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.


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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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God is with Us – 3.24.2020

Today I took a little field trip to the Joyce Uptown Foodshelf.
Did you know that demand is up at the food shelf?  Last week on a day when typically 30 families would be served, the Joyce Uptown Food Shelf served 62 families!
Check out this video to see what was happening today at Joyce.
Please be generous in your support of organizations that are serving those in need.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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God is with Us 3.23.2020


Hello Beloved,

It’s Monday night.  By now you have survived another day of working at home.  Children have probably had some homework; books to read or maybe e-learning lessons from school. 
Some of you have worked at hospitals, clinics, grocery stores, as letter carriers or truck drivers.  I am SO thankful for your service during this Covid19 crisis.


When you were little were you afraid of the dark?  My dad has some land up north, way outside of any town.  On the nights that the skies are clear, you can see beautiful stars.  But on the nights where there is cloud cover, it is so very, very dark there.  I admit that those very dark nights can be scary because you are out in the woods and don’t know exactly what’s there.


Tonight we are going to take a walk around my yard.  Click on the link the link and let’s walk and talk.



Let’s pray,

Holy God, my day is drawing to an end, and I’m ready to turn in. But before I do, I have to thank you for your faithfulness today. It’s always a good day, even when things may not go the way I plan, or when the world seems in chaos, because you are in control.  For all the times when I was aware of your help today, all the times when your unseen presence seemed so near, thank you, God. But for all the ways you worked behind the scenes, unknown to me, moments when heaven-sent angels moved on my behalf in ways I’ll never know, thank you for those also, Lord. Amen. 


~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan



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God is with Us – 3.22.2020

Hello Friends,

Many of you are at home with small children.  You are trying to parent well, work well, stay safe and sane!  You are not alone.  We see you and we honor the important things you are doing!


Here’s a video note from Pastor Karen:  Click on the link to see this video: 

Kids and Scripture


For tonight, take delight in the faith of this preschooler who is learning to recite the 23rd Psalm.  Share it with your children and encourage them to memorize Scripture, maybe not quite as long as this Scripture.  You’ll be surprised what sticks!  I can still remember attending a neighborhood VBS when I was in elementary school.  Every day there was a new Bible verse to memorize, and today, many (many, many) years later, I can still recite those verses.  They come to my mind and my heart in times of trouble.


Here are a few you can work on with your children this week:

Philippians 4:4 — Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Psalm 150:6 — Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Ephesians 4:32 — Be kind to one another.

Psalm 56:3 — What time I am afraid, I will trust in You.

Psalm 119:105 — Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Matthew 22:39 — You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Psalm 46:10 — Be still, and know that I am God.


Hang in there parents!  You are doing great!!!

Grace and peace,


Pastor Karen Bruins


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God Is With Us 3.21.2020

Good evening! Jane Weiers here. I am the Communications Specialist & Office Manager at Lake Harriet UMC. Having a hard time in this sudden and undefined time of self quarantine? Me too. Not so much the slowing down of activity, but slowing down my mind? NOT EASY for me. I wrote this devotion years ago and I post it tonight hoping you might find its mantra helpful, too.

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that I am God.

—Psalm 46.10


I have trouble being still. Not so much my body, but my mind. My mind seems to be in overdrive all the time, engines going full-throttle, multi-tasking the details of my life: making a to-do list for work and making a to-do list for home and planning my kids day and planning my day and what are we going to have for dinner tonight and do we have enough groceries and, oh yea, I need to get gas today, and, I should really have the oil changed in my car soon, and, I’d better do laundry tonight and … Some days I can relate to Dr. Seuss’s Grinch when he complains about all the noise, noisenoisenoise! — except my noise is in my head. No one can hear it but me.


Recently, as I was feeling overwhelmed by all the details, noise and clutter in my mind, I began to hear a quiet voice, and the voice said, “Be still.” Was God talking to me? Was my subconscious talking to me? Was my self-preservation instinct talking to me? I believe the answer is yes, to all three. I believe that when you hear that quiet voice in your head, feel a “gut instinct” or listen to your heart—that is the Spirit working in you. I think God’s presence in our life is quiet, calm and still. I think some people look for God’s presence in their life through thunder-clap moments, and miss the quiet power of God’s ever-present love.


I listened to that quiet voice that day and began to use those words as a “mantra” of sorts. Now, when I start to feel overwhelmed by life, when my mind is in overdrive and those engines are on full, I close my eyes and run these words through my mind, quietly and slowly:


Be still.           Be still.           Be still.


Those words bring quiet to my mind and peace to my soul.


Simplify your life. Focus your thoughts. Find peace in the stillness.


Almighty God, you are with us always. Help me to slow down and recognize your voice in my life, quietly reminding me of your loving, guiding, calming presence. In wondrous thanks, through your Son, Jesus Christ, the light of my life. Amen.

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God is with Us 3.20.2020

Tonight’s devotion comes from Janet Bomar.  


Janet is using a book called, Prayers for Faithful Families by Traci Smith.


Peaceful Prayers – devotion by Janet Bomar

Grace and peace be with you all!  

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God is with Us 03.19.2020

Hello Friends,
Proverbs 29:18 in the King James version says, “Without vision the people perish.”  Vision is a great word.  What is our focus?  What is the thing that guides our thoughts and our decisions? 
Tonight we focus on the vision of our lives, the source of our strength.  Proverbs 29:18 in the New Living Translation says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.”
As you listen to the sing and listen to the hymn, read closely the words of the text, and the meaning of the lyrics.
Tonight’s devotion comes from Dr. Jungjoo Park, Director of Music Ministries at Lake Harriet UMC. 
Click on the link to hear the video.

Be Thou My Vision – devotion by Jungjoo Park

451. Be Thou My Vision
About the lyrics:
According to mythology, when St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century, King Logaire of Tara decreed that no one was allowed to light any fires until a pagan festival was begun by the lighting of a fire on Slane Hill. In a move of defiance against this pagan ritual, St. Patrick did light a fire, and, rather than execute him, the king was so impressed by his devotion that he let Patrick continue his missionary work. Three centuries later, a monk named Dallan Forgaill wrote the Irish poem, “Rop tú mo Baile” (“Be Thou my Vision”), to remember and honor the faith of St. Patrick. Forgaill was martyred by pirates, but his poetry lived on as a part of the Irish monastic tradition for centuries until, in the early 20th century, Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the poem into English, and in 1912, Eleanor Hull versified the text into what is now a well-loved hymn and prayer that at every moment of our lives, God would be our vision above all else.
About the tune:
SLANE is an old Irish folk tune associated with the ballad “With My Love on the Road” in Patrick W. Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909). It became a hymn tune when it was arranged by David Evans and set to the Irish hymn “Be Thou My Vision” published in the Church Hymnary (1927). SLANE is named for a hill in County Meath, Ireland, where St. Patrick’s lighting of an Easter fire–an act of defiance against the pagan king Loegaire (fifth century)–led to his unlimited freedom to preach the gospel in Ireland.
Dear God,
Be my vision.  Help me keep my eyes focused on you, especially when the world tries to distract me, or fear threatens to overwhelm me.  Be my guidance.  Be my strength.  Be my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.

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God is with Us 3.18.2020

Greetings from Pastor Karen’s back porch!
Click on this link to watch Karen’s devotional. 

3.18.2020 from Pastor Karen’s back porch

Do you know what the words above the church door say?  Write your answer in the comments.
How may I pray for you?  Let me know in the comments section (note – your prayer will be public)
Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins

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