Thursday, April 30, 2009

problems with sermons

Well, there are tons of problems that can happen with sermons. I think that most people understand this.

1. You say something that you don't mean.

2. You have good notes, but you are working so hard on being connected with the people that you forget where you are and get lost in your notes and get off track.

3. There is a massive issue that you are trying to describe in 5 minutes, but you can't get it all done, so it doesn't come across right.

4. You worked on the sermon a bunch, but somehow it just didn't close as well as you thought it should.

5. You have some worry on your mind that is distracting you. you should be thinking about your sermon, but you are worried about a problem that you have or that someone else has.

6. You are just wrong about an issue.

Well, I know some pastors read this blog. If you can think of other reasons why sermons get goofed up, please post a comment. Tomorrow I am going to write a bit about some things that didn't come out quite like I intended on Sunday.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

who gets to go

About two times a week someone asks me if so and so gets to go to heaven. It is usually a concern that they have because someone has told them that this person or that person is going to hell. Here is my question.....Why do we think that this is our decision or our judgement call to make?

We should reach and care for everyone we can. We should tell the story of Jesus and invite people to believe in Him in ways that do not scare them away. We should trust that God is working all over the world to win people. In every city, in every culture, God is revealing himself at least through the things that he has made so that men are without excuse.

Why do we think we get to say who goes to hell? Do we know what is in the hearts of every person?

Maybe if we stopped worrying about who the good ones are and who the bad ones are, and instead spent our time trying to live the Christian life and share the love of Jesus, we might be a little more contented. Let's focus on loving God and loving others and lets leave the invitation list to heaven up to God.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

coffee with the pastor

Last night I had a great experience. Coffee and a cupcake at the home of a couple who are members of our church. They had invited some friends over who are looking for a place to land. We had a great discussion and I enjoyed the time so much.

It got me to thinking...I wonder if there are other folks who would be interested in inviting some friends over to talk. Life, spirituality, the church, get to know each other, whatever. I would be glad to sit down with a small group of you at the church or in your home. Let me know if you want to get together. Send an email to

One of the best things that I get to do is to spend time with people. If a cup of coffee with me would be good for you and your friends, lets do it.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

one person

One person at a time. The world is won, one person at a time. Friends are made one person at at time. A ship changes course, slowly, a little bit at a time.

Don't feel like you have to do it all at once. Jesus called them, one person at a time. Find one to work on and reach them. Don't miss the individual because you are tyring to do something big and great. The big and great thing that you do this week may be reaching the one person who is waiting for you.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Unity Village

Wow. I went to Unity Village yesterday for the first time. I had never driven back into the middle of the complex. The main tower was built in 1929. I was surprised to see the tower fenced off. It is in such bad shape that chunks of concrete have fallen off of it. Also the beautiful fountains are drained and empty because they are so old.

I feel bad when I see the dreams of another person in another generation falling apart. Like when you drive by an old abandoned farm that was obviously someone else's dream 75 years ago. It makes me think of such questions....What happened to them? Where did they go? Do we all just live and die?

I hope that we always have the funds to replace the roof on the church, keep the walls painted and the pond free of algae.

I am not sure that I am comfortable to say what I really want to say here. Buildings are not everything, but I wonder if the condition and care of a building say anything about the condition of the mission. I hope they can raise the funds to fix the tower and the fountains.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

lines and circles

We humans like to draw lines of exclusion. Here are the good ones, and on the other side of the line are the bad ones. The older I get, the more I understand that God draws circles, bringing people in.

Humans like to make sure they are ok, they often do this by making sure that all those identified as "good" look like them.

God takes in all kinds of people. The three kings at Jesus birth were from the east. They were not Jews. They were probably whatever pagan religion dominated Persia at the time. Rahab the prostitute ends up in the lineage of Jesus birth. A prostitute. The hero of the good Samaritan story is not the priest or the Levite, but a Samaritan.

God is much more welcoming, accepting and loving than most humans. Maybe it is time that we get better at applying some of that thinking.......

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

the mills of the gods

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.

How many times did I hear my father say this. 100 times. 1,000 times. It was one of his regular refrains. Although he died in 2002, I still hear his voice.

Many of you do not know this, but for a year, he led a choir for the 8:30 service. He was a member of our church from 1995 until 2002. My Dad.

The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.

It took me years to understand what this saying means. It means that the trouble that you cause your parents, will come back to cause you trouble in time. It means that it takes a while for God to make things right, but eventually, He does.

You think one thing is going on, but there are other things going on. The mill is still grinding, making things even, making them right.

