Sunday, October 23, 2016

Word Made Flesh; Artists Edition #4

This past weekend, I spent at our synod senior high youth gathering. I had the honor and privilege of  hanging out with the youth who make up the LYO board and our keynote speakers. One of our keynote speakers was musician Tony Memmel. Tony is a gifted musician and genuine great guy! I thought today I would share one of my fave Tony songs "America to Go!" Enjoy friends!

Saturday, October 22, 2016


A little infant asleep in my arms as his parents enjoy our annual church dinner. We rock back and forth until this little boy finally falls asleep. I chat with this sweet infant sharing my thoughts as he drifts off the dreamland. I'm in my happy place. This sweet memory happened over four years ago, but it is a beautiful reminder of where I find delight.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a baby lover. I could spend hours with the warmth of a cozy infant pressed up against my skin as we cuddle together. In those moments, it feels like all my cares and worries just melt away. There is something so incredibly holy about these sweet moments in my life.

Holding infants is one of the places where I find delight. Delight in our lives are those places where the Word becomes flesh and brings about joy and happiness; a reminder that God loves us in this broken messed up world. Through delight, we are reminded that life does come out of death, joy does come out of sadness and so much more.

Besides infants, I find delight in children playing, in coffee dates with dear friends, through the relationships in my life, through sweet voices of children calling out my name and in so many other ways. Where are those places where you find delight?

In our places of delight, the Word becomes flesh through those very places and people who bring about joy, happiness, and delight in our lives. I believe Mary delighted when she held her precious infant son in her arms for the first time. I believe the father delighted when his prodigal son finally returned home.

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart!"--Psalm 37:4

Friday, October 21, 2016

Telling the Truth

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday.  This is also Day Fourteen of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "park." We would love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there. 

I am spending the weekend at our synod youth gathering. This morning I found myself once again parked in a chair listening to our awesome speakers. We did an activity where they had the youth and adults write down all the labels and lies we give ourselves or have been given by others. It was a powerful activity as they then shared how we can combat the labels and lies with the truths in our lives. 

I remember as a little girl playing at the park and being called names; given labels and lies from a very young age. I'm not good enough. I'm not pretty enough. Your mom is crazy. And the list goes on and on. Yet we are too combat those lies and labels with truth. 

Because when we are truthful with ourselves and each other, we are helping make the Word made flesh in this world through the people and through ourselves by sharing our truths. So what are the truths that combat the lies and labels you've been given in life? 

For me, I know that the truth is....I am an encourager.
I am an advocate.
I am enough. 
I am a writer.
I am....

For when we live out our truths, the Word is once again made flesh in this world.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Something like Lemonade

Have you caught the new NBC drama "This is Us?" I missed the premiere episode of the show, but after catching comments on my FB feed and with friends, I knew that I was missing out on something good. I queued up the first episode and watched it on my I-Pad. I was immediately hooked. This is Us  is a rare story full of hope, humor, heart and even a little mystery.

In the first episode, the couple expecting triplets lose one of the babies during birth. The doctor and the dad have a heart to heart as the doctor shares how his wife and him also lost a child which led him to becoming a doctor. The doctor says something along the lines of "I like to think of it as taking lemons and making something like lemonade out of it."

Isn't that exactly what God calls us to do? To make beauty out of brokenness, to make something like lemonade out of the lemons in our lives? Several of my friends have experienced sad losses this year. My friend Julia and her husband Zach had to bury their daughter Kaia Gene. Julia has shared pieces of their story on her blog. My friend Erin and her husband Scott also had to bury their son #AlexanderScott. Erin has been processing and sharing their story through writing on her blog. They also had bracelets made to share about Alexander. I requested one and am waiting for mine to arrive. My friends are making something like lemonade out of their stories.

They will forever be shaped by their stories and experiences. And we all have been shaped by our own stories of brokenness. I think of my friend EG, her husband GG and their sweet little prince who they lost too soon. E shared that, in the midst of her pain, she just wanted another mom who understood what she was going through and who she could talk too. I think many of us long for others who understand in the midst of our own stories of brokenness. I didn't tell my families story of mental illness for 18 years because of the stigma associated with the illness and because I didn't think anyone would understand.

We need others who understand who we are, where we come from and the gift of sharing our stories. In our shared stories, hope emerges and unites us as a community of faith; a community of faith that walks together and becomes the Word made flesh as we sit with each other, as we wipe each other's tears, as we listen to each other and as we love each other in the midst of our brokenness.

So as the Word made flesh, as brothers and sisters in Christ, God's Word is made alive in this world through our words, actions and most especially through our love for one another. And it is in those moments of the Word made flesh that resurrection hope breaks through into this broken world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Painting and God's Creative Souls

"Painting is by nature a luminous language."--Robert Delaunay

Walking into my mom's room at the nursing home, your eye would immediately be drawn to a painting on the wall. That painting is a drawing and painting of my family; my parents, sister, and I. I am holding a balloon and in the middle of the balloon are painted the words "The Ulrich Family." A baseball bat is leaning up against my dad. Even though, my parents have divorced. This painting holds a special place in our hearts as the painting was done by my aunt.

Growing up, my aunt was an artist who spent her days using her creative talents by decorating Dairy Queen ice cream cakes. I have always loved this about my aunt. Like me, she is a creative soul and God uses our creative souls to make the Word made flesh in this world.

Besides my aunt, there is my friend JK and her husband CK. They started their own business The Pink Moose--Colorado. Their logo states "vintage creative" and that is exactly who they are. I seriously want JK to come and decorate my house. She posted the above quote on her Instagram account for their business and I immediately had the idea for this post.

This summer, I got to spend some time with JK and her girls as we went shopping. As I watched JK in the store, picking out items for her latest project, I could see she was in her happy place. I love watching and seeing what her and CK create after finding treasures at a local sale.

Painting is indeed a luminous language; a language that is spread out through the paint strokes on the canvas the artist chooses to use in their life. And God uses many other creative outlets to bring about luminous language that makes the Word made flesh in this world.

In my landing page post, I shared about the many I have been gifted to watch create through the ways God has gifted them with creative souls. There are my photography friends like KK who have this way of capturing events and people in the most beautiful ways. There is my friend JC who creatively helps people share their stories through video. It's incredible to watch all those I know with their creative souls create something holy out of nothing or out of very little.

I think of all of us writers with the words God often places upon our hearts and minds. Through words, through paintbrushes, through camera lens and photo lens, God uses God's creative people to bring about the Word made flesh in this world.

As a creative being and writer, one of my all-time favorite verses is John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." There is something so incredibly holy about creating and using the gifts that God has given me...whether that is to write a book, a blog post, or write poetry. And God has blessed so many of my friends and family with this same gift.

For the creative souls in my life, thank you! Thank you for the ways you embody and make the Word made flesh through your photographs, through your videos, through your music, through your paintings and paintbrushes, through your words, through your poems and through so many other ways. 

Thanks be to God for those gifts in our lives. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Made To Be In Relationship

A little girl, teased on the playground, tears streaming down her face. But then the gift of a new friend who also was holding her own story. This sweet little girl, my friend Mandy, with her chubby cheeks a side effect to the medication she was taking due to the kidney transplant she had had the year prior. These two little girls quickly became friends.

These girls who lived through elementary, junior high, and high school together; through first boyfriends, crushes, parents divorcing and remarrying and so much more. But after graduation, these two sweet souls parted ways. One to find her first job and home away from her parents. The other off to college and a dorm room and new experiences. A friendship that quickly drifted apart as these two college aged woman found new friends.

But the reality is our friendship never drifted a part completely. This friend Mandy called her best friend Tara the day she became engaged. This friend who left seminary for the weekend and flew home to be one of her best friend's bridesmaids on her special day. I remember standing next to my friend Mandy, a smile on her face that radiated throughout that day. After the wedding, I went back to seminary and my friend moved in with her husband. Little did we realize how things would change in the coming years.

I finished seminary, graduated and moved back home to North Dakota. My friend, now married, seem so happy with her married life. But before we knew it, the unexpected began to happen. My friend started experiencing seizures and other symptoms. One October morning, I picked up my phone to see that I had missed a phone call. I opened up my phone and began listening to it. Tears began streaming down my face. My friend's mom was calling to tell me that my friend had passed away; a life taken way too soon. I packed up my car that next Saturday and headed for her funeral; to say a goodbye I didn't want to have to say. But I needed to say!

There are days I wonder what my friend Mandy's life would be like today. Would David and her have children? Would she be happy? I watch photos of her nieces and nephews cross my Facebook feed and I know that she would have made an awesome aunt. I miss her each and every day. But luckily God has brought more amazing friends into my life.

There are my friends who I met at camp and saw me grow and mature into the woman of faith that I am today. There are my seminary friends who I ate cake with that first night at the seminary. There are my diaconal ministry friends and all of my colleagues in the church. There are the friends that I have made across the world wide web through social media. It is incredible the ways God blesses us with incredible relationships in our lives. Some of those relationships are for a season and others are for our whole lives.

The reality is that God created us to be in relationship with one another. Through the relationships in our lives, the Word becomes flesh through the people who God stands to walk with us. Through the relationships that remind us that we are never on this journey called life alone. Through the relationships, that embody the Word made flesh through those who love us for who we are created to be.

Friends and Readers, want a chance to win a $100 DaySpring Shopping spree. 

Also linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.



Breaking Bread Together

"In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks; broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying; 'Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.' Again after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.'" (ELW; Holy Communion, Setting Two, P. 130)

Gathered in the basement community room, my new friends and I are sprawled out on the couches and chairs watching the movie Chocolat. A chocolate birthday cake sits on the table behind one of the couches. The smell of that sweet cake wafts into my friends Mike and Mark's noses as we watch the movie. Soon the credits roll and the movie ends.

After the movie, it's time to cut into the cake (my own birthday cake bought by me because I've only known these friends for a few hours now) One of my new friends suggests that we eat the cake like a pig....meaning with our hands. Before we know it, our hands are diving into the cake squishing and squeezing the crumbs of the cake into our hands and then into our mouths. Laughter erupts as we finish the cake. I'm practically rolling on the floor laughing.

That cake taught me so much about community and relationships and being surrounded by God's people because that cake broke the ice as my friends and I got to know each other. God calls us to gather at the table; to break bread with brothers and sisters in Christ. For in breaking bread together, through the food set on the table, the Word is made flesh through that meal and through that gathered community.

This summer, my friends JL, AD and I broke bread together many times while in New Orleans. We sat at a hotel restaurant one evening after listening to the sweet sounds of Jazz at Preservation Hall and broke bread over wine and fresh seafood. Another day, we woke up before the sun rose and found our way to Daisy Dukes for breakfast. Throughout the week, I found myself breaking bread many many times with friends; old and new.

And there have been so many other instances too where I've broken bread with my friends and family. I met my blog friend CM in real life as we broke bread at a beloved NOLA restaurant. A year ago, my friends JA, TM and I met and broke bread over a shared meal together. My friend JD and I broke bread with strangers at a restaurant that serves family style.

The thing is that, all throughout our lives, God blesses those relationships and at the holy tables where we are called to gather and break bread together. Like God provided food for the 5000 gathered with loaves and fishes, God provides for us too through food.

And through food, a visible sign of nourishment, the Word is made flesh. The Word is made flesh through the hands that prepare it. The Word is made flesh through the food set before us. The Word is made flesh through the ways we experience food in new ways. The Word is made flesh in all the ways we gather in community and break bread at the holy table.

I hope someday we all can gather, break bread and share in the Word made flesh through the food set before us.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Word Made Flesh; Artists Edition #3

I thought since I preached today. I would share the Word made flesh through my sermon. I know not everyone will agree, but the words I shared and preached are where God led me.  Enjoy my friends!

Justice on Earth

And just because it's a fun video made by my friend JC to prepare for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, here is the promo video. Enjoy!