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.

April 30, 2010


I may need to stop watching the news.  It is just too sad for me most days.  After watching a story about a family who was evicted from their home in New Brighton and was living in tents on their friend's property when the tent their napping boys were sleeping in caught on fire ... how terribly awful is that ... the one little boy is very badly burned, the other one severely burned ... it is just so sad and to be honest it makes me thankful for my home and my little boy who is peacefully sleeping and very safe and healthy and then I feel somewhat selfish for being thankful for those things when there are people who have so very little and are just trying to get by while taking care of their families.  Sigh.  Sort of depressing post but this is the world we live in and it challenges me to wonder what difference I can make.

April 29, 2010

Status Update Thankfuls

So today my thankful moments will be written in the form of the many status updates I have flying around in my head ...

Emily Ridder Manders ...

-cannot believe E-man has only one more month left of being one but is very thankful for all of the fun we have had so far!
-loves Maribeth and Kari Hoffer who share their boy/high school life updates with me and keep me young at heart.
-is thankful E-man got to spend quality time with the Manders grandparents this evening.
-is grateful the thunderstorms held off for my walk this morning and my drive home tonight.
-was elated to receive a message from the Apple store that my macbook is ready to be picked up tomorrow!
-can now flee the country until 2020 because I have a valid electronic passport (thankful that process is complete). 
-appreciated Ross's text tonight that simply said "I miss you".
-is grateful for my girlfriends that sacrifice their time to meet together on Friday mornings. 

Good night!

April 28, 2010

Day Off

Wednesday is my 'day off' during the week.  I do not teach piano on Wednesdays and usually there is very little on our schedule so we get to go with the flow and be flexible.  I'm thankful for having a day during the week that is like this - the change of pace is very nice for both me and E-man. 

The morning of this day off I ended up having to run my new macbook down to Rosedale mall to be seen by the Genius Bar people at the Apple store.  Thank goodness for having the space in life to be able to run that errand. Thank goodness for our good friend David who helped me schedule my appointment online late last night. I am thankful for the guy who worked with my computer and got me in and out of the store in under 6 minutes.  My macbook had to stay to get some work done on it's trackpad but I'm sure it will be good as new when it's back AND in an attempt to get over my major frustrations from last night about this inconvenience, I'm trying to be thankful for our Dell desktop that still runs and allows me to continue somewhat normally with life and things that need to happen in cyberspace.  

I was also able to combine our trip to Rosedale with a few other errands I needed to get done which I always feel better about 'saving gas' and the environment when I can do a bunch of things on one trip.  So I'm thankful that all worked out like it did today even though I was super crabby about my broken macbook last night.  

While E-man took a nice nap this afternoon, I was able to get some work done planning for a service I'm leading on Sunday at Saint Louis Park Evangelical Free Church.  I don't lead very often these days and this is a good challenge for me because I am leading their traditional service that wants to become more 'blended'.  So ... I get to dig out different kinds of songs/hymns and experiences from my growing up years.

After E-man woke up, we took off to walk to my parents house.  The route I took today was 4.12 miles and I'm pooped.  It was SUPER windy but beautiful outside.  We stopped to play in a park at about mile 1.59 to give E-man some good  wiggle time.  As we continued to walk, I would hand him books, his juice, etc. and he would say his newest phrase "tank you momma'.  It's heart-melting.  We talked a lot on walk about everything we were seeing.  As we crossed Radisson, E said "Gamma, where areeee youuu?" We still had about 2 miles to Gamma's house but it was so cute.  I'm thankful for these precious moments with my son.

To finish my great day off, we had dinner at Mom and Dad's with Josh and Ann and E-man got to fly kites with Gamma and Bubbup.  He also played a lot of wiffle ball with Bubbup.  We then came home to see Ross who had been at baseball practice.    I'm thankful for a productive fun day and I'm thankful I'm going to sleep well tonight! 

6 Bins

(Post from April 27 that didn't quite make it because of my mac issues hopefully being fixed today!)

