Tunes of my Childhood, LuLaRoe, and A Dream Fulfilled (Or What I Learned This Month)

It is time for Emily P. Freeman’s monthly linkup What I Learned This Month. I love this linkup because it reminds me to stop and reflect on the past month; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. May was an absolutely incredible month.

(1) Reminiscing and listening to songs from one of your fave childhood artists is incredible. As I sat listening to Garth Brooks, I was transported to all his songs I used to sing as a child and teenager. One of the best concerts I’ve ever been too. When he played “The Thunder Rolls” I was taken back to college and the video we made of this song for one of our broadcast journalism classes. 

(2) God has a way of affirming and nudging us the way God wants us to go. I attended my first foster and adoption informational meeting. It was a great night and I learned so much. Since that night, I have been feeling like I’m ready to take the next step. I think I’ll start with respite care. 

(3) Summer is one of my fave times of the year. And as May comes to an end, I know that summer has arrived. A Starbucks cool lime refresher, my fave book and chillin on my patio….it doesn’t get better than this! 

(4) I may not have kids of my own, but my church youth hold a special place in my heart. They each teach me so much. And I’m so proud of each of them. 

(5) I’m still obsessed with LuLaRoe! Yep, I cannot seem to be enough! Give me all the LLR! And now a friend is starting to sell so I don’t think this obsession will end any time soon. Irmas, Classic Tees, Perfect Tees, Randys, Nicoles, Julias, and leggings that feel like butter! 

(6) Reading your friends book is incredible! Thankful for Renee’s book “The Witness” that speaks to the power of resurrection and new life. My heart continues to hold the people of Haiti in my heart and prayers. Thankful to Renee and Jon for sharing their story with all of us. Thankful and blessed to call them my friends. 

(7) It never fails but every time I share my family’s story of mental illness I cry. Tears are indicative of all my momma has taught me in the midst of her illness. 

(8) I am not broken! And neither are you, my single friends! 

(9) But most of all I learned that dreams really do come true. As a writer, I’ve always wanted to write my own book. And this month, I finally self-published my first book; a compilation of my Write 31 Days series from 2014 “Living as a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness.” To be honest, I’m feeling every emotion. I don’t know whether to cry or jump for joy. My hope and prayer is that this book will be a blessing and help stop the stigma around mental illness. You can find the link to purchase your copy here: Living as a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness

I cannot wait to see what June brings! 

Sunday Blessings 129

(1) A sweet gift from one of my Confirmation kiddos.

(2) Blue Apron Soy Glazed Meatballs

(3) Some much needed rain

(4) The smell of fresh Spring rain

(5) A first draft of my sermon completed by Wednesday.

(6) My new Plunder design necklace. Love it!!

(7) JM tweeting me to let me know that CN was live showing us new LLR clothes! Yes!!!!

(8) An umbrella on a rainy day

(9) Friends who read your sermon and give great suggestions to make it better.

(10) Finishing my friend Renee’s book “A Witness”

(11) Starbucks Strawberries and Cream Frappucino

(12) Guy from the landscape company coming to take a look at my yard.

(13) Clean bedding

(14) Graduation open houses. Proud of these youth.

(15) Brunch with church peeps and being treated to my meal.

(16) Sitting on my patio, reading, drinking my cool lime refresher and feeling the sun on my face.

(17) A Vox from MG

(18) Periscoping with my friend STM

(19) Mandy Hale’s The Single Woman on Kindle for $2.99

Where Everyone Knows Your Name!

My fingers were tapping like crazy tonight; jumping between the Five Minute Friday Twitter party and my Plunder Design party on Facebook. The FMF party is one of my favorite things in the world. This community of bloggers have become some of my dearest friends. You hold a piece of my heart and always will. We would love to have you join us for the five minute Friday free write. 

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “cheer.”

