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Monday Morning Musings

It’s always fun to be with and to talk to the children in our community and of the church. Many of them should be credited for being quite wise. A couple months ago I was talking with some children in Kid’s Club. We were talking about smiles and I asked the group with whom I was chatting a question. I asked “What makes God smile?” Some of the older children had good suggestions. They included being obedient to the 10 commandments. Another one mentioned coming to Kid’s Club or Sunday School. And as I was complimenting those two on their great answers, another child raised his hand. Bouncing up and down, he exclaimed, “I know something better!” When I asked, “What do you think is a better way to make God smile?” He stood up and stated with absolute conviction. “Tell God a joke!” I loved that. And I told him so. Then the whole group tried to think of good jokes that we could tell God.. Here are just a few jokes that might make you smile too. ** Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered into her mother’s ear. “Why is the bride wearing white?” Her mother whispered back saying. “She is wearing white be-cause white is the color of happiness, and this is the happiest day of her life.” The girl thought about that for a moment and then asked. “Okay, but, why then is the groom wearing black?” ** A Sunday school teacher asked her class why Mary and Joseph took Jesus as a young boy along with them to Jerusalem?” The class thought about the question for a moment until ones had a response. She said, “Because they could not get a babysitter!” **At Sunday school the teacher explained that God had created everything in the universe. And when mortals were created, God produced a woman out of a rib from the side of Adam. After the children went home, a Father noticed that his son was laying on the couch after Sunday dinner. He asked his son if he felt alright. And the son responded saying. “My side hurts. I think I’m going to have a wife.” I hope God did not take offense at these jokes and smiled instead. Did you smile too? Jokes are great. Good ones really should bring a smile to God not just because they’re funny, but because God genuinely wants us to enjoy life—the blessings of life that God has given to us. I once heard a preacher say that when we finally stand before God, the one thing we will be asked is, “Did you enjoy the...

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Monday Morning Musings

June is a month to celebrate family and community life. And if it has not already done, it is now time to spruce up the grill so that it fulfill its summer duties. Years ago I learned the busiest restaurant day of the year is Mother’s Day. But Father’s Day is different. It’s more like the busiest day of the year for back-yard grilling. It does not appear to matter what people grill. It could be hot dogs, brats, steak or fish. Most of them will be busy on Father’s day. The activity of grilling is more than preparing the fire and putting all the components in place. When things go right, the practice of grilling provides an opportunity to share something good and to relax. Those long summer Sunday afternoons that are filled with a good spirit, good food, and company remind people like me of scripture. On a day like the one I have described, what comes to my minds is this scripture verse: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 118. 24). June is a busy time. All of our calendars will keep filling even as the month speeds along from the first day to the last. It is important to create a few pauses inside of that hurried pace. I encourage you to make sure to plan a few afternoons in the back yard with your family and the grill to just have fun and relax. Our spirits are at their best when we feel well balanced and our life is fully grounded with the people who are dear and the with Lord who is close by. R. Carol Kress Gladbrook, UMC “I consider the whole world as my parish.” John...

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Monday Morning Musings

This month I am reporting that the Iowa Bishop of the UMC ran the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2017. This accomplishment amazes me enough to yield my space in the newsletter so that you can read all about it. Here an article that was written about Bishop Haller and her reasoning for running. It, along with her regular blog can be found on the www.iaumc.org web site. — BISHOP LAURIE HALLER RUNS THE BOSTON MARATHON “I’m a child of God and God made me to run.” said Bishop Laurie Haller, one of the entrants in the 2017 Boston Marathon. “By running in the Boston Marathon,” she added, “and in everything I do, my only goal is to praise God and give thanks.” Bishop Haller may well be the first United Methodist Bishop to compete in the Marathon. “I suspect that might be,” she said. “It’s an endeavor that’s very difficult. It’s not for everyone. It takes a lot of time and effort and perseverance… and that’s exactly why I do it – to test my-self and challenge myself and see how far I can make my body run.” Running long distances is nothing new for Iowa’s bishop. She has competed in several triathlons, “which is where you run and you bike and you swim, ” she noted. She has won several in her class. She’s even competed in all-day ‘iron man triathlons.’ “I have always gravitated toward longer distances. The longest distance I’ve done in a race is 50 miles…. that was quite a challenge!’ “I like to look at running as wasting time with Jesus.” Bishop Haller said as she talked about how running feeds her soul. “It’s a way in which, since I was in my 20’s, that I’ve been able to get outside, exercise my body, and to be away from everything just to be with Jesus. I can enjoy nature and God’s good creation.” “It’s a challenge,” she added, talking about how she is able to juggle her training schedule with the many demands of being Iowa’s episcopal leader. ‘Over the years I’ve discovered that the more difficult my jobs are in my ministry settings, the more I need to take that kind of time away.” It helps Bishop Haller to know that after working all day, ‘I’m going to be out there exercising my body and trying to be more of a whole person.” Exercising feeds her body, her mind, and her spirit. ‘It makes me a much better pastor, a much better bishop, and a much better human being.” When asked if she would encourage others to do something like what she’s doing Bishop Haller responded by...

