Friday, January 29, 2016

Day #758

January 28, 2016

The simple joy of a merry-go-round:

Day #757

January 27, 2016

Another “whale” of a day (good food):

                                               And at Sea World:
And another gorgeous sunset:


Day #756

January 26, 2016

Pictures are worth a thousand words:
That joy-filled face I talked about on Day #753
On the water - looking for whales
And we saw one (several, but this was the best - the breach caught on film by the crew).
A beautiful sunset!!!


Day #755

January 25, 2016

A couple for this day:
1. From L DeAne Lagerquist in God Pause:
When I was a youth, a wise woman touched me with sage words. It was not long after I graduated from college, in an adult forum at Ascension Lutheran Church in Los Angles. I wish that I could remember the woman's name; I'm certain she was involved in social service with elderly people. What she said that I do remember was simple but profound: at every stage of our lives, there are things that we cannot do. And the corollary is that at every stage there are things that we can do. Now that I am no longer so young, I take courage from this woman's observation...
Oh my yes, there are things I cannot do now that I miss - but then there are things I do now I would never have dreamed of doing twenty years ago. Or maybe dreamed of, but never thought would be a reality. These words are a good reminder to be grateful for all stages of life (especially as we make memories with dear friends).

2. A Simon-says. This from a conversation between our Godson and his mommy as they were playing pretend. I just L-O-V-E this:
Simon: Mommy, I am going to be the mommy and you are going to be the daddy.
Me: Okay.
Simon: I'm going to be at the hospital having a baby girl named Jonav. You are going to be at church preaching.
Me: Aren't I the Daddy? Is the Daddy preaching?
Simon: You know Mommy, boys can be pastors too!
Me: <Laughing hysterically>


Day #754

January 24, 2016

Annual Congregational Meeting. There is much to be thankful for during the past year, and on this day:
  • Thanks to the staff who I appreciate beyond words. Their working together, putting in their all, and their joy-filled attitude give me great joy.
  • Thanks to the council for their commitment, hard work, and forward thinking.
  • Thanks to the congregation for their good and faithful stewardship, determination, desire to be God’s servants and faith
  • Thanks to a bunch of kids for Time with Children - their laughter, their enthusiasm, their smiles and trust; faithful ladies who say “God Bless You” every week; and the presence of friends!

Day #753

January 23, 2016
“But we've been given the gift of baptism--forgiven, cleansed and entrusted with responsibilities in God's family.” E. Corinne Chilstrom from God Pause
Yes, God’s grace is freely given, without requirements to be fulfilled in order to receive. Yet, the gift does not come cheaply, or without, as E. Corinne Chilstrom writes, responsibilities. Ways that we are to live in response to that free gift of God’s love and relationship.

Yet, not all responsibility is work. Sometimes our responsibility is to find joy, make joy, be joy. As my friend bears the pain of her disease, she finds joy in what she sees (for example, the simple beauty of the mountains), she makes joy in her laughter, and she is joy through her presence and transparency.

I am full of joy to be able to be near her, and am always inspired by who she is and how she is. And, I learn a lot from her that I pray I can someday use to help others.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Day #752

January 22, 2016

Thankful!!! That is what I am, thank-full!!! Full of thanksgiving for friends visiting, their safe travel, laughter and hugs. Lots of hugs!!

Look out memories, we’re gonna make a bunch!!!


Day #751

January 21, 2016

How can we do more? Are we called to get involved? Is the system too corrupt/broken/flawed to be helped, let alone fixed? What can we do?

Perhaps these are questions that have crossed your mind before, too. Perhaps the answer has been to turn a blind eye or throw up our hands in despair. Perhaps that has only helped move the “system” toward more corruption/brokenness/flaws. Not an easy thing to hear, or think, but we are all called to get involved, for we are all connected.

What can we do? Prayer is a good beginning. Conversation with others who are like minded and desire to help is a good step. Making plans - important. Then moving into action - that’s the hope, the goal, the desire.

And since the conversations go well. Next...


Day #750

January 20, 2016

The word for Wednesday? Word!

Specifically - God’s Word - in two Bible study times and confirmation class (a normal Wednesday). LOTS of time in the Word. I’m grateful - for I know the time is fruitful!!!


