Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hope Worth Waiting For

We wait all the time, don't we? We go to the post office to mail a package and we wait. We go to the grocery store to buy groceries and we end up waiting at the check out counter. We wait for the anticipation of the next big day or the next big event. But what I have come to realize is that we are not very good at waiting AT ALL. And I am just as guilty as the next person. On my way to workout and I get stopped because a train needs to cross the tracks. I find myself tapping my fingers on my wheel because this is holding me up and I need to get to my destination NOW! It seems that in this high tech world, we have so much accessible to us that we have forgotten how to be patient.

Advent is the perfect time to truly wait and be patient. Now I realize in a house full of kiddos, that can be extremely difficult but I think it also is important for us to remind children the true reason for the season and the importance of being patient. This season is all about the waiting and the preparing and the arrival of this precious holy child; the one who brings light in the midst of the darkness, hope in the midst of despair, and joy in the midst of sorrow. This holy child is the one who can bring about peace, justice, and mercy.

As you prepare your hearts, minds, and homes this Advent season, may you take the time to be patient, to wait for this precious child born in the unlikeliest of places. This precious child who is the Prince of Peace, who is Emmanuel, who is the Savior of the world, who is Messiah. This holy infant born in a manger in Bethlehem is the embodiment of hope in the world.

" 'Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.' Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.' "--Luke 2: 11-14

Jesus was sent into the world by God to remind us that there is always hope especially when we trust in this holy child. This holy child who later sits with tax collectors and sinners. This holy child who will be crucified for our sins and then will be raised from the dead. Jesus is the hope that we all must cling to; a hope that only God can give, a hope that is born that holy night in a manger in Bethlehem; A hope in an injust world that will bring about justice; A hope in a broken world, that will bring about healing and wholeness; A hope in a violent world that brings about healing, reconcilation and peace.

"Hope is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen."

And this, my friends, is a hope worth waiting for!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

On My Nativities, Advent and Waiting on this Precious Holy Child

I'll admit that I love this time of year. There is something just so incredibly holy about waiting and preparing for this King to be born. And to be born in a manger of all places; the unlikeliest of places for baby Jesus to be born but that is exactly where he comes into the world.

When Mom and Dad were still together, they did everything to make sure my sister and I had a great holiday season. I only remember some of the gifts we received but I do remember who we were with. It was more important to spend time with family then the gifts we received. They taught us the true meaning of celebrating this season. I remember when I was in 5th grade and my sister was in 2nd grade when they bought both of us our very first Bibles. Andrea and I were so excited for those Bibles that one day when Mom and Dad went out, we took a peak at what was in those beloved Christmas packages. I'm almost ashamed to admit it now, but we opened up those gifts, took a peak and rewrapped them!

I do enjoy giving gifts but this season is about the waiting, longing and preparing for this King who comes into the world. When I was in college, I bought my very first Nativity scene; a nativity scene of my very own. It is a simple piece; only five pieces and all glass. But that simple Nativity caught my eye in the christian bookstore and I had to have it. I bought it and took it back to my dorm room where I immediately set it up. That nativity started my nativity collection and each of these nativities are reminders to me of why we celebrate Emmanuel "God with Us!"
My Very First Nativity
Yes, you read that right. I collect Nativities. The collection is a wonderful reminder to me of why we celebrate. In fact, if you ever been to my house, you would know that I keep one up all year round. Some friends and I visited another friend and noticed that she had a nativity up in her office. My friend asked why and she asked, "Should we just celebrate Jesus one day a year." When I heard her answer, I knew that from then on I would keep one up to remind me to celebrate Jesus all year through. I have nativities from different parts of the world. I have Nativities given to me from so many different people. Each one has it's own unique story.
A handpainted Spanish Nativity that my friend J
bought while she was living in Guatemela!
Today as I put them out, I was once again reminded of where each one came from and the person who gave it to him. I found myself stopping, holding the nativity in my hand, feeling it's texture and taking in it's beauty just like I believe Mary took in every scent of her new son, took in each of his features and realized whose mother she was to be!
The special Angel Nativity Scene
given to me by my Aunt C.
God sent God's son into the world as this beautiful gift who wasn't afraid to turn the world upside down. My aunt C gave me a nativity that she bought for my Grandma while Grandma was living in the nursing home. My Aunt didn't realize I collected Nativities but one day I must have mentioned it in one of our conversations. Not long after, the nativity arrived at my front door with a note about how this gift was always meant for me.

Every time I look at this gift I am reminded of the angel's words to Mary. "Do not be afraid." God sent God's son as a promise of peace and hope in the world especially in a world that is broken. And trusting in Emmanuel "God with Us", this Advent season, may we take the time to take in the beauty of this season and remember the true reason for the season.
Only a fraction of my Nativity collection

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Gift Giving and Receiving (Five Minute Friday)

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Give." Write for five minutes; unedited.

I am one of those people who loves giving gifts. There is something so joyful about finding that perfect gift for a family member or friend. This past year I have been blessed by amazing friends that have been brought into my life. My friend CT and I both have birthdays in September. After our birthdays, we were going to a meeting of youthworkers and got their early. CT, myself, and another friend were looking in one of our fave little stores. I thought to myself I need to find CT's birthday gift. I sneakily looked around the store and found a gift for her. I snuck up to the counter and paid for her gift. I then stuck it in my purse. When we got to the restaurant, I pulled out the gift and gave it to her. She was like, "You little stinker. I was going to buy your birthday gift too. But I couldnt figure out how I was going to do it with you in the store."

