Kayla's Korner

Kayla's Corner
News for and about the United Methodists of Cresco and Zion

December 2018

“My heart rejoices in the Lord. My strength rises up
in the Lord...The Lord he brings death, gives life,
takes down to the grave, and raises up...God raises
the poor from the dust, lifts up the needy from the
garbage pile. God sits them with officials, gives
them the seat of honor!” 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Advent is a wonderful time of the year! It is
a season of great joy and anticipation for what is to
come! We wait, sometimes patiently and
sometimes not, for the arrival of Christmas Day as
we celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord. Advent is
also a time of being alert to the presence of Christ
with us now. We look around us, and even in great
darkness we can see reflections of God's powerful
loving light.
This scripture is known as Hannah's song.
Usually we hear of Mary's song in which she
praises God after hearing the news that she will
give birth to a son who is to be the child of God.
Yet we forget that Hannah, not the mother of God
but of a great prophet, also sang a hymn of praise
to God when she heard the news that she too
would have a son. Both Mary and Hannah sing
praises that talk about not only the joy and
thanksgiving they have from God, but also of the
love of a God that is shown in the world. Both of
them describe God as rising up the poor and
feeding the hungry, of God smashing their enemies,
of being guarded by the strength of the Lord. Here
is Hannah, a strong woman who lived hundreds of
years before Mary, who sang almost an identical
song. It is no coincidence that these two women
would have similar experiences and similar songs
of joy.
They both are singing about a God who has
and always will be the God of justice and peace.
They both know that it is not by them, but by the
grace and love of God that the world will forever be
changed, and the light of Christ will grow and be
known throughout all of creation. Our strength is
found in the Lord who loves us and sends us his
love even when we least expect it.
Advent is learning to expect Christ in the
world and to wait in expectation of a God who is
just and loving; who has sent his son Jesus to
be the hope and beacon of light for all of
creation. We, like Hannah and Mary, must sing
songs of praise, because how can we not sing?
How can we stay silent when we have a light
that give us hope, peace, joy, and love to be
shared with others? How can you share the
Advent joy this season with others? How can
you reflect the light of Christ to all places of
darkness? Does your heart sing with gladness,
even in a time of anxious waiting? Do you
expect to see Christ this Advent?
Hannah and Mary were both great
women of faith whose trust in God was one that
saw light in the unexpected. Let this Advent
season be one of great expectation that Jesus
does love you and is present in your life and the
world. Let the Advent draw you closer to Christ
and to the only light strong enough to defeat hell
itself. Rejoice in the unexpected; let the light of
Christ shine and bring you hope!

Always praying for you!
Pastor Kayla

October 2018

“For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of
darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ...We are afflicted in every way,
but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to
despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down,
but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the
death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also
be made visible in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-12

October has always seemed like a strange
month for me in the midst of the beauty of fall
where leaves are changing, smells of pumpkin
spice and burning leaves are in the air,and the
temperature changes to a nice crisp air. However,
at the end of the month we are left with this ugly
Day of the Dead, or Halloween.
I must admit I have never been a fan of
Halloween, even as a kid. I like the idea of
dressing up and joining in the community festivities
and meeting neighbors and sharing food together,
even food that is not the best for you. Halloween
also comes with the idea that we have to be as
scary as possible. It is as if the goal is to be so
scared you can't sleep for a week! I do not like to
be scared. Maybe it's because in real life we go
through times that are scary and cause us great
fear; not necessarily by ghosts or goblins but by the
real threat of pain, hurt, and even the threat of
If life can be scary, I never thought it would
be fun just to scare myself for no reason. I tend to
spend as much time as I can in the light rather than
in places of darkness. It seems we cannot avoid
darkness. We are faced with challenges every day,
some worse than others. These challenges cause
us to forget who we are as a person. They distance

