Saturday, May 30, 2015

Day #510

May 25, 2015

May 25th is a very special day. It is my baptism birthday.

The picture tells the story! We went to the pond.
What a day (MANY years ago)! A wonderful moment of adoption into God’s family, the beginning of a journey that I never dreamed would take me to all the places and include all the people I’ve been led to meet, do ministry with, and love.

I am so very thankful for this day and this moment pictured. Yes, thanks be to God!!!!


Day #509

May 24, 2015

The spring “study” sessions have been about the church - what is the church, who are we as Lutheran, what is the place of the church in the world? What fun talking about something I love deeply! What joy and blessing (God IS close through the Holy Spirit) to talk about faith, grace, community and being Lutheran!

Here is a link for information about the guide we are using, developed by the ELCA: Claimed, Gathered, Sent

Thanks to all who come and join in the discussion. One more to go.


Day #508

May 23, 2015

There is great joy in planning worship, especially something that is different or only celebrated on occasion, such as a Memorial Service in the Memorial Garden. What is important to remember and include? What can we do to mark the time as special? How can the creative side be celebrated?

Someone has said that there are no really new ideas in the area of worship, just creative ways in putting things together. Is that true? Or should worship really be about transformation - in both the way we celebrate and what happens within us? And how does ritual both celebrate and transform?

Just some questions pondered while in the midst of planning.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Day #507

May 22, 2015

We spent another day exploring some of the countryside where we now live. What a blessing! What a beautiful place!

And what a place of extremes. Extreme beauty and what could be extreme cold. Here’s a sign by the road to remind us of what we may endure at some point:

But for today, it was beautiful and sunny and warm (see that blue sky behind the sign?!). And we surely enjoyed our day!


Day #506

May 21, 2015

It’s the week before Pentecost Sunday - the celebration of the “birth”day of the church. Scenes that speak of unity, chaos, fire, wind, coming alongside and prompting are filling my head and my heart.

In Bible study, we spoke about a challenge for our denomination is that we don’t worship “in the spirit” with loud noise and impromptu speaking. Certainly that is the case. Worship is typically more structured, even sometimes somber. Yet the Spirit is definitely there. It is evident to me when a hymn or anthem speaks the words more clearly than the sermon ever can; when the words “Given and shed for you” bring comfort and assurance of forgiveness; when the sharing of the peace brings people together to speak and hug and shake hands; when the children come forward and pray; when folks are present, because the Spirit is there in, through, and around them.

Someone later mentioned the Spirit being in me. I am thankful, for I believe the Spirit does live within me, but it also lives within us all. It is not because there is anything I do, or any of us do for that matter, to make it happen, that is God at work. So what I would hope most, if and when that Spirit indwelling is evident, is that it is God’s grace, forgiveness, and love of me and the world that clearly shines through.

Yes, the Spirit has brought me through some amazing transformations, and I feel certain there will be more. It is a gift and I look forward to Sunday and celebrating its coming, just as I celebrate and give thanks daily for its presence.


Day #505

May 20, 2015

Saw this in April’s issue of Guidepost magazine. It speaks for itself:
“God refuses to give up, and we who are enlisted to be fellow-workers with God know that the only reason we continue is that death did not have the last word; that Good Friday was not the end of the story.” By Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from his book In God’s Hands.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day #504

May 19, 2015

It may have been a phone call anyone would have answered similarly, but I am thankful for someone sharing a recent event that I believe was the action of the Holy Spirit working in and through someone to be God’s hands and feet in a literal, life-affirming way. That may sound very cryptic, and the details will be left that way, but suffice it to say I was witnessed to, and someone else was ministered to, in a way only the Holy Spirit could have directed.

With the upcoming celebration of the Day of Pentecost this Sunday, and through doing some early reading, I was reminded that sometimes the Holy Spirit acts to kick our can into action. How many times do I squelch the work of the Spirit out of fear, distraction, distrust, or plain "slothiness"?! Thank you for the reminder, and the conviction!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Day #503

May 18, 2015

May 17th was another of those joy-filled, privilege days of worship. We celebrated another baptism – another claiming moment by God in the waters of baptism, an adoption into God’s family, and a celebration of the continuing of God’s story.

