Archive | February, 2010

skiing part two.

28 Feb

Cross-country style.  
It was family fun ski day for Grace this afternoon.  I woke up super excited about the outing this morning.  A group of over fifty of us caravanned an hour and a half northeast to Andes Tower Hills.  Most of the participants, adults and children alike, opted for the downhill version of skiing, while four of us decided to hit the cross-country trails.  It was the perfect afternoon for skiing … sunny, warm, and delightful.
Two of my coworkers, Karen and Tammy, along with Julie, a congregation member, and I made our way to the trails.  It was a great adventure.  We all fell down a few times and had many good laughs.  We stuck to the easy trails but still found one hill we couldn’t conquer while traveling forward on our skis.  Sideways we went.
Alongside the hour and a half on the trails, other highlights of the day included:
… Two giant bananas, Chiquita and Dole, skiing and handing out oranges, pleading with people to eat oranges, not bananas.  Seriously.  Two grown men in banana suits over their winter clothes with sombreros.  Classic.  
… A confirmand approached me while in the ski lodge.  “Hey, Lindsay, remember that sermon you preached?  Uh, you know, I think it was Lent.  Uh, last week.  Yeah.  Last week.”  He hands me a dime.  “You know how we’re supposed to share our gifts?  Here.”  Even if it was a complete joke, it shows he was listening.  best. sermon. feedback. ever.
… caramel cashew trail mix from Target that Tammy brought along for snacking.  nummy.  

Saturday perfection.

27 Feb

First order of business – a trip to the gym and a solid twenty minute run (hey, a big accomplishment for me!) alongside lifting.  It was a good workout, not complete without a conversation with an older congregation member about how it’s important to get the heart pumping.  True story.
After a shower, it was time for the quilt top and I to meet again, hopefully with less frustration than last Saturday when I threw my seam ripper aside in frustration.  We’ve become friends again, the nine-patch and I, after I successfully have now completed the top!  Four months in progress and I finally feel like I’ve gotten somewhere.  Next, I need to decide what to do with the back; I’m ready to say nothing too exciting so I can move onto quilting it.

While sewing, I found Field of Dreams on tv.  It has been years since I’ve seen the movie; we had the $5 VHS tape from McDonalds and remember watching it with my dad growing up.  It was a good reminder of my Luther College days – Iowa is heaven-like.  Our family also had the $5 McDonalds tape of Back to the Future; we know where that got me.  (Obsession.) 

Quilt top: Complete.  I will leave it hanging on my wall for the next few hours so I can stare at it and feel accomplished.  Now it’s coffee and cookie time.  I baked cookies last night to mail out to a few people; it was a new blog recipe find.  There are three kinds of chocolate in the cookies … intense.  I also used whole-wheat flour which throws the texture off a bit but they’re still tasty. 
As for the rest of the day, a confirmation lesson needs to be in the works and perhaps a movie.  I see Hot Rod is on tv later; a movie I have grown to love and quote and one that begs to be watched.
“Goodnight, Denise.”

This week’s wisdom.

27 Feb
1. Teaching fourteen third graders to make paper cranes is not a walk in the park.  I found a youtube video online that went through it s-l-o-w-l-y step by step.  As we watched the how-to instructions, they screeched at me, “pause it!  pause it!”  “I don’t get it!”  “I need help!”  Needless to say, we ran out of time.  Looks like I’ll be doing the beginning steps of fourteen paper cranes to catch them up when we continue on Wednesday.
2.  Using a prop such as a banana dog will become the talk of the town.  After using Webster as a key part of my sermon on Wednesday evening, he was mentioned at a women’s circle study the next afternoon and a Pampered Chef party I attended the following evening.  I’m thinking people will now associate me as the owner of the banana dog.
3.  Egg coffee.  Never had I heard of such a thing until the women of Mary Circle educated me.  I think it sounds rather disgusting but they emphasized over and over how “pretty” the coffee is when made this way.  That’s what I like to drink – pretty coffee. 
4.  “Don’t worry, Sweet Pea.  I’ll find you a man.  A rich man with one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel.”  This is what H. told me while I visited he and his wife at home.  Always a joker but also a gentleman.  He helped me put my coat on when I was ready to leave and made sure I had a Little Debbie cupcake for the road.

Justification, Webster and Lynn.

24 Feb

Text:  Romans 3:21-28.  

Success: I made the congregation laugh.


Tonight we continue diving in to the book of Romans.  Last week in just the opening chapter, we spoke about the righteousness of God and how we become righteous through our faith.  Tonight we continue on into the third chapter of Romans and onto another churchy and kind of intimidating word – justification.

To begin, I like to invite you to take a minute and think about the best gift you have ever received.  Think, think … what is that gift that was the very best?  When did you receive it?  Maybe it was Christmas.  Maybe it was your birthday.  Maybe it was just because.  Who was it from?  A spouse?  A parent?  Sibling?  Maybe even a stranger.   I might be a material thing or maybe it’s not.  How did it feel to receive it?  Does it make you excited just to think about it because it was so great?

Okay.  I want to share with you one of the best gifts that I have recently received.  It came from a friend of mine named Lynn.  Lynn and I have been close friends since elementary school.  Even though we’ve spent the last years since high school apart, we still are able to reconnect and talk and keep our friendship close. 

Lynn knows me so well that she just knew I would love this gift.  She sent it to me in a big box and I got really excited as I was opening it.  I picked it up from the post office and began to analyze it.  To guess what could possibly be inside.  It’s kinda light.  Didn’t move around much in the box.  Hmm…

(Third grade buddy J. and the ever-blogged about C. come forward and help me shake, ponder, and open the box.)

… until I opened it and found this.  I had to stare at it for a bit.  I really was not sure what it could be.  A banana dog?  She knows me so well.  I emailed her as soon as I got it and told her, there really are no words.  No words for this … banana dog?

Now I didn’t ask for the banana dog.  I didn’t expect this to come in the mail to me.  I didn’t pay for it.  There really was no good reason for it.  It was a gift.  Pure and simple.  Lynn didn’t have to send me a banana dog.  Really, she didn’t.  But because of our friendship, because of her love for me, she did just that.  She gave me a gift.

Okay, now back to the gifts that you thought of earlier.  The very best gift you have ever received.  Did you ask for it?  Were you expecting it?  Maybe you kinda asked for it if it was on your Christmas list.  Maybe you were expecting it if you are one of those who peeks at gifts under the tree.  But did you pay for it?  Chances are not.  That’s what makes a gift a gift.  It’s given without payment.  Free of charge.

In the third chapter of Romans, Paul writes that we are justified by God’s grace as a gift.  We are justified.  We become right in the sight of God.  But only as a gift. 

Justification is a tough word to wrap our heads around.  There is a lot encompassed within the word.  Perhaps, instead of justified, we can say that God accepts us.  God declares us righteous.  God forgives us from our sin.  God calls us into relationship with him.  Put all those together – that God accepts us, declares us righteous, forgives us from our sin, and calls us into relationship – and there we have it.  That’s what it means to be justified by God.

We can’t justify ourselves.  We can’t make ourselves right with God.  It’s not possible.  Paul reminds us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  In the context of this letter to the people in Rome, Paul reminds them that they all have sinned.  Whether they are a Jew or a Gentile, whether they are rich or poor.  They all have sinned just as all of us have sinned. 

We’re human.  There are many things that make us human.  Our heart that pumps blood through our bodies, poseable thumbs, walking on two legs.  And then things like gossiping.  Letting our emotions take control, whether it be anger or sadness or rage.  Putting ourselves and our wants ahead of other people’s needs.  Lying.  Swearing.  Not honoring our father and mother.  Caring for ourselves more than we care for our neighbors. 

We are human while only God is God and God.  Our God is holy and just.  We can’t follow what God commands us to do, try as we might.  We can’t live a life that is completely righteous according to the law.  We’re human.  We sin and fall short of the glory of God.  But because of our justification by God, we are accepted by God and we are made righteous.  We know that without the justification by God, without God forgiving our sins, that we are sinful and therefore worthy to be condemned. 

God does all these things through grace.  We are justified by grace through faith.  Grace.  It’s a gift.  We’re not worthy of it.  We don’t pay for it.  Grace is the “beautiful simplicity of the entire story of God’s love, active in Christ and the Spirit to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.”  That is the big story, the story of God.  “God’s initiative, energy and commitment to carrying through the project of the justification of sinners is at the heart of Paul’s message and is the true source of all genuine Christian devotion.”

This is the story.  This is what it is all about.  That while we were still sinners, God justified us by his grace as a gift.  We don’t deserve it because we’re sinners.  And we don’t need to do anything in return.  It’s a gift.  And as great as my new banana dog is, there, in God’s love and grace, is the greatest gift.

But now let’s go back to that gift that you were thinking of earlier.  The greatest gift that you have ever received.  The one that you shared with your neighbor.  Think about what you did when you received that gift.  Did you take the gift and stash it in a secret place?  Did you take the gift and keep it completely to yourself?

I’m hoping that you received your gift and then shared it.  Growing up, my brothers and I knew that the very first phone call on Christmas morning would be from our cousin Brent sharing the gifts that he had received with us and then we would share what we had received.  Later in the day, when we would all gather for our Christmas meal, we would bring our most favorite gifts to share with each other.   The first thing I did when I received the banana dog was email Lynn, to thank her, to share the joy of the gift with her.  Then I shared the gift with my coworkers, who had a good laugh over the character. 

Gifts are meant to be shared.  We receive them and then we must turn around and allow others to receive them, to share.  This gift of justification by grace is no exception.  We are given this gift of forgiveness, of relationship, of acceptance by God through faith in Christ and we turn around and share it with our neighbors.  How will you share the gifts that God has given you?  The gift of love?  The gift of grace?  That’s my challenge for you tonight as you leave here, hopefully aware of the gifts you have received – that you find ways to share the gifts that God has given you.  Whether it’s the gift of laughter in receiving a banana dog or the free gift of justification by God’s grace, In every day, in even the most insignificant of moments, share God’s gifts as He has first shared with us. 

Meet Webster.

23 Feb

Webster arrived in the mail today.  The box was big and light and didn’t shake.  I was severely puzzled at what it could be.  With the sender as lynnkjernes, anything could possibly be inside.

I had no words as I pulled Webster from the box.  I wasn’t sure how to react.  As I realized that this ‘banana dog’ was pretty much the strangest yet funniest thing I had seen in a while, I began to giggle.  This wooden/ceramic-like banana dog is ridiculous, I thought, and all of my coworkers at staff meeting totally agreed.  “You have the strangest friends,” one of them told me.  (I concurred.) 
And so Webster will live among the gnomes.  The dog of the gnomes.  
Welcome to the abode, Webster.

mi amor.

19 Feb

Spanish conversation hearts.  De nada.  Mi amor.  
and Linda?  Unda?  (the yellow one in the bottom left)  
Any other clue to what that might say?

mail call.

19 Feb
I mentioned in the previous post that I have had a 
very exciting mail week … 
1. The annual Valentine’s card from Mom, of course with a Hershey bar inside.  (Growing up, Mom and Dad would always put a Valentine’s day card and a Hershey bar in our lunches when going to school.  The tradition has continued.)
2. A Valentine’s envelope from Grandma and Grandpa included the Edgerton Reporter and a quilting magazine.
3.  My two magazine subscriptions came on the same day!  Bonus!
4.  One Yard Wonders, a soon-to-be-dangerous-to-my-productivity book, sent from a family friend, Katja, to “help the lonely winter go by a little faster.”  All of the patterns/projects inside (from bags to purses to pot holders to organizational dreams) are made from only one yard of fabric.
5.  A gnome lunchbox!  A Valentine’s package from the Karen, Mark, and Ben, complete with the plates (also pictured), a matching bowl, and glass.  I am most certainly going to carry my lunches to seminary in this lunch box next year, perhaps with Borg (the gnome) inside!
And one last piece of mail that graced my box this week –
Below is the vintage Valentine postcard I received from Grandpa Sid.  
Pretty much the sweetest Valentine ever.  

happiness is –

17 Feb
This week has been stressful.
It’s been emotional in the crying sense of the word.
Despite the downer days that seem to have invaded my week, herein lies my happiness:
… the fun-size pack of Starburst that, once unwrapped, I discover holds both a red and a pink. My favorite Starburst flavors.
… the third grade boy who tends to be disruptive, needs to be redirected a lot, and sometimes is a bit sassy in my release time class is the one who absolutely ROCKS the Bible trivia game we played. That makes my heart grin from valve to aortic pump.
… my preschool buddy, C., who visited my table at least three times during the lenten dinner, just to jump around and say hi. It was recently his birthday. I asked him, “Hey, C, how old are you?” He told me 44 and insisted upon it. “You’re older than me!” I told him. His mother later clarified that he is four years old and weighs 44 pounds.
… I discover that my favorite go-to paper store, Paper Source, has a blog.
… friends whom I love and who listen to my crying rants at 11pm via gmail chat.
… a 20 minute reading slot as the “community reader” for a first grade class at the elementary school. The leader of my intern committee is their teacher and invited me over for the honor. A new favorite children’s book: The Paper Bag Princess.
… my supervisor’s sense of humor. love it.
… second and third graders who insist on giving me hugs when I pick them up for release time every Wednesday.
… a ridiculously awesome mail week.
… recognizing that I finally feel completely comfortable with where I am. Dawson and Grace Lutheran have become [a] home.

two favorite things.

17 Feb
[ [  a small project involving my third graders and the button maker – two of my favorite things ] ]


17 Feb
Ash Wednesday.
This was the first time I had participated as a minister in an Ash Wednesday service.  I was nervous.  I was preaching and doubted my sermon.  I was using technology.  I wasn’t sure of the service and what parts were mine and where to go.  I was worried that I would forget the words for the imposition of ashes.  I was expecting something to go wrong.
We use Holden Evening Prayer for the Wednesdays in Lent.  My favorite.  With the singing of the Magnificant, I took a deep breath.  The sermon had been preached.  Technology had worked.  Ashes had been impositioned? imposited? imposed?  The majority of the service was over.
I looked out at the congregation and realized it was the first time I had seen Ash Wednesday from this angle.  I had always been one out there, sitting in the pew.  I was always one who came forward and the ashes were put on my forehead.  
This night, I was looking out at a church filled with crossed people.  Literally a community of worshippers with black crosses made of ash on their foreheads.  I suddenly was aware that I was one who spoke the words [remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return].  I was one who crossed the ashes on their foreheads.  It was an intimate action for me and I recognized that as I went from person to person. 
My role has changed.  Tonight I had a clear idea of what the calling to ministry continues to mean to me.
There was something cool.  inspiring.  humbling.  to see the congregation worshiping, singing, and remembering that we are dust together.  To see it from a different place – a different physical place in the sanctuary and a different place vocationally – was a gift for me tonight.  
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.    
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