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)

The Value of Tears



This picture was shared on Facebook today and oh how true these words are! I am keeping it simple today since I am traveling home from a gathering with dear Diaconal brothers and sisters.

Tears are so telling of my story! I think they are telling of many of our stories because they say a lot about our identity. They express the grief we experience through our deep dark places.

I’ve always been a crier. In fact to this day I am still a crier. And many times those tears; that grief–the grief I experience because of our journey of mental illness often surprises me. It comes at unexpected times and in unexpected places. Yet it is at those times I have been most aware of the connection between my story and my tears. There is indeed value in our tears because our tears tell a lot about who we are.



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
 
 
 
 


A Whole New Perspective

This verse is a verse that I often turn to when someone passes away….especially when the death is unexpected. I turned to it when my friend Renee lost her husband Ben in the Haiti earthquake. I turned to it when people I love have left this earth. I even turned to it when Mom was laying in the intensive care unit my senior year of college.

In the last month, a dear seminary classmate and friend received the word that she has cancer. The cancer is progressing fast. Hospice has been called in and honestly, she is in the final days of her life. So very hard to utter those words or even type them on a screen especially when I spent time with Karen and her BFF Barb this summer at the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. Karen’s daughters have been keeping everyone updated on their Caring Bridge website which is a beautiful reflection of their relationship with their Mom.

This morning’s post brought tears to my eyes as I read about Karen’s daughter Kris taking care of her. Kris mentioned how everything is coming full circle. As a baby, Karen cared for her infant daughter Kris and now Kris is caring for her Mom in the same way; bathing her, feeding her, etc. Life has a funny way of turning full circle on us, doesn’t it…life and death, life and death, life and death!

Kris’s words shed light on what it means to care for those we love; for life to come full circle and to grieve when we need to grieve.As a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness, at times, I have found myself having a hard time holding onto the “rollercoaster” of life. The rollercoaster doesn’t give us any warnings and let us know when it is going up or coming down! It is very scary to hold on, be vulnerable and share our story with those near and dear to us. Yet sometimes that is exactly what we need to do….hold on for the ride as unpredictable as it can be.

Today I am thankful for Karen and her family; what she has taught them and what she continues to teach them; and for the love she has shown them and continues to show them. I am thankful for Karen’s friendship and all those who have been blessed by her friendship.  I am simply thankful for Karen…yet my heart is sad too!

And as I read and listen to Karen’s daughters words, I am reminding myself to continually show love to all those who are near and dear to me; especially my momma. In the midst of Mom’s illness, I will care for Mom in the ways she needs me to care for her even when I am tired and weary. I will sit on her bed when she needs me to and hold her hand. Because she cared for me…there are times when I will need to care for her as well!

The beauty is that God is with us in the midst of life and death especially when it is so very hard for us to cling to the promises God bestows upon each of us. As Karen lives her final weeks, days or hours of life, I can’t help but be reminded of the promise of the Resurrection. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes about Easter from Charles W. Hall “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete.”-Philippians 2:1-2

“Chocolat, Chocolate and My Circle of Friends”

We sat on the floor of the seminary tv room having just finished our very first day of classes. During class, we watched a clip from the movie “Chocolat” and decided that we wanted to watch the movie that evening so here we were gathered watching the movie, the smell of chocolate cake permeating the room as it sat on the table behind the couch. Sadly I had bought my own birthday cake because it was my birthday and I wanted to make new friends. I think part of me thought I could bribe them with chocolate! 🙂 (These souls who became my dear friends later apologized saying they should have never let me buy my own cake).

Moments after the movie ended, we were ready to cut into that cake, but instead someone uttered the words “Show me how a pig eats” (or something along those lines). I remember a couple of us dove right into that chocolate cake with our hands and shoveled it into our mouths. I remember hearing the giggling and laughter circulating throughout the room. It is one of my most favorite memories from my seminary life. Little did I realize how important these individuals who let me buy my own birthday cake would later become such dear friends in my life.

These individuals were the ones who sat with me and prayed as my sister and I made the decision to become our mom’s legal guardian. These individuals are the ones who I sat and poured my heart out to during late night Perkins runs. These individuals were the ones who cheered me on when I struggled with systematic theology. I watched as two of these individuals lives became one as husband and wife and then later welcomed their dear daughter. I watched as several of them were ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament. These friendships are friendships that I treasure each and every day even though the miles seperate us.

When I graduated seminary, one of our classmates made a video of our time at seminary and the music they used was “Circle of Friends” by the Christian group Point of Grace. Every time I hear that song now I am reminded of what friendship on purpose; friendship grounded in God’s love for each other looks like. I was blessed by those friendships at SuperAwesomeBibleCamp. I was blessed by those friendships at seminary. I was blessed by those friendships at my previous call and in my previous community.

