Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day #301

October 28, 2014

So yesterday I was giving thanks for finding a place to live temporarily at the new call. Today a God-cidence happened again. Or, I'm hoping it did!

We need to sell the house where we are leaving. It's on the market, but no nibbles yet. Today we were at the bank and asked an innocent question about the 7-Up cans being displayed that led to discovering someone at the branch is looking for a house in the neighborhood where we live. Then it turns out she is the same one who we need to meet with about our banking issues. So we answer some questions she had about the house and left with the hope she'll drive by later to take a look. After all, she had already become interested in the house on the internet.

Let's just say, it was a neat moment. And will be even neater if she and her family fall in love with the house and just have to have it. That would sure be great for us. Find a place to live, sell a place to live. Sounds like a good week to me! (Prayers are appreciated!)

Also, to those who drop by my Intersection musings, Thank You!! 300 days and counting is not lost on me. God truly is awesome!


Day #300

October 27, 2014

God's timing never ceases to amaze me!

Had a phone call Saturday from the chair of the Call Committee at the new call. She had a lead on a house we might rent where we are headed. Since we had no idea where we would be living, this was good news!!

We called the folks, discussed the details, worked it all out, signed the agreement and are all set. Who would have thought it could work out this quickly and easily?! We couldn't have arranged it better if we had tried - so I'm thankful God was doing so!


Day #299

October 26, 2014

Reformation Sunday. Generally a day celebrated with the color red, the singing of at least one of Martin Luther's hymns and worship at its finest. We went to worship at the congregation where I interned nearly seven years ago. The music was fantastic, the preaching inspiring and the experience awesome. Not to mention the joy of seeing familiar faces and people we adore. 

You know, that's the essence of gathering for worship. Along with the assurance of God's love and forgiveness through the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. 

What a joy to be in the presence of God with the people of God!


Day #298

October 25, 2014

My husband turns the corner on a new decade soon. Within the week, he'll have a new number at the front of his age. What better way to celebrate than with good friends and great food!!

Yes, we took some time out from packing and had a great day/evening. Memories were made, much laughter enjoyed, and stories old and new shared - topped off with the most creative cake I've ever seen, provided by the bestest of friends.

All in all, a fantastic day and much to be thankful for!!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day #297

October 24, 2014

Today was a day of endings...and beginnings. First, a funeral for the woman who I wrote about on Day #291. While it was a loving tribute to a grand southern belle, it also somehow felt as though the beginning chapters of my married life were closing.

Today was also the ending of my husband’s work. I wrote about his “retirement” dinner yesterday, but today was officially his last day, which also ended our being separated by distance, living in two houses and two places.

So we celebrated with dear friends, focusing on the beginnings: our upcoming adventure in the West, the next chapters of our married life being together in one house, and soon the beginning of a new decade for him with a new number in the front.

One thing to say, life is never dull! As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens!! You just never know what God has in store!


Day #296

October 23, 2014

The company where my husband has worked for over a decade planned a “retirement” dinner for him tonight. It was a delightful evening at a wonderful restaurant and almost all the employees were there with their spouses or dates. Toward the end of the evening I was pleased to hear some complimentary and affirming things about my husband - the depth of his knowledge of the industry, his ability to teach others, his caring ways of encouraging people and helping them do things.

Also, a little history. My husband began working at this company as it was just opening a facility in the area. It started out with a bare-bones staff, basically of three. So as the facility has grown, the owner recognized, and commented tonight, about how my husband has contributed to its present success by saying how he cares for the company and the customer, making his best effort to do a good job for both! I happen to know that’s just the way he is and who he is.

And yes, I’m very proud of him! His co-workers only stated things I’ve known about him for years and that help me love him. I am just so glad that others see it, too, and took the time tonight to tell him how he has had an impact on their lives.

One of the things, however, that the owner said stuck with me. This wasn’t about my husband, particularly, but he was talking about the company’s values and mission. He said, “Lots of people do what we do. In fact, anyone can really do what we do. What makes us different is how we do it.” Then he went on to talk about the importance of having a good reputation for doing things the right way, taking care of detail and doing the best for the customer, etc.

