Category Archives: Travel

What’s Wrong with a Wish?

One of my favorite musicals is Into the Woods. I saw it for the first time as a sophomore in high school when our music/theatre departments collaborated to bring a very difficult show to our stage.

Mesmerized by the witch in the show from the first rehearsal I snuck into and for multiple performances there as well as over the years following, I have spent most of my adult life believing that the most compelling message of the show had to do with needing to disregard finding fault in our situations and instead pulling together to find solutions.

I recently flew from Minneapolis to Dallas on a Southwest flight on a Saturday. I rarely fly on Saturdays as I find that most of the best deals happen on Tuesdays. This particular fare sale aligned with my desire to be in Texas for specific dates. As I approached the gate area for my mid-morning flight, the gate attendant’s voice announced that the flight was overbooked and that there would be a decent amount of money granted to those willing to change their plans by two hours.

I accepted the offer and jumped on a flight connecting in Chicago rather than Kansas City. This is a risk – the Chicago area can claim many hours of a traveler’s time should the travel occur while Chicago has precipitation. Phrases like “I hope” and “I wish” rattled through my brain – all for nothing because it was sun-sparkling awesome in Chicago that day.

As “I wish” traveled through my mind, it turned into the song from Into the Woods.

In the fifteen minute character-introducing first song of the musical, various characters enter the stage as they sing the same two words: “I wish.” From Cinderella to Little Red Riding Hood to Jack, characters share their desire for life to be different.

Cinderella wishes to go to the festival and dance before the prince.  The baker and his wife wish for a child. Jack and his mother wish to get out of poverty. Little Red Riding Hood just wishes for some bread.

Their wishes are all metaphors. Each lacks satisfaction in his or her current condition and things that a change – the wish – will bring satisfaction.  Without ruining the musical too much (impossible because these words don’t do the musical justice), the point of the show is to realize that satisfaction is found in being happy with what we have and in our relationships – good or bad, family or not – rather than in what we could have.

Side note: if you can see the show on stage, you should spend the money to see it. Even the junior version used by middle schools will be delightful. One of my nephews was recently cast as Cinderella’s prince in a junior version, and I can’t wait to see him in it.  If you do not have this opportunity, Disney does a decent job with the musical in movie form.  And – Meryl Streep plays the witch.  Say it with me, “Cool!”  Seriously.

I write down ideas when they come to me so that I can use them in future blog posts.  My notes from that thought time on the plane included concepts about going after what we want, setting goals, and making our wishes come true.  As I sifted through and deleted various notes from that trip, I realized that even I – the one thinking about the dissatisfaction that the characters in Into the Woods experience once their wishes come true and they return to living life – continue to miss the point.

Yes – goal setting is a great idea. I do not know anyone who can jump on a plane to Europe tomorrow just because they feel like it.  The people I know have to save, sacrifice, and let ideas simmer before they take that trip.  There is nothing wrong with setting goals and having a bucket list.

Where we go wrong is when we think that attaining the goals and achieving the bucket list will bring our soul the complete satisfaction it seeks in finding a joy-filled life in the here and now…the today…the present moment.  I can certainly have an Amazon Wish List as long as I balance that with the truth that I have enough already.  Even if half of my belongings were carried out of my home tomorrow, I would have enough.

It is not about the amount of things left after a bunch of things have left my possession.  My attitude and my willingness to find joy in what I have today determines if I am satisfied regardless of what I have.  My attitude and my willingness to find joy in what is right now determines what I am and who I become.

The final song of Into the Woods catches me off-guard every time I see it.  With a touch of melancholy and a heaping cup of warning, the characters caution the audience about their wishes:

Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free

I think that the serious nature of the song is what surprises me, but I also think I do not want to listen to its warning.  I want to dream, to hope, and to wish.  More than that, I want my wishes to come true.  Sometimes, this can be all consuming: a new job, a new house, a new outfit, and so on.  I can be so wrapped up in wishing that I also do a lot of missing.

If I am off track about human nature and how we wish, I hope that readers will correct my path a bit.

Happy Wednesday, my friends!


Filed under faith, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel

tapping, rocking, and laughing

I smelled him as soon as he passed me on the way to finding a seat on our flight from Spokane to Denver.  It was the combination of the smells that struck me (not just alcohol, not just cigarettes, and not just something sweet that could have been marijuana). It seemed unnecessary for all of the smells to be tied up in one person at one time.

As soon as he sat down one row behind me in the opposite aisle seat, he started to move.

First, it was his legs and feet. Wiggle, wiggle, jiggle, jiggle.  Nervous energy that seemed to have no end.  It started with toes, then moved to his knees, and finally both of his legs were working up a storm.

Next, it was his fingers. Tap….tap…tap, tap, tap.  A rhythm that only he could hear. One that definitely needed to get out of him.  More energy.  Tap…tap…tap…tap, tap, tap…tap, tap…tap.  Try it – each ellipses set is a pause.  It started with one finger, then moved to his whole hand drumming, and ended with both hands -sometimes alternating while at other times combining in rhythm.

Finally, it was his whole body in motion. He rocked, he swayed, and his head turned and bobbed. He seemed to be at his own wedding dance with really loud rhythms that only the exceptionally carefree (or intoxicated, in my experience) enjoy.  The seat could not contain him.

This was all before take off.

A friend of his sat next to him a few minutes later, and he calmed a bit.  However, the rhythms returned.

“Are you high?” his friend asked.  No response.

“Dude, seriously, are you high? Drunk? Both?” his friend asked again. No response.

The movements continued, and the airplane physically moved with him.

We need to pause here for a moment.  This flight, for me, was a return from a serene – almost retreat type – weekend.  I had enjoyed calm, had learned to drink tea, and had slept well.  Having the world around me forced into movement by a young man kind of shocked my system.

When the plane reached cruising altitude, I had figured out how to ignore the constant rhythm behind me.  Somehow the next hour and a half went by without my mind engaging in the potential anger I could have for the young man’s dance party behind me.

As we started to land, the movements intensified.  And then the laughter started.

I had disengaged to this point, but I could not help but eavesdrop. Nonsense, total nonsense, poured from the two young men’s mouths.  This was followed by an amount of laughter that I rarely have witnessed.

“We are so high,” the friend said, and they both broke out in floods of laughter.

I had clearly missed something during the flight.

By the time we landed, the tapping, rocking, and laughter made it impossible to ignore them.  As we all stood awkwardly waiting for the cabin doors to open, I glanced at these two men.  Clearly, they knew each other well, and this was not their first flight in such a state.  They thought they were extremely funny while at the same time it was clear that they knew they were only funny to themselves.

The good news, for the dance party young man, was that his body had calmed.  Perhaps flying caused anxiety for him.  It is quite common.  Perhaps he had too many chemicals at war within him combined with the movement of flying.  Whatever it was, it stopped when he stood up. I was thankful that he had not vomited at some point during the flight.

As I walked off the plane, stating the required “thank you” to the flight attendants as I did, I thought about how many of us stifle the movement we feel inside of us in order to conform to the social norm.  This man had no conforming in him, and it seemed to free him enough to laugh…and laugh…and laugh.  Lucky man, really.

While the social setting does always permit this sort of freedom, I think we sometimes create an additional layer of reserve.  When I do that, and then you do that, we lose our ability to laugh – or cry – or even engage with emotion at all.  A bunch of stiflers with no access to emotions makes for a tough society, and we all suffer when this happens.

This semester, rather than teaching a class at UMary, I am taking an online class from Brené Brown about vulnerability and being authentic. One of my take-aways so far has been that we do not set each other up for engaging in real conversation with one another.

When we are real with one another, we learn to ask much more authentic questions with the intention of  creating a safe space for the other to respond and expand on that response without any personal agenda (including that the interaction be quick) for that conversation.

This young man was real – a bit too real perhaps? – and part of me envied him for being able to let out all of that energy and laughter with 135+ other strangers around him.

As January comes to a close, I want to encourage us all to identify one place where we need to show up, be present, and provide that space for others to be present.  We cannot change and move airplanes overnight, but one small step in the right direction can happen.


Filed under health, Relationships, Travel

#blizzardof2015 is Proof that Snow is a Junior High Girl

I grew up in North Dakota and have spent most of my life in the “winter world” of the United States.

I know SNOW. I know winter storms. I know storm watches, warnings, and waitings.

For me, snow is like that junior high/middle friend that is both exciting and annoying. 

Some people love her, want to play with her, and cannot wait for her to show up. For these people, snow is the life of the party – maybe even the reason for the party. These people will actually travel hundreds of miles in search of the better her so that they can have even more fun in her.  They buy expensive SUVs to hang out with her, and they have great toys to play with her.

