Kaye Wothe, Faith Community Nurse
The good news is my article this month previews some of the upcoming year’s great curriculum! The bad news is this already signals that fall is in our view. As someone who loves warm weather and sunshine, that is hard to fathom. Nevertheless the change of season can not be stopped so we might as well be doing great things together that will enrich us and feed our souls while we move through the year.
This year we have some great Wednesday night speakers on politics and religion, understanding more about transgender , issues around education, mental health from the perspective of a humorist, and more.
For WoSOTH Breakfasts we also have some great topics and speakers including someone from the UM Center of Spiritually introducing us to the practice of mindfulness; the Emily program talking to us about eating and our self esteem; the Sexual Violence Center looking at how men and women process #METOO type encounters; and a fabulous speaker about Brene Brown’s latest book and how to be ‘human kind’ to self and others.
Then there is the WOSOTH Book Club. We have some insightful and engaging books this year, i.e. “Educated” by Tara Westover; “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving; “Beneath a Scarlett Sky” by Mark Sullivan; “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown. Plus there are more we have found and loved so we might have to add more dates to meet!
For PYAC (Parents of Young Adult Children) we have speakers coming in for several of our gatherings to talk about resiliency, perfect parenting syndrome, and coaching mindfulness and positive psychology (known as “Happy Hour”). I will also be using information from “Happy Hour” with our two caregiver groups, Wednesday Morning bible study and other groups I interact with.
I will be hosting my annual fall luncheon for volunteers for the CARE ministry (i.e. funeral helpers, visitation and prayer team, and anyone who wants to come:). Pastor Melissa Melnick will be our speaker. This will be shortly after she returns from her end-to-end bike ride along the Mississippi River in memory of her son Chris, who had hoped to do this ride before his unexpected death. I know she will have brilliant reflections about her grief, loss and God to share with us.
We will also be learning more about, praying about and hearing more about a couple mental health challenges we have decided to feature this year. On a Sunday this fall (November) we will have a Sunday morning worship where we consider and learn about addictions. This was chosen because we just started hosting SMART Recovery. In winter we will focus on trauma as a mental health challenge. This year’s Mental Health Mondays, a once a month Monday evening speaker hosted at one of the church’s we are in Mental Health Connect with, are all focused on various types and aspects of trauma. Watch for them to advertised in the newsletter, bulletin, etc. or ask me.
Last but NOT LEAST, I will be offering a class called “Happy Hour” (referenced above). This is a week-long class / training I attended taught by St. Olaf and Carlton staff. The class material has been offered for over 6 years in Rice County (Northfield area) with statistically great results. This positive psychology program is based in science and research on the subject and is constantly being updated as new information comes forward.
WHY DO THIS?? As a culture when we noticed there was more heart disease, we did research and found our diets and lack of exercise were a large part of the cause. Then we started to learn how to change those areas of our lives in an effort to prevent cardiac disease or lessen it. We do the same thing for cancer and other big diagnostic groups that affect a large number of us. “Happy Hour” is an attempt at helping us recognize and re-wire our brain in places where negativity has taken over, where the voices in our head are giving us negative messages too often. It’s a sort of prevention for mental health challenges that can come from these negative messages. It just helps us cope better and feel better to live in a positive thinking existence. This is not a course in Pollyanna-isms or psychology fluff, it is practical, science based materials with recommended practices to try. I will be offering it over a five meeting time series.
SO you may or may not be looking forward to the change of season yet, but we have you covered as there is A LOT to look forward to here in the coming year!
Pastor Scott Searl
President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers declared on Thursday that America’s long-running war on poverty ‘is largely over and a success,’ as it made the case for imposing new work requirements on Americans who benefit from federal safety net programs.” July 12, 2018 - New York Times.
This headline caught my attention for a number of reasons. First, I’m uncomfortable talking about our love and care of those in need as a “war.” It seems an out of place violent nomenclature for acts and programs of kindness. Second, I’m certain that poverty is not over and our response to it cannot be described as a complete success. There continues to be a growing need for affordable housing. There continues to be a growing need for our food shelves. There continues to be a need to care for those who are homeless. While some version of this narrative may be spoken in support of creating work requirements for programs aimed at helping those in need, it does not reflect the reality all around us. There will always be people who need help; sometimes it’s someone else, sometimes it’s us.
I am grateful, in this moment, to serve with a family of faith whose generosity and care for those in need continues to grow. I am grateful for the support of our refugee family. I am grateful for our support of Resource West, ICA - Food Shelf, MoveForward, My Health, Mental Health Connect and the BRCC all of whom are actively seeking the welfare of those in need in our community. Thanks be to God! And thanks be to each of you who share your abundance here, in our community and across the world. Thanks for all of the gifts you share!
