Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pass the Chocolate!

Thursday is always made so much better by the Five Minute Friday Twitter party. If you don't know about this party, you must join us and check it out. We chat and wait for our gracious host to give us the word prompt. Then we are to set our timers for five minutes and write without making any edits. It's a practice in free writing! 

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 "pass."

There is something incredibly holy about sitting around the table and passing dishes between one another as we converse. I am reminded of Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving dinner. The plate passes from one hand to the next. I am also reminded of every time we gather around the communion table because breaking bread together is a holy act.

One of my favorite things about Thursday nights is gathering on Twitter for our Five Minute Friday Twitter party. We often end up talking about all things Gilmore Girls or about chocolate or whatever is happening in our lives during this week. Tonight we shared recipes for making brownies in a mug.

Pass the chocolate. Pass the brownies. Pass the yummy decadent dessert. During our Twitter parties, we are passing them virtually. But someday I believe, this side of heaven, we will gather and pass the chocolate, brownies and decadent dessert around a table in real life. What a joyous occasion that will be.

Yet I have a feeling there will also be unspoken words too because there will probably be some missing from our table. Will Andrew still be with us? Or will he have passed on to another life? Will others be missing from our table too? Or will others be added to our table too? It will be a table gathered to pass plates and goodies as we laugh, cry, and talk. I even can see little ones gathered at the table too. I will be the first to ask to have the baby passed to me so I can get my baby snuggles in.

I don't want to pass this by. I want to treasure every moment, every conversation, and every Twitter party until the day we meet around the table in real life. So for now..will you just pass the chocolate?I'll be waiting!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Let's Be Adventurers Looking for Lovely!

Have you ever watched a child play? They are so good about using their imaginations and adventuring to different places. Last month I met up with a neighbor friend who I haven't seen in at least ten years. She is married with two young children. After lunch, we went to a local mall to play in their play area. M climbed right up into the toy jeep and then told me to get in so I climbed into the jeep. Needless to say, I wasn't very comfortable as I am much bigger than a child, but I found myself laughing as M kept telling me where he was taking me. Why can't we be more like children and be more spontaneous?

I'll admit that I like being home, but I also have learned that when I do travel and adventure, I fall in love with the people and places I get to experience for the first time: Nashville with my sister last summer, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and so many other places. Yet I have not always been good at being spontaneous or an adventurer.

However, sometimes you just have to take the plunge. When I was in college, my friend Kristi and I decided to be spontaneous one night. Neither of us were the most spontaneous people in the world but Kristi was craving Olive Garden pasta and the nearest Olive Garden was approximately four hours away. So we hopped in Kristi's car and drove to Fargo. We ate pasta, rented a hotel at a very seedy hotel and then got up the next morning and drove back to Bismarck. It is a memory that is ingrained in my mind because it taught both of us that it is great to be spontaneous.

Last night, I was watching Annie F. Down's Looking for Lovely Party when she shared about the Looking for Lovely weekend in Nashville. The cost of the weekend is rather reasonable. I looked at the calendar and realized that it is a two day weekend that I could totally swing. The only problem is that flights to Nashville from Minot ND are usually rather expensive! :( So while I want to be an adventurer and meet one of my fave authors in the world, I will have to wait on this adventure.

Sometimes life is like that, isn't it? Life gets in the way of our being adventurers. Yet I still believe that we are all called to be adventurers. God wants us to explore this awesome creation that God created. In doing so, as adventurers, it is so much easier for us to find the lovely in the world. So will you join me in being adventurers as we continue to look for lovely in our world?

I am linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Raw and Real

Last night I was making Korean Bao sliders from my Blue Apron box. As I was frying the hamburger, I kept finding myself returning the hamburger to the pan at the sight of any red or pink meat. I'm a woman who loves her meat very well done so I had to make sure my meat was well cooked. In fact, I don't want to see any hints of rawness exposed which got me thinking more about life.

How raw are you? Are you willing to be raw, real and vulnerable? Or are you afraid to expose yourself to the people around me? Exposing ourselves, in all our raw vulnerability and glory, is almost impossible to do. I know it took me a long time to show myself to the world; to share parts of my story that I never wanted to tell. Yet I'm reminded of Brene Brown's words "The bravest thing you'll ever do is tell your story."

I believe that God wants us to be open and raw with one another; to remind each other that we are not on this journey alone. In fact, in sharing our stories, we no longer hide our own skinned knees, but rather compare our scars with one another; scars that like the scars left on Jesus' hands after his crucifixion and resurrection remind us of the ultimate power of God.

