One of the jewels of the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation system is the Lake Shawnee Trail. Nearly every time I go for a run, I use it in some way. At times, a short loop around Tinman Circle and others around the entire lake with an extension down Berryton Road to reach my target mileage.
Encountering others on the trail is common. Whether it is walkers, bikers, runners, couples, children, or animals, the path is utilized by a wide variety of people. I will make a point to say “Hello” or “Good morning” to people I encounter. It’s about 50-50 on whether I get a response. Some people reply with a similar greeting and others are lost in thought, their headphones, or even a book. Last week, someone greeted me in a way that was new to me.
A smile, thumbs up, and “Good Job!”
Wait, what? This was unexpected. I am glad to get a response, much less cheering on my efforts. There was no way this person could have known my training plan, energy expended, or even how far I was going that particular day. Despite all of these things, the choice of greeting was an encouragement.
Whether it is a colleague with whom you work closely on shared goals, a family member or a random stranger on the path, there is a superpower in offering encouragement to others. Thanks to this encounter, I will be making an effort to provide support to others.
It is a season of transition. I have had the opportunity to serve as the preacher at Berryton United Methodist Church since July 1, 2018. On Sunday, I announced during worship that I have received a new appointment from Bishop Ruben Saenz to serve as the pastor at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka beginning July 1, 2019. I will miss the good people of Berryton and am grateful for the care our family has received from both the church and community. I look forward to meeting the people of Susanna Wesley, learning more about the ministries, traditions, hopes, and dreams of the congregation, and continuing to reach the mission field with the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ. I am also looking forward to learning from Rev. Maria Campbell who has served Susanna Wesley faithfully these past seven years!
The Staff Parish team at Berryton UMC has been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Rev. Kay Scarbrough, about who will be appointed to serve as the next pastor. We will share that news when it is available. Will you take a moment to pray for our community, congregations, Bishop, District Superintendents and our family?
If you would like to get or stay connected with me, here are a few ways:
Website – You can follow my personal website and blog right here at www.AndrewConard.com. I have written on a wide variety of topics over the years and will continue to write in the days ahead
It is not often that I confess in writing. Most often, I confess verbally.
There is something different about putting your sins down on paper. Seeing the words on the page makes them more tangible and seem more ugly. The sheet of paper is filled up with things of which I am not proud in my life. Yet, it is also cleansing. There is something powerful in naming the places where I have messed up and am in need of God’s grace.
I have written a prayer of confession on Ash Wednesday for thirteen years. Sometimes, it seems, that I find myself writing some of the same things from year to year. All too often, I seem to cling unintentionally to some of the thoughts, words, and actions which separate me from God and other people. There are areas where God has been at work to help me make progress and there are new areas which I have not found necessary to confess in years past. All of this is part of the journey of going on toward perfect love of God and neighbor.
Each of the years that I have written my prayers in this way, I have also had the opportunity to place them in a fire to be burned. This is a cleansing ritual and helps me begin the journey toward Easter. I am so glad to be on this journey again.
Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
As I was dropping our children off at school, One Day by Matisyahu came up on shuffle on the playlist to which we were listening. They headed off for their school day and I drove home with tears rolling down my cheeks. Here is the music video:
The song evoked for me memories of time with our children, wanting the best for them in the future, echoes of grief from my Dad’s death, and a deep desire for peace – especially in light of the ferocious conflict at General Conference.
When the tears came I was first surprised, then grateful. They were cleansing, almost refreshing, and helped restore some places of my soul that I had not been aware were stuck.
Last year, I downloaded and began using 1 Second Everyday – Your Video Diary. I have found it to be a meaningful way for me to reflect on and remember the days of my life. So, here it is for 2018. Enjoy.