Monday, May 30, 2016

Tunes of my Childhood, LuLaRoe, and A Dream Fulfilled (Or What I Learned This Month)

It is time for Emily P. Freeman's monthly linkup What I Learned This Month. I love this linkup because it reminds me to stop and reflect on the past month; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. May was an absolutely incredible month.

(1) Reminiscing and listening to songs from one of your fave childhood artists is incredible. As I sat listening to Garth Brooks, I was transported to all his songs I used to sing as a child and teenager. One of the best concerts I've ever been too. When he played "The Thunder Rolls" I was taken back to college and the video we made of this song for one of our broadcast journalism classes. 

(2) God has a way of affirming and nudging us the way God wants us to go. I attended my first foster and adoption informational meeting. It was a great night and I learned so much. Since that night, I have been feeling like I'm ready to take the next step. I think I'll start with respite care. 

(3) Summer is one of my fave times of the year. And as May comes to an end, I know that summer has arrived. A Starbucks cool lime refresher, my fave book and chillin on my doesn't get better than this! 

(4) I may not have kids of my own, but my church youth hold a special place in my heart. They each teach me so much. And I'm so proud of each of them. 

(5) I'm still obsessed with LuLaRoe! Yep, I cannot seem to be enough! Give me all the LLR! And now a friend is starting to sell so I don't think this obsession will end any time soon. Irmas, Classic Tees, Perfect Tees, Randys, Nicoles, Julias, and leggings that feel like butter! 

(6) Reading your friends book is incredible! Thankful for Renee's book "The Witness" that speaks to the power of resurrection and new life. My heart continues to hold the people of Haiti in my heart and prayers. Thankful to Renee and Jon for sharing their story with all of us. Thankful and blessed to call them my friends. 

(7) It never fails but every time I share my family's story of mental illness I cry. Tears are indicative of all my momma has taught me in the midst of her illness. 

(8) I am not broken! And neither are you, my single friends! 

(9) But most of all I learned that dreams really do come true. As a writer, I've always wanted to write my own book. And this month, I finally self-published my first book; a compilation of my Write 31 Days series from 2014 "Living as a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness." To be honest, I'm feeling every emotion. I don't know whether to cry or jump for joy. My hope and prayer is that this book will be a blessing and help stop the stigma around mental illness. You can find the link to purchase your copy here: Living as a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness

I cannot wait to see what June brings! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Blessings 129

(1) A sweet gift from one of my Confirmation kiddos.

(2) Blue Apron Soy Glazed Meatballs

(3) Some much needed rain

(4) The smell of fresh Spring rain

(5) A first draft of my sermon completed by Wednesday.

(6) My new Plunder design necklace. Love it!!

(7) JM tweeting me to let me know that CN was live showing us new LLR clothes! Yes!!!!

(8) An umbrella on a rainy day

(9) Friends who read your sermon and give great suggestions to make it better.

(10) Finishing my friend Renee's book "A Witness"

(11) Starbucks Strawberries and Cream Frappucino

(12) Guy from the landscape company coming to take a look at my yard.

(13) Clean bedding

(14) Graduation open houses. Proud of these youth.

(15) Brunch with church peeps and being treated to my meal.

(16) Sitting on my patio, reading, drinking my cool lime refresher and feeling the sun on my face.

(17) A Vox from MG

(18) Periscoping with my friend STM

(19) Mandy Hale's The Single Woman on Kindle for $2.99

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Where Everyone Knows Your Name!

My fingers were tapping like crazy tonight; jumping between the Five Minute Friday Twitter party and my Plunder Design party on Facebook. The FMF party is one of my favorite things in the world. This community of bloggers have become some of my dearest friends. You hold a piece of my heart and always will. We would love to have you join us for the five minute Friday free write. 

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 "cheer."

When I first read Kate's word prompt, I kept wanting to put an "s" on the end of her word making it cheers rather than just cheer. Does anyone else remember the tv show "Cheers?" I grew up watching that show. There was Norm, Sam, Cliff, Diane, Woody and others. They gathered at the bar Cheers "where everyone knows your name,"

That is what I loved about the show. It was a community where people gathered together because "everyone knew their name," I love places where people know my name too.  The FMF community has become that for me. We have prayed with and for Andrew. We have rejoiced with  Tammy and the baptism of her girls. We have cried with each other. We have laughed with each other--even if it has just been on the interwebs.

