August Newsletter

Below is a link to the contents of my summer newsletter; to get add to the mailing list and receive the newsletter in your email inbox, visit http://www.emilyannecarson.com and click the "Join my newsletter list" button. 

Summer greetings to you! I hope you're in the midst of a life-giving summer with a good mix of adventure and restoration. Today I wanted to share a few life updates with you that have taken place over the past year!

First off, I launched a book into the universe with the help of 9 Foot Voice, and I'm so very elated! Thanks to everyone who has purchased the book; your support fills my heart with gratitude!

I have a 4-minute request for everyone who has read/is reading "Holy Everything." Please leave an Amazon review! This is the most effective way to get the book into more hands. Anyone can leave an Amazon review of the book regardless of how you ordered it. Here's the link to do so. My goal is to reach 50 reviews in the next 10 days. We're currently at 7 reviews. I think we can do it, friends! If you prefer to go to the "Holy Everything" Amazon page, you can also write a customer review that way; here's an image explaining how. Thank you for leaving a review and getting this book into more hands!

There are a few ways to order the book:
  1. Order directly from me if you'd like a personalized copy mailed to your home or congregation. The cost is $19.20 ($15.95/book + $2.75/shipping+envelope). I'll send it to you through the mail: Contact me directly through email to select this option; you'll use this link for payment and then email me your preferred physical mailing address. There's a reduced shipping rate if you order more than one copy.
  2. Order through Amazon (where it's available in print and digital formats): Holy Everything
  3. Order through Barnes and Noble (where it's also available in print and digital formats): Holy Everything
Speaking of Barnes and Noble, I'm excited to do a book signing there on Saturday, October 5 from 1-2PM. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble at Apache Mall in Rochester. Please come! You can purchase the book there or you can bring your previously purchased copy. I'm excited to see you and connect.

There are many ways to utilize the book! My pal, Alex, said he enjoyed reading it straight through. Another friend, Kathy, is using it as her daily devotional in the morning. One of the congregations in Rochester, MN is purchasing 12 copies and using it with one of their weekly small groups throughout the year ahead. You could also read it as a monthly book group selection.

I'm currently in the midst of creating a free downloadable discussion guide with 2-3 questions for each essay to help you facilitate conversation. It will be available as a printable PDF by early September. If you're interested in receiving the discussion guide in your inbox, please email me, and I'll send it to you as soon as it's ready.

Another book update: I'm currently recording the audiobook version! It will be available in the next couple months.

Family updates: Justin and Finn, our dog, are both doing great! We've had a good summer making space for gardening and adventures in the midst of our working lives. We've also done some bike rides and long hikes. We especially enjoyed a weekend in Clear Lake, IA with family, a trip to the Ozarks with family and a few days just west of Grand Marais on Devils Track Lake with Finn. It was so quiet and beautiful there, and we hiked to the top of Eagle Mountain! Here's a photo of Justin and me from the official book launch party at Zumbro Lutheran Church in late July. He is an outstanding partner, and his support throughout the ups and downs and in-betweens of 2019 has meant the world to me!

A vocational transition for me: I'm shifting from my role as the Southeastern Minnesota Synod Director of Communications into a new position as Interim Assistant to the Bishop effective September 1. Over the past year, the synod participated in the process of calling our next bishop. At the end of the 2019 Southeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly on June 1, the synod called Rev. Regina Hassanally as our new bishop, and her term starts September 1. Bishop Steven Delzer will conclude his 6-year term as bishop on August 31. It has been a joy to serve on the current staff, and I'm thrilled to serve under the leadership of our new Bishop-Elect Hassanally! My new position will involve candidacy, congregational life, call process and mission support.

I continue to write a weekly column for the Rochester Post-Bulletin every Saturday. I also maintain a Facebook writer's page that I'd love for you to "like." Here's that link. 

Let's hang out: I rejoice in opportunities to do speaking engagements and facilitate workshops for businesses and congregations. My focus areas for workshops include any of the following 1) effective interpersonal communications, 2) incorporating spiritual practices into daily life, 3) an exploration of the book "Holy Everything," 4) building resilience personally and professionally and 5) building adult friendships. Please email me directly if you're interested in having me come to your congregation or workplace, and I'll share more details about how and when we can make that happen.

Please stay tuned next month for more resources and reflections. Thank you for your friendship and support. If you know someone who would like to be added to this email mailing list, have them visit this link and click the "Join my email list" button. Thanks!

Book Signing

I'm excited to do a book signing there on Saturday, October 5 from 1-2PM. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble at Apache Mall in Rochester. Please come!

You can purchase the book there or you can bring your previously purchased copy. I'm excited to see you and connect.



Earlier this week I wrote an essay about the recent discernment of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to become a sanctuary church.

Click the image above for the full post if you're interested in reading it.


The Book Launch

Here are a few photos from July's book launch for "Holy Everything." 
I can't believe it has almost been two weeks since that super fun evening.
Have you ordered your copy?  After you do, please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon; it makes a big difference in helping to spread the word about the book. 

A pic with my mom, Pam and her fiance, Bob. They were a big help behind the scenes, and Bob drove all the way to Minneapolis to get the gluten-free cake! Thanks, Bob! 

Here's a pic with my publisher, Brian Scott! He owns the company, Nine Foot Voice. 

Handsome husband, Justin. 

Here I am with Bishop Delzer! A great friend and mentor and boss. 

The Melines! Lois and Byron! Byron was the senior pastor at my first call in Stewartville. They are a special family. 

Mom, Bob and I made many fruit kabobs.

My pal Elizabeth! She's a photographer and wonderful human with a big heart. 

My amazing in-laws, Jerry and Nancy! My sis in law, Mandie, made these personalized shirts! HOW COOL!


My pal, Les! He and Cheryl and amazing people! Cheryl was part of the AMMPARO group that traveled to the border in January. 

With Sylvia and her family! She has been my life coach for the past 18 months! 


Up North In Review

Earlier this month, Finn, Justin and I headed up north from a Wednesday afternoon-Sunday! We had a blast and visited Duluth, Lutsen and Devil's Track Lake outside Grand Marais. Here are some of our highlights from the adventure...

We're off! We got a rental vehicle for the trip with great mileage. 

We visited Vikre Distillery and did their free daily tour! Highly recommend!
We had dinner at the Green Mill downtown, and they had a nice gluten free selection.
We stayed in the basement unit of an AirBNB on Wednesday night.

Enger Tower on Thursday morning

Enger Tower on Thursday morning

The view from Enger

Duluth Rose Garden - It was beautiful, but Finn was NOT a fan of the Leif Erickson statue.
Finn despises a few things: statues, hot air balloons and walking on wet grass. 
After a delicious coffee at Bakehouse in Duluth with our friend, Kate, we stopped at Duluth Trading Company and Justin found some new pants. After that we drove to Lutsen where we stayed a night at Lutsen Resort. We ate smoked fish that we picked up on the drive. There is a wing of pet-friendly rooms at the resort. 

On Thursday night we enjoyed live music at North Shore Winery. We really enjoyed their cider, and I had a glass of their Lutsen red wine blend. So good! 

On Friday morning we started with breakfast and then went for a hike. We also stopped for a coffee at Fika Coffee in Lutsen. 

We stopped in Grand Marais for a few groceries on Friday afternoon and then we headed to our little green cabin on Devil's Track Lake. We were there Friday & Saturday night before heading home Sunday morning. We loved this lake! Very quiet and peaceful and great for canoeing. 

Finn enjoyed the deck and he even got in the water a time or two! 

We hiked Eagle Mountain and THEN found out it's the highest point in Minnesota!

Handsome hiker. 

It was a great hike up Mosquito Eagle Mountain!

Gorgeous views!

We really enjoyed our time at the cabin and did a lot of adventuring, canoeing, resting and hiking! Then on Sunday we stopped and wandered around Artists Point in Grand Marais on our way back south. It was a long drive home, but we were very grateful for the time we spent up north! 


Ordering the Book

My book, Holy Everything, is now available as well as a free downloadable discussion guide! There are three options -

1) If you'd like a personalized/signed copy, please order from me directly for $19.20 ($15.95/book + $3.25/shipping+envelope). I'll send it to you through the mail: Contact me directly through email to select this option; you'll use this link for payment and then email me your preferred physical mailing address.

2) Order through Amazon (where it's available in print and digital formats): Holy Everything

3) Order through Barnes and Noble: Holy Everything

I've now created an accompanying study guide with 2-3 questions to go with every essay. Click here for the free PDF download. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement!


The Wind in the Willows

Long ago - in a land far, far away - I blogged every day. The content of the blog was basically a diary/travelogue. I shared photos and outings and reflections. It wasn't fancy. But it was a record of life. I miss that style of blogging and use of the Internet.

I'm going to experiment a bit and see if a return to a more "scrapbook style" of blogging feels good.

Let me tell you about yesterday (Saturday). My husband, Justin, has one brother, Brian. Brian is married to Mandie, and they have three kids. Their oldest was in a musical over the weekend in Iowa, and we were able to drive down for the day to see it (and celebrate two family birthdays).

The musical was "The Wind in the Willows."

Here's a summary.  The novel was originally published in 1908. It was first adapted for the stage in 1929. It was first animated in 1949. A second adaption for the stage was completed in 2016, and that's the version we saw yesterday produced by Bell Tower Theater. Prior to seeing yesterday's production, I had not read or heard "The Wind in the Willows" before.

The main characters are Mole, Rat, Mr. Toad and Badger.

Here were my favorite songs:

  • Messing About in a Boat (link)
  • The Hedgehog's Nightmare (link)
  • A Friend is Still a Friend (link) - This song basically sums up the essence of the musical.  
We got back about 11:30PM last night. We were so glad to get to see our nephew on stage and also thankful to celebrate family birthdays. On the way home we stopped at the Culver's in Decorah for a sweet treat. Magnificent!

Uncle Justy and Max

Way to go to this whole cast - entirely made up of youth! So cool! 

Sophia (age 5): "Please take a picture of my blanket." 


Book Launch Party: July 25 from 6-8PM

Hi! What are you doing on July 25 from 6-8PM?
Please join me for a celebration!

More details in this week's column.


Sermon for Sunday, June 23, 2019


At the outset, it’s a starkly strange story. A naked man chained in a tomb. Demons. Pigs. Outraged community members. Miraculous healings. 

But keep digging under the shocking elements of the reading and we discover that at its core, it’s a story about how fear and isolation impact a community. It’s also a story about how Jesus responds to complicated situations. In encountering this story, we gain new insights about what it means to confront the forces of evil and fear in our community and world today. 

As a bit of context, this reading comes from the 8th chapter of Luke. Earlier in the chapter, Jesus is doing lots of preaching and proclaiming. He has his disciples and other friends with him. He’s telling parables. Then he gets into a boat with his friends and calms the giant waves during a storm. Right after the boat incident is today’s story. Jesus and however many friends are with him have crossed into a new region. It’s a Gentile area - another way of saying it’s not Jewish people like Jesus and his disciples. They step out of the boat and immediately encounter a man with a serious illness.

Luke, the author of the Gospel, goes into a lot of detail in describing the man’s terrible situation. For a long time he’s been without clothing - not comical but tragic. He’s shouting and lives chained in the tombs. The town has apparently hired some kind of guard to watch him so he doesn’t disrupt life. But even the guard can’t handle him and he breaks away. 

This man is in complete isolation. In a completely communal, family-oriented society, he has nothing. No one. It’s a tragic story. We have no idea how long he has been sick or the nature of his psychosis. Luke understands the illness to be demon possession. Maybe it was. Or, also likely, perhaps he had a severe psychological illness and no available treatment.

The community apparently didn’t know what to do with him so they chained him to a tomb. They stuck him away from the rest of society and tried to look the other way. And maybe, if we pause long enough to be honest with ourselves, we get it. We understand the inclination to avoid daunting, complicated situations. 

The story raises questions for our own consideration 2000 years later. What do we do in situations that feel big and complicated? What do we do with realities that make us uncomfortable? What do we do with people and groups of people who don’t fit societal conventions? 

If we watch the local news or listen to the NPR headlines or read today’s New York Times, we’ll encounter a multitude of big, complicated realities happening in our community, country and world. How do we respond? The same is true in our congregations - workplaces - and families.

Sometimes we are tempted to do what the Geresenes did. We try to stuff all those complications in a big ol’ tomb and chain them up. We shove it all in the closet and lock the door. We send other people to deal with it (like the guards referenced in verse 29). 

Whether we’re talking about refugee families in holding centers without enough blankets or toothbrushes - or the mass extinction if insects crucial to the ecosystem - or a lack of affordable housing in Rochester, there are times we just want to put it all in a cave and shut the tomb. It’s hard to acknowledge complicated, scary, broken situations. 

This hesitancy to lean toward hard stuff is part of why systemic evil is so difficult to confront. Father Richard Rohr writes, “Evil lurks powerfully in the shadows, in our unconscious complicity with systems that serve us at others’ expense. It creates worldviews of entitlement and privilege.” 

Jesus’ approach is different than our general human inclination to avoid. It’s the opposite. Jesus gives us a model for what to do when we encounter brokenness and tension - in family, workplace and the world. 

Jesus doesn’t run or hide or avoid. Instead, he leans in. He asks the man his name. Then he removes the toxic, evil forces from his life. He returns the man to the fullness of life and community. The man begs Jesus to be with him, but Jesus gives him a different assignment: “Go home and declare what God has done for you.” Essentially, he’s calling him to go and be a missionary - spreading the good news - telling the story back home. 

Good news for the man. Everything about his life changed in a very short time. But there's another part to the story that's also important. 

