Those Four Little Words

A black binder full of my poetry sits on the bottom shelf of my bookcase…

A bound copy of a poetry anthology sits on that shelf as well with one of my poems published in it….

(Both items hidden away so others will not see them!)

A blog post of mine has been shared by the ELCA on their site “Living Lutheran”…

And I have two blogs….one specifically for my writing and the other being my main blog.

Yet I still only can seem to muster the words, “Oh I like to write” OR “Writing and/or Blogging is a Hobby.” But I still do not and cannot seem to identify myself as a writer!

When I was little, my mom said I was a kid who was happy with pen and paper and not with toys. I was content to sit and pour words out onto a page for others to read. As I got older, I loved my creative writing classes and my English classes which led to me getting a Communications degree when I headed off to college. I have a degree in Communications with an emphasis in Journalism and an English minor.

One would think that those credentials in and of themselves would qualify me and help me to identify as a writer…but they don’t. I still struggle to find those words: “I am a writer!” So often I find that I get caught up in the comparison game. So and so’s blog is so much better and prettier than mine. So and so writes more eloquently than I do. But what I need to remember is that it isn’t about comparing my words to others because my words are simply that: “my own words”.

Several years ago, I joined a writing group at my local library. I was excited to meet new people outside of work and was hoping to share my words with others and hone my craft. One evening, I chose to share a poem I had written sharing my families struggle with mental illness. As I finished reading, one of the other participants lit into me: “Do your family members know what you are writing about? How dare you write about this subject?” I ran out of that room as quickly as possible, put on my coat, and ventured out in the bitter North Dakota cold straight to my car. I opened the door and sat down in the driver’s seat where the tears immediately began to flow. I picked up my cell phone and dialed the number for my colleague. I was crying so hard by the time he answered the phone that he had to tell me to breathe. This woman had literally taken the wind out of my sails and I now questioned even more if God was calling me to write; let alone be a writer.

Over the next several days, weeks, months, and years, I have had to learn from that experience. I have realized that so often my words have been words of healing for me…and for others and not words of pain. I have come to realize that for me often my words have been the bravest words I have shared because they have opened up my own vulnerability.  I have come to also realize that my words embody my story and continually remind me of who and whose I am. I have also come to realize that my words are a gift from God! And trusting in that gift, I am trying to find the courage to utter those four simple words “I am a writer!”

I’ll admit that more often than not I have a hard time receiving this gift, but the truth is that God has empowered so many of us to write. I hear others including my friends and family call me a writer, but I still have a hard time believing them. Their words are gift, yet so often I don’t hear them at all. My ears need to be open to hearing the voice of God proclaiming to me and to so many of us “You are indeed a writer. I gifted you to be able to share your story through words. Your words are not a waste!”

It is extremely scary and vulnerable to utter those four simple words. Yet as dear Holley Gerth states: “Be courageous and write in a way that scares you a little.” So even though it still scares me to let those four simple words come out my mouth, I am going to lean into them, keep writing and continue saying them until hopefully I believe them for myself.


I am linking up with my favorites today–Kate Motaung and her series On Being A Writer, Holly Barrett and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa Linkup, Holley and Coffee for Your Heart, and Jennifer and Tell His Story.



Sunday Blessings 93

(1) Voxing with KA

(2) Family Vacation School–love it!!

(3) One of my fave kiddos yelling my name out the window as they drove by.

(4) Another kiddo asking me to take them through the tunnel.

(5) Taking pics with E. Loved the red wig he put on. The photo booth was a blast!!

(6) Talking to my momma

(7) A text from MW

(8) Uploading the pics from our trip

(9) A text from two of my girls trying to get me to come hang out with them.

(10) Running into one of my fave people GS while I was out doing errands.

(11) Yummy peaches!!

(12) Voxing with TM

(13) My first Vox from MH.

(14) Hanging out for a little while with Mr. E

(15) Being invited out to and treated to brunch today.

(16) A much much cooler day.

(17) Compliments on my sermon today. Thanks Holy Spirit!!

