Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Graduation Hodge Podge

Welcome to your weekly dose of Hodgepodge. Thanks for playing along...if you've answered the questions today, add your link at the end of my post then go say hi to your neighbors. Here we go-

 1. Did you make someone laugh yesterday? Was it intentional?  I did not laugh or make anyone laugh yesterday.  It is the last week of school and tensions are running high.  There may be laughter after graduation ceremonies tonight....but yesterday....not happening.
2. What's a simple question with a complicated answer?   How are you?
3. Rhododendrons or have to choose. Are any currently blooming in your yard?  Azaleas would have to be my answer.  None are blooming in my yard right now...but they have bloomed recently.

 4.  May 21st is National Waitstaff Day. Have you ever worked as a waiter/waitress? How would you rate the experience? What was the best/worst part of the job?
I have worked as a waitress several times in my life.  I have worked in dives, in a bar and grill, at a nice restaurant.  I enjoyed the money and the experience for the most part.  There are good memories and not so good ones.  I hate the smell of grease to this day.   It gave me an appreciation for my waiter/waitress....and I know that all waitstaff does not get paid minimum wage.  Many of them make waitstaff wage...which is a whole lot lower and tips are very much appreciated. 
5.  What fashion trend for women should be outlawed? How about one for men?
I have to agree with Joyce on her answer.  I hate it when I see a man's underwear because their pants are hanging to their knees.  For women I hate seeing bellys, busts, and stuff....Ladies...look at yourself in the mirror....Don't wear these clothes.
6. Name a writer who inspires tell us why.  Dr. Seuss.  It is graduation week and I have heard many references to Oh The Places You'll Go.  I think it applies to us all at whatever stage of life we are in. 
7.  What well known quote or saying sums up your plans for today or this week?  Ok, so this week I need more than a quote.  I need the whole poem.
1. The version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta:
              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa
 8.  Insert your own random thought here.  I have two this week.  What do you remember about your graduation?  How long has it been?  I am celebrating my 43rd year as a high school graduate.  My second one is to remember that Memorial Day is more than a time for bbqing.  It is a time to remember those who have given their lives so that we can still be free.  I agree with Joyce...if you have never been to need to put that at the top of your bucket list.  If you have never seen the Vietnam Wall, the Korean monument, and all the must go to Washington D.C.  It will touch your life forever and you will never be the same again. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Grace Sings

#2: When Grace Sings  -     By: Kim Vogel Sawyer

About The Book: When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion? Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren't what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she's operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk. But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa's insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths. Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.
About The Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope. More than one million copies of her books are currently in print and have garnered awards including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas, with husband Don and their four feline companions. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and ten grandchildren.
My Thoughts On The Book: When Grace Sings is the second book in the Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy and although it could be a stand alone, it should be read after reading Book 1 in the Trilogy, When Mercy Rains. Reading both of the books in order allows the reader to understand the dynamics of the plot and characters. The plot keeps the readers on their toes. Just when you think you have figured everything out something changes and you find yourself guessing again. I enjoy reading books by Kim Vogel Sawyer, she is a master at character development and can spin an awesome story. I cannot wait for book 3 to come out. I know many questions will be answered and restoration will occur. I loved this book and highly recommend the series.
  Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and  NetGalley as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Somebody's Praying

The title of my sermon today comes from a Ricky Skaggs song I heard several years ago....and loved.  It was called  Somebody’sPraying…..

