Changes in the family

A number of years ago I went to a pastor’s meeting where the presenter was talking about stress.  I don’t remember who the speaker was, but he made two points that stuck with me.  The first was that every organization or group needs a certain amount of stress to grow.  He called this positive stress.  The second point was that positive stress feels exactly the same as negative stress.  A person’s heart rate quickens, the palms may become sweaty, and the fight or flight response can kick in.

I thought of positive stress this morning as I drove into the church parking lot and saw several family dramas playing out in real time.  Today is the first day of the preschool run by the local YMCA in our church building, so a variety of cars and pickups were overflowing with bright backpacks and scrubbed three year olds.

As I drove into my parking space a mom was taking the traditional first day of school photo of a smiling girl dressed all in pink.  A few spaces down a family dog stared anxiously as his master and child disappeared through the  church door.  Today was another momentous day for these families.  Stressful — yes.  Good — of course.

We pray today for the gift of the positive changes in life that bring their own brand of stress.  May we be like the apple tree that produces under the loving pruning of its caretaker.

Pine Ridge Pilgrimage

The following are two reflections from two CLF’ers who went to Pine Ridge with a Social Ministry Team sponsored trip on Saturday, August 14, 2010…

On Saturday, August 14th, the Social Ministry Team sponsored a cultural experience to the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Reservation.  We met at 6:30 am at the parking lot at the library.  Before boarding the rented van, our leader, Sharee Johnson, led our group of 15 in prayer to the four directions.  Our trip was blessed from the moment we began until we returned at 9:15 pm that evening.

Sharee shared her vast knowledge of Native American culture the entire trip. We were greeted at Wind Cave by the buffalo, deer and elk.  Sharee related the Native American story of how the buffalo returned to the Black Hills through the blow hole in the earth.   A tour of Prairie Winds Casino was made to check on the Lakota economic development project.

Our next stop was the Red Cloud Indian School’s Heritage Center where we were able to view amazing artwork at the Red Cloud Art show.  We walked to Red Cloud’s grave and toured the new church.  Our tour continued to Pine Ridge. After a meal at Big Bat’s and a drive through of White Clay, we took the WELCA school kits to the Pine Ridge Retreat Center (pictured here).

Wounded Knee was our next stop.  Sharee shared stories of the massacre at Wounded Knee . We had viewed pictures of the massacre in the Heritage Center at Red Cloud and you could actually imagine the horrors that took place at this hallowed space.  We walked up the hill to the cemetery to pay our respects.

Sheep Mountain Table was next on our itinerary.  The trip to the top of the mountain will be remembered by all, especially the four in the back seat of the van.  It is hard to describe the breathtaking view from the top of Sheep Mountain (the group is pictured here with Sheep Mountain Table in the background).  You might think you were in another world.  The sunset was viewed coming across Red Shirt Table.  The sun was setting behind Harney Peak and it was a spectacular sight.

The stories, the people, the places, the topography and the conversations made this a very memorable event for us all.  It is a personal experience I will remember forever.  Many thanks to our bus drivers, Pastor Kent and Gary Williams, and a very special thank you to Sharee Johnson for leading us on this quest!  (written by Karen Schleining)


On Saturday, August 14, fifteen CLFers shared an unforgettable pilgrimage with storyteller and guide Sharee Johnson. Here is my reflection on the experience:

Blow. creation’s cave winds, blow;
Bring forth the buffalo and deer and elk.
And know we are all related.
View the creative energy of native artists at Red Cloud,
Near the grave of the great chief,
And ponder the path to peace with integrity.
Weep with the spirits at Wounded Knee,
Where those already having surrendered
Were massacred, left in the snow to die
And know that part of us died with them.
Pray, people of God today;
Stand in the sacred circle
Before beginning the journey,
At the mass grave,
Above the eroding landscape
  below Sheep Mountain Table,
And know, as at creation,
We are all related.

Dwight W. Vogel

Joy in Africa

Nina Joy is one of the former youth directors at Custer Lutheran Fellowship & the Custer Youth House and just graduated from Luther Seminary.   Nina recently left for Cape Town Africa (pictured here at the airport on “departure day,” August 19, 2010) and will be there for several months learning about the people, the history and the Christian church in Africa.  You can follow her travels on her blog by clicking here: “Exploding Joy”.   We’ve also added a link to our “blog roll” or you can sign up for an email reminder every time there is a new post.  Traveling mercies, Nina!

Rap Group without a rhythm machine

We get interesting questions about Rap group from people who aren’t familiar with Custer Lutheran Fellowship.  I have been asked if we have people who get together to Rap with the hip hop rhythms and rhymes.  I have to tell them no, even though I’m sure hip hop would be welcome at Rap group events.

A generation ago “Rapping” was slang simply for hanging around with your friends and talking.  We keep the name out of habit, but it is a pretty good name.  Rap group does a wide variety of things, but I guess you could say that talking is still pretty high on the list.

Recently I ran into a blog entitled More Than Dodgeball.  You can click here to see it. It is one church’s high school ministry blog.  It is hard to beat dodgeball, but it is true that high school ministry is about more than getting together and throwing a ball around.  I have found that high schoolers could teach adults a class about evangelism.  They invite friends to just about anything, church included.  You don’t have to look far for a spirit of joy and adventure in high schoolers — the more difficult the task, the more people who will sign up.  An acquaintance of mine who is a youth minister in Fargo just returned from a mission trip to Haiti this week.  In his Facebook status he wrote that he was “driving 550 miles in a 15 passenger van from Chicago to Fargo with 15 people in it … half of them are crazy sick.  This should be interesting.”  That was their ride back from the airport.  The entry is followed by photos and stories about the what a wonderful experience it was.  Explosive diarreah and wonderful trip are two phrases that don’t usually go together, unless it is a high school mission trip.  Interesting.

I’m looking forward to Rap Group gearing up again for the fall.   Here comes the shameless plug.

URGENT MESSAGE FOR ALL 9TH – 12TH GRADERS.  You are invited to an overnight retreat at Outlaw Ranch on Saturday, August 28, 2010 beginning at 2:00 in the afternoon and ending before church on Sunday morning.  Come and enjoy some of those old songs you learned at camp, experience the new “eliminator game” that has become the rage at camp this year and be a part of planning out next summer’s  mission trip as well as learn about education, faith development, and social events for the coming school year.  Parents and families are invited for supper on Saturday evening at 5:30 at Outlaw to be part of a blessing ceremony welcoming your family into the new school year.  A lot changes happen in families from year to year during high school, and the church would like to offer a blessing to you as the new school year begins.  There is no cost to participants for this event.  The expenses are being picked up as a part of a generous memorial gift in honor of Gloria Schaffer.   RSVP to Pastor Tom through the Custer Lutheran Fellowship Youth and Family facebook page, sign up in the narthex, or text Pastor Tom at 440-2784 (please don’t text him during the sermon today. ) You are welcome to bring friends along whether they are CLFers or not.