Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Today is the day after Christmas, and after a day of presents, over-eating, leading worship, and remembering the birth of the Christ Child - I am off on vacation. I will be back on line around January 1. Until then, have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Morning

As you may imagine, Sunday morning is a busy time at our house. Normally I get up first, get ready, and am in the office a little before 6:00 in order to get eveything ready here and repare to lead worship. But when there is snow on the ground, like today, the morning is even busier. So I was up very early, clearing the driveway trying to get all the cold weather gear together, and get my normal Sunday stuff done.

As I was playing on the driveway, in the below zero weather with the wind blowing the snow back in my face, I was not all that happy of a camper. But then I decided to try following the teachings of Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a monk a couple of hundred years ago who looked for the blessings of God in everything he did. So, as I was shoveling snow, I started thinking of my blessings. The blessing of being able to shovel, the blessing of having a driveway that needed to be cleared, the blessing of being able to go into a house and warm up when I was done.

As I looked at life through the eyes of blessing, my view changed. I was happy to be outside, and I even enjoyed the hard work of shoveling.

So often our lives are transformed by our outlook on life. When we are doing difficult work we sometimes get in the mindset of how hard life is - but when we see the blessings we have, we are more likely to enjoy the work we are doing.

So today, I challenege you to see the blessings that you have been given in everything you do, and in doing so, give thanks for all that you have.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Program

Tomorrow morning our Sunday School is putting on their Christmas Program, and today we had a rehearsal for it. It was great to see 30 to 40 kids running around, trying to figure out where to stand, when to sing, and how to get from one place to another. Many times it seemed like the leaders were trying to herd cats, but overall it went quite well.

As I sat in the congregation, watching all these little ones sing and dance to the music, I was reminded of the great joy of this season. Little kids singing about the birth of Christ, celebrating the joy of Christmas, and smiling like crazy. In the midst of all the craziness, there were moments of pure joy and fun. It will be great to see how it all plays out tomorrow, and yes, I will have the vidoe camera running for the entire thing!

For me, the best part of the entire rehearsal was at the end, when the kids finished up and walked to their parents, I was sitting holding Scarlett and Sierra came running up, gave me and Scarlett a hug and a kiss and said - Did you see how good I sang Daddy? The excitement on her face, and the all the fun she was having radiated into my life as well. Isn't it amazing how little things can bring so much joy to so many people.

And that is what Christmas is all about - a little person - baby Jesus - bringing so much joy and hope to all of us. For it is in this birth that we we are given hope, new life, and eternal love. No wonder it is such a special time of the year, for it is in thei birth of this child that our eyes are open, once again, to the love that God has for each and every one of us.

So mayyou experience the joy of Christmas with the eyes of a child once again. May you be blessed with God's love pouring into your hearts again. And may you always know that you are lvoed, cared for, and needed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Last Monday I went out Christmas shopping - trying to find all those gifts and not wait until the last minute to do the mad dash to the stores. And one of the things that always troubles me when shopping, esp this time of year is the lines. People are stacked five or six deep with only two lines open, and the person ahead of me always seems to have a problem with the credit card machine or the price of an item. Monday was no exception.

So as I drove home, with half of the list complete, I was still a little upset about waiting in line for so long and not being able to get everything. So I turned on the radio, and flipped to a country station, and on came the song "My Hallelujah Song." As I listened to it I was reminded of the blessings that I have in my life and the joy that this season is supposed to be about.

I don't know about you, but there are many times in my life that I long for peace. I long to have that quite moment where everything slows down and I can just relax in the moment. And I am always amazed when those "God moments" come upon me and I am given that peace at unexpected times like in the car driving home from shopping.

And when those moments come upon me, I am reminded to look for them at other points in my life as well - like in the smile of a child, the touch of my wife, and the beauty of snow falling. For God is at work in the world, in both the little and the big things.

So today, may you be blessed with God moments in your life. May you see the hand of God at work in the little things you are doing. And may you always know that God is there, with you, traveling the same paths you are walking.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sing A Song

Last night we had our annual Christmas at Twilight concert. It was the first year that Sierra sang with the youth choir, and she was very excited about the whole thing. As soon as she woke up on Saturday morning she was asking when she got to go to church and find a robe to wear - same question, all day:)

The concert was wonderful, the music was inspiring, and Sierra had a blast. She and her friend Grace sat up front for the entire concert, and did well most of the time. During the songs that they sang the two of them danced and had a blast. During the times the other choirs were singing or playing bells, they quiety played with each other, and avoided looking at her parents as she played with the velcro on her shoes and swung the edge of her robe back and forth.

