Family Birthday Gathering

A family birthday gathering took place over the weekend. We do what we always do, which is me driving over an hour one way to the east side of town where I grew up. My two brothers, their families, and my Dad still live over that way. Because I am the “odd man” out and live so far away I am the one to do the driving for such events. We talk together some, chips and dip comes out and then we play Domino’s! I love that goofy game of placing your tiles in a selective way in an attempt to be the one to win. My sister-in-law is the “prompter” because for some reason we get to talking or get distracted and she likes to keep the game moving along. “Your turn, Doug” I hear over and over again!

Pizza gets ordered, the cost divvied up between us and we eat. This time my younger brother had some home movie video clips from back in 2004. Isn’t it odd to watch old video of you or your family? I think it’s weird to see myself anytime but certainly so long ago was different. In the video my son is 5 or so years old (16 today) and he and his cousins are collecting Easter eggs from the yard. There is video of my Mom, who passed in 2014, which was very touching to see. My brother has recorded video of his family for ever and he has quite a collection of tapes from over the years.

I left wishing I had invested more time in making video recordings along the way. I have a few but not as many as my brother does. I would like to watch back over those and see my family in younger years. I play back the tape in my head all the time but it’s not quite the same as having something to watch on your TV. So many great memories I play back in my head but I lament not having video tapes to play and enjoy with the family.

There is an image regarding the spiritual life I once heard about. We are standing with God watching the video tape of our life! I don’t know about you, but that is a tough image to think about. Why do we try and hide things from God anyway? Isn’t our God all knowing? Isn’t God the great producer and director of our lives and knows everything past, present and future? (Oscar nomination, anyone?). Of course, God does and yet God loves us all the more. The video of the past is erased in the gift of Jesus in our lives, and the video of the future has not yet been made. Our job is to anchor ourselves into today, the day God has made (Psalm 118:24). The scene is not set yet for future of our lives. That’s why today is all we have, that’s why it’s called the present…..it’s a gift!

On this Leap Day, let’s give God thanks for creating, producing, and directing our lives, for the joy and great memories of the past, for quirky families, for old home movies, and for the confidence of what comes next. Seems to me I can relax and let go and listen for the Director to say “Action!”

GLYASDI,
Pr. Doug
NLS SD

Lawn Chair Time

The funeral for my neighbor was yesterday (Sunday). While I didn’t know her all that well, I wanted to pay my respects and attend the visitation and service. She was a lovely lady and always very kind to me. Just before she became ill and hospice care began she called me in a “tizzy” because her garage light had gone out. She wanted me to go to the Dollar Store and by a specific type of bulb and then bring my ladder over and change it. I did that (although I had a bulb handy) and it was not problem.

My memory is of all the times she would sit out on her front porch. She loved watching the world go by, and talking to her friends or family on the phone she always kept near. As I entered the church yesterday I was thinking of all of this and the times I missed not sitting with her. I don’t get enough “lawn chair” time in my life. She would invite me over, as she was often joined by extended family and friends. I’d usually decline saying I wasn’t feeling well or had a commitment. I could have gone over and relaxed with them and I wish I had done that more often.

I can’t go back and change any of that, I can only go forward. I can learn from the past and use that to make a difference in the way I spend my evenings, in getting outside in the lawn chair and continuing to love and serve my neighbor. I have another neighbor who is in poor health and I think tonight I’ll take over a meal and some flowers. Just to let her know I’m praying for her.

It’s the same thing in our spiritual journeys. We can’t go back, we can only learn from the present and use that learning to move us forward. We are always moving….and I prefer to think of myself as moving forward rather than backward. Isn’t that why our front wind shields are so large compared to the rear-view mirror? I hope and pray today you look forward with joy and hope in the Lord, my neighbor did and she’s moved forward to her ultimate Home!!

Peace,

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

 

Flat Tires

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

My beautiful daughter, Emily, will be 25 years of age Wednesday! I can’t hardly believe it and like all of you with your children and grandchildren isn’t it a blessing what God has given us in our children? What a joy to be a part of their lives, to guide and direct, and to love forever and ever. I think our job as parents is to love our kids unconditionally and to encourage them in every way! When life “flattens” Emily’s tire I think of myself, as her Dad, as the air pump! Not those goofy ones in the back of the car wash that cost too much, but by prayer and in conversation I uplift her and try to refill and encourage her. I listen to her needs, realize I can’t fix everything and I’m not the answer-man, but I am her prayer warrior! I can pray and I can talk to the Lord about her!

She graduated Ball State and is currently a pre-school teacher while working to pass the State Teaching exams! They are hard and I welcome your prayers with mine for Emily on her birthday week!!! She isn’t a good test taker, she knows the material but it is hard for her to get that down on paper. The intimidation factor is huge as she has to go inside a large building, in a cubicle, with no one and nothing around her. But we have our goals and know that, with God, all things are possible!