One of the hardest things about having to say goodbye is having to leave those relationships behind.
I feared coming to a new community and having to make friends. As I prayed about this new opportunity, I will admit that I had flashbacks to elementary school. I remember standing alone on the playground as a little girl waiting to make new friends. But somehow in the mist of my fear at starting this new journey, God has blessed me with some incredible friendships over the last six months. I have sat with my friend CT and poured out my heart to her. I have sat and broke break at her dining room table with her and her daughters and our friend KW. I have sat with my friends EG and KG over a glass of wine. In these friendships, I have realized that I am surrounded by an incredible circle of friends from many different times and places that will always be there for me.

I miss those friends that I have left behind and I have tried my very best to stay in touch with each of them. There are days I wish I was a better friend and could keep in touch with them. There are days that I want to pick up the phone and hear their voices but yet I haven’t been able to do that. I know that in time our paths will cross again.

My life is fuller and sweeter because of those friendships grounded in God’s love for each of us. I am incredibly blessed with an amazing splendid “circle of friends.” May we all know that deep friendship where we can share our heart and soul without fear and know that we will always be welcomed at the table for who we are!

Won’t you join me at my table?

                                                    Some old school “Point of Grace”

I am linking up at (In)Couragers today! http://www.incourage.me/2014/06/on-purpose.html

Knotted, Broken, and Twisted Threads

“An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break.” This quote was making its rounds on FB this past week and I have been thinking a lot about how true this is. I also would add that sometimes that thread, not only, gets stretched or tangled but it also gets knotted too.

I have been incredibly blessed throughout my life to meet wonderful amazing friends. I have met those friends in my home town. I have met those friends during seminary. I have met those friends in college. I have met those friends in various places but the time, place, and circumstance really aren’t important. What is important is that these people have blessed my life in ways I never imagined. And yes, there have been times when our relationships have been tangled, broken, and even knotted.

I am reminded of a time in seminary when I opened up to a dear friend about a crush I had on him. I know that our friendship was knotted and tangled after that but over time that thread has straightened out. I’ll admit that there were times I wish I hadn’t said a word. And of actions as of a late, I am feeling the same way. Another thread that is knotted, tangled and stretched.

But not only has that thread been stretched with my friends, it also has been stretched with all of the relationships in my life. Like when my parents divorced, that thread was stretched. When I went to seminary, that thread was knotted and tangled. That invisible thread bends, twists, and knots its way through all of our relationships and then quietly and slowly straightens itself back out again.

I think of all of my friends who love to crochet or create with needle and thread. I think of the way the needle and thread create beautiful works of arts. Sometimes they have had to begin again and start over. Other times they have had to try and fix there mistakes. In many ways, this invisible thread that connects all of our relationships creates something beautiful even after we have made mistakes. I am thankful for that invisible thread that has helped me to grow, that has helped me to find clarity in my life, but most especially that has connected to me to some pretty incredible people in my life. May we continue to be blessed by those relationships even when our threads have continually been stretched, twisted, and knotted BUT have never been broken! Thanks be to God!

Finding Meaning

Some days/some weeks/some years it seems like all I am posting about…is the things that I yearn so deeply for…to find my Mr. Right, to have a family, etc. This past week I have found that I haven’t been thinking so much about those things since I am trying to get settled in my new home. Yet when I see a baby being baptized in worship, when I hear a child’s laughter, when I see a sweet older couple, I still find that my view is not obstructed and I still want those things. And like I have said before, I know that this will happen in God’s timing and not my own, yet that is so much easier said than done.

Yes, I could adopt or do foster care but that isn’t easy either. I find myself continually praying for God to show me what God has in store for me and my life. There are days that I can simply go on living my life and yet there are days that I wish/hope/pray for God to make it happen sooner rather than later. Those are totally the times that I want God to give me road signs, traffic signs, etc. Will this happen for me?

I have a dear friend in my life who I have been so blessed to have in my life. Yet he is going through a difficult time himself so I am simply being a good friend. Yet there are times when I wonder what God has in store for us too. I sat down and wrote a letter to this individual because I needed to get my feelings written down on paper (I haven’t shared it and don’t know if I ever will!). This person is someone I can talk so openly and honestly with. This person is someone who makes me smile and who I enjoy spending time. This person is definetely a blessing in my life. Yet following the call of the Holy Spirit, I wonder what that means for us…for our friendship…etc. There are times that I continually question and wonder why God placed this person in my life at the right time and right place.

I am not sure what this all means. What I do know that I simply need to trust in God. I need to trust that God will answer all the prayers that are being lifted up on my behalf (So many told me that they were praying for these things for me as I left my last call!). I need to trust that God has a plan for my life and that everything will fall into place as it is meant to be.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…plans to prosper and not to harm you, to give you a future with hope.”

Road Maps and Traffic Signs

If you are a faithful reader to this blog, you know that I have commiserated often about how my life isn’t where I would like it to be. At 35 years old, I am so ready to find my Mr. Right and settle down with a family. For the most part, my heart is content, yet I yearn so deeply for these things; yearn sooooo sooooo soooo DEEPLY!

