Supper with the Fishies and the Grand Ole Opry

Another installment in the Nashville series. For those of you who are new to this blog, I have been recapping the sister’s trip that my sister Andrea and I took this summer. It was a blast. Hopefully these little nuggets will give you a little glimpse into how awesome this trip wasmemories to last a lifetime!


Ann and I decided to sleep in. About 10:45 am, I pulled back the covers and ran to the bathroom to take a quick little bathroom break. As I crawled back into bed, my phone almost immediately began to ring. My new blog friend Valerie was calling to see where I was at. Valerie and our other blog friend Janel were coming to Nashville for the first ever Five Minute Friday retreat.

I gave Val directions to our hotel. Then I quickly jumped out of bed and began getting ready for the day. After about 20-30 minutes, I got another phone call telling me they had arrived. I yelled through the bathroom door to tell Ann I was running downstairs to get them.

I stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the 1st floor. However, God had a sense of humor that morning as the elevator kept climbing….6th, 7th, 8th and so on before it finally began descending to the first floor. I stepped off the elevator, turned right to the end of the short hallway, turned right again and soon my new friends were in my line of sight.

Janel proclaimed, “There she is!” Valerie saw me, ran up to me and embraced me in the hugest hug. After our hug, I ran over to Janel and hugged her. Together the three of us walked to the elevator, stepped inside, and pushed the button for our floor. Once off the elevator, we walked to our room.

Once inside, I introduced my new friends to my sister. We sat on the beds and chatted for awhile. Then we decided it was time to pick a lunch place. After perusing through the Nashville area recommended restaurants, we decided to head to Germantown and the Germantown Cafe.

Our drive to the restaurant was an adventure as we wondered if Siri was giving us the right directions: around one curve, then another, until we finally arrived at the cafe. At the cafe, we checked in and waited for our table. We only waited a few minutes before our server came to seat us. We all looked over the menu. After awhile the waiter came and took our order. Val and I both ordered the same thing: the french onion soup with a fried green tomato sandwich.

As we waited for our meal, we visited. It really was like we have known each other much longer than we have. Soon the waiter came with our meals and we all dug in. It was the most delicious french onion soup that I have had in a long time. The whole top of the soup was covered with ooey gooey cheese that melted in your mouth. The fried green tomato sandwich was yummy too! We all enjoyed our meals.

The waiter came to take our plates away and of course, asked if we wanted some dessert. After a very brief moment of hesitation, we ordered the caramel apple dessert and a yummy chocolate dessert. They seriously were the most decadent desserts. I literally would have ate the whole caramel apple dessert if my friends would have let me.

After our meal, we walked out to Val’s car. A beautiful flowering tree was blossoming in front of us. We stopped to take in the breathe and depth of God’s awesome creation. While we were enjoying the flowers, Val and Janel noticed a baby bird in the branches. We peaked through the branches until we spotted him. He looked so comfortable there…but then he soon decided to fly away.

We all climbed back into Val’s car. Val and Janel dropped Ann and I off at our hotel. We went inside and I called for a Lyft driver to come pick us up. He said he would be there shortly. As we were getting ready to leave, Ann reminded me that I had wanted to change. So like the quick changers from a few seasons ago on America’s Got Talent, I changed as fast as I could.

Our driver arrived. Ann and I got into the car and he drove us to Opryland. Ann and I sat and waited until the time for our tour arrived. Soon the clock struck 3:45 pm and Ann and I walked to the back door where the group of people going on our tour were waiting. The doors opened. We walked inside and sat down. The tour guide played us an introduction video featuring the one and only Blake Shelton.

After the video, our tour began. We stood on the infamous circle where we had our picture taken. As we stood there, I couldn’t help but think of all the stars that had stood in that exact spot as they sang on the Grand Ole Opry. After everyone was done with their pictures, our tour guide took us backstage to see the dressing rooms.

