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!