Sunday Thoughts

It's Advent. 
How are you doing what that? 
Do you have any special Advent traditions? 

Today's lectionary gospel reading is from Matthew 3. When I was serving at Zion in Stewartville, I always loved getting to preach on this text. Ol' Johnny the Baptizer calls some folks a brood of vipers, and for some reason, that has always tickled me. Just imagining him so full of righteous anger. He had a particular kind of boldness... a willingness to name injustice...to look powerful people in the face and say: "You are behaving like a pile of venomous snakes." 

Lately...I waiver between two realities. On the one hand, I have a deep desire to listen and understand where people are coming from...and on the other hand, I want to yell "You brood of vipers" (knowing full-well that I've got plenty of snake in my veins, too). 

Johnny takes the second approach. He provokes those operating out of a place of self-assuredness...and reminds them that they have no reason to be so certain of their "rightness." His strategy with the uber-religious is kind of like, "Hey, guess what, you're not that cool! You need to get your stuff figured out just like everyone else! And right now, you're off-track. Way off!"

I don't think John's approach means we're all called to do the same...at least not all the time. 

But just knowing that he did...that he was willing to...gives me courage. At least a dose of it. 

Listening is great. And important. 

But confronting injustice is important, too. 

May the Spirit lead us to know which approach to use - and when to use it. 


Do NOT forget: Sabbath

Remember the Sabbath - 2009 from Chip and Ramona
The Bouzards are an outstanding pair - both ordained and both staff members at Wartburg College. They wrote these words of encouragement the day of my ordination back in 2009.

The depth of the guidance means more to me now than it did then - "Do NOT forget that you also need the Sabbath."

I hope you're able to carve out a 24-hour block of Sabbath time...rest....relaxation...quiet...peace this week and every week.

Thanks for the reminder, Chip and Ramona.


A Home for Emily

Backyard beauty - 2010
Happy Friday, Friday, Friday!

I have some news to share. I've lived in the same wonderful house for the last 7.5 years. I've been renting it from a terrific family who holds the home and several other properties/pieces of land in a shared estate. The family has decided that it's time to sell so they're selling all their property and land in Stewartville. I am so grateful for my years in this special home. I am really going to miss it!

That being said, I'm choosing to see this is an exciting opportunity to welcome what's next - which is yet to be determined. 

The auction for the properties will be held in late February, so I'd like to have a plan in place by early February. If you hear of any available rentals, please let me know. Or an especially affordable home! Or a mobile home. Or a tiny home. I'm really open to a variety of possibilities. 

My favorite thing about living where I have been living is that I have a tremendous view of the sunrise and sunset. I hope that my new home will have that, too - but if not, I will always be grateful for the perspective my current view has granted me since I moved in on August 1st of 2009. 

As I make my way toward February, I'll be scanning and digitizing and downsizing all along the way. Expect to see all kinds of pics and clippings here on the blog and on Instagram, too! 

Memory lane got me feeling pretty teary last night. I get misty-eyed at just how rapidly time moves. And I get misty-eyed with gratitude for all I have learned and experienced in the last 10 years since I graduated from college...about myself, about love, about purpose.

This process of looking backward is useful. This decade has not be especially easy. Some parts were smooth. Some parts were hell. But I tell you what...I think it was all important. I can say that from this spot...from today, December 2, 2016. I couldn't have said that a year ago. Or 5 years ago. But I can say it today. It is all important, and it's all a gift. It all led to here. And now. And this. 

I am thankful for my life. I wonder what's next.


Digitizing a life

I'm loving this downsizing/digitizing project! Last night I ran across this note from my Aunt Linda and Uncle Darrel from back in 1993! My cousin Matthew had just married his wife Janey! I can't believe that was 23 years ago. I remember it so vividly. My mom and I helped at the guest book if memory serves me correctly.

Reading this special note from 23 years ago reminded me of another massive organizing project I'll eventually need to attend to: my stamp collection! :)


A Smile

Art by Layla
This morning I began the process of scanning all my paper mementos so I can downsize and create some kind of printable scrapbook. It will be a LOOOOONG process (33 years worth of cards, photos, letters, and scrapbooks), but I figured: "I have to start somewhere; time to get to work! I don't want to carry around tote upon tote of treasures for the rest of my life. I need a good system in place to keep the memories but release the "stuff."

This gem makes me smile! My cousin's daughter, Layla, created it a few month's back.


This Morning

This morning I got up extra early and savored some reading and quiet time before work. I also returned to my Sacred Ordinary Days 2016 calendar. One of today's assigned readings is Psalm 5. This particular verse jumped out to me this morning, so I made a little visual of it to share with you. The background photo is from a recent breakfast date with Justin.


This Week's Column and Thanksgiving Pics

First off: Here's a link to this week's column.  It's about ministry and life and sticky words.

Did you have a nice weekend? I hope so! Mine was really good! Quality time in Rochester and quality time down in Iowa. Loved it all. 


This Week's Column

It's about being right and chocolate cake. 



*Saw this amazing creature in September in South Dakota!


A New Approach

Last night I had a tough time. Maybe it was over-exhaustion from the kick-boxing class. Or maybe it was too much time on social media. Or maybe it was the political appointment of another scary person into another powerful position. 

So I cried for a little while, shared encouraging messages back and forth with my tribe*, and went to sleep. 

This morning I decided to start the day differently. No MPR, no social media, no rushing. Instead I opted for happy lamp time, quiet reading, and relaxation music. It was better and healthier for me - at least for right now. 

We're all trying to figure out how to navigate this landscape. Please take good care of yourself, your heart, and your spirit. You are really valuable, and we need you to be healthy. So take care of yourself, okay? Good care. 

I've also discerned that I'm done trying to explain to people why I'm scared and concerned and why other people are scared and concerned. My letter was my best attempt. I'm seeing so much hate and judgment online; it's making me anxious. 

This might just be one of those things that isn't understandable for some at the present moment. That's that. It would be wasted energy to keep trying to say the same thing over and over...to keep trying to justify my feelings and justify the feelings of others. 

Instead, I'm going to redirect that energy. I'll certainly keep listening and valuing all people - I'll certainly keep loving all people. And I'll do an extra intentional job of valuing, supporting, and loving people who are vulnerable and afraid. I hope you'll do the same. 

We don't have to understand each other in order to love and support each other. Jesus said love each other. 

Jesus did not say: "Fully understand where someone else is coming from and be sure you're able to agree with them completely. Then love them." THAT WASN'T THE COMMAND. The command was: "Love one another." That's it. No understanding required. 

Here are a few resources I thought you may find helpful. 

1. "How to Hold Anger and Summon Empathy" (link

2. "Survival Guide" for Lives Affected by Current Political Reality (link)  

Take care of yourself, friends. Don't give up on other people and don't give up on yourself.


*A tribe is....