Friday, June 8, 2018

Outstanding String Musician

Last night was my youngest's final Elementary School strings concert. On to Middle School next year! At the end of the concert, she received the Outstanding String Musician trophy from her director. Yeah! Quite the accomplishment. She also has already auditioned for the Middle School orchestra and has been placed in the top group there. Well done, daughter Peasant! :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

New Chapter

Hope you all had a good weekend and Memorial Day. I spent yesterday helping my newly-minted-college-graduate son (see previous entry for pics of that!) move into his new apartment. He is now living about 30 minutes west of us, close to where he will be working. He found a nice, new apartment building. It kind of has an industrial feel in the hallways of the building, but the interior is nice and modern. Wide hallways, high ceilings. He chose well.

I forgot to take any pictures! We were too busy carrying and putting together furniture. But we got it almost all done and now he just basically has some boxes left to unpack and to settle in. He still has a few weeks to do so before starting his new job. So all-in-all, a good day for us as we begin a new chapter in our lives.

I suppose all parents go through it, but now we have a house much too big for what we need! Five years ago, we moved into a larger house, primarily because we needed a dedicated space for my father who was moving in with us. He stayed with us for about three years before beginning to need more care than we could provide. So he moved to a Memory Care place very close to us. We still go see him every day, but he is no longer in our house. I was able to move my study/office from the basement up to the room he used to occupy.

Now with my son moved out, another room has freed up. My college-aged daughter is also mostly out of the house, having an off-campus apartment where she spends most of her time, even when school is not in session. We've kept her room largely in tact, but soon it will be open, too. So, we can set up a guest room or two, or maybe now move my wife's desk up from the basement into one of those rooms for her office. That might be nice for her.

We'll still get to see our son every week (or mostly) in church - that'll be nice. And we still have our youngest daughter home for six more years before she is ready for college - that'll help keep us young! :-)

Some people say changes like this are sad - and I guess they are a little. When I see pictures of my kids when they were little and remember those days, there's a twinge. But these are good days, too. Happy days, proud days, to see your children grow and mature and become their own person. And I look forward to seeing how my son continues to grow and develop and become his own man in the future. His apartment and furnishings are already much nicer than mine were starting out! :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


This weekend we were up in Springfield, MA for the graduation of my son from Western New England University. He received a BS in Computer Engineering and won the award for the highest GPA in his major. It was a very nice weekend. Here are some pictures and a little video of his receiving his degree . . .

With my daughters and sister,
waiting for the College of Engineering awards presentation to begin . . .
(Yes, my wife was there! She was on the other side of me.)

(The family photo with everyone together is on someone else's phone!
I'll post when I receive it. ;-)

One of the cool things they did at the end of the commencement was that all the professors formed two lines down the aisle for all the new graduates to walk down between, as a last tribute to them as they depart. That's what this picture shows, though it's probably hard to tell. It was cool though. :-)

Here's the video of Rob getting his degree . . .

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Walk-Run-Ride for Life Update

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me and our Lutherans for Life team for the Walk-Run-Ride for Life this year. The event was a great success!

The Lutherans for Life team raised $3,045, which was good enough for 4th place in the team competition . . . only $15 short of 2nd place! (If only we'd had one more sponsor . . . :-)

Personally, you all exceeded my goal of $1,000 and sponsored me for $1,320!

And overall, the goal was to raise $70,000 for the Pregnancy Center, but your generosity rocketed the money received to $81,000!

So thank you again for all who showed the love of Christ and help the fathers, mothers, and babies here in Northern Virginia. And look for us again next year, and maybe we can put the Lutherans on top in speaking for and support LIFE!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

+ Rest in Peace, My Brother +

Well, another brother in office in my District has been called home to glory, though this one not quite as unexpected.

Picture from 90th birthday party

Luther was over 90 years old, yet still actively serving his congregation as their sole pastor! He just refused to retire and wanted to keep serving his flock. And he faithfully did, though his health had its ups and downs, as you would expect. He was truly a kind and gentle soul, and a great example and role model for a young pastor like me when I came into the District.

At our District Convention, we had our Service of Memorial for all those in the District who had died the last triennium on Saturday night. Well, on Sunday morning we all heard the news that God had called Luther home that very night. Great sadness, yet also great joy in knowing that our brother now rests from his labors.

