Sunday, July 21, 2013

Being a Worshipper

Today is the fourth Sunday of our sabbatical, which means it is the fourth Sunday that we are worshipping in the pews (or chairs) as a family and not leading worship in one way or another.

It is a weird experience.

Sunday mornings are normally the busiest mornings of the week in our household, but during our sabbatical I have been able to sit back, do some devotions, drink coffee, watch the final round of the British Open, and let the girls wake up on their own.

The rush of the morning has slowed down.

A lot.

And as weird as it is, it is also nice.

The time that we have to eat together, worship together, just be together is a real blessing, and I am grateful for this time to just "be" with the family.

I am grateful to be the dad in the pew who hears his daughter give a strange answer in the children's sermon and just smile and laugh.

I am grateful to commune with my wife rather than give communion to my wife.

I am grateful to hear the Word preached and not think about what has to happen next in the service.

I am grateful to leave after the service and not wonder if I forgot to turn off a light or lock a door.

I have been grateful to be a worshipper.

And .. I am getting some great ideas to bring back when this sabbatical is over!

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?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Taking A Knee

Back when I played football in high school the coach would often gather us up and yell for us to "take a knee." Then he would go into his speech of the day.

Whenever I heard the phrase "take a knee" I would think back to Billings Senior High and that coach.

Except earlier this week.

Earlier this week "take a knee" took a new meaning for me.

A little background first - the medication that I take for my cancer has a number of side effects. Luckily I do not get many of them. Occasionally I have some vision issues, but they are minimal and go away quickly.

But one thing that does happen is quite often I get light headed. It normally happens when I am getting up from the chair, but sometimes is delayed until  I have taken a few steps.

Earlier this week the girls were at school, Jennifer was off doing some work, and I was home alone. As I walked into the kitchen I was hit with a head rush.. It was one of the more severe ones I have had, and I had to take a knee in order to avoid losing my balance.

It is a strange sensation realizing you have to do something to avoid collapsing.

It passed quickly, as it normally does. But for a few minutes I remained on my knee, thinking about what had just happened.

It is times like this, as rare as they are, that I reminded that I am still battling this cancer.

I can go days and not think about cancer. I can take my pills, go to doctors appointments, and live my life pushing the idea of cancer to the back of my mind.

But sometimes I am faced with a pretty blunt reminder. I am still fighting this disease.The fight is going well. I am in remission. But the battling is ongoing.

So as I was down on that knee having this reminder take place, I was also reminded about how blessed I am. I am blessed not only in the medical advances they have made, but I am also blessed with the support, guidance, and love of those around me.

And it is through them that I am blessed to see the face of God.

Eventually I got up, and having forgotten what I was going into the kitchen to get, returned to the living room and spent some time writing down the names of all the people who are blessings to me. It was a tangible reminder of many ways God continues to be active in my little part of the world.

So the next time you need to take a knee, why not spend some time down there and reflect on the people who are blessings to you.