Saturday, October 28, 2017

Day #1396

October 27, 2017

Returning from a meeting out of town, I arrived home just in time to catch the late afternoon/early evening sky. 

God’s beauty astounds!!!


Day #1395

October 26, 2017

It’s an honor to serve in the church. It’s an honor to make friends and have colleagues who do similar work. It’s an honor to meet and discuss and dream. It’s an honor to laugh with others, cry with others, hope and plan with others. 

And as we gather to meet, God is with us. Now THAT is an honor!


Day #1394

October 25, 2017 

Today’s word of thanks - that God hears and responds to prayer, especially the deep needs of our heart. It’s almost as though God already knows and is just waiting for us to realize God’s there to hear us! 

Thank you, God, for the reminder and the help!!


Day #1393

October 24, 2017

Andy Hart in the devotion, d365, wrote exactly what I needed to read. There are days I struggle to see fruits of a labor that seems overwhelming and pointless. It seems the question, “why do this,” has surfaced recently - a question I disdain. To that, Andy writes:
We’re also called to serve God’s people. We may not see the results right away, but we serve faithfully anyway, and we trust that people who follow us will benefit from what we do. What seeds are you called to plant? Go ahead and plant them faithfully and know that with God, they will grow and prosper.” 
Thank you, Andy, for reminding me to keep planting the seeds - it’s God’s job to harvest! And, by the way, I’m taking that the "people who follow us" are the ones who come in the ministry after us, not the ones we are called to serve. Just saying. 

And this marks Boomer being with us for three months. 

Really - three months?! Well, seems longer. :-) But he’s certainly growing!


Day #1392

October 23, 2017

The word for Jesus for the day - transformer. No, not the toy, but the reality of who Jesus is. Jesus transforms lives, transformed and made a new covenant between God and God’s people, transforms fear to trust, transforms hate to love, transforms captivity to freedom, etc. 

What a joy, and an amazing thing, to have the transformer Jesus love me!! Love us all! And make us new creations in the process!


Day #1391

October 22, 2017

This writing by Sarah Carson from the blog, Daily Grace, by the Women of the ELCA spoke to me today. It's called "Prisoners Need Love, Too." 

Aren’t we all in a prison of some sort - a prisoner to time and its passing quickly; a prisoner to health or the lack of it; a prisoner to wealth or what we wish we had; a prisoner to love or the desire to have love?! Sarah writes: 
According to a 2012 study by The Sentencing Project, a not-for-profit criminal justice research and advocacy organization, 1 in every 108 people in the United States is imprisoned.“The number one thing a Christian in here needs is encouragement,” wrote a friend in prison. “The walls, the rules, the chains, the isolation, the sensory deprivation and everything else are designed to break a human being down.”Next, we can support those in prison through prayer, he added.“Lastly,” he said, “is fellowship—like what we do,” referring to our letter-writing. “It makes me feel good knowing someone was thinking about me. It lifts me up.” 
How can we be encouragement, presence, hope for all those imprisoned?


Day #1390

October 21, 2017

What a nice morning to watch a flag football game - cheering for and supporting one of the congregation's youth. 

It was also a good reminder to renew a commitment of allowing more of my time to be spent meeting folks where they are!!!! It’s a privilege - and fun, too!


Friday, October 20, 2017

Day #1389

October 20, 2017 

One advantage to having a puppy who rises with the sun - witnessing the gorgeous sunrise! And while I tried to get a picture, the camera would not do it justice. You just have to trust it was worth being up early to see the beauty of God’s creation! :-)


Day #1388

October 19, 2017

Official first grade school picture - oh, so grown up and handsome. 


PS The tie was a good choice!

Day #1387

October 18, 2017 

I was fortunate tonight to lead the J.A.M. 2.0 church school for grades 1-6. The lesson was on making good choices, piggybacking on Adam and Eve, the garden, the serpent and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

The craft was to make a paper snake to take home with them (thank you Spark Devotion book). As a reminder, for each day a good choice is made, a link in the snake should be taken out. The question - can you make the snake disappear? 

A clever idea - maybe we all could use one. :-)


Day #1386

October 17, 2017 

I have posted before a picture of the cross structure that was recently placed and dedicated in the Memorial Garden at the congregation where I serve (see Day #1244). This structure is very visible from the street and/or sidewalk in front of the congregation, and really sets a tone for the space. 

As I was going from one room to another today, I passed a door that faces the garden and cross. I stopped because something looked different - and it was. A man was there, kneeling at the crosses. As I stood for a moment, he got up, and as I gave a slight wave, he turned quickly and walked down the street. I considered calling out, but decided it was a moment for him to encounter God without distraction.

And what a moment to witness - someone led to the cross, to Jesus. My prayers go with him that God fill his life with hope and peace. 


Day #1385

October 16, 2017

The descriptor word for Jesus today - provider. As God come to the earth, Jesus is part of the trinity of the One who created all and provides all. 

The inspiration comes from the parable of the man who entered the wedding banquet, but was found by the king to not have a wedding robe. A perspective I learned that helped me better understand this parable is that all the guests would have been provided a robe when they entered. If that was the case, why then did the man take it off? Why would he?

I think we all “take off” what God provides a lot of the time, thinking we do life on our own. That we make what we do of our lives on our own. That we even bring ourselves into right relationship with God.

Jesus as provider means lots to consider. 


PS For the rest of the parable, see the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 22, verses 1-14.

Day #1384

October 15, 2017 

Today was the annual service of the Blessing of Animals. Several puppies/dogs brought their owners :-) for a special time of being blessed by God and thanked for their service and love for their humans. 

Yes, Boomer was there - on the left side at the back. We took a chance that he would behave, and he really did quite well. I’m thankful he was there to be blessed - we all need it. :-)


Day #1383

October 14, 2017 

One of the hardest things for me to accept as a pastor is thanks/appreciation from a parishioner. While I have to admit it is nice to hear, I do what I do without expectation of receiving any thanks at all. Sometimes, however, the thanks spoken is so heartfelt that I cannot be anything but humbled - and grateful. 

And reminded that God’s heart is warmed by our thanks, too. Thank you God for all you do with and for us. Amen!


Friday, October 13, 2017

Day #1382

October 13, 2017 

The word for the day - rejuvenating. Some time for rest, some time for reading, and some time to watch a sudden, albeit brief, snowstorm. All in all, just what was needed!


Day #1381

October 12, 2017 

When it is time to be flexible and adaptable due to changing schedules and needs, I am most thankful for forward planners. I tend to be one who procrastinates, so I am grateful not everyone does the same. If they did, we would be in a world of hurt in the office for the next couple of weeks. 

And prayers for those who mourn, those who undergo procedures, those who are ill and those trying to make the best of decisions. God knows who needs a healing touch - and comfort. 


Day #1380

October 11, 2017

Oh the joy of Wednesday - even when it means being very busy. Yes, it is the best day of the week, other than Sunday, of course. :-)


Day #1379

October 10, 2017 

As the treasurer duties for the CROP Walk were completed, I was pleased and grateful for the support of the community for this event. Nearly $6,000 was raised to help feed the hungry around the world, 25% of which will benefit Family Promise locally. Thank you Great Falls! And especially thank you to the Confirmation Youth of OSLC, who themselves raised nearly 15% of that total amount. Way to go! 


Day #1378

October 9, 2017 

Today's descriptor for Jesus - truth-teller. Jesus speaks the truth of who God is, lives the truth, asks for the truth, and can be trusted to be the truth. It’s something that is not always easy, being a truth-teller, and Jesus was no exception. For him, it eventually meant suffering and death. But the ultimate truth, the resurrection, spoke the loudest. And means the most.

And I cannot help but share godson Simon’s picture entry for the Farm Show. 

Here’s hoping he wins for his 1st grade budding artistry. He certainly won my vote! 


Day #1377

October 8, 2017

Day #7 (and final) of pictures that define my life has to be the sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism - ways that God comes to us in meal and water to welcome us, transform us, forgive us, and remind us of grace and love. These are essential to who, and whose, I am. And elements for which I am most grateful.

Then the day ended with a lively Choir Extravaganza fundraiser for Family Promise of Great Falls. Several choirs sang, stories were shared, fellowship enjoyed, and all-in-all a wonderful evening.


Day #1376

October 7, 2017

What a beautiful day for an awesome Fall Festival made possible by the hard work of many of the Women of the ELCA. Thank you for what you do - in so many ways - but especially for this day’s event whose fruits will be shared with many others through your faithful stewardship.

And what else would we do in the afternoon of such a beautiful day but give Boomer a ride. Once in the neighborhood, the window came down enough for him to enjoy the smells and the rays. That really is a happy look on his face. :-)

And it’s already Day #6 of the B/W photo challenge (see Day #1371). This view is one enjoyed by many who drive by the congregation I serve, but can be especially inviting in the evening when it is lit up by floodlights (this, however, is in the afternoon).


Friday, October 6, 2017

Day #1375

October 6, 2017 

When Boomer went for his final “puppy” vaccinations, he made us proud. He was a good boy and a good sport. 37 pounds of good at just under 4 months. Yikes! 

On another note, the Day 5 picture for the challenge is of our front door. 

This is the other part of my life from the one shown on Day #1374. And I couldn’t help but smile as Boomer wondered what in the world I was doing and why he couldn’t come with me. Behind him, my husband chuckled. Now that truly is my life.


Day #1374

October 5, 2017 

“Daily Grace,” a blog from the Women of the ELCA, continued the theme from Day #1373 about the need for rest. Jennifer Hackbarth wrote about being drawn to the ocean for a time of rest, not realizing the waves and movement of the ocean is very different than the still waters of a lake. She wrote the following about being disappointed by the difference: 
I forgot that letting go of control, seeking time to rest, and setting aside responsibilities can often feel like fighting a rip current. Rest isn’t always an absence of movement; sometimes it’s giving yourself permission to seek what gives you life and joy and relaxing into whatever direction the current takes you. What challenges do you face when you try to rest? 
Rest is not always easy to find, or do. Do you have a place where you can go or a time you can carve out to find rest? I hope so.

I think that all fits with Day 4 of the picture challenge (see Day #1371). This is a picture of my office and the view I see most days of the week. 

This can be a restful place. However, it can also be a place that is challenging, comforting, difficult, busy, peaceful, joyful, sad, and many more. It depends on the day. But one thing is certain, no two days are exactly alike - and that also describes my life. 


Day #1373

October 4, 2017 

I am wired to need a certain amount of quiet time and rest. Long ago I realized that carving out a place and time for some rest is not just something I want, it’s something I need. I was reminded of this by Laurie Brock through the daily devotion d365 when she wrote: “we can’t work our way into creativity. We sabbath our way there.” 

God realizes how important quiet time is for many humans and creates us to need sleep to survive. But quiet during the day is also important - time to think, dream, plan, create.

On the other hand, there is also a need to be together. To talk, to share, to bounce ideas off one another. So the picture for Day 3 is a reminder that several times on Wednesdays I gather with others around different tables in different places. It’s always precious time.


Day #1372

October 3, 2017

The word for the day - thankful. For deep, honest conversations. For being trusted with future planning. For ideas and creativity of colleagues. 

Also, there is Day 2 of the challenge (see Day #1371 for an explanation). Almost every day I cross this river at least twice. I consider that a gift. For no matter the time of day or the weather of the season, the river is a constant - a marker of place and a reminder of the need all living things have for water. 


Day #1371

October 2, 2017

Horrific. Without words. Unimaginable. Just a few of the thoughts and reactions that came as the news broke about a mass shooting in Las Vegas where dozens of people were killed and many, many more injured. How do we respond? What can we do? When will this stop?

In the face of something so impossible to understand or swallow, a good reminder of who Jesus is is “with.” With us. With the victims. With the families. With the nation. With those who went to help. With those who weep, who cry out in anger, who react in so many ways and with so many emotions. “Why” will be asked over and over. There will be an attempt to determine the reason for such an act. But perhaps the most important thing is the reminder Jesus is with us no matter what. 

Somehow, however, in the midst of all the fear and disillusionment, there is still reason to smile. I was challenged to make a daily FaceBook post of a different b/w picture of my life. The "rules" of the seven-day challenge are to offer no explanations and include no people. Well, I will do that on FaceBook, but here…well, here I can explain. 

So on Day 1 - I used Boomer in the backyard encountering snow for the first time of his short life. 

Oh how he thoroughly enjoyed it! 

And just in case one picture isn’t enough - here’s another. 

Snow and puppy joy. I am thankful for a reason to smile on such a gut-wrenching day.


Day #1370

October 1, 2017 

The weather held for the CROP Walk very nicely. Here’s a picture of some of the “crowd” who came out to walk to help end hunger (notice the beautiful blue sky?!). 

The walk, however, was only part of the day. A last-minute inspiration for the Children’s Message meant creating “footprints” as a reminder of Jesus’ pathway to us and his always being with us; lively and deep discussion around the table came during the first conversation about Lutheran-Catholic Dialogues (this conversation is in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at the end of October); and this by Pastor Sandy Van Zyl taken from the daily devotion “God Pause” for World Communion Sunday (our congregation doesn’t talk much about this day, maybe because we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week): “German mystic Meister Ekhart put it this way, "Our bodily food is changed into us, but our spiritual food changes us into it.””

Lots to be thankful for and lots to think deeply about.


Day #1369

September 30, 2017 

Time has come again to put out signs along the CROP Walk route. However, this year something seemed off. There was no rain. No wind. No snow. No sleet. Nope, just a pleasant day, along with plenty of assistance from great colleagues! All in all, it was the best/easiest year yet. 

So all is ready for the walk. Now, if the weather will just hold for that, too. :-)