Thursday, September 29, 2016

Love Collected Over Time and Space

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 "collect" We would love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there. 

150 different stories, full of vulnerability, grace and love, collected over time. 

150 lives connected on the Internet and now intertwined through a writing community found online. 
And now 150 writers posts collected into one single book "A Five Minute Friday" book.

I cannot wait to hold mine in my hands and glance at the different names that are now friends and engrained into my heart and soul. 

A collection of words
A collection of lives
A collection of five minute Friday free writes.

A collection weaved together through words collected over time and space.

A collection that tells the story of how God connects us together.

I don't know about you, but my life is so much richer because of the friends I have collected over the years. At seminary. At camp, Through social media. Places that challenge and bless me. Places that teach me what it means to collect love in this world. "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 

A love that continues to collect in this broken world and breaks in to try and shatter the violence.

A love that teaches us to cry out to God "How long O Lord" in this broken world.

A love that pulls together all the pieces of brokenness and pieces them back together again.

A love that embodies what it means to be connected as beloved children of God.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Mentally Ill and Alfred Olango

My friends, what is happening in our world? I continually find myself uttering the words "How long, O Lord?" And now another death....Alfred Olango...a mentally ill black man shot in California. No one deserves to die because of the color of their skin or who they are in this world. We are all beloved children of God.

Yet, my heart is breaking even more this morning. As a daughter of a woman who has lived most of my life with a mental illness, I am angry...angry that Alfred's sister called for help and instead of getting help her brother was shot and later died. I am angry....that this is just another example of how easily people jump to conclusions when it comes to the mentally ill. I am angry....that we still have a long way to go in educating about mental health issues.

I am not writing this post to issue blame, but because I believe these words need to be shared and mental health needs to continue to be talked about. I am writing this post because my heart is breaking. What if I had called for help for my mom? I am not Alfred Olango's sister, but I could very well be. I am a daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. It is a part of my family's story and always will be.

In December 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, I wrote my heart out about being a daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness. Then, in June 2014, I wrote about another shooting near Portland Oregon and once again about being a daughter. In each of these instances, the common denominator seems to be "mental illness."

I don't have any of the answers, friends. But I think we need to remember the importance of talking about mental health. Alfred Olango deserved treatment. He didn't deserve to die. Yet here we are talking about his death. My heart breaks for his family especially for his sister who did the right thing and called for help.

My heart breaks, as I continue to cry out to our God, "How long, Oh Lord?"

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, September 25, 2016

Sunday Blessings 146

(1) A Vox from KA

(2) A text from my friend saying I was in her Living Lutheran magazine.

(3) A Vox from TM

(4) Supper and a great night of conversation with EG and GG

(5) A hug

(6) The gift of my dear Twitter peeps

(7) Return of my Blue Apron boxes

(8) My sissy buying me a present while at the BS concert in Fargo. Thanks sis!

(9) Third Grade Bible Blessing

(10) Return of my shows

(11) Texting with MW

(12) Texting with STM

(13) A PLN!!!

(14) Leftovers sent home with me. Thanks EG!

(15) The return of Fall

Sunday Blessings will be taking a hiatus during the month of October while I participate in the Write 31 Days challenge. I'll keep a months long list on my phone and post in November!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Five Minutes or Less

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 "five." We would love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there. 

"Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes, moments so dear. How do you measure, measure a year? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife? Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes, moments so dear. How do you measure, measure a year?  How about love? Measure in love, seasons of love, seasons of love."

These words were the first words that popped into my mind the minute I heard the prompt. Rent is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is one of those movies that makes me think but also makes me feel good in the end.  And who doesn't love a good musical they can sing along too? {And don't get me started....I just heard the Hamilton soundtrack. Already hooked) 

I love the simplicity of these lyrics. How do you measure a sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee? YES! I don't know about you but I have been thinking a lot about how we honor, respect and show love to one another. Perhaps it's in buying coffee for friends or sitting and holding a friend while tears stream down his/her face. Or maybe it's simply over the interwebs...sending a tweet or IM that reminds them how incredibly loved they are.

The reality is that it takes five minutes or less to make a difference in someone's day. The other day I tweeted several friends a quick tweet that just said I was thinking of them and reminding them that they are loved. It literally took me less than a few minutes to write the note and send it out. 

How can you make a difference in a friend or family members day today in less than five minutes? I'd love to hear your ideas!

I almost forgot to post some exciting news!  The Five Minute Friday community put together a book and the book is out on Monday!  I’m honored to be one of the contributors to this book. The book releases September 26th! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What's My Groove Writing Playlist

I may have had a little too much fun putting together this "What's Your Groove" playlist?

When I am writing, I usually listen to whatever is on the radio.....and usually that means that my Pandora station is set to my fave Jars of Clay station. But honestly, I love me anything I can listen to and soak in while I am writing. Or dance music...because sometimes you just need to get up and dance for a minute.

My playlist is pretty eclectic. I love what my friend Christina said over at her blog, "You are a beautiful mix tape of amazing lyrics, rhythms, and melodies, unique like your writing voice." You will find songs from musical soundtracks (I love musicals) to country to pop to oldies to Christian and everything in between. So here is my "What's Your Groove playlist! Enjoy friends!!

I am linking up with Christina and the special Whats Your Groove linkup 
inspired by my friends at Five Minute Friday. Also linking up with 
Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.


We Can Do Better!

I grew up on Lutheran hotdishes and liturgically coordinated Jello.
I grew up on Christmas pageants and Christmas eve candlelight services.
I grew up on Sunday School, and Confirmation and Luther League.

And then, I decided to go to seminary.

At seminary, my view of how I saw Lutheran was reshaped. During my seminary days, there were several international students from Namibia, Ghana, Rwanda and so many other places. Of course, growing up in ND, I didn't have a ton of friends or acquaintances who were from another state; let alone another country. But when I went to seminary and moved away from ND, these dear seminary friends taught me so much about God's grace and about justice.

I remember sitting and breaking bread with Esther and her children. I loved trying the food from her country and learning her families stories. I also remember sitting around our lunch table and John sharing about being in Rwanda during the genocide. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to John speak. I wanted to protect him from all harm and keep him safe. As I sat and listened to these dear new friends, my heart was opened once again to the power of letting love win.

Then in 2009, our church voted to allow LGTBQ individuals to be ordained in this church (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). In my humble opinion, it was long overdue. I recall sitting on our porch, tears streaming down my sister's face as she asked "Why won't people accept him for who he is?" My sister was talking about her dear friend who is gay. There are still many who have a hard time accepting this reality.

The truth is that I love this church (the ELCA), but I also know that we can do better. While at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, I met some incredible leaders in this church; Jason, Tuhina, Priscilla and Megan to name a few. Each of them has helped open my eyes to how we need to be better about making this church more diverse and welcoming to all God's people. And it is because of their call for us to wake up that I think their #decolonizelutheranism movement is important in this day and age. (To learn more about this movement, check out their website here!)

It is important because not all of us grew up on Lutheran hot dish or attended Luther League. As Lutherans, we are simultaneously saint and sinners in need of God's grace. So it is important for us to acknowledge where we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is important because this world is diverse and needs to be celebrated in this world.

My friends, like I stated earlier, I love being a Lutheran. But I also believe and know that we can do better!

Monday, September 19, 2016

When Guilt Shows Up....

Guilt: a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something wrong. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Guilt is a tricky feeling, isn't it? I know there are things that I should feel guilty about and then there are other things I feel guilty about and really shouldn't at all. Anyone who frequents this space knows that I am the daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness. About a year ago, we started to also see signs of dementia. Mom had been doing really well, but then about a month ago or so, she started to cycle again. I often feel guilty about being mom's legal guardian and speaking our truth.

I love my mom more than anything, but it is so hard to know what I will get when I call her so the guilt often creeps in before I know it. Yesterday I finally mustered up the courage to call Mom. It had been several weeks since I had last spoken to her. The phone call was full of lots of tears. I was present with her, but also found myself fighting back the tears myself. I never thought that this was would be our story, but that is exactly what our story is.

Yet in the midst of my own guilt, God has had this amazing way of reminding me that I am never on this journey alone. I have people who will pray with and for me across the world. I have friends who I have, no doubt, would let me cry on their shoulders or even run away and show up on their doorstops. Some days, running away for some Sabbath and respite seems like the only answer.

It is almost ironic how my parents and others told me to never meet someone I have met on the world wide web. Yet those relationships and those meetups are some of the most amazing and blessed friendships in my life. In fact, it often blows my mind how many people God has connected me to through the world wide web. Just yesterday, I got a message from someone and within moments, we realized our stories were meant to be connected. And then there are the stories of people I have been connected to and later found out they or family members struggle with mental health issues as well. Each link is connected in so many and various ways.

