Sharing Something Lovely

I have always been an observer.  By nature I am a curious person.  (Some might call me nosey – but I prefer to think of myself as deeply curious and inquiring.)  I am endlessly entertained by watching and listening and taking in the world around me.  I enjoy noticing things. 

I especially love nature.  I am an absolute nut about flowers and trees.  I am ever so slightly obsessed with the sky.  I love the way the sky changes throughout the day and over the course of the year.  A sunny day in July looks nothing like a sunny day in January.

I was into mindfulness before I knew what it was or that it was a thing.  I so love knowing that there are other people out there in the world staring at the sky along with me.  (There is a comfort in knowing that you aren’t actually the weirdest person on the planet!)

There is just so much to see and to notice and to take in.  I really do find this world in which we dwell intriguing. 

Something else that I find intriguing is other people. 

I know what I think is interesting and intriguing and awe inspiring.  I know what catches my attention.  I know what I love.  But what do other folks find intriguing and  interesting?  What catches someone else’s attention and why?  What does someone else think is lovely or beautiful?  What catches his eye and makes him stop in his tracks – if even for just a moment in time? 

What makes someone else think of our God who created us all?

I also love thinking about how other people see and perceive the world around us.  I love thinking about other folks’ perspectives on life. 

The way I perceive and see the world is likely not the same way that you see the world.  We are all just too different!

Last week – Jack took our camera outside at dusk and went for a walk around our yard.  This is something that I have done many – many times (usually without a camera – but sometimes with a camera).  I love puttering around our yard – looking at the flowers – pulling a few weeds here and there – admiring the garden – and generally enjoying our home’s outside spaces.

I loved seeing the world from our Jack’s perspective.

I know I thought what Jack saw was so interesting – because I have loved this human being since the moment his dad and I realized he would be joining our family. 

I know some of this is because I love this young man so very – very much. 

I am this young man’s annoying mom after all. 

Jack was drawn to the firefly. I was transfixed by the boy’s hand . . .

But you all have folks you love too.  You all have special friends in your lives and in your hearts. 

I encourage all of you to spend some time sharing what you think is interesting with one another.  Seriously – try having actual conversations with each other about what you value.  About what makes your hearts happy.  About what gives you joy.  Talk to someone you love about what she thinks is beautiful.  Ask someone you love about what inspires him or intrigues him. 

Ask someone you love to share pictures of where they see beauty in this world.  (Almost everyone I know has a phone in their pocket these days.  Therefore – we all have a camera in our pockets these days.) 

Take the time to have a meaningful conversation about what you value – about what is beautiful – about where you see God. 

These are strange times – but I have found that many people are much more open to having deeper conversations these days too.  Give it a try.  It won’t even hurt!

Invite a few friends or your immediate family to share 3 pictures of something they saw during their day that was beautiful or interesting or made them think of God.

Wouldn’t that be more interesting and far – far more inspiring than talking about the selfish dude at the grocery store who refused to wear a mask?!?

You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

Worship for Sunday, July 26, 2020

1 Kings 3:5-12

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?’

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 119:129-136

Your decrees are wonderful;
   therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
   it imparts understanding to the simple.
With open mouth I pant,
   because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
   as is your custom towards those who love your name.
Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
   and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
   that I may keep your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant,
   and teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears
   because your law is not kept.  Amen.

Romans 8:26-39

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
   we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Word of our Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’

He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Life is complicated.  Actually – life can be very – very complicated sometimes!  Especially when it comes to our relationships with other people.  Navigating relationships is tricky even in the of best circumstances.  We all know that caring for and loving other people can be incredibly complicated.  

Yes – of course – some days are easy breezy – lemon squeezy.  Some days love just flows out of us like we are a river.  Some days our hearts overflow with love for our beloved family members!  And we give God thanks for the incredible blessing of family.

We find ourselves absolutely – positively shocked that we could be so incredibly and wonderfully blessed to have these spectacular blessings from God in our humble lives.

We look around at our families and think to ourselves – my heart is just so very full of love for these wonderful people!  My cup really and truly runneth over. 

I am pretty sure that I will remember this day for years to come.

Tears of joy and thanksgiving might even come to our eyes – because we have the truly incredible honor and privilege of knowing and loving such wonderful people.

We do have days like these.  (Okay – maybe not entire days.)  But we do have moments like these!  We do have times in our lives when our hearts are just so wonderfully full of love for the people in our lives.  When we give thanks for the people we love.

This was a very – very good day!

But – because we are all very human – human beings and the people we love are just as human we are – we also have days when it is a bit harder to find and feel the love.  We have days when the sound of our children’s voices doesn’t make our hearts sing for joy.  We have days when we look out our spouse and all we can think is – hmmm – she sure does talk A LOT and what’s up with all of the yarn?!?  (I couldn’t pick on Jason here – because he doesn’t have any annoying habits . . .)  And the sight of those dirty socks in the middle of dining room floor or better yet in the middle of the dining room table turns you into “the scary lady AGAIN!”  (Or maybe that just happens at our house!?!)

Will has had just about enough of his crazy, hippy-dippy hiking parents. The poor guy just wants a decent WiFi signal and his I-pad!

It isn’t that we have stopped loving these people – it’s just that we find them to be incredibly ANNOYING.  And I would guess that the feelings are mutual.  Relationships are complicated.

COVID-19 has added a whole new level of interest and complexity and in many cases intensity to our family relationships hasn’t it? 

