Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day #575

July 29, 2015

I am truly thankful for all of God’s gifts – for they are so many, too many to even begin naming. I am also thankful for the ways that folks share gifts so generously. There are so many people who give time, talent and treasure to the work of the congregation where I serve. We are able to do much out of this generosity.

So today I share the latest convenience gift to the congregation – an ice machine.
What fun, right?! I am certainly excited to begin using it soon, and know it will really be an asset at the next fellowship gathering, too.

So thank you to all who give so freely. And here’s to a nice, tall glass of ICE water!


Day #574

July 28, 2015

Twice in the last week, Bono has crossed into my awareness. The first was during a conversation regarding author Eugene Peterson (who resides in MT) and his impact in Bono’s life and faith. The second was this Why Jesus? interview with Bono that someone shared on FaceBook. It is well-worth the read, I think.


Day #573

July 27, 2015

There is a word that incites fear into the heart of just about anyone that hears it, yet a word that affects nearly everyone at some point – either us personally or someone we love - or both. That word is cancer. It’s the disease that just won’t seem to let up!

Where a diagnosis no longer can mean certain death, the pain, expense, life-changes and unknowns surely bring uncertainty and dread. It has come into my life once again by way of a dear friend, and my heart is heavy.

Yet, I also know that God is faithful, just, merciful, and everlasting. I know that God is our hope and our stronghold. I know that no matter what, no matter how, God will not abandon us. So as I/we pray for healing, comfort, peace and strength for our friend and her family, I/we know and trust that with God all things are possible!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day #572

July 26, 2015

Accordion worship?!?! Really?!?! That was my reaction when I first heard about the tradition of having an Accordion Group lead worship. Yet, tradition is tradition.

So this year it was scheduled for the same Sunday as another tradition of something called “Hands Across the Alley,” which is a joint time of fellowship with the Presbyterian Church we share the block with. So we gave them an invitation for a joint worship service, too.

And it was a glorious morning. Fun, peppy, respectful, yet worshipful, too. The accordion players led awesome music (one of whom has connections to Lawrence Welk - his father actually taught Mr. Welk how to play the accordion), the message was the Presbyterian pastor and I having a “dialogue” about differences and similarities in our traditions, and the church was comfortably full - especially for a Sunday in the summer.
And the pie fellowship that followed, well….it was fabulous. What joy to be together worshipping the Lord as one, even if only for one Sunday.


PS Thank you to the pie organizing "boss" for the food and the photo!

Day #571

July 25, 2015
The Downtown Samaritans (see Day #520) participated in the Downtown Merchants Sidewalk Sale. Two of us took a two-hour shift handing out bottles of water and brochures about the services the downtown churches offer. It was a blessed time of meeting all sorts of people - those who appreciatively accepted a free bottle of water, those who were hesitant but willing, those who wanted NOTHING to do with it, and all those in-between. There were even those who gave hugs, those who were interested in finding ways to volunteer, and those who will hopefully one-day accept some of the services offered. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon!!


Day #570

July 24, 2015

At the final worship service for camp, I deeply realized how much I have enjoyed being with these young adults who are spending their summer helping kids and teaching them about God’s love and grace. With their arms interlocked, the counselors sang a blessing near the close of the worship and it was simply beautiful. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I silently gave thanks for this opportunity, and for their love for God and God’s people. I will miss them - and all the young people here - and am glad to have been a part of their lives, even if only for a week!


Day #569

July 23, 2015

A really cool moment happened that gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies. As we were headed from one place to another just at dark, a group from one of the young men’s cabins was headed in the opposite direction for a “sleep out.” As they passed by, one of the young men said to me, “Can I have a hug.” Of course, I said, and as we hugged he said into my ear, “You remind me of home.”

Now doesn’t that just make you smile - a teen who still needs a hug from a “mom/grandmom” figure?


Day #568

July 22, 2015

An added bonus of being at camp with minimal electronics means more time for reading. The book I am reading is called Christianity for the Rest of Us by Diana Butler Bass. It is about the author’s research of many active and growing congregations and what seems to be the key to their vitality.

One of the chapters is about the value of diversity. I share these beautiful words with an invitation to ponder them deeply, especially as racism and its devastating affects headline the news and negatively impact lives:
Christians pursue diversity because it models creation, embodies love, and through the related practice of reconciliation, aligns our lives with God’s dream of harmony. … God wants us all to be family.
I have to wonder, why can’t we all see the beauty in our diversity? Why can’t we see that we have much to learn from one another, especially in our differences? Why do we let fear affect our relationships? If someone else rises, will it really mean I am diminished? Isn’t there room for everyone to grow toward equality?

All of us need each other and are more fully rounded through relationship, especially with those different from us. After all, we really are one, and part of the same family - God’s family.


Day #567

July 21, 2015

This is a wonderful story shared with us about some young people who are attending camp this week, and have attended other weeks this summer, who might never had opportunity without help. They are what would be called “at risk” children. They have endured experiences in their young lives that many of us cannot imagine, nor understand. They come from a group home in an inner city whose leaders bring them for the summer to MT, where they attend many different camps while here.

Four of these young people are attending camp this particular week. They are delightful, intelligent, polite, but above all, are having the time of their life. Their story was shared by the camp’s director who played a voice message from the home’s leader about the positive affect camp is making in these young people’s lives. It included thanks for the opportunity for them to be here without charge - funded in part by campership donations from local congregations.

The congregation I serve participated in those donations - and for that I am grateful. The generosity of others has given an experience to kids they might never have had - a week in the great outdoors, surrounded by people who treat them with love and respect, and who share God’s grace generously.

Thanks be to God for them, for all campers, and for this place!


Day #566

July 20, 2015

As I sat by the lake listening to the counselors give instructions for water safety, another distant sound rumbled - one of thunder. Obviously thunder and water activities do not mix, since thunder indicates lightening and lightening means danger. I overheard the counselor doing the training say, “My nemesis is thunder.” Then she gave the instruction, “We cannot be in the water until after 30 minutes past the last thunder we hear.”

That is very good advice and VERY wise protocol. Soon sounds intensified: a loud crack of thunder, kids screaming (no one hurt, just startled), and the sound of running as they scattered for shelter. Boo hiss on the cancellation of water activities!

But YAY for the rain!!! This area has been in dire need of rain for a while. Campfire restrictions have been in place due to an extraordinarily dry spring that has placed a burden on the systems.

So, with the anticipation of rain came rejoicing - for some. Just before it started, I heard one more sound - a familiar chant from my childhood - “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” Guess you can’t please everyone. But the smell is tantalizing, the brief downpour refreshing, and the ground thankful.


Day #565

July 19, 2015

A new adventure begins - Guest Pastor in Residence at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. Not my first “camp” experience, but my first time here.

After a LONG drive with an extra 30-minute detour due to a wrong turn, we (me with two campers) arrived. I was a little frazzled, rushed, frustrated, and tired - until I saw this view:
Can there be anything more lovely and peaceful? Looking forward to a good week of learning, serving, and sharing God’s word!!


PS An awesome bunch of counselors are here! What a joy to see people who love the Lord and others share their faith and love of God. Truly examples of “A Love that Never Ends” (the theme for 2015).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Day #564

July 18, 2015

There are pictures on the walls at our new home. ALL the pictures we plan to hang have been hung. And I must say, the walls look full and cozy.

So we seem to have made another step toward settling in. What’s next? Hmmm…maybe some painting? A master shower redo? Gas logs? House guests? I really like the idea of the last one!!!


Day #563

July 17, 2015

Note the day for this post! July 17 - middle of the summer, right!? Should be HOT? Well, not so much. Note the time and the temperature as recorded on the truck (and that is pm, not am!).
 Just another gorgeous day in a wonderful place!!!!!!!!!!


Day #562

July 16, 2015

A time of celebration (and I don’t have any pictures!). A “0” ending birthday is coming up for one of the women who is instrumental in the quilt-making for Lutheran World Relief at the congregation I serve. They call their twice-monthly gathering “Love Day” and that is truly what they spread - love, creativity, warmth, and service.

I wrote about the quilts from 2014 when I first arrived at the new call - they had been blessed the day before and were quickly made ready for shipping. (See Day #321.)

But there is more to celebrate than simply a dedicated woman’s birthday, even though it was a fun time AND a surprise. The really good news is that this congregation has been continually making quilts for decades - since 1975, I believe it is - and to date have completed close to 3,000 (they plan to reach that goal by year’s end, if not before). Can you imagine, 3,000 quilts lovingly made and joyfully given away?! That’s certainly a worthy cause to celebrate!

Sew on, ladies, sew on!


Day #561

July 15, 2015

Tim Moore wrote the following for d365 on July 15th:
Dying on the cross, shedding his blood, Jesus shows us that we are all bound to a common humanity: all broken, all vulnerable, all in need of one another. In Christ’s blood, we are brought near to one another.
I found these to be encouraging words, especially after the experience I wrote about for July 12. Reassuring words, too. And a reminder that in our humanity, we may see one another differently, but in Christ we are not only made new, but made one. And that we need one another, can learn from one another, and grow by building one another up.

Oh, that we could see each another as Christ sees us - as one!! Oh, but there will be the day - come, Lord Jesus!


Day #560

July 14, 2015

It is Youth Gathering time in Detroit, Michigan! Some 30,000+ people are headed to that city to learn, pray, worship, serve, meet, play, work, etc - together. What an experience! What a joy! What an undertaking!

My prayers go with each youth, adult, pastor, and parent.


PS Obviously I am quite behind in posting (was without good internet connection this past week) and the Gathering is over and folks are back to their "normal" routines. Prayers the experience (which I know was amazing) is still fresh in the minds and hearts of those who experienced the event, and those who watched from far away. And that all our faith and hope has been strengthened and renewed!

Day #559

July 13, 2015

One of the privileges of being a pastor is making visits, especially to those who are sick and hospitalized. I certainly do not believe I bring Jesus to those rooms (He’s already there), but I do have opportunity to offer something special - prayer. There is often a peace that settles on someone when they are prayed for and assured they are being remembered often in prayer. I know how much it means to me (I covet your prayers), and I can see how much it also means to others.

Know that you are prayed for, too. I give thanks to God for each person who reads this blog, for our Godson in whose honor it was started and continues, and for those who inspire me to write about God’s presence in “The Daily Intersection.” And, of course, prayers for those in need of healing, health and wholeness.


Day #558

July 12, 2015

Sometimes there are very sad moments in ministry. It can be hard to hear that the needs of a person and the offerings of a congregation do not match up. Learning someone feels tugged to look around at other places of worship makes me sad. But when it is because they feel a Christian Community isn’t being what it should be, that hurts my heart and my soul.

Yet, I am grateful to hear from someone, instead of them just disappearing, even when what they say is heartbreaking. Do not get me wrong, it’s difficult to receive someone’s frustration and hurt, but it’s necessary and can be helpful.

With that said, however, perhaps the hardest part is the fact-checking. The taking of the information and discerning the absolute truth and at the same time realizing that the absolute truth will probably never be learned. After all, people’s feelings, opinions, perceived innuendos, preferences, history, etc, play into the telling of an incident, often distorting the facts.

It does make me wonder how the Good News - Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness - every really gets passed along in the church. I am so glad it does, however, even in spite of us humans. And that not only does the message continue, but Jesus’ love remains perfect (where mine surely isn’t) and his forgiveness quick. Thanks be to God!


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Day #557

July 11, 2015

One word - thankful.

But for many reasons:
  • Thankful for a day to spend at home.
  • Thankful to have had a couple of days away in an absolutely beautiful place! 
  • Thankful for family and friends.
  • Thankful for hope found in Jesus Christ.
And the list could go on and on!


Day #556

July 10, 2015

Here are a couple more beautiful shots hubby took.

On the Going-to-the-Sun-Road:

And one of McDonald Creek:

Some of the most beautiful blue water - and crystal clear. Quite the place - the beauty of God’s world!


Day #555

July 9, 2015

A couple of days away - to Glacier National Park. Beautiful!

We ran into a couple from North Carolina who took our picture - and we took theirs. Small world!

And a boat ride on St. Mary Lake. Wonderful!


Day #554

July 8, 2015

It may not have been the first time this advice has been shared, but it was perhaps one of the most emotional moments in which I have heard it said. As I attended a funeral, one of the family members shared about a piece of advice the deceased had given him. He said that even though the deceased was a man of few words, and gave little advice, not long after his children were born, he told him, “the best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.”

What powerful words and loving advice. And they were said with tears not only from him, but his wife and children, too. Evidently the advice was heard, and followed. How awesome that this father and grandfather shared this wisdom and that it touched, in a positive way, generations to follow.


Day #553

July 7, 2015

Each day the Daily Intersection ends with this word - Blessings. When I was asked about my use of that word (wondering if I may be using it too freely based on the expense it cost Jesus to make blessing us possible - see d365 "think" for July 7:d365 Think) it made me realize it has been a while since I explained my use of “blessings” here and as the ending to most notes I send.

My use of "blessings" is not meant to call into possibility some kind of "magic" by God to obtain “stuff” or the favor of God for one person/team/event over another. Instead, it is meant to remind whoever reads it that God’s face is upon them; that God cares about all things in their life, and about them in all ways. It is meant to remind whoever reads it that no matter what, where, or when, God loves them, is with them, and is looking upon them.

That’s way more important than any “stuff” we could ever accumulate. Thanks be to God!


Day #552

July 6, 2015

When someone else puts what you have been thinking into very succinct words, it can pull at your faith heartstrings. The prayer from d365 for July 6th is one of those moments:
Living God, open my ears and mind to not simply listen, but to hear and understand what you are saying to me today and every day. Amen.
Amen and amen. The noise of the world IS loud. The distractions of the world ARE many. Do help me to hear your voice, O God, and to understand what you are saying.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Day #551

July 5, 2015

Often God reminds me to straighten out my attitude in almost humorous ways. There was a message from a neighbor to the congregation asking for drinking water. A rather specific request for a 24-count case of drinking water, albeit with a seemingly good explanation. So…my husband and I obliged. I must confess, it wasn’t exactly willingly or joyfully on my part, but we did. It’s what we are to do, right?!

Well, after delivering the water, as we pulled away from the curb and made the turn toward home, a pickup truck pulls beside us at the stoplight. On the back of the truck is this scripture: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Okay God, I get it!


Day #550

July 4, 2015

What could be a more fun way to celebrate the 4th than being in a parade!?!?! The congregation I serve will celebrate its 125th anniversary in November, but we’re starting the festivities early.

A huge thanks to the committee who helped the float idea come together and made sure it happened – many hours of planning, construction, etc. made for a wonderful time!

Here are some shots I took of the final preparations to the float and then one of me actually being in the parade. Thanks to the photographer who took the pic of a couple of the “float riders.” :-)


Friday, July 3, 2015

Day #549

July 3, 2015

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words? How about these two dozen?

Day #548

July 2, 2015

This cross-stitch copy of the “Serenity Prayer” hung in my grandma’s house after I made it for her many years ago. It was her favorite prayer. It’s now in my home and often helps remind me of Who is in charge.

Naturally, I thought of it when I saw this entire “Serenity Prayer” reportedly by Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Day #547

July 1, 2015

In something I recently read (can’t remember where unfortunately!), the author talked about a time someone had come through for them, mostly when it was unexpected. It made me think of the times someone paid it forward for me. For example, I often give thanks for the professor at LTSG, Dr. Rick Carlson, who paid it forward for me by encouraging me in Summer Greek. I often tell others that without his notes on the bottom of tests that kept saying, you can do this!, I’m not sure I would have made it. I never expected him to be so encouraging as a professor, but he certainly came through for me and was instrumental in helping me become a pastor.

Has someone come through for you, or paid it forward on your behalf? Perhaps as important, or more so, have you come through for someone else?


Day #546

June 30, 2015

Something on Facebook caught my attention: “Flat Jesus.” What is that? It is a cartoon-like picture of Jesus that is cutout and mounted on a Popsicle stick. Fine, but what is the point of that? Well, folks are encouraged to take “Flat Jesus” with them on vacation, then take a picture of where they all are and send it back to their congregation.

Ok, again, what is the point of that? As a reminder that no matter where we go, what we do, who we see or meet, Jesus is with us because he never takes a vacation from accompanying us, re-filling us, loving us.

So where is Jesus going with you this summer? Or, another way to think of it, where do you see Jesus at work in your life today? Or what is your Daily Intersection? (Which is not just for the summer, by the way!)


Day #545

June 29, 2015

In the article, Nice Is Not Enough, included in the July edition of “The Lutheran” magazine, Rev. Dave Daubert talked about what is most important for a church. (See this link for the full article: Nice Is Not Enough)

He writes that a church that is hospitable, welcoming, or full of “nice” people, is not the key. However, a church that is filled with vibrant faith in God is what is needed to connect with others, deepen discipleship, and grow.

Hmm... This is quite a thought-provoking article which I highly recommend.


Day #544

June 28, 2015

Another member of God’s kingdom was welcomed on Sunday, June 28th, through the celebration of the sacrament of baptism. Another child of God marked with the cross of Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Another worker with us in God’s kingdom. Another disciple/apostle gathered who will learn at Jesus’ feet and be sent out to serve and share. Another moment to give thanks to God for loving us so much! Awesome!!