Maundy, Maundy

If there is any holy day that I like more than Christmas and Easter, today is indeed that day. Today, in many traditions, is known as Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday is a part of the Triduum (the three days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday). Maundy comes from the latin word “mandatum” which means “mandate” or “command”. On this day, Jesus gives us a new commandment “Love one another as I have first loved you.”

Maundy Thursday often uses the Last Supper reading from the Gospel of John where Jesus washes the disciples feet. The foot-washing does not appear in any of the other gospels. Maundy Thursday is an important day, in my opinion, because it teaches us how to follow Jesus’ example of being served and serving others. Jesus still washes Judas’ feet even though he knows what is yet to come…that Judas will betray him before his death. Jesus calls all of us with all of our brokenness to come to the table, have our feet washed, and gather as we eat and drink together. Then we are called to go out into the world “to serve and be served.”

My call to Diaconal Ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is based specifically on this gospel text from John. Diaconal Ministers are called to pick up their basins and towels and wash the feet of all God’s people. Diaconal Ministry grew out of the Catholic understanding of deacons and deaconesses. On my consecration day, I was presented with a basin and towel to represent my call. It is a daily reminder to me to pick up that basin and towel and reach  far beyond the church walls. I am called to bridge the gap between the church and the world. So now you can see why Maundy Thursday is one of my favorite holy days.

Often, on Maundy Thursday, many congregations have their youth who are going to take their first communion do it on this night because it is the night we celebrate the holy meal in addition to the foot-washing. I am excited that we have 21 youth publicly joining us at the table tonight. What a powerful reminder of how we are all called to be fed and forgiven.

“How beautiful are the voices; How beautiful are the hands; How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good news to the world.”

We Hunger

“We hunger to be known and understood. We hunger to be loved. We hunger to be at peace inside our own skins. We hunger not just to be fed these things but, often without realizing it, we hunger to feed others these things because they too are starving for them. We hunger not just to be loved but to love, not just to be forgiven but to forgive, not just to be known and understood for all the good and bad times that for better or worse have made us who we are, but to know and understand each other to the point of seeing that, in the last analysis, we all have the same good times, the same bad times, and that for every season there is no such thing in all the world as anyone who is really a stranger.”–Frederick Buechner from “Secrets in the Dark”

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Buechner. My call to ministry, as a Diaconal Minister in the Evangelical Lutheran church in America (ELCA) is best captured in this Buechner quote “The place God calls you to be is the place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.”

Yes, that place where the world’s deep hunger and my deep gladness meet. The thing is, my friends, that hunger is all around us. We all hunger in some way or another. Yes, there are many who literally hunger. God calls us to reach out to them and provide food for them. I am proud of organizations like Backpack Buddies in our community where backpacks are filled with food and given to families who are struggling to get them through the weekend.

I don’t know what it is like to hunger in the way these people do. I have a roof over my head. I have a refrigerator full of food. I have a warm place to lay my head at night. I can go out and buy more food if I need too. So I have never truly experienced hunger in this way, but my friends, we all hunger…

We hunger to find that special person to share life with.

We hunger for peace to be brought about in this world.

We hunger for the end to violence and war.

We hunger to know that there is enough.

We hunger to know that we are enough!

And in that hungering, we begin to truly hear the words from Frederich Buechner because we are truly not alone. We are all alike in many ways. We all have things that we hunger for and need in our lives. We all hunger for God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. And in that promise, we know that we are truly never a lone; that we are truly never strangers.

Peace in my Heart

I’ve been spending the last few days at a Gathering of ELCA Diaconal Ministers. My cup absolutely overflows when I’m with these dear brothers and sisters in “Diakonia.”

This morning we did the business part of our gathering where we elected a new leadership/transition team. Ever since entering this community, I’ve loved (and still love) our prayerful way of listening to where God is leading us. And I along with many of us have been open to that call.

Three years ago my name appeared on the list of potential names. However God did not lead me to that call. This morning I again said I was open to that call. My name once again appeared. And we prayerfully narrowed 5 names down to 2 names. At the end, my name was not one of those names. And to be honest, I felt and still feel complete peace.

Peace that our community elected two beautiful strongly gifted women. There is peace in my heart that God led us to elect these two individuals. Peace that God sensed I wasn’t the right person at this time and peace that God will lead and new life will emerge!

Thank you dear brothers and sisters for bringing forth my name. I’m honored that you would even feel God leading you to write down my name.

