Sunday Blessings 224

(1) Texting with my faves

(2) Being on launch teams. Thanks JB! Your book is a message that the world needs to hear.

(3) New yummy teas from Chelsea Market.

(4) A visit from SW and his family. So fun!

(5) My Luna kitty!!

(6) MJ being G tube free!!

(7) Chokecherry Festival Fun

(8) Catching up on my shows.

(9) Tackling Mt. Laundry

(10) UMM Sweet Corn Festival

(11) Getting to see people I haven’t seen in forever. Good to see PD and MH!

(12) Water on an extremely hot day!

(13) Laughter

(14) Baby smiles!!

A Woman

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “woman.” It has been weeks since I’ve been able to participate. I’ve missed this group of friends. We’d love to have you join us. 

Her hands tell the stories of how much she has loved and been loved. Her eyes carry with her the laughter and tears of a life well lived. Her face carried the worry lines of all the worry she has carried over her life. She is a woman who has taught me so much about love; unconditional love.

This woman is my momma. Our momma who has lived most of my life with a mental illness. Even though she lives with this illness, she embodies Christ’s love to all she encounters. She seriously would give the shirt of of her back to someone in need. She lives a life of faith that has carried her through life’s ups and downs. She embodies the power and grace God has bestowed upon her.

I hope that I someday I am half the mom she has been to my sister and I. I hope that I am half the woman she is today and every day!

Sunday Blessings 223 (Vacation Mode)

(1) NYC trip!

(2) Time with Aunt N and Uncle B

(3) The tour lady on the Big Bus Tour. She was insane!

(4) Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

(5) Getting to catch up and have an adult beverage with MR in NYC.

(6) Sleeping after a very long day of walking.

(7) Good tour guides.

(8) Wicked on Broadway!!

(9) Keith Urban on the Today Show

(10) The Bronx Zoo with sis

(11) Umbrellas!

(12) Good flights home.

(13) KK picking Ann and I up at the airport and taking us to my house.

(14) Playing with Luna

(15) Twinings Lemon and Ginger Tea

(16) A beautiful PLN!!

Sunday Blessings 222

(1) Awesome Sunday.

(2) Fun mail from SS

(3) A great mutual ministry committee meeting.

(4) Luna!!!!

(5) Great conversation.

(6) My amazing Twitter family!

(7) Much needed rain!

(8) A guest post submission for the Mudroom picked to be featured there.

(9) Playing with Luna

(10) Summer Nights on Main with sissy

(11) Cole Swindell concert

(12) The joy on KMs face when she saw me.

(13) Seeing lots of FLC Minot peeps

(14) Florida Georgia Line meet and Greet and concert. Thanks EG!

(15) A beautiful PLN!!

(16) Laughter because I was sitting on top of a sprinkler and got pretty wet.

(17) Allowing space for youth to grieve

(18) Sleep!!

(19) Coffee with DA from LSS

(20) UMM VBS Staff

(21) A great VBS program! Such a great week!!

(22) Deja Brew Italian Soda

(23) Another summer Nights with sissy

(24) Fun with Luna!!

(25) Dierks Bentley concert.

(26) Finding out a few of the 2019 concerts for the fair.

(27) Caramel Apple

(28) Snapchatting with RRS

(29) Running into WB at the fair.

(30) My own washer and dryer

(31) KD taking us to the airport

(32) NYC fun!

The Way

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “way.” We would love to have you join us. 

Numb= “unable to think, feel, or react normally because of something that shocks or upsets you : indifferent.” Ive been numb with grief this year. Too many friends lost way too soon.

I’m not sure I can go down this road again anytime soon. The way of grief is hard. It can lead you down a straight path but then all of a sudden it curves or an obstacle pops right in front of you. The way of grief is necessary though. It gives us space to remembe and grieve.

But the way of grief and death often are so hard. It comes way too quickly. And the way often leads to numbness. We cant believe we are burying another friend. We can’t see the hope in the midst of death. Its a way that we desperately want God to lead us too.

