Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 13 Favorite Photos of 2013

Platte River State Park after five inches of snow. So many pictures to
choose from. But this one is so simple. 

Sunrise at the top of Mount Haleakalā. This mountain is over 10,000 feet
above sea level. We had to get up at 3:15 and drive through dozens of
mountain passes to get to the top. Thirty-five degree weather greeted us
at the top. The view was worth it.

The sea turtles were just outside our hotel on Kā'anapali Beach. This was 
an amazing experience.

Amber and me after the wedding I did in Maui. One of my all-time
favorite photos.

We welcomed Esther Finnestad to our family. This
was the day we brought her home from the breeder in
Iowa. She was eight weeks old in this photo. I took
about forty pictures of her this day. This was the only
good one.

We stopped at my home for five years on the way back to
Omaha from Minneapolis.

David before his first dance recital.
I must have been getting ready for a wedding.

Benjamin kayaking off into the sunset at the lake. My favorite lake
photo this year.

The boys solving the world's problems on the dock.

Amish tubing. It's so amazing watching the boys be boys and
entertain themselves.

The only selfie to make the list. Me and my favorite running partner.

Benjamin photo bombing Colin Montgomerie at the
U.S. Senior Open at the Omaha Country Club. I love his freckles.

Benjamin climbing the hills at Platte River State Park. 

Hundreds of families made the purchase of these 23.3 acres possible.
This farm has been feeding hungry people for a century. From now on it will
feed the souls of people in Omaha and beyond.

The boys and their retro Christmas clothing. The smile on David's
face is priceless. Benjamin's serious look is too.

This one will never happen again: a pay phone, a classic car,
and horses in the background.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things to Stop Doing in 2014

It’s almost a new year. Most of us usually come up with a few things we want to do so that we have a better life: Exercising regularly, spending more time with family, and getting organized. All are noble endeavors. But true transformation happens when we stop doing certain things. Think about the possibilities of what your life would look like if you stopped doing the following:

Stop neglecting your relationship with God. Use God’s wisdom and resources to heal you and become the person God created you to become.

Stop holding on to your past failures and hurts. You have failed before and you have been hurt. Your past will not define or predict your future unless you let it. Stop letting it. Instead of lamenting over past failures and hurts, learn from them, and do your part to make tomorrow better than yesterday. 

Stop running from problems and dysfunctional behaviors. Avoiding real issues that need to be dealt with are not going to move you forward in life. Prioritize and tackle your problems one at a time. 

Stop pleasing people. It is not possible to fully and continually please another person. So stop trying. Do you really want an imperfect person’s perceptions about you to determine your self-worth? Listen to people. Love people. But don’t let others determine your value and happiness. 

Stop being indecisive about what you want. Find your passion and pursue it. Today. There are only so many tomorrows. A year from now, you will wish you had started today. Define and chase your dreams.

Stop being afraid to take a few risks. Your greatest regrets in life will not be times you have fallen or not succeeded. Your greatest regrets in life will be the opportunities you didn’t take. You can get up from a fall. You can’t make a shot you don’t take. 

Stop being ungrateful. Envy and jealousy are cruel criminals. They steal today’s blessings like no other. Every moment you spend practicing envy and jealousy—you miss the beauty of life’s many blessings. And you have many of them! You will not experience contentment and joy if you aren’t intentionally thankful for your current blessings. 

Stop not living in the present. Many of life’s greatest moments are spontaneous and not planned. We can plan and create environments where great moments happen, but we must live in the present to experience the great moment. We were not created to be spectators in this once-to-be-lived-and-never-to-be-repeated life. We are participants. So participate. Today. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Christmas Prayer

Almighty God, 

You have given us your Son. You have given us Yourself. 
Emmanuel. God is with us. 

When we are angry, afraid, alone, and anxious. 
You are with us. 

When we celebrate, are courageous, live in community, and are calm. 
You are with us.

Let this Christmas be our yearly reminder of your grace: 

You give us the Hope of the World. 
Bring hope to the world and to our world. 
With a baby, you brought joy into the world on this day so many years ago.
Help us accept this gift and share it with others. 
You give us love in the person of Jesus. 
Help us to experience your love and to be more loving to others and to ourselves. 
You give us the Prince of Peace. 
Bring peace to the world and to our world. 
You give us the Resurrection and the Life. 
Raise us to new levels of life. 

Through the piles of presents – remind us of your presence. 
You are with us. 
In our brokenness and busyness – remind us who you are and whose we are.
You are with us. 

Jesus is the Light of the World! 
Thank you for lighting our path. 
Help us to be a reflection of his light to the world. 

You have given us your Son. You have given us Yourself. 
Emmanuel. God is with us. 
Encourage us to accept and embrace this most wonderful gift. 
Teach us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. 

Christmas. This day and because of this day. 

You are with us. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Photos from Christmas Eve

Every year I take communion to people who can't make it to worship on
Christmas Eve. Such a blessing to be able to do this.

After the Christmas Eve Worship Experiences

The boys being boys

Ali singing Breath of Heaven

Giving the message at the 4:00 service

Singing Silent Night at 5:30