“I’ve been thinking…..”
Now there’s a line that has been known to strike fear in the hearts of many people throughout my life. Initially, of course, it was my parents who listened the first thirty or so times I came to one or the other of them with what I thought was an intriguing thought or a brilliant idea. When they realized that “I’ve been thinking…” usually meant a challenge to their own thinking or a plan to rearrange furniture, change the way household chores were done, or reallocate the family budget, they grew a little less attentive.
Through the years, I have traveled many places in my thinking and I’ve realized I still enjoy challenging my own and others’ thoughts, often pressing forward with each new great idea that will impact those closest to me as well as those I don’t even know.
Teachers, bosses, employees, colleagues, church leadership and friends have been “graced” with my thoughts. In adolescence and early adulthood, my thoughts and ideas were directed toward identifying and working to correct social ills. My writing was filled with rejection of the status quo and a passion for those on the margins of society. For many years after that I was actively involved in the church as a lay volunteer, creating liturgies, prayers, bible studies, and retreats for my congregation. And I continued thinking. Thinking about things I’d been taught and things that were becoming clearer and more meaningful to me.
At the beginning of my social work career, thinking about engaging the teenagers in Waushara county in positive activities resulted in a publication for teens, a state recognized substance abuse prevention program and a position as director of the project for three years.
Thoughts about strengthening the programming of a youth center in Menasha WI by engaging the participants in governance and policy making resulted in a highly improved reputation with the area United Way agency and increased funding each of the ten years I was their executive director. I also had the opportunity to create training curricula and promotional materials for Career Development Center at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. While working with the Center, I designed an innovative family support project for the university’s Head Start Program and that led me to my career as the executive director of the four-county Head Start Program which wasmy final social work position.
My thinking did not stop after spending thirty years in social work administration. Rather, it intensified, as I studied at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago for four years (including a one-year internship in Walker, MN). I came out of that experience with more ideas than I had time left in my life to implement and a continuing wealth of thought.
I continued to respond to the world around me, and in 1990 my sister and I wrote a book sharing our love for Christmas and all the activities that help us prepare, celebrate and genuinely enjoy a season that many people were fussing about. A year or so later, we created a booklet to guide people through the liturgical season of Lent and Easter. They were fine, copies sold, and people responded enthusiastically, but when I look at them today…well, I think they could have been better; maybe I could have been a lot less smug.
The truth is that sometimes my thoughts were off the wall; sometimes they were too difficult to implement; frequently my timing was off, and occasionally I offended someone. However, I have continued to think, and my dreams have led to innovative midweek worship services, intentional prayer groups, bible studies, retreats, strategies for testimonials and chancel dramas.
On August 1, 2018, Fortress Press (a division of 1517 Media) released my book, Waiting for Good News – Living with Chronic and Serious Illness, as part of their Living with Hope series. It contains researched background information and stories from the lives of people who have lived with chronic or serious illness. Struggling people matter to me and I wrote the book with the desire to provide real-life assistance and support.
I am now working on a book about mental illness with an emphasis on depression and anxiety. I will be trying out some of my ideas on this blog site.
Finally, at least for now, I want you to know this about me. I have strong beliefs, and opinions, and ideas about how I think life would be best lived. And I intend to share them, but not as an expert; not as a dispenser of sage advice; and definitely not as the last word on any subject. Whatever I post will most likely not even be my last word, because I would like this to become interactive. I don’t just like to “think up things.”
I like to learn things. I like to stretch my thinking. There is so much I talk about that I actually know little about. As I share my thoughts, I’d like to hear yours. I’d like to know what you see as a weakness in my thinking and how we all might learn more from yet another perspective.
So, this blog might be a place for you to sound off as well*
*A note about that. I’ve seen too much negativity on social media to encourage it here, so any slams, rude comments, and disrespect for any of God’s creation will not be tolerated. I invite your comments given out of genuine care and a desire to participate in the learning process.