Cultivating a Life of Gratitude

I am committing myself, during 2010, to attempt to cultivate a greater awareness of how much I have to be thankful and grateful for by sharing my daily findings and musings with you. It is my hope that by blogging about gratitude, I will be more aware of what is going on around me in my life, my family, my friends' lives and our world.

February 28, 2010

The Crock Pot and the Freezer

During this month of March, the Manders family is abstaining from going out to eat (see my post from last Sunday).  We decided to do this because we do it so much without even thinking about it.  This means Ross and I will be making meals a lot more often :) ... which is good.  I already cook about 4 nights a week but by the time the weekend hits I'm ready to not cook even if it means grabbing a 5$ pizza from Little Caesar's.  I am thinking this could be an interesting thing to give up for an extended time.  So, here we go!

It just so happens that today a few friends came over and we made some meals and cookie dough for the freezer.  It is so wonderful to do this together.  Cooking goes so much faster when you have friends to chat with - especially ones like these :) who I treasure.    We are each in charge of a meal or cookie dough and so we 'share' the cost that way, too.   I'm thankful for friends to meal-share with and I am grateful for the crock pot and the freezer because you really can cook ahead (especially since I teach during the dinner hour).

(SIDE NOTE: My dad spoke at Renovation today and I am really thankful for him ... he's still my favorite preacher but I told Ross - it's because I've heard him for longer than I've heard Ross or anyone else ... :))

February 27, 2010

Weddings and Sleeping In

Have you ever been to a wedding where it was such a great celebration because God obviously had a big part in bringing two people - so made for each other - together?  We were at a wedding like that last night.  Ross actually performed the ceremony.  Drew is a student leader who worked for me when I was the Worship Pastor at Bethel.  He's one amazing person.  Lexi is someone I got to know because Drew fell in love with her the year he was working with me.  She is one amazing person.  The two of them together have such incredible potential as a couple ... so fun to celebrate with them.  I'm thankful for the foundation they have in Christ and the witness they were to all of us of God's faithfulness and love.

Why am I grateful for sleeping in ... because we were at the wedding last night and because E-man's adventure with my parents for the month was a sleepover - E-man slept at my parents house last night (not the first time).  He had a blast with Gma and 'Bubbup"and we slept in until ... drum roll ... 9:30!  WOOHOO!!!!!!  We haven't done that in SO long.  We both were sure we'd be woken up by our body alarm clocks but we rolled back over and kept sleeping.  I LOVE SLEEPING IN ... so does Ross - he was anticipating it all week long.  And sleeping in did not disappoint ... it was great.

February 25, 2010


Our church is talking about spiritual disciplines this week.  We were challenged to put one into practice.  In my small group we decided on silence.  I am anything but silent ... and I like to have 'background noise' on in the house while I'm home most of the day.  One of my favorite radio stations is MyTalk 107.1 fm.  I listen to it during the day often and when I'm driving (especially by myself to and from piano lessons) a lot. To create more silence in my life and I am giving up 107.1 for the next (GULP) month.  Tonight I drove home in silence.  It was good.  I'm working on being grateful for it but I think I at least have an appreciation for the silence.

February 24, 2010


I appreciate the cashier at Target today who graciously 'suspended' my order in the 10 items and under lane while I 'ran' out to the car with Ethan in tow to fetch my left behind wallet.  She was very kind and gracious about me having to run out there and I so appreciated her attitude.  If she had been snarky or mean about it, think how that could have affected my afternoon.  By suspending it, she was able to continue to check other people out and 'go back' to it when I arrived.  Thanks nice cashier lady!

February 23, 2010

Random Thankful Thoughts

1. I am truly grateful for iphoto.  It seems to be a shallow thing to be thankful for but I downloaded pictures and movies today for the first time and it was SO INCREDIBLY EASY.  It will save me hours and hours of time - I'm not even kidding - because it does thing in such a smooth and organized way.  (End Mac commerical)

2.  Costco.  Costco had amazing red raspberries today and our family has almost eaten the whole container in one day (Ethan eating over half by himself :)).

3.  (Begin next Mac commercial)  I installed iwork today during Ethan's nap time (I'm also  for nap time/aka alone time for me)- for non-mac users it is like Microsoft but not at all.  The features are so great and organizationally - to my brain - it does things that just makes sense.  I only was working in "Numbers"/Excel today but it was so easy to figure out and has many new/cool features.  Thankful.

4.  As you know, I'm grateful for laughter.  My piano students make me laugh.  Today it was almost a belly laugh.  I was teaching this particularly charming-in-his-unique-way boy ... if you knew him you would just think him funny, too ... he's exactly like his dad (our realtor and friend).  Anyway, I was standing behind him but with one knee on the piano bench so I was also kind of beside him.  While he is MID SONG I feel his nose rubbing on my right arm.  When he completes the song I said "Did you just WIPE YOUR NOSE ON ME!?" with a big smile he said "No!  I wiped my SWEAT on YOU!"  Bahahahahahahah!!! We (his parents and me) were all laughing quite a lot.  Oh my.

5.  I'm thankful my mistakes on our Federal Tax Returns were easy to find and fix.  ALL DONE.  I am thankful I received the email saying it was accepted by the IRS.  Shew!  SO ENTIRELY GLAD that's done - happy dance!

6.  God always seems to have such unique timing in providing opportunities for me to use the way he's wired me to participate in Kingdom 'activities'.  I know the prior sentence is very vague in some ways but if you know me well you have an inkling of what I'm talking about ... and I'll just say for now I'm looking forward to a new opportunity or two coming my way.

There are my random thankful thoughts on this cold Tuesday in February.

February 22, 2010


I love to organize things, people, events, and much more.

Today, I bought a new Expanding File with 7 Pockets and manilla folders in order to help us continue to organize our finances/tax situation.

I enjoy new pens and markers and highlights and colors when organizing certain kinds of information.

I spread everything out on the dining room table today to get organized before finishing taxes tonight and it felt so good.  It will need another good organization session tomorrow to put things in order for next year but I'm looking forward to it.  I also can't wait to create my for-tax-purposes-money-tracking spreadsheet for next year.

I'm thankful I enjoy organizing even if I don't enjoy number crunching.  I'm thankful taxes are e-filed and complete and that we don't owe as much as we did two years ago.  I'm thankful I will have more room in my brain shortly to think about things I'm grateful for ... I am grateful for the income we both have, so even if taxes drive me a little crazy, they ultimately remind me once again, I have much to be grateful about.

February 21, 2010

Turbo Tax

(Warning: somewhat crabby 'gratitude' moment to follow ...)


I am really grateful for Turbo Tax.

I am even more grateful for Ross's uncle who has done our taxes every year except this year and last ... we're trying to get a handle on how to keep track of everything (because I am self employed and Ross has a housing allowance because he's licensed clergy there are lots of things we have to track during the year) and gain a better understanding of our money through doing our taxes but I really don't enjoy ANY part of this process.

Ross was very good to sit and try to assist me but I'm a beast when I'm trying to find things and add things and subtract things.  I'm thankful for his patience and ability to giggle at me as a I throw folders and growl about 'doing the taxes'.

I'm grateful for all of you business type CPA people who, not only do taxes for people, but you (gasp) enjoy doing them as your profession!!  WOW! :)

February 20, 2010

Eating Out

Growing up, eating out was a rare treat.  Newtown had very few restaurants, Goodnoes being one of the few I can recall going to as a family.   As I got older and Newtown grew, so did it's population of eateries.  However, for most of my growing up years, if we were going out to eat, we had to drive as far as Oxford Valley Mall to go out to eat and we did this mostly for special occasions.  I never minded.  I never knew any different.  I am grateful for all of the nights we spent around the dinner table as a family rather than in the car eating fast food on our way to the next activity as so many families do today.  

