Its December 22 – how did it get here so fast???
This has been a year of . . . well it’s hard to describe so I’ll try to hit the highlights.
January 16th we celebrated my Mom, Clarice’s, 90th birthday. My brother and his wife, Mark & Marilyn, flew in to surprise Mom and it worked. It was a blast even though we all got caught in a fierce but short blizzard that delayed supper for quite a while!
In March, Clarice began having more health challenges including kidney infections and trouble breathing at times. She would often ask me to pray for God to take her home. God honored her prayer and she died on August 15. She died peacefully but her mind was absent several days before. In order to give everyone time to make reasonable plans, we had a family graveside service and waited until September 11 to have her Celebration of Life service. It seemed appropriate to honor Mom on the 5th anniversary of Lois’ death.
After 15 months, June 15th was my last Sunday as Interim Pastor at the Cedar Rapids Alliance Church. Their new pastor started the next Sunday and I was honored when the District Superintendent asked me to participate in Todd Hart’s Installation Service.
There were several open doors to explore but while I waited for God’s direction, I was asked to help out in the office of a local funeral home! I learned a lot and started working on getting that office digitized. Interesting. The best week of the summer was Tri State Camp in July – my 21st year at camp and 17th year as director – I love working with the best camp staff anywhere!
In August – right around the time Mom died – I missed the deadline to get my name on the ballot to run for County Hospital Trustee. I was appointed to fill a term in 2010 left open by a resignation. Now I wanted to continue to serve so I began a write-in campaign and in November was elected for a six year term. I really enjoy working with my fellow board members and the leadership at the hospital.
As I waited and prayed for “what’s next” God opened doors and led me to become a candidate for Lead Pastor at Northgate Alliance Church in Ottumwa, IA. It’s just 20 miles from my house and it’s the church Joy & Tony and Kari Beth & Jeremy and all six of my grandkids attend. It really doesn’t make any sense, because conventional wisdom says the church should’ve called a 43 year old pastor with a wife and 2.5 children, but they called me! (God was in the middle of this!) I started November 1. So now I’m in the process of transferring my credentials to the Christian Missionary Alliance. I get to partner with a full-time Associate Pastor, TJ Callaway, who is half my age (I turned 60 this year!) and I really enjoy working with him. Another bonus is that Kari Beth is the Children’s Ministry Director.
God enables us to serve Him without fear and God gives His people a future secured by His grace and mercy. We pray for the wisdom to see that all of this is God’s doing and not our own achievement. We must all recognize that the “doing” is done by God. God’s grace goes before our work; defining, shaping and sanctifying our service. Our first task is always worship and praise; recognizing the great work of salvation God is doing.