For those of us who share our homes with other human beings – we are seeing a whole lot of each other these days.  In most circumstances we are seeing way – way more of some people than we have ever seen before.  For example – the last time I spent this much time with Will McFarland was 8 years ago – when we were still sharing a body!  It has been interesting and lovely and great and hard and exhausting and stressful and a blessing and hard.  Did I mention that it has been hard? 

These last few months have been a lot of things at our house.  And I am guessing that we are not alone.

More than once over the past few months – I have declared that “I am going to church to WORK all by MYSELF.  I do NOT know when I will be home.  And absolutely NO one is coming with me!  NO ONE!”

Certainly I am not alone in finding loving people to be complicated.  I know that my family finds loving me to be a complicated endeavor.  Actually they would say that loving me is very – very complicated!

But in the end- I love my family no matter what.  Really – I do.  I love them dirty socks and annoying habits and messy messes and sassy sass and all.

I am sure you have all felt this sort of love for someone else.  That you have loved someone not matter what they did.  No matter how frustrating or annoying or hurtful they were.  That you have loved someone even when you did not like them or their actions very much.

This sort of love is pretty amazing.  This sort of love is downright impressive.  And it is certainly an incredible blessing.

But this sort of love is still just a very dim reflection of the love God the Father has for each of you.  God’s love for you is so perfect – it dims all other kinds of love.  God’s love for you is so perfect – it boggles the mind.

Listen to how Saint Paul describes God’s love for you.  God’s love for you “is patient.  God’s love for you is kind.  God’s love for you is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way.  God’s love for you is not irritable or resentful – it does not rejoice in wrongdoing – but rejoices in the truth.  God’s love for you bears all things – believes all things – hopes all things – endures all things.  And most wonderfully of all God’s love for you never ends.” 

I have always loved these heart-shaped leaves.

That sort of love – is a love in which we can find great comfort and hope.  That sort of love changes our lives and redeems us for all eternity.  That sort of love reveals to us the beauty of heaven.  And that is the sort of love God has for each of you.

And there is even more to God’s love for you.   In Romans chapter 8 Saint Paul wrote – “who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will hardship or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or the sword?  No – in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death – nor life – nor angels – nor rulers – nor things present – nor things to come – nor powers – nor height – nor depth – nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Absolutely nothing can separate you from God’s perfect love for you.  God will always love you.  There is nothing in this world that will stop God from loving you – nothing.  Not even death can stop God from loving you – because God won’t let it.

Even on your very worst days – God stands before you and proclaims.  You are my beloved child.  I have loved you from the beginning of time – I love you right now and I will love you forever.  Nothing will ever change that.  Truly this is Good News – AMEN.

FCHUM Gala 2020/2.0!

This spring the Fern Creek/Highview United Ministries had to cancel their annual Gala as a result of COVID-19.  The Gala is a really – really – really big deal for FCHUM, because it is their single biggest fundraiser of the year.  Every year the Gala raises well over $20,000 to support the incredibly important ministries that happen through FCHUM every week.  (Last year the Gala raised over $27,000!)  The money raised during the Gala helps feed and care for our neighbors who are going through a difficult time.  This money helps support the Adult Day Center.  This money changes lives in powerful ways.  This money shares and shows God’s love in our community.

Every year members of Saint Stephen have attended the FCHUM Gala.  Some of you have bid quite generously on auction items in previous years.  One of our families even had the winning bid on a hot air balloon ride! 

For the past 4 years Saint Stephen has won the heavenly halo award!!!!  I am pretty sure that we were on track to win again this year – but we will just have to wait for 2021 to see if we can make it a 5-peat. (And why yes – yes I am obsessed with that halo!  I watch television sometimes so I know there could be worse things to be obsessed with . . .)

The fantastic FCHUM board and the equally fantastic Renee have put their collective brains together and come up with an alternative to the spring Gala.  Starting on Tuesday, September 1st, 2020 and going through Sunday, September 20th, 2020 there will be an on-line auction to support the life-changing ministries of FCHUM.

The auction will be open to everyone in the community.  I will share the information with you once I have received it.

Cheryl Markley and I have assembled 5 baskets which Saint Stephen will be donating to FCHUM’s on-line auction.  These amazingly, awesome baskets will be on display in Saint Stephen’s narthex for the next few weeks.  But – I know not everyone will be able to feast their eyes on their basket-y goodness there – so I am sharing the baskets with you here too.

I plan to take the baskets to FCHUM around Monday, August 17th.  If one of the baskets is calling your name or the name of someone you love a lot – please make me an offer that I can’t refuse!  I am sure that Renee would be delighted to receive a check or currency in place of a basket or 5.  (And in the case of the knitted baskets – well – we all know that I probably would whip up another between now and then!  After all – as I have been know to say – “it is for Jesus!”)

Clean-up Your Kitchen!

Give your kitchen a mini-makeover with a whole new set of linens. 

This set includes:  3 hand towels/tea towels, 4 hot pads/trivets, 6 wash cloths, and 4 scrubby wash cloths.

(These were knit using an pattern called Old Shale lace. It is pretty nifty noddle!)

Each item in this set has been hand-knit using high quality cotton yarn by a knitter with over 3 decades of knitting experience!

Beading Blitz Basket

This basket is offers hours upon hours of crafting entertainment.

It includes thousands of both glass and plastic beads. 

You will be able to make a vast collection of necklaces, bracelets, charms, and friendship pins!

Perfect entertainment for these days of staying safe at home!

Clean-up Your Kitchen!

Give your kitchen a mini-makeover with a whole new set of linens. 

This set includes:  4 hand towels/tea towels, 4 hot pads/trivets, 6 wash cloths, and 4 scrubby wash cloths.

