Friday Thanksgivings

Today I am continuing my series of Friday Thanksgivings I began earlier this month as a way of celebrating Thanksgiving all month. I am not sure if these will continue weekly next week, or if I will leave them as a practice for November. What do you think?

In the mean time, with Thanksgiving being this past Thursday, here are some more things I am thankful for:

Taking a funny picture with Grandma around the table
Taking a funny picture with Grandma around the table

1) I am thankful for family. For those gathered together with us this weekend and those far away. For those still living and serving, and those who are dearly departed. I am thankful for grandparents, great aunts and great uncles. I am thankful for aunts, uncles and cousins. I am thankful for in-laws. I am thankful for my brother, sister, mom and dad. I am thankful for my partner, co-conspiritor and collaborator in life, love, ministry and all of the adventures that all of these bring.

2) I am thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration (that continues today) among family gathered with lots of beautiful snow outside on the ground. The meals have been wonderful, the fellowship and conversation a joy. And, the warmth of hearts and home un-matchable.

Beautiful table all set for Thanksgiving Dinner
Beautiful table all set for Thanksgiving Dinner

3) I am thankful for some of my family’s favorite recipes that we have used this year- especially my mom’s creamed corn, and my Grandma S.’ Pumpkin Chiffon pie.

4) I am thankful for each one of you who read, share, and are part of the conversation. I love hearing from you and thinking, imagining and wondering together with you.

5) I am thankful that I have so many wonderful co-workers and collaborators in ministry. I am thankful for my co-workers, including: Allison, Beth, Chris, Chris, Cindi, Diane, Fred, Julia, Julie, Kris, Lynn, Marcia, Neil, Peggy, Tisa, and Vonda.

6) I am thankful for the gift of life each day, and for God who creates that gift. I am not always sure what the day is going to bring, but I am glad to have it and to feel like I have something to do and to help others and work alongside others in doing work that matters and positively contributes to the needs of the world in some way.

What are you thankful for? What do you feel like lifting up in thanksgiving today? And, what do you think about me continuing this series weekly on Fridays all year long?


This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking from the past week with all of you. To help do that, I have put the different articles and pieces I have seen into different categories. This week’s topic categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship and Vocation. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

#ChSocM (Church Social Media) shared highlights from their weekly Twitter Chat last week in “Lo and behold, another Advent!” This chat featured thoughts and tips about observing and celebrating Advent. Check this out for great ideas and resources!

Blogger and pastor Jan Edmiston writes, “This Could Change Everything (in the PCUSA).” As Jan asked, allow me to repeat, “What has this church done to make changes and growth in the past year?”

Jan also offered some important reflections in “So Many Consultants.” I love her closing paragraph where she writes and asks, “Partnerships are the way to go in the 21st Century Church:  partnering between congregations, between churches and denominations, between congregations and consultants who help us lead impactful change.  As we move into both a new liturgical years and a new calendar year in the days and weeks to come, how can we be the church for a new day?” What do you think?

Friend and pastor Joe Smith reflects on “Legacy Protestant Public Temples and Family Churches,” specifically thinking about the claims of “all are welcome,” and the potential for building community among smaller communities such as house churches. What do you think of Joe’s thoughts?

Lynn Willis shared a post on the LEAD blog, “Spirituality 101: God in Every Step.” Within this, Lynn includes “ten tiny steps to be aware of God every day and in every place.” The steps include ways to be aware of God when you: breathe; email; shower/brush your teeth; recycle; pray grace; pick up something that fell; hit red lights; play video or computer games; using your car keys; and when going to the restroom.

Yesterday I shared some reflections about the congregation I am currently serving’s recent annual meeting. What are your faith community annual meeting experiences like generally? Any profound memories of annual meetings past?

With Advent beginning this week, friend, blogger and pastor Jamie Brieske writes and asks, “Advent- what is it anyway?

On the subject of Advent and preparing for the first week in it, Rev. Dr. David Lose shared this helpful post, “Advent 1: Preaching a Participatory Advent.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Julian Stodd shared some good reflections about what he sees as “A Global Social Age.”

An Opening Door
An Opening Door- symbolic of opening more doors in business and life

Christina DesMarais shared “7 Ways to Open More Doors in Business and Life: a few simple tweaks can result in more opportunities for success.” The seven ways are: associate with winners; think of yourself as lucky; be generous; be curious; be in the right place; post intelligent commentary online and acknowledge the attractiveness bias.

Adam Copeland shared “Creativity Interview Series: Bethany Stolle.”

Zack Fagan shared “6 Word of Mouth Marketing Tips to Get People Talking About Your Business.” The tips he offers includes: promote word of mouth by providing above average service; connect with industry influencers; create a core group of insiders; incentivize word of mouth to get people talking; use social media to create personal connections; and publish quality content.

Louis Shapiro and C. Mark Angelo explained how “Teaching Hospitals are the Best Place to Test Health Innovation.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Steve Keating asked, “How Much Does Good Judgment Matter?” What do you think?

Brian Dodd shared “6 Reasons Leaders Fail.” The reasons include that leaders fail when: they are not positioned for success; they do not receive consistent support from their teammates; they make unnecessary mistakes; due to lack of leadership; when they miss opportunities and sometimes because they are simply human. What other reasons might you add to this list?

Happy Thanksgiving from our household to yours!
Speaking of Thanksgiving, Happy Thanksgiving from our household to yours!

Debra Dickerson writes about “The Power of Gratitude” with Thanksgiving and leadership on her mind.

