A Collector of Words and Friendships

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Collect.” We’d love to have you join us on Thursday nights for our Twitter party. Don’t forget to check out FMF’s new home at http://fiveminutefriday.com. 

As a little girl, I would take paper and pencil collecting words onto the page; telling stories through the words collected. There was a story about a giraffe who cheered up a little girl. There were so many stories told through the words scattered onto the piece of paper.

I’ve always been a word collector. Collecting words that would form into sentences which would form into paragraphs which then would collect into a full story. Words that continually capture how I’m feeling at any one time or place. Or sometimes those words collect into stanzas which form into poems.

Today my words are often collected and shared here. My words from one of my Write 31 days series collected into my first self-published book. Collected words are a powerful reminder of our stories. Stories told through the words collected and poured out into a blog post or a book etc. Stories told through colorful vibrant language collected for one another.

So many collected stories and words have blessed me with a collection of amazing friends. Many gathered in Kansas City this weekend for our 2nd FMF retreat. Wishing I was gathered around the table and breaking bread with you all as you collect words and  memories.

Perhaps one day I’ll grab my car keys, hop in my car, and collect my friends along the way. I’ll pick up Janel, Marie, Susan, Tammy, Jordan, Carolina, Christina, Stephanie, and so many others. We will road trip Thelma and Louise style (without the bad stuff). Together, we will collect more stories, more memories and most of all more words. Words that God gifted us to share.

Be Still….

I sat in a paddle boat with my friend as we let it float along. An adult coloring book on my lap. Then we help water plants along their farm and then pick pinecones. After awhile, we sit on her deck and paint our nails followed but a craft project; making prayer jars. The afternoon was finished by heading to a local lake where we sat and let the sun soak in. It was a day of pure relaxation.

Throughout this summer, I have been searching for these moments. These moments that remind us of the words that Jesus spoke “Be still and know that I am God!” Too often in life, we get caught up in the busyness of life; trying to care for ourselves and/or our families. And more often than we care to admit, we forget to take time to just be; to savor our time with those we love and soak in the solitude of God’s creation.

And then life comes at us HARD! We lose our job. A family member suddenly dies and leaves behind their family. An unexpected change and so much more. We find ourselves living in liminal space; that uncertain space between then, now, and what’s to come. It is in these moments that I find myself clinging to the promise of hope and peace that only Jesus can give. A peace that passes all human understanding.

This peace can be found in the most unexpected places. It can be found in the friends who show up and won’t take no for an answer. It can be found in sitting in a paddleboat floating in a slough. It can be found in the Kleenex bringers. It can be found in the silence and beauty of a new dawn rising or the sun setting. It can also be found in those who cheer you along as you hike up a mountain; trying to hike further than you have ever hiked.  It is in the coolest double rainbow you’ve ever seen in your 38 years of life. It can be found just anywhere if we take the time to look for it.

This summer, I have found myself lifting my prayers to God like incense rising. But more than that, I have found more moments of hope, stillness and peace than I could have ever imagined. Moments that sustain me on the hard days and that are also stored away for the hard days yet to come. It is these moments that remind me continually of who and whose I am and that I’ll never be left alone.

And the truth is, my friends, you will never be left alone either. Find time to just be; to know that Jesus is truly human and truly divine. “Be still and know that I am God!” In the silence and stillness, in those moments of peace, know that God is there. God will never leave you or forsake you. And God is especially there when it feels your world is falling apart all around you. Look around and see the signs of God’s goodness; sunflowers, a summer day, the sun setting and rising, a double rainbow and so much more.

Linking up with Anita and Inspire Me Monday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for Your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories. 

 

 

Sunday Blessings 180

(1) Calls from Aunt P and Dad

(2) Another great mentor session

(3) Seeing old camp friends. It was so great to see you CG!

(4) Cucumber Salad

(5) Zumba!!

(6) Some much needed rain…but we still need more.

(7) A great day with EG-Paddle boating, painting our nails, making prayer jars, hanging out at Strawberry Lake!

