I Can’t and I Won’t

“My mom is bipolar”

The words finally 
Escape my lips.

18 years of 

An untold story 
Because of the stigma
Associated with the illness. 
I didn’t tell it
Because I was afraid; 
Afraid all I would hear is 
“Shut up”

Now 20 years later
After the first time
I told our story
I can’t not tell it.

The voices
Of discord
Have finally
Been shut up.

The reality is that my fear was real because of our fractured world. Every time there has been a school shooting etc…where does the news immediately go? They almost always blame it on the individuals mental illness. Yet I know there is so much more to their stories. There is more than that one day captured in time. 
Or we turn on the news and hear of another black/brown man shot for the color of their skin. 
Or we see swastikas painted on school walls. 
Or we listen to voices that tell us to shut up because we are fighting for what we believe in. 
Or our Muslim friends are afraid to cover their heads because of how others see and treat them. 
Or we listen to the news trying to decipher what is truth and what isn’t. 
In the midst of all the noise, God calls us to be still and listen which requires that we shut up and listen; truly listen to one another. Too often, we don’t quiet our hearts and minds to listen for Gods voice. We are deaf to the trumpet sounds heralding around us. 
When we do finally shut up and listen, does Gods voice become even clearer? Or do we find ourselves still straining to hear Gods voice? 

And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”–Matthew 24:31 (NRSV) 

Once we take the time to shut up and listen, perhaps we finally hear the one true voice that calls us to be justice keepers, peace makers and lovers of all God’s children. It’s that voice that heralds the trumpets for ALL to hear; a voice we all need to hear in the midst of all the commotion of the world. 

Finally, may we take the time to truly listen, hear and proclaim in the promises of God who loved us so much God sent Gods son into the world for everyone of us. In all actuality, it seems to me that there are times that we need to shut up while at other times we need to use our voices to stand up for what is right! 

So I find myself clinging to the voice of God and in the midst of injustice, evil, and hatred, I must cry out; echoing the words of Desmond Tutu, “I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.” I can’t and I won’t when I see human beings being treated horribly. I can’t and I won’t when media portrays the murdered as anything but a beloved child of God. I can’t and I won’t when my LGTBQ+ friends are killed in a night club in Florida. I can’t and I won’t when there are other children who are paralyzed by fear and can’t tell their own broken stories. I can’t and I won’t when we don’t treat one another as beloved children of God. 

I simply can’t and I won’t when God calls me to live out the words in Micah 6:8 “But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness/mercy and walk humbly with our God!” 

In Our Brokenness

Not whole

As I reflect on today’s word, all I can do is cry out to our God because our world is indeed fractured. One doesn’t need look far to see that. Yet it seems to me that in our brokenness, in our own fracturedness, we can and are gifts in this broken world.

I wouldn’t be who I am without telling the story of my own mom’s struggle of mental illness and living into my own vulnerability as her daughter. Yet I realize that is often so much easier said than done. In fact, I know how hard it is because it took me 18 years to tell my families story. As Brene Brown says, “The bravest thing you’ll ever do is tell your story.” Yet do we truly listen to one another’s stories? It seems to me that often our ears and eyes aren’t always completely open to the injustices happening all around us.

Our world is…….FRACTURED!

18 years of an untold story locked deep in the depths of my heart.

Divorced families

Democrats or Republicans

Water or oil

Curse words or flowery language

And these are only just a few of the examples I see in our broken fractured world every day. I want better. In fact, anyone who knows me knows that I am often a peacemaker and not an agitator. But what I’m learning is sometimes (read:most of the time) God calls us to move outside our comfort zones; to be agitators in this world. Perhaps we need to be Gods megaphone to a deaf world.

And as the megaphone, it seems to me that God can handle whatever we choose to scream at him. Jesus himself even cursed at the tree when he came into Jerusalem. As a daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness, there are words that I have uttered that came from the very depths of my being–words that weren’t pretty but instead were filled with lament.

Our world is indeed fractured in so many and various ways. In fact, I’m saddened and angry as I’ve watched how we treat one another. I’m especially angry at how my LGTBQ +, Jewish and Muslim friends and black/brown friends are treated. My dear friends, we can do better. I want so desperately to cling to hope, yet there are days I wonder if we will ever find hope, ever find wholeness, equality and justice in our broken fractured world.

