Category "Life With God"

Amen. Yes and yes. I stand and wave the hanky.

Thankful Notes (#263)

When I arrived at the office this morning, my office phone was blinking – indicating it has a new voice message. I’m not sure why (maybe some church drama PTSD from 28 years of pastoral ministry), but whenever there’s a voice mail left for me on the church phone, I get nervous and mentally prepare myself for something bad.

There were actually two voicemails… the first was a hang-up and the second was from a 90 year old woman in our church. She sounded pretty distraught and in crisis and said she really needed me to return her call. When I called and asked how she was doing, she said, “Oh, not so good…” and then she asked if we had any hair stylists in the church family because, “I look awful—like something the cat dragged in but didn’t want.”

I smiled and explained all the hair stylists weren’t working right now because of the pandemic. And I told her I wasn’t aware of any hair stylists from the church who were offering black market haircuts right now. She understood, but said, “Isn’t there someone who isn’t a professional but knows what they’re doing?”

This is when I suggested she call back in the afternoon and talk to Danielle, because Danielle would know more about hair than me (a bald man).

She laughed and thanked me for listening. Then she told me how much she misses church. I feel it too. Maybe even more, as it’s my whole world. I miss the gatherings and celebrations and in-person conversations so much…

And yet, there is still beauty in times of drought; resilient plants push through the cracks in the dry, concrete-like earth—and they bloom. I’m finding this to be true during the pandemic and lockdown… God’s people keep finding ways to love and serve and give and bless.

For my birthday, some friends at church gave me a… Read More

NWLife Weekly Conversation—Nick And Emily Schmal’s Story

Here is our eighth NWLife video podcast featuring our weekly conversation.

Today’s theme: God’s Redeeming Work.

Pastor Angela is talking with Nick and Emily Schmal as they share their story of loss, heartbreak, and redemption. When I heard Nick talk about how God promises beauty for ashes, I cried. This conversation is so very encouraging—I hope you’ll take 25 minutes to listen in.

We also have a few of your #BringingMeJoy short videos included in today’s video podcast! And, the podcast closes with our band leading us in worship with Hillsong’s King of Kings.

worship for post

Finally, a reminder of something I hope you all will… Read More

Then I heard one of her co-workers say, “Oh wow! This makes my boobs look huge!” and with that, I was out the door

 

Thankful Notes (#255)

It’s hard to believe we have been in this little fixer-upper barn-shaped house on the lake for two years now (in May). When we first walked through the house, I fell in love with the view and the potential I could see in the basic structure of the house. I was sold the minute I looked out the windows to Lake Wilderness.

It’s been two years of struggle and joy, enduring and enjoying, stripping away and building. The projects aren’t all complete.

The rotting dock still needs to be replaced. Our HVAC mini-split system still needs to be installed. And there’s the tricky issue of a major structural retaining wall still waiting to be addressed. But it’s become home—truly OUR home, and for that I am so very thankful.

We lived in it while it still had cracked linoleum and dark ceilings and blue duck wallpaper and a pretty cool JennAir downdraft cooktop with a flip-clock straight out of the early 1980’s. Before the remodel began, we moved into the fixer-upper with our brand new 8-week old English Golden Retriever named Camper. We scraped off popcorn ceilings and tore off the wallpaper and ripped up the carpets. Camper chewed big patches of the cracked linoleum and destroyed a section of drywall where we’d torn off the wallpaper. Heck, it was a family effort.

Somehow, we survived. And we are still here, still surviving and dreaming of what can be.

Shari and I drove to the church office together today and Camper stayed at home with Ashah. While I was in a meeting with staff, I receive a text message from Ashah – it’s two pictures of Camper thoroughly enjoying a “Puppuccino” – something I’ve never allowed Camper to have (basically a Starbucks cup filled with whipped cream). But it’s Camper’s birthday week, so what can I say?

