Tuesday, August 31, 2010

House of Belonging

"The blueprints of your House of Belonging exist as spiritual energy and hover over your head, ready, when you are, to be pulled down from Heaven to shelter your soul on Earth.  Each day, as Emily Dickinson says, you 'dwell in possibility.'  You must believe this because it's true.

"The House of Belonging is an ancient Celtic metaphor for the human body as the earthly home for the soul; it is also used to describe the deep peace and feeling of safety, joy, and contentment found in intimate soul friend relationships.  This beautiful expression of connection is poetically explored in John O'Donohue's 'Anam Cara.' 'When you learn to love and to let your self be loved, you come home to the hearth of your own spirit.  You are warm and sheltered.  You are completely at one in the house of your own longing and belonging.

"Building the House of Belonging is the soul's commitment to living a passionate life; your Authentic Self is the architect...  The timbers with which you build the House of Belonging are your choices; courage is the foundation stone; patience, perserverance, and permission are your bricks; faith is the mortar."
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Something More"

Love this.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A good planning meeting.
2.  A surprise lunch - "gazpacho" with my pastor - yummy!
3.  More yummy tomatoes - thanks, Pat!
4.  Making one of my favorite summer meals - "funky spaghetti" with the fresh cherry tomatoes!
5.  The hubby telling me that my homemade french bread is awesome.
6.  The dog's need to cuddle tonight.
7.  The hubby's sympathy during a migraine.
8.  "America's Got Talent" - fun stuff tonight!
9.  An eye mask.  So helpful.
10.  Essential oils - especially lavender/eucalyptus.  Perfect for a headache!

Monday, August 30, 2010


"The blessings for which we hunger are not to be found in other places or people.  These gifts can only be given to you by yourself.  They are at home in the hearth of your soul."
--John O'Donohue

"The life we want is not merely the one we have chosen and made.  It is the one we must be choosing and making."
--Wendell Berry

Choices, choices, choices...  It's the whole theme of my morning reading today...  And I've been trying to make a choice that could be a big deal to me.

Last week, I entered an essay contest to win a trip to a seminar in Portland about "Living a Better Story."  It's a seminar about deciding what you want your life story to be - and having the courage and strength to make it happen - and beginning to figure out the steps to get there.

I'm pretty sure I won't win after reading some of the other entries - it's always the sappy entries that win, right?  Mine's just a dream...

So, I'm in the process of deciding if I should just pay the full price to go.  It would be a big dent in our checking account - and a selfish dent at that.  But one that could give me the boost I need to start taking action to make my dream happen.  It could be just the motivation to get me on the right path.

I knew as soon as I read the book that this seminar is based on (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller) - that this could be a turning point for me.  Then, I came across a website talking about the seminar and I immediately wanted to sign up!  But...  While I may talk big about doing whatever is necessary to live your authentic life and follow your dreams...  It can be pretty hard when it affects more than just you.

Now I have a friend who is "in" and wants to go with!  The hubby has given me a luke-warm "ok."  Now I have to see if my boss will support this weekend away... 

Ugh.  I wish decisions made themselves...  Life would be so much easier. 

What hard decision are you facing today - and where is your heart leading you?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  "Omens" tugging you in a certain direction.
2.  Em and Elly visiting for a pool day.
3.  Elly squealing at the sight of my dog, Bailey!
4.  A beautiful day for the pool.
5.  Getting work done in the afternoon.
6.  All kinds of interesting reading.
7.  Punch Pizza.  Yum.
8.  A full gas tank and a clean windshield.
9.  Finishing "Pillars of the Earth."
10.  Support from friends.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

People Pleasing

"The more one pleases everybody, the less one pleases profoundly."

"Making everyone around you happier by trying to please them all at once is an insidious little trap.  It sounds wonderful, and it might be, if it were possible.  More importantly, the impulse to please leads us down roads that are not known for inspiring true, deep happiness and affection in anyone...

"...We're better off remembering that we make people happy first by being happy ourselves, because joy spreads faster than a flu bug in winter.  Second, we can only hope to inspire happiness in others by allowing room for our differences, even if they might occasionally flare up into disagreements.  Third, we make people happy by paying attention and learning about what excites them and inspires them, and figuring out special ways to nurture those feelings in a way that brings us delight at the same time."
--Mina Parker, from "Less is More"

A good reminder.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Cherry pie.
2.  A lovely chat with two ladies at church, today. 
3.  A fun and lively church service.
4.  A beautifully done sermon.
5.  Finishing a crazy book.
6.  Returning some things to the store...  Sometimes, you'd just rather have the money back.  Ha ha ha.
7.  Cheerful gerbera daisies on my dining room table.
8.  Trying a new recipe - "Italian Breakfast Sandwich" by Giada.  Yum.
9.  Making the breakfast recipe for dinner.  Ha!
10.  The hubby made it home safe and sound.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Day with Amanda

This is my friend Amanda. 

