Saturday, July 29, 2017

Day #1305

July 28, 2017

Some days are just difficult - without any explanation as to why. Maybe it’s struggling to be gracious when things don’t go my way. Maybe it’s low energy. Maybe it’s trying to be cautious about what I’m eating in order to try eliminating some extra pounds. Maybe it’s just getting up on the wrong side of the bed. Whatever the cause, I’m grateful for an understanding husband and understanding friends. 

But then there was the text that may have explained the whole “off” day. A dear friend’s health is precarious. I believe that “connection” to what was happening has been there even though I didn’t know it until late in the day. It sure explains that feeling of overall sadness!

So with that said I pray: come Lord, Jesus. Bring peace. Bring mercy. Bring what is needed. Amen


Day #1304

July 27, 2017

Prayer is a gift. It is a gift to have conversation with God at any time and at any place and know God is ready to listen. It is a gift to share what is on our hearts and minds with God - to pray for others, situations, needs, and ourselves. 

So I’m grateful for folks who participate in Prayer Partners in the congregation. There is definitely a growth in relationship when you regularly remember someone in prayer. It's a gift. Thank you, everyone!!


Day #1303

July 26, 2017

Three days in and I’m wondering - what have we done?!?! Ok, third day is the hardest. Right!?!?! 

Not much sleep, potty accidents, and the attention span of a flea (thankfully none of those - yet!). It gets better, right?!?!

Oh, but he’s so darn cute...

when he’s sleeping!!  :-)


Day #1302

July 25, 2017

It isn’t the first time I have said how thankful I am to make visits to folks in their home and to have them share about their life with me. There is holy ground in those moments. 

Thank you for sharing your interesting, faithful lives with me!


Day #1301

July 24, 2017

The descriptor for this Monday regarding Jesus: Heart. Heart of flesh and heart of God. Jesus was open to perfect love and also susceptible to perfectly being broken. Yet, he was faithful in keeping his heart open and on God. And if Jesus is heart, we can be assured he wants our hearts open, too, to risk (and trust) being in relationship.

All this seems perfectly appropriate on the day we bring home a new addition to the family - this ball of fur:

Yes, I have a smile on my face as we pull away from his "birth home". But honestly, I’ve been really reluctant to make this move. I wanted to keep my heart protected - losing a beloved pet is just too hard and seems to come way too quickly! I was enjoying the “pet free” zone our house had become and my heart was really closed to the idea. But my loving husband was persistent - and won! So we’re off on a new adventure. 

Perhaps there is something to learn with Jesus as heart with us humans, too. It’s too hard to suffer broken relationships. It's too painful to be hurt, to lose someone, to be betrayed. Yet, Jesus desperately wants our hearts to be open to the joys of relationship - especially the perfection of the Holy Trinity - God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And we can trust Him to know what’s best!


Jesus as heart was inspired by Rev. Sarah Ciavarri. Thank you!

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!!!