I left for my meeting with staff out to the wide-open and spacious lobby, while Shari stayed in my office for her video conference calls. When I returned, she was still on a call (a very loud and chaotic call with her colleagues). I wasn’t sure how long it would last, so I tried to sit down and concentrate on my own work… but the sound of voices talking over one another had me completely shut down and unproductive. Then I heard one of her co-workers say… Read More

NWLife Weekly Conversation—Finding God in a Global Pandemic

Here is our seventh NWLife video podcast featuring our weekly conversation.

Today’s theme: Finding God in a Global Pandemic.

Today, I’m sitting with Shari, Vinny, and Pastor Andy (all three of them are Enneagram 7′s – typically labeled “Enthusiasts” and I’m an Enneagram 5 – typically labeled “observer,” so watch how our conversation goes… LOL). That said, it’s a miracle we managed to get this video to be under 30 minutes in length.

We also have a very special water baptism in today’s video podcast!

Finally, I introduce something I hope you all will participate in—making and sharing little 30-second(ish) videos, a kind of show-and-tell, about what is bringing you joy right now. Shari gives us an example of what is bringing her joy (it’s not me). These videos can be… Read More

A YEAR WITHOUT HUGS

Thankful Notes (#249)

Instead of leaving as quickly as possible for work this morning, I spent some time in the kitchen making breakfast. I carried over two plates with hot food over to my dad’s house and we sat at his table for breakfast and coffee.

Camper and I left together for the office and she rode with her back legs on the back seat and her front legs on the armrest between the two front seats and her head on my arm.

It’s her version of riding shotgun and I pretty much love the snuggles.

While working in my office, I received a text message from a friend asking if I had lunch plans and how many staff members were working today. We usually have half of our staff working from home on Thursdays during the pandemic, so I told her I didn’t have lunch plans and there would only be 4-5 people at the church. Her reply made my day:

“Can I bring you Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwiches? ”

And I was all, “Um… CAN YOU??!!?!?!! Oh my, that would be wonderful.”

About 30 minutes later, I heard a car pull up behind the office building. Lunch had arrived.

While eating my delicious Popeye’s spicy chicken sandwich, I wrote next week’s family devotions—an online and printed resource we’ve been providing since not holding in-person church services. In one of the devotions, I told one of my favorite family stories…

When I was a kid, I saved up my money to get a puppy. She was a Brittany Spaniel and we named her Gretchen (weird name, I know). We took Gretchen to dog obedience classes and they said we needed to purchase a long leather leash. It was kind of expensive.

One day, when my sister was going to take Gretchen outside for a walk, she couldn’t find the leash. My parents asked all four of us kids who took the leash or left it somewhere. We all said it wasn’t us. Then we started blaming each other.

I was convinced my little sister did it. My parents seemed to think it was me. But nobody would confess. It was a mystery…

Until a few days later when my dad told me I needed to go outside and pick up all the… Read More

NWLife Weekly Conversation—The New Norm

Here is our sixth NWLife video podcast featuring our weekly conversation.

Today’s theme: The New Norm.

Today, we are inviting you to participate in receiving communion with your church family. Pastor Andy, along with Georgia Carlton and Sean Flaherty, will be leading us as we take the bread of life and the cup of the new covenant together.

I hope you will  gather your family to watch the video (if you have little ones who don’t have an attention span for the entire video, at least bring them in for the worship song and communion).

Bailey Thorpe sings an opening song in today’s episode—and Bailey and Shaun Jones sing How Great The Father’s Love just before Pastor Andy leads us in communion.

In our conversation, Sean Flaherty shares his story of loss and addiction and struggle to adjust to… Read More

I told her to put on some good music and turn it up loud.

Thankful Notes (#240)

A young woman in our church has been volunteering quite a bit lately because the restaurant she works at is temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Today she arrived first thing in the morning and spent hours and hours into the afternoon organizing our Food Bank and putting together bags of groceries.

There’s a local writer who I enjoy following on Twitter… today she said:

“One thing you learn about in crisis is who cares about just themselves and who cares for others.