When you first enter into the backstage area, there is a Grand Ole Opry post office. She told us that many of the stars pick up their own mail themselves. She then had us look to the right of the post office where the wall of fame was. Each name on that wall is names of stars who have been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Blake Shelton hung his own plaque and if you look closely, you can see that he hung it

We continued down the hallways where our tour guide showed us all the dressing rooms. They are themed dressing rooms. There is the Stars and Stripes room which has an American flag painted on its wall. There is the Women of Country room. There is the It Takes Two room which is dedicated to the honor of country duos. And many many more rooms as well.

After our tour, Ann and I walked across the street to the Opryland mall where we decided to have supper at an Aquarium restaurant. Ann and I looked over the menu and ordered our meal. As we were waiting, we watched the fish of all shapes and sizes swimming in the tank.

Our meal soon arrived. Ann and I ate our meal and then walked back across the street. We waited for the doors to open. Then we found our seats. They were in the balcony; second row or so right in the center. We waited for the show to begin.

Soon several Congregational Medal of Honor honorees were led to their seats. Throughout the night, these men and women were honored for their service to our country. The show began. Jeannie Seely soon walked onto stage. Then a bluegrass band played for us. After 30 minutes, a short break was had and then the next section began. We heard from Pam Tillis, Mark Wills, Mel Tillis, The Gaither Brothers, Raelyn and so many more.

One of my favorite moments was when RaeLyn was on stage. She sang one of her songs. Then she asked the audience to sing “America the Beautiful” with her. She shared about how her brother serves in the military. It gave me goosebumps. After she finished, Larry Gaitlin stopped her and said, “I love your heart young lady. You could have promoted your own career and played one of your songs, but you didn’t. You chose to celebrate and honor these military men and women.”

The show ended. Ann and I walked outside with the swarm of people. I plugged in my phone as the battery was dying so that I could call for a Lyft driver to come pick us up. We waited on the curb for him to arrive. He finally arrived and drove us back to our hotel.

We got out of the car, thanked him for our ride, and walked into the main lobby of our hotel. We rode the elevator up to our hotel room. Then Ann and I took the time to carefully pack all of our new souvenirs so nothing would get broken on the plane ride home. After everything was carefully packed away, we both crawled into our beds but not before I took one last look at the Fitbit. We had walked 7,416 steps; 3.19 miles; burned 2,304 calories and had been active for 23 minutes.

As we laid our heads down for the night, Ann and I were both sad that our trip was coming to an end. Memories to last a lifetime!



Farming, Juggling and our Limitations

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through the last chapter-Chapter 12:Limit.

As I read through this chapter and listened to the video from Ann and Charity, the image that kept popping up into my mind was a juggler. But the thing is I am not a juggler. I cannot juggle everything. In fact, if I tried to juggle everything, I have no doubt that I would drop several balls.

But that, my friends, I think is the key. We need to learn how to juggle one or two balls at a time. Since I work at a church and preach about every 5-6 weeks, writing is a part of my job. Yes, it is a different kind of writing, but it is writing in one of its many forms. I need to learn how to balance both aspects of my writing life. Perhaps that means that on weeks I am preaching, I write less on the blog.

I am an “outgoing introvert!” (Thanks Katie M. Reid for that definition because it characterizes me perfectly!) I love spending time with my friends and family, but I also love my alone time too. I think it is important for me to learn to place some juggling balls down in order to pick up another one…even if just for a short period of time.

Having grown up as a farmer’s daughter, I understand limits on time. When the harvest is ready and the fields are dry, the crops must be harvested. If there is rain in the forecast and the field is almost finished, then the farmer works until that field is completed even if that means working late into the night. Yet there is only so much a farmer can control, they have limitations on their call.

And as writers, we too have limitations! Charity is spot on when she states: “Sometimes the writing life itself puts limits on us; sometimes we have to limit the rest of our lives in order to be able to write.” Oh how true those words ring for me! Do they ring true for you too?