These people and this place bring cheer into my life. I am so very thankful for the people and places that know my name and who know your name too. But ultimately it is God who knows us by name. God calls and claims us in the waters of baptism naming each of us "children of God." "You are a baptized child of God, whatever else you are; remember that you are that for that is the basis of whatever else you are!"

I lift my glass and give thanks for all the cheer and blessings that God brings into our lives. So cheers to everyone who knows us by name. Cheers for those who have fought for our freedom. Cheers for stories that remind us of the power of the resurrection and new life. Cheers to God's love and grace in our lives. Cheers for each and every one of YOU!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Learning Who I Am

Last Thursday, I opened my mailbox to find a proof copy of my book. (You can read that post here: When You Hold A Proof Copy In Your Hands). In a moment of pure excitement, I took a picture and pasted it to my Facebook wall. Little did I know how many of my friends and family would react immediately to that picture. It was so overwhelming!! At last count, 293 likes, loves or wows; 77 comments and 3 shares. I am not posting those #s to "toot my own horn" but rather to share with you the power in God's overwhelming amazing grace.

Have you ever realized how incredible it is to have people cheering you on; to have others who see your gifts and point them out to you; to be showered with the same overwhelming grace and love of God? The other day, a friend posted a quote from Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber; pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. The quote read "If you see something in someone and you suspect they don't see it, it is your duty to tell them. That is speaking the truth in love."

Speaking the truth in love is something we aren't always good at, is it? Yet God calls us to do just that. God calls us to surround each other and shower each other with God's love in the midst of our joys and sorrows. God calls us to continually speak the truth in love to one another. Speaking the truth in love is telling that high school senior the gifts you see in him or her. Speaking the truth in love is telling that new mom who needs to hear it that she is doing an awesome job with her new child. Speaking the truth in love is telling someone that it absolutely takes more guts to stick with it. Speaking the truth in love is identifying and sharing with your friends and family the amazing gifts you see in them.

Seminary was not an easy journey for me. In fact, there were more days than I care to admit that I came home to my dorm room, collapsed onto my couch; completely defeated. And other days, when the tears simply wouldn't stop flowing. Was I really being called to this time and place? Were there really these gifts in me? And then one day it all changed when my seminary advisor spoke the truth in love to me. It changed when my professors saw my gifts and used them to help me pass my classes. It changed when my friends opened my eyes, ears, and even heart to the depth of the amazing gifts God has given me.

One of those gifts has always been writing. When I was little, my mom often said I was happy with a pen and paper and not toys. I wanted to create my own characters and plot lines. Yet it took me a long time to fully see that gift in myself. I may have graduated with a Communications degree and English minor. I may have always loved writing poetry. But it wasn't until someone turned and reflected my words; my gifts back to me that I truly saw those gifts in myself.

In the waters of Baptism, I was called and claimed as a precious child of God. And as those waters cascaded over my head, I was named "Tara Lee, child of God, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, compassionate one, sweet child of mine, writer." When I remember these gifts, I am reminded who and whose I am. I am reminded that with each droplet of water poured on my head, as a beloved child of God, God has indeed called and claimed me as a writer; one who pours out her heart and soul through words; words that first began when God sent Jesus into the world for each and every one of us. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."--John 1:1

And when I am fully able to trust in that promise; knowing who and whose I am, I can fully declare that I am "Tara Lee, child of God, sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, compassionate one, sweet child of God, writer."

I am linking up with 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, May 22, 2016

Sunday Blessings 128

(1) ND Asia leftovers

(2) EG and BG visiting me in my office. EG loved my dancing flower.

(3) Talking to Gma and Gpa on the phone.

(4) A Vox from TM

(5) Running into JH at the grocery store.

(6) The Hope*Writers Summit (Loving the videos)

(7) Getting to hold two babies!!!!

