Pass the Chocolate!

Thursday is always made so much better by the Five Minute Friday Twitter party. If you don’t know about this party, you must join us and check it out. We chat and wait for our gracious host to give us the word prompt. Then we are to set our timers for five minutes and write without making any edits. It’s a practice in free writing! 

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 “pass.”

There is something incredibly holy about sitting around the table and passing dishes between one another as we converse. I am reminded of Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving dinner. The plate passes from one hand to the next. I am also reminded of every time we gather around the communion table because breaking bread together is a holy act.

One of my favorite things about Thursday nights is gathering on Twitter for our Five Minute Friday Twitter party. We often end up talking about all things Gilmore Girls or about chocolate or whatever is happening in our lives during this week. Tonight we shared recipes for making brownies in a mug.

Pass the chocolate. Pass the brownies. Pass the yummy decadent dessert. During our Twitter parties, we are passing them virtually. But someday I believe, this side of heaven, we will gather and pass the chocolate, brownies and decadent dessert around a table in real life. What a joyous occasion that will be.

Yet I have a feeling there will also be unspoken words too because there will probably be some missing from our table. Will Andrew still be with us? Or will he have passed on to another life? Will others be missing from our table too? Or will others be added to our table too? It will be a table gathered to pass plates and goodies as we laugh, cry, and talk. I even can see little ones gathered at the table too. I will be the first to ask to have the baby passed to me so I can get my baby snuggles in.

I don’t want to pass this by. I want to treasure every moment, every conversation, and every Twitter party until the day we meet around the table in real life. So for now..will you just pass the chocolate?I’ll be waiting!

Let’s Be Adventurers Looking for Lovely!

Have you ever watched a child play? They are so good about using their imaginations and adventuring to different places. Last month I met up with a neighbor friend who I haven’t seen in at least ten years. She is married with two young children. After lunch, we went to a local mall to play in their play area. M climbed right up into the toy jeep and then told me to get in so I climbed into the jeep. Needless to say, I wasn’t very comfortable as I am much bigger than a child, but I found myself laughing as M kept telling me where he was taking me. Why can’t we be more like children and be more spontaneous?

I’ll admit that I like being home, but I also have learned that when I do travel and adventure, I fall in love with the people and places I get to experience for the first time: Nashville with my sister last summer, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and so many other places. Yet I have not always been good at being spontaneous or an adventurer.

However, sometimes you just have to take the plunge. When I was in college, my friend Kristi and I decided to be spontaneous one night. Neither of us were the most spontaneous people in the world but Kristi was craving Olive Garden pasta and the nearest Olive Garden was approximately four hours away. So we hopped in Kristi’s car and drove to Fargo. We ate pasta, rented a hotel at a very seedy hotel and then got up the next morning and drove back to Bismarck. It is a memory that is ingrained in my mind because it taught both of us that it is great to be spontaneous.

Last night, I was watching Annie F. Down’s Looking for Lovely Party when she shared about the Looking for Lovely weekend in Nashville. The cost of the weekend is rather reasonable. I looked at the calendar and realized that it is a two day weekend that I could totally swing. The only problem is that flights to Nashville from Minot ND are usually rather expensive! 🙁 So while I want to be an adventurer and meet one of my fave authors in the world, I will have to wait on this adventure.

Sometimes life is like that, isn’t it? Life gets in the way of our being adventurers. Yet I still believe that we are all called to be adventurers. God wants us to explore this awesome creation that God created. In doing so, as adventurers, it is so much easier for us to find the lovely in the world. So will you join me in being adventurers as we continue to look for lovely in our world?

I am linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday! 


Raw and Real

Last night I was making Korean Bao sliders from my Blue Apron box. As I was frying the hamburger, I kept finding myself returning the hamburger to the pan at the sight of any red or pink meat. I’m a woman who loves her meat very well done so I had to make sure my meat was well cooked. In fact, I don’t want to see any hints of rawness exposed which got me thinking more about life.

How raw are you? Are you willing to be raw, real and vulnerable? Or are you afraid to expose yourself to the people around me? Exposing ourselves, in all our raw vulnerability and glory, is almost impossible to do. I know it took me a long time to show myself to the world; to share parts of my story that I never wanted to tell. Yet I’m reminded of Brene Brown’s words “The bravest thing you’ll ever do is tell your story.”