It's scary to expose ourselves. Yet God made each one of us unique. God wants us to show all of who God created us to be; as "fearfully and wonderfully made" beings. It may be scary, yet in exposing ourselves, we remind each other of the gift of who we are.

It's important to be real and raw. This week my friend MG voxed me and shared how she appreciated my realness, my rawness and my vulnerability in sharing my story. To be honest, those are words that  15 years ago, you wouldn't have heard about me. But over the years, I've learned the value of being raw. In being raw, I show every part of who I am even those parts I don't even want to share.

Are you willing to be real, vulnerable and raw too?

I'm linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, and Jennifer and Tell His Story.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Some of My Fave Road Trip Jams

Summer will soon be upon us. And I don't know about you, but I love some good music to jam out to as I drive down those highways and byways. For the last six summers, I have attended a continuing education event in the heart of the Rocky Mountains just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. From where I live, it is about a 12-14 hour drive so I always sing loudly to my fave songs as I drive down the road. In that vein, I wanted to share my road trip playlist with you! I've been checking out some road trip posts from car rental company Turo recently and was inspired to create my own. Check them out if you're looking for a different Car rental company for trips - they're a peer-to-peer platform so you can rent from a local and enjoy a more personal experience!

I will admit that my taste in music can be rather eclectic. I like everything from contemporary christian to country to oldies and everything in-between. So I thought I would share some of my fave road trip songs to sing along too. These are some of my faves because I can sing loudly to them without a care in the world.

I told you it was an eclectic list, but I love anything that I can jam out too.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Blessings 124

(1) Baby time with Miss R

(2) Compliments on my outfit of the day--Julia dress, leggings and short boots.

(3) Getting to see CT's girls and getting hugs from them.

(4) A great lunch with great ladies

(5) Sitting outside and reading a book

(6) Texting with my friend MW

(7) One of the ladies bringing us treats for our meeting.

(8) A lady asking me if I've lost weight

(9) My friend EG complimenting me on my outfit.

(10) A much needed haircut

(11) A beautiful day for a drive

(12) Running into AH

(13) Brantley Gilbert concert with my sister.

(14) One of Canaan Smith's guitar players catching my eye and throwing his guitar pick at me.

(15) Our concert seats being upgraded.

(16) A fun weekend with my sister

(17) Looking over during worship and seeing EG copying me. So cute!!

(18) Running into a member at Perkins and having a nice visit.

(19) 10th Anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA!!

(20) Cars 2

(21) My sis buying me my fave cinnamon gummy bears

(22) An awesome PLN

(23) My new fave beverage: Blackberry Cucumber La Croix Sparkling Water

(24) A warm house on this very rainy day

(25) YOU!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

United We Stand

The Five Minute Friday community has *united* me to so many awesome people. I'm so blessed by each and every one of them. This community wouldn't be anything without any of them. We gather every Thursday night to chat and wait for our gracious host to give us the word prompt. Tonight we talked about the Jungle Book and how evil She Khan is. We also shared about how 3D movies and glasses always make us feel cross eyed. We shared some writing advice. Marie came in and told us she was going to stand in the corner because she is crabby. We told her we'd welcome her "princess crabby pants" anyways. All are welcome here! Then our conversation led to the news of the death of Prince right before Kate gave us the prompt. Then everyone went away to write;  tapping away on their keys. 

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 "unite."

United we stand, divided we fall.

As a young child, I was a kid who was teased. Those words that were hurled at me hurt my heart. But I was blessed with friends who stood up for me and stood with me.

United we stand, divided we fall.

On Saturday, I will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA. Seminary was not at all an easy journey for me. I took systematic theology more times than I care to admit. I am reminded of my first days of classes where I finally mustered up the courage to speak and was immediately shut down.

A few years later,  my advisor gave me sage advice when he said to my approval committee "Do you know how easy it would have been for Tara to walk out the door, shut the door and never look back. It takes more guts to stick with it." Because of those words, I was able to stick with it. I remember one day in particular when some classmates united with me, sat across the table from me, and told me how much they had seen me change over the course of our time together.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Funny story, *my birthday fell in those first days of seminary. I bought my own birthday cake. But my friends and I sat and ate that cake with our hands that night. It is one of my favorite memories from seminary and is engrained in my heart and mind. Together we stood united as we walked across that stage and graduated from seminary. Together we stood united as we watched two of our friends lives united as one. Together we have stood united through each of our joys and sorrows.