It made me think about a congregation. Any group of people can be the “church” as we worship, learn, pray, and serve together. What makes one congregation different from another is how we do those things. Not the kind of music, the style of preaching, the depth of the studies, or the scope of the serving, but how we do those things out of love. Do we put the “company” and the “customer” first? In other words, do we love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves...and live it?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day #295

October 22, 2014

Wait! What is that?! Is that a light at the end of the tunnel?!

Hmmm...not so sure...but it may just be an oncoming train.

(Just a bit of humor in these crazy days of ending and beginning!)


Day #294

October 21, 2014
A friend has a blog about quilting (and life). Her blog is one I like to read on a regular basis because it often brings a smile to my face or a warmth to my heart.

Evidently she has been learning a new quilting technique (warning - I know nothing about quilting, nor have a desire to learn, but have much respect for those who do). She just talked about a recent class where she was constantly being reminded to breath. Keep breathing basically means relax. Let things flow.

Okay, I heard that! Keep breathing. Keep packing. One thing at a time. Keep breathing. Think "Someone" is trying to tell me something!!??


Monday, October 20, 2014

Day #293

October 20, 2014

Today there is one word - peace. Perhaps more specifically, three words - Be at peace. As I fret over selling the house, getting all the packing done, figuring out where to live in the new place, spending time with folks, sorting stuff, figuring out details - and seeing the time go by on the clock and the days go by on the calendar, three words keep coming to mind - be at PEACE?!?!

All will be well. All will get done. All will be as it should be. Be at peace! This fretting happened last week, too. What is it about Mondays that eat away at my sense of peace?! Enough of it - be at peace!


Day #292

October 19, 2014

People ask many questions about heaven. Often they are about our loved ones. Things like, will we know our relatives when we get there? Will the relationships we have on earth continue there?

Obviously, there is much we do not know about what eternal life will really be like, but I like to imagine there is an ongoing reason we have relationships here on earth. Especially familial relationships. After all, why would God bother with having us born into a specific family if those relationships didn’t matter except here on earth? (I do realize that not all family relationships are good and healthy. Some would just as well be contained only to time here on earth, but my question/thought refers to the good and healthy ones.)

We spent some time today with my uncle and aunt. This is my mother’s younger brother and his wife. It had been too long since we got together! We enjoyed a meal and talked about generic things, until we began swapping stories about my grandma and my mother - two of my absolute favorite women of all time. We laughed. We teared up. We nodded our heads in agreement and shook them, too, over tales of the quirkiness of both women.

Overall, it was a grand time of remembering. And continuing a relationship that I’m so thankful was here on earth - and pray will continue again one day at the feet of Jesus.


Day #291

October 18, 2014

My husband and I were introduced on a blind date. Well, it wasn’t even a date, it was an arranged meeting. See, I had a good friend I met at church who told me about this guy and invited me to an event where he would be. My friend’s parents were good friends with "the guy's" parents and told him about me also, but didn’t tell him I would be at the event. Does it all sound confusing? Well, it was - and didn’t work out too well to begin with.

My point in bringing this up is that my friend’s parents, who were instrumental in arranging this meeting for us and for continuing to badger us until we tried again, are now both deceased. The husband died a few years ago and the wife died today. A grand southern lady, she was fun, stern, curious and always well-put-together. She will be missed. And will forever hold a special place in our hearts for helping introduce us. May she rest in peace!


Day #290

October 17, 2014

One of the things I have done for the wider church over the last 10-15 years that has been most rewarding is interviewing pastors who feel a tug to seek a call developing or redeveloping congregations. Maybe I should say, beginning new ministries or helping ministries in crisis renew and revitalize.

Over the course of these years while working with a partner to conduct these interviews, I have met some very talented, committed, energized and dynamic people. Although each person is unique, they all seem to have in common a few things: a passion for sharing the gospel, a talent for creating a vision and mission, and an outgoing, warm personality. I envy the gifts and the creativity these folks have. Believe me, I have learned so much from just listening to their stories. In fact, it was at the end of one of these interviews that I was challenged to take the leap and begin seminary. Quite a surprise since these interviews are NOT about the interviewer.

Anyway, today I did one of these interviews, and again had an enjoyable partner. As usual, I was blessed in the time of conversation with this talented pastor and even learned some things about myself. What a joy! What a gift to the church this pastor is and I pray for their continued ministry!


Day #289

October 16, 2014

Warning - today’s Daily Intersection begins with a cynical tone.

