Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paying Tribute

Today I want to give recognition and tribute to Rev. Syd Brestel, a man who has been our spiritual human shepherd since 1980. Tomorrow our church will host a farewell to Pastor Syd as he retires from the role of lead teaching elder, and I was asked to sort and digitize all their photos for a slide show. I thought it would be fitting to share a few special ones and memories here.
Syd grew up as a farm boy in Sydney, Nebraska, the son of Gerald and Helen Brestel. After high school graduation, Syd left for Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and the above photo was taken as Syd graduated from Moody with a pastoral degree.
 He met his future wife Mary at Moody and they were married in 1963 at her home church in Marion, Ohio.
 Syd took his first job after college, as superintendent of the Christian School at the First Baptist Church of Marion, Ohio. He went on to become the Pastor at a small church in Pulaskiville, Ohio which experienced God's blessing and growth during Pastor Syd's tenure. God blessed Syd and Mary with two boys during these years, Daniel and Dathan, and they stayed in Pulaskiville for ten years.
 God then led Syd to Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon to complete his Masters of Divinity. While going to school he agreed to become the Pastor of a small church (about 80) in a large building, Powellhurst Baptist.
 This is Pastor Syd preaching on his first Sunday at Powellhurst in 1979.
Pastor Syd, Mary, Danny and Dathan in 1979.
 In 1980 the insurance man and I moved our family to Portland in search of work for him. The insurance man visited Powellhurst for the first time while I was back in Burns finishing packing, and was impressed with Pastor Syd's preaching. The morning he visited, the church was exercising church discipline, a difficult thing, which the insurance man also appreciated. as it was done scripturally and well. Syd and Mary invited him home for dinner after finding he was alone, and that began our 34 years of friendship. The next four years were precious to us as the church family at Powellhurst became a very close-knit group, forming many life-long relationships.

Pastor Syd graduated from Western Seminary in 1982, and continued as the Pastor and shepherd at Powellhurst. In 1984 the church members decided to look at building a new facility, as Fred Meyer had approached them about selling the old building and property. Due to God's gracious working, we were able to find property just a few blocks away, and build a large modern building debt free. Pastor Syd oversaw this effort, and was busy one Saturday working on some interior finishing on a scaffold. The scaffolding gave way and Syd fell straight down 22 ft, shattering an ankle, and sustaining many serious injuries. God was gracious and his life was spared for further ministry. After surgery, a long stint in the hospital, and much rehabilitation he was again able to rejoin his church family and preach from a wheelchair. (Over the years, Syd has had several surgeries on his ankle along with an ankle replacement, and has suffered from the consequences of his fall, but it rarely slows him down. Most recently he hiked South Sister in the Cascade Mountain range with his grandson Kyle.)
Meanwhile, our family left the Portland area in 1984 to again look for work. We came back to Powellhurst for the dedication of the new building that year, and I just found this precious photo of Julie with Pastor Syd. He is still walking with a cane, but is no longer needing a wheelchair. Pastor Syd and Julie were friends, and he liked listening to her 'chatter'. She looks delighted to see her friend Pastor Syd again.

In 1985 the insurance man and I moved to Bend, Oregon and began attending First Baptist Church here. Fairly soon, First Baptist needed a Pastor and the insurance man and I found ourselves on the pulpit committee to search for God's man for our church. We were amazed when God led in such a way that Syd felt firmly called to Bend, and moved his family and became the Senior Pastor here. He has served God and us well, faithfully preaching the Word of God in Bend for 23 years.

Two of our dear friends from Powellhurst came to visit when Dathan got married, and this is a photo of Mary, Debbie and I.

Pastor Syd has married two of our girls, and this is Julie marrying Peter in 1997 at our church.

Here is Pastor Syd with the insurance man. Pastor Syd  not only married our daughters, he also married my Dad to his second wife Janet in 2000, here in our home.

This is Pastor Syd as he looks each Sunday, preaching the word and celebrating communion.

Above, Syd and Mary in 2005....
and below celebrating their 40th anniversary with us in Branson, MO.


