Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I'll be on vacation for a while, so will be taking a break from blogging. I anticipate getting back to sharing a blog once or twice a week on the week of July 10th.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating Reunion at Carleton College

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of celebrating my 25th college reunion at Carleton College. Carleton has always done a terrific job of organizing reunion weekends. They bring back one class every five years to a reunion, so the class of 1986 was joined by the classes of 2006, 2001, 1991, 1981, 1976, 1971, etc. I think that people from the class of 1936 were present.

My reunion experience began when I received a call from a football teammate. I was buying an anniversary card when he called “out of the blue.” I almost didn’t pick up the call as I didn’t recognize the area code. Paul Wetherbee was calling. He wasn’t sure if I remembered him. Remember Paul? He, Paul Liimatta and I anchored the left side of Carleton’s defense for two years. The three of us listed weights and played hand ball together. I’ll never forget #89.

Because of a way-too-busy weekend I was only able to participate on Saturday, one of the three days. Unfortunately the alumni parade was thrown into disarray from a sudden thunderstorm. Most of us abandoned the parade and ran into the Chapel for a ceremony. The class of 1986 sat directly behind the speakers (See above picture). At the ceremony the 25th and 50th anniversary classes presented special financial gifts. The class of 1986 gave $414,000 and the class of 1961 gave 7.1 million. I was astounded at both figures.

I had the opportunity to hear new President Steven G. Poskanzer speak for the first time. I was impressed by his commitment to a Liberal Arts education and the story he shared about his daughter trying to decide on whether to attend Carleton. After her dad was selected as President, she took a trip to Carleton. She queried many of the students about how it would be for her to attend a college where her dad is President. One of the students told her, “no one really cares who the President is!” She is going to be a freshman at Carleton this fall.

One special highlight was attending the C-Club luncheon. At the luncheon five people were inducted into the Carleton athletic Hall of Fame. It was very moving to learn about these five athletes’ stories and to listen to the passion of the people who introduced each inductee.

I had the privilege of connecting with Coach Bob Sullivan—my football coach when I attended Carleton. He took me over to his house and gave me a plaque from my playing days. Just seeing Coach Sullivan was worth in itself the drive to Northfield. He is one of the most optimistic, positive, and hopeful people I’ve ever met. It’s a privilege for me just to spend time with him in a car.

Twenty-five years goes by too fast. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was receiving my diploma on June 6, 1986. I’ll always be grateful that I attended Carleton College. Spending time with some of my classmates this past weekend was a gift that I regret only happens once every five years.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

11 years ago today

Eleven years ago today I had the privilege of giving my life to Amy Moore during our wedding celebration at First Presbyterian Church in Rochester, Minnesota. Last night Amy and I celebrated our anniversary and reminisced about that day.

In our minds we’ve been together for 13 years. I met Amy on the Monday after Father’s Day in June 1998. I fell in love with her immediately—it took her a little longer to be smitten. We were engaged on the Monday after Father’s Day in June 1999, and then were married on the Friday before Father’s Day in June 2000.

This weekend brings back plenty of memories.

Last Thursday night I went to the Twins game with our daughter, Hannah. While there she asked me if her birth was the most important event that has ever happened to me. I told her she was a close second to my meeting and marrying Amy. Without our relationship she would have never come into the world.

On this special day I want to lift up the Scripture from Ruth from which our wedding vows were based.

“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God my God.
Where you die, I will die—
There will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
And more as well,
If even death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:16-18

My love and fidelity to Amy has never been stronger.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Delivering Welcome Bags

Last night I delivered welcome bags to people who have recently moved into new residences in Blaine & Lino Lakes. This is a new ministry that we developed in 2011 at Chain of Lakes as part of our outreach focus.

The concept is easy to understand. We are like the old Welcome Wagon. We asked local businesses for coupons that we can give to new people. We add information from Chain of Lakes. We put all the information into a blue canvass bag that has the Chain of Lakes logo printed on it.

The purpose of the ministry is two-fold. One is to welcome people who have recently moved into our geographical area. Over time we might put in information from the local cities and school districts. We had a brief conversation with a rep from the local YMCA about putting one of their program guides into the bag. Sharing this information is one way that our congregation can live into our Core Value of Hospitality. We understand this to mean that “we will go out of our way to welcome people as Jesus welcomed them, with an open heart and open arms.”

