International Women’s Day #Instruct

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for today, March 8th, is “Instruct.”

I am doing something different today. Instead of a theological or biblical devotion, I am simply going to stand in solidarity with all of the women in my life, and remind or instruct myself about all of these important women.

On this International Women’s Day, or Day Without Women, I am wearing red. I am also going to use the following post to share just a sampling of a list of some of the women who have had and/or continue to have an impact on me by their leadership, friendship, mentorship, collegiality, and willingness to listen and be in conversation with me and others. It is long past due that all women receive full equal rights, equal pay, equal respect, and equal authority.

If the world did not have the following women, I would not be who I am today, and for all of you, and the many more not listed here, thank you, and know that I am with you as an ally, friend, and colleague.

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Some of the strong women in my family.

Rev. Allison Siburg
Tricia Siburg
Tamara Siburg
Jakki Parks
Maria Harwell
Melba Tengesdal
Joan Siburg
Dr. Margo Holm
Dr. Lynn Chandler
Dr. Joan Rogers
Natalie Holm
Joanne Parks
Dr. Barb Tengesdal
Britta Tengesdal
Lisa Tengesdal
Pat Jackson
Kristin Jackson
Suzy Siburg
Holly Jenkins
Amanda Siburg

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More of the amazing women in my family

Elizabeth Bateman
Kristin Bateman
Kath Bateman
Erin Parks
Carla Parks
Becca Padrick
Anna Padrick
Tracy Padrick
Dorothea Tenney
Elaine Vangerud
Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud
Mary Vangerud
Heather Vangerud
Sharon Tenney
Diane Schori
Karla Tengesdal
Sophie Ommedahl
Myra Johnson
Myrna Stanton
Nancy Land
Rev. Alison Shane
Dr. Terri Elton
Rev. Dr. Mary Sue Dreier
Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis

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Allison and I with Dr. Marit Trelstad, one of our favorite professors from PLU, whom taught one of the more influential classes for me, “Feminist, Womanist, & Mujerista Theology”

Dr. Marit Trelstad
Dr. Lynn Hunnicutt
Dr. Karen Travis
Dr. Brenda Ihssen
Dr. Priscilla St. Clair
Dr. Patricia O’Connell Killen
Dr. Jean Lipman-Blumen
Dr. Amy Marga
Dr. Lois Malcolm
Dr. Deanna Thompson
Rev. Karen Stevenson
Rev. Juliet Hampton
Rev. Megan Morrow
Stephanie Lusienski
Diane Harpster
Lisa Kramme
Michele Herrick
Sandy Terry
Rev. Rebecca Sheridan
Rev. Rebecca Sullivan
Rev. Amanda Ullrich
Rev. Kaitlyn Forster
Carrie Gubsch
Andi Mandrick
Rev. Emmy Kegler
Rev. Jill Rode
Deacon Connie Stover
Deacon Peggy Hahn
Deacon Beth Hartfiel
Chris Hicks
Vonda Drees
Lynn Willis
Joanne Erickson
Elise Erickson
Svea Erickson
Sylvia Cauter
Emily Cauter
Susie Soine
Karen Byrd
Kerrie Byrd
Carol Zach
Carol Peterson
Ursula Alexander
Carin Nelson
Lynn Rupp
Debbie Collier
Christie Lofall
Mrs. Tobin
Mrs. Bryant
Mrs. Hamlin
Mrs. McLaughlin
Mrs. Harmon
Mrs. Smith
Mrs. Youngquist
Sharon Ferguson
Mrs. Davies
Mrs. Webster
Mrs. Piper
Mrs. Olson
Mrs. Bale
Mrs. Overby

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Some of our many friends who gathered with us on our wedding day from PLU. Look at all of those great leaders, people, and especially the sheer number of amazing women.

MaryAnn Anderson
Kristen Lee
Rachel Danforth
Jamie Lindberg
Louise Rose
Andrea Goddard
Kim Skelly
Katie Oost
Mallory Ferland
Kristen Sprague
Ella Sanman
Kellie Kuntz
Ariana Stinson
Nicole Perigard
Stacy Davis
Allison Ryan
Dr. Jenny Darroch
Dr. Sarah Smith-Orr
Dr. Katharina Pick
Dr. Lois Farag
Dr. Susan Heinrich
Dr. Mary Hess
Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda
Marcia Shetler
Senator Patty Murray
Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn
Dr. Elizabeth Goldsmith
Kim Parker
Hannah Heinzekehr
Deacon Julia Nelson
Margaret Ellsworth
Cori Jo Duncan
Holly Wright
Jacklyn Henly
Kristin Tranby
Jody Thone
Kim Pleticha
Rev. Siri Erickson
Mary Struwve
Nancy Giddings
Deb Meyer
LuAnn Olson
Kelly Simon
Jessica Potts
Joy Studer
Connie Howard
Deacon Julie Bracken
Janet Borst
Rev. Kathy Braafladt
Rev. Melanie Wallschlaeger
Allison Ramsey
Karen Pickering
Presiding Bishop, Rev. Elizabeth Eaton

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Some of my closest friends from seminary- confidants, co-conspirators, cheerleaders, dreamers, and doers.

Rev. Emily Wiles
Rev. Katie Emery
Rev. Beth Wartick
Grace Duddy Pomroy
Jody Meyer
Angie Moeller
Heather Ruwe
Shirley Kocher
Katherine Ostlie
Jennifer Olson-Kringle
Sara Garbers
Rev. Michelle DeBeauchamp Olafsen
Alice Olson
Annie Romstad
Judy Hedman
Myrlette Giddings
Sheryl Jacobsen
Tisa Zachau
Kari Osmek
Kris Bjorke
Rev. Diane Roth
Rev. Sarah Cordray
Rev. Sarah Ruch
Rev. Sheryl Kester-Beyer
Rev. Sylvia Karlsson
Heather Hanson
Mary Ann Peterson
Joanne Hinckle

Obviously, I could keep going, and this is only a few people, but it’s a sampling of some of the countless women who have had and/or continue to have an impact on me. If it weren’t for these people, and many others not named here, I would not be who I am.

Who would you be without the women in your life? 

As we continue together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

How might we show the #Fruit of the Spirit?

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for today, March 7th, is “Fruit.”

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An apple, a glass of water, and some great books on the book shelf. Good fruit to start the morning in my office.

Did you grow up hearing the adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?”

I’m not sure I ever believed that, but as I think back to a year living in California where I probably had my best balanced diet and did my most walking ever, I could see the merit in it. I did in fact nearly have an apple a day that year, and I was hardly ever sick. So, maybe there is a correlation?

In thinking of apples and fruit today, I am thinking about the fruit of the spirit.

The apostle Paul writes,

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.” – Galatians 5:22-26, NRSV.

Sometimes you might hear these fruits and think of someone as a passive, mild, and meek individual. Perhaps they are. But “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” are not always easy things, and often they require more action, strength, courage, and leadership than we might expect.

I suspect that this year will be such a year where these fruits will require more action than many of us are used to. Are we up for the task with God’s help?

To put it another way, ponder these questions with me:

  1. Are we up to the task and calling to show love to all people, no matter if we agree with them at all times or not?
  2. Are we able to find joy, like the joy of a child in our life, joy in God’s gift and promise of abundant life?
  3. Are we able to center ourselves in the assurance of the peace that surpasses all understanding?
  4. Will we strive to be patient with those we live, love, and serve with, as well as those whom we are in relationship with?
  5. Are we able to show kindness to all, especially those marginalized, victimized, living in fear of decisions and potential decisions being made that could turn life upside down or worse?
  6. Are we willing to be generous at all times because God is generous?
  7. Will we be faithful by: living among God’s faithful people, hearing the word of God and sharing in the Lord’s supper, proclaiming the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, serving all people following the example of Jesus, and striving for justice and peace in all the earth?
  8. In all that we do, will we strive to live gently with those around us, working to reconcile and strengthen relationships?
  9. Will we exercise self-control to the best of our abilities?

These are lots of questions, and I’m not sure that I could answer all of these in the affirmative. But perhaps they are helpful in light of centering ourselves this season of Lent, and in living out our baptismal callings and vocations as Children of God?

However you answer these questions inspired by the fruit of the spirit, know that we are in this together as Children of God, called, created, and loved by a God who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Let us close today’s reflection with a prayer often heard following baptism or the affirmation of the congregation:

We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give us new birth, cleanse us from sin, and raise us to eternal life. Stir up in your people the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever. Amen.

As we continue together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

References: Question 7 was taken from the affirmation of baptism liturgy along with the closing prayer, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), pages 236-237.

From Where Shall My #Help Come

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for today, March 6th, is “Help.”

The psalms are filled with cries for help and songs of pleading for deliverance. Here are just four examples, three from the psalmist and one from the Lord:

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive us our sins, for your name’s sake.” – Psalm 79:9. 

Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to your steadfast love.” – Psalm 109:26.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?” – Psalm 121:1. 

“‘Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will give them the help they long for.'” – Psalm 12:5.  

As I think about what it means to help, I am struck by how much we all need help. These verses above illustrate just some of the ways we need God’s help. We can’t deliver ourselves. We can’t forgive our own sins. We can’t save ourselves. And often, we really can’t save ourselves from ourselves.

From where shall my help come?

olympics
On a cloudy day on the afternoon after I was consecrated as a deacon in Poulsbo, the Olympic Mountains are starting to break through the clouds.

Inspired by Psalm 121, I have always thought of this passage with the images I had growing up, going to school and being able to see the beauty of the Olympic Mountains in one direction, and often Mount Rainier in a different direction. I guess that might be the benefit of having grown up in Washington state where there aren’t just hills, but mountains.

Perhaps the illustration lacks effect in places without mountains, but hopefully it illustrates the notion of seeing something grand, majestic, and bigger than ourselves. At the same time, this bigger and majestic hill or mountain, can be daunting or frightening to climb or travel across, only possible through God’s help or deliverance.

In what ways are you feeling that you, or others you know, need help right now?

rainier
Mount Rainier as I saw it from my plane last fall on a flight from Seattle to Omaha.

When we come together as people, we can do a lot of good to help one another as God calls us to do.

But when close ourselves off from community, build walls and hide behind them, and when we turn our back on our neighbors in need, we are the ones really needing help. For we have lost sight of why we are here and why God has created us.

For all those in need, our selves included, let us pray this prayer from Martin Luther,

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you. In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have. I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor. I am a sinner; you are upright. With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness. Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. Amen. 

As we continue together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

Source: “A prayer from Martin Luther,” found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), page 87.

The Joy of a #Child

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for today, March 4th, is “Child.”

Do you remember what it was like to be a child?

What games did you play? What toys were your favorites? What kind of imagining did you do? What were the most fun parts of life? What did you imagine that you would be when you grew up?

Today is my godson’s birthday. And that has me thinking today about the joy of a child.

Talking to him earlier on the phone today, he sounded as excited as ever. He sounded hopeful, joyful, and just plain happy.

jack
Our joyful godson…

Hearing his joy and talking with his parents made me so happy, and miss them all so much. But I smiled knowing that my godson was having a wonderful birthday. His joy was contagious.

Even though it’s Lent, I don’t think that means life during this season should be absent of joy.

There’s enough Lent in everyday life right now. There’s enough uncertainty with decisions being made and conspiracies being spun by leaders in government. There’s far too much hate, pain, and discrimination in this world, and lately, the sin and darkness of it has become all too real.

Yet, in the midst of this pain and hurt, God is still here. God is still for you, and for me.

I remembered that today in a new way, through hearing the voice and joy of a child over the phone, my Godson on his birthday.

Thank you Godson for that gift today. Thank you for reminding me of the joy of a child. Happy Birthday!

As we continue together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

 

Gift

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for today, March 3rd, is “Gift.”

I recently had a birthday, and I heard from many friends and family through cards, letters, phone calls, text messages, emails, and of course on Facebook. I also received a few gifts. One gift that stands out, were these three crystal water goblets.

Allison and I are perhaps a bit unusual among our generation. Many of our friends who have gotten married in the past 5-10 years did not register for china, crystal, and silver as might have been the customs of past generations. We however, did. We love to share hospitality and have fun meals and parties. Though while we lived in Minnesota, all of these nice things stayed safely away in storage. But now they are with us, in our home, and with help from my family, especially my parents lately, we are working to complete our crystal sets.

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Three goblets for three decades, a gift from my parents.

Hence, for my thirtieth birthday, I received three goblets, one for each decade. Three glasses which will most often be used to share some water with loved ones, family, friends, and guests. These are a gift to me, but they are also, I hope a vehicle of a gift to others. They are a symbol of community, and a means by which a central need in all of our lives, water, can be shared.

Perhaps they might even be a symbol of something more?

The words of the hymn, “You Satisfy the Hungry Heart,” ring in my ears, because of how it talks about the gifts of God, some of which we remember and celebrate through the meal and sacrament of communion. The refrain and some of the verses read or sing like this:

“You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat. Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat.

With joyful lips we sing to you our praise and gratitude that you should count us worthy, Lord, to share this heavenly food.

Is not the cup we bless and share the blood of Christ outpoured? Do not one cup, one loaf, declare our oneness in the Lord?

