Straight on Through

Things in my head and now …. not

Renaissance Festival

Each fall in Shakopee, MN. the renaissance festival arrives in all its colors and glory.  This past weekend, myself, Karol, Justin, and his friend Katie, drove the 2 1/2 hours together to experience this event.

The Renaissance is filled with people dressed in renaissance wear.  They use the accent, they tell jokes… There are jugglers, and comedians, they have skits, and live jousting, and incredible food.  There is a King and Queen and if you wish, you can pay to have a royal meal with them.  They have a large area for kids, games, and experiences.  Children can joust, see the petting zoo, ride on rides, and they can go on the giant rocking horse.

Renaissance is filled with quick witted actors and I love that.  The first time I went many years ago, a Renaissance man was in a tree as we walked down a path to enter the festival.  “Hey!  Hey!” he hollared down at me. 

 “What?” I asked, being a total renaissance rookie.

“Don’t step in it!”

I looked around.  “Don’t step in what?”

“DONT STEP IN IT!”  He said intensly, as though fearing for my life.

Then I seen it.  On the ground, in the dirt, was writtin the word ‘it.’  From there I was hooked.

So Renaissance isn’t an every year experience.  The acts are pretty much the same each year.  Some of the shows you just want to avoid – period.  I enjoy going with first timers because to see if through there eyes is fun.  My favorite part now is being able to see the girl who plays the fairy.  She plays her part so well and children just surround her.

This weekend concludes the festival for this year.  It will return again next September.

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Renaissance Festival

Townhall Meeting – A Recipe for Great Ministry

a1.jpgIf you were at last nights TJN town hall meeting you will clearly agree with what I am about to say. If you missed it, you really missed one incredible meeting.

Coming into the meeting and taking a back row seat, I found each speaker to be incredibly focused and clear about their upcoming vision for their ministries.

Youth Leader Aaron Sutton spoke on the plans for the Youth Group and had an outline of what the next three months will look like in Youth Ministry. He finished his talk with a song that had come to him regarding the direction the Youth will go in this season. I was in awe of this incredible outline that will bring the teenagers to a deeper level with God, as well as with each other through fellowship.

Children’s Church Pastor, Brett Richmond spoke about an exciting new addition to Children’s Church called Quest. Quest will be a 6 week experience to help guide elementary age children on their spiritual journey. Listening to Brett’s strong vision for the future was a testimony of just how far TJN has come.

Julie Steiff who is the Church Director of Adult Education shared with us a year full of classes to bring our steps closer to God’s. The Adult Ministry mission is: Ephesians 4:13:

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

The line up for Adult Ministry was a great fit for those at all levels of their faith walk. Julie shared a clear picture of how each class is a step towards God’s will for us.

Joel Keller discussed the plans for Small Groups in a way that brought fellowship truly to the forefront. I love that small groups are to being formed through people with common interests and hobbies to build a closer knit group. The small group fair coming up October 7th.

Carl Mills from the Sports Ministry once again showed strong activity in that area of ministry. With more than 150 people participating in the various sports that the Sports Ministry offers, the goals and upcoming events of this group are big and attainable. Carl delivers a well planned out season with opportunities for anyone to come and be a part of football, floor hockey, volleyball, and more.

Tim Lake brought an incredible message about God sized plans – and witnessing something come together that was so big that we know we had nothing to do with it and it was all God. Tim discussed how TJN will go “community” this October 27th with the Make A Difference Day. For us that will mean a day of raking yards throughout the town, and filling bags of food for children in Honduras who are in an area that has called a food emergency. This will be an extremely important day for us as well as our friends and neighbors to join in on a truly remarkable event.

Toss all this in with a dash of prayer, a cup of worship, and a few tablespoons of Pastor Mark’s philosophy on Purpose Driven Church; and you have a great recipe for TJN’s next season.

How exciting is that!

September 27, 2007 Posted by | TJN kibbles and bits | Comments Off on Townhall Meeting – A Recipe for Great Ministry

Soon by Jerry Jenkins

Late this afternoon I finished the book Soon by Jerry Jenkins.  This book is a prequel to Left Behind and I was curious about what direction it would take.

I was surprized to find that this book did not use the characters we have grown to love.  There is no Rayford, no Chloe, or Buck in this book.  Instead we meet Paul Stepola who is an agent for the National Peace Organization and the story takes place in 36 P3, after World War III. 

At first, wrapping my mind around how different this book flows from the Left behind Series was a challenge.   I struggled with the changes the book describes in the aftermath of the war.  There are 7 States, not 50.  Christmas is now Wintermas.  Religion is a crime, and Paul’s job is to extinguish any groups that practice Faith.

The comparrison’s to Paul and his desire to wipe out Christians is an obvious parallel to Paul in the Bible – and yes, without giving too much away in the book…. the similarities continue. 