(18) A post-liturgical nap (PLN)

(19) Yummy juicy tomatoes

(20) Cinnamon Gummy Bears

What I Have Learned This Summer!

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 “Learn.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

This summer has been a busy summer for me…busier than usual. But throughout the summer, I have continued to learn so much.

I learned that my heart finds so much peace when I take the time to just be and enjoy God’s creation in the Rocky Mountains.

I learned how amazing it is when 30,000 youth and adults gather in a huge stadium in Detroit and declare God’s promises of peace and justice with the world.

This is only a portion of the Gathering!

I learned how sometimes you just have to get out of the boat…and other times you just have to stay. (Thanks for sharing those words FMF Retreat friends!)

I learned how part of my story will always be sharing my family’s struggle with a mental illness. I learned that part of my story will always be that I am a daughter; a daughter of a woman who daily struggles with a mental illness.

I learned that YOU are my people! I was so blessed to meet three of the Five Minute Friday ladies last weekend while I was in Nashville with my sister. You all are my heart!

I learned that I value spending quality time with my sister. It will be a long time before I forget our trip.

I learned that relationships and friendships go far beyond computer screens. They are found in Twitter handles and Voxer messages. They are found in sharing our stories and hearing those two simple words “Me, too!”

I learned that God continually widens the circle to bring more friends into the friendship circle.

I learned that I am never through learning! Life is always teaching us!

What have you learned this summer my friends?

Widening the Circle

When I was little, I didn’t have a lot of friends. In Kindergarten, I met my best friend who was a year older than me. She had been held back because she had undergone a kidney transplant. Mandy passed away in October of 2008. Since that time, God has been all over my friendships. In fact, I have been blessed by some amazing friendships in my life, but I never imagined how wide God would make that friendship circle. There are days I think that the circle can never get any larger and then God expands it even more! God has a funny way of doing that, doesn’t he?

A year ago, last October, I joined the Write 31 Days challenge. My topic was “Being a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness.” Never could I have imagined, how much this writing challenge would change me and would bring more amazing friends into my life. And than God went and expanded the circle more!

Due to the challenge, I was introduced even more to the Five Minute Friday community. (I cannot wait each week for our Thursday Twitter parties) These women have become my heart!!!!!!!!! They continually accept me for who I am. They continually see things in me that I don’t always see in myself. They never let me forget who and whose I am….a daughter of the one true king. We have looked at each other’s Facebook pages and even listened to each other’s voices on social media outlets such as Voxer. We have read and shared each other’s words. We have sent each other snail mail as part of the FMF Snail Mail party. Those words so often are just what I need to hear and come at exactly the right moment. And again the circle grows wider……

Then last Wednesday, my sister and I stood on a sidewalk at the Grand Ole Opry waiting for a car with Iowa plates to come pick us up. That car was being driven by one of the many FMF women. Jen and I have read each other’s blogs and conversed on Twitter and Instagram. But now here we were looking at each other face to face…listening to each other’s words spoken out loud. Jen, my sister, and I explored downtown Nashville together and then went and had supper together. Yet again the circle grew a little bit wider…or in the words of my friend Janel, my heart grew even larger too!

Friday morning, I found myself standing on an elevator waiting to meet two more of the FMF ladies. I stepped onto the elevator and pushed the button to take me down to the lower floor. But instead of going down, that darn elevator went all the way to the 14th floor. God has a funny sense of humor, doesn’t he? The elevator finally reached the 14th floor and then began descending down. It finally reached the lower level and I stepped off. I turned around the corner to the hotel lobby, looking for these two dear woman. But they actually spotted me before I spotted them. A voice exclaimed, “There she is!” The next thing I knew I was being embraced in a warm loving hug. After the embrace ended, I reached out and embraced the other woman.

Together, the three of us stepped into the elevator and rode back up to the 7th floor where we would find my sister in our hotel room. We sat and talked. Funny thing is, it was like we have been friends forever. No ackwardness…but rather pure joy and friendship. The four of us then went to eat at this quaint little cafe in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. The three of us (kindred sisters introduced through the blogging world) now were sitting and breaking bread together. (Jen and I had sat and broke bread together early in the week too!) I still smile at the fact that the three of us ordered the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich while two of us ordered an identical meal: Fried Green Tomato Sandwich with French Onion Soup.

