Thursday, February 26, 2015

Over Coffee (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 "Visit." Write for five minutes; unedited.

There is something so incredibly holy about pulling up a chair, sipping coffee or even wine with a dear friend. And as we visit, we hear each others stories and our souls become intertwined as we realize we have more in common than apart.

I have been blessed throughout my life to have friendships like this that when we visit together, my heart becomes full. We pray for each other. We laugh so hard our sides ache. We cry on each other's shoulders through those difficult times. These are the women that I hold dear and jump at every opportunity to visit over coffee or wine with them.

I visit every Thursday evening over Twitter with the #fmfparty. I visit over coffee and conversation with my best friends. Sometimes these visits become few and far between because our schedules become full. Other times, these visits are just what my heart and soul need. I am always thankful for these visits and cannot wait for the next one to come.

My friends, pull up a chair, sit down, and I'll pour you a beverage of your choosing and then we can sit and visit!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Blessings 70

(1) A nice lazy day

(2) The Liebster Award

(3) Flowers from one of my Confirmation small groups. So sweet!!

(4) A milestone blessing bowl for my house; given to me by a colleague at work.

(5) A member giving me a ride home. Even though it's only a block, she thought it was too cold for me to walk.

(6) A call from my mom letting me know she was in town and getting to have lunch with her.

(7) Making prayer magnets and having only a handful left after Ash Wed services.

(8) Members calling and inviting me to go with them to Heritage Singers variety show tonight.

(9) Heritage Singers Variety Show. I don't think I've laughed that hard in a LONG time!!

(10) A surprise package from my friend SM! It's a Line-A-Day 50 Year Journal! I'm so excited to use it!!

(11) Visiting with my friend KG and being at our friend ST's moms funeral.

(12) Dad, Cork and I coming to Minot for the weekend.

(13) Ground Round with my sis, Dad, Cork, and some of Cork's kids and grandkids.

(14) Brunch with Dad, Ann, and Cork

(15) So much fun teaching the little ones at Family SS this morning about the Holy Spirit.

(16) Family Game afternoon at church

(17) A surprise in my office after church. To the gifters, thank you so much!!

(18) Texting with some of my fave people. God has a way of having those texts pop up when either one of us needs a friend. It always amazes me!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Open My Heart

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 "Open." Write for five minutes; unedited.

For a long time I have asked for God to open my heart to that special person to love. It is a prayer that I continually seem to be lifting up to God in prayer. And I patiently wait for God to hear my prayers. There are days that I wonder if God hears them at all.

This year my oneword365 "brave" is finding its way into my head and my heart in a lot of ways. There have been whispers shared with me through friends gently nudging me to pray about being a foster mom or adopting a child of my own. For a long time, I have felt God's nudgings but I have felt more roadblocks than open doors. Is God continually nudging me to open my heart and to trust God to hold my heart?

I am not sure what door is opening for me, but what I do know is that I need to trust in trust God to make me brave; to fully give my heart up to God! God has a way of opening our doors, sneaking in, and showing up when we least expect him.

As my heart waits to be opened for that special someone to love, I am choosing to be brave. I want to be a woman who is brave and doesn't tiptoe around fear. In the words of Renee Swope's, "I want to be a woman overcomes obstacles by tackling them in faith instead of tiptoeing around them in fear."

Praying for God to continually open my heart!

Waiting in Faith

Do you ever have one of those times when a sermon you've heard just keeps replaying in your brain? Last week's sermon was one of those for me! It has a deep grip on my head and my heart. Last weekend my colleague PB was the preaching Pastor for the weekend but unfortunately was not feeling well, so my other colleague PK had to preach. PK's words and sermon have been replaying in my head ever since last Sunday.

The whole theme of PK's sermon was about "waiting upon the Lord." One of the questions that he asked especially has been replaying in my heart and head this week. The question he asked was this, "How many "untils"? Can you wait for them in faith?"

How many "untils?" "Can you wait for them in faith?" Anyone who knows me or has read this here blog knows how my heart yearns so deeply to be a wife and a momma. I have often said....I cannot wait until I find my Mr. Right. I cannot wait until I have my first child. I cannot wait until....(fill in the blanks). And as I heard those questions, I found myself caught by them.....caught so much that my head shook along in agreement and a lump caught up in my throat. I'll be honest I haven't been very good at waiting in faith for my prayers to come true.  There have been more days than not when I wonder if God has heard my prayers at all. But the truth is I need to trust more fully. I need to wait more patiently. I need to especially wait for them in faith.

