Hope Worth Waiting For

We wait all the time, don’t we? We go to the post office to mail a package and we wait. We go to the grocery store to buy groceries and we end up waiting at the check out counter. We wait for the anticipation of the next big day or the next big event. But what I have come to realize is that we are not very good at waiting AT ALL. And I am just as guilty as the next person. On my way to workout and I get stopped because a train needs to cross the tracks. I find myself tapping my fingers on my wheel because this is holding me up and I need to get to my destination NOW! It seems that in this high tech world, we have so much accessible to us that we have forgotten how to be patient.

Advent is the perfect time to truly wait and be patient. Now I realize in a house full of kiddos, that can be extremely difficult but I think it also is important for us to remind children the true reason for the season and the importance of being patient. This season is all about the waiting and the preparing and the arrival of this precious holy child; the one who brings light in the midst of the darkness, hope in the midst of despair, and joy in the midst of sorrow. This holy child is the one who can bring about peace, justice, and mercy.

As you prepare your hearts, minds, and homes this Advent season, may you take the time to be patient, to wait for this precious child born in the unlikeliest of places. This precious child who is the Prince of Peace, who is Emmanuel, who is the Savior of the world, who is Messiah. This holy infant born in a manger in Bethlehem is the embodiment of hope in the world.

” ‘Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’ “–Luke 2: 11-14

Jesus was sent into the world by God to remind us that there is always hope especially when we trust in this holy child. This holy child who later sits with tax collectors and sinners. This holy child who will be crucified for our sins and then will be raised from the dead. Jesus is the hope that we all must cling to; a hope that only God can give, a hope that is born that holy night in a manger in Bethlehem; A hope in an injust world that will bring about justice; A hope in a broken world, that will bring about healing and wholeness; A hope in a violent world that brings about healing, reconcilation and peace.

Hope is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen.”

And this, my friends, is a hope worth waiting for!

On My Nativities, Advent and Waiting on this Precious Holy Child

I’ll admit that I love this time of year. There is something just so incredibly holy about waiting and preparing for this King to be born. And to be born in a manger of all places; the unlikeliest of places for baby Jesus to be born but that is exactly where he comes into the world.

When Mom and Dad were still together, they did everything to make sure my sister and I had a great holiday season. I only remember some of the gifts we received but I do remember who we were with. It was more important to spend time with family then the gifts we received. They taught us the true meaning of celebrating this season. I remember when I was in 5th grade and my sister was in 2nd grade when they bought both of us our very first Bibles. Andrea and I were so excited for those Bibles that one day when Mom and Dad went out, we took a peak at what was in those beloved Christmas packages. I’m almost ashamed to admit it now, but we opened up those gifts, took a peak and rewrapped them!

I do enjoy giving gifts but this season is about the waiting, longing and preparing for this King who comes into the world. When I was in college, I bought my very first Nativity scene; a nativity scene of my very own. It is a simple piece; only five pieces and all glass. But that simple Nativity caught my eye in the christian bookstore and I had to have it. I bought it and took it back to my dorm room where I immediately set it up. That nativity started my nativity collection and each of these nativities are reminders to me of why we celebrate Emmanuel “God with Us!”

My Very First Nativity

Yes, you read that right. I collect Nativities. The collection is a wonderful reminder to me of why we celebrate. In fact, if you ever been to my house, you would know that I keep one up all year round. Some friends and I visited another friend and noticed that she had a nativity up in her office. My friend asked why and she asked, “Should we just celebrate Jesus one day a year.” When I heard her answer, I knew that from then on I would keep one up to remind me to celebrate Jesus all year through. I have nativities from different parts of the world. I have Nativities given to me from so many different people. Each one has it’s own unique story.

A handpainted Spanish Nativity that my friend J
bought while she was living in Guatemela!

Today as I put them out, I was once again reminded of where each one came from and the person who gave it to him. I found myself stopping, holding the nativity in my hand, feeling it’s texture and taking in it’s beauty just like I believe Mary took in every scent of her new son, took in each of his features and realized whose mother she was to be!

The special Angel Nativity Scene
given to me by my Aunt C.

God sent God’s son into the world as this beautiful gift who wasn’t afraid to turn the world upside down. My aunt C gave me a nativity that she bought for my Grandma while Grandma was living in the nursing home. My Aunt didn’t realize I collected Nativities but one day I must have mentioned it in one of our conversations. Not long after, the nativity arrived at my front door with a note about how this gift was always meant for me.

