Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Blessings 156 and 157

(1) A call from my momma

(2) Finally getting a much needed haircut. Thanks TS!

(3) RR giving me a ride to the airport. Thanks sweet lady!

(4) Above 40 degrees in Minot

(5) Hugging so many dear friends

(6) Tons of compliments on the new hair color.

(7) Yummy food

(8)  Maizy blowing me kisses

(9) Sammy and I playing peek a boo

(10) Hanging out with Sammy and his mom

(11) The ELCA YMNET mannequin   challenge

(12) A gorgeous walk outside

(13)Bringing coffee to my friend BB

(14) Riding back from Louisville with some of my fave F-M friends

(15) Chatting with my friend KJD and getting to meet and visit with her new husband.

(16) Sharing my book with another passenger on the plane.

(17) Supper with seminary classmates and friends

(18) Late night early morning fun and awesome conversations

(19) Fun exploring a new city

(20) RT giving me a ride home from the airport. Thanks friends.

(21) Coming home to new leggings I ordered. So cute!

(22) Texting my sissy

(23) Chatting online with good friends

(24) A successful UnChili Cookoff

(25) A great phone conversation with my friend BB. Thank You!

(26) A great Zumba workout

(27) Having a great visit with JA and SJ at my house.

(28) Watching a new movie "We Bought a Zoo!"

(29) Texting with MW

(30) Messaging some of my fave people. Thank You for the prayers friends.

(31) A good annual meeting

(32) A parishioner sending me to the Western Plains Opera's production of Fiddler on the Roof. Thanks JK!

(33) Visiting with several people

(34) A parishioner sharing her popcorn with me.

(35)  EG holding my hand as we walked out of worship.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Holy Spirit

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "control". It was so good to see this crew and get back into the groove of FMF. We'd love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

The Holy Spirit she blows where she will
She goes left; we go right
Trying to control where she blows

Yet she knows better
She knows us in our uncertainty
She redirects and leads us
Where she needs 

She holds our hand
She leads us beside still waters
She controls where we need 
To be led

Down a path 
With the Holy Spirit
At my back
I lean in
Lean into where 
She is leading me.

The Holy Spirit
Is the one in control
And in the midst 
Of uncertainty and faith
I trust 
Trust that she is 
Always in control.

Because the Holy Spirit
Blows where she will. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Connected in Water and Word

Beloved child of God
Behold who you are
Become what you receive

These words from Asher O'Callaghan's phenomenal sermon at the closing worship of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza have been replaying in my heart and my soul. How often do we truly let each other be who God fully intended us to be?

It's no secret that I am a beloved, broken, blessed child of God who is the daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness. It took me 18 years to unlock our story and tell it in this world. Every day, I continue to live into that role. It's part of who I am and now I cannot not tell that story. In fact this morning on the plane, I shared my book with a passenger because he was sharing about his own journey.

This community has always fully accepted me as that child and loved me wholeheartedly without exception. In fact, it's why I know that I can walk into this place and be honest about life and faith. It never seems to fail that the E falls at a time when I am struggling in my life in one way or another. It's why I know that within moments of closing worship, as I worship, embrace my colleagues and friends in signs of peace and hugs, and prepare my heart to say goodbye for another year, I know that the tears will quickly begin to fall--holy tears that remind me we are all connected in the body of Christ.

The E is a place of holy sacred community that isn't afraid to dive into the hard questions. It is a place where we can confess that Black Lives Matter. It is a place where we strive to be better; to be more diverse. It is a place where we openly listen to each other's stories; in both our joys and challenges. I think of the many stories of celebration and sorrow I shared in this weekend. Stories that can be held together and not alone. Most of all, it is a place where we are all connected in water and Word.

And connected in water and Word, we can proclaim in the love of God for all people. So friends, beloved children of God, know that you hold a special place in my heart always. And always remember, "Behold who you are; become what you receive."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hopes, Dreams and the March

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

Today was a day full of lots of action.  My FB feed was full of women of all ages and color marching all around the US. I won't get into any detail here because there are friends and family who are on both sides of the political spectrum. But watching the womans marches unfold gave me hope-- a hope rooted in resistance.