After we finished eating, CT told me that I had to stay in the car while CT and our other friend went back to the store to pick up my gift. I patiently waited for them. CT picked out my gift and gave it to me when they got back to the car. It was an insulated drinking glass and straw with the words "Life's too short to be anything but happy." CT told me that it was indeed the gift she had spotted early and that it reminded her of me. It was so fun to give each other our gifts and every time I drink out of that glass I think of my friend and the gift she is in my life.

Gift giving is such a blessing, yet as I look at the world around me, there is so much more I wish to give the world and my "hopefully someday children." I want to give them safety. I want them to feel safe at their schools and not fear that a gunman is going to come into their classroom. I want to give them a world that is full of God's justice and God's peace; a world where there is not violence, racism, etc. I want to give the world peace, love, and hope. And as I wish for a world filled with these things, I know these are things that only God can give us. God gives us love, hope, forgiveness and is the one who can ultimately grant and give peace.

A Thanksgiving Greeting

"To be grateful for the good things in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for the good as well as the bad, that requires good spiritual work."--Henri Nouwen

"In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich."--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am so incredibly grateful and thankful for so much. But I also know there are many hurting today as well. If you could please say a prayer for a friend and his family today, I would greatly appreciate it. His mom passed away last night.

In the midst of life's joys and sorrows, God reminds us "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning."

May your hearts be filled with love especially Gods love today.

Happy Thanksgiving friends and family! I am so very thankful for each and everyone of you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My A-Zs of Thanksgiving (Part Two: N-Z)

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."--1 Thessalonians 5:18

(N) North Dakota. I love my beloved prairies of North Dakota. This place will always hold a special place in my heart.

(O) Office (My office) I am so thankful for my job and my own space.

(P) Praying on the blog; a place for me to pour out my heart and soul. Thankful to all of you who read my posts and comment on them.

(Q) Quarters. I am still so very thankful that I don't have to look for quarters every time I want to do laundry.

(R) ROOK; the card game my family and I play at all of our family gatherings.

(S) Stocking caps to keep my head warm on cold days. It is snowing rather heavily at the moment and I am so happy that my friend Sarah made me a cap to keep my head warm on days like today.

(T) Tires. I have a flat tire on my car and am pretty sure it has a slow leak SO today especially I am thankful for tires especially new tires.

(U) University of Mary where I got my college degree and made awesome friends through Campus Ministry, the Communications program, through the Drama department and so much more.

(V) Voxer. I haven't really thought of my self as an overly techy person but I do enjoy technological. Voxer has become one of my new favorite apps since it allows me to talk to new friends; near and far. So cool!!!

(W) Wartburg Theological Seminary. So thankful for that place and all the people there.

(X) Xtremely awesome friends and family!

(Y) YOU!!! (Yep you reading this. I am thankful for YOU!) :)

(Z) Zumba. I am sad that my Curves is no longer offering Zumba. I am on the master search for a video of Zumba instruction. It is something different and really makes my work outs very effective.

"I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."--Ephesians 1:16

Monday, November 24, 2014

For Ferguson

"Lord have mercy"
"Christ have mercy"

"God's peace to us we pray"

"But what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God."--Micah 6:8

"But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream."--Amos 5:24

"I've placed my Spirit upon him; he'll decree justice to the nations."--Matthew 12:28

I am praying for so many tonight; those who are called to serve and protect; those who don't feel safe because they look different; and for all your children.

May God's peace and justice ultimately reign!!

My A-Zs of Thanksgiving (Part One: A-M)

Hi Friends! I don't know about you but it is so crazy to think it is already that time of the year: Thanksgiving and then Advent and Christmas. A couple of years ago I did this A-Z list of Thanksgiving and it got rather long. Today I saw a friend was splitting hers up into two posts and I thought what a great idea. I know we are all busy this week so thought I would keep it simple and do something a little fun. Enjoy my friends!

(A) My younger sister whose name starts with the letter A. She is one of my best friends in the world. Love her to pieces.

(B) BLC--The place where my momma lives. They truly take wonderful care of her.

(C) Camp of the Cross (or as it is sometimes affectionately called on this blog SuperAwesomeBibleCamp). It is the Bible camp that I worked at for several summers and is also the place where I heard God calling me into ministry.

(D) Dilworth Lutheran Church. It is the place that made me into the woman leader that I am today. So thankful for that place and the dear people there.

(E) Every Day Holy which is my friend Sarah's blog and other awesome blogs that I get to read each and every day.

(F) First Lutheran Church. This place is indeed blessing my life. Thankful and blessed to serve here. Also Friends. I have been incredibly blessed with the most awesome amazing friendships. So thankful and blessed to have each and every one of them in my life.

(G) Grandparents. I love them so much and miss Gma and Gpa H as they are both in heaven. Looking forward to spending time with Gma and Gpa U this week. They all have taught me so much.

