What’s Your Super Power?

I’m a sucker for Halloween. I’ve always been. Show me an old-fashioned jack o’lantern flickering with candlelight on an eerily still autumn evening, and I am bewitched. Walk through a blanket of fallen leaves, kicking up the golden and crimson carpet to make the crunching louder, and I am captivated. Give me a bowlful of candy corn (with some bite-sized peanut butter cups), and I am your friend for life. There’s just something about this ancient Celtic festival that captures my imagination.

So, when I found myself picking up a few household items at a discount store, I wasn’t surprised that I instinctively made my way to the store’s Halloween shop. As I walked up and down the aisles I couldn’t believe how much of a big business Halloween had become. When I was a child, costumes were made from pillowcases and sheets or bought at the local Woolworth’s. Those costumes came in a box complete with a plastic mask held on by an elastic band that if you pulled to tightly around your head, it would hurt. Let’s not forget, as well, the many stumbles and falls while trick or treating all because the mask would slide down or sideways, impairing one’s vision.

With each plastic skull, battery-operated pumpkin and motion-sensor bat I picked up, I reminisced about the good old days of Halloween when simplicity made it special.

I steered my cart around the corner only to discover something incredibly scary. A group of five-year-olds were in an excited frenzy grabbing for the costumes they wanted. While a few costumes were zombie and werewolf inspired, many were of superheroes. That’s when I overheard the salesperson, thrown into this chaos like bait to hungry sharks, ask one of the children what superpower they had.

The child was so animated in his reply I had to sneak a peek into the mom’s cart to see if he had already devoured a bag of candy. Nope. No sugar high. This was just the child’s normal behavior. Note to self: Say a prayer for his mother.

“I have the power of cutting people into two,” he screamed. I edged slowly away from the four-foot menace, but still close enough to hear his mom feebly scold him on how it wasn’t nice to hurt people. The boy came up with another answer.

“How about put them in a pit of snakes?”

Before his mother could answer, the sales associate intervened.

“What about having good superpowers?” she asked. She then shared with the little boy a long list of all the good he can do if he had superpowers. The boy, not quite on board with the notion of good superpowers, quietly considered what he heard. As he did, I walked away deep in my own thoughts.

We all have superpowers, don’t we? How often, though, do we use them? There’s the super power of prayer. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find. Yet when was the last time we boldly came before God to ask, to seek or just to simply talk to our trusted, dependable and mighty friend?

There’s the super power of forgiveness, a power that heals broken relationships, families and communities. There’s the super power of love, which is one super power Jesus himself commanded us to use all the time. Love one another just as I have loved you, he said, before going to the cross for us. Then there is the super power of faith in God who has shown us countless times how God is one who keeps a promise. Are we forsaken? Alone? Hopeless? No, we aren’t because God said He would never leave us.

And yet, the world around us seems to be like that little boy who would rather use power to hurt rather than to heal. What if we were more like that sales associate, who I have sainted for her patience and wisdom with five-year-olds, urging our children to think of the help they can give others? What if this Halloween all the gore was replaced with good? What if there were more angels trick or treating than devils?

What if…

This Halloween, the little white church in the rural village I serve will once again have its front lawn lit with jack o’lanterns proclaiming a message of faith for trick or treaters to see. It’s a tradition I started years ago because I just don’t love the sight of glowering pumpkins. I love the sight of God’s word illuminating dark skies and filling His children with awe.

This year’s word shining out to the community is going to be simple — PEACE, a superpower we all have in superhero belts and one we need to share with others. For blessed are the peacemakers, Jesus said.

What superpower will you use this Halloween?


Pumpkins glowing with an inspirational message in front of the little white church. This year’s message will be “Peace.”

What I Really Need

An Accidental Country Pastor’s Advent Journey 

Come on an Advent journey and walk the rural roads and snow covered paths with Donna Frischknecht as she shares stories of God’s promises being fulfilled in the most amazing ways and unexpected ways. 

Advent Day 6:

The bells clanked away as I made my way into the grocery store. There standing around the Salvation Army’s red kettle were a bunch of kids with their moms. I wasn’t sure if they were with one of the many churches in the little rural village or with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or perhaps the 4-H or FFA, that is Future Farmers of America, which many of the kids who once ran down to the little white church I pastored were active in. It didn’t matter. They were there giving their time on a week night to collect money for those who might not have enough to make the holiday a happy one. images-1

I smiled at them as I passed by with my cart, letting them know I would donate on my way.

“Promise?” one boy asked.

“Promise,” I answered.

With that promise made, I set out to get the groceries I needed—and only the groceries I needed. I vowed that I would not fill my cart up with impulse items like I tend to do. Just ask my husband. I am a sucker for anything labeled “limited time only.” Do I really need another box of pumpkin spice Cheerios? No. I don’t. But wait. What’s this? Egg nog flavored…step away from the shelf and keep on shopping.

Do I really need…

That question lingered in my head as I shopped. I thought about all I had. Yes, money was tight now that my husband and I had moved back home to Vermont. I gave up a steady paycheck and a church job with benefits, not easy to come by these days in any vocation, but especially in ministry. But the move back wasn’t about financial gain. It was about something even better. Spiritual gain. It was about living. Really living. Living simply. Living to enjoy the early morning sunrises. Living to be able to take a walk on the rail trail behind our little country home. Living to be able to raise chickens again. Living to be able to get back to ministering in an area where a helping hand to lift up those who are struggling with not having enough was needed. Spiritual gain that far outweighed any paycheck.

Somewhere along the way I had forgotten what real living was all about. Three years I was in exile of sorts. Living but not really. My faith was tested and I was often feeling more empty and hungry than fulfilled, even with all that I had. It was then I realized I had to fix my life. I had to once again remember what really mattered.

As I stood at the checkout line I could hear the bell ringers ringing those bells with much enthusiasm. I smiled and wondered how many cashiers on duty they were driving crazy?

I looked at the groceries riding down the conveyor belt to be rung up. I did a good job at sticking to my list. But how was I doing at the job in sticking to the other list?

The list of what I really needed? God and God alone.

The teens at the little white church were gathered in the chapel one weekday morning in Advent. We gathered to have breakfast together and to share God’s word with one another before going to school. Since it was Advent, the scripture I shared with them was of course about Jesus’ birth and what it meant to those who waited so long for hope to come into their lives. We talked and shared and then it happened. One girl, who was deep in thought, spoke up. And what she said I will always treasure.

Why is it that the focus on Christmas is about wanting so many things we don’t need? All that the people in Jesus’ time ever wanted was hope in their lives. And God delivered. We don’t seem to ask God for what we really need, do we?

I took my bags that were filled with just my daily bread and nothing more. And with the money spent on things I didn’t need, I fulfilled my promise to the little boy ringing the bell at the big red kettle.

“God bless you,” he said to me.

“God bless you,” I said back.

And as the clanging of the bells faded into the distant, I could hear something even more beautiful. I could hear God answering the prayers of those who were asking for what was needed the most. More faith, more trust, more God.




Rocking Chairs

Drive in circles. Round and round. Airport’s long-term parking lot finally found. Park the car. Write down the parking space number so that I will remember where my car is upon my trip back. Hop on the shuttle bus to the terminal. Hop off the shuttle bus. Weave my way through the long lines. Check in. Check bag. Check. It’s done.

Now take off shoes, take out laptop, turn on cell phone, place in bins. Go through airport security. Put shoes back on. Double check that all my belongings are out of the bins and are once again in my possession. Find some coffee. Rush off to gate.

Almost there…almost there.

Pick up pace. Time is ticking. Mind is racing. Nothing noteworthy to share. Just racing with mindless clutter. Pace picks up, time ticks on, mind continues racing…faster, faster.

Almost there…yes, almost there.

Slam on brakes. Screeching halt. What is this? images

Rocking chairs. The kind you would find on an old farmhouse porch; not in an airport terminal. But there they are. Rocking chairs lined up in a row begging for busy travelers to stop and rest. There they are. Lined up in a row—empty.

Rocking chairs. The kind that makes me remember a simpler way of life that a family of faith in a little white church invited me to be part of years ago.

The kind I remember sitting in while sipping a root beer float well-renowned in the village and beyond, lovingly made by the elderly hands of a farmer’s wife/potter/artist/one amazing woman.

The kind in which I ate melting ice cream over a just-out-of-the-oven berry cobbler.

The kind in which I heard stories of the years when crops were good and the years they were not so good.

The kind in which a long-retired farmer and I would simply sit and listen to the rustling of cornstalks in the hot summer wind.

The kind that invited confession as painful secrets were shared. The kind that granted assurance of pardon as old misunderstandings were rocked away.

The kind I would sit in every night on my very own country porch listening to peepers and watching fireflies light up the sky. The kind I would sit in crying my tears to God. The kind I would sit in singing my praises to God. The kind I would sit in wondering how it was that God led me to this way of life—to my heart’s desire.

Rocking chairs in an airport. Empty.

They’re preaching an important message, but the message is falling on the deaf ears of travelers only concerned with getting to their next “almost there.” But no one seems to stop long enough to look around and ask, “Where exactly is the ‘there’ I’m going to?”

I hear the message, though. I hear it loud and clearly.

Time IS ticking. Slow your pace and ease your mind.

The rocking chair beckons. I sit and I rock. The movement is soothing. My rushed breathing slows. I close my eyes.

Peace that has been missing like a suitcase stuck in some proverbial airport baggage purgatory, reclaims its owner. Peace reclaims me.

Back and forth I rock.

All of a sudden I am sipping that famous root beer float. I taste the berry cobbler once again. I know exactly where those berries were hand-picked. I was there. I have the berry stained shirt still. I hear now the rustling of the cornstalks drowning out the airport noise around me. I see the weathered face of that dear long-retired farmer. I notice his cataract-clouded eyes gazing longingly for glimpses of days gone by. I join him in that search.

I search. I rock.

I rock. I search.

The rocking chair’s sermon is being preached.

Time IS ticking. Slow your pace and ease your mind. Almost there. Yes, almost to the ‘there’ I want to be.

It’s the place where my shattered heart was lovingly pieced together by a precious gift called God’s grace. It’s the place where my steps began to move in sync with that of the Holy Spirit. It’s the place where divine fellowship was shared in the guise of a root beer float and berry cobbler. It’s the place where a rocking chair on a country porch waits for me to come home to. For me to sit and pray awhile.