Sadly, just like my last brother's funeral, I won't be able to attend this one either. My schedule is too tight and the cost just too much. I keep expecting flights from DC to Chicago to be cheap, but they aren't anymore - at least, not last minute ones. So rest in peace, my brother. I will see you again on the Last Day.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

District Convention - Day 4

Today we finished up all the convention business. Had some more elections, considered all the resolutions, and heard the final reports. It was a long day, but good to get everything done - that means I can leave earlier than expected tomorrow and get home sooner! :-)

Yesterday was the Synodical President's report and Q&A session. He's a good speaker. Not many questions asked him. Last night was the Memorial Service for those from the District who died this past triennium - including one of our District President Emeriti. His wife was able to come up from Florida to be with us for the service and it was good to see her again.

Lots of folks had to leave a little early yesterday and so won't be here today - that's too bad. But good reasons. So, two services today with brunch in between, then the long drive home. It'll be good to get home and get some rest!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

District Convention - Days 2-3

Day two here in Cleveland was Day 1 of the Convention. The Board met in the morning and spent the afternoon connecting with people and preparing for the convention. My lay delegate had his pre-seminary interview (which he passed and was accepted later that day). But the day was spent mostly in conversation and preparation. The Opening Service was Thursday night and went well. Stayed up WAY too late talking and visiting, so was pretty tired for . . .

Day 2 of the Convention. Began by passing a revision of the District by-laws, which went much smoother and quicker than expected, honestly, probably because people hadn't read them and weren't prepared. After that, reports from the District President, Vice Presidents and Circuit Visitors were all quickly taken care of, so our Circuit Forums could meet - each circuit electing their Circuit Visitor for the next three years, and then also their delegates and alternate delegates for the Synodical Convention next year. As expected, I was re-elected as Circuit Visitor, but then (not so expected) I was also elected as the delegate to the Synodical Convention.

After lunch, we were able to begin the elections - a whole day ahead of time, according to the schedule. (Though we really aren't following the schedule at all!) But everything has been going quicker than scheduled. First, we elected a new District President. That in itself wasn't shocking, but that it was on the first ballot was quite unexpected. Yes, I was on the ballot, but did not expect to be elected - I was working hard for the man who did win, Rev. Waldemar Vinovskis. He is a good choice and will do a good job. It was a shocking moment for the Convention and it took a little bit for them to catch their breath. After that, the VP elections then went smoothly, two of the three on the first ballot.

During the elections we heard a bunch of reports and also passed the District Work Program (read: budget) for the next three years. Then came dinner (we eat WAY too much here!) and the closing service. The evening was spent in fellowship and conversation - not as late as the first night, but still wanted to get to sleep a little sooner than I did!

The service thus far have been good. The guys who have preached have done a good job. Tomorrow will be the rest of the elections, the Synodical President's report, and resolutions.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

District Convention - Day 1

We're in Cleveland for the SELC District Convention. Drove here with my lay delegate yesterday. Pleasant conversation in the car, though it was rainy and drizzly for most of the drive. It's a bit colder here than in DC, so I wish I had brought along some warmer clothes!

Today is just a bunch of preliminary stuff. The District Board meets this morning, committees in the afternoon, and then the Opening Service tonight. My delegate will have his pre-Seminary interview this afternoon while the committees are meeting - the last thing he needs to get done to finish his application process. I'll use the afternoon to talk to folks, get some reading and writing done, and relax a bit.

As for the hotel, we're at the Marriott by the airport. You can tell it's an older building, but the rooms have been renovated and are pretty nice. The exercise room is big and well-equipped, and the machines actually are in good working order! (I've been to many a hotel where this is not the case.)

So not much to report yet . . .

Friday, April 20, 2018

You Know You Live in Washington . . .

. . . when "Light traffic in your area" means "Delays up to 29 minutes!"
(Yes, an actual screenshot of my phone!)

And . . .

. . . when walking in DC you find a store selling nesting dolls of Bill Clinton and the women he fooled around with!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Yes, They Did It Again!

Champions again! Second time in three years. Awesome. Just wish my Dad was in a little better state of mind so he could really enjoy this too. He is a Villanova alum from way back in the day, which is why we are Villanova fans. I didn't fill out any brackets this year - just didn't have time that week, but enjoyed watching the games. (Actually, while I saw most of the semi-final game on Friday night, I fell asleep for most of the second half on Monday! I woke up just in time for the final minute and the celebration. :-)

And the future looks bright  . . .  Here's to a couple more trophies . . .

