“Tara Lee, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” 35 years ago today, those words were spoken to my parents, sponsors and an infant me as I was called and claimed through the waters of Baptism. God chose me and told me who I am; a beloved child of God just like God tells you who you are!
It seems fitting that a new journey began today on the anniversary of my Baptism. Through the waters of Baptism, God makes all things new. And today new is springing up all around me; a new house, a new call, a new city, a new church and so much more. Yet in the midst of the new, I know that God walks with me. I know that God continually reminds me and tells me who I am. And that is a promise worth clinging too.
Not just for me but for all of us.
I am reminded of a plaque I received from my advisor at seminary for graduation. The words remind me that everything flows back to those beloved waters of Baptism.
“Tara Lee, 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.”
I don’t have much to say tonight. It’s been a busy day and I’m tired. The truck has been loaded and will arrive at my new home tomorrow. I’m thankful that my colleague and his wife are letting me spend the night at their place tonight. I’ll head out in the am. Hopefully I’ll have more to say tomorrow but for night Good Night friends!
Today has been a good day….but also an exhausting day (so this post may be a short one). Today has been a sad day as I leave this place….but also a joy filled day as I look forward to the future and look at the blessings the homes and families of DLC have been in my life. Today has been a day where I have felt loved but it also has been a day reflecting on the blessings this place has been to me (as well as I have been to them).
This place has wrapped me in their love and grace the last six years. Together we have been “christ-bearers” for each other. (My colleague preached this awesome sermon about being “christ-bearers” today…and if you haven’t guessed he didn’t preach on the assigned texts for the day. He focused today’s worships all around “service.”) This place has prepared me to follow the Holy Spirit’s calling and has prepared me to serve at First in Minot. I am so very thankful for all they have taught me.
Today DLC had this wonderful going away celebration for me. I was incredibly humbled by the cards and gifts that people gave me. I am still trying to take in the words of some of those cards. And I’m still trying to take a hold of it in my heart and mind tonight. The church presented me with this gorgeous wall hanging that says “Family and then underneath that it has the text from Joshua that says “For me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” They also had an inscription placed under the picture as well.
I am incredibly humbled by how much I have been blessed by the homes and families of this place. Tonight I am so very thankful for each and every one of those homes and families. Tonight I am thankful for all they have taught me. Tonight I am thankful for the love and grace they have always shown me these last six years.
And tonight I still feel wrapped in their love and prayers which will go with me as I follow the Holy Spirit’s calling.
During the season of Lent the last several years I have found myself asking friends if they have any prayer requests. So I spend the season of Lent praying through my friend’s list. There is something so incredibly holy about praying for my friends and family. It is always so incredible to look at their prayer requests a year later and seeing those requests answered.
I love praying for my friends and family! I know that God doesn’t always answer the way they may want or expect, but if I can do something for them by praying, then that is exactly what I will do. And I know that my friends and family have and would return the favor for me. My friends have prayed for my family when someone has been sick or battling an illness. And my friends have prayed for so much more too.
This afternoon I headed over to the church for a 90th Birthday Open House.When I got to church, I was stopped by several of our church members because they know tomorrow is my last day at DLC and some of them are not able to come tomorrow. What has struck me today especially is the prayers that so many are lifting up for me right now. One of my dear ladies from church shared that she has been praying for me to find my Mr. Right. I simply said that it is something that I have wanted for a long time. And she replied that she knew that and that was why she was praying. She also shared that she wants me to have that because it is so great. Later another one of my ladies shared that she thought there were many who were praying that prayer for me.
I trust that God has heard my prayers…the many prayers I have prayed for that same thing. But I also trust that God hears their prayers as well. I know it will happen in God’s timing and not mine but sometimes that is so much easier said than done. Yet I know that prayer is so incredibly humbling especially when others are praying for me. I am reminded of some words from one of my favorite liturgies Marty Haugen’s Holden Evening prayer where his words capture the simplicity and beauty of prayer: “Our prayers rise up like incense”
Tonight I will say my prayers, lay my head on my pillow and trust in the prayers that are rising like incense for me this night as well.
The sky as far as you can see. The wind blowing so hard against your face as you work in the field that the grit and grime sticks to your body. The sweet fresh scent of the North Dakota badlands overtakes me and I take it all in. These are just a few of the things that I love about my beloved North Dakota. My heart and soul have and always belong to the prairie. (Which is where the title of this blog came from)
In seminary, I remember many friends sharing that they did not want to go to ND for their first calls. They didn’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere which I understood then and still understand now. Yet I wished that they would just give her a chance…they would see the beauty that this state has. I do remember a seminary professor sharing how much he loved ND and could possibly see himself moving there someday. My heart loved hearing his words. I wish more people could see her beauty.
Yes that beauty has been taken over in the west by the oil. And it isn’t the same as it once was. Yet ND still holds her beauty. Years ago many people saw the beauty in the land of North Dakota. Teddy Roosevelt spent much time in the ND badlands and loved being there. He even once said, “I have always said that I would have not been President had it not been for my time in North Dakota.” Sakakawea and Lewis and Clark traveled along the route through ND.
For me, there is something so incredibly holy about being in North Dakota. I have spent many nights laying in the grass looking up at the big sky taking in this beautiful land. I have felt the whip of a cold wind on a ND night and have felt the heat of a warm ND summer night on my face. I have heard the Western meadowlark (the ND bird) carry her song throughout the plains of ND. (I love how Teddy Roosevelt captures her voice. He once wrote, “One of our sweetest, loudest songsters is the meadow-lark…the plains air seems to give it a voice, and it will perch on the top of a bush or tree and sing for hours in rich, bubbling tones.”) I have watched my father, uncle, and grandfather work the land of ND. And I have found my place in the prairie! In the prairie, I am able to feel a sense of holiness, a sense of peace, a sense of belonging that I haven’t found anywhere else.
It is hard to put into words what the ND prairies do for my heart and soul. It is hard to share with others that haven’t experienced it like I have. Yet I know that my heart and soul belong to the prairie. Again Teddy Roosevelt seems to have captured my thoughts best. Living in the ND badlands, he once wrote “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” Or as he also wrote “Nothing could be more lonely and nothing more beautiful than the view at nightfall across the prairies to these huge hill masses, when the lengthening shadows had at last merged into one and the faint after-glow of the red sunset filled the west.”
Anyone who has read this blog before knows that my heart is so ready for someone to love. It is so ready to meet Mr. Right and have a family. And it is so ready to be loved by that special someone.
I am at that point in my life where everyone around me is married, having their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd children or is engaged. I am so truly happy for my friends yet it is so very difficult at the same time. Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a wife and mom. I did learn from the best. Even living with a mental illness most of my life, my mom is one of the most amazing woman in the world. I someday hope that I am at least half the wife and mother she has been.
I yearn so much for these things in my life. I have wonderful amazing guy friends yet I have not found that special someone. There is the brother I always wanted who has been a blessing in my life. Since getting married, we haven’t been able to keep in touch like we used too. And there is a dear guy friend in my life who is going through his own struggles. He is someone that I can talk to openly and honestly about anything and everything, yet I know he is grieving the loss of his marriage so I am trying to simply be a good friend. Yet part of me wonders what God might have in store for us. I know that if it is meant to be, it will happen BUT that is so much easier said than done.
I trust that this will happen in God’s timing and not my own. But that too is so much easier said than done. At 35 years old, I am so ready. Some of my friends have tried to talk me into doing foster care or adopting. I have prayed about it for a long time. And really think that I could see myself doing it sooner rather than later if that is what the Holy Spirit has in store for me. Perhaps that is how I am meant to be a mom! I know it won’t be easy but I believe and trust that God would place people into my life that would walk with me on this journey.
This is something I yearn so deeply for and I find myself blogging about it so often. There is something about writing my thoughts down and putting it out there. I just wish that my prayers, my yearnings, my longings would come true…sooner rather than later.
For now, I trust in the one who calls and claims me as a beloved child of God. For now, I trust in the one who promises to never leave us or forsake us. For now, I trust that it will happen in God’s timing and not my own.
Wow…here I am 13 days into this month of blog posts. And I am happy to say that I have actually been able to keep it up. I’ll admit that I’m not always sure if I have anything at all to say but I have found myself putting something on this page…a virtual version of putting pen to paper.
My mom used to tell me that when I was bored when I was little, all she had to do was give me pen and paper and I was a happy camper. I do enjoy writing but I really don’t spend the time to do it anymore. A couple of years ago I found a writing group at the local library and decided to take it up. Unfortunately there were only a few of us and the group eventually fell apart which made me sad. It was a place I felt comfortable writing; actually writing stories, etc and not work related stuff like sermons etc.
However I had an experience one day that totally broke my heart. One of the poems I shared was about my mom and her battle with mental illness. A visitor to the group that night basically attacked me and asked if my mom knew I was sharing her/our story and said I shouldn’t do that. She was very adamant that it just wasn’t right. I remember I was so taken aback and ran out of the class in tears. I even called my colleague because I wasn’t sure what to think. It was the first time I really experienced something like that. Ever since that experience, I have found myself holding back; holding back what I have to say because I am afraid of what people might think.
So perhaps this blog post a month challenge is just what I have needed! Something to finally get me virtually putting pen to paper more consistently and more openly.
“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.”
Today is Veteran’s Day! I am so very thankful for the men and women who have served our country for our freedom. I think especially of my late Grandpa Sam. I also think of my many friends and families who serve in the military. I am thankful for all of them! My friend Gretchen’s fiancee wrote this awesome blog post about Veteran’s Day. His post is so profound and I couldn’t say it any better myself so go check out his blog post at: http://thoughtfultheologues.wordpress.com. I hope you appreciate it as much as I did!
Today began the beginning of my last week at my current call. I chose to preach on two texts that have been engrained into our very being at that call over these last six years. I preached on Deut 6:4-9 and Micah 6:8. I knew that the likelihood of me shedding tears was extremely high so I stashed a box of Kleenex under the pulpit. Good thing too because tears were definitely shed.
After worship several people came up to me and gave me a hug because they are not going to be there next Sunday for my last Sunday. One hugged me and was like you’ve been here since my boys were little. So very true!
Another one was like you didn’t have to make your sermon so sad. That was not my intention but how do you recap 6 wonderful years in just 7-10 minutes? Impossible I say! :p Maybe not impossible but definitely difficult!
I’m thankful for this dear place that has blessed me in so many ways. They have written on my heart God’s love and their love and that love will always go with me no matter where I go!
As one of my friends reminded me on FB today, tears mean you care and they care and life together has been good! Tonight I go to bed feeling blessed; ready to spend this next week sharing one last time with these dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
For without them I wouldn’t be the woman leader I am today! They have watched me grow and shaped me into who I am today!!