We've been friends since my junior year of college...  so, a long time!  We've been known to watch Muppet movies, color, paint, and make pinwheels.  We love to share music and go see Jason Mraz concerts.  We've been to Austin, Texas, together to see the Austin City Limits Music Festival (and celebrate her 30th birthday).  We've cried at movies (she squeaks!), laughed at each other's quirks, and stayed up to all hours of the night talking about boys... and life.

She's one of my best friends - and she's thinking about moving to Minnesota (in the next 1-3 years).  So...  Her recent weekend visits have been lots of fun - because I get to finally take her to all my favorite places around the Twin Cities!  Here is our latest adventure:

This morning began sleeping in (of course!) and a yummy breakfast of french toast, bacon, and fruit.  Yum.

Then, we went to the pool to sunbathe and soak up the last rays of the summer!  She gets really glammed up for the pool!  (Amanda - I forgot once again to take a picture of the big, floppy orange hat!)

Back to the house, a quick snack and showers...  Then off to our daily adventure!

We drove down Grand Avenue in St Paul - and did a little shopping at Bibelot.

Then, onto Minnehaha Falls for some seafood tacos and a beer from Sea Salt (and great music!).  The falls were raging, so we spent some time admiring their beauty!

A drive through Uptown followed - complete with a visit to Sebastion Joe's Ice Cream for some "Nicollet Pot Hole" ice cream cones.  Delish!

Followed by a drive around Lake Harriet and Calhoun - ending up at the Lake Harriet Bandshell for some gypsy jazz music - so fun!  As we sat out there, we watched the sun set...  Beautiful.

One last stop for the night?  The Happy Gnome pub in St. Paul.  Tried a couple of new beers, enjoyed the funny bartenders, and ended the night on a happy note!

So fun.  Can't wait til you get moved here, Amanda!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Friendships that last forever.
2.  Staying up late with a girlfriend - laughing til we absolutely HAVE to go to bed!
3.  Homemade french bread for french toast.  Yum!
4.  A fabulous pool day!
5.  Getting to go to several of my favorite places - all in one day!
6.  Dog-watching at Minnehaha Falls.  Too fun.
7.  Watching the little kids boogie to the music!
8.  "Nicollet Pothole" flavored ice cream.  Good Lord, is it yummy!
9.  Navigating the Cities like an old pro!
10.  Such a good day.  Loved it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

500 Posts! ...And Friday Fave Five - August 27th

Wow.  500 posts on a blog...  Never saw that comin'!  I started this just as a little place to write down thoughts and experiences...  and never thought I'd have people joining me along the way or that it would become a daily experience (most of the time).  How fun!

Today, my morning reading fit perfectly with celebrating a milestone!  Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"It's never too late - in fiction or in real life - to revise."
-Nancy Thayer

"Live so that when someday comes, you'll be able to say, as Mary C. Morrison does in her wonderful book about aging, 'Let Evening Come': "We have had our world as in our time, and if we relive it well in memory, it will bring us wisdom.  We will come, each of us, to see our life as the whole that it is.  Events that seemed random will show themselves to be parts of a coherent whole.  Decisions that we were hardly aware of making will reveal themselves as significant choices, and we can honestly and dispassionately regret the poor ones and rejoice in the good ones.  We can call up emotions that seemed devastating in their time, and recollect them in tranquillity, forgiving others and ourselves.  When we do this, we have truly had our world as in our time, and it is our possession from that time on, giving us its gifts of wisdom and wholeness."
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, from "Something More"

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis."
--Margaret Bonnano

So today I ponder the steps I can take today to increase the chances that I'll live my happily ever after...  What steps will you take?

And...  The Friday Fave Five!  Susanne hosts a chance for each of us to look back on our week and share five of our favorite blessings of the week...  If you'd like to join in, link up at her blog!  Here are mine:

1.  Last Friday night, the hubby and I took my parents out to a Jazz Club in Minneapolis to listen to some great music, have some great food, and enjoy a night out - celebrating Dad's birthday and their new "empty nest" status.  A very fun night!

2.  Last Saturday, our church council had a retreat to look back on the past year and forward to a new year of ministry together.  It was a time of learning, fellowship, and some deeper sharing than we've ever managed before!  I was so proud of the whole group and their willingness to be a little more vulnerable as they seek to move forward in faith.  Loved it.

3.  Saturday night the hubby and I went back downtown for a fun block party hosted by the Red Stag Supper Club.  We had the chance to see one of our favorite bands, "Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons" - outside and free!  Later we met up with some other friends and got to hit a couple of other places in the city we've been meeting to check out.  A fun night!

4.  I was asked to share my faith story in church on Sunday...  A daunting task.  As I wrote it up, I started to get a little nervous and asked my hubby if I could run it by him first.  He said "sure."  As I was reading it to him, he started to tear up!  Ohmygoodness.  That was not the intent!  When I was done, I asked him why it made him teary - and he simply said, "You know who you are."  Awwww...  A sweet moment.

5.  It's been a quiet week...  Work is a little slow.  Nothing's been going on in the evenings.  I've gotten to do some cooking and cleaning, some reading and lounging.  It's been lovely - and I'm enjoying every minute before the busy-ness of the school year starts!

