What I Learned in August…

I am linking up with Emily Freeman’s monthly link-up for the first time today. You can check out all the posts over at Emily’s Place.

Things I learned this month….

(1) Spending time with my sister is the best! Growing up together, we were pretty good at fighting and to be honest, sometimes we still argue with each other. But there is something so incredibly holy about spending quality time together. Our Nashville sister’s trip was AWESOME and is not one I will ever forget. I love my sister so much and the time we spent together is something I will treasure for a very long time. I need to be better about spending time with those I love.

(2) “I am an imperfect person loved by a perfect God!” This image came across my Instagram feed and spoke straight to my heart. I am indeed not perfect…none of us are…but we are loved by a perfect God. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”

(3) That twelve years after someone has passed away, my heart still aches so deeply for them. I was cleaning in my guest room when I came across the bookmark of my Grandpa’s obituary. As I read and remembered, the date (August 21) hit me straight in the gut because it was on that date twelve years ago that we celebrated his life at his funeral. Grandpa Sam was such a caring wonderful man. I miss him each and every day.

(4) Sitting on my deck. sipping a Starbucks Refresher, and reading is a place where I truly experience peace and Sabbath. I finally finished “Orphan Train”, started “Searching for Sunday” and have so many wonderful books on my to read list “For the Love” “Wild in the Hollow” etc. Since summer was so busy, I didn’t get to spend time reading on my deck a lot so I have been making up for lost time this week.

(5) Periscope. I recorded my first Periscope video today and have watched several friend’s Periscopes. I have enjoyed listening to and seeing in person the people whose blogs I often read. But I still feel like I have a lot to learn.

(6) VOXER! Can I say more? I love that I can talk to many of my blog friends and hear their voices. I seriously cannot get enough of this app.

(7) It takes a lot of people and work to get a hot air balloon up in the air. Some church members called me a week ago and asked if I wanted to help them launch a hot air balloon and chase after it. This members brother-in-law/uncle owns the hot air balloon. As they sprawled out the balloon and many held on to it, I ran the fan and helped to fill it up with air. We drove around following the balloon so we could be there when it was ready to land.

(8) A community of writers and friends who get my heart and who I feel like I have known forever. I am so blessed that I got to meet several blog friends in real life while my sister were in Nashville. It is hard to put into words how much these people mean to me. My dear friend Karrilee said it best on her blog when she wrote: “You just may find that you have found your people strung across the world wide web and you so connect in heart and spirit that distance doesn’t feel real. Yes. This. Thank You, Internet, for this!” Amen and all the yeses to that!!!

(9) I am so incredibly LOVED! Some days it is so easy to forget that, but God has orchestrated some amazing friendships in my life and family who remind me how loved I am. I’ve been so surprised and humbled by the comments I have received on my last Five Minute Friday post. I love you all so much too! (See also #8)

(10) I love music! Being in Nashville was awesome. I cannot carry a tune for the life of me, but I love listening to new music. In Nashville, we got to hear all sorts of music including one of my all-time faves Vince Gill.

(11) Prayer really does work! Now I have known this before and have prayed many times for others, but I was reminded again of the power of prayer. I shared a prayer request and so many of you responded with your prayers. God heard those prayers and our prayers were answered. So how might I pray for you this week friends? I would love to return the favor.

So, my friends, this is what I learned throughout the month of August. See you in September!

I am linking up with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky, Holly for Testimony Tuesday, and Kelly for the RaRa Linkup.

 

Everything I Ever Learned…….

The other day I was brainstorming ideas for my #write31days series and the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum popped into my head.

Today my post is about Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned from my Momma.” I have learned that when you are kind to others; they will be kind to you. I have learned that when you are willing to give the shirt off your back and help out someone, they will return the favor when you are in need. 
I have learned what it means to share “unspeakable joy” with the world. I have learned that sometimes its ok to indulge in chocolate or soap operas or whatever to take your mind off the troubles of  the day for a moment. I have learned that its ok to take a nap when your body is tired. 
I have learned what it means to believe that you are a beloved child of God; called and claimed by God. I have learned what it means to be nurtured in faith and pass on faith and values. I have learned to say sorry and really mean it. I have learned what it means to have someone proud of me for my accomplishments; graduating high school, attending and graduating from seminary, my first job, etc.
I have learned to work hard. I have learned to remember specials day; Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc. I have learned to pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of all God’s people. I have learned to share and educate about our journey with mental illness. I have learned what it means to be loved by God in the midst of our brokenness. 
I have ultimately learned what it means to love and be loved!! 

