Saturday, July 25, 2015

Moving with God

I'm starting to write this in Cokato at 5:45 on Saturday morning. I might publish this now and then add on later -- I can feel that I'm not as awake and raring to go as I thought I would be, even though it is a full hour later than when I usually get up during the week. My plan for the day was, and so far it's working out that way, that I'd just wake up whenever I did without an alarm and then stay up until I wanted to. Then I'll enjoy the luxury of going back to bed.

Life sure had changed, in a really good way, since my last Sunday at Crossroads (on June 7). Ali, Mark, Tom, Changeu, Ron, Andy, Joe and I started our bus operator training the next day. All 8 of us passed our tests and are working our split shifts, driving during morning and evening rush hours. I've been staying at mom and dad's and Toni has been transitioning her business too.

This week we accepted an offer on our house and signed the purchase agreement. This coming week the house will be inspected. If that goes well, there are a few other details (including an appraisal) to be done and we'll close -- in early September. That means we'll need to have another place to live by September 1.

Last night Toni and I sent in a rental application for a house. The house we're considering is too big, and the monthly rent is too much for us to pay -- so we are going to be on the lookout for others to share the house with us. It's a split level home with a door between the levels. We would need to share the kitchen and laundry with the others, plus, of course, the yard and some storage areas. Both Toni and I look on that as a positive. We have been the most invigorated and happy when we're connected with others instead of completely independent.
If you know of folks who could help pay rent and who would enjoy living in a house instead of an apartment (probably in the Roseville area or nearby), let's connect!

The place we're looking at is at the corner of County Road D and Evelyn Street in Roseville, close to Northwestern ("the University of Northwestern") and Bethel University.

Message us or email or call with questions. And pray that we'll be open to just what the Lord wants to do with our living situation. Thanks!
By the time Toni and I are moved to whatever place the Lord provides I'll have worked for Metro Transit for almost the required 90 days that it takes to qualify for health insurance through that employer. We've been paying for our own since 2011 so that will be a help financially. Because I'm working for them just part time, I'll need to pay part of that cost. It will amount to less than half, however, of what we're paying now.

This week I received an unexpected email from someone who stumbled upon this blog. He invited Toni and I to come to northeast Minneapolis to look at a place he has for rent. Toni and I decided that the place he has is smaller than what we're looking for, but the connection that the Lord provided with this man of deep Christian faith may lead to some kind of ministry opportunity. We'll see.

It's time now to go back to bed. Perhaps I'll write more later. One thing I know I need to do sometime soon is to update my main website and some other aspects of my online presence to reflect the new reality of my life.

Much love to you all.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Uptown Update

For the last 4 weeks or so I've been staying, mostly, with my parents in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. I've gotten home to Cokato on a few weekends and we had time at Toni's parents; then last Saturday we were in the Taylors Falls area, but I've been here with mom and dad most nights during the week.

It's been super convenient for me and I've been able to spend a little extra time with mom and dad. Tonight dad and I got out for a walk; the picture here is from July 7--another time we were out together.

Dad turned 89 on Friday. For his birthday we showed a few of the ~1,500 slides he took from the 1950s to 80s We were able to show them on mom & dad's television since my sisters and brother went in together on the cost of having them digitized by Pastor Eric Hulstrand and his Memory Saverz business. Priceless.

I've been on the job as a "part time bus operator" with Metro Transit for four days -- four days that is, after the 5+ weeks of full time training. Today, between my morning and afternoon shifts, I started doing some looking for a second part time job, even applying for one. I'm hoping to do something either directly or indirectly ministry related. I have thought about volunteering, but getting a little more income will be important since the PT bus operator position pays better than some jobs but not really enough to live on. I'm sure I'll write more about that in the days to come.

For now, I'm thankful for this place to stay -- a place that is only a few miles from the Heywood Garage where I'm headquartered for my bus driving. Toni and I will be getting ready to make more permanent housing arrangements sometime in August, but for now the "uptown" life is fine.

