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Showing posts from 2012

Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being Book Review

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I had the privilege of reading Zach Eswine's book, Sensing Jesus, through Net Galley, this winter. What a privilege it was.

Not only does Eswine help you understand the emotions behind what it means to be a ministry leader and a follower of Jesus, but he builds a solid foundational base on scripture by which to stand as one. The author talks you through all the feelings of being broken and beaten-down in ministry and reminds you that Jesus is where you hope lies.

I felt like, as I got further and further into the book, that I was getting to know Zach as a friend and brother in Christ. His writing style is personal, poetic, and reads much like a memoir (my favorite genre of books).
I truly felt that not only was I not alone in experiencing what I had in ministry (the ups and downs) but also felt as if I had a true friend in the author. A book that gives me a sense of who the author truly is, rather than how they want me to see them, is the best kind of book. His authenticity and t…

Values vs. Inanimate Objects: How We Shouldn't View the Newtown Tragedy

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Do we really need one more voice out there about this?
Probably not, but I’m going to say it anyway. Because one thing I will not stand for is when the people of America make a three-dimensional issue a one-dimension issue.
This is not about guns... primarily.

This is not about values... primarily.

You cannot say today’s culture is void of values and that’s why a massacre happened. People were killing each other long before the culture was where it's at now.
You cannot blame the use of guns on it either. Adam Lanza didn’t have a gun. He stole the guns he used in this massacre. A criminal will find a way. I don’t believe we should make it easier, but by remove the right to bear arms from our constitution is a one-dimensional way of solving the problem.We have to take a long and serious look at our gun control laws. We have to. But that's not the end of the story.
Because if we were to take away the right to bear arms in this country, it would not change the human heart.   This…

From Grief to Blame

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It’s hard not to seek answers during a time like this in our country. It’s hard not to keep your eyes glued to the TV as the news coverage uncovers all the details of a national tragedy.

It’s also hard to simply let yourself heal.

My therapist in seminary told me I move on too fast. I hadn’t thought about that before, but I realized she was true, especially once I had the experience of grieving through a loss before then seeking answers. I thought seeking answers would help me heal.

It didn’t.

Moving on is the natural instinct in a situation like this, because we just want to the pain to be over. But by not feeling the pain, we are stunting our emotional health and most importantly, our hearts become hard.

The news is making me very angry tonight. Investigative reporters are pushing, pushing, pushing to blame, blame, blame. Blaming the mother, blaming the school’s lack of security. They are even analyzing the statements made by parents of those who lost children and asking physiolo…

Six Songs of Me

Guardian Music is doing a fun prohject? Heard of it? It's called :Six Songs of Me" http://www.sixsongsof.me/Playlist/SixSongs/stephanie.nelson,19089,19013
1. What was the first song you ever bought? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it may have the Pet Shop Boy's song "West End Girls". Probably only cassette single, for .99. 
2. What song always gets you dancing? "What Would You Say" by Dave Matthews. This was the first song I ever heard by them, before they got really big. I have memories of chancing to it in line in the cafeteria in college. Always gets me grooving. At the time, there was no sound like it.
3. What song takes you back to your childhood? "Mony, Mony" by Billy Idol. This song has a particularly funny memory for me. My brother had made it to State Track, so my mom, my best friend from elementary school and her mom all drove down to see him compete. On the way to Lincoln, this song came on the radio and Diann, my best friend’s mom…

in which i crawl in and out of myself.

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Sometimes being an introvert is a pain.

During May and June (as I have many, many times before) I crawled into myself and stayed there. I was a functioning introvert. I still went to work and small group and church and a few social things. I still taught a class on Galatians, lead a book club discussion, lead a 9-week study in my small group, counseled several hurting people and even did a few social things here and there. I was upright and talking (maybe with my eyes glazed over a bit) with a coffee cup in my hand and an ache in my heart. But – I remained inside of myself.

I closed off that ache to the rest of the world. I remained a servant letting no one serve me. I didn’t tell anyone what I was going through, partially because I didn’t fully understand it myself. See, us introverts have to process it all inside our brains and our hearts first before we can even begin to think about sharing it with someone. Then comes the arduous process of figuring out who to share it. Will it be…

stories, glitter and plumbing

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This is my absolutely favorite children's bible. I hadn't read any sort of children's bible since I was a child myself and when I was looking for something different to use in Children’s Church, I knew The Jesus Storybook Bible would be the way to go. It was highly endorsed at seminary, and several friends of mine use it in Children's Ministry at their church. Sally Lloyd-Jones tells the story of God rescuing us over and over throughout this bible in a beautiful and thoughtful way.

 I've never liked kids. I've never wanted to have them, never wanted to work with them. I only do so now because it's a small percentage of my job, and thankfully God has made me not hate them in the process. Today I talked to the kids in Children’s Church about how our sin separates us from God. We read the story of Jonah running away from God and how that's just like when we sin - we get further and further away from him. These kids just love this book. They love the pict…

in which a monsoon causes waters to flow

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I spent most of the morning on my back patio, watching the rain fall down over the dry desert land, talking on the phone with my loved ones far away and re-reading Blue Like Jazz.

It's 75 degrees outside right now. And it's July. In ARIZONA. Never, ever happens.

Monsoon season is strange to this Midwestern girl. I'm used to storms, most certainly, but these are very different. There is usually a great deal of lightening and very little thunder. Most of the time it’s just small and big haboobs, caused my lungs to fill with dust and sneezes for days after. Never have I experienced a monsoon day that is cool like this one. I know this is God’s gracious care for me filling my heart. My heart that was desperate for a filling up. The air smelled like I was back in Nebraska this morning and nothing has ever felt so sweet.

 It not much… just a little rain. For right now I’ll take it. Because rain has come to symbolize something for me since I moved to the desert. It’s come to symb…

finding waters in Embrace Me, puzzles and coffee

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Friday was a pretty awful day, with a garbage disposal failure (plumber can't come until NEXT THURSDAY and I will be out of town) and the discovery of a major leak in my drip system. After the week I had, it just made sense this will all happen to me yesterday.

Tuesday I had the women's book club to set up and run. I was up all night Monday worrying about it, as it was the first time I'd done this kind of thing and it was very new for this church and this culture. I was getting asked on Monday, "Where do we get the book" "Do we come with it read?" After I'd been advertising for two months. Ugh. People are frustrating. 

Tuesday went fine but was very stressful. Wednesday was another stressful day with two unexpected meetings eating up my morning and Wednesday night's class not quite prepped yet. By the end of class that night I was done for, so when two young women in the class asked to be let back into the church while I had an armful of class mat…

dry bones

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This last week was a very frustrating and difficult time for me. There was a big event going on at church. It was not one I was in charge of, but one in which I was more of over-seer and a support of a volunteer who was in charge. It was a week full of complaining (you get that a lot when you're on the staff of a church) quite a few truths stretched and spome back-biting and gossip I just don’t appreciate. All in all, I'm really glad the week is over. So as I sat down to write the next post in the waters project, I found myself... dry.
I had a week full of so many "to-do" lists and so much chaos that I barely had time to breathe and be refreshed.

I worry that one day I will forget how. Forget to breathe. Forget to slow down. Just... forget.

So what I am to do? I t am I to do about a week that I know God caused waters to flow, but I neither had the presence of mind nor the heart to see it?

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LOR…

in which a "kid" takes care of me

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Thomas is the first person I've ever hired. I didn't do it by myself - I put together a committee of four people to help write the job description, go through resume submissions and then ultimately interviews and the hiring. We could only afford to hire a part-time youth director, so we knew it would be tough to find the right person. Thomas was that person.

As I was on my way to Starbucks Saturday morning (I managed to wake up with sun at 5:30 on my “day off” – though I spent most of the day working on VBS) and I hit the stop light just outside my subdivision and there he was to my right in his little red car… heading the same direction as me. Thomas has always been an early riser, so I wasn’t too surprised to see him out and about. He waved at me, and when we stopped at the next stop light together, he laughed and smirked, undoubtedly hearing my Mumford and Sons music blaring. Early in the morning in Arizona, you relish having your windows down because of the cool weather.

Tho…

Me and my dad...

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in which i fall in love with jr. high kids

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Some days I feel like I have my hand in just about every area of the church (which I guess is bound to happen in a church our size - 500 - when you and the senior pastor are the only full-time ministry staff) Last night I did one of the staples since I took this job – family movie night.


Last week I had a helper in children's church who was telling me about how she was about to start meeting with the Jr. High girls part of the Seeds of Hope ministry - a ministry in town that seeks to provide opportunities and help to those in poverty and/or challenging home situations. She asked if one of the mission projects she could do with the girls was come and help with movie nights this summer. I love the Seeds of Hope ministry, and I love Debbie, so my answer was an immediate yes. 
So last night Debbie and the girls arrived about an hour before the movie to help me set up the room, pop popcorn and get the sodas ready for the concession stand. I already knew 3 or the 4 girls she brought, whic…

"he caused waters to flow" - a project

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When I lived in St. Louis, I grew very tired of the rain. The humidity I could deal with, (sort of) having grown up in the mid-west. It's never pleasant, but it is simply part of living there. But the rain in St. Louis? But the time I graduated I was over it.

God has a great sense of humor; because of course after that experience with the rain he put me in the desert. It's been here that I've realized just how much I am emotionally affected by the physically environment around me. Some of what I’m experiencing right now – inside – I’m sure is due to my season of life and the calling I’ve received in my vocation. As these two aspects of my life collide, I find myself in fear of remaining “in the desert” so to speak – in a place of dry bones, of a dry heart and a dry soul.

So I am beginning a new writing project that I hope will inspire me and turn me from the desert growing inside my restless soul. I’m calling it the “he caused waters to flow” project. While it doesn’t exa…

Processing the Gospel

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My small group just began the 9-week study "The Gospel-Centered Life" by World Harvest Mission. I've gone through the 36 week version of this study (Gospel Transformation) twice, once as a learner and once as the teacher. I've also taught another small version of it called "Living in Light of the Gospel Story." These are some of my favorite studies, as well as some of the best reformed explanations of the gospel I’ve ever encountered without ignoring one great aspect of the person: the heart. All too often, reformed theology shoots for the head and forgets that we are holistic people. These studies balance both in a great way.

 There were some tears during the first lesson, as one group member was recounting a painful experience she had in the church many years ago that has since stunted her growth in the Lord. When I asked her if she’s had the chance to really grieve it, she said she said. She said many many tears were shed over the experience.

I’m not a …

Chaos and My Teachable Moment

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... And Ashton's meltdown began.
We were frosting cookies for the nightshift at the police station tonight. We were doing this as a thank you for all their amazing work keeping us safe.(Which means a lot in our town.)  Ashton had used his knife once as a sword. I gave him a warning "It will be taken away if you use it as a sword again." 5 seconds later out came to sword and I became the bad guy.
Working with kids was never something I’ve been drawn toward. I had some horrible babysitting experiences as a kid that traumatized me. Kids were always the aliens I never wanted to deal with after that. But this job has thrust me into that arena, as I’m over all the education of the church from nursery to adults. More than once I’ve doubted my skill, but I never doubt what God is doing. I try my best to just step back and let he Holy Spirit do his thing, because the good Lord knows I don’t have a clue what to do with kids.
But tonight have a 7-yr. old boy’s snot on my shirt and I …