Tag Archives: family

Serendipity and Sock Subscriptions

A year ago, Facebook clued me in to the coolest idea: a sock subscription.  Someone shared with someone who is my friend that a company called Foot Cardigan existed.  Their idea is simple and super cool: sign up for a subscription (3, 6, 9, 12 months – you choose) and get a random, cool pair of socks in the mail once a month.  It turns out that I know someone who knows someone who started the company.  So cool – I love when that happens.  Because of the connection and the absolutely cool idea, I decided I wanted a subscription.  I shared the cool idea with the huz one evening – I kind of get excited about cool things – and he listened intently (and might have laughed at me because of how excited I was about a sock subscription).

There was some kind of gift-giving event (Valentine’s Day, maybe) in the near future, and he decided he should get me a subscription.

Shortly after our conversation, the huz gave me a print-out showing that he had purchased a sock subscription for me.  I feel so awful even to this day that my first reaction was to correct him: he had purchased a subscription from Sockgrams.  I should have reacted in gratitude, but it was from the wrong company!  Knowing what I wanted (a sock subscription) but not entirely sure of the name, he had done a search and found a discount code for Sockgrams.  Because of the discount code, he was able to get me a full year (or maybe 13 months) of socks.

Story pause: My man knows that I love a good deal and saving money a lot, so it makes total sense that this happened.  He is a good one.

I was thrilled about a sock subscription, but I still wanted one from Foot Cardigan.  When I get something in my head, it is hard to get it to leave unless I deal with it.  So – I dealt with it a few days later by using some gift money to buy myself three months of Foot Cardigan socks.

Because I have had sock subscriptions from both companies, I thought that I would be in a good position to review the two and compare them on my blog.  The problem is that the two companies really are different (I know, it’s counter-intuitive!). I had even tweeted about this difficulty a while back: “@footcardigan vs @sockgrams – so hard to decide.”  Foot Cardigan responded with a tweet: “How can we help you decide?”

I honestly couldn’t reply to them.  And here is why: the two companies have their place in our society.  They appear to be the same in many respects, but they are very, very different in reality.  And here is the rub: they are both exactly who they say are which makes them attractive in so many ways.

whippersnappersFoot Cardigan is run by four witty guys who share their wit on their website. Imagine Jimmy Fallon  selling sock subscriptions – you laugh, you cry, and you buy…and you feel good dropping $9-$13 (shipping and gift-wrap – if desired – are extra) per pair of socks because they are that cool.  Inventory is limited to the monthly subscriptions and one other option.  Whether good or bad, that is who they are, and they will stay that way.  Cool note: if you get an awesome pair of socks (like I did in my April 2014 package) and want a second pair for a friend because the socks remind you of her (it’s true), they will let you order a second pair if they still have them in stock. This is a fun company. Period. And they have great customer service.  Oh – and their latest thing is a subscription for children called “Whippersnappers.”  I participated in the Kickstarter campaign for this so that my college daughter could get some socks in her size.  She loved them.

Serendipity (noun): an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. (dictionary.com)

sockgramI discovered Sockgrams through their subscription services, but that is not what makes them awesome.  Even though the economy is recovering, few of us have the cash to spend for subscription services every time we would like to thank someone or just let them know we thought of them.  This is where Sockgrams has the right idea. Sockgrams has an amazing website with hundreds of unique sock choices as well as bags, hats, mittens, and spa “stuff.” Every purchase has awesome packaging – check out this video.  Every single sockgram that I have received had this carefully created look.  Every month, I received a coupon so that I could send someone else some happiness (you get a free card that you can customize!).  A subscription is a gateway drug. Their website is like a gift givers’ candy store.  PS: There is a coupon code available on their Facebook page through February 14. Hint. Hint.

As I drove late in the afternoon/early evening yesterday, my cell phone showed that I had an incoming call from Wisconsin.

Story pause: last week,  I had a scammer call me over 30 times from Florida after I told him to leave me alone. I eventually had to have the number blocked by Sprint.  This makes me hesitant to answer calls from unknown numbers.

