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Deep Roots and Broad Branches

The Rev. Susie H. Thomas and I are colleagues, and thanks to social media we are friends. She pastors The Magnolia United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, an area devastated by recent flooding. In the midst of such upheaval, the rest of life still goes on. She recently wrote very movingly about one such experience and graciously gave me permission to share this with you —

I officiated at a funeral this morning, and received an extraordinary blessing from the family and friends of the deceased.

First, the family and I met through interesting circumstances: Mom and Pops were long-time viewers of the Sunday morning TV broadcast of First United Methodist’s church services. During my years as an associate pastor at FUMC, I was occasionally featured on those broadcasts, and somehow or other, Mom and Pops heard that I’d moved to another UM church less than a mile from their home in Central.

The two Presbyterians connected with the Methodist minister.

Mom and her caregiver attended services at my church; I visited with this sweet elderly couple in their home, filled with the most extensive collection (among other collections) of “fishing Santas” that I’d ever seen. (Not that I’ve seen too many fishing Santas, come to think of it.)

So many beautiful, unique, and/or whimsical things were lost when their house flooded two months ago.

Mom’s health went downhill after she and Pops were separated, during the evacuation after the flooding, for the first time in their 68-year marriage. Mom passed away late last week, and this morning at her funeral service, it was SRO in the funeral home chapel. This lovely couple had drawn so many into their network of love – their longtime UPS deliveryman was there – the kids called him “Uncle Henry.” How often do we see THAT at a funeral? Their family tree had a deep root system and green and spending branches.

Hoping my husband and I will each be remembered as lovingly, when our day comes. Pops and the family need your prayers – this is going to be hard.

— Please join the rest of us in keeping Pops and his family in your prayers. along with Pastor Susie and her husband and her church. Mercy.

Why Young Adults? part 3 of 3

Not long ago I was invited to be a guest blogger at Confessions of A Young Methodist. Once I got over my initial shock and was able to respond with great gratitude, I went to work.

Sara and Kyle gave me the question, “Why young adults?” Here’s my measured response, which I’ve edited into three parts for you —

And again, Why Young Adults?

Because you’re you.

I remember being a young adult in the church and being ignored. We’d been tacitly instructed by those older than us to simply suit up, show up, and shut up.

But there were outliers. There were older people who not only glanced over at us but brought their trays and asked if they could sit at our table. Then they invited us to sit at theirs. Soon it became a new table with extra chairs squeezed up to it. Then we had to pull two tables together to fit everybody in.

I also remember the first time I realized I wasn’t one of The Young Ones anymore. Let me warn you how quickly that happens. It’s even worse than “How come my kid’s already in Kindergarten? Wasn’t she born like a week ago?” It happens. It happens fast.

There are plenty of us out here in every age and stage of life who are honored to be in ministry with you and working alongside you. Together by the grace of God we are working to make “disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

The church for which I was educated and trained doesn’t really exist anymore. Neither does the world we were called to transform.

Rather than stumbling and lurching fearfully into the future, let’s do as Mr. Wesley prescribed when he famously said, “If your heart is as my heart, give me your hand.” He’d read that in the big leather book (2nd Kings 10:15).

So, please, young adults, give us your hands, and together let’s find fresh ways to work together for Christ.

Because you’re you.

Because it’s God’s idea.

And because my mom shows me that we all need one another. 

Why Young Adults? Why not?!

Why Young Adults? part 2 of 3

Not long ago I was invited to be a guest blogger at Confessions of A Young Methodist. Once I got over my initial shock and was able to respond with great gratitude, I went to work.

Sara and Kyle gave me the question, “Why young adults?” Here’s my measured response, which I’ve edited into three parts for you —

Again, Why young adults?

Because this is God’s idea.

“One generation shall praise your works to another,” says Psalm145:4. We all tend to have scars; some of those are visible but most are not. We have memories of how we got them. But most importantly we know how God rescued us, often from our own mistakes and bad choices.

We need to hear each other’s stories. We need to remind each other how good God still is, today, right now.