In watching all of this, I was amazed at how fast she had grown up. Her first Christmas at Twilight, four years ago, she was just like Scarlett, sitting in my arms, staring at the lights, and cooing to the music. Now, she was one of the choir, and loving the opportunity to sing with her friends.

Music brings warmth and joy to a persons heart. Last night that was esp. true. Not only the actions of my oldest daughter, but the music that brought us into the Christmas spirit. For me, this concert is the start of the Christmas season. The joy of the songs, candles, and smiles on peoples faces reminds me that God is a God of relationships, and his love for us is unending, full of grace.

So today, may you be blessed with the gift of song. May you celebrate this season by joining your voice to the choirs of angels, singing praise to the Christ who loves you. May you be blessed with warm memories and joyful hearts.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Today Jennifer had to get up early to go to a meeting in Madison, so I had to get the two girls up and going before their sitter came to play with them. Luckily, Sierra was in a good mood when she got up, so getting her going was easy. She got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed up, and was anxiously awaiting the sitter to show her how she learned to whistle. Scarlett, on the other hand, was one tired baby.

When she woke up, I was already running. I had to get her dressed, change her diaper (two times, since she thought it would be fun to wet the new diaper as soon as I put it on her), and get her bottle ready - which she was not anxious to have. The whole time I was also running around making sure I had everything ready to take to the office.

But then, right before I was about to leave, Sierra came running up and gave me a hug and a kiss. This is something she does every time I leave or return from somewhere, but today, it had a different meaning. With all the running I was doing, I was reminded in that short little moment that the other "stuff" would wait. Having a moment to hug my girls, share a time of love and affection, was much more important than trying to remember everything that had to be packed and taken in to the office.

We all seem to be running a lot more in the month of December, and we need these gentle reminders about what is important and what can wait, or even be forgotten. The true value of life is in the relationships that we have, the other "stuff" is all secondary.

So may we all take a moment off from running. May we be blessed with the time of hugs, love, and affection. And may we celebrate the relationships we have in our lives each and every day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Our confirmation class started studying the Apostle's Creed last night, so we looked at the first article - I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. In talking about this article we spent quite a bit of time talking about the gift of creation and how we are called to be stewards, or caretakers, of this blessing.

One of the things that I noticed is that the youth in this class are so different than the ones I started teaching 12 years ago. These youth are very globally conscious - they want to make a difference, they want to be involved, they want to leave the world in a much better place than it is now. It is exciting to see how active these 13 and 14 year-olds are and how they know that their actions make a difference in the world.

So as the roads are icing up and I am preparing for a long and cold winter, my thoughts this morning were on the gift of creation. We truly have been blessed with such a wonderful place to call home. We have been blessed with the abilities to make a difference and leave this world in a better place then when we came into it. But to do this will take work, and some sacrifice, on our behalf. But, when we make these changes, the rewards we and gerneations down the road will reap will be huge.

So today, may you celebrate the gift of creation in your life, and may you be blessed with the strenghth to make a difference in the world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow Day

Yesterday I got to spend half of the day at home as a snow day. My meetings were cancelled because of the storm, so the family gathered around the kitchen table and made a ginger bread house. We had a Wii competition (Jennifer won, of course), and we sat by the fire and listened to Christmas music. It was a wonderful little break in the midst of a storm and busy days.

Growing up in Montana, we only had school cancelled once in my high school career, and that was due to 50 below weather, not snow. I remember that day, and doing everything I could to get out of the house and meet up with friends. My how times have changed.

Being able to have time with family, to sit around a fire, to laugh, dance, and do puzzles is a true blessing. It is time that warms the soul and builds memories for a life time. And to have a day like that in the middle of December is a real treat.

It also got me thinking about all the running around that comes with this month. The busy-ness of shopping, baking, and decorating the house. Sometimes we run through December and miss the blessings of time with family and friends because we have so much on our to-do lists.

So today, may you make time to be with those you love. May you be blessed with a day of fellowship and fun. May you truly celebrate this season rather than running through it.

Friday, December 5, 2008


There are times in my life when I struggle with sleep. My mind is racing and I have a hard time shutting down for the day, so I sit up and read, listen to music, or watch TV. Eventually sleep will come, but there are times that it takes a while.

Just after Scarlett was born the struggle with sleep was even greater. She was getting up a couple of times at night, and Sierra decided that it was fun to wake up before 6:00 am - so exhaustion set in early on those days.