I believe that God wants us to be open and raw with one another; to remind each other that we are not on this journey alone. In fact, in sharing our stories, we no longer hide our own skinned knees, but rather compare our scars with one another; scars that like the scars left on Jesus’ hands after his crucifixion and resurrection remind us of the ultimate power of God.

It’s scary to expose ourselves. Yet God made each one of us unique. God wants us to show all of who God created us to be; as “fearfully and wonderfully made” beings. It may be scary, yet in exposing ourselves, we remind each other of the gift of who we are.

It’s important to be real and raw. This week my friend MG voxed me and shared how she appreciated my realness, my rawness and my vulnerability in sharing my story. To be honest, those are words that  15 years ago, you wouldn’t have heard about me. But over the years, I’ve learned the value of being raw. In being raw, I show every part of who I am even those parts I don’t even want to share.

Are you willing to be real, vulnerable and raw too?

I’m linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, and Jennifer and Tell His Story.


Some of My Fave Road Trip Jams

Summer will soon be upon us. And I don’t know about you, but I love some good music to jam out to as I drive down those highways and byways. For the last six summers, I have attended a continuing education event in the heart of the Rocky Mountains just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. From where I live, it is about a 12-14 hour drive so I always sing loudly to my fave songs as I drive down the road. In that vein, I wanted to share my road trip playlist with you! I’ve been checking out some road trip posts from car rental company Turo recently and was inspired to create my own. Check them out if you’re looking for a different Car rental company for trips – they’re a peer-to-peer platform so you can rent from a local and enjoy a more personal experience!

I will admit that my taste in music can be rather eclectic. I like everything from contemporary christian to country to oldies and everything in-between. So I thought I would share some of my fave road trip songs to sing along too. These are some of my faves because I can sing loudly to them without a care in the world.

I told you it was an eclectic list, but I love anything that I can jam out too.


Sunday Blessings 124

(1) Baby time with Miss R

(2) Compliments on my outfit of the day–Julia dress, leggings and short boots.

(3) Getting to see CT’s girls and getting hugs from them.

(4) A great lunch with great ladies

(5) Sitting outside and reading a book

(6) Texting with my friend MW

(7) One of the ladies bringing us treats for our meeting.

(8) A lady asking me if I’ve lost weight

(9) My friend EG complimenting me on my outfit.

(10) A much needed haircut

(11) A beautiful day for a drive

(12) Running into AH

(13) Brantley Gilbert concert with my sister.

(14) One of Canaan Smith’s guitar players catching my eye and throwing his guitar pick at me.

(15) Our concert seats being upgraded.

(16) A fun weekend with my sister

(17) Looking over during worship and seeing EG copying me. So cute!!

(18) Running into a member at Perkins and having a nice visit.

(19) 10th Anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA!!

(20) Cars 2

(21) My sis buying me my fave cinnamon gummy bears

(22) An awesome PLN

(23) My new fave beverage: Blackberry Cucumber La Croix Sparkling Water

(24) A warm house on this very rainy day

(25) YOU!!

United We Stand

The Five Minute Friday community has *united* me to so many awesome people. I’m so blessed by each and every one of them. This community wouldn’t be anything without any of them. We gather every Thursday night to chat and wait for our gracious host to give us the word prompt. Tonight we talked about the Jungle Book and how evil She Khan is. We also shared about how 3D movies and glasses always make us feel cross eyed. We shared some writing advice. Marie came in and told us she was going to stand in the corner because she is crabby. We told her we’d welcome her “princess crabby pants” anyways. All are welcome here! Then our conversation led to the news of the death of Prince right before Kate gave us the prompt. Then everyone went away to write;  tapping away on their keys. 

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 “unite.”

United we stand, divided we fall.

As a young child, I was a kid who was teased. Those words that were hurled at me hurt my heart. But I was blessed with friends who stood up for me and stood with me.

United we stand, divided we fall.

On Saturday, I will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA. Seminary was not at all an easy journey for me. I took systematic theology more times than I care to admit. I am reminded of my first days of classes where I finally mustered up the courage to speak and was immediately shut down.

A few years later,  my advisor gave me sage advice when he said to my approval committee “Do you know how easy it would have been for Tara to walk out the door, shut the door and never look back. It takes more guts to stick with it.” Because of those words, I was able to stick with it. I remember one day in particular when some classmates united with me, sat across the table from me, and told me how much they had seen me change over the course of our time together.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Funny story, *my birthday fell in those first days of seminary. I bought my own birthday cake. But my friends and I sat and ate that cake with our hands that night. It is one of my favorite memories from seminary and is engrained in my heart and mind. Together we stood united as we walked across that stage and graduated from seminary. Together we stood united as we watched two of our friends lives united as one. Together we have stood united through each of our joys and sorrows.

United we stand, divided we fall.

God has placed amazing people in my life who have stood by through all of life’s ups and downs. My camp friends, youth ministry friends, my online friends and so many more….you have stood united with me. And I will stand united with you.

Last summer, as I got to hug Jen, sit across the table from Janel and Val, my heart was full as I once again found souls that were united to mine as we shared our love of words and writing. Every time I open my mailbox to find a sweet surprise, listen to a Vox or see a note on my Facebook wall, I know that I am not alone!

United we stand, divided we fall.

Too much in this world feels divided…war, destruction, death and the like. Today we read the news of the loss of another music icon whose music often united us.  Yet I know that the ultimate uniter is Jesus–Jesus who binds us together in communities where we will stand united rather than fall divided!

*where my five minutes ended

No Quitting And Looking for Lovely

I have never seen myself as a quitter. I rode my book without training wheels. But you know, I think, there are other areas in my life where I might be a quitter.

For the last six summers, I have attended a continuing education event in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. My first summer, some of the locals offered to take us on a “family friendly” hike. I decided to go on that hike, but little did I realize how “family friendly” was not the same to me. Half way through that hike, I thought I was going to die (I might have been a little dramatic!) I seriously didn’t think I was going to be able to finish that hike, but I seriously kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Yet maybe in my own ways, I was ready and willing to turn around and just quit. Then I was convicted by Annie F. Downs when she wrote: “I could already see that in my little bit of walking the trails, the suffering has made me persevere, my character (my strength) had grown, and I had hope to keep going. God was showing me in nature, and in my body, what has always been true in my spirit if I would choose to see it that way. He was literally changing me from the inside out (Looking for Lovely, P. 166).”

God is indeed changing me and you from the inside out. I want to be a woman who both perseveres and clings to grace. In the words of Annie Downs, I want to be a woman who is marked by grace and perseverance as partners (Looking for Lovely, P. 167)”

Taking that first step and doing the things that are hard, we are no longer quitters. We will be people who take a few steps rather than no steps at all. “I just had to keep showing up, even when it hurt or felt hard or wasn’t AT ALL what I wanted to do (Looking for Lovely, P. 39)”

As I prepare to be a step taker rather than a quitter, I want to share some of my fave quotes from Annie’s latest book. I could share so many but I’ll limit them to a few today.

“The things you want, the things you love, the things that make you cry, and the things that make you laugh, and the things that make you more angry than you thought you could be–it’s a rare combination. In fact, it’s a one-of-a-kind combination. Because God made you that way. On purpose. Your looks. Your loves. Your losses. They are you (Looking for Lovely, P. 44)

“My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain (Looking for Lovely, P. 75).”

“And what I’m almost too afraid to think about, if I’m being honest with you, is what this means for the tears I’ve cried over my singleness. Because…THEY HAVE BEEN CRIED AND WILL BE CRIED AGAIN. How can something dwarf the heartache and loneliness I’ve felt my whole adult life? How can that be? I question if it can, to be honest. That’s just the truth of what I feel. I love my life and I’m so grateful for all I have, but it certainly isn’t the kind of joy that makes the tears seem tiny (Looking for Lovely, P. 83).”

“Your people remind you of the goodness of God and remind you of what it means to finish (Looking for Lovely, P. 143).”

To Love Well

” If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all God’s mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain ‘Jump,’ and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”-1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (The Message)
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today when I came across these words on my friend Dana’s page. Today these words hit me more than ever before. I too want to love well. And I want to know that the love I am sharing; God’s love is making a difference. Because God’s love always wins.
This Bible verse also got me thinking about the deepest yearnings of my heart. As a single 37 year old, still yearning deeply to be a wife and mom, there are days I wonder why my heart is yearning so deeply. I also wonder why I cling to the words “How long, oh Lord, will you forget me forever?” But what I have come to realize is that God has called me to “love well.” I want to be a friend who loves her friends well. I want to be a mom who loves her children well. I want to be a wife who loves her spouse well. I want to simply love well…whatever that love may look like in my own life.
Yes, there are days that we are not so great at loving each other well. We have arguments. We don’t always agree with one another. We sometimes are selfish and jealous. But the truth is that even in the midst of those challenges, God calls us to all love well; to shower God’s love upon this world. God sent God’s son into the world for each and every one of us. “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God sent God’s Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16-17).”
God’s love for the world was given to each and every one of us when God sacrificed God’s Son on the cross for our sins. What an incredible powerful act of love–the ultimate example of what it means to love well. I too want to share that love and grace with the world. I too want to follow and love all God’s people well; most especially I want to love well all those that are different than me. To be honest, I don’t know what God will say when we get to heaven, but what I do know is that God loves us so much that God sent Jesus for our sins…and Jesus was the ultimate example of love for the world. Jesus always choose love and wasn’t afraid to sit with those that were different than him.
One doesn’t need to look far to see how our world is bombarded with pain, war, and violence. There are so many days when I don’t want to open a newspaper or turn on my television because of the destruction that I will see. Instead I am choosing to cling to hope and God’s love for the world because ultimately it is God’s love that wins and calls each and every one of us to “love each other well”; a love that is stronger than just words and actions; a love that transcends beyond all time and space!
For King and Country–The Proof of Your Love
I am linking up with these lovelies today–Holly and Testimony Tuesday; Kelly and the RaRa linkup; Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday!!


Sunday Blessings 123

(1) Voxing with KA

(2) Annie F. Downs book “Looking for Lovely”

(3) A Vox from MarieG

(4) Volunteer Recognition with some great ladies from church.

(5) Starbucks Key Lime Refresher

(6) Fun children’s sermon at Wed night worship.

(7) Receiving my tax refunds; federal and state.

(8) My fave guilty pleasure; the tv show Nashville

(9) Texting with MW

(10) A Vox from CM..I’ve missed hearing from you friend.

(11) An email from my blog friend CR telling me she was blessed by reading my words in the book I’m working on. She also had great suggestions to help make it better.

(12) FMF Party

(13) The sweet smell of a spring rain

(14) Supper with my Aunt P and her friend.

(15) Going to the movie Jungle Book with Aunt P and her friend C

(16) Movie theater popcorn

(17) A great Sunday morning

(18) A sweet thank you for what you do gift bag left in my office.

(19) Supper with one of my fave families

(20) Watching my fave dancers at their funk show.

Learning to Ride A Bike

If you don’t know the low down, Thursday night is the night for FMF party where we gather and catch up on life and wait for our gracious host Kate to give us the word prompt for the week. Tonight we talked about all things Gilmore Girls. We lived vicariously through our friends who are together at the Festival of Faith and Writers. I seriously gush over these people and this community at every chance I get. I am so blessed by each of them and cannot wait until we meet in real life. Love you peeps!!

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 “easy.”

Learning how to ride a bike isn’t the easiest thing in the world, is it? Most kids have to ride around with training wheels on their bikes. They ride around until they have balance and the tires are no longer on the ground. That is a sure sign that they are probably ready to ride their bike. But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be skinned knees and elbows.

For me, learning to ride a bike was fairly easy. My parents surprised me with my first bike for my 5th Birthday. I had many friends over for my party. I had to solve the scavenger hunt clues until it led me to my new bike. I was so excited!!! My friends had me sit on the bike. They held on and pushed me while I pedaled. After awhile, my friends let go of my bike and I was still peddling. I was riding my bike by myself.

Riding my bike came easy for me, but for others, it maybe doesn’t come as easily. For some writing might come easy. For others, singing might come easy. Life is like that isn’t it? Life isn’t always easy. Life is full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows and so much more. We grieve. We cry. We struggle.  I truly believe that life isn’t suppose to be easy. In fact, I came across this quote and it is so full of truth: “Nothing worth having comes easy!” Amen!

Peaceful Easy Feeling–The Eagles 
And because it’s the first song 
I thought of when I heard the word prompt, 
I had to include this! One of my fave songs 
To jam out to!