When I first read Kate’s word prompt, I kept wanting to put an “s” on the end of her word making it cheers rather than just cheer. Does anyone else remember the tv show “Cheers?” I grew up watching that show. There was Norm, Sam, Cliff, Diane, Woody and others. They gathered at the bar Cheers “where everyone knows your name,”

That is what I loved about the show. It was a community where people gathered together because “everyone knew their name,” I love places where people know my name too.  The FMF community has become that for me. We have prayed with and for Andrew. We have rejoiced with  Tammy and the baptism of her girls. We have cried with each other. We have laughed with each other–even if it has just been on the interwebs.

These people and this place bring cheer into my life. I am so very thankful for the people and places that know my name and who know your name too. But ultimately it is God who knows us by name. God calls and claims us in the waters of baptism naming each of us “children of God.” “You are a baptized child of God, whatever else you are; remember that you are that for that is the basis of whatever else you are!”

I lift my glass and give thanks for all the cheer and blessings that God brings into our lives. So cheers to everyone who knows us by name. Cheers for those who have fought for our freedom. Cheers for stories that remind us of the power of the resurrection and new life. Cheers to God’s love and grace in our lives. Cheers for each and every one of YOU!

Learning Who I Am

Last Thursday, I opened my mailbox to find a proof copy of my book. (You can read that post here: When You Hold A Proof Copy In Your Hands). In a moment of pure excitement, I took a picture and pasted it to my Facebook wall. Little did I know how many of my friends and family would react immediately to that picture. It was so overwhelming!! At last count, 293 likes, loves or wows; 77 comments and 3 shares. I am not posting those #s to “toot my own horn” but rather to share with you the power in God’s overwhelming amazing grace.

Have you ever realized how incredible it is to have people cheering you on; to have others who see your gifts and point them out to you; to be showered with the same overwhelming grace and love of God? The other day, a friend posted a quote from Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber; pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. The quote read “If you see something in someone and you suspect they don’t see it, it is your duty to tell them. That is speaking the truth in love.”

Speaking the truth in love is something we aren’t always good at, is it? Yet God calls us to do just that. God calls us to surround each other and shower each other with God’s love in the midst of our joys and sorrows. God calls us to continually speak the truth in love to one another. Speaking the truth in love is telling that high school senior the gifts you see in him or her. Speaking the truth in love is telling that new mom who needs to hear it that she is doing an awesome job with her new child. Speaking the truth in love is telling someone that it absolutely takes more guts to stick with it. Speaking the truth in love is identifying and sharing with your friends and family the amazing gifts you see in them.

Seminary was not an easy journey for me. In fact, there were more days than I care to admit that I came home to my dorm room, collapsed onto my couch; completely defeated. And other days, when the tears simply wouldn’t stop flowing. Was I really being called to this time and place? Were there really these gifts in me? And then one day it all changed…it changed when my seminary advisor spoke the truth in love to me. It changed when my professors saw my gifts and used them to help me pass my classes. It changed when my friends opened my eyes, ears, and even heart to the depth of the amazing gifts God has given me.

One of those gifts has always been writing. When I was little, my mom often said I was happy with a pen and paper and not toys. I wanted to create my own characters and plot lines. Yet it took me a long time to fully see that gift in myself. I may have graduated with a Communications degree and English minor. I may have always loved writing poetry. But it wasn’t until someone turned and reflected my words; my gifts back to me that I truly saw those gifts in myself.

In the waters of Baptism, I was called and claimed as a precious child of God. And as those waters cascaded over my head, I was named “Tara Lee, child of God, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter, compassionate one, sweet child of mine, writer.” When I remember these gifts, I am reminded who and whose I am. I am reminded that with each droplet of water poured on my head, as a beloved child of God, God has indeed called and claimed me as a writer; one who pours out her heart and soul through words; words that first began when God sent Jesus into the world for each and every one of us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”–John 1:1

And when I am fully able to trust in that promise; knowing who and whose I am, I can fully declare that I am “Tara Lee, child of God, sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, compassionate one, sweet child of God, writer.”

