Saturday, December 24, 2016

Day #1088

December 23, 2016 

One more moment for a pity-party (I promise it is the last one!!). It is Christmas Eve Eve and the world is busy. People are coming and going and all I want to do is rest. :-( Not the kind of week I expected!

Perhaps this will help me be more respectful and understanding of those who suffer in body, mind and spirit during this time of year. Every year. Lord, have mercy!


Day #1087

December 22, 2016 

So, the feeling yucky continues and is slowing me down. Everything will not be able to be accomplished by the end of the week. Some things will have to wait. And, of course, there is frustration and regret.

In the midst of feeling down and out, a "Charlie Brown Christmas" program reminds me of the reason, the essence of this time of year:

A good reminder that it matters not if all is accomplished by me, for Christ comes and does it all!


Day #1086

December 21, 2016 

On the first day of winter, the day with the longest amount of darkness where we live, we come to worship, reflect, and find hope - hope and trust that the light of Christ dispels the darkness of our world. 

Thank you to those who planned and participated in the Blue Christmas Worship Service. A meaningful time. A beautiful time. A time to remember to focus on the Light!


Day #1085

December 20, 2016

As the week progresses, I realize how far behind we seem to be. How did this happen when planning began so early?!?! 

And in the midst of it, feeling bad, too! Rats!! Praying to be better by the weekend!!


Day #1084

December 19, 2016

What an honor to invoke the name of God in prayer. What a privilege to bring all our wants and needs, thanksgivings and desires to our Lord. We can pray at any time, about anything. Yet, praying with someone else, on our knees, what an amazing moment. 

Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayers. Thank you for folks who invite you to pray with them.


Day #1083

December 18, 2016 

A wonderful time of worship with lessons of prophecy and hope mixed with beautiful music - hymns, bells, piano, organ, duet.

It is an expectant time as we come near the end of Advent. The Christmas Season is but one week away - the time has gone quickly and busily. And so I wonder, what will this week bring? 


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Day #1082

December 17, 2016 

This from Richard Rohr in his daily devotion email spoke to me in this season of wonder:
A wonderful children’s book, Old Turtle and the Broken Truth, [1] tells a story of how the world came to be so fragmented when it is meant to be whole and how we might put it back together again. I invite you to read this tale as a child might, with wonder and imagination. 
One night, in a far-away land that “is somehow not so far away,” a truth falls from the stars. As it falls, it breaks into two pieces; one piece blazes off through the sky and the other falls straight to the ground. One day, a man stumbles upon the gravity-drawn truth and finds carved on it the words, “You are loved.” It makes him feel good, so he keeps it and shares it with the people in his tribe. The thing sparkles and makes the people who have it feel warm and happy. It becomes their most prized possession, and they call it “The Truth.” Those who have the truth grow afraid of those who don’t have it, who are different. And those who don’t have it covet it. Soon people are fighting wars over the small truth, trying to capture it for themselves. 
A little girl who is troubled by the growing violence, greed, and destruction in her once-peaceful world goes on a journey—through the Mountains of Imagining, the River of Wondering Why, and the Forest of Finding Out—to speak with Old Turtle, the wise counselor. Old Turtle tells her that the Truth is broken and missing a piece, a piece that shot off in the night sky so long ago. Together they search for it and, when they find it, the little girl puts the jagged piece in her pocket and returns to her people. She tries to explain, but no one will listen or understand. Finally, a raven flies the broken truth to the top of a tower, where the other piece has been ensconced for safety, and the rejoined pieces shine their full message: “You are loved / and so are they.” And the people begin to comprehend. And the earth begins to heal.

[1] Douglas Wood and Jon J Muth, Old Turtle and the Broken Truth (New York: Scholastic, 2003)

Day #1081

December 16, 2016

What a fun evening sharing dinner, laughter, and time with the wonderful staff of the congregation where I serve (missing one who we remember in prayer for continued healing!). What a great time being away from work and getting to know one another a little better. Thank you all for taking time out of this busy season to gather!

And then there was this reminder I saw posted on FaceBook.

A reminder that while change isn’t always easy, it can sure be worth the effort. Amen!!


Day #1080

December 15, 2016 

As the Christmas cards fill the post office box, I am so thankful for these connections with friends and family nearby and far away. It is good to hear from folks who are a part of our lives.

