Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Lazy Day

Ahhh... Saturdays - gotta love them! I woke up to coffee being brewed and the hubby making breakfast, sun shining through the windows, and the living room light and airy with spring (as long as I didn't look outside at the 6 inches of snow on the ground!). Today has been spent finishing some cleaning - and lounging around. Love it!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Strawberry and Grand Marnier Biscuits with homemade whipped cream. YUM!
2. A playful dog - she's in her own little world today, and it's been VERY funny!
3. Dad inviting us over for dinner tomorrow night - and texting me how excited he was for us to come over!
4. Playing with - very interesting.
5. A clean house.
6. Time to do some reading.
7. The hubby weighing every item that goes into his backpacking pack - I know it's a valuable thing to do, but it's so darn nit-picky that it's funny.
8. Baked salmon for dinner.
9. I can feel the results of yesterday's workout in my abs - gotta love that!
10. The hubby is very good to his mom.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Fun - Feb. 27th

I'm starting to look forward to my Friday blog entries - I'm having so much fun answering random questions! I think this will be really fun to look back at someday! Feel free to use these questions for yourself too!

As a child, how did people describe you? Quiet, shy, awkward, well-mannered, bookworm, maybe compassionate (especially with animals).

What is one thing every kid should have? A safe place to call home - where they are accepted and loved for exactly who they are.

What is one thing that you really disliked as a child that you now fully appreciate? A clean room and bedtimes! As a child my room was normally a disaster - in fact, I think that was the source of most of my early fights with my mom. Now, I'm a neat freak in most respects... If I ever do have a kid, that may be a point of contention between us, too. And I HATED being told to go to bed! It was a great Friday night when my parents would let me stay up to watch "Dallas" or "The Tonight Show" with them! Now, if I get to bed before midnight, life is good.

What qualities do you feel make you different as an adult from your childhood? Self-confidence. Not needing to "measure up" to others. Believing in myself. Motivation. Trusting in my faith - gives me strength and courage. Knowing my gifts and talents - not trying to force myself to be good at things I'm not.

What things do you remember about your childhood neighborhood?
We lived on a little brick road in Ohio. The street was lined with huge, old trees (oaks and maples, I think). Almost every house on that street had kids - so there were always noisy kids outside. Halloween was awesome - the street was crawling with people out trick-or-treating! In the summers, all of us kids would play outside til the sunlight was completely gone. During the school year, the kids would meet before the bus came to play kickball or jump rope. This is the neighborhood where I learned to ride a bike, rollerskate, and jump rope. We played hopscotch, cops and robbers, and flew on the tire swing! We even had the creepy old houses that everyone stayed away from - for fear of ghosts and monsters! It was a great place to grow up!

What is something you wish you could have learned with the snap of your fingers? All things MATH. I think that was my biggest ongoing struggle throughout school - always math. My brain just didn't work the way the teacher's did - so I didn't understand them, and they didn't understand why I didn't understand! Luckily, I made it through - and know just enough to get through everyday life! LOL

What childlike qualities have you maintained throughout your life? Wonder, curiousity, hope, positive attitude, and playfulness.

What's the funniest thing someone wrote in your yearbook? Ha ha ha. Miss Emily Mead wrote: "Oh! And remember - never drink downstream from the herd!" I remember thinking, "what the heck does that mean?!" Totally random, and when I got it, totally funny. To this day she is one of my best friends - and still full of great one-liners!

How did growing up change you? Priorites change. The most important thing in the world used to be trying to fit in with the "popular kids." Now, it's being happy with the life I have. Through life experiences, we learn that family and friends, time, and committment are much more important that brands of clothes and what kind of purse you carry. I used to dream of a grand life - now, I see the simple life as grand. Growing up helps you focus on your values and manages your dreams in ways that make them achievable - even if they are a little different from the childhood fantasies. There's a lot of hard work involved in living a "grown up" life - but I wouldn't change it for the world!