These days, within 1 to 2 miles of our home we have a Chili's, Chipotle, Noodles & Co. (new to Blaine!), Culvers, Wendy's, Jimmy John's, Cold Stone, Little Caesar's, Brueggers, various coffee joints, McDonald's (2), Taco John's, Arby's, White Castle, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Zantiago, LeeAnn Chin's, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Sassy Pig, Majors Sports Bar,  Mei Wei (Chinese), Perkins, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Subway AND CUB Grocery Store and Target Super Store.  Think about all of that food within walking distance of our house.  

Not only does the above list of places emphasize how times have changed as families rely on 'fast food' but it also is crazy to think about how much food is so readily available for anyone who has the means to pay for it/buy it.  In many parts of the world, how we eat in America is totally overwhelming and excessive. 

I originally started this post with the intent to say I'm grateful for being able to go out to eat.  At the end of a long week, I love going out to eat on the weekends.  Yesterday I had lunch out with my mom and E-man and Mexican with Ross. Yes - that's twice in one day.  I really am thankful for the privilege I realize I have to be able to fund and enjoy eating out.  However, I also think, even in writing this post, I am realizing how much I take it for granted and how excessive food is in my life.  Some of the excess simply comes from the culture surrounding me and whether I like it or not, the culture around me definitely influences my eating habits. Definitely something to keep thinking about ... 


February 18, 2010


As you know, I have a son.  He is a delight.  He has his dad's temperament and he is so easy going.  I have always said I'd love to have all boys ... we'll see what happens.  (Of course I'd welcome a daughter and I know other son's could be high strung and totally different than this one.)  For now, I'm enjoying my one boy - he's a huge blessing and source of joy and laughter in my life.

What brought about this posting?

In my teaching experience, I really enjoy my boy students.  Don't get me wrong - I love girl students, too, but boys often make me laugh.  Laughter is good for the soul.  I appreciate a good laugh.  Tonight was one of those nights where a group of 4th grade boys had me going.  I teach group piano on Thursday nights and this particular group is very smart and talented.  They often end up doing 'interpretative' dancing to their songs - seriously - it's hilarious.  What had me going was attempting to teach them about the musical term 'ritarando'.    Their one liners are too funny and at one point I just had to turn away from them and laugh.  They were taught this term last week and we talked about why it's so important to emphasize the 'ri' sound versus the 're' sound, etc.  Well - tonight I could tell they had been probably giggling about it all week.  OH BOY.    

I'm thankful for all of my students, but today, I'm particularly grateful for all of the boys in my life who bring smiles to my face.

February 17, 2010


Have you heard them?

I have!

Yesterday and today - I heard birds singing.

In Minnesota this is a big deal.

I have also seen snow melting and pavement.

The sun feels warm.

Do you remember the last time you actually felt the sun?

I appreciate the signs of Spring that exist in Minnesota today ... they make my soul smile.

I am grateful to understand the concept of hope even more thanks to MN winters and springs ...

February 16, 2010


It's 9:15 a.m. Tuesday morning and I have already started the laundry and been grocery shopping.  I am grateful for a productive start to the day.  I heard once that Tuesday is the most productive day of the week.  We'll see if that continues to hold true for us.  This is especially great considering how late I stayed awake to watch the end of the pairs figure skating last night.


Shortly after this post I continued to be productive while watching friend's daughter, continuing the laundry, paying some bills, balancing the check book, figuring out Spring Break trip plans, teaching 5 piano lessons, and next up - watching Olympics and hanging out with KG.  Productivity continues ...

February 15, 2010


I've written about how thankful I am for the quality group of guys Ross has in his life and after a wonderful morning 'chat' with one of my college girlfriends, I was inspired to write about my girlfriends.  I have an abundance of wonderful girl friends.  I have been able to get back in touch with some friends from high school recently thanks to facebook and it's been so fun to 'see' their lives and hear about what is going on with them and their families.  Facebook makes the miles between us somehow feel fewer.  Most of those friends I have known from elementary school through high school. Partly because I was so far away for the college years, I didn't keep up communication very well, so it's been fun to reconnect.

