In the Garden – germination….

Little happenings, chance encounters, random acts are possibilities for big results.

While weeding and pruning in front of our house, a man came by on his bike and stopped. I recognized him as the person who helped my son with his flat tire last winter. I asked him if he wanted to buy a   tomato plant. He gave me $1.00, said he didn’t have the space to grow it but wanted me to give a plant to another family on our block. Amazing…

A young boy who was too short to reach the Mountain Dew on the top shelf was about to attempt an adventurous climb up the shelves to retrieve his target. An adult shopper approached and asked, “Young man, do you need help?”  He replied, “Yes, it’s always on the top shelf!”  The boy smiled and accepted the heavy two liter bottle with a polite “thank you.”  Future…

The coupon offered two bags of either romaine or spinach for $4.00.  But, there were only two bags of the spinach available and no  romaine….  AND, no produce clerk to be found.   Shopper No. 1 located a clerk and was told more salad produce would be “delivered tomorrow morning”.  She returned with the sorry news to Shopper No. 2 at which point she was given the last bag of spinach. They shared spinach, smiles, and “have a good day”.  Kindness…

Sylvia, who lives near God’s Garden, came out to talk and pick tomatoes. She gave me two cookbooks, one for me and one for Mary because we had been talking about starting a Saturday cooking group at GST.  Food…

Yoga night at Body and Soul Healing Arts Center: one of the students, Hannah, was moving and brought a bag of books for the Little Free Library. Sweet…

Don’t wait to be led into a big, grand mission project

when each day there can be an opportunity to be a missionary.

Don’t expect to see the results.

Be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit.


Spiritual Wellbeing

Spirituality is how we are in relationship to God, to other people,

to the world around us, and to ourselves.

Spirituality is the process of staying engaged in these relationships,

the intention we bring to them,

and how willing we are to evolve as the relationship affects us.

Brian C. Taylor, Introduction, Strength for the Journey: A Guide to Spiritual Practice by Renee Miller


Recognize this quote? I have used it often in the past two years. For me, this quote brings the ‘Wholeness Wheel’ (to the right) to life, clarifying simply and powerfully the importance of seeing our spiritual identity as including the whole person, and the need to be intentional about caring for all parts of our lives.


This quote also reminds me of the greatest commandments: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. This takes intentional work. This takes safe community in which to learn, grow, test things out, get feedback, come along side,  challenge and support one another. This takes a trust in the Triune God to hold us in our journey, and guide us through the wildernesses of our lives. This takes patience, compassion, empathy, vulnerability, courage, creativity and an openness to change. This also takes a belief that you are worthy of God’s love, grace and belonging.


This is the whole point of Jesus living among us, dying, and rising again: New life. Restored relationship. Connection to God. For you, AND for me, AND for our neighbor. Jesus’ grace and healing is not just for the individual, it is for the whole community. Jesus calls us back into relationship with God AND one another. Jesus breaks down barriers of class, gender, and race and invites us to stand  before the cross of our judgments, fears, shame, unworthiness and invites us give it to him. Let it go, and let the Holy Spirit’s healing enter in its place. We are worthy of God’s love. Trust that. Share that. Live that.


I recently shared two videos by Dr. Brene Brown to start the season of Lent at GST. They offer an avenue into the wilderness terrain of vulnerability and shame, and invites us to reconsider the courage and strength of being vulnerable, which is not weakness, but willing to share your whole heart, your whole person.

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

and Listening to Shame

This brings me full circle, back to the Wholeness Wheel. I wonder what part of the wheel you might focus on this year in Lent. What area is God calling you to explore, to travel, to journey into, and find out more about? There are many opportunities for getting connected with God and one another at GST and beyond. I hope you will choose to be part of one or more of them.


May you be both courageous and compassionate this Lenten Season.


Wholeness Wheel and Lent

A new year has begun, and I have decided to share with you once again a resource from Portico Benefits called “The Wholeness Wheel”. I used this during Lent 2012, and feel the richness of this material is worth Wholeness Wheelrevisiting. Reprinted here is the graphic and a brief explanation of each part of the wheel. I invite you to consider choosing an area or two that you will personally work on this year. Chart your progress and then let us know how it is going. Remember, you are amazing and the health of your whole  person is important to God. Honor yourself. – Peace, Pastor Kristin


Martin Luther said, “This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way.” We can’t be “whole” in this life, but we can become acquainted with the wholeness to come by striving to live well in key aspects of our lives. The Wholeness Wheel is a tool we use to understand whole-person health.

