Three Good Things

It's a suggested happiness practice from the Greater Good Science Center of University of California - Berkeley. 

I have a very basic daily gratitude practice that I do each morning - but I'm thinking about incorporating Three Good Things as an evening ritual. Very cool. 


Situation Report: California

I give thanks for the ministry of Lutheran Disaster Response. 

Here's a way to give financially online: link.

Psalm 43:1-7 comes to mind...



Fig Tree Ponderings

In the mornings this month I've been using the "The Word in Season" devotional produced by Augsburg Fortress.

Saturday's reading was Mark 11:12-14 & 20-24. FASCINATING and perplexing Gospel text. Here's a look.

There are a multitude of curiosities in this text. 
  • Jesus was hungry...cool little detail reminding us that Jesus was a real human who consumed food. 
  • He sees a fig tree wanting to get a snack, and there are no figs on the tree....because it wasn't fig season. 
  • Fascinatingly, he then curses the tree and his disciples overhear him do it. He appears to be quite upset that he can't have a fig snack. I can imagine the disciples whispering to each other, "Wow, Jesus must be having a rough day. Or he must be really hangry (hungry + angry)."
  • The next morning, the tree is dead. 
  • Jesus turns it into a teaching moment, "Yeah, of course it's dead. All you need is faith and you can do anything." 
  • He then connects prayer to the emotional state of the person praying...he seems to be saying that prayer is about more than the words being prayed...more than the petitions. It's also about the person praying believing that it's already happening: "Believe that it will come to pass....and believe that you have already received it." 
This morning, I also heard a Gospel song I haven't heard before: "No Reason to Fear." A link to the Youtube and lyrics is below. The point of the song is that we don't have to fear in life because God gets the final say on everything. 

I think Jesus might be saying something similar in the Gospel. 

So what does this mean for our lives today? 

I don't know. I am going to keep chewing. 

And as I pray in the week ahead, I'm going to pray not just with my words and hopes...but with my whole heart - visualizing the outcome as if it's already happening and praying more than anything for God's will to be done. 

Lyrics of "No Reason to Fear"


All Saints Sermon from November 4, 2018

Today, on this All Saints Sunday, Jesus meets us in the most painful, difficult, complicated parts of life. He cries into the tombs of our despair and hopelessness. He invites us to come out of those tombs…to be free…to believe.

Today’s Gospel text is full of real, raw emotion. It centers around real, devastated people dealing with one of life’s few inevitabilities: death. Yet even though we all know its coming, none of us knows exactly when…and sometimes it feels very untimely.

In the case of today’s Gospel reading, it’s a man named Lazarus who has died….probably moderately young…maybe in his 20s or 30s. He has two sisters, Mary and Martha. Mary, Martha and Lazarus are good friends of Jesus.

Lazarus has died…and Mary and Martha are distraught with grief.

The sequence of the Gospel story is significant…the way Jesus enters into the situation reminds us of how Jesus enters into our situations. Before Jesus calls us out of our tombs of despair and sadness, he first meets us wherever we’re at.

In interacting with Mary and Martha, Jesus enters into the realities of the situation - he’s ready to hear their stories and to feel real feelings right along with them.

Today’s Gospel story reminds us of the depth and significance of Jesus’ feelings. When Jesus sees Mary and her friends crying…John tells us that Jesus was “great disturbed in spirit.” And then Jesus weeps, too.

There is comfort in knowing that God in Jesus not only came here to proclaim hope - and life over death - and love over hate…Jesus also came among us to accompany us in the real lived experiences of being human.

As we weep nationally…over anti-Semitism, violence, hatred, injustice, misogyny, and racism…as we weep over people being unable to honor our shared humanity…as we weep, we can imagine Jesus drawing near and weeping, too. Mary cries out, “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” We feel that way sometimes, too, “God, if you would just intervene, life wouldn’t have to be so complicated.”

It’s interesting that in that raw, real moment of Mary speaking out to Jesus, he doesn’t try to explain away God’s mysteries…or talk her out of her feelings…instead, he witnesses her feelings and he gives himself permission to grieve, too.

Today, we invite Jesus to draw near…to come closer…to feel it all right with us.

In the Gospel, Jesus invites the people to move the stone away so that he can have access to Lazarus…to the finality of it…to death. Martha warns him of the stench…a dead body - deceased 4 days - long before modern embalming technology.

Jesus is not intimidated by the stench of death. He doesn’t avoid it. He just gets closer.

We don’t have to try and protect Jesus from the brokenness in our own lives…the hopelessness…the fear…the uncertainty…the anger. Jesus comes near to us, he joins us and he calls us out of our despair - out of our tombs.

Even when hope seems dead and all that’s left is a stench and a dream of what could’ve been, Jesus still draws near and still brings a word of hope.

Jesus calls out to Lazarus: “Lazarus, come out!”….he invites those around him to “Unbind him and let him go.”

In that moment, Jesus frees Lazarus, Mary and Martha - from despair, from death, from hopelessness…and today, in this moment, Jesus frees us. No matter how stinky the tomb we’re in, Jesus brings hope He doesn’t offer us naive hope - or the false belief that somehow we can prevent death in this earthy life. We can’t. We’ll all die. Lazarus eventually died a permanent earthly death, too.

Jesus reminds us that hope perseveres. He reminds us that death and hatred and pain are real….very real parts of life…but they aren’t final. And love is stronger. Stronger than death, stronger than hatred, stronger that despair. Jesus reminds us today that we can experience deep and painful emotions without getting stuck in them.

On All Saints Sunday, as we worship and sing hymns and light candles: we grieve - we remember - we process reality as it is - we hope - and we trust. For some, the people on our hearts and minds died recently. For others, it was long ago. There are a complexity of emotions in this space today…and the Holy Spirit makes space for all of them. Some of us are grieving people today…and some of us are grieving other deaths…the death of a pet, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, the death of a dream we had for our own lives, our a dream we had for our children’s lives.

Just as Jesus drew near to Mary and Martha and wept with them, Jesus draws near to us, and weeps with us, too…acknowledging that life can be deeply hard and painful.

And then Jesus calls us to step out our tombs into the light of hope.

We give thanks today - that in life and in death…in grief and in gratitude…in all that this life entails, Jesus draws near and reminds us that we are never alone.

Love prevails. Thanks be to God.


The Love I Fought to Feel was Always Free

Jon Bellion released a new album yesterday. You can stream it on Spotify.

I like this song a lot: "Stupid Deep."

Here's the chorus:
What if who I hoped to be was always me?
And the love I fought to feel was always free?
What if all the things I've done (What if all the things I've done)
Were just attempts at earning love?
But the hole inside my heart is stupid deep, oh, stupid deep


Greetings after a two month blog hiatus

This amazing quilt was part of the Good Earth Village live auction in October.
We got it! We love it, and Finn does, too. 

Well, it sure has been a minute! 
Two months since my last post?! 
Where has the time gone? 
This autumn is zooming by so quickly. 

Some highlights from September to today...
  • September highlights: 
    • Alex's birthday party in Iowa! Happy 35th to Alex! 
    • Sarah and Jon's wedding in Iowa
    • Book group: LOVE THESE LADIES!
    • Facilitating a boundaries workshop for work
    • Visiting Josh and Sweta in Iowa: Bro and sis, love you so much! 
  • October highlights: 
    • Walking with friends around Silver Lake
    • Elle and Evan's wedding in Asheville
    • A week in North Carolina with my hubby: What a vacay! So great. Fell in love with NC!
    • Staff retreat in Nisswa: Oh, dearest team. So much gratitude for these gems. 
    • Good Earth Village Gala
    • Installation of a pastor, pulpit supplying and all kinds of cool work projects
    • Gave a speech on restorative justice for the Rochester Rotary Club
    • Denver, IA Saturday to celebrate Nancy's birthday
    • Creation of the "We Matter Mavens" habits group that will be meeting monthly (my November goal is to get to the gym 8 times)
    • Halloween fun with Alex and hubby at Forager
    • Community healing service at the synagogue in town 
  • November highlights so far: 
    • Hefe Rojo with Justin, Byron and Lois
    • Time with friends
    • Walks at the RAC & Silver Lake
    • Pulpit supply at Hosanna for All Saints
    • Funeral home visit with the 9th grade confirmation kids from Zumbro
    • 2018 Fall Theological Conference: "Dismantling White Supremacy: Building Beloved Community" - by far my favorite Theo Conf ever...amazing speakers, courage-building collegiality, spiritually engaging...THANK YOU, HOLY SPIRIT!
Vocational highlights: I'm really grateful for my job and my team and the people and congregations we serve. The election of a bishop is coming up at the end of May. There has been a lot of interesting and meaningful work involved in getting the people of our synod engaged in the process. The whole staff is co-terminus with Bishop Delzer so that means we all turn in our resignations when his term ends, and then it is up to the new bishop to discern if she/he/they would like to bring us back onto staff. Personally, it has been a period of discernment. I love serving in my current role, but I also feel quite open to whatever new possibilities the Holy Spirit is cooking up. My first call in Stewartville was extremely formative and impactful, this role has also been formative and impactful, and I trust that whatever is ahead will be awesome! 



Howdy! Have you liked my writing page on Facebook?

Here's the link. 

I try to post my columns and other pieces on that platform.

I hope you had a great weekend!

I was in Owatonna Friday/Saturday for a terrific Synod Council meeting and then Austin yesterday for a morning worship service and then a late afternoon service. Between the services, I visited the Spam Museum, Sweet Reads and Buffy the Cow. I love Austin!


Sandbox Cooperative

Earlier this summer I got to visit the Sandbox Cooperative HEADQUARTERS in Rochester to record an episode of their podcast with Chris and Dave. It was a blast and a big honor to participate in such a cool project.

The episode is about communicating. Check out episode 69 of the Sandbox Cooperative podcast (and all the rest of their episodes as well)!

Here's the link. 


Cafe Collaboration

Good morning!

I had the opportunity to collaborate with Cafe this month to share a reflection with you on your identity as precious, honored, and loved.

You can find it here