I know people in Wisconsin, so I figured it must have been someone I knew.  When I answered, though, it was someone from Sockgrams!  In the past week, I have ordered socks for five different people. Earlier in the day, I had shared on the Sockgrams’ Facebook page how happy everyone was with their socks.  The caller relayed to me that, from time to time, they reach out to their customers. We had a lovely conversation that led me to sharing about how I had found their company by accident.  When we finished the call, I knew that I needed to do this blog post.

I love socks, and I love to give gifts.  There are great options out there, and socks are a great and inexpensive way to let people know we thought of them.  Each of the five people who received socks from me this week had earned a big “thank you” from me.  Surprise socks in the mail communicated my gratitude to them in a way that I could afford.

boyOne last plug for a different company: Out of Print Clothing won my heart last week. I had purchased awesome socks on a whim for my college son as a “welcome to second semester” gift to greet him at his college mailbox after Christmas break.  My son loves books, and Out of Print had a great special (right before Christmas) on socks with banned books listed on them.  The original order was lost in the mail, and Out of Print quickly sent out a second pair.  A day after the second pair arrived, the original pair did as well.  When I offered to pair for the second pair, I was told to enjoy them both.  My boy loves them…both.

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Reflections on 2014

As I look back on 2014, I realize that God is always up to something.

A year ago today, my family was in Austria. As a send off to the kids during their graduation year, we had booked a crazy Christmas and New Year’s trip to Rome, Venice, Munich, and Vienna. The locations were chosen based on what we each wanted to experience if we were only able to go to Europe once.  Let me just say that every location was a great choice, and we had great seats for most of it.

As others are thinking about changes and resolutions, I have no time for that. I have had my share of changes for a while and look forward to some stability in 2015.  So – as I think back on 2014 and look into 2015, I thought I would share the top things that I learned this year.  I hope that they resonate with you and encourage you in some way.

One: Transition is a good teacher. Although I have experienced a lot of transition in my life, I have not experienced so many transitions all at once like I did in 2014.  I had three different jobs, lived in two different houses, watched my kids graduate from high school and then leave for college, and experienced a huge shift in the huz’s ministry.  When I thought that my brain might explode from keeping all of the details together in August, I took deep breaths, thanked God for His sustaining grace, and woke up each day ready to conquer it.  I learned so much about myself, my parenting, and my marriage.

Two: I love my family.  The four of us book-ended 2014 with time together as just the four of us. This was slightly intentional but also just happened. It’s hard to spend time with others when you fly off to Europe!  Although we love our extended families on both sides, we also love time as just the four of us.  We like the same games, the same television shows, and the same food. We finish each other’s sentences, laugh at ourselves (and each other), and work hard as a unit when necessary.  I am very aware that these times may be fewer in the coming years, so I am holding on to 2014 with a firm grip.

Three: Empty-nesting does not ruin your life. Several friends who have gone through this stage in front of me told me that I would be just fine, and I believed them…but I still doubted and mourned as well.  Once I returned from my trip to see the kids in October, I knew they were really fine at Baylor University. And shortly after that, I realized that I was not only surviving but thriving.  While I looked forward to their return for break with great anticipation, I am not crying as I realize that they leave again in just over a week.  They have their lives to live; we have our lives to live.  When all of the lives intersect, we are super happy.  But I refuse to stop living during the times in between.

Four: God is good. I could re-count some of the thoughts that I have shared over the past few months on the blog, but I won’t.  To summarize: God is good all the time.  He turns my mourning into dancing. He leads me beside still waters.  And He restores my soul.  Without God’s action in my life and the hope that comes with knowing He desires for me to live abundantly, I would not know where to begin.  In the dark times of doubt and chaos, I know He is there.  And He brings me clear reassurance to show me that I am in His will right now.  That is amazing.

I have no idea what 2015 will bring. I have some guesses; however, based on 2014 and its life-changing events, I think I might be willing to say that I cannot control 2015 with any certainty.  The one thing that I do know is that I cannot go wrong if I look to God as my guide for what to do and how to do it.

