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!!!

Blessings Abound

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Blessing” I have been gone for a continuing education trip. I have missed you all and will be back again soon. Check out FMF’s new home at http://fiveminutefriday.com

I have been incognito as of late. Ok maybe not incognito but I have been in one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people for one of my absolute favorite continuing education events: the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies.

Ten days of learning, ten days of being in a place where cell service etc isn’t easily accessible, but most of all ten days of being in community with friends who are more like family to me.

In the midst of my life’s transitions as of late, these people are incredible blessings in my life. I honestly don’t know what I would do without any of them. They cried with me. They give me emails and phone numbers to remind me that I am not alone. They continually remind me of the gifts that I have in this world.

Sometimes these blessings come in unexpected ways. The other day I climbed to the top of Estes Cone with some of my fave people. I didn’t quite make it to the top but I got awfully close. Yet my friend Scott found a makeshift chapel already on the hill and let me have a moment to let go of the past and look towards the future. It was an incredible moment captured in time and space; a blessing in disguise that I am so incredibly thankful for. A memory I won’t soon forget.

Blessings are all around me friends! Thank you for being my light in the darkness. Thank you for your love, grace and goodness. Blessings abound in and from each of you friends. Thank You!

Sunday Blessings 176

(1) Root Beer and Hymns with all my faves.

(2) Chatting with my dad on the phone

(3) Hanging out with CT and her girls.

(4) So many people checking in with me. I love you all!!!

(5) Coffee with MH (Squared) and JT

(6) Hanging out with my bestie JT

(7) Texting with JK

(8) Helping KG get ready for her Ordination.

(9) A great meeting with BMN today

(10) Hanging with awesome women

(11) Leading closing worship at the WND synod women’s event.

(12) KG’s Ordination Day!!!!

(13) Coming home to find a surprise package from my Aunt and Uncle. So fun!!

(14) Amazing colleagues and friends

(15) A great day for driving

(16) Fun texts this morning. Thanks SH and EG!

(17) A beautiful family traveling to the states from Australia. It was neat to watch the dad and his son hanging out together.

(18) Some relaxing time in the hot tub

(19) Fun traveling treats

Our Worth

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Worth.” I love spending time with this crew, but life has been crazy AGAIN and I missed our Thursday night Twitter Party this week. I’ll be back soon friends! Check out FMF’s new home at http://fiveminutefriday.com

A double rainbow hangs in the sky. The gloriousness of God’s creation looking back at us. It is in moments like these that I am reminded of how awesome are God is. Of how worthy we all are of God’s love. A simple reminder of God’s goodness!

And then there are other times when we can’t help but question are worth. am I worthy of God’s love? What could I do better? And then I am reminded “You are more precious than silver more costly than gold.” That is how God sees us. We are all beloved children of God worthy of all that God has to offer us.

There are times indeed when we will question our own worth, but God always says we are worthy. Even when we screw up, God still welcomes us to the holy table and to the waters of Baptism where he calls us by name. It is a promise that cannot be broken. God sees us all as worthy of God’s love and forgiveness.

Our worth isn’t wrapped up in a neat little bow but rather in the elegance of God’s grace that God freely gives to each of us. Our worth flows through the waters of Baptism. Our worth is wrapped up in those who bless us and wrap us also in God’s love. Our worth is first and foremost given freely to us always by God. And this worth is shown through the simple acts and signs of God’s love.

Tonight it was that double rainbow that reminded me of God’s promises; that I and all of us will never be forsaken or desolate. God will always see us worthy!

Sunday Blessings 175

(1) Broadway Bean and Bagel with my sis before she headed back home.

(2) Big Picture Big Purpose Group

(3) Zumba

(4) A former parishioner showing up at my house with a nativity she wanted to give me. It’s gorgeous!!

(5) Running into CB at Target

(6) Coke Icee

(7) Talking to BM on the phone.

(8) Finding out I’m rooming with AT

(9) Chatting with KA and CG online

(10) Being able to finally get to the #FMFparty and #SlateSpeak Twitter convos for the first time in a very long time!!

(11) Reading on my patio and enjoying this gorgeous day.

(12) The return of the tv show Nashville

(13) A butt dial from SP that made me smile.

(14) Finally getting a little rain. More please, Lord!

(15) Walking around the Scandinavian Heritage Park and finding moments of peace, calm and God’s grace.

(16) Texting with STM

(17) Coffee and Conversation with KG

(18) Catching up with some of my fave podcasts—Faith in Focus, Brave New Church and That Sounds Fun.

(19) Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way!! So so good!!!

(20) Jolly Rancher popsicles

(21) The Tony Awards

(22) Awesome friends who check in with you to make sure you are ok. I’m so blessed and thankful for each and every one of you.

God’s Promises of Life-Giving Water

“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 very words are on a wall hanging I received from my seminary advisor. These words would stare back at me every day as this sat in my office. Now this wall hanging is packed away in a box waiting for its new home. These words are a reminder of God’s Baptismal promises for all of us.

In the midst of my own uncertainty, in these days, I’ve gone searching for moments of calm and peace in the midst of my day. Yesterday I drove to the Scandinavian Heritage Park. As I walked around, I found promises of new life and felt water splashing on me as the wind blew it back onto me. One of my favorite pictures was one of the first pictures I took there. It was a close up of water splashing to and fro. This picture has been replaying in my mind and I find myself opening the photo album on my phone to simply stare at that picture. Something about this picture is speaking to my heart and soul.

Do you ever feel like your well has run dry? Or that all of a sudden it’s bursting forth? In these days, I’m finding that my well isn’t completely dry, but it also isn’t bursting forth either. I find myself searching for the lifegiving water that only Christ can give. The water that is continually pouring light, love and hope on us. This water that almost 38 years ago was poured out on my forehead as I was claimed in the waters of Baptism and given a new name “child of God.”

I’ll admit that in these days of uncertainty, it is super easy to question my own gifts. Yet the truth is that God calls and claims each of us as beloved children. There are more days than I care to admit that I forget that. But yesterday as I stood near the water fall at the park, a light breeze blowing the water back against me, I found myself clinging to the promise of those same Baptismal waters that claimed me as a child of God. Because the truth is that this is something that I (and you) cannot break. It is a promise that is there for all of us.

In the words of beloved author Ann Voskamp in her book The Broken Way, “The warming rain comes delivering life and common grace keeps falling regardless.” In other words, it’s the life giving water of Christ that continually reigns down and reminds us all that no matter who we are, we are always first and foremost beloved children of God. And that’s a promise I can cling to just like water splashing against every fiber of my being. Because sometimes when your faith is shaken, that’s all one can cling too.

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