Monday, November 5, 2018

Day #1770

November 5, 2018

A prayer for this week:
Almighty God, as Americans head to the polls for elections, we pray for your guidance to make informed and wise decisions. We pray for political leaders, community leaders, and church leaders - all leaders - that there would be mercy in their decisions and a servant attitude in their actions. Give us wisdom in electing all our leaders. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1769

November 4, 2018 

Comforting worship as we remembered and gave thanks for the saints of the past, the present, and the future. 

What are all those candles for, Pastor? A young saint of the present presented a great question for the opening of the Children’s Message. Thanksgiving for folks who have been a part of our lives and who we miss, I said.

Wish I had thought to say, what are those candles for? Love! 

Blessings.

Day #1768

November 3, 2018 

In preparing for worship for All Saints, I’m thinking about something Father Jim said at the Memorial Service for Cindy:
One can’t explain to humans what heaven is like any easer than one can explain to an unborn infant what earth is like.
That’s a perspective that is helpful in thinking about all the saints resting in the arms of God. What’s it really like? We won’t know until we know, but faith tells me it will be grand!

Blessings.

Day #1767

November 2, 2018

Something to think about from the WELCA Blog:
African American theologian Howard Thurman (1899-1981) suggests that true prayer has very little to do with bringing something external to pass; rather, it has to do with the relationship between God and those who pray. “The essence of prayer is that God answers the pray-er, which is far more important than answering a thousand prayers,” Thurman says. Thurman’s insight suggests that God’s answer to prayer—whether or not a particular petition is granted—is akin to God saying, “I see you. I love you. I am with you. No matter what.” This message is an excerpt from “Closer to God” by Audrey  West in the July/August 2018 issue of “Gather” magazine.
Blessings.

Day #1766

November 1, 2018 

On this All Saints Day, I give thanks for the saints in my life, past and present, who fill or have filled my life with joy, challenge, education, mentoring, love, acceptance, and family. I miss those who have gone before me - parents, grandparents, uncles, friends, parishioners, colleagues. And I cherish those still present - family, friends, parishioners, and fellow colleagues in ministry. Life truly is relationship to be celebrated!

Blessings.

Day #1765

October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween from the hottest dog around. :-)


And his mustard sidekick:
Blessings.

Day #1764

October 30, 2018 

As I sat with colleagues, the subject of lamenting airline travel turned to pet relief stations in the airport. (See Day #1752 for my comments concerning so many dogs.) Turns out one of my colleagues took the picture I missed of the "pet relief station": 


Yep, gotta love that care for all of God’s creatures does exist! 

Blessings.

Day #1763

October 29, 2018 

The prayer for today, this week, and always:
Almighty God, you are God of love. God of relationship. God of forgiveness. Teach your children, all of us, how to be more like you. Give us strength to forgive. Give us desire to be in relationship with you and with others, especially those we most distrust or dislike. Give us a measure of your capacity for love. For we know and experience all too often that the antithesis of love leads to fear, violence, and death. We desire for love to conquer the fear, violence and death. We trust you to help us have that love for one another, all around the world. Lord, have mercy. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1762

October 28, 2018

Quite the busy day - remembering the Reformation in worship with special music, being blessed by another pastor sharing the message - thank you!! - and the first camp counselor youth event of the season. Busy, and faith-filling. The youth are awesome - and so are the counselors! 

Blessings.

Day #1761

October 27, 2018

This prayer from the devotion d365 seems important to share in light of the recent shootings in Pittsburgh and after attending a Memorial Service for a pastoral colleague: 
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.” from Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner (1973)
Blessings.

Day #1760

October 26, 2018

When a former confirmation student texts just to say they’re learning about Luther today in school, it brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart! Not only do I see this as a “win” for remembering a topic from confirmation, but a “huge win” in remembering relationship is important and I'm available!!!

Then an informative day of learning and discussing the particulars surrounding the election/calling of a new bishop for our synod next June. This is an important step for our synod and the church. So, it’s time to be thinking and praying! June will be here quickly!

Blessings.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Day #1759

October 25, 2018 

From Bible Study, to random conversations, to a Synod meeting, the point has been drilled home today - God is about relationship. And because of that, God desires for God’s children to also be in good and healthy relationship. Not to be angry with one another, hold grudges against one another, attack one another, live in fear of one another, or distrust one another, but to have honest conversation and seek reconciliation when needed. 

This is tough work, being in relationship, yet, the church, and all humanity, thrives in and through it. Teach us how, O God. Amen!

Blessings.

Day #1758

October 24, 2018 

Whew - a busy day of catch-up! But, it’s Wednesday, so a great day, too. As we learn/review in Confirmation Class about the Reformation and Martin Luther’s courage in its beginning, I am grateful for all those who are/were willing to take a stand, and not back down in fear. Thank you, all those who stand up for the Truth, for your faithful witness!