United we stand, divided we fall.

God has placed amazing people in my life who have stood by through all of life's ups and downs. My camp friends, youth ministry friends, my online friends and so many have stood united with me. And I will stand united with you.

Last summer, as I got to hug Jen, sit across the table from Janel and Val, my heart was full as I once again found souls that were united to mine as we shared our love of words and writing. Every time I open my mailbox to find a sweet surprise, listen to a Vox or see a note on my Facebook wall, I know that I am not alone!

United we stand, divided we fall.

Too much in this world feels divided...war, destruction, death and the like. Today we read the news of the loss of another music icon whose music often united us.  Yet I know that the ultimate uniter is Jesus--Jesus who binds us together in communities where we will stand united rather than fall divided!

*where my five minutes ended

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No Quitting And Looking for Lovely

I have never seen myself as a quitter. I rode my book without training wheels. But you know, I think, there are other areas in my life where I might be a quitter.

For the last six summers, I have attended a continuing education event in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. My first summer, some of the locals offered to take us on a "family friendly" hike. I decided to go on that hike, but little did I realize how "family friendly" was not the same to me. Half way through that hike, I thought I was going to die (I might have been a little dramatic!) I seriously didn't think I was going to be able to finish that hike, but I seriously kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Yet maybe in my own ways, I was ready and willing to turn around and just quit. Then I was convicted by Annie F. Downs when she wrote: "I could already see that in my little bit of walking the trails, the suffering has made me persevere, my character (my strength) had grown, and I had hope to keep going. God was showing me in nature, and in my body, what has always been true in my spirit if I would choose to see it that way. He was literally changing me from the inside out (Looking for Lovely, P. 166)."

God is indeed changing me and you from the inside out. I want to be a woman who both perseveres and clings to grace. In the words of Annie Downs, I want to be a woman who is marked by grace and perseverance as partners (Looking for Lovely, P. 167)"

Taking that first step and doing the things that are hard, we are no longer quitters. We will be people who take a few steps rather than no steps at all. "I just had to keep showing up, even when it hurt or felt hard or wasn't AT ALL what I wanted to do (Looking for Lovely, P. 39)"

As I prepare to be a step taker rather than a quitter, I want to share some of my fave quotes from Annie's latest book. I could share so many but I'll limit them to a few today.

"The things you want, the things you love, the things that make you cry, and the things that make you laugh, and the things that make you more angry than you thought you could be--it's a rare combination. In fact, it's a one-of-a-kind combination. Because God made you that way. On purpose. Your looks. Your loves. Your losses. They are you (Looking for Lovely, P. 44)

"My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain (Looking for Lovely, P. 75)."

"And what I'm almost too afraid to think about, if I'm being honest with you, is what this means for the tears I've cried over my singleness. Because...THEY HAVE BEEN CRIED AND WILL BE CRIED AGAIN. How can something dwarf the heartache and loneliness I've felt my whole adult life? How can that be? I question if it can, to be honest. That's just the truth of what I feel. I love my life and I'm so grateful for all I have, but it certainly isn't the kind of joy that makes the tears seem tiny (Looking for Lovely, P. 83)."

"Your people remind you of the goodness of God and remind you of what it means to finish (Looking for Lovely, P. 143)."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

To Love Well

" If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all God's mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain 'Jump,' and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love."-1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (The Message)

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today when I came across these words on my friend Dana's page. Today these words hit me more than ever before. I too want to love well. And I want to know that the love I am sharing; God's love is making a difference. Because God's love always wins.

This Bible verse also got me thinking about the deepest yearnings of my heart. As a single 37 year old, still yearning deeply to be a wife and mom, there are days I wonder why my heart is yearning so deeply. I also wonder why I cling to the words "How long, oh Lord, will you forget me forever?" But what I have come to realize is that God has called me to "love well." I want to be a friend who loves her friends well. I want to be a mom who loves her children well. I want to be a wife who loves her spouse well. I want to simply love well...whatever that love may look like in my own life.

Yes, there are days that we are not so great at loving each other well. We have arguments. We don't always agree with one another. We sometimes are selfish and jealous. But the truth is that even in the midst of those challenges, God calls us to all love well; to shower God's love upon this world. God sent God's son into the world for each and every one of us. "For God so loved the world that God gave God's only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God sent God's Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16-17)."

