Sunday, July 23, 2017

Day #1300

July 23, 2017 

The word for the day - thankful. For worship. For being with folks who share about their week and bring friends. For one of the Synod staff, even as we gathered to say good-bye as they retire.  And, for a little time to put my feet up - and blog. 

I’m thankful for what I do, where I do it, and with the folks I get to do it with! I’m actually very thankful for all my almost 9 years doing what I do!


Day #1299

July 22, 2017 

Hubby and I spent the afternoon at the air show - featuring the Thunderbirds!!

I couldn’t help but quote the movie line - “I feel the need, the need for speed!!” - as they took to the skies to perform their daring maneuvers. Here’s one shot of what they do best. Amazing!

What a great afternoon celebrating 70 years of the Air Force. Thank you so very much for your service. And the show!


Day #1298

July 21, 2017

Soon, in what almost seems like the snap of a finger, the week at camp is over. Everyone goes home and the camp returns to the quiet, reflective space. Until it begins again on Sunday afternoon. What an amazing place - and an amazing week. 

On this last day a couple of things:
  • First was the closing worship. It struck me that at the beginning of each worship service, those leading would shout out in their most welcoming and excited voices - WELCOME TO WORSHIP! And the rest of us would respond with cheers and clapping. The thought came to me: how cool it would be if every worship service at home would begin this way. Hmmm.
  • Second, I couldn’t help but be struck by one young camper who was the most challenging one during the week. Everyone was affected in some way by this camper’s refusal to participate, settle down, follow the rules, some kind of behavior challenge. Well, as we were waiting for everyone to get ready to leave, I sat down next to the young one and said "I hope you have a good rest of the summer." The response both surprised and saddened me. "I have three more weeks of camps to go to." Three!?!?, I said. Yep - this one and that one and the next. Oh my word, I thought, no wonder this young one struggles to stay “in line,” since they have possibly spent their summer, or a large part of it, moving from one camp to another, meeting all sorts of new people and learning new authority figures. Wow! So in thinking of the parable for this week (Matthew 13:24-30) where Jesus says to let the weeds and wheat grow together, I had to wonder how I could have differently nurtured "seed" that I assumed was weed, because it just might have actually been wheat. Good lesson!

Day #1297

July 20, 2017

Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation on this day spoke strongly to me. Here’s what he has to say:
Remember, it’s God in you that loves God. You, on your own, don’t really know how to love God. It’s Christ in you that recognizes Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit, whose temple you are (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), that responds to the Holy Spirit. Like recognizes like. That’s why all true cognition is really recognition (“re-cognition” or knowing something again). Only so far as you have surrendered to Christ and allowed the Christ in you to come to fullness can you love Christ. It’s Christ in you that recognizes and loves Christ. 
Wow! That’s powerful and a great reminder it’s not possible for me to just will myself to love Christ. 

It’s almost as powerful as watching the camp counselors act out the Passion. While it’s the third time I’ve seen them do this, this time I was down front and right beside the "aisle" where the actors go up and back from the “stage.” So when Jesus went by carrying the cross with the soldiers pushing him along, chills ran down my spine. It was very powerful to see the face of the actor portray just a portion of the angst the human Jesus endured. I surely will not soon forget the experience! Thank you, counselors, for making this even more real for me and the campers/volunteers.


Day #1296

July 19, 2017 

So hubby and I took a little “break” and went into town on a couple of errands. While there, we ran into folks from the congregation, the family of folks from the congregation, and a woman who knows someone in the congregation and asked us to say hello. While I know it’s not a hugely populated state, we ARE about four hours from home. Goodness, it’s a small world. But then it’s always fun to see folks we know, and make new friends, too. 


Day #1295

July 18, 2017 

Five of the six youth from our congregation participated in leading one of the worship services during the week. (The one who did not was on an off-site adventure - they were not slacking. Promise! Haha)

While this happened at various times during the week, I'm posting them all in their various roles on just one day (forgive me for putting them all together, but it's a perk of catching up on posting once I’m home). 

It certainly makes a pastor very proud - and excited and hopeful - for their participation back home. 

And then there was this from the flower garden of some folks back in NC that was posted on FaceBook. 

The lily is named “My Friend Anna.” It’s certainly a beautiful flower. And, personally, I just love the name. ;-)


Day #1294

July 17, 2017 

The Jesus descriptor for this Monday? Lavish. 

Continuing with the theme from the gospel reading for Sunday, which was the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-9), the thought is that the one who casts the seed is almost careless in their task, not really considering the soil where the seed lands. Therefore, it occurs to me how lavish Jesus is in casting love and grace - to all! There seems to be no waiting for the soil of our heart to be “good soil,” but Jesus casts the seed and trusts the Holy Spirit to ready the soil when the time is right. It certainly took a few years for the soil of my heart to be ready to receive the seed of grace - and the Holy Spirit is still working in me to ready the soil of my heart even more. For that, I am thankful!!!! 

Perhaps lavish is also the right word for day #2 as volunteer pastor. The lavish/abundant laughter of children playing, and learning, and participating in making prayer bottles rings through the air. Oh, the joys of glitter and games!


Day #1293

July 16, 2017

And so begins another week of being a volunteer pastor at the Bible Camp. 

It’s off to a busy start, but this picture shows the beauty, and peacefulness, of the place where it will all take place.

So looking forward to this week with youth and young adults! It’s always energizing and renewing - and exhausting. :-)


Day #1292

July 15, 2017 

A very sad day. Perhaps the man most responsible for helping me develop as a “customer service” employee died today. As a man who could be bigger than life, tough as nails, with a heart as big as the state where I live, very financially savvy, and who taught me so much about how to make others feel welcome, he will always hold a place in my heart that today seems horribly empty. 

This man’s path and mine crossed in a way that I had no idea would make the impact it did on May 25, 1980. He and his family and I joined the same congregation on the same day. We would serve together on committees, work together in the insurance agency he began with another dear man who died many years ago, and he helped my husband and me financially in ways that we can never sufficiently express our thanks.

It goes without saying that Ron will be missed by many - his life intersected with probably thousands. I’m honored my life, and my husband’s, are two of those. I am praying for his family, his friends, his congregation (the people with whom he deeply loved and served faithfully), his employees and his clients. 

Well done, good and faithful servant. You lived your dash to the fullest! And you will be missed!!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day #1291

July 14, 2017

What a find! Right here in a local store...

Duke’s mayonnaise! 

It’s what my grandma and my mom used in all those recipes that I now make to remind me of growing up and comfort. I’m VERY excited!!! And yes, I bought several jars just in case they don’t restock. Can never be too careful!

Isn't it amazing how something we see, or smell, or taste can illicit such deep emotions? Even mayonnaise. :-)


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Day #1290

July 13, 2017 

At the second monthly gathering of just ladies for “Let’s Do Lunch,” fourteen of us laughed, chatted, ate really good food, and enjoyed a little over an hour of a very fun time! 

Why do I never seem to remember to take pictures?! Maybe because I just know the good memories will stay in my heart, even without them. But hopefully next time I will get us on camera, too. 


Day #1289

July 12, 2017 

The sign says it all

The decorations hint at the theme

And the fun and learning at the beginning of the day just a taste of how the day would go.  

What a great day!!!!


