The Remedy of Love

Sorry again friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy! And I need to get back into a routine! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “remedy.”

This past year was a difficult year. There was so much we tried to do to care for ourselves and our neighbors. But for most of us, it was a really difficult year. We yearned for physical touch. We yearned for people. I think for many of us, we were lonelier than we realized.

About a year ago, I joined TikTok on a whim. I was hoping to have some fun and post some videos. Little did I know that my paths would cross with the most incredible group of humans. And those humans have blessed me in more ways than I can count.

And then a long came an opportunity! A meet up in Las Vegas for TikTok creators. Due to CoVid, I wasn’t going to go. But after my second vaccination, I realized that the best remedy for my mental health was to go on this trip. So I purchased my ticket. I knew that I would wear my mask when I needed to and being vaccinated gave me some peace of mind.

That trip validated me in so many ways. I have never felt as loved as I did that weekend. And that love continues to be shared with me every single day. I’m so thankful for these root friendships in my life. They have been the remedy to finding more joy and happiness!

Bouyed by Love

I’ve been telling my friends that they are going to have to start investing in Kleenex because they have brought me so many happy joyful tears lately. It is hard to even encapsulate into words, but this blog post is my attempt to do just that.

The story begins on Tik Tok of all places…yes I said Tik Tok! I met this amazing group of beautiful humans who are all about spreading love and positivity. One of the very first people I met on Tik Tok was a guy that goes by the handle @the_shoe_fits; my friend Dan. This incredible human has become one of my dearest friends and has taught me so much about sharing kindness and love with others.

This friend began something we call the love rally. It began with his idea. We are a bunch of creators who every two weeks go and love slap other creators. Slap stands for spreading love and positivity. It is so much fun and we often come into lives of those who really need to be uplifted that day. I have always participated but it wasn’t until about three months ago that I joined the crew officially. Little did I know what these people would bring to my life.

In the last three months, there have been changes happening within myself. As my friend Leonard says “the biggest glow up in all of Tik Tok!” This butterfly is beginning to emerge from her cocoon; spreading her own wings. It amazes me every day that I am not the same woman I was six months ago even.

On Saturday, my friend Matt posted a video saying how incredibly proud he was of me and to spend time remembering where I have come from and where I am going. That video made me bawl! And that was just the beginning of the onslaught of love that would be thrown my way over a course of about 72 hours. I think I counted at least nine videos where I was tagged. It was and continues to be so overwhelming.

These humans keep seeing me blossom (which funny thing: that is my 2021 word of the year). They see a potential in me that I don’t think I even saw in myself until they began to see it. They are showing me the power of my own light and I am so incredibly grateful..

Yes, there is still work to do but I know that I can do it with this incredible group of humans cheering me on. The walls are beginning to crumble around me. I am trusting in them now more than I ever have. I know that when it gets dark, they will show me the light or offer me a hand to grab hold of.

And because of them, I am learning to take care of me; to bring about my own happiness. This woman who has never worn makeup is now wearing it daily. There is light and joy back in my face and eyes. The smile keeps getting brighter and brighter. My confidence is growing and so many others are seeing it too (I’ve gotten at least two messages today asking me what I am doing differently because it looks good on me!)

I am basking in this unconditional love and trying not to let go of it because I am so excited to see what the future holds now. My heart is full. My cup is running over. And I am so ready to see what is in store next. But not without saying the biggest thank you to my love rally family. You have made this woman see and value her own worth. You have made her realize the gifts she has of caring for others through kindness and compassion. You have made her stronger. You have made her, most of all, not feel alone!

Thank you beautiful humans! I love you all so much! You are stuck with me for ever and always!

Learning to Love Oneself

Sorry again friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “green.”

The eyeshadow brush moves across my eyelids. The purple eyeshadow begins to bring out the green in my eyes. I’ve never been much of a makeup girl until a few months ago. At 42 years old, I’m finally beginning to see my own worth; to see that I deserve love and to be loved. But most of all, I must love and care for me.

In the last three months, I’ve begun to blossom. I’m a woman who is finding her voice. A voice that’s always been there but now it is more confident; more solid. My voice isn’t as shaky when I speak my truths.

This morning, I was reminded of how far I’ve come and how bright my future looks. A dear friend posted a video on Tik Tok sharing how proud he is of me. Sitting on my couch, wearing my green love over hate tshirt, tears fell from my eyes as I realized how proud I should be of myself. I’m putting in the work and I’ve come a long way!

I’m excited to see what comes next!

