Circles of Prayer

Inger Olsson’s quiet time!

The third Sunday evening of every month the parish is open for the congregants to come together to pray. Wow Hoo! It’s awesome! The focus of the one hour prayer time varies depending on the season of life the parish, our local community and our world find itself.

I’ve been reading writings from Mark Batterson on the topic of prayer and inspired by two books in particular: The Circle Maker and Praying Circles around your Children. Mark’s teachings are not profound but solid. A follower of Christ understands and has experienced many of his basic principles. His message and writing style is creative. Plus, fun and energetic. I not only can feel his energy while reading his story; but, I can visualize his examples of petitions offered up to God and rejoice with him in prayers answered. Mark is relatable. I feel that I am allowed to partner with his journey and be inspired by his example to pray without ceasing.  My response or take-away from his message is that I can be excited to chart my own prayer journey.

Mark’s main thrust is to show how to actively circle our needs with prayer–a prayer circle. He uses a model from a man from the ancient of day’s name, Honi, who literally drew a circle in the sand and stepped into that circle to pray for the need at hand. He did not remove himself from the circle until the Lord answered it. Wow! Interesting concept! And, yes, he was in the circle often for days on end. Honi believed that God wanted him to see and experience big miracles.  God was delighted with the faithfulness of Honi , as well as,  his love to be in communion with Him. Honi had more than a mustard seed of faith that was amazing. Honi’s faith did not waver! Honi was serious about expecting God to show up in big ways. And, He did!

Lately there has been excitement in the house–the Parish house–as we have corporately brought our petitions before the Lord. We draw the circle and stepped into it. Granted the hour spent together is often not enough time to see instant miracles but we believe, as did Honi.  Though our designated hour of prayer forces us to step out of the prayer circle before we see miracles; it doesn’t stop us from the expecting God to reveal Himself in answers and miracles in place of our petitions. The longing to see miracles that only God can reveal is being actualized. Each prayer time the needs represented is great and diverse. The more for the Lord to reveal of Himself, right? We are asking for miracles and expecting to witness them. Our commitment to each other allows us we to follow-up at the weekly men and women’s pray times. The sense of being of one heart, mind and soul is  a joy that fills the Lord’s temple.

I can hardly wait until we meet again in the prayer circle!

“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”, and will go places is what God’s word says. Those who wait upon the Lord will not be disappointed at the outcome of His mercies because they are new every morning (and evening).

It’s fun to be a circle maker and to be a witness to God’s miracles.

To Serve Somebody

Two years shy of 100 years old and moving at her own slow pace, Ruth Cox is as sharp as a tack. Her answers to questions asked are quick and witty. She told us about a recent conversation with her grandson. He wanted to know what she did all day. Ruth smiles and with a twinkle in her eye recalls her response. Ruth answered, “Well, I take care of an elderly old lady who needs a lot of care!”

During the recent Serve Day event sponsored by the parish, the Vicar Man and I spent part of the afternoon with her. I’d say she puts the Vicar Man and me to shame…especially noticeable while watching the Vicar Man’s heavy eyelids collapse more than once during our visit. Ugghh! Totally embarrassing! This is not a good sign for our entrance into old age…Yikes!

Ruth was delighted at the gift that we presented to her upon our arrival– a variety of yummy baked goods. The parish team baked and packaged the attractive swag bags to be given to our parish shut-ins. We thank them.

Ruth: Wife, Mother, Friend and Business Entrepreneur

Ruth and her late husband, Delbert owned and operated a well-known music store in Seattle for many years that specialized in organs and pianos. Ruth recalls that shortly before the outbreak of WWII, they had purchased a Hammond organ– to have in their home. The Hammond sound was in great demand but during this era very few of these instruments were to be found in Seattle. Delbert was often asked if they would like to rent out their personal Hammond organ for a variety of music gigs. Ruth wasn’t so sure about the idea because of the wear and tear on the instrument but Delbert convinced her that while times were tough they could use the extra money. It turned out to be a good deal and they made new friends from the venture.