For example, I’m wearing one of my favorite ball caps right now. It has the picture of a skull on the front and around it are the words “Grateful I’m Not Dead.” For real. Very short explanation: God does good work. Happy to tell you the longer version; ask me. We need to be telling Our Own God Stories to one another.

God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; your young will see visions, your old will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17) People younger than me see and understand things in ways I never have and probably never would without their help. I hope the reverse is also true.

Maybe that’s why some of us love being with young adults. And you let us, and we thank you! We just hope we don’t come off like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s substitute teacher bit on last week’s SNL.

God’s dream for us is that together we are all “to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do God’s work and to speak out for God, telling others of the night-and-day difference God made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1st Peter 2:9) God never intended for us to try any of this as a solo act.

Long ago Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C teamed up to bring new life to the song “Walk This Way.” About a decade later Neil Young and Pearl Jam did the same thing to “Rockin’ in the Free World.” More recently Paul McCartney, Kanye, and Rihanna teamed up for “FourFiveSeconds.” It’s long since passed time we were doing the same thing in the church.

Plenty of people are living lives that are screaming what that trio sang, “I’m tryna make it back home by Monday mornin’/I swear I wish somebody would tell me/Ooh, that’s all I want.” Church, are we listening?

So Why Young Adults? Because this is God’s idea.

— See you back here tomorrow for the final part of my answer.

Why Young Adults? Part 1 of 3

Not long ago I was invited to be a guest blogger at Confessions of A Young Methodist ( Once I got over my initial shock and was able to respond with great gratitude, I went to work.

Sara and Kyle gave me the question, “Why young adults?” Here’s my measured response, which I’ve edited into three parts for you —


The question was Why young adults?

My immediate response was Why not?!

I greatly appreciate Sarah and Kyle inviting me here as one of their “people from outside the ‘United Methodist young adult’ demographic.” Full disclosure: I’m a United Methodist Christian. I’m an adult, or at least I can reasonably pretend to be when necessary. But I’m only young when compared to my mom.

She’s 104.

On a good day when the Alzheimer’s is gentle, there are traces of the art teacher she was. When in her 50s and 60s and bored with her chronological peers in the Teachers’ Lounge, she loved hanging out with the Student Teachers. They were at least half her age. They began inviting her to join them when they went out, and of course she did.

As a kid I enjoyed her stories about those times. She’d tell about the energy and insights her young adult friends had. There’d be examples of their serious fun and fun seriousness.

When her Student Teacher friends would come to our home, either individually or in groups, they’d all talk and listen to one another. Really listen. And laugh together. And sometimes even cry together. They told her things they’d never tell their parents.

Now that I’m suddenly in the age bracket where she used to be, I see that today we need all of that and more in our schools, our lives, and for sure in our churches. We need that healthy intergenerational connection.

Christ’s Holy Church is kinda like one of those 1,000 piece picture puzzles. Every part is significant. It takes all of us sharing the forward call of our Lord to see the full picture.

So Why young adults? Because my mom has shown me that regardless of age differences we all need one another. And she’s right.

— See you back here tomorrow for the second part of my answer. 

For Life.

Saw this on an Ameren truck —

Focused Energy. For Life.

The energy and other resources with which we’ve been entrusted…what are we gonna do with all of them?

The present, this gift we call Today…what are we gonna do with it?

By the grace of God, may our Energy be Focused today. May what we say and do contribute rather than detract, build up rather than tear down.

By the grace of God, may our our lives today be spent For Life.

Focused Energy. For Life.


Focused Energy.

Saw this on an Ameren truck:

Focused Energy.

Frank was an active member of the church I served while finishing up classes in my doctoral program. He would regularly ask me how he should be praying for me during that time.

Caught me off guard every time! Usually my immediate response was something like, “Really? You’d pray for me?”

And he’d stand there, smiling.

“Well, okay, then. Thank you. Focus. Please pray for focus for me.”

Apparently he did.

And God answered Frank’s prayers.

Focused Energy.

For whom are you praying today, and for what specifically for them?

Maybe ask.



Not Everybody Can, but We Can.

Not everybody can gather openly, freely and safely in the name of Christ Jesus.

We can.