Each item in this set has been hand-knit using high quality cotton yarn by a knitter with over 3 decades of knitting experience!

Books!  Marvelous Books!  Glorious Books!

This basket is perfect for the young (but not too young reader in your life.) It includes everything your adorably wonderful reader needs for hours and hours of reading joy and fun! The basket has 4 paperback books for 8-12 year old readers, a box of hot chocolate, book themed novelty socks, and 2 sparkling ICE drinks.

A Parent’s Best Friend Basket (with a boy-ish slant)

Things that fly!

This basket has been prepared by an expert (a mom who has been entertaining a 7 year old little boy and his 16 year old big brother for their entire lives)!

Inside entertainment!

This basket contains: 4 airplane gliders, a Frisbee, a kite, stickers, 7 Hotwheels cars, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a fidget spinner,

crayons and paper, a puzzle block, a galaxy rock art kit, Play Dough, jacks, and just a little candy – because some days a little sugar is fun too!

Questions and Quiet Moments

When you are a pastor people ask you all sorts of intriguing questions.  Many of the questions folks ask me are of a theological nature.  I get asked about the nature of good and evil.  I get asked about events from Jesus’ earthly life.  I get asked about death and heaven and why God let’s bad things happen to good people. 

Since I am a woman who is an ordained clergy person – I get asked a fair number of questions about what the Bible says about females and church leadership.  (And yes – I do know and have read the parts of the Bible that tell women to keep quiet and not teach men.  Actually I have read the ENTIRE Bible more than once.  I am a great big nerd after all.)   You would not believe the number of the times someone has shared the following with me:

            “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” – 1 Timothy 2:12-15. 

This passage drives me a little batty because I have read other parts of the Bible too like the following:

           “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” – Genesis 3:6. 

Yes- Adam was there all along!  And Eve did not force or trick Adam to eat from that piece of forbidden fruit – but I digress.  Apparently I do that a lot – or so my beloved family tells me!

Okay anyway – before I digress too much and head off on a theological tangent (yet again) – not all of the questions I am asked are theological.  One of the questions I am asked most often is something along the lines of ” Hey Pastor Kerri – doesn’t it totally freak you out to be in the church all by yourself?”

I find this particular question thoroughly intriguing – because no – I am absolutely – positively not freaked out by being in the church by myself.  (Yes – I have had some moments when I have wished for company – but that is usually when I have been forced to tell someone that I won’t give them money for drugs and they have been upset by my answer.) 

For me – being at church – is like being at home – I am incredibly comfortable here.  I love it when the church is full of people.  I love being surrounded by my sisters and brothers in Christ – but I also love being in the church alone.  I don’t think that the church is spooky or feels haunted or creepy when it is dark and empty.  I am pretty sure that the only ghost that spends any time in the church is the Holy Ghost!

I look forward to the time that I have alone in the church.  It is very – very peaceful!  I do some of my best thinking and praying when I am in the church alone. 

I enjoy puttering around the church doing tasks in the narthex and the sanctuary and the fellowship hall and the church kitchen. 

I love listening the sounds the building makes.  Sometimes the building sighs.  Other times the building seems to crackle in the wind.

I delight in watching the light and shadows change throughout the day and over the course of the year.  The shadows look so very different in July than they do in January.

Just yesterday morning – as I was puttering around in the sanctuary and the narthex – cleaning up and straightening up after our Sunday worship – I noticed how stunningly beautiful the light was.

The light was streaming in through all of the windows casting rainbows all over the sanctuary. 

Everywhere I turned there was a beautiful pool of light or a rainbow.

I was dazzled by the beauty I was surrounded by.

The colors shifted and moved and changed as the sun traveled across the sky and clouds danced in the heavens.

I found myself standing in awe a few times just taking in the amazing beauty of it all. 

Soon I found myself giving thanks for the beauty that I had the honor to witness on what otherwise had seemed like a pretty ordinary Monday morning in the middle of July.

I know that these days are not easy.  We are living through days – weeks – and months that historians will write about.  Will they call it the Great Pandemic of 2020?  Or perhaps they will call it something else.

But I do know we are not going through these days – weeks – and months alone.  Our God is with us.  Our God has promised us he is with us always.

I saw God’s presence on Monday morning in dancing rainbows and shifting shadows and beams of light.  Where are you seeing God in your own lives these days?  Keep your hearts and your eyes open.  God is with you!  You are never alone.

You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

Worship for Sunday, July 19, 2020

Isaiah 44:6-8

6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel,
  and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
 I am the first and I am the last;
  besides me there is no god.
7Who is like me? Let them proclaim it,
  let them declare and set it forth before me.
 Who has announced from of old the things to come?
  Let them tell us what is yet to be.
8Do not fear, or be afraid;
  have I not told you from of old and declared it?
  You are my witnesses!
 Is there any god besides me?
  There is no other rock; I know not one.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 86:11-17

11Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
  give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
12I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
  and glorify your name forevermore.
13For great is your love toward me;
  you have delivered me from the pit of death.
14The arrogant rise up against me, O God, and a band of violent people seeks my life;
  they have not set you before their eyes.
15But you, O Lord, are gracious and full of compassion,
  slow to anger, and full of kindness and truth.
16Turn to me and have mercy on me;
  give your strength to your servant, and save the child of your handmaid.
17Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame;
  because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me. Amen.

Romans 8:12-25

12So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

  18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

24[Jesus] put before [the crowds] another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field;25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”


  36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!”

