Eucharisto Love

“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.” ~ Henri Nouwen

I sat in a coffee shop catching up with my dear friend M. It had been several years since we broke bread together. After awhile, we moved from the inside to the outside. For an hour or more, the cool Houston air grazing against our skin. Yet we took in every ounce of that sun as we are true Midwest girls yearning for some sun in the midst of a long winter. Our conversation carried on as we caught up about on each other’s lives. A pure moment of eucharisto!

The first night, a sweet little baby who was prayed for and was born after her sister, was placed in my arms. As her sweet little fingers ran across my face, I couldn’t help but see the beauty of this answered prayer. Eucharisto in the flesh!

Another day, I sat with my friend BB as we chatted. I simply wanted to say thank you for the times he listened during my time of unexpected transition. Words carried as we listened and prayed for the gift this community is to so many. Another moment of eucharisto captured in time and space.

And yet another day, I sat around a table with some of my absolute favorite people remembering and reflecting on the ways God brought these individuals into my life. A smile couldn’t help but be spread across my face. A time of breaking bread and being reminded that I am incredibly loved; that all of us are incredibly loved!

Eucharisto is thanksgiving. It is thanksgiving for the time, people, and places that God puts in our lives. It is thanksgiving for those who hold you up when feel like you cannot hold yourself up. It is thanksgiving for the times we share together; times of sadness, times of joy and times of pure beauty. It is thanksgiving for a body of believers who show up time and time again for one another. In the words of Ann Voskamp, it is thanksgiving that proceeds the miracle.

For me, eucharisto is embodied in the words above from Henri Nouwen. Eucharisto is sitting at the feet of my dear friends and knowing that I am truly deeply loved. It is showing others that they too are truly deeply loved. Eucharisto is calling each of you by name and reminding you time and time again that what you do matters; that who you are matters, and that you are blessed beautiful beloved child of God.

Eucharisto is embodied every time the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza happens each year. It is a place where over 1000 youth workers come together to learn, to grow, to reconnect and to be renewed. It is the place where I know that I am known by name–a place that continually reminds me that I am loved through the simple handshakes and hugs that tell me; that tell all of us that we are more than just liked, but rather we are loved–loved as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.

A Healed Heart

I’m sitting at Bush airport waiting to head home from the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. This event and those who serve in children, youth, and family ministry are an incredible gift to our church. I always look forward to this time of renewal, connection, and learning. This year, I didn’t realize how much I needed this event until I got here.

But this event is a place for hearts to be healed. One of my colleagues and friends tweeted out these words the other day; “So often the default in ministry is ‘be good and do well’ when really it should be about ‘being well and doing good.” These words resonated with me and are still sitting with me.

Ministry is hard work and can also cause pain and grief. Last May, I didn’t know what my future looked like. In the midst of that liminal space, I was buoyed up by the prayers of this community. It was this community who I reached out to for advice and for listening ears. It is this community who loved (and continues to love)  me fully for who God created me to be. These are my people!

I am five months into a new call, feeling hopeful and blessed. Yet there are days that grief sneaks in rather unexpectedly. During the healing service the other day, I found myself asking for blessings over transitions. Once again, tears began streaming down my face. Holy cleansing tears.

In addition, the Holy Spirit is always incredibly evident in this place. I wrote my hope; a hope that I’ve been praying for many years on my piece of seed paper and buried it in the packing peanuts. My friend and roommate who was sitting next to me, divinely pulls out that very hope. An incredible moment captured in time and space.

You, my friends are loved and are incredible gifts to our church. Thank you E Team for all you do to remind us to be well and do good; to remind us that what we do matters. This event is a huge gift to me and to all of us!

Again this community is what held me up on the hard days. This community continually reminds me of how beloved I am; how beloved we all are. This community has helped heal me! I didn’t realize how much I needed this until I got here. Today I can honestly say I’m feeling more whole again!

And feeling whole again, these words from Ben Kyle’s song are echoing in my heart and soul: “Fear not, watch and pray, Walk in the light of Gods highway.” A highway that is scattered to and fro but lit by this community who commits to always praying for one another; a community that continually shows up for one another. Thanks be to God!

A Transformed Mustard Seed

“He [Jesus] put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;  it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.'”-Matthew 13:31-32

Have you ever thought about your faith life; your faith journey and how that mustard seed grows into a beautiful new tree? This past year 2017 was not without its own obstacles. But over the last few months, I have been reflecting on the ways I have changed and grown from this experience. In the words of my blog friend Susan, “You’ve come along way, baby!” My tiny mustard seed of faith has blossomed more fully into a beautiful new mustard shrub.

In June, as I stood at the top of Estes Cone, looking out over the horizon, feeling like I could reach out and touch Jesus, my heart was grieving. Yet as I stood at that makeshift chapel, tears streaming down my face, Ellie Holcomb’s Red Sea Road echoing in my ears, a transformation was beginning in my heart and soul. I came down from that mountain; with renewed hope–a hope that would sustain me on the hard days and a hope that would remind me again and again of who and whose I am.