Throughout my life, I have had some awesome amazing guy friends. There is my friend who is the “adopted baby brother I always wanted.” We could talk to each other about anything and everything. Then he found his dear wife who is awesome and we have kind of lost touch. Our lives are just at different points.

Several summers ago, God brought this amazing guy into my life. I deeply treasure our friendship and our conversations. He is going through a difficult time in his life and so I am doing my best to be a good friend; to support him in the midst of this trial. There is so much I would like to say to him, but I also know he is grieving in the midst of this difficult time in his life. So I have simply held back and just been a friend; a friend who listens whenever she can. I often find my mind playing mind games and wondering why God brought us into each other’s lives. I know that this is not the time or place to even think this since he is going through this difficult time. However that is often easier said than done.

Yet my heart and my head don’t and can’t understand. Why hasn’t it happened for me YET? What if I tell someone how I truly feel? What if I don’t say a word? Will I always wonder what “might have been?” What does that mean for tomorrow, for the next year, for the next 5 years, for the next 10 years? I simply wish God would give me a road map or traffic signs to when or even if these dreams will ever happen for me.

And then sometimes God doesn’t send a road map or a traffic sign, but rather a dream. And then I find myself trying to interpret what this dream means in my life. Is the dream a way of God and the Holy Spirit trying to give me that road map or traffic sign that I have been wanting and needing? I find myself praying for God to reveal to me what needs to be revealed. Yet it is hard to wait patiently and trust in God’s timing and not my own. That is the beauty of God in our lives….God always walks with us and is with us especially when we least  feel like God is there.

So for now…I will just wait…and pray for those road maps and traffic signs to come into my life….sooner rather than later!

Incredibly Blessed

It’s so simple….yet absolutely incredibly beautiful! I have been blessed beyond words with the greatest family and friends. It never ceases to amaze me how BLESSED I am! You each sure know how to make a girl feel loved!

So many have been brought into my life at just the right time and place. That Holy Spirit sure knows when to plop friends into my life when I least expect it. (I’m sure you can think of times like that too!)

I’m reminded of my friend Anna and her blog. She sees her blog as a place where she can talk over her white picket fence to her friends. And she’s so right! I can tell you just about anything and I love that about each of you! I often feel like I’m peering over the white picket fence talking to my dear friends too!

Thank You for your friendships! I honestly don’t know what I did to receive such an incredible list of friends! But I’m glad you all have been brought into my life.

Are you ever amazed at how lucky you’ve been too? Do you feel incredibly blessed too? I hope so!!

ABCs of Me

Thanks
to my friend Sarah from  http://www.everydayholy.blogspot.com>Every Day Holy
for
tagging me in the ABC’s of Me, a popular blogging Q&A that’s going around
right now.

A. Attached or single? Very single….still waiting for God to bring my Mr. Right into my life

B. Best Friend? I am blessed to have a few…my friend Joni, my friend Jenny, and a few others!

C. Cake or Pie? I can eat both but I would choose cake first!

D. Day of the Week? Friday – It’s my day off of work!!

E. Essential
Item?
Camera – I LOVE taking pictures. (Im with my friend Sarah on this one!)

F. Favorite Color? Green (Just ask any of my friends who have ever gone shopping with me. I always gravitate to green!)

G. Gummy Bears or Gummy
Worms?
Bears–Cinnamon

H. Hometown? Ashley, North Dakota!

I. Favorite Indulgence? Ice Cream – any and
all. I also have been a frozen yogurt kick lately too!

J. January or July? Both!

K.
Kids?
No kids but I dream of having children one day

L. Life isn’t complete without? My family and friends

M.
Marriage Date?
Still single…so no wedding date

N. Number of brothers/sisters. 1 sister who is three years younger than me

O. Oranges or
apples?
Oranges

P. Phobias? Bats!

Q.
Favorite quote?
“The place God calls you to be is the place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.”—Frederick Buechner

R. Reason to smile? Being with friends and family, warm summer days, babys, laughter, my Diaconal ministry brothers and sisters, fresh garden produce, and so much more!

S. Season of Choice? Christmas and Lent

T. Tag 3
People:

              1. http://www.marklepper.blogspot.com>Mark at Every Day an Adventure
              2. http://www.julsvern.blogspot.com>Julia at Juls of Life,Spirit, and Sparkle
              3. http://www.desertspiritsfire.com>Leah at Desert Spirit’s Fire

U. Unknown fact about me? I’m a published poet.

V. Favorite
vegetable?
Corn on the cob and sugar snap pears

W.
Worst habit? 
Hmmm…I dont know

X. X-Ray or Ultrasound? Ultrasound

Y. Your favorite food? Mexican

Z. Zodiac Sign? Virgo