Thursday, January 29, 2009

Joy at the end of the Pool

Last week at Sierra's swim lesson, as the lesson was coming to an end, the teacher came up to the three students and said, "You have all done so well, we are going to do something new. We are going to take the kickboard and swim the entire length of the pool." Well, Sierra was up first, and she was excited. She grabbed that kickboard and took off with her teacher right next to her. She went the entire length, with very little help, and was excited, and tired, when she got done. She then got up on the end of the pool, in the deep end, and watched her teacher go back for the other girls.

As she was sitting there I saw pure joy on her face. Here was this little girl, sitting all by herself on the edge of the deep end, just laughing and smiling. It was one of those moments when she knew she had done something really good, and she was giddy with joy over her accomplishment.

Seeing her sit there and smile and laugh reminded me of how accomplishments give us such joy. When we do something we have never done before, there is a sense of relief and happiness in what we have done. Sierra just let that happiness ooze out of her body as she sat there and it was a true blessing to see.

So today, may you look for the joys of life in both the little and the big things. May you celebrate your accomplishments, however great or small they are. And may you thank God for giving you the gifts to accomplish those goals.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about steps lately - and the many different type of steps we take in our live. We have our first time rolling over, crawling steps, first steps, dance steps, skiing steps, and the list goes on and on.

This week I finally got out skiing with Sierra. For Christmas we got her a pair of cross-country skis, and we finally had the snow and not so cold weather where we went into the front yard and skied around a little bit. After about 10 minutes she said - Daddy, can we go down to the place with all the trails and ski there? I loved it, and we will be going there next week if the weather holds.

For me it was a great joy to watch her start to learn how to take the first steps (and I use the term loosely with the skis) and watch her progress so quickly on them. It took a while to figure out how to not cross her tips, and turning is still a problem, but over all she had a blast and did a great job.

We all take different steps in our lives. Sometimes these steps are scary and involving leaving something we know behind, such as moving from crawling to walking. And other times, they are steps that propel us into the future with joy and excitement. One thing I noticed is that the steps we take always seem a little bit easier when we take them with someone by our side.

And that is the great joy of our God. He has already taken all the steps we take in his life, even he step into death. So he knows the paths we are walking and is taking those steps with us as well - always there to be the one who catches us when we stumble or fall.

So may you be blessed as you take different steps in your life. May you be reassured that you are not taking these steps alone. And may you always step out, taking a chance, and know that God is there to catch you.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Last night Jennifer and I went to our first dance lesson. It was a Christmas gift that I gave her this year, knowing that my two left feet would be a challenge to overcome. So we drove down to Rockford yesterday evening and embarked on this new journey.

Now this was not the first time we have done this. About six years ago we took lessons out in Montana, but my muscle memory for dancing is quite short. So after a little introduction, we were out on the dance floor, with me trying to avoid her toes.

Overall we did quite well - I never stepped on her feet and some of the steps came back quickly. But I was reminded that dancing takes a lot of thought and the two partners really need to work together.

I am not going to talk about the whole "life is a dance" thing today, instead I want to write about the power of direction and guidance. You see, as I was out there on the dance floor, the instructor continued to remind me which foot to use, where to step, and how to balance my body. After a few reminders, I started to do fairly well.

We all need some guidance at times in our lives. We need to be reminded which direction to go and how to avoid pitfalls that are in front of us. When we are given these reminders, and we listen to them, we see that life can get easier, and we can even have a little more joy.

So today, may your ears be opened to the Spirit who gives us direction in so many different ways, and may your hearts be opened to the joy God gives us when we listen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Today my thoughts are revolving around the issue of love, in particular how we are loved by God. When Jesus comes up out of the waters after his baptism God speaks and says - "This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased." This phrase has been rolling around in my head all week.

I think one of the reasons it has stuck with me is that this is the beginning of Jesus ministry. He is about to start on the path that will lead him to the cross and God loves him and is pleased with him - not because of anything he has done but rather because of who and whose he is - God's child, God's beloved.

And it is the same with us. God loves us and is well pleased with us because of who we are - his children, his beloved. He is the ultimate parent who may not always like what we do, but he loves us, unconditionally. And this love, when we recognize it, changes us. It tells us that no matter where we go, God will be there. He will be the one who picks us up when we fall and scrape our knees. He will be the one who wipes the tears from our eyes. He will be the one who empowers us with his love to live out our lives in the best possible way.

So today may you experience the love of God in your life. May you know that you are always loved, cared for, and needed. And may you always rejoice in that love that is given to you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Moving Forward - A Little Random

I am not big on resolutions. In the past I have made some, but halfway through the year I forget about them or just lapse into old ways of doing things, and then I feel guilty for failing. Instead, I try to make what I call "life changes." These are things that help me look and move forward to grow in healthy ways throughout my life. If I fail at a life change, I don;'t feel as guilty, but rather I look at why or how I failed and then move forward with a new plan.

Over the past few weeks I have started working one a few goals for changes in my life. I started exercising again (with the birth of Scarlett I faltered on that one, but am back in the saddle now). I have adapted my devotional life, in order to try new things and expand my spiritual life. And I have started looking long range for both myself and the church. It is fun and exciting to see all the possibilities that are out there.

So today I am focusing on moving forward - on ways I can open my ears and hear where God is calling me to go and what he is calling me to do. The struggle I have with this is trying to quite my mind and actually listen. If you are at all like me, then you know that it is tough at times to block out all those ideas that are floating around in your head. With the busy-ness of life, times of silence and listening are rare. But when I get those moments, when I have that time, God's voice seems to ring in my ears. The key is slowing down and actually listening to what God has to say.

This morning as I was reading through a devotional by C.S. Lewis, I was reminded that all the rules we read throughout Scriptures are guides to direct us back to the ultimate point of Scripture - God and his relationship with us. They are in place so that we can live healthier lives and grow in our relationships with all people and with God.

So today, may we be able to slow down and hear God speaking to us. May our ears be opened to the relationship God desires to have with us. And may we experience the love of God each and every day of our lives.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This week we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in worship, and it is one of my favorite weeks of the year. The reason for this is two-fold: First - We invite everyone who has been baptized in the past year to come back and we have a public recognition of all those baptisms. Second - the text, when it comes from Mark's gospel - demonstrates how God is loose in the world, and with God loose, who knows what is going to happen.

So I started thinking about the God moments in my life - those times when God pops up and I see the many and various ways he is at work. An example of this happened when my dad died. Now, I have a number of friends who I had not seen in a long time - people I was close to in high school, but over time we went different ways and time and distance separated us. We would stay in touch occasionally by e-mail or phone calls, but the contact was limited.

When dad died, I e-mailed and called two these friends since they knew dad as well. All I was expecting was for them to share their sympathies. Instead, both of them said - I will meet you in Billings in two days. Neither of them lived anywhere near Billings and both would have to take some time off of work, but they were coming - one even beat me there.

This was one of those God moments where I saw the Spirit unleashed through others. You see, God is all about relationships - our relationship with him and with others. And he wants us to know that no matter where we are in life, he is there. And he uses other humans to bring his peace, comfort, and love to us. This was shown in a brilliant way to me at that time, and I continue to see those God moments, as long as my eyes are open.

So today, may your eyes be opened to the unleashed Spirit in your life. May you have a God moment or two, and may you be the instrument of God as well in the lives of others.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Last night we had a swim lesson for Sierra. It was the first in the new session, and over our vacation we had worked with her on jumping in and practicing her strokes. See, she has been really good at a lot of the swimming stuff, but refused to jump in. Well, last night she wanted to surprise her teacher, so before class started she told her that she had a surprise, got the teacher to go in the water, and jumped right into her arms. She then proceeded to have her best lesson every - swimming with the kickboard and noodle without the teacher holding on to her, jumping in, and bobbing like crazy. I just gleamed with pride as I watched her do such a good job.

Later that night, when I was the only one awake, I started thinking about pride - the pride I had in Sierra for what she had done. And I started thinking about God - how when God sees us move out of our comfort zones, challenge ourselves, and use the gifts he has given us - how he must feel that same sense of pride.

God is that loving parent who wants us to grow and flourish in life. He showers us with gifts, love, and forgiveness - all the things we need to take chances and reach out in life. And when we try - not necessarily succeed, but try - God must have a grin on his face like I did last night. For he sees us out there, living life to the fullest, and his heart is filled with joy.

So today, may you try something new. May you boldly jump into the waters of life, knowing that God's hands are there to catch you and care for you. And may you sense the pride that God has in you each and every day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Cleaning House

Upon returning from vacation we entered into a massive cleaning of the house. We had left it as a disaster area, taking off on Christmas morning and leaving everything piled high in the living room. And when we returned, we knew we had two days until a group of pastors were coming over for our annual after-Christmas party. The cleaning has been happening at a frantic rate.

But I am one who is easily distracted. So I was cleaning like crazy, then ran across some old photos from high school and college, so I sat down and started looking at them. I found some great ones that I then scanned and posted on facebook, getting many comments about how much all of us have changed.

After that little time-out, I went back to work, cleaning, putting away princess gear, and trying to make the place look good.

Reflecting on that, I was reminded how we all need to clean house every once in a while. We need to go into our personal lives, reflect on where we have been, where we are going, and get rid of some of the junk that we are hanging onto. It is never easy to do, and there are times we get distracted with old memories, but in the end, we fell much better when we have cleaned out some of those dark places we don't look in very often.

So today, may you be blessed with the opportunity to clean house, to get rid of some of your junk, have fun with some of the memories, and be cleansed knowing that you are a beloved child of God.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year

Happy New Year to everyone out there. We are back from our week of recovery following Christmas, and it was a nice break away. We stayed at a hotel in the Twin Cities that had a pool, so I swam twice a day with Sierra. She loved it and is now able to jump into the pool all by herself - a big step in her swimming development.

We also spent some time catching up with old friends. A lot of my college and seminary friends live in the Cities, and this week I got to see an old roommate and his family. It had been a few years since I last saw Per, but when we get together it is like time stood still. We reflect back on our time at school, catch up on where we are today, and laugh like we had never been apart. Being able to reconnect with old friends is a true blessing, and being able to see where life has taken us is a true gift.

For me, the new year always brings with it a time of reflection - reflecting on the past year (or years) and looking forward to what awaits me in the future. As I sit and reflect now, I look back on a year filled with joy - the birth of a new daughter, the exciting growth of Sierra, the wonderful times spent with Jennifer, and the joys of all the ministries and events at the church. It was a truly blessed year for me.

And as I look forward to 2009 I am filled with joy as well. Even with the world being as crazy as it is right now, there are so many great things going on here. People in the church are excited and fired up to share their gifts and reach out in new and exciting ways, and our family is doing well and we will see first steps and new school journeys in the next year.

As for me, I am just basking in the blessedness I have been given. God is good, and God will continue to bring new adventures my way, which I will happily share with others.

So as we enter into this new year, may your eyes be opened to the blessings you have been given. May you see God at work in your life everyday. And may you always know that you are a beloved child of God.