In this second week of learning about church administration, I read about boards, governance and planning. If you want to follow along, this week I’m reading and reflecting on chapters 3 and 4 of Church Administration by Robert N. Bacher and Michael L. Cooper-White.
There was a great deal of helpful and practical content in this section on a variety of topics: the role of a council, its theological foundation, how to call and orient new members, how to manage risk and conflict, how to have good meetings, and how to keep on track.
As I read through these sections, I recalled specific situations and people from my congregation currently, but also churches in the past; good and not so good situations.
On page 55, Bacher and Cooper-White articulate the need for the chair (or president) of a council to draw from the quieter members who otherwise don’t speak up very often in meetings. Likewise they also encouraged the chair to intermittently, especially during discussion on “hot” issues, to do a “round table” and ask for the thoughts and/or questions of each council member before proceeding with more formal discussion or decided-upon action through a vote. Using a reference such as Robert’s Rules of Order is helpful to keep meetings moving, but the authors warned to avoid “heavy-handed legalistic meeting conduct.” At a previous congregation, I observed that one council member in particular was helpful with referring back to Robert’s Rules of Order when the meeting got stuck. She was outspoken and confident, helpful but also made me nervous.
I couldn’t help but listen to the question rolling around in my head as I read these chapters:
How do you trust people to be leaders and bring their expertise and gifts…and trustthem?
I could take on all the work myself… I could waste time searching for sixty name tags instead of asking my co-worker where the box is. I could cold-call dozens of people to help with my project instead of asking my co-worker for a list of her all-star adult volunteers. I could plan for five hours of large-group teaching content about vocation instead of having students learn about vocation by also serving and talking with a trusted adult.
These are some of the administration-related questions that surfaced during my internship project a few months ago. I had a dream that students and adults could discover and feel affirmed in their vocations by learning together, serving together, and debriefing together over 5 weeks. There were (and still are) 30 students. So with my 30 mentors, that’s 60 individuals’ contact information (& parents’ email addresses), schedules, assessment results, assessment codes, and booklets to track, manage, and somehow get into a tidy bin for the confirmation pastor at the end of five weeks to demonstrate their learning.
How do you trust people to be leaders and bring their expertise on a board, on a council, or for an internship project?
I’m still not completely sure, but I think it has to do something with this: It’s not about making people do things for you, it’s about seeing and pointing out an opportunity for that person to try out a gift that you’ve seen in them over and over again.
I’m so lucky to be in this work, because when I hear that someone at church is really into mentoring, and wishes that our church was more into mentoring, I can tap on their shoulder and say “Hey, I heard that you were really into mentoring, and I could use someone with your passion and presence as I try out this project for a couple weeks, could you help me?”
As an intern, I’m probably doe-eyed thinking that all things governance and administration can be significantly altered if we just identify and invite people into opportunities. Rather than the bulletin announcement, “NEEDED: 1 council member,” maybe it’s a tap on the shoulder that affirms someone’s quiet but persistent leadership, and without that tap on the shoulder, they would have never known they had that gift, or a gift.
Has there ever been a time when it was necessary to trust another leader and it was tough to do? Was there ever a time you trusted a leader with a responsibility, volunteer or otherwise, and they betrayed your trust? Why do you think it’s so hard to trust others and delegate responsibility? What are the gifts of trusting others with responsibility?
This is what I preached at my internship site on the First Sunday after Epiphany, on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22:
15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
[It was a little bit of a whirlwind of a preaching morning, two weeks ago, as my supervisor gave me a ride to the airport for my 1:06 flight right after the second worship service, but the sermon itself I think went well. It was certainly a good reminder as I was traveling off to Minnesota for a week-long intensive Public Worship class at Luther Seminary (which I need to blog about too). I hope you will hear some words of promise and peace here as you perhaps are preaching or leading in worship this weekend. So, here’s what I preached:]
It’s hard not to think of your own baptism when you hear about this gospel story of Jesus’ baptism. Not that I could remember it – for my baptism, I was just 2 months old. I was a newbie to this whole human thing, and from what my parents tell me I was not having it. You know those baptisms that feel like they just go on forever because the kid is just crying though the whole thing? That was mine!
I threw my parents off so bad that they switched my first and middle names – so I could have been a Mabel before you today, not an Allison, but they got it squared out. Allison Mabel was declared a baptized & chosen child of God.
Jesus was an adult when he got baptized by John the Baptist. The heavens were opened and God speaks—yes God speaks, not an angel, not a messenger, but God speaks directly and says, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” It’s unclear if just Jesus heard God say this, or if everyone in the world heard this.
I think it was probably the latter. If we’re talking about the heavens opening and the announcement of Jesus’ ministry, I’m gonna say—that must have been a pretty loud announcement.
Today I want to share with you just a couple gifts of this passage.
I could tell you all the theological holes, discrepancies, or missing plot points, but today I just want to talk about its gifts.
Because, truthfully, sometimes I think I beat-up on Bible passages, and honestly I have been trained to in my theological education—thinking that I’ll get to the root of it; to the real truth of it if I deconstruct it to its atoms and molecules.
But what if we treat this passage like how Jesus is treated here—someone who is talked about as someone who is worthy of love. Someone who is a gift. Someone who is loved, and who is so loved that the person who loves him isn’t afraid to show it or shout it. What if we started there?
The first gift of this passage is that Jesus’ baptism is a marker and a commission into his earthly ministry. It’s like God’s scrapbook page for this memory is full of stars and big hearts and cute metallic eye-catching graphics. This is a big day. Even the universe understands it as a big day as it says “the heavens are opened.” This means that not only is Jesus’ life changing, the world is changing, because of the restoration, healing, and revitalization God will bring through Jesus, the Christ, our Emmanuel.
When God is with us, things happen, and Jesus’ baptism gets a big, beautiful bookmark in the book of God’s story.
The second gift of this passage is that Luke crafts this story so beautifully, that we see Jesus as a fulfillment of Israel’s desire and longing for a Messiah. Psalm two echoes God’s words saying, “I will tell the decree of the Lord. He said to me ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.’” In Isaiah 42 we read, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights…he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.” The Israelites in exile, away from home, prophesied about one who will save the nations and establish justice in the earth.