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for the assurance of things not yet seen"

 "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return!" As I heard those words last night and the cross marked on my forehead, I found myself saying, "Tara, you need to wait in faith...wait in faith for your "untils" to come true. It also reminded me that in my own humanity and even mortality, I am a human; called, claimed, and loved by God. And God is continually making me new! God is continually making YOU new too friends! I know that isn't easy for us to hear but God has this incredible way of taking dust and making it into beautiful things. And so as I wait in faith, I trust God to make my "untils" come true and for God to make me new!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Liebster Award

My friend Susan at Hope Heart Home nominated me and Praying on the Prairie for the Liebster award. Susan and I met through the #write 31 days challenge, but more specifically, we both participated in the fourth round of the #fmfpartysnailmail and ended up on the same list! It was so fun to send real mail and get to know this wonderful lady through handwritten notes. We also both participate often in the Five Minute Friday over at Kate Motaung's place.

The Liebster Award originated in Germany and it is an award given to bloggers, by bloggers, who don’t have a zillion followers. It’s a fun opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better.

The rules have been amended this time around and have a fun 31 days twist on them. (The strike throughs indicate the changes that were made for this round.) As my friend Melissa said, who has time to nominate 11 people; 5 though seems totally doable! :)

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominates you.
  2. Answer the questions given by the person who nominates you.
  3. Nominate 11 5 other bloggers with 200 followers or less big or small.
  4. Create 11 5 new questions for the nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know they’ve been nominated!
Here are the questions Susan asked:

If you could have been “on the scene” of any event in Jesus’ life here on earth, which one would you choose and why? Wow...that is a hard question to answer. I think it would have been really cool to be at the Last Supper and the foot-washing. I also think it would have been pretty incredible to be at his crucifixion and Resurrection. It would have been so hard but it would have been pretty incredible to come to the tomb and find it empty too.

What is your greatest challenge in your everyday walk as a believer? This one is pretty easy for me! Anyone who reads this here blog knows the deepest desires of my heart. There are days that I wonder if God hears them at all. And there are also days I am able to put all my trust in God.

Rooster or Owl? Totally owl! I bought my friend SM's little girl Lucy the cutest owl outfit. I saw it and couldn't NOT walk out of the store with it. I also have a stuffed owl on the dashboard of my car. My friend Melissa's girls gave it to me as a going away present. I love it!

Weekend getaway with one favorite person – beachside or mountain chalet? Moutain chalet in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado! :)

It’s a snowy weekend. You can’t get out in the car. You opt for a good book or good movies? I love to read so I would probably chose a good book. But I must admit that lately I have been rather lazy about reading and would probably pick a good movie first! But the ideal day would be a mix of both; good movies and good books!

Now it is my turn to nominate five amazing women so here goes my five:

(1) Therese Moma at Tales from a Southern Catholic Momma
(2) My dear friend Sarah at Every Day Holy
(3) Faith at Sweet Violet
(4) Bethany at Riding on Abba's Shoulders
(5) Dana at Dana Butler

My friends, if this isn't your cup of tea, feel free to pass. But if you want to do this, that is awesome. Please be sure to link back to me. And here are your five questions:

(1) What brings you the most joy?
(2) If Jesus were to come to your house today, what would you serve?
(3) Since it has been so cold, I thought we would look towards summer. What is your favorite summer activity?
(4) Your fave Bible story or verse?
(5) What is the song that is continually on repeat these days?

Happy writing!!!

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    Our Words DO MATTER!

    "Sticks and stones may break my bones....but words will never hurt me." Oh how untrue that phrase is. Words do hurt!! In fact, words sometimes are so painful it is hard to come back from them.

    As a young girl, I was the child that was teased...and probably in some senses of the word, bullied. I was called many different names "Cry baby" "OJ Spiller" and the list goes on and on. Even as the tears fell from my face, many of them still continued to call me some pretty mean names. It took me a long time to get past those ugly words that were hurled at me as a child. I will admit that a few of those individuals have come to me and apologized...but not everyone has!

