Monday, August 31, 2015

The Work Week Begins Again

I drove route 664 from July 15-August 21.
My son Jon took this photo near his apartment in Hopkins.
Happy Monday again! If you're like me you stand now at the beginning of another work week. I'll be back on the bus in an hour.

I'm determined to allow God to have His way in my life, and that includes being joyful in the work he has given me to do.

I woke very early this morning with a sense of discontent. I'm feeling anxious too... mostly about how some people that I know and love are dealing with various circumstances in their lives.

But then God led me to these verses from Philippians 4: "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Last night God gave me these words from today's My Utmost for His Highest
...The first thing that will hinder joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “…the cares of this world,…choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). And before we even realize what has happened, we are caught up in our cares.
So I will rejoice as I go off to work today. God bless you with His peace and joy as you do what God has called you to do now.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

What I Don't Know

“The Kingdom of God is like this: A man scatters seed in his field. He sleeps at night, is up and about during the day, and all the while the seeds are sprouting and growing. Yet he does not know how it happens. The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit; first the tender stalk appears, then the head, and finally the head is full of kernels. When the grain is ripe, the man starts cutting it with his sickle, because harvest time has come.” Mark 4:26ff

I asked "where do I meet you?" and this photo was his reply
One of the great pleasures of this week came on Wednesday around noon when I got to spend an hour or so with a young man who I knew a few years ago here in Cokato. We met at the Teen Challenge Leadership Institute. It was exciting to see how far this young man has come.

Both Toni and I have been involved with many young people over the years. Some are doing well. Others don't connect with us much anymore so we don't know what's up with them. The young man who I met on Wednesday is one who I had no idea how he was until I saw him post the following on facebook:
So this is it eh? The end? I always thought I'd go out in the blaze of glory like some super hero, but it turns out that, that sweet smell of death I thought I could smell on the day I was baptized was nothing more than the sizzle of my flesh as it slowly started to burn away at the command of God's Holy Fire. Now that sizzle has turned into a burn and that burn into ash, just like the phoenix when it died was consumed by flame so was I, I was consumed by the all consuming fire that is my God, he started to creep in unexpectedly and now I live for my God, all idols have been cast away in the name of Jesus. So I'm I regret to inform you all Bill Scanlon has passed away it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me. — at Teen Challenge Leadership Institute.
(He posted that as "public" on facebook and now he gave me permission to post a picture he took of us on Wednesday.)

When I saw that testimony I sent a message and we got together. It was very good. Praise God!

There's still lots I don't know. I don't know his whole story and I don't know how it will turn out in the end. Still, I will rejoice in what God has done in this young man's life until now.

Keep praying for Bill and for all those God has brought into your life, even if you don't know where they are or how they are doing. Don't demand quick results. God is often working in ways we do not know.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Next Saturday!

This went out as an email yesterday (Friday) morning. I wrote it to our kids but then added a few other family members to the "to:" line -- and then added some folks from the Cokato area too who I thought might like to help or who are otherwise involved with what's going on these days. I'm sure some weren't included. Please know that wasn't intentional at all. Because I'm living mostly in Minneapolis these days I don't see folks here (in Cokato) as often as I do otherwise. Life is pretty full!

Good morning Naomi! Dan! Jon! and others that I just decided to add to this... Good morning to all!

Things are coming together for our big move. We decided now to do everything on Saturday Sep. 5, except getting things our of your mom's (Toni's) office.

Thank you in advance for your help when you're available! Please let us know when you can and if you're aware of others who might help please let us know. Last night she and I talked about starting at 9 AM on Sep. 5 but I think I'm going to say we'll start between 8 and 9 because some people in Cokato might want to come earlier. It's just how Cokato is. (I was surprised by that when we first moved to Cokato in 2005. Getting up early on Saturday morning seems to be a Cokato thing.)

This weekend Matt Dahlseng is coming over (at around 8 on Saturday) to help move stuff out of Toni's office onto our little trailer. (Originally I'd asked him and Walt and Nicholas to help move the piano etc., but that's been postponed until Sep 5. Walt & Nicholas aren't available that day so they're off the hook. Matt is a young man from the Dassel-Cokato area who graduated from HS in May.)

