Life

Nurture your spirit with these stories and reflections that explore the human experience.

Sticky stories

Sticky stories

by Elizabeth Hunter— I used to write my favorite funny or encouraging quotes on sticky notes. I’d clip cartoons and inspiring images from newspapers and magazines. Magnets, tape and pins were corralled in a drawer so that I could daily see—and share—food for thought...

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“This was not on my list.”

“This was not on my list.”

by Susan Sparks— Growing up in the south, I learned many important lessons: The word “hey” has a minimum of 19 syllables. Okra can be a side dish, an entree or a dessert. And you must always, always write a thank-you note. No matter what the gift. My first year out of...

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Our vocation: It’s about learning to sing

Our vocation: It’s about learning to sing

by Mihee Kim-Kort— When my kids were a little younger they said all kinds of things in response to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Today my sons will still say things like play for the Steelers or the Golden State Warriors or be an engineer....

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Advent ache

Advent ache

by Julia Seymour— Christmas—the stretch of holy days, not the holiday—is the shortest church season we have. The twelve days of Christmas make for a season shorter than even the briefest time after Epiphany, no matter how early Lent begins. Lent itself is 40 days. The...

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For all the saints

For all the saints

by Lisa A. Smith— "Mommy, why did God make it so we die?" my 5-year-oldson suddenly asked. We were sitting together on the sofa. The question pierced me. I reached over to hold him before responding. He has been asking a lot of questions about death lately. It can be...

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Expand the table

Expand the table

by Linda Post Bushkofsky— Women of the ELCA leaders were thinking about new models for ministry—models that could best serve the mission and purpose of Women of the ELCA in a changing world. Based on recommendations from an exploratory committee, the churchwide...

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The grief puzzle

The grief puzzle

by Ron McCallum— For a year now, I’ve been thinking about grief. Not just my own grief, but collective grief from the pandemic, societal grief over unjust systems, and the grief of my relatives and friends. Grief is difficult. For my daughter-in-law, it came with the...

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The Holy Spirit travels light

The Holy Spirit travels light

by Jennifer M. Ginn— I expect the luggage pickup and car rental at O’Hare Airport to be just as I remember it from long ago. I plan to retrieve my suitcase from the luggage carousel, take the elevator down to the rental car counter and pick up my car. Not anymore!...

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Abide with me, alight on me

Abide with me, alight on me

by Catherine Malotky— God, it has been a very, very long couple of years. We have labored at life through contentious political conflict, a life-threatening pandemic, the trauma of watching George Floyd and many others extinguished before our eyes, and continuing...

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Body, mind and spirit: Parish nurses provide care

Body, mind and spirit: Parish nurses provide care

by Anne E. Basye Deliver a baby in the middle of a winter night? No problem for Brenda Bauer. The only RN within 20 miles of Grenora, North Dakota, the deaconess-nurse was caring for the community from St. Olaf Lutheran Church, part of the three-point Grenora Lutheran...

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The fabric of the Holy Spirit

The fabric of the Holy Spirit

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott— Every year as Pentecost approaches, I see memes and essays about the nature of the Holy Spirit, about how we should be careful about inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives because we never know what we’re about to unleash. Some essay writers...

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Doing dishes differently

Doing dishes differently

by Jennifer Ginn— During a visit to a parishioner in a rehabilitation facility, I heard someone say: “That dishwasher was 50 years old when it died!” That comment was followed by others’ differing takes on the pleasures of having an automatic dishwasher. One person...

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Dear God, thank you for… Look! A bird!

Dear God, thank you for… Look! A bird!

by Anna Madsen— I am the world's lousiest pray-er. Never been good at it. I’ve gone to workshops, consulted with spiritual directors and even tried praying about it. Didn’t work. Partly, it’s because I get lost in thought during the actual prayer. Sometimes I go into...

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Change is the breath of life

Change is the breath of life

by Elizabeth Hunter— Lately I've been thinking about an old Irish proverb: Change is the breath of life. I remember learning in grade school how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly or moth. After hatching from a butterfly egg, the caterpillar eats and eats,...

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On the knees, off the chest

On the knees, off the chest

by Heidi Haverkamp— I know a lot of church geeks who like this catchy Latin phrase: Lex orendi, lex credendi. In English, it’s less catchy: “What we pray is what we believe.” In other words, the way we pray (or worship) can speak more loudly about what we believe than...

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Let it bee!

Let it bee!

by Venice Williams— "I really hope you shook out your hair before coming to the dinner table! Mom, you be bringing a whole ecosystem home in your locs,” one of my children would say. “We have to watch creatures emerge from your hair while we are trying to eat!”...

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Why do we need leader guides?

Why do we need leader guides?

by Elizabeth Hunter— I am the one who reads the instructions at my house. You know the saying, “Measure twice, cut once”? As a teenager, I learned from both plywood and fabric what happens when one takes up saw or scissors without measuring carefully enough. When I...

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