Every time I look at this gift I am reminded of the angel’s words to Mary. “Do not be afraid.” God sent God’s son as a promise of peace and hope in the world especially in a world that is broken. And trusting in Emmanuel “God with Us”, this Advent season, may we take the time to take in the beauty of this season and remember the true reason for the season.

Only a fraction of my Nativity collection

Gift Giving and Receiving (Five Minute Friday)

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Give.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

I am one of those people who loves giving gifts. There is something so joyful about finding that perfect gift for a family member or friend. This past year I have been blessed by amazing friends that have been brought into my life. My friend CT and I both have birthdays in September. After our birthdays, we were going to a meeting of youthworkers and got their early. CT, myself, and another friend were looking in one of our fave little stores. I thought to myself I need to find CT’s birthday gift. I sneakily looked around the store and found a gift for her. I snuck up to the counter and paid for her gift. I then stuck it in my purse. When we got to the restaurant, I pulled out the gift and gave it to her. She was like, “You little stinker. I was going to buy your birthday gift too. But I couldnt figure out how I was going to do it with you in the store.”

After we finished eating, CT told me that I had to stay in the car while CT and our other friend went back to the store to pick up my gift. I patiently waited for them. CT picked out my gift and gave it to me when they got back to the car. It was an insulated drinking glass and straw with the words “Life’s too short to be anything but happy.” CT told me that it was indeed the gift she had spotted early and that it reminded her of me. It was so fun to give each other our gifts and every time I drink out of that glass I think of my friend and the gift she is in my life.

Gift giving is such a blessing, yet as I look at the world around me, there is so much more I wish to give the world and my “hopefully someday children.” I want to give them safety. I want them to feel safe at their schools and not fear that a gunman is going to come into their classroom. I want to give them a world that is full of God’s justice and God’s peace; a world where there is not violence, racism, etc. I want to give the world peace, love, and hope. And as I wish for a world filled with these things, I know these are things that only God can give us. God gives us love, hope, forgiveness and is the one who can ultimately grant and give peace.

A Thanksgiving Greeting

“To be grateful for the good things in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for the good as well as the bad, that requires good spiritual work.”–Henri Nouwen

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am so incredibly grateful and thankful for so much. But I also know there are many hurting today as well. If you could please say a prayer for a friend and his family today, I would greatly appreciate it. His mom passed away last night.

In the midst of life’s joys and sorrows, God reminds us “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

May your hearts be filled with love especially Gods love today.

Happy Thanksgiving friends and family! I am so very thankful for each and everyone of you!

My A-Zs of Thanksgiving (Part Two: N-Z)

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”–1 Thessalonians 5:18

(N) North Dakota. I love my beloved prairies of North Dakota. This place will always hold a special place in my heart.

(O) Office (My office) I am so thankful for my job and my own space.

(P) Praying on the Prairie…my blog; a place for me to pour out my heart and soul. Thankful to all of you who read my posts and comment on them.

(Q) Quarters. I am still so very thankful that I don’t have to look for quarters every time I want to do laundry.

(R) ROOK; the card game my family and I play at all of our family gatherings.

(S) Stocking caps to keep my head warm on cold days. It is snowing rather heavily at the moment and I am so happy that my friend Sarah made me a cap to keep my head warm on days like today.

(T) Tires. I have a flat tire on my car and am pretty sure it has a slow leak SO today especially I am thankful for tires especially new tires.

(U) University of Mary where I got my college degree and made awesome friends through Campus Ministry, the Communications program, through the Drama department and so much more.

(V) Voxer. I haven’t really thought of my self as an overly techy person but I do enjoy technological. Voxer has become one of my new favorite apps since it allows me to talk to new friends; near and far. So cool!!!

(W) Wartburg Theological Seminary. So thankful for that place and all the people there.

(X) Xtremely awesome friends and family!

(Y) YOU!!! (Yep you reading this. I am thankful for YOU!) 🙂

(Z) Zumba. I am sad that my Curves is no longer offering Zumba. I am on the master search for a video of Zumba instruction. It is something different and really makes my work outs very effective.

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”–Ephesians 1:16

For Ferguson

“Lord have mercy”
“Christ have mercy”

“God’s peace to us we pray”

“But what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.”–Micah 6:8

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.”–Amos 5:24

“I’ve placed my Spirit upon him; he’ll decree justice to the nations.”–Matthew 12:28

I am praying for so many tonight; those who are called to serve and protect; those who don’t feel safe because they look different; and for all your children.

