Saturday, August 27, 2016

Day #969

August 26, 2016 

What fun to hear from friends from far away! To catch up, get the latest news, and be reminded that the ways our lives intertwined have mattered. Such a joy! Thanks for the calls and notes!!


Day #968

August 25, 2016 

Another gorgeous sunset:

A picture is worth a thousand words, don’t you think?


Day #967

August 24, 2016 

Sometimes studying the Bible really hits close to home – “afflicting us in our comfort” as someone once called it. 

As we read the Gospel of Luke, chapter 14, I was convicted about my own sense of “entitlement.” In this chapter, Jesus scolds the leaders for trying to grab the best seats at the dinner party. Evidently, they were jockeying for position near the host or the special guest (those are places of honor, after all), instead of starting out by sitting toward the back, maybe being invited to move up closer. I was reminded of a dinner I once attended where I thought I was sitting at the back and ended up at the head table by mistake. It was very uncomfortable, and I was fortunate I wasn’t asked to move, which would have made it even worse.

But then, later in the chapter, Jesus talks about inviting those who cannot repay you to your dinner party. I have to admit, I thought long and hard about that. Aren’t we entitled to invite who we want to our party? It's our stuff we're sharing, after all. Ahh…but there’s the rub. After all, whose party is it really? I mean, who is doing the providing for the party? Who does the providing for our lives? Certainly lots to think about!


Day #966

August 23, 2016

FaceBook reminded me that the Worldwide Web opened 25 years ago on August 23rd. It brought to mind the first time my boss at the time asked me to “search” for something on the computer. He said something along the lines: “There’s this new thing called the “web?!?!” somewhere on the computer. I hear you can find out all sorts of information by just typing in a question. Would you see what you can find out about it?” 

I thought he was nuts. And, quite frankly, his question scared me to death to try doing something like that on the computer. Of course, that seems so funny now, these 25 years later when I “search” probably dozens of times a day for something - on my phone, no less! The internet/web has become like second nature. 

Makes me wonder what is next for the world we live in – what great/creative minds are dreaming about and experimenting with in small offices or garages?!?! Who knows!!


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day #965

August 22, 2016 

Laughter – it’s such good medicine. There was a re-run on television with four comedians – Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy. Toward the end of the show, the four just sat and told “real-life” stories – “here’s your sign,” “you might be a redneck if…,” “git ‘er done” – that had me in stitches. 

As I listened, I couldn’t help but miss my Father-in-law and his best friend. They would sit for hours and tell stories about adventures in their lives that were almost too crazy to believe, yet would have you laughing until you cried. Real life can be funny, but a great story-teller can make even the ordinary seem hilarious. Thank you to those who share that gift with others. We can all use the laugh.


Day #964

August 21, 2016

I begin with a moment of excitement that came while listening to the news - - - 

is coming to Kalispell! If you’re not familiar with this restaurant, well, MT is in for a treat!! Just their milkshakes are worth a trip, but the chicken 
nuggets and sandwiches – simple yet yummy!

However, perhaps the more important “intersection” is thankfulness for the work of the Holy Spirit. An illustration for the sermon (actually a real-life conversation/moment) came to me in the wee hours of the morning. After worship, someone related it was just what they needed to hear. It’s so awesome when that happens!!! And a reminder of the Spirit at work – always – in and among us!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Day #963

August 20, 2016

Sometimes the intersection between life and faith/God is simply enjoying the gifts of the bounty of God’s creation. Like this yummy rhubarb cobbler:

Yep - yum!! 


PS In case you’re wondering - yes, it’s homemade. By me - go figure.  Haha!!

Day #962

August 19, 2016

According to FaceBook, World Photo Day is August 19. Well, I was a little ahead of the game when I changed my “cover photo” on FaceBook to this one:

I made the change because I was prompted by FaceBook to do so. After all, the last photo was of snow covered mountains in the distance taken at the end of our street. The one above is of a sunset at the same area, although in a slightly different direction. Of course, there is no snow, so it is more appropriate for the current season. 

Well, much to my surprise, I had several comments on the photo, which I appreciate. But the one that meant the most came from my Aunt, who said: “Great photo - your uncle would approve.” That one sentence meant more to me than you can imagine. See, my uncle was actually a professional photographer. And a very good one! He has been gone from this earth for a long while now, and I miss him. But the thought he might have approved of my rudimentary photography skills made me smile - and quite honestly, brought a tear to my eye. Thank you, dear Aunt!!


Day #961

August 18, 2016 

The word for the day - thankful. 

For all the many ways I walk with people in their lives - both the good times and the challenging times. And thankful for folks who take time to remind you that you made a difference with your presence. 


Day #960

August 17, 2016 

My congratulations and prayers are with Sardis Lutheran, the place of my first call and many wonderful memories. A new pastor has been called and this day was her ordination and installation. 

