Wednesday, December 23, 2009


We like to see. When driving, we like to see what is ahead of us.

We like to go to high hills and see far off places unseen from the low ground. We vacation near the ocean or a lake where we can see far, often beyond the horizon. We like the known, we like seeing. I was recently visiting my friend and her ten-month-old baby. Even the baby likes seeing. Mom is her life and she likes when mom is in view.

But what happens when we can't see? What about when our windshield gets hit with snow? What about when we are walking through the woods, not knowing where the clearing will be? What happens when the baby can no longer see her mom? Often times, we get worried. We drive slower and more cautiously. We don't want to hit other cars. We wonder if we are walking in circles. The baby wonders what her future will be like without mom, where will she get her next meal, who will rock her to sleep? We like seeing, there is comfort in seeing, in the known.

Its similar to our relationship with God. When I can see the path He has laid out for me, when I can see His hand working in my life, I feel safe and comfortable. But when life is a mess and I feel like I can't catch a breath, I worry, I wander, I cry, I wonder where God is and if He's coming back. But it is in the times I can't see that my faith and trust grow stronger. They are beneficial times though I wouldn't always call them good.

Are you in a time of seeing or a time of blurry vision?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


There have been exciting things going on at my church. We started in September with an intense, regulars-focused series on the church's vision and raising money to build two new churches in the metro area. Money, money money! Its simply something every church needs if it is going to put on these type of services. But money is not what the church is all about, and they wanted to make that clear, so our next series (which we are currently wrapping up) was very seeker-friendly, designed to invite your friends who are far from God. Over the last few weeks, I have seen visitors nervously check in their children and hesitantly go to the service and the next week they do the same process with ease and joy! I've seen my own friends come not once but twice and say how they were just thinking of the sermon topic in the car on the way over! People are coming and our services are more packed than they've ever been. People, people, people! But still, that is not what this is about. Which brings me to this week...our Christmas Eve services. Our Christmas Eve service is a "Say YES" service in both the adult service and kids programming. This is the service where the pastor gives a very focused message and invitiation to say YES to Jesus. This is what church is about! The life change that Jesus brings into lives is key! Some might say, well, every service should be a YES service, and casually, if you look for it, they are, but every service is very strategic, pulling people in who have been hurt by the church or have had bad experiences with the church or simply have never been to the church. If every service was a blatant say YES service, people may be turned away or those who are Christians might not get a chance to grow in their faith. So, I'm excited for the "Say YES" service and I'm excited the church did not simply invite people to this one service, but invited them to a month of services which culminate this week in a powerful way!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reaching My Building

A little over a year ago we had a fire in the apartment building I live in. You can read more about it in my original post. The most memorable part of the evacuation for me, was sitting on the lawn across the street with my neighbors when the fire trucks pulled up. Two huge ladder trucks parked in front of our building, lights strobing. After they stopped, they put up two huge flood lights which plunged our building into a daylight no darkness could easily penetrate. Every brick, every leaf could be seen clearly.

I am reminded of that light shining on my building everytime we sing "Mighty to Save" and we get to the lines:

"Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We're singing for the glory of the risen king"

Shine your light! I think of my building with the huge lights illuminating it. How desperately I want God's light to shine that bright, to immerse the darkness in my neighbors lives!

So today I hosted a winter party. I put up a few signs and opened the door to my home. Six of my neighbors showed up, two families. We had a good conversation and decorated cookies while the kids played games and did crafts. I am so glad they came and so glad they felt welcomed. We are talking about having another party for our building and I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I have seen a lot of teenagers I know editing their photos using this website called Picnik so they come out really cool. I have a photo I took last week that I really like, so I edited it. I think this website is really cool!!! Check it out:



This is soooo cool! I really like this effect. This photo may have to be blown up and framed to go in my living room.

Black and original thought

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

No Perfect People

This evening I skated round and round and round, meticulously doing my mohawk and 3-turn steps. I did a few pretty well, but was disappointed by the imperfections they contained. The tester passed me anyways and I almost felt bad, as if I didn't deserve to pass. She sent me off with a reminder that they don't have to be perfect and I'll have plenty of time to keep working on them in the next levels. While I'm not going to get bent out of shape about it, I like doing things perfect.

Last night, after class, I made a peach pie. As I sliced the peaches, I noticed they weren't as ripe and juicy as the first time I had made the pie. And upon filling it, I notices it was rather flat. I chucked it in the oven anyways and submitted it to our neighborhood's National Night Out bake off. I won! The pie was far from perfect, but sometimes Best if as good as Perfect.

With skating and pie baking in mind, I met up with my neighbors this evening for our party, and as we sat watching the police break up something at the park across the street, I was struck more and more about how imperfect we all are. AND ITS OK!!! I heard three sermons (yes, I know, I'm a nerd) this weekend, all proclaiming that GOD IS FOR IMPERFECT PEOPLE not against them. God is on our side...on my side, on your side. He is fighting for us and loves us.

