Weekly Uplift-September 21, 2021


A few years ago, after I learned that my birth-heritage is Dutch, Jerry and I took a trip to the Netherlands.  Before that I had always connected to being Norwegian.  My paternal grandmother was born in Norway.  My father was born in Iowa, but he was always just a few breaths away from his ancestral roots.  Grandma Cora taught my mother how to make Norwegians dishes like kumla and lefse.  Dad was a card-carrying member of The Sons of Norway.  We attended smorgasbords, loved to polka, and knew when it was appropriate to say “uff-dah!”

            And then, overnight, I became Dutch.

            In reality, I had always been Dutch.  I just didn’t know it.  But that trip to the Netherlands helped connect me to a part of myself that had been lost.  The innovation and hardiness of the Dutch people resonates with me.  Something about the land pushing back the North Sea connects with my spirit.  And it didn’t hurt that learning to love Dutch food was easy!  Chocolate and cheese.  Pea Soup and pickled anything.  Being Dutch was easy for me.

            When I think about diversity, I don’t think about whether I’m Dutch or Norwegian – two sides of the same coin.  Instead, I think about that mission trip I took to Jamaica.  Our group stayed in the mountains – far from the beaches crowded with tourists.  What we experienced was sometimes difficult: people living in caves, grabbing sheet metal for a make-shift door; children as young as 5 working in the streets of Kingston.

But we also saw the beauty and faith of these people.  On Sunday mornings, worship would last for hours.  Most church members walked miles to attend church.  The preaching and the singing just kept going until everyone had arrived.  And the offering plate kept circling the sanctuary, again and again, until the counting deacon made sure there was enough to pay their meager expenses.

I remember one time standing in line at a Jamaican shop.  I started to get frustrated because the clerk would not wait on me.  Everyone else got to go ahead of me.  And all of those people were locals.  All of them were black.  Suddenly my white privilege humbled me.  THIS is what it’s like.  What it’s like to be overlooked.  What it’s like to be the “other.”  I understood, and I decided to wait and watch, listen and learn.

I’ve never forgotten my brief brush with discrimination.  It was a learning moment.

What part of you has gotten lost?  What resonates with your spirit?  When you are overlooked or passed by, can you use it as a way to strengthen your faith?  To connect with others?

As we explore the subject of Diversity, may each of us have that “woke” moment.  And may we reflect God’s love of diversity in our daily walk.


Pastor Sue

Weekly Uplift-September 16, 2021

Jerry and I went to different Universities.  He’s a Hawkeye, and I’m a Cyclone.  Lucky for me, I’m not that interested in who wins the in-state rivalry.  I like both teams.  I want them to both play well.  I don’t want anyone to get hurt.

Jerry is a Hawkeye.

When I was at ISU, Jerry came to Ames for the Iowa/Iowa State game.  We sat in the ISU student section.  Jerry wore black and gold, and he managed to “correct” the officials when he felt it was needed.  I feared that the students around us, who had been partying most of the morning, would turn on him and things could get ugly.  That didn’t happen.

Instead, at the start of the 3rd quarter, one of the ISU male students decided to take a nap…on Jerry’s shoulder.  Things were much quieter after that.  The ISU student, wearing cardinal red, snuggled up to a person wearing black.  After that, Jerry, not wanting to disturb the young man’s much-needed rest, wasn’t as quick to assist the officials.

However passionate we feel about our teams, the in-state rivalry is typically pretty calm.  It’s all in the name of good fun and good sportsmanship.

On the other hand, I’ve witnessed church board meetings where things got really ugly.  Neighbors and friends were ready to fight to death over the color of the sanctuary carpeting.  In small family churches, grudges can live long after the grave is covered.

How do you handle disagreements?  Are you calm and willing to listen?  Or do you take your grievance to the parking lot?  Do you model neutral language?  And can you separate the problem from the person?

The most poignant part of last week’s football rivalry was the opening ceremony as we all stood together to recognize our commonality.  The flag was raised and hats came off.  The first chords of the anthem were played and voices lifted together to sing about allegiance and unity.

May all of our disagreements be managed with civility and grace.  Because, regardless the color of the jersey we wear, God loves each of us.  And there’s always next year!




Pastor Sue