When looking back at your childhood, what would you want to repeat? Anytime when our family was together and happy. Saturday mornings - us kids jumping in bed with Mom and Dad (Ha ha ha - or the mornings Em and I would turn the whole downstairs into one gigantic blanket fort before Mom and Dad got up!). Saturday morning breakfasts - eggs and bacon - and John Denver playing in the background! Our field trips to state parks - hiking ahead with Dad, or chatting with Mom. Christmases. Easter morning egg hunts - we still do this! In high school, spending time with Kayla while she was a toddler (before I left for college) - playing games, reading to her, and making her giggle across the dinner table. So many happy family memories - those are what I would repeat.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Reminders that we are all a work in progress. (This is a little carving of a man that my grandpa was working on... We found it in his workshop after he died. It sits on a shelf across from the elliptical machine - a great reminder when I'm working out! LOL)

2. It's Friday!
3. I followed through with no TV this morning! (And it was nice!)
4. Bison meat tacos for dinner - surprisingly good!
5. A quiet evening in front of the fireplace.
6. Spring cleaning and spring decorations went up - I just couldn't handle looking at winter greenery for one more day...
7. Bailey, the dog, once again squeaking her ball! Her playfulness has returned!
8. My tulips are STILL hanging in there!
9. Mom got to Pittsburgh ok in the snow.
10. We'll be on our way to Ireland a week from today!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


"Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose."
--Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

My readings today greatly mirrored the message at our Ash Wednesday service last night. We began another round of Lent - being reminded of life's shortness, of the gift that life is, and of the importance of finding the time to "put something down, and pick something else up" in order to seek and honor God.

After much thought, I've decided I'm going to give up TV in the mornings - I often have it on in the background as I'm doing my "quiet time" readings and writings as well as while I work... I like the background noise and feeling connected to news and stories - even when I'm not fully paying attention. But that's all it is. Background noise. Knowing what so and so thinks of the fashions at the Oscars - does that really matter? Hearing the latest argument on The View - how does that better my life? Hearing the local news four times a day - who needs that much sadness and frustration? So I'm turning it off. I think silence will be a new adventure for me... It may take the 40 days to get used to... But I'm up for the challenge!

And I'm continuing to "pick up" reading something daily that connects to my faith. Some days it may be the Bible, and some days it may be other wonderful devotions or books. I'm loving the constant reminders of seeing our faith journeys in new ways. I'm going to continue to write about what I am thinking and feeling - and continuing my lists of 10 things I am thankful for each day. I'm going to continue keeping my handwritten journal - where I allow imperfections and the thoughts of the day to just "flow out" of me - including the good, bad, and the ugly. And I'm going to give myself the space and time to experience silence. To listen.

What will you make a priority through this Lenten season? What will you "put down, and pick up?" Let me know if there is a way I can support you in this time of daring ourselves to stick with new priorities!

To new beginnings!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Our wonderful, simple, and meaningful Ash Wednesday service last night.
2. That my husband came to the service last night - without me asking!

3. A good eye doctor appointment this morning - healthy eyes!
4. Thunder accompanying our snow storm! (Apparently you hear some cool things when you're willing to be silent!)
5. Meeting new people through the "bloggin world!" So fun!
6. Papa John's pizza and breadsticks tonight! A special treat on a cold and snowy evening!
7. Making the hubby smile after a long day.
8. Ray LaMontagne's "You Are The Best Thing." (And dancing in the kitchen!)
9. My tulips - still look great!
10. No meeting tonight - cuddling up on the couch for Grey's Anatomy instead! :)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Emily!

It's my middle sister's birthday today - so, here's 10 things I am thankful for:

1. Em's laugh. We like to giggle together!
2. Her competiveness - makes games fun.
3. Em's ability to take risks.
4. Her natural abilities as a mommy.

5. Em's faith and her ability to live it out in her work and life.
6. Her creativity!
7. Even though she lives far away - she takes lots of pictures of her little Fin, so we can all see her!
8. She's developed some fun hobbies in her "old age" - fly-fishing, for one!

9. She's incredibly supportive of her hubby!
10. We talk like old friends now, instead of rivaling sisters - open, honest, and encouraging. She's one of my best friends, now! I love you, Em!

11. I had to add one more! As I was looking for pictures of Emily, I found she had posted this of Finley lately - eating lasagna. LOL What a mess!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


"C.S. Lewis once surmised that each person is created to see a different facet of God's beauty - something no one else can see in quite the same way - and then to bless all worshipers through all eternity with an aspect of God they could not otherwise see."
-- John Ortberg

I LOVE this! We talk all the time about how we each have specific gifts that we should use in the world, in our communities, in our friendships and families - gifts that support, encourage, and shine the light of God's love. I love the idea that we have that specific gift to help people see another aspect of God that they might not otherwise see! (It's like the story of three blind men experiencing an elephant for the first time - they each experience a different part and assume that's all it is (the trunk or the leg or the ear)... When in reality, they each only have a piece of the big picture!)

