The Voice on the Other End

flip phone

Jan. 20, 2016

John 14:26

The Companion, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.

I received an interesting phone call today. While working at church, my cell phone rang. Caller ID said it was my father-in-law’s cell phone. When no one spoke back to me, I hung up and quickly called back the number. What if something was wrong with my nearly 91-year-old father-in-law?

Instead, my technologically challenged husband Rick answered the phone. He didn’t realize they had called me. His Dad must have accidentally pushed the “send” button on the cell phone while Rick was trying to explain to his Dad how to use his cell phone. The church assistant was laughing nearly as loudly as I was. My husband, who insists on only having a flip phone because anything else would be to “complicated”, was teaching his even more technologically nonagenarian dad the wonders of a flip phone. Again.

As a child, I remember a pastor explaining the Holy Spirit like that of a telephone line. The Spirit is the “phone line” between God and us. It’s the way God communicates with us; if we only hear answer the phone.

I know there is a Holy Spirit because I’ve felt the Holy Spirit in my life. It’s the nudging’s I receive to call or stop and see someone. It’s the guiding force when making a challenging decision. It’s the calmness I receive when a day has been crazy and I need to quiet myself at bedtime. I serve as a pastor because of a message I received from the Holy Spirit when I was called into pastoral ministry.

While I’ve heard the Holy Spirit many times in my life, I sometimes question how many times the Holy Spirit spoke to me … and I missed it. Times when I wasn’t able to distinguish the Spirit’s voice from the others. Specific messages the Spirit wanted me to acknowledge and I chose not to. It’s like the phone call that came today and no one was on the other end. When the Spirit sends the message, I may not realize it’s coming or I simply ignore it.

Sometimes we need to be taught how to acknowledge the Spirit’s voice, just as Rick was giving his father a refresher course today. Too often, I’m like my father-in-law. I’ve been told this information before. I forget it, don’t really listen and absorb it or think it isn’t necessary. I’d like to use the excuse that it’s too difficult, like trying to use the flip phone. But I know this isn’t the truth.

It would be easier if the Holy Spirit put messages on a lighted board and impossible to miss. Maybe we just need to be more attune. We don’t like to miss calls from our loved ones. Let’s keep the communication lines with the Holy Spirit just as open.

Lord God, thank you for the many times you’ve desperately tried to communicate with us. Forgive us for the times when the Spirit has spoken and we ignored it. Or didn’t listen. Or chose not to hear. May we be encouraged to listen for the Spirit’s guiding voice in our lives this day. Amen.

Blessings –


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And Then There was Sabbath

Jan. 12, 2016

Genesis 2:2-3

By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Happy New Year! Our New Year began differently. Rick and I left on vacation on Dec. 31. We spent a day at the Kennedy Space Center and then joined some dear friends and their families on a Caribbean cruise. The goal: fun in the sun!

There are sometimes overly demanding times in our lives. The last five months have been for us. Mid-December, I realized how much I needed Sabbath time. For too many days, I’d awaken after a short sleep night and contemplate, “What do I absolutely have to do today that cannot wait?” Most days had too many “must do” items. Some were things I had taken on. Others were work and family commitments. The unexpected and emotional ones make it more challenging.

As we headed to the airport, I wanted to shut down. I needed to rest and reconnect with my husband, whose main goal was get as much sun as possible. He accomplished this quite well!

Being on a cruise ship in which internet service had to be purchased at high rates meant e-mail, texting and phone calls were non-existent. My connection with the outside world was on the little TV I saw while working out in the fitness center. I didn’t always do a daily devotion. I didn’t make long lists of people to pray for. At week’s end, I contemplated doing some future planning. The thought was overtaken by laying on a deck lounge chair by myself. I ate too much, danced silly dances I nor my college roommates knew and realized how bad at trivia I am. Rick and I went to the library one day and picked up the daily Sudoku just for fun. Teenager Megan and I swam with the dolphins. We snorkeled near coral and laughed at the piano bar until closing time.

Some people night not consider this Sabbath. But it was for me. Rick and I ate more meals together in 10 days than we have in the last four months. I slept late on the mornings when I didn’t sleep well during the night. I believe God blessed these days and made them holy because I disconnected from the craziness of life. I didn’t feel rushed or pressed. I could just be.

This type of Sabbath isn’t long-time sustaining or practical. Every once in a while, it is important and necessary. My version of Sabbath may not be your version and that’s OK! Yet, if God slowed down and imposed Sabbath on Godself, why don’t we?

Rick and I returned to snow and minus degree days just in time to “remember” our birthdays. How can my skin respond so quickly to the dry Wisconsin air? I have things to do for two meetings tonight, have been on the phone much of the day and am trying to deal with an overflowing e-mail inbox. Before Sabbath time gets completely gets buried with real life, I want to encourage us to find times of Sabbath: daily, weekly, monthly and annually. God will see it, make it holy and bless it.

Lord God, too often we make our lives so full and challenging. We fail to remember how even in all the creating you have done, you took time for Sabbath. Help us determine how important times of Sabbath are for us. Help us make them meaningful, regular and blessed by you. Amen.

Blessings –


Rick does not like pictures being taken of him. But he was happy to pose at a beach on the British Virgin Island of Tortola. Photo taken by college roommate Barb Mickelson.
Rick does not like pictures being taken of him. But he was happy to pose at a beach on the British Virgin Island of Tortola. Photo taken by college roommate Barb Mickelson.

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