I love to work—always have and probably always will. Coming from a large household of six children, I learned early-on to chip-in and do my part of the work of keeping up a home. Washing dishes, for example, has its own reward: you start with a messy kitchen and, with just a little work, end with a sparkling clean counter and dishes. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well-done. I wish that feeling for everyone.
Paul instructed the Christians in Colosse: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
I’m not sure of my own motivation for loving to work and perhaps it varied over the years, but I always wanted to work. From around age 10 until my mid-teens, the calendar was usually filled with babysitting jobs in the neighborhood. I think the trick was that not only did I get along well with their children, but I also spruced-up their homes for them while babysitting. Even though I never had my own children, the skills of working with a variety of people served me well in teaching and in life.
I’ve had many other jobs through the years (tourist shop clerk, waitress [the only job I think I did really poorly!], grocery store butcher, head cook in an Italian restaurant, hotel maid and janitor, insurance report reviewer and file clerk, motor vehicle clerk, state trooper dispatcher, secretary, deputy city clerk, etc.). I finally earned my elementary education degree and then retired after teaching for 21 years. I loved the learning that went along with every single one of those jobs and found that the skills learned translated into other parts of life, too!
When I moved to Idaho, I tried just being retired, but I ended up working remotely for six months for the city clerk of my former community by writing resolutions and an election manual to implement mail-in voting there. When that job was over, I began working as receptionist at the church, job-sharing with Laura Koepke, and later Chris Gray, so we could still enjoy our retirements, too. During these difficult times (don’t you want that now-trite phrase to disappear from our language?), Chris and I have been fortunate to continue our regular work from our homes. To produce the Sunday slides, we start with just words in a Worship Order and end up with the visual representations you see during the services. It’s very rewarding for us to see the results and hopefully enhances your worship experience, too.
I really DO love to work! When I recently read about all the places in our area looking for employees, I was astonished! All these skills to be learned are going to waste! All these experiences to be had are not being utilized! All the new people to meet, learn from, teach are not being enjoyed! It’s sad for me to know that so many people are out of work right now.
I’ve been fortunate that the longest I’ve been without work (when I wanted it) was five days. My dad always said that I just had a “Good, old-fashioned, German work ethic.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that I didn’t do the jobs just for the money--even though I also enjoy that aspect of work. I love to learn new things, but I don’t usually think about my motivation to want to work.
Perhaps Paul expressed it best for me in Galatians 6:4-5: Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. I pray that the Lord will empower us to take our “messy kitchen” of a world right now and restore it to a sparkling clean one, one that allows people to work and experience the pride in a job well-done. I pray that He can show us that our world can get back towhere we come out the other side with a new appreciation for work and for the life we’ve been given so that we learn to make the most of it. There is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. Hebrews 4:9-10
I think I’ll keep working until I find my eternal rest. May you experience that same joy. Your friend in Christ, Emily
Lately I have found myself looking forward to lots of things. Looking forward to when we are all back together again at church. Looking forward to a stocked toilet paper aisle at the store. Looking forward to warm weather. Looking forward to that day—way in the future—when I pay off the house I just bought. Looking forward to summer camping trips, fishing with my grandson, new clothes, sunshine, dinner with loved ones, and some “me” time.
It’s funny that when I list out things I look forward to, they are centered on one main theme, “ me”. Things I want to have, things I want to do, and things that make me feel the way I want to feel. Not that all these things are bad or unnecessary, but the focus is still just plain ol’ me.
In 2 Peter 3, we are urged to look forward to something as well. This chapter has some pretty challenging stuff to think about. Peter is urging the church to live holy lives and to look forward to something bigger than themselves: the day of God. The funny thing is when I first read this chapter, the day of God seems like a pretty scary day and not something I would naturally look forward to. I want new clothes and sunshine, not destruction and fire! But when I read just a bit further I find that God wants new things, too: a new heaven and a new earth.
What a contrast to my little list of wants! A new heaven and new earth; that pretty much encompasses everything I could ever think of looking forward to! The whole purpose of this new heaven and new earth is so that righteousness has a place to live. Righteous people living with a righteous God, living in a new way in a new place. No sickness, no injustice, no fear, no night, no more unrighteous hearts and the unrighteous actions that cause so much hurt.
