Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

As I sit in my house on New Year's Eve and reflect on this past year, I realize how incredibly blessed I am. 2013 was full of many emotions. It was filled with sadness and tears. It was filled with excitement and joy! It was filled with so much. There are still things that I wish/hope/prayer for for myself in 2014 as well as for my friends and family. Here is a look back at 2013.

Jan---January began with a bang! I roadtripped out to Loveland and Ft. Collins Colorado. It was such a joy to get to see my dear friends SP and DP as well as JCK and CK. I am thankful for JCK and CK for letting me stay with them. It was so much fun to explore downtown Ft. Collins and to ring in the beginning of 2013 with dear friends who have blessed my life.

Feb---"Silver Linings Playbook" with my sister. This movie is fantastic! I am so glad that the movie industry tackled the topic of mental illness. I bought this movie on DVD I liked it that much. February also brought about the Super Bowl and the Grammys!

March---Palm Sunday! One of my favorite times in the church year. March also brought about one of my favorite blog posts of this past year. It was a letter titled "To My Beloved." This blog post was a way for me to share my thoughts for my Mr. Right. To this day, that is something I still hope/pray/wish for!

April---I celebrated my 7th annivesary as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA. Hard to believe that it has already been 7 years! Time sure flies when you are having fun! :)

May---Volunteering for ND Special Olympics State Summer Games. For the last several years, I have run their concessions for them. It warms my heart to volunteer for events like this. A tornado hit in Oklahoma City----so sad. MN passes the Freedom to Marry Act! WOOOO HOOOO!!!!!!

June---My hometown celebrated their 125th anniversary. It was so much fun. My family rode in the parade. We had a covered wagon, a 1970 something tractor and a 2013 model. I got to see many of high school classmates who I havent seen in years. It was fun to catch up with all of them. We had a summer picnic with family in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard. I participated in the community worship service with my dad and two other daughters of Zion Lutheran. What an incredible blessing! After worship, I drove to F-M and hopped on a plane so I could attend the last week of the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. I am so thankful for friends who let me drive back with them. LAR was short but totally glad I got to do at least some of it.

July---Diaconal Ministry Gathering near Baltimore, Maryland. It was exactly what my soul needed. I love spending time with my DM brothers and sisters. Wish we could do it more often. I treasure the conversations, prayer, etc that we share at these gatherings.

August---A First for Me! I officiated at my first wedding! It was so much fun and I am so glad that I did it. The wedding was for a young lady who I have known since she was a baby. Her and her family are like family to my sister, mom, and I. For the wedding, my sis and I picked up Mom and she got to spend 4 days with us. She was so excited! I also spent some time with dear WTS friends at the MN State fair this month.

September---My 35th Birthday! Dinner with some of my favorite people at DLC, Dessert with some of my youth worker friends and DLC friends. Stopping and visiting one of my dearest friends. So blessed to have him in my life!

October---Outrageous Faith Event at UND. Getting to hear Nadia Bolz-Weber speak. Having her autograph my copy of her book. This also was the month I made the announcement to DLC that I would be leaving.

November---This was one of the hardest things of this past year! Saying Goodbye to Dilworth Lutheran. They have blessed me in so many ways and have made me into the woman leader that I am today! They will forever be in my heart and prayers! They gave me a beautiful going away gift. They had an awesome going away lunch for me. After my last Sunday at DLC, the moving van was packed up and headed for its new destination. I got the keys to my new home; a house which I am loving and so incredibly thankful for. It has been fun to make it feel like mine!

December---Beginning my new journey at First Lutheran. Being installed by one of my dearest friends who is also a diaconal minister as well. Having my sister come to my installation service. Getting to go to Mom's Christmas party at the nursing home. I dont think I have ever been able to be there with her for it. So blessed to get to share that day with her. Christmas with the family. I also lead worship and preached at FLC for the first time this month as well.

Blessings to all of you as we begin 2014!  And may your 2014 be blessed!!

