Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It's been one of those weeks around here...  The hubby's been a little crabby.  I'm a little crabby.  (My headaches are bad again...)  There are choices to be made about how we're going to handle the holidays this year - where we'll be when, what we'll be doing, how we're going to spend money, what charities to support...  So many choices that it's beginning to make us a little crazy.

And then a friend posted this story on Facebook this morning:

"John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!'
He was a natural motivator.
If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, 'I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time.  How do you do it?'

He replied, 'Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or...you can choose to be in a bad mood
I choose to be in a good mood.'

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.
Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or...I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

'Yeah, right, it's not that easy,' I protested.

'Yes, it is,' he said. 'Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.
You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life.'

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.
After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.
When I asked him how he was, he replied, 'If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?'
I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

'The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,' he replied. 'Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live.'

'Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?' I asked.

He continued, '...the paramedics were great.  They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action.'

'What did you do?' I asked.

'Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,' said John. 'She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied. 'The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity!'

Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude....I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
Attitude, after all, is everything.

'Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.' Matthew 6:34.

After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
Everyday you have two choices."

I like it.  Thanks, Sunni!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A late start.
2.  A manageable headache.
3.  Laughing with my boss.
4.  Sending out the invites for our Christmas Open House!
5.  A Culver's burger (I've never had one before...  They're REALLY good.)
6.  Snowflakes.
7.  Interesting opportunities.
8.  The Ella Fitzgerald Christmas music station on Pandora.
9.  More "Living a Better Story" stories rolling in!
10.  Book group tonight - if I can keep my head together...

Monday, November 29, 2010


At the beginning of November, we handed out $5 to everyone in our congregation with the challenge of 1) praying about it for three days - what would God have me do with this money in order to make a difference in somebody else's life?  2) do something with it.  Make a difference.  3) come back and tell the congregation my "Living a Better Story" experience.

It's November 29th.  I still have my $5.

About a week ago, I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream.  I KNEW what I was supposed to use it for!  I felt like God had told me exactly what to do and how to do it.  I lay there, awake and excited, figuring out the details of how to execute my plan...  I got up, went to the bathroom, got a drink of water, settled back into bed - all the while thinking of my new God-given strategy to use the $5 in some generous and wonderful way.  I fell back to a restful sleep...

The next morning...  I couldn't remember my dream.

I thought and thought...  Nothing.

And no new ideas.

I went to work and told my pastor about it.  Her thought?  "That's why God told Moses to write the commandments down!"  Ha ha ha.  Very funny.

I've had a lot of fun listening to other people's stories... and I have a new place I'm planning to start volunteering at that I learned of from someone else's "Living A Better Story" experience...  But that $5 is still in my purse, waiting for the perfect moment.

Here's a prayer I read today - I'm saying it in hopes that God will hear my plea for an idea on how to serve Him best!

"O Lord, what an amazing opportunity you have set out before me - a chance to make a difference for you in a desperately hurting world.  Help me to see the needs you want me to see, to react in a way that honors you, and to bless others by serving them gladly with practical expressions of your love.  Help me be Jesus' hands and feet, and through your Spirit give me the strength and wisdom I need to fulfill your plan for me in my own generation.  In Jesus' name I pray, amen."
--Max Lucado, "Out Live Your Life"

Things I am thankful for:

1.  Challenges.
2.  Generosity.
3.  Prayer.
4.  Deep thought.
5.  A reason to give away my scrapbooking stuff!  Thanks, Beth!
6.  Getting a few things hung on the walls - long overdue!
7.  The upstairs is decorated for the holidays!
8.  An understanding friend.
9.  Hot showers.
10.  Going to bed at 8:30.  (It's a migraine night.  Blech.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010


"The most important task we have in our lives is to give thanks: the simplest, purest thanks we can intone.  This cannot be said enough.  Gratitude, practiced early and often, can transform things through pure thought.  Small things into big ones.  Simple pleasures into wonderful luxuries.  Grey days into nourishing rainstorms. Daily habits into devotional practice.  Try it on for size; I think it'll suit you."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"

Ahhh...  Sundays.  Sometimes soothing and relaxing...  Sometimes, not.