As I continued the reading I became more interested in the characters and the outcome.  As I came to the last page I felt left with a lot of unanswered questions; then I looked on line and found out why – Soon is a trilogy.  Be warned, this is a three book commitment.  Book #2 is Silenced, and Book #3 is Shadowed

So… now I have to decide… continue the Trilogy?  Most likely.  I do have enough invested to want to know the outcome for Paul, his wife, his father in law,the Underground Christians, and of course, the missing water…

There you have it.  I would rate this book about a 3.2 out of 5.  An average read, interesting, but not fantastic… not as good as The Left Behind Series, but I am only on book 1, so that may change.

Have opinions on this review?  Feel free to comment.  Want to read the book?  It is in the TJN library, come and check it out.

In the meantime… Read On.

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Book Thoughts | Comments Off on Soon by Jerry Jenkins

Going Public…

Through much harrassment (is there a hot line I should know about?) from my fellow staff at TJN (who shall remain anonymous unless someone asks me who and I will spill all) I am taking my blog public. (Pause here for dramatic effect)

I started blogging a few months ago as a trial run. I have always enjoyed writing, just not sure if I wanted everyone reading it. I am still not sure, but feel if you don’t already know that I can be pretty crazy – you are about to find out.

I am who I am, and while some things I say on this blog I read to myself and think, “Dang… that’s kind of good,” others will probably make you shake your head in wonder of my stability. (I read those too – and can agree with your concerns).

Bottom line – I like adventure, and this to me is one. So as my favorite Pastors would say – read on at your own risk. All opinions that are written here are 100% mine and I am 100% responsible for what I say… or errr… type. Yeah, type.

Feel free to leave comments – I do love the comments.

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Insane Moments | 1 Comment

Monday Mind Dump

  • Crazy busy weekend… still recovering
  • Friday’s peony Funeral was a trap!  I was fooled – big time.
  • ACTS event was fun!  I learned to put shingles on a roof this weekend.
  • Dinner with the Lane’s Saturday evening – priceless.  : )
  • Renaissance festival on Sunday was  fun with Karol, Katie, and Justin.
  • VERY WARM Sunday!
  • Al taught Justin to play Cribbage this weekend.  In the middle of the game, Brad delivered pizza to our house and sat down and joined the game.  I had my Norman Rockwell moment fix right there.  My heart swelled two sizes…
  • I plan to finish the book ‘Soon“, soon.
  • I hear I missed another incredible service… I will have to listen to it on line.
  • Today – I spin.
  • Lunch today with Julie about Interfaith Hospitality Network updates.
  • Tried to watch some of 24 last night but pulled an “Al” and fell asleep in the chair.

September 24, 2007 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Monday Mind Dump

Tales From The Roof Top

Today was a beautiful day for our last ACTS event (All Called To Serve).  Starting next month it will be called ARK (Acts of Random Kindness).

Today we were at Aaron Sutton’s home to assist in the expansion of his driveway and help on an addition he is putting on his home.  A great team of people showed up to help shingle the addition, cut down trees, make a burn pile, and widen the driveway.

The awesome thing about ACTS (or ARK) is all the ways you can serve as well as make new acquaintances and take existing ones to different levels.  For instance, did I ever visualize that one day I would learn how to shingle a roof from Al Preisinger?  Or share that rooftop experience with Elizabeth Bjorlo and Katie Klasky?  I also did not foresee Al breaking out into a song about a hammer… but he did.

My hubby took the morning and early afternoon off from bidding to help with bigger projects that called for bigger tools, and Lance, Julie, and Kayla, all came to lend a hand.  Karol came with Branden, Natalie and Hannah Klasky were hauling brush to the pile too.

The joining of people through these events is probably my favorite part of our service projects.  I just love to watch people come together.

Today was a time to see Aaron’s vision and be a part of it.  How super cool is that?  It is like digging in the cereal box and getting the much coveted secret decoder ring.  Yup, that cool.

Thanks Aaron and Kris for allowing us to share in this incredible experience with you.

September 23, 2007 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Tales From The Roof Top

Peony Funeral…

I have a group of friends I used to work with that like to get together to catch up once in awhile.  We usually plan fun events like The Spicer Castle Murder Mystery, Wisconsin Dells, staying over night at the Mansions in Little Falls, weekend get aways…

One of these friends has a way with flowers and every year has a beautiful yard filled with color.  This year she lost some of these flowers to the large storm last month and we decided to get together to have a Peony Funeral. 

Through conversations, we had decided to wear black and each bring a potluck item.  It was just going to be an excuse to get together, but another fun one to add to our memory book. 

So the four of us gathered late yesterday afternoon in Motley, Minnesota, around a black shoe box as we paid our last respects to the Peony family.  My friends said that I could open the box to see the flowers.  I did – and they looked an awful lot like prunes on stems.  Wait… THEY WERE PRUNES ON STEMS!

