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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Devotion from my husband


Ecclesiastes 9:9 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun. NRSV


Absence makes the heart grow fonder… that simple phrase does not do justice to what my wonderful wife and I experience.  When Erin began Seminary at Gettysburg, we were told by an old and very wise pastor, “The Devil will do everything he can to stop you in the first year.”  So… after multiple surgeries, months of lost work, medical bills, driving countless hours, excruciating pain, studying late into the night, helplessness, separation, doubt, faith, love, and the single most inescapable truth that is unspoken; your husband may die on the operating table… I am willing to bet the love and bond between us has become much stronger. 

Baptism prepares all… to be continually replenished. This is true just as water must be given to sustain life to all of God’s creation…so to must water be continually replenished daily in the lives of Christians. The waters of baptism continuously flow on like a river running through our souls. The total gift of baptism carries on throughout all of a Christian’s life and is valid till we all enter into eternity. Those waters also are important in the covenant of marriage.

Constantly am reminded that I am so lucky she married me.  She is allowed to get angry, to cry, to be scared, to love, to have doubt, and also to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Through the covenant of marriage by God, two young people begin their journeys through life at birth during baptism. Marriage is a continuation of those promises as two people join together with the priesthood of all believers in response to water and word.

Many of our friends joke that I married a wonderful woman and then became a bachelor again; that I have the best of both worlds.  I don’t know if that is true, but I do know I am one very lucky man with her at my side.  We have wonderful energy together, where I am weak, she is strong; where she is weak, I am strong.  People who are part of our lives can feel the love, kindness, fun, and energy that we share; they are blessed by it.  So when we get a chance to write a letter, send an email, make a quick call, Skype late at night, or drive five hours just to see each other… those precious seconds count.  I will always walk arm in arm with my wife, get the door for her (when she lets me), and show her the love and trust that she deserves; absence is something we both know all too well.  We tell everyone we are going to be married for 85 years; three down and eighty-two to go… and we mean it…


Dear Lord, let us remember the great celebrations in life where we remember and join into covenants with you. The celebration of life though baptism, the celebration of the meal at your family table, and the great promises of unity with each other in your loving embrace during marriage. Amen.

The hunger of Celiac's


John 6:30-40

            When reading this story from John, I was reminded of my great dilemmas lately. A few months ago I found out have Celiac’s disease like my father. This means that I am not allowed to have any form of Gluten. I have watched my father work with his disease for years, no big deal if he can do it, I can to. What I have found is frustration.

            Just the other day I had a brilliant idea to take my friend to Washington for the first time. What a wonderful idea but I had no clue what kind of day was about to unfold. One, I woke up trying to get my family around. Needless to say, I was not able to get any food so I decided to get some on the drive to the metro. Problem one... When you cannot have gluten there are so many foods you cannot have. It is a rare occasion any fast food restaurants have anything to choose from. Cross that of the list so when we stopped at the gas station I decided to explore. Problem…nothing. Out of frustration I found a banana and continued on our way.

            Next plan, to eat at the Smithsonian cafĂ© for brunch get some yogurt, salad, and fruit there. They have to have some healthy choices. Oh what a day! My plan was spoiled when the metro was shut down for several stops and we needed to take a bus into half the city before arriving at a closer metro. By the time we reached the Smithsonian it was 2pm and my stomach was soooooo hungry! My body was starting to get irritated and I was ready to go! What a day.

            We rush directly downstairs after waiting in a line which made me wonder if they were giving the hope diamond away. Only to find…pizza (gluten) sandwiches (gluten) fried chicken (gluten) no yogurt and the salads had bread crumbs all over them (gluten)! Such a scary scenario, hungry surrounded by food, nothing which won’t make me sick. If I could have only have bread! What a day. I bought another banana and took a seat to watch my family eat their food figuring out plan C finding other food outside Smithsonian around dinner time.

             Now not being familiar with Washington you might see how this was going to continue throughout the day. Needless to say the day continued in calamity after calamity and it was near 11pm before we finally pulled into a restaurant where I finally could find some trusted food with a nice gluten free piece of bread. What a day. As I sat with a sigh of relief and a soon to be full tummy I thought about my struggles trying to find that ONE piece of gluten free food that would save me from my hunger.