Praying on the Prairie's Top Ten Blog Posts from 2013

My friend Anna over at GirlwithBlog posted her top ten posts from 2013. As I read through her list, I thought it would be fun to see what my top posts here at Praying on the Prairie are. So here you go.....my top ten blog posts from 2013.

(10) I Am A Daughter; Part 2    
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/01/i-am-daughter-part-two.html

I am a daughter! Yet somedays it is easier to be that daugher than other days. As many of you know who read this blog, I am a daughter of a woman who lives with a mental illness. She has taught me more about faith and life than I can even begin to tell you. She has never let her illness get in the way of who she is. She is the most faith-filled woman of God and has nurtured faith in both me and my sister.

(9) Road Maps and Traffic Signs
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/09/road-maps-and-traffic-signs.html

If you are a faithful reader to this blog, you know that I have commiserated often about how my life isn't where I would like it to be. At 35 years old, I am so ready to find my Mr. Right and settle down with a family. For the most part, my heart is content, yet I yearn so deeply for these things; yearn sooooo sooooo soooo DEEPLY

(8) Goodbyes
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/10/goodbyes.html

I've never been one who is good at saying goodbyes! And attending seminary didn't help that at all, the community was always changing around me. I am thankful for a dear friend who shared Joyce Rupp's book "Praying our Goodbyes!" It helped me look at goodbyes in a different light.

(7)Sunday Blessings
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/07/sunday-blessings.html

I am sitting here listening to the news and my heart is just sad. The death of Glee star Corey Monteith, the verdict in the Treyvon Martin case, a local special needs man having his bike stolen (twice). I can't help but be sad yet there is so much to be thankful for so instead of dwelling on the sadness I am going to list at least ten things that I am thankful for today.

(6) On Being Single....and Trying to be Content
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/07/on-being-singleand-trying-to-be-content.html

I honestly love my life! I am at the point in my life when I, for the most part, am feeling content. However there are times that I really struggle with where I am as well. I hate to be such a whiner but it is something that I pray for every day. I am so ready to settle down, have a family, etc. I know that it will happen in God's timing and not mine but that is so much easier said than done. Just a few weeks ago, I was gathered with many of my high school classmates...many of whom I haven't seen in 16 years. Many of them are married and have children. Some of them are engaged. And then there is me. 

(5) Guilty as Charged
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/08/guilty-as-charged.html

Miley Cyrus.....at the VMAs. I didn't see it but I've heard enough about it. I've heard about it on late night tv. I heard about it at Zumba at Curves tonight. She was practically unclothed; twerking with a gentleman unstage.

(4) Sunday Blessings: Lucky 13 Edition
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/10/sunday-blessings-lucky-13th-edition.html

I know I haven't posted a Sunday Blessings in awhile but thought I would bring if back this week! What are your blessings this week? (1) An unexpected phone call from a colleague (2) Two beautiful handmade pictures from two of my church kiddos 

(3) For My Dear Friend Who Is Getting Married
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/06/for-my-dear-friend-who-is-getting.html

To my dear friend who is getting married tomorrow, I so wanted to be with you and celebrate your day with you tomorrow yet life got in the way. I'm sorry I won't be there with you as you say I Do to your best friend. I won't be there to see you all glitzed and glammed up. I know there will be many celebrating with you tomorrow

(2) Another Friday Five
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/09/another-friday-five.html

1. How are you? What’s up with you? I am good. I had my wisdom teeth pulled on Monday so I didn't go into work until Wed. I am thankful that my experience was a good one and that I wasn't in much pain. I am excited to start our 3 year old Prayer and 3rd Grade Bible milestones this week. I am looking forward to our rostered leaders retreat Sun-Tuesday of this next week. 

(1) That They All May Be One
http://prayingontheprairie.blogspot.com/2013/05/that-they-all-may-be-one.html

Anytime I drive from Moorhead into Fargo or go home to Ashley for a holiday or vacation, I see a "Welcome to MN" sign as I take the first exit into Moorhead and to my apartment. For the most part, it is something that I know is there but don't really pay that close of attention to it. However it was different this afternoon. Right as I was leaving work to go to Zumba, I saw that Minnesota passed the Freedom to Marry bill.(I'll be honest I was ecstatic. I know not everyone feels that way but that was how I was feeling.) On my way home from Zumba, I came to my exit and saw that sign again. Yet today it was different. Today my heart was happy. Today I knew that those words were true.....more true than they had been an hour ago or even 24 hours or 6 years ago. 

