Lenten Kindness

Josie grew up in Delano, the 4th of six kids. She was baptized and confirmed at Mount Olive Lutheran in Delano, and attended school at Mount Olive from kindergarten through 8th grade before going to public high school in Delano.

I will be eternally grateful to my parents for the opportunity to have God’s Word deeply woven into my daily life. Not only because they provided us the opportunity to learn about Jesus in our daily school life, but because they also lived a life in God’s light and guided all of us kids on the same path.

I loved participating in the yearly Christmas program through my church and school that we performed on Christmas Eve. We would sing Christmas songs and recite the Christmas story. Afterward, we would go home, change into our pajamas and gather around the Christmas tree as a family to open our gifts. We would also do special songs on Good Friday, a Tenebrae service. Both occasions would fill me with emotion. As an adult, I’m still brought to near tears when the children sing with their sweet voices for the Christmas program.

The most challenging yet fulfilling part of my faith journey was the time from my early twenties to mid thirties when I no longer belonged to a church. During this time, I needed to reflect on my beliefs and faith before I felt that I could be a part of a church family once again.

Her favorite Bible verse is Psalm 139, particularly verses 13-14:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…

This Psalm rejoices in the fact that God knows us – inside and out. There is a deep comfort and peace in that knowledge. I get lost in reflecting on how amazing the human form is, what it is able to accomplish with little or no effort, and what it can accomplish when our hearts and minds work toward something.

Her favorite hymn is Martin Luther’s ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’

It has a wonderful way of making me feel safe and protected in God’s hands.

Her mother passed away on Christmas Day of 2002, and it was one of her dying requests that Josie and her husband, Clint, find a new church home. They started attending church at Zion on an occasional basis and then made the decision to become members in November of 2015.

For me, going to church and celebrating Christ on Sundays provides me the opportunity and the inspiration to get my week started on the right foot, spiritually and mentally speaking. I get to spend a some time with those who believe as I do, and to share in the comfort and joy of that commonality. It took us a number of years to get there, but I know that my mom is smiling down on us from heaven that we now have a place to call our church home.

Zion provides a church family to those that desire it, and provides so many opportunities to grow your faith and serve God. It is apparent to me that the staff and congregation are a true church family. This is something I’ve been longing for for most of my adult life. There are endless examples of church staff and congregation members that live to support and enrich our local and global communities with their time, talents and actions. I am truly inspired by the amazing people in our congregation who serve the Lord through their efforts to help others in our communities, near and far.  There is no doubt in my mind that Clint and I wanted to be a part of this type of church family. Thank you to all of those who have taken Clint and me under your wing to make our spiritual experience at Zion such a positive one.

The 4th Sunday Welcome Crew was the first of many places Josie and Clint found to be part of the Zion family.

I credit our involvement to the amazing Sherilyn Burgdorf. Clint and I shared with Sherilyn our eagerness to get plugged in to Zion’s ministries when we became members last year, and she kept her mind and heart open to identify opportunities for us to do so.

This ministry provides Clint and I the opportunity as fairly new members to meet other members of our new church family, and it also provides us the privilege of working closely with some very special people, our Welcome Crew team. Many of them are involved in various other ministries within the church and community, and their stories and efforts are wonderful inspirations to Clint and me.

I feel that hospitality ministry is important at Zion because it is the first step in creating an overall positive and joyful worship experience. I am an Includer at heart, and it brings me joy to welcome others into church, just as Clint and me were made to feel so welcome. Hospitality ministry involves very little effort other than a smile and a touch that can have a meaningful impact on someone’s day. If the light that God has given me can enhance someone’s joy or uplift a heavy heart, I am doing what God intends for me to do.

Josie believes that practicing some form of self-denial can offer a wonderful opportunity to deepen our relationship with Christ.

I’ve participated in forms of self-denial in the past during Lenten season, such as setting aside money to offer a donation, not eating certain foods or beverages…even giving up chocolate! During this Lenten season, I want to focus more on reaching out to others via random acts of kindness. Random for me will still require a bit of planning though! I will brainstorm a list of potential things I can do to have at the ready. I will also keep my heart and mind open to what God may be compelling me to do when an opportunity presents itself. The smallest thing done for someone else has the potential to turn around someone’s day.

Although there is nothing that I could to do to compare with what Christ gave up for me, practicing self-denial provides me the opportunity to be mindful of His sacrifice and to do something that might honor His sacrifice and reflect on all of the blessings that I have in my life.

Josie has also enjoyed delivering Meals on Wheels, has joined the Global Missions Committee, serves on the Sub Sandwich supper team, and volunteers regularly at the Buffalo Food Shelf.

It is another opportunity for me to show kindness and love to neighbors in need, and to connect with the wonderful leadership and volunteers in our community. I also enjoy occasionally gathering a group of friends and family to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children in Chanhassen.

My hope for Zion’s future is that the congregation continues to grow and thrive, and that the work we do together through the Lord continues to serve and support our neighbors locally and globally.

Josie and Clint have been married since 2001 and have two Australian Shepherds. She enjoys being with her friends and family, reading, listening to a variety of music, playing her ukulele with the Wright County Ukulele Club, traveling, and experiencing new restaurants and food. She works at Optum on the Knowledge and Learning team where she helps source training for one of Optum’s large business segments.