Friday, December 31, 2010

Anything You Say and Do...

This is a reprint, slightly edited, from the very first blog I posted.


I have another new form of punishment and torture for my children – the Internet. Now that I blog, they are under constant scrutiny to provide the next fodder for my cyber-soliloquy. I even carry a small notebook in my purse, and doodle random actions and exclamations, and keep a running OneNote document on each child.

For years I have attempted to journal the comical things they say and do on my daily calendar, or in small notebooks for each child. But, who can keep two decades of calendars? The notebooks were read and re-read so many times the pages fell out. So, now I have the means of chronicling their lives and not only broadcasting it to a much wider audience, I can have it preserved forever

*as long as my hard-drive doesn’t crash (again)
*as long as I remember to backup my computer
*as long as someone doesn’t spill milk on my computer (again)
*as long as I remember yet another password

Now, when I hear bickering, I pull out my notebook, not always so discretely, and begin writing. If I don’t have a notebook, I grab a napkin or a scrap piece of paper. When they notice the writing, they sometimes begin to elevate their diction to a level of acceptability.

Sometimes, I may just casually ask, “What did you just say? I’m not sure I got that right?” with hands posed industriously with pen or keyboard, and they give me THE LOOK.

We all know THE LOOK. All kids use THE LOOK on their parents. It is when their eyebrows and lips morph into the expression that quietly shouts both “What are you thinking?” and “Are you really my parent?”

Then I give them the PARENT LOOK back.

We all know the PARENT LOOK. All children have seen the PARENT LOOK after they have dared question the superior wisdom and authority of their parental unit. It is the look when the eyebrows raise and the lips barely smirk, and we are quietly and victoriously shouting back,

“Yes, I AM thinking” and
“Yes, I AM your parent” but it adds,

“And if you don’t behave better, I am going to wear leopard stretch pants or a sweater with beads, mirrors and sequins sewed all over it the next time I take you out in public…and THEN I am going to blog you. Because, remember,

Anything you say and do, can be blogged against you.

 You were warned, Grace Face.

 So were you, Rebekah.

Bethany should be leading by example.

Even our Fearless Father learned to mind his P's and Q's.
(What are P's and Q's, anyway?)

Jon learned that present and past actions are up for scrutiny.

The grandkids were warned, too.
Well, I guess they will be when they are old enough to understand.

Just reminding anyone in my world,
for the 499th time,

Anything you say and do,
can be blogged against you. 

Just Look Up!

I feel like my house really hasn't been clean in months.

I don't mean acceptable, good enough clean,

The kinda' clean where even your MIL would be proud.
The kinda' clean where you can find anything you want,
because it's in the right spot.
The kinda' clean where you open a closet or cupboard
and you don't shrink back in terror 'cuz things fly down at you.
The kinda' clean where you aren't ashamed to show company

The school year was ended last May with the traditional pile-up of
half chewed pencils, broken coloring crayons,
markers that are almost dry but not enough to justify throwing away,
books that need to be shelved IN THE RIGHT PLACE,
papers that have to be filed,
games and manipulatives bulging out from the shelves
and even under the couches.

Yea, I'm confessing on Blogger that I shove stuff under my couches.

I added to the mess by going through all my craft stash in the garage
to bring craft projects to Story Book Lodge Christian Camp.

We were also planning for a week of Vacation Bible School,
a week of vacation,
weeks of having company
and our annual camping trip.

Boxes had lined my halls for months.
Boxes to bring to consignment stores.
Boxes to go to the thrift store.
Boxes to go into the attic
Boxes to go back to the chapel.
Boxes of things to give away.

Sorting, organizing, packing and cleaning was making a
HUGE mess in my house.

I couldn't put the boxes away too soon,
they had to be organized and restocked
to make the next year go easier for each event.

When the space in the hallway filled up,
I began piling boxes behind the couch.

