Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Blessings 161

(1) YouthWorkers meeting--love these colleagues and friends

(2) Samoas Girl Scout Cookies

(3) Finding out a friend and I both have connections to DLC and PMA. So cool!!

(4) Texting with my faves

(5) Laughter

(6) Zumba with some of my fave Curves ladies.

(7) Papa John's pizza

(8) Texting with JS

(9) This is Us and Nashville.

(10) The new Starbucks store. Love how spacious it is.

(11) Time out with my sis, EG and GG

(12) Yummy desserts at Ebeenezers

(13) A great afternoon with momma

(14) A weekend with my sissy

(15) Tim Hortons Donuts

(16) Great clearance deals

(17) Hanging with family SS

(18) A fantastic PLN

(19) Tackling Mt Laundry

(20) My time at Dilworth Lutheran Church and Pastor Mark Asleson. Today Mark retired from ministry. I'm sad that I was unable to be there, but know that I was there in spirit. Everything Mark taught me made me the woman leader that I am today. Thank You!!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Emotions, Exhaustion and The Bitterness Thats Left in my Mouth

This morning, I woke up to a Facebook message from one of my dear friends. The message contained a video from Mayim Bialik where she talks about being an emotional person. I pushed play on the video and began to watch it.



The words resonated immediately with me. I've always been an emotional being. I've even been known to cry at a Hallmark commercial or two or three.....
My tears come from deep in the depths of my heart and are honestly never out of pity. I truly deeply hurt for those who are hurting. And as I listened to these words, I had a realization. No wonder I am exhausted. Since the election, my heart, soul and mind have been even more filled with care for those on the margins. My heart cannot take the ugliness I've seen spewed in this world.

I know that we are all uniquely created beings in this world. We will never agree on every side of an issue. But as I scroll through any one of my social media feeds, I want to throw my phone or IPad. I truly believe we are better than this. That we can treat each other with love and respect while fully listening to one another. We may never understand why certain individuals act the way they do, but what if we at least tried to understand where they were coming from? I'm not saying it'll be easy, but it's a place for us to start.

My heart grieves for those Jesus would have had no problem sitting and breaking bread with himself. Jesus was the first to break bread with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus himself was a refugee; fleeing from his homeland with Mary and Joseph to escape King Herod. I can't help but wonder when Jesus will show up at our door as the homeless man, the black woman, the immigrant, the refugee etc. Are we not called to feed them, clothe them, provide shelter for them, etc?

I honestly don't have any of the answers but my heart is filled with a holy fire; a holy fire that wants to resist and persist like the many in the Bible who persisted. The truth is that I will always feel emotion. I will always cry for those who are seen as outsiders. I will continually shed tears for those who are hurting and are tired from what the world throws at them. My emotions will, in the words of Mayim, always be my superpower; a superpower I'm not willing to give up.

I believe that God gave me this gift; to see, to feel, to touch and to taste. Most days, I'm happy to feel, to taste, to see and to touch what is happening in this world. But lately, my mouth has been filled with a bitterness that I can't shake; a bitterness that lingers long after I've read or heard words that have been shared. I can't help but think of Jesus' own words in the book of James, "We must be slow to speak and slow to anger." But what if that is not enough? What if we need to speak up?

I'm tired friends....tired from the ways my emotions have been wrapped up in the reality of our world. Yet without my emotions, would I see this world and those who are hurting? Would I not be willing to be that shoulder for Gods children to weep on? Would I not dry the tears of Gods children who are filled with fear? But most of all, would my capacity to be compassionate, kind, caring and loving not open the world to the beauty of Gods tapestry; a tapestry where black lives matter, where trans individuals don't have to worry, where refugees feel safe and so much more?

My emotions are indeed my superpower. They help me to live and love in a world that is broken and fractured. They help me to see those who need to be seen. They remind me that all of us are beloved children of God who deserve to feel safe and respected.

So pardon me if my tears are still wet...
But I'm no longer going to apologize for them.

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.


 
 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Slow to Speak and Slow to Anger

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "slow". I love spending time with this crew. They bless me beyond words. 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 have been watching intently. So much hatred and ugly words being flung in the world. I have been saddened by the words I have seen hurled at others. I am reminded of our text from Sunday when Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Now I know that is so much easier said than done, but it is our calling as God's beloved people in the world. It is counter-cultural so to be able to even try to do this we must pray.

I find myself trying to be so careful with the words I say. I want to be slow to anger so I slowly think about the words that I share with the world. I want to listen to all sides. I want to be open to all sides of the story. I carefully pray for God to give me the words I need to show the world that all of God's people are loved and deserve respect.