If I could have marched, I would have marched along side my friends. I would have marched for my mom and all who daily struggle with a mental illness. I would have marched for those dear souls who  live with a developmental disability. I would've marched for my friends of various skin colors and sexual orientations. I would have marched for everyone because every story matters (the words on my friend DG's poster today as she marched and held space for so many)

As Brene Brown says, "The bravest thing you'll ever do is tell your story." Yet too often we forget that everyone has a story and every story is different. We forget that our stories link us more than they divide us. We forget that God sent Jesus into the world for each and everyone of us. That Jesus was the first to turn the world upside down. Jesus was one of the first to resist the powers of this world.

But most of all, I believe that we are all called to do justice, love kindness/mercy and walk humbly with our God. We are all beloved, broken, blessed children of God who are called to love one another. "Love one another as I have loved you."

I can't help but keep replaying these words from Jonathan Rundman's song "This is My Song" in my mind tonight. As these words echo through my ears, this is my prayer tonight and every night. "This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine, this is my home the country where my heart is, here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine, but other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine."

There are hopes and dreams beating in every heart tonight; hopes and dreams founded on love and hope. May we rise up together and proclaim the love of God for all people; people of every shape, size, religion, etc who each hold a precious hope and dream in their own hands.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sacred Creativity

"Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside are hoping you will say yes."--Elizabeth Gilbert; Big Magic; Creative Living Beyond Fear

A book that I started writing a year ago still sits in the draft file of my computer. My poetry binder sits unopened as new poetry has not been added for months. I have found the words to write here in this space, but I'll admit there are times that this writing well seems to have run dry. I too often find myself getting caught up in the comparison trap. Yet as I read Elizabeth Gilbert's new book, the words quickly jumped off the page into my heart and mind and I found myself deeply ready to dive into whatever creative endeavor finds me next.

The truth is that creativity is much like a treasure hunt. We must look and find those treasures of creativity found deep within us. That treasure might be writing, or painting, or gardening, singing , acting or whatever gift God has given each and every one of us. Yet do we take the time to cultivate our own jewels and find the "big magic" in our own lives? Gilbert writes, "One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all, and then stand back and see if we can ever find them."

So stand back...and you see the jewels hidden in yourself and your friends and family? We must not be afraid to name those jewels for one another. Because sometimes we are just to blind to see them for ourselves. My friend Karrilee is an artist through the cards she crafts and creates and through the words she shares. My friend Anna is an awesome encourager and friend who wrote a beautiful Advent devotional book that reminded us all to slow down and savor that holy time of the year. And these are only a few of the jewels that I see before my very own eyes. Every day, my eyes are continually opened to find the jewels of individuals who have found a way into my heart.

The world would be a much more beautiful place if we allowed each other to create unabashedly without comparison. Creativity is a gift that has been given to each and every one of us. Creativity allows us to be fully who God created us to be. And it isn't about perfection but pouring our hearts out through the creativity God has bestowed on each of us. So say yes to being creative!

"Creativity is sacred, and is not sacred. What we makes matters enormously, and doesn't matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you."--Elizabeth Gilbert

I'm linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for Your Heart and Kristen and Three Word Wednesday. 


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Blessings 155

(1) A sweet compliment from a lady at Curves tonight.

(2) A beautiful ornament from my friend SS

(3) Part 2 of the Here Hear podcast

(4) More leftovers

(5)  Talking to MW on the phone

(6) Finding new episodes of Nashville

(7) Using some of my Christmas gift cards.

(8) Breaking in my new Dutch oven and making homemade French onion soup.

(9) Having a nice conversation with a lady at Herbergers.

(10) Cinnamon Gummy Bears

(11) A great LYO board meeting

(12) Gentlemen who help get you unstuck.

(13) A gorgeous night and a beautiful full moon

(14) Getting to hug NF and EB

(15) A 1st grader asking me to pray for his fish that died.

(16) A sweet gift.

(17) Hugs from some of my faves

(18) A beautiful PLN

(19) Fresh fruit and veggies

(20) Some beautiful above zero degree days

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In the Middle

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "middle". It was so good to see this crew and get back into the groove of FMF. We'd love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

I hear my sister and I singing loudly to a beloved country song "We meet in the middle neath that old Georgia pine, you start walking my way, I start walking yours." It is the first thing that popped into my mind when I read this week's word prompt. It is a song that holds special memories and a special place in my heart.