There were days that I doubted. There were days that I questioned. There were days that I simply wanted to flee like Jonah. Yet in the midst of those hard days, God surrounded me with people, places and reminders that I was not on this journey alone. In fact, it was those people and places that held me up, watered my dry parched places and gave me sunlight when I couldn’t seem to find it for myself. I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through the hard days without you all; my youth ministry friends, my blog friends, my deacon friends, and the list goes on and on.

Today, I look back and realize that I am on the other side of the mountain. I am exactly where God has led me to be. It has not been an easy journey. In fact, if you looked closely, you would see the (literal not physical) scars and scratches from where the shrubs grazed across my body as I fought to get to the top of that mountain.

I am now a new mustard bush. I am a mustard bush who has blossomed into who God has created her to be. I am a mustard bush that is surrounded by people who love her for exactly who God created her to be. In fact, since seeing the movie the Greatest Showman, I cannot stop singing “This is Me.”

Because this is me…a beloved broken blessed beautiful child of God. A mustard seed transformed by the goodness, grace, love and mercy of God!

I am linking up with these lovely ladies: Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories.

 

 

Sunday Blessings 199

(1) Time with some of my church youth

(2) Writing a movie review for a friends blog site

(3) Listening to the Greatest Showman soundtrack

(4) Messaging with JN

(5) Bringing a book along to the eye dr

(6) New LLR goodies.

(7) Bible study with circle ladies this am

(8) Womens Book study

(9) #fmfparty and #SlateSpeak

(10) Fresh haircut and color

(11) A church lady telling me I write beautifully!

(12) 40 degree weather

(13) Project Life App and getting quite a few pages finished.

(14) Texting with my faves

(15) Peppermint scented candle

(16) Flying solo at church

(17) Catching up on Nashville

(18) New Year New You accountability group on FB

(19) Playing FriendO with friends

(20) A PLN!!

For the Dreamers

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

This was not intentional at all, but this is what happened. On Sunday, after church, I went to see The Greatest Showman because Karrilee had seen it twice already. And now I can’t stop talking about it.

The story of PT Barnum, his dreams, his life, the dreams of the circus acts. So much goodness and full of so much intentionality about identity and belonging. My new anthem is the words from the song “This is Me.” We are made glorious on purpose. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made.

This movie is full of faith themes. In all actuality, it reminded me that God is the ultimate Showman. These themes were maybe not intentional, but they do seem to come across that way. This movie is oozing with love, grace, mercy, belonging and identity. Who are we as beloved children of God? This movie points us to who and whose we are.

Sorry, not sorry. But I can’t get enough of this movie. I’m singing the songs at the top of my lungs because they echo my own dreams. This movie is a movie for all of us; for all the dreamers!

Our Identity as Beloved Children of God

After reading that Karrilee had gone to the Greatest Showman twice already, I knew that I had to go check it out. So Sunday afternoon, after church, I found myself at the movie theater; totally outside my comfort zone. (I hate going to the movies alone!) But this was a movie that called me to break outside my comfort zone.

As I sat in that theater, the songs from the movie easily crept into my heart and head. But more than anything, the story line reminded me how we are all dreamers; dreamers in search of our own dreams. This story is a beautiful celebration of the diversity of humanity. (I wrote a blog post/movie review for my friend’s blog “Connect 2 Faith.” You can read that link here!)

All of the songs are playing in my heart and head, but the one that keeps replaying over and over is the song “This is me” especially the words to the chorus. The chorus includes these words, “When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out; I am brave, I am bruised; I am who I’m meant to be, this is me; Look out cause here I come; And I’m marching to the beat I drum; I’m not scared to be seen; I make no apologies, this is me.” This anthem is an anthem that I think so many of us cry out each day.

Too often, we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. We think we are not smart enough, not pretty enough, or not good enough. We simply think we are not enough! But the truth, my friends, is that we are all enough. God has “fearfully and wonderfully” made each and every one of us and gifted us with our own unique gifts and abilities.

The reality is that the story of PT Barnum that unfolds in this movie The Greatest Showman reminds each and every one of us that God is the ultimate showman. God is the one who calls and claims each and every one of us as God’s beloved children. I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite Christian artist’s Jason Gray’s song “Remind Me Who I Am.” Too often we forget who we are called to be. Yet the truth is that God made us own purpose and wants us to triumphantly declare in the words of the anthem “This is Me” from this movie.

So, my friends, if you want to celebrate all of humanity and its diversity, go see this movie. If you struggle with not being enough, go see this movie. If you are surrounded by others who think they too are the greatest showman and you feel more like Carlisle or Charity or the circus acts, go see this movie. Really just go see this movie and then share its message with the rest of the world.

For in this movie, I found myself again and again and believe you too will find yourself. It is a movie that is for all the dreamers. It is a movie that reminds us of the beauty of the world; that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It is a movie that declares over and over again that we are beloved children of God who God calls to triumphantly proclaim “This is me.”

I am linking up with these lovely ladies; Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Kristin and Porch Stories. 