My Own Metamorphosis

“The bravest thing you’ll ever do is tell your story!”-Brene Brown
If you’ve been around here for awhile, you know this is one of my favorite quotes. It took me over 16 years to tell my families mental health story. I am the daughter of a woman who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness.

In my 42 years on this earth, I’ve always cared deeply and taken care of others in my life. In a lot of ways, I’ve just gone through the motions. Then the year 2018 hit and I experienced some of the most profound grief I’ve felt in ages: nine family/friends lost to death. I was paralyzed by my grief yet I keep moving forward: most days in a fog.

I did a lot of work that next year to move myself out of that grief. And I did find my way out of it. However, that grief still was unknowingly clinging to me. I’ve been moving through life at half speed or less than half speed. There are so many dreams I want to fulfill but I’ve procrastinated for so long. Today I’m choosing to move forward.

The last year (2020) has taught me that I’m more resilient than I give myself credit for. And the last month, my world has been blessed by an amazing crew in Tik Tok. Their words have cracked open the facid I’ve been living and I am emerging as a beautiful butterfly who is slowly gaining her wings to fly at full strength.

I look at my phone screen and I see a new woman or perhaps not a new woman but the same woman that’s always been underneath the shell of grief and fear, she just needed to be cracked open.

The world is beginning to see a woman who is now more confident than she’s ever been. The world is seeing a woman that so many have known fully but others only know partially. The world is seeing a woman who is lighter and brighter than she’s been in ages. In the words of Amanda Gorman, I’m finally fully brave enough to see the light and be the light. And for that I’m so incredibly thankful. Yet thank you doesn’t even seem to be enough!

So as my thank you, I will live each day moving forward with new vigor and energy. I will continue to show the world the woman you all have seen from the beginning. I will embody what it means to move forward knowing that the struggles, the hard times they don’t define us.

Fresh Dessert

Sorry again friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “fresh.”

When I first heard the word prompt, I immediately thought of the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. “I whistled for a cab and when it came near; The license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror; If anything I could say that this cab was rare; But I thought ‘Nah, forget it’ – ‘Yo, holmes to Bel Air.’” It’s such a fun little ditty.

I’ve found a deep love for baking and cooking in my kitchen. Cookies that I got to share with friends. Last night I made a fresh batch of stew with jalapeño cornbread. This afternoon, the sweet smell of a Japanese cheesecake is wafting in the air. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. It’s my first attempt at this kind of cheesecake.

Once the cheesecake is finished, I’ll enjoy it with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. I’ll have to let you know how it tastes. I think it’ll be yummy it’s a cup of hot tea or maybe a peppermint mocha.

With Sighs Too Deep

“With sighs too deep for words” 

This is the prayer that is replaying in my head and heart today. As an Enneagram 9, I am the peacemaker. I want peace for everyone. Last night, after the events of the day, my body was feeling every bit of the tension of the day. I decided to grab the current book I’m reading and draw myself a bath. I needed to do something that was good for my body and me. It didn’t take long before the tears fell from my face. And as the tears fell, my fur babies Luna and Neville curled up next to the tub. It was the moment of peace, joy and laughter I didn’t realize I needed until that very moment. Yet I wasn’t blind to the world outside still in chaos.

“With sighs too deep for words”

My heart aches that our country continues to be so divided. We have forgotten how to truly listen and learn from each other. Earlier this year, I committed to joining a friend’s book study on racism. I’ve learned so much as we have read “White Fragility,” “Stamped,” “Between the World and Me,” “The New Jim Crow,” “Just Mercy” and our current read “Racecraft.” I’m still committed to learning and being a better ally. There are days that I fail at this so I will continue to confess my own complacency in calling out white privilege.

“With sighs too deep for words”

There is so much swirling around in my brain and heart as I continue to process yesterday’s events. I still yearn for a day where we can learn from each other. I yearn for a day when our love for each other unites us rather than divides us. I yearn for a better future for my friends children who have experienced the realities of being a black child in a white world. I yearn for so much better and I’m not blind to the work we still have to do. I can’t help but think of the baptismal promises said in my baptism and at my confirmation, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

I want to share with you words that I wrote as we waited for the election results to come in. These words have been sitting on my iPad since that day. I’ve been afraid to share them because I know not all of my readers will agree or even understand. But I need to share them in the hopes that maybe they’ll create some dialogue and we can learn from each other. I also think you’ll notice the deep difference in how my body reacted on both days; a day where the tension in my body released and another day when the tension was felt in every part of my body.

