Saturday, January 26, 2019

Day #1852

January 26, 2019 

This picture by itself might just speak those thousand words - it’s Boomer in his happy place. By the fire. 



Day #1851

January 25, 2019

The Cluster (the term for the ELCA congregations located in a specific area or region) gathered tonight for our annual dinner. We generally have this gathering around Christmas, but this year we met during the time after Epiphany, thinking there might be less “busyness” so that more could attend. Unfortunately, many of our colleagues were unable to be there due to weather and other events happening. We certainly missed them. However, it was enjoyable for the pastors, lay pastors and spouses who came together to share a meal and fellowship. Already looking forward to the next time.


Day #1850

January 24, 2019 

We were fortunate to be gifted tickets to a wonderful concert: Tapestry: The Carole King Songbook. Performer Suzanne O Davis and her colleagues took us through much of Carole King’s music, including this iconic album (thankfully in our collection) and songs she and her partners wrote for dozens of other performers. 

Thank you for a fun evening reminding us of our youth and the great pop music we enjoyed then - and still do. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Day #1849

January 23, 2019 

We just found out our High School breakfast spot is closing. This morning the owner told us it was a decision that was tough to make, but necessary. When the youth heard the news, one had an insight that touched my heart. The observation was something like: this must be really hard to still be here, knowing you are closing. 

What a compassionate understanding of the plight of such a kind couple! Yes, I said, having been in a similar situation, it is hard. Making the decision is excruciating, but working until the end is even harder. Taking on other people’s sadness, trying to keep smiling and serving, and grieving over unrealized dreams is beyond hard. I’m so proud of this teen for recognizing this. Amazing, isn’t it!?


Day #1848

January 22, 2019

Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture comes from 1 Corinthians 12:18: But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. (NRSV)

Have you noticed how “people watching” comes as almost second nature at an airport. It is one place where so many diverse folks come together that watching them or observing them can hardly be avoided. It was at one of those times I said to my husband, isn’t it amazing that each person can look so different when almost everyone has the same basic parts - two eyes, two ears, one mouth, one nose, and some hair. How is it that God has arranged these few features in such vastly different ways on all the millions of people? I mean, this certainly cannot be something that happens by accident! 

In 1 Corinthians Paul says almost exactly what I was thinking - God arranged the members in the body - for a specific purpose. Each body part works in conjunction with the others and each has its own purpose for the good of all. Paul then continues to talk about the church in a similar fashion. God brings the members together, each with a purpose and function that benefits the whole, in order to help build up the Body of Christ. 

It is good to remember that God’s hand is in the details. Also, that God’s hand is in our bodies and God’s hand is in the church. What a blessing! What a gift! Thanks be to God. Amen.


Day #1847

January 21, 2019

I have a confession. At nearly the first thing our speaker said at the monthly Young at Heart program, my mind wandered. What did he just say? This man who was born in 1944 in a concentration camp just said he was grateful for that experience. Surely he’s kidding! But then I heard him say something like: without that experience, I wouldn’t be here with you today. 

Now I was thinking about some of my own experiences. Each one, the good ones and the challenging ones, has somehow contributed to where I am, and where my husband and I are, today. Perhaps at the time I wondered if we would survive. Sometimes I wondered how I could possibly use the experience’s lesson at a later time (and maybe I haven’t yet), but yet each event leaves a mark that contributes to the whole. 

I hope I remember his comment the next time something happens that makes me wonder what in the world is going on. First I hope to be thankful for the experience, and then to trust it’s just a part of the whole of my life, helping mold me into who God wants me to be. 


Day #1846

January 20, 2019 

So I wanted to give a follow-up on the “gift card” idea for the Children's Message. One of the youth told me after I handed their card to them, “I don’t want this one.” Ok, I said, how about this one, and I handed them a card with a gift I also thought appropriate for them. 

It was then I thought about how “real” this response was. God places gifts in us, but we may think we do not want them. Not this gift, God. Please, I want something else - how many of us have had those type of thoughts. After all, that’s some of what the Tuesday Thoughts on Scripture (see Day #1841) was about. 

Yet, with time, we may come to be as thankful for the gift we were given as we were hesitant about it at first. Guess God knows best after all, right?!


