Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallow's Eve Magic

"O daughter of She, much power has been gifted to you. It is the power of Love. Tonight, by candlelight or by the light of the full moon in your backyard, commit to use your power wisely for the Highest Good of all. You have no idea of the countless lives you touch in the course of your lifetime. Souls searching for Wholeness that could be healed with the magic at your command. Go directly to the Source. Acknowledge your lineage and your authentic gifts with a grateful heart. "I am sure there is Magic in everything," Frances Hodgson Burnett observed. "only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us."

"Now we do."
--Simple Abundance

Halloween! What a fun day! We spent the first part of the day at a UNICEF Carnival at my church - all kinds of fun! We were surrounded by witches, storm troppers, bumblebees, princesses, cowboys, firemen, the Gilligan's Island crew, clowns, and a Travelocity Travel Gnome! (The hubby and I just threw on our backpacking gear this year... Nothing too creative, until the hubby reminded me that this was our own version of "Heaven and Hell." I'll let you figure out who was who! Ha ha ha.)
Then we came home and took some naps... We were out late last night for the concert, and any big church event sucks the energy right out of me! But after our naps, we planned some fabulous meals for the rest of the weekend and went grocery shopping - we got home just in time for Trick-or-Treators! Yeah - a whole 8 kids in three hours. We have a lot of left over Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!

It was a slow night, but we've started our own traditions on Halloween - a yummy, homemade dinner, candlelight, good music, and Trivial Pursuit in front of the fireplace. (We made the Barefoot Contessa's "Croque Monsieur" tonight - ooey, gooey, baked ham and cheese sandwich. Delish!)

I hope you had a nice Halloween!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. The hubby kept the dog busy so I could sleep in. Then they both woke me up - so cute!
2. A great turnout at the UNICEF carnival! Double what we've had in past years!
3. Lots of laughter and smiles.
4. Fun playing with the little kids.
5. Football - always lures me into a nap.
6. Penny lending me her Barefoot Contessa in Paris Cookbook. Yum-o.
7. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
8. Croque Monsieur - who knew?!
9. Our dog being so excited for the kids who came to our door. So funny.
10. A warm cozy night at home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fave Five - October 30th

It's Friday!!! Yippeee! Here are my Friday Fave Five things of the week - if you'd like to take part, link up at Suzanne's Living To Tell the Story!

1. Ohmygosh! There's blue sky outside my window right now! We haven't seen much of that this week... Sunshine and blue sky is easily one of my favorite things of the week!

2. Feeling inspired and excited about work. We're planning some fun things to really connect people to different ways of living out their faith over the course of the next year - I'm having a lot of fun with the planning process!

3. Sunday, I got to introduce our new music director's daughter (a 3rd grader) to our church. I sat with her in worship and introduced her to a lot of people - she was so cute and fun. The best was when she looked up at me and said, "I think I'm going to really like this church!" Made my heart melt...

4. Book Group this week was so fun! We talked about the book, we laughed, we laughed, we talked about stuff going on in our lives, we laughed some more. I needed it. They're great ladies!

5. Tonight we're going out to dinner and to a David Gray concert. I know it hasn't happened yet - but it will be great! We could both use a fun night out!

Have a good Friday!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Blue skies.
2. A day off.
3. The hubby only worked a half day!
4. Easy, cheap, parking downtown!
5. Finding a seat at the bar at the Rock Bottom Brewery - the place was PACKED!
6. An awesome bartender - he was attentive, funny, busy, professional, and so nice! I would go back just to see him again. (He got a great tip!)
7. A yummy dinner, too! BBQ pork sandwich and mac and cheese!
8. A wonderful concert! So much MORE than I expected!
(This is one of my favorite parts of the Orpheum Theatre - isn't that ceiling beautiful? It looks like velvet... I always want to reach out and touch it!)

9. I love disco balls and the special effects that come from them... During one song, it looked like it was snowing in the theatre. Beautiful!
10. The song, "This Year's Love."

Thursday, October 29, 2009


"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
--Mahatma Gandhi

Friday will be here in 25 minutes. It's my day off. And we're going to see David Gray in concert. I think it's going to be a good day. I will say it's a good day. I'm pretty darn sure they will be in harmony. I'm happy.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Getting up on time.
2. Sting's new album - I love the song, "Soul Cakes."
3. Adele's version of "To Make You Feel My Love." Great song.
4. I got my new boots today! My feet are happy!
5. Dinner with the hubby at a favorite cafe.
6. Emailing with my brother-in-law. He's a good guy.
7. The dog being oh-so-playful tonight!
8. Finally being home to watch "Grey's Anatomy" with the hubby.
9. Looking forward to tomorrow.
10. Oh! My little sis was accepted to both the colleges she's deciding between! Congrats, Kay!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ladies of Grace - October 28th

I believe the blog carnival "Ladies of Grace" has been discontinued... But I'm stubborn. I like the idea of looking back over my last week and noticing when grace entered - or didn't enter - into my life in some way. If you have a story to share - when your heart was warmed or softened, or cold and hardened, by a situation - please leave a note in my comments! I really think we learn from each other when we share these parts of our lives!

This week, I will suck it up and share a common situation when my heart is not so graceful... Ready? Not only am I stubborn, I'm also impatient. There, I said it.

I've been in a lot of meetings last week and this week where people are supposed to ask questions and share ideas... and I get so frustrated with people that seem to be off in their own worlds or ask the same questions over and over... or simply cannot understand the goal or project at hand. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who gets annoyed by this, right?

It's selfish and stupid of me - and it just proves that I'm not the entirely open-minded, patient person that I like to think I am.

So that's my prayer this week - that God will open my mind and heart, strengthen my patience, and help me to see where others are coming from, and be more kind in guiding them back to the focus of the discussion.

We all have faults. This is one of mine. Care to share yours?

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Oversleeping. Not good, but much needed.
2. A fun visit with Michele today!
3. The whole church smelled like turkey and pie all day long.
4. Getting lots of work done amidst the chaos.
5. It's been a good week to work with my pastor. Lots of fun.
6. Greeting people tonight at the Turkey Dinner.
7. My first turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and pumpkin pie dinner of the season!
8. Meeting Lance tonight - a man that goes to different church dinners all over the metro area just for the good food and meeting new people! So interesting!
9. A hot shower...
10. My hubby. I like him a lot.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Money - Blech

"The problem of money dogs our steps throughout the whole of our lives, exerting a pressure that, in its way, is as powerful and insistent as any other problem of human existance. And it haunts the spiritual search as well."
--Jacob Needleham

"Think of our relationship to nature, to ideas, to pleasure," he challenges us. "Think of our sense of self-identity and self-respect; think of where we live and with what things we surround ourselves; think of all our impulses to help others or serve a large cause; where we go, how we travel, with whom we associate - or just think of what you were doing yesterday, or what you will be doing tomorrow, or in an hour. The money factor is there, wrapped around or lodged inside everything. Think of what you want or what you dream of, for now, or next year, or for the rest of your life. It will take money, a certain, definite amount."
--Simple Abundance, quoting Jacob Needleham

I spent most of my day yesterday reading about the Spiritual Discipline of Stewardship and Generosity for work. We're planning to focus each month of the coming year around one of the Spiritual Disciplines, or practices, and we're starting off with a BANG - talking about money and giving! So I started educating myself this weekend - and the more I read, the more I was thinking about how I spend money - where and for what.

