Tag Archives: Tom Castlen


“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars. With it, there is accomplishment.” 
                                                   ~ Henry Ford
Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.
                                                  ~ 1 Peter 2:15-17
     One of the most important things one can do while singing is to breathe properly.  I have loved the image of “tanking up” when  a long passage of music is coming where no breath is allowed.  I forget to breathe so often when singing.  It is a challenge to get the timing right for me.  Recently, I have learned a new technique, and it is still somewhat dependent on the example that has been set.  The director opens his mouth just before we come in and audibly takes a breath, with his mouth open.  He is breathing along with us, but it is the sound that keys me in to remember.  I have noticed that those around me seem to be breathing together as well.  This director is building on the excellent foundation that was laid before.
     Our guest minister yesterday took some time and asked us to breathe:
  • Before church in the pre-service prayer, he took the time to ask us to breathe and waited for us to do it.
  • In the service he provided an sheet that gave us an example of how and when to breathe.  
  • He modeled it with the children during the children’s moment.
  • He provided an  opportunity for all of us to join and practice breathing, asking us to hear God tell us that God loved us as we were breathing in, “I love you.”  And then as we were breathing out, we were to mouth or say “I love you.” back to God.
     There was not alot of audible breathing there. We tend to be a quiet congregation (not me, not me) but it was funny to hear just how quiet we could be.
       I have begun trying this practice, although it is brand new.  But already I can hear God’s voice as I breathe in.  “I love you.”  It is overwhelming and wonderful. We were invited to try this for 15 minutes a day.  I’ll let you know how it goes. But it starts with just one focused breath. Jesus could not have called out in a loud voice had he not taken a deep breath.
     Try it.
     Breathe in.  “I love you.” says God.
     Breathe out.  ” I love you,” say I, you.
Because of Him,

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Eat First

With the Lord’s Supper

For T. C.

A Sunday that included the Eucharist.

I recognize this.  Even in the children’s moment

you connected, like a prelude, the joy

of what was to come.

 “Break Thou the Bread of Life.”

Built the excitement, familiar, comforting

     Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me

     As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;

     Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;

     My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!*

And us so close to the sea!


The great prayer of thanksgiving lead us through

the  tide-pool of the ritual fully formed, and yet, like a watched bloom…

We waded through the prayer, almost unsuspecting.

At the words of institution echoing the first last supper,

it came bursting through the break in the loaf,

rising up like the star of Bethlehem.


The pieces hungry for the hand, the cup,

like sea spray, stinging and healing all at once,

The unworthy mouth that longs for You to abide under

its roof. Sopped in the juices, carrying

the preacher’s charge,

straight to my soul,

Walking the journey,

fully nourished.

*Mary A. Lathbury – Break Thou the Bread of Life

Because of Him,


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“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader.” 
                                                     ~ Dolly Parton

Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

                                                   ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

     When you point a finger at someone, there are always four fingers pointing right back at you.  And that was last summer.  My mother in law passed away.  Everything following that event was complicated.  Words were said, actions were taken.  The ones that  bother me the most were my own.  A side of me came out that was living under a rock.  I cannot erase those images from my mind.  My heart was hard, my feelings were as unraveled as a skein of yarn after cats have played with it.

     So many hurts, so many wounds.  I wanted to be mature, wise, even helpful.  But what I saw and demonstrated was anger, hurt, stressed out, unhelpful. I asked the Lord for forgiveness, I wrote notes to folks thanking them for kind things that they did in the face of my emotional breakdown.  But I cold not receive the forgivness.

     I heard this song by Natalie Grant, “Clean.” 


     The healing has begun, I don’t know if the others have forgiven me, but I have begun to forgive myself, and allowed the love of God to wash over all of that complicated stuff.

     I have a pastor friend, the Reverend Tom Castlen, who makes the following phrase a part of each benediction he pronounces at the end of a church service. “And remember, be good to yourselves at least once a day.”

      And so say I to you.  Let these lyrics wash you in mercy. Take a bubble bath in them!

     Because of Him,


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Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie, 1948-

American Writer, Speaker


Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, Ido! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:11-12


Last Sunday, I sat in the choir loft between our rehearsal and the service, watching folks walk into the sanctuary.  I saw more than faces; I saw answered prayers.  Grandchildren healed, cancer gone, friendship mended, marriage healing, forgiveness granted, I thought as they entered and found their seats. Each person had received prayer and entered in with gratitude.  This Sunday was a more difficult “vision.”  Before, during and after church the congregation was made aware of prayers needed, loved one in hospice, return of cancer, grandchild struggling.  These folks might have been anywhere else, but they were in the sanctuary, bringing their all to the Lord.  They entered in because of gratitude and in need of strength.

When it came time for the sermon, our minister asked us to prepare ourselves for the word first by being quiet.  He left a good minute for this, and there was a connectedness between us.  His next direction was to be still.  Again, he left a good minute between his request and his next spoken word.  I will paraphrase here about what he said next, “Between the silence and the stillness, you leave room for listening to God.”

A collective “aha” seemed to envelop us.  When we leave room for quiet and stillness, we leave room to hear. We leave room to hear God.  We leave room for the joy and for the pain. We leave room for God’s voice to still us, to direct us,God’s presence to let us feel just how much we are loved.  It was a life changing service for so many.  It was a time of joining, a time of the best possible definition of family, a time of gratitude.  No matter what comes our way, indeed “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today, practice quiet, practice stillness.  Let God’s love speak to your heart.  Let your heart let loose its cry.

Because of Him,


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