Monday, June 11, 2018

Stages and Routes

It's a quarter to eight in the evening. Toni is visiting her dad in the hospital. Her mom, Jo, is with her. Toni and Jo will be back here for the night later on. By the time they get back I might be in bed. I had a long day with my alarm waking me at 4 AM.

I started new routes today. The "3" in the morning, east toward downtown St. Paul and then west back to downtown Minneapolis, and the "22" in the evening, south to Veterans Hospital, and then north through Mpls and Brooklyn Park. I enjoyed both AM and PM duties.

Our parents are in a difficult stage of life. Toni and I are in a "sandwich" with elders to care for and young grandchildren too. I believe God gives us challenges in every stage so we'll keep growing and depending on him.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Big Thoughts, Little Time

I'm taking a couple minutes to write something, though I think I'd like to write more. Jon, Breanna and the girls are coming tonight and then we've got other family coming over tomorrow, so there will be little time for this. There's a long list of "to do"s that has nothing to do with guests, and that's not getting done as I write either.

Here are some things that's been rolling around in my head, and in my heart. When I can find time I'll write more:

Posted on twitter on May 6:
It seems that some old friends of mine don't want to talk about significant issues. It's sad how polarized we've become. How can we discern truth if various perspectives aren't listening, speaking with love and care, asking questions, sharing answers, exploring the grey areas?
Written on a facebook group page on June 1 -- the group page is for men and women who have some connection with the "evangelical renewal district" of church denomination that I'm officially "retired" from:
Hello all. I haven't connected with this group, or any LCMC group, for a long time. I'm driving now for Metro Transit, it's been 3 years. My wife Toni and I are participating in Roseville Covenant Church though we're not members there. On Sunday I happened to worship at an LCMC church when we were out of town. The message and worship were balm for my soul. I was in tears. Afterwards was sobbing even though I was okay. I think there is grief inside me, not about me personally, but about people in communities I served over the years who seem to have drifted from the faith. Some of it is due, I'm sure, to the post modern times we live in. I'd like to share more if anyone has interest, but it's time for me to head out the door for my second shift. I drive AM and PM rush hours. Peace in Jesus' precious name.
Added the next day after someone in the group invited me to say more:
I care a lot about truth. I remember this coming up in my certification interview. This was in 1985, back when "LNTS" was certifying MDiv seniors for ordination in the ALC. One of the two professors in the interview remarked that I care more about truth than love. I don't think that's true, but I certainly have accented truth and appreciate very much when others are willing to engage on the level of "truth" even when feelings get hurt. Here's an except from page 1 of the aforementioned essay.
I'm hoping to find time to write more about this, and, hopefully, to have some face to face conversations. We'll see. But, for now, I need to get to other tasks, and then get back to my Metro Transit job shortly after 2.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Weekend Again

The end of a busy work week. 
I wrote that before I remembered that it was a short work week. I always enjoy the chance to not set my alarm or have a schedule when the weekend comes. A blessing and a luxury. Thankful.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Weekend's Best

The highlight of the weekend, personally, for me, was Sunday morning 8:30 worship at Grace Lutheran Church of Hayward, WI. Here's a link to the message.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

One Morning

Typing on my kindle, standing next to one of the counters here in Metro Transit's Heywood garage drivers' room, occasionally talking with other drivers and instructors, thinking about all the writing projects I'd like to do and depolarizing conversations I'm wanting to be involved in. I'm here, instead of driving, because my second morning trip of the year, a short route 3 piece, is not running now that the U of M spring session is done.

One of more active union members a the garage is distributing newsletters. The "Janus" supreme court case is on the front page and I managed to hear, briefly, a rather embittered opinion about that from another driver who is opposed to the union's position on it. I wanted to hear the "why" from him but he wasn't interested in saying more.

I hope he's willing to share more later. How can we learn from one another if we don't do that? I don't know.

Continuing this now that I'm home. I had a great nap, talked with Toni on the phone--she's at work--and I'm hoping to get some exercise soon. The bicycle trailer that my family ordered for my birthday just arrived! Fun!

Dan called and talked with me about a house they're interested in buying. Adding that to the prayer list.

Okay, it's past 11:00 already. I need to get moving a bit unless I want to sit all day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Keeping It Soft

Early this morning I was up, as usual, even though I didn't have to go to work. I'm in the habit, I guess, so when I woke up I stayed up, did a few chores in the kitchen, then went to work out the old bod.

I don't want it to get soft as I get older. Physically soft, that is. Having some hardened muscles will keep some of the aches and pains away. But I always want to be soft to the ways of the Lord.

Toward the end after the afternoon I had a chance to listen to Jonathan share a bit about the message he's going to preach tomorrow. When I say "a bit" I mean just a bit. Very little. He mentioned the Bible book of Hebrews, chapters 3 & 4. I've been thinking about it ever since.

There are verses there that warn us against rebellion and the "hardening" of the heart. I want to remain strong and "hard" physically, but spiritually I don't want to be hard against the ways of the Lord. In that way, at least, I want to stay soft.

In chapters 3 & 4 of Hebrews there's a reminder of what happened when the people of Israel had left Egypt and were on their way to the promised land. They had seen, they had experienced, they had been blessed and rescued by the Work of God: miracles, saving wonders, demonstrations of the Lord's power. They had been slaves. Now they were free. All because of the Lord's grace.

But then rumors began to circulate. It would be too difficult to receive what had been promised. There wouldn't be enough of what they needed to live on the way. There were too many strong enemies. The memories of the Lord's faithfulness wasn't enough. They doubted the character, the love and the strength, of the one who had saved them. They could no longer turn to God in faith. They had to make their own way.

It's good to keep remembering the ways of the Lord and the ways he has saved us, so that when we encounter challenges and doubts, we will keep trusting and following. I want my heart, my will, my decision making -- I want those aspects of my life to be pliable and shape-able. I want to keep bowing to the ways of God -- because he loves me, and us, more than we'll ever know.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Like a Shepherd

The Lord Jesus guides everything I do. That doesn't mean I always follow His leadership. I rebel against Him and the ways he works to refine my character, but even those times of rebellion are used by Him for goo. I repent and return to Him. I talk with Him and learn to follow Him more nearly. He corrects me in surprising ways, sometimes bringing Truth to me from unexpected directions, including from people I disagree with. I need to pause and pray and study every day so I can see my errors and repent.

The Lord Jesus' guidance is even over decisions I have to make that may seem unrelated to His purposes. Today I'll choose the routes and schedule I'll drive in the summer. I'll also have a conversation with a financial planner. Yes, in all those things I'm in a dialog with my Lord, seeking just what He desires. I am completely free to choose what I want to do, but since Jesus knows all things, including the future, it's always wise to not just go with whatever I think is best, but to listen for what Isaiah called that "still small voice" of God.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Planning and Trusting

We never really know what's going to happen next, do we? Toni's dad has been ill recently, though it seems as of right now that he's on the mend, but his illness is a reminder that we just don't know about the future.

Even so, it is good for us to make some plans. Right now, during these days, Toni and I are making some plans about our future, specifically, in connection with the possible porch that we're looking into putting on our house.

Ever since I left what I have called the "pastors union" our income has decreased. Back when we were at Crossroads Church we were receiving considerably less than what I was "making" as an ELCA pastor. And since moving to Metro Transit I'm making still less, though my income there has been gradually increasing... and with Toni's business income we're doing okay for now.

But we never know just what will happen next. The fact that Toni's dad's been ill has meant that Toni has had to forgo some of her income, cancelling appointments so she can be with her parents. That's a reminder of the uncertainty of our lives.

How can we plan then? Only by trusting the Lord who has brought us safe thus far.

We will plan, and we'll get some advice. Mostly, though, we will trust the faithfulness of God.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Life Is Full

It's another beautiful spring day. I'm waiting, at the moment, for our daughter-in-law to bring our grandson by. I'll "watch" him while his mom Shatera goes up to Ramsey where our son Dan works.  Tonight is a special evening for the youth group that Dan leads -- they're saying "goodbye" to the high school seniors and Shatera doesn't want to miss it.

The house is pretty quiet right now. I'd be outside except I want to jot a quick blog post before I'm occupied with Liam. Toni is singing... right now (5PM)... but not here. There's a big jazz and choir concert that our church choir is participating in. I got there for the 3 PM performance. Our daughter Naomi, her husband Tim, and our grandson Jonas biked to that. We got to spend a little time together afterward. Jonas is growing up... taking a few steps on his own now. It's fun! 

Toni and I are thankful that the Lord has allowed us to live close enough to both Dan & Naomi to care for their sons without needing to drive a long way. Tomorrow, when I'm back at work, Toni will drive tomorrow to Cokato where she'll watch over Jon and Breanna's three daughters. That's a normal Monday for her, except for when she's go other things going on, such as driving down to Northfield to spend time with her parents. I usually see my parents on Tuesday evening, after work.

During the concert today I saw, on stage, one of the men I had volunteered with in the warehouse at Bridging. I haven't volunteered there since the summer of 2016. With work, the house, the growing family, and parents to care about, some writing and communicating, trying to connect with friends, etc. life is full.

Now I hear Shatera at the door. Time to go.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Porch Possible

Today I got to playing with junk that I took out of the garage. I was trying to envision how a future porch might fit onto our house. There's a long story to tell about why we're considering this, but if we can handle the financial hit it'll be a nice addition.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tail Swing

The sign on the door says "DO NOT HIT THE DOOR."

I didn't. I never have.

In fact, for almost three years of driving, I hadn't hit anything with any of the dozens of buses that I've driven for Metro Transit. I'm so thankful.

But then, on Thursday, I was in a position that I'm sure I've encountered before. I was assigned a bus like the one on the right. I needed to drive forward and turn, being careful to avoid hitting the mirror of the bus on the left. I had to turn because the garage door immediately in front was damaged. I decided to turn left because another bus was too close to the garage door to my right. But, in turning left, around that bus' mirror, I scraped a metal protective cover on a pipe with the right side of my rear bumper. My perfect driving record is now history.

It hasn't yet been determined whether it was a "responsible accident," but, in any case, I reported it and am waiting to be called into the office of the safety manger. It's the first thing I've hit in three years.

The culprit: "tail swing." Tail swing is the motion that the rear end of any large vehicle makes during a turn. In this case, because of the limited space between my bus and the broken garage door ahead, I had to turn quite sharply. But the rear end of my bus always moves in the opposite direction. And that metal protective cover around that pipe was there, just waiting to clobber my bus.

I was back in the saddle on Friday AM and PM, being so aware of my rear end. I'll do the same next week. And the week after that. I'm sure, during the years to come, I'll be more aware of tail swing than I ever would have been if this accident wouldn't have happened. It was a learning opportunity for sure.


I've been thinking of that in connection with other things. For example, we're considering doing a project in our backyard. We'll create a "swale," a long low spot, sort of like a shallow valley that will direct rainwater away from the house's foundation. To do that we'll need to change the way we get from the driveway into the back door. That probably means we'll put in a deck or porch above the swale. We're looking at options now, thinking of using retirement savings, carefully calculating how much value the improvements will add to the house.

The "tail swing" is that spending those funds now mean that I'll be more locked in to working more years. I've said, many times, that I plan to work at Metro Transit until I'm at least 70 years old, but making decisions to spend (or invest) big money in the house will sort of seal that fate. Except, of course, if I have another accident, and if I am considered "responsible" for causing this one, there's always the possibility that I'll be forced to retire sooner. You can't have even minor accidents and drive for Metro Transit.

Lots to think about besides the swale and the future porch. If we go ahead, it will impact more than the backyard.

That's just one example. The same thing is true for every other decision. Unintended consequences, equal and opposite reactions, collateral damage: so many things can happen. It's actually impossible to keep track of it all. Driving a bus is do-able. But the rest of life is beyond human understanding.

That's why I need to rely on the Lord and His wisdom. That's why I need to stop and pray. That's what we're doing now.

Psalm 139:5 speaks of the Lord surrounding us, being both in front and behind. How thankful I am that he watches, not only what's ahead, but the tail swing behind.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Friends for the Long Journey

The video above is the full version of a Ted Talk excerpt that was posted on my facebook page. The piece below was something I wrote this morning as a comment on that post.

*Whether* I live a long time isn't the most important thing. Doing what I can do to *prolong* my life on this earth in this body isn't what I think about, for example, when I posted, last month, about "planning" to live until 105. My mom and dad are 90ish and the plain fact is that I enjoy doing things that keep me relatively strong and healthy... so I think it's just a _fact_ that I will probably live a long time on this earth in this body. Of course I'm aware that things might change, and, as someone who believes that Jesus has my life in his hands, I know I'm not in control. But, the fact is that all of us can do things to make our later lives better...

As I look at Susan Pinker's list, many of the things she lists as predictors of long life are actually things that will increase the quality of our lives, and will allow us to be strong enough to bless others as we move up through the years. Some of those things we can do on our own or with professional help. Social integration, as she describes it, having lots of everyday interactions with other people -- that's something we can make happen by choosing to live or work in the hubbub of human society. _Close_ relationships, however, are different. That's something we need one another to maintain.

The challenge, as we move along in years, is to not allow past difficulties in relationships to isolate us. Staying in touch, working through challenges, continuing to value people who we find out are different than ourselves, and being able to live with some ambiguity in how we "are" together is key, I believe, to keeping having long term "close relationships" with family and old friends.

Jesus can help us with that. One of the sweetest scenes of the Bible is the reunion of Jesus with his failed disciples after his resurrection. He didn't toss his friends out because they failed. He kept them, both women and men, valuing them and blessing them. I want to do everything I can to do the same with you
, and I hope you'll do the same with me. I have failed and need forgiveness just like you.

It's hard when we live all over the world. Some of our relationships will always be at a distance, sad to say. Even living on the other side of cities or counties can mean we're not going to see each other often, even for years at a time. Still, we can open our hearts and our doors to one another, and do what we can to not shrink back from relationships because they are not as comfortable as they used to be. I think that's part of what we can do together to be as strong and as full of blessing as we can do as long as we live.

Just how this will work out for each of us isn't something any of us can know for anyone else, but I know one thing I believe is good for me is to reach out to others, even at a distance, especially to those who have been significant to us at various times. We never know how the others will react, of course, and there's always the possibility that you or I have hopes for the friendship that won't be attained. That's unavoidable, IMO, if we are going to avoid being isolated as the years go by.

Peace to you in Jesus' name.