Can you see  God’s refrigerator from where you are? Your picture front and center! You can know today that no matter what you have done, said, or thought God still loves you! God is active in your life, to guide, direct and to love you forever and ever. God is there to “inflate” you with God’s Holy Spirit and to encourage you in your calling for the Lord! That is the Lord’s great gift to us to encourage us. The air is “on” and will never turn off….hook up today and keep yourself refilled for the daily battle!

God bless you this President’s Day and Second week of Lent!

Pr. Doug

National Lutheran Secretariat

Spiritual Director

 
Pastor Doug and Daughter

The Eye Doctor

Going to the eye doctor is always tough for me. I can never tell which of the two options looks clearer as they test my eyes. I am not sure I can see the bottom letters on the chart and I’d prefer not to have my eyes dilated. But my insurance will cover it so yesterday on my day off I got the full eye care work up.

I thank God they no longer use the “puff” picture to check your eyes for glaucoma. In my experience, I looked into this device and looked at the red barn straight ahead. And then when you least expect it, I got hit with an “eye bee-bee” of air! Thankfully, they don’t do that any longer and now do it with drops and special lights.  I never saw so many lights as I went through my test. Yellow, gold, blue and I really felt like I was still seeing those lights when the appointment was over.

But I’m in pretty good shape except for an astigmatism and the fact I still need contacts/glasses. It’s always good to get good results I thought walking out. Then I immediately thought of all our patients who do not, or did not, get a good diagnosis. It’s always so, so hard when health issues hit at an unexpected time.

We now enter into Lent, the season of “seeing” our sins, our bad habits, our ways in which we fall short. We see all of it and are reminded of that by the ashen shaped cross on our foreheads for Ash Wednesday. But that’s not the end of the story. We can dwell all day on our sin. We can fill our little hearts and minds on all the ways in which we fall short but a Light still shines. Look straight ahead, a light still shines.

This light bursts out from behind the sealed up tomb on Easter morning. A bright light of many colors reminding us of God’s promise that=despite our sinful condition=God still loves. And that love was sent forth in Jesus. Don’t’ worry so much this Lenten season about giving up candy, soft drinks or cussing, just take on some light. Take on the healing light of forgiveness that only God offers and light up somebody else. Take on the light of hope, peace and joy and share it with others. That’s the full work up of Lent today and every day, just shine on!

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director

A New Month

It’s the beginning of a new month! Turn those calendar pages and prepare for Groundhog Day, Ash Wednesday (2/10), Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day! The days are getting ever so longer and this “weird-weather-winter” will soon move into Spring. Easter comes early this year, it is on March 27, one week after Spring officially begins. My daughter, Emily, turns 25 on the 17th and I also have a niece and nephew with birthdays this month.

This month is big in politics as at least 4 States will have their caucuses and this will likely affect the number of Presidential candidates on both sides by months end. For that, I give thanks and praise! I can’t wait until it’s narrowed down to 1-2 on both sides and we get on with it! The amount of news coverage of the Presidential election is incredible, and hits us on all sides. I think I’ll wait until early November, evaluate my options, and go vote. I can do without the hype, the millions of dollars being spent on advertising and running campaigns.

February is upon us and it is a new month. The newness you and I feel today, and really every morning, pales in comparison to the newness that God gives us!! Do you really, really understand that your past sins are forgiven? Do you get this? Understanding personal forgiveness (and being able to forgive ourselves)is key to living the spiritual life. How refreshing to know that God loves, God forgives and God loves all over again. Why, then, are we the ones to remember our past mistakes when God has forgotten them? Seems like it would be pretty easy to let it go, let’s start today!!

It’s the same way with the future. Why do anxiety and worry cloud our daily living? Well, it’s normal and it’s human! The Bible is clear that you and I will sin, we will worry (even though the Bible says not to see Matthew 6:24 for example) and we will be anxious. It’s part of our human nature and it is okay. You and I worry and we are anxious and we can feel guilty over the past. Rather than fight this fact, perhaps our spiritual best move is to accept this child inside of us who is raging to be heard. Calm him/her by repeating something like “Jesus Christ is my non-anxious presence” or some other prayerful mantra that will help. There are 100’s of Bible verses that might apply and if you want to write me back I’ll be glad to help.

The bottom line is we travel into a new day, a new week and a new month with God! We are not alone! The love, forgiveness and grace of God in Christ are simply all aspects of God’s wonder-filled personality. And you are included! Enjoy the new day, the new month and be refreshed in your spirit…God is with you, loves you and will walk with you through all the ups and downs of life! In fact, it’s part of one of our mantra’s in VDC is it not? Often I will type GLYASDI as I know others have. But, here it is for your new month: God Loves You and So Do I!!!

Peace,

Pr. Doug

National Lutheran Spiritual Director