Broken and Loved

I am currently attending a youth gathering. It’s amazing to see these youth gathered together. I am here because a friend and I are leading an adult breakout group tonight (It’s past midnight). Sadly I didn’t bring any youth from my church, but it’s such a Holy Spirit filled gathering that I’m glad to be here. The theme is “Broken and Loved!

The theme verse is Romans 8:38-39. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, neither anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.”



I think these are words that we all need to hear; not just the youth.

As a young child who was teased, I didn’t feel beautiful. My mom and my other family members and friends who are pulled in by the darkness of a mental illness don’t
feel particularly beautiful at times. My best friend who died about five years ago and had a kidney transplant when she was in Kindergarten, missed a lot of school and put on lots of weight from the medication didn’t feel beautiful all the time. I think we all have had times when we didn’t feel particularly beautiful!

The truth is that God loves us despite all of imperfections. Through the waters of Baptism, we are all called and claimed as God’s precious children. God says to each of us, “All are welcome here!”
The mentally ill woman, the single mother, the disabled veteran, the man in jail, the special needs child, and YOU–are all welcome here!!!

Like clay jars; broken, shattered and pieced back together, God loves us and in our brokenness, pieces us back together. In all actuality, we are not just broken! We are not just loved. But we are all broken and loved!

Broken and loved, God continually wraps God’s arms around us. Hear God’s strong firm voice saying to each of you, “You are beautiful. You are loved. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

For you are not just broken…..

For you are not just loved……

But you are both broken and loved!

And that my friends is enough!!

A Tribute to my Momma #RallyRevGals

There are have been many amazing incredible women who have been a huge part of my faith journey and have influenced me as a leader in the church. There is the campus ministry director at my beloved college. There are the women who I worked with at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp and went off to seminary to become leaders. There are my dear friends; old and new, who have or are daily showing me God’s love. There are those “triple A” adult women who have helped equipped me in my faith. All of these women are amazing blessings in my life, but I always come back to one very special individual; my momma!

Now, my faithful readers, many of you know our story, but for those that are new to this blog, our journey has been one of mental illness. Shortly after my sister was born (I was three years old at the time), my mom had a nervous breakdown. Throughout my life, I haven’t known different, yet my momma is one of the most faith-filled women in my life. She would totally give the shirt of her back for someone in need. She would let everyone else go first in line even if it meant all of her favorites would be gone by the time she got through the line. My mom embodies what it means to live with a servant heart. And my mom has done this even though her life hasn’t been easy at all.

Growing up, Mom was in the hospital quite a bit. Yet she always made sure that my sister and I attended church and Sunday School. Dad often was busy farming, but Mom made sure that our faith was nurtured. Even after my parent’s divorce, she took us to church. Faith had been modeled by her by her parents and now it was important to her to model that faith to her girls. (To this day, I am incredibly thankful for this gift)

Two days after graduating high school, I went to work at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp. It was the first place I truly opened up about my mom’s illness and our journey with mental illness. It truly was a freeing moment for me; to be able to share about this incredible women and her own journey. After working at camp for seven summers, I suddenly was urged by my uncle to attend seminary. I thought he was crazy, but the minute I walked onto that campus, I knew that God wanted me there.

I started at the Castle that next fall. I knew going in that I didn’t want to be an ordained pastor, so I was going to get my master of arts degree in youth ministry. I knew hardly anything about the other rosters; Associates in Ministry, Diaconal Ministers, and Deacons/Deaconesses. But after starting to read the book “Word to Sacrament (The History of the Diaconate)” words started to jump off the page at me. “Bridging church and world,” “Picking up basin and towel” and “Word and Service.”