I am thankful for a new pastor to love and lead these faithful disciples/apostles, and to be loved and led by them. Thanks be to God!!


PS Thanks for the photo I snagged from the Sardis FaceBook page.

Day #959

August 16, 2016

When I saw this on FaceBook by someone named Amy Beth Gardner, I thought it was great advice not only for a new Middle Schooler, but for those of us at any age. I suppose we’re never too old to learn! So for all those who are, or soon will be, headed to school, and for all those who spend time with others at work or play, I share Amy’s advice and pray I/we heed it:
My daughter starts middle school tomorrow.  We've decorated her locker, bought new uniforms, even surprised her with a new backpack.  But tonight just before bed, we did another pre-middle school task that is far more important than the others.  I gave her a tube of toothpaste and asked her to squirt it out onto a plate.  When she finished, I calmly asked her to put all the toothpaste back in the tube.  She began exclaiming things like "But I can't!" and "It won't be like it was before!"  I quietly waited for her to finish and then said the following: "You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life.  Your words have the power of life or death.  As you go into middle school, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry.  You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others.  You are also going to have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others.  You will occasionally make the wrong choice; I can think of three times this week I have used my own words carelessly and caused harm.  Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can't take them back.  Use your words carefully, Breonna.  When others are misusing their words, guard your words.  Make the choice every morning that life-giving words will come out of your mouth.  Decide tonight that you are going to be a life-giver in middle school.  Be known for your gentleness and compassion.  Use your life to give life to a world that so desperately needs it.  You will never, ever regret choosing kindness."

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day #958

August 15, 2016

The word for today - thankful!!

Thankful for the work taking place on the walkway at the congregation.
Thankful most all the places flooded in the building have dried out nicely.
Thankful for many laughs with others over dinner.
Thankful for time to get some “extra” things done.
Thankful for so many things, people, and God’s presence.


Day #957

August 14, 2016

We said goodbye to the Family Promise guests who have been spending the week at the congregation, helping them move along to where they will be housed the next week. It’s been a great week having them – and an eventful one (see Day #952). 

What joy to participate in this way in their lives! What joy for so many to volunteer and spend time with them! 


Day #956

August 13, 2016

This seemed especially pertinent today from Daily Grace, the Women of the ELCA Blog, as we spent some time at home (also what has seemed to be a RARE treat lately):
In our increasingly busy lives, maintaining a calm, nurturing home life can be a challenge. Here are some ways to foster the experience of a happy, healthy, holy home life:
  • Place a small bowl of water on your kitchen table or counter to remember your baptism with a sign of the cross as you come and go. 
  • Build rituals and traditions that are unique to your family. 
  • Keep a Bible and devotionals handy so you can look up the Sunday Scripture texts and talk about them together. 
  • Make a routine for home life that everyone can depend on. 
  • Organize kid-friendly home workshops to teach practical skills and plan schedules.
The key to teaching children about family and home life is to model a commitment to it yourself. Graciously welcome and engage children in the tasks and privileges of being part of the family and creating a home life together. Your efforts will leave a lasting legacy.Today’s message was adapted from “Turning Hearts Toward Holy Home” by Miriam “Mim” Campbell that appeared in the June 2009 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. 

Day #955

August 12, 2016

Every day it’s just good therapy to laugh long and hard, at least once! We tend to take ourselves too seriously and forget to do this – at least I do. Well, we went to see a movie (a RARE treat for us) and in the midst of its silliness, we laughed…a LOT! Laughter is not only good medicine, but I believe a way God reminds us to “lighten up.” 

This also made me think of one of my favorite pictures of Jesus – one of him laughing (when I found this one, I thought it was really cool): 

Somehow I think Jesus laughed way more than scripture records. 


Friday, August 12, 2016

Day #954

August 11, 2016

As I told the story once again about the “flood” at the church building, I seemed to notice in the face of the listener a sadness. Maybe not sadness, but regret. Maybe not even that, but something. Something that seemed to say, I hate I missed that. 

Now I may be imagining the look, but it made me reflective. I remembered times after I moved away from home when mom or dad would tell me about “situations” at the house that they had dealt with, without me being there. I didn’t feel a part anymore of the day-to-day household happenings, and even though it was my choice to move away and I was glad to be “on my own,” I missed being in the thick of things. It's like I was a part of the family, but not really as much as I once was.

Perhaps that was it. The listener(s) weren’t “home” when the flood happened. Not that they should have been, but not being there meant they missed being a part of something that gave a particular group a bonding experience. That kind of thing happens a lot - fellowship events, worship services, committee planning meetings, mission/service opportunities, etc. These are all “things” where people gather and a bonding experience happens between those present. But what about those that don’t choose to come, or can’t? Then the thought came to me, folks that are a part of something want to feel they are really a part of it, not just on the fringes. And doesn’t really feeling a part of something cause folks to want to be more a part of that something?

With all that said, are we doing all we can to make ways available for folks to really feel a part of things? Do we do enough to invite folks to participate in all kinds of ways? Are we unintentionally causing folks to feel “left out” and thereby not needed? And if we are doing any of these, what do we need to do to make it better?


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day #953

August 10, 2016

Oh, it was good to get back to Bible Studies after three weeks of being unable to lead. As always, insights were shared, questions asked, understandings challenged, and faith grown. What more intersection of faith and life can there be?!?! I’m so thankful folks come to hear the word and discuss!! What a joy and privilege!!

And thankfulness continues for those helping with water clean-up. Towels laundered, wet items checked and cleaned, water dipped and removed, floors vacuumed - offers of help keep coming and I thank you!!!!


Day #952

August 9, 2016 

Lately I have been reading some backlogged emails regarding stewardship. I’m very glad I saved these and am gaining some new insights. One that continues to surface is the need to articulate the vision of the congregation in order for folks to respond by giving of their time, talent and treasure. It’s more than just saying “we need you and your gifts.” It’s helping folks understand why they matter and what can be accomplished through being generous. In other words, the meaning and purpose of the mission must be articulated. 

With that said, one thought keeps coming to mind - everyone needs to have meaning and purpose in their life. We all need to know there is a reason for our being here. Do you feel without purpose? Do you wonder if your life has meaning? Do you have questions about the reason you are here? Here is some good news - you are a child of God and loved by God, the Creator! Unconditionally loved!! Just because you are, you are loved by God. There is a first and foremost reason and purpose for our lives. And that is amazing - and empowering - to me! What does God have in store for me because God loves me? What does God need me to do? Hmmm

Who would know that at the end of the day another purpose for me, and several others, being in a certain place at a certain time would be so important. There was a torrential rain storm - hail, lightening, wind, and LOTS of rain. Flash flooding in many places in town, including around the church building. Suddenly water seemed to be everywhere - coming in some windows, cascading down a set of stairs from under a door, under almost all the outside doors, and even under a wall in one room. 

Yet there we were - fortunately (a God-thing) - to be in the building. Members from a meeting and guests/volunteers for Family Promise all pitched in - trashcans went under windows, towels went under doors, mops and wet vacs got going strong. We all had a clear idea of our purpose, and through working together the "damage" is mostly just wetness that can be dried, instead of how it might have been had no one been there.

And the thankfulness to who jumped in - it floods without measure from my heart, even more than the water flowed into the building. :-)
You just never know what might come next and be exactly what and where you need to be!! Amen?!?!


Day #951

August 8, 2016 

Oh it was good to be back in the saddle/office to get some things done - visits, phone calls, letters, prayers, reading, writing, etc. 

And what a joy to meet the current Family Promise guests and have the honor of my hubby and me spending the night at the church hosting them. Want an idea of what Family Promise is about? The following was a letter/mailing that recently went out as a financial appeal. It may be long, but well worth the read. The first part was written by a former guest, and concludes with Information about how you can help financially. All funds go to help homeless children and their families move into sustainable independence. Awesome program!!
Being “on the streets” as a woman with four children is not an ideal situation.Three times we lost everything in the fourteen months of being homeless. The first huge loss was the eviction. Without a place to put our belongings, I found myself frantically throwing our clothes, toys, supplies and food onto the lawn of our apartment building as our landlord literally boarded up what was our home.
My children were just getting home from school, the last day. As many children were gearing up for swimming and playing all summer mine were watching their entire home being excavated. I gave them each a little bag and told them to pick out what meant the most to them. I packed the minimal amount of clothes and few documents we would need like birth certificates. The rest we had to leave on the lawn. I told myself that I would get it all back for them someday. They may not understand it but we had each other, the rest was replaceable.
One of the hardest nights I remember - it was below zero; snow was falling. It was the heavy sort of snow with minimal wind. I stood looking out the public library’s thick windows into the copper streetlights. It was 7p.m. and I had no idea where we were going. At that moment the only things steady and predictable in my life were the snowflakes falling. My children would be dropped off at any minute from the afterschool program they were attending and I was out of ideas. I couldn’t cry; I couldn’t get mad. All I could do was hand it over to God. Thankfully, the afterschool program did help us get situated that night.
Having been through so much, it was hard for me to trust anyone after a while. Survival instincts were always on alert. The change was apparent in my children and they were learning that not everyone around them was safe. They even had a little hardness about them due to some run-ins with adults.
By time I had heard about Family Promise I was scared to move. The room we had lived in for many months was small but it was there. We had a bed at night. We had food. To risk another move away from what I had come to know at another shelter was fearful. I have one son who, at the time, needed medication due to all of the other issues we faced. It was hard to get him the help he needed. Would this place called Family Promise understand him? What if they kicked us out as well? We had been kicked out so many times from different places we stayed at that it was an actual fear.
The single most compelling thing Family Promise did was restore my trust in humanity.
What I saw through their actions amazed me. The extended hands, the hugs, encouraging words, the late night talks, the early morning coffee at different churches. The love through action is what gained my hope in a world where too often we find our differences and reasons to argue. There are people within our community who want to make a difference.
In three months it will be a year since we moved into our very first house. It is more beautiful than I could have imagined. My children all have their own rooms. I have my own room. We have a back yard and the children can play with their friends safely outside. There are so many things I am thankful for. I had no idea so many times what lie ahead of our family. It was that one step into Family Promise that changed the course of our entire lives.
Our family remembers the love shown and the celebration of having a home again. It’s with deepest gratitude I thank you for all your work. Without Family Promise and the volunteers we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Robin and Four Children
What does $25 buy YOU? A single dinner out, only one tank of gas, a week’s worth of lattes. Those are typical $25 purchases many of us make. $25 can serve a child for a whole day in Family Promise.
Join us today by investing in the future of Great Falls families and the hope we can offer their children whose lives are challenged by homelessness.
We cannot do this without you. Families in crisis cannot do it without us. Together, we can empower families to find a home, a livelihood, and a chance to build a better future!
For more information or to make a donation: Family Promise of Great Falls, PO. Box 455, Great Falls, MT 59403 - also on FaceBook at Family Promise of Great Falls
We need your help NOW! The barrier between serving more children and families in crisis is a financial one and it’s a challenge you can help solve TODAY through a charitable donation. We can, we will, and we MUST sustain our capacity to serve Great Falls families who need our support. Your generosity will ensure Family Promise can continue to help homeless families achieve their sustainable independence. Thank you in advance for your generosity!