Blessings.

Day #1757

October 23, 2018 

After another “fun” day of flying, we are home. Honestly, we are exhausted physically and mentally, yet we are grateful we had the opportunity to go to remember, and support, our friends. And after being so near to the devastating destruction from the hurricane, we remember in prayer those who may be a very long time before they’re home again. Lord, have mercy!

Blessings.

Day #1756

October 22, 2018 

We had the opportunity to spend some time in the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, making this a happy man (airplanes and ships are two of his favorite things). 

With this in mind, it seems appropriate for the prayer this week to be for those who protect and serve:
Almighty God, while your desire is for healthy relationships and peacefulness among nations and people, there is still war and conflict in our world. Fervently, we pray for peace. Until that time comes, however, we pray for those who protect and serve our nation. Grant safety to those who wear, or have worn, the uniforms of all branches of service. Thank you for their lives of sacrifice and service. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1755

October 21, 2018 

It would be a shame to come all this way without getting a little time on the beach. 


On the heels of the latest hurricane, it is amazing how calm and peaceful the water is. What a beautiful day…and place!

Blessings.

Day #1754

October 20, 2018 

The service is over, a meal together has been eaten, memories have been shared, the family was surrounded by friends and loved ones, and now the day has ended. Blessed rest and comfort for us all.

Blessings.

Day #1753

October 19, 2018 

For the last couple of days, there has been a lot of time available to do some reading. This from Jodi Piccoult in her novel, Small Great Things, is worth sharing: 
“... I knew that sometimes when people spoke, it wasn’t because they had something important to say. It was because they had a powerful need for someone to listen.”
This is a good reminder reminder to me for this weekend. 

Although, I believe the perfect reminder for the weekend is this porch - Cindy’s porch - where much rest and holy conversation have taken place. 


Yes, the memories of Cindy’s presence and friendship abound in this place, and I am grateful for the time she has been a part of my life. We came to remember and celebrate her life, and this porch is a perfect place to begin. Isn't it inviting? And it really is "her."

Blessings.

Day #1752

October 18, 2018 

A day of flying! 

That’s probably enough said, but “wide” neighbors who lean toward you, loud non-stop talking flight attendants, being “herded” through airports, waiting and waiting and waiting, these are a few of my NOT favorite things!!

Something new I noticed this time, there are lots of doggies in the airport (and on flights). Comfort dogs, service dogs, security dogs…LOTS of dogs. Enough dogs that we passed a “doggie” bathroom in the airport. Well, ok then! I mean, I love dogs, but....

So what's the upside? After a LONG day, we’re literally on the beach. Not a bad ending to the day!

Blessings.

Day #1751

October 17, 2018 

More books!?!?! Really!! But...it’s the first day of the big annual AAUW Book Sale. So while I’m supposed to be packing, I’m taking a few minutes to shop. And taking a few books to the car to go home with me - of course!

Blessings.

Day #1750

October 16, 2018 

When a young one asks, "will you come to my game," what do you think I’m going to do? Yep, go!

What fun to watch - what a privilege to be invited!

Blessings.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Day #1749

October 15, 2018

After hearing about a mission trip’s importance to a country’s people, and the traveler, a prayer for accompaniment and resilience:
Almighty God, you give gifts to all your children. Sometimes we are the ones to accompany others toward a more full/abundant life, and sometimes we are the ones in need of accompaniment. Give us knowledge to know which is needed. Also, we pray with thanksgiving for the resilience of folks in the midst of tragedy and challenge. Thank you for giving us hope and strength in the midst of life, and the assurance you are with us always. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1748

October 14, 2018 

What a great way to spend the afternoon, enjoying the third annual Choir Extravaganza to benefit Family Promise of Great Falls. This picture is of the grand finale mass choir - simply awesome! 


Thank you, Lord, for the talent and voice shared by so many.

Blessings.

Day #1747

October 13, 2018 

This snow isn’t on the mountaintops - it’s on the back deck. 


A good inch or so, that melted away quickly. Not bad for the first "official" snowstorm of the season. :-)

Blessings.

Day #1746

October 12, 2018

My hubby went with me to a meeting in the capital city - a beautiful drive. Yes, that’s snow on the mountaintops far away. 


However, the best part of the day was the conversation and planning and dreaming at the meeting. We discussed the importance of relationship in congregations, what vitality looks like for a congregation, along with ways we might be helpful/available for them. And so much more. 

Oh, and a reminder from a pastor who is ministering to someone going into hospice care: hold tightly, and lightly, to those we love because life is ever-changing…and precious. 

