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All Profiles > Rev. Dr. Steven Koski

About Rev. Dr. Steven Koski

I am at First Presbyterian because I am crazy blessed to get to serve an extraordinary, loving, compassionate, brave, creative, mission-hearted, curious, and fun community of faith. And for some reason they put up with me.

Before serving here, I was cheering loudly for the Chicago Blackhawks as Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of LaGrange, IL, a western suburb of Chicago.

I love being constantly reminded that I am one lucky guy to have married “up” to Laurie and to be blessed to be dad to two amazing young men, Jacob and Jonah. I love yoga. Although, the people next to me in yoga class look like pretzels while I look and move like a block of cement. I love walking the many beautiful trails of Bend. I love, love, love, love sports. My dream job would be a sports talk show host sharing my limitless sports wisdom with the rest of the world. I love Scrabble, a good book, U2, single malt scotch, theater, and ballet (not necessarily in that order).

You can reach Steven at [email protected], and follow him on Instagram: @stevenkoski.

If life feels hard and you are struggling today it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It just means life is just damn hard sometimes.
Our culture rewards success, achievement, strength and overcoming obstacles. Parents say they just want their children to be happy. I wonder if a better goal is to teach our children how to be unhappy with resiliency and grace because sometimes life is just damn hard.
We don’t give ourselves room to struggle. We are quick to judge our day and ourselves as good or bad. If we are struggling it means we are failing life.
A friend slogging through the thick and sticky mud of grief said, “I’m failing at grief. I can’t stop crying. One minute I’m fine and ‘wham!’, I fall into a heap and I’m a blubbering mess.”
How can you fail at grief for God’s sake? It is not a test or a race with winners and losers. Grief is the sacred human experience of having had the courage to risk your heart loving.
Another friend shared over coffee, “I am so sorry. I’m not myself today. Life is just so damn hard right now.”
What kind of culture are we living in where we have to apologize for being human? Life is just damn hard sometimes. It just is. Struggling doesn’t require an apology.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said many misinterpreted her stages of grief - shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Many treated these stages as linear where you have to “succeed” at one stage to move to the next. If you don’t succeed it must mean you are failing grief. No. Kubler-Ross said she was naming common experiences of grief. They don’t necessarily happen in a linear fashion. Not everyone’s experience is the same. You can experience all the stages of grief in the same hour.
One of the greatest sources of stress is the picture we have in our heads of the way we think life is supposed to be and the expectation we hold of how we are supposed to be.
If you are struggling and life feels hard today it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It may just mean life is just hard. Try not to judge the day or yourself as good or bad. What is, is. Breathe. Be tender and kind to yourself. Be kind to others because chances are life is damn hard for them too.
If life feels hard and you are struggling today it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It just means life is just damn hard sometimes. Our culture rewards success, achievement, strength and overcoming obstacles. Parents say they just want their children to be happy. I wonder if a better goal is to teach our children how to be unhappy with resiliency and grace because sometimes life is just damn hard. We don’t give ourselves room to struggle. We are quick to judge our day and ourselves as good or bad. If we are struggling it means we are failing life. A friend slogging through the thick and sticky mud of grief said, “I’m failing at grief. I can’t stop crying. One minute I’m fine and ‘wham!’, I fall into a heap and I’m a blubbering mess.” How can you fail at grief for God’s sake? It is not a test or a race with winners and losers. Grief is the sacred human experience of having had the courage to risk your heart loving. Another friend shared over coffee, “I am so sorry. I’m not myself today. Life is just so damn hard right now.” What kind of culture are we living in where we have to apologize for being human? Life is just damn hard sometimes. It just is. Struggling doesn’t require an apology. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said many misinterpreted her stages of grief - shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Many treated these stages as linear where you have to “succeed” at one stage to move to the next. If you don’t succeed it must mean you are failing grief. No. Kubler-Ross said she was naming common experiences of grief. They don’t necessarily happen in a linear fashion. Not everyone’s experience is the same. You can experience all the stages of grief in the same hour. One of the greatest sources of stress is the picture we have in our heads of the way we think life is supposed to be and the expectation we hold of how we are supposed to be. If you are struggling and life feels hard today it doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. It may just mean life is just hard. Try not to judge the day or yourself as good or bad. What is, is. Breathe. Be tender and kind to yourself. Be kind to others because chances are life is damn hard for them too.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a quiet voice whispering behind you saying, ‘This is the path. Walk in it.’” ~ Isaiah 30.21
Lao Tzu said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That first step is often the hardest. The best way to combat fear and the anxiety of uncertainty is with a single step toward the fear. It is being willing to do the next, right hard thing.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” He didn’t say where they were going. He didn’t give them a map. He didn’t administer a test to see if they were qualified or worthy to follow. He didn’t tell them where they would be staying or stopping to eat. He didn’t let them know how difficult or how long the journey would be. He said, “Follow me. Take that first difficult step, the step you don’t want to take. The step you know deep down you must take.”