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Story I Wish Was in the Bible . . .

On Easter, Paul told us that after His resurrection the Lord appeared to over 500 brothers at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6). I wish that story was in the Bible! Where did that happen? How? What happened? What was the reaction?

Another question for the next life . . .  :-)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Lent and Easter Reflections

What a glorious day yesterday, celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord. It just never gets old.

This was a rather weird Lenten season for me, though. Not the usual. I cannot tell you why. It just wasn't the same for me. Maybe because we are still not in our regular church building - 8 months out now! I never would have guessed that, that it would take that long. Maybe it was because of other busyness I had to attend to, and all the trips I wound up taking. Maybe it was just satan playing with me, pushing my buttons. I cannot tell you, just that it was somehow different for me this year. I wasn't even as busy this year - at least, during Holy Week. I usually have to go to the rental place and pick up some chairs, and then have to haul all our church stuff to where we will be having our Holy Week services. Didn't have to do that this year, since we've been in our "temporary" location for 8 months now (did I mention that?). We also didn't have a Good Friday noontime service this year. The woman who reserves that room for us has been recovering from illness and a stroke all the season of Lent and was unable to do that.

So I got to Holy Week this year, and it just didn't seem right. But Holy Week . . . that just put everything right again. :-) I love Holy Week, soaking in the Word all week, thinking, writing. This was weird too - usually I cannot write my Easter sermon until Saturday, after I have been through all the other services of Holy Week. But this year, I was able to write it on Friday morning. Again, not sure why. Just the way it was for me this year.

And then our Divine Service yesterday! Our keyboardist who played yesterday is just awesome. I love all our musicians, just she just has a way. Sadly, she and her husband will be leaving our congregation soon, beginning a new time of life. I will miss them! And I think I was probably one of only a handful of pastors in the United States who didn't use April Fools Day in my sermon! (Click here to listen.) But getting all the parts of the liturgy back from our liturgical Lenten fast, getting all the chanting back, the wonderful hymns and readings . . . just great.

So now another 7 weeks to celebrate our Lord's resurrection! Some things getting back to normal, some new ventures begun . . .

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

+ Rest in Peace, My Brother +

Not my familial brother, but my brother in the Office of the Holy Ministry, Rev. Chris Ongstad, was called home by our Lord suddenly this morning. A reminder to all of us that we know not the time when our Lord will call us, and that His ways are not our ways. Chris will be missed. Husband, father, and pastor. Third Vice President of the SELC District, its Webmaster (or web servant, as he liked to say), and past Board Secretary. Rest in peace, my brother. It was an honor to serve beside you. And I look forward to the resurrection of all flesh on the Last Day, and our reunion in heaven.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Walk-Run-Ride for Life Is Back!

I am again registered as a participant for the annual Walk-Run-Ride for Life to raise funds for our local Pregnancy Center - the Assist Pregnancy Center. Please sponsor me! I've set my goal really high this year to see if I can raise more. This Center does excellent work and is worth our support as they help mothers and fathers keep and care for their babies. Here's the link to my fundraising page - and if you'd like to join our team and help raise funds, you can do so through this link as well. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Surprise Party!

Yesterday was my dear wife's 50th birthday, so I decided to have a surprise party for her! The party was on Saturday and we had approx. 60 people come - family from out of town, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and church folks. It was a great day and went really well. Here are a few pictures . . .

Here's all the family who could make it. Laurie's parents (from Detroit), her brother and his family (from north of Pittsburgh), my sister (from Connecticut), the peasant kids (two came back from college just for this!), and of course, my wife and I inside the "5" and the "0." We had those big numbers made and took everyone's pictures with them. :-)

Yeah! Cake! (My brother-in-law and I being silly.)

Robert is a young man in our congregation who turned 5 the day before the party. So we reversed the numbers and held them up for him!
This is a "wordle" we made from the descriptions of Laurie we asked the people to write down. I think it came out really well. :-)

A great day for a great woman - a true gift from God to me.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Fly Eagles Fly!

Oh Yeah!

And how about a few more pics?