There is something holy about being in the middle especially when the middle is that place where we find ourselves. In fact, sometimes being in the middle is exactly where we need to be. The middle is one of the best places to be like the creme in the Oreo cookie, or the meat in the midst of a yummy sandwich and so much more.

I like being in the middle of my dear friends. One day we will gather at a table where some of us will indeed be stuck in the middle surrounded by one another. We will all start walking toward one another where we will meet in the middle. 

And sometimes, it is in the middle of the sky that God paints God's masterpieces; a night sky, the stars scattered across that same sky, and so much more. The middle isn't such a bad place to be, is it? 

A Holy Experience

Today, there was no need to look at the calendar as from the moment the sun rose, I knew that today was leading us into January 12th. Seven years ago, on this date, the earthquake hit in Haiti where three Wartburg Seminary students Renee Splichal Larson, Ben Splichal Larson and Jon Larson  were presenting as part of their January term class. At that same time, I found myself gathered with my small group as we strained to listen to one of Ben's songs "Mourning into Dancing." The words echoed through my ears and heart.

That afternoon, as I lay in my hotel room, the news of the earthquake quickly spread. Yet due to the vague reports, we found ourselves waiting and yearning to hear more about Ben, Renee and Jon. For days, there was much confusion as we tried to learn more about the earthquake. Then on Thursday morning, it was confirmed that Ben had lost his life in the earthquake. 

I still remember picking up my phone that morning and answering it. As I held the phone in my hands, my heart began to sink as Shera asked if she could come to me. I hung up the phone and waited for her to arrive. From the moment I put down my phone, I knew that the news was not good. Shera and I stood and embraced each other in the cold of a January Pennslyvania day as her roommate stood in the cold with us. We walked to the refectory where we had to break the news to our new friends. I remember my voice being on auto-pilot as all I could repeat was "Ben is gone". The tears quickly began pouring from our eyes and wouldn't stop as we all held each other in the midst of our grief. It is a holy experience I won't soon forget.

So I always begin today with a heavy heart and soul. I also always begin and end January 12th listening to Ben's song Mourning into Dancing which holds these dear words from Psalm 30:5 "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning." After the dark nights of weeping, joy does indeed eventually come again. But we are forever shaped by the losses in our lives.

My blog friend Janel shared this quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and it has been ringing in my heart and soul today as I remember Ben and all who lost their lives in the Haiti earthquake. Ross writes, 
"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to." 
Our experiences--good and bad--shape who we are. They help us to live our best lives and remember the ways we have been blessed and changed.  In the words of Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."

So today, as we remember Haiti, Ben, and all who lost their lives that day, we cry out and sing, "God's peace to us we pray."--a peace that is born and grounded in the hope of God!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Power of Story and Vulnerability

I am always amazed at the people and places God has placed into my life. It has been such a joy to get to know so many friends in the blogging world, at seminary, and in numerous other places. Telling our stories is a holy act that opens us up to our own vulnerability.

As Brene Brown states, "Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."

The infinite power of our light is a beautiful image. It reminds me of the Japanese art form kinstigu where they put gold lacquer over the cracks. The gold reminds us of the brokenness of this piece of art, but is also the place where the light gets in. Are we willing to be vulnerable, even though it is risky?

This week, I returned to the Here Hear podcast to talk more about growing up as a daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness. Today, Nate and I talk stigma and story. You can listen to this week's episode here: Here Hear Podcast (Part 2).

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, January 08, 2017

Sunday Blessings 154

(1) A sweet early morning text from LT

(2) Yummy French onion soup

(3) Fun mail

(4) Talking to JL on the phone

(5) Voxing with KA

(6) A sweet text from my good friend MW

(7) My first ever podcast appearance goes live.

(8) A sweet surprise from the circle ladies

(9) Voxing with VF

(10) Return of #fmfparty

(11) #slatespeak

(12) Texting with JS

(13) A sweet compliment from a parishioner

(14) Great group of people who helped peel potatoes and get ready for tomorrow's events

(15) A fantastic PLN

(16) A good day at church celebrating our receptionist on her retirement and saying farewell to our pastor and his family.

(17) Leftover stuffing

(18) A sweet Vox from CH

(19) Hugs

Thursday, January 05, 2017


am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "connect". It was so good to see this crew and get back into the groove of FMF. I've missed these peeps, Tonight we talked all things; wine and chocolate, one words and snow, skiing and cold. We'd love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

My hands clasped 
Around my cuP
And warmed up
By the sheer warmth 
Of it 
As we listen and chat
Over a hot cup 
On this cold winter day.

Our hearts connected
In just a few moments
Over life and love and faith.

My fingers tap 
Across the keyboard
On Twitter 
Across computer and phone screens.

So many question
These connections
But they are sincere and true
True in every sense of the word.

Connections made
From east to west
North to south
Across faith lines
And connected
As family of God.

Like a puzzle
Snapped into place
Piece by piece
God pieces our lives
And connects us together
With beloved brothers and sisters 
In Christ.

And as each piece
Finds its proper place
In the puzzle
A beautiful masterpiece
Unfolds before our very eyes.

A masterpiece
Through the love
And grace of God;
Connected when we move
The table to where 
All are welcomed and connected
At the holy altar;
Connected in water, bread, wine
And the Word

To reveal 
A beautiful elegant masterpiece 
Of Gods people

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

My First Ever Podcast Appearance

In mid December, I had a really great conversation with Nate Crawford; the founder of Here Hear which is an organization dedicated to mental health awareness. Nate and I talked about my self published book and growing up as a daughter with a parent with a mental illness.

You can listen to the podcast here: Here Hear Podcast (Part 1 of 2)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Sunday Blessings 153

(1) A great chat with FH

(2) Texting with my faves

(3) Knoephla soup

(4) Playing Rook with the family

(5) Getting our cars free of ice

(6) Time with grandma and grandpa

(7) Dumplings

(8) Making it home safely

(9) Voxing with KA

(10) Texting with MW and TM

(11) Snow shoveling angels! Thanks RT!

(12) Good Earth chai tea

(13) Binge watching Fuller House

(14) A quiet NYE at home

(15) Flying solo at church

(16) Brunch with great church peeps

(17) A gift of a bucket of fruit

Firmly Planted in Hope

"And so, Lord, my only hope is in you!"--Psalm 39:7 (Living Translation)

"We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain."--Hebrews 6:19 (NRSV)

For the last several years, I've participated in the One Word 365. The last three years have been shaped by the words "gentle," "brave," and "embrace." As 2016 comes to a close, I've been waiting for God to show me my new word. Several friends gave me great words but my one word made me feel different from the other words. My new word is a word that is grounded in my faith and the ways that this word is brought about in this world. My one word is......HOPE!

It is the one word that keeps showing up. One of my friends chose hope for me. My friend KK tweeted about driving past a town named "Hope." I came home to mega snow and found hope in the three souls who came to shovel me out. Another friend TR tweeted about how her word is resist and how she will resist in hope. In each of these instances, there was that word "hope." So this year I will be open-hearted to hope.

2016 has been a hard year; a year that I didn't want to particularly embrace at times. A contentious election. The unnecessary killing of people simply due to the color of their skin. My Muslim, Jewish and LGTBQ+ friends afraid for their lives. Several of my friends losing their first born children.  My heart breaks at all the hatred, evil and loss that I see in our broken fractured world

Yet I've seen glimmers of hope. Hope in church leaders. Hope in leaders who are working for change. Hope in family and friends who show radical love to all Gods children. Hope in the Word made flesh; in Emmanuel "God with us";  who births messy messy hope through his life, ministry, ultimately death, and resurrection.

So hope is something that I can cling too and am choosing to cling to in 2017. In fact, "hope is the only thing stronger than fear." Hope breaks into this world like a rising sun at sunrise. It shines light into the darkness just like a candle lit in the darkness. It is just enough light for us to be able to see. In the words of Desmond Tutu, "Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness."

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all."--Emily Dickinson

As hope settles in my heart and mind, hope will anchor my soul in the midst of all of life's storms. Hope changes things. It changes things for the better. It gives itself to this broken fractured world. It perches in our souls and is unending.

May 2017 be a year firmly planted in hope!

Eye of the Storm--Ryan Stevenson