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Last winter – long before COVID-19 turned our lives upside down and inside out – I was sitting on the bleachers at one of Jack’s archery tournaments doing what I do whenever I sit still for more than 16 seconds.  Yes – that’s right – I was knitting.  As I sat there happily knitting away – another archery mom sat down next to me and started chatting.

She said to me – “I’ve noticed you before.”

To which I replied – “Yeah – it’s the yarn – right?  It’s always the yarn!  I am the crazy yarn lady at everything my poor sons and husband do.”

But – to my great surprise – she said – “Nope – it’s how Zen you seem at these things.  No matter how long they drag on for – you just don’t seem to care.  You never even look at your phone!  You are so patient.  I could never be that patient.”

Why yes – I am knitting at Mayan ruins while looking at ants. Doesn’t everyone? See how patient I look!

Once I stopped laughing hysterically – I replied – “Oh it’s definitely the yarn.  There is nothing Zen or patient about me.  If you were to take my string and pointy sticks away from me – I would start to act like a caged animal in about 60 seconds!”

I am soooo not a patient person or Zen.  (Can Lutherans even be Zen?) 

I rarely leave a room without taking my knitting with me – let alone the house.  Because I know that it is knitting that makes me bearable.  Knitting makes me patient.  Knitting helps me sit still and behave myself in waiting rooms and during meetings and at school concerts and archery tournaments. 

Honestly – I knit so that other people will let me stay in the same room with them!  I wouldn’t dream of inflicting myself on the rest of humanity without a heavy dose of yarn.  Without yarn I am twitchy – impatient and even more annoying than usual (just imagine the horrors of that)! 

There is knitting in that blue bag in my hand.

I have noticed that I am not alone in having issues with patience.  Just this week I glanced in my rearview mirror after I dared to come to a complete stop before turning right on red at a stop light.  And as I did so – my eyes beheld – a man in great psychological and physical distress.  He was flailing about in his car like he was being attacked by a swarm of bees.  Apparently – the 15 whole seconds of his life I wasted by obeying a traffic law was just a bit too much for him!  The poor man needed to get to McDonalds IMMEDIATELY!

I found that poor flailing guy hilariously funny – but honestly most of us just plain stink at waiting.  Waiting makes many of us impatient at best and complete wild animals on our bad days. 

Patience is a virtue most of us are still trying to improve.  (While I am pretty sure other folks have given up entirely!)

And that is one of the reasons why I think that these last few months have been so hard on all of us.  We have been asked over and over and over again to be patient.  To do something that is foreign and uncomfortable.  We have been asked to do something that we don’t like to do.  To do something that we don’t WANT to do!

Will is trying to be patient but it is soooo hard some days!

Slow down.  Don’t be in such a hurry.  Be cautious.  Be patient.  Stay home to save lives.  These are all messages that we have heard over and over and over again. 

We have heard them from our governor and from our mayor.  We have heard them from doctors and nurses and epidemiologists (I never thought I would use that particular word in a sermon).  I have heard them from our bishop and from the presiding bishop of the ELCA.

As parents many of us have said these words to our children when they have been impatient and frustrated with the constraints that COVID-19 have placed on their lives.  And some of you adult children may have said these very words to your impatient (and perhaps ever so slightly stubborn) parents!

But we don’t want to slow down.  We don’t want to be patient.  We don’t want to wait. 

We have waited long enough – thank you very much!  We are done waiting.  Actually most of us were done waiting in March.  We are all out of patience.  We ran out of patience a very long time ago!

We want to hug our friends.  We want to sing in church.  We want to stand close to people again!  We want to go someplace without worrying about getting sick or making someone else sick.  We want to ditch social distancing.  We are done with staying safe at home.  We are ready to burn our masks and toss our stockpiles of hand sanitizer.  We wish we had never heard of NTI!

It seems like a million years ago when we were all this wildly carefree!

We want our lives back!  It is just so hard to keep on keeping on when your patience is wearing so thin. 

When Saint Paul talks about waiting for hope with patience it seems almost laughable.  How can we do that?  Is it even humanly possible?  We feel like we are barely clinging to hope and Saint Paul thinks we can hope for things we cannot see with patience!?! 

Most days our past lives feel like a vague memory.  And we are impatient and frustrated and exhausted by our current circumstances. 

They are smiling behind those masks!

Hope can seem like a rather strange concept during days like these.  It is hard to have much hope when words like global pandemic and surge and being tossed around all of the time!

Honestly it is hard to keep on hoping for those things that we cannot see.   Let alone waiting for our hopes to come true with patience.  It is hard to keep on clinging to hope.  It is hard to remain hopeful – at all.  Especially for a bunch of people who don’t exactly excel at patience!        

But the Good News for us is that we don’t have to do this on our own.  Our God has promised us that he will strengthen us and help us and walk with us.  God will be our rock and refuge.  The Lord of Host is with us always and forever! We can do this.  Truly we can – because we do not do this alone.  Our God is with us always.  AMEN.

Taking VBS Online!!!!

So many things have been cancelled this year.  Most graduation ceremonies were cancelled this spring.  The Chicago, Boston, and New York marathons have all been cancelled.  Events like Thunder over Louisville have been cancelled too – as were most big fireworks displays over the 4th of July.  (Although some folks in my neighborhood have tried valiantly to fill in the gaps – night after night after night after night!)

Other events like the Kentucky Derby and the Oaks have been moved and adapted to fit this new COVID-19 world we are all living in.  It looks like the Indianapolis 500 will be run in August rather than over Memorial Day weekend. 

While other events have gone virtual like the Kentucky Derby Mini-Marathon and the Marathon.  Another event that is being offered virtually this year is Vacation Bible school.