Day #749

January 19, 2016
Change! Not a word many folks enjoy hearing, or doing. I can’t say I blame them. The last year and a half has brought much change in our lives. Yet, since not all change is negative, I must say I’m thankful for the change(s), because they’re all good.

Perhaps the possibility of change being good, and the negative connotations "change" conjures, I have begun to use the word “transition” instead of change. After all, "transition" is a good thing, a growing thing, a positive move forward, right?!

Either way, we're celebrating one of those transitions in the congregation - and I’m thankful. And excited for the possibilities, the good and growing things, and the positive move forward.


Day #748

January 18, 2016

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr, day, a picture of the monument in Washington, DC, taken while on a mission trip in 2014.
In case it's unable to be deciphered, the inscription says: Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

Yes, thankfully, there is always hope for justice and mercy!!


Day #747

January 17, 2016

Thirteen people gather around a table. Thirteen minds, thirteen folks gifted with differing gifts and talents, thirteen differing perspectives, experiences and history with the church. The point? To begin a conversation of spiritual habits for the transformation of us, and thereby the church.

It was a great first conversation, and I am excited about the possibilities. Yes, thirteen heads are WAY better than just one!


Day #746

January 16, 2016

First Corinthians, chapter 12, is about spiritual gifts. There are different gifts and different ministries, but the same Lord. And each of us is given gifts and talents (yes, every one of us has gifts and talents!) that are to be used for the common good. So this from the “think” portion of d365 caused me to think: “Are there dormant gifts in me that Jesus will use to cause people to say, “You have kept the good wine until now”?” (This is a nod to the second chapter of the Gospel of John and Jesus’ first “sign” of changing water into wine.)

I had to wonder: am I headed toward being better “wine” in my own life (the wine from the water Jesus turned was the best - saved for the last instead of being used first)? Is the best yet to be in me? I certainly hope so!! I believe God surely isn’t finished with me, but is always transforming me. And thanks be to God for that! Thanks be to God for always transforming all of us.

So I join with Deborah Guy in praying:
Dear Jesus, thank you for not holding back your goodness! Help me not to hold back with the gifts you’ve given me. Keep working in me, transforming me for your glory. Amen.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Day #745

January 15, 2016

A discussion began in an online group I am a part of concerning whether pastors who are “pipeliners” (these are folks who go straight into college from high school, then directly into seminary from college, then are ordained and begin serving at a congregation) have had enough “life experience” to be effective pastors. A couple of the questions brought up were: should folks be required to have a year or more in secular employment first and are these folks just too young at 26 or so to handle leading a parish.

It is a debate that many of my seminary classmates also had, often with feelings being hurt on both sides of the coin (especially, it seemed, as many of those who were much older second-career pastors had their minds made up that pipeliners definitely needed "life-experience," no matter what they had already experienced in their lives).

With all this said, as it came up again, I was reminded of just how much I learn from, and am thankful for, being very close friends with one of those pipeliners - our Godson’s mother, in fact. In seminary, she gave me confidence and courage to step into roles I never dreamed I would be in. She kept me on my toes, encouraged me to study hard, helped me learn about things like FaceBook and instant messaging, and helped me to think young and respect youth. I learned so very much from this intelligent, self-assured, deeply devoted pastor - and I still do. I am very proud of who she is as mother, wife, daughter and pastor.

It concerns me that this is simply a reckless debate that does nothing to build-up the body of Christ - because we ALL have gifts and talents and can learn from one another, if we will just open our minds and hearts!!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Day #744

January 14, 2016

One more piece of wisdom to share from Tuesdays with Morrie:
“People are only mean when they're threatened[...]and that's what our culture does.” “And when you get threatened, you start looking out only for yourself.”
This is referring in part to advertising and such that tells us we do not have enough, so we need to buy more, do more, be more. It’s a focus on scarcity that threatens our way of life and security, and thereby makes us suspicious, critical, skeptical, and feeds the fear that if you have, and I don’t, I must take what you have so that I’m not inferior or lacking. And we become mean.

I must say, the book contains a lot of wisdom spoken in a very short amount of time. And here is one more (my final, honestly! for the book is done, but I hope the learning sticks with me!!): “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Oh, so true. Whether our relationships are good and healthy, or tenuous and challenging, every relationship becomes a part of who we are - for our forever! The death of someone does not stop the tapes that run in our head. And while that can be a good - and a bad thing - perhaps it can help us in this way: how can the “tapes” that we are a part of recording in someone’s head be the most helpful? In other words, how can we be intentional in doing things that serve to build-up, not tear down, someone else (I’m particularly thinking of children)?