And... the things I am thankful for today:

1.  A playful dog.  Yes, even at 7am on my day off...
2.  A lazy morning.
3.  A yummy new banana bread recipe.  Watch for it next Wednesday!
4.  Another workout.  My knees have never been so sore!
5.  Lunch with the hubby before he left for the weekend.
6.  The hubby noticing my biceps!  Ha ha ha.  Yep, they're there somewhere!
7.  Cleaning out my closet.  Uffda.  Got another load for Goodwill.
8.  A lazy evening.
9.  Lemonade.
10.  My friend, Amanda, coming to visit tonight!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


A friend of mine (thank you, Jill) sent me a video by Brene Brown earlier this week - all about vulnerability - how when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable we allow joy to enter our life.  LOVED it!

Then a couple of days later, my mom sent me the link to Brene Brown's website and blog.  So many interesting things to read.  LOVE it and love her way of viewing life!

This piece of artwork is found on Brene Brown's website - I've posted it as my desktop on my laptop and have been reading it every morning.  LOVE it.

Just had to share!  Hope you're enjoying this beautiful day!

Today I am thankful for:

1.  Getting to work from home.
2.  The lovely breeze coming through our windows!
3.  Banana bread.
4.  Having my staff over to my house for lunch today.  So fun.
5.  The mix CDs my hubby made me for the kitchen.  So fun to cook to!
6.  Watching the neighbor kids try to play frisbee with our dog.  Too funny.
7.  The dog said her prayers perfectly for our houseguests - ha!
8.  Looking forward to a quiet weekend!
9.  The way my dog drops her ball on our feet when she wants to play.
10.  Loving where I live...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Disappearing Marshmallow Bars

Whoa.  These things are crazy - gooey, sweet, a little salty, just enough chocolate to balance the butterscotch - crazy, I tell ya!  My youngest sister, Kayla, wanted these made for her Graduation Party this summer...  I was a little skeptical - but they were the first food to disappear!  (Warning: have a glass of milk nearby - they are rich!)

Disappearing Marshmallow Bars
from Allrecipes.com and recommended by Kayla.  (Don't worry, Kay, I won't tell about the first time you made them!)

You'll need:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows  (Hint: 2 cups marshmallows does not equal 16 oz!)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

To make:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

2) Using a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butterscotch chips and butter together in the microwave, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

3) In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix in the melted butterscotch chips, then the flour, baking powder, and salt until smooth.  Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips last.  Spread evenly into the prepared baking pan.

4) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in preheated oven.  Cool, and cut into squares.

Makes 24 bars.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Another workout.  Uffda.
2.  An old high school friend doing an audition tape for SNL - too cool!  (Adam, you'd be great!)
3.  Homemade banana bread...
4.  A good job evaluation. So nice.
5.  A clean house.
6.  Fresh flowers on the dining room table.
7.  Things to look forward to.
8.  A glass of wine... or two.
9.  Grilled corn on the cob and watermelon - I can't get enough of either!
10.  The hubby gave the dog a bath...  Both are happier now!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Faith Thoughts

"The spiritual journey is one of continually falling on your face, getting up, brushing yourself off, looking sheepishly at God, and taking another step."

"Why indeed must "God" be a noun?  Why not a verb - the most active and dynamic of all?"
--Mary Daly

"Faith is the centerpiece of a connected life.  It allows us to live by the grace of invisible strands.  It is a belief in a wisdom superior to our own.  Faith becomes a teacher in the absence of fact."
--Terry Tempest Williams

So many ways to look at faith... and in so many ways they are all accurate!  The first time I read that first quote, I didn't like it...  The 'looking sheepishly at God' part seemed a little too shame-filled.  But come on, let's get real - we all have times in our lives when we probably should be looking a little sheepish!  When we gossiped, when we lied, when we could have helped and didn't...  It's just a dose of reality - we mess up, we look to God for forgiveness, and then we move on.

I love the second quote - God as a verb!  Dynamic, powerful, always moving in the world...  Moving through me, guiding me, nudging me, and strengthening me along the way...  Some say "love is a verb" - maybe they go hand-in-hand?

And the third quote - so true!  "Faith is the centerpiece of a connected life."  Faith in God connects us to all things - to each other, to tragedies in the world, to blessings and celebrations, to the needs of ourselves and others, to the earth - all connections in my life, begin and end with my faith in God.  "It allows us to live by the grace of invisible strands.  It is a belief in a wisdom superior to our own..."  Those invisible strands of grace are what gets me through when the going gets tough...  The idea that there is a God of love carrying me through with loving grace - whose wisdom surpasses anything I might claim as wisdom...  That I can trust to help me move on - with hope for what's to come.

So many sides of God and so many ways to look at our faith...  These readings all came from Sarah Ban Breathnach's book "Something More."  Just a part of my morning reading - but they connected so well with some of the other things I've been reading this week, I just had to share!

Have a wonderful day!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  This blog
2.  Working out with a new inhaler!  Woo-hoo!
3.  A fun staff meeting outside of the church.  Nice.
4.  Being able to work from home most of today.  Double nice.
5.  A beautiful day - perfect!
6.  My pharmicist - always kind and funny.
7.  The Olive Grove Store - so fun!
8.  Chicken tacos - yum!
9.  Baking.
10.  A hubby who helps around the house.  Lucky me!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sharing the Wealth

Here's two great blog posts that have made me smile today - Enjoy!

Molly Irwin: On Vulnerability - it's about 17 minutes, but very good!

Jason Mraz: Words - one of my favorite musicians talking about thinking "this is what my life looks like." I loved it!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Being able to smile when I say "this is what my life looks like."
2.  A cool morning...
3.  A yummy summer dinner - trout on the grill, melon, berries, edamame...  Yum.
4.  A nice man warning us the pool was polluted before we walked all the way there tonight.  Bummer - but nice of him.
5.  Friends sending me all kinds of links to interesting things today.
6.  Watching our dog play, and play, and play, and go for a walk, and play, and play...  She's one happy pooch tonight!  Her tail hasn't stopped wagging yet!
7.  Cold showers on hot, humid days.
8.  The smell of flowers in the breeze.
9.  A beautiful - but buggy! - walk tonight.
10.  Vanilla ice cream with homemade strawberry jam.  My new favorite summer treat!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Faith Story

Today, at church, I was asked to share my faith story...  Yikes.  That's a little scary!  But, I had so many comments afterwards and requests for copies, that I thought I would post it here.  So here goes!

"My story… Where to begin? We have so many stories… For me, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. I could tell you about growing up from day one in a home that went to church. I could tell you about the Sunday school teachers that loved me and cared for me as a small child. I could tell you about the Sunday school teacher that ended up going to prison for a crime they committed that kept me away from church for awhile. I could tell you about the church that I spent my high school years in and all the wonderful people and experiences that formed my faith journey… I could tell you about the moment I stood on the edge of a ravine in the mountains of Jamaica, in the pitch black of night and watched millions of fireflies light up the valley. I could tell you about the time I swam out as far as I could in a lake up north, at dusk, and felt the air in my lungs, the breeze on my face, and felt ALIVE. I could tell you about my struggle with my faith in college – the questions of “am I really a Christian if I believe as liberally as I do?” The doubt that crept in as the conservative Christian friends I had, judged my faith journey and tried to change me into something I was not. I could tell you about my experience with depression and finding God again in the midst of that. I could tell you about losses, scares, and bad decisions – and wondering where God was when those things were happening. I could even tell you about the gifts in my life – the wonders and the blessings that have made me who I am and have reminded me that God is there – in all things, right by my side, helping me to move forward with hope and expectations.

We all have LOTS of stories to tell… And I was having a hard time trying to figure out which one you needed to hear about me today. So I’m going with something I read in the book “Unbinding the Gospel – Real Life Evangelism” by Martha Grace Reese instead. When she talks about telling our story she asks two questions: 1) Who is God to you – why is God important in your life? And 2) Why would anyone else need God in their life? Here’s what I came up with for me:

Why is God important to me? Because God is Love. Hope. Acceptance. Freedom. Peace. Strength. Courage.
*God is important to me because of the love I feel knowing that God created me, sustains me, loves me through the good and the bad.
*God gives me hope that when things feel like the world is coming to end (during tragedy, depressions, sickness, and challenges) and I no longer know where to turn – there will be a rainbow at the end of the storm. There will be family, friends, and community members ready to care for me, accept me, and pick me up when I fall – the hands of God in our hurting world.
*God offers us acceptance when the rest of the world lets us down – when we feel abandoned by those who matter, God is with us whispering love and assurance, helping us to go on.
*God is in the freedom I feel to be myself! God created me to be the person I am – faults, quirks, and all. God created me to use the gifts and talents I have to share love, hope, and acceptance with others – even when it’s the “unfashionable” thing to do – the freedom to live a wonderful life and see the good in others and our world, and not get caught up in the negativity that swirls around us in our culture.
*And by living that life of gratefulness, God brings peace into the midst of turmoil and grief, fear and busy-ness. God is in those rare moments when all seems well with the world – those moments of dazzle and delight, those moments of watching a sunset and seeing a rainbow.
*God is in the strength I feel when deciding to move forward, despite devastating news or a huge roadblock. God is in the strength I feel when it’s clear I need to stand up, speak out, or move on.
*And God can give the courage to do those things.

Why would anyone else need God in their life? To experience that love, hope, acceptance, freedom, peace, strength, and courage in a world where these qualities aren’t always the norm. To place their cares in the hands of a God who promises to be beside us. For the promise of something more – in this life and the next. To me, God has made my life the immense blessing that it is. Having God by my side makes the good days amazing, and the bad days do-able. Having God in my life helps me to live with an eye on the future – to live without fear and with expectations. Having God by my side has made me want to live this life in a way that shares God’s love with others – and in a way that says “thank you” for all that God has given me.

