What, Me Worry? – Vision Board Devotion by Wade Anderson

I remember it well. Thorson Hall 118, my sophomore dorm room. It was a Friday night in December, right before finals. I sat in my desk chair while the song “Something’s Always Wrong” by Toad The Wet Sprocket came on the radio, and I started to cry. There was no single horrible thing happening at that time in my life; instead, a handful of smaller things were all going badly, scaring me, making me sad, and making me feel like there was no hope for things to get better. After a bit, my roommate walked in. While not generally the type to embrace other men, he gave me a long hug before walking back out, and I have no doubt that he personified God’s grace at that moment.

Clearly, I made it through that. Twenty-one (yeesh) years later, I’ve got an amazing life: a wonderful wife, three spectacular kids, an engaging and well-paying job, a nice house in a beautiful neighborhood… and yet, sometimes I still get overwhelmed like I did back in my dorm room. There’s so much to be sad about, to be scared of, that I can become immobilized just thinking about it all.

Then, more often than not, I’m reminded about God’s grace in my life. I’m comforted that, while times may be hard now, I’ve got Jesus on my side. We all do. And while we struggle here on Earth—let’s face it, something will always be wrong—we can seek solace in knowing that Jesus faced our same trials, and is working to help us feel better.

What do you do when you find yourself in times of trouble? How do you see God working through you at these times?

The story of Jesus’ capture and crucifixion has always amazed me, and for reasons beyond the obvious.

It amazes me that, even though he knows what’s going to happen, Jesus doesn’t panic. He doesn’t try to escape. On the contrary, he willingly shows his face to the soldiers and Pharisees who come to arrest him. He also doesn’t take Pilate up on his offer to talk Himself out of being crucified. I, for one, would not have had that strength. What Would Wade Do? I would have darted out of there as quickly as possible, a la the troubled investment banker in Sunday’s sermon.

Jesus knew His role, the part that He needed to play, and He accepted it. Because of this, none of us need to fear death as He feared. Because of God’s sacrifice of His son, the troubles of our earthly life are merely a temporary distraction. Our real reward is waiting for us in heaven.

Sacrificing myself for others has always been difficult for me to conceptualize. Now, after having children, the notion of sacrificing one of them is beyond my ability to comprehend. Realizing God did that—for me—speaks to me in a way that I cannot describe, and it keeps me both grateful and humble.

Dear God: help us and comfort us when we are overwhelmed and scared. Remind us that Jesus and the Holy Spirit surround us, embrace us, and can ease our concern. We thank you for sacrificing your Son so that we no longer need to be afraid. We thank you for all of the wonderful things in our lives. Amen.

God’s love in the eyes of a child

My (almost) three-year-old daughter, Clara, recently asked my husband if she could go up to her room so that she could pray.  He then tried to explain to her how God’s is everywhere, and so she can actually pray anywhere she wants to.  My heart melted when I heard this story.  As we are learning in the summer series at church reading through Corinthians – love is intricately complicated; yet common and simple – as shown through the eyes of my daughter.  It made me realize how many other opportunities there are to teach our kids about God’s love and prayer.

The next day, I tried to think of a tactical way to help Clara understand the capacity of God.  I grabbed a glass of water, showed her salt, and mixed them together.  By the next morning, she told me she couldn’t see the salt anymore.  I then asked her if she could taste it, and with a sour face she took a sip and said that she could.  I then tried to explain to her how just like the salt, God can’t be seen…but He is everywhere!  It was like a lightbulb moment as her face lit up with a big smile!

Before bed that evening, I asked Clara what she wanted to pray about, and she said with much enthusiasm, “CANDY!”  In fact, she wanted to pray for candy the next several nights.  Although prayer is all about being authentic, I recently stumbled across this awesome 5 finger prayer to help give her some guidance.  To help her understand who God is, and how she can talk to Him through prayer.  I thought it was a pretty neat idea to share with the other parents out there!

Thumb- Praise God

Index- Confess your sins

Middle- Thank God

Ring- Pray for others

Pinky-Pray for yourself


How have you taught your children about prayer and God’s love?  Let’s share and encourage each other with inspiring ideas!

When have you had that lightbulb moment about God’s love?


Katie Larson is a member of Easter Lutheran Church.  She lives in Eagan with her husband Andrew, and their two young daughters, Clara and Audrey.  In her free time outside of working as a marketing recruiter, Katie enjoys writing on the topic of faith and parenting.



Some thoughts chase me. Healing, restoration…these have been trailing me lately. Pastor Kris’s recent sermon “Peter Heals” was the catalyst this time. It was beautiful.

During her message she shared how her brother was injured in an auto accident when he was 22 years old. A senior at West Point Academy, Bobby no doubt was a young man with nothing but promise ahead of him. A single moment of time changed the direction of his life, forever. He flew through the windshield of a car. He was left a quadriplegic with significant brain damage. He needed a-round-the clock care for the remaining 26 years of his life.