 So next weekend we'll have both a 16 foot truck from Delano Rental and a 53 foot semi trailer from K-Way Express thanks to Mark Kuhlmann!) at our house in Cokato. We'll put the piano, the freezer, the things from Toni's office and maybe a few other things that we'll want to use in the next few weeks into the 16 foot truck and the rest in the semi.

I heard through the grapevine that some folks from Cokato are offering to provide lunch. Thank you!

Then, I think in the early afternoon -- or maybe in the late morning -- we'll take the 16 foot truck and deliver the piano, freezer and Toni's office stuff etc. to Naomi & Tim's and Toni's office Roseville. (I'm not sure at this moment where the piano is going... Originally it was going to Lisa and Jon's but that may have changed.)

Everything else in regard to our move is coming together. The VA appraisal is today. Closing on the Cokato house is scheduled for Sep 9. Assuming today's appraisal goes well the only thing that needs to happen before closing (as far as I know) is the sewer work. It's great to have a realtor handling details there.

We'll be needing your help again at a date as yet to be set for sure... sometime around Sep 20 we'll be moving into a house that Paul Anderson is buying (at 1490 Lydia Ave. W. in Roseville).

Thank you so much in advance. Write back with any questions. I'm sure I missed something or someone.

Love, Dad (Steve Thorson)

Just Live

This was mostly written on Monday, August 24.

Happy Monday! It's the first day of a new work week! This is last week that my wife Toni will be seeing clients in her Cokato office. Next week she'll be fully invested in her Roseville work. This is also the first week of a new set of routes* that I'm driving for Metro Transit. So far so good.

On the weekend I was glad to get some work done at home on on Saturday while Toni enjoyed time with college roommates. On Sunday we worshiped at Mission Point church. That was a new experience for both of us. Not only because neither of us had worshiped there before, but also because they meets in a movie theater!** That wouldn't be my choice, but I'm not in control.

my sister Karen pins on Nicholas' Eagle Scout badge
Then, yesterday afternoon, we spent time with family at, and then after, my nephew Nicholas' Eagle Scout Court of Honor. The most impressive part of that for me was hearing from some of his friends about way Nicholas had influenced their lives in really good ways. One boy was particularly thankful because Nicholas invited him to a scout meeting several years ago -- and it was because of that invitation that he had grown personally and in relationship with others through the scouting program. So great to hear about!

It was great to hear from Nicholas and the scout leaders and Nick's friends. I enjoyed that even though the ceremonial aspects of the afternoon weren't really my cup of tea. But, just like I said about the worship service in the theater, I wasn't in control.


I've been thinking and praying a lot these days about the issue of "control of "control" and "influence" and "concern." A couple months ago Steve Wiese*** gave Toni a something to pass on to me -- a copy of his book The Illusion of Control. Steve is a psychologist who I went to see about 15 years ago at a time when I had to take time off from my pastoring work. 

Toni remembers how he helped me sort out things that I may have been trying to control or influence from things that I either needed to just go of or just pray about. She remembered how he gave me some little slips of paper and had me put, on each one, things that concerned me or that troubled me in some way. (At the time we were focusing on my pastoring environment.) He then had me sort the slips into three piles - those things that I could control, things that I couldn't control but that I could influence in some way, and things that were beyond my control or influence -- things that were merely concerns.

That's the main idea of Steve's book. I think I've learned some of it's lessons and have put them into practice. In many ways I have learned to let go of things I have no control over.
Note: I didn't finish writing this on Monday. The parts in italics were added 5 days later.
What the Lord is leading me to consider in these days is what areas of influence I need to release too. Honestly, there are times when even influencing others is beyond what I'm capable of, at least in terms of what I'm able to see or know. Earlier, as I began writing this, I posted this on facebook:
I wish I could change other people. But that's not God's way. So I will follow God's call to live faithfully in the midst of brokenness.
Sometimes, even often, that is God's call to me -- to not focus on others at all but to simply live as God wants me to even when I don't see any way in which my life or my presence is going to make a difference to anyone else.

This blog is an example of that principle. I write here, not only because I think it might make a difference to someone else, but because it's what God is calling me to do. In a way, this is my "art" -- like David had his lute, I have my blog, and my time with the Lord as I write.

God bless you today with His purpose in your life.


* I've been working as a bus operator since July 15 (after 5+ weeks of training). My first set (or "pick") of routes began then. The new pick begins now and continues through Dec. 11.

** A theater wouldn't be my choice for a worship venue. I prefer a setting that makes worship seem less "performance" oriented. I'm not in control though. I was told that the leadership was open to that setting because some people have had less than positive impressions or even negative experiences of church-like atmospheres. In any case, we were able to interact with other worshipers. After the message we were encouraged to talk and pray with 1 or 2 others sitting near us. That was a good thing.

*** Steve Wiese helped me personally many years ago. We connected again as I joined Per Nilsen's message planning team when he was senior pastor of North Heights. Since 2014's staff changes there we haven't been much in contact.  I don't think it's a coincidence that Steve Wiese's office is in the same building where Toni is sub-letting space for her massage therapy business.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Don't Fight Alone

Good day to you! Today's "My Utmost for His Highest" is about prayer. You can read it here. In it Oswald Chambers speaks about fighting wandering thoughts. He says
...the first thing we have to fight is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is overcoming this problem of our idle and wandering thinking. We have to learn to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful, deliberate prayer.
Many years ago I learned something that works for me. Maybe it will be helpful for you too.

Instead of fighting wandering thoughts, which, for me, is a losing battle, I bring them to the Lord in prayer. I don't fight them, I bring them, just as they are, into my life with God and let Him examine them. I look, in the scriptures that I am reading in the morning, and in the scriptures that I already know and that are in my head already, for how those thoughts are dealt with there -- in the life of Jesus or in His teachings or in other places in the Bible.

I believe that those thoughts are points to be dealt with by the Lord Himself, not just fought or suppressed. It's never good to do battle with my thoughts alone.

I'm not going to take time to write more now. Toni and I are heading into the cities for worship and then a full family day. Peace be with you!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August 22 Update

I see that it's been more than a week since I've recorded anything here. If you connect with me on twitter (@equalsharing) or facebook (stevekarl) you'll know I haven't been silent online. I just haven't taken time to write anything substantial. And I probably won't today either since I've got projects to do here in Cokato - mostly mowing and then I've committed to doing some work in the garage to get ready for our big move.

I don't remember if I put anything up online publicly about how our plans to move the the Twin Cities are working out, but last weekend Toni and I decided to take Pastor Paul Anderson up on his offer to rent part of a home that he's in the process of buying. Details have yet to be finalized. If all goes as it seems like it will Toni and I will be sharing a house with some of the young adults Paul A mentors through Communitas and other ministries with young adults. Exactly when that will all work out is something we don't know yet. Stay tuned.

I made it through the first set of bus routes that I "picked" after Metro Transit training and now on Monday I'll start the second series of routes -- one trip in the morning (New Hope & Golden Valley to downtown Minneapolis) and two in trips in the p.m. (downtown to St. Louis Park and then downtown again to Wayzata and Mound). I spent parts of two days this week on my own time driving those routes so I'll be sure I know where I'm going beginning Monday.

Also at work this week I had my first conversation with the manager that is assigned to we new bus drivers who are still in our 6-month beginning probationary period. There's still a lot to learn but one of my mistakes came to her attention so we had a meeting. I'm glad I had the chance to have that one-on-one time. I learn from my mistakes but I'm hoping that there will be fewer now in this second "pick" of routes that continue until Dec. 11.

That's all I'm going to write for now. I continue to see the Lord's hand of blessing on everything we are up to. Toni is now back from her trip to Brazil -- she went to see her sister's family there, to participate in her nephew's wedding and then to take a short trip to a beach area in São Paulo state. It's winter there now, and the off season, but they had a great time.

