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.

May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Memories

I am thankful for the very fun memories I have of Memorial Day thanks to growing up in Newtown, PA. Our town feels very patriotic to me as I reflect on it from an adult perspective.  Perhaps it had to do with the history of Newtown (George Washington spent the night at the Court Inn in our town before going to fight the Battle of Trenton and there is more history than just that of course).   Perhaps it is because so much of the beginnings of our country happened in the Philadelphia region.  Whatever the case, Newtown is a flag flying, history-honoring, beautiful, tree-lined main street kind of town.  Every year, there was/still is a Memorial Day Parade.  I marched in that parade as part of the marching band for 3 years (it was always very hot!).  The parade route goes through the town and stops at the different cemeteries where veterans have been laid to rest. I also remember decorating my bike and riding in the parade when I was younger.  We usually would watch the parade from the church steps since the parade route stopped right out front of the Court House next to the old church building.  My dad has prayed at the ceremony held there on the parade route.  So many fond memories!  When I was even younger, I remember great Memorial Day picnics in the afternoon with fun church friends at our home.  We would usually end up over at the high school field to launch model rockets (I think we're going to do that later today with my dad!).   In case you can't tell, I still miss Newtown :) ... especially on days that cause me to recall so many great 'growing up' memories.

I know the point of Memorial Day is not necessarily for me to have great memories of parades, time spent with friends, etc. but to acknowledge the men and women in the past and present who serve and sacrifice in our U.S. Military.  I have several friends and family who I say a big "THANK YOU!" to this year ... my Grandpa's, my cousin Nathan, Bryant, Andy, Garrett, their wives and many others!

(If anyone wants to watch a show or two that will inspire you to more greatly appreciate our U.S. Military and their families ... I highly recommend Army Wives and The Unit!)

Celebrating the 2nd Birthday

What a fabulous, beautiful day we had in MN on Saturday - E-man's 2nd birthday.  I thought I would share the events of the day for documentation's sake.  What a joy to spend the day as a family and with our Ridder/Manders families, having fun with the E-dude.

When E. woke up, we went in and sang Happy Birthday to him and gave him a balloon.  He was so sleepy and cute but also excited about the 'birfday' and 'ba-oon'.  Ross then made him 'pancakes' - his favorite Saturday morning breakfast.  Shortly following breakfast we went on a long walk which took us over to the Ridder home where his first birthday present was waiting for him.  On the way, we stopped at the new "Lakes" park for a bit to break up the almost 4 mile walk.  My parents gave E. a train table.  It's amazing.  It will eventually come to our house when we turn the basement into a play area.  For now, it will remain at my parents home (until we get back from our trip to AZ at the end of the month).  It makes all sorts of noises and it is just very nice!  My mom said it took my dad over 3 hours to put it together - thanks guys!  He loved it.  He played with it for over a half hour straight - walking in circles around it, pushing the trains around and through tunnels, etc.  It was so cute!  Once we got home from their house, we had some lunch and E-man and I both took a nap while my amazing husband cleaned/picked up the house to get ready for E's family party.  (Side-note: I am SO grateful for Ross - it's been a busy time in our house and he graciously offered to clean, does an amazing job of cleaning and allowed me to get some rest.)

The Manders' cousins/aunts and uncle arrived around 4 p.m. and we all headed to the pool for a swim. The pool wasn't crazy crowded even with it being Memorial Day weekend - so that was nice. The grandparents and Uncle Josh came around 5 p.m. and we had dominoes pizza (the new version/crust/sauce, etc. is better than the old one!) and a yummy mandarin orange salad.  The kids voted for E to open presents next.  Everyone was so gracious and he got many new books, toys and fun things like a Ukulele from me and Ross and a basketball hoop from Diane and Jerry!  We then sang to him and had him blow out his '2' candle (almost caught his hair on fire - it was very cute and Grandpa Ridder stepped in to help blow it out).  For his second birthday I made him a big chocolate chip cookie - yum!  We enjoyed dessert, the cousins played some more inside and outside - all in all it was a really fun birthday celebration.  Thank you to our family who helped us celebrate in various ways - you all mean so much to E-man and to us!

May 29

Who knew this would be the birthday of our first born son? 

I am so thankful for E-man and all of the giggles, joy and love he has brought into our lives.  Whether he's playing the air guitar or swinging a pretend bat at a pretend ball or racing his shadow or singing to Psalty in the back of the car ... he is full of life and fun.  He loves "juice" and "cheese" and "making music" and the "Twins" and "balls" and going to the "park".  He says the cutest phrases like "Look mama!  Plane!"  or "Mama - where are you?!" or "I did it!" This past year of his life we were grateful to watch him ...