I need to remember that I can only juggle so much at a time and that that is totally okay.

This book and online discussion using the book “On Being A Writer” by Charity Singleton Craig and Ann Kroeker has been so much fun! It has been a joy to meet other women who are trying to hone their writing skills. I am thankful for each and every person that interacted here and at their blogs as well.

I really can’t pick a favorite chapter, because they all were my favorites. But honestly if I did pick one, it would be the chapter on Engage. There is so much joy in finding “my people” and knowing that I am not on this writing journey alone!

And after these six weeks, I am finding it is easier for me to utter the words “I am a Writer!”

Liebster Award

Good Morning dear readers and friends! This is a fun post to start off our week. My sweet friend Carrie who blogs at Living with Unspeakable Joy nominated me for the Liebster Award. Carrie and I “met” through the Five Minute Friday Snail Mail Party. In fact, we have been on two of the last lists together. According to an Internet search, the Liebster Award is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The word Liebster comes from German origin and has many different meanings: ” dearest, sweetest, kindest, nicest, beloved, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, welcome, sweetheart (and yes even boyfriend. Really?) I don’t know about you but I rather like that list of definitions! 🙂
Now onto my questions…

1. How did you come up with the name of your blog? I have always loved the prairies of North Dakota. Spending time on them is holy time for me. And on the prairies of North Dakota, you cannot help but feel the effects of the wind which always reminds me of the Holy Spirit. I wanted my blog title to say something about who I am as a beloved child of God and where God has called me to be. I also love to pray for others. For the last five years, I have prayed through my Facebook friends list for Lent. So together prayer and my beloved prairies of North Dakota led to creating my blog title: Praying on the Prairie.

2. Have you always been a writer? I actually laughed when I read this question, because I have not always seen or called my self a writer. Yet I have been working my way through Kate Motaung’s book discussion and link-up for the book “On Being A Writer.” I am learning that I am indeed a writer. And if you ask my momma, she would tell you that, when I was little, I was one of those kids who just needed pen and paper and I was a happy camper. So I guess, yes, I have always loved words and have always been a writer! (Did I really just type that? I must really be growing into my identity as a writer!)

3. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? I want my blog to be a space where others will be encouraged. I want it to be a space that shows God’s love, grace, and mercy to the world. In fact, I want God to use me and my words to bless God’s people. I want people to know that there is power in hearing the words “me too.” I want my readers and followers to know that they are not alone.

4. What is your favorite holiday and why? Oh boy…this is a hard one to answer. I love lots of holidays. But my favorite holiday would have to be Maundy Thursday. Now I realize not everyone celebrates this holiday, but it holds a special place in my heart. On that night, Jesus stooped down and washed the feet of his disciples. As a woman called to word and service, called to pick up my own basin and towel, this holiday reminds me of my call in the world and reminds me that I am called to reach out to ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE!

5. Name three words that Jesus would say describes you. Sweet, caring, tender-hearted.

6. Who is the biggest influence in your life? MY MOMMA! My Mom had a nervous breakdown right after my younger sister was born. My mom has never let her illness get in the way of who she is: a beloved child of God. She is one of the most faith-filled woman that I know. She could have easily turned away from God, but instead she just turned closer to him.

7. What are your favorite books? Oh man I have so many so I thought I would share a list:
“Let’s All Be Brave” by Annie F. Downs
“Pastrix” by Nadia Bolz-Weber
“Confessions of a Prairie Bitch” by Allison Arngrim (played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie)
“Love Wins” by Rob Bell
Anything by Wendell Berry
“Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey
“Bread and Wine” by Shauna Niequest”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“1000 Gifts” by Ann Voskamp
(AND MANY MANY MORE!)

8. Where is one place you would like to travel? I have always wanted to travel to Scotland. I thought that would be a really cool place to visit. I haven’t traveled outside of the United States except for Canada. I really would love to go just about anywhere. I have international seminary classmates that I could visit. I have always wanted to go to Germany to see all the Lutheran sights.

