Thank You Pastor Karen

I generally do not do research for my personal blog posts, but took a minute (maybe less) for this one to look up the word Pastor.  I had to look it up because I was curious to see if the definition covered being one’s best friend.

The following shows up as the first listing in my extensive research, a Google search on the word Pastor:

pas·tor

/ˈpastər/

noun: pastor; plural noun: pastors
a minister in charge of a Christian church or congregation
verb: pastor; 3rd person present: pastors; past tense: pastored; past participle: pastored; gerund or present participle: pastoring
be pastor of (a church or congregation)
Origin

late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French pastour, from Latin pastor ‘shepherd’, from past- ‘fed, grazed’, from the verb pascere .

I really did expect that friend or best friend would possibly be the primary definition. That is what my five year old daughter, Ruth, continues to call Pastor Karen Bruins when she asks if we are going to go see her new church.  The answer is yes we will go see her.

Our Pastor, Pastor Karen Bruins, left The Well in Rosemount, MN and moved on to Lake Harriet Church in the last couple of weeks. Besides being Ruth’s best friend she did fulfill the origin of the word Pastor as my shepherd in rediscovering my own faith, bringing my 11-year old son closer to God and Jesus and I firmly believe in guiding us to preserve the foundation of our family together during some of our rockiest times.

Karen was preaching the day our family decided to start going to church together to help us deal with a difficult time. While I was definitely pessimistic about the impact attending church would have on us at the time, I am thankful every day that we found Karen at the Rosemount United Methodist Church, as it was known then.

The church as a community provided much needed time for reflection at the time. Reflection is something that I do daily now, but without The Well I doubt that I would be doing it at all.

We were barely known at the church and Graham was not sure about the whole youth programming thing and didn’t want to be away from us so he would go to services with us.  He rarely sat with us though and instead would go sit with Karen in the front row, who at first I am sure hardly knew who this kid was.  Graham never referred to Karen as his best friend like Ruth does, but he did wear his Boston Bruins t-shirt to church more often than any other clothing. Karen had to get a picture with him the first time he wore it and I think he would have taken that picture every time he wore it.

Eventually, Graham did start going to youth programming and actually all the way through to not having the option for youth programming on Sundays and having to go to services with Mom and Dad. We don’t make every Sunday, but we made sure we were there on Karen’s last day.

While we had known for some time about Karen moving on, I chose not to tell Ruth until the night before her last service. Ruth as expected started to cry and the first words she said as she cried was, “But she’s my best friend.”  Once she knew Karen would be close enough to visit and that we would be able to see her before she left she fell asleep.

The following day at service the line to hug Karen was long and given the amount of patience that runs in the whole family, relatively little, we decided to find another time to see Karen.  It required pulling Ruth out of preschool and Graham out of middle school for a couple of hours, but we made it happen.

She sat and talked with the kids and my heart smiled while all the memories flowed.

From day one of me being pessimistic about church, to the hours I spent playing with the kids in the church community at Kids Camp to being invited to be part of the Wednesday night senior high programming.

I thought about Karen sharing all the stories of her kids, her dogs, her husband and all the memories of the babies she talked about baptizing.  I could see her clear as day carrying the baby and handing the baby off to a member of the church community as part of the baptism. Then memories of her baptizing Ruth who made the decision to be baptized. Ruth’s baptism also marked the day that Karen reconfirmed my own baptism that to me was the moment I was shepherded back to God.

The memories of the discussion that led to my reconfirmation led to thinking about the time that I had spent with Karen in her office talking about my faith. I fondly recalled the invitation to share my story of my faith journey with the church. Then the memory of the last time we met with me sitting with her to talk about what I wanted to do with my own career when I was presented with some decisions. I was really looking for Karen to shepherd me down the right path, but instead she brought out what she knew was already in me.

I was then brought back around to her drive down to see me in the hospital in Rochester. She sat with Kim and I and prayed with us. She gave me my prayer blankey that I held on to with all my might as I sweat through the pain and didn’t really have any idea what the rest of my life held.

As I came back to the conversation she was having with Ruth and Graham, part of me was only momentarily inclined to be sad. However, I went immediately for being happy for everything that Karen brought to me and our family. I also know Lake Harriet isn’t that far away. Hugs and pictures soon followed and as we parted ways I thanked her for helping me on my journey, a journey that she reminded me was not over.

I headed back home and wrote the following:

Karen,

Thank you for being our Pastor, friend (Ruth’s best friend) and for everything that you did to show us the importance of Faith in our lives.  You were there when we needed you and I know that you moving on only marks that you are needed more by someone else.

I value the time that we had you as our Pastor more than words can ever express.  My life, our lives, have meaning beyond what we could have ever imagined because of your caring and guidance.

I hope our continuing journeys will continue to cross paths,

Until Next Time,

Matt Feyen

Ruth and Graham’s Dad

Kim’s Husband

Follower of Jesus Christ re-established April 9, 2018

 

Black, White or Gray. Which would you choose?

Throughout my life I have always been worried when I don’t know what’s coming next. However, in raising the two of you I have become more comfortable with that because kids are about the most unpredictable things in the world.

And puppies…puppies are unpredictable too.  Your new puppy Remi has reminded me of that. You go 16 years without a puppy and you completely forget how hard they are to deal with. Thankfully your mom is about as good as they get when it comes to dog whisperers.

