Saturday, November 14, 2009

In all those people, there he stood in front of me

I've been knee deep in planning and stressing about a fundraiser our youth group took on. One of our sponsors has sold Potato dumplings at the annual Crosby Lutefest for years. This year her husband and her took a cruise the weekend of Lutefest, so she offered the booth, and her recipe to the youth group as a fundraiser. The youth agreed this would be something fun and thus began the planning.

I always get so wrapped up in the behind the scenes and trying to make it all perfect. When we found out about a death in the family that would prevent me from being there on Wednesday when the youth would be making the dumplings I began really stressing! With the help of a wonderful youth parent the dumplings were made in record time, and the church kitchen left no traces (other than the smell of slow cooked pork) of the events of the day.

As today approached I realized I knew little to nothing about what would be happening. Having never been to the Lutefest, I had no idea what to expect. And I had not seen the sign up sheet for the youth workers, so I had no idea what I had on my hands. I packed the truck with all the things on the list we would need for selling and said a little prayer that it would all come together in the craziness of no one really knowing what was happening!

The day went off without a hitch. The potato dumplings were a huge success, and we sold out 3 full hours before the festival was supposed to end! Over 100 potato dumplings were sold and enjoyed by a huge crowd enjoying all the Norwegian offerings of the festival.

As I sat alone in the booth waiting for my husband to come pick me up, I counted the money in the cash box. We had almost $500! Wow. How amazing! Of course minus our expenses.

I listened to the music from the Norwegian band and sipped my apple cider behind the big white cooler on the table bearing the sign "Sorry, SOLD OUT, catch us early next year!", and a man from the community came up to chat. He asked how sales went and I told him about selling out, and how much money we had made. He had taken his cash clip out of his pocket, and I figured he wanted one of the bottled water's I was selling. He asked me how much expenses had been. I said "Probably about $150 with everything I figure, maybe a little bit more." He pulled two $100 bills off the clip and laid them on the cash box. He told me "lets call it $200. Now that's just between you and me". I thanked him very much and I put the bills into the cash box. As he walked away I was moved to tears by his generosity. What a simple gesture, to pull two bills out of his pocket and lay them on the counter. And in that simple gesture, there he stood in front of me. I saw Jesus in him, in that man who so generously paid the expenses for our fundraiser.

This whole process has been filled with Jesus. He stepped in and found willing hands when I couldn't be there, he gave strength and smiling faces to our youth who worked the booth, and he gave a generous heart to that man who gave his earnings to us.

In all those simple gestures, there he stood. Jesus stood there in front of me, in all those people. What an amazing sight!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New traditions

The worship committee here at Concordia Lutheran has gone out on a limb... they have agreed to let me bake communion bread, instead of using the traditional (and as far back as anyone can remember) communion wafers. This is a big step for this small town church. They have a great sense of adventure though. Thus far all of Robert's ideas have been embraced and welcomed. Perhaps it's still the honeymoon period... as we have only been here for 3 months. But I am proud to call this place home, and even more proud of my husband for what he is doing in this place. (I still get a bit teary eyed when he sings the communion liturgy. It's just so beautiful to listen to his bass voice sing those words, and such a beautiful gift from God that he can share with this community)

So today as I start a new tradition for Concordia Lutheran Church, I thought I would type it out as a step by step spiritual practice as well as the actual act of making the bread. So if someone else is interested in baking bread, I can pass this along to them, and they can hopefully enjoy the same fulfillment that I do from it. I have previously posted about my bread making when we were at Wartburg.. (April; Given for Me, Given for You post) and am making it more user friendly. Please enjoy and feel free to use this yourself in your congregation if you want.

Communion Bread
2c whole wheat flour
1c white flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1 1/4 t salt
4t veggie oil
1c hot water (115 degrees)
3T honey
3T molasses

