Sunday, December 23, 2018

Day #1818

December 23, 2018

The last in the series of the folks of the Christmas Story for this Advent season was the shepherds. Waiting, watching, not expecting anything special in the midst of a dark night out in the fields tending the sheep. When suddenly - everything is changed. 

Is the lesson we should learn about how we need to spend our time waiting? Perhaps. But maybe even more important, learning to trust that the promises God makes, God keeps. Maybe not in ways we would expect, but always kept. Which is great news to ponder and share!

Blessings.

Day #1817

December 22, 2018

On a beautiful winter day, going for a ride seemed like a good idea. And it was. We found a new spot just on the edge of town that we had not visited before - a portage spot for Lewis and Clark. Hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed the discovery (apologies for the dark one!). 

Blessings.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Day #1816

December 21, 2018

A church related lunch, a need to reschedule a “meeting” because something else came up, making a visit, spending time in the office…all this on Friday…must mean that it’s a few days before Christmas. :-)

Loving it!! ’Tis the season. Blessings.

Blessings.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Day #1815

December 20, 2018

It is hard to believe that today we had our final regularly scheduled council meeting for the year. It seems 2018 just began. Yet, twelve months of gathering to discuss and handle the “business” of the congregation means many reports have been given, lots of questions have hopefully been answered, much information has been shared, and important decisions have been made. Thank you to those who serve in this manner. You are an important part of the ministry of the church. 

Blessings.

Day #1814

December 19, 2018 

What a great day for Bible Study. Excellent questions and deep thoughts lead to learning and deepening faith. Thank you to everyone who is able to come and participate. Studying in community is essential. 

Blessings.

Day #1813

December 18, 2018 

The word for the day is thankful. For those who come when called to service office equipment, I give thanks and appreciate your company and employees. Thank you for taking care of us!

Blessings.

Day #1812

December 17, 2018

As we come to the beginning of the winter season this week, and experience the shortest light day of the year, the prayer this week reflects this.
Almighty God, as the days of winter begin, and darkness and cold envelope our community, we pray the reminder that Jesus is the Light of the World fills our hearts and minds. Reassured that the Light of Christ cannot be overcome, may joy and hope replace sadness and fear. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1811

December 16, 2018 

And the celebrations continue. 

Another Open House with so much to see and people to greet (oh, and delicious goodies!) was followed by the Youth and Family Program at the congregation. The Youth Band played at their finest, the younger kids acted out the story while two older youth narrated, reading the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke, and the whole thing was brought to a close with a chili dinner that was really yummy. 


I am grateful to everyone who planned, participated and were able to attend. Thank you for helping us celebrate the real reason for the season - the birth of Jesus. 

Blessings.

Day #1810

December 15, 2018 

One of the delightful parts of the holiday season is gathering with others to enjoy one another’s company. First we were invited to lunch, then an Open House, and next was a visit to a favorite book store with conversation and laughter. What an enjoyable day, with more to come! ’Tis the season. 

Blessings.

Day #1809

December 14, 2018 

We had a delightful day getting ready to host the annual staff dinner, then capping off the night with food, laughter, sharing and being thankful (unfortunately one was unable to attend this year, and was certainly missed). The staff at the congregation are ALL wonderful to work with and dedicated to their tasks. I am very fortunate. But I am also frustrated - I missed a perfect time for a picture. :-(

Thank you, one and all. You not only make my ministry easier, you fill my heart with gratitude!

Blessings.

Day #1808

December 13, 2018

I don’t think there is anything more I can, or should, add to this I saw on FaceBook. 

An important reminder. And so true!

Blessings.

Day #1807

December 12, 2018

A while ago, someone discovered a great way to ask youth to share about their life. It involves a simple question: what was your high point and what was your low point in the last week (or so)? Seems this question is one that the youth I know enjoy being asked so they may share their answers. Is it because they can talk some about their life? Is it because the person asking really listens to what they have to say? Is it because there is no wrong or right answer, simply an opinion? Whatever the reason they like the question, I’m thankful the youth talk and share! Therefore, thank you to whoever began this - it makes several youth I know (and me) happy.

And then there is this - Simon and his brother, looking ready for Christmas. 

You sure are growing up quickly! Love you!

Blessings.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Day #1806

December 11, 2018 

On an incredible windy day, I share a lesson from a tumbleweed. While driving, I saw a really big tumbleweed dodge several cars until it was finally hit by one. Yes, some of it fell off, some was literally obliterated, but the core just kept on rolling. 

Seeing this reminded me that sometimes we dodge painful things in life, and sometimes we get run over by them. When that happens, our lives change - we are refined, we may even lose some things, but our core continues. That core, for me, is the love of God that created and sustains me. Therefore, I can keep on rolling, confident that God still loves me and is with me. Always!

Good lesson/reminder that “blew in.”

Blessings.

Day #1805

December 10, 2018

Simon, your momma sent me a picture today of macaroni and cheese she fixed for dinner. It was made using the recipe taught to me by my mother, that I then I shared with your momma. I hope one day she will share it with you and your children, so that the memory will continue. Therefore, inspired by that thought (and grateful), the prayer for the week is:
Almighty God, you give us all the gifts we need, including relationship. Thank you for the people who come into our lives to enrich them and make memories we can cherish and sometimes share with others. May the greatest memory we share, however, be the love and grace you give through our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1804

December 9, 2018

In preparing to introduce Mary, the mother of Jesus, in worship for this year's Advent series, the realization came to me that the gift of Jesus was not Mary’s, he was ours. Yes, the Son of God is God’s gift to all of humankind. So the message/sermon ended with the reminder to spend some time during Advent to think about what that gift means to us and to the world. 

Then there was another thoughtful moment - during Holy Communion. As I leaned over to bless one of the littlest ones, I said, “remember always that God loves you.” The response was priceless - "OK!" Oh, if we would all remember everyday that great, Good News! Ok?!

Blessings.

PS Weekly sermons are now available through the congregation’s website. Check out the media tab on the home page, oslcgreatfalls.org, then click sermons and audio. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Day #1803

December 8, 2018

An update - yes, Boomer is feeling better. I trusted he would.

But so are we! A little extra rest and some projects completed makes for a much happier “momma!” ’Tis the season, as they say, to be busy. But carving out some time to “do and be” is very important. 

I hope you also have some time to “do and be!” 

Blessings.

Day #1802

December 7, 2018 

Again the word for the day is thankful. A grieving family witnessed the love and care of many who served them, strangers though they were, and were touched and grateful. I, also, am grateful for the willingness of our “angels” to serve in this way. Thank you!!

And another reason to be thankful - for veterinarians who go above and beyond on packed days to work in seeing their “patient” and prescribe healing medicine. Yep, our “baby” isn’t feeling the best. But thanks to our caring vet, and some good medicine, he will be better soon. I just believe it!

Blessings.

Day #1801

December 6, 2018 

Today’s word is thankful. For the ways folks work to share the love of God - through serving others, loving others, being present, giving of their time, their talents and their treasure. There are so many ways that folks tirelessly serve. Please know I am thankful for each of you!!

Blessings.

Day #1800

December 5, 2018 

As we talked today in Bible Study about Mary, the mother of our Lord, how her story intersected with God’s story, I was nearly brought to tears. Can we even really imagine why God did this?!?! Came to earth as a baby, simply out of love! How truly amazing!

Blessings.

Day #1799

December 4, 2018

Hoping this isn’t a repeat, but if it is, I think it fits me to a tee!

Blessings.

Day #1798

December 3, 2018 
In Isaiah 43, God tells the people (through Isaiah) that they are precious, honored and loved. The people were probably feeling terrible because they were living in exile. There was grief, loss, poverty, and a sense of alienation. Into that place of brokenness, God offers words of compassion.In Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament), the words Isaiah used were yaqar (precious), kabad (honored) and ahab (loved). You are precious. You are honored. You are loved.We don’t always feel precious, honored and loved. The original audience of Isaiah likely didn’t feel the truth of God’s words either. But what if we just keep saying them to ourselves anyway? On days when we feel like it, and on days when we don’t. Transformation happens in repetition. Precious, honored and loved. These aren’t your feelings; they are your identity. 
The above is from the WELCA devotion Daily Grace and written by Emily Anne Carson. Her writing inspired the prayer for this week:
Dear God, help us to see ourselves as you see us - precious, honored, and loved deeply and truly by you. Then give us courage to live our daily lives reflective of that. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1797

December 2, 2018

Oh, the opportunities I am thankful for during Children’s Time in worship. Today while talking with the kids about Advent and what was coming up, one said about Christmas, "Santa will bring you presents." Oh, yes, little one. But the greatest and best present ever brought was Jesus, and Christmas is when we celebrate his birthday. Love it!

Then there was this. 

One of the fellow Family Promise board members began a while ago taking pictures for FaceBook with local folks he calls a “Friendly Face.” Today was my turn and I’m thankful to be included. This is what Tim wrote: 
“The true definition of a Friendly Face is Pastor Anna with Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. And I’m sure all members of her congregation would concur. She moved to Montana from the Tar Heel State four years ago. I’ve gotten to know Anna while we serve together on the board of Family Promise of Great Falls. Thanks for being a #FriendlyFace!”
Now, I have to admit I know I don’t always wear a friendly face. But I hope I’m most always friendly when I’m out and about. At the very least, a face folks see reflective of God’s love and grace. But then isn’t that what all of us should hope to reflect?!

Blessings.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Day #1796

December 1, 2018 

On World AIDS Day, this information about the number of people who live with this disease broke my heart. We pray today for all those, around the world, who suffer without the medicine and hope they need. We also pray for wisdom in ways to be supportive and life-giving to all. Amen. 
Nowadays, people affected by HIV/AIDS have access to more effective medications and their prognosis is far better than it was in the 1980s, at least in North America. Today 37 million people are living with HIV. All of them need access to life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, but only 16 million currently receive it. [This message was an excerpt from a Woman of the ELCA blog by Kate Elliott. Today is World AIDS Day. Download Women of the ELCA’s resource, “Women over 50 and HIV/AIDS.”]
Blessings.

Day #1795

November 30, 2018

If you happen to still be looking for an Advent devotion or discipline, these two ideas I just saw might be the thing. In fact, I strongly encourage the reading of a chapter of Luke every day until Christmas. No, I challenge us all to do this. Not only will we then be ready for celebrating the birth of our Savior, but for the upcoming church year of hearing from the Gospel of Luke.

 

Blessings on your upcoming Advent!! 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Day #1794

November 29, 2018

The November WELCA study in the Gather magazine called “Turn, turn, turn: A time for faithful repentance” by Meghan Johnston Aelabouni includes these two thoughtful paragraphs I felt a need to share and to ponder deeper:
The words of Ecclesiastes [3:1-15] (and the 1965 song by the Byrds) remind us, “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season…and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Life is rich, fragile, complex, limited, heartbreaking and beautiful, and all the seasons and situations of our lives do keep turning. We need a faith that fits the realities of the ever-turning world and human existence. We don’t need a God who gives us the grace our repentance earns, but who freely gives us the grace we need to repent in the first place and turn back to God. We need Jesus, who entered into the holy mess of human life to redirect it into God’s reign of love, justice, mercy and peace.  
This God is the one to whom people have turned (and turned, and turned) in every generation, the one to whom we can always humbly and boldly repent and return. This God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love” (Joel 2:13). This God is the heartbeat of the body of Christ in whom we all find a place. This God is the one who creates in us a clean heart and a renewed spirit. And this God is the risen Christ who holds our past, present and future together in the promise that all our turns will always, in the end, lead us to grace.
Blessings.