What gets me about Jesus is that people didn't have to pretend around Him. The prostitutes were prostitutes, the tax collectors were tax collectors. Jesus was a party boy. He hung out with a crazy group of people! He went right up and hugged them. He went right into their homes. They didn't scurry around hiding their lives from Him. They didn't pretend to be something they weren't. They didn't clean up their act for him. They were just themselves. I think the church misses the mark on this one by a long shot. When people come to church, they feel they have to dress a certain way, act a certain way, say certain things. And, sadly, I think, if they were honest, a lot of church goers wouldn't want people coming in and messing up their comfortable services. Have you ever heard anyone say to the pastor, "hey, sorry I was a little late, I'm still a bit hung over from last night"? I think Jesus would be ok with this. Does He want us to live by His plan, well, yes, but first and foremost, He loves us, He already knows us, He wants us to be real with Him. So, two questions: how do people feel around you? Do they feel like they must pretend? Why? How can Christians and the church make people feel free to be themselves?

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I haven't posted in a while so thought I'd give out my two cents.
Life has been busy and fun. My brother and sister-in-law are visiting from Texas so I have been spending a lot of time with them and with my family up at the cabin. There is the never-ending cleaning that must be done and since it is the beginning of the month, bills must be paid. Plus I have weekly class and ice skating lessons (which will be cut this fall due to starting graduate school). I can not believe it is August. This summer has been chilly and has gone fast!

Tomorrow I start the MBA program and on Thursday night I have my final Statistics class! I have made great friends in that class so it will be hard to part ways. I am nervous and excited about starting the MBA.

I did a church visit this morning. I am happy with my current church but like to check out area churches every fall. I started this last fall and enjoyed seeing the worship of God take on various forms and flavors throughout the Twin Cities. This morning I visited Real Life Church and was thoroughly impressed. It was done with excellence and very real, as their name described. Between that church visit and my normal church attendance this week, I am struck by how much we can allow ourselves to live lives of mediocrity. It is very easy. How much courage life takes to life a full life as God intended! It is not easy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ken Ken Puzzles

I've done Sudokus for a while. They are similar to crossword puzzles but with numbers instead of letters. You have to order the numbers so there are the digits 1-9 in each 3x3 square, each row, and each column. Sounds easy, but its rather complex. There are also Monster Sudokus that have digits 0-9 and add letters A-F. However, I've been more delighted with the Ken Ken puzzles. They not only have numbers (which I love) but also incorporate math skills (which I love). If you like math or simply enjoy puzzles, give them a try. This is the best selection I've found: You can do these on the computer or print them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Asters Finally Bloomed!

They finally bloomed!!! I've been growing these from seed since about March!

The Bug

Today I saw a bug diligently attempting to get through my window to the plant on the other side. The bug was so focused on the great looking plant it had very little hope of getting to, it completely ignored the vast forest of leaves, trees, and flowers behind it.

Life is often like this. We are the bugs, vainly attempting to reach a great looking goal, when all along, God has a whole forest of better goals behind us.

What are you focusing so diligently on that you are missing the forest God has for you?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Frugal Goals...If I Must

It has been nearly a month since I set my frugal goals. Like all goals I make, I completely forgot about them until I read my cousin's update on her blog. So, here's how I've been doing:

Overall, I am doing terrible on my goals (which is understandable seeing as I forgot I had made goals. : - ) Maybe I'll do better next month. For this week, if I can get my homework done and the frige cleaned, I'll be a happy girl.

FAIL 1. Frugal Clothes
NOT DONE - Donate clothes I don't wear
NOT DONE - Buy matching pieces for clothes I like but don't go with anything (this may not seem frugal, but I wear clothes for a long time, so its worth it...and buying one shirt or shorts to complete an outfit is cheaper than buying a whole outfit)

OK 2. Frugal Food
I'LL HAVE TO CRUNCH SOME NUMBERS, but probably NO CHANGE- Eat out cheaper ( to do this)
DON'T LOOK IN MY FRIDGE...ITS SCARY - No food waste (cheerfully eat what I have)
GOOD!!! SPINACH/STRAWBERRY SALAD!!! - Make more food at home

OK 3. Frugal Spending
NEED TO CRUNCH NUMBERS - Spend less (I'm thinking of going to good old cash and the envelop system)
NOT DONE - Analyze giving (this does not sound frugal, but giving is important and I'd like to give more)
FAIL FAIL FAIL!!! I've been to Target a zillion times since last month (fortunately some was to do returns) - Don't buy STUFF (I spend untold amounts at big box stores like WalMart and Target, rarely remembering what I purchased or if I do, its stuff I don't need)
GOOD! I returned nearly $100 worth fo stuff (but means I also bought it) - RETURN stuff (I did this today...returned a book I know I'll never end up reading and a bracket that's the wrong size, normally I would have just kept these two things seeing as they weren't very much money and could be useful, but I'm glad I have my money back and glad I have the space in my apartment this stuff would have taken)

