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Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Goodnight, Jesus

With one of my responsibilities on campus currently being to lock up the Castle (Wartburg) each night, I’ve added in a little perk. Each night as I’m turning off lights and locking doors, I say goodnight to Jesus.

Let me explain…

It started several months ago (maybe even a year ago) when a good friend of mine, Sara, saw me in the chapel helping move some furniture and said hello as she walked past. She was showing someone around the campus (her mom, perhaps?) and this woman looked in with a puzzled expression until spotting us, and then said “oh, you were talking to them!”

Apparently, she thought Sara was waving and saying “Hey!” to Jesus.

Sara said that was crazy. I thought it was hilarious. And so when I would walk past the chapel, I’d wave and say “hey” to Jesus. Then when I started locking up at night I noticed they would leave the altar lights on during the day (which to me seemed like a nightlight for Jesus) so when I climb up the steps and turn of the light, I always turn to the crucifix and say “Goodnight, Jesus” before turning off the lights.

It may seem a bit weird, but I’ve come to enjoy these quick comments to Jesus each night. And while I was originally irked that the sacristan was leaving the altar lights on each night (one more light switch to flip) tonight I was saddened that they were already turned off and I didn’t have to say “Goodnight, Jesus.” But fear not, because even though I didn’t have to, I still did it.

Who knows, maybe at my internship site this upcoming year I’ll be turning out the lights and be able to say “Goodnight, Jesus” in a whole new setting. If not, I guess I’ll just have to say goodnight each day at home.

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Bookmarks

Being someone who LOVES to read, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to hear that I have bookmarks. A LOT of bookmarks. Some are incredibly decorative, or have inspirations quotes or Bible passages on them. Some are simplistic, such as a neatly laminated bookmark that has BOOKMARK printed along the length of it in bold, large sized font. Some have tassels, some have ribbons, some have clips, some are magnetic. But the strangest thing about these bookmarks is that none of them are currently marking spots in my books!

Instead of bookmarks, I have cards, flyers, notes, fortunes, pictures, receipts, bumper stickers, leaves and church bulletins in between the pages of my books. I’ve tried using bookmarks in the past, but it never seems to work. I’ll be reading a book, take out the bookmark while reading and slide it in the back by the cover. Then when I’m done reading for a bit, I pick up one of the aforementioned items and place it neatly within to hold my place. Try as I might, my bookmarks collect dust on my bookshelf while these other items sneak between the pages of these books.

I guess I just can’t use something as a bookmark whose only purpose is to be a bookmark. I have a card from my grandmother currently marking my progression in a book for Theology of the Congregation. A fortune cookie paper holds the spot in another book, and even though I don’t need something to keep place in my kindle, there’s a Human Rights Campaign bumper sticker nestled between the protector and the screen. At times, these other items seem to hold bigger stories and wilder tales than the ones for which they are keeping place. Each item acts as a memento, a reminder of activities gone by or yet to come. These are not merely scraps or a means by which I can remember where I had left off in my reading, but something much more.

Even more, while pondering this fact, I noticed that the items in my books often corresponded to what I was reading in some way. The HRC bumper sticker in my kindle reminds me of the stories I have been reading about fights for freedom and equality. The fortune cookie in my Bible is a memento from an amazing birthday party with great friends from school. And that card from my grandmother, with her nearly illegible handwriting and comforting words? It’s held firmly in a book which is difficult to read because of its raw and gruesome truth. When the reading is too much, I can be comforted by the care and kindness my grandmother showed me in that card.

These items, which may serve temporarily serve as bookmarks, are much more than that, because they are touch stones to remember some of the important things in my life. Oftentimes after returning to Dubuque from DePere, I’ll find myself remembering the people of St. John Lutheran by using a church bulletin. In fact, if I were to write a diary or keep a journal of my life, it would undoubtedly be overflowing with these reminders of what has affected me and shaped me. Until then, my diary is split up, a memory here, a friendship there. A family member holding a place in my heart will also likely hold a place in my books as well.

Just as John’s Gospel comments that the world could not hold books listing all of which Jesus had done, nor can all my books ever hope to contain all the amazing memories I have had within my lifetime. Undoubtedly Christ’s actions are far more important, but they were done for God’s people, like me, and that makes my stories all the more amazing because of Jesus’ story.