God's love for the world was given to each and every one of us when God sacrificed God's Son on the cross for our sins. What an incredible powerful act of love--the ultimate example of what it means to love well. I too want to share that love and grace with the world. I too want to follow and love all God's people well; most especially I want to love well all those that are different than me. To be honest, I don't know what God will say when we get to heaven, but what I do know is that God loves us so much that God sent Jesus for our sins...and Jesus was the ultimate example of love for the world. Jesus always choose love and wasn't afraid to sit with those that were different than him.

One doesn't need to look far to see how our world is bombarded with pain, war, and violence. There are so many days when I don't want to open a newspaper or turn on my television because of the destruction that I will see. Instead I am choosing to cling to hope and God's love for the world because ultimately it is God's love that wins and calls each and every one of us to "love each other well"; a love that is stronger than just words and actions; a love that transcends beyond all time and space!

For King and Country--The Proof of Your Love
I am linking up with these lovelies today--Holly and Testimony Tuesday; Kelly and the RaRa linkup; Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday!!



Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Blessings 123

(1) Voxing with KA

(2) Annie F. Downs book "Looking for Lovely"

(3) A Vox from MarieG

(4) Volunteer Recognition with some great ladies from church.

(5) Starbucks Key Lime Refresher

(6) Fun children's sermon at Wed night worship.

(7) Receiving my tax refunds; federal and state.

(8) My fave guilty pleasure; the tv show Nashville

(9) Texting with MW

(10) A Vox from CM..I've missed hearing from you friend.

(11) An email from my blog friend CR telling me she was blessed by reading my words in the book I'm working on. She also had great suggestions to help make it better.

(12) FMF Party

(13) The sweet smell of a spring rain

(14) Supper with my Aunt P and her friend.

(15) Going to the movie Jungle Book with Aunt P and her friend C

(16) Movie theater popcorn

(17) A great Sunday morning

(18) A sweet thank you for what you do gift bag left in my office.

(19) Supper with one of my fave families

(20) Watching my fave dancers at their funk show.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Learning to Ride A Bike

If you don't know the low down, Thursday night is the night for FMF party where we gather and catch up on life and wait for our gracious host Kate to give us the word prompt for the week. Tonight we talked about all things Gilmore Girls. We lived vicariously through our friends who are together at the Festival of Faith and Writers. I seriously gush over these people and this community at every chance I get. I am so blessed by each of them and cannot wait until we meet in real life. Love you peeps!!

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 "easy."

Learning how to ride a bike isn't the easiest thing in the world, is it? Most kids have to ride around with training wheels on their bikes. They ride around until they have balance and the tires are no longer on the ground. That is a sure sign that they are probably ready to ride their bike. But that doesn't mean there won't still be skinned knees and elbows.

For me, learning to ride a bike was fairly easy. My parents surprised me with my first bike for my 5th Birthday. I had many friends over for my party. I had to solve the scavenger hunt clues until it led me to my new bike. I was so excited!!! My friends had me sit on the bike. They held on and pushed me while I pedaled. After awhile, my friends let go of my bike and I was still peddling. I was riding my bike by myself.

Riding my bike came easy for me, but for others, it maybe doesn't come as easily. For some writing might come easy. For others, singing might come easy. Life is like that isn't it? Life isn't always easy. Life is full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows and so much more. We grieve. We cry. We struggle.  I truly believe that life isn't suppose to be easy. In fact, I came across this quote and it is so full of truth: "Nothing worth having comes easy!" Amen!

Peaceful Easy Feeling--The Eagles 
And because it's the first song 
I thought of when I heard the word prompt, 
I had to include this! One of my fave songs 
To jam out to! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Wounded, Broken and Called to Be World-Changers!

Have you ever felt like not enough, my friends? I know I have. In fact, more times than I care to admit I have felt like not enough. In fact, sometimes I find myself stumbling through life wondering if I am visible in the world. But then I am reminded that God used the unlikeliest of people to be world-changers.

"Hannah tasted the salty tears of infertility.
Elijah howled for God to take his life.
David asked his soul a thousand times why it was so downcast.
Next time you feel like not enough know that God sees the broken as the best and
God calls the wounded to be world-changers."--Ann Voskamp

Yet even though Hannah, Elijah, and David were broken, God used them for God's glory. They were indeed world changers. Many of the broken were world changers including Mary. This unlikely virgin woman gave birth to Jesus; the Messiah; the one who would come to turn the world upside down and would eventually be crucified on Calvary's hill for our sins. What if these world-changers had quit?

I don't always see myself as a world-changer, but I am indeed a broken individual. I am the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. I am a single 37 year old alone waiting for her deepest desires to be met. I am a woman who was scarred by the words that were hurled at her as a child. And there are still days that I wonder if I am smart enough, pretty enough, etc. Through a mirror dimly, there are indeed days that I yearn to see myself as everyone else sees me with all the gifts God has bestowed upon me because most of the time all I can see are my flaws.

Like many other women in this world, I find myself standing in the midst of the wilderness clinging to my faith and hoping to find the light that will lead me out of the wilderness. My beloved author BFF (ok we aren't really BFF's but I would love to be!) Annie F. Down's in her new book Looking for Lovely captured this so well when she wrote: "And that question, the question I can't quit about the hate I can't quit is the one I have been trying to answer ever since (P.24)."

My friends, I don't know about you. But I think it can be so easy for us to get wrapped up in our own hate; our own insecurities; our own feeling like we are not enough. Yet God may and does call us out of our own brokenness to be world-changers. I think of the ways that I have been able to share my families struggles with a mental illness. And in sharing our story, I have connected with others and been able to grant them peace in knowing they are not on this journey alone. The truth is that God does indeed use God's children with their scars, wounds, and brokenness to share God's love and grace to be world-changers.

I'll admit that in our every day lives, being a world-changer is not an easy task. But God uses all of us--with our own brokenness--sometimes with our visible scars--sometimes with our open and bleeding wounds--to be world-changers. So my friends, how might God or has God used you to be a world-changer? You never know how God might use you like God used Mary, Elijah, Hannah or the many other broken disciples of Christ to change this world!

I am linking up with my favorite lovely ladies--Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Out of the Wilderness

Life is not all a bed of roses, is it? I came across a post from a fellow blogger where she felt like she was sharing too much about her wilderness experience. I want her to know that life is not full of a bed of roses. No one is perfect and life happens. I would much rather read about someone's wilderness experience in the very midst of their own wilderness experiences. It reminds me that we are not on this journey alone. In fact, wilderness experiences are a necessity of life. "Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit."--Edward Abbey

Paul wrote in jail. David wrote in the midst of his own trials and tribulations. Abraham and Sarah tried to cling to their faith even when they still weren't parents. But then out of the wilderness, each of these individuals found themselves. Abraham and Sarah were granted a child. Paul continued to share the message of Jesus Christ. David even defeated the giant of a man Goliath.

Being in the wilderness can be such a scary place especially when you do not know the terrain and are unfamiliar with the land in front of you. You have to put one foot in front of the other and trust that God is with you. Now I know that is so much easier said than done especially when we are barely clinging to the rocks and such that are in front of us. But then I am reminded of how Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness himself. Jesus knows our own wilderness wanderings and promises that he will continually walk with us. Jesus understands what it means to be standing in the wilderness wondering which direction to go.

Eventually though, we are led straight out of the wilderness into the light. Sometimes that light can be but only a glimmer. Other times that light can practically blind us. But what I have to come realize is that God leads us out of the wilderness into the light of day that grants us hope in the midst of our own clinging to faith in the wilderness.

I am linking up with Anita and Inspire Me Monday today! 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Blessings 122

(1) A call from my momma

(2) Talking to Uncle T on the phone

(3) Visiting with the Curves ladies

(4) LCM soup Tuesday--visiting with some of the students

(5) Picking up goodies from a member to take to soup Tuesday.

(6) Spring rain

(7) Both of the books I ordered have shipped.

(8) A great Confirmation class about Baptism

(9) Someone asking me if I'm losing weight.

(10) Hugs from RT and CT

(11) A check in the mail

(12) Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki.

(13) Bible study at one of the local nursing homes.

(14) Voxing with MG

(15) MH helping me out and taking FLC kids to Camp Metigoshe this weekend.

(16) Lunch with a neighbor friend and her family who I haven't seen in ten years.

(17) Playing with Max and Cadence

(18) Max calling me "his friend!"

(19) Smores and more gala

(20) Hanging out with my friend EG

(21) Getting an upgrade to a jacuzzi tub suite at the hotel. Thanks Janis and Camp of the Cross.

(22) Hearing Ruben Duran and Keith Zeh at synod event.

