Changes Friday Five

So, for beginnings: Tell us five things that are new in your life, or that you would LIKE to have be new in your life. If that doesn’t work, how about things that you are ready to shed….to make room for new things? Opening your hands to release, to see what God might put into them?

(1) A new church school year; getting ready for Rally Sunday, teaching a Confirmation class, etc

(2) A new season. Summer is quickly coming to a close and soon Fall and Winter will be here. Yes ND winters can be brutal but I love living in a place where we have four distinct seasons.

(3) A new book. Recently finished the book “Sabbath” by Wayne Mueller. (I def recommend this book) Just started Jodi Picoults book “Lone Wolf.”

(4) Soon a new season of new episodes of my fave tv shows

(5) Another year of life. I’ll be celebrating a birthday on Wednesday.

Sunday Blessings 46

(1) Great first day back to work; a very productive day–got lots done

(2) The best prayer partners in the world! (Love you CT, KG, EG and KW!)

(3) EG stopping to check on mom for me

(4) Finding a really cool prayer app for my phone.

(5) Chatting with CT on the phone

(6) Talking to my momma on the phone and hearing how good she sounds

(7) Getting comments on my latest blog post. It was truly a post that came from the heart and it is always fun to read what others think of it. Thanks to those who stopped by!

(8) Texting with my good friend MW

(9) An awesome Pinterest recipe; vegetable egg roll in a bowl. So yummy! Easy recipe and healthy too!

(10) Project Runway! I love this show and I completely forgot it was back on. So much fun to watch and get back into.

(11) Haircut and wax day! It was so needed!

(12) Hanging out with my sissy even though it was an über rainy weekend.

(13) Being nominated by a friend for the ALS ice bucket challenge.

(14) Two movies with my sis: “When The Game Stands Tall” and “If I Stay.”

(15) A new umbrella for the crazy rainy weekend

(16) Lots of compliments on today’s sermon–totally humbled and it was totally the gift of the Holy Spirit that helped me write it.

(17) A hug from one of my fave kiddos

(18) Talking to Dad on the phone

(19) Real mail—a postcard from my dear friend HSG

Friday Five; Randomness!

1. True or False: You can wear white shoes after Labor Day*. (Please explain to me why!) Hmmm! I really haven’t paid that close of attention to this fashion trend. But really how many people wear white shoes anymore?

2. If “the dog days” are in August, when are “the cat days”? I guess maybe July.

3. Share a memory from your life of going back to school.
School shopping; new clothes, backpacks, school supplies etc. It was always fun to go shopping in the big city with my mom, dad, and sister. Eating at a nice restaurant and fun shopping!

4. My dad had a rhyme he used to tell us: “I eat my peas with honey; I’ve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife!” What’s the strangest use for honey you’ve ever heard of? Peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I also like honey in my tea.

5. Post a picture from this summer that shows us one of your favorite memories. Oh I have so many fun memories from the summer; time in my fave Colorado, ND state fair fun and lots of outside fun.

Hanging out at Calypso Cascades

Sunset at Lily Lake–Life doesn’t get much better than this!!

BONUS: Summer gardens! Got one? What are you growing? I don’t have a garden but my Grandma does! She supplies me quite well when I go home. I love garden veggies; tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and so much more!!

A Tribute to my Momma #RallyRevGals

There are have been many amazing incredible women who have been a huge part of my faith journey and have influenced me as a leader in the church. There is the campus ministry director at my beloved college. There are the women who I worked with at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp and went off to seminary to become leaders. There are my dear friends; old and new, who have or are daily showing me God’s love. There are those “triple A” adult women who have helped equipped me in my faith. All of these women are amazing blessings in my life, but I always come back to one very special individual; my momma!

Now, my faithful readers, many of you know our story, but for those that are new to this blog, our journey has been one of mental illness. Shortly after my sister was born (I was three years old at the time), my mom had a nervous breakdown. Throughout my life, I haven’t known different, yet my momma is one of the most faith-filled women in my life. She would totally give the shirt of her back for someone in need. She would let everyone else go first in line even if it meant all of her favorites would be gone by the time she got through the line. My mom embodies what it means to live with a servant heart. And my mom has done this even though her life hasn’t been easy at all.