My Scripture today is from John 17:6-19
Have you ever had someone tell you they are praying for you? Likely we all have had people pray for us, but it is different when someone tells you they are praying for you. It might happen when you are going through a difficult time with health or family. It can make you feel uneasy or a bit vulnerable. But there is also a feeling of well-being that flows over you because you know you are not alone, that someone cares for you and you know that God is there in the midst of it all. Sometime it comes unexpected. I have had emails telling me that someone thought of me and is praying for me. It gives me a lift even if there is nothing particularly weighing on me at the time. Yet sometimes the words come when I feel particularly weighed down and need those prayers especially but did know how or hadn’t thought to ask for prayer.  There is a story that is told of a person driving past a church on a busy street in a city. On the sign was the simple message, “Pray for Ellen Smith”, or whatever her name was. The driver didn’t know Mrs. Smith, they didn’t know the source of her concern but he said he found himself thinking about Mrs. Smith at different times during the day, imagining how old she was, what her concern might have been and during the whole time lifting her up in prayer. I suspect he was not alone.   Frank and I visited a senior member of his congregation some years ago who felt bad that she was no longer able to contribute her energy to the work of the congregation as she had for so many years. I asked her to undertake a very important ministry in the congregation, I asked her to take out her directory each day and look at the pictures and pray for the people. She may not know if they had a particular concern, and that wasn’t important. She would find herself imagining the kids at school, the parents about their work. Some were widows, some whose spouse was in the picture but had died. Her heart would go out to each of them as she lifted up their situations in prayer. I knew she was praying for me as well and I knew I was not alone.

Sometimes that prayer happens in our presence. To hear someone pray for you after talking about particular health or personal concerns has such power because those concerns are brought concretely into the presence of God and we feel healing and release. Offering prayers in the hospital or prayers around the time of death is one of the wonderful opportunities that I have been given in my daily work. We all have this opportunity for blessing. When someone comes to mind, pray for them, it might just be what they need at that time and we don’t know it.  A friend of mine once told me a story of a Lutheran Seminary professor in the U.S. whose son was killed in a violent way. He found it impossible to pray and went about his teaching and his work feeling empty and without anything to give. Sharing his pain with a colleague, he revealed his apparent loss of faith and inability to pray. His friend told him, “We will pray for you until you can pray for yourself again.” Is that not an amazing thing to say to someone?  Anyways, as his healing took place, he was not abandoned and eventually he found himself able to pray again. As parents we remember the prayers we murmured when we sent our children off to school that first day. It was a prayer for safety in a rough old world. We continue to say those prayers as they enter each new stage of life, ready to stride into the unknown. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, find themselves with such prayers on their lips at the time of graduation, every time a new seemingly perilous journey begins. We want safety of person but also safety of spirit in a world we know can be rough and unforgiving.

In today’s gospel Jesus knows he is about to leave his disciples and they are being sent out into the world to be his disciples. Jesus prays for them, asking for protection; asking that God would “sanctify” them, make them holy, protect their souls. This could be called his last will and testament. With that prayer comes all the wonder of Jesus praying for us. This is the Son of God, this is the one who came to save the world, including us. This is the one who died for us, and he is praying for you and me. Praying for our safety, praying for our souls. This is the one who has power over evil and death itself, this is the one praying for us. Jesus is the one who sends us out to carry on that which was important to him, the release of captives, to bind up the sick, to pray for those in need.  When we baptize our children we place the sign of the cross on their foreheads and many parents make that same sign as the last thing done at night. It is a prayer for safety, a prayer marking that child as different. One family had the custom of making the sign of the cross on the forehead of their children when they left the house. One day, a teenage son was in a rush to get off to school and ran up to his Dad and said, “Do me quick and then I can go!” The son came to expect that prayer and wanted it for this particular day with all its busyness. If our children are to live and grow in their faith, they need our prayers.  There was a conversation in a local office after a recent graduation that once again deteriorated into drinking and vandalism. One of the people remembered her graduation some 15 years ago when she had campaigned for a “Safe Graduation”. It was important to her to work for what she believed in. After much opposition from students and parents, her graduation was designated a “Safe Graduation”. She related how she was beat up in the girls washroom the night of Graduation. Sometimes for our faith we might be persecuted, and our children need support and prayer to be the people we hope they will be.  Jesus also prayed, “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth.” Sanctify means to “make holy”, to have the courage to campaign for a safe grad, to speak up against bullying, to choose not to get caught up in the materialism of our culture, to dare to be different, to work for peace and justice in the face of a culture that says to look out for yourself. A person at our text study this week translated this passage as, “make them weird.” That is very close to the truth. To be a child of God and live that way in our culture is seen as weird. The values we want to teach and live by are not without consequence. This is at the center of who we claim to be as Christians, this is the center of our gathering every Sunday. Are we serious about what we want? Do we dare to pray for that? Are we willing to take it as seriously as some of our children and you do? Do we dare to pray this for our children?