I often try to get to seminars put on by an organization called “Youth Leadership,” led by Tiger McCluen – a popular writer and teacher of Youth Ministry. One of the things that has always stuck with me, that he talks about frequently, is “What is your parking lot theology?” If you were to start talking with someone after church as you headed out to your car, and they asked ‘Why God? Why this church?’ Would you be able to give them an answer before you got to your car? Would you have the words to sum up your story in just a couple of minutes? This reminds me of those Mormon commercials, too (I love those!  They suck me in everytime!). If there was a 30-second spot about me and my faith – what would it say? I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and this is what I came up with:

My name is Megan Adams. I am a daughter in a family of all girls – easily a daddy’s girl. I am the oldest of three sisters – the quiet one, the listener, and the strength in time of crisis. I am an aunt and a godmother – the one who encourages the kids to be themselves and loves to ask the questions that make the kids blush (how’s that girlfriend?). I’m a wife to my best friend – someone who makes me laugh and looks to a future full of possibilities with me. I am a friend – one that can make fun of myself to reassure the other, who listens – and laughs, who plays – and cries. I am a woman who follows God – who seeks to live a life of gratefulness and joy for all the blessings that surround me. I seek to live a story that is worth the telling. My name is Megan Adams, and I am a Christian."

What is your story?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A little brown package on my desk at work...  Too funny!
2.  The opportunity to talk about my faith - and the responses that let me know it made a difference to someone.
3.  Fresh, juicy watermelon!  I just can't seem to get enough this summer!
4.  An afternoon at the pool - sun, a book, and cool water.  Nice.
5.  A hubby that loves me.
6.  Baby-sitting Elly, our god-daughter.
7.  Reading the "Bailey book" over and over and over again!
8.  Cuddles.  So nice.
9.  Air-conditioning.
10.  A busy busy weekend coming to an end.  Time to SLEEP!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


"To know God as He really is - in His essential nature and character - is to arrive at a citadel of peace that circumstances may storm, but can never capture."
--Catherine Marshall

This morning I was at a Church Council retreat - all of our key leaders in the church came together for a morning of fellowship, study, and looking ahead to what this new year will hold for our church.  We have a great group of leaders - full of ideas, questions, and wanting what's best for our church - and they're so fun to be around!  There's always lots of laughter when we meet and work together.

But today, as we were talking about what the words "evangelism" and "outreach" mean for our church, what it means to put words behind the actions we do in God's name...  We decided to try an activity inviting everyone to share an important moment with God from their lives.  Honestly, we didn't know if the team was ready for this kind of risky conversation...  We had no idea what would happen...

But wow.  What an immense blessing this team was to each other!  Stories were shared with laughter and tears.  Profound moments of life-changing faith were learned from.  Light-hearted stories of seeing God in humor and everyday life made each of us realize how relevant God is here and now!  Stories of devastation - and hope in the midst of it - gave all of us hope for our own lives... 

I couldn't believe my ears at the trust and openness we experienced this morning.  And my love for this group has grown by leaps and bounds!  What a honor to work with people who are willing to continue trying new things, have the courage to do it together, and are ready to continue looking at how this faith shapes their lives on a daily basis.

Thanks, team!  You're amazing!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Waking up on time after a late night out!
2.  Patience in the midst of closed roads and detours...
3.  A wonderful retreat this morning.
4.  An amazing group of people to work with.
5.  Andrea - for inviting us into her home and cooking for us!
6.  A 2 hour nap.
7.  Heading downtown in the evening for the Red Stag Block Party - good food, good music, wonderful weather!
8.  Corey Chisel and the Wandering Sons.  Awesome band!  (If you go to this link, listen to the song "Tennessee" - love it!)
9.  Jill, Kevin, and Kim joining us downtown!  So fun!
10.  Finally experiencing Nye's Polonaise Polka lounge and bar. Whoa.  Don't know if I need to do that again!  But...  been there, done that, check it off the list!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fave Five - August 20th

I'm back!  I love this challenge that Susanne at "Living To Tell the Story" puts out each week:  What are five things that made you laugh, smile, or feel blessed in the past week?  If you'd like to join in the fun, just link up at Susanne's blog!

Here are mine:

1.  An unexpected quiet weekend, last weekend.  We were supposed to go to the hubby's mom's and do some work around the house...  But as we were watching the weather reports and how it seemed to keep getting hotter and more humid by the day, the hubby decided we could postpone the trip.  Phew!  Now, we could have one of our only quiet, unplanned weekends of the summer.  Farmer's market, pool, an unexpected date out for scallop tacos and live music at Sea Salt Eatery...  LOVED it.  And sooooo needed it!

2.  Sunday evening we took my youngest sister, Kayla, out for dinner - our little "good-bye" as she headed off to college for the first time this week!  (I gave her a cool little necklace from Sherry Truitt's etsy shop - LOVE this!  So far, Kayla has posted many pics on facebook wearing her necklace!  Thanks, Sherry!)  It was a fun dinner with my hubby and I remembering back to our college days and what we would have wanted to know as we headed into the great "unknown."  A fun conversation - I miss ya, Kay!  We'll see you soon - you know I can't wait to visit!

3.  Connecting with friends from elementary school and college on Facebook this week.  So fun to see how their lives turned out - and to be remembered!  Life takes us all in so many directions that we never expect...  It just makes me appreciate the life I have!

4.  A group of 15 of us from church went to Feed My Starving Children again this week.  Along with the other groups that were volunteering, we bagged over 12,000 meals - that will serve 34 kids for an entire year!  Woo-hoo!  The message that our group leader gave that night revolved around the fact that just by being there that night, we HAVE made a difference in somebody's life.  A huge revelation for me.  If you'd like to read more about it, I wrote about that experience here.

5. Tonight!  We took my parents to the Dakota Jazz Club to see Davina and the Vagabonds (a local jazz, swing, New Orleans-style band).  LOVED it!  Good food, good drinks, fun with the parents, great music, and the hubby and I enjoyed a late night on the town afterwards.  The longer I live in the Twin Cities, and the more we get out and do stuff, the more I love it here!

Thanks, for checking in today!  It's always nice to have you!
Have a great week!

Oh!  And the things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sleeping in - but just a bit!
2.  Another workout - and it's beginning to get easier.
3.  Getting the house cleaned up before the weekend.
4.  Making cookies.  Yum.
5.  Fresh, juicy, sweet, wonderful fruit!
6.  The wonderful responses to yesterday's post.
7.  Time with Mom and Dad tonight - so fun!
8.  Pomegranate martinis.  My favorite foo-foo drink.
9.  The song, "Finally Home" by Davina and the Vagabonds.
10.  Lovin life!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Living a Better Story

On my way to Alaska this summer, I brought a book that had been sitting on my bedside for a couple of months.  I figured a 5 hour plane trip was as good a time as any to jump in!  The book was "A Thousand Miles in a Million Years" by Donald Miller.  I finished it in one sitting, have started re-reading it, and it's had me thinking ever since...

We always talk about, in the life of the church, learning to tell our stories - but what would happen if we first decided what kind of story we wanted to live?  The wheels have been turning... and turning... and getting stuck.

As many of you know, my dream is to one day own a bed and breakfast.  A B&B that focuses on gratitude (in fact, the name will be "The Gratitude Inn").  I imagine a place in the country where people can come take a break from city life, relax, spend time in a house that is environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly, eat foods that are local and organic...  A place where our visitors can spend time outside, walk a labyrinth, sit by a campfire, listen to local musicians, and enjoy local art...  In other words... a place that can help people feel at home - both at the B&B and in their own skin. 

It's so easy to get caught up in our busy lives and forget to take a breath, pause, and say thanks for all the blessings in our lives.  That's why I started this blog!  After going through a difficult phase in my life - and realizing even in the midst of that, life was pretty darn good and I had so much to be thankful for!  I started this blog to record 10 things everyday that I AM thankful for.  To count my blessings.  I think my B&B could be a place where people are reminded to take that pause.  To say "thank you."

I've started a 3-ring binder of all my ideas, pictures, local artists, musicians, and craftsmen that I would like to include in the building and running of my B&B...  The vision is there.  The mission of helping our world to see the positive in all God has given us is there.  I even plan to have guest books in each room - encouraging guests to write down their "10 things" each night - and once a year, I will print a coffee table book for the great room with all our guests notes from the past year...  Wouldn't that be a great reminder of all the simple things we forget to say thank you for?!

My passion, since my scare with cancer, is to be thankful everyday - and to encourage others to do the same.  When my hubby has a bad day at work and vents for most of our dinner conversation - I usually follow it up with "10 things - go!"  And he, being the smart aleck that he is, will name off 20.  It's changed the way we see our lives...  And I'd love to help others experience this change of view, too.

The stumbling blocks?  1) Money.  We both work in non-profit jobs (and with the current economy, seem to be losing money every year instead of increasing).  2) The know-how to get started.  I have all the ideas, and I feel confident that once we're ready I'll have the drive and commitment necessary to keep it going and make it a success...  But I don't know how to get there from here.

I'm hoping to go to the "Living a Better Story" seminar in Portland, Oregon, this September to have a couple of days to hear how other people are planning to live their stories, to have some time to figure out what this means for my current story and where I need to start adding in chapters that look to the future, and to network with other fascinating people from all over the country who are excited about this life and where it can take us - the inspiration from being around these people will be amazing in itself!

At our church, we're currently talking about what it means to "tell our stories"...  Talking about the past is one thing - and can mean the world to those who hear it...  But right now, I'm excited to look to the future - how might God use me?  How can I make the world a better place?  Who are the fascinating people that will help me along the way?  What adventures will get me there?  So many questions... and in the midst, remembering to enjoy the ride along the way!

Life's short... and oh so good!

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

Today I am thankful for:

1.  A quiet day at work.
2.  Day 3 of an intense workout.
3.  A new magazine:  Whole Living.
4.  Not caring about my frizzy hair.
5.  The Avett Brothers Band.
6.  Going for a walk tonight and not getting winded.
7.  Discovering new bands to go see in the Twin Cities.
8.  Fun notes back and forth with Emily.
9.  An excited phone call tonight from Kayla.
10.  Looking forward to all kinds of fun stuff this weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yummy Wednesday - Giada's Marinara Sauce

Yum.  Thank the Lord my sister finally got me this cookbook!  I love this marinara sauce.  This week I made a HUGE batch to freeze - and I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned (while they're in season).  Fabulous!

Marinara Sauce
from Giada De Laurentiis' book, "Everyday Italian"

(We made it tonight with butternut squash fettucini and parmesan cheese.  Yum!)

You'll need:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves

To make:
1) In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
2) Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
3) Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.
4) Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.  (This sauce can be made 1 day ahead.  Cool, then cover and refrigerate.  Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups).  1 quart will serve 4 over pasta as a first course.  Freeze the rest for later!


Today I am thankful for:

1.  A clean kitchen.
2.  Day 2 of working out.
3.  A good doctor's appointment.
4.  A yummy dinner!
5.  An outdoor concert. 
6.  Catching up with friends.
7.  My dog hiding under my skirt when the hubby wanted to give her a bath!  Ha!
8.  My inhaler.
9.  Possibilities.
10.  Banjos.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reflection in the Mirror

So tonight 15 people from my church went to package meals at Feed My Starving Children.  I go to this organization probably 9 times a year to do my part.  We gather in a large room and work in assembly lines to fill little plastic packages with rice, dried veggies, soy, and a vegetarian chicken-flavored powder filled with 20 minerals and vitamins.  Each bag holds 6 meals.  And each meal, if eaten once a day, can take an 8 year old child from 18 pounds to 73 pounds in a matter of weeks.  It's amazing.

(The hubby and I at FMSC in January.  I didn't torture people with my camera tonight...)

I love going to help with this.  It's easy, fun work.  The people who work there are great and the people I go with are energetic and hard workers.  And while I know I'm doing something good, I've never really thought about my impact being a large one.  I guess I always figured, the nights I'm not there - someone else is.  Right?  No big deal.

Well, tonight our group leader made a statement that stopped me in my tracks.  He said, "tonight, when you go home, take a look in the mirror.  The person staring back at you just made a difference in a child's life."  I made a difference in a child's life tonight.  I made sure 34 kids were fed for a year by the work I did tonight.  Those 34 kids will have a better chance at a quality life, at an education, at finding joy on a daily basis - all because I gave up 2 hours of my time.

Yes, someone else could have gone - but without me, they would have had one less volunteer...  Maybe only 32 kids would have been fed for a year today instead of 34.  Maybe I made a difference to 2 kids today.

Wow.  That's something to hold onto.  How many other people do we touch everyday - without even realizing it?  How often do we make a difference in someone else's life...  just because we decided to do something, instead of waiting for someone else to do it?

As I saw my reflection in the rearview mirror on the way home tonight - I smiled and thanked God for the opportunity to do something.  What a blessing!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Cool breezes.
2.  Open windows.
3.  Sore muscles.  (Means a good workout.)
4.  Reimbursement checks.
5.  Thinking about my littlest sister moving into the dorms for the first time today!
6.  Making reservations for a fun night out this Friday.
7.  Dinner with some church friends.
8.  Flip-flop shaped post-it notes!
9.  Feed My Starving Children.
10.  Knowing I make a difference in the world.

Monday, August 16, 2010


"'You pray in your distress and in your need,' Kahlil Gibran admonishes us. 'Would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.'
"If we did, we might experience more of them."
--Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Something More"

Why is it we only feel the need to pray when we are in the darkest, saddest days?  When there is trouble lurking?  When despair takes hold?

I've read several books in the last couple of years that have, in one way or another, suggested you wake up each morning with this simple prayer: "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

What a way to start a day! 

And today, as I woke up to sunshine streaming through the windows, a cool breeze rustling the curtains, and smell of flowers and lavender filling the patio...  It was very easy to say, "thank you."

What are you saying "thank you" for today?

Sunday, August 15, 2010


"Changing your life might be as easy as changing your outlook.  Or, if you're more inclined to a glass half empty view of things, you might say that changing your life might be as hard as changing your outlook.  How we see the world makes us who we are, and ultimately our attitude defines and informs our feelings and our circumstances.