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts over the past week. A few that really stood out to me were “How to Lead with Compassion but not be a Pushover,” where Dan includes a list of 7 ways one can be a compassionate leader, including “meet a need” among others; “10 Ways to Grow into Challenges“; “Is It Time to Stop Saying Thank You“; and “How to Expand Leadership with Gratitude.” These are fantastic pieces which are quick reads but also wonderful starting places for personal reflection about one’s own life and leadership.

Tal Shnall wrote about “Becoming A Resilient Leader: Navigating Life’s Challenges.”

Lolly Daskal wrote that “The Best Leaders are Critical Thinkers.” She includes a number of habits that critical thinkers use or do, including: leading with questions; embracing different points of view; leading with agility; and keeping an open mind.

Rhett Power shared “3 Reasons Why Helping Others is Great for Business.” I particularly appreciate the article’s sub-heading which seems very Drucker like to me, “Frame your mission around how the business will serve others.” The reasons that Rhett includes for helping others are: serving others; visualization and goal setting.

Bob Tiede shared a guest post by Denis McLaughlin, “Leaders, When in Doubt- Ask the Right Questions.”

Dharmesh Shah shared a list of “12 Surprising Facts about Entrepreneurs.”

Cranston Holden shared a reflection about “When a leader loses Authority.”


Jon Mertz raised an important question for leadership but also millennials this past week, asking “What Does Giving Trust Mean?” Reflection is given to: work, purpose; relationships; and conversations. How do you lead through giving trust or entrusting others? How have you been entrusted to lead by others?

Heidi Oran shared a wonderful reflection about “The Trouble with Distractions.” Heidi highlights three benefits of getting to know one’s self better: we become better listeners; we make decisions for the right reasons; and we cultivate more empathy. As Heidi asked allow me to repeat, “How do you lead through distractions? What benefits have you realized?”

The Word Cloud of Change
In response to this article’s premise and talking about young people without actually engaging them, consider this Word Cloud of Change which was built primarily by young adults and teenagers who are all active and engaged in faith communities.

In what was probably the post that most did not sit with me well of the past week, among things I regularly read, Russel Lackey asked in The Lutheran, Has the Spirit forgotten how to call young people?” It’s this sort of post that demonstrates how the church and faith communities need to provide space to seriously engage different generations and perspectives together instead of just talking about each other in a form of “othering.”

Friend and pastor Tyler Gubsch shared a helpful post in relation to this topic by Sam Rainer about “What to Expect if You’re a Church’s First Millennial Pastor.

Additionally, Tyler pointed me to this post from Drew Dyck, “Millennials Need a Bigger God, Not a Hipper Pastor.” What do you think?

Neighbor Love

In light of the Ferguson grand jury decision last night, Nekima Levy-Pounds writes, “‘No Justice, No Peace’ in Ferguson and Across America.”

In a follow-up to the story about #Pointergate that was covered in great detail last week, friend and blogger Erik Bergs shared some “Reflections on ‘Pointergate.'” What do you think of Erik’s reflections and ideas?

Sarah Bessey reflected about “Radical Inclusion.” I found this reflection powerful and moving. One passage that particularly stands out is where Sarah writes, “The work of goodness is a creative work, a beautiful work. Being someone who creates good transcends arguments and moral persuasions, facts and figures of dry doctrine. Goodness disarms the skeptic and the cynic. Our way of creating good is a prophetic act, sometimes even a humble act of resistance and danger. We embody the dream of God for humanity in our right-now lives. We create good by choosing the paths of Christ. Truth is good, justice is good, beauty is good. Wherever we find ourselves in our vocation or our calling, whether we feel like we have achieved our dreams or simply achieved another day of trying, we have the precious opportunity to create good, to be a purveyor of goodness, to anoint our communities with goodness.” Go and read the whole post, you will be glad you did.

One of the countless Christmas scenes and centerpieces designed and created by Thomas Kinkade
One of the countless Christmas scenes and centerpieces designed and created by Thomas Kinkade

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared and asked a timely post with Advent, soon Christmas and winter upon us I think, “Thomas Kinkade and Christianity- What do we learn from ‘The Painter of Light’?

Bishop Mike Rinehart reflected about “Where Luther Got it Wrong: The Peasants’ Revolt.”

Bishop Rinehart also shared the “ELCA Bishops’ Statement on Immigration Announcement.”

On the subject of the immigration announcement, Paul Krugman wrote powerfully, “Suffer Little Children.”

Also with that subject in mind, Nicholas Kristof wrote “Immigration Enriches You and Me.”

Friend, pastor and blogger Diane Roth shared a number of thought provoking posts over the past week. One of her posts includes ideas of being gathered around one table in “The Last ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.'” Another is about “the handwriting on the wall,” while a third post is on “Memory Loss.” Check out all of these good posts.

Friend and professor Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner shared this interesting story about “The Curious Case of Jesus’s wife,” by Joel Baden and Candida Moss.

RJ Grunewald reflected and shared about “How Black Friday Forms Us.”

Friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared a number of important posts over the past week. First, he shared his sermon from a little over a week ago, “Bullying into prayer, swords into plowshares,” based on Isaiah 36, 37 and 2. Frank also shared his most recent sermon, “Generational lines, ‘All Star’ clergy, and reaching the aliens,” based on Jeremiah 1 & 7. Frank also asked an important question which I hope all faith communities continue to wrestle with, “Are ‘All’ Really Welcome?” What do you think?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the Links with his “Really Recommended Posts.”

Back in August, Kevan Lee shared thoughts on “How to Choose the Right Social Network for Your Business.”


In a fair question with implications for millennials, young adults, the economy and society as a whole, Alicia Waters asked, “What Are We Going to Do About College Costs?

Michelle wrote and shared, “Bad Money Mistakes Couples Should Avoid- They May Be Making You Poor and Stressed Out.”

Last week I shared some more reflections on what I am thankful and grateful for in “Friday Thanksgivings.”

Grace Duddy Pomroy in action talking about stewardship, giving and young adults
Grace Duddy Pomroy in action talking about stewardship, giving and young adults

Young Adult Money shared, “8 Ways to Save Money Shopping at Target.” The ways offered include: Target REDcard; pharmacy rewards; Target coupons; manufacturer coupons; the cartwheel app; sales & clearance; gift card promotions and free shipping.

In a similar vein, Stefanie explained about “How to Maximize Your Dollar With the Best Shopping Apps.”

The COMPASS blog this week is featuring a two part series with an interview with Grace Duddy Pomroy. Check out the first post in the series, and be sure to check out the second post as well. Both posts have great reflections on giving, stewardship and millennials


Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared an honest reflection in “‘Back to Basics’ & ‘The Weekend Word.'”

Friends Katie and Will continue to share their adventures in South Africa and Lesotho in their latest post, “The sun burns hot in the mountains of Lesotho.”

Friend, professor and blogger Dr. Mary Hess shared and asked, “Anyone can change the world?

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared great vocational insights and reflections in her Friday Favorites, her Sunday Snippits, and her Thanksgiving themed Tuesday Tea Time.

Friend, professor and blogger Dr. Ron Byrnes reflected and asked, “My Teaching Best- What’s It Look Like?


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them. As always if there are particular topics you would like me to include, please let me know. Also, if there are particular questions or ideas you would like me to blog about please let me know that as well. Thanks for reading, and until next time, blessings on your week and for all of you celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving! I for one give thanks for all of your continued support, collaboration and readership! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Opening Door; and Thomas Kinkade Christmas Centerpiece.

The Unexpected and Mysterious of an Annual Meeting

annual church meetingYesterday the congregation where I am currently serving as interim on staff held it’s annual meeting. I was expecting a relatively quick meeting as long as we didn’t get bogged down too much with constitution wording changes and the annual presentation of the budget. I also figured people in attendance would be motivated to think and decide quickly in part because they would want to get home from the meeting to watch the Vikings and Packers.

Well, needless to say, the unexpected happened. The meeting went for nearly two hours. However, I was not mad or disappointed about that. Actually I was quite in awe of this. Not only were those in attendance participating and active, you could see how much they thought the conversation and discussion was important.

They were motivated and invested. This speaks highly of the congregation, but more importantly of their grasp of lay leadership and what they perceive as the redevelopment the congregation is in the midst of.

What particularly strikes me today was the way the people gathered decided they did not want to take all of the suggested budget changes as is. From the floor congregant after congregant expressed a desire to not cut staff hours and compensation. Now, to be fair, the plan in place from the congregation’s leadership board wasn’t to cut staff hours, but to rather change the staffing model. I believe the congregation understands the need for the staffing model changes. However, I was floored by the way they stood up and actively offered a bit more financially with each other in pledges and checks in order to try and make it apparent that they believe investing in ministry, involves investing in staff.

It was mentioned that staff salaries and income levels have not increased in a number of years. The noticeable reaction from those gathered struck me. There is a level of deep care and compassion among this congregation. I am not sure the financial decisions from yesterday were little more than a band-aid, but to me they say something about the heart and mind of this congregation.

Whether it has been named or not, they understand themselves as stewards. They don’t see themselves as owners of what God has given, but stewards of resources entrusted to them. The mysterious and unexpected actions from yesterday’s meeting confirm my suspicion that even though some decisions in this congregation (like all faith communities) are made out of fear and scarcity, deep down there is a large heart of abundance and growth. God is clearly up to something with and through this faith community. I’m excited to see what that is, and to be part of that as I continue to serve in my interim capacities there.

For those of you who are active in faith communities, what are your usual congregational meeting experiences like? What’s one memory from a meeting that stands out to you and why? 

Image Credit: Annual Church Meeting

Friday Thanksgivings

Today I’m continuing my weekly practice during November of sharing some of what I am grateful and thankful for from the past week, as a way of celebrating Thanksgiving all month.

This week, I’m thankful for so much:

1) I’m thankful for amazing conversation partners on Facebook. Earlier this week I shared an article that I had read which really did not sit well with me. That article led to a conversation (that continues today) on my Facebook page about the church, faith, millennials, cross-generations and how to be in community together. The article itself, it’s safe to say, was not well received. But the conversation that has happened on my Facebook page has given me great hope about a healthy response and a way forward.

2) In the midst of a couple weeks of bitter cold, and in most peoples’ opinions too early of a start of winter, I am thankful for the warmth of home and heat. I hope that all those who aren’t as well off, are being cared for, invited in and helped to find warmth this cold November.

Grace Duddy
Grace Duddy Pomroy

3) I am thankful for a wonderful conversation and interview with friend, classy frugalist, stewardship leader and millennial Grace Duddy Pomroy. The interview I conducted with her will be appearing on the COMPASS blog early next week just in time for Thanksgiving.

4) I am grateful and thankful for meaningful work.  Between the fun with LEAD and the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, and the congregational role I am currently serving, every day is a fun adventure but also provides opportunities to see growth and helping other people and leaders grow. That’s quite the reward and meaningful.

5) I am thankful for being a part of my alma mater’s regional alumni council, the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) Midwest Connections Council. As part of this, I get to help to share the story about a wonderful community and school, but also to help create meaningful gatherings and connections between other alumni as well as friends of the community and prospective students. This past week we had a wonderful gathering with PLU’s president Dr. Thomas Krise, his wife Patty and Vice-President for Advancement Daniel Lee. It was an evening of wonderful conversation, as well as connection and collaboration building. I look forward to many more such gatherings and connections.