I had our Campus Ministry Divine Service at Patrick Henry College yesterday, but moved it up a couple of hours so I could get home in time for the game. It was a little dicey, since we have some wintry mix falling from the sky, including some freezing rain, but I made it okay. I only missed a bit of the first quarter and got to see the rest. :-)  What an exciting game! One punt the whole game, back and forth, and no defense! Until the end, at least. They stood up and held when it counted.

I feel badly for Carson Wentz, that he couldn't be a part of it. Hopefully he'll win one of his own. Wish I could be up there for the parade this week! Oh well. Philly Philly!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

March for Life 2018

Not as many folks I knew at the March this year. And it was a bit more chaotic at the beginning than usual. But the weather was better than usual and we eventually caught up with the main group, so all is good. If you went, I'm glad you did! If you did not, plan to come next year. If you're not from around DC and need assistance, just let me know. :-)

A couple of pictures . . .

The "green hats" on the move!

The LCMS at the Supreme Court.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Society of Saint Athanasius

Our first year seminarian and his wife, our fourth year seminarian and his wife, and our future seminarian and his wife?

Picture taken at. Rev. Dr. Arthur Just's home in Ft. Wayne, during a reception he hosted for those attending the symposia at the seminary this week. How neat to see them all together!

And if you want to know more about the Society of Saint Athanasius (SSA), click here and flip to page 28. Basically the SSA are pastors and congregations that pledge to support their seminary students and get them through seminary debt free. These seminarians then do the same for their seminarians, and on and on. I'll be happy to tell you more if you contact me. :-)

Just wish I was there enjoying the week with them . . .

Friday, January 12, 2018

Crazy Weather

OK, so how crazy is the weather in the DC area? Well, if you scroll down this blog, you'll see a screenshot of my phone which shows the temperature on Sunday, January 7th as 0 degrees. 0, as in zero, nada, zip, goose egg, no degrees at all, not even one.

Today? A mere five days later? Guess what the temperature is?

Crazy. Just crazy.
And tomorrow we'll be back down to freezing again.
[Sound of head shaking . . .]

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Good Quote

"The word of Christ is the testament, the elements the sacrament."

Kenneth Hagen, "From Testament to Covenant in the Early Sixteenth Century" 
in The Word Does Everything (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2016), 84.

"It may well signify, however, that just as this pledge of the promise of Christ is elevated in order that the people may thereby be inspired to faith, so the Word should be preached publicly to the people in order that everyone may hear the testament and see the pledge, and through both be attracted and aroused to faith and strengthened in it."

Martin Luther, "The Misuse of the Mass (1521)" in Luther's Works, Vol. 36: Word and Sacrament II
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 183.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Morning Coffee

Well, time for an update . . .

Now that the Christmas season is past and Epiphany is upon us, time to reflect a little . . .  It seems like Christmas went by so fast this year. Maybe that's because we really didn't have a 4th week of Advent, but just a couple of hours! It was a good Christmas, though, and nice having the family together and in church together. I know that as my children keep growing and getting older, those times will start getting less frequent.

My father has been staying healthy of late. That's good! We had a nice little Christmas celebration with him on Christmas night. He couldn't open his presents by himself this year - needed help. But he appreciated having us all there for a little while. Then after Christmas we started decorating the white board we have in his room (which we update every day with the day and date, so he'll know) with pictures of the 12 Days of Christmas. Here's the final result:

What do you think? :-) Some of the artwork is mine, some my wife's, and some my sister's. We got a little inventive at times! But it was fun.

We've also had quite the cold snap here in Northern Virginia. Normally our temperatures here are like a roller coaster, but the past couple of weeks has just been cold. Here is a screen shot from my phone yesterday:

Yup, ZERO degrees. Now, I'm not sure it was really quite that cold where I was - it didn't feel like zero. And while I know that for you guys in Minnesota and Chicago and the like, this isn't that big a deal, it IS here in NoVA.

In other news, we got the good news that the permits have been received for the repairs on our church building and work should begin imminently. So if they don't take too long, we might be able to get back in soon! That would be great.

Finally, some pictures from Christmastime . . .

With Mrs. Peasant at "Zoo Lights" at the National Zoo. My daughter's chorus sang there that night. If we look cold, it's because we are!

Our tree this year.

My girls.

Family Photo after Divine Service on Christmas Day.