Holidaze: Food for thought.

Last weekend my immediate family gathered together at my brother’s place in Horace. My grandma Rita joined in on the fun too, which was a sweet (sorta planned) surprise. Usually she finds herself at my Uncle Troy’s but due to everyone’s comfortability with health and whatnot, that just wasn’t in the cards.

We did the usual things; visited, opened gifts, and played games. At one point, the games got so rambunctious that my dad asked my mom how much we’d all had to drink. Shocker, pops but we were simply jacked up on cheer and chocolate. He and my youngest brother sat idlily by while we quite literally displayed Utter Nonsense in various accents round and round again. A game everyone must have in their collection!

I do think this was one of the most enjoyable Christmases I remember having in quite some time. The food was good, the company even better. No one seemed to be too bogged down by having to spend quality time with each other and my dad even got out of the house to go pawning; a regular activity that really seems like a holiday tradition.


Fast-forward to the real deal, Christmas itself.. I found myself with nothing to do and I was actually pretty okay with it. I felt blessed that my family was all in good health and able to spend time together the weekend before. I had decided weeks ago to keep myself busy by volunteering at church on Christmas Eve and filling my Christmas Day with holiday movies galore.

For the first year in three, I wasn’t sad. I had a couple of blips, sure. A few moments in the days leading up to the holiday when people were describing their plans and I was like “well, we celebrated last weekend so just me, myself, and I.” And actually, I think more people felt sorry for me than I felt for myself, which was new.


I hadn’t physically stepped foot in Prairie Heights in months; only twice since our worlds changed. It was weird and uncomfortable both times but not for lack of trying. We all have had to make due with what we can; evolve to live. We’re taught to believe that church isn’t a building but people. It’s true, I do believe that. But it’s hard to be the church without the people. Without seeing the faces IRL that keep you accountable in whatever it is; life, faith, or otherwise.

My eyes swelled up before I even opened the doors at PH and when I was greeted with the same smiling eyes as I always had been, I was reminded that the church is in fact people but it didn’t sink in until I was in the building. How is that?

I felt like I was both home and away from home in the same moment. I watched from the sidelines as the service before the one I volunteered at get dismissed; families gathering together for what I can only assume is a holiday photo opp. I watched other volunteers embrace one another in elbow bumps and air high fives, radiating such immense joy from behind their masks.

I listened intently as Marni, the director of Guest Services thanked us, prayed over us, and shared the hurt in her heart over how different her holiday was this year in comparison to years past. I found myself feeling remorseful for getting to spend the holiday with my family just last weekend, forgetting how many households didn’t have that luxury this year.


A dear friend of mine was asked to share her story with the PH community this Christmas season. The theme being “The Thrill of Hope.” Now, I don’t know if it’s just because I know her or if it was the feeling of community on Christmas Eve or the holy spirit at work; likely a combination of all three but her story, even though I’d heard it previously, hit me like a ton of bricks.

I met Anna before she’d even attended Prairie Heights. She joined the same Grow Group I did at the same time, but she had yet to step foot in the church. We both came with broken hearts for different reasons and had the courage to not only show up but trust others to be gentle. To ask for prayers. I feel so honored to have seen first hand how God has been working in her life since that first evening I met her. One of my very favorite things Anna has ever said in our small group and in her testimony is: “I had a God-shaped hole in my heart and I was trying to fill it with everything else. But it was Jesus, that’s what was missing.” Uffda, is that ever true. You can watch Anna’s video below:


To my surprise, I actually didn’t end up being alone on Christmas either. My aunt reached out asking if I’d like to come over for dinner and to visit. All of my cousins on my dad’s side were there and it was such a fun time. Growing up, we were hours and hours away from that side of the family. We’d see them occasionally but we didn’t grow up with them, like on my mom’s side. So, as the oldest, it’s always been so weird for me. Like, I remember them young. In diapers. Little kids that were too tiny to play Scrabble or have anything in common with. Now, fast-forward two decades and we’re all adults. We’re on different paths and have completely different worlds but we have the opportunity to connect in a way that we never did before. It’s still weird though. I still feel like the old one in the bunch but I’ll take what I can get!

We played what seemed like a plethora of games and changed the rules of some. We ate delicious foods, too many sweets, and I may have participated in an olive showdown challenge with my cousin, Dallas. I even talked them into taking part in the inaugural adventure of the Adventure Challenge book I gifted myself this Christmas. ‘Twas a fun time.


I originally had a different plan for this final post of the Holidaze series. I wanted to focus on the story of Christmas; that it’s not about the gifts or the food or the fun. Because faithfully, it’s not. I think we all know that. And I think we’ve all just come to accept that it’s morphed into this Americanized “vacation” that everyone either looks forward to or dreads.

  • Whether we celebrate the holiday for the right reasons or not, I was reminded in my BEMA small group this week of Micah 6:8 “..to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
  • I was nudged to serve at Prairie Heights for Christmas so others could spend quality time with their loved ones.
  • I was moved by Anna’s message of hope when everything seems so hopeless.
  • I was reminded by Pastor Beth in her Christmas message that everything has meaning in God’s plan.

Christmas isn’t about the gifts or the food or the fun. But it is. The gift of life and community that we’re fortunate to be given because of Jesus. The food of wisdom and the God-moment reminders in every day life are there, if we are hungry enough to listen. The fun in the joy we feel by seeing and being with people we love.

Jesus taught us to simply love one another. That’s it, really. The story might get lost and the traditions might change but the message never has. I hope that even if your holiday season was filled with piles upon piles of wrapping paper and garbage bags full of leftovers, that you were able to take pause and feel even the slightest sense of gratitude for all that Christmas is regardless of creed.

Merry Christmas from here and thank you for reading! -Ori

#ProudToLove

This. This is why people fight so hard. I’ve already seen one too many posts on my Facebook feed throwing the Bible in the faces of those so happy about today’s history making decision.

I’m not perfect. I’m judgmental and have issues with people for the worst reasons but under my “hard” judgmental hat, I give a shit about the basic rights of people for Christ’s sake.

Black, white, native, or Asian; if you commit a crime, you should be treated equally. If you want a job, you should be treated the same as your competition. Color shouldn’t be a part of the equation.

Same goes for the LGBT community. You’re a gay male and have the education and experience to be the VP of advertising? Have at it. Mary loves Jane? Fine by me.

I was raised in a Catholic church. I believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I pray nearly every day. I ask for angels to watch over my family and friends. To keep them safe and happy and healthy. I pray for good things to come and for my sins and hurtful words or actions to be forgiven.

There is a God. And he will listen and answer any prayer no matter who you are. God is all knowing and all loving. All accepting and always available with open arms.

You don’t have to understand “gay people” (which by the way I’m sure is offensive) but you don’t need to persecute them either. Reciting Bible verses that are interpreted just about as well as the terms in any lawyer written document doesn’t make you better in the eyes of God.

We are all sinners. We’ve all said hurtful things, thought hurtful thoughts, and acted on hurtful actions. But love? That’s not a sin.

The worst interpretation of a Bible verse that I’ve ever come across says something about having feelings for the same sex happens but acting on them is the sin. So what about those that can’t “act” on their feelings? They sit in solitude and resort to a life of depression over the feeling that they will never love or be loved the way straight couples can? Being gay isn’t any more about sex and drugs than any heterosexual relationship is. This movement, this fight; it’s about love. L. O. V. E. Love. And love won.

If you “don’t get it” that’s fine. Just move on. Be positive; be passionate in all the other good things the world has to offer. Let go of something you don’t understand and let God handle it. #ProudToLove

God’s Not Dead.

loganI’ve been busy being busy. The good kind of busy though. Where time doesn’t drag and you enjoy the people you’re around. I had a great weekend. My teeny tiny taller than me baby brother went to prom. Which is kind of a big deal because he’s so…Logan. You’d have to know him to get it. But he definitely looked dashing. His girlfriend and him complimented each other very nicely.

My mom’s birthday falls tomorrow so, because we’re kind of a ways away, my brother Nick and I celebrated it with her yesterday. We went to Fargo to spend the day at the 8th annual Holistic Expo and grabbed some grub.

I’ve been to the expo before and really enjoyed it. There is everything from healing stones to palm readers to balancing the mind and finding peace. Two years ago I went to PaLiChi and felt such peace and harmony after my reading. I was going through a really tough time and her words and reassurance had stayed with me since I last saw her.

falithi

PaLiChi – 763-742-8690 www.falithihealing.com

She was at the expo again this year and I was more than thrilled. I won’t go into detail with my experience but I want to recommend her to anyone that ever needs help or healing in almost any sense. She is a Master Shaman, Psychic Medium, Spiritual and Energy Healer.

I’ve always known that spirit guides worked through people on the physical Earth. I’ve never doubted it. And to be able to have gone to her multiples times now and see what she can do even if just for a few moments really moves mountains.

I believe the Holistic Expo is in Fargo only once a year each spring but she is located in Brooklyn Center, MN. I have posted her website and contact information below her photo for anyone that is interested in experiencing her gift.

Following our trip to Fargo, my mom and I came back to Grand Forks and went to the movie “God’s Not Dead.” I had heard a little about it but hadn’t seen or sought out a preview. We were kind of tight on time and it was the first one closest to the time that we wanted to go, so we did and I’m glad we did. It amazing how so many little things in a day can link up and make you feel like a totally different person.

After my reading with PaLiChi, being with my brother and mom, and then seeing “God’s Not Dead;” I felt different. Whole. I felt open to positivity and accepting everything that is handed to me. I saw through another persons eyes that sometimes the answer God gives you is no and it’s not to be cruel or to cause pain. It’s to save you and help you. I felt at peace knowing that things from my past and moments in time that I wish I could change were meant to be. I have multiple purposes in this world and it brings me joy to know that even though I’m just one person in the 7.046 billion or even more people, I can still make a difference. I might not change the way of humanity, make national news, or even have something I do be noticed, but I can change peoples lives in the smallest ways. I can be kind rather than crude. I can help rather than ignore. I can pray instead of doubt and most of all, I can trust that everything happens for a reason.

I don’t believe in every single practice of Catholicism in which I was raised. I eat meat on Fridays all year round. I believe that anyone of any race, gender, or sexuality should have the freedom to love and marry. I think marijuana will do more good than closed minds think. It should be regulated and alcohol prohibited. I think war is pure stupidity. I firmly believe that people should be hired based on knowledge. Just because you have a degree behind your name does not qualify you to do something. If you’re an idiot, a degree will mean nothing. I have opinions and am more judgmental than I’d like myself to be. I have flaws and sometimes I’m a royal asshole. But I have a heart, I am a person, and I love. I know I have angels and auras all around me. I know there is a higher power.

starsYou don’t have to be Lutheran or Hindu. You don’t have to be an Atheist or Jewish. You just simply have to be. And if you can find peace and happiness in just being as best as you are capable of being than that is enough. Nothing needs to be proclaimed or preached. Help others, do good, and be present. That’s what matters.

God Loves Us Just The Same I Figure.

I overheard a conversation about churches, religion, and it’s relation to dress code today. At first, I almost had a “no way” moment but upon analyzing the situation; I’ve found myself thinking about it all day. To be clear – I wasn’t a part of the conversation but in such a small office space, anything that anyone talks about is open to all ears so of course mine were peaked.

The two women were talking about the churches they attend or have attended in town here and elsewhere. They were discussing the strictness and leniency of the dress codes. On Wednesday nights – it appears – is no big deal. I don’t know if they actually have mass on Wednesdays or if it’s the same as when I was in school and we just had Wednesday night religious ed. Regardless, come as you are on Wednesdays I guess. However, on Sunday; it sounds like your ‘Sunday Best’ is a requirement. 

Now, I don’t know if it’s literally a rule per the church, God, or society but I just about had to pick my mouth up off of the floor. Really? A requirement? I pondered this the rest of the day waiting until I could give my mom a call this evening. The women talking were discussing the practices of their Lutheran faith, respectively.

I was born and raised Catholic and per the confirmation of my mom – strictness and Lutheranism don’t really coincide so I was than even more perplexed with that conversation. Growing up Catholic, we were taught many things. Even though I went to Sacred Heart every Sunday, we were the minority in the little ol’ Lutheran town of Roseau. So I’ve been used to the un-christian-like slander my whole life. That’s another story, we’ll save that for later. But I just had to ask my mom: “Did we dress up to go to church?” Turns out we didn’t. If we wanted to wear a sweatshirt and jeans, God didn’t care. We were there, that’s what mattered. We practiced good faith and possessed good morals. Growing up, what we wore on Sunday was never a topic. I think that is the reason that this minuscule overheard conversation rattled my brain a little.

Looking back, I remember certain families that always dressed up. I guess I might have noticed back then but I really only figured that they dressed up to keep up with their image in town. In case you aren’t aware of the quite obvious fact, your status in Roseau, MN is a very important thing and to this day; I think that people put on an invisible mask in order to maintain that said status.

CHURCH2

Sacred Hearth Catholic Church – Roseau, MN

I also figured that the women in dresses, fathers in suits, and little kids with fancy new clothes were just rich. We’d go to church with sopping wet hair making water marks on our backs, shoes untied, and a crying snotty nosed brother in tow. God loved us just the same I figured.

It’s actually pretty crazy that this little conversation I eavesdropped on today would cause me to analyze so many people and years of my life in the church I grew up in. I feel very fortunate that I grew up the way I did. We had a great priest. I retained some of the best life lessons in that little community of a church. All teasing from school during the week disappeared. The music in my head all week was sang and the communion and forgiveness of sins made me feel whole.

Once we left Roseau, I began to slip away from the Catholic faith. Although, I still credit many Catholic beliefs to my upbringing; I don’t necessarily agree with certain areas of the faith now. Between the combination of the modern church and it’s scandals to my individual growth; I have my own opinions and beliefs. I’ll always acknowledge being born and raised Catholic but when I think of the church, I think of Roseau. It was very welcoming and accepting. There was no “wrong way” to dress. And if there were stares, I was young enough to be oblivious to that but nothing will ever take away from the great memories I had there. 

In conclusion, what is your stance? Have you ever felt that you needed to pull out your Sunday best on the day God rested? Why? Does it matter? Do people only choose to dress up for a social standing? Are you embarrassed of yourself or your family if you don’t? Let’s start the conversation.