I know that I can turn to these individuals; these friends especially when it feels like I am drowning in the guilt and fear of our journey. Last night, one of my dear friends tweeted to me "No judgement on reality. Reality just is." And another friend tweeted "No guilt. Share your truths." No guilt....I had to sit in those words for a few minutes. Because my friends are so wise and so right, yet it is so hard not to feel guilty especially when I know there are others who are struggling along with us and others who are struggling even more than we are.

But the reality, my reality, is that this journey is hellish and overwhelmingly spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausting. It is full of so much pain and guilt and heartbreak. Yet it is also full of love, and grace and hope! I am thankful for our God who sits with us in the muck and mire and promises never to leave us or forsake us.

Because it is in the knowing that I am not alone, that makes this journey, at least most days, bearable!

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

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Blessings 144 and 145

Two weeks worth....

(1) A fun note from my friend SA

(2) Lots of texts and messages asking if the picture in Living Lutheran is of me and indeed it is!

(3) Compliments on my new LuLaRoe Irma.

(4) Playing a fun game with KH, KL, AB and PD.

(5) #SlateSpeak and #FMFparty

(6) A postcard from Aunt N when she was on her Europe trip.

(7)Husker win!!!

(8) A gorgeous pink sky

(9) A great Rally Sunday

(10) A great day for a drive

(11) Baby time with Zane

(12) Visiting with dear friends

(13) Salt water taffy from Medora

(14) A sweet surprise from a friend

(15) Visiting with colleagues I don't know very well and getting to know them better.

(16) Finishing the 5K and not walking the whole thing. Finished 29 out of 45 and finished under an hour.

(17) A great nap

(18) Texting with JL

(19) A great first night of Confirmation

(20) My sissy buying me a cd

(21) The new Starbucks chile mocha

(22) An umbrella on a day when it's pouring rain!

(23) A nice visit with a random stranger at the mall.

(24) MSU Homecoming Parade

(25) Husker football

(26) Some fun finds at Dress Barn and a cute pair of boots at Herbergers

(27) A new MSU tshirt. Thanks KL!

(28) Liz Gilbert's book Big Magic

(29) Teaching the Bible to 3rd Graders and their families. I may have had way too much fun teaching!

(30) A fantastic PLN

(31) My Twitter peeps (You know who you are!)

(32) The new Archer Farms Apple Cinnamon Trail Mix

(33) Talking to mom

(34) God connecting me to incredible people and reminding me that I'm never alone. There are days that it can be so easy to forget that.

(35) Fall

Friday, September 16, 2016


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 "listen." We would love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there. And a little business before I begin today, thanks to all who entered my giveaway of Colleen Mitchell's book. Gayl Wright, you are the winner!! 

Listen--to pay attention to someone or something in order to hear what is being said, sung, played, etc; used to tell a person to listen to what you are saying; or to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true. 

I lay in bed last night listening to the rain go pitter patter against my window. As I listened, I found myself also trying to block out all the other noise around me. How hard is it to listen when so many other noises are competing for our competition? Yet it's so important for us to truly listen to one another.

It took me 18 years, 18 years to tell my families story of living with a mental illness. I am the daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness. Yet so often, I find that people don't listen to stories of mental illness. Many are quick to jump to rash decisions and rash conclusions. Yet it is important for us to listen to one another; to listen to each other' stories.

Next month is Mental Health Awareness month. This past week was Suicide Prevention week. These are important times for us to listen to those who daily struggle. The truth is that I do not truly know what it is like to live with one of these illnesses. So it is important for me to listen to my family who do daily struggle. 

It is important for us to listen and then to "speak the truth in love" to one another. I am reminded of how we hear the words "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." As beloved children of God, God calls us to open our ears to what is happening around us. It can be so easy to want to talk and jump in, but it seems to me that there is gift in truly listening to one another. 

So let's lean in close and listen

Friday, September 09, 2016

Healer of our Every Ill

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 "heal.". We would love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

"Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fears, and hope beyond our sorrow."

Tears streamed down my face yesterday as I sat with friends and colleagues at a prayer service in regards to Standing Rock and Dakota Access Pipeline. I understand why our Native American brothers and sisters are protecting our water and their sacred land. They have every right too. Yet I also can't help but think of our highway patrol and police officers especially since a friend is one of those very men called to protect. 

"Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fears, and hope beyond our sorrow."

My heart is weary as I've watched this all unfold. As a camp counselor, I got to participate in a day camp on this very reservation, I learned so much about the Native American culture that week. But even more, I felt an even deeper connection as we learned each other's stories and got to know one another. One of my favorite memories was sitting and singing songs together. 

"Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fears, and hope beyond our sorrow."