Today, church was crazy with all kinds of things happening!  Two baptisms, a crazy (and messy) children's sermon, the children sang a fun song, we were handing out bookmarks and Christmas pins, lots of visitors, people wanting to tell me their "Living a Better Story" experiences, and trying to visit with the kids and returning college students!  Oh...  and then AFTER worship, we had a chili lunch and our "Hanging of the Greens" where everyone stays and helps to get the church decorated for Advent.  Uffda!

Once we left church, we headed straight to my parents' house for a shared meal (since I missed Thanksgiving with them).  My youngest sister, Kayla, and her boyfriend were home - so it was a fun family lunch! 

When we finally got home, I talked to my other sister, Emily, on the phone - so fun!  I think mostly, we just laugh about all the craziness in our lives.  I love it.  I always feel lifted up after I talk with her. 

After that, I pretty much just settled in for the night.  The hubby was in his own little world...  so I checked emails, played on Facebook, and cozied up on the couch to read a book.  The Christmas lights were finally turned on, the fireplace was warm, and the dog was curled up next to me.  A nice ending to a long and crazy weekend...

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Baptisms - always neat.
2. The children at our church - full of spunkiness and fun!
3.  The energy and enthusiasm at church today!
4.  More "Living a Better Story" experiences being shared!
5.  Chatting with Kelsey.
6.  Catching up with both sisters.
7.  Kayla and Anthony joining us for lunch - they're so fun together.
8.  Our Christmas lights are on!
9.  Finally getting back to my Diana Gabaldon book, "An Echo In the Bone."
10.  The coziness of winter...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

At the Campfire

"All great characters in stories are the ones who give their lives to something bigger than themselves.  And in all of the stories, I don't find anyone more noble than Jesus.  He gave His life for me, in obedience to His Father.  I truly love Him for it...  I think the difference in my life came when I realized, after reading those Gospels, that Jesus didn't just love me out of principle; He didn't just love me because it was the right thing to do.  Rather, there was something inside me that caused Him to love me.  I think I realized that if I walked up to His campfire, He would ask me to sit down, and He would ask me my story.  He would take the time to listen to my ramblings or my anger until I could calm down, and then He would look me directly in the eye, and He would speak to me; He would tell me the truth, and I would sense in His voice and in the lines on His face that He liked me.  He would rebuke me, too, and He would tell me that I have prejudices against very religious people and that I need to deal with that; He would tell me that there are poor people in the world and I need to feed them and that somehow this will make me more happy.  I think He would tell me what my gifts are and why I have them, and He would give me ideas on how to use them.  I think He would... point out very clearly all the ways God has taken care of me through the years, all the stuff God protected me from."
--Don Miller, "Blue Like Jazz"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Another day of safe travel.
2.  Time to read this morning.
3.  My home.
4.  Amanda meeting us for dinner on our way home.  So fun!
5.  Christmas lights.
6.  Egg nog shakes.
7.  Going to bed early.
8.  My own shower.
9.  Looking forward to church tomorrow.
10.  Faith.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Moment

"Beyond the veils of language and the noise of activity, the most profound events of our lives take place in thoe fleeting moments where something else shines through, something that can never be fixed in language, something given as quietly as the gift of your next breath.  Days and nights unfold in the confidence and continuity of sequence.  Most days take no notice of us; but then every so often there is a moment when time seems to crystallize.  A voice changes tone and a deeper music becomes audible.  A gaze holds and a hidden presence is revealed."
--John O'Donohue, "Beauty"

This morning, we slept in.  Lovely.  Then we sat around the table - just hubby, his mom, and me.  We ate and we talked - and we talked.  We told stories and laughed together and enjoyed every minute.

