this one’s for YOU. and me, too.

I’m learning, Jesus.  I’m learning.

This “safer-at-home” practice is giving me time (an undeniable precious commodity, no doubt) to rediscover the gift of fresh air and exercise.  For real.

Because?  I am a woman who needs to see the daylight, the sky, the trees.

Because?  I am a woman who needs to experience vitality — regularly.

And, well, maybe those things just make me human?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that if I don’t get out of  the house every single day, and if I don’t do some form of physical exertion every single day,  I am just not a pretty site.  I’ll just end that there for everyone’s sake.

Prior to the coronavirus distancing efforts, I could fake it.  I admit it.  I could lie to myself about only needing to “exercise” a few times per week, or trick my body into believing that (for me?) a 20-minute walk around the block would do for the day.  I had been keeping up my yoga practices which kept me together, but now … it’s become utterly clear that I must-must- get outside and exert myself for an extended period of time.  Every single day.

What it comes down to?  I have to prioritize self-care.

And so do you, friends. 

So, now hear this:

  1. It’s not selfish.
  2. It does take effort.
  3. It takes YOU prioritizing YOU.

And yeah … dang-it … I know that I’ve heard it a billion times.  I know to do this.  But there are SO.MANY.OTHER.PEOPLE.THINGS.QUESTIONS to help, care for, answer, address.  But right now, more than ever … all of that … is not going away.

  1. We are in this “safer-at-home” for the long haul.  We need you — God needs you – to take care so that we together are truly strong.
  2. Find some form of some way to do some thing to get outside and get fresh air.  Exert some energy – a walk, a run, jumping rope, dancing – something to help you move (at a distance).  😉  What is it that you need to do for you to care for you?  (that’s a LOT of you’s …!!)
  3. Feel your heart beating, and know that this is good.  ❤

Yeah, this one’s for you.  And me, too.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

We are better together, but only if we are doing the work to take care of us.

~ Melinda

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for This Day

While every day, sometimes every hour, there seems to appear a new cause for worry, a new disheartening statistic, there is also much for which we can offer thanks.  In so doing, we defy the power of worry and speak as a people of the risen Christ, a people of hope.

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We thank You for all Your gifts, loving God;

source of every good thing.

We praise You for Your mercies,

new every morning, and renewed in the evening.

We thank You, God, for inspiring us through Your Spirit;

giving us ears to hear the words of the prophets,

and voices to carry the message of Your continuing presence with us.

We thank You for people around us,

caring, inspiring, and challenging;

may we rejoice in their example and follow You more closely.

For Your love;

Your persistent reminder that You will not let us go; 

Your people, flesh and bone, the body of Christ,

we praise You and give You thanks.

We remember and give thanks for the great cloud of witnesses, those who have gone before us in the faith,

those who have spoken Your word

and lived Your love, that we may know You;

those we have known personally, our family and friends, no longer present on earth but in Your closer company,

those we have not known

whose lives and words inspire us even now.

On this day, in particular, we lift up the multitude of your people on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines working and working — to keep your world healthy and safe from harm.  Keep them healthy and safe, O God.

In gratitude we offer this and all our prayers, in, and through, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Used with permission from —

Happy Birthday! And? This just feels weird.

This morning, it hit me — this wave of loss.  Tears popped up; I choked them back.  Tears popped up again (like they do), and this time, I let them roll a little bit.

I’ve been basically holding it together, going through the needed day-by-day transitions.  I’ve worked to rearrange our daily lives and adjust to the “new” normal (or whatever this is).  And?  every time, I’ve wandered to the place of worry about tomorrow … or any time except the present … I’ve recalled my heart and mind back to the present.  It’s all I have right now, and where God is calling me to be.

But, this morning, this wave of loss just rolled over and through me and down my cheeks.

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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on

It’s my husband’s birthday.  In the Dutch family life that I married into … birthday’s are everything.  And this year, his sister and family were all going to be here to celebrate.  Cards, gifts, special dinner, cake – these festivities and more – they go on and on.  It’s a wonderful celebration of life in the Dutch home.