God is already righteous, so this day is not something He needs to look forward to for Himself. He longs for this day for us. God is looking forward to the day when we are in that new place with Him. Where our tears are wiped away, our clothes are new and bright, and we are finally released from sin and death. No wonder that in this chapter Peter urges the church to look forward to that day and to speed its coming. Peter knew that God’s focus of looking forward is about us. 2 Peter 3 is an excellent reminder to look forward to something bigger than my list of “me” and focus on a day that is truly worth looking forward to.
My Fitbit died this week. Some of you might know that I wear a Fitbit (fancy pedometer) because I like to track the number of steps I take every day. It also tracks my sleep, which either confirms or denies the quality of my sleep—good and bad ☺. It’s part of my self-imposed “healthy-as-I-can-be” lifestyle regime. When it failed this week, I was at a loss. A little …
For my blog topic, I was going to write about something profound. Something about what’s going on in our society and community right now. I’d been giving it a lot of thought. Why do we judge? What is implicit bias? Why are we prejudiced? What is it about racial equality that some people can’t accept?
I’m not an expert, and the truth is that I don’t feel I’m qualified to talk about any of that. Try as I will, I can’t begin to understand the intricacies or the psychology behind prejudices.
I mostly hope and pray that I am not. Here is what I found that I wanted to share with you:
This Sunday morning I was listening to one of my favorite radio stations as I was prepping for church. It’s a country music station based in San Jose, CA and broadcasts a show that chronicles the top-30 country hits from the previous week (Lon Helton hosts for those in the know).
This week’s guest was asked, “What have you learned about yourself during this time of quarantine?” He answered, “Gratitude”. He was grateful for the small things, like going to a restaurant, connecting with friends, and more.
That started me thinking of the things I’m grateful for: the things I have, e.g. a working Fitbit ☺ but more importantly my relationships: my husband, my children, my friends, all of you, and possibly mostly importantly: my relationship with our loving God.
I have experienced a relatively privileged life, and I don’t mean economically, but rather in the loving, accepting relationships in my life. Love and kindness have been modeled by so many, and I hope I have learned to do the same. I am grateful for those lessons. In a world filled with turmoil and unrest, we, as humans, have an opportunity to model good behavior. We can create and enable those relationships.
Here are a few of my favorite thoughts about gratitude: Gratitude Quotes
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
“As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful way of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us.” – James E. Faust
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ― Melody Beattie
“Today I choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills my heart, the peace that rests within my spirit, and the voice of hope that says all things are possible.” – Anonymous
Geoff Rinehart said this past Sunday morning, “We can hope and work for a better tomorrow and love like Jesus.” I am confident that we can all hope and work for a better tomorrow and be grateful for the goodness we've been given.
The year 2020 has been an eye-opening year so far with the world pandemic and civil unrest all around us. It is easy to become disheartened, which is where I have been occasionally in the recent months. It’s times like these that we need to remember the good things that God has done in our lives, because as His children, He is ever-present in our lives. This time has caused me to look deeper into God’s Word and to have a more meaningful time of prayer in my personal time with the Lord each morning. It has also helped me see, with fresh eyes, how God is working in my life each day. It causes me to have a more joyful heart and to want to celebrate!
I want to share the great blessing that I am celebrating today, June 8th: my mother! My mother turned 84 years old today! This lady has been a huge influence for me in so many ways that have helped me become the person that I am today. Growing up, I was painfully shy. She made sure that I was involved in activities to help bring me out of my shyness: Bluebirds, grade-school and high-school band, 4-H, Tae kwon do, acting in plays, participating in parades, and modeling. Being a highly intelligent woman, she taught me that the only thing that could hold me back from pursuing my dreams is me. She taught me to set my mind on my goal and go for it. My mother was also my best friend as I grew up; we shared many interests and did everything together. She was my biggest fan, and I am hers.
Sadly, my mother has Alzheimer’s, and there are days when she does not remember that I am her daughter. I am grateful, though, that she is still in my life and that I get to be with her. There are days that she is very aware of who I am and we get to enjoy that relationship. Other days, I just get to love on her.
