Thursday, August 27, 2015

You Be You

Recently I had a conversation with someone struggling to let go of an unhealthy relationship. There was no abuse involved nor was there any unfairness in the relationship. This person confessed, “I feel like I’m obligated to perform a role I’m not cast to play lead.”

Have you ever been in a similar production? Unconsciously over time you assume a role that becomes ill-fitting. It isn’t necessarily evil, immoral or wrong – it simply isn’t you. And one day an inner voice encourages- you be you.

Mark Nepo teaches, “You do not have to do anything to be loved. You do not have to perform, or achieve, or earn a merit badge, or be witnessed doing good.” It has taken me half a century to learn and believe that I’m pretty outstanding cast as me.

Being who I am is the role suited for me and striving to satisfy the audience of God is as sufficient as divine grace. You be you – this day and forevermore.

You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. Psalm 139:13-14 (CEB)

 



Ken Brown is the senior pastor at BUMC. You can contact him at ken.brown@broomfieldumc.org

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Faith is Bigger than My Fear

My experience with radiation treatments (from start to the here and now).
Day 1: January 26, 2015

Today was a tough one. I have known I would need to do these treatments for weeks now. Since finding out about this, I have stuffed any and all emotions related to it because I was terrified of having a breakdown. Well, the breakdown came anyway on Sunday, January 25, 2015. I started crying right after church and didn’t stop crying until five hours later. Everything suddenly became a reality to me. I am going to have to do this treatment. I am going to have side effects and again, I am going to miss several hours a week of work.

Today, I cried all the way on my drive to the hospital. I chose to go by myself because I don’t want to burden my family or friends. That’s what I told myself anyway. I realize now thought that it all just comes down to pride and ego. I have a really hard time expressing that I need help or support.

I managed to pull myself together just before pulling up to the valet parking at St. Joseph’s Hospital. I was over an hour early for my appointment so I roamed around the hospital wing for a while until I found myself in the hospital chapel.

I sat down and the tears started as soon as I looked up to see the beautiful stained glass and the inspiring marble statue of Jesus. The first words that came to my mind were “Miss…God’s Got This.” These are the words spoken to me by a young man on my caseload at work. He looked me right in the eye and told me this with such strong confidence and such beautiful faith. These words continue to get me through even the toughest of times/days and situations.

The chapel was the perfect place to land right before my treatment began. I prayed and cried and then prayed some more. I gave thanks to God for all the blessings in my life because these blessing far outweigh the problems. Then…I sat in silence for over an hour. I needed the silence and the quiet peace that came with it. After my time in the chapel, I made my way over to radiation oncology.

I felt a renewed sense of peace as I walked in, swiped my check-in card and walked back to the radiation waiting area. I walked into a room with five or six people just waiting for their next treatment to begin. Shortly after sitting down, my radiation therapist/technologist introduced himself to me and walked me back to the treatment room. I was introduced to another radiation therapist, put my belongings down, and was told to sit down and then lay down on the treatment bed. The technologist bound my feet together, put the custom fit mask on me, and bolted the mask into the machine. I was told it was okay to keep my eyes open during the procedure. I will be honest…I started crying as soon as the mask was put on. It was just another sharp reality for me. The technicians started making adjustments and shouting out numbers and measurements to each other. They then told me it would be five or ten minutes of treatment time and told me to try and relax if possible. The machine began whirring and making all kinds of noise. The table I was lying on started to vibrate and then…the radiation began. I just kept crying and my nose was running without any way for me to wipe it all away. The whole process was surprisingly fast but at the same time, incredibly terrifying. After the machine stopped, the technicians took off my mask and helped me to sit up and get up off of the table. An overwhelming feeling of dizziness came upon me and the technician made me sit down right away. At this time, we arranged the daily schedule and reality set in again. I would be going through this at the same time (2 pm) five days a week for six weeks.

As the dizziness passed, I collected my things and then walked back out to valet parking. I received my car, tipped the valet guy and the tears came as soon as I drove away. I don’t think I have cried this hard since after the craniotomy in December of 2013. It seems like these days, everything sets off emotion. I drove home, fed my cat Luna, and then slept until 6 or 7 pm. I woke up, ate dinner and fell right back to sleep.

I am relieved to be done with the first day and I know it will get easier as time goes on because I refuse to let this tumor get the best of me! After all…"God's Got This” right?

