Saturday, November 07, 2009

It is what it is...

Matt and I were going to spend the day running errands and having fun. Church bazaar, bank, license plates, shopping, movie, was going to be wonderful. I seem to love days like that more and more lately. If I'm out and about I don't have to think about how I'm feeling and what's really happening in this broken heart of mine.

I look back over the past three months, and realize that my spending has gotten out of control; my house is out of control; I AM OUT OF CONTROL. I haven't been returning phone calls. I procrastinate more than usual. I don't keep up with my housework. I hardly ever cook. My mind is always looking for something to do whether it's paint my nails a new color, rearrange a room, read a book or play a video game. Everything in me seems to not want to sit still and just be.

Sometimes I find myself surprised at the memories of our pregnancy and miscarriage. I think that I have taken the easy way out, and convinced myself that they never happened at all. I think I have tried to just rewind my mind to the time when we were having trouble getting pregnant. At times I'd much rather be there than here - on the other side where grief is waiting to take over.

A good friend came to stay with us for a couple days this week. She is pregnant with a baby that is due to be born just over a week after Squooshy was due. I tried to mentally prepare myself for her visit. I knew it would be difficult to see her knowing that I would be right around where she is in her pregnancy. She is so easy to talk to about the little things, the big things, the hard things, the fun was really great to be with her! We definitely didn't avoid talking about our babies. We talked a lot about both of our experiences, and were able to cry together and laugh together over all that these pregnancies have brought into our lives. We shopped for her little Nugget, and we found some great maternity clothes for her. I was so proud of myself for keeping my emotions in check, and was definitely sad to see her go yesterday.

Today I woke up to Mother Nature's more-than-clear (thankyouverymuch) sign that I am not pregnant. We left this morning to start our day-of-fun, and started with the license branch. After our short visit there, I told Matt that I needed to run back home to get some "supplies" for my present physical condition. He decided to balance the checkbook while I took care of my business. He quickly came to the conclusion that we should probably just stay home today. Our finances are tight. I've spend three months indulging in retail therapy, and it's quickly catching up with us. It had to happen sooner or later, right? Someday I was actually going to have to face my life instead of run from it.

We have plenty of things here to keep us entertained: video games, board games, books, DVD's, etc. We could even work on the house or take a walk (it's a beautiful day here). I don't want to do any of it. I keep saying that I'm bored, but I think the truth is that I'm feeling depressed today. I've spent a lot of time avoiding myself these past few months, and now I am running out of places to hide.

I'm not sure what to do now that I've admitted this to myself (and to the rest of you). I thought that writing this down would make me feel a little better, but it hasn't. Maybe all we can do is pray...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Almost Paradise...

Today would have been my Grandpa Chet’s 85th birthday. He’s been gone for 22 years now, yet sadness still seems to wash over me when I think about him. I was young when he passed, but I remember loving every minute I got to spend with him.

The song “Almost Paradise” from Footloose always reminds me of Grandpa. He once told my mom that it was the only “rock” song he ever liked! As I was listening to music during my long commute this morning, “Almost Paradise” came around on the iPod. I immediately remembered that today was Grandpa’s birthday, and wanted to spend some time remembering him...

