Advent Waiting

Have you ever noticed how much of life is about waiting? We wait in the drive thru line at the fast food store. We wait in the waiting room at the doctor and/or dentist’s office.We wait for those we love. We wait for packages and fun snail mail to arrive in the mail. We wait at the airport. The truth is that we actually wait a lot in our lives. Yet, I don’t know about you, but for me, I have a hard time waiting. I can get pretty impatient.

And when it comes to God answering my prayers and/or the desires of my heart, it seems like my patience meter runs even shorter. I want it to be answered right now! Yet God doesn’t answer our prayers or the desires of our heart like that, does God? God has a plan in store for each and every one of us. I am reminded of a Tweet from my blog friend Kaitlyn “God has a very, very good plan. We may not understand it, but that doesn’t make it any less good.” Oh how I need to cling to those words in the waiting!

Sometimes it seems like those plans are coming into place for every one but me. Just a few weeks ago, a camp friend got engaged. I am so excited for her. Her fiance is a single dad so she gains an instant family. Then on Thanksgiving, a good friend was proposed too. My heart and head have a hard time holding my emotions during these joyous occasions because part of me is so excited for them while another part of me feels deflated.

Yet Advent is all about waiting, isn’t it? My friend Susan gifted me an early release copy of Mandy Hale’s book “A Beautiful Uncertainty.” She knew her words were exactly what my soul needed. My favorite chapter is a chapter titled “Advent, Single, and Waiting” Funny thing is that I read that chapter just as Advent was nearing. Because Advent is indeed all about waiting.

As the weeks lead up to Christmas and Jesus’ birth, we find ourselves dwelling in the Word and the peace and holiness of this season. In John chapter one, we read “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”–John 1:1-5

We wait for this Word, born of flesh, Emmanuel! Like Mary, we ponder and treasure all these things in our hearts. Like the shepherds, we wait and find the baby Jesus lying in the manger. Like the wise men, we wait and bring the Messiah gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We wait for this one who is sent into the world to bring hope and peace and joy and will later die on a cross for our sins. We wait because we trust in a God who fulfills God’s promises!

Yes, a God who fulfills God’s promises. Those are important words for us all to cling to and remember especially during this Advent season. Much like we await the birth of Jesus, I find myself waiting and clinging to God’s promises to me. I may not know the day nor the hour but God has a plan for me and each and every one of us. In fact, it may not be the plan I have pictured for myself but it is the plan God has designed specifically for me. And that plan is oh so good!

May we all wait and hold onto the hope of our faithful God who is always ever faithful especially as we wait and watch for this precious baby boy born in a stable in Bethlehem oh so many years ago..this holy child who comes to remind us of God’s love and faithfulness for all God’s people.

I am linking up with these beautiful faith-filled women: Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa Linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, and Holley and Coffee for your Heart.


Sunday Blessings 103

(1) Voxing with TM

(2) Treats delivered to my office from one of the ladies at church.

(3) Voxing with KA

(4) Voxing with MH and MG

(5) Coffee with my dear dear friend CT

(6) Peppermint Bark Latte at Broadway Bean and Bagel

(7) Coloring with Mr. E

(8) Banana Cream Pie

(9) Voxing with Marie

(10) Getting a ride home from VR.

(11) Proud of two of our youth gathering sharing about why they are thankful after Detroit for our Thanksgiving Eve worship.

(12) A nice drive home for Thanksgiving

(13) Thanksgiving at the farm; time with family, yummy food, etc.

(14) A chill day at home; watching the Huskers (Sadly they lose to Iowa but they’ll beat them next year!)

(15) Fitness Feast. Thanks Lindy!

(16) Knoephla Soup

(17) Playing Rook with Dad, Ann, Uncle T, Aunt P, Aunt N and Gma. So much laughter!! And some people really get competitive!

(18) Playing with Dakota; the puppy.

(19) My Thanksgiving Road Trip CD selection–Rend Collective: As Family We Go; Matt Mahrer: Saints and Sinners; Martina McBride: Everlasting; The Time Jumpers; Birds of Chicago: Live from Space; Rend Collective: The Art of Celebration; and Rachel Kurtz: We Are.

