Monday, October 31, 2016

Day #1031

October 27, 2016

In the midst of one of the crazy busiest of days, there is always time to take a moment and smile at this picture of our Godson and be thankful for him and his family in our lives!

Must say, he is a handsome young man, growing up fast!! Of course, I may be just a tad prejudice. ;-)


Day #1030

October 26, 2016

In getting ready for Reformation Sunday, the conversation in Bible Study came around to grace: God’s undeserved, unearned, unending love. I’m reminded that when I was introduced to God’s grace was when everything finally clicked for me. The understanding that I am already loved by God, therefore I can be free to live, changed my life. 

Oh that we, the church, would constantly be reforming so that the message from God can be lived and shared more freely and widely! 


Day #1029

October 25, 2016 

A good day spent with colleagues in Continuing Education, learning about a fresh way to look at the Gospel of Matthew. A stretching, thinking, listening, discerning day. I am thankful for the opportunity!! 

Then there was an email that came that warmed my heart. It’s difficult for adults to define what love means, without doubt. But these were 4-8 year old’s answers when they were asked to describe “what love means?” Here are some of the examples: 
'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.’ Rebecca- age 8 
'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’ Billy - age 4 
'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs.’ Chrissy - age 6 
'Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’ Danny - age 8 
'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.’ Bobby - age 7
'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.‘ Nikka - age 6 
'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.’ Cindy - age 8 
'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.’ Jessica - age 8 
The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry'
I would venture to say they got this, wouldn't you?!


Day #1028

October 24, 2016

What a great smile to see first thing in the morning:

Good morning, Godson!! Thank you for making my day!!


Day #1027

October 23, 2016

The scripture was about comparing ourselves to others - and Jesus’ reprimand about doing so. Yet, it is very difficult for us humans - well, me - to keep from doing. Sometimes it’s a comparison that I’m not as good as another. Sometimes it’s a comparison that I may be better. (I’m just being honest here!)

How ironic on the day we hear that parable from Jesus, our bishop visits the worship service! Surprised, I wondered if I was being “checked up” on. Had she come because she has heard something about our services? Was it something bad? Could it have been something good? 

Goodness, why was I unnerved? Can’t the bishop worship anywhere she chooses, just because? Of course?! 

Oh Jesus, will I ever learn?


Day #1026

October 22, 2016

Would you consider participating in our Women’s Retreat? That invitation came months ago and seemed like a great idea. Yet, as the day grew closer I wondered if I had made the right decision. Who knew how busy the month of October would turn out to be? But I prepared to talk about Adam and Eve and the beginning.

And it turned out I am glad I said yes. There are many strong women in scripture and we can learn much from them. What a fun way the retreat turned out to be in doing so. Thank you, ladies, for all the planning and creativity.


Day #1025

October 21, 2016 

I should not have been surprised this day came. On day #1025, it seemed nothing struck me as an intersection of faith and life. Have I completely run out of ideas? Has the well run dry?

But then, as I thought long and hard, I remembered seeing God in the midst of a collaborative meeting, helping spur creativity and passion. I remembered seeing God in the midst of a conversation with someone. I remembered seeing God as we stopped to check on someone broken down. I remembered seeing God in the smile on my husband’s face as we watched a young man try to wrestle his big dog into the kennel in his car - what fun memories that conjured up of the great dogs of our past: Zach, Sam and Daisy. 

Are any of these big things? Maybe not, but reminders (thankfully) that God IS at work in the world and in my corner of it. I just need to keep my eyes open. 

Thank you, God, for daily reminding me of ways to be thankful for seeing you.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Day #1024

October 20, 2016

The word for the day - thankful! In the midst of the day, simply thankful!


Day #1023

October 19, 2016 

I am fortunate that in what I do I am often invited to be a part of some very holy conversations. The invitation to walk with folks during very difficult times, to hear their struggles - and their victories - is humbling and awesome (a word I don’t use lightly in this context). 

During one of those types of conversations, I was blessed to be reminded that my function is really to be a conduit for God’s light to shine in the world, because I am not the source. It was a reminder made in a way that affirmed me, yet also caused me to pause and pray - please God, let that be so!!


Day #1022

October 18, 2016 

In March/April, an invitation was made to folks in the congregation. The invitation was to pray for someone individually each day for six months. So in mid-April, the names of folks who accepted the invitation were placed into a basket and drawn out randomly to be given the name of someone else who had also accepted the invitation. The idea was to have sort of a prayer "partner", except the “fun” was to not know who was praying for you. 

Well, the six months have gone by and the prayer combinations have been revealed. What joy to be the conduit to make the connections known, and to give most folks a new person to pray for daily for the next three months. 

It is such a comfort to know there are folks praying for me (I say folks that because I know more than just the one person prays for me - thank you!!). Some days that is really what gets me through!

That, and colleagues who I can learn with, discuss with, study with, laugh with, celebrate with, lament with, and be comfortable with. Thank you to them, as well!!!!