As the holiday catalogs are already rolling in (I had 6 in the mail just yesterday!), and as we look ahead to talking about the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity throughout Advent... It's making me take another look at how we give gifts, how we buy ourselves those things that have great sales at Christmas, how we save for the future, and how we give some away...

Today's reading in Simple Abundance talks about our spending habits (how appropriate, huh?). It encourages you to look back over your life - all the jobs you've had, the big ones and the baby-sitting or dog-sitting - and start to estimate how much money you have earned in your life... Depending on your age and salaries, you could have let millions of dollars slip through your fingers already! That's just crazy to think about...

Then, the book suggests, that for one week you write down every penny you spend and whether you used cash, credit, or check. At the end of the week, list your expenditures under these headings: Necessities, Comforts, Wants, Indulgences, Extravagances, Insanity (and I would add, Charity). At the end of the process, look over your list - what purchases were worth it? What made you smile? What made you feel regret? What could you have passed on? And how much money would you have saved if you had skipped the purchases that made you sigh?

I don't know about you, but I crave a simpler life. I crave to live differently - more simply, and less in the rat race to be like everyone else. So this is where I'm going to start... I don't think it's going to be easy - but maybe this is just the re-focusing I need to get me started!

I leave you today with a prayer I found in my readings this weekend:
(Take a dollar bill out of your wallet and place it in front of you with the "In God We Trust" facing you.)
"Guard me against the arrogance of privilege, against the indulgence of feeling that I don't have enough, and the poverty of spirit that refuses to acknowledge what is daily given to me. Keep me truthful in knowing where I spend, where my values actually are. Let me not skip this monthly knowing. Instruct me in judicious spending and in gratitude with no holds barred."
--Gunilla Norris

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Sore muscles from working out yesterday.
2. The hubby bought me cereal.
3. Everyone liked my ideas today! Woo-hoo!
4. I really like our new music director - she's cool.
5. Getting lots of chances to be helpful to people.
6. Signing up to do The Walk to End Hunger on Thanksgiving! (The Walk raises money for the local food shelves in the Twin Cities area - I'm walking specifically to support Neighbor's Inc.)
7. Most of my book group doing the Walk with me!
8. Book group was back to normal tonight - good discussion, lots of laughs, supportive friends.
9. The hubby cleaned the bathrooms!
10. Diane's chocolate chip banana bread recipe - yum-o!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - October 26th Edition

I'm baaaaack! Sorry about the week off - I just needed it. I've been sick with a bad cold, and had a busy week at work - and I just needed to "step away from the blog" for a few days. I was scolded by my parents yesterday as they informed me that people all over the world anticipate reading my blog every day and that I was letting them down! Ha ha ha.

I'm so grateful for each and every one of you that stop by! If you have a moment today, leave me a note to say "hi!" I'd love to come visit your blog or simply acknowledge your visit with a "hello to you too!"

I hope you have a blessed Monday!

For Today...

Outside my window... gray skies, slight breeze, beautiful red and orange trees - at least it's not snowing today! I am thankful... for a fun evening with my family last night. Lots of laughing and telling stories from my childhood - very funny! (Apparently I was really rude on the phone as a kid - I wouldn't talk, and then I would just hang up... Funny, I'm still not much of a conversationalist on the phone... Oh! And the story of me trying to put Mom in a better mood at the dinner table - I think I was about five years old and Mom was crabby - so I sat across from her wiggling my eyebrows as fast as I could to make her giggle. It worked - and it still does! Ha ha ha. My hubby said I do it to him when I've gone shopping and he asks me if my clothes are new... Apparently it works with him, too!)
From the kitchen... hopefully, simple and healthy food this week. My stomach has been a little finicky ever since I got sick last weekend... So we're keeping it light!
I am wearing... Ha ha ha. Pajama pants - pink, white, red, and lime green candy striped! A red tank top. And a red cardigan sweater. Another cozy Monday at home!
I am creating... ideas for a Halloween costume for the hubby and I. We've had a lot of ideas, but nothing has stuck yet... Suggestions? (If you give us an idea and we go with it - I'll send you a $5.00 gift card to Caribou Coffee!)
I am going... to the David Gray concert this Friday! I'm SO excited! If you don't know David Gray, click here for one of my favorite songs of his. Good stuff!
I am reading... "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus Christ," by Peter Gomes, and "An Echo in the Bone" by Diana Gabaldon.
I am hoping... for some sunshine. These gray days are keeping me tired! I'm in need of some ENERGY!
I am hearing... the tv in the background (Waiting for the Bonnie Hunt Show to start. The Pioneer Woman is making an appearance today!).
Some plans for the week... work, book group, open sanctuary, meetings, the concert, a UNICEF Halloween party with the kids from church, and who knows what else may pop up?!
One of my favorite things... one of my youth group kids is dressing up as the Travelocity Travel Gnome. I LOVE IT! I can't wait to see him, I probably won't stop giggling.
A picture thought I am sharing: Dinner at my parents' last night. Mom did good work! Chicken Parmesan and Acorn Squash - both a la Pioneer Woman's recipes. Yum.
Things I am thankful for today:

1. Other blogs - so fun to read! TheProvidentWoman is having a "sweet" giveaway this week! Check her out here!
2. "Fainting goats" video. Makes me chuckle! (Don't worry - it's genetic, they're ok!)
3. An hour workout! Yeah me!
4. Feeling really excited about stuff at work.
5. Going for a nice long walk with the hubby and the dog.
6. Little kids asking to pet our dog - she loves it!
7. Making chocolate chip banana bread.
8. The hubby and his experiments... Makes me laugh.
9. My stomach seems to be much better! Finally!
10. My Pioneer Woman cookbook shipped today! Should be a fun weekend of trying new recipes!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - October 19th Edition

For Today...

Outside my window... another gray fall day. But kind of warm - 55 degrees! Our neighborhood trees have finally turned red and orange and yellow - they're a little muted this year, but still so pretty!
I am thankful... for a quiet day at home.
From the kitchen... turkey apple sandwiches - my new favorite!
I am wearing... black sweat capris and a natural colored henley top. Comfy cozy!
I am creating... my newsletter page for work... I'm a little behind this week already!
I am going... out for dinner tonight. I'm hoping for some yummy soup... That would be splendid!
I am reading... "So You Want to be a Innkeeper" and "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus Christ," by Peter Gomes, and "An Echo in the Bone" by Diana Gabaldon.
I am hoping... that I feel better very soon! I have a very busy week!
I am hearing... the tv in the background (another "sell your gold" commercial - blech).
Some plans for the week... dinner out tonight with a friend, book group tomorrow, a high school football game on Wed, open sanctuary and a meeting on Thurs, and Fri and Sat to relax!
One of my favorite things... chai tea. Makes everything better.
A picture thought I am sharing: This picture of my dog makes me laugh everytime - doesn't she look like one of those old crabby-looking teddy bears?! Ha ha ha!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Forgiving Others

A few people have asked for copies of the sermon I gave today, so I thought I'd post it here... I've never posted a sermon publicly before... (This will probably decide if I ever do it again...) So here goes!

