Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I am very sorry for not posting in a couple of weeks -- Advent and Christmas got me chasing my own tail!   No, I didn't get everything done, as usual, I left some things to the last minute :(  but we did have wonderful worship services, and I got in some quick hugs to all the shut ins.

HUGE thanks to everyone who sang or played music this Christmas time - you made worship so meaningful!  Thanks to everyone who helped at the Christmas Day dinner.  Despite the frigid cold we had 195 people eat with us - many for the first time!  Thanks to Russ Mitchell for the wonderful article in the Dickinson County News - you are always so supportive and a great writer!

Thanks to everyone who blessed me and my family with tokens of love this Christmas, I was completely overwhelmed by your generosity and caring!  You are all a blessing to me and to my family.  I mentioned to the kids at one of our meals that I hope we don't have too many more Christmases on the Highway (meaning that we would move to another location in the area when the church/parsonage sell)  and they got all upset at the idea of leaving the Great Lakes area.  I quickly explained what I meant and they were relieved -- they love it here and so do I!

Christmas and holidays aren't always merry and bright.  For many, there has been grief and sorrow this Christmas.  I want you to know that those losses have been close to my heart this Christmas as well and I have prayed and thought a lot about you who are grieving.  Its ok to have a yucky Christmas -- its ok to use stronger language than "yucky" to describe your Christmas!  Not every year is lovely and magical.  Some years we just get through.  Yet God is with us in whatever kind of Christmas we have!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Giving Tuesday Rocks!

Don't tell my family. . .   on Giving Tuesday our family donated to UMCOR's Mother & Child survival program.   This program targets women in pregnancy and in their child's first 5 years to help with nutrition and health care to ensure that mother and child are healthy and strong.    I'm painting ornaments of Mary & baby Jesus for each of my extended family members with info on the back about this program.  The kids are going to help me with the ornaments and we hope that if our gift really helps just one family that is so much better than what we would spend at a store. 

Giving Tuesday was a success for the United Methodist Church & for ministry around the world check this out:

Iowa Methodists Show Generosity With #Giving Tuesday

Members of the Iowa Conference of the Methodist Church were not outdone in participation in the 
General Board of Global Ministries 2013 #Giving Tuesday. In Iowa, 54,169 gifts totaling $18,782,297.62 had been calculated for the General Board of Global Ministries’ #Giving Tuesday as of earlier this week. Gifts ranged from $10 into the thousands of dollars. Individuals and churches displayed generosity via dozens of charitable outreach organizations on December 3. A final accounting of the distribution of gifts will be available by December 16.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cookie Walk Coming!

The cookie walk is this Saturday -- do you have a special family cookie?
In my family we always make Kringla at Christmas.  Its a soft Swedish cookie thats almost like a cake in consistency.  My grandparents lived in Story City for a while when my mother was a teen and these cookies are famous there -- you can even buy them in the Story City gas stations!  So for me, Christmas isn't Christmas without mixing dough, trying to be patient as it chills and finally rolling it out to form into figure 8's and bake.  They are yummy!

but I also like to try new recipes, I think I will try this one for the cookie walk.
What stories do your cookies hold?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hungering for more than Games?

The second Hunger Games movie, "Catching Fire", just came out and broke records for movies released in November.   The movies are based on a book series by Suzanne Collins.  They are set in the future where society is divided into 12 subordinate districts ruled by the Capital, a wealthy ruling class.  As punishment for rebellion 75 years ago, each district must offer up 2 of its youth each year in a violent fight to the death that is broadcast for all to watch.  In this midst of this, a heroine named Katniss offers herself to go into the games when her younger sister's name is chosen.  Katniss makes it through the games while striving to make moral choices in an immoral world.  As she strives to be herself, to be moral and to rebel against the injustices of her world, Katniss inspires others to fight against injustice too. 

We are all hungering, aren't we?  Hungering for a better world, for peace and joy and equality to finally come once and for all.  We hunger for more than the usual "games", distractions that keep us from working on the real problems around us.   Like Katniss, we struggle to know how to make moral choices in an immoral world.  Like Katniss, we are not alone in wanting a just and fair world. 
Its ironic that this movie came out when it did.  Just in time for our yearly struggle between Thanksgiving and  Black Friday.   Just in time for stores and commercials to convince us that Christmas is about spending money, buying gifts and being gluttonous.    Just in time for Advent.

Advent means "the coming".  It is the month before Christmas when Christians wait for God's coming in Jesus.  The prophets predicted the time when God would restore the earth and humanity to perfect peace and justice.  "And a little child will lead them"  that child being Jesus, born in a stable to poor parents who were hungry and cold.  Jesus came and lived to show us that we are all a part of God's plan to make the world "on earth as it is in heaven".  Jesus changed the world with his death and resurrection, by changing our hearts and teaching us to love God and people rather than things.   Jesus would have been born in District 12 among the poor and hungry, and would have called the people to change society.

Lets "catch the fire" this Advent and reject the immorality of a Holy-day season focused on stuff.  Lets honor the baby born in a barn by honoring His values - giving, sharing, justice, peace, joy.  Rather than buying another sweater or trinket for family & friends who don't need a thing - give something homemade, or give to a charity, or give a gift certificate for a local service.  Forget about buying up all those lights and decorations (you probably already have enough) and focus on how you can make the world a better place.   Hunger not for another cookie, but for the world God wants - a just world where no one is hungry at all.