Lent 5 – Tuesday – Counting Stitches

Knitting Idea:  Check out my Irish Mesh!  Last day.  Tomorrow we move on!

Pattern

Skill: easy
Multiple of 3 sts.  Since this pattern has a multiple of 3 stitches, I increased my seed stitch border to 6 stitches on each end which left 36 stitches in the middle to work the Irish mesh stitch.  I am working with 48 stitches.

Flat

Row 1 (RS): work 6 stitches in seed stitch k2, *yo, sl 1, k2, psso; rep from * to the last st, k1 work six Stitches in seed stitch.
Row 2: 6 stitches in seed stitch purl 36 and last six stitches in seed stitch.
Row 3: Work six stitches in seed stitch, k1, *sl 1, k2, psso, yo; rep from * to the last 2 sts, k2 then work six stitches in seed stitch.
Row 4: same as row 2

For pattern and video help go here.

Reflection:

Today I counted my stitches and I was missing two.  So I counted them again and again and again.  I kept getting 46 instead of 48 and I find it fascinating that my solution to this problem was to just count the stitches again hoping that I was wrong the other three times.  Have you ever done this?  I think it’s called magical thinking.  If I just keep counting them over and over, the other two stitches will appear.  Part of my denial is not being able to believe I have made some kind of mistake.  How could I make a mistake?

Breaking through denial to believe something we don’t want to believe is very difficult.  It takes some kind of crisis to break us out of living in a reality that is not real (like not have enough stitches to follow your pattern of choice).  We realize something is missing.

I’m talking about what I referenced in another post – what a friend of mine calls the “God Hole”.  We can walk through life thinking we can fill the longing we have in our hearts with something else, just the right person, the right house, the right car, the right vacation, the right child, grandchild, etc. until after multiple tries we realize something is missing.  But like the missing two stitches – we can add them back in, we can do any method of increases and one will never know that the seed stitch edges lost a stitch or two for a few rows because we are now back on track.

Filling the hole in our hearts with God happens when we pursue our relationship with God on a daily basis.  God is always reaching out to us, that little voice that tells us to pray, to read a devotional, to listen to scripture, to take time for gratitude, to knit in silence or whatever spiritual practice is your way to God.

In lent, we have made a commitment to walk the road of daily knitting and prayer.  What happens after Easter?  At the retreat, we will explore how our spiritual practice has gone through lent and figure out what kind of spiritual practice we will commit to during the Easter season.  We will do a series of exercises and some sharing to help us with next steps.  If you can’t make the retreat, I’ll post these exercises on Monday.

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Retreat this Saturday! Information HERE.

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Please RSVP by emailing Julie.

Retreat

9:00 – 9:30  Gather, refreshments and coffee

9:30  Presentation and time for reflection

10:00 Sharing

10:45 Break

11:00 Creating future Spiritual Practice

12:00 Finish!

Location:  1245 Culver Road.  Parking is available in front of the church on both sides of Culver Road.  Parking is also available on Rosewood Terrace (north side of the church) and Hazelwood Terrace.  Make sure you adhere to the parking signs.

Enter Church through the Big Red doors in the front.  Be prepared for some steps! If you have a problem with steps, let me know via email and we can help you enter through a different door.

BRING YOUR PROJECTS and any other knitting.  KNITTING is encouraged at all times!

Lent 5 – Monday – Creating patterns

Knitting idea: Another iteration of Irish moss sttich

Pattern

Skill: easy
Multiple of 3 sts.  Since this pattern has a multiple of 3 stitches, I increased my seed stitch border to 6 stitches on each end which left 36 stitches in the middle to work the Irish mesh stitch.  I am working with 48 stitches.

Flat

Row 1 (RS): work 6 stitches in seed stitch k2, *yo, sl 1, k2, psso; rep from * to the last st, k1 work six Stitches in seed stitch.
Row 2: 6 stitches in seed stitch purl 36 and last six stitches in seed stitch.
Row 3: Work six stitches in seed stitch, k1, *sl 1, k2, psso, yo; rep from * to the last 2 sts, k2 then work six stitches in seed stitch.
Row 4: same as row 2

For pattern and video help go here.

Reflection:

I had a guitar teacher tell me once that practicing 10 minutes every day for six days was way better than practicing for 60 minutes on one day.  Creating patterns is about consistency.  With knitting, it’s about following the directions.  I find that if I continue to repeat a pattern pretty soon I don’t need the directions.  When I was younger, I knit quite a few fishermen knit sweaters.  One had a 24 row pattern repeat and since I spent every night knitting this sweater ( I was working the 11pm – 7am shift at a nursing home) I eventually memorized the 24 rows and could knit without the directions in my lap.  I put the sweater down for a while and when I got back to it, I had to use the directions.

