Pastor's Blog
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May 7, 2015, 12:00 AM

The Blanket Lady

So I just returned home from five days in the hospital. As is the case with all of the detour moments in my life, God uses the experience to show me more of who he is. I was in the hospital because pneumonia flared the MS I manage every day. When I get an infection and my temperature climbs above normal, lesions on my spinal cord become more active than usual causing my left leg to not function. Once I get a dose or two of steroids, the mobility returns and then I am encouraged to walk to keep things moving. When one is in the hospital tethered to an IV pole, the only place to walk is the hallway. 

As I walked past the rooms filled with folks fighting their own battles, I came to one with a very elderly lady laying alone in her room. She was looking out the door at those who walked by. Her TV was on, but she paid no attention to it. She held her hands on her chest, long boney fingers clasped together. Her eyes and my eyes met, and I saw again what I have seen countless times in the faces of people her age: she was present in the room, but was gone at the same time. Her gaunt face, her paper thin frame told me she had been fighting the illness a while, and was simply "waiting for God." 

She was covered in multiple blankets, but the one on top caused me to stop and look a little closer. It was checkered, dark blue and bright yellow - Mountaineer colors if you really want to know. As I looked at the blanket, it was quite obvious someone had made it for this dear one. Was it a member of her family? Was it a friend? Did it come from a group who simply gave their talents to create something to keep another warm? Questions without answers. What was clear that day is that even though she was alone in the room, even though she likely had no idea how many blankets she was under, even though she was present but gone at the same time, she was wrapped in love. The love from someone, somwhere lay upon her, keeping her warm and bringing brilliant color to an otherwise drab and depressing space.

Two thoughts formed in my mind as I walked on: "God, thank you for whoever made and gave that blanket to her"; and "God, save me from being where she is, but if I end up there, let me be wrapped in a blanket of love like she is." And the voice of the Lord came to me: "I am with you always. You will never be alone. I love with an evrlasting love. Do not be afraid." 

The love of God as the promise of his presence when no one else is around, as a blanket for warmth when cold winds of pain and uncertainty and change blow into life, as joyful colors filled with peace and hope for drab and depressing spaces - all from a little old lady wrapped in a blanket. Isn't God good............!

Keep Lookin' Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

05-09-2015 at 5:00 PM
Erika Drayer
Beautiful account! It's comforting to know that we are blanketed in His love, never alone. I love the way you write/tell a story; it makes me feel like I'm seeing it!
05-08-2015 at 10:36 PM
David Smith
Amen Brother Dave, thanks for sharing.
05-08-2015 at 8:42 AM
David Janz (Betsy)
Thanks, Chuck - wonderful words and images.
05-08-2015 at 8:36 AM
Chuck Porter
i spend a lot of time these days at The Caring Place with my Mother -in-law Joyce Greenlee. Yes, I am there to see Joyce, but with every visit God places other people in my path. So many lovely people just looking for a smile, or a kind word. Their faces light up with joy at the least little bit of attention, or even a warm smile directed at them. They appear so appreciative of even a little bit of attention. But I am the one God is blessing. He is touching my heart with every encounter, be it a bit of conversation, a "Hello" Or a hand on a frail shoulder accompanied by a warm smile. I know God has played a part in my being there for Joyce. You know how we get in the habit of saying "Love you" as we leave a loved one? Of course we mean it every time, but it becomes a habit saying it. Well, the other day I said "Love you" to Joyce after a little kiss on the cheek, and she echoed my words. Then, she took my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, "I really do, you know, I Love You!" My eyes were a little blurry as I exited the building that day... God is Good... All the Time...
05-08-2015 at 7:11 AM
Pat Mann
Reminds me of my 3rd gr-dtr. Anna, a CLA in Carilion Hospital in Roanoke, VA. As it is with Anna, she would have been sitting beside this "dear one" possibly holding her hand, praying with her, and of course, reading her scripture. Anna has been known to be asked by her Supervisor, "What took you so long, where were you?" I pray more like Anna will not only "walk" those hospital halls: but stop as the Lord directs. Glad to hear you're still "looking up." Blessings
05-07-2015 at 10:54 PM
Erika Drayer
Beautiful account! It's comforting to know that we are blanketed in His love, never alone. I love the way you write/tell a story; it makes me feel like I'm seeing it!
05-07-2015 at 9:50 PM
Sandy Homer
Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
05-07-2015 at 9:26 PM
Sheryl Rodgers
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading this.
05-07-2015 at 8:51 PM
David Kanavy
I loved reading this too.Thank you for sharing.
05-07-2015 at 8:01 PM
Lois Carr
You wonder how many other folks walked past that woman's room and just saw a poor ,old ,thin frail woman. Not all the love that surrounded her. God's moments are there. We just need to slow down, look, and really pay attention. Wonderful story Pastor Janz!!
05-07-2015 at 7:53 PM
michelle weber
Loved reading this.
05-07-2015 at 7:44 PM
Mikki Chmiel
He is everywhere if we just take the time to stop and look and listen.
05-07-2015 at 7:38 PM
Kathy McClintock
God works in mysterious ways
05-07-2015 at 7:37 PM
Carolyn Evans
This is beautiful, each time I am in the hospital there always seems to be stories like this and memories of blessings in which He holds on to me so tight.....Thanks for sharing
05-07-2015 at 7:11 PM
Dick Shaner
The Holy Spirit leads! PTL!
05-07-2015 at 6:44 PM
Jocelyn Miller (DeWayne G
Amen! Enjoyed reading this blog and the thought provoking message within.
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March 26, 2015, 7:00 PM