My wonderful husband brought all 6, 14 gallon tubs of Ethan's clothing up our 4 flights of stairs yesterday morning so my mom and I could sort through them and get organized for spring/summer.  Before one can get out the spring and summer clothes, one must put away the fall/winter clothes.  We still had some 12 month stuff hanging out in his room and then all of the 18 month winter stuff.  Mom and I have done this project at least 2 other times together, so we have kind of a system now which helps.  So, I tore about E-man's dresser and closet and Mom helped entertain the boy.  Once that step was complete, we brought in literally 4 more bins of 2T and 24 month clothing we needed to check for size/season.  This project took about 1 hour and 40 minutes and I am amazed.  E-man has so many clothes for the spring/summer.  I have a very large washing machine and I'm going to fill it twice before everything is clean.  I also have a huge give-away pile of stuff I don't 'like' and cannot see myself putting on him.  Isn't that amazing?!

My sister-in-laws have given me hand-me-downs, my friend Gina has given us a bunch, my boss at work has passed on stuff from her nephews and then we get an occasional random person handing us a bag of shoes or clothes from Bethel.  Between all of those generous people and his grandparents and Jill enjoying shopping for their grandson/nephew E-man has more than we could ever ask or imagine and we are spared the expense of clothes buying.

Isn't that truly awesome?  I am thankful!

April 26, 2010

Good News

In MN this weekend there have been 14 lives lost in fatal car crashes.  A Bethel alumni couple was injured and fatally shot during a home invasion in St. Paul on Sunday morning.  With such very sad news/current events this weekend, tonight I have been reflecting on some good news I received this weekend and I'm very thankful for this news from a friend.  It is a reminder of God's provision and goodness in the midst of a tragic weekend.  Good news can come in so many different forms and so many different ways.  When is the last time you received good news?

April 25, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Arizona

Does anything really beat the smell of Chocolate Chip Cookies baking or the taste of one freshly out of the oven?   I wonder who invented the chocolate chip cookie.  I will perhaps have to research it.  One of my new favorite CCC recipes uses buttered flavored shortening ... I know, I know ... but they are SO good.  I'm thankful for comfort foods like this on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I'm also grateful for the chance Ross and I will have to get-away at the end of June.  We just booked a trip to stay at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Spa and Resort.  We know it will be very hot and we are prepared for laying by the pool/floating in the pool, relaxing in our beautiful hotel and exploring a little bit of the Scottsdale area.  This is a trip to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary!  Hard to believe we're coming up already on 6 great years.  I'm thankful for Ross's willingness to save for travel because it means a lot to me and it's so fun to explore somewhere new together.  I'm also thankful for Gladys who helped us plan/book this trip.

April 24, 2010

Bethel Students

Sometime in the near future I will go more in depth about why I am thankful for certain Bethel students but tonight I am just going to say - a current Bethel student lives with us (we love her), last night E-man's babysitter was a Bethel student, tonight he had 3 college students (one is his future aunt!) and one Sem student (my amazing broder)  hanging out with him while we had a date night.  How blessed are we?!  How lucky is he!?  I am very grateful for all of those Bethel students who hang out with E-man and enjoy him and laugh with him.  What a blessing they are to our family!

Rainy Saturday Thoughts

I love sleeping with the windows open during this time of the year.  I love the smell of the outside air and the coolness of the night.  I especially enjoy waking up to rain and a little bit of thunder on a Saturday morning when I don't have to get up immediately and get on with the day.

Thank you Lord for the rain!  We definitely need it in MN as many counties are already under fire restrictions because we've had a lack of snow (PTL) and rain so far this spring.