Happy Thanksgiving from our household to yours!
Happy Thanksgiving from our household to yours!

6) Finally, I am thankful for family. Every week I have said I am thankful for my wife Allison, and particularly this week for her patience in planning holidays with extended family as well as for putting up with my pesky cough. I am also thankful for our larger families, and for the excitement that Thanksgiving week brings with some of them coming to spend time with us and other family.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for this week?

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that it is time to share some of what I have found interesting and thought provoking over the past week with all of you. (This week’s edition actually covers the last two weeks, so I hope you enjoy this expanded version.) This week’s topic categories are: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation; Worship and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice

This coming Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. It’s the last Sunday of the liturgical year. If you are still preparing or planning for it, these ideas and reflections from Bishop Mike Rinehart might be helpful and worth some time. Also, if preparing for the first Sunday of Advent, this post from Bishop Mike could be a good resource too.

Bishop Mike Rinehart also shared “An Advent Confession” which might be a nice confession to use in your own faith community.

Melissa explained “Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore.” Do you have “Children’s Church” in your faith community? What are your thoughts?

David Briggs explained about “The No. 1 Reasons Teens Keep the Faith as Young Adults.” What do you think?

Friend and pastor Diane Roth wrote and reflected in “Remembering why I said yes.” Diane also shared, “Of Rivers and Lakes.”

Chad Holtz asked, “Can we stop making excuses for small churches?

Over on the LEAD blog, I wrote and asked, “To Plan or Not to Plan? … It’s Not Really Much of a Question.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Church Council shared an update and report from their most recent meeting in Chicago. I especially appreciate the mention of Appreciative Inquiry in this update.

Ann Haften writes, “Staying alive: seminaries embrace ecumenical, Lutheran future.”

Brian Sigmon writes, “Imagine What’s Next: College students serving God and neighbor.”

Advent Wreath with Advent Candles
Advent Wreath with Advent Candles

Keith Anderson importantly admits, “The Color of Your Advent Candles Doesn’t Matter.” What do you think?

Keith also writes and invites, “Welcome to God’s Hackathon: put on your hoodies, friends. We’re gonna rewrite that old DOS code that’s been running the Church for too long.” Are you in?

Jan Edmiston shared some important thoughts about church and organizational change in “Restructuring Church Organizations 101.”

RJ Grunewald wrote about “Creating a Culture of Mission: Interview with Jon Dansby.”

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared an honest and I think helpful reflection in “Making Sense of the Mars Hill Saga.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

LEAD reflected about an idea of “Leading to Learn.” Do you lead to learn? Learn to lead? Would you like to lead to learn?

Natasha Lomas writes that “Building a Better Version of Capitalism is a Massive Startup Opportunity.”

Peter Economy explains “How to Tell Your Boss You’re Not Happy in 7-Job Transforming Steps.” The steps include: the gripe list; it’s all in the preparation; set up a time to meet; compose yourself; watch the body language; ask for ideas; and move forward.

Over at Humanosphere, Ami Shah writes and explains, “Selling charity: Of Band-Aids and bling.”

Julian Stodd shared reflections and interesting and visual depictions about “Scaffolded Social Learning.”  Julian also shared, “Frighteningly Global: the democratised, decentralized new world.”

Jon Mertz writes and reminds, “Be Grateful for Second Chances.” Ask Jon asked allow me to repeat, “Will you give someone a second chance? What second chance are you most thankful for?”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Thai Nguyen shared “10 Important Reasons to Start Making Time for Silence, Rest and Solitude.” Reasons include: bypassing burnout; heightened sensitivity; dissolving tomorrow’s troubles; improves memory; strengthens intention and action; increases self-awareness; grow your brain; “a-ha” moments; mastering discomfort; and emotional cleansing. Do you make time for silence, rest and solitude?

Kate Nasser writes that, “Caring Words Cost Nothing & Bring You Everything.”

The Ripple Effect
The Ripple Effect

Friend and leadership coach Jody Thone reflects on “The Ripple Effect of Good Work.” How are you a part of the ripple?

Anne Loehr reflected on “Leadership and the Lost Art of Listening.” Are you fully listening to others?

Dan Rockwell shared a number of great posts over the past couple of weeks. Among the ones that stood out to me include: “The Easiest-Most Dangerous- Things Leaders Neglect,” which shares thoughts about neglect of organizational culture; “13 Things You Don’t Need to Lead,” including that leaders don’t need to make all the decisions or have position (among others); and “10 Ways Leaders Increase Stress Unnecessarily.”

Nisha Ahluwalia wrote about “The 5 Qualities Teams Look for in Their Leaders.” The qualities include: work with founders that will broaden your business horizons, not stunt your growth; look for a generous spirit and avoid the know-it-alls or credit seekers; and question how they will support you, not only how you need to support them.

Steve Keating reflected on what he sees as “The Illusion of Leadership.” Within this Steve explains about what he sees as a distinction between management and leadership where he writes, “Never forget, if you’re doing it for the business it’s managing, if you’re doing it for your people it’s leading.” What do you think?

Steve also shared a couple other intriguing posts. First, “The Ultimate Test of Leadership” writing and asking, “Do you as a leader have the ability to help common people achieve uncommon performance? Can you help a follower or a weak leader become a strong leader?” Second, he shared, “Turn Criticism into Coaching.”

Tanveer Naseer shared a guest post by Scott Eblin, “The 3 Questions Leaders Must Ask and Answer.” The questions are: How are you at your best? What are the routines that enable you to show up at your best? What outcomes are you expecting at home, work, and in the community?

Caitlin Schiller shared, “The 7 Simple Habits that One of Today’s Most Innovative Businessmen Swears By.” The habits include: focus on customers; be frugal; make your own rules; focus on tomorrow and two years from now too; risk it; decide with data; and stay hungry.

Dan Forbes reflected on, “Infected Leadership,” writing that “some leaders today are infected, sick, and leading in the wrong direction.” In thinking about this Dan included a few leadership lessons that he has learned: everyone and every organization is susceptible to catching a virus; leaders and organizations can be sidetracked to go off in the wrong direction; infected organizations grind to a halt; a negative issue not totally eradicated will later reoccur and continue to harm an organization; crisis management costs energy, time and money; and leaders can become better leaders by learning how to deal with negative issues.

David and Goliath
David and Goliath

Ted Coine asked, “Is Your Leadership Style More David? Or Goliath?” Good question. What do you think? Ted writes that in the social age, “all that matters is the willingness to: listen actively for opportunities to serve; meet the customer where they are, which is increasingly on social; engage person to person; and delight them so much they bring their friends (or maybe their parents).”

Sam Thomas Davies wrote and shared, “The Kaizen Way: How to Master Creativity by Asking Small Questions.”

Chip Bell writes that “Great Leaders are Dreamers.” I most definitely agree with that. As Chip asks, allow me to repeat, “What are your dreams?”

Jon Mertz reflects and writes, “Not Work-Life Balance, Work-Life Tempo.” Jon writes that, “balancing will not suffice in today’s fast paced world.” I have found that to be true personally in the nature of my work. Have you? Helpfully Jon shares some thoughts about how to find the right tempo. Thoughts include: discern moments; say “no”; and be healthy.


Jeremy Chandler shares, “One Thing Every Millennial Should Learn from Our Mentors.” The thing to learn, is to learn how your mentor thinks. You can do this by: learning how they approach situations; identify the questions they ask when faced with problems; use the resources that helped them gain the wisdom and knowledge they have today; and identify the principles behind the decisions that made them successful.

Molly Page shared about, “Sidney Kushner: A Millennial Leader Listening for Solutions.”

John McDuling explains “Why Taylor Swift is the most important artist of the millennial era.” Do you agree?

Brian Ray shared and wrote, “Confessions of a Young, Prolific Academic: Equating protracted study with quality is exactly what causes graduate students to take so long earning a Ph.D.”

Did you vote?
Did you vote?

Following up on the November 4th elections in the United States, Jenna McLaughlin wrote, “If Millennials Had Voted, Last Night Would Have Looked Very Different.” In a related post, Matthew Segal and Johanna Berkson wrote, “A night of blown opportunities: Why millennials didn’t show up last night.” Did you vote?

Seth Tower Hurd shared about “The Unexpected Things Millennials Want in in Church.” Here are some of the apparent unexpected findings: the building matters; being able to unplug from social media matters; having older fellow congregants matters; and “customer service” matters.

Demetrius Minor in a related post wrote and shared, “Millennials Are Asked What they want in a church- and the answers are anything but shallow.” Demetrius summarizes the findings: don’t rely heavily on the demands of social media; be conscious of your rhetoric; be honest; provide an intergenerational presence; and keep politics out of church.

Friend, social media coach and millennial Carrie Gubsch shared this great post from August with me last week, “Three More Ways to Engage Millennial Donors” by Kathleen Kelly Janus. The ways to engage are: use social media to facilitate action and giving; connect donations with specific projects; and give donors easy ways to get their friends involved.

I found this post from January shared by Chelsea Krost and written by Morgan Pierce about “How Millennials are Shaping the Economy.”

Chelsea also shared this timely post by Kendal Perez about “How Millennials are Reshaping Retail in time for the Holidays.”

Sydney Brownstone shared and asked, “Millennials Will Become the Majority in the Workforce in 2015. Is your company ready?

XY Planning shared, “5 Options for Millennials and Cash Savings.” Options offered include: save with an online bank; create targeted savings accounts; start investing with a Roth IRA; max out a 401 (K); and get the help you need.

Friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shares this thought to ponder, “Young Adults Aren’t Having as Much Sex as Everyone Thinks.”

Neighbor Love

From the past couple weeks one of the local stories in Minnesota that has quickly become a major neighbor love concern is what is now being called “Pointergate.” Involved in the story, was the report followed by KSTP, the local ABC station in the Twin Cities; the local police; Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis and the young man she is standing next to, Navell. At that first link in this paragraph, if you feel compelled to ask for an apology, I urge you to join me in clicking on it and then signing a petition calling for an overdue apology.

The story was even picked up by Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show."
The story was even picked up by Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.”

Much has been written about this story, and I’m not going to link to everything I have seen. In these links I am offering a sampling of perspectives and responses to this story that I have found interesting, convincing and effective in calls for change. Kristopher Tigue provides some context in, “KSTP reports Mayor Hodges flashing gang sign; Social Media erupts in anger.”

Bob Collins writes that the “‘Gang sign’ story backfires on KSTP.” Brian Lambert wrote, “KSTP savaged for Mayor Hodges ‘gang sign’ story.”

As the story spread via social media beyond the Twin Cities, it was picked up nationally, in part thanks to this take by Shaun King, “#pointergate may be the most racist news story of 2014.” Kia Makarechi wrote for Vanity Fair that “‘Pointergate’ is the Most Pathetic News Story of the Week.'” (At this point, it’s the most pathetic of the month and perhaps year.)