... enjoy being at the cabin with the Manders family for a week, bonding with his cousins and family.
... have a blast experiencing the beach in Ocean City, NJ with the Ridder clan. swinging and being at the park/outside.
...take his first steps between August and September by himself which quickly turned into running everywhere.
...cut most of his teeth slowly but surely.
...survive a nasty case of the hives while visiting Jake and Jill and Lexi in CO. more and more foods and survive allergy testing in the fall after his hives episode.
....master climbing up and down stairs. spending time with his family - Grandmas, Grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins.
...develop his language skills like crazy!  It's so fun (usually) to know what's going on his head.
...grasp the concept of 'holding hands' when in parking lots allowing him more independence and saving our arms from carrying him every time we get out of the car.
...figure out how to turn on the CD player and listen to his 'tunes'.
...develop favorite songs ... like "Sing, Sing, Sing"(Chris Tomlin), "Wa Wa" (Psalty), "Mess of Me" (Switchfoot), Now or Never (HSM3), Sara Groves CD Fireflies and Songs, Fernando Ortega (calms him down in Gamma's car) ... and this is just to name a few.
... go to his first session of Story Time at our local library.
...develop a love for sports, especially baseball and tee-ball.
... recognize the faces of his family and friends and learn how to say their names. us that he is an includer and likes it when everyone in the room is doing something intentional together (like dancing on the elmo mat ...).
...begin to be aware of kids close to his age ... some favorite friends - Maizy, Nora, Gabriella (lots of girls! :)).
...loving big kids and running around with them.
...hanging out in the church nursery and in the past year he has figured out he doesn't have to cry when we leave him there (PTL!).
...explore the Children's Museum and Zoo and really like 'buttons' and 'dinos'. many musical instruments - like the piano and guitar.
...appreciate TV like Praise Baby, Sesame Street, Curious George, Super Why and a show about dinosaurs (of course this is in moderation but I think his language has taken off since I've allowed him to watch occasionally in the morning when I'm getting ready).

These are just a few of the milestones we have enjoyed being a part of as his parents.  E-man - we love you to pieces and we look forward to watching you grow this year!

May 28, 2010

Friday Thankfuls

1.  A new tent from Auntie Lala
2.  A walk with Auntie Lala
3.  A 'practically perfect' 2 year old check up
4.  A trip to the park to reward great behavior at the doctor
5.  A goodbye with only 2 tears (I'm not really thankful for the goodbye part but I am thankful I'll see Krista again soon!)
6.  Being allowed to use the phone at Arbys to track down where my Mom was because I was cell phone-less - so thank you manager at Arbys
7.  Finding Mom and having lunch with her at a different Arbys - E-man loving the 'kites'
8.  Opening great Elmo gifts from Christin before nap time
9.  E-man finally falling asleep
10.  Getting to take a 20 minute nap myself
11.  Ross doing a Target run
12. PAYDAY!!!
13.  Celebrating our neighbor Gabriella's 2nd birthday
14.  Having friends over for dinner and games
15.  Snuggling Berkeley
16.  E-man being so excited for his birthday tomorrow that he doesn't want to go to bed
17.  E-man being able to say 'two' and telling people how old he's turning
18.  Having a really fun last day with my not-so-little one year old!


Woke up on Thursday and immediately got ready for a walk - (thankful) it was absolutely gorgeous outside.  E-man did not ONCE beg for the park which was extremely helpful because we needed to get home so I could get ready for the day.  Once ready, we headed down to Saint Louis Park for a meeting at the church I'm going to be working at this summer.  It's kind of a hike down there and we left a little behind schedule but we made it safely in record time (thankful).  The pastor had the great idea for us to meet in the children's room which completely occupied E-man (thankful!) and while meeting he shared with me some big news that will really impact what I'm able to do with the church - overall, it was a good meeting.  The Gustafson's live right off of 100 (what I take to get to Park Free), so we arranged a quick stop to meet baby Eliza (thankful!).  She's beautiful and cute and all of these baby seem so small compared to the toddlers!  We then rushed home to get lunch into E-man so he could take a quick nap before heading out again.  I'm thankful we really hit NO major traffic yesterday because I put over 100 miles on the car.  I dropped E-man off with his Grandma (thank you!!) and continued on to teach one of my last Thursdays in Wayzata.  It was a quiet night, several students missing from classes but it was a nice change of pace.  After work, I drove to NE Minneapolis for a going away party at the Parsonage for Krista.  It was a great gathering of friends and I was able to catch up with several people I just love (grateful).  It was a crazy Thursday but a good one!

