2 Cents from Pastor Penny
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.
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.
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.
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.
How fitting that this month would be a time for reflection on “Thankfulness”. I can not think of a better way that to express my heartfelt thankfulness and overwhelming blessings that YOU have showered upon me. The gifts, cards and written encouragements meant more than you will ever know. This time of year is a conundrum for me. While yes sometimes over my 15 years this calling can seem like my words fall on deaf ears, at times frustrating or thankless, but it is also a time that I have had congregations come along side me and give me support like I have never experienced. I would be lying if I said that the last 2 years have not been extremely stressful between COVID, rethinking ministry, keeping up with those who are still home, reaching out to new souls that have been searching, trying to brainstorm ways to bring the flock back into the fold of the churches, and the ever increasing memorial services that I have had the honor of lifting up in celebration. And that’s not even touching the normal family stressors, but all that being said I have felt your love and continued support lifting me up and the prayers that helped kept me going on the long hard days, weeks and months. I say it is a conundrum, because I feel like we need a time for Congregation appreciation as well.
Shalom! As I write this, I couldn’t help but see how the events in our family’s lives are lining right up with the revelations and sermon topic that I am finally getting to do on Sunday.
John and I have been making the trek every weekend to work on our home in Nebraska City, preparing to finish it so we can put it on the market. Hopefully sometime this fall. With each trip we have to think and rethink what we will need for tools and material to take, and then what we may need to bring back for the coming week. Soon we will get to say goodbye to that home and just focus on our new home.
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.
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.
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.
Joy To the World The Lord Has Come, and….. Is Coming Again! We sing this carol every year and usually only at Christmas time, but did you know that this famous hymn is not even a Christmas Hymn per say? Oh, sure it fits and is festive, but the author of this hymn was writing about Christ’s true Divinity and second coming. The same is true with the song “The Holy City” which we hear mostly around Palm Sunday. Sometimes our focus is narrow and we look at the world through blinders. We focus only on Christ’s birth one time a year, but miss the all-important return of the King of Glory. We have all been guilty at one time or another of waiting until Christmas to “get in the mood” to celebrate and focus on the King of Kings, The Lord of Hosts, The Creator of the Universe, Yeshua the author of Salvation and perfector of our faith, instead of carrying that joy, excitement and wonder though out the entire year.