(23) Being told that you're missed in the synod you left to come to this synod. Makes me feel loved!!

(24) A 70 degree day

(25) Smoked Butterscotch Frappucino

(26) Looking for Lovely in my mailbox

(27) Playing a board game with some of our youth.

(28) Family SS Friendsgiving

(29) Finishing Love Does

(30) All of you--my dear friends and family

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Making A Whole Harmony Together

Thursday night is totally my jam! It's the night my Five Minute Friday crew gathers on Twitter. We chat about life and whatever is going on. Tonight it was all about the Idol Finale and some of our favorite bloggers/writers Jennifer Dukes Lee, Emily P. Freeman and Annie F Downs to name a few. We chat until our fearless host Kate shares the prompt for the week. I love these people so much because they are indeed that "my people." Love you all! 

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 "whole,"

I write the songs that make the whole world sing
I write the songs of love and special things
I write the songs that make the young girls cry
I write the songs, I write the songs 
(I Write the Songs by Barry Manilow)

I have watched American Idol almost since the very beginning. I started tuning in during season two and have watched every season since. Tonight the curtain was closed as American Idol said goodbye for the very last time. The song lyrics from above remind me of the many stars that have come out of this show. American Idol has been the voice for this generation of musicians. I love how tonight's finale celebrated the whole of this show.

And as I think about all those voices who have shared on the show, I am thankful for the whole of community that God placed into my life as well. Without community, I wouldn't be blessed to share my story. I wouldn't be able to know that I am enough and to know that I am indeed loved...loved for the whole of who God created me to be. Earlier this week I shared a quote from Annie F. Down's new book "Looking for Lovely"--"Your people remind you of the goodness of God and remind you what it means to finish." YES!!!!

As I celebrate the music and community in my life, I cannot help but think of one of my fave Sunday School songs "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Are you singing it along with me friends? "He's got the tiny little baby in his hands. He's got you and me baby in his hands. He's got the whole world in his hands." God created the world and everyone in it. *I wish everyone truly understood the whole of these verses and treated everyone equally.

But sadly, I know that the world is full of hatred and unfairness and even racism. It breaks my heart that we cannot treat each other equally; to treat the whole of who we all are. We are all "fearfully and wonderfully made" called and claimed by God. God sent God's son into the world and Jesus wasn't afraid to turn the world upside down. Jesus broke bread with tax collectors and sinners. Why cannot we all be kind to one another? I strive each and every day to treat the whole of who God created each of us to be. For when we are able to do that...the whole world is able to sing together and make one gorgeous harmony! 

*Where my five minutes ended 


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Finding Lovely in My People

I am like a giddy child today!  Last year my one word for the year was "brave" and several of my blog friends introduced me to author Annie F. Downs and her book "Let's All Be Brave." I even wrote about how this book was wrecking my a good way. I immediately became a huge fan of this sweet author.

Today Annie's new book "Looking for Lovely" released. I applied to be on her launch team but unfortunately did not make the team so I am patiently waiting for the book I pre-ordered to arrive in my mailbox. As part of the pre-orders, Annie has been giving goodies to those who pre-order the book. So this afternoon, I signed onto my email account to see some of those goodies which included some phone lock screens. One of the quotes on the lock screens jumped out at me and now I am even more excited for my book to arrive.

The quote from the book is as follows "Your people remind you of the goodness of God and remind you what it means to finish." Yes, I find so much lovely in the awesome relationships that God has blessed me with over the course of my 37 years on this Earth. There are times I wonder how I got so lucky...but then I am reminded....only God! Only God can bless these relationships in my life. 

Growing up, I was blessed to have neighborhood friends that only lived a block away from my family. Between their family and my family, there were four girls all within the span of four years. We grew up together. And even now, we are separated by the miles, but I am so thankful for the time we shared together. I see lovely in the times we spent on their front porch playing Miss America and riding our bikes around the neighborhood. 

Besides these neighborhood friendships, my best friend growing up was my friend Mandy. Mandy was a few years older than me, but was held back due to a kidney transplant she had in 1st grade. Mandy had her difficulties. Yet despite her health issues, Mandy was a lovely individual. We loved spending time together. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. During my seminary days, I saw lovely when she would call me out of the blue to chat. Unfortunately Mandy passed away at a young age. I was so sad to say goodbye to her. But I am thankful that God brought her into my life.

