Experience Health & Joy

Weekly Blog

Armed Forces Chaplains Retreat, Jacksonville, FL – April 18 – 22

If there’s a “double whammy” of stress in ministry, it’s the military chaplaincy.  What a pleasure for us to minister to clergy families who also proudly wear the uniforms of our nation’s armed services.  At the invitation of synod’s Ministry to the Armed Forces, Grace Place Wellness offered a… Read More

Jumping From The Communion Rail: Worship With My Little One :)

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.         Psalm 84: 1-2 My son Ezekiel, at the tender age of three was a bit of a challenge.  A bit might be short hand for "Lord have mercy on our house."  Zeke is one of the lights of my life.  He is nothing less than a beautiful gift from God.  And he brings a lot of pizazz and energy into our household.  Please hear me as I say, I treasure him. Zeke is diagnosed with high functioning autism spectrum.  He has numerous sensory input concerns.  In his early years he detested things touching his hands, sitting with his legs dangling, ingesting food in general, the sound of side conversations, and most of all-congregational singing. Church was a struggle for him to say the least.  That congregational singing got him every time.  I recently read read an article about quiet services for autistic children, with less signing and no instruments.  This is the kind of thing that would have appealed to Zeke when he was small and may have made church a whole lot more bearable for us.  This wasn't our reality however, so when the organ started playing, Zeke would lay his entire body on the floor of the church aisle, or under a pew, or in the narthex to make it bearable.  People at church were good about it, but I know it came off looking like a giant toddler fit, or lazy parenting, or at the very least, just plain weird. I just wanted to worship.  And more than that, I wanted Ezekiel to worship.  I wanted so badly for him to find tiny sparks of joy in the service, in the Word, in His people surrounding us.  Doesn't every mother want that for her child?  How was I going to convince him to follow this for His whole life, if each and every Sunday it was literal misery for his poor little soul.  Granted, I was fully versed in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit does His work and this was not my responsibility, but a momma's heart hurt for want of some sign, any sign that He was hearing Jesus in the midst of it all. Read More

Risen and Brand New… Emotional Wellbeing!

Reading time: two minutes. Easter people expect the risen Christ to show up in the most unexpected places and at just the time when we need Him.  The Incarnate Jesus did that beginning at Bethlehem and continuing all the way to the Emmaus Road and His visit with Saul on the way to Damascus. Churches are emotional places; too often emotions of the unhealthy variety.  Paul listed them as "bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (Ephesians 4:31). That's just the time we need Jesus to show up, and you know what?  He does! Read More

A Call To Action: Grace and Mental Health

Written by:  Dcs. Heidi Goehmann I have to say it, I, for one, am so excited to see the open window for mental health in our culture and in our churches, recently.  I see more and more posts on mental health care on the web, the Synod has a task force for domestic violence and abuse, there are conferences and committees to address support and care.  This, my friends, is a long time in coming.  Two years ago at a conference I heard a speaker call mental health the "mission field of the 21st Century".  I could not agree more.  It is time.  The silence has lasted long enough.  The darkness of despair and anxiety and struggle has been overcome by the blood of the Lamb.  He waits with healing and grace.  We can be that voice of grace for those around us. But how does that work?  What does grace look like when it's living and active and poured out, particularly in the realm of mental health?  Here are some suggestions for churches, church workers, and any one of us ready to answer the call to Grace for the hurting.  John 1:16 tells us that we have all received grace upon grace.  Praise be to God that we can let that grace roll out onto all of those around us! FIND OUT MORE It's easy to assume that we know.  We've read a few blog articles about depression, so we "get" mental health.  But the needs in mental health are so much broader and wider.  Here is just a tiny list of struggles that can be addressed in grace: Anxiety - an estimated 10-18% of the population identifies a diagnosable struggle with anxiety, myself included! Depression - including seasonal, major depressive episodes, and postpartum Autism Spectrum and other sensory processing Learning disabilities Sexual abuse and assault Domestic violence Trauma of all sorts Bipolar Schizophrenia Addictions Eating disorders This list is not meant to be exclusive.  I could go on and on.  What struggle knocks on the door of your heart?  Find out more, ask questions, use appropriate terminology and language.  Educate others on the issue and just be mindful that these are not random and rare isues in people's lives.  They are much more common than we think, for those inside the Church, as well as those disconnected from the Church.  Grace - reaching out by learning and growing. Read More

Risen and Brand New: Intellectual Health!

Reading time: two minutes. Stuck is bad.  "Stuck" even sounds bad.  "Stuck in the mud."  "Stuck in the muck."  "Stuck in a rut."  Stuck.  Yuck! I'm not going to get all political, but the Republicans and the Democrats are both such easy examples of being stuck.  They're all stuck in ruts of rhetoric, party platforms, and short attention spans.  Nobody's listening.  They can't.  They're stuck. Intellectual health means having a healthy curiosity about the thoughts, hopes and dreams of someone else.  It's a willingness to truly and sincerely listen; to take the daring and dangerous risk of learning something new and having my horizons get un-stuck. Easter and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead un-sticks everything.  Easter sets us free from sin and death and also from a stuck perspective about the people around us. Read More

Risen and Brand New: Relational Health!