August 16, 2015

It has almost been six months since I finished radiation treatment for a benign brain tumor. Things have been rough and my energy drained; but my faith remains strong. I take another MRI on September 14, 2015. Shortly after this, I find out if my tumor has grown or stayed the same. The radiation will not eliminate the tumor but it will hopefully stop it from getting bigger. As I understand it, the tumor is “inoperable.”

I have had plenty of time to ruminate on this…plenty of time to worry and focus on what could happen next. Recently, however, I have realized I need to stop living my life in hypotheticals. I need to allow my faith to be bigger than my fear.

After all, Exodus 14:14 states, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I grew up in Colorado and spent most of my time growing up in Arvada, Colorado until I went to the University of Northern Colorado. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance in 1994. Now, I work at The Link A Community Assessment and Resource Center. At The Link, I work with youth who are either gang involved or at risk of becoming gang involved. I love my work and I get to see transformation in these kids on a daily basis. I am actively involved in the music ministry at Broomfield United Methodist Church. I enjoy singing with the Sunrise Singers and Chancel Choir. I also love having the opportunity to play my flute and sing whenever given the opportunity.
My life is now in transition as I recover from brain surgery. I had a MRI in December of 2013. At that time, I was told I had a large brain tumor and that surgery was needed as soon as possible. I had a craniotomy on December 23, 2013. My healing and progress is moving along now and I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of my friends and family and the community at Broomfield United Methodist Church. So many people and groups within BUMC reached out to me with cards and offers of support. Most importantly, of course, I praise God for his hand in my healing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Elner Challenge


I am a teacher. That means that summer is usually a time of freedom, exploration, trips and fun. This summer was different. I had to undergo surgery on my back at the beginning of my break, meaning that I was relegated to the couch, to my house and to short walks around my neighborhood; for six to eight weeks. What a big, fat bummer. I decided to try and be somewhat constructive with my time, so I read.. a lot.

One of the books that I read was called, Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven. Just the title was intriguing and it was by one of my favorite authors, Fanny Flagg. The main character in the book is an elderly southern woman named Elner Shimfissle- what a fantastic name, by the way. After I finished the book I was envious. I wanted to BE Elner Shimfissle. You see, Elner lives life in way that is so simple, so good and in a way that should be so obvious. One of Elner’s favorite quotes is one by Albert Einstein, "There are two ways to live your life. One is as if nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." She has absolutely no doubt in her mind that there is a Heaven and that she will get there someday. Elner delights every day in the little things. She gets down on the ground to look at little bugs. She puts a picture torn from a magazine of dancing rats on her wall. She rescues orange cats and names them all Sonny. She invites total strangers into her house for conversation and cookies and then sends them home with homemade preserves. She derives great satisfaction from caramel cake and joins the “Bacon of the Month” club. She can’t stand to kill the slugs that eat her flowers and she wonders, often, how God could come up with so many different fingerprints. In short, everything to her is a marvel, wondrously beautiful and something to be celebrated and honored; nothing is to too small, too plain, to go unnoticed. I want to be like Elner.

After I finished reading the book, I had lunch with a friend. My friend told me about a “challenge” that her sister had just finished that asked her to look for one thing that is beautiful every day, for 365 days, take a picture of it, and put it on Facebook. An “Elner challenge!" This is just what I needed to make me look at life the way that Elner does. If I could just take time out of my life to find God’s beauty in one thing a day, I could begin to see the world in a different way. I’ve always wanted some way to have some sort of daily devotional but I don’t really like reading published writings about others’ devotionals. I’ve tried and I always fail. One devotional will speak to me and then the next day it won’t and pretty soon I just quit reading. I think I was going about it all wrong. I needed to create my own devotional; something that held meaning to me. My “Elner Challenge” was underway!

Every day I push myself to find something beautiful and take a photograph. Sometimes the beauty I see is obvious, like the mountains or the sunrise. Other days, I try to find something that might be overlooked if one is too busy to look for it. Like a spider web covered in water droplets, or the moss growing on a tree trunk, or the simplicity of a duck swimming on the water. These are all works of God and are all things that Elner would see and celebrate. I’m trying to be like Elner and live my life as if everything is a miracle.





 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. 
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.  -Psalm 95: 4-5





Sara Godwin is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Lewis and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She has been a member of BUMC for 10 years. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.