Then I read the note – “Happy Surprise 40th Birthday Sheila!”

The whole thing was a joke that I fell for – hook, line, and sinker… a way to get me to dress in black – and basically morn my youth.  Grrr…….. they so got me!

My birthday was in February, but we were on our family vacation during that time.  I thought I was quite smart planning to be out of state for my 40th… no way anyone could bust me about the 4 – 0 if I wasn’t around.  Doh!  So wrong.

My so called friends, had planned this so far out they knew I would never put it together.  So, helping to plan my own party by suggesting the black… I walk back into the house which has quickly been converted into black balloons, a black cake with a tomb stone that reads “Here Lies Sheila’s Youth”, black m & m’s, and black suckers…

Of course, we have the potluck items so we eat, we laugh, and we catch up.  I was totally fooled.  You know I am already planning for whoever is the next 40.

September 22, 2007 Posted by | Insane Moments | 1 Comment


When I was about 19, I had a great core group of friends. One of my buddies at the time was Troy. I remember Troy once said that the way to tell if a woman was truly beautiful was when her hair was all wet and and slicked back, not styled, and no make up – like fresh from the shower.

I don’t know why that has stuck with me, but through the years I have occasionally thought about that comment. This morning while I was getting ready to go to coffee – hair still wet, I thought about it again.

Looking in the mirror – my reflection can show many things. When I have tired eyes, or I am stressed, that shows up not only in the mirror, but to others who see me throughout the day as well. What I find interesting are the characteristics of faith that seem to have etched their way into that reflection… when did that show up? And peace… is it possible to see peace on someone? Yes.

These characteristics carry their own beauty. I love that. Not hard eyes from a life of past darkness… but warmth and compassion. God’s love shows up, not only in us… but on us.

Look for yourself… what do you see?


September 20, 2007 Posted by | Devotion in motion | 2 Comments

Who’s the “Hottie” in the office?

If you have been in the office lately, you may have seen the picture of the shirtless man by my computer.  This is Mario.

In Honduras, in March of this year, I met Mario while working on the nursery for AFE (the ministry to take children out of the dump).  Mario was one of the guys who worked at the site each day.  While he spoke no english, his one word to me each morning was, “Cheala” (the “Sh” sound to them always comes out like “Ch”).  As my Spanish is no where near bragging quality, my one word to him every morning in response would be, “Mario!”

Every once in a while he would run a lot of dialouge by me that he would desperately try to have me understand and since I did not have a clue… I would just reply, “No comprende, Mario”.  That really cracked him up. 

The days after I returned to the states, Bob and Char who were still in Honduras, later reported that Mario would point to the sky referring to the planes and say , “Cheala?”

When Bob and Char went to return a few weeks after our team did, they were taking pictures and asked Mario for one.  Char reported he quickly took his shirt off to show his muscles.  She thought that was incredibly funny and to add to her humor, she brought the picture to me.  I too thought that was pretty funny, so I put him in the office… my buddy from Honduras.

So there it is.  The story of Mario.  Stop in the office and say “hi” sometime. 


September 18, 2007 Posted by | Insane Moments | 1 Comment

Monday Mind Dump (STOLEN Blog) Let’s call it like it is…

  • God is good… all the time.
  • Spin Class – on schedule for Wednesday…
  • planning to hurt on Thursday
  • On Sunday Al and I invited th Bauer’s into our home for the final episodes of Season 1, 24. Jack, Terri, and Kim came in – but only Jack and Kim left… alive.
  • Al’s birthday was Friday – good time at dinner with Brad, Justin, and Chance
  • Al’s birthday gifts were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Peanut Butter M & M’s, and the first three seasons of 24.
  • I am currently reading the book, SOON, by Jerry Jenkins (The prequel to the left behind Series)
  • I will “soon” be reading The Screwtape Letter’s by C.S. Lewis, for my October book club read.
  • Today I am finishing the 2005 time cards and hopefully concluding my one on one time with them.
  • Saturday was fun – great birthday party for Kenny and great time at Greg’s retirement party.
  • Sunday was a beautiful day…
  • Hanging with Brad is such a good time – I wish we seen him more
  • Chance cracks me up. What a card!
  • Justin is a wonderful kid – I am so proud of him.
  • I WASTED Chance in a game of Pirates Of The Caribbean LIFE! Bragging rights are totally mine! Doing the victory dance… doing the victory dance…
  • I need to get my mind wrapped around the upcoming Missions Banquet.
  • On Friday I have a peony funeral to attend… I think I’ll bring a hot dish
  • I need to put together a team for Saturdays ACTS event
  • Sunday I get to hang with Karol Kruse, Justin, and Katie at Renaissance (weather permitting)

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Just me | Comments Off on Monday Mind Dump (STOLEN Blog) Let’s call it like it is…