Creating patterns is about consistency.  It’s about a daily practice.  Nothing changes without the consistency.  It’s the consistent avoidance of the cookies, the consistent attendance at the gym or the walk or the exercise class and it’s the consistent practice of prayer that causes transformation.

Praying one minute a day is better than sitting down for seven minutes once a week.  It’s more about the consistency than the amount of time.  Even praying one minute a day is enough to remind us of God’s presence is our lives.

When our son deployed over seas I told him to pray every morning that God would help him make the right decisions that day.  His decisions could be life or death decisions.

Imagine if we prayed everyday for guidance.  The Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful prayer for Guidance.

“Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being:  We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our lord.  Amen.”  BCP 100

 

Lent 4 – Saturday – St. Patrick and Evangelism

Knitting Idea: Irish Moss Stitch (I couldn’t resist!  It’s St. Patrick’s day!)

Pattern

Skill: easy
Multiple of 3 sts.  Since this pattern has a multiple of 3 stitches, I increased my seed stitch border to 6 stitches on each end which left 36 stitches in the middle to work the Irish mesh stitch.  I am working with 48 stitches.

Flat

Row 1 (RS): work 6 stitches in seed stitch k2, *yo, sl 1, k2, psso; rep from * to the last st, k1 work six Stitches in seed stitch.
Row 2: 6 stitches in seed stitch purl 36 and last six stitches in seed stitch.
Row 3: Work six stitches in seed stitch, k1, *sl 1, k2, psso, yo; rep from * to the last 2 sts, k2 then work six stitches in seed stitch.
Row 4: same as row 2

For pattern and video help go here.

Reflection:

St. Patrick’s day.  Below is a summary of who St. Patrick was:

Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from the Declaration, which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. According to the Declaration, at the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland.[13] It says that he spent six years there working as a shepherd and that during this time he “found God”. The Declarationsays that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelising in the northern half of Ireland and converted “thousands”. Patrick’s efforts against the druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland (Ireland never had any snakes).
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.

St. Patrick was an evangelist.  That’s my title as well although I haven’t been able to convert thousands!!!  Maybe I should use the shamrock to explain the trinity?  We’ve been down that road all ready.

How to do evangelism:

Practice the love of God in everything.  The Benedictines consider their work a prayer.  Everything the monks and nuns do is for the glory of God.  Getting someone a cup of hot coffee can be a sacramental moment (an outward expression of the love of God).  Sitting and listening.  Providing hospitality and food.  Creating beauty.

Proclaim it:  My grandmother took me to the communion rail at a very young age and whispered in my ear that God loves me very much.  I believed her.  I knew she loved me very much and I equated her love for me with God’s love for me.  As an adult, I realize what a gift she gave me.  The more I read the gospels, the more I realize the love God has for all of us.  The stories of Jesus have penetrated my heart and changed me.  My response to understanding the love of God for all people is to tell everyone that they are loved.

Picture it:  I envision a world where people know they are loved by God, experience the abundance of God’s creation and are able to participate in a community that accepts and encourages people to become their best selves.  The first step is to imagine what this might look like and then to work step by step to make it so.

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Lent 4 – Friday – Spiritual but not religious

Knitting Idea:  Moss Stitch one more day.  Tomorrow an Irish stitch!

Keep seed stitch border.

Moss stitch is an elongated version of seed stitch. Instead of alternating the pattern every row (as you do for seed stitch), for moss stitch, you work 2 rows of the same sequence of knits and purls before you alternate them.

Row 1: Seed Stitch for first four stitches, then k1, p1 to last four stitches seed stitch.

Row  2:  Seed Stitch for first four stitches, then knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches until the last four stitches – seed stitch.

Row 3:  Seed Stitch for first four stitches, then purl the knit stitches and knit the purl stitches until last four stitches – seed stitch

Row 4:  Repeat row 2.

Video directions are here. (they use an odd number of stitches and I’m using an even number.  As long as you know how to recognize a knit or purl stitch you’ll be fine! If you’re not sure how to tell the difference, this video will help.  Go here.

Reflection:

When people tell me they are spiritual but not religious, I have to dig a little deeper to figure out what this really means.  Usually it means they are not members of a church because their experience of church has not been life giving to say the least.  I just meant a woman who tried to attend a church service when she was out of town with her dying mother on a high holy day and the church refused to let them come in because they weren’t members.  Where is the compassion?  Who makes up such rules?