  • I remember spending the night with Grandma Alice and Grandpa Chet. They had a huge bed! My parents only had a double bed, so it was a special treat to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa and get to sleep in the “Super Bed!” I think it was a king bed…it felt like it took up the entire room! I remember what the house smelled like as we got up in the morning and started getting ready. It was the perfect combination of a fresh shower, toothpaste and brewing coffee. Their house was right near a Dunkin Donuts, and I remember Grandpa bringing home blueberry cake donuts for us.
  • I remember watching game shows like The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune with my Grandparents. I seem to remember Grandpa especially liking Wheel of Fortune…I think he had a thing for Vanna White!
  • Grandma and Grandpa used to have these chairs at their dining room table that were brown leather, no armrests, and they SPUN! I would love sitting in those chairs, and having Grandpa spin me around and around and around!
  • I think Grandpa really loved sweets, because he was always spoiling us with cookies and candy! Those Keebler fudge covered cookies always remind me of him.
  • Grandpa was a car salesman – Oldsmobiles for as long as I could remember, although I’m sure he sold others earlier in his life. I remember visiting his dealership, and getting Chicklets out of the gum machine!
  • Grandpa ALWAYS had a camera! I remember him with his camcorder and Polaroid. We loved that Polaroid – we couldn’t wait to shake those pictures! He must have loved his family so much to want to capture us all on film all the time.
  • I remember going shopping with him one day. I think we were at the mall, because I remember the store we were in as a department store. I found a sweater that I really liked, and he bought it for me. I was in 1st grade when he died, and I kept that sweater until I was at least in 5th grade. I couldn’t bear to get rid of it. He was such a generous man.
  • I remember the day that he died. I was home with Dad, and Kelly and Robert (who were 4 and 1) were playing in Robert's playpen. I answered the phone when it rang, and sensed immediately that something was wrong. Mom was on the other end of the line asking for Dad. I remember refusing to let her talk to him until she told me what was wrong. I cried and cried when she finally told me, and I remember feeling upset with Kelly because she didn't seem to notice that I was crying.

We all miss Grandpa. We talk about him often at family gatherings. There is a portrait of him in my Grandma’s house that looks over us all as we celebrate Christmas and birthdays. He has been gone for a long time, and I am sad that so many of my younger cousins never got to be with him. It occurs to me now, though, that Grandpa still lives on with us…through us. My mother has his jubilant spirit and dedicated work ethic. My aunts Gwen and Gayle have his generosity. My uncle Dan has his quick, infectious smile, and my aunts Janice and Janine have his fun-loving attitude. Grandpa may be gone, but he is definitely not forgotten.

Some of my family members read this blog. If you’re here today, please take a minute to share some of your favorite Chet memories! Let’s remember him today…


    • Gayle Richards Disbro
      Katie, that was such a beautiful tribute to dad. You got me tearing up again. YOU are such a beautiful person and he would be sooo proud of you. Yes, I miss him and talk with him every day in my prayers. I believe he is still here with us all.
      I see a lot of him in all of us. I liked how you distributed his special traits in all of us. He had so many.
      SPECIAL TIMES WITH DAD -- Sandy Beach, Easter Sundays, Christmas, Birthdays, New Year's Eve, Lunch at L. S. Ayres, Lunch at Allison Gas Turbine, Lunch at Rolls Royce, Lunch at Dick Hunt Chevrolet & Accapoco Joe's, Boydens Bakery, Richards Reunions, Teaching me to water ski, Drive-in Movies, Going to State Fair in a Pink Surrey with a Fringe on Top, AND MOSTLY, EVERYDAY LIFE WITH HIM!!
      Much Love Dad!
      October 19, 2009 at 10:31am ·
    • Gwen Richards White
      Katie, that was such a wonderful tribute to Dad....but it is hard for me to write with tears in my eyes as I think about him today on his 85th birthday! There is so much that I remember about him & I could write on forever. He truly loved his family & adored our beautiful mother! I just wish my grandchildren would have had the opportunity to spend time with him. Some of the things I remember most were his love of boating & the water; how he always brought home sweets & shared them with us; teaching me how to drive but not until I was 18; standing at the door when I came home late from a date; sitting at the table in the late evenings eating crackers in milk after a long day at the dealership; our vacations, especially to Gray Goose Lodge with the Ringenbergers; but mostly our Christmases.....he always made them so special & fun! "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD" I love you & miss you so much!
      October 19, 2009 at 2:09pm ·
    • Janine Richards Lilly Thank you for this Katie. So many memories of my awesome dad. Everyone LOVED him and he taught us all the importance of family. He could get anyone to do anything, a real sales guy. But my most special moment was our father-daughter dance at my wedding. I wouldn't trade that memory for anything in the world. It WAS paradise.
      October 19, 2009 at 2:40pm ·
    • Gloria Richards Kermeen That's my girl, Katie. Way to start blogging again. My special memory? Telephone calls. I can still hear his voice, saying, "Gloria!" with such excitement that I was on the other end. My other special memory is the day Robert was born. In those days no one but the father could be anywhere nearby, but my Dad hung around and sweet-talked his way into the recovery room. No one could say no to Chet Richards - they were putty in his hands.
      October 19, 2009 at 4:44pm ·
    • Alli Richards Makes me sad, wish i could have met him! :( happy birthday grandpa!
      October 19, 2009 at 6:32pm ·
      October 19, 2009 at 6:54pm ·
    • Nicole Richards
      So, I remember many of those things... the brown leather, spinning chairs! The polaroid camera. The HUGE bed that took up the whole room. I remember cookies in a red and yellow package. And unfortunately, the day mom and dad came to pick me up from school the day that he died :(
      Sure do miss him, but was so lucky to know him.
      October 19, 2009 at 8:26pm ·
    • Samantha Lilly awhhl.
      October 21, 2009 at 4:11pm ·
    • Katie Kermeen Swisher
      Here's an e-mail Mom got from Cousin Barb:

      Dear Wonderful Cousin Gloria

      Thank you so much for sharing Katie's and the other remembrances of Uncle Chet. I, too, have wonderful memories of your father and would like to share just a few with you.

      I remember when we were getting ready to move to Florida and we bought a 1956 Buick from him when he worked at Monarch Buick. It was really funny when we were all in the car getting ready to take a test drive. As we started out the door, there was a raggedy older woman standing there with a wagon full of newspapers. All of a sudden, my Dad yell, "Duck" because he did not want us to be recognized by that woman selling papers. Uncle Chet said, "I don't know who that woman is, she hangs around here all the time. Well, long story short--that was "Cousin Lulie" a distant cousin on my Dad's side of the family. We never let Uncle Chet know that she was a relative. Anyway, we moved to Florida in that car in 1957. When I graduated from college and began teaching, my Dad gave me the Buick to use as a trade in on a red mustang--my very first car.

      I remember when your Dad conned us into taking a "hike" down Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. It really was a lot of fun and a LOT of exercise. I was smart enough, however, to bring some change in my pocket and when we got to the bottom of the mountain, I went into the Lodge and called Bud to come pick us up.

      One time when you parents were here, I lent my Olds to you Dad. The front seat was broken (won't tell you how it got broken). Do you know that he took my car to King Olds and had that seat repaired for me.

      I remember when he came to Tallahassee when I received my doctorate. He brought you Mom and Grandma, and Katie, who was toddler. We had a great time and I remember him laughing so hard when I provided some entertainment at a get together at my place. I was doing a one-man band playing a harmonica, and a washboard. I had Mom join in with a Bombay Taxi Horn. We were doing, "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain." Well, Mom could not get her part right--failing to "Honk" at the right times. I thought that we were going to have to carry Uncle Chet out. He always enjoyed the setting that he was in.

      I get to have a few more memories---just because I am 67!!! Watching you Dad go through the Candy Barrel in Valle Crucis, North Carolina was a thing to behold. He got some--no---lots of every kind of candy they had. He came away with grocery bags full of candy. After that, all the years we vacationed in NC, including on our way home from our last trip to Indy, we always recalled your Dad roaming freely through the Candy Barrel and hitting every fudge shop within a 20 mile radius of Sugar Mountain.

      Gloria, I have nothing but wonderful memories of Uncle Chet. He was truly fun to be with and he always made sure that everyone had a good time. He is truly missed but he will always live in our hearts through the beautiful memories that he left with us. The very best that he left, however, are my beautiful cousins, Gwen, Gayle, Gloria, Janice, and Janine. He lives through you all. Happy Birthday, Uncle Chet.

      Love To All
      Cousin Barb
      October 22, 2009 at 5:03pm ·
    • Gloria Richards Kermeen She mentioned later that she forgot Danny when she listed her cousins.

My apologies...

I have been gone for quite some time. I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I'm actually fairly certain there aren't many of you left to read what I'm writing now! It's been a rough few months for us. If you haven't heard, you can read all about it here. I am going to try to get this blog going again now. Seems like when things fall apart, my writing is the last piece to be picked up. Hope you all stick around!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane...

