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.