11.22.2017

A Prayer for Thanksgiving


Author of Gratitude,

For all the ways you bring love and awareness into our lives,
we say thank you.

For the opportunities we have each day to practice patience,
we say thank you.

For time and safe spaces to worship, meditate, and reflect,
we say thank you.

For all the ways you provide daily bread,
we say thank you.

Creator who is ever-present,
INSPIRE us to be generous.
EQUIP us to be compassionate.
COMPEL us to be grateful.

Amen.

11.19.2017

This Week's Column


I hope you're having a good weekend!


Every year I write a column for Thanksgiving and it includes a prayer that people can use around their holiday meal. 

In the process of composing this year's column, I learned the story of the woman who advocated persistently for a shared national date for the holiday. Very interesting!



11.17.2017

Eventually

Nicolas Cochin
French, 1610-1686
Flower Print no.9

There will be no more fresh flowers in the yard for awhile.
No more hanging baskets.
No more marigolds or mums.

It is a different season now. 

I am thankful for artists and poets through the ages who have taken the time to paint and draw and write about petals and stems.  Their art stands as a reminder of what is to come. Again. Eventually. 

11.15.2017

Churchwide

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is comprised of millions of members in congregations all over the country. There are also campus ministries. Congregations and other specialized ministry contexts exist within the 65 synods of the ELCA. There is also a churchwide expression of the denomination that exists in an office building in Chicago.

That's where I am! Today and tomorrow! I am here for a training about ways to teach healthy boundaries to church leaders. It has been very enlightening, and I'm learning a lot from the instructor and my classmates...they are mostly assistants to the bishop and a bishop and some congregational pastors.

We will take this experience back to our home synods to then help facilitate impactful, engaging boundaries trainings in the future. I feel immensely grateful to be here and to potentially have a role in empowering leaders in southeastern MN to be intentional about their own boundary development...to be healthy, vibrant, rooted leaders.

I had an experience of an abusive relationship several years ago that brought to the forefront the consequences of my inability to articulate boundaries and express my own needs and ask for help. It all added up to a very dangerous reality. I don't blame myself because it is not my fault. But I do recognize that my insecure self with fuzzy boundaries made me an easy target.

Looking back, I recognize how much a healthy sense of where I end and other people begin (a boundary) would have helped me. In all areas of life. I had taken boundaries trainings but I never really internalized the learning, and I didn't recognize how much growth I needed in that area.

My now much healthier boundaries in every area have changed my entire life. The landscape of life appears so full of possibility and not a day goes by that I do not honor and celebrate the growth that came through embracing my boundaries! I am more "me" and "free" than I ever have been. I'm infinitely grateful to my beloved family and dear friends for journeying with me and loving me no matter what. And I'm so very thankful for my partner, Justin, who models secure, grounded love every day.

It feels like a profound gift to be where I am tonight...learning tools to help support and train leaders to be healthy, self-aware, and empowered!

I certainly still have work to do. I still have much to learn and implement. But I feel very capable of teaching and exploring these topics with others, and I welcome those possibilities.

*********

I had thought I hadn't been here before, but in the first level meeting room where we are gathered for this training, I had a flashback. I believe it used to be  Augsburg Fortress instead of a conference room, which was a store for clergy wear and books and paraments. I remembered today that my dear pal Joy and I came here in 2005 to buy our first clerical collars for worship class!

So I guess I was here once to buy an oversized men's clerical collar because that's all that was available at the time. There are many more options now!

Looking forward to more learning tomorrow and then the trek home.

My heart is so full of thanks.

Thank you, God, for all the ways you weave healing and possibility into our lives.

Thank you, God, for this mysterious, beautiful, painful, glorious, ever-surprising, ever-renewing life.

11.14.2017

Lutheran Campus Center

What a marvelous conference meeting worship service at the Lutheran Campus Center in Winona this morning! This bulletin cover is a portion of a beautiful Jan Richardson poem that Pastor Corrine read during the service.

It was a true gift to breathe and sing and connect today with the folks of the Root River Conference earlier today. There are five conferences in the synod, and they are each comprised of such great leaders. Fills my heart with hope.

It was also so inspiring to hear the stories of how the students and staff of the Lutheran Campus Center are advocating for love, peace, creativity and justice. Check them out online and consider making a financial gift for Give to the Max Day on Thursday!

After the conference gathering I made my way to Chicago. Tomorrow begins the two-day training.

Driving on I-90 today was quite nostalgic. I lived in Chicago from 2005 to 2009. Looking back, I can hardly believe I was brave enough to move to this big city just a month after turning 22.