Tomorrow morning I will be leaving for Atlanta for a week-long class at Candler Seminary. I'm a member of PAUMCS - the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries - and this class is a certification institute. I'm not entirely sure what we will be learning, but MONTHS ago (when I signed up) I was sure I wanted to do it. Granted, I didn't know then that I would be a pregnant, tired, nauseous mess now, but I still want to participate in the class.

I hate to fly. I know the statistics say that I'm safer in the air than I am on the ground, but I still don't like to fly. Gravity and I have an understanding. I am a large woman, and as such, gravity makes sure that I am as close to the ground as possible at all times. Defying this arrangement seems unnatural, thus filling any time I spend on a plane with anxiety. Also - I had a really rough flight on the way to New Orleans earlier this year - one in which I was SURE the plane was going down, and I spent the better part of the flight clinging to my sister in fright and praying incoherently out loud - so flying REALLY doesn't sit well with me right now. Then take into account the fact that I am pregnant, and this has somehow created an anxious beast inside what was already an anxious beast, and get the picture. Tomorrow will be hell.

I hate being away from Matt - especially now that I am having this baby. I will miss him terribly, and will count down the days until Saturday when he pics me up at the airport in Indy. I'm nervous about having to be alert all day every day for 6 days straight. I've been so tired and sick lately, that I've been spending a lot of time in bed. This week will definitely be hard! I'm just hoping to get some good shopping in, learn a lot in class, and make some good friends with my other classmates.

Okay - I have to pack now. We'll see if I get time to blog in ATL. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Swisher Factory...

The Swisher Factory is open for business!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tonight in Hillsboro...

Tonight in a tiny town called Hillsboro...

-As I complained about swollen ankles and an empty stomach, she succumbed to the cancer that ravaged her young body.

-As I mindlessly thought ahead to tomorrow night's plans with my mother, sister and grandmother, her children and siblings were struggling to imagine what life would be like tomorrow without her.

-As I watched the clock in anticipation of going home to snuggle in bed with my husband, her husband was kissing the love of his life goodbye.

I'm so sad tonight at the death of one of our church members. Certainly to us it seems as though her life was much too short. Our feeble minds try unsuccessfully to understand the purpose and meaning behind such a cruel death. I am trying to remember that death is really just another part of life. I am not naive enough to think that any one of us is lucky enough, rich enough or strong enough to cheat death, so why is it still so hard to lose the people we love? Perhaps it reminds us of all that we have yet to do and say. It reminds us of wrongs that we have yet to right - or rights we want to right again.

Being in ministry during times like these always seems hard. I watch as Matt walks along side these friends of ours, and see how much it affects him. He may not have the overflow of emotions like I do, but the pain he experiences with these families is plain to see.

We must have faith, though, that God is true to His word; that He works in all things for GOOD. It's not good that this friend is gone, but we KNOW that God will work in this situation for GOOD. He always does - and we know that He will continue to do so. I am thankful tonight that this woman knows the lord, and that tonight she is with him in paradise. For Christians, death is always a sad thing, but we rejoice in the fact that this is NOT THE END. There is something more - something better - waiting for us.

I am mourning for this family tonight friends. My heart breaks for them....

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

-Casting Crowns

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast with Powdered Sugar and Strawberries

Apparently this is a big hit, so I'm putting down the recipe for you all to have and enjoy. Just be forewarned: I don't usually cook from a recipe, so these measurements are approximate. Feel free to put your own spin on it! The name is really misleading, because I technically didn't stuff anything. It's more like a French Toast Sandwich, but whatever...

Here's what you'll need:
8 slices Texas Toast (or another thickly sliced bread)
4 large eggs
2-3 tablespoons of milk (although, I was out of milk, so I used coffee creamer!)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 brick cream cheese - room temperature (you can put it in the microwave on defrost for a few minutes to soften it up if you don't want to wait)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1-2 cups cut strawberries - depending on your taste

Crack the eggs into a bowl that is big enough to dip your bread into. Beat the eggs with a wire whisk, add milk and cinnamon, and beat some more. Dip your bread into the egg mixture, making sure to coat both sides of the bread. Lay the bread on a griddle that has been heated over medium-high heat (make sure you spray your pan with cooking spray!). Keep an eye on your bread, and flip the slices as they become golden brown. Burnt toast isn't as good (and it makes your smoke alarm pretty upset too).

