Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Blessings 155

(1) A sweet compliment from a lady at Curves tonight.

(2) A beautiful ornament from my friend SS

(3) Part 2 of the Here Hear podcast

(4) More leftovers

(5)  Talking to MW on the phone

(6) Finding new episodes of Nashville

(7) Using some of my Christmas gift cards.

(8) Breaking in my new Dutch oven and making homemade French onion soup.

(9) Having a nice conversation with a lady at Herbergers.

(10) Cinnamon Gummy Bears

(11) A great LYO board meeting

(12) Gentlemen who help get you unstuck.

(13) A gorgeous night and a beautiful full moon

(14) Getting to hug NF and EB

(15) A 1st grader asking me to pray for his fish that died.

(16) A sweet gift.

(17) Hugs from some of my faves

(18) A beautiful PLN

(19) Fresh fruit and veggies

(20) Some beautiful above zero degree days

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In the Middle

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "middle". It was so good to see this crew and get back into the groove of FMF. We'd love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

I hear my sister and I singing loudly to a beloved country song "We meet in the middle neath that old Georgia pine, you start walking my way, I start walking yours." It is the first thing that popped into my mind when I read this week's word prompt. It is a song that holds special memories and a special place in my heart.

There is something holy about being in the middle especially when the middle is that place where we find ourselves. In fact, sometimes being in the middle is exactly where we need to be. The middle is one of the best places to be like the creme in the Oreo cookie, or the meat in the midst of a yummy sandwich and so much more.

I like being in the middle of my dear friends. One day we will gather at a table where some of us will indeed be stuck in the middle surrounded by one another. We will all start walking toward one another where we will meet in the middle. 

And sometimes, it is in the middle of the sky that God paints God's masterpieces; a night sky, the stars scattered across that same sky, and so much more. The middle isn't such a bad place to be, is it? 

A Holy Experience

Today, there was no need to look at the calendar as from the moment the sun rose, I knew that today was leading us into January 12th. Seven years ago, on this date, the earthquake hit in Haiti where three Wartburg Seminary students Renee Splichal Larson, Ben Splichal Larson and Jon Larson  were presenting as part of their January term class. At that same time, I found myself gathered with my small group as we strained to listen to one of Ben's songs "Mourning into Dancing." The words echoed through my ears and heart.

That afternoon, as I lay in my hotel room, the news of the earthquake quickly spread. Yet due to the vague reports, we found ourselves waiting and yearning to hear more about Ben, Renee and Jon. For days, there was much confusion as we tried to learn more about the earthquake. Then on Thursday morning, it was confirmed that Ben had lost his life in the earthquake. 

I still remember picking up my phone that morning and answering it. As I held the phone in my hands, my heart began to sink as Shera asked if she could come to me. I hung up the phone and waited for her to arrive. From the moment I put down my phone, I knew that the news was not good. Shera and I stood and embraced each other in the cold of a January Pennslyvania day as her roommate stood in the cold with us. We walked to the refectory where we had to break the news to our new friends. I remember my voice being on auto-pilot as all I could repeat was "Ben is gone". The tears quickly began pouring from our eyes and wouldn't stop as we all held each other in the midst of our grief. It is a holy experience I won't soon forget.

So I always begin today with a heavy heart and soul. I also always begin and end January 12th listening to Ben's song Mourning into Dancing which holds these dear words from Psalm 30:5 "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning." After the dark nights of weeping, joy does indeed eventually come again. But we are forever shaped by the losses in our lives.

My blog friend Janel shared this quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and it has been ringing in my heart and soul today as I remember Ben and all who lost their lives in the Haiti earthquake. Ross writes, 
"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to." 
Our experiences--good and bad--shape who we are. They help us to live our best lives and remember the ways we have been blessed and changed.  In the words of Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

So today, as we remember Haiti, Ben, and all who lost their lives that day, we cry out and sing, "God's peace to us we pray."--a peace that is born and grounded in the hope of God!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Power of Story and Vulnerability

I am always amazed at the people and places God has placed into my life. It has been such a joy to get to know so many friends in the blogging world, at seminary, and in numerous other places. Telling our stories is a holy act that opens us up to our own vulnerability.

As Brene Brown states, "Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."

The infinite power of our light is a beautiful image. It reminds me of the Japanese art form kinstigu where they put gold lacquer over the cracks. The gold reminds us of the brokenness of this piece of art, but is also the place where the light gets in. Are we willing to be vulnerable, even though it is risky?

This week, I returned to the Here Hear podcast to talk more about growing up as a daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness. Today, Nate and I talk stigma and story. You can listen to this week's episode here: Here Hear Podcast (Part 2).

I am linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the Ra Ra Linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.



Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sunday Blessings 154

(1) A sweet early morning text from LT

(2) Yummy French onion soup

(3) Fun mail

(4) Talking to JL on the phone

(5) Voxing with KA

(6) A sweet text from my good friend MW

(7) My first ever podcast appearance goes live.

(8) A sweet surprise from the circle ladies

(9) Voxing with VF

(10) Return of #fmfparty

(11) #slatespeak

(12) Texting with JS

(13) A sweet compliment from a parishioner

(14) Great group of people who helped peel potatoes and get ready for tomorrow's events

(15) A fantastic PLN

(16) A good day at church celebrating our receptionist on her retirement and saying farewell to our pastor and his family.

(17) Leftover stuffing

(18) A sweet Vox from CH

(19) Hugs

Thursday, January 05, 2017


am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "connect". It was so good to see this crew and get back into the groove of FMF. I've missed these peeps, Tonight we talked all things; wine and chocolate, one words and snow, skiing and cold. We'd love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

My hands clasped 
Around my cuP
And warmed up
By the sheer warmth 
Of it 
As we listen and chat
Over a hot cup 
On this cold winter day.

Our hearts connected
In just a few moments
Over life and love and faith.

My fingers tap 
Across the keyboard
On Twitter 
Across computer and phone screens.

So many question
These connections
But they are sincere and true
True in every sense of the word.

Connections made
From east to west
North to south
Across faith lines
And connected
As family of God.

Like a puzzle
Snapped into place
Piece by piece
God pieces our lives
And connects us together
With beloved brothers and sisters 
In Christ.

And as each piece
Finds its proper place
In the puzzle
A beautiful masterpiece
Unfolds before our very eyes.

A masterpiece
Through the love
And grace of God;
Connected when we move
The table to where 
All are welcomed and connected
At the holy altar;
Connected in water, bread, wine
And the Word

To reveal 
A beautiful elegant masterpiece 
Of Gods people

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

My First Ever Podcast Appearance

In mid December, I had a really great conversation with Nate Crawford; the founder of Here Hear which is an organization dedicated to mental health awareness. Nate and I talked about my self published book and growing up as a daughter with a parent with a mental illness.

You can listen to the podcast here: Here Hear Podcast (Part 1 of 2)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Sunday Blessings 153

(1) A great chat with FH

(2) Texting with my faves

(3) Knoephla soup

(4) Playing Rook with the family

(5) Getting our cars free of ice

(6) Time with grandma and grandpa

(7) Dumplings

(8) Making it home safely

(9) Voxing with KA

(10) Texting with MW and TM

(11) Snow shoveling angels! Thanks RT!

(12) Good Earth chai tea

(13) Binge watching Fuller House

(14) A quiet NYE at home

(15) Flying solo at church

(16) Brunch with great church peeps

(17) A gift of a bucket of fruit

Firmly Planted in Hope

"And so, Lord, my only hope is in you!"--Psalm 39:7 (Living Translation)

"We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain."--Hebrews 6:19 (NRSV)

For the last several years, I've participated in the One Word 365. The last three years have been shaped by the words "gentle," "brave," and "embrace." As 2016 comes to a close, I've been waiting for God to show me my new word. Several friends gave me great words but my one word made me feel different from the other words. My new word is a word that is grounded in my faith and the ways that this word is brought about in this world. My one word is......HOPE!

It is the one word that keeps showing up. One of my friends chose hope for me. My friend KK tweeted about driving past a town named "Hope." I came home to mega snow and found hope in the three souls who came to shovel me out. Another friend TR tweeted about how her word is resist and how she will resist in hope. In each of these instances, there was that word "hope." So this year I will be open-hearted to hope.

2016 has been a hard year; a year that I didn't want to particularly embrace at times. A contentious election. The unnecessary killing of people simply due to the color of their skin. My Muslim, Jewish and LGTBQ+ friends afraid for their lives. Several of my friends losing their first born children.  My heart breaks at all the hatred, evil and loss that I see in our broken fractured world

Yet I've seen glimmers of hope. Hope in church leaders. Hope in leaders who are working for change. Hope in family and friends who show radical love to all Gods children. Hope in the Word made flesh; in Emmanuel "God with us";  who births messy messy hope through his life, ministry, ultimately death, and resurrection.

So hope is something that I can cling too and am choosing to cling to in 2017. In fact, "hope is the only thing stronger than fear." Hope breaks into this world like a rising sun at sunrise. It shines light into the darkness just like a candle lit in the darkness. It is just enough light for us to be able to see. In the words of Desmond Tutu, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness."

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all."--Emily Dickinson

As hope settles in my heart and mind, hope will anchor my soul in the midst of all of life's storms. Hope changes things. It changes things for the better. It gives itself to this broken fractured world. It perches in our souls and is unending.

May 2017 be a year firmly planted in hope!

Eye of the Storm--Ryan Stevenson