Have you ever felt that trying to do the right thing just ends up taking way too much time and doesn’t do any good anyway?! I felt that way today. Let me explain: I received two emails today that are not mine. Evidently the intended recipient's email address is similar to mine since they have the same last name, but it’s a different first name. The email was important, however, because it was about their 2013 state and local taxes. They have been received and approved. Seems to me that would be an important thing to know, right?! Which is why I took the time to try to correct the error by tracking down the CPA firm that supposedly did this person’s taxes (they are across the country from me, too - go figure?!). I sent an email to the office manager saying that I had received notification about this person by accident. An out-of-office reply came back that they would be gone until the 29th. Okay, I thought, I’ll send one to the manager of the firm. Same thing - an out-of-office reply that they were gone until the 21st. So, after having spent probably thirty minutes of my time on a wild goose chase, I gave up. At least for the time being.

What made me bother to attempt tracking down this error in the first place? Why did I feel somehow responsible for the emails I received? Would this other person have made as much effort to try to correct the mistake if they had received something about me? Do any of these questions matter? Not really. After all, Luke 6:31 reminds me: Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you. (NET)

Okay, I’ll give another try in contacting the CPA firm. Maybe this time it will work.


Day #288

October 15, 2014

One of those “God-cidents” happened today. Another “longtime” friend and I shared afternoon tea, crumpets (goodies, I explained to my husband when he asked just what a crumpet was), and great conversation. She is one of those folks that no matter how long it has been since seeing one another, we can pick right back up where we left off and keep going.

As special as the time was, the “God-cident” was actually in the teacups themselves. This process of cleaning out, sorting, and packing has much emotion tied to it. Items from all sides of our families, going back to great-grandparents in some incidents, bring memories and often tears to the surface. One of those items is a tea-set my grandma left specifically for me before she died. (I wrote about my grandma on Day #157, so you might know how close we were.) Well, the teacup my friend received to drink from today was what looked like a perfect match to that tea-set from grandma. And the one I received was like one from my husband’s grandmother.
 The “God-cidence” was not lost on me - nor the moment of joy in thinking of them as my “longtime” friend and I shared memories and made a new one.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day #287

October 14, 2014

My husband and I spent some time with a friend we have had for years today (I refuse to say an old friend). Actually, I have known this remarkable man since long before I was married. His family and I joined the church on the same day. Eventually I worked for him for a while and we have served on many committees, council, and retreat weekends together. We have many memories and we relived a few when we met.

When I think of him, however, I mostly have admiration. During the time I was his employee, I learned a lot. He was forever having us do continuing education, mostly involved with learning to be better service-oriented employees. Little things such as: before you pick up the phone, stop what you are doing (no matter what it is) and smile. The person on the other end can hear it. I still try to do that today. Amazing how important it makes the caller feel.

Yet, the most important thing I learned from him came through someone he introduced me to. Many years ago, he took under his wing a young man who had become quadriplegic due to a tragic accident. At the time, I was timid around differently-abled folks, not sure how to react to them. His often being around the office and my being encouraged to interact with him helped me realize he was understanding about my reactions to his abilities and made me feel more comfortable. We became friends, too, which probably would have never happened if I had not been nudged by my employer friend.

One thing is for sure, I am thankful for all my friend taught me, encouraged me to do, and the opportunities he opened up for me. I hope he knows how special I think he is!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Day #286

October 13, 2014

It’s been a while since I mentioned thankfulness and what brings that feeling to the surface. Today I am thankful for friends.

For some reason, the peace associated with accomplishments yesterday flew out the window today. It surely is something to be thankful for - to have friends who are there when you need them - to listen, to check on you, to offer suggestions and get information, and to just be there.

(A picture of some of my favorite "friends" from my youth!)

Thank you God for creating us to be relational! You always know best!


Day #285

October 12, 2014

I suppose there is just one word to describe today - accomplishments. Slowly but surely, items are being checked off the list and my fear of running out of time is lessening.

At least that’s how I feel today!


Day #284

October 11, 2014

I have to admit, there was something very weird about this week. Part of what has become ingrained into my weekly routine was missing. Amongst the sorting, packing, cleaning, etc., there was no need (or discipline) for sermon preparation. There was no struggling with the scripture or listening for the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart and head about what to say tomorrow. 