I'd write more, but I'm tired and morning comes early. My morning shift technically begins at 6:10 AM but I want to get there a half hour early at the latest. Tomorrow we "pick" our work for the next calendar quarter--sometime in August I'll begin driving new routes. You'll probably hear about that soon.

Peace to you in Jesus' name.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wanted: My Next Missional Community

Toni sometimes calls me "Lone Ranger." She has only started to do that in the last few months. At some point she set her phone so the Lone Ranger theme song plays when I call. "...Dadala dadala dadala dadala da da. Dadala dadala dadala da da. Dadala dadala dadala da da. Dadalaaaa dadala da da..."

I do feel sort of "lone-ranger-ish" these days. Why? It's not because I'm alone. The masked man wasn't alone either. He always had Tonto by his side. But, like that "masked man" (see below for more about him), I've lost my connection with what some might call my "missional community."

During all the years I served as a pastor it was the "missional community" aspect of my life and work I liked best. There was always a sense of Holy Spirit led partnership as I worked and prayed alongside men and women who were dedicated, together, to bless youth and children, to help the poor, to befriend the elderly and intervene on behalf of those in dange--all in Jesus' name. God often pushed us toward excellence together--and we often came to God--together in prayer--because we knew we were not, as the Lone Ranger was said to be, "fabulous" individuals. God worked among us and that was always a sweet thing.

My most recent missional community was formed in and around the people of Crossroads Community Church. Now that I'm not serving there anymore as a pastor, now that God has called me to a new venture, I'm sort of "missional community-less." (This is true even though the Lord has given me opportunities to continue to serve in the DC area a time or two since June 8.)

Like the Lone Ranger I'm not clearly and obviously connected right now with a purposeful group that knows one Lord and Savior together.

My work environment does have a good purpose. Many of the people I'm getting to know are "fabulous individuals." Some have let me know of their personal faith in Jesus. But we're not a Christ-centered organization and we won't be praying together--at least not as a whole group. Metro Transit is famously diverse.

I am praying that the Lord will grant me, soon, an opportunity to once again join with other believers in common mission. Just what that will be I do not yet know. Beginning on Wednesday I'll be working a split shift and there will be an opportunity to look for a place to serve. Also, as Toni and I get ready to move to the Twin Cities, I'm praying that the Lord will show us, together, where He desires us to connect spiritually. Perhaps the church we become a part of will be a place where we can have a sense of missional community together.

Pray for me please -- and pray for us. And let us know in what way we can pray with you and for you. And if you're aware of an organization or a church that would be good for me or us to connect with, let us know. Thanks.


Who was the Lone Ranger?
He was character known as developed in a 1930s radio show and later, in the 1950s and 60s, on television. The Lone Ranger drama (really a melodrama!) was set in the mid or late 1800s, back in the days when the United States was expanding west into Texas and neighboring territories. The Lone Ranger was imagined to have been part of the Texas Rangers, "an organization ... developed to combat the evil forces of the time." But then that organization disappeared (they were lured into an ambush and slaughtered) and the one surviving ranger continued the work.

The Lone Ranger wasn't alone. Tonto was with him and he was constantly working with and leading others. But no one except Tonto really knew him. No one else knew his real name or his history. That wasn't because he wanted to be mysterious. He only hid his identity and wore a mask because he was afraid that he'd be killed if the gang that slaughtered the other Rangers found out who and where he was.

Here's the pilot for the show. Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2015


data from 2014
I'm home in Cokato after another week of training. This week we* learned to drive 62 foot long articulated buses and practiced the routes we'll serve customers on beginning July 15. Next week we'll get some advanced training on Monday and Tuesday from one of a well known bus "roadeo" king, Jack Berner. He's promised to challenge Andy and me even more than we have been already. I think that will be good because precision driving and careful operation of these huge vehicles can be a matter of life or death.

Anyway, I'm very glad to be home.


*"We..." that is, the four trainees from our class of eight that were assigned to the Heywood garage. Two of us, Andy and I, are being trained by the same garage instructor, Jason Berner. He's a great teacher! (He'll be on vacation next week, that's why Andy & I will be with his Jason's dad. Another garage instructor is together with the other two, Ron & Joe.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

First Pick

Written Tuesday, 11:00 PM

I "picked my work" today. That' little phrase wouldn't have made any sense to me until I got acquainted with Metro Transit. Bus operators (a.k.a. drivers), even rookies like me, are given a choice of routes. I was the last to pick. I had three time cards to choose from - I picked one with a morning trip from Smetana Road in Hopkins to downtown Minneapolis and two afternoon runs -- one from downtown Mpls to Maplewood and another from downtown Mpls (again) to Wayzata. I'll begin driving those trips one week from tomorrow.

All of the trips that will be a part of my daily "duty" will be driven in 62 foot long articulated buses. After our several hour long orientation to the Heywood* garage, an instructor took us out in an "artic" so we could see how they work. The four of us from our class who are assigned to FTH* all took our turn driving, learning how to make right and left turns in what is now the third kind of bus we've driven during our training.

Here's a photo from this afternoon.

This particular "pick" (the morning and afternoon pieces of the routes I'll be driving) will last about 3 weeks. It just so happens that Metro Transit's quarterly schedule of duty assignments means that our "pick" will end in early August. Then we'll "pick" again, in order of seniority. I'm part time, so the choices I have are limited to those that are listed for part time.

Today was the first time we picked our work - but, in our group of four trainees, I was the last to pick my work. I was glad to be last because I believe, in some way that I can't fully understand, that God is in control of all of this. I play my part, and I don't always hang back (I leaped up when our instructor asked who would be first to drive the artic!) but for some reason I thought I should, in some way, leave the pick in God's hands.

My first trip will take me to the Hopkins neighborhood where my son Jon and his wife Breanna live with their daughter (my granddaughter) Lydia. That will be in the early morning. Then I'll have my "spread" - about 7 hours I think it will be - from about 8 AM until after 3 PM. Then I'll do the Maplewood trip, across from Minneapolis to St. Paul and beyond on Highway 94, south a bit on 494 to the area of the Maplewood Theater. Then, after deadheading back to downtown Mpls, I'll drive that trip to Wayzata. I rode that route a few times back in 2011 when I was taking a psychology class at North Central.

I'm trusting that God will bless this pick, even though the thought of being out on my own in that gigantic articulated bus gives me the willies. I appreciate your continued prayers for me and for all who work in transit.


*"Heywood" and "FTH" are short for the "Fred T. Heywood garage" located close to downtown, just north-west of Target Field. Click here for a map. I picked that garage last week... but really there was no choice since I was the last to pick. I am the lowest in seniority in this class, simply because I was the last one to get my physical and drug test taken care of in May. Having to pick last pushed me into my new experience with "artics" (pronounced as in the first part of the word "articulated"). The other choice that was open to our class, the "Nicollet" garage, does not have those frighteningly long buses.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Hearing God in the Family

Written July 5 - 

It's a Sunday morning at the cabin. For many years our habit here as a family was to go into town on Sunday mornings to the church that my father-in-law had pastored way back in the late '50s and early 60s. Today we're gathering as a family on the deck and in a while we will join together in a time of worship right here.

When I got up today I was thinking about what we might successfully be open to what the Lord wants to say to us during our worship time. I'm sure we'll have a great time singing and praising Jesus together. We have an abundance of musicians in this group. But how will we hear God's voice together? We're not planning on having anyone preach.

So far this morning two little Bible verses have presented themselves to me as perhaps most relevant to our time together.
  • The first is from Mark 6. Jesus in this section has gone to his home town but there many of the people there were offended by him. He then says, in verse 4, that a prophet is not generally honored among his relatives. 
  • And the second is from Hebrews 13:7 -- in that verse the Lord also speaks to us about honor. The context here has been about honoring and respecting the government and those in authority--but verse 7 moves us to honoring--and loving--everyone.
How can we honor the Word that God is speaking to us here at the cabin this morning during our family worship time when it is our very own relatives that will be speaking that Word to us? How can we be open to hearing the Lord speak to us through those we know?

Written July 6 - 
We did have a sweet worship time yesterday morning. It was capped off by Toni's dad Dick Dahlin sharing The Words of Institution and the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper with us, right there on the cabin deck. We joined in prayers of thanks and prayers of intercession. God's Love and God's Word blended together in a way that allowed freedom, vulnerability and prayer to flow. They flowed even though we don't all see everything in identical ways. And the questions I asked above stay open, and other questions arose. Still, I will trust God to be active through His Word and in ways I cannot fully understand. I would do it again.

By the way, I'm home in Cokato now. Today our class finished our time at the Metro Transit Instruction Center. In the morning I'll head in to the Fred T. Heywood garage otherwise known as FTH or "Heywood." I was assigned to that garage last week. Tomorrow we'll be oriented to garage operations and will "pick" the work (routes) that we'll be trained to drive. Lots more to learn.

Here in Cokato I was able to do some pastoral work in the last few hours. I also mowed the lawn. It's good to be home.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Testing Phase Done

This part written very early Wednesday morning:
Yesterday was a good day on the bus. I'm beginning to think I will be able to do this job. It's remarkable how much a person can learn in three - four short weeks. We're in the middle of our fourth week of our Metro Transit training. As I drove route 17A (the shortest version of 17 - from the main Minneapolis post office to the uptown area) yesterday I noticed how my confidence is building. I am able to control that big wide beast and squeeze it between obstacles without breaking a sweat every time. I still go slow but that's wise -- it's required on the Nicollet Mall (10 mph speed limit) and is good otherwise too, at least until I pass my in-service test tomorrow. I'm quite surprised at my progress.
So now it's Friday evening. I'm relaxing with family up at Toni's parents' place in northern Wisconsin. I did pass the in-service test yesterday morning and I was greatly relieved. I am praising God, thankful that the testing phase is over.

On Monday our class will have some specialized training about how to safely navigate transit corridors (Marquette and Second Avenues in downtown Minneapolis and on Washington Avenue at the University of Minnesota).

Beginning on Tuesday and continuing through Monday July 13, we'll undergo what's known as "garage level" training. The eight guys in our class were each assigned to one of the five Metro Transit garages. Based on the various garages need for drivers, four of us, myself included, were assigned to the "Fred T. Heywood" garage on North Seventh Street and Olson Highway (just north of Target Field) and four others to the "Nicollet" garage in south Minneapolis. At "garage level" training we'll learn to drive the particular routes that we'll be assigned to for our first months of work. Our first day "on the job" will be Tuesday, July 14.

Thanks to a great training program, I will be able to do this job. It will be a part time split shift position during the morning and afternoon rush hours. They guarantee us 30 hours of work a week -- we'll actually get paid for a bit more -- we receive 45 minutes of "spread pay" to compensate us for the double commute. Once I'm on that split schedule I will be looking for another kind of service or ministry that I can do between the shifts.* One possible avenue of service did occur to me as I was doing my in-service training this week. I'll share more about that in the days to come.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I hope you'll find encouragement here. There are lots of things that you can do, probably many things that are beyond what you think you are capable of. If you are fearful of what you think you may not be able to do, if you're tempted, as I have been, to just stop before trying, or before trying again, I'd like to invite you to contact me so we can pray together. Or just go straight to the Lord yourself.

I have no doubt that I could not have done any of this without the help of God. But with his help, I can. So can you.
"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

*Previous to deciding to take a bus operator position with Metro Transit I had looked into various full time positions in human services and ministry. See what I wrote this spring, such as one written May 3 ("Spring Forward") for a bit more about that journey.