Monday, September 28, 2009

One Thousand Gifts

I am late to this, but check out this post from November 4, 2006, on the 'a holy experience' blog. She's on #1190. I need to have a heart of gratitude. Who doesn't? Will you do it with me?

One Thousand Gifts, Finding My Thankfulness

1. My family: hubby (we're like peas & carrots) & kids (I love you more each day)

2. A windy day. The Lord may not have been in the wind for Elijah (or the earthquake, or the fire - 1 Kings 19) but I hear His whisper in the wind. I love it.

3. A snuggle in a cozy, warm bed with an almost 5 year old in the early morning hours, soft hands touching my face, ' I love you mama' whispered.

Birthday Girl

We had a birthday party at our house this weekend!
The party outfit.
If you can't quite see it, the girl on the shirt has
a cake, cupcakes, and a crown -
a perfect birthday outfit!
The pose. (The result of 3 ballet classes -
totally getting our money's worth!)
My cake.
'Now do a funny one, Mom!'
Beautiful cake made by 'That Takes the Cake'
It was dusted with iridescent goodness.
Beautiful details.
We're not sure if we really like fondant, the cake was delicious
but the texture of fondant was unexpected.
Each tier had 4 layers - yum!
A princess card that said things like,
'Today is all about you, princess!'
She loved it!
She took it to bed that night. Seriously.
Post-party, playing with some of the loot.

Happy 5th Birthday, Gracie!
We love you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hawking, Watching Nature's Irresistable Call

I do hope to enjoy the Northland this coming weekend with 'Eyes on the Skies: hawk watching for beginners,' a free program at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth. I have lived here for years and never taken advantage of this local program. Take a peak at the 'hawk count' for September - amazing! Last Monday alone, 8757 hawks were sited flying over the observatory! Here's a snippet from their website:
One of nature's remarkable spectacles can be witnessed each fall at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve. Migrating raptors, originating from summer breeding areas as far north as the Arctic and with wintering destinations as far south as points in South America, concentrate in impressive numbers at the western tip of Lake Superior.

Most raptors are reluctant to cross large bodies of water. When they migrate south and encounter Lake Superior, the birds naturally veer southwest along the lakeshore. They concentrate in impressive numbers on the bluffs overlooking East Duluth and can be easily seen from the overlook at Hawk Ridge.
Reading this description, I have an impression in my mind of the instinct that must guide these birds of prey. Every year they are inexorably drawn to this same location, every fall, every spring. Something about their annual pilgrimage speaks to my heart. There is something so sure about it, so positive, unalterable, unyielding. Some instinct calling them on.

While not migratory, I can see the pull of a similar call in the life of our 14 year old. Watching him, as a 'pre-adult,' is interesting, terrifying, occasionally funny and problematic. No quite an adult, yet no longer a child, he walks a fine line between wanting to do only what he wants, keeping everything in his heart and head secret and still needing advice on the length of cooking time his food needs in the microwave. Yesterday he was home sick from school and when I got home from work his bedroom floor was covered in legos. I guess he's not that old yet... but I can practically see the momentum of his life picking up, pulling him, drawing and wooing him to adulthood. I can not stop it, it's unrelenting.

I feel a similar call in my own life. An unalterable, unyielding, unrelenting call to be better, to do more, to go deeper, with Jesus. It's like gravity, inescapable. I feel His pull and the more I know, the more I want to know, and the more I praise Him. This verse, with it's mysterious wording and raw, elemental forces of nature are closer to and better than any description I can give:
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
Psalm 42:7
I don't know where this is taking me, I don't know what is next. I can tell you I'm excited. I know there is more, always more to know, more to learn, more to do. And it's building inside of me; an instinct to know and follow Jesus. It's instinctual. Further up and further in.
“Welcome, in the lion’s name. Come further up and further in… the further up and the further in you go, the bigger everything gets. The inside is larger than the outside.
C.S. Lewis – The Last Battle

Beautiful Morning

The colors in the clouds and sunrise were gorgeous yesterday. The tiny camera I keep with me just couldn't do justice to the colors, but at least it's almost documented. I drive down this hill each morning and am thankful to live in such a beautiful place.