(H) HUSKERS! Yep I am a huge BIG RED fan! And of course I am thankful for my very cute little house.

(I) InCourage. I am so thankful my friend Sarah introduced me to this website and its groups etc. Part of my morning routine is to read the InCourage blogs. So many times their words touch my heart!

(J) Japanese Treats and Japan. Where my friend Heather and her hubby currently are living. I love when she sends me treats from Japan. And I love reading about their adventures there!

(K) A sweet little girl at church whose name starts with the letter K. She runs down the aisle every Sunday during the Meet and Greet time to give me a hug. I am thankful for her and all the kids I get to work with at church. I also love spending time with my friend CT's girls. So blessed to have them all in my life.

(L) Link-Ups. I didn't realize there were so many awesome link-ups out there until I participated in the write31days challenge.

(M) My Momma. And my friend MW.

So that's my A-M list. Be back tomorrow with my N-Z list!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Blessings 57

Another week of blessings

(1) Chatting online with one of my write31 days friends. Love you TM!

(2) Getting a vox from my write31 days friend DB.

(3) Old episodes of Boy Meets World.

(4) Texting with my friend MW.

(5) Thanksgiving Dinner with an organization that works with mentally, physically, etc handicapped individuals. It was so yummy!

(6) Butter braids being delivered and all of the youth picking up their Butter Braids by the end of the day.

(7) One of the individuals from the above group telling me he likes me.

(8) Another one showing me his very cool dyed hair (my fave color) and having a conversation with me.

(9) Another one shaking my hand and asking me about my job. Later he told me to have a great day.

(10) Awesome Faith conversation at FLY (First Lutheran Youth) tonight.

(11) Apple cake with awesome caramel frosting at the WELCA meeting this afternoon.

(12) My friend SM texting me to let me know she was at a meeting with my other friend KW. I miss KW so much.

(13) Chatting with my new write 31 days friend TM.

(14) Texting with my friend MW who I miss lots.

(15) Three of my fave little girls running up the aisle to give me a hug during the greeting time.

(16) Getting a hug from a lady at church because I sent her a thank you card for the tree skirt she have me.

(17) Holding a sweet 9 week old baby girl. So sweet!!!

(18) Talking to my momma on the phone

(19) A nice PLN (Post-Liturgical nap)

(20) Two colleagues giving me rides to their church and back home tonight so I could hear one of my previous Confirmation students speak about her Young Adults in Global Mission Experience.

(21) Getting to hug this wonderful young adult. Proud of who she is!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Season of Singleness

This is not at all how I imagined my life!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be a mom. My sister and I would play with our Cabbage Patch dolls. We would spend hours playing with our dolls and caring for them like a mother cares for her child/children. Mom even saved all of our baby clothes for the day when we would have our own children. Those clothes are STILL carefully packed away until that day.

I remember clothing my blonde haired Cabbage Patch doll in the very first dress my daddy ever bought me; a yellow dress with a puppy on it with the words, if I am remembering correctly, "Daddy's little girl." My dad was so proud of buying that dress for his first born. And after playing with our dolls, my sister and I would watch fairytales for hours watching as the Princess found her Prince Charming and got her "happily ever after." THAT is what I imagined for my life...finding my Prince Charming and getting my "happily ever after."

But that is not what my life is. I am a thirty-six year old single woman who is very weary...weary of this season in her life, weary of having a life that I didn't imagine, weary of not finding my Prince Charming and getting my "happily ever after." I know that I need to give it to God and trust in God's timing not my own. Yet, my friends, I am still weary; very weary!

I watch as dear friends find their Prince Charmings and two lives become one. I watch as many friends around me hold their beautiful children after they take their first breath. I even walk through the department stores picking out cute outfits for these little ones and then buying those clothes. I take them home, wrap them beautifully, pack them carefully into a box and then send them off to my friends knowing how much this little gesture means to them. I'll be honest...I love shopping for baby gifts but there is also a part of me that feels broken as I am shopping for them and not for my own children. Truthfully, I am so very happy for them yet I am still weary; weary of this season of singleness in my life.

I got to hold a three week old baby at church last week and I was so happy. I held that sweet soul against my chest and breathed in her beautiful scent. I was delighted that her Mom let me hold her and spend time with her in my arms. Together that little girl and I walked up and down that room; chittering and chattering. I was in my own little world. Holding new life brings me such joy...and even hope. Yet I am still weary...still deeply weary of this season of singleness in my life.

I wonder when this season will end or if it will last forever. And my heart has a hard time accepting the fact that this season of singleness will last my entire life....because I still so deeply yearn to be a mother, to find my Prince Charming and to have my "happily ever after." Why would God put this desire on my heart if it wasn't part of my story and this season was going to last forever?

I have spent my thirty six years on this Earth serving God in the best ways I know how. Yet this season doesn't seem to be anywhere near the end. I know that perhaps God might be calling me to a new plan; a different plan. Perhaps God is calling me to do foster care. Or maybe God is calling me to be a mom through adoption. (Two things that have found a way into my prayers and my heart as I discern where God is leading me) I am not sure when this season of singleness will end...but what I do know is that there are others of you out there who understand where I am coming from. You too are tired of being alone. You too are ready to find your Prince Charming and have your "happily ever after." You too very strongly dislike being the fifth wheel.  You too dream of the day when you get to try on wedding gowns and experience the "This is the ONE" feeling as you put it on. Then you too also picture yourself walking down the aisle to your Prince Charming. You too wonder when this season will come to an end.

