2 Cents from Pastor Penny 

December 2022

To everything there is a time, a season, an opportunity, a mission.  A time for reverence, a time for grief, a time to dance, a time to laugh, a time for reflection and a time to anticipate what lies ahead.  2022 has left all of us catching our breaths, I think.  Reexamining what is really important in our lives, where we truly stand in our walk with Christ.  It has been a year of resolve, a year of despair and a year of hope.  It has been a year of demonstrating the love of Christ.  Through all of the adversities and trials, others have taken notice.  They have watched how we have maneuvered through those seasons and challenges both good and bad.  They have witnessed how Christ has called us to be the salt and light in the world.  They have seen his light reflected from within our brokenness, and yet an eager hunger for us to be used by him.  The seasons have flown by this year and I think that is a very clear depiction of how my life has been, a whirlwind.  Trying to balance everything that life has to offer all while still being that beacon of hope, light and joy to those living in such a dark cold world that are desperately seeking, longing for what we have. Yes, you and me as Christians, have found and possesses the greatest treasure, The Love and relationship of a blessed Savior.  This year for Advent I chose to do the theme on The names and titles of Christ”.  We don’t really spend much time thinking about all of the hats that he wears, it’s pretty daunting when you start naming them all.

November 2022

As we embark on the “season” that we focus on gratitude and thanksgiving, I have always puzzled why we only do this in November?  We are called to be thankful all year, and in all things.  OUCH!!  That can really be a tall order especially in the times when we are remembering loved ones who have passed, or life has dealt us a horrible hand and we feel far from thankful.  I get it.   

Most of you know, that this has been one of those “seasons” for me, far from just a month.  It is during these seasons that I feel more like David crying out to God for Help, mercy and grace.  Or Elijah after his world was crumbling, and afraid for his life ran away.  God protected him, nourished him with much needed food and rest, then directed him to the safety of a cave before he reminded Elijah who the Almighty God was.  He sent a violent wind that tore everything to pieces, then an earthquake and finally a fire.   

That was my last two weeks.  My best friend Carla’s husband, Roland passed away suddenly without warning.  It shook everyone.  An entire county is mourning.  He was an adopted dad to me.  We also had violent winds that week.  Then during the rash of fires, we had one break out just north of our home in Dunbar.  Thankfully the wind was from the south so it consumed the mile north and our home was spared.  I said if there is an earthquake that’s it.  The next day or so California experienced the largest earthquake they have had in a long time.  

It is in these times when the earth is shaking our world seems to be crumbling around where we are huddled, that instead of looking up or listening we play the same sad sob story that Elijah did.  We are far from thankful and focused only on all of the bad stuff that is happening.   

October 2022

Let Them See You in Me.  That was the song that Alex Conway, sang this last Sunday.  That is an especially touching song for me, on many accounts.  One I have a hard time singing it myself, as I am so humbled that God has chosen me to share his word, to be a Shepherd to many of his flock.  

Even starting back when I was a little girl singing and playing for church, on through college and the birth of my Music Ministry where I touched so many lives every week.   The words have always really resonated. Let them see you in me, let them hear you when I speak, let them feel you when I sing, let them see you, let them see you in me.  If those words are not tissue and choke-worthy themselves try listening as Alex is the one singing.  

See God brought Alex to us 13 years ago.  He was 17 when he came to Region 5 and shortly after we were asked to be his guardians.  This young man is blind and autistic.  He came from a very challenging home life, his mother passed when he was 9 and his father had many issues.  

August 2022

How is it even possible that it is time for another newsletter?  How is it possible that school starts in 10 days?  Where did our summer go?  Time seems to keep moving and very fast even though, maybe for you, it has seemed to stand still.  Time is a funny thing.  The same 60 minutes or seconds can either seem to fly by in a split blink of an eye, or it can seem like an eternity.  Ask anyone who has stood in front of a microwave or sat in a Dr.s office waiting for results.   

Jesus said he, with the Father created all time and space, time only exists as we know it in this external world.  However, in the spiritual realm there is no time, or space.  This is how God knows everything past, present and future.  We on the other hand always live in the past, even as the moment presents its self by the time our senses have captured it, technically it is already in the past.   

John and I are guardians for a young man who is autistic.  For him, he is always living in and looking to the future.  To the point when he finally gets what he has been waiting forever for, he can not even enjoy it, because for him his brain has moved on to the next thing in the future.  This young man can not live in or enjoy the present or past.  

June 2022

Shalom, Greetings in our Risen Lord!

Only in Nebraska can we go from one-day frost advisory, to almost 100 degrees. A drought to flood, from calm to 80 mph winds, and every other type of weather in between.  The old ad adage if you don’t like the weather wait 5 minutes couldn’t be any truer.   

Besides the external weather being totally off its rocker, I know for many in our congregations and beyond their lives feel the same way.  Out of control, out of sync, and a barrage of everything in between.  The sleepless nights and worried moments spent on waiting for a Doctor’s call or diagnosis, the countless trips to specialists hoping that maybe just one will have an answer, the hours waiting in a hospital or nursing home while a loved one recovers, the looming idea of surgery or nerve wracking procedure.   The thoughts of will things get back to normal, or is this the “new normal”, prevail on so many minds.   

April 2022

The Old Song “Stormy Weather” has been going through my head this last week. Maybe because we have been talking about the storms in our lives and those that Jesus calmed. Maybe because April is the month of rain and stormy weather, or maybe because we are embarking on Holy week and the major Stormy weather on the horizon. The last week of Jesus’ life was far from quiet or dull. In fact, before he rode into Jerusalem as King of Kings, the long awaited Messiah on the donkey, he had just brought Lazarus back from the dead! Talk about making an entry. As I stood there on the long extremely steep road that descended from the Mt. of Olives to the Kedron Valley, then back up to Jerusalem; I have to admit “Feeling that day”, imagining the pomp and circumstances, the palms waving and the people gleefully singing it gave me goose bumps and I was catapulted back in time.

Feb.2022

                   What a month! I don’t know if it is the economy and devaluation of our currency or just stress, but this month I feel like I only have 1 ½ cents to give.  You know the saying, “you have to laugh or you will cry”.  I know a lot of people reading this right now feel the same way.  To say that life the last few years has been “challenging”, is a major understatement.   

We are currently doing a sermon series; it started with appreciating the little things of each day even on those days where nothing seems to go right. Like just appreciating getting out of bed if that is the only thing you can do that day.   

Sept. 2022

How many of you like to work with your hands?  Or consider yourself crafty?  I would say that everyone has talents and gifts in something they enjoy whether they acknowledge it or not. For me, there is total satisfaction in taking a piece of wood and turning it into a work of art or using it to build something useful or cool.   

Maybe, starting with a blank canvas and watching as an image appears before your eyes, taking a piece of metal and welding it into a work of art or useful tool.  Or selecting the right pieces of material to fashion a beautiful quilt or piece of clothing.  I know some create models, build things with Legos, do puzzles, sing, play or create music, or start with a lump of clay and spin it into a masterpiece.

Did you ever realize that your love for crafts is an inborn desire to create?  That’s right when God created the world and everything in it, including YOU, he passed that same creative desire and ability on to us when he created us in “His image”.  Bet you hadn’t thought of that before.   

July 2022

Have you ever found yourself saying “I Got Nothin’?”  If you are like me, probably more times than you want to admit.  Life seems to hit not in 3s, but in 6s and 9s to the point that you can’t catch your breath or so it seems.  This can lead to major stress and burn out.  Or freaked out, or super anxiety, or hair loss, or…… yeah we’ve all been there.  So what do you do?  Do you find yourself getting mad at others more easily?  Do you want to stay in bed and pull up the covers?  Do you make a lot more trips to the fridge and pantry?  We all have ways in which we cope through those stress filled situations, most usually are not healthy ones.  How many times have you caught yourself picking up the Bible to find comfort and assurance?  We don’t usually do that, because to be honest, we may find answers and sometimes we just want to stay in that anxious chaos.

May 2022

Greetings in the name of our Risen Savior!  I pray this finds all of you in good spirits even if the physical form is not cooperating.  April was a great month for me it was Easter and my Birthday, doesn’t get much better than that.   

For those of you who have been following us on our journey of finishing up our home in Dunbar to get it ready to sell…. Good News!  It is on the market and ready for its new owners.  I have been praying for them and sending blessings their way for several years now.   

For all who have been asking it has been slow going for John since his accident in December.  Healing is a process and takes time, usually way longer than we would like.  Thank you for all of the prayers.  I thought I would take this opportunity to just “catch up” to thank you for everything you have done for us, the prayers lifted up, the cards sent, the phone calls and messages.  It means a lot to be part of a “family” and the body of Christ is definitely that!  I don’t know how I could possible live a single day without the close relationship I have with God.  And I don’t know how I could survive without the wonderful men and women that he has surrounded me with all of these years.   

March 2022

                   Whew! What a series we just did on Resiliency! I am energetically exhausted, but resilient. Ha I know for everyone reading this you have all been there, done that.  You have had those times when you were on the mountain tops ready to tackle the world, and then those times when you found yourself on a mudslide to the valley below with nowhere to look but up. I get it.  And then maybe you are where I am at right now, the mountain top and the valley at the same time.  How does one do that?  But it happens.  You have part of your life that is riding high and energized and the other part that has had it, wiped out and exhausted all resources with only God to lift you up out of the miry pit.  Life is full of oxymorons, surprises, struggles, unsurmountable joys, and pain.

January 2022

We have just come off a season of preparing.  Preparing for what? Well that is a good question

For the last two years we have found ourselves preparing during the pandemic. Preparing for shortages, preparing for rising prices, preparing whatever may lie ahead and Oh Yeah.  Preparing for the anticipation of the arrival of our Lord and Savior.   

Sometimes in the craziness of life one of the biggest events can seem to be an, Oh yeah one more thing to fit into our schedules.  Maybe it is because Jesus came over 2000 years ago.  He’s no longer a baby.  Maybe it is because we have lost the yearning for his return.