Thursday, November 30, 2006

Seeds of Hope

How many times have you heard the parable about the Sower? For me, many, many times. From children sermons to seminary classrooms, this parable conjures up various feelings in each of us. This week I have been reading Barbara Brown Taylor's book The Seeds of Heaven. She has a gift of taking scripture and breathing new meaning into a text. I stumbled onto her insight of the parable of the Sower. Her words continue to abound in my heart. They are too good not share with my sparkfly friends. Below are her words: Let those who have ears to hear, hear:

"What if [the parable of the sower] is not about our own successes and failures and birds and rocks and thorns, but about the extravagance of a sower who does not seem to be fazed by such concerns, who flings seed everywhere, wastes it with holy abandon, who feeds the birds, whistles at the rocks, picks his way through thorns, shouts hallelujah at the good soil and just keeps sowing, confident that there is enough seed to go around...

Still laughing and wheezing he went after his seed pouch and began flinging seeds everywhere: into the roots of trees, onto the roof of his house, across all his fences and into his neighbors' fields. The more he sowed, the more he seemed to have. None of it made any sense to him, but for once that did not seem to matter and he had to admit that he had never been happier in all his life."

May we live our lives today, knowing that our extravagant sower never runs out of Holy seed. This is good news today. Amen


P.S. Today, we also want to wish Suzanah a very special and Happy Birthday! We are thankful for your life and the way you inspire us to be women of truth and goodness!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Lately most of my reading is focused on theology of the body for school research. Stephanie Paulsell's book, Honoring the Body, is my current read. In her chapter on clothing the body she writes, "Piercing and tattooing also reflect, for Beaudoin, the failure of contemporary institutions - most notably the church - to provide experiences that are deeply meaningful and so deeply marking."(pg. 64)

Besides baby dedications, baptisms, communion, weddings, and funerals, I don't know of meaningful rituals sponsored by the Church within my tradition. Baby dedications and funerals aren't for the recipient. That means only two or three rituals can be enjoyed by the living.

I am longing for in between rituals that can be shared with a community. I want rituals that mark new beginnings and signify an end.

Do you believe the Church lacks in providing relevant rituals? If so, what are some alternatives we could create? If not, what are you experiencing that I am not?


Calling all New York City connections. Does anyone have a NYC two week apartment connection?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Thanks for submitting your ideas for blog posts. Please continue to comment on possible
topics of conversation.
If any of you are interested in writing for the blog, let us know.

Thanks Mandy for your "two cents" regarding ideal womanhood. For those of you who didn't read it, you can find it under comments on last Monday's post (Nov. 20).

Here's hoping that you each have a wonderful day. It's one of those days where I'm having trouble containing all of my dreams.

"Receive and experience the amazing grace of the master, Jesus Christ, deep, deep within yourselves." Philippians 4:23

Monday, November 27, 2006

Calling All Sparkfly Readers

Sparkfly wants your suggestions for daily posting topics. What would you like to read about and discuss in the upcoming weeks? The sky is the limit. Please let us know your interests. We are open to any and all ideas.

All who comment will receive a personalized prize. Yes, this is a bribe. :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

The smell of homemade yeast rolls and Mom's famous apple pie fill the air. Familiar faces are greeted at the front door with open arms and stories to exchange. Families and friends gather around the common table sharing photos, food and a lifetime of memories.

This time of year we pause for a moment to give thanks. Today, I am thankful for life. I am thankful for another breath and the hope of tomorrow. I am thankful for friends and a loving family. I am thankful for our God who is able to accomplish great things. What do you bring to the table of thanks today? Praise be to God for the continuous gifts in our lives!

Sparkfly wishes you and your family a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. May your harvest table be filled with love and memories to last you a lifetime.

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done."
1 Chronicles 16:8

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Do

In my tradition babies are dedicated. On Sunday night I attended the dedication of a dear friend's baby. After the service I encountered a woman I hadn't seen in twelve years. I told her my name and greeted her. Pleasantries were exachanged and then she asked, "Now what was your maiden name?"

Marriage is deeply connected to my pre-programmed view of ideal womanhood. Mostly we assume that marriage is an inevitable happening in the lives of those around us. When it doesn't happen on the time table expected sometimes it causes tension.

I know several women who are older than me who have never married. I wonder how old they were when people stopped asking them if they were dating anyone? Do people they haven't seen in a while still greet them by grabbing their left hand and inspecting the ring finger? I hope not because it can be very humiliating.

Marriage is sacred and wonderful and a great gift. And so is singleness. I personally am an admirer of both.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ideal Womanhood

Last week's posts and comments reminded us that our life paths are often littered with obstacles. This remark stood out to me,

How do I shake this notion of 'ideal womanhood' that is so ingrained in me that I hardly notice its traces?"

Probably the comment grabbed me because of my own past and current encounters with the issue.

Do any of you struggle with this same concept? If so, how?

To the person who asked this question, do you mean ideal womanhood as ingrained in us by the Church?

Today, embrace who you are as a woman and know that it is God's desire for you to thrive.

"Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah's Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice."
Judges 4:4-5

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Conversation

One day there was a woman talking to God and she said, “Why is it that I can be so sure of what you want me to do in this life and so unsure at the very same time? Why are some days more productive and promising than others? Please don’t tell me it’s because I don’t read my Bible enough or my prayer life stinks.”

God responded, “You probably should read your Bible a little more and memorizing scripture never hurts, but my love for you is not dependent upon prayers or bible verses. My love for you is constant and I can see how the path you mentioned can be thorny. That isn’t purposeful; I promise I’m not trying to trick you. Life on earth is complicated with all of its choices and distractions. What do I always tell you? I am with you always. I am with you even when you aren’t sure of me or the path or whether or not to accept the second date or move home for awhile. I am with you when you don’t realize my power in your life. You are amazing and capable and needed in this world. I know your road blocks. I’ve seen you struggle with them, but tell me about them again. Tell me what's troubling you. We can work through it together.”

You should know that when this conversation takes place in my head God is sitting in an overstuffed, floral print arm chair and I am at God’s feet – maybe even with my head resting on God’s knee. And even though God has heard these words from me a thousand times, God just lets me talk.

It reminds me of Luke 12:32 when Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for God has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.” Little flock sounds like a term of endearment. We are the little flock and God has chosen GLADLY to give us the kingdom. We are the kingdom. Take heart dear sisters. Claim hope for your present and future. God told me to tell you that you are amazing, and capable and needed in this world.


“I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you . . ."
Isaiah 66:13a

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Brings Us Here?

This week has brought numerous changes to my life. My husband and I packed up our cars, our dog, and our dreams and headed for our new home on Long Island, New York. The life and surroundings I knew last week seem distant. Surrounded by change and transition my heart has reveled in nostalgia and awakened to new possibilities.

No one knows me here. To my neighbors I am the mysterious new girl with a Georgia license plate and the goofy yellow lab, Zeke. I can be anyone. If ever there was a moment to re-create myself, now would be the opportune time. Who do I want to be? Am I still following this “Divine Call” that has been placed on my life? If so, how?

These thoughts have flooded my mind throughout the course of each day. In the quiet moments with just me and Zeke, God beckons me to a place I once knew. I am reminded of the journey that physically brought us here. And even more, I am reminded of my faith journey and the people and places that have shaped me into this young woman searching to fulfill a call.

This week we have pondered road blocks and frustrations. Maybe we need to take a moment and reminisce about our first urgings that bring us to this sacred moment. Who was it that first inspired you to make a difference? Was there a special experience that ignited your heart’s desire? Perhaps it was a quiet moment with just you and God. Let us share together in our experiences, and remember that we have the power to be the change agent in someone else’s life today. Travelers on a journey…what brought you here?


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Things to Ponder

Comments from the past couple of days have been powerful. You have brought up some intense road blocks that stifle our hope. What is it that we need to quiet the road blocks? One guess is assurance, but from who and what kind?

Why is it that we continually question our ability to do that which we know God encourages us to do? "Did you really say that God?" "Tell me one more time." And then we sometimes explain away the conversation.

Once I heard someone say that she had misunderstood what God wanted her to do. She was so sure of her future vocation and had taken some great steps to getting there. I watched her journey with excitement. One day she heard a pastor preach on hardship in vocation. The sermon told those listening that the road to ministry wasn't easy and that God's "call" on our lives should create great hardship and difficulties. Ministry meant suffering.

After that sermon my friend decided she couldn't be doing what God truly wanted her to do because she loved it too much. She turned from her intended work, changed her major, and starting working in a ministry she did not enjoy.

There will be difficult days no matter our vocation, but do we truly believe that God intends for us to be unhappy in our service and life's work? God is cheering us on saying, "Go for it! What are your wildest dreams? I created you to fulfill them. Who you are and what you do is important."

Let's continue to discuss the road blocks and what we need to silence them. Do we need to gather every six months as a community to support one another? Do we need to provide listening ears and open arms for encouragement? You are not alone in your questions.


"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think [God will] attend to you, take pride in you, do [God's] best for you?
Matthew 6:30

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Spread Hope

"Is there any hope," is a common question heard while discussing the shortage of health care, education, and economic development throughout many parts of our world. Last week I had lunch with a gifted young woman who is exploring a desire to work in the aftercare field for former women in prostitution. She wanted to be assured that her professional desires could make a difference. Stories were shared regarding the benefits of aftercare programs around the world.

There is hope because of programs like Samaritana in the Philippines,
Hagar in Cambodia, and Star Light Ministries in the US.

There is also hope because of the ministry pursuits of a focused young woman from Kentucky. God continues to speak to people. I pray that my new friend left our lunch meeting with as much excitement as I did. The fact that God has spoken so specifically to her gives me great hope.

Trust your dreams and the power of your God to give them to you. Spread hope.


"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
Philippians 1:20 NIV

Monday, November 13, 2006

Reasons to Hope

This week we are exploring reasons to hope. It is no secret that at times our world and all that we hope to accomplish within it seems overwhelming. Can we really make a difference? Sparkfly says yes.

Here are some common road blocks that some young women face while trying to make a difference:
Student loan debt.
Unsupportive family members.
Lack of specialized (in your field) seminary classes.
The what if obstacles . . . what if I never get married, what if I never have children, what if I can't have it all, what if this is the dumbest idea ever, what if this is a big mistake, what if no one will pay me to do this.
The "it would be so much easier to just live a "normal" life argument.
And the ever present, "I have no money, oh my word," issue.

What else would you add to the list of road blocks/obstacles along the journey?

All of the above concerns are valid. The issues are real and the questions are scary. Let's offer hope to one another about how to get to the other side. Sometimes knowing that others face similar challenges can be comforting.

Today's message of hope comes from Philippians 1:6:
"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears."
The Message


Editors' Note

Dear Spark Flies:
Due to technical (and not so technical) difficulties there was no post this past Friday. Hopefully this will not be a common occurrence. Hopefully you had a great day filled with goodness and excitement about the weekend to come.

Sparkfly Editors

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Express Yourself

Casey Parks is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Missouri. She recently won a contest sponsored by the NY Times. The award was a trip to Africa with journalist Nicholas D. Kristof.

This week the NY Times is offering a free trial of their Times Select feature which can be found on line. Click here to read Casey Park's blog postings that discuss her trip with Kristof.

Below is an excerpt from her September 27 post. The written word is powerful. Consider taking a writing or journalism class to improve your skills as an author. The world needs our votes and our voices.

Casey Parks
On the Ground with Nicholas D. Kristof
The Unknown Story

I keep thinking about the stories I didn’t write.

There wasn’t time, I tell myself, and really, there wasn’t. We had so many bad roads to drive to get to the next place. And it takes time even just to start one story. We’d pull off a red clay road, randomly, and walk up to a village, waving and saying hello.
Those first few moments always scared me the most. “Okay,” I’d tell myself. “Speak French; speak French.”

Everyone in those countries shakes hands, often using both of their hands. I shook so many sweaty, work-hardened hands. I shook the hands of people I never really spoke to beyond “Bonjour.” I felt them envelop my one small hand with two of theirs. Soon I began shaking with both of my hands, too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


What inspires us?1 Take a moment to consider things that have been inspirational to you today. Was it lunch with a friend, the beauty of creation, an exuberant 11 year old who sees no limits, or a phone call to your mom that ended with good news? Cherish that which inspires, and if it happens to be a human being, tell her or him that you are thankful for the gift.

Today's election week story comes from Panama City, Florida where one of the local school board races was extremely close. An incumbent school board member lost by one vote. Every vote counts. And so do you.

Be inspiring,

1 Thanks to Natalie M. for the question.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Some may have noticed that Sparkfly postings are a little sporadic these days. While in Prague it was easy to post well before most folks were up in the morning (thanks to the seven hour time difference for those on Central). Now that I'm back and traveling, I don't have a consistent internet connection or schedule. Yesterday I posted from Borders in Atlanta, GA and today from a friend's house in Birmingham, AL.

Things have been busy for Lori too. She and Jacob are getting ready for a big move this upcoming weekend. I will let her tell you the full story. It is an exciting one.

It's election result time and we are sitting around the tv watching the returns. Thanks for the comments from yesterday's post. Thanks for voting. If you didn't vote, there is always next year! Hey, if you register to vote Sparkfly will send you something. We're not sure what, but it will be fun so let us know.

Loving the 19th amendment,

Monday, November 06, 2006


"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex . . . ," so states the nineteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution.1

Twenty million single women didn't vote in the last presidential election. Tomorrow is election day and Sparkfly calls upon our single and married readers to get out and vote. Recent conversations with my young, intelligent, twenty something friends have revealed a startling fact - they aren't voting. They tell me it's not because they don't think it's important.

If they know it is important, then why aren't they voting? Did you vote in the last election? If no, why not? What can be done to encourage the act?

Let's start having after voting parties. Consider hosting one tomorrow night. Order pizza, bake cookies, eat ice cream, watch Iron Jawed Angels, just get out and vote! Your voice is needed.


Today is Baptist Women's Day of Prayer.

Friday, November 03, 2006

What a Magnificent Girl You Are

It's Friday and words are a dime a dozen. So, I will close this week's theme with a short, but important message. Believe in the beauty of who you are. Whether it is your great hair, fabulous personality, lovely eyes, quick wit, gorgeous skin, sincere listening skills, superb sense of style, warm embrace, elegant height, or capturing presence, you are beautiful. You add to the brilliance of the earth. Walk confidently in who you are.

PS Watch out for random fruit pickers!

Song of Soloman 7 is listed in the photo.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Culture Shock

Magazines are a treat I allow myself during long days of airline travel. This past Monday I flew home from Prague and anxiously anticipated the magazine store in the Newark airport. "Hmmm, only choose two. Pace yourself," I said.

Marie Claire and Oprah prevailed. Marie Claire has not been in my travel purchase top spot for over a year now. In the past there was a monthly international women's issue feature that justified the acquisition. This month my reason included knowing someone who was going to be featured in the magazine.

Flipping through the pages looking for my friend, which I never found, created an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Headlines including, "20 Things to Get Before 40" and "What $100 is Worth Across the Globe" covered the pages. Apparently, in Hong Kong a pair of Levi's costs $100. That same $100 will buy rent for seven hours in a one-bedroom condo in Manhattan. It was never mentioned that, according to the World Bank, 1.2 billion people are estimated to live on less than $1 per day.1

My comments are intended for observation, not judgment. After all, I am the one who purchased two magazines that cost me seven times the amount that many live on in one day. But why does our country seem to be so beauty and finances obsessed? What are we missing that we think can be purchased or created in a look? Page 113 suggests that the number one thing I should get before I'm 40 is a YSL tux for women. Well, now that seems like a fabulous idea! What on earth would I do with a $3,560 tux? Unless it walks over to me on the body of the yet to be discovered man of my dreams, I don't think I'm interested.

There was a glimmer of hope when I turned to the article titled, "What I Love About Me." 15 women were asked for a beauty statement and described what they liked about themselves. Shari said, "I had my lips tattooed, but I'd never do my brows. As your face ages, you never know where they'd end up!" Ky's statement, "I have my father's black eyes but I bought these gray contacts and think it's a more interesting look." No! Why cover up what is uniquely you?

Maybe my rantings are a result of reverse culture shock. It's pretty typical for me after being away from our consumer driven economy. Maybe by next month I will have adjusted and placed the tux on my Christmas list. It might be the most elegant and amazing look created.

Regardless, next time I'm buying Budget Travel.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


"Only 2% of women globally consider themselves beautiful."
Can this statistic be accurate? Standards of beauty are extremely different throughout the world. The amateur researcher in me wonders what methods were used to gather information pertaining to a global response to beauty. The minister in me worries it might be true.

How can we help the girls and young women around us maintain a healthy self-esteem? It is hard to cultivate positive self esteem in others when we don't have it ourselves. Know yourself, believe in yourself, love yourself. But how?