Connecting with faith, creatively

News | February 8, 2016

This is the fourth in an occasional series on faith pathways: Service, Nature, Study and Intellect, Contemplative, Artistic, Relationships, and Traditions. Meet four St. Paul people who connect with God through their artistic endeavors: Painting, Poetry, Sewing, Singing.

Painting: Sheila Mesick

Growing up along the banks of the Mississippi River in Buffalo, Iowa, Sheila Mesick spent a lot of time with her grandmother.

Her grandmother found beauty – and showed Sheila how to find beauty – in the flowers and the moon, animals and the soil of the Earth, the colors and movement and ways they all change or grow.

Sheila’s first husband, before he died, told her, “You need to be painting.” So Sheila went to college to learn how to be an art teacher. “All of those seeds of encouragement he gave me came to be,” she said. “Art has always played a role when I’ve needed some inner healing.”

She spent more than 20 years as an art teacher in the Davenport Community School District. She loved all of the schools she taught in, but she felt at home at J.B. Young – just a couple of blocks from St. Paul. That feeling of comfort resulted in many wonderful creative experiences, including public art created by students that remains visible at the school today.

Today, Sheila is retired from teaching, and is on the way to creating a new path for herself.

“I really believe everyone is creative. It’s how we bring our own personal fingerprint to what we do,” she said.

And when we create, we lift ourselves and God up.

“Anything that is good comes from God – joy, happiness, peace, comfort,” she said.

Singing: Jeff Bass

Music has been a part of Jeff Bass’ life since he can remember. His dad, in particular, loved to sing in the car – with a box of cassette tapes always at the ready under the passenger seat.

Jeff started playing piano at the age of five, then he added in saxophone and guitar as the years went on. Choirs and bells joined his repertoire, too. He took so many music classes in high school that he had to take academic classes during the summer to keep up. When an injury sidelined his athletic career at Augustana, he turned more fully to singing in Augustana ensembles.

“Music was always there,” he said. “I never felt like it was something I had to reach for.”

Today, Jeff sings with the Nova Singers (a top-notch ensemble that performs concerts regularly at St. Paul). Music is an important part of his life with wife, Keri, and their three kiddos (you can sometimes find them all dancing in their living room).

“Faith,” he said, “is one of those things that can be tricky sometimes. Music can help people find that connection. It’s a tool when people can’t find the words or sentiment to express themselves.”

Poetry: Dick Stahl

Dick Stahl writes from the sunny spot of his dining room table. Every day, he puts words to paper, expressing the beauty of so many things, the Mississippi River, a mama gorilla, Augustana College.

A retired teacher, he served as the poet laureate of the Quad Cities in 2001-2003. His poetry graced the 100th anniversary celebration of the Quad City Symphony, including the 100 cellos project (an initiative that involved dozens of artists creating pieces of public art from cellos – the cello he co-created was on display for a time at St. Paul). To the right, he chronicles that journey, and how it continues to resonate in his soul.

Sewing: Laura Torgerud

When Laura Torgerud’s daughter Abby turned five years old, Laura handmade Abby a shirt to celebrate the occasion.

“As I was making it, I prayed for her,” Laura said. Prayerfully Sewn was born.

Laura – who creates in many other ways, including photography, greeting cards and paper art – learned how to sew from her mother-in-law, who also gave Laura her first sewing machine. Tucked away in an upstairs bedroom of the Torgerud home is the machine Laura now uses, a 14-year-old Elna 6003.

She makes crosses, table runners, wall hangings, phone stands – the list is endless. For each person, whether she knows the recipient or not, she prays.

And now, Abby has her own sewing machine – right next to mom’s in that second-floor workroom.

“I like making practical things. If I see something that I like, and I think I can make it, I don’t buy it. I create it,” she said. “To me, handmade gifts, or things I make for myself or my home, are an expression of love. I enjoy expressing God’s love through my hands, through creating. There’s a piece of God in everything I make.”

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Daniel 12:1-3

The Time of the End

1“Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.2“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.3“Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Psalm 16

1Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.

2I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord;

I have no good besides You.”

3As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,

Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

You support my lot.

6The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8I have set the LORD continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

11You will make known to me the path of life;

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

Hebrews 10:11-25

11Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,13waiting from that time onward UNTIL HISENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.14For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,





He then says,



18Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

A New and Living Way

19Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Christ or Judgment

Mark 13:1-8

Things to Come

1As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples *said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”2And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

3As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,4“Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”5And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.6“Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.7“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.8“For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Daniel 7:9-14

9“I kept looking

Until thrones were set up,

And the Ancient of Days took His seat;

His vesture was like white snow

And the hair of His head like pure wool.

His throne was ablaze with flames,

Its wheels were a burning fire.

10“A river of fire was flowing

And coming out from before Him;

Thousands upon thousands were attending Him,

And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;

The court sat,

And the books were opened.

11“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire.12“As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.

The Son of Man Presented

13“I kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

14“And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.

The Vision Interpreted

Psalm 93

1The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;

The LORD has clothed and girded Himself with strength;

Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved.

2Your throne is established from of old;

You are from everlasting.

3The floods have lifted up, O LORD,

The floods have lifted up their voice,

The floods lift up their pounding waves.

4More than the sounds of many waters,

Than the mighty breakers of the sea,

The LORD on high is mighty.

5Your testimonies are fully confirmed;

Holiness befits Your house,

O LORD, forevermore.

Revelation 1:-4-8

John 18:33-37

33Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”35Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”37Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”