us from those we love and care for and paralyze us.
Fear is caused when we feel the risk of living
might be painful. We become paralyzed because it
seems easier to do nothing than to face that painful
risk with courage and hope.
Darkness is just as unavoidable as
Halloween which comes every year. We may not
like either of them, but at some point we must push
through that darkness with hope knowing the light
of Christ is with us. We are going to be afflicted,
but not crushed; struck down, but not destroyed.
In this season of fall when the days are
getting shorter and the nights are longer, we must
not fear but have courage that God is always with
us. Even in your darkest pain there is light, the
light of Christ. Let that be your courage so you
may brave any darkness. J.R.R. Tolkien writes in
The Two Towers, “Even darkness must pass. A
new day will come. And when the sun shines it will
shine out the clearer.”
Remember the light of Christ in all times of
fear and darkness, and know that you will make it
through and a new day will come.

Always praying for you,
Pastor Kayla

September 2018

“Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field
hands. These are the wages you stole from those
who harvested your fields. The cries of the
harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of
heavenly forces.”
James 5:4

September is the month in which we
acknowledge that summer is almost over and fall
has begun. We often look at Labor Day as that last
final get-together with family before everyone
becomes too busy again to be with one another
until Thanksgiving Day.

Labor Day began as a revolution for safe
and fair working environments. During the
Industrial Revolution, people working in many of the
factories had had enough of the abuse and started
a movement to change the laws regarding working
conditions, age limits, and fair wages for the
workers. Children were working in factories to help
pay the bills of the family. Most people were
working 12-hour days, 7 days a week, and not
getting paid much for all the work. Finally, tired of
all their struggles, the workers went on strike and
all stopped working. The day of that strike became
known as Labor Day which wasn't nationally
recognized as a holiday for several years.

It is an important day because it reminds us
that we are meant to love one another and care
about the well-being of all people. No matter what
type of job we have or where we work, people
should be able to work without getting sick due to
working conditions, and children should be in
school learning and growing, not working the same
job as an adult. We now have laws that protect
people and children from labor slavery.

Other counties still do not have laws that
protect their children or workers. In some countries

that lack work laws, children work instead of going to school.
The people still continue working long
hours in factories with no breaks or days off. Most
are not even paid minimum wage. Some larger
companies build factories overseas for this reason.
If workers are paid less, then they can charge less
for the products we buy. We don't think about what
we buy having an affect on others, but it does.

Labor Day is not just about hanging out with
our families, but it is acknowledging human worth in
all people and seeing each other as beloved
children of God. Labor Day is giving thanks that
people took a stand to defend the right for just
working conditions here so that our children can be
in school and be kids.

We celebrate Labor Day because all people
are of sacred worth. God hears the cries of his
people who have been treated unjustly and calls for
us to fight for justice of all people and creation. We
are not finished working for God's mission of
justice. There is so much more to do here and in
the rest of the world.

Let us not grow weary in our mission to love
others, but let us look at history and see how many
people have fought for justice for us today. Let us
continue in serving God by loving others and
fighting on their behalf.
Always praying for you!
Pastor Kayla

August 2018

“Friendship is born at that moment when one
person says to another: What! You too? I thought I
was the only one. Friendship is unnecessary, like
philosophy, like art..It has no survival value; rather it
is one of those things that give value to survival.”
C.S. Lewis

August is the month in which summer is
ending and school is beginning. For some that
means moving the older children to the dorm rooms
or new apartments for college. For others it's
getting the necessary school supplies and clothes
so that the children can head back to school, and
for some their child is old enough to go to school for
the first time. It comes with many emotions, no
matter what year or how old the child is. There is a
deep trust that must happen for the parents to know
their child will be cared for in the eight hours that
they are away from home. There is much worry:
will they be okay, are they ready, what if they don't
have any friends and hate school?
Friends are one of the richest gifts that God
has blessed all people. It gives value to our lives
and connects us to the community in which God
created us to be within the Trinity. Friends know
our faults and gifts; yet it seems that at times it is
harder for adults to make friends than it is for
children. You cherish the friends you once had in
school but as your lives go in different directions a
phone call every couple of days or texts back and
forth become months with no contact. Before you
know it you have completely lost touch with that
person who was a dear friend.
Friends and family are the greatest support
systems in our lives. We are surrounded by a
community of people who all have the purpose of
loving and caring for each other. Oftentimes we

forget that a part of living in this world is being with others. God never meant for people to be alone.
That is why in the beginning God created Adam
and brought to him all the animals to be his
companions. He also created Eve so Adam would
have a human companion. Together Adam and
Eve and all of the creatures co-existed and lived in
the garden of peace. They were full of joy in
connection with each other and with God.
The Triune God we worship is also a
community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the
three which are one forming a community that is
full of life and love. We are meant to have friends
and families. This month I encourage you to make
a new friend, call up old ones to reconnect, or
spend time with your family. Maybe you will
adopt a furry animal for companionship or
volunteer at the animal shelter, a non-profit
organization, to meet others and make a
difference at the same time. August is the month
of friendship. Be blessed by others and be a
blessing to them as well.
May your lives be enriched by one another
and all of God's creatures!

Always praying for you!
Pastor Kayla

July 2018

“Lord, listen to my voice when I cry out, have mercy
on me and answer me! Come, my heart says,
seek God's face. Lord, I do seek your face! Please
don't hide it from me!”
Psalm 27:7-9

I am always amazed by how honest and
raw some of the Psalms seem to be. This whole
Psalm begins with a bold confidence in the Lord's
strength that no matter what evil happens the Lord
will be the shelter and place of protection for our
life. In verse 7 it is as if the psalmist has lost a bit
of that confidence and now longs to be closer to
God. The Lord becomes more hidden and distant
than what the psalmist first described.
During challenging times in our lives we
trust in God to give us the strength and to be our
source of refuge. Yet when we are in the midst of
struggle and pain, it can seem too overwhelming to
see beyond the current state. We, like the psalmist,
long to see the face of God while we are facing the
storm of darkness.
July is a season of both heat and rain. The
worries of many here in Iowa are tornadoes, high
winds, and flooding. They are all natural disasters
that one cannot prevent from happening. While
they are happening a person can feel so helpless
and scared. When they are finished, they leave
major destruction and chaos in the places they
have been.
Just like the feeling of helplessness we
have in natural disasters, we can have the same
feeling in our own chaotic and challenging lives.
People get sick, are diagnosed with cancer, lose
loved ones, or feel like life is falling down around
them. Feelings become so thick with worry and
sadness that it is hard to see the face of God.

When we become distracted by life, our hearts long 
to see God and believe that we are heard, but
sometimes it feels more like the Lord has hidden
his presence from us. Just as the psalmist calls
out to the Lord, so must we call out praying that
God would reveal to us the face of Christ and
comfort us in our weakness.
Maybe your faith feels strong in the Lord.
You trust that God is good and loving. You trust
that God is your strength and refuge, but today it
is hard to feel like that very God is with you in
return. Like the psalmist, you praise God for being
with you in general, but the more pressures of life
placed upon you, the more distant and less
confident you are of that love. Sometimes it is
hard to see beyond the helplessness of our own
struggles. Sometimes we must spend more time
reading the prayers and songs of God found in the
Psalms because they remind us that we are not
alone. We, too, long for the face of God at times
and pray that the Lord hears our voice.
Always praying for you! Pour your hearts
out upon the Lord and know that he does listen
and hold you close.
Pastor Kayla

June 2018

“For as long as love takes up the whole heart,
what room is there for sin therein?”
John Wesley

Last month millions of people around
the world tuned in to watch the “Royal
Wedding of Meghan and Harry.” This royal
celebration was unique due to Meghan
being American instead of British and both
her and Harry's personal touches adding to
the day such as a gospel choir and an
American Episcopal Bishop. There were a
few minor differences, as well, dealing with
races and nationalities. However, it can be
said that what attracted the most
conversation of the day was the sermon
given by Rev. Michael Curry. The sermon
was a powerful reminder of God's love
which is to spread and grow in the hearts of
all people. The main point of this sermon
was that the love of God can change the
What a timely message for us to be
reminded of how powerful and strong love
is. When violence is fought with more
violence, when evil prevails so much that
people become passive, and when each day
has more bad news than the day before, we
need to know there is hope because of love.
Now I am not talking about the wishy-washy
love that is often portrayed around us, but an
authentic love that dares to embrace one's
enemies, to break the silence, to open doors
for possibilities of newness and change.
John Wesley asked a great question which
formed a traditional belief for Methodists, in
that, when the love of God fills our entire
heart and soul, how can there be room for
sin or evil? When we are so full of God's

love, all we can do is love others, not hurt

them. Every part of our being is in
connection with God and therefore full of the
love of God.
This is the love God has for each of
us, an unconditional love full of compassion
and grace. This love is what makes it
possible to care for those who have hurt us
and cause us to be afraid. In order for good
to prevail and evil to be defeated, we must
learn to love our enemies and even those
who have hurt us the most. We cannot
change the world by our hate but by the love
of God. It is only through the love of God
that we can love enough to bring hope to
this world and the lives of others.
The message of hope by God is to
love others, to love beyond ourselves and
our friends. June is a time in which all of you
shine your love out for others in preparing
and serving food with a smile, serving the
church in this mission, and showing love by
your actions and words. As we prepare for
the “Mighty Howard County Fair,” remember
who it is that you worship and serve, and
have that same love of service for others. It
is a gift that we have to proclaim the
message of love by our service. Let it be the
best service you have ever given. When
love begins in our hearts because of Christ's
love for us, then it shines out into the world.
Be living, breathing sparks of God's love to
all who might see so that they too would
catch that flame and be encompassed by the
all-loving power of God.
May you have courage, hope and
strength this day to love and embrace the
world even when it's at its worst. Be the love
and light of Christ. Always praying for you!
Pastor Kayla

April/May 2018

“Therefore brothers and sisters, you must be patient as
you wait for the coming of the Lord. Consider the
farmer who waits patiently for the coming of rain in the
fall and spring, looking forward to the precious fruit of
the earth. You also must wait patiently, strengthening
your resolve because the coming of the Lord is near.”
James 5:7-8

I used to think that I was a patient person,
always going with the flow, living life with whatever
happens to come my way. It is easy for me to have
patience when I go about life as a neutral or good
setting. Yet in times of stress or exhaustion, patience
is something I lack. It is easy to become frustrated
when I am tired or running on empty. Patience is the
last thing I want to have when life is not going so well.
I want to hurry up and finish so I can take a nap or
renew my energy. If I had more patience and trusted
in God, that exhaustion could turn to a prayer asking
for strength until I could rest. Patience is actually a
gift that allows the heart and mind to rest in God's
strengthening love.
Patience is a gift we are given by God that
often we don't like or want! Having patience means
that we don't receive answers right away or see the
ending of a situation. It means there is more of the
story to come. Sometimes we have to settle with
what is known while we wait. Patience is a gift that
helps us draw closer to God and to others. If
someone is hard to be around because they push all
the wrong buttons, staying calm and having patience
is what connects one to the understanding of grace.
Patience teaches us grace and how to love God and
others more. This is why it is a gift.
Grace is seeing a person as a loved child of
God even with all the flaws and failures. Grace is
what we are given by God when we push God's
buttons and drive the Lord crazy with our
rebelliousness and sin. God still loves us and
considers us to be the precious children he created.
The patience we are shown by God should make us

want to show that same kind of patience for others.
Patience is a gift because when we are
anxious or afraid, it has a calming presence and
strengthening quality that helps guide us from worry
to peace. When you are relaxed enough to trust
God in patience, you can have a peace that
surrounds you instead of worry. Peace is
completely surrendering to God in trust and patiently
waiting in response of his love for you. Learning
how to be at peace begins by learning to patiently
trust in the love and grace of God. Learning to
embrace patience as a gift means less frustration
and more love. Learning to have patience is
spending more time in prayer with God so that you
renew your soul and are strengthened by the Lord's
peace and love.
Let the gift of patience be your peace and

strength this day!

