Thursday, January 31, 2013

3 Day Prep - One Week In!

I'm so excited to be taking part in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk this year!

In the last week, I:
*  had two more people sign up to walk with me, and one more thinking about it (she's an old friend, that I don't see much, and I would LOVE to have her join us!  Wink, wink.).
*  was given my first two donations - $200, so far!
*  started doing some small walks (all I can do yet, according to my weight loss program).
*  set up my 3 Day web page, alerts on Facebook, and put "widgets" on my blog and email signature.

Feeling good!

This week, I'd like to:
*  get on the elliptical for 20 minutes a day.
*  put a change collection jar on my desk at work.
*  find two more people to walk with us!
*  start dreaming up some fun fundraising events!

Thanks for all the supportive comments last week!  I always know when I take on a new endeavor - I've got a ton of people backing me up.  That means the world to me! 

If you'd like to support my walk, there's a pink box to the right --->  Feel free to donate! 

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Prayers for friends.
2.  Making and packing my dinner last night.
3.  Shopping for a Bible Study with Jenny.
4.  A quick answer to some worries.
5.  Mittens.
6.  No cravings!
7.  Reassurance.
8.  Seat warmers.
9.  Remembering to bring my dinner to work with me!
10.  Friends wanting to introduce me to their friends...  Fun!

QotD:  Who do you want to be?
Me.  And no one else.  Life is good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What to Keep

Continuing my reading of Secrets of Simplicity, today the chapter is about "Cherishing Your Treasure...  What To Keep."

The idea is that your space says everything about you...  Interesting, huh?  It asks three questions to begin:

Use three adjectives to describe your feelings as you look at your space
Comfortable.  Peaceful.  Relaxed.

What does your space say about you?  We value a warm, comfortable, peaceful place that is our sanctuary from the stresses of the rest of the world.  Things here are neat and orderly (for the most part) to eliminate the stress of always needing to be working on projects or not being able to find something.    We - and our guests - can sink in, and relax!

What do you want your space to say about you?  I'd like a more whimsical spirit in our house...  Playful.  We have a little bit right now, but I'd like to add more.  I'd like to find ways to highlight our successes and memories in fun ways.  I'd like a project desk...  So there is always something in the works - new creations.

Next, take a moment to think about the areas in your home that remain cluttered, and answer these questions:

1.  Why does your environment remain cluttered?
a. it's not a priority    b. I can never get around to tidying it   c. I don't know where to start
d. I feel I will never finish   e. other...

2.  How does clutter make you feel?
a. confused   b. anxious   c. hopeless   d. embarrassed   e. indifferent   f. other...

3.  What is holding you back from releasing old things?
a. I am not sure what to keep   b. I'm insecure about making decisions   c. I feel I will need something the minute after I toss something out   d. I am afraid to let it go   e. other... keeping things for the sake of others' attachments to them

4.  What would make it easier for you to declutter?
a. knowing I am making the right decisions   b. not regretting losing something   c. knowing that it won't be time-consuming   d. knowing that it will really work   e. other...

5.  How much time will I commit to change?
a. one month   b. six months   c. one year   d. as long as it takes   e. other... 

6.  What does an uncluttered environment represent to you?
a. fear   b. excitement   c. work   d. freedom   e. other...

Now, pick a cluttered place to begin!  I know for me, I've already started...  I have three totes of papers, cards, pictures, toys, objects, etc that represent my past.  Much of what is in there I don't remember and don't really care about - but I also know there are some fun treasures there, too! 
 The totes...
  ...and the organizing system. 
(I knew I saved all those bags for a reason!)

As I go through the totes, these are the questions I will be keeping in mind:

When was the last time you used the item?  Can it be used again?
Is it a collectible that could be displayed and enjoyed?
Is the item something that brings back fun memories?
Would I like seeing this again?

I already have ideas for organizing papers and cards...  It's the objects that stress me out.  Do they just stay in a box?  Do I display some things?  We'll see...  Wish me luck!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Being able to laugh over a gross dinner last night...  Fail.
2.  Hubby got our taxes mostly done!  Woohoo!
3.  Realizing we could be debt free, except for our mortgage, by June!
4.  Heating pads (for the pinched nerve in my hip).
5.  This story...  This woman inspires me!
6.  Shrimp.
7.  Youthworker Journal.
8.  Looking forward to a fun weekend!
9.  Loose-r fitting clothing!
10.  Poodle kisses.

QotD:  What do you want to forget?
All those conversations that make me feel badly about a person or relationship...  It's hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt when they've already hurt you.  I don't like the walls that creates...  I wish there was such a thing as a "blank slate."  But's it's harder than it seems. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Just Checking In

Today's news, weather, events:  In the news, preparations are underway in New Orleans for the Super Bowl this weekend, and gun control and immigration are the main focus in Washington DC.   As for weather, we got three inches of snow on Sunday, yesterday stayed foggy and "warm," and today everything is covered in ice!  Messy winter!  Events?  Not much going on here today!

Today I feel: a little "blah."  Nothing's wrong, just a bit tired with a slight headache.  But, excited to be coming home for the dinner hour tonight!  What a novel idea!

I am grateful for: Advil.  Vitamins.  Almond milk.  A cozy office to work in.  Sandlewood candles. 

Spiritually I: am working on feeling centered and balanced in my faith.  Meditation/Prayer is what I'm focusing on this week!

People in my thoughts today: A friend who gets test results on Friday.  Another friend who started chemo this week - and is feeling lousy.  And yet, another friend, whose life seems to be falling apart around her (and is too stubborn to let us help!).  Prayers for all today!

Magical moments (comfort, peace, and love): Sunday afternoon, church event canceled, we were cuddled up watching "Downton Abby," and enjoying the big snowflakes coming down outside...  Safe, warm, and cozy.  A perfect Sunday!

Donations of the heart (acts of kindness, sharing, caring, and forgiveness): Signing up for the Susan G. Komen 3 Day in honor of three friends.  So excited to represent them - and possibly walk with one of them!  Also, excited about the possibility of a couple of other friends joining me! 

For a better tomorrow (goals, ideas, etc): trying meditation every day this week, doing some kind of exercise every day, and continuing to try more healthy recipes!

QotD:  What was the last TV show yo watched?  Castle.

Monday, January 28, 2013


My reading today in Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin is about her decision to value Time more.  Realizing that time goes by too fast, and making intentional changes in her - and her family's - routines in order to cherish moments.

"I wanted a pace of life that was deliberate - that felt neither fast nor slow."

"But things never slowed down.  If I wanted a feeling of unhurriedness, I would have to create it now."

"I also wanted to make sure that my time reflected my values."

"I decided to stop making the excuse 'I don't have time to do that.'  I do have time, if I make time for the things that are important to me."

So, based on my desire to squeeze in more exercise, try meditation, and be more social...  I need to work on time management as well!  (And adjusting priorities.)

So, I'm going to try getting up half an hour earlier - and keep going to bed earlier.  And maybe, for now, schedule my days by the hour - with breaks for new things. 

I can do this.  No problem, right?!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Snowy views out my window.
2.  The blessing of staying home today.
3.  Catching up on reading.
4.  A little time spent on projects around the house.
5.  Quiet.
6.  A clean house.
7.  Soduku.
8.  Hot showers.
9.  Finding forgotten gift cards!
10.  Looking forward to our tax returns!

QotD:  How do you describe home?
My sanctuary from the rest of the world.  When I am home with the hubby and the poodle, all is well in the world.  I am loved, valued, and never alone.  My parents have a plaque above their fireplace that says, "Let the world wag; for here we take our ease."  That's home.  I love it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


"It's the beginning of your day.  You wake and look around you,
feeling perhaps a joyful expectation, or perhaps an awful dread.
No matter which, remember this:
God loves you with an infinite love..."

"At the beginning of the day, the mind is most open to receive new impressions.  One of the most important things we can do is to take full responsibility for the power of the morning.