Jesus has been chosen for a task much bigger than him. He is a part of something bigger than himself. Wow, what a feeling that must have been.
But I think the greatest gift of this passage is God’s direct proclamation of love. Rarely do we hear God speaking directly to people—we see angels, and messengers, and speaking through his disciples (and bushes).
But here we hear directly from God. There is no middle-man (or middle-woman).
The heavens have torn open, and now there is nothing that can separate us from the love, and, justice, and voice of God. Wow, what does that mean? I know it means something. God says, “You are my Son, the beloved. With you I am well pleased.”
Isn’t that what we all want to hear? That our dads or moms are proud of us? “You are my Son/You are my daughter. You are beloved. I’m proud of you.”
I’m lucky that I have awesome parents and an amazing husband who tell me that. But not all people are lucky enough to hear that every day. It broke my heart the other day when I read that in 2013, 21.8% of high school students didn’t make it to graduation.
That’s 1 in 5.
This study said the number one reason why students are dropping out of high school before they graduate is because they are disengaged. They don’t know why this material matters and they don’t consistently hear why they’re there.
I wonder if this is a question that ever wanders into your brain when you think about faith?
That you ever wonder, “Why am I here at church?” “Does it matter that I’m here?” Do you want to hear beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re supposed to be here? I’ll just say it from my perspective: I want to know that I’m not wasting my time. I want to hear that I’m not getting the wool pulled over my eyes and I want to hear that my deepest fear isn’t true: that I’m not a part of the most elaborate, complex, two-thousand-year scheme to get us to believe that a man in his 30’s in modern-day Palestine could bring salvation to everyone in the world.
Oh come on– Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh come on, Allison, we don’t need to know that. We know that this is all true, and we’re children of God, loved by God, and worthy of love. Of course we know that.”
Then why do 21.8% of high school students drop out of school before graduation?
Why were there almost as many shootings than days of the year last year (and not just in 2015)?
Because have fallen out of the practice of proclaiming to each other that you are loved–in all of your uniqueness, in all of your gifts, in all of your strengths, in all of your ‘oops’ moments, in all of your acceptance letters, mental unstable-ness, bankruptcies, promotions, second chances, and all of your ideas that start with “I wonder if that would work?”
Just like we are called to the vocation of showing and saying our encouragement to one another, God tells Jesus, proclaiming to the world, at his baptism that he is loved, and it’s a passage is begging to be read out loud on a consistent basis to our kids, our adults, and our people that they are loved.
The heavens are opened, and the world hasn’t been the same ever since.
Jesus is made new, and we are made new, in our understanding that we are loved & our unique gifts make God’s smile open like never before. Amen.
Hello All. No sermon or reflection here, just a quick snapshot of the last few weeks.
We are moving to Washington state (#Siburgsonthemove). I am starting my pastoral internship in Vancouver, WA on September 1st. We leave Saturday. People keep telling me, “Goodbye” and, “Don’t leave!” but one of my Minnesota mentors said “Why don’t we just say, ‘See you later’?” Then she laughed at me, as she does. For my first call/first job and Timothy’s first call/first job after approval in a year, who knows where we’ll be in the country (in the world?). But for sure, for the next year we’ll be in Washington. What my Dad humbly refers to as “God’s country.”
But I have to tell you. The last couple weeks have been — let me just show you in pictures.
In July we were lucky enough to attend back to back Twins vs. Mariners games at Target Field. The M’s won + Friday fireworks with the hubs. The first game was an alma mater PLU MN connections council meet-up with to-be Lutes in the Fall!! THEY WERE SO AWESOME. I am so pumped for them. Yea SEA represent in MSP! Also it was my last on-call at the hospital for CPE. So I was constantly checking my pager. I had fun but felt lame because I was at a baseball game instead of the hospital helping hundreds of people at one time. I know, I have high expectations of myself.
Timothy’s co-worker has season tickets and sold them to Timothy so Timothy could take me out on a date. Day two of Twins vs. Mariners. No more on-call. Celebration of no more on-call. Celebration of last week of “normal weekly CPE schedule & next week is final evaluation.”
Four days previous, I learned that I had had three weeks of intense visits. Just by dumb luck. On-call at night and during the day. In it, it felt like “par for the course” but Timothy, my small group, and my supervisor were all like “…what is up?” So I recounted. Deaths. Accused murderers. Rape. Cheating. Dead babies. Burned houses. Suicides. Repeat families/patients. Daily “regular” visits became daunting and harder. It was because I had been building up a protective wall because this swath of encounters took a huge emotional toil on me. That wall carried into home, family, and work. It was awful. No wonder I felt like crap.
So my supervisor asked what I needed the morning following this “learning” (breakdown, spiritual awakening, whatever you want to call it). I said I needed to go home. So I drove to Timothy and slept in his co-worker’s office. Yes, co-worker came in but I didn’t care. I needed rest. So I did nothing. I walked. Slept. Slept some more. Slept the next morning, late-morning to a sun-drenched living room with my friends serenading me, Nickel Creek, Chris Thile, and Jack Savoretti. Cat nearby. It was the most peace I have found in months. I finally found the reason why I cut my hair this way – walking by a windy lake in the sun during the heat of the day. After CPE weekdays and summer wedding/birthday/gathering-filled weekends (which I felt grateful to be invited to), I took a Sabbath.
Twenty-four hours later, I came back to work and we played frisbee with a fellow chaplain’s indoor frisbee. I highly recommend it. The rest of our floor (administrative offices) doesn’t like it but I don’t really care (oops). A life (work life) without play just doesn’t make sense to me.
Then this happened. My birthday was in April and for my birthday Timothy purchased tickets to a Pentatonix and Kelly Clarkson (with Eric Hutchinson) concert. Yes, Pentatonix who did this and Kelly Clarkson who did this while America, me and my mother watched and cheered to our TV when I was in high school. We didn’t know we would be moving, in CPE, and Timothy flying to WA for his AIM approval interview 8 hours after the concert – who cares! We went anyway. Oh shoot did we. Concert-Allison is not normal-Allison (or maybe she is?). The music, the people around me (polite Minnesotans who thought I was nuts), the crowd, it’s just awful. I am a hot mess. I cried before we even got in the arena. I cried during a piano version of Kelly’s (yes we’re on a first-name basis now) “Piece by Piece” (mom get the kleenex), I danced during the Daft Punk medly by Pentatonix and pretty much the whole giant Kelly production. Darn does she know how to put on a show. Timothy had no idea what he was getting into, but we’re still on speaking terms and it’s been a couple weeks so I think he was ok with it. And for the record he jumped up and danced to “Stronger.” Best. Moment. Ever.