1)As I collect the goods, I thank God for my stocked pantry, for the food I eat daily, and the abundance I have. I pray for those whose pantries are empty this day, and whose tummies will grumble as they lay their heads to rest.
2)I mix the dry ingredients together, flours, salt and baking soda. Moving them about with my fingers, thanking God for the convenience of grocery stores, and a product I didn't have to grow, harvest or mill to use.
3)Working the oil into the dry mix moves my thoughts and prayers to blessings. I thank all those in service to God who anoint the sick, who pray for them, and bring them the message of the risen Christ.
4)I carefully heat the water in the microwave and pray for those who lack clean water to drink and wash with. Being thankful for the faucet in my kitchen that flows with safe water each and every day for me and my family to drink and wash with.
5)As I pour and mix the honey and molasses into the hot water I pray for babies. Honey always makes me think of sick babies, since babies aren't supposed to have honey. I pray for the babies who are in need of medications, and in need of love.
6)I pour the dark, sweet mixture into the dry ingredients while thanking God for diversity on our earth, thanking him for the melting pot of life and praying for tolerance and understanding amongst those who differ from each other. Mixing the light and dry with the dark and wet until it forms one solid ball, which will be a bit sticky, but none the less, is one, as we are all one in Christ.
7)Diving the ball into four sections I pat each one into it's own ball and flatten it, giving it a little flour dusting to prevent sticking. Thanking God for my hands, and my ability to do work, my ability to be a useful and contributing member of society.
8)Each ball finds it's place onto the pan and is scored with a serrated knife. While I score the symbol into the raw dough I think of taking up my cross, the cross to follow Jesus. The cross I bear, but Jesus died on, for my sins.
9)The loaves go into the 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. As the timer ticks I read Matthew 14:13-21. The story of Jesus feeding the 5000. I thank God for the miracles Jesus performed, and the faith I have.
10)The loaves come out after 10 minutes and are brushed with oil, giving them moisture. I pray for rain for the fields, and flowers. I think of the flood victims who have too much moisture, and the drought victims with too little.
11)The bread goes back into the oven for another 8 minutes to complete it's baking time. As they bake I read Luke 11:1-4. I pray the Lords prayer and thank him for giving me this day, my daily bread. And pray that I can be forgiving, and accepting of forgiveness.

As you package and deliver the bread to your church pray for the people in your congregation who will partake of it during service.

Doing this has been such a blessing for me and I hope it will be equally for you as you perhaps start a new tradition for your church!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crosby, it just feel so right

We are just a few days shy of the two month mark. My days have been filled with emptying boxes, moving stuff around for a better fit, keeping the house clean for those "unexpected" knocks on the door, and running after two, yes two, very mobile children.

A few updates on the kiddos. Brigid is getting so big. She talks like a 4 yr old in sentences and will repeat anything (like shut up Jack)!! Clara is doing everything she can to catch up to big sister including starting to crawl about 2 weeks ago, and getting her first two about 1 week ago. She tries to pull herself up to stand, and is much more of a challenge than Brigid ever was. She is my needy demanding child.

Our time here in Crosby has had it's fair share of ups and downs. Of course you remember the downs... but there are some great ups I also remember.

Recently we had the unfortunate and tragic strike. A young congregation member died of a suspected heart attack while playing basketball at the school. He was a much loved, talented, bright young kid. I had seen him around town but never had the pleasure of meeting him. Which could perhaps have been one small blessing in this horrible deal. I was able to step back and be helpful and supportive as Robert tackled one of the most difficult times that his ministry will probably ever face.

I still struggle with confidentiality, even though Robert has been doing great with it. It's my natural thing to ask him how his day was, what he did, and there is just a whole lot he can't share with me. Which is okay. I just have to remember not to ask! It's a tough part of being a pastor's wife. He can't usually share much of anything with you. Just one more way our lives are a little bit different then everyone else.

Having two small children in the pew with me on Sunday, I struggle to find my spiritual time. I have started using "motivated mommies" check list that has a bible reading for the day, as well as having a spot to check off "quiet time"! This has helped me some, when I make it a priority to sit down and do it. Quiet prayer has never been a special strength of mine. Robert is asking the worship planning committee if they would consider using fresh bread for communion. That is one spiritual practice I enjoy. I have also baked cookies for fellowship coffee time, another spiritual practice of mine. Perhaps I need to find more ways to do some cooking :)

This whole journey thus far has felt so spirit led. I continue to see signs from God affirming our decision to come to this place, and love these people. Even though we are 812 miles (not that I'm counting) from my door step to my mom's door step, I still feel like this is the place we need to be right now. It feels so wonderful to be so loved by this community, and they are so excited we are here. I enjoy walking down the street seeing faces I know, not needing my library card to check out a book, and knowing my buddy Brian down at the hardware store can help me out with whatever project I come up with next!!

I can't put my finger on it, but it just feels so right here in Crosby. Like the Lord led us to this place to grow, be challenged, live, and thrive. Thanks be to God for this place.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Here we are!

Well, we made it. It's been a super long journey. It started on the 16th when we loaded the moving truck, and continued for 3 weeks as we spent time in Nebraska with family. (One of the hardest days of my life driving away from my family knowing it could be a year or better before I'm back in Nebraska with them). And then 3 days with friends in Minnesota, and finally arrival in Crosby.

We are in temporary housing. The parsonage has no carpet in it, and as of right now, no toilets or sinks either! They are making much progress on it, and I'm so excited/thankful for all the work they are putting into it. It's going to be beautiful when it's done. They basically gutted the whole place and starting over top to bottom, carpet to new light fixtures. very cool. All for us.

