This Week's Columns

Here's a link to this week's Holy Everything in the Rochester Post-Bulletin. It highlights my learning experiences at the "Principles and Techniques in Fundraising" that I was at a few weeks back. 

And here's a link to the most recent installment of Worship Life which is a column I compose 1-2 times a month in the PB. For this edition, I got to interview Paul Larsen from the Berean Community Church in Rochester. 



Photos from yesterday's excursion with Mumzi to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary!


Em's Music List

As you know, I have been a John Mayer fan since 2001. He is my all-time favorite artist. He is currently on tour and just released "The Search for Everything." I think it's so good! Sincerely! He's released albums I've loved and albums I haven't loved but still respected. 

This album represents everything I appreciate most about John Mayer's music. 

My favorites from the album...

Enjoy! And let me know what you think!

Also - remember when comments were a thing? People would leave them and it was fun? Want to bring it back? I'd love to hear from you. 

Your prompt is....what was the last food you consumed? 

My answer: potato


Photo tag

My brother and sister-in-law had an amazing team videographers/photographers for their wedding in Kolkata in January: Pranadeep Mukherjee

This snapshot makes me smile. The tables turned for a quick moment, and I snagged a pic of two of the team after one of the evening wedding rituals. 

Photo tag...a universal language. :) *you're it*

The photos and videography they all took turned out amazing! I am grateful to have personal snapshots as well as the beautiful professional photos to remember such a special time of celebration. 

Catching up

Good morning! First off, here are the last two installments of this year's Lenten series for the Rochester Post-Bulletin:

April 8: From attachment toward freedom
April 15: From fear toward trust

How have you been?!

Last week I was up in Minneapolis for a course called Principles and Techniques in Fund Raising taught by Indiana University's Lilly School of Philanthropy. Loved it! Highly recommend it for anyone who works for any kind of non-profit (pastors, markets, communications professionals). It gives a lot of excellent, foundational information about how fundraising works. I loved both of the professors - Sarah and Tracy.

Another update: I have home internet again! After a 10-month hiatus, I am back online in my home. I found a good deal through Centurylink; it's about $24.99/month (but would be $14.99/month if I had my own router). For a variety of reasons, it was the right time to reconnect. So far, so good! It's a self-installation process, and it couldn't have been easier! (get ready for the return of regular BLOGGING!)

Easter was great. Spent Saturday and part of Sunday with mom, Josh, and Sweta and then headed down to Denver, IA to enjoy the afternoon and evening with the Stoll crew. Such a joyful day!

There are signs of spring everywhere in Rochester; I am LOVING it!


You Must Believe in Spring

I heard a lovely arrangement of this song this morning at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Rochester! I had never heard it before.

I looked up a bit of history about the song and album tonight and now I find the song even more powerful.

The Terrill-McDonough Jazz Duo played a few pieces throughout the service. It was such a treat.


Generosity Opportunity

There is a very serious crisis happening in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. There is a famine and safe water is hard to find, and the region has been plagued by violence and conflict.

This NPR piece provides helpful context and background.

Millions and millions of people don't have access to clean water. Many are also experiencing profound food insecurity

I encourage you to give and give generously to organizations supporting meaningful work in these areas. Here are a few ways to give...
  • If you give through Lutheran Disaster Response, 100% of your gift goes to directly help the people of South Sudan. Here's the link. 
  • UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund): Give here
A quick shoutout Nonviolent Peaceforce. I've heard the founder, Mel, speak twice. They're doing important work throughout the world including in South Sudan

I am disheartened that the president is seeking to cut foreign aid at such a critical time for millions of people. But rather than obsess over the president's tweets or value system or nepotistic tendencies, let's do what we can to provide food, water, and sanitary infrastructure to people in the world who don't have access to these basic facets of life we so easily take for granted. 

Our president would have us believe in a scarcity model...the idea that there isn't enough (jobs, wealth, golf courses)...and that the only way we'll have enough as Americans is if we wall off and focus inward. Whether he recognizes it or not, I think Trump's presidential priorities have less to do with what's in the best interest of the people of this country and more to do with his family system.   

If his goal is limitless growth for the United States...regardless of all human and environmental costs to the rest of the world, then he's right - there isn't enough! Infinite growth of the GDP is bonkers. It won't work...which is why many people advocate for a degrowth model - but that's a post for another day. 

In the meantime, if we're talking about access to basic food, water, and shelter - then there IS enough for everyone. There are enough resources...in fact, there are more than enough resources. The problem is the distribution of wealth and resources. Ego and greed. Patriarchy and power. Poverty and inequality. 

