Staff Thoughts

D.J. Reflects on One Year at Gloria Dei

Dear Gloria Dei Community,

It’s been a year! I’ve been privileged to get to know many of you in our community through my role as Youth Coordinator. Coming to Gloria Dei fresh out of college, I’ve learned much from youth, parents and those I’ve interacted with throughout these past twelve months. I’ve often compared my first year in ministry to driving stick: it takes some time to get used to learning how to get started. And once you do, you then learn the right times to drive in the right gear, just like how to manage the natural ebbing and flowing of the church world.

Kicking things off with a memorable trip to the Youth Gathering in Houston where our bus broke down both ways (duct tape really is the handyman's secret weapon), I went straight into 6th gear, starting to build relationships with our high schoolers and the adult chaperones. Returning to Gloria Dei, things slowed down a bit, as they do with limited summer programming, and it felt like I was back trying to get started again--sometimes stalling at the intersection. September came and I shifted back into 5th gear, riding in that range through the beginning of programming, our fall retreat to Valley Scare and doing contact work at fall sports and musicals. Christmas brought things back to 6th, then the New Year came and with it came learning how to get started again. After trying things like a Bake Off, a rock climbing night at ROCA and a homework study night, the Auction came (after being rescheduled a couple times--thanks snow!) and I was back into 6th gear through Easter to our end of the school year picnic.

My first year at Gloria Dei has been a great learning experience as I continue to grow into this role and find out more who God has called me to be in this community, on this staff. Little did I know when I started here after graduating college that I’d be where I am now--beginning year two, having experienced all that happens inside and outside of these walls, within and without my role as Youth Coordinator. Preaching, joining our Synod’s AMMPARO team, sharing some of my experiences with y’all (“y’all” being a lingo I acquired in North Carolina) and even getting engaged have all been blessings in my life. Thank you for your continued support of Gloria Dei, our CYF program and my ministry with our high school youth!

With much joy,


Krista Celebrates One Year at Gloria Dei

Krista Celebrates One Year at Gloria Dei

by Krista Monson

When celebrating a “birthday person,” one of my favorite traditions is to ask them to share two highlights from the past year and one or two things they are looking forward to in the new year. June 4th is quite a significant day in my life. Not just because it’s my birthday, but it is also the day I started working at Gloria Dei. This year, I celebrated my birthday and the annual anniversary of being a part of Gloria Dei. So my response to a highlight from the past year was joining Gloria Dei!

Reflecting on the past year and my first year here at Gloria Dei instantly brings a smile to my face. I have met fantastic people. I have gotten to know youth and witness their growth inside and out. I am amazed and humbled to play witness to their questions, wonderments, and senses of humor. I laugh a lot here! My heart is gladdened to call people by name. I know them! Plus, sharing our stories and sharing in The Story.

I really appreciate hymns and have some favorites that date back hundreds of years. One being I Love to Tell the Story. It instantly transports me to standing on the pew between my grandparents, proudly holding onto the heavy hymnal, singing aloud in my Kindergarten voice that didn’t fully know the words, and listening to the clear voices surrounding me in song.

Stories and memories have been created with the Gloria Dei youth and community. Whether it be being mistaken as the mom of five seventh grade girls on a summer trip, “Wow quintuplets!”, or utilizing my Harry Potter knowledge to tame a wiley kid at VBS; the chance to sit with a sixth grade small group as they share the intense issues they face in middle school, or listening to a parent share current joys and concerns of his or her family; I am constantly awed and humbled by my opportunity to grow and learn alongside you.

In one year, we have shared many stories. I look forward to sharing more. I look forward to more moments when a child hears a Bible story and their eyes go wide in wonder. I look forward to unpacking The Story with middle school Confirmation students and connecting how it relates to us now. I look forward to sharing in experiences and building memories that become our shared story. What a blessing of connection we have here. I am so blessed to be a part of it.

Confirmation Year in Review 2018-2019

What a year! The last night of Confirmation this year was cancelled on Wednesday, April 10th due to snow and weather. Quite a reflection on the oddball weather we experienced throughout the year. We still got many chances to connect, learn, laugh, and worship together. Water’s Edge worship is our large group time. Many stories were shared this year. The four seasons, the greatest gift I have ever received, Aha Moments, and Love in Lent (aka Get on the Bus!), and more.

Highlights include: small group time, Christmas party, creative and fun LABS projects, silly gifs in the announcements, and service projects. A big thank you to all volunteers who helped make this year happen: service project leaders and small group guides! These caring adults make the Confirmation community a fun and awesome space to learn and grow.

