Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Inspirations - Miracles

"Faith in God...  is inseparable from faith in love.  To say that there is nothing that God cannot do is to say there is nothing love cannot do.  It does little good to ask God's help, if we ourselves remain unwilling to open our hearts in places where they are closed.  It is not just God's love for us, but our love for each other, that paves the way for miracles."
--Marrianne Williamson, Everyday Grace

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

There are a couple of lovely women in my life, struggling with cancer and the horrible toll of various treatments, side effects, and struggles with hope and courage and faith in the future...

I'm thinking of you ladies today - sending you prayers, love, and prayers for love to work miracles!

Miracles do happen!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A great day at church!
2.  The little kids singing "All Things Bright and Beautiful" - and they knew all the words!
3.  Today is Veterans Day - Thank you to all who have served, protecting our country, and demonstrating what a generosity of spirit really looks like!
4.  Operation Christmas Child - and the many boxes donated at church!
5.  All those supporting my Walk to End Hunger!
6.  A supportive - and loving - congregation.
7.  Laughter.
8.  Cuddly dogs.
9.  People who teach us so much through their hardest journeys - and the grace they travel them with.
10.  The ability to give, give, give!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Operation Christmas Child Fun

I've been looking forward to Saturday alllll week!

Hubby and get to share some coffee, a yummy breakfast, and a lazy morning...

Then I get to study, think, and write my sermon all day...

But the best part?!  Our Operation Christmas Child date!

Our church started sponsoring this charity last year, and Mike and I decided to make a date out of filling our two shoeboxes to the max!  They get sent to kids who otherwise may not experience a joyful Christmas and it's a practical way to show God's love.  (Kind of a "massive" conspiracy of kindness!)  Love it!

(The only bummer about the whole thing...?  I wish I could be there when the kids opened the boxes.  I can only imagine the squeals of delight and surprise!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The generosity of strangers.
2.  Time to share.
3.  Resources to share.
4.  Energy to share.
5.  Bouncy balls.
6.  Colored pencils.
7.  Head lamps!
8.  Satuday mornings.
9.  Farm fresh eggs.
10.  Friends getting answers to their questions...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pic of the Week - Voted

Proud to live in the United States!
Proud to "Vote No" to limiting soul mates!
Proud to "Vote No" to a voting practice that eliminates!
Proud to vote "Yes" to a man that rates!
Time to celebrate!
(Cheesy?  Yes.  But a great week!)
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Ideas.
2.  Dreams.
3.  Answers.
4.  Hope-filled people.
5.  Dinners with old friends.
6.  The hubby spoiling our dog rotten.
7.  Party-planning.
8.  Vanilla tea.
9.  Sweatshirts that bring back high school memories.
10.  A "warm" sunny day and beautiful evening!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Yummy Wednesday - BBQ Spare Rib Sandwiches

Oh yeah!  I spent Saturday evening trying something entirely new - prepping 8 meals to put in bags in the freezer... that would one day go in a crock pot!  (Not usually my thing...)  But, the meals looked good and the price was right, and the timing was good - so we decided to try it out!

And with much trepidation, yesterday we heated up the first meal.  BBQ Spare Ribs.

And it was GOOD.  Really good.  Hubby couldn't stop smiling.

So here it is - I'll share it with you!

Slow-Cooker BBQ Spare Ribs from
You'll need:
1-2 lbs of country-style pork ribs
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 Tablespoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
To Make:
1)  Place pork in resealable gallon-sized freezer bag.
2)  Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pork. Mix together in bag and zip closed.
3)  When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours.
4)  Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.
We then shredded the meat and ate it on hamburger buns, with a side of mashed potatoes.  Delish!
Makes about 6 servings.
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  A quiet day at work.
2.  Getting things done.
3.  Excited about this season of giving to charities!
4.  So happy how the election turned out!
5.  So proud of my state for voting NO to the marriage amendment and the voter id amendment!
6.  A funny phone message from my sister.
7.  The lovely people that support me in my charity work.
8.  Hugs.
9.  Happy hours.
10.  Onomatopeia...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful Tuesdays

Today's weather, news, events:  Misty, cold, dreary morning...  Quite the yucky start to Election Day!  Even Hurricane Sandy has taken a back seat in the news - all political all day!