Saint Stephen had to cancel our plans for Vacation Bible school this summer and so did most churches.  It just wouldn’t be wise or responsible to have in-person VBS in this COVID-19 world. 

Knowing this – the wonderful and truly talented and dedicated staff of the Kentucky-Indiana Synod of the ELCA has put together a plan for all of us to have VBS on-line together next week!

Will and I are all signed up and looking forward to it.  We know it won’t be the same without Cheryl to make us delicious cupcakes and Brenda to teach the music.  We will miss running around the yard at Saint Stephen with Paul and Jeffrey and doing crafts with Nikki.  But it still sounds like a lot of fun!  Please consider joining Will and me and lots of other folks for Compassion Camp.

The VBS materials will be emailed to the parents/grandparents/doting aunties/adoring uncles/deeply patient guardians.

A fun, lively (maybe even exciting) video presentation created by folks from across the Kentucky-Indiana Synod will premiere on YouTube Live at 6:00 pm each day Monday – Friday, July 20th – July 24th, 2020.  These videos will also be available after the premiere for families to access whenever it is most convenient for them.

Each video presentation will include a Bible story for the day, melodious music, prayer, and lots of fun!

The emailed materials will include suggestions for crafts, games, activities, and ideas for putting compassion into practice in our own lives.

To sign up: 

Register

Remembering and Reaching Out

I have many – many things that I love about being a pastor.  I love Christmas Eve worship.  I love singing “Silent Night” with you all by flickering candlelight.  Lutherans are always a good looking lot – but you all look especially lovely by candlelight.  Standing there with the deacon each year on Christmas Eve – I fall in love with being a pastor all over again.

I love that Santa and Mrs. Claus hang out at Saint Stephen!

I love Easter morning worship.  Few things are more fun than getting to proclaim – “Jesus Christ is Risen!” and to hear an entire congregation declare with joy in their hearts and smiles on their faces “He is risen indeed!”  It is all I can do not to add a “Whoop!  Whoop!” and an “Amen and a Hallelujah!” too.  But we are card carrying Lutherans so I try to contain myself – but I just know some year – it is going to slip out.  Consider yourselves warned!

I love baptisms.  It is such an incredible honor to be able to be the first human being to welcome another child of God into the Christian family.  I keep a list of all of the folks I have baptized as a reminder of all of the people I have been able to welcome into the family over the years.  Confirmations are awfully cool too!

I can’t say that I love funerals – but it is an incredible honor to be able to share in this part of people’s lives too.  I love hearing the stories that families tell about their loved ones.  I love just being able to listen and to learn and to be a part of this sacred time.  

I really and truly do love Sunday school.  In many ways Sunday school is the highlight of my work week.  I know that I give Pat Markley and Steve Sarson a hard time sometimes (those two can and do ask some seriously tough questions) – but I love – love – love hanging out with people who like to think about the Bible and God and faith almost as much as I do.  As my Will says – those two “think BIG thinks!”

I love – love – love the chaos and noise and joy and fun of vacation Bible school.

I particularly love the relationships that we form over time.  The way that we grow together as God’s people as we share in each other’s lives is such a wonderful blessing.  These relationships grow as we worship together – as we work together – as we share cups of coffee in the fellowship hall – as we chat in the narthex and the parking lot and the church kitchen.  These relationships have been a blessing and a source of comfort and strength for many in our Christian community.

So many of the folks who have worshipped at Saint Stephen over the years are not able to join us right now for in-person worship.  Since we have resumed in-person worship at Saint Stephen our worship attendance on Sunday mornings has been in the 30s.  (I am not complaining or judging or condemning.)  I know that COVID-19 means that many of us are staying home on Sundays to protect ourselves and our beloved family members.  I would never want anyone to come to worship who wasn’t ready.  More than anything I want all of you to be safe and healthy! 

Elvis hangs out in our church kitchen!

But during this time of social distancing and isolation – I do want to encourage you to remember one another.  To remember the importance of our Christian community.  To remember your sisters and brothers in Christ.

I want to encourage you to remember one another in prayer.  Pray for each other.  Please also pray for Saint Stephen and our church council.  These are not easy times to be leading the church!  Prayer is truly powerful.

I also want to encourage you to reach out to each other.  Stay in touch with your sisters and brothers in Christ.

We have had to cancel so many things that we normally delight in doing like coffee hour and passing the peace and Vacation Bible School and hanging out in the narthex and social gatherings.  It feels like we have canceled the fun – but we can still nurture our relationships with one another.  It will just take more thought and a little more effort on our parts.

How about giving the family who always sat in the pew in front of you during worship a call to see how they are doing these days?  Check in and see how the grandchildren of the couple who sat behind you are doing.  How about checking in with the students from your Sunday school class or with the folks who you drink coffee with during coffee hour?  Or what about checking in with someone from the church prayer list?  Or how about picking someone whose last name begins with your favorite letter in the alphabet?  

Send a quick text message if you don’t want to go all old-school and actually talk into your telephone.  Send a postcard or a note via the US Postal Service.  I see the mail person in our neighborhood 6 days a week so I know that they are still hard at work.  Email is a wonderful way of checking in too.  Email is old school – but not too old school!

These are hard times for so many of us.  These days of staying home to stay safe mean that we are missing our friends and our church family.  

As the pastor of Saint Stephen I do chat with folks from our Christian community every week.  I check in.  I make phone calls and send emails and texts – but there simply aren’t enough hours in the day or the week for me to check in with everyone.  But we all can reach out to one another.  We all can pray for each other.  We all can make a phone call or two or three.  Or send a text or email or note in the mail once or twice a week.  

