Thursday, July 30, 2015

Always Try (A Five Minute Friday Post)

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Try." Write for five minutes; unedited.

I have always been a try...er!

When I got my first bike, I didn't even use training wheels. It was my fifth birthday and I had a bunch of friends over at my house. My friends encouraged me to get on the bike and so I did. They all found their way around the bike, held on and then gave me a push. Next thing they knew I was pedaling down the street...not a training wheel in sight.

As I got older, my dad thought it would be a good idea for me to learn how to drive a stick shift and then later, a tractor. I remember many times my sister in the backseat being a "backseat driver." But I did try and finally succeeded at driving both a stick shift and a tractor. Even though one time I turned the wheel rake a little too short and took out a fence. OOPS!

A few weeks ago, my colleague and I took some kids to our local Bible camp for a day on their high ropes course. Many of the youth gave it a good ol' try. And because they tried...I also gave it a try. I didn't make it up the first element, but made it up the second element and ziplined down. Then a few weeks later, on our way to the national youth gathering, we also participated at a camp and had to rock climb. The two boys told me we weren't leaving the facility until I got to the very top.* I tried my very best  to get to the top. My youth kept telling me to listen to my own words as I was encouraging them. But sadly I never made it to the top.


I try every day to be the best me that I can be...to be completely and utterly who God created me to be. Some days that is easier said than done. But the truth is that God gives each of us the strength to always try and know that he is with us in our trying. Because in the words of a Tweet from my FMF friend Tammy, "An attempt is always applauded."

Oh how true, my friends, an attempt is always applauded. I think of my Special Olympics friends who always TRY their very best. And are delighted to even get a participation ribbon. I think of my own momma who has taught me so much about life and living because she tries every day to not let her illness get in the way of who she is. I think of little ones as they try to say their first words or take their first steps.

So my friends, give it a try...whatever it might be!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bottled Tears

I stood on a bus last week, my cell phone pressed up to my ear. I listened intently to the woman on the other end of the line. And then she handed the phone off to my mom. Mom came onto the phone and was adamant about moving to a new nursing facility. Even though she has been struggling some with her health this summer, this came completely out of left field. I finished the conversation with my mom and hung up the phone. The minute I hung up the phone, tears began welling up in my eyes. I turned away because I was on a bus filled with my youth as well as several other youth and adult leaders as we were returning from the ELCA National Youth Gathering. Immediately my youth and several of the other adult leaders whispered the words "Are you okay?" to me.

A moment of peer vulnerability! I didn't expect the tears to flow, but they did.

As a child, I was a very emotional child. I cried often. In fact, I have even been known to cry at Hallmark commercials. As I have grown up, those tears often have found their way into my eyes yet again. Those holy tears are a part of me that I wish didn't come so easily. Yet I can count the numerous times that my eyes have filled with tears. More times than I care to even admit. And so often, those tears appear at the most inopportune times.

Yet those tears are so much a part of who I am. They are like the waters of Baptism that continually flow over me and cleanse me. Those waters also always call and claim me as one of God's children. God has gifted me with this gift of holy tears. Yet so often I want to force the tears back down. I want to hold them back and not share that part of me. I don't want to break open that piece of who God has called me to be!

But what I have come to realize is is that God has gifted me with this gift, because in sharing this gift with others, we realize we aren't alone. Some of the holiest times in my life are times when I have sat and shared tears with those that are near and dear to me....and also with those that have been complete strangers. In those moments, I am reminded of one of the shortest verses in the Bible "Jesus wept." Jesus wasn't afraid to weep. Jesus wasn't afraid to shed his own tears. And Jesus keeps track of all of our tears as well. In Psalm 56 verse eight, we read "You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle (ESV)."

Jesus has kept every one of the tears I have wept and put them in his bottle. It is so easy to think that God doesn't see our tears. But the truth is that God sees every one of our tears. God wants us to know that we are not alone. God wants us to open up to those moments of vulnerability and like a waterfall cascading down, God wants us to release our tears and let them shower God with our tears.

Last week on that bus and many other times throughout my life, it has felt like my tears are paralyzing and drowning me. Yet God wants me; wants all of us to know that our tears are a gift from him to us. God collects every tear we shed and places them in the bottle of grace, forgiveness, hope and love. So the next time you feel those tears welling up in your eyes, simply let them come, knowing that God collects them and accepts them from us in all of our grief and brokenness.


I am linking up with Holly for Testimony Tuesday, Katie and Kelly for the RaRa Linkup, Holley for Coffee for Your Heart, and Jennifer for Tell His Story:

 

 










Monday, July 27, 2015

Justice for All

I am participating in this month's synchroblog (a blog where numerous bloggers blog on the same topic) which can be found at http://synchroblog.wordpress.com. This month's synchroblog topic is "Gay Marriage." I respectfully post knowing that we all are not going to agree, but this is how I feel and is not necessarily the views of my place of employment.