It seemed so appropriate to celebrate a baptism yesterday. With it being Ascension Sunday, when we rejoice in Jesus being “taken up” in all his glory, all his majesty, and all the fullness of who he is, how perfect that we would celebrate a baptism into his life, death and resurrection, making all his promises possible and fulfilled.

Praise and thanks for the newest member of God’s family!


Day #502

May 17, 2015

I am a tad behind in reading the Guidepost magazine, so I found this in an article in the March issue. Carrie Ann Inaba (who judges on Dancing with the Stars, I understand), writes about her daily prayer: “God, thank you for all that is, was and will be.” She goes on to write: “how do you imagine an unimaginable future? My prayer tells me that no matter what, my Heavenly Father is waiting to guide me, to love me, as much there as he is in the here and now. He fills those places in us that loss hollows out, shining a light on the path ahead.”

After reading that in the morning, opportunity came to share her words with two different people that day. I hope they were a comfort to them, for they certainly were to me. To trust that God already has worked out the future, no matter what it holds, and is in the here and now, too, is grace beyond my deepest desire or need.

Therefore, I do thank God for all that is. There are many joy-filled pieces to my life – God’s claiming of me and calling me to be a pastor; my wonderful spouse; good friends – the best friends!; family; health; material goods; the list could go on and on. I thank God also, for what was – or perhaps what has been. This would certainly include the struggles that have honed my trust – health scares; times of very deep mourning; times without material goods or of knowing where enough would come from; anger; doubt; fear; times when I look back reflect vividly God’s care. And I thank God for what will be. No, I have no clue what that is. But I thank God that God knows what the ultimate future holds – and promises for it to be amazing.

Thank you Carrie Ann Inaba for your prayer and your words. Good reminders that I hope are comforting for folks who are struggling right now. Remember, God has you! Also remember, I’m praying for you!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day #501

May 16, 2015

As a pastor, I am often asked to do many and varied things. It is a joy and privilege to walk with folks in so many areas of life!

In that regard, yesterday I was asked to be MC at a Prayer Vigil. A little history, as I understand the back-story. Decades ago a young man, a teenager at the time, was convicted of a murder he denies to this day committing. For years, many faithful folk have gathered regularly to try to have his conviction overturned and plea for the state to free this man. At one point, he was freed from prison as he awaited a new trial. However, freedom was not to last and he was sent back to prison. This particular Prayer Vigil yesterday marked two years since his acquittal was overturned and he was sent back to prison following eighteen months of freedom.

Without doubt, there have been incidents of wrongful guilt, just as there have been incidents of the guilty remaining free. Is this one of those instances? Many would argue that it is. Equal justice would be the goal - punishment for those who commit crimes, freedom for those wrongly accused. Yet, as in any system, there are those who corrupt the intent and fairness is not allowed. Is this a prime example of corruption? If so, is the real killer not the one in jail, but someone wondering around “free?” And what kind of justice is that for the victim’s family?

Whatever the answer, I applaud the commitment of those who support this man, and was honored to be asked to be a part of the event. Here’s a link to learn a little more about the case and the vigil, as reported by the local news channel: Supporters of Barry Beach


Day #500

May 15, 2015
500!!! My goodness, I cannot believe this is the 500th entry!!! I never dreamed when I began doing this in January, 2014, that I would actually stick with it and write about something every day that connected God’s grace and love with life.

In the first entry, I talked about time and how there doesn’t seem to be enough of it for me to be able to read and write notes, but plenty in which to watch television. Over the almost year and a half, I have noticed the television watching time has lessened (I have not seen shows that were once “favorites” I couldn’t miss, and the world has not ended!) and I have read more books (even joined a Book Club!). This daily musing of life, faith, and their intersection has helped open my eyes to see God’s work and presence in moments of doubt, trust, rejoicing, sorrow, mistakes, second chances, missed opportunities, and dozens others.