Thursday, August 6, 2015

Strategies of Faith

Six weeks into the Utah adventure, I still have yet to drive towards the mountains with the intention of going west. (But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been turned around in my head a time or two). On positive notes though we’ve unpacked more boxes than remain packed up, and we’ve found a church very close to our house that we feel at home attending.

When asked to continue to blog for BUMC even though my journey was increasing my zip code by a few thousand, I gladly accepted with my only concern being that my writing remained relevant (a minor concern at that). In the first post-Colorado blog however, it’s actually more difficult to find just one topic to concentrate upon. There were several instances relating to the big move where God showed up in places and ways that only he can, but I feel that’s ground I’ve covered before.

Our new Utah church is studying the book of Nehemiah. For how often Old Testament scripture is relegated as irrelevant and obsolete, I’ve found this study to be highly applicable to issues we as the church face today. More importantly, I think of some of the greatest attributes of BUMC when I read Nehemiah’s story.

The book opens in the Persian city of Susa where Nehemiah is the cup bearer (modern era “food tester”) for King Artaxerxes. He has stayed in Persia even though the exiles from his descended home land of Judah have been allowed to return under Kings Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes. He is heartbroken to find from his brother Hanani (who is visiting from Judah) that Jerusalem’s walls and gates are still in ruins, even though the most recent pilgrimage of exiles (led by Ezra) were given resources from the King to rebuild the temple.

Immediately we see this story’s relevance to today. Nehemiah is undoubtedly living a pretty sweet life with his position in King Artaxerxes’ court. He understands that even if the temple is rebuilt, Jerusalem and its people are unprotected from the same attack and pillage from enemies that drove God’s people into exile decades earlier. In the words of Matthew West, he knows he’s “the one who stands up and says, ‘I’m going to do something’.” Rebuilding the wall wasn’t an issue of dogma or theocratic dilemma; it was a real world problem that broke Nehemiah’s heart. Knowing how BUMC has tackled issues of human trafficking, race relations, violence, hunger, affordable housing…this is the same spirit that drove Nehemiah to action.

Another attribute of Nehemiah that relates today is how he approaches his task. For months he prays for the strength to ask King Artexerxes for help, and even when the moment happens it states that Nehemiah was terrified, knowing that the king’s disapproval of what he was requesting would not only cost him his status in the court but likely his life. But he steps out, goes bold, asks the king not only for his approval to let Nehemiah travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls but much more. He also asks for letters insuring his safety and appropriations of building materials, as well as for army officers and horses to protect him. Nehemiah knew that previous pilgrimages had similar resources but Ezra 8:22 states: “I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany and protect us from our enemies along the way.” I’m not saying that Nehemiah was better than Ezra (couldn’t resist the 90s rock reference) in his approach, for Ezra’s approach was rooted in faith that God would protect and provide. However Nehemiah understood that his task was going to be more difficult to sell to the local leaders who opposed and distrusted the Israelites, and that being diligent and wise in his approach will give him a greater chance of success. Every ministry I’ve been involved with at BUMC always has shown great foresight in understanding the obstacles ahead and asking for God’s guidance and wisdom in undertaking their vision.

Lastly there was Nehemiah’s vision and intolerance of the status quo. When he arrives in Jerusalem he tours the entire city boundary and the ruinous state it lies in. Even though it doesn’t outline it in his account, I can’t help but think he looked at the people going about their daily lives amongst the broken walls and disrepair of infrastructure and was stunned. We are all charged today upon witness of inequality and the impoverished to shine a light that says, “things can be better and we can do this together.” Nehemiah didn’t go out and get three bids from contractors to handle the work. Instead he went to the people and presented his vision and the people themselves said “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” (Nehemiah 2:18). People come from miles around the city to help rebuild the wall; the work takes on its own gravity. This is another way BUMC has always been amazing: when a need arises you respond, knowing that the cumulative force of your time, talent and treasure guarantee success.

There are plenty of metaphoric (and sometimes literal) walls that are in ruins today. Reading Nehemiah reminds us that even though there is fear in taking action to do what is right, having faith and an understanding of the problem can make anyone a difference maker. Having the ability to share your vision and shine light onto the darkness that exists in the world can overcome any obstacle. Be inspired and keep doing great things BUMC!




Kyle Rasmussen and his wife, Jennifer currently reside in Centerville, UT along with their kids Blake (7) and Noellyn (5). They have called Colorado and BUMC home from 2005 until relocating to Utah this year for Kyle's position as Quality Control Specialist for Holly Energy Partners.