So if you do not hear from us right away, know we are grateful. And know that sometime during the year you should hear from us, with a note and reminder that we pulled out your card, remembered you in prayer, and gave thanks again for you as a part of our lives. (This idea came to me from an article I read several years ago about someone who started this practice. We adopted it and have found great joy in it.)


Day #1079

December 14, 2016

Somehow in the rush to get out of the house, I left my phone at home without time to turn around and retrieve it. So I spent the morning LOST without it (thanks to my hubby who brought it to me after lunch!). But the morning passed without being able to check my home email, update my calendar, use the GPS app, or receive any possible text messages. 

Upon reflection I was saddened by how much I seem to rely on this little electronic device and how much I missed not having it with me. How have I come to this incessant need to stay connected?! Do I really need to be this available?! Am I really lost without it?!

Found these to be good questions to ponder.


Day #1078

December 13, 2016

This from Dale Tadlock in the devotion d365 spoke especially to me:
As we sing and celebrate the love of Jesus during this season, may we also take a moment to pray about taking responsibility to respond in order for God to be able to intervene and restore us and those around the world. Not the easiest of tasks, but one the holiday season and the Jesus we serve beckons us to do. 

Day #1077

December 12, 2016 

Thanks goes to the presenter for Young at Heart, who talked about gratitude and reminded us of the need to express our gratefulness to others. She led us through an exercise I want to share: 
  • Take out pencil and paper and list at least ten people who have influenced you in your life - living or not. They may be teachers, family members, church friends, work related, etc.
  • Next circle the top three who have made the most impact on you by what they have said or done for you 
  • Then, out of the top three you circled, pick the one still living who rises to the top and place a star by their name. 
  • Finally, commit to handwriting a note or letter to that person and sending it during these last days of Advent or throughout the Christmas Season. 
Several years ago I heard something similar to this and was able to send a letter to the person who believed in me, encouraged me, and influenced me the most in my path to being a pastor. He will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you, Pastor Hank!!

Lastly, I saw this post about leadership that caused me to pray I might be even just a little like this as a leader. I certainly know the pastor I wrote to is like this, and for that I am thankful he has been a part of my life!


Day #1076

December 11, 2016 

There is so much going on in preparation for the last Sunday of Advent and for Christmas Eve. Bell rehearsal, youth band rehearsal, Advent Study, decorating the sanctuary, special “thanks” fellowship time. People buzzing around, laughing, working together. My heart (and the congregation's building) is full!!

And, yet, my heart is also heavy as the life on this earth of our Godson’s pappy came to an end. He fought an incredibly hard fight and had an amazing journey with the extra years to know and love his grandsons, thanks to the generous and loving gift of a lung transplant. My heart goes out to his family and know that our love and prayers are with you. 


Day #1075

December 10, 2016

I remember how my friend who taught me to make these delicious cookies said that for her the smell of almond flavoring that goes into the batter is the official signal of the coming of Christmas. I have to agree. And it brings back many memories. 

So of course she was in my thoughts (and prayers) as I added the flavoring and painstakingly cookie-pressed several dozen of these. I am grateful to have her so close in my heart as I think of the times we have made them together (and thankful for my hubby's help this time!).

We’ll enjoy these cookies, share some, and think of you each time we open the tin(s). 


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Day #1074

December 9, 2016 

When I came to this call, I was delighted to find the local Lutheran pastors, and like servants, gathered at least once yearly to share a meal and fellowship. We met at a local restaurant and spent a couple hours laughing, talking, exchanging ideas, etc. Well, sadly, the restaurant closed where we usually met, but thankfully there was option B - Good Eats Catering. 

So we gathered this year at the congregation where I serve for good (really good!) food, conversation, warmth and laughter. And, once again, it was delightful - no rush, no worry, no hurry. 

What a joy to gather with these colleagues! And thank you Good Eats for saving the day!!


Day #1073

December 8, 2016 

The word for the day - thankful. 

Thankful for a full day - enjoyed good food and fellowship at an early morning meeting/breakfast; continued to check things off the list at the office; lunch (more good food) and special time visiting; study, more food and visiting; delivering cookies, God’s meal and more visiting; and on and on. 