9. What are you passionate about? I am passionate about quite a lot. But really I am passionate about reaching out to all God’s people. I am passionate about sharing my family’s journey with a mental illness. I am passionate about showing God’s love to all God’s people especially the downtrodden and outcasts among us.

10. If you could meet anyone, who would it be? Hmmmm…JESUS! 🙂

11. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? “Show them your heart!” When I left my last church to take a new call at my current church, a bunch of them told me to simply “show them my heart.” In showing them my heart, they knew they would love me for who God created them to be. And they were so very right.

I hope you enjoyed the answers to my questions. Here are my 5 nominees:

Christy at Just a Thought…
Valerie at Tales from a Southern Catholic Momma
Tammy at Sincerity and Hope
Sarah at And So I Give Thanks…
Karrilee at Abiding Love, Abounding Grace

Here are your questions my friends:
1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
2. Have you always been a writer?
3. What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
4. What is your favorite holiday and why?
5. Name three words that Jesus would say describes you.
6. Who is the biggest influence in your life?
7. What are your favorite books?
8. What is one place you would like to travel?
9. What are you passionate about?
10. If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
11. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don’t forget to check out these blogs. I am so blessed to call these women my friends! 🙂

A Garden Not A Tumbleweed

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 10: Plan.

Growing up on the prairies of North Dakota, during seasons of drought, I have seen my fair share of tumbleweeds blowing about. I know how easily they can show up in the most unwanted places. As I read Ann’s words about how she viewed her writing as a tumbleweed, I found myself shaking my head along in agreement.

I haven’t much had a plan when it comes to this space. I’ve written when I felt the nudge to write. Yet I want more than that. I want a better plan. I want my writing to reach those that God wants me to reach. I’m reminded of the words to Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans to prosper and not harm you; to give you a future with hope.”

Last October when I participated in my first 31 days challenge, it did change my plan some. I have been more of a planner since than. Even when I haven’t necessarily felt like writing, that is when I have felt the need to write more. In other words, I am nurturing and nourishing my words in this place. Im reminded of Ann’s words when she writes: “My writing life these days is more like the habit of keeping a garden. I sow seeds, watch for growth and fruit, nurture what’s flourishing until it seems the harvest is fading, and a sow a new batch of seeds when the time is right.”

I love that image! I want that hear in this space too. When I was younger, I dreamed of writing my own children’s book. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve wondered about sharing our story of mental illness in a book. It is something I have been praying and thinking about even more lately. I want to continue to share my words; to sow seeds, watch for growth and sow new seeds when the timing is right.

I want my writing to be a garden of fruitfulness rather than a single tumbleweed blowing about like on the prairies of North Dakota.

My People

Joining in with the online discussion on the book “On Being A Writer” by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 9: Engage.


“It’s not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”–EB White

Karrilee, Tammy, Dana, Valerie, Ingrid, Melissa, Susan, and so many more. These are all the names of women that I didn’t even know a year ago. At that time, I only knew them by their blog names. I met them through their blogs as we participated in the Write 31 Days community. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I never could have imagined where that journey would lead me. Each and every one of these people have engaged with my blog. They have left comments. We have Voxed each other. We have watched each other’s Periscopes. We have cried with each other, prayed for each other and so much more!

I cannot even begin to put into words what engaging with other bloggers and writers has done for my soul (but I will try!) Many of you know my story of having a negative experience at a writing group at the local library in my previous town several years ago. It was an experience that hurt my heart and caused me to hold back and be leary of other writers etc. Yet these women and men who I have met this past year have given living water to this parched soul! And for that, my friends, I simply say thank you!

There is so much joy in find my people; finding those who utter the two simple words “Me, too!” Our stories aren’t meant to be held close to our chest, but to be shared with each other. And so, I have learned to share my story by engaging with so many linkups (Many of the ones Kate shared in her blog post on Monday: Holly Barrett, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Holley Gerth, etc).

I invite you to engage with these communities too. I love when the link-up host replies to one of my comments. For me, it shows validation for my words. But more than that, it shows me that someone has read my words, identified with them and engaged with them. It reminds me again and again that I am not on this journey alone.

This summer, I had the opportunity to meet three of my blog friends in real life. I cannot even begin to describe to you what that was like. It was like seeing an old friend again, sitting down with coffee and catching up on life. I am already counting down the years, weeks, hours, minutes and seconds until I meet my next blog friends in real life. I also am excited for my first blogging conference whenever that might be! (It is super expensive to fly just about anywhere from North Dakota!) BUT attending a blogging conference is on my personal bucket list!

Thank you for being here dear friends…and thank you for engaging with me and my words! I so appreciate each and every one of you! You are each a  gift!!!

Staring Back at Me

Little did I know that when I began this blog, that this space would become exactly my mirror staring back at me. In this space, I have written about being a daughter of someone who daily struggles with a mental illness. I have written about the joy I find in playing and spending time with children. I have written about my deepest desires asking “How long, Lord? Oh how long Lord?” I have written about friendships that only God can orchestrate. I have written about who and whose I am!

Last October, when I joined the Write 31 Days challenge, I never would have imagined how healing my series would be for me, but it healed wounds that I didn’t even know where still there. It opened up my world to others who have blessed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. And to be honest, writing our story down was and continues to be one of the bravest things that I have ever done. Because even yet today, our journey of mental illness ebbs and flows. There are days I am proud of who I am, proud of where I have come from, but then there are days, that I wonder why us, why our family.
A year ago, during the Write 31 Days challenge, I penned the words below (in italics) after completing the Write 31 Days challenge. Even looking back at them now, I realize how vulnerable I was. In the words of Ann in this chapter, I never realized how desperately I wanted and needed to share our story. Ann writes: “I desperately wanted to understand myself, unearth who I was meant to become. And deep down, I wanted to write.” Yep, I wanted and needed to write! Yes, there have been times when I was afraid to hit the publish button and there are other pieces of our story that I have held close to my chest. But unearthing our story led me to realize how brave and strong my Mom is, but also how brave and strong I am as her daughter.

An excerpt from Praying on the Prairie originally posted on October 31, 2015:

You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope”–Thomas Merton


“Saying yes to the situations that stretch you and scare you and ask you to be a better you than you think you can be”–Annie Downs; Lets All Be Brave; P. 107

I am reminded of a word “eucharisto.” It is a word that my colleague shared with me a year ago in his sermon on the day I shared with the congregation that I was leaving and had accepted a new call. In that sermon, my colleague talked about listing our blessings and thanking God for all the things God gives us. He later told us that the word in the text for ‘thanksgiving’ is translated ‘Eucharisto.’ As I sat there and listened to his sermon, I found myself reflecting on that word. And today I find myself clinging to that word again.


As I sit here this morning and reflect on the last 31 days, I find myself once again clinging to that word ‘eucharisto.’ This write31 days community has blessed me in more ways than I can count or even imagine! Today I am so very thankful for each and every one of you; for you who shared your stories with me, for you who told me how my story blessed you, and for each of who ventured to participate in this challenge. So today I am uttering these words back to you my dear friends, ‘Eucharisto!’


And as I give thanks for each of you, I am also very thankful for my momma. She has been through so much. Yet she is one of the most beautiful faith-filled women that I know. Our story of mental illness will always be a part of who my mom is and who my family is. I hope that through these 31 days, I have been able to let so many know they are not alone. I also hope that I have been able to share our story, and shatter, at least, some of the stigma associated with mental illness. Thank you for reading my story and walking with us through these 31 days because I am a daughter; a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness. And the truth is I will always be that daughter.