I couldn’t stand the mess and I was driving myself crazy.
I was describing this chaos to my friend, Ruth,
explaining how a simple walk down the hallway caused me anxiety
by reminding me of all I had to do.
She looked at me, smiled, and said,
"Then, just look up!"

The simplicity of her advice made me laugh.
She was right.
I couldn't change it all at once,
but until I cleaned it all,
I had to choose to not let it bother me
by simply averting my eyes.

By fall, most boxes were gone and for holiday company,
I moved the few remaining boxes to the garage.
Then I added the boxes for the Thanksgiving decor,
and the boxes for Christmas decor.

They need to be sorted and organized
before I shove them back in the attic.

Once again,
I have to remind myself to
"Just look up."

It reminds me of a great sermon given by my favorite preacher,
my husband, on the Genesis flood.

He emphasized there were no side windows on the Ark,
because the Lord didn't want Noah and family looking at the distress around them,
He wanted them to look up.

He wanted them to look to Him.

In a simplified definition, man means uplooker.
We were created to look heavenward in faith,
for our strength, help and deliverance.

Looking up doesn't make your problems go away,
 it just makes it more tolerable to look down again.

What great advice as we review our past year,
with boxes of intertwined sorrows and joys
lining the hallway of our mind,
and we look to a new year with
intertwined anticipation and trepidation.

It's pretty simple, really.

So simple, you might have to laugh that you didn't think of it yourself.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Funniest Hallelujah Chorus

OK, having trouble with BlogGGRRRRR again,
so will write below.

Oh well.

Just thought this was SO funny!

Except for the error in grammar,
these kids did a great job.

Can you find the error?

A Year of Medicine

Reader's Digest says that,
"Laughter is the Best Medicine."

I'm not dissing laughter,
but let's look at what the Scripture says.

Laughter in the Bible usually means mockery, scorn and derision.

Think about it.
Sometimes, we use the noise of laughter
 to cover the pain or sin in our hearts.

Sometimes,  we use the noise of laughter
as a barrier to those trying to access and heal the pain.

The real cure  is to have a
merry heart,
a heart that is rejoicing in the Lord,
despite circumstances.

Proverbs 17:22
A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

 As your heart rejoices in the Lord,
it bubbles over with joyful words and sounds.

The Lord knows  the happy sounding noise isn't enough.

As the Lord helped me through
a year started with a leaky dishwasher and a ruined floor in January,
and a third round of cancer in February,
I knew I needed a lot more than my doctor's medicine.

It's a good way to face the world,
with faith in your heart,
a smile on your face,
and laughter on your tongue.

I've chosen some of the humorous blogs of 2009,
to show the year of the medicine I enjoyed.

My husband and son vent on an ice-fishin' trip, ya' know.

I published my first book and was pardoned a parking ticket.

Rules to survive my house were printed for the benefit of the populace.

My cowgirl friend from high school  let me give her a Prairie Pedicure.

My  Big Bible Jelly Belly was discussed.

It was revealed that my Amazing Grace is a Cyberchondriac.

 It was admitted publically that I love being a Mommy.

 It was admitted publically that sometimes I am a Bad Mommy.

 You were warned that not all smells from my kitchen are good ones.

The limits to my frugality were listed.

I confessed that the FBI is hot on my trail.

 My daughter Rebekah offered Gender Identification Advice.

As long as you have the merry heart  along with the laughter,
it IS the best medicine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are you Weary?

Most of us are pretty tired.
We've celebrated our guts out.
We're also facing the reality that there
 is as much clean-up after the holidays,
as there is preparation before the holidays.

School is starting again soon,
and that means a lot of work for all moms.

Winter can drag on and on,
and sometimes the hardest months to face
are January and February.

We need to face the end of a year
and the beginning of a new year
with fresh spiritual courage.

Galatians 6:9-10
 And let us not grow weary while doing good,
for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Therefore, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to all,
especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Women love to bless others in their families,
their neighborhoods, their churches and their schools.

After a time of exertion and service,
it's easy to look to our own flesh and our own needs,
and feel we need relief from our responsibilities.