For me, “Picking up Basin and Towel” was the phrase that literally smacked me upside the face. Here I was a daughter of a women who lives and daily struggles with a mental illness and here were these words proclaiming to me that I could do something about the stigma. I could pick up basin and towel and wash the feet of ALL GOD’S PEOPLE especially those like my momma who daily struggle. Because of my mom’s faith and her ultimate examples of that faith, I knew that this was exactly where God was calling me! Mom’s journey; our journey opened up this door for me to be a leader in the church; a leader who could and would try to embody “diakonia” like my Mom has always taught me.

Mom has her good days and her bad days, yet I know that for her, faith is core to who she is as a child of God. She never lets her illness get in the way, but rather shares her faith daily in her words and actions. I am so very thankful for all she has taught me over my 35 years of life. Thank you momma for being the ultimate example of a Godly woman!

You are Loved!

Tonight I was roaming around on FB when I came across a conversation that really got me thinking especially a question that this person put before us. This individual was sharing how they often feel like they try so hard to reach the desired outcome and when it doesn’t happen, they wonder in bewilderment at how anyone would ever love them. I don’t think this individual’s thoughts are uncommon. I think there are times when we all question our worthiness.

I think we all try so hard and yet when things don’t work out or happen the way we would like them too we start to question ourselves. Many of you, my readers, know that there are certain things that I have prayed for and still yearn for in my life yet they haven’t happened for me. And yes, there are times when I wonder WHY it hasn’t happened for me. What is it about me; about my imperfections, that these things haven’t happened for me yet? There are times that I truly feel like I am pleading with God! And I don’t think I am alone here…I think many of us at times have found ourselves pleading with God. (I don’t know about you but sometimes it feels like being picked last for the team during PE in school. And that is not a feeling I like!)

Yet the thing is that God’s grace is sufficient for us all. I also know that as a good Lutheran, I am simultaneously both “saint and sinner.” In other words, I am not perfect…none of us are perfect. And I also believe that we often grow from our own life circumstances. My mom has taught me so much about faith and life! She is one of the most faithfilled women that I know and yet she has lived most of my life battling a mental illness. Through her example, God has shown me God’s grace and God’s love. I swear she would probably give the shirt off of her back if asked!

I may not be perfect, but God has shown me that despite my imperfections that I am lovable. God has shown us all that we are lovable…even when that is not so easy for us to see ourselves. But God places people in our lives so we will be “blessed to be a blessing.” I am reminded of a conversation I had today with a member from the congregation I just left. She was calling to get my new address and something she said caught me. She said, “Make sure they love you as much as we did/we do!”  I also have noticed that as I have been welcomed at this new call and as I said goodbye to the last call. All I can say is Wow…humbling…a reminder that no matter what…I am loved! And you too my friends, you are LOVED too…even when it doesn’t feel like you are lovable! That is the beauty of God’s grace…you do nothing to earn it. It is just freely given to you.

I’ll be honest I think it is so easy for us to be hard on ourselves. But the truth is people see things in us that we don’t always see in ourselves. Another sign of the beauty of God’s grace. So my friends when you are having a hard day and feeling unlovable, please know and remember that YOU ARE LOVED!

Goodnight my friends!

Built Up In Love

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love (Ephesians 4:1-10, 12-16).”

I’ve heard this passage many times in my life. Tonight my colleague used this text as our council devotion. I was only at council for a few minutes because the Bishop was there as they begin to talk about what the next step is for them. But they wanted me to come to give a final report so when my colleague read this text, I had to smile. My colleague has always been some one that I have learned a lot from. Like my colleague stated tonight, the first times he heard these texts he wondered what gifts he brought but now he looks at that text and wonders what texts each of them bring. Oh how true…they have instilled gifts in me that I didn’t have before. They each bring their own gifts. And together those gifts build up the community.

The words that stuck out for me tonight though were the words “Building itself up in love.” These people have loved me. They have shown me what God’s love and their love look like and they have written that love on my heart; a love that goes with me no matter where I go. Together we have “built each other up in love.”

It’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like without being called to DLC. God truly does have a sense of humor. Who would have ever thought that I would end up here but that is exactly wherre God called me? And I have been incredibly blessed to serve the homes and families of DLC. I am so very thankful for all they have taught me. I am so thankful for the love they have written on my heart. I am so very thankful for the gifts that we have shared together and the gifts they have instilled in me. And I am so thankful for them “building me up in love.”