And finally, there is great hope that because relationships become a part of who we are forever, when death parts us from those we love, it does not mean they are lost to us. Their memories live on in us, and through us, and we honor them because of that.


PS This really is a helpful book, and one I recommend. But, there are probably some sighs of relief that I’m finished reading it. :-)

Day #743

January 13, 2016

If you read Day #742, you know I’m reading Tuesdays with Morrie. Here is another tidbit, this time on aging:
“Mitch, it is impossible for the old not to envy the young. But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be in your thirties. I had my time to be in my thirties, and now is my time to be seventy-eight. You have to find what's good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue.”
Okay, that is helpful to read as I long for the abandon of my twenties, the energy of my thirties, and even the strength of my forties.

But then I thought this was the real clincher. There was a discussion about why Morrie wanted people to continue telling him about their problems in life. And he talked with Mitch Albom about having satisfaction in life itself, in relationships, and not in the stuff. He seems to be saying that we often work so hard in our youth to accumulate, but real joy comes in offering what you have to give. Then Morrie said:
“Why do you think it's so important for me to hear other people's problems? Don't I have enough pain and suffering of my own? Of course I do. But giving to other people is what makes me feel alive.”
Followed later by: “This is how you start to get respect, by offering something you have.”

And we ALL have something intangible to give. Not presents wrapped in pretty paper, or money, or "stuff" such as this, but simple things to offer like respect, a listening ear, empathy, mercy, simply ourselves.

I suppose as we get older, or closer to the realization of our own mortality at whatever age, what is truly important comes more clearly into focus. Why does it have to take so long?


Day #742

January 12, 2016

I am finally getting around to reading the book, Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom is a favorite author of mine, and while I have read many of his books, this one I kept putting off. Perhaps it was because it needed to be the right time, and this seems like it.

Here is a quote from the book that caught my attention:
"if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too - even when you're in the dark."
Trust as a two-way street?! Hmmm… I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about it in that way before - trusting others even when we can't see what they're doing helps them to trust you. 

Then there is this piece. Ted Koppel came to interview Morrie Schwartz (actually more than once). As Morrie’s body became more entombed through his disease, the threat to his ability to speak became imminent. One of Morrie’s best friends was going deaf, so Ted Koppel asked what Morrie would do to communicate with his friend when he could no longer speak due to ALS and his friend could no longer hear. The reply: “‘We will hold hands,’ Morrie said. ‘And there will be a lot of love passing between us. Ted, we've had thirty-five years of friendship. You don't need speech or hearing to feel that.’”

The power of touch. The power of presence. The power of love and friendship. Yep, it’s the absolute right time to be reading this book!


Day #741

January 11, 2016

Why do I go to church? It’s a question I was asked many times before I became a pastor (I suppose it’s a little more obvious why I go now). Yet, the question, and the answer, of why do I go still applies.

I was reminded of that question by an article that came across my radar - you can read it here: Why do I go to church even when I don't feel like it?

Here’s my take-away from the article:
Going to church can be about holding this space in which to experience the grace of God together, learn together, fail and forgive and stumble forward together.
Yes, together! In all the ups and downs of relationships with people in the church - those that agree with us and build us up, right alongside those who disagree with most everything and tear us down - we are together. We laugh, we cry, we hope, we despair, we care, we share, we agree, we disagree, we dream, we, we, we… What a beautiful word - we!!!

Not alone, not just I. And for someone who tends to try to “do it myself,” I’m constantly reminded that we IS a most beautiful word. Because in the end, we are loved and forgiven by God. And hearing that every week in community is so much more powerful than hearing it alone.

God loves me and you, US! Wow! So come and worship and be together, with God!!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day #740

January 10, 2016

On our Godson’s 5th birthday, something from what Simon’s Momma had to say:
When I woke up on this day 5 years ago I knew it was the day I was going to become a momma. You were and still are a perfect gift from God. You changed my life in ways I didn't know possible and showed me what it means to love unconditionally. You are so smart, you have a heart for others, you love God, you're crazy about animals, you're a snuggle bug and talk more than anyone I've ever met (well except maybe me). You love cheese pizza and sweets. I am so lucky that God chose me to your earthy momma, on the best of days and the worst of days. I can't believe you're 5. It's been a joy to watch you grow and learn and I can't to see where this year will take us. I love you so, bug. Always and forever.
And we love you, too!!! And miss you!!!


