Thursday, June 18, 2020

Very Early in the Morning....

Mark 15:1-41
"Very early in the morning, the chief priests made their plans..."

I read this, and I think of priests and scribes and leaders jumping out of bed, telling their wives they didn't have time for breakfast, and scurrying out the door.....much like children running down to the Christmas tree in the living room to open presents.    Did they have trouble sleeping the night before?  Toss and turn?  Keep replaying possible comebacks and conversations in their heads?  Things they would ask Jesus?  Arguments they would make to Pilate? 

Those middle-of-the night plans are usually indicators for me that I'm obsessing about something.  I think I have control over something and can/or have to "fix" it.  The lack of peace I feel on those nights has alot to do with the sin that accompanies the obsession. Wanting to be right, proving others wrong, vindication.....

So my own experience helps me understand these men.  They were tired of Jesus questioning their authority or their leadership.  They wanted control again.  They wanted to be right and prove Jesus wrong, and they got up at the crack of dawn in order to do it.

It's a little different from the excitement of the women in Matthew 28.  Verse 1 says "At dawn" they went to the tomb. This response was FAITH.  This was LOVE.  I wonder, did they toss and turn?   Play over what they had seen in their minds again and again?  Wonder if they could've stopped it?  Changed things?   Were they beginning to put together the pieces of things Jesus had said to them yet?

The chief priests got up early out of fear.  The women went early out of faith.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Imago Dei - Genesis 2:15-25

The last week has been awful.

Well, Sarah and Caleb had a beautiful wedding, but other than of George Floyd being murdered by a police officer with his knee on Floyd's neck, while Floyd repeatedly says, "I can't breathe".  Protests, Facebook posts, Riots, Talking Heads with a variety of opinions and speculation.   There is just a blanket of sadness and angst hanging in the air.  

It's frustrating.  
And exhausting.

And at the same time, I recognize the importance of staying "in" it, instead of fleeing.  Instead of moving on.  My black friends can't just move on, and so regardless of my privilege which would allow me to sweep it under the rug and find other things to focus on, I choose to stay.  

It's hard to get to the root of some of the arguments I'm hearing.  
It's about police brutality
It's about respect for the rule of law
It's about ALL lives
It's about systemic racism
It's about looting
It's about injustice

And in these all these arguments, perhaps we're missing the point.  When it comes down to it, the thing that is making most people angry, on both sides of the issue, is how we VALUE people/things.  George Floyd's murder is heinous because he has VALUE as a human being, made in the image of God.  Some are more concerned about the looting than the racial injustice, because they VALUE order and rules more than human life.  Some value themselves and their way of life....others value justice and equality and fairness.

In Genesis 2:15-25, we see a clear difference between the value of animals and of humans.  Animals are made from the dirt (super cool, btw), but HUMANS are made in the image of GOD.   Distinction between animals and humans.   But there is NO distinction between humans.  We are ALL image bearers of the most high God.  We ALL have his stamp on us.  We ALL resemble our Father.   

And that is why this week has been so hard for me.  I am hurt for my black friends whose value has been questioned again and again and again.  I am frustrated with people I know and love who can't see how hurtful their words and fearful rhetoric are.  Black lives matter.  White lives matter.  All lives matter because we're all the same in the eyes of God.  But right now, it's the black lives that are in danger, so we stand.

Monday, June 01, 2020

The Spirit Hovered: Genesis 1:1-13

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."  Genesis 1:1-2

It's hard to imagine what it was like before the creation of the world.  How do you imagine nothing? I've always been intrigued by the fact that the earth was empty, and. yet there was "the deep" and "the waters".  LATER, God created the waters, right?  So what was present in V. 1?   

But the part I love most about these verses is the idea that "the spirit of God was hovering over the waters".  What was that like?  Was it like an eery mist covering a lake early in the morning?  Was it just like a swarm of little gnats that all move together at the ballfield during the summer?   Maybe it was like the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night in the desert with the Israelites?

Then I think....does he still do that??   I mean, I know I have the Spirit living inside of me, which is overwhelmingly amazing....but does he still hover in our midst?  Like the mist over a meadow....was he hovering yesterday when over 3000 cars joined together in a Procession of Solidarity for Black Lives?  Or at The Villas in Sherman, as they've been suffering through a COVID outbreak?   Does he hover in our midst...listening, moving, responding?

The most perfect day....

Yesterday, our first-born was married.  

