Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Day #1519

February 27, 2018 

Not much brings a smile to my face quicker than a visit from an inquisitive child! Who’s that? That’s baby Jesus. What’s that? A fish that grows really big in water. What are those? M&Ms. And a smile and a “they’re my favorite,” which just means more opportunity to share. Just love it!

So with a renewed spring in my step for the day, I’m thankful for visits. Of all ages, by the way!!


Day #1518

February 26, 2018 

The prayer this day - for perseverance:
Almighty God, in the midst of this Lenten season, and in the midst of a dreary winter season, we seek your face to give us strength and courage to persevere in the journey. May you keep us from giving up or giving into being tempted to think you do not care. May you keep us looking always ahead to the rest of the story and the new life of spring. Thank you for being faithful with us in your love and grace and help us to see clearly all that you do for us. Amen. 

Day #1517

February 25, 2018

A busy Sunday makes me smile. Worship, Lenten study, talking about Holy Communion with kids, and a thoughtful and thought-filled play. Yes, a busy day, but that talking with kids about Holy Communion is awesome! And the play, well, it was inspiring to see so many folks there to support the writer and actors, and to be challenged to think outside the box. Well done!


PS The inspiration for the sermon from Day #1513 seemed to work out. There is no way to pick up the cross of Jesus without some pain, yet he is always, always with us in the midst of any difficulty. And Jesus is the one who ultimately takes the pain away through the promise of that cross. Thanks be to God!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Day #1516

February 24, 2018 

Seven months with us, today. Weighing in at over 70 pounds, Boomer is a big presence in this house. While he’s now over eight months old, there’s lots of puppy in this big guy. Sometimes more than my own level of energy seems able to handle. One thing is for certain, patience is required. Yep, my strongest quality - NOT! 

But then, how can you not love this face?!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Day #1515

February 23, 2018

Late last evening I heard from a friend who is lonely, far away from family and friends, and struggling. It was humbling for them to reach out to me to share their feeling. I’m so glad I was awake to respond and could even offer a suggestion for a point of connection with someone near them. 

I pray for my friend, and for all those who feel disconnected and sad. May there always be a voice, a text, an email response when someone reaches out, reminding them they really are not alone. And may the presence of the Holy Spirit surround all who struggle. 


Day #1514

February 22, 2018

Last evening was the first of our faith sharing as the Lenten weekly worship services. I took the opportunity to share some of my own story and four others will follow each Wednesday. After the service, I began to second guess the idea. I wondered, is this something that will really be helpful for folks?

So when the February 22nd “Daily Grace” devotion came from the Women of the ELCA, I was blown away. This is what it said:
The Bible records countless times crowds gathered around Jesus, and times when individuals came to learn from him and to be healed by him. How did they know to show up? They didn’t read a post about Jesus that went viral on social media. Jesus didn’t have flyers up in the local coffee shop. They likely showed up because someone they knew shared their story. We all have a story to tell about our encounters with Jesus. When we tell our stories, we strengthen and encourage those around us. And I believe we strengthen ourselves too. How has God called you to participate in God’s mission by sharing your faith story?  
My goodness. There you go - it is important to share our stories. Sometimes we are disciples, coming to Jesus to learn. And sometimes we are apostles, being sent out to share about Jesus and what our time with him has taught us. So while there will only be opportunity for a few to share this time, I’m looking ahead to ways even more might participate down the road. After all, like Tiffany C. Chaney wrote above, “we all have a story to tell” and it’s important we share them!


Day #1513

February 21, 2018

It may be a little thing that happens, one I simply overlook as a minor nuisance. A little cut on the finger, a splinter, an annoyance of an overlong stoplight - something that doesn’t seem very important at the moment and the day continues without thinking twice about it. 

But then later, out of the blue, a thought comes to mind - hey, wait a second, that little event could be a perfect illustration of what the gospel reading is about this Sunday. You are acutely aware the thought didn’t just come from your own mind, but that the Holy Spirit is helping. And for that, there is gratitude. 

We’ll see how the illustration plays out as the week continues, but for now, I’m inspired. 


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Day #1512

February 20, 2018 

Two consecutive days of mostly sunshine certainly can bring encouragement to a weary soul. And actually having daylight in which to leave for home at the end of the day is a glimmer of things to come when spring rounds the corner. 

Yes, there have been several laments recently from me about this winter season and its snow and cold. And while I do not mean to complain, it has been long and dreary. Mostly folks are hardy and have an enduring spirit, but a little extra sunshine certainly does help lighten the step.

Promise - I’ll try not to say anymore about winter 2017-2018, because we are grateful for the moisture. I just hope the thaw doesn’t come all at once. There’s a LOT of snow that will will be looking for somewhere to go. 


Day #1511

February 19, 2018

The subject on my heart for prayer today - health care workers:
Almighty God, healer of our every ill, thank you for those people you gift on earth to help us in our time of physical and emotional need. The hands and hearts of those who work in health care in any and all ways bring us comfort. And while we place our ultimate trust in you for healing, we also know medicine, surgery, and all forms of care aid the process. Bless those you call to be workers in the health care systems, granting them wisdom, strength and endurance in their vocations. Through Christ we pray. Amen. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Day #1510

February 18, 2018 

Ok, without snow (see the rant on Day #1509) I couldn’t have been left this delightful “snow” flower on my car.

Yes, there was more snow during worship time. Yikes!!! But it left a perfect canvas for one of the youth to gift me a flower. Thank you!!!

And there is more gratitude - for a great turnout for the study during this Lenten season about the Muslim Faith. Yes, there seems to be a healthy desire to learn more about our neighbors in faith. So thank you to the Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota for the information!


Day #1509

February 17, 2018

Just one word for the day - SNOW! More and more and more. It just seems to keep on coming.

And while I know the moisture is needed, and I'm thankful now and will be this summer, spring will certainly be welcome. As long as it doesn’t mean as much snow. :-)

Let’s see, I seem to recall someone saying there was only 6 more weeks of winter based on the groundhog’s prediction. Followed by “six weeks isn’t really that long, is it?” (see Day #1494). 

Ok, I give - what was I thinking?!?!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Day #1508

February 16, 2018

Each week I ask the kids if they would share a high and a low from their week. Sometimes I get - there’s no high or low, just kind of "steady." Today was that kind of day - nothing up or down, just even keel. 

I suppose there isn’t anything wrong with that. Every day can’t be stellar and thankfully not every day is horrible. So on a “steady” day I say, I’m grateful for the reminder that God loves me.

And I'm thankful for the time to remember some folks in prayer. And grateful for good outcomes of requests. 


Day #1507

February 15, 2018

Another deadly shooting at a school. Another deadly shooting, period. When will this end? When can or will we ever feel safe again? How did things get like this? Or has life always been this way, we just hear about it more often? Is there a way to improve things for future generations?

I don’t know about you, but it does seem that the warning signs of hopelessness and despair are ignored more often today. Perhaps folks make light of them, turn away from them, or just don’t know what to do with them. It also seems that overall we don’t know our neighbors and, in general, don’t want to become involved with what’s going on around us. You know, the thought that if I leave them alone, I hope they'll leave me alone. 

It’s frightening to me to think there were “warning signs” that may have gone unattended for this latest shooter. Am I missing something in someone around me? Do I, and others, need more training to watch out for one another? Do we simply need more nosey neighbors (I couldn’t get away with anything when I was a kid because someone was always watching)? Is there a deeper problem or issue in the world and we are only trying to find a way to address a symptom and not the disease?

All of those thoughts were swirling around when I read this in the “God Pause” devotion by Dave Scherer: "As James Baldwin said, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.""

And he also wrote: “We can now face the toughest challenges that our world faces knowing that we belong to God.”

How do we face the tough challenges of today? Through legislation? Through prayer? Through more restrictions and laws and monitoring? I wish I had an answer. I wish I had a way to comfort those who face unimaginable grief this day. I wish I had a way to reach out to everyone who feels violence is an answer to being bullied or ignored to let them know that there is another way - there is a Light that shines in the world that brings grace and unconditional love for everyone. I wish I knew how to heal the body, mind and soul of every hurting individual. I wish I could take away the fear and anger in the world. I wish I could instill more mercy and justice.

For now I wonder if we can face the challenges together and help bring healing? Somehow?! I believe we can, with God’s help. I do have hope, even in the midst of what seems like overwhelming discouragement.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Day #1506

February 14, 2018 

On this Valentine’s Day Ash Wednesday, the words spoken along with the imposition of ashes - remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return - sound much like God saying, remember that I love you, that I have claimed you and that you are mine. These are words of hope to remind us that no matter where we are, we are God’s and we are loved. 

So as our Lenten journey begins, my prayer is that this reminder of God’s love sustains us and that this season fills us with longing and intention to return to the Lord, our God, who is gracious and merciful.

Thanks be to God - and Happy Love Day!


Day #1505

February 13, 2018 

On the eve of the beginning of the Season of Lent, this prayer from Moravian Daily Prayer is a good one for the journey:
Let us remember that prayer is not always what you can do for us, but listening for what you desire us to do as a light unto this world. God we pray. Amen.
And thank you to the WELCA who provided an amazing pancake supper. Yum! and Fun!


Monday, February 12, 2018

Day #1504

February 12, 2018 

A prayer on my heart today:
Almighty God, one of the things humans have little to no control over is the weather. We are at the mercy of the wind and rain, snow and hail, sun and clouds, warmth and cold. While you promised by your covenant to never again destroy the earth by flood, at times it seems as though there is too much moisture - or as devastating, not enough. May we trust you to care for us in all the seasons and may we have the strength and stamina to withstand the cold and/or the heat. Lord, please also watch over all those who are unprotected or must work outside in brutal conditions. Through Christ we pray. Amen.

Day #1503

February 11, 2018 

I love the things children tell me on Sunday mornings. Things about their lives that are important to them (like potty training and new underwear!). It’s an honor to hear about their lives and their hopes...whatever they are.

Also, it’s wonderful to talk with young folks about celebrating Holy Communion for their first time. Why did we have to wait? What does it really mean? Does Jesus love us always? Great, thoughtful questions and wonderful conversation around the answers. 

Have I said lately that I love what I do?!


Day #1502

February 10, 2018

Time again for the annual Comfort Food Classic to benefit Family Promise of Great Falls. This year fourteen area restaurants donated their favorite comfort foods (lots of yummy pasta!) to compete for the coveted people’s choice award. And the winner - Morning Light Coffee who prepared mini-quiches and broccoli and cheddar soup. YUM!

Thanks to all who came out and enjoyed an evening to help end childhood homelessness, one family at a time.


Day #1501

February 9, 2018 

The word for the day - thankful. In fact, saying prayers of thankfulness for a procedure completed with good test results!!!



Day #1500

February 8, 2018 

I so enjoy Ladies: Let’s Do Lunch once a month Thursdays. Again, 14 of us gathered at a local restaurant for a great meal and wonderful fellowship with laughs and conversation. I’m thankful for those who braved snow and cold to come out. And look forward to next month, hoping for better weather and even more folks to join in. It’s a highlight!!


Day #1499

February 7, 2018 

It’s been a while since I have posted a picture of our Godson. Here is one I snagged of him already getting prepared for Easter by picking out his outfit. 

So handsome!!!!! And loved!!!!


Day #1498

February 6, 2018

After the reminder on Day #1496 of how important I believe it is to take care in how we speak to one another in this community of life, the daily study from Richard Rohr spoke volumes to me. He wrote:
How can we be peacemakers? It begins by being peace ourselves, by connecting with the source of peace within. It means standing up in nonviolent resistance to systems of injustice. It involves learning the skills of nonviolent communication and conflict resolution.
While I know he is talking about so much more important things than bulletin typos, nonviolent communication and conflict resolution begins by talking with one another, even when that is so very hard to do. But how we begin a difficult conversation really can set a direction for how it goes. With that in mind, may the source of peace, the Holy Spirit, always be my guide and my teacher!


Day #1497

February 5, 2018 

Taking a “day off” from work to get a start on putting together needed tax information, this prayer seems appropriate:
Almighty God, you are our Lord and King. Yet, we live in a nation of the world that is governed by those we elect to make decisions for others. May the decisions and policies elected officials make be ones of mercy, just behavior, and fairness for all, especially keeping in mind those without voice or influence. Thank you for those who speak out in truth, reminding others of their responsibility to care for the least, the lost and the lonely. This we pray through trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Day #1496

February 4, 2018 

Let me begin with the assumption it was meant to be helpful (I'll explain what "it" was in a moment). And perhaps I’m a little sensitive because I was once a church secretary and know how impossible it is for each letter, newsletter, bulletin, report, etc. to be flawless, but still hated having mistakes in what I produced. Or perhaps I am sensitive because I proofread almost everything that comes out of the office and also know I am not flawless and that I miss a few typos. But when a bulletin was left on the secretary’s desk with a typo circled and only the word typo written beside it, it made me sad. Not as sad there was a mistake as I was sad that a slightly different way wasn’t used to point it out. Here’s an example of what I would have loved to see written: you do so much work that comes out perfectly that I thought you might want to fix this. I’ve noticed it this way for a couple of weeks.

Again, I’m assuming it was meant to be helpful, but perhaps a reminder that we are all in this together, to be the best, do the best, live the best, and put others first the best we can would make a difference in how we “speak” to one another. Being a follower of Jesus and living in community is not a competition, it’s a partnership, especially living in the community of the church. 

Either way, I removed the bulletin from the secretary’s desk, made certain the “error” wasn’t repeated the next week, and will now get off my soapbox. And because I assume it was meant to be helpful (yes, I’m repeating myself), thank you for your time in so carefully reading the bulletin that you saw the error and pointed it out. 


PS By the way, I think this goes for all things in living in community, not just bulletins. How we "point out" things to others is important. Again, partnership - we're in this thing called life together. 

Day #1495

February 3, 2018

Something I enjoy is having folks share things with me that have special meaning for them. Whether it’s a book, a letter, an email, even a text message or simple comment, their sharing with me a moment of God’s love and grace touches my heart (it's probably a part of why I’ve been blogging for these several years - 1,495 days and still going). 

Anyway, a Christmas letter was shared with me on this day with a focus on Mary, mother of Jesus, and the inspiration of her hope in the midst of waiting. It was a beautifully crafted letter about prayer, treasuring things in our heart, and how her being sustained from Jesus’ birth to the cross and beyond is a help to the writer in the midst of today’s world. 

May you be lifted up by someone’s ability to craft a picture of God’s love and grace with words. There’s so many writers with that ability. Thank you to them all! And you just might be that person for someone else!


Saturday, February 3, 2018

Day #1494

February 2, 2018

Happy Groundhog Day!!! And the ‘official’ word is there will be six more weeks of winter. Maybe so, but I say only six more weeks!! As February gets going and daylight continues to last longer each day, hope (and faith) reminds us that spring is just around the corner. Six weeks isn’t really that long, is it?!


Day #1493

February 1, 2018

In a conversation with colleagues, it was exciting to dream big and have hope for how we might really do something big and special, together. Not certain where this might lead, or how, but the idea certainly sparked interest and optimism. And, I believe, that if it is meant to be, God will help us make it happen!


Day #1492

January 31, 2018 

How thankful I am for deep and holy conversations about darkness and light in the world, and ultimately the faith that Jesus has authority over the dark. Always! 

Come Lord Jesus and shine brightly in those places where darkness seems to rule. We need you!


Day #1491

January 30, 2018 

The word for today - thankful. For a dentist who takes time to care for someone who is hurting, yet not even their patient. Yes, a procedure hubby had didn’t leave him able to chew well, but the doctor was out of town and not available to fix the problem. So a dentist, not ours, was called on to smooth out the rough spots and solve the problem. 

We won’t ever forget the generosity of Dr. Martin - he didn’t even charge for helping. Wow!!! Now that’s generous! Thank you so much!! You're a life/eating gift!


Day #1490

January 29, 2018

On the heels of writing about being grateful for a healthy congregation and an upbeat annual meeting, I read of another place of worship from my past that has decided to sell its property and building. Oh, how I lament over the hours, the money, and the sweat and tears put into that building and that congregation by pastors, lay folks, the synod and the ELCA. My heart aches for these faithful people who have come to this realization, and I pray for God to lead them to their next step. Just because they lose a building doesn’t mean they lose their congregation! May that be so!

Therefore, on the heels of all this, my prayer for this week:
Almighty God, you call us into relationship with you and with one another. One way to do this is through a congregation. We know the church is the people you bring together to worship, learn, pray, and serve. However, we also know the congregation as the place from where we do these and where we find the gifts of friendship and family. Strengthen the congregations that are struggling to pay bills, find leaders, and make faithful decisions. Also, remind the congregations that seem blessed that their task is just as critical - to share your message and invite others into your presence. Thank you for the places to gather and for your presence in and among them. Amen. 

Day #1489

January 28, 2018

After weeks of planning and preparing and writing and meeting and, and, and, the time finally came for the annual congregation meeting. Time to approve the Spending Plan for the next year, to elect new council and other committee members, and to approve amendments to the constitution of the congregation. We were also blessed with an overage in contributions for 2017 and a decision on how to disburse those needed to be made. Lots to do. And yes, while the annual meeting happens every year, until it is over you never know exactly how things will go.

So how did it go? Wonderfully. Upbeat. Thankful. Grateful. Forward looking. Peaceful. May we always be as faithful!

And so I give thanks to God for these people and look forward to another year together. Where is God leading and guiding us? I pray we all listen to God’s guidance and are assured of God’s presence. We can’t do our ministry alone!