In beginning this blog, I had two goals. One was for our Godson. The second goal was for it to be a reminder that God is ALWAYS present with us, ALWAYS loving us, and ALWAYS forgiving and giving to us. The Daily Intersection has surely reminded me of that many times.

So here’s to #500!! Thank you, Daily Intersection, for helping me reflect on how God has been leading me and has been with me. And here’s to helping me trust God will be there in the next 500+ with something new around every corner. What a joy to be a part of God’s kingdom!


**When I Googled to find an image of 500, there were many about cars. Guess the Daytona 500 was on Google's mind. But I loved this one of a euro puzzle. What an image - 500 entries for putting the puzzle of life, God and us, together!

Day #499

May 14, 2015

On Day #490, I mentioned a book I have been reading for the Stewardship Committee, Ask, Thank, Tell. In the section about "thank," I was reminded how important it is to say thank you. Not only to those who give of their time, talent, and/or treasure at/in the church, but in daily life. Thank you is such an easy thing to say, and mean, but it often gets left out of the equation.

The author also wrote about the importance of not just saying thanks, but writing it, too. As I have admitted before, I am terribly slack at writing thank you notes, but think I’m at least fairly good at saying thanks - and meaning it!

So when the author suggested identifying someone who has the gift (not the exact words) to “say thanks” and then turn them loose to do their thing, it made me think. I suppose I never thought about it being a “gift “ to say thanks. I just thought it was good manners, important and appreciated by the recipient.

Yet maybe the “gift” is not just saying it or thinking it, but being diligent in sending the notes, too. Something to think about.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day #498

May 13, 2015

The 13th marks two months in the new house. Most everything is put away (admittedly, there are still a few boxes, but MOST everything is done). But more often now I find myself looking for things in places that would have matched where they used to be. Like opening the right side of the cabinet under the sink in the kitchen for the trash can (it’s now on the left). Or looking under the bathroom sink for the deodorant (it’s now in the bottom drawer).

So when an item that my dear husband still uses that was his father’s went missing, we know exactly where it used to be. But, of course, it wasn’t there. And neither of us could remember him using it the last two months, so where it might have been put eluded us. Did it get left behind in the move across country, or in the move from temporary housing? Neither of those options made us happy.

Well, after a rather extensive search that included the unpacking of another box (that was good!), thankfully it was found. We are both very glad, because we would really hate to lose something with such sentimental value.

Guess I could say I felt a little like the woman with the lost coin who sweeps the house looking for it, for we rejoiced when the missing was found (see Luke 15:8-10 – and see what the missing being found means to God!).


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day #497

May 12, 2015

The word for the day – thankful! It is not the first time I have used that word, but today’s reason to be thankful is because of action. Here is why - there was a discussion held in a committee about a month or two ago regarding implementing a particular something (the details are not important). However, things never got past the discussion stage. Until…the not doing something almost resulted in a very difficult (shall I use the word tragic) outcome of a happening. The possibilities of what could have occurred resulted in the discussion being ramped up again. The difference this time? Literally within hours, there was action! Positive action.  

So thankful is what I am – for a non-tragic outcome, and for some forward-moving, positive action. Yay!!!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day #496

May 11, 2015

Recently I was asked what “thing” I miss most since our move across country. I must admit it’s some of the foods we cannot find here. Little things like my favorite mayonnaise, the bbq sauce for pork and chicken I’ve eaten since I was a kid, Cheerwine sherbet (see Day #111), and hot dogs. Specifically Yum Yum Hot Dogs. (Please don’t misunderstand, I miss people the most, but I was asked about “things” I miss.)

So, when we opened the front door and found a surprise package, I was intrigued. I had almost forgotten the conversation, until the box was opened and we found two bottles of bbq sauce..

and a huge jar of mayonnaise.

Yippee!!!! Just in time for tomato sandwiches and grilling pork chops!

Thanks to friends and loved ones who take the time to call, pray, send notes or emails, and “stuff!” Now if we could just get Yum Yum to deliver ice cream and hot dogs!