In another bowl (or your stand mixer if you have one) mix the cream cheese and sugar together until the mixture comes to a nice, smooth consistency. I love my stand mixer for this, but if you don't have one, just be patient - it will come together before you know it.

Once your toast is done, take two slices and spread the cream cheese mixture between them - like you're making a peanut butter sandwich. I like a lot of the cream cheese on mine, so I used probably around 2 tablespoons for each sandwich. You use what you like. Sprinkle the powdered sugar over the french toast, and top with strawberries.

This would be really good with blueberries, raspberries or cherries too! You don't really need syrup on this, but if you want to add that, it's up to you. might be yummy to try adding cocoa into the cream cheese mixture, making a chocolate cream cheese french toast....I'll have to try that one next time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TUESDAY TUNES - "You Are the Woman"

I know - I missed last Tuesday. I'm sorry. Last week was CRAZY! Here's what our week looked like: Gatlinburg, Lexington/Wilmore, Indianapolis, Veedersburg, Noblesville, Veedersburg, back to Noblesville, back home to Veedersburg. WHEW! Throw in my trip to the emergency room in Noblesville Wednesday night, and you've got yourself a BUSY WEEK! I'm sure this sounds like a bunch of excuses, but get over it. It's my blog, and if I want to miss a week, I can do that. :)

Today's song is really special to me for a lot of reasons. This is a song that I remember hearing a lot when I was growing up. My mom would sing this song to me when I was little, and I remember hearing this album playing often at our house.

A couple years ago I took part in a spritual direction retreat led by my friend Peg in Wilmore. I signed up for the retreat without knowing a lot about it. I showed up not knowing a soul. I was the only woman there who wasn't a student at the seminary, and I felt COMPLETELY out of place.

I'm not sure I can put into words exactly what this retreat was like. I imagine it was different for all of us. At some point during the weekend, we each got a chance to "work" through issues that God wanted to deal with, and we were guided by Peg (and the Holy Spirit of course) through this process in a loving way. It was totally amazing. I know it sounds wild and a little crazy, but just trust me on this one.

I was the last girl to "work" that weekend. I remember sitting through the whole retreat, and wondering what it was that God wanted to work through with me. My marriage? My family? My discipline (or lack therof)? I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but something inside of me was stirring - I knew God had an issue He needed to bring to my attention.

I sat down in that circle of women - nervous as anything - and I tried to steer the conversation towards the issue I finally decided I wanted to work on. We talked for some time, and sensing that this was the wrong topic, Peg asked me to close my eyes, and ask Jesus what He wanted to work through. I closed my eyes, and the memory of a familiar photograph flashed in my mind. It was a photograph I had looked at thousands of times before, but I hadn't seen it in years. It was my high school boyfriend's sophomore yearbook picture.

I remember squinting my eyes and shaking my head - almost as if I was trying to push the memory away. Peg (she's just so intuitive) asked what I saw, and when I told her, she knew that we had to found our issue.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here about what happened. He's not a caveman - he knows how to use the internet and he may someday find this little blog of mine. We have a lot of mutual friends still, and I don't want to dredge up old drama. I won't even give his first name, because honestly, you don't really care.

We dated for a little more than 18 months. We fell in love (as much as 15 year olds can), spent all our time together, had lots of fun, and made a LOT of mistakes. He ended the relationship, and I really did not take it well (understatement of the millenium). He ended up dating a really good friend of mine not too long after that, so that threw our group of friends into a tailspin of drama; sides were chosen, people felt victimized, and we all felt like our little world was crashing down on us (or maybe it was just me). We continued a physical relationship - even though we both were dating other people - and I continued to believe in my teenaged brain that we would be together in the end. Young love is so brutal, isn't it? Oy - if only I knew then what I know now. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and I definitely see how God worked in my life to bring me through that muck and mire to the point I am today. I wasn't a Christian at the time, and I only knew Matt as a friend, but God used this situation to bring Matt and I together as best friends, and used Matt to steer me towards the Lord. I am so thankful that God works in every situation for good.

