“I’m a Lutheran” is a monthly profile featuring ELCA members around the world. The profiles showcase ELCA members in all their diversity, connecting one another through individual faith stories as Lutherans. Sentence prompts are provided to each person featured. If you’d like to nominate someone for “I’m a Lutheran,” email megan.brandsrud@elca.org.

Congregation: Christ Lutheran Church, Cottonwood, Minn.
Occupation: Kindergarten through 12th-grade art teacher, athletic coach and artist

I found my faith when I was young in the way of a dream. One night I had a dream that events were happening to me that I couldn’t control. My Lakota grandmother taught me that when I was scared I should say, “Pilamaya Tunkasila” (Thank you, Grandfather/Thank you, God) and remember that God put me in that place for a reason and would make things known to me. I repeated the phrase and the shape that was overtaking me in my dream disappeared.

My first experience with church was when I was very little going to many different churches with my mother as she, an American Indian, would talk about building community relations. I was raised Roman Catholic but we would visit different denominations.

As an artist, I make art a spiritual journey. Every moment I paint, I thank God for the opportunity and blessings he’s given me to be able to see and create art with my hands for other people to see.

I believe God wants us to live a life where we make people happy. I’m very conscious of that and strive to carry that out in my life.

I pray to God first. In Lakota you begin your prayers to God, acknowledging his existence. Then I pray for people who need help, guidance and safety.

I’m passionate about youth ministry because I like the energy and enthusiasm of children. Jesus tells us to have the enthusiasm and humbleness of children, so I think there’s much we can learn from them.

My favorite church memories are from watching my kids be involved in church, whether that be my daughter singing a solo in the choir or watching my son serve as an acolyte.

To stay centered, I pray and paint—mostly at the same time. I do a lot of open-air painting in landscape locations. When I’m out in nature and hearing the Lord’s creatures and all of his wonder, I find it to be the best church there is.

I struggle with trying to remain a good servant when confronted with people who are ignorant or too focused on what they think the problem is. As a person of color in an area where there aren’t many, it can be a challenge sometimes.

My art is a reflection of my life and my journey. My mother’s family wanted her to be a success so they moved her away from the reservation. We would go back to visit, but I didn’t grow up with a lot of the cultural things that my relatives inherently know. My art is my journey to discovering who I am.

An issue I’m fighting for is to raise awareness that we are all God’s people. I share what it is to be Lakota and that we are all human and should celebrate our differences.

My heritage and my faith are one and the same. To be true Lakota means your faith and your belief are paramount to your existence and nothing compares to your reverence of them.

If I could change anything, I would like to have people be more open to encountering others and experiencing something new or different.

I’m a Lutheran because in this church I’ve been allowed and encouraged to ask questions about my faith, which have been welcomed with open and thoughtful conversations about our God.

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