As a baptized child of God, claimed in the waters of Baptism, I believe we are called to "love each other as we love ourselves." Each day, we use water--to drink, for our showers, etc...a daily reminder that we are cleansed in those very waters of Baptism. 

*"Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fears, and hope beyond our sorrow."

A ruling is expected to come sometime today from the judge. And so I find myself, clinging to these words from the hymn Healer of Our Every Ill. 

"Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fears, and hope beyond our sorrow."

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Time for Us to Listen

There is a lot happening in the state of North Dakota near Cannonball and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Many Native Americans are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline as it compromises their water and disturbs sacred burial grounds.

As I have sat and listened and watched all of this unfold, I have come to have an even deeper respect for our Native brothers and sisters. Yet the truth is I have very little experience with the Native American culture.

Although the experience I have had has been beautiful. I remember being a camp counselor and holding a day camp on this very reservation. I remember one of the dads playing music for us. I also remember learning so much about their culture.They highly value their history and culture (I honestly think we can learn much from them!) But my experience, in no way, makes me an expert about their culture.

I also realize that in North Dakota, oil has given many families jobs. Yet I am not so sure that this is a long-term solution. Despite that though, despite where one falls on this issue, I truly believe it is time; long overdue time for us to truly listen to what is unfolding around us. As humanitarian Clay Jenkinson said earlier this week, the rest of the world is watching so "shut up and listen."

Yes! It is long overdue for us to listen to our Native brothers and sisters. Mr. Jenkinson also wrote, "The protests are no threat to non-Indians. We do not lose something if we listen respectfully. We do not lose something if the petroleum-industrial-government complex finds it possible to accommodate the requests of the Standing Rock nation."

This afternoon, a special hearing is being held in regards to #NoDAPL. I think today especially and in the days and weeks to come, it is essential for us to shut up and listen. You can read more of Mr. Jenkinson's blog post here: Standing Rock-A Time To Listen, Not Spout.

So as we sit and listen, may the answer be no more violence (I cannot get the images of the dogs attacking protestors out of my head. Simply wrong!). May God's peace ultimately prevail!

(I'm seriously sad that it took me this long to write this post!)

Monday, September 05, 2016

Brokenness and Resurrection Joy (A Review of Who Does He Say You Are)

I met my friend Colleen through blogging and the Write Days challenge. Her words have always spoken to my heart. So when she announced the release of her book, I knew I had to read it. The added bonus was that Colleen and I were in New Orleans at the same time so we finally got to meet in real life. I remember walking into the restaurant, her turning around to see me, and then embracing in a sweet hug. It was like we have always been friends!

Colleen's book "Who Does He Say You Are: Women Tranformed by Christ in the Gospels." Is pure gift! Colleen's words speak to the power of God and God's love for all of us especially the heart of women found in the Gospels which in return is a call given to all of us.

I found myself slowly reading and soaking in these words by my friend as they were indeed anointed by the Holy Spirit. I could have literally underlined and highlighted the whole book. Yet there is only one quote that I wrote down. It reads "Jesus doesn't deny the truth, but he shines the light on the whole truth, the whole big wide story of human brokenness." so much a part of each of our stories. Colleen wrote this book after losing her son Bryce. God chose her to write these words....and I truly believe that...after he saw her grieving. Colleen and her husband have a ministry in Costa Rica; a ministry that walks with pregnant woman in need of love and peace and grace. Colleen and her family sit with these women in their brokenness.

God sent Jesus into the world for each and every one of us. Jesus died on the cross. But three days later, Jesus rose from the grave. In the midst of both her pain and now resurrection joy, Colleen understands how we can be renewed and eventually find that joy and peace again. I am reminded of one of my fave verses Psalm 30:5 "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the

My life has been filled with brokenness as I have journeyed my families story of mental illness. Yes, there have been more days than I care to admit that I have wanted to fix this all. Yet this book reminded me that God sees us even in our pain and grief. I am reminded also of several of my friends who in the past months have lost their babies #AlexanderScott and Kaia Gene. I pray that these words from my friend who also lost her child will help heal their hearts.

So my friends, please check out this book and share with the women in your life. These words remind us all of who and whose we are; beloved women of God.

And because I believe in these words so much, I am giving away a copy of Colleen's book "Who Does He Say You Are?" (You can learn more about the book here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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



Sunday, September 04, 2016

Sunday Blessings 143; Birthday Edition

(1) The return of the Great Food Truck Race

(2) A fun early birthday gift

(3) A Vox from Marie

(4) Getting to meet and hold baby B. Best part of my Wednesday!!

(5) A new cut and color for Fall

(6) A text from my friend KG

(7) A fun Twitter thread with some awesome new friends that totally made me smile.

(8) Waiting for my friend at Panera and complimented on my LuLaRoe Madison skirt within minutes of arriving.

(9) #SlateSpeak

(10) Early Birthday lunch with KG

(11) Hanging out and early birthday fun with EG.

(12) A fun card from MW. Thanks for putting a smile on my face, friend.

(13) A Vox from T

(14) Birthday money from dad and grandma and grandpa.

(15) Birthday lunch with JL

(16) Our waitress wishing me Happy Birthday!!

(17) Sweet Birthday texts, Birthday tweets and birthday greetings on Facebook.

(18) A cool lime refresher and chocolate chunk muffin for a birthday treat.

(19) A birthday Vox from TM's girls

(20) Ice cream with KL, PD and KH

(21) Birthday fun with KL

(22) Church peeps singing Happy Birthday to me at church and at the restaurant.

(23) Cucumbers from DW and KW

(24) A beautiful PLN

(25) Watching one of my fave movies "Rent!"

(26) A cool day with some much needed rain

Friday, September 02, 2016

Hiking The Path

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 "path." Sometimes Thursdays get a little crazy and I dint make it to the Twitter party like last night. Sad I missed my people. We would love to have you join us. Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

The first time, I experienced a hard core hike was six summers in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. My friend SB said it would be a family friendly hike but I quickly learned what is family friendly to him is not family friendly to me. Yet I continued to follow our guide. Stopping, catching, my breathe along the week. Praying that I would make it to the end of the path. After much determination and encouragement, I found my way to the end of the path.

Since then, I have learned to hike along the paths. One of my favorites is the Lily Ridge Trail near Lily Lake in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. Up, over, and around the bend. Stepping over the obstacles along the way. Brushing the sweat off of my brow. One switch back, then another.....until I reach the end of the path.

Every year my friends SB and KB take a group of hikers on one of the "teeners." A teener is a mountain that has an elevation in the teens. For example, Long's Peek, Mt. Meeker, etc. For the last six years, SB has been trying to get me to hike one of these. But I keep telling him that he is crazy and that there is no way that I can do that. Then this summer, my friend MKB and I decided to make a pact to get in better shape so we can climb a mild mountain next summer. SB thinks it will be Twin Sisters.

So I find myself follow a new path as I walk and even run along the path at our local park. I also continue to work out at Curves. I am going to follow that path next summer to the top of Twin Sisters. I really want to follow this path because I know that when I get to the top the view will be stunning and totally worth it.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Bringing the Word to Flesh

What is God calling you to do and be, friends?

This morning, a friend shared on his Twitter feed about starting a new venture. Since he technically has two jobs, he is described as "bi-vocational." But what exactly does it mean to be "bi-vocational?" Is there not a better term for us to use? Because as I have listened and watched my friends, who are often in "bi-vocational" ministries, I see so much more. These men and women are living out the call God has placed in their lives. They are using their gifts to share God's extravagant love with the world in new, creative, thoughtful, and innovative ways.

My friend JC is a gift. He may not have ever been called to be a parish pastor or chaplain, but he is one of the most faithful people that I know. In fact, I would say he is one of the best pastors I know. Now we didn't meet in the likeliest of ways. In fact, we met through Twitter and social media and then met in real life at the ELCA Churchwide assembly last month. I am thankful that our paths crossed because this man of God brings the Word to flesh through his video company Ankos Films. He is a true artist called to bring the Word in a new way...and I love that. He, along with many of my new friends, have made me think in new ways.

His is only one of the many stories I could share. And as I watch and listen to these gifts unfold around me, I am reminded that my writing is also a gift. It is truly who God has called me to be. These words God has gifted me with have helped me to tell my families story of mental illness. And as I look back on my life, I am sad that it took me 18 years to tell our story, but I saw the stigma associated with the illness which prevented me from telling our story. Words do indeed come to life when we are brave enough to tell our stories. "The bravest thing you'll ever do is tell your story"--Brene Brown

In all actuality, I believe "bi-vocational" (I really think there's a better way for us to describe this) ministry is a new way for us to be the church. Church is more than just a building. It is the people of God scattered throughout time and space. Church is bringing the Word to flesh in new, creative and innovative ways like my friend JC. Church is listening and engaging in the hard conversations. Church is the artistry of God using God's people and their gifts to bring the Word to life for all the world.