OK 4. Frugal Time
NOT DONE - Anyone who knows me, knows I hate reading, but its something I want to do more of (maybe 15 minutes a day to start)
A LITTLE DONE - Spend more time with God (is there ever enough?)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Waiting and the End Results

I've been learning a little life lesson recently. I'll start with the metaphor: ice skating of course :-). In my ice skating lessons, I've been learning 3-turns. I'll admit, they should be easy, but for me, I'm feeling rather uncoordinated and having a hard time with them. The thing about 3-turns is you can't force them. To do a 3-turn, you skate forward on one foot, turn your body to face backwards and your foot will turn on a dime so you are now going backwards. The thing that gets me is focusing on the end result. I focus so much on turning my foot...I want to do a 3-turn. But my teacher constantly reminds me, I need to just let it happen. I need to turn my body first (my head, my arms, my shoulder, etc) until last-but-not-least my little foot just has to turn.

We heard a sermon at church this past weekend along the same lines. It was Bill Hybels' sermon on "Holy Discontent". He talks about how something might bug you, a pssion God has given you, and it bugs you and irritates you until you can't stand it anymore. You get so annoyed that you simply must do something. Many times people focus on the doing something part and do not consider the passions God has given them. They think they will just start volunteering somewhere or helping people, which isn't bad, but God maybe giving them an even bigger dream if they stop being busy for a moment and look to Him.

Just like doing 3-turns, there are so many things in life that are exciting and we want to be at the end results, but many times, its not just about the end results, its about waiting patiently and growing in the meantime, its about things God wants to teach us so that we may better enjoy and understand the end results.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I met my good friend for a walk the other day. While talking about life, we realized we both had been looking through "self-help" books and were rather disappointed with them. Leah, a new mom, had read in one book "rock your child to promote healthy bonding" while reading "do not rock your child". Another advised "interact with your child frequently" while another said a parent must simply observe their child playing from a distance. I lamented my own experience with books written for singles. One will say "get involved in children's ministry" while another will say "you'll never meet your spouse volunteering for children's ministry, there are too many women". One says "be involved with other singles" while another claims "you're single because you're selfish, you need to stop thinking about yourself and volunteer more without a spouse-ly motive". Sooooooo confusing!!! Sooooo discouraging!!!! My friend observed that her books were mostly written by nannies, not parents and I observed my books were written by women who had played their cards "right" and gotten married in their teens. What do these people know about being a parent or being single in your 20s and 30s? Yet, we buy their books. We search for advice. My good friend and I realized, if it was so important whether or not one rocked their child or if being single was selfish, wouldn't God have said it in the Bible? The Bible is the most important book of advice and on many topics, it is silent. Why? Well, on some topics, it may seem silent, but an underlying ethic is noted. But, let's face it, on some topics, such as rocking or what color to paint your living room, the Bible is silent because that is simply not important. There are more important things to the fact that Jesus, a perfect person, died for us, imperfect people. The important thing is we should love one another because Jesus first loved us. Check out the Bible to see what is really important.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Asters and Bags and Cooking

The other day, my asters I have been growing from SEED! wilted in the scorching sun. I thought they were gonners, but today they perked up again and are about to bloom!!! Finally! I planted them eons ago!

And eons later, they look like this:

I'm thrilled!!! :-)

I started ice skating lessons again last week and this week I start school. That keeps life pretty busy scrunched in between volleyball, work, small group, church, and other various activities. I don't have a spouse and children to tend to, so keeping organized is pretty simple. But I don't like packing and unpacking everything weekly, so here's how I organize. I am the bag lady. Each activity has a bag that is just the right size for all the needed items. I place the loaded bags by the door before bed so I remember what I'm doing when I crawl out the door in the morning. Below are: my school bag(with books, calculator, pen, pencil, and notebook...I usually shove a pain of jeans in there too to change into after work), ice skating bag (ice skates, guards, hair clips, comb, mittens...easy to forget in June!), my purse (everyday necessity), and my lunch bag (though I usually use a cotton green one so I can throw it in the wash more often...but its in the fridge at work). I also have some larger bags for less frequent travels and a sturdier backpack for road or airplane trips. This system saves me a lot of time and sanity!

