Thursday, December 31, 2015

Day #730

December 31, 2015

On the 7th Day of Christmas…

Seven of my favorite memories of 2015 - in pictures (it was VERY hard to choose just 7!!!)

     March 1 - as a representative of several baptisms in the year - always a favorite time of worship
     March 15 - one of the first sunsets seen from our new home
     April 7 - baking communion bread for their first Holy Communion - another worship time favorite
     June 25 - Vacation Bible School celebration
     August 22 - a fun family visit
     October 7 - precious time with my friend
     December 14 - part of our decorating our new home for Christmas
Quite a year!!!

Blessings.

Day #729

December 30, 2015

On the 6th Day of Christmas…

A reflection on the promise in Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 6: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests on his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (NRSV)

Just who is this promised child? He is seen as Jesus. And here are at least 6 understandings of him in this verse:
    A child born for us
    A son given to us
    Wonderful Counselor
    Mighty God
    Everlasting Father
    Prince of Peace

Inspired by God Pause, I thought of how one of these understandings may become more, or the most, important to us at any particular time. For instance, when there are times of stress, knowing Jesus as Prince of Peace can bring peace to a troubled heart. Or when there are decisions to be made, or discerned, knowing Jesus as Wonderful Counselor can provide guidance.

My prayer is that help for your needs always be found in the promises and knowledge of Jesus - born for us, given to us - because of God’s love for us.

Blessings.

Day #728

December 29, 2015

On the 5th Day of Christmas…

At least five conversations - deeper than just a quick sentence or two.

What a joy it is to talk with others - sometimes rejoicing, sometimes sharing concerns, sometimes sharing dreams, and often listening. No matter what the purpose, having conversations is good and helpful.

Blessings.

Day #727

December 28, 2015

On the 4th Day of Christmas…

At the 4th hour of the afternoon - a meeting. And a meeting that is indicative of what so many folks do as part of their commitment to being church.

What takes place at a meeting? Planning, hoping, praying, serving, working - and ultimately hoping to be faithful in sharing God’s story and inspiring others to serve.

Blessings.

Day #726

December 27, 2015

On the 3rd Day of Christmas…

I am thankful for three very awesome, very welcome, very wonderful words: I love you.

And three things about those important words:
  • They are spoken in worship by God to us - especially on this 1st Sunday of Christmas through a service of Lessons and Carols
  • They are spoken by friends and family to let them know what they mean to one another
  • They are transformative words
Very important those three words!! And very welcome - I love you!

Blessings.

Day #725

December 26, 2015

On the 2nd Day of Christmas…

My hubby and I spent a couple of hours (plus or minus) on a date: movie and dinner. A rare occasion for us, and totally enjoyable!!

So, on this 2nd day of Christmas...may the force be with you. :-) (Guess what we saw!)

Blessings.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day #724

December 25, 2015

On the 1st Day of Christmas...

A single reminder of just how radical Jesus coming to earth really is:

Blessings.

Day #723

December 24, 2015

On Christmas Eve, what could be more of an intersection of God’s love and grace than three wonderful worship services?!

The sanctuary was beautiful,

the children awesome in acting out the story of Jesus’ birth, the youth joyful/gifted in playing in the “band,” the special music touching, and the congregation present - all things to be thankful for!!!

And even though I left out the line that seemed most important as I prepared the sermon - “as the angel and the glory of the Lord pierced the darkness with Good News for ALL to the shepherds, Jesus pierces our darkness - the darkness of the world - with hope, peace, joy and forgiveness” - God was most present in the Word and the Meal. Thanks be to God!

All in all, a glorious Christmas Eve!

Blessings.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Day #722

December 23, 2015

Had a great question asked at Bible Study: where were you, and how old, when you first heard the story of Jesus’ birth?

I honestly cannot remember for myself, but others shared of Sunday School programs and worship services in different states and in different churches/denominations. A great reminder that the Good News of Jesus’ birth is for all.

Where were you when you first heard: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord (Luke 2:11)?

Blessings.

Day #721

December 22, 2015

What an honor it is to be invited into sharing the intimate feelings/emotions of another. To cry with someone - well, that just may be the ultimate of sharing. To be that real, to allow oneself to be that open and honest, and to be invited into that deep place of hurt - and hope - is, well, awesome!

Thank you! For the honor, the love, the real! Always!!!

Blessings.

Day #720

December 21, 2015

What a treat, and honor, to be invited to a local Hutterite Colony to watch their annual Christmas Program. What joy to see the children celebrate the season and the Good News! What fun to be a guest at such a special time! What welcome into the community!

God’s Good News in the birth of Jesus is for all! But how interesting are the different ways and customs that news is celebrated. Thanks be to God for diversity - and unity - in the message!

Blessings.

Day #719

December 20, 2015

I am humbled - and amazed. In just 719 days of posting, The Daily Intersection has surpassed 10,000 page views! Certainly some of those posts are attributed to me checking my typing, etc. But still, 10,000 page views!?!? I am speechless!

Certainly this has mushroomed way past just a blog started in honor of our Godson. It has become a joy, an expectation, a constant reminder for me that every day there is something to be thankful for, to see God’s presence in, to celebrate, and, sometimes, to lament.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to those 10,000+ views. I pray that each of you are filled with the expectation and joy of God’s presence/intersection in your lives - every day.

And one more thing I am thankful for - a beautiful Cantata worship service!! Thanks be to God for folks sharing their talents and gifts in such a moving way.

Blessings.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Day #718

December 19, 2015 

This quote from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer about Advent sure made me think:
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes—and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside—is not a bad picture of Advent.”
There can be such a sense of darkness in the season of Advent, even as we prepare to celebrate the birthday of the Savior of the world. We can get so caught up in the preparation we miss the joy and hope in God becoming incarnate in Jesus Christ.

So it is good to be reminded that freedom from the darkness, fear, apathy, doubt, and loneliness does come from the outside - in God’s relentless seeking of relationship with us out of love and grace. Quite a lot to think about!

And on a lighter note, it was an afternoon available for baking and cooking with the husband. A rare and wonderful gift to one another. Merry Christmas to come!!!! And there will be lots of goodies to enjoy as we celebrate.

Blessings.

Day #717

December 18, 2015

The staff I work with are dedicated folks who do their best, and I greatly appreciate them!! What fun, then, to get together outside the church walls as we hosted the annual Staff Party/Dinner at our home. It was an honor to do so in order that we could have some fun, laugh together, share a meal, and just relax.

And speaking of being outside the church walls - couldn’t help but share this cartoon I saw. Hehe - and hmmm…..
Blessings.

Day #716

December 17, 2015

Once again, Chris Cash has written words in d365 “think” that speak deeply to my heart:
We're not entirely sure why Mary chooses to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Neither of them had expected to become pregnant until angels showed up, bringing news of what was to come. Mary is younger, Elizabeth is older, but they both are experiencing the disruption of this life-changing event. The bonds of love between them include not just blood relation, but this shared experience. This is a joyous yet uncertain time for them both. God's love is shown to us in many different ways. Sometimes it comes in the form of the love and support of others who know a bit of what it's like to face what we are going through and walk in our shoes. Mary and Elizabeth are able to lovingly walk with one another through this time. Who has been that type of person in your life? Who around you is now going through something you've faced or are still facing? How might the two of you be able to help one another?
I have been fortunate to have countless folks in my life who have walked with me through good times and bad. Sometimes they are folks who experienced something similar - sometimes they are just empathetic folks who show they care - not by giving advice or fixing things, but by just being there to listen and care.