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Written November 2020…

Four years ago, I was on the losing side of history. I felt so many emotions. I was disappointed and hopeless. Yet there was a holy fire that was lit in me that day and has continued every day since that day (I wrote this blog post for the Slate Project four years ago: https://www.slateproject.org/blog/grief-guilt-and-the-holy-fire-of-hope-by-tara-ulrich

This time around, I voted by mail because we are in the midst of a pandemic and I need to protect my neighbors and those who are most vulnerable. So Election Day Tuesday was a quiet day, yet I found myself stress baking and trying to distract myself from election results. The smell of fresh apple crisp and baked oatmeal are still lingering in the air. 

Tuesday, of course, drug on forever. And each day since Tuesday, Ive found myself filled with anxiety. What would happen in the days to come? In the hours? In the minutes? I kept scrolling and wondering when the news would be confirmed. 

Then this morning, I woke up to watch The Kitchen on the Food Network. I was scrolling Tik Tok and saw a post of a woman who posted about the news. I immediately went to Twitter. One of the first tweets I read said: Biden/Harris win! Tears began falling from my eyes! Tears of relief. Tears of joy. Tears of hope.

However, it isn’t lost on me that there are some of my friends feeling some of the same emotions I felt four years ago. So I find myself wanting to celebrate quietly. But I can’t help but realize that today is a good and historic day. Character matters! We’ve just elected the first woman Vice President. 

For the past four years, I’ve watched and heard stories of my friend’s children who are children of color experience horrendous racism. I’ve watched the news unfold as so many like George Floyd have cried out, “I can’t breathe.” I’ve tried my best to learn and live my life as an ally to those on the margins. There are days that I’ve failed, but I will not stop trying until black, indigenous, LGTBQ+ lives matter as much as white lives matter. We have so much work to do, friends! 

Several months ago, I started engaging in a book club around racial injustice. My eyes have been opened even more to the racism that many feel every day. As we’ve read White Fragility, Stamped, and Between the World and Me and had hard conversations, I’ve felt a deep need for our world to do better. There is so much we’ve omitted about what this world was founded on. The color of our skin does give us advantages in this world.

I voted for sweet Mara, Samuel, and every little kiddo I know. I want better for each and every one of them. But most of all, I want better for my BIPOC, indigenous, and LGTBQ+ friends. There are so many names running through my head as I write this. We must erase white privilege. We must listen, learn and work for a world where justice is served: justice where every human life matters. 

I know this is where some of my readers will disagree. I know some supported Trump because of his beliefs about abortion. However, many of us who are pro choice do not see it as pro abortion. For many of us, pro-choice means that no matter your personal feelings or beliefs, we understand and believe it is not our place to make a decision for another woman about what she can and can’t do with her body. 

Our country still remains so divided. But today is a reminder that love wins. We are called to love one another just as we love ourselves. We are called to work towards a justice that wipes out systematic racism, beats this pandemic, and in the words of our President and VP elect, to heal the soul of our nation. As I heard those words spoken tonight, more tears fell from my eyes. There also was a huge sigh of relief and release from my body.

I know we have so much work to do. But tonight I feel hopeful and that holy fire, lit four years ago, is still burning. It’s flickering with new life. Tonight and for the days to come, may the long process of work and healing begin! 

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“With sighs too deep for words”

Tik Tok, A Pandemic and Transformation

When 2020 began, I was packing up boxes and moving in with my sister. I was standing in the midst of liminal space, wondering what was to come next.(http://prayingontheprairie.net/giving-birth-to-transformation/) I had placed all my trust in God. And before I knew it, new beginnings were happening. I began a new call around the first of March.

Little did I know that the beginning would slowly be put to a halt as the pandemic really took off in the US. I attended church the first two weeks in my new community. The third week I traveled with Pr Sherri to two other communities. That week was the beginning of the end as worship moved to online after that week.

The first weeks and months were difficult as I made new friends and met new parishioners through Zoom. Pr Sherri’s departure to Oslo, Norway was delayed for several months. Yet there was gift in those moments too. I learned so much from my colleague. I found new ways to be creative like making Tik Tok videos.

This was not the year any of us expected, but as I look back over this year and my one word, I can truly say I was transformed. 2018 was full of so much loss and grief. But that year prepared me in so many ways for this year that was to be. God healed my pain and helped me to become whole; not without the cracks and repairs though. Our cracks remind us of where we came from and where we are going!

I was reminded of how much joy the kitchen brings me. There is something holy about creating with my hands. I love when I’m able to share that with others. Tonight, I made a NYE beautiful spread for my sister and I. I even sent cookies to dear friends.

Tik Tok brought me joy, but most of all it introduced me to some of the most amazing friends. I am so incredibly thankful for each friend I’ve made there. They remind me of how loved, unique, and special I am. In a lot of ways, their friendship has made me find my beauty and worth again.

2020 has been a year of so much loss and grief and it is a year that we won’t soon forget. Masks, racial injustice, a highly contested presidential election are only a few of the things we will remember. This year had taught us a lot and reminded us what’s important. It’s been a year of transformation but transformation in the ways we didn’t expect.

 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”-Romans 12:2

Tracing Back to the Manger

“This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.”-Luke 2:2

Yesterday December 23rd was the second anniversary of my grandfather’s death. His death was the ninth death in 2018. 2018 was the year of great loss and grief and it constantly felt that I was on the Lenten weary road of grief. I was a Road Weary Traveler. Little did I know how much that year would prepare me for the year of 2020.

This year has been filled with so much loss and grief. At times, God has seemed distant and silent. Yet it’s no surprise in the midst of such great loss. Chairs at holiday tables are empty because loved one have been lost to Covid 19. Families are not together because they are quarantining or simply trying to keep their neighbors safe. As a result, we might need a little help preparing our hearts to receive this infant king.

I, for one, need God to help me prepare my heart to receive Emmanuel “God with us.” My heart is so heavy with the grief of this year. I look at my Christmas tree and am reminded of dear Marvel who gifted me with my tree skirt. Marvel caught Covid 19 and passed away. She was one of the kindest and healthiest women that I know. Her husband and family are not far from my mind this holiday season. And their story is only one in a million stories from the year of our Lord; 2020.

I grieve that the beginning of my call started right as the pandemic took flight here in the United States. I’ve taught Bible study over Zoom. I’ve edited countless worship services. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve questioned if we are doing enough to protect those we serve. After months of waiting to travel to Norway, my colleague finally left to start her new call in Oslo. In the midst of the grief, I’m thankful for the time we shared and all she taught me. But I once again find myself on the weary road and I’m tired!

To be honest, this has been the longest Lenten weary road ever, leading us straight into Advent and to the manger. At the manger, we are reminded that Christ comes as the light in the midst of the darkness. But sometimes, like this year, we need to sit in the dark and be reminded that only God has the power to overcome death and the grave.

Because God overcomes death and the grave, I need to hear the words that the angel says to Mary, to Joseph and to all of us “Do not be afraid.” I need to faithfully hear and share the story because “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” Most especially, in the year of our Lord 2020, Jesus meets us in the hopes and fears of this very year.

And as I hear this familiar story, I am beginning to see signs of hope swaddled in God’s love for all of us. The vaccine is starting to be distributed to essential workers. My mom’s nursing home called yesterday and asked if we wanted mom to get the vaccine in early 2021. Glimmers of hope in the midst of an extremely difficult year.

Signs of hope come in Emmanuel “God with us.” This one who promises to never leave us or forsake us. This one who comes into the world, in all his humanity, as the Word made flesh. “ 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).”

Tears are falling from my eyes as I remember again that Jesus is the one born “as the hopes and fears of all the years.” God’s love is met in thee tonight; met in an infant Son born for all the world to see and always traces us back to the manger, to the cross and to the empty tomb.

Unmute yourselves, my friends and proclaim loudly and triumphantly “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 11-12)

Looked with Favor

This morning, I received a phone call from my mom’s nursing home asking if we wanted her to get the Covid 19 vaccine. I know the call was coming. My sister and I had talked about so I was ready to give them an answer. Yes!

“For God looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”

“God looked with favor on those working on the frontlines” “

“God looked with favor on the nurses, the doctors.”

“God looked with favor on nursing home residents, the disabled, minorities and so many others”

May all these be able to stay safe and receive the vaccine that need it and want it.

”For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.”

A New Year

Sorry again friends that I’ve been MIA. Life has just been busy! The weekly Five Minute Friday word prompt for this week is “conclude.”

I think we can all agree on one thing…that we all are ready for 2020 to be over. It has been a pretty crummy year. Family and friends have suffered from COVID. One of my favorite people died from COVID. I began my new call right as this pandemic really took off in the states.

There has been a tad bit of good that came out of this year. Zoom has been a life saver as it’s allowed me to stay connected to more people than I imagined or expected. My colleagues departure to Norway and her new call was delayed. The months we served together I learned so much from her. My sister and I are only an hour apart.

Yet this year has been full of so much loss and grief. I’m more than ready for a new year and 2021 to arrive! As I write this, the first vaccines are starting to be given to essential workers. I’m beginning to see more glimmers of hope as this year concludes and a new year is soon upon us.

May 2021 be filled with so much joy!