Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rodeo, Worship, and seeing old friends

Two weeks ago we started our sabbatical by going back to Montana and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first church I served. It was a wonderful, soul-filling trip.

On the way out we visited some dear friends in Odin, MN. They are good friends of mine from seminary who I hadn't seen in way too long.

We then went to Dickinson, ND. Due to the oil boom out there right now, that town is exploding. New buildings are going up everywhere. It was also in Dickinson that we got to go to a rodeo. It was Roughrider Days, so there were a number of activities going on, and the evening ended with bucking broncs, barrel racers, and mean bulls.

I loved it.

Back when I lived in Montana I went to rodeos quite often. The power of the animals, the courage (or craziness) of the cowboys, the speed of the horses...all of it amazed me. The girls enjoyed it, but not as much as dad did. Scarlett was upset though, because she wanted to go out and ride on the horse and didn't understand why she couldn't.

Luckily that was dealt with the next day.

We then went to Savage for the 100th anniversary celebration, and it was wonderful. I recognized many of the people from when I was last there, in 2000. I was reminded that I am aging because the first child I baptized is taller than me. And I missed a few people who have passed on.

After the service there was a nice lunch at the town hall, a time to visit and catch up. Then we went to a friend's ranch where the girls got to ride horses and we went for a hike.

It was a great day.

During my time in Savage I was reminded what a special place it is to me. It was here that I started my ministry, which meant I learned a lot by trial and error. I would come up with ideas and ways to share the gospel that may have been a little different, and they went along with it, forgiving me when I made a mistake, encouraging me as we moved forward, and showing me what grace is through their words and actions.

Savage was/is one of those "thin places" for me, where I feel the power of God in a very profound way. I have memories of hiking the dirt roads with my dogs, hunting with my dad, and fishing the Yellowstone while celebrating this amazing creation that God has blessed us with.

Savage is a place and filled with people who have left a mark on my soul, and when I drove in I felt the power of that place once again.

I was reminded how much I miss that entire area out there. Making that trip through North Dakota and into Montana was making a trip home.

Over the past few weeks, after returning to Wisconsin, I have been spending some time thinking about those "thin places." Places where we experience God is powerful ways. I believe we all have them, and they all touch us differently.

Savage, the Dakotas, Montana, wide open spaces - all of these are thin places for me. What are some of your thin places?

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