Ruth: Sold Out for Jesus

Ruth is a product of Moorehead, North Dakota. This is a hop, skip and a jump from Fargo, North Dakota. Oh dear! LOL! Yes, I chuckled a little while my brain made a quick and very far-flung connection to the well-known film FARGO. Ruth lived in this area when the population was a mere 1,500 inhabitants. She understood life in an extreme rural area and the region’s severe weather patterns that created many challenges for its residents. I visualized the area as being remote and boring but when Ruth describes her upbringing it seems to be just the opposite. Full of vitality, activity and joy. It was a far cry from loneliness. She was raised in a family that seemed to have the most fun when they were connected to church people. The family attended church in Fargo. Ruth describes how she would never tire of attending prayer meetings. She could never go to enough of them and sought them out all over the town in different churches. She longed to be in the presence of the Lord and could think of no better place to spend her time. There were times when her mother would tell her that due to the late hour or weather watch she had to come home. Ruth would agonize and beg her mother to let her stay. Ruth did not want to leave the presence of the Lord that was so wonderful. As a teenager, Ruth would dash home from school to quickly finish her chores and homework in order to make it to prayer meeting on time. Depending on the day or night, this often meant enduring the horrific winter storms for possibly the fourth time in one day.

Ruth strung together one memory after another that mesmerized me and put a longing in my soul to hear more of her story. Listening to Ruth express her love for Jesus and what He means to her today encouraged my heart. Another visit was imminent! I came away from her place feeling so refreshed in my spirit. She definitely gave me more than I gave her during our visit.

The Vicar Man asked how we could pray for her. Ruth laughed and said, “Oh My! Pray for a sinner saved by grace because I do a lot of dumb things in my old age.” Ruth is not immune to still being human and admits that she must ask the Lord to forgive her for her sinfulness daily. Ruth adds, “I have lots of time to soul search. I agonize over the way the world is today.” The first thing she does when she awakes each morning she looks toward Heaven and says, “Again, Lord? You really want me here one more day?” When Ruth compares the cultural changes witnessed in her lifetime she is saddened. Ruth comments, “I pray a lot and I guess it is by God’s unmerited favor that He still has me here on this earth to pray for a lot of different needs and I do pray.” Ruth told us that she had a hard time sleeping for a while and sought medical help for the disorder. She recalls, “I thought the Dr. would just give the old lady a pill and send me on my way but instead this is what was written on his prescription slip for me: No TV after 5:00 pm….then his signature. Oh! I laughed over that one and still have his advice posted where I can see it.”

Reflecting on her desire to want to be in the presence of the Lord with other believers, I hold on to the desire the Vicar Man and I share. We long to be in a parish where the congregants are so full of the love for the Lord that the desire to experience the power of the Holy Spirit would be so strong that they would arrive early on Sundays to get a front row seat so as not miss out on what will be in store for them. God wants us to seek Him. He promises that when we seek Him we will find Him and enter into relationship with Him. Wow! Ruth encouraged the Vicar Man and me to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind because only He can renew a sinful nature.

Ruth often sang a few bars of song to us because they were continually on her lips as she shared about her life. Ruth believes that our life’s answers come as we trust in Jesus alone! Through the biblical word and song we receive encouragement and truth to help us stand firm in our walk with the Heavenly Father—no matter what age. I will never forget her face as she sang to the Vicar Man and me these words of encouragement:

Turn your eyes Upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth

Will go strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

The Vicar Man’s Discipleship School

Welcome Frederik Wessler from Hamburg, Germany!


Poor Freddy…Discipleship School with the Vicar Man does have it’s disadvantages!

The Parish Giving Day Part ll – Saturday, March 31, 2012

In a matter of one week the parish has participated in two “Giving” Day celebrations. The first event was Saturday March 24th when a wonderful group of parishioners volunteered their time to make our parish grounds beautiful. We are so proud of these people and their labor of love.

The second event took place Saturday, March 31st when a fun group of women gathered together in the newly renovated Ness Room. The women gathered to celebrate with Chelsea, a bride-to-be. Chelsea was showered with words of blessing given by Delores, Joan and Sandy.

Joan gave Chelsea a frog as a reminder that there will be times when her prince charming might turn into a frog. But when forgiveness is practiced regularly, it is amazing how quickly the frog can turn back into the prince. Sometimes it only takes that one kiss, too! The frog stage usually doesn’t last very long and it is usually for a reason, so don’t fret about it too much. The Lord just wants to remind you that forgiveness is meant to be practiced by both the prince and the princess.

In addition to the words of love and encouragement brought by these women of faith, many wonderful gift items from Chelsea and Benjamin’s wedding registry were showered upon them by the women in attendance. You should have heard the ooohhh’s and aaawwwhhh’s when Chelsea opened the group gift. It was an Oreck Vacuum cleaner. She laughed and quickly shared with us that just the day before in their pre-marital counseling, she commissioned the job of vacuuming to Benjamin. The women roared with laughter at that news!

