Saturday, November 14, 2015

We Will Be the Hopeful

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the attack on Paris last night (if not, please read here: So what now? What do we do after a terrible tragedy like this occurs?

Some have taken to scapegoating. And, to be honest with you, I kinda get it. After an event like this, we are shocked to the core. Our humanity forces us to search for answers. What is our answer? How do we respond? As Americans (French, Canadians, etc.)? As Christians (Muslims, atheists, …)? As people bound together by the fact that we’re all human beings experiencing tragedy?

We will be the hopeful. We will BE the hopeful.

1 Corinthians 13:13 reads, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love….” I’m sure you can complete the verse. But I believe these three are the opposite of fear. The fear that tragedies like this create and intend to create. Faith, hope, and love is how we’re called to respond. I believe we are called to be faith. To be hope. And to be love. This can bring us together. This, in time, can heal us.

We will be the hopeful.*


*I am, again, borrowing this saying from my favorite organization To Write Love On Her Arms ( While processing these events last night, this saying was all I could think of. God’s calling me to be the hopeful.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Frequently Asked Question

And now for part one of Frequently Asked Questions (more to come at an undecided later date): what do you do here? I meet quite a few people here at the cathedral and this is one question that I am always asked – usually as a follow up question to “are you a student?” I always respond, no I am not a student. I actually work here at the cathedral. And then come FAQ number one.

So what DO I so here at the cathedral? Well I predominately work with the youth but I truly do a little bit of everything. What does a typical day look like? Well there is no such thing as a typical day for me! There are certain things I do on a weekly basis: youth group, staff meeting, work the welcome desk, fold bulletins, and go to different worship services. But everything else changes depending on what is going on in the cathedral and what events are taking place in Paris.

Here are a few things that I’m currently working on, to give you an idea of what I actually do:
  • Youth group: Every Sunday after church I meet with one of three youth groups. My group consists of students in their last and second to last year in high school. My co-leader, Mary, is currently taking the youth through Sundays’ services to teach them what we do in a service and why we do it.
  • Organize youth activities: The other youth leaders and I have talked about different things the youth can do outside of Sunday’s youth group. I am currently looking into things like camping, paintball, etc. More to come on this.
  • Attend different cathedral events and meetings: Even though I’ve been here for two months, I’m still just beginning to figure out the wonderful things the cathedral is doing. I’ve been to choir concerts, book studies, a Mission and Outreach meeting, a strategic planning workshop, and a few other things that I am currently forgetting.
  • Help plan Thanksgiving dinner: This community includes many Americans and Canadians, so the cathedral hosts a potluck Thanksgiving dinner. I am helping organize this and I may even attempt to cook! (Don’t worry mom and dad, I will have supervision!)
  • Take part in the COP21 march: In December, Paris is hosting the UN’s conference on climate change. The event begins with a march through the streets of Paris. I’m not sure yet what my involvement will look like, but I’ll let you know when I know!
Honestly, the number one thing that I do here is build relationships. That’s what everything boils down to. I’m still finding my place here and ironing out exactly what I do. But for now, this is where I’m at. And I love it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wild Geese

Every Sunday evening, the cathedral holds an Eventide service. It is a more contemplative service and it has become a time for me to center myself. A time to reflect on the past week and look forward to the week to come. But more so, it is a time to be with God and think about things a little differently.

That being said, this service is a little different. More interactive with less ‘bells and whistles.’ Perhaps my favorite part is the first reading. And no, it is not from the common lectionary. It is usually a poem that Canon Mary pointed out could have been a part of the Bible, maybe, if we continued to add to it. The three times that I have been to Eventide, these poems have spoken to me and so, I would like to share this one with you.

Wild Geese – Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

The world offers itself to your imagination. What is your place in the family of things?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hospitality, Part 2

As you might have noticed, there is a part 1 to this blog post. I knew that I wanted to write about hospitality but there were two different things on my heart and I decided that I needed to say both, hence a two part blog post.

It is an interesting time to be in Europe. If you do not know, there is currently a migrant crisis. People are fleeing their countries of origin for many reasons, mainly war and persecution. Everyone in Europe is talking about this crisis but no one seems to know what to do about it. Now, to be honest, I do not know much about this crisis. I am learning, little by little, how dangerous it is for these refugees to get to Europe and I am also hearing a lot about the impact of this incredible influx of people. But I do not have a solution.

So what does hospitality have to do with this migrant crisis? In this Sunday's reading from James, we heard "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:14-17). I think this is incredibly important to hear as we (the countries in Europe and every other country that faces a similar challenge) discern how we react to the people fleeing their homes in search of something better.

I wonder what it would look like if the refugees were greeted with the same welcome that I was. People planned for me; the church here petitioned for a YASC missionary. What would it look like if we invited people in with the open arms that I have experienced? Of course there are challenges, but God calls us to care for our brothers and sisters. We are told that our faith needs action. How are we going to do that?

Now, I do not run the government (thankfully); I have no say in how Europe decides to handle this crisis. But I can say this, these people are human beings that deserve to be treated as such. And I'm going to find what I CAN do to help, even if that means simply donating money and talking about it on this blog.

Hospitality, Part 1

I've been in France for almost two weeks now (can you believe it?!). I'm sorry for not writing sooner but I didn't know what to write about. "My apartment is starting to feel like home." "My lungs feel like they are going to burst when I walk up my stairs" (it's approximately 80 steps up a narrow, winding staircase). These things are true but they are sort of trivial. I've realized that what has really stood out to me these past two weeks is the incredible hospitality that I have experienced in my short time here.

I have been welcomed with open arms and fully embraced. In my first day multiple people came by to meet me and introduce themselves (which staved off jet lag, thankfully). I have heard more times than I can count that people are so excited that I am here. And it has been apparent. People have asked me with genuine concern how I'm settling in and if I need anything. It's only been two weeks and I feel like part of this community.

This is what I imagine Christian community should look like. Genuine excitement and enthusiasm for everyone that walks through our doors. Concern for people's well-being. A sense of being wanted. I think this is what we are all called to.

Oh, and here are a few pictures.

The Cathedral

View from the Top

"My" Tower

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Couple Prayers for the Year

From this moment, I leave in a little under twenty-four hours! An extremely short amount of time. So since I have a lot to do before then (mostly packing), I am going to keep this brief. In an earlier post I asked you all for prayers. Prayers not only for myself, but also for the people I will work with and our ministry together. Here are two prayers, one that was given to me and one that was prayed for me that I would love to share with you. I hope you will join me in these prayers for this year.

This first prayer was given to me for the youth I will be working with in Paris. It is a beautiful prayer and I ask that you pray it with me.

Our Heavenly Father, we lift up to you the youth of our cathedral community. Fill and surround each one of them with your light, and comfort and guide them in their journeys to adulthood.  
We pray that you prepare the hearts of those congregation members you will summon to youth ministry. May they hear the call and feel your gentle pull. Ripen their spirits to step forward as youth leaders, mentors, and special project managers.

As full members of your body, knit all of us connected to youth into a prayerful, supportive organ. That we may find nourishment in You and each other. And that through your unconditional love, we lead the youth to Christ. Amen

Last Sunday, I was blessed to attend church in Waupun, Wisconsin and the newly ordained Deacon Monica asked if she could say a sending prayer for/with me. This is the beautiful prayer she said and again I ask you to join in this prayer for my new adventure.

O God, we ask you to lift up Naomi and keep her under your wing, strengthen her in her service, give her a sense of adventure and raise her up when times get tough. Keep her safely in your care, in Jesus name we pray. Amen. 

Thank you all for your willingness to share in this journey with me! I cannot wait to get started!

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Yesterday I received the exciting news that I will be leaving for Paris on August 25! It is so soon and I am both anxious and thrilled at the same time. However, I am only a third of the way to my fundraising goal and I could use your help!

A year with YASC costs approximately $24,000. This covers insurance (medical, life, and evacuation insurance), travel, visa, immunizations, monthly stipend, and orientation. The Episcopal Church covers $14,000. The Church asks each YASCer to fundraise $10,000, approximately $30 a day. I am asking you to prayerfully consider sponsoring a day, a week, a month. I even created a calendar on this blog (look to the right if interested) so that you can sign up for a specific day. This calendar will remind me to say an extra prayer for you that day. And it's an additional way to keep us connected.
Fundraising is not my forte. But this is a little different because I'm not asking for this just for myself. This coming year I will be serving the church, so at the very heart of it, I will be serving you and others. This is an invitation to join me. You are a huge part of my journey! I will need your love and support this year. But also I would love to share with you what I see God doing. And it would be wonderful to hear what you see God doing!

