From the Heart of a 6-Year-Old

Daddy preaching

I thought I would share with you a portrait of myself drawn by my 6-year-old daughter. Notice my (out of season) Lenten stole (my daughter’s favorite color). Arms out-stretched (as I can be animated in the pulpit). And of course, “God is good“. Behind me is the cross (a very happy daddy here that my daughter included that). Apparently I am a ghost since I have no legs, but far be it from me to critique a 6-year-old’s artwork. I am not sure what the red is at the bottom. Maybe I am jumping out of the flames because the Holy Spirit is red hot that day. Who knows, but I love it. But the following is my favorite…

God’s Radiance

This one is titled (in her own words), “God’s radiance”. Yup, I like that. No further commentary needed.

From the heart of a 6-year-old to mine 🙂

The Pastor and His Little Girl

The heart of this pastor longs to worship and lead worship. Nothing tops praising and thanking God for the hope of the resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ. But dare I say that worshiping with my family, especially my little girl (22 months old), comes in right up there? I say that because this pastor’s heart was touched by his little girl on two occasions this morning during worship.

The first occasion of heart touching (outside of worshiping God of course) came towards the beginning of half of worship. I had just finished presiding over a baptism where I was carrying the cute little baby up and down the aisle to show her off and introduce her to the congregation. I then handed the baby off to her mother and sat down. Just then, from a couple rows back, I heard my little girl crying,

“I want my daddy! I want my daddy!”

The next thing I notice is my little girl coming up to me in my row in tears (my wife broke down and let her come to me). I picked her up and set her on my lap as we listened to scripture being read. I wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed her gently on the cheek; whispering,

“I love you, sweetie”

My little girl just sat there with me very quietly; simply wanting to be near me (my guess is that she was jealous of me carrying the newly baptized baby up and down the aisle). During the final reading I brought her back to her mother and she was fine.

The second occasion of heart touching came during the final song. My routine is to walk up to the front during the final verse (during which time my little girl runs up to join me), I pray silently and then walk out to the narthex; preparing to greet people as they leave. But this time, my little girl was in my row during the first verse so we went up front. I held her tight and said,

“Let’s pray”

She then folded her hands on mine and we prayed. When I finished she said,


So cute
So heart-warming
So wonderful

Worshiping God is great and wonderful and nothing tops that, but I am so glad I get to worship with my family (especially my little girl). And now I look forward to my son (3 1/2 months) to soon start doing the same things as his sister.

The heart of this pastor is definitely bursting, in so many ways.
Thank you, dear God. Thank you.

Praise be to God!!!

The Pastor -|—

Glory to God

On my desk I have a picture frame that houses our family’s 2014 Christmas card. The card proudly shows off six pictures. Five of the pictures are of my two beautiful children and the sixth picture is a shot of our family of four. I find myself staring at this picture often; in awe that that is my family.

But as I stare at that beautiful arrangement of pictures; my eyes drift to the bottom left side of the card. There, in that corner are the words:

Glory to God

The words are meant to be a Christmas greeting and proclamation to our family and friends but they also remind me of God’s grace and faithfulness in our lives.

You see, about two years ago, my wife and I were wondering if we would ever be parents (especially after our painful failed adoption in March 2013), but now we are the parents of two beautiful children (both under the age of two, crazy, I know). Life has definitely changed for us, and in more ways than one:

~ Our house is now chaotic as our living room has turned into one big toy room.
~ Our Schedules are more complex.
~ Sleep is a premium.
~ Children’s songs now ring in my head.
~ Packing and traveling is stressful.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

But also, our faith in God through Jesus has been strengthened (and I definitely wouldn’t have THAT any other way).

Glory to God

You see, I was a Christian before the failed adoption, but afterwards, something “more”. And that’s the best way I can describe it. My wife and I became so much closer to each other and especially to God. We began to look at God differently (and in a good way). We began to lean more on God, especially during the healing process following the failed adoption. God was great before, we just noticed it better after we thought our lives were falling apart. God never deserted us; He was just doing something amazing.

Glory to God

Now I wonder how people do it. How do they navigate life without God? How do they deal with loss without God? How to they deal with tragedy without God? How do they face death without God? All of these questions perplex me and drive me to proclaim the Good News of Jesus. I don’t want anyone to deal with the crap of this world on their own.

I want people to lean on God through faith in Jesus.
I want people to know the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
I want people to see their sinfulness and need for a Savior.
I want people to see their need to confess their sins.
I want people to hear God’s forgiveness through Jesus.
I want people to know the hope of the resurrection.
I want people to know Jesus.
I want people to give…

Glory to God

So in case you wanted to know what drives this pastor to serve and minister and write all these blog posts, well, there you go. It’s about Jesus. It’s about the Gospel. It’s about Life. It’s about giving…

Glory to God

…always and forever; for He is worthy.

The Pastor -|—

Wonderful moments

I had a wonderful moment in worship yesterday (in addition to the hearing and preaching of the Gospel).  It’s a moment that I suspected would come eventually but I was still caught by surprise when I saw it.  It was so uber cute and I’m glad I got to share it with the congregation (at least with those who were sitting along the aisle and could see).