Growing up, Mom was in the hospital quite a bit. Yet she always made sure that my sister and I attended church and Sunday School. Dad often was busy farming, but Mom made sure that our faith was nurtured. Even after my parent’s divorce, she took us to church. Faith had been modeled by her by her parents and now it was important to her to model that faith to her girls. (To this day, I am incredibly thankful for this gift)

Two days after graduating high school, I went to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp. It was the first place I truly opened up about my mom’s illness and our journey with mental illness. It truly was a freeing moment for me; to be able to share about this incredible women and her own journey. After working at camp for seven summers, I suddenly was urged by my uncle to attend seminary. I thought he was crazy, but the minute I walked onto that campus, I knew that God wanted me there.

I started at the Castle that next fall. I knew going in that I didn’t want to be an ordained pastor, so I was going to get my master of arts degree in youth ministry. I knew hardly anything about the other rosters; Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers, and Deacons/Deaconesses. But after starting to read the book “Word to Sacrament (The History of the Diaconate)” words started to jump off the page at me. “Bridging church and world,” “Picking up basin and towel” and “Word and Service.”

For me, “Picking up Basin and Towel” was the phrase that literally smacked me upside the face. Here I was a daughter of a women who lives and daily struggles with a mental illness and here were these words proclaiming to me that I could do something about the stigma. I could pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of ALL GOD’S PEOPLE especially those like my momma who daily struggle. Because of my mom’s faith and her ultimate examples of that faith, I knew that this was exactly where God was calling me! Mom’s journey; our journey opened up this door for me to be a leader in the church; a leader who could and would try to embody “diakonia” like my Mom has always taught me.

Mom has her good days and her bad days, yet I know that for her, faith is core to who she is as a child of God. She never lets her illness get in the way, but rather shares her faith daily in her words and actions. I am so very thankful for all she has taught me over my 35 years of life. Thank you momma for being the ultimate example of a Godly woman!

Sunday Blessings 45

(1) A week of vacation

(2) Starbucks Refreshers. They are my new fave summer drink on a hot day!! Flavors: Orange Valencia, Very Berry Hibiscus and Cool Lime!

(3) A great night visiting Mom and seeing how well she is doing.

(4) An afternoon cocktail with my dear friend EG

(5) FaceTiming with my good friend MW and (finally) watching Catching Fire together via Skype

(6) Hearing how excited my sister is starting to get about another school year

(7) CT and RT are the best!! (That’s all) Thanks for the place of respite this week, my friends. Also thanks for the wine, pizza, etc!

(8) Sitting outside on this gorgeous August day, reading on my Kindle and enjoying the beautiful sunlight

(9) A sweet note left for me by my friends

(10) Dinner and good conversation with my friend KG

(11) Good news-Mom is doing well and gets to go home!

(12) Talking to my dear friend MW on the phone a couple of times this week

(13) Enjoying a beautiful campfire that my friends set up for me. All I had to do was light it.

(14) FaceTiming and watching “Planes” with my good friend MW

(15) A McDs caramel Sundae

(16) Sunny, Lucy, Lady and Diesel–my friend’s pets

(17) A homemade pizza

(18) A call from my momma

(19) An invitation to stay for supper

(20) Hearing all about their trip and showing me their souvenirs from my friend’s girls

Remembering Sabbath

Earlier this year some friends and I decided to do a book study together. The book we chose was “Sabbath” by Wayne Mueller. I’m loving this book and what it is teaching me. Sabbath is more than Sunday. Sabbath is whenever we stop. So how do we truly take time for Sabbath? And why is Sabbath so important?

In this fast-paced high tech world, it is so easy to be pulled in by the world around us. We can’t seem to leave home without our cell phones. We have the worlds good and bad news at the tips of our fingers. And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

But as I’ve read this book, I’ve realized how it important it is to not be connected all the time. God wants us to take in his creation. The last four summers, in the heart of Rocky Mountain National park, I have not had a problem marveling at Gods amazing creation. The continuing education event I attend reminds me of not being connected and simply truly taking in this “Sabbath” place. I even wrote a poem this year reflecting on this exact sentiment. (If I think of it, I’ll post it in another blog post)

This week I am on vacation and I haven’t gone far. But I am thankful for friends who understand the importance of “sabbath” and how hard that is to experience when you live three doors down from your place of work. I am blessed that they have offered me a place of sanctuary.