We plan to move from our house here in Cokato on Labor Day weekend. If you'd like to lend a hand, either here in Cokato (probably beginning Saturday afternoon) or in various places in the Twin Cities area where we'll be storing our furniture etc. (perhaps Saturday evening or Sunday) we'll be grateful.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, August 14, 2015

More than Online

Early this morning I read a blogpost about the importance of the church. The author has a powerful internet ministry at Broken Believers Dot Com.

In it he says:
"I suggest that we restore to the living Church the honor and glory it deserves. Our individual ministries can be good— fruit may even be seen. But we dare not minimize the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. She is his bride. She will rule and reign with him forever and ever."
Pastor Bryan Lowe helps many through his online writing, but today he focuses on the need to keep connected in the church.

I commented on Bryan's post as follows:
This post is particularly appropriate today. Thank you. 
I, and my wife, are sort of "between churches" (btwn LOCAL churchs that is) right now, in the process of moving from one community to another. My new job is more demanding than I thought it would be too (partly because it is new) and the split shift is challenging. It gets in the way of some gatherings. 
For example, the church association I'm most closely connected with (the Alliance of Renewal Churches is having its annual Midwest Gathering right now. If my work and life were "normal" I'd be at the gathering for most of the sessions. My work, however, takes up my weekdays M-F from 6a-8a and 3p-8p. plus, on the weekends, I'm living about an hour's drive away -- and since I drive transit bus for my work I just don't want to spend my weekend driving back and forth. So I may end up being at the gathering only for a part of one day - today. 
This creates a big gap in my life and a break, in some ways, with the fellowship I need and in the relationships that are built and sustained through that fellowship. My work schedule has interfered also with a daily prayer phone call with sisters and brothers that are part of a church that my wife and I may become part of when we finally get our house sold and our lives entirely relocated to the Twin Cities. 
I appreciate the online church world because it allows me to keep somewhat connected even when we are in this "in between" spot and it's hard to find a way to gather consistently with a local church. 
Thanks for listening.
So it's time for me now to stop writing and get up to Blaine. I can't wait. (If you're interested, you can see a schedule for the gathering HERE and a map to Bridgewood Community Church in Blaine HERE. The evening sessions are free.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Staying Alert

(This part written on Wednesday,)

Good morning! I'll be headed out the door of my parents' condo in a few minutes. It's just after 5 AM and I can hear birds singing.


Now it's almost 10 (still on Wednesday). I've driven my "morning work" on the 664 (Hopkins & St. Louis Park to downtown Minneapolis) and have been back at mom & dad's place since about 8:30. When I get off my morning work I try to get a good rest in. That's needed when I'm getting up at 4:45 each day. I've been getting 6 hours of solid sleep or less each night since I started this job and I'm one who needs more.

This morning, for the first time, I got the yawns a bit as I was driving the bus. (Just a yawn or two. I wasn't in danger of nodding off!) I've noticed a big change this week in how I'm handling my work. The new job jitters are over! That's a good thing, but as I mentioned that to more experienced drivers they have said there's a danger that comes with confidence too.

Up until now the the adrenaline rush -- plus the excellent training we've all had --  has kept me in extreme alert mode. I think there'll need to be a more conscious focus now on things like "The Five Safety Keys" -- plus I'll just need to make sure I'm well rested each day. (See video at the bottom of this post.)

Beginning August 24 I'll be driving different routes. I think switching routes is a part of keeping us alert too.


Now it's Thursday. Mom and dad are wanting me to go out to lunch with them. I'll do that, not because I want to take the time to do that, but because it's a part of honoring them as my father and mother. I think somewhere there's a word from God about that. ;-)

When I got up both yesterday and today, I was looking for something that would alert me to the move of the Holy Spirit. As I often do, I turned to Oswald Chambers devotion.

The one for today is specifically about not "quenching the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The Holy Spirit is God's agent of alertness, keeping us awake to the purposes of God. "Quenching" or putting our the flame of God's Spirit is something that happens -- especially on ordinary days.

