Monday, February 25, 2019

Day #1882

February 25, 2019

Saw this today and think it says it all about how folks feel around here these days:


Day #1881

February 24, 2019 

We finally got back into our fellowship space after the redecorating, just in time for a farewell/shower for our Parish Administrator. Her last day is Thursday (not a day I personally am looking forward to) and it is coming quickly. So we celebrated her three years with us, and wished her well as she waits for her twins to be born. Perhaps she said it best (and I paraphrase), I came here thinking this would just be a job, but you all have become like family. 

So true. And we will surely miss her!


Day #1880

February 23, 2019

There is one word that applies to the last few weeks, and it’s a four-letter one: S-N-O-W!! Well, maybe two words, snow and another four-letter one: C-O-L-D. 

It just seems to keep coming, and coming, and coming, and coming, without a break. Can we say folks here have cabin fever and are a tad ready for a break!?!?


Day #1879

February 22, 2019 

I spent the day at my second Synod Council meeting, hearing about the work of the church. There is much that is accomplished and wonderful to learn more about the things God is doing. But there are also challenges, especially since funds alway seem to be tight. 

Ultimately, the question remains, what is God up to in the world and how is God calling us to respond? The answers may not be as we expect, either. Hmm...


Day #1878

February 21, 2019 

What a fun time I had this morning. I was invited to share with a group about my faith story and how I was led to becoming a pastor. I must admit I don’t always enjoy talking about myself, but when it comes to telling the story of how God has worked in my life through others, that is an exception. This audience was welcoming, kind, attentive and asked great questions. It was fun remembering and sharing. Thank you for the invitation!


Day #1877

February 20, 2019 

It wasn’t pretty, losing my cool. It never is. Nor am I proud of spouting off and voicing my frustration over lots of little things that piled up to send me “over the edge.” But it happened. I am just thankful that the folks who heard me seemed to understand. And, that after the study time was over, I felt much better having spent time in the Word of God. I was ready to face the rest of the day.

So thank you, ladies, for listening. And for understanding!!


Day #1876

February 19, 2019 

Today’s Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture comes from Genesis 45:8a: So it was not you who sent me here, but God. (NRSV)

As the story unfolds, Joseph had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. They had let their father think the favored child, Joseph, was killed by wild animals. But Joseph fared much better than his brothers ever thought he would - he prospered and grew into a prominent position in the home and reign of the Pharaoh. So when famine came and Pharaoh was the one with food that the brothers needed to purchase in order to stay alive, they run into Joseph. When Joseph tells them who he is, because they don’t recognize him at first, they nearly shiver in fear. What will Joseph do to them to retaliate?

In a surprising twist for the brothers, Joseph responds with words and actions of forgiveness. Joseph believes it was ultimately not the brothers who sent him into Pharaoh’s home, but God. And because of God’s faithfulness, Joseph is now in a position to help many, including his family. 

Sometimes we make decisions or do things that put others in jeopardy, perhaps even change their lives beyond what we imagine possible. And what we expect is retaliation, as did Joseph’s brothers. How amazing that Joseph instead saw the hand of God in the midst of the tragedy and the blessing that came from it. Can God turn around every situation? Well, I suppose that depends on our perspective. Yet every situation in my life thus far has shown God bringing something positive from a difficulty, even when I haven't recognized it at first. For this I am grateful, because otherwise, where would there be hope in the midst of tragedy?


Day #1875

February 18, 2019 

The word for the day - thankful. Mostly today, however, for friends who arrived safely from a long trip away. Well, and we also appreciate that they thought of us with gifts:

(The handmade bowl is gorgeous and the candy in it delicious!)


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Day #1874

February 17, 2019 

Today I want to give a shout out to my patient and kind husband. As I type, he is outside digging out a friend’s car from the snow. That is after he helped me try to divert a leak at the congregation, listened quietly to me be grumpy about the snow and cold, tried to fix what we think is a plugged roof vent at home (yikes!), and generally tried to make me smile. 

Can I say enough that I appreciate him?! Nope! I just hope he knows that I do!


Day #1873

February 16, 2019 

This is not a person. Nope, it is the grill on our deck just outside the backdoor. And, yes, that's pretty much all snow piled up on the top - the grill doesn't have a very large hump. And, yes, in case you're wondering, the whole thing is nearly as tall as me!!!

So instead of "rain, rain go away," I have composed a "new" song: Snow, snow, go away, and bring some warmer temps today! 

Who's ready to sing it with me? 


Day #1872

February 15, 2019

Finally! The high temperature rose into the double digits (albeit barely)! Yet, it was still a good day to get out and about. And enjoy seeing the beauty of the river at one of the dams.


Day #1871

February 14, 2019

Love, God! 


Day #1870

February 13, 2019 

We had a treat in confirmation class tonight. One of the students brought home-baked (by her) Valentine’s cookies. How generous! How thoughtful! What a sweet treat! Thank you so much - they were delicious!

