31 Days On…..

My friend Anna who blogs at Girl with Blog introduced me to the 31 Days challenge which was started at the Nesting Place. The idea is to blog for 31 days straight on one topic. Wooo….31 days on one single topic. That’s a lot of writing…but for some reason, I was feeling especially compelled to try it this year.

And since it is my first time, I had no idea where to begin. I put a plea out on my FB page and got several ideas back from my friends and family; 31 days of Faith Formation, 31 Days of Mental Illness, 31 Days of North Dakota, 31 Days of Being a Single in the Church, and 31 Days of Thoughtfulness. I feel like I at least have something valid and vital to say about each of these issues but I was still having a hard time narrowing down my topic. I wanted to blog on faith formation because it is something I love and am passionate about. I wanted to blog about being a single in the church because at 36 years old, I am so ready to be a mom and a wife (with no prospects in sight). And I wanted to blog about my family’s journey with mental illness because it is a topic that many people don’t talk about often and need to be more open about.

Sometimes I realize that I am thinking too hard when the topic is right there in front of me. So here it is my dear readers and friends. Here is what I will be blogging about for the next 31 days….

Yep, that’s right I am going to blog about my family’s journey with mental illness. I can hardly believe that I am writing these words on a page, because it is scary to share so much of who I am; to be so vulnerable. Yet I feel compelled and called to share our story in the hopes that it will bless others.

My mom has lived with a mental illness most of my life. Shortly after my sister was born my mom had a nervous breakdown. I was three years old when that happened and I don’t know anything different. Growing up Mom was in the hospital at least once a year. It is so much a part of who we are….who I am. So my hope and prayer is that during these 31 days, we will spread the awareness of mental illnesses and will break the stigma that comes with the illness.  (And it is pretty cool that Mental Health Awareness week falls in the middle of the 31 days as well)

Day One: Being Brave
Day Two: In Sickness and In Health
Day Three: Unspeakable Joy
Day Four: Teach Us To Pray
Day Five: Mental Illness Awareness Week
Day Six:  A Whole New Perspective
Day Seven: Breaking the Silence
Day Eight: Washing Each Other’s Feet
Day Nine: A Poem for My Momma
Day Ten: Hey, You, Child of God!
Day Eleven: The Bravest Thing You’ll Ever Do
Day Twelve: God Is Holding You
Day Thirteen: Making Decisions
Day Fourteen: A Special Companion for Mom
Day Fifteen: Media and Mental Illness
Day Sixteen: A Surprising Encounter
Day Seventeen: Broken and Loved
Day Eighteen: It’s Not Fair
Day Nineteen: Who I Am
Day Twenty: Out of the Darkness
Day Twenty One: Yeah, Me Too!
Day Twenty Two: Everything I Ever Learned
Day Twenty Three: Educating about Mental Illness
Day Twenty Four: Koinonia
Day Twenty Five: A Broken Heart
Day Twenty Six: Sunday Simplicity
Day Twenty Seven: Out of the Pit
Day Twenty Eight: Identity
Day Twenty Nine: The Value of Tears
Day Thirty: You Are Powerful
Day Thirty One: Giving Thanks for These 31 Days

Sunday Blessings 51

(1) A great YouthWorkers meeting. So great to catch up with that group of people!

(2) Spending time with the best friends in the world. Spending time with these ladies is good for the soul.

(3) Being sneaky and buying my friend CT’s bday present while she was in the store with her.

(4) Getting such a fun bday gift from my friend CT.

(5) A surprise letter from a dear Diaconal friend. Such an incredible lady!

(6) Getting back into Zumba again. Such a fantastic workout.

(7) The return of my fave tv shows!!

(8) Real mail from my friend SKDO. So good to hear from her!

(9) Garlic chicken ranch pizza from Pinterest. Yummy!!!!

(10) Texting with my friend MW

(11) MSU Homecoming Parade and Fall Block Party fun with my sis!

(12) Making crowns with the little ones for our Family SS lesson. So much fun blinging out our crowns.

(13) The older kids making hearts. On one side listing ways that please God and on the other side, ways that displease God. Spontaneously decorating their hearts with the jewels as well.

(14) One of my fave little girls plopping down into my lap this summer.

(15) Her sister (also one of my faves) making sure I got my Sunday morning hug and asking to sit right next to me during our lesson.

(16) Applebee’s Oreo Cookie Shake, Thai Shrimp Salad and French Onion Soup. Awesome!!!

(17) A fun housewarming at TM and CS’s. So much fun!!!

(18) Getting to do one of my fave things; reading story books to kiddos.

So many blessings and so thankful for such great friends and family. However tonight I’m thinking of a seminary friend/classmate and her family. She was diagnosed with cancer and it is moving quickly. Please pray for Karen C and he’d family!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Fall Friday Five

1. What’s your best homemade treat? Is it worth all the effort? (It doesn’t have to be something canned. ) Really anything pumpkin..pumpkin pancakes, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumkin Streusel Muffins (YUM!!!)

2. At our house, applesauce and football are the harbingers of fall. What are they at your house? Again anything Pumpkin, the return of my fave tv shows, college football; Nebraska football as a matter of fact. GO BIG RED!!!

3. Someone gave me an “automatic” apple peeler from one of those home cooking product shows. (It doesn’t work all that great.) What’s one kitchen contraption or tool you’d gladly trade me for it? Hmmm…I cant think of anything.

4. Whose the best chef in your home? Why? Me since its only me! 😛

5. Cider, apple juice, or hard cider? Discuss.  Actually all of these! Hot Cider on a cold day is fantastic. And I love hard cider. Its usually my drink of choice.

BONUS: Recipes! You know we love ‘em!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins: (Thanks to my friend Sarah at EveryDayHoly for this recipe several years ago)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the cinnamon streusel topping:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
For the glaze:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
To make the streusel topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add cold butter and toss to coat, using your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, butter, eggs and vanilla.
Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.
Place into oven and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed.
When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin.
Allow glaze to set before serving.

Molded by God's Hand

I’ve been thinking about my One Word 365 word “Gentle” more as of late. Perhaps because I have such a tender heart and sometimes that tender heart is so easily bruised, broken, etc.

I often find myself upset or sad because I let my tender heart get in the way. But the thing is, as a friend, reminded me, my tender heart was created by God. God meant for me to have this heart!

Well duh….isn’t that the truth? God DID make me with this tender heart. My heart was “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. What a beautiful amazing gift that is!!!

But some days/weeks that is harder to see when my tender heart is hurting or when it’s been bruised. It is especially during those times that God calls me (calls all of us) to be “gentle” with ourselves. God says, “You are who you are because I made you that way. I know every hair upon your head. I know exactly who you are!”

Wow! But that’s the beautiful gift of who we are! God created each of us and knows our every fiber. God wants us to be “gentle” with those pieces of ourselves that we see as our weaknesses. Because I truly think when it all comes down to it, God sees our weaknesses as our strengths.

It is like a potter with clay who molds and shapes his/her pottery. God has done the same for us. God’s hands molded us into who we are.

So my friends, as I hear God say these words to me, also hear God saying them to you as well: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made! I made you exactly the way you are and I don’t want you to ever forget that. I love you and made you who you are!”

My friends, may we continually remind each other that we are and have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God; the master potter.

The Big 50 Sunday Blessings

(1) Texting my friend KH and getting a text back from her. Missing my NWMN friends!!

(2) Getting to help out a friend. I love spending time with her girls.

(3) Tucking in my friends daughter and having her lean in to give me a kiss. So sweet!!!

(4) Spending almost two hours catching up with a dear friend.

(5) A cool ministry moment; giving a young gal a prayer shawl.

(6) A great first night of 7th Grade Confirmation

(7) Having a youth ask if I would do a special Backpack Blessing for him. Standing in my office with him and his mom, my hand on his backpack, praying over and blessing his backpack. Such a neat moment!!

(8) Volunteering and helping out a friend at the Wine Walk. So much fun and I got a bottle of wine!

(9) A Thank You card from JH

(10) Finally getting to watch my Huskers on tv this year! And watching them kick some butt!!!

(11) Volunteering at an event. So much fun!

(12) A great morning of blessing our Sunday School teachers and our preschoolers and 3rd Graders as they received their Bibles this morning.

(14) Installation of PB at FLC this morning and Installation of PC at LCM this afternoon.

(15) A great meeting about ELCA youth gathering. Such an eager group of youth and families!

(16) Spending time with my good friend EG

(17) Texting and chatting with JH about Practice Discipleship stuff

(18) Some of the most amazing friends in the world. When I moved to Minot almost a year ago, I was so fearful of making new friends. And now almost a year later, I can’t even begin to put into words how incredibly blessed I have been by God. God has brought so many wonderful people into my life. Some days it almost seems so unreal and I have to pinch myself. So thankful and blessed!!!

“New” Friday Five

Only afterwards, do we realize that we have “found” something that we like–like a new way to look at something; a new (to me) author; a new song or hymn; a new food. Today share with us something that you like that seemed surprisingly “new” to you sometime in the near past. It could even be a RE-discovery.

Here is a list, but you can choose your own five items you would like to share! Please join us today in playing FF.

1. Author–Hmmm! I love reading. But one of my new favorites is definetely Richard Paul Evans. I recently finished the Walk series and it was so awesome. I love how down-to-earth his characters and stories are.

2. Shampoo– Sebestian Drench. My hairstylist told me about it and it is definetely on the spendier side. I love how well it works on my hair!

3. Food–Thai Food. I didn’t think I would like it but when I lived in F-M, I found out I really LOVED it. I have been missing Thai food. I recently tried a recent here and liked it. But there is  another Thai restaurant here in town I havent tried yet but I have heard great things about it! Cant wait to try it!

4. Activity–Zumba! I love Zumba. But the Curves I attend didnt offer it in the summer months so we are getting going again. I havent been able to go yet but am already looking forward to next week.

5. Music–Old school Jars of Clay! Jars is my fave and I love going back and listening to their early stuff like Love Song for a Savior.

Sunday Blessings 49

(1) More baby snuggles

(2) Spending time in the ND Badlands

(3) Getting to spend some quality time with my friend TE

(4) A phone call from PMA!

(5) A nice warm house to keep me warm on this cool night

(6) A fun birthday card from my dear friend MW. Totally made me smile!

(7) Bailing a friend out of jail as he participated in the March of Dimes Jail and Bail

(8) A new Shutterfly photo book

(9) My colleague/office neighbor at church sharing a space heater with me.

(10) Making potato soup in the crockpot

(11) A friend asking my opinion about what version of the Bible I would recommend.

(12) Sissy calling and saying she wants to come up for the weekend.

(13) Texting with MW

(14) Chocolate mint Tutti Fruitti

(15) Spending the day with my sis; some Fall shopping, eating at Olive Garden, etc.

(16) An awesome Rally Sunday

(17) A fantastic PLN (post-Liturgical) nap

Yet another Random Friday Five

1. If you could sneak away anywhere this weekend, right now, all expenses paid, where would you go and what would you go ? I would go visit my friends that I miss. Or maybe I’d go to my beloved castle; the seminary I attended. I also would love to go spend some time in the Rocky Mountains. Or maybe I’d go to Ireland; a place I dream of visiting some day!

2. What is for lunch today? (one of the very first FF I ever played asked this.) I skipped lunch but snacked on some Totinos pizza rolls.

3. Along that first-FF-I-ever-played theme, what are you wearing today? I’m wearing cute jeans from the Dress Barn, my fave well worn casual Sketcher tennis shoes, a Newsboys tshirt with bright neon colors that says “Your love never fails” and my fave Lutheran Chick sweatshirt. I’m also sporting a newsboys style hat that is blinged out with a cross. It’s gotten chilly here this week in ND.

4. Along the Today Theme, what are you doing today? Just enjoying my day off. Picked out a few recipes from Pinterest and got some shopping done. Now Potato soup cooking in my crockpot. Catching up on my DVR!

5. Along the random theme, what is your favorite scent, and why? I love cinnamon!! Cinnamon candles, cinnamon candy etc. I love Bath and Body Works Juicy pear scent. I really love any scent that makes me smile. Pumpkin, apple cider etc in the fall, peppermint at Christmas time etc.

Birthday Week Edition Sunday Blessings (or #48)

(1) Sleeping in until 10 am. I can’t remember the last time I slept in that late.

(2) Bonus winner on the #RallyRevGals blog contest. Fun way to start my bday week.

(3) The movie “Daddy Daycare.” It always makes me laugh!

(4) Receiving a letter in the mail explaining why a check I’ve been waiting for has been taking so long

(5) Bday card from my Dad and C

(6) Spending the day celebrating my birthday with my momma a day early

(7) A random call from my Daddy 🙂

(8) Bday lunch with PK and PB at Olive Garden. Thanks guys!

(9) PK’s wife M surprising me and bringing me a present.

(10) Bday texts from some really great people! Thanks MG, MW, DC and SM/LAM (still my fave greeting of the day seeing LAM’s sweet little face)

(11) FB! I wouldn’t normally say FB but it sure makes a girl feel incredibly utterly amazingly loved on her birthday.

(12) Finally receiving that check that was taking FOREVER!

(13) Bday cards from my sis and Gma and Gpa!

(14) An awesome night at Wild at Wines with my friend EG! Free food, wine and even having a bunch of strangers sing Happy Birthday to me!

(15) A nice breakfast with a parishioner talking about Thrivent

(16) Seeing my friend JH and having her stay overnight.

(17) A comment on my blog from my friend HSG who said my post made her smile. She made me smile too!

(18) Spending the day with my friend AN and being her assistant as she took pics etc this afternoon.

(19) Finding an awesome find at Menards tonight for $32 and it really works as an awesome coffee table!

(20) Getting to talk to my dear friend JK. Love her and her family!

(21) A thank you card from SH and MH for a gift I sent them for little OH. Glad you liked the outfit friends!

(22) Getting some baby snuggles in

(23) Seeing my dear friend TE

(24) An awesome new cross as a new to Western ND synod since last rostered leaders retreat

(25) Being blessed by a bunch of cool people including dear friends

Oh the Places We Can Go Friday Five!

If someone told you they were coming to your city/state/country for the first time, what five things would you recommend that they be sure to see or do? This might be a city, national park, historic site, restaurant or other attraction. Have at it, and share the link to your blog in the comments below. Be sure to visit and comment on other participants’ efforts today, too. Oh, the places we can go!

Here I am in Western North Dakota! Yes, we have been impacted by the oil boom but ND has and will always hold a special place in my heart. In fact, the name of my blog comes from the prairies of North Dakota. Something so holy about being on the prairies of ND!

North Dakota has the most gorgeous scenery when the fields are been harvested. I am a little biased but the skies of North Dakota are GORGEOUS! The sky as far and as wide as you can see. With all that in mind, I would take you to the Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Medora, ND. The Medora Musical is a gem and is held every summer. ND girl Kat Perkins (who became wellknown on the tv show The Voice) even has made a few appearances this summer. Medora is a quant little tourist town and is so fun. Teddy Roosevelt used to hang out in this area a lot. He loved it there! And if we’re lucky, the buffalo will be out in the park. I’ve been in the park and had to stop because the buffalo were blocking the road.

Medora Musical
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)
Medora Logo
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

Leaving Medora, we would find our way to the Enchanted Highway. The Enchanted Highway is a highway with the worlds largest scrap metal sculptures constructed at invervals along the way. It really may seem odd but it is fun to see a master artist.

Grasshoppers Delight on ND Enchanted Highway
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

North Dakota has had some great travelers who have crossed her path. Sakakawea and Lewis and Clark were some of those travelers. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is a great spot to stop especially if you are history buff. You also can see points along the Missouri River where they more than likely camped out on their journey. Imagine the cold etc they experienced as they were traveling.

Inside Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
(Photo Courtesy Google Images)

In all honesty, people don’t give North Dakota credit. There is something so holy about this place. And there is truly things to do here. You can take in a Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks game in the summer. You can go to one of the states zoos. For the size of ND, there really are great zoos…Fargo, Wahpeton, Minot, and Bismarck.

Taken at Roosevelt Park Zoo–September 4, 2014
(Photo copyright Tara L. Ulrich)

North Dakota is truly a great place to be but if I wasnt in North Dakota, I would love to live in Colorado. I have gone to a continuing education event for the last 5 summers. Its held right outside of Estes Park Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my all-time fave places in the world! I’ve seen God’s handiwork in this place so often! Love Colorado. So perhaps you could take a little road trip and visit both of my fave places…Colorado and North Dakota and check out some other states along the way! 🙂

Sunset at Lily Lake—Rocky Mountain National Park
(Photo Copyright Tara L. Ulrich)