Continued Prayers and blessings to our new leadership/transition team!

Winding our Way through Mucky Waters

Have you ever been canoeing on the river and even though you know which way to go, the weather or something begins to stir you in another direction? It becomes difficult to maneuver on the water when the waves or wind or  mucky water gets in our way and wants to lead us in a different direction.Yet it never seems to fail that we end up where we need to be going. There have been times in my life when I have wondered where I am going; wondered where God is leading OR why God was leading me in a certain direction? Yet God ALWAYS knows where I am headed and has never led me to the wrong place.

Going to seminary, working at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp, struggling with classes and then finally graduating from seminary, being consecrated as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA, and even understanding my family’s own struggle with mental illness…are all times when God has led me to the right place at the right time. Now the last one hasn’t been easy for me to understand.  There are days when I truly struggle with my family members’ struggles with mental illness. Why them? Why our family? And in those moments, I have felt like I am winding my way, canoeing through mucky waters…trying to find clarity and clear water! Yet after a lot of prayer and talking with God, I have FINALLY realized the gift of sharing my own experience with others. There are so many who struggle with this illness yet so many are afraid to talk about it because there is such a stigma associated with it.

Today I came home and read an email that blessed me in more ways than I could ever think. Now I don’t think most of us would see this email as a blessing but it is…it is a blessing because it has offered me an opportunity to once again share my/our story; to help this person see they are not alone! (In fact, in seminary, I read a book that talked about “how there are so many board and care facilities for those who struggle with mental illness yet they are only a shadow in our steeple.” We need to see beyond the shadow!) When mental illness rears its ugly head, it’s hard to grasp how and why and what triggers these events but they do. There are so many wonderful doctors and hospitals who do tremendous work caring for these patients and their families. I wish I could say more but I just want those whose families daily struggle with this illness to know they are not alone. And there is definetely a light at the end of the tunnel….a light that comes in the midst of the darkness.

Several months ago a family member and I saw the movie “Silver Linings Playbook” which is all about a man who struggles with mental illness. I’ll be honest…as my family member sat next to me…I thought, “Is this going to be too much?” I found myself glancing at this person throughout the movie. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do. Perhaps protect them by walking out on the movie. We were both pulled into the movie and when it was all said and done, we both agreed it was about time…about time that Hollywood would tackle such an illness. My family member liked the movie for its honest. It was important for this person to see it but I think it was even more important for me to see it! The movie is well-written and the actors did a superb job. Please if you haven’t seen it, GO SEE IT…the movie’s storie captures so well the honesty of the illness. We need more movies like this! And after you see the movie, share it with someone else. Lets break the stigma!

For other posts about mental illness, check out these other posts:

My Diaconal Heart

Have you ever simply just ran out of steam? I’m guessing there are days when we all feel like that. Today I especially am feeling it. For quite awhile now, a taskforce was put together in the ELCA to talk about Diaconal Ministers, Associates in Ministry and Deacons/Deaconesses as they look toward their future.

When I went to seminary, I knew that God wasn’t calling me to be a Pastor. I went to seminary with no idea what I was going to do. Would I get a degree in Youth Ministry? Would I become rostered? And what would it mean to be rostered? When I arrived at seminary, I went in thinking I’ll get my Master of Arts degree. But that is pretty much as far as I got!

During those first months of seminary, I was taking an MA colloquoim class. In that class we read a book titled “From Word to Sacrament.” (A book about the history of the Diaconate!) As I read through that book, I heard God’s call for my life. Phrases simply began jumping off the page for me; “bridging church and world,” “picking up basin and towel and washing the feet of all God’s people”; and “Word and Service.” These were words the author was using to explain Diaconal Ministry.

I’ll be honest I grew up in North Dakota and had never heard of this roster, but as those words jumped off the page to me, I heard God saying “T, this is your call in life.” The next week, I had a session with my Spiritual Director. I walked into her office, with a smile on my face, proclaiming, “I think God is calling me into Diaconal Ministry.” She looked at me and asked a simple question, “What makes you say that?” I don’t remember the exact details of that conversation but I remember talking about my mom, my mom’s illness, the stigma associated with it. I closed by saying, “I think God is calling me to wash my mom’s feet and all of those who are seen as outcasts.” She looked at me and said, “Yes, that is Diaconal Ministry.” From that day on, I never doubted that God was calling me into this new roster.

