I am totally amazed by the 2 year old. Her energy. Her love of learning. The way she tries to imitate everything we say. Just last week she picked up the phrase “Oh, crap” from her dad and then said it over and over the rest of the afternoon. Woops. She is just a sponge these days.

A while back, an older lady was telling me about her granddaughter who has a young child as well. She said something to the affect of “My granddaughter is always telling me about how funny and smart her son is. I just don’t have the heart to tell her that all kids do those things.”And I suppose she is right. I suppose she could have been hinting that she’d heard enough about how amazing my own kid is. And she is right that most kids on planet earth go through roughly the same developmental phases as any other.
But really, my girl is pretty great. I have been to the community Vacation Bible School in Grundy Center with Raya each night this week. She talks about “B-B-Ess” (VBS) throughout the day and spontaneously breaks into dancing whenever the topic comes up.  It is the place to be in town this week. Fun music, great volunteers, tons of energy and excitement. And Raya is eating it up. The girl absolutely loves to dance. I guess my point is that I don’t really care that all kids do this stuff. I’m pretty sure my kid is the cutest one. Here is some footage to prove it!


This is my story, This is my song

Last year we had a hymn sing at our church. We gave our projection technology the night off and sang old-school style from the gray Psalter hymnal. Four-part harmonies rang out from people of all ages, and we sang as many of our favorites as we could squeeze into the evening. It was so much fun, we decided to do it again.

If you live close to Grundy Center, mark your calendars for Sunday night, September 15 at 7pm!

The theme for this year’s hymn sing is “This is my story, This is my song.” I want to hear from you… Let’s have our own virtual hymn sing right here. Here’s your chance to get your request in early:

What is your favorite hymn or worship song and why? 
Please share your stories in the comments section below, or send me a facebook message or email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Jesus Lives, and So Shall I

Text: Christian F. Gellar, Tr. by Philip Schaff
Tune: Rachel Henkle, 2013
from Hymns for the Family of God, 1976

Jesse and I got a chance to visit a woman from our congregation last week who has recently moved into an assisted living apartment. We have heard her tell her story before, but for some reason, I was especially inspired and encouraged by our visit this time. While we visited with this woman, I had the first line of this hymn running through my head: “Jesus lives, and so shall I.”

This woman’s life has been filled with tragedy and sadness. Her son took his own life when he was in his 20s after a long struggle with drugs and alcohol addiction. But she chose to live after this loss, attending AA meetings and support groups with her husband for years afterward, telling their story and offering hope to others in similar situations. She described her husband as her rock; the couple stayed supported one another through many difficult years before and after their son’s death. Several years ago, her husband died, leaving her a widow. But she clung to Jesus as her rock and chose to live, finding solace and solidarity in the community of widows in our church. Her only remaining child, a daughter, died suddenly last year. But even as she outlived her entire immediate family, she chose to live, trusting in God’s promises and leaning into the support of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. During our visit, she explained that she and her husband had a choice after their son’s death. She said, “We could be bitter, or get better. We chose to get better.” Her 90 years on earth have been marked by this choice, to live in spite of loss and tragedy. To cling to God and trust in His goodness. To love those around her. To find reasons to be thankful even when she has lost so much.

Jesus lives, and so shall I. I ran across the words of this hymn while preparing for our Easter services. I loved the words, but it came to life while we sat at the small kitchen table in the sunny apartment last week. This woman is a powerful example of a person who is living the words of this hymn: “Jesus lives – and so shall I.” The truth of Jesus’ resurrection is not just a nice idea that we learn in Sunday School. It is a reality that can completely change the way we see the struggles we face. It sets life in context with a larger, more glorious reality where Christ has defeated death and lives to be our hope and trust every single day.