The headline also caught the attention of the former director of ICA, Cathy Maes who currently is the executive director of Loaves and Fishes. In her recent letter to the editor at the Star Tribune she points out that in 2013 Loaves and Fishes served a total of 341,000 meals. In 2018 they are on pace to serve over 1 million meals. People are still hungry. People still need help. It is overwhelming to imagine walking through a grocery store that anyone could be hungry in our community... but they are. As a family of faith we are a participant and supporter of the Loaves and Fishes program here in Hopkins. Thanks to the many, many people who regularly share of their time and energy to serve nutritious meals to those in our community who need them. If you are looking for a place and time to share your abundance, look for the announcements about when and how you can serve at Loaves and Fishes. You will be glad you did!
Please, keep all our elected officials in your prayers. Please keep those in our community in need in your prayers and in your financial plans as you make choices about sharing your financial resources. Know that your gifts shared do make a difference. Know that your prayers make a difference, softening your heart and opening your life up to those in need.
Emily Koski, Shepherd Song Director
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~Maya Angelou
Recently, I came to the realization that I’ve been operating in what I would call “survival mode” for a long time, like three years or maybe more. For two of those years, we literally wrote “survive” on our list of annual Koski family goals. At first, it was kind of a joke as we were figuring out how to go from a family of two adults and a sweet little one-year-old to a family of four, complete with a new baby and a, now sassy, two-year-old.
But over the past several months, I’ve noticed that my survival mindset has taken a larger hold than I’d ever intended. Certainly, we have lots of family adventures, fun and laughs, but I’ve often found myself caught in this inner monologue loop of “how will I make it through the day?” “I can’t wait to be done with this project/life stage/etc.,” or “Poor me” about this or that. Sure, sometimes it’s ok, or even necessary, to go into survival mode for a bit, but this funk has gone on long enough, and I’m ready to turn my “survive” into “thrive.”
To get started, I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject of thriving versus merely surviving and I’ve started identifying people in my life or even on TV who I see as real “thrivers.” I’m still in the early stages of really figuring out what this means for me, but here are a few commonalities I’ve noticed in my research:
Thrivers don’t complain, they embrace: Whether or not I say it out loud, it always seems like my “survival self” is complaining about something. A current example is that I hate to be hot, so you can imagine that summer isn’t my favorite season weather-wise. Usually, if the forecast says 100 degrees and humid, my default thought is “how long will this nasty weather last and how can I get through till it’s over?” But I’ve noticed that a thriver would instead say something like “Wow it’s hot! What can we do to enjoy it?” A thriver would embrace the day, regardless of the circumstances.
Thrivers serve joyfully: My “survival self” does a lot for my family - meal prep, cleaning, laundry, outings with the kids, paying the bills... - but I’m realizing now that it’s all with an air of exhaustion and even some resentment. That attitude isn't any fun, nor does having a cranky, worn down mom help us thrive as a family. To become more of a thriver, rather than keeping score or thinking about “poor me having to do all this stuff,” I’ve started refocusing my energy on serving with a joyful heart. It makes the work I do feel less like a burden and more like a gift I’m happy to give my family.
Thrivers live in the moment: I’m usually terrible at this, but I’ve had some good practice lately. Whether it’s because I’m on maternity leave so I don’t have a strict schedule to follow or because I’m too tired to worry about anything very far into the future, it feels great to enjoy the moment. Whereas my “survival self” would normally Google “how long till babies sleep through the night?” I’m just enjoying every moment I get to spend with this baby – whether she’s awake for hours or sleeping soundly. Turns out it takes a lot of (wasted) time and energy to live anxiously in the future. I hope I can build this in as a new “thriver” habit that will kick in when we’re back at work and school in the fall!
I do know that converting to this mindset will be a journey, but I’m more than ready to put survival mode behind me and embrace a future filled with “thrive.”
Brian Henning, Diaconal Intern
We are just a month away from heading back to school, beginning fall schedules, and rebooting all of our ministry programs here at Shepherd of the Hills. I am getting very excited for seeing everyone back together again on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Here is a quick preview and some important dates as we move towards beginning our academic year programs.
WAM will begin this fall on September 12 at 6:30pm. We will gather in our new WAM Room (formally known as the Youth Room). With the departure of Angie and Greta as our esteemed assistants, we will be needing lots of volunteers to help run some small group activities. If this is something you are interested in, please contact Brian.
