Brief CPE Reflection

Since I promised at least a few quick updates or reflections, here is one at least. 🙂

Obviously, I am limited in terms of what I can share in terms of direct experiences, but I can say that this is a learning experience like no other, and when former CPE students say that there is nothing like it and that there is really no way to prepare — they are right! The same can be said about our experience of both Shawn and I doing this at the same time (different CPE programs – thankfully!), and yet day by day we are doing it.

I just finished my first 24 hour on call and while there are so many things I could have done differently, I did do it and did not have any real anxiety or times of panic, so that is certainly an OK thing. So much to reflect on in terms of where all of this meats my own faith and theology. Since my on-call was on Sunday I was also busy planning and leading two worship services. Going into CPE I thought that the worship services would be a major time of anxiety since planning and leading worship is not an area I feel called to, but that was not really the case. The small group led type service was an especially comfortable and fulfilling.

Surprises so far? — too many to even name briefly. On a practical level the amount of outside work, at least this first couple of weeks as I was in class a lot and starting with quite a few on-call times to (try) to prepare for this weekend was more intense than I would have imagined.

I am becoming quite protective of my “off” time and prioritizing self care and family time. I am also redefining what good self care is for myself, including care that restores my spirit. For example, I really do love listening to public radio and since I don’t have much time to do that, my time commuting alone in the car was always valued as a time to “connect with the outside world” so to speak in that way. This week I realized that was not really helping me in the way that I needed so I switched to listening to the music that connects to my soul right now (currently a few CDs by Dakota Road as well as one by Casting Crowns), and this helps. I have also been getting back to prioritizing physical movement as well as meditation … and rest.

Prayer requests — that our family can continue to navigate this summer in a way that meets the needs of our family and does not leave anyone burned out or otherwise exhausted (spiritually or physically), and that I continue to be open to the learning process this summer.

I’ll end with one verse from a Dakota Road song that I also shared with my peers this morning before leaving for my day off (and now I realize the value of two days off in a row … looking foward to next weekend when Shawn and I both have two days off in a row!!!)

Your touch is on us God of day and of night
Inspire our living to do what is right
Move in our hearts with your Spirit that we
may bring hope to places of hurt and of need

Blessings on your day.

Love and belief~


Thankful at this very moment

1 a sleep room with wifi (1st 24 hour on call)
2 that my family came to my evening worship at the hospital!
3 all the people that smiled at me today!
4 that I am somehow keeping up with assignments and essentials in spite of frequent momenys of overwhelm
5 music that restores my spirit
6 my peers here
7 yoga and walking
8 seeing my girls happy together
9 my haircut!
10 you!

Prayer requests: sustained energy and that I can be the pastoral presence needed in this place and time … For our Wartburg community during another summer of transition (I miss the community and yet still feel its presence)

Love and belief~

Thankful at this very moment

I am way overdue for posting a thankful post … if you follow me on Twitter, I hope you picked up on my bursting heart at times this week — so much gratitude at being in this place and time — gratitude and Praise to God in this life and journey we are on. Thankful to be leading a significant faithful life with others here in the Wartburg community and beyond!

So here is my top ten list this afternoon:

  1. That my ipad allows me to carry and access all four Bible translations I need for my Pauline Letters class (and many more) without actually lugging around the physical books or planning ahead for when I need them.
  2. That my husband is truly walking with me on this journey. You can read his blog here: Leaving Myself Behind
  3. For the many caring and simply brilliant professors here at Wartburg and throughout our ELCA seminaries (I had the privilege of hearing others at my Jterm event in Gettysburg)
  4. That the Dubuque YMCA is holding a daddy-daughter dance tonight, so many girls can have a “date” with a significant guy in their life! (My 6-year-old is so excited to dress up and go out with Daddy tonight … well OK, she is even more excited about her first sleep over (happening after the dance) but it’s still sweet … and I might even get a little time to hang out with some of the other moms while the dads and girls are out on the town! 🙂
  5. Our wonderful neighbors here! With both of us being students it gets a little crazy at times and it is so reassuring to know that they “have our backs” so to speak … of course learning to ask and accept is still a learning process. In case anyone wonders, we always receive more than we give even when we manage to be the ones making a meal or something for another family!
  6. That Nessa can read! Every time I see her pick up a big and get comfortable my heart sings. She still loves it when we read to her too, but hey even I enjoy being read to once in awhile! 🙂
  7. That before this crazy semester ends my teenager will confirm her faith at Good Shepherd Lutheran in La Crosse, WI! I wanted it to be Megan’s decision if she continued there after we left or went elsewhere. Now I have to admit that while an event that falls right before our finals here is not exactly convenient, I don’t care, my heart sings and I give God praise — in this all glory goes to God! (and to the wonderful pastors and staff at Good Shepherd that minister to Megan at this time!)
  8. My classmates — from deep theological discussions to crying on your shoulders, I can’t imagine a better group to be here with!
  9. That I am slowly figuring out what foods are triggering my chronic pain auto-immune response and how to best deal with it…having more good days than challenging days is such a gift!
  10. Our families! From a place to call home away from home when we are back in the La Crosse area to care packages that truly help us make it through to the end of the month, our families rock!

What blessings found you today? What are you thankful for?

And, as always, how can I pray for you today?

Love and belief~

Thankful at this very moment!

Ten first things that come to my mind this evening:

1. My wonderful husband that is always there for me in so many ways
2. That Shawn (that wonderful husband) is making supper tonight so I can study
3. That Nessa is behind me reading a book she just snatched off the bookshelf (secret to her reading most of the time I think is a house filled with books lining walls on all levels of our home!)
4. The wonderful community here at Wartburg — classmates, neighbors and more!
5. That I still remember a bit of my HTML editing skills so I can put it to work on a project here (more on that soon)
6. That we are not competitive as classmates but rather support and lift each other up as much as possible (although it’s still really really hard sometimes when I fall behind to realize that this is normal here considering the workload and everything else we are called to do)
7. Nessa making me laugh as she pretends she is a kitty 🙂
8. The mild fall weather we have been having!
9. That Nessa is also thankful for family, friends, food, and a home!
10. For being in this place at this time (even when it is really really hard and overwhelming, which it has been many times, there is still no place I would rather be)

What are you thankful for?

Now, for a prayer request — that my health, and related to that, my energy levels will sustain me at the level needed to accomplish my study goals through the end of the semester.

What are your prayer requests?

Thankful for at this moment

1. The wonderful conversations with my small group this afternoon for Religion, Anthropology and the Human World. (This is the first time the small groups have met instead of having lecture from 1:30 to 4:30 on Mondays … I was not looking forward to it … love having expectations turned on their head! Engaging discussions and totally energizing!)

2. Gorgeous weather!!!! Could early Oct. get any more beautiful and sunny? I need to go soak some more of it up as soon as I publish this!

3. Nessa is off to her first “Acting Class” this evening (what she calls it … 1st grade level class at the local Bell Tower Theatre … I hope her expectations are exceeded and not the other way around)

4. That our daughter is confident enough in her own choices that she thought it was the coolest thing in the world to where pajamas under a sun dress to school this morning — well, really the insists the pajamas are really “an outfit” and will likely never wear them as pajamas but still I love when she picks out her clothes simply because she likes them for whatever reason and I pray she does’t ever lose that! (and better yet both the pajamas and the sun dress are “new” from the Clothing Swap held here on campus last Friday.)

5. That my CPE application was finally turned in complete (little printing glitch first thing this morning so I had the opportunity to enjoy the sun on a quick walk home after chapel to get the correct file and spend lunch printing and making a nice PDF of the 3 different files) … for some reason the extra little challenge did nothing but energize me as well today … reminds me of he nice adrenaline rush I would get writing on deadline in the past.

6. That all three of us get to go back to spend a couple of days at the farm (and a bit of time with Megan!) at the end of the week — Nessa is off of school Friday so we will all leave Thursday afternoon and likely be back in Dubuque Sat. evening. It will be nice to be all together as a family again, even if just briefly.

7. Reading days are getting closer!!! (Next week there are no classes on Monday and Tuesday as they are designated reading days — woo hoo a couple of days to come close to catching up!)

8. The blessings of community — wonderful classmates and wonderful neighbors!

9. That Shawn is the one that took Nessa to her class so I can have some alone time to process (and make dinner) … well that isn’t the reason he volunteered (I don’t think) but that is the result, and I am thankful!