In O.C.'s devotion for today, he says "suppose God brings you to a crisis..." The adrenaline rush I've felt since taking this new job have been a sign of crisis. Yesterday O.C. said this:
God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the ones who are reliable. Yet our trust is only in God up to a certain point, then we turn back to the elementary panic-stricken prayers of those people who do not even know God.
The Lord has indeed taught me to be confident in crisis, and I'm so thankful for that. But now that there's a sense of ordinary-ness, I'll need to stay on my toes so I don't "quench the Spirit" who continues to speak and guide.

There is a particular spiritual danger of being comfortable. When we are comfortable it can be like we are driving along without being fully alert. Truth is, God is constantly giving us specific direction for our lives. But sometimes ordinary-ness take over. This happened to me a few years ago when I wasn't alert and caused a crash.

So I need this reminder now so that I stay alert -- not only in driving, but also alert to God's Spirit. When I seek the kingdom and keep my spiritual eyes and ears open to what God is saying, he'll keep me open to new learning and fresh in prayer. That way I'll be more likely to gladly let the Lord correct and lead me -- even in ways that seem to be not "natural" for us humanly speaking.

Time to go. Sorry if this seems disorganized. Maybe I'll fix it later. (And I did do some editing just now, at 2:00.)

The following video on The Smith System of Accident Free Driving is from 1956 - produced by the Ford Motor Company. It's found at

As I consider the "Smith System" driving keys and compare them to the ways of God, I can see how at least the first four have spiritual application.

  1. Aim High - Seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness!
  2. Get the Big Picture - The Kingdom of God is bigger than you!
  3. Keep your eyes moving - Don't get too focused on yourself or what is close at hand or immediately present - and notice what's going on with others both near and far.
  4. Leave yourself an out - We can get trapped and weighed down or by personal possessions and ambitions. Remember God may call you to let them go.
  5. Make sure they see you. This one isn't as easily applicable as the others -- except that it certainly is possible that those who carry God's Word can be too silent and too hidden. The prophets in the scripture did things that called attention to the message. They didn't live in obscurity all the time.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

To Church, Again

In a few minutes I'll be leaving our house in Cokato to "go to church." I'm going to get together with other people who will be publicly speaking Jesus' name, singing His praise, listening to His Word. I expect that the Lord will speak to me through the Word of God and through the interpretation that is given to that Word by the one(s) who speak. I expect to leave the gathering today with renewed hope and faith. I hope to be challenged and corrected and convicted of sin. And I expect to hear the forgiving good news of Jesus' sacrificial perfect love.

Don't look for a perfect church. Pray and go. Whether that church meets in a home or in some larger building, go there. Don't remain alone.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Tribute to Maria

I'm back in Cokato at the moment, just for about 36 hours.

Right now I'm grieving the loss of a dear (and older) friend. I heard of her passing from her son Carlo, who posted a picture of his mom when she was quite young. The picture I'm posting here is from last November during one of my visits to the Cokato Manor where she had lived for the last few years of her long life.

I wrote the following a an hour ago on her son's facebook wall.

"In my many experiences with Maria I came to know her as one of the most transparent and honest people I've had the privilege of knowing. Fortunately Jesus' love is even more full and honest and unvarnished. His suffering love is Maria's refuge and salvation. I was so hoping to see her this weekend. I'm very sad but will wait to see her in the place where all is laid bare and healed with love that never shrinks back, that never fears, and that always honestly deals with us just as we are. Much love to the entire family."

There's a lot more I could say or write about this lovely lady. But for now I'll just share an article that was published in the Dassel-Cokato Enterprise Dispatch back in 2012.

It highlights a scholarship that Maria's daughter Rita started in honor of her mother.

I will honestly miss this dear sister in the Lord. Very much.
Honoring mamma: DC native starts English language learners scholarship    
Monday, June 25, 2012 By Jennifer Kotila Staff Writer

COKATO, MN – Rita (Wandersee) Hayek, a 1969 graduate of Cokato High School, recently retired after 30 years of teaching.

For the last 24 years of her career, she taught high school English in the diverse community of Pelican Rapids.

This year, Hayek presented the first Maria Battaglia First Generation Scholarship to a graduate of Pelican Rapids High School in honor of her mother, Maria (Battaglia) Morris, of Cokato.

