Willing

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

“My spirit is willing, but my flesh is so weak.” I’ve been singing this camp song Light the Fire since I read the word prompt for this week. Isn’t it funny how certain words put ear worms in our ears?

But the word willing is so much more than an ear worm.

Are you willing to try something new… a new food, a new hobby, etc?

Are you willing to speak up for those who are different than you?

Are you willing to stand your ground for what you believe is right?

Are you willing and able to help someone else? In other words, are you willing to be a modern day Good Samaritan in this world?

Are you willing to live out your passions?

What are you willing to try? What are you willing to say? I’d love to hear!

Photo Taking

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

A few years ago my friend gifted me with a camera. I forgot how much I loved every taking photos. There is something about taking photos and trying to capture a moment in time.

Camera in hand, my friend and I walk around Lily Lake. I see so much of God’s creation. I capture a duck butt as he dives into the lake. We spot a moose off in the distance. I see several ducks sunbathing. The mountains are covered in the splendor of snow. Wild flowers of various shapes and colors are all around. It’s the glory of Colorado.

Hues of reds, oranges and yellows cascade across the sky as the sun sets. The amber waves of grain glisten against the sun. The bright yellow of sunflowers can be seen for miles. It’s the beauty of North Dakota at her best.

What do you like to capture? (And for those who saw my FB post, my photos were sent off to be entered in the ND State Fair!) o

In God’s Hands

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

I just got back from one of my favorite continuing education trips. I love it because when I attended it for the first time, I got to explore a new part of the country I have never been too….Colorado! It has become one of my favorite places in the world. There is something so holy about being in the mountains.

Growing up we didn’t do much traveling. We visited grandparents in Nebraska and visited South Dakota. But I don’t remember many other places we vacationed too. As I have gotten older, I have found myself traveling more and more often.

A few years ago, my sister began the tradition of having a sister’s trip. We have been to Nashville, Chicago, The Black Hills of South Dakota and New York City. This year we will be traveling to Dallas TX. I love exploring and spending this time with my sister as we explore new parts of the USA.

There are so many parts of the world I would love to travel too. On my bucket list, I would love to travel to Germany and visit the Lutheran sites of Martin Luther. I would love to experience Jerusalem and walk where Jesus walked. I also would love to travel to Ireland! Where are some places you hope to visit?

The world is full of so much beauty. God’s magnificent hand is all over it. I only need look at the glorious pictures from Colorado that I took while I was there. God’s creation amazing us as we spotted a moose, an elk and even some baby chicks in Lily Lake. I can’t help but sing “God’s got the whole world in God’s hands.”

Goals

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

A mom, a teacher, a writer, a youth director….These are all things I wanted to be when I was younger. As little children, we all strive for goals that we want to fulfill when we are older.

These goals often change and shift. But there’s always one constant. God is with us. God knows who and whose we are. God loves us for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

There are times I wish God would give us traffic signs so we knew where we were headed. I cant help but think of football and how the players have goals especially the kickers.

A straight shot through the uprights. GOAL!! I truly believe God gives us each unique skills and abilities. Skills that we are to use.

So today, I claim that I am a writer, a daughter, a sister, a friend and so much more? Who are you? What goals do you have?

Well with my Soul

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. This week’s word prompt is “well.” We would love to have you join us. Sorry I am so late this week. It was a busy weekend!

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul”

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

The words to this hymn began playing in my head and my heart when I heard the word prompt for this week. Today I am feeling at peace. Today things seem to be well with my soul. But life isnt always like that. There are times when it is not well with my soul.

Over the last 18 months, losing 9 friends/family members, it was not well with my soul. When I think I am not good enough, it is not well with my soul. When the world around us is filled with such evil and such hatred, it is not well with my soul. When I cry out, “How long, Oh Lord, will you forget me forever?, it is not well with my soul.

It is when things are not well with my soul when I must turn to God. I must ask to bring about healing and peace. As I have grieved and worked through my losses, there is healing and hope again. It is once again well with my soul. When I believe and truly know that God hears every desire of my heart, I know that is again well with my soul.

Standing at the shore of a lake, there is a peace that comes over me. It is a peace that reminds me that I am not a lone. It is a peace that calls me to know that my soul is at rest. It is well. It is well, well with my soul.

Child of God

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. This week’s word prompt is “name.” We would love to have you join us. Sorry I am so late this week, it’s been a good busy but holy week!

“Tara Lee Ulrich, 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.” These words were imparted to me by my seminary advisor Nate. He gave woven pieces of this quote to all of his advisees. It is such a gift; a reminder that everything is grounded in our Baptism. God calls us all by name and knows every hair upon our head; every desire of our hearts.

This week has been a holy week. I have been reminded again and again of who I am as a beloved child of God. I possess strength. “For she is clothed with dignity and strength and lacks fear of the future.”–Proverbs 31:25. I am enough. I am beautiful. I am loved; so incredibly incredibly loved. I am gracious.