Anyway - back to the retreat. We worked on lingering issues I had from this tumultuous relationship. Issues that seriously affected my sexuality, my self-esteem, my relationship with my husband, and my relationship with God. It was an amazing time for me - so healing and wonderful!

After we had finished, we were praying together as a group. As these women came around me to pray over me, God brought this song to my mind. I remember hearing the lyrics, "You are the woman that I've always dreamed of. I knew it from the start. I saw your face, and that's the last I've seen of my heart." It was almost as if God were singing it to me!

I remember thinking that no one would ever love me as much as that boyfriend once had. Then - years later - I discovered that Matt loved me more. That day, as I heard this song playing in my head, I knew that God loved me even more than Matt could ever dream. He really is the lover of my soul, and although He began wooing me years ago, that day was the day I realized that THIS was the romance of my life. This is like, OUR song...God's and mine. I really think that when I get to heaven, Jesus will be there waiting to dance with me to this one!

With that being said, enjoy "You Are the Woman" by Firefall. This is from their first album, and if you don't own it, you should! This isn't the only good song on the album.

You are the woman that I've always dreamed of
I knew it from the start
I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart

It's not so much the things you say to me
It's not the things you do
It's how I feel each time you're close to me
That keeps me close to you, woh oh

You are the woman that I've always dreamed of
I knew it from the start
I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart

It's not so much your pretty face I see
It's not the clothes you wear
It's more that special way you look at me
That always keeps me there, woh oh

You are the woman that I've always dreamed of
I knew it from the start
I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart

It's hard to tell you all the love I'm feelin'
That's just not my style
You got a way of send my senses reelin'
Every time you smile, woh

You are the woman that I've always dreamed of
I knew it from the start
I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart
(I saw your face and that's the last I've seen of my heart)
Of my heart, oh, of my heart

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What are YOU looking for???

I read a magazine article tonight listing 10 Things Every Traveler Should Do. At the end of the article, the author posed a question that I found interesting:

"What else are we looking for in travel (and in love and in life) but a tasty mix of the strange and the familiar?"
From "10 Things Every Traveler Should Do" by Pico Iyer in Real Simple magazine, June 2009

Your thoughts??? Comment below...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

TUESDAY TUNES - Discover your own!

I have been away at a conference for work, and will be leaving tomorrow for vacation with Matt's family. I have hardly had time to listen to myself think lately, let alone listen to music! I hate that I don't have a Tune for you today, but I want you to go out and discover your own Tuesday Tune today!

Have you heard of Pandora? It's a great website - especially if you like to discover new artists. It's so easy: go to, enter the name of an artist you enjoy, and a station will be created just for you according to your tastes! You can tell Pandora if you like a song (thumbs-up) or not (thumbs-down), and Pandora will continue to hone the station for you. I love it! Because of Pandora, I have discovered the Wailin Jennys, Sugarland, Mick McAuley, and lots of others.

Go there. Enjoy some Tunes this fine Tuesday. Hopefully I'll be back with a fabulous road trip song for you. I'll be looking for inspiration as we drive to Gatlinburg and back this week!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Caution Tape


I am so excited to be able to share these following words with you. Ted Lyddon Hatten is the Conference Artist for the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. We were blessed to have him speak at our PAUMCS conference this week in Des Moines. I was so moved by these words, that I e-mailed Ted, and asked if he would mind sending me the statement. He was very gracious to share this with me. The first part explains a little about the art he created, and the rest is a beautiful, haunting statement for you to read and meditate on. Enjoy...

The artwork for the PAUMC gathering was created to be part of a larger installation for the 2005 Iowa Annual Conference Session. Our theme that year was Stewards of Creation. In addition to these three images, I incorporated sod and caution tape in various locations throughout venue. The following words served as my artist statement. tlh

They call it caution tape and it is intended to be noticed. Yellow with black letters – Police use it to cordon off a crime scene. Construction workers use it to mark off an area in need of repair. You are supposed to see it, to take note, take caution.

