Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Day #1659

July 17, 2018

When there is opportunity to have a conversation with someone who has become a soul-encourager, it is a joy and privilege. Thank you to one who brings a lift to others just by the sound of their voice! 

Are you that someone? If so, don’t hesitate to make a call. It could mean way more than you know. 

Blessings.

Day #1658

July 16, 2018

A prayer for the week:
Almighty God, thank you for those who serve others, who have the heart and calling to be involved in helping those with needs. Thank you, especially, for the leaders of these organizations. Give them wisdom, courage, direction, tolerance and endurance for their tasks. Help us all to support them and their work. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1657

July 15, 2018

It’s National Ice Cream Day! Yay!!!

Except I think that each day should be ice cream day! It is one of the joys of life, isn't it?! What is your favorite favor? I can't think of a flavor I don't really like, but chocolate chip, huckleberry, pistachio almond, butter pecan and coffee anything are some of my favorites. 

With that said, however, there is another joy of life. Worship on Sunday! Combine the two - oh, what a great day!!

Blessings.

Day #1656

July 14, 2018

This from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation is certainly worthy of sharing. It’s the refrain of a song by Father James Marchionda that Richard shared: 
It’s not up to God alone to listen to prayer.
It’s not up to God alone to answer.
But when the people of God become what we pray,
the kingdom of God is revealed. 
Being the hands and feet of God - that’s our calling. Wow - what a privilege and a burden, right!?! Prayer is certainly powerful!

Blessings.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Day #1655

July 13, 2018

This just seemed to speak to me today:
I surely believe this - God does give us strength! And also gives us folks who help lift us up. It's called the Body of Christ. I am grateful!!

Blessings.

Day #1654

July 12, 2018

On the third day of Vacation Bible School, we were reminded once again that Jesus is with us always and with the world, helping us provide for the needs of others.

We did a service project - packing lunch bags for those who are hungry…

Before - the items:

During - the packing:

What a blessing - 150 bags are ready to be given to folks! 

With that, another Vacation Bible School is in the books. Thanks to all who came, who donated, and especially to those who worked hard to make it all happen!

Blessings.

Day #1653

July 11, 2018

On the second day of Vacation Bible School, we learned that Jesus was with the disciples in the boat - calming the sea. And he is with us when we feel nervous or afraid, happy or sad. Jesus is with us always!

And we played games...
Blessings.

Day #1652

July 10, 2018 

On the first day of Vacation Bible School - Jesus and Me Camp - we were reminded that we are never alone, that Jesus is always with us!

And we sang… 
Blessings.

Day #1651

July 9, 2018 

A prayer for those who are grieving:
Almighty God, we trust your promises to gather together all your believers into your eternal Kingdom. We look with faith toward the day we will join our loved ones who have gone before us. We do not live without hope. Yet, we grieve the loss of their physical presence with us in this world. Give us peace in our grieving, comfort in knowing that we are not alone, and patience with ourselves to work through the process. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1650

July 8, 2018

On Sunday Morning, broadcast journalist Steve Hartman told quite the story about a young man from Seguin, TX, by the name of Gerald Hodges. Gerald is a good athlete who participates in many sports, yet he joined the one team that gave him the biggest challenge. He joined the swim team - when he couldn’t swim! 

Seems crazy, but Gerald’s idea was that “if [he] couldn’t handle not being good at something, then how could [he] consider [himself] a successful person?” So he worked hard, really hard, and ended up helping take the team to the state finals. Quite the victory!

I believe there’s a lesson in there for me, too. If I don’t challenge myself in ways that push the edges of my comfort levels or try things that I don’t think I have ability for, then am I actually limiting the work of God through me? 

Maybe you are wondering the same.

Blessings.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Day #1649

July 7, 2018 

I heard last night that today is World Chocolate Day. It is a good reason to enjoy a little of this food gift today. But then I think every day could be chocolate day. 

Also, this prayer from Rachel Wrenn in the God Pause devotion is well-worth sharing:
Jesus Christ, your love-upon-the-cross is humbling. Bring me to my knees in adoration and confession, then raise me to my feet to thank and serve you. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1648

July 6, 2018 

We could say it got hot here today! And we would be right about that!


My thoughtful husband took me for a ride into the countryside today. The views of the mountains are healing and the green grass covering the pastures is beautiful. Oh, and a little ice cream along the way never hurts. :-)

Thank you, sweetheart. You are good to me!!

Blessings.

Day #1647

July 5, 2018

There was quite a bit of excitement in our town today - the president of the U.S. came for a rally. Traffic was crazy. Roads were closed. Parking lots of businesses blocked. The town’s security personnel at the ready with all hands on deck. A big day.

Me? I was doing what I do and making some home visits, spending holy ground time. 

Blessings.