But these are only a few of the friendships I have been blessed with over the years. There were my classmates who I did theater with in high school and college. I saw lovely in them when I lost my voice and they made sure I didn't speak until our state performance. There were those I got to meet and know by being a part of the campus ministry team at my college. I saw lovely in how we learned to embrace our denominational differences. There were those that I got to meet at Super Awesome Bible Camp. I saw lovely when they taught me that it was okay to share my family's journey with mental illness. I also saw lovely in the amazing kids I got to counsel. They taught me more about God then I could ever teach them. There are the dear souls I was blessed with during my seminary journey and who made me buy my own Birthday cake! And yes, I even saw lovely in them when they made me buy my own birthday cake. Years later, this is still one of my most favorite, lovely moments of seminary. There are the dear colleagues and friends I shared life with as we served together in the Fargo-Moorhead community. (I miss them dearly!) I can honestly say that these are some of my best friends! I saw lovely in how we shared in each other's joys and sorrows. 

Two years ago, when I moved to Minot, I was so scared about making new friends. God had provided for me and blessed me with amazing friendships. Would God do the same again? 

My friend Mel surprised me with flowers the day she found out I was moving.."just because we love you flowers" as she called them. I was scared about leaving her and so many of my friends behind. They had taught me so much about finding the lovely in each other. The first few months in Minot, I found myself lonely and yearning for new friendships.

I should have never doubted God, because God has blessed me one hundred fold in these days, weeks, and years following. I remember meeting my friend CT for the first time. We chatted over coffee for almost two hours and we only quit because she had to pick up her daughter. CT has become one of my best friends over these last two years. But God did not only provide me with CT, he provided me with KW and MJ  (who have both since moved away), with EG (a lovely woman who sat with me and my mom in the emergence room one hot summer day) and KG (another lovely soul who God has blessed my life with) and so many others. I wonder how I got to be so lucky, but the thing is these friendships are pure gift. These are indeed my people! 

And there are all of you who I have been blessed with as part of the blogging world. I cannot even begin to name you all by name, because I am bound to forget someone and I do not want to do that at all. You have read my words. You have shared your heart with me. You have allowed me to hear your story and you to hear mine. You are my writing sisters---my survivor sisterhood. You are all lovely!

To all of you, thank you for being my people! Thank You for continually showing me what the goodness of God looks like and teaching me what it means to finish because I have no doubt you are my biggest cheerleaders and will cheer me on until I cross that finish line. And know that I will do the same for you!

I am linking up with these lovely ladies today: Holly and Testimony Tuesday; Kelly and the RaRa linkup; Jennifer and Tell His Story; Holley and Coffee for your Heart; and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday!



Sunday, April 03, 2016

Sunday Blessings 121

(1) A much needed day off

(2) A beautiful walk outside

(3) An Easter card from a parishioner with gift cards to one of my fave places

(4) A great Confirmation class after six weeks off.

(5) CS giving me a ride to LCM board meeting.

(6) A fixed car

(7) Seeing baby Rhoda

(8) Baby snuggle time with Rhoda

(9) A drive with CT and hugs from her girls.

(10) Texting with my friend STM

(11) Voxing with TM, AH and MG

(12) Compliments on my sermon

(13) A nice PLN

(14) A great afternoon walk

(15) Country Fried Chicken from Blue Apron

(16) Hugs from one of my fave kiddos

(17) 60 plus degree weather on Sat

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Healing and Hope

I got to cuddle a four month old baby today.

Anyone that knows me knows that this is my most favorite thing in the world.

I took Little Miss R into my arms and a peace immediately came over me. We walked back and forth talking to one another. The room was full of people, but in my world, it could have easily been just the two of us. Her sweet fingers curling into mine, her beautiful baby scent encompassing me....I was in baby heaven.

Since I was little, I've been chasing the very "until" of being a mom. Yet at 37 years old, this dream; this "until" hasn't been met for me yet. It's something I pray for daily. And the more I pray, I wonder if God is calling me to foster or adoption or both.

Every time I get to cuddle a baby, my heart is content...a contentment that I honestly can't seem to find anywhere else in my life. So when I get to snuggle a baby, I wonder if God is affirming who God created me to be; a woman who deeply loves babies and has wanted to be a mom her entire life.

I continue to lift my prayers to God and trust in Gods call for me. I'm also very thankful for colleagues and friends who allow and have allowed me to have precious baby time with their babies.

For in those moments, when a sweet baby is snuggled into my arms, I find healing...........................

But more than anything I find hope!