Then Mike got up to head outside to start his projects for the weekend... and his mom and I stayed and talked some more.  For a long time.  She shared stories about her life - stories I had never heard before.  And she listened to stories of my life, and asked about my job, and my volunteering, and our life... 

It was a moment.  A wonderful moment.  A moment to be thankful for.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sleep!
2.  A simple breakfast.
3.  Stories and sharing.
4.  I finished my book, "Huck."  So cute.
5.  No TV.  Lovely.
6.  Dinner out to celebrate brithdays all over again!
7.  No Black Friday shopping!
8.  Mudslides.  Mmm....
9.  A quiet day.
10.  Our dog cuddling with Mike's mom.  Very cute.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Today we made the long trek to Milwaukee with the dog and a backseat full of pumpkin pies!  It was an adventure...
(That's a long stretch of road in front of us!)
(Two of the pies, in plain view for a puppy to drool over...)
(Ah, Mom.  Can't I PLEASE go check out the back seat?)

Since we got there 4 hours before anyone else, we enjoyed a quiet (meaning, napping on the couch) afternoon at the hubby's aunt's house long before everyone else arrived.  Oh!  And watched a little of "Miracle on 34th Street" - my favorite old movie. 

Finally, everyone else started arriving.  The smell of turkey filled the small apartment, the kids and I were coloring and playing with Chinese fortune tellers, the men were watching football or "Man Vs Food," and oh yeah.  The dog got into my pumpkin pies. 
(Our niece, Lauren, coloring AND listening and watching Disney shows on her dad's new phone...  Uffda.)
(Whoa.  Who did that?!)
(I think we found our criminal...  Look at that guilty face!)

When we finally sat down to eat it was a nice family dinner.  Lots of laughter and stories.  Good food.  A nice time.
(The kiddie table - Brandon, Lauren, and Evan.)
(Mike and his mom.)
(Aunt Annie.)
(Jerry and Michelle.)
(Dan - the newest addition to the family, Brandon, and Kerry.)
(Hubby and I.)

After dinner, clean-up began, a game was played, birthdays were celebrated, and everyone lazed around until it was time to go home. 
(Since Brandon and Annie's birthdays were the day after Thanksgiving, we celebrated with a little pumpkin pie.  Can you tell Brandon was excited?!)
(Hmmm...  What to wish for?)
(Happy birthday!)

We didn't get back to hubby's mom's house until 12:30am. Whoa. Long day. Our heads hit the pillows and we were OUT!

So much to be thankful for.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Clear roads and safe travel.
2.  The woman at McDonald's who gave our dog a treat.
3.  Bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit - once a year, they're Great!
4.  Christmas music!
5.  Family.
6.  My family texting me pictures of the centerpiece project.
7.  Coloring with my niece and nephews - too fun!
8.  Being able to laugh when the dog got into the pie!
9.  Having a new brother-in-law in the mix.
10.  A good night's sleep!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Warm Apple Cider

Mmmm...  A cold, snowy day.  What could be better than some of my mom's yummy warm apple cider?!  No pictures of this one...  It's not very pretty...  But it is Oh So Good.  (And I usually don't even like cider!)  We made this a few weeks ago for our Halloween cook-out - and everyone commented on the cider!  So go nuts!

Warm Apple Cider

You'll need:
2 quarts apple cider
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup packed brown sugar
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks

To make:
1)  Place ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring mixture to a boil - stir.
2)  Reduce heat to a simmer for 10-20 minutes.  Remove spices before serving.

(You can also use a crockpot!)


Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Going in to work late.
2.  Bread machines.
3.  Warm, fresh laundry.
4.  "Yes we can, can" nail polish.
5.  Dinner with friends.
6.  Beautiful snow.
7.  A Thanksgiving church service.
8.  A happy dog.
9.  Uplifting notes.
10.  The "Gratitude Tree."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Our culture has little respect for privacy; we no longer recognize the sacred zone around each person.  We feel we have a right to blunder unannounced into any area we wish.  Because we have lost reverence of approach, we should not be too surprised at the lack of quality and beauty in our experience.  At the heart of things is a secret law of balance and when our approach is respectful, sensitive and worthy, gifts of healing, challenge and creativity open to us.  A gracious approach is the key that unlocks the treasure of encounter...  A reverence of approach awakens depth and enables us to be truly present where we are.  When we approach with reverence great things decide to approach us.  Our real life comes to the surface and its light awakens the concealed beauty in things.  When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us.  The rushed heart and the arrogant mind lack the gentleness and patience to enter that embrace.  Beauty is mysterious, a slow presence who waits for the ready, expectant heart."
--John O'Donohue, "Beauty"

I always thought I was just shy and hesitant...  Intimidated or overly aware of manners...

Maybe I was seeking the best moment for beauty to present itself...  Maybe I approach introductions and new experiences with reverence...  Taking my time and exploring the mysterious...  Readying my heart to be present to a beautiful moment.

Monday, November 22, 2010


"A few years back, three questions rocked my world.  They came from different people in the span of a month.  Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?  Question 2:  Had you lived in the South during the Civil Rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?  Question 3:  When your grandchildren discover you lived  during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge you?

I didn't mind the first two questions.  They were hypothetical.  I'd like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism.  But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine.  But the third question has kept me awake at night.  I do live today; so do you.  We are given a choice...an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.  What if we did?  What if we rocked the world with hope?  Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life?

...We are created by a great God to do great works.  He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven but here on earth.

Here's a salute to a long life: goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath.  May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life."
--Max Lucado, "Outlive Your Life"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Church?!

Wow...  No church today.  The roads are thick ice!  I don't think I've ever had church canceled before...  Crazy.

Here's a tidbit of what I read this morning:

"It is always the simple things that change our lives.  And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen.  Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so.  You feel like running, but life is on a stroll.  This is how God does things."
--Donald Miller, "Blue Like Jazz"

While I was home today, I was catching up on some emails - and I received one from a woman at church who had decided to use her "Living a Better Story" money at a homeless shelter called, "The Listening House."  This intrigued me...  So I went to the website to learn more.  I used to volunteer with homeless shelters quite a bit, and since moving back to Minnesota, thought at some point I would start again.... But I just haven't found the right one yet...  But I think I may have found it! 

(Funny how the little whisper that led me here started with Don Miller at the Storyline Conference, then led to me leading the "Living a Better Story" movement at church, and onto one person's gift of the $5 to this particular shelter! God works in amazing ways!)

On another note, since we were home all day today - we put up our Christmas decorations!  Uffda!  Bring on the holidays!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Being safe and warm inside during a crazy ice storm.
2.  Feeling like a little kid with a snow day!
3.  Nancy J's story about The Listening House.
4.  Napping during the football game.
5.  Leftovers from dinner last night.  Yum.
6.  Christmas decorations - and all the memories behind each one.
7.  The dog playing in the Christmas tree branches.
(Bailey got a little "bling" for the season!)
8.  Twinkling lights.
(Have you ever laid on your back under the Christmas tree and looked up?  It's actually very pretty...)

(I just don't recommend doing it when the dog is around...  They tend to look at you like you're nuts!)

9.  A break for spaghetti!
10.  A productive day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


"When I am talking to somebody, there are always two conversations going on.  The first is on the surface; it is about politics or music or whatever our mouths are saying.  The other is beneath the surface, on the level of the heart, and my heart is either communicating that I like the person I am talking to or I don't.  God wants both conversations to be true.  That is, we are supposed to speak truth in love.  If both conversations are not true, God is not involved in the exchange, we are on our own, and on our own, we will lead people astray.  The Bible says that if you talk to somebody with your mouth, and your heart does not love them, that you are like a person standing there smashing two cymbals together.  You are only annoying everybody around you.  I think that is very beautiful and true.

"Now, since Greg Spencer told me about truth, when I go to meet somebody, I pray that God will help me feel His love for them.  I ask God to make it so both conversations, the one from the mouth and the one from the heart, are true."
--Donald Miller, "Blue Like Jazz"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A fun breakfast with my hubby, his mom, and three of his aunts.
2.  A very yummy restaurant in Milwaukee - The Blue Egg (BLUE - Breakfast and Lunch in an Urban Environment; EGG - Everybody's Good Graces).
3.  Another fun, long drive with great music - I love having an ipod!
4.  Beautiful clouds.
5.  A dog that travels well.
(She orders her own fries at the drive-thru.)
(She makes sure we all get a little fresh air now and then.)
(And when she needs the fresh air?  She will stare at the window controls until Hubby opens the window...  She will stare as long as it takes...  She's THAT stubborn!)
6.  Fun conversations.
7.  Getting home in time to head into Minneapolis for the Outdoor Expo.
8.  A new coat, socks, and hat!
9.  Going to the Holiday Open House at Woodbury Lakes - christmas lights, reindeer, and Santa!
10.  Dinner at a new Tavern - yummy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fave Five - November 19th

Five blessings from my last week?  Here they are:

1)  A snowy day at home on Saturday.  We woke up late, had no power for 3 hours, and the snow fell... and fell... and fell...  So we curled up on the couch by the fireplace.  Made some Irish coffees.  And cuddled up with the blankets.  I have to admit - I LOVED this morning!

2)  The hubby and I went to see Donald Miller speak at a local church Sunday Night.  It was so great to hear him speak again (even if it was a short talk) so soon after going to the 'Storyline" Conference in Portland.  I think his idea of taking our lives, thinking of them as a story, and deciding what we want our story to be - in light of our faith - is such a wonderful way to look at things!

3)  "Give to the Max" Day in Minnesota.  I love that our whole state jumps in and supports all the local charities on one day!  They have a website (http://www.givemn.org/) that lists hundreds of different organizations that you can go to and give donations.  It's so cool to be able to do some of your charitable giving in such an easy way!

4)  Our favorite radio station, Cities97, had their annual Sampler CD sale on Thursday.  It's a very limited sale of a CD that is comprised of live, studio performances of may of their most popular artists - performances that you can't get anywhere else.  100% of the money goes to local charities.  And it's a crazy morning!  The hubby and I were in line outside our Target store at 6:30am, warm clothes layered on, hot coffee in hand!  At 8am the doors opened, by 8:26am they were sold out at our location!  Crazy.  But so worth it! 

5)  Last night we got in the car to drive to Milwaukee for a funeral today.  The hubby's uncle and godfather died this week.  It wasn't totally unexpected - he's been in poor health for a long time - but it seemed sudden to us, since we live so far away.  I have to admit, it's been a wonderful weekend with Hubby's family.  There were lots of stories told, lots of laughter, and no work...  Isn't it funny how sometimes a funeral can bring out the best in people?

If you'd like to join in sharing your top five things of the week, join Susanne at Living to Tell the Story!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cities97 Sampler Day!

Today is that one day a year that I feel a little insane...  I get up at 6am to go stand in line, outside, in 30 degree weather...  For what?  For a single CD.  Goodness gracious.  (At least the hubby joined me this morning - that made it SO MUCH better!)

As well as getting a bunch of great music on the CD (all one-of-a-kind live recordings of many of our favorite artists), every penny goes to local charities around Minnesota.  Pretty cool!  Since 1989, the radio station, Cities97, has raised over $8,000,000!  Awesome.  Here's a sampling of charities that have benefited in the past:

Animal Humane Society
Bridging Inc.
Faith's Lodge
Make A Wish Minnesota
Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day Teams
Camp Heartland
Special Olympics - MN
Tubman Family Alliance and Chrysalis, A Center for Women, Inc.
University of Minnesota Pediatrics Foundation Amplatz Hospital Adopt-A-Room
Minnesota Zoo Foundation-Dreamnight at the Zoo
Minneapolis & St. Paul YMCA Youth Camps
Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery
Second Harvest Heartland
Helping Paws, Inc.
Angel Foundation
Hope Chest
Pay It Forward Fund
CommonBond Communities
Open Arms of Minnesota
Project Homeless Connect
Muscular Dystrophy Association - Camp Courage
Sharing and Caring Hands
Emergency Food Shelf Network
Ronald McDonald House - MN
Youth Link
Twin Cities Big Brothers & Big Sisters
Children's Association - Children's Hospitals
Iris Remembers
MN AIDS Project
Metro Meals on Wheels
Little Bros. Friends of Elderly
Bryan McDonough Military Heros Foundation
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Camp Get-A-Well-A
St. Louis Park Emergency Food Shelves

In this season of Generosity, I'm more than willing to feel a little insane, get an awesome CD, and know that every penny goes to so many wonderful places!
(The line to the front...  wraps around the building...  See that woman carrying coffees?  She's from Starbucks, handing out free coffee to all the freezing people!  Isn't that nice?!)
(The line behind us...  it eventually will reach to the end of the buildings!  Craziness.)
(Amanda - if you ever get your butt up here for this event, this will be you and me!  Ha ha ha.)
(Hubby's freezing.  I'm surprisingly warm.  Creepy man looks really cold.  It's not very often you see me smiley at 7am!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Long underwear!
2.  The hubby going with me!
3.  Hot coffee.
4.  Warm boots.
5.  A fun present from Amanda in the mail when I got home!
6.  Chili for lunch.
7.  A short work day.
8.  A nice car ride to Milwaukee - with lots of good music!
9.  A nice (5 hour) drive.
10.  Safely getting to Milwaukee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Monterey Clam Chowder

Last week, when we knew the snow was coming, we decided it was time for some yummy clam chowder!  My dad used to order this everytime he went to Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, CA - and finally, he gave in and bought the recipe from the restuarant!  It's been a cherished recipe in our family ever since...  A few adjustments have been made from the original - and it's SO GOOD!

Dad's Monterey Clam Chowder

You'll need:
2 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large potato, diced
1-2 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 lb minced bacon
1/4 lb margarine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 quart clam juice (use juice from 4 cans minced clams)
1 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cans minced clams

To make:
1) Saute vegetables, bacon and margarine in a 5-quart saucepan. Saute over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
2) Add flour to make a roux. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Add clam juice and dairy products. Add garlic, black pepper, and chopped clams.
4) Cook over low medium heat, stirring to prevent scorching.
5) Cook approximately 2 hours or until chowder is desired thickness.

(We did!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


"It may take even more work, and will certainly take more courage, to be an optimist.  Optimism so often runs counter to our intellectual assessment of things, what we think of as the truth.  Only an optimist can see beyond the facts and figures, see with an inner being that is smarter than the brain.  Only an optimist can make the leap of faith that it takes to chart a new course, make a new discovery, change the world in a way that no one has ever imagined."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"

Today is "Give to the Max" Day in Minnesota (also known as the Great Minnesota Give Together)!  If there was ever an act of eternal optimism - it's encouraging a whole state to give their money to the charities that make a difference in their lives and the lives of others!  So cool.

If you'd like to donate, you can go to givemn.org to search out your favorite charities.  As of 1:09pm, over 3.5 million dollars has been raised! Whoa! 

I plan to go over and see what I can do for Neighbors, Inc; Feed My Starving Children; and Union Gospel Mission.

Have a great day - and see if there's just a little something you can do to make the world a better place...

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A quiet, cloudy day - especially since I'm home with a migraine.
2. Excedrin.
3.  Eye masks.
4.  All the amazing charities that make a difference in the world...  It's hard to narrow down and decide which ones I can support!
5.  Books that inspire.
6.  Pj pants.
7.  Book group tonight - if my head feels better...
8.  Dimmer switches for the computer screen...
9.  Aveda tea.
10.  No loud noises coming from the newly built house across the street!  (hammers, drills, tractors, etc.)

