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Weeds and Nerf darts

Ministry, Wife and Mom life… bring it on.

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Life as I know it

My 5

I need to write or I’m going to explode. I stepped away from writing for a while because I had a deadline, or I had CPE and I was driving back and forth to Birmingham and Jasper. Then it was quarantine and managing my depression. Any way you look at it I stepped away from a spiritual practice that I need, that my soul needs, and that the Holy Spirit is no longer allowing me to push aside.

I have a lot of things to say, many of which you don’t need to hear from me, so those things will wait. One thing I can speak to, no matter the social goings-on in the world, is Youth Ministry. I love youth and children, and I love working with them in the church. Its gives me life. I even love seeing their faces on Zoom, even when I have to mute them just to get a sentence out (also, my science-y people, let’s get to work on an IRL mute button for groups of children, teachers will thank you).

The Sticky Faith movement through Fuller youth institute uses Chap Clark’s recommendation to flip the youth to adult ratio in ministry. They assert that every youth needs 5 adults active in their lives to have a greater chance of staying with the church as an adult. You can read more about this here.

I’ve been nostalgic as of late for my home church, Good Shepherd Lutheran in Frederick Maryland. They are active on Facebook and I get to watch the really cool things they are doing, and keeping up with people from church that I grew up with has just caused me to think a lot about my 5 people. I had so many more than 5, for sure. People who did things before I ever got there laying the ground work for the community that would raise me in the faith.

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Frederick MD

People like Nancy Zeim, who changed names from mankind to human kind, and gender neutral language referring to God creating a space where we could recognize that perhaps male-centric language can be harmful, in the mid- 1980s, quietly blazing a trail for my feminist theologian self years later.

People like Rev. LaVern Rasmussen, who preached uncomfortable sermons about social justice while I was a tiny kiddo on the front pew. Who hugged me after service even though the man was not a hugger (who could refuse such a cute kiddo!)

Small Sara. I know I’m adorable.

People like Danny Tregoning who was the face (and voice, in the church bulletin) of church softball, the lifeblood of our fellowship every softball season. I watched little kids at those games, strengthened friendships, and felt loved by church family outside the walls of the building.

Or People like Ron Castle, who would see me, sometimes 3 times a week, at the Frederick Coffee Company while I was studying for college, and would say “Is that you?” When his health was failing years later, and I came home for a visit, he saw me at church and smiled and said “Is that you?” I treasure that.

I list those people because they aren’t even my 5, which goes to show how important adults are in the lives of young people.

My 5 (ish)

Jill and Mike Schaeffer

When I was baptized, my sponsors had to be members of the church, and I’m so glad they were. Jill and Mike were awesome God parents. I assumed that if my parents died I would go live with Jill and Mike (didn’t find out that was way off till I was a teenager!) I went to daycare with Jill, I went on vacation with them, and I learned a lot about being part of the life of the church from them. I learned that if you want council meetings to move along, you create a dynamic duo of motions and seconds with your God mother. I learned that music and worship were two sides of the same coin, singing in the choir with them, learning liturgical dance with their daughter, and listening to Mike sing solos and play guitar. They made sure I knew I was loved and that church was home.

My confirmation.

Pat and Gene Schoonover

Sometimes Pat scared me. I was worried if I forgot and wore tennis shoes as an acolyte she might say something about it, same goes for me messing up the order of something on altar guild. And maybe she did, but I don’t remember that. I know she liked things in good order, like any good Lutheran. I also know that she fought to resettle southeast Asian refugees, because God’s work isn’t just in the Sanctuary. She and Gene supported my efforts to host Compassion Sunday yearly as a teenager, encouraging families to sponsor children across the globe. And when I was a senior in high school and locked my keys in the car, I called the church, so I could get Gene’s number. While he couldn’t help me out for free, there was mysteriously a graduation card with the same amount of money as my locksmith fee waiting for me a few weeks later.

Phyllis Hane

Phyllis was my Sunday School teacher for… forever. I know we had some different ones when I was little, and then there was this long time span where I’m fairly certain no one else would teach us. There were 13 in my confirmation class, that was a lot for our small-ish church. Afterwards the number dropped, as it does many places, but Phyllis never gave up on our Sunday school class, even when it might just be me and her daughters. She was also my altar guild partner, who taught me why we do what we do, and that you can drink the wine after communion, but its 9 am, so maybe pouring it down the special drain that ran outside was a better call.

Marilyn Ayers

Marilyn used to run the Christian education stuff that other people might prefer she forgot. Like VBS, or Summer Sunday School, and the Christmas Pageant. She had some awesome red hair and if you saw her coming, you looked for a quick exit before she could ask you to do something. But she was patient, and she’d find you eventually, which is how I ended up teaching 3 and 4 year old VBS, or singing a song in the children’s Christmas Pageant at 16 (don’t get me wrong, I stole the show, but I was the oldest by like… a lot). Sometimes I channel my inner Marilyn now as a Children’s and Youth minister when I’m recruiting volunteers. I haven’t made the jump to awesome red hair yet, my purple bangs will have to suffice.

Rev. Ron Reaves

I would be missing out on possibly the biggest influence on my life at Good Shepherd if Pastor Ron wasn’t in my 5. Pastor Ron was called to Good Shepherd when I was 11. I loved Church as a kid, and as a teenager. I loved being an acolyte, assisting minister, lector, all of it. I even liked being on council. I loved confirmation. My time with Pastor Ron in confirmation was some of my favorite time spent at GS. But it didn’t stop there. Trips to Germany, Lancaster PA Sight and Sound theater, church picnics and puppet shows with Fozzie Pastor Bear and Kermit the Lutheran Frog, halloween parties and his red plaid pants you could count on him wearing for Pentecost, all of that was part of the life of the church with Pastor Ron. I didn’t know other churches had a staff, because in my little church Pastor Ron and Pastor Gary were it for what we would call a programming staff.

He was my children’s, tween, and youth, and young adult minister. He encouraged my call to ministry, taking me to his old stomping grounds of Gettysburg college and seminary (now United Lutheran Seminary). He let me see that grown ups sometimes changed their minds on things they believed all their lives, and was there for me in times of “crisis” like when I was in a hit and run at community college and I didn’t know what to do so I drove to church to have Pastor Ron tell me what to do.

Not all Pastors can be in someone’s 5 adults. Most have too many kids in their congregation to reasonably do that. I’m glad my pastor was in my 5.

I know there are people in my congregation I didn’t list, and I could tell stories for days, and that’s what I encourage you to do. Tell stories. Who were your 5 people? What were they like? What did you do? What did they teach you?

And who’s 5 are you a part of? Make memories, take a chance, be 1 of 5, or 500, there are never too many loving grownups in the life of a kid!

On Starting Over

Starting over is hard. Moving to a new city, finding a new job, starting kids at a new school, learning to find a new favorite grocery store… its a lot of new, and a lot of tough stuff. This past year has been a year of starting over for us. We finally moved from outside Memphis TN to Decatur Alabama, where my husband had been living nine months prior to our move. We’ve spent the last year with lots of new in front of us, and its been quite the journey. 

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Then They Were Boys…

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We didn’t find out the gender of either of our kids. I remember sitting with my mom looking at baby things, and her saying “What if its a boy?” I had a momentary sense of panic. I’m an only child, of the female variety, so neither my mother nor I had any experience with boys. We didn’t understand them, and were pretty convinced that the aforementioned baby would have to be a girl.

Then they were boys…

5 years apart they were both boys. God’s funny that way, right? I was convinced that when my first son was born that it might have been some kind of cruel joke. What was I going to do with a boy? With all of the little sports onsies, tiny baseball caps, and overalls?

I wish I’d known how great it would be.

I wish I’d known how much fun it would be to play in the dirt. To button up little plaid shirts, roll up the cuffs of some jeans, and put tiny sneakers on to go to church, without frilly dresses and tights.

I wish I’d known potty training wouldn’t be the nightmare I thought it would be. That they’d be rough, fall down the stairs, yank out a tooth and laugh about it. Or how they’d fall asleep on the couch with me watching Harry Potter, and I would wish they could stay that little forever.

I wish I’d known that, while it would be hard to fight people when they didn’t act the way culture tells them boys should act, it would be worth it. That I would be raising them to be whole people, not media portrayals of boys. That they would love Nerf guns, and Pokemon, and Super heroes, but they would also love My Little Ponies, Princess movies, and singing along to “girl power” songs on the radio.

