Reformation Evangelical Lutheran Church, Orlando, Fla.
Parish deacon at Reformation and volunteer manager at Cornerstone Hospice in Orange County
I was baptized as an infant, confirmed and married at Reformation. When I was in eighth grade, I became the first girl acolyte in our congregation! I was so proud and happy to serve that way.
Belonging to and growing up in a smaller congregation, many of the members here are like family. Many have watched my husband (whom I met at church) and me grow up, get married and have children. They’ve also watched our children grow up. During tough times, members would come over to pray and bring meals to us. I know I can always count on them if I need anything.
I’ve had many roles within my congregation, including serving on council, but my favorites have been teaching Sunday school and confirmation. I love to make the Bible come to life, making it understandable and relatable to today. I’ve also led several youth groups to the ELCA Youth Gathering. I currently lead the children’s sharing time during worship. I enjoy the challenge to come up with fun, exciting messages that not only hold the attention of a 4-year-old but also the child within all the adults.
For the past 20 years I’ve been involved in volunteer management in the nonprofit world. I like to let volunteers serve in the best area they can provide assistance with instead of telling them what we need done. That helps people be more invested and want to keep coming back. We should all “let our light shine,” and I feel it is a privilege to help people do that.
Currently I manage volunteers in Orange County who visit patients at Cornerstone Hospice. We help families during some of their most difficult times. It is very important that hospice patients live out their last days as best as they’re able. This work really aligns with my faith.
Since I was very young, my parents volunteered, and my sister and I were always involved in giving back, too. I helped for many years in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, even serving as chaplain for my son’s Boy Scout troop. To me, volunteering is a part of living your faith.
I love “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday, and I think everyone should do this every day, not just one day of the year. It is such a simple but important concept: Our hands can do many great things, but many hands can move mountains. Our congregation finds new ways each year to get as many people involved from the congregation as possible. Some years we have done multiple projects.
I hope the ELCA continues to explore how congregations and everyone in our church body can serve our communities and build our congregations back up to create stronger communities.
We should all “let our light shine,” and I feel it is a privilege to help people do that.
The Free Little Library ministry at Reformation was my idea. Two years ago, we designed and placed it by the main road on our property that children pass going to school. It has a bench to relax and three shelves of books—one for children, one for adults and one with religious books. I always make sure we have Bibles available. It is so much fun talking to the people who come and visit, and seeing people take the Bibles.
Every day I pray that others can see Christ in all that I do and say. I pray for strength and wisdom. I pray that I “walk wet”—in my closet I have the dress I wore as an infant when I was baptized. It hangs prominently as a reminder that I have been washed by the waters of God and forgiven so that I may have eternal life.
Cycling gives me peace. A great ride for me would be 50-60 miles. I sing, pray, give thanks, dream and love seeing the beauty of nature along the trails. I have ridden my bike across the state of Florida four different times.
During COVID, I organized a ministry of captains who’d make sure we are in direct contact with everyone at Reformation. Each captain sends cards, phones and relays information to me to keep the pastor informed. It has been such a blessing to keep closely connected during this uncertain time.
I also visit the shut-ins and sick of the congregation. I consider it a privilege to be able to go visit and pray with those who are having a hard time or in the midst of losing a loved one. I love to make and deliver “sunshine boxes” (boxes filled with fun little goodies, snacks, devotional, etc.) as a pick-me-up for those who need them!
Grace promises us that we can trust God’s love for us, with no strings attached. Every day we get a do-over.
I’m a Lutheran because I love being part of a greater church. We are all on a journey of living out our faith each day. I can rely on God’s love and grace to have a new beginning each day, to give praise and thanks to a wonderful God who loves me just as I am!