Sunday Blessing 37

(1) Driving to Curves, stopped at a red light, looking over and see my friends in the car next to me, having a conversation until the light turned red

(2) Being home from council before eight pm. Very rarely are we done that early!

(3) One of our youth stopping in to see me as she had to stop and do an errand for her mom

(4) Waffle cone Wednesday with PK and Else since the weather didn’t hold out for S’mores worship

(5) A fun evening with friends. Thanks EG and PL!

(6) A sweet comment from a friend about my writing

(7) Packing for my trip to Colorado! Rocky Mountains here I come!!!

(8) The longest day of the summer! Love!!!!

(9) Watching Finding Nemo as I finish my laundry and finish packing for my trip!

(10) A beautiful day for a drive and making it safely to my destination for the night

(11) Culvers cheese curds. You just have to indulge every once in awhile!

(12) Relaxing in a hot tub for a little while tonight

(13) An invitation to stop and see a friend if my travels take me through Gillette tomorrow

(14) Confirmation that I get to see my dear friend JK and her hubby next week

(15) Pure joy!!

“Chocolat, Chocolate and My Circle of Friends”

We sat on the floor of the seminary tv room having just finished our very first day of classes. During class, we watched a clip from the movie “Chocolat” and decided that we wanted to watch the movie that evening so here we were gathered watching the movie, the smell of chocolate cake permeating the room as it sat on the table behind the couch. Sadly I had bought my own birthday cake because it was my birthday and I wanted to make new friends. I think part of me thought I could bribe them with chocolate! 🙂 (These souls who became my dear friends later apologized saying they should have never let me buy my own cake).

Moments after the movie ended, we were ready to cut into that cake, but instead someone uttered the words “Show me how a pig eats” (or something along those lines). I remember a couple of us dove right into that chocolate cake with our hands and shoveled it into our mouths. I remember hearing the giggling and laughter circulating throughout the room. It is one of my most favorite memories from my seminary life. Little did I realize how important these individuals who let me buy my own birthday cake would later become such dear friends in my life.

These individuals were the ones who sat with me and prayed as my sister and I made the decision to become our mom’s legal guardian. These individuals are the ones who I sat and poured my heart out to during late night Perkins runs. These individuals were the ones who cheered me on when I struggled with systematic theology. I watched as two of these individuals lives became one as husband and wife and then later welcomed their dear daughter. I watched as several of them were ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament. These friendships are friendships that I treasure each and every day even though the miles seperate us.

When I graduated seminary, one of our classmates made a video of our time at seminary and the music they used was “Circle of Friends” by the Christian group Point of Grace. Every time I hear that song now I am reminded of what friendship on purpose; friendship grounded in God’s love for each other looks like. I was blessed by those friendships at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp. I was blessed by those friendships at seminary. I was blessed by those friendships at my previous call and in my previous community.

One of the hardest things about having to say goodbye is having to leave those relationships behind.
I feared coming to a new community and having to make friends. As I prayed about this new opportunity, I will admit that I had flashbacks to elementary school. I remember standing alone on the playground as a little girl waiting to make new friends. But somehow in the mist of my fear at starting this new journey, God has blessed me with some incredible friendships over the last six months. I have sat with my friend CT and poured out my heart to her. I have sat and broke break at her dining room table with her and her daughters and our friend KW. I have sat with my friends EG and KG over a glass of wine. In these friendships, I have realized that I am surrounded by an incredible circle of friends from many different times and places that will always be there for me.

I miss those friends that I have left behind and I have tried my very best to stay in touch with each of them. There are days I wish I was a better friend and could keep in touch with them. There are days that I want to pick up the phone and hear their voices but yet I haven’t been able to do that. I know that in time our paths will cross again.

My life is fuller and sweeter because of those friendships grounded in God’s love for each of us. I am incredibly blessed with an amazing splendid “circle of friends.” May we all know that deep friendship where we can share our heart and soul without fear and know that we will always be welcomed at the table for who we are!

Won’t you join me at my table?

                                                    Some old school “Point of Grace”

I am linking up at (In)Couragers today!

Sunday Blessings 36

(1) Having a great meeting with a friend. Thanks ST!!

(2) Finding out a couple (some of my fave people) I married last summer are having a baby boy.

(3) An awesome coffee cake for staff meeting

(4) Finding out a card I sent a friend brightened her day!!

(5) A sweet hug from a dear parishioner

(6) Being invited to have some apple crisp with one of the ladies circles this afternoon

(7) Planking with some ladies at Curves for 45 seconds

(8) A $1 lunch as customer appreciation at a local store. A hamburger, chips, ice cream and soda or water for a dollar! Can’t beat that!!!

(9) Lunch with a dear friend at one of my fave places!! Thanks EG!

(10) Girl time with two of my faves!!! Thanks EG and CT!! (EG, twice in one day)

(11) Awesome sour cream chicken enchiladas that I made off of a Pinterest recipe

(12) A wonderful Post-Liturgical nap

(13) A great morning of worship at FLC; voting to extend a call to an associate pastor

(14) Talking to my Daddy on the phone and wishing him a Happy Fathers Day

(15) And so much more!

A Friday the 13th Friday Five

1. Are you superstitious about anything? Like, lucky socks for competition, special necklace for preaching, etc.? Nope I am not really superstitious about anything. I always think of when I was a little girl and we used to not step on the sidewalk cracks cuz it would break your mothers back. I do knock on wood when I dont want certain things to happen.

2. I’m going on vacation on Tuesday. I have never been so ready for vacation. What are you looking forward to? The Lutheran Academy of the Rockies!!! This will be my fourth summer attending this continuing education event that is held in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park. I will leave next Sunday June 22nd after worship and will drive half way. The even starts Monday the 23rd and goes through July 3rd. But I am staying through July 4th. Just think it will be fun to spend the 4th in Estes Park.

3. There is a lot going on in sports right now–World Cup, Basketball finals, and much more. If your life were a sport, what would it be, and why? I guess volleyball. I think of the sets and the spikes. I think of the inbounds and outbounds.

4. Hey! Remember orange push-up ice cream treats? What happened to them? What is one of your favorite summer treats? Ice cream sandwich, popsicles, frozen grapes, fruit pizza, DQ Dilly Bar, etc.? I think you can still order push-ups from Schwans. Pretty sure I saw them in their catalog the other day. I love ice cream in the summer. I love the mint dilly bars. I love the new trend of frozen yogurt places. I also love watermelon. I also love fresh grown tomatoes!

5. So there is this thing called “Listserve” that picks one random person per day to write an email to like a million people world-wide. It’s pretty cool. Some people make music suggestions, offer sage advice, or plug their latest interest/project. If you could write a note to a million people around the world, what would you say? “Peace be with you”

I Am A Daughter (Part Three)

My heart aches! The news headlines are reporting yet another school shooting. This time in the Portland, Oregon area. When will this stop? Why can’t we seem to get a hold of this? There are just too many school shootings happening in the United States. We need to do something about this. From what I have read so far today in the news, we do not know the name of this killer but we do know the name of the young man who walked into the school in Connecticut last December. His name was Adam Lanza.

As the news of the school shootings surfaced in December of 2012, mental health was a key issue that kept resurfacing. And if you read my blog post that December, you know that I truly believe this is a place for us to start. We are more comfortable talking about guns and gun control than we are talking about mental health issues. I am a daughter of someone who daily lives with and struggles with mental illness. She is one of the most grace-filled and faith-filled women that I know. Yet I know that mental illness has not been easy for her or for our family. In fact, It took me a really, really long time to share about the illness because I saw how others treated her because of the stigma associated with the illness.

The reality is that there is help out there. With the right medications and care, normal lives can be lived. I think we need to do a much better job of educating about mental health issues. I believe that if we educate more fully, perhaps the number of school shootings will be minimized. I can’t say that for sure but what I do know is we need to start somewhere…and mental health seems like a good place to start.

I would be a totally different individual if I hadn’t experienced what I have experienced with my family members who daily struggle with mental illness. And the truth is that I love them both and they have taught me so much about life and living even when I know that has been easier said than done for them. Yes, our journeys with mental illness have not been easy. In fact, there have been times when I have wanted to curse God (and probably did) for them! Why us? Why our family? Yet I wouldn’t give up this journey for anything! Through it all I have learned what it means in Psalm 30 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

And with that said, I also think it is important for us to pray and lift these up to God so let us pray:

“God, we don’t understand what happened in Oregon this morning. We ask you to be with the family of the student who was killed. We also ask you to be with the shooter. We don’t know why he did what he did but we know that he needs to feel your love and forgiveness. Comfort all those who are filled with fear now at sending their children to school. Guide us as we educate and bring awareness to mental health in our world. God, most of all we ask you to bring your peace into the world. Amen!

(You can read part one; and part two here;

Sunday Blessings Thirty-Five

(1) Getting to spend some time with my momma; lunch, showing her my office and the church.

(2) Introducing mom to some of the rest of the FLC staff

(3) A friend reminding me that I am “enough, more than enough.” (I needed that reminder! Thanks NP)

(4) A great day for graduation parties; going to miss E’s grad party

(5) Visiting with dear people at E’s grad party

(6) Mowing my lawn. It needed it!!!

(7) Finishing the Fault in Our Stars . So ready to go to the movie now!!!

(8) The (In) Couragers group that I joined! Something so incredibly holy about saying “me too!”

(9) A fun Pentecost children’s sermon. Wearing birthday party hats and singing Happy Birthday to the church.

(10) Being called “smiley!” I haven’t been called that in so long. I was given that nickname by a friend in a college. That friend died and is in heaven. I never thought I would let anyone else call me by that nickname!

(11) Talking to my momma on the phone

(12) Having a great conversation with one of my fave little boys after worship today! I had to switch party hats because he had to make sure our hats matched!!

(13) A beautiful Sunday morning rain

(14) A sweet little girl (one of my faves) grabbing my hand. I picked her up and she snuggled right in. I think she would have fallen asleep!

(15) Graduation party food

(16) Visiting with a great group of ladies from church during coffee time

(17) My sis left these smoothie mixes at my house. I tried the PB chocolate one today!!! Yummy!!!

(18) Tackling Mt. Laundry. So thankful that my house has a washer and dryer in the basement.

(19) Warm enough weather to finally take the flannel sheets off of my bed!

(20) My awesome friends and family

Joy Comes With The Morning

(I am linking up at (In)Couragers today.

As a little girl, I loved watching Little House on the Prairie. Maybe it is because I am a girl who grew up on the prairies of North Dakota. I have always loved watching it. And I still love watching their reruns. (If you haven’t read Allison Arnigram’s book Confessions of a Prairie Bitch. You must read it. I was rolling on the floor laughing. Allison played Nellie Oleson on the Little House series…but I digress). This afternoon as I was enjoying my day off, I came across the Hallmark channel as it was playing episodes of Little House. One of the episodes I watched was the one where Mary finds out she is blind, goes off to a blind school, and meets Adam. At the end of the episode, she is standing in the church during worship reading Psalm 15 from her Braille book. As her fingers danced across the braille book, I couldn’t help but think about life and how God is with us in the midst of our struggles.

The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

My life has had its own struggles as well. My mom had a nervous breakdown after my little sister was born. I was only three years old. It has always been a difficult journey. I don’t remember a time when my mom didn’t end up in the hospital at least once a year. When I was a sophomore in high school, our parents divorced. The illness was too much. My senior year in college my mom ended up in the ICU which aged her a lot. She has been living in a nursing home ever since. The place Mom has lived at for about the last ten years has been an incredible blessing in our lives. My sister and I became legal guardians while I attended seminary. And as I look back on this journey, with all of its ups and downs, I simply know that

The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Looking back over my own 35 years of life, I can see all of my ups and downs. I went to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp knowing that it was the worst interview in my life ( I spent the whole time looking at the floor not the interviewer), yet they took a chance on me. That next summer, I remember them telling me that they didn’t think I would make it, but they would take me as long as I would make it and now they couldn’t get rid of me. After camp I felt the call to attend seminary and it was not an easy journey. I struggled throughout that journey, but it also has made me into the woman of faith that I am today. After seminary, I waited a year before I received my first call. And after that first call, I was blessed to be called by a community of faith where I grew into the woman leader that I am today. And when I felt the Holy Spirit moving in my life to a new call, it was so very difficult to leave that place, yet I felt God leading me to this new adventure. It was a time that was filled with deep reflection and prayer. And those are just some of the stories of my ups and downs. As I look back, I completely and fully remember that

“The joy of the Lord is my strength”

Yep, that’s right when I struggle because God hasn’t brought Mr. Right into my life I cling to the fact that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I continually yearn to start a family, I am reminded again and again that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”  When friends have failed at having more children, I have clung to the fact that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” When I hear those words, that a friend or family member is sick or divorcing or moving, my heart aches, yet I still cling to those dear words “the joy of the Lord is my strength!”

The Lord is my strength because I have been blessed by amazing communities and friendships that continually remind me of that fact. Without my seminary community and friends, I would have given up a long time ago. Without my camp friends, I wouldn’t have first shared my family’s story of mental illness. Camp was the first place I openly shared my family’s journey with mental illness. And they wouldn’t pray for me when they know we were struggling. Without my Diaconal brothers and sisters, I wouldn’t have picked up my own basin and towel to wash the feet of all God’s people. Without each of my friends, I don’t know where I would be! They remind me of God’s love each and every day! And without YOU, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I wouldn’t know God’s love, grace, and mercy because you remind that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

And knowing that “the joy of the Lord is my strength,” I know that God is always with me; with us. I am reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses; Psalm 30 (specifically verse 5)  “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Still Waiting for My Happily Ever After

“Happily ever after” 

As a little girl, that is how all those fairytales I watched seemed to end. The princess always seemed to find her Prince Charming. The bad guy always seemed to be defeated and the good guy always seemed to come out on top. As a little girl, I continually found myself looking for “my” happily ever. I would look around every corner to find what I was looking for. I always pictured myself as the beautiful princess who finally captured her Prince Charming. In my dreams, I would see myself decked out in an elegant ball gown, walking around the corner, finding my Prince. We would stand under the magnificent moonlit sky, embracing one another and kissing. That was how I pictured “my happily ever after;” a “happily ever after” fit for a fairytale ending!

