Organizational Underwear

[Summer rerun–here’s a post from 2011. SES]

Yippie Skippy! My nonprofit marketing and fundraising hero Katya Andresen features this blog post in her 4/30/2013 Advice Carnival. Please visit and share the link. For related posts, filter for the category “On-the-Job Lessons.” Blessings! Sue

When asked to create a unit brochure or report on the latest reorganization or when expected to communicate the inner workings of the central office, I find it helpful to note that the organization of an organization–its unit structure, its regional geography, its reporting hierarchy, its carefully crafted strategic plan–provides the foundation for getting things done. Another word for foundation is underwear, and while the support and structure of underwear is important, it’s best not to show your underwear in public.

Communicating about the organization of the organization to insiders answers their who-what-when-where-how questions. Communicating about the organization of the organization to outsiders–AKA constituents, clients, volunteers, donors–does little to answer their questions: So what? Why should I care? How do I get what I need? What difference do you make?

Organization = Foundation = Underwear. Keep it on the inside.

Sue Edison-Swift  9/29/2011

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2014 Christmas Greetings e-Edition

December 2014


We jumped on a Thanksgiving-weekend promotion to create this Christmas card, to double as a “We’ve Moved” announcement.  The e-edition you are reading now offers additional “hyphenated life” news.



While setting up the tripod for the family photo session, we captured this favorite picture of Walter and Sally.




Lest you think all was “Christmas-card perfect” that afternoon, here are some of the outtakes.

We're putting down roots in Watertown.In June, we bought a 15-year-old ranch house in Watertown, Wis. It has three bedrooms, two baths, two-car garage, home-office for Paul, dining room, eat-in kitchen, small laundry-room, living room with a fireplace, and an enormous basement. Before moving in, we had wood floors installed and replaced the tub in the master bath with a walk-in shower. It’s close enough to Bethesda for Sue to come home for lunch.


Check out photographer Annie in the mirror.


The bedroom where Walter sleeps has capacity to sleep four: a bunk bed with a trundle and the original Umma’s motorized saucer chair. When Sally graduates from the Pack n Play, she’ll take the trundle. The storage-chest steps for the bunk bed remain in boxes until the kiddles are old enough to be trusted on the top bunk.


Initially we made great progress unpacking the boxes in storage for three years. Once our household reach enhanced operational-level, however, our motivation plummeted. Anything takes precedence over further unpacking and organizing.

DSC_0918For the first time in years we put up a full-size Christmas tree. Here’s the story about buying our first Christmas tree.

Last week Sue learned of her acceptance in the 2015 Certificate in Theology and Ministry program from Princeton Theological Seminary.  There are six five-week online classes, meeting Thursday evenings: Old Testament, New Testament, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Theology for Faith and Life, Pastoral Care, and Congregational Leadership.

Annie tells us that Walter led their Advent devotion before lunch today. He sang “This Little Light of Mine” and gave this prayer: Dear God, We know you have been there a long, long time in heaven. You shared with people a lot of things and you’ve been nice to them. Amen. This reminds us of almost-5-year-old Annie’s Song of Community, and prompts us to ask, Hello, hello, how are you doing?

More Favorite Pictures from 2014:

Christmas and New Year blessings,
Sue and Paul

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2014 Edison-Swift Christmas Card

2014 Xmas Card 01

Greetings from Paul and Sue, pictured here with Annie and Sean, Walter (3 in October), Sally (1 in August) and Hank-the-Dog. This card doubles as a “We’ve Moved” announcement. In June, we bought a house. Our new address:

617 Chadwick Dr, Watertown, WI 53094

In February, Sue became Bethesda’s Corp. Dir. of Faith Life Resources, which includes coordinating the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability ( Paul has a dedicated home office and continues working as a Web Analyst/Developer for the ELCA Churchwide Office in Chicago.