I'm also thankful for Here's Life Inner City.  We went to their Fellowship Dinner last night.  My college roommate Erica and her husband Aaron are on staff with them and so they invited us to attend.  It was in Minneapolis at the Hilton Hotel.  There were many different stories shared and John Piper was the main speaker.  I will admit I was very skeptical of having to listen to Piper last night - I know - gasp - I am just not the biggest supporter for various reasons, but I thought he gave several very good challenges to all of us who are 'in ministry' last night.  It was actually one of the best messages I've heard from him - ever.  I had fun sitting next to Nora Honson - Matt, her husband, is the man who fell while hiking when they were doing missions work in China and he really almost died.  Several local news stations carried their story.  It was neat to see both of them and get caught up with their lives a bit.  It was especially neat to hear how the state of MN has covered all of Matt's medical bills (nearly 1 million dollars) since their return to the states.  Isn't that just incredible?!  How amazing is that provision for them!?  We also saw several other Bethel friends at the dinner and all in all the night was a really special celebration of the work God is doing through Here's Life Inner City: Twin Cities.

It is always refreshing to hear stories of how God is actively at work right in our backyard, changing lives through the power of the gospel message.  May we continue to recall his works and wonders in order to encourage one another!

April 23, 2010


Warning *** Getting pretty personal in this post ***

This may in fact be TMI for some of my readers but I am so thankful I just have to share.  Being pregnant with E-man, I gained a lot of weight.  Some of it came off right away, but I will say I had an extra 15+ that hung around much longer than I ever thought it would based on the 'if you nurse, the weight will melt away' myths I was hoping would work for me.   It has been a struggle and a battle to some degree to get that weight off.  I have been done with nursing since May 2009 and I feel like this spring, I'm finally seeing my walking miles starting to pay off.

Perhaps it's the shape up shoes I'm wearing while walking all those miles (looks like I'm going to hit 50 miles this April and I was shooting for July), perhaps it's the amount of junk food I'm refusing to allow back in the house (my vice would be the salty variety of snacks), perhaps it was the month of March 'eating out' ban.  I'm hoping it's a balance of all of the above and although my body shape is somewhat forever altered by E-man making it his home for 9+ months ... this afternoon, as I was getting ready to go out to a fancier function, downtown - I tried on at least 3 pairs of pre-pregnancy pants that ... drum roll please ... FIT!!!! And not just barely fit but really fit.  VICTORY!

So to all of you women (and men) who battle with weight issues - this post is for you.  It's okay to celebrate and be thankful when you fit into those pants that have been hanging in the closet for awhile.  

April 21, 2010


E-man and I ventured over to Bethel-land today to meet our former roommate Angela for some quality time.  Just driving onto campus with the spring flowers popping out and everything getting green, I was reminded of all of the good memories of that time of year while I was a student and a staff person at Bethel.    Having to park out in the SCR lot because of crazy-limited parking, brought back lots of fond memories for me, too.  In Admissions they actually celebrate "Freedom in Parking Day" ... the Tuesday after Memorial Day (usually) when all of the students are gone and suddenly there are LOTS of parking spaces again.  Upon entering the buildings, I was greeted with many smiles because college students enjoy seeing little ones like E-man.  Running into friends/past co-workers like Chris LaRue, Laurel, Leslie and meeting Ross to have him swipe his card to get me and E into the DC (thank you Frenchie!) - all of these people just warmed my heart today.  Seeing Student Life staff who have been so encouraging to me over the years and many other friends ... I was just reminded of what a very special place Bethel is to our family.   Angela and E-man and I enjoyed our lunch and then we took a walk around campus, stopping at the Sem to see my Dad's new office and say hi to "Bubbup".  We continued our walk out to sem village where Ross and I lived for his 3 years of seminary.  Those were such special years as we began our married life together and we had the BEST apartment in the whole place with a view of the lake and the woods on a quiet corner of Bethel-land.  Angela is someone who I always enjoy because she challenges me to think in new ways and asks me great questions and I'm so glad we got to spend time together today.

Once you work on the 'inside' of Bethel, sometimes the really really good parts of Bethel can loose their shimmer ... their special-ness ... I know because I have experienced it ... but being back there today I was flooded with gratefulness for the community, the people at Bethel who are loving, kind and servant-oriented.  Remembering is such an important part of our faith journey and today was one of those remembering kind of days that brought me back to just how thankful I am for God's faithfulness through the community of Bethel in my life.  As this 19-year old girl from Pennsylvania came to Bethel back in 2000, I was excited about the future, nervous about the unknown, and definitely feeling the pain of pulling up deep roots from a very special community in PA.  Today, I can look back on the last 10 years and confidently say ... God was and is so very good.  He met me every step of the way and many of those difficult steps where I experienced him the deepest were because of the amazing community at Bethel coming along side of me and pointing me back to my Father and what really matters in this life.  

April 20, 2010

Space and Time

As I stood in line, waiting to check out, behind an elderly wig-wearing woman, I found myself growing impatient as she handed the cashier two gift cards and explained how she didn't know the balance on them.  The cashier then had to call over a manager both times for some reason and it took FOR-EV-ER.  I chose her line because she only had 2 items and I only had a few myself.  I thought I had picked the 'quick' lane.

Side note:  I was already running a bit behind because (my fault) I left my wallet in Lily yesterday and Ross drove off to Bethel with it today and I needed it for various reasons.  So, I had to make a detour to Bethel to pick up the wallet, make a return at Maurices, make a deposit at the bank, drop a check off at my Mom's and get to story time at the library by 11 so I could be home to watch my friend's daughter by 11:30.  

The cute, elderly woman apologized, explaining why it was taking a long time and and I tried my best to give her an understanding smile but inside my heart was feeling frustrated.  It was only a minor delay ... really.  So why was I feeling so frustrated?!  It struck me in that moment that I had a choice to make.  I could choose to be grateful that most of my days are NOT rushed or I could impatiently stew.  As I reflected on that further, I realized how thankful I am that I am able to run errands at my own leisure - to really do most things at my own leisure.  I have very few deadlines in my life these days and I really am so grateful for this fact.

So - to the elderly wig wearing woman in front of me in line ... thank you for reminding me that I am really privileged to lead a life where hurry and rushing don't often exist.  I'm sorry that in my rare moment of hurry and impatience I was frustrated by your gift card situation.  Thank you for helping me gain a little perspective this morning.

April 19, 2010


Today's piano students (7 of them) practiced well this week and most of them are either half memorized, completely memorized or finishing up learning a piece this week.  In other words, they are all in good shape.  The recital is about a month away so now we just hope they 'peak' at the right time.  I'm thankful for the progress I am seeing and I am thankful to see all of the things we have been working on this year beginning to produce 'recital' fruit.  I am also thankful for all of the parents who put in time helping their students practice these more 'tricky' pieces.

Tuesday update - My Tuesday kids also did fabulous tonight!  I'm feeling better this week about recital pieces and I'm feeling encouraged by their progress.  Once again the parents are playing a big role in assisting with practicing and none of us could do it without them!

April 18, 2010

66 Degrees

I love this weather.  I love the temperature.  I love everything you can do outside.  I love the buds and flowers and the blue of the sky and the green of the grass.  I am thankful for new life and warmer temperatures.  I am really thankful for our deck, too.  It's so nice to be able to keep our grill out there and to use it often.  E-man also really enjoys playing on the deck.  We blow bubbles and he runs around on it like it's a big pack n play.   Don't worry - I keep a close on my little monkey!

I know I am probably thankful for the weather often, but I am really not exaggerating when I mention it this often.  In MN, our winter weather typically starts in October and goes through the end of April.  I remember snow during the first week of May one year.  So, combine a beautiful early spring with a having a really warm November 2009, and our seasons are feeling a little bit more like PA!  Woohoo!!

April 17, 2010


I think date night with Ross made me smarter tonight.

We started off at one of our favorite St. Paul restaurant's ... Cosetta's.  They have the closest thing to East Coast pizza I have found anywhere in the mid-west and their mostaccoli is delicious.  The atmosphere is great and the Italian market is fun to walk around - if you've never been, put it on your list.

After dinner, we went to the Science Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I knew very little before hand and now I feel much more educated about them.  You get this cool little phone you punch numbers into and you listen as you walk through the exhibit.  There is so much to read and take in about the culture and time period of the scrolls up through the discovery of them in the late 1940s.  It's amazing how science, history and archeology combine to bring us these artifacts.

I'm thankful for a fun date with Ross and for learning new things.

April 16, 2010

... these are a few of my favorite things ...

I know I missed yesterday, so in an effort to 'catch up' on all of my moments of gratitude in the past 48 hours ... here are a few 'of my favorite things' for which I am thankful for today (please sing Sound of Music in your head while reading this as that is one of my all time favorite musical movies).

1.  Walking ... the weather has been gorgeous in MN and my goal for April was 25 miles but it looks like I'm going to be there today or tomorrow - so guess I'll just have to shoot higher! My goal is 50 miles a month by July.  We'll see what happens ... I also am enjoying my new walking shoes - shape ups.  Not only is walking a favorite thing to do it is also so good for my frame of mind.  I often get to walk with favorite people, too.  Here is a picture of someone E-man enjoys walking with very much.

2.  Chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.  YUM.  I promised my 4th grade boys a treat because they worked really hard and completed a level of piano books in record time ... so I baked yesterday before I taught and all of my Thursday students got a treat.

3.  Costco.  I go about once a month to stock up on certain 'favorite' items.  Here is a picture of the things I stocked up on today:  
 Broccoli florets (steam super fast in microwave or on stove so we can eat it often!), bananas, stonyfield organic yogurt (a frequent lunch item for E-man), blackberries, perdue chicken breasts (hormone/antibiotic free chicken), Trident gum

4.  Trident Gum - yes, this gets it's own number.  I have been a Trident gum chewer since elementary school when there was a 'no chewing gum' rule.  It was my subtle rebellion - I think I only got caught once.  I have been chewing it that long - original flavor.  I have NO cavities (and so far no TMJ) and I believe it's because of chewing Trident.  I used to chew it while in marching band, playing the frumpet and while singing in choir.  I always sang in college choirs with gum in my mouth (gasp!).  You will rarely find me without gum and yes, several pictures over the years reflect this habit as you can see the gum in my cheek.  Bet some of you didn't know this fact about me!

5.  Redbox gets a thumbs up from me today ... as well as netflix.  My big plan for the evening is to enjoy dinner out with my parents and my Aunt Linda and then to come home, bathe the little dude and either scrapbook and watch a movie or just watch a movie.  My selection of the evening is "Motherhood" ... you guessed it, Ross will not be joining me for this evenings viewing because of ...

6.  OUTDOOR BASEBALL!!!!  YAY!!!! Ross is going the Twin's FIRST ever regular season night game in their brand new stadium.  I'm so excited for him and slightly jealous.  I can't wait to go myself ... but I'm thankful he gets to go to such a fun 'first' this evening.

7.  I'm really thankful for the chance to celebrate birthdays with family tomorrow, date night coming up tomorrow night and for the weekend.  (I'm really excited to eat the Asian slaw I made to take to the birthday celebration.)

8.  Oh - one final funny but thankful moment from today ... I was out to lunch with Mom and E-man when I masterfully spilled an entire small-ish glass of ice cold water on my pants ... and I was SOAKED.  The kind where everyone stops to look at you and continues to watch you as you do the 'my pants are completely soaked' walk to get napkins to help dry things.  The food wasn't even on the table yet so I knew I was in for a lunch with very wet pants ... however ... I paused for a moment and just was thankful that ... it was only water.  It could have been worse!

May you find ways to be grateful even in the 'my pants are soaking wet' moments.  Happy weekend!