Sermon for Oct. 18, 2009 - "Forgiving Others - The Unforgiving Servant"

"We’ve been talking about forgiveness for several weeks now – what it is, why we do it, what it feels like to be forgiven… So, today we turn to one of the hardest parts (at least, for me) – forgiving others. Just moments ago, we recited the Lord’s Prayer together – something so familiar, that we often say it without thinking about what the words mean. What about the line, “forgive our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”? Sometimes the words “debt and debtors” are used – either way, “forgive me so I can forgive others.”

Let’s play with the image of debts for a moment… In the book of Deuteronomy, God commands Israel to cancel debts every seven years. Imagine that! Think for a moment of all the debts you may have – financial, time, work… It adds up to a lot, doesn’t it? Now what would it be like to suddenly discover that all your debts were paid in full – completely canceled out with no strings or obligations? I’d say that would be a miracle and call for a HUGE celebration!

Now I ask you to look at it from the other side. I ask you to take a moment and think of the debts that you hold against other people. I invite you later today or this week to use the insert in your bulletin to really think this through – who do you hold debts against, and why? And my question to you, is what would it take for you to let one of those debts go and mark it “paid in full?”

We pray all the time, “forgive my debts as I forgive my debtors.” What would it take for you to be able to live that statement out – with the grace of God?

Our Bible story today, is of the unforgiving servant. It begins with Peter asking Jesus how many times we should be expected to forgive someone – 7? I can almost see Jesus shake his head and chuckle as he says, “Peter… Forgiveness has nothing to do with numbers or math… Let me tell you a story.”

From the Message, Matthew 18:23-33:
23-25"The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
26-27"The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
28"The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'
29-31"The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.
32-35"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?'

When have you felt like the first slave – knowing that you owe God everything you are and have, and yet – that you are forgiven?
And when have you been the slave attacking the debtor? How many people in your life do you hold captive for hurting you? How many have you thrown in a “debtors prison” – when you yourself have been freed? You know who those people are… You know by what you think of them, how you speak to them – or avoid them, how you daydream about them getting their due…

And what would it look and feel like if you were able to free them? Free them from their prison in your heart – and free yourself from the weight and burden of the work it takes to keep them in their debt. What would it be like if you were both free? If the debt was canceled?
Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. Forgiveness from our creator and our God is an extraordinary gift. This gift gives us hope for a new tomorrow – as well as hope towards new relationships with those who have hurt us. But forgiveness is not easy.

In James 2:13, we learn that in God’s heart, “mercy triumphs over judgment.” Wow! What wonderful news for us! That is amazingly good news as I stand before God with my failures hanging out… But sometimes, when I look at those who have stung me, disappointed me, and hurt me to the core - Sometimes I wonder if that same divine mercy should fall on those who have sinned so much worse than me?! I don’t know about you, but when someone has hurt me – their offense seems so much worse than anything I have ever done!

And that’s part of what makes forgiving so hard to do! Our emotions – anger, hurt, sadness, bitterness – can so easily get in the way… We pray, “forgive me my trespasses (or debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us,” but often we find ourselves unable or unwilling to forgive as God forgives because our emotions get in the way of mercy. We know the right thing to do – but sometimes we just can’t seem to bring ourselves to do it.

You’re holding a rock in your hand today… As we continue our discussion about forgiveness, as we speak of those hurts that have cut us deeply, as we consider those people in our lives that we are no longer in whole relationships with – I invite you to feel the weight of that rock, to think of that rock as one of those broken relationships. Feel the weight, the hardness, the coolness… And hold on to it for a few moments.

When someone offends or hurts you – what is your first response – or instinct to respond? I don’t know about you – but mine is to strike back, to retaliate. I want to hurt or offend that other person in much the same way they did it to me. Whether it be with words, actions, the silent treatment… It’s a human response to counterattack in some way - to make the other person feel our pain. We may even want them to experience something worse – just to make sure they get the point! This is what leads to escalating violence – something we see on our playgrounds, in the news, in our politics… This is hardly how Jesus teaches us to live.

In fact, Jesus said at one point, “If a man strikes you on the left cheek, show him the other one.” In other words, overcome evil with good. This is not a natural instinct. To return good for evil, to bless and not curse our enemies – to most, this would appear to be giving in, or trying to be a martyr. It would make us seem like wimps, wouldn’t it? As I thought about this, I thought of a line in our Book Group’s current book – The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus – Peter Gomes says “In an analysis of why traditional stories about Jesus do not appeal to contemporary young people, I read that one respondent said that, according to what he read in the Bible, Jesus is a wimp. Jesus would never make it in the average contemporary American high school, the respondent suggested, and therefore trying to do what Jesus did is either impossible, as he is, after all, the son of God, or undesirable, for in terms of the world he doesn’t win.”

To return good for evil, to bless and not curse our enemies… can seem like we have become doormats – OR – it can be a choice to choose nonviolent power and self-respect, which is part of healthy forgiveness. It is the freedom to claim our own power to make our own choice – and not give in to the ways of the world.

Are you still holding onto your rocks? Just because we make the choice to face a situation with good, doesn’t mean that when we are treated unfairly we won’t feel hurt and angry. Our hurt feelings are justified and we need to find a way to deal with those feelings in a way that allows us to hurt, while not hurting others in return. One way to begin to deal with them is to write them out. Think of the Psalms (if you’re not familiar with the Psalms – flip through them this afternoon) – they express every human emotion – anger, sadness, hatred, hostility and helplessness… They lament in grief and anguish. They are honest and raw. It may not seem the nicest way to handle a situation – to write such horrible feelings down – but God is with us in those dark moments. God wants to hear the honesty of what is on our hearts. God wants to soothe those hurts – and sometimes we have to name them, before they can begin to heal.

Maybe you’re not one to write things down – maybe you need to talk it out. Find someone you trust, a “neutral” person, someone who will listen and not judge, someone who will allow you to talk and cry and yell and moan… someone who will be with you as you struggle with the feelings that accompany being so deeply hurt. To be able to name the feelings and injustices done to you, and to be heard – can be a huge step on the road to forgiving another. I know in this community, Pastor Penny and I would be more than willing to listen and pray – anytime. In fact, we do it all the time! We can’t forgive for you – but we can certainly walk that road with you…

Another thing to remember: Forgiveness doesn’t happen in a single moment. It’s more of a “journey undertaken in hope, in company with God’s guiding Spirit.” Isn’t that a beautiful way to think about it? One of the resources I read this week put it that way – and I thought it was such a different way of seeing this thing called forgiveness. It’s an ongoing process with God by my side, and it takes time. It’s learning a whole new way of life in Christ. It forces us to look at our daily lives, our attitudes and practices - like truthfulness, humility, perseverance, generosity of spirit, and compassion. It’s learning to walk all over again – walking with God.

Not every child learns to walk in the same way, or in the same amount of time – and not every person will go through the journey of forgiveness in the same steps. I can’t possibly know your situation as you can’t possibly know mine. There are things in my life that anger me, that make my heart ache, that make me want to scream – or weep. And while, sometimes I think these things are so horrible – I know there are worse situations out there. You may be dealing with a situation far worse than mine, something I may never understand… We’re not here to judge one another’s journeys – only to support and learn and grow alongside.