This is my prayer for each one of you, and especially for the children. I pray that we would take seriously our identity as children of God and seek to live it. I pray that we would all pray for each other so that we might have the courage to live differently in our culture. Ron Rolheiser in a recent article says it this way, “Faith must be expressed publicly, in colorful, romantic ways. We must stop building ‘beige churches’ and build churches that express public faith.”   What if we believed that Jesus was praying for our safety and our holiness? What if we prayed these things for each other? How would it change the way we lived together as congregation? Would our worship be any different? How would it affect the decisions we make as individuals and family about how we spend our time and our resources? I worry about the Church of today because many don’t seem to take it seriously. I watch people making choices over and over again which put the trimmings of life central and push matters of faith to the sideline. Choices are made to be away from worship week after week. I worry because I see much energy spent within the church to keep the trimmings of religious life central and driving people away.  I know of what I speak because I am the one who deals with families at the time of death. That is when the many decisions made in life reveal the logical consequences. If praise of God was something to be done grudgingly if there wasn’t something better to do, it is hard to praise God at the time of death. It is hard to find support and care in a community of faith if one does not take the time to build relationships there. It is hard to see God’s hope and presence when there has been a lifetime spent pushing God away.   We want our children to grow in faith but we too often fail to make the choices that allow that faith to be nurtured. I know because I see budding faith in young people snuffed out by callous and ingenuine expressions of religious intolerance paraded as faith.

Remember that Jesus is praying for you. Jesus wants us to live as children of God and promises to give us the strength to face whatever comes. Remember to pray for those around you, and those far away. Pray that we will be protected in our faith and that we will “sanctified” even if that means that we will need the courage to appear weird. Remember that we are to be salt and light to a bland and dark world. Remember that Jesus is praying for us and that all the power of God is with us. Remember that there is nothing that has power beyond the power of God. Remember that God is truth. Then we will be like the tree of Psalm 1, “their delight is in the law of the Lord . . . They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in due season.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Praying As Children

The Point of my lesson today is:  Jesus models a life of prayer for us to follow.

How many of you say a prayer before you eat? I am happy to see that almost all of you do.  When we pray before we eat, we are thanking God for all the things we need.  Our food, our air, our homes, and especially our families that love us and support us.

How many of you say a prayer at bed time or maybe when you get up in the morning?  When we pray in the evening, we give thanks to God for bringing us safely through the day.  It is a special time to ask Jesus to forgive us for the things that we did that weren't kind or loving or were disobedient.

Prayer is a very important part of our lives.  I brought with me this morning my prayer cross.  When I have my private prayer time I hold this cross in my hand while I pray.  The base of my cross is where I hold when I am praying for all the things I am thankful for.  The right arm is the one I hold when I pray for my family.  The top is when I pray for my sins and ask for forgiveness, and the left arm is the one I use to pray for friends and people I do not know.  Some people use other things to hold when they pray….and others use nothing….the important thing to remember….is to pray….daily.  Can you do that for me?