Even with single-digit temperatures outside, the warmth brought about by joy in visiting inside with others could not be taken away. :-)


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day #1072

December 7, 2016

Seventy-five years ago today the world changed forever. Sadly, each generation seems to contain a defining-moment day such as the attack on Pearl Harbor - the day John F. Kennedy was shot and 9/11 are a couple of examples that come to mind. But December 7, 1941 was certainly “a date that will [and has] live[d] in infamy.” 

As I thought about this day seventy-five years ago, it struck me how it generally began as any other day. People were living their lives, going about their ordinary routines. Babies were being born, people were going to school and work, yet they had no idea what was about to happen. I thought of my grandma who told me about her experience that day - “I was washing dishes,” she would say. “And the news came on the radio about what had happened. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.” Suddenly, everything had changed for most everyone. 

In this season of Advent, there is a focus on preparation - being ready, staying alert, watching and waiting with expectation and patience for the coming of Jesus. But while we wait, there is much in our world, as we are reminded today, that we cannot foresee, or even imagine happening. So how do we prepare for the unexpected? How can we be ready for what we don’t even know is coming? How do we go about our lives as we wait - with fear and trembling or with trust? How can we keep our focus on the hope and promise of the coming of Jesus while we’re wondering what our world is coming to? 

There are certainly no easy answers to these questions. Yet, I am also reminded that "tragic" cannot always be used to characterize the changes that strike in the midst of our ordinary lives. Sometimes the unexpected is a joyful surprise - such as the birth of Jesus. No one really saw that coming either, and yet with his birth the world was truly changed forever - in a most amazing and grace-filled way. 


Day #1071

December 6, 2016

For the brave couple of dozen to come out in the cold, it was another lovely night of music to benefit Family Promise. John Floridis performed for about an hour, and it was delightful. So glad we didn’t let the weather keep us home. 

But will have to say this, whatever happened to a good ‘ol snow day?!?! Nope, we're not in the south any longer. :-)


Day #1070

December 5, 2016

Okay, it’s officially C-O-L-D. 10:20 pm and 0 degrees at the airport. Windchill nearly -20 (yes, that is a minus!!). Just one question - what happened to the mild Fall???

Prayers for all those who might be needing a warm place for the night. And for the future, because it looks like the cold is here to stay for a while. At this rate it will definitely be a white Christmas. :-)


PS For those who may be wondering: 0 degrees with low humidity really isn’t as bad as 32 degrees with high humidity. Really!! And, yes, we’re doing good!! 

Day #1069

December 4, 2016

What a holiday-spirited way to spend a Sunday afternoon - at the Symphony Christmas Concert. The musicians were fantastic, and the choir, well, awesome!! Nothing like having cold chills from the Hallelujah Chorus being performed!!!! WOW!!

So glad we were able to attend and enjoy some of the amazing talent of home.


Day #1068

December 3, 2016

What a fun event the Women of the ELCA provided called a “Share-a-bration.”

Here’s part of the creativity of the organizers - and the outline/program for the event:

C - Carols
H - Holly (and Holly played her french Horn)
R - Remembering
I - Immanuel (the story of Jesus’ birth)
S - Stories
T - Trees (decorating by everyone)
M - Music
A - Appetites (COOKIES!!!)
S - Sharing (gifts for others and cookies for homebound)

What a joy-filled time!! The generosity of folks who brought gifts for the Receiving Home and cookies was overwhelming. And I’m very grateful for those who said yes to taking cookie trays to the homebound - I appreciate the assistance, and know they will appreciate the visits! Thank you!!


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Day #1067

December 2, 2016

The day began with intense frustration at not being able to have a routine medical test done because paperwork wasn’t received that I was assured had been sent. Grrr…

But then the day ended with a fun event - the annual Christmas Stroll. I had to snap this picture of a little one looking for Santa. Where is he? This is his seat!! (He was later spotted handing out candy along the way. No worries, Santa isn’t lost.)

Ahh…the beauty of the lights. It IS a wonderful time of year!