Kris shared that after his death his caregiver of many years, a deeply spiritual women, called her to tell her that she had a dream the night before. In her dream Bobby was in heaven, and that he had been restored, completely, restored. But the thing that struck her is that he remained in his wheelchair.

Remained in his chair, yet completely, perhaps most importantly, spiritually restored…

Kris shared how she never thought about healing quite the same way again. Maybe I won’t either.

I settled into a yoga class that following Tuesday morning. At the start of class my instructor sat upon her mat, faced her students and asked for Grace. With a heavy sigh she explained that one of her children, a Son who has struggled with drug addiction since his teens, had called her over the weekend asking for help. He was high and combative, and was likely to lose his place to live. In the process of trying to help him, he physically assaulted her.

She was brokenhearted. She shared a bit about her family’s seven year struggle. She asked for prayer.

Upon my mat, staring up at the ceiling I prayed for her family. I prayed for healing, for restoration. I thought about her Son, wondering if he’ll break free from his addiction. I prayed for healing for her brokenness, and for his. I thought about Pastor Kris’s brother Bobby.

Restored in his chair…maybe life altering adversity doesn’t have to cripple our spiritual wholeness.

Pastor Kris suggested that perhaps we assign worldly expectation to what we feel healing should look like, and in doing so maybe we limit God.

And so I’m left with this swirling about…

file000539488754Perhaps healing, the miraculous, crazy crisp, soul cleansing, blanketing kind, the kind that only He can offer, maybe that is best obtained by letting go of our own expectations, remove that which may hinder our renewal, and instead allow Him in. We might never be the same. Maybe we still carry with us the scars of this world. But, He shines them up, restoring us to more than we once were.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 New Living Translation (NLT) 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Mindy Lynn Hilo and her family have been members at Easter for eleven years. She is a conformation mentor and a regular contributor to Easter Praise. You can follow Mindy on her personal blog, embracingcharlie.com. Mindy’s book Embracing Charlie was honored with a Finalist Title in the Christian Inspirational Category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.

Gratitude and Generosity – Vision Board Devotion by Brad Van Horn

“Gratitude and Generosity,” words that are inextricably intertwined when talking about faith.  Words that are technically prose but are nearly poetry because they have the potential to ignite the imagination and carry with them the power to bring great change when used together.  For a moment, in your mind, consider converting the phrase, “Gratitude and Generosity” to an image of a very long timeline but imagine there is only one point, the now, delineating the segments making up the past and the future.

The gratitude side of the line causes us to reflect on the past, about things that have happened to us or for us.  Some things we recall easily because they’re very tangible and we may experience them every day like being thankful for loving family and friends so we are reminded and re-reminded frequently.  Other things are a little more distant and we have to be vigilant to not let our memories fade, like our gratitude for service men and women who have fought for our freedom.  And then, of course, in this most holy season, as Christians, we must take time to contemplate and have gratitude for the eternal salvation granted to us with the ultimate sacrifice of our savior, Jesus Christ.

Now, remember the image and look at the generosity side of the line, the future, and think of it as a verb.  While it is important to send God our “thank you notes” in the form of prayers, he expects much more from us.  We are also called to action.  Another closely associated phrase, “time, talent, and treasure” have wonderful alliteration and symbolism but it seems like they are used so frequently that their meaning has become diluted. Do we sometimes interpret these words as “Time or Talent or Treasure”?

Because my term on the Vision Board is ending in April, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you for allowing me to learn and grow in the most wondrous of ways.  It has truly been an honor to serve God by serving Easter Lutheran Church.  Easter Lutheran Church is healthy in every sense; spiritually, culturally, and fiscally.  We have the greatest volunteers who are abundantly generous with their time and talent.  We have tremendous plans to do even more incredible work in God’s kingdom and now, more than ever, it is important that we make sure we are properly supporting our ministries and staff by reflecting on all the things for which we are grateful and seizing the opportunity to align our generosity with our gratitude.   Please prayerfully consider the call to action that lies within “Gratitude and Generosity.”

Today Lord, guide my generosity by doing your will with all that I have.  Amen.

Big Time Foot in Mouth Disease

By An Anonymous Writer/Member of Easter Lutheran Church

Ecclesiastes 3:7  “A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be silent and a time to speak.”

Several months ago my husband and I woke up to discover we’d come down with foot-in-mouth disease. Big time. We inadvertently offended someone we love and respect. (Big time.)  And wow she was angry. Big time. We’re talking “I’ll-never-speak-to-you-again” and “Don’t-you-dare-approach-or-I will-turn-my-back-on-you-and-walk-away!”  Really big time!

Amazing GraceIn Lent we heard so frequently of God’s love for us even when we ignore Him. He just keeps on giving. He loves and forgives us daily for our every sin. He even let His son be persecuted and killed just so our sins, our foot-in-mouth diseases, wouldn’t stand in the way of our salvation.  I am unable to comprehend a love that is so strong you would sacrifice your son.  That’s who He is–a giver who never stops giving; a Love that will always be there to welcome our approach.  Big time!

