Expiration Dates, Photo Books, Yummy Pastries and Two Mini American Flags

When it comes to expiration dates on food in my fridge, I am a little obsessive. I tend not to keep things beyond their expiration date even if it is safe to keep them. But when it comes to memories, I am a keeper. I love making photo books especially ShutterFly photo books. Memories are dear to me.

Last week I experienced so many wonderful memories. I got to snuggle baby Lucy for the first time. I seriously could not get enough of her baby snuggles. Baby Lucy and her mom are two important people in my life and their friendship is something I treasure and  dearly want to keep in my life along with many other friends.

Lucy, her mom, and many other friends and I also found the cutest little pastry shop. The desserts were so scrumptious. I indulged in a piece of mini carrot cake, a lemon poppyseed muffin and my favorite; the most amazing German Chocolate Torte. I ended up having to leave a few items behind at the hotel but there was no way I could keep them all the way home.

And on the last day, a friend and I were in the food court of the Renaissance center when I walked around the corner to peak at one of the restaurants menus. An African American man was sitting at a booth and noticed my Nebraska Cornhusker tshirt. He called me over to his table. He asked what I knew about Nebraska and I told him I was there for a youth conference. He proceeded to dig in his pocket and gave me not one, but two mini American flags. He told me that he was a Vietnam vet. He gave me the flags and asked me to give him a donation. I told him that I didnt have any cash on me and told him that I would have to come back. I handed the flags over to him but he told me to keep them anyways. Later I came back and he was already gone. I am planning on going online to give to the veterans association for this stranger I met.

Sadly I was not able to keep the flags because they were made out of toothpicks and I knew that they would not make it through airport security. But that memory is engrained in my mind along with many other wonderful memories!

Throwing My Fears in the Fire

God has a way of showing up in the most unexpected ways.

I hadn’t checked my blog or my email for a few days last week since I was attending the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. I wanted my time in Detroit to be dedicated to spending quality time with old and new friends alike.

But one afternoon during a break, I decided to take a quick peak at my blog. I noticed that I had a comment on one of my posts where the individual asked me to email him. So on my way home from the E, I sent him a quick email. The man that emailed me was Cameron Von St. James. Cameron had stumbled upon my blog and asked if I would participate in sharing about his and his wife Heather’s journey as well as share about Lung Leavin Day.

In his email Cameron wrote, “Nine years ago, my wife Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma; a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Heather had just given birth to our daughter, and during the most exciting time in our lives, she was given just 15 months to live. After surgery to remove her left lung, Heather began her journey towards survival, and Lung Leavin’ Day was born.”

He then continues with, “This year (Feb 2nd) will be the 9th Lung Leavin’ Day celebration! The purpose of this holiday is to encourage others to face their fears. Each year, we gather around a fire in our backyard with our friends and family, write our biggest fears on a plate and smash them into the fire. We celebrate for those who are no longer with us, for those who continue to fight, for those who are currently going through a tough time in their life, and most importantly, we celebrate life!” (Learn more here: Throw Your Fears to the Fire!)

Cameron asked me to write about my fears, to write it on a virtual plate and then to smash it in the fire with them. As many of you know my #oneword365 for 2015 is “brave” and when I read Cameron’s email, I knew this was a perfect opportunity for me to be “brave.”

My fingers danced across the keyboard as I typed on the plate on their interactive page. I typed the words “I am afraid I will never be a mom.” Yep…there I said it! In fact I literally wrote those words on my interactive plate.  I even went back and typed more words on a second plate that read “beginning the adoption journey.” I so deeply yearn to be a mom and there are days I am afraid that God doesn’t hear my pleas. I am afraid that these dreams will never come true for me. Yet adoption and/or foster care are two things that I have been praying about and have given completely over to God.

Today I am choosing to follow Heather and Cameron’s examples, I am choosing to write down those fears and to throw them into the fire. I’ll admit it feels good to write them down and give them wholeheartedly over to God. I am not sure what God has in store for me, but I do know that God will help me overcome these fears. I know that God will give me the strength to journey trusting in him as he holds my heart.

I have so many friends who continually remind me that I will be an awesome mom. They also don’t think God would give me these deep yearnings if it wasn’t going to happen for me. Yet it is something that still scares me. I want to find my Mr. Right and be a Mom so deeply. (Anyone who knows me knows I love every chance I get to hold a baby.)

So I’m throwing my fears into the hot fire and am leaning into God as God holds my heart

Sacred Community (#ext15)

Take two!!

This was only my second time attending the E, but there is something so incredibly holy about this time. I didn’t even know what I was missing, but now I can’t get enough of it.

My friend ST had been trying to get me to come to the E for FOREVER! And my German Russian stubbornness got in the way until last year. And now the E is a priority for me.

The E totally is a well that refills my empty cup. It gives me new life as I spend holy sacred time with amazing people. The E simply restores my soul.

This year a friend and I decided to gather together a gathering of Word and Service folk to talk about the proposed changes to our roster in 2016. I honestly thought we would just get a few and we had almost twenty. It was such holy time for me.

One morning a FB friend and I even met in real life. I was humbled and awed that she called me her mentor. Craziness!! Again sacred holy time!

I spent tons of time with friends from all different times and places in my life. As we talked about story, I was reminded of how these people were and continue to be a part of my story as our paths crossed. Yet again sacred holy time.

It’s hard to put into words what this community means to me. It is a community that forever will connect different times and places in my life. It is a community that will always welcome me and YOU (my dear youth worker friends, volunteers, etc) with open arms.

It is a community that I know will wipe my tears in my moments of deep sadness and will rejoice with me in those moments of overwhelming joy!

It is a community that sees my gifts; sees your gifts and continually encourages me; you to use those gifts. Sometimes this community names these gifts before we even see them in ourselves.

This community, my friends, is an amazing holy gift to each other and to our wider church. Thank you for inviting me, welcoming me and showing me the power of community. May many others find this community and join us in our story together.

Sunday Blessings 67

(1) My friend CT texting me a pic of a cat they are going to adopt. And letting me know she put me down as a reference at the shelter. So excited for them!!

(2) A great trip to Detroit

(3) Running into so many amazing friends and meeting new ones.

(4) Great Practice Discipleship training

(5) Meeting Baby Lucy for the first time

(6) Meeting a FB friend in real life

(7) Listening to GirlWithBlog speak at #Ext15

(8) North Dakota lunch with great people at the E

(9) Astoria Pastry Shop; German chocolate torte, mini carrot cake, and lemon poppyseed muffins.

(10) Watching the Super Bowl with friends

(11) Riding the people mover for the first time in Detroit

(12) A great group at the Exploring Diakonia at the E dinner. Great conversation with great people.

(13) Awesome Super Bowl commercials

(14) CT doing me a favor and picking me up at the airport tomorrow night

(15) There are so many more I could post so I’m just simply going to close by saying: the E!!!