Even in the middle of a pandemic we can care for one another and support one another and share our love and God’s love.

You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

PS – William just wandered in while I was taking pictures. Will looked at all of the pictures and sighed a very grown-up sounding sigh and said – “Boy – I sure do miss church and all of our church people.” Amen little fella – Amen!

Just Hanging Out with my Guys!

I am always on the look out for new places to take a hike or to go for a walk during my daily travels.  (And yes – I do know that you can technically go for a walk almost anyplace!)  But when I go for a hike I don’t want to walk just any old place.  I want green and trees and a lot of both if at all possible.  If some wildflowers or hills or a river can be added in as a bonus or three then I am absolutely thrilled.

Since Jack became a hardworking employee of the Louisville Zoo – I have been admiring Joe Creason Park at least 5 or 6 times a week.  It is beautiful even as you drive by.  I am sure that all of you native Lousivillians knew all about Joe Creason Park.  After all – it has been here right in the middle of Louisville since 1966.  But I hadn’t spent much time in this part of our fair city except for trips to the zoo with the McFarland men or for trips to Audubon Hospital to visit Lutherans I love and care about until about 3 weeks ago. 

On Saturday morning after we dropped Jack off at work – Jason, Will, and I decided to go on an adventure and to explore Joe Creason Park.

It was a perfect July morning.  The sun was shining.  It wasn’t blistering hot yet.  (I don’t mind the heat – thanks to my thyroid disorder/disease – but the rest of the family thinks that temperatures in the high 90’s can get toasty.  It is so strange how none of them need a cardigan when it is a chilly 80 degrees outside. . .) 

The park was busy – but we were able to socially distance safely.  We enjoyed ourselves and all of the green and the trees.

And then as we rounded a corner in the trail we spotted pure McFarland boy joy.  There right beside the trail was the most amazing climbing tree! 

It was absolutely – positively magnificent!!!  Will was in love.  Truly – it was love at first sight.  He climbed. 

He explored. 

Will was brave and daring. 

Jason and I stood nearby and admired our little guy’s climbing skills and his adventurous spirit. 

We delighted in listening to Will’s chatter as he explored the tree.  Our sweet little 7 year old is quite the talker! (He gets that from his dad . . . but I am sure all of you who know our family knew that already.)

As Will climbed and explored – I took in just how beautiful the tree was.  The brilliant green of the leaves in the July sunlight.  The sweep of the branches.  And the bark.  Have you ever taken the time to look at the bark on a tree or two or eighty-three?  I mean really look at it?  I will admit that being a nature nerd – I have contemplated the beauty of bark. (Yes – I claim my nature nerdiness proudly!)  And this tree had particularly beautiful bark.  It was simply gorgeous.  And it felt so very interesting as I ran my fingers lightly over it (again with the nature nerdiness). 

If you want to be dazzled by our God’s creative spirit check out bark on trees sometime.  The patterns are amazing and beautiful and so creative.  And we almost never even notice it!

Finally – after climbing and exploring for about 300 years – Will was ready to finish our walk in the park.  But the minute his feet terra firma – Will declared – “we have to show Jack this tree! Jack will LOVE it!!!”  And – of course – Will was right – we did indeed need to share our discovery with Jack.

So we were back at the climbing tree in Joe Creason Park Saturday evening almost as soon as Jack finished his shift at the zoo.  And Jack did indeed love the climbing tree too! 

Even after a long day of working in the hot July sun – Jack climbed and explored and climbed some more.

Jack and Will climbed and Jason and I walked.  It was a perfectly perfect arrangement.

Jason and I would walk a loop and check in. We would make sure that everyone was still unbroken and happy. 

These sons of ours are a daring pair!

The McFarland sons would declare that they were having a blast and needed more climbing time.

Why yes – he is showing off how strong he is by holding on with one hand to wave for the camera! Oh – to be 16 and perfectly – youthful again!!!!

So Jason and I would walk some more and they would climb some more.

We repeated this interaction multiple times.

It was simply a match made in heaven!  By the time I checked my pedometer at the end of Saturday I had clocked almost 20,000 steps and our whole family had been blessed by the glorious – amazing – awesome beauty of our Lord’s creation.

Where are you experiencing God’s presence in your own lives these days?  Are you able to take a moment or two or ten to seek God’s presence? 

These are truly strange – trying times – but our Lord has promised us that he is with us each step of the way.  You are not alone.  The God who created the heavens and the Earth walks with you!

You are all in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

Worship for Sunday, July 12, 2020

Isaiah 55:10-13

10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
  and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
 making it bring forth and sprout,
  giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
  it shall not return to me empty,
 but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
  and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12For you shall go out in joy,
  and be led back in peace;
 the mountains and the hills before you
  shall burst into song,
  and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
  instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
 and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
  for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 65:[1-8] 9-13

1You are to be praised, O God, in Zion;
  to you shall vows be fulfilled.
2To you, the one who answers prayer,
  to you all flesh shall come.
3Our sins are stronger than we are,
  but you blot out our transgressions.
4Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there!
  They will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple. R
5Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation,
  O hope of all the ends of the earth and of the oceans far away.
6You make firm the mountains by your power;
  you are girded about with might.
7You still the roaring of the seas,
  the roaring of their waves, and the clamor of the peoples.
8Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs;
  you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy.
  9You visit the earth and water it abundantly; you make it very plenteous; the river of God is full of water.
  You prepare the grain, for so you provide for the earth.
10You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges;
  with heavy rain you soften the ground and bless its increase.
11You crown the year with your goodness,
  and your paths overflow with plenty.
12May the fields of the wilderness be rich for grazing,
  and the hills be clothed with joy.
13May the meadows cover themselves with flocks, and the valleys cloak themselves with grain; let them shout for joy and sing. Amen.