Have I mentioned what a joy it is to be with these kids each week?! 


Day #1869

February 12, 2019 

Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture comes from Jeremiah 17:7: Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. (NRSV)

Trust is defined as: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Have you ever played the game where you close your eyes and fall backward, trusting that your teammates will catch you? I really stink at that game. I have a fear of falling, and trusting someone to catch me that I cannot see takes me to the brink of panic. Yet, when I have been able to overcome that fear and rejoiced that someone does “have my back,” so to speak, I am filled with gratitude for them. 

Therefore, to realize that the Lord deserves our trust, has our back, will never falter in watching out for us and being there for us, gives me great joy. To think that the Lord is that truth, that strength, also gives me pause. For when I think of being blessed in the sense that the Lord’s face is turned toward me, what more could I hope for? What more do I need? 

Each of us has a firm belief in something. My prayer is that my firm belief is and always will be in the Lord! 


Day #1868

February 11, 2019

Who would have thought there would be such excitement generated in me about getting a handicap door opener installed? Having spent time on crutches and tried to open doors, hold them, get inside and not fall, I understand the challenge. So when an unexpected gift was given to the congregation, and it was decided to spend it on getting an auto door opener, I was thrilled. Can’t wait for the job to be finished and we can really start using this new addition!

Yes, sometimes it really is the “little things.”


Day #1867

February 10, 2019 

The word for the day - thankful! 

This time I am grateful for camp counselors and staff who make the trek to share their passion with folks and inspire special offerings for camp scholarships. Who then spend an hour and a half with youth to teach, play, and help them learn about the love and grace of Jesus. I’m also thankful for the vision of folks from many years ago who helped provide a place apart in this state, and many others, so young folks would have the opportunity to go to camp. 

Thank you, FLBC, for coming and may your ministry, and all who benefit from it, be blessed!


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Day #1866

February 9, 2019

So Boomer has a new cousin and nephew. Welcome home River (blond, cousin) and Boone. 

Feel the puppy love!


Day #1865

February 8, 2019

Does embracing the season mean “stay home as much as possible and get some extra rest?” If so, I’m certainly embracing well. ;-)


Day #1864

February 7, 2019 

On a normal day in the middle of a cold and snowy snap in the season of winter, conversation and planning continues. Spring, and Lent, will come - eventually. Yay!


Day #1863

February 6, 2019

On a really cold (below 0 temps) and snowy day, the hearty gather to learn and discuss and fellowship in several groups. What an inspiration! And a witness - to me and others.


Day #1862

February 5, 2019 

Today’s Thoughts On Scripture is based on Isaiah 6:5: “And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (NRSV)

What has occurred to me is that this person feels doomed and hopeless because he feels he is unclean, unworthy, maybe even unloved. He also feels, or maybe is even afraid, that the people who surround him are the same - unclean and thereby doomed and hopeless. And yet, he realizes there is hope - he has seen the King, the Lord. And the good news is found in the Lord, God, where there is unconditional love and acceptance. 

And he responds as his vision continues in verses 6-8: "Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the LORD saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!”"

What a response - I will go, I will share the message, I will respond. Songwriter John Michael Talbot wrote a song about this response called “Here I am, Lord.” The chorus goes, Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night. I will go Lord. If You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.” I cried the first time I heard this (and often still do) because I wondered, IS it I, Lord, you want to send? What can I do, small as I am? And I pondered, is God calling me to ministry? The answer was yes, in many and varied ways, only one of which was as a pastor. ALL ways God calls us is to ministry - to hold God’s people in our hearts, pray for them, love them, serve them, and show/tell them about God. Thank you, God, live coal to my lips or not! 


Day #1861

February 4, 2019 

Today is World Cancer Day. Sadly! Because what a wonderful thing it would be if there were no more cancer and this day would not be necessary! 

But until then, what we can offer is prayer: for all those who are in the midst of the battle (and isn’t "battle" an appropriate term!); for all those who have come through the battle and are resting in the joy of healing and health; for all those who know someone - a friend or loved one - who is or has been affected and stand by their side through it all; and especially for all those who now rest in the arms of Jesus, whose cancer seemed to get the best of them and they did not survive this life. I venture most of us know someone(s) in each situation and who we pray for, or have prayed for, regularly.

There are so many types of cancer, much uniqueness to the disease, and so many differing responses to hearing the diagnosis. Some put on their gloves and fight hard, some try to fight but don’t have the resources, some gather an army around them and some suffer alone as much as possible. And no one probably really knows how they will react until, and unless, cancer affects them. But whatever the situation, please know prayers are with you, and you are really not alone! Ever!


Day #1860

February 3, 2019 

Well, it seems winter has definitely settled in. We had such a mild beginning to the season that many of us were hoping the snow and cold would simply pass us by. Well, not so much! When winter finally did come, seems it was really angry. ;-) 

Well, as my dear husband has said to me more than once, embrace it, dear, embrace it. And be thankful for the moisture. :-) Oh, and be thankful for those who don’t let some snow and cold keep them from worship! Please, however, be safe!