March 2018

“So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do
not fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not
common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let
you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the
temptation God will also provide the way out so that you
may be able to endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:12-13

     This passage seems so relevant today as
we continue on the 40-day journey towards Easter.
This time of replacing our own temptations and
desires with ones that are given to us by God, can
be a long, challenging road. Lent is a time frame
set aside each year for recovering and discovering.
You are recovering that deep connectedness and
love for God that is within the deepest places of
your soul, as well as, discovering new and amazing
things about yourself and God. It can be a rich and
rewarding journey, but it also can be challenging
and painful.
     Just like any form of recovery, there are
good days and there are really bad days. It is what
you do during the bad days that makes a difference
in your recovery. If you feel weak and unable to
continue, Paul reminds us that we are never alone
in our struggles; that others too might be struggling,
and that God is faithfully with us through it all. On
the bad days, it may help to stay accountable
through your relationships with other people. Call a
friend, tell them your struggles because they might
be having a hard time also. What you are
recovering or discovering may be different than
your friend, but both of you may be challenged and
tempted to give into the temptation. Also during the
bad days in which you feel too weak to continue,
pray to God knowing that God will provide a way
out of the temptation. God gives you the strength

to defeat any challenge you may have.
     If you still fail, it is okay because again
Lent is about how you deal with the bad days. Do
you fail and give up completely, or do you get back
up and try again? Getting back up from the fall is
how you will soon discover your strength and faith
in God's grace. The fall may have been painful,
every day may be painful, but in order to grow we
first must know how strong we are because of
God's grace that sustains and holds us together.
     It is easier to go through a season of Lent
in which we are only drawn to the end result and
the joy of Easter than to spend time struggling in
the pain of the days in-between. What if the point
in all of this is the pain and the struggle? We are
called to give up our lives and to carry the cross
with Jesus. The end we hope for is to be with God
in heaven, but there are so many rich discoveries
along the way before arriving at the end. Lent is
that rich time of discovery in which you learn about
yourself and God. You fail and get back up. You
draw closer to the love and grace of Jesus right
beside you, journeying onward to the joy of Easter
     Know that I am praying that you might
have strength, and that this season of Lent for you
is one of discovery and recovery.

Always praying for you,

Pastor Kayla

February 2018

“When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent
 back this answer: 'Do not think that because you are in

the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For
if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for
the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your
father's family will perish. And who know but that you
have come to your royal position for such a time as this?'”
Esther 4:12-14

Esther has long been on of my favorite women in
the Bible. Her story full of hardship and sorrow, yet
strength and love, has given me great strength in knowing
that God is always at work in my life even if I have yet to fully
understand how. She also with Ruth, Mary, and so many
other women in the Bible show us what it means to have
strength and trust in God and to overcome any obstacle or
struggle that we face.
I am also a huge fan of super hero movies. I love
the story lines and heroes who fight for what is good and
just. I, like so many other women and girls, was excited
when Wonder Woman was made into a movie. Many of the
super heroes that I enjoyed watching were male, yet here
was a woman hero who had just as much strength as all the
others. Like Esther, her role in saving the people of Earth
was limited for a certain time. When all is well we don't need
a hero to come and save us. It is when we are at our lowest
point and can't defeat the struggle on our own that we long
for someone to save us. During that moment we gain our
strength from Jesus, our real hero, the one who has come so
that we might have justice, peace, and hope.
During times I have little to give and my own
strength is gone or I am afraid of where God has called me
to go, I am reminded of the words spoken by Mordecai to
Esther, “...who knows but that you have come to your
position for such a time as this?” What is this time that we
are a part of? Is it going to be painful? Why did I have to
be a part of this? While we may not know the answer to
these questions right away, we can know that yes, sometimes
God's work in our life and world is painful, but it is always for
our own good. We are called to draw close to God, to be the
vessel in which God uses to make the world better and more just. You are one called by God to bring peace and justice
to the world, you are a super hero, and God is your guiding
light. Gain your strength from the greatest hero of all,
Christ our Lord.
The time is now for you to reconnect your heart to
God the true hero, the one who has called you out of
darkness into light. The time is for you to join in a study
group that connects you to each other and to the love of
Jesus. Let us find strength in God through a time of prayer,
community, fasting, scripture, and service. As the Season
of Lent quickly approaches, we have an opportunity to
focus our hearts towards God's love in new and
strengthening ways. There will be three different Lenten
studies going on that you are welcomed to join at any time
to help in reconnecting your heart to God.
Wednesday Morning Lenten Study at 9:15 in the
East Room at First: We will study William Willimon's book,
Fear of the Other, which looks at our role of Christian love
and how we are to engage in welcoming the stranger or
Wednesday Evening Lenten Study at 6:30 P.M. in
the East Room at First: We will study the book, What Makes
a Hero by Matt Rawle, which asks the question how does
Jesus redefine what it means to be a hero? The Sunday
school class will also be doing this study as well.
Sunday Evening Lenten Study at 6:00 P.M. at Zion:
We will study The God We Can Know Exploring the “I AM”
Saying of Jesus by Rob Fuquay. Journey with Rob through
the Holy Land and study the places and meanings behind
Jesus' “I AM” statements.
It is for such a time as this to renew and recommit
your covenantal love to God. Join us in celebrating the
hero Jesus who came to give us strength, hope, and love.
Know that you are prayed for and loved,
Pastor Kayla

January 2018

Once again as January comes around we
find ourselves asking, “Where did the year go? Did
I meet my resolutions? Did I live every moment in
the present? Did I care for others?” We also begin
to think about how the New Year might go, and
what are our hope and dreams? In the midst of this
longing and hoping of a new year, I can't help but
think how many “new years” there really are in our
lives. For example, January 1st is the new year of
the calendar that most countries and places in the
world celebrate. However, there is also the new
school year which starts in August and ends in May.
Then there is the church year which begins at
Advent and ends after Thanksgiving. Finally, there
are new years or opportunities in people's lives
such as anniversaries, birthdays, the start of a new
job, and so forth. It seems that we have a chance
for a new beginning all of the time.
This month of January then is an
opportunity to give thanks to Christ who has given
us new life and new beginnings each day. As Paul
says in 2 Corinthians, “If we have Christ in our lives
and know that Christ is in us, we are being made a
new creation every day.” Life does not stop or
begin January 1st but continues to grow and be
created each day. Our resolutions or goals should
match that of becoming more like Christ. We are
leaving behind the things not of God and pressing
forward towards loving Christ. This is also good
news for times when the day, week, or year has
been challenging. It means that all of the pain
and worry will not last forever but that there will
be a new hope and joy ahead.
As you prepare for the coming of the
new calendar year, think of ways in which you
can share the hope of Christ's love with those
around you. Where can you be more present
and alert to God's love in your life? When the
day seems hopeless and the week doesn't get
better, trust that Christ is in your midst calling
out that the old things will pass away and a
new life of hope in Christ will be with you.
Whether it is a new year or a new day, each
moment should be spent in Christ who heals
the broken, cares for the sick, and restores life
and creation. Maybe it is time to remember
that it is only because of God's love that we
have the joy of new life, not by anything you
can do but by the freely given and wonderful
chaos of grace!
May you be filled with Christ's love this
day and that your life be one of hope and new
Always praying that you might have
strenth hope, and life in Christ this day and
Pastor Kayla