I just returned from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) National Youth Gathering which was held in Detroit, Michigan. 30,000 Youth and adults converged on the city of Detroit as we heard their stories and served their community. We also heard wonderful speakers that helped us learn what it means to proclaim justice, build bridges and offer hope to all of God's people.

The seven youth along with all of the youth gathered continually gave me hope for the future. They want to make a difference. They want to show God's love to all of God's people. They want to proclaim justice. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, justice is defined as "the quality of being just, impartial, or fair."
So, my friends, what is fair? To them, fair is showing equality to all of God's people even those that our different than us.

As I look at our society, I cannot help but think about how we all could use a lesson in marriage and relationships. Statistics show that the divorce rate is high. And many members of society are getting married way to young. Yet so many think it is wrong for two men or two women to get married. If these two can provide a stable home and show love to a child, do they too not deserve the same rights as a married heterosexual couple? I have a friend who is in a committed same sex relationship and has a son with her spouse. All I have ever seen is them show love to their child.

I realize that we all come down on both sides of this issue. Yet, my friends, Jesus was the one who was continually showing love to all of God's people. Jesus was never afraid to turn the world upside down and sit and break bread with tax collectors and sinners. In a post I wrote in May of 2013 here after Minnesota passed the Freedom to marry act, I shared these words: "I don't know what Jesus will say when we all get to heaven, but what I do know is Jesus always chose love. Jesus was always the one crossing the line onto the other side. Yet I know there are people hurting tonight because of this decision...people who don't understand. I keep coming back to Jesus' words that night in the upper room...'that they all may be one.' Jesus spoke these words to his disciples that last night in the upper room even though they were far from being one themselves." (To read that post, click here: That They All May Be One)

The truth is that we are not always going to agree with each other. Yet Jesus calls us to cling to the promise that we all may be one...trusting in this One who calls us to put our differences aside and calls us to proclaim justice to all of God's people. In all actuality, I find myself clinging to the promises of our youth who are continually ready and willing to rise up together, to proclaim justice, offer hope and build bridges with all of God's people.

 Their actions remind me that the church is not dead, but rather is a living breathing church that is ready to shower the world with God's love putting aside their differences and fighting for what is right. They are always ready to proclaim justice and build bridges with God's people despite their differences. Thanks be to God for a generation that isn't afraid to stand together and live out the words that Jesus said in the upper room that night "that we all may be one." And as one community in Christ, we are called to "Rise up together."


Read other synchrobloggers here: (You will find varying opinions on this topic. Be kind!)

* Justin Steckbauer: Gay Marriage, LGBTQ Issues, and the Christian Worldview
* Leah Sophia: Marriage Equality Again
* Tony Ijeh: Thoughts on Gay Marriage
* Tim Nichols: Imago Dei: Loving the Different
* Carlos Shelton: About Gay Marriage
Wesley Rostoll: Some Things to Consider Regarding Gay Marriage
* KW Leslie: Same Sex Marriage

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Blessings 90

(1) ELCA Youth Gathering!!!!!

(2) Rest

(3) Working the church Fairstand.

(4) ND State Fair Fun with my sister!

(5) Keith Urban concert! One of the best concerts I've ever been too!!!

(6) ELCA Youth Gathering!!!!

(7) Chatting with a couple at the Fairstand and them telling me that I must be a good youth worker.

(8) Sea Lion show

(9) A surprise piece of mail.

(10) Talking to our Daddy on the phone.

(11) So many little ladies excited to see me at church today.

(12) Birthday cake for a 90 year old member at church.

(13) Lots of questions about the youth gathering. Can't wait for us to share at church.

(14) Children's sermon. I missed those kiddos!!!

(15) A sweet Baptism at church

(16) ELCA Youth Gathering!!!!!

(17) Many compliments on the dress I wore to church today.

(18) Lunch at Applebee's with my sissy.

(19) A message from our auntie saying she bought us both selfie sticks for our phones.

(20) A PLN

(21) A church member telling me that I remind him so much of their granddaughter.

(22) FaceTiming with one of my fave people; MW!!

(23) Getting caught up on all my DVRed shows.

(24) Going for a walk with me dear Diaconal friend AD.

(25) Youth Gathering!!!
Youth Gathering!!!!
Youth Gathering!!!!!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ten Plus.....

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Ten." Write for five minutes; unedited.

On July 12, I began a trek with seven youth and another adult for the ELCA National Youth Gathering. We traveled with 138 other youth and adults on three buses. Our trip was a full ten day trip from beginning to end, but the main purpose for our trip was the National Youth Gathering which is held every three years.