The second purpose is to share information about Chain of Lakes Church. When people move into a new area they ultimately will make a decision about attending a church. During that decision-making time, we have an opportunity to share information about our congregation. Hopefully someone will come to worship after receiving a welcome bag.

We’ve gotten the names of new residences from the city of Lino Lakes and the Star Tribune Sunday real estate section. One man from Chain of Lakes takes this information and makes a map of where the residence is located. Two lovely women then stuff the bags and put them out for people from Chain of Lakes to distribute.

I decided that I want to distribute five welcome bags each week this summer. I see this as a way to share the importance of this ministry to the rest of our congregation.

Last night was the third time I’ve gone out. The first week no one was home; last week I distributed five bags to people who were home.

It was raining last night, so I felt a bit sheepish about delivering bags. I wrote about my hesitancy on my Facebook page. A long-time friend encouraged me to get out there. So I did. I first delivered two coffee mugs to guests who visited for the first-time this past Sunday. I wrote about our coffee mug ministry in a blog on February 4, 2010.

After delivering the bags I distributed welcome bags. I went to four homes—two people were home. I distributed two bags. I decided not to drop off the bags unless the people are home.

When the person comes to the door, I share that I am with the welcome wagon. I say that I discovered that the person is new to the area and want to welcome them. I give them the bag and say that we want to share coupons from area businesses. I tell them that I’m with Chain of Lakes Church—a new Presbyterian church. The person will usually say thank you or something else. At some point I’ll ask the person when they moved. If the person seems interested in having a conversation I might ask him or her if they have connected to a church. I’ll encourage the person to come to worship at Chain of Lakes and then leave. Most of the conversations take less than three minutes. I have yet to have a negative experience in talking to a person

I make a record of every conversation and share it with the people who are coordinating the ministry. Our goal is to distribute fifty welcome bags each month.

I have no idea if we will receive new guests in worship from this ministry. But I think this ministry is worth a try. Please pray for this new welcome bag ministry at Chain of Lakes. Pray that we can share hospitality with people and that people might “dip their toe in the water” at a worship service at Chain of Lakes Church.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A big thanks on the last day of school

Today is our daughter, Hannah’s, last day of 4th grade. A big thanks to Julie Engelmann and Scott Zachmann for teaching her this year.

I grew up in a household that valued education. My dad taught English at the local community college, and my mom taught kids with learning disabilities in the local elementary school. It was assumed that my sister and I would take our education seriously, do well in school, and go to college.

The climate for education doesn’t seem to be that different than it was a year ago when I wrote a tribute to everyone involve d in education. Budgets are flat; classroom sizes are large; test scores seem to overshadow everything. Everyone has an opinion about education—often negative. Our state politicians haven’t even passed a funding budget this year. I haven’t heard of any momentum to pay back the accounting shift that “borrowed” money in the last budget cycle. Our politicians are “borrowing” money from education to balance their budgets.

I think the last day of school should be a day to make a tribute to everyone involved in education. Just as our country gave a tribute on Memorial Day to our veterans who died, I think our country owes a tribute to everyone who has dedicated their lives to educating children and youth. I don’t think it would be out of line for our communities to gather at our local school with a honor guard and give a rousing ovation for everyone involved in education.

Thank you, teachers, bus drivers, custodians, coaches, para-professionals, administrators, librarians, crossing guards, and everyone else involved in education. Your commitment deserves our thanks. Thank you!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ascension--shifting our gaze

Today is the celebration of the Christian holiday of Ascension. On Ascension the church remembers that 40 days after the resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven. The story can be found in Acts 1:1-11.

An excellent link that shares how Presbyterians view the ascension can be found at:

One of my favorite parts of the story is what happens after Jesus was ascended into heaven. Two men in white robes—most likely angels--(messengers of God) came to the disciples as they were looking up to heaven. “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11

I have many take aways from this verse. One is the importance of not getting overly focused on heaven. I believe in heaven, salvation and want to encourage everyone to receive Christ as Lord and Savior. However getting to heaven and gazing upon heaven is not the only part of the Christian faith. In addition to gazing at heaven, we are called to gaze at the earth and the conditions of people here on earth.

We have much work to do to develop and create the kingdom of God here on earth. Our own country has a high rate of unemployment, politicians having a hard time compromising, a growing rate of poverty. We have plenty to gaze upon here. I hope the church can take a role in gazing upon the earth.

If our celebration of ascension can broaden our gaze to the conditions here on earth, then the holiday will have special meaning.