Sunday Blessings 115 and 116

(1) A sweet message from my friend LK

(2) A nice day off

(3) A wonderful confirmation small group

(4) Finding out the people who stole my purse will hopefully be charged this week or next.

(5) Mom doing better and back at the nursing home.

(6) Getting my wreath from my friend JK in the mail. Love it!!

(7) A member bringing me a gift; a copy of her book of poetry.

(8) Playing the Board Game Sorry with one of my fave little boys and his dad.

(9) Gorgeous snow melting weather

(10) Going out with my friend EG.

(11) Chatting with MW

(12) Leftover meatballs from Lenten supper. Yum!!!

(13) Hanging with my sissy. We had so much fun shopping.

(14) People who moved their car when I knocked on their door and asked them to move it. They were blocking my driveway.

(15) Going to the movie How to be Single with my sis.

(16) Panera Bread and Tutti Fruit. Yum!!

(17) Voxing with TM

(18) Running into FLC peeps at the mall and at Perkins

(19) LCM pancake feed

(20) Perkins with my sissy

(21) Catching up on my DVRed shows

(22) Academy Awards

Joy in the Morning

 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 “morning”! 

“Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning,”–Psalm 30:5

The Psalms hold such beautiful words. As a poet myself, I find the Psalms always bring me so much comfort. The above Psalm has become one of my all-time fave Psalms. These words remind me of the cycle of life and remind me that joy always comes in the morning. There will always be nights but there will also always be mornings.

Each morning, God’s mercies are always new. I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that God’s mercies are new because life is going to be full of nights and hard times, but it also is full of beautiful mornings full of new life.

I love watching the sunsets on the prairies of North Dakota. Hues of pinks and purple creeping over the horizon. I like my sleep and sleeping in, but I’ll often give up my sleep to watch these beautiful sunrise. They are a gorgeous reminder that joy does indeed come in the morning.

Morning is time for us to sit and simply be with Jesus. I will admit that I am not always good at that. I want to be better. I want to take the time with my cup of tea or my vanilla latte and  lift my prayers to God. Each morning; each day is a gift given to us from God. I have been especially aware of that lately as so many friends are hurting and some even living their last days. I know that for them eventually that new morning will not be here on earth but will be in heaven. I want to hold onto every morning and every night that I have been given.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you!”–Psalm 143:8

So, my friends, may we relish each day! For “This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”–Psalm 118:24

Mourning into Dancing (My absolute fave version of this Psalm. I’ve shared here before but it is based on Psalm 30 so thought I’d share again. Even though Ben lost his life in the Haiti earthquake, he does indeed still sing!)

Not Chosen for the Team

I am a little wounded today friends…..but I shouldn’t be.

Recently I applied to be on the launch team of one of my favorite writers. I was so bummed to see an email saying that I wasn’t chosen to be a part of the launch team. Now I understand that it isn’t easy to narrow down the list when over 3000 people apply. But my heart was so ready to read this book before it was released.

It may seem childish of me for being wounded about not being chosen. But since I was little, I was the one who was teased relentlessly. I was the one who almost always got picked last for the team during physical education class. And even today, I sometimes find myself getting caught up in the numbers when I shouldn’t be. I think all of us bloggers, at one time or another, has found ourselves getting caught up in keeping track of our analytics. But that is not what it is about at all. It is about how my words (or YOUR words) might be the words that one person needed to hear today.

My head knows that…but sometimes my heart gets in the way and I find myself wounded. I wonder why everyone around me was chosen but not ME?? Now I realize that isn’t the case at all, but there are days that it sure feels like it especially when I see a copy of this book on my friends Instagram feed or a quote tweeted out on Twitter by another blog friend. I am excited for them to read this book…and I am excited to read it too (I’ll just have to wait a little bit longer. I broke down and bought my preorder TODAY!)

I know that I shouldn’t be wounded because that isn’t what it is about at all. God has something else in store for me. Perhaps being on someone else’s launch team or maybe it means using my time for something else. Whatever that path is, I need to remember that as my friend Susan says “God already knew about this” or G.A.K.A.T!” Yep, God has known all along. It just is some days that is easier to remember than others.

May we not get caught up by comparing ourselves to everyone around us. May we not be wounded when we aren’t chosen for the team. May we instead trust in our God who created us uniquely to be who God created us to be.

Honoring A Man in Blue

Even though I was born in Nebraska, I have spent most of my 37 years on this Earth in North Dakota. I am a North Dakota girl; always have been and always will be. My heart has and always will be full of the pride and love that the prairie and its people hold. It is a place where strangers often become friends and where violence is often overshadowed by love for one another.

Yet two weeks ago, the community of Fargo ND was hit with a devastating tragedy. Officer Jason Moszer was on duty when a domestic violence call came in. Jason, being the cop that he was, immediately responded to the call. At the scene, Jason was was a senseless act of violence that no one can understand. Jason died the next day.

Putting on a uniform especially a law enforcement uniform is never easy. Family members often wonder if tonight their loved one may not return home. I think immediately of my friend CT and her two girls as CT’s husband is a highway patrolman…what if one night my friend’s husband and their girl’s dad doesn’t return home. That is exactly what happened for Jason’s wife Rachel and Jason’s two stepchildren Dillan and Jolee . It is a feeling many of us cannot comprehend. Yet today, we stand together with Jason’s family and honor this hero who gave his life to protect ours.

Today, Jason’s family and friends as well as his brothers and sisters in blue and many others gathered to lay Jason to rest. There were also many law enforcement officials who came from all over the United States. I found myself glued to my computer screen as I watched his funeral. Rev. Kevin Kloster (former Fargo Police chaplain) shared how we are all hurting; how our community is hurting even though we maybe don’t even know Jason. Yet we are angered by a life taken too soon. We are angered by this senseless act of violence. Rev. Kloster shared “The only thing that comes easy today is the tears. Let our tears form a collective pool at our feet that becomes a monument that honors Jason’s life.”

It may seem strange that a community is grieving someone they didn’t know. But that is the thing, my friends, this is just what us North Dakotans do. North Dakota people are one tribe. They respect and honor those who give their lives for our safety. They share in each other’s joys, but most especially, in each other’s sorrows. They wipe each other’s tears and grab the hands of those nearest and dearest to them. It is the heart of the North Dakota people! And this is a heart that especially today crosses from one end of the state to the other. It is a heart that is taking the time to honor and salute this hero and simply saying “Thank You!”

Together, people of all ages stand along the 21 mile procession as they salute and also say “Thank You.” A big hole is in our hearts that we are not sure how to fill. Yet together, North Dakota strong, we will always honor and remember this hero who gave his life for us. And to be honest, “Thank You” doesn’t seem quite enough. But it is what we have to offer so that is what we give.


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


Don’t Ever Forget!

 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 “forgot” and is dedicated to my friend Andrew.

Do you remember to tell those you love that you love them? Or sometimes do you forget? It is important for us to not forget.

I have been thinking a lot about those that I have lost in this life …who are already in heaven. My Grandma Bess, my Grandpa Sam, my friends Ben, Mandy and Shan, and oh so many others. I have so many great memories. I do not want to forget them.

I remember my sister and I used to call Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandpa, Ann and I had this game we used to play every time that we called. He would say “Who am I talking to…George, Henry, etc?” We would laugh and say yep and we must be talking to Fred.” It always made us giggle. I miss those phone calls. Hard to believe Grandpa has been gone almost 12 years and Grandma 8 years.

My blog friend Andrew doesn’t forget either. He still finds a way to blog and visit his Five Minute Friday friends. Tonight Andrew shared that he had almost died earlier tonight. It breaks my heart. He has been suffering for so long. I am not sure if Andrew will be here tomorrow or the next day or the next, but what I won’t ever forget is the kind words Andrew has shared with me and so many others. Like Andrew, I will never forget to tell those I love that I love them. And Andrew, we love you and won’t forget you either!

Tears of love…

Tears of friendship…

Tears that won’t ever forget the many beautiful souls that have and will continue to bless my life.

Tears that know the power of God’s love for each and every one of us.

May we never forget to share that love with one another.

So tonight, my friends, know that you are indeed loved!!!!!

Sunday Blessings 114

(1) EG picking me up at the airport

(2) Running into FLC members at the airport.

(3) A V-Day card from momma

(4) An awesome Lenten supper–turkey and all the trimmings.

(5) Reading little EG a story from the Spark story Bible after Ash We’d service because he was sad that there was no children’s time!

(6) Sharing about my trip with FLC members.

(7) Seeing KD back at FLC.

(8) A sweet little boy coming up to me and giving me a hug.

(9) People who wait with mom when I cannot.

(10) A V day card from my sissy

(11) Friends who pray for you!!!

(12) A text from my dear friend JK.

(13) My first Blue Apron box and my first Blue Apron meal

(14) Minot Story Hour

(15) A sweet tweet and Vox to remind me how loved I am.

(16) #SinglesBlizzard

(17) Catching up on my DVRed shows

(18) Texting with MW

(19) A member complimenting my sermon and saying it was the best ever!!

(20) Seeing friends at the Minot Story Hour.

No Limitations

 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 “limit,”

Do you know your limits? Sometimes I think it takes us a little while to notice and realize our own limitations. But we all have limits don’t we?

As an extroverted introvert, meaning I like being around people, but I need my alone time too. Last week while at a conference, I had had way too much extrovert time so I took some time for just me. I knew my limits. I knew that in order to recharge my batteries I had to step away for a little while so I finished Mandy Hale’s book Beautiful Uncertainity while laying poolside. So wonderful!

I also am thankful for the times when there are no limits. On Sunday evening, three friends and I headed to Disneyland for my very first Disney experience EVER! They were so great about simply letting me do whatever I wanted…;putting no limits on my experience. I got to meet Mickey Mouse. I rode some awesome rides. We had a blast! And I think that’s the thing, in places like Disney, life is full of amazing fun and hoprfully no limitations for those that come to experience it.

Since coming home, I feel like I am spent…my limits are spent. Life with mom has been crazy yet again this week,. I am feeling a tad overwhelmed. But it is especially in these limitations, that I know that God is here. There are no limits on who God is and what God will do for each and every one of us. God is a God of no limitations…and for that I am incredibly thankful.

Playing in the Mud

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday as the sign of the cross is marked on our foreheads. A sign that reminds each and every one of us of our own mortality; a sign that God is with us in the midst of life’s joys and sorrows. God takes our brokenness and turns it into something beautiful. God is always always playing in the mud!

Last night a friend tweeted “As we are reminded that we shall return to dust, fill us with the promise that you never quit playing the the mud.” Ever since I cannot get that image out of my head. I picture a child or anyone of us playing in the mud. When I worked at a Bible camp for many many summers, we had a mud pit. The youth always begged to play in that mud pit. Once they got in that mud pit, the girly girls no longer cared about their beauty. They simply had a blast playing in the mud.

I love the image of God playing in the mud with each of us…getting down and dirty and not caring about what anyone else thinks but Godself. God is in the business of continually offering us grace; of continually shaping each and everyone of us into the “fearfully and wonderfully made being” that God created each of us to be.

Today, all over the world, Christians will gather to remember that we are dust. Gray-haired men and women, infants, teenagers, individuals living with disabilities, etc…all of us will gather as the pastor, rostered leader or lay leader in the church takes their finger, dips it into the ashes, and carefully marks the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead; a visual reminder that we are to “walk dusty”;a visual reminder that connects us back to our Baptism where a simple cross was marked on our foreheads too.

Five years ago, as I was reflecting on Ash Wednesday following an Ash Wednesday service, I wrote the following poem. I hope that my words today bless you as you remember your own mortality and remember that God is not giving up on any one of us. God is always willing to play in the mud with us. In fact, God often will get the muddiest of us all as God walks this journey of life with each of us!

Ash Wednesday Poem
By Tara L. Ulrich 
(Copyright Tara L. Ulrich)

My hands mark the sign of the cross
on the foreheads of those near and dear to me,
tears begin to trickle down my face
as I look into each of their eyes and say the words,
“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust.”

And as the ashes trace
the sign of the cross on their foreheads,
I am reminded of the mortality of each of them,
Reminded that death does and will come
But also reminded of the love and mercy
Of the One who promises he will
Never leave us or forsake us.

Christ hung on the cross as he too
was faced with his own mortality;
Giving the ultimate sacrifice;
Dying on the cross for each of us;
Again reminding us that
God will never leave us or forsake us.

And so as we leave with the
signs of the cross traced on our foreheads,
We again are reminded of our mortality;
“Ashes to Ashes
Dust to Dust”
“From Dust you came,
To Dust you shall return.”

I am linking up with Holly Barrett and Testimony Tuesday; Kelly Balarie and the RaRa linkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story, and Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart!


You’ve Taken A Piece of my Heart!

Five days ago, I boarded a plane to Anaheim California and the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza. The E as it is often called is a gathering of people who work, volunteer, etc with children, youth and families. This is my third E and I seriously love the time of learning, connecting with collegues, etc. It is balm for my soul that always completely refills my cup.

This year was no different, but for me, this time was needed this year more than ever. For those that regularly read this blog, you know my familie’s story but for those of you that don’t, I am a daughter of a woman who lives  daily with bipolar disorder. Since 2002, my sister and I have served as our mom’s legal guardians. She also has lived in a nursing home since that time. But this summer, things shifted again. Mom seems to be beginning to show signs of dementia. She has completely stopped calling my sister and I weekly. It is something that I can’t even begin to comprehend; a journey of mental illness AND dementia.

As the oldest, I often am the one left with a lot of the responsibility. I am a strong woman, but I forget how quickly this illness, our story and so much more wears on me. The E, for so many, who attend is, I believe, a space for us to share our stories with others whether it be around a supper table, or coffee table or wherever it might be. I know that I can count on these souls to bear my burdens; to share in my deepest joys and sorrows. It is holy space that often takes pieces of my heart; pieces that I know others will hold when I cannot hold or put them back together myself.

This afternoon I tweeted these words “How is it that you can finally meet friends in real life and you feel like you have left a piece of your heart with each of them.” Those words capture how I feel about this wonderful community of leaders in our church; leaders who sometimes also struggle in the wondering of life. Yet that is exactly who and what this community is about; that when we forget our sense of wonder and forget our believing, we remind each other to keep believing and to keep wondering even when life doesn’t make any sense at all.

These people; my friends walked with me as I got to experience my first EVER Disney experience. They let me wonder and drink from new life rather than from the nasty dirty cup of nostalgia. They listened as I shared how I felt God had called me to write my book “‘Chasing our Untils.” And for that I am forever thankful; forever grateful; grateful for a community of colleagues who hold a piece of my heart and always will.

Thank You for all you do E team to make this event such a success and blessing. I don’t think we say it enough, so I am saying it for all 600 plus of us in attendance this weekend. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You for a network where we can sit, wonder and be refilled in the midst of this crazy spirit filled work.

Sunday Blessings 113

(1) Playing with little EG and then getting a hug for playing trucks with him.

(2) A sweet note from my friend HG

(3) RRS giving me a ride to the airport

(4) KG being willing to give me a ride to the airport.

(5) An awesome outstanding gate agent getting me on an earlier flight out of MSP.

(6) Traveling with friends

(7) Visiting with new friends and getting to know them.

(8) A nighttime Target run

(9) Finally getting to hug my friend LA in real life.

(10) Hugging and seeing of my fave things about the E!!

(11) LA and I walking to downtown Disney, catching up on life etc. So fun!!

(12) Supper with CT, MH and CT’s friends.

(13) Meeting Twitter friends in the flesh. Feel like I’ve known them forever!

(14) A fun t-shirt off the $7 clearance rack at Old Lutheran!

(15) Fantastic worship, speakers, etc

(16) Hugging DG and DH in the flesh

(17) Word and Service dinner! So much fun!!!

(18) Hugging JK and getting to spend some time visiting with him. Also fun to have DH pop in on our conversation for awhile.

(19) Sweet comments on my FB status

(20) SG finding me hot tamales at the hospitality table.

(21) Hanging out with EF at the pool

(22) Lunch with EF and SG poolside

(23) My first ever Disney experience with BW, LA and NA. Thanks friends!!

(24) Being bombarded when I got off the shuttle by KJ, AS and SK. Also loved getting to catch up with these girls. Miss them!!

(25) Meeting #chsocm peeps in real life and getting to meet them in person.

(26) Playing peek-a-boo with sweet Will.

(27) Texting with STM and sharing Disney pics with her.

(28) Breakfast with LA and NA

(29) Playing peek a boo and taking to Baby Maisy on our flight back to MSP.

(30) An 89 cent Uber ride. Thanks roomie DW!

(31) All of YOU especially my E friends. It never surprises me how easy I can come up with a blessings list on the E week. And I could easily add so many more items!