(20) Decking out my house for Advent/Christmas

(21) Papa Johns Pizza

(22) My first Christmas card in the mail. Thanks STM and family!

(23) Enjoying my lights while watching tv.

Room at the Table

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 “Table” Write for five minutes; unedited.

Wednesday morning, I sat in big comfy chairs with my dear friend Chris as we caught up on life and enjoyed a hot beverage; coffee for her; a peppermint bark latte for me at our fave coffee shop. I love these moments as we gather around a table together. The table may not always be visible but it’s always there.

Last night, after worship, we gathered downstairs around tables and indulged in some pie. It was so fun to sit and visit and give thanks for this community of faith. I love that every week we gather around the holy table.

Today, many of us gathered with friends and family around tables filled with turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and tons of dessert. Now some of my family is sitting watching football while others are sitting around the table chatting about life etc.

The table is one of my fave places to gather. It is lonely to gather there by myself, but the more people who gather around my table the better. I love what Shauna Niequest says in her book “Bread and Wine.” The book is all about table fellowship and community!

At seminary, we would gather around the table and keep pulling up chairs so more and more people could sit at one table together. It’s one of my fave memories from seminary. There was always always more room at the table.

I picture all of you; knocking on my door, and continually adding more chairs to my table. There is always enough room. There is always room at the table! And I would be delighted to pull up a chair for each and every one of you!

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

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

(N) North Dakota! One of my most favorite places in the world. It really does have the sky as far as you can see. Time on the prairies of ND are holy time for me.

(O) Owl; Mr. Owl in fact! A stuffed owl that sits on the dashboard of my car. It was given to me by my friend Melissa and her daughters when I moved two years ago. I love to read and the owl is reading a book so the girls thought it was the perfect gift for me. I love that it keeps me company on my trips and reminds me of all of these wonderful ladies.

(P) Praying on the Prairie; a place for me to spill out words; to share my story and so much more!

(Q) Quiches (Yummy Quiches). Always makes me think of brunch with awesome peeps!

(R) Radio especially my Pandora radio stations. These stations are what I turn on and listen to as I get ready in the mornings.

(S) Sweaters to keep warm on a blustery cold ND winter day!

(T) Target…one of my fave places to shop.

(U) University of Mary; the place where I attended college and received my communications degree with an emphasis in Journalism.

(V) Vacation. This year I am so thankful for our sister’s trip to Nashville TN and also getting to meet some blog friends InRL. It is a trip we will not forget and I cannot wait until our next sister’s trip. Wonder where that might be…NYC?

(W) Wartburg Theological Seminary. Where I heard the call to Diaconal Ministry. The place where I met amazing awesome peeps like my friend Laura and so many others.

(X) Xlophones and other musical instruments. I am not musically inclined at all BUT I do love listening to great music!

(Y) YOU! YES ALL OF YOU who come and visit me here! I am so very thankful for each and every one of you!

(Z) Zany friends and family who make me smile and laugh!

Unmasked Series

Unmasked: The Journey from Surviving to Thriving is a book that was recently released by my blog friend Bethany Boring. Bethany and I initially met on each other’s blogs and then we began catching each other’s Periscopes. Today I am sharing one of my Unmasked stories over at Bethany’s place.

“Those words open many fairy tales, but our lives are not all fairy tales, are they? They don’t all end with “happily ever after.” Read the rest of the story Here!

Finding Our Simply Tuesdays

The weekend rolls around and then the calendar page turns to Monday where we find ourselves heading back to work, school, etc. And then it is simply Tuesday. Have you ever found yourself just stuck there? Tuesday isn’t Monday. It isn’t Friday or the end of the week. It isn’t even hump day. It is just laying out there all by itself. Yet perhaps maybe we are called to embrace our simple Tuesdays.

I just finished Emily P. Freeman’s book “It’s Simply Tuesday.” In the book, Freeman shares about how we are to enjoy those Tuesdays in their smallness. We are to embrace our Tuesday people on our Tuesday benches on that simply Tuesday ordinary day.

“Let’s gently poke our sleepy souls refusing to wait for a big event to wake us up. Let’s stop running from ordinary time but begin to sit in the midst of it (P. 26).”

Yes, let’s sit in the midst of that ordinary time because the truth is that ordinary time is longer and more than the other special days. In fact, in the seasons of the church year, the liturgical color green which is for ordinary time is the longest season of the church year. It can be so easy to get caught up in what seems like boredom and smallness of that ordinary time. But as Emily reminds us, that ordinary time is an important time for us to dwell. It is a time that leads to those extraordinary times and helps us to enjoy those extra special days even more.

The truth is that on those simply Tuesdays, God is there with us. “As it turns out, Jesus doesn’t come riding in on a white horse to save me from my humiliation, my daily work, my endless list. Instead, he whispers a quiet invitation to keep company with him the way he came to earth to keep company with us. It won’t always feel like a rescue. It might feel like surrender.  But on the other side of that space I find Jesus. I find his peace, I find his companionship (Introduction; Location 237).”

I love that I just finished this book as the calendar page soon turns to Advent. Advent is my most favorite time of the year because it continually reminds me of Jesus “Emmanuel”; God with us who comes in the most unlikely place to the most unlikeliest people. God has a way of doing that; showing up in those small mundane simply Tuesday spaces. And it is in those spaces, that we are reminded of God’s love for us; a love that comes not just on Sundays, but every day of the week including those simply Tuesday days.

“Being led by love has to start by recognizing we already have it. I can’t let love lead if I don’t know it’s there to begin with (P. 188).”

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love moves toward (P. 193).” 

God’s love reminds us that God is there in the light and in the darkness, in the joy and in the sorrow, and in the morning and in the night. It is just that sometimes we have a hard time seeing God in those places. But the truth is that God is always there. God promises to never leave us or forsake us. God sits with us on our Tuesday benches with our Tuesday people on those simply Tuesdays and shows us who God has created us to be.

“And even as we stand with our feet firmly planted on our Tuesdays, we’ll let our souls, with childlike wonder, stand high on tiptoe with great hope, knowing the King of our Kingdom will one day come again (P.218)”

And that, my friends, is enough!

I am linking up with Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa Linkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story, Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart and Literary Musing Mondays.


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) Andrea (My little sister) Love her to pieces. So thankful for our awesome sister’s trip this past August. I don’t know what I would do without her!

(B) Babies! I am such a baby lover. Any chance I get to get some baby time in is awesome and totally blesses me beyond measure.

(C) Camp of the Cross Ministries. One of my most favorite places in the entire world. The place where I heard the call to ministry. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

(D) Detroit and the ELCA Youth Gathering. What an awesome time to gather with 30,000 of our closest friends. Blessed to take an awesome group of youth from First Lutheran to the gathering. We indeed learned what it means to “Rise Up” together. In addition, I am so thankful for Dilworth Lutheran who shaped me into the woman of faith that I am today!

(E) Eggs…scrambled eggs, bacon, and other breakfast items! I love making breakfast for dinner=brinner! 🙂

(F) First Lutheran Church! So blessed to serve this community of faith. It continues to shape me into the woman of faith that I am today.

(G) God (and my faith)

(H) Home! My house is such a blessing. I love that I can walk to work every day. It is a perfect little house for me.

(I) I-pad Mini and my I-phone. I love that these items keep me connected to friends and family scattered throughout the US and the world.

(J) Jars of Clay; one of my all-time fave Christian bands.

(K) Kindred spirits! I am so thankful for the amazing friends and kindred spirits that God has placed in my life. So thankful for CT, KG, KW, EG, JT and so many others! Love you ladies! Also thankful for amazing blog friends/kindred spirits: Karrilee, Val, Janel, Susan, Bethany, Mary, Holly, Andrew, Tammy, Marie, Marissa, Jordan, Christy, Kate and so many others! (Wish I could list you all!)