Ok, its probably more along the lines of baking, but I made these granola bars and brought them into work today. They were a huge hit! They're probably more cookie-ish than granola-ish, but its an easy recipe to tweak to your liking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Today I made a homemade, frugal lunch at work. I brought the spinach, strawberries, and the honey roasted cashews? I had purchased at the store the other day. Using about 1/2 the ingredients, I fed myself and my co-worker. Price wise, it came to a little more than $1 per serving!!! That is cheap!!! At first, my coworker was shocked I didn't use dressing on my salads, but this salad does just fine without it. It is very tastey. You quite literally throw some spinach, cut up strawberries, and nuts in a bowl and ta da! you have salad. Its yummy, pretty healthy, and thrifty. I also like the fact that you can make as much or little as you want and still use the leftover ingredients in other, completely different things (like the strawberries in a strawberry pie or the nuts as a topping on ice cream or the spinach in a different salad or in an omelet). This way I'm not eating the exact same thing all week. Yum!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Frugal Goals

I am not good at making goals. I'm a pretty organized, disciplined person for the most part, but goals are just one thing I'm not into. I like to have margins in life, big margins. You never know what is going to happen. Goals seem confining for some reason, but I am starting to understand they are necessary. When you are in school, the goal is clear: graduate so you can continue next year. After school, goals become a little more specific and are up to you to define. As I start trying to live more frugally, here are my goals:

1. Frugal Clothes
- Donate clothes I don't wear
- Buy matching pieces for clothes I like but don't go with anything (this may not seem frugal, but I wear clothes for a long time, so its worth it...and buying one shirt or shorts to complete an outfit is cheaper than buying a whole outfit)

2. Frugal Food
- Eat out cheaper ( to do this)
- No food waste (cheerfully eat what I have)
- Make more food at home

3. Frugal Spending
- Spend less (I'm thinking of going to good old cash and the envelop system)
- Analyze giving (this does not sound frugal, but giving is important and I'd like to give more)
- Don't buy STUFF (I spend untold amounts at big box stores like WalMart and Target, rarely remembering what I purchased or if I do, its stuff I don't need)
- RETURN stuff (I did this today...returned a book I know I'll never end up reading and a bracket that's the wrong size, normally I would have just kept these two things seeing as they weren't very much money and could be useful, but I'm glad I have my money back and glad I have the space in my apartment this stuff would have taken)

4. Frugal Time
- Anyone who knows me, knows I hate reading, but its something I want to do more of (maybe 15 minutes a day to start)
- Spend more time with God (is there ever enough?)

A Life of Frugality

My cousin, Frugal Girl, is very frugal. She spends very little and discusses her grocery spending on her blog. In an attempt to be more frugal, I thought I'd start posting my grocery spending like she does. I'll have to admit, the way I shop is very different than her. I don't have time to go to as many grocery stores, search the paper for deals like she does, but I could put some more effort into buying smart, cooking more, and planning meals (which I think is more challenging when feeding one, I could make lasagna and have it three meals a day for a week but would not be a very happy camper). I either have to buy food that keeps a long time or stuff I can prepare many different ways and don't mind eating a lot. So, let the fun begin. I spent $50 this session (session because I don't grocery shop on a consistent basis and I'm excited to see how long this lasts). It seems like a small amount for how long it will last me, and it is, but I must admit, most of my food money goes to eating out with friends (which fortunately gives me an extra meal of leftovers since I don't eat much). I'd like to start monitoring that more closely too. So, what did I buy at the store? Here's the photo:

What is not pictured is a small bad of nuts I got in the bulk section. I realized they were missing when I got home. Not a big deal, right? Well, I'm starting the frugal life, so yes, 2.65 is a big deal. I went to the store to see if I had left them behind and the lady let me get another bag for free!!! 2.65 is a coffee shop visit in my world, so well worth the extra trip. :-)

Why did I buy what I did?

2 bags frozen blueberries - I use these in pancakes and other things, since they are frozen, they will last forever. They are cheaper than the fresh ones and I had a coupon.
Eggs, flour, oatmeal, swirled choco chips, raisins - my cousin has a recipe for granola bars I wanted to try out and these were a few of the ingredients
Spinach - I had a coupon
Strawberries and nuts - to go with the spinach to make a yummy salad
Tilapia - a cheap fish yum! I'm excited to try making this different ways
Mac and Cheese - 5 for $4...I give them to my neighbors when they need food or make it if I am babysitting kids at my house
Hot dogs, baked beans, and carrot chips - for a picnic next weekend
Milk - to put in coffee I make at home
Pita chips - I have some hummus left over I'd like to use and these are super yummy!
Brown sugar - I was out and like to have it on hand
Frappuchinos - These are a splurge that I buy when they are on sale...unfortunately I can't brag too much because they were only .50 off.
I'm also very proud of the fact that I remembered to bring my reusable bags! They are sturdier and I don't have paper bags all over my house!

I think that's everything for now : - )

Here's my poor attempt at food planning : - ) Like my cousin, I don't plan breakfasts, they are usually oatmeal, cereal, or just coffee.