The afternoon was delightful. I am thrilled that there is still a desire to celebrate momentous events like wedding and baby showers with the ladies of our parish. We want to be a community where the younger can teach the older women. What better way to begin than by sharing these moments of joy together. As the guests were leaving, so many of them mentioned that they were happy for the opportunity to share in Chelsea’s life and happy that we were doing showers again because it brought back such fond memories.

Bridal Shower decor in Chelsea’s favorite Beach Nautical Theme

Lots of yummy snacks

Bridesmaid, Mother of the Bride-to-be, Bride-to-be

Prince Charming vs. Frog

Hmmm! Chelsea doesn’t know as much about Benjamin as she thought…

Grandma Lidstrom’s vintage dishes to match modern fiesta ware and the touching story behind it all

Need we say more?


Ho ho ho…

Yes! Thank you so much!

The Parish Giving Day Part l – Saturday, March 24, 2012

In a matter of one week the parish has participated in two “Giving” Day celebrations. The first event was Saturday March 24th when a wonderful group of parishioners volunteered their time to make our parish grounds beautiful. We are so proud of these people and their labor of love.

The second event was this Saturday, March 31st when a fun group of women gathered together in the newly renovated Ness Room to celebrate with Chelsea, a bride-to-be. Chelsea was showered with words of blessing given by Delores Donnelly, Joan Irvin and Sandy Chinn. In addition to their words of encouragement, many wonderful gift items from Chelsea and Benjamin’s wedding registry were given by the women in attendance. (pictures to come)

Check out the love in these photographs that Brenden McElroy and I took.

I love this job!

Ahhh! The look of love for a clean pantry and floors that shine!

I hope to see a Gray color grill instead of a Black one!

I’ve got this job covered!

Break Time!

It’s cold out here!

Washing the cupboards is fun, it really is fun!

Oh Yeah! I’m workin’ hard!

Oh! But, we can get this clean! Really!?!

Wow! Look at that dirt steam away!

Sweeping! A piece of cake!

It’s a joy to serve!

You bringing the wheel barrel?

Ah! This is the life!

Lent and the Vicarswife

A few weeks ago, the Vicar Man encouraged us (the parish members) to observe the celebration of lent by giving up something in our life that pains us to do so for the lent season. The observance time period is from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday of each calendar year— a period of six weeks. How is everyone doing? I already know some of your adventures involve real sacrifices. You go people!

My progress includes that I have not only given up something that pains me but also adding something joyous to my life that thrills me. This year I have added a Zumba exercise class once a week. Yes! I do look like an uncoordinated older woman trying to keep up with the amazingly fit energetic teacher—our very own official Zumba instructor, Michelle LaFontaine. I look dumb and feel dumb but like our instructor shares weekly, “I am the instructor and I am supposed to do it right. Don’t worry if you can’t get the moves down because in time you will. And, no one is looking at you…everyone is looking at me because I am the teacher. Everyone is supposed to look at the teacher! So, get over your inhibitions and have fun!” Ummm! Hummm! Ok, right…! Well, after our pep talk I agree with our fun instructor but also believe that the activity is very good for my heart. I’m glad I am doing something good for my health. I am glad that I have added something good to my weekly activity for lent.

“Now, Michelle,  How did you do that move?”

Hey, you too can do a great activity for your heart. Come join me every Monday night at 6:30pm in our parish gymnasium for the Zumba class. The cost is $5.00 Drop-in, or $30.00 for the 10 Class Punch Card (Bring Your Towel to Wipe Your Brow & A Water Bottle). It is good for your heart and a fun exercise program! We promise that none of us students will look at you…we’re actually too busy concentrating on what we are supposed to be doing that we don’t have time to look around!

Oma, You Can’t Tell Mom

A kindred spirit, lovely Laveda Velveeta, was recently laid to rest. I miss her! I did not know her by Laveda Velveeta because it was a term of endearment among her beloved nieces–a tidbit that was shared at her Memorial. Darlene was the name I called her which was middle name. On the day Darlene was laid to rest, a memorial to celebrate her life was housed at the parish during the evening hour. A large crowd gathered to honor her life. It was a grand celebration that included many expressions of love and joy that filled the house on her behalf.

The Vicar Man and I had treasured history with Darlene that made her a kindred spirit to us. Our history that we shared with each other was often from a distance, as well as up close and personal during different stages of our lives. Kindred spirits have a special understanding or connection to each other because of their shared experiences. The Vicar Man and I found comfort in her sharing with us similar beliefs, attitudes and feelings often about parish life. Her expertise came from working in the parish office over a forty year span under seven different vicars. Yikes! She was amazing! The Vicar Man was actually number eight. He needs to be included in this calculation because Darlene and her long-time colleague (and close friend), Ann Tegman, loved to care for him as a young pastor. It was an easy venture since his office was in the parish building for some years. They helped to train him in many ways but mostly on how to have fun in the office. Profound memories! Kindred spirits are trusted souls. Darlene was the epitome of a trustworthy person. She was a true confidant, a good listener, self-assured, God-fearing and a woman of integrity.

The Vicar Man loves to participate in the memorials of our parishioners because it is an opportunity to reflect on that person’s life and celebrate the ways God used them. There is always something new that we learn about each person and that is the way it was with Darlene. She touched so many people throughout her lifetime of eighty years, especially those of her granddaughters, Heather, Anna and Sarah. She was so proud of them and, as we found out, the feeling was mutual. The girls especially trusted Oma when they would confide in her about their inner most secrets about boys. To make sure “Oma” would not spread a single word that would shock or mortify their mother, Sandra, many a secret conversation would begin with, “Oma, YOU can’t tell mom!”  I laughed upon hearing this tidbit because it is such a girl thing to do! Darlene loved secrets and kept them well. She enjoyed knowing the scoop; all her Facebook fans can attest to that. Darlene bought right into the granddaughters’ youthful phase and identified with who they were, what they thought and how they lived life.

A treasured quality I am sure they will not forget. As I listened to the girls share their insights and treasured moments, I could visualize Darlene’s big smile, hear her little chuckle and imagine her verbal assurance that not a peep would be uttered. It made me hopeful that I too could be like her to my grandchildren one day. She was an awesome mentor and role model for her own family. The girls’ transparency helped me to visualize just how special that was.

Her granddaughter, Anna, told us of a moment she had with Darlene in the hospital, just before her passing. The two of them were alone and communicated together as best they could under the circumstances. In a peaceful moment of silence, the song I’ll Fly Away sung by Johnny Cash came on the radio. His voice and instrumentation filled the silent room. Anna was inspired at the appropriate timing and message as they basked in the moment. It was so peaceful and sacred. It was not long until Darlene’s soul did fly away to meet Jesus.

As she thought about her Oma’s memorial Anna wanted to sing the song I’ll Fly Away in honor of those last few hours she spent with Darlene. After sharing this story at the memorial, Anna picked up to her guitar and while she was adjusting the microphone she mentioned, “Well, Opa actually told me that Oma really didn’t like this song.” Everyone laughed!  She added, “I am going to sing it anyway because of the message. I want to honor of her life of knowing Jesus and the hope that she had to live with him forever. So, Oma, I hope you don’t mind.” The moment she took her first strum on the guitar and opened her mouth to sing, tears seeped out of the corners of my eyes and began to slowly roll down my cheeks. Anna took her time to share the song in humble reverence and with deep conviction. On the last chorus she invited those in attendance to sing along with her. The moment was precious and awesome. It was like listening to angels singing during a big choir practice. It was beautiful—and, ever so peaceful, so reverent, so loving. I was definitely transported for a few short minutes into the presence of the Lord.

As one memory after another was shared, a window was opened into the scope of Darlene’s influence while she was here on earth. The Vicar Man shared a message from Proverbs 31 and it was exactly what Pete, her husband, envisioned to be shared from God’s word. If anyone embodies the Proverbs 31 woman Darlene certainly does. I will miss lovely Laveda Darlene Velveeta! But, I know I will see her again when I am ready to Fly Away.

To hear Anna share her song in honor of Oma taken from the memorial, click on this link:

Feel free to visit the link to caring bridge and reflect on some of the journal entries about Darlene and her life. It’s a good reminder to us that life is short but what we do with what God has given us matters to

Visit Anna singing  on YouTube along with a slideshow tribute to Darlene:

The Talk of the Parish

The Financial Peace University (FPU) course from Dave Ramsey that is offered at the Parish on Wednesday evenings is proving productive beyond expectation. It’s more than a group of 28 members who choose to work toward being fiscally prudent. Just this past week we have seen the Parish be a wholesome ground for pursuing ones dream. The goal to be debt free continues to be a focus; but, on the back end one of the results to becoming debt free is that one has more time, and energy as well as desire to give—back to the community, philanthropy, missions, and to others in need.