April 14, 2010

Christin and Jeff

Our current roommate Christin got engaged 2 weeks ago tonight!  I have been waiting to share this news with my blog readers until she was able to spread her good news herself.  We are so thrilled for Christin and Jeff to be entering into the wedding planning stage.  Here is a bit of the backstory ...

I feel like I have had the honor of watching this relationship begin and grow.  Christin was a Vespers leader at Bethel during the time I was at Bethel.  She was also an intern with me, helping me run the administratively-gigantic worship leader and worship team selection process for the 200+ Bethel students interested in being a part of Chapel/Vespers worship on campus.  I remember meeting up with her a bit the summer before her senior year when she was working through a break up and from that point on we processed about relationship stuff often.  We became even better friends through all of the worship stuff and during the fall of her senior year at Bethel, Jeff's name started coming up over and over.  Before I knew it, she was totally head over heels for him but debating moving to Colorado Springs to attend New Life's School of Worship.  I knew he was a keeper when he encouraged her to go despite the distance it would put between them.  They made it through a year of long distance dating and when she moved back to MN after school, she moved in with us.  We've had the chance to have a front seat in watching their relationship grow and develop even more over the past year that she has lived with us.

I could go on and on about why I like them as a couple but there are a few things that stand out to me.  They laugh often together.  They love Jesus and enjoy serving Him and his Kingdom purposes.  They value family and their friendships.  Christin and Jeff have already taken great steps to learn about themselves and prepare for marriage together.  They both are good to E-man and make him giggle even more when they are together - they will make excellent parents.  They support each other and challenge each other in important areas.  They have such great potential to do great things as a couple - I just can't wait to celebrate with them on their wedding day!

Last night they asked me to play the piano for the wedding day, Ross to marry them and E-man to be one of the kids in their wedding party.  We are so honored to be a part of this awesome celebration.  We do not take being a part of this day for granted - what a privilege!

I'm so thankful for how God has created the covenant relationship of marriage and seeing two happy, engaged people planning for their marriage reminds me of how good marriage really is when it is founded on Christ's love.

April 13, 2010


I have been traveling for the last 3 weekends in a row.  Today was one of the first days I felt like I had arrived back home in a long time.  The house is a little bit picked up.  Groceries are somewhat re-stocked.  E-man has had some good loving and playing with his momma.  My suitcase is put away.  My clothes are back in their drawers and the drawers are finally shut.  My toothbrush is back where it belongs.

I love being home.  I am looking forward to not traveling for awhile - even though my travels were great.

I am thankful for 'home sweet home'.

April 12, 2010


Last night Ross and I pulled into the driveway at the same time.  He was on his cell phone.  As soon as he had hung up, he said "Em, I have some TERRIBLE news".  If you know Ross, you know he is NOT dramatic - even a little bit.  So, of course I immediately think ... who died?!  And he proceeds to tell me, " one died but I did loose my wedding ring at baseball tryouts, tonight".

Hmmm ... here is my majorly thankful moment.  I just shrugged it off and was SO thankful no one had died it was really not a big deal in comparison to what I thought he was going to tell me.

Tonight, his brother, mom, and a friend from church (equipped with metal detector) combed the field where he was last night.  No luck.  I am thankful for Ryan who showed up to help Ross with the metal detector.  I'm thankful for family willing to hunt for the missing ring.

I think the thought that continues to run through the back of my head is "a ring is replaceable, Ross is not".  One of our college friends lost her husband in a tragic drowning accident last summer.  This accident has given me a different perspective on what is truly important.  While I'm a tiny bit sad about the ring,  it's replaceable and you can't take it with you when you die ... so really?!  In light of eternity, this is just not a big deal.

Plus, I'm thinking about a new ring already and how I can perhaps get rid of/boil down some of my gold jewelry from previous boyfriends to make him a new ring.  Is that weird!? :)

April 11, 2010

Weekend Gratefuls

1.  Time with girlfriends
2.  Pedicure (I have happy feet!)
3. Going to a movie (Date Night)
4.  Mexican food and Famous Dave's (eating out)
5.  Safe driving time
6.  E's hugs and his smile upon my return
7.  Ross telling me he misses me when I'm gone
8.  A husband who is willing to do the 'single parent' thing so I can 'get away'
9.  Gorgeous weather
10.  A couple of walks
11.  House Group with Renovation Church 
12. A house filled with visitors/company
13.  Being 'unplugged' due to lack of phone service
14.  Running into neighbors more often because we're outside more
15.  Pushing E-man in the swing

April 8, 2010

My Piano Teachers

After a week of giving piano lessons, some of which have tried my patience more than normal, I am just really thankful for my piano teachers.  Mrs. Benjamin was my teacher from Kindermusik through my senior year of high school.  She went to Kenya for maybe 2 years in the middle and I during that time, I had the wonderful Mrs. McDade.  In college I had Carolyn - what a gift from God! These ladies taught me the basics and much more.  They pushed me, challenged me and loved me enough to tell me the truth and help correct my mistakes.  They saw potential in me and did not give up on me.  They encouraged me and made me laugh.  They took time to get to know me as Emily, not just another piano student.  They figured out the way I was wired and taught me in ways that worked with my wiring.  They shared spiritual truth with me about how God created me and the potential I had to serve him with my music.  All this happened while I fell in love with music and particularly the instrument of the piano.  

I have memories of Mrs. B cutting my nails because I let them grow too long (I HATED that but she was firm yet kind and cut them right off) and I'm sure this was after warning me the nails needed to be trimmed by 'next time'.  I have memories of her patiently tapping the beat on the piano, helping me develop my rhythm/counting skills.  I remember her purple carpet in her old piano room and playing MANY duets as I got older.  She taught me how to do all sorts of cool things on the Kurzweil Keyboard she had in her piano studio.  I remember waiting in her living room for my lesson - smells of dinner cooking in her kitchen - her kids coming in and out of the house for various activities.

I never remember Mrs. B loosing her temper with me (she didn't!).  I remember her patience and her ability to convince me that I was completely capable of learning something even if I didn't get it right on my first try (gasp - I'm still a perfectionist at heart and I hate failing).   She was great at finding pieces for me that were interesting and kept me practicing (which was no small feat during the high school years when MANY things were competing for my attention).  She recognized my ability to sight read and always had new music in front of me.  She never gave up on me and we became such good friends.  I often have felt like an adopted daughter in her family and spending the summer at Spofford with the Benjamin's solidified that even more.  Mrs. B has given me more in the way of 'piano therapy' and spiritual guidance than I think my parents could have ever paid for ... I dearly miss visiting my parents in PA because we always found time for a visit and often duet playing.

Carolyn pushed me even further than I knew I needed to be pushed during the college years.  She patiently listened to my stories of homesickness, boy drama, roommate challenges and she prayed with me often.  She understood my ability to perform and play directly correlated to the state of my soul.    She taught me so many different teaching techniques through my lessons with her.  She taught me how to break apart a piece in ways I'd never thought about before and wasn't ready for until college.  She helped me hear things within the piano I didn't know existed.  She was/is such an amazing piano instructor ... sigh ... I need to take a few lessons from her again! She helped me work through my fear of memorizing a song/failure.  She hung in there with me through my pre-recital failures and was my number one cheerleader all the way through.   She also celebrated with me greatly when I survived performing my 30 minutes of memorized music required for graduation.  She is still a dear friend and I love her to pieces - I just need to make some time to see her more!

These women have inspired me and helped me to realize I truly love the piano!  I really do enjoy teaching piano, too.  These women I owe so much to and after a week of less-than-stellar teaching moments - I am so utterly grateful for them 'hanging in there' with me.  Their example is one always lurking in the corners of my mind, encouraging me to never give up on my students.  They are teachers of not only the mind and fingers, but they are teachers of the heart and soul.

For all of these memories and educational moments and so much more - thank you!