It was during college that I met the girls who really helped me to figure out myself during those transformative years.  They have walked beside me through lots of internal struggles and big life decisions.  They are the 'iron that sharpens iron' in my life, still, to this day and for that I am extremely grateful.  I realize we may not always live within driving distance of each other, but right now, while most of us live relatively close to each other, what a blessing they continue to be in my life!

I'll see if I can post any pictures but I am thankful for all of you girls who have been a part of my life in some form or another.  I am truly blessed by friendship.  

February 14, 2010

Mac and $

This is my first post written from our new computer!  I am very grateful for this addition to our household.  We bought a Dell Desktop back in 2004 when Ross began seminary.  It has been a great computer for us but it was getting very slow and it was starting to not perform basic functions.  Plus, it was a desk top which I'm still debating about how I will adjust to having a lap top, but mostly I think it will be super convenient.  We have been saving for this purchase and with the help of Ross's extra money from teaching, we were able to go out this weekend and purchase our new computer.  Our good friend, David, who has been telling us of all the benefits of joining the Mac community, also let us know about a great deal on the MacBook at this store called Micro Center.  So - not only did we get a MacBook but I know we got an amazing deal, too.  Thanks David C.! WOOHOO!!!!

I am especially thankful for the ability to make this purchase.  Why?

Today at Renovation Church (RENOVATIONCHURCHMN.ORG), we were challenged to think about stewardship.  It was a great message and I really appreciated the challenge to think about why and how we give.  David, our pastor, used this website to challenge us to view our wealth in light of the rest of the world:  According to this website - if you make $39,000 (average MN income) or more a year you are in the top 3.46% OF THE RICHEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.  That's something to think about ... then my Dad just got home from Compassion International's board meetings.  He always comes back with stories that bring tears to my eyes about children and families in poverty who's lives are changed by the churches Compassion is working with all around the world.  Thinking about how much I have been blessed with reminds me of the verse that says "to whom much has been given, much will be required" (Luke 12:48; I know it's a little out of context - thanks Ross :)).  I hope to be someone who is as generous with what I have as possible and I hope to have the eyes to see people around me who are in need.  I'm thankful for the people in my life who challenge me to think about how I can be more generous with all I have been given.

(Side note - our family enjoyed Valentine's Day brunch after church today.  Yum!  Brunch has got to be one of my favorite meals.  Last night Ross's parents treated us to dinner for his birthday - very fun and delicious.  We've had a fun weekend of celebrating Ross's birthday and Valentine's Day.  Neither Ross nor I really buy into the whole commercialization of Valentine's Day ... but we do enjoy eating conversation hearts and telling our friends and families we love them! :))

February 13, 2010

Ross's Friends

So last night, I organized a guy's night for Ross and his friends.  You see, they used to piggy back those hang outs around the times the 'girls' would get together but since we've added several kids to the group they are usually on kid duty when us organizers make plans.  For his birthday I thought it would be fun to have the guys over for Texas Hold 'Em, Wii, etc.

Why am I thankful for his friends (just one simple reason of many)? 

My house was just as clean if not cleaner when I went downstairs this morning as it was when I went upstairs last night.  I know they were over until after midnight and yet they still helped clean up AND they did a great job cleaning up.  They are good guys and I'm grateful they are all friends. 

Thanks guys!  

