Friday, January 15, 2016

Lunch Break l

One of my highlights this week was when family members meet at the hospital to have lunch together.

We didn't all arrive at once so there was some waiting time.

In case you can't tell, that is chair ballet.

Chair ballet is exhausting.

Eric arrived in time to wait with us.

Even Sam joined us. Since he works a night shift, this was a rare event. I am not certain he will remember it. He was pretty tired.

I expect Sam woke up later that evening and wondered if that had been a dream. Maybe he was wondering that even at the time.

It is these small moments, the ones that kind of run together in my mind later on, that provide a background of joy for this life of mine.

And I will just end with this...

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

2016 - Year of Music and Needles!

I made a couple resolutions for 2016.  I have the usual thoughts of eating better, exercising more, etc.  However, I decided that this is a good year for me to put some new effort into exercising my brain.  I want to do it in a fun way, though.

Over the course of my adult life I have often been learning new things.  I went through an EMT course and really learned a lot through that.  I took a CNA course and then went back to college, graduating with my nursing degree at age 40.  I certainly felt that I learned a lot of new things during those years.

Once I was a nurse, I kept learning and studying.  I earned certifications in a few different areas.  The hardest was gaining certification as an oncology nurse.  It was stressful but I really enjoyed learning so much and feeling more competent when I was working as an oncology nurse.

I've learned some new things at my current job but I admit I've been cruising a bit over the last 2 years.  I have areas of nursing I need to further explore, more to learn, but I think I need to focus some on different areas of learning.


I decided to try to learn two new, fun things this year.

I want to learn to knit and I want to learn to play the clarinet.  I've started already with the clarinet. My generous mother-in-law gave us each Christmas money and I took the opportunity to order a clarinet. Nope, I am not planning on doing anything too fancy but I have decided to at least learn to play enough to enjoy it myself.  So, meet my new clarinet!  Don't worry.  I know it is not a flute and that is not how I should hold it.  It was just difficult to take a selfie that included me and the clarinet if I held it downward.

I bought a couple of books and I've started learning.  It sounds pretty!  OK, that is NOT true.  Actually, it sounds PRETTY AWFUL!  I don't care.  I'm having fun!  I can play Hot Cross Buns all by myself!

These are my teachers...

I am not the only one in the family pursuing music this year.  I don't want to brag about our grandchildren (that was a big lie) but I would like to point out that this little beauty, practicing for a church talent show, is only 6 years old.  

She and her Daddy are going to do "My Girl."  Isn't that just the most adorable thing you ever saw/heard?

Monday, January 04, 2016

Sticker Stylist

Last night we had the little granddaughters over for the evening.  I had some mosaic craft for them that involved putting on little stickers on ponies.

Anyway, there were leftover stickers.

Cordelia decided she would be a sticker stylist, her term, and Grandpa was a good sport. 

She made him into something quite fancy.

The best part is, he wore the stickers for most of the evening. I think when a young woman is considering a husband, she should ask herself if he would make a good grandpa.  Just saying...

Elise was next.

She told me her sister was making her beautiful.

Then me.

I know, I look lovely.

Thanks to our sticker stylist!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Word From Pastor Mike - Beginnings

The following was Mike's Christmas Eve Sermon this year but it is an important year round.  I think as you read, especially the last part of the sermon, you'll see that this is a great sermon for a New Year as well.

"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered."  Luke 2:1

This is the beginning of the Christmas Story.  It is one of the world's great stories, Luke 2:1-20.  It's a great piece of writing.  It's got a little bit of everything:

a) Historical Figures - Augustus, Quirinius
b) Travel - Nazareth to Bethlehem, small town to small town
c) Humble Couple - Mary and Joseph - teenagers?
d) A Birth in Trying Circumstances - birth in a cow barn
e) The Natural and the Supernatural - shephers/sheep, angels
f) Announcement/A Sign - good news
g) Music - Glory to God in the Highest
h) Going in Haste - running shepherds (funny?)
i) Mary Pondering - Why am I a part of this great thing God is      doing?
j) Shepherds Praising God!