Hayek’s husband, Greg, suggested a scholarship honoring Morris when Hayek started considering offering a scholarship to youth from Pelican Rapids.

Morris was a war bride, having met her first husband, George Wandersee, in Italy during World War II.

“This scholarship is basically in honor of all parents who sacrifice for their children to have a better education and a better life,” Hayek said.

The scholarship is awarded to students who learn to speak English as their second language.

Pelican Rapids is populated with those from many different cultures, including people whose families immigrated from countries such as Somalia, Mexico, Vietnam, and Bosnia.

Therefore, many of the children in the school where Hayek taught had parents at home who could not speak English.

Because of her own experience being raised by an English language learner (Morris), Hayek could relate to the children she was teaching.

“Life provides many different circumstances for all kinds of people. We are all on a journey to do the best we can, and to provide a better life for those who come after us,” Hayek said.

“Whether you are 8 years old or 80, you may have an ancestor who came from another country, struggling to learn English,” she continued. “We need to embrace all cultures in this struggle for a better life for everyone.”

An Italian war bride comes to Minnesota

Morris had a hard life. Growing up in Italy during World War II, she was not able to complete school past the second grade, and did not know how to read or write.

“I went through the war, it was terrible,” Morris said, noting when she was about 12 years old, her family would be awakened at least three times a night to take shelter from the bombings that were taking place.

“When we would come out from the shelter, there would be people dead all over,” Morris said. “War is nothing to play with. It went on for years – and people had to go to work if they liked it or not.”

Morris also recalls waking up hungry in the middle of the night due to the rationing that was taking place in Italy during the war.

Her family would capture baby sparrows and cook them with pasta in order to have enough to eat.

Although living through the war was difficult, Morris’ parents and seven siblings all survived.

Following the war, Morris worked in a laundry for the US Army, where George Wandersee, of Waverly, was the sergeant in charge.

Even though Wandersee did not speak Italian, and Morris did not speak English, he took a liking to the young Italian woman.

Despite the fact that Morris was in love with an Italian man named Angelo, her strict, policeman father encouraged her to marry Wandersee.

“One day he noticed this guy liked me, and told me ‘Maria, I want you to marry him, you’ll have a better life in America.’ He said in America, money grows on apple trees,” Morris said.

So she became an Italian war bride, marrying Wandersee in 1946. Because he was still on active duty, Morris made the trip to the US by herself, not knowing a bit of English.

“I was not used to snow, and thought I was going to freeze to death,” Morris said.

She also had never seen a cow before, and was now living on a farm, and had to help milk cows.

“It was a total culture shock,” Hayek said of what her mother endured. Morris admitted to crying for many months, feeling all alone in a strange place.

“She has a very strong faith, that’s what pulled her through,” Hayek said, adding that Morris’ wonderful sense of humor helped, as well.

When Wandersee finally came home from the war, the couple began their family. Morris would give birth to three girls and a boy before Wandersee died in 1954, leaving her a widow with four young children at the age of 25.

Following the death of Wandersee, Morris went back to Italy. Again, she could have married Angelo.

However, Morris was determined to build a better life for her family, and returned to the US.

In 1955, Morris married Russel Morris, of Cokato, and had five more children – all boys.

Throughout the years, Morris has kept in touch with her first love in Italy, even visiting him the few times she has returned to her homeland.

When she first arrived in the US, she would call Angelo every Saturday at 2 p.m. and allow the phone to ring twice before hanging up, just to let him know she was OK.

“It was their way of checking on each other – so sweet,” Hayek said.

Both Angelo’s wife and Morris’ husband knew the two dear friends remained in touch over the years.

Today, Morris is still in contact with Angelo, and they talk on the phone every couple of months.

Honoring mamma

“Mom worked very hard to learn English. She knew we could be successful if we did well in school, behaved, and helped other people,” Hayek said.

Morris never spoke Italian at home, and did not teach her children Italian. The only time Hayek heard Italian, was when Morris was speaking to someone in Italy, usually at Christmastime.