"If you want to have a nonmiraculous day, I suggest that newspaper and caffeine form the crux of your morning regimen.  Listen to the morning news while you're in the shower, read the headlines while you're walking out the door, make sure you're keeping tabs on everything: the wars, the economy, the gossip, the natural disasters...  But if you want the day ahead to be full of miracles, then spend some time each morning with God."
--Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace
Ahhh...  I've always liked the idea of meditation, but couldn't really bring myself to do it - any more than I could bring myself to read the Bible every single morning.  I know.  Shocking, right?  I try.  I can go a month or two reading every morning...  But then I get distracted. 
But, I've never really tried the meditation thing - as nice as it sounds...  My reading today went on to talk about all the ways meditation clears our hearts and minds for the day - a prayer time, a time to bless those we will meet throughout the day, a time to seek guidance from God...  I like that.
This week, my goal is to start getting more exercise in - but maybe I'll add five minutes of meditation each morning, too.  It's worth a shot!
Here's the prayer that's suggested (I like it!):
"Dear God,
I give you this morning.
Please take away my despair of yesterday.
Help me to forgive the things that caused me pain and would keep me bound.
Help me to begin again.
Please bless my path and illumine my mind.
I surrender to you the day ahead.
Please bless every person and situation I will encounter.
Make me who you would have me to be, that I might do as you would have me do.
Please enter my heart and remove all anger, fear, and pain.
Renew my soul and free my spirit.
Thank you, God, for this day.
I may just put it in my own words...  But the thoughts are perfect!
Have you ever tried meditation?  What did you like?  How did you struggle with it?
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  A wonderful speaker at church about Islam.
2.  An evening meeting and event postponed due to icy roads and snow (have to admit, kind of happy to stay home tonight!).
3.  Two people telling me I look like I'm losing weight!  Woohoo!
4.  Finished season 2 of "Downton Abby."  Almost caught up!
5.  Fresh snow!
6.  Going for a walk with the hubby and the pup.
Photo: Fresh snowfall = off for a walk!
Photo: Fresh snow and a wide open trail...  Poodle paradise!
7.  Mike carving up a whole chicken for me.  Ewwww...  I hate that job!
8.  My parents excited about their Christmas gift.  Too funny!
9.  Cute pics of my nephew on Facebook. 
10.  Off to bed early, again!

Saturday, January 26, 2013


QotD:  Today you needed more....

Ha ha ha.  Sleep!  I met one of my former youth group kids (he's a growned up man now!) for coffee at 8am, which means I left the house when I normally get up.  So much for Saturday morning! 

We met a great little coffee house in St. Paul - Nina's Cafe.  I've driven by it many times over the years, and always wanted to get a cup of coffee there - so I was delighted to stop in!  I had a "vanilla thrilla" tea that was delish!  The staff was friendly and fun, and it was great people-watching!  I'll be tempted in the future to go work there in the afternoons, when I have a long day...

And of course, the time I had with Andy was great.  He's always made an effort to keep in touch and meet up a few times a year for coffee or lunch.  And that makes me smile.  He's grown up to be a really good guy, and I'm proud of him!

I got home in time for a quick nap before our next adventure for the day - Elly's second dance recital!  Elly is our 4 1/2 year old goddaughter - that we adore.  And really.  What's not to adore about little ones in pink leotards and tutus?!  We watched her show, cheered her on, and had lunch at her house with her entourage (family).  Always a fun time at Elly's house!

Lastly, from there we went to St. Paul for the Red Bull Crashed Ice event.  Basically, crazy grown up men, on hockey skates, racing up and down crazy hills and turns, with a whole crowd waiting for a good crash.  Yowzers.  (It is kind of fun being there, though...)  This year, we met up with another couple and watched a few runs before realizing the crowds were a little much (150,000 people there that night) and we were freezing!  So, we walked to a pub for a couple of beers to end the night.
Photo: Crashed Ice tonight...  Crazy crowds and a warm up at the Happy Gnome.  Good night!

All in all, a great day.  But my bed is calling to me...  Good night!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Alarm clocks.
2.  Vanilla tea.
3.  Friendly baristas.
4.  A shy smile accompanied by a story of a new girlfriend.
5.  People-watching.
6.  Naps.
7.  Pink tutus.
8.  Girly giggles.
9.  Mr. Wonderful's snuggles.
10.  A whole day filled with friends!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Two Weeks

Today, I'm two weeks into my weight loss journey, and am down 6lbs!  Woohoo!

This week, my goals were to:
*  Journal all my meals.
*  Get 64oz of water in everyday.
*   Write down where and when I ate, and the circumstances around my meals.

Well, as much as I hate journaling my food - that's been easy.  Especially using the iphone app.  No problem!  (And it's easy when your meals are so simple.)

64oz of water?!  Pffff...  I get at least 80oz, no problem!  Water has not been an issue.   (I get at least 80oz, just drinking a 16oz glass of water with each meal...  Easy peasy.)

The interesting part of the week has been noticing my eating habits.  This is what we talked about in my meeting today.  Except for dinner, I almost always eat while doing something else - working, driving, on the computer, watching tv.  That's a habit I want to change.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be its own event.  Being more mindful of the moment - and what I'm eating.  (It's easy right now with two of those meals being portioned out for me...  But something to start changing now, so when I get to my maintenance phase, I've got a jump start!)

But my biggest a-ha of the week?!  I went out to dinner with a bunch of ladies one night.  They chose a bar and grill to meet up at - so I checked the menu ahead of time, looking for a comparable "lean and green" meal...  But alas.  There was one salad that I could have ordered with all kinds of changes...  But it would have been $13.  Not worth it.  So, I just got water.  No big deal.  Well, when the ladies' meals came, my first instinct was to be sad that I wasn't getting a big juicy burger or pizza or cheese curds.  But, quickly I realized 1)I'm not hungry.  I ate a "meal" right before I came in.  2)I'm not craving any of those foods...  They didn't even look tempting to me.  3)I was just jealous that they had something in front of them and I did not.  I realized these things within a matter of seconds, and then was perfectly happy with my water the rest of the evening!  Breakthrough!

Socializing is something I love to do - yet, I always struggle with the money aspect of always meeting friends out at restaurants and bars; and now my diet is something I need to learn to control when out as well.  It can be done - I just have to plan, set limits, and not be self-conscious about my choices.  Time to do what's best for me - and still enjoy everybody's company!  I can do this.  (Smile.)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Another 2.5lbs gone!
2.  Talking to my sister on the phone.
3.  My assignment for the week:  Do something for myself everyday.
4.  My fun, colorful scarf.  Cheers up a blustery, cold day!

5.  Supportive friends and family.
6.  Rewatching "LOST."
7.  A card in the mail today, from my blogger friend, Andrea!
8.  Another fun card from Sara.  (I should check the mail more often!)
9.  Beginning to sort through my "memory" rubbermaids...  So many nice notes and fun memories!
10.  Discovering a new band...  "Lone Bellow."

QotD:  What makes "you" you?
Oh dear...  My giggle?  My relaxed personality?  My faith?  My love of life?  Not sure...  I'll give it some thought.  What about you?  What makes "you" you?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

3 Day

Well...  I did it.  I registered.  I paid my fees.  I'm in.

I'm walking in the Susan G. Komen 3 Day Walk this August!  This has been something I've been interested in doing for several years...  But never thought I could.  I always had an excuse of some kind, mainly not being in good enough shape, and also afraid to raise the money.

But in the last year and a half, I've had three lovely ladies in my life be diagnosed with breast cancer.  I've prayed with them, cried with them, and cheered them on (mostly from afar).  It's a crappy disease and I want it wiped out.  For good.

My grandma, Baba, also suffered with breast cancer - many years ago.  I remember hanging out with her, as a little kid, when she was getting dressed one day.  I had no idea what she was doing when she put these clear balloon-like things in her bra!  I kind of giggled, thinking she was just stuffing her bra like the kids at school.  She giggled too, then told me what was really going on.  I'm pretty sure that was about the same time I first saw her without her wig - and freaked out!  I was too young to fully understand...  but amazed at this woman who was my grandma - and what she had to go through, and live with.