Day #1845

January 19, 2019

As I prepared for the Children’s Message for tomorrow, the thought of giving each child a “gift card” came to mind. The idea was to prepare a note that said on the outside “You have the gift from God for…” and on the inside was the gift. As I prepared these, I thought of each child who usually comes forward and the gift I see in them. I took extra care to consider what they might not see in themselves, but that I see in them. And that it was something I believed God had placed in them. 

This is similar to something others have done for me, and I am grateful for their help. My prayer - may each and every child (and adult) know they are special and gifted because of how God created them. Amen!


Day #1844

January 18, 2019 

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity runs from January 18-January 25. An ecumenical book of devotions prepared by several different denominations begins with this from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of The Episcopal Church:
“Even though you offer me your burnt-offerings and grain-offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings the forty years in the wilderness,  O house of Israel?” (Amos 5:22–25) 
Worship is worthless... if it is not accompanied by earnest words and genuine acts of justice.  
Worship is worthless... if we present our religious sacrifices week after week while allowing others around us to continue to be sacrificed on the altars of greed and power and prejudice.  
Worship is worthless... if we close our eyes and ears and hearts to the poor, the oppressed, and the helpless.  
This is what the prophet Amos was talking about when he shared God’s warning to the religious people of his time: “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.”  
This is what the writer of First John 4:20 was talking about when he challenged some of the earliest members of the Jesus Movement: “For those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen.” 
This is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about when he proclaimed, “No, no, we are not satisfied, and will not be satisfied, until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  
Worship – our worship – is only truly good, truly worthy, when we choose to do what Paul urged the Christians in Rome to do: “to present our bodies as a living sacrifice.” These hands we use to worship are heaven-sent. In the words attributed to Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours; yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.”  
This is true religion. This is worship worthy of our loving, liberating, and life-giving God.  
Let us pray: O God of justice and compassion, by your Spirit help us who dare to follow Jesus to see you in the faces of all those we meet, and to respond faithfully. Through Jesus Christ our Savior, who came not to be served, but to serve. Amen.
May our prayer be for there to be unity in the church, not only this week, but always. Amen!


Monday, January 21, 2019

Day #1843

January 17, 2019

As a follow-up to Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture, this seems worthy of sharing. 

It is amazing that each individual’s fingerprints are different. How could that be a simple coincidence? I personally don’t think it could be anything other than God creating each of us as individuals, yet having a particular place in God's Kingdom. Thanks be to God!


Day #1842

January 16, 2019 

The confirmation class had quite the treat in hearing from two active missionaries currently serving in the country of Kyrgyzstan. It was wonderful to hear of this couple’s journey with the folks there, how they help care for the whole person (physical, mental, and spiritual), and the joy they receive from the people they serve for and with. It was also heartwarming to hear the questions our youth asked them. Clearly they were interested and listening well, which made an impression on the adults attending. I’m so proud of our youth! And thankful for folks willing to serve as missionaries. 


Day #1841

January 15, 2019 

Today’s Tuesday Thoughts on Scripture comes from 1 Corinthians 12:4-6: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. (NRSV)

Surely you are kidding me, God. Surely you know I fear speaking in front of folks. Surely you know I have no confidence in my ability to get a message written, much less give it to others much older and more learned than I am. What in the world can I say that will matter? Why would I even want to do something like this? 

I remember thoughts like these going through my mind the first time I was asked to give a talk during a Via de Cristo retreat. Via de Cristo is another name for Cursillo, a 3-day intensive retreat designed for learning more about discipleship and/or being a Christian. There are several talks during the weekend that are given by laypeople and pastors, then discussion happens at a table of peers. 

I was the youngest person by far, barely in my 20s, at the retreat where I gave my first talk and I was scared to death. Knowing that folks were praying for me during the entire 10 minutes or so helped, but not much. What kind of gift had God given me that made this possible, or should I say necessary? 

Many years later, after dozens of talks and sermons, I do believe God has given me a gift for speaking. It is certainly not something I recognized in my younger self, but others saw it and teased it out. I am grateful for that. But that is only one gift. There are others that God gives to other folks, but the common good of the community is built-up when we all share the gifts God gives us individually. Paul knew this and these verses from one of his letters to the Corinthians spells it out. 

Thank you, God, that you have placed gifts in each of us and know how we can use them to help spread your Good News!


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Day #1840

January 14, 2019 

Mid-January means finishing up the congregation’s annual report. If you have ever been involved in gathering information from several different folks, placing it into a similar format, trying to proofread it all, and then getting it printed, you have an idea what this week might look like for me and the Parish Administrator. All I can say is…YIKES! And that I am praying for all to go smoothly. 


Day #1839

January 13, 2019

The word for the day - thankful. I am thankful for young adults who have a passion for kids and teaching them about God. Thank you to Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp and their Outreach program that regularly sends a counselor or counselors to spend time with the kids of the congregation and beyond. I am thankful they learn and that I always do, too!


Day #1838

January 12, 2019 

On another beautiful day, what a joy to get things accomplished. Slowly checking off that end-of-the-year/beginning of a new year list. Yay!

Then, playing along with the FaceBook challenge to show how much you’ve aged since you created a profile, I thought showing our Godson’s growing up in these last 5 years (yep, FIVE years!!) of blogging would be way more fun.

This is the first picture I found that I posted of him in 2014.

And this is the last one posted - just a few days ago for his 8th birthday. 

You are certainly growing up handsomely and we love you lots!


Saturday, January 12, 2019

Day #1837

January 11, 2019

The word for the day - typical. A typical day off with errands and appointments and laundry and housework and time with the hubby and petting/playing with the dog and.... Yes, a typical day off. A delightful day with beautiful weather - sunny, warm, and only a little wind - nice enough to grill out on the deck. Remind me again, this is January, right?! 


Day #1836

January 10, 2019

Today is Simon’s 8th birthday. Along with this picture from his momma, I also share the post she put on FaceBook:
8 years ago I woke up knowing today would be the day I’d become a momma and my biggest life dream would come true. Simon Hunter you have changed my world. You are smart, witty, patient, dedicated and caring. You have one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. You love all things Pok√©mon and music. You love God and church. You are an amazing big brother. And it seems like you never sleep. I’m so lucky that God chose me to be your earthly momma. Every single day you amaze me and teach me new things. I can’t wait to see where the world takes you! (Right now to be an engineer and a church organist!) Happy Birthday Bug! I love you so! 
Simon, we are thankful we are your Godparents! And we love you!!


Day #1835

 January 9, 2019 

Someone recently died who my husband knew from High School (he graduated with his sister). His name is Logie Meachum, and it seems Logie made quite an impact on many people. He loved to sing and tell stories, and teach. And his manner for doing so brought many accolades from others. 

In an article written as a tribute to Logie, he was quoted as saying: “..listen more carefully to the divine whisper. God can do much with a willing spirit.”

Good words! Good advice! Rest in peace, Logie. I’m sad I didn’t know you.


Day #1834

January 8, 2019

This year, instead of a prayer for the week on Monday, I’m planning a Tuesday Thoughts on Scripture. The idea is a devotion type writing on a verse or verses from the upcoming Sunday’s scripture. We begin…

Isaiah 43:1: But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (NRSV)

When I was a little girl, the way parents in our neighborhood called for their children meant stepping out the back door and “hollering.” Each parent had a distinctive way of calling, and of course, each child had their own name. One neighbor called her son, Brian, using a long and loud - Brriiiiiiiaaaaaan, taking what sounded like three or four syllables instead of the usual two. We all knew this meant Brian better get to the house, NOW! Something important was happening - lunch, dinner, bedtime, time to go somewhere, or maybe time to be scolded for not doing chores or homework. It was hard to know if the “calling” was good or bad, but it meant step to it!

In a somewhat similar way, the Lord calls us. The Lord who claims us, uses our names, but gives us new ones. When the Lord calls, it is because we are children of God, created and beloved by God. The Lord knows us individually and loves us equally, so when the Lord calls, there is no need to fear or hesitate or argue or wonder why. The Lord calls us out of love and out of being created in God’s image. We are God’s and are all welcomed, unconditionally, because of the Lord’s love for us. 


Day #1833

January 7, 2019 

Sometimes things just don’t work out. Expectations are high, hopes are built-up, the result would have been an easy answer, but then things change and the end is disappointing. It is in those times that I try to remember that God knows the bigger picture and something even more “right” will come along. It will mean more work, more prayer, more hoping and seeking, but tomorrow is another day and another opportunity. Fingers crossed for the next time! 


Day #1832

January 6, 2019

Instead of a Simon says, today is a Simon does. Yes, he’s learning to play the organ (even if the video doesn’t play, that’s him at the keyboard with little brother watching).

Being a church organist might just be in his future. Who knows!