            Bread, Bread, Bread…I understand desire for it out of the inability to have it. In fact, many of us should be able to relate to this desire. Today, over 72 million loaves of bread are sold to Americans per year.  My search for life sustaining bread that day brought this story home. We all need food. We will not live without it. As Christians this is so much more. Currently, there are millions who are starving all over this world yearning for bread, Yearning to be fed. In recent memory we can recall the images of the citizens after the tsunami. Thousands dead, families lost, lives changed forever, starving with no food or water. They need food but in this moment, it is hope that is hard to see. Hope that food and aid will come. This bread that Jesus spoke about is for the soul instead of the body. It satisfies the souls hunger and keeps us alive. The father gives it to us through his son, the true bread of life. Past our hunger pains, past our sufferings, the hunger and thirst of human situation are ended when we Know Christ and when through him we know God. The restless soul is at peace when the hungry heart is satisfied. We see Jesus when we see him in the teachings of our church, face to face. He is not a distant hero but right at the alter. The whole process gives us life. It is an invitation to all, the invitation is to take and eat.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thankful



Today marks the first week after our Nickolas Robert went to eternal rest with our Lord. We are grieving but also so thankful for our little boy. I can say that he was a true blessing in my life and will never be forgotten. 

As our family has been taking time to be together this week. I want to thank all of the wonderful people who have sent messages, called, sent cards filled with love for Nickolas, flowers, cherished items, and so many who have shared their stories with us. The great love from each of you have given us strength in this time. We are truly blessed and thankful to have you in our lives. 

Today I would like to share a precious reading that I have been reflecting on...I hope if any of you are missing someone who is with our Lord today, that it will bring you comfort. 

"This world is infinitely layered and mysterious. Everyday of our lives, we see far more than we can comprehend, and because the failure to comprehend disquiets us, we lie to ourselves about what we see. We want a simple world, but we live in one that is magnificently complex. Rather than acknowledge the exquisite roundness of creation, we take it in thin slices, and we view each slice through tinted, distorting lenses that further diminish its beauty and obscure truths that await recognition. Complexity implies meaning, and we are afraid of meaning. The life of a seamstress is no smaller than the life of a queen, the life of a child with Down syndrome no less filled with promise than the life of a philosopher, because the only significant measure of your life is the positive effect you have on others, either by conscious acts of will or by unconscious example. Every smallest act of kindness - even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, the compliment that engenders a smile - has the potential to change the recipient's life. If by the example of joy and innocence, one can change two lives for the better, then no life is little, and every life is big."

Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life (Bantam Books, New York, 2009)267. (slightly adapted for Nickolas)

Sadness

In November, I joyfully announced our pregnancy after we had heard the heart beat and entered into the second trimester.

But...I am sad to say that two weeks ago my water broke. Since then our family has been in a state of uncertainty. The situation that occurred is called, Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes, or Pre-PROM. This occurs in less than 1% of all pregnancies. It is even more rare that it occurred so early in our's.

Yesterday on December 16th, 2015 at 2:25pm we had a beautiful baby boy who is now at rest with God. We named him Nickolas Robert Burns and are so honored to have gotten the chance to meet him. Please keep our family in your prayers.



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Soda, Pop, Coke, or Soda Pop



August 13 = The official day I decided to go soda free

Soda Free = Week and a half


As some of you have been following, I am on a new adventure to become healthy. One of the first steps (no pun intended) was to begin walking more. The new goal includes giving up one of my favorite weaknesses…soda, pop, coke, or soda pop…whatever the kids are calling it these days. So far so good! I intentionally chose to quite my favorite sugary goodness during vacation. This gave me the opportunity to just say NO in some of the hardest times.  

Example 1: While traveling through the Pa Grand Canyon we found my favorite drink ever…Pennsylvania Bear Run White Birch Bear!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so hard to say no when I only get this drink every several years.  


Example 2: During a retreat this week we were answering questions to get to know each other....it was the hardest most famous question…(What is your favorite Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

Our society has so much soda in it! Until I refused to drink it, I never even noticed. Like when I went to Walmart this week and tried to get a drink out of the cooler. The only option was some form of soda or water. Period.

On an awesome note: While on vacation, I hiked to the bottom of the Pa Grand Canyon and BACK UP! Very proud of myself.


Blessings to each of your journeys today! I would love to hear your stories about giving something difficult up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This year has went so fast! I am in amazement watching each of my classmates prepare for the upcoming year. As I begin preparations such as buying text books for senior year, I am reflecting on some of the moments from the journey. My mentor for the year has a wonderful way of sharing God moments with others. I would like to share some God moments (or God winks) with you. 

I saw God in the excitement and creativity throughout Fremont, Ohio. 
Thank you for your smiles!  

As a community we saw God moments while celebrating new ministries. 
(Installation of Pastor Jose Rios - Iglesia Camino De Vida - UMC & ELCA)

We could sense God's presence during the Choir Festival for Reformation. 


God moments were all around as five Lutheran Congregations 
meet for Outdoor Worship at the fairgrounds. 

God moments....with 30,000 teens in Detroit.
 Teens who were dancing, singing, and praising God together! Amen! 


There are so many wonderful moments this year. I would never be able to name all of them. These were just a few. Thank you for your support and love for our family throughout this year! We look forward to the road ahead during senior year!