In the Sermon Feedback group this week, as they discussed forgiveness, the book “The Shack” came up as one understanding. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. You may not resonate with all of it – but there are some wonderful images of God’s love and forgiveness in it. I came across one commentary this week that sums it up very nicely – this is from Rev. John Marks Hicks:
“God wants to redeem even those who have wounded us and he prefers mercy for them just as he preferred it for us. Our act of forgiveness releases them to God and takes the burden off us. We can let go of resentment, bitterness, and vengeance as we leave it in the hands of God. (Drop another rock…)
“Forgiving someone does not excuse their actions, but it does release them from our judgment into the hands of God who will handle the justice in the world. Forgiveness means that we are no longer vindictive, seeking to do the other harm. We no longer take them by the throat but hand them over to God.
…And not only do we release them to God, “we also release ourselves from the weight of resentment which is too heavy to bear and will only sour the sweetness in our lives.” (Drop another rock…)

But we can’t expect to walk before we crawl! Maybe the offense or hurt you carry with you is too big to forgive all at once… that’s ok. Sometimes, we need to start by learning to forgive the minor infractions that occur in our daily lives, first!

Someone in this congregation, who shall remain nameless, started an experiment on their blog a few months ago – an experiment in grace. They asked their blog followers, once a week, to take a moment and notice where you experienced grace in your week – did someone extend a grace to you? Were you able to put aside a cold or hard heart to extend grace to someone else? One of the first weeks this experiment was going on, I was on my way to work and I got cut off on 494 so rudely and abruptly that I nearly crashed into the concrete median! I was angry, muttered some unkind things under my breath, and stewed in my own injustice for a moment… And then, slowly I began to wonder why she was in such a hurry? Was her child sick? Was her parent dying? Was she experiencing a health crisis? In the scheme of the day, it was a minor infraction – but it’s something I could have held onto ALL day – and been really grumpy about. Instead, I chose to pray for her. I prayed that she was ok and that God would calm her heart (and her foot on the accelerator) so that she wouldn’t hurt someone else in her rush… It was a small token of forgiveness – but it was a weight that I no longer carried into my day.

When we can decide to offer forgiveness on the little things in our lives, we gradually develop new habits that help us to see people in fresh ways. We can open our eyes to new perspectives that maybe we never would have considered before. I guarantee, before this experience, I would have wrote her off as being rude, selfish, and uncaring about other people on the road! But a prompt from the Spirit (and a fellow blogger) made me take a breath and put myself in her shoes… give her the benefit of the doubt… and forgive her. A small step that day – but a huge leap in how I choose to offer and receive forgiveness now.

Sometimes it simply takes hearing the other person’s story – hearing their side of things. Sometimes, the resistance of our heart can melt away when we are able to see the whole picture! There is so much we do not see and cannot know about those who wound us. This is yet another reason, why ultimately, we need to find a way to give them over to God. Only God knows the deepest recesses of our hearts – and our offenders’ hearts…

While we may strive to understand – understanding is not the same as forgiveness, but it can set the stage for it. People do what they do for many reasons – but reasons are not excuses, they just might help us get past our emotional blocks, to a more merciful response.

And when we are able to hold on to that merciful heart – and find it within ourselves to forgive – the healing that occurs within us has no limits. It is a gift of freedom – of healing and empowerment! We are able to release the corrosive effect of anger and bitterness in our own souls and find peace. It empowers us to make a choice to become whole instead of becoming our wounds. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations wrote this:
“Be the first to forgive. For by forgiving you become the master of fate, the fashioner of life, the doer of miracles!”
I love that!

We are freed in the act of forgiving – but it’s more than a self-healing that we are after, as Christians. The act of forgiving also contains the hope of change and redemption for the other person. I read somewhere, I think on another blog this week, that when the writer decides they need to forgive someone, they actively pray for the person every day for a month. At the beginning, they don’t want to forgive the other – but they start praying. As they continue this process, they notice their heart softening, they find themselves praying more sincerely as time goes by until they really do want a better life for the other – they really do want God’s grace to surround the other – they really do forgive. At some point, we find ourselves hoping that not only will I be able to forgive the other – but that God will show mercy as well… It’s no longer about me – it’s about the other person, and hoping that God will be present in their lives.

As we begin to live our lives with a greater capacity for mercy – we find our hearts expanding by God’s grace.

Another quote from my studies this week: Do not keep accounts with our Lord… Go bankrupt! Let our Lord love you without justice! Say frankly, ‘He loves me because I do not deserve it… that is why I, in my turn, love Him as well as I can.’ Therefore, burn your account books!”

Burn your account books! Release your prisoners one by one. Close down your dungeon. Free yourself and those others that have weighed you down for so long…

Let us pray:
Gracious God, Forgiving God – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the mercy beyond justice that you have shown us! We thank you that we are released from that prison – and ask that you help each one of us to find the freedom and joy of relinquishing these burdens we carry. Help us to share in the divine life you call us to by guiding us on this journey of healing and forgiveness. We thank you, God. Amen."

At the end people had the option of coming forward and placing their rocks (which they were handed as they entered the sanctuary) in a glass bowl, filled with water, to represent a first step in forgiveness (whether it be they're ready to start praying about a situation, they're ready to forgive a person, or maybe the're ready to forgive themselves). It was to represent throwing those rocks into the deth of the sea, the waters washing away the debt. It was a powerful moment of reflection - about 50 people in our small congregation came forward. Beautiful! (I'm so proud of this congregation and the risks they're willing to take - they surprise me everytime!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Cold meds - I was so SICK today! It really makes you realize how much pastors deal with to preach every week...
2. Hot tea.
3. My helpful hubby.
4. A wonderful congregation that makes me smile and laugh - even when I don't feel well.
5. Supportive church friends.
6. Warm, fuzzy blankets.
7. Long naps!
8. Hot showers.
9. Nyquil. My friend.
10. A GOOD nights sleep!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


"If you have not slept, or if you have slept, or if you have a headache, or sciatica, or leprosy, or thunder-stroke, I beseech you, by all angels, to hold your peace, and not pollute the morning."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Complaints we know. Complaints we're good at. Most of us have already mastered the art of the complaint in all its many variations... Some of us spend half our lives griping. It's time to get a grip... Besides, it's all been heard before. There's nothing new under the sun.

"I'm not suggesting that we suppress our negative feelings. But the petty stuff we're often foaming at the mouth about isn't worth the breath it steals. Our words are powerful, so powerful that they can change our reality - the quality of our days and nights. Moaning rarely makes either us or those around us feel better. In fact, it often makes everyone feel worse. Learning to shrug is the beginning of wisdom."
--Simple Abundance

I'm always intrigued when my daily readings fall in line with what has been on my mind! It's a Twilight Zone moment in some ways - and in some ways, reminds me that I was meant to be pondering that subject...

A friend of mine asked a question the other day - why don't I write about more of my daily challenges on my blog? It's nice to be thankful, but wouldn't people appreciate a look at the things I struggle with, too? A question that has had me thinking and pondering all weekend.... And here's what I came up with:
1) I used to whine and complain a lot. And I didn't like that about myself.
2) Most of my daily struggles involve work or family - both of which are inappropriate to write about in such a public way. I have no intentions of hurting those close to me or publicly talking about those things. I really only feel like I can talk about my own personal issues - not things that involve others too much.
3) I have a good life. On a day to day basis, I don't think I have much to complain about...

But if you want to know what I struggle with on those icky days that sneak up on me? Here they are:
* Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?
* My weight.
* The issue of having - or not having - or adopting - kids.
* Dreams for the future - and wondering if I have what it takes to make them come true.
* Fear that I will one day have to deal with cancer - the real thing this time.
* Learning to speak up for myself, learning to speak my truth.
* Getting older... I know it's silly - but it sneaks up on you. White hairs, wrinkles, blech.
* Trying to be a better wife, friend, sister, daughter, etc.

These are all issues that I struggle with now and then - but daily? I just try to make it through the day, noticing the blessings in my life - and they outweigh the bad stuff by leaps and bounds! I've dealt with some pretty horrible things in my life - miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, pre-cervical cancer, losing multiple loved ones in one year, a breast lump, and many more things. Having a crappy day just doesn't measure up.

And so, as the quote above states, "our words are powerful, so powerful that they can change our reality - the quality of our days and nights." I write my blog about the things that are good in life because I truly believe it changes how I view my life - and I hope it can serve as a reminder to others to take notice of the little things as well... Those little, simple things make the hard things so much easier to deal with!

Thanks, Diane, for making me put it into words!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Friends that make me think!
2. I've made it through a lot of icky things in my life - and am still able to see the good!
3. A day to drive down the river and visit some very cute towns. (Especially Stockholm, WI - very cute!)
4. Ate lunch at the Harborview in Pepin, WI - Best lasagna ever. Fresh and yummy!
5. Ice cream from the Nelson Creamery in Nelson, WI. Wow.
6. The Ditchlilies - an "americana" duo playing at the Creamery - a nice surprise!
7. Beautiful fall colors.
8. Holding my hubby's hand.
9. Pumpkin cupcakes. (Sustenance for the road...)
10. Going to bed really early!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fave Five - October 16th

It's Friday! Here are my fave five for the week:

1. Going for a beautiful walk amongst the fall colors last Saturday morning! Snow on the ground, and colors in the trees - Fabulous!
2. Taking thirteen boys and men paintballing as a youth group activity last Sunday afternoon - they battled, and I sat around a campfire with another mom and enjoyed the day. We cooked out - hot dogs and chips - and just enjoyed the fun personalities of all involved! A good day!
3. I had most of my evenings this week at home! Whoa! It was so nice to come home, have dinner, and relax with the hubby almost every night this week. Weird...

4. Inspiration. I'm working on the worship service for this Sunday - leading and preaching. It's about forgiveness - forgiving others, to be more exact. I've had resources, people's input, and all kinds of ideas just falling into place. I love it when that happens!

5. My first bubble bath of the year! Hot water, bubbles, candles, a good book, and a glass of wine. Bliss.

If you'd like to join in and share your Fave Five of the week - head on over to Living to Tell the Story and link up!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. All your kind - and thought-provoking - notes!
2. A clean house for the weekend.
3. Out of all the errands I did today - at least a couple were successful!
4. Turkey, Apple, Brie paninis - keep watching, I'll be posting this recipe soon - it was WONDERFUL!
5. Apple butter - who knew?! I used to hate it... Now I love it!
6. A visit from Mom, Dad, and Kayla.
7. Kayla like Duluth! Who woulda thunk? (My little sister is looking at colleges... whoa.)
8. A "just because" call from my sister, Emily.
9. Finishing the first draft of my sermon... It's too long. What to cut out?
10. Sitting by the fire for a relaxing evening...

Thursday, October 15, 2009


"To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
--Henry David Thoreau

"We know now that there are many aspects to real life in which our opinion is neither sought nor required. Sometimes, despite our best efforts and positive thinking, health, fortune, and/or peace elude us. But the one thing we do have complete control over is the quality of our days. Even when we're grief stricken, racked with pain, sick from worry, deeply depressed, squeezed by circumstances - how we greet, meet, and complete each day is our choosing.

"For some time now I have been conducting a top-secret experiment with life, as Thoreau suggests we do. I wanted to see just how much influence I really had on the day's character. So the first words I speak in the morning are: 'Thank you for the gift of this wonderful day.'

"Here are the initial findings, but you will not like them. Nor did I.
* All days are wonderful in direct proportion to the creative energy invested in them. No investment, no return.
* Even lousy days possess hidden wonder. Sometimes all you need is a moment of attitude adjustment to shift your perception of an entire afternoon and move forward into a pleasant evening.
* Weather does not seem to affect the experiment. Gray, cold, and rainy days spent in an office are just as susceptible to the warming influence of enthusiasm as are sunny days spent lying in a hammock sipping sangria.
* Days that are expected to be wonderful before they begin turn out to be so much more frequently than days greeted with grumbling.
* The results of this experiment suggest that it doesn't matter whether a day is good or bad. What matters is what we do with it.

"We knew that."
--Simple Abundance

A great reminder as we head into yet ANOTHER gray, cold, rainy day! These dark, wet days are sapping me of my energy and enthusiasm. But yes, the day is what I make it - so, thank you, God, for another wonderful day! And away we go!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. The newest Dove body-image commercial. It makes me smile everytime.
2. Pumpkin candles.
3. Diane's help and patience with me!
4. A warm, cheerful office - on a rainy, gloomy day.
5. The hubby being SO EXCITED to baby-sit our god-daughter, Elly. So cute.
6. My parents' dog, Hershey, is staying with us tonight - her cuddles.
7. Looking forward to the weekend.
8. Time alone.
9. Maybe seeing an old youth group kid this weekend!
10. A note from Diane on my new whiteboard/bulletin board. Ha ha ha.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ladies of Grace - October 14th

My friend at Walk A Mile has decided to discontinue her blog carnival "Ladies of Grace." It wasn't catching on, people weren't posting their experiences, so she decided it was time to set the experiment aside.

But I don't think I'm ready to let it go. I really enjoy taking a moment each week to find a time when I either experienced grace from someone else, or noticed my own reaction to a situation or person (whether it be a warm fuzzy feeling, or a cold prickly). I think it's a good practice for all of us to get into!

It's nice to notice when someone was graceful to us. It's even nicer when we catch ourselves being graceful to others! And, it really takes some honesty and guts to notice when we are cold and hard-hearted towards someone else... It's REALLY a learning experience when you notice that while IN the situation and can take a moment to intentionally decide how to react - with or without grace.

So here's my moment for this week - Are you ever around those people that don't seem interested in a two-way conversation? As soon as they open their mouth, you realize this is going to be all about them? I had one of those conversations this week - and yes, I felt my heart harden when I realized this was going to be the case.

But the longer I listened, I realized how much this person needed to be heard. This person had more pain, frustration, and sadness in their life than I ever would have imagined - and the longer I listened, the more my heart softened and and warmed. I listened, I encouraged, I offered hopeful words... and I've continued to pray for this person all week.

It's easy to be in a hurry, want to just have a fun and uplifting kind of day, get frustrated with people who don't want to know what's going on in my life... But this was a reminder that we never know what's going on in someone's life until we take a moment to listen - and sometimes the best thing we can do to offer grace, is to stop and just be with the person.

What is your grace story from the last week?

Things I am thankful for today:

1. This Jason
Mraz clip - singing "In My Life" by the Beatles as his last song on the Gratitude Cafe Tour!
2. Finally getting a couple hours of good sleep this morning! I don't know what my deal was last night...
3. Joining the UMW ladies' lunch this afternoon - it's the group of elderly ladies, and they are so fun! It was nice of them to invite me...
4. Laughing over silly things with Diane.
5. Beth J. snorted! Ha ha ha!
6. I got most of Sunday's servoice organized - I think it's going to be really special!
7. Portabella ravioli for dinner. Yum.
8. The ability to say no.
9. Down comforters.
10. The singer Cory Chisel. Good stuff!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In This Place

"God loves to look at us, and loves it when we will look back at Him. Even when we try to run away from our troubles...God will find us, bless us, even when we feel most alone, unsure... God will find a way to let us know that He is with us in this place, wherever we are."
--Kathleen Norris

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Waking up earlier - more time in the day!
2. A good day at work.
3. Spending a little time with our new Music Director - I think I'm going to like her!
4. Talking to my sister in Alaska. Taking a few minutes to giggle together about annoyances in our lives.
5. Finding everything I needed for a new recipe at Trader Joe's! That doesn't happen very often...
6. Calzones for dinner - cheese, proscuitto, red peppers, and basil. Yum.
7. An unloaded, and loaded dishwasher.
8. Bubble baths.
9. A glass of wine.
10. Inspiration.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - October 12th Edition

For Today...

Outside my window... Snow is falling! I mean - REALLY falling! What happened to October?!
I am thankful... that it's Monday and I get to work from home today.
From the kitchen... leftover bison tacos. Yum-a-roo!
I am wearing... my hole-y sweats and a purple hoodie sweater.
I am creating... a sermon. Uff-da! Preaching stresses me out!
I am going... to enjoy being home more than out this week! That hasn't happened in a long time...
I am reading... "So You Want to be a Innkeeper" and "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus Christ," by Peter Gomes.
I am hoping... that fall sticks around a little longer...
I am hearing... cars driving by... but otherwise, quiet.
Some plans for the week... not a lot. I kind of like it!
One of my favorite things... fall colors... I hope we get to enjoy them a little longer...
A picture thought I am sharing: October in Minnesota. Blech.
Things I am thankful for today:

1. Staying home.
2. Warm clothes.
3. Hot cocoa.
4. Books.
5. My elliptical.
6. An easy week.
7. A playful dog.
8. Tacos.
9. A day with no make-up. Ha ha ha!
10. An evening to cuddle up with the hubby!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


"That prayer - and the word 'one' - were integral to the Reb's beliefs. One, as in the singular God. One, as in the Lord's creation, Adam.

'Ask yourself, 'Why did God create but one man?' the Reb said, wagging a finger. 'Why, if he meant for there to be faiths bickering with each other, didn't he create that from the start? He created trees, right? Not one tree, countless trees. Why not the same with man?

'Because we are all from that one man - and all from that one God. That's the message.'

Then why, I asked, is the world so fractured?

'Well, you can look at it this way. Would you want the world to all look alike? No. The genius of life is its variety.

'Even in our own faith, we have questions and answers, interpretations, debates. In Christianity, in Catholicism, in other faiths, the same thing - debates, interpretations. That is the beauty. It's like being a musician. If you found the note, and you kept hitting that note all the time, you would go nuts. It's the blending of the different notes that makes the music.'

The music of what?

'Of believing in something bigger than yourself.'

But what if someone from another faith won't recognize yours? Or wants you dead for it?

'That is not faith. That is hate.' He sighed. 'And if you ask me, God sits up there and cries when that happens.'"
--from the book, "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom

Things I am thankful for today:

1. My church - such great people.
2. The choir did a cool performance of "Down to the River to Pray." Nice work!
3. Pancakes at church - yummy! (I even liked the sausage... Weird!)
4. Paintball with the youth group boys!
5. My hubby turning into one of the kids at the Paintball fields! So funny!
6. Hot dogs on the grill with chips.... A good outdoor meal on a cold fall day!
7. The parents' that went with us - Cathy, Jake, and Ron - so fun to have you guys along for the fun!
8. Warm winter clothes - I made some good buys last year!
9. A nice warm shower and warm jammies after sitting outside in the cold for HOURS!
10. A fun day. Loved it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


"Is there a woman alive who doesn't suffer from stress? If there is, seek her out, ask her to share her wisdom. When you find her, I'd be willing to bet she'll offer the following suggestions:

Cultivate gratitude.
Carve out an hour a day for solitude.
Begin and end each day with prayer, meditation, reflection.
Keep it simple.
Keep your house picked up.
Don't overschedule.
Strive for realistic deadlines.
Never make a promise you can't keep.
Allow an extra half hour for everything you do.
Create quiet surroundings at home and at work.
Go to bed at nine o'clock twice a week.
Always carry something interesting to read.
Breathe - deeply and often.
Move - walk, dance, run, find a sport you enjoy.
Drink pure spring water. Lots of it.
Eat only when hungry.
If it's not delicious, don't eat it.
Be instead of do.
Set aside one day a week for rest and renewal.
Laugh more often.
(I have no idea what Bailey is doing in this picture - but it makes me giggle everytime I look at it!)

Luxuriate in your senses.
Always opt for comfort.
If you don't love it, live without it.
Let Mother Nature nurture.
Don't answer the telephone during dinner.
Stop trying to please everyone.
Start pleasing yourself.
Stay away from negative people.
Don't squander precious resources - time, creative energy, emotion.
Nurture friendships.
Don't be afraid of your passion.
Approach problems as challenges.
Honor your aspirations.
Set achievable goals.
Surrender expectations.
Savor beauty.
Create boundaries.
For every 'yes,' let there be a 'no.'
Don't worry, be happy.
Remember, happiness is a living emotion.
Exchange security for serenity.
Care for your soul.
Cherish your dreams.
Express love everyday.
Search for your authentic self until you find her."
--Simple Abundance

What is your secret to coping with stress? For me, spending time with the hubby and the dog makes the rest of the world disappear... I'm curious to hear what works for you!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Sleeping in - and being awakened by the dog's excitement to have the hubby and I both home! She could not control her happiness!
2. Pumpkin waffles. Yum.
3. Going for a walk around Jensen Lake (one of the parks my hubby takes care of). It was beautiful!
(This is the Visitor Center at Lebanon Hills Park - another of the Hubby's parks - that's what the "green roof" looks like in the fall. Isn't it beautiful?!)

4. The first snowfall of the year. I'm only thankful for it because it was pretty! Ha ha ha.
5. Coming home, putting on warm cozy clothes, and curling up for a nap on the couch...
6. Bison tacos for dinner. Another Yum.
7. Lighting the fireplace for the first time this year!
8. Playing Trivial Pursuit next to the fire... Nice.
9. Big Gingers. (Ginger Ale, Jameson, and lemon and lime wedges.)
10. The perfect day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fave Five - October 9th

It's Friday again! Here are the best things about this past week:

1. Watching the Badgers/Gophers football game at my parents' house. The dog and I were decked out in Badger gear, and my parents were cheering for the Gophers. So fun! Chili and cornbread and talking smack with my dad. Gotta love it!

2. My hubby and our friend, Mark, made it home safe and sound from their trip to the North Shore! They had a great trip and brought home some fun stories and beautiful pictures!
One of the many Superior Hiking Trails markers... Beautiful colors, huh?
Mike and Mark, bundled up for their cold trek!
Mike FINALLY made it to Bean Lake - it's taken three years to get to this rock.

3. Dinner out with the hubby Sunday night - to The Happy Gnome for burgers and beer, and stories about his trip. Very fun!

4. Tonight was Dinner and a Movie night with some people from church. We met at the church for a quick potluck meal, then headed to the theatres for some movies. It was so nice to have some of the other husbands join us! So fun to go to a funny movie, just because. It was a much needed, silly, night out.

5. I've really been liking my job lately - I like the ways I get to help people, listen to them, pray with them, introduce new ways to incorporate spirituality into daily lives... It makes busy weeks like this one worth it!

If you'd like to share your Fave Five of the week, be sure to link up to Living To Tell the Story!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Staying home during the day. So nice.
2. Catching up on some reading.
4. The hubby coming with me to Movie Night with church!
5. Brooke bringing pizza to the potluck - so cute (and so yummy!).
6. A funny movie - "Couples Retreat."
7. Melissa's snorts.
8. Junior Mints.
9. A cold, but nice, fall evening.
10. Putting the down comforter on the bed!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Secret

So, I've been reading Mitch Albom's newest book, "Have a Little Faith." And I love it! Here's the latest part I love:

"So, have we solved the secret of happiness?
'I believe so,' he said.
Are you going to tell me?
'Yes. Ready?'
'Be satisfied.'
That's it?
'Be grateful.'
That's it?
'For what you have. For the love you receive. And for what God has given you.'
That's it?
He looked me in the eye. Then he sighed deeply.
'That's it.'"

Be satisfied. Be grateful. For all you have, the love you receive, and for what God has given you... And you will be happy.

Love it.

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Books that remind us of what's important.
2. This list of things I'm thankful for. It changes my outlook on like everyday.
3. Youth Leadership - a wonderful organization that provides trainings for youth workers. Always an uplifting day!
4. Lunch with Tracie at Red Robin. (My first Red Robin experience - very yummy!)
5. A quiet afternoon at the office.
6. Open Sanctuary - the quiet was so nice.
7. A leadership meeting at church - great insights and ideas are flowing!
8. Good music on the car drive home tonight!
9. The feeling that I've had a productive day!
10. Diving into my cozy bed tonight!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ladies of Grace - October 7th

My friend at Walk A Mile has decided to discontinue her blog carnival "Ladies of Grace." It wasn't catching on, people weren't posting their experiences, so she decided it was time to set the experiment aside.

But I don't think I'm ready to let it go. I really enjoy taking a moment each week to find a time when I either experienced grace from someone else, or noticed my own reaction to a situation or person (whether it be a warm fuzzy feeling, or a cold prickly) - and noticed my reaction to that situation. I think it's a good practice for all of us to get into!

It's nice to notice when someone was graceful to us. It's even nicer when we catch ourselves being graceful to others! And, it really takes some honesty and guts to notice when we are cold and hard-hearted towards someone else... And it's REALLY a learning experience when you notice that while IN the situation and can take a moment to intentionally decide how to react - with or without grace.

My moment of grace this week was in the reading for my book group. We're reading, "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus" by Peter Gomes. This quote stood out to me this week:

"Whoever has love in his or her heart will know who the neighbor is," and then, "One cannot define one's neighbor; one can only be a neighbor." --Arland J. Hultgren

This was part of a commentary on "The Good Samaritan" story... It's so easy to put other people in boxes of who's like me, who seems safe, who is likeable, etc. But I like this twist - all that doesn't matter. It's who I am, and the choices I make, that makes me a neighbor...

A good reminder to us all...

Things I am thankful for today:

1. A beautiful day! Sunny and in the 60s!
2. Good staff meeting.
3. Leaving work early to enjoy the day!
4. Windows open in the house!
5. Starting to clean the house.
6. Grocery shopping with the hubby.
7. Steaks on the grill! Mmm...
8. A lovely night chatting with the hubby.
9. The hubby is staying home this weekend!!!
10. My spice market candle - makes the whole house smell like fall!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I'm a Putz

I put up a give-a-way over a week ago - almost two weeks ago, I think... And then, I got the flu and completely forgot about it!

It was for my 365 Days of Simple Pleasures flip calendar ( I LOVE these things!).
So, I entered the comments into a random number generator ( - and #1 won! Congrats, Beth J. from Walk a Mile!

Goodness... I'm losing my mind!


"'I think people expect too much from marriage today,' he said. 'They expect perfection. Every moment should be bliss. That's TV or movies. But that is not the human experience.

'Like Sarah [Reb's wife] says, twenty good minutes here, forty good minutes there, it adds up to something beautiful. The trick is when things aren't so great, you don't junk the whole thing. It's okay to have an argument. It's okay that the other one nudges you a little, bothers you a little. It's part of being close to someone.

'But the joy you get from that same closeness - when you watch your children, when you wake up and smile at each other - that, as our tradition teaches us, is a blessing. People forget that.'

Why do they forget that?

'Because the word "commitment" has lost its meaning. I'm old enough to remember when it used to be a positive. A committed person was someone to be admired. He was loyal and steady. Now a commitment is something you avoid. You don't want to tie yourself down.

'It's the same with faith, by the way. We don't want to get stuck in having to go to services all the time, or having to follow all the rules. We don't want to commit to God. We'll take Him when we need Him, or when things are going good. But real commitment? That requires staying power - in faith and in marriage.'

And if you don't commit? I asked.

'Your choice. But you miss what's on the other side.'

What's on the other side?

'Ah.' He smiled. 'A happiness you cannot find alone.'"
--from the book, "Have a Little Faith," bu Mitch Albom

Beautiful book!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. New pants - I love comfy new pants.
2. Pumpkin shakes - 1st one of the year!
3. Being alone at work most of the day - I got a lot done, and my office was cozy and warm!
4. Candy corn, chips and salsa, and chocolate cake at book group. Whoa!
5. It's supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow! Hallelujah!
6. Funny emails from friends throughout the day.
7. The dog tilting her head at my phone as it rings - you'd think it was a live animal. Too funny!
8. Ha ha ha. The hubby telling me he likes my new pants. *Grin*
9. The Twins won. (No, I didn't watch the game - but it's fun to see everyone else so excited!)
10. Looking forward to being awake and relaxed as the hubby shows me pictures from his trip and tells me more stories - tomorrow night!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Simple Woman's Daybook - October 5th Edition

For Today...