May 26, 2010

Playing in the Sandbox

After a walk with friends, kicking the ball around out front and another trip to the park and the sand box, I was sitting in the sun this morning just reflecting about how thankful I am for this time with E-man.  It really is a gift and I'm thankful Ross is supportive of me hanging out with the E-dude all day. I hope I can remember it really is a privilege even on the days when it feels most like a sacrifice.

May 25, 2010

1 Thess. 5:16

Working on this ...

"Always be joyful ...
               never stop praying ...
                         be thankful in all circumstances ... "

I am definitely a work in progress.  I'm thankful for scripture that challenges me in the midst of an anxious and a little bit crabby morning.

Always be joyful ... even when your toddler colors on your walls with red crayon.
Never stop praying ... especially when there is so much weighing on my heart and mind.
Be thankful in all circumstances ... especially when I feel anxious about the next few months.

Isn't perspective hard to keep some days?


May 24, 2010

Mom and Ross Combo

My Mom took E-man this afternoon a little earlier than normal so I got to get some work done and then went to teach piano.  Ross took the day off from Bethel because of a really busy past 2 weeks.  So, Ross enjoyed an afternoon nap and then cleaned the main level of our home which has been greatly neglected the past 2 weeks of high speed living while I was gone this afternoon.  Thank you Mom and Ross!  I'm very grateful for how you both help support me as a mom and piano teacher.

Picture Thankfuls from a Weekend that causes my Heart to Overflow

My Private Student Recital kids (minus Sophie!) Aren't they so cute?! I love them!  

Me and Melissa - so many reasons why I'm thankful for this girl. 
It was so fun combining our recitals, Mel - next year we're adding a teacher duet! :) 

The family celebrating after Ann's graduation out on Bethel's beautiful campus. 

The fam celebrating with Krista!  

May 21, 2010

Celebrating My Sis-in-law "To Be"


Ross met Ann when she transferred to Bethel.  She was in his very first Intro to Bible class he ever taught.  They bonded over great discussions about life, family and God's Word.  They continued to get to know each other as she became one of the leaders of "RIOT"/"Shift".  Ross was always talking about this great girl and her friends and I could tell he really respected her a lot.

Josh met Ann when they both went on a trip to Greece and Turkey Jan 2009.  For a few reasons, it was the prayer of my heart during the month of January that Josh would make some quality Bethel girl friends.  I was excited that Josh was going on a trip with a couple of Bethel kids I knew and respected and some of Ross' favorite people.  It was only a few days after the trip when Josh, Ann and Caroline were standing in our kitchen joking back and forth, that I told Ross something was up.  Within a few months, Josh and Ann began dating.

Josh and Ann have handled so many things about their relationship in wise ways.  I enjoy them as a couple very much.  Ann is an oldest child (so we relate on that level in many ways - oldest daughters marrying/married to youngest sons).  She's driven and type A and a very good student.  She works hard and plays hard and loves people well.  She cares about healing people medically but I know she'll also be a great nurse for the way she interacts and shares God's love with people, administering this love in it's various forms.  She has cute spunk and great style.  Ann is quick to smile and laugh.  Ann is great with kids and has been so loving to E-man.  Ann is a great balance to my brother in so many ways - as he is to her, too. I'm very excited to gain a sister when they get married on August 28th!

Today we celebrated Ann by attending her Nursing Pinning ceremony at Bethel.  I almost got teary a few times during the ceremony as it was so clear to me how God has been preparing these Bethel graduates to go out and serve and heal and comfort people in His name.  I don't think you can beat an education from Bethel's nursing program and I'm so proud of Ann for finishing and not just finishing so-so - but finishing extremely well.  I got teary thinking about how amazing it is that Ann will be joining our family in just a few short months.  What a gift she is and will continue to be ...
Ann Solinger

Ann - I love you!  You are a huge blessing in my life, Ross's life, E-man's life - the life of the Ridder family and in Josh's life.  He laughs deeper and smiles brighter because of you.  I have watched you encourage Josh to do his best work as a graduate student.  I appreciate the way you gently come along side of him and nudge him to be his best self.  I admire your deep love for Jesus and God's kingdom.  I will always be cheering for you as you go into the nursing world and as you enter into the wonderful adventure of marriage with Josh.  I know you might think it's weird, but I'd have you for my nurse ANY day! :) I can't wait to celebrate your wedding day with you ... you are an answer to prayer on so many different levels.  We celebrate all you have accomplished and all God has accomplished through you in the past few years this weekend.  YOU GO GIRL! :)

May 20, 2010

Technology and Another Healthy Babe!

I received a text from our close friends, Nate and Kristin, that they were on their way to the hospital this morning to have their second baby.  Throughout the day I received periodic updates about things to pray for regarding labor.  During the four o'clock hour Kristin actually texted back and forth with me several times and it really amazed me ... the marvel of texting and technology and our ability to get information so immediately to our loved ones EVEN WHILE IN LABOR!  Isn't that just fascinating?  It was fun to text with her knowing she was in process of giving birth to her second child.  So awesome.

Eliza Knowles arrived this evening and weighs 8 lb 7 oz.  From the pictures I have seen and her parents comments, she looks just like her big sister Nora.  It sounds like Kristin and Nora are doing so well and I'm thankful for another safe and healthy delivery.  I say another because, yes - that makes for 3 of my friends having May babies since May 1st! :)  Congrats to the Gustafson's!  We're so happy for you!

May 19, 2010

Off the Top of My Head

1.  I am thankful I learned to type using the 'home keys' because according to I can type 91 words a minute and save up to 6 hours of time a week (if typing 10 hours a week).  I'm really not trying to brag either, between playing the piano for 22 years and typing since 1st or 2nd grade, I think it makes sense but it does seem crazy.  It's a fun test to take - you should try it.
2.  The weather in MN has been gorgeous - like absolutely positively beautifully perfect.  The rain from a week ago combined with the sun has made everything so very green and fresh and the sky has been just so blue.  I'm thankful for all of the walking I've been doing and park-playing E-man has been enjoying (P.S.  Anybody else ever felt like "PARK" is a not nice, 4 letter word?!  My little dude has managed to make it this when he's whining, crying and demanding we go there immediately no matter what else is going on ... yeesh!  I'm trying to be thankful we have been there enough and he loves being at them so much for him to be this way but still ... )
3.  I had lunch with Krista and Christin and dinner with Krista and David.  Lots of fun and very good conversation.  I appreciate friends' who ask questions like "So Em, where do you find community these days?"
4.  I'm grateful I saved over 25 dollars shopping at Rainbow using a few coupons and my Roundy's card today ... I think I'm going to be more frequent there this summer and maybe take advantage of their double coupons ... we'll see!
5.  Have I mentioned I really enjoy my Nike+ - it's like a personal trainer and it motivates me to walk further and faster than I was going last month.  I'm thankful for it's reasonable price and everything it tells me on my ipod (pace, distance, time, calories burned, etc.).
6.  I'm grateful it's garage sale season - hitting up a big 5 family one tomorrow morning first thing!

3 Year Anniversary

Please excuse my belated posting as of late.  Life has hit high speed for our family with all of the MANY year end activities at Bethel, my piano recitals coming up this weekend and prep for those, and some of our favorite Bethel students graduating this coming weekend - whew!  So I may have several posts in my head but I'm just not making time to get them out at the present moment ... so this is technically my Tuesday, May 18 'grateful' moment.

The date of May 18th is significant to our family.  It was on that day in 2007 Ross and I signed the papers and closed on our new home. We had some definite drama regarding the search for our first home.  The nasty building company who shall remain nameless that we first were going to go with misled us and our wonderful relators into thinking they could have us in a brand new town home by June/July but they put us on a building schedule for end of August/September which we didn't figure out until we had put earnest money down and lots of questions had been asked by us and our realtors of the person we were working with ... to make a long story short, we drove up at least 2 different times and sat in front of our 'to be' home just talking things through and trying to make ourselves feel comfortable with the situation.  When the move in date ended up getting pushed way back, we were very upset and feeling very misled so we ended up backing out of our contract (although we hadn't officially signed anything) and leaving our earnest money behind because the whole deal just wasn't feeling right.