Saturday, January 5, 2019

Day #1831

January 5, 2019

On the twelfth day of Christmas, time spent catching up on twelve days of Daily Intersection reminds me what a joy this Christmas season has been. Worship, laughter, tears, visits, food, hugs, song, prayer, lights, gifts, love…oh, so much to be thankful for! May the gift of this season, the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and the gift of friends, family and relationship carry us through each and every day of the year(s) ahead. The Lord bless and keep us all! Amen.  


Day #1830

January 4, 2019 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, eleven colleagues gather for dinner and conversation, along with spouses and friends. This is an annual tradition and is always a good way to bring an (almost) end to the Christmas season and begin a new year. I am thankful for these folks (and others since not all were able to attend) who walk with me in this journey of faith, teach me, challenge me, listen, comfort and pray with and for me. You are a gift!


Day #1829

January 3, 2019

On the tenth day of Christmas, ten reasons to give thanks (in random order):
  1. Prayer!
  2. Visits
  3. Conversation with others
  4. Time with my hubby
  5. Laughter
  6. Our dog
  7. The faith others have and share
  8. Friends
  9. Family
  10. Learning

Day #1828

January 2, 2019 

On the ninth day of Christmas, following 8 days of vacation, there must be 9 million things to do. Haha! 

Oh, how good it is to be back!!!


Day #1827

January 1, 2019 

On the eighth day of Christmas, and the first of the New Year (Happy New Year, one and all!), eight hopes for 2019: 
  1. An increased awareness of the love God has for all of creation
  2. New friendships and strengthened “old” friendships
  3. Seeing God’s presence more clearly every day
  4. Guidance in work and play, office and home
  5. Strength of body, mind and spirit
  6. Less worry and more trust
  7. More willingness to share from the bounty God provides
  8. Saying more often: thank you, I’m sorry, I love you, we can do this

Day #1826

December 31, 2018

On the seventh day of Christmas, we are traveling again - this time back home. We certainly wish there had been more time to see everyone in NC we would have liked to, but hopefully next time. 

So on this final Monday, and day, of 2018, a seven-word prayer for the week, 2019 and beyond:
Gracious God, help us share your love. Amen. 

Day #1825

December 30, 2018 

On the sixth day of Christmas, and the last at the coast, something I have always wanted to see - wild horses on one of the coastal islands. Carrot Island is one of the homes to wild horses, and we were fortunate to catch a glimpse of some of them just before checking out of the room. 



Day #1824

December 29, 2018 

On the fifth day of Christmas, five hours or so of driving allowed us to see more family, share more hugs and love, remember and celebrate the life of a beloved cousin, sister, daughter, wife, and friend, then end the day with more of those favorite foods - 5 delicious oysters (plus a few). 

A beautiful day!


Day #1823

December 28, 2018

On the fourth day of Christmas, a reminder that our relationship began here in NC. These four lilies are like ones used in our wedding flowers, especially my bouquet. 

Rather surprising to see them this time of year. Maybe they were here just for us. :-)


Day #1822

December 27, 2018 

On the third day of Christmas, Krispy Kreme - some of those favorite foods I mentioned, enjoyed where they began!!! 

And spending time with loved ones - priceless!


Day #1821

December 26, 2018 

On the second day of Christmas, two weary travelers. All day travel tends to make one a little goofy, and tired, even in the midst of excitement.

And the family, oh were they surprised!! Hugs and tears of joy abound!


Day #1820

December 25, 2018 

On the first day of Christmas, we began the day early by traveling to North Carolina, looking forward to surprising some family, eating some favorite foods, and finding a little rest and relaxation. 

It was hard to believe the number of folks who were traveling by plane on Christmas Day. With our three different flights, this picture shows the busyness at just one of the airports. 

Today we give thanks for those who work this holiday, the many wishes of Merry Christmas and smiles they gave, and the invention of the type of travel that allows us to see family at this time of year. 

Merry Christmas to all! Blessings.

Day #1819

December 24, 2018 

A prayer on Christmas Eve for the week that includes Christmas Day and the beginning of the season:
Almighty and Loving God, thank you for all the gifts you give to your creation. Water, air, land, creatures, love, relationship, food, shelter, forgiveness…the list goes on and on. But on this eve of the celebration of the birth of Jesus, thank you for the gift of Light. The Light of the World, Jesus the Christ, is the greatest and most mysterious gift of all. Open our eyes and hearts to this amazing gift and what he has to teach us. Amen.