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. 


Sunday Blessings 128

(1) ND Asia leftovers

(2) EG and BG visiting me in my office. EG loved my dancing flower.

(3) Talking to Gma and Gpa on the phone.

(4) A Vox from TM

(5) Running into JH at the grocery store.

(6) The Hope*Writers Summit (Loving the videos)

(7) Getting to hold two babies!!!!

(8) Our End of the Year Celebration

(9) A Vox from MG

(10) Getting to hold baby Rhoda.

(11) A great colleague luncheon

(12) Holding a proof copy of my book in my hand. So surreal and a tad overwhelmed by everyone cheerleading for me.

(13) A congrats text from my friend EG

(14) Treating myself to a new piece of jewelry.

(15) A message from a member at my previous call and finding out we have a FB friend in common.

(16) My friend creating a new hashtag for me #LutheranCreative

(17) Texting with my dear friend MW

(18) Cinnamon Gummy Bears

(19) Reading on my patio on a gorgeous day with my fave Starbucks Refresher.

(20) A congrats text from my friend STM

(21) Brunch with church peeps

(22) A PLN

(23) Dairy Queen Cookie Dough Blizzard

(24) Running into MS and JS this morning at brunch.

(25) YOU!!!

The Church and Mental Illness

“There are so many board and care facilities in the shadows of our steeples and we don’t even know they are there.” These very words jumped off the page at me as I researched my final paper for my Loss and Grief class during seminary. How often do these words ring true for the church? How can the church be better about reaching out to those who daily struggle with one of the many mental health issues in our world?

I’m over at Anita’s sharing about a topic near and dear to my heart. Join me Here!

Unexpected Expectations

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “expect.”

I never expected that seminary would be a part of my journey. But that is exactly where God sent me. That part of my story is something that I never expected and yet it changed me in so many ways.
This past Sunday was graduation at Wartburg Theological Seminary.One of my FB friends shared a picture of the castle and her feelings as she left that place. I shared that it was not what I expected either but it is a place that holds a special place in my heart and always will. I never expected to make some of the most amazing friends. I never expected to have professors and friends who would be my biggest cheerleaders. It was not what I expected, but it was what God had in store for me.
To this day, I look back and thank God for my seminary journey. It is something that I never would have expected, yet it is a part of my story that is a huge part of who I am. It also is the place where I grew as a woman of faith. It is the place that helped me realize I could do anything in this world…including living out my own dreams.
Today I opened my mailbox to find a proof copy of my 2014 Write 31 Days series now in book form. I never expected that overwhelming amount of love I would get for this book. I never expected the mixed emotions I would feel. It was so surreal. I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or let the tears flow. And let’s be honest, anyone who knows me knows what I wanted to do.
*I held that book in my hands. I ran my fingers over the cover. I held my book in the palm of my hands. All of a sudden an expected dream was realized. I may never psychically hold a baby in my own belly. But as a pregnant mother awaits and expects the birth of her child, I too waited and expected a dream to come true…and that it did. 
I don’t know what to expect next, but I am so thankful that I am not on this journey alone. Most of all, I am thankful that I can expect God to always journey with me.
*This is where my five minutes ended 

When You Hold A Proof Copy In Your Hands….

I pulled the cardboard folder out of my mailbox. I immediately tore into that folder and removed a copy of my book…yes, I said a copy of my book. In October of 2014, I participated in my first ever Write 31 Days challenge. My series was titled “Being a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness.” After much prayer, I decided to make this series into a book. There are so many who need to hear and learn about mental illness and mental health.

So today I found myself holding a proof copy of that book.
My fingers ran over the smooth cover of my book….
My fingers paged through and glanced at every page…
My eyes looked and saw my name on the cover.

Then I grabbed my phone and took a picture. I first posted it to Facebook and then a few minutes later posted it to my Instagram account. And within moments, I was feeling overwhelmed; overwhelmed at the number of people who were joining with me in celebration of this book. I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh, or jump for joy or cry. (Let’s be honest here, friends…what do you think I did?)

Before Christmas, I felt the nudge from God to write a book. This book I hold in my hand is NOT that book, but is a book I feel others do need to read. The other book “Chasing our Untils” is still in the works. But this book…this book…that I hold today in my hands is a gift…a gift that I hope will bless so many. It is my prayer that by telling my families story, I will help to educate and break the stigma around mental illness.

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to write a book. My mom said I was one of those kids who was happy with pen and paper rather than a toy. To be honest, I may never be a best-selling author, but that is totally ok with me. Because this isn’t about me. It is about sharing the story of mental illness and bringing about mental health awareness in this world. It is about a God who never leaves us or forsakes us. It is about a God who loves each and every one of us unconditionally and has created us each as unique beings “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is about a God who loved us so much that God sent God’s one and only Son into the world for each and everyone of us. It is about a God who sees our dreams come true!

And today, I especially see that before my eyes…as I hold a proof copy of my own book in my own hands!

I am linking up with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer at Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday!


Sunday Blessings 127

(1) A member giving me a heavy winter coat of hers.

(2) A call from a publishing company

(3) Leftover pizza sent home with me.

(4) Compliments on my outfit. Of course, I was wearing all LuLaRoe!!

(5) A text from my friend EG

(6) Supper with EG.

(7) Leftovers sent home with me.

(8) Texting with STM

(9) Several college graduation open houses.

(10) Tackling Mt. Laundry

(11) Flowers to brighten my table. So pretty!!

(12) Mint Chocolate frapp from Caribou.

(13) Awesome Senior Sunday at church

(14) Chatting with a friend online.

(15) Planting our church community garden.

(16) My new water bottle with diffuser. I love it. Today’s fruit of choice is strawberries.
(17) Supper with KG and Little Miss

(18) Choir concert with KG and Little Miss

(19) Watermelon

(20) YOU!!

Baby Calves, Fresh Tomatoes and Growing Up

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “grow.”

The wheat stalks blowing in the prairie wind….
The sunflowers bright yellow, turning towards the sun….
Potatoes sprouting out of the ground…

These images are engrained in my mind as the seeds that my Dad, Uncle, Aunt, and Grandpa plant during this time of the year begin to grow later in the summer months. I’m also reminded of the baby calves that are born during this season too! Feeding a baby calf a bottle helps that calf to grow.

Besides the fields and baby calves, I love to watch the items that are planted in our gardens. The fresh produce that soon is set upon our table. I cut into the red juicy tomato; sprinkle it with salt and enjoy this luscious tomato. Sometimes the best BLTs are made from those tomatoes too. There is nothing I like more than a luscious red tomato grown and picked fresh.

Life is all about growth. Have you ever thought about how much you have grown over your lifetime? I look at my baby pictures, my high school pictures, my camp pictures, my seminary pictures and now my pictures from today. It’s obvious that I have changed in looks, but I also have grown and changed in so many other ways. I’m reminded of how sometimes it takes more guts to stick with it. I think of all the people who share with me how they have seen me grow and mature over the years. It truly is a gift; a gift to know that as we grow God journeys with us.

This gift that begins at birth and journeys with us throughout our lives. As a lover of infants, I love watching babies and children grow. One of my most favorite things in the world is to hold an infant in my arms. (Katie, I so wanted to hold your precious infant when you scoped with us and introduced her to us today) I am reminded of how one of the families my sister and I used to babysit for and how they are now getting married and having babies themselves. They have grown up. I am so proud of the men and women they have become.

Growth is a precious season of life. It is a season that reminds us that growth is a natural part of life. Tonight I was watching an old episode of How I Met Your Mother when Lilly said to Marshall “We need to grow up!” The truth is we all need to grow up. But sometimes, I believe, its  ok to relive our childhood as long as we remember to grow up.