I went through seminary….which was not an easy journey. In fact, there were days I wasn’t sure I would make it. I remember sitting in a candidacy meeting and being asked why I struggled with a class. I recall my advisor saying, “It would have been really easy for her to walk out those doors, shut those doors, and never look back. It’s taken her more guts to stick with it.” I held those words close as I walked the journey through seminary; knowing they would help sustain me as I walked toward my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA!

After seminary, I spent almost an entire year before I received a call. People didn’t know what to do with me and the roster. The Holy Spirit continued to work and I finally received a call. On April 23,2006 I was consecrated into Diaconal Ministry. I was the 108th (if I am remembering my number correctly)Diaconal Minister of the ELCA! Two of my dear friends from seminary drove through the night to share in that day with me. Many of my family and other caring adults in my life also were gathered that day. My sister was teaching in Arizona and surprised me. She said she couldn’t come but she showed up. She said, “I would never miss this day.” They saw as I was presented with my basin and towel. They laid their hands on me and promised to support me. They heard me make the promises in the consecration rite that are engrained in who God has called me to be. That day is one of the most holiest and special days of my life!

Like seminary, it hasn’t been easy. I have always had to educate about Diaconal Ministry but it is who I am so it didn’t phase me. I have continued to teach congregations and leaders about it because I knew there were others who would follow behind me. I am a persistent advocate for Diaconal Ministry yet I’m weary!

As I stated earlier in this blog, a taskforce has been convening to talk about our future and the future of the other rosters. I appreciate all the hardwork that has gone into this but I’m also sad that I and many others have been continually educating and I wonder if that has all been for nothing…and is lost! I’m tired…tired of fighting for what God has called me to do.

So no matter what happens, I will continue to reach out to those outside the church walls and will continue to equip those in the congregation to do the same. I will FOREVER carry on with my Diaconal heart. It is engrained in me and who I am! And in my opinion,that can never be taken away!

(Sorry for such a lengthy blog post friends! But it has been heavy on my heart today. These are my views and not necessarily the views of other Diaconal Ministers or even the ELCA! And on a lighter note, this is my 550th blog post!)

Mourning into Dancing

Three years ago on this day,I remember sitting at the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event with my small group that day. We began our day listening to music from Ben and Jon Larson. Sitting in that room, we strained to listen to the words “hands parted after prayer like cups raised to receive!”

Later that afternoon, the news broke about the earthquake! Little did we know that ours and so many lives would be changed that day! I am thankful that I was with friends on this day as we mourned and grieved together!

Three years later there is still so much to do in Haiti! May we always remember and never forget! For I truly believe that God will one day turn our “mourning into dancing!”

2012 in Review

2012 has been a great year! It really hasnt been filled with many huge milestones etc. Just the great wonderful every day stuff. Here is a quick little recap…

January-Rang in the New Year with my Dad. Had Prime Rib and shrimp from the local restaurant in my hometown. I know so exciting!

February-My uncle got married!!! Its crazy. He has been single most of his life and now hes married! So happy for them and love her!!

March-A visit from one of my favorite people and her girls on their way back home from visiting family in NE!

April-Celebrated my 6th anniversary as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA! Going to awedding and spending time with a dear Diaconal sister and WTS friends! Volunteering at an Adoption benefit for a college friend and her family!

May-My colleague went on Sabbatical…a well deserved one! A great Sabbatical pastor filled in and spent the summer serving alongside and with us!

June-Lutheran Academy of the Rockies! LOVE this Continuing Education event! 10 days of wonderfulness. Great time with great friends and meeting new friends. So blessed by LAR and the people it has brought into my life!

July-ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. 6 youth and another adult from the church I serve at. We went with our local Bible camp and it was awesome. We did lots of tourist fun..6 Flags in Missiouri, The Arch, Day on the Beach, National Civil Rights Museum. Wonderful speakers and fun at the Gathering! Finally meeting a wonderful lady who has become one of my BEST friends!

August-Colleague back from Sabbatical, Day Camp/Vacation Bible School, and a little vacation time!

September-My 34th Birthday. And a little trip to visit Mama!

October-WTS fun! Road trip for a seminary friends wedding. I went with one of my best friends from seminary days. It was awesome. So fun to catch up. We even got a little stop in at the Castle which was sooo good for my soul!

November-Jr High Youth Gathering. Receiving the MN Care Providers Community Partnership Award on behalf of DLC. The youth and homes of DLC received this award for their partnership with Serenity Assisted Living and DLC!