Locally in the Twin Cities, one of the first and best responses to the story came from Nekima Levy-Pounds who wrote bluntly, “Dear White People: Mayor Betsy Hodges is Not in a Gang.”  Another great response came from Javier Morillo in “This Brown Guy Quits KSTP. You can do something, too.”

The sad thing is, what makes the story worse is that the local news station which reported this story has continued to defend it. That continued defense has also been widely (and rightfully) panned locally and nationally. Jason Linkins and Ryan Grim write, “Even KSTP’s Response to its racist ‘gang signs’ story is racist.”

The story could use some more context, so Bob Collins, Molly Bloom and Meg Martin helped to do this in, “Explaining #pointergate: The missing context.” From a journalist and press perspective, I found this post by Julio Ojeda-Zapata also helpful, “I point to my moments of press stupidity.”

That’s more than enough links on that story for now. If KSTP continues the nonsense or finally apologizes, I will be sure to let you know in the upcoming editions of the links. As for this week’s version, let’s turn now to other neighbor love stories from the past couple of weeks.

Bishop Mike Rinehart shared a good neighbor love story and reminder, as well as a good story to reflect on in thinking about Advent and Christmas, “Silent Night: the 1914 WWI ‘Christmas Truce’ that actually happened.”

RJ Grunewald reflected on “God Hidden in Our Suffering.”

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon for November 9th grounded in Micah 3, 5 and 6, “Elections, Politics and a Third Way.” In explaining this “third way,” Aaron writes, “This third way, this invitation to relationship leads somewhere.  It leads to God’s vision of God’s inclusive family where security and peace isn’t just an empty promise – but it becomes a reality.  Real change that makes a difference. Real change….that changes us, and changes how we live.” Go and read the whole sermon.

In thinking about that same text, friend and pastor Frank Johnson asked and shared, “Does fear of the Lord still matter? (And other leading questions).”

Peter Crutchley wrote and asked, “Did a prayer meeting really bring down the Berlin Wall and end the Cold War?” If you are unfamiliar with this story, check it out. It’s a very helpful reflection and one that makes for a good way to think about the common Isaiah Advent text theme of “turning swords into plowshares.” I know this is so, because it was the passage for the Narrative Lectionary this past weekend and friend and pastor Diane Roth made this very connection powerfully.

Speaking of friend and pastor Diane Roth, she shared a couple powerful pieces recently. She reflected in “Seeing God in a Man I Didn’t Know,” as well as in “Grieving with Hope.”

Rick Steves
Rick Steves

In preparing and thinking about Christmas, famous travel guide (and Lutheran from Washington State), “Rick Steves Has a Christmas Challenge for You,” in thinking about supporting Bread for the World. This is a great challenge with some wonderful gift incentives. What do you think?

Friend and seminarian Beth Wartick shared some good “thoughts on loving evildoers and sinners.” Within this Beth writes and summarizes the depth of neighbor love well writing, “If these are our two choices, it seems clear to me that we are obliged to take the choice that leaves the other person with hope and the possibility of reconciliation. We are obliged to hate evil and sin, yes, but we are also obliged to love other people, whatever their sin might be, and see them as our neighbors, as fellow children of God.”

Christena Cleveland shared “7 Signs that Jesus Reveals Himself Most Clearly to the Oppressed.” The signs she highlights are: Jesus turned water into wine; Jesus healed a powerful man’s son; Jesus healed a paralytic homeless man; Jesus fed 5000; Jesus healed a blind homeless man; Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead; and Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared, responded and asked, “Why read the Bible???

In thinking about election day a couple weeks ago, Tony Campolo shared and asked, “Election Day Dialog: How are we political?

In a major neighbor love story with huge justice implications, “Police charge 90-year-old man, 2 pastors with feeding homeless.” How can this be?

In response to this story, friend and pastor Erik Gronberg offered good neighbor love reflections in “Help vs. Hype.” Within this Erik profoundly writes, “to help people, to accompany our sisters and brothers in need, requires much more than setting up a table with some food in a park. It takes engagement, relationships, case-management, knowledge, and connections to services and spiritual care. There is work to be done year round. So I applaud Mr. Abbot’s desire and take a challenge from him. If a 90 year old can do it, so can you. Let go of the hype and get to work with help.”

Friend and pastor Erik also shared, “Ruling at 53%.”

Rob Watson shared “A survival guide for Christians who have been fighting against marriage equality.”

For another perspective about love, check out this post by George Weigel, “Exploded into Being by Divine Love.”

Social Media & Blogging

Peter Plasterik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland wrote, “Connecting to Change the World: Harnessing the Power of Networks for Social Impact.”

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with his Really Recommended Posts from two weeks ago and last week.

Speaking of the links, my wife Allison took the lead last week with her take on them. What did you think of her version?

Daniel Newman shared a guest post by Ron Sela, “3 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Plan.” The tips are: timing; tracking; and testing.


On my blog during November I am sharing a weekly post on Fridays to share some self things about what I’m thankful for. I am calling these posts “Friday Thanksgivings.” Here are the first and second such posts.

John Schmoll shared “5 Easy Steps to Not Fail at Budgeting.” The steps are: start with tracking; accept failure; create a ‘blow’ category; make budgeting easy; and make it automatic.

Allison and I are definitely grateful for each other
Allison and I are definitely grateful for each other. Who and what are you grateful for?

Over on the COMPASS blog, in the spirit of Thanksgiving later this month, COMPASS is sharing posts related to the theme of “An Attitude of Gratitude.”

I began the series with that introductory post, and then it was my great joy to introduce the second post in the series written by my wife Allison, “The Challenges and Beauty of Gratitude: A Millennial Perspective.”