Recharging Batteries: Time at home!

Hey y’all!

Wow, I can’t believe yet another semester is done! I am now officially halfway through my academic courses for Seminary and over a third of the way through Seminary as a whole! It feels like just last week I was starting Summer Greek and now, a blink of an eye later, I’m finishing my third semester and getting ready for the fourth. Then it’s off to a year of internship and a final year of schooling before (I hope) I’ll graduate and get my first call. Where DID the time go?

This past week has been a great time of rest and relaxation. I managed to finally slow down on Thursday (because the Seminary closing MADE me) and then on Friday I made my way home to join the family. I’ve played some cards, chatted with family, gotten a ton of hugs from loved ones, and recharged my batteries at home and at church. It has been a truly amazing time, back in De Pere and celebrating Christ’s birth with my fabulous family and the amazing people of St. John Lutheran in De Pere! Once again, this time of the year has left me in tears, but in a good way. I have been so moved by this season and the wonderful message of Christ’s coming, knowing that it has already happened and occurs each and every day.

I was actually joined with the family; mom, dad and Jim, at St. John Lutheran in Ashwaubenon when I thought of something truly amazing. It had been three years ago, at that Christmas Eve Service in 2009 that I finally stopped running from my call and let God into my life. I used to think I was saying “yes” to God at that moment, but I’ve since realized that I merely stopped saying “no.” In actuality, I do believe my words to God that evening were “Okay, God. You win.” And ever since that moment, my life has been changed so drastically. I look back now, Three years wiser, three years closer to God, 70+ lbs lighter, and can’t help but shed even more tears this Christmas Season in thanksgiving. I am so thankful that God so loved us that God sent Christ as a child to us, and that God–for whatever reason–has chosen me to spread this Good News and is preparing me to administer the Sacraments. What an honor to be given an reminded of every year, and all I had to do was stop fighting with God and let the Holy Spirit work in my life.

If these past three years are any indication, the next three are going to be a wild and crazy experience! Thanks be to God!

A Prayer from a Patient

Well Hey There!

Last week I got a prayer from one of my patients who thought I could share it with others. I read it at my home church on Father’s Day and had several people ask for a copy of it, so here it is! I hope you find as much comfort from it as I have and the patient who shared it with me.

 

A Prayer for Healing

Lord,

I come before you today in need of your healing hand. In you all things are possible. Hold my heart within yours, and renew my mind, body and soul. I am sad, but I am singing. You gave us life, and you also give us the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you’ve laid out for me. Guide me towards better health, and give me the wisdom to identify those you’ve placed around me to help me get better. In your name, I pray.

Amen

I feel that despite it being a prayer for healing, it works incredibly well for everyday prayer. Maybe especially because it asks for healing. I think that, no matter who you are, there’s something in your life that still needs God’s healing touch. I know there’s definitely things in my life that need to be healed. I encourage you to take a moment and pray this prayer. If you feel like you really don’t have anything you need healing for, then pray it for someone else. The prayer is flexible enough that you can put someone else’s name into it if you wanted to as well.

May God grant you healing, comfort, and peace. God Bless!

Mister Rogers–Garden of Your Mind!

Hello All! I’m headed off to bed, but I saw this video on Facebook and just HAD to share it with you! Please take the time to watch it. It’s a short re-mixed song from Mr. Rogers. No, I’m not talking about Aaron Rodgers. I’m talking the Original, Vintage Mr. Rogers! I remember growing up on his show and always loving the routine, little teaching moments, the fantasy and imagination with the train set, and the FISH! Maybe that’s why I wanted pet fish growing up (and even now), because Mr. Rogers had them and took such good care of them.

Watching Mr. Rogers back then always calmed me and made me feel good about myself. Just like God’s holy presence in our lives. Our actions, just like Mr. Rogers taught us, have an impact in the world and can do a lot of good. We have been created, redeemed and empowered by God to go out in the world and make it a better place.  If that ends up looking like Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, I think I’d be okay with that.

Anywho, here’s the video, I hope you enjoy it!

Mister Rogers Remixed–Garden of Your Mind (click the link)

CPE…What a Gas!

Hello Everyone!

I just wanted to let you know that Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) has begun for me as of Tuesday. I’ve had a great time the first three days and really feel like we have a special group of people. Unfortunately, I can’t really go too much into the details, but I will tell you that we have already had some major breakthroughs. That after only three days? I can only imagine what we’ll have accomplished after eleven weeks!

There’s really only two major issues I see with this program… time and gas money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m having a great time, but with these two, I seem to be in short supply. Nothing I can’t handle, of course, but I guess it’s a bit more drastic than I originally thought. The gas money issue shouldn’t be as bad once the four of us going to the Quad Cities start carpooling together (if it works out) but the time is a bit rough. I get up at 5AM, leave by 6:20 for the drive to Rock Island and then am there until 4:30 when we’re able to start the drive back home. By the time we get back it’s almost twelve hours since we’ve been in Dubuque. And by then, I have time to eat supper, pack my lunch for the next day, and go to bed around 8:30.

Despite all the obstacles, I’m really looking forward to getting started with this program. At the end of last semester I had asked God to show me a way I could be a voice for the voiceless. That’s still a work in progress, but I realize this program will help me to be something else entirely. I’ll be a presence for the lonely, comfort for the distressed, someone who will listen and be present in the turmoil, in the questions and doubts. I’ll be a friend, a hand to hold, and a reminder of God’s ever-presence in our lives. I can be all those things because of God. God called me to follow, and instead of saying “no” again, I simply followed.

I still marvel over the fact that God chose me. Then I remember the words “God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called” and it makes sense. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t have to. I just have to trust the process and open myself to the possibilities. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. At this point, I hope Christ just works on strengthening my ability to shut up and listen. Because the biggest equipping I see that will happen in CPE is learning how to listen fully. With eyes, ears, heart, mind and soul.

Happy Holy Week!

I’m back  in De Pere! It feels so great to be back again, enjoying time with the family, going on walks with the puppy (she’s a full grown dog, but she’ll always be my puppy) and enjoying worship during this Holy Week! I got back into town Wednesday afternoon and enjoyed a delightful evening with the family, got a bit of reading in, and eventually crashed on the cot (much more comfortable than the couch. I love that thing!)

Yesterday I started the day with an adventurous morning of geocaching with my amazing brother Jim. We found four or five caches. The last one didn’t pan out, but it was a great time, nonetheless.  I had never gone geocaching before, and I must say it was a great experience! I am amazed at how tricky, sneaky, and ingenious people can be in hiding these treasure troves! It felt great to breathe in the crisp air, feel nature underfoot. During the last search, I spent a good bit of time barefoot, enjoying the feel of nature firsthand. It was truly spiritual to be able to feel the freezing water rushing around my legs, squish slimy mud between my toes,  feel the dry grass under my tread, even experience the sharp sting of prickly raspberry plants across my legs.

After a morning of fun exploration it was time to head home for a delicious lunch and then a well-deserved nap. When I got back up, I decided I should get some reading done, and battled a headache that was just present enough to be irksome. Then if was time to go to the first of many church services this week back home. I must admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was definitely looking forward to being able to say hello to the wonderful people of St. John’s and De Pere, but I was worried the assignment I have coming up on these services would hinder my experience.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised by how great the service went. Once I got into that sanctuary, it didn’t matter that I had an assignment coming up. This was God’s time, not mine. I had plenty of other time to worry about assignments. This wasn’t that time. I loved the songs we sang, the readings and the sermon seemed like they were speaking directly to me, and the choir was absolutely astounding!

Once again, I was able to feel the power of the Holy Spirit working inside me. Filling me with God’s healing love and guidance. It was like my skin was freezing and on fire all at once. little pricks of energy coursed along my skin, up and down my spine and scalp and all over my body. My senses seemed to burst into activity, and my emotions boiled over inside of me. As the tears once again streamed down my cheeks and my breath caught in my chest, I managed to whisper thanks to God for letting me know this presence.  I’ve tried to explain the experience to others, and it always seems to fall woefully short of the actual experience.

And so, it got me to thinking. How do others experience God’s activity in their lives? How would you describe what you feel? Is it a physical experience, emotional, does a calming voice resonate from within you? from outside? Let me know. I’d love to hear how you experience God. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel the same things I or other people feel. I’ve spoken with others who have experiences unlike anything I’ve ever felt, and it just amazes me even more that the Holy Spirit can be so unique to each person.

Have a Happy Holy Week, and God Bless!