My Heartfelt Words of Thanks

Where does one begin to say thank you to my sisters and brothers in Christ for so many things? My heart was filled to the brim during my last days with you especially during our final worship services together. Thank you for all of the hugs, the well-wishes, the cards and gifts! What a special tribute they all were. Also, thank you to all who worked behind the scenes to make the sending luncheon a perfect tribute of the same hospitality you accepted me over three years ago. In some way, all of you have touched my life and my heart over our time together. Many of you were my cheerleaders, my encouragers and my prayers. Many of you invited me into your lives in times of joy, in times of crisis, in time of sorrow. To each of you, you have blessed me beyond measure. You invited me to preach God’s Word, preside over communion, baptize, confirm, bury and visit all ages. For all of these things and so many more unmentioned, I am heartfelt and humbly grateful. Thanks be to God!

Thank you to my St. Paul Lutheran family!

My Christ-filled Love,

Pastor Janel Kuester
120 West 5th Street South
Cottonwood, MN 56229

President’s Corner

Moving Forward with a Purpose.

As you are aware the St. Paul Lutheran Council voted in October to transition to one service starting in January of 2018. This decision was made after reviewing everything for the last one and half years and after considering the surveys that were conducted by the Worship Committee and the Synod.  Shortly after making this decision we received news that our Pastor had accepted another call and would be leaving us. In attempting to find an Interim we were advised that the Interim Pastor would also want us to have only one service.  The rationale is simple, we don’t have enough members to support two services. You cannot build community with two services as one of the things the Pastor indicated was that it felt like she had two congregations instead of two worship services. The attendance in the second service has continually been decreasing and we want a service where everyone gives up something to be able to worship together. That is what building community is about and we intend to do our best to make that happen.

As a result, at the November Council meeting it was decided that our new service will be at 9:00 a.m. with Sunday School at 10:15 a.m. and Adult Education at 10:15 a.m. Initially, we will combine the music from the first and second services, and at least once a month, there will be no organ and one Sunday a month there will be no piano (instruments). I am going to ask that you have some grace and patience as this process moves forward. This is not something that is really new, as we already worship this way in the summer.

However, it will result in trying some things before we can determine what works best for the service and the schedules of our music leaders. Mary will take on the responsibility to lead the Choir and the Bells.  As some of you know, the Worship Committee, as indicated in the report below had another proposal for Worship which was presented to the Council at the November Council meeting. The motion died for a lack of second and the Council reiterated its direction that we will be moving to one service in January. The Council requested again that the Worship Committee work on the music for the combined service.

I am also going to ask the Worship Committee to determine whether an additional evening service could be added potentially on a Wednesday or Saturday evening when we would have a meal together at 5:30 p.m. and then worship at 7:00 p.m. There are a number of churches that do this and we will be studying whether this is something that is feasible and would help us to build community.

At the November Council meeting the Council accepted a gift from an anonymous donor for replacement of the Verdin Bell System. We were reluctant to accept the gift for several reasons. We shut off the bells because of neighborhood issues and the bells will need to be removed when we replace the roof in the Spring. We also do not see any money in the budget for maintenance of these bells. However, because we want to continue to encourage donations we accepted the gift with the caveat that the bells will only be used when we have a wedding, funeral or church service. They will not be played during the week except under those circumstances. We want to try and be a good neighbor and a good steward of the gifts we receive.  Hopefully, this will serve both purposes.  As I hope some of you are aware, Pastor Samuel Wolff, will be assisting us with worship, funerals and pastoral duties until December 31, 2017.  The Synod is looking for a candidate who will serve as our Interim Pastor, but that may take some time to get arranged. Please be assured that all functions of the Pastor will be covered including confirmation. Obviously, we will need to extend some grace and patience in this process.  Some people have referred to our situation as being in a storm. I can appreciate how this could be perceived that way, but want to encourage you to pray about those concerns. I believe that not only will we weather the storm, but because we have a purpose of serving God we will be stronger and better as a result of the storm. I know this, none of this would be possible without all of you. If we are determined to move forward with a purpose, God will see us through this storm. 

Finally, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. At this time of the year it is important to remember that our God is the reason for the season. Our church serves him and I hope that together we will continue to build community in the coming years. I am very grateful for your comments and candor as we continue building our community.

If you have thoughts on any of these topics I welcome your input. In fact, as noted we will be discussing some of these topics in upcoming adult forums, and I encourage you to not only attend, but to actively participate in those discussions.

In Christ,

Kevin K. Shoeberg     

December Health Minute
[shared with permission]

I Think there must be Something Wrong with Me!
by Debra Ost

In the classic holiday TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Charlie Brown laments to his friend Linus, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”

Charlie Brown is not alone in his experience of depression at Christmas time - not by a long shot. According to Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “A lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year.” The reality is, "many feel miserable, and that's not only for people with clinical depression."

The “holiday blues” can be caused by a number of circumstances, such as personal grief, loneliness, illnesses of all kinds, economic concerns, current events, separation from family members and relationship issues like estrangement or divorce. The various stressors of the holidays can easily make matters worse. Time, energy and finances are often stretched to the max, and family gatherings can be dreaded obligations. We have the notion that the beautiful Christmas decorations, festive holiday parties and sounds of Jingle Bells should make us happy. But, they don’t. Instead, we’re feeling down, anxious and “blue,” and that makes us even more miserable. These feelings are very real, and, whether our own or others’, they warrant attention and respect. Thankfully, there are some things we can do to manage or minimize our holiday-related anxiety and depression. NAMI offers these suggestions. (For more information about holiday blues and/or mental illness, go to:

  • Don’t worry about how things “should” be. Let go of idealized thinking regarding the perfect family and perfect Christmas.

  • Be realistic. Practice saying “No.”

  • Don’t try to be a superhero. Acknowledge the complex dynamics of your family. Unity and peace may not be a realistic goal. Don’t be a martyr trying to accomplish it.

  • < > Helping others (including animals) is a great strategy, especially if you feel lonely or isolated.

    Keep your own well-being in mind. Give yourself some “me time,” and take time for exercise.

  • Give it some thought. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing things that make me miserable?” Remember you have a choice in how you spend your time, energy and money.

  • Make sure that the “holiday blues” haven’t become a scapegoat. Pay attention to your symptoms. If these feelings persist, there may be another biological or psychological cause for your depression and anxiety. Consult your physician. 

NAMI medical director, Dr. Duckworth shares one additional word of advice. “This is not an easy time of year for a lot of people. Be gentle with yourself.”

In this season of Advent, we long for gentleness and compassion. We find it in our loving God, the one who comes to us in the Child of Bethlehem. This gentle and compassionate God walks alongside us during our holiday blues; accompanies us through the dark days and into the light. And if we should find that our “blues” persist and the darkness doesn’t lift, God will remain with us, for God promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Charlie Brown, I guess all there is to understand about Christmas is the advent of Jesus, Immanuel, “God with us.”  And, by the way, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you.

Debra Ost is pastor of Care Ministries at Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater, MN. She was inspired to address the topic of “Holiday Blues” after attending the NAMI training, “Mental Health First Aid.”  Lakeview Foundation sponsored this educational opportunity for area Faith Community Nurses and other human service professionals.  November 2017


“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.”    3 John1:2 NRSV

Linda Peterson, Parish Nurse Church • Office hours; Tuesdays 9am -2pm
Church phone 651.439.5970; leave voice mail or staff can relay a message immediately


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