grace given

grace given

Click on the words above to see a short video, then continue reading.

We recently changed our cable subscription back to basic. I not so silently mourned the loss of my beloved show “House Hunters.” It was the show that I loved to hate. It singlehandedly fueled feelings of  discontent  with my home.

It is videos like this one that spur me to get real and quit whining about the mismatched woodwork, half installed tile on the bathroom floor, and doors riddled with holes found within my home.

The joy shown on the faces of the men, women and children in this video, in the midst of their poverty, can only be the result of God given grace. I should be so lucky.


wine anyone?

Give a unique gift that is as beautiful as it is functional.

Hand crafted stone coasters:  Set of 4 $17

–Each tile measures approx 4″ x 4″

–Each tile is unique, therefore variations in color and symmetry are to be expected.

–Felt pads on the bottom protect surfaces

–Each design is sealed with several coats of clear polyurethane

The following designs are available:

Wine bottles

Wine 1


Side view

Birds 2

Yellow Finches

Birds 1


Go Big Red!




Please contact me at the email address below to place your order and arrange for pickup.

I can usually create coasters to fit any theme choice. Contact me to discuss special orders.

Some proceeds from the sales will help to support my youngest son’s mission trip to Guatemala, scheduled for July 2014.

2 simple gifts

The following stories of unexpected gifts made this day a memorable one.

This morning ran a bit smoother than most Mondays. There was no fighting or power struggles. We were in the van and backing out of the driveway by 7:02am. I didn’t think that the morning could get any better until I turned out of the school parking lot and caught my first glimpse of the magnificent sunrise.

Did I immediately pull over and snap a picture with my smartphone? No I did not.  But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that for a split second I regretted not having bought into the myth that I could not conduct my life successfully without 24/7 access to the internet and fantastic picture taking technology.  But the regret was fleeting and I spent the rest of my commute reveling  at the brilliant horizon and searing it into my memory.

As Tom readied to leave the house this evening, the dog began to whine.  He expected his nightly walk.  I had already settled into the couch with my laptop and had  little intention of moving. I was exhausted and the last thing that I wanted to do was to go back outside into the world.

Dragging myself off of the couch, I regrettably pulled on a sweatshirt and tennis shoes. The night was crisp and quiet, a stark contrast to the way the day started. The streets and sidewalks were empty. The houses were lit up and I stole glances inside as I walked past. As I passed one house, I looked up and caught sight of a young girl dancing in her living room. The look of joy on her face was priceless. I looked away and smiled.  I continued on with the realization that anything could be around the next turn.

why does my garden hate me?

I experience the anticipation each spring of my perennials emerging from the earth and filling my flower beds. And each spring I experience the let down when I realize that some variety planted the previous year or in this case two years ago will not be coming back to life.

Why is it that I only have a 50% survival rate when it comes to my perennials? I plant shade loving varieties in the shade and sun loving ones in the sun. I don’t know what they expect from me. Fertilizer maybe? I really can only be bothered with good old H2O. I suppose it doesn’t help that the dog likely used the garden as a toilet this past winter.

I have had similar poor luck with cala lilies. I receive bulbs from various neighbors. They either grow stunted or don’t grow at all. Meanwhile I walk by the houses of said neighbors and am stunned to see theirs towering against their fences.

Well I have 2 weeks to ready my yard for Michael’s graduation open house. At this point I plan on throwing a ton of annuals in various pots and using them to fill up the bare spots. A few hanging baskets on shepherd’s hooks and a couple dozen solar lights and I should be good to go. Maybe I’ll post some before and after pics.

The picture below shows the large mounding coriopsis ( far right) that didn’t return this year. Last summer it bloomed from June to Sept.

Yellow flowers


a mother’s day reflection

a mother’s day reflection

This link above spoke to me as I pondered what Mother’s day meant to me as both a child and a mother.

Mother’s day always seemed more of a burden than a celebration, partly because my mother’s expectations were high. It seemed as though mom was perpetually trying to fill a hole bored deep  in her soul by a childhood that was void of abundance, and often lacking in security.

It was only in the months leading up to her death that  the bitterness and anger she so often displayed, and that often overshadowed our relationship, were replaced  by a gentle acceptance of our love and care for her.

Mom’s last 4 days were filled with immeasurable grace, and I will treasure them always.

a sweet reunion

ImageMy father’s sister has lived in her home town of Detroit Lakes MN her entire life. She has lived her life as a single fervently independent woman for all of her 86 years. As a child, I would often stay at her apartment when my family would travel to DL to see my paternal grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.

Beginning in high school, I would travel with my sisters to DL to spend time with Aunt Marcy and to visit my grandmother in the nursing home where she resided. The occasional trips became more regular as my Aunt aged. During the past year falls and other medical issues had created a pattern of hospitalizations and subsequent stays at transitional care centers. Marcy’s decreased independence resulted in increasing isolation from friends. She no longer attended church or shopping independently.

On multiple occasions, we urged Marcy to move to St. Paul where she would be closer to family. We never imagined that one day she would say “Yes.” That day came and she is now safely ensconced in a room at the same care center as my dad.

The reunion between she and my dad was bittersweet. Though we had prepared her with information on my dad’s deterioration, she was still shocked and saddened. Though initially reluctant to spend time with dad alone, each day she is becoming more comfortable. The hospice team that works with him has been wonderful about extending their support and ministry to Marcy.

We are thrilled to have Marcy with us at last. Though she misses having her own apartment, she enjoys the daily contact with her brother, frequent visits from her favorite nieces and Sunday dinners at our homes. Today we will take in an Irish concert at the care center, followed by dinner at my house. Home is where the heart of family is (and tator tot hotdish of course). Welcome home Marcy.

a fresh start

Another school year is upon us and we are all trying to settle in to the new normal.  With both of the younger boys starting HS, I was determined to impose structure to the weekdays/evenings. To that end, the boys are expected to be home each night for supper and both TV and computers screens are off unless required for school work.

After the first day, I diligently scanned class syllabi and filed away those that I would likely want to refer to again. I made a list of additional school supplies needed with a plan to pick them up this weekend.  I am determined to keep all 3 boys on track, checking in each evening about what is being presented in classes, related homework, and what assignments were looming on the horizon.

E’s schedule underwent some changes after his case manager determined that the skills course that she originally placed in him was not a good fit. The stress resulting from all of the schedule changes and the transition to the HS environment finally erupted on Thursday evening.  I rode the wave of yelling and insults with deep breathing and a strong Brandy 7. The night ended well with E and I having some 1:1 time on the couch before he went up to bed.

Youngest one got his first taste of the rigors of HS sports. He plays on the freshman FB team and had his first game on Thursday afternoon. He plays offense and defense in addition to being the team’s kicker, which translates to minimal opportunity to sit on the sidelines and catch his breath. After a dinner of Subway and reading a short story for English, he put himself to bed at 8:45pm.

Oldest is embracing his final year of HS in his usual happy go lucky style. The part-time job continues and his goal is to purchase a truck before the snow flies. The college mail keeps coming and we told him that he seriously needs to consider what his next move will be. I still need to schedule an appointment for him to have his senior portrait taken. The only blip on the radar was a missed orthodontist appointment, my fault for not having placed it on the calendar.

I am enjoying my new job and recently was able to swap a clinic that was 30 miles away to one that is 8 blocks from my house.  Covering 3 clinics, managing the needs of 130 patients and working with 3 different clinical teams is challenging, but void of monotony. My love of organizational systems has paid off and made the job manageable.

With the crisp days of fall upon us, I am content. Tom and two of the boys are taking in the Renaissance festival today.  I plan on doing some grocery shopping and baking a loaf of 5 minute artisan bread. Later, we will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary by taking in the Jazz festival on Selby avenue.  I think I’ll surprise Tom by suggesting that we take the motorcycle.  That might be the only gift that he needs.