Sunday, August 29, 2010

and just like that... my runnin' days were over and i went home to alabama...

rifts happen. changes happen. i am not sure if anyone knows the whole story. i wonder if anyone EVER knows the whole story of any story.

this short blog has been private because i just wanted to document for myself the journey i took unexpectedly into organized religion and into volunteer public speaking. i was touched by a spirit that seemed to have been waiting for me. i just wanted to remember. i wanted to look back and remember. remember the feeling coming over me when inspiration actually would flood my senses. as my bare feet felt the floor under the cross once more today... one last time, i realized that this "history" didn't belong just to me. it belongs to everyone who witnessed, who participated, who cried, who laughed, who understood, who sat quietly listening and perhaps took something home to find something later that might have been relevant to them. and to all of us who have begun the grieving process of losing a community we loved so very much. so i dedicate this blog to the loving hearts of the UCC Contemporary service. walk with God my friends, you will be in my heart forever.

Today I said goodbye...

One more time, I stand barefoot below this cross-surrounded by a circle of some of the dearest people I have ever known.

2 years ago, I was content to sit on my couch and believe I was going to hell. I had made my peace with it. But my partner Gina hadn't quite given up her own search for spiritual significance in her life. She chose this church, I didn't want her to go alone so I came with her. But seriously, I was really just going for the beer and peanuts.

But God touched me here. I owe Gina so much for bringing me on her journey, putting me in my right place at my right time.

I know that our feelings about our services are as diverse and unique as we are as individuals. But one thing I know is that we will all make our paths forward, with integrity, mirroring the peace and the love of Christ.


that though the radiance which was once so bright
be now forever taken from my sight.
though nothing can bring back the hour

of splendor in the grass or glory in the flower
we grieve not, but rather
find strength in what remains behind...

william wordsworth

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm a Lumber Jack and I'm Okay....

Happy Mother's Day..... Happy Other Mother's Day.....

Children are the best from the pieces of ourselves....

They teach us more about ourselves than we will ever teach them. I truly believe that is why God gave them to us. They bring to us, innocence we have lost. Hope we have turned from. And the sense of freedom. The sense that there is no reason why to grown women shouldn't jump off the dock in all their clothes.... and like it... and find freedom in their self baptism.

Rainbow Camp in general will always be a memory burned into my mind. I remember the jump off the dock, Becky.

I remember the services with the wind blowing in my hair. I remember the drums

I remember the band. I remember community. I will always remember community.

I will remember that my youngest daughter Emma, she made fast friends with the lifeguard and I do believe she was either under his careful watch or on his shoulders much more than she ever was on her own two feet.

But, I was asked to talk about my favorite memory of the trip. Well, it was when we all tried to settle down to sleep. I suffer from "Sleep Fright" that is when you are laying awake while everyone around you drifts off happily leaving you alone in the dark with your thoughts and the inability to stay still.

I discovered that weekend that my daughter Hannah suffers from the same thing. We both laid there in our discomfort and finally I whispered, "Do you want to take a walk?" and she was out of the top of her bunk bed before my feet hit the floor. We bundled up, found the flash light and walked down to the dock. (side note: Ty and Becky's dogs were going crazy) We walked out to the end and laid down on our backs and watched the stars and the moon sparkle off the water. We listened to the silence and the crickets. We listened to the dock creaking as the water rose up and down dancing with the pull of the almost full moon. We laid there until about 2am. Finally, we succumbed to the shivering and found our way back to the cabin. But not before Hannah asked me to promise that next year, we would be prepared and we would sleep there all night and watch the stars and the sunrise. We pinky sweared. When we left we decided that we would go the “long way” around the building. Dogs again barking wildly. That didn't detour us, it was the consuming dark that our flashlight just couldn't penetrate. She looked at me and I looked at her, we decided the way back would be easier if we just walked were the building was lit.
We were asleep in minutes. I didn't take my camera in our little excursion but it is one of those memories which will be burned perfectly and forever into our hearts and minds much clearer than a 4x6 ever could.