A couple of weeks ago the twin brothers, Victor and Angelo Ongpin, FPU course members, happened to be invited to come early to  class and partake in the community dinner offered at the Parish on Wednesday nights from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. They thought that was a great idea to be able to grab a bite to eat before class, inexpensively, and support the Parish. They ate with other FPU colleagues and naturally enjoyed engaging in interesting table talk. One of the topics they discussed was the meal and then branched out to what food they enjoy.  The consensus was they are choosing to eat more healthy foods. Victor aspires to own a business in the food/restaurant industry which would include running a food service truck. Victor is well schooled in the field and hobbies as a chef. The brothers introduced themselves to Gerry Goit, the Parish Fast Lane Community Diner manager and upon hearing their story he immediately invited them to join the cooking team. They accepted the invitation and appreciated the offer to participate.

The following Tuesday evening (late) Victor receives a call from Gerry asking if there would be any way he and Angelo would be interested in stepping in at the last minute to cover for another cook for the next day. Yikes! A quick answer is required. Victor agrees. He immediately calls Angelo to ask if he can help. Angelo says, “Yes, of course and I can do all the shopping on my lunch hour the following day (Wednesday).”

The twins rose early that next day (Wednesday) and went to their full time day jobs. After a full day of work, Victor, Angelo, Gerry and Brenden McElvoy were found scurrying around in the Parish kitchen preparing the meal that would need to be served within a two hour time period. Whhooosh! They were working hard and loving it! Fortunately, the twins had Gerry and Brenden coming in early to prep the kitchen for cooking. How do I know this fact? I was in charge of diner set up that evening and observed their joy of serving. It was perfect teamwork! They were having fun too!

Another surprise for me was that I also had the privilege of working while listening to the Parish’s Driven worship band as they practiced. Yes! Driven has changed their meeting venue from the big auditorium up stairs to the multi-purpose room (alias the gym) down stairs. They set up the area using their new curtain and pole partitions to section off a large are for Driven and a large area for the Parish Fast Land Community Diner. It was awesome! A fresh look and a fresh café style is our fun new facelift. Woo Hoo!

Victor and Angelo mingled with the people dining and asked for critique. Everyone mentioned that the meal was suburb. Their performance on all counts was so professional. Similar to the chefs that one sees on TV mingling with their patrons in fancy restaurants. Victor and Angelo have a desire to serve and do it with excellence. They take their job seriously and have lots of fun.

The twins will be cooking 1x a month at the Parish Fast Lane Community Diner. They will not only serve healthy fixings but will add an ethnic flare from time to time. Their specialty is Filipino Style.

The Parish Fast Lane Community Diner – Check it out!

Wednesday Nights

6:00 – 7:00 pm

$4.00 per person

$12.00 per family –  no larger than 5 persons of immediate family members

Enjoy Victor and Angelo’s YouTube video of their first Parish Fast Lane Community Diner cooking experience: Twin Brothers Feed the Multitudes

Thank you Victor and Angelo!

Vicar Man at Play

Love the play clothes, eh?

How long did you say this would take?

Oh! The Vicar Man and his wood. A match made in heaven.

Ahhh Ohhhh! Ti…mmmmm….ber!

Sweetie, I’ve got this!

Yep! He does!

One Proud Vicar Man on a job well done!

Hey! You There!

The Vicar and I were visiting a lady in the hospital the other day. We entered the hospital lobby and walked down a wide open hallway heading toward the elevators. The Vicar and I were the only ones in the hallway until from a distance a man in a wheelchair appears with an attendant accompanying him. Their leisurely approach toward us was not abnormal but we noticed there was something different about the way he looked. Our eyes focused on the fact that he seemed to look out of proportion and rather stanch sitting in his chair. At the point we were about to pass each other,  we noticed that his whole head was bandaged in lots of white material. Similar to Jack-in-the Box’s Jack head only without the big pointing nose and fake eyes. The location of this person’s lips and eyes were showing, we think, because of the big round holes cut out in those places. We forced our eyes to meet his but before we had a chance to politely look away he says, “Hey, you there! You better be careful, you go in for a simple blood test and you come out looking like this!” Shocked by his jovial comment we cracked a smile but as we continued on our way without a cordial stop to chat we laughed out loud, as did he!

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