Friday, May 15, 2015

Reflections of A-Z

The A to Z Reflections Post is a post presented on your own blog site giving the A to Z Team, the other Challenge participants, and any other readers your thoughts about this year's April Challenge.   They are looking for feedback about the Challenge. The team wants to know what we liked and didn't like, what worked and what didn't. This was my third year to do A-Z Challenge and I could not wait til April 1st rolled around and I could begin.  It is a great way to keep me focused and on task.  I did not want to miss a single day.  After I posted my blog I would read somewhere between 5 - 15 other blogs.  I loved seeing what others wrote and found it funny how some days our topics were the same and other days we were at different ends of the spectrum.  I am looking forward to 2016 and if you are a blogger I am going to encourage you to try next year. It is a lot of fun.  Now for the said part.....the directions for this were:  Please put up your Reflections post between now and Friday, May 8. AFTER your post has gone live, add the link to the Linky List below. Enter the link that goes DIRECTLY to your Reflections post and not your general blog address. The list will be accessible for the remainder of this year. Be sure to grab the badge.   So did not happen.  I am a high school teacher and preacher.....our boy's baseball team made it into the play-offs, it is the end of the school year and life is crazy.  I missed the May 8th deadline.  Sigh!  But that is ok....I decided to still post my reflection blog even though the team probably won't see it.  I can't think of a thing I would change about April's A- Z Challenge.  I loved it!  See you next year for a new adventure. 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Heart's Danger (Journey of the Heart series)

About The Book: A Heart's Danger (Thomas Nelson, May 2015) - On the brink of war with the Sioux, Sarah risks everything to expose the betrayal threatening the man she loves.
Christmas is coming, and the air at Fort Laramie has turned cold . . . but relations with the Sioux have turned colder. As tensions between soldiers and natives approach a tipping point, a trap has been set for Rand Campbell.  Rand's new fiancĂ©e wants to keep him from returning to Sarah Montgomery . . . for whom his heart clearly still yearns.  Sarah just wants to move on with her life at Fort Laramie, but doing so under the watchful eyes of both Campbell---the man whose love she craves---and Croftner---the man whose lies have cost her everything.  Will Rand fall victim to the conspiracy and go through with his wedding? Or will he declare his love for Sarah and make good on the promises that brought her into the rugged western territories? 
Purchase a copy:

About The Author:
Colleen Coble
has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.

Find Colleen online: website, Facebook, Twitter

My Thoughts On The Book:
  I love Colleen Coble's writing style.  She has a way of grabbing you and not letting her readers go until the very last sentence of the book.   A Heart's Danger,  book three from the Journey of the Heart series is no exception.  I could not put it down.  There are three more to go in this series and I cannot wait.  The characters are easy to love....and hate.  Ben Croftner you cannot help but hate. Sarah is my favorite character and she seems to come to life within the words on the page.  This is a series worth picking up and enjoying. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and NetGalley  as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge - Vol 220

 Here are the questions to this week's edition of The Wednesday Hodgepodge and my responses. You know the drill-answer on your own blog, then hop back over to Joyce's place to share answers with friends and random strangers on Joyce's blog.

1. When is your next big deadline? What's it for? Friday, May  15th - Grades posted and verified for seniors.  If they are failing we must contact parents and get their student in to see what we can do to help them pass.  Graduation is May 20th.  Mine all passed as of today.  Whooo hoooo.  Then we move on the rest of our students and give their finals, grade them, and verify their grades by Thursday, May 21st.
2. May is National Barbecue Month. Do you prefer cooking indoors or out? What's the best thing about a barbecue? What's the last thing you cooked on an outdoor grill?  I love cooking both places.  We have a George Foreman that we use when we are out of charcoal...or it is cold.  I love the smell of BBQ and the taste of seared meat.  Frank cooked porkchops the other night.  They were awesome!

3. What is one thing on your "never again" list?  Right now I am drawing a blank...but I am sure it has to do with height. 
4. What's something that annoys you about people your own age? Something you love about your generation?  I get annoyed by "I remember when I was your age comments."  I love our free spirited ness.
5. Lilac, iris, hyacinth, pansy...your favorite purple flower?  I love the ones you listed...but orchids would be my favorite purple flower.
6. Whats a song that always calms you down?  It Is Well With My Soul

7. What's the last thing you donated?  Furniture and clothes to the Salvation Army, a coat to someone who lost everything in a house fire, a door prize, my time to put together Baccalaureate Services.
8. Insert your own random thought here.  Graduation is fast upon us here at RCHS.  It is a crazy week and I am looking forward to summer.  I have had a wonderful year at my new school and cannot wait til next year.  Do you remember how you felt when you were a senior and graduating?  Did you think you were ready for what was ahead?  I thought I could take on the world.