Christmas Eve we were all singing by the light of the candles we were holding. I was on the front row because TJ, Levi, and I were leading the service which was coming to a close. As we sang, Sarah, Natalie and Bo – my three youngest grandchildren – came and hugged and stood with me. That made my Christmas for 2015!
I am thoroughly enjoying being the pastor for Northgate Church in Ottumwa. In some ways, the past year has been difficult as I’ve been reminded of all the ways Lois partnered with me in being a pastor. But God is gracious; I get to work with a gifted associate pastor and there are several Godly couples I’m learning to call on when being a single pastor might be awkward.
The big transition this year was for Kari Beth & Jeremy, Sarah & Natalie. They moved to LeClaire, IA when Jeremy received a promotion from John Deere which required a move to their headquarters. I am fortunate its only 2.5 hours away and I don’t think we’ve gone more than three weeks without seeing each other!
Tri State camp was in July and once again I had the privilege of leading staff as we asked God to use us in the lives of over 100 teenagers. I am continually amazed by the transformation I witness both in the lives of campers and staff.
In August I took some time off after a conference in Colorado Springs and met sister-in-law Beth & Bill for ice cream and then drove over the mountains to visit my Aunt Harriet and cousin Sue in Montrose, CO. On the way home I stopped and spent a day in Abilene, KS visiting the Eisenhower Presidential Library.
In October I once again participated in the CareGivers Forum in Green Lake, WI. CareGivers is a gathering of people who run retreat and counseling centers for pastors and missionaries and I’ve attended this annual conference since 2006. Even though I no longer work as a pastor-to-pastors, I do remain in contact with many of those people and find great value in the fellowship and encouragement as well as the networking.
I still live five miles north of Joy and Tony and their four boys and see them often. Brady, Broc, Brandt, and Bo are very active boys – there’s always something going on. I watched at least three baseball games a week from May-June!
Peter lives in West Des Moines where he is on staff at Lutheran Church of Hope in their IT department. We try to get together about once every six weeks but both of us are tied to church schedules so we sometimes default to long phone calls.
This year I have watched God work miracles in people’s lives as He turns chaos into order; depression into clarity; confusion into direction; grief into comfort; and darkness into light! I am so grateful to be a witness to His power.