Thursday, July 02, 2015

Dr. Pepper, the Color Green and The Glorious Rocky Mountains!

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 "Favorite." Write for five minutes; unedited.

I have so many favorites. I LOVE the color green. Just ask my friend Gretchen! :P My favorite soda is usually Dr. Pepper. But, my friends and family, you all are my favorites too. But one of my all time favorites is the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

I spent the last ten days in the glorious Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The event is a continuing education event that is held every summer for ten days. I can't even begin to tell you how wonderful this event is. And how it has become one of my favorite things in the world!

First of all, it is held in the midst of some of the most amazing of God's creation. I can't help but just take it all in. (Oh my friends I have so many wonderful photos to show all of you!) Secondly, the speakers are always great. But most of all, my favorite is gathering around the campfire each night getting to know new colleagues etc.

It has become one of my all time favorite places because of the scenery, because of the dear people I have met there. It is also my favorite because I truly am able to experience Sabbath there. It is a place where God reminds me constantly to "Be still and know that I am God."

My friends, you are my favorites too!!! And I have missed you!!!

God sure knows how to show off, doesn't he?! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Blessings 87

(1) My friend's son pulling my name out of a hat for a drawing.

(2) Trying my first recipe from Bread and Wine; Blueberry Crisp. Very yummy!!

(3) Staff liked the Blueberry Crisp.

(4) Family SS picnic. It was a cold night but it was so fun. Love those families!

(5) Hanging out with Mr. E while his mom and dad worked on building boxes for our community garden.

(6) S'more Summer Worship

(7) I love smelling like campfire and roasting marshmallows.

(8) Learning that a friend was a surrogate for another friend of ours. What an incredibly selfless act!

(9) Hearing my colleague's son say, "That's Tara" when I came.

(10) Planting some veggies in our church's community garden. So excited for fresh tomatoes etc.

(11) New haircut, color and facial wax. All thanks to a very anonymous generous gifter.

(12) Hearing Mr. E say hello to me. "Hi Tawa" (I love how it sounds with his sweet two year old voice)
(13) PB and I getting to participate in a Baptism with two little boys. So sweet!!

(14) Great day of driving; 10 hours down; about two to go.

(15) A nice Quality Inn to rest my head for the night.

It's a short list this week, but I know the next list will be long! I wanted to share the song "Sons and Daughters" by Matt Mahrer but he doesn't have a video of it and I can't find a link so if you own the cd check it out or go to your local christian store and listen to it. It is how I think many of us are feeling after the tragedy in Charleston this past week. Love you all!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear!

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 "Fear." Write for five minutes; unedited.

"Lord have mercy"

Those are the only words I can seem to muster up as I heard about the shooting at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston last night. What has our world come to? Can we not feel safe in our own places of worship? Can we send our children to school without the fear that a shooter might come into their building? Can we not take the lessons we learned in Sunday School and share God's love with ALL of God's people?

When I hear these stories of violence in the world, I  immediately feel fear. Because so often the media blames the violence on a person who is living with a mental illness. That maybe true...but not everyone who lives with a mental illness will resort to this violence. In fact, most of them will not resort to violence because they have gotten the proper treatment. Yet so many  individuals are filled with fear because they do not understand. They do not understand that there is treatment. But more importantly, they haven't asked the questions or learned about this very treatable illness. 

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am a daughter of someone who lives daily with a mental illness. She has taught me more about life and faith than I could ever imagine. She would literally give the shirt off of her back. She is a beautiful child of God who understands what it means to cast out fear. 

"Perfect love casts out fear!" 

And I truly believe that perfect love casts out fear! * God sent Jesus into the world for our sins. Jesus was never afraid to sit with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus was always breaking bread with the outcasts and the downtrodden. Jesus was a world changer and boundary crosser! Jesus hung on a cross and uttered the words "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." 

Again "perfect love casts out fear!"

What if we followed Jesus' examples? What if we stopped and truly listened to each other's stories? Wouldn't we see that when we love each other, fear is tossed to the wayside and joy and happiness boil to the top? Doesn't God call us to show love to each other; to show love from all ends of the globe to the next?

"There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18) 

For perfect love casts out and conquers fear!

Last week, I wrote about Godly fear vs worldly fear. If you didn't get a chance to read that post, here is the link:

*This is where my five minutes ended. I told them at the Twitter Party that this would be one of those word prompts that would easily go beyond the five minute limit. Sometimes you just have to keep writing!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blessed To Be A Blessing

I have always loved the story of Abraham and Sarah. Just last night, I found myself reading through the Bible...and I was plopped right down into the story of Lot and Abram. God promised Abram descendants; as many as the stars in the sky. God also promised that Abram would be "blessed to be a blessing."