Day #1066

December 1, 2016

As we go deeper into this season of preparation, this got me to thinking of what I really want:

Then this message of H-O-P-E was shared by Tammy Devine, ELCA Wellness Manager, in an email from Portico, the ELCA’s insurance and benefit service:  
The season of Advent invites us to live in hope with the confidence that God dwells with us in Christ Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit empowers us to be a bold voice as we advocate for the oppressed, the poor, the sick, and the neighbor. Yet too often we as leaders are so busy caring for others that we fail to nurture our own sense of God’s presence. 
Amidst the activity of this season, I’ve included below a simple practice to foster hope. May hope in Christ’s coming give you the courage to live faithfully, and be well, this Advent. [this is the essence of her practice ideas:]
A Practice of H-O-P-E

H - Hear one another. Listen fully to others, and for God’s voice. Faithful listening allows God to be your guide.
O - Observe through God’s eyes. Recognize Christ in others rather than being quick to judge or make assumptions.
- Be present in the moment. Remember that wherever you are, there is God. Practice acknowledging this presence through intentional reflection on your day: When did I feel God’s presence? What (or who) helped me recognize God? When did I feel disconnected from God? What got in the way of connecting with God?
- Expect that God is at work in the midst of the chaos and weariness of our world — and through you.


Day #1065

November 30, 2016

Not having children of my own, I tend to sort of “adopt” those I am fortunate to serve with. And much like a parent, I am warmed (and proud) when others notice how awesome the youth are - like the woman who pointed out her observance of just that at the High School Youth breakfast. “Those are some awesome kids,” she said. 

And I agree. I’m thankful!!


Day #1064

November 29, 2016 

Ever thought of your congregation as your church family? I’m not surprised if you have. There are many similarities. Some folks are fortunate to be “born” into a particular congregation and stay there most of their lives. Some come into a congregation by way of invitation, perhaps by a spouse or friend, and are sort of “adopted.” Some get angry or disillusioned by something that happens or too many disagreements and leave a congregation, much like a “divorce.” 

So when Anne Edison-Ablright was quoted from her article “Church Family” on the WELCA Daily Grace blog, it seemed worthy of sharing: 
A congregation is not a family. We know this, and we know the problem with the metaphor: it can be exclusive, rather than inclusive. Most families are internally focused, difficult to join and fairly homogeneous. Families have unwritten rules and codes that define who is in and who is out, who is us and who is them. 
New people coming to a congregation aren’t going to immediately feel like family members, especially if they’re different in some way from the tight-knit group already formed. 
A[nd] yet, there is this: We are family because we belong to God through Christ. We are also family because of what we are called to do: Love each other, work together for justice and peace, share our gifts and talents and share responsibilities. 
A congregation is not family. But it is part of the family of God.
Food for thought! 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Day #1063

November 28, 2016

Some days it is the simplest of joys that remind me to be thankful for a community that gathers around the love of Christ. And IS gathered by the love of Christ. Laughter, food, caring questions, concerns shared and discussed, money raised for a good cause, new folks welcomed, and more, are all are a part of the "community" celebrated this day. While all these may seem simple, they can make a huge impact.

It is a joy to be a part of the lives of others! Hope you have/take some time to enjoy the gift of community!


Day #1062

November 27, 2016 

The season of Advent is here! And a little bit of the Moravian Church tradition we embraced in NC continues out west.

A blessed season of Advent to all!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Day #1061

November 26, 2016

The word for this day...thankful. Just to be out and about on a beautiful day shopping and enjoying time with my hubby is cause for giving thanks. 

But I am also praying for many who are on my mind - those who are healing, afraid, have just lost loved ones, are waiting with those who are dying, have loved ones fighting for their life…so many. May the Lord be with you all and may you know you are in my prayers.


Day #1060

November 25, 2016 

November 25th is a big day for my Sister-in-Law. It’s her birthday. And this year is extra special since it is one of those “0” ending birthdays. :-) I am thankful my hubby and I had an opportunity to chat with her. But even more, I’m simply thankful for her. And since she says she reads each post, this is for you: HAPPY "SPECIAL" BIRTHDAY TO YOU!! Love and hugs!!


Day #1059

November 24, 2016

Gina Yeager-Buckley shared this prayer in the online devotion d365. It is a good prayer outline to use on Thanksgiving Day especially, but I actually believe it is good for every day! 
O God, these things are true in my life and in the world around me … (silently name or write the true things you think about). 
O God, these things are holy in my life and in the world around me … (silently name or write the holy things you think about). 
O God, these things are just or require justice in my life and in the world around me … (silently name or write the things that are just or need justice that you think about). 
O God, these things are pure in my life and in the world around me … (silently name or write about the pure things you think about). 
O God, these things are lovely in my life and in the world around me …  (silently name or write about the lovely things you think about). 
O God, I praise you and thank you for all of these things. All of them, each of them, reflect your goodness, your mercy, your intention. All of them are worthy of your praise. Thank you, God. Amen.
And with that I wish all a very Happy Thanksgiving!!