If you feel called to join me on this journey financially there are two options. You can donate online at or there is an option to use credit cards or send checks (look to the right under Fundraising). Of course, I do not want $30 to be a hang up for anyone. I encourage you to pray about this and give what you can. And maybe your gift can't be monetary. I need prayers more than money anyway. So please, whether you donate or not, pray for me. This year is a dream and it's a fear. I can use all the prayers I can get!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Paris, the City of Lovers (and this Future YASCer)

If you are reading this blog, then you know that I will be spending the next year serving with YASC in some foreign country. But until this point I have not written anything about where I will be going and what I will be doing. Why it has taken me so long to fill you in? I have no idea!

So here it is (drumroll please): sometime in August, I will be moving to Paris! Whhhhaaaaaattttt?!?! Yes, you did read that right, I will be moving back to France this coming year! 

It's crazy and never in my wildest dreams did I expect it! And to be honest with you, I was, in a small way, disappointed at first. Now before you go thinking that I've lost my mind, let me explain. Going into this I fully expected to be traveling to a country that we (at least I) typically think of when we think of missionary work: a country in Africa, Central America, South America, etc - somewhere that I've never been. I was thrilled about this prospect; I love visiting new places. Sure that can be scary and definitely out of my comfort zone, but I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to challenge myself. To rely fully on God and the people I would be meeting there. And almost as important, I would learn to further trust in myself.

And then the email arrived, asking me if I was okay with my placement being in Paris. As I've mentioned, I was shocked. I spent a year studying abroad in France. I visited Paris many times. I am, in many ways (excluding language skills), comfortable in Paris. God, why are you sending me there? So, like I always do when I am confused and questioning, I called my dad. AND HE LAUGHED! Laughed because this is hilarious. I did say I wanted to go back. And now I can never say that God doesn't listen to my prayers! 

I realized through this conversation with my dad and a few others (all of whom laughed when I told them) that God is calling me to Paris for a reason. Maybe God is putting me there because God wants me in a comfortable place so that I can be in more uncomfortable situations. Maybe there is another reason. All I know is that I am meant to somehow further God's kingdom in that community. And I am still going to have to rely fully on God, the people I'll meet there, and myself.

So what will I be doing in Paris? I will be working at the American Cathedral there, working with youth ministry and outreach programs. This incredible church community wants me help to bridge and grow these two programs. And honestly, I couldn't be more excited. I LOVE outreach and I LOVE working with youth. God knows what God's doing. And even though I was slightly hesitant at first, I cannot wait to get started!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Wisdom Teeth and Jesus Taking the Wheel

I don’t consider myself a “control freak” but as I am approaching my imminent wisdom teeth removal I am beginning to rethink that label. Tomorrow I am getting three teeth surgically removed and I am dreading it. Why though? People have this done all the time. You can go on Youtube and watch videos of people still loopy after they had this surgery. So why does this terrify me? Theoretically (and I pray it’s the case), I won’t feel a thing. I have tattoos and piercings that were probably more uncomfortable to receive. But, I realized, I was in control of those situations. Sure someone else was holding the needle, but I was saying what I wanted, where I wanted it, and, ultimately, I could stop the whole process if I wanted to. I was in control.  

I understand that labels do not truly matter but as I was hashing all these thoughts out, I asked myself “how does faith play into this?” Now, not necessarily how it plays into my wisdom teeth removal (though I am putting A LOT of faith in those doctors), but how does faith and this want for control work together? I know that as human beings this is something we struggle with. Why else would there be some many references to “Jesus taking the wheel?” We all want control but the beauty of faith is that we don’t need to be in control. We have a loving God who is always beside us, before us, within us. To continue the cliche and slightly annoying metaphor, we just have to ask God to take the wheel. This is obviously something that I am not good at. But God knows that. In Jeremiah Gad says, “for I know the plans I have for you….” I feel like that God is talking directly to me through that verse. God KNOWS the plans that God has for me, plans that give me hope and a future. So I can work on relinquishing control.

Maybe I am a “control freak.” And this is definitely something I’m challenging myself on. But I can rest easy tonight knowing that God has a plan for the loss of my wisdom tomorrow. But please still pray for me! Cause even though I know God’s got this, having teeth surgically removed still terrifies me!