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Monday Morning Musings

My goodness, it’s February – almost. I’m writing this Musing while I am also planning to travel to Nash-ville, TN with my clergywomen friends Jan and Shirley. A lot of people who love music travel to Nashville to hear all the singers and songwriters. I hope we have an opportunity to hear some of them too. Not everyone realizes that Nashville is also a hub for the United Methodist Church. Many of the denomi-nation-wide offices are there. Scarritt College and Vanderbilt University have Methodist roots. And even Rieman Auditorium was once a downtown Methodist church. It’s just down the block from the United Methodist Publishing House and Upper Room Ministries. I am certain we’ll join others for daily worship in the Upper Room Chapel. We will also tour the archives that house various art and relics marking Method-ist history from colonial days. All of this will be pretty interesting for me. Many of us think of those little daily devotionals when thinking of the Upper Room, but there is a lot more to their ministry. All of it is meant to help local churches find footing along the path of faith formation and spirituality. It’s great to know we are not out there trying to do this by ourselves. And we’ll tap into some of their resources soon During the season of Lent (starting in March) I will offer a small group study. We will use a book entitled “Listen: Praying in a Noisy World.” by Bishop Rueben Job. We live in a world of noise. Everywhere we go we hear sounds that compete for our minds and hearts. Listening to God requires time and attention. The book will lead us through a 40-day experience. And it’s the kind of thing that just might prove it’s worth. We’ll announce the specific times and dates of this journey as the time draws nearer. Building-up life of prayer is always a good thing. In Christian Love – Rev Carol Kress...

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Monday Morning Musings

Happy New Year! We are closing out the final chapter of 2016 and preparing to start a brand new tale of faith entitled 2017. Will this one be filled with as much intrigue and surprise as the year past or will the story be quieter? I do not know, but I am comforted by the fact that God already has things in place. Have you made a list of New Years Resolutions? The day after Christmas I created a check list of things I should do this year to get my life ship shape. That list contained everything from reading more books, to organizing my closets, to getting some gym clothes. I must have been in a mood because early the next morning I re-read my list and I was amazed by its length. Before I got to the bottom I began to feel overwhelmed and considered crawling back into bed! Oh my. A new perspective was needed, and God provided one while I ate breakfast. While at the table I read an article about Pope Francis that made me see things in a new light. Just before Christmas Pope Francis surprised the locals at an Italian pharmacy late one night. He left his apartment and walked to the store because he was in need of a new pair of Dr. Scholl’s inserts and shoes. The Pope simply strolled down the sidewalk and walked into the pharmacy unannounced. He made that purchase just like any other resident of the neighborhood. The Pope even socialized with the shoppers and allowed them to take some snap shots before he returned to his apartment. This leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics has pictures from his night-time adventure plastered all over face book But this behavior is nothing new for the Pope. Earlier in the month he was spotted at another store where he bought reading glasses. Neighbors have even seen him traveling the streets of Rome in his Ford Fiesta. The article about Pope Francis inspired me because it reminded me that the purpose of making resolutions isn’t about the things I want to “do”. Resolution-making is about the kind of person I want to “be.” Pope Francis offers a witness to his faith by living so simply and mingling so freely with common people. He demonstrates his faith that God cares. What if our resolutions had a connection with our faith too? Can we resolve to spend less time with our things and more time with our family and in the community? Or what if we resolve to find the blessing in each day – even on the challenging ones?” It seems that Pope Francis doesn’t...

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