February 12, 2010


Today I will supply my wonderful readers with a list of 28 reasons why I’m thankful for Ross on his 28th birthday.  I’m not going to pay much attention to priority or order so please don’t ‘judge’ the order of these thoughts … 

  1. Ross is a man of The Word.  He studies it diligently and daily. 
  2. Ross challenges me to be in The Word by the way he lives.
  3. Ross challenges me to love more self-lessly …
  4. Ross challenges me to dig deeper into the love of God … “How deep the Father’s love for us”
  5. He makes me laugh.
  6. He knows how to clean the house and does so without my asking.
  7. Ross is a natural at being a Dad and it’s been such a blessing to be parents together.
  8. He loves Ethan to pieces and takes such good care of him.
  9. He makes Ethan giggle like no one else.
  10. He is a hard worker and he is not afraid of hard work.
  11. He makes me feel secure because he is so steady and even-tempered.
  12. He believes in me staying home with Ethan
  13.  Ross encourages me in my hobbies, interests and friendships. 
  14.  Ross believes in women in ministry J
  15.  Ross knows my love language is quality time and is intentional to make time for our marriage.
  16. I really enjoy how musical he is and how he helps music be such a big part of our home.
  17. I am thankful he was willing to give up the purple Cougar this past year for a van (bah! J).
  18. He is so flexible and go with the flow – it balances me out and chills me out.
  19.  He is a great listener – he can listen without immediately forming a response. 
  20.  When I was nasty to him on our drive back to MN during our ‘break up’  (we’re talking 2003) after he lived with my family for a whole summer – he still was a consistent friend. 
  21.  He loves my family/his in-laws. 
  22.  Ross honors and loves his parents/siblings.
  23.  He makes family time a priority. 
  24.  He doesn’t think twice about waking up to comfort Ethan in the middle of the night.
  25.  Ross loves movies and musicals almost as much as I do! 
  26. Ross never raises his voice in anger at me. 
  27. Ross is not afraid to get in the kitchen and make dinner/meals. 
  28. He’s still as handsome as the day he cut his hair our junior year of college.  

February 11, 2010

Blisters and Conversations

Yes, I am thankful for blisters.  I am thankful for them because it means I had a good walk today.  Spring 2009 was one of the first times I developed blisters from exercising as I started developing my walking addiction.  As I continued to walk they eventually stopped blistering.  Today, my feet might be a little sore but it was so worth every step.  Where did I walk in the dead of MN winter?  THE MALL!  My friend and her daughter, me and e-dude – we definitely brought down the median age of the mall walkers and we had several comments from older gentleman about how we ‘lapped’ them several times.  While the ‘mall walking’ crowd is interesting in and of itself, I can’t wait to breath in the warm air and feel the sunshine on my skin and enjoy playing at the park with E.  In the mean time, I'm attempting gratefulness for mall's that open their doors early for us 'mall walkers'. 

During the above walk, good-for-the-soul conversation occurred.  It usually does with this friend, but today, I was very blessed by a good dose of sharing our lives.  If you don’t know me very well, you might not know that I am a verbal processor.  So, when I am processing life, I usually process it out loud.  Ross and I had a fruitful ‘processing-life-right-before-bed conversation last night that I’m also thankful for … even though the hour was late, it was good for both of us.  So thank you S. and R. for being not only good listeners but for also processing life out loud with me.  

(AND a bonus ... it's not snowing today so my drive time to Wayzata will be HAPPY there and back!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!)

February 10, 2010

Soup Beans and New Toys

Cabin fever. Piles of snow that look like the East Coast amounts but never melt. The piles only grow. It’s too cold to actually play outside most days.  At least in my opinion it's too cold for me to be outside WITH E. I know most schools let their kids go out for recess until it's bitter cold ... but it's MN ... that's just what you do. So, today I'm grateful for some creative mom's and the ideas they have passed along. 

Here is what helped us through yesterday’s version of cabin fever. (Thanks Jeni!)

AND … a toy we had put aside at Christmas time (Thanks Diane and Jerry!) … so it was like brand new yesterday!

Today, we played in the garage for about 20-30 minutes.  We have a ball hanging from a string that tells me when to stop pulling the car in and E-man hit it over and over squealing with delight and running around.The floor in there is so dirty from snow dirt but hey ... it kept him busy!

I'm all for 'whatever works' right now. 

February 9, 2010

Made to Praise

Thanks to Stefanie Johnson from PA, I had a BIG 'ah-ha' moment yesterday.  She sent me a link to this blog:

and I quickly stumbled across this:

and it hit me.  I am in a place in my life where I am not actively leading other people in 'worship' in a church setting.  It is a very weird place for me to be but the above blog helped me understand something about myself.  After hearing sermons which challenged me to be more generous and to think about how generous God is, I felt like I had to find a way to respond.  I was having that "I need to be creative in some form or some way that acknowledges my Creator".  Without even really understanding myself, my response was creating a blog where I could 'give thanks'.  After reading the above blogs yesterday, I understand myself even more! :) So, although I may not be leading people musically or in an up front role, I hope I can in some small way encourage you to think about God's goodness and generosity.  As the author of the above blog said, "Giving thanks for a thousand graces has changed my life -- to glorify Him in all things! We were made to praise!"

While most of my life 'giving praise' has been done with my voice, with my hands through music, encouraging communities of people to join me; during this very different and sometimes difficult season of my life, I am praying I can learn even more about expressing praise in the every day moments - perhaps it will help me 'practice the presence of God' in an even more realistic way. 

So - thank you Stefanie, for sharing a blog with me which helped me to reach a deeper understanding of my desire to express myself through a blog.  I am grateful for "ah-hah" moments. 

February 8, 2010

Creative Arts for the Soul

True confession - I LOVE musicals. I have ever since I was a little girl. I believe back in the day I had a limit on how many times I could watch "The Sound of Music" in a day or in a week. :) Ross also likes them, so we have started a collection of them. If you ever want to borrow one, just ask!

I am extremely grateful for the many fond memories I have attending Broadway musicals, being in musicals or playing in the pit orchestra for musicals.  Instead of having a big Sweet 16 birthday party, I opted for a trip into NYC to see Les Miserables with my mom.  Wonderful.  A good friend's dad offered me free, front row, balcony seats to Phantom of the Opera in NYC one Christmas break which Bryant (a close high school friend) and I enjoyed very much.  I believe I saw Beauty and the Beast in NYC or Philly, as well as Annie Get Your Gun in NYC on a field trip.  I'm sure there are some that I am forgetting.  (I also love shows like Stomp, etc.) For my birthday this year, Ross totally surprised me and got us tickets to Mary Poppins - you MUST see it if you ever get the chance.  Favorite birthday as a married lady so far!  I smiled from ear to ear the whole time. 

I believe whole-heartedly that the creative arts have a way of reaching the soul like nothing else.  I realize I am extremely privileged to have grown up with so much 'art' in my life but I am also extremely thankful for it's influence on my soul. 

A certain piece of musical art has really been sitting with me for the past few years. There is something about the songs in the musical Wicked that really speak to my heart. I've seen it twice - both times in Chicago. I was brought to tears both times. If you are not familiar with Wicked ... hmmm ... you should be ... :)

I remember when my worship team members were talking about it before I had even heard about it. My bass player, Dave, burned me a copy because it was something I absolutely needed to hear, according to him. I listened, thought the lyrics were clever and witty and the score beautiful. However, it was not until I saw it for myself that I realized what a gem of a musical I was watching. Ross's parents got me the piano/vocal book for Christmas and let me tell you - other than the Psalty CDs from my parents - this was my favorite gift. (Sigh) My favorite song is "For Good" but every song is amazing in it's own way.  Something about this song gets me every time - I went to bed singing it last night. 


I've heard it said

That people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn

And we are led

To those who help us most to grow

If we let them

And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true

But I know I'm who I am today

Because I knew you...

Like a comet pulled from orbit

As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder

Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

I have been changed for good


It well may be

That we will never meet again

In this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me

Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me

Like a hand print on my heart

And now whatever way our stories end

I know you have re-written mine

By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a skybird

In a distant wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you


Because I knew you


I have been changed for good


And just to clear the air

I ask forgiveness

For the things I've done you blame me for


But then, I guess we know

There's blame to share


And none of it seems to matter anymore


Like a comet pulled from orbit

As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder

Halfway through the wood


Like a ship blown from its mooring

By a wind off the sea

Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood


Who can say if I've been

Changed for the better?

I do believe I have been

Changed for the better


And because I knew you...


Because I knew you...


Because I knew you...

I have been changed for good...

February 7, 2010

Family Nap Time

Family nap time usually only happens on Sundays after church and lunch when we're all home at the same time.  I have my (it feels like) 5th cold of the season which Ross is just about getting over and so today - I'm thankful for quiet time during which I plan to nap with my boys.

February 6, 2010

Frowns to Smiles

Bad mood = me.  Why?  February boredom, feeling the 'cabin fever' starting to set in, Ross being gone until very late last night and again today on a retreat, etc.  So I kind of woke up on the crabby side of the bed.

Thankfully, the day only got better from there.  Here is my list of happy things that helped turn my attitude around (because goodness, I wasn't about to turn it around by myself ;)).

1.  Phone date with a friend who is refreshing to talk with and it doesn't happen often enough - this got me through the long morning. 

2.  Ross telling me to schedule a lunch date with Angela (used to be our roommate). 

3.  Having lunch with Angela - conversation that was good for the soul - and I didn't have to bring E-man with ... thank you thank you thank you!  So adult conversation really happened for over 2 hours. 

4.  Random woman who told Angela that her smile lights up the whole room and shines with Jesus' love or light or something like that ... didn't know my dear friend but just sat down next to her to tell her that ... cool huh?

5.  COOKIES!!!!!  (Thank you Angela ...)

6.  A husband who texted just to say he hoped I was having a good time (after 2 hours) - not "when are you coming home?"

7.  Coming home there was a clean house to greet me, laundry being done, a very happy naked-on-top E-man and a sweet note from the hubby. 

So I guess I can't stay in a bad mood.  Plus - my niece and nephew are coming over to play and they always make me smile.  There are always things to smile about if you have eyes to  see them. 

February 5, 2010


Some days I still can't believe I am now a "Mom".  :)
E-man uses the word "Mom" for all of his favorite women.  My mom, Ross's mom, Christin, Krista, me - we've all been called "Mom" - especially during the last two weeks.  It's very funny and cute and it works - it gets our attention!  He often has more than one "Mom" saying "Yes, Ethan?" 

My "Mom", me and E-man went on a shopping trip to Trader Joe's today - how fun!  I picked up a few new frozen things to try, some butternut squash, sweet potato sticks, raspberries, Vitamin E Oil and a bunch of other good things.  I'm trying to branch out a bit - E-man's meals get so boring.  I can't WAIT for summer produce!!!!  While we were there, my Mom bought me tulips to brighten up my house on our sloppy snowy day.  She also took us to lunch at CA Pizza Kitchen - thanks Mom! 

Aren't "Mom"s generous people?  I mean ... really ... they give so much to their families.  I'm grateful for the generous Mom's in my life who care for the E-dude on a weekly basis and are so giving of their time, treasure, talents and touch! 


February 4, 2010


Leadership Journal

Rachel Ray

Simple and Delicious


Women's Health

National Geographic Traveler's Edition




Apparently, we like to read and I am so thankful for this hobby that Ross and E-man and I share.  The above is a list of the magazines we receive monthly - we have received many of these subscriptions as gifts (thank you!).  We enjoy them all very much and they are mostly educational.  It just hit me this week when I got the mail and pulled out a large pile of magazines that this is NOT everyone's 'normal'.   Again I was reminded of how much our family enjoys reading when I put away TWENTY-THREE, yes, 23 books that belong to the little dude today.  He pours over them, he sits and reads by himself - well - looks at pictures.  He will do this every day and I don't think he would do this if he didn't enjoy books.  As I put away the 23 books I was amazed at how many more books were still on the shelf.  Hours of our day are spent reading - whether it be online or in print - in silence or out loud.  Today I am very thankful for all of the people who helped teach me how to read and who have encouraged me to broaden my horizons and continue to read as an adult.

If you ever are looking for a book suggestion, just through a genre my way and I'll see what I can come up with ... oh and one more shout out ... Minnesota has an AMAZING public library system.  My habit would be VERY expensive if it weren't for the public library.  

February 3, 2010


“Emily, do you know there is oil all over the floor?”

“Umm … no?”

“Well, it looks like someone got into it and it’s everywhere. Don’t freak out!”

“Haha … okay.”

Walk down the stairs … oh my … vegetable oil is everywhere and there are cute little footprints all over my wood floor and the oven door is glistening. We both are kind of giggling and E-man has no clue what’s going on – after all … the oil incident happened over 45 minutes ago! 


Christin is our roommate. I met her at Bethel when I was the Worship Pastor/Administrator at the college. She was one of the student leaders I had the privilege to mentor and work with and right now she is going to seminary. We have a big room and bathroom in our basement and we offered for her to live with us during this season of her life. We love her! 

Even more importantly – E-man adores her. They are so goofy together and they keep each other laughing with their antics. 

Christin has been a HUGE help this past month. She nannies for a family before and after school and has class, so she is often home during the middle of the day. I have had lots of 10-minute appointments at a clinic near our house that she has watched E. for and that has been a big relief to me. She often will watch E. on Sunday nights when we have house group, too. Finding childcare every Sunday night can be tricky so we really appreciate her! 

We are so very blessed by her presence in our home. It’s funny because I have been thinking about how grateful I am for her and about writing a blog about it and then the oil incident happened this morning and she was the one cleaning it up because I had to run to the lab and I just thought – she is truly amazing! What a servant – what a blessing! I’m thankful she loves us like she does!

February 2, 2010

The Word

I have done 2 Beth Moore studies since Fall 2008.  Daniel I completed with a wonderful group of women from Eagle Brook Church during the 2008-2009 school year.  I have been doing a study on David by myself over the past 3 months.  My small group girls also completed Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed this past fall (2009) which was taught by 3 amazing women, one of them being Beth, and it was also about the life of David.  

ANYWAY!  All that to say - I am thankful for women who are passionate about teaching God's Word.  Beth is a gifted teacher and she is a truth teller.  I appreciate her willingness to use her gifts of communication for God's Kingdom purposes. 

I am also thankful for the character of David.  Thus far, the majority of the study I'm currently doing  has been about how David was anointed by Samuel, as a young man, and then had to wait for 15 years before becoming King and it goes through everything David went through during that period of waiting/training/running from Saul.  In many ways, I feel as though I'm in an 'in between' stage of life and I have been very much encouraged to keep my eyes open for what God is doing around me and in me -  to watch for what God is doing to prepare me for the future.  So, I'm praying for eyes to see and patience to wait and contentment to enjoy the now. 

I am also thankful for people like my Mom and Dad who are examples of Word-dwellers.  I kind of just made that term up - but I have memories all during my growing up years of my parents sitting, studying God's Word and sharing it with our family in practical ways.  Of course, my Dad also happens to be my favorite preacher.  I remember ditching second hour kids programming to sit in the service around 4th or 5th grade because I was a learner and loved listening to Dad.  My Mom gave me my life verse about 20 years ago or so - Philippians 4:6 -7  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  I believe she recognized a spirit of anxiety in me and I remember many days when she would pray with me to help calm my anxious thoughts and fears.  This verse was committed to memory as a little girl and it continues to be my motto.  Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching through the way you live.  I hope I can be someone who hides God's Word in my heart often enough that it overflows onto my family! 

Ultimately, I am thankful for the freedom I have to study God's Word and I pray I never take this privilege and honor for granted.