It’s interesting to see who leverages petty grievances to generate outrage, versus the holy multitude shopping for the elderly, sewing masks, operating food banks, working overtime, cooking free meals, volunteering for spiritual support, donating blood, working on start-up projects, coordinating shop local campaigns, feeding medical staff, funding grants, reducing rent, etc.

I’ve watched a church distributing Amazon Fresh donations to hundreds of low-income families this week. An unemployed friend donating food and PPE supplies to seniors. Meals delivered to a nurse. Lunch for a man with no family. Groceries sent to a home after a virus death.

Daily I’m amazed to see such acts of generosity and service, everywhere.”

I agree. Pressure reveals what’s really inside us.

And I am so thankful for those who are stepping up and offering themselves and their resources to make life a little better for others.

This past weekend, between the… Read More

Could it be he didn’t buy into all those stuffy church rules? Oh, Lord, I hope so.

Thankful Notes (#239)

“Drink in the small joys around you, whether it’s the shadow of the moon on a clear night, or a rainbow reflection on a glass in the sunlight.” —Katya Adleren

Now that my dad has moved into the house next door, we’ve been driving together a lot more often than before. My dad’s car is a little too high-tech for him with touch screens and not enough physical buttons. This makes it difficult for him to figure out the defrost and temperature controls and the radio.

I’ve been his driver lately and I decided we need music. So I’ve been rockin’ out with my dad in the car as we drive around. He frequently taps his hand along with the music and this reminds me of a memory I have of my dad… back in the 1980’s when I went to one of those school roller-skating parties. I remember him reacting to the music—grooving, singing along, tapping his foot, and moving with it. I remember being surprised

My surprise was about his visible embracing of the music—not “Christian” music, but pop-rock music about love, longing, passion, emotion, and rebellion.

It was music that spoke about the things that were swirling around in my young heart.

Back in those days, the church we attended was legalistic. The devil was lurking behind anything that sounded fun…… Read More

NWLife Weekly Conversation—Easter

Here is our fifth video NWLife podcast featuring our weekly conversation.

Today’s theme: Easter

Easter is the great reversal, the surprise of hope, the impossible made possible. Desmond Tutu said, “Good is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us.”

In today’s podcast, little Kainoa shares the Easter story in his own words, our band opens with Coldplay’s Broken in the church lobby, Shannel reads John chapter 20 out in nature at sunrise, our teaching team members have a conversation about what Easter means, and our band leads Living Hope from the stage.

The cross is the eternal expression of the length to which God will go in order to restore broken community. —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

So that the world may be made Easter new, without greedy lack, but only wonder

Thankful Notes (#237)

This was a good day. Maybe not a typical Saturday, but still… good. My dad has been in his new house next door for two nights now and we are in the beginning stages of establishing a new rhythm.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and, of course it will be different.

I’m not 100% OK with that, but then again, I have no power to change these things. I am proud of what our church is doing. Years and years ago, I remember hearing Pastor Tommy Barnett talking about, “When you poke something, what does it bleed?”

Our church bleeds serving and giving… and something about that reminds me of Jesus.

We will have our Drive-Thru Food Bank tomorrow at 10am and 5pm. Groceries and toiletries and Easter baskets for kids will be handed out to anyone who comes through. And I know a good number of our church family will stop by with donations.

kainoa for post

We also have a special Easter edition of our NWLife Weekly Conversation Video Podcast featuring some beautiful music performed by our band, and an Easter story summary told by one of our own kids—Kainoa, and an outdoor sunrise reading of John chapter 20 by Shannel, and a conversation among the teaching team about what Easter means to us.

shannel reading for post

While my heart longs for a different kind of Easter Sunday, it is also at peace and fully satisfied with what we have managed to do as a church in these strange times.

I hope you will join us, either in person or online, tomorrow for the most unique Easter of our lifetime.

An Easter Prayer by… Read More