“She had many little angels along the way,” Hayek added, noting that people from Howard Lake, Cokato, and Dassel all helped Morris, teaching her to speak, read, and write English, how to live in the US, and helping her study for her citizenship exam.

Morris passed the citizenship exam before returning to Italy in 1954, after Wandersee died.

“I do think that God’s love shines through it all,” Hayek said. “That’s the bottom line – to allow God’s love to shine through people.”

When presenting the scholarship this year, Hayek told the seniors to thank the caring people who encouraged their education.

“That is what this scholarship is all about. Grandparents, parents, and others who have sacrificed to make the world a better place for each of you – for each of us,” Hayek said.

Friday, August 7, 2015

All His Benefits

What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me? Psalm 116:12
Good morning! It's 10:30 as I'm starting to write this. I'm a passenger on a bus at the moment, on my way downtown from mom and dad's -- I plan to get on the light rail to St. Paul to visit someone in the hospital there. It's nice to take a break from driving. I'm doing entirely too much of that lately.

The bus driving job is getting easier, though there are new challenges everyday. The hardest route for me, by far, is the one that has me driving east through downtown at the height of the rush hour and then across the Twin City area all the way to Woodbury. It's the construction zone on 6th street near the new Vikings' stadium and the crowded Interstate 94 that I find most difficult each day. But, as I told my sister-in-law Leah yesterday, there's no real reason why I can't do it safely. It's just hard.

I haven't been writing much online these days, mostly, I think, because a lot of my non-working time has been used taking care of the moving business and also just being present with mom and dad at their condo. We are progressing toward closing the sale of our Cokato home (scheduled for the second week of September) and the rental of a place not too far from Toni's business in Roseville.

[Now I'm on the Green Line train on the way to St. Paul.]

We thought we had settled on renting 2 rooms in a home in St. Paul, less than a mile from Como Park, a place owned by some people our daughter Naomi knows through her church.  But this week Paul Anderson, a pastor and spiritual entrepeneur that I've known for many years called to tell us that he was going to make an offer on a house on Lydia Avenue in Roseville, about a 5 minute drive from Toni's Roseville massage therapy business location. If we were to rent from Paul, Toni and I would have the privilege of participating with him and his wife Karen in their ministry with young adults by having 2-3 of them living in our home. Both of us think that could be an exciting and enriching opportunity.

When I say "enriching" I don't mean financially so. Our expenses these days are exceeding our income, and not by just a little. Whether we rent a part of the house near Como Park or rent from Paul Anderson, the shortfall will continue even after we sell our Cokato home. I'm only working part time (30 hours a week guaranteed) with Metro Transit, and though the wages there aren't bad compared with other similar jobs, it doesn't provide nearly the compensation and benefits that our former church employment provided to Toni and I and our kids. We do have savings, though, and so we'll need to supplement our income with that.

Yesterday afternoon as I was driving my "675C" route to Ridgedale and Wayzata, I started thinking about something that my mother-in-law Jo had been saying back at the time I was deciding to leave my work at Crossroads. She, and the Dahlin family, together with our kids, wanted to mark the end of our many years in full time [paid] service to churches. Jo wrote an email inviting the family to their place in Northfield and she referred to the event as a sort of "Retirement" party.

I didn't, and, don't, think of the changes that have been going on with Toni and me as "retirement," but, in a certain sense, at least for now, we are going to be able to live in a sort of financial semi-retirement. I say that because we DO have savings we can use to supplement our income. Younger people who are working only part time rarely have those kinds of resources to fall back on. So I guess I can, perhaps, not hate everything about the "R" word... If our financial situation continues to be in the red, the fact is that I will be able to use some of our retirement funds because then I'll be fifty-nine and a half years old. I guess that's some sort of magic number in the tax-code world.

We're moving on the train on University Avenue right now at a good clip between stops. It won't be long until we get to downtown St. Paul and I can walk over to Regions Hospital. If I was working full time at a traditional job I might not be able to make this visit. That's something I can celebrate with this unusual part-time work schedule that I have now. Also, my work provides a free transit pass, and if I ever do actually "retire" as a Metro Transit employee, that pass will be permanent. And, beginning next month, I'll be eligible for health insurance. Not free for part time employees, but a lot cheaper than it is now on the individual market.