So, in honor of these four women, and the many others I've known through friends and family, I've decided this is the year!  Combined with my weight loss efforts, my desire to do something for myself, giving back to another segment of my community, and yes...  maybe a little pre-emptive karma (I don't have many fears in life, but I've been convinced for a long time that I'll someday deal with breast cancer)....  It seems like the perfect storm.  The year of my Walk.

I'm looking for people to walk with - if you're interested, check out the webpage at  If you'd like to donate in my name, click on the widget on the righthand side-bar!  And really, I accept all prayers as well!  This is a big goal for me - and I'm not too proud to admit, it's a little intimidating.  But that's also what makes it kind of fun!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  My sister reaching out on behalf of someone she doesn't even know.  Means the world to me!
2.  When I needed a little good news yesterday, I got all kinds of fun notes!
3.  New babies.
4.  New jobs (for friends, not me!).
5.  Friends finishing their cancer treatments.
6.  Tea with Tracy this morning - always fun!
Photo: Hot cup of tea at Black Sheep Coffee house...  And laughs with a friend.  Good start to the day!
7.  I got home at 8pm three nights in a row this week...  And three nights in a row, the hubby had dinner waiting for me.  I'm a lucky girl!
8.  New-found courage and determination.
9.  Writing prayers and blessings to 47 church members over the last two days.  A special experience.
10.  Puppy snores.

QotD:  If you were going to start your own company what would it be?
I would open a bed and breakfast.  Hubby would have a brewery/outfitter store.  Wouldn't it be fun to combine all three?!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Tips for simplifying your life (from Secrets of Simplicity):

1.  Recognize what motivates you. 
2.  Set goals, but start small.  (One thing at a time!)
3.  Manage your tasks, not your emotions.  (Worries drain and distract.  Just do it!)
4.  Do the most unpleasant task first.
5.  Recognize the time drainers in your life. 
6.  Meet needs before fulfilling your wants.
7.  Lose the cape.  (You're not a superhero.  You can't do everything!)
8.  Plan a vacation.  (Time to reflect, gain perspective, and recharge.)
9.  Organize. 
10.  Borrow.  (Don't buy new for a one time use!)

Hmmm...  "Lose the cape" and "plan a vacation" sound lovely today...  Learning to say 'no' should be a part of going "cape-less!"  I go in spurts - sometimes I have no problem saying no, and sometimes I feel like the world depends on me saying yes...  Time to get used to the N word again!

And a vacation just sounds simply lovely.  We don't have one planned yet this year.  Maybe that's the problem - I thrive when I have something to look forward to!  Maybe I'll plan a retreat day or two... for myself.  That could be nice...  Or a visit to an old friend?  Hmmm...  Something to ponder!

Which simplicity tip is calling out to you today?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A mostly clutter-free home.
2.  Mike made dinner for me last night, since I was getting home late.
3.  Hubby's support.
4.  A gathering with friends last night.
5.  Giggles about the The Bachelor.
6.  The ability to listen and support a friend.
7.  A friend's last radiation treatment!
8.  Videos of my little niece on the ski hills.  Too funny.
9.  Another friend's big, beautiful heart.
10.  Prayer.

QotD:  Do you need a break?  From what?
Well, doesn't that fit in with the conversation above?  Vacation?  Yes, please.  I don't think when I need to get away, it's necessarily to get away from something...  It's usually toward something.  Adventure, newness, renewal, reconnecting, discovering, and/or time to use as I'd like (not dictated by everyone around me).  A break is an opportunity for something outside the ordinary - which I love!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday's Check-In

Today's weather, news, events: 
Well, it's -9 degrees right now!  And that's not including the windchill!  Yikes! 
In the news, the Inauguration of President Obama (2nd term - woo hoo!) was yesterday - and the First Lady's dress is the news headline...  I admit, I like seeing what they wear.  But really, aren't there more important things going on in the world?
As for events, I'm going out for dinner tonight with my former book group ladies.  Should be a fun evening!

Today I feel:
Sleepy...  I had a whole string of vivid dreams this morning.  Still not sure how they all tied together.  One minute I was supposed to be giving a Sunday sermon at a church as all the altar stuff is being stripped and the mics and organ stop working...  The next, I'm lost in a foreign city, seperated from my husband and it's bitter cold!  Lastly, I'm a college kid at a lock-in kind of thing at someone's house in a small, rural town.  Weird. 

I am grateful for:
Sunshine today.  Cool water.  Kisses goodbye.  Lotion.  Being healthy.  Friendships.  Flowers.  Heated carseats. 

Spiritually I feel:
Peaceful.  Awake to miracles!

People in my thoughts today:
Sue, Gina, Sara - all battling breast cancer.  (I've decided to go to a meeting tomorrow night about the Susan G Komen 3Day Walk.  Maybe I can combine my desire to end breast cancer and honor my friends with a goal to lose weight and get more exercise!  We'll see....)

Magical moments (comfort, peace, and love):
Playing Wii with the hubby yesterday.  And hour and a half of friendly competition, laughter, and teasing.  Loved it!

Donations of the heart (acts of kindness, sharing, and forgiveness):
Just small acts lately - a listening ear, checking up on people in crisis, hugs, prayers, taking a moment to be with someone when they need a friend.

For a better tomorrow (goals, ideas, etc):
Better sleep tonight!  Get my closet finished!

QotD:  Are you seeking security or adventure?
Oh dear...  I'm the one in our house who usually will say, "let's just do it" when hubby says, "no, no, no..."  If I was single, security would probably not be my strong point.  Ha ha ha.  I like adventure - new places, new foods, new experiences, new trips...  But I also know the value of security - thanks to the people who love me!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Question of the Day:  What are you looking forward to?

1.  Book group dinner tomorrow night.
2.  Weigh-in on Friday.  (Weird, right?)
3.  Starting a one-on-one Bible study with one of my youth group kids.
4.  Elly's dance recital.
5.  Paying off all our debt.
6.  Another summer adventure with Mike.
7.  Getting some things framed and on our walls...
8.  Using my free-massage gift card!
9.  Getting a new TV.
10.  Valentine's Day.

How about you?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Having an extra day at home with the hubby.
2.  Another four years of President Obama!
3.  Talking about our budget - with no fighting!
4.  Playing a little Wii today...
Photo: A little Wii Resort on MLK, Jr. Day?  Why not?  ;)
5.  A yummy dinner (this healthy cooking isn't so bad!).
6.  Invites to bookgroups.
7.  An easy checkup at the dentist.
8.  A warm home.
Photo: Yuck!
9.  Hoodies.
10.  Dr. Bronner's Soap - almond. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013


"As we concentrate on being the people that God would have us be, a path of light opens up before us to ease our way.  Circumstances begin to fall into more harmonious patterns as we begin to find more harmony within ourselves.  We can tell when a situation is in 'the flow,' when we're no longer paddling upstream, when there is less stress involved in making something happen.  The effort to align ourselves with the holy and good is our greatest power to affect external situations..."

"...We can safely place our lives in the hands of God, as His Spirit knows far better than we do how to turn our earthly existence into streams of radiance..."

"...Sometimes it's less important to know how the world works that to know how change works.  We cannot change anything unless we ourselves are willing to change, for whatever problem we see in the world is only there as a reflection of our own internal state..."

"...Our true gift to ourselves and others lies not in what we have but in who we are..."
--Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace
Today at church, we were talking about what it means to experience (and be) a spiritual oasis in the midst of life - and what it means to offer that to others... 
We talked about church being a place of renewal, refreshment, refuge, and peace.  A place to take a break out of the everyday stress and obligations of daily life, in order to be reminded of God's amazing love - a love that tells us we are loved, valued, and never alone.
But the conversation didn't stop there.  We then asked: what can each of us do, in turn, to offer oasis to others?  What can each individual do to offer peace, comfort, hospitality, warmth, and love?  It's not about being on the right committe or task force or team...  But as a church, and as people, how do we live as people who truly share love in our world?
Because, as Marianne Williamson says above, I think the closer we live to God...  The brighter a light is cast on our path.  The more radiance shows through in our lives.  The gift is in who we are at the core, and what we can offer the world.
Beautiful, isn't it?  Happy Sunday!
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  People willing to share their stories.
2.  The kids asking me about my week.
3.  A teary-eyed elderly man thanking me for my ministry, this morning.
4.  The hubby doing extra work for me at church today.
5.  More "Downton Abby."
6.  Staying inside the rest of the day!  (It's 0 degrees here...)
7.  Playing with the dog and her squeaky ball.
8.  Feeling good and healthy!
9.  Sweatpants.
10.  Hubby fixed our internet connection!
QotD (yesterday):  List three foods you ate today:
Tilapia, tomatoes, Spinach
QotD (today):  Are you holding a grudge?  About?
Hmmmm...  I don't think I'm holding any grudges right now.  There are people that have hurt me, that I may treat differently based on trust levels and wariness...  But all are forgiven and no grudges!  (Grudges feel like a waste of energy to me.  What's the point?)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Yesterday's Question of the Day was:  What was peaceful about today?

Ahhh...  It was my day off.  I should have spent the whole day writing a sermon, but I needed the break.  I did some reading, I went to a meeting, I played with the dog, organized some stuff in the kitchen, ate dinner with Mike...  And in the evening, I worked on my sermon in the coziness of our home, sitting by the fireplace.

What wasn't peaceful about yesterday?!

Today, I'm back in my office, early in the morning...  So much work to do for tomorrow's church service!  But, enjoying having the church to myself.  Tea is in my mug, my candle on my desk is lit, it's quiet and warm and soothing.  If I get stuck on my sermon, I can go into the sanctuary and ask God for help (what a perk, huh?!).

In fact, my sermon is about the idea of "oasis" and how we offer oasis to others...  In a spiritual sense, of course!  It's been interesting to think about...  And I'm excited to put my ideas into a more coherent narrative.  What does it mean to find an oasis in God, in faith, in the church?  And what does it mean to share that with those who are missing it?  Is it active?  Is it passive?  Is it intentional or something you do only when you feel like it?  Is it a listening ear?  An offer of friendship?  Praying for someone without them even knowing?

Interesting questions...  But what I do know is that "oasis" is refreshing, rejuvenating, and... peace-filled.

Not a bad way to spend my day, contemplating peacefulness for body, mind, and spirit.

What does "oasis" mean to you?  And where do you find peace?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Getting up early...  Happily!
2.  Hubby making me coffee.
3.  A warm, cozy place to be as the weather starts to become frigid.
4.  Already knowing where my oasis in the world is.
5.  Time.
6.  The book, "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho.
7.  Striped socks!
8.  Dinner with the hubby.
9.  "Downton Abby"
10.  Movie night!

Friday, January 18, 2013

One Week In

So...  I never thought I would write about my weight-loss journey on here...  It is intensely personal...  But today, thought "why not?"  This is my journal.  And maybe, in some weird way, it could inspire or help someone else...?  You just never know!

A week ago today I signed up for Medifast at one of their centers.  I've been skeptical of these programs for years...  But recently have known some people who had success and spoke highly of their experience, so I decided to give it a try.  Trust me, I thought about it and researched it for weeks before deciding to even go in for a consultation!  But after that first consultation, when I made my list of pros and cons...  It definitely leaned more towards the "pros." 

*Don't have to think about food the majority of the day - it's provided for you.
*Weekly meetings with a counselor (and the counselors are from all different backgrounds - nutritionists, dietitians, psychologists, trainers, sports medicine professionals, etc).  You can meet with someone different every week!
*The one-on-one meetings.  (I'm done with the group thing...)
*Once you've lost the weight, you have an 8-week transition period, where they help you introduce "real" food back into your diet.
*After the transition period there is a 52-week maintenance phase - you still meet with a counselor weekly (so if you're having trouble, they teach you how to get back on track before you undo your success!).
*Once a month, during your meetings, they do your measurements and a full body workup to make sure you're losing weight in a healthy way (not losing bone or muscle mass), and check your blood pressure.
*During your meetings you work through a Behavior Modification workbook with weekly lessons.  (As someone who studied psychology, I appreciate this!)
*You mostly pay upfront...  So no backing out!

*Cost (at least upfront) - Center fees and meal costs.
*Processed packaged food.  I've spent the last few years trying to take this kind of stuff out of my diet!
*You have to journal your food and exercise - and bring it to your meetings!

So, I survived my first week and actually didn't have much difficulty adjusting!  And let me tell you, I feel like I was put through the wringer!

Saturday - Dinner at a pub with friends.  (No alcohol allowed on this diet!  Grilled chicken salad and water it was!)
Sunday - Dinner at a friend's house.  (Luckily, the friend was on Medifast, too.)
Monday - Dinner out with another friend, at another brewery.  (Ha ha ha.  They had their liquor license revoked...  That made it easy!  Another salad it was!)
Tuesday - I came home from a long work day at 8pm, and the hubby had made us a recipe out of the Medifast cookbook.  And it was perfect!
Wednesday - I got home at 8:30pm and cooked my dinner.  (I thought this would be annoying, but it was a nice way to unwind after the day...)
Photo: Seriously?  Mike goes out, and I make this meal for myself at 8:30 at night?  What's wrong with this picture?
Thursday - A birthday dinner at our niece's house.  She chose chicken strips and loaded french fries for dinner...  I picked up a salad on the way.  No problem!
Friday - Today, I ate the leftovers from my Wednesday dinner.  Still yummy!

See, the thing is, when you eat bars, shakes, and packaged meals 5 times a day...  Even veggies that I normally don't like - taste fabulous by evening!  I've been savoring and loving all my healthy meals!

So to answer some common questions:
*I'm honestly not hungry most of the time (I eat every 2-3 hours).
*So far, I have no problem avoiding junk food and sweets...  I don't even crave them when the hubby is eating them right in front of me!
*I drink a ton of water!  You're supposed to do 8 glasses a day, but I've been drinking 12-14.  (And I don't have to try...  I just find myself continuously filling my cup.)
*My dinners are protein and veggies (a "lean and green" meal).  No (or very little) dairy, fruit, bread, and alcohol.
*Throughout the weight loss period, you're not supposed to exercise much (you're caloric intake is too low).  But basic walking is OK.  Tomorrow, I'm starting the elliptical again.

So, yeah.  That's what I'm up to.  I weighed in today - down 3.5lbs!  I'll take it!

Things I'm thankful for today:

1.  Fridays.  My day off.
2.  A little bit of time to read...  For fun!
3.  A good meeting and weigh-in.
4.  Some new foods to try.
5.  Cuddling.
6.  Eating dinner with the hubby.
7.  Hubby doing little projects around the house.
8.  The bands, "The Lumineers" and "Head and the Heart."
9.  A "warm" day!  39 degrees, baby!
10.  Quick responses.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


If you read yesterday's post, you read a quote from "Secrets of Simplicity" that talked about the things in our lives that weigh us down, waste our time, or distract us from the important and life-giving things...  So I've been thinking about what my "tolerances" are and how I could go about addressing them...

1.  My walk-in closet.  It houses my clothes, and a large portion of our home storage.  I just need to spend a day getting it organized and simplified...  I did the clothes last week - just need time to do the rest!

2.  I have a habit of taking on more than I need to at work.  This year, I want to make it a goal to only work 45 hours a week, delegating more, so that I can have a life outside of work.

3.  Our guest bedroom.  The closet has been my "craft closet," but just increasingly becomes a junk zone... and I have stacks of books in there, that have no bookcase - no home...  My goal is to build a project table in our loft (with storage!) and to purchase bookcases for our bedroom.  With our current budget, could be awhile til either of these things happen... 