And, my single friends, I am with you every step of the way. I am sooo exhausted; so tired of explaining why I am still single. I am so tired of waiting for my dream to come true. But what I do know is that my worth is not determined by whether or not I am a mom; or whether or not I am a wife; or whether or not I have a ring upon my finger. My worth, our worth is determined by the one who fashioned us, formed us and knows every hair upon our heads. This One who knows if, when, and how this season of singleness will end.

Some days I still have an extremely difficult time trusting in this One....yet I know that this One has the ultimate answer and knows every desire of my heart; every desire of your heart. I pray that together, as we are so very weary of this season of singleness, we can find a way to see each other through this time.

But, my friends, even as I pour my heart and soul into this space, I want you to know even though I am trusting in my Lord's timing and not my own.....

I am still weary; weary of this season of singleness.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Noticed by God (Five Minute Friday)

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. (It's Thursday and I just attended my first FMF Twitter Party where the prompt was released. So much fun! Already looking forward to next week's party) The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Notice." Write for five minutes; unedited.

I pour my heart and soul out onto the page. But does anyone notice?

You pour your heart and soul out onto the page too. But does anyone notice you too?

So often we get get caught up in the statistics. Is anyone reading my heart and soul? Is it even worth it for me to pour my heart onto the page? Yet that isn't at all what God wants us to notice.

God wants us to notice each other; to notice each other being brave. God wants us to see each others hearts, words, and even tears poured out for each other to notice. God wants us to notice each other as God notices us.

God looks down and wants us to hear him saying, "Child, I notice you. I hear your every prayer. I see every tear that falls from your eyes. I see and hear every word that pours out of your soul. I notice you because you are my children; "Fearfully and wonderfully made."

God says...I indeed notice you...and I want you to notice each other.
I want you to notice the man standing on the street corner asking for help.
I want you to notice the single mother struggling to care for herself and her children.
I want you to notice all of my broken children...because I notice you all.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Forgive Us Our Sins As We Forgive Those...

I am participating in this month's synchroblog (a blog where numerous bloggers blog on the same topic) which can be found at This month's synchroblog topic is posing this question: "What would it look like for the Church as a whole when abusive leaders are held accountable and then are reconciled? How do we do that in such a way as to let victims be heard and redemption be the end goal. What does redemption and/or reconciliation look like in real life? What does grace look like in these situations?"

"Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial but rescue us from the evil one. If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."--Matthew 6:9-15

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Or in another version, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us." How often do we go through the motions of reciting these words from the Lord's Prayer without truly thinking about what they mean? How can we forgive those who have hurt us...especially if those we need to forgive are those who are leaders in our lives and who we have trusted?

I have been extremely lucky in my life to have leaders who have been wonderful leaders. Yet that is not always the case. In fact, several years ago, the synod I was serving in had an unfortunate situation happen. A member of the synod staff had been embezzling money from the organization. I'll admit that many of us were hurt and had (still have) a hard time forgiving this man. However I am reminded of a story where neighbors of this man and his wife invited them over for supper. What a powerful witness of forgiveness and grace! The neighbors wanted him and his wife to know that it was about the act and not them as human beings.

The truth is that we are all created as saints and sinners. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Yet God promises that God will forgive us of our sins if we confess our sins. I am reminded of these words from 1 John 1:9-10; "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us."

As I think about all who have been hurt and experienced brokenness by a leader in the church, I find them (actually all of us;sinners)being convicted in the words we hear in verse ten. The Message translation captures 1 John 1:9-10 so well. "If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins--make a clean breast of them--he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God---make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God."

The reality is that all of us including leaders in the church are sinful beings. We all make mistakes. Forgiveness and grace are marvelous gifts, yet I don't believe God is telling us to forget the sin. In fact, I think God calls all of us to seek the help, counsel and forgiveness that we need. This is shown to us through this wonderful humble servant leader God's son Jesus Christ. Jesus was not afraid to sit with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus wasn't afraid to pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of all God's people even those who would later deny him and betray him. Jesus' example of humble servanthood is the ultimate example of God's grace. And by the humble example of Jesus, we all especially leaders in the church are called to embody a life of humble servanthood too.
"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"--2 Corinthians 5:17 (NRSV)
 "Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people--free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!!"--Ephesians 1:7 (The Message)
**Please note these are my own views and are not necessarily the views of my church.

Read other SynchoBlog posts here:
  • Justin Steckbauer – The Servant Leader: A Radical Concept
  • Mary – Can I Get A Doctor?
  • Glenn Hager – The Man Of God Myth
  • Lisa – Forgive
  • Jeremy Myers – Reconciling Mark Driscoll
  • Peggy Brown – Abi and November’s Synchroblog: Spiritual Abuse and Redemption
  • Edwin Pastor FedEx Aldrich – Shooting Stars: Of Scandal, Abuse, Restoration, and Systematic Failures
  • Liz Dyer – Sorry

    Sunday, November 16, 2014

    Sunday Blessings 56

    (1) Our YouthWorkers gathering

    (2) Surprising Mom for a few minutes since we were so early to YouthWorkers.