Thank you for reading my blog my faithful readers and friends! I look forward to gathering with you here again in 2014! Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ode to Cancer

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it."

Oh how many times I've heard or read that passage. Yet there are times when it feels almost
downright impossible to believe in or trust in. Tonight my friends is one of those nights.

The ugly "c" word has reared its head once again. A friend and classmate went in for more scans today. She is (and has been) battling cancer. I found myself thinking of her and praying for her on and off all day. Then tonight I was eager to read her post and when I got to her post, I was heartbroken. It was not the news her and her family were hoping for. The tumors have grown. She will begin chemo once again. This was not the news any of us was hoping for.

But not only am I sad for her, I am sad for her daughters. This isn't fair...not for her, not for her daughters and not for anyone. She has already lost her husband and the girls their father to this awful c word. I want to scream at the top of my lungs; Screw You Cancer!!
(I am not a swearing lady but I truly would like to use stronger language than this!)

And their story isn't the only one. There are so many I know who are currently battling cancer. Why them? Why does cancer have to once again rear her ugly head?
It simply isn't fair!!

I pray and cling to hope but that sometimes is so much easier said than done. It often is hard to see the light when this darkness seems to be looming all around us.

Yet I know that there is this one; the Messiah our Lord who IS the light in the midst of the darkness;
who always triumphs even when it seems all hope is lost! I believe that this Messiah often comes in the form of caretakers and doctors; in the form of family and friends who love the patient in the midst of their struggles; and in their mat carriers who hold the mat for them and lift them through the roof to Jesus!

In all actuality, I wish cancer wasn't around. I wish that people didn't have to struggle with it. I wish for so much. Yet I know that it still is a reality so we must choose hope. We must cling to the one who is the light in the midst of darkness especially when our lives; our world seem so dark.

Because in the end, I believe light will always emerge from the darkness and that there will always be hope! I also believe and trust that Christ WILL have the final word!!

(But on days like today when someone I love; a sister in Christ is sick and hurting, it is so much harder to find the light and hope!)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Blessings #15

It's so good for me to reflect back on the week and to take inventory on the many blessings of the week. I haven't posted a Sunday blessings for a while and in light of sad events in the world, it seems like a good week to post these blessings.

(1) A nice supper with new friends and running into an old acquaintance.

(2) All the wonderful Christmas cards that are coming in the mail. I love seeing pics of your families and hearing what you are up too! Miss many of you so much. You in yourselves are blessings in my life!

(3) A wonderfully blessed installation service and reception at church

(4) Talking on the phone with my best friend. It's been awhile since we last chatted.

(5) Finally finding the Curves and now ready to get back into a wonderful routine again.

(6) Spending a day with a new friend; coffee, shopping, baking cookies! It was such a good day!!

(7) Supper with a new colleague and her husband at a local Thai restaurant

(8) Stopping at a members house and visiting with her and her daughter.

(9) Time with my sister last weekend.

(10) A Good Samaritan helping us out with a flat tire on my car

(11) A garage to keep my car warm

(12) Nice compliments from some new parishioners telling me that I speak up so clearly and they can hear me so well. I'm truly blessed to serve these people.

(13) Family Sunday School Christmas service and meal

(14) Spending time remembering what this season is truly about.

(15) Having a camp friend and a couple of her friends visit us at First. It was such a surprise to see her when I was greeting. So much fun!!

I am sure I can think of more but I'll leave it at 15 for this week.

What are your blessings this week my friends?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

It was a great day today. I started the morning with a friend. We had some great coffee, then we went and did some shopping in these cute little shops downtown. And then we went to her house, had lunch, and made some Christmas cookies. We tried a new recipe and the cookies were awesome. She dropped me off and I signed onto my computer to check FB and do some other things. My homepage opened to MSN where I saw the news headlines that there was another school shooting today. It took my breathe away. This on the eve of the anniversary of the school shooting at Sandy Hook. And all of a sudden my great day didn't seem so important.

My heart is so sad! I want our world to be a better place. Once I find my Mr. Right and I have a family, I don't want to have to worry about sending my children to school. I want more hope and not fear. I want there to be more love and not so much hate. A friend of mine posted several questions on her FB feed today after the shooting and I cannot shake them. Her questions are in no way rhetorical. They need to be answered. And I find myself clinging to those questions tonight. She writes, "We have too many hurting youth, too many kids who don't have hope, too many kids who don't feel loved. What are we going to do about this as the people of God? How are we going to speak light into this darkness and hope into despair? How will we show love to all people today?"

Yes, my dear readers and friends, how are we going to show light in the midst of this darkness and hope in the midst of this despair? How are we going to show love to God's people today? In the midst of the darkness, I cling to this precious one who was born in a manger in Bethlehem; the one who comes as the light in the midst of darkness, the hope in the midst of despair, and so much more. How do we help show that kind of love to those who are hurting, to those who don't know love?

I am reminded of my dear mother who has lived most of my life with a mental illness, yet she is one of the most faith-filled women I know. I swear she would give the shirt off her back. She simply loves unconditionally. She has been an amazing model of God's love for me and I am so grateful and thankful for that. But I find myself wondering where are those examples for those youth who are hurting and don't feel loved? How do we show them that they are loved? How do we show them that there is hope in the world? I don't know the answers, yet I want the answers! And I want those answers sooner rather than later. I want the answer not to be violence. I want the answer to be kindness and love and grace. I want.....

Tonight I am praying for this one who thought their only answer was violence. Tonight I am praying for Eric and Dylan who walked into Columbine. Tonight I am praying for all those who lost a child a year ago at Sandy Hook. Tonight I am praying for Adam who felt his only answer was to walk into that school a year ago. Tonight I am praying for all those youth who don't feel loved and who are hurting. Tonight I am praying that we will be able to answer these questions that my friend posted. Tonight my prayer is simply...come, Holy Spirit, come...help us to show them light and love and hope!

Advent Friday Five

1. How are you? How can we pray for you? I am doing great! I am always asking for prayers for God to bring my Mr. Right into my life and to start a family etc. I am so ready but know that it will happen in God's timing and not mine.

2. On another level, I am sure that many of you have treasured Christmas ornaments. Tell us about one of your more treasured, and why it is special. I have an ornament on my tree that is 5 moose sitting in a canoe. I had it engraved when I took some ladies from my last call to a town where they have this great Christmas event. A lot of us got that ornament and had it engraved. As I just began a new call, it reminded me of those sweet ladies. I also have a homemade snowball ornament that was given to me as a going away gift from a sweet lady. There are so many great ornaments on my tree and they all have such wonderful stories.

3. Since I have started in a new call in a new city, I have a new guilty pleasure called Shubies which is a store of wine, cheese, craft beer, gourmet foods, fun kitchen gadgets and more, besides a bakery/lunch counter. I am currently enjoying an (overpriced) kale-avocado-goat cheese pressed sandwich on cranberry sunflower seed wheat bread. O.M.GOODNESS. What is one of your current guilty pleasures? At this time of the year, it is anything cinnamom...Cinnamon candy canes. I also love to indulge in a little Eggnog at this time of the year as well.

4. I picked up a beautiful hank of handspun wool in heather grays and purples in October that I am sending my sister for her birthday this month. I have been looking forward to giving it to her. What is something (tangible or less tangible) you are looking forward to give in the next few weeks? I am excited to give my mom her gift. Since she is in a nursing home, my sister and I always really think out what we get here...little activity books, etc. This year I am excited to give her a portrait of me that I had done when the church did a photo directory. I bought a beautiful frame to go with so I am excited to give her that this year.

5. We must have random words for a random sentence or story, right? So, here are your words (or forms of) to use in a sentence or two: earth, cranberry, codfish, kettle corn, pitcher, love, joy, hope, peace, Santa, artist. The artist Santa ate codfish and cranberry kettle corn with the pitcher; a sign of love, joy, peace, and hope on Earth.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Prayerful Friday Five

Anne at RevGalBlogPals writes, "I am always grateful for the prayers of others, but I am especially touched when someone asks, “How may I pray for you? During this season of fullness, how may we pray for each other?"

So how may we:
  • Pray for you: It seems that the one thing I am always praying for is for God to bring Mr. Right into my life so that I can get married and start a family; two things that I yearn so deeply for. I wonder if and/or if it will ever happen to me. I know that it will happen in God's timing and not my own but that is so often so hard to trust in. Prayers for me as I begin a new call are much appreciated too.
  • Pray for someone you carry on your heart: There are many who I carry on my heart. There are my friends who are battling cancer. There are my friends and family who daily struggle with mental illness. There are my many friends whose relationships are struggling. I truly could keep typing..for there are so many that I carry on my heart. Today and lately my heart has been carrying my dear friend Mike who has been going through a divorce and living away from his daughter. He is such a blessing in my life. I pray for peace and so much more for him.
  • Offer thanksgiving with you: My family finally being able to get their harvesting in. New life. New relationships. New jobs and so much more.
  • Ask God’s blessing in your life, or
  • Lift up anything else in your heart? There is so much I could lift up in the world. It seems the world is always so full of so much hatred, evil etc. I pray for God to show us his light especially in this season of Advent. I pray for peace, hope, love and so much more!
  • And how can I pray for you?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

You are Loved!

Tonight I was roaming around on FB when I came across a conversation that really got me thinking especially a question that this person put before us. This individual was sharing how they often feel like they try so hard to reach the desired outcome and when it doesn't happen, they wonder in bewilderment at how anyone would ever love them. I don't think this individual's thoughts are uncommon. I think there are times when we all question our worthiness.

I think we all try so hard and yet when things don't work out or happen the way we would like them too we start to question ourselves. Many of you, my readers, know that there are certain things that I have prayed for and still yearn for in my life yet they haven't happened for me. And yes, there are times when I wonder WHY it hasn't happened for me. What is it about me; about my imperfections, that these things haven't happened for me yet? There are times that I truly feel like I am pleading with God! And I don't think I am alone here...I think many of us at times have found ourselves pleading with God. (I don't know about you but sometimes it feels like being picked last for the team during PE in school. And that is not a feeling I like!)

Yet the thing is that God's grace is sufficient for us all. I also know that as a good Lutheran, I am simultaneously both "saint and sinner." In other words, I am not perfect...none of us are perfect. And I also believe that we often grow from our own life circumstances. My mom has taught me so much about faith and life! She is one of the most faithfilled women that I know and yet she has lived most of my life battling a mental illness. Through her example, God has shown me God's grace and God's love. I swear she would probably give the shirt off of her back if asked!

I may not be perfect, but God has shown me that despite my imperfections that I am lovable. God has shown us all that we are lovable...even when that is not so easy for us to see ourselves. But God places people in our lives so we will be "blessed to be a blessing." I am reminded of a conversation I had today with a member from the congregation I just left. She was calling to get my new address and something she said caught me. She said, "Make sure they love you as much as we did/we do!"  I also have noticed that as I have been welcomed at this new call and as I said goodbye to the last call. All I can say is Wow...humbling...a reminder that no matter what...I am loved! And you too my friends, you are LOVED too...even when it doesn't feel like you are lovable! That is the beauty of God's grace...you do nothing to earn it. It is just freely given to you.

I'll be honest I think it is so easy for us to be hard on ourselves. But the truth is people see things in us that we don't always see in ourselves. Another sign of the beauty of God's grace. So my friends when you are having a hard day and feeling unlovable, please know and remember that YOU ARE LOVED!

Goodnight my friends!