4.  I miss being able to truly worship and be challenged spiritually.  Working at a church, Sundays are a work day for me...  I'm so busy all morning, I don't really get the opportunity to relax and worship.  And, I never get to be part of a small group, prayer group, Bible Study, etc without leading it...  I think I'm ready to look for something to feed my own spirituality.  What that looks like?  Not sure.  But in order for me to be a better leader, I need a little boost for me!

5.  Our elliptical machine not being used....  Ha!  We swore we would not buy a piece of equipment and not use it.  And here it has been unplugged for months.  Ugh!  According to my new weightloss journey, I get to start exercising next week.  So, fire it up!  It's gonna have a new life!  (Me, too!)

What are some things in your life, that you tolerate?  It's interesting to think about...  I may come up with more!

QotD:  What's the oldest thing you're wearing today?
Right now?  My glasses.  They're seven years old, bent, scratched, ugly - but they do the job in the mornings and before bed!  Don't worry - there would be a really big contact emergency for you to ever see me with my glasses on!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Confirmation class last night.  Great conversation about the Holy Spirit!
2.  Giving one of the kids a ride home...  Sweet conversation in the car.
3.  Getting home at 8:30pm last night, and still making myself a healthy dinner.  Times are a-changin' around here!
Photo: Seriously?  Mike goes out, and I make this meal for myself at 8:30 at night?  What's wrong with this picture?
4.  A funny note from my boss this morning, starting with "Have a great getting up!"  (She gets up at least 2.5 hours before I do!)
5.  Gave my 27th Kiva loan this morning!  (Who knew the $100 I gave two years ago would stretch into so many loans?!)
6.  Much laughter around the office today!
7.  Coffee, errr...  Tea with a youth group kid this afternoon.
8.  Birthday dinner with our niece, Kate, tonight. 
9.  Beautiful, whimsical snow falling this morning.
10.  Handing out veggie recipes left and right today!  Who woulda thunk?!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recognizing Abundance

"Our life is frittered away by detail...  Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity."
--Henry David Thoreau
So, I'm back to reading my little book about simplifying your life...  It's called Secrets of Simplicity by Mary Carlomagno.  It's a cute little book - but asks good questions, leading you toward a simpler way of living.  I started it a while ago, and then in the midst of busy life (ironic, right?) it got set aside.  So I picked it up again this morning...

Today's chapter is about recognizing abundance!  Really looking around at all the possible choices we make - from what cereal to buy (in that never-ending aisle of cereals) to all the ways we could spend our time!  It's kind of crazy when you think about it... 

The first thing this chapter asks, is when have you been overwhelmed by choice?  Shopping-wise, for me it's books.  There are so many good ones, and so little time!  (But I've gotten better at limiting that, knowing that I won't get to most of them anyway!)  The other thing that does overwhelm me with choice - is social media!  I'm pretty set on email, Facebook, and my blog.  But I was recently asked by my youth to try Twitter, too.  I tried.  For a second time.  I just don't see the point... It feels like yet another channel for impersonal contact, in such short bursts that it's not meaningful, or relationship-encouraging.  It feels like a waste of my precious, limited time.  So I gave up.  I still have the account, and maybe I'll try again at some point...  I just wish people would make an effort at face to face contact again!

The next part was a checklist of the ways you spend your time.  I'm happy to say the couple of things I am missing in my life, I'm already making progress on!  Volunteering, spending time with old friends and making new friends, and exercise.  Woohoo!  (Working on those will also help with "working less than 10 hours a day!")

Interesting things to think about, but the really interesting question for today has to do with "Tolerances."  Ha ha ha.  Interesting.  Here's what it says:

"So what happens when we're living in an unconcious way, running from one crisis to another?  We gradually begin to tolerate an unhealthy and unpleasant level of half-completed projects, tasks that need to be taken care of - in other words, problems you put up with because you don't have time or energy to solve them.  These are called "tolerances," and they're defined as things that distract you, waste your time, weigh you down, and have a negative effect on your life.  Examples of tolerances include the following:
-My webpage needs updating
-My guest bedroom has become a storage closet
-I have become the office dumping ground because I am a good listener
-I have more books that bookshelves
-I hold onto stocks that haven't made me money and show no signs of ever being profitable
-I have clients who cancel at the last minute
-My bathtub drain continues to clog"

Yep.  Tolerances.  Any of these sound familiar to you?  Because several sound familiar to me!  I'll be thinking about - and making lists today - of what my tolerances are...  And tomorrow?  I start doing something about them!

What tolerances are you putting up with?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A great Mission Team meeting last night!
2.  Focus and enthusiasm.
3.  Coming home to a clean house and dinner prepared.
4.  A lovely husband.
5.  A yummy, healthy dinner.
6.  Fresh snow this morning.
7.  Candles.
8.  Mint tea.
9.  Laughter with the youth group kids.
10.  Origami boats.

QotD:  Do you owe someone money?  Does someone owe you? 
Ha ha ha.  The mortgage company.  And car loans.  But swiftly paying them off!  And no.  No one owes us...  Ha ha ha.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Just Checking In

Another fun journal I received last fall:  Inspirations: A Gratitude Journal.  I thought today I'd just fill out a page...

Today's weather, news, events:  COLD.  As I type it is 9 degrees (and that's without the windchill!).  In the news, Lance Armstrong is finally admitting to using drugs - and Oprah gets the interview, of course. 

Today I feel:  Tired and a little anxious.  I've been making drastic changes in my diet this week - which is probably why I'm feeling a little sluggish.  I have a lot to do at work this week - including meetings every day and writing a sermon.  By Thursday, there's a good chance I will be feeling a little overwhelmed!

I am grateful for:  Warmth.  Tea.  Sunshine.  Plans for coffee with my sister, this afternoon!

Spiritually I:  Am missing spiritually charged and inspiring conversations.  I feel like I'm needing "more" these days - and exploring what that means and how to fill that need...

People in my thoughts today:  All the ladies in my life struggling with cancer (Sue, Gina, Sara, Judy).  Thinking of you all and praying for strength, courage, wisdom, energy, and that you know you are loved, valued, and never alone!

Magical moments (comfort, peace, and love):  When the hubby came home from work yesterday...  He gives the best hugs!

Donations of the heart (acts of kindness, sharing, caring, and forgiveness): A couple that we've known for years through another friend, has been at Mayo Clinic for the last week undergoing tests for a cancer diagnosis.  It's obviously a tough time for them, but they came up to Minneapolis a couple of nights ago, and we went out to dinner with them - and had a lovely time!  The next day they were going to have a little fun and Mall of America, so I asked if they like amusement park rides.  Of course!  Mike and I were able to gift them with 2 "unlimited rides" wristbands for the day.  They called that afternoon and told us what a blast they were having!  So good to be able to offer a little whimsy and fun during this week....

For a better tomorrow (goals, ideas, etc):  I made an appointment with Listening House (a homeless center) to go meet with their volunteer coordinator!  I also made plans with a friend to attend a new book group next month - and have a few other options to look into!  Woo-hoo!  Progress!

What are you up to today?  I'd love to hear!  (By the way, I turned the comment verification off!  All comments are now easier to make - they just won't show up until I see them...  I get a lot of spam, so I'm hoping this works to make commenting easy for you, and not a pain in the butt for me!  So comment away!)

QotD:  On a scale of one to ten, how was your lunch today?  Ummm...  5.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Ok, I realize we're two weeks into the new year, but I'm just getting around to thinking about what I'd like to challenge myself with this year...

1.  Lose weight.  Started last Saturday...  So far, so good.  It's time to get back into a healthy lifestyle, time to be more active so I can do the things I want to do!  So, here we go!

2.  Be more social...  Outside of work.  I feel like my job has been eating up my weekends and evenings.  Time to get involved in things outside of work!  First attempt?  A book group!

3.  Volunteer more.  Like #2, I feel like all my service is through my job.  I'd like to find something to get involved in that is seperate from work...  Looking for something with the Twin Cities homeless population...

4.  Be intentional about my morning reading and writing...  It gives my day a framework - I have things to notice and be aware of, challenges to myself, and a sense of gratefulness.  I really struggle when I don't do this everyday!