We've almost arrived now at the Robert Street Station. Time to stop and get off the train!

[I finished writing this before 11:30 AM; published online after I returned to mom and dad's condo]

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Weekend Surrender

Right now I noticed that it's almost the same time as it was last week when I was writing -- just before 6 AM. I slept until 5:15. When I got up I heard my alarm clock going off. It was still set for 4:45 and was beeping in a bag that I'd carried in from the car last night. Now it's silenced until Monday. I'm so glad.

I spent another week in the Twin Cities, working my split shifts and doing what I could to help mom and dad a little as I stay in their guest room. Toni and I are taking care of other details and planning as well, planning and working and connecting with others mostly about our housing situation. We are hoping to move to the Roseville area later in August or sometime in the beginning of September.

We're looking for others live in a part of a home with us -- we found a split level house for rent that would be pretty ideal to share because it has separate spaces for Toni and I (upstairs) and another group (downstairs). The cost is a lot more than we can handle on our own. If you know anyone who would prefer to live in a house instead of an apartment, let us know.

Whoever it is would need to be able to sign a sub-lease agreement and commit to paying part of our rent for the school year or more. The place we're looking at is close to Northwestern and Bethel Universities... students, young adults or families are invited to connect with us about sharing. Toni and I are looking forward to this sharing arrangement!

After I pulled the articulated bus into Haywood garage at about 8 yesterday evening, having completed my late afternoon-early evening 355 and 675C bus routes, I saw one of our instructors and spent some time talking with him about the job, the pay, future prospects and some other things. He's one of the many greatly helpful individuals I've met at Metro Transit.

One thing I found out in our conversation is that moving to full time would not only mean losing weekends off, but it would also mean having two days off a week that aren't together. He said, for example, that my days off might end up being Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wow. I don't think I'd like that at all.

Fortunately, "split" days off only end up going to those who are the lowest in seniority. After some time, perhaps a year or two, I'd be able to get a couple days off in a row. That's how it is in the seniority system that I've entered in this "second career" that I think of as a kind of "tentmaking."
"Tentmaking, in general, refers to the activities of any Christian who, while dedicating him or herself to the ministry of the Gospel, receives little or no pay for Church work, but performs other ('tentmaking') jobs to provide support. Specifically, tentmaking can also refer to a method of international Christian evangelism in which missionaries support themselves by working full-time in the marketplace with their skills and education, instead of receiving financial support from a Church. The term comes from the fact that the apostle Paul supported himself by making tents while living and preaching in Corinth (Acts 18:3)." (from an article in Wikipedia)
For now, though, I've got this precious time off. I'd like to use some of it to share here. I'm experiencing so much these days and I think at least some of it is worth sharing.


As I contemplate the blessings and the difficulties of these days, and as I spend quiet time this morning, I was led to these verses:
"It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another." Psalm 75:7


"Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just!" Revelation 16:7
I haven't taken time yet to read these verses in context (they are the "Moravian Daily Texts" for today), but they do point to a truth that has been on my mind a lot lately. It is God who is ultimately in control -- and it's best if I can recognize that and surrender, trusting His purposes for my life. If, at some point, that means surrendering my weekends and the "right" to two days off in a row, God will make it work out for the best.

Also, it means, at this point in my young career as a bus operator, that it's good for me to surrender any worry I have about performance evaluations and potential upcoming conversations with "managers" at the bus garage. I've done my best in driving and in the other duties associated with this job, but there is always room for improvement. I don't mind noticing mistakes and learning from them, but what I don't like is not knowing if others have seen mistakes I've made -- and if those others will end up "calling me into the office." Uff da.

But if I'm going to live this part of my life in faith, I just need to trust that God is going to make things work out for good as Toni and I love God and are called according to his purpose. And, of course, always, I will rely on the grace of God in our Lord Jesus, who gave his life so that I might live and love in His name, wherever I am.

Time to go back to bed for awhile. I'm thankful for that too.