In many of the "gift inventories" that I have done over the years, I always end up with the gift of "connectedness." This is the gift of seeing how events are connected - in ways of learning and growing, and also how they connect us to God and each other. I think it's a cool gift - it's given me the ability to see the good and positive side of things. It's given me a spirit of gratitude - even through the darkest and saddest days. Often, when people describe me, they refer to this part of my life. Maybe, this is the side of God that I am supposed to share with other worshipers "through all eternity!" Goodness. That's quite a job!

What is the aspect of God that you see? What do you have to share with other worshipers for "all eternity?" I'm so curious! :)

Here's to God's MANY sides - and all the ways we can share them!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Two turkeys in the highest branch of a tree on my way to work!
2. Three bald eagles!
3. Bill G's hug!
4. A "warm" day - 40 degrees!
5. Spicy Indian food - clears the sinuses!
6. Excedrin.
7. The hubby went to the drugstore for me.
8. Ireland - 1.5 weeks to go!
9. Ash Wednesday tomorrow - one of my favorite church services of the year.
10. Going to bed early.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook - February 23rd Edition

For Today... from the Simple Woman's Daybook...

Outside my window... bright sunshine! A great start to the day!
I am thinking... that I have so much to do... Reading, cleaning, planning... Busy day!
From the learning rooms... enjoying my daily readings... Looking at my own life, choices, and faith.
I am thankful for... Mondays to work at home and ease back into the week!
From the kitchen... smells of the grill from our steak dinner last night still linger... Yum.
I am wearing... my pjs... Still. Gotta love a day at home!
I am reading... Simple Abundance, Speaking of Faith, and Dangerous Wonder
I am hoping... for a great fee concert tonight! :) Brett Dennen and Angel Taylor.

I am creating... memories.
I am hearing... critiques of Oscar fashion.
Around the house... dog toys everywhere! She can't make up her mind these days!
One of my favorite things... is finding little surprise notes from the hubby.
A few plans for the rest of the week... Concert tonight, book group tomorrow, visiting a former youth group kid from WI on Friday!
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
(Isn't this the cutest little sauna house you've ever seen? It's at our favorite Bed and Breakfast in Northern Minnesota... I've been craving a visit...)

**You are invited to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook where you will get to meet many others doing just as you are, sharing little aspects of their day.

Things I am thankful for today:
1. Sweat. (I imagine it's fat melting off my body...)
2. My hubby recommending great music!
3. A great night out! Live music, good food, great company!
4. Minneapolis. What a fun and easy city - even on a Monday night!
5. Barb's dog is ok! Yeah!
6. Slumdog Millionaire won!
7. Trader Joe's knock off of Bailey's Irish Cream.
8. Getting the last piece of yummy cornbread.
9. Making plans with Henry and Joan.
10. Planning game night with the Dakota County crew!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


"Shouldn't Christians be known by the fire in their souls, the wild-eyed gratitude in their faces, the twinkle in their eyes, and a holy mischief in their demeanor?... Shouldn't those who call themselves Christians be filled with awe, astonishment, and amazement?
"Let's find the world of dangerous wonder. It's a real place, you know. It is the place where both children and grownups can find God, located just beyond where the sidewalk ends."
-- Michael Yaconelli, from the book Dangerous Wonder

I'm revisiting an old favorite with the book Dangerous Wonder. It invites you to recapture the joy of being a child and apply it to your relationship with God. I think sometimes we get caught up in our faith lives - and they become a serious struggle... This book reminds you of the joy and freedom and adventure that comes with the journey! (Ha ha ha - it's Sunday... I got God on my mind! Worship this morning was a little more "serious" than usual... But I got to end my morning with my confirmands - what a great job! I get to talk about the joy and freedom of God's grace with giggly, funny, smart, and curious 8th graders!)

Just a reminder - God is good! All the time!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Gummy worms and the childrens' sermon!
2. "You've missed your calling. Go back to school and get that divinity degree, already!" LOL Thanks, John.
3. Good 'ol hymns at worship.
4. Joe is doing well in college - and has matured in so many ways!
5. Rebecca's happiness at her 3 month anniversary. :)
6. The #1 prayer request in confirmation today: That the stimulus package works. LOL
7. Steak for dinner!
8. The Oscars are on tonight.
9. The 100th anniversary of the pipe organ at St. Paul's Church - concert tonight.
10. The hubby got our scanner to work - old pictures soon to come!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Pay it Forward

1. Be one of the first THREE bloggers to leave a comment on this post, which then entitles you to a handmade item from me - something crafty or yummy, who knows?!