Blessings.

Day #1745

October 11, 2018 

What a fun day! I had the opportunity to meet a friend and colleague’s baby granddaughter. What a cutie (too busy holding her to get a picture). 

And an announcement at our monthly Ladies Lunch - our Parish Administrator is expecting….with twins! 

Wow - quite a day! 

Blessings.

Day #1744

October 10, 2018

Well, the good news is, there was a little time today to work through some of those piles on my desk. Yes, precious time to sort and organize. Thankful!

Also, it’s Wednesday, perhaps my favorite day of the week. Time to talk (and listen) about God with folks of all ages! Another thankful!

Blessings.

Day #1743

October 9, 2018 

The question of the day seems to be - where does the time go? 

Time for Christmas worship planning?! Really?!

And the piles keep growing on my desk! Where does this all paper come from and where is the time to get through it?!

And our first godson turns 21 today! Really?! Here's what a difference 21 years can make (thanks to his dad for the more current picture I snagged from a FB group shot).


And we’re a week away from the middle of October?! Really!

Well, the same 24 hours are in a day and the same 7 days are in a week. However, they just seem to be going by really fast!! Lord, have mercy!

Blessings.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Day #1742

October 8, 2018 

A prayer for the church/God's Kingdom:
Almighty God, all that we are and all that we have come from you. Inspire us to be so grateful and awed by your generosity that we wish to share the Good News with everyone. Give us courage and commitment to invite others into knowing you, worshiping you, and learning about you. Amen.
This prayer is inspired by a reminder of the importance of invitation:

Blessings.

Day #1741

October 7, 2018

Hurray for the beautiful weather for the annual CROP Walk to end hunger. And thanks to the generosity and dedication of many folks, over $6,000 has been raised, 25% of which will be donated to the local ministry, Family Promise of Great Falls. All in all a beautiful and “successful” day!

Blessings.

PS It's not too late to make a donation to this worthy cause. Check out CROP Walk Great Falls to make on online donation before October 31, 2018. Thank you!!!

Day #1740

October 6, 2018 

We had a beautiful drive to and from Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp for their annual meeting today. The colors of the trees are simply beautiful this year. Apologies for the lack of pictures - happens when you’re doing the driving. :-(

After we arrived home, we were doing a little “catch-up” on some tv watching and this line from the investigator on a diet, eating a salad, made us both laugh: “What did they do? Mow the lawn, rake it up, and put dressing on it? This is brutal.” I can relate!!! Hahaha!


Blessings.

Day #1739

October 5, 2018

Rant warning! ;-)

I have been trying for several days to get something worked out/changed with a local bank branch. This is not necessarily a bank complaint, but a lack of communication one. Late in the day yesterday I told the person I was working with that I would get the required form signed and back early tomorrow morning. Keeping my promise, I emailed the form only to get an automated reply they were out today and would be back Tuesday. WHAT!!!! I mean, couldn’t they have said yesterday, I’ll be out tomorrow, could you possibly get it back today, especially with Monday being a holiday? Or could they have let me know that it took 24-48 hours to get the change completed (this I learned from the “emergency” contact on their email). Nope! No warning, no communication that might be the case, just the empty assurance it would be taken care of asap. Grrr….I’m trying to be patient, but it was not a great start to a day off. 

Oh, well. Off to the mountains for a meeting tomorrow on the lake. How frustrating can a day off be with that in the plans, right?!?!

Blessings.

Day #1738

October 4, 2018

Thought this from Cystal Rock in the devotion d365 was an interesting insight: "we misunderstand that being in the likeness of God doesn’t mean that we are God; we are to be in relationship with God."

Also, in honor of the actual St. Francis Day, the ELCA shared this format of his famous prayer:


The prayer continues: "Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen."

Blessings.

Day #1737

October 3, 2018 

An interesting question of the day was brought forward: who has it easier, men or women? 

It seems our personal lens gives us a bias, either in favor of ourselves, or of the “other.” However, I suppose when we get right down to it, no one has life “easier.” Those who seem to be living a charmed and easy life are probably facing, or dealing with, something that others don’t know about or might not even understand. 

The longer I live, the more I realize that EVERYONE has difficult things in their life that they deal with and keeps them from having an “easy” life. Not that life isn’t worth it, but at some time or another, all of us will struggle in some way. Therefore, I’m very thankful we don’t struggle alone - that God is ALWAYS with us.

Blessings.

Day #1736

October 2, 2018 

Spent a good day of learning about the Gospel of Luke. We are blessed in this synod to have regular classes offered through the Northern Rockies Institute of Theology (NRIT). Keeping the focus on the importance of education and stretching our minds and knowledge, this organization and its planner (shout out to Jenny!) does a great job of offering varied topics. Today’s was no exception, and the presenter was also great. 

One of the things she said (many actually) really hit home, but this one I share here: “sometimes the inside changes when the outside challenges us.” I have found that to often be true - what I think or believe or dig my heels in over can be modified when I’m either challenged or invited to think a little differently. I like to think that is the Holy Spirit at work. :-)

Blessings.

Day #1735

October 1, 2018

A prayer for pets, in honor of yesterday’s Blessing of the Pets service:
Almighty God, your creation includes wonderful gifts - earth, sea, sky, rain, sunshine, and people. You also give us animals to care for and protect, including those we welcome into our homes and lives. Bless those pets, watch over them and those who care for them, and remind us of the joy their love and devotion brings. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1734

September 30, 2018 

Richard Rohr in his daily meditation writes: 
I observe that the people who find God are usually those who are very serious about their quest and their questions. It is said that asking good questions is a sign of intelligence. But Western culture has spent centuries admiring and promoting people who supposedly have all the answers—which, too often, they have read or heard from someone else. 
Hmm....reminds me of my internship supervisor who often said something like, "don't just believe what someone tells you. Read, pray, discuss and discern for yourself, too!"

Also, today we celebrate a baptism. What joy as we welcome dear Tayler into God's family! 

Blessings.

Day #1733

September 29, 2018

Be sure and notice the date of this entry, then guess what this is?!


Nope, momma, it’s not white sand. Haha!

Blessings.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Day #1732

September 28, 2018 

The circle is never broken. A circle may/will change, but it never breaks. This thought came to mind earlier this week and helped write the message for the funeral today. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for inspiration and for truth that the circle of love and grace that begins with God is NOT ever broken. Help us trust in the times when the circle changes. 

Today, I am also reflecting on the first ten years of my ordination. On this day ten years ago, I made promises that I would hold the office of pastor, with the help of God. I certainly can remember many, many, many times when the help of God has been very evident. Well, honestly, there have been 10 years of days of God helping. This odd and wondrous calling is just that, odd and wondrous. Thanks be to God!

Blessings.

Day #1731

September 27, 2018 

What a great day with many healthy conversations and times for study. What a joy to talk about the future, the present, the possibilities, the needs, and how to learn ways to address them all. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being present and active. Always!

Blessings.

Day #1730

September 26, 2018

I am thinking that a Wednesday might be a good day to have someone shadow a (this) pastor to see the variety of things they do. Wednesdays are busy days with much happening and would show someone that being a pastor is anything but boring. :-)

Then at confirmation class, I am thrilled there are so many questions being asked. But then, how can we teach/answer them all!?

Blessings.

Day #1729

September 25, 2018 

I have lately been enjoying a book by Louis Zamperini (from Unbroken) finished just days before his death at age 97. The book is Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In. One of the things he wrote that I felt had to be shared was: “all you can do is plant the seed...and water it by answering any questions you’re asked. The rest isn’t up to you.” 

Zamperini continues his story in this book about his life’s conversion after the Gospel/Good News of Jesus took hold of him. He spent many of his years telling his story and doing what he could to help others know the peace that comes from having a deep relationship with God. His life was full, despite the many things that happened to him (lost at sea, prisoner of war, etc) and he credits God for the change of his life and perspective. So when he says, “all [we] can do is plant the seed,” I am comforted that the Holy Spirit is able to do things we cannot even imagine. And thankful for the seeds that others planted in my life.

Blessings.

Day #1728

September 24, 2018 

A prayer today for peace:
Almighty God, your world was created in love and perfection. Unfortunately, however, there is often anything but love or perfection in this life. Those who want what someone else has create ways to harm them to get it. Wars begin, fights ensue, harm is done. We pray, Lord, that you would lead us all toward peace and harmony. That we would find ways to return in trust to love and perfection, putting the other ahead of us. Lord, bring peace to our individual lives, our communities, our world. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1727

September 23, 2018

Often there are paradoxes in the kingdom of God. Life and death, saint and sinner, hello and goodbye, all come quickly in succession. Today the congregation and community said goodbye to one who is moving on earth from one physical space to another hundreds of miles away. There was a celebration of her life in this place, thanksgiving for the impact she has had on people’s lives, and a farewell with hopes that life continues to be full and joyful in a new place. 

Not surprisingly, at almost the same time, another goodbye was being said to someone leaving this earth completely. Death comes quickly for some, slowly for others, and for Lloyd this has been a difficult journey. However, there will be time for celebrating his life in this place, remembering his impact on others, and faith and trust that his life will continue to be full and joyful in a new place of forever with God.

And in the midst of it all, God is present. Thanks be to God! 

Blessings.