 

Sunday Blessings 198

(1) Workout with LZ

(2) My first journaling Bible

(3) Snapchatting with DC

(4) Getting to see some of my fave people

(5) A snow evening off from church activities.

(6) A call from JL

(7) Texting with KG

(8) Church Book Study

(9) A fun new wall calendar

(10) Messaging with AS

(11) Texting with my faves

(12) A sweet message from MH

(13) Fun mail from SS

(14) Winning a mystery hostess item.

(15) A nice gentleman helping me put air in my car tire.

(16) Catching up on This is Us and Nashville

(17) Going to the movie The Greatest Showman.

(18) A PLN after the movie

Haiti and the Call to Remember and Simplify

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

January 12, 2010 began like any other day in Haiti. Little did anyone know that an earthquake would hit and change the course for many. That day is forever etched in my head and heart as my friend Renee, her (deceased) husband Ben, and Ben’s cousin Jon where in Haiti for a J-term course. Ben lost his life that day. Ben and the reality of this day along with the promise of resurrection hope remind me to simplify my life and focus on what is truly important.

My 2018 one word hygge is calling me to simply be present in the moment; to simplify my own life. It’s about being, in the words of Shauna Niequest, present rather than perfect. It’s about being content with where one is because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s about not being in a hurry but slowing down.

Life can be so chaotic. Sometimes (read: most of the time) God is calling us to simplify. We forget that it’s ok to say no. We forget that life is a journey not a destination. We forget that  we don’t have to do everything. God is calling us to slow down; to live in each moment as it comes. It’s about simplifying our days.

So tomorrow, as the sun rises and we remember the Haiti earthquake, i can’t help but simplify my morning. Instead of turning on my tv and rushing off to work, I’ll dwell in my day off and let the words of Ben’s song “Mourning into Dancing” wash over me. It’s a simple way to remember Ben and all who lost their lives eight years ago as the earth shook in Haiti.

Listen along with me, friends! (Mourning into Dancing by Ben Larson)

Finding Motivation

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

Move your body.
Zumba, Zumba, Zumba!
For months, I was so motivated. I loved hanging with my Curves girls. And then I moved! And all motivation seemed to be lost!

One of the hardest things about moving to a new community is finding friends to workout with. I’m one who likes having others to keep me accountable. I got a membership to our local recreation center. I did a Zumba class a few times but their classes are rather late. I also tried aquacise and loved it. I just don’t want to go alone.

I’m motivated to lose some weight and become healthier. Yesterday I downloaded a workout on YouTube and did it. I’m no professional but it’s definitely a start. I’m going to keep it up. I even bought Beachbody on Demand at a really great price. I’m hoping to try a variety of different workouts.

I’m motivated to keep trying. I’m motivated to make healthy meals. I love using Blue Apron.  A good variety of healthy choices and stuff I normally wouldn’t try.

Let’s hold each other accountable and motivate each other.

 

A Hygge Year

2017 is a year that I am ready to say goodbye too. It is a year that I hoped would be grounded in hope, but instead it was a year grounded in bittersweet hope. It started out great, but then life happened and things quickly shifted. I found myself living in one of the longest and hardest times of liminal space; clinging to what was and wondering what was to come next. For most of the late Spring and Summer months, I was weary; weary and tired.

There were so many days that I wondered what was next. And to be honest, there were so many tears shed as I tried so desperately to trust in God. But like God always does, God showed up in so many big ways. God led me to where I am today. God surrounded me with friends and family who stood by me through thick and thin. God held my hand and pulled me up out of the pit of hopelessness (or at least that’s how it felt in the early days of change) And I am so incredibly thankful.

Since late summer/early Spring, I have been able to find hope again; a hope that has become new again. New home. New community. New call in ministry. New friends. So much new. And in the midst of all of this,  I cannot help but reflect on this past year–a year of hard and also a year that grew me in so many ways. And as a new woman, I am ready to ring in a new year.

As I have prayed for my one word for 2018, my heart has been more open than ever to the calling of the Holy Spirit. So many words were shared with me, yet nothing felt right. I began to pray more. A friend shared a new word with me and as I read the definition, a calming peace fell over me. The word is “hygge” which basically translates to contentment and depending on where you read it has Danish or Finnish origins. (You can read more about hygge here!)

In the new year, I want to treasure even more every moment and every day. I want to spend time chatting with my favorites over coffee, or wine, or dinner. I want to cherish the moments of joy, but I also want to remember and experience the moments of sadness because I was blessed by them as well. I want to judge less and seek more every day to live out the words to Micah 6:8: “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.” I want to be content in who am I as a beloved child of God.

Contentment will not come easy. In fact, there will be days I will have to remind myself to be content. Yet contentment comes when we remember all that we have been given. We are incredibly blessed. And when we remember that, contentment or hygge comes like a warm blanket on a bitterly cold day or a cup of tea at the end of a long day. Contentment is not simply a feeling. It is in everyway how we experience life. It is realizing the ordinary moments are more extraordinary than ever.

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”–Philippians 4:10-14 (The Message)

Linking up with Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories.