Whats Right in Your World Friday Five

So this week’s Friday Five is courtesy of my good friends Frodo and Sam. Tell me 5 things that are good in our world. Or your world. Photos are a bonus.

1. My family-Mom, Dad, Ann, C, Grandma and Grandpa, aunts, uncles, etc. Last weekend it was so much fun to spend the weekend with my sis.

2. The awesome congregation I serve and my colleagues there

3. A much needed relaxing day off

4. My amazing friends…so thankful for each and every one of them in my life.

5. Excited for friends who are expecting new little ones. I love babies. Babies always make the world right in my eyes.

Lenten Friday Five

1. Oddly this year, the second day of Lent was Valentine’s Day. How was this for you? Was Valentine’s Day any different being in Lent? It didn’t really make a difference for me.

2. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday this year? Any memories of memorable celebrations past? Nope!

3. How about Ash Wednesday, past and/or present? Ash Wednesday is one of my favorite holy days. I remember three years ago after the Haiti earthquake marking the signs of the cross on members of my community of faith. It really hit home for me as I thought of my friend Renee, her husband Ben, and Ben’s cousin Jonathan. Hard not to think of Ben as I said the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This year was a great Ash Wednesday. I bought 105 Take 5 Candy Bars and only had 5 left after worship. Each candy bar had a note taped to it saying, “Take 5 for the Faith Five (The Faith 5 is from Faith Inkubators and Rich Melheim). Our Lenten theme is “Faith MAKES a difference!” So it just fit!

4. Do you have a personal plan of give-ups, take-ons, special ministries, and/or a special focus for your own spiritual growth between now and Easter? This year I am doing a Lent Photo A Day. I saw it on Facebook and thought it looked fun. I’m sharing the photos on my Instagram, Twitter, and FB. The hashtags are #rethinkchurch and #lentphotoaday.

5. Do you have a book or a website you are reading often during Lent? Not really. However I always appreciate and love what Nadia Bolz-Weber has to say. So Ill probably be more intentional about reading her blog during Lent.

Bonus: Song, prayer, picture, etc. that sums up your feelings about this liturgical springtime. I couldnt decide between these two pictures so I posted both. Both of these pictures show that life does come from death…RESURRECTION–EASTER! 🙂

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

My hands mark the sign of the cross
on the foreheads of those near and dear to me,
tears begin to trickle down my face
as I look into their eyes and say the words,
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.”

And as the ashes trace
the sign of the cross on their foreheads,
I am reminded of the mortality of each of them,
Reminded that death does and will come,
But also reminded of the love and mercy
of the One who promises He will
Never leave or forsake us.

Christ hung on the cross as he, too
was faced with his own mortality,
Giving the ultimate sacrifice,
Dying on the cross for each of us,
Again reminding us that
God will never leave or forsake us.

And so, as we leave with the
sign of the cross traced on our foreheads,
We again are reminded of our mortality;
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust”
“From Dust you came,
“To Dust you shall return.”

(Copyright Tara L. Ulrich)

Snow Day!

It is a cold snowy day! It is snowing and blowing like crazy—full blown blizzard in effect! Luckily the wind didn’t pick up until this afternoon so we still had worship this am which was great!

Made it safely home! But almost got stuck in my driveway at my apartment! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this snow day! Catching up on Project Runway and Nashville; watching some Chopped, House Hunters, and one of my all time fave movies Father of the Bride 2; a pizza in the oven; and in a few minutes will curl up on the couch to watch the Grammys!

And as I enjoy this snow day, I can’t help but think of all those who are out there trying to keep us safe. I heard an ambulance as I was videoing the blowing snow outside so I said a quick prayer for all involved.

Stay safe and warm, friends!!

Sneaky Friday Five

1) What is sneaking up on you, and what have you been thinking about? The Lent and Easter season is sneaking up on me. I’ve been thinking about life, family, friends!

2) What will you have for lunch today? Turkey Turnover that my colleague and his wife gave me last night. After I dropped some stuff off at their house for him.

3) If you were to get snowed in for two days, and you need to hunker down, what essentials and treats would you store up? I’d make sure my Kindle was loaded up with a good book. I would make sure I had baking goods. I like to bake when its cold out. Lots of yummy snacks and hot beverages; tea, apple cider, hot chocolate.

4) Tell me a story about one awesome thing you have experienced in the last couple of weeks. I used Ben Larson’s song Pierced Hands in my 7th Grade Confirmation class on Wed night. Little did I realize it was the 3rd anniversary of the day Ben’s family laid him to rest. I shared with his mom that I had used it. She wrote on my Fb wall and thanked me for using it. 🙂

5) What is your favorite office supply to splurge on? (now THAT is random, right?)
Post-It notes and fun colored Sharpies!

My Diaconal Heart

Have you ever simply just ran out of steam? I’m guessing there are days when we all feel like that. Today I especially am feeling it. For quite awhile now, a taskforce was put together in the ELCA to talk about Diaconal Ministers, Associates in Ministry and Deacons/Deaconesses as they look toward their future.

When I went to seminary, I knew that God wasn’t calling me to be a Pastor. I went to seminary with no idea what I was going to do. Would I get a degree in Youth Ministry? Would I become rostered? And what would it mean to be rostered? When I arrived at seminary, I went in thinking I’ll get my Master of Arts degree. But that is pretty much as far as I got!

During those first months of seminary, I was taking an MA colloquoim class. In that class we read a book titled “From Word to Sacrament.” (A book about the history of the Diaconate!) As I read through that book, I heard God’s call for my life. Phrases simply began jumping off the page for me; “bridging church and world,” “picking up basin and towel and washing the feet of all God’s people”; and “Word and Service.” These were words the author was using to explain Diaconal Ministry.

I’ll be honest I grew up in North Dakota and had never heard of this roster, but as those words jumped off the page to me, I heard God saying “T, this is your call in life.” The next week, I had a session with my Spiritual Director. I walked into her office, with a smile on my face, proclaiming, “I think God is calling me into Diaconal Ministry.” She looked at me and asked a simple question, “What makes you say that?” I don’t remember the exact details of that conversation but I remember talking about my mom, my mom’s illness, the stigma associated with it. I closed by saying, “I think God is calling me to wash my mom’s feet and all of those who are seen as outcasts.” She looked at me and said, “Yes, that is Diaconal Ministry.” From that day on, I never doubted that God was calling me into this new roster.

I went through seminary….which was not an easy journey. In fact, there were days I wasn’t sure I would make it. I remember sitting in a candidacy meeting and being asked why I struggled with a class. I recall my advisor saying, “It would have been really easy for her to walk out those doors, shut those doors, and never look back. It’s taken her more guts to stick with it.” I held those words close as I walked the journey through seminary; knowing they would help sustain me as I walked toward my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA!

After seminary, I spent almost an entire year before I received a call. People didn’t know what to do with me and the roster. The Holy Spirit continued to work and I finally received a call. On April 23,2006 I was consecrated into Diaconal Ministry. I was the 108th (if I am remembering my number correctly)Diaconal Minister of the ELCA! Two of my dear friends from seminary drove through the night to share in that day with me. Many of my family and other caring adults in my life also were gathered that day. My sister was teaching in Arizona and surprised me. She said she couldn’t come but she showed up. She said, “I would never miss this day.” They saw as I was presented with my basin and towel. They laid their hands on me and promised to support me. They heard me make the promises in the consecration rite that are engrained in who God has called me to be. That day is one of the most holiest and special days of my life!

Like seminary, it hasn’t been easy. I have always had to educate about Diaconal Ministry but it is who I am so it didn’t phase me. I have continued to teach congregations and leaders about it because I knew there were others who would follow behind me. I am a persistent advocate for Diaconal Ministry yet I’m weary!

As I stated earlier in this blog, a taskforce has been convening to talk about our future and the future of the other rosters. I appreciate all the hardwork that has gone into this but I’m also sad that I and many others have been continually educating and I wonder if that has all been for nothing…and is lost! I’m tired…tired of fighting for what God has called me to do.

So no matter what happens, I will continue to reach out to those outside the church walls and will continue to equip those in the congregation to do the same. I will FOREVER carry on with my Diaconal heart. It is engrained in me and who I am! And in my opinion,that can never be taken away!

(Sorry for such a lengthy blog post friends! But it has been heavy on my heart today. These are my views and not necessarily the views of other Diaconal Ministers or even the ELCA! And on a lighter note, this is my 550th blog post!)

The Farmer in All of Us

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. The Ravens and the 49ers are playing. However I’m not much of a sports fan–except for my Nebraska Cornhuskers, I really just watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. When I was a Communications student at U-Mary, one year our assignment was to watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. We then discussed the commercials in the class. One commercial I remember from that year was a Fed-Ex commercial that did a spoof on the Wizard of Oz.

Tonight I’m once again watching the game mostly for the commercials. There have been a few that I would totally classify as raunchy and gross. But then there have been some that have completely tugged at my heartstrings. Tonight it was this commercial from Ram trucks.

Every morning my dad gets up and heads to the farm where my uncle, grandpa, and him continue to farm the family farm. I’ve seen years when the crops haven’t been great. I have seen years when the crops have been wonderful. I have watched my dad drive a bailer up and down rows of freshly mown hay to make hay bales for the cows. I have taken my share of turns helping to move cattle from one pasture to another. I watch as my grandfather who has had two hip replacements still has to spend time on the farm. I see the wear it has had on all of their bodies.

Yet they are farmers…and they continue to farm. I know that the farmer is every part of my grandfather, uncle, and father! The farmer lifestyle runs through their veins and is in their blood. They have shown me and our family what it means to be good stewards of the land God has given us.

So tonight as we reflect “On the Farmer in All of us,” I want to say ‘thank you’ to my Dad, Grandpa and Uncle and to every farmer out there!


A Movie Review

On my blog, I don’t often review a movie, book or music yet tonight I am feeling compelled to share a little review with you!

This afternoon my sister and I decided to go see a movie! We thought “Silver Linings Playbook” sounded good. And neither of us knew much about the movie; just that it had Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in it! We still decided to go.

It’s a great movie and the topic is worth every penny we paid to see it! Kudos to the movie industry for tackling the topic of mental illness! I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to give too much away!

Sitting in that theater, I found myself glad that people came to see that movie! It is so important for us to educate about mental illness! Its going to take time but little steps like movies like this are a great start!

We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made”! God loves us for who we are; who he created us to be!

So if you haven’t seen it, please go see it!!

Groundhog’s Day Friday Five

1. The Holiday: On a scale of 1-5 (with 1 representing, “Hey! Stop hating on the most awesome season ever!” and 5 representing, “Green. NOW.”), how much are you hankering for spring? And what is, to you, a true sign that it is actually on its way? I love all of the seasons but its been so bitterly cold in MN lately, that I’ve been hankering for Spring a little more than usual.

2. The Film: Seen it? If yes, Love it? Hate it? Meh? I fall in the middle. I dont hate but I dont really love it either.

3. The Meaning: If you could relive one day of your life, what one would it be? I really cant think of any day…maybe a special day like graduation from seminary or my Consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA.

4. The Meaning, Part 2: If you had to relive one day of your life over and over until you got something right (a la the Bill Murray character in the film), what day would that be? I dont want to relive any day over.

5. The Meaning, Part 3: If you had to design a life-changing experience for a fairly despicable human being (as is, for example, the Bill Murray character at the film’s start), what would it be? How, given all sorts of unlikely powers to bend time and take control of another person’s personal growth, would you do it? Hmmm….not sure on this one!