Day #1021

October 17, 2016

Life is not always easy. Let's be honest, some days there seem to be a multitude of ups and downs, highs and lows. Good news and bad news come almost together, or in a matter of minutes. And sometimes the bad news is really, really bad!

What do we do in the midst of those times, those days? How can we hold on when bad news just keeps coming? We simply keep praying and trusting. Jesus spoke of that in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verse 1: Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart. (NET)

God is always ready and willing to hear our prayers. God is always present with us. Simply, God is always. Thanks be to God for that - and for the hope God brings!


Monday, October 17, 2016

Day #1020

October 16, 2016

What a fun day! Our congregation was host to a Family Promise of Great Falls event called a Music Extravaganza. Choirs and music leadership from six congregations shared their talent and gifts with a good crowd in celebration of the beginning of Family Promise Week. Then, at the end, all voices combined for a joyful finale. Here is what that looked like:

What a joyful way to commemorate such an important ministry. So far, in just under two years, dozens of families have been helped to get into their own homes and celebrate a transformation of their lives. Truly God at work through God’s people coming together. Thanks be to God!!!


Day #1019

October 15, 2016

This from the Daily Grace devotion from the Women of the ELCA:
When we call on God to help us get rid of our enemies, God may do that by transforming those enemies into friends. This message is an excerpt from “Expanding Our Definitions” by Julie A. Kanarr from the November 2, 2014, blog of the Women of the ELCA. 
Does our prayer include ridding us of enemies - fear, anger, hurt, pain, illness, despair, faithlessness, distrust, betrayal, etc. I admit my prayers often include such as these. Does God transform these enemies into “friends?” Maybe not so much friends, but often they are ways of learning and growth. 

Prayer is such an odd thing. Yes, God is willing and ready to hear our prayers at any time about any thing, yet the prayer itself is often the transforming factor for me! Often the situation, or another, isn’t changed, but I am. Trusting that God knows, and gives, what is best and good, now that can be the challenge.

Know that I am praying for you. And if I haven't said so lately, thank you for your visit here!


Day #1018

October 14, 2016

Spent the day at Bishop’s Convocation hearing and talking about the church’s sustainability. An interesting word, if I say so myself, regarding God’s church. Is God’s church sustainable? My answer is an unequivocal YES. However, the "church" just may look very different from what many have been used to the last 500 or so years. After all, the church is the people - those who gather, worship, and depart to serve. And don’t people change?!?!? All the time!!

So how do we discern what God is calling the church to be in the next decade and beyond? That seems to be the million dollar question, and one we need to continue discussing, inviting as much conversation with as many as possible. 

God has a plan, I firmly believe, and will reveal it as we go with God. Our task is to continue telling the story, praying and trusting.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Day #1017

October 13, 2016 

Sometimes the “intersection” moment comes early in the day. A grandfather called looking for what might be available for a grandchild coming to the area. It might not be that we have a lot to offer, but the grandfather seemed to hear something that resonated. “I didn’t have any idea what I might find, but I had to call and see,” he said. 

Another one of those, "we were just waiting to meet one another" moments (see Day #1015)? Could be.


Day #1016

October 12, 2016 

This from Megan McDermott in the devotion, d365: 
Sometimes the teacher stays with us more than the subject. I'll always remember my third grade teacher and the way she comforted me when I was upset about my grandmother being sick. But I don't remember specifically what I learned in third grade. I can't remember all the finer points of AP World History in high school, but I do remember feeling encouraged by my teacher when I shared my anxiety about college. With God, the idea that the teacher's presence can be more important than the lessons is even more true. God's instructions should help us become better, kinder people – but getting better is not, ultimately, the point. Being a Christian is not about meeting certain standards or getting it right. It is about coming to know God, our friend, our maker, and our great love.
This really spoke to me, especially as I consider Confirmation Class, and all the ways we “connect” with one another. It’s more the feeling of being loved and cared for, not only by God, but by one another, that resonates and “sticks.” 

May you feel God’s loving presence with you, today and always.


Day #1015

October 11, 2016 

I met someone today. That isn’t especially rare. I meet someone new almost every day. But this someone and I have been trying to arrange a face-to-face meeting for a while, and when it finally happened, their response was, “We were just waiting to meet one another!” 

That seems such an appropriate response, because what our hope is that we can do some work together to further God’s kingdom. Aren’t we all just waiting to meet someone in order to do that?!?!


Day #1014

October 10, 2016

Borrowed an idea from Rev. Dr. David Lose and invited folks at the end of the sermon Sunday to think about responding to “How are you?” with “I’m grateful.” It was a joy to ask each person as they left, “How are you?” and often hear them respond, “I’m grateful.” 

Someone shared a cute moment from their early Monday when they were asked, “How are you?” and they replied, as usual, “Fine.” Then they followed with, wait, I’m supposed to respond, I’m grateful. They said that someone else was getting ready to ask them how they were and the person relaying their story to me said, great, I get a second chance. 

Isn’t that what being grateful is all about!?! Realizing God gives us second (and third, fourth, etc) chances. And for that I am surely grateful!!


Day #1013

October 9, 2016 

Seeing the pictures of all the devastation from Hurricane Matthew is heartbreaking. The lives lost in Haiti and the US, and the homes damaged/destroyed by water and flooding, breaks my heart. There are many ways to help ( and Lutheran Disaster Response are two), and prayers are certainly with everyone affected!

Meanwhile, here, there was the Blessing of the Animals. What a comfort pets can be - they are truly family. And what a joy to bless them and their owners/caretakers (wish I had pictures!). Each pet received this, however. 

What a fun time! 


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Day #1012

October 8, 2016 

The word for the day - soup. One of my favorite things to do is make a big pot of homemade vegetable-beef soup for the fall/winter. And today was the day to do just that. 

The house smells so good, the soup tastes yummy (if I say so myself - haha) and the freezer is full. Cold weather is coming, but we’ll enjoy some soup in the midst of it. Thanks be to God!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Day #1011

October 7, 2016 

What an afternoon!!! Somehow while shopping today, I lost my billfold. In it, of course were my driver’s license, credit cards, etc. I searched and searched, going over every inch of the store where I last remembered having it. As panic set in, my patient husband began making calls to cancel all the cards (what a pain!!) and I took care of the necessary "stuff" with the bank. All the time, I lamented, shed a few tears, got angry, and berated myself - the usual emotions when you have done something careless. How could this have happened?!?!

Four hours later, after many phone calls, another trip to the store to see if, by chance, the lost had been found and returned, and me pretty much giving up, my husband’s phone rang. Thinking that finding the billfold was a lost cause, I didn’t pay much attention until I heard him say, “You have it?” It seems a customer going into a store three down from where I had been earlier had found the billfold in the parking lot and took it into a store I had not even come near. The employees there went through it and found my husband’s number to call in case of emergency. We rushed over, certain most things were gone. But no, only the cash was missing - $1.00 (yes, you read that right - one measly dollar). And there in the correct spots were my driver’s license, credit cards, etc. 

I cannot express how thankful and relieved I am!! And how grateful I am for the kindness and honesty of someone I will never know. Frankly I am still a little miffed at the dishonesty of another who must have found it and then thrown it down, since it means all the credit cards will still be replaced because we had already cancelled them. However, it could have been so much worse. 

The moral of the story: be mindful of your belongings and pay attention to what you are doing. But more important, remember there are still honest people who do the right thing. Thank you to whoever you are for returning what was lost!!! I am forever grateful!


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Day #1010

October 6, 2016

As I mentioned just recently (Day #1007), snowy days are coming. Here’s an indication from just this morning:

For today, however, first there was snow…and then minutes later there wasn’t. Glad I have a picture to “prove” it. 


Day #1009

October 5, 2016 

Instead of a "Simon says", here is a Simon does:

His mom wrote: “Simon won First Prize in the unusual produce category with “caterpee” from Pokemon as his inspiration.”

How awesome is his creativity?! Just love him!


Day #1008

October 4, 2016 

These words were written by Father Richard Rohr from his daily meditation thoughts. They gave me pause and much to ponder: “Happiness is an inside job. When we expect to find happiness outside of ourselves, we are always disappointed.”

From where does true happiness come? Is there a difference between happiness and joy? Should we expect to always "be happy?" Certainly lots to think about.


Day #1007

October 3, 2016 

There are many days here that are mostly sunny and bright. In fact, there are VERY many days like that. So when there is a rainy, cloudy day, it is a rare, but nice, thing. 

Yet, I am reminded it is also a sign of things to come - wetter, snowy days are on the way. Winter is coming. But then, the earth is also replenished. Thanks be to God.


Day #1006

October 2, 2016

As a way to celebrate the unity of the church in Word, Holy Meal and Service, six congregations traded pastors and worshipped using the same liturgy and music. It was a delightful way to show solidarity for something called God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday. 

Then, those six congregations joined with several others to serve the community and the world through participating in the CROP Walk. Here is link to learn more: CROP Hunger Walk. True, CROP is just one way to work toward "ending hunger one step at a time", but what a great way to join with others to serve and hopefully make a difference.


Day #1005

October 1, 2016 

What do you do on a rainy afternoon? Put signs out along the trail for the annual CROP Walk, of course. The work will be worth it, but getting soaking wet while the weather does a change from sunny and 75 degrees to windy, raining and a LOT cooler, all within a few minutes…. Well, I don’t mean to complain, but there are more exciting things to do. 

Yet, I must remember that those who have no choice but to walk to get food and water EVERY DAY deserve some assistance. Seems this is the least I can do.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Day #1004

September 30, 2016 

What an adventure enjoying some of God’s amazing creatures. 

And another beautiful sunset.