L - leftover Carbone's
D - free picnic at the park from the local church (how nice of them!)

L - left over Jimmy's
D - potatoes with paprika and chives

L - strawberry salad
D - whatever snacks I bring to the ice rink and then snacks at small group

L - probably strawberry salad again
D - probably attempt some tilapia (pasta if its cold outside)

L - strawberry salad again? maybe chicken
D - I have class this night, so probably will grab something out quick

L - out with a friend
D - sometimes I forget to eat dinner on Fridays, so probably just some snacks before volleyball

L - at my parent's
D - picnic at friends' (bringing carrot chips and hot dogs)

Friday, May 29, 2009


Its been a while since I did a church visit, but a few weeks ago I went to Sovereign Grace Community Church. It is part of a community of churches my aunt mentioned I should try out. It meets in a local high school auditorium. I'm happy with the church I currently go to on Saturday nights, but it leaves Sunday mornings open to try out other places. This church was filled to the brims with large families. I felt a little out of place because I wasn't wearing a denim skirt like all the other women ;-) I knew few of the songs and the pastor's sermon was nothing to write home about. HOWEVER...I'd give it another try. I felt welcomed there. All because of Barb. Walking in, I was given a mummbled "welcome" from the greeters, pointed in the direction of the auditorium, and given the familiar "you must be a visitor" look. I sat down and waited for the service to start. A lady came over, said 'hi', firmly shook my hand, and said, "My name's Barb! I haven't seen you here before? Is this your first time visiting?". We chatted for a few mintues and she mentioned going to find her kids before service started. She ended with a, "Nice to meet you. I'll see you after service and we'll chat more." I sat there in shock! After service? I had been invited to stay and chat? Often at church, we are good at saying "visitors are welcome to stick around for coffee and snacks" but we often are saying it to ourselves or it falls on deaf ears that have just heard about the offering we are going to receive. But being specifically invited to chat with a new found friend made staying worth doing. Someone knows I'm here. Someone wants to talk to me. Or, my biggest thought, someone will know if I ditch out early (which I did...I had plans that didn't permit me to stay long after, maybe next time). Amazing. Barb has it right. She's the best greeter ever and I doubt that was her official role for the day. I mean, when was the last time you remembered the name of a church greeter?

What Happened to Friendship?

I am starting to think it is “sooo 1990’s” to think that love=sex. It seems that the new trend for the 2000s is friendship=sex. Having the day off, I tuned into Dr. Phil and Oprah. Both shows were about same sex marriage, being gay, and being lesbian. The people in relationships often have great things to say about each other. They were attracted to the other people’s personality at first. But beyond that, physical intimacy was added. It seems that we, as a society, have lost sight of how to be good friends…just friends. We admire someone, we enjoy being with them, we talk, we make memories, we share secrets, we laugh…and now, we have sex? It is hard for boys and girls to be just friends, but now, girls and girls can’t be just friends, boys and boys can’t be just friends. We are confused in our relationships. We don’t trust people. We are paranoid about them. And yet, we desire intimacy, we desire to trust people and think being physical will fulfill that need.

I think our relationship confusion hinders our ability to form community. There is no trust and honesty when we don’t know how to be friends. Our friendships grow and die at rapid paces. With our growing dependence on cyber relationships, where people put their best foot forward, our friendships grow quickly. With the lack of cyber relationships in the past, few people know how to deal with failed cyber relationships. The dream, the best foot forward, idealist relationship dies with a confused bang. With our added physical acts, our relationships die with a bang, causing more mistrust. How can we have community in a large group when we can’t even have intimate, non-sexual relationships between two people?

While we have lost our bodily boundaries, we have not lost our desire for intimacy with each other. Thoughts?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lyrics of Life

I've been hearing a thought provoking song recently. Its Nickelback's "If Today Was Your Last Day". What a great song! Great lyrics. My favorite line is "live like you'll never live it twice". All questions...I like questions.

If Today Was Your Last Day - Nickelback

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day's a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
If today was your last day

Against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the prize is always worth the fight
Every second counts 'cause there's no second try
So live like you'll never live it twice
Don't take the free ride in your own life

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin' stand in your way
Cause the hands of time are never on your side

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?

Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Little Bro

My little brother had a good post the other day, so I thought I'd share that:

Monday, May 11, 2009

Our Father...Who Art In Heaven...

There's something about the Lord's Prayer. Mumbled at the end of countless meeting at the church where I worked, I found it to be rote and dry, merely words without heart, a cultish chant. But I've been re-thinking these words and have come to find the age-less, pure words focusing, uniting, and pure. There's something about each and every word. As I uttered "our..." I was reminded of the common bond Christians and all humanity have. We are all in need of a Father, the Saviour. Wow. All that from one word. Being a "Baptist", I like to change up the words and be a little more specific or imaginative to keep the "chant" from becoming cultish once again...bring on the trespasses vs. temptations debate :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Quick...where's San Jose, California? Is it by the ocean or the mountains? While the answer stays the same, the way we come to our conclusion has changed over time. A mere ten years ago, I would have gone to the bookshelf and grabbed an Atlas or Encyclopia. I would flip through the pages and find California or flip through the index and find San Jose. Five years ago I might have called a knowledgable friend or took a mental note to look it up in Encarta (remember Encarta? the digitization of an Encyclopia) when I got home. However, as we were eating dinner last night at a restaurant and the question arose, it was merely a question of who would look it up on their mobile. In less than five minutes (maximum) we had our answer complete with a visual, color map of San Jose and the surrounding area. (Its on the coast, by the way).

With all the information at our finger tips, is this good for us? We are learning how to access information at the speed of light (quite literally). However, I see reasoning, socializing, and logic getting thrown by the wayside. We are losing the tangents that reasoning and team research bring us. And really, how useful is the informaiton we are accessing anyways? Much of it is simply fluff that does not better our lives by any scope of the imagination. Consider our San Jose question: we looked it up quick and the question was quickly answered. However, if the technology had not been available, what else would we have learned? Would we have heard a story from someone who had been there? Would we have reasoned (as we did later) that their hockey team is the Sharks and why would that be a team from inland? Is my life better because I know where San Jose is? Will I even remember the answer next time the question comes up or simply turn to Google again? Would we have just let the question slide and used the five minutes for another discussion? Who knows.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Face to Face

Imagine you and I plan to meet for coffee. You're there, ready for my arrival. I show up with my brother, my tv, a deck of cards, my ipod, and a treadmill (it looks like a Verizon commercial). We sit down to coffee. While I'm talking with you and drinking my coffee, I'm talking with my brother, watching tv, playing solitaire, listening to music, and walking on my treadmill. Would you feel like we were having quality time? I would hope not. Would you feel valued in the presence of my entourage? Probably not.

Yet, this is what I see happening in our society. I sit at my home, online, watching tv, chatting online with multiple friends, talking on the phone, eating dinner, playing solitaire, and sometimes lifting hand weights...all at the same time! While this is alright once in a while, this is no way to socialize and no way to maintain the close friendships God desires for us, has designed for us, as catalysts of growth for us and others. A smaller and smaller percentage of our conversations anymore are face to face. Every day there are new ways to communicate faceless. Taking into consideration that much of conversation is non-verbal, this is sad and confusing. We are losing the art of live face-to-face conversation. I'd like to see a study on eye contact. I bet our eye contact is not what it used to be.

I think we also do this with God. Whether you are an introvert or extravert, the thought of spending even ten quiet, still minutes face-to-face with God sounds like a lazy waste. It is sad because even ten minutes are so powerful. So, stop, you can do it. You can take the next 10 minutes. Go in Peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Very Good "Good Friday"

"I know another Father who lost His Son on Good Friday. It is because of that we know Jason is ok." - Uncle David Pautsch

These past few weeks have been somber. After attending a somber Good Friday service, I returned home where my dad called me with news that my 20-year-old cousin, Jason had died that morning in Iraq. A suicide bomber had driven into an Iraqi police post and Jason's convoy happened to be there at the same moment (I'm not sure if those are the exact details). The family notified, his name released, the press releases started rolling in. My family's faith became strickingly evident and no one could deny the source of my uncle's hope and the rock Jason had stood upon.

"All the other pretend gods want you to die for them, but instead Jesus died for you!" -Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch

"When he was in Desert Training last year in the Mojave Desert, he was having a discussion with some of his buddies and one got rather antagonistic saying, “What makes you think Christianity is so much better than any of the other religions in the world?!” Jason told me he didn’t know what to say but he breathed a little prayer to the LORD and said, “I need some big help on this one.”
As it turned out he opened his mouth and said, “It’s like this. All the other pretend gods want you to die for them, but instead Jesus died for you!” That pretty much stopped the mouths of his detractors." -David Pautsch

To think that 2,000 people attended Jason's viewing. To think that 700 attended his funeral, including the governors of Iowa and Illinois. To think people lined streets with flags and ribbons. To think that, as his herse made its way down the HIGHWAY, yes, the HIGHWAY, people stopped to salute their hometown hero. To think that he's gone... It boggels my mind and seems surreal that people would honor my cousin in this way. It brightens my heart to know the media is broadcasting his story of faith and our family's dependence on God. May many come to know Him through this.

To learn more, please do a web search on "Jason Pautsch"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Extravaganza!

Whew! This weekend was busy! So much happened, but let me narrow it down to one event: church. This weekend's schedule included five church services at three different churches. As my dad says, "Now we don't have to go until Christmas!"