Pastor Syd has participated in many short term missionary trips, the most recent in 2012 to Uganda and the Bible College there.

As Pastor Syd 'retires' he is looking forward to a slower pace, filling the pulpit where needed and teaching at a Bible college here in Bend. He also would love to go on more mission trips as his health allows.

Farewell for now to this good and faithful servant, that the insurance man and I love and appreciate with all our hearts. God has been so good to provide us with truth in Syd's preaching and teaching all these years, a truly invaluable gift.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January Musings

Months have different colors, and I have always seen January in shades of blue. Like the blue shadows in the deep drifts of snow piled against the side of the house. Or the bright blue sky of a sunny winter day, contrasting with the whiteness of a new snowfall and the tall deep green spires of evergreens.

January is a long month containing thirty one slower moving days, and yet it's over so quickly. We rush on to the pink, red and white of Valentines, then gather speed towards Spring Break and motion and activity once again.

Snow dusted grave stones in January remind me of my mother and my Uncle Roy, and the many birthday cards and celebrations of Januaries' past. Mom's birthday was the Wednesday the 15th, and as has been my custom for the past thirteen years, I put on a special necklace of hers, for remembrance.

I enjoy using the quieter days of January for long hours of reading or writing or thinking. I love to make big pots of soup and have them simmer on the stove all day, so the house smells as warm as it feels. There are no particular have-to's in January, with few deadlines and paradoxically more time in the shorter days. It's quiet at home and quiet in nature on my morning walks.

Enjoy the month my friends!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Time Challenges

Time has always been a challenge for me. I know that God created each of us unique, good, special and in His image. But somehow my brain is missing the time management DNA. From earliest memories I was always late. My poor parents had a terrible time getting me ready for anything and out the door. My Dad drove me to the school bus morning after morning as I missed the bus and we had to drive to the next stop or the next. Then I married, and my husband has exercised his patience throughout 42 years as I have kept him waiting too many times to count. Early in our marriage we became known as 'the late Asmussens', not due to the dear insurance man. In those days I had not yet learned the importance of not keeping people waiting. I have learned that lesson along the way, and yet it still manages to happen.

Somehow I never allow enough time to complete all the things I need or want to accomplish. I'm forever trying to cram everything into the few minutes I have before  absolutely having to leave. Of course, I never allow extra time for heavy traffic, stopping for a train, or road construction. The result? Late once again. I truly want to be on time, I do hate being late, but I just have too many things to do (more than any other woman?) and never enough time. I don't like it when people characterize me as being a late person, never on time. And yet it's true and it's time I faced flat up to the truth of that.

Another aspect of my missing time gene, is that I fail to look ahead. I ran across someone a week ago already planning and decorating for Valentines Day the day after New Years. I just can't do that. Not because I don't have the time or resources, but because it seems like JANUARY to me, a time of blue, a time of quiet stillness, a time of peaceful reflecting. Not for romance, red, pink and white or candy. But for new beginnings, exercise and healthy eating. By the time I get around to feeling Victorian and romantic, Valentines will be a week away. This scene gets repeated from holiday to holiday and season to season. I long to soak and delight in the moment, or the season, or the holiday, and yet to do that means I'm again late for the next thing.

I was born slow. I move slow, think rather slowly, and react even more slowly. I savor, enjoy and contemplate things. This isn't wrong but it leads to a slow way of living. It surely doesn't keep up with the rest of our culture! The biggest stresses in my life are the words hurry, deadlines, time-to-go, we're late, are-you-ready-yet, have you finished? I can't hurry at store check-out, which causes stress to the folks in line behind me. I don't multi-task and have to think things through. I can't talk and do anything else at the same, cook, read etc. I get pushed, pushed and more pushed and feel out of step with life today.

I don't think I will ever change inside, as this is the way God made me. (My girls will nod in agreement here.) But my challenge to myself this new year is to work on peace. Planning and preparing ahead to create an atmosphere of peace and serenity, not hurry and stress. I am praying and know that walking hand in hand with God will give me the peace I seek. Things won't be perfect, but I'm hoping for less 'lateness' and more being on time. I'll let you know how things are working out.