Monday, November 15, 2010


"As the soul can render the face luminous so too can love turn up the hidden light within a person's life.  Love changes the way we see ourselves and others.  We feel beautiful when we are loved, and to evoke an awareness of beauty in another is to give them a precious gift they will never lose.  When we say from our heart to someone, 'You are beautiful', it is more than a statement or platitude, it is a recognition and invocation of the dignity, grandeur, and grace of their spirit.  There is something in the nature of beauty that goes beyond personality, good looks, image and fashion.  When we affirm another's beauty, we affirm something that cannot be owned or drawn into the grid of small mindedness or emotional need.  There is profound nobility in beauty that can elevate a life, bring it into harmony with the artistry of its eternal source and destination."
--John O'Donohue, "Beauty, The Invisible Embrace"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  My "make a difference" coffee mug.
2.  Slippers.
3.  Not needing to leave the house today.
4.  Candles.
5.  New music to listen to!
6.  Books.
7.  Reminders of childhood.
8.  Eye cream. 
9.  Curly hair.
10.  Pens that work.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


"Too much of our time is spent trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe.  By reducing Christian spirituality to formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder...

"...I want to tell you something about me that you may see as weakness.  I need wonder.  I know that death is coming.  I smell it in the wind, read it in the paper, watch it on television, and see it on the faces of the old.  I need wonder to explain what is going to happen to me, what is going to happen to us when this thing is done, when our shift is over and our kids' kids are still on the earth listening to their crazy rap music.  I need something mysterious to happen after I die.  I need to be somewhere else after I die, somewhere with God, somewhere that wouldn't make any sense if it were explained to me right now.

"At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and know the chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay.  And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow.  I don't think there is any better worship than wonder."
--Donald Miller, "Blue Like Jazz"

The hubby and I went to see Don Miller speak tonight at the Church of the Open Door in Maple Grove, MN.  It wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be...  He was there with three musicians - so it was more of a concert with a little bit of talking by Don, then worship, and Q & A.

But.  It was totally worth it.  After Don spoke, my hubby looked at me and said, "that makes perfect sense."  I knew he would "get" Don and "get" my excitement over the things I'm learning and discovering through Don.

It was a good night!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The mentors that work with my confirmands - and the good discussions they are having!
2.  All the people that make Sunday mornings happen at church!
3.  Stories starting to come in from the "Living a Better Story" experiment.
4.  Chatting with new friends.
5.  A two hour nap.  Uffda!
6.  Donald Miller.
7.  An interesting conversation with the hubby.
8.  Deciphering meaning behind songs in the car on the way home.
9.  A sleepy dog.
10.  Reading before bed...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Whoa, Snow!

We woke up this morning to this:

I wasn't quite ready for it - but it sure has made for a wonderful day!  The power was out this morning, so we cuddled up with our irish coffees by the fireplace and took advantage of no tv, no computers, and no radio.  We watched the birds at the birdfeeder, played with the dog, talked and laughed.  I loved every minute!
(Bailey wasn't to sure about this snow stuff...  She came around later in the day!)
We went for a walk in the snow in the evening - I forgot how hard it is to walk in 6 inches of snow that hasn't been shoveled or plowed!  We did one lap in our nature area and headed home...  But the dog LOVED every minute!  So fun...

Things I'm thankful for today:

1.  The 3 hour power outage - reminder of a truly quiet and simple morning.
2.  Irish coffees.
3.  The quiet beauty of snow.
4.  Not needing to go anywhere today.
5.  Warm soup for lunch.
6.  Plenty of time to work on my sermon for tomorrow.
7.  An attempt at a walk - beautiful! 
8.  Ordering pizza for dinner (that's an unusual occurance in our house!).
9.  So many birds at the birdfeeder today! 
(I see you, Mr. Cardinal...)
10.  Peace.
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