This week I have found myself watching the birds and taking in all of Gods creation. I have found myself realizing it’s ok to just be! I am spending time with God. I am praying and reading and listening to the world around me. I’m slowing down and remembering how important this Sabbath time is for me (is for each of us)! I am breathing in and exhaling knowing that God wants and needs me to take this time so I can fully be who God created me to be.

This week has been full of sitting outside, reading, listening to the crackle of the campfire and so much more. Where do you experience Sabbath? How do you spend time in Sabbath?

Some of my fave places of Sabbath from June 2014 in Colorado

Sprague Lake

Outside our meeting room at Meeker Park Lodge

Sunset at Lily Lake

Hope and Resurrection (Remembering All Who Struggle…)

Mrs. Doubtfire, August Rush (I forgot about this one until turning the channel the other day and seeing him in this movie), Patch Adams, Goodwill Hunting and so many more–all starring the one and only Robin Williams. He’s also been the voice of some of my fave animated characters as well. He has always had this profound way of sharing so much joy and laughter.

Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my fave movies! I could watch it over and over. Perhaps because it came out about the time my parents got divorced and in some ways helped me get through that time.

Reading the news of Mr. Williams death this afternoon is so very difficult. Yet also is a stark reminder of how very difficult it is to live with addiction or mental health issues. It saddens me that so many celebrities have fallen into the deepest darkness, yet we often don’t see it! But the reality is that there is help out there. In fact, help is readily accessible.

I realize it is often hard for those who struggle with addiction etc to get help. Yet help is truly the hope in the midst of their darkness. Too often we see these individuals “in the shadows of our steeples” (This was a book I found in seminary but it captures the situation so well) and are afraid to help them. Yet I an reminded of the words we heard in yesterday’s Gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary, “Do not be afraid!”

As many of you, my faithful readers, know I am the daughter of a woman who daily struggles with mental health issues. I have seen the ways she has suffered because of the stigma associated with the illness. But more than anything she is one of the most faith filled women that I know! She exudes joy in so many ways!

My mom has reminded me and continually reminds me that there is hope! Hope does come out of the pain and sadness. Light can and does emerge from the darkness! God walks with us when we are afraid! (Remember the “Footprints in the Sand”)

Together we can cling to the promise of God’s words when he says “Do not be afraid!” It is important for us to walk with and offer hope to those who are emerged in the darkness of addiction etc. So often we fear what the world has shown us yet the worlds view is not the reality of life. Many daily live with addiction and mental health issues because they have received the proper care.

So let us not be the first to jump to conclusions of what we have seen. Rather let us share our stories of hope and resurrection. Let us cling to Jesus’ words “Do not be afraid!”

Sunday Blessings 44

(1) PK asking me to read the Scripture at one of our parishioners funeral today

(2) A sweet compliment from a youth saying that I’m awesome and “real!” Makes me feel good!

(3) Lunch with my favorites KG and her little mini-me, EG and CT! So thankful and blessed to have these ladies in my life.

(4) Wonderful care for Mom

(5) My friend EG who stayed with me during a hard time AND brought me a hot fudge sundae to brighten my night!

(6) Family VBS at FLC! So thankful to have an extra set of hands to help me out with the little ones tonight!

(7) The joy I get hanging out with our FLC kiddos!! They always seem to know when I need a hug etc!

(8) Being asked to pet and house sit for some friends. Having their daughter want to show me her new room when I got to their house!

(9) Friends who I can always count on and would do anything for me if they could!! Love you all!!!!!

(10) An out-of-the-blue text from a friend asking if there was any special way she could pray for me today (and there was!)

(11) A colleague/friend at work has been calling me “Smiley!” There were only two people in the entire world who I would let call me that! And one of them has passed on since college. I never thought I’d let anyone else besides those two call me “smiley” but now I guess I’ve changed my mind!!

(12) A fun Totally 80s party welcoming our new pastor and her family

(13) A nice night winding down with some great ladies at the wine bar

(14) Great FLC Bible Study at Trinity Nursing home

(15) Curled up on the couch with a dog as I am pet sitting this weekend! So fun! Beautiful day for a walk as well!

(16) Getting to visit with my momma and see how she is doing

(17) Coffee with one of my “besties”. Thanks CT!!

(18) The smile on CT’s daughters face when I told her I would come back this afternoon for her kid bday party.

(19) A great group getting PB and her family moved in

(20) A note in the fridge next to a bottle of chocolate wine that says “Drink me” at my friends house who I am house/dog sitting for!

(21) A great afternoon with my friend CT at her daughters kid birthday party!

(22) Beautiful days to take some pups for walks.

(23) Not sure if I can believe it! But the other day the scale said 209.5 and today it was 207. Could walking dogs, helping move etc cause me to shed those pounds this week?

(24) Joy in CT’s daughters faces when I stopped by for a little bit this afternoon

(25) So apparently today is National Lazy day which is good cuz I’ve been kind of lazy today. Even got a post-liturgical nap in!!

(26) Fresh cucumber and green beans from my friends garden as well as cherry tomatoes from her moms garden! I love this time of the year—fresh produce from the garden.

(27) Getting to talk to one of my best guy friends on the phone. Thanks MW!!

Friday Fivin' It

1. First, take a moment to pray. Gracious God, thank you for all you have created. Thank you for all the ways you provide for us. Guide us as you send us out into the world to be “blessed to be a blessing!” Amen.

2. What is one thing you have been thinking about doing this summer? Well, can you still take an hour/afternoon/day/overnight to still make it happen? I’ve actually done most of the things that I’ve wanted to do. Probably the one thing I haven’t is pool time! I def should make this happen before summer is over!

3. Give a shout-out to someone who has been a blessing/kick in your pants/good friend/joy/a great silliness in your life lately. Oh this one is so easy! I have been incredibly blessed with some amazing friendships. I miss my friends from NWMN. They have blessed me in so many ways. But right now I’m sooo thankful for KW, EG, KG and CT! These women are so incredibly amazing and I’m so thankful for each of them. Love you guys!!!

4. Leaf-blowers or vacuum cleaners? Which is the most annoying sound to you? Hmmm I guess if I have to pick one. I would say leaf-blowers.

5. Is there a song of the summer this year? Last year it was Happy, right? Do you have a song of your summer? Or mix? Or just a great recommendation? There are many! Since my sister and I saw Florida Georgia Line in concert, Cruise would be up on the top of my list. Also any of Brad Paisleys songs since we saw him in concert too!

I usually have my car radio tuned to the Christian stations. My song of the summer has to be “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective Experiment.

BONUS: Share a rambling thought or visual of wisdom, humor, holiness, reality, absurdity or joy.

Holiness—Sun setting over the St Louis arch Feb 2014

The Sneakiness of Guilt

Guilt is one of those feelings that we don’t like feeling. It causes us to feel bad about ourselves and the actions we have or have not committed! Guilt can easily wrap it’s way into our head, heart and mind! And as a good ol’ Lutheran, guilt creeps so easily in that we don’t always realize that it’s there.

I’ll admit that I’m the first one to let guilt sneak in. And this week I’ll admit has been a week where I’ve especially felt that guilt more than usual.

As a daughter of someone who daily struggles with a mental illness, I am harder on myself than anyone else when she is not doing well. When I can’t get up to see her every day, I start giving myself the biggest guilt trip! When I try to go visit her and get turned around because it was dark the other night and I’m not sure where the hospital is, I heap guilt upon guilt on myself! And I feel guilt when I wonder how others perceive my actions; not understanding how stressful the situation can be for me! In all actuality, guilt knows me way to well!!

Yet I know that guilt shouldn’t and won’t have the final word! I will get to see her! I will continually remind myself that guilt isn’t what defines me! Only my family and I truly understand our story!

In the end, God wants me to know that there is hope. That I shouldn’t be so hard on myself! (And you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself either) I need to be gentle with myself (and you with yourself too ) because guilt doesn’t have the final word, God does!!!

Some days that is easier said than done for me to trust in. Yet God understands and knows my heart! God proclaims hope and peace for me; through family, and prayer warrior friends, and so many who walk this journey with me!