May God’s peace and justice ultimately reign!!

My A-Zs of Thanksgiving (Part One: A-M)

Hi Friends! I don’t know about you but it is so crazy to think it is already that time of the year: Thanksgiving and then Advent and Christmas. A couple of years ago I did this A-Z list of Thanksgiving and it got rather long. Today I saw a friend was splitting hers up into two posts and I thought what a great idea. I know we are all busy this week so thought I would keep it simple and do something a little fun. Enjoy my friends!

(A) My younger sister whose name starts with the letter A. She is one of my best friends in the world. Love her to pieces.

(B) BLC–The place where my momma lives. They truly take wonderful care of her.

(C) Camp of the Cross (or as it is sometimes affectionately called on this blog SuperAwesomeBibleCamp). It is the Bible camp that I worked at for several summers and is also the place where I heard God calling me into ministry.

(D) Dilworth Lutheran Church. It is the place that made me into the woman leader that I am today. So thankful for that place and the dear people there.

(E) Every Day Holy which is my friend Sarah’s blog and other awesome blogs that I get to read each and every day.

(F) First Lutheran Church. This place is indeed blessing my life. Thankful and blessed to serve here. Also Friends. I have been incredibly blessed with the most awesome amazing friendships. So thankful and blessed to have each and every one of them in my life.

(G) Grandparents. I love them so much and miss Gma and Gpa H as they are both in heaven. Looking forward to spending time with Gma and Gpa U this week. They all have taught me so much.

(H) HUSKERS! Yep I am a huge BIG RED fan! And of course I am thankful for my very cute little house.

(I) InCourage. I am so thankful my friend Sarah introduced me to this website and its groups etc. Part of my morning routine is to read the InCourage blogs. So many times their words touch my heart!

(J) Japanese Treats and Japan. Where my friend Heather and her hubby currently are living. I love when she sends me treats from Japan. And I love reading about their adventures there!

(K) A sweet little girl at church whose name starts with the letter K. She runs down the aisle every Sunday during the Meet and Greet time to give me a hug. I am thankful for her and all the kids I get to work with at church. I also love spending time with my friend CT’s girls. So blessed to have them all in my life.

(L) Link-Ups. I didn’t realize there were so many awesome link-ups out there until I participated in the write31days challenge.

(M) My Momma. And my friend MW.

So that’s my A-M list. Be back tomorrow with my N-Z list!

Sunday Blessings 57

Another week of blessings

(1) Chatting online with one of my write31 days friends. Love you TM!

(2) Getting a vox from my write31 days friend DB.

(3) Old episodes of Boy Meets World.

(4) Texting with my friend MW.

(5) Thanksgiving Dinner with an organization that works with mentally, physically, etc handicapped individuals. It was so yummy!

(6) Butter braids being delivered and all of the youth picking up their Butter Braids by the end of the day.

(7) One of the individuals from the above group telling me he likes me.

(8) Another one showing me his very cool dyed hair (my fave color) and having a conversation with me.

(9) Another one shaking my hand and asking me about my job. Later he told me to have a great day.

(10) Awesome Faith conversation at FLY (First Lutheran Youth) tonight.

(11) Apple cake with awesome caramel frosting at the WELCA meeting this afternoon.

(12) My friend SM texting me to let me know she was at a meeting with my other friend KW. I miss KW so much.

(13) Chatting with my new write 31 days friend TM.

(14) Texting with my friend MW who I miss lots.

(15) Three of my fave little girls running up the aisle to give me a hug during the greeting time.

(16) Getting a hug from a lady at church because I sent her a thank you card for the tree skirt she have me.

(17) Holding a sweet 9 week old baby girl. So sweet!!!

(18) Talking to my momma on the phone

(19) A nice PLN (Post-Liturgical nap)

(20) Two colleagues giving me rides to their church and back home tonight so I could hear one of my previous Confirmation students speak about her Young Adults in Global Mission Experience.

(21) Getting to hug this wonderful young adult. Proud of who she is!!

A Season of Singleness

This is not at all how I imagined my life!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be a mom. My sister and I would play with our Cabbage Patch dolls. We would spend hours playing with our dolls and caring for them like a mother cares for her child/children. Mom even saved all of our baby clothes for the day when we would have our own children. Those clothes are STILL carefully packed away until that day.

I remember clothing my blonde haired Cabbage Patch doll in the very first dress my daddy ever bought me; a yellow dress with a puppy on it with the words, if I am remembering correctly, “Daddy’s little girl.” My dad was so proud of buying that dress for his first born. And after playing with our dolls, my sister and I would watch fairytales for hours watching as the Princess found her Prince Charming and got her “happily ever after.” THAT is what I imagined for my life…finding my Prince Charming and getting my “happily ever after.”

But that is not what my life is. I am a thirty-six year old single woman who is very weary…weary of this season in her life, weary of having a life that I didn’t imagine, weary of not finding my Prince Charming and getting my “happily ever after.” I know that I need to give it to God and trust in God’s timing not my own. Yet, my friends, I am still weary; very weary!

I watch as dear friends find their Prince Charmings and two lives become one. I watch as many friends around me hold their beautiful children after they take their first breath. I even walk through the department stores picking out cute outfits for these little ones and then buying those clothes. I take them home, wrap them beautifully, pack them carefully into a box and then send them off to my friends knowing how much this little gesture means to them. I’ll be honest…I love shopping for baby gifts but there is also a part of me that feels broken as I am shopping for them and not for my own children. Truthfully, I am so very happy for them yet I am still weary; weary of this season of singleness in my life.

I got to hold a three week old baby at church last week and I was so happy. I held that sweet soul against my chest and breathed in her beautiful scent. I was delighted that her Mom let me hold her and spend time with her in my arms. Together that little girl and I walked up and down that room; chittering and chattering. I was in my own little world. Holding new life brings me such joy…and even hope. Yet I am still weary…still deeply weary of this season of singleness in my life.

I wonder when this season will end or if it will last forever. And my heart has a hard time accepting the fact that this season of singleness will last my entire life….because I still so deeply yearn to be a mother, to find my Prince Charming and to have my “happily ever after.” Why would God put this desire on my heart if it wasn’t part of my story and this season was going to last forever?

I have spent my thirty six years on this Earth serving God in the best ways I know how. Yet this season doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the end. I know that perhaps God might be calling me to a new plan; a different plan. Perhaps God is calling me to do foster care. Or maybe God is calling me to be a mom through adoption. (Two things that have found a way into my prayers and my heart as I discern where God is leading me) I am not sure when this season of singleness will end…but what I do know is that there are others of you out there who understand where I am coming from. You too are tired of being alone. You too are ready to find your Prince Charming and have your “happily ever after.” You too very strongly dislike being the fifth wheel.  You too dream of the day when you get to try on wedding gowns and experience the “This is the ONE” feeling as you put it on. Then you too also picture yourself walking down the aisle to your Prince Charming. You too wonder when this season will come to an end.

And, my single friends, I am with you every step of the way. I am sooo exhausted; so tired of explaining why I am still single. I am so tired of waiting for my dream to come true. But what I do know is that my worth is not determined by whether or not I am a mom; or whether or not I am a wife; or whether or not I have a ring upon my finger. My worth, our worth is determined by the one who fashioned us, formed us and knows every hair upon our heads. This One who knows if, when, and how this season of singleness will end.

Some days I still have an extremely difficult time trusting in this One….yet I know that this One has the ultimate answer and knows every desire of my heart; every desire of your heart. I pray that together, as we are so very weary of this season of singleness, we can find a way to see each other through this time.

But, my friends, even as I pour my heart and soul into this space, I want you to know even though I am trusting in my Lord’s timing and not my own…..

I am still weary; weary of this season of singleness.

Noticed by God (Five Minute Friday)

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. (It’s Thursday and I just attended my first FMF Twitter Party where the prompt was released. So much fun! Already looking forward to next week’s party) The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “Notice.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

I pour my heart and soul out onto the page. But does anyone notice?

You pour your heart and soul out onto the page too. But does anyone notice you too?

So often we get get caught up in the statistics. Is anyone reading my heart and soul? Is it even worth it for me to pour my heart onto the page? Yet that isn’t at all what God wants us to notice.

God wants us to notice each other; to notice each other being brave. God wants us to see each others hearts, words, and even tears poured out for each other to notice. God wants us to notice each other as God notices us.

God looks down and wants us to hear him saying, “Child, I notice you. I hear your every prayer. I see every tear that falls from your eyes. I see and hear every word that pours out of your soul. I notice you because you are my children; “Fearfully and wonderfully made.”

God says…I indeed notice you…and I want you to notice each other.
I want you to notice the man standing on the street corner asking for help.
I want you to notice the single mother struggling to care for herself and her children.
I want you to notice all of my broken children…because I notice you all.