But lately, the girls have done very well at getting their rest. Scarlett is only up once a night, normally around 5 (after going to be around 9:00) and Sierra sleeps until after 7:00.

And that has opened the door for me to get more rest as well. It is amazing how much better life is when you have a full night of sleep behind you.

We all need rest in our lives, and God knows this. That is why God created the Sabbath - a time for us to rest from the daily grind, spend time with him, and recharge for the week ahead. The Sabbath is essential for all of us, because we need to refuel before we do the work that God has set before us.

I once heard the church described as a Filling Station. We come in (our Sabbath time) to get fueled up in worship and then leave to do the work we are called to do in the world. I think this is a great analogy because God is at work in the world, and we need to be fueled up to do that work. And with all the busy-ness that December brings with it, we need the time of rest, that time of refueling, more than ever.

So may you be blessed with the joy of rest in your life, and may you be refueled to celebrate all that God has given to you.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unintended Results

Yesterday I went home in the afternoon, as I normally do on Wednesdays, and was preparing to come back for Wednesday night activites. We had a nice little snowstorm, and the activities were cancelled, so I got to stay home with the two girls all afternoon. Now Sierra was not all that happy about it, because she wanted to come to SPYFF (the wednesday night program we have at church) and so she was a little upset about being home. So I had to try and be creative, coming up with something for us to do in a snowstorm while Scarlett napped the afternoon away.

Oh how I love books - they help out in situations like this one. Last week I happened to check out a book the had craft ideas for preshoolers. Since I am not the "craftiest" person on the planet, I need help in this area, and I got it.

So we opened up this craft book, and had our own little SPYFF session at home. We turned on the radio, sang Christmas songs, and out of paper plates, straws, and a little creativity, made a turtle whose head moves. Then, when Jennifer got home, I cleared off the driveway and they made their pizza, and we had dinner.

My goal for yesterday afternoon was to relax during nap time with the girls and then come back and do what needed to be done. This did not happen. Instead, I had the unintended result of an afternoon filled with imagination and creativity. An afternoon the I got to bond with one daughter, and watch the other sleep for 3 and a half hours (over time I am sure that Scarlett with be coloring and cutting with as much enthusiasm as Sierra).

Quite often in life we are thrown curve balls. The plans that we have fall apart, and we need to regroup and try something else, something new or different. That is part of the joy of life. In many ways, we need to adjust our attitudes, and embrace change as a friend, rather than something to be feared. This is not easy to do, but we we do it, we get these unintended results that turn out to be real blessings.

So today, may you be blessed with the opportunty of an unintended results. May you be blessed to have the chance to embrace change and celebrate new possibilites. May you be showered with joy, love, and the experience of God empowering you to do something new.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I know that it has been a long time since I have posted anything, and my goal is to get back on here every other day or so. Today I was motivated - by snow.

I love snow. I love watching it fall, sitting by a fire, enjoying the flakes coming down. I love getting out into it - skiing, making snowmen, and just playing as when I was a kid.

On Sunday we had a nice little snowfall, so Monday morning Sierra was all excited to get out and play in it. After I shoveled half of the driveway, she threw on her snowpants and was out helping daddy. It was a blast watching her with her little pink shovel pushing at the snow, trying to do what daddy was doing.

Soon she tired of it, so she took her shovel and went to the porch, being independent as only a 4-year-old could be, and cleared it off, at least somewhat. Finally dad was done, so we started to play. A snow fort was built, and then destroyed by the invading Sierra army. Paths were made, snowangels appeared (I forgot how cold it was making a snow angel), and the sled was dragged around the yard. Overall, it was a great morning, and the two of us had a lot fun, followed by hot chocolate by the fire.

During this entire time, I was reminded of the gift of imagination. When we were playing, Sierra's imagination was running wild, and it was a beautiful thing to see. She reminded me how simple little things can become wonderful adventures, all with the right imagination and the willingness to be a kid again.

Imgination is a true gift from God. We are given the freedom to create, to become something else, to grow in freedom - all when we allow ourselves to imagine new things in life. Spending time with a child, and meeting them where they are - whether that be in a snow castle with ice princesses dancing around or a wilderness path through dragon infested lands - it opens us to a new kind of freedom. One that we had at kids, but seemed to lose over time.

So today, as I watch the snow fall, I am excited to play in it again. sure, the driveway will be a pain, but the joy of dancing with the snow princess will be worth it.

So may you be blessed with the freedom of imagination again in your life. May you be strengthened with the curiosity of a child. And may you always remember that God has blessed you with his love, his grace, his imagination - treasure that blessing, for God has given it to you.