2. Winners must post this challenge on their own blog, meaning that you will Pay It Forward, creating a handmade gift -anything!- for the first THREE bloggers who leave a comment on YOUR post about this giveaway!

3. The gift that you send to your 3 Friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And, remember: It’s the Spirit and the Thought That Count!

4. When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it, sharing appropriate Linky Love! If you are not one of the Top Three Commenters on this post, you can still play along. Go ahead and start your own Pay It Forward chain, and encourage your blogging friends to do the same!

SO, REMEMBER... Pay it forward!

And... Things I am thankful today:

1. Being #2 on Beth's "Pay it Forward!"
2. Cleaning out the "craft closet" and the linen closet.
3. A snowy walk.
4. Sleeping in.
5. Mom's "pulling teeth" pun. :)
6. Fresh tulips!

(I think the hubby knew just how much I was craving spring... So he brought a touch of spring home for me... What a sweetie!)

7. Gnocchi and Wine for dinner.
8. A quiet evening by the fireplace.
9. A good night's sleep.
10. Magazines galore!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fun - Feb. 20th

Here's ten more questions from Childhood and School, just for fun!

1. In what organizations and extracurricular activities did you participate? Elementary school: Girl Scouts, church choir, art classes. Senior High: Environmental club, Natural Resources "Explorers," SADD, church youth group and mission trips, Peer Counseling, Circle of FIRE (a group of leaders in high school that signed a pledge to not drink or do drugs, and educated their classmates on making good choices), serving meals at Simpson Shelter (a homeless shelter), baby-sitting, and I was our neighborhood dog-watcher when the neighbors went away...

2. What tokens of your childhood do you wish you had saved? Ha ha ha - what haven't we saved? I have my favorite stuffed animals, books, Barbies, T-shirts, and school projects. It's all taking up room in my closet - and some is still in my parents' basement. Maybe that will be a big summer project... To go through it all and decide what really needs to be kept... :)

3. Did you enjoy physical education in school? HA HA HA! Uh... No. I was always the kid that couldn't breathe when I ran, could never climb the rope or do a pull-up, and was certainly not competitive when doing team sports... There was a time in elementary school when PE was fun - square-dancing and gymnastics. I did well on the uneven bars, surprisingly! And I loved the square-dancing units. I had one boy who always picked me when it was "boys' pick." When I asked him why he always picked me (wasn't I brave?) - he told me it was because I had the softest hands in the class! LOL How cute...

4. What scary creatures did you think were in your childhood bedroom? I saved up cereal box tops for a Michael Jackson/ET set - an audio tape, read-along book, and giant poster. I hung the poster inside my closet door in my room (in first grade, I had a major crush on Michael Jackson... Yikes!) - but at night, all I could think of was ET in my closet... And if the door wasn't closed, the poster would scare the you-know-what out of me. I would lie awake and watch the poster, sure that my closet door was moving and someone was going to pop out of it! I also had a metal kitchen play-set in my room (aluminum, maybe?) - the metal would "pop" and "moan" throughout the day. I thought it was haunted. I read way to many ghost story books as a kid....

5. Describe the first time you were left home alone. I was sick. Mom had to leave for work in the afternoon, and Dad couldn't come home early. So I was instructed to stay on the couch and watch TV til Dad got home. I was pretty excited - and a little scared. I remember watching TV and realizing something big just happened in the world - the news was breaking into programs... Then the phone rang. It was Dad - the space shuttle blew up. I was home watching the day the Challenger exploded.

6. Describe your first punishment for doing something bad. Ha ha ha - ok, Dad. Here's your story! I was pretty little - maybe four? I decided to push my boundaries that day... I went past where I was allowed to go on our street. I freaked Mom out. She came and found me - NOT happy! I think that was the first time I heard, "You just wait til your father gets home!" So I spent the rest of the day in my room, pondering what Dad would do when he got home - more upset that I had disappointed my parents, than thinking I would actually get in real trouble. Well... Dad came home. He heard what I did. He came in my room and explained that, "this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you." Then I got spanked. Crocodile tears fell. I rolled over and laid on my bed. Dad left. My ego was bruised - but my bottom was fine... A little while later, Dad came back to check on me. He sat on my bed and explained why I had needed a spanking... Then, out of guilt, he taught me to whistle! I'll never forget sitting on the edge of my bed, giggling and whistling with Dad - knowing he still loved me...