Relax, yes.
Simplify, yes.
Nap, yes.
Eat healthy again, yes.
Renew in the Word, yes.
Refresh in prayer, yes.

Just don't get weary,
do not become utterly spiritless, exhausted and faint-hearted
facing the spiritual tasks the Lord has given you
as a wife, mommy, daughter, sister, Bible study leader,
Sunday school teacher, etc.

Do not be an easy target for the enemy,
but be strong in the Lord
 and in the power of His might!

The Lord is looking for ways to encourage you,
uphold you,
renew you,
strengthen you
for what is ahead.

Just look for His tender ways and listen for His small, still Voice.

One morning, my daughter Rebekah brought in this tray.

She wanted to be sure I was eating healthy,
and wouldn't skip breakfast.

It was just one of the ways the Lord chose to bless me
and renew my courage,
when I was feeling I had nothing left to give.

I have to keep on, and not grow faint, because
people are watching and imitating.
Let's not drag our weary bodies into the new year,
and throw them exhausted over the finish line.
At the end of a race, runners dig down deep into their fatigued bodies,
and somehow find that kick they need,
to finish the race strong.

Keep on, sisters!

Let's not be weary,
and keep looking for opportunities to bless and serve others.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Happened, Butterscotch Happened

This year I was way behind for Christmas.
For the most part, I handled it fine.
I didn't even make lists, because I knew they wouldn't get done.

I didn't send out Christmas cards. 
I didn't make gifts for the neighbors.
I didn't send gifts to my nieces and nephews.

I purposed to not focus on what I didn't get done,
and enjoy the things my time and energy allowed.

For years I had a list of cookies and candies I had to make
for it to FEEL like Christmas to me.

The kids and I spent hours in the kitchen happily
baking, frosting, sprinkling and licking the spoons.

As they got older, it became work because 
they didn't enjoy it as much.

It was then I  realized it could still
FEEL Christmas without five kinds of cookies.
It could still FEEL Christmas without five kinds of candies.

Christmas will always happen,
whether you're ready or not,
attitude is more important than accomplishments.

This goes for life,
not just Christmas.

 I Corinthians 10:31
 "...whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

Kids won't remember ALL the stuff you did,
but they'll  probably remember ALL the times you were
 frustrated and/or crabby.


This year I sought to have a good attitude,
because I didn't accomplish much.

I made one batch of candy.
Count it.
Your done counting already.
There ya' have it.

My personal favorite,
Old-Fashioned Butterscotch,
made with corn syrup,
even though I am wiping out corn syrup from every other food item in our home,
including ketchup and barbecue sauce.

I used regular corn syrup, not high fructose. 
Not sure if there's really a difference,
of if they just fooled me with a marketing campaign.

Know what?

Christmas happened.

My brother Allan showed up with a quadruple batch of peanut brittle,
chocolate Rice Krispie bars and Spritz cookies.
My sister-in-law, Nita, showed up with a HUGE tray
with a delicious variety of cookies.

Gifts of food came from the office,
the neighbors,
my mom baked while here,
my daughter baked.

We had more than enough sweets.

But the best sweetness, was the family being together.

This goes for life,
not just Christmas.

Old Fashioned Butterscotch

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons white vinegar

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook until on a high temperature until sugar dissolves and it begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and continue to allow it to lightly boil.  It will bubble constantly, so you need to use a heat resistant rubber spatula to scrape the sides so sugar crystals don't form. 

For stirring candy, I like to hold the edge of the pan with a pot holder, scrape the side of the pan, working my way around once or twice, then stir the mixture in a figure eight pattern.  Candy making takes patience and a lot of stirring.  I don't recommend trying to read, but maybe listening to music or a book on tape would be nice.

Cook until hard crack stage, which is 300-310degrees.  If you like a thermometer, fine, use it.  I love the water test.  You keep a little bowl of cold water on the stove.  When you think your syrup is ready, drop a small amount from a teaspoon into the water.  If it hardens in the water and makes a little crack (for those of you from ND think of the sound the ice makes when you are ice-fishing, but on a much quieter scale.)  If you are unsure, test a few times to make sure you hear the noise and see the threads.