Brian Dodd shared a list of “5 Things Churches Can Do to Increase Year-End Giving.” The things are: make sure it’s easy to give; find and share stories of life change; include a clear call to action; time your communications right; and celebrate your milestones.


Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a number of vocationally rich pieces as always over the past couple of weeks. A couple weeks ago share shared some Sunday Snippits. She also shared some “Tuesday Tea Time” as well.

Kimlai Yingling asked, “What Grounds You?

Friends Katie and Will shared some more updates and reflections from their continued adventures in South Africa in “The Dangers of Saying You’re a Preacher,” and “A dark and stormy night.”

Nate Pyle explained, “Why I’m Becoming a Mentor.” I love his conclusion in explaining why it is so important for people to have the courage to risk and share their gifts. He writes, “You have something to offer. You have stories to share. You have wisdom learned. Your presence can comfort and heal. Don’t keep it from us.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some great life reflections in “Sunday Afternoon.” I’m guessing that many people can relate to this. I know I can.

Friend and blogger Sue Leibnitz shared, “The Old Lady and the Fountain of Youth.”


Friend ad pastor in waiting, Emmy Kegler shared some wonderful worship and interactive ideas for Thanksgiving in “For Thanksgiving: A Table Full of Hope.”

Have you heard about the Narrative Lectionary and wondered what might be a helpful starting place? If so, here’s what I have found to be a helpful introduction.

If you are thinking or planning worship for Advent and Christmas, you might appreciate this post about Christmas Carols and Hymns during worship from a year ago.

Speaking of hymns, Sean Palmer shared reflection on “Singing as a Spiritual Discipline.”


I’m quite proud to announce that my alma mater, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), was listed among “The Top 10 Best Landscaped Colleges.”


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. With Thanksgiving being next week, the next couple Tuesday editions may be a bit shorter than usual. I hope you don’t mind though. Until then, if there are things you would like to see included in future editions of these, please let me know. Also, if there are particular topics you would like me to think about in future blog posts, please let me know that as well. Thanks for reading and blessings on your week! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Advent Wreath and Candles; Ripple Effect; David & Goliath; Voting sign; Pointergate on Daily Show; and Rick Steves.

Friday Thanksgivings

Continuing the series I started last Friday, I want to share some thanksgivings weekly this month as a sort of month long celebration of Thanksgiving.

So, this Friday I give thanks for:

The first snow of the 2014-2015 winter
The first snow of the 2014-2015 winter

1) My wife, Allison. Without her I would not have stayed sane the past couple weeks as I have dealt with a pesky cold in the midst of the return of the polar vortex. The snow is beautiful on the ground, but it does seem like it’s here to stay a bit earlier than past years. Allison also kept me calm and sane when coming to terms that water had fallen on my laptop sending it down for the count. Thankfully Allison has graciously shared her laptop. This week we have proved that it is possible for a couple to get most of their work done with two cell phones and just one computer between two people. Who knew that was the case for two people doing work like us?

2) Regarding the laptop, I give thanks for the good people at Best Buy who quickly shipped the computer off and who are going to be able to repair it and keep me from spending on a new computer. I am hopeful to have my laptop back soon. But considering what I feared was the case, this news was great news indeed.

The newly ordained (and installed) Pastor Rebecca Sullivan
The newly ordained (and installed) Pastor Rebecca Sullivan

3) I give thanks for great conversations. Yesterday I had the pleasure of having lunch with Steve Oelschlager and Keith Mundy from the Stewardship office at the churchwide offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). I’m glad to have met them in person, and Allison and I are both looking forward to future conversations and possibilities collaboratively working in some way with them.

4) I give thanks for a great conversation this morning with Sara Vanderpan regarding baptismal promises, calling and other vocational type questions. Add this sort of conversation in with the shaping of a process to become a rostered leader in the ELCA, and I have much to give thanks for.

5) I give thanks for a great weekend last weekend, in spite of being sick. It was a joy to share music and be present as friend Rebecca Sullivan was ordained as a pastor in the ELCA. It was fun to provide music with Allison and Ray Makeever. It was also great to have Carrie Gubsch back in town for the weekend, even though I was sick.

Our Friday Afternoon Work Date companions- my Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Allison's  Decaf Peppermint Mocha.
Our Friday Afternoon Work Date companions- my Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Allison’s Decaf Peppermint Mocha.

6) Finally, I am thankful for Starbucks. Now, I don’t drink coffee, and most of you know that. But through Sunday they have an afternoon special on their holiday themed drinks where you buy one, you get one free. It’s the perfect recipe for a “work date” with my wife on a sunny but chilly Friday afternoon. Yay for Peppermint Hot Chocolate!

What are you thankful for this week? What do you lift up in thanksgiving today?

This Week’s Links

It’s Tuesday! You might expect my husband, Timothy, to share his favorite links from the past week today, but I asked him kindly (mandated him) to take a day of rest since he has a cold and coughs so much our cat meows at him constantly.

I offered to write up his links if he agreed to rest, including skipping the six hours he spends weekly on his links (six hours! He’s a dedicated guy). But instead of sharing his favorite links of the week I’ve decided to share mine, in no particular order. His version of the links will return next week. Until then, enjoy these posts that I, Allison, have curated. Guest links: here we go!

1. Feelings Are Hard

As soon as I dreamed the impossible dream and decided (yesterday afternoon) to share my top links this week, I had just clicked on a link titled “Taylor Swift Gets Crazy Murdery With Knives And Axes in ‘Blank Space’ Video.” If you haven’t heard, Taylor Swift is taking over the pop world and is making late-twentysomethings extremely uncomfortable with their sudden, uncontrollable love of her new sans-country-sound CD “1989” (IT’S JUST SO CATCHY). Her new video for ‘Blank Space’ depicts love gained and love lost, which for men and women, of any sexual identities, is a reality. This article is paints Taylor as an insane person who dates people only to hurt them. This stereotype MTV paints of a woman dating in a purely irrational state is in poor taste and dehumanizes women. In the video Taylor is courageously putting herself and her emotions out there to empathize anyone who has had love gained and love lost, which I’m guessing, is a lot of people.

So, kudos, Taylor, for looking a little crazy, and a lot emotional, which, newsflash, we all are.

2. Adults Matter (More Than Kids?)

The most influential factor in a kid being religious to growing up to be an adult who is religious is… (drum roll please) parents! Not pastors, not teaches, not a particular style of worship. It’s parents. Take a look here, from the Huffington Post, David Briggs, and Association of Religion Data Archives. So why do we pump so much money into children, youth and family ministries and not adult/life-long learning ministries? Hypothetical question – well, actually, a real question. Really real.

3. Blatant Plug

What if we created a financial workshop that is not about money? Prime question that we talk about in the Better Halves workshop I’m facilitating at brightpeak. I started working there last month, and it’s a great place to be. Good people wrestling with how do we talk about faith and finances with young people and young families that makes sense, doesn’t intimidate, and makes us all grateful and confident in the end. Check it out if you and your significant other want to join December 1st in Minneapolis! Spots are filling up!

4. Distractions20141111_101045_cat

This is Buddy. Someday I won’t wake him up for snuggles, but today is not that day.

5. Is she/he nice to your waitress?

So I spend far too much time on Buzzfeed quizzes than I’d like to admit, but this page came by and I couldn’t resist. A fun take on “What to look for in lifelong partner” kind of list. Laugh along and read with your person. Included: baby wombat doing laundry. Also, here’s another article that lit up my Facebook feed about two key traits in a lifelong partner.

6. Dogs love dogs too

In other animal news, back home in Seattle there are two special dogs up for adoption. They are inseparable (adorably and practically) as one is blind and the other his, well, seeing-eye dog. I immediately tagged my mom hoping that she’ll finally get a dog, well, in this case, two. But how can you not get these two!! I’m sure someone else has adopted them already, I hope they find their forever home.

14363797437_58aae944d9_n7. Oh my gosh this is so cute

Searching for a cute but practical wallpaper for your laptop background? Look no further, Oana Befort is here! She creates adorable wallpapers, and other things, here. Currently I have “November” up, but I kind of want to replace it with “July” because who doesn’t want to think about watermelon in November (especially after it snowed 4 inches yesterday)?


8. #pointergate and why KOMO4 is better

Timothy and I were watching the evening news last week and witnessed some extremely poor journalism that has swelled into what is now called #pointergate all over social media. The reporter shared that the Minneapolis mayor shared a “gang sign” with a “known criminal” (for midterm elections last week), even though it’s pretty clear she is pointing, and not endorsing gang activity, violence, etc. I just saw this today – if you want to sign a petition that is asking for an on-air apology, sign here.

For more on this story, see Shaun King’s report, this story from Minnesota Public Radio, and Nekima Levy-Pounds’ perspective. For more on this story, simply search #pointergate on Twitter.

9. Parents and kids and kids and parents

I don’t know whether to call this heart-warming or heart-breaking, but this is a commentary piece from Chester Wenger, an older man who serves the Mennonite church (link to friend Hannah Heinzekehr, thank you!). He shares his story of parenting a gay son, and other children who are allys, and other children who struggle with loving their gay brother. Get the tissues. Thankfully there were tissues nearby when I read it because Timothy has a cold, and thank you Timothy for sending me this link (see I got one of yours in!).

10. Just you, just me

Since Timothy and I have one car and more than two jobs between us, we spend a lot of time in the car together. Sometimes I play Pandora, and this song came on which made me happy. Listen:

11. I didn’t burn dinner

It’s the small victories in life. Like, a mexican cassarole that I found on Pinterest and Timothy liked it. Get one of those head of lettuce balls and use leaves instead of little tortilla shells. TASTEY. Check it out. One pound ground beef (or turkey), salsa, sour cream, can of tomatos, onion (or powder), black beans, corn, YUM. Freeze the rest in a flat zip lock bag because it makes LOTS more than for two people.

Ingredients (directions here):

Mexican Casserole

1 lb extra lean ground beef (drained or rinsed!)
1/2 cup onion (chopped)
1/4 cup canned jalapeno slices, chopped
2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 (15 ounce) can diced canned tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can kernel corn (drained)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
8 corn tortillas
3/4 cup nonfat sour cream
1/3 cup reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, shredded
1/3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste

12. Sitting all day is bad for you

Here’s a seven minute practice that helps with your posture and being nice to your back, shoulders, and lungs – check it out here. Quick and doesn’t require super bend-y-ness.

13. Happy dance

This is so wonderful. Babies dance. Adults somehow learn to stop dancing – but this son and mom duo prove this wrong; a professional dancer shows that he gets his moves (and energy) from his mom! Prepare to smile and note the last word they sign is “love”:

I hope you enjoyed this my links from the past week. Even as I wrote this I had to remind Timothy that he was still sick and he should stop organizing hymnals. Hope your week is off to a good start and I added to your que of fun/inspiring/thoughtful links to visit. Timothy’s version of the links will return to normal next Tuesday. Until then, thank you to all Veterans for serving, and blessings on your week! -Allison (for Timothy)