The church I attend has been without a permanent Pastor for approximately two years. Our Bishop called Pastor Michael Kemper, who is a full-time Interim Pastor, to fill in and shepherd our flock.
After the entrance hymn, opening prayers, and before the readings, Pastor Mike invites the little children to join him on the steps to the altar to sit around him as he shares a story, on their level, based on the Bible readings for the day. Pastor Mike’s first children’s sermon was a little longer than our church family had ever heard. The second week, a little boy asked Pastor if he was going to tell them a long story again. Oh, such honesty. 🙂 As time pressed forward, Pastor Mike told his stories at whatever length was necessary to get the message across and I feel that no one, young or old, concerned themselves with a time limit as he is an engaging story-teller. My inner child would always run up to the altar, with the little children, to hear their special sermon.
Pastor Mike never gave a bad sermon to the adults either. Truly, I wish he would write books as I know he would be my favorite author.
On October 2, 2011, we will blot tears from our eyes as we wave good-bye to Pastor Mike and his lovely wife, Jane. The Bishop has a new assignment for our favorite Interim Pastor. My inner child is throwing a tantrum because I do not want him to leave. My adult self understands that people must pass through our lives as they serve God’s purpose for our growth as well as their own. If I feel this way about my Interim Pastor, just think how the people felt in the towns that Jesus passed through during his ministry. I hope our paths will cross again on this earth, but if not, I will look for Pastor Mike in heaven some day.
Pastor Mike, you have given our church stability at a time we felt broken, prayed for us when we could not, and shared your smile every time we saw you. Our congregation is blessed to have been under your leadership. I pray the church(es) you serve will realize you are a blessing from God.
As the sun warms the earth, on this beautiful summer day,
I become one with nature.
I am a spectator at a game of tag…two squirrels race around a tree, while two birds dart in and out of the trees above them.
The school of orange fish fellowship while nibbling on the unsuspecting bugs that land for a quick swim in the pond. Frogs croak contentedly as they sun themselves on the lily-pads nearby.
I have become a person of interest to a mob of tiny bees as I sit quietly on my blanket in the grass.
Birds call out to each other from tree to tree competing to see who can be the loudest.
The soft breeze energizes the leaves of the trees to serenade me with the sound of nature’s tambourines.
As the sun warms the earth, on this beautiful summer day, I realize how small I am as I become one with nature.
New International Version (NIV)
I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine.
Every summer weekend, during the first 12 years of my life, my family would pack our things in the car to head south. As my dad maticulously packed the car so everything would fit a family of 7, he’d yell out to my brothers and I, “Go get your Polish suitcase!” Yes, we had Polish suitcases…otherwise known as a brown grocery bag. My little clothes for two days fit perfectly in my Polish suitcase. This memory brings a grin to my face. I wonder, was this a well-known piece of luggage in other households or was this just my dad being his goofy self?
Twenty minutes later, we’d stick our heads out the car windows as my father slowed down so we could greet the cows in their native tongue, “Moooooo!!” Jostling side-by-side and to-and-fro we knew the dirt road we were on meant minutes to a fun-filled weekend at the cottage.
The best weekend for me was the end of June when aunts, uncles and cousins would arrive to celebrate my birthday. Our Polish heritage was in rare form. We had Polkas blaring from our portable radios during the Polka-Time radio show for 3 hours on Saturday afternoon. One adult would sneak away to the party-line telephone and call in a special request wishing me a very special birthday. It was such a treat to hear my name announced on the radio and a song played in my honor. I felt like a celebrity on my birthday.
I wish I could turn back the hands of time and spend one more birthday at the cottage with the family. The clang of horseshoes, water splashing in the lake and people baking in the sun…what a carefree life. The celebration was topped off with birthday cake made by the talented, loving hands of my mother. Always delicious.
My birthday is June 24. Although many of the family members that used to celebrate with me are in Heaven now, and the cottage has been sold many years ago, I will cherish these memories forever.
Psalm 146:2 (NIV)
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
It has been nearly two years since we last saw each other. From what Jesus said in the Bible, you are experiencing great weather, you are walking around, dancing, running, enjoying time with your family and friends, no tears, no fears, you are living in a mansion, you get to see Jesus face to face, and spend time praising God with all the angels and saints. You are living the life that was prepared for you.
Life has gone on since your departure. I cannot lie; I was really in a funk for the first year after you left. I attempted grad school, but I could not concentrate. My mind’s eye focused on your final years of suffering as your earthly body deteriorated from illness. Time heals, if you let it, and I let it work for me.
Last night, I was looking at pictures from our time together. Oh, how I miss visiting with you! I wish I could hear your voice and your laugh just once more. You had such a great demeanor. You took on your Heavenly Father’s characteristic of unconditional love. You followed His leading on how to be a great father to your children and a loving husband to your wife.
Thank you, Papason, for the life you gave me. Thank you for many, many great memories.
Happy Father’s day! I look forward to seeing you again. I hope my room in the Heavenly mansion is next to yours.
Deuteronomy 5:16 (NIV)
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
My drive from Michigan to Ohio was absolutely beautiful. Michigan had experienced an ice-storm and every branch of the crystalized trees glittered for miles, superior to any display of Christmas lights I have ever seen, as the sunshine brought them to life. My simple little camera would not have captured the beauty that was before me; therefore, the photo album is etched in my memory.
To silence oneself for a few days is not as hard as imagined; I accomplished this during the last weekend in March in a most serene setting in Ohio at a silent directed retreat. About 25 others attended this quiet-time to contemplate and discern God in our lives. We were blessed with trained Spiritual Directors to guide us in this journey.
The first evening, we were able to speak with others while sharing a meal. I was one of three participants from Michigan, and I met some awesome Ohioans. We may have talked for 45 minutes or so, but much was shared within those precious minutes. After the meal, we met in a room together to share what was on our hearts this weekend. When it was my turn to speak, I explained that about a month ago, I had a very vivid dream of someone telling me to “minister to the church”. My personal task then was to spend time with God to see just what that meant.
We were assigned one of four Spiritual Directors and we broke into smaller groups to meet with them for further instruction about the weekend and to set up our personal meeting times. After this short meeting, we were excused to begin our journey into silence.
Back in my room, I had a hard time settling in. Earlier that morning, my mother was rushed to emergency and diagnosed with a treatable form of congestive heart failure. It was on my mother’s urging that I go ahead and make my journey to Ohio as I had planned for months. I silently kept in contact with my siblings by receiving updates about my mother’s condition via text messaging.
One awesome cook made all of our meals. Eating in silence was an experience I had never encountered. We acknowledged each other with smiles, but then focused on our food before us and the beauty of the landscape that surrounded us through all the windows in the dining area. We took turns cleaning up the kitchen after each meal. I signed up for clean up duty after breakfast on Saturday morning. I broke the silence in the dining area when I accidently dropped a drinking glass onto the ceramic tiled floor.
Spring was not in the air; however, God gave us sunshine every day. I bundled up and took a walk along the paths in the woods and I walked around the pond and next to a stream. I spotted beautiful birds that I never see in Michigan, I heard the jack-hammer pounding of the Woodpeckers high up in the trees, and two sets of geese were making their homes near the pond. It was so beautiful.
Sitting in silence and letting the Holy Spirit speak to my heart was quite an amazing experience. Spending time in prayer, God’s word, in His creation, and simply resting in Him, made me realize that He is not quiet at all.
During our closing session, we went around the room, as we had at the beginning, and shared what the Holy Spirit spoke to us in our silent journey. This is what I said:
On Thursday, I announced that I wanted to know what my dream meant to “minister to the church”. I found out that answer this weekend.
To minister means to care for others. The church are people everywhere.
The Holy Spirit allowed me to search deep inside of me to remind myself that I love to help people. I have sewing skills, listening skills, writing skills and support skills that I can creatively use to serve God’s people. Although I have ideas on how to utilize my passions and skills, it will be the Holy Spirit that will lead me. I will spend more time in prayer and in God’s word as they will strengthen me.
Philippians 4:13 is my take-away verse:
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
I did not want to leave the serenity of the weekend. My Spiritual Director explained that this is an experience. I can take this experience with me, lean on it, remember it and be thankful for it. I can create new experiences to spend quality, quiet-time with the Holy Spirit. When she said this to me, it didn’t make sense. Only after being immersed into the world once again, do I understand. It is important for all of us to sneak away, quiet ourselves and let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts as it is true nourishment for the soul. Now I understand why Jesus took time alone to pray to his Father. He was being strengthened for His journey to the cross.
A special Thank You to Sister Virginia, my Spiritual Director. May God continue to use you for His good works.
Imagine sitting at a window on a rainy day. You notice one small droplet at the top of the window is motivated by gravity. Rolling down the window, it zigs left and it zags right, left, right, left right… picking up other droplets on its journey. This once small droplet has turned into a bigger mass of water landing as a puddle at the base of the window. One final tug from gravity and it drops to the ground below, next to a flower in bloom.
What if this droplet is your hunger for God in your life? The Holy Spirit ignites desire in your heart to know more about God and the life of Jesus. You begin searching for answers. The droplets of information could come from Bible Studies, church sermons, Christian mentors, personal prayer time, service work and fellowship with other Christians. The momentum from this desire in your heart begins to overflow and you cannot help but share it with others.
Do not imagine watching the droplet zig-zag down the window; be the droplet to the world.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.