Which is exciting for us. We are excited to have people be so excited that we are here. I've had so many people tell me they are so excited we are here! So many people it just really blows me away. I've just never had anyone be so outwardly excited about me... little old me. (Although I think it's my kids they are more excited about!)

The community is great, everything from a nice grocery store, to a wellness/work out center, gymnastics for the kiddos, drug store, county court house, to a variety store and theater showing current movies on Friday and Saturday nights. (I even went and saw the new Star Trek movie, and enjoyed it!)

The biggest downfall is my dear sweet babies are having trouble adjusting. Brigid keeps telling me she wants to "go home". And Clara isn't sleeping well at night. Neither of the girls are. So I'm anxiously awaiting the day they tell me I can move my stuff into the parsonage.

We are happy to be here, and already feel like we are making a difference in the life of the community, church, and individuals in the community. Thanks be to God!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spirit Led

Today has been a busy stressful day. All the last minute packing. Bleh.

But today I had one of thos goose bumps kind of God moments.

I was packing up my stole kit, packing the things I would not need to finish Roberts ordination stole in Omaha. As I was putting all my needed things into my tote I realized I did not have the backings to the stole pieces. Well crap. I dug through the box and they weren't there either. Man, that means I packed them at the other place.

When I went to deiliver a meal to a friend with a new baby I stopped by the house to see if I could find the box. I had no idea what the box looked like, just that they must have gotten put in with my sewing stuff. Robert and I had sorted boxes into small medium and large for the movers. So nothing was where I remembered. I started diggin in the medium box pile. Nothing. I looked at every box. Frustrated I thought either Robert can find it tomorrow, or I will buy new and cut new backs in Omaha.

As I was walking out of the bedroom, instead of flipping the light off and heading out, I closed my eyes and said "please God, show me where it is". I turned my head and saw a box, in the small box pile, that seemed to be calling my name. I didn't recognize it, couldn't say that I remembered packing it. But something told me to go over and dig it out. It was under three other boxes, and behind another stack.

As I dug, I saw my chicken scratch handwriting coming out, sure enough, it said sewing stuff. I carefully peeled the tape back, and below the teddy bear needing a nose job, and the black dress with a loose hem, were the stole pieces.

I can't say what made me look at that box. Why at that moment when I turned my head it seemed to call for me. All I do know is that it was spirit led!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lower your lead!

The levels are coming down since the school moved us out of the old house and into the apartments. Brigid measured 22 last Thursday, which is a huge drop from 37.2. She seems to be doing great, and has an appt with the developmental specialist on Wednesday to make sure she has not had any side effects. Clara, Jack, Robert and I all tested very low, and have not encountered the poisoning Brigid did. Brigid will be tested once a month until she get less than 18, then every 3 months until she is less than 10 twice in a row. Then it will be annually with her regular checkups. Thanks be to God for technology and medical teams! We are lowering her lead!

Our "almost" new home

 We visited Crosby again from May 28-June3rd. Robert interviewed with the council and they voted unanimously to reccomend him to the congregation. The vote will be June 14th. We already have the moving truck in the works (yah for professional movers) and will be loading in Dubuque on the 16th. We will spend some time in Omaha and Lincoln before heading to Crosby on the 6th or 7th of July. They are doing a whole bunch of renovations to the parsonage so it could be as late as the 10th before we get there. 

Crosby feels so right for us. It seems to be just what we've been looking. And Robert seems to be the pastor they have been looking for! I really feel like God's hand has been guiding us through this whole process. Like from the very begining he's been walking with us. From delaying Robert's candidicy for a year becasue of the poky Nebraska synod, all the way through graduation. If we'd of come to seminary a year earlier, all this would be so differnt. I would probably not be in love with a town called Crosby! 

The schools are great, and the elementary and the high school are a short walk from the parsonage. I can see the playground from my front yard. The church is super close, as in Robert is standing on the church sidewalk taking the above picture of the parsonage. Literally right across the street. 50 steps from the backdoor. We love it! The town has 4 resturants to choose from, a nice grocery store, drug store, and hardware store. Crosby also has a book store, a fabric store, and an automotives parts store. Anything you could need. The county building is right next to the church. So we can walk to renew our drivers liceneses and plates. Ironic! 

The people were so warm and inviting. Everyone was so happy to see a young family with two little kiddos! We are excited to live and grow and thrive in the community. They have tons of activites from legion baseball, to gymnastics in the fall/winter, high school football, a great hockey program, curling (I'm so excited to learn to do that!), a swimming pool, and antique tractor threshing bee in the summer, and so much more to do! I'm really in love with this little town and so excited to become a part of the community. 

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