Being a mom of boys has been such a blessing, even when its hard. I cringe when I hear things come crashing to the ground, or when one comes in crying because his brother hit him. I have given in on more violence in video games than I ever said I would. I’ve not been as patient as I should have been. I’ve let them sleep in their clothes and go to school in those same jeans, because we all woke up late. And we forgive each other, and try again.

I wish I’d known that having boys would be amazing, and now that I do, let the adventure continue.

Stop Unfriending People Over Politics

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So. There’s some sort of political stuff going on right? My guess is, if you haven’t been sequestered or living under the proverbial rock (where are these rocks people live under anyway…) then you have heard plenty about politics. There are inflammatory statements being made over every media outlet social and otherwise, on both sides, and people are getting really upset about it.

I don’t want to write about politics, which may seem strange from the title of this article, I want to talk about the changing nature of friendships. I currently have 517 friends on Facebook, (my husband has 2,606 as he is quite the social butterfly). While scrolling through my list I smile at the names that spark childhood memories of skipping rocks, grass-stained knees, and singing into hairbrushes. I see high school classmates who, for a time, were woven into the fabric of my life in such a way that to tear us apart would have been unthinkable. I see former church members who rocked my babies, and whose babies I rocked. I love seeing those same babies win state championships, sing solos, and make their parents proud.

However not all of these people are what people may consider real friends beyond Facebook, nor am I a friend to them outside of cyberspace. Time and distance have created their inevitable rift and we grew in different directions, as happens when time and distance combine. But much of this speaks to our actual understanding of what a friend actually is.

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When there are no words…

I pride myself on my use of words. Much of the time this pride is probably undeserved, or at the very least blown way out of proportion to my actual abilities. But overall I love words. I love the power they have to enthrall, woo, convince, enlighten, and entertain us. A good book and a warm mug of coffee are possibly the greatest paring for me on earth, and if I’m not in the mood to read a movie or television show with witty banter is a great second.

As a part of my seminary studies we discuss our strengths frequently, and one of my top strengths is communication. I agonize over word choice in emails, ensuring I don’t unintentionally offend the recipient. I sit with students and try to mediate arguments caused by the careless use of words thrown out in anger. Words have an amazing amount of power, but sometimes, there are no words.

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3 Thoughts on Parenting (and Pastoring) “That” Kid

In youth ministry we often use the phrase “that” kid, to describe the one that frustrates us the most, or completely exasperates us. Sometimes its the child on the spectrum, or the one who can’t sit still and just listen for 5 minutes. Or its the sullen too-cool-for-school kid that sets the tone for the rest of the group, or the know-it-all who has an answer for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Often its the one who just doesn’t fit the mold of what we’ve decided kids should be like, and so they become “that” kid in our minds.

Well, I have that kid. He’s highly intelligent, speaks sarcasm like its his second language (can’t imagine who he got that from), and is a total nerd. To quote him, he is “so far past nerd”. I asked him what is so far past nerd and he said, without missing a beat, “2,000 lightyears past nerd” and promptly stuck his earbuds back in to finish his Dr Who episode.

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Eid Mubarak

It is now the ­beginning of Shawwal, an ­Arabic month that indicates the end of the holy month of Ramadan. For the past month many of our brothers and sisters who are followers of Islam have been fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The holy month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which has 10 to 11 fewer days than the Gregorian calendar, so the month moves in comparison to the calendar we traditionally use.

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Happy Travels!

I love traveling. I enjoy road trips, airports, ferries, and especially trains. I don’t know what it is about train travel that I delight in, but I do. I remember being about 10 and my family taking the auto train from Baltimore to Florida, and being very excited (although super concerned about my barbies having to ride in the hatchback of the Taurus). I loved going up to the observation car and watching the scenery fly by.

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Coming down off of the Holy Week High.

In my professional life I have worked in three fields, bill collection (gross), ELL education, and church work. I love church work. It is the most rewarding, challenging, inspiring, and fulfilling profession I can imagine. As with any profession we have busy seasons, collectors have the end of the month, educators have testing periods and end of terms, and church workers have…

Photo found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hopechurchnorthpark/8601517475/
Photo found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hopechurchnorthpark/8601517475/

Continue reading “Coming down off of the Holy Week High.”

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