It seems to me though that our brokenness is often what makes us whole again. It’s what transforms us into who God has called us to be. I’m reminded of a Japanese art form called “kintsugi” where they take broken pottery, piece it back together and lacquer it with gold. The gold cracks are a reminder of where this pottery has been. It’s also the place where the light shines through. It’s where I believe God uses each of us to make the world whole again; by listening to and loving ALL Gods children. Yet I’ll admit there are more days than I care to admit, I just want to smash our world into the ground because of the injustices I see around me.

During this Advent season, my only hope is in our God who came to Noah after the flood; who placed a rainbow in the sky as a promise that God would always fulfill. It is that promise that I hold on tightly to in the midst of our fractured world.


When we
Do justice
Love kindness/mercy
And walk humbly with our God!


“In the six hundred first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and saw that the face of the ground was drying.”–Genesis 8:13 (NRSV)

As a farmer’s daughter, niece, and granddaughter, I am well aware of what a drought can do to the land. I have seen sunflower growth stunted because there is no water. I have watched as wheat wilts from the scorching heat of the sun with no relief in sight. I have seen tumbleweeds blow freely across the wide open prairies. I have seen the worry marks stretch across a farmers face as he/she waits for the rains to come down from the heavens. In fact, drought is a feeling one doesn’t soon forget as many cry out for the rains to come down.

Drought brings about death–death of the land and so much more. As a farmer’s daughter, I have seen the death of dreams and hopes dashed by drought. I have seen the death of crops and land. The truth is, in the midst of drought, one cannot escape the reality of death. It is all around us.

And in our broken messed up world, it feels to me like we cannot escape this drought we seem to be currently battling. I continue to cry out for God to rend the heavens. I continue to cry out for the rains to come down and water the earth that so badly needs replenishing. I stand, with my arms lifted high, calling out for the waters to rain down and remind the world that ALL of God’s children are beloved children of God.

In fact, I open a newspaper, turn on the television or radio and find myself crying out once again. I see another black person killed because of the color of their skin. I see my LGTBQ + friends who are afraid for their future and their children’s future. I see my Muslim and Jewish friends who are afraid to be who God created them to be because of how others see them. It seems to me, that these beloved children of God, understand what it means to trust in the midst of a drought. But more than anything, I want the heavens to rain down and wash away the hatred and fear that plagues our world.

In the midst of drought, I find that all I can do is cling to the hope that comes as we journey from the manger and eventually to the cross. Too often we pass right over Good Friday to Easter. We forget that Jesus was born in the stench and stealth of the manger. Through his cries, Jesus breaks into our often sleeping and silent world as the hope for all the world. It is a hope that breaks upon the floodgates of heaven and rains down on this broken land. It is a hope that reminds us who and whose we are. It is a hope that one can only cling to when it seems there is nothing else to cling to in this broken messed up world.

Sunday Blessings 149

(1) YouthWorkers gathering

(2)Guest posting on one of my fave blogs. Thanks #SlateSpeak peeps!

(3) A phone call from my momma

(4) A sweet gift in my mail

(5) REM Thanksgiving Lunch

(6) Running into KM and KM at Target

(7) Sweet friends who leave me sweet comments.

(8) Tangled

(9) Threepeat chili champion

(10) Playing with AH

(11) Getting to see ST and KG

(12) Visiting with D and M

(13) New LLR Carly

(14) Time with E.G.

(15) Kleenex

(16) Spending Thanksgiving with E.G./GG and their family.

(17) A surprise piece of mail from EG

(18) Texting with JS

(19) Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

(20) The beginning of Advent

Broke into the World

“How long, Oh Lord, will you forget me forever?”

Anyone who knows me well knows that these very words are continually the echoes of my heart. As long as I can remember, I have yearned to be a mom. Yet here I sit and wait and watch. This prayer still sits unanswered. It often feels like a heavy weight upon my shoulders. Honestly I’m not one to swear, but somedays it feels like those are the only words that can be uttered from my lips. Today I want to scream that visceral F word because it feels like it’s the only word that captures what I’m feeling as I wait.

And with my own unanswered prayer, I look around and see so many other unanswered prayers throughout this world. One only open a newspaper or turn on the radio or television. At first, I find myself sad and angry. But now as this season of Advent begins,  I find myself soul weary and very tired. All I can do is call upon God; for God to send Gods son to rend the heavens.

This precious infant broke into the world; broke not into a clean room but instead into the stench and stealth of the manger. Jesus was born among cattle, pigs and other animals. It wasn’t the sparkly clean that we often make it out to be. It was quite the oppposite. Yet Jesus promises to come again; to judge the living and the dead.