It's nice to be back and I'm looking forward to visiting the ELCA churchwide offices for the first time ever tomorrow!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

11.13.2017

Proclaim the Love that Breaks Down Walls


Last night I attended at the synod's hymn fest at Zumbro Lutheran Church. The planning committee for the event spent over 6 months preparing for and organizing the event. They did a thoughtful, marvelous job. The hymn fest was held on conjunction with the synod's other 500th anniversary of the Reformation events. 

My favorite parts of the service were... 
1) Alex reading a story from the New Testament book of Acts in French. Mesmerizing and awesome and powerful to hear the words in another language and
2) The original hymn "Proclaim the Love that Breaks Down Walls" by Daniel and Christine Kallman. It was SO moving to me. I love modern hymnody. 


I'm heading to a training in Chicago for the next few days! Looking forward to being back in a city I love!

11.11.2017

Taste and see


It's about the tasting and seeing all the sense. 



11.10.2017

Friday, friday: feedback


Hello, hello.
How are you doing today?


My week has been good and full!
Saturday night Justin and I went over to Mom's for dinner and a round of Bananagrams.
Sunday I was grateful to do some filling in for the people of Hosanna Lutheran Church for All Saints Sunday. 

Sunday afternoon through Tuesday I was at the Stoney Creek Inn in Onalaska for the Fall Theological Conference which is an annual synod event. I learned a lot from our speakers and from the time with colleagues. There are truly fantastic leaders in southeastern MN. 

I've found myself thinking a lot about adaptive leadership and quoting Rev. Louise Johnson over the last couple days, so that is a signal that it was quite impactful!

 Some people loved the conference experience and a portion of attendees didn't. As a member of the staff, I hear it all, and I'm deeply thankful for people's openness in sharing. I'm learning over time that all opinions are important, and I want to hear them all because the multitude of voices/opinions can help us to be our best as an organization. 

BUT I'm also learning/relearning the same lesson I've been learning for 34 years: I don't need to "run into action" based on every individual piece of feedback...which is my nature to do. After the conference I was basically ready to quit my job and become a therapist...only to find out that the vast majority of the dozens of people who filled out the evaluation form had very positive experiences and even detailed specifics about what they enjoyed. But even if they hadn't - even if no one had liked it - that would've been okay and doesn't necessarily mean I need to run away from a job I love. 

Moral of the story: feedback is important. Every voice is important. But I don't have to be so quick to assume that I suck at everything and need to try harder and it's all my fault and I should've done better and everyone is disappointed in me.

It's an old tape. It's my default. It's a destructive thinking pattern that gets triggered by the strangest things. I have to consciously work at NOT allowing my brain to go there. 

Working at the Office of the Bishop is a gift, and I'm immensely thankful for the experience. It has given me a whole new perspective on organizational leadership. Sometimes it's hard to be in a position where you can't make everyone happy/pleased all the time. There was the same challenge in parish ministry. 

I'm learning over time that the best thing I can do a lot of the time is listen non-defensively and non-anxiously. Love. Value. And listen. And take really good care of my spirit because strong leadership requires an ability to be fully present without being reactive or judgmental. 

The day after the event, I read this reflection...the timing couldn't have been better! It felt like a gift. 


The last few days have been good back at work - and today I'm off. Alleluia. Time to do chores, run, read, and reconnect with the universe, God, and my spirit.

I hope you take time to love on your spirit, too! 

11.02.2017

Freelance piece for Med City Beat


I recently had the chance to collaborate with Med City Beat on a piece for their Olmsted Medical Center series. The piece involved going to OMC's BirthCenter to do the interview and then writing the article. I learned so much about this amazing space right here in Rochester!

These freelance writing gigs are a special way for me to expand my writing portfolio and connect with our community in new ways. I'm very thankful.

Here's a link. 

11.01.2017

All Saints' Day



"Clouds at Sunset" by James Hamilton Shegogue

Good morning on this All Saints' Day. Here's a resource from First Lutheran Church in Eau Claire, WI that describes what the day is all about: link. English poet Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) has a poem called A Song for the Least of All Saints. I really like it. How about you? 

A Song for the Least of All Saints
by Christina Georgina Rossetti

Love is the key of life and death,
Of hidden heavenly mystery:
Of all Christ is, of all He saith,
Love is the key.

As three times to His Saint He saith,
He saith to me, He saith to thee,
Breathing His Grace-conferring Breath:
“Lovest thou Me?”

Ah, Lord, I have such feeble faith,
Such feeble hope to comfort me:
But love it is, is strong as death,
And I love Thee.