April 7, 2010

A few more 'thankfuls'

Since I missed yesterday and I had such a great day today - I thought I'd blog twice today! :)

As I was getting my scalp massaged, hands waxed, hair washed (my FAVORITE thing ever), hair cut and eyebrows waxed today, I couldn't help but reflect on my privilege which led me to be very grateful for my hour at the salon.  What an extreme luxury MANY people in our world will NEVER come close to experiencing, ever.  What a wonderful feeling to be pampered for an hour.  I'm grateful.

Ross and E-man picked me up (since I walked to the salon) and we enjoyed dinner out as a family.  We're appreciating it more since we didn't go out like this for almost a month.  

We then saved 100 dollars at Kohl's and we got new spring jackets and some other small things - we only spent half of what we saved!  Amazing.

What a fun night - I'm thankful for my boys and our 'date' night.  I do not take these moments for granted.

Walking Weather is BACK!

It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk.  
E-man and I headed out to the 'far away' park. 
He went swinging for a half an hour - the child loves to swing. 
We headed home and E-man ate his snack. 
We walked for a little over 3 miles in the beautiful sunshine.
The buds on the trees are amazing - all so very different. 
The sunshine on the lakes was so sparkly today. 
I am grateful E-man is doing better with longer walks and that he loves to be outside as much as I do!
I am grateful for walking time to clear my head and refresh my soul.  

April 5, 2010

Easter Weekend Gratefuls

1.  Through powerful musical selections and an amazing 'worship choir' at my Grandparents church in Indiana, I was moved to tears of gratefulness over Jesus' sacrifice for me on the cross and his amazing victory over  death!
2.  My son was an amazing car traveller this weekend.  He didn't complain once and was easily entertained (with no need of a DVD player) and we spent about 16+ hours on the road.
3.  We saw 40+ family members (Addleman's, Ridder's, Manders') and celebrated Easter together in various ways.
4.  We experienced safety in travel even though the roads were very busy!
5.  I finished reading "Hunger Games" (page turner, couldn't wait to get the next one from the library today) and "Love and War" (awesome book on marriage) and started "Shepherding a Child's Heart" - I'm so grateful I do not suffer from car sickness.  
6.  Special Easter vistors we got to see today before they flew back to CO ...

7.  I can't lie -  I am grateful I AM done with my 'discipline of silence' and not listening to 107.1 fm - woohoo!!!!  :) (lessons I learned during this time ... perhaps coming soon)
8.  I am grateful we are done with our 'eating out' fast ... although I kind of ended this when I went to visit Jill ... it is now officially over and we are re-thinking how we eat.
9.  I am grateful none of us were actually SICK on the road, however my Dad did come down with whatever my mom had last night and we're hoping we're not going to get it!  I'm also grateful my mom was able to go with us - it wouldn't have been the same if she had stayed home.
10.  I am grateful for the signs of Spring that continue to appear - the greening of the grass, the buds opening on trees, the rain which brings out the green/flowers, and so much more.  New life is always something to be grateful for ...


April 2, 2010

Thankful for the Lamb ...

Thank you for the cross, Lord
Thank you for the price you paid 
 Bearing all my sin and shame
In love you came 
and gave amazing grace

Thank you for this love, Lord
Thank you for the nail pierced hands
Wash me in Your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace

Worthy is the Lamb!
Seated on the throne
Crown You now with many crowns
You reign victorious!!

High and lifted up
Jesus Son of God
The Darling of Heaven crucified
Worthy is the Lamb
Worthy is the Lamb 

April 1, 2010

The Field

On this beautifully warm April 1st day, I was reflecting on how I have a little guy who likes to run and run and run.  Sometimes I don't think he'll ever stop.  While we may not have a yard, we do a have a field and a small playground area.  I am so thankful for a place for him to roam, explore and get his wiggles out.  It is a necessary part of our day and we often visit it multiple times a day.  Thank you to those community 'planners' who designed our neighborhood with lots of open spaces and parks.  This mama is SO grateful to you!