Lake Superior in the distance
Enger Tower, early morning street lights, glorious sunrise
Today is rainy, though the drive was just as beautiful. I almost succumbed to the subliminal call to photograph the line of headlights snaking their way across the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. I managed to resist and saved my hairstyle.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kitchen Update

The kitchen is finally completely painted, though now I'm wishing I'd started with the ceiling, and my lovely friend Gretchen brought her Cricut over to cut out some letters for a quote to put on the soffit. She even put them up, much straighter than I ever could!Lovely Gretchen

I love how we chose three different fonts, and how they make sense with the rhythm of the words. And I love the quote by author Stephen Chalmers. It's not too sappy, or cute or over-quoted and it communicates how exactly I feel when I return home after a long day.

Out of the dreariness,
Into it's cheeriness,
Come we in weariness,

Hubby doesn't like it, at all, but he's being a good sport about it
because I love it. What a sweetie!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flashback Friday & Wrapping up the Week

My baptism, 1971
Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Cloquet, MNDad, Mom & Me
Easter, 1974ish?

Facebook friends have probably seen these, but I felt like putting them on the blog anyway. I am kind of enamored this morning with the idea that things could be easier. We (people in general) just make things so complicated. Remember when you were young and you thought how you couldn't wait until you grew up because then you could do whatever you wanted? Of course you do! And, if you are over 30, are you laughing at the naivete of that idea? I'm still wondering when that's going to happen for me... So, no wisdom today, just working on making things simpler, and these pictures remind me of a simpler time.


I am more determined each day to recognize people I see making life a little brighter for the people around them. Or thanking people for making my life a little brighter. Or encouraging people... I think personal correspondence is a lost art. I know I stink at it, but I want to get better - who doesn't like getting a nice note in the mail that just says, 'I'm thinking of you!' ? And I'm a chronic card buyer. I love cards. But they don't do any good unless you send them to someone. duh! Anyone else do that? So... if you're nice to me, or nice near me, maybe you'll get a card telling you how I caught you at it! I don't even think I know the current postage rate...


Grace was having an (over-tired, over-stimulated) screaming fit on Wednesday because she wasn't going to get a sticker for something. Hubby calmly told her (way to go honey!) that it was a consequence of not doing what she was told. Grace, without missing a beat, yelled,

Don't we all? And don't you wish you could yell about it? Sometimes? I do.


Have a great weekend! I have next to nothing on my calendar, and I can't wait! Here's to a simpler life where people are recognized for loving on someone other than themselves and the consequences of disobedience are covered by grace!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some Promises I'm walking in Today *

You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.
Joshua 23:14
I believe it. I believe You.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19
All we need, not all we want. Help me want what You want.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
Psalm 9:9
Please come be my refuge.
And you shall seek me, and find me, when you search for me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13
I'm seeking...
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9
I'm confessing...
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5
I'm asking...
What is impossible with men is possible with God.
Luke 18:27
Thank you, God!

* readers encouraged to read verses in context.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pressing In

On Sunday night I attended a meeting at church that ended in some prayer. Praying with three other ladies, we had the opportunity to be vulnerable with each other and pray about some really tough stuff in our lives. I hate being vulnerable... and I love being vulnerable because God comes when we allow Him in, it never fails. After the ladies prayed for me, the leader in our group said, "I think you should go home and ______ because that would be pressing into Jesus."

Wow - you mean that after prayer, I should have a response? OK, just a little sarcasm, and not to the wonderful woman that said it, but aimed at myself! I can so easily forget the response part. I mean, something is wrong or you feel God working in your life so you pray, and God comes and you feel better. Right? And then I go about my day and kind of forget the part where I should try to press into whatever God is doing. I don't always do that, but often and this just causes a vicious circle:

personal emergency -> pray -> receive God's comfort -> go on my merry way -> personal emergency -> pray -> need I go on? Someone described this as taking the same trail around a mountain and never getting any higher. Or like Ground Hog Day, the movie.

What if I made a change? What if instead of the sad cycle above, my life looked like this:

personal emergency -> pray -> receive God's comfort -> ask/think about what my response should be -> go on my merry way and actually do the thing God is leading me to do -> spiritual growth occurs (no way!) ...

So I'm going to try it, make an intentional decision to live this way. Instead of just using God like a topical anesthetic, I'm going to allow Him to go beneath the surface and change me inside where it counts. (If that sounds interesting to you in any way, let's talk about it!)

This all reminded me of the song, 'Change Me on the Inside,' by Brian Doerksen. It's from the Vineyard Music 'Believe' album and I can't find the music on the web for you so you'll have to just be happy with the lyrics. It's so how I feel right now.

I long for freedom to live in the truth
I want to be more like You
But every time I try to bring about change
I only touch the visible me

There's only one way I'm really gonna change
Change me on the inside...
(Here's my fervent prayer:)
Just like King David, I cry out to You
Create in me a clean heart

I've grieved You again, I need Your release

From patterns that keep me in sin

There's only one way I can finally break free

Change me on the inside...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Peace. I often needs some and our 'high-spirited' daughter usually needs it (right before me?), too. This blog is listed in the 'blogs I read,' but I felt like I needed to share her post today. Check it out here. I love how she says, "Hon, you've some big feelings.... Can we wrap you up in some peace?" Could I possibly react like that when Grace is having her daily (hourly/minutely?) 'big feelings"?

Do you have something like this? How's it working for you? I'm trying to figure out where ours can be... And do you think it'd work for a 14 year old?

First Day of Pre-K!!!

Today is Grace's first day of Pre-Kindergarten!
She is so excited she was up SUPER EARLY!Here new Hello Kitty backpack filled with new school supplies
and a Hello Kitty lunchbox filled with breakfast
to eat at Auntie Amy's.
She has to be up early to leave.
This is what it looked like outside.
Excited to leave, despite the early morning.Hope the excitement lasts!

Also a couple tidbits from our trip to get school shoes:

Grace: Mom, can I get some of these (ugly silk) flowers?
Me: No
G: For my birthday? (in about two weeks)
Me: Ummm, probably not. You are not going to get absolutely everything you want for your birthday, Grace. (She's been asking for birthday stuff for at least 2 months)
G: That's OK, Mom, just tell someone else to get it for me!
(I'm sure I've explained that her love language is totally receiving gifts, right?)

And as we were driving:
Grace: Mom, it must be fall! The birds are all flocking & ready to fly south for the winter. Look, there's a whole gunk of them.
Me: What's a 'gunk'?
G: You know, a whole bunch of birds together.
Me: You mean a flock?
G: No (with great patience), a flock is what they do, a gunk is when they are all together.

Who knew?

A Lovely Saturday in Duluth

Every fall there is a Harvest Festival and Kiwanis Fly a Kite day.

Hubby & Grace heading in to fly a kite.
Not much wind. This is as high as the kite ever flew.
But there was homemade Black Raspberry Ice Cream
to sooth sad, kite-failure feelings.
Hubby (hubba-hubba)
Grace surveying the festival
and petting a miniature horse.
This is what teenagers do instead of going to fesitvals with their parents.
75 degrees out, stocking cap, wife bea... er... tanktop & ipod to mow the lawn.
It wasn't a punishment, it was his choice.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Thing About Blogging.... that you feel this strange compulsion to photograph
the weirdest things
just so you can post them.

This is what I had for lunch today.

This & That

Yesterday was Grace's last day of preschool at UMD. To celebrate we stopped on our way home to feed the ducks living in the schools water feature a stale hotdog bun. They didn't mind that it was stale.

Duck butts are cute and funny. I don't know why.

Here's the boys waiting at the bus stop taken out the front of my van window. First they turned away, then when they saw I wasn't leaving they allowed the picture. That's Micah in the middle with the 'Now what are you doing, Mom?' look on his face. Guess it's just not cool to do this. That's just the kind of mom I am.

Best. Breakfast. Ever.