You give yourself to us, O Lord; then selfless let us be, to serve each other in your name in truth and charity.

You satisfy the hungry heart with gift of finest wheat. Come give to us, O saving Lord, the bread of life to eat.”

What are some gifts that you have received? What are some gifts that you have given? What have their impact been? What has their impact been upon you? 

To close today, let us pray a Lenten offertory prayer,

God our provider, you have not fed us with bread alone, but with words of grace and life. Bless us and these your gifts, which we receive from your bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Credits:

Omer Westendorf & Robert E. Kreutz, “You Satisfy the Hungry Heart,” (1977, Archdiocese of Philadelphia), found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 484.

Prayer of the Day from “Offering Prayer,” in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, page 64.

As we continue together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

How are you #Called?

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for today, March 2nd, is “Called.”

On this second day of Lent, now that the ashes have been washed from our foreheads, I am thinking about what it means to be called. How are you called through your baptism? How are you, or might you be called by the God who creates, sustains, knows, and loves you?

For example, Paul was called, and he begins his letter to the Romans talking about this calling as well as all of our callings. He writes,

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we receive grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 1:1-7, NRSV.

Lent is a good time to reflect on this idea of being called. Sometimes we are called to things we know. Other times we are called to ventures unknown.

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“The Letter of Call” that sits on my desk and greets me each day I come into my office.

Every day that I work from my office at the Nebraska Synod office in Omaha, I come in and see this affirming yet also awesome responsibility in the form of my “Letter of Call,” which sits on my desk.

I have it there prominently on my desk, not to show other people, but to remind myself and to ground myself about why I am here, and why I do what I do. In those moments I might forget or turn inward, having that there is a convicting and inspiring reminder that my calling is not about me alone, but all those around me, the people of God, and of course my relationship with them and with God.

How do you feel this sense of being called in life? Or do you?

If not, how can we think, discern, listen, and imagine together about where you might be being called? Or perhaps more likely, where you have already been called and are following that call, but perhaps you have never thought of it as a call into your vocations?

As we ponder our sense of call, let’s close using the slightly adapted words of one of my favorite prayers. It’s sometimes called “The Journey Prayer,” and it is offered as part of both morning and evening orders of service.

Let us pray. O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils and joys unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), pages 304 & 317.

As we continue together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

Ash Wednesday and being a #Servant

As part of my Lenten journey this year, I will be blogging daily using the themes or words created by the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin in partnership with other ELCA synods for “Lent Photo a Day.” The word for Ash Wednesday, March 1st, is “Servant.”

And so we are here again, Lent. To be perfectly honest with you, it has felt like Lent to me off and on for a couple months now. Maybe because of the unseasonably warm temperatures we have been having. Maybe because of the sense of worry, and anxiety I see and hear from so many. Maybe because I too feel some worry and anxiety around certain things in our world. Nevertheless, and ready or not, Lent is here again.

On Ash Wednesday we face our mortality, and “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Each year accompanying worship with the imposition of ashes comes the same gospel text from the revised common lectionary, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21. This passage is an important one, but it’s also an important one for stewardship.

Here’s just a couple quick examples:

“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others…”
– Matthew 6:2, NRSV.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal, for wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21, NRSV.

Why do we do what we do? What is behind our actions and choices? How do we show our faith and tell about it? How do we live our life? All of these questions and many more can be raised from these few verses alone.

Perhaps they point to a steward’s heart. But when you take the whole passage by itself, I think they point to a servant’s heart.

So what does a servant look like to you? How might you be a servant? Who might be a servant to you? 

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Tom, a great example of a servant in our midst, community, and congregation, helping us unload our moving truck last fall.

I know way too many servants to just pick one, and have heard far too many stories of servants across the church and communities.

But for just one example, here’s a picture of a faithful Child of God and servant named Tom who helped us unload our moving truck back in November. He’s a long-time member of Salem Lutheran in Fontanelle, and he gives and serves in ways I am sure I still do not know. He’s also a person who does it just because he can or feels called to do it, and he’s about as kind and soft-spoken a person as you will ever meet.

For Tom, and all the servants I know and have met, I give thanks. For all of the servants out there, known and unknown, I too give thanks.

Let us pray. Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. Call forth our prayers and acts of kindness, and strengthen us to face our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

As we begin together our journey through Lent to the cross, join me in pondering these questions, and join the #LentPhotoaDay adventure through images and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels. 

Source: The prayer of the day comes from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), page 26.