Hope Finds Holiness in Surprising Places

During a recent trip to Fort Scott, Kansas, my friend and I discovered a wonderful coffee shop. Our chai lattes tasted spicy yet mellow, and the missional atmosphere of this shop impressed us.Rev G quote on Ft Scott wall

Their bookshelves were filled with classics and some Christian fiction. I donated the Reverend G books and promised to bring the third book after its release in August.

But we were most interested in the church service advertised for Sunday morning, so we put it on our calendars and showed up along with about 30 other folks of all ages.

I looked around the room and thought, what a wonderful way to attract those who might be curious about faith. A great way to think outside the box!

I was a bit disappointed when we were handed bulletins – not so outside the box – but even churchy habits are hard to break.

The video sermon was taken from Romans. Seriously? Romans? How can you attract seekers with one of Paul’s most verbose books, a treatise even seasoned believers find difficult to understand.

But it soon became apparent that everyone in attendance was a believer or a seasoned church-goer so we discussed righteousness, legalism and how to determine God’s will.

A lovely young woman sang and accompanied herself on an acoustic guitar. We relaxed and enjoyed her melodies, interspersed with whooshes from the espresso machine. It was fun to meet saints from another town who worship the same God and aren’t afraid to welcome strangers.

Then a wonderful surprise greeted us as we left the building. Across the street was a colorful wall with a unique wooden door – Tuscan colors and the rough textures I love. We each took pictures while my creative mind immediately jumped to the questions: What’s on the other side of that door? What kind of novel can I plot with this door and this wall as the main focus?

Hope finds believers in interesting and surprising places all over the world. We so often root ourselves in our comfortable church pews where it’s easy to snooze through our own spirituality.

But when we move outside our comfortable walls and experience church in different settings, we breathe a fresh invite into the family that makes us Christian.

I’m encouraged to find pockets of believers in various places, worshiping in unique ways and spreading the love of Jesus without the confines of traditional walls. The texture and color of different congregants provide a rich setting for the stories we are all writing within our spiritual selves.

I think God must be glad about these creative venues. He is always able to create a new plan even while His attributes remain the same.

And as one of those creative types who yearns for more spiritual experiences outside the norm, I, too, am glad and filled with hope.

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

Shadows of Alzheimer’s

The shadows of the autumn leaves dance across the blinds in my office. I enjoy this extraordinary moment of now. shadows on GW blinds

With the changing of the season, I revel in the colors and textures – reds, oranges, golds – blended with the green leftovers of summer. The crunch of tiny acorns under my walking shoes, a pubescent pine cone that fell too early. Orange pumpkins reign near my almost-gone summer annuals.

These are the sights and sounds of autumn, often referred to as the harvest season.

In the Reverend G books, our brave little minister wonders how to deal with her own shadows of Alzheimer’s – the seasons that come and go, leaving her a bit more confused, a bit closer mentally to her younger self even as her physical body ages. She yearns to share her faith with the residents at Cove Creek yet she can’t quite remember how to speak the Gospel.

In one of my favorite scenes in the third book, Reverend G tries to preach a sermon and jumbles the story in an endearing yet tragic attempt to speak about her faith. What a character she is and how bravely she tries to deal with this disease that has stolen even the memory of ministry from her!

In this season of change, I wonder about my mother, too. How does she deal with the shadows on her plastic blinds in assisted living? Does she remember the changing colors of the trees on the farm? Does she still long for those autumnal moments or have they completely retreated in the Alzheimer-forming plaque that captures her brain?

I so want her to remember this season of autumn for its beauty, the crisp air and the promise of harvest. I long for my mother to recall with joy the way we celebrated with church folks, joined in a giant pot luck and sang, “We Gather Together to Ask the Lord’s Blessing.”

I hope Mom still rejoices within that sacred holy of holies inside her soul, that she somehow catches a tune from the past, the aroma of pumpkin pies cooling on the cabinet and the presence of her beloved Hank next to her.

And just in case my genes fail me and throw me also into Alzheimer’s shadows, I will rejoice in the now and enjoy today. I will continue to walk in the crisp air, crunch tiny acorns under my feet and praise God for the colors and textures of autumn.

For how else can we deal with shadows but to look for the remaining light. And how else can we face something as horrific as Alzheimer’s unless we look beyond it to the harvest of heaven.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1

Surprised by God

Anyone who knows me well understands why it is important for me to face the western sky at the end of the day.

I thrive on the colors and textures of sunsets.sunset in Olathe

One of the first things I want to do when I get to heaven is watch how God paints a different sunset every night. I imagine it looks even more amazing on the other side.

So each evening, I park myself in my rocker, the cat jumps on my lap and we prepare to worship God and his latest design. The other night, the cat and I took our positions, but all we saw was a tiny faint glow. On a scale of 10 for sunsets, it looked to be about 1.75. We watched the news for a while and did a few exercises, then looked at the sunset again.

What an amazing sight! God changed that tiny yellow to a fiery glow that spread its fingers into a mélange of golden shades. The colors peeked at us through our redbud tree and reminded us again – the cat and me – that the Divine Artist can redo any landscape.

So it is in our lives. Sometimes a tiny morsel of goodness appears. Someone sends a card with encouraging words. A publisher sends a contract. A friend, a real friend, “likes” us on Facebook.

That tiny nugget spreads hope, but then God comes along and explodes it into something better. He adds his touch and suddenly we feel connected to the Divine.

God is able to turn even the smallest events into a delightful surprise of joy.

All we have to do it keep watching and worship the One who makes it happen.

©2013 RJ Thesman