my garden! 🙂 Photo copied from Pinterest.

If we only occasionally attend worship, and especially when we expect or even demand to be entertained or inspired, then chances are we are anticipating a bountiful crop from an untended vine.  What I’ve noticed for myself, too, is that when I walk away disappointed with a particular worship service, I have had to admit that I have been leaning on Sunday mornings to be my only spiritual nourishment.

It’s just not enough.

Experiencing the Holy, noticing Divine synchronicity, feeling spiritually grounded happens when we actively tend to our faith.

This means in addition to attending worship that we commit to a daily spiritual practice like intentional prayer time (not just praying on the fly, which has it’s own value but doesn’t enable a deeper time with the Holy).  We read a devotional each day that offers words of wisdom that may find their way into the day in unexpected ways.  We listen to religious or spiritual music as a wonderful way to nourish the soul and reflect on our faith.  As I’ve written before in the past, even seeking a Holy message in secular music can be satisfying, if not a surprising way to tend to ourselves. And equally important, we spend time with other spiritual sojourners (in a prayer and share group or Bible Study). Often God speaks to us through their witnessing, their prayers, their understanding of scripture. As we receive encouragement and support in our own walk and can, in return, provide the same to others on their own spiritual journey. We grow together!

So…How’s that tending the soul going in your life?  Is your spiritual garden in need of some TLC…some weeding or watering or fertilizing?

What I continue to learn in my work as a hospice chaplain and in my own life, is that when our faith is tended to, when time is being spent in prayer, and study, and fellowship, there is a resiliency, a core strength that grows, enabling us to endure the hardest of times and delight in the best of times.

And with that I say, “Let’s get going!”

Put on those gardening gloves, get into your spiritual garden, and start tending to it.

You will be grateful you did!


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A Fat Slice of Humble Pie

A Fat Slice of Humble Pie

A few times a year, I happily accept the invitation to preach at the church I attend.  Sunday morning a few weeks back, as I put the final touches on my sermon, thrilled with the ease at which it came together and ever so proud of the message, I said a little prayer that God might humble me.

Sermons, after all, shouldn’t be about the messenger.  Being in the pulpit isn’t about showcasing one’s speaking skills, or theological genius, or brilliant word-smithing. Preaching is about fading into the background while bringing to the forefront God’s word for God’s people.

Yet, there I was bubbling with pride as I saved my sermon and prepared to send it, reformatted for easy reading, from my laptop to the home computer for printing.  When the file couldn’t be opened, I figured it was a PC to Apple miscommunication.  When I attempted to open it again on my laptop, however, this is what I got:

corrupt file

Crap. I had just 30 minutes before worship, and here was Microsoft Word apologizing because it found a “problem” with the contents of my sermon.  And more than that, the file was “corrupt.”  I wasn’t expecting prayers to be answered like this!

Funny…very funny, God.  I get it.  Perhaps it was not the file, but my heart, that was problematic? Is that what you’re saying?

Uncertain if I should laugh or cry (I’m pretty sure I did both), I anxiously printed the original file, madly highlighted phrases and circled key words to aid my eyes in tracking, and raced to church with literally a minute to spare.  Thankfully with the overload of adrenaline, there was no room in my heart for self-glorification during worship. Until the end of the service, that is.  I found pride starting to resurface as I walked down the isle during the postlude. Maybe it was the smiles on people’s faces, or the woman who rose from her pew as I passed by, or the gentleman who reached out to shake my hand, but there was pride, taking my heart over again. I was beaming. And as I awaited at the back of the church, ready to receive my endless stream of fans, the unlikely happened.  The fire alarm went off.

Seriously?! The fire alarm? Oh…that’s a good one, God.  Aren’t You clever!  No accolades for me, I see.

It still makes me giggle to recall the sensation of pride rapidly deflating.

Right. This is not about me. Not my message, but Yours, God.  Not my words, but that of the Holy Spirit touching hearts and impressing minds.

With word that all was clear, I made my way down to our fellowship hall for coffee, grateful for the few compliments I did receive.  No sooner did I fill my cup did a favorite parishioner of mine gleefully approach me. “I could listen to you all day long, Rebecca!” Her words, so kind…and heartfelt…and just enough tinder to spark the flame of pride again.

Right in that moment, I kid you not, right then…the fire alarm went off a second time.

Oh, for the love of God! 

Would you just give me a fat slice of that humble pie already? I’m sure it would go great with this cup of coffee!

Friends, when doing God’s work it is never, ever about us.

I feel blessed that in the weeks that followed, similar messages surfaced. We are to do things for God’s glory, not our own.  We are God’s messengers. God’s servants. God’s light in the world.

It’s not about us.

Ironically, my sermon topic that day was about clothing ourselves in the garments God has chosen for us, God’s “holy and dearly loved” people. “…Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…And over all these virtues put on love.” (Colossians 3:12,14).

Eating my fat slice of pie, and drinking coffee, the irony did not escape me.




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Breaking Forth

Breaking Forth

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No Fear

No Fear

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18

635897229513164483-866846937_heartI am not afraid.

I will not let the media frenzy lure me into the cesspool of fear mongering.

Neither will I let my own fears rule my heart and mind in this tumultuous time.


Instead, I choose to be bound by my faith to reach out and build bridges, not erect physical walls and emotional barriers against the Muslim, the Migrant, the Refugee, the Opposing Political Party, the Other.

As a Christian, I am called to love…even my enemies. Even the politicians who condone division and stir up strife, however difficult, I am called to pray for and to love them.  For those with dramatically different views of the world as me, I must, as a Christian, pray for and love them, too. For those who carry out hate crimes or acts of terror…yes…I will lift even them up in prayer and love them. (Luke 6:27-28)

Today and every day, I will step further into my call as a Christian to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8). I will work even harder to forgive others (Colossians 3:13); I will recall that when I show kindness to “the least of these brothers and sisters,” I do so to Christ as well (Matthew 25:31-40). I will strive more and more to rejoice, pray, and be grateful in all times (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  I will put bitterness, anger, and slander aside making “Kindness-Compassion-Forgiveness” my mantra as I make my way through each day, with each soul that comes my way. (Ephesians 4:32)

I will withhold from judgment and remember that it is not mine to carry out. I must consider my own actions or inactions instead (Matthew 7:1-5).  I will trust that no matter how crazy the world appears, assurance rests in my trust in God (Psalm 27:1).

I am a Child of the Most High called to do my part to bring peace, kindness, and civility back into fashion; to show others the profound powers of love and forgiveness to mend the endless divides between individuals, groups, and nations, bringing much needed healing to our fragmented world.

I am a follower of Christ, a believer in the Way, and I am NOT afraid.


(I originally published this March 20. After the recent shooting in Orlando, I felt the need to revisit, revise, and publish it again…)



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