Outside my window... A cool, gray day - again.
I am thankful... for my friends and family - and reminders of how great they are!
From the kitchen... mulligatawny soup that my mom made. Yum!
I am wearing... a cream-colored henley short, blue jeans and my warm REI socks.
I am creating... a work plan for the week - so much to do!
I am going... to break down and get me some Ugg-type boots. I've wanted some for awhile and I finally found some that I like (just not in my size...). But no, I will not be paying $180 for them! Goodness, gracious!
I am reading... "So You Want to be a Innkeeper" and "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus Christ," and "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom.
I am hoping... that this busy week won't wear me down too bad!
I am hearing... my soap opera in the background...
Some plans for the week... meetings, book group, open sanctuary, dinner and a movie night, possibly paintball or go-karts this weekend!
One of my favorite things... sales associates at stores that are available to answer questions, but otherwise, leave you alone!
A picture thought I am sharing: My niece, Finley - isn't this hilarious?! I love it!
Things I am thankful for today:

1. Mini-wheats.
2. Slippers.
3. A new necklace.
4. Ingrid Michaelson.
5. Staff meeting pushed to Wednesday!
6. Friends sending me resources about B&Bs!
7. How I Met Your Mother.
8. The book, "Have a Little Faith."
9. Book Group tomorrow night!
10. The dog pulling her "Badgers" jersey out of a pile and sitting on it til I put it on her. So funny! (If only she knew it was the Packers and Vikings playing tonight...)

Sunday, October 4, 2009


"Every time you forgive someone who hurt you, encourage someone who feels defeated, extend compassion to someone who stands alone, confront someone in love, open your heart to a friend, reconcile with an enemy, devote time to a child, you align yourself with God's central purpose in this world."
--John Ortberg

LOVE this quote! It was on my little daily quote calendar today - and it fits with everything I've been learning and growing into this week!

Today's sermon at church was about anger and how we deal with it. About forgiving - and moving forward with our anger to do good in the world. If we are angry at an injustice, turn it around and use that energy to fight for what is right. If we are angry at being hurt by someone, turn it around to learn more about ourselves and how we treat others.

Regardless of what it is you are angry about: 1) Be attentive to what's going on and why you feel the way you do. 2) Pray about your feelings. Let God in and pour out the good and the bad - be brutally honest with God. By doing this you open yourself up to how God may use the situation or you! 3) Pray for your enemies. Hard I know, but DO it! 4) And lastly, use that angry energy to do something good for the world. It can be small, it can be huge - but DO something!

I found it so interesting that this tied in so well with what we talked about with the confirmation class this week, too. We used the NOOMA video, "Open" by Rob Bell - talking all about prayer. If you haven't seen it, here are the links for it on I don't think I've ever heard someone talk about prayer in this way before - and I LOVE it! It spoke directly to my heart - and I've been thinking about it all week. So, if you struggle with the concept of prayer, take 11 minutes and watch this. I highly recommend it!

Part One
Part Two

Blessings on you today - and on all the ways you struggle with anger and prayer. May God help you through your struggles in new and wondrous ways!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. Pastor Penny teaching class today, so I could go to an "adult" education class (for the first time in 5 years!).
2. Ken, at church. He makes me smile.
3. Carol's surprise at me actually giving her fuzzy socks! Ha ha ha. So funny.
4. The movie, "Nottinghill." It was on TV today - I love this movie...
5. My hubby and our friend, Mark, getting home from their backpacking trip safe and sound.
6. Listening to all their stories, laughing at all their excitement, and enjoying their banter - a good trip this year!
7. The hubby and I going out to dinner after dropping Mark off at the airport. A nice "welcome home."
8. The hubby ordered dessert - gourmet mini donuts (with a hint of orange) and chocolate habenero dipping sauce. Delish!
9. The dog's joy at having the hubby home - so cute! They curled up on the couch together and were asleep within seconds.
10. A good night's sleep in a warm, comfy, bed - with all three of us together! Ha ha ha.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just Another Saturday

Things I am thankful for today:

1. REALLY sleeping in. Lovely.
2. A call from Dad asking to watch the Badger/Gopher game - tempting me with Mom's chili.
3. Bailey, my dog, wearing her Badgers jersey.
4. Mom sending chili, mulligatawny soup, and cornbread home with me. Yum!
5. Hearing my niece say, "Annie May" (translation - Auntie Meg) on the phone. So cute.
6. Badgers won!!! (The hubby will be so happy when he re-enters civilization after his backpacking trip.)
7. The book I've been waiting for for MONTHS was at Costco today! Woo-hoo! (It's the next Diana Gabaldon book in the Outlander series... I LOVE these books!)
8. Dad asking about my B&B ideas, and giving advice.
9. Laughing with my parents today. It was fun to have them to myself!
10. Chillin' out with a little wine on the couch before bed. So nice...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Fave Five - October 2nd

It's Friday! Time to share our favorite things about the past week. If you'd like to join in and share what five things you are thankful for - link up to Living to Tell the Story! Here are mine:

1. Going to Madison for a Wisconsin Badgers game last Saturday. It was a lot of fun! My hubby's a HUGE Badgers fan and this was his first game ever at their stadium (a birthday gift from his sister and her hubby). Unfortunately, his sister had to leave during the second quarter... with the flu. So we missed spending the rest of the day with them... But the weather was great, our team won, and we still had time to play on State Street before heading home to MN.
2. Going back to work on Wednesday. I was sick Sunday-Tuesday with the flu. Ick. So it was nice to get back into my daily schedule and back around other people. Wednesday afternoon I met with one of my youth group kids and we had a lot of fun talking about all the ways we share God's love through our actions. A good day back at work.

3. Being able to be there for a friend yesterday. After a rough day, I was the one she thought to call to share her burdens. It meant the world to me. Being able to pray with her and check in on her again in the evening... Working at a church can be exhausting - but also, so rewarding.

4. Getting to see all the pictures of my sister's family during their first week in Alaska! They're getting settled in and their move is becoming "real," and it's so cool to realize they LIVE in this beautiful place now!
(I think that pic of my sis and niece is from their yard! Mountains! And this moose pic was taken in their yard... They came home, and there the moose were! Whoa!)

5. The hubby and his best friend got on the road at 5:45am today for their 2nd Annual North Shore Backpacking trip! Mark's flight didn't get in til after 11:30pm last night, they packed til 1:30am, the weather forecast this weekend is cold and rainy... and they were as excited as two little boys going to Scout camp! I'm praying that everything goes well - but excited that they're finally on their way!

Things I am thankful for today:

1. The hubby and our friend, Mark, getting off to a good start.
2. Having the bed all to myself for awhile... Hee hee.
3. Going to visit Kelsey at college (one of my former youth group kids). So fun to see her liking college and doing well!
4. A stop at Trader Joe's for some yummy weekend food!
5. Wearing the hubby's sweatshirt...
6. A cool tea shop in Eau Claire - over 200 kinds of teas! Whoa.
7. The new David Gray album. Good stuff.
8. A beautiful drive today - even in the rain, the colors were vibrant.
9. Cuddling up with a fuzzy blanket, the dog, and a glass of wine.
10. Car seat warmers! They got their first use of the year today!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin