Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pass the Chocolate!

Thursday is always made so much better by the Five Minute Friday Twitter party. If you don't know about this party, you must join us and check it out. We chat and wait for our gracious host to give us the word prompt. Then we are to set our timers for five minutes and write without making any edits. It's a practice in free writing! 

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 "pass."

There is something incredibly holy about sitting around the table and passing dishes between one another as we converse. I am reminded of Christmas dinner or Thanksgiving dinner. The plate passes from one hand to the next. I am also reminded of every time we gather around the communion table because breaking bread together is a holy act.

One of my favorite things about Thursday nights is gathering on Twitter for our Five Minute Friday Twitter party. We often end up talking about all things Gilmore Girls or about chocolate or whatever is happening in our lives during this week. Tonight we shared recipes for making brownies in a mug.

Pass the chocolate. Pass the brownies. Pass the yummy decadent dessert. During our Twitter parties, we are passing them virtually. But someday I believe, this side of heaven, we will gather and pass the chocolate, brownies and decadent dessert around a table in real life. What a joyous occasion that will be.

Yet I have a feeling there will also be unspoken words too because there will probably be some missing from our table. Will Andrew still be with us? Or will he have passed on to another life? Will others be missing from our table too? Or will others be added to our table too? It will be a table gathered to pass plates and goodies as we laugh, cry, and talk. I even can see little ones gathered at the table too. I will be the first to ask to have the baby passed to me so I can get my baby snuggles in.

I don't want to pass this by. I want to treasure every moment, every conversation, and every Twitter party until the day we meet around the table in real life. So for now..will you just pass the chocolate?I'll be waiting!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Let's Be Adventurers Looking for Lovely!

Have you ever watched a child play? They are so good about using their imaginations and adventuring to different places. Last month I met up with a neighbor friend who I haven't seen in at least ten years. She is married with two young children. After lunch, we went to a local mall to play in their play area. M climbed right up into the toy jeep and then told me to get in so I climbed into the jeep. Needless to say, I wasn't very comfortable as I am much bigger than a child, but I found myself laughing as M kept telling me where he was taking me. Why can't we be more like children and be more spontaneous?

I'll admit that I like being home, but I also have learned that when I do travel and adventure, I fall in love with the people and places I get to experience for the first time: Nashville with my sister last summer, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and so many other places. Yet I have not always been good at being spontaneous or an adventurer.

However, sometimes you just have to take the plunge. When I was in college, my friend Kristi and I decided to be spontaneous one night. Neither of us were the most spontaneous people in the world but Kristi was craving Olive Garden pasta and the nearest Olive Garden was approximately four hours away. So we hopped in Kristi's car and drove to Fargo. We ate pasta, rented a hotel at a very seedy hotel and then got up the next morning and drove back to Bismarck. It is a memory that is ingrained in my mind because it taught both of us that it is great to be spontaneous.

Last night, I was watching Annie F. Down's Looking for Lovely Party when she shared about the Looking for Lovely weekend in Nashville. The cost of the weekend is rather reasonable. I looked at the calendar and realized that it is a two day weekend that I could totally swing. The only problem is that flights to Nashville from Minot ND are usually rather expensive! :( So while I want to be an adventurer and meet one of my fave authors in the world, I will have to wait on this adventure.

Sometimes life is like that, isn't it? Life gets in the way of our being adventurers. Yet I still believe that we are all called to be adventurers. God wants us to explore this awesome creation that God created. In doing so, as adventurers, it is so much easier for us to find the lovely in the world. So will you join me in being adventurers as we continue to look for lovely in our world?

I am linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Three Word Wednesday! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Raw and Real

Last night I was making Korean Bao sliders from my Blue Apron box. As I was frying the hamburger, I kept finding myself returning the hamburger to the pan at the sight of any red or pink meat. I'm a woman who loves her meat very well done so I had to make sure my meat was well cooked. In fact, I don't want to see any hints of rawness exposed which got me thinking more about life.

How raw are you? Are you willing to be raw, real and vulnerable? Or are you afraid to expose yourself to the people around me? Exposing ourselves, in all our raw vulnerability and glory, is almost impossible to do. I know it took me a long time to show myself to the world; to share parts of my story that I never wanted to tell. Yet I'm reminded of Brene Brown's words "The bravest thing you'll ever do is tell your story."

I believe that God wants us to be open and raw with one another; to remind each other that we are not on this journey alone. In fact, in sharing our stories, we no longer hide our own skinned knees, but rather compare our scars with one another; scars that like the scars left on Jesus' hands after his crucifixion and resurrection remind us of the ultimate power of God.

It's scary to expose ourselves. Yet God made each one of us unique. God wants us to show all of who God created us to be; as "fearfully and wonderfully made" beings. It may be scary, yet in exposing ourselves, we remind each other of the gift of who we are.

It's important to be real and raw. This week my friend MG voxed me and shared how she appreciated my realness, my rawness and my vulnerability in sharing my story. To be honest, those are words that  15 years ago, you wouldn't have heard about me. But over the years, I've learned the value of being raw. In being raw, I show every part of who I am even those parts I don't even want to share.

Are you willing to be real, vulnerable and raw too?

I'm linking up with Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa linkup, and Jennifer and Tell His Story.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Some of My Fave Road Trip Jams

Summer will soon be upon us. And I don't know about you, but I love some good music to jam out to as I drive down those highways and byways. For the last six summers, I have attended a continuing education event in the heart of the Rocky Mountains just outside of Estes Park, Colorado. From where I live, it is about a 12-14 hour drive so I always sing loudly to my fave songs as I drive down the road. In that vein, I wanted to share my road trip playlist with you! I've been checking out some road trip posts from car rental company Turo recently and was inspired to create my own. Check them out if you're looking for a different Car rental company for trips - they're a peer-to-peer platform so you can rent from a local and enjoy a more personal experience!

I will admit that my taste in music can be rather eclectic. I like everything from contemporary christian to country to oldies and everything in-between. So I thought I would share some of my fave road trip songs to sing along too. These are some of my faves because I can sing loudly to them without a care in the world.

I told you it was an eclectic list, but I love anything that I can jam out too.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Blessings 124

(1) Baby time with Miss R

(2) Compliments on my outfit of the day--Julia dress, leggings and short boots.

(3) Getting to see CT's girls and getting hugs from them.

(4) A great lunch with great ladies

(5) Sitting outside and reading a book

(6) Texting with my friend MW

(7) One of the ladies bringing us treats for our meeting.

(8) A lady asking me if I've lost weight

(9) My friend EG complimenting me on my outfit.

(10) A much needed haircut

(11) A beautiful day for a drive

(12) Running into AH

(13) Brantley Gilbert concert with my sister.

(14) One of Canaan Smith's guitar players catching my eye and throwing his guitar pick at me.

(15) Our concert seats being upgraded.

(16) A fun weekend with my sister

(17) Looking over during worship and seeing EG copying me. So cute!!

(18) Running into a member at Perkins and having a nice visit.

(19) 10th Anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA!!

(20) Cars 2

(21) My sis buying me my fave cinnamon gummy bears

(22) An awesome PLN

(23) My new fave beverage: Blackberry Cucumber La Croix Sparkling Water

(24) A warm house on this very rainy day

(25) YOU!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

United We Stand

The Five Minute Friday community has *united* me to so many awesome people. I'm so blessed by each and every one of them. This community wouldn't be anything without any of them. We gather every Thursday night to chat and wait for our gracious host to give us the word prompt. Tonight we talked about the Jungle Book and how evil She Khan is. We also shared about how 3D movies and glasses always make us feel cross eyed. We shared some writing advice. Marie came in and told us she was going to stand in the corner because she is crabby. We told her we'd welcome her "princess crabby pants" anyways. All are welcome here! Then our conversation led to the news of the death of Prince right before Kate gave us the prompt. Then everyone went away to write;  tapping away on their keys. 

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 "unite."

United we stand, divided we fall.

As a young child, I was a kid who was teased. Those words that were hurled at me hurt my heart. But I was blessed with friends who stood up for me and stood with me.

United we stand, divided we fall.

On Saturday, I will celebrate the 10th Anniversary of my consecration as a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA. Seminary was not at all an easy journey for me. I took systematic theology more times than I care to admit. I am reminded of my first days of classes where I finally mustered up the courage to speak and was immediately shut down.

A few years later,  my advisor gave me sage advice when he said to my approval committee "Do you know how easy it would have been for Tara to walk out the door, shut the door and never look back. It takes more guts to stick with it." Because of those words, I was able to stick with it. I remember one day in particular when some classmates united with me, sat across the table from me, and told me how much they had seen me change over the course of our time together.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Funny story, *my birthday fell in those first days of seminary. I bought my own birthday cake. But my friends and I sat and ate that cake with our hands that night. It is one of my favorite memories from seminary and is engrained in my heart and mind. Together we stood united as we walked across that stage and graduated from seminary. Together we stood united as we watched two of our friends lives united as one. Together we have stood united through each of our joys and sorrows.

United we stand, divided we fall.

God has placed amazing people in my life who have stood by through all of life's ups and downs. My camp friends, youth ministry friends, my online friends and so many have stood united with me. And I will stand united with you.

Last summer, as I got to hug Jen, sit across the table from Janel and Val, my heart was full as I once again found souls that were united to mine as we shared our love of words and writing. Every time I open my mailbox to find a sweet surprise, listen to a Vox or see a note on my Facebook wall, I know that I am not alone!

United we stand, divided we fall.

Too much in this world feels divided...war, destruction, death and the like. Today we read the news of the loss of another music icon whose music often united us.  Yet I know that the ultimate uniter is Jesus--Jesus who binds us together in communities where we will stand united rather than fall divided!

*where my five minutes ended

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No Quitting And Looking for Lovely

I have never seen myself as a quitter. I rode my book without training wheels. But you know, I think, there are other areas in my life where I might be a quitter.

For the last six summers, I have attended a continuing education event in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. My first summer, some of the locals offered to take us on a "family friendly" hike. I decided to go on that hike, but little did I realize how "family friendly" was not the same to me. Half way through that hike, I thought I was going to die (I might have been a little dramatic!) I seriously didn't think I was going to be able to finish that hike, but I seriously kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Yet maybe in my own ways, I was ready and willing to turn around and just quit. Then I was convicted by Annie F. Downs when she wrote: "I could already see that in my little bit of walking the trails, the suffering has made me persevere, my character (my strength) had grown, and I had hope to keep going. God was showing me in nature, and in my body, what has always been true in my spirit if I would choose to see it that way. He was literally changing me from the inside out (Looking for Lovely, P. 166)."

God is indeed changing me and you from the inside out. I want to be a woman who both perseveres and clings to grace. In the words of Annie Downs, I want to be a woman who is marked by grace and perseverance as partners (Looking for Lovely, P. 167)"

Taking that first step and doing the things that are hard, we are no longer quitters. We will be people who take a few steps rather than no steps at all. "I just had to keep showing up, even when it hurt or felt hard or wasn't AT ALL what I wanted to do (Looking for Lovely, P. 39)"

As I prepare to be a step taker rather than a quitter, I want to share some of my fave quotes from Annie's latest book. I could share so many but I'll limit them to a few today.

"The things you want, the things you love, the things that make you cry, and the things that make you laugh, and the things that make you more angry than you thought you could be--it's a rare combination. In fact, it's a one-of-a-kind combination. Because God made you that way. On purpose. Your looks. Your loves. Your losses. They are you (Looking for Lovely, P. 44)

"My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain (Looking for Lovely, P. 75)."

"And what I'm almost too afraid to think about, if I'm being honest with you, is what this means for the tears I've cried over my singleness. Because...THEY HAVE BEEN CRIED AND WILL BE CRIED AGAIN. How can something dwarf the heartache and loneliness I've felt my whole adult life? How can that be? I question if it can, to be honest. That's just the truth of what I feel. I love my life and I'm so grateful for all I have, but it certainly isn't the kind of joy that makes the tears seem tiny (Looking for Lovely, P. 83)."

"Your people remind you of the goodness of God and remind you of what it means to finish (Looking for Lovely, P. 143)."