That, alone, is huge in any parent's life.  Add to it a pandemic, and. you have the most interesting, emotional, stressful, stress-free wedding experience I can imagine.  This morning, I'm basking in the afterglow of family and flowers and pie and don't want to forget a bit of it, so here is a messy list of memories I want to tell my grandchildren about:
  • March 15 - The Covid-19 pandemic begins to get serious, with a "stay at home" order first issued.   Soon after, Todd is ordered home from work until early June.
  • Early April - we realize it's going to be awhile, and we need to decide to post-pone the wedding, or change it to comply with health ordinances.   The decision is made to continue with 10 people only - Bride and groom, parents, officiant, photographer and sound people.   We cancel catering, send an email to guests explaining they are un-invited, and tell the bridesmaids and groomsmen they won't be able to attend.
  • May 1 - Sarah moves home from Moody to finish out the remainder of her classes.  It is a sweet and stressful time as 2 college girls are back in the house and all 3 magruder children are doing school from home, mom is working from home, and Todd is, well, home.
  • Home projects:  a truckload of mulch is delivered and spread around our home, a desk and coatrack are painted for Sarah's new house, cleaning, sorting, organizing
  • May 15 - Sarah "graduates" from Moody Bible Institute with a few pics and a confetti popper on the front lawn.  The neighbors drive by and honk their congratulations
  • We realize there is no place open for Todd to get a new suit for the wedding.  We find a local business downtown that is illegally open.  We buy an illegal, bootleg suit for way more money than we would've planned.  Seriously.  I can't even put the number down here because I'm so embarrassed by it.  But man, it's a nice suit.
  • Sarah's wedding band was purchased and being sized at JCPenney in Springfield.  With COVID-19, Penneys has been closed for 10 weeks.  Sarah emailed and called the local and corporate offices with no response.  I tweeted about the problem, and JCPCares immediately responded.  Unfortunately, they said there was nothing they could do.  Sarah then purchased an $8 ring from Walmart for the ceremony. 
  • Wedding week: Sophia throws a bachelorette party with only 3 people invited - Sarah, Sophia, and Selah.  They do a progressive drive-thru dinner around town, then come back to the house and watch Princess Diaries 2 in a candle-lit basement. So sweet.
  • Lots of "hey google, play ___________"
  • Rehearsal - the Camp is beautiful.  It is sunny and 72 degrees.  Caleb's family brings the arbor he made, and they dig holes to put it in the ground.  We have a Chick fil a picnic in camp chairs with Caleb's parents.  We all have sunburns at the end of the day, and sarah's face is red as a tomato.
  • Todd and I both write letters to Caleb that we give him that afternoon.  We give Sarah letters at home.
  • We pick up eucalyptus, lavendar and baby's breath at HyVee.  Sarah and I make boutineirs, flower crowns, her bouquet, and some pots. 
  • Wedding Day - sarah is up early for a smoothie and a fried egg.  we take everything out of her bedroom and sophia arranges a beautiful space for getting ready and taking pictures. 
  • Sophia does her makeup. Mom does her hair.  Nana's blue bird necklace, her favorite earrings from Ukraine.
  • Video and pictures at the house.
  • Sabrina, the videographer is so good at directing the show.  Thankful for that with an indecisive bride.
  • Nana and Poppy drop off 6 pies at the house: French Silk, Coconut Cream, Dutch Apple, Pumpkin (2), and Strawberry Rhubarb.  (the last 3 were made by Nana)
  • About 10 cars lined up around the drive of the camp.
  • Sarah and Todd waiting in the Cypress Garage
  • Caleb shows his emotions from the very beginning
  • Sarah and Todd look amazing walking across the field
  • I forgot to stand for the bride.  I took 1 picture and got distracted looking at them
  • Michael Yotter has rigged it so that people can hear the ceremony through an FM transmitter.  So kind.
  • David did a wonderful job officiating.  He referred to Todd's "Gut it out".  He talked about how hard marriage is, and also how wonderful.  (The lasleys told Sarah the wedding was their gift to she and Caleb....I'm so thankful for them)
  • It is a perfect day.  about 73 degrees and sunny.  perfect.
  • They go car to car to greet the family (family plus a few)
  • Pictures with the parents and the girls.  The couple stays for a few more video shots on the dock
  • Jimmy Johns subs back at our house with Nana, Poppy and Linda.  And lots of pie.
  • Nana slides off the tiny band from Grandma Bunker and gives it to Sarah. Nana and poppy also give Sarah a beautiful Tiffany Lamp for their new house and tell the story about recieving a lamp for their wedding that they still own (with a cardinal on it)
  • We send them off with extra pie and sandwiches for their honeymoon. They head to Mt. Pulaski for another party with the McCains.
I wish I had asked the questions Sabrina asked earlier in their relationship/engagement:  What do you love about Caleb?  What are you looking forward to in marriage?     To hear Sarah express that was so beautiful and encouraging.  They are going to be fine.