But this year – it feels very different.  It feels lonely and quiet.  His sister and kids weren’t able to get on the plane.  His parents are sheltering-in-place safely in their home.  Earlier this week, the kids and I weren’t able to go shopping for gifts and a few cards.  If it wasn’t for my Dutch MIL sharing the importance of “birthday’s” with my older daughter, I’m not sure that I would have gotten it together to even make a card!  My daughter really rallied to the cause, and helped me get the job done!

Because?  It all just feels so different and weird.  

In the midst of the “new normal,” the different, the weird, here’s what I am relying on:

  • Brené Brown’s new podcast “Unlocking Us” which is SO SO SO good.  Check it out here:  “Unlocking Us” podcast
    • And?  If you have listened already…
      • “I DON’T THINK ANY OF US HAVE GONE THROUGH A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC BEFORE.”  that quote alone will carry me through at least another few days.
  • Daily yoga & a new walking/running routine with my kids
  • Taking to God in prayer this question again and again: how are you calling me to be present this day?  How can I be of use?
  • Blogging, hosting discipleship Zoom small groups & trying out FB livestream yoga
  • Baking, sewing, being present with my kiddos
  • Texting friends 🙂
  • Listening to the community.  Praying some more.
    • This is the verse for my day and everyday from Philippians 4:7:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • Updating myself on current news (from only one trusted source) as I need to – working to be the aware citizen and community leader … then taking needed breaks from it.
  • Checking social media only periodically, and carefully at that.

This is me just saying life isn’t normal and we all (likely) need to allow loss to have its time, to allow a few tears to roll.

Because?  It all just feels so different and weird.  

Together in peace,


The Feast You Spread Before Us

assorted color opened umbrella hangs on display

Photo by Enrique Hoyos on

With permission, I am sharing this beautiful piece, “The Feast You Spread Before Us.”  It struck me that, even now, when things (answers, masks, paper products…) seem scarce, we are called to be a people of extravagant grace.  We are called to be a a people who envision and share a feast — in and amidst — the seeming scarcity all around us.  It is, in fact, the practice of extravagant grace which might be the thing that binds us together through it all.  

The author is the Rev. Dr. Mark Richardson who serves as the Senior Minister of First United Methodist Church, Santa Barbara. The Rev. Richardson was my district mentor in my call to ministry process, and simply is … an overall wonderful human being.  🙂  I hope you will enjoy this piece as much as I have.

The Feast You Spread Before Us

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
~ Psalm 23:5 

This is the feast you spread before us, O God,
a sumptuous celebration of freedom in Christ,
sitting down at table not only with those we love,
and with all those who love us in return,
but with the very ones who trouble us.

This is the feast of Eucharist –
profound gratefulness for earth, bread, and breath,
as we dance with joy before the mystery of God,
the One who speaks hope into our troubled hearts,
the One who alone is able to soothe our weary souls.

This is the feast of holy love –
first tasted in a Gethsemane garden
then poured out on Calvary’s hill,
an inexhaustible love that knows no fear
and is undeterred by hate or malice.

This is the feast of surrender –
releasing the anxieties that plague us,
the resentments we nurse over time,
giving us hearts of gladness instead,
hallowing our lives in the sweetness of grace.

This is the gospel feast –
overflowing the small containers of our lives,
bathing us in the font of baptismal blessing,
anointing us with Holy Spirit wind and fire,
bidding us to live forgiven, loved and free.

This is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet –
where lion and lamb lie down together in peace,
where foes watch their bitterness melt away,
where there is neither weeping nor pain nor fear,
rather the sounds of love’s creation praising their God.

~ Mark Lloyd Richardson

Visit the Rev. Richardson’s blog for more:

I may not know what day it is?