Through the breaking of the bread, gathered around the table, God widened the circle even more leaving room for more friendships to be born and welcomed into this holy space. I may not have been able to attend the FMF retreat, but I still feel like my heart is ten times larger this week and that the circle will always have room for more! God will continually call together women (and men) of different times and places to break bread together.

I am linking up with Holly for Testimony Tuesday; Kelly for the RaRa Linkup, Holley for Coffee for your Heart and Jennifer for Tell His Story:


Grace Personified

The suitcase was packed away last night.

It has been a crazy summer of traveling for favorite continuing education event in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, taking youth to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit MI,  and topping it all off with a sister’s trip to Nashville.

And in the midst of all of my travel, life has continued on as usual. As many of you know, our mom lives daily with a mental illness and has lived in a nursing home for the last ten plus years. In June, my sister called me to let me know that Mom was once again hospitalized. And since that hospitalization, life has been chaotic and hectic…..a few times this summer in and out of the hospital. Mom just hasn’t been herself. She has been asking to move which isn’t like her at all.

Then last week, we got a phone call saying she just wasn’t budging about the moving. We stuck to our guns because we just didn’t think it would be a good idea for her to move. Yet she still kept asking to move. We finally gave in…and she moved to a new place that specializes in pysch care. Instead of 45 minutes from me, she is now like four hours away from me. My sister and I are trusting this all to God…hoping that she can come back once she gets back on track, but for now she is in the best place for her. Just not so easy to navigate or trust in. Yet I know that this is all in God’s hands! (Not the first time, we have placed Mom in God’s loving care!)

My sister and I had an amazing time last week. But in  the backs of both of our minds, Mom was not far away. I am pretty sure we were both thinking about it just a little all throughout the week.  And then I got to meet a few FMF ladies! None of them knew what was going on…BUT each one of them (And each one of YOU!) is “grace personified.” They reminded me that we are connected beyond computer screens and rather are connected at the heart…heart connections made by God.

In those heart connections, God reminds me; reminds us that I am/we are never alone. I loved these words from my friend Tammy’s post this week: “Always listening, always hearing; Peace He gives us, love endearing; Storms may come, but then are clearing; He is here.”

Trusting in those promises…..
Today and every day.

Sunday Blessings 92: Nashville Edition

(1) Guided backstage tour of the Ryman–so cool and so worth the extra money.

(2) Johnny Cash Museum. Even found a few Birthday/Christmas presents.

(3) Afternoon swim at our hotel

(4) Awesome night at 3rd and Lindsley! The Time Jumpers!!!

(5) Two words: Vince Gill!! I was totally fangirling!!

(6) My sis and I being silly and singing along with George Jones at his museum.

(7) Acme Feed and Seed–awesome restaurant recommended by our Auntie Carol.

(8) More 3rd and Lindsley. Seriously cannot get enough of this place!!

(9) Meeting Kat Perkin’s Uncle.

(10) Visiting with Allison Bray at 3rd and Lindsley.

(11) Meeting Ben Rue and hearing his song about growing up in a small town. Totally hit me in the heart!!

(12) Sleeping in past 10 am.

(13) Chillin in our hotel room watching the CMA Fest.

(14) Riding on the General Jackson Showboat.

(15) Nashville Live on the boat

(16) Yummy meal WITH yummy cheesecake.

(17) Visiting with a man and his daughters who were at our table on the boat. They were from WI.

(18) Meeting a blog friend in real life and hanging out with her. So fun that we got to hang out, Jen. And thanks for the ride.

(19) Great Lyft drivers! Love that Lyft shows you what the driver and car look like.

(20) Supper at Monells. Awesome home-cooked meal.