PS The Carolina Treet supplements well the Boar and Castle Sauce we received last fall. Just saying!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Day #495

May 10, 2015
The sentiment is loving and caring, but sometimes it simply hurts. For those I know who have suffered the pain of miscarriage or infertility, or broken relationships with their children or with their mothers, this day can be so painful it is to be avoided at all costs.

As I scanned the Facebook pages yesterday, there were wonderful tributes to mothers. Pictures of smiling faces, perhaps happier times or blessed memories, filled the day.

For me, I cannot say it was a painful day, but a somewhat melancholy one. My own dear mother and greatest cheerleader has been dead for almost eight years (huh?!?!) and my beloved grandma thirty-one (my word!). And I still miss them both, every day!

But as I am reminded each Mother’s Day, ALL women play a mothering role to someone. Aunts, Cousins, Step-Mothers, God-mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Girlfriends, are all women to be celebrated, cared for by, and looked up to. And it doesn’t take a special day to remember and honor them - PLEASE do so today, too!

And just so you men don’t feel left out, your day is coming soon. J


Day #494

May 9, 2015

Recently in a conversation with someone who does not attend church, the phrase, “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” was uttered. “I mean, I pray every day and all," they said, " but…” was their “excuse” for not attending a church.

One of these days I’m going to have an appropriate response to that statement – maybe! When I do, I suppose I’ll write the book that makes lots of money (imagine me with a grin on my face – it’s certainly meant to be a tongue-in-cheek comment).

Seriously, what I did say was something about how the community of church is what is important to me. That came to mind because a part of the conversation before their comment was about how much another community had meant to this person, so it seemed appropriate.

Then this prayer came by email in “God Pause,” the Luther Seminary daily devotional, and I thought, that’s it! That’s a good response to why “spiritual, but not religious” as an excuse not to participate in church doesn’t work for me. Here is the prayer:
Dear Lord, as we step into our church, give our souls rest. And as we step out again, guide our heart’s purpose. Amen. 
My prayer is that all of your times in worship - gathered in community, fed by the word and meal, then sent back out as the church in the world – be a time of soul-resting and purpose sending.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day #493

May 8, 2015

May 8th is our Godson's Baptism Birthday. It's a special day, one we remember joyfully, when he was baptized, claimed by God through the water and Word, as God's chosen child.

There are many things we pray about for our Godson, but mostly we pray that he grow up to know deep in his heart and soul the love and grace of God. And that he be strengthened through that assurance to be the person God desires for him to be.

You already are the person God desires you to be, dear Godson! Please know we love you, too!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Day #492

May 7, 2015

As I slowed down to turn into the neighborhood on my way home, I saw a man out in a field near the house. He was a good distance away from me, but there was something familiar about him. As I looked twice, I realized it was my husband. He was certainly too far away to make out any particular features, but I knew by the way he was standing, it was him.

Familiarity. After nearly 3 decades of spending time with him, it’s really cool that I know him so well. Whether we’re up close and the way he glances at me tells me what he’s thinking, or he’s far away and his walk or stance points him out, he’s familiar. There is comfort in that. And joy!

Imagine, too, that’s the way it is with our heavenly Father, God. God knows us so well, even to the number of hairs on our head. And a part of that knowing is love. A HUGE part. God knows us and loves us and desires deeply to be in relationship with us. So much so, that God is willing to do amazing things to call and gather us. That’s some really GOOD NEWS!


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Day #491

May 6, 2015

It’s awesome how God “works” to spark conversations.

A couple of weeks ago the Sunday School youth made “May Day Baskets” for the neighbors. During the Sunday School time, they delivered them. One of the neighbors came home that day, found the “basket” and was moved to make a small gift for the young men listed on the card. He brought them over today and we had an opportunity for conversation. A very good conversation.
It’s just a reminder that we never know the impact our actions make on others. I just pray for more positive, God-affirming ones than anything else.


