St Andrew Blog

Letters from the Intern

Decluttering...

let go and let god widow of zarephathIt's 2019!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their New Year.

I want to know; how do you feel about New Year’s Resolutions? Do you find them helpful? Or do you think they aren’t worth your time?

No matter if you’re writing down ten to twenty resolutions, or just continuing to go about daily life, God is working in us to be the best versions of ourselves. I find that the New Year provides a chance for us to focus on how God “renews.”

In Isaiah 43:18-19 it says,

“Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”

I was conflicted with this passage upon reading it. I have learned that the only way to not repeat the past is to learn from it. To learn from it, we need to remember it. Yet, this passage tells us otherwise. “Do not remember the former things… I am about to do a new thing…”

This week, I started a seven-day exercise to “declutter.” I know, an awful word. Doesn’t it make you stressed to hear it? I don’t want to have to go through my things. I have too much stuff! Nevertheless, I am trying to challenge myself to get rid of things I no longer need, especially clothes.

In this exercise, when entering each area of our house to declutter, you are supposed to hold up each item and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Is it beautiful? AKA- Would you buy it today?
  2. Is it useful? AKA- does it get used regularly?
  3. Is it sentimental? AKA- does it help tell your story?

So today, I entered my closet and began. As I was holding up each item of clothing, I started an inner dialogue that was surrounded in shame.

“Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I even buy this? I waste so much money on things that I shouldn’t…”

Then I thought of Isaiah 43, “Do not remember the former things… I am about to do a new thing…” and my inner dialogue stopped.

I realized that my thoughts were not beautiful, not useful, or sentimental. They were full of guilt. My mind was “considering the things of old” instead of the renewal that comes with letting go.

Along with our closets, our minds could use a good decluttering. How often do we fill ourselves with negative thoughts? Or fill up with media, gossip, and distractions from the world around us? What would it look like to declutter ourselves?

It’s not about the pants. I should never have bought them, so they are in the donate pile. It’s about admitting that to myself and letting go. We are going to make mistakes, like buying the pair of pants that we never wear. And God’s grace is greater than our impulse purchases. God renews us each day so that we can learn. Yet, if we hold onto the shame and guilt of our mistakes, they cloud our ability to see God’s grace working in our lives.

If you look at the picture associated with today’s blog, you’ll see the letters spelling out “Let Go” in bold. But at the end, there is a faint “D.” This depicts the phrase, “Let go, let God.” Just like it says in Isaiah, we must let go; let go of our sins, our mistakes, our guilt, and our shame. For God is doing new and wonderful things within us; decluttering.

I hope no matter if you write down your resolutions or not, together we can remember to let go and let God.

Let us pray,

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Amen.             

(Psalm 51:10-12)

 

Email Kate

Letters from the Intern

Finding the Words

hands pray crop21

Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas?? We are only 13 days away! It’s crazy how easy it is to lose ourselves among the hustle and bustle of the Holiday season. One thing that I have been trying to do is spend less time worrying, and more time in prayer.

Individual prayer is such an integral part of our spiritual lives because it allows us to have a vulnerable conversation with God. It’s a time where we can say what we need to; asking for anything and thanking God for all that we have. Jeremiah 29:12-13 says, “Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.”

How comforting and beautiful is it to know that God hears our prayers? Every. Single. One. God is listening to our cheers of joy and our cries of lament. While the truth that God is listening is reassuring, has anyone else tried to pray and just couldn’t figure out what to say?

I just read the book, Help, Thanks, Wow, by Anne Lamott. In the book, she says, “Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we’re invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence… It is us reaching out to be heard, hoping to be found by light and warmth in the world, instead of darkness and cold.” Anne explains that when you “tell the truth,” you are close to God, inviting us to pray exactly the words on our hearts.

The words within us do not need to be profoundly poetic, or even complete sentences. They can be as simple as, “God, thank you for creating flowers. They bring me joy,” or, “Please help me be more patient,” or maybe it’s a deep sigh that is followed by a few tears. Anything you pray is a prayer and God is listening.

Along with God hearing the words of our prayers, God also hears our prayers every way we pray them. Do you journal your prayers? Read from a prayer book? Take time for silent, prayerful meditation? Set an alarm during the day to take a second to talk to God? We are met in these precious moments of prayer and held in the arms of the one who has created us.

Let us pray together:

Holy Listener,

Thank You for you for your unending grace. Help us move beyond the hurdles that lie before us and give us the strength and wisdom to see the hope we have in Christ.

Amen.

Email Kate

Letters from the Intern

Gratitude and Joy

ThanksgivingDinner Nov2016

Thanksgiving is upon us!

The business of the holiday season has started! This time of year, I am filled with so much... stress. I want everything to be perfect. The carmelized onions atop the green bean casserole have to be evenly placed and a cinnamon candle is burning to make my house smell less like my dog. My mom instilled this "need to clean" in me. When I was little, the cleaning involved us taking everything that we played with and/or that needed to get out of the way, up to our rooms so no one would see it. Maybe some of you have the same practice? We would do this faithfully year after year. Then it dawned on me; all of the people coming were our friends and family.  Which meant that all of the people that came to our house for Thanksgiving saw it every other time of the year when it was less than clean. They knew the shoes that would pile up by the front door, they knew the toys we kept in the living room, and they knew that our dog came in with muddy paws and left a trail throughout the house. These people love us at our best and worst, so why were we trying to impress them?

Now, there is something to be said about feeling the joy of a clean and tidy house. Maybe you love mopping the flours and your house smelling like Pinesol. But there's a difference between the joy of a clean house and the worry of what others are going to think of you. 

Philippians 4:4-6 says, "Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. 

With thankful hearts offer your prayers and requests to God... So instead of stressing, lift your worries to God. Instead of worrying, pray and be glad. This is easier to say than to put into practice. So, I have a mindfulness activity for us. 

Let us sit, in a quiet place, or for those who it is hard to find that, play music. Stop thinking about your to-do list for a minute. Sixty seconds of reflecting on the question, "What am I joyful about today?" Maybe your kid's laugh makes you laugh, or maybe your boss told you that you're doing a good job. Maybe you were able to get a passing grade on a difficult test you were taking, or maybe it's as simple as you woke up with another chance to have a good day. What are you joyful about? Take a couple of deep breaths. 

It is often difficult to focus on joy. We are surrounded by negatives and the ways of the world are unfair and unkind to many people. So we do what we can to help and to serve. Nevertheless, if we are empty, we can't help fill others. Or if we are filled with stress and displeasure, how can we bring joy to others? So today, let's try to think about joy. Tomorrow, let's try. The next day let's try. We won't be able to do it all the time and that's okay. We can always try again and God will be there. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with gratitude and joy.

Blessings and Peace,

Intern Pastor Kate

Email Kate

Letters from the Intern

What's an Intern?

14095921 1115761288515205 513390956155801341 nHello!

I started at St. Andrew almost three months ago. It’s CRAZY to think it’s already been that long. Time has been flying by. I am so thankful to be part of this incredible community where the Holy Spirit is at work. Pastor Lisa and I have been brain-storming how I can share with everyone what I am working and reflecting on. So, this is the start of “Letters from the Intern!” I’m excited to connect with you this way and I hope you enjoy reading them.

Many of you have been asking, “What is an intern?” or “What do you do as an intern?” To hopefully answer these questions, I am a third-year student at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH. I will be receiving a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree so that I can become a pastor in the ELCA. This degree takes four years to finish. At Trinity, our program is set up so that we have two years of on-campus class work, and then have two years of internship to complete. During these two years, my classmates and I are required to take a combination of classes either online, or what they call “intensive courses,” which are classes that we prepare for before and then travel to meet in person for a week of classroom work.

Along with Pastor Lisa as my supervisor, there is an “Intern Committee” at St. Andrew to help support me throughout this learning process. On this committee are Charlie Hall, Gail McCarthy, Mary Raymond, Bob Booth, Michele Hooper, and Cherie Harland. I am very grateful for their support and feedback!

Pastor Lisa and the Intern Committee have helped me define my learning goals as I participate at St. Andrew. I wanted to share a couple of these goals with you:

  1. Preaching

This is something that I am constantly working on. I am reading books, exploring different writing practices, and taking time to read and reflect on the scripture.

  1. Teaching

Teaching is something I am passionate about. I love being part of Family Time and Wednesday morning Bible study because they are communities where we get to learn from each other.

  1. Pastoral Care

I have been so blessed to accompany Pastor Jim visiting with some wonderful people and will continue to go with him and learn from him.

  1. Social Ministry

My focus for this goal is to engage sensitive issues of need and justice in the community. It’s important for the church to be a place where we can come and know we are loved, but also a place where we talk about what’s going on in the Kingdom of God. As Micah 6:8 says, “Seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”

To sum it all up, an intern is a student learning the ins and outs of ministry leadership. I will graduate in May of 2020. This means I have about 18 months left at St. Andrew. I am excited for the opportunities our time together will bring for us to grow and learn. Like these first three months, the next 18 will pass in the blink of an eye. So let’s get together and grab some coffee, tea, or hot chocolate because I want to get to know you and hear your story. As it says in Proverbs 18:15, “Wise people are always learning, always listening for fresh insights,” and I look forward to learning from all of you.

Blessings and Peace,

Intern Pastor Kate

Email Kate