Social/Interpersonal well-being

We were created by God to be social beings, living in community and   instructed to help and love each other. Make time to build and maintain social well-being through interaction, play and forgiveness. Take time to nurture your relationships with family, friends, congregation and co-workers.

Emotional well-being

Being emotionally well means feeling the full range of human emotions and expressing them appropriately. Self-awareness is the first step. Recognizing and honoring your own feelings and those of others — stress, contentment, anger, love, sadness, joy, resentment — will help you live life abundantly.

Physical well-being

While we are not all born perfectly healthy or able to live life without injury or illness, we can live well with tending and nurturing. Honor your body as a gift from God. Feed it healthy foods, keep it hydrated, build your physical endurance through regular exercise and respect your body’s need for rest.

Financial well-being

In all aspects of well-being we are called to be stewards. Good financial stewards make decisions based on their values, which is evident in the way they save, spend and share. This understanding of stewardship embraces resilience, sustainability and generosity.

Vocational well-being

We all have a calling – a vocation – to follow Christ’s example, living a life of meaning, purpose and service to our neighbor. Our vocations are our life’s work and passions – our everyday roles through which God calls us to help make this world a better place. Those who are well vocationally are faithful stewards of their talents and abilities, and find opportunities to build and use them.

Intellectual well-being

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Using our minds keeps them alert and active. Stay curious, ask questions, seek answers. Explore new responsibilities, experience new things and keep an open mind. And remember, knowing when and how to let your mind rest is as important as keeping it active.

Living a centered life focused on God affects each aspect of


our well-being. Turn to God for strength as you seek to live well in Christ. Nurture your relationship with God through prayer, devotions, worship, nature, art and music. Explore who you are and know whose you are.

The Wholeness Wheel was copyrighted by the InterLutheran Coordinating Committee on Ministerial Health and Wellness of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in 1997. Financial well-being was added to the wheel in 2008. 80-561 (6/2010)


Making Change – Wed Lenten Series

Change is a constant in our lives. Some changes are gradual transitions while others happen in the blink of an eye. Change is hard. We long for the expected and familchange-ahead-signiar, but often find ourselves in the midst of uncertainty and the unknown. We cannot predict how things turn out, but we can look to God’s steadfast love in the midst of life’s inevitable changes.

This year we will join our Ecumenical Partners for a Wednesday night Lenten round-robin series – Making Change. Each week, we’ll begin with a soup dinner at 6pm followed with the topic for the evening  at 7pm.

Week 1: Wednesday, March 12th  – “Change of Seasons” – Good Shepherd Trinity Lutheran Presbyterian Church, (3302 N. Sherman Blvd)

Week 2: Wednesday, March 19th— “Change of Heart” –  Capitol Drive Lutheran Church, (5305 W. Capitol Dr.)

Week 3: Wednesday, March 26th— “Change of Circumstance” –  Albright United Methodist Church (56th and Capitol)

Week 4: Wednesday, April 2nd— “Music in Times of Change” – Bethel Bethany United Church of Christ, (54th and Locust).

Week 5: Wednesday, April 9th— “Change the World” –  Divine Word Pentecost Lutheran Church, (55th and Lloyd).

Making Change flyer – 3


Christmas Eve Services 4:00 and 7:00pm

“O Come, all ye faithful”…

Good Shepherd Trinity invites you on Christmas Emary-and-baby-jesus-by-jason-jenickeve to our 4:00 pm or 7:00 pm worship services

with an Appetizer Potluck between for fellowship with your church family

                                                                  …”Glory to the newborn King!”