And so, I join with Chris Cash in praying, with deep appreciation:
God of Love, thank you for the gift of others to walk with me through the journey of life. May both my joys and struggles help me be a better friend to others who face similar things. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #715

December 16, 2015

One of my deepest hopes for the people I serve is summed up in this prayer (the author escaped me):
Today, may you experience the relentless, faithful love of God entering your world. May it change you. May that same love send you out into this world to relentlessly, faithfully love others as you have been loved.
To know deep in my being the depth of God’s love for me has transformed me in ways I could never have imagined. My hope is the same for others. And that this love will surely transform our world!!!

Blessings.

Day #714

December 15, 2015

d365 for December 15th included these words for “think” from Chris Cash:
Today, take time to cry out to God about the pain in the world and even in your own life. Ask God to bring healing and set things right. But be prepared: one of the ways God might want to do this is by working through your hands, feet, and voice.
Perhaps there are no truer words - for God does need our hands, feet and voice to bring healing and set things right. How we act, what we say, and where we go makes a difference. Are our actions ones that promote peace and build relationships, or are they doing the opposite?

Perhaps this struck home even more after hearing Barry Beach’s talk about the power of prayer in his life. Perhaps I needed a reminder of what prayer has meant/does mean in my life as I experience God working to transform me.

Thank you, Chris Cash, for your helpful words! May I be convicted and moved to action by them!

Blessings.

Day #713

December 14, 2015

My husband and I were personally invited to a public gathering of supporters for Barry Beach and I am very glad we went!

To say that I am humbled by his sharing just a little bit of his experience is an understatement. He is such an articulate man, with a deep faith he talks about easily. As I listened, it occurred to me that having endured decades in prison only deepened his reliance on God - and helped him to put into words what that reliance means to him.

What a gift his sharing was to me and I am grateful I had the opportunity to hear him firsthand and again be in his presence!

Blessings.

Day #712

December 13, 2015

What a day!! How thankful I am for so many folks who are helping prepare for Christmas - a Youth Band practicing for the Christmas Eve early worship service and folks who baked and packaged cookies for delivery to homebound members/friends are but a couple. I very much appreciate folks chipping in to help!

But I’m most thankful for the congregation’s welcome of Barry Beach! For more about Barry Beach, here’s just one article that helps tell his story just after his recent release: Barry Beach Interview. It certainly was heartwarming - and Christlike - to see folks graciously welcome him at worship.

Then the day ended with another fun time at Carols and Beer at a local pub. Singing carols and being with folks having fun - a good way to end a very good day.

Blessings.

Day #711

December 12, 2015

With less than two weeks until Christmas, it’s no wonder the day was spent shopping and decorating. Yet, there was also work to do - if you want to call making a visit and having a chance to hear one of the youth at their recital work. :-)

And those friends/colleagues who gathered for dinner last night (Day #710) included a couple we had the fun to host overnight, so they didn’t have to drive a long distance home afterward. Just an addition to the joy of the season!!

Blessings.

Day #710

December 11, 2015

One thing I really appreciate is having colleagues in ministry. I have been fortunate to have trusted colleagues in both calls - folks I can bounce ideas off of, look to for guidance and wisdom, trade covering for one another in times of vacation or needed time away, and those who I count as friends.

A tradition started long before I came to this call is to gather for dinner at Christmastime with other Lutheran clergy-types. What a fun time it is - being with those who share this wonderful calling. It is good to just be together, include spouses, sing a few Christmas carols, and even share a birthday celebration.

So at the end of a beautiful weather day (rare in these parts!) was quite a wonderful gathering. Feeling very fortunate and thankful!

Blessings.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day #709

December 10, 2015

Making decisions is something we do every day. But, how do we make them? Maybe the answer depends on what the decision is about. Sometimes, with tougher decisions, I listen to the voice in my head, trying to discern if what it says comes from God. Other times I search to find some peace in my heart about a decision - which option seems to settle my heart instead of making it anxious.

The prayer from the d365 devotion brought to mind the thoughts about making decisions: Oh God, what shall I do? Help me to listen, to pay attention, and to respond to your presence that is alive and at work within me and within the world. Amen.

Perhaps the most important part of that prayer is not about making a decision, but about how I “respond.” Does what I think I hear move me to a response that is a building-up of a relationship, of the community, etc? Does what I think I hear move me to a response based in love, mercy or justice? What consequences might there be from my decision/response?

There is much to consider about decisions in these days where responses seem to be ending more often in violence or judgment. How can we help others listen, pay attention, and respond in a God-like way?

Blessings.

Day #708

December 9, 2015

In preparation for John the Baptist’s words hundreds of years ago for those who came to hear his message (check out Luke 3:7-18), this prayer from the d365 devotion hits home:
God, it’s so easy to make surface level changes, but I know that the changes I make from within are the ones that matter the most. Help me to know what needs to be cut away in order to create space for new life to be birthed within me. Transform me from the inside out. Amen.
Something to consider, however: the prayer mentions changes I make from within, but can I really change myself from within in any way? Just like, can I actually figure out what needs to be cut away? For example, we can know that a short temper isn’t healthy and needs transformation from within. But, can we really change any of our feelings on our own? Certainly we can learn ways to deal with feelings, maybe through what can be a very long process of learning. But transformation, I believe, really comes from God.

And, the good news, God never gives up and never tires from our seeking transformation. Thanks be to God!!

Blessings.

Day #707

December 8, 2015

Saw this and really appreciate the “new” take on the Christmas Season (remember “Jesus is the reason for the season?”)
Also, there was this quote, or rather this question, from the presenter of a continuing education event about our place in creation: “can you love what you cannot control?” There are so many things we cannot control, but can we love...the weather? Other people? God? Hmmm...CAN we love what we cannot control?

Blessings.

Day #706

December 7, 2015

This may have been said before, but it truly is an honor and joy to be asked to pray, and then do so, with someone. As the hymn goes, “what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

Joseph Scriven, the writer of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” must have known the power and peace that comes through prayer. It is doubled, I believe, when the prayer is with/for someone else. I have certainly felt it, and am thankful for every opportunity.

Blessings.

Day #705

December 6, 2015

How fortunate I am to be able to spend time in worship – to sing, to pray, to be with community, to hear where God has been seen at work; then, getting to spend time with youth in Sunday School, making gifts for others, having fun, learning. It’s all so wonderful!

Perhaps all that joy just spilled over into lunch. We went to a place we often go to get a quick, delicious meal, and were just being friendly with the waitress. So we thought. As we were preparing to leave, she said something like: thank you for being so nice. You were fun to wait on, and really turned what has been a bad day with grumpy customers upside down.

Well, there you go! How wonderful to spread joy, uplift others, and thereby be uplifted! Thanks be to God!

Blessings.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Day #704

December 5, 2015

Saw this and thought, wow! Why didn’t I think of this?!


Next year?! Or maybe for Lent?!

Blessings.

Day #703

December 4, 2015

We went to buy a tree - a once-live tree. Helping out at the tree lot were a couple of men from the Transition Center Pre-Release program, described as “a cost-effective alternative to incarceration for offenders through a variety of community-based correctional/treatment programs.”

