Paul and I joined St. Luke’s in 1979 when we first moved to Bloomington. From day one of joining St. Luke’s we have been actively involved in the church, along with our children, Phil and Jana, and now our son-in-law, Dan and granddaughter, Sadie.
The Cinnamons left St. Luke’s when they moved from Bloomington to Eden Prairie, but they came back to St. Luke’s because Sadie wanted to. The reason - because people here knew her and would engage in conversation with her. I consider St. Luke’s my second family. You have been with me through the good times and bad. I like to make acronyms -- so here is mine for St. Luke's My Second Family.
S – since 1979 when we joined St. Luke's
T – trust
L - love
U – understanding
K – kindness
E’s – excitement
M - music
Y - youth
S – sincerity
E – enjoying
C – caring
O – opportunities
N – neighbors
D – devotion
F – friendships
A – accepted
M – ministry
I – involvement
L – leadership
Y – YES!
I started volunteering in the church office in 2012, after working in the retirement plan industry for over 30 years. In 2014, I was asked to fill in when there was a transition in office staff and then hired to fill a part-time position. I felt a call to the position at that time. I wasn’t quite ready for retirement yet and I love my church and serving the members and our community.
I am responsible for the daily operations of the office including answering phones, working on the bulletins, Proclaim (the video program used for our screen – but still needs to be done for those watching online), working on Tuesday and Thursday E-news, meeting with people who stop by regarding building rental, in need of help, etc. One of my greatest joys was having Warren Carpenter stop by when he was up to it and checking in on things here and bringing vegetables from his garden in the summer. In the past year, I have had fun with a member who stops by the office and calls me, Elaine, so I have been calling him Fred. Also, there have been many of you who just have stopped by the office and said “hi” and always showing interest in me and my family. My greatest reward is getting to know you more.
I am announcing today that I will be retiring in May from my office position, but I will still continue to be involved in many activities here St. Luke’s. I look forward to spending more time with my family, at our lake place in Alexandria, gardening and taking some trips. This fall we have an Alaskan cruise planned. St. Luke’s has a bright future and I look forward to continuing to be part of this faith community.
I am working with a great team of staff members here at St. Luke’s and if you know of anyone interested in my position, please have them talk to my husband, Paul, who is head of the Personnel Committee in 2022. Thank you!
Jesus said, I AM...the Bread of Life...the Light of the World...the Gate...the Good Shepherd...This is our Wednesday Lent Worship Series, looking at all the "I AM's" of Jesus.
We too need to claim our identity. My identity includes admitting, "I am an alcoholic." But more importantly in Jesus, "I am a Child of God!"
While growing up, I attended a very special church. However, just stating it was special may not be the most accurate description. After all, in some sense, all churches are special. No, this one was much more than that, as it became my refuge on so many occasions to evade the chaos that was taking place in my home. I remember vividly calling members of the congregation, primarily the parents of my fellow confirmation classmates, and asking them, “Could you please come pick me up and bring me to church?” Funny thing is, now as I look back in hindsight, it’s without a doubt how I was able to get confirmed. The Good Lord sure works in mysterious ways. I also think now as I look back, some of those people may have figured out or simply known about my dad and the drinking that was going on at our house. But I can’t blame everything on him because even by then my little life was already in shambles, and I was drinking and drugging all the time as well. You may wonder how that’s possible for a fourteen-year-old, but back then, as it is now, drugs and alcohol were readily available to any kid with an ounce of creativity. And let me tell you what, when it came to getting booze and drugs, I was about as creative as they get. In the last month of confirmation, I was expelled from high school. And being home alone, I was able to drink every day. It only took a few short months before I was admitted to inpatient treatment for the first time with an already enlarged liver.
Unfortunately, this was only the beginning of my battles with addiction and more so with myself and even God. I never stopped believing, I just thought God hated me. I also believed that both my earthly father, as well as my heavenly Father, somehow got their kicks out of tearing me down, making me feel “less than” or implying in so many different ways that I was simply not quite as good as the other kids. You know, like damaged goods.
I won’t go into details of the next seventeen years of my life, but let me state, plain and simple, things never got better for me. It wasn’t merely a phase, my addictions didn’t “even-out” and there was absolutely no moderation for me, only the insanity of thinking there was. Not even after my dad cleaned up, trying so many times to encourage me or help me to quit. I was in and out of A.A., N.A. and treatment, had acquired three DWI’s and had even gone to jail a few times. Not to mention the physical and mental abuse and trauma I caused nearly everybody who came near me, because addiction doesn’t care. It doesn’t care about love, it doesn’t care about family, dreams, or God. Speaking of God, my relationship with Him was almost nonexistent. The only time I even talked to God was when I begged Him to magically get me out of the trouble, I had gotten myself into, but blamed Him for.
As I sunk deeper, I resorted to stronger drugs. My hands shook, and I could no longer drink without blacking out unless I had cocaine, crank or speed to keep me going so I could drink more. Using stronger drugs was nothing new to me though, as I had discovered most of them before turning seventeen. Addiction, alcoholism, trauma, fear, resentment, and a destructively low self-esteem eventually took over, and I could no longer function without chemicals. I existed in that Godless place between Earth and Hell, and it wasn’t only ruining my life, but was also pulling my loved ones down with me. After years of unsuccessfully trying to quit, I had given up hope and decided this was my fate. However, my God, whom I had forgotten about, had not forgotten about me.
Many people in recovery experience what is called “a moment of clarity”. And if you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s when, for a brief moment, you see your life. You see your past, present and future. You understand what everybody has been saying. You understand the pleading, the heartache, and the destruction the drugs and booze have caused and for some reason it impacts you now more than it ever did. I’ve heard many people talk about this phenomenon; however, I think it’s much, much more. I believe that a moment of clarity is actually a divine intervention from God. I believe this because after so many years of failed attempts, I truly believe God talked to me. Now before you have me hauled off, know it wasn’t with a burning bush or a thundering voice, it was subtle and maybe lasted twenty seconds tops. But in that short time, God grabbed ahold of my heart and showed me all the things one might see in their moment of clarity. He also gave me strength, hope and faith. He showed me that even though I had caused so much damage with my drinking and drugging and thought there was no hope for someone like me, that I was indeed forgiven by the grace, power, and mercy of Jesus Christ. I started weeping uncontrollably and as soon as I realized what God was saying and that He was talking directly to me, He was gone. Again, this all took about twenty seconds. And maybe some will say it was indeed in my own head, but I refuse to believe it. Because when all else failed me, God did not. He picked me up and saved my life, and the proof is that twenty-eight years later, I still haven’t taken a drink, and I haven’t taken a hit.
Here’s the kicker though, I believe God talked directly to me again twenty-five years later. And not because I’m something special, but because it takes dang near an act of God to infiltrate my thick head sometimes. Some years ago, God placed it upon my heart to start a recovery ministry based on the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many times, God had me share my story of faith and recovery, but as a professional musician, He also had me use music as well. I spoke and played at churches, recovery gatherings and even at a few luncheons, but selfishly I continued to ghost God’s calling on my life. However, and as we all know, if God wants something, God is going to get it. He never gave up on me, just like He hadn’t given up on me before. So, through some extreme personal struggles, continuing to lose friends and family members to this diabolical disease and even seeing His grace and compassion first-hand through one mighty miracle after another, I still couldn’t figure it out. Yup, God pretty much had to womp me upside the head to infiltrate this thick cranium of mine once again. But once He did … Whoa! The flood gates burst open, and it dawned on me why I was still alive: to share my faith, recovery, and music (His name, not mine). I am alive to serve Him while helping others by sharing our experiences, testimonies, hope and inspiring music through the love of Jesus! Wow!
So fast forward to today and I’ll tell you some of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. In three short years, Faith, Recovery & Music has visited churches, teen/youth centers and treatment facilities with its unique and uplifting recovery worship services. Focused on Christ’s love for us, we use shared experiences, Bible verses and music to lift and inspire those in recovery from drugs and alcohol and those who would like to be. When Covid-19 struck, God had even bigger plans by having us create an ever-growing online presence. Currently Faith, Recovery & Music has a YouTube Channel, a private Facebook group, a website and a weekly podcast listened to in eight different countries! God also helped us become an official 501c3 nonprofit ministry.
But as they say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Because God was far from finished! A year or so ago, when so many recovery meetings were still closed due to Covid, we were able to start a bimonthly meeting of Faith, Recovery & Music in New Prague that was in complete accordance with Minnesota’s Stay Safe Guidelines. It only took a few short months before we started offering this meeting every week. The problem, however, was that we had many people coming from north of the river, and it was a struggle for them to travel to New Prague. God put it on my heart to find another location, maybe something closer to the metro area. So, I prayed about it and put out a feeler on Facebook that said, “Looking for a church maybe in the Bloomington area to host a weekly Christian-based recovery service.” And guess what? In a few short minutes I saw someone had tagged this Rob Norris-Weber guy and literally two minutes later I received a message from him. He stated he liked the idea and thought the church he pastored may be a good fit. I was super excited and looked up Rob to find out where his church was and nearly fell off my chair when I saw it was St. Luke’s, my church refuge as a kid. God Is So Good!
“A lawyer, asked Jesus a question to test him. 36‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ 37Jesus said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Matthew 22:35-40
May this be our Lenten Spiritual Discipline – to Love God, by loving our neighbors, both near and far.
NEAR - VEAP
March is Minnesota Food Month. St. Luke’s has partnered with VEAP our neighborhood Food Shelf and Community Support Organization. The Missions Team thought it would identify particular items for our members to purchase throughout the month. Here are the suggested donations for Last week and this week. In addition there is a great need for grocery bags. Please add a few each week.
March 6 – Baking Essentials = Flour, sugar, cooking oil, etc.
March 13 – Paper Products and Laundry Detergent = Toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
St. Luke’s March 1 blog has more details.
Here is the link for VEAP: https://veap.org/march-drive/
Far - Ukraine
From the ELCA – On Feb. 24, Russian forces invaded Ukraine, launching land, sea and air attacks. Russia has launched air strikes across the country, including on the capital of Kyiv and other major cities. Airports are now shut, and few railway lines are operational. Millions of civilians fleeing the violence are heading toward Ukraine’s western districts and such neighboring countries as Poland, Moldova, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. Over 300 civilians have been killed in the conflict so far, and damage to civilian infrastructure has left hundreds of thousands of people without water or electricity. Ukrainian men of military age (18-60) are forbidden to leave the country, so most of those fleeing the violence are women and children. There are major humanitarian concerns for both internally displaced people and refugees. Many of these Ukrainians fleeing their homes need shelter and such basic necessities as food, water and toiletries. Care for people also includes pastoral and psychological support to address the trauma they’ve endured.
St. Luke’s Mission Team and Members have identified a number of organizations
If you would like to make a donation send or drop off funds to St. Luke’s or go online stlukesbloomington.org at the bottom of every webpage is a link to give – put your gift amount in the Missions tab. Know that St. Luke’s will be making an additional gift. You can direct your gift or give a gift to be distributed by the Missions Team. There are links to each organization and a link below for even more. That is our job as the church and individual believers, let living waters flow. Amen.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service - stands in solidarity with our Ukrainian neighbors and is dedicated to supporting Ukrainian refugees and immigrants however possible. Follow the link to learn more below about how you can support Ukrainians in the United States and abroad. https://www.lirs.org/ukraine-crisis
Lutheran Disaster Response - is accompanying our companions in Ukraine, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, as well as such ecumenical partners as Lutheran World Federation and Church World Service, in their humanitarian responses to the crisis. These partners provide refugees with immediate support and supplies such as food, blankets, water and hygiene kits. https://community.elca.org/eastern-europe-crisis-response?_ga=2.260284932.800904318.1646771427-473201747.1551876671
Feed My Starving Children - Meals have reached the hungry in eastern Ukraine. Our new distribution partner Mission Eurasia has received and distributed over 272,000 FMSC meals to refugees and families. https://www.fmsc.org/
You are invited to attend a food packing event at the Chanhassen site.
DATE: Monday, March 14, 2022
TIME: 7:00 PM to 8:45 PM
If you have any questions or would like to sign up, please contact Craig Brandt at email@example.com or click here to sign up online.