Reading time: two minutes. A cartoon shows a couple reading the sign in front of the church that reads, "Welcome to the church with tons of issues."  He says to her, "Well, at least they're honest about it!"  It's only funny because it's true! I've personally never met a church that didn't have tons of issues.  How could it be otherwise?  The church is simply people (and pastor!) with tons of issues gathered together at the foot of the cross.  It's not at all surprising that churches are flawed.  The miracle is that we are clustered together in relationships that are marked by love and care. Relational wellbeing is the Risen Christ living in the midst of His people loving and forgiving us so we can live and serve together. Read More

Running To Him

Written by:  Dcs. Heidi Goehmann So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.  Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. John 20:3-4 Running to Him When I was a little girl I had a lot of bad dreams.  A lot of bad dreams.  It seemed like anything could lead to a nightmare - someone talking about ghost stories, a scary movie preview on prime time television, or a bully's threat at school. In most of my nightmares, I was running.  Running from something, trying to get somewhere, out of breath, exhausted, tripping over branches and divots of grass and hidden treachery.  As I laid in my bed, the branches scrapping the window signaled someone trying to get me, I came up with infinite excuses for drinks of water and extra hugs, mostly I imagined what would come for me in my dreams that night. I'm sure there is a psychological explanation for all of this, but honestly I'm not sure I care to know.  I came from a stable and loving family.  I didn't experience any form of abuse.  The real curse was my extremely overactive imagination. What I do know is that I hated to run for years.  I saw it as a punishment inflicted to my body and soul.  At recess my best friend and I would sit on swings and hash over our current favorite book reads and imagine what we would do when we were grown up - anything from European princesses, to journalists, to doctors curing disease.  Watching everyone else on the playground run around us. Running the mile in gym class...pure torture.  "Why would anyone ask this of awkward adolescents?" I complained.  I circled around that track four times and consistently came in at my 12 minute marker.  Gag.  It was anxiety producing and embarrassing. Read More

When Only The PK Shows Up

Written by:  Dcs. Heidi Goehmann Good Friday Prayer Lunch.  it’s a thing we have every year with our youth group.  It’s always a great event.  We have done everything from collect congregational prayer requests and pray for hours in the church sanctuary to going to see a Christian movie and… Read More

Risen and Brand New: Spiritual Health!

Reading time: two minutes. An old Fleetwood Mac song begins, "I can't help it about the shape I'm in; I can't sing, I ain't pretty and my legs are thin."  I feel that way a lot of the time.  Sadly, the song is called, "Oh Well."  Aren't you thankful that Jesus would never say to you, "Oh well!"?  He's got better plans for us. Paul said it like this: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).  Spiritual health is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, living in me.  That's not a make-over.  That's a miracle and an adventure. Isn't it exciting to see what God is up to next? Read More

Star Trek In Our Jammies or Finding Rest

Written by:  Dcs. Heidi Goehmann I was sorely in need of some rest.  I had been running around making preparations for Easter.  I was working on a writing deadline with words that just wouldn't come.  I had a children's ministry scavenger hunt to prepare, practices to run small people too, and the day to day stuff of life to take care of. I was sorely in need of rest. I'm sure that there are many of you who can relate to a packed schedule.  The problem wasn't really the schedule.  This season of our life is busy, but good busy, not overwhelming, just full.  But, it was simply time for a rest.  My body could feel it.  My heart was yearning for it. The funny part was that I was completely unaware of it until I sat down on my couch. I love my couch.  It sucks you in, in all the right ways.  You aren't sucked into it, as in "I've fallen and I can't get up."But its soft rustic leather eases around you and says, "Hello, old friend.  It's been awhile." It had indeed been a while.  Good Friday morning I woke up and walked downstairs and sat down.  Oh couch.  I forgot how much I missed you!  My eleven year old son sat down next to me and said, "Mom, how about a Star Trek in our jammies morning?" Read More

Risen and Brand New: Baptismal Health!

Reading time: two minutes. At my house, tulips are a sure thing.  Forget the roses and violets.  Carol loves the tulips.  I thought about planting some last fall, but those bulbs are so nasty, dry and lumpy that I didn't.  No vision, I guess.  It's hard to see something beautiful coming from something so ugly. I'm glad Jesus has better vision than I do. Easter is new life, and baptismal wellbeing is the fountain of new life God has given to each of us.  It's a daily planting of the nasty and ugly, and then, without waiting through a long winter or even through forty days of Lent, new life!  Beauty!  Beginning!  Fresh!  Spring! How's your Easter today? Read More

The Great Conundrum – Mama Life vs. Work Life

Written by:  Dcs. Heidi Goehmann Wife, mother, daughter, deaconess, friend, pastor's wife, social worker, therapist.  My many vocations, on this particular day were getting the best of me.  I dropped off my kids at school and drove down the highway struggling with what was most important.  Where was the balance?  How do other women magically find it? My oldest daughter's parting words to me, as I kissed her goodbye at school were, "You just don't care anymore.  You're always working.  Work matters more to you."  My heart entered my stomach.  I knew her words were fueled by the argument we just had, the chores she didn't want to do, the challenge of growing into one's own body and life at her given age.  The question I always ask myself as a parent however is...Is there any truth in it?  Even a morsel? Read More