Day #950

August 7, 2016 

Early morning worship included a great discussion on abundance versus scarcity, especially the fear that worrying over scarcity brings, thereby closing the doors to abundant relationship. I'm thankful for those who worship at that early morning hour and share their thoughts - even my husband who sometimes embarrasses me with his somewhat brutal honesty. :-)

Then at later worship, we said goodbye to a wonderful colleague. 

Logan has been the organist/pianist for a little more than two years. He welcomed me when I came, has been supportive and encouraging, and is a consummate professional. He’s set the bar high with his gift/talent for playing and with his team spirit. He will be greatly missed!! God be with you ’til we meet again. (Thank you for the photo, Stacey!!)


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Day #949

August 6, 2016

From Andrew Garnett in the devotion, d365:
There are many things in life that are important — food, shelter, family, faith, friendships, health, personal fulfillment, and more. Even fun is an important part of life; without a little fun, we quickly grow tired of life. 
We should have some fun every day - at least try to find some joy in every day. But we should also keep in mind there is a need for balance - that fun may not be the most important thing in life. We need to stay grounded, remembering what IS most important. 

Therefore, I found his prayer also worth sharing: 
God, there are many good and important things in my life; but help me remember today what is most important. Help me remember where my treasure and my heart should be. Amen.

Day #948

August 5, 2016 

And so the week ends. And the word for the day - again - is thankful!! For visits, for time to spend with friends, and for a congregation who understands!


Day #947

August 4, 2016 

Thankful for a day of visiting the sites in Big Sky Country!! What a beautiful place this is in so many ways. (The others took the pictures - bummer and shame on me!!)


Day #946

August 3, 2016 

When I first met my friend who is visiting, she was an intern in seminary, and the thought of me becoming a pastor wasn’t even on my radar. Decades later, we have now become colleagues, as well as friends. This means we have added a whole new dimension to our friendship. Talking “shop” has been wonderful. 

God does work in mysterious ways!


Day #945

August 2, 2016 

While doing some reading, I came across the following quote: 
When people think of leaders, the top four characteristics identified by at least 60 percent or more of those surveyed are honesty (85 percent); forward looking (70 percent); inspiration (69 percent); and competency (64 percent). 
What do you think of when you hear the word leader? What characteristics come to mind? Also, do you consider yourself a leader? Others may consider you to be one, so what do they see in you? 

Makes one stop and think, doesn't it?!?!


Day #944

August 1, 2016 

As the page of the calendar turned, we welcomed friends to town - a 30-year friend and her family, which now includes a husband and 16 year old. How has so much time passed? Where did it go? 

Oh well, we have some time this week to enjoy catching up and visiting the sites. Looking forward to some fun!


Day #943

July 31, 2016 

One word - and the evening was filled with fun, and memories. Alabama!!!

Yes, we enjoyed an evening listening, singing and generally having fun at a great concert. You’ve still got it, Alabama!! 

And we are so glad we were there to benefit from you sharing it!!