Day #1646

July 4, 2018 

Here's wishing everyone a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

Blessings.

Day #1645

July 3, 2018

For nearly three years, Cindy fought against cancer. What started as trouble breathing was found to be much more than asthma or allergies. She was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it spread quickly, eventually going to her brain. 

She tried most everything and thanks to the doctors in Houston and the good care of many, she had some good times. Cindy was a nurse who was actually a very compliant patient. Her attitude was great, but her pain was also great and often she would say she didn’t pray for God to take away the pain completely, just make it a little easier to bear that day. 

Early in her diagnosis I sent this to her that I pirated from a store:



This was true for Cindy - cancer took much, as you will see below, but it never took her faith, her spirit, her laugh, her friendship. 

Cindy’s battle ended today. Words cannot adequately express how much I admire her and how I was awed by her strength. She taught me so much during the years of our friendship - how to laugh at myself, how to be more comfortable meeting folks, how to care for someone, how to have fun, how to talk to someone deeply about faith and trust in God, and so much more. To say I will miss her cheapens what I feel, but as long as I live, I believe her impact in my life will grow. 

Here are a few pictures that show who Cindy is:


This is one of the best pictures ever, I think, of Cindy. This is B.C. - before cancer.


She always had a thing for pirates. Who knows? 


A little taste of her sense of humor while enjoying one of her favorite meals - 
she called them crab ribs.


We spent some time together not long after her treatments began 
at her happy/peaceful place - the coast


The foursome (well, it only shows half of her hubby so maybe we should say 3.5 of us) 
took a trip to see the west coast (her 1st time) in sunny Southern California. 


And one of my favorites - her laughing. 
I'll always hear her laugh in my mind. Can't you almost feel her joy!

Cindy, I will always love you! Thank you for being my friend. Rest in peace!

Blessings.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Day #1644

July 2, 2018 

A prayer this week for the United States of America:
Almighty God, thank you for your creation. Thank you for countries and their leadership. As the United States celebrates another year of existence, grant us wisdom in how we use resources, compassion for others around the world, tolerance for differing ideas and values, and a desire for justice and mercy. Guide us and keep us, continuing to turn our desires toward your will and direction. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1643

July 1, 2018

Being back at worship was wonderful. Lively services (the early morning summer service began today), and family and friends of members visiting, helped make it a great morning. And getting back in the routine of writing a sermon seemed to turn out just fine.

Thank you to the Holy Spirit for its presence, once again!

Blessings.

Day #1642

June 30, 2018 

It was a fun evening at the ballpark with Family Promise night. The 50/50 game proceeds were designated to be split between that program and another one in town. Generously, over $3,200 in tickets were sold, meaning a good amount for the ministries. But to top that off, the person who had the winning number donated the proceeds to Family Promise, as well. This made for a very good night for Family Promise - and a fun way to spend a Saturday night.

Play ball!!

Blessings.

Day #1641

June 29, 2018 

Routines are rather funny, I think. Doing things the same way, at somewhat the same time, can give way to many things becoming rote. For example, I don’t really think too much, or need to, about brushing my teeth. 

Some routines, however, make my life richer. Bible Study, worship, and prayer could all be considered routines that are positive in nature. My life is enhanced and my relationship with God grows deeper through these routines, or practices. 

Sermon writing is somewhat similar, a positive routine. There is a familiar rhythm that moves me along from reading the scripture texts for the first time early in the week to actually writing a sermon, usually on Friday, to preaching it Sunday morning. I suppose this is the reason that, because the routine has been interrupted for nearly three weeks, I’m finding it tougher to get back in the swing of writing. 

Nope, I have no inspiration, and Sunday is coming. Let’s hope Saturday goes better!!

Blessings.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Day #1640

June 28, 2018

After yesterday’s thoughts on prayer and the invitation to be faithful in its practice and growth, today’s opportunities for prayer did not surprise me, but gave me comfort in the midst of concern and pain. Lots of prayers today - for mercy, for youth, for the sick, dying and those in need of healing, for direction, for thanksgiving, for trust and hope, and so much more.

Prayer IS a gift. Thank you, God, for the gift and for hearing us. Always! Amen. 

Blessings.

Day #1639

June 27, 2018

In the WELCA Gather magazine Bible Study for June, Anna Madsen writes about prayer, focusing on the scripture of 1 Samuel 12:12-23. In preparing for this study, one line spoke strongly to me: “My friend, Pastor Tim Olson, nicely frames the dynamic of verse 23 this way: “If prayer affects God, it affects the Body of God, and if it affects the Body of God, it affects God.””

