Category Archives: church life

Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau

It has been along time since I read through the Bible. I’m finding that I’ve forgotten many details of some of the stories.  As I studied Genesis 32 and 33, I felt genuine suspense at Jacob’s return to Abraham’s land.  I sensed the anxiousness of Jacob, who was committed to follow God’s command to return, but terrified that his brother would still seek to kill him and his family.  I was impressed with his wisdom to divide up the family so that half could live should things get ugly.  Also with his wisdom and humility to send flocks ahead of him as a gift, and have his servants state that Jacob would be the servant of Esau.  What would happen?  I ran out of time yesterday in my study.  It was just like a cliff-hanger for me.

Today I was deeply touched by the continuation of the story.  How touching kindness and love Esau showed to his brother to run and greet him.  How gracious were the words of Jacob to his brother.   Time heals many things.  Efforts to be kind and humble, gifts of recognition, and words of healing make a big difference.  It helps when both sides seek to repair the relationship.

The study lesson also pointed to a video about two real life brothers, who had a destructive relationship.  I wept as I watched this video and saw how things changed.   I learned that we don’t always know what is under the surface and why people are unkind.  Sometimes it’s deeper.  I learned that making and effort, even when a relationship is deeply damaged can sometimes make the difference. Applying the love of Christ to the relationship makes all the difference in the world.

My recommended inspiring video of the day:  Two Brothers Apart (at LDS Youth; 6 minutes long)

Critter graphics for flyer

Scripture chase; a cheetah is chasing scriptures that are running away

Scripture chase

We needed graphics for a flyer, and I just couldn’t find anything that matched what was in my head. Nowhere on the web could I find “scripture chase”, or a rhino wearing a tie. So I sketched some up. (Contact me about reuse permission.)

Rhino in a tie

Rhino dressed properly in a tie

Lion and zebra shaking hands; enemies are now friends

Lion and zebra shaking hands

Wonderous Nativities

Crystal nativity

Crystal nativity on display at Wonder of the Nativity.

Had a great evening and good turnout at Wonder of the Nativity, despite the 3 inches of snow. What a fantastic job the volunteers did setting up the nativities this year. The music was wonderful! There’s still one more night.
Nativity

One of 225 nativities artistically displayed.


Nativity

Another artistically displayed nativity


Nativity

Nativities of all types, celebrating Christ and Christmas

More images on Facebook.

Appreciation for faithful mothers alone at church with children

A young child takes the sacrament
I observed today a young mother at church. She was a managing solo an infant and two other small children. (I don’t know if the father was sick, working, on the stand, or otherwise absent). She juggled the three children and their needs masterfully. At one point the infant was fussy, and she stood to quiet the child, quietly moving behind the bench and monitoring the other two children, guiding them as they took the sacrament. I was impressed and humbled.

Many of us are lucky enough just to be responsible for our own attendance and worship at church. We have only to get ourselves up, ready, and there on time. We get to decide our own purposes for worship and our own behaviors to do so. We decide if we will listen during the meetings.

No such luxuries for a young mother bringing alone several small children. She must plan her time and prepare herself and several other small bodies – who, by the way, also have their own thoughts and attitudes about the matter. Wake, feed, dress, console, herd, load, placate, unload, manage, corral, coax, hug, nuture, and lead. Her experience at the meeting is at best fragmented from the constant needs and interruptions.

What fortitude and perseverance. It would be too easy to make excuses and stay home, rationalizing by saying, “It’s too much trouble”, “I don’t get much from it”, “Why bother”, or “I can’t deal with it.”

Yet, what infinite value to the children that loving mother provides when she sacrifices to bring them to church. They learn from an early age how to prepare, attend and worship. They receive personal coaching from a caring mother. I believe children see and understand a mother’s faith through such actions, even though they may not be able to verbalize it. I believe they somehow understand such devotion, even when they don’t know what it is or how it is blessing them.

How grateful I am for my good wife who corralled, brought our five children to church and sat with them alone during nine years of the years I served in leadership. How grateful I am for my mother who sat with us during the many years dad served in leadership. (I was certainly a most vexing child who teased and poked my younger siblings to tears on many occasions.) These two women and all those who sit alone with children at church have my deepest respect.

Lighting a sign with no source of electricity…

I preside (advise) on a church committee to host our annual Nativities Display.   We have a great sign in a great location near the road, but it’s fairly useless after dark because it has no light.  In Minnesota at this time of year, dark starts at 4:30pm and continues until 7:30am the next morning.   That means most people who work during the day never see it.  It needed light!

The problem was, how to light a sign without a source of electricity nearby?  A 200-foot extension cord would be possible, but it would have to be strung across the parking lot!

image of the Nativity Displays sign.

Just 7 watts of an LED on a marine battery provides plenty of light for our sign

The solution was landscaping lighting, a marine battery, and a chain.  We found 12 volt low voltage LED floodlights that only drew 7 watts.  They provide a warm and surprisingly bright spot.   We hooked two of them to an Energizer deep cycle marine battery, which looks like a car battery, but is made to discharge for long periods without recharge.  The battery has 115 amp hours, so 7 watts x 2 will easily run for 6 hours of the dark Minnesota evening.   Set it up each evening at 4:30, take it down at 10pm, then put it on the charger for the next day.   A chain bolted to a battery box keeps it anchored to the sign.   $150 of materials is much cheaper than laying an electric cable for this very seasonal use.

Now everyone can see the sign for the event.   (Thanks to my friend Brent Spencer for advice and help on solving this puzzle.)