I am going to start saying this to my children. The mills of the Gods grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. When God makes it right. it may take a while, but God always makes it right.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

seeing the best in others

On Saturday I am doing a funeral [Lord willing] for a woman about whom the following testimony was given: "she saw people as God sees them." When you think about it, this is a great compliment and a pretty profound way to live.

When you see someone, are you easily annoyed by them? Do you ever catch yourself judging others for some reason? We are so good at being human. It comes so naturally to us.

But, if we can just pause for a moment and really look at the other person. They are one of God's miracles too. They may be broken and shattered by life, but they were still created in God's image.

I find that when I look and see the best in others, they usually live up to my expectations. And when I don't the same is true. I think we have great power to bring out the best in people by just taking a moment to simply love them.

Who has God put in your path today? Do you see them or are they invisible to you? Do you see them as God's sees them? Try it and see if it doesn't make a difference.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Last night

Last night I had a blast. I drove to St. Joe. 1 hr, 15 mins. I am a slow driver. You know, take your time, see the sights, listen to the birds sing.

I had a wonderful meeting with a leadership team from Ashland UMC. What a friendly, joyful bunch! They pastor, Gary Dewitt is also a super guy. We talked church and ministry, and it was just a very enjoyable time. I hope they enjoyed it as well. They reminded me of the good folks at Woods Chapel.

Then I drove home. Pressure off. Day's work is done. just drive home and enjoy the drive. I thank God for MP3 players. Put all of your favorite music on and you can just click to the next one if you don't like what is playing. Several songs just blessed me.

The house that mercy built, by Point of Grace
Blessed be your name, by Matt Redmond.

Then there were some oldies. God likes oldies too.

Convoy, by CW McCall 1975
The Mississippi squirrel revival, by Ray Stevens 1984
Ain't no mountain high enough, by Diana Ross [w/o supremes] 1970

Don't those songs make you grin? Good stuff. Good vibrations. A great drive on a wonderful night. May we find more joyful moments this day.

it's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hip Hop

Last night at Dream Team/Church Council, one of the new ministries that was launched was a hip hop ministry. Now what is a hip hop ministry? I don't know. I have never been a part of one. But it involves dancing, Christian music, and young people.

I don't think that I will like this kind of music, and I know I can't do the dancing anymore, but if the young people want to come out for this on a Friday night, I am all for it. I will never forget the scene from the movie Sister Act, when the young people open up the door to the empty church. They have just heard the awesome new music, and they come and open the back door. The priest stands up and waves them on in.

That is what our churches ought to be doing. Waving in the young people. Having things in them that make the 51 year old people [like me] uncomfortable. The joy of seeing and reaching young folks makes me truly happy. I can put up with music that isn't my style. What about you?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, April 20, 2009

devotion time

There is a wonderful story about the child of a rabbi who used to wander in the woods. At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned. The woods were dangerous. The father did not know what lurked there. He decided to discuss the matter with his child. One day he took him aside and said, "You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods. I wonder, why do you go there?"

The boy said to his father, "I go there to find God.""That is a very good thing," the father replied gently. "I am glad you are searching for God. But, my child, don't you know that God is the same everywhere?""Yes," the boy answered, "but I'm not."

So what does that story mean? It means that sometimes, we need a change of pace. We need to find a holy place. A place that is holy for us. We need to get away to a quiet place, not because God is only there, fact is, God is everywhere. Sometimes we need to get away, because we are different, we are different devotionally when we get away.

We listen better, we see better, we hear better, when we get away to a place of seclusion. Go find a quiet place.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


[I am writing this post because the concepts were on my mind, not because someone is unhappy]

Transformers. I don't mean the toys that kids play with. I mean the kind of transformers that you find on an electrical pole.

The power comes in on the big lines. It is concentrated and dangerous. Just lift up a ladder and hit the line and you will find out how powerful it is. I have done two funerals for people whose ladders touched the power lines.

Anyway, the power gets to the transformer where it is reduced to a voltage that is useable in your home. It gets smaller so that it does not electrocute us when we plug in the toaster.

I was talking to a friend on Friday about Richardson's book, Creating a healthy church. In his book, he talks about transformers. About how we Christians, and church members can transform anxiety from the deadly, destructive force that it can be, and reduce it's painful effects in the life of the congregation.

Some people do the opposite, they take a small thing and get all charged up over it and make it into a big thing. Sometimes they even try to get others upset over whatever it is.