7. What was the most difficult thing to overcome from your childhood? Shyness. I was HORRIBLY shy. I was the kid in the back corner of the classroom that never said a word - and when a teacher forced me to speak, it was often so quiet, she still couldn't hear me. I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing, of appearing stupid, and of disappointing people. I don't think it was until I was on my own in college that I finally stepped out of my comfort zone enough to create my new self. That was really the first time that I realized that if I didn't speak up for myself - no one else would. Now, I regularly speak in front of large groups and enjoy meeting new people and leading groups... So, even the shyest kids can grow up just fine without forcing it! It just takes time... :)

8. What details do you remember of your childhood bedroom(s)? My bedroom in Illinois - red shag carpet. Ohio - really busy wallpaper with kids playing on it, mustard colored carpet and walls, my bunk bed (which my sister and I used to pretend was a motor home!), the haunted kitchen set, the deep closet that was easy to hide in! California - my first full-size bed, peach and sea green wallpaper and comforter, the green velvet chair, Kirk Cameron and Chad Allen pictures on the walls, a bookcase full of books! Minnesota - pale yellow walls, pale green shag carpet, pastel floral comforter, 2 big windows, and a papasan chair (bought with my first paycheck ever ($99 from the Eden Prairie Community Center)! When my parents found out they were pregnant with my sister, Kayla, I was fifteen - the first thing they promised me was that I would get to keep my room! :)

9. Are there foods, smells, flavors, sounds, songs, etc. that bring back memories of your childhood? Fish sticks, hot dogs, cocoa rice krispies, pudding cups, kiwi, egg-in-the-whole, the smell of fall leaves and the spring thaw, smell of cinnamon and cloves, smell of crayons, smell of play-dough, sound of cardinals singing, sound of church bells, sound of the school bus, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany songs...

10. What fads did you embrace while growing up? Oh dear... Jelly shoes, jelly bracelets, charm necklaces, clip hair bows, big red glasses, rolled and pinned jeans, layered colorful socks, poofy bangs, flourescent colored clothes, leggings, oversized sweatshirts, flannel shirts, and tie-dye shirts.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. A hard workout! (And my hubby's silliness... I went to grab the 8lb weights and they were gone! I thought he may have put them away somewhere - maybe he didn't like them being left out... I looked and looked and looked. Then it hit me. Monday, when we went for our hike, he was experimenting with how much weight he wanted in his backpack... He stole my weights! I had to settle for lots more reps with the 5 pounders. Goodness. Luckily, all the weights are back together again... for now... LOL)

2. Laundry is done.
3. A Friday night at home.
4. Beautiful snow falling.
5. Stacks of stuff to donate to Goodwill.
6. Bailey, the dog, watching cats on TV.
7. Ireland travel books.
8. Kelsey (one of my youth group kids) in Washington DC to advocate for better healthcare for those with psoriasis. Go, Kels!
9. My balance ball - provides great exercise, and great laughs when the dog and hubby are around!
10. A surprise foot rub! :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Finley!

Today is my niece, Finley's very first birthday!

Here is the quote of the day - perfect for Fin's parents:
"Love is extravagant in the price it is willing to pay, the time it is willing to give, the hardships it is willing to endure, and the strength it is willing to spend. Love never thinks in terms of "how little," but always in terms of "how much." Love gives, love knows, and love lasts."
-- Joni Eareckson Tada

So here are 10 things that make me thankful for Fin:

1. Her mom, Emily, is a natural at being a mommy!
2. Fin helped her mom and I become closer.
3. She's turned Grandpa into a pile of mush.
4. She's taken the pressure off of Mike and I! LOL
5. She's fun to see when we Skype.
6. She's smart and beautiful!
7. She makes people smile and laugh.
8. She likes to be outside - even fly-fishing with her parents!
9. She likes eating cool-whip straight from the tub... like Auntie Meg!
10. Her cool hat collection!

And here is an ode to Finley - her first year of life in HATS! :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Plant a Seed

"Sometimes in this world the best you can do is plant the seed, attend patiently and reverently to a reality you cannot change quickly or even in your lifetime, be present to suffering you cannot banish. To summon the kingdom of heaven as Jesus described it is not to call down perfection on an imperfect world, but to bring recurring, overriding virtues of the Gospel - love, mercy, and redemption - to moments that will probably not make headlines."
-- Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith

The overcoming of perfection has been an overriding theme in my readings and conversations lately. It's not about being perfect, or making the world around us perfect - but planting that seed with kindness, hope, a smile for a stranger, an understanding ear, and all the other little small ways we reach out to others. It's also about showing ourselves love, mercy, and redemption - allowing mistakes and imperfections - in order to continue to learn and grow.

Where are you planting seeds today?