This is the Bible verse that stood out to me today: How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. Psalm 31:19. In His Name, Stephanie
The last year has been the happiest of my life! Nine months ago, God gave my wife and me our amazing little Holden. Every single day, my perfect son has brought so much joy to me–even when he has decided for the moment to not be so perfect with his endless antics.
I have to confess that I feel somewhat guilty. While so many have struggled with being trapped in their homes, I’ve been where I am the happiest. My home is filled with the love God blessed us with. It is amazing how much He has added to my home by growing our little family.
The current health crisis has shown me how much love people in this world have for one another. People who have very little to fear protect others by staying at home and wearing masks. Many put themselves at risk so that others in the community can get the care they need. We do a hundred difficult things because we love our neighbors. Those difficult things seem so small when we do them out of love.
Whenever our lives go through major changes–whether it’s becoming a parent or surviving the pandemic–we can learn what we are capable of. Having my son in my life has shown me how capable I am of being a father. Over the last several months, my wife and I have gone through the process of getting our foster care licenses. The idea of adopting a child into my home once seemed impossible, but it feels natural now to add someone new to it. In giving me my son, God has shown me how much space I have in my heart and in my home to fill with love. God has shown all of us how much love there is in the world by inspiring us to do good for one another.
Foster parents get praised for being there to help family, but to most of them, it seems like such a small burden since it is out of love. The world is full of people that do wonderful things because God’s gift of love makes the burden light. God has shown me how much love we have for each other. Of the many, many gifts God has given me, being able to love others has been my favorite.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friend. John 15:13
It is bright. It is bold. It is something to behold. These resilient flowers flourished in the middle of so much chaos and destruction, growing in the thousands upon thousands. It also serves as an important symbol to our veterans, honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The red poppy. In the spring of 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt. Colonel John McCrae was so moved by the sight of these poppies growing in the midst of such bleakness, that it inspired him to write the now famous poem, “In Flanders Field.”
This poem then inspired an American academic named Moina Michael to adopt the poppy in memory of those who had fallen in the war. She campaigned to get it adopted as an official symbol of remembrance across the United States and worked with others who were trying to do the same in Canada, Australia, and the UK. Also involved with those efforts was a French woman, Anna Guerin, who was in the UK in 1921 where she planned to sell poppies in London.
There she met Earl Haig, founder of the Royal British Legion, who was persuaded to adopt the poppy as an emblem for the Legion in the UK. The Legion, which had been formed in 1921, ordered nine million poppies and sold them on 11 November of that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately. The first “Poppy Appeal” raised over 106,000 pounds to help veterans with housing and jobs—a considerable sum at the time. Today’s “Poppy Appeal” consists of 40,000 volunteers who distribute 40 million poppies.
In view of how rapidly the poppies had sold and wanting to ensure plenty of poppies for the next appeal, Major George Howson set up the Poppy Factory to employ disabled ex-servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.
The demand for poppies in England continued unabated and was so high, that few poppies actually managed to reach Scotland. To address the growing demand, Earl Haig’s wife, Dorothy, established the “Lady Haig Poppy Factory” in Edinburgh in 1926 to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland.
Remembrance today is very different than it was 100 years ago. Yet, people take part whatever their political or religious beliefs. The poppy remains a humble, poignant symbol of remembrance and hope.
Now that the history lesson is done, it’s time to stop and smell the flowers. Isn’t nature even prettier when it represents such a beautiful story? Blessings, Chris
Last weekend, I had the lovely opportunity to get together with my four sisters and my mom for a lunch and cousin visit. It had been such a long time since we were all together. It was precious to say the least.
My mom had called us all together to give us a surprise gift. We truly had no clue what it would be, but my mom mentioned that it would be very special. My parents have been married for 43 years. For their 40th wedding anniversary, my dad gave my mom a new wedding set. Her old set was in desperate need of repair and was unwearable. Our gift was a gold necklace set with a small diamond from her original wedding set. I cannot imagine a more special way to honor the original ring!