5.  Look for new adventures - in faith, in friendships, in love, in life!  Make more memorable moments...!

Did you think about resolutions or challenges for your new year?  Care to share?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Advil.  Can't get rid of this blasted headache!
2.  New possibilities.
3.  Calendars.
4.  Plans for dinner with a friend.
5.  Laughter.
6.  Support.
7.  Having the guts to stand up for what is right on a friend's Facebook post...
8.  Sharing dinner with other "ambience nerds" last night!
9.  Taking steps toward these resolutions!
10.  Feeling brave...  Just for taking those first steps!  (Ha ha ha, I'm such an introvert...)

QotD:  Are you a leader or a follower?
Both.  Depends on the situation...  I prefer to follow, but get frustrated easily.  Ilike to lead in the places where I am inspired!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

God... The Fairy Godmother?

Can't say I've ever read about God's love for us - and in turn, our love for others - in quite this way before...  And I love it!  So, I thought I would share:

"As children of God, we've been given free will: we can think with Him, or not think with Him.  But we cannot limit the creative power of our thoughts.  When our thoughts are thoughts of love, then we are aligned with and receive His power.  When our thoughts are judgmental, then we are choosing to turn our backs to God.  We can no longer see the light He is shining on us when we stop shining it on others.

"Cinderella's Fairy Godmother did not say to Cinderella, 'That stepmother of yours is such a bitch...  We'll show her!'  She could not have said those things, or even thought them, and retained her mystical power.

"'But,' you might say, 'the stepmother was so mean to Cinderella, and the stepsisters were almost as awful!  Doesn't the stepmother deserve to be judged?'

"Notice that the Fairy Godmother obviously registered the fact that the stepmother was out of line, or she would not have stopped by in the first place.  Clearly, she thought the situation needed to be rectified, or she wouldn't have brought her wand.  But the Fairy Godmother was too wise to take sides.  The archetypal wicked stepmother lives in all of us, as much as Cinderella does.  The stepmother is not where we are bad; she is where we are wounded, divorced from our true nature.  The Fairy Godmother came to heal, not to judge.

"Cinderella's refusal to surrender to thoughts of retribution is part of what drew the Fairy Godmother to her in the first place.  Hate can summon the powers of the world, but only love can summon the powers of God.  It takes tremendous faith in the power of love to refuse to hate those who believe in hateful ways.  Yet in that refusal lies our grace."
--Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace
She has such a wonderful, and whimsical, way of making her points about who we are in relation to God.  It's great reading on a Sunday afternoon!  Here's one more tidbit from the same chapter:
"When we realize our mission is to love and forgive, we realize that every situation is an opportunity to do so...  Every situation is a lesson in becoming who we are capable of being."
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Nine hours of sleep!
2.  Day one is done - and went just fine!
3.  Day two is off to a good start.
4.  A man shared his life/faith story at church today...  He's someone that some avoid, but has quite the story of faith!  I was blessed to hear his story.
5.  My youth group kids make me laugh.
6.  Making a coffee date with a kid that reached out to me.  Prayers for this teen.
7.  The hubby turning the sounds "off" on his phone.  It's a gift to me, I know.  (Grin.)
8.  Dinner with friends again tonight!
9.  Marianne Williamson's insights.
10.  Forgiveness.
QotD:  Where do you want to travel next?
So many places fill my daydreams...  But I've been stuck on a trip to Morocco with Mike for a while now...  Maybe in a couple of years?!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Question of the Days...

Yesterday's:  Today I have lost...
The ability to bake and cook and taste yummy foods...  For the next 6 months.  Bah humbug!  Yes, I'm starting a new weight loss journey.  This one cuts out a lot of stuff during the "loss phase," so here we go! 

Last night I enjoyed my last pizza, beer, and chocolate for awhile.  It was well worth it! 
Wish me luck!

Today's:  What's your favorite accessory?
Hmmm...  I'm not really into accessories most of the time.  Not much for jewelry (just my engagement ring, wedding band, "faith" ring, and earrings); not into purses and bags (at least, not for the status reasons); I do wear scarves (although, I still have no idea how to tie them in creative ways!)...

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines "accessory" as:  an object or device not essential in itself but adding to the beauty, convenience, or effectiveness of something else.

I think my favorite accessory may not be a "what" but a "who..."  I think the people I surround myself with do an excellant job adding to my beauty, confidence, and effectiveness!  Their grace, laughter, wisdom, energy, enthusiasm, love, generosity, honesty, faith, and friendship make me who I am.  They are my accessories in life (and maybe, occasionally, in crime!)...  Although, I would say they are essential! 

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A good start.
2.  Watching "The King's Speech."
3.  Cleaning out and organizing my closet.
4.  A comparison of my hubby to Vin Diesel.  Made me chuckle.
5.  Almost through season 2 of "Downton Abby!"
6.  Having dinner with friends beginning an uphill battle...  Good to see their spirits so strong!
7.  Looking forward to spending some time with friends this week!
8.  Warm, cozy blankets.
9.  Smooth, shiny hair (doesn't happen very often!).
10.  Puppy cuddles.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Happier... Marriage

"Where thou art - that - is home."  --Emily Dickinson

Ok...  The holidays are over and I'm back to reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.  (I was going week by week, trying to implement some of her ideas...  And having a lot of fun doing it!)

I left off with "shelf by shelf" - going through the house and cleaning out, organizing, and purging every closet, drawer, and shelf!  I LOVE those days!  In fact, last weekend, hubby and I went through the entire kitchen getting rid of anything we don't use and that is just taking up space.  We ended up with two Rubbermaid totes full!  Who knew?!

The chapter I've been reading this week is about Marriage.  Small steps to a happier marriage.  Here's a couple of short excerpts I found interesting:

"A strong marriage is associated with happiness for two reasons.  First, because people who are already happy make better dates and easier spouses, they get married and stay married more easily than do unhappy people; both men and women are attracted to happy partners.  At the same time, marriage itself brings happiness, because support and companionship are such important elements to a happy life.  To be happy, we need more than casual acquaintances; we need intimate relationships of mutual understanding, love, and support."

"I had high expectation for my marriage - which, I learned, was a good thing.  A study led by psychologist Donald Baucom showed that husbands and wives who have reasonably high standards for romance, passion, and respect tend to have marriages that reflect those values; those with lower expectations often get what they expect.  Couples who don't tolerate much bad behavior from each other at the beginning of the relationship are happier in that relationship later."

(A couple of years ago, I heard a joke: 
"What is the secret to a happy marriage?" 
"Low expectations." 
Ugh!  That rubbed me the wrong way...  And I've never been able to get it out of my head!  I'm happy to hear Ms Rubin and Dr Baucom refute that!)

So, Ms Rubin's small steps toward a happier marriage included:
1.  A kiss in the morning, a kiss at night.  (Check.  Mike kisses me good-bye every morning, and we always kiss goodnight...  and possibly a few times in between!)

2.  Give gold stars.  (Check.  I have a funny little way of leaving notes for him, telling him reasons I love him...  We also are good at saying "thank you" and "I appreciate it when..."  We can always work on "upping" our game here, but I do feel like we do pretty darn good!)  This is a great section of the book to read, though!  Good information!

3.  Make the positive argument.  (Basically, when you're about to criticize your spouse's actions, create an argument in your head that they really do have good intentions and are doing their best - before criticizing them!  By creating the positive argument in your head, you begin to believe it, and are less likely to criticize.)

4.  Take driving lessons...  Or learn a skill that can help your marriage or bring you closer to your spouse.  (This is the one I'm thinking about - what can I learn and do to benefit our marriage in new ways?  I got a couple of things swirling around...  But haven't quite put my finger on what seems best, yet.  It's kind of interesting to think about, though!)

Afterall, "It isn't enough to love, we must prove it."

Do you have any secrets to share - to having a happier marriage?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  My hubby.
2.  Sharing stories.
3.  Beginning a new journey.
4.  Punch Pizza.
5.  "Would you be willing...?"
6.  This article
7.  The Muddy Pig.
8.  Stout beers.  Yum.
9.  Finally watched "The Help."
10.  Yummy Chocolate Brioche pretzels...

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Question of the Day:  Write down something that inspired you today...

In the last couple of days, I've heard two very sad things that were happening in some friends' lives.  One was a scary diagnosis, one was a tragedy that occured in a family.  Both brought me to tears - fearful for these friends and (let's face it) mad at God for letting bad things happen to such good people.

Yet...  These wonderful human beings amaze and inspire me through their strength, sense of humor, love of life, and grace that they offer the world.

And then I remember that God is right there with them...  Through it all.

It's truly amazing what you can handle when you are surrounded by the love of friends and family!  My prayers for strength, courage, wisdom, and renewed life go out to them - as well as the blessing of knowing that they are loved, valued, and never alone...

Who or what is inspiring you today?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  The dog playing with her "squeaky" balls.
2.  Making plans for coffee with my sister.
3.  Looking forward to the weekend.
4.  Books that reinforce what you're doing right!
5.  Beer tastings...  Nogne O Brown Ale.  Yum.
6.  Hubby letting me eat the yummy leftovers for dinner!
7.  Plans to try a new recipe tomorrow...
8.  Trust.
9.  This video:
10.  Joy... in the midst of it all.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Yummy Wednesday - Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans

We recently decided to try an experiment...  Hubby and I haven't been a fan of too many slow-cooker recipes in the past, but when I came across a "pin" on Pinterest for making 8 meals in a hour, that you then freeze, and cook in the slow-cooker, I thought it could be worth a try!  We've now tried 5 of them - and 3 have been delicious!  (The other 2 were good, just not favorites.)

Feel free to check out for more ideas!

So here's the latest:

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans
Photo: Yummy crockpot meal number three!  Black beans, corn, and chicken tacos.

You'll need:
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
Juice from 2 limes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
To Make: 
1.  Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed.
2.  When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours.
3.  Cook on LOW for 8 hours (or HIGH for 4 hours).
4.  Serve with tortillas and toppings such as with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and cheese.
Makes 8 servings.
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Celebrating Jennifer's birthday yesterday!
2.  Our staff being all together again (it's been weeks, due to vacations, holidays, and illness!).
3.  Rice Krispie treats.
4.  Good advice.
5.  Goals.
6.  Today is our nephew, Evan's, birthday!
7.  Getting a lot done.
8.  Meeting with my 9th grade Confirmands - they make me laugh!
9.  Peppermint Joe-Joes from Trader Joe's.
10.  Going to bed early....

QotD:  Was today typical?  Why or why not?  Yep...  I'd say so.  Work, work, work.  The only non-typical part was going to bed at 10:15pm.  :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I just watched a video online of a sermon that was given this past weekend at one of our local mega-churches...  It was all about making this new year better than the last year - by taking responsibility for our own actions.  By losing the "buts" in our lives.  It resonated with me - it put into words the way I try to live my life (not always successfully...).

The pastor talked about how we naturally look for someone to blame when things don't go the way we would like.  I can't get to work on time because there's so much traffic.  I didn't get my homework done because my friend needed my help.  I won't be able to lose weight because of my genetics (parents' fault, right?!).  I don't make enough money because my employer is out to get me.  Blah, blah, blah.

It's easy to make excuses and blame others...  But what does it get you?  The points of the sermon were: 1)Blame creates conflict. (Think about it - do you like being blamed?  Do you take it lightly?)  And 2)Blaming others keeps you stuck.  Yep.  I can blame others all day long - but how does that help me move forward?

When my hubby and I share our problems with each other at the end of the day, we always allow each other to vent (and blame)...  But then, when we're ready to move forward, we also ask, "Where was your responsibility in this issue?  And what can you do to move forward?"  I can't change someone else's actions or decisions, but I can certainly control how I respond and how I move on from here.  It's been a really helpful tool in our lives to approach things this way!

But I know it's hard to get there.  We never want to admit screwing up, hurting others' feelings, or allowing others to hurt us.  When I ask other people, "what do you think your responsibility was in this situation?" sometimes, people respond openly and willingly - relieved to see that they can make a difference in whether it happens again, or not.  But others take offense.  They aren't willing to see their own faults and imperfections.  And that makes me sad...

We are all imperfect, broken, and vulnerable.  That's human nature.  When we're able to open up about our insecurities and imperfections - life opens up.  Relationships become deeper and more meaningful - and we're able to be more fully human. 

Blame doesn't do any good.  To me, moving forward in a positive way is so much more productive.  It brings more hope, joy, and faith in others (and myself). 

I agree.  Working on taking responsibility for our own choices and actions is a great way to make this year better!  I'm starting today.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A beautiful sunrise!
Sometimes, I really like when the dog wakes me up to go outside...
2.  Having the hubby's support in a new endeavor.
3.  A delicious dinner last night!
4.  Being back to work full-time!
5.  Ready to start this new year - and collecting the fun little moments and memories!
And a new year begins!
6.  Inspirations that come from unlikely sources.
7.  Watching "The Bachelor" with Mike.  Too funny!
8.  Going for a lovely walk last night.
9.  New possibilities.
10.  Love.

QotD:  What song is stuck in your head?  "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding...  The morning news was just talking about today being the 45th anniversary of the song.  I can guarantee it will be stuck in my head the rest of the day!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Divine Wings

"...We remember that it is our own responsibility, as best we can, to live up to the divine potential God has placed within each of us.  We have our own wings, should we choose to spread them.  In almost any situation, if we're truly honest with ourselves, there are ways that we can fly higher, at fuller wingspan.  There are ways to show greater honor and compassion to all life, to get over ourselves and serve something bigger.  We are given as many opportunities to reconstruct the nature of our lives as there are moments in a day.  We can think more insightfully, love more deeply, give more selflessly, and serve more faithfully the call of love.  How many times have we regretted not having been kinder, or wiser, or more respectful to others?  And how many times have we shown up lovingly for another person and been told, "Thank you.  You're such an angel."  Indeed...

"...The time to show up fully for life is right now, whatever the circumstances...  Life is a swirling pool of infinite potential at every single moment...  The only way to achieve an exciting life is to be willing to be excited and exciting.  The only way to achieve an excellent life is to be willing to be excellent.  The only way to achieve love is to be willing to be more loving.  Who and what we decide to be, in each and every moment, is reflected back to us in earthly forms...

"...It can be difficult to shine on others when we do not honestly feel there is a light within us.  There is a light in all of us because God put it there."
--Marianne Williamson, "Everyday Grace"

Great reading for the start of the New Year, right?  I'm loving this book as a morning inspiration!

Question of the Day:  You are lucky.  How so or not so?

Oh, I know I'm lucky.  I may not win fabulous things (Mom and Dad - our lottery tickets from Santa got us a big fat nothing!); I may not be given free vacations and expensive toys; and there may even be some hopes and dreams that will never come true...  But I'm lucky.  I have the greatest husband a girl could ever want.  I have a family that loves me.  I have a roof over my head that is most definitely my home.  I have my health (and I know what it's like to fear losing that!).  I have a deep faith in God and a community of people that help me live that out.  I have a job that I love.  I have friends that support me, make me laugh, and love me for who I am.  I've been able to travel and see amazing parts of this world and meet inspiring people. 

No question.  I'm a lucky girl.  And grateful for my life, everyday!

Things I am thankful for today:

1-10.  Pretty sure I just named them in my "reasons that I'm lucky!"

Sunday, January 6, 2013



It is forbidden to taste of the pleasures of this world without a blessing.—The Talmud

As someone who has been paid to pronounce blessings at weddings and funerals, at baptisms and house blessings, at soup kitchens and foxhunts—as well as at lots and lots of weekly worship services—I think it is a big mistake to perpetuate the illusion that only certain people can bless things. Not everyone is vulnerable to this illusion, I know. Plenty of people say grace over meals in their own homes, asking God to bless the food they are about to receive from the divine bounty. A number more bless their children at bedtime, asking God to bring those children safely through the night. Where I live, you can sneeze in line at the post office and receive half a dozen blessings from people you do not even know.

Yet there remain a great many people who excuse themselves when asked to pronounce a formal blessing. They are not qualified, they say. They are not good with words. They would rather jump off a high diving board than try to say something holy in front of a bunch of other people. My guess is that even if you asked them to bless something in private—thereby separating the fear of public speaking from the fear of pronouncing a blessing—they would still demur. If you are one of those people, then only you know why. All I can tell you is how much the world needs you to reconsider.

I think that the best way to discover what pronouncing blessings is all about is to pronounce a few. The practice itself will teach you what you need to know...

...All I am saying is that anyone can do this. Anyone can ask and anyone can bless, whether anyone has authorized you to do it or not. All I am saying is that the world needs you to do this, because there is a real shortage of people willing to kneel wherever they are and recognize the holiness holding its sometimes bony, often tender, always life-giving hand above their heads. That we are able to bless one another at all is evidence that we have been blessed, whether we can remember when or not. That we are willing to bless one another is miracle enough to stagger the very stars.

(Read more:

Today was the annual Blessing Service at church.  The first Sunday of the year, our congregation participates in communion together and Pastor Penny, I, and a guest pastor get the immense pleasure of praying blessings on our individual congregation members.  I get the opportunity to hold people's hands, look in their eyes, and bless their new year with hope, love, and faith.  I get to remind them that they are loved, valued, and never alone.  I get to pray for health, employment, love, and healing relationships.  And I get to share God's love with them...  Thought tears and hugs.

It's a pretty amazing way to spend a morning. 

Go ahead.  Give it a try.  Bless someone today.  Send them a note or tell them in person - but bless them with affirmations, hopes, prayers, and love.  The world needs more blessings!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Sunshine.
2.  Friendships.
3.  Being back to work!
4.  My youth group kids learning from our elders.
5.  Tears and hugs.
6.  Dinner in the crockpot.
7.  The hubby grocery shopping.
8.  Naps.
9.  TV shows returning tonight!  ("Once Upon A Time" and "Downton Abby")
10.  Blessings.

Interesting...  Today's Question of the Day:  "Today was tough, because..."  In the midst of giving blessings, I also hear what worries people most.  I see the fear and insecurities in their eyes - and hope for the faith to carry them through.  It's hard to see in people that always "have it together."  But those are the moments that make us even more lovable, right?  When we're human, broken, vulnerable?  That's the moment we open up to what God can do!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


QotD:  What was the last restaurant you ate at?

Hell's Kitchen - started to eat breakfast on New Year's Day.  Never finished it.  (The stomach flu settled in.  Buggers.)

McDonald's - roadtripping to Milwaukee on Dec. 28th.  (Only time we eat fast food is when we're in the car.  The best part about it?  Watching our dog wait, plead, and beg for french fries!  It's pretty darn funny.)

Red Stag Supper Club on Dec. 27th.  A tradition shared with our friend, Amanda.  Every year when she visits we go for dinner...  So yummy.  And it always snows - and is beautiful from within this cozy place.  I love it!

rePUBlic on Dec. 26th - celebrating Kayla's 21st birthday with Mike, Amanda, and Jessalee.  Delicious food, tasty beer, good company.  Great way to spend an evening!

Good stuff.  Good memories.  We're lucky to live where we do - so many good places to share meals, and break bread, with others!

Where is your favorite place to go out to eat?  I love hearing suggestions!

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A lazy Saturday morning - not because I didn't feel good - but just because!
2.  Hanging out with the hubby.
3.  Deep cleaning the rest of the house.  I can relax again.
4.  "Purging" our kitchen.  Going through every drawer and cabinet and getting rid of anything we don't use.  So therapeutic!
5.  An "actual" dinner!  Swordfish, green beans, and bread.  And it tasted good!
6.  Packers are winning!
7.  Looking forward to church tomorrow!  It's the special Blessing service we do every year.  One of my favorite services!
8.  Listening to the hubby getting excited about brewing his own beer.  I love his excitement!
9.  Thinking about making some changes... 
10.  Enjoying writing on here again!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Best Part

Question of the Day:  What is the best part of today?

I'm feeling better!!!!  I'm up and moving around.  Washed the sheets, blankets, towels...  Cleaned up the kitchen.  Picked up all the piles we've created this week.  Took down the Christmas tree and decorations... 

Life is looking up!  I even ate...  wait for it...  Pizza tonight!

There's nothing better than starting to feel normal again.  Gives you hope.  (Grin.)

What was the best part of your day?

(Psstt...  Since I'm feeling better, I'm guessing very soon I'll be doing real blog posts again!  Woohoo!)

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Being able to eat real food.
2.  Getting stuff done!
3.  Clean sheets and towels.  Lovely.
4.  Putting Christmas away (this normally makes me sad...  But this year, I've been sick since we put the tree up!  I'm done.)
5.  Excited for Kayla's visit to Idaho with Emily!
6.  Low gas prices!  (Filled up for under $3 a gallon!)
7.  Lotion.
8.  2 more episodes of "Downton."  Almost ready for season 3!
9.  Finding out we can watch "Portlandia" OnDemand.  Awesome.
10.  Going to bed at a normal time.  Life is getting better by the hour!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Ever had the kind of sick where you can barely focus on anything?  I'm not battling the stomach stuff anymore, but still fighting headaches and body aches...  and soooo tired!

I've watched many episodes of "LOST" over the last few days, and the hubby and I have been catching up on "Downton Abby" in the evenings (we watched FOUR episodes tonight!)...  It's all I can concentrate on! 

Books haven't worked for me lately...  I doze off!

I do have a stack I'd like to be reading, though...  All kinds of stuff - mystery, historical fiction, spiritual, humorous, thriller...  My bedside table is stacked high!

Maybe that should be my New Year's resolution?  Or one of them, anyway.  Give myself half and hour every night before bed to read.  Imagine that!  So many books I could get through if I actually did it!

Worth a try!  (But I better wait til I'm feeling better...  Tonight, I'd disappoint myself already by falling asleep - this blog post is hard enough to focus on!)

What are you reading right now?  Any suggestions?

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  Hot tea.
2.  A stop at the office - nice to feel normal for a few minutes, anyway!
3.  Receiving a couple more fun Christmas presents!
4.  Amaryllis plants - so fun!
5.  Fever broke!
6.  Eating something other than toast and saltines.
7.  Time cuddled up to the hubby and watching "Downton."
8.  Friends who gave us the gift of seasons 1 and 2 of "Downton!"  (I thought I'd be watching it by myself, but it turns out - Mike loves it, too!)
9.  Candles. 
10.  Fantasy - whether in books or TV or movies.  The escape from real life is a wonderful gift sometimes!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Still sick...  Very.  Icky. 

So...  Question of the Day:
Can people change?
Hmmm...  My answer would have to be "Yes."
When Mike and I met, he was crazy organized, everything had to happen a certain way, at a certain time, and had to meet his expectations - no exceptions.  I, on the other hand, was the free spirit that never worried about expectations - it was all about living in the moment and enjoying life.  Who cares if I was on time or did what I was expected?
Yeah...  Over the last 13 years, we've met in the middle.  He's more spontaneous and laid back, willing to accept people and situations for what they are; and I'm more organized and responsible, expecting accountability and respect from myself and others.
It's a process.  It's not easy.  But I do believe people can change.  I see it in my job all the time - people who seek to do better and be better - with the right support and lots of faith, make it happen.
Life changes us.  Love changes us. 
So...  Yes.
Things I am thankful for today:
1.  Saltines.
2.  A comfy couch.
3.  A cuddly poodle.
4.  Watching old "LOST" epidsodes!
5.  Sleep.
6.  My new pillow.
7.  Flexible schedules.
8.  The hubby telling me I'm "not scary."  And me responding, "I'll breathe on you!"
9.  Friends checking up on me.
10.  That we can - and do - change!  My life is better for it!
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