This is us after the concert, running to the car, to run to sleep, to run to the airport. I might have just ran to the car by Cossetta’s with my mouth open, omitting noise, because I was so excited. Literally. Life high. Sorry parking garage attendant for my poor singing.
Then we had goodbyes at Abbott. Here’s my spot during morning rounds as a chaplain on a medical/surgical wingin the main hospital. This is the room where I got confused by so many medical terms and got encouragement that it mattered I was there, listening for the “human connections” as we reviewed patients’ charts together each morning. The social worker & care coordinator got me donuts and a nice group card. It was the last day of looking at my patient list & making notes. Gosh. I miss it already.
This is me and the other clinical pastoral education chaplain interns this summer. We were each assigned different wings/unit just like the regular staff chaplains. We each took about 12 24/7 all-hospital on-call assignments throughout the summer. I am so proud of this group. Many are in Master of Divinity programs, or just dipping toes in potential on-going chaplain work; from Luther Sem, Bethel Sem, Seattle School & United Sem. Our supervisor is the strange man in the back. He is so strange and in love with the theme song “Welcome Back Kotter” which we serenaded to him on our last day last week. His spirit of humor and warmth helped me trust him and his trust in me created a really rich space to grow and learn, about others, but mostly about me. Yes, it sounds self-centered, but if we don’t know who we are, how do we know anyone else?
On my last day at my hospital unit during morning rounds, where I was the consistent presence from the Spiritual Care team of the hospital, our care coordinator told each rounding physician, “It’s chaplain’s last day.” She didn’t say “the chaplain” or “Allison,” she just said “chaplain.” That was my name. I know part of me cringes because I’m a unique child of God, and that’s expressed through my name, “Allison,” but something about the way she said it made me feel so proud. I knew who I was there for the most part, but it was in the “being known” that I truly learned who I was. What a radical summer.
So I know this was a totally self-indulgent post, but I had to share this with you, people I care for.
One more thing: When we pray in church “for all those in need…” I think that’s bologna. We all have needs. There aren’t just a few people who have needs. We all need something. We all want something. What do you need? What do you want? Might as well name it instead of beating around the bush. I’ll say mine: I needed to write this. I want to share my story so that someone out there might not feel so lonely in their’s. So that’s all I have for today. Thank you for all your prayers, love, play, and good vibes. I can feel them here. Washington, here we come. Days. Oh man! And like how I finished every written reflection, dialogue or practice in CPE (my final evaluation contains one, turn your speakers up, Northwest Washington candidacy committee!), here is a musical reflection of my FEELINGS! Oh feelings.
This is a sermon I preached on Proverbs 8:1-11, 22-36 during a summer series about the Psalms and Wisdom Literature at Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield this weekend. The lead pastor was looking for some more preachers as they look for an associate pastor, and I said “Sure!” This lead pastor was also the pastor at our first church-away-from-home church in Minnesota in 2010, so that was fun. He’s never on the interwebs, but Fred: Thanks. I thank you, and blame you, for lots. P.S. I cut off like 8 inches of my hair after this. I’m not sure what that means, but I did it.
Hi, my name is Allison. You might remember me preaching here a few months ago. You probably know my husband pretty well by now, Timothy Siburg, who is the Intentional Interim Director of Music, Worship, and Stewardship.
I’m a Master of Divinity student at Luther Seminary, working toward ordination in our church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. One of my last credits is being completed this summer in a different kind of classroom for 11 weeks: a hospital. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you any gross hospital stories, mostly because I haven’t come across that many (knock on wood). I’m a chaplain at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, and as crazy as it is, my class is almost done. The start feels like years ago, but in a weird way I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.
Today’s a little bittersweet for me. This is the last sermon I’ll be preaching in Minnesota and at Woodlake Lutheran as we move in a few weeks to my internship congregation in Washington state near family. Thanks for accepting me, not just as a staff member’s spouse but as a person all on my own. It’s been a blessing. So here’s what I have to say:
My chaplain orientation was at the end of May. I sat in front of my computer with all of the Allina healthcare system chaplains in the Twin Cities metro and we learned how to record our visits with patients in the hospital-wide chart system. Imagine the fanciest Excel page you’ve ever seen, color-coded, almost a mini-internet of every detail you could ever want on a single patient. Yes, I am legally-binded to not share details about any patients, so don’t get too excited, this isn’t going to get too juicy.
Now on that first day I clicked on the page that showed specifically all the patients at Abbott who had requested a chaplain visit.
My heart broke. In the weeks to come, reading about diagnoses, blood pressure measurements, social work records, and physicians notes would become a daily routine, but in this first encounter, my breath was almost taken away.
First, in this feeling of emptiness I thought, “this is what God must feel like.” Anyone see the movie, “Bruce Almighty,” where Jim Carrey’s character is trying to answer all of God’s emails, and is just goes on forever? That’s what this felt like.
Which led to my next feeling: anger. Who was on this spiritual care staff anyway? Didn’t they do any work? It’s like assuming pastors have nothing to do during the week after the Sunday service – HA. But in the moment I had no empathy for my colleagues. All I had was contempt. I didn’t want to understand their meetings, their self-care, their preparation, complex visiting schedule, and under-staffed situation, most likely due to budget constraints. Which led me to my third feeling:
Shame. I must have to become the most super pastor-chaplain to do all this stuff. Notice that sentence started with “I,” not “we,” as in, why don’t we join the movement of care already happening at this place. In the face of my anxiety I put all the weight on my shoulders. Not only feeling afraid of the unknown (walking into a sick person’s room, probably blood spurting onto my clothes, which by the way was an incorrect assumption, that hasn’t happened yet), but feeling inadequate as I mentally compared myself to all the fabulous pastors I’ve known in my life. My first tactic then, naturally, was to imitate those pastors I knew, my uncle, my friends, my home pastor, my professors: walk like them, lead like them, and talk like them. You see where this is going.
I was in need of a little wisdom.
Today, we’re going to sing: “Wisdom calls throughout the city/ knows our hunger and in pity/ gives her loving in invitation/ to the banquet of salvation.”*
What a pleasant picture. You can just taste it now, right? Maybe some spaghetti. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. But wait, the pasta’s a little crunchy like it’s boiled too short. The potatoes taste a little bland like there’s not enough butter. My grandma would have a problem with that, and honestly so do I. I guess I’m having a hard time tasting it.
Wisdom! What is this banquet of salvation? Who is wisdom? I know I’m in seminary and supposed to see this perfectly abundant feast, and yet I see an abundance of violence around me, people being shot in church in South Carolina, churches being set on fire, earthquakes striking nations that cannot sustain the damage to their buildings and infrastructure, college graduates finding work that only barely makes a dent in the heap of student loans whose interest only climbs year by year. I see best laid plans in the world, in our lives, falling apart.
As I read about the book of Proverbs I learned that it was written to men to seek out “the good life.” It is a book that was written by bureaucrats, full of their wisdom and has folk wisdom woven into its pages. This is a beautiful image for how God weaves the haves and have-nots to serve the world and make a difference; but I’m just not seeing it. Wisdom takes the form of a woman, some argue, to lift up women’s work, women’s essential work in Israelite history of teaching children, caring for the home, and supporting the family, but even this makes me feel like women are then told to dream only in one particular way. Yes, woman, you are wisdom – but Jesus, he was a man, and we most often use male words to describe God, he, himself, our Father. These ideas and questions still stick with me. What does it mean to be the same sex/gender as an embodiment of God?
So where is the banquet of salvation and will I know it when I see it? Wisdom, what are you inviting me to see?
I think that God is saying that wisdom is not something stuffed in the past, but alive in the now. God is speaking through woman wisdom when she says, “Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates.” This means we are radically together – we truly are one and are never alone. Wisdom is with us, in those around us, and in us. Wisdom was with God in the very beginning acts of creation in Genesis, and Wisdom is with us now as we try to make sense of today. Wisdom is with us when we try to answer, “How was your day today?” and we try and share with our loved ones the meaning and “take-away” of the day. Wisdom is with us in the ebs and flows of daily work. If there’s anything the book of Proverbs is trying to do, with all its voices that created it, this book is proclaiming, choose life, choose it daily, and choose the good life.
When I looked at that patient list in my chaplain orientation I tried to calm my worry by creating a solution to my problem all on my own. Wisdom in that moment was, I’m sure was laughing, saying, “Ok, you try that for a while.”
Through the weeks since, my questions to nurses and doctors of, “How are they doing?” asking about patients, have turned, as I’m asked by the nurses and doctors, “How are they doing?” Some days I’m giving spiritual care. On other days, on every day, the nurses are giving spiritual care. On other days the social worker is giving spiritual care. Sometimes the custodian is giving spiritual care. They might not call it that, but when I see my colleagues take time to listen attentively to a patient’s story, walk with them in their pain, celebrations, or boredom, they are caring for that patient’s spirit. We are not alone as we care. I am not alone as I care. You are not alone as you care.
A nurse asked me recently while I was charting on a computer, “What’s going on?” and I pointed to the room of a retired baker who I just left, shouting, “The Twins game is on in there!” He smiled and we paused in the swirl of activity and asked about each other’s day, big questions, and where we grew up. Now, this was after a month of me approaching other staff for conversation or ideas about which patients to see. It took persistence and showing up consistently, but finally nurses and staff were coming up to me to talk about big things or little things.
I felt like I was finally being seen.
Someone saw me, and I’m betting that others do too, and have seen me all along. The way we relate to each other is changing. Our tone of teamwork and passing the baton to each other is changing – like we are co-creating the vibe of our hospital unit. We are shaping how we show up to leaders, and this could only be made possible by creating a new reality together, through the power of Wisdom and the God that works with her and through her. The banquet of salvation, of the good life, is within the gestures of generosity and time set apart to see the staff there as workers yes, but first, humans, and children of God. Helping hands are everywhere if you just see each other.
Help abounds. Kindness abounds. Hard words, true words abounds. Just a taste of this banquet – just a taste; it just might be among us, in the serving, in the leading, in the caring, in the trusting.
But, like, I have just rationalized this whole thing. It’s up here in my head, I can see the banquet. Ok yes, in this line of work, caring for sick people and the fabulous staff, yes, yes I get it.
But I don’t feel it. Where is the banquet of salvation? Wisdom, what are you inviting me to see?
We read today Wisdom “takes her stand” – at the crossroads, beside the gates of town, the gates of the city. Maybe she’s inviting us to see the crossroads at which we stand, within us. What does it feel like at that crossroad?
You’re at one. I know you are. I’m at my own too. What does it feel like to stand there?
Know that you stand at the same place as Wisdom.
She cries through you, “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live… I was brought forth by God, I was there when he drew a circle on the face of the deep… when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight.”
You are daily in God’s delight daily and at all times. You were there. You were brought forth by God. You are a master worker. Through you, wisdom is at work. Wisdom lies in you. What does that feel like, to know wisdom lies in you?
Wisdom takes her stand. In God’s royal priesthood we love and care through our work, our lives, on behalf of those entrusted to our care. I know it’s hard to stand at those crossroads. It feels uncomfortable. But stay there. Stand there. Feel changed there. Know that you are seen there, even if by no one else than by God and the Wisdom God creates with. Wisdom lies within you, in whatever shape that takes.
So in closing, I got a call at 2:30am the other day for a family who wanted a chaplain to be with them as their grandpa died. So I came into a packed room, expecting to see silent, solemn faces, staring into the deep. Instead I heard laughter. I heard stories about grandpa. Yes, there were tears and big cries, but there were memories and gratitude shared in a sense of abundance that I have rarely experienced. They cared for one another as a family does as one passes into eternal life.
So I’m standing there – what do I do? What wisdom do I have to share here? I have a Bible – so what? I have an order of service for healing or something – so what? These people need hugs, not Bible verses shot at them. So I put down my Bible. We gave each other hugs. I gave them oil to draw hearts and crosses on their grandpa’s forehead & share a word of love and gratitude. This is usually a ‘healing’ service, but he was about gone. His heart machine was toast. What do we do? How do we define healing? What is quality of life?
Wisdom takes her stand. She says, “To you, O people, I call, and my cry is to all that live.” I was there when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, like a master worker, I was daily his delight.
Wisdom shows up when we show up. Wisdom, all the different kinds of wisdom, shows up at our crossroads and says put down your instruction manual. Put down your guards, your solutions, your fears. I want you as only you can be. If you feel like crying, cry. If you feel like telling a story, tell a story. If you feel like coloring in a coloring book at 4:30 with squirrelly grandkids in a hospital conference room, do that too. If you feel like hugging, hug. But in all of your big and small decisions, wisdom call us to choose life. Stand at your crossroads, listening to wisdom’s weaving in and weaving out, proclaiming life in the Lord and living like you mean it. See the banquet as wisdom takes her stand, this day and forever more.
*”We Eat the Bread of Teaching,” by Omer Westendorf & Jerry Rae Brubaker, (World Library Publications, 1998).
I can see those two fancy squatty buildings on the west side of the metro that I see as we drive on highway 100. I can see a half dozen cranes that look like they’re protecting the new football field construction in downtown Minneapolis. I can see the roofs and windows of hundred-year-old buildings that have been refurbished, repurposed, and reconstructed over and over again to house the now world-class medicine-organization, which is the hospital that I work for this summer. This is my classroom. This is my parish. This is by far the weirdest class credit I’ve ever taken. This is by far the most high-stakes class credit I’ve ever taken.
Since switching from the Master of Arts back to the Master of Divinity, I get to take the pastor-track-related credit, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which many refer to as the, “just get it done” credit. Just get through it. Take it in the summer – it’s longer hours but fewer weeks. Sounds good to me.
But once I got here, got my badge, my employee parking pass, my pager, and our rotating on-call pager and code blue pager, something felt different than, “just get it done.” Once I saw the list of patients names who wanted a chaplain to visit them, once I read why they were there, once I heard their stories of purpose, desires to walk, meaning, oops, oops again, heartache, the people they miss at home, and the people they wish would move out, I realized this is much more than “just get it done.”
True, this is chaplaincy. My task in this credit is to be a chaplain, which is a different flavor of pastoral-congregational ministry, the route most consider when they enter the MDiv program. I’m the chaplain for my assigned unit, and each intern, resident chaplain (super intern), and board certified chaplain has an assigned unit. At my unit I’m the one who usually asks nurses and physicians, “What’s going on with them?” before I say hi, and sometimes I get asked by nurses and physicians, “What’s going on with them?” Here, I am becoming known. I’m their chaplain. I hope I get so lucky as to be missed come August.
Sometimes a chaplain visit is requested on my unit, but more often than not my day is guided by following energy. I follow the energy as a nurse struggles to finish out recording a note and connect with other units and we talk about how lame it is when shifts don’t end when they’re supposed to. I follow the energy as a patient just glows at the mention of walking around the lake, and she tell me it feels like “freedom,” and then we draw pages together in a nature coloring book (yes that happened, it was awesome). I follow the energy when I pass a waiting room and glance at the serious folks in there, and then walk back to merely sit and talk about whatever they want to talk about for 20 minutes.
In the midst of this, Timothy (The best. Spouse of the year. Thanks for letting me beat you at tennis later.) and I are calling moving truck people and looking up on Google maps the distance between stops between here and Washington state, as we start a new chapter out there in September. That will come soon enough.
But for now I’m just trying to be as much Allison as I can while also being a chaplain. I’m sure some use CPE to “try on” what it means or feels like to be a pastor or a chaplain. I don’t think that’s for me. What I think is working, is being myself, while showing up in the world through this vocation as a chaplain/pastor. Who knew it took so much courage to show up as yourself. But it’s a good challenge, a good opportunity. And I get to use colored pencils and talk about where we want to live when we grow up.
I’m not sure what’s next. I just know who will be there: 1. Allison, 2. God.
To remind ourselves, these are the five ways of making meaning according to Robert Kegan, illustrated by PhD candidate Steve Thomason:
For this last week I’ll be exploring how to lead in a congregational context where I, as a pastor, might provide care for my people as a crisis occurs, knowing there are multiple ways of meaning-making represented in the congregation. In the pews are a diversity of theologies, values, family of origin stories, and ways of making meaning. Knowing this, it’s not our job as pastors to make sense to every single one of these people, but it’s our task to provide them with ways to make meaning as they sort out their worldview.
Please note that this post will be soaked in privilege as someone seeking ordination to be a pastor through earning a Master of Divinity. People who are not pastors are loved by God and have the capacity (and beyond) for the kind of leadership I’ll describe here. For the sake of making this an effective case study, I will focus on one specific kind of leadership (pastor) because I will be one (or at least hope to be one).
To make “the rubber hit the road” with these five ways of making meaning, I want to consider a case study, like a crisis a church might face. Unfortunately it’s a dark one, but we live in a dark world sometimes. One kind of crisis that is specific and unfortunately reoccurring are shootings nearby or on campuses of schools. Since Columbine, I think everyone has had the thought, “That would never happen here,” and then a shooting happens near your home or where you grew up.
As pastors, we’re called to hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper/Twitter feed in the other hand. We’re called to care for people, not fix people. We’re called to co-lead and co-create, not dominate conversations, spaces, or worship leading. In my denomination (ELCA), pastors are often identified as those who focus on, “Word and Sacrament,” and maybe this is what people mean by “Word and Sacrament”: holding the sacred conversations, spaces, and writings (Word) while helping others see God showing up in the tangible realities of our daily lives (Sacrament).
So what does it look like for a pastor to hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper/Twitter feed in the other? What does it look like to care for people, and co-lead/co-create with them when a school shooting happens in their community, knowing that multiple levels of consciousness/meaning-making are represented in their congregation and surrounding community?
In one way, I’ve actually done this before. On the evening of the April 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, I was working the front desk of my residence hall at Pacific Lutheran University. I gathered together other campus leaders and staff to put on a candlelight vigil and about 100 people came from campus and the community. It mattered to me that people had a place to go if they were scared, angry or lonely.
I thought about softening the blow with a nice, kind Bible verse. But the kind of response required to a school shooting needs to be precipitated by community relationships, emotional competency by the congregation, and serving our neighbors together, as church people and non-church people. This “prep” and the response itself is a challenge and almost unimaginable how such a feat might be met. I’m guessing it has been a struggle for pastors in the past. It will be a challenge for pastors in the future. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should shrink away from it. I think I’ll start there.
I think it wouldn’t be smart to hide. This is a time when it’s a blessing and a curse that part of the role of a pastor is to be a Christian public leader, emphasis on leader and public. I think holding community conversations (first agenda item: prayer) would be a wise and welcome move. Dispersing a survey on “what kind of education would you like to see or hear or learn from,” when really people are craving person-to-person conversation, would not be helpful. Not that I’ve ever been in this situation, nor wish to ever have to be in this situation. But that’s one thought.
People with 3rd order consciousness (see above video, from In Over Our Heads) see value in themselves as an individual, but have difficulty in seeing themselves as important to society. It would be easy for them to understand themselves as victims of these horrific crimes, or be anxious and anticipate themselves as being victims of future shootings. Shifting language from victim to survivor might be helpful, but that is how some (more than some) make meaning. In crisis mode, we either freeze with fear or we fight to make it right. Creating a structure to articulate our feelings and desires to help would be helpful especially for 3rd order thinkers.
And it’s not like those in 4th order (see above video) are doing much better. They see that our culture, community, or congregation is one among many cultures, communities, and congregations. Empathy might come from this, but also a feeling of helplessness. What can I do, if “that” culture of violence and hatred can terrorize “our” culture/community/congregation? This is of course facetious, because “that” culture is our culture. We are a culture that condones violence and racism and micro-aggressions against those at the margins, socially, racially, and economically.
These are just my initial thoughts, and I think they raise more questions than answers. Like, how to befriend the local law enforcement, school board, teachers, families and students. Much like other fields of work, I think congregational work is becoming more inter-disciplinary. But I think serving as a pastor in the midst of a crisis will be hard work, and I won’t know what all will be required until it happens. But building relationships with those around me as soon as I get to a place or setting and being centered in my own work and connection with God will be helpful and crucial.
This week I want to consider how this class has impacted my understanding of my 6-session, small group, faith-based Storytellers curriculum. Yes, I write curriculum, for fun, for faith communities. I didn’t like what was out there so I made my own. That’s not true, or all the way, I just wanted to contribute my own particular flavor to the mix. It’s amazing how few resources are out there for adult curriculum but MONSTEROUS amounts of resources of Sunday school and children’s curriculum. Perhaps an example of the vacuum of churches understanding the value of lifelong learning? Let me rephrase that: The church does not often place a high value on adults’ capacity to learn and widen their worldviews. Granted, another programmatic need is not what churches look for. But this isn’t a program and the need for adults to feel affirmed and valued in their continued learning of themselves, their neighbors, and their world in this day and age is just too important to ignore. (/off soapbox)
So, quickly let me summarize Storytellers and how it came to be (in it’s current form):
In my commute to Trinity Lutheran in Stillwater, MN from St. Paul in 2014 I heard a TED talk that featured storytellers like Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her experience of being stereotyped by her college roommate led her to write and speak about the danger of the single story. She argued that the danger of a single story of a person is that the whole self, the complex self, is watered down to a single characteristic, a single image, or a single story. Danger! I agree with Adichie, we are all complex, have many stories, and have many dimensions, and change and grow from one day to the next.
I wanted to make a tool that helped congregations come to this same conclusion: to see their stories collected in the form of word art, displayed in a public space so they would remember, often, their identity, and that God’s story is speaking through all of their stories. So, in concert with some strategic thinking going on as a staff, I created Storytellers based on the five emerging values of the congregation. Each value is embedded in each of the five prompts. Each are explored, one per session, with the phrasing, “Tell me a story of… when you served your neighbor,” or, “Tell me a story of… when you realized you had something to say about God,” etc. We piloted it as a staff, and I asked participants at the ELCA Youth Network Extravaganza in Detriot to pilot in their congregations too, in their small groups.
I think what I’ve learned about the cultural expectation of adults has a major impact on how I hope people will interact with the Storytellers curriculum. For instance, how might someone in a 3rd order consciousness interact with Storytellers? How might someone in a 4th order consciousness interact with Storytellers? If you need reminding what these 1-5 levels of consciousness are as outlined in Robert Kegan’s book In Over Our Heads, watch this easy-to-follow illustration by illustrator, pastor and PhD candidate (Luther Sem, Congregational Mission and Leadership) Steve Thomason:
So according to Kegan, someone with a third order consciousness can differentiate between themselves and another person, but they also have the ability to abstract, or have and create ideas. They know themselves (self-conscious), but they don’t yet see their ability to self-author or design/create new realities for themselves. They can place themselves in society, but don’t see society as a place or people that is impacted by them. Kegan equates this consciousness as characteristic of the traditionalist (pre-modern) era.
Fourth order consciousness builds on third order’s person ability to abstract by seeing themselves as capable of self-authorship. They see that the society they inhabit is just one society among many societies in the world. They start to see the relationships between relationships – or what you might say they ‘acknowledge boundaries’. Kegan equates this consciousness as characteristic of the modern era.
Now between these two, it’s easy to say “4 is better!” But I have to remember that this model is not for the sake of identifying whose better, but where are we at for the sake of being empathetic with our neighbors. Not to “feel sorry for them” but truly, to walk in their shoes, and demonstrate genuine empathy for each other in a world that is often hostile to different ways of knowing or different ways or learning or “being smart.” I think for Storytellers, I have to step back and think through, “What’s being asked of participants?” They’re asked to be honest, vulnerable, reflective on their life through the lens of these prompts, and see themselves as complex individuals with lots of stories and layers. Basically, they have to ask “Who am I?”
Storytellers asks participants to reflect on their life in an identity-forming way. I think this might create some anxiety within third-order thinkers because it’s asking them to not only be conscious of themselves, but be self-authoring, a trait of a 4th order thinker. But what Storytellers could do is provide a frame or a structure within which they can explore these big reflective questions (as expressed by my Prof. Mary Hess). The structure might ease their anxiety, and the questions or prompts might offer just the right amount of challenge to help them move into a 4th order way of thinking.
Now I don’t believe one small group curriculum can shift a person’s thinking overnight, but it could be one step, albeit small. It might help a person see that in the midst of all their stories, and all their friends’ stories, is a story of God redeeming, sustaining, and breathing through creation – breathing through them.
I think Kegan’s model of the 1st-5th consciousnesses could really provide a richness for thinking through more deeply how a participant might interact with Storytellers. Even though it might be small, it is kind of cool to think that something I created could make a difference, at least a small difference, in how someone sees their life and other’s lives as valuable and beautiful.
In this second reflection I want to build on the last by wondering why churches should care about lifelong learning, and the adults that would take advantage of it (at least, I hope would). I finished In Over Our Heads and it pains me to report that the title is truly a statement, not a question – we are in over our heads. But fear not! The opportunities to work together and walk alongside each other as adult learners are tremendous and bring me a lot of hope.
Prof. Mary Hess pointed me to a doctorate student who did a “live draw” youtube video, outlining Kegan’s framework on how individuals know/understand/interact with the world (he calls it “levels of consciousness”) Check it out.
Now as I nerd out about how awesome lifelong learning is, it’s important that I share part of my story (unless you already know it from earlier posts!). I taught adult small group learning experiences at Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, MN before I jumped back into seminary life. When I arrived their lifelong learning pastor helped me stretch my wings a bit and helped me grow a curriculum that she and others created in the past few years. Working with older adults, hockey dads and moms, 40-year old civil servants, engineers, teenagers, bright young women about to leave for college – these lifelong learning opportunities mattered to these folks, and I’ll always be grateful for their willingness to try those experiments with me as I facilitated and created some small group curriculum (and preached and did some one-on-one coaching).
Another part of my story is that my mom was an elementary school teacher. Now she’s a tutor and has a huge passion to help kids learn, from classroom basics to gardening and helping them be eco-conscious, to building up leadership in kids (like she did for my sister and I for which I’m grateful). Growing up with a mom as a teacher will always inform how I see that learning is and will always be important for individuals as well as communities everywhere.
So now that the “cat’s out of the bag,” learning is important to me and how I understand my unfolding story in the world. Whether you know it or not, your openness to learn, in various contexts, greatly influences your confidence, growth, and sense of self. Whether the church knows it or not, its peoples’ openness to learn greatly influences their confidence, growth and sense of self!
Why, specifically, should churches be pivoting toward a lens of lifelong learning in their work? (As a general group, I’ll address the bigger faith community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that I know as “the church”)
1. You said you would. Not to be blunt or anything, but it’s true! Parents, sponsors, and/or other people in the congregation promise to walk alongside people as they get baptized. The pastor asks, “As you bring you child (or adult, or significant other, or loved one) to receive the gift of baptism, you are entrusted with responsibilities… [here are a few:] to live with them among God’s faithful people, to teach, to nurture, to proclaim, to care, to work for justice and peace” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 228). Where in there does it say, “model for them that learning in community ends when you receive a diploma?” Unfortunately by offering little to no lifelong learning opportunities for all ages, we’ve made it a cultural practice to not advocate for and create a strong presence of learning in our congregations. And yet we promise to be with them for their whole lives, which implies a life full of rich, hard, beautiful, and life-giving learning.
2. Because learning grows empathyand you step into another’s world. Money is a tough subject to talk about because it’s emotional. Most conversations about money aren’t about money at all. Money is tied to our relationships, our sense of purpose, our sense of home, and the way we understand ourselves and the world. So when I got the chance to coach and facilitate a financial workshop for couples, I jumped at it. One of the things that we teach couples is that financial conversations are enriched by using a couple of improv rules (there’s rules? It’s true!): one of them is “step into each other’s world.” Feel the height, walls, ground, values, dreams, and voice of the others’ space.
What is required to do that? Learning! Learn what the other is thinking by asking and listening compassionately. Ask what is so important to them about their particular view of money. Stories might come out, ideas, or more questions for more learning. This is why learning is so important and is a lifelong practice. It helps us have empathy, and step into the worlds and perspectives of others – in our homes, right next door, or all the way around the world. Like Sharon Creech writes in the award-winning novel Walk Two Moons, “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.”
3. Learning changes you. Yes, that might be your number one reason not to learn! Sometimes it feels easier to hide, but I know I would rather live as myself instead of pretending to be someone else because I refused to open myself up to learning. One of my colleagues was an executive coach at a large Saint Paul company. This company gave its employees the opportunity to learn about themselves, their motivations, their stories, where they’re being lead (big picture), and their alignment with their values and beliefs. Yes, individuals could discover that their current job is not where they should be! But this learning is for the sake of the learner (not for the maintenance of the institution), and how they might show up in the world as their most unique self.
This kind of inner-work is crucial especially for leaders. Finding out the “why” of their work and sense of vocation and identity is huge – and learning is the root of this work.
4. Because they’re learning without you. Get on the bus. Your adults, young and old, are leaning how to make a difference outside of church – don’t you want to contribute to those conversations? Bigger questions of “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” are explored all over our world in different ways – through graduate school, through Pinterest boards, through thought-provoking podcasts, or life-enrichment opportunities through work. Why not contribute to those conversations and jump in the water? Intrinsic to the gospel is a claim about who we are (children of God), and what our purpose is (varied, diverse, beautiful vocations). The church has something to say! Yes, it requires the risk of individuals rejecting or ignoring you, but why not try?
These are just a few reasons why lifelong learning and church go together for me. Communities and groups are starting to see the need to provide adults with lifelong learning opportunities (see this awesome illustration of learning). When In Over Our Heads was published in 1994, Kegan predicted that America would see an increased amount of adults who seek out formal learning opportunities (Kegan 271). Luther Seminary is experiencing the biggest distance-learners community it’s ever seen – around half of its students. How might congregations be a part of this movement? How might congregations sense God’s nudging to care for and walk alongside all of its members in their learning, young and old?