Others cannot stand her, hope she never shows up, and wonder why she doesn’t just go away.  Any sign of her coming sends these people running, hiding, and stocking up in hopes that she leaves – or better – just does not show up at all. These people will also travel hundreds of miles – to get away from her – and they leave for several months waiting out her departure.

I have a love/hate relationship with snow.

I love all the fun she brings – skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating; however, I’m not so thrilled about travel bans and shoveling sidewalks.

Four years ago, Minneapolis had an unusual amount of snow over the winter.  Before the first week in December, we could see the writing on the wall, and it was time for this girl to take action.  The huz and I headed out to the outlet malls west of Minneapolis, and I bought my first pair of truly awesome boots as well as a coat that says, “I know snow on a very personal level.”


A month later, the huz and I took a very needed vacation to the Duluth, MN, area, and my then-recent purchases allowed me to enjoy snow like I had never done so before.  That winter, and the winters that have followed, have been less painful because I had done some growing up, had given snow the respect she deserved, and could enjoy the fun of snow because of a great pair of boots and a winter coat.

Being prepared really makes a difference.

Today’s news shows that snow is having a temper tantrum in the Northeast. Although the reports also show that she decided to leave some states out of her blasts of mean (hurricane strength wind, thundersnow, and big dump of lots), many people are preparing to battle #blizzardof2015 as I write this post.

I read a tweet (from @ChrisCuomo) this morning as I prepared for this post: #blizzardof2015 is all about extremes. 6-8 inches in NYC but 18 on LongIsland and full day of snow and wind ahead for millions in New England.

Snow is that crazy friend – she is extreme, and people respond to her extremely.

Some are thrilled that snow has come their way while most are holed up and waiting for someone else to deal with the mess she leaves behind.

In the case of #blizzardof2015, I would rather be on the slopes than in the city.

It seems like it is all about perspective.  I think we can all agree that snow has her good days and her bad days.  Most of the time it has less to do with her than it does with us. When snow gets in the way of basic functions (will that nursing home get the supplies it needs or will the woman in labor get to the hospital?), she is a real pain.

And this is why snow is that junior high friend of ours.

When she is fun, wow – is she ever fun!

But – ruin our day with her extremes…well, then we have to run home and hide from her until she decides to play a bit more nicely with all of us.


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel

Advent, Apologies, and Joy

I have never experienced Advent in the way that I am experiencing it this year.

Each ticking off of the Sundays of Advent brings me another step closer to seeing my children return from their first semester at Baylor University – TOMORROW (God, weather, and roads willing).  To be a little cheesy, this mama bear is ready to have her cubs around for longer that 48 hours.  I am so proud of them, and I feel that we have all adjusted as well as we could have given the apple cart upsetting that we experienced in August.  I look forward to some relaxing times with them in our old stomping grounds of Minneapolis as well as our new home in Bismarck.  The time between Thanksgiving and today has dragged along, but I am sure that the next four weeks will fly by.  *sigh*

Each ticking off of the Sundays of Advent brings me another step closer to the end of our first semester at the University of Mary.  Seriously – wow! We have really changed our ministry focus and have loved every minute with the students here. This unique experience as Protestants in a committed Catholic environment has stretched and grown us in ways that we did not know could happen.  The dialogues that we have had with students and faculty have been amazing.  As I see it, we are here for two purposes: to be in dialogue with brothers and sisters from other denominations and to provide ministry in the Protestant traditions for those students and staff of those traditions.  This is transformational – can you imagine a Protestant university hiring a Catholic priest to minister on that Protestant campus? I am still in shock and so grateful.  I am really digging our new gig.

Advent is a time of reflection as we await the arrival of the Christ child.  In my reflecting, I have realized that sometimes I hit “publish” on my blog posts without thinking it all through.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about this new call on our lives, and I need to share an apology – or maybe just a clarification.  In the post, I wrote about sitting in Mass one Sunday evening and thinking that I am not “here” for the Catholic students sitting around me in the service.  After I hit publish and shared the post on Facebook, one of the Catholic students whom I would count as a dear friend made a comment.  It was not her comment that made me reflect but just the fact that she and I are in fellowship that forced me to re-think my words.  Who am I to limit God’s call on my life?  I am  here to minister to whomever and with whomever God brings into my life. We are here to be the hands and feet of Christ, to love any who comes into our lives, and to share the love of Jesus with whomever will listen.  So – I’m sorry. Deeply sorry.

Two days ago was the Advent Sunday of Joy.  My college English writing students who paid attention enough to know that we do not capitalize words without reason to do so would be upset that I wrote Joy instead of joy; however, it just seems like joy should be capitalized this week.  Maybe I should shout it – JOY (by the way, to those who follow me on Facebook, that lady is still sending me emails in all caps.  Seriously.).

JOY! Yes, this Advent week reminds us of the joy that our souls find because of Christ’s arrival on Earth.  As the song says, “No more let sin and sorrows grow.”  With Christ’s arrival on Earth, all of what was known about God’s kingdom was turned upside down and changed forever. Jesus – Messiah – arrived to save us, free us, bless us, and reign in us.  He came that we could live abundantly.

When we look around us, life abundant seems hard to find some days.  Death, divorce, disease, and discord seem to be winning the fight.  We should probably get off of our computers, log out of Facebook accounts, leave our houses, and go find life.  It is out there waiting for us to live in the same way that we wait in Advent.  And the joy that we seek will rarely be found where we think it will be – fame, career, or wealth.  Instead – in the same unexpected way that Jesus – the King – was found in a humble stable, JOY will likely be found in humble ways of serving others and looking beyond our own wants.

Advent reminds us that we remain in waiting for the second coming of Jesus.  All of the discord that we combat by seeking joy will end when Christ returns and reigns forever as King of King and Lord of Lords.  We will wait…and wait…and wait.  While we wait, we will seek joy through service to God through serving others.

Each year at Advent – this year at Advent – let us remember that Christ came so that we could have life.  As we wait to celebrate Christ’s birth, let us remember that Christ came for a purpose.  As we wait, let us remember that Christ is coming again.  Amen.




Filed under faith, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel

Small Town Kindness

I’m sitting in my breakfast-nook-turned-office of our new home in our new town.  I decided I should take a break from the tasks of my new jobs (yes, jobs – plural) and share with the blog reading world about a little surprise moment that occurred earlier this week.

One of my new jobs is as the dean of students for Crosslake Community High School, a new online high school in Minnesota. The school hired me to problem solve, work with their students to ensure attendance and work completion, and to handle items such as admissions, graduation plans, and guidance counseling. I love the school board’s approach to this new venture as they are very cautious about how to proceed.  With no advertising at all, the program is full.  A learning lab is open five days a week with a licensed teacher supervising and assisting students with their planning and course completion. I am working from my sweet office in my house.

On Tuesday, I decided a quick trip to meet with staff and visit my students would make my life happy. Thankfully, the Minnesota Twins played a winning game that evening as I drove across North Dakota and Minnesota.  On Wednesday, I enjoyed my first “in person” full school day with the staff and students.  Crosslake Community Charter School has a seat-based kindergarten through eighth grade program from which the need for a high school option came.  Little people mix with my high school students in a way that reminded me of PACT Charter School.  The staff and students were so warm and welcoming to me…and they are hardly know me!

I have had some amazing experiences in K-12 education in Minnesota.

After a great day with the staff and students at CCCS, I headed out.  Because of our move, I needed to make a stop at the DMV in Pine River. It’s a long story as to why I was there, but I needed to take care of something…and doing it in person in Minnesota would speed up the process.

I had a hard time finding the right building. The DMV is housed in a building that seems to have multi-purposes. I think they sell watches, antiques, and jewelry there as well. Once I located the right building, I thought the transaction would be quick.  Nope. First there was a problem with the person in front of me…and then there was a problem with me.  The DMV person tried several times to make my credit card work, but it just wouldn’t go through.

Do you have cash or a check?”

No. I never have cash.  Well, not real cash. I often have change that totals a dollar or slightly more or slightly less.  But I rarely have real cash.  And I have a check even less often.  I was about to give up and just drive home without accomplishing my task knowing that I could take care of it through the mail.  But I really wanted to get it done! I was there…and I have a way to pay – just not in a way that was working.  Grr…

What I haven’t told is that there was an older couple in line behind.  They had patiently waited along with me through the issue of the customer in front of me, and they continued to patiently wait through my issue.  We had made small talk, and it turned out they lived near my school.

Could we help you out? I have a check…”

The retired woman got up from the waiting chair and took out her checkbook.  The DMV person shared the amount with her.  And before I could blink, the transaction was over, we had exchanged information, and I had promised to mail a check to pay them back.