Within the same weekend, our realtor took us to see 2 brand new Rottlund town-homes in a neighborhood called Club West, very close by to the first one.  We fell in love with the first Rottlund spec house we saw but someone else was already putting money down on that house, so we put our names second on the list and first on the other one whose colors we weren't as fond of, in case the people with the first one didn't get approved.  Sure enough, their deal fell through and we ended up with the first house and it couldn't be better for us.  We felt immediate peace even just walking into the space.  We felt like it was 'us' from the moment we walked in the door.  We were immediately able to picture where our furniture would go and other simple things that really make a big difference - things we didn't feel with the first house.  We were also able to close on the home by MAY 18th which was only about a month after we first saw it.  Rottlund also gave our realtors a signing bonus which they in turn generously gave to us to help make up for the loss of the first earnest money - Jon and Rick Olson were AMAZING realtors - so much so that we recommend them to everyone and anyone we know!  My parents bought their house through them and Angela, our first roommate, also bought her house with them.  They even went to court with us when we filed against the first company (BAH - see what a crappy deal that whole thing was?!?).

So, the story of our first house taught us many things for which I am grateful:

#1 Always trust your gut instinct ... I now call this "Holy Spirit promptings" ... if you don't feel at peace about something, there is a reason!
#2  It's worth losing money (even lots of it) in a busines deal to feel more at peace about a BIG decision.
#3 If you feel like you're getting 'schmoozed' by a sales person - you probably are - WATCH OUT!  (The woman we were dealing with would always ask to hug Ross and me ... WEIRD)
#4 Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your OWN understanding ... in all your ways acknowledge HIM and He will make your path straight!  There were lots of things we didn't understand at the time we were going through the drama, but being in this house, in this neighborhood has been a huge gift to us.  I think of the miles I have put on the trails in this neighborhood, the hours we have played in the parks, the times we have cooled off in our pool, the proximity to Bethel and major highways and so much more and I am SO very grateful!
#5  This home has not only provided for us, but it has been a haven for others as well, and we hope to continue to offer our home back to the Lord to see how he would like us to use this gift from Him to serve His kingdom purposes.  If it hadn't been SUCH a "God thing" kind of story, I'm not sure we would have considered using it in the ways we have been able to ... "As for me and my HOUSE, we will serve the Lord" - I realize I am interpreting this as my four walls AND my family/household, but I think that's okay! :)

I have nothing but deep gratitude for the lessons that brought us to this place ...

May 17, 2010


I'm really thankful Stephanie is forgiving me for completely and totally forgetting Maizy was coming over this morning during Berkeley's 2 week doctor check up.  I'm also grateful E-man is recovering from his tummy troubles somewhat ... here's hoping it's better tomorrow!  I'm grateful Ross forgave me because I forgot to remind him to take a different route than 35W this morning since it's been reduced to one lane between here and Bethel.  The traffic today made his 15 minute commute 50 minutes today - ew!

Perhaps I'm really thankful forgiveness and grace exists in my life!  Now I need to NOT forget to extend the same forgiveness and grace to people who 'wrong' me.  Hmm ... :)

In other news, I am thankful for a new mom-friend I met at the park today and her firstborn is a son!  It was really fun to chat with her and we actually BOTH were in Edgren our freshmen year at Bethel.  How crazy is that?!  AND I know her brother-in-law very well - he was one of my worship leaders when I worked at Bethel.  Sing with me ... "it's a small world after all ..." One interesting thing she shared with me is that she has a couple of friends who have had boys first and they have taken more time to add #2 child to their family ... I thought that was SO interesting because that's definitely how I feel as many of you know. :)

May 15, 2010

75 degrees at the Zoo

E-man's last 'date' from my parents for his 1 year old birthday gift was a trip to the MN Zoo and they graciously invited us to come along.  It was 75 degrees and absolutely my perfect temperature kind of day.  We had such a fun day enjoying the sunshine and all of the animals.  E-man continually talked about 'dino' and the 'buttons'.  A few exhibits had buttons that played animal sounds and he just loved to push the buttons over and over again.  I'm thankful for the time we got to spend as a family.

May 14, 2010

Mister Sun

The sun ... a simple yet profound thing that 'hangs' in the sky and heats our world.  I am thankful blue, sunny skies made their way back to MN on this Friday.  We spent most of the day outside and I'm exhausted - but it is the good kind of tired from playing in the sun in all day.

May 13, 2010

After Work Randoms

Driving home from work tonight I was SO hungry.  Wayzata is not exactly 5 minutes from my kitchen ... so the whole ride home I found my thoughts drifting to food.  I ate my 'dinner' at about 4:30 because I was hungry that early while I was teaching today!  BAH! So needless to say, I was hungry again by about 7 and still had 2 hours of teaching to go which left me with a lot of time to think about what I was going to eat. 