Service 1: Good Friday at my local Lutheran church
A very traditional, liturgical service complete with extinguishing candles and the sanctuary going dark at the end. It sent a shiver up my spine and I have never felt more "scared" at church before. No, they did not slam the book shut.

Service 2: Volunteering in the kids ministry at my church
Always fun, we had about 60 kids when we usually have around 20.

Service 3: Saturday night Easter service at my church
This was their first time there. They liked it. My church focuses on a few things and does them over-the-top well. My mom commented, "This is the Disney World of churches."

Service 4: My parent's local Lutheran church
After Disney church, we decided we missed the traditional, so woke up for 6am service at their local Lutheran church. A youth lead service, it was liturgical and contemporary. Communion was served. They can fit a lot of people all around their stage for communion. By the third round (our turn) we notice communion wafers (which our friends fondly call "Christ chex") litering the floor. The air-light wafers were flying off the plate as the priests and vicar hurridly served the sacrament. We tried not to laugh.

Service 5: My parent's church
Off to my paren'ts church for a different kind of liturgy. They do the same thing every year and my mom and I predicted it to a T. Say "He is risen!" (though he might have said "He is reason") which is answered by cheering and clapping. The pastor always says, "We celebrate Easter every day!". And Kirk Franklin's "Hero" is sung. Ah, Easter.

Off to our friends for dinner and the Easter weekend is over.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Vulnerable God

I often like to think of God as strong and in control, but a service I went to tonight helped me think about God in another aspect, the aspect of a vulnerable and rejected God. As we anticipate Easter, I see God in this new light. Like a high school boy asking out a girl he likes, the perfect God thoughtfully says "I love you" to us desperately flawed human beings, giving up His control and risking rejection (one of the worst feelings). He knows people will reject Him and yet, He loves us so much and knows that we need His love. He choses to share His perfect love with such fallen humans.

Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet, touching the dirt they had picked up from where they had been. Jesus is not afraid of where they've been. He humbles Himself, touches their dirty lives, and offers His perfect love. When I hear this footwashing story being told, it is often followed with comments such as "Be like Jesus" or "Be a servant like Jesus" and we are encouraged to picture ourselves as the one washing feet. But we need to remember that our feet too need washed and Jesus has offered to wash them. Our part is simply to accept His love. Simple, right? I find this hard. It is easy for me to admit I'm not perfect. It is easy for me to admit there is a hole in my heart. But it is hard for me to accept that a perfect, flawless God loves me so much He has risked rejection to love me. It is hard for me to sit and let Him wash my dirty, stinky feet. I'm overwhelmed by all the love God gives me when I am so un-deserving, so unlovable.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bethany the Baker

Since winter in Minnesota never seems to end, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at baking. I used to bake a lot in college, but haven't done much since. I figure, since I'm related to thefrugalgirl I might have an ounce of baker in me. So, yesterday I made bagels (with two neighbor children under foot!), friendship bread, and started the mixture for cornbread (my oven was too busy to bake it). I like making bagels. They are good, inexpensive, and relatively easy. There are, however, a lot of steps: broiling, boiling, and baking! Whew! And the cornbread mixture was $3 at the store! Way more than the simple ingredients used to make it. I made noodles from scratch during my time of unemployment, but thought it was a lot of work for the small amount when it is so inexpensive at the store. Well, I have to go put the cornbread in the oven. More baking adventures later!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Horrible Man

I haven't written in a long time. I've had a lot to think about and life has been busy, but here we go:

Recounting a news story he was reading off his iphone, my friend told us about the man who entered an Illinois church, shooting and ultimately killing the pastor ( An eight-year-old at the table muttered, shaking her head, "What a horrible man!" While a few at the table nodded in agreement, I was taken aback. Saturday night I had gone to church with my friend and heard a sermon based on Luke 18:9-14 (I will post it later). This passage is a parable about a pharisee (religious leader) and a tax collector (an unfair traitor) coming to the temple to pray. I came away from the sermon learning that we are all equal, we are all sinners. God saw the religious leader and the unfair traitor on the same level. None is greater than the other. I am no better than the horrible man in Illinois. So, I spoke up, "No, he is not a horrible man. He made a bad decision." The eight year old was surprised, "But why would he do that?" "I'm not sure," I replied, "maybe he was mad or hurt, but he is not horrible. He is no different than us." How easy it is to be like the pharisee: earning God's love. The thing is, God's love can't be earned. It is freely given. God loves us as much as He ever will. He will never love us less. He will not love the Horrible Man less. How radical! We can experience less or more of His love in our lives when we allow it, but His love remains constant....for you....for me....for the Horrible Man. But how do we change our thinking to this radical way of ascribing God's infinite worth to everyone we meet? We see it in the Disciples' question in Luke 17:5 where God talks about radical forgiveness. They simply say, "Lord, increase our faith." It is only when we experience God's radical love and forgiveness in our own lives that we can then project it on to others and see them the way God sees them.

