Random Musings, Volume 3 | Week of December 5-11, 2021

We had single digit weather over the weekend. Sonja had an early morning errand to run on Monday morning. When she got back the construction crew that is working on a neighbor’s renovation project across the street were on the job site getting set up for the day. Sonja said, “It’s mighty cold to be working outside today, isn’t it?” The guy she spoke to said, “Ah, it’s not that bad.” It was 5 degrees! Very little stops progress in wonderful North Dakota.

Sonja and I traveled to Billings and Big Timber this weekend – our first winter weather. The roads were pretty dicey going and coming back to Bismarck. Especially the mountain pass between Billings and Big Timber (Truck drivers were especially having a tough go of it. Several ugly-looking wreaks along the way.) I was really thankful for the the amazing gift of the new Regional Tahoe that the Church of God in SC gave to us! We dropped it in four-wheel drive and got through it all like a charm.

Speaking of Billings, our pastor there Pastor Mike/Danette Dana are doing well (we met them for dinner Saturday night). They were planning on receiving a new family into the church as members the following morning. Great news. Go get ’em Team Dana.

By the way, Danette Dana is an outstanding artist. You can see (and purchase) her works on Etsy. Go to etsy.com and type in ddartworkstudio in search.

We have one of her paintings hanging in a place of honor in our home. Sonja commissioned a picture. (See below)

And then on to Big Timber Sunday morning. It was good to see our special friends there. I took a pastoral preference vote and Tony/Kandy Schmidt received a 100% vote of confidence. Talk about a win/win! I believe Team Schmidt is going to do a fabulous job at Big Timber. Can’t wait. First official day on the job–January 1, 2022.

Special thanks to Kathy Countryman for being a “Deborah” during this interim period. Job well done, Pastor Kathy!

Robert “Bob” Joseph Dole died on Sunday at age 98. A WWII veteran and politician (Kansas House of Representatives in 1950, Senator 1968-1996). A good and decent man; a reminder that the word “politician” does not have to be a term of derision.

Here’s a little story about Senator Dole that I got from the December 6th edition of The Morning Dispatch (thanks for the subscription Lee!)…

Nelson Warfield—press secretary for Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign—remembered his old boss’ propensity for going off script in a piece for the New York Times yesterday. “While many politicians show themselves to be cynical, cruel or inauthentic in those off-script moments, Mr. Dole instead revealed a rare empathy. For example, in 1996, Gov. Pete Wilson of California, a Republican, had won re-election two years prior with a tough law-and-order message, so we organized a trip to a jail in Los Angeles, with Mr. Wilson in tow, for a tour and a news conference. It was a perfectly staged opportunity for Mr. Dole to say something bashing the miserable offenders he had just seen in the lockup. Instead, his first comment was to wonder aloud whether some of the men in those cells had ever been touched by the hand of someone who loved them. Nobody had written that note of humanity for Mr. Dole. I’m not sure it was even picked up by the press. But it sprang from a compassion that he found hard to switch off for political purposes.”

She’s as crazy as a racoon on crack.” That was a new expression I heard this week. But I’m certain I’ve met this lady (and her husband).

Loreena McKennitt’s Christmas album, A Midwinter Night’s Dream is outstanding. Sonja and I listened to it one evening sitting in our living room with the only light being our Christmas tree lights and candles. It was about as perfect an evening as you can have on earth.

I was deeply, deeply, deeply sadden to learn this week that a dear friend, Jayveta Buchanan, passed away this passed Saturday. Dennis & Jayveta served many years as pastors. I was privileged to serve as their pastor when they retired. Jayveta was a short lady. The running joke we had was “Jayveta, please stand…oh…you are standing!” She is standing tall now. Dennis, Sonja and I love you and send our deepest condolences.

(In memory of Dennis/Jayveta Buchanan – married 52+ years) “They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” _F. Scott Fitzgerald


Remember I encouraged you to not panic and sell out of the Stock Market last week? The S&P 500 hit an all-time high this week. Just saying…

Eagles Wings Community Fellowship (Minot, ND) completed their Buy a Tree | Change a Life mission project this week. They raised 30 thousand for charity! 15k goes to People for Care and Learning (Southeast Asia) and 15k to Minot Youth for Christ. Way to go Pastor Travis and Eagles Wings–you’re amazing and awesome!!!

A few standout quotes:

  • “Don’t be fooled by the apparent innocence of the object you’ve chosen.  What is its function?  Most of our idols have a perfectly legitimate place in our lives.  That’s their cover.  That’s how we get away with our infidelity.”” _John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers
  • “The secret of praying is praying in secret. A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning.” _Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries
  • “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.” _Groucho Marx
  • “When talking about charisma, it all boils down to this: the person without charisma walks into a room and says, ‘Here I am.’  The person with charisma walks into a room and says, ‘There you are.’” _John Maxwell, Winning with People

Book recommendation for the week: I finished Stanley Horton’s Systematic Theology: Revised Edition (finally!) It was worth reading but not worth recommending. Instead, I recommend (only for the very strong) Frederick Buechner’s book: Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons. It will make you mad, glad, sad…occasionally inspired, and above it will challenge your thinking and help you grow.

That does it for this week. Here’s hoping you have a great weekend and a standup new week. Go get ’em!

This photo of the picture hanging in our home taken with my phone doesn’t do Danette Dana credit but it gives you an idea of her talent. Sonja wanted her to capture a Dakota/MT landscape with special attention on the beautiful fields of sunflowers–she nailed it! (Can you imagine painting all those sunflowers?!)

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