Day #1288

July 11, 2017 

Sarah Briggs Amoth has this to say in the “think” portion of the devotion “d365” for this date:
The Bible makes many references to an “evil one.” We often personify this as a devil character, red and wielding a pitchfork. Step back for a second, and imagine: what if the “evil one” referenced isn’t a devil, but rather all the things that get in the way of cultivating our relationship with God, everything that prevents that relationship from taking root. That could be our own tendency to stick God in a box. If we categorize God in the way we categorize our lives, we miss out on the rich and abundant life God wants with us. God is in all things and wants us to discover that so our lives will be fuller. When we do finally understand that God is in all, we can walk throughout life in step with God. Talking to God becomes natural, more thoughtful, and enduring. Feeling God’s presence – communion with God – becomes the regular. We grow in the light of God because we experience God in new, whole ways.
“All the things that get in the way” made me stop and think. I suppose "I" may be the biggest obstacle - my own agenda, own desires, own petty grievances, own ego. "I" can certainly make for a pretty huge boulder. Hmmm… 


Day #1287

July 10, 2017

This might be the very essence of the mystery of Jesus, for this day’s descriptor is Grace. 

Jesus, the One who loves without measure, without expectation, and without end, IS the embodiment of grace, and is grace. 

And, in case that isn’t sufficient mystery, Jesus is grace, and gives grace, even when we don’t deserve it, don’t want it, or don’t receive it. Who would do that?! The answer…Jesus!


Day #1286

July 9, 2017 

The day began with reading the following in the “think” portion of the devotion d365 by Jeremy Wilhelmi:
Christian faith is hard. We don’t always get it right. We fail. We sin. We deny. And sometimes we quit. But the way of Jesus is a struggle worth enduring! Caring about the things God cares about doesn’t come with a promise of a life full of rainbows and lollipops. Faith involves struggle; without the struggle, there wouldn’t be a need for faith. The hard parts of following Jesus, the ones we struggle with most, are what make our faith meaningful and our lives purposeful each day. But always remember – through every struggle, God is with you! And when you fall, our God will be there to raise you up.
He has some sobering thoughts. Yet, there is ALWAYS the promise that God is with us, no matter what. 

After a very warm worship service, several of us braved even more heat and had a fun time at the baseball game. There was opportunity for a three-person selfie with the mascot, Orbit.

And for Orbit to sign a ball for one of our folks. 

And lots more, sadly without pictures. :-(

So while the game did not go in the favor of the home team, it was still fun to be together. 


Day #1285

July 8, 2017 

Another visit did not really help much for our making a decision. 

Could it be the mostly alert puppy, or one of his sleeping brothers? 

Well, we have one more week and a decision must be made! Yikes!


Day #1284

July 7, 2017 

Even in the heat, it is hard to dampen the joy of a wedding. How nice to just be a witness to this important day. 

Congratulations to Tim and Kathy!! May God bless you in your lives together. 


Day #1283

July 6, 2017 

This date will now be known as the night of an earthquake. About 12:30 am, an area about 90 miles away experienced an earthquake. The shaking and noise were felt/heard here, and beyond, along with aftershocks. It was rather surreal. I did not feel any shaking, but I did hear the noise. In the middle of the night, I had no idea what it was, until the next morning when, yes, this happened:

On Facebook were lots of "witness" accounts, so when I read this on the “Daily Grace” blog of the Women of the ELCA, I thought it appropriate to share;
I know I am called to be an evangelist, but I wonder what to say. It can feel like I have to have the doctrine down, and say it just so, lest I get it wrong. Then I remember Jesus’ description: “you will be my witnesses.” In order to evangelize, I give witness. Somehow that seems less daunting. I know what it’s like to rave about a recipe, to tell the story of a family adventure or recommend a product or service that has worked well for me [or, I'm thinking, tell about the earthquake]. This is giving witness to what I have seen and known, to my experience, to what I find helpful. Perhaps this is how to evangelize rather than worrying about getting the doctrine down pat. Perhaps my job is to tell the story of God’s love in my life, to give witness to the way my life is better because of God. This message is adapted from “Cloud of Witnesses” written by Catherine Malotky in the May 2011 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine.
Why isn’t telling about Jesus as easy as telling about the earthquake, or the movie, or the book, or the new restaurant? I ask myself this question often. Hmmm…


Day #1282

July 5, 2017 

“We’re having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.” OK, maybe not tropical - there’s very little humidity and no ocean - but it’s certainly hot, hot, hot! Come on, cool breeze! Oh, and some gentle rain would be appreciated, too!!


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Day #1281

July 4, 2017 

On this 4th of July, as we celebrate America’s independence, and give thanks for all those who give their lives to help protect freedom, there was this I saw on FaceBook that reminds me of the depth of another perspective: 

Happy 4th of July. And thanks be to God!


Day #1280

July 3, 2017 

The word for the day about Jesus - Compassionate. Matthew 9, verse 36, says: “When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (New English Translation). 

Compassion, according to is: a deep feeling of sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. 

Who more appropriate than the Great Physician to portray compassion?! 


Day #1279

July 2, 2017

How can one not see God at work on a Sunday with folks helping out, celebrations being enjoyed, and the joy of worship?! A great day!!!


Day #1278

July 1, 2017 

Ahh…the lazy days of summer are meant to have things slowed down a little, right?! Well, certainly took advantage of that this day!!! 


Day #1277

June 30, 2017

This day marks the final one for Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (LTSG). Tomorrow it becomes United Lutheran Seminary, as LTSG merges with Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Things will never be quite the same as when I was fortunate enough to be educated there from 2004-2008. I learned so much, met some wonderful people, made lifelong friends (like our Godson’s mom - and dad), and will be forever grateful for how my heart and mind were stretched.

One of my colleagues, Andrew, posted the following on FaceBook:
Today is the last day of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg my alma mater, class of 2010. It is merging to become United Lutheran Seminary. I'll be honest; I'm not thrilled with the new name, such is life. However after speaking with Martin and Angela this past week I am excited for its future. I am excited enrollment is up. I am excited that United can offer full tuition scholarships to students and reduce student debt. I am excited that the seminary is on good financial ground and will serve its students better through good use of technology and stewardship of people and resources. I am excited that they will be ready to help form leaders for tomorrow's church. So on the whole I won't gripe about the name anymore, but give thanks that God has allowed my old school to be reborn into something good.
It’s another way of looking at the upcoming change. A hopeful way. And while there are many things that cause concern for the future, I pray for the new seminary and those who will be fortunate enough themselves to go through the process of education there. 


Day #1276

June 29, 2017

Being not sure where this originated, I cannot give credit where it is due, but it’s such a good reminder that I had to share: 
Calling a sinner who goes to church a hypocrite is like criticizing a sick man who goes to the doctor.
Often I have heard "nothing but hypocrites in church" as an excuse to avoid it all cost. I disagree. I find not so much hypocrites, but those who are trying to follow Jesus, learn his teachings, trust in his promises and grow. And I’m thankful for each one!!!


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Day #1275

June 28, 2017 

One never knows when the phone rings who might be on the other line and what their request might be. Sometimes the request is beyond the imagination of possibility. Yet, the faith in asking, along with the words, “I would rather try than not” is heartwarming. Who knows how the “church” might respond, they said. Well, true, but don’t get your hopes up, I tried to say. I won’t, but I’ll pray, they replied. With that degree of trust, it will be interesting to witness how this turns out!


Day #1274

June 27, 2017 

Today I’m thankful for colleagues who gather weekly to study, challenge each other, listen to each other and encourage each other. It isn’t the first time, I don’t think, that I have said how much colleagues can be life-savers, and probably not the last, because I’m grateful for all those who share this calling. It’s good to have others who understand!!!


Day #1273

June 26, 2017 

The descriptor for Jesus today - challenger. He challenges us in our comfort zones. He challenges us in our thoughts of what we think we need to be happy or content or joy-filled. He challenges us to think of others rather than just ourselves. He challenges us to love and serve our neighbor. He challenges us to think out of the box. He challenges us to trust, even when things are difficult and don’t go how we hope. 

Yes, in the midst of loving us, he also challenges us, giving deeper understanding to the old saying that, “Sometimes with God we are comforted in our affliction and sometimes afflicted in our comfort.” 


Day #1272

June 25, 2017 

What a great day!!! A worship service with a baptism, another worship service, lunch with several youth, and another worship service. What else could one ask for? Thanks be to God!!!


Day #1271

June 24, 2017

Oh my, we’re looking at puppies again. Are we really doing this? Which one should we pick? But, are we really certain we want to be “parents” again? 

Stay tuned. I’m sure there will be more to this story! 


Day #1270

June 23, 2017

We witnessed the kindest action today - one that warmed my heart, but I have to admit, surprised me. 

We were in a place eating a quick lunch when at one of the nearby tables, an older gentleman spilled his drink. As he got up to get a couple of papertowels, a young gentleman at another table also got up. I watched, surprised, as he grabbed a handful of towels, got down on his knees, and mopped up the spill. He was not an employee. He was not with the couple where the spill occurred, nor did he know them. He asked no questions and made no comments, just pitched in and helped.

As the older couple thanked him profusely, I wanted to tell him how he had affected my day for the better, and made a lasting impression on me, but thinking I might embarrass him, I sadly let the moment pass. But I thank this young man (probably late teens) for being kind, I thank him for being a servant, and I thank him that I witnessed his action. Well done!!!


Day #1269

June 22, 2017 

Here we are, Great Aunt and Great Uncle again. Welcome to the world, precious baby girl!!! 

Can’t wait to meet you in person!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day #1268

June 21, 2017 

Welcome Summer! It’s your first full day for the year and you are outdoing yourself – sunny, not too hot, slight breeze…gorgeous. 

So what does this summer hold? Vacation? Relaxation? Visitors? Cookouts, campfires, s’mores? Whatever is planned, whatever spontaneous gatherings summer sends our way, I am thankful it is here! But then, there are reasons to be thankful for all the seasons God provides!


Day #1267

June 20, 2017 

On what would have been my Mother’s 88th birthday, and two days before the 10th anniversary of her death-day, I couldn’t help but think of her as I took “store bought” snacks to a working group. It was something my mother would have never settled for and I can imagine her shaking her finger at me for doing so! 

Mom had a gift for hospitality when it came to feeding others, especially those working. One of my favorite remembrances of such was a time workers from the city were replacing some water pipes on her street. When she realized they were in front of her house, she quickly baked biscuits, put some ham in them, and took them out for their “break.” Let me tell you, after that, city workers loved working on mom's street and there seemed to be more accomplished near her house than any other in the neighborhood. 

Well, I’m sorry, mom, but that kind of hospitality just doesn’t seem to be one of the genes I inherited from you. Oh, mom, I sure do love and miss you!


Day #1266

June 19, 2017 

The descriptive word today for Jesus’ mysteriousness is Teacher. Jesus gathered his disciples, taught them, and then sent them out. It’s a good model for all who teach – explain, model, watch and send. 

It isn’t always easy to teach. Being creative in that process is something I admire in others. And Jesus was certainly creative – using parables, miracles, prayer, etc. And he was patient. Thankfully. Because sometimes it takes us students a long time to “get it.” :-)


Day #1265

June 18, 2017

Happy Father’s Day!

As I read over and over about someone celebrating that they have the “best” father, I couldn’t help but have empathy for those who had a somewhat less than stellar, shall we say, experience with their father. It’s something I understand. I also empathize for those who mourn their father’s presence, whether due to death or some other reason. Therefore, I give thanks for the men in my life who have been like fathers. Thank you for showing me there is a loving way!


Day #1264

June 17, 2017 

A beautiful spring day, a community celebration that included more teaching about Native American traditions, and a walk along the river. 



Day #1263

June 16, 2017

Some days are just amazing – joy-filled, celebratory, and welcoming! A wonderful day for a wedding. Congratulations to the “new” family: 

Also, a wonderful day to welcome the “new” family into God’s family through baptism. This picture I will always cherish as I make the sign of the cross and one of the newly baptized hears “Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” 

Thanks be to God for a fantastic day!!