I think congregations wonder about lifelong learning, but I’m not sure if all sense a need, or have the capacity to think creatively about these things. Either way I think adults desire to learn, but are tentative to admit that they have more to learn (i.e. they don’t want to look stupid, because who does?). I wonder what might be creative ways to encourage lifelong learning in safe and welcoming environments.
I think congregations could be these places and communities, and in baptism they promise to be – but do they want to be?
I graduated from college with the conviction that I wanted my life to make a difference. So when I turned to my church to see if they might help, I was given a copy of this book:
My former classmates are probably rolling their eyes – yes, this is a book any ELCA seminary-bound person has skimmed or read. But here I found the basics of vocational discernment (something not just for to-be-pastors, but for everybody, weird I know) and the basics of what it means to do ministry, i.e. make a difference in the world because I feel so moved because of my faith. Vocation is not just about your job, but about your relationships, your gifts, how you serve, and what makes you feel like “this is what I feel called to do.” Discernment is thinking, wondering, and praying about it.
But the problem of this picture of vocational discernment is that it doesn’t honor different ways to vocationally discern. If you put me in a room with a Bible and say, “vocationally discern!” I would probably stare at the white walls with boredom, hoping that the door was unlocked and wondering when I would get lunch soon. But I fear this is the picture many people imagine when they approach “vocational discernment” that the church so fiercely endorses.
Here’s the problem. We have bodies. We have brains that allow us to question and identify when the wool is being pulled over our eyes. We have feelings and the capacity to thrive and fail. We feel good when we help people or animals or the environment. Vocational discernment is not just thinking: it’s getting lost, adventuring, experimenting (which is what the church is anyway, is it not?), protesting, learning, leading, sharing, trying, failing, trying again, capturing the high moments and trying again.
Not one person has the same equation that adds up to “this is what vocational discernment looks like.” No two people are carbon copies, therefore no two people vocationally discern the same way.
This means the church has the opportunity to welcome and embrace people who think about what makes them tick and serve joyfully in a million different kind of ways.
Vocational discernment is not for the weak. It’s for the courageous. It’s for the failures and the beautiful moments of learning. It’s for those who say to leaders, CEO’s, pastors, bishops, “This is not working, but I have an idea of how to make it work.” It’s for those who look around and see people blinded by insecurity and fear, and can’t do anything but want to rip off their shades and help them see the beauty around them. Not just “ooh, pretty!” beauty, but true, real beauty – when people make amends; when organizations say “Oops, we messed up, and we want to make it right;” when a friend invites the truth by insisting “But why is that the case?” or when a partner admits, “Maybe we’re asking the wrong question?” and identifies the advent of a new chapter.
This is the kind of beauty that’s all around us if we only open our eyes to see. Young people are starving to hear their church say “I see it, too.” We want to hear that the way we think about God’s presence in our lives is beautiful and needed; we want to hear that our vocations are weird and beautiful and strange and just right – especially in a market where contract work dominates and part-time or full-time work with benefits is difficult to find or keep.
This is vocational discernment:
Noticing every time you have the thought, “I really should blog about that.”
Reaching out to a church administrator about an HR question and being asked, “What’s new with you? Can we get some coffee to catch up?”
Insisting on scheduling informational interviews around a certain class or community-based game.
Not looking at your phone for 48 hours as you explore a new part of the state you live in.
Realizing that you keep pinning the same kind of quote on Pinterest. It happens. I call it the Pinterest fog.
Hanging out with friends, and through the laughter hearing “I know! We could start the…”
Do you see it? This what I see: Authenticity without strings attached. Experimenting with people you trust. Creativity for the sake of play. Being vulnerable and praying it’s met with a connection on the other side.
This is one picture of vocational discernment, but one that echos the qualities that young people are starving to feel when they ask their church, the community in which their faith was first sparked, “Is there anything out there for me?” We want coaches, mentors, colleagues. We want churches to find the same beauty we see in the world, the beauty you can only see if you get lost.
Hello friends. I’m not exactly back in a rhythm after my lent practice of writing about mira voce. But an idea has sparked in me a couple months ago that just won’t extinguish.
Remember my rant a few months ago about being valued a young adult (which is great, but it was only a young adult) when I was at a stewardship conference? Well that fire hasn’t gone out. Having your passions, interests, experiences, leadership ignored is not fun. But here’s the thing: I know I do it, too. Churches, families, you, me – we all accidently prescribe a single story on a person, and see them as that one thing. Oh, you’re the kid. You’re the older woman. You’re the musician. Therefore, you should be in confirmation; you should be in Women of the ELCA; you should play music at every event that requires music.
Plenty of people don’t do this pigeon hole-ing. But we all slip into it: You. You have one story: your race, your religion, your job, the way you vote, your car, your sexuality. I’m going to ignore your God-given complexity and beauty so it’s easier to interact with you. Your one story is how I will understand and interact with you.
There needs to be a movement that stops this. A movement that says, “You are more than that one thing.” We all have more than one story. We all have a story of how we’ve felt that there’s something bigger out there than us – call it God, the universe, the one, unity. We also, all have a story of where we’re from. We all have a story of helping someone, and how that felt.
All my stories are told through rose-colored glasses. Sure I have sad stories, but at the core of me, I’m a pretty positive person.
So as I tell my story for the next 5 weeks, I want you to do the same. Tell me your story. Dare to be seen. Share the glasses you wear. Besides, there’s only one you. The stories you hold, and the glasses that you wear are the only ones in the world. Contribute your story and I’ll make a wordle of each week’s contributions.
Starting next week, I’ll tell a story of when I:
1. Served my neighbor
2. Felt like a follower of Jesus
3. Stewarded all I have and all I am
4. Realized I had something to say about God
5. Felt uniquely designed to make a difference
I’ll tell one story each week. I hope you’ll tell one too. I’m so jealous of The Strangers Project. That would be a dream to create something like that with lots of people’s stories. But for this series – contribute your story in the comments or email me with #stories (Twitter DM @allisonsiburg), anonymously or not by Mondays at 11am CST. Contribute a story of when you served your neighbor by next Monday.
God’s story is speaking through all of ours. It’s not done. I tell my stories #thrurosecoloredglasses. What about you?