Death is a part of life but so often we don’t want to experience it. We would so much rather have our friends and loved ones here with us. But death is a part of life. God so loved the world God sent God’s one and only son for us. It’s a reminder that life not death has the final world. For it is in Jesus we are reminded that he is the way, the truth and the life; the only way that leads to eternal life.

The Beauty of Never Letting Go

The tears are sitting on the surface. I can feel them welling up in my eyes. But today, I don’t want them to come. I would much rather they stay hidden from the rest of the world. But then reality sets in. I think back over the last year and begin to list all the grief I have experienced: the end of a call, the deaths of several friends (Justin, Ben, and Rachel). No wonder the tears come so easily these days.

Walking into the sanctuary, several of us grab each other’s hands. It is a moment that just feels right. Hand holding sometimes is just the comfort we need. I am reminded of a picture my friend AR shared of her two beautiful girls. The two little girls holding hands. They had held hands to cross the street and simply forgot to let go. How often do we forget to let go too? The truth is that sometimes hand holding feels just right. The grasp of someone else’s hand in your own; the touch of a friend’s hand on your back as the tears are so heavy and you feel you cannot catch your breath. It is these simple moments that continually remind us of the beauty of the body of Christ God places in our lives.

In the midst of my own tears, I stand in the sanctuary as we say goodbye to our friend Rachel. Slowly the line moves until we reach Rachel’s casket. Several of us look at each other and one of my friends says, “I think we should do this together.” So several of us crowd around Rachel’s casket; the tears leaking from our eyes as we get ready to say goodbye and celebrate the light she is. My arms are linked around the three friends in front of me. I don’t want to let them go.

Grief is something that can often paralyze us. It comes in huge waves or it gently finds its way into our heart and soul. I sit here in my grief and I want to move on. But I am not sure I can. There has been so many hard days this past year. There has been way too much death. I am not sure my heart can take anymore. I find myself clinging tightly to the promise of the resurrection. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.” (Clarence W. Hall)

The truth is that Easter will not put death in the grave forever. But that is hard to trust in when the dirt is still wet from burying another friend; when another friend is burying her second child in four months; when my own faith is shaken; when it continually feels like we are walking through Lent; days after Easter and the Resurrection.

Yes, the tears are sitting here on the surface; tears that have no place to go; tears that tell the story of so many who love and are loved; tears that are holy as they remind us again and again that we are not alone.

“Tears. I’ve learned is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of our eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” (Jamie Anderson)

So today, I am not letting go either. I will hold onto the hand of whoever will let me grab onto it; hopefully my friends and family. For as we hold on, I know that God is with us in these hard days of grief.

…..The tears are beginning to fall!

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.

 

 

Sunday Blessings 221

(1) An awesome weekend with my sis

(2) Time with momma. It’s been way too long since weve seen her.

(3) Stopping and seeing EG at the farm.

(4) EG sending goodies home with us.

(5) Jer Bears Sno Cones

(6) Swimming at Spring Lake Park

(7) Texting with my faves

(8) Friends who hold each other in our grief.

(9) Adopting Luna the kitty

(10) Rental Car Agencies!!

(11) KD and RD cat sitting

(12) Seeing all my friends and grieving together.

(13) The hugs of so many friends! (You know who you are!)

(14) Stopping at sissys

(15) Summer Nights on Main

(16) Grace!!

(17) Goodies left at my house.

(18) David’s BBQ sunflower seeds

(19) A beautiful PLN!!

(20) Playing with Luna

(21) Fresh veggie stir fry. So yummy!!

Done with Grief

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “done.” We would love to have you join us.

This week has been filled with grief once again. I’m tired, spent, done. Since last October, I’ve lost four colleagues/friends under the age of 40. These lives taken from us way too early. I know that death is a part of life, but in these days of grief and emotional exhaustion, I’m so done with grief and dying.

But I’m not done with loving. I’m not done with friendships. I’m not done with a community who cry together. It makes death, dying and grief a little easier. It reminds me of the promise of the resurrection. In the words of one of my favorite quotes by Clarence W Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave but it won’t stay there.” In other words, resurrection always comes.

God calls us to trust in God’s promises; to let our lights shine before others that they may see our good works and glorify our father in Heaven. Im not going to take another day for granted. But I’m so tired of death! Im tired of burying my friends. I’m ready for life to continue to emerge in the midst of death.

Sunday Blessings 220 (#elcayg2018 Edition)

(1) Getting to Houston safely!

(2) Awesome Lyft drivers who have karaoke in their car

(3) Getting to hug and see so many of my dear friends!!

(4) A long conversation catching up with GV

(5) IPadel Houston

(6) Kolaches!!!

(7) JL and his crew from Texas gifting us with a Texas themed welcome basket

(8) The lady at IPadel who paid for court time but was giving up her time to teach us all how to play. What a giving heart she has!

(9) Amazing speakers that challenged us and cause me to work towards more inclusion for all God’s beloved in the church.

(10) A Houston Astros game. So much fun!!!

(11) Sunday dinner with CS, TM, EO, and AA.

(12) Awesome co adult leaders! Thanks PNM and JJ!

(13) CM bringing me my backpack when I left it at the synod day hotel!

(14) Our youth helping serve communion and blessing the WND participants! Such a cool moment!

(15) Starbucks Cool Lime Refreshers!

(16) 4th of July with EL and LL and friends! So much fun!

(17) Texting with my favorites!

(18) Support from so many friends!

(19) Water and First Aide stations!!

(20) Air conditioning

Resting in the Promises of the Resurrection

One of the joys of life is the many friends that God introduces to us along the journey of life. But with the joy also comes the sorrow. Life ebbs and flows with both life and death. Since last Fall, I know of at least four young leaders who are now resting in the promises of the resurrection. These four young leaders were taken from us way too soon and it is so difficult to comprehend. My heart is breaking and I once again feel like I am walking through the darkness of Lent.

Yesterday I learned of the death of another youth ministry colleague/friend who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Rachel was on vacation with her family when she suffered a pulmonary embolism. I met Rachel through the youth ministry world. In fact, in January, while at the ELCA Extravaganza, Rachel stopped me while we were both descending a set of stairs. She introduced herself and shared how she thought we should be friends since we have a lot of the same friends in common. I shared how much I missed my Fargo-Moorhead friends and asked her to watch over them for me. She smiled with that beautiful smile of hers and promised that she would do just that.

Rachel was a radiant light who exuded God’s love and joy in the world. She gathered with the youth from her church and 31000 of our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ at the youth gathering last week in Houston. In that stadium, we all created a wave of hope. Today I find the image of the lights lighting up that stadium coming to mind as I remember Rachel as she rests in the promises of the resurrection.

With Rachel’s death, grief once again sets in. “Grief, I’ve learned is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” (Jamie Anderson)

And with love that has no place to go, I am thankful for a community that is standing in that same place with me and all those who know and love Rachel. Another youth ministry friend (Tom Schwolert) captured this well when he wrote, “This hurts deeply because we all know her even if we’ve never met her. We know her passion for sharing the love of Jesus with young people. May we be grateful for every life Rachel touched and that she is in the loving arms of Jesus.” Together, as a body of Christ, we are all linked as beautiful beloved children of God.

Rachel now rests in the promises of the resurrection along with Maggie, Justin, and Ben. These faithful servants know that for them and all of us Jesus truly changes everything. Yet it is hard to trust in these promises when we are having to say good bye to our friends too early in life. It is a part of life that I would much rather not have to experience. But the reality is that grief comes because we loved these friends and family members. This love is grounded in God’s love for the world, but it is also a love that God calls us to share with one another.

And in the midst of my grief, I find myself clinging to the book of Romans. “If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords.” Or in the words of Clarence W. Hall, “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.”

For Rachel, Ben, Maggie, and Justin, life; eternal life found in Christ, not death has the final word! Thanks be to God!

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.