Sunday, May 31, 2020


When I was a young mom, there was a tragic death in our church family, and I remember feeling like a little kid, like I didn’t know how to respond appropriately for something like that. Is sending a card helpful? Taking a casserole? Do you call first, or just show up? Will I bother the family? So much insecurity about doing the “right” thing. I shared this with a mentor and I’ll never forget her telling me, “it doesn’t really matter what you do, just do SOMETHING”.
It’s a little like how I feel now, as a white woman, sickened and saddened by the violence, injustice, and fear my brothers and sisters of color continue to face. What do I say? Will what I say make my black friends internally roll their eyes while politely excusing my inadequate attempt at being supportive? Have I earned the right to stand with them in protest, knowing I can easily do so because of my whiteness?
As our family talks about this, we know we’re called to practice what Jesus did. He was present with people who were hurting. People on the outside. People the political and social systems had forgotten, mistreated or ignored. A huge part of his ministry was simply standing WITH people.
For the last few days I’ve been remembering my friend’s words. I’m still not sure what the perfect thing to do is, but today we’re going to “just do SOMETHING.” Feel free to join us at 12:30pm today for a vehicle procession of solidarity downtown Springfield. #imagodei #blacklivesmatter #justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaud #justdosomething

Thursday, May 21, 2020


"Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one, and as for you, you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your strength."
Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Our understanding of the word "heart" is a little different than the early hearers of the Old Testament.  The word, "lev", encompassed more than just an organ pumping blood to all parts of the body.  It actually has a much broader understanding, including thoughts, emotions, and choices.  When the Shema says we should love the Lord with all of our heart, it can mean the place where we KNOW and understand things, the place we find wisdom, where we feel things, or make choices based on desires.  

The heart, or lev, is the center of who we are.

But the Bible also tells us some other things about the heart.

Jeremiah 17:9 says "the heart is deceitful"

Deuteronomy 30:6 says our hearts need to be circumcised.

Ezekiel 36:26 describes the heart of stone in us, that God promises to exchange with a heart of flesh. 

Every day as the Israelites recited the Shema, Deut 6:4-5, they were challenged to surrender every part of their lives to loving God - their feelings, decisions, understanding.....kind of like a filter for living lives as followers of Jesus.  

What does that look like for me?  
surrendering my responses when frustrated
surrendering my impulses, cravings and desires
surrendering my thought life, judgements, and grudges

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Covid Quarantine Week 9

I'm ready to back to real life.  To hang out with friends, host a cook-out, go shopping, eat buttered popcorn at the movie theater....but there are also things about this time I don't want to forget.

  • 3 girls back under one roof.  Sophia finishing out her Sophomore year at home and Sarah spending the last month before her wedding here with us.  This unexpected time has been a blessing.
  • Bananagrams.  It sits on the dining room table and someone busts it out after almost every dinner.  Forming words and arguing about what counts.  Sophia has surprised us by winning most often, while Todd has the most creative words.   I like to play just to be together, but I'm not very good.  
  • Church on the couch.  This has been hard.  Not everything translates great on video.  The temptation to compare or complain or check out during worship and be a spectator.  Also, the beautiful privilege to be connected with the Church everywhere - watching RCC, and our friends at West Side, Sarah's friends at Uptown Baptist Church, and John Mark Comer in Portland.   Homemade Matzah bread and Welch's grape juice stored in a secret spot by the waffle iron so we have it every week.
  • Family Devos at the table at 9:30pm....the evening office.  Trying to establish a practice of ending our day observing and reflecting on God's activity that day.  We started with the book of James, and are now reading the book of Luke together.  Sophia likes to use little Post It Note flags in her bible...Selah highlights with different colors...Todd and I journal.
  • Working in the yard.  6 cubit yards of mulch was dumped in the driveway and we've hauled countless wheelbarrows all over the yard, weeding and thinning out plants as we've gone.   Todd has done almost all of the wheelbarrowing, and everyone has pitched in with the weeding.
  • Mother's Day bird feeder.   This must be what 50 looks like.  I'm excited about watching the birdfeeder and spreading mulch.  
  • Cooking.  So much cooking.  Trying some new things - buttermilk donuts (meh), soft pretzels, bread, soups....trying to stay dairy-free as much as possible for Sophia.  Lots of cooking means lots of dishes, but luckily Todd gladly takes care of that.
  • Celebrating.  We have more time to give celebrations the attention I think they deserve.  
    • Mailed confetti poppers to Freshmen who have completed their first year.  
    • Celebrated Todd's 5 year Strokaversary.  The girls made a brain cake and hosted the Stroke Olympic Games.  4 games Todd played against 1 family member with a stroke-like handicap.  He felt thoroughly loved.
    • Sarah's college graduation.  Yard sign. Confetti Popper.  Borrowed graduation cap and gown. Photos on the front lawn with honking neighbors driving by.  
    • A wedding will happen in 2 weeks.
It hasn't been fun.  But it hasn't been all bad.  In fact, it's been a gift.  I need to remember.

Very Early in the Morning....

Mark 15:1-41 "Very early in the morning, the chief priests made their plans..." I read this, and I think of priests and scribes...