(8) A Vox from AR

(9) Texting with my faves

(10) Finding some great deals at Herbergers and getting a few things I needed.

(11) Starbucks new infused teas! Yum!!!

(12) A floor fan

(13) Time with CT

(14) The new Starbucks Citrus Peach Tea Infusion. It’s my new fave!!

(15) Getting to see KL, hug her and catch up a little.

(16) Rock of Ages MSU Summer Theater. So much fun!

(17) Helping KG usher at Summer Theater.

(18) A new baby! Congrats AT, ZT and big brother TT!

(19) A second night at Summer Theater. Getting to hang with RE.

(20) Storms rolling in but we still got to see the whole show. Thankful!

Gifts of Comfort

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Comfort.” We’d love to have you join us on Thursday nights for our Twitter party. Don’t forget to check out FMF’s new home at http://fiveminutefriday.com

A blue and green floral quilt made with love. A green and white quilt made with love. A yellow quilt also made with love. A fluffy cuddly oversized blanket given with love. These are the four blankets/quilts that sit on the edge of my couch. Each of them given to me by special people.

The green and white quilt was chosen specifically for me by the lovely quilt ladies of Dilworth LUtheran Church. They chose it because they know my favorite color is green. A special tag sewn onto the corner of the quilt “made with tender loving care by Dilworth Lutheran quilters.”

The yellow quilt was made by a dear friend given to me as a thank you for being a part of her ordination service. Another quilt given and made with love.

The cuddly white blanket given as a Christmas gift from some of our favorite people. They are more like family than friends. I have married one of their daughters and her husband. I consider them to be my adopted nieces and nephews. Another gift given with love.

The blue and green floral quilt with a completely green gingham background also given with love by the quilters of First Lutheran. I came down to their room and quilts were strewn all over. They asked me to choose my own quilt. This was the quilt that jumped out at me. A tag also sewn on the corner too with the words “made with tender loving care by First Lutheran.”

Each of these beloved gifts bring me comfort and continually remind me of the warmth of God’s love. That no matter where I go, I will always be wrapped in a community of faith.

My June Recap

So many of my friends are sharing what they are up too during this past month. I thought I’d join in with the fun. I love my friend Susan’s list so that’s what I’m I using today.

Loving: Summertime. Sunshine. The Colorado Rocky Mountains. The Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. Lake Sakakawea. Starbucks Cool Lime Refreshers. Friends and Family. Hope. Ellie Holcomb. Hiking.

Reading: Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamotte.

Shopping for: A new job, housing, etc!

Excited about: New possibilities. Time with some of my fave people.

Trying to: Processing through some hard things. Praying hard.

Working on: working out and doing Zumba!

Enjoying: Life!

Using: My IPad!

Wearing: Shorts and tees, leggings rolled to capris and an Irma, or a sundress

Planning: Our Sisters Trip to Chicago and the ND State Fair in July

Singing: Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road

Needing: New job

Learning: Sometimes life’s not fair! Adulting is hard!

Listening to: I seriously cannot get enough of Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road

Wishing for: A new job!

Doing: Rest. Renewal. Rejuvenation.

Dreaming: About being a mom!

Hoping for: New opprtunities soon.

DIY project: Fixing the small crack in my bathtub.

Not crazy about: I can’t think of anything

Colorado was just what this girl needed last month. It was so renewing and healing for me. Below are pictures from that trip. My friend Heidi gifted me a new camera so I was having so much fun taking puctures. God’s beautiful creation is so evident in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains.

 

   

   

Sunday Blessings 179

(1) A treat after taking CS to the airport.

(2) A sweet text from EG this morning

(3) Texting with KG

(4) A Coke Icee

(5) Dog sitting with Sonny and Lucy

(6) Texting with KB

(7) Getting back to Curves

(8) A Vox from MG

(9) Seeing a “bazzinga” license plate. Love it!!

(10) A phone call from D.C. to check in with me.

(11) 4th of July Festival Fun

(12) Hanging with KG

(13) A great phone call with DT

(14) A Vox from MG

(15) Finding goodies at the Farmers Market.

