Worship at Old Stone Well Farm

Featured

How did it get to be Nov. 1 already? But here we are. Today, we honor the saints in our lives, and I share a story of one particular saint who instilled in me faith in God.

Who is/was the saint in your life who inspired, encouraged, modeled trust in God? I would love to hear your saint stories.

Email me at accidentalcountrypastor@gmail.com.

Let us now prepare for worship! Blessings, Pastor Donna

Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I Believe

One of my favorite Christmas movies is “Miracle on 34th Street.” Not the remake or the colorized version, but the original 1947 classic starring a young Natalie Wood and an oh-so elegant Maureen O’Hara.

I love the movie for so many reasons.

Nostalgia is one of them. I used to watch it on an old TV complete with rabbit ears with my grandmother when staying at her house for one of my special “overnight with grandma” visits.

But the real reason I love the movie is because of its urging for us all to believe. Believe in the unbelievable. Believe when the world around you is saying your beliefs are unrealistic. Believe. Period.

There is one particular scene that has made an impression on me for all these years. It’s the one where little Natalie Wood is disappointed with her Christmas presents. Her doll just wasn’t enough. What she wanted was a house. A real one. Not a dollhouse. She wanted a house that she could call “home.”

So she sits in the back of the car feeling glum and she keeps whispering, “I believe. I believe. Yes. I believe.” She is saying it half-heartedly, but at least she is still saying it.

I have been in her shoes many times in life. Trying to hold on to belief when it seemed as if God just wasn’t listening to the desires of my heart. But I held on. I held on to God’s word that never will He leave me or forsake me. I held on to the belief that God knew the plans for my future.

I believe. I believe. Yes, I believe.

I dreamt of living in Manhattan and becoming a fashion editor.

I believe. I believe. Yes, I believe.

After challenges and moments when it looked as if I would never have a coveted “212” area code, it happened. And you are never going to guess where my first studio apartment was. It was on 34th Street.

The two Christmases I lived there, I would stare at the street sign on my way home from work at the magazine and stare at the “34th St.” and whisper to heaven, “I believe. Yes, I believe.”

Years went by and a soaring magazine career followed by a move cross-town to a one-bedroom apartment was not what I thought it would be. Something was tugging at my heart. Ministry. What? Yes, ministry. How was I to go to seminary, pay my bills, live? I believe.

I believe. Yes, I believe.

Years later, a theological degree was in my hand and a call to serve in rural Upstate New York was accepted. A few more years later, I met the love of my life after years of loneliness. And one Christmas Eve, as I looked around at the little white church I was serving, husband sitting in the pew, I realized I found what I was always searching for. Life lived authentically. Hugs followed worship, many coming with gifts such as molasses cookies and Coach Perry’s famous egg bake attached to them.

I believe. I believe. Yes, I believe.

But then New Year’s Eve last year, after twists and turns in my life that led me to serving a church in Maryland, I found myself once again doing my best Natalie Wood.

I was glum. I was sad. I was wondering why God wasn’t hearing my desire to return home to Vermont. To return to being the accidental country pastor I had failed to treasure as much as I should have.

I believe. I believe. Yes, I believe.

But how God? How was I to find my way home? When? How long? Are you even there listening to me God?

I believe. I believe. Yes, I believe…

in God who is merciful and mighty.

I believe in God who is always leading us.

I believe. I believe. Yes, I believe.

It’s New Year’s Eve once again. I am sitting in the living room of my 18th century home in Vermont. I am back home. And I am beyond thankful. I am beyond grateful.

img_3666

The ornament I received from my mother-in-law this Christmas. It says it all. Believe!

The Vermont snow has fallen down on me like celebratory graffiti. The cows have moo’ed a chorus of “hallelujahs!” The morning sun coming up over the mountains have shone a spotlight onto my heart overflowing with love. Hugs have been received. Warm molasses cookies have been eaten. And Coach Perry’s famous egg bake has once again graced my breakfast table this Christmas morning.

My friends, we are meant to believe and never give up believing. We are meant to hold on to our belief in a great, big, loving God. We are meant to hold on to hope when all hope seems gone. We are meant to follow our hearts. We are meant to live authentically.

A new year is about to be here. And I am home. How, when, why? Not quite sure. But I am home. There are no half-hearted “I believes” this year. Rather my “I believes” are declarative statements coming from a heart that has experienced for itself the truth that grace is not earned. Grace is indeed an unexpected and undeserved gift that God gives just because God loves us so much.

So keep on believing. For God is real. God does hear. God is always in your lives leading you, nudging you, pushing you, shoving you towards the path that is the best for you.

Will you believe?  Really believe?

A New Year Blessing

Believe…

For the Light is now in the world.

Believe…

For Love is born in each of us.

Believe…

For the manger is full.

Emmanuel, God with us, is here for us.

Go and believe…

it is as the prophets said.

And may the blessing of God be with you this day and forevermore.

The Junk Drawer

God spoke to me the other day.

Nope. I wasn’t standing on some mountaintop. Nor was I lying prostrate on the floor. I wasn’t even kneeling in the quiet of a church sanctuary. There were no candles flickering nor Gregorian chanting in the background setting the stage in which to hear the Divine One speak. There was nothing holy going on at all when God spoke to me…in my kitchen, while I was standing in front of the junk drawer.

You know the junk drawer. That drawer filled with items you don’t want to throw away because, hey, you just never know when you might need that lone screw that came from something you have yet to discovered is wobbly and missing a screw. And I wonder if that piece of candy is still good to eat?

God spoke to me the other day. In my kitchen at the junk drawer where squished and hidden in the back corner of the drawer I found a relic from a vacation bible school from years gone by.It was rubber bracelet with the message “Watch for God.”

Every year at vacation bible school, the program chosen for the children gave the option of ordering these bracelets. I was always supportive of spending the extra money on them because the message to watch for God was one I really wanted the children to be constantly reminded of.

The kids loved the bracelets and even after vacation bible school had faded into their memories, I would spot the children out and about on the football field, practicing the latest cheers, kicking a soccer ball, heading to school with backpacks burdening their little backs, wearing their “Watch for God” bracelets. Every now and then a child would see me and pause to wave, pointing at their bracelet before giving me a thumbs up. I would return the thumbs up with a huge smile on my face.

Yes, keep on watching for the God moments are all around. I once believed that. I probably still do. It just seems lately I feel my eyes are out of focused. It seems lately I can’t seem to see how beautiful life can be. I’m not talking about watching for the beauty on the surface of things. I’m talking about how I have forgotten to watch for the beauty in the midst of the ugly. Watch for the answers in the midst of tough questions. Watch for the strength to come in the moments of incredible weakness. Watch for God’s promise to take my measly loaf and fish and multiply them into a fulfilling feast. Watch for God to take hardened hearts and break them open.

Watch…for…God…I slipped the bracelet on my wrist. Thank goodness for junk drawers. For God spoke to me the other day. In  my kitchen. From the junk drawer.

God told me to watch. Watch for greater things are yet to come. img_2727-1