Yep, it's weird! And I'm sure glad this hiatus isn’t going to last for very long!


Day #283

October 10, 2014

Today was a planning day. The upcoming Women in Ministry Retreat four of us have been planning for months is getting closer (within a month) and we spent a good part of today gathered at the retreat site going over details and making final arrangements.

Just so no one feels too sorry for all the detail work, we were in the mountains on a beautiful fall day with crisp, clean air and a hint of changing leaf colors. Not a bad backdrop! And the four of us always find time to enjoy a little laughter and often some food (one planner was kind enough to prepare lunch for us today - homemade soup, etc) and yet still manage to conjure up some creative ideas. Today was no exception.

However, it was a bittersweet time - it’s our last planning time all together. Things are changing like the leaves in the fall. All is well, though. We have the feeling - and hope - our paths will cross again!


Day #282

October 9, 2014

It was back to the cleaning out mode today. You know, getting rid of papers, books and “stuff” can truly be cathartic. No wonder Jesus talked so much about considering where we lay up our treasure.

Trouble is, I’m a tad on the paranoid side about getting rid of all this paper. I’m afraid I’ll ditch something I might end up needing sometime. (No, I’m not really a pack-rat, just cautious about paperwork - too many years in the insurance business, I guess.)

But, truth is, it’s time to look ahead! And travel just a little bit lighter! Max Lucado wrote a whole book about that very thing...Traveling Light. It's actually a favorite of mine.


Day #281

October 8, 2014

One of the fall traditions my husband and I have enjoyed for several years is going to the annual fair in the nearby town. His mother helped judge the flower arranging entries for many years and was able to get us free tickets that started the tradition.

This year we managed to attend on the “canned food drive” night. Admission was free for five cans of donated food for the nearby pantry. What a great idea! And a great reason to stop by the grocery on the way. Judging from the shelves that were nearly empty of the brand requested, MANY others thought the same thing.

So we managed to eat all the fair food (well, not even close to ALL the fair food, but a good amount), saw the exhibits we always enjoy (except cattle judging which was earlier in the week), and enjoyed a night away from packing, sorting and decision-making. It was FUN! And a little bit of fun is important (actually it's VITAL)!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day #280

October 7, 2014

The office was packed. The final details complete (at least all I could think of to do). The recycles dumped in the trash can and the things to leave behind put away as neatly as possible. One last look around, then it hit me...

Six years ago when I came, one of the first things I did was go into the sanctuary and pray. I prayed for the church. I prayed for me - please, dear God, don’t let me mess this up too bad. Help me love the people. Help me be faithful in teaching and preaching and ministering with and to them. Show me what to do and help me do it. And help us work together for good for you.

Obviously, my last thing should be to go into the sanctuary and pray. So I did. Thank you, God, for bringing me to this place. Thank you for the work that has been done, the growth that has taken place, the love that has been shown. Thank you for guiding me, strengthening me, and humbling me. Thank you for the ones whose life on earth ended and thank you for the ones who came into their life on earth while I was here. Be with those who are struggling at this time and those I will not be honored to watch grow up. Help them all to love one another in the days ahead, have hope for the future, and be faithful in sharing the Good News.

You are in God’s good hands. Until we meet again….


Day #279

October 6, 2014

We laid the oldest member of the congregation to her final resting place today with the reminder: ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Truly a humbling moment and a moment of profound grief.

Yet, the outpouring of love and care for the family through the presence of folks and food was indeed heartwarming. But then, I am not surprised. It’s what they do. And they do it well!

May the Lord bless her and keep her. The Lord’s face shine on her with grace and mercy. The Lord look upon her with favor and give her peace. And everyone else, as well!


Day #278

October 5, 2014

I am tempted to just say one word about today - overwhelmed!! Weary as I am, my heart, mind and soul are filled to the brim. The folks are sending me off in style with gifts, cards, prayers, and the lingering of hugs and tears. I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate everything!!

Perhaps the hardest question to answer has been why. Why are you leaving? Why are you going so far away? Will you ever come back? One particular card summed up why I believe God is calling me away. It reads (and I’m summarizing): we could not understand why. We prayed and cried over it and finally came to a place of peace about it. We began to realize that without change the church, and you, cannot grow.