If your eyes are open you will see the caution tape around here and what it surrounds. It is sod; grass. There are seven circles of sod – four in the building and three elsewhere. It is up to you to decide if the sod enclosed by the caution tape is a crime scene or an area in need of repair. If it is a crime scene you’ll want to be careful not to touch it – you wouldn’t want to leave fingerprints. It’s the oil that does you in. The oil. That’s why fingerprints can be left on a wet glass. It’s the oil. And you need a solvent to dissolve oil. Petroleum distilled and refined works well. Wipe down what you touch and not even of trace of you will remain. It is also handy as a fuel for the combustion engine in your car, your SUV, and your RV. With gasoline we can go wherever we want in speed and comfort.

“Sovereign God, when we look upon the heavens, at all of creation, and we see the work of your fingers.”

“Stewards of Creation” is our theme for this year’s Annual Conference.

Adam and Eve were the first stewards of creation and they have taught us well. They did not ask to be made but made they were. Made in God’s image which means they were hungry. They found themselves in a garden that had everything they needed – including limits. Abundance beyond the need to measure. And they were told by their Creator to “till and to keep that garden.” Translated another way – they were told to serve the land – to be servants of the land.

I believe the future of this planet hinges on the order of those words.

And they were also told that if they honor their appetites – honor, elevate, obey their appetites they will have open eyes to see the death they have brought.

But the fruit forbidden was ripe – a delight to their eyes and they were surprised that it hung so low – so easy to reach. And with their emerging vision – just before they sank their teeth in the fruit they saw God’s fingerprints.

Hanging over the chancel for these 3 days is a triangular prism that depicts the four elements around which each of our major worship services is built. Fire, air, water, earth. The Fire is the light that shines within just as the light burns, shines within everything that lives.

Air is the side dominated by a Great Blue Heron. Her eyes are locked in on one of two things; Either danger to her offspring or food. It is possible, I suppose, that she is sizing up the fish in the adjacent panel though they nearly out-weigh her. But I think the former is more likely the truth. She has spotted danger.

In the Water swim three fish. They are either trying in vain to blend in with their surroundings or they too bear the fingerprints of a Creator apparently obsessed with color.

The water looks like the air in the other panels and the plowed ground resembles the ocean floor and the marsh and this is quite intentional. The ecosystems that enable life here are infinitely complex and intimately connected one to another. The chemicals we apply to the land end up in our water. The waste we belch into the air falls down onto the land.

The land, of course is our home and our destination. We know it well – it feeds us, shelters us, holds our roots in place and gives us life. The apple in the center of the Land panel has a pattern that, with your emerging vision, you will find in the Air and Water panels as well.

But it is tempting. Tempting to reverse the order of the words spoken to Adam and Eve by God. To act as if the land is here to serve us. Tempting to honor our appetites. Tempting to continue to repeat the sin that stopped being original a long time ago.

As the juice ran down the chin and neck of Eve and Adam – so too does the crude oil run down our chin and our neck. Our combustion engines take us from place to place with speed and comfort but petroleum, refined and distilled, is also an effective solvent. And with it, we are erasing fingerprints of the Divine.

We are stewards of creation. Each of us is called in many ways – a blend of vocations unique to us – as original as the patterns on the pads of our fingers. But to be a steward of creation – that is a calling that falls equally on us all. No one is ordained or consecrated or set apart for the roll of Steward of Creation. We are all called to this ministry.

But if we are unable or unwilling to answer that call faithfully then the sod and the earth it comes from is indeed a crime scene.

The Heron has spotted the danger to her offspring and her eyes are locked in on us.

Should we find a way to answer that call and become faithful servants of creation -

should we find a way to honor God rather than our appetite

then our already opened eyes will see Divine fingerprints

and Divine presence everywhere we look.

And we will hear the echo of God’s voice;

“It is good.”


Ted Lyddon Hatten

Conference Artist

Iowa Annual Conference