On the way home, I decided a stop at Target was in order to pick up a few ingredients for a salad I decided to make to bring to my friend's home tomorrow for lunch (yes, I decided this while I was super hungry and driving home).  I am thankful Target is open until 11 p.m. during the week.  I grabbed my few things, groaned when I saw the price of milk is rising, checked out and drove the .8 miles home.

Once at home I needed a food fix (I ALMOST stopped at Culver's and decided against it).  I had been thinking about the chocolate chip cookies on the counter so I started with only 2 of those and a big glass of milk while making up my salad for tomorrow.  Then I moved on to my HONEY ROASTED PEANUTS! YUM! YUM! YUM! I am thankful someone thought to put sugar, honey and salt on a peanut.  I think because they are from Trader Joe's I feel as though they must be 'healthy' (ha!). So delicious.

As I was thinking about food, eating, and making my salad I also had the random thought that I never really gave a shout out to our last night of the year with our house group from Renovation Church this past Sunday.  See how random my brain is tonight?  Being a part of a brand new church has been a cool experience.  It has forced both Ross and me out of our comfort zones in many ways.  At some point this Fall, I realized I needed to make the choice to engage with new friends if I was going to truly enjoy this new community.  House Group at Renovation really helped me out with this one and I now feel like I have some new, quality friends thanks to our Sunday nights we have spent together over this school year.   So, just a word of encouragement to any of you seeking community ... sometimes it takes you making an effort to engage with new people and you deciding it's okay to invite new people into your life.  It's definitely worth it but it might take some time! :)

How's that for a peak into my brain after 6 hours of listening to the same recital pieces for the 8th week in a row?! :)

May 12, 2010

Our Campus Min Family

Tonight we hosted our Campus Ministries family.  Everyone brought meat to grill and a dish to share so it was fairly easy to provide our home.  I think there were 23 people here and the kids might have outnumbered the adults ... :) It was controlled chaos and it was beautiful.  I am so thankful for this staff and the friendships that exist within the office and outside of the office.  Even though I no longer work there,  it is really special to know so well the group of people Ross shares his day with and ministers along side of ... I am thankful for this group of coworkers, friends, and kids.

Inspired by the Garbage Disposal

Yesterday I was cleaning up the kitchen and as I flipped on the garbage disposal it kind of spit on my face. Nice visual huh?  As I was trying NOT to think about just how gross that is, I recalled the days of our seminary apartment.  We lived out in Seminary Housing at Bethel for our first 3 years of marriage.  Those were great years.  We had a really nice apartment on the corner of Bethel where we had a beautiful view of Lake Valentine out of one bedroom and the privacy of the woods/lake out of the other windows.  We enjoyed the simplicity of apartment living and lower utility bills during those years.  I especially appreciated that Ross was so close by for all of his classes and studying in the library.  During some of those years I was working as many as 4 jobs, so his short commute was ideal.

I believe our seminary apartment had a garbage disposal but it most definitely did NOT have a dishwasher.  I am grateful for all of the time we spent chatting while we did the piles of dishes together during those first years of marriage.  However, as I was about to get frustrated with the garbage disposal spitting on my face yesterday, I was reminded of how thankful I am to have a working dishwasher.   It is amazing to fill it up, hit a button, and about an hour later have a very clean load of dishes ready to be put away.  We're having a large group of people over tonight - Ross's staff from Campus Min - and it will be so nice to fill up the dishwasher and not spend HOURS cleaning and drying and putting everything away.  This also leads me down the trail of remembering how painful it was to spend money doing our laundry when we lived at Sem.  It is such a beautiful thing to have a washer and dryer right outside of our bedrooms. While we pay for utilities and we purchased those machines, we don't have to have a pile of quarters ready to go and we can also leave our stuff in there and not worry about 'tying up the machine'.  Ah!  Bliss!

We are coming up on the 3rd anniversary of being homeowners and I am still so very thankful for some of these luxuries we now have in this home.

May 10, 2010


After an interesting afternoon of rearranging my piano schedule due to my students' track meets, soccer games, vacations, etc. it made me realize how thankful I am for this stage of life.  It seems relatively uncomplicated and somewhat simple.  Especially on a cold, rainy Monday night, I am grateful to be staying 'in' with my boys rather than sitting in the cold, under an umbrella that barely keeps me dry, while attempting to cheer on my child.  I am fully aware of the fact that I will be that mom in a few short years based on how E-man kicks the soccer ball, throws the baseball, runs everywhere and swings the bat.  However, for the time being, I am quite content and grateful to stay warm and dry while at home with my boys.

May 9, 2010

My Mom

[Side note: I realize today is actually a day that is hard for many people.  I realize many people have lost their mother, desire to be a mother, or have a broken relationship with their mother.  So, to any of my reader's who are in any of those situations, I am truly sorry for your loss.  I do not take having my mother in my life on a regular basis or being a mom myself for granted.  Your pain is something I may not know at this juncture in my life, but I do realize how very grateful I should be for my mom and my child as I reflect on your pain.] 

So, the following are some of my thoughts regarding why I am so grateful for my Mom ... 
-She has modeled and helped to teach me about faith and life with Jesus. 
-She has made numerous sacrifices for me and our family over the years.
(This one covers SO many different things like ... staying at home with us during our growing up years, figuring out how to fund our lessons, sports, trips, etc., sitting through years of band concerts and musicals, driving me to piano until I had my license, working to help pay for my college, moving to MN, doing 'Grandma-care' for E-man every Monday while I teach, etc. etc. etc.) 
-She has encouraged my love of reading.
-She spent a summer getting to know and love Ross and touring him all over the tri-state area. 
-She values family time and getting us all together.
-She loves going to Ocean City, NJ as a family even though it takes a lot of work to organize it all. 
-She has modeled the importance of having good friends/mentors in her life.  
-She is very good at making others feel welcome/including people.
-She has shown me the importance of having hobbies. 
-She is someone who enjoys being in God's Word on a daily basis.  
-She plays patiently and creatively with E-man and reminds me of how great he is ... she loves E-man so well!  
-She often will listen to my verbal processing and then say something in a way that give me a different, more healthy perspective.  
-She always has time to listen and is a great, thoughtful question asker.  
-She is a prayer warrior for me and my family. 
-She is extremely generous and has learned how to share very well ;) 

I could keep going but 15 is a nice number so I'm going to stop and just say - I love you Mom!  Thank you for all of these things and so much more.  I am so very blessed.  Happy Mother's Day!  

May 8, 2010

Another Baby and a Date

Ross and I got to sneak out for an afternoon movie today.  E-man ate lunch and took a nice nap at his grandparents and I heard he snuck in some play time, too.  We went to Iron Man 2 and I will say it was good for a sequel!

During the movie, I received a text from Dena (friend of mine from college, friend of Ross's since kindergarten).  She gave birth to Cole Michael this afternoon.  This is their second child. Sounds like both mom and baby are doing well!  How amazing for these friends to be adding their second child to their family!  I can't wait to meet him!

Even the cool-ish weather isn't stopping us from playing outside and taking a walk.  It's been a happy, relaxing Saturday around here.

May 7, 2010


My Friday routine is something I am grateful for ...

Each Friday morning Gina, Stephanie, Kristin and myself gather at one of our homes for 'catching up' and usually some sort of spiritual growth study.  It is something I look forward to every week and these girls and, until this year, our husbands, have been meeting together for the past 6 years (they've been meeting for 7).  Don't worry - the boys are meeting separately, very early in the morning before work on Fridays - we just used to all meet together and have found it challenging to get our schedules together this year so we split into two groups.  We are currently reading "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan and it has been personally, a challenging book for me in this stage of life we are currently living in ... I'm thankful for the fellowship, friendship and for the chance we get to be together.

After our time with 'the girls', E-man and I frequently meet up with a Bethel student.  It's usually Kara Doten.  Kara is someone I met while being the Worship Pastor at Bethel.  She asked me to be her mentor this year through Bethel's Antioch Way program.  It has been an honor to walk along side of her and process life together this year.  Today she came to my house and she played me 3 new songs she has written (beautiful, deep, make-me-think kind of lyrics) and shared a lot of neat life updates with me while we baked chocolate chip cookies.  E-man loves her and they entertained each other with all sorts of animal sounds.  What a blessing she has been to our Fridays this year.

Some Fridays we meet up with my mom for a trip to Costco, lunch outing, etc.  We are also grateful for any time we get to spend with Gamma, too!

The afternoon usually consists of nap time, me doing some cleaning or resting :), some play time and then Ross usually makes it home a little earlier than a normal day.  We often find ourselves watching a Netflix or Redbox ... last week it was "An Education" - tonight it's possibly going to be "Crazy Heart".

After teaching until 9 p.m. on Thursdays, I just really enjoy and look forward to my Fridays!

May 6, 2010


I was just chatting with a girlfriend and she was asking me about life.  I was telling her about some of the big questions I am thinking through/we are thinking through these days and it dawned me.  While I may be a little frustrated with the lack of immediate answers (eh-hem - thank you cultural around me), I am thankful because I know God will provide greater clarity and direction as we look to Him for guidance in our lives.  How neat to be on the edge of my seat, wondering, pondering so many different things ... trusting in my heavenly Father to lead me.

Holy Spirit - may you be ever so present in my daily musings and in our family.  We need your counsel for many good reasons.

(P.S.  Forgotten God is a GREAT read about the Holy Spirit and perhaps that has me thinking about these decisions from a different perspective these days.)

May 5, 2010


E-man and I drove down to Burnsville today to visit with the Boyum clan.  Carrie was my boss when I worked as a student in admissions at Bethel.  She became a great friend and mentor of mine.  She is just a few years older than I am and we think a lot the same about life.  She played a key role in helping me stay at Bethel and I absolutely loved working with her.  She was part of our wedding party and we have a really neat friendship that always lets us pick up where we left off - even if it's been months since our last visit.  She now has three kids and E-man had a great time playing with their toys and being in a new house.  I am thankful for friendship and a fun visit on this cold, cloudy, windy MN day.

May 4, 2010

"A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words"

This path is 10 minutes from my home on the way to "Island Park". 

Playing at the park on this beautiful 79 degree afternoon.

My favorite buddy in the whole wide world 'reading' on the way home from the park.

What I saw after teaching my last students tonight. 

(I am grateful for my camera phone and unlimited picture texts!)

May 3, 2010

"Wah Wah"

Hearing the sound of E-man requesting Psalty's "Wah wah" song and then hearing him sing along - even on the third or fourth time through - does this mama's heart good.  I am thankful for his love of music and Psalty.  I am grateful I have ears to hear my son singing.

Berkeley Faith

One of our very close friend's - Jake and Stephanie - added another baby to their family last night (Sat)!  Welcome to the world Berkeley Faith!  She was born at 11:45 p.m. weighing 7 lb 11 oz and measuring at 20 inches long.  Maizy is a big sister!  They are now a family of four!

I am so thankful everything went smoothly and fast (as far as length of active labor).  Both mom and baby are healthy and doing well - Stephanie sounded great when I talked to her on the phone today ... and we are enjoying time with Maizy-girl while the rest of the family is in the hospital. (Edit) We also had a great time visiting with them in the hospital and meeting Berkeley! E-man is so happy to have his friend over!!

New life is so incredible!

May 1, 2010


Today is Krista's 22nd birthday.  I met Krista when I first started working at Bethel.  She was a freshman and on a list left by my predecessor of good guitar players so I emailed her and she came to help me lead for a women's history month chapel or something like that ... I remember being impressed because she was a great guitar player and had a very blend-able voice/easy to sing with ... etc.  She applied to be a worship leader for her sophomore year at Bethel.  Typically, leaders are juniors or seniors, but I really liked her and felt she was ready for the challenges of being a leader.

Little did I know she would become my worship ministries assistant and close friend.  Little did I know she would live with us for a summer.  Little did I know that I would feel terrible about resigning after E-man's birth because I was leaving her but I would also feel encouraged at the same time because I knew she would be able to 'hold down the fort' during the transition time.

Krista will be graduating from Bethel at the end of May and moving to Battle Creek, MI to begin a worship leadership position at a church there - they are SO BLESSED TO HAVE HER!  Krista brings joy and laughter to all situations.  She is very administrative and responsible.  She is extremely talented as a musician and she's grown so much in her up front communication/leadership over the past 3 years through various leadership experiences.  She has been through challenging experiences in her life that have strengthened her faith in God and love for Jesus and his people.  She is a loyal friend and a trustworthy person.  She has loved E-man from day one and he can finally say her name!! She is a woman of integrity and she values adventures and shared experiences with the people she loves.  She is a verbal processor and we've shared many long walks talking through life.  I could go on and on - but I think I will close here and say - I am so thankful for her friendship.  I have learned a lot about myself and her through our many 'processing' sessions.  I will miss her when she moves but I also know God has good things in store for her in MI.

Happy 22nd birthday KG.  You're the best!