Amen!! Change is the icing on the cake of a time of discernment. It is hard, listening for God’s voice, God’s leading, and God’s ideas of what should be happening in God’s church.

And change is hard. Yet, it is vital. As the sermon ended today, we “just never know what God has in store.” Thanks be to our amazing God.


Day #277

October 4, 2014

Today I wrote my final sermons for the current call. The one for Sunday morning I have been writing in my head for the last couple of weeks. Somewhere between a celebration and a reminder of a couple of storms we’ve weathered, it also includes my hopes for a new pastor. Here is the synopsis:
  • I hope the new pastor would find the congregation trusts their suggestions and decisions as being what is best for the church. And that what is best for the church would drive their decision-making.
  • I hope they would value and appreciate the community. Love is what brings the folks together in worship and service. It’s felt by those who are new to the fold and those who have been around a while.
  • I hope the congregation would quickly recognize the gifts a new pastor brings (knowing they will bring gifts) and graciously receive them.
  • But above all, above anything and everything else, I hope they would deeply love God; for in loving God they will love the church.
Maybe I am being presumptuous to even consider mentioning these things. Yet, in them are some ways I hope the congregation will also be with their next pastor. I believe they are ready for the challenge and the adventure, and will continue trusting God to lead and guide them all the way.


Day #276

October 3, 2014

The phone rang early this morning. Very early. One of the homebound folks I have been visiting for the last several years was at the hospital and not expected to live very long. Unfortunately, I was about three hours from being able to get there. So I got ready as quickly as possible and drove as quickly as possible and arrived just after she died.

Holy ground! To be privileged and honored to be with a family during this time is one of the greatest gifts of being a pastor. And I am privileged and honored to be able to lead her funeral service. All worked out as I believe she would have wanted it.

Thank you Miss Lena for enjoying my visits, the crochet cloths, the stories, and the wisdom of 97 years. You will be missed, but never forgotten!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day #275

October 2, 2014

I feel the need to make an apology. Many moments of intersection over these last weeks have been about my saying goodbye. It may be getting tedious, and I am sorry. Yet, it has permeated my days and this one was no different.

When I first arrived at my current call, I was invited to attend a monthly meeting of Lutheran pastors in the area. Most first Thursdays, these pastors meet to have lunch, share concerns, joys and ideas, sometimes have a program or speaker, but mostly to just enjoy camaraderie and friendship. Over the course of six years, these colleagues have become good friends and an amazing network of support. Many of us have done varied things together: taken mission trips, taught confirmation, worshiped, struggled, prayed, laughed, listened and talked.

Today was my last meeting with these folks. They sent me off in style with a delicious lunch, prayer of godspeed, and a gift - none of which surprised me. This is just the way they are.

I will certainly miss these colleagues. Yet, I believe many of our paths will surely cross again. After all, it’s a very small Lutheran world.


Day #274

October 1, 2014

Six years ago today was my first day going into the office at my current call. Those six years have flown by and during them relationships have been created that will remain bound through the love of Christ forever.

Another anniversary was just a couple days ago. It was the anniversary of my ordination. On September 28th in 2008, at the congregation where we worshiped in our hometown, I became ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament, culminating a dream years in the making.

It was a glorious moment in time and quite an intersection of folks from all aspects of my life and walk of faith. The first picture is with my fantastically supportive and loving husband, the second with sisters in ministry from past (the congregation’s first intern from twenty-fives years or so ago on the right, who is still a good friend) and present (my “adopted daughter” and awesome friend from seminary on the left), and the last with the bishop of our synod (right) and current pastor of the congregation (left).


Day #273

September 30, 2014

In these last weeks at my current call, I’m making my way around to visit all the homebound. I will miss these folks, along with so many others, but one particular person I visit especially appreciates the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

Today as I visited, I reminded this person that God has claimed them and loves them. And with a smile, they looked at me and said, “You, too!”

What a gift in those two words! What a loving reminder! What a humbling experience to also receive what is given! Thanks be to God!


Day #272

September 29, 2014

Today was a reminder of how much a simple phone call can make someone’s day and rekindle a relationship. It has been quite a while since I talked to my only living uncle and today he called. I was surprised and pleased by his reaching out. And reminded of what MY phone call might also mean to someone.

Is there someone who might be waiting on you to call? Today might be a good day to do so.