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Fresh snow. (And fresh puppy paw prints!)
2. Internet connection.
3. Pastor Rod's attention to details.
4. Melting snow.
5. My dog cuddling close when she knows I don't feel good.
6. Butternut squash soup.
7. Mason Jennings' song, "I Love You and Buddha, Too."
8. "LOST" I love that show!
9. "Top Chef"
10. A nice surprise email from Beth and Carol - I'm in, Ladies! :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


"Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in."
-- Leonard Cohen

Do you ever fail to start something, because you think it will never turn out as perfect as you would want it to? I hate to hand-write journals - because it never looks neat enough. I don't try different art forms anymore - because it never turns out like the picture in my head. I hate to take leadership for big events - because I'm afraid it won't be the success I see in my mind.

I used to not cook - because I thought I'd screw everything up. I used to be afraid of blogging - because I thought I didn't have anything to say. I used to think I would never get married - because I wouldn't be good wife...

Silliness. All of it. Turns out, I'm a pretty good cook! I love to blog - and a lot of people have said how much they enjoy reading it! And... I think I'm a good wife (and so does my hubby)! :)

There are so many things in our lives that we don't try out of fear of not being perfect! But it's often in the trying, that we learn about ourselves, we appreciate what we are good at, and we discover our uniqueness! I started a hand-written journal last week - it's not pretty, and my hand cramps everytime I write in it... But it's a way to see what's really on my mind! I've decided I'd like to try to make a quilt. It's a new art form for me, and one I may not be any good at - but I'd like to try! (I have many cool ladies in my life that quilt... maybe they'll be willing to help?) And if my job goes in the direction it seems to be heading... I may be taking some big leadership roles soon... Better get used to that idea!

So here's to appreciating the "cracks" - and letting your light shine through!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Being asked to do a "house blessing" - I'm honored!
2. Lunch with my staff - Happy Birthday, ladies!
3. Jeremy's willingness to help.
4. A new window in my office!
5. Book group tonight.
6. A snowy - and beautiful - drive home.
7. Friends willing to pray for each other.
8. Melissa's thankfulness.
9. The book, Speaking of Faith - opening my eyes to new ways of talking about faith.
10. No sore muscles after our hike yesterday! :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents' Day

Today was a great way to start the week! The hubby had the day off - so I worked in the morning, he did stuff around the house, then we went to Afton State Park for a hike, and came home to make a great "comfort food" dinner. If only every Monday were like this...
Here are some pictures from our hike:

(Mike and Bailey walking ahead - Mike's wearing his pack to get ready for another backpacking trip this summer.)
(Bailey, thinking she's in her own little world, I'm sure.)
(Isn't this beautiful? Who thought fungus could be this pretty in the winter?)
(Enjoying the fresh air!)
(Icicles under the old railroad bridge - they were huge!)
(The prairie looked so pretty.)
(I love birdhouses - if only a little bird graced the scene!)

Things I am thankful for today:
1. A good dentist appointment - perfect teeth! Yeah!
2. A productive morning.
3. A flexible schedule.
4. The hubby's dedication to solving problems.
5. A fun walk this afternoon - and no asthma attack!
6. Bald eagles.
7. My camera.
8. My friend Amanda - calling to wish us a happy Valentines Day!
9. My sister Kayla - got trophies in her speech tournament!
10. A great weekend - feeling relaxed and energized!

Sunday, February 15, 2009


"For faith to be alive and to deepen we need to use our power to inquire, to wonder, to explore our experience to see what is true for ourselves. This requires us to approach life with an inquisitive, eager, self-confident capacity to probe and question. It requires us to examine where we place our faith, and why, to see if it makes us more aware and loving people. To develop a verified faith we need to open to the messiness, the discordance, the ambivalence, and, above all, the vital life-force of questioning. If we don’t, our faith can wither. If we don’t, our faith will always remain in the hands of someone else, as something we borrow or abjure, but not as something we can claim fully as our own."
--Sharon Salzberg, from "Faith"

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Church - and all the people there.
2. My Confirmands - surprise me and make me laugh!
3. Emmy and her family doing well!
4. "The Amazing Race" premiere!
5. Leftovers - lunch and dessert!
6. A trip to Trader Joe's - all kinds of new things to try.
7. The hubby has tomorrow off of work.
8. The dog snoring.
9. Sister-in-law's good Valentines and birthday with a GOOD boyfriend!
10. A beautiful sunset.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Day!