10. And this just in — Megan just reported another personal best for running times in Cross Country (this time in a one mile time trial I believe) — so thankful Megan is discovering a sport she can enjoy and thankful that we can share this sport in a way even if when we next run together she will leave me in the dust!

What are you thankful for at this moment?

How can I pray for you?

How can I pray for you?

A simple question. A powerful question.

In fact, I think it’s the most powerful question I have found lately.

I first noticed how powerful this question was when I became involved in small fellowship groups at my church. Then my husband and I used this as part of our daily check-in with each other, and then I started asking my daughters this questions more often (it has been especially helpful with our 6-year-old). Currently it is one of two questions on the white board in our kitchen and our daughter will sometimes answer before we get a chance to personally ask her (I love that). And then I started using it in other relationships … and in my social media world.

I always feel honored to pray for each and every request I get. The request bonds us in a way that many other conversations cannot.

I plan to continue to write about this on a regular basis as I grow in my own faith journey and as I continue to accompany others.

And, I will continue to ask — here and elsewhere —

How can I pray for you?*

Love and belief,

*and, seriously, I read each comment I get, so let me know!

Thankful at this very moment

OK with no pondering ahead of time, here is my list of 10 at this moment:

1. Nessa gets to start taking hot lunch at school tomorrow!!!!
2. Federal Govt. (Yep, you read that right) for making it clear that Gluten Free lunches for Celiacs is important
3. Nessa’s school (Bryant) and the staff that cared enough to make this happen
4. Facebook so I can network, share and publicly give thanks!
5. Amazing classes here at Wartburg Seminary
6. That I get to see Megan tomorrow!!!!
7. That I get to see my Acupuncturist tomorrow!
8. Venison steaks from a friend in the crock post (along with lots of veggies)
9. For the amazing people that smile at me everywhere I go around here!
10. For Wartburg’s after-school room that opens in about one minute … Nessa LOVES being there and I love another 2 hours to focus on reading (because I have quite a bit to do before tomorrow … and a LOT to do in the next few weeks!)

If you are still reading, what are you giving thanks for today?

Thanks be to God!

Love and belief,

Wartburg Seminary Opening Worship

On Monday September 5, 2011, Wartburg Theological Seminary began their 158th year with opening worship.

You can access a podcast and listen to President Stan Olson’s sermon from the Wartburg website:

It was a very moving service, with all of the Wartburg community and families in attendance. Before entering the sanctuary we all met outside and gathered by class (and guests), and each class of students and group present was prayed for. All of the new students entering Wartburg this year also had their names read off individually. As we entered the chapel we were sprinkled with water as a reminder of our baptism.

It was very moving to be a part of this service, and now that several days have passed I am thankful that this busy stressful week started with prayer and worship. I am thankful to be a part of this community!

Hear our prayer

“Hear our prayer, hear our prayer, Lord, make us whole:
peace to all people, hope for each soul.
God of grace, in this place, hear now our prayer.”

This is the prayer refrain we sang in church yesterday. It is my favorite prayer refrain. As I sing it I feel our spoken and unspoken prayers joining prayers throughout eternity. I also hear the plea for wholeness and peace of all of humanity, and then am reassured by God’s grace — always, forever; here, now, in this place.

Too busy not to pray!*

“I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
— Martin Luther

I have been fond of this Luther quote since I first discovered it while in confirmation class when I was 11. Since then I have often used it when expressing how busy I think I am or how long my to-do list is (too long to-do lists are a constant challenge for me) by saying something like, “I have so much to do; I better spend 3 hours in prayer first!” But I never did. It sounded good though.

And then I did. And it changed everything.

I continue to struggle for balance each day, and with each season and life transition the struggles to balance my time, and more importantly, center my life, continue. I have learned that it doesn’t take three hours though. Instead after a time possibly as brief as three minutes my an entire attitude can change, and the entire day becomes a living prayer.

The list of chores, the work assignments, and everything else I want to accomplish is still important, but not AS important. The prayer changes the weight of the workload because the prayer changes me.

How has/does prayer change you?

What is one of your favorite quotes on prayer? What about a quote that makes you smile when you have a lot to do?

Love and belief,

*and some of you may realize I stole this title from a great book on the topic. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out at:
Too Busy Not to Pray