People refer to things being black and white when they are clear. People, including me, love clarity. A clear direction, clear steps on how to get where you’re going, clear plans to how to overcome obstacles that might come up and a clear finishing point. However, life only has one ultimate finish, death. Even death to some is just another journey’s beginning.

When things are not black and white, people refer to them being gray. The definition of gray is a color between black and white. While I enjoy black and white I know that things truly move forward and I have been happiest in my life in the gray.

The two of you make me happier than anything else in this world. You are the grayest of the gray. I have no idea what you are going to do next much less in your lives. What I know you have is potential.

Gray while uncomfortable is where all potential lies. This is true in almost every aspect of life. I not only hope for you that you become comfortable with the gray, but learn to embrace it and seek it out. Expand your horizons and never embrace clarity.

Seek adventure. Seek to always be better. Be better than you are today, tomorrow and ever day.


 

 

Today I am sitting in my Management Principles class at the St Mary’s University of Minnesota still in route to get the degree that I promised Nan that I would get and today I had the privilege of being exposed to a man by the name of Jim Klobuchar (http://www.jimklobuchar.com).

Jim was very entertaining and had lots of great stories to tell, but he repeated a couple of different times, “If there was one gift I could give to you it would be the gift of curiosity.”

It was such a simple statement, but it truly is thought provoking.  I immediately jumped to how closely it matches to the idea of learning something new every day, but in such an elegantly simple way differs in that it is a mechanism to learn that lesson.  Curiosity is such a strong learning tool and I hope the both of you have ample curiosity in your lives.

As for my lesson for today even know I have been doing Yoga for many years and heard the statement before, Jim shared with us the meaning of Namaste.  The meaning of the word is, ‘I bow to the divine in you.’  Such a powerful statement of respect and a wish for another and with that said.

Namaste,

Dad

 

Jim Klobuchar Book

Politics, Religion and The Green Bay Packers

Over the years I have heard it said in different ways and in different situations that if you want to avoid confrontation, argument or heated discussion avoid the topics of politics, religion and the Green Bay Packers.  The third topic is one that I generally do not shy away from especially when around Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears fans; however when it comes to religion and politics I do tend to avoid those conversations.

I keep to myself because even at this point in my life I am not sure what to say about the topics, I don’t hold hard and fast on either topic to what my beliefs are, to some that is an issue.  For me, it’s just who I am.

When it comes to politics I don’t vote along party lines, I have tried to look at what the individual stances of the candidate are and make my decisions based on that.  I fully admit that it becomes more difficult all the time to separate the party from the person, but at least in every presidential election there has been one thing or another that has swayed my vote on an individual.

When it comes to local elections where it has been more difficult to know who the candidates are as individuals, I generally have never voted for an incumbent.  My logic behind this is pretty simple, I believe that a blend of individual perspectives is much better than a continued single stream of thought and I believe that in almost every situation.

A caveat to all of it, if I get a call from any politician after 9pm or they bother me at home they generally do not get my vote.  Some will call that a waste of a vote, but it’s my choice on how I vote.  It’s a right that my Grandpa B fought for and I believe in.

So what else to I believe in when it comes to things of a political nature.  Very simply I believe in individual freedoms.  I don’t have a strong opinion of how much government is too little or too much, because I think every situation and every time may have a different answer.  I would loosely compare this to being your dad, I generally want to let you always make your own choices; but when you don’t know enough about something I need to know that and know when to help you out.  People in general, including me, don’t always know what is best for them and I hope that government realizes where that is the case in situations where they can help.

In addition to the privilege of freedom, I also look for government to ensure our safety.  I’m honestly more concerned about our domestic safety and local law enforcement than the need for us to play the world police, but I’m not sure how the good old US of A can get out of that position.  In the recent years I think that a lot of good has happened from US involvement in foreign conflicts, but I think the cost of all that good has yet to be seen.

Then there’s religion.  I went to Catholic schools from 1st grade through high school.  I stopped going mass regularly when I was 13 years old because I couldn’t get my head around the fact that people felt they could break any of the then commandments and by going into a closet and telling a priest that they did it, asking the priest for forgiveness and then saying a few prayers they were forgiven. I still don’t quite get it and I know I’m oversimplifying, but I’m a simple person.

I also got asked to stop coming to theology classes in 10th grade when I started challenging the interpretation of bible stories based on other stories within the bible.  My theology teacher said that I had the best grasp of the bible that she had ever seen and that I was taking away from her ability to teach the other students who didn’t have that level of understanding.

Both of those things probably would give you the impression that I am anti-religion or anti-catholic, but that’s not the case at all.  Very much like politics I feel people have choices when it comes to religion including the choice to not have one.

Do I believe in a higher power, greater meaning to life, that there is something beyond our time on earth? I kind of hope so, but I want to make the best out of the life I have here on earth just in case there is not. What I think is important was kind of encapsulated in a quote I saw this week:

The quote might lead some to think they have my political and religious stances figured out and that is their choice to think what they want to.

I hope your mom and I give you the freedom to choose and the exposure and experiences to have the ability to choose when it comes to politics, religion and anything else. Although I’ll do everything within my power to hopefully make sure you choose the Green Bay Packers.

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