Men from Pre-Release have helped out at a couple of events at the congregation where I serve. I was talking with the person taking payment about the benefits of the program. I told him I was familiar with Pre-Release because I was the pastor at a church that had benefited from its helpers, and that I am glad they are at the tree lot. He then told me how much the program appreciates the congregation. He even said, “were it not for you folks, we would be in a world of hurt.”

What a wonderful testimony to those who have a passion to accompany folks in this situation! I’m pleased, too, that I was able to pass along the sentiment/conversation to one of them.

Blessings.

Day #702

December 3, 2015

Read about a man in Oregon who befriends and takes pictures of homeless folks, then writes about their stories. What a gift! Here is a link to his FaceBook page: Pedro On the World

Blessings.

Day #701

December 2, 2015

Wondering how it first began, I did the obvious - Googled the Heimlich Maneuver. According to Wikipedia, it was first described by Dr. Henry Heimlich in some first aid instruction in 1974. I wonder just how many people over the years have benefited from the action? I know one personally and today witnessed a second.

It is not something you want to have to do very often (or even observe), but what a blessing that people use their God-given talents and skills to figure out ways to help others. Thank you for that, Dr. Heimlich.

And thank you to the person who mustered the courage to try it. It was just what was needed!

Blessings.

Day #700

December 1, 2015

As I gathered with colleagues to study and contemplate the scripture readings for Sunday, I was reminded that God also asks for us to move - in action. Preparation for Christ’s coming really means more than just reading, praying and worshiping - it also means moving, as in our feet, our mouths, and our hands. Helpful!

Then there was this reminder from the “out of the mouths of babes” file: Four year old, out of the blue, says to mom - “I’m thankful God created the greatest. Do you know who that is?” Who is that, mom asks? “That’s us!” Yep, God made us all, dear preschooler. Thank you for your observation!

And from the “something to think about” file:
Blessings.

Day #699

November 30, 2015

On the 30th day of November, I am thankful for…
Thirty days of being intentional about noticing things for which to be thankful - and the reminder that every day there is something worthy of being thankful for. Every day - all year through!
Blessings.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Day #698

November 29, 2015

On the 29th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Worship
  • Folks who share signs of God’s presence in the world
  • A little girl whose mom says she remembers me in her bedtime prayers every night since she met me just a couple weeks ago (very humbling)
  • Sabbath rest
  • Heating pads
Blessings.

Day #697

November 28, 2015

On the 28th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • A reminder from the devotion d365 about the wisdom of CS Lewis written In the Chronicles of Narnia where Aslan has this to say about signs (another way of thinking about the ones in Sunday’s gospel - Luke 21:25-36): “First, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning... Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.” C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, 1953
  • A phone message from someone that the sermon last week inspired her to serve others for Thanksgiving (it’s a first time for getting a message like that) - God at work!
Blessings.

Day #696

November 27, 2015

On the 27th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • The “usual” amount of time for sermon preparation ;-)
  • Reconnecting with my husband (it’s been busy lately)
  • Good news from a friend that his tests were negative!
Blessings.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Day #695

November 26, 2015

On the 26th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • A day set aside for giving thanks! 
  • A full table of food, folks, and fun
Blessings.

Day #694

November 25, 2015

On the 25th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Colleagues
  • Study
  • Staff
  • My husband
  • Worship
  • Invitations for fellowship
  • Accomplishing tasks
  • And, most definitely, the good news that cancer lesions are shrinking!!!!!
Really, I’m just plain thankful on this Thanksgiving Eve.

Blessings.

Day #693

November 24, 2015

On the 24th day of November, I am thankful for…
Thomas G. Long and his book, Preaching from Memory to Hope, as he quotes (and I summarize) Richard Dawkins: God isn't an object we must prove exists. By God's very nature God is transcendent and invisible, thereby unable to be proven. And that ultimately God chose to be revealed in Jesus Christ, who we also cannot unequivocally prove existed(s). Proving God exists is like proving love exists. It's not about proof, it's about faith, experience, and the hope that love does exist. Long goes on to talk about "subtraction theory." This is the notion that in order for civilization to move forward, all ideas and understandings of old must be completely let go. For example, if science disproves the Genesis creation theory, people must let that understanding go completely, or risk looking foolish and backward. I'm thankful that through Long’s words I am reminded that what we Christians truly need to share is God as being love and grace. Of course, we know that love and grace cannot be proven, but we also know they have the power to transform. I suppose in the end for me, I realize proving my faith isn’t necessary, but then worrying about looking foolish isn’t either.
Blessings.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Day #692

November 23, 2015

On the 23rd day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Prayer with a friend
  • A thoughtful note from a longtime friend 
  • A thoughtful note from a stranger, perhaps new friend
Blessings.

Day #691

November 22, 2015

On the 22nd day of November, I am thankful for…
  • A simply glorious worship of celebration
  • Celebrating forty-five years of ordination for women in the Lutheran Church!! And all the female pastors who have been mentors and trail-blazers!!
  • A bishop (female, by the way) who I can relate to and with whom I can share collegial concerns
  • A husband who goes with the flow
  • A fun time of anniversary celebration with many attending and many sharing their gifts of planning, welcoming, decorating, etc. But mostly that it was joyful even with an unexpected disappointment.
  • Kind reporters
Blessings.

Day #690

November 21, 2015

On the 21st day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Well, sometimes it is just hard to be thankful in the midst of disappointment, yet the celebration is truly all about Jesus. So I am thankful for that reminder!
Blessings.

Day #689

November 20, 2015

On the 20th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Checking items off the “to do” list
  • Folks who make me smile - and will joke with me and let me joke with them
Blessings.

Day #688

November 19, 2015

On the 19th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Finding something to be thankful for in the midst of disappointment - especially having to share news that I know will disappoint others greatly
  • Laughter and good conversations with colleagues in ministry
  • Disagreement and discussion in respectful ways by those who willingly listen to each other's opinion
  • A husband who accepts me, even when I am really tired and grumpy
Blessings.

Day #687

November 18, 2015

On the 18th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Energy that comes when I am spent
  • Good conversations and opinion sharing - actually for folks listening and talking with one another in respectful ways
Blessings.

Day #686

November 17, 2015

On the 17th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Folks who will talk through situations until a workable solution is found
  • Phone calls for possibilities from out of the blue - God is at work!!!
Blessings.

Day #685

November 16, 2015

On the 16th day of November, I am thankful for…
  • Having a one-year anniversary in this place of ministry with these fellow travelers with Christ
  • A very favorable article on the front page of the local paper regarding the 125th Anniversary celebration for the congregation. Here’s the link: Tribune
Blessings.

Day #684

November 15, 2015

On the 15th day of November, I am thankful for…so very much!
  • Baptizing a sweet little boy!
  • Blessing quilts, personal care packs and school kits for Lutheran World Relief and nearly 2,000 cans of food for local school food pantries
  • Sharing the Good News with lots of kids for Children’s Message
  • Talking with kids in Sunday School
  • Being able to share moments of joy and thoughts of sorrow in prayer
What a day!!! Thanks be to God!!!

Blessings.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Day #683

November 14, 2015

On the 14th day of November, I am thankful for…
The words of Anne Lamott: “Grace always does bat last, and the light always overcomes the darkness--always, historically. But not necessarily later the same day, or tomorrow, after lunch. Wendell Berry told me 25 years ago, in Advent, the darkest shortest days of winter, “It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born.” But it is only November 13! It gets even darker.” She goes on to say: “So after an appropriate time of being stunned, in despair, we show up. Maybe we ask God for help. We do the next right thing. We buy or cook a bunch of food for the local homeless. We return phone calls, library books, smiles. We make eye contact with others, and we go to the market and flirt with old or scary unusual people who seem lonely. Tom Weston taught me decades ago that in the face of human tragedy, we go around the neighborhood and pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow. It is another blessed sacrament. We take the action and the insight will follow: that we are basically powerless, but we are not helpless.” I am thankful that folks like Anne Lamott can say the thoughts in my mind with words that help me have hope in the midst of darkness - for France, certainly, but really for all parts of the world where people live with fear and uncertainty. Lord, have mercy, we cry - and the Lord does! 
Celebrating one year since we arrived in this city. What a wonderful first year! 
An unexpected "just thinking of you" phone call from a mentor/pastor/friend!
Blessings.

Day #682

November 13, 2015

On the 13th day of November, I am thankful for…
A little bit of down time - and accomplishing some tasks around the house. 
A very patient husband who understands that when I need to go to/for someone, I need to go. And he never complains. I am so thankful for him!
Blessings.

Day #681

November 12, 2015

On the 12th day of November, I am thankful for…
Delightful visits with the elderly. So gracious, so sweet, so thankful to be visited. A joy! 
Accomplishing tasks - ones that have been hanging around on the "to do" list for a while. Also a joy!
Blessings.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Day #680

November 11, 2015

On the 11th day of November, I am thankful for…
Veterans! Yes,
Blessings.

Day #679

November 10, 2015

On the 10th day of November, I am thankful for…
Colleagues with whom I can discuss scripture, laugh, be honest, and dream about ministry. 
Creative folks who share excellent ideas. 
Grace and forgiveness from someone when I forget something I promised to do. (And prayers that doesn't happen too often!)
Blessings.

Day #678

November 9, 2015

On the 9th day of November, I am thankful for…
The generosity of folks - yet again - who are being hugely generous in bringing canned food to donate to local school food banks. It’s amazing the number of cans so far. 
Friends who read this blog - and send encouraging comments. 
Talking with parents about baptizing their child. Holy ground!
Blessings.

Day #677

November 8, 2015

On the 8th day of November, I am thankful for…
Folks who work very hard to help others, cooking and serving lunch to raise funds to give away. Awesome! And the generosity of those who attend!! Awesome, too! 
The honor to hold worship at a retirement home.
Blessings.

Day #676

November 7, 2015

On the 7th day of November, I am thankful for…
Seeing members out and about in town and having a chance to do ministry through conversation. Even if it’s only for a couple of minutes and a brief sharing of a concern, it’s still an honor to have folks share their life with me.
Blessings.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Day #675

November 6, 2015

On the 6th day of November, I am thankful for:
Good news for those who are sick that I love and care about. Especially that the growth of cancer appears to have stopped!! Also, for good surgery and for good healing. So very thankful!
Blessings.

Day #674

November 5, 2015

On the 5th day of November, I am thankful for:
Laughter. And the comment that I bring laughter to a place. Yes, I tend to try and see the humor in things. I am thankful for that gift - and pray I use it appropriately!!
Blessings.

Day #673

November 4, 2015

On the 4th day of November, I am thankful for:
Bible Study – and the two groups of folks who will discuss and wrestle with what scripture readings might really mean! And who also challenge me to learn better how to articulate faith and understanding!
Blessings.

Day #672

November 3, 2015

On the 3rd day of November, I am thankful for:
The persistence of a helper with the office equipment who keeps trying to restore the computer! Very thankful!! And also thankful that what he is doing seems to be working!
Blessings.

Day #671

November 2, 2015

On the 2nd day of November, I am thankful for:
Colleagues in ministry. I have the opportunity/honor to serve as Chaplain for the First Call Theological Education retreat. This three-day retreat is specifically for new pastors in the Synod (within three-years) who meet in order to get to know one another, learn, share ideas, and share laments. They are an awesome group of folks! I am thankful for the honor to be among them, and to worship.
Blessings.

Day #670

November 1, 2015


With the beginning of November, my thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and to giving thanks. If you are a regular here, you know I sometimes write about "word of the day" and it is often “thankful” (or something similar). So, how about thirty days of things to be thankful for?

Here are a couple to start off the month. On the 1st day of November, I am thankful for:
  1. A meaningful time of worship for All Saints Sunday. The opportunity was given for folks to come forward during worship to light a candle in memory of someone. What an honor to watch (and help) with this! It was again evident how much it means to remember/honor someone in this way because it showed on people's faces, some streaked with tears. Can you imagine how much it would mean for those being remembered to know they have never left our thoughts and hearts? Thanks be to God for all the Saints!
  2. FINALLY trying Lutefisk – a Norwegian fish dish I had not tried before. And guess what? I liked it (could I be a little Norwegian, too??)! It seems there are two very distinct camps – those who like it and those who wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. Now we finally know which camp I’m in. Haha.
Blessings.

Day #669

October 31, 2015

I just have to share pictures of two of our favorite trick-or-treaters:

Our animal-loving Godson/elephant:
And our pony-loving Great Niece/cowgirl (with official western boots, of course!):
Both are just too cute! 

And along with those - a very
to my Halloween-baby Husband! I sure do love you!

Blessings.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day #668

October 30, 2015

The "Think" portion from the devotion d365 sure made me "think." Cari Patterson writes:
And yet sometimes it’s all we can do to take that love in. Last night as I struggled to sleep, behind on a deadline and face broken out, head pounding and stomach hurting, all I could do was cry out for that Love. 
I let myself breathe deep, imagining God whispering my name, “I love you.” And me saying back, “I love you too.” Sometimes that’s all we can muster. We matter to God.
Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night with something on your mind that wouldn’t let go? Boy, I sure have. So I needed to read this - and be reminded that everything about us matters to God.

Good news? You bet!

Blessings.

Day #667

October 29, 2015

I have been reminded this week of just how much we rely on technology. And what can be the result of being unplugged from or unable to use our “devices.”

The office computer has been down (thank you to the angel of mercy who continues to try and repair it!) and it sure has put a hamper on getting work done. Can you get me…? Nope, it’s in the computer. I heard that more than once this week. What a trooper the secretary has been in trying to keep busy and do as much as possible.

Are we too dependent on computers? Well, that’s a silly question. Of course, we are. I mean, that’s the way of the world. And they can be great! But this week I’ve been missing the days of paper and pencil, typewriters and mimeograph machines.

Well, maybe not! :-)

Blessings.

Day #666

October 28, 2015

Day number "666." I couldn't help but think, ewww! What a yucky number!

It brought back a memory from some point in my early life when I was told that this number might one day be branded on my skin - and that I should be very afraid of that happening.

Later I learned that was some kind of teaching based on an understanding of the book of Revelation that isn’t truth. There is nothing to fear in this "yucky" number! No, the "brand" that has been placed on me (and thousands of others) was made by God - a God of love and grace. It was placed there in baptism - as I was marked with the cross of Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Forever!

Have no fear of what cannot/does not have power over us. Be that death, fear of separation, a number, etc. God is almighty and all-powerful! Amen!

Blessings.

Day #665

October 27, 2015

Last Sunday was Reformation Sunday - this Sunday is All Saints. While some dread this day of remembering those who have died, I find hope and comfort. It’s not the end, even though it seems like it.