Carefully pour the butterscotch into a cake pan.  The bigger the cake pan, the thinner the candy will be.  I use a 10x14, because I have a great aluminum one that I don't have to butter, just pour the candy in.  I don't spread to the edge of the pan, because I need room to work.

As it is cooling, use a knife or pizza cutter to score it.  If the lines go away too soon, it isn't cool enough.  Sometimes I just leave it and break it up, but then it gets kinda' jaggedy.

Here is a great tutorial on learning the stages of candy.  Knowing this will make your life so much easier, although you might end up eating way too much corn syrup!

Monday, December 27, 2010

363 Days until Christmas!

You plan and plan and plan,
then you shop and shop and shop,
and wrap and wrap and wrap,
you bake and bake and bake,
and then suddenly,

it's over.

I was surrounded with bags and bags of garbage,
trying to salvage the bows for next year,
separating recycle from garbage,
and wondering how the sweetness of anticipation
could be so quickly replaced with shredded wrapping paper.

Anticipation becomes an occasion,
an occasion becomes a memory,
and when an occasion is an annual one,
those memories build more anticipation
for the next year's occasion.

We had an amazing holiday,
with three of my five siblings here,
my parents, a niece and a nephew.
We drank gallons of coffee,
laughed long and loud,
we are a loud family,
played games, read books and got addicted to Sudoku.
The tree is still up,
the decorations are still coloring my home vintage red,
the Christmas cookies are nearly all Christmas crumbs,
but I'm already looking forward to next year.

I'm starting to write downs details of the week,
wins and losses,
things I would like to do differently.
If I wait too long, I'll forget.

More sewing and crafting need to be done next year,
I LOVED having that part of my life recharged again.
Wondering if creating one Christmas craft/gift
 a month during the year would be viable?

Am also considering making craft kits for gifts,
using some of the amazing ideas gleaned from bloggers.

About half of my decorations were used this year,
and the house still looked great.
I will go through the other boxes in the attic and get rid of more.

Broken things will be fixed before being put away.

A tradition for my grandchildren needs to be set,
whether I buy or make them a new ornament each year...
sew for them....?????
Praying about my Gramma Tradition.

As I unwind,
I will plan




Because that's what moms do.

The occasion made wonderful memories,
therefore, my anticipation is building...

only 363 days until Christmas!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

MM Meditation - He MUST Increase

John 3:30
He must increase,
but I must decrease.

How could John the Baptist feel the need to say this? He is never recorded to have failed or denied the Lord. He followed Him, giving up his job, His home stability, traveling all over and preaching about the Savior.

It isn't recorded that he struggled with priorities. It isn't recorded that he struggled with the financial loss of a full time career. It isn't recorded that he felt the believers weren't taking good care of him  when his camel's hair clothing and sandals were getting tattered. He never fussed about eating locusts in the wilderness.

Yet, this godly man, the forerunner of the Savior, felt the need  to think MORE about Jesus and LESS about Himself.

What does that speak about OUR hearts?

When we go through a trial, health, financial, friendship, we can dwell on and relive each  trauma over and over,  but we're only increasing ourselves. If we read the verses that are appropriate for the situation, pray and  praise the Lord for His promises, we're making Him increase.

The emphasis on ourselves is depressing. The focus on Him is encouraging.

The focus on our problems is overwhelming. The focus on His solution is deliverance.

Instead of  thinking about a lack of money, rejoice in His promise to provide.

When physical sufferings overwhelm, turn your pain to praise, knowing those that suffer with Him will be glorified with Him.

We can even focus on our gifts, instead of the Giver of the gifts.

We can be so enamored with our blessings, and not truly worship the One who daily blesses us.

In good things and in hard things, we need to focus on Him.


O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

He must increase.

Emmanuel - God With Us

Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall be with child,
and shall bring forth a son,
 and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is,
God with us.

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born,
speaks of His humanity

unto us a Son is given:
speaks of His Deity

 and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
He shall reign as King of Kings
and Lord of Lords

and his name shall be called Wonderful,
this name is a noun,
not an adjective,
and speaks of His Person and work

His wisdom in government

The mighty God,
the omnipotent, supreme Ruler

The everlasting Father,
the Father, or source, of eternity
He inhabits and possesses eternity

The Prince of Peace
the One who will at last
bring peace to this troubled world

Until all prophecy is fulfilled
these things can be fulfilled in our individual lives.

Is He your Father?
Your God?
Your Counsellor?
Do you have peace?
Romans 5:1
 Therefore, having been justified by faith,
we have[ peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Then, that's

Thoughts on Isaiah 9:6 from
Believer's Bible Commentary
on the Old Testament


Friday, December 24, 2010

Help Yourself Hospitality - Breakfast!

Mornings come too quickly.

Especially during the holidays.

Especially if you've been up talking with relatives,
drinking decaf,
watching holiday movies,
wrapping presents,
or reading a good book.

It's just hard to be up-and-at-'em early in the morning,
especially with a house full of early-rising old,
I mean experienced, people.

I like to have things out and ready, so if I am not out in the kitchen,
they feel comfortable
Helping Themselves.

Start with one jar of regular rolled oats, for those healthy on-a-diet kinda' guests.
Add one jar of Trader Joe's lowfat vanilla and almond granola.

Add one tub of instant oatmeals.
I try to find ones that are low in sugar,
but it can be a challenge.

Take jars from your craft room, wash, and fill in with healthy
 mix-ins for the cereals.

(L to R) I have dried cranberries, dried apricots diced into small pieces,
raisins and slivered almonds.

Mix together on a tray and you are almost ready for breakfast.

These three jars are always on my counter filled with cold cereal.
I was tired of having so many opened boxes in the pantry,
spilling and getting stale,
so this was a pleasing solution  for all of us. 

This is another standard always on my kitchen counter.

In our early years of marriage,
someone gave us the wise advice that it's cheaper to eat healthy,
than to pay for a doctor.

The bread basket is also a company staple. 
I fill it with good breads, bagels and English muffins,
so my company has a lot of options for
Helping Themselves
in the morning.

A lot of women get up and make wonderful breakfasts for their company.
I get up.
Living through years of cancer has changed my view on life
and my definition of what is being hospitable,
and I accept my limitations.

If I have company that hasn't stayed overnight in my home before,
I casually let them know that if I haven't slept well,
I won't be up early.
They are shown where everything is in the kitchen,
the bathrooms and the linen closets,
so that if I can't meet their needs,
they can
Help Themselves.

Cancer has taken much from me,
but I can't allow it to take hospitality.

I am feeling healthier and stronger than I have in years,
but I have learned to PACE not PUSH.
If there are three meals in a day,
and I know I can't give them all 100%,
I choose where to put my most energy.
So, I help myself,
by allowing my guests
Help Themselves to Breakfast.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Help Yourself Hospitality - Hot Drinks

I have a big family.

I come from a big family.

My husband comes from a big family.

When family isn't around and we are lonely,
we invite a lot of friends over to fill up the house.

In other words,
there can be a lot of people underfoot at my house,
at any given time.

We love having people around,
and love making them feel at home enough to
Help Themselves.

I started with jars of mini-marshmallows and red hots.

I added festive tubs of hot chocolate and hot cider mixes.

I added one pretty hot pot.

Mixed all together on a metal tray,
and you have a
Help Yourself Hospitality Center for Hot Drinks.

We normally don't drink a lot of either,
and certainly don't give my kids  marshmallows to eat,
but at the holidays,
there are some rules that are meant to be broken.

Of course, the coffee pot is always on.
Regular coffee until evening meal, then we switch to decaff.
I didn't want to confuse you,
but the evening meal is called supper if you are from farm country,
because lunch is called dinner,
and lunch is the meal you bring to the fields between dinner and supper.


Good ol' Norwegians drink a lot of black coffee.
Nothing  is added to the coffee,
no milk and no sugar,
we drink it black,
because you dunk your cookies in it.
My Mom calls cookies and coffee,
"A Norwegian Breakfast."

I love being Norwegian.

The generations that have lived through the Depression make
their coffee so weak, you can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee.
My brothers call this "Lutheran Church Basement Coffee."
Norwegians that know the Depression is over,
make their coffee strong.
Whoever was up first to make the coffee in the morning,
determines if I add a little hot water to mine.

In the mornings,
I feel no pressure to get up and rush out to the kitchen,
because I have established the ability for my guests to
Help Yourself.

I don't have to get up,
until I smell the coffee.

(Tomorrow I'll show you what I do for Help Yourself Breakfast.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Halleluia Chorus!

Yes,  you have presents to wrap.

Yes, you have cookies to bake.

Yes, you are very, very, very busy.

But, you need to R.E.L.A.X.

Your rubber bands are way too tight.

Loosen up.

This will only take 2 minutes and 58 seconds of your day.

See, told ya' you'd feel better.

Now, get back to your Christmas stuff.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Tears

Christmas tears are as much a part of my tradition as vintage decorations, my fetish for dipping things in almond bark, homemade peanut butter cups, Gramma's rolled out sugar cookies and Alice's spritz cookies.

I've realized tears are not always a bad thing, they are a healthy acceptance of the truth of the Scriptures that suffering and joy always walk hand in hand in life. Christmas is a special time with the aura of happiness, giving, family, love, gratitude and faith spilling over for Christians.  It is also a time when tears can spill over, mingling that joy with sorrow.

I first experienced the sorrow of Christmas as a young girl. I caught my Mom crying quietly in a corner somewhere.  As a young child, enthralled with the treats, lights, company and PRESENTS, I couldn't imagine any reason to cry during the whole month of December.  Our Christmases were magical, with Mom and Dad's wonderful fingers baking, crafting, decorating, shopping and wrapping.

She simply explained that she missed her parents.  Her Dad was aging quickly, arthritis and the years of working outdoor construction in North Dakota  had changed her strapping, strong father, into a frail man tucked inside a woolen blanket.

I've always been thankful she shared that with me, because I carried that understanding with me the rest of my life. Years later, I was sitting in my kitchen alone, listening to the bustle of my lively bunch of kids, but quietly crying because I missed my parents and my siblings. I fully understood my Mom's heart.

Christmas tears come for a variety of reasons.

We cry for those that have passed on and will never again celebrate with us.

We cry for those that are just too far away to join us.

We cry because present fiery trials can keep us from totally rejoicing in the festivities.

The pain can be so deep we may not even want to celebrate the holiday.  As beleivers, we have to cling to this reality - we really aren't celebrating a holiday, we are celebrating a PERSON. Our Savior, Immanuel, which means "God with us."

He is DAILY our Immanuel.  He is DAILY our Savior.  He is daily our Ever-present Help, our Sheild, Defender, Fortress, Rock, Redeemer, Good Shepherd...His Names are as infinite as His love, grace and mercy.

If you are celebrating this holiday season with tears, let them be tears of faith and surrender to the One who is longing to work out everything in your life for good. Romans 8:28 is not a pat answer, it is a solid promise.

This Christmas, I will shed a few tears for our adventurous son, Daniel, on a mission visit in Bolivia, who, manlike, won't be shedding any tears for me, and because of lack of available technology,  probably won't be in touch.

I've already shed a few tears for child #7  lost to miscarriage four years, who would have been tearing into packages, eating too many cookies, and sitting on everyone's lap.

And, this year I will shed a few tears for the married daughter, Jana,  and her two little ones who are in CA celebrating their first Christmas without us.

I wonder, as she begins her own family's Christmas traditions, if Christmas tears will be a part of her holidays.