I am grateful for:  Our traditional Election Day date - Mike and I get up, go get Starbucks, and then go vote together.  I love sharing this moment with him!  We make it fun and special... And then we spend the evening watching the returns together - hopeful and optimistic! 
Also, grateful for fun phone calls from dear friends!

Spiritually I:  Am exploring the idea of generosity...  With money, time, forgiveness, blessings, energy, compliments...  All of it.  What does it mean to be truly generous - and not expect anything in return?

People in my thoughts today:  All of us with hopes and dreams for our country, and our state, wrapped up in the election...  In Minnesota, I especially have all the same sex couples in my mind and heart today.  Our state is voting on making marriage only between a man and a woman - a vote I wish we never even had to make.  Love is love.  And I know some pretty beautiful gay couples - that make me proud!  It makes me sad and disappointed that they are still being discriminated against...  My prayers are with them!

Magical moments (comfort, peace, and love):  Voting this morning.  I didn't know how emotional it would be, until I was filling in the little black circles.  Tears came to my eyes and I got choked up...  It always surprises me how overwhelming it can be when I realize that I - little ol' me - have a say in what happens in our state, country, and world.  It boggles my mind that some people choose not to vote...  Even if my candidate or proposition doesn't win - I tried!

Donations of the heart (acts of kindness, sharing, caring, and forgiveness):  Serving communion at our All Saints Day service and comforting those who were grieving.  Making my parents dinner.  Sending notes to those we miss at church.  Being a listening ear. 

For a better tomorrow (goals, ideas, etc):  Hopefully, getting healthy!  I need to kick my cold!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Go Shelf By Shelf

Mondays are my day to catch up on reading "Happier At Home" by Gretchen Rubin.  I'm trying to take a challenge a week and see what kind of progress I can make.

Last week, I looked around the house at my "shrines" to the things and people that are important to me...  Basically, decorating with clusters of things that have a theme.  I also started a new project for our loft - a shrine based on travel!  One piece done.  A few more to come!

This week's challenge is to go "shelf by shelf."  Basically, clear out clutter.  Funny...  I've been in the mood to do this anyway!  Yippee!

Ms. Rubin says one of her a-ha moments was realizing that "Outer order contributes to inner calm."  I so agree - even when people like to make fun of me for this!  (Admit it - you do!)  Clutter and messes just distract me from being able to relax and enjoy the moment.  So why not get rid of clutter to begin with?

I really liked her tips as she went.  Here are the ones that pertained to me:
1)  Clean as you go - check.  I kind of do that already, especially in the kitchen.  I also pick up the house before bed most nights.  (Some days our house looks like we run a preschool - and all we have is a dog!)
2)  Abandon a project - Ha ha ha ha!  All those projects you've begun, or hoped to begin, but...  Not so much?  Keep the parts you'll use and get rid of the rest!  (I need to do this...)
3)  Clear surfaces.  We do pretty well at this...  But could do better.
4)  Think about appearances - yep.  I already do that.  When I was in college, I was an RA in the dorms.  Our Hall Director pounded into our heads the idea that our rooms should always be clean, neat, and tidy so that residents are always welcome in to talk and visit.  Ever since then, I have a need to keep things ready for company...   Even though we almost never have people "just drop by"!
5)  Beware of problem objects - those that are useless, broken, saved (for no reason), pretty but not practical, tucked away and forgotten - and wouldn't be missed...  Out they go!

I plan to start going through our house again with two requirements - 1) Do we love it?  2) Do we use it?  (Anything that doesn't fit those catagories will get donated, sold, given away, or thrown out.)

How do you deal with clutter?  I'd love to know your tips!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Home.
2.  Pj pants.
3.  Understanding team members.
4.  Leftover chili.
5.  Wi-fi.
6.  People willing to be mentors for my youth group kids!  What a gift!
7.  A lovely comment on a blog post.
8.  Cold meds.
9.  Especially Nyquil.
10.  A cleaned out and organized freezer!

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
--William Morris

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Thoughts for the day...
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
--John Wesley
"We make a living by what we get,
We make a life by what we give."
--Sir Winston Churchill
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
--Mitch Albom
Today I am thankful for:
1.  My hubby remembering to set the clocks!
2.  An extra hour of sleep.
3.  A fun Sunday school class.  Love my youth group!
4.  A beautiful Communion/All Saints Day at church.
5.  Being able to offer comfort to others.
6.  Squeezing in a quick afternoon nap.
7.  Dinner with Mom and Dad.
8.  A yummy new chili recipe - Thanks, Alex!
9.  A little "Chubby Hubby."  (And no, I'm not talking about Mike!)
10.  Falling asleep early!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Anniversary Fun

Last night was my "surprise" date with the hubby, celebrating our anniversary!  We take turns every year planning the date - it's kind of a fun way to do things.  (We do the same thing with Valentine's Day.)  No sense in one of us always needing to remember and plan - we both like doing it!

So it was Mike's turn this year - and he did a great job!  What a fun night!

We started by driving to Robbinsdale, MN to a restaurant called "Travail Kitchen and Amusements."  The name alone sounds fun, doesn't it?!  Check out the link for a full explanation of what they do...  It's unlike any place I've ever been - and quite frankly, can't wait to celebrate another special occasion there!
Travail's kitchen crew and staff - so fun!
One of our 8 courses...  Mahi mahi.  Delish!
A little fun in the restroom...  Chalkboard walls.
So fun!

After dinner, we went to the Happy Gnome - a favorite watering hole...  They had tapped a keg of Surly's "Darkness" - so we got to try it!  (Nothing like celebrating 9 years of marriage with a little darkness...)
My date... 

But don't worry - we celebrated with light, too!  I got Mike a lamp that we've had our eye on for awhile!  And it looks lovely in our living room!

Really, if you just look at the words that describe our evening...  Travail (which means "toil"), Surly, and Darkness...  Good thing I brought a little light into it!  Ha!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Breakfast in bed!
2.  Coffee - at home!  (We finally got a new coffeemaker...)
3.  Finishing my project. 
4.  And loving it!  (I'll post a full pic when it's hung on the wall!)
5.  Still talking and laughing about dinner last night.
6.  Cooking together - the whole evening!
7.  Planning meals.
8.  Grocery shopping - we actually had fun!
9.  The dog's new "Bobo."  So funny.
10.  Mumford and Sons' new album, "Babel."  Loving it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Storyline Friday

"I asked my friend why he thought God did all this, made all these stars that seem to be so superfluous.
My friend said, 'it's obvious why He did it, Don.  He made the stars to dazzle you.'"
--One of my favorite Don Miller quotes, from Storyline 2.0
I'm in the process of working through Don Miller's "Storyline" process...  A process that is designed to help you "create a life plan that will give you clarity and direction for living a great story."
Basically, to help you answer the question, "When the credits roll at the end of my life, how will I have wanted to live?"
If you've read his books, or seen him speak...  At least for me - it was hard not to be inspired!  Sure, he says things occasionally that I disagree with - but he has changed the way I view living my life.  And this is one of the tools I'm attempting to use to plan out my story.  So here goes!
His first tool is to make a timeline of your life so far.  Write down the positive turns and the negative turns - the major events that have made you who you are.  I tend to think my life is pretty "status quo" most of the time...  Maybe not so much. 
Finished plotting these events on your timeline, you're asked to come up with a theme that seems to be a common link between all the ups and downs...  So far, this is what has hit me about my timeline:
I've never been alone.  My challenges have always made me a better person.  I've been incredibly blessed - and have always used the sadnesses and frustrations to share with and bless others.
"Blessed to be a blessing" rings true for me.  Even in the hardest times - God has been at work through my life.
Hmmmm...  Where will this lead?
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Sleeping in.
2.  Coffee waiting for me.
3.  Time to work on creative projects.
4.  Plans with the hubby tonight!
5.  Warm, cozy cafes.
6.  Humor.
7.  Storyline.
8.  Guidance.
9.  Being loved, valued, and never alone.
10.  Helping others to know they are loved, valued, and never alone, too!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday - Pic of the Week

Today is our Ninth Anniversary!
"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
--Lao Tzu
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  My hubby.
2.  Playfulness.
3.  Respect.
4.  Dreams.
5.  Compromise.
6.  Planning for the future.
7.  Cooperation.
8.  Encouragement.
9.  Affection.
10.  Love.

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