So I was taken aback when I read this question on a blog: “why do some die and others don’t?” I mean, ALL die. Eventually. I know the question is meant to be about why some die at certain times while others don’t - like in a tragic accident, natural disaster, or from certain diseases. I get that. But when I just glanced at the question, it made me stop and ponder: do we gloss over the reality of death in an attempt to defeat it?

Oh, but we don’t have to! The sting of death and its finality has been defeated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen!

And that’s the hope and comfort I find in All Saints Sunday!

Blessings.

Day #664

October 26, 2015

We’re getting ready for Halloween. We haven’t carved a pumpkin in YEARS! We haven’t really lived in a place with children for years, so this year we’re anticipating, hoping, for lots. So we carved a pumpkin with big ideas on how to show it off.

Until then, here’s a preview:


Aren't colors from inside awesome? We found this little hat thing that goes on top of the pumpkin and lights it up without candles. And changes colors while doing so. Can’t wait to show it off.

Blessings.

Day #663

October 25, 2015

Reformation Worship! A big day celebrated in a big way!

What’s so big about Reformation? Perhaps it’s simply the excuse to hear, really hear with joy and celebration, once again, that God loves us!

The Children’s Message included a red balloon - tied to the communion rail. I asked what it meant to be free. There were some great answers. Then I asked if the balloon was free. Nope, it’s tied. Well, if I untie it and hold it, is it free. Nope, it's still held back. Well, what if I let it go? And as they watched the balloon ascend all the way to the ceiling…
I said, Jesus loves us, sets us free, to love others.

And no ceiling can stop that!!

Blessings.

Day #662

October 24, 2015

This came from Rev. Matt Dobyns in God Pause, a devotional email from Luther Seminary, and I had to share:
I hear with some regularity that church is only a place people go to feel good for a time. I guess that when we are in the presence of the promises of baptism and communion this is probably the case, but I think there is much more to it than that. I think something happens when we are welcomed into the presence of our shepherd even while the stench of our sin is on us. God's promise takes hold of us and transforms us. No doubt this ought to make us feel good. And when we get back to our everyday lives we can rest assured that we are not on our own. God does not abandon us. We have been cleansed and set free. That is a promise I hold close. 
Loving shepherd, thank you for wiping away my sin. Transform me to be your loving presence in this world. Amen.
I especially like the prayer at the end. Church IS more than just going to feel good for a time. No, church (or I would say worship, study and prayer) is a place to go to be transformed. God has work for us to do, and we need the community of others in Christ to be strengthened for that work.

Surely is something to think about - that “church” isn’t just all about me!

Blessings.

Day #661

October 23, 2015

Yesterday I mentioned continuing education around the Book of Concord.
What gems I am reminded it contains - what pearls of wisdom! Perhaps the size is daunting. Perhaps the language seems archaic. Perhaps the idea that someone(s) 500 years ago didn’t have a clue what life might be like today keeps us from reading and studying it.

Now, it’s certainly not scripture, but it certainly IS good news. I mean, who doesn’t need to hear about God’s love and grace being available for all? I sure do - and am thankful for a couple of days to focus on it (and get some tips for a Reformation Sunday sermon, too. YAY!).

Blessings.

Day #660

October 22, 2015

Time again for some more Continuing Education. This time it’s Luther Lectures with Dr. Tim Wengert. I'm thinking he's a good one to hear since his name is one of two on the side of the blue Book of Concord as editor. Just saying. :-)

And he's got some pretty awesome stuff to talk about - reminders of the early stages of the Reformation as theologians discovered again God’s love and grace.

But mainly, isn’t this a beautiful setting for such an event!? (Thank you Daryle for the picture I snagged from your FaceBook page!!!)

Beats some dreary room that Martin Luther probably had, that's for certain!

Blessings.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day #659

October 21, 2015

Some days there are opportunities for deep conversations that make me so very thankful for what I do. Deep questions that can only be answered by faith. Wonderings about who God is, how God loves us, ways we can be assured of God’s love and grace, etc. asked by folks who deeply want to know of God. Conversations that are holy ground and that I am grateful to be a part of having.

Prayers that the fruit of the questioning is assurance and peace.

Blessings.

Day #658

October 20, 2015

Spent some time at a Family Promise Appreciation event. Similar to hearing about Veterans Court (see Day #657), we heard testimonies from families who have been helped that bring tears to your eyes and warmth to your heart.

Perhaps we all have times that bring us low in life, but to have others care enough to give of their time, talent and treasure to help means more than can be adequately said. Again, grace in action bringing hope for the future and a new lease at life. Amazing!

Blessings.

Day #657

October 19, 2015

Heard for the first time today about an amazing program called Veterans Court. (See this link for more: Justice for Vets) Designed specifically for former military service veterans who have gotten into civilian criminal trouble, this is an alternative to incarceration. Not an easy way out, it is a program that brings together many professionals who work with a person to change the course of their life.

We heard from a graduate of the program. His testimony is heart-wrenching, yet full of hope. How many people could benefit from such a program? Could this model be used for others than veterans?

How exciting to think of the possibilities! How hopeful to think there are those willing to give folks second chances! Grace in action, I would say.

Blessings.

Day #656

October 18, 2015

This was left on the bulletin board in one of the rooms used for Family Promise as they moved on to the next congregation.

Is that not just awesome?!

Blessings.

Day #655

October 17, 2015

At the annual meeting for Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, the chair of the board of directors shared the essence of an inspirational speech he heard years ago. It stuck with him, and will probably do so with me. He said that the speaker challenged the group to do “just a little bit more.”

How the chair used this concept with us was to ask: will you do just a little bit more and tell one person about camp? Just tell one more person than you have before, because if everyone does this, that’s approximately fifty more people to hear about Flathead. That's how the story spreads.

But there are so many things the concept can also relate to - a little bit more loving, a little bit more serving, a little bit more giving. I know many of us do all we think we can already. But is there just a little bit more in us? Yes, with the help of God, I believe there is.

Hmm...just a little bit more!

Blessings.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Day #654

October 16, 2015

This jumped out at me when I saw it on FaceBook:
I have a suggested change to the change, however. The WORLD says God will love us if we change, NOT religion. But that’s just me!

As to the grace of the Gospel changing us? Well, I’m in total agreement with that! :-)

Blessings.

Day #653

October 15, 2015

Embarrassed!

Yes, that sums up how I feel about missing a meeting because I had the wrong time in my head. A meeting I really wanted to attend, not only needed to since I’m an officer who should have made a report.

Oh, man! You know that feeling when you realize you just missed something important because you messed up?!

But I also hope you know that feeling when you are given grace, forgiveness, and understanding. It sure is good to know there are folks who are quick to give these.

Yes, I am very thankful for those who give grace, and reminded to do the same for others.

Blessings.

Day #652

October 14, 2015

Confirmation Class! It’s so much fun being with these young people who engage, think, consider, and ask some amazing questions. And what a joy to lead with other adults who love these teens, care deeply for and about them, and have a passion to help them learn about God in their life!

Blessings.

Day #651

October 13, 2015

It is Family Promise (see Day #397 for explanation of the program and here (Family Promise) for more information nationally) week at the congregation. There is much activity with many young folks bustling around, getting settled in and becoming comfortable in a safe place. It is inspiring to see them look forward with hope to what life can be in the future.

I am so pleased that we participate in this way of walking with folks in some very difficult times in life. It is an honor and joy - and truly living the Gospel!

Blessings.

Day #650

October 12, 2015

It’s another one of those thankful days - for birthday celebrations, for others' healing from surgery and illness, and for lots of planning time in meetings. Lots of exciting things are happening. There are lots of things to anticipate. There is lots of growth and joy. There is just plain lots to be thankful for!

Blessings.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day #649

October 11, 2015

From feeling healthy and energized, to experiencing joyful worship, to having some time with my most patient husband, to getting a little rest, to finalizing some wedding planning, to staying over for Family Promise, to getting caught up on blogging, it seems the appropriate word for the day would be GREAT! Simply a great day!

Blessings.

Day #648

October 10, 2015

While there are sometimes moments that can be heartbreaking doing what I do (funerals, hospice, hospitals, relationship endings, are a few), there are also moments that are filled with much joy and fun. Seven confirmation students spent time on retreat Friday afternoon/night until Saturday afternoon. Laughter, learning, play, chores, sleeping (or not), and just being together describes but a little of the honor of being with them.

Much thanks to parents who sent their youth, an adult leader who loves being with them and is simply amazing, and the generosity of a family who allowed us to spend time at their cabin! It was a great time with some awesome youth!

Blessings.

Day #647

October 9, 2015

Two for the day:

1. Dan Valasakos writes the following in God Pause for October 9 that struck close to home:
In my younger days I was far from being faithful to living as the child whom God had claimed and sealed in baptism. Later, I felt I owed God so much. How could I ever repay? What must I do? But as I continue to live by faith in Christ I continue to grow into a new mindset. I am coming to realize that faith isn't so much about what I must do, but what I do to benefit others because of the influence of God's grace at work in me. Life flows not from doing, but from being a child of God. 
I am human with normal human dreams and desires. Their power waxes and wanes in their influence in what I do in my life. But I give praise for the love and word of Christ that comes to me new each and every day. For it seems that every day I can see the Lord's loving glance at me as he says, "Hurry up and be done with those things. Then come, and follow me." 
Lord Jesus, may I continually feel your loving gaze and hear your words of love. Amen.
2. An article from Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry’s “Special Partner Update” about the Pope’s recent United States visit. HuffPost Religion studied the text of all of his speeches and homilies to see which words were used most frequently. They captured this image about the essence of his message.
For more, here is a link to the article about his words on the gift of life, the value of love, family relationships and God: What Words Did Pope Francis Use The Most During His Visit To The U.S.?

Blessings.

Day #646

October 8, 2015

From the Moravian Daily Prayer for October 8:
Blessed Christ Jesus, you have our eternal thanks. You understand our deepest needs and present them, with love, to God. May we choose to be living witnesses, to present our hearts in prayer, and to gratefully celebrate the lives we’ve been blessed to have. Amen.
AMEN!!!!

Blessings.

Day #645

October 7, 2015

These are hours of Holy Ground time. Trying to make memories that will last a lifetime - and having deep, honest conversations so that nothing is left unsaid. That’s what you do when you love someone who is battling cancer. And I am so very thankful for every single minute!

Blessings.

Day #644

October 6, 2015
So what is something you do when you are learning how to "live large" with cancer? You eat dessert for dinner. Haha!

Blessings.

Day #643

October 5, 2015

Some days there are just too many intersections to count, but here are the top five of the day in no particular order:

1. So very proud of the Confirmation Class for the CROP walk. Here are a couple photos from October 4th.
Yes, they were ready (with their families) to walk/run in the rain/snow/slush/cold. And just these four raised over $350 to help end hunger. They're awesome!!!
2. Snagged this from FaceBook. Truly, I feel it deep in my heart:
3. I am well enough to make my trip! Yay!
4. Watching the plane land from my window seat on one of the three legs of the trip, I could see the shadow of the plane on the ground. As the plane lowered, coming closer and closer to the ground, the shadow became smaller and smaller. It is how I envision us allowing God to be closer and closer to us. As we do, our selfish needs and desires become smaller until God overshadows "us." It is a humbling and awesome thought.
5. Another “Simon says” and a photo.
Isn’t he adorable!?!?! In the photo he is making hospital visits with his mom. But here are the words of wisdom: "When they asked him in his new Sunday School Class where his favorite places to go were he said the hospital to tell them Jesus loves them." Ok, so that might top them all! But then, maybe I am a tad prejudice. :-)

Blessings.

Day #642

October 4, 2015

Well, we've had the first snowfall of the year. And it’s beautiful! Here’s a picture to prove it. :-)

Blessings.

Day #641

October 3, 2015

These are some beautiful words from God Pause for 10/3:
“When I was in trouble, Jesus lifted me.” No reprimand, no advice, no carefully worded email, but a God who reaches down and takes you by the hand and lifts you from your knees and causes you to stand. It is not the dusty miracle of yesterday. It is today’s grace.”
Are there still miracles? You bet! God’s grace itself is a miracle. A miracle gift. And really, after that, all else in life is gravy.

Blessings.

Day #640

October 2, 2015

The worst part of being sick is being short on patience. SO much needs to get done before my trip, and having very little energy is not good. So the result - being short-tempered and grumpy with those around me.

Thankfully there is understanding, forgiveness, and being cut some slack. It's the most wonderful part of being shown care and concern. Again, THANK YOU!!!

Blessings.

Day #639

October 1, 2015

Boo! Another sick day. Yet, another day of receiving care and concern. Thank you again!!!!

Blessings.

Day #638

September 30, 2015

Sick?!?! Seriously?!?!

Ok, being sick may not be an “Intersection” moment. But how those around me are showing care and concern is. Thank you!!!!

Blessings.

Day #637

September 29, 2015

It’s long past time for another “Simon says!” This one came by way of a FB post after his mom told our godson they hope to come for a visit next year. She said: "He jumped up and down and ran around in circles yelling, “yay! I’m so excited!” He said his godfriend promised him there were fish there.

Have to LOVE it! Fish or no fish, a visit sounds amazing!!!

Blessings.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Day #636

September 28, 2015

The Book Club meets tonight to discuss this month’s selection, Crossroads by Wm. Paul Young (author of The Shack). An enjoyable book including all sorts of aspects of life: regret, anger, closed-mindedness, Alzheimer’s, healing, and more.

But my favorite quote the author included came from Rainer Maria Rilke: "A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them, they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship."

A comforting thought as I think about some of the last conversations with my parents, parishioners, and a few others before they died. Very comforting!

Blessings.

Day #635

September 27, 2015

The Blood Moon Eclipse, 2015. While we tried to get pictures and had a beautiful view, they didn't work out. So, I snagged this picture by Mike Mezeul II off Facebook.
What an amazing occurrence!

Blessings.

Day #634

September 26, 2015

After more good information at the continuing ed conference, husband and I got all dressed up to go and celebrate with some very special women. We didn’t want to miss the gala, especially due to one of the winners of the YWCA Salute to Women 2015 - friend, colleague, parishioner, hard-working woman as Director of Family Promise of Great Falls.

An enjoyable evening was had by all! And here we are as we aren't seen often - gussied up. :-)
Blessings.

Day #633

September 25, 2015

Time for some continuing education - about preaching. Since I am always looking for improved ways to convey God’s love and grace through the sermon, I’m glad for the sharing of two well-known and respected instructors.

How does the scripture serve as a lens for God’s work in our lives? How does life and faith intersect (sounds familiar, right?!)? How is story an integral part of sharing God’s care for us and creation? These are but some of the questions being explored.

And as an example, one of the instructors, Dr. Thomas Long, told a great story that went something like this.
A pastor in NY began their ministry in 2008, just before the “economic downturn.” As things progressively got worse, the mantra of meetings became, “what will be the next shoe to drop?” After weeks and months of living in fear of what might be next, the pastor left a meeting one day and collapsed in their office chair. Please God, they prayed, no more shoes! 
Not seconds later there was a knock on the door with the words, pastor, you need to come downstairs to the clothing pantry right away. Oh no, thought the pastor. What now!? Waiting were two police officers. Pastor, they said, we just raided a counterfeit shoe factory, and have 70 pairs of boots we were wondering if you could use.
Yep, God never ceases to surprise or amaze. How can those of us who preach do a better job at conveying the message? Looking forward to hearing more!

Blessings.

Day #632

September 24, 2015

No words necessary - just the beauty of God’s creation!

Blessings.

Day #631

September 23, 2015

Confirmation class is back in session! Not sure the 7th-8th graders are as excited as I am, but I am!

And it’s the Bible year. Time to talk about the scriptures. God’s story of love and grace, relationship with God and with one another and its ups and downs, expectations, redemption, etc., etc.

So looking forward to another year of teaching, and learning!

Blessings.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Day #630

September 22, 2015

The word for the day - thankful.
  • the graciousness of a family grieving, yet open and witnessing to the help of the community.
  • the hard work of folks who provide the gift of lunch for a family to be together and visit (the cooks AND the servers!). 
  • helpful professionals who take their job seriously and act compassionately.
And for the honor of being invited to walk with them all! 

Blessings.

Day #629

September 21, 2015

I am sure I have talked about the honor of praying with others as Daily Intersections before, but I was reminded of that today thanks to d365’s Pause:
Often, when life isn’t working out the way we imagined or hoped, our impulse is to pray for God to change things.
We think, “if only” things were different, “if only” people were better, “if only” our needs were met, “if only” the pain went away, “if only” the choices were simple, “if only” temptation disappeared, “if only, if only…”
Sometimes God does transform situations, but more often, God changes us...if only we ask.
It’s true that sometimes folks ask me to pray with them as they hope for an “if only” moment - in hospitals that “if only” healing would come, in meetings that “if only” good decisions would be made, with friends that “if only” things would go a certain way.

But more often than not, what I also witness is a sense of trust in God. That even if the “if only” doesn’t go as we ask, there is still trust that God knows best and is present in the situation.

Thanks be to God for the honor to pray with others, the faith I have the honor to observe, and what I get to learn in the process.

Blessings.

Day #628

September 20, 2015

This Sunday was the first for the choir to sing again after some time off for summer. Yay - what a gift! But what I share is the most precious thing that happened while the choir sang the anthem - the daughter of one of the choir members came and sat in my lap. Being of kindergarten age, it’s hard for her to understand that she can’t have her parent’s full attention for those moments. So I was honored to have her in my lap while she waited.

And what a fitting Sunday, too, for this to happen, as we heard Jesus teaching about the importance of welcoming a child (see the Gospel of Mark, chapter 9, verses 30-37). Yep, a true Intersection moment!

Blessings.

Day #627

September 19, 2015

In an article in The Lutheran online magazine, Sarah Carson writes this about church:
“I think there are a lot of things about church that aren’t working for a lot of people right now, but people will never stop wanting to get together to talk about the important things in their lives.”
Wow!!! This really made me think. We do enjoy getting together as people, don't we? Look at the popularity of FaceBook, for example. It may be a new way of getting together to “talk” about the important things in our lives, but it surely does help keep people connected. And what about the groups that meet each week - or even daily - for a meal or just for coffee. It’s a chance to get together and talk about the important things in our lives.

So how does church, or maybe I should say worship, accomplish this? There is time for fellowship after, giving an opportunity to talk about important things in our lives. But what about during the worship service itself? Are we missing something? Is there more we could do to give space for sharing?

Must say, it’s surely something to think about.

Blessings.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Day #626

September 18, 2015

When I saw this picture on facebook:
I couldn’t help but think about Day #625 and my being thankful for respectful deliberation and polite discussion. Please note this isn’t being posted here for a political purpose, but a reminder that even people on the polar opposite sides of an issue can put aside their differences for the better of all (represented as the center, yet really is the all). And a reminder that even when folks disagree with good reason, a decision can still be made and there can be forward movement.

Thanks be to God (again) for those who are willing to put aside selfish intentions and consider someone(s) else!

Blessings.

Day #625

September 17, 2015

The word for the day - thankful! This time for a faithful group of folks who serve as council for the congregation. A group who faithfully considers the issues at hand, discusses them politely, and shows respect in deliberation. And trusts!

Yes, thankful!! And filled with hope and anticipation of things to come.

Blessings.

Day #624

September 16, 2015

So I overextended myself today, thinking I could make a couple of “emergency” visits in a relatively short amount of time. Shame on me. But when I arrived tardy and a little out of breath for a weekly gathering, I was granted understanding and graciousness. And we had a wonderful discussion in spite of it all.

Again, my heart is heavy with prayer and with hope that God’s healing touch will be upon those in need.

Blessings.

Day #623

September 15, 2015

Another FULL day! Yet, even with everything going on, the thought came: how can you not see God at work in the busy-ness, granting energy, patience, creativity, ideas, joy - and even sorrow?

Yes, perhaps one of the most precious times I see God at work is in the celebration of life at death. In the sorrow and mourning, there is hope. And there is love.

My heart is heavy with prayer, yet also with trust that in the midst of grief, there is joy.

Blessings.

Day #622

September 14, 2015

Whew! A day FULL of meetings, conversations, planning, and rejoicing in the creativity folks have and are willing to share. All in all a great day - but tiring.

Yet, I wouldn’t dare trade what I do!

Blessings.

Day #621

September 13, 2015

It was a full day for the church. First, worship bringing together six churches - a full sanctuary, lots of participation, a wonderful choir, and Jesus’ meal. Next, splitting into groups to go out into the community - celebrating God’s Work, Our Hands by serving in various ways and places. Lastly, gathering again for a potluck feast (way too delicious to just be called a meal). What a wonderful morning to be the church!!

Later that evening, there was another gathering at one of the local tasting breweries for Hymns and Beer. What fun!! All in all a day full of knowing/sensing God’s presence! Awesome!

Blessings.

Day #620

September 12, 2015

Again I am amazed by the polar opposites of posts on facebook that follow one right after the other. Next to one pointing a finger at the actions of the “other” was a post that was amazing as its focus was on forgiveness.

Aman Ali wrote about his experience on 9/11/01. He talked about a kid in his class who made some rotten comments after the bombing. He suggested there should be retaliation and when the kid said, “I bet it was your father flying that plane,” all Ali wanted to do was punch his lights out. Then Ali said he couldn’t believe his reflex toward fighting came so quickly, because he considered himself so anti-violence (he never did hit the boy, but because he wanted to, the boy gave him a “Yep, I knew it” look that totally disarmed him).

After describing the incident, he talked about how the shame has stuck with him over the years, concerned that perhaps his action had reinforced for the other young man a hatred for Muslims because of Ali’s behavior.

Then, on the morning of this 9/11, he noticed a facebook message from the kid he tried to punch. Not having heard from him in 14 years, he wondered what in the world he wanted. He writes, “He told me how difficult it is to think about that day because he can’t forget all the hurtful things he said to me and he profusely apologized.” They ended up talking on the phone and having a great conversation.