Day #1058

November 23, 2016

What a joy it is to worship with our neighbors. Once again we partnered with the church across the alley to provide an ecumenical Thanksgiving Eve worship service. Others joined in, as well. Joyful music, a lively message, and fellowship that followed the service - what more could you ask for?! 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Day #1057

November 22, 2016 

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the ordination of women in the ELCA (Rev. Elizabeth Platz was the first, ordained Nov. 22, 1970). I cannot help but be thankful for all the women - and men - who have gone before me to make this possible, to pave the way, to educate and patiently endure. 

Of course, I especially remember and give thanks for my home pastor. Some 35 years ago, he asked me if I had ever considered becoming a pastor. I replied, I can’t do that. I’m a girl. And he responded, women can be pastors, too. I was floored. I had no idea. With there being only 10 years or so of history of such, the word had not gotten to me yet. Who knew that some 20+ years later I would finally do just that, head off to seminary to try and answer what I thought was God’s call on my life. 

Now the way is made straighter for other women to pursue what they feel is God’s calling on their life as a pastor. It’s not what everyone should or must do as a Christian, but for some it is the most amazing of calls. I also think of the young girl in the congregation who right now loves church and everything about it. One day she just might find herself going off to try and answer God’s call on her life as an ordained pastor. 

Today, I’m simply grateful that God calls all of us to areas of ministry - some as teachers, some as prophets, some as pastors, some as doctors, nurses, accountants, homemakers, executives, designers, etc., etc. Each of us has a calling to spread God’s word and share the Good News of God’s love and grace. Thanks be to God.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Day #1056

November 21, 2016 

It is a rare opportunity when the mayor of the town comes to talk with a group of folks at the congregation. And one I was glad to be a part of. Yes, he is partial to the opportunities found in this town, but then that is a good quality for a mayor to have. And I must agree, it is a “Great” place to live. 

Thank you for the leaders who work diligently to keep improving our town. Prayers for their decisions to be ones of mercy and justice. Amen and amen!

And thank you to those who invited the mayor and put the program together!! Keep up the good work!!


Day #1055

November 20, 2016 

What an awesome surprise - an anniversary cake for fellowship time!! Two years - and what a great week of celebration! 

So while I didn’t get the opportunity to see the cake before it was cut, I certainly appreciate the thought and action!!! And am thankful folks were able to enjoy the treat and celebrate with me! Thank you!!


Day #1054

November 19, 2016 

While I am thankful for the nice days we have been having here - sunny and warm for mid-November - I am praying desperately for rain for those who need it. Prayers for those fighting fires, those in harm’s way, and those suffering from the side-effects of smoke, etc. May the Lord provide you with the rain you need - - and soon!


Day #1053

November 18, 2016

There is a lot of hate speak running rampant. Sometimes it is almost overwhelming and just seems to be too much. What do we do when we wonder if we can change anything? Are we helpless? Is there anything anyone can do? 

Then, I came across this picture of a swastika turned from a statement of hate into one of love: 

And suddenly it seems so simple - we must turn hate into love. Easy? Not always! But there is hope and possibility through God’s promise: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5)!! 

Thanks be to God, and to the hope found in love!!


PS The credit for this story - it was reported by Mark Mulholland / WNYT Copyright 2016 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Day #1052

November 17, 2016

Time goes by in a hurry!! Two years ago today I walked into my new office and took this picture of the bulletin board decorated to welcome me:

Now, two years later today, the same board looks like this:

A lot of life happens as you get to know folks and are welcomed into their lives. Each of the items on this board is a reminder of that: notes, pictures, articles, mementos, all precious because of the memories they represent. And all are items I cherish.

Oh, the yellow flowers on the cabinet - another beautiful bouquet sent to me to celebrate this anniversary. Yes, I’ve said it before, but I’ll keep saying it - I am truly thankful and grateful for this opportunity to serve with these folks. 

But then, I am thankful for both places I have served and the people I have walked/am walking with. What an amazing and awesome journey!!