WAM continues to get better and better as we work to build a fun and exciting space for our kids to learn about God’s love for them. This year, we will be trying a new model for education modeled similarly to our VBS week. Each Wednesday, we will gather for an opening Worship time of music and story-telling. Then, we will explore the Bible story through fun stations that will engage various styles of learning. We will also provide some occasional times for our 5th grade class to explore faith and leadership in the Church in a special small group class. This year will be filled with many opportunities for faith formation and fellowship with each other.
Kids’ Time and Preschool Connection
On Sunday mornings, we will continue to offer educational times for our kids. During Worship, our elementary aged kids are invited to join a member of the congregation in the chapel for Kids’ Time. During this time, we continue our dive into the story and into our faith life together.
Then, we continue our practice of Preschool Connection. This time is an opportunity for families with preschool aged kids to connect, share stories and insights, and learn how to grow in faith together as a family. We will meet between the worship services for 20 minutes in the Adult Forum Room. Cookies, coffee, and lemonade are strongly encouraged to be enjoyed during this time together.
Kids’ Time begins on September 9 during Worship. Preschool Connection begins September 23 between the two Worship services.
More to Come
We will have many more dates and scheduled events to come in our Fall Programming Information Packet. Be sure to keep an eye out for that. In this packet, we will have information about WAM Choir performance dates, fellowship events, and so much more.
I am so excited to see everyone together again and look forward to our time together to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with each other through our learning, fellowship, and presence with each other.
Pastor Scott Searl
What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?
What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?
It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:
I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish.
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a woman
And a boy can be someday a man.
We live in a noisy world. Mr. Rogers encouraged us to be still, quiet and reflective. We live in an angry world, where our daily trade is insults, lies and fabrications. Mr. Rogers sang to us of a different way, where reflection leads to self-discipline, which is the good-good feeling of control. We live in a hyper-competitive world, where compassion and kindness are called weak. We live in a world of hubris and heroes with super human powers who must be called on to save the day. Mr. Rogers reminded us that to be loved and to love one another was the most powerful thing anyone could do... and anyone could do it.
Personally, I would describe Mr. Rogers as one of the greatest theologians of our modern era. (He was an ordained Presbyterian Minister) Without using churchy or complicated language he translated the depth of God’s love in Jesus into everyday phrases that elementary age students could remember and understand. He walked into his TV kitchen and quietly fed his fish. When one day a fish died, with the dignity of a king’s funeral, he gently lifted the dead fish out. Speaking calmly and honestly about life and death, he wrapped the tiny fish in paper, and then buried it in his garden. The book of Genesis in its entire splendor came to life in the span of a few moments on TV. Care for the earth, care for creation, care for all life, and humanity as the steward of God’s garden.
In the Gospels the people who show Jesus the most love are those who have experienced pain, suffering, teasing, or been somehow cut off from the mainstream of life. Those with illness, mental torment, addiction, or social “diseases” that have rendered them unworthy by many are those who love Jesus with the deepest fervor. Mr. Roger’s said of those folks, “When a child comes up to me and gives me a hug, I see it is not the (long pause looking for the right word) fancy people of the world who seem to nourish my soul... and I want to learn how to be the best receiver that I can ever be, because I think graceful receiving is one of the greatest gifts we can give anybody.” Instead of believing we are “self-made” Mr. Rogers knew we are “other- made” recipients of love from God and other fellow human beings. Humility, vulnerability, being open to love and help is one of the most difficult things to trust and live. No wonder he ended every episode with “you are special, there is no one in the world like you.” I love you and so does God, just the way you are.
If you haven’t seen the recent movie, documentary about Mr. Rogers, you should go as soon as possible. I cried throughout most of the movie. Maybe there was a bit of childhood nostalgia, but mostly I cried because the world we inhabit does not reflect the love one experiences listening to Mr. Rogers. I’m sure he wasn’t perfect; he’d likely be the first to admit that. But he was certainly filled with a Holy Spirit. As a pastor, I am in awe of his ability to honestly express the depth of human experience and a depth of theology in words that are simple, clear and filled with hope. Next time you pull up your web browser, go watch an episode. You will feel revived, refreshed, loved and hopeful.
Hearing daily the loud voices of our culture and news, one thing that struck me as I watched the movie and revisited some Mr. Rogers episodes, is that living a life of love, compassion, forgiveness, gentleness and kindness is much more difficult than winning, accumulating wealth or being perceived as powerful. In this way Mr. Rogers was at the same time one of the most childlike and courageous people that I’ve ever seen.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:13