    Over time and after giving up those moments and hurting words to my God, I have found myself moving on. But I will admit that I am one of those individuals who tries very carefully to say what I want to say and to say it in a positive light. Yes, I admit that sometimes I get angry and have raised my voice...just ask my Confirmation class...but after a few minutes, I find myself reflecting and trying very hard to cast good light...good words.

    In this social media age, I think what we say matters more than it ever has before! Social media has a way for us to think we can say anything we want. But the truth is that we CANNOT! We still have to be careful of what we say. There are thousands, no millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Someone is likely to read our words and be hurt by them even if that was NOT our intention at all!

    And today I was reminded of how easily and quickly someone can be hurt! A friend was hurt by someone else's words and actions today on a group thread. My heart is breaking for her!! And I am angry with and for her! Our words do matter!!!

    God wants us to lift each other up with tenderheartedness and kind words. God wants us to lift each other up rather than knock each other down. I pray that we can be more careful with our words and treat each other with kindness and respect. The world would be a much kinder and gentler place if we truly realized the power of our words and used them for good rather than evil.

    "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."--Ephesians 4:32

    "Let us love not with words or speech but with actions and in truth."--1 John 3:18

    Sunday, February 15, 2015

    Sunday Blessings 69

    (1) A member saying my sermon gave her a little peace yesterday.

    (2) Getting back into a workout routine

    (3) Watching Full House reruns

    (4) A great and productive staff meeting this afternoon

    (5) Awesome #fmfpartysnailmail!!

    (6) Talking to my Daddy on the phone and finding out they might visit me next weekend or the next.

    (7) Candles that I got from some of my Confirmation students for Christmas that have helped get the burnt smell out of my office! A ballast went out in one of the flourescent lights in my office!

    (8) A sweet email from a fellow blogger letting me know that she appreciates me reading and commenting on my blog.

    (9) Texting with my sissy

    (10) A V-Day card from my sissy

    (11) Hanging with my friend EG

    (12) Chocolate molten lava cake

    (13) Volunteering at the downtown V-Day dinner! So much fun and I got to run the cash bar!

    (14) Texting with MW

    (15) Holding an infant while greeting today at church

    (16) Helping with a Baptism at church. I love marking these milestones!!

    (17) Buying Girl Scout cookies from one of my church kiddos! She was soooo excited to sell them so I bought three boxes!!

    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    God's Beloved (A Valentine's Day Post)

    I am one of those people who appreciates Valentine's Day and the fact that we honor ALL those we love on this day! But as a single woman, this day is definitely a reminder to me of the fact that I am not married etc yet. However though I know that I am indeed loved and honored by God. I am valuable! I am loved! I am worthy...more precious than silver or gold!

    Yesterday afternoon I was out and about doing errands, listening to the radio station K-love when they shared a blog post by Jessica Morris titled "I'm single. Stop Pitying Me on Valentines." As the dj read portions of the blog post, my heart was full..because Morris's words spoke straight to my heart.

    The end of the article was one of my favorite paragraphs in the whole piece: "I’m single. Not sick, not a problem and not past my prime. So please don’t pity me on Valentine’s Day, because today of all days, I need your help to remember that my value doesn’t rest in a relationship status, in a box of chocolates or in a red rose. It rests in the fact that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am God’s beloved and His plans for me far exceed the feelings of a day." Read more at

    My friends, today if you are married, or divorce or single, know that you are one of God's beloved and that is enough! Happy Valentine's Day friends!

    Friday, February 13, 2015

    When God Shows Up in my Mailbox

    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 "When." Write for five minutes; unedited.

    I have always loved receiving snail mail in in my mailbox. It is so much fun to get surprises in my mail. There is the time my friend Sarah sent me a new hat she had crocheted. It is still my winter hat and I always get so many compliments on it.

    It is so much fun to participate in my second round of the #fmfpartysnailmail. And it is always surprising to me how often God shows up in my inbox or in my mailbox.

    God showed up in my email inbox a few weeks ago when a blog commenter sent me a note asking me to share about their journey, Lung Leavin' day, and to give my fears up to God.

    Yesterday was one of those days when God definitely showed up in my mailbox. I received such an inspired note from one of the gals in my round of #fmfpartysnailmail that was so perfect for me! I will always hold these words close to my heart.

    When God shows up in my mailbox....

    When God shows up in my inbox....

    I know that God is indeed with me!

    Sunday, February 08, 2015

    Sunday Blessings 68

    (1) The E

    (2) Not being alone when our first flight was delayed, when we missed our connecting flight and had to spend the night in MPLS.

    (3) A 50 % off voucher from the airline for our hotel

    (4) My E blog post being liked, reshared, etc. I'm completely awed and humbled when my words speak to so many! Thanks friends!!

    (5) My dear friend CT inviting me over for supper with her and her daughters. Such a fun night!

    (6) MH picking me up at the airport.

    (7) A parishioner telling me she missed seeing me in church last week.

    (8) A handful of new Twitter followers

    (9) Hot water (that stays hot). My shower was so wonderful!! I usually have hot water but it doesn't always stay hot. I had someone come look at the water heater.

    (10) Catching up on my DVRed shows

    (11) Yummy Taco Chicken chili

    (12) Voxing with KA and TM

    (13) A youth telling me she liked my cross.

    (14) Saying goodbye to two dear members. Hard to say goodbye but so blessed to get to say that goodbye.

    (15) A fantastic PLN (post-liturgical nap)

    (16) Breakfast for dinner; blueberry pancakes and pork sausage links

    (17) Tackling Mt. Laundry

    (18) The Grammys

    (19) Talking to my momma on the phone

    Friday, February 06, 2015

    Expiration Dates, Photo Books, Yummy Pastries and Two Mini American Flags

    When it comes to expiration dates on food in my fridge, I am a little obsessive. I tend not to keep things beyond their expiration date even if it is safe to keep them. But when it comes to memories, I am a keeper. I love making photo books especially ShutterFly photo books. Memories are dear to me.

    Last week I experienced so many wonderful memories. I got to snuggle baby Lucy for the first time. I seriously could not get enough of her baby snuggles. Baby Lucy and her mom are two important people in my life and their friendship is something I treasure and  dearly want to keep in my life along with many other friends.

    Lucy, her mom, and many other friends and I also found the cutest little pastry shop. The desserts were so scrumptious. I indulged in a piece of mini carrot cake, a lemon poppyseed muffin and my favorite; the most amazing German Chocolate Torte. I ended up having to leave a few items behind at the hotel but there was no way I could keep them all the way home.

    And on the last day, a friend and I were in the food court of the Renaissance center when I walked around the corner to peak at one of the restaurants menus. An African American man was sitting at a booth and noticed my Nebraska Cornhusker tshirt. He called me over to his table. He asked what I knew about Nebraska and I told him I was there for a youth conference. He proceeded to dig in his pocket and gave me not one, but two mini American flags. He told me that he was a Vietnam vet. He gave me the flags and asked me to give him a donation. I told him that I didnt have any cash on me and told him that I would have to come back. I handed the flags over to him but he told me to keep them anyways. Later I came back and he was already gone. I am planning on going online to give to the veterans association for this stranger I met.

    Sadly I was not able to keep the flags because they were made out of toothpicks and I knew that they would not make it through airport security. But that memory is engrained in my mind along with many other wonderful memories!

    Thursday, February 05, 2015

    Throwing My Fears in the Fire

    God has a way of showing up in the most unexpected ways.

    I hadn't checked my blog or my email for a few days last week since I was attending the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. I wanted my time in Detroit to be dedicated to spending quality time with old and new friends alike.

    But one afternoon during a break, I decided to take a quick peak at my blog. I noticed that I had a comment on one of my posts where the individual asked me to email him. So on my way home from the E, I sent him a quick email. The man that emailed me was Cameron Von St. James. Cameron had stumbled upon my blog and asked if I would participate in sharing about his and his wife Heather's journey as well as share about Lung Leavin Day.

    In his email Cameron wrote, "Nine years ago, my wife Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Heather had just given birth to our daughter, and during the most exciting time in our lives, she was given just 15 months to live. After surgery to remove her left lung, Heather began her journey towards survival, and Lung Leavin' Day was born."

    He then continues with, "This year (Feb 2nd) will be the 9th Lung Leavin' Day celebration! The purpose of this holiday is to encourage others to face their fears. Each year, we gather around a fire in our backyard with our friends and family, write our biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. We celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, we celebrate life!" (Learn more here: Throw Your Fears to the Fire!)

    Cameron asked me to write about my fears, to write it on a virtual plate and then to smash it in the fire with them. As many of you know my #oneword365 for 2015 is "brave" and when I read Cameron's email, I knew this was a perfect opportunity for me to be "brave."

    My fingers danced across the keyboard as I typed on the plate on their interactive page. I typed the words "I am afraid I will never be a mom." Yep...there I said it! In fact I literally wrote those words on my interactive plate.  I even went back and typed more words on a second plate that read "beginning the adoption journey." I so deeply yearn to be a mom and there are days I am afraid that God doesn't hear my pleas. I am afraid that these dreams will never come true for me. Yet adoption and/or foster care are two things that I have been praying about and have given completely over to God.

    Today I am choosing to follow Heather and Cameron's examples, I am choosing to write down those fears and to throw them into the fire. I'll admit it feels good to write them down and give them wholeheartedly over to God. I am not sure what God has in store for me, but I do know that God will help me overcome these fears. I know that God will give me the strength to journey trusting in him as he holds my heart.

    I have so many friends who continually remind me that I will be an awesome mom. They also don't think God would give me these deep yearnings if it wasn't going to happen for me. Yet it is something that still scares me. I want to find my Mr. Right and be a Mom so deeply. (Anyone who knows me knows I love every chance I get to hold a baby.)

    So I'm throwing my fears into the hot fire and am leaning into God as God holds my heart

    Monday, February 02, 2015

    Sacred Community (#ext15)

    Take two!!

    This was only my second time attending the E, but there is something so incredibly holy about this time. I didn't even know what I was missing, but now I can't get enough of it.

    My friend ST had been trying to get me to come to the E for FOREVER! And my German Russian stubbornness got in the way until last year. And now the E is a priority for me.

    The E totally is a well that refills my empty cup. It gives me new life as I spend holy sacred time with amazing people. The E simply restores my soul.

    This year a friend and I decided to gather together a gathering of Word and Service folk to talk about the proposed changes to our roster in 2016. I honestly thought we would just get a few and we had almost twenty. It was such holy time for me.

    One morning a FB friend and I even met in real life. I was humbled and awed that she called me her mentor. Craziness!! Again sacred holy time!

    I spent tons of time with friends from all different times and places in my life. As we talked about story, I was reminded of how these people were and continue to be a part of my story as our paths crossed. Yet again sacred holy time.

    It's hard to put into words what this community means to me. It is a community that forever will connect different times and places in my life. It is a community that will always welcome me and YOU (my dear youth worker friends, volunteers, etc) with open arms.

    It is a community that I know will wipe my tears in my moments of deep sadness and will rejoice with me in those moments of overwhelming joy!

    It is a community that sees my gifts; sees your gifts and continually encourages me; you to use those gifts. Sometimes this community names these gifts before we even see them in ourselves.

    This community, my friends, is an amazing holy gift to each other and to our wider church. Thank you for inviting me, welcoming me and showing me the power of community. May many others find this community and join us in our story together.

    Sunday, February 01, 2015

    Sunday Blessings 67

    (1) My friend CT texting me a pic of a cat they are going to adopt. And letting me know she put me down as a reference at the shelter. So excited for them!!

    (2) A great trip to Detroit

    (3) Running into so many amazing friends and meeting new ones.

    (4) Great Practice Discipleship training

    (5) Meeting Baby Lucy for the first time

    (6) Meeting a FB friend in real life

    (7) Listening to GirlWithBlog speak at #Ext15

    (8) North Dakota lunch with great people at the E

    (9) Astoria Pastry Shop; German chocolate torte, mini carrot cake, and lemon poppyseed muffins.

    (10) Watching the Super Bowl with friends

    (11) Riding the people mover for the first time in Detroit

    (12) A great group at the Exploring Diakonia at the E dinner. Great conversation with great people.

    (13) Awesome Super Bowl commercials

    (14) CT doing me a favor and picking me up at the airport tomorrow night

    (15) There are so many more I could post so I'm just simply going to close by saying: the E!!!