This was my, Krista, first year on staff and involved with Confirmation. I had a blast! It has been a blessing getting to know everyone. Next year I look forward to more Water’s Edge worships, guide huddles, LABS, service projects and small groups; as well as the addition of retreats! Keep your eyes and ears open for the 2019-2020 Confirmation calendar and updates this summer!

Thanks for a great year! Check out the Family Hubs’s photo gallery for some snapshots of this year’s events and captures.

Good Minutes Holy Week & Easter

Good Minutes Holy Week & Easter

In case you missed them, here are the Good Minutes for Holy Week and Easter!

Good Minutes is a time to gather the family, watch, learn, and wonder together. Krista shares about beginnings, endings, and middles reflecting on Holy Week. New Year’s, the school year…so many moments in life have a beginning and ending, and it’s what happens in the middle that shapes those endings.

Easter is celebration and light! Jesus is the Light of the world and the darkness cannot overcome it! Krista engages viewers to find the light and how light always prevails over darkness.

Week 6: Freedom and Liberation in Love

by D.J. Chatelaine

Growing up a part of Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna, Good Friday arrived each year with a reenactment of Jesus’ ministry, from Baptism to crucifixion, during an outdoor theatrical production put on by talented church volunteers. I vividly remember being shy and somewhat afraid of “Jesus.” Maybe it was because I knew what was to come--brutal trial and crucifixion--and wanted so badly for that one moment to turn out differently, much like anytime you revisit a book or movie whose plot you know by heart. In the trial before Pontius Pilate, the crowd, which had just praised Jesus with shouts of “Hosanna!” now yelled, “Crucify him! Crucify him! We want Barabbas! Crucify him!” I would remain silent, hoping that it would somehow prevent the inevitable, familiar ending from occurring. But every year, Jesus would be nailed to the cross. Feeling weighed down by his death and seeing many people crying or holding back tears, I wondered what could be done to prevent this from happening again--what could we do to be better? Could my actions make a difference? What if we all loved each other as ourselves and treated each other as God’s children? Could we somehow invent time travel to keep Jesus from standing trial under Pilate and send him to a place far away from Jerusalem on that “Good” Friday?

As I came to understand through the years, nothing we do can change this outcome. Jesus sacrificed himself so that we may be free from sin, free from the worries of the world, free from being trapped in a society that tells us we’re not good enough, we’re not valued as much as the other more important, more popular, more successful, more famous people. This act of love is radical and transformative. This is God’s Grace. This Grace through Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection points to liberation and freedom. It points to lifting up the voiceless, the oppressed, the poor, the othered, the kid left alone at the lunch table, the classmate afraid to speak up, the one left out from the cool kids club or team or any social clique. And it frees us from selfishness and sin, making our relationships with God and the neighbor central to our lives.

This love is what Jesus stressed in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), this love for the neighbor is what Jesus lived when he welcomed the othered of his society into his ministry, this is what Jesus did by overturning the tables at the Temple and refusing to submit to Cesar, the ultimate authority in the Roman world. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’ your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Jesus went to the cross and died as the ultimate act of love. We’re all in this crazy thing called life together, so we might as well live out this commandment to fully accept Jesus’ loving act. Freedom and liberation in our individual lives happens when we look out for our neighbor. And when we turn away from our neighbor, God’s Grace holds us close, ready to teach us to forgive and learn to love more deeply and fully, as God loves us.


Who is your neighbor? How do you love your neighbor? How do you feel when you look out for someone else? How does standing up for what’s right relate to loving your neighbor? How does doing so make both you and your neighbor feel? Is there a feeling of freedom in this action?


We’re part of a broken world, with a society built to flourish on injustice and inequality. Think of one action you can take this week to help take a step towards realizing those promises of freedom and liberation. Maybe it’s as simple as conserving energy by turning off a light when you’re not using it or reusing a grocery bag. Maybe it’s talking to or looking out for the peer excluded in class, at lunch, at recess, at work. Maybe it’s doing a random act of kindness. Maybe it’s catching up with that friend you haven’t spoken with in a while. Maybe it’s writing a letter to your representatives. Or maybe it’s being curious and asking questions about why we live the way we do.

Week 5: Love in Growth & Transformation

Love in Growth & Transformation

Written by Krista Monson

New growth is exciting! It is happening right now outside our doors. Green is starting to sprout up from the ground, and seedlings are sprouting as well! Hooray!

We experience growth too. We take our first steps, we lose teeth, we learn to ride a bike; no matter how old we are, we keep growing. 

Growing can be difficult too. Growing pains are experienced by our bodies aching and hurting as we stretch taller and bones grow. In order to get a new tooth, we first had to lose one. Losing a tooth can be scary and hurt a bit. But it doesn’t last long! Soon a new tooth grows and maybe you are rewarded for losing a tooth and growing.

Same goes for moments that happen in life. Painful or scary moments may happen only for a little while, but we still get nervous about them. We try to avoid feeling pain. Doing our best to protect ourselves from it. When it happens, we can get upset and frustrated. We tried so hard to avoid these moments! Why do they still happen?

That is where love comes in. Pain and fear are facts of life. They cannot be avoided. The blessing experienced in those moments is the opportunity to learn and grow. We need to express love and care to ourselves in those difficult moments. It is okay to be frustrated. It is okay to need to take a pause or a break to unpack and sit with these hard moments; to take a deep breath and let ourselves feel. It is important to share love with people close to us feeling these frustrations too. Showing them care and giving them support.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
— Romans 5:3-5


A great way to help with transitions and tough moments is to take care of yourself. What do you do to show yourself love? Is it treating yourself to something delicious? Taking a bath? Taking a nap? Doing a favorite activity? Having quiet time?


Try something new. A new place to eat, a new hobby, a new book, etc. Pay attention to yourself. How do you feel beforehand? How do you feel while trying something new? What do you learn?


Share as a family, or ask someone close to you who has known you a long time to reflect with you, about times in your life that you have grown (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally)? Share your own moments or highlight other’s that you have witnessed.

Week 4: Love in Darkness

by D.J.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a fan of darkness. I can vividly remember pitch black nights spent alone in my childhood bedroom, where I imagined I was someplace else--usually warm, sunny and with the ones I loved. I learned to fall asleep as fast as I could, so that the light and promise of a new day would come sooner. In the darkness, my greatest fears confronted me--losing my parents & sisters, not being cool enough to fit in at school, not being good enough or smart enough or attractive enough or liked enough. My mind would race through these many scenarios of hopelessness and unworthiness, pretty ridiculous looking back now, knowing that the people who loved me more than anything in the world and always reflected that love were only a bedroom away. Darkness came with a sense of uneasiness, uncertainty and worry.

Coincidentally or not, “Beware of Darkness” is one of my favorite songs, written by George Harrison. Darkness, to George, is associated with false voices, greed, people who wrong you, pain, self-doubt.This song, like many cultural references, paints darkness as a bad thing. I’d have to agree with that idea, from many life experiences beyond being afraid of the dark as a little kid: pneumonia that left me hospitalized, the deaths of close family members, rejection, toxic friendships and relationships, crises of self-confidence, feelings of loneliness, bullying, injuries and frustration. Yet at the same time, I repeatedly find myself searching for hope amidst the darkness. Hope of a better future. Hope of little pain. Hope of healing and forgiveness. Hope of reconciliation. Hope for a world where all are loved as God’s children. Hope for the light of a new day to get back up and get after it again.

Pain, darkness and suffering are things no one really likes. In fact, we go to great lengths to avoid the three at all costs, fearing their return to our lives. What if, in this Lenten season, where we witness darkness turn to light, marked by the lengthening of days and the reminder of Jesus’ resurrection, instead of fearing darkness, we hope for and look to that new light to arrive in our lives? I’m not saying to go ahead and embrace darkness and all its toils and troubles, but instead, recognize that like the seasons, it’s a natural part of life. By bewaring darkness, or “being aware” of it, we can recognize life for what it is and bring the light of God’s love to those places where all other lights seem to go out.


How does darkness make you feel? Are you like me and uneasy, or are you attracted to those hours? It’s difficult to talk about dark places or thoughts or feelings in our lives. Are you one who internalizes and self-processes these things or do you have a friend, family member, mentor, loved one or someone else you share these thoughts, feelings and experiences with? What are some things you do to bring light or joy or even laughter to dark places/moments in your life?


Check-in with yourself to notice how you feel when the lights go off at the end of the day. Are you looking forward to tomorrow? Are you afraid of the dark or what’s to come? Or are you so exhausted that your mind is able to shut off right away? The next morning, check in as a family how everyone felt the night before.

Week 3: Love. What do we expect?

Love. What do we expect? -Written by Krista Monson

Let’s face it. We love to be loved. We need to be loved. Many times we want to be loved in specific ways. Our hearts may be just a bit happier if we got a hug, or if someone we love sent us a nice text or phone call. Maybe a bad day would be brighter if we spent some time with a friend or someone close to us. When we do not experience love in a way we want or expect, we tend to feel more lonely, isolated, and even disappointed in the people close to us.

We all show love in different ways. There are different love languages. Five to be exact, according to Gary Chapman’s work. Five ways to show/speak love: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Quality Time. The 5 Love Languages highlight that there are specific ways people tend to give and receive love. Think of a bad day; perhaps one that you have had recently. What did you need to get better? How could someone have helped you feel better? What does that show about how you like to receive love? Now, reverse it. How do you like to show others love when they are experiencing a hard time?

A fun way to consider the 5 Love Languages!

A fun way to consider the 5 Love Languages!

1 Corinthians 13 shares that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” We can get caught up in how we expect to be loved and miss seeing love around us. We also can feel burdened by the expectation we feel to show love and not experience love in return. Or some of us even neglect to let others help or show us love! 1 Corinthians is an invitation to release our expectations on love. To allow the unexpected and communicate to one another through love and compassion.

Time to Chat.

Which do you think is your top love language? What ways do you like to receive love? For example, I like hugs. Which way do you tend to give love? I am a helper, so I tend to give acts of service. Is it the same language of giving and receiving for you? Want to learn more about the 5 Love Languages and take a quiz to learn yours? Kids, teens, couples, and singles can all take a quiz here.


Take what you have learned about love languages and apply it through a random act of kindness this week! That’s unexpected! We need to learn and challenge ourselves to continually show love to others. A great way by doing this is random acts of kindness. Try using words of affirmation and leaving a kind note for someone in your family or a stranger. A post-it note or small note of encouragement can go a long way! Acts of service can be helping a neighbor clear their sidewalk of ice or picking up litter. There are multiple ways to show love! Choose one language and try to “beef up” your skills and show love all week.

Week 2: Love is in the Quiet Moments

Love is in the Quiet Moments

By D.J. Chatelaine

I love to keep myself busy. From training for and running three marathons to cooking and baking or making music in my “downtime,” in addition to working and pursuing my other passions and curiosities, I do without ceasing. Scheduling my days around eating, sleeping, working and these hobbies, I find that I can thrive for a time in this fast-paced, demanding routine I self-impose. But also, I find that when I burn out, it usually involves extreme fatigue, some sort of cold or injury and little to no desire to do anymore or anything else. Although I’m still figuring out the balance in my life, I find the times that I’m still--that is, the times I pause and rest--are most life giving.

One of my favorite places to be still is in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. I’ve been just about every other year since I was 12 years old, and even though it’s a bit challenging to be in the wilderness for a week at a time, having to carry everything you need--food, clothes, shelter, cookware--with you over rugged trails and paddling through choppy waters, the time I’ve spent there has been some of the most life giving. For it is in the moments of stillness, where there’s nothing to do besides laying on a sun-soaked rock, listening to the loons calling, the wind blowing through the mighty branches of ancient trees and seeing islands of trees rise out of the sky blue waters, that I feel at peace--one with God, nature and everything around me. The worries of the outside world and my life leave me for this moment in time and I can fully be present in creation and my being.

Moments like these are meant to be temporary and shouldn’t last forever, as the work we are called to do is important and life giving in its own way. Yet at the same time, these moments of stillness and solitude reflect a great love. A love that helps me renew, reset and recharge for what’s to come once I leave the Boundary Waters. Where is your Boundary Waters experience? Where is your moment or place of stillnes? Perhaps it’s on a beach, or at home, or in a forest, or with those you love. In this Lenten season, take the time to practice or simply remember those moments of stillness. For it is in that very stillness that love shows up.

Time to Chat

Car conversations for me growing up were some of the richest moments I had with my parents and sisters. From checking in on each others’ days to my dad and I listening to music on the way to school every day, this time together was a chance to reset for the day to come or decompress from the day that was. How can these moments of detachment and time together offer an opportunity for you and your family to check-in and talk about where you’ve found stillness today?

Challenge and Activities

Teens and Adults: Julie Stevens, our Director of Contemplative Practices, has assembled a Lenten Mindfulness Meditation Challenge. I’ve used this moment of stillness to center myself for the many tasks and events to come each day. Mindfulness makes every moment feel that much more full, intentional, present and meaningful. If you haven’t already, your challenge for this week is to find a time—perhaps in the car, at the breakfast/dinner table or right before bed—to go through one of Julie’s 5-7 minute meditations. Here’s a link to the mindfulness challenge.