As we discussed the nuances and paradoxes of prayer in our time together, the idea that only God can see and understand the “big picture” not only of our individual lives, but of the world, leads to a growing trust of how God answers our prayers. When we fervently pray for a particular outcome and it doesn’t happen the way we desire, is God angry with us? Is God punishing us or preferring someone else’s prayer over ours? I would venture to say that it is less about anger or punishment and more about the ultimate care and love God has for us all, knowing infinitely more than we do about what we need or what is best for all.

Prayer is certainly a simple, and yet complex entity. In its simplicity, prayer is conversation with God - much like a conversation with a friend or loved one. There are times to talk and times to listen. And yet, in its complexity, how we pray, what we pray for, when or how often we pray, and whether we are praying correctly or with enough faith, make us wonder more about the process instead of relaxing in the gift. 

So when we consider that God might be affected by our prayer, what might that look like? Can we change God’s mind about something? Maybe - there is certainly scriptural precedence for doing so. Can we be honest about our feelings and hopes and perceived needs? Most definitely - it is God’s desire for us to do so.

What does prayer affecting the Body of God look like? Because we are the Body of God, prayer affects us by sometimes bending our will to God’s, often growing our trust in God’s care and love for us, bolstering one another through remembering others in prayer and lifting them up before God, and even bringing about outcomes or guidance that might not have happened without taking the time to seek God’s wisdom and help. 

May you be faithful in continuing to find the depth and breadth of the gift of prayer. Each time we pray, we learn and grow. God is so good!

Blessings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Day #1638

June 26, 2018 

As the page comes to a close on the June calendar, some exciting things for July are on the horizon. One of them is Vacation Bible School. I’m so excited we are able to offer another time of learning and fun for youth this summer - three afternoons of great adventure. I’m also grateful for the planning that has been done and the excitement created - evident at our planning meeting today. 

What are you doing July 10-12? I know a great place where you just might want to be!

Blessings.

Day #1637

June 25, 2018 

A prayer for this week was inspired by a double rainbow after a storm:
Almighty God, your promise of care for your creation is visible in the bow placed in the clouds. Thank you for this reminder and that you love all you have made. Amen. 

And this - eleven months have passed since we brought little Boomer (now big Boomer) home. Actually, it was eleven months yesterday. However, with Boomer being at “camp” while we were on vacation, his picture comes today. 

Happy “at home” anniversary!

Blessings.

Day #1636

June 24, 2018 

Time passes quickly, especially while on vacation. That’s where we’ve been for the last two weeks (you can see some of our adventures on the Traveling with Hitch blog). As we arrived back in town, we gave thanks for safe travel, good times away, and memories made. But rest assured, I’ve missed the folks and will be glad to get back into a routine tomorrow.

Blessings.

Day #1635

June 23, 2018

It is my understanding that 567 people graduated with me a significant number of years ago. I always thought it was around 800, but 568 is not a small number. A percentage of them gathered for a reunion and from the looks of the pictures, a great time was had by all. 

As one of my classmates said, my difficulty with high school probably had more to do with my own insecurities and lack of confidence than anything else. Overall it was an important time of learning and making friends and it was certainly fun to see pictures of so many of those folks. Maybe I’ll make it to the next reunion. We'll see. 

Blessings.

Day #1634

June 22, 2018 

Remembering mom on the 10th anniversary of her death:

Mom, I wish I could tell you this in person. I would love to have a few more minutes, another day, one last hug. But it is not to be, as I'm remembering that you took your last breath on earth ten years ago today. You and I had so many conversations that I’m grateful for – I told you how much you mean to me, how I love you, how I would miss you. We were able to laugh together, to pick on one another, to even lose patience with one another, and to know that we loved each other more than words could say. You were and always will be my best cheerleader and encourager, an example of generosity beyond compare, a kicker of pants when I needed it, and unlike any other person ever will be for me. The word mom says it all – none can compare. Please know that! The good news, however, is that faith tells me we will be gathered together again with Jesus – all believers - and that Jesus is caring for you now in a way I never could. I trust that while I miss you like crazy, you are ok. A LOT has happened in 10 years (I kept my promise!!) and so much has changed. The mountains you always loved, even though these are different than you ever saw, I am fortunate to see every day and always think of you. May you be resting high on that mountain, safe in the arms of God. I love you, mom!!! Always will!!

Blessings.

Day #1633

June 21, 2018

There is one word for the day – a familiar one that may seem to be overused, but certainly applies – grateful!!

Blessings.

Day #1632

June 20, 2018 

Today a prayer:
Almighty God, as the world remembers World Refugee Day, we pray for wisdom and compassion for those who make decisions, having trust in those who accompany and help others seeking refuge, and hope that all your children would find welcome and their needs met. Teach us what we each need to do and be. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1631

June 19, 2018

Justin Joplin had this to say in his devotion for d365 and I thought it was something worth sharing:
One of my all-time favorite “proverbs” comes from an unlikely source. Mike Tyson (yes, the tattoo-faced, formerly-imprisoned, retired boxer) once said “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” He would know, I guess! I love this line, not because I plan on ever stepping into the boxing ring, but because I think it’s actually an important bit of wisdom we can apply – metaphorically – to our lives. It’s easy to stick with a plan when everything is going well – when the sailing is smooth, to borrow a metaphor from today’s scripture reading. But our best plans don’t always hold up when we’re tossed into crisis mode. “Gale force winds arose,” this story begins. Consider that the punch in the face that let the disciples know their plans for the journey weren’t going to be enough to get them safely across the lake. They discovered, when their plans weren’t enough, that sticking close to Jesus was what really mattered.
Plans – they are good, but flexibility might even be better. Flexibility, and trust in Jesus to guide us through – and be with us - all good reminders!

Blessings.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Day #1630

June 18, 2018 

The prayer for this week:
Almighty God, as the season begins, thank you for those who care for youth at church camps. We are grateful for staff, counselors, cooks, volunteers, and all those who send youth to camp to learn about you and your love for us. Keep them all safe this summer, help them learn more about you, and develop between them relationships with deep roots that can last a lifetime. For places that provide time away with you, we give thanks and praise. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1629

June 17, 2018 

After yesterday’s rant, here is a picture of someone I think is a good daddy - certainly one to Boomer!!

Love you, sweetheart. Happy Father’s Day!

Blessings.

Day #1628

June 16, 2018 

Warning, this will be a tad of a rant. 

Please understand that I am thankful there are folks who had wonderful fathers and I am thankful they pay loving tributes to those men on FaceBook. There is good reason to be proud and grateful for a loving, kind, selfless father, including those who have passed on. But when Father’s Day comes along and the father you remember was just a tad less than stellar, well, it tends to make one feel guilty for thinking less of the memories of the man who raised you. Guilty, sad, regretful, etc. - you get the idea. 

Oh, I am thankful for the man who raised me - his demand for excellence taught me to try harder; his tendency to lose his temper taught me to be patient (most times); his ability to pick on me taught me to think quickly on my feet; his gift for fixing things taught me to do the same. But loving, gentle, or kind does not describe my father.

So as Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day, too) rolls around, consider that others may have different experiences/memories than yours. It’s good to be proud of your parent, but please understand if others choose not to participate in paying glowing tributes. And that is ok, as there is no reason to feel guilty for passing.

Blessings.

Day #1627

June 15, 2018

I suppose you could say I’m on a roll with a theme. Today was another day to be grateful, and that is not a bad thing.

Then there was a cute little fellow eating with his folks at a restaurant. He had a smile a mile wide and watching him be smiled at in return by so many others was heartwarming. Somewhere I read that to not smile back at a child is simply wrong. I agree, and am glad others do, too.

Blessings.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Day #1626

June 14, 2018 

To our Godson on his mommy’s 10th ordination anniversary: 

Today your mommy, dear Simon, celebrates 10 years of ordained ministry. Your mommy has been a pastor your whole life, so ten years may not seem like a big deal. It is. It means there are hundreds of people who have been blessed by your mommy’s presence in their lives. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, classes, worship services and sermons, hospital visits, homebound visits (to which you have sometimes accompanied her), conversations, prayers, etc., etc. Thousands of hours, tens of thousands of words, many tears and some laughter mark these years. I want you to know how proud we are of her and how much we know this vocation is difficult. It’s not easy to be away from her own family so that she can help someone else. But she does it out of love - love for God, love for you and your brother, and out of trust in the grace and love God has for us, desperately wanting others to know of that love, too. So give mommy an extra hug today, from us, and tell her Happy Anniversary. Oh, and here is what we looked like 10 years ago. Wish we were there again today!

Blessings.

Day #1625

June 13, 2018

One word for the day - thankful! Simply thankful for a good day!

Blessings.

Day #1624

June 12, 2018 

The caption to this picture - last day of first grade. Oh, you are growing so fast!!!!

Love you!

Blessings.

Day #1623

June 11, 2018

The prayer for this week:
Almighty God, there are times when your word stops us short bringing fear and misunderstanding. When you speak of unforgivable sin, our hearts become heavy. Have mercy on us, keeping us away from that possibility. Help us to trust that you do forgive, include us as family, and that your grace is sufficient and available for all. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1622

June 10, 2018 

This comment has not been verified, but it is what I heard during the celebration of Holy Communion. One of our little ones asked mommy, “Is that the body of Jesus? He sure is skinny.”

What more is there to say about that?! :-)

Then there is this - today is a milestone in our family. Boomer turns 1! We made it the first year. Haha! His first reaction - I'm how old?


Hard to believe he was ever this small!


Happy Birthday, Big Boy!!!


Blessings.