Posts

"Keep Calm and ...!"

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You’ve probably seen it written on social media posts, t-shirts, posters, etc.: “Keep Calm and…!”  It comes in many forms, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” “Keep Calm and Have Fun,” “Keep Calm and Keep Learning,” “Keep Calm and Keep Dancing.”  I even saw one that says, “Keep Calm and Eat a Banana!” I guess you can finish the sentence in whatever way you like.  I think we would all agree, however, keeping calm can be easier said than done. That is especially true when life is throwing it’s curveballs; when things don’t turn out the way we expected or hoped they would; when the stresses of the day seem to be mounting at an ever-increasing pace.  The world in which we live—one that is filled with all kinds of disasters, tragedies, conflict, and hardships—has a way of stirring up anxiety and fear. It’s not always easy to just “Keep Calm and….”  So what do we do when we find ourselves filling up with anxiety and fear—when it seems as if it is impossible to keep calm? Oh, I know people come up with

The Playlist of Your Life!

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One of the things I like about using a music service such as Spotify is the ability to set up playlists. By doing so, one can choose a genre of music, a set of artists or songs that fit into that genre, or even the kind of beat or vibe one wants and pull together a number of songs into a playlist. I have a bunch of playlists that I use at various times, some based on a favorite artist, some based on what I’m going to use that playlist for. For example, I have a Workout/Running playlist, a Prayer playlist, a Danny Gokey playlist, a James Taylor playlist, a Spanish Worship playlist, and more. I even have one I call, “TK4EVER”—I’ll let you guess what that one is!   The really nice thing about listening to music through a music service, as opposed to listening on the radio, is that we as listeners are completely in control. We get to choose exactly what we want to hear. And, if we don’t want to hear a song or get tired of one, we can skip or even delete that song.  Again, we as listeners a

My New Personal Assistant

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For Christmas, Kim bought me a new personal assistant. No, I’m not speaking about someone to replace Lisa who works as my administrative assistant in our church office. Kim bought me a Google Nest Hub that has a screen for display, built in speakers, and can control lights, my smart TV,  thermostats, play music and podcasts, etc. It even plays games!  So now all I need to do is speak commands like, “Hey Google! Turn on the kitchen lights!” or “Hey Google! Play Spotify!” or “Hey Google! Tell me today’s weather!” and, behold it happens—lights come on, music begins to play, and I get the weather. I can even set routines so that when I say, “Hey Google! Good night!” I get the next day’s weather, my first appointment for the following day, and the lights get turned off. My new personal assistant does pretty well at obeying my every command (as long as I have properly set it up!).  In some ways, it feels a bit weird for me to be barking out commands and have them obeyed as fully as they are

Almost Christmas!

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The countdown is coming to an end. In two days it will be Christmas Day!  The decorating, shopping, baking, and so much more, will climax in all the celebrations and gatherings that take place on December 25. The day that we as Christians have set aside to remember our Savior’s birth is almost here. It’s almost Christmas!   For me, the month of December can feel a bit frenzied. As a pastor I’m working hard to make sure the services for the month and especially for Christmas Eve (and this year Christmas Day) will inspire our congregation to worship and help us remember why it is we celebrate Christmas in the first place. And, as a husband and father I’m busy helping decorate, get the cards in the mail, shop for gifts, and prepare our home for guests. (I don’t do any of the baking!) Admittedly, I can go a bit overboard, especially when it comes to the filling  of the Christmas stockings. Now that it’s almost Christmas, I can feel the momentum moving quickly towards that very special day.

The Small Things of Christmas

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As I look at the decorations that make our house feel like Christmas, I can’t help but notice how many small things have been placed around our home. From small nativity sets, some of which come from places like Peru and Israel, to the little Santa globe sitting on the kitchen window sill, I find that it’s the little things that add to that feeling of Christmas when you come into our home. It’s not just the big tree standing in the living room, but the small ornaments that hang on it; it’s not just the stockings hung on the fireplace, but the many small things that get placed within them that add to the celebration of Christmas.  On the other hand, I think we would all agree that we are just naturally attracted to big things. In spite of saying, “Good things come in small packages,” when given a choice, we tend towards the large package. We take trips to go and see the largest Christmas tree.  We want the big break, look for that big job, we like to hang out with the big shots. At time

A New Ornament Each Year

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From the time each of our children was born, we have given to them each year a new ornament to hang on the Christmas tree. It began with the Hallmark ornaments that noted each of their first five Christmases. It has then continued with a new ornament each year to hang on the tree and then be stored for the rest of the year in their own box. When it’s time to decorate our Christmas tree, each of them (and now their spouses alongside of them), take their box and decorate one part of the tree with their set of ornaments.  And, we continue to give to them an ornament each year; the only difference today is that, now that they are married, they get to take the new ornament to their home to hang on their own Christmas tree.   As I look at the various ornaments on our tree, many of them bring back memories of years gone by. They help me recall the times when our children were yet filled with the awe that Christmas just naturally brings a child.  As we hang the ornaments collected through the

Waiting at the Arrival Gate!

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I’m sure just about all of us have had the experience of going to an airport to pick someone up and waiting at the arrival gate. Although I’ve been in that situation numerous times, the most memorable was when our daughter Joanna was returning from her semester spent in Vienna, Austria. As Kim and I stood by the arrival gate, we did so anticipating that any moment Joanna would come through the gate, pulling her luggage and carrying her viola. After months of not seeing her (except a few times via Facetime), our adrenaline was pumping as the excitement began to build. Then, after what felt like an eternity of waiting, we spotted her coming towards us. Within a few moments all of our anticipation had become a reality. Joanna was home. (See picture) Of course, lots of hugs were in order! This season into which we have now entered is called, “Advent.” The word means, “the arrival.” It’s meant to be a season within the year during which we as Christians not only prepare for the celebration