    (3) Getting a card from my mom with some Halloween pictures of her

    (4) My Confirmation class as well as Wed worship making Get Well cards for a young man.

    (5) Voxing with one of my new #write31 days friends. So cool!!

    (6) Getting a text from my previous colleague

    (7) Reconnecting with and Voxing with a dear college friend AH!

    (8) Receiving a one lovely blog award. So humbled and amazed! Thanks Barbara!!

    (9) Competing with my friends on FitBit. I'm losing badly but I'm determined to redeem myself next week!!

    (10) Getting quite a bit of Christmas shopping done at the Pride of Dakota show with my sister.

    (11) EG stopping to pick up the cards we made for her parishioner.

    (12) Getting to snuggle with a one month old baby girl at Family SS

    (13) Making a thankful tree at Family Sunday School

    (14) Getting my usual Sunday call from my momma

    (15) My sister getting home safely

    (16) Tying for first place at the Lutheran campus ministry chili feed

    (17) And each of YOU!!!!

    Friday, November 14, 2014

    One Lovely Blog Award

    I really am not that lucky of a person. I have put my name in many times, but have never really had my name drawn except this one time. My friend SKDO and I were at Hobby Lobby for a scrapbooking event. We both registered our names. We were walking through the store when SKDO looked at me and said, "I think they just said your name over the intercom." We went back to the area and sure enough they had drawn my name. I won a scrapbooking basket that had approximately $50 worth of scrapbooking supplies. I told SKDO that she must be my lucky charm! :) Being that I am not that lucky of a person, when I get accolades from someone it truly makes me feel really good.
    I am honored that my new #write31 days friend Barbara who blogs at Barbara's Blog nominated me for a very special award; the One Lovely Blog Award. She wrote this about me, "Theresa and Tara have followed my blog since the beginning of the write 31 challenge. I have been encouraged to continue writing during the whole 31 days because of their uplifting and supportive comments." I am so glad that she has felt encouraged from my comments. I also (as a fairly new blogger) am humbled that Barbara nominated me for this award.

    As part of the award, I am to post seven facts about myself so you can get to know me a little better. So here goes nothing....

    (1) I am a published poet. I have had several poems published in my seminary's publication. I also have had a poem published in the poetry anthology.

    (2) I only have two first cousins and we are all girls born on the third of a month; June, January and September 3rd. My sister came along and broke the trend. We have decided she wanted to start a new trend though; both her and our dad were born on the 26th of a month; August and September.

    (3) My absolute favorite color is GREEN! When my friends and I go shopping, they always spot green clothing items and will wait to see how long it takes for me to find it.

    (4) I LOVE cinnamon gummy bears!

    (5) I am a HUGE Nebraska Cornhuskers fan! My mom's family is from Nebraska and my sister and I were both born in Nebraska. The day my Mom was in labor with me, my dad, the doctor (a dear family friend) and my Grandpa were talking about the big game they had played that day. I always joke that I was destined to be a Huskers fan since it was the first thing I heard when I came out! My best friend gave me a stuffed Herbie the Husker (which is special to me since Mandy passed away several years ago) and my mom had a homemade Husker quilt made for me.

    (6) I worked at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp for approximately 7 summers. It is one of my favorite places in the world. It is located on the shores of Lake Sakakawea!

    (7) I love babies!!! I could sit and cuddle with them all day long! I cannot wait to be a momma someday myself.

    And now it is my turn to nominate some lovely blogs. This is so hard since I have gotten to meet so many wonderful people during the #write31days challenge. I am sorry if you get nominated twice my friends. Just know I don't expect you to post twice! :)

    Ingrid is one of the first people I met through her blog during the write31days. I have always felt so welcomed at Ingrid's place. And I have loved every bit of her words!

    Kirsten always posts blog posts that make me think. I honestly cannot get enough of her words either!

    Therese was also nominated by Barbara but I had to give her a shout-out. I feel like I have known Therese for a lot longer than I have known her. Her #write31 days was all about her journey with depression. I am thankful for her bravery in sharing her story.

    Anna is one of the sweetest women that I know. She isn't afraid to share her heart. I met Anna when her and her husband were working at one of my fave places in the world. Even though the  miles seperate us, I am so very thankful for Anna's heart and her words. Love you dear sister in Christ!

    Erin is a young lady I am glad to have met through the write31 days challenge. She is a beautiful soul and I love her words!

    Stephanie and Jermaine (husband and wife) also participated in the #write31 days. As a poet, it was so fun to find their blog. I cannot wait to see what their next project is. I am thankful to be on this journey with these two beautiful souls.

    Dana is this amazing woman of Christ. I feel like I have known her a lot longer than these 31 days as well. I love Dana's heart. I first met Dana through one of her Sunday posts where she shared her heart through her music. It was so beautiful! I love that Dana is always willing to encourage me. I love that we have been getting to know each other better by voxing with one another. God brings people into our lives at the right times and at the right places. I feel that way about our friendship. Dana understands my heart and is, in so many ways, my dear soul sister!

    Sarah is one of my dear friends. She recently returned to blogging after being away for a little while after having her first child. Sarah and I worked at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp together. Sarah is a dear friend and I am so happy to see her blogging again. Miss you friend!

    Julia is a diaconal sister who I am so blessed to have in my life. I always enjoy reading her blog.

    Well I think that will be my nominations. I seriously could nominate so many more! But I don't want this blog post to get too long. Please stop by and give these ladies some comment love!

    I am so very thankful for each and every one of them (and each of you!) I am so glad you all have allowed me to stand on your "holy ground." LOVE YOU GALS!!

    Five Minute Friday: Still

    I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday  today. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Still." Write for five minutes; unedited.

    The whirl of the Internet pulls me in so often. I find myself checking my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed, or voxing with a friend. It is so hard to find stillness in the midst of a very technology based world.

    Just the other day, teaching Confirmation, I realized how our youth are very unaccostumed to being still. They spend class being very un-still. This generation is so not used to being still. They find themselves busy all the time. I believe it is very important for us to show them that is good for us to be still. I am reminded of the words that we hear God say to us, "Be still and know that I am God."

    The thing is that God showed us what it means to be still the night Jesus was born. That still night in Bethlehem, Jesus was born reminding us of the power of God's love for us and the beauty of what it means to be still and take in God's creation. Perhaps we should take more time to be still and watch the seasons change around us. Perhaps we should take more time to just be still with our friends and family and listen to each other share our stories. Perhaps we should spend more time learning to be still.

    "Be still and know that I am God!"

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Love One Another As I Have First Loved You

    I recently became made aware of a man in Texas who is being set to be executed. I don't know a lot of the particulars of the story, but what I do know is that Mr. Panetti was diagnosed in 1978 with schizoprenia. He has lived for more than 30 years with a mental illness!

    In 2004, Mr. Panetti was set to be executed but a federal judge court stayed the execution. Later, in a follow-up trial, Mr. Panetti was allowed to represent himself. He came into the courtroom wearing a purple cowboy suit and with a cowboy Bible. He called the likes of Jesus Christ and JKF as witnesses in his trial.

    As I picture Mr. Panetti standing in that courtroom, I cannot help but realize that he is a very sick man....and needs proper medication, care, etc. I don't know what caused him to experience a psychotic break but he clearly seems to have experienced one as he murdered his in-laws. I find myself pondering the question, "How sick is he now or was he then?"

    Morally, I wonder what is the right solution to this situation. Yes, Mr. Panetti committed a crime, but does he deserve to be executed for his actions? I know not everyone will agree with me, but I don't think that execution is the best answer for Mr. Panetti. Mr. Panetti is a human being just like the rest of us. And because of his illness, he made some horrific choices. Yet does that mean he deserves to die by the hand of execution?

    I hope and pray that Mr. Panetti and all those that suffer from mental illnesses will find the proper help that they need. And that they will be shown compassion and not fear by the world around them. I think that is one of our biggest faults when it comes to caring for the mentally ill. We fear for ourselves and our families, yet showing even a little or a lot of compassion can go a very long way. God calls us to "love one another as I have first loved you."

    To read more about Scott Panetti's story, here are a few links to read
    Is Scott Panetti?
    Scott Panetti Execution
    A Schizoprenic Man

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Standing on Holy Ground

    "There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, 'Moses! Moses!' And Moses said, 'Here I am." 'Do not come any closer,' God said. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.' Then he said, 'I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God." --Exodus 3:2-6

    How often do we look for that sign of a burning bush within our own lives? I know there have been many times in my own life when I have wished that God's voice would come to me in a burning bush. But as I have looked for that burning bush, to no avail, that burning bush has been no where to be found!

    Maybe I have been looking in all the wrong places. Perhaps God is putting burning bushes in our path, just not like we would expect those burning bushes to come into our lives. The truth is, I believe, that we are experiencing our own burning bushes throughout our lives. We experience those especially when we see someones heart or someone shares their faith with us. I am reminded of a quote that I read today on a friend's FB page. The quote reads:
    "We stand before a burning bush whenever other human beings share with us something of their relationship with God or something of the moments of their hearts. In such moments may we always realize that we stand on holy ground."--Margaret Silf
    These words speak so much to me. As I have sat in my friend's house, sharing a meal with her and her daughter, I have found myself on holy ground. As I have sat in yet another friend's house and heard her heart, I have once again found myself on holy ground. As I have watched my Confirmation students create cards for someone other than themselves, I have found myself on holy ground. As I have shared in numerous families joys and sorrows, I have found myself yet again standing upon holy ground. As I have read new blogs, accepted new Facebook friend requests, and voxed with new #write31 day friends, I have realized that I am standing upon holy ground yet again. When another friend bravely shares her heart through her music, I find myself surely standing on holy ground.

    There is something incredibly holy about standing on holy ground with others who understand me and my heart. God truly wants us to share ourselves with each other. God wants us to show who God created us to be with each other. God wants us to be authentic and even gentle with ourselves. That isn't easy because God is so much gentler with us than we are with ourselves. And because of that God places incredible people into our lives so that we can stand on holy ground together.

    I am thankful for the ways that I have experienced and will continue to experience holy ground in my life. And I am thankful for all of you who have shared yourself with me and have allowed me to stand on holy ground with YOU! May we all continue to share our stories with each other and may our eyes be opened to those times of holy ground in our own lives.


    Monday, November 10, 2014

    A Cute Pair of Boots and J-Lo Jeans

    I've never been a big makeup girl. And I have never been the most popular girl either. In fact, as a child, I was picked on quite a bit. Self-esteem was always one of my weaknesses. When I moved to this new town a year ago, one of my members at church is a Mary Kaye consultant and she asked me to be one of her makeup models one night. So I went and it was so much fun. Shortly before I moved, my friend J even introduced me to Bare Minerals makeup. It was so much fun to get dolled up. Yet makeup is still not a part of my daily routine. I want my future Mr. Right to accept me for who God created me to be...without the makeup, glitz, etc.

    But lately I have been feeling something different. I woke up this morning put on a new pair of J-Lo jeans (the Jennifer Lopez brand which can be found at Kohls) and a button down shirt in my absolute favorite color; green! As I was getting ready, I thought to myself I should wear boots today. I cannot even begin to tell you the last time I wore a great pair of boots. I finished getting ready and dug in my closet until I found those boots. I put on those boots and walked out the door. I felt so good! I even found myself saying "I look cute today." I also was standing up a little taller.

    I am not sure what has changed my attitude but I like it. I know that in due time, God will bring that special person into my life. There are days that I think that all hope is lost! But the reality is that I shouldn't lose hope! God is, more than likely, looking for that special someone for me. And it will happen in God's timing not my own. But at 36 years old, that is not very easy to trust in!

    So as I wait for God to bring that special someone into my life, I will try to remember every day that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made." I will enhance my beauty in the ways that God wants me to enhance them...that they will come through in my words and my actions. And perhaps donning some makeup and a cute pair of boots somedays might help too.

    Sunday, November 09, 2014

    Sunday Blessings 55

    (1) Beer and hymns with some of my fave people.

    (2) Dinner out with those same people before Beer and Hymns.

    (3) Getting to spend time with my momma.

    (4) A sweet picture left on my desk by my mama.

    (5) The right to vote.

    (6) My first ever guest post and the wonderful caregiver love/comments I received from so many of you. (I am so blessed to have found my tribe!)

    (7) A hug from one of my fave little boys.

    (8) Talking to one of my fave people on the phone. Love you SP!

    (9) Getting a text from my good friend MW; just to say hello.

    (10) An awesome fundraising night at Taco Johns for our youth. Thanks FLC friends!!!

    (11) Receiving my copy of Rich Melheim's book in the mail. Thanks Rich! I'm excited to read it!!

    (12) A fun package from my friend Heather who is currently living in Japan.

    (13) Helping work the WELCA bazaar with some of our youth and getting to know them better.

    (14) A lady giving me a sweet gift that she won.

    It's a Christmas tree skirt. Isn't it pretty?!

    (15) IMing with some of my new #write31 days friends.

    (16) A little girl so excited to see me at worship. Makes me feel very loved!

    (17) Catching up on my tv shows

    (18) A wonderful PLN (post liturgical nap)

    (19) News that dear friends are expecting Baby #2 in May. So excited for them! :) Baby A is going to be a great big sister!!!

    Friday, November 07, 2014

    The Turning of Seasons

    I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday  today. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "turn." Write for five minutes; unedited.

    The combine turns and moves its way up and down the field. The seeds have turned from seeds into wheat, soybeans or whatever crop we may have planted. My aunt, Dad, and Uncle take turns driving the combine; hoping and praying to get the combining finished within the next week. As I watch them turn down the field, I am reminded of how easily the seasons turn around these parts.

    The leaves continue to turn; from green to hues of burnt orange to bright reds. And as they turn, they fall to the ground reminding us once again of the turn of the seasons. Soon the leaves will no longer be around and our yards and sidewalks will be covered in white fluffy snow. Again another turn of the seasons....

    Months will turn from one month to another on the calendar and after what seems like a very long winter, the snow will begin to melt and the leaves will begin to return on the trees. The air will be filled with cool crisp spring weather. New life will come as baby calves are born. Again another turn of the seasons...

    Before we know it the days will turn longer and it will feel like the days last forever. Spring will turn to summer. And we will find ourselves spending much time enjoying the longer days. The heat of the sun will turn our skin from the pasty white of winter to either sunburnt or tanned. Our hair will be sunkist. Again another turn of the seasons...

    Our seasons turn from summer to fall, from fall to winter, from winter to spring! The beauty of God's creation changes as it turns from each of these seasons.

    Thursday, November 06, 2014

    Lessons Learned

    One of my new #write31 days friends asked this question on Facebook this morning, "Almost a week out from finishing the challenge. How did you see God grow you in the 31 days and do you find yourself with a new calling/purpose for your writing?"

    (1) I have seen God use me for a greater purpose. As I have shared my story, I have seen how God has used me and my families story to bless others, to inspire others and to let others know that they are not alone.

    (2) I was reminded how much I am truly a writer. My mom said I was a strange kid. Often times when I was little, I didn't want a toy. She could give me a piece of paper and a pen and I was a happy camper. Throughout this challenge, I have realized how good it is for my soul to put pen to paper; much like a musician writing a song and putting notes to words. I get to write sermons once a month for my job and write newsletter articles etc. But I haven't really taken the time to write for me! I have realized how much I missed writing!

    (3) My hope is that I will continue to "find my tribe" and that others will find their tribe as well. It is so cool to find others who simply get me and understand who I am. Pure gift in knowing who and whose  I am. I hope that I can use this blog to help others see that as well and to know that gosh darnit, they are good enough; more than good enough!

    (4) That being vulnerable can be a scary place to be. But by showing my own vulnerability, people see me for all of my experiences; for all of my hopes and dreams; for all of my griefs and losses. And by leading by example, others realize and see how being vulnerable and open can bless all of us!

    (5) I learned a lot during these 31 days but I think my favorite has to be one a friend pointed out to me. She reminded me that I am truly living out the words to Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." When I flipped my Bible open and read those words, I realized how true that is. It took me a long time to get there but in sharing my story, I have found a way to fully trust in a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. I honestly don't know how I would have gotten through life and our struggles without my faith. I know that is not true for everyone but for me, there is such comfort in knowing that I am called and claimed as a precious child of God. Thanks be to God for that!

    (6) I also think in many ways I have found my voice again. At seminary, I had a negative experience in a class by a classmate. (She later apologized and became one of my dearest friends) However that experience caused me to shut down and not think I had anything valuable to say. Throughout seminary and in my calls after, I was able to find my voice. And I continue to find that voice even more each and every day!

    "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."--Romans 8:26-28 (The Message Translation)

    Wednesday, November 05, 2014

    Finding My Tribe

    "You know, the ones that make you feel the most YOU! The ones that lift you up and help you remember who you really are. The ones that remind you that a blip in the road is just that, a blip. They are the ones that when you walk out of a room, they make you feel like a better person than when you walked in. They are the ones that even if you don't see them face to face as often as you'd like, you see them heart to heart. You know, that kind of tribe?"--Jennifer Pastiloff

    I came across this quote on Pinterest today and it stopped me in my tracks. Because my heart has been so full lately with the love and kindness of friends; old and new. So much so that I think my heart might burst with joy at any moment! I have been blessed with amazing friends who do all of these things for me. Friends, spending time with you, chatting with you and so much more makes me a better person because you remind me that I am indeed good enough. You also remind me that God places individuals into our lives at the right times and places. I am so thankful and blessed that our lives have crossed. I honestly don't know what I would do without you!!!

    And to you, my #write31 days friends, through your words, I have seen your heart. And your heart is exactly what I have been looking for in my friendships. I honestly don't know how I got so lucky to come across each of your blogs and stories. Thank you for sharing your stories and being vulnerable with me. There is pure gift in sharing our stories and it feels absolutely wonderful to know that I am not on this journey alone. And your stories make me realize there are others out there like me. Others who cling to the promises of God who tell us "YOU are indeed good enough!"

    Because, my friends, the truth is you too are GOOD ENOUGH! In fact, you are more than good enough. God created you in God's image "fearfully and wonderfully made." And by clinging to that promise and trusting in God's love for me and each of you, I sit here humbled, amazed and awed that I have found "my tribe;" a tribe that makes me a better person, a tribe that lets me know I am not on this journey alone; a tribe who isn't afraid to pray for each other and a tribe who know who and whose they are. Thank you for being a part of my tribe, my dear friends!

    Monday, November 03, 2014

    My First Ever Guest Post

    Hi friends! I am participating in my first ever guest post today. In honor of National Family Caregivers month, we are celebrating all the caregivers in the world. Come over to Blessed but Stressed to read more of my story.

    Sunday, November 02, 2014

    Sunday Blessings 54

    (1) Our Diaconal Ministers Gathering in Seattle. Spending time with these dear brothers and sisters is so good for my soul! Love them so much!!!

    (2) Walking on the beach with Beth, Anna, and Holly

    (3) The retreat center making those of us who were flying out at zero dark thirty a take-out breakfast. Very nice of them to do that.

    (4) Holy conversation at our gathering

    (5) Checking out downtown Seattle. There wasn't much open but still fun to see where Pikes Place is etc.

    (6) Listening to a young mom read books to her child a few seats ahead of me on the airplane. Such a sweet sound to my ears.

    (7) KG giving me a ride to the airport on Sun. Thanks friend! And A member picking me up today. Thanks J!

    (8) Coming into my office and finding Halloween cookies on my desk from my colleague BG. So yummy!

    (9) A thank you card and gift cards from some members. Such a sweet gesture.

    (10) Receiving my friend JP's consecration announcement. So excited for her!!!

    (11) My first trick or treaters at my house! Thanks for bringing them by RT and CT!

    (12) All the trick or treaters I got at my house; only 15 but so much more than I got at my apt in Moorhead.

    (13) My friend Mandy's baby shower

    (14) Finishing the #write31 days challenge. Posting all 31 days!!

    (15) Getting to hold a 5 week old baby for a few minutes this morning

    (16) Two little girls who were my shadows for a little bit this morning. So sweet!!

    (17) Leading a couple of stations for family SS today. So much fun!!!