Saturday, November 30, 2013

Name that Tune

Holy cow....I made it!! It is November 30th and I have managed to post a blog post every day this month. I am proud of myself for accomplishing what I set out to do. It definitely wasn't an easy task but I got er' done! :)

Last night I watched the live Garth Brooks special with my family. Garth spent some time talking about how when he was little and would listen to the music that his parents listened to, he didn't exactly realize what those songs meant. Now that he is older he has picked up their meaning. As I listened to him, I couldnt help but think of how sometimes I dont always realize what songs mean either.

On my Iphone and in my I-tunes account, I have downloaded the song "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People. I think the first time I heard this song was on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show Ellen. I thought it was a pretty catchy tune and found myself singing along to it. But one day that all changed for me, I was listening to the song and all of a sudden I thought, "Oh how horrible." The words all of a sudden hit me smack dab in the face and I didn't like at all what I was hearing. In fact, I literally cringe every time it comes on my phone and I immediately fast forward through the song.

These words are from the song "Pumped Up Kicks"; "All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run, outrun my gun; All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run faster than my bullet." These words are awful. Perhaps we have been desenitized by the news and everything that is happening in our world. This makes me extremely sad! What has our world come to? (Check out this blog about someone else's thoughts on this song: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-03/entertainment/ct-ent-1004-foster-lyrics-20111004_1_school-shooting-pop-music-song)

I don't claim to hold any musical ability at all, BUT I do LOVE music! And so now I find myself paying closer attention to the songs I listen to. Perhaps that is why I love listening to Christian music. I realize that Christian music too has its faults. I definitely don't agree with every Christian song I hear. One of my favorite songs is Jason Gray's "Remind Me Who I Am." I think I love this song because as both saint and sinner, this song reminds me that I can truly be who God created me to be! I also have more recently come to LOVE the band the Rend Collective Experiment. I think it's because their sound reminds me so much of Mumford and Sons. Here is their song "Build Your Kingdom Here."
 
So as I close this blog challenge my friends, my hope and prayer is that we will pay closer attention to what we listen too...and what it means...not only for ourselves but for those special little ones in our lives. Enjoy the video my friends! And Goodnight! I'll be back soon but probably not every day! :P
 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Shopping

We went Black Friday shopping today! Nope, we weren't some of the crazy people who were there bright and early. We didn't start shopping until about 11 am.

It was somewhat thinned out by the time we started shopping. And I'll admit that there were people who were not the nicest. I remember standing in Menards where my Grandma really needed a cart. She likes to lean on one to help her walk. She got a cart from one of the employees and a younger woman just shook her head. But for the most part people were kind. They waited their turn. They held doors open etc.

I know that isn't the case for all Black Friday experiences but it was our experience today and for that I am grateful.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

ABC's of Thankfulness 2013

First I want to begin by saying Happy Thanksgiving to you all. A year ago I posted a list of my ABCs of thankfulness so I though I would follow suit here today. So sorry if this post gets a little long. And also thank you if you manage to read all the way through this post.

(A) My sister whose name begins with A. I'm so blessed to have her in my life !

(B) Babies!!! I am thankful for all the new babies that have been born. And anyone who knows me knows how much I love babies!!

(C) Camp of the Cross Ministries

(D) Dilworth Lutheran Church. Thank you for blessing my life and making me into the woman leader I am today!

(E) Every Day an Adventure; my friend Sarah's blog and many other blogs I am blessed to read

(F) Friends; awesome, amazing, blessed----also First Lutheran Church as I begin my call there--Family

(G) God's grace

(H) House--my beautiful cute new home---as well as my beloved Huskers

(I) I-phone--I am thankful for the ability to stay in touch with friends and family

(J) Japan where my friend Heather and her hubby are living--I miss her but love hearing about their adventures there

(K) Kindle--I love being able to read lots of books and not having more books to add to my already huge pile

(L)Love---God's love

(M) My momma---Minnesota---Minot---my friend Mike

(N) North Dakota--I love my beloved prairies of ND and am so thankful for being back---as well as the NWMN synod--and Nebraska where I was born

(O) Owl--- gift given to me by a dear friend picked out by her kiddos. He's perched in my car and it always reminds me of my friend and her dear family.

(P) Prayers; lifted for me--that I've lifted for others

(Q) Quarters; I'm thankful I don't have to find quarters anymore every time I want to do laundry

(R) Rook---playing Rook with my family---Rest and Relaxation

(S) Sleep; getting a good nights sleep

(T) Target. I enjoy shopping at Target.

(U) University of Mary

(V) Vacation

(W) Wartburg Theological Seminary and Western ND synod

(X) Xtremely awesome friends

(Y) Youth in my life

(Z) Zumba--I'm still lovin' Zumba and my Zumba gals

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

God Works Through Us

"The Lord is calling you to live as an apostle, to be ready, willing, and able to help him help those around you. Christ wants all people to come to Him and His church. He works through us to make that happen."---Pope Francis

Like many of my friends, the more I hear Pope Francis speak the more I love him! But these words have especially hit home for me tonight. God calls all of us to be disciples!

And God definitely works through us to make Christ's people come to him and through the church! When I look throughout my life, I can think of so many who have helped me to turn to Christ and Christ's church. There is my momma who is an incredible woman of faith and continually reminds me of God's love for all people! There are my colleagues who have taught me so much about Christ and Christ's church. There are the children and homes who have modeled Christ's love for the world! And the list goes on and on!

But do we always see when God uses us; when God uses me? Nope! That's right I don't often see when God uses me to lead others to Christ and Christ's church. But the truth is that God does use me. I've noticed that more recently as I have read the "thank you" cards and notes that I received as I left my last call. I DID and DO make a difference! I am "blessed to be a blessing." Yet that is something I don't always see. And my guess is that I am not alone. However each of us is called to make a difference and God uses us to show others Christ and lead them to Christ's church.

So my friends this week take a moment and reflect on how God has used you to make a difference.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Think I Can (and Other Musings)

I think I can....
I think I can....
I think I can....

Yep when I started this challenge at the beginning of the month I thought no problem, I should be able to think of something to blog about every day. Little did I realize how crazy this month would be! Packing boxes, finishing up a call, moving, unpacking boxes, starting a new call...and somehow I have found a way to blog about something every day. Yet tonight I feel like the little engine that could---I think I can...I think I can...I think can. Hopefully I can make it the next few days until Sunday December 1st.

Ever since I can remember I have loved to write. My mom said she used to give me a pen and a piece of paper when I was little and I was a happy camper. There is something incredibly holy about sitting and writing for me. Yet taking on this challenge has pushed my limits! I wonder at all if I have anything to say. I watch my blogger tracker so I know that people are reading my blogs. But there is a deep part of me that watches for people to comment on my blog. Something about the comments seems to validate my post which I know isn't the case at all. And so I still wonder if I have anything to say at all!

It's kind of like when I preach. I NEVER felt the call to be an ordained minister. I knew that I didn't want to preach every week. And I have incredible respect for those who do! Over the years at DLC, my colleague and I came to an agreement and I preached once a month. I will be honest...I was scared to death the first time that I preached a sermon. I didn't think I had ANYTHING to say at all so I put all my trust in the Holy Spirit. If I were to go back and listen to that first sermon, I know that I would cringe. Yet over the course of the six years, I know that I have grown immensely in my preaching due to the power of the Holy Spirit. And I only say that because of the people who have made comments and told me how they were touched by one of my sermons. It definitely hasn't been about me!  (And I secretly enjoy writing and (sometimes) preaching my sermons. I am still glad that I don't have to do it weekly!)

For me, writing has always been important. It has helped me share about my family's struggles with mental illness. It has been my way of praying...when I can't seem to get the words out and lifted up to God in any other way. Writing has opened a window to my heart and to my soul in so many ways. I may not always post a blog post because it truly is difficult to post a blog post every day. Harder than I ever imagined! Yet this blog is a way for me to put my thoughts out there, to share a piece of me with you my readers, without holding back who I am and/or what I have to say.

I know I can...
I know I can...
I know I can...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Finding Meaning

Some days/some weeks/some years it seems like all I am posting about...is the things that I yearn so deeply for...to find my Mr. Right, to have a family, etc. This past week I have found that I haven't been thinking so much about those things since I am trying to get settled in my new home. Yet when I see a baby being baptized in worship, when I hear a child's laughter, when I see a sweet older couple, I still find that my view is not obstructed and I still want those things. And like I have said before, I know that this will happen in God's timing and not my own, yet that is so much easier said than done.

Yes, I could adopt or do foster care but that isn't easy either. I find myself continually praying for God to show me what God has in store for me and my life. There are days that I can simply go on living my life and yet there are days that I wish/hope/pray for God to make it happen sooner rather than later. Those are totally the times that I want God to give me road signs, traffic signs, etc. Will this happen for me?

I have a dear friend in my life who I have been so blessed to have in my life. Yet he is going through a difficult time himself so I am simply being a good friend. Yet there are times when I wonder what God has in store for us too. I sat down and wrote a letter to this individual because I needed to get my feelings written down on paper (I haven't shared it and don't know if I ever will!). This person is someone I can talk so openly and honestly with. This person is someone who makes me smile and who I enjoy spending time. This person is definetely a blessing in my life. Yet following the call of the Holy Spirit, I wonder what that means for us...for our friendship...etc. There are times that I continually question and wonder why God placed this person in my life at the right time and right place.

I am not sure what this all means. What I do know that I simply need to trust in God. I need to trust that God will answer all the prayers that are being lifted up on my behalf (So many told me that they were praying for these things for me as I left my last call!). I need to trust that God has a plan for my life and that everything will fall into place as it is meant to be.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord...plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you a future with hope."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Return of Sunday Blessings (Sunday Blessings #14)

I was being so good about listing my blessings every Sunday. But then life got away from me and I haven't posted them in a really really long time. This week (from last Sunday to today) has been full of all sorts of blessings. And since I am trying to blog something every day for this National Blog Post Month I thought I would reinstate them today. So here are some of the blessings I have spotted this past week.

(1) A Wonderful Sending Blessing in Worship as I said goodbye to DLC

(2) An awesome Going-Away Lunch. I am so incredibly thankful for all those who came out to bid me farewell.

(3) All the Going-Away gifts. I am incredibly humbled by this as well. Thank You doesn't quite seem like enough. From the items for my new home to the gift cards to everything in between I am so thankful. The gorgeous Going-Away gift from DLC now hangs on my dining room wall. I love that wall hanging so much. And tonight I am wrapped up in the quilt from our DLC quilters.

(4) My colleague and his wife letting me stay with them the night before I headed out for this new adventure

(5) The new church being so excited to receive me. The call committee chair brought over a small gift and flowers on Tuesday night as I arrived here.

(6) Getting settled into my new home

(7) Meeting new friends and spending time talking theology with them at their Thursday Tavern Talk

(8) The Sunday School kids making me an awesome going-away card. And presenting me with it. As well as our fun little sing along

(9) Running into an high school neighbor and friend

(10) Spending time with my aunts and uncle. Shopping for my house, hanging pictures, sitting and talking over supper, and having them worship with me at my new call.

(11) Arriving at my new office and realizing I have an official sign above my door. I also was surprised by how spacious it is.

(12) Breakfast with my new colleague and his wife; getting to know them a little bit.

(13) One of the guys from my call committee being a huge help; helping me haul boxes from my house to my office.

(14) My family FINALLY finishing in the fields! Wooo HOOOO!!!!!

Well that's a pretty good list. I probably could think of a few more but for tonight and this week this will be good. I might have to see if I can keep up posting Sunday Blessings more regularly!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Making A House a Home

It's been a busy day! And my house is finally starting to feel like my home which I am loving!

Some of my family is in town for a convention so my aunt and I went out earlier today. We purchased some items for my house. We bought some new curtains. We purchased a snow shovel for those snowy ND nights. And of course, we got some other items for the house as well.

Then later my uncle helped me hang some pictures. The beautiful gift from DLC is now hanging in my dining room. The coat/key rack is hanging too. Tonight as I sit on my couch I am finally feeling like I am home again.

I know that home is truly where your heart is and that is true. But it is also true that there is something about making a place YOURS. Yes, I miss my friends and family and the relationships that have formed over the last 6 years. And I am looking forward to making new friends. And that all will come in time. But tonight I am definetely feeling like this place is HOME!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Food Friday Five

1. Turkey: love it? hate it? self-basted? fry it or roast it? Tofu-turkey? Tell me more. (I’ve only had one roasted turkey come out totally delish so I’m fishing for your tips!) There is just something about eating Turkey on Thanksgiving. I don't hate turkey but I wouldn't say I love it either. I do like it though! And totally roast it.

2. Stuffing: bagged? homemade? sage? sausage? cornbread? oysters? nuts? Got any inspiration for me? I love, love, love STUFFING! Any kind of stuffing too. I have even been known to make Stovetop stuffing for supper. I know, I know, not the healthiest choice but it is such a comfort food for me.

3. Cranberries: When we celebrated Thanksgiving in Europe one year, our French friends thought we were nuts to choose a very sour berry and then load it with sugar. (Let alone the stuff that comes out of a can in a blob of gelatinous ooze!) What do you do with cranberries? Sorry I just cannot do cranberries!

4. Potatoes: (Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew…) What’s your pleasure? I'm a girl who loves carbs so potatoes are on the top of my list. I like them mashed. I like them in a stew. I like them fried. And I also love sweet potatoes...especially candied sweet potatoes.

5. Pie: I’m married to the Pie Man. Anything but coconut pie floats his boat. What do you make? (or buy?) Pumpkin? Pecan? Apple? I can't remember the last time I made a pie. But I like just about any kind of pie...apple, pecan, cococonut cream and so much more. My fave is pecan though.

BONUS: A recipe that you’ve tried out and will make it to your table this year. I don't cook the meal but if I were to bring something, I would probably bring some of my pumpkin muffins. I found these on Pinterest and they were such a big hit.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cinnamon streusel topping:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
To make the streusel topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add cold butter and toss to coat, using your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, butter, eggs and vanilla.
Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.
Place into oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed.
When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin.
Allow glaze to set before serving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just A Little Light

All of a sudden I am sitting in darkness. Yep earlier tonight I had just settled in to watch "The Big Bang Theory" when all of a sudden my lights and tv flickered off. But they did not flicker back on, they stayed off. I thought perhaps I had tripped a breaker so I took the candle that was burning and worked my way down into my basement where I found the breaker box. Unfortunately that did nothing. So I worked my way back upstairs and found my way back to my phone so I could call the electrical company. They told me that it was a power outage that affected over 2000 costumers and it would be a couple of hours before it got restored. (It was about an hour and a half.) I was thankful that I had agreed to go out with some new friends for their Thursday evening Tavern Talk.

As I sat in my very dark house, I lit several candles. It is amazing how candles produce just a little light; and that little light can help us see. I didn't need many candles to see just a little ways. But I am thankful for those candles that produce just enough light. And as I sat in the dark I couldn't help but think of Jesus as the "light in the midst of the darkness." Jesus truly comes in the light in the midst of the darkness especially when we need it most.

The Advent season is soon upon us and Advent always reminds me of the beauty of this precious Son born in a manger in Bethlehem who comes as the light in the midst of the darkness. For some reason, I find myself reflecting on this more during the season of Advent. Perhaps because the days are shorter and it gets darker earlier. Perhaps because there is so much consumerism that skews our view of what is important. God sent God's son into the world to be the hope in the midst of the despair and to be the light in the midst of the darkness.

Like the little candle, we don't need much to see God. God is continually the light in the midst of the darkness!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Serving the Neighbor

Tonight as I sit in my new home as it snows outside, I am reminded of the many who don't have a place to call home; who don't have a bed to sleep in and who call the streets their homes at night.

I don't always understand the choices people make. I know that some would rather buy cigarettes etc than buy the things they really need. But I also know that's not true for everyone. There are so many for whom this is NOT the choices they would make at all. They would do what they can to provide their family with the needs they need.

Because I/we are the fortunate ones, it is important for us to follow Jesus' example of servanthood. It brings me such joy to watch youth collect food for those who are less fortunate. It brings me joy to watch as presents are wrapped and given to Operation Christmas Child. It brings me such joy to watch families and homes work together to serve their neighbors.

"As for me and my house we will serve the Lord."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baptismal Identity

"Tara Lee, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit." 35 years ago today, those words were spoken to my parents, sponsors and an infant me as I was called and claimed through the waters of Baptism. God chose me and told me who I am; a beloved child of God just like God tells you who you are!

It seems fitting that a new journey began today on the anniversary of my Baptism. Through the waters of Baptism, God makes all things new. And today new is springing up all around me; a new house, a new call, a new city, a new church and so much more. Yet in the midst of the new, I know that God walks with me. I know that God continually reminds me and tells me who I am. And that is a promise worth clinging too.
Not just for me but for all of us.

I am reminded of a plaque I received from my advisor at seminary for graduation. The words remind me that everything flows back to those beloved waters of Baptism.

"Tara Lee, You are a baptized Child of God; whatever else you are, remember that you are that; for that is the basis of whatever else you are."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Good Night

I don't have much to say tonight. It's been a busy day and I'm tired. The truck has been loaded and will arrive at my new home tomorrow. I'm thankful that my colleague and his wife are letting me spend the night at their place tonight. I'll head out in the am. Hopefully I'll have more to say tomorrow but for night Good Night friends!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankfulness and Blessings

Today has been a good day....but also an exhausting day (so this post may be a short one). Today has been a sad day as I leave this place....but also a joy filled day as I look forward to the future and look at the blessings the homes and families of DLC have been in my life. Today has been a day where I have felt loved but it also has been a day reflecting on the blessings this place has been to me (as well as I have been to them).

This place has wrapped me in their love and grace the last six years. Together we have been "christ-bearers" for each other. (My colleague preached this awesome sermon about being "christ-bearers" today...and if you haven't guessed he didn't preach on the assigned texts for the day. He focused today's worships all around "service.") This place has prepared me to follow the Holy Spirit's calling and has prepared me to serve at First in Minot. I am so very thankful for all they have taught me.

Today DLC had this wonderful going away celebration for me. I was incredibly humbled by the cards and gifts that people gave me. I am still trying to take in the words of some of those cards. And I'm still trying to take a hold of it in my heart and mind tonight. The church presented me with this gorgeous wall hanging that says "Family and then underneath that it has the text from Joshua that says "For me and my house, we will serve the Lord." They also had an inscription placed under the picture as well.

I am incredibly humbled by how much I have been blessed by the homes and families of this place. Tonight I am so very thankful for each and every one of those homes and families. Tonight I am thankful for all they have taught me. Tonight I am thankful for the love and grace they have always shown me these last six years.

And tonight I still feel wrapped in their love and prayers which will go with me as I follow the Holy Spirit's calling.




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Praying and Being Prayed For...

During the season of Lent the last several years I have found myself asking friends if they have any prayer requests. So I spend the season of Lent praying through my friend's list. There is something so incredibly holy about praying for my friends and family. It is always so incredible to look at their prayer requests a year later and seeing those requests answered.

I love praying for my friends and family! I know that God doesn't always answer the way they may want or expect, but if I can do something for them by praying, then that is exactly what I will do. And I know that my friends and family have and would return the favor for me. My friends have prayed for my family when someone has been sick or battling an illness. And my friends have prayed for so much more too.

This afternoon I headed over to the church for a 90th Birthday Open House.When I got to church, I was stopped by several of our church members because they know tomorrow is my last day at DLC and some of them are not able to come tomorrow. What has struck me today especially is the prayers that so many are lifting up for me right now. One of my dear ladies from church shared that she has been praying for me to find my Mr. Right. I simply said that it is something that I have wanted for a long time. And she replied that she knew that and that was why she was praying. She also shared that she wants me to have that because it is so great. Later another one of my ladies shared that she thought there were many who were praying that prayer for me.

I trust that God has heard my prayers...the many prayers I have prayed for that same thing. But I also trust that God hears their prayers as well. I know it will happen in God's timing and not mine but sometimes that is so much easier said than done. Yet I know that prayer is so incredibly humbling especially when others are praying for me. I am reminded of some words from one of my favorite liturgies Marty Haugen's Holden Evening prayer where his words capture the simplicity and beauty of prayer: "Our prayers rise up like incense"

Tonight I will say my prayers, lay my head on my pillow and trust in the prayers that are rising like incense for me this night as well.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Belonging to the Prairie

The sky as far as you can see. The wind blowing so hard against your face as you work in the field that the grit and grime sticks to your body. The sweet fresh scent of the North Dakota badlands overtakes me and I take it all in. These are just a few of the things that I love about my beloved North Dakota. My heart and soul have and always belong to the prairie. (Which is where the title of this blog came from)

In seminary, I remember many friends sharing that they did not want to go to ND for their first calls. They didn't want to be out in the middle of nowhere which I understood then and still understand now. Yet I wished that they would just give her a chance...they would see the beauty that this state has. I do remember a seminary professor sharing how much he loved ND and could possibly see himself moving there someday. My heart loved hearing his words. I wish more people could see her beauty.

Yes that beauty has been taken over in the west by the oil. And it isn't the same as it once was. Yet ND still holds her beauty. Years ago many people saw the beauty in the land of North Dakota. Teddy Roosevelt spent much time in the ND badlands and loved being there. He even once said, "I have always said that I would have not been President had it not been for my time in North Dakota." Sakakawea and Lewis and Clark traveled along the route through ND.

For me, there is something so incredibly holy about being in North Dakota. I have spent many nights laying in the grass looking up at the big sky taking in this beautiful land. I have felt the whip of a cold wind on a ND night and have felt the heat of a warm ND summer night on my face. I have heard the Western meadowlark (the ND bird) carry her song throughout the plains of ND. (I love how Teddy Roosevelt captures her voice. He once wrote, "One of our sweetest, loudest songsters is the meadow-lark...the plains air seems to give it a voice, and it will perch on the top of a bush or tree and sing for hours in rich, bubbling tones.") I have watched my father, uncle, and grandfather work the land of ND. And I have found my place in the prairie! In the prairie, I am able to feel a sense of holiness, a sense of peace, a sense of belonging that I haven't found anywhere else.

It is hard to put into words what the ND prairies do for my heart and soul. It is hard to share with others that haven't experienced it like I have. Yet I know that my heart and soul belong to the prairie. Again Teddy Roosevelt seems to have captured my thoughts best. Living in the ND badlands, he once wrote "There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm." Or as he also wrote "Nothing could be more lonely and nothing more beautiful than the view at nightfall across the prairies to these huge hill masses, when the lengthening shadows had at last merged into one and the faint after-glow of the red sunset filled the west."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Heart Ready To Love

Anyone who has read this blog before knows that my heart is so ready for someone to love. It is so ready to meet Mr. Right and have a family. And it is so ready to be loved by that special someone.

I am at that point in my life where everyone around me is married, having their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd children or is engaged. I am so truly happy for my friends yet it is so very difficult at the same time. Ever since I can remember I've wanted to be a wife and mom. I did learn from the best. Even living with a mental illness most of my life, my mom is one of the most amazing woman in the world. I someday hope that I am at least half the wife and mother she has been.

I yearn so much for these things in my life. I have wonderful amazing guy friends yet I have not found that special someone. There is the brother I always wanted who has been a blessing in my life. Since getting married, we haven't been able to keep in touch like we used too. And there is a dear guy friend in my life who is going through his own struggles. He is someone that I can talk to openly and honestly about anything and everything, yet I know he is grieving the loss of his marriage so I am trying to simply be a good friend. Yet part of me wonders what God might have in store for us. I know that if it is meant to be, it will happen BUT that is so much easier said than done.

I trust that this will happen in God's timing and not my own. But that too is so much easier said than done. At 35 years old, I am so ready. Some of my friends have tried to talk me into doing foster care or adopting. I have prayed about it for a long time. And really think that I could see myself doing it sooner rather than later if that is what the Holy Spirit has in store for me. Perhaps that is how I am meant to be a mom! I know it won't be easy but I believe and trust that God would place people into my life that would walk with me on this journey.

This is something I yearn so deeply for and I find myself blogging about it so often. There is something about writing my thoughts down and putting it out there. I just wish that my prayers, my yearnings, my longings would come true...sooner rather than later.

For now, I trust in the one who calls and claims me as a beloved child of God. For now, I trust in the one who promises to never leave us or forsake us. For now, I trust that it will happen in God's timing and not my own.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Virtual Version of Putting Pen to Paper

Wow...here I am 13 days into this month of blog posts. And I am happy to say that I have actually been able to keep it up. I'll admit that I'm not always sure if I have anything at all to say but I have found myself putting something on this page...a virtual version of putting pen to paper.

My mom used to tell me that when I was bored when I was little, all she had to do was give me pen and paper and I was a happy camper. I do enjoy writing but I really don't spend the time to do it anymore. A couple of years ago I found a writing group at the local library and decided to take it up. Unfortunately there were only a few of us and the group eventually fell apart which made me sad. It was a place I felt comfortable writing; actually writing stories, etc and not work related stuff like sermons etc.

However I had an experience one day that totally broke my heart. One of the poems I shared was about my mom and her battle with mental illness. A visitor to the group that night basically attacked me and asked if my mom knew I was sharing her/our story and said I shouldn't do that. She was very adamant that it just wasn't right. I remember I was so taken aback and ran out of the class in tears. I even called my colleague because I wasn't sure what to think. It was the first time I really experienced something like that. Ever since that experience, I have found myself holding back; holding back what I have to say because I am afraid of what people might think.

So perhaps this blog post a month challenge is just what I have needed! Something to finally get me virtually putting pen to paper more consistently and more openly.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Built Up In Love

"I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift."

"The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love (Ephesians 4:1-10, 12-16)."

I've heard this passage many times in my life. Tonight my colleague used this text as our council devotion. I was only at council for a few minutes because the Bishop was there as they begin to talk about what the next step is for them. But they wanted me to come to give a final report so when my colleague read this text, I had to smile. My colleague has always been some one that I have learned a lot from. Like my colleague stated tonight, the first times he heard these texts he wondered what gifts he brought but now he looks at that text and wonders what texts each of them bring. Oh how true...they have instilled gifts in me that I didn't have before. They each bring their own gifts. And together those gifts build up the community.

The words that stuck out for me tonight though were the words "Building itself up in love." These people have loved me. They have shown me what God's love and their love look like and they have written that love on my heart; a love that goes with me no matter where I go. Together we have "built each other up in love."

It's hard to imagine what my life would have been like without being called to DLC. God truly does have a sense of humor. Who would have ever thought that I would end up here but that is exactly wherre God called me? And I have been incredibly blessed to serve the homes and families of DLC. I am so very thankful for all they have taught me. I am so thankful for the love they have written on my heart. I am so very thankful for the gifts that we have shared together and the gifts they have instilled in me. And I am so thankful for them "building me up in love."

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Veteran's Day Post

Today is Veteran's Day! I am so very thankful for the men and women who have served our country for our freedom. I think especially of my late Grandpa Sam. I also think of my many friends and families who serve in the military. I am thankful for all of them! My friend Gretchen's fiancee wrote this awesome blog post about Veteran's Day. His post is so profound and I couldn't say it any better myself so go check out his blog post at: http://thoughtfultheologues.wordpress.com. I hope you appreciate it as much as I did!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Written on My Heart

Today began the beginning of my last week at my current call. I chose to preach on two texts that have been engrained into our very being at that call over these last six years. I preached on Deut 6:4-9 and Micah 6:8. I knew that the likelihood of me shedding tears was extremely high so I stashed a box of Kleenex under the pulpit. Good thing too because tears were definitely shed.

After worship several people came up to me and gave me a hug because they are not going to be there next Sunday for my last Sunday. One hugged me and was like you've been here since my boys were little. So very true!

Another one was like you didn't have to make your sermon so sad. That was not my intention but how do you recap 6 wonderful years in just 7-10 minutes? Impossible I say! :p Maybe not impossible but definitely difficult!

I'm thankful for this dear place that has blessed me in so many ways. They have written on my heart God's love and their love and that love will always go with me no matter where I go!

As one of my friends reminded me on FB today, tears mean you care and they care and life together has been good! Tonight I go to bed feeling blessed; ready to spend this next week sharing one last time with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

For without them I wouldn't be the woman leader I am today! They have watched me grow and shaped me into who I am today!!


Saturday, November 09, 2013

A Short and Sweet Update

Everything all of a sudden feels so real. My guest bedroom has become the staging area and there isn't much room to walk. Tomorrow I preach my last sermon at DLC. This is probably the hardest sermon I've ever had to write. I know the Holy Spirit will be with me but still nervous to preach it tomorrow. How do you capture the last 6 years in just a few short minutes? So that's what's on my mind tonight! Prayers for tomorrow's word being proclaimed would be much appreciated my dear readers and friends!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Spiritual Purge

Lots of boxes are cluttering my guest bedroom right now. The spare bed that I have been borrowing has been picked up and returned to its owner. The cupboards and drawers in the kitchen are starting to look very empty. And my walls look extremely bare right now. I also have taken several bags to the dumpster and have a pile to be taken to the local thrift store.

Having a pile ready for the thrift store means that I have been "purging" as I have been packing my boxes. For some reason, it feels so good to get rid of stuff that I don't need or haven't used since I moved in here six years ago. Under my bathroom sink, there must be like 15 bottles of body lotion. Pure insanity! I don't imagine that I will take them all with me when I leave. But I do hope that I can share them with a friend or two. I hate throwing full and half opened bottles away. It just feels so wrong when so many around the world dont have the luxuries that I/ we have in the world.

There is something so incredibly life-giving about purging. I need to purge everything else in my life; the busyness etc so I can spend more time with God and not be so focused on other stuff. Perhaps we need to have a spiritual purge; purging everything else so that we can spend more time with God. I think after I move and get settled I am going to purge more of the unnecessary stuff in my life so I can more consistently spend time with God. You would think that working in a church that I spend enough time with God. But what I have realized is that I am God at encouraging it in others etc but I dont always take the time to pray for myself..and talk to God about my hopes and fears.

An Incredibly Random Friday Five

1. What’s up? How are you? I am getting for a transition. I have accepted a new call and am 9 days away from my last day at my current  call. So I am full of all sorts of emotions; happiness, sadness, joy, sorrow, etc. It is such a weird place to be and so very bittersweet but am ready for this new adventure and to be closer to my momma.

2.
If you were a Panda Bear that could speak O.k., even that is too random for me. You are moving to a new office. You can only take five books with you (pretend there is no thing such as kindle, nook, etc.). What would they be BESIDES teh Bible, which is already written on your hearts, yes? I laughed when I read this question because I am moving and getting a new office (as I stated in the above question). So if I had to pick five books besides the Bible, I would pick (1) Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, (2) The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen, (3)Vibrant Faith in the Congregation by Dr. David Anderson, (4) From Word to Sacrament: The History of the Diaconate--Dr. Duane Larson (5) One of my fave children's books about being from the Prairie. I am blanking on the title and that bookshelf has already been packed away into boxes so I cant go check.

3. If you had a superpower that could give you a five hour retreat, and you could go anywhere in the world to spend those five hours on retreat (because you have superpowers, ya’ know?), where would you go? There are two places that I would go to; two of my favorite places on Earth; SuperAwesomeBibleCamp (aka Camp of the Cross in Western ND) and Wartburg Seminary. I haven't been to WTS in so long and that is a holy place that I yearn to be at.

4. What piece of music, song, hymn, etc. are you diggin’ right now? One of my favorite Christian bands at the moment is For King and Country. But I also am diggin' The Rend Collective Experiment. The Rend Collective reminds me of Mumford and Sons. And of course, Psalm 30 by Ben Larson always holds a special place in my heart too.

5. Use the following words in a sentence (or two): Tangle, dribble, hook, Panda, shark, smile, worry, island. The Panda will dribble a basketball with a smile on his face. The shark will worry especially when he seeks a hook that could tangle him up.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Not Much To Say

I am a rule follower; always have been and probably always will be. So like some of my other friends when committing to do something, it feels like cheating when I don't do something. So since I am attempting to blog a post every day this month, it feels wrong for me to not post anything at all. But it has been a long day and I'm tired...so I don't have much to say tonight. I spent the day at work and then this afternoon had my exit interview with the synod as I prepare to leave for a new call. I am thankful for the four individuals from my current call who sat with me. It was a humbling and uplifting experience. I am so thankful for that. So tonight I simply want to say "Goodnight." Goodnight my dear readers and friends. May you rest well tonight too. And hopefully I'll have something more substantial to say tomorrow. And if not, you might get a fun Friday Five post! Or maybe it will be your lucky day and you will get both. Goodnight all!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Saints and Sinners

In good Lutheran terms, I know that I am both "saint and sinner." I make stupid choices. But I also know that God forgives me when I make those stupid choices too. I try not to swear but sometimes it happens. Lately I have found the word "darn it" slipping out. Tonight it happened when I was saying thank you and goodbye to my 7th Grade Confirmation class and their mentors. I apologized for using the word. It's the second time it has happened in the last several weeks. Yes, it accidently happened in the pulpit when I was preaching my sermon a few weeks ago. I was mortified that it happened here!

I don't have a habit of using those words but for some reason, this word has been slipping out. And coming from my mouth, I'll admit this word seems a little strange. I remember one summer at camp a co-counselor asking me to say the "F Word" because he just couldnt see it coming from my mouth. He was like you are just not meant to use swear words. Which I guess truly is a good thing. But as the word "darn it" has fallen from my mouth I realize that it helps people see me as real. Like everyone else I make mistakes. I use not nice words when I shouldnt etc.

I am thankful for people like Nadia Bolz-Weber who remind me that I need to be who God created me to be. Nadia doesn't apologize for who she is. Nadia isnt afraid to share that she has lived a rough life and that she, in her words, "swears like a truck driver." I understand that people think that leaders shouldnt swear etc and I get that. But leaders need to be REAL...to be who they are...to be who God created them to be.

We are all "saint and sinner." And God claims us in the midst of our sainthood and our sinfulness. God forgives us of our sins and continually calls and claims us as God's children. Since we were born and throught the holy waters of Baptism, God says "You are mine." That is an eternal promise; an eternal promise for all "saints and sinners."

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

"What If Healing Comes Through Tears"

"What if healing comes through tears..." Driving home from a meeting at church tonight, I heard these words as the music blared from my speakers. I've heard these words many times. These words are from Christian artist Laura Story's song "Blessings." But for some reason, these words caught me more than ever tonight.

Maybe they caught me more than ever because  I am in the midst  of a transition; only 12 days left at my current call. Time has gone so fast. And the goodbyes are so very difficult to say. Tonight I was at church for my last Education committee meeting. They brought goodies to the meeting because it was my last meeting. I was touched by their simple gesture! And realized that this was yet another goodbye.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am Miss Emotional. I mean come on, I've been known to cry at Hallmark commercials. But tonight as I was listening to these words from Laura Story's song, I found myself realizing that perhaps tears are one of my gifts...that tears are a way for me to express my emotions and to heal. Perhaps the tears I have been shedding these last several weeks and that will be shed over the next 12 days are a way for me to say goodbye; to prepare for this new adventure but also these tears are God's way of helping me heal.

And perhaps tears aren't such a bad thing after all...

Monday, November 04, 2013

Friends

I just returned home from one of the first of several goodbye dinners. The gals I met up with tonight are ladies I met while doing Zumba at Curves. Since that Curves has closed, many of us have gone our seperate ways with working out etc. But last month we got together and had supper. After I shared my news about moving, they were like we definetely need to get together one last time so I proposed a time and a place.

I left my apartment at about 6:10 pm and arrived around 6:20 pm or so. When I entered into the restaurant they were like you can't come over here yet. So I went to the bathroom and waited until they gave me the go ahead to come back. We visited and waited for a few of the other ladies to arrive too. Once everyone arrived, they handed me a card and said, "We wanted to do a little something for you." I opened up the beautiful handmade card; only to find some cash. I was flabbergasted. I didn't expect anything at all but this was such a beautiful gesture.

We ordered our meals and spent over an hour visiting and eating our meal. My soul was so full as I sat with them. I laughed so hard that at times my eyes were watering. I found myself taking in each and every moment of this gathering tonight. I am so thankful that my path and their paths have crossed.  I am so blessed to have these individuals in my life.

It is so incredible to me how God places people into our lives and our lives are blessed because of those relationships. I can think of so many relationships/friendships were that is true. I think of my collegues in youth ministry. I think of my friends from Camp of the Cross. I think of my friends from college, high school and seminary days. I think of those I have met through the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. I think of so many friendships throughout the course of my life. But there are also times I wonder if I am a good friend at all. But then I experience something like I did tonight and I realize that I have made a difference...that I too have blessed someone else's life.

So tonight I simply want to say "thank you" for being my friend; for blessing me beyond words! You are all such incredible blessings in my life and I don't know where I would be without ALL of YOU! Thank you for loving me for who God created me to be. Thank you for showing me God's love and grace through our friendships!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

For All The Saints...

Growing up I never experienced much death. I don't remember attending a funeral with my parents. I do remember others getting out of school for a grandparent or another family member's funeral. I remember thinking I was fortunate to still have my grandparents etc in my life.

Then that all changed. My dad's dear friend lost his wife. My good friend lost her mother. I remember walking into that sanctuary with my family. I remember feeling many raw emotions. My friend's mom was so good to my mom; a dear friend who was always there for us and none she was gone. And like my friend I had many questions; What happened? Why did she die?

After that experience it was several years before I experienced someone in my life dying. This time it was my grandfather. I remember driving hours and many miles so my mom and I would be at the funeral. I remember seeing Grandpa laying so still in that casket. I remember crying and grieving the loss of this dear person in my life. I remember at the cemetery laying the urn next to his own mom and dad!

Almost five years ago, my best friend was laid to rest. I remember picking up my phone and hearing the words from her mom. I miss her every day. And then about three years later we laid Grandma to rest as well. And then over the last couple of years my cousin has had to lay her little children to rest as well.

In January of 2010, I wept and mourned as I heard about the Haiti earthquake. My friend Renee was there with her husband and her husbands cousin. And soon we learned that Renee's husband Ben had lost his life. A life cut way too short. I found myself grieving for Renee but also grieving for the losses she would experience because of Bens death.

My heart aches...aches for all those relationships that have been lost. Yet I am reminded of the words to Psalm 30 "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning!"

These beautiful saints are blessings in our lives and I am glad that God placed them in my life. I'm thankful for all that they taught me. And so today I say thank you for these saints in my life; these saints who now from their labors rest; Renee, Sam, Bess, Maia, Jack, Arlys, Mandy, Shan, Ben, Reinie, and so many others.

These saints have made a difference in my life. And there are so many still here who have made a difference too. So as another bloggy friend suggested, " Who are you going to let know that they have been a blessing in your life?"



Saturday, November 02, 2013

Cloud of Witnesses

A Bible in a beautiful pink handmade Bible cover has been sitting in my office since my Grandma passed away several years ago. My aunt and I were cleaning Grandma's nursing home room after Grandma's funeral when she came across the Bible in a drawer. She looked at me and said, "You'd like this wouldn't you?" No words were spoken or needed to be spoken in that moment. Auntie C simply handed it to me. I treasure that Bible so much! It represents one of the many in my "cloud of witnesses."

Just the other day as I was packing up my office, this dear Bible was carefully packed away in the box for this next move.

Also my Uncle on my dad's side showed me a very well worn well loved Bible that made its way from Germany to the United States. The Bible is my great great great grandmothers. And Uncle T wants me to have it. It is very brittle and delicate but it too reminds me of my "cloud of witnesses."

There are so many who make up my "cloud of witnesses"; who have nurtured me in faith and values. They have made me into the woman of Faith that I am today!

It is so important for us all to share what we have been taught by our "cloud of witnesses." In my current call, my job has been to help equip homes to pass on faith and values. We encourage the Vibrant Faith Ministries 4 Keys for Christian Living: Caring Conversation, Rituals/Traditions, Devotion/Prayer/Worship and Service. We've watched divorced homes sit together for Confirmation class. We've seen how important it is to help equip homes to pass on faith and values. Each home is surrounded by their own "cloud of witnesses." Today's youth need parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc to be a part of their "cloud of witnesses."

Seeing the "cloud of witnesses" isn't always easy in our fast paced world. It isn't easy in a world of broken homes. So how can we help equip homes to pass on faith and values? How can we help make sure that youth and all generations are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses?

Friday, November 01, 2013

My First Attempt at NaBloPoMo

Well let's see how this goes! So apparently it is NaBloPoMo (national blog post month). I have been trying to blog more but like some of my friends etc I have a hard time blogging because I am not sure if I have anything to say! But I figure it is worth giving something a try at  least once! :)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an extremely emotional person? I cry at just about anything; Hallmark commercials, sappy movies, sad movies, etc! I also can get overly excited. In other words, I love HARD! Right friends! I mean I might as well invest in Kleenex stock, right?!?!

I've been thinking a lot about who I am as an emotional woman lately as I prepare for this new call. It is so very bittersweet to leave a place that has blessed me in so many ways. I couldnt even get through my Confirmation sermon last week and my sermon on wrestling with God the week before without tears. In some ways it feels so surreal. And other ways I am so excited. Excited to start this new adventure that God has called me too. Excited to be closer to my family. Excited to...in many ways....come home; home to Western ND.

Yet the tears still well up in my eyes! And sometimes I get upset that I am so emotional. I get frustrated that I cry when I dont want to. But then I remember...remember that this is who I am...and this is who God created me to be! A VERY VERY EMOTIONAL WOMAN who experiences life and its emotions with all its intensity and all its joy.

"Weeping may come for the night but joy comes with the morning"  Psalm 30

(And as I think about what I am going to blog about this month, Im asking you my readers, what should I blog about?)

Super Power Friday Five

List five super powers that you use in your vocational life. This isn’t bragging. It’s naming the light that shines from your lamp stand.

(1) Being a positive smiley person. At least thats what I have been told. I'm not saying I don't have bad days because I totally do!! When I was in college, a couple of friends nicknamed me "smiley" because they said I always had a smile on my face. It is totally a gift that I have been given by God.

(2) A baby whisperer. Ok I am not really one but I LOVE babies. And I jump at every chance I get to hold a baby or help out a family at church. A couple of years ago at our church dinner I helped out a family, took the baby and rocked him straight to sleep which is exactly what his momma had been trying to do.

(3) Writer/Preacher! I have been a writer ever since I can remember. I also never thought I would preach but I love that my collague lets me preach once a month. Lately I have gotten lots of compliments. Totally all the work of the Holy Spirit and I am glad to partner with the Holy Spirit here.

(4) A Master Packer! Ha! I have had way too much experience packing and helping others pack...through seminary etc. And now I am finding myself in the midst of a transition as I get ready to start a new call. Crazy to think that I actually am a pretty good packer! :P

(5) Self-Care. I really try to take care of myself because it is so important. I try to work out and do Zumba a couple of times a week. I try to eat healthier...which Im not great at...but I keep trying! :) I make sure to carve out time to spend with family and friends!