The next morning over pancakes, I remember the talk about the dogs going nuts the night before. I remember looking at Hannah sideways and said, “maybe there was a bear in the area” and she grin and looked innocent. Well just to set the record set.... it was us.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rethinking Lent

I was "sorta" raised LDS. I don't recall Lent being something that we did or even talked about. We did have Fast Sunday once a month. Maybe that was our Lent. I really don't know.

I really don't know much about religious practices or the reasons behind them. Since becoming a member of the Boise UCC I have been absorbing so much. Ravenous for the truth and the light and the reason. Being loved by the most accepting and kind community I could ever imagine and being taught by a pastor who, I believe with all my heart, is lead by Christ to share his truth with those of us who come wounded, agnostic, atheistic, angry and perhaps purposely or subconsciously impenetrable.

As a child, I was familiar with the saying, "I am giving it up for Lent." but until adulthood I didn't really know that was actually a religious time. Given the people who I remember saying that, I don't think they were using it as a religious intention but rather a joke about procrastination.

In all honestly, I used to make silly Lent promises. Things like, "I will stop smoking." Nice sentiment but... I don't and have never smoked. I suppose I was looking for a sure win. I don't know. But this year. Lent has begun to make sense to me. I have had to look deeper. There are a lot of things I need to give up, period, not just for Lent but forever. But I am not in the best place emotionally right now to toss out my crutches. So I began to think about the things that God gives me everyday that I ignore, or take for granted. There was a long list. But in fear of failing, I narrowed it down to one.

Those who don't know me, I am going through some extreme personal challenges which exacerbates my depression. I find myself hold up in my house with my blinds drawn and just surviving from Sunday to Sunday. No sunlight. No outside vistas. I realized, or perhaps was lead by the spirit to the realization that I was ignoring the sunrise and the light each day that is given to me by God. I felt ashamed that I ignored him everyday. Something so simple in our minds, the sunrise, the daylight. Its there everyday. "The sun also rises." Yet I turned my back on it and hid inside denying a miracle, everyday.

It may seem too simple. Too easy. A bit trite. But I gave up keeping my blinds closed everyday. It isn't easy. Every morning, I begrudgingly walk to my doors and open them. I say, "I promised you". I don't stand there too long. The appreciation really hasn't seeped into my heart yet. But I am keeping my tiny little promise. I will let his sun shine into my house. I live in faith that he will see my dedication to such a small promise and find a way into my heart to comfort me for my small promise. Like the Little Drummer Boy who only had a drum to play a song for the baby Jesus. I have nothing more to give God this year than he did back then.

May God count the small things and bless those of us who have nothing more to give.


many blessings
nina michelle

Published March 2010 Boise UCC Herald

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hope Candle - Valentines Day 2010

happy valentines day!

when I was asked to light the HOPE candle today I decided to do some research on Valentines Day. I GOOGLED. And was instantly overwhelmed with the return of 800 million possible sites about its history. Not being a historian, I have no idea how to separate myth, legend, truth and half truths. But one story intrigued me, it stated that Valentine was a Roman, proported to have serve as a priest in the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius commanded the priest to denounce his Christianity. Valentine refused. Claudius jailed him and Valentine became a maryter.

Valentine died on Feb 14th 269 AD. It was said that before he died he wrote a letter to the jailers daughter whom he had become close friends with. Nothing was said about the content of the letter except that he signed it Love, Your Valentine. I do not know if this is true but it is tragically beautiful story. Reading further I learned that in 500 AD the Pope at the time set aside Feb 14th as a day to honor Saint Valentine.

As I have said, I dont know if any of this is true. And it paralysized me for a bit because I didnt want to come down and speak as if I knew historical facts and then find out later that I was wrong. So I sat with that for a little while. And then it suddenly occurred to me that this was the epitome of what Valentines Day has become for us in the modern world of expectations. There is a definite dycotomy between our real experiencs of this day and what we are told our experiences are supposed to be.

If you walk into a store, you will see chubby angels, cards, flowers, stuffed animals and "friendly" warnings about not being a scum bag and forgetting your partner. You turn on the tv and its even bigger than life. Its acted out for us and we are certain that it must be. So, are we all ready? Today, you are either giving or receiving one of the following:

marriage proposal
dinner at an expensive restaurant
a weekend away
a diamond anything
you are coupled
you are in love
or falling in love
or at the very least, twitter patted...