Trying to sneak a poem or two in for #nationalpoetrymonth before April slips away. Here’s David Whyte’s Start Close In:
“Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third,
start with the first thing, close in,
the step you don’t want to take.
Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet,
your own way of starting the conversation.
Start with your own question,
give up on other people’s questions,
don’t let them smother something simple.
To find another’s voice, follow your own voice, wait until that voice becomes a private ear listening to another.
Start right now  take a small step  you can call your own  don’t follow someone else’s heroics, be humble and focused,
start close in, don’t mistake that other for your own.
Start close in,
don’t take the second step or the third,
start with the first thing close in,
the step you don’t want to take.”
Listen for that voice today whispering behind your ear saying, “This is the path. Walk in it.”
Go ahead. Take that first step. The step you don’t want to take. Your heart and soul just might follow.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a quiet voice whispering behind you saying, ‘This is the path. Walk in it.’” ~ Isaiah 30.21 Lao Tzu said the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That first step is often the hardest. The best way to combat fear and the anxiety of uncertainty is with a single step toward the fear. It is being willing to do the next, right hard thing. Jesus said, “Follow me.” He didn’t say where they were going. He didn’t give them a map. He didn’t administer a test to see if they were qualified or worthy to follow. He didn’t tell them where they would be staying or stopping to eat. He didn’t let them know how difficult or how long the journey would be. He said, “Follow me. Take that first difficult step, the step you don’t want to take. The step you know deep down you must take.” Trying to sneak a poem or two in for #nationalpoetrymonth before April slips away. Here’s David Whyte’s Start Close In: “Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing, close in, the step you don’t want to take. Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way of starting the conversation. Start with your own question, give up on other people’s questions, don’t let them smother something simple. To find another’s voice, follow your own voice, wait until that voice becomes a private ear listening to another. Start right now take a small step you can call your own don’t follow someone else’s heroics, be humble and focused, start close in, don’t mistake that other for your own. Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.” Listen for that voice today whispering behind your ear saying, “This is the path. Walk in it.” Go ahead. Take that first step. The step you don’t want to take. Your heart and soul just might follow.
April is#nationalpoetrymonth and April has almost slipped away so I’m offering two of my favorites that are resonating deeply with me today. Mary Oliver invites me to stop worrying and drag my tired, achy body into the sunlight today and “sing” or at least find a trail with dirt and pay attention to the way the trees and the river sing.
I use a beautiful poem by Jane Kenyon called “Otherwise” as a spiritual practice to interrupt anxiety with gratitude. Reminding myself daily that “it might have been otherwise” leads me to gratitude for the ordinary, often overlooked, simple gifts present in every day.
Jane Kenyon died of Leukemia at age 47. She wrote this poem shortly before her death with a profound sense things would soon be “otherwise” for her. I am hoping this poem might interrupt any anxiety and fear you may have with gratitude.
“Otherwise”
“I got out of bed on two strong legs.
It might have been otherwise.
I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach.
It might have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill to the birch wood. All morning I did the work I love. At noon I lay down with my mate.
It might have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together at a table with candlesticks.
It might have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day.
But one day, I know it will be otherwise.”
May you inhale the gift of every sunrise, look for the joy hidden under every rock, recognize the gift of those who walk beside you, and be the reason someone else is grateful today.
April is#nationalpoetrymonth and April has almost slipped away so I’m offering two of my favorites that are resonating deeply with me today. Mary Oliver invites me to stop worrying and drag my tired, achy body into the sunlight today and “sing” or at least find a trail with dirt and pay attention to the way the trees and the river sing. I use a beautiful poem by Jane Kenyon called “Otherwise” as a spiritual practice to interrupt anxiety with gratitude. Reminding myself daily that “it might have been otherwise” leads me to gratitude for the ordinary, often overlooked, simple gifts present in every day. Jane Kenyon died of Leukemia at age 47. She wrote this poem shortly before her death with a profound sense things would soon be “otherwise” for her. I am hoping this poem might interrupt any anxiety and fear you may have with gratitude. “Otherwise” “I got out of bed on two strong legs. It might have been otherwise. I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless peach. It might have been otherwise. I took the dog uphill to the birch wood. All morning I did the work I love. At noon I lay down with my mate. It might have been otherwise. We ate dinner together at a table with candlesticks. It might have been otherwise. I slept in a bed in a room with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day. But one day, I know it will be otherwise.” May you inhale the gift of every sunrise, look for the joy hidden under every rock, recognize the gift of those who walk beside you, and be the reason someone else is grateful today.

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