As a Christian, we need to be about reducing anxiety in our families and in our congregations. We need to provide a culture in our churches where unhappiness is welcomed, but also healed. By applying God's love to whatever may be upsetting someone, we can heal them and avoid an upset fruitbasket. When church members get unhappy it is easy for them to get off mission. When we are focused on our mission, we are usually too busy to stay unhappy for long.

Are you raising the level of anxiety in your church or lowering it? Every church has good in it, let's focus on that and build from there.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

singing birds

I awoke this morning to the song of the birds. I listened very carefully, because that is what my pastor asks me to do. There was no fear in their songs, only joy. And I say songs, because there were many different kinds of birds singing. Each song, though different, was beautiful. The songs all sort of combined to a cacophony, a symphony of praise.

Some one asked, "why does the caged bird sing?" There are several answers to this question, as it has been posed in literature and philosophy. My favorite answer is this: the caged bird sings because he has a song.

That's it. If you have a song, you have to sing it. That reminds me of the words of Oscar Hammerstein:

"A bell is not a bell until you ring it.
A song is not a song until you sing it.
And love was not put in our heart to stay.
For love is not love until you give it away!"
even if you feel like you are in a cage.
{I added that last line}

Its a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Multiplication. times. The multiplication tables. Plant a seed and it will grow. Depending upon the circumstances, more will grow the following year. Two years ago I planted tulips in groups of three. Now they are coming in, 9, 12, 14 in a bunch.

When you do something good, it inspires you and others to repeat the act of kindness. To pay it forward. Plant some beautiful things. Share God's love. The resulting harvest will not be fully seen this day, week or year. For a kindness shared, a love given, will take root in the hearts and lives of others and make the world more beautiful, year after year.

Do not underestimate the beauty of an act of love.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


This is one of our favorite sayings on staff at the church. When values are present, no rules are necessary. When values are not present, no rules will help.

Job descriptions at work, rules at school, and laws in a country are not needed for those who "get it." They just naturally go about doing the right things. Somehow, they have learned the things that are necessary for success. The rules don't bother them, because they were keeping them anyway.

I have been reading a very good book called "the starfish and the spider." Part of what it is about is how every part of the starfish works in concert to fulfill its purpose. The major organs are replicated in every leg. Cut a starfish in half, and it doesn't die, you end up with two.

What does this mean for the church? The church should be an organization in which every member, every leg, "gets it." We are all working in concert together to make disciples and to connect people to Jesus Christ. We are not doing this because the book of discipline says that we must, we are doing this because it is embedded in the DNA of a Christian.

What is embedded in your DNA? If the government closed the churches, {I am not suggesting that they will} would you continue to be a Christian? If your pastor moves or dies, do you quit the church? What of the Holy Spirit is resonating within your life so that you just know what you are about, and innately go about doing it?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I used that word on Sunday during the sermon, and it seems that alot of you found that interesting. "Boss" not as the person in charge, but "boss" as we used the term when I was 13. Boss, meaning, cool.

Many of you laughed, but I am sure that you had funny words that you used when you were young. Everyone is looking for a way to fit in.

I think that is still true. We all want to fit in. How do we do that. Usually by some sort of identification. I may be a fan of this particular sports team. If they win, I am happy, if they lose, I am sad. I may wear clothes that indicate that I run with a certain group. I may try to look sporty, or young, or dignified. People buy cars that make them feel a certain way. Identification.

All of my friends said, "boss" cool. So, I was one of the crowd.

Here is the thought that I have been trying to get to. What if we stopped worrying about what others thought of us. What if we stopped trying to impress others? What if we were so secure, confident and healthy that we could drive any old car, wear any type of clothing, and root for every team?

What if we were so comfortable in our skin that we just took it all in stride. Just lived. Not trying to prove anything to anyone. Just be yourself, for better or for worse. Something inside tells me that is how Jesus lived.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not all dogs

I could have killed him. Lou the dog. Not all dogs go to heaven. His future is suspect. Saturday he was outside for a long time. He is kind of like a kid. When you don't hear so much from them, you wonder what kind of trouble they are in.

I went outside to check on him. He was eating something. I assumed it was p- -p. I can't say it, but you know, dogs eat it sometimes for some reason. I yelled at him. I told him to stop eating that.

When I got closer, I noticed that he was eating something else. A baby bunny. I looked around, it looked like a bunny war zone. That dog had found a nest of bunnies and had caught and killed six of them. Bad dog. Very bad dog. And all of this was the day before Easter.

I picked up the bunnies and put them in sack. They found a place of eternal disposal.

If you know any rabbits, tell them not to put their nests in our yard. Lou the dog has no mercy on rabbits. He is grounded for two weeks. I wish he could catch squirrels.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thank you

Thank you for a great Easter. Maybe my best one in 51 years. All of the services were great. The gym was full at 10:10. The hospitality teams did great work and the music was excellent. My Dad's favorite music was Handel's Messiah. All of the pieces on the table yesterday were awesome. Both of the choirs were totally boss.

I just felt so full and hardly nervous at all. Just blessed. So blessed to be alive, so blessed to be a pastor. So blessed to be a part of the Woods Chapel family. Thank you all so very much for a wonderful day.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

one day

In the movie "City Slickers" Curly told Billy Chrystal to find that "one thing." That one thing in life that made it all worth living. He also told him that he could not tell him what it was, Billy would have to find it for himself.

What if you had one day to tell the story. One day to let everyone know the most important things in life. What if tomorrow would never come, and today is your only and final opportunity to speak the truth about God, about people, and about life.

Today is Easter. Today is the day. Each of us have the chance today to remind ourselves and one another, what it is all about. I for one am looking forward to it more this year for some reason. I thank God that we know what the one thing is. Faith in God through our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It is a most beautiful day in God's world, how can we not see the good?

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Tomorrow is Easter, and if God gives me the breath of life for the day, I will do what I do every Easter since my Mom died.

I will get up early and go to church. I will arrive about 6:15am and the place will already be beautiful. I will shake lots of hands and preach 4 sermons.

If things hold true as in years past, I will feel more nervous than normal about the message and how it is received. Easter is like game day for preachers. It is almost like every other Sunday is practice. Now that is not true, every other Sunday matters a ton, but there is a lot of nervous pressure on Easter. It is kind of funny when you think about it, because the message is always the same. Jesus is risen. That is the Easter message. Just preach it, preacher. There is no other story for Easter.

After church I will go home and change clothes. We will drive out to Olathe to Cathy's parents house. We used to all go in one car, but now, who knows. Two or three probably. Everyone can drive now.

At Grandma's house, the women will sit in the kitchen and talk loudly. And they will all talk at the same time. The men will sit in the other room and watch golf.

I have a question. If Grandpa is still alive, and he is, why is the place just called Grandma's house? Like Grandpa is a squatter or something.

There will be an egg hunt for the little ones. Food. Honey baked ham and the trimmings. There will be at least one nap for me somewhere on one of Grandma's couches. Later there will be board games and laughing. Then, everyone goes home. All in all, it is a very good day.

Something that has come my way in the last year is that Aunt Lavonne doesn't drive anymore. So, it has fallen to me to pick her up. She lives in North Kansas City. I have really come to enjoy this. She is so pleasant, and she is so appreciative of little things like me opening the car door for her. On the drive to Olathe and back, she tells me stories about when she was young and who she was married to, and when that bridge over the river wasn't even there. It is a very enriching experience for me to spend time with her.

Well, that is Easter. He is risen. Tomorrow.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Who gave this day it's name? In some ways, it is the saddest day of the year. But without the cross, there is no Christianity. We have to remember. We have to tell the story. We have to remind ourselves of the great price that was paid for our salvation. Service tonight is at 7pm.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

providing hope

Just a reminder that we have Maundy Thursday services tonight at 7pm. I hope that you can attend.

I found this story in a sermon illustration search, and I just loved it:

A woman happened upon a decaying, sagging old home in the Appalachian Mountains. There is a haunted house in the woods, her friends had said. Do you want to see it?

The small house stands, falling slowly in time, in a clearing whose edges lay piled with a loose fence of stones, perhaps three feet high, grubbed out by hand from their abundance in the earth. Why is it haunted? I ask. A woman lived here with nine children.

It is a forlorn house now. The handhewn logs, with the cracks chinked, show in places where the facing wood has fallen off. There had been two stories, a room above and a room below. Now the doorways sag, the window lists and the roof is partially caved in. The clearing holds evidence of how hard the life must have been - enormous numbers of rocks moved to make a garden, water carried to grow enough to eat, wood cut and chopped for heating and cooking, weeds pulled, raccoons and deer chased away.

I am sad as I look in the tumbledown cabin for what I cannot see. But then I round the corner by the door, and there where the morning sun falls, a patch of daffodils grows. The woman who lived there must have been given a few bulbs to plant. In the space of abandoned time, they have multiplied. As I pause, absorbing this largess of yellow near the woods still brown and the fields still beige, I suddenly know she watched in hope each early spring. That hope was affirmed and reaffirmed; and through the grace of God, she shares it with me, even now, in that patch of yellow daffodils.

I hope that for years to come, even after we are gone on, people will wait with anticipation to see the daffodils come up. Hope is something that the church can provide, not simply through the beauty of nature, but most specifically by offering Jesus Christ to the community.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4 stages of prayer

1. I talk, God listens.

2. God talks, I listen.

3. Neither talks, both listen.

4. Neither talks, neither listens, resulting in a resting in silence.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Well, several have asked why there is a policeman in our lobby on Sunday mornings. There have been no problems or threats, but I simply refer you to the following news story.

We have talked about increasing security at church for a year or so. This incident was too close to home. This pastor who was killed, Rev. Fred Winters, grew up in Raytown and several people in our congregation knew him, including Pastor Clay.

Over the years a number of steps have been taken to insure that your church is a safe place. There is a secure perimeter around the daycare that is accessed only with a key fob during the week. The office complex is also a secure perimeter to keep employees safe. A few years ago we implemented a "safe sanctuary" program which requires two adults with children at all times.

The presence of an officer on Sunday morning, and other steps that are under way are simply efforts to ensure that your church is a safe place for all who come to worship. The world is a different place than the one that I grew up in. I am sure that given the current circumstances, everyone understands the need to act in a proactive manner to insure the safety of our church family.

I hope that answers any questions that you may have. If not, please feel free to call me or send an email.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Last night I pulled some weeds. It had rained all day, and finally quit about 5pm. It was cold and wet and windy, but the best time to pull weeds is after it has been raining for a long time. The ground that is normally hard and unwilling to relinquish a weed, gives them up freely after a long rain.

I pulled a big bag full of weeds. There are still more, but I got a ton of them out of the ground. Several weeds that I pulled delivered the entire tap root 8-10 inches long.

All of us have weeds in our lives. Things that we wish weren't there. Things that we would like to change. These too come out the best after a long soaking in the sweet rain of the Holy Spirit. Submit your heart to God. Call on him. Pray. Keep praying. Pray through. Give up every last selfish thought. The softer a heart becomes, the easier it is for God to pull the weeds.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Well, I was thinking about this. [sin] Everyone [many people] are so worried about sins, and they usually have a list that they are particularly worried about. Interestingly enough often those who have a list of sins that they are worried about, have your sins on their list, but not their own. Funny. We humans are funny like that.

When I was a kid I was taught that sin separated me from God because God gets mad. And God cannot abide with sin. Well, I know there is some Biblical evidence for these thoughts, but I have some other thoughts which are also supported by scripture about God's love for us and his desire to live with us day by day, moment by moment.

Think about that for a moment. Do you prefer to believe that God is mad at you every time you do something wrong, and is just waiting to throw you away. Or do you believe that God loves you so much that his Holy Spirit is constantly working to reach you, lead you, and draw you closer to him, even when, maybe especially when you do something wrong.

Is it a sin to walk by a daffodil and not give thanks to God? Is it a sin to walk by a daffodil and not even notice it? When we are so consumed with ourselves that we cannot even be aware of God's work in the world around us, well, I would say that our behavior has separated us from God. Not because God is mad, but because we just weren't paying any attention to him. Instead of working on our relationship with him and recognizing him in this world that he has made, well, we get self consumed.

Let's notice the daffodils, the tulips, the birds and all of it. God made it all and it is good. Let's be aware of his amazing creation and celebrate each moment of this life with him.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

this hour

So, here we are again, starting the day together. What will be the best hour of your day? Are you looking forward to something later today? Maybe God will speak to you today. When will that occur? Are you expecting to meet Him later?

What about now? What about right now. This hour. This moment. Could it be that this hour in which you are reading this blog, this is the time that God will speak to you?

Just the thought of me being in close personal contact with God, in this moment, touches my heart. My eyes tear up. I don't have to wait for some time later this day. God is present with me right now.

What will I say to Him? "O Father, I give you this day. Let my heart love you fully. Let my actions show your love to others. Let every waking moment of my life make a difference to someone."

Don't wait for Sunday, friend. God will commune with you now. Make this a sacred moment. Call on Him. Visit with Him. This very hour is the best hour of the day. Speak to Him, and listen for Him. This hour, let it be yours together.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Life can be hard work some times. Straining to figure it out. Striving to get everything done. Working at it from every direction. Burning the candle at both ends. Sometimes life is just like that.

Other times, there is peace. When I am in touch with my soul, I am at peace. The world around may be going to h in a hand basket, but I am at peace. It is as if we are walking in the very presence of God, being led by that unseen hand. There is no straining, only rest. O, that life were like this more often.

O, to be more aware of the life of the soul. O to worry less. O to trust Him. When I can slow it all down, it is good. Life is good. All the same problems, it is just that my feet have found their place upon the solid rock.

Are you doing too much? Hurried? Busy? Forgot you even have a soul? We are not made to live like this. Stop. Look inside. Listen. God is always present with us. Let's take a few moments to become aware of this so that we can enjoy the day with Him.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I got a call from a friend last week who wondered if I was ok. He was worried about me because I did not post for three days. Lion's Den Man posted instead of me. I told him that I had taken a couple of vacation days and went out of town.

Vacation is important. In the United Methodist Church, pastors under appointment have four weeks of vacation and two additional weeks for continuing education. When I was young and the church was smaller, that seemed like alot. Back then, I was often done with my work by Wednesday and I would mow the church yard on Thursday. Back then, things really slowed down during the summer. Not anymore. We are busy 52 weeks of the year. I get tons of emails and phone calls. The pressure is constant. [wahhh...] get out your violin.

Anyway, the last few years, I have been taking all four weeks of vacation. This year I am probably going to make sure that I take the time for continuing education too. A pastor just has to keep his or her brain fresh. You have got to make time to find rest for your soul.

Last year when I was gone, I posted to the blog anyway. I was on vacation, but not from the blog. Last week I took Wednesday and Thursday off, and off from the blog. I decided to ask Lions Den Man to post. Sometimes, I just need some time to rest.

I thank all church staff and volunteers for helping in all the ways that you do. For doing good work, and for working harder when I am out. Everybody needs a little time away. Thanks for letting me be gone.

If you have a pastor, please let him or her be on vacation. Their brain and their soul needs it from time to time.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I broke my leg

My other grandmother, my Dad's mother came to live with us when I was 14. My sisters got to share a room so that grandma could have her own space.

Her name was Mary Lee Toll Brinkman. She was born into big money. The house of her childhood is now the Catholic Charities building on Armor road in Kansas City. [Or it was the last time I was down in that area.] The house and the money were gone long before I was born, but my Mom used to tell the story of going to dances in the ballroom on the top floor of the "Toll Mansion."

We called her Toopta. No one knows why. She used to babysit us on Friday nights so my parents could go to lodge meetings. Years later we found out that lodge was really Dad's AA meetings. Back then we had one little black and white TV, an RCA Victor model. Sometimes I would go with Dad to the store to replace tubes. Do you remember when the grocery stores had little tube testing stations where you could test and buy tubes? Anyway, we would sit up on Friday nights with Toop and watch TV. She taught us all the song, "the incy wincy spider" and the more obscure, "I don't know why she swallowed the fly" rhyme. I will have to say it for you sometime.

So, anyway, Toopta came to live with us when I was 14. She liked Hawaii 5-0 "book em Danno." She watched the Today show and General Hospital. She drank Sherri [something like wine or brandy I think.] She attended the Episcopal church. My mom didn't like her. I am not going to speculate why. There were a number of possible reasons, but it was a real sacrifice for my Mom to have Toopie living in our home. It only lasted for about a year, and then she was gone. As quickly as she had arrived, she was gone, traded off to another Uncle for a player to be named later.

One morning, I heard a thump, thump, thump, coming down the stairs. I ran around the corner and there was Toopta in a writhing ball of pain at the bottom of the stairs. I called for help, and in a few moments, my mom and both of my sisters were there. We were all gathered around Toop. My Mom took over. Kids step back.

Mom: Toop, where does it hurt?
Toopta: Oooooo. [groaning]
Mom: do you want me to call an ambulance?
Toop: Oooooo.
Mom: where does it hurt?
Toop [quietly]: what day is it?
Everyone looks at each other. We are puzzled. She must be losing her mind.
Toop: what day is it?
Mom: Toop it is Wednesday.
Toop [a bit louder now]: no, what day is it?
Mom: it is April 1st.

April 1st!!!!!!!!! It is all a big joke. She is not hurt, she did not fall down the stairs. My sisters and I start laughing. Mom is furious. She does not think it is funny at all for a 72 year old woman to pull such a stunt. She storms off into the other room. I help Toop up and Toop and the kids go on about our business, somehow the better for the story.

That's the way it was, April 1st, 1972.

Oh, and by the way, I did not really break my leg.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.