January: Paul had a successful cardiac ablation-no more afib! Celebrated the life and witness of Sue’s Aunt Sally. June: Flew to New York with Annie and Sally for Rachel (Paul’s niece) and Matt Lauster’s wedding. September: Attended the memorial service for friend Mim Woolbert. Annie and Sean arranged for a surprise “Sue and Paul birthday” breakfast with dear friends. October: Joined the Edison-Albrights for a holiday in Door County (cherries!). November: Annie receives 2014 Brave Preacher Award from The Beatitudes Society; so proud. Bought our first-ever snow blower; used it twice.

Love, Sue and Paul

P.S. For more pictures and stories see the e-edition.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

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AKA Chili

Tomato Soup with Hamburger, Sweet Potato and Beans
AKA Sue’s Chili

The soup Sue calls chili.

The soup Sue calls chili.

On Facebook, I announced my first soup – making in the new house: chili with diced sweet potato. When asked for the recipe I was undaunted even though I have never made any soup the same way twice.

What has me humbled as I start writing down the ingredients, however, is the realization the person recipe-asking is from Texas. Texas, where chili is king. Oh dear, I had better confess. This is a slightly sweet chili with beans. Maybe I should call it Tomato Soup with Hamburger, Sweet Potato and Beans.

  • 3 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
  • Although not in this batch, cubed celery root (celeriac) is a yummy addition

Simmered in

  • 3-4 cartons of rustic cut tomatoes in puree
  • ½ bottle ketchup (2 cups?) with an equal amount of water
  • small carton (1 cup) unsalted chicken stock
  • 1-2 TBS of Penzey’s Chili 3000 spice (I usually get more creative with the spice drawer—including cumin, cinnamon and chili powder—but last time I got too creative and didn’t love the result. Since the ingredients are high in sodium, I do not add additional salt.)

Add in

  • 2 large onions, minced fine in food processor
  • whole stalk of celery, diced fine
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • Usually add sweet peppers (green, orange or red) but didn’t this time
  • 4-5 peeled cloves of garlic, smashed (so you can fish out again)
  • Two large cans of red kidney beans, rinsed
  • Two small cans of reduced sodium black beans, rinsed

Since my soup pot was full, I added the beans to the containers, not the pot. I’ve been known to do the same with the browned hamburger.

Sue Edison-Swift
August 24, 2014

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New home

We're putting down roots in Watertown.We’re home owners again! This afternoon we closed on a sweet 14-year-old ranch in Watertown with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a two-car garage and gigantic basement. In the three years we’ve rented in Johnson Creek, Walter and Sally have joined the family. It will be very good, indeed, to have more room.

By planting ourselves in a house we’re saying “We’re here for the duration. This is our community.” It’s a leap of faith.

We’ll have two residences for awhile as we have work done on our new house.

Looking forward to your visits!









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God is a he (lowercase)

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” —John 3:16 NRSV

Why Not Capitalize the Godly He?*

Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God.  Illustration by Ann Rezny,  graphic designer at the Herron Studio.

Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God. Illustration by Ann Rezny, graphic designer at the Herron Studio.

1.       Because pronouns for God are not capitalized in the Bible or standard stylebooks like AP and the Chicago Manual. 

2.      Because pronouns for God are not as clear as names for God.

I once asked a group of about 50 colleagues, “When someone signs a letter, ‘In His Service,’ who are they talking about?” I was surprised to learn most thought this meant “In God’s Service,” not “In Christ’s Service.”

Using names for God instead of pronouns is especially important when writing something for reading aloud, for example, a devotion. Listeners cannot hear the capitalization or scan back to determine the subject of the sentence.

If it is necessary to capitalize gendered pronouns to make it clear the reference is God, rewrite.

3.      For some, capitalizing pronouns for God is a sign of piety and respect. For others, this seems as antiquated and stodgy as using thee and thou.

While readers are unlikely to notice lowercase pronouns for God, capitalized pronouns call attention to themselves. Thus, a capitalized He runs a greater risk of a negative reaction.

*  Many people, myself included, prefer not to limit God to gendered pronouns–he or she. Capitalizing pronouns for God emhasizes the limits of the English language and a too-small image of God. This post, however, is an appeal to the faithful for whom God is, and always will be, a he. It is a case for lowercase.