As I reflected upon the gift that evening, I thought of 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” My mom’s original ring was worn, broken, and tarnished. Yet, with a little help, the ring was made into an entirely new creation. It was made clean and transformed into something that didn’t even resemble its old form. This is exactly what Christ does for us. When we invite Jesus into our worn, broken lives, he promises to make us new. We may even become unrecognizable as Christ transforms our hearts and lives to look more like his. What a precious gift. In His Service, Carley
I like my name. Bonnie is not a common name, and it means beautiful. My mom said she named me after her best friend when she was young. From my point of view, my name is pretty nice. But the name Bonnie does not really tell you much about who I am; there is no definition of my personhood, history, or future. For that you need to use some other words like wife, mom, friend, believer, planner, decision-maker, explorer, or my current favorite, nana.
However, my name is nothing compared to Jesus. In fact, Paul told the Philippians that God gave Jesus the name that is above every name; and that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth. (Philippians 2) I never heard of anyone bowing down to my name!
If you do a Google image search for the name of Jesus, you will find many artistic compilations of some of the names used for Jesus. Messiah, truth, word, gift of God. Words that describe who Jesus is, names that define how He interacts with us, and phrases to clarify His position. Names that tell the past, present, and future beautifully wrapped up in the name I AM.At the mention of His name, the enemy must flee from us, and the lost are saved.
Then there are names that help me know Jesus in my day-to-day life: When I am lost, He is The Way When I am fearful, He is the Power of God When I sin, He is the Friend of Sinners When I am sick, He is the Physician When I am sad, He is the Man of Sorrows When I am spiritually hungry, He is Living Bread When I am broken by life, He is Counselor When I need wisdom, He is Teacher When I face death, He is Eternal Life When I need a safe place, He is Sanctuary When I am held hostage by life, He is my Ransom When things are dark, He is the Bright and Morning Star When I am ashamed, He is Holy
No wonder Paul said His name was above every other name. The Bible used so many names for Jesus so we could know Him, understand Him and be close to Him. Jesus was never meant to be far away from us. He came to earth to understand us, to make himself known to us, and to suffer with us. Jesus longs for us to call out His name. I encourage you to spend some time this week exploring the many names of Jesus in the Bible. We may be familiar with names like Redeemer and Good Shepherd, but what about Seed of the Woman, Second Man, and Rock of Offense? The Bible gave us the many names of Jesus so we could know Him better. Surely Jesus is the most beautiful name I know. In His Name, Bonnie
During our last staff meeting with Pastor Craig before he went on his 3-month sabbatical, he asked us to think about all the changes that have come with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked us to think about the negative effects and the positive effects. And, what do we wish to be the new normal for ourselves? Since I’d already been thinking a lot about this, figured it’d be a good time to put down my thoughts on paper.
Probably one of the most noticeable negative effects is distancing myself from others. I’m a people-person and get a lot of energy from being around my church friends. Beginning when I walk from the parking lot into the building, I enjoy greeting folks passing by with comments about the day and sharing kindnesses with others. Walking through Krueger Hall, I invariably share greetings with folks I know and those I don’t yet know. It’s such a great feeling to be around so many other people who come together to worship the Lord, too! Then, as I share hugs with my friends, greeting them in the love of God…ah, such a warm and wonderful feeling! Following the always meaningful sermon, I get to delve into events in the lives of friends over coffee and that guilty pleasure of my half-donut treat. I always leave Sunday morning service uplifted, with a smile on my face and the warmth of having shared love with my church family. I miss my church family!
Another negative effect has been disturbing the routine of being able to pop into Super 1, the Dollar Store, JoAnn’s Fabrics, Walgreens, etc. whenever I had a notion to. Another guilty pleasure has been the occasional stop at McDonald’s for a cheeseburger (plain) and iced tea (large) or a drive-through of Starbucks (16-oz iced mocha/non-fat/no-whip, please). I miss that freedom to act on those impulses.
I also have found new attitudes about boundaries when in a position of being around total strangers, say, in a grocery store, public restroom, or on a sidewalk. Is this a feeling of fear (they might be passing me a virus)? Is this resentment (they’re “using-up” my air-space)? Is this conflicting emotions (I want to chat with strangers/I don’t want to be anywhere around strangers)? I don’t like these feelings of being uncomfortable around my fellow man at all! I miss the openness and comfort of being around others.
But, what about the positive effects? Well, I truly enjoy participating in the YouTube worship (in my nightgown) and seeing live posts from around the country and the world. It makes me feel connected seeing Ray Weaver playing the piano; Rob & Shastina Blackston singing from their home; Pastor Craig delivering the sermon from his living room. I enjoy not having the half-hour drive to downtown Coeur d’Alene for service and work. It has surprised me greatly that I have enjoyed the online worship!
I also cannot believe how much money I’m saving by not giving in to those inspirational trips to the grocery store where I always pick-up more than I had planned! And, those stops at McDonald’s and Starbucks have helped to ease the cash and calorie wallets. So, yeah, those have been positive effects.
My knowledge base has deepened by using new tools that I probably never would have tried on my own. If you’ve reached one of us on the church office phone during the last few weeks, you’ve been talking to me in Rathdrum, Chris in Hayden, Stephanie in Post Falls, or Bonnie actually in Coeur d’Alene (yet, not usually physically at the church). In fact, Chris and I use a duplicate of the computer we normally use in the church office, but it’s on our own home computers! Wild! Our staff meetings and ChristCare group meetings have been taking place by Zoom while seeing one another all in a grid on the same screen. Now, those are crazy concepts to me! But, it’s amazing how readily I have adapted to that way of doing business! That’s been a big positive effect.
But along with the specific negative effects and the positive effects, I must admit to feeling worry about how all these things will affect the future.
I’m concerned about removing the personal barriers I’ve built around myself. Will I be able to do that readily? Will I continue to shy away from others, so I don’t get someone else’s germs or give them ones I didn’t know I had? My wish is that this feeling of self-protection flies out the window soon! As a people-person, I’ll be quite glad if it disappears—or will I? It’s that worry that’s haunting me right now.
So, yes, Pastor Craig, there is the advent of the new normal on our doorstep. There are exciting new ways to do things, new awareness of our surroundings, but there are some worries out there, too.
I love the Coeur d’Alene Press (the print edition, please!) and especially enjoy its Sunday feature article by Harvey Mackay. He shares upbeat advice for business and in life as told through his stories and examples. Knowing that I needed the reminders, I had recently cut out two quotes from an article he wrote on worrying. The first quote on my wall is, “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” The other one is, “Worry pulls tomorrow’s cloud over today’s sunshine.” They spoke loudly to me!
Two thousand years before, Paul wrote to the people of Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Thank you, Lord, for presenting this opportunity for us to grow. Thank you, also, for guiding us through these deep waters. I need to trust that You have brought us to this time of “40” for a reason. May I respond with acceptance of the “new normal” You have in mind for me. Your friend in Christ, Emily Rogers
A very dear friend permanently moved to Hawaii with her husband a few years ago. On one hand, I mourned the move because rather than being on the mainland and a few hours away by airplane, she was now an ocean away. On the other hand, I now have a friend to visit who actually lives in Hawaii. Not a bad thing at all!
During my last visit she took me to the Maui Coffee Company (more than once) where we enjoyed amazing coffee and various treats. There is something about drinking coffee with a friend, and sitting on a porch looking out over an old pineapple plantation. Heaven.
These meandering thoughts led to me think about community and why it’s so important, whether it’s as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend or joining in worship with our community of believers. During this time of physical separation, community is more important than ever.
I found an interesting article by Jeff Nieman that discusses why community is important for spiritual growth. He reflects that as western culture emphasizes the importance of the individual, that technology has distracted us and we have become more disconnected than ever.
He says ‘Christians have even incorporated this individualism into the way we follow God. Individual study and prayer are great, but if they are our primary methods of spiritual growth, we miss out on the important benefits of experiencing Christ with others.’
We need each other. We need to support and pray for each other. Jeff says, ‘We need to meet together to encourage and support one another.’ Meeting together is something that will happen when the time is right.
The good news is that 1st Pres is pretty brilliant when it comes to community. We have proven over these past many weeks that we can be separated and yet come together in worship, and in loving and supporting each other.
Well done 1st Pres!
May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. Genesis 28:3 In His Service, Janet