(16) Watching Moana for the 1st time

(17) The sweet smell of fresh rain

(18) A phone call with PMA

(19) Awesome amazing friends who pray with and for you.

(20) Love!!

Godly Play of Creation

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Play.” It’s been so good to get back. I’ve missed you all! We’d love to have you join us on Thursday nights for our Twitter party. Don’t forget to  check out FMF’s new home at http://fiveminutefriday.com.

In college, I aduitioned for the Diary of Anne Frank. One of my professors; the director had me pegged as Anne Frank’s mom from the very beginning. And it was the role I was cast in. Image me….a kind hearted person who hardly ever gets mad playing Anne’s mom; the complete opposite. Throughout the play, I had to raise my voice. In theater, one must become the character one portrays. It often can be a challenge; a challenge that one is glad to work towards.

Challenges can happen in many and various ways. Last week, I challenged myself to climb to the top of the mountain. It was something I worked towards for the last year. I didn’t quite make it to the very top. But I came so so close. There is something so holy about being in the Rocky Mountains. A freedom unlike any other.

A friend always encourages us to play while we are in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. “Get out and play!” I always strive to do just that. At Lilly Lake, I come around the bend and am stopped in my tracks as I see ducks sunning themselves in the grass. One even lets me get so close that I get an amazing picture. The wildlife loves to play outside too. You might spot some longhorned sheep, or a moose or an elk.

The children play on the swingset outside our meeting hall. One by one they climb up the long staircase to the top and slide down the slide. They request to be pushed higher and higher. They stand around the campfire and roast marshmallows and make s’mores for all the gathered guests. The simplicity of it all is such a beautiful gift.*

Laughter and conversation fill the air. The strum of the guitar vibrates through the air. The beauty of God’s creation set before us. The stars scattered to and fro. It is in holy moments like this when I am reminded that God created the world by saying “It was good” because God wants us to experience it all and play in his amazing creation.

*Where my five minutes stopped 

My Little Chapel on the Side of a Mountain

The plan last Monday afternoon was to climb Twin Sisters. Yet our plans were soon foiled when there was only a few of us to climb. I was determined to at least attempt something so four of us set out to attempt to climb Estes Cone. A backpack filled with nourishment and lots of water ready to reach the summit.

With hiking sticks in my hand, we set out on the path. In the opening moments, I found myself panting and trying to catch my breathe. I listened as my friends; our guides taught me to find my breathe and regulate my breathing.

Within moments, I’ll admit I felt defeated but I kept going and didn’t say too much. I was determined to fulfill my goal and to fulfill the promise I made a year earlier. Hiking along, we found a group of horses and the running waters of a stream where the old Eugenia mines used to be.

Before long, our feet carried us from switchback to switchback; winding up and down the mountain. And with each switchback, I found myself fighting off defeat and tears. However, the tears and defeat soon seemed to take over. My eyes welling up with tears as I whinely found myself repeating, “I can’t do this. Go on without me!” My friends weren’t going to let me give in though. They counted my steps. They encouraged me to pretend I was shopping. They even asked me what I would say to the youth I worked with in my life.

As we neared the top, I struggled more and more. I didn’t think I could get there. My friend Scott had gone up ahead and ended up performing first aid on a fellow hiker. As Scott came back down to meet us, I uttered the words “I’m done. I can’t go any further.” My other two friends continued up the mountain to the top while Scott and I began the trek back to the trailhead.

But not before I experienced an incredible holy moment. Scott pointed out an already made chapel on the hill. All that was missing was a cross so he made a makeshift cross. Scott went ahead while I took some time for myself. I buried a small momento of the past under the rock pile. I turned on Ellie Holcomb’s song Red Sea Road and listened as the words to her song echoed in my ear: “We’ve buried dreams, laid them deep into the earth behind us. Said our goodbyes at the grave but everything reminds us. I know sweet ache when he asks us to go on. How do we go on?”

With buried dreams, tears quickly begin streaming down my face. Like incense rising, I lift my prayers to God; a simple letting go of the past and looking towards the future. A holy cathartic cleansing captured in time and space.

I wipe the tears from my eyes as I look up to the sky. I’m so close to the top, I feel as if I can reach out and grab God’s hand. With a newfound peace, I walk to catch up to my friend Scott. In silence, we begin our decent down the mountain. Along the way, I can’t help but take in the amazingness of God’s creation. We stop and my friend points out how close to the top I was. I’m proud of how far I did come; furthest I’ve ever gone!

Soon we reach the trailhead. A few momentos of this trip are shared with me. Three different items symbolical of the triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit serving as a reminder of who and whose I am.

“You cannot stay on the summit forever,
You have to come down again…
So why bother in the first place?
Just this: what is above knows what is below;
But what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, But one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.”–Rene Dumal

A memory now engrained in my heart and soul as words spill out onto the page

A Holy Sanctuary
By Tara L. Ulrich

A makeshift cross
Set on the side of the mountain
A sanctuary set before my eyes.

A moment of silence,
Then prayers raised to God
Like incense rising.

Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road
Playing on my iPhone
As the words sink into my heart and soul;
Each word a reminder of life’s realities.

Tears begin streaming down my face,
A holy cathartic moment,
Captured in time and space;
A simple letting go of the past
And looking towards the future.

Leaving behind this holy sanctuary,
One foot is placed in front of the other
Each step a step towards new possibilities
Signs of God’s goodness all around
Until the end of the path is complete.

At the end of the path,
my eyes are lifted to the sky
As I remember who I am;
A beloved child of God
Who will never be forsaken.

A beloved child of God
Called to let go of the past
And move towards
New adventures and possibilities.

The makeshift cross
Now standing alone
On the mountain.

Im linking up with these lovelies:  Kelly and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for Your Heart, and Kristen and Porch Stories. 

 

 

 

Sunday Blessings 177 & 178; Lutheran Academy of the Rockies Edition

(1) Safe travels to Estes Park

(2) Seeing LAR friends

(3) Supper with AT

(4) A new camera and SD card. Thanks to HW

(5) Toasting with random people at Eds

(6) Walking and taking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains while listening to my current fave cd; Ellie Holcomb-Red Sea Road

(7) Listening to bird song while chilling in our cabin.

(8) Hope

(9) A beautiful walk around Lilly Lake

(10) Coming around the corner to find ducks sunning themselves on the grass.

(11) Making it all the way to Ouzel Falls. So proud of myself and there is no way the rain can put a damper on this day!!

(12) A hot shower after our walk

(13) Awesome people who encourage you and stay with you when you are bringing up the rear.

(14) Hot tea

(15) Hanging out with SJ, TJ, AJ and AJ.

(16) A sweet text from KG

(17) Baby time with MH

(18) Chili lights parties

(19) A great supper with AT, LM, SB, KB and girls. Yummy veggie lasagna!!!

(20) Texting with my fave

(21) Voxing with VF

(22) A great day with JK and her girls. The Discovery Museum, playing and lots more. Even got to see CK for a little while too.

(23) Watching the new Beauty and the Beast

(24) Hugs and kisses from A and EM

(25) Hiking with KB, SB, and JS to Estes Cone.

(26) Almost getting to the top of Estes Cone.

(27) Watching Heaven is for Real

(28) Seeing a Bull Elk and Longhorn sheep

(29) Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher

(30) Supper with AT and HG

(31) An awesome Talent Show

(32) Watching clips from Son of Man during one of our morning sessions and now wanting to see all of it.

(33) Holy cleansing tears

(34) Supper with RW and HW

(35) Friends who are family

(36) Watching a new episode of Nashville

(37) Exploring around Belle Fourche, SD

(38) Pool and spa time

(39) Cherry Coke–I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed one of these.

(40) Safe travels home!

(41) Running into RT at Target

(42) A sweet text from DC

(43) Poetry

(44) Summer Sunday Worship at Camp of the Cross. Getting to see so many wonderful people!

(45) A Sunday afternoon nap

(46) Tackling Mt Laundry

(47) YOU!!!