Check it out:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Beautiful Mess

I am constantly agonizing over the never-ending cluttered state of my apartment. It is constantly messy and there is no catching up to it! The other morning, as I sat with my coffee carefully looking over a horrible mess left from movie night the night before, I began to see the mess as beautiful! The scattered blankets (not only on the sofas but also on the floor) reminded me I had too many people over to even fit on my chairs! The popcorn kernels littering my floor so bad it reminded me of the dollar theater reminded me that I have enough money to feed not only my own mouth, but those who came. The glitter strewn about my house reminded me of the fun we had and how comfortable my neighbor kids feel knocking on my door. The pile of dishes reminded me how I can still teach a kid how to make decent cookies. Yes, it was a mess of sticky pop spills, crushed popcorn, cookie crumbs, and glitter crafts but it was beautiful! I would not trade welcoming people into my home for a clean house! Maybe that's why heaven will be so great....people but not messy houses :-)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

If You Must Eat Out...

I like to eat out as much as the next person. Its fun and I often get to eat food I would not otherwise cook for myself. Here are some deals I've found while eating out:

-Applebee's half priced appetizers. Ok, so you have to stay up until 9pm for this one, but its worth it. I usually get a quesadilla for $5. I munch on it a bit at 9pm, but really, how much can you eat at 9pm. It proceeds to feed me for two more meals! A great deal! Cheaper than taco bell, tastes better, and is probably a little healthier.

-Carbone's Saturday special. I'm not sure if all Carbone's have this, but my friend Kari, her daughter Aria, and I went yesterday. For $9.99 you get two "half" hoagies (which are still about 8 inches!), a plate of cheese bread, and a whole pitcher of pop! All for $9.99!!! We ate our fill and still took home boxes. I'll probably get a few more meals out of my "half" hoagie and Kari was planning on feeding the rest of her family that had stayed home off her leftovers. What a deal! Originally we were going to go to Subway. I think we probably would have spent as much and gotten less.

-Credit card kick-backs. This one is only a benefit IF you PAY OFF your cards IN FULL EVERY MONTH! If you can't, then this deal is not for you. My Discover card gives me 1% cash back on everything and 5% on whatever the categories are for the quarter. With that money, you can buy giftcards for a good deal (a $25 card for $20 usually). There are many restaurants you can get. Since I use my credit card for essentials (food), I'm not spending any more than I would so the gift cards I buy with my money back are pretty much FREE!!! My cousin does the same thing with her family when they go on vacation.

And if you must see a movie...

Many of my friends are sad that the beloved "Buck" shut down in Roseville. But have no fear, there is another "Buck". It is a $2 theatre in Maplewood (off of White Bear Avenue and Larpenteur right next to Woodland Hills Church). My friend Kristi and I took two kids to see Wall-E. We got four tickets, a bin of popcorn (with a free refill), and two large pops (with a free refill) for only $16! For that much my friend and I could have barely bought only tickets at the "real" theater! The Dollar theater was way cheaper and way more fun (with popcorn and pop). What a deal!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Being Dizzy

I was hanging out in the lobby of a church with some friends this past week when their darling preschool-aged daughter started running in a circle. Around and around and around she went with enthusiasm and joy. She simply said, "Run!!!", inviting us to join in. So I joined her in her circular treck, carefully "running" the six foot radius circle. I kept myself directly across from her, keeping my eyes on her. As we ran more laps, I noticed I wasn't getting dizzy at all. As long as I kept my eyes on her, everything on the balance end was fine. But the moment I looked anywhere else, even a few glances to her left or right, I would slowly become dizzy. Even if I took a second to see where I was going, I would get dizzy. It reminded me of God. The Bible often talks about life as being a long race to be run with endurance and focus. When we look at God, follow Him, and keep focused on Him, we don't get "dizzy". But as soon as something else draws our attention or we look at the step in front of us out of fear of where He is taking us, we get incredibly "dizzy". Its hard to walk straight or even stand when you are dizzy. So many things vie for our attention. So many seemingly good things can draw us away from God and trusting that He has the best plan: friends, books, activities, etc. Keep focused so you don't get dizzy.

I said to the Lord, 'You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.
-Psalm 16:2 NIV

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Break it almost over, so its time to say goodbye to the family and head back home. :-( Break has been too fun and gone too fast.

Anyways, I was reading my cousin's blog and noticed someone had posted about I checked out the site and it looks really useful (especially if you have an iphone). Quicken is my favorite tool for tracking spending and budgeting, I've been using it for years. looks comparable (but free!). One feature is that you can see your spending compared to the average person in a particular category. That may be helpful, but also may encourage one to spend more. If you check out, let me know what you think. And while you're at it, check out my cousin's blog too...she'll save you a bundle of cash!