Firstfruits began with an idea: How could women’s needs to gather with other women, experience God’s love and go forth more centered on their own giftedness and purpose be met? Then the Holy Spirit stepped in and something powerful happened!
In the beginning … Firstfruits began as a vision for a women’s ministry whose purpose was to gather women to experience God’s love. And as a result, be transformed!

As word spread about this unique opportunity, other parishes became interested in hosting a Firstfruits gathering. It became apparent to the founders of Firstfruits that this “gathering” needed to be moveable. We became known as a moveable feast of spiritual opportunities for women.

Facts on Faith

If you knew you didn’t have much more time on Earth and wanted to teach two or three life lessons to those you leave behind in order for them to be prepared for when you aren’t physically with them anymore, what would be the essential lessons? That is the situation we saw Jesus in as we studied the Gospel of Luke in Truth Be Told Bible study this week at Firstfruits. Jesus and his beloved apostles are traveling to Jerusalem. A trip that will end in His crucifixion. He knows he doesn’t have much time and there are still some really important lessons he wants to be sure the apostles learn to prepare them for life without Him. He teaches these lessons through example and increasingly more dramatic healing miracles. Like raising a young girl from the dead. Last week’s lesson was the importance of prayer to maintain and nurture the intimate relationship with God that is a gift to all disciples. This week’s lesson is on the power in the saving response of faith. In the miraculous healings Jesus performed, it was the deep faith of those involved that facilitated the healing. Faith that has God at its center when all other options are gone. Faith that is the response to the absence of hope in anything or anybody else. Often, we reject God because there are too many other things or people to trust in or put our faith in. Things like wealth, status, power, or intellect.  We need to get to a place of vulnerability and humility where we can admit our need: complete need for God and God only. Many times, we have to be brought to a place of desperation before we admit that. Jesus wants that to change. I hope you will find the time to view the videos of my reflections on the Scripture readings from Truth Be Told for the next five weeks. In this week’s lesson we learn more about this faith Jesus wants not just the apostles to know about but us too. And the life-giving hope and disposition for gratitude that comes with it. Grateful for you, Joan Truth Be Told Video - Session 2, Week 1 Truth Be Told Session 2, Week 2 Faith and Gratitude Bible References Luke 8:40-56 Healing of Two Daughters Luke 17:11-19 Healing of the 10 Lepers...

Ponderings on Prayer in a Pandemic

How is your prayer life these days? Does it feel predictable, pointless, powerful, or pitiful? Have the uncertainties and challenges of this unprecedented time had an effect on your prayer? We started the second session of Truth Be Told on Monday. In this Firstfruits Bible study we are focusing on what it means to live the life of a disciple of Christ. Nurturing the gift of an intimate relationship with God that comes with discipleship requires prayer. It is essential. We see that the apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray. We too can ask the same. Prayer comes in many shapes and forms. There is an evolution of prayer in our lives. We start out as children learning rote prayers. Soon they evolve into prayers of petition, that is prayers focused on requests. Often that is where our evolution stops. We never get to the conversational prayers or the prayer with no words. We get stuck in the rubrics and miss out on the romance. Prayer is where our intimate connection with God happens. Where we reveal ourselves to God and he reveals himself to us. It’s like the courting time in a relationship only in this relationship it not only leads to the possibility of living the rest of our lives together, it’s the invitation to live the rest of eternity together. During this time when the draw to a deeper connection to God is so powerful, I challenge you to broaden your idea of what prayer is. Don’t let old notions box you in. Joan For more ponderings on prayer, check out this video of Joan’s talk from Truth Be Told. Truth Be Told Video - Session 2, Week 1 Truth Be Told Bible References Luke 11:1-4 Instructions About Prayer Luke 11:5-13 Seek and Find Luke 18:1-8 Widow and the Judge...

View from My Chaise Lounge Chair

Last week I ended my blog suggesting that we thank God for the work and the healing He has done in us through this past year and its challenges. There was a reference to the fact that the struggles this past year were necessary to tear down the old and clear the path for the new. With our patient endurance we have been able to build new solid foundations of thinking and acting that will last. Now is time to “move in the furniture” and enjoy the fruits of our labor. So, I moved in my dream imaginary furniture, the comfy chaise lounge chair I’ve always wanted with the overstuffed pillows that looked so luxurious but so impractical.  Next to the chaise is a soft rug, a table, and a lamp (operated by The Clapper). A Sherpa heated blanket lays within reach. With my furniture in place I began to take inventory. I began to make a mental list of the ways that God has been at work in my life through the challenges of the past year. The areas where there has been a transformation that feels permanent and the areas that aren’t quite there yet. Those areas in my life that I hang on to so tightly that not even a pandemic can pry them loose. Here’s what I came up with on my chaise lounge chair. Things God has transformed in me through this past year: ·      My capacity to live in the present. I used to always be thinking of the next week, event, appointment, or meal! Trying to stay one step ahead of life instead of living life as it was in the moment. As a wife and mom that kind of thinking comes with the territory, but it can become more of an obsession than a necessary skill. I was always moving the bar farther out instead of relaxing in the accomplishments, or the lack thereof. This past year God showed me that some things just don’t need to get done and life is still worth living. So good. ·      My expectations of pretty much everything and everybody The greatest lesson I learned this past year was that the true path to lasting contentment starts with having no expectations of anyone, any place, or anything. Period. Yes, we can choose to hold others accountable for inappropriate behavior, but we can’t expect anyone to act in a certain way. They will act the way...