Romans 8:1-11

1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


  9But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

The Word of the Lord.

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

1That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”

  18“Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

The Gospel of our Lord.

My very favorite gardener preparing our garden for planting.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

These days lots of folks are making do with less.   The current unemployment rate in our country is an absolutely – positively staggering 11.1% after dropping from a truly painful high of 14.7% this spring.  (And we all thought that the unemployment rate during the Great Recession was bad . . . But that peaked at 10%.)

And those aren’t just numbers and statistics.  Those numbers are our friends and our neighbors.  They are our beloved family members and well – they are us!  That 11.1% unemployment rate is made up of honest to goodness human beings who are really worried people.  Of people with bills to pay and families to feed and dreams for the future.

And we are all so worried.  Even those of us who still have jobs are worried.  We wonder and worry how long we will be able to keep our jobs in this COVID-19 world.  We wonder if we will be furloughed too.  Or if we will be asked to take a pay cut to keep our jobs? 

So we tighten our belts.  We conserve.  We save wherever we are able.  We are frugal and cautious.  We carefully refrain from excess.  Bare bones budgets – and cutbacks are the part of our COVID-19 reality.

Being thrifty – frugal – and cautious comes pretty naturally to some of us.  I tend to be pretty frugal.  And Jason – well let’s just say Jason makes me look like a wild woman with money.  The family joke is that on the rare occasions Jason does open his wallet – moths fly out!

I took Jack shopping last week and spent a whopping $39.  (I know – wild stuff – right?)  I had also been to Sam’s that morning to buy groceries.  Apparently this behavior was so extraordinary that our credit card company sent Jason an alert to let him know that an unauthorized person might be using our credit card!  They were concerned about fraud over 2 whole charges in one day . . . Yes – we are that cheap! 

But – that sort of thinking – has absolutely – positively nothing to do with our Gospel reading for this week.  Today’s Gospel is all about extravagance and excess.  And being completely and utterly over the top.

This week Jesus tells us a story about a farmer who goes out to sow seed in his fields.  This farmer clearly loves his job – because he really throws himself into it.  He is exuberant.  He is passionate.  He is excessive.  He is wildly and wonderfully in love with farming.  Farming isn’t his job.  Farming is his CALLING. 

My favorite picture of Will helping with the garden when he was 2!

This farmer sows seed like a mischievous toddler throws Cheerios.  The seed goes everywhere!  Left – right.  Up – down.  All over the place.  He tosses the seed in every direction.  The seeds land – here – there – and everywhere in between!

Surely this farmer knows the difference between a road and a field.  Certainly – he can see the difference between rocky ground and cleared soil? 

But he simply doesn’t care.  He hurls the seed everywhere.  Letting it fall all over the place.  Only about 25% the seeds fall onto the field. The rest of the seeds land on the road – or on the rocks – or in the weeds.  But that doesn’t slow this farmer down, he just keeps up his wild sowing. 

Some Bible scholars say this was the way farmers sowed seeds back then.  But I think this sower is extraordinary.  There is something unique about his style.  His style is just way – way too over the top to have been a standard farming practice of his time!

After all – people in Jesus’ day had to be very careful with their seeds.  Because they couldn’t just pop over to the garden center if they ran out of seeds.  Or to Kroger if their crops failed to grow.  Seeds were precious.  And could mean the difference between life and death.

And yet – this farmer sows seeds with wild abandon.  He is extravagant – and excessive.  This farmer is completely and utterly over the top!  And you just know – that this farmer ALWAYS sows seed this way. This is his style.  He always has and always will be a passionate, exuberant sower of seeds.  

We grow A LOT of peppers at our house!

This farmer is unique.  This farmer is one of a kind.  This farmer is God.

In our Gospel reading for today – Jesus is telling us our God is extravagant and generous and completely over the top.

We see this extravagance all around us every single day.  Think of the world God created.  Think of the variety and abundance in the world. 

Our first ripe tomatoes of 2020.

Was it really necessary for God to create 38 dolphin species and over 13,000 kinds of flatworms? 

Did we really need over 10,000 species of birds? 

Or how about 12,000 ant species and 44,000 species of spiders! Talk about extravagant. 

Every single person in the entire world has unique fingerprints.  Even identical twins have different fingerprints!

Every kind of tree has its own unique leaf shape.  Why?  Why not just one basic pattern?  It seems so over the top. 

But that is our God.  Our God is extravagant, and over the top. 

Time and time again – throughout the Bible we read that God is wildly and extravagantly generous to his people.  God doesn’t hold back.  God gives his love and offers his forgiveness generously.

Adam and Eve sinned and turn their backs on God – but God loved them anyway.

God’s Chosen People worshipped a golden calf – but God still loved them.

Matthew was a thief – but God loved him in spite of his actions.

Judas betrayed Jesus’ – but God didn’t stop loving him.

Paul held the coats of the people who killed Stephen – but God loved him anyway.

These folks didn’t deserve God’s grace – love – and mercy.  But God gave it to them anyway.  Because our God loves generously and forgives freely.

And God has continued to be wildly extravagant with his love, grace, and mercy.  Because God showers each of us with his love – grace – and mercy even though we are a bunch of broken sinners too.

This parable is about how much God loves each of you.  This parable reminds you that God loves you with a love that is far beyond what you could ever deserve.  God loves you with a truly amazing, extravagant love.  God’s love for you is truly merciful. 

None of us could ever deserve God’s love and forgiveness.  But God is not frugal when he spreads his love and grace around.   

Our generous God calls us to follow his lead.  He calls us to be generous.  God calls us to be extravagant.  

We are called to spread God’s love and our love generously and with wild abandon.  Because the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy are just too good to keep to ourselves and we are called to share them with EVERYONE – even people we might not think of as “good soil.” 

We can be generous and extravagant with other people because God has been generous and gracious and extravagantly merciful to us.  Truly this is Good News – AMEN.

Marveling at God’s Creation

I love so very – very many things about being a parent.  One of the things that I particularly love about being a mom is all of the wonderful things that Jack and Will teach me.  Just by knowing and loving these two nifty human beings I have learned to appreciate so many things that I never did before. 

Thanks to Will I see the beauty of trains.  Until Will developed his passion for trains – trains were just an annoyance to me.  I didn’t see trains as awesome or cool.  I most certainly did not see trains as a reason to get excited.  Rather – I saw trains as something to be avoided.  Now I keep my eyes open for trains and get surprisingly excited when I see a train gliding down the rails.  I smile and point and exclaim and ooohh and aaahh.  Seeing a train brightens my day thanks to Will.

Thanks to Jack I am always on the look out for things that have the potential to be climbed.  Jack loves to climb.  I – on the other hand – am afraid (terrified) of heights!  When we are hiking – Jason and I take note of good climbing trees, because we know our boy and his passion for climbing.   Jack is drawn to climbing like I am drawn to yarn and knitting.  Climbing is simply an essential part of his being. 

Let no tree go unclimbed!

When we were in TN the last time Jack climbed a tree for his Papa and did a spot of tree trimming!  Yes – that’s right – my beloved – cherished – precious son climbed a tall tree on a mountain with a handsaw and trimmed a tree to improve the mountain view from his grandparents’ deck!!!  Even Jason (who has a much higher tolerance for Jack’s climbing) was less than pleased about that one.  I know this, because Jason actually rolled his eyes and sighed deeply (two things Jason only does when his family is pushing him to the very limit of his patience).

Another thing that the McFarland men have taught me is “zoo appreciation.”  I was never much of a zoo person until I started hanging out with Jack and Will.  I just didn’t see the appeal of zoos – but thanks to these two I can see the appeal. 

My appreciation for zoos has only grown further this summer, because Jack is officially an employee of the Louisville Zoo.  Now we are getting behind the scenes information about zoo life.  Now I get to hear recordings of the tigers roaring that Jack made himself.  I get to hear about cool things that the animals do.  Like – Amber the Orangutan is nosy and wants to know what people have in their pockets.  It seems that Amber is endlessly entertained by what we human beings carry around with us.  I hope that I get to show her my knitting later this summer!

One of the particularly wonderful perks of being a zoo employee is that Jack can take a guest into the zoo with him – even with all of the COVID-19 restrictions.  So – this week Jack took Will to the zoo for an adventure while I sat in the car and worked (one of the perks of motherhood – I suppose)!  They had a wonderful time “brother-bonding.” They returned a few hours later with all sorts of tales of their adventures together. 

And I must say – they had many – many God Sightings during their morning at the Louisville Zoo!

Jack and Will thought that you might like to join them on a quick tour of some of the highlights of their morning at the Louisville Zoo.

First up were the penguins.  They are called Little Penguins – because even the full-grown adult penguins are pretty little guys.

This is one of the Louisville Zoo’s Giant Tortoises.  Giant tortoises are among the world’s longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years or more.

This striped fellow is a tapir.  Tapir’s are herbivores which Will tells me means that they don’t like cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets. 

Meet one of the Louisville Zoo’s tigers.  Jack tells me that the tigers tend to be very talkative.  He has heard it “meow” like a house cat – only much – much more loudly!  When the tigers roar – you can hear them all over the zoo grounds.  One of the tigers at the zoo is missing an eye.  Just today Jack spent most of his work shift hanging out with him.

This is a Canadian Lynx.

This is a Puma.  Did you know that there are 200 different names for these giant cats?  They are also called deer tigers, catamounts, and painters. (I won’t list all of the other names!)

I love her pink blankie!

This is Sunny the Two-toed Sloth.  Her companion is named Sebastian. 

This is a Snowy Owl.  It looks like it is straight out of Harry Potter doesn’t it?

Isn’t this Snow Leopard stunning?

This is one of the zoo’s gorilla’s.  Apparently – he wasn’t in the mood to talk to Will and Jack!

It seems the polar bear wasn’t either!

Meet one of the zoo’s Pygmy Hippos.  Both Jack and Will were awfully jealous of his nice cool looking swimming pool.  It was very hot on their morning at the zoo.

This is a meercat.

Meet Fritz the Louisville Zoo’s baby African Elephant. 

Will was very impressed that anything this BIG could be a baby!?!  Actually I am too for that matter.

This horned fellow is an Addax Antelope. It is also just a baby.

And these are Bongos (not the drums). 

Clearly our God loves to create!  The variety of God’s creation is truly magnificent and dazzling!

Thanks for joining us.

Jack, Will, and Pastor Kerri

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host!


Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!


Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created.
He established them for ever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.


Praise the Lord from the earth,
   you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
   stormy wind fulfilling his command!


Mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
   creeping things and flying birds!


Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
   old and young together!


Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
   praise for all his faithful,
   for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!