December-Advent and Christmas! I love this time of year. Reminds me of the importance of the season. Wonderful family time! Love spending time with my family! Now ready to ring in 2013 and see what the New Year will bring! Whatever the New Year brings, I know God is always there. Hope the New Year brings you, my readers, peace, hope, joy, and love!!

5 Minute Friday on a Saturday

Sweet Lisa-Jo hosts a weekly linkup at the Gypsy Mama called 5 minute Friday. That’s exactly what you do – write for ‘five minutes flat {on the given topic} – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.’ This week Lisa-Jo’s Facebook friends chose the topic of identity.

I saw this on my dear friend Anna’s blog and decided to spend 5 minutes writing on identity myself.


Identity is a crazy thing. My identity is as a daughter, sister, niece, grandchild, friend, mentor, Diaconal Minister, colleague, friend…etc! One identity that I yearn for extremely deeply is to be a MOM! However I must find that special man. But then I realize that society is different now and I could be a MOM without getting married. Its hard to think about because I dont know how people would react etc. What if I decided to do IVF or to adopt as a single woman? So often I think we get caught up in those identities we want to be or so deeply yearn for but what I think we fail to remember is that God has called and claimed us. Our identity is as “children of God.” I am a child of God, called and claimed, fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image! However I think that is hard for us.

My identity as a Diaconal Minister is important to me but yet it is hard for others to identify and claim that identity because they dont know a lot about the roster or understand what to do with us. However it is my call…it is one of the identities GOd has given and called upon me!

Identity is hard. Sometimes it is hard to even know what my identity is when I see how Im treated or how others are treated. Identity my friends though is who I am; a child of God!

—STOP! 5 Minutes is up! Hopefully the post makes sense! Ive never done a blog post like this before but I kind of liked it!

Not All Of Us Are Hands, Not All of Us are Feet!!

Two Mondays ago on April 23rd, I celebrated my 6th Anniversary as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA. Six years later, I one hundred percent feel called to Diaconal Ministry but there are times and days when I get frustrated with having to constantly explain myself and my call to ministry!

Last night I was chatting online with a dear D.M. friend and candidate who is currently attending seminary. She posed the question to me, “Do you ever struggle with not getting ordained?” I was honest with her. I told her that I haven’t ever struggled with being ordained but I have struggled with not always being included. There are times it seems like it might be much easier to get ordained and be a pastor but that’s not the ministry God has called me too! So how do I help others see that?!?!?!

I was saddened because this individual was put in a situation that I wish wouldn’t have had to happen but it did!! The truth is it isn’t just about Diaconal Ministers! It’s about all the other rosters in the ELCA as well; Associates in Ministry, Deacons/Deaconesses and Diaconal Ministers.

I am so thankful for colleagues and friends in ministry who “get it” and don’t question my or anyone’s call to ministry! These individuals are all blessings in my life! I wish they weren’t the only ones who got it though! There are times when I sometimes feel like I am not good enough or smart enough because of a comment someone made about my call to ministry. But the reality is that’s not the case at all!!! I just heard and was given a different call by God and I am thankful to God for that call!

As I told my friend, there are times I feel so tired! I’ll be honest I feel like I have to educate a lot but I also know that is part of this call! I just wish I didn’t have to educate all the time! In all honesty, the truth is I wish I didn’t have to constantly explain myself. It is EXHAUSTING!!!

But yet in the midst of the exhaustation, I know wholeheartedly that God has called me to this ministry just like he has called each and everyone of us to different calls in our lives. I am reminded of the text in 1 Corinithians 12 where we are reminded that we are one body with many members. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the One Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free and we are all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body (1 Corinthians 12: 12-17.” So perhaps we need to remember that not all of us are hands and not all of us are feet; not all of us are called to ordained ministry, and not all of us are called to “Word and Service” ministry, but without anyone of us, the church is not one body! In fact, I believe without all of us, the body (the church) cannot fully do the work God has called us to do!!

A Blessed Day

It’s a day that will always hold a special place in my heart…the day I was consecrated into the ministry of Word and Service; the day I was consecrated as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA! I can hardly believe that tomorrow April 23 will be the 6th anniversary of my consecration. It was such a blessed day; filled with family and friends. I am so glad that my friends Liz and Carrie drove through the night so they could be a part of this special day! The previous camp director of the camp I worked at preached a rockin’ sermon! A day that forever is a part of me and reminds me of my call to ministry! I remember so many laying their hands on me…what a powerful moment!