Now most of us know the story, Abram and Sarai were blessed with a child. But first not in the way, any of us would expect. Sarah had her servant Hagar submit to Abram. She bore a child. That child was named Ishmael. Abram was eight six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

But then God came and promised Abraham that Sarah would bear him a son. At his old age, Abraham laughed at God's words to him. Sarah would be quite old when she became pregnant. Can you even imagine? I don't think I could.but then again, God has the power to do ANYTHING! God provided for them. God gave them exactly what God promised them that God would do.

Abraham was faithful to God. He always trusted that God's words would come true. Are we faithful like Abraham? Or do we react more like he first did when he heard the news that Sarah would bear him a child? I think more often than we care to admit we laugh like Abraham did. Or we let fear creep in and forget to trust in God and God's promises for us.

I have been reflecting a lot on how Sarah and Abraham both trusted God. They laughed at first, but then they fulfilled the tasks that God asked them to do. I don't know about you but I find myself wanting to be more like Abraham...and Sarah.

There are days that I still wonder whether God hears my prayers. But the truth is that I know that God hears them. Yet I still have a hard time trusting in that when the desires of my heart have not yet been met. And in those moments, I really am reminded of Sarah and Abraham.

To be honest, I often see myself in Sarah. I see how she yearned to be a mom and give her husband a child. I too yearn to be a mom and a wife. I see how she trusted in Abraham. I see how she continually and most importantly, trusted in God. I want to trust in God like Sarah and Abraham trusted in God! I may be nearing my 40's, but that doesn't mean God won't still show up for me. God showed up to Sarah when she was much older than I am!

Through it all, Abraham and Sarah counted their blessings and shared those blessings. God calls us to take inventory of our blessings as well. God opens our eyes to see the blessings all around us. As I have finished 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and continued to keep my Sunday Blessings post here on my blog, I have become even more aware of how incredibly blessed I am! Listing my blessings has changed my attitude. Especially knowing that truth, God calls me; calls all of us to follow Sarah and Abraham's lead to go out into the world to be "blessed to be a blessing."

Addendum: Tonight I came back from our S'more Summer worship and was scrolling through my Facebook feed. I saw the most amazing thing. My friend E and her hubby lost a child last September. Little did I know that our friend B was a surrogate for them and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. It is amazing to me how they have been able to keep it a secret on social media etc. My friend B's actions are so amazing. She is an incredible woman and she said she would do it all over for them. I am so very thankful tonight. What an incredible blessing for my friend E and her hubby M. This story is a wonderful example of what it means to go out into the world to be "blessed to be a blessing."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Seeking Peace

Seeking friends...can be such a difficult thing to do in this crazy busy hustling world. But the truth is that even when we take five minutes with him, God has a way of showing up and showing us peace..of reminding us of the importance of Sabbath in our every day lives.

Just tonight, I found myself at a picnic. In the midst of the picnic, I found myself simply sitting taking in the cool air and was reminded of the beauty of creation as I watched the kids with smiles on their faces playing. Then I came to church to check on our community garden where they were busy building garden boxes. My colleague, her husband, another colleague and another friend were busy working on the boxes when I arrived. My colleagues two year old son was watching and playing outdoors. While my colleague was working with them on the boxes, I was hanging out with Mr. E. As I sat in the box of the pickup and listened to this sweet little boy chat with me. I couldn't help but think about how being with him was bringing me peace...because it was causing me to pause and just simply sit with him.

Isn't it funny how God has this way of reminding us of the importance of Sabbath and helping us to seek peace. Some of my favorite places have become places where I truly experience God's peace. My favorite place in the world...the Bible camp I worked at for approximately seven summers helps me to exhale and take in the beauty of God's creation. As my car turns onto the gravel road to that holy place, I find myself feeling much lighter. It is a place where I always am at peace.

On Sunday, I will be heading to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains for a continuing education class. This is the fifth summer that I have participated in this event. It is hard to explain but the minute I come around the bends and see the Rocky Mountains staring back at me, my whole body is at peace. It is as if my whole body exhales and peace immediately enters in. Sitting around Lily Lake or on the front porch at Meeker Park Lodge or wherever I might find myself, I don't have to look far at all to find God's peace because it is already there staring right back at me.

And as I think about how it is there along, I am reminded that it is in my every day too. I just have to stop and take the time to see it, to feel it and to hear it. God offers an everlasting peace that only God can provide. But we must take the time to seek it, to find it, and to let it enter in. Because when we do, God is right there painting  this beautiful a golden sunset, or the golden wheat blowing in the fields of the prairies of North Dakota, or right in my own back yard.

And as God paints that beautiful masterpiece, we begin to see the beauty in the midst of the brokenness, the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary and experience the everlasting peace that only God can provide us.

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

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Blessings 86

(1) Fair Trade Chocolate: Dark Chocolate with Mint

(2) A text from two of my faves: STM and KW telling me they miss me.

(3) Real mail from a blog friend. Thanks SS! Totally made my day!!

(4) A great renewal team meeting

(5) Accidentally butt dialing a friend and then getting a chance to talk with her over instant messenger.

(6) The best sister in the world. Love ya Andrea Kay!!

(7) A little boy from church wanting to hold my hand. Then when we were holding hands, he kept leaning in to kiss it.

(8) A great night working on our youth gathering fundraiser. Thanks everyone!!

(9) A blog friend asking if she could link back to one of my blog posts.

(10) Council meeting at PK's house. It was such a gorgeous night to be outside.

(11) A lady at the mall telling me I looked younger than 36.

(12) A fun new sundress and sandals

(13) Texting with MW.

(14) A nice thank you note postcard in the mail

(15) Great day of youth fundraising!

(16) Awesome conversations with some of my youth kids. Talking about our trip, going off to college, volunteering at the animal shelter etc.

(17) Amazing generous givers for our youth fundraisers.

(18) Outshine Grape Popsicles; tasted so good after mowing my lawn.

(19) Leftover donuts from our youth fundraiser that we shared for this mornings coffee hour.

(20) A total Holy Spirit moment. My children's sermon was about letting our lights shine. We even used the words of the song. It came time for special music and guess what they guessed..."This Little Light of Mine." I hadn't looked at what they were doing and they had no idea what my sermon would be about. So cool!!!

(21) An awesome PLN (post-liturgical nap)

(22) A mowed lawn. I enjoy working outside and I'm always so proud of how nice my lawn looks afterwards.

(23) Getting a Vox from TM. I've missed you friend!!

(24) A light rain

(25) Sweet summertime sleep

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Language of Love

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 "World." Write for five minutes; unedited.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the word prompt was the song "We are the World" by Michael Jackson. These words from the chorus kept replaying in my mind "We are the world. We are the children." Yes, we are God's children scattered all over the world. Throughout the world, as God's children, the language of love is one that is universal.

Tonight I was working at church with the kids who are attending the National Youth Gathering and their parents on a fundraiser. One of them brought their little brother with her. This little boy is so kind and polite. He constantly reminds me of the power of love. I was going to the kitchen to grab some stuff and he ran after me. Then later, he came up to me and gave me a hug. He also kept holding my hand and kissing it as we were walking to the janitor's closet to get a garbage bag. This little boy's actions remind me of the universal power of love...a love that is shared all over the world.

My friend Heather and her husband David have spent the last several years in Japan where Heather was teaching English. It was always such a joy to read about their experience on the other side of the world. I even sent them a package that didn't make it to them. When it arrived back at my house, the box looked like it had been through heck. I wondered where in the world that box had been. Now Heather and David are back in the States, Heather shared a sweet memory book with me that her kids shared with her. Another picture of the universal language of love.

*Five years ago, my friend Renee and her husband Ben and Ben's cousin Jon traveled to Haiti. While they were on that side of the world, the Haiti earthquake occurred. Ben lost his life that day. After the aftermath of the earthquake, Jon and Renee were wrapped in the arms of the Haiti people. They took the blankets off of their backs and shared them with Jon and Renee. Now Jon and Renee are married and have a little boy. Another image of the universal language of love!

There is a lot of turmoil in the world. But God brings about God's peace and justice; a peace and justice that we continually pray for in the world...especially as we hear the news stories--ISIS, Caitlyn Jenner, and so much more. The truth, I believe, is that God calls us to be a "voice and not an echo." God continually calls us to share God's love with the world. We may not always agree but God calls us to love Caitlyn Jenner even when we don't understand her decisions.

God sent his son Jesus as the example for us all. Jesus was always turning the world upside down. Jesus was always sitting with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus was continually inviting all of God's people, all around the world, to sit at the table of grace; where we fill up and spill out for the kingdom.

*This is where my five minutes stopped.