What a polar opposite from pointing fingers and blame. A story of reconciliation, understanding, and a reminder that no matter how many years go by, forgiveness is always possible. An awesome, positive story on the anniversary of a horrible day.

Blessings.

Day #619

September 11, 2015

As we stood listening to the opening for a local outdoor event combining music, food, arts, and fellowship, the leader made the comment that we were there to have fun - no violence, no trouble, just fun and fundraising.

How sad that we need to be reminded there shouldn’t be trouble at what is meant to be a fun event. How sad that there are surely those who pay no attention to reminders that we humans should try to get along, care about one another, respect one another, and focus on someone other than ourselves. But then, it is 9/11. :-(

Yet, how hopeful that his words might be heard in the intent they were said. Yes, let’s keep our attention on what we’re meant to do, and have fun.

Maybe that’s exactly what God asks of us - keep our attention on what we’re meant to do (be God’s children), and have some fun doing so.

Blessings.

Day #618

September 10, 2015

At one of the sweetest graveside services ever, there was a pause in the sharing of those surrounding the family. Suddenly one of the women began to sing - a quiet, yet angelic solo of Amazing Grace. It was absolutely beautiful. It was absolutely appropriate. It was absolutely a moment of God’s intersection of love and mercy in daily life.

Thank you for sharing your gift! It meant more than you know.

Blessings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day #617

September 9, 2015


We took some items that belonged to our dear Daisy to a new facility in town, the MacLean Animal Adoption/Welfare Center (here is the link to the website: MacLean), with the hopes that a dog waiting for a home might be able to use them.

After working up the courage to go by, we were disappointed when it wasn’t open. As we turned to walk away, Barb came out the front door to see if she could help us. When we told her why we were there, she graciously accepted our items and even gave us a tour of the facility. It’s remarkable – bright, open, well-planned, and ready to accept animals for care and adoption.

We want to share that the center is also looking for monetary donations. The facility as it stands today is the culmination of a vision a few people had some 13 years ago. There were humble financial beginnings, until a major donation was received from the Margaret MacLean Estate that provided the seed-money to break ground on the building.

However, there is still a loan to be repaid. We mention this opportunity to help because we were very impressed, not only by the facility, but also by the people we met. There is such a caring, welcoming spirit (after all, she opened the building just for us) and it gave us a heart-warming feeling to have our items graciously accepted. Daisy would be pleased. We were, and are thankful for such a place of caring for our creation and our creatures!

Blessings.

Day #616

September 8, 2015

The story of this quilt goes back a long way – almost nine years ago now. It really begins with my mother-in-law, a quilter. She had put together blocks for a project that she never had the opportunity to complete.

After she died in 2006, my sister-in-law donated these blocks to the quilt ministry at the congregation where I was intern at the time. Those devoted women put them together as you see pictured, and presented me with the quilt when I finished there in 2007.

The quilt stayed packed away without an appropriate place to display it, until recently. When my sister-in-law (same one) visited a couple of weeks ago, I had a project for her – help me find a way to make this a wall-hanging for the office I now occupy. Which she graciously did, and my dear husband helped hang it.

I am so pleased to have this reminder of some of the folks who helped me along the journey to this place. These blocks are familiar, reminding me of my mother-in-law as they contain material she used on the back of the quilt she made my husband and on the back of a quillow she made for me. Also, they remind me of a great group of women in another congregation miles away who shared with me their love, friendship, and encouragement for the journey.

I suppose you could sum this up in one word…comforting!

Blessings.

Day #615

September 7, 2015

Yep, another birthday. And thanks to friends and family who called, sent cards, texted, gave gifts and sent greetings through FaceBook, along with a whole congregation who sang to me, I was overwhelmed by well-wishes!!! Thank you everyone!!

I also received this article from a friend, and, as she mentioned, it seems appropriate for contemplating on a birthday:
At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. 
Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don't realize they vacated their seats. This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves. 
The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.
This is how I replied to my friend:
This Train of Life has some wonderful scenery, some joy-filled ups and some crashing downs, doesn't it?! A perfect read as I near another station (birthday), wondering what the next year will bring. This last one certainly saw some changes.
Yep! Certainly! And the next year is off to a good start, with a little help from friends and family!

Blessings.

Day #614

September 6, 2015

I borrowed an idea from Dollar Store Children's Sermons for this Sunday, adapting it somewhat. The idea was to use glue, but still in its package, pointing out it doesn’t work as it should unless you take it out. My adaptation was to use fruit snacks instead of glue. The focus was on the reading from James, chapter 2, verses 1-17, especially verse 17: “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” In other words, God gives us faith, but also desires us to do something with it.

I said to the children, I have these snacks and I’m hungry for them. Are you? Of course, they nodded yes. Well, here they are, but they aren’t very good like this, still in the cardboard box. So what do I need to do to share them? One young lady raised her hand and when I acknowledged her said, with a “duh” inflection, “Open the box!”

Exactly!!! Open the box so they “work.” Or open our hearts and our hands to spread/share/tell/live/serve using and "working" the faith God gives us. I love it!!

Thanks Pastor John Stevens of Zion Lutheran Church, Oregon City, OR, for the inspiration!

Blessings.

Day #613

September 5, 2015

After days and days of hazy, smoke-filled sky, the rain has been such a welcome relief. And, hopefully, sent some relief to the firefighters and those endangered by encroaching blazes.

Either way, the word for today – beauty.
Blessings.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Day #612

September 4, 2015

After weeks of declining health, we said goodbye on this day to our four-legged companion, Daisy. Truly a fine example of God’s creation, she loved many things:

running when she was young (especially in snow);
rolling (especially in snow - do you sense a theme here? See Day #603);

being with her master(s);

and riding in the truck - this is her last one when we took her to the river, another thing she loved.
She is already missed terribly. The house is awfully quiet and lonesome. But we say thank you, Daisy,  good girl, for many years of joy and devotion.

Blessings.

Day #611

September 3, 2015

Theologian David Lose wrote in his blog, In the Meantime, about the controversy that seems to surround the movement called “Black Lives Matter.” He writes that the angst seems to be: Don’t all lives matter? Of course, he says, all lives matter. But right now, the actions of many in our country seem to indicate that black lives don’t matter as much as others. Then he writes:
“A colleague of mine put it this way: “When you see a house on fire and direct the firefighters to that house, you’re not saying that all the houses in the neighborhood don’t matter, you’re saying this one especially matters because it’s on fire.” My colleague is an African American pastor, I should add, who lives in a predominantly white neighborhood and has on various occasions been pulled over, though not for speeding. When he asks why, the police officers say they’re just doing their job. “Right now,” he added, “our house is on fire.””
His writing got me to thinking. I suppose supposed favoritism can translate to many things: Do the lives of people in one country matter more than others? Does the contribution of young people’s (or old people's) ideas and needs matter more than others? Do those who contribute more, time or financially, matter more to the church than others (this one I thought of especially since the reading of James 2: 1-17 will be heard Sunday about acts of favoritism)?

Certainly the answer is no, but there are times when one person, or group of people, has more immediate needs than another. That’s where prayer and the body of Christ, the church, has opportunity to spread love and help with all sorts of needs through giving and serving.

Yes, there is always much to do, and much to help equalize. Yet there is never more than what God can help us provide. 

Blessings.