E-Letter

Read the devotions of our Pastor, Reverend Rindy Trouteaud.

E-Letter 190

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Devotions | 0 comments

With the morning rush hour traffic reaching the tipping point in downtown Atlanta, I merged into the I-75 parade of vehicles snaking their way through the city. It was only 9:15 a.m. and, certain that I was going to be late for my appointment, I began to triage my day and an impossibly long list of to-do’s.  Coasting behind a line of slowing vehicles near the Georgia Tech exit, I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel and bemoaned my bad luck driving karma.  “What I need,” I thought wearily, “is a little break, a smidgen of grace.”

Behind the eightball before noon, my morning continued to unravel, strand by strand, as I fiddled with my car radio straining to hear my favorite program, Writer’s Almanac, which, wouldn’t-you-know, I had managed to miss by five minutes because of bad luck driving karma!  Exasperated, I found myself instead listening to an interview about human trafficking. The highway to Monticello… through Mansfield with its stable of bright orange Kubota tractors, past the Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and the Harvey dairy farm, under the canopy of pecan trees with its secrets of a bygone era…the highway disappeared, mile after mile, as I listened in fascination to the voice of my son, Alex, explaining his work that led to actions by major credit card companies to remove their advertisements from a website where vulnerable, underage young people are being exploited. I heard him praise the work of a widespread community of caring professionals committed to protecting the thousands of young people forced by circumstances to sell their bodies and souls. I heard him speak boldly about the evil perpetrated on “the least of these” by selfish individuals with access to money and social media. I heard him describe a future where major corporations will use their economic clout to create a climate where all young people are safe. I heard his testimony of a world in which God was, is, and will be deeply involved, using the hands of others to bring about God’s purposes, and I was amazed, grateful, and humbled by someone, a young man who believes with all of his heart in his call to make a difference. And for a moment – maybe longer – I longed for a bit of his courage, a fraction of his determination, a scintilla of his commitment, an iota of his vision.

Perhaps there are many paths to raising a caring young person, but the one I’m most familiar with is the path of Christian discipleship that shapes the life of a church. Alex grew up in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Tucker, Georgia, a church that describes itself as “A Place of Grace”. While I struggle with the theological notion of a “homed” grace, I am certain that the people who call St. Andrews home were instruments of God’s grace in Alex’s life.  I believe he is the caring person he is today because of the adults who encouraged him in the mission fields of Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, who inspired him in the classroom on Sunday mornings, who wrestled with his questions in youth group meetings, who stayed up for late night conversations in Montreat and Camp Calvin, who enjoyed his enthusiasm during VBS and Youth Sunday rehearsals, who mentored him during his confirmation journey, who invited him into their homes to babysit and do yardwork, and who called and continue to call him friend.

In our family we have an understanding that my adult children will not be the topic of e-letters.  Our times together are recognized as “e-letter free zones.”  I’m guessing that when he reads this, he’ll text me, “Mom, you broke our rule.” And I will respond, “By God’s grace, yes I did because, guess what? A little break, a smidgen of grace was all I needed to remember who I am and whose I am and be grateful!”

E-Letter 189

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Devotions | 0 comments

Our worksite supervisor, Art, arrived before dawn to tell us that a duratio was headed our way in the holler in West Virginia. “What’s a duratio,” I asked, “and why should I be concerned?” Art gave me one of those I-can’t-believe-you’re-asking-me-that-question look and then talked about flash floods, 200 mph winds, downed trees and power lines, and impassable roads, all of which would isolate the Colcord community from the rest of the world for who-knows-how-many weeks.  It was already too late to evacuate, he said, and after discussing our options, we made the decision to work as much as possible on the project assigned our group for that day, knowing that this particular couple had waited over two years for a mission group to tackle their project.

I put in an emergency prayer request to the church, roused the sleeping teenagers, and we quickly drove to the worksite where we spent the day in the burning heat of the sun staining a rehabbed deck that would allow the mobility-challenged couple to use the back door of their well-kept and aging mobile home. Every few minutes one of us would sneak a glance over our shoulders searching the summer sky for evidence of a brewing storm.  At noon we received news from Gary, our other worksite supervisor, that the duratio was headed north and that we could expect the onset of sudden and severe storms. “Look at the leaves on the trees,” he said, “and if they’re turned up, run, don’t walk, for the nearest cover.”  We double-timed our work pace to make good on our commitment to this elderly couple and finished our project just as the sun started dipping below the line of mountains surrounding us.

Later that evening, wearied by the heat, the work, and a day of weather drama, I sat with my feet up on the back porch of our home-away-from-home – alone! – sipping a cup of tea and watching the leaves of a beautiful oak tree slowly turning upward forming little cups to catch the bounty from heaven. The last rays of the dying sun ricocheted from treetop to treetop creating a beautiful, silent hymn of thanksgiving to the Creator God. And when the last note gave way to a waiting night sky, I heard it! A heavenly encore! The rain, washing over the mountain, gathering sound and fury like the continuous roll of timpani! Overwhelmed by this holy symphony, the fireflies illuminating the night sky shuttered their shimmery lights, and the bullfrogs offering their throaty carols silenced their voices. Together we listened to the psalmist,

I lift up my eyes to the hills – 

from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

They Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in

from this time on and forevermore.  (Ps. 121)

E-Letter 188

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Devotions | 0 comments

 Lenten reflection…Deuteronomy 11:18-28

Our eyes never meet as the young cashier enters my order on her computer and slides my debit card across her pad. Dully, indifferently, she asks the routine questions, “Cream and sugar with that coffee, Ma’am? Would you like an apple pie to go with that?” The work crew behind the counter strains to see my order appearing on the computer just above their heads. Like a well-oiled machine, the workers fill my order. One fills the cup; one pops a lid on top to smother a cloud of escaping steam; a third pushes the cup across the counter. I mumble my thanks, but no one acknowledges it. I slide across the vinyl bench balancing my extra-large dark roast coffee in one hand while eyeing the lunchtime crowd at McDonalds. “Well, Jesus,” I mutter under my breath, “what do YOU see?”

The restaurant, filled with squirmy children, harried mothers, day shift workers waiting for buses, and weary government workers, smells like day-old french fries. I imagine Jesus slowly scanning the scene, his eyes settling on a dread-locked, bearded, scruffy looking man anxiously scrolling his iPad searching for job openings. Sharing a booth with him is a woman absentmindedly rocking a sleeping baby while listening to music through ear buds snaking from her iPhone. In the corner booth, a grandfather, ignored by his two grandchildren parallel playing action games on a laptop and Nintendo 2ds, stares emptily into space. Across the room a middle-aged man with dark circles under his eyes slumps back in his seat, and Jesus watches in fascination as this fastfood magician pulls “rabbits” out of his pocket – notebook, pen, map, and cellphone – and lines them up like little tin soldiers on the table before him. A tattooed woman with pink-streaked hair and gold loops dangling from her ears seated beside him glances at this odd formation, sighs deeply, and begins texting an invisible companion, her thumbs moving like lightning over the screen of her smartphone. “Well, Jesus,” I ask again, “WHAT do you see?”

In a haiku of despair, he replies,

“iPhone, iPad talk

Towers of frenzied Babel –

How can I know you?”

Prayer practice: Surrender your cellphone, put your laptop to sleep, turn off the handheld gaming device, pull out the ear buds streaming music and look, really look at the world unfolding under the watchful gaze of Jesus.