"Where there is great love there are always miracles."
-- Willa Cather

Things I am thankful for today:

1. A successful breakfast! Biscuits with strawberries, grand marnier and cream. YUM!
2. A long nap...
3. Fun at the library and book store with the hubby - looking for books about Ireland.
4. Went to see "Slumdog Millionaire" - GREAT movie! (First one we've seen in a theater in maybe 6 months...)
5. The smell of chocolate cake in the oven... (Chocolate Almond Berry Torte in the works...)

6. Long talks about our past and future over yummy cocktails. :)
7. Blue skies! (ALL DAY!)
8. The PERFECT tomato soup! (We tried a bunch of new recipes this weekend - can you tell?)
9. Fun and relaxed Valentines weekend.
10. A happy marriage. He's great. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fun - Feb. 13th

No deep thoughts today - I have Valentine prep to do! :) So here's another get-to-know you game - feel free to pass it on!

1. Where did you grow up? Several places, but mostly Ohio, California, and Minnesota

2. Where did you go to school? Elementary School in Ohio, Junior High in California, High School in Minnesota, College in Wisconsin

3. Did you have a special place where you went to be alone as a child? We had a huge oak tree in our backyard in Ohio. It had a tire swing, and a perfect hiding place behind it. That was my "quiet" place until we moved in 5th grade.

4. How did you rebel as a child? Mom loves this story! Once, when I was really mad at her, and I was very young, I went into the bathroom and rubbed her toothbrush on the bar of soap. I then completely forgot about it until I saw her go in the bathroom - then I braced myself for the consequences... Fortunately, Mom noticed something was wrong with her toothbrush before she put it in her mouth... I heard her laughing - she couldn't help herself! I didn't get in trouble - but I never tried anything like that again, either!

5. What did you hide from your parents? The fact that the neighborhood kids and I would often walk to school... We'd wait near the bus-stop until the bus left (in case our parents were checking on us), then we'd walk to school. I'm not really sure why... I guess we felt cool, free, and sneaky. But hey, we got some good exercise!

6. Do you consider your childhood a happy one? Yes! Most of my childhood was spent in Ohio, in elementary school. I wasn't a popular kid, in fact I was very shy and awkward, but I had a few close friends that I always had a lot of fun with; my family did a lot of cool things together; we loved our church and the things we were involved in there; our grandparents spoiled us whenever they were around - we knew we were loved. Even when we up and moved to California, to me it was a great adventure! I loved the "new beginnings"!

7. What is your saddest childhood memory? From my childhood... I think the two times I saw my dad cry. The first time I was only 4 years old, maybe. He came home from putting our cat, Al, to sleep and he and my mom hugged and cried. I remember wondering what could be so sad to make Daddy cry? The next time was in 5th grade when my grandma, Baba, died. That's actually an interesting story. I was at school and my teacher's aunt died, the principal came to teach our class for the rest of the day and informed us what happened. I looked at my best friend and told her that my grandma was very sick and "could die today, too." Literally, 2 minutes later I was called to the office with my things to go home. Mom met me in the hallway and told me that Baba had died. Weird! I remember the drive home and what a beautiful, sunny day it was; and I remember walking into my parents' bedroom and watching Dad pack to go be with his family - and crying. I think it's always so disconcerting for a little "Daddy's girl" to see her dad so sad... And to realize that he's human afterall, not superman - but actually vulnerable. I love that side of my dad.

8. What was your most memorable toy? Oscar the gorilla. I did a report on gorillas in 4th grade, maybe, and decided I wanted to be the next Diane Fossey and live in the jungles of Rwanda with the gorillas. So for my birthday, my sister got me this funny stuffed gorilla - that just looked grumpy as can be! Hence, the name Oscar. He's still my favorite!

9. Did you ever run away from home? Ha ha ha! I was going to. When I was probably four years old, I was mad at Mom and decided I was done. I was leaving for good. I packed up my favorite toys and headed for the door. Mom was in the living room and asked what I was doing - when I told her I was running away - she offered to send a snack with me! Man, talk about deflating! I think I hid in the neighbor's backyard for awhile and then came home. Mom, graciously, acted like nothing had happened - but I'm sure she had a good laugh about it!

10. What about being a child do you miss the most? The endless possibilities and creativity. Imagination without limitations. Anything was possible when you didn't know how the world worked!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Childhood memories.
2. Bailey's getting her haircut! And the nice people that do the job!

(Bailey before... with 5 months of hair growth...)

(Bailey after her haircut... Oh dear... Poor thing...)