(21) Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

(22) Historic RCA Studio B

(23) Some chill time at our hotel

(24) Supper at the historic Wild Horse Saloon. Yummy fried pickles. And some of the best sausage in the world!!

(25) Line Dancing lessons

(26) Songwriters showcase at the Johnny Cash Museum cafe.

(27) Great continental breakfast at our hotel.

(28) Meeting two more FMF friends in real life. And having lunch with them at the GermanTown Cafe. So much fun, Janel and Val.

(29) Backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry. So cool!!

(30) Supper at Aquarium restaurant.

(31) Grand Ole Opry–Pam and Mel Tillis, Mark Wills, RaeLynn and so many more.

(32) Nash the Bear

(33) Finally arriving home.

(34) EG picking us up at the airport.

(35) A sweet text from my friend KW. Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

(36) My first two pieces of FMFSnailMail this round. Thanks CG and KA.

(37) Sleeping in and then going to Denny’s for lunch.

(38) Cinnamon Pancakes

(39) Catching up on my shows that were recorded throughout the week.

(40) Cherry Dr. Pepper and Hot Tamales

(41) The FMF crew!!! My heart just keeps growing!!! Love you all so much!! So glad that God connected our hearts!!!

A little fun for your Monday so I am linking up with Anita and Carol at Inspire Me Monday:

Here in Nashville

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 “Here.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

I’m here in Nashville this week. My sister surprised me with a sister’s trip last Christmas. We have been here since Sunday night.

Monday we went on a tour of the Ryman and later to 3rd and Lindsley…a bar that was recommended to me by a musician friend. That place didn’t disappoint at all. All I have to say is two words: Vince Gill. Vince plays here every Monday night with a group called the Time Jumpers. I was fangirling hard. I’ve loved Vince ever since I can remember.

Tues we went back to this place and heard a country showcase of young artists. So fun! Ate at Acme Feed and Seed–so yummy!

Wednesday–We rode on the General Jackson riverboat. Also because FMF friends are here for the retreat, I was able to meet a blog friend InRL.* So fun to explore Nashville with Jen and my sis. Even ate at Monells–good home cooked food!

Today we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and historic RCA Studio B. I got chills hearing the music and it’s history there. Supper at the historic Wildhorse Saloon. I even tried my hand at some line dancing. Stopped at the Johnny Cash museum cafe on our way back to the hotel. There was a songwriters showcase. Fun to listen. Finished out our day with a swim.

Tomorrow Grand Ole Opry and also hopefully meeting up with some more blog friends InRL. I am excited that the retreat is here which is allowing for some meet ups. But a tad bummed I won’t be able to be at the retreat.

But also so glad that it is here and many will be able to be there.

*My five minutes ended here!! I had a lot to say this week!!

Sunday Blessings 91

Oops forgot to post these yesterday….so you are getting Sunday blessings on a Monday!!

(1) Voxing with two of my faves; TM and KA.

(2) So excited to get my new FMFSnailMail Party Round 7 list!!

(3) Getting a Curves workout in.

(4) Talking to my momma on the phone.

(5) Getting my paycheck early

(6) Awesome treat at staff today! It was so yummy!!!

(7) A cool day; a relief from the hot humid weather that we’ve had lately.

(8) A baby watermelon, string beans, and tomatoes starting to grow in my church community garden plot.

(9) Creating some Shutterfly photo books.

(10) Miracle Treat Day at DQ

(11) FMF party

(12) Sonic Happy Hour–a yummy slushy and corn dog.

(13) Reading outside on my patio. I haven’t been able to do that much this summer.

(14) Tackling Mt. Laundry. (Five loads later….that’s what I get for being gone so much this summer!)

(15) Watching endless hours of “Reba” reruns!

(16) Watching the Blind Side with my sissy. I could watch that movie over and over and over.

(17) Great conversations at church today.

(18) CT giving A and I a ride to the airport. Thanks so much friend!!

(19) My sis helping me water the church garden. Made it go so much faster!!

(20) NASHVILLE trip!!!

(21) Our hotel; used to be a parking garage and is only three years old. Close to downtown.

(22) Time to relax.