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Day #1859

February 2, 2019

Today, something just for fun as copied from FaceBook:
Every answer must start with the first letter of your middle name (and no cheating by using Google or a dictionary): 
Middle name: Marie
Animal: Marmot 
Girl's Name: Miriam
Boy’s name: Matthew 
Reason to be late: Moseying 
Color: Magenta 
Name of movie: Michael 
Something you wear: Muck boots
Drink: Martini 
Food: Mustard
Place: Montana 
Now what are your answers? 


Day #1858

February 1, 2019

The weather prediction is that a storm is headed our way, bringing really cold temps and snow. It looks like the highs will be below zero for a few days, with several inches of the white stuff. So today is a good one to be out and about, running errands, enjoying some time together, fulfilling plans.

And in the days ahead, prayers for all those who suffer from weather extremes. And thanksgiving for those who actually do something for others, like the woman who paid for motel rooms for dozens in the latest cold snap in the midwest (see Rooms for the Homeless). What an amazing, loving, kind and unselfish thing to do - and what an inspiration! 


Day #1857

January 31, 2019 

All conversations come down to two things - talking and listening. And today I must have been involved in a couple dozen - or more - deep, important, vital conversations. I always wonder if I listen enough. Or if I ask the correct questions to let others speak honestly and openly about what is on their heart. I fear my facial expressions give too many clues as to what they think I want to hear and thereby they answer accordingly, instead of what they really feel or believe. 

Suffice it to say, conversing is easy, but doing it well, not so much. I’m always learning how to be a better listener and thereby conversationalist. And when the conversations can be so important, prayer must be combined with the process. Always!


Day #1856

January 30, 2019

As I mentioned last Wednesday, the High School youth must move our coffee/conversation time to a different place next week. The owner of the business where we have been meeting has made the difficult decision to close and today was our last time there. How to say goodbye? It didn’t seem like much, but we signed a card and said thank you for being there and caring for us. It seemed to touch her heart. We hope so. And our prayer: may God lead, guide and direct you in the next steps. Amen!

Well done and thank you until we meet again. 


Day #1855

January 29, 2019

The Tuesday’s Thoughts on Scripture for today comes from 1 Corinthians 13:13: And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (NRSV) (And while I will focus on this verse, the entire chapter is well-worth the read to better understand love and its importance.)

I am not certain when I heard it, but a simple understanding of love that has stuck with me is that love is not a noun, it is a verb. We aren’t really “in love,” we “do love.” Sometimes we have to make the choice to react, or act, in love, even when we don’t “feel” like it. Anyone who is married can understand this when we find the toothpaste tube squished in the middle for the thousandth time and we act in love by not belittling our spouse for forgetting once again, but instead forgive and move on. Parents and children, I imagine, have similar thoughts. As do teachers and students, business owners and employees, coaches and teams, etc. You get the idea. We may not be “in love,” but we can “do love” by being kind and patient, etc.

And, if we “do love” as imperfect as we humans can be, imagine what perfect love from God looks like. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?! Yet, these words from Paul remind us that in the end, as it was from the beginning, love is the greatest. And, not only that, love abides. Remains. Stays. Doesn’t leave us or forsake us. Thanks be to God for that kind of love, both as role model and as action.

And speaking of love, couldn’t resist the latest picture of our godson, loving some time with his momma at a lunch date.


Day #1854

January 28, 2019 

Another day filled with holy conversations came to a close, as did my duties on the Family Promise Board of Directors. I have learned a lot these last three years, worked with some truly talented and committed folks, and been challenged and stretched in many ways. Serving on a board is similar, but also vastly different, to being on a church council or involved on other church boards or committees. While there is a shared vision and passion for a ministry, much like there is for a particular congregation, it is different. Members of a nonprofit board really do not have a sense of belonging to the ministry, where a council consists of members of a congregation with skin in the game. And my observation: I think that difference can affect the sustained level of commitment or energy. 

I will miss my involvement in this way with the Family Promise program, but I look forward to continuing to serve in other ways. And who knows what is next for where God needs me to be involved!


Day #1853

January 27, 2019

A hearty shout-out to all those who contributed to the Annual Report - ministries, committees, financials, stewards of the congregation - by preparing a summary of the year and submitting it for inclusion. The reports were received at the Annual Meeting without question. Thank you! And a thank you to our Parish Administrator for getting it, and the updated directory, ready a week ahead!!!

A hearty shout-out to all who stayed following worship to participate in the meeting and vote and hear the latest. Your presence is deeply appreciated.

And a hearty shout-out to the Stewardship Committee and helpers who provided lunch following the meeting. Delicious food and lively conversation filled our temporary fellowship space (we are still waiting for the redecorating to be completed) and there is gratitude.

All in all, as I said in the meeting, I am thankful to be serving where I am and appreciate the congregation allowing me to be their pastor. I am, and have been blessed, in these ten years!