The church is not perfect.  It’s made up of imperfect human beings.  One of my sons attends a nondenominational church in the south.  I asked him if he agrees with the theology and he said “sometimes you have to chew up the straw and spit out the sticks”. He’s looking for community, friendship and a place to take his 10 month old daughter to learn about the love of God.  I wonder, how big are the sticks?

I am both spiritual and religious and I found the right church.  We are not perfect but we recognize our limitations and do the best we can to proclaim the love of God.  We do it through vegetables.  Our gardens are an outward expression or our spirituality and the church is our religion.  We are slowing bringing the two together.

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The building on the right is the church.  The gardens on the left show the abundance of God’s love.  We worship in this garden and we find peace, inspiration, and love.

We just got a grant from Food link to start another garden on two adjacent city lots deep into the Beechwood neighborhood.  We hope to put a shed on these lots and we will be praying and worshiping at this new site.  It’s hard to believe that I’m so excited about a 12 foot by 24 foot shed when we have this HUGE sanctuary.  I’m excited because I believe that we have found the intersection of spirituality and religion.  Our small band of radical gardeners can now proclaim to our neighbors, as we gather in the midst of them, not in a huge forbidding looking building but in a lush garden, the love of God in word and in deed, one tomato at a time.

 

Lent 4 – Thursday – What’s underneath?

Knitting Idea:  Moss Stitch

Keep seed stitch border.

Moss stitch is an elongated version of seed stitch. Instead of alternating the pattern every row (as you do for seed stitch), for moss stitch, you work 2 rows of the same sequence of knits and purls before you alternate them.

Row 1: Seed Stitch for first four stitches, then k1, p1 to last four stitches seed stitch.

Row  2:  Seed Stitch for first four stitches, then knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches until the last four stitches – seed stitch.

Row 3:  Seed Stitch for first four stitches, then purl the knit stitches and knit the purl stitches until last four stitches – seed stitch

Row 4:  Repeat row 2.

Video directions are here. (they use an odd number of stitches and I’m using an even number.  As long as you know how to recognize a knit or purl stitch you’ll be fine! If you’re not sure how to tell the difference, this video will help.  Go here.

Reflection:

I went with moss stitch today because I feel the need to create a blanket like fabric.  The outside world is covered with a heavy layer of snow.  White globs like melted frosting hang off the shrubs.  New England is covered with glittering ice.  But underneath the frozen layer there is life.  I looked it up, it’s true.  Early spring bloomers have adapted to this time of year.  These plants are not waiting for the snow to melt.  They are growing.

It is the same with our inner life.  There is much happening underneath our noisy outer exterior but often it remains hidden below the surface.  We have to go below the layer of snow, underneath the water so to speak like we are snorkeling.  We pop below the surface and it is teaming with life, schools of fish, turtles, crabs, and all kinds of creatures.  It is rich with beautiful plants and creatures.  Our inner life has much to give.

Praying daily helps us get below the surface, to go deep into the layer where we can connect with the love of the creator.  I once did a silent retreat where I didn’t talk for 36 hours.  My friends laughed when they heard that I was going to be silent for that long.  They know how much I like to talk and they didn’t think I could do it.  I did it.  What I discovered was the longer I went without talking, the deeper I went into the layers underneath my noisy exterior.  I found a quiet place that was profoundly calming and peaceful.  That peace of understanding that keeps our hearts and minds located in the love of God that we see in Jesus.  After the 36 hours, I was deep into the silence and it took a while for me to even want to talk again.

We need to give ourselves time to find that rejuvenating peace.  It’s within us, under the snow, busy growing the first soon to be flowers of spring.

 

 

 

 

Lent 4 – Wednesday – Seeing Clearly

Knitting Idea:

Same wasp stitch as yesterday with a little more help.  Here are the directions with links to different videos that explain how to do the “twist”.

Keep going with seed stitch border.

Row 1:  *T2R, (Directions for twisting 2 right) T2L, (Directions for knitting a left twist) repeat from *

Row 2:  Purl

Row 3:  *T2L, T2R, repeat from *  NOTE IN ROW 3 THE LEFT TWIST IS FIRST

Row 4: Purl

Reflection:

Read this bible passage and then just spend a few minutes answering these questions:  What does this passage make you think of?  What came up in your mind when you read it?

Mark 8:22-25

22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people* brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’ 24And the man* looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ 25Then Jesus* laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

My thoughts on the passage:  Let me start by stating the obvious.  It takes an effort to see clearly.  I have to confess I don’t remember reading this passage and realizing that Jesus had to lay hands on the blind man twice to help him to see clearly.  In my mind, the miracle was immediate.

I didn’t post any pictures of my own knitting yesterday because I had only done one iteration of the wasp stitch and the picture looked like nothing (see below). IMG_1471

After the second iteration, the pattern was visible.  Interesting.

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What happens when we look beyond the first glance?  Walking trees turn into people.  I’ve been listening to reports lately on implicit bias ( implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.)  One researcher said, implicit bias is like any other habit.  It has to be broken.

I have been conscious lately about how I treat the elderly.  I sometimes treat them more like children than adults mainly because they seem frail.  As I age, I’ve realize that I don’t want to be treated this way so I’m making an effort to engage with people in their nineties like I would anyone else.

There is a woman who is just over 100 years old that I met in Lyons, NY.  She was there in Seneca Falls when women got the vote.  Her name is Mary and she still remembers it.  She lives alone in her house and bakes her own bread.  She has helped me see beyond the trees to the real person.

This gospel passage reminds me to slow down, go beyond the first glance, look to Jesus for a second healing in order to see more clearly and especially see those who have been invisible, those who have been lost among the trees.

What is it that we need to look at more closely?  What is it that we don’t see?

 

 

Lent 4 – Tuesday – Being flexible

Knitting idea:  Wasp Nest Stitch

Directions go here!  These directions are written out with links to video tutorials on how to do  twist 2 right  and a twist 2 left.  For those of you who know all of this the directions are:

Keep going with seed stitch border.

Row 1:  *T2R, T2L, repeat from *

Row 2:  Purl

Row 3:  *T2L, T2R, repeat from *

Row 4: Purl

Reflection:

Have you ever had something all planned and then something else happens and ruins the plan.  What do they say about the best laid plans?  Planning is good and it’s always best to be prepared but life happens and then we are presented with an opportunity to be flexible.  Being flexible can be hard when you want to go back to your lovely plan and when I can’t let go of my plan I usually waste time whining instead of creating something new and different.  I’m stuck in my plan.

These twisted stitches remind me that sometimes it’s just about twisting a few things around to get back on track or going about it just a little bit differently.  These moments can lead to great creativity or a new way of thinking about ordinary things.

I am about to lead a lenten group in a conversation about the Great Vigil of Easter.  My plan was to chant the Exultet, a haunting chant that is sung in the beginning of the service as the light of Christ is brought back into the church and then talk about the light that comes back into our lives after times of darkness.

I can’t sing.  I had an allergy attach when I was down south and despite the steroids I’m taking, I have no voice.

I have to be flexible.  I’m changing my plan.  One possible twist is to play the chant off the internet, another is to just read the ancient words, and another idea hasn’t hit me yet but may hit tomorrow morning.

How often do I lose the potential of experiencing something new or different because I refuse to alter my plan even when I need to?

Life brings little twists, disrupters, and interruptions.  A while back, it was the children, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…  I miss that.   Sometimes we need the interruption.  It takes us out of ourselves and puts us back in the world where we need to be flexible, where we need to twist, we need to create freely and not be stuck.

 

Lent 4 – Monday – putting a line in the sand.

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Knitting idea;

4 Rows of seed stitch.  Continue in your seed stitch pattern and here are directions for seed stitch if you forgot!

  1. Row 1: * K1, p1; rep from * to end of row.
  2. Row 2: * P1, k1; rep from * to end of row.
  3. Rep Rows 1 and 2 for pattern.
 Reflection:
Sometimes in life it is just important to stop and regroup.  Step off the treadmill, take a deep breath and just stop.  I’m not talking about stopping to think.  I’m literally talking about stopping and doing nothing but breathe.  Take some time to just be present to yourself.  We give this gift to others.  We are there for them, we listen, we help, we take action, we sacrifice, and we keep on keeping on with the myriad things of life that need our attention.  It’s important to stop.  It doesn’t have to be for long but it is important for all of us to find time to stop.
Now, take stock.  Ask yourself:  How are you doing?  Self:  Wait what?  You want to know how I’m doing?????  Wow!
Answer:
Question:  Self, what’s really important?
Answer:
The seed stitch is my mark in the sand for this lenten project.  It’s  a demarcation of having crossed beyond the halfway point where I feel the need to stop and look around and ask where am I with this?
Yesterday in the Episcopal Church the Gospel passage was this:

John 3:14-21

14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

I preached about how God so loved the world.  The passage is in the context of God’s great love for the world.

I read a commentary that talked about how the word we translate as “believe” is more of an action rather than an intellectual activity.  So I reread the gospel to the congregation using the word respond instead of believe.

14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever responds to him may have eternal life. 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who responds to him may not perish but may have eternal life.17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Those who respond to him are not condemned; but those who do not respond are condemned already, because they have not responded in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

How do we respond to the awesome love of God?  Where do we see it?  Do we feel it?  It’s always there but sometimes we just have to stop and be present to it.  We are loved, so loved, and all we have to do is accept the love that is available.  Accepting is a response!  It’s hard to believe that we are loved so much.  It took years of a priest telling me that God loves me for me to really “believe” it!  We are loved by God and we need to keep reminding ourselves.  This is the love I keep talking about that we connect to in our prayer.  Stop and feel the love!

My son and his wife just adopted a dog.  The dog had been found on the road and had bounced around in different foster homes.  All of us wondered what this animal would be like.  Four weeks later, after being showered with love, petted, brushed, fed, walked, she has responded in kind with lots of love of her own.  You can see the love and gratitude in her deep brown eyes.

Love begets Love.  Step off and let it wash over you.

 

Lent 3 – Saturday – Refilling the Emotional Tanks!

Knitting Idea:  One last iteration of the slip stitch lace.  Even with the variegated yarn you can see the trinity stitch emerging into the seersucker stitch into the slip stitch lace.

Row 1:  First four stitches seed stitch, then knit until last four stitches.  Seed stitch on last four stitches.

Row 2:  First four stitches seed stitch, then *purl 4 stitches, yarn over (use the purl yarn over) (your yarn is in front ready to purl, just take it up and over the needle and bring it back to the front to be ready to purl again.  There is now a wrap on the needle)

repeat from the * until there are 4 stitches left. 

You need to p the very next stitch and then keep your seed stitch going on the last three stitches.  Trust me on this.  The pattern requires multiple of fours then 1 additional stitch.  Your seed stitch pattern maybe telling you to knit but just purl that stitch!

Row 3:  First three stitches seed stitch, then Knit 1, *drop the yarn over you made in row 2 from the needle, do a new yarn over, then slip the next stitch from the left needle to the right needle like you were going to knit it.  Just slip it on, don’t knit it. Now knit three stitches.  Take the stitch you slipped onto the needle without knitting it and pass it over all three stitches so they are enveloped by it.  Repeat from the * to the last four stitches and do your seed stitch.

Row 4:  First four stitches seed stitch, then purl until last four stitches.  Seed stitch on last four stitches.

Abbreviated Slip Stitch Lace Instructions:

These are the same instruction as the ones above but in an abbreviated form!

Continue seed border on all rows.

Row 1:  Knit all stitches between seed stitch border

Row 2:  *P4,yo: repeat from * to last 4 stitches, P1, seed stitch last 3.

Row 3:  Seed stitch 3 stitches, k1, *drop yo from Row 2, yo, slip 1, k3, psso; repeat from * to last four stitches, seed stitch

Row 4:  Purl all the stitches between the seed stitch border.

Reflection:

Who came up with the idea of lace?  I can imagine that knitting came about because people needed a way of making warm clothing besides slaughtering their animals and using the skins.  Someone came up with the idea of using the wool off a sheep and the first “sweaters” were probably knit to be dense and warm.  Certainly no holes!  There is nothing better than a fisherman’s knit sweater with lots of cables that add an extra layer of warmth knit from wool that still has the smell of the lanolin from the sheep.

So let’s state the obvious.  Lace is not for warmth, lace is for beauty.  We wear something lacy because it is beautiful, light, airy, ethereal, and a wonder to behold.  I love looking at lace.  There was a woman making lace at one of the fiber festivals I went to and I watched her deftly snatching up bobbins and twisting them, pinning them into a pattern that seemed to be made up of spider web thin strands.  It was mesmerizing.  The sight of it filled me up and ignited a feeling of gratitude for her creativity and her burgeoning creation.  She was inspirational.  It’s important to look for moments like this.  Go to places where we will be inspired and filled back up.  Find activities that bring us joy and fulfillment because these are the things that help refill our emotional tanks.

So much of life is demanding.  It takes energy to be kind, loving and generous.  That energy drains out of our tanks faster than we realize and it takes more than a delicious meal and good nights sleep to refresh ourselves.  We need to be intentional about planning some activity that will renew and refresh our energy, help us stay inspired to be who God is call us to be.

One of these activities for me is church.  It’s time to just sit, let the word wash over me and be filled with the body and blood of Christ.  It’s time to be among my community who cares how I am and wonders what I’m up to and contributes to the life of the church.  I’m fortunate I get to be there during the week.  I get to see the people who come by searching for something beyond this world.  Leaving a little better off because someone cared to listen to them.

What is the level in your emotional tanks?  Are you full, half full, running on empty? How do you fill up your emotional tanks?  Just planning something could be fun.