Sue Edison-Swift 

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Piggery in UgandaDaughter Annie, grandson Walter and granddaughter Sally stayed with us over the weekend. Sleeping on a cot in our bedroom, Walter (2.5 years) woke up sobbing at 2 a.m.

“The PIGGIES!” he wailed. “I’m scared of the piggies!”

“You’re having a nightmare,” I said, scooping him up. Baba turned on the battery-operated candle to illuminate the situation. “See, Walter? There are no piggies here.”

On our second trip to the rocking chair, Walter whispered, “I hate that piggy sound, Umma. Have you ever heard that sound?”

That’s when it dawned on me. Snoring sounds a lot like piggies.

Umma Sue, 3/17/2014

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For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.–Jeremiah 29:11

On Friday, I packed my office. It was my last day as Corporate Director of Marketing and Communications for Bethesda Lutheran Communities. On Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, I begin as Corporate Director of Faith Life Resources with the Bethesda Institute.

BiblesHymnalsAs I packed and labeled a box of Bibles, hymnals and other important books, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Imagine the luck to have a career of positions where Bibles and hymnals have a prominent place on the office bookcase.

This newly created position is “responsible for growing the spiritual life initiatives and resources on the Bethesda Institute, a division of Bethesda Lutheran Communities.” I’ll serve as the principle organizer for the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability (June 16-20 in Dallas); develop and direct faith-and-disability research initiatives; and direct the planning and implementation of all religious resources and periodicals.

I’ve served as Interim Vice President of Marketing and Communications since Laura Reilly resigned in November. While I enjoyed the interim, I quickly discerned the permanent position was not for me, and did not apply. I was especially happy, then, when David Morstad, Bethesda Institute’s executive director, approached me with this opportunity.

“You’ve been preparing your whole life for this,” Nancy J. Stelling, the first editor of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather magazine), will say whenever someone needs an encouraging push to do something new. In many ways, my years with LWT, and all that came after, prepare me for this new first-day. Forward!

Sue Edison-Swift
  Feb. 9, 2014

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Remembering Aunt Sally

Click here to read the remembrance Annie shared at Aunt Sally’s funeral.
Tender blessings, Sue

Aunt Sally and granddaughter Sally

Sally and Sally


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Amazing Sally

Almost five months old, Sally is finding her voice. Here she’s vocalizing while I’m humming Amazing Grace. Sally Bug, throughout your life, I hope you always confidently communicate. You have a beautiful voice. Love, Umma (1/18/2014)

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2013 Christmas Greetings


Falalalala 2013  

On August 22, baby Sally arrived,
falalalala, la-la-la-la.
On November 3, she was baptized,
falalalala, la-la-la-la.

On November 4, Annie’s gallbladder was removed, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Thank goodness, her health is much improved, falalalala, la-la-ah-ah.

Walter, now two, is our pride and joy, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
He’s a smart and sweet little boy, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Paul is Baba, loving grandfather, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Read “Walter and Me” in December’s Gather,* falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Paul’s cough headache (real thing) is a tribulation, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
To top it off, he has atrial fibrillation, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

On January 8, Paul will have cardio ablation, falalalala, la-la-la- huh?
If it works, there will be jubilation, falalalala, la-la-la-la!

Pastor Annie tends Redeemer’s pack, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
Sean protects Sentry data from attack, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Working from home, Paul continues at the ELCA, falalalala, la-la-la-la.
At Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Sue spends her day, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Sue’s a temporary, interim VP, falalalala, la-la-la-la,
She loves our tiny Christmas tree, falalalala, la-la-lame rhyme.

A Democratic liberal in a land of Republicans, falalalala, la-la-ha-ha,
Makes it hard for Sue to live in Wisconsin, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Before offense is taken on this or that side, falalalala, la-la-la-la,
Remember relationship can cross such divides, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

With no reason to complain, we sometimes do, falalalala, la-la-waa-waah.
We miss faraway dear ones; we miss you, falalalala, la-la-la-la.

Throughout the year, know that we care.
We send our love and hold you in prayer.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

*Find “Walter and Me,” the article Paul wrote for the December 2013 issue of
Gather magazine at

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