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Showing posts from December, 2023

Connected

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The past few weeks I've been thinking about the new year and a direction I want to head. I know that just turning the page on the calendar and to a new year won't make anything different unless I am intentional. So as I've been praying and thinking about my life and ministry, the word "connected" keeps coming up. In John 15, Jesus uses an analogy that his disciples would have understood very clearly - that of a grape vine. Throughout this passage he uses the word, "remain."  He tells his disciples the following 5 things: Branches that don't remain connected to the vine do not bear fruit and are thrown away.  Those branches that do bear fruit will be pruned to make them even more fruitful.  Jesus reminds them that His word must remain in them in order to be fruitful. He lets them know that they must remain in God's love as they go out and love others. They can't love in their own strength. If they remained connected to the vine then they would

The Hush in the Between Spaces

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My life seems to be made up of an onslaught of  clamorous activity. No sooner is one event or activity complete another pops up to take its place. Some of that is just the nature of being in full-time ministry and some of it is my personality. And unless I'm willing to drop all my ministry activity  and  change my entire personality that may always be the way things are in my life.  I also understand the need for stillness and that the Lord speaks in silence. So I do work on intentionally carving out some time to sit in quietness, tune out the noise and listen to what the Lord has to say. Those times happen each morning as I make my way to my favorite spot and sit with my coffee and my Bible and read and pray. It takes a while for my brain to stop thinking about what I need to do  and instead, focus on what God wants to say. When time allows, I make sure to take time and get out in nature and hike. As I walk, take pictures, think and pray, I hear the Lord speaking to me. In the wi

When Christmas Doesn't Quite Feel Like Christmas

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About a week ago I felt myself feeling down. Things are so different nowadays and the parts of Christmas I've always looked forward to weren't going to be happening. It's definitely been an adjustment as the kids have become adults. Yesterday was seeming a bit of "Christmas feels just like another day." However, I didn't want to sit around and wallow in sadness nor waste time wishing things were the same. So I decided to start seeing ways I could just enjoy the day. It irritates me a bit when people can't change or be flexible and make room for new things, so I certainly don't want to start to become that way myself.  So I decided to enjoy some of the things I've always done that make Christmas special and then embrace the new. I also stayed off social media as much as possible yesterday because that never helps me feel satisfied with my own reality. I made up cookie boxes and delivered them to the neighbors a few days before Christmas. I made 24 m

Festive

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  In the space of a week and a half I went from not feeling very festive nor prepared for Christmas, to having gotten just about everything on my list completed. We live in the northern hemisphere so snow just is part of December and this year has been unusually warm and snow-free. So it was hard to feel like it really was Christmas without it. However, the snow started on Monday and while we only got about 6" it certainly helped it seem like the holidays. Of course, by Sunday it's supposed to be rainy and in the 50s again.  My list is shrinking: πŸŽ„ I ended up with 10 different types of Christmas cookies. πŸŽ„ Christmas cards written and mailed. πŸŽ„ Presents finished and wrapped. πŸŽ„ Bought little gifts for the children at church. πŸŽ„ Made some holiday-favorite foods for my family. πŸŽ„ Christmas eve service put together. πŸŽ„ Church Christmas banquet over and was a success.   πŸŽ„ Cookie boxes delivered to our church board members last night over a Christmas dinner. πŸŽ„ A cookie containe

Jesus, Light of the World

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In John 8:12 Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” This proclamation was said while he was in the temple complex and possibly soon after the Festival of Tabernacles. This was a time when the great Menorah or lampstand was lit, reminding people of the pillar of fire that led them through the wilderness. Jesus, however, is letting them know that He is the source of all true light. His light is what will lead the way in the darkness and His light will never be extinguished.  There are so many people today stumbling around in the dark. They are lost, confused, discouraged, and depressed.  They struggle just like you and I do, but they don't have the light of Jesus in their life.  They are wandering through life, totally blinded by the darkness. I love the celebration of Christmas because I'm reminded once again of the wonderful gift we have received.  A savior was born so many years ago and

In the Home Stretch

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I've been busy this week with zoom meetings and preparing a message for Sunday. I also have been  busy getting my Christmas shopping done and baking Christmas cookies. Those of you who know me, know I usually spend the entire month making cookies. I use them for events, parties and gifts. But this year, I didn't bake one until this week. That is mostly because in years past, I struggled with not eating them. I figured it would be best to not have them sitting around. But it also hasn't felt much like Christmas this year. Some of that is not doing the normal traditions and activities. The other thing is my daughter will not be here this year as she is going to her fiancΓ©'s family for the holiday and our son, Stephen, won't be arriving until the afternoon on Christmas day as he has to work. It has been hard to get in the Christmasy mood when it is going to seem like a normal day. However, I know life happens as children become adults and have lives of their own so I&#

Finding Joy in the Mundane

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  I have Found Joy in Simple Things by Grace Noll Crowell I have found joy in simple things A plain clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread, A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings, The shelter of a roof over my head, And in a leaf-laced square along the floor, Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door. I have found such joy in things that fill my quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace A potted plant upon my sill, A rose fresh-cut and placed within a vase, A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair, And books I have long loved beside me there. We are a week ahead than most churches on our Advent themes as we are having a Christmas play on the 24th. So we decided to go ahead and start with the Advent candles and themes the Sunday after Thanksgiving. This past Sunday we lit the candle of joy and Dan spoke on having joy in the midst of our mundane, hard lives. The reality is no matter what people say, joy is difficult at times. Dan asked the question, "Is joy being happy all the time or

Getting out and Enjoying the Season

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This year Dan and I decided to attempt to get out and do some fun things instead of just letting busyness overtake the season. We need to push ourselves at times because at night we kind of just want to stay at home. Here in the northern hemisphere it is so cold and dark this time of the year and easier to not go out. But we are trying to intentionally pick something to do at least once a week.  Last night we did our first Christmasy thing by attending a big band concert with some friends. It was hosted by a local church. I never know what to expect at some of these events, but this was excellent. It was the Christmas story told in song through a swing band. The quality of this photo is terrible because of the lighting. The weather was beautiful yesterday with bright sunshine and temperatures hovering around 50 degrees which was really unusual. We were able to get out and hike a bit in the afternoon.  Today's plan is to go and do some Christmas shopping. I'm going by myself to

"One Bite Won't Kill You"

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  As many of you know I've been on this weight loss journey since July. I've lost 51 lbs. so far and can see a noticeable difference in my appearance. I've hit a weight that I haven't seen since before I had my second child back in 1993. I have about 25 lbs. to go but am losing at a steady 1-2 lbs. per week. When I started out I realized that I couldn't view this as a diet which I could stop once I lost the weight, but had to actually make a life-long change in eating. The more I've studied and listened to podcasts and looked at my life, the more I realize that I truly have an addiction to sugar and processed foods. Once I start eating all the wrong things, I have a hard time stopping. There is no eating one bite and stopping. And yet, this is what people keep saying to me. "One bite won't hurt you." "It's the holidays." "You can cheat on the holiday." I've discovered very quickly that I cannot. Processed foods and sugar