About half way through the final hymn I got up and approached the altar to silently pray.  I thanked God for sustaining me through a busy morning (2 worship services) after a night where Mayah (my 1 year old) did not sleep much.  I asked that His holy Word would continue to work in the hearts of those who heard it this morning and I praised God for His awesomeness, love and grace.

Upon turning around to walk out my wonderful moment happened; my little girl was excitedly walking down the aisle towards me.

[Mayah just started walking this past week so we are still smitten with the cuteness of it all]

My heart melted as I got down on one knee with my arms open wide; waiting to receive my little girl.  I could see smiles cascading down the aisle of those privileged enough to be able to witness this moment. When Mayah got to me she lunged into my arms as if she could hardly wait to get there.  I scooped her up and proudly walked up the aisle with a huge smile on my face.

For me it served as another great reminder of God’s blessings in my life.  It was extremely difficult to get out of bed on Sunday morning after only sleeping a couple hours and the coffee was barely able to give me the boost I needed.  With a lot on my mind, God was faithful to send His Holy Spirit to give me what I needed to lead worship and preach the Gospel.  And to top it off (like icing on a cake), God sent my little girl down the aisle as if to say, “You are loved“.

What a moment 🙂

I do feel blessed and not just because I have a wonderful little girl and loving wife, but that I have an awesome God who loves me so much.  God was faithful so that He may be glorified through this weak and tired body of mine.

So many wonderful moments and blessings all around.
What a great day.
What an awesome God!

The pastor -|—

A Christmas reflection and blessing

Oh boy…my least favorite day is coming up tomorrow.  Oh well…I have one more opportunity to proclaim the Christmas Gospel this morning before the post-Christmas blues hit.

Last night (Christmas Eve) was wonderful.  We were greeted with a couple inches of that beautiful white stuff; a sanctuary full of family and friends; wonderful music from our organist and my wife’s family on brass along with a confirmation student of mine. We had the privilege of former students reading scripture along with two of my release time kids and two of my confirmation students. I also got finish leading worship while holding my little girl (who celebrated her first Christmas).  And all of this while worshiping our awesome God who came to us at Christmas time in Jesus Christ.

A wonderful night!

Now I am preparing to head out to my country congregation (Belmont Lutheran Church) to lead Christmas Day worship.  And that will be wonderful in it’s own unique way.

Looking back on all the preparations, family time, worship, etc, I just don’t understand how someone could possibly look forward to Christmas being done.  I will welcome the rest but I will be anxious for next year. In the meantime receive this Christmas blessings from me to you as you worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ:

May the joy of the Christ-child fill your hearts.
May the joy of the shepherds lead you out to glorify and praise the Lord.
May you ponder with Mary all the things that God has done.
May you have the tenacity of the Magi to follow Jesus each and every day.
And may you bask in the awesome love of God.


The pastor -|—

Added vocation

This pastor/new daddy hasn’t been writing much here recently, but because of my new vocation, I have been posting more at my adoption blog that I write with my wife called:

Adopted as an Heir at

I guess this new vocation of mine is making some changes in my life.  There are a few things I used to do a lot but don’t do much anymore (i.e running). But I am still doing my “normal” pastor things:
~ I am preaching sermons and leading worship.
~ I am doing home visits with Holy Communion.
~ I am visiting the sick.
~ I am conducting premarital counseling session.
~ I am attending church meetings.
~ Etc, etc, etc…and those things aren’t going to change or fall by the wayside.

And neither will this blog fall by the wayside…but it might change a little bit.  After all…I do have a new vocation.

And as I reflect on my new vocation I have noticed a few other changes:
~ Sermon prep is different now as sometimes my comfortable routine gets interrupted or changed.  But more importantly I have another lens to look at the world through.
~ Worship leading is different especially when I look out there and see/hear my little girl.  I also wonder what she will think of worship as she gets older; will she grow to love God as her mommy and daddy do?
~ When I do visits, Mayah sometimes tags along…and I have yet to get a complaint about this 🙂
~ Counseling sessions…they go on as normal but now I have a daddy role to draw wisdom from when working with couples preparing for marriage.
~ Church meetings…this is where I need to leave Mayah with my wife so I can focus on ministry matters, but I usually don’t linger too long afterward as I am always excited to get home to be with my family.

Basically…I have a new “normal” (whatever “normal” means now).  And this new normal includes the most beautiful, precious little girl.

So…you will have to put up with this “new” pastor and his new vocation.  After all…this vocation is a part of me that cannot be separated…


…everything that I do has changed (and I believe for the better), since the heart of this pastor has been changed forever.

And praise be to God for that 🙂

The pastor -|—

We’re free!

We finally got a path out of the church parking lot and I got my car dug out.  I was starting to get cabin fever being stuck at the house for a couple days.  The only bummer part of this whole thing is that even though we are free they are still not advising travel to Sioux Falls.  My wife and I were hoping to make it to Sioux Falls today to celebrate Christmas with her side of the family.  Everyone is there except for Connie and I.  We are holding out hope now that we will make it there tomorrow after worship.

So even though this snow storm (which I have named “Winter Storm Eric”…I have always wanted a storm named after me) has changed our plans significantly… I am looking at the bright side of things.  Instead of celebrating Christmas over the course of a couple days, running around like a chicken with its head cut off, we get to have a few little celebrations over the course of a week…taking our time to savor the moments.  And isn’t that what we are supposed to do anyway?

So I have one more day to be kind of stuck and then we are off…to celebrate some more…and remember again and again why we have a season such as this.  God sent love to earth in Jesus Christ…the best Christmas gift of all.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Christmas snow storm 2009

Many of you reading this blog are not here in the upper Midwest part of the United States.  Even if you are not living here you no doubt have heard something about the major snow storm that is here.  Right now we are in a lull but conditions will be deteriorating fast throughout the day (Christmas Eve); creating near blizzard conditions through Saturday (Wow…I almost sound like a meteorologist…I guess it is too much Weather Channel the past few days).  When all is said and done, we should have (here in Jackson) around 15 to 20 inches of snow (maybe more).  Four inches fell last night.  Needless to say Christmas plans have been altered around here.  Many churches have already canceled/postponed Christmas worship services and many family plans have changed.  For me personally…I feel conflicted and a little annoyed.  I love snow storms but this one is bad timing; so therefore I want to enjoy this storm but it is hard too when I know there are people trying to get places and many who can not get to family destinations.

With all that being said I ask you to pray.  I mentioned yesterday that “It WILL happen”…meaning the birth of Jesus WILL be celebrated.  My prayer is that people can still worship and celebrate even though things have changed for them.  I am also praying that people are safe.  Right now the roads are open but no travel is advised.  Those venturing out; please be careful (I am kind of hoping roads close so people are forced to stay off them).

Part of me also wonders why God would allow such a major snow storm to strike…at Christmas.  I know other people may be wondering the same thing.  Even though I can not explain this I know that God will be glorified no matter what.  So pray that people (including me) do not lose focus.  This storm is annoying…it is canceling some worship services…it is throwing a wretch in the works…but God will be glorified.  I believe (even through my concerns and questions) that God will do something amazing through and despite this storm.  Mother Nature can not stop God.

And…I will be praying that all of you have a very blessed Christmas.  I pray you bask in the hope and joy of the Christ child with wonder and love.  Worship doesn’t have to happen in a certain room, in a certain building at a certain time.  Worship is how we live our lives.  Worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus…no matter where you are or who you are with.  Give praise, honor and glory to God, always and forever, Amen.

Merry Christmas!


What a blessing

I feel incredibly blessed…

Yesterday the congregation I serve celebrated the 5 year anniversary of my ordination (which is on July 2).  There was a special recognition of this occasion during worship in addition to a number of other surprises my wife and others cooked up (and let me tell you…as a pastor who is used to leading worship, it was a little uncomfortable not knowing what was going on in worship…but I still really enjoyed and appreciated what they did).  Connie’s very musical family was there to provide special music and brass accompaniment during the hymns and offering.  My mom read scripture and the church presented me with a gift.  After worship there was a cake/coffee reception for me (something the community was invited to, along with worship).  These were all things I was truly unworthy of, but it was nice to experience this affirmation of my call here.  I feel incredibly blessed for God has done amazing things here through all of us.

So many people were involved to help make this a special day and they tried so hard to keep things from me (which was tough considering we live and serve in a small town and small congregation), but they did a great job.  So if you are one of those people reading this…THANK YOU!…yesterday will be a day I will always remember and treasure.  But the main we all need to remember (and something that people highlighted yesterday) is that through it all…in everything that happens good and bad…PRAISE BE TO GOD!

Thank you to Salem and Belmont Lutheran Churches and to the community of Jackson.  Connie and I are very happy to be part of these communities.  PRAISE BE TO GOD!


Sunday morning prayer

I don’t know about you, but there’s something so comforting and soothing about a candle burning near by…especially when it smells like Strawberry Cream.  It almost makes me crave a Strawberries and Cream drink at Starbucks.  It’s just too bad that the Starbucks near us is being closed.  Darn it anyway.

But that aside I am enjoying a nice cool morning…with an aroma of strawberries floating in the air…giving thanks to God for another day.  And what a great day it is.  Connie and I have had a fun week with friends and a fun weekend at home with family.  My cousin and his wife renewed their vows yesterday and when we as a family get together (cousins and all) we have a great time.  I just wish I could have stayed longer last night but I had a 2 1/2 hour drive to get home.  Oh well…some time with family is better than nothing.

Anyway…last week I let my busy schedule get the best of me but not today.  I am not going to leave without praying with you this morning.  So let’s join our hearts together as fellow members of the body of Christ and offer our prayers to God.  Let us pray…

Father in heaven we praise you for your incredible love and mercy.  You offer forgiveness; you give us life; you show us your will.  But Lord God, we too often follow the ways of this world.  We too often conform to the patterns of this world.  Instead of standing up for you we take the easy way out.  Loving God, we ask for wisdom and courage to follow you so others may see our good works and give you glory.  All this dear God, we pray through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. [ Reference:  Romans 12:1-8 ]



May God richly bless your day with His abandant love and mercy.


Take care!