(8) Our End of the Year Celebration

(9) A Vox from MG

(10) Getting to hold baby Rhoda.

(11) A great colleague luncheon

(12) Holding a proof copy of my book in my hand. So surreal and a tad overwhelmed by everyone cheerleading for me.

(13) A congrats text from my friend EG

(14) Treating myself to a new piece of jewelry.

(15) A message from a member at my previous call and finding out we have a FB friend in common.

(16) My friend creating a new hashtag for me #LutheranCreative

(17) Texting with my dear friend MW

(18) Cinnamon Gummy Bears

(19) Reading on my patio on a gorgeous day with my fave Starbucks Refresher.

(20) A congrats text from my friend STM

(21) Brunch with church peeps

(22) A PLN

(23) Dairy Queen Cookie Dough Blizzard

(24) Running into MS and JS this morning at brunch.

(25) YOU!!!

The Church and Mental Illness

“There are so many board and care facilities in the shadows of our steeples and we don’t even know they are there.” These very words jumped off the page at me as I researched my final paper for my Loss and Grief class during seminary. How often do these words ring true for the church? How can the church be better about reaching out to those who daily struggle with one of the many mental health issues in our world?

I'm over at Anita's sharing about a topic near and dear to my heart. Join me Here!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Unexpected Expectations

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 "expect."

I never expected that seminary would be a part of my journey. But that is exactly where God sent me. That part of my story is something that I never expected and yet it changed me in so many ways.

This past Sunday was graduation at Wartburg Theological Seminary.One of my FB friends shared a picture of the castle and her feelings as she left that place. I shared that it was not what I expected either but it is a place that holds a special place in my heart and always will. I never expected to make some of the most amazing friends. I never expected to have professors and friends who would be my biggest cheerleaders. It was not what I expected, but it was what God had in store for me.

To this day, I look back and thank God for my seminary journey. It is something that I never would have expected, yet it is a part of my story that is a huge part of who I am. It also is the place where I grew as a woman of faith. It is the place that helped me realize I could do anything in this world...including living out my own dreams.

Today I opened my mailbox to find a proof copy of my 2014 Write 31 Days series now in book form. I never expected that overwhelming amount of love I would get for this book. I never expected the mixed emotions I would feel. It was so surreal. I didn't know whether to jump for joy or let the tears flow. And let's be honest, anyone who knows me knows what I wanted to do.

*I held that book in my hands. I ran my fingers over the cover. I held my book in the palm of my hands. All of a sudden an expected dream was realized. I may never psychically hold a baby in my own belly. But as a pregnant mother awaits and expects the birth of her child, I too waited and expected a dream to come true...and that it did. 

I don't know what to expect next, but I am so thankful that I am not on this journey alone. Most of all, I am thankful that I can expect God to always journey with me.

*This is where my five minutes ended 

When You Hold A Proof Copy In Your Hands....

I pulled the cardboard folder out of my mailbox. I immediately tore into that folder and removed a copy of my book...yes, I said a copy of my book. In October of 2014, I participated in my first ever Write 31 Days challenge. My series was titled "Being a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness." After much prayer, I decided to make this series into a book. There are so many who need to hear and learn about mental illness and mental health.

So today I found myself holding a proof copy of that book.
My fingers ran over the smooth cover of my book....
My fingers paged through and glanced at every page...
My eyes looked and saw my name on the cover.

Then I grabbed my phone and took a picture. I first posted it to Facebook and then a few minutes later posted it to my Instagram account. And within moments, I was feeling overwhelmed; overwhelmed at the number of people who were joining with me in celebration of this book. I honestly didn't know whether to laugh, or jump for joy or cry. (Let's be honest here, friends...what do you think I did?)

Before Christmas, I felt the nudge from God to write a book. This book I hold in my hand is NOT that book, but is a book I feel others do need to read. The other book "Chasing our Untils" is still in the works. But this book...this book...that I hold today in my hands is a gift...a gift that I hope will bless so many. It is my prayer that by telling my families story, I will help to educate and break the stigma around mental illness.