I’m going to just admit:  I may not know what day it is.  While I would like to say that it’s because of the sudden and significant change in my/our daily life rhythms: it isn’t.  I am seriously date challenged.  At any given moment, at any time of the year, I’m not confident that I know what day it is, or the date itself.  And?  If I send an invitation … I always tell my friends and colleagues to check it twice — because I just might have sent the incorrect date (even though I checked it twice before sending …).

I wish I could say otherwise.  It is why you might see me, at any given time, with three different calendars and a daily list.

I wish that I could tell you that I’m supremely organized by nature.  But, I’m not.  I only get to where I should be with a lot of effort, those three calendars and the daily list.

So, yeah, I may not know what day it is.

But?  I do know this … God is life-giving.  

shallow focus photography of white daisy
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on

That is not day, time, rhythm dependent.  God is life-giving even in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic.  God is life-giving when the schools have closed; the freeways are eerily wide open; and when we are being asked to sew-at-home masks for medical workers.

God is life-giving.  

This deeply-theological-yet-everyday understanding of God has come up a number of times recently.  And it’s really helping me frame life right now.  To be honest?  This little phrase (my current mantra, if you will …) it’s giving me the hope of Christ.

Because even though it feels like everything is changing?  I keep coming back to this:

God is life-giving.  

People are scared.  People are anxious.  Some are angry.  Some are just numb – still processing and wondering how this all happened so fast.  And?  The one thing that I know how to do in times such as these is to bring people together just as Jesus did.  Jesus’ number one go-to method of healing and nurture; of teaching about God;  was to … GATHER PEOPLE TOGETHER … and we are banned from doing that very thing.  HA!

God is life-giving.  

Because? yeah, we may not be able to gather in the ways that we have been, but it’s not stopping the life-giving God in each of us from connecting or longing to connect.

My text feed is onfire!  I’ve FaceTimed more than I ever have; and I actually meant to (it wasn’t just a misdial on my phone!).  Social media platforms are being used in so many new ways by folks who prior to this? never even had a profile.  Families are eating meals together more than once a week.  Neighbors are chatting — at safe social distances.

God is life-giving.  

Our God-crafted, inborn need to commune with others; over a meal; in worship; in the classroom or at work; in the local park or playground or gym or class … may be stymied right now.  But everywhere, God’s life-giving longing is sprouting forth.

Take a look around you.  Seek to witness this fundamental, deeply-theological-yet-everyday understanding of God.

God is life-giving.  

And, may you be renewed by our life-giving God.

~ pastor melinda

From a distance –

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This prayer is shared with permission from a wonderful resource ,“World in Prayer.”


From a distance the world looks blue and green 

And the snow capped mountains white

From a distance the ocean meets the stream 

And the eagle takes to flight* 

Holy One, during this time of social distancing and lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remind us that we are still connected to one another. We pray for those impacted by travel bans, those unable to connect with loved ones, those who have insurance, those who do not, those who are getting treatment, and all those who cannot get a hospital bed. 

From a distance there is harmony 

And it echoes through the land It’s the voice of hope

It’s the voice of peace 

It’s the voice of every man 

Help us to be the Body of Christ that you call us to be in this moment. 

May we be your hands and feet right now, in neighborhoods, farms and small towns, hospitals and clinics, tribes and large cities as we work to safely feed each other, heal each other, look out for each other, and act as your instruments in this ailing world. 

Be with the very young, the school-age children as they watch this world around them. 

Guide the healers on each continent, in each country, in each city around the globe, and be with them and each of us as we struggle to navigate new things in new ways. Sustain the researchers, virologists, laboratories and medical transport teams. 

From a distance we all have enough

And no one is in need

And there are no guns, no bombs and no disease 

No hungry mouths to feed 

All economies around the world have been terribly affected over these past months. We pray for each of the ways it is impacting the small business owners, investors, our elderly, our homeless, the middle class, all of us in vastly varied ways. May we rebuild together without rank of who is worthiest, but, instead, guided by your light and filled with your love, stronger than we can imagine. 

From a distance we are instruments 

Marching in a common band Playing songs of hope

Playing songs of peace 

They are the songs of every man 

May we hear your songs of hope ringing from the balconies of Italy. May we hear your songs of a common band like the Lummi Nation in the US Pacific Northwest as they have planned for months to protect their members.  May we hear your songs of peace in the “caremongers” of Canada who out of kindness, not fear, have created online groups searching out need (#iso) and/or providing help (#offer). 

May we know that these are the songs of all of us, your beloved children. 

God is watching us

God is watching us

God is watching us from a distance

May God watch over us, and may we watch over one another, from a distance. 


*Excerpts taken from the song, From a Distance (written by Julie Gold, sung by Bette Midler) 

A Humble Heart of Praise

What does the Lord require of you?  Is it different today than it was yesterday?

Or, the real question for me right now:  is it different during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Logistically, yes.  My clergy colleagues, church administrative staff all across the UMC connection … we are all trying to suss out:

  • what do our churches and local communities need?
  • how we do respond to this need?

There has not been one day, (hardly an hour tbh), when we haven’t been discussing the ubiquitous LIVESTREAM worship options or ZOOM or phone trees.  There hasn’t been one day when we haven’t had ideas about food and caring provisions.  There are number of needs, a ka-zillion options already and my head is spinning, I think.  So many options!

And as much as I appreciate all the options?  It’s a joy to see folks helping each other, offering ideas and plans!  I also just have to admit: I get overwhelmed by it all, too.  Because right now? my people-pleasing – my need to serve in my various roles and life – those instincts are on OVERDRIVE.  When that OVERDRIVE kicks in, it can be stymy me-us altogether.  It can stagnate the best of our abilities that would otherwise be helpful, nurturing, and just what is needed – this hour, this day.

So right now, I am turning to the prophet Micah’s ancient wisdom to answer the question, “what does the Lord require of you?”  which is:

“To do justice, and love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” 

For me this morning, that looked like:

  • Sitting down at the table eating breakfast with my kiddos.  Lighting a candle.
  • Reading a chapter in the book of Matthew.  Lighting another candle.  Getting to my yoga mat and practicing.
  • Helping kiddos with schoolwork, including detestable things like working through word problems.
  • Walking the dog and getting us all outside to get needed exercise and for me?  I just need to SEE and FEEL the outside world.

In the hours ahead, I will continue to work through how I can best serve the church and community and my family.  I will continue to sort through options.  But, for today, I am going to cut and paste these verses somewhere so I can return to them.

“To do justice, and love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” 

And I’m going to praise God with this yoga pose that helps me to get out of my head.


Urdjva Hastana (Upward Salute): a pose that teaches extension from the ground up, lengthens the side waist, strengthens arms and shoulders.

1. Stand with feet about hip distance apart.  Ground down throughout your feet.  Inhale and exhale deeply into your entire legs from the waist down, energizing your lower limbs.

2. Tilt your pelvis down toward the heels, and move the tops of the buttocks down.

3. Inhale and extend your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor, lifting them overhead.  Exhale and gently release tension in your shoulders, drawing your shoulder blades back and down, toward your spine.  Open your chest.

4. Continue in this upward arm positions for about 8 breaths, remembering:

  • Root down through your feet.
  • Keep your gaze at the horizon, neck/chin soft, throat open.
  • Inhale: lengthen the sides of your waist and reach up through the crown of your head.
  • Exhale: Gently send strength to your extended arms and be gentle to your shoulders.

5.  On your final exhale, release your arms slowly to the sides.


This is real, friends.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.  ~ Proverbs 3:5-6a (The Message)

These are difficult and delicate times that we are walking through together.  And? oddly enough, it’s not for the reasons that one would suspect, I think.  While the cancellations are disappointing; while the COVID-19 threat seems scary; while my patience is wearing thin of everyone AT HOME (and its ONLY DAY 3!); it’s really none of these that makes the hours tough.  It’s really none of these that are giving me trouble sleeping at night or some bouts of slight vertigo by day.

It’s the unknown.  

It’s the prevalent comments from our leaders … those supposedly IN the know (?) … that seem to always end with  “… from what we know thus far.”  Or start with “So far, from what we know about the virus …”

It’s the unknown.

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Photo by Jens Johnsson on

And I just want to – we all just want to – know.  We are used to knowing.  We are so very, very capable of knowing.  If we don’t know an answer, one of us will seek it out, ask, work on it … until we have answer.  I mean, hello?  WIKIPEDIA.

In my daily practice of this thing called life, I work to turn to my trust over to my higher power, O God do you hear me?, and to take it step-by-ever-loving-step.  I work to follow Jesus (when I remember to stop losing my patience and just breathe), and be comfortable in all this unknown.  Make no mistake, though, it remains WORK for me.

In addition to the Proverbs verses above, I have verse three of the hymn “Just As I Am,” running through my head:

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

This is real, friends.

And right now?  we are being called to two primary things, I trust:

  1. Sitting in the unknown.  Working through our discomfort toward some form of peace in that space of the unknown.  Or let’s be honest?  Maybe we might not get to peace in the unknown … so, maybe we can just acknowledge that it’s hard.  And just allowing that to be where we are.
  2. Helping others in safe, respectful ways to also just sit in the unknown space.  That might look like immediate help with food provisions, or sending a card, or calling someone on that awkward, outdated live phone line.  It might mean being a little more patient with yourself and your loved ones … today, tomorrow …

I am going to work on that first verse from Proverbs: “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.”  

I am going to work at the patience part.

I am going to work on being comfortable for this day, this hour … ok for just this moment – not knowing.

And I’ll get back to you on the next moment.

Because, yeah, this is real and this is work.

~ Pastor M.

St. Patrick’s Prayer. Again and Again.

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Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, also known as The Deer’s Cry or The Lorica, is a traditional Celtic morning prayer of peace, protection, and power.  It is attributed to St. Patrick around the year 377, though exact authorship and date is unknown. It is “written as a hymn calling on Christ to surround the supplicant in all bodily directions and invokes God for protection against [all forms of evil.]”  A few verses of the longer, entire prayer are quite familiar to us today:

Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.  

There is something powerful to repetition, friends.  In some traditions, its power might be expressed in a mantra.  Or, its power could be felt in a sung repetitions such a Gregorian or Hindu chant.  The power in repeating the Lord’s name in this prayer helps me quite a lot.

Prayerful repetition is calming, soothing, reassuring. 

And right now?  We could all use a little calm, a little reassurance.

Do you have just ONE minute?  Try this:

    • Read the St. Patrick’s prayer excerpt.  Once, twice, three times.  Whatever you got.  Just do it:
      • Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.  
    • Got one minute more?  Print it out, and put it by your bathroom mirror or sink, or bedside table.


Do you have FIVE minutes?  Try this:


Do you have 15 minutes?  Try this:

    • Do #2 above and then …  🙂
    • Try this simple, powerful asana: Tedasana: Mountain Pose. 
    • Remove your shoes.  Grab a mat or not.  Maybe light a candle.

Begin at the front of a mat/rug/whatever with feet together, or hip distant apart.  (Feet parallel to the sides of the mat)

Starting at the base of your body, think of yourself as a strong, steady mountain.  You are grounded into the earth through your feet and strong legs as you are ever lifting toward the sky through your sternum and rib cage.

Now, work to:

— Tuck your tail bone under and pelvic bone up

— Strengthen your thighs

— Place your shoulders down and wide, and your sternum up and out to the sky

— Bring your chin parallel to the earth and lower your ribs down.

As you ease into tadasana, continue to calmly check in with your pose, working from your base (grounded feet) up through your legs and thighs; your tail bone and pelvic bowl; your shoulders and ribs; your sternum and your chin.  Slowly and  gently continue check in with your tedasana — ever more, ever gently grounding yourself into the earth below and expanding yourself into the sky above.

Blessings.  I’m breathing, repeating and praying with you.

Peace –

Pastor M.