Be the Light of Jesus this Christmas

The message was loud and clear on Sunday, November 17th: Jesus is the light of the world and He expects us individually and as a church to join in and BE that light with Him. As our church searches for ways to shine Christ’s light in the community, words like evangelism and outreach can be a bit intimidating. Visions of knocking on doors come to mind. But, on Tuesday mornings a needy population comes right to OUR door. The Sherman Park Food Pantry, with our church’s help, gives them bags of food; our church has the opportunity to give them even more. Here are some easy ways we can shine the light and love of Christ for these people this month:


  • Bring new or lightly used toys, games, jewelry, hats or anything that would make a nice Christmas gift. (If we get enough items by early December, we’ll put them out on Tuesday’s for people to choose from, as we have for the last 3 years). The clients enjoy finding gifts for family.
  • Bring toiletry items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Bring cans of food and/or donate money on Food Pantry Sundays.
  • Bring greeting cards for our card rack.
  • Bring books for our Little Free Library (and people are asking for Bibles).
  • Come to church and pray. The written prayer requests of the Food Pantry clients are included in our Sunday morning congregational prayers, as well as in those of the Tuesday Bible Study.


Remember the song, “This Little Light of Mine”.  Little things mean a lot. How will you share the Light of Jesus with someone this year?


Advent is Coming

Advent is coming— and with it, comes shopping, gift buying, parties, concerts, programs, family visits, plays—and in the middle of all of that glorious excitement and chaos, Christians everywhere try to stop and wait—waiting for the  birth of Christ. This Advent season, we will “Go Tell It” – on the mountain, in song, at parties, in church, at home—anywhere, and everywhere!

This year for Advent, the Worship Team and the Website Team have been preparing  ways for you to bring Advent into your daily life.

On Sunday, Dec 1, two Advent Devotionals will be available at church – one for children (with glow in the dark stickers) and one for adults (those who really wish they could have glow in the dark stickers).

We also have many links in our Faith Formation Advent section  to online devotionals, advent activities, funny and thought provoking videos, and links to the ELCA Good Gifts catalog and the new Presbyterian Giving Catalog – both GREAT places to have a little “Advent Conspiracy” this weekend of Thanksgiving.


Jesus is coming – how will you prepare the way?



Many times during the past year, I have asked for people to answer a simple question…”What are you thankful for today?” It is easy to complain about things, but how are you doing at being grateful?

When we take the time to reflect on what we are grateful for on a regular basis, it changes everything. Instead of focusing only on what is wrong or on that which we do not seem to have enough of, we start to see what is right. We see the abundance of things that sustain, surprise, uplift and fill our spirits. Not only that, when we have an attitude of gratitude, we also start to see ways through difficult situations. We can be more creative in the face of that which might otherwise threaten to deflate us, to stop us from trying,  hoping, trusting, or loving with our whole selves.

So this Thanksgiving weekend, as the earth prepares for winter, as we prepare for the holidays, as Jesus prepares to meet us again and again where ever we are, I invite you to consider making a gratitude list at the beginning or end of each day. Pray that list. Share it with family and/or friends. Pay attention to how this affects what you feel, think, and see around you.  In thanksgiving for the abundance of grace and love that God pours out upon us everyday, I rejoice and I give thanks for all of you.

Peace, Pastor Kristin Nielsen


Vacation Bible School – Gather in the Garden

IMG_0784In summer 2013, the Christian Nurture (children’s education) and Outreach committees  combined together to meet the neighbors. Since Trudy meets many children from Townsend through God’s Garden and brings them to the garden,  the two committees decided to bring a VBS to where the children in the neighborhood first felt welcomed —in the garden. In June 2013 and again in August, we met in the garden or on the north lawn from 1-3pm each day for a week. Children from the neighborhood and church sang songs, decorated t-shirts, hats, made cross pillows, heard bible stories, broke bread together at snack time, and made new friends.




Gift Ark through Heifer International

Gift Ark Changes the World Two by Two

water buffalo

The Gift Ark includes two water buffalos, two cows, two sheep and two goats, along with bees, chicks, rabbits and more. Our Gift Ark donation will:

  • Care for entire communities with milk, eggs, honey and wool
  • Provide income by supplying an abundance of goods to sell
  • Sustain farming by providing livestock to work the land
  • Improve the lives of families for generations by multiplying and Passing on the Gift

The Gift Ark goes around the world, from Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas. Wherever we find hunger, poverty and hopelessness, we answer with the animals, training and encouragement provided by this generous gift.chicks


To find out more about Heifer and a Gift Ark, click on the button below: