God is with Us –

 
04.03.2020
Do you know the name Brene Brown?  
She is a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.
She writes “The bottom line: I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore . . . embrace the suck. I try to be grateful every day and my motto right now is “Courage over comfort.” 
https://brenebrown.com/about/
 
The pandemic has made us all feel vulnerable.  In the past it may have been possible to not realize our vulnerability, to not process our vulnerability.  But this pandemic, with the sometimes predictable, but also completely random pattern of making people sick and taking lives, has made us all feel vulnerable.
Rather than trying to just push through it, ignore it, or stuff it, what if we took time to actually examine and sit with our vulnerability.
 
Attached is a link to one of the most popular  Ted Talks of all time, Brene Brown’s talk on VULNERABILITY.
I hope you’ll take the time to listen to it.  I think you’ll be glad you did.
 
 
One of my prayers for our church is that we will be connected in community, willing to be vulnerable with one another, and supported in friendship and prayer as we do.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins
 

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God is with Us – 04.02.2020

Hello Friends,
It’s almost Friday and you’ve been stuck in the house all week.  If you are a parent, there probably was a temper tantrum…..and your kids may have had one too LOL!!!!
Rev. Sally Johnson is a retired Deacon in the MInnesota Annual Conference.  She is a writer and blogger.  .
Sally has written a book (available on Amazon) called:
She recently posted a piece called, “Temper Tantrum” that was so good that I asked if I could share it with you.  She agreed.
 
Temper Tantrum
Posted on March 18, 2020
I have not written in these pages for some time. There are many reasons for this on which I may elaborate at some time in the future. But over the last few days I have been drawn back to this place I named “Pause” over a decade ago. It seems these days we are living are bringing their own pause, a stopping point none of us anticipated or planned to take. A pause that is filled with a tapestry of emotion and much anxiety. A pause that has many in a heightened state of fear and feelings so raw that sometimes we hardly know what to do with ourselves. Listening to the news and the rapid fire changing landscape that swirls around us provides what we feel is the information that we need. At the same time, taking all this in can have us walking in circles trying to figure out what we should do next, worrying for our future health or that of those we love or have never met, watching well laid financial plans roller coaster up and down. It is unnerving and perplexing to feel so out of control. It is as if the very air around us is pulsing with an uncontrollable energy…an energy that threatens to overwhelm us.
During all this, for some reason, I have kept thinking of the times when our sons would be in a state of frustration or anger that led to what might be called a temper tantrum. I can honestly say this did not happen very often but when it did I always felt as if I wanted to do something…anything…that would make them stop. Their tears, their hurt, their behavior was so painful to watch. The first time it happened I remember allowing my own frustration to rise with theirs as I tried everything I could think of to stop their crying or halt their tiny fists from pounding. I learned quickly that my entering into their frustration and anger only seemed to escalate what was happening. Over time I realized that the best way to help them and to keep my own heart from breaking as I watched them work out whatever it was they needed to do was to simply sit quietly and hold space for them, making sure they were safe and knew they were loved, allowing them to take control of their own emotions, their own frustrations and come to their own peace.
These memories have brought me a certain calm over the last days. I have asked myself what good it will do if I enter into the anxiety of the moment, whipping myself into a frenzy. There are so many elements of this global crisis and I have no control over any of them. What I do have control over is my own emotion, my own reactions, and the energy I put into the world. What I can do is hold the space. I can breathe deeply and send that breath into the world. What I can do is call people and offer kindness. I can walk outside and notice the change of seasons that is arriving without knowledge of the whirlwind we are experiencing. I can listen for the geese making their homing call as they return and watch for the early push of green from the earth. I can smell the earth returning to itself.
During these times which we continue to call unprecedented, we each will find our role to play. Many people are working countless hours to mend what has been broken, to heal what needs to be healed, to right the ship of our world. For this I am thankful beyond words. Some have chosen the role of hand wringing and hoarding. Perhaps it will always be so. Others are using their gifts for caring and compassion, for offering what they can to be of help. The truth of it is that we are all in this together and at times our role may be to simply hold the space, quietly, deeply, bringing calm as best we can.
The poet Pablo Neruda says this:
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much…
…Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
 
www.sallyhowelljohnson.com

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God is with Us – 04.01.2020

Tonight’s devotion comes from Janet Bomar, Director of Children and Family Ministry.
She is reading one of my favorite books – When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner.  The illustrations, done by David Catrow are amazing.  
Click on the link below to hear and see the story. 
 

When God Made You

 
https://vimeo.com/401688886
 
Tonight Janet asks you to pray for the people of New York, as that are has been hit so hard by Covid 19.
 
Always remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the God who loves you!!!!
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
Psalm 139:14
 
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us – 03.31.2020

On Sunday, March 29th I shared this video at the beginning of the worship service.  I am sharing it here because it continues to stick with me.  
 
We talk a lot about the virus and how it is carried from person to person.  It is very contagious.
But so is hope.  
 
 
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.  Romans 12:12
 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13
 
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for God who has promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
 
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.  Psalm 33:22
 
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11
 
My friends, be carriers of HOPE!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us 03.30.2020

March 30, 2020
Blue Bike Prayers
 
I’ve been riding my bike around my neighborhood and the city.  As I have been riding, I am praying for people and things I see. 
Click on this link to see and hear my blue bike prayers.  
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins
 
 
 

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God is with Us 3.29.2020

Tonight’s devotion is a great one for families with young children, and for the child in all of us.
Listen as Janet Bomar, Director of Children and Family Ministries shares a beautiful book called, 
“What’s in Your Mind Today?” by  Louise Bladen.  
Click on the link to listen and see tonight’s story.
 
 
Grace and peace friends,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us 03.28.2020

Handbell Hero!!!
 
Tonight’s devotion is a touch of fun and goes out to the children, youth and adults who play in the Lake Harriet bell choirs.  I think Thomas Johanson and Jungjoo Park are getting you ready for the first-ever round of Handbell Hero.  
 
Who will win?  Click on the link below to see.   May you still find joy and laughter even in these difficult days! Grace and peace, Pastor Karen Bruins
 
 
 

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God is with Us 3-27-2020

Tonight’s devotion comes from Emily Thomas.  Emily is the director of the Shout Band and the By Faith Youth Band.
 

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God Is With Us 3.26.2020

I wrote this post four years ago while struggling through an unplanned unemployment (remember that when reading it!).
 
I share in hope you find meaning (and joy!) in it today.

 

Finding Joy In Music

By Jane Weiers

 

My post earlier mentioned that I am a natural “sinker.” Yesterday, in the stress, anxiety, and turmoil of unplanned unemployment, I was headed for the bottom. Again. A feeling of sinking throughout much of the day. Finding out the cost of health insurance once mine runs out January 31 certainly did nothing to buoy my mood, nor did having to ask my mother for financial assistance starting in February. So, being the stubborn person I was genetically disposed to be (have you ever met my parents?!?), today I got out of bed fighting mad. At life. At the world. At having lost my job in a financial crisis that I had nothing to do with (funny how innocent people end up being collateral damage so often in life). So, I pushed myself into the shower (basic self care is a common struggle with those in clinical depression), put on some makeup, dressed up in a skirt and even put on a necklace, and forced myself to what has become my job application site: STARBUCKS. Ordered a drink. Plugged in my computer and my earbuds, and went to listen to a piece of music by a conductor that has become a favorite of mine: Joseph Curiale. I discovered he has composed a piece titled “JOY.” JUST WHAT I NEED TODAY! Music makes such a difference in the world, and I share this piece for others to listen to. I dare you to feel like you are sinking while listening to this.
 

https://youtu.be/cvxfJ43EdNU


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God Is With Us 3.25.2020

I wrote this devotion four years ago when I was struggling through unplanned unemployment. I post it today hoping some reading it may see themselves in it and know they are not alone, and also hoping that some reading it may learn a bit about the physical human condition called “clinical depression.” There is much research going on about clinical depression and its root physical causes. Doctors and nutritionists are now focusing on the health of the gut/digestive system – the gut-brain connection – and how our modern diets, chemicals, and processed foods are affecting/increasing many diseases including clinical depression and anxiety.

 

I hope you find meaning in this writing.

 

A Sinker

By Jane Weiers

 

I am a sinker. Yes, you read that correctly, I am a sinker. I learned this while taking a swimming class my freshman year in college. As I recall the experience, while in the pool on the first day of class we were told to exhale our breath, put our heads down and see what happened. It was a test to see if we were “floaters” or “sinkers.” I headed for the bottom. A sinker. What did that mean for me as a swimmer? The instructor told us that in addition to pulling ourselves forward in a stroke, sinkers also have to work to keep ourselves afloat. Simply put, swimming is harder for a “sinker” than for a “floater.” Dang. I really like swimming.

 

This came to me in a restless night last night. I started pondering if this physical anomaly could possibly translate to other areas of my physical being. When life brings me lemons, when I exhale my breath and put my head down, what happens? My natural tendency is to sink. Into self-doubt. Into negative self-talk. Into emotional darkness. Into depression. Into CLINICAL depression. When I experienced my deepest clinical depression 25 years ago, the onset of that depression was a powerful physical sensation of falling. Yes, you read that correctly—a PHYSICAL sense of falling. My body felt out of control—on the inside. My body felt like I was falling—on the inside. And it was scary. Really scary. So scary that I eventually called a mental health hotline. I can vividly recall standing in the mudroom of our house talking to a crisis counselor. It was a Saturday. I was nine months pregnant with my first child. I was so scared. What I was feeling was SO overwhelming. The physical sensation was so strong that I wanted nothing more than to not feel that powerful inner turmoil anymore. I wanted out.

 

I am so thankful that I had already been diagnosed with clinical depression earlier in my life, so I had an educated sense of what I was experiencing—body chemicals becoming so out of balance that I needed medical/chemical/professional intervention. My body was experiencing a physical disease/imbalance, and that body, with that chemical inefficiency, needed physical help. Having already experienced both the darkness of being out of chemical balance and returning to the lightness of balance, I knew that it was not a personal “weakness,” but rather a physical anomaly of my physical body. I knew that with time and with chemical intervention, I would get out of that dark hole. Don’t get me wrong, when you are in that depth of depression every minute you are in it you can’t seem to see the forest for the trees. But, education is so important. And, once you are educated, it absolutely helps the rest of your life (isn’t that true about ALL education?!). Education is what this post is all about.

 

So, I guess I must accept the fact that I am a natural sinker. In more ways than one. Swimming takes more energy for me than others, and inner balance takes more energy and/or chemical help for me than for others. This in no way translates to me being a “Debbie Downer,” because on the “outside,” I am the person you want in a crisis, I am the consensus-builder, the one to find the positive in any situation, the one trying to keep everyone else positive (not that I am always smiling :/). If you ever wonder why I am SO FOND of positive quotes, it is very much self-help driven. In becoming professionally educated about my propensity for negative self-talk, I have learned I absolutely have control over my thoughts, if not my body chemicals. So when I find myself returning to my negative self-talk pattern, I work to break the pattern by changing my thoughts to the positive. And start re-reading books like, “Healing Is A Choice,” “Happiness Is A Choice,” and I highly recommend the book “Paths Are Made By Walking,” about how to reprogram the neuropathways in our brain (our thinking habits).
 
I find joy writing about finding joy, and write about joy as a means to an end.
 
Take that, you sinker…

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