Bumping into a Sliver of Church History

This past weekend, we had the great pleasure of joining family and friends – new and old – at the wedding of my niece Leah and her fiancé (now husband) Perek.

It was a joyous, festive ceremony in Decorah, Iowa, at a lovely little Lutheran country church just outside of town. But, of the many great memories that I know I’ll cherish, one that was entirely unexpected was from the informal, noon-time lunch preceding the wedding.

As it turns out, we were joined by the church’s Pastor and, in conversation, he began telling us the story of the church’s unique relationship with a 19th century artist, Herbjorn Gausta.

Before we knew it, we were on brief field trip to the parsonage where the Pastor said he had something special to show us, concerning an extended stay-over by Gausta in the early days of the church. Up to the second floor our wide-eyed guest party climbed, making our way to the guest room of the parsonage where the artist had stayed over 100 years ago.

As it turns out, Gausta had used the original plaster walls of the room as his personal study canvas in preparation for a major work. These original drawings were on all four walls of the tiny room and had been covered up by at least four layers of wallpaper, through the years. It wasn’t until the parsonage received a major remodeling job in recent years that the Gausta sketches, long since forgotten, were discovered in the guest room.

As we all slowly circled the room, there was something of an aura of calm and timelessness. Standing within inches of these drawings, it was easy to imagine the artist alone in the room at the turn of the last century. You could feel his spirit…creating, dreaming, meditating on the serene pastureland he would have seen then, just as we did now, rolling for miles outside the second-story window.

It was a real treat and ever a reminder to keep one’s self open to life’s little surprises each and every day!

Faith-building is a contact sport

The past several weeks, we’ve been producing videos of people from different age groups and backgrounds – Jeff Collier, Michael Watt, Susan Scrupski – to serve as a resource for parents and sponsors to use with your children. The thinking is that when your kiddo won’t listen to you, perhaps they’ll listen to someone else – the more voice, the better.

But the other thing these faith stories have done for us is provide another source to inspire us grown-ups – the parents, sponsors, and other adults whose duty it is to be role models and support networks for the faith formation for our children. We, too, can learn from the stories of others.

A couple of different sources brought the importance of story-telling further to light this that I wanted to share.

First, a report released this week by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the California HealthCare Foundation discussed how people who are fighting chronic illnesses, once they are online, are much more likely to blog or participate in online discussions about health problems. “It’s really literally saved my life, just to be able to connect with other people,” said Sean Fogerty, 50, who has multiple sclerosis and was quoted in the story about the study.

My key takeaway is that often, people with such crippling problems are unable to physically get out to meet with others from whom they can receive comfort and with whom they can socialize and share stories. The internet has become an incredibly valuable tool to connect these people with a sense of community.

Second, an upcoming event notice from Priority Associates caught my attention, because of its basis in a universal story of love, loss, and renewal, as shared by Kristin Armstrong. Kristin is something of an old “sorority sister” for my husband Steve, because he and she were members of the same Leadership Austin class, in 1996-1997. So, we have a fond spot for her and her story.

As the event notice describes, very few of us get to live out our “fairy tale dreams” of our childhood of getting the perfect job, marrying Prince Charming and living in a foreign land.  But Kristin Armstrong did!  In 1997, while working for an Austin advertising and PR firm, Kristin met her “Prince Charming,” world famous cyclist Lance Armstrong.  One year later they were married and on their way to the French Riviera where they lived and he trained for the Tour de France.

Unfortunately, after 5 years of marriage and 3 children, the marriage ended in divorce. Kristin went through dark times, trying to sort out who she was and how to rebuild her life.  Now an author of 4 books, a freelance writer and a marathon runner, Kristin has been interviewed on Oprah, CBS, ABC, and other national TV shows and magazines on how to survive the break-up of a relationship.

Kristin is now forging a new life and will be talking about how she dealt with disappointment, failure and faced the harsh realities of life, and found her true identity.  She’ll be sharing how her faith in God became the foundation that helped her rebuild her life, forgive, and move on.

Man or woman, cute-as-a-kitten or tough-as-nails, no matter who you are, chances are at some point in most everyone’s life, we’ve all felt insecure, lost in our way, and experienced failure or the pain of a difficult relationship breakup, with loved ones, peer groups, organizations, or others with whom we built strong bonds.

The fact is, faith-building is a contact sport, because life itself is a contact sport. You don’t live it alone. Check out our events page to get more of the details about the event led by Kristin; it’ll be a good one.

Using Current Culture for Faith

I had a visit yesterday with one of the Austin representatives of Priority Associates. They and Search Ministries put together a great breakfast meeting a couple of weeks ago – over 230 men before 8:00 am in the morning – to hear an inspiring talk by Dr. David Cook, a professional sports psychologist, talk about his practice with famous pro athletes and his personal mission to spread the faith.

Part of this personal mission for Dr. Cook involves his current quest to bring to life a major motion picture, Links of Utopia. One of the things we’re encouraged by is the increasing sophistication of believers like him to use the culture to witness the good news.

George Barna was among the first during the current internet age to research and document the critical importance of employing music, movies, games, the internet, and other modern media to reach children and young adults, where they spend an increasing majority of their waking time.

We couldn’t agree more. That’s our journey here at Faithkeepers – to equip you with inspiration, recommendations, and resources to give your kids (as well as family, friends and colleagues) a chance to add healthy culture to their lives. It’s no different than adding healthy foods to your daily diet.

Speaking of daily diet, we hope you enjoy another in our series of faith stories, this one shot at an Austin Tex-Mex favorite, Maudie’s with a long-time friend, Susan Scrupski.

In her “day job,” Susan is the founder and chief analyst for the 2.0 Adoption Council. There are few positions that one could have more prominent than Susan’s to put you at the pulse of how companies are using the most ground-breaking technologies to make the products and services that shape our culture.

But, Susan is also a mother, community volunteer, passionate advocate for those things she cares about, with a deep spiritual core that she shares in her story. You can get to know her better at her personal website, “Taking it Personal.”   We hope you are inspired by her thoughtful comments, perhap hearing some situations that are familiar to your own life.  Share it with others and, as  always, let us hear from you!