As we ring in 2015, let us all remember to be still for a moment and acknowledge God’s goodness to us – whether in the small things or in the big things.

 

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Madness, Selection Sunday, and Jesus

Today is a big day in this little social experiment I have going on with the hoopla of March Madness 2014.  I am pretty much “all-in” when it comes to thinking about this.

Every time I have been in a restaurant this week (which has been more often than usual due to a pretty hectic schedule), I have paid more than usual attention to the televised last rounds of various conference games.  In addition, I have followed a bunch of more sportsy-types on Twitter…and have actually paid a bit of attention to the Twitter feed.

And I started to care about March Madness hopefuls that are connected to my life – Baylor and the University of North Dakota.  When the women’s teams won their championship conference games, I cheered (not too loudly because we wouldn’t want to be “outed” as a sports-concerned citizen).  And when the men’s teams both lost their championship games last night, I wondered how this would impact my bracket selections this coming week…and if they would even make it past the Selection Sunday cut.

Oh, the madness!

The madness continues today with “Selection Sunday” – the day when the mad teams are announced.  I just Googled information and found out that the announcement is tonight – phew, didn’t miss it yet!

How does this work? Good question…and I did not know the answer, so I figured maybe some readers did not either.  So here – I will enlighten you.

  • 32 teams get in because they are champions of their conference (think Big12 [Baylor], BigSky [University of North Dakota], etc.)
  • The remaining teams are chosen by committees (one for women/one for men) who engage in bidding, drafting, and other sports terms that essentially sounds like voting to this girl
  • The whole process takes nearly a week and culminates in Selection Sunday – today

Most bracketing “games” require that you submit your brackets by midnight on Wednesday, so you all know where I will be on Wednesday night!

Stacy’s bracket update: I have opted out of the Warren Buffet bracket (this seems like a big ploy by Quicken to get information about us so that they can contact us) but have chosen to add a bracket that is not a competition rather another experiment – round by round.  It seems like a fun idea to get to choose the winners in this way.  So – I only have to choose winners of games for the first round right now.  Once those games end, I will have to choose winners of the the second round games. And so on…sounds fun to me.

Five brackets in total is the number on which I have landed.

As Kerry and I left a birthday party for a friend last night, I told him that I wanted to write about Selection Sunday today but turn the thought on its head a bit.  All of this earning one’s way into the madness had me thinking on a Saturday night in lent about how glad I am that we do not earn our way into heaven.

Kerry had shared the big idea of today’s sermon with a friend attending the birthday party, and I had overhead him…while glancing at the television showing yet another conference championship game.

And I wondered what Selection Sunday would look like if we applied it to our faith lives.

Every now and then, I want to apply Selection Sunday techniques to my walk with the Lord.  When I lose “a championship battle” in my life, I want to be able to convince God that I am still worthy of His love – ask him to look at my season overall rather than at just that one game.  Or – when I win some battle in my life, I want to jump up and down and cheer at my accomplishments…and I often forget to acknowledge my coach.

But I am pretty sure if our lives were in the hands of a selection committee, we would all be surprised at the outcome of the bidding, the drafting, and the voting.  If they analyzed the tape of our lives like they do the tapes of games, they would find the flaws that most of us only hide in our hearts…and few of us would make the cut into the madness itself.

And then remember – only one team is champion of this whole thing…if we applied the March Madness model, few of us would get to heaven…and the process to get there would be difficult with lots of work to get there.

Instead, God has made done the work for us…He has created the rules, has played the games, and has sent in His champion in our place. We could not even make the cut to get onto the team an play…so He set up His own bracket system. 

And He shocked us all.  Thank you, Lord, for Jesus.

PS: one of the shocking finds in my March Madness research was to discover that Christianity Today has one of the most comprehensive and understandable explanations of March Madness.  When a co-worker and I were having a little giggle about this on a break this past week, I said ,”Well, Baylor claims that its aim is excellence because Jesus cares about excellence.”  It makes sense, really.  Sic’em, Bears!

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It Really is Madness!

Those readers who know me personally know that a big event is coming up in my family’s world – both of my babes graduate from high school in June.

Though nothing could have prepared me for the feelings I have experienced over the past twelve months as we have visited Baylor University, applied to Baylor University, and bend accepted to Baylor University, I have enjoyed walking this “last year” road with them.

From time to time, my Facebook pasts have revealed how my insides churn with fear, sadness, and maybe even a twinge of guilt for the time I have squandered over the past seventeen or eighteen years. To balance that, though, there have been the “proud mom” posts as well as the adorable daily photos that they were taking for me.

Being the mom of two high school seniors is madness!

And because madness is a theme in March…and because Baylor will likely have a team in the March Madness world…and because I like to be in the know about sports and other social conventions, I decided that this would be the year to investigate this March Madness bracket world.

I have done a little investigating into these terms and processes, so I am now an expert because I used the internet – Google and Wikipedia – of course, my Facebook network, and – most importantly – Tony Mueller as my sources to develop “Stacy’s Guide to March Madness.”

Important things we should all know:
-64 teams start out
-single elimination takes it down by half in each round
-Sweet 16=remaining 16 teams
-Elite 8=remaining 8 teams
-Final 4=I bet you can guess what that means!
-National Championship: one team is a winner, and the other is shamed.

Brackets: there are lots of ways to get into a bracket competition. It is best to find someone who knows what they are doing to lead this, but just about anyone can join in.

My bracket involvement is going to be through Paladin Sports, a youth sports nonprofit for underprivileged youth in Arizona. I have an interview scheduled with a representative from there and plan to write a post entirely about them!

The important thing to know is that you should sign up no later than 3/15 because 3/16 (aka Selection Sunday) is when brackets become available. The Paladin Sports bracketing is through CBS, and it seems like “they” do all of the work of tallying points for you. So – pick your teams and then engage as little or as much as you would like to do.

I want to give a huge shout out to a few supportive people:
1. The huz – for having the best bracket selection technique suggestion
2. The babes – for mocking me a bit in all of this
3. Tony Mueller – for laughing at me in a way that did not make me feel dumb while he shared his important knowledge
4. Baylor University – for accepting my kids and having an awesome mascot… Sic’em, Bears!
5. My dad Rick – for raising me with a working knowledge of most sports
6. Paladin Sports – for providing a bracket option that supports a good cause…it makes this all so much more fun!

Because the Paladin Sports bracket stuff is a fundraiser, I bought three brackets. Why not? I plan to employ three different methods (none of which, by the way, were those suggested by my Facebook friends). Once bracket selection stuff (like that technical term?) is over, I will share my methods.

Stay tuned…so much more madness to come!

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Hymns, Harmonies, and Holes in Our Hearts

I just awoke from a mini-dream at the end of my sleep cycle.  I have these after I have been awake once in the morning but have chosen to try to squeeze in a bit more sleep.  The dream was literally a small scene, but  the thoughts that followed upon my waking led me to believe that I was meant to get up and write this post.

The dream was a quick conversation with my younger brother (also a Sioux hockey fan for those who care) who is married with two young boys. The conversation occurred on the phone as if I had just called him this morning. I do not know what we had been talking about on the phone, but it was clear that we had been having a lengthy conversation. 

The dream included his one phrase at what appeared to be the end of the conversation. 

He said, “I can’t really think about any of that today  You know it’s mom’s birthday, right?”

And then I woke up.

Today would be my mom’s 64th birthday.  I have written in the past about her birthday and do not want to go on and on too long (I do have to leave for Sunday School in about an hour, and I have not showered yet); however, blogging on her birthday seems to help me experience it. 

It also seems that when I wake up with something to blog about (today is the second time this has happened in week – muse is back?), I must blog about it in order to get that blog out of my head.

And – I have now realized that there are oodles of us out there…grievers, that is…and blog posts that recognize our grief tend to help us grieve.  And we need help!  We can read all of the books in the world on the topic, but nothing helps us grieve better than a shared experience…someone else’s grief that touches us a little bit and allows us to grieve our loved ones (and have a little cry even) through the grief of the loss of another’s loved one.

But I digress…as usual…

The fact that mom’s birthday falls on a Sunday this week catches me off guard a bit.

Through some strange twist of cosmic comedy, I agreed to co-teach a Sunday School class at our church during the winter/spring…which, by the way, is exactly what March in Minnesota should be called on the “season chart” – winter/spring (it really can’t decided).

The focus is on hymns – why we love them as they are written, what is the good theology in them, and how we might write our own hymn (minus the music in most of our cases!).

Although I do not know if the Doxology was one of my mom’s favorite hymns, it was probably the one that she knew the best.  As a Presbyterian for most of her life, she sang the Doxology during nearly every service as the offering was brought forward after the collection in order to offer it to God through prayer.

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Though simple in its words, the hymn’s theology dives deep into what I believe about who God is: He is God in three persons and worthy of my praise because all blessings flow from His good graces despite that I deserve His wrath due to my sinful nature.

As a child and teenager, I often stood between my mom and her mom on Sunday mornings as we sang this song – three generations in three part harmony in the midst of a larger congregation.  It is a photograph in my mind’s eye that reminds me that my faith has a heritage and is part of a larger community of believers within the church and throughout the world.

That mind picture – and the song itself – also reminds me of the holes in my heart carved out by grief and loss. 

When my mom passed away in June 2003, I was amazed at how well my grandmother – her mom – dealt with it.  Though I am sure she had her share of tears in private, she was strong in the midst of it….at least that is how I remember it.  She kept going to work every day, going to the senior center to play Bingo and cards with her friends, and watching the Twins on TV. 

At one point, she did say that a mother should not outlive her children. 

That is a good observation, Grammy-cakes!

When my daughter and I would visit Grand Forks together, we would often take Gram to her church.  We would stand together – three generations again – and sing harmonies together.  I am quite sure that mom would have added her fourth part along with us had she been alive, and it would have been fun…if not amazing.

As time goes on, death – that unwelcome visitor – finds each of us…at our own doorstep or at our hearts because he stands at the doorsteps of others.  He found my gram at the end of May last year, and I added another hole in my heart.

She would have been 90 in February, and I noted her birthday with a wee nod in my mind.

I have thought of her quite a bit more now that the Twins are in spring training…

And so we mourn, grieve, cry, and scream because things are not as they should be.  We hide ourselves away from the world or go on but stuff it all away or just wonder if things will ever be the same (they will not be) or right again (I am not even sure what that means…).

We even wonder if God cares – how could He if He allows these things to happen?

The answer is that God cares very much. 

We are reminded of that in this Lenten season as well as at other times of the year.  God cares, sees, and cries with us.  He promises that we do not mourn without hope.  And – like the community that God Himself has in the trinity – He created us to be in community…to experience love, hope, joy, and even loss in community with one another.

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He is, indeed, worthy of our praise.

Other posts about mourning that might interest you:

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Super Bowl Mom

Of all of the people involved in the Super Bowl yesterday, the one that I would have enjoyed being near the most would have been Mrs. Harbaugh – the mother of both teams’ coaches.  Anyone who watched the game last night already knows that the family drama involved in the game itself, so I will not re-hash that.  Anyone who did not watch the game would not care.

But – care about this!

While football may not be everyone’s thing, caring about the future generations should be.  After hearing and reading about the Harbaughs, their attitude toward the game, and their forward thinking about which son should be their focus after the game, I am so impressed.  Good parenting more often than not leads to good outcomes. 

If the Harbaugh brothers would take the developmental asset inventory from Search Institute, I am guessing that they would score pretty high.  If the Harbaugh family would take the family asset inventory from Search Institute, I am guessing that they would score pretty high.

It does not take a family having loads of money to give their kids an edge.

Families need to invest in their kids, bring other caring adults in to encourage their kids, and provide an environment of high expectations with lots of support.  Failures needs to be seen as opportunities to improve.  And mistakes need to be corrected.  All of this needs to be done in ways that empower children and teens to be better than what they think they can be while helping them to see reality.

As I watched the game last night, I commented that I want to be an NFL kicker.

That is not realistic!  I am nearly 39 years old, a woman, not quite five feet tall, and about as un-athletic as they come.  This dream needs to be tempered with reality.  However, had I wanted to do something big and dreamy like that, I am sure that my parents would have cleared the path for me by making me play football with the boys, making me play soccer, and the like.

The Harbaugh parents did something to clear the path for their boys and have stayed with them as supporters all the way to the Super Bowl.

It is clear by the reports of how Jim and John interacted with each other and what their parents did after the Super Bowl ended (consoling the losing coach rather than living in the glory with the winning one) that this family is filled with assets.

The Search Institute’s asset-building approach easily works with just about any parenting style and belief system.  When I see the results of asset-building parenting live in the midst of a football game, I get a bit giddy.  Whether we are parents or those “other caring adults” in a child’s life, we have a huge impact.

Who in your life helped you to get to where you are today? What did that person do?

What are we doing today to help them realize their dreams and go to the Super Bowl?

And who knows, maybe someday someone will teach me how to kick for a field goal!

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What Church Means to Me

It is election time, and the word “church” seems to get tossed around, misused, and twisted to the point that I no longer recognize what those who are saying “church” mean.  It is election time, and people use the word “church” to add some kind of authority to what they are saying to the point that I no longer recognize what authority those who are saying “church” mean.

Church is not a term that I use lightly.

I do not often mention in a post the fact that I go to church.  I do not often mention in a post the fact that call myself a Christian because I believe in the saving power of Christ and grace that God extends to all because of His death.  Nor do I not often mention in a post itself that the fact that I a pastor’s wife.

I do not mention these things because so many seem to use these for political gain.

But being a Christian (a Christ-follower) is at the heart of who I am.  It defines me in ways that I want to be defined even when I fall short of the perfection of the One whom I follow.  To identify myself with Christ brings clarity to my life.  I do not have to struggle with the questions of “who am I?” or “why am I here?” because being a Christian simply answers those questions as struggle with applying the answers.

Going to church allows me to be challenged by others who identify themselves this way.

I go to church to join other flawed, broken, and needy people who identify themselves as Christ followers, and we join together to struggle with how to follow Him more effectively, more actively, and more sacrificially.  I go to church to hear the Word of God proclaimed from the pulpit along with 200 others who hear the same word and take away something different, but there is beauty in that unity.  I go to church to sing praises to God along with 200 others sing beside me.

We live life together.

Had the writer of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes written the third chapter today rather than when he did, he would have said very similar things but with some additions (in bold).

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Notice that nothing is bolded.

With all that has changed since the time of the Old Testament, much has remained the same about relationships – and the relationships in the Church.  The Israelites certainly quarreled about everything from leadership positions to how best to raise their children, but they stayed unified under the Lord.  They probably did not want to be together all of the time, but they came together weekly to study the Scriptures and to worship God.

Things are not always perfect in my church.  We are family, and – like our families of origin – we have differences from time to time.  But more often than not, we live life together – unified under the Lord and coming together weekly to study the Scriptures and to worship God.

And there is a time for everything.

This past weekend revealed that to me very clearly as we had a bridal shower on Saturday morning (a time to celebrate), a funeral on Saturday afternoon (a time to mourn our loss and a time to celebrate a great life lived), and a Sunday School Picnic on Sunday after the service.  The picnic was especially great because it was potluck-style, and there were some great eats to be had!

The image of us living life together has stayed with me and will stay with me.  As I observed the picnic yesterday, I was reminded again of how we live life together. 
  • A grandfather holding his sleeping baby grandson talked with a father holding his sleeping baby girl.
  • Grown men and women playing a wiffle ball game with children as young as 3.
  • Two teens flanking their youth sponsor as they all lay on a blanket – the teens listening to the sponsor as she read aloud her study material for a master’s class.
A time to eat and a time to play.  A time to listen and a time to praise.