Children and Families: How do you build quiet time into your day? Do the kids read or have screen time to instill some quiet? Maybe they quietly play on their own. This week, try something new: quiet circle time! Sit on the floor, chairs, or around the table in a circle as a family. Challenge yourselves to 1-2 minutes (or more if you want) of quiet breathing together. Sit comfortably, play some quiet music (google “yoga music” for options), close your eyes, and be still for those 1-2 minutes. Doing this together is a fun way to challenge each other for a quiet moment as well as build a bonding moment in breathing and being mindfully centered together.

Week 1: Love in Lent

Love is a verb.

There are three types of love: philos, eros, agape.

As families, we are familiar with philos, family love, brotherly love, friendship. Philos is that shared admiration for those who accompany us through life. Those with which we spend time.

Eros is romantic love. It is rooted in the strong way we feel around those to whom we are attracted.

Agape is unconditional love. This love is not based on merit of the person loved, but rather unconditional and based on them as an image bearer of Christ. This love is kind and generous. It continues to give even when the other is unkind, unresponsive and unworthy. It only desires good things for the other and is compassionate. [Huffington Post]

Love, especially agape love, is going to be our focus throughout Lent. Every week we will have a new blog post sharing about another way to consider love in this Lenten journey. So bring the family together and get ready to share stories, activities, and conversation about how we express, experience, grow, and learn in love.

Time to Chat

Where do you experience love? Who shows you love? How do they do that?

Photo Challenge

Where are you experiencing love? How does it show up in your day? Love is shown in many ways. It was seen in random acts of kindness this past week with people coming together to clear snow! Perhaps you have experienced it in someone sharing a kind word, or a memento of a loved one reminding you of a love you can experience over and over.

We want to know your stories! Capture love via photo and post it with the hashtag #gloriadeilove to your social media throughout these next weeks of Lent. Let us be mindful to look for love within us and around us every day.

Left: Love is an encouraging note from my sister in the mail! #gloriadeilove

Right: Love is being reunited with my German host brother, Lukas, after four years apart. #gloriadeilove

All the Feels- by Krista

All the Feels

by Krista Monson

My mother said something to me when I was young that has stuck with me for decades. “Emotions are valid. It’s your attitude that is your choice.”

She constantly reminded me, and still reminds me today, that there is nothing wrong with feeling angry, frustrated, sad, upset, jealous, or disappointed. Those are emotions. Feelings. Every single one is completely natural. The choice we have is what we do with those emotions; especially when interacting with others. As a child, when I chose harsh words and actions towards my siblings to reflect my feelings, I was rewarded with a time out. Time to reconsider my attitude and actions. Time to take a break, breathe, and make a new choice.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James 1:19b

Decades later, I still practice choosing my attitude amidst days of emotions. A common phrase a friend and I use is “All the Feels” to express how overwhelmed we can be by the sheer number of emotions we experience in a day. It can be tiring. It can leave us not knowing how to proceed. I take comfort in the reminder that emotions are valid and I can take a time out to breathe, pray for patience and guidance, and consider my attitude and how I interact with the world.

Stars- by D.J.


By D.J. Chatelaine

Many of my earliest memories are as a two-year-old, head always looking up. Because I was a sapling amidst a forest of family members, as the youngest, I naturally had to look up to my mom, my dad and my sisters. I don’t know if all that skyward gazing made my neck sore, but what I do remember is being transfixed by what was going on in the sky: vibrant rainbows that came after tremendous thunderstorms, clouds wispy like frosting and others that looked like mountains towering over the Minnesota plains, orange sunrises and purple sunsets, a sky full of stars on a crisp winter evening.

Winter nights can be difficult: seemingly dark and endless, it makes our troubles, worries and sorrows that much greater. I can think of many nights where all lights go out in a sea of ink. We can get easily lost and wonder if the sun even exists. Yet, you look up and see a single star shining in the night sky. Like that star, each one of us reflects God’s beauty through our individual inner lights: your personality, your passions, your gifts. When we bring those individual lights together as a community, something amazing happens: our sky is lit up by endless stars, a sky so light that we wonder if the night is real. This New Year, hold onto that inner light and share it with the world around you: your friends, your family, your peers, your co-workers, people you love, people you don’t. Let’s be a sky full of stars.