We don’t know when this day or hour will come. But it seems to me that God calls us to prepare and be prepared–“Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” God continually calls us to love our neighbors. God calls us to “do justice, love kindness and mercy, and walk humbly with our God!” And as I am reminded of that promise, I can’t help but cling to the one who comes as Emmanuel–God with us; to give in to my own tiredness and my own vulnerability and trust that this one will rend the heavens as his son is born and breaks into this broken world.

So as we journey to the manger, I find myself yelling at the top of my lungs,

Come down.

Rend the heavens.

Rend the heavens.

Rend the heavens.

Sweet Surrender

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “surrender.” We’d love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

A story locked deep inside my heart. 18 years of my life passed by before I finally told it to the world. A story of my own families brokenness; Our own story of mental illness. 

I sat in the dorm room at camp when the camp director came in and asked me what was wrong. The floodgates opened and the words finally surrendered. I began to tell our story. It was one of the most freeing moments of my life. I’ll never forget the feeling of sweet release as I told our story. A moment of sweet surrender that is so much of who I am–the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.

In this sweet surrender, I now cannot not tell our story. It is who and whose I am; Tara, Sandy’s daughter; beloved, broken, blessed child of God. And when I finally surrender to that title and name, the words began to pour out into this space and have been poured out into my first self published book. It is hard to believe it has been six months already since I self-published that book.

There is something so incredibly holy about surrendering to who and whose we are. There is even more holiness when we tell the truth of our own brokenness and our own stories. It tells a lot about our identity and our passions in life. It reminds us of the joy and freedom and gift that comes when we finally surrender to God and to ourselves.  

Sweet surrender that breaks open the doors and windows of our soul through surrendered words; surrendered words through written and vocal words. 

Room for More

Sitting around the table in the refectory, seminary students gather to break bread together. Another student walks in. We shift our trays and pull up another chair. Throughout the evening, there is a small gathering of students who continue to come and break bread together. I always remember the time that was taken to make room for another individual. There was always room for more.

Last night, a friend asked me what I am doing for Thanksgiving this week. I told her that I was simply going to be sticking around here and spending it by myself. Within minutes, I was being invited to be a part of their meal. There was room for more at their table.

The thing, I believe, is that there is always room for more at God’s table. There is room for my LGTBQ+ friends. There is room for my Muslim and Jewish friends. There is room for those who voted differently than me. Because we are all beloved children of God, there is always room for more at the table.

At this table that continues to grow, I see my LGTBQ+ friends who are celebrating the announcement of a new child. I hear the voice of my Jewish friends reciting and confessing their faith around the table. I see various kinds of dishes; sweet potato casserole, turkey, and dishes from so many different nationalities. It is a diverse spread for which we all can be thankful.

Around that table, the wine is poured and the bread is broken. And as the dishes are passed from one hand to the next, a simple proclamation is proclaimed through that simple act: “Body of Christ broken for YOU; blood of Christ shed for YOU.” This table is a place for every single one of us to be seen, loved, and heard in this broken world.

“The heart of hospitality is about creating space for someone to feel seen and heard and loved. It’s about declaring your table a safe zone, a place of warmth and nourishment.” (Bread and Wine; Shauna Niequist)

This table is a holy place where there is always room for more; always room to listen to one another; always room to advocate for justice, mercy, and kindness. This table is the place where our hearts are stitched back together in our own brokenness because it is at this table that we are reminded that we are not on this journey alone.

“The table is the place where we store up for those days, where we log minutes and hours building something durable and strong that gets tested in those terrible split seconds. And the table is where we return to stitch our hearts back together after the breaking.” (Bread and Wine; Shauna Niequist)

In the breaking, another leaf is added to the table as more and more individuals are and always will be welcomed at this holy table. Will you join me at the table and bring others with you? There is room for ALL.

I am linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday.


Advent Enjoyment

I am linking up for Five Minute Friday.  The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today’s prompt is “enjoy.” I finally made it to the party last night. It was so good. I’ve missed my people the last several weeks. I need to get back into a routine! Love you all! We’d love to have you join us.  Just hop onto Twitter on Thursday evenings and follow the #fmfparty. Hope to see you there! 

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week already which also means Advent is soon around the corner? I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for Advent. I am in need of the hope that is born in this precious Christ child. I have to admit I have even broken my own rule and already started listening to Christmas music. (Sorry not sorry!)

I love Advent and taking the time to pause and enjoy the true meaning of the season. I enjoy listening to the lyrics in the words of Christmas hymns and letting them sink into my heart and head especially Go Fish’s More than a Story. I enjoy taking the time to celebrate and spend time with those I love.

Besides Advent, there are so many things I enjoy doing. I enjoy writing. I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I enjoy Starbucks Peppermint Mochas. I enjoy cinnamon gummy bears. I enjoy reading and books. I enjoy hot tea. I enjoy curling up when the winter wind is here and the snow is beginning to fall. I enjoy the prairies of North Dakota. What do you enjoy? Friends, would love to hear what you enjoy!

Sunday Blessings 148

(1) A great weekend with JT

(2)Stopping and seeing my sisters new place.

(3) Pumpkin streusel muffins

(4) #fmfsnailmailparty love

(5) Watching KT while her parents were out and she wasn’t feeling well.

(6) Pride of Dakota show with my sissy

(7) A phone call from TM.

(8) Baking while election returns were coming in.

(9) Exchanging numbers and chatting with a dear Twitter friend.

(10) Huskers win! Go Big Red!!!

(11) Writing a piece for the Slate Project blog.

(12) Movie with my sissy. We saw “Jack Reacher”

(13) Running into members at the pride of Dakota show–a hug, getting asked to help with something on a present, etc

(14) A sweet text from a youth’s mom

(15) Running into youth at Pride of Dakota and having them talk my ear off! 🙂

(16) A great intergenerational activity day.

(17) Papa Johns pizza

(18) Chatting with a friend. Thanks DM!

(19) A college friend asking to share about our intergenerational activity day. So fun to reconnect with KH as we chatted.

(20) Tackling Mt Laundry

(21) Talking to my grandma on the phone

Testifying to the Truth

It’s been a difficult week. One doesn’t need look far to see the hate and ugliness that has unfolded since Tuesday’s elections. I have shed more than a few tears.

Living and growing up in the Midwest, as a farmer’s daughter, granddaughter and niece, I know that all my friends and family didn’t take their decisions lightly when they went to the polls on Tuesday.  They voted for the candidate they believe they can trust in as they listened to their platforms. Many are hoping for change–change for what they believe to be for the better.

The thing that has struck me is how quickly we have been to judge one another. So often, I think our judgements are confounded by fears especially when we haven’t met someone who is different than us. I have loved growing up on the prairies of ND but it truly wasn’t until I went to college and seminary that I was exposed to new experiences that showed me my own white privilege and introduced me to awesome friends who just happened to be people of color.  And to be honest, I am constantly learning what it means to be privileged because of the color of my skin. Yet when we really get to know someone and really listen to each other, I think we all can be changed especially when we testify to the truth and truly love ALL Gods beloved children.

I know that we each choose the candidate we can trust in and sometimes that candidate doesn’t win. But it seems to me this time it’s different and it’s different for a reason. I have listened to my friends in their black and brown bodies who are afraid for their lives and the lives of those they loved. I have listened to my women friends who are triggered by Trump’s words because of their own experiences of harassment.

I felt the impact of this more than it ever has just a few days ago. I worried when a friend didn’t answer my texts or instant messages. When she finally called, two days after the election, I sat and listened to her as she questioned how she’ll get through the next four years with President Elect Trump in power. Everything about him–his actions, his voice,etc–triggers her PTSD. As I sat quietly listening, I wanted so desperately to take it away. I wanted to reach through my phone, hug her and let her know that together we will walk through this time.

But are my words more than action? Or are they just words? A friend that I was privileged to meet this summer at the churchwide assembly; a beautiful brown skinned child of God, asked us her white allies, “What are you willing to give up? She also continued, “Words without actions are dead!” For me, that means fully without exception living out my calling to diakonia and the words of Micah 6:8 “But what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God!?”

Her words have been ringing in my ear all day. And my conclusion is that I don’t want my words to be dead words. I want ALL Gods beloved children to be truly welcomed on this earth. I want my words to embody the love that I know God calls us to; the love that was shown us in Jesus who unquestionably wasn’t afraid to sit with tax collectors and sinners–sinners like you and ME and everyone in between. I want my words to constantly and continually testify to the truth.

Will you too testify to the truth?

Will your words be more than just words?

Will we together let love; Gods love trump hate?

Because truly this time is an opportunity for us to testify!