With Outstretched Arms

The Christmas tree ornament in the picture above rates in my top three favorites, along with the plump sugar plum fairy with the dangling legs and the vintage plastic gazebo looking ornament with the metal inside that twirls from the heat of the tree lights. That was from my mom’s collection. Notice I didn’t have to pretend anymore that my favorites were the toothpick framed second grade school picture of our son or the glitter-bedazzled mini dixie cups. Those have been promptly delivered to their adult creators to deck their own halls … or not. I love this ornament because it makes me smile. The carefree joy on her face and the way she seems to be flying with outstretched arms in a wide-open space are things that I long for. Especially after the year we have just experienced, a very confining year. But not a wasted year. Yesterday I pulled out a book I hadn’t looked at in a while entitled The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. The title of the reading for the day, December 30, was "Laying the Foundation." She states, “The groundwork has been laid. Do you not see that? Don’t you understand that all you have gone through was for a purpose? There was a reason, a good reason, for the waiting, the struggle, the pain, and finally the release. You have been prepared.” She then goes on to use the analogy of a builder and how they must tear down the old to make way for the new.  What is old and decayed must be removed, replaced or reinforced. If the finished product is to be what is desired, the work must be done thoroughly from the bottom up. As the work progresses, it often appears to be an upheaval. Often, it does not seem to make sense. This long, hard time in your life has been for laying of groundwork. It was not without purpose, although at times the purpose may not have been evident or apparent.   Now, the foundation has been laid. The structure is solid. Now, it is time for the finishing touches, the completion. It is time to move the furniture in and enjoy the fruits of the labor. Congratulations! You have had the patience to endure the hard parts. Now, you shall enjoy the good that has been planned. Now, you shall see the purpose. Now, it shall all come together and make sense. Enjoy! Meet God in the wide-open...

Making Room

I found a box in the basement as I was rummaging through my Christmas decorations, trying to decide just how decorated I wanted to get considering that no one but my husband and I will see them this Christmas. And I’m not sure he really does “see” them. A lot goes unnoticed with him, but that’s a blog for another day. The box was labeled “Precious old stuff.” I remember when we downsized and moved a couple years ago, I had to do a lot of purging. Most of the stuff was easy to categorize. There was the Kitchen, Garage, Christmas, and Basement boxes. But then there was this pile of stuff that didn’t really fit any category. Sentimental stuff like a pair of my mom’s shoes and my dad’s old fedora hat that he wore every day. My Lulu doll and my old childhood charm bracelet with the maple leaf from our trip to Canada and the metal sponge-diver’s helmet commemorating our trip to Tarpon Springs, Florida. As we enter this last week of Advent, we really need to get down to business if we want to be prepared to birth Jesus anew in our hearts. It’s time to do some serious purging. Time to make room. We need to commit to whatever it is we need to do to let God know we are serious in our desire to change. Our desire to make this 2020 Advent with all of its challenges, not a reason for complacency, but a gateway to lasting change. We are being invited to something amazing. We will open our eyes on Christmas morning to a visit from God. In His unfathomable love for us He chose to visit as one of us, in the form of a baby. As close to us as possible. We have an opportunity this Christmas to invite God for more than a visit. We can invite Him to stay. We can commit to getting rid of the things that take up room in our hearts. We can pack up the resentment, anger, doubt, busyness, and self-centeredness. We can purge ourselves of the fear, anxiety, ego, and self-righteousness that takes up space where Divine love wants to visit. Are you ready for a visit from God? Is there room in your heart for all that He wants to bring? Room for the forgiveness, the hope, the care, and the compassion? For the comfort, the peace,...

Birthing

After my mom died, the saddest day for me wasn’t the holidays, her birthday, or the anniversary of her passing, it was MY birthday. Every year on my birthday, my mom would tell me the story of my birth. Like I hadn’t ever heard it before. She had such a sweet smile on her face as she replayed that day in her mind. It was sad when that first-hand account was gone. I do the same for my kids now. I torture them on their birthdays with text updates throughout the day reliving their actual birth day. Texts like “Oh, labor pains just started” or “off to the hospital.” (By the time it gets to their actual birth they don’t respond to their texts anymore.) Well I think it’s fun. Advent is a time when we ponder and prepare for a birth. The physical birth of Jesus, the Christ child. We are also called to ponder and prepare for our own birthing of Jesus personally in our hearts in a new and deeper way. We can learn how to prepare our hearts for this birth of Jesus by looking at the behaviors of any expectant mother. The preparation starts slowly as she begins to realize she’s not alone anymore. It’s not just about her anymore. There is a sense of a “We-ness”, a moving out of herself and into a love and compassion for the needs of another. A transition to selflessness. Every decision she makes is made with the welfare of another above herself. She expects to be uncomfortable, to be stretched (no pun intended) outside her usual parameters. She expects to be forced into a new way of thinking, living, sitting, and tying her shoes during this time of waiting. There is a surrendering to these expectations. She trusts that they are all a part of this process of new life. They feel odd now but with time will become a new normal. She anticipates, with great joy, the birth of this baby, but the heartburn and the swollen ankles try to steal the joy. The anticipation, though filled with challenges and unknowns, brings joy as long as she keeps her eyes on the prize. As long as she never doubts. As longs as she has hope. So this Advent lets prepare our hearts to give birth. Focus on cultivating a “We-ness” within ourselves. Reach out to others who need love. Put the welfare of others...

The Morning Moon

I opened my eyes this morning and through the blinds there it was, a full moon peeking back at me through the bare tree branches. A full moon in the sky outside my window at 6:45am on a random Wednesday morning. It shocked me for a minute. I was always a bit confused about the concepts of how the sun and moon and earth dance around each other, rotating and revolving and eclipsing. All I know is in my ordered world you see the sun during the day and the moon at night. So those times when the moon is still there in the morning just confounds me. It’s like something went wrong. But I trust it knows what it’s doing. For some reason that moon this morning brought me a sense of peace. A sense that in spite of all the uncertainty we have been living in this year, there are some things that stay the same. Some things we can know for sure. Some things that in their constancy and predictability can bring us hope. There is a normality to the world after all. It’s just harder to spot with all the abnormality around us. And it will be back. In the mean time we rest in hope. Advent is a season of hope. In the book Beautiful Hope, a compilation of essays from spiritual leaders, Pope Francis tells us, “When everything seems finished, when, faced with many negative realities, and faith becomes demanding, and there comes the temptation which says that nothing makes sense anymore, behold instead the beautiful news...

Advent: Waiting and Wondering

When I say the word “waiting,” what associations do you make? The DMV? Disney World? Apple Customer Service? An apology from your spouse!? Waiting isn’t fun. This has become glaringly apparent as the months of the pandemic have dragged on. Waiting has become our new normal. Waiting in line at Trader Joe’s or Walmart. Waiting until the day when we can hug and kiss our friends and family (and strangers, at this point!). Waiting for a vaccine. All this practice we have had at waiting should make this one of our best Advents yet. Advent is all about waiting. Waiting in joyful hope and anticipation. But what exactly are we waiting for? The light at the end of the COVID tunnel is straightforward and concrete. An end to the pandemic. What is the light at the end of Advent? What do we joyfully anticipate? The birth of a baby, but not just any baby. The birth of Jesus. One commentary I was reading described the birth of Jesus as a “visitation from God.” God wants to come for a visit and is doing so through the incarnation of his Son. What does a visit from God look like to you? Are you ready to receive Him? To receive the transforming love that is God? How do you need to prepare for that visit? That is the beauty in God’s timing. He gives us this time of waiting to prepare ourselves to accept the love that is symbolized in the manger in Bethlehem. What is it about God’s love that we need time to prepare for it? A lot of questions in this blog and no answers. At least not yet. And so, we wait…and wonder. Joan...

Following God’s Will Through the Holy Spirit

Discipleship isn’t for the faint of heart. Much is asked. We can’t do it on our own. Thankfully God knew that, and in His faithfulness and compassion provides us with just what we need to face the challenges of discipleship. He gives us the Holy Spirit. At Baptism and again at Confirmation we are sealed with the indwelling Holy Spirit. We see in the readings this week, the power that enabled Jesus to resist temptation in the desert and accept the will of the Father in the garden of Gethsemane is the same power in each of us. We need to acknowledge it, believe in it, and set it free in our lives. We have to stir it up. Where’s your spoon? Joan   Truth Be Told Video - Week 6 Truth Be Told Bibles References Luke 4:1-13 Temptation of Jesus Luke 22:39-51 The Agony in the Garden...

God’s Mercy

As we become more intentional in our desire to grow in our discipleship, we open ourselves up to many blessings. We talked about the blessing of intimacy with God last week. This week we hear about another blessing of discipleship, only this one comes with a challenge. That blessing is God’s mercy. It is there waiting for us to accept it, but that acceptance also means accepting our sinfulness. In order to experience the amazing mercy of God we have to first acknowledge our sinfulness and be willing to repent. That isn’t always easy. As we grow in discipleship, God gently reveals our sinfulness. He lovingly takes us through a process of healing and growth. God’s light shines on our dark spots. The spots of sin that we have grown accustomed to and don’t even see anymore. It’s like those piles of stuff in our houses that we just vacuum around! We should never be discouraged though. God’s mercy is greater than any sin. And it’s available to all. As we grow in intimacy with God and we position ourselves, maybe not in a tree like Zacchaeus but in a place closer to Him than ever before, He will invite Himself in. But with that invitation comes a housecleaning. Are you ready to get rid of those piles? Joan Truth Be Told Video - Week 5 Truth Be Told Bible References Luke 15:1-10 Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin Luke 18:35-43 Healing of the Blind Beggar Luke 19:1-10 Zacchaeus the Tax Collector...