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. My mom said I was one of those kids who was happy with pen and paper rather than a toy. To be honest, I may never be a best-selling author, but that is totally ok with me. Because this isn't about me. It is about sharing the story of mental illness and bringing about mental health awareness in this world. It is about a God who never leaves us or forsakes us. It is about a God who loves each and every one of us unconditionally and has created us each as unique beings "fearfully and wonderfully made." It is about a God who loved us so much that God sent God's one and only Son into the world for each and everyone of us. It is about a God who sees our dreams come true!

And today, I especially see that before my I hold a proof copy of my own book in my own hands!

I am linking up with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer at Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday!


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Blessings 127

(1) A member giving me a heavy winter coat of hers.

(2) A call from a publishing company

(3) Leftover pizza sent home with me.

(4) Compliments on my outfit. Of course, I was wearing all LuLaRoe!!

(5) A text from my friend EG

(6) Supper with EG.

(7) Leftovers sent home with me.

(8) Texting with STM

(9) Several college graduation open houses.

(10) Tackling Mt. Laundry

(11) Flowers to brighten my table. So pretty!!

(12) Mint Chocolate frapp from Caribou.

(13) Awesome Senior Sunday at church

(14) Chatting with a friend online.

(15) Planting our church community garden.

(16) My new water bottle with diffuser. I love it. Today's fruit of choice is strawberries.
(17) Supper with KG and Little Miss

(18) Choir concert with KG and Little Miss

(19) Watermelon

(20) YOU!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Baby Calves, Fresh Tomatoes and Growing Up

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 "grow."

The wheat stalks blowing in the prairie wind....
The sunflowers bright yellow, turning towards the sun....
Potatoes sprouting out of the ground...

These images are engrained in my mind as the seeds that my Dad, Uncle, Aunt, and Grandpa plant during this time of the year begin to grow later in the summer months. I'm also reminded of the baby calves that are born during this season too! Feeding a baby calf a bottle helps that calf to grow.

Besides the fields and baby calves, I love to watch the items that are planted in our gardens. The fresh produce that soon is set upon our table. I cut into the red juicy tomato; sprinkle it with salt and enjoy this luscious tomato. Sometimes the best BLTs are made from those tomatoes too. There is nothing I like more than a luscious red tomato grown and picked fresh.

Life is all about growth. Have you ever thought about how much you have grown over your lifetime? I look at my baby pictures, my high school pictures, my camp pictures, my seminary pictures and now my pictures from today. It's obvious that I have changed in looks, but I also have grown and changed in so many other ways. I'm reminded of how sometimes it takes more guts to stick with it. I think of all the people who share with me how they have seen me grow and mature over the years. It truly is a gift; a gift to know that as we grow God journeys with us.

This gift that begins at birth and journeys with us throughout our lives. As a lover of infants, I love watching babies and children grow. One of my most favorite things in the world is to hold an infant in my arms. (Katie, I so wanted to hold your precious infant when you scoped with us and introduced her to us today) I am reminded of how one of the families my sister and I used to babysit for and how they are now getting married and having babies themselves. They have grown up. I am so proud of the men and women they have become.

Growth is a precious season of life. It is a season that reminds us that growth is a natural part of life. Tonight I was watching an old episode of How I Met Your Mother when Lilly said to Marshall "We need to grow up!" The truth is we all need to grow up. But sometimes, I believe, its  ok to relive our childhood as long as we remember to grow up.

Saying Goodbye to Nashville

Another installment in the Nashville series. For those of you who are new to this blog, I had been recapping the sister's trip that my sister Andrea and I took last summer. But somehow I omitted the last day. It was a blast. Hopefully these little nuggets will give you a little glimpse into how awesome this trip was--memories to last a lifetime!

That Saturday morning, Ann and I got up and dressed for the day. We made sure all of our bags were packed and called for our Lyft driver. We waited by the door until our driver arrived. Once he arrived, we loaded everything up into his vehicle. We chatted with our driver as he drove along the road. Before we knew it,we were at the airport. 