(L) Laura. Laura was one of the first people I met when I started at Wartburg Seminary. She was so very welcoming and always so full of joy. Laura has been battling cancer since 2011 and is now losing her battle. She is in hospice care and all the joy and light is no longer in her eyes. Yet I am so thankful for her life and the many lives including mine that she has and continues to touch.

(M) Momma! You are the best! Love you to pieces!! (And my good friend MW! You are such a blessing in my life!)

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

Sunday Blessings 101 & 102

(1) A text from a church member sharing how much she enjoyed my sermon yesterday.

(2) My new Write 31 days t-shirt and tank top arriving in the mail.

(3) Guest posting at a friend’s blog sharing about our caregiving experience! (You can check that out Here)

(4) Bible study with some of our church ladies at the nursing home.

(5)Goodies sent home with me.

(6) My first Peppermint Mocha of the season. It hit the spot today.

(7) Nathan Dungan event

(8) Repeating as the Lutheran Campus Ministry Chili Feed champion

(9) Family SS lessons for two weeks. So much fun!!

(10) Retreat at Camp of the Cross

(11) Getting to see Mr. E

(12) Fundraiser for a local young woman battling cancer and seeing an awesome turnout. (Sadly she lost her battle last night)

(13) Tootsie Pops

(14) A phone call from Dad

(15) A phone call from Momma

(16) Being on the launch team for my blog friend Kaitlyn’s book which will be released in 2016.

(17) A cool video of my aunt and uncle and family on our family farm promoting ND women farmers. So so cool!

(18) Catching up on some Voxes.

(19) Baby time with HH. Loved walking around and cuddling with him.

(20) Baby smiles

(21) Hugs from my fave littles

(22) Periscoping…I haven’t periscoped in so long.

(23) Hot cocoa
(24) With mini marshmallows

(25) A beautiful day

I am linking up at Inspire Me Monday!

Dwelling in Advent

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 “Dwell.” Write for five minutes; unedited.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4

Dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. These words make me think of my friend Laura, and Andrew and all of those who have lived their lives sharing God’s love with the world. I am so thankful that my friend Laura has dwelt here in this place all of her days and will continue to dwell there until she takes her last breath and God asks us to lay Laura’s mat at his feet.

But as I am reminded of those who dwell in the house of the Lord, I also think of those places that I do not want to dwell either. I do not want to dwell on the news that only seems to be bad news. I would much rather dwell in those joy-filled happy spaces. I do not want to dwell on the evil in the world. There is so much I do not want to dwell on.

Yet as Thanksgiving draws near and Advent is soon upon us, I find myself in a place that I want to dwell. Advent is my most favorite time of the year! I love waiting and watching for this precious Christ child to come. I love sitting and dwelling in this space…this deep breathe of fresh air that reminds me of what comes in this infant; this unlikely son born to an unlikely women in a dirty stable in Bethlehem. This one who comes simply as the light in the midst of the darkness. This one who is Emmanuel–“God with us!”

During the days of Advent, I find that this is a place that I want to dwell as I reflect on the true reason for this season. With all the lights off, Christmas lights twinkling all around me, cup of hot cocoa in my hand, my favorite music playing in the background, I simply dwell in the peace of this season. 
Go Fish-More Than A Story 
(One of my fave Christmas songs. And hopefully you’ll forgive me
 for posting a Christmas tune before Thanksgiving!)

Your Mat Carriers

A poem offering for my friend Laura today.
Sometimes only my words can capture the prayers of my heart.
Your Mat Carriers
(A poem for Laura)
By Tara L. Ulrich
We carry your mat
Through all your days
Holding on with all
our might
And wiping away our
We don’t want to let
We want you to stay
It doesn’t seem fair
That you need to go.
You’ve been such a
gracious gift;
Full of so much joy,
Touching so many
More than you’ll ever
And so, we your mat
Continually hold onto
your mat
Until the day when
Jesus asks us
To simply lay it at
his feet.
For on that day,
We know that you will
be free;
Free of all that ails