The global economic system is broken, and we have to be the ones to fix it. A step at a time. And sometimes it's going to require large, bold steps. 

So start where you are and I'll start from where I am. Thank you for your beautiful heart. 

Inhale peace, exhale peace. Be generous. Be kind to yourself and others. Make thoughtful choices with your money and time. Listen more. Find solutions. Rest well. Love big. 

from yesterday's Post-Bulletin


Monday, Monday

A post full of life updates....

It's Monday night, and today went by in a flash!

The weekend was great. Board games and dinner with friends on Friday night. Settlers of Catan. How about that? I'm only 10 years late on the bandwagon.

Saturday was nice. Coffee shop. Chess. And many freelance hours working on a local congregation's newsletter. I'm finding a real love for design work and it's nice to have a direct connection to the rhythms of congregation life again.

Sunday was more newsletter creation & then over to St. Mark's senior living in Austin in the afternoon for worship. Apparently the flu has finally been banished from that facility. It was nice to see many folks had returned to worship. The Gospel for the day was John, chapter 9. A really interesting text to explore! I love those folks and volunteers. Very much.

This time of year is all about #equippingcongregations2017 in my vocational life..it's almost time for the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly. The event is May 6-7...a month away. But all the materials go live April 3...less than a week! I won't get into it here but it is no small task. We're trying some new formats & layouts & communication approaches this year and everything is going live earlier than usual...so a lot of my days have been spent in Adobe InDesign lately. Even though there are a lot of moving pieces...worship, budget, resolutions, nominations, a Learning Event, etc...I find the whole process quite enjoyable...especially compared to how unenjoyable it was 3 years ago when I had just started and had NO CLUE what I was doing. Now compared to then makes now look like a giant hot fudge sundae. Yummy.

So...no complaints from me. It's a lot of work...but pretty exciting and energizing all in all.

I'm looking forward to the finished product coming together, and I hope it's engaging for folks. That's the goal - that people feel engaged and connected to each other, the wider church, and God. It has been fun to collaborate with tables, teams, committees and staff members on coming up with an effective strategy for assembly communications this year. Tonight I got to attend my first Reference and Counsel meeting. Even though I've been in the role for 3 years, there's more to learn every day. Every single day.

The rest of life...generally swell. Trying for 20 minutes of pilates a day. I got a variety of pilates DVDs from my beloved Rochester Public Library. It's fun to have some variety. And 20 minutes a day seems to be a very accessible amount of exercise for me. Also getting over to the gym for cardio/walking about 2-3 times a week and a couple walks with friends a week, too.

Home owning is a delight. The new place really feels like "home." It's a great fit, and I am excited for Finn and Justin to live here, too.

Family & friends are well. I downloaded a new birthday tracking app. Hopefully I can step-up my game! I'm REALLY looking forward to warmer weather and more walks around Silver Lake with pals. That is one of my favorite ways to catch-up and connect and be active at the same time.

The areas of life I'd like to give more attention...reading and volunteering! I've overextended a bit in other areas of life, and my reading has really taken a hit. I'd like to do a lot more reading, and I'm hoping that my reactivated Goodreads account will be an incentive to read and track books. I'm also listening to AudioBooks on the way to work and around town. Currently listening to this and on the last disc.

Oh yes...one more thing...our dear country and world. I'll be honest, I don't watch much news anymore. I don't have television at all in my new house; the antennae signal doesn't work here. I do have a radio, and I listen to MPR in the mornings. I also get the Rochester Post-Bulletin and at least skim through it each day. I tend to check Twitter before bed and New York Times 1-2 times a day for headlines. And I have friends and family who forward me good links to read. I think I'm finding a good balance between being aware and being emotionally well.

After the election, I was glued to the news and it wasn't good for my health. I was more negative, bitter, fearful, and nightmare-prone.  I am certainly still very concerned and I want to be an involved, thoughtful citizen, but I am no longer consumed every second. I've found a few organizations to financially support which feels good. There are some e-newsletters I receive that also provide meaningful food for thought (everything from resilience.org). I think the next step is to volunteer on a regular basis with an organization doing work that aligns the values I hold most dear. I'm still discerning where to direct those energies. Lately I am most drawn to environmental advocacy, supporting local economies, access to food/water, and advocating for refugees/immigrants. Justin and I recently had a talk about it, and we're hoping volunteering can be something we do together. My hope is to have a regular volunteering practice in place by early summertime.

So that's the scoop. I hope you are well and your heart is full of peace tonight.


The Column

This week's column: from arrogance toward humility (featuring Gaston).