In this same story of a man who is healed, there’s also a story of immense disruption for the townspeople. When Jesus responds to complicated situations, he generally doesn’t just put a pretty pink bow on them. Just as he heals and comforts, he also disrupts and provokes. In casting the evil out of the man into a herd of pigs, everybody in the town gets riled up! They ask Jesus to leave and they’re full of fear. The fear of the community is mentioned on multiple occasions. Jesus healed the man. He freed him. And the people in the community don’t know how to make sense of the new reality. Instead of wanting more of that freedom…they just want to feel comfortable again. So they ask Jesus to leave. This element of the Gospel is important, too. 

Jesus cares about people at the margins - like the man in the tomb. He also cares about people who are not at the margins - everyone else - the people who put other people in tombs. The people who perpetuate oppressive systems. Jesus loves them, too. And sometimes that love shows up as a disruption. The story doesn’t end with that whole community worshipping God and asking Jesus to come hang out. Instead, the story ends with Jesus getting back in the boat and leaving because they don’t want him and his disruptions around. 

As individuals and as a congregation - there are times when we are like the man in the tomb - and we long for healing. Sometimes, we are the ones who need to be healed and restored to a sense of community. And there are times when we are like the community of outraged citizens, and we need something to disrupt our lives and routines and wake us up to the injustice we perpetuate. A lot of the time, we’re in both groups at the same time. 

What I find so very hopeful is that regardless of where we find ourselves in the story, Jesus is there, too. That’s the good news. Jesus shows up and steps in. And then Jesus invites us to declare how much God has done for us. 

Member missionaries of People of Hope Lutheran Church, maybe you’re feeling some kinship with the man in the tomb. Maybe you’re feeling isolated and in need of a renewed sense of community. Or maybe you’re identifying with the people of the town a bit today...and wondering about the ways in which we are collectively complicit in participating in systems that oppress other people. Maybe you’re pondering new ways to respond with compassion and boldness. Wherever you are today - Jesus is there, too. 

Jesus is there with us - inviting us to step closer. We can hide and avoid. Or we can step closer. In moving nearer to the parts of life we find confusing, what we’ll find is each other…a community with whom to journey….and a God who walks with us as we navigate the storms and broken parts of life. 

Thanks be to God for the brave, responsive love of Jesus. May today’s reading remind us that Jesus is not afraid of brokenness. He’s not afraid of tombs. Perhaps this is because he knows firsthand that it is through stepping into the uncertainty of the tomb that new life is found.


Life lately

Hello friends.
What a very full season of life it has been!
Some highlights since 2019 began....

  • participated in the Border Immersion Experience in El Paso and Las Cruces with Border Servant Corps
  • Visited Napa and Sonoma with Justin
  • Started a new treatment program for my ITP (That has led me to a current Nplate dose that is just 5% of what I use to get every week! So close to an injection-free life and remission!)
  • Led a women's retreat at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Hopkins
  • Pulpit supplied for a few months at Homestead Methodist Church
  • Was nominated as a candidate for bishop in January
  • Attended a Lilly School of Fundraising course in Indianapolis
  • Annual Lenten column series for the Post-Bulletin (this year with a special twist!)
  • Celebrated my sister-in-law by attending her defense for her PhD in Ames at Iowa State! Way to go, Sister!
  • Led a couple Boundaries workshops for the synod
  • Began a one-year leadership training program called SHAPE
  • Served as a confirmation mentor during the season of Lent at Zumbro
  • Presented for the April Rochester Chamber Women's Roundtable on "Incorporating Spiritual Practices into Daily Life"
  • Iowa Easter weekend
  • Preached at St. Olaf College
  • Celebrated Megan and Jeremy's Wedding in Dubuque 
  • Planned the 2019 Spring Communications Workshop
  • Celebrated Mother's Day with our moms in Forrestville
  • Participated in 3 Discernment Events with the other 6 nominees for bishop at different locations around the synod
  • Attended niece Sophia's dance recital in Iowa
  • Ran a half-marathon in mid-May
  • Technical production manager for 2019 Synod Assembly with an outstanding tech crew
  • Participated as a nominee for bishop during the 2019 Synod Assembly
  • Final staff retreat
  • Began the #summeroffun on June 2 (goal: time in the garden, time with friends, new deck furniture)
  • Celebrated my 36th birthday in Clear Lake, Iowa with Josh, Sweta, Justin, Mom and Bob
What a very full and glorious season it has been. 


This has been the most spiritually formative and exhausting season of my life. We're now a few weeks into what Justin and I are calling the "Summer of Fun," and I'm grateful! It's taking me a bit to really "relax" and trust that it's okay to live in a time of unknowns. I'm learning that actually the unknowns are a kind of gift. 

I'm hoping to get back into regular writing and photography (with my real camera). And maybe some typewriter time (and a return to last year's "Summer of Stillness"). 

Thank you for your friendship!