Day #490

May 5, 2015

In reading a book the Stewardship Committee Chair encouraged us to read, I came across this in Ask, Thank, Tell, by Charles R. Lane (page 21): 
Several years ago I was preaching to a group of pastors at a retreat. In the sermon, I repeatedly referred to the countless gifts we have received from our loving God. I remember being very careful to use the word gifts to make sure there was no confusion about the fact that we live by the gracious hand of God, not from our own accomplishments.
Later in the retreat I was in conversation with Pastor Harry Wendt, president of Crossways International. Harry was one of the speakers at the retreat. In his gentle, direct way, Harry suggested that I should be careful about using the word gift. He said that God doesn’t give gifts, at least not in the way we use the word gift.
He went on to point out that when we use the word gift we imply that one person has given something to someone else, who then owns that item and is free to do with it as they please. He concluded his observation by saying that this is not the way it is with God and us. God continues to own everything.
Of course, Harry was correct.
This sure made me reconsider about using the term ‘God’s gifts.’ I agree we are entrusted for only a short time with what God has created and we are called to be good stewards of those things. We don’t OWN them, even if we pay for them, for they are not ever permanently ours, whether it be time, talents, or treasures.

Something to think about!


Day #489

May 4, 2015

As I was having a conversation about what I see as part of being a pastor, an example came to me. One of the television programs my husband and I regularly watch is Deadliest Catch. Watching the captains at work, it seems their job often consists of trying to keep one eye on the deck and the other on the Bering Sea, watching for that notorious bad weather to cause those rogue waves. When they spot danger on the way, they either turn into the wave, try to outrun it, or at least scream to take cover.

A pastor does somewhat the same, in my mind. There always seems to be something on the horizon that can send a wave of fear, doubt, tender feelings, etc. cascading over the ship. Sometimes, if we can see it coming in enough time, we can turn into it and head it off. Other times we might can run from it, also avoiding a crash. And sometimes we just scream to take cover and roll with it, praying for the best.

That’s when the conversation partner told me about a cartoon they saw of a guy in the front of a boat fishing. As he had one eye on the line where he was experiencing a nibble and the other on the water, he totally missed the fact that his buddy in the back, along with half the boat, had been eaten by a huge fish, leaving only his hat floating in the wake. 
Hmmm...makes me wonder if my original analogy needs some work! :-)

Day #488

May 3, 2015

What a privilege to celebrate the Affirmation of Baptism in worship for five young folks. Such a joyous occasion! It was an honor to look each one in the eye, lay my hands on them and bless them in this way:
Father in heaven, for Jesus’ sake, stir up in Taylor, Jessica, Jonah, Corbin and William the gift of your Holy Spirit; confirm her/his faith, guide her/his life, empower her/him in her/his serving, give her/him patience in suffering, and bring her/him to everlasting life.
It’s a moment in time for them that I pray will increase in meaning as the days and weeks and years go by. My hope for them is that they grow in trusting they are in a relationship bound by God’s promise, connected as a vine is to its branches, and fed by God through the word, the worship, the praying and the serving. And that the assurance of God’s gift and promise be a guiding force of hope and response-living for them.

Prayers and thanks for these five young people. May God bless and keep them, and all of us.


Day #487

May 2, 2015

A one word entry: BEAUTIFUL!!
We took a late-day ride and after six months I still find myself amazed at all the beautiful scenery – the rock formations, the rivers, the wildlife, the fields beginning to turn green, the mountains in the distance. It's simply beautiful!

And the weather – oh, it has been awesome. Can we say SPRING FEVER????!!!!


PS Should have taken some pictures, but was too busy just looking and enjoying. Next time!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Day #486

May 1, 2015

Twice this week I was asked to reflect on what I like best about being a pastor. What is it that gives me the most joy?

I was glad I was asked early in the week, at the Transition Workshop. The question was asked as an exercise for getting to know one another, so it was a hypothetical question. But then when I was asked for “real” later, I was ready. Here is essentially what I said:
A while ago I was reminded by a young man that every week I gave him Jesus. He was referring to Holy Communion. And that is what I like best about being a pastor - I get to give Jesus. Every week.
But, here is what I want to add to what I said. It’s more than just giving a little bread and wine...Jesus’ body and blood. It’s connection. It’s relationship. It’s assurance of God’s forgiveness, love and care. It’s life-giving and life-sustaining, what I get to distribute. It’s grace. And I also get to, every day, live into that grace and help others do the same.

Being a pastor is both an honor and privilege, and huge responsibility. I am certainly glad I don’t do it alone!!!


Day #485

April 30, 2015

The d365 devotion did it again. The “think” for April 30th was about procrastination. That nasty word that describes putting something off until tomorrow that shouldn’t wait from today. It implies missed opportunities, laziness, fear, dread - at least those emotions fill me when I let things go I shouldn’t.

Here’s the line that struck me: “Sometimes busy schedules, scattered thoughts, myriad distractions, lack of courage, or just plain apathy prevent us from being mindful of the things around us and from doing the one thing we intend to do, and then the chance passes us by.”

It also spoke to me strongly about something we discussed at the Transition Workshop. How we can get so “busy” we neglect to stop and do the most important things that God is leading us to do, like making the visit, saying the kind word, listening to someone hurting, sending a note of thanks or encouragement.

The bottom-line reminder, however, was that the most important thing to avoid procrastinating over is staying connected to the Source (God). God is our strength-builder and our guide, so it is vitally important to be in regular prayer, but that tends to get put on the back burner when we are busy. Which is the last thing we need to let happen. God needs to hear from us, and we need to/must communicate with God. Regularly!!!

How are you managing your tendency to procrastinate? I know I have some time management work to do!


Day #484

April 29, 2015

It was perhaps the coolest exercise of the whole retreat. On the last day, we were invited to write to the “angel” of our congregation. The model suggested came from the book of Revelation, chapter 1 - the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, write to them.

It was a great way to think of the church, as being guided or watched over by an angel, who I could write to about things that are on my mind. It was also a good reminder that God is with the church, is the head of the church, and is the guide of the church. Takes a little pressure off me! :-)

As the words flew from my pen, I was also reminded how this blog has helped me with getting my thoughts to “paper.” I’m thankful for this! And want to say thank you again for taking the time to read it!


Day #483

April 28, 2015

I may have said this before, but it has been reinforced at the workshop. The saying is true: "People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care."

When it comes down to it, people basically just want/need to be loved. They want to know their pastor cares about them, prays for them, and is available to/for them. And I believe one basic way of letting people know you care is by listening to them. I know that means a lot to me.

Really listening, however, is hard work. But, oh so rewarding. While I think I’m a good listener, there is always room for improvement. So...if there is nothing else I take away from this time of retreat, a reminder to refocus and be intentional in listening/caring for those in the congregation I serve was worth the trip and the time!

Because I do care! And I also want to say how thankful I am I have had caring pastoral models to learn from. What a gift they have been!


Day #482

April 27, 2015

Time for continuing education. The focus -- transition. A workshop geared specifically for those within two years of beginning a new call, which applies to me, and some tools/ideas for starting well.

You may wonder, as I suppose I did when I signed up, what about transition makes it necessary to focus an entire retreat around the process. Perhaps the short answer is that beginnings really do matter. First impressions make a difference. How someone starts out in a new place can set the tone for their whole time there.

I would like to think I began well almost six months ago. That those first days and weeks were intentionally positive. Yet, I know I made some mistakes (am still making some!). There was a lot going on when I began, not only at the church but in our personal lives. We were in a new state, new to us weather conditions, in a new place to live (which was actually someone else’s home using their things), meeting a new congregation, finding new colleagues, learning new rules, getting acquainted with a new worship space, discovering new expectations. As I write that I realize...that is a lot of NEW! Virtually everything was new and unfamiliar. And did I mention it was the beginning of Advent - just weeks from Christmas?! Can we say it was busy, busy?!

With all that said, perhaps I needed a transition workshop. To discover some things I could have done better, but hopefully some things it’s also not too late to start trying.


PS One thing is for certain - the setting could not have been more beautiful!