But as I have grown up, I have realized that life isn’t always full of the “happily ever afters” because life has its ups and downs. Life is just as full of “unhappily ever afters” as it is “happily ever afters.” I say that as daily this reminder stares me right back in the face as my deepest desires have not been answered. I say that also knowing that my family has changed and experienced its own ups and downs in life. So I find myself clinging to fear rather than hope.

Today my friend Anna who blogs over at Girl with Blog wrote this beautiful blog post about the movie Frozen and the song Else sings where she sings “conceal don’t feel.” (You can read Anna’s blog post here: Anna reminds me; reminds us that the opposite of love is fear. As I read Anna’s words, they hit me straight in the heart. Oh how often I don’t feel because I am afraid of what might happen. I am afraid that my deepest desires and dreams might not come true. I am afraid that I will never get to be a mom…not in the way I always pictured as a little girl. I am afraid of so much. But as Anna reminds me and YOU, God feels for us. God didn’t conceal. God felt wholly and completely for each of us.

For me, that is often so hard to trust in. I open up my FB newsfeed and I see the beautiful pictures of my friends and their dear families. My heart aches because I want what they have so deeply. (I truly am happy for each and every one of them but in order for me to live my life, I cannot conceal those feelings which is why I need to share them here). I am still looking for “my happily ever after.” I am waiting for God to send that Prince Charming into my waiting arms as we kiss under that magnificent moonlit sky.

Yet I stand, with open arms, still waiting. And that is so hard for me to admit because I truly believe that God hears my every desire and prayers but there is also a part of me that clings to the fear; a fear that holds me down and doesn’t let go.

Because I am still that little girl waiting for her “happily ever after!”

Sunday Blessings 34

A couple weeks worth of Sunday Blessings….

(1) Spending time with great friends as we helped one of them pack

(2) A friend sharing watermelon with me

(3) Joining my first (In) Couragers group after some prodding from a friend. Thanks STM!

(4) Having one of my blog posts linked to on the RevGalBlogPals Wednesday festival.

(5) Making an awesome supper; chicken, asparagus, radishes! Yum!!!

(6) A beautiful 70 degree day

(7) Getting to play with a 15 month old. So much fun!!!

(8) Borrowing the church’s lawn mower (with permission) and getting my lawn mowed. It needed it!!

(9) A haircut, a Target Cafe watermelon Icee and a soft pretzel! Perfect on this hot day!!

(10) Sitting on my deck, reading on my Kindle and soaking in the beautiful sun’s rays!!

(11) Making and enjoying some sun tea

(12) Chatting with one of my neighbors and meeting her son and daughter who were getting ready to Slip N Slide.

(13) A summer like day—80 plus degree weather. Haven’t seen that for quite awhile

(14) Getting real mail from one of my fave people! 🙂

(15) Making it over to a friends church for his goodbye reception

(16) Getting to participate with Pastor during a Baptism! Loved getting to bless her sweet little

(17) Talking to my momma on the phone; a Sunday tradition. She usually always calls on Sundays!!

(18) Helping a friend pack. Something so life-giving about helping out others! Good for my soul!!

(19) Having MJ make us pancakes with lingonberries! So scrumptious!!

(20) Being asked by a friend to help her out with some seminary work this summer

(21) Two little girls coming to my office to say hello while their mom was in a meeting next door

(22) Reconnecting with dear friends at Western ND synod assembly

(23) Meeting new friends at WND synod assembly

(24) WND Gala—so much fun!!!

(25) Spending time with dear friends

(26) Bishop Mark reelected on first ballot as Bishop of Western ND synod

(27) Awesome night with CT and RT which included a yummy caramel apple martini. Thanks for the fun night friends!

(28) Being told by a friend that she can physically tell that I’ve lost weight.

(29) A friend reminding me of the gifts I possess; saying that she always knew I was a servant leader. You are the embodiment of a servant leader!!

(30) Nice drives to and from Bismarck

(31) Being at the WND assembly which was totally coming home for me! So incredibly blessed to spend time with dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

(32) A wonderful post liturgical nap

(33) Wishing my momma a Happy Birthday; 64 blessed years of life! Love ya mom!

(34) A great morning if worship–thanks to KD for all his work. Even though we had a few little issues, it was a great morning cuz Gods grace is sufficient!

(35) Getting to hold a baby and having some baby time!!

(36) A new season of the Next Food Network Star