In the Small Catechism, in the definition to the 8th commandment, we are to interpret our neighbors actions in the best possible light. I know that is almost impossible to do, but what if we were slow to speak and slow to anger and instead were abiding in steadfast love for all God's people? I know we aren't perfect and never will be, but its a start. We need to think about what we say. We must try our best to be slow to speak and slow to anger. Anger doesn't get us anywhere does it?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Blessings 159 and 160

(1) A neighbor who snowblowed most of my sidewalk. Thank You!

(2) Barbara Brown Taylor's book Learning to Walk in the Dark

(3) Scattegories

(4) A sweet comment from a friend

(5) A surprise text from JK. Love and miss you friend.

(6) Time with my friend EG

(7) Lunch and convo with BA

(8) Watching KM's swim meet

(9) A sweet lady at church who asked if I'd lost some weight.

(10) Chatting online with friends

(11) Texting with MW

(12) Zumba

(13) Sweet reminders from friends on Single Awareness/V Day

(14) Yummy treats

(15) Playing Bingo with Special Olympics athletes

(16) This Is Us

(17) New LLR

(18) A sweet compliment from a lady at church.

(19) A great PLN

(20) Tutti Frutti

(21) Homemade Lettuce Wraps

(22) Girl Scout Cookies

(23) Finally catching up on my DVRed shows

Friday, February 17, 2017

Perfect in Weakness

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "weak". 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! 

Every Sunday, like clockwork, my phone would ring right before three pm. 
Then one day, it just stopped. 
It's so hard to watch her health deteriorate; to watch her become weaker,

My mom is a beautiful woman 
A woman who has lived most of my life with a mental illness
Then over a year ago, a dr uttered the words dementia too.

She was doing so well.
Even stayed at my house last summer
My sister and I and mom had so much fun.

In the last months though
I wait for my phone to ring 
And it doesn't ring
But then one day
I get a surprise
My phone rings and she asks what I am up.
Its in those moments that I think nothing is wrong.
Its in those moments that I have hope.

I am clinging to the precious moments we have
The moments where she still knows our names
Still knows who she is too.

Together we are made perfect in our weakness
Weakness that comes in all sorts of forms
Doesn't it?

I think of my dad who thought he was weak
Weak when he divorced my mom
But he was actually strong
Doing what was best for all of us

Weakness has a way of breaking in
When we least expect it
But God gives us strength

I am strong.
I am beautiful.
I am enough.
We all are.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In A Sea of Chocolate and Roses

Last week, I was reminded of a blog post God's Beloved I wrote two years ago for Valentines Day. And then last night, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I was overcome with all sorts of mixed emotions. Many of my friends changed their profile picture to a picture of them with their significant other and the words "I love us." The last thing I want to do is descredit my friends and families joy. And to be honest, my heart is so full for my friends and their families, but there is another part of me that is so heartbroken; so sad that my desires haven't been answered for me yet.

I know that my life in no way depends on a relationship status. But on days like today, it is so easy to forget that especially as I wait for God to answer the deep desires of my heart. It can seem like I'm not good enough; that I'm not worthy. But the truth is in God's eyes, I am good enough. I am worthy. In fact, I am more precious than gold or silver. I am a fearfully and wonderfully made child of God!

Yet today especially I need each of you to continually remind me that I am one of God's beloved. I need to know that my life isn't wrapped up in my singleness. I need to be reminded continually that Im not past my prime. I also need to be reminded that there is even beauty in the uncertainty of it all. (So much easier said than done)

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

Yes, there are days that my emotions and feelings overtake the day. But today especially, I'm not going to let that happen. After work I'm going to head to Curves to get a Zumba workout in. I'm going to do things that bring me joy and remind me of my worth and are not wrapped up in my singleness. In a sea of chocolate and roses, I'm going to cling to the promise that I'm one of Gods beloved children. 

I am sure that I will stumble along the way. But as long as you remind me that today is so much more than my feelings, I think all my single friends and I may get through today after all. 

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. 

 

 



Friday, February 10, 2017

Safe

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "safe". 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! 

Do you find yourself trying to keep yourself safe from germs this time of the year? Flu and everything else that seems to be going around. I don't know about you, but I try everything in my power to stay healthy. And in general, I am a rather healthy person.

But this week, I was attacked by the awful stomach bug that is going around. It just hit out of nowhere. When I don't feel well, I look for my favorite comfort items to help me feel better.  My favorite blanket, hot tea, a nice bath etc. What are your favorite things when you don't feel well?

I hope that you and your family are finding yourselves healthy and safe this winter season. Home is a place where I always feel safe and comfortable. My heart breaks for those who do not have access to a safe home in their lives. I pray that they soon are able to find safety. 

Perhaps each day we can follow the words of Jill Briscoe from the IF Gathering. "You go where you're sent; and you stay where youre put; and you give what you've until your done." Amen! And praying you all are safe from those awful germs this week. 

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Persisting like the Persistent Widow

Persistent--"continuing to exist despite interference or treatment"

"Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”--Luke 18:1-8 (NRSV)

I have been thinking a lot about the story of the persistent widow this last week. This story is a story that we hear in the Gospel of Luke. This woman is persistent and keeps coming back. But the thing is she isn't the only one who persisted. Mary persisted by living out her calling as Jesus' mother. In addition, who are the other persistent women you have read about in the Bible? There are numerous other women who persisted found throughout the stories of the Bible.

And it is their stories and the stories of many other women who have changed me. I wouldn't have gone to seminary and be serving in a church if other women before me hadn't persisted. I wouldn't be who I am without my mom...who day in and day out persisted and continues to persist despite living with a mental illness. I wouldn't be here without all of those who have persisted before me and continue to persist every single day.

Because of their persistence, I find that I am able to persist too. Just the other day, I was asked, "What are some words of wisdom that you have been given that have changed you?" I immediately was reminded of my endorsement interview (part of the candidacy process). During the interview, a member of my candidacy committee asked me, "Why have you struggled so much with systematic theology?" I don't remember what I said, but I remember how my seminary advisor responded. He said, "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." As I reflected on his words, I was reminded that it was because of the persistent women before me that I was able to stick with it.

Now I am not saying it is easy, because I don't think that it is. But we have some pretty amazing examples before us. Rosa Parks who simply wouldn't give up her seat on the bus because she knew that she too deserved a spot. The very persistent widow I spoke of earlier who persisted until she found justice for herself. Are we willing to follow their examples and be persistent ourselves?

Persistence for me is working and doing my best to seek "to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with my God." Persistence is remembering that each and every one of us is a beloved child of God. Persistence is persisting to hear the voices that are different than mine and to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

In fact, my friend Shannon reminded me of the very words I heard the day of my consecration almost 11 years ago. "Tara, serve the needy, care for the sick, comfort the distressed, and, through words and actions, witness faithfully to God's love for all people. Cross every barrier that stands between the church and its ministry in the world. Seek out those places where the gospel of Jesus Christ meets the world's need. Empower, equip, and support all the baptized in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Lead us all in proclaiming the gospel in witness and service. And be of good courage, for God has called you, and your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

What does persistence look like to you?

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

 
 



Sunday, February 05, 2017

Sunday Blessings 158

(1) A call from my daddy

(2) Zumba!!!!

(3) Registering for Festival of Homiletics

(4) Texting with MW

(5) A great circle Bible study

(6) Having supper with one of our residents at the nursing home.

(7) Receiving an unexpected gift in the mail.

(8) #fmfparty and #slatespeak

(9) KL and I going to Classic Rock Coffee to hear J Davis Poetry

(10) Watching the If: Gathering online

(11) Super Bowl commercials

(12) Glow sticks

(13) Visiting with some of our members

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Life and Death

am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "breathe". 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! 

A woman in labor. She gives birth and the baby lets out a cry. A cry that embodies that there is indeed breathe in their lungs. From life to death..a patient breathes their last breathe. The beginning of breathe is life and the ending of breathe is death. I can't help but reflect on the power of every single breathe we take in throughout our lives. 

Breathe reminds us that we are living human beings. Tonight, as I did Zumba, I found myself catching my breathe as the endorphins kicked in and my heart tried to keep up with my rapid activity. Breathe again is a reminder of what we have been given in life.

Breathe also reminds me of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who lives, moves and breathes...breathes in and out in this broken fractured world. As she moves, the Holy Spirit continually reminds us of the gift of life and death, the gift of joy and sorrow, and so much more. This gift of breathe that reminds us that there is a beginning and an end; the Alpha and the Omega in Christ.

Life begins with the first breathe taken. Death comes when we breathe our last. Tonight, I cannot help but think of our dear friend Andrew and all those who are suffering. Someday we will all breathe our last. But in faith, as that last breathe is taken, suffering and pain will end and peace will come. Peace that is born in a baby's first cry and peace that is found as that last breathe is taken and those we love are welcomed by a heavenly chorus, at the banquet feast fit for all Gods beloved children.