As I drove away, I thought back to my hours of similar waiting experiences at the DMVs around the Twin Cities. They have systems that protect your privacy so that no one knows when you are frustrated, overwhelmed, or upset.  Had a similar situation occurred in the Twin Cities, there would have been no opportunity for a kind person to know that I had an issue.  It isn’t that people are nicer in small towns (though, that argument may be made by some).  It is rather, due to the numbers of people, that systems have been made in larger cities to separate us from each other.

In order to return “small town kindness” in larger settings, we have to open our eyes and ears so that we can lend our hand to another. Some may call that nosy – that is not what I am advocating.  Rather, I am urging us to look up from our feet (or our phones) and into the eyes of others around us to see the needs, some small…some great, and to offer our assistance when we can.

It is Friday.

Many of us have some time off in the next couple of days.

In the midst of what we have planned, do we have some margin available to give time to others?  I would love for readers to come back and share ways that they have helped or have been helped over the weekend.

ps: I really love my students – and I think some of them like me!

Some students attended the learning lab on Wednesday. We ate lunch together and had an "end of day" photo together.  It was great!

Some students attended the learning lab on Wednesday when I was at Crosslake Community High School. We ate lunch together and had an “end of day” photo together. It was great!




Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel

“Between Worlds” – a Review and a Reflection

This post comes to you from a restaurant in Dallas Love Field Airport after a whirlwind trip to Baylor University to help my kids settle into their first year at university. This trip culminates a summer of my entire family preparing for this very week in our lives. We have packed our entire house as we prepared to move our children to Texas and the rest of our lives to Bismarck, ND, where God has called my huz to take on a very unique position at the University of Mary. When the boy and I left for the airport on Sunday, we closed the door to our house in Minneapolis for the last time.

Between Worlds by Marilyn Gardner speaks to this time in my life even though I am not moving to another country or from another country. I received this book in the mail a couple of weeks ago and devoured it within days. I honestly could not put it down and dreaded when other things (often very time sensitive and pressing things) got in the way of my reading it. The book is an easy read as it is set up as short essays – many former or reworked blog posts on Marilyn’s wonderful blog ( where she posts almost daily about our need to engage with one another on many levels. The essays are chunked together thematically, so one could choose to read a single essay, an entire section, or the entire book (just over 200 pages) in one sitting.

I have known Marilyn since the days (over a decade ago) when our family lived in Beverly, MA, while the huz attended seminary at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Marilyn and her family served alongside our family in a college ministry at our church, but she also ministered to me in ways that I had no idea I needed. Marilyn has five children – the youngest only a year or two older than my girl. Her oldest babysat for my kiddos, and they loved her. Marilyn taught me that parenting was more than how to do things right – it was about doing things the way the child needed. It was easy to see that through her five children as they spread across various ages, and that was so helpful to me.

Facebook – though often a nemesis – brought Marilyn back into my life a few years ago…and it was Marilyn who encouraged me to start this blog. I read her blog daily, and it was a joy to read her book and see common themes united into chapters. Much of the book focuses on experiences based on her life as a third culture kid due to her family serving on the mission field in Pakistan and then as an adult world traveler; however, the concepts of belonging, home, grief, and identity are universal to all readers. This book is part learning for the reader who desires to learn more about the life of those who serve overseas and part personal soul search.

The beauty of Marilyn’s book is that I feel as though I am sitting on her porch as she talks about difficult struggles that, though different in actual content, sound like some of my struggles. It’s not that we are comparing or trying to one up each other – we are friends talking about our feelings, our circumstances, and our tears. Marilyn is honest about her faith, the hurdles her faith faces, and her commitment to believe in the midst of struggle.

As I have lived this summer in preparation for leaving behind all that I have known and loved for over a decade to start a new, unknown (and, yes, exciting) adventure, I have felt the tension in my life that I often feel in Marilyn’s writing. Joy and sadness as well as excitement and dread have been in constant flux with one another. To admit excitement about the new adventure felt like betrayal to the people I leave behind. To express sadness at the loss of friends in our former location felt like I was being apprehensive of the relationships that already exist and will deepen in the new location. These are the very kinds of emotions that Marilyn explores in her book as she describes experiences such as leaving for boarding school or returning to her passport country from one that had captured her heart.

I posted on Facebook earlier this week that I am spending this week “in between.” I do not know if I would have used that phrase prior to reading Between Worlds, but I am ever so grateful to have it in my vocabulary now. I strongly urge readers of my blog to consider reading Marilyn’s book – alone or with a group (Marilyn has created a wonderful group guide as well!) as I am sure that it will touch your heart as it has mine.

