Good morning from Albuquerque, New Mexico. It took me a while to learn how to spell the name of this city. Actually, for the longest time I just wrote ABQ, which was the designation given by Amtrak (and the airlines I think) so that it can show up on your tickets. St. Louis is STL. Chicago is CHI. This city is ABQ (I didn't feel like typing it again). It is brutally hot here, over 100 degrees, but it is a dry heat. Which means it is still hot. The air is hot. The wind is hot. Everything is hot. It is hard to cool a building with it being so hot. But it will get better. Down into the 90's but they say that the humidity might come up. What that means is it might get to 20% or maybe 25% humidity. They are struggling to understand how that will affect them. Even the weather man was talking about how it would affect their swamp coolers (I guess that is a form of southwestern air conditioning) and their houses might not get as cool. Every area has it's weather woes. I do miss our Troy weather. I know what to expect. This is new to me.
We are here for the LWML convention. That is the Lutheran Women's Missionary League convention in case you wondered. IT is nice to see so many Lutheran women in one place. I heard 3,400+ in attendance. Last night (Thursday) was the opening service. The convention center was packed with folks as we received Word and Sacrament ministry. Always amazing to worship in such a large crowd. I haven't read this morning how many attended that service but the convention floor was packed. I think many Lutherans from around ABQ must have attended as well. It was great to hear the Word, receive the Supper and sing the good old Lutheran songs. The choir was amazing. Sang 3 great pieces. I was amazed at how they were able to pull that together with only 1 practice. Wow! Way to go ladies.
Penny and I took the train to New Mexico. The Southwest Chief left Chicago on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. (right on time) and traveled over the next 25 hours to ABQ. We were on time all the way until we reached Lamy and then it fell apart. With track work being done, there were slow orders (I would rather go slow than take the chance that the work wasn't completed correctly) from Lamy to just NE of ABQ. So we had to wait for the eastbound Chief to arrive at Lamy before we could continue. It was about an hour late. Then we rolled through the area of track work. Finally we arrived to the stretch of track owned by the New Mexico Rail Runner (the form of metro, commuter service). They put us on a siding while we waited for an inbound Railrunner to pass and then for an outbound one to pass. We sat there for just shy of an hour, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And...finally it passed and we started moving. Hurrah! Then we had to wait for another one to pass so we stopped for another length of time (I forget how long). Sitting there taught us patience. Real patience. Because we could do nothing to change the situation.
Have you ever been there? In a situation where you could do nothing to change it? That is a struggle, isn't it? We like to take control. To do something to make our situation better. We want to act! That is probably why God's grace is so tough for us to receive. We want to do something for it. We want to work out our salvation is some way. So instead of trusting in Christ alone, we trust in Christ and our works. What works? How we act, what we say, the money we give, the attitude of our lives and so on. We want God to look at us and say, "You deserve My love. Here, let me give it to you." But He doesn't. There is nothing we can do to earn His love, nothing we can do to deserve His grace, nothing we can do. Period. Nothing. No matter how pious we act or how nice we are to the cab driver, none of that earns our salvation. No matter how I sit and endure the wait on the train, no matter how quietly I grumble to myself or to Penny, I still don't deserve His love, His grace, His presence in my life.
He just gives it. He gives it to me even though I don't deserve it. And I don't. Even while I think I am a good person, I am not. I was upset at the New Mexico Rail Runner dispatcher for making us wait. I was upset that my time table was messed up. I was upset with other people that got in my way. I can't count the number of times I have unkind thought about people for situations that were beyond my control or were in my control and I still had bad thoughts. I think about what I would like to say and I don't, but I am still wrong. I look at situations and know that what was done is wrong and I want to blast someone, but I don't. But that desire in my heart was just as bad. And O how the heart wanted to do just that...I give praise to the Holy Spirit for helping me in my time of need to say and do the right things. Only through His power does that work. I realize once again, I am not worthy of God's love.
He still gives it to me. All praise be to Him for His true love and grace for me. And for you!
Back to ABQ. So we enjoyed yesterday. Spent some time in the morning at the Old Town Albuquerque. Nice southwestern shops, felt like old town. Wonderful meal though I had doubted when I heard the name of the place - Church Street Cafe. I thought that it sounded more like a place to get a so-so meal that was more in line with a Denny's or something. But the mexican meal was great. I have to say, I have enjoyed the food so far. Even Q Burger with the mesQuite bison burger was good.
Today the LWML convention continues. Yesterday I was on stage at the delegate orientation, being introduced. Why? Well I am from Troy, IL. Who shouldn't know a little known preacher from Troy? No, actually I am on the ballot for national pastoral adviser/counselor. Exciting stuff. Saturday is the elections. We will see were that goes. Penny posted a picture of me waving from the stage. Felt really strange yet exciting. The parade of banners is this morning and bible study and other things.
Today is our 33 wedding anniversary! 33 years ago Penny and I shared our vows. I am thankful for each of those years and for her love. I know it has been a rugged road but she has given me love and support that is beyond imagination. She is really a special lady. I know that some don't think so but they are wrong. Her faith, her commitment to sharing the Lord, her love for children puts most of us to shame and I think it is also unnerving for some. She is an amazing lady and I love her more now that I did 33 years ago. And I think she is prettier now than then. Thank You Lord for leading us through these 33 years. Let's see if we get another 33!
That is all from ABQ for now. I will let you know what all continues to happen. Praying all is well with you. Moving forward in Christ, all things are possible. His is the name above all names. His name is what fills our hearts and lives now and forever.