St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oak Harbor, Ohio
Elementary general music teacher

Attending church with my mom and grandparents is one of my earliest memories. My grandmother would hold me on her lap and rock me during the church service. Today I still hold this memory close to my heart, as I always felt safe and loved in her arms. One of my favorite memories is learning guitar under the guidance of Mary Windisch. I learned and heard God’s word in a new way and found a way to spread God’s word using
a guitar.

Many people from my church have supported me through good times. When I got married, members helped with every part of the wedding, from planning to decorating to music. I’ve received notes, messages and handcrafted gifts from youth that I have placed around my home. In difficult times, they have listened, stayed with me and prayed. Some of my journey has been difficult in my family and even within the church. In the past five years I’ve learned about my enabling self, and it has taken honest conversations from these same brothers and sisters so that God could continue his work through me.

My church community is where I can grow in my faith, feel supported and be honest with who I am as a child of God. I’m so thankful that God is so gracious to me.

I’m in my 34th year of being an elementary general music teacher. My interest in music started when I began piano lessons in second grade. I was in many music groups and classes throughout my academic years and knew by seventh grade that I wanted to be a music teacher. I found joy when I was making music and wanted others to experience that joy. I like watching children light up when they sing, play an instrument or dance. The joy on their faces when they understand what you are teaching is priceless. I get to watch children grow.

“I like watching children light up when they sing, play an instrument or dance. The joy on their faces when they understand what you are teaching is priceless.”

Deciding how to spend my free time is something I’ve had to learn because usually I fill it up with something to do. I’ve had to learn to take sabbath days. My sabbath time is sitting outside, watching and listening to God’s creative work. It’s using my hands in my garden at home and in the community garden at church, and having coffee with my husband, family and friends.

I pray for many things. I have to keep lists and have learned from a dear friend, Sandy, to stop and pray the moment I’m asked by someone for prayer. I pray that God grants me wisdom on this life journey. Sometimes words escape me and prayer comes in the form of silence, tears or singing worship songs. I believe God knows the prayer even before it’s prayed.

Stories of the transformation of people give me hope. So do children who sing and move from their heart, and colleagues who are positive during times of trial. I know through God’s grace that he isn’t done with me yet, and I’m being transformed daily.

I only exist because of God’s grace. Grace is an action. It’s a gift and given when not expected. It’s the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. … Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

I’m a Lutheran because God placed me here. I believe we are created for God’s purpose alone and are called to serve and bring others to Christ. I truly believe that it’s by God’s grace that we are saved through the love of his son, Jesus Christ.

I’ve witnessed God in my family through many medical miracles that go unexplained. I’ve witnessed God through the transformation of my role at church, as God guided me into a different role that has brought me abundant joy. One of the most prominent times I witnessed God’s presence was at a Via De Cristo weekend—a retreat designed to strengthen and renew the faith of Christians. Through this intense weekend, God spoke to me. His grace washed over me, and I’d never felt as close to God as I did then. It taught me that God is everywhere, just waiting to embrace his children. I’m more attuned to God’s presence in every time and place, especially in silence. This is a new gift.

“You can plant a seed, nourish it and watch it grow into something beautiful and resilient. You can be a servant of Christ anywhere in the world.”

I’ve attended St. John most of my life. When I moved for college, I would “visit” on Christmas, but I wasn’t really attending any church during that time in life. I reconnected with St. John as I prepared for my marriage in 1994 to my husband, Jim. Through our pre-marital counseling, I felt like I was home again.

Throughout my years at St. John, I’ve served as a council member, assisting minister, youth choir director, keyboardist/singer for our praise band and on a communion rotation team for our homebound members. I currently teach seventh- and eighth-grade catechism, facilitate the Prayers, Bible and Jesus group and an adult Bible study, and teach guitar to youth and adults in our congregation and community. I believe God called me to serve, and it’s a small token I can give back for what has been given to me. It has brought me joy to serve, and I hope in return others will see serving as a gift from God to bring others to Christ.

You can plant a seed, nourish it and watch it grow into something beautiful and resilient. You can be a servant of Christ anywhere in the world. I pray for my students and try to model a life in Christ. When students ask, I tell them about my belief and faith in God. I believe young children are very perceptive. Christ knows when it comes from your heart, and many lives are transformed just by showing you care.

One favorite Bible story I resonate with is John 8:1-11. I’ve been on both sides of this story as I have, at times, been the accuser and also the woman who stands at the mercy of the accuser. Jesus reminds us that we’ve all sinned, and he shows us love, not condemnation, for our sin. He reminds us to repent and sin no more. Another passage that has reverberated most of my life is Galatians 5:22-23. God is calling us to cultivate a life that abides in the fruit of the Spirit with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These verses challenge me, and I know that I have to work at these qualities.

Megan Brandsrud
Brandsrud is a former content editor of Living Lutheran.

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