3. Fun plans with the hubby this weekend.
4. Yummy new pub in Hudson - Paddy O'Briens!
5. The sweet man at the vet teary-eyed over his dog. Animal lovers get me everytime!
6. Fitting in to old clothes!
7. My home. So cozy and a sanctuary from the outside world.
8. More new recipes - I'm a cookin' machine! LOL
9. Live Irish music. Gotta love it.
10. A fun, brisk walk - nice to have no ice on the sidewalks!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


"Do you really want to be happy? Just pay attention and be kind, unconditionally kind, on this breath alone. Forget about the future. Just this breath. No matter what the circumstances, just be kind. Friend, lover, family member, someone who seems to hate you, someone you've never met on the street, your own soft animal body. Just be kind, in whatever way is appropriate. Everything else will work itself out, and you will begin to sense your own Pure Heart everywhere. How amazing. Very simple. Just be kind. Only on this breath."
-- Scott Morrison

Wouldn't the world be a better place if we could all just set aside our pettiness? Our judgements? Our criticisms? Our insecurities? Our impatience? Our cynical natures? Hmmm... So simple. Don't worry about the future, the past, or anything else. Just be kind. Right now. To whoever you meet - including yourself. I'll be working on this - will you join me?

To a simpler - and kinder - world!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. A newly painted office!
2. Diane reminded us that Sunday is national Gum Drop day! How funny is that?!
3. I felt good about myself in dressing room lighting! Whoa!
4. The sun was out for a little bit... Nice to know it still exists!
5. I watched a nice story about a man named, Earl, in Apple Valley that works in a flower shop - and loves to make people smile! Makes me want to go buy some flowers from him. He's living out kindness! Check it out at:
6. The hubby always offers his arm when we walk over ice on our nightly walks. :)
7. Pictures of old friends' kids!
8. Hubby's working a half day tomorrow!
9. Crazy lady on "Survivor" makes me laugh.
10. Popcorn. Yum.

11. I had to add it - I LOVE gorillas! There was a story on the news about a baby gorilla being born in San Francisco... I had to find a picture - so cute!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Divine Discontent

"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness... Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying, 'You are accepted.'"
-- Paul Johannes Tillich

"Discontent and disorder [are] signs of energy and hope, not of despair."
-- Dame Cicely Veronica Wedgwood

Do you ever have one of those days, where you just feel restless? It's weird. I'm totally content with my life in general... But there are areas where I just feel like I could be doing so much more! I'm restless, I'm discontented, I'm impatient. And I thought this was feeling discouraged and hopeless. Then I found these quotes in my daily reading.

Aha! A light in the darkness... Energy... Hope... I think I'm going to start channeling the restless energy into the new ideas and action! Onward, and upward - right?!

Here's to Wednesdays - and to renewed energy!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Oversleeping. Yes, I needed it.
2. A good staff meeting.
3. Marsha - dealing with cancer with a sense of humor.
4. Pastor Rod seems excited about his new appointment.
5. "Girl talk" with Mom.
6. Valentine's day is coming up!
7. Dawn's passion for everyone's geneology.
8. White wine and LOST - gotta love it!
9. Bailey's burps. LOL (She woke me up this morning, nose to nose, and a loud burp in the face... Yes, my dog has class!)
10. Adele's song "Chasing Pavement."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Ahhh... A frustrating day. My computer decided to disconnect from the internet on its own yesterday - and since then, our home computer and three computers at my church office have also decided to disconnect... I think I'm cursed. I'm typing now on (I think) borrowed time.

I found this poem about Grace in our days... I think I need it today!

"Oh, God, give me grace for this day.
Not for a lifetime, or for next week, nor
for tomorrow, just for this day.
Direct my thoughts and bless them,
Direct my work and bless it.
Direct the things I say, and give them blessing, too.
Direct and bless everything that I think and speak
and do. So that for this one day, just this one
day, I have the gift of grace that comes from
your presence..."
-- Marjorie Holmes, "Just for Today"

Things I'm thankful for today:

1. Pastor Penny is back!
2. A few minutes connected to the internet.
3. Book group tonight - a field trip to a quilt show and out to coffee!
(The Dakota County Star Quilters!)
(One of my favorites of Carol's quilts!)
(Another favorite of Carol's - her "United Methodist Quilt" - complete with John Wesley quote!)(The ladies - such a fun and interesting group! I'm blessed to be able to call them friends!)

4. String cheese.
5. Shared concerns.
6. Journaling.
7. Open minds and hearts.
8. Angel perfume.
9. Birthday lunches.
10. Windless nights.
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