"...We must also never forget that no matter how bad things get, optimism is always an option.  And usually the best one."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A fun outdoor church service.
2.  A gorgeous summer day.
3.  Giving pep talks.
4.  Lounge chairs by the pool...
5.  Finishing the book, "Be the Surprise" by Terry Esau. 
6.  An invite.
7.  Dinner with Kayla - before she leaves for college on Tuesday.
8.  Remembering our college days.
9.  Being excited for her new beginnings.
10.  Our dog playing with her squeaky ball...  Squeak, squeak, squeak...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Photo Hunt: Orange

Two of my favorite reads so far this summer - apparently I had an orange theme without even knowing it!
(Are you a little dzzy looking at this photo?  I'm pretty sure I created my own little optical illusion...  It keeps playing tricks on my eyes...)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sleeping in.  Nice.
2.  2 hours at the pool.  Loved it.
3.  A long nap.  Perfect.
4.  Frozen grapes.  (Just not too many at once- that causes brain freeze!)
5.  Funny notes on Facebook.
6.  Playing with the dog.
7.  Whole Foods.  I wish I could shop there all the time... 
8.  Sea Salt Eatery - a fun summer treat.  Scallop tacos, a cold beer, and live music.
9.  Lake Harriet Bandshell.  First time I've ever checked it out!  Michael Monroe was playing - great musician!  We sat and watched the ducks, enjoyed the breeze on the lake, had ice cream, and went for a walk to the Rose Garden.  A BEAUTIFUL night!
10.  The front is coming through as I type - rains and storms bringing cool, dry air.  I can feel it already!  JOY!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Re-cap

I can't believe another three weeks have passed - and summer is only a couple of weeks from ending!  Well, here's a few more snippets of my summer:

*  Another church outing - this time to Como Zoo and Conservatory to talk about John Wesley's 2nd Simple Rule:  Do Good.  A little scavenger hunt around the zoo, a couple of games and surprises, ice cream treats, and great people - a fun day!  Afterwards, the hubby and I were heading to Snuffy's Malt Shop for dinner and a malt and two other couples decided to come along and see what this place was.  It was a fun time!  Nothing's better than a Snuffy's banana-chocolate malt.  Yum!
(We were supposed to be on a scavenger hunt, looking for people doing good deeds...  but the hubby and I were too easily side-tracked by the animals...  The giraffe is his favorite - can you tell?)

*  Volunteering with the Summer Meal Program at our local high school.  Our church has been helping for one week a summer for two summers now.  It's a fun way to serve some of the kids in our own neighborhood!

*  One of my best friends, Amanda, came to visit for a weekend.  It was supposed to be a weekend to introduce her to more fun things to do around the Twin Cities (since she's thinking about moving here eventually)...  But it was fate that we went to the Dakota Jazz Club for a performance by Davina and the Vagabonds.  Amanda fell for a Vagabond.  And he fell for her.  So fun.  The rest of the weekend revolved around this connection - a couple of late nights and lots of girl talk.  So fun.
(Amanda had a good night... and that chocolate souffle made it even better!)

*  The hubby and I checked out a new cafe and music venue - the Aster Cafe.  Yum.  I can't wait to go see a band there!

*  A day with another of my closest friends, Emily.  We went to the Wilde Roast Cafe for lunch - Yum.  Then off to our yearly trip to the Aveda Institute for a little pampering.  I love a good massage!  Such a good day...  As always!

*  The Uptown Art Fair.  Love it.  So many fun things to look at.  So many fun people to watch.  And we hit it on the perfect evening this year - low humidity and somewhat cool.  A lovely evening!

*  My youngest sister, Kayla, had her Graduation Open House last weekend...  It's all seeming real now.  She's leaving this Tuesday for college!  It was fun having so many people stopping by my parents' house to wish her well and tell her how proud they are of her.  Friends, family, role models, and neighbors came out to celebrate with her and my parents.  So fun!  (I especially liked spending some time with my aunt and uncle, Ann and Todd, and their kids Trent and Jane - it's been a long time and was so fun to catch up!)

*  Our last big church outing of the summer - a ride down the Mississippi River on a Padleford river boat as we remembered John Wesley's 3rd Simple Rule:  Stay in love with God.  52 people came out on a steamy, hot day to enjoy some time together and have a new Twin Cities experience!  A fun day!

And finally... a quiet weekend.  We were supposed to head to Milwaukee this weekend to finish up some projects around the hubby's mom's house, but when we saw the forecast was continued heat, humidity, and storms - he decided to postpone the trip.  I hate to say it, but I was so glad!  I'm so excited to have a weekend with no plans...  Maybe the farmers market tomorrow... a little pool time...  getting caught up on some things around the house...  That's it.  Keeping it simple this weekend.  And loving the surprise of a restful weekend!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A lovely post by my friend, Andrea, about her visit to my home.  She made me cry...
2.  Lunch with Beth yesterday.  Fun to catch up over pizza...  Cuz we're always up for pizza!
3.  Finally looking through my Cooking Light magazine for this month - and so excited to try some of these recipes!
4.  Watching "The Pillars of the Earth" mini-series via netflix.com.  So good!
5.  Being reminded that even when I feel frustrated with life...  I have a good one.
6.  Breakfast for dinner.  Sometimes that just what you need.
7.  Making reservations to celebrate Dad's birthday (late) at the Dakota Jazz Club with Davina and the Vagabonds next Friday!
8.  Nectarines, clementines, frozen grapes, and melons in our fridge all week...  Yum!
9.  News that Emily R. is having a boy!  Awesome.
10.  A friend got a response that she had been waiting for... Yippee!
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