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. 


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!


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!


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!


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.


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. 


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!!


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!!


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.

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!


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. 

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!


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.


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.


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!


Day #1625

June 13, 2018

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


Day #1624

June 12, 2018 

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

Love you!


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. 

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!!!


Day #1621

June 9, 2018 

All the hard work to put together the rummage sale was rewarded by a successful day of sales, good weather, generous shoppers and even some laughter during the day. The proceeds go to a good cause, so there is that. 

Lots of tired folks to thank - you all rock!!!


Friday, June 8, 2018

Day #1620

June 8, 2018

It’s a beautiful day for walk - no matter who/what you are .


P.S. Afternoon update - it's a good day for ride, too. Even if it is to a follow-up appointment at the vet. It was Boomer's first time in my car - and the first time for me taking him somewhere by myself. I would say it was a success - he was a good boy, and I think he enjoyed the ride, all things considered. 

Day #1619

June 7, 2018 

They say that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Well, if that’s the case, there is a LOT of treasure to be found at the upcoming Rummage Sale at the congregation. Several folks unpacked and sorted and began to ready items for the sale on Saturday from 8:00 - 1:00. If you’re nearby, come and see. All the proceeds go to a good cause. And there will certainly be some good buys!

Also, thank you so much to all who contributed items, who helped sort (hard workers), and to those who will come and see what they might want to have as their own.


Day #1618

June 6, 2018 

The diversity in the midst of a day can be amazing: Bible Study, conversations, paperwork, prayer, reading, reassuring, laughing, sharing, writing, learning… One thing, this vocation is never boring!

Also, today would have been my grandma’s 114th birthday. How can that be?!?! And how can it be that it’s been over 30 years since I hugged her!? I still miss her every day! (See Day #157 for more about my grandma).


Day #1617

June 5, 2018

Today I am thankful for two things - hearing from an old friend/colleague and that there are electronic methods for doing so. It is a good thing that the family of God means connections continue no matter the distance of time or place. It is also a good thing that staying in touch can be done easily. And pictures are always fun to see!

Can I make a recommendation - don’t forget to keep in touch with folks. It means a lot!!


Monday, June 4, 2018

Day #1616

June 4, 2018 

The prayer for this week - for summer:
God of the seasons, thank you for the joys of summer - sunshine, long daylight hours, vacation, time off from school, and a somewhat slower pace. Watch over those who travel during this time of year, give rest to those who are weary, hope to those who see no way to rest, and grant favorable weather for the growing season. Amen.

Day #1615

June 3, 2018

Yesterday I mentioned that each day is one of blessing. Today was no exception! This picture says it all. As one person commented - pure joy. 

These are four of the newest members of God’s family, welcomed today through baptism. What a privilege to walk with them all in this moment of time. Thanks be to God!


Day #1614

June 2, 2018

Part of the Assembly included the dedication of the new Synod House, an office building extraordinaire. A year ago, we gathered in this spot to break ground. Now, the building is mostly complete and has become a beautiful, welcoming space. 

The mayor dropped by to give words of welcome and blessing. 

We sang, we prayed, and we toured. This photo is the finished room where our youth gathered last summer to help build the walls (see Day #1330) Pretty cool.

And as I made my way through the offices and spaces, I said a prayer for the work that will happen there. May God bless each and everyone who gathers here or works to help build the kingdom.

Oh, and at the evening's banquet there was a recognition of my anniversary this September - 10 years of ordained ministry. Each day has been, and continues to be, one of blessing and intersection. Life is amazing!!!


Day #1613

June 1, 2018 

Following an afternoon and next morning of Continuing Education learning about safe and appropriate boundaries, I was off to our annual Synod Assembly. Busy times! But thankful ones as I look around at the faces of colleagues and friends who support and encourage. What would we do without one another? 


Day #1612

May 31, 2018

Just this today, the Moravian Daily Prayer:
Merciful God, forgive us for the times we have neither heard the cries of the needy, nor loved our neighbors. Take away our self-absorption and give us ears to hear, hands to help and hearts that love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Good prayer! Really good prayer!


Day #1611

May 30, 2018

As the time together came quickly to a close, another car trip and airplane ride(s) take me home. It is fun, however, to watch others in the airports - those who simply endure their time there, those who seem to enjoy it, those who look like they are headed for vacation, those who appear to be headed to difficult places/events. So many faces, with just as many stories to go with them, I imagine. Amazing!

But I will have to say this - there is very little “personal” space on an airplane. It puts new meaning to the lament of children in the back seat of a car crying out, he’s touching me!! Flying makes me regret those extra pounds I carry - if I could just be skinnier maybe I wouldn’t impose myself into the seat next to me. But, the reverse applies, too. How did I pull the short straw that had me sitting next to very large people on all four flights?!?! Oh well, it’s worth a little discomfort, I suppose, to get there. 

I know it was!


Day #1610

May 29, 2018

Today I am grateful for many things. 
  • Airplanes that make travel across hundred of miles possible in a quick manner. 
  • Homes where there is peace. 
  • Hugs with friends when it has been WAY too long. 
  • Caregivers who really do care, who are strong and compassionate, and make life a little easier for those suffering. 
  • Conversations that honor the situation, yet are filled with hope and promise, and where pretense does not exist. 
  • God’s promise to always love us and care for us, in this life and forever. 
  • Dogs who crawl up next to you and let you pet and love them. 
  • Laughter. 
  • Tears. 
  • Writers who put into words the words you can’t seem to find, and then make it to the “big” screen so you can watch and cry and laugh together.
  • But mostly, the opportunity to participate in the blessed, thin veil time between this life and the next. 
While my heart breaks, it also soars. All will be well. All is well. 


Day #1609

May 28, 2018 

As we celebrate another Memorial Day, a prayer for this week:
God of peace and life, thank you for those who have sacrificed their lives, both partially and fully, to help protect and defend our nation. Be with their families and friends who grieve the changes that war brings. One day, dear Lord, bring the peace we so desperately seek, that the need for weapons and war would cease and all would find the way to live together in harmony, as you do in the blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Day #1608

May 27, 2018 

I had the privilege to attend one of the city's High School graduations where two of our congregation's youth have completed their first phase of education. 

While sitting there, I couldn’t help but think of my own High School classmates who will soon gather to celebrate a milestone anniversary of our graduation (I won’t be able to attend). I can almost - ALMOST - remember how I felt that day, with the world as an open book and the possibilities limitless. I had no idea the ways my path would twist and turn, the people I would meet who would become as much or more important than anyone I had known thus far, even though I thought these classmates were the center of the world. Important folks, certainly, but not the most important ones. 

Today, however, I wish congratulations to all who graduate from High School this year. There are many from across the country, too, who are in my heart and prayers. You will all change the world and the world will change you. But remember the most important thing - you are never alone. God is with you. Always!