Best. Ice cream. Ever.

When is chocolate genache ever wrong?

Yesterday was a hard day. I had to change some stuff around that I knew was going to impact other people's schedules and I felt like it would make me look bad. Really, there is way more to it than that, but that is the heart of it, even though it is completely beyond my control. I hate that. And I knew what was going on. I knew it was not all about me. I just couldn't get out of the pit of those emotions. And this song, especially the chorus, speaks right to the stuff I'm feeling. I am not an Idol fan, or really a fan of this music style, so it's weird that I like it. Thought I'd share it - check it out here.
I know how I can stray
And how fast my heart could change

Empty me
Of the selfishness inside
Every vain ambition
And the poison of my pride
And any foolish thing my heart holds to
Lord empty me of me
So I can be
Filled with you

Cuz everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you
Compared to you
Cuz everything is a lesser thing
Compared to you
So I surrender all

Thursday, September 10, 2009

16 Green Balloons

The evening of 9/9/09 was spent the same way 6 out of my last 7 September 9ths have been spent: celebrating the life of a 6 year old boy I've never met. Travis would have been 16. He would have been excited to get his driver's license, maybe had a girlfriend, and he'd be all about football. Through a friend where I used to work, I met Travis' mom. Her story, though not mine to tell, is a heart wrenching story of sorrow and triumph. I have learned so much about living in community from these friends.
The party always has the same format: it's held outside near a garden planted with Travis' favorite veggies (in 10 years it's never rained this night), an opening prayer, a short devotional that incorporates part of Travis' short life, a song over which Travis' mom tells his story of cancer diagnosis, remission & relapse (from B105's St. Jude's fundraiser), memories of Travis shared, another song (You'll be in my Heart from the Disney Tarzan movie), a closing prayer then releasing green balloons - one for each year while singing 'Happy Birthday'.
I love it! Sad? Heartbreaking. But it's an event that is all about family, all about community. Neighbors, extended relatives, siblings & their friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and family all gather to remember Travis and celebrate his too-brief life. I love this community that comes together, because Travis is worth remembering, SO worth celebrating!
There's always tears. And there's always a neighbor comforting a family member. Or a 14 year old boy, who probably never met Travis, awkwardly patting the shoulder of his trying-to-be-brave friend. Or people like me who never knew Travis, but know his story, can see his legacy, and who are so honored to be there. And parents who hug their kids a little tighter.

So, hug the people you love today. Be nice to the people you meet. Help out when you can. Help out even when you think you can't. Bring a meal to someone, teach someone something, give a crazy-busy parent a break for an hour, make a date with your friends and don't come up with a reason to cancel. We are not in this alone. Love. Love. Love.
Because you never know what tomorrow brings.

I wonder if Travis knew he was going to teach us so much about love?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Look What I Can Do!

Grace had her first ballet/tap lesson tonight. Of course, she has been a ballerina in her head for a long time now, we are just letting it out to play. Last night we made a trip to Target to purchase tights, leotard & ballet slippers. All pink with a little skirt on the leotard. She wanted to sleep in them. Here are a few snippets of her amazing first official ballet experience.

When hubby found her trying to put her tights on OVER her leotard and told her they go UNDER: "Dad, you're not going to dance lessons - you don't know anything about dancing!"

"I'm so beautiful."

"Dada, I'm gorgeous!"

(who doesn't wish they could be free enough to say that about themselves?)

(This is the pose I got when I asked her to show me how pretty she is)

"Watch me twirl - it's a pirouette!"

"This is how I shuffle: one-two-three-four-shut-the-door!"

Little attitude here.

Checking herself out in the mirror the whole time.
(She IS beautiful, you know)

She had a ball, went right into the class without a hint of shyness, paid attention, tried really hard, checked herself out in the wall of mirrors at least 34 times and was sleeping 5 minutes after her head hit the pillow tonight!

A friend sent me this link about a feral ballerina - today was a great day, but this could be tomorrow. She is sleeping in a leotard tonight!

I feel like we are on the cusp of a great adventure! :o)