Ann and I thanked our driver and then unloaded our luggage. We found our place in the security line. For some reason, Ann and I ended up in the preapproved line which we were not. So we had to go back to the end of the line and get back in line. Luckily our line moved quickly. We took off our shoes and unloaded our carry on items into the bins to be scanned by security. Ann and I both walked through the security checkpoints. 

After getting through security, Ann and I put our shoes back on and grabbed our items. We walked our way to our gate. As we were walking to our gate, we came across a Jack Daniels statue. We both took a few photos to show our Dad. Ann and I finally sat down and waited for the time for our flight to arrive. Before we knew it, it was time for our flight to take off.

Ann and I found our seats. We sat "Nash"; the Hard Rock Cafe bear that we bought for Mom between us. Nash drank some apple juice and enjoyed a snack with us. Nash even took a nap with us. Before we knew it, our flight was descending into Minneapolis. We got off the plane and walked to our new gate. While waiting at the gate, we ran into members from the church I serve. They were returning from visiting their daughter in Europe. We visited with them about our trip and they shared with us about their trip too. 

We soon were on the plane ready to head home. After a short trip, we were back in Minot. Ann and I waited for my friend EG to come and pick us up. Once EG arrived, we loaded up our luggage in her car and headed to my house. We unloaded the luggage into my house. 

The next morning, Ann and I headed to Walmart as Ann wanted to get her pictures developed immediately. While the pictures were being developed, Ann and I ate at Dennys. As we were eating, Ann and I reminisced about our sister's trip. It truly was such a blast. Over the course of the week, we had walked 52,590 steps! 

For a glimpse into our week in Nashville, here is the Shutterfly photo book I made for my sister and I to remember our trip. Enjoy! Nashville Trip--Summer 2015

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Not Broken!

I am broken!

Well at least, society sometimes makes me feel like that especially on days like this past Sunday; Mother's Day.

Why is it that the world so often thinks that motherhood and womanhood are synonymous? One can be a woman without being a mother. But so often they are tied together. I think of the many times my single friends and I have been asked if we are going to be "spinsters" all of our lives. The truth is that not everyone is called to be a wife or a mom.

For me, I honestly can still be a woman of God without the call to motherhood. Yet my entire life, I have felt the call to motherhood. It is a deep deep desire of my heart. Honestly, there is nothing that I want more. And it is not because most of the world has tied motherhood and womanhood together. But because it IS a God-given call from God to me!

I cannot even begin to tell you the number of tears I have cried (and will cry) throughout my 37 years on this earth because this desire has not been fulfilled for me yet. I understand that there are other types of moms out there: the friend who cares for her friend's children like they are her own nieces and nephews; the foster and adoptive moms, the mentors, the teachers and so many others. Perhaps God is calling me and YOU to be a mother in a variety of different ways.

The truth is that "mothering" is more often a verb rather than a noun. Mothers are called to wipe tears away. Mothers are called to fix "boo-boos." Mothers are called to listen to their children as they utter the cries and prayers of their own hearts. Mothers are called to embrace those she loves in her arms. Mothers are called to put her children and her family first. Mothers are called to simply be who God created them to be. Sometimes that call truly is to be a mother while other times the call to motherhood is to make the best choices for their child by giving him/her up for adoption.

It saddens me that society has so often tied motherhood and womanhood together. They don't need to be mutually exclusive. I do understand though that for myself and so many others, motherhood is a desire of our heart and a God-given call from God. Yet I will never understand why dear friends had to lay their daughter in Jesus' care after she was born months early and lived on this Earth for only 90 minutes. I will never understand why my cousin has had to lay two children to rest either. I will never understand why some children are never born to their mothers. But what I do know is that each of these mothers were called by God to be moms.

Yes, a God-given call from God that is not given to everyone but a call that God carefully selects and chooses how and who it will be given to. Sometimes that might be by adopting or fostering a child. Sometimes that might be through a birth mother choosing a better life for her child. Sometimes it might be a call to be a mom for a little while. And even in those moments, I know that God is walking with each and every one of us who feels the call to "mother."

So know this, my friends, if you are called to be a mom or not, you are not broken.
You are completely 100% whole even when it feels like you are not. Each of us has been given different gifts by God and I want you to know that you are not alone. Mothers or not, we are in this together!

We are not broken!

I'm 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, May 08, 2016

Sunday Blessings 126

(1) A fun mail day--my new shoes from Arktana, my friend Renee's book and my latest LuLaRoe item.

(2) A call from my mommy

(3) Attending an informational meeting on foster care and adoption.

(4) Hanging out with the LCM young adults

(5) Playing on the hammock with Little Miss M.

(6) Cool Lime Refresher on a hot day

(7) Stopping at DLC for a little while and seeing some awesome DLC peeps.

(8) Stopping by the synod office to say hello. Sad that I missed you LW and LN.

(9) Chillin' at West Acres waiting for my sissy.

(10) GARTH BROOKS concert

(11) Meeting up with PM this morning.

(12) Lunch with PB

(13) Coffee and catching up with the bestie and getting my bday and Christmas gifts!

(14) Mothers and Others Tea at church

(15) Lots of hugs after my talk at the Mothers and Others Tea at church.

(16) Catching up on my DVRed shows from this week.

(17) A great Confirmation service.

(18) A mini Camp of the Cross reunion. Loved seeing you HD, NW and JW!!!

(19) A nice visit with FLC members--great conversation.

(20) The Butterfly Circus movie

(21) A sweet Compliment on my Diaconal cross Necklace.

(22) A sweet plate of goodies and a card left in my office.

(23) Staying at a friends house earlier this week. Thanks CG and JG!!

(24) A fantastic PLN!!!

(25) My momma!!!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Let's Not Miss Out!

I missed the FMF party last night since I was jamming out to Garth Brooks with my sister. I missed you all,but the best concert I've seen EVER! If you don't know about the Twitter party, we gather on Thursday nights and wait for our gracious host to give us the word. Then we write for five minutes unedited. It's such a great practice in free writing! We would love to have you join us! 

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 "miss."

My sister and I were at a Garth Brooks concert last night. One of my all time fave Garth songs is "The Dance." The lyrics in the chorus even include our prompt word for this week, "Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain. But I'd of had to miss the dance."Life is like that isn't. There are so many things we could miss if we don't take the opportunity to do them or even notice them. 

If I didn't go to the concert, I would have missed spending time with my sister. I would have missed the best concert I've ever seen. I would have missed spending time with many friends who I miss. In those 24 hours or so, I spent time with so many that I love and miss. I had lunch with my friend PB today. I had coffee and caught up with my bestie today. She even gave me my birthday and Christmas presents. We have missed getting together. I spent time visiting with my colleague. I even tried seeing a few other friends. My friend Mel missed my text so we missed each other! We were both bummed! 

Life is full of hits and misses but I would much rather spend time remembering the blessings in my life; the people and places that I miss because they have put a permanent mark on my heart and mind. The places and people that have shaped me into the woman of faith that I am today. 

There are sad misses too. This weekend, I also remember those that I miss as they have left this Earth. I think of my Grandma Bess and Grandpa Sam. I think of my favorite high school English teacher. I think of my friend Chewy. Even though I miss them, I am reminded of the promises found in the book of Romans "If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. And so then whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords."

Let's not miss out on the dance of life, friends! 

Garth singing to a woman with cancer 
at a concert in Minneapolis in 2014.
 He's a class act! 

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

It'll Be Totally Worth It!

I took a giant step tonight.

I attended an informational meeting on foster care and adoption tonight. It's one of the scariest things I've done in a long time. I walked into a room full of strangers. I stand up front every week during worship and have no problem. But tonight I felt like I was a little fish in a big pond. I sat down at a table by myself. Shortly thereafter, a lady asked if she could join me. Next thing I knew there were two couples sitting to my right and my left.

A lot of information was given to us and my mind is full. After awhile, a foster parent panel got up to speak and answer our questions. One of them was a single dad. I asked him to speak about being a single parent. And immediately, as I began asking the question, the tears began streaming down my face. (Anyone who knows me well knows that's no surprise). I so appreciated his honesty.

Afterwards, the single dad was on his phone when I walked by. I mouthed the words "Thank You!" He mouthed back "It's totally worth it!" Of all the words that I heard tonight, those are the words that are sticking with me. Those are the words that are replaying in my head and my heart.

Foster and/or adoption have been something that I've been praying about for awhile now. And lately, I've felt more and more like God has been tapping me on my shoulder saying "Go for it! I'll be with you every step of the way!" And as I hear those words, I feel like God is calling me to be brave in a new way. I think I'm ready to take that next step; starting first with respite care.

This brave step all began with my friend STM saying to me a few years ago "Have you ever thought about foster care or adoption? There is such a need and I think you'd be great at it!" That conversation started a spark. Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a mom. And at almost 38 years old, my biological clock is indeed ticking. But what if God has been calling me to be a mom through foster care or adoption.

I'm not sure exactly where this journey may or may not take me. But what I do know is that God will be with me every step of the way.

And in the end, I have no doubt, it will be totally worth it!!

Im linking up with 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, May 02, 2016

Seven Things April Taught Me

It is time for Emily P. Freeman's monthly linkup What I Learned This Month. I love this linkup because it reminds me to stop and reflect on the past month; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. April was a busy month.

Here are 7 things I learned in April:

1. Ten years doesn't seem possible, but that is exactly what April brought. April 23rd was my 10th anniversary as a Diaconal Minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Ten years was also the last time I saw my friend HL. We grew up together. It may have been ten years since we last saw each other, but it was like no time had passed at all. It was so good to eat lunch, meet her family and catch up on life.

2. One is never too old to keep learning. I decided to buy Crystal Stine's Creative Basics course even though I took the free course last Spring. I love learning more and more about how to make awesome social media graphics.

3. It is good to look for the lovely among us at all times. There is lovely all around us. After reading Annie F. Down's latest book, I even ventured to try something different: sushi. It was a veggie sushi but I tried something new and different. April is full of all sorts of lovely: reading on my patio, sun beating down, flowers blooming, and so much more.

Oh and pretty sure that Annie F. Downs and I could be best friends!

4. My smile is captivating! :) While at country artist Canaan Smith's concert, one of Canaan's guitar players caught my eye. I smiled at him and sung along to the song. Next thing I knew the guitar player was throwing his guitar pick at me. It went over my head and under the seat behind me. But the young woman behind me was kind enough to give it to me.

5. A girl's night out is sometimes just what the doctor ordered! My aunt and a friend were in town for an ambulance conference. We ended up going to a hibachi grill for supper, cruising around the mall, coffee at Starbucks and then capped off the night with a 3-D viewing of the Jungle Book. So much fun!!!

6. I think I might be a tad obsessed with LuLaRoe clothing! The Julia, the Azure, leggings, maxi dresses and so much more. The only pieces I haven't tried are the Sarah sweater, the Lindsay sweater, the Ana dress and the Nicole dress. (I almost embarrassed to say that!) The clothes are so fashionable and best of all they are so stylish and fashion forward. My latest favorite combo is my rhino leggings and my matching colors Irma! :)

7. Showing up for one of my fave little girl's dance recitals totally made her day and MINE! She was so worried that her parents were going to forget about me which of course, they didn't. I had supper with them and enjoyed her  dance show. So much fun. And the added bonus...was getting to see other church kids perform too.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sunday Blessings 125

(1) Voxing with VF and a sweet message from her youngest daughter.

(2) A Vox from Marie. Thanks for the awesome feedback friend.

(3) A Vox from KA

(4) A great care conference call about Mom.

(5) Looking for Lovely online party

(6) A total fan-girl moment: A Downs replying to one of my tweets to her.

(7) Bought my first pair of Arktana shoes today! So excited to get them.

(8) FMF Twitter party

(9) Finally getting a shirt I ordered awhile ago. She had sent me the wrong one.

(10) Fresh bedding

(11) Sitting outside and reading my book

(12) Yummy Elk sausage from a parishioner

(13) Getting to see baby E before him and his family move to Germany this week.

(14) CG's Confirmation Open House

(15) A nice afternoon PLN

(16) A gorgeous Spring day

(17) Awesome Confirmation banquet