The Christmas story is short and compact.  It gets a lot of information out in just a few sentences.  This is the beginning of the Jesus story, of the Christian Faith.  "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered."

Author Stephen King wrost, "A first line of a story should say: Listen. Come in here.  You want to know about this."  God works through stories to call us to faith.  God wants to draw us in with the first line.  Listen.  You'll want to know more about this.

Consider how the Bible starts, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Wow!  You talk about jumping in with both feet!  Does that get your attention?

Here is some more of the world's great writing, Psalm 23.  "The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want."  This is telling us that God is guiding our lives, providing our needs.  God is closely involved in your existence, like a shepherd with his sheep.  Does that get your attention?

1 Corinthians 13 is an ode to love.  It begins, "If I speak in the tongues of mean and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol."  Every beginning needs a good ending.  This is how 1 Corinthians ends, "So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."  Does that get your attention?

The gospel, the good news about Jesus, has a surprising beginning, a humble couple, travel, birth, angels, shepherds.  What is not said here is said in John's gospel, "The Word (Jesus/God) became flesh and dwelt among us" or the paraphrase, "God took on human flesh and pitched his tent with us."

God is one of us.  In the life of Jesus, God experienced life as we know it, life with its joys and disappointments, with friends and enemies, eating, sleeping, working, birth and death.  God as one of us, that's a strange beginning.  It gets your attention.

The Christmas Story is a beginning.  It's a start.  There is something special about a new beginning, a new year, a new job, a new opportunity, a new season.  All these things give a sense of excitement.

Here is a story of new beginnings...  

In 1973 Ed Ryder was sentenced to life in prison for a murder he didn't commit.  (Does that first sentence get your attention?)  Ed Ryder was a 22 year old petty thief and sometimes heroin user.  He was in jail, in a holding cell, when three other men in the cell decided to get revenge on another man who had insulted them.  Ed Ryder was lumped in with the other men who had committed the murder.  Two of the other men later admitted that Ed Ryder had nothing to do with it.  How long did it take then for Ed Ryder to be set free?  5 years?  10 years?  Try 20 years!

When Ed was in prison he dreamed of playing trumpet in his own jazz band.  He never let go of hope.  He always believed he would get a new beginning.  In September of 1993 Ed Ryder was set free from his prison.  He started his own jazz band!  He was able to begin again.

The Jesus story has a beginning but it is also about beginnings for others.  When Jesus grew up, he started his ministry by reading from the book of Isaiah.  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me... to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and letting the oppressed go free to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

The good news of the gospel is that you and I get a new beginning with God.  Jesus lets people start over.

Jesus didn't give up on people.  He said to the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more in this way."  You get a new beginning.

He said to the leper kicked out of society, "Be made clean."  You have a new beginning.

There was a paralyzed man let down through a roof.  Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven.  Take up your mat and walk."  You have a new beginning.

Jesus didn't give up on Peter, poor impetuous Peter.  Peter wanted to straighten Jesus out of his ministry.  He wanted to walk on water.  He wanted to take on the Romans.  He denied Jesus.  After the resurrection Jesus came to Peter and told him he could start again.  He gave him a new beginning.

The Christian faith is all about new beginnings.  We are sinful.  We fall short of God's glory.  We miss the mark.  We make bad choices.  We need new beginnings.  We need to know that God doesn't give up on us.  He doesn't!

Every day is a new day.  It's a chance to begin again with God.  No one is too far away from God.  He gets our attention with a story, a story about a beginning.

Every beginning needs an ending.  Here's the end of the Christmas Story... "And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen as it had been told them."

What is this story about for us?

There was a beginning to the life of Jesus on earth.

A savior and Lord was born for us.  That means Jesus saves us from our sins and teaches us through his Spirit and Word how to live a life that pleases God.

Jesus had a beginning.  He is the King of New Beginnings.  God has not given up on you.  You are not too far away from God.  God knows all about your life.  He loves you and he wants you to begin again with him.

This story, this day, this faith is God's gift to you.  Be a shepherd.  Glorify and praise God.  Let that be the beginning and the end of your faith story with God.

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