Are You "Stuffocated?"

Who do you turn to for advice – about life, about work, about relationships, about money about ______ ?

I am blessed to call several people in my life “mentors” - people I turn to often for help with things like the issues above. One of them – Dr. Brian Bauknight – writes and distributes a monthly email to a list of clergy, and I am fortunate to be on his list. The latest edition of Shared Thoughts from Shared Acres arrived in my inbox a couple days ago. The title? Simpler Living? In this email Brian cites an article in a recent issue of TIME magazine focused on our “seemingly relentless accumulation of stuff.”  Brian writes:

How many garages are full of so many accumulated possessions that we can no longer put a car or cars inside? How many dining room tables are piled so high that we can no longer invite guests into our homes to share a meal? Then add the external storage facilities. The TIME article writer says that 48,500 storage facilities now exist in the U.S. – “outnumbering all the McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger Kings and Starbucks put together.”… Professional organizers now comprise a booming business helping (for a fee, of course) downsizing baby boomers dealing with a lifetime worth of stuff. Junk hauling businesses are flourishing. One person names our condition “hyperaquisition.” One book entitles the condition “Stuffocation.”

I read Brian’s email the same day I heard Bishop Tom Bickerton quote Thomas Merton – the insightful Catholic mystic – who said, “Everything you need in your life is already there.” These two combined have caused me to think more intensively about the stuff in my life. I am often times enticed by the latest piece of technology, or fishing accessory, or motor vehicle, or ministry strategy, or ___________. I hear the marketing promise the life altering impact this new thing will have on my living, and I respond like a thirsty man who finds a cool mountain stream. Drawing from 31 years of ministry experience, I know I’m not alone. J

We all seem drawn to the newest and the latest that suggests life will be incomplete without this particular “thing.” And so we pull money from savings, or from necessities, or break out “the plastic” to acquire what promises to completely change our lives like nothing else can. What happens to those purchases? Well, they are often quickly discarded because the newest and the latest thing that will change our lives like nothing else can arrives. The new becomes the old and ends up in an already packed full garage, or on a stacked high dining room table…….all in the blink of an eye.

Maybe that’s why Jesus – who knows humanity oh so well – said: “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving… Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:30-33, The Message).

Think on these things, and remember…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

03-28-2015 at 9:05 AM
Katie Aaron
I often wonder...how we got to where we are. It takes time and money to mange all our "Stuff". That wonderful gift of CHOICE can put a lot of burden on us. What is important to one person may mean nothing to someone else. Discernment through prayer is available to us all the time...we don't have to order it... it is free and we don't even have to store it. What a deal! Allow God to be in charge. Don't forget to ask for His direction to help us keep our lives SIMPLE.
Thanks for the reminder on THIS aspect of our lives...STUFF.
03-27-2015 at 9:12 AM
Pat Mann
One of my favorite verses that Jesus said is: Matt 6:33, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Jesus also said, He will provide what's necessary, food, clothing & shelter. Which makes me think of the cliche, "only what's done for God matters."
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January 13, 2015, 8:00 PM

I'm Still Here.........

It's hard to believe almost a month has passed since I wrote one of these. The last one was 12/15/14 - my son's 27th birthday. In the time that has elapsed between then and now, the flu - in multple mutations - has descended upon the Franklin community, and the Janz household.  Christmas has come and gone, including wonderful Christmas Eve celebrations. 2015 has arrived and we are almost half way through month number one. And after a fairly mild and snow-less December, the white stuff and the sub-zero temps have made their presence known significanly in these early days of January.

During this passage of time many other things have happened that I don't have room to mention here - as well as a number of other things that I am sure I've missed. See, that's the challenge with living as busy and swamped as most of us do - we miss so many of the little things - the subtle things - the handiwork of God in places that don't come with fanfare. Let me show you what I mean.

I saw a snow man today - maybe you saw it to. It stands on the corner of Fountain Park, across the street from the Post Office. This fellow is not like the ones we often see in front or back yards of homes in our community. He is taller than I am - almost perfectly shaped - like they look in the pictures. Tree branches for arms, a nice hat on his head, and a big smile - formed with what looks like pieces of coal. I stood briefly and watched him today - keeping his silent vigil while people walked past lost in some manifestation of cyber space and cars whizzed past on Elk Street or turned the corner at 12th. Not having the luxury of a "magic hat," he simply smiles, observes and occupies space. And he can be easily missed, if we're not paying attention. As I watched him watch me today, I couldn't help wonder, "Who made him? How long did it take? Did more than one person particiapte? Were kids involved? When was he created?" See, while he stands silently, his presence speaks things that can only be heard by slowing down - even just briefly - to open the door to wonder and mystery, the kind of things that rarely announce themselves with fanfare.

You've probably received this advice before - maybe you've even offered it to one or two people. But let me circle it for you again: SLOW DOWN. God's most magnificent handiwork often requires a pause in life's pace to behold. As always...

Keep Lookin' Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

01-14-2015 at 2:41 PM
Pat Mann
I "echo" the words of Lois Carr, slow down. Driving to Franklin on the roads from Rouseville to Rt 8 this morning, there was God's magnificant art work of frost on the trees and bushes lining the frozen Allegheny River at a minus 9 degrees. An awesome sight. Seeing the "snowman" today made me think of the last word in Pastor Jeff's Advent series "PEACE!" To God be the Glory. ;)
01-14-2015 at 8:45 AM
Dick Shaner
Should have SLOWED down a little. The hourse IN MY COMMENT is misspelled and should read....outside your house!
01-14-2015 at 8:40 AM
Dick Shaner
Don't forget to checkout the sunsets that are just outside you hourse in the evenings. Doesn't cost anything and you can appreciate God's handywork!
01-14-2015 at 8:05 AM
David Janz
Love the image, Mikki: an invitation to slow down and come and play......that'll preach... :)
01-14-2015 at 6:18 AM
Mikki Chmiel
I saw him on my way to WW last eve. I almost missed the turn to see him. He looks great standing sentry to the park like he is guarding it or maybe he's inviting us to slow down and come play!! As we get older we forget the joys that making a snowman can bring.
01-14-2015 at 6:12 AM
Sandy Homer
Great memories for us, but what wonderful memories for the children who helped build it!
01-14-2015 at 6:09 AM
Sharon Chandler
AMEN and thank you, Jane, for the info. I am SO guilty of always multitasking that I miss some of life happening!! Thank you, Pastor, for reminding us to SLOW DOWN!!
01-13-2015 at 9:08 PM
Jane Hoover
I drove by as this creation was being built. It peared to be a family, mom, dad, and two young children. Touched my heart...
01-13-2015 at 9:06 PM
Lois Carr
A lot of Gods awesome handy work is missed when we zoom by on our journey of life. So slow down and enjoy the little things! By the way, I noticed the big snowman today and wondered the same things you mentioned!
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December 15, 2014, 7:00 PM

Sticky Note Theology

Last night, after arriving home following the second of our two cantata presentations, I sat down in my living room chair and grabbed my iPad. As I flipped back the cover, I saw a yellow sticky note on the screen. It simply says, "I love you dad," followed by a colored-in heart. It's the handwriting of my daughter, Katie. She was alone in my office last night following the conclusion of the cantata, while her dad shook hands and practiced hospitality among those who had come to the worship experience.  It sent a "warm fuzzy" right to the center of this daddy's heart. And then tonight, after a great family meal celebrating my son Ben's birthday, I am told that she hid "yellow sticky notes" in several different places in my office. Makes me more excited about going to work tomorrow than usual.

My children and I have never been bashful about "I love you's." We end most phone calls with it, we part company with it, we say it in text messages. I think we have learned this from Betsy, who is the mother of "I love you's," at least for my family. They are most certainly VERY important words. Complacency and stagnation begin knocking on the door of marriage when those words are absent. Distance can develop between siblings when those words are neglected. Friendships can plateau when those words are assumed rather than said. Important words....for sure. 

But acting in loving ways infuses "I love you's" with a power that brings the words to life. Maybe that's why the most quoted verse in the Bible has such energy for us: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) God did not just say "I love you" and leave it at that. God acted - he gave His Son as the real life expression of "I love you." 

Oh, and then there's the whole Christmas thing. When the angel appeared to the shepherds that first Holy Night, God doesn't shout "I love you" from the halls of heaven. He sends shepherds to Bethlehem where they can see the living, breathing, enfleshed reality of His love sleeping in His mother's arms. 

"I love you." Never neglect the words. But while you're at it, give them some power - let them be SEEN in the ways you live, even if it's simply through a few yellow sticky notes......

Think on these things, and remember...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

12-18-2014 at 4:12 AM
Tom and Elaine Young
"I love you" sticky notes abound in our family as well......a great way to step back from technology and keep it personal with hand-written notes! If we could place a sticky note here in the blog it would say, "Thanks , Pastor David, we love you!"
12-16-2014 at 4:15 PM
DeWayne B. Greenlee
Amen! Enjoy your blogs!
12-16-2014 at 2:49 PM
Anne Bakker
I have been blessed with a family where "I Love you"s come easily, are shared daily, and are extended to those who need to hear it as well. Nothing makes me feel more cared for and cherished than those nightly "love you, Mom" texts from TX, and the daily I love yous from those still at home.
Thank you for sharing.
12-16-2014 at 2:45 PM
David Janz
Have found two more sticky notes so far.... :)
12-16-2014 at 8:09 AM
Jenny
Enjoy your blogs! Thanks for sharing!
12-15-2014 at 10:06 PM
Robyn Ohmer
This was a thing I did for the boys when they were younger. I'd stick notes in their lunch or in their bookbag. The days I found them in mine always touched my heart.
12-15-2014 at 8:41 PM
Tiffany
I remind my family words are only good if you back them up with the action, so this blog really hit home for me. Thank you for sharing these pieces of your life.
12-15-2014 at 8:24 PM
Adam G
Good stuff thank you
12-15-2014 at 7:35 PM
Beth Stanish
Thank you.
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December 9, 2014, 11:00 AM

Life Lesson from the Hospital

I ended up in the hospital this past Sunday (December 7th) because of some chest pain and discomfort. My doctor decided to run some tests that included an echocardiogram. This particular test requires you to lay on your left side with your left arm extended over your head. The technician then places an imaging instrument  on your chest and a picture of the heart appears on the screen attached to the machine. The technician can then move the instrument around giving many different "looks" at the heart and how it is functioning. 

I am glad to say my heart is functioning very well - at least that's what the doctor says. I must say, it is a fascinating thing - at least to me - to lay there and see your heart beating. Valves opening and closing, blood flowing in and out, the muscle pulsing like ticks on a clock with life itself. "Wow, I am alive," I thought. "I can see it right there on the screen." And then the humbling thing hit me: "If that thing stops doing what it's doing, I will not get off of this table. My life will end. I will not be alive any more." Not sure I can put into words the feeling I had at that moment. Looking at your life beating and realizing that if all of a sudden it quits, you will be no more - hmmm, beyond words. Life really is a fragile thing. I don't think about that very often. I am grateful for things like echocardiograms that give visual pictures of just how moment-by-moment, beat-by-beat life actually is. 

But then another thought hit me as I stared at my beating heart: "Jesus had one of those." The One through whom "all things were made" (John 1:3) - that One took on the frailty and fragility of a life that lasts from beat to beat. Get this, friends: the One that started the very first heart beating, (Genesis 2:7) -  the One who authored life became the life he authored, with all of its fragility - hmmm, beyond words. That is what Christmas is really all about - the One who made us becoming one of us - with all that means, including a beating heart like the one I was looking at on the screen in front of me.

Why would God do that? Why would God subject himself to the frailty and fragility that plagues our human journey? Maybe a few verses from Hebrews will suggest some answers:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (2:9-10)

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (4:15-16)

God became one of us - through the beating heart of an infant they called Jesus - so that we can confidently connect to the One who made us and know that He knows what life as a human being is really like - all the way to death itself. To quote Linus, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown..."

Think on these things, friends, and as always...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.

 

 



Comments

12-09-2014 at 6:26 PM
DeWayne B. Greenlee
PTL - God is Good!
12-09-2014 at 5:47 PM
Tracy Jamieson
Thanks, I needed that.
12-09-2014 at 5:30 PM
Dick Shaner
Merry Christmas, David and family! Prayers for a healthy Christ UM Church family Christmas!
12-09-2014 at 5:30 PM
Colleen.Holtz
Also happy that your heart is okay and thankful that God speaks to us through you. Even on a table during an echocardiogram!
12-09-2014 at 12:36 PM
Lynn Harriger
life is a fragile blessing from God, I often think about the magnificents of the human body!
12-09-2014 at 12:27 PM
Jodi Lewis
God is good - and I am glad your heart and you are well. Thank for you for sharing
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