I am and always will be that daughter. This summer was a great summer, but it also was crummy too. While I was in Colorado, Mom ended up in the hospital. The doctor diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection. She was released from the hospital and seemed to be doing well. Only a few days after I returned from Colorado, I got a call saying she had gone to the doctor again. They said it was still the UTI and after time, she would be fine again. Then on our way back from the National Youth Gathering, I got a call from the nursing home yet again. Mom was adamantly asking to move (which made no sense because she loves it there) This was a side of Mom that we had not seen. No answers…and only more and more confusion. While my sister and I were on our sister’s trip, we got a call asking to move her. We were adamant about her not moving, yet there seemed to be no solution. With much hesitation, we gave permission to move her to a new facility. She seems happy there, but still is not the Mom we have known and loved. I only have more and more questions and no answers. My prayer is that soon Mom will return to her old self and will be able to move back closer to me. (Instead of 45 minutes from me, she is now like 4 hours away).

Like our story continues to ebb and flow, I am realizing how healing it is for me to share our story. I sit her with my cup of tea, talking to you like an old friend. And I take comfort in knowing that this old friend knows me and our story. (I also have dear friends that I can do this with in real life too!) And as you listen, I find myself leaning in to tell you more of my story.

In telling my story, I find that it is also important to play. I love holding infants. There is something so holy about holding that little life in my hands. On Monday, I made a pit stop to see a dear friend and her new baby. It was just exactly what the doctor ordered. This weekend, I was able to spend time with my family. I helped my aunt put up veggies from my Grandma’s garden. I sat and broke bread with my dad and sister at the cafe downtown. My sister and I laughed and smiled as we learned how to use our new selfie sticks.

But, the most joy was playing with our brand new farm puppy Kotee. Kotee loved all the attention my sister and I gave him. He was a little wound up by the time our aunt and uncle headed back to the farm. (Sorry P and T!) The best was seeing how much grandma enjoyed Kotee. Recovering from surgery, Kotee brought joy and peace to Grandma. He was the best medicine for her! And seeing that reminded me, reminded all of us of the importance of remembering to play.

As we remember to play, I am reminded of how life too ebbs and flows. It has its ups and its downs. It has its moments of ordinariness and extra-ordinariness.

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.’–LR Knost

Taken Way Too Soon

A life taken way too soon….

I don’t think we will fully understand why….
It will be 15 years this December….
It was a frigidly cold December day in Bismarck, North Dakota. I was gathered at lunch with many of my communication major friends when our friend Amber came walking into the lunch room. I could tell by the look on Amber’s face and in her eyes that she did not hold good news. She walked directly up to me and said, “Have you heard? Chewy is dead.” He committed suicide.
I was in complete shock. How could this young 23 year old man be gone? How could he no longer be a part of our world? What had happened to cause him to commit suicide? I had no answers…only more and more questions.
After lunch, I went to the front desk to work. The minute I arrived at the front desk I pulled upon the newspaper and turned to the obituaries. Amber’s words weren’t going to be real to me until I saw his name in the obituary section of the paper. My fingers fumbled through the paper and finally landed on the obituaries. And sure enough there was Chewy’s face and name staring straight back at me. (Chewy’s Obituary)
Since I was working at the front desk, I held back the tears. I didn’t want other students to see my vulnerability. The minute my shift ended, I ran back to my dorm room. I opened the door, slammed it shut, pulled out my photo album which I opened to a picture of Chewy from the end of the previous school year, and held it in my hands. The tears slowly began to stream down my face and before I knew it, the tears wouldn’t stop and it felt like all of the oxygen in my lungs had been sucked out.
I had gotten to know Chewy through the theater program at the University of Mary. I remember one time in particular when he showed up with bouquets of flowers for all the girls in the play. It was such a sweet gesture that is forever ingrained in my memory. I remember being at a retreat, tears flowing down my cheeks when he simply let me cry on his shoulders. He was the person who gave me the nickname “Smiley”. (For the longest time, I wouldn’t let anyone call me that. It seemed wrong to let anyone else call me that name after he had given it to me!) These memories of Chewy are the memories that I chose to cling too. Yet there was a side of Chewy that I never saw. Chewy struggled with alcohol and other addictions which is ultimately what probably took his life.
Trusting in those promises, we gathered in the college chapel to remember Chewy’s life. The day his funeral was held out of town a nasty North Dakota blizzard blew through the state, so it was good that we were able to gather together as a community to remember this young man. As we mourned this young man’s life, it was life-giving to laugh and cry together. I finally began to feel like I was getting some air back in my lungs.

Today, Chewy and I would be about the same age. I wonder what his life would look like if he was still here on this Earth. I wonder if he would be married, with a family. I wonder so much about what might of been. And then I am reminded of the words to one of my favorite Bible verses: “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords (Romans 14:8).”

My prayer is that by sharing Chewy’s story and the story of so many who daily struggle with addictions, mental health issues, etc that perhaps at least one life will be saved. Will you join me in Suicide Prevention Week this week?

This post is dedicated to my college friend Michael “Chewy” Chewakin. 
May you continue to rest in peace, friend!

I am linking up with some of my favorites: Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Angie and the RaRa Linkup, Holley and Coffee for your Heart, and Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story:


 
 


Giving Thanks For These 31 Days

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”–Thomas Merton

“Say yes to the situations that stretch you and scare you and ask you to be a better you than you think you can be.”–Annie Downs; Lets All Be Brave, P. 107 (These two quotes capture my feelings of how I have felt during these 31 days. I was definetely extremely afraid to share my story but I felt the need to share our story!)

Well here we are…the 31st day of October…meaning it is also Day 31 of the #write31 days challenge. When I dove in and took this journey, I never imagined the ways it would stretch me, would bless me and would introduce me to so many amazing blogs and writers. (Yes, I indeed did call you each a writer because you are!)

There is so much I want to say to each of you. I never thought that by being vulnerable and sharing my story, I would impact so many people. It is amazing to me how this whole process has introduced me to so many amazing friends. I have always commented how sometimes you meet people and it is like you have been friends FOREVER. I feel that way about so many of you! I hope that someday we get the opportunity to meet InRL.

I am reminded of a word “eucharisto.” It is a word that my colleague shared with me a year ago in his sermon on the day I shared with the congregation that I was leaving and had accepted a new call. In that sermon, my colleague talked about listing our blessings and thanking God for all the things God gives us. He later told us that the word in the text for “thanksgiving” is translated “Eucharisto.” As I sat there and listened to his sermon, I found myself reflecting on that word. And today I find myself clinging to that word again.

As I sit here this morning and reflect on the last 31 days, I find myself once again clinging to that word “eucharisto.” This write31 days community has blessed me in more ways than I can count or even imagine! Today I am so very thankful for each and every one of you; for you who shared your stories with me, for you who told me how my story blessed you, and for each of you who ventured to participate in this challenge. So today I am uttering these words back to you my dear friends, “eucharisto!”

And as I give thanks for each of you, I am also very thankful for my momma. She has been through so much. Yet she is one of the most beautiful faith-filled women that I know. Our story of mental illness will always be a part of who my mom is and who my family is. I hope that through these 31 days, I have been able to let so many know they are not alone. I also hope that I have been able to share our story and shatter, at least, some of the stigma associated with mental illness. Thank you for reading my story and walking with us through these 31 days because I am a daughter; a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness. And the truth is I will always be that daughter.

I want to close with a Psalm. This Psalm has become one of my favorite Psalms. I think it captures so well how I feel about our journey with mental illness. I think most specifically of this verse in the New Revised Standard Translation, “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Yes, there have been many tears throughout our journey, but there have also been times of great joy as well.

“I give you all the credit, God–you got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my foes gloat. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down and out. All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to his face! He gets angry once in awhile, but across a lifetime there is only love. The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter. When things were going great I crowed, ‘I’ve got it made. I’m God’s favorite. He made me king of the mountain.’ Then you looked the other way and I fell to pieces. I called out to you, O  God; I laid my care before you: ‘Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead? Auction me off at a cemetary yard sale? When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs and stories of you won’t sell. So listen! And be kind! Help me out of this! You did it! You changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.”–Psalm 30 (The Message Translation)

Who I Am

Today is a busy Sunday so I thought I’d keep it simple today.  I am a huge fan of Christian music. Jason Gray and Francesca Batestilli are two of my all time faves along with Jars of Clay. The first time I heard Jason Gray’s song “Remind Me Who I am”, I felt so many emotions. This song is about remembering who we are and who God has called us to be.  The video is such a beautiful reminder of this promise.

For me, I am called to be a Diaconal Minister, a granddaughter, a niece, a friend, a sister, and a daughter; a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness. This song is a song I crank up the radio and belt out to because it is such a beautiful gift. In fact, in the midst of our brokenness, God says, “You are broken and loved….remember that I; that I will never leave you or forsake you.

And in the midst of this #write31 days challenge, I have found so many great blogs and posts. Today I would like to share just a few. My new friend TM is sharing about her own journey of depression. Her posts are so honest and vulnerable. I think many people will be blessed by her sharing. Check out her blog at Tales from a Southern Catholic Momma! And if you haven’t read this post (Hey Beautiful!) yet, YOU MUST!
 
Have a blessed Sunday my friends!
 
Click Here for all the 31 Day Posts
 
 
 
 


I Think I Can (and Other Musings)

I think I can….
I think I can….
I think I can….

Yep when I started this challenge at the beginning of the month I thought no problem, I should be able to think of something to blog about every day. Little did I realize how crazy this month would be! Packing boxes, finishing up a call, moving, unpacking boxes, starting a new call…and somehow I have found a way to blog about something every day. Yet tonight I feel like the little engine that could—I think I can…I think I can…I think can. Hopefully I can make it the next few days until Sunday December 1st.

Ever since I can remember I have loved to write. My mom said she used to give me a pen and a piece of paper when I was little and I was a happy camper. There is something incredibly holy about sitting and writing for me. Yet taking on this challenge has pushed my limits! I wonder at all if I have anything to say. I watch my blogger tracker so I know that people are reading my blogs. But there is a deep part of me that watches for people to comment on my blog. Something about the comments seems to validate my post which I know isn’t the case at all. And so I still wonder if I have anything to say at all!

It’s kind of like when I preach. I NEVER felt the call to be an ordained minister. I knew that I didn’t want to preach every week. And I have incredible respect for those who do! Over the years at DLC, my colleague and I came to an agreement and I preached once a month. I will be honest…I was scared to death the first time that I preached a sermon. I didn’t think I had ANYTHING to say at all so I put all my trust in the Holy Spirit. If I were to go back and listen to that first sermon, I know that I would cringe. Yet over the course of the six years, I know that I have grown immensely in my preaching due to the power of the Holy Spirit. And I only say that because of the people who have made comments and told me how they were touched by one of my sermons. It definitely hasn’t been about me!  (And I secretly enjoy writing and (sometimes) preaching my sermons. I am still glad that I don’t have to do it weekly!)

For me, writing has always been important. It has helped me share about my family’s struggles with mental illness. It has been my way of praying…when I can’t seem to get the words out and lifted up to God in any other way. Writing has opened a window to my heart and to my soul in so many ways. I may not always post a blog post because it truly is difficult to post a blog post every day. Harder than I ever imagined! Yet this blog is a way for me to put my thoughts out there, to share a piece of me with you my readers, without holding back who I am and/or what I have to say.

I know I can…
I know I can…
I know I can…