So I ask, hows that working for ya? I would venture a guess that about 99% of the population are falling short today. Ouch!

I've been big on reality lately. So I want to share with you my reality of today. And its so easy for me to do. I ask you to just look around room at each other. There isn't face in here that I am not in love with for one reason or another.

Audrey- You have a smile that lights up a room, you are passionate about your career and compassionate with those you come in contact with. I love you for that. Thank you.

Emi- You wear custom Italy shoes.... I love you for that!

In One Peace- No matter how far down I am as I walk into the sanctuary each sunday I leave hardly touching the ground. You lift my spirit and beckon my soul into prayer with your music, the rhythm and lyrics. I love you for that! Thank you.

Rose- Who doesn't love a bowler?

couple- I confess that I dont remember names and I apologize for that but I want you to know that each sunday when I see here it brings me comfort. I love you for that. Thank you.

Then there is our pastor, don't get me started on the pastor... she's like budda....

So as I light the HOPE candle today, it is my hope that we all realize that we are not falling short of our ideal Valentines Day because we love, and we are loved. That is the reality of today. It is also my Hope that as you leave today and spread out into the community that we will remember to tell those people in our lives that we love them and tell them why. My Hope is that no one today feels alone or as if they have fallen short.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We all have them. Some of us are given them at birth. Some of us acquire them along the way. Some come from no fault of our own, some come from choices we make. Some are given to us by others, accidentally or unfortunately, on purpose. But eventually we all become one of the walking wounded.

This is not a sad soliloquy that follows. This is an affirmation that we carry our scars, our imperfections for a reason. God, Goddess, Higher Power, or Collective Humanity. Whichever you subscribe to, assigns no shame on where you are or where you have been. You have a story and that is what is important. You have insight, that is what is important. You have advice, that is what is important. Your imperfections, your scars are a gift.

Some of us can just roll up our sleeves and it is obvious from the cigarette burns, razor slashes or track marks. Our stories are easier seen. Some of us need to unzip our bodies to show the scars on our psyche, our hearts, our souls in order to assure those around us of our commonality. Some of our struggles are ongoing. I would venture to say, most of our struggles are ongoing. Some of us need a drink to steady our hand, some of us will crave something for the rest of our lives even though we have turned away from the tray. Some of us will flinch if anything moves quickly on our periphery.

These scars, these experiences, we should not hide out of fear or shame. These are gifts we can bring to others. So many of us feel alone. Isolated. Misunderstood. We feel less than, looked down upon, judged, minimized. These scars you bear could be your brother's salvation.

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

Nina Michelle
The Herald
published January 2010
First Congregational United Church of Christ


Tonight, there are people who will sleep in their own beds for the last night. There are people who are truly depend-ant on the kindness of friends and strangers. There are people with overflowing gifts of abundance to which society assigns no value.

There are also people, who are only just one paycheck away from the fate that awaits those I have spoken about above. Is it you? You don't think so? It *is* many of us. Don't fool yourself.

"Am I my brother's keeper? ... Yes, I am my brother's keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, notby maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe myself. It is when you have done your work honestly, whenyou have contributed your share to the common fund that you begin to live. Then, as Whitman said, you can take outyour soul; you can commune with yourself; you can take a comrade by the hand and you can look into his soul and in that holy communion you live. And if you don't know what that is, or if you are not at least on the edge of it, it is de-nied you even to look into the Promised Land." - Eugene V. Debs, speech given at the founding of the Federal Coun-cil of Churches, Girard, Kansas, 1908

So what do you do? Greet them as you were greeting Christ. Let them know, you are there. Don't pick them up and carry them off. Don't try to fix them. Remember, they might not be broken. They may have lost many things but they have not lost their dignity or their sense of self. Be worthy of their trust. Live true to your word. Walk in faith that they may be guided to feel safe to ask of you anything they may need. Walk in faith that you will be able and ready to give to them what they ask.We are a reflection of each other. Look deep into your brother's eyes. You will see yourself looking back at you.

Nina Michelle
The Herald
published December 2009
First Congregational United Church of Christ