As I drove away from Baylor University today, my heart and mind were seriously between worlds. On one hand, I wanted to turn around, load up the kids, drag them with me, and lock them in a closet so that I did not have to let them go. Doesn’t that sound like love?? On the other hand, my heart swelled with gratitude that they could send me away and turn toward this new and exciting chapter in their lives. I have always wanted them to soar into whatever their future holds for them, and they both believe that Baylor University is where that begins. I cannot and will not stand in the way of that while, at the same time, I will be overjoyed when I see them again (yes, Thanksgiving tickets are purchased…and I may go visit them sooner than that!).

My “between worlds” experience will not end until later this week when I finally sleep in my own bed late on Friday night. Perhaps – now that my children are far away and I recognize that I am someone who flits from place to place on whim as well as on call – this week is just part of a “between worlds” continuum. Perhaps the timing of this book and the way its content has touched me is an awakening…to realize that I may often live between worlds and in the tension as well as the joy of that. Perhaps it is a reminder to be “all in” wherever I am while being open to the “what next.”

Whatever the case may be, I am thankful for fellow travelers who bear their soul and publish their thoughts to remind me that I am not alone. So – thank you, Marilyn, for once again ministering to me when I barely knew that I needed it.

ps: I just wanted to interject for a minute that though this post is being published on Wednesday morning, it was written on Tuesday afternoon.


Filed under faith, Thoughts, Travel

The First College Tour

Yesterday was a huge day in my life as a mom.

We went on our first college tour as a family.

This week is spring break for my kiddos, and we made the long drive to Waco, TX, to visit family and to tour Baylor University.  The drive was a blast, and our trip has been great.

I need to clarify: both of my children will graduate next year.  Because of the strange way that our family has lived out its life, our kiddos are in the same grade even though they are a year apart by age.  While this has many benefits, I can see how the nest emptying out all in one graduation moment could have its difficulties (for me).

My kids growing up has been great, but it has been hard as well.  And this whole “college thing” just makes it even more real. There is nothing like being on a college tour to help you realize that time is flying by.

Step back for a minute….

The girl had visited Baylor University in August when she flew in to visit family.  I could not believe that she had gone on her first college tour without me.  She went with her aunt.  It was heart-breaking.  I’m a guidance counselor. And I’m her mother!

I gulped hard and was happy for her while at the same time I hurt for me.  She was so proud, as we took the tour yesterday, to tell us how much she already knew.

Letting her do the tour without me was just one of many huge steps to come.

And our tour yesterday was another example of a huge step.  I trailed behind the tour guide, did not ask a ton of questions, and was not “that parent” on the tour.  I am quite sure that the boy was happy about this as he thinks I am “that parent” on just about every occasion possible.

As I rode the tour bus, it dawned on me that there is no turning back.  They are in the midst of deciding the next step in their lives, and – though I can say what I want – the decision really must be theirs.

And this step will determine the course of their lives.

It is a big deal.

And I felt that big deal most of yesterday.  I felt it all…

I realize that this is something that I have to get used to feeling – a loss that isn’t a loss yet, a future on its way, and a whole new stage of parenting.  The way I parent today prepares them for this future, but I have to accept that the new stage is on its way and will change how we interact with each other in the next few years.

Yesterday was just part of the continuum, and it is all going fast.

Too fast.

In my mind, I can still see the cute little people who stood – in their cute little uniforms – in front of our flat’s door in  Edinburgh, Scotland, on their first day of school in 2001.

And yesterday they walked across the Baylor University campus as if they were ready to stay and participate.

What made yesterday so awesome?

  1. The kids had prepared by looking at the website a lot.
  2. The kids had looked at several other university and college websites so that they were able to make comparisons.
  3. We knew people in the area and at the school.
  4. The school gave the kids free t-shirts (you think I’m kidding? I’m not!).
  5. I tried to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation (note: tried).

I will spend the next eighteen months trying to let them lead rather than to take control of the situation….and that started yesterday…

If you have a junior in high school, how are you doing? If you have kiddos who have graduated, what was the most helpful in the college search?  What has been the hardest thing about your kids growing up?


Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Travel

We are Like the Weather

Blogger’s note: I started this post several weeks ago and am back to it because this week has been much like that day…and I had the same thoughts but had not completed the post then.  I hope you enjoy the two days’ thoughts combined into one post.

As I drove to court this morning in Duluth, MN, I listened to the news which included the weather.  I did not need them to tell me that it was cold; that was quite clear to me as I sat in my car which was not quite warmed up.  As they shared the forecast for the weekend and beyond, a thought occurred to me.

The weather always changes.

As I sat outside the courtroom (waiting is the best part of a court day), I scrolled through the Facebook posts since last night when I went to bed.  I learned about my friend who is sick at home today, read some blog posts by people who are actually on top of their blogging efforts, and felt with my friend who struggles with depression and anxiety as he lamented his current mental state.

My response to him: Weather teaches us that things do not stay the same. Ever. The same is true with our own psyche.

As Minnesota opens its arms to welcome March, April, and May after a rather frigid winter, we are reminded that things rarely stay the same for long.  Three months seems like a pretty long time when we are in the middle of it, but in the grand scheme of things that is just not true.

Seasons in our psyche are very similar to weather and often even follow the weather patterns themselves.

This is where I left off and am going to continue on from here…


I took this picture yesterday evening as I brainstormed about this post.  Most of us had thought winter was over.  In fact, today is the first day of spring.  Apparently, someone did not notify the weather or the state of Minnesota that it should show off its greenery and stop with the snow.  After it snowed overnight Sunday and continued into Monday, many of us clamored through a horrible commute to work.  Schools to our west closed as blizzard conditions raged.

And today is the first day of spring?

Seasons in our psyche can do the same thing, right?

Just when we think some dark time in our lives has been cleared out for good, it comes raging back at us like a March blizzard in Minnesota (or North Dakota…or South Dakota, for that matter).  We know in our hearts that the dark time should be gone. We have dealt with it, prayed it away, and have experienced forgiveness. And then something brings it back – a low front from the Rockies with a comma effect snow.

But – like my (real weather) blizzard on Monday – the dark time can be dispelled by a little sunlight.  Following the low front of a weather system comes a high – bringing sunshine and warmth (although someone forgot to notify the weather of that as well – sunshine all day yesterday did not bring much warmth).

And what better light than the truth that God loves us?

I do not mean this is the “cheer up, pal, God loves you and everything will be alright” or “let the sunshine in; face it with a grin; smilers always win; and frowners never win” kind of rose-colored glasses sense.  It is simply truth.

God loves us; that is light in our lives.

With Easter right around the corner, it is time for us to start to focus on re-birth – our re-birth. For though we were sinners and lost to that, but – because of what Christ did on the cross – we are freed from the guilt of our sins and have the right to be called children of God – heirs to heaven…and with the ability to have the gift of heaven here on Earth.

This is truth…regardless of today’s weather or circumstance.  Whatever I experience inside my mind or outside in my day, the truth is truth.

Let’s hold to that today.

What is your experience with the weather inside of you?

Leave a comment

Filed under faith, health, Thoughts, Travel

Feeling Important at Target

As I walked through the frozen food section of my local Target store last week, I felt very important.  In order to save energy, the freezer lights are off when no one is around.  When someone walks up to or by a freezer, the lights come on.


I had no business in the freezer section.  I was merely walking from one end of the store to another by way of the row of freezers.  However, the freezer lights do not discriminate, and each light turned on as I walked by.  I noticed this, and – though I know it seems odd – I felt important.

Sometimes I feel a bit ignored.

I do not think that I suffer from feeling ignored, but I feel it nonetheless. I have noticed that life’s patterns put us into a course of rhythm, and sometimes those patterns change and we do not like the new rhythms.  For example, when my children were young, I was the center of their universe.  Now they (rightfully so) feel as though others their age or even (the horror!) other adults should have some of their time.

Sometimes I feel unseen.

We have all been there (I think anyway).  The crowded room with people we hardly know or even people we do know.  We look around and see everyone talking to everyone else.  And we wonder, “Where do I fit in?”  Breaking into an already existing conversation can be hard.  I would rather run away.  Sometimes someone pulls us into the conversation, but often we have to be the ones to reach out.  This is hard.

Sometimes I just feel unimportant.

All of these are feelings. They might not even be reality.  In fact, what I feel as others ignoring me could just as easily be seen by them as me ignoring them.

At times like this, I need to remember truth.

I am not the center of everyone else’s universe, and rightly so.  But – God sees me and care about me as an individual.

I may not have something to say that others want to hear, but God is willing to hear anything I have to say and hopes that I would listen in return.

I am not all that important.  But I am.

In other words, God could do anything He desires without me. At the same time, I am part of His plan to impact the lives of others.  When I do not feel important, I need to look to Him to find my importance.

And that is where the rubber hits the road for me.  When I think I need to feel important usually is exactly when I should be remembering that I am not but that God is.  I need to see my importance as coming from what He desires to do through me rather than what I can do because I’m just that great.

What do you think about this?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.


Filed under faith, Travel

A Library Find: “The Disappearing Spoon”

spoonThose who follow this blog (thank you for sticking it out, by the way) know that I travel often for my job and love to listen to books on CD to keep me company.  An 11 disc book is just about the right length for many of my trips, and The Disappearing Spoon has not disappointed me.

I rarely go to the library with a specific book in mind. In fact, I have found that I rarely enjoy those that I seek out specifically.  Instead, my library seeking goes something like this…


Go to the library.

Return books that I have finished or have chosen not to read.

Go to the row of books on CD.

Look through the usual fiction authors that I love such as Mary Higgins Clark to see if anything new has appeared.

Side note: I took a road trip from North Dakota to Rhode Island during the summer after my sophomore year in college.  A friend lent me several Mary Higgins Clark books on tape (no CD player in my car “back” then).  They are the perfect companion except very late at night as one crosses the state of Pennsylvania. As the dew-infested fog takes over the early morning (and one has had little sleep), they are pretty scary.

Back to the bookshelves.

If no fiction books pop out, I then go to the non-fiction to see if there is something “fun” that I could learn. 

Side note: Malcolm Gladwell is always a great find, but I have now read almost all of his books.  I think that I still need to read Blink.  Ok (as the huz likes to point out) – I have not read the books.  I have listened to them.

Non-fiction is a huge genre, and one cannot tell what one will find in this part of the shelves.  Last week, as I chose books for my trek north earlier this week (yes – in the slowest moving Minnesota snow storm of the season), The Disappearing Spoon stood out as a possibility.

I have decided that the trick to sucking in readers for these books is to have a great title along with a descriptive back cover. 

True here.

The Disappearing Spoon is a book for smart people (or people who want to be smart – that’s me)…at the very least, one needs to have an understanding of the fact that the periodic table exists.  It delves into the history and the science behind the creation of the periodic table, but more than that – it covers some of the mysteries and scandals that came out of its development.

While I have not had a chemistry class since college, the book was accessible enough to me (I brushed some cobwebs from parts of my brain that had stored information form “Chemistry for Non-Chemistry Majors”).  This means that most people could probably glean something from the book.

Side note: I took the above-mentioned chemistry class in the last semester of my senior year in college.  It was the same year that I missed several days due to having our first child. I would not have made it through that class without the help of my friend Heidi who tutored me for hours.

Another side note: the entire point of generals in college is to help us discover what we might want to do when we grow up (as well as to develop well-rounded citizens).  Allowing me to take the chemistry class at the end of my college career was a huge disservice to me.  What if I was actually a budding chemist who might have won a Nobel Prize some day?  All of that is lost now…hopes dashed against the wall of poor scheduling.

It is unreal how many rabbit trails I have taken in this post!

I have not finished the book (I have disc remaining), but I have heard the information which drew me to the book: why lithium works to stabilize bipolar illness.  I listened intently to the first 8 discs just sure that – at any moment – the author would delve into the chemistry behind the psychological illness whose tendencies live (and sometimes rage) inside of me.

The opening of disc 9 dove right into what I wanted to hear, and I feel that – like no other time – I finally understand bipolar tendencies.  The author stated that sunlight stimulates proteins to attach to DNA in our brains.  This attachment creates our awake state.  Darkness at the end of the day causes the proteins to fall off, and we need to sleep.   

The proteins hang on to the DNA in the brains of people with bipolar illness; thus, the continued awake state – or mania.  Eventually the body and mind have had enough, and the depressive side comes in.

Lithium breaks the bonds between the proteins and the DNA.  During the day, sunlight helps to keep the bonds together, but – once darkness comes – the lithium wins out. This resets the circadian rhythm and essentially balances out the person’s awake and sleep cycle.

So cool!

That is what I am reading…what about you?  What are you reading?  What is the coolest thing you have learned lately?

PS: If you want to know why the book is named The Disappearing

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, health, Thoughts, Travel