street corner musings.

i find myself on sidewalks a lot these days. standing on street corners. waiting for buses. and since i’m waiting around a lot, i’ve got time to think. and people watch too, of course.

today i was waiting at a bus stop and flipping through the news apps on my phone, catching up on the latest info coming out of colorado… the horrible shootings that occurred last night when a masked man walked into a movie theater and opened fire, killing 12 and wounding others.

I stood there, on that street corner, and looked around. across the street, 3 men sat outside a pizzeria, laughing and carrying on with each other. people rode by on their bikes, no doubt getting off from work and ready for their friday night to begin. everyone just doing their own thing. living their life. and thousands of miles away in colorado, families are forever changed because of the act of violence one man decided to unleash in a public place.

a few days ago, the same violence was news in bulgaria, where a suicide bomber killed himself and others. and in so many other countries violence occurs daily. i stood there, thinking about all these people i don’t know all around me, and all of the people all across the world whose lives have changed in an instant.. unknowingly, life as they once knew it is gone. and now they are faced with the reality of learning how to adapt to a completely new way of living.

while i have not been a victim of violence lately, i have faced unexpected moments when life as i knew it ceased to exist. some of the changes i brought on myself, and some of them have happened to me. but, changes will happen. they are inevitable. changes are what life is all about. the question is, how am i gonna handle them? how am i gonna react?

as i stood on that street corner, i pondered all these things, and my heart ached to have everyone i love around me in that moment, so i knew that they were safe. but i stood there alone. watching life happen all around me. and then i smiled.

yeah. this is what it’s all about. learning to live with and appreciate each other. learning to never take one single moment for granted. soaking up everything good around us, and working to spread joy, not hate. i can’t change what’s happened in colorado, but i can make a difference wherever i go… i can decide how i will face and deal with life, how i will treat others, and whether i will live a life of love, non-violence, & peace. or not.

i looked around one more time. my bus was coming. time to meet up with my love.

be safe. peace, my dear friends.

how to start a summer day.

1. get up as late as possible and throw on some clothes.

2. meet some friends at a designated place in the city & jump in their car.

3. head off to a somewhat unknown destination.

4. walk through the woods to get to said destination

5. enjoy a picnic breakfast and great conversation for about 3 hours in the sunshine.

6. go home satisfied, at peace, and ready to continue seizing the day.

love & peace to you all.

i’m busy. hoping to get rich.

my entire bedroom has an orange-pink glow to it as the sun sets. it’s warm & calming. i’m under the covers, computer’s on my lap, and the cat is trying to figure out where she is gonna settle down – or if she’s gonna settle down. i tackled and accomplished most of my to-do list today, and i’m feeling pretty good about that; but i have another one waiting for me tomorrow. filled with new & exciting things…

yes! i’ve got a few meetings filling up my morning. one of which is to plan a theme and activities/classes/moments of reflection & discussion for the camp that i am working next week. it’ll be good to get some things decided, then i can really focus on specific details = what i’m gonna talk about with the youth/how i am gonna plan some mentoring/opportunities for spiritual moments during the camp.

then, my 3rd meeting of the day is with a woman from somewhere in the middle east (i can’t remember where). she moved here during the past year with her husband and has been studying swedish. i met her in the fall and she was working really hard, but could not talk in swedish. i saw her last week and wow, what a difference! she has really picked up a lot of swedish. impressive. but, the really impressive thing is that during the summer, while she has a break from swedish classes, she is studying english. but, she’s really unsure of her english and wants to be better, understanding that it is important for her to know english since it’s spoken all around the world. well, we were chatting with each other and i offered to meet her once a week to just talk in english with her and help her with her english assignments, if she wants. so, tomorrow, we have our first little tutoring session at the cafe in the church where i work. i’m really excited! i can easily help people with english, and i’ve offered it to other teenagers or adults before, but this is the first time it’s actually happening. why not help with what i can?! can’t wait to meet her tomorrow!

on a related note, this morning i got my little email from the universe & it said this:

It’s not how much one gets paid, Liz, but how much they give, that makes them rich. Bling, bling ~ The Universe

wow. how true that is. and how rich i feel when i am able to know & use who i am to try to make a difference somewhere. when i know who i am, follow the beat of my heart, and listen to my soul, then opportunities just come. and ironically, the more that i am true to myself, the more life becomes about how i can be used. you’d think that it’s selfish to listen to your soul, to follow your own dreams. but, instead, it is freeing. whenever i find that i focus inward, seeking peace for myself, i find that i am thrust out into the world even more – and perhaps can be used to create peace. the reason for that is, i believe, because of our connection as humans. the more i am in touch with my true self, my inner self, the divine spark within… the more i am in touch with others. the spark is the same in us all. in other words, love and peace is what we all seek. and i do not have true love and peace unless my neighbor does too.

two weeks ago i had a weekend camp retreat for my youth. one of the things that i didn’t mention in my previous posts was a connection i made with two older teenagers from the middle east. the two teenagers live in a group home because they are refugees from their home countries. they’re here in sweden on their own. refugee children. without their families.

well, a man who works with them contacted the church where i work to ask if there was any work that we could do together… if there was anything that we had to offer these teens. the other minister i work with suggested this camp. so, after a meeting and some email contact, 2 of the teens who live at this home came to the camp. they were amazing and fantastic, and i was so impressed. they were in a completely new setting, surrounded by swedish youth & adults (and me!) they had never met before, experiencing things they had never experienced before. and yet, they were kind, friendly, outgoing, and simply wonderful to have during the weekend. i felt so blessed and thankful that everything worked out – at least that’s what i thought.

then i got an email from the man who works at the group home. he attached a letter that one of the teens had written (in really good swedish!) about the weekend. as i read this 17 year old’s words, tears streamed down my face. he wrote that he felt welcomed, appreciated, needed, and he had a great time. he commented on what we did, how he felt, and that he sees these youth now as his sisters & brothers.

folks, this is how world peace is created. by simply being together. these 2 teens are muslim & from the middle east. we were all westerners, coming from a christian perspective. but none of that mattered at all because we all accepted each other as we were. that was how determined we would be. and all the teens followed right along. brothers & sisters. all accepted. all respected. i am overwhelmed and humbled that we had a chance to meet these incredible, strong teenagers. you’d better believe we are already planning how we can continue to work together & support each other, because they have plenty to offer us. it’s not just about us giving them help. i can’t even begin to explain the love & joy they gave us.

these are the moments in life when i remember why i am here. and by here, i mean alive. on this earth. i remember that my quest for peace is real and important. and that hope does exist. just get 16 amazing teenagers together from different places in the world and watch them love each other. there is a ton of hope for this world. and i am so very amazed that my work (whether it’s writing or the work i am paid for) allows me to focus on finding ways to work with others in order to help this world be the place it was always meant to be.

with all my heart and soul, i wish you a day, a week, a year, a lifetime full of moments of peace and love.

how ’bout we kick some ass?

if you know me, in real life or in the blog world, then you know that most days i am seeking the calm, peaceful, and meditative vibes in life. and that’s just fine & dandy. it’s a beautiful thing. it’s me.

but, i’m not just a one-sided person. i’m not all norah jones and candles and such.

nope. some days i just wanna kick ass. not in a bad way, but in a take everything by the horns, nothing’s gonna get me down kind of way. there are some days where i just know that i will make it through and “beat the hell out of anything blocking my way”, as my fellow blogger over at exploring maybeland puts it. in other words, nothing will stop me from following my dreams. all the peace & harmony i seek serves to give me the strength to persevere and to never give up. who knew that peace teaches you to kick ass? but, you know, if it’s something that comes from my soul,something that i know is a battle worth fighting for – for another person or for me – then nothing will stand in my way. i will not give up.

peace is not something that is passive and cute. peace is a the result of a hard-fought battle to be true to myself, the courage to experience life & all that comes with it, and to still feel strong, grounded, and calm. peace does not mean that everybody in my life (or the world) gets along & agrees, or that i feel all blissfully happy & warm inside. hell no. peace comes at a cost, it involves being willing to do battle with myself. daily. to listen to what my soul is telling me is true & right, and to take a stand for myself & for the well-being of others.

all that to say, it’s a kick ass kinda day. so, get out there and fight for your peace.

sending you strong, courageous vibes of peace. 

m4s0n501

you know love wins, right?

today is the day.

today the united methodist church will vote once again on their stance/beliefs on homosexuality and the church. it’s something that has been voted on every 4 years for the past 40 years. and throughout all 40 years, the vote has been to continually not offer the same kind of grace & love to all people that God offers to all. in this, the church has failed. again  and again. so, what will happen today in tampa at the conference? what will the vote be? will there be movement forward? will there be change? or will there be a continued discrimination?

will i remain an untouchable when it comes to ordination in the church that i love?

will the church continue to say to me, “if you had stayed in your unhealthy marriage, suffocating yourself, and refusing to be used to the fullest, then you would have been ordained by now. but, since you chose to listen to your soul, heal your life, and happened to fall in love with & marry a woman AND told us about it, then nevermind. ordination is not possible for you any longer.”

how long will i (and many others) hear those words that separate us and ignore the gifts & talents that we have to offer? how freaking long? 40 more years?

sadly, i don’t have much hope today. especially after hearing about the vote that took place on tuesday. it was over a theological belief. the delegates were voting whether to accept this statement or not:

“We affirm our unity in Jesus Christ while acknowledging differences in applying our faith in different cultural contexts as we live out the Gospel. We stand united in declaring our faith that God’s love is available to all, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.”

it was a statement of agreeing to disagree, of understanding that there are different ways of living out faith because there are different cultures that are all a part of the UMC… since it’s a global, connected church. is was a statement that acknowledged that what unites us is more important than what divides us. it was a statement to focus on our similiarities (because ALL people are loved & accepted as they are), instead of our differences. something that was a foundational belief for the founder of the UMC, john wesley. in his sermon, “catholic spirit”, wesley says “If your heart is right, then give me your hand.” this is the spirit of tolerance, grace, and acceptance that the UMC was built upon. it was not necessary for all to have the same opinions, according to wesley. the longer quote is this:

“Let all these smaller points stand aside. Let them never come into sight. “If thine heart is as my heart,” if thou lovest God and all mankind, I ask no more; “Give me thine hand.”

sounds to me like the statement above is a 21st century version of what wesley said in the 1700s. so, how did the vote go? well, they voted to accept the statement. yep. that’s good. but… only 53% of the voters agreed. so, it passed, but that means that 47% disagreed with this very basic statement that God’s love is available for all.. that nothing can separate us. that it’s not actually about what we do, we cannot earn love, but that love is truly available to everyone.

so, that’s why i’m worried about today’s vote on homosexuality. if we can’t even agree that love is given to all, that all people are worthy, then how the hell are we (they) going to vote to accept all people? ugh. i’m heartbroken. and distraught, even before the voting begins.

i am nervous. yet, i have hope. and i believe. even if things do not go the way i wish today, i know that in the end… someday… love will win. love does win. because love, well, that’s what life is all about. and if the UMC does not want me to proclaim that Love as an ordained minister, then so be it. i will, i have, and i am declaring that Love in the best way i can. every day of my life. ordained or not.

God, Love, is bigger than the united methodist church.

peace to all (and i mean all – even those with whom i disagree).