This year's gathering was held in Detroit Michigan. The last two gatherings were held in New Orleans as we helped residents pick up and clean up from Hurricane Katrina. 30,000 youth and adults (yep way more than ten) gathered every night in Ford Field to worship with the entire body of Christ gathered there in that place. We also listened to amazing awesome speakers who talked about social justice, racism, and making a difference in our communities. Together we learned what it means to Rise Up together; to rise up and spread God's love throughout the world and especially to the city of Detroit as we were gathered there.

Each day 10,000 youth and adults went out to engage in service projects. There were two launch groups; one at 8:15 am and another one at 10:15 am. We were in the second launch group on Saturday. Our group went to work for an organization called O'Hair Park Community Association (Learn more here: O'Hair Park) We helped them trim branches along a service road.* It was a hot humid day, but the youth never complained. They were kind, courteous, and listened intently to the stories of the Detroiters who were gathered there with us. And they worked HARD!

Every night we worshiped together and heard from wonderful speakers who reminded us of the power of "where two or three are gathered in his name." The youth came out each night full of vigor and power and ready to conquer the world. They came away knowing that they can make a difference. They learned what it means to proclaim justice, build bridges, and offer hope. They raised over 400,000 for ELCA World Hunger and the Walk for Water. We are waiting on numbers for how many heads of hair were donated and how many pints of blood were donated.

These youth give me hope for the future. In a world that continually often thinks that our church is dying, I don't see that at all. I see a church that is full of life; that isn't afraid to get their hands dirty and fight for what is right. I see a church that understands that all of our stories matter. I see a church that is all about action and not just words. I see a church that is ready to Rise Up together.

And in light of today's prompt I had to share this Top Ten List that a woman (Kathy Schaeffer) shared on an ELCA Youth Ministry Network FB page today. It is so much fun and captures the gathering so well. Enjoy my friends! 10--Want to walk everywhere; 9-Keep asking people, "Where are you from?"; 8-Have uncontrollable smiling; 7-Shout out "Jesus is" until you finally say, "Good News"; 6-Unfazed by rain! Just pull out a rain slicker and say, "Let's go!"; 5-Keep clipping "God Loves You" clothespins on people!; 4-Helping people everywhere! (Called the local food bank, Habitat for Humanity and Literacy council all in one day!); 3-Want family members to wear the same colored t-shirts!; 2-Try and high 5 everyone they pass by!; 1-Talk about going to church early this week in order to get a seat "on the floor" and up front.)




*This is where my five minutes ended.




Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Blessings 89

(1) FLC Fun Day--High Ropes Course and Play on the water.

(2) At least trying to climb even though I didn't make it to far! And then getting to the top and zip lining!!

(3) Hugs from FLC kids at camp. So fun to see them and see how much fun they are having!!

(4) Compliments on my highlights

(5) Coffee with one of my besties CT. An hour and a half later....

(6) Supper with my dear friend KG and her kiddos.

(7) Compliments on my new dress!

(8) A sweet card and gift from a parishioner. So very kind of her!

(9) A stranger at Target complimenting me on my green sundress and my green purse.

(10) A Coke Icee. So yummy on a very high 80 degree day.

(11) The new Starbucks Strawberry refresher.

(12) FMF Party. I've missed these people!!!

(13) A call from my momma. Hearing for myself how she is doing. Think she is on the upswing.

(14) Sending Blessing

(15) Mowing my lawn in the morning before it got 90 degrees

(16) My friend PB coming out to W Acres to see me. Love!!

(17) Air conditioning on our bus

(18) A cool breeze on a very humid night.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

Our Hope

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Hope." Write for five minutes; unedited.



"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."--Desmond Tutu

I have been replaying these words in my mind ever since I heard them especially as I look at the events in Charleston, racism, etc. It is extremely difficult to find the light in the midst of these situations.

And then I look at the world around me. I see hope in plants growing up in the soil. I see hope emerging from the children around me. "For a little child shall lead them." I see hope as 30,000 youth and adults get ready to emerge on the city of Detroit for the ELCA National Youth Gathering. But even though I see this hope, sometimes (ok more often than I or any of us care to admit), it is almost impossible to spot.

Where is hope in the midst of the world's events?

Where is the hope as we watch so many struggle with a mental illness, with cancer, with.....?

Where is hope when ISIS continues to steal away so much from so many?

Where is hope?

The truth, my friends, is that hope can be found in our Lord and Savior. Our hope comes in the form of a son who died on a cross for our sins. Our hope comes in the form of this holy one who isn't afraid to turn the world upside down and sit and break bread with tax collectors and sinners. Our hope comes in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I am reminded of what has become one of my favorite verses from the book of Psalms; "Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5)

In these beautiful words, I see HOPE; a hope that only can be given to us by our dear savior.