A common saying among our friends is, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  That’s not forgiveness.  I Cor. 13:5 says Love keeps no record of wrongs. When we sin we’ll never hear God saying, “Okay, that’s twice!”  And we must forgive others as quickly as we expect God to forgive us. That’s big time difficult! Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt someone who hurt me. This is what God does – all the time!

Lent this year meant weeks of watching Jesus be so very brave, loving and forgiving.  Weeks to not mourn our hurt, instead to tell our hurt and pain that’s it’s time go away and simply love. It meant we really understood the great disappointments we cause our Father. Yet we must do as He did and forgive. Big time.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said there’s “a time for everything.”  Lent showed us big time that our time is now.

Please join us in prayer that our ever forgiving Lord and His brave, unselfish Son will be with us in our times of missing the mark.  We ask them to bless our words and deeds so that we may always be loving—big time! 


A Holy Place For The Broken – Vision Board Devotion by Catherine Byers-Breet

His name was Vince. He came up to me one Tuesday (after the Easter Job Transitions Group meeting wrapped up) to say “Thank you for this group. I’m new, and today was really helpful.” He started to walk away and I said “So, Vince … how can I help with your search?” He looked back at me, his eyes filled with tears, and said “I’m not sure. I don’t know what I need. Got any ideas about what I can tell my wife and kids? I’ve been unemployed for 15 months. I’ve had 29 phone screens, and not one of them has turned into a real interview. I just don’t know what to tell them anymore.” 6 weeks later, Vince was at work in a leadership role at a reputable company.

Mary had been unemployed for 6 months and was about to lose her house. At 63, she was convinced she would never work again. 3 days later, she got hired by a former coworker who, until then, she had been too embarrassed to call.

These are just two of hundreds of stories like this. Since December of 2008, over 2300 people have come to our group (40-80 people per week). Only 136 of them have been Easter members. 94% are something else. Talk about blurring the lines between church and community!

I would never claim that I – or our job transitions group – were the only reason Vince and Mary were able to stand back up again and go get those jobs. However, I know for certain that we – and God – had a hand in it. Every Tuesday morning, Easter offers a safe, inspiring place for so many to gather and get great advice, wonderful connections and a bucket full of “Yes … you can!”

For many Christians, church is just a place you go on Sundays. Before joining Easter, I thought “church” was done by pastors and staff … and that the congregation just showed up when they needed something. Now I know that “church” is all of us. At Easter, Sunday is the special place we go to recharge our batteries … so we can go out and do God’s most important work: the stuff that happens in the spaces between the Sundays.

I am so proud of what happens in our church every Tuesday morning. But here’s the crazy thing: the Job Transitions Group is just ONE of the over 20 important ministries running at Easter on any given day! If you’re wondering what our church is doing for our congregation and our community, show up for a community meal or local mission event. Better yet, turn to the person sitting next to you on Sunday and ask them if they’ve tried out any of the small groups of ministries at Easter. I think you’ll be delighted by what you hear. If not, perhaps you can inspire each other to try something new in the spaces between your Sundays. What’s waiting for you on the other side of that is pure magic.

God’s work. Our hands.

Do you give up?

By John Peterson

Easter Lutheran window butterfly

Easter is here! He is Risen!

Matthew 6: 16-18: 

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” 

Forty Days imageForty some odd days ago, Ash Wednesday was upon us and many of our Catholic and other Christian brothers and sisters use that day as the first of 40 days to give up something for Lent. It may be something like chocolate, television, a favorite food, social media or something else that is important to you. My children would sometimes give up watermelon. Although it is a favorite of theirs, it was a questionable “sacrifice” as it is hard to find watermelon in February and March… sometimes I think they missed the point.  I have always understood giving something up for Lent would be a reminder of the sacrifice Christ gave for me whenever I thought about whatever it was I gave up.

As a Christian, shouldn’t Christ’s sacrifice be something that we reflect on all year long? Shouldn’t we always remember what Christ did for us on the cross? For me, I don’t always remember these sacrifices. I am guilty of selfishly focusing on what I perceive to be the sacrifices I give up for my work, my friends and my family and not on the real sacrifices that Christ gave up for us.

I read a story about a father who was talking to his son about what he gave up for Lent. His son said he gave up fighting with his brothers and sisters. When his father asked him how it was going the son replied, “I’m doing pretty well, Dad – but I can’t wait until Easter”. This story says a lot about how we can feel as Christians. We may give something up for 40 days, but if we don’t remember that this is a sacrifice we miss the point. Anything we give up should remind us of the greatest sacrifice that Jesus gave for every one of us. Reflecting on His sacrifice and focusing our lives to live as Christ lived helps us to “grow in faith and carry on the work of Jesus Christ”.


Stained glass window at Easter Lutheran Church


Dear Lord – We thank you for the ultimate sacrifice you gave for us. Help us to understand the extent of your love for us and help us to pass a portion of that love on to others. We thank you for the Easter promise and we thank you for loving us so much that you gave your only Son so that we may live. Bless us as we live our lives according to your will. Amen.