I walk forward with my eyes open knowing that more people need to see fully who God created me to be. I have gracious green eyes that need to be shown more. I need to live out my Enneagram 2ness as that is a huge piece of who I am as God’s child. I am Gods and God is mine!

Our name is a gift that is bestowed on all of us. My parents named me Tara which means “rocky pinnacle”. But another name that is just is important is our name “child of God.” God loves us despite our sinfulness. God continually calls each and every one of us by name! Thanks be to God for that gift and blesssing!

Culture

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 “culture.” We would love to have you join us.

Culture=”the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious or social group;” “the set of shared attitudes, values goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Kuchen, knoephla soup, dumplings….These are just some of my favorite foods growing up. Store bought kuchen is just not the same as Grandmas homemade kuchen. Knoephla soup warms my belly and is one of my favorite comfort foods when I’m sad.

These food items are a representation of the culture my grandparents (my dads parents) came from. They are German Russians. Germans who came over from Russia. I love learning about our culture….where we come from.

Last summer in NYC, we toured Ellis Island. I remember wondering what it must have been like to come over from Germany. Grandpa would have been a young boy.

My sister can be stubborn….a very German Russian trait. What traits do you carry from your families culture? Our cultures tell a lot about where we come from.

Promises, Promises!

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 “promise.” We would love to have you join us.

It’s a rainy May Day here in Western ND. And on rainy days, I can’t help but think of Noah and the flood. Noah did as God commanded and built the arc. Two of every animal on the arc. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Then God sent a dove and placed a rainbow in the sky…a promise that this would never happen again.

What kind of promise or what did God mean by this promise? Because in our world, we still experience floods. That’s the thing about water it can be a blessing or it can be a curse. It makes me think about the rainbow and what God truly meant by this promise. What do you think?

The rainbow is a beautiful gift that God gave us. When I see the rainbow, I’m reminded of the promise given to me, to all of us in Baptism. “Tara Lee, 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.” In Baptism, God calls and claims us and promises to never leave or forsake us.

What kind of promises are we willing to make? Do we make promises that we can’t keep? I always remind my Confirmation students, don’t make a promise you can’t keep. Promises that are kept give us hope.

Making Room

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 “practice.” We would love to have you join us.

Practice for this…..

Practice for that…

It seems today’s kids are always practicing for something.

Does practice always make perfect?

What if we are doing something we just don’t enjoy or trust have the skills for?

I am always practicing my writing. I want my words to embody God’s love in the world. I want them to glorify God. I want my words to be a gift to my readers.

This last week I’ve been thinking of the legacy of Rachel Held Evans. Her words left in bestsellers. This woman of valor who always spoke up for those on the margins. This woman of valor who never met a stranger. Even though you may have never met her, she felt like your best friend. I want to practice being more like her! I want to embody the kind of love God showed all God’s people! I want to make room at the table!

For A Woman of Valor….

I pick up the book and run my fingers across the binding of this book. Her name spanning the width of the book….Rachel Helds Evan. It was the first place I read her name as I picked up my own copy of Searching for Sunday. Her words balm to my soul as I read the entire book in three days.

To be honest, the church can sometimes be a messed up yet glorious place. There have been times in my life when I’ve had to search out and seek words that would lift up my soul. Rachel’s words have always spoken to me in that very way.

So when the words of Rachel’s death finally hit social media, my heart broke. In that moment, I wanted to do everything in my power to turn back time; to make sure none of this happened. But the reality was all to real. I knew that as the tears trickled down my face.

Here I am grieving someone I never met. Yet her words, her generosity, her being were a gift to me and the world. I am grieving that her chiildren are growing up without her. I am grieving that there will be no more words from her. I am grieving a sister in Christ who I easily could have sat down with over coffee and dreamed up ways to be the church in this broken world.

And yet in our grief, I see the wider church coming together once again because of this beautiful woman of valor.

“Church is a moment in time when the kingdom of God draws near, when a meal, a story, a song, an apology, and even a failure is made holy by the presence of Jesus among us and within us. Church was alive and well long before we came up with the words relevant and missional, and church will go on long after the grass grows through our cathedral floors. The holy Trinity doesn’t need our permission to carry on in their endlessly resourceful work of making all things new. That we are invited to catch even a glimpse of the splendor is grace. All of it, every breath and every second, is grace.” (Searching For Sunday, Rachel Held Evans; P. 1)

In addition, some of Rachel’s last words reminded us of the reality of life, death and resurrection. “Death is a part of life.” Today, this week, the next hour, the next minute, this reality is so raw, so real as we mourn this dear woman of God.

Thank You for showing us what the church should and can look like. In your honor, I will work to make that church; that kingdom appear on earth. Thank You for your words. Thank You for all you gave us. But, Rachel, thank You doesn’t seem enough! May you Rest In Peace!