Day #739

January 9, 2016

Yes, this is the actual temperature as I left the church to head to the cemetery.

And while I was all bundled up, I was not miserable by any means. So I had to wonder, am I becoming a western girl? Maybe so. At least a little bit.

What was amazing was watching the moisture in the air form crystals as it froze midair. It was beautiful, as if the heavens were dropping glitter. And the phenomenon formed what is known as “Sun dogs.”

Unfortunately there is no picture of that - it just wouldn’t show up on film. So you will have to take my word for it that it was gorgeous!! And I'm thankful I was out early enough to witness the beauty!


Day #738

January 8, 2016

The Gospel for Sunday, January 10, is from Luke, the 3rd chapter, verses 15-22. John the Baptist tells the people he is not the Messiah, the one the people were expecting to come and restore their lives, importance, and respect.

In an interesting comparison of who John and Jesus are to one another, Brett Younger in d365 had this to say:
If John does not think someone measures up, he yells at them. Jesus talks to anyone who will talk to him. 
John preaches fire and brimstone, “If you don’t shape up, God will toss you into the incinerator.” Jesus preaches grace and forgiveness, “If you don’t shape up, God will love you anyway.” 
John pictures God as an angry judge, while Jesus pictures God as the host at a great party.
Then he went on to talk about the comparison of the church to John and Jesus:
Some churches are more like what John the Baptist had in mind than what you would expect from Jesus’ followers. Jesus called his disciples “friends”— people who enjoy one another, laugh, and hug. Christ’s church is the most fun you have ever had with the best friends you have ever known. God wants us to enjoy God’s love, so laugh, hug, talk, read, write, listen, dream, eat, play, and pray.
So...who would you see yourself being more like, John or Jesus? And what about your church? Or are we all, people and the church, just a little bit of both mixed together?!?!


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Day #737

January 7, 2016

Some food for thought on this Thursday from Jacques Jaujard, as quoted in the book, Moments Men:
It matters little that you are afraid if you manage to hide it. You are then at the edge of courage.
Perhaps the key is not so much to hide fear, but to know where to go to find strength in the midst of it.


Day #736

January 6, 2016

The day of Epiphany. A day to celebrate the revealing of who Jesus is - not just for the Jews, but for ALL humankind.

Wise men came from a long way to find the new king, worship him, and bring him significant/special gifts. And, in doing so, opened eyes and hearts to a new understanding of God through the Son, Jesus.

This Epiphany we worshiped. We celebrated the Light come down to live among us. We enjoyed time together. And it was good!!


Day #735

January 5, 2016

On the 12th Day of Christmas…

Twelve things I am thankful for from this Christmas season (in reverse alphabetical order - just to be fair):
All in all, a glorious Christmas!


Day #734

January 4, 2016

On the 11th Day of Christmas…

I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution exactly, but I will call it a renewed commitment. While the congregation I serve, and its people, are always in my prayers, each week of 2016 I commit to entering the sanctuary early on one day to pray specifically for five households. The plan is that by the end of 2016 I will have named before God every member.

On this 11th Day of Christmas I prayed at the altar, by name, for 7 members as described, plus 4 or so more who have special needs at this time. 11 (+/-) folks who helped make this time with God another special, holy one.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day #733

January 3, 2016

On the 10th Day of Christmas…

10 favorite words from my day as inspired by THE Word who came to dwell among us (see the Gospel of John, the 1st chapter):
  • I love you
  • Thank you 
  • Given for you
  • Needed you
Is there any more that needs to be said?


Day #732

January 2, 2016

On the 9th Day of Christmas…
90 +/- minutes for taking down a very brown Christmas tree. It almost made it to the end of Christmas - and I will miss it.

Day #731

January 1, 2016

On the 8th Day of Christmas…

Which happens to be the first day of a new year, eight key words for the foundation of a new beginning (thanks to below):
  • Wronged - forgiveness
  • Helped - more
  • Couldn’t - understanding
  • Improved (for those who have helped me) - grateful