Sunday Blessings 217

(1) B90 Group and an awesome Zoom conversation.

(2) A great meeting!

(3) Baking frenzy!! I forgot how much I love to bake.

(4) Shutterfly photo books

(5) An unexpected check in the mail.

(6) A great last youth gathering meeting before we head to Houston!

(7) Water

(8) Voxing with KA

(9) The return of Nashville!!

(10) Ice on a hot day

(11) Texting with my sissy

(12) A fun rental car

(13) RG giving me a ride to the airport so I could pick up my rental car.

(14) A clean house

(15) The Tony Awards

(16) A grad announcement from one of my seminary friend’s daughter.

(17) Texting with Aunt N

(18) Return of Food Network Star

(19) A cool breeze

(20) All of you!!

Holy Hustle (A Book Review)

I met Crystal Stine through the blogging community. I even guest posted for her in December of 2016. But most especially I have gotten to know Crystal through the Write 31 Days Challenge. Crystal’s first book “Holy Hustle” was released yesterday June 5, 2018. The subtitle of this book is “embracing a work-hard, rest-well life.” Oh how we all need to read Crystal’s book.

One of my favorite pieces of the book is that each chapter ends with a Digging Deeper section. I love how easily accessible these sections are and I believe would be easily used in a small group at church or beyond. I also love the Holy Hustle stories that are shared at the end of each chapter. A perfect reminder that we are not on this journey alone. We all struggle with finding the balance of working hard and resting well.

This book spoke to me so much. Both Crystal and I have had experiences of being hurt by the church in one way or another. But her words remind us of the faithfulness of our God and how we are never alone. God is always faithful. God promises to walk with us through all of life’s ups and downs.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from her book:

Success isn’t about having or doing more; success is about serving more (P.24)
God builds in us a calling and a passion for doing His work through love, which unites and strengthens His church (P. 43)
When we strive to fix things on our own in big ways, we miss the small gifts God has set in place for us (P.91)
Loving others well not only creates beautiful, lasting relationships that will also benefit our work, but draws others closer to the kind of life-changing love they can receive only from Jesus (P.129)
God worked and called it good, and He rested and called it holy (P. 177)

Don’t just take my word for it! Run to your local bookstore and pick up a copy for yourself.

**I did get an early release copy of this book. However these thoughts are my own and I am in no way being compensated for my opinion.

Pruned and Shaped

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

Books taken off shelves. Boxes piled up. Sorting through papers–what do you keep, what do you throw away. Soon an empty chair and a closed door. An unexpected change.

I walk out the door wondering what is next. Praying that God will put a new path in my view. I can’t look back now. There is no return. I must turn down a different road. And as I walk out the door, I turn back around and look up at the steeple. A silent prayer is spoken in my heart and soul.

A single tear falls from my eyes.

I walk back to my home.

I feel lost; alone.

Wondering where God is calling me next.

A few weeks pass and I return to one of my favorite places in the world; Rocky Mountain National Park (Only 6 more days and I will be heading there again). It is here that I visibly can feel God’s presence; through friends who listen and embrace me in my own grief.

Near the top of the mountain, more tears fall. As I look to the future and leave the past behind; a season of no return. A season of changing and growing and being molded by the Father’s love! “For God so loved the world, God sent God’s one and only Son whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send God’s Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that we might be saved through it.”

Sometimes life is full of unexpected seasons; seasons that cause us to wander and feel lost. Yet God always shows up again and again. God always returns and holds our hands in the midst of our trials. And it is here during these seasons that we change.

I leave you with these words from Mary Geisen’s Tell His Story post today: “Life experience teaches us that throughout our lives we find times when the old bumps into the new. It becomes beautiful, but not without growing pains. Tell His Story has been given a second chance. We can expect growing pains, but in the midst we will see such beauty as we never imagined.”

In other words, we must continually be pruned and shaped into who God calls us to be!

Also linked 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 216

(1) A fresh rain

(2) Snapchatting with RS

(3) Bible journaling

(4) Road tripping with NM

(5) Panera

(6) Hanging with CT, RT and KG

(7) WND Mission Gala

(8) Seeing so many awesome friends.

(9) Texting with my faves

(10) Hanging with CT, RT and KL.

(11) Chatting with LP and MO

(12) Running into my former colleagues brother in law at synod assembly.

(13) Getting our Service Learning Day shirts in the mail.

(14) Stella Rosa wine. Yummy!!

(15) Watching Pitch Perfect 2!!

(16) A beautiful PLN!!

(17) Great nursing home staff at moms nursing home.

(18) A night at camp fun

(19) A gorgeous summer night

(20) The smell of campfire

Sunday Blessings 215

(1) Texting with my faves

(2) A great group of ladies and an awesome coaching session.

(3) Rain

(4) Texting with my aunties and sister

(5) A great youth gathering meeting

(6) Losing a pound or two! Or five!!

(7) A good camera that captures awesome photos.

(8) Full House

(9) Sitting outside reading on a beautiful day

(10) Snapchatting with KL

(11) Sunscreen

(12) Texting with EG

(13) Water!!!

(14) 90 degree weather

(15) So many compliments on my sermon today and I struggled to write this one.

(16) A wonderful PLN!!

(17) Grad parties and visiting with members.

(18) Running into BP and S at Walmart

(19) Reading the Bible in 90 days

Behold

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

Lilacs blooming, the smells wafting through the air.
Time to stop, pause, breathe in her scents.
Behold, Gods amazing creation.

The mountains
Reaching high
The crisp mountain air
Is inhaled through my lungs.
Behold, Gods amazing creation.

Sitting on my porch
The sun kissing my face
A book in hand
Summer scents all around
Behold, Gods amazing creation.

Dirt caked in his fingernails
The sound of a tractor
Rolling from one end of the field
To the next.
Creation a time it’s finest.
Behold, Gods amazing creation.

A toddler
Gleefully
Blowing and popping bubbles
Laughter ensues.
Behold, Gods amazing creation.

Our God
The creator
Who wants us
To pause
And take it all in!

GDPR Compliancy

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Redemptive Love

“He [Jesus] didn’t die for anything he could get out of. Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t….he wasn’t getting anything out of it. He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well being of the world…for us.”

“That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world.” (Bishop Michael Curry in his sermon at the Royal Wedding)

The redemptive power of love is a phrase that I haven’t been able to shake since listening to his sermon on Saturday. It is because of the redemptive power of love that I am able to tell my family’s story of mental illness. It is because of the redemptive power of love that I was able to graduate seminary and be consecrated as a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) It is because of the redemptive power of love that I truly believe God calls us to share God’s love with all the world.

“For God so loved the world that God gave God’s one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send God’s son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).”

My heart aches when I turn on the news or look at the comments in a blog post and see the evil that is being spewed out into the world. As Bishop Curry reminded us in his sermon, if we actually are able to love and show love, the world would be a much different place. If we truly loved one another, would our friends of color not fear for their lives? If we truly loved one another, would we truly treat each other as family?

I am especially proud to serve in a church (the ELCA) that truly believes that all are welcome in this place. I was excited and delighted to hear that Jamie and Rebekah Bruesehoff will be sharing their story at this summer’s National Youth Gathering. I had the opportunity to hear Jamie speak at this year’s ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. Her story is powerful as she reminds us what it means to love God’s beloved children.

Today, evil has found its way as outside forces attack this family without even knowing their story. It is moments like this that cause my blood to boil because all of us are beloved children of God. God continually calls each and every one of us by name.

The redemptive power of love allows us to put aside our differences; to treat each other as “fearfully and wonderfully made” children of God. The redemptive power of love calls us to love ALL of God’s beloved children. The redemptive power of love is why God sent God’s son into the world for each and every one of us. The redemptive power of love truly allows us to hear the stories of our LGTBQ+ siblings. The redemptive power of love opens our hearts to all the world.

And because of the redemptive power of love, it is words and actions rooted in love that are pouring out to Jamie and Rebekah today. And this is the type of church I want to be a part of us; a church that openly and freely opens their doors without question. A church that truly lives out the words “all are welcome in this place.”

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.
(Psalm 139:13-16; The Message)

A Broken Record

Friday May 18–yet another school shooting. This time at Santa Fe High School in Texas. My immediate reaction was that I wanted to cry; cry holy tears for those ten individuals who went to school that day planning on returning home but they didn’t return home.

Any time there is a school shooting, I feel like I am a broken record. So often media jumps to the conclusion that the shooter is mentally ill. Now don’t get me wrong, that could very well be the case. But the reality is that the mentally ill are more often the victims of a violent crime then the perpetrator. And as the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness, I know this reality all too well. I have first hand experience of the stigma that comes with a mental illness.

The reality though is that my mom is able to live a normal life because of the medications she is on. She is one of the most faith-filled women in my life and would seriously give the clothes off of her back to someone in need. She embodies what it means to love and be loved in this broken world. Yet her illness comes with a stigma; a stigma that still carries with it the weight of every school shooting and violent crime despite what statistics tell us.

I have to be honest. I grew up in a house where my dad and grandpa hunted. Yet those guns were not easily accessible. In fact, they were kept far away from our reach. I have so many questions in regards to guns and gun violence. How are these students getting access to these guns? Why is someone not able to stop them?

I don’t know what the answer is to end all school shootings. But what I do know is that too many kids have gone to school hoping to come home and haven’t because another classmate showed up to school with a gun. Often times they come with a motive because they are hurting and are not in their own right mind. Yet with proper treatment and care, these individuals could, perhaps, live a normal life.

My hurt aches for all of my friends and family and their children. I fear for the days when I will have my own children and will send them off to school. It breaks my heart that our children know what to do in the case of a school shooting because they have had active shooter training at their own schools. I don’t want the names of the children I love or even the names of my sister and other teachers who dedicate their lives to teaching to be on the list of deceased at the next school shooting.

My heart aches friends and we must do something about it. I cannot hear the name of more individuals who lost their life at school. There are too many school shootings. There are too many who have given their lives simply by being in school when a shooting occurs. We remember the ten victims from the Sante Fe High School shooting: Glenda Perkins, Cynthia Tisdale, Kimberly Vaughan, Shana Fisher, Angelique Ramirez, Christian Riley Garcia, Jared Black, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Aaron Kyle McLeod.

My eyes are wet with tears; tears that ache for the day when our children will feel safe going to school again. Wet with tears as I lift up my prayers to God knowing these individuals are not alone in their final days. But also wet that they had to breathe their last before graduating high school or going home to their own families.

The words from Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening Prayer are the words that I seem to only be able to cry out in the midst of another school shooting. “Let our prayers rise up like incense before you, the lifting up of my hands as an offering to you. O God, I call to you, come to me now, hear my voice when I cry to you.”

I am broken.

I am tired.

Tired of sounding like a broken record.

When will the sounds of this broken record cease

Or will this record play over and over again until it is simply way too late?

 

Sunday Blessings 214

(1) Time with WND Faith Formation Network friends.

(2) Gorgeous weather.

(3) Halo Top Ice Cream

(4) A call from Dad

(5) Much needed rain

(6) The Greys Season finale

(7) Holding baby Kane

(8) Make Your Own Italian Sodas at a grad open house.

(9) Texting with my fave

(10) #RoyalWedding!!

(11) Michael Currys sermon at the Royal Wedding. So lit!

(12) A great Senior Sunday

(13) Baking

(14) Lilacs