Day #1793

November 28, 2018

It’s Wednesday! And two comments today by our youth made me smile:
  1. At the end of the High School Youth gathering, one said, “If we could just do this every day.” I agree (if we could do so just a tad later in the morning - haha). 
  2. At the end of confirmation, another one said, “You mean it’s already over?” I took that to mean the time had been fun (and I’m hoping we learned something, too).
Wednesdays almost always make me smile - some weeks bigger than others. :-)

Blessings.

Day #1792

November 27, 2018 

One of the most precious and “holy ground” times I spend with folks as pastor is when we are planning for a funeral/memorial service for a loved one. It is an honor to be invited to walk with folks in this time, helping with making decisions, hearing stories about the deceased, learning about their lives and loves. 

When this happens, I am always reminded of how much easier this time can be when the deceased has made preparations ahead of their death. Decisions about scripture, music, and all the funeral plans (including burial/cremation desires) are made so much easier for the family when there is no question of what their loved one desired. So may I encourage us all to let those we love know what we hope for in our last days and in our death. It is a loving thing to do!

Blessings.

Day #1791

November 26, 2018

A prayer for this week:
Almighty God, as we near the season of Advent, preparing for the coming of Christ, may we wait with hope and work toward peace in our lives, community, and the world. Watch over our preparations and help our goals be life-giving and encouraging. Amen.
Blessings.

Day #1790

November 25, 2018

This Christ the King Sunday, we focused on what God’s Kingdom really looks like. How it’s different from the kingdoms of earth that fight and battle for control and importance. In God’s Kingdom, there is servanthood, caring, loving, forgiving, and giving. Just look at who is our true king!

So when I asked the kids what is something they would do if they were king and they answered in ways that show care for others, I was grateful! These kids are sooo awesome!

Blessings.

Day #1789

November 24, 2018 

On the heels of the “day” of Thanksgiving, this suggestion from Michelle Terry in the devotion d365 seems fitting:
Today, take a few minutes to write a “thank you” letter to God for all the great things God has done for you. Perhaps as you do, you will find yourself filled with joy. 
What would your letter to God include? 

Blessings.

Day #1788

November 23, 2018 

Saw this on FaceBook and it resonated with me. 


I enjoy putting puzzles together and have had the experience of a piece being missing from a box. But even with a piece missing, the puzzle can still be put together. The “picture” doesn’t seem quite complete, but it still works. 

Sometimes when we lose someone from our lives, whether by a broken relationship, through death, or through some other way, we feel a "piece" is missing. Our lives seem broken and unable to “work.” The good news is, however, God sees the big picture. God knows how to put the pieces together again, even guiding us to a change in the picture that we couldn’t see before, with new pieces that do “fit.” 

Thank you, God, for the pieces of our lives. Help us trust you to make certain all can and do fit as are needed.

Blessings.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Day #1787

November 22, 2018 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

There are so many things to be thankful for - a day set aside to focus on giving thanks, family and friends from near and far who keep in touch, excellent food, a worthwhile calling, and so many more. Most importantly, however, is the love, mercy and relationship our creator God provides for us through the life, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and being guided by the wisdom and comforter of the Holy Spirit. 

Prayers for you this Thanksgiving and every day! May you know that the love of God is with you, always. 

Blessings.

Day #1786

November 21, 2018

Tonight was the annual Joint Worship service for Thanksgiving. Several congregations came together to worship and give thanks, sing, pray, and enjoy a time of fellowship. 

There is much to be thankful for in this community and among these fellow Christians. And as we were reminded that being a Christian is not just about us individually, it is in coming together, working together and serving others together where I believe we find one of our greatest reasons to give thanks.

Blessings.

Day #1785

November 20, 2018 

I thought about my parents today. This would have been their 59th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary!  


Guess dad was nervous?! Maybe they both were - not really all smiles, are they? Oh well, I'm thankful they met and married, otherwise I may not have been here. 

Blessings.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Day #1784

November 19, 2018

A prayer for this week:
Almighty God, everything we have and everything we are comes from you. Accept our gratitude for loving us, creating us, and bringing us into relationship with you and one another. Give us hearts and hands that eagerly show our appreciation. Help us celebrate thanksgiving not only this week, but every day. Amen. 
Blessings.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Day #1783

November 18, 2018 

Another wonderful day of worship, with an addition. Today we celebrated God’s Work, Our Hands. A way for the “church” to practice going and serving. There were folks in other places who didn’t get in the picture, but these are a few of those hard at work, helping make a difference for others. 

We truly are blessed to be a blessing!

Blessings.

Day #1782

November 17, 2018

From one audience to another - today’s was Youth Orchestra. More amazing talent! It was wonderful to see so many of our “kids,” too! So proud of them all!!

Blessings.

Day #1781

November 16, 2018 

The word for the day - thankful. For some needed rest. And for an invitation to a youth’s play. Such talent! It was a joy to be among those in the audience! 

Blessings.

Day #1780

November 15, 2018

I saw this on FaceBook and it spoke to me. Perhaps you will find it helpful, also. I am blessed that others overlook so many of the mistakes I make. May I be as kind and accepting of the mistakes of others, too!


Blessings.

PS Edited 11-19-18 with a hopefully clearer image. Too important to miss because it's blurry. 

Day #1779

November 14, 2018 

As I mentioned to several folks, today marks four years since we blew into town to begin a new adventure in a new place. Four years seems like a long time ago, yet it also seems like just yesterday. I am thankful for these past four years, the folks who have come into my life and enriched it in so many ways, and I look forward to the years ahead. Thank you for welcoming me, trusting me, working with me, teaching me, laughing with me, challenging me, crying with me, and encouraging me! 

Blessings.

Day #1778

November 13, 2018 

The word for the day - thankful. For colleagues who gather to study, to struggle together in understanding scripture, to laugh with one another, and mostly to support one another. It is good to have such faithful co-workers in this odd and wondrous calling.

Blessings.

Day #1777

November 12, 2018

A prayer for the week:
Almighty God, as you call your people to love one another and serve others, we are reminded of the sacrifice so many make in order to do your work. Veterans and active service personnel, police, firefighters, and so many more seem to disregard their own safety to put others first. Watch over all those in harm’s way and, one day, bring an end to war. Amen. 
Blessings.

Day #1776

November 11, 2018

What a wonderful day - celebrating the blessing of those items in Day #1775 and a lunch special to help fund special ministries for our Human Concerns committee. Certainly a day to celebrate the freedom to worship - to live our lives - on the day we remember to show appreciation for all Veterans. Thank you for your service, your commitment and your lives of giving.

Blessings.

Day #1775

November 10, 2018 

Food sorting:


Quilts on the pews (sorry for the bad picture):


And school and care packets at the altar:


All ready to be blessed tomorrow and sent out. Thank you to all who contributed doesn’t seem to be enough. Just know you are making a difference in people’s lives!

Blessings.

Day #1774

November 9, 2018 

At the end of the day, several meals of vegetable beef soup are in the freezer. And the house smells soooo good! This happens once a year, and today was the day. Yum!

Blessings.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Day #1773

November 8, 2018

I had a striking example today of how NOT to be welcoming. After making a lovely visit in someone’s home at a multi-family complex, I came out to my car to find this taped to the window:


No signs in the parking lot advised me I was in the wrong spot. No numbers on the individual spots told me not to park there. No visitor parking signs at certain spaces or indicators there were none available. Was I frustrated? Oh, yes! When I called management to tell them so, they patiently explained parking has been a problem there for more than a decade. Really?! Why aren’t there signs? Well, no one has ever called to ask before. What!?!? Oh, well. Guess I learned my lesson. And hopefully how NOT to make someone else feel. 

Blessings.