A time for everything…Amen.

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Resting on Labor Day

Today is Labor Day.

According to the United States Department of Labor, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

What does Labor Day mean to you?

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For almost the last decade, Labor Day has meant two things for our family:

  1. The end of summer as our kids go back to school on the day after Labor Day.
  2. A weekend of Family Camp at Village Creek Bible Camp.

There is truly no better place to spend the last weekend of summer.

Whether up high on a hill overlooking the valley, in the woods walking the trails, or down in the valley looking up and all around, this place is beautiful and filled with variety.

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In addition to the beauty, there are activities for everyone – horseback rides, archery, the lake (with a blob!), the gym, and the craft room.

The group of us who go together like to do very little.  We sit in front of one of the cabins on our lawn chairs and eat the snacks that we brought along to share.  We connect with each other as the start of school and fall and all that comes with it nears.

And we connect again with God through the beauty of the place, the messages during chapel sessions, and the conversations over meals.  We pray with each other and for each other.  We leave our burdens or share them.

It is Labor Day, but it is filled with the rest that God provides through His word, His son, and His community.

If this day were Thanksgiving, I would say, “I am thankful for Village Creek Bible Camp.”  It is not Thanksgiving, but I am still thankful for Village Creek Bible Camp – the place, those who serve, and what it provides.

Happy Labor Day to all!  I hope that you find peace and rest on this day.

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July and 31 Dresses

In late July, I attended my high school 20 year reunion.  Click here to read more about what I learned through that experience.  What I did not expect to experience was to find “new” friends in the crowd.  (Side note: I do not remember a ton of high school; in fact, most of my junior year is a simple blur.)

One of the people that I enjoyed “meeting” was AnnMarie who had been a cheerleader, saxophone player and art enthusiast (still is….).

I am sure that we were decent acquaintances in high school, but it was really fun to get to know her more as an adult at the reunion. As we talked, she shared about a challenge she had created for herself to wear a dress every day in July. This was gutsy as our reunion occurred over the time period, so she wore a dress to each of the reunion events.  The more I heard about her challenge, the more I knew I wanted to feature her story on my blog.

Many thanks to AnnMarie who agreed to share her story through a question/answer format for the post.  I am inspired by her courage and perseverance – even through a reunion!

What prompted you to do this?
As I was cleaning out my closet for stuff to add to my rummage sale pile, I kept putting dresses back in the closet and thinking “I still might wear that.” Then I started counting the dresses… I got to 20 and thought, “boy, I have enough dresses and skirts for a whole month, and I really should wear them.” This was the end of June…so I decided, why not?

On July 1st, I put on a dress and started off my month of dresses. I decided not to tell anyone except my husband…just in case I couldn’t go through with it. I knew if I posted it on FB, then I’d be committed and I wasn’t ready for that. After about 1/2 the month, when I realized that I could actually do it, I started to tell some co-workers who were probably wondering if I was interviewing somewhere since we are an extremely casual office where shorts and flip flops are the norm all summer.

What did you learn?

  • I learned I own a lot of dresses and skirts!

  • I learned that dresses are way cooler on a super hot summer like this… but also that not everyday is a dress day… some days you just want a pair of super comfty capri’s.

  • The best thing was learning which I liked and felt comfty in and which I did not… and if I did not, then it probably is time for that one to go to anther person who can appreciate it.

  • I also learned that by challenging myself I actually was influencing and challenging others… some ladies in my work and social circle started to wear more dresses. It was fun to walk into hockey camp and have a friend say, “You inspired me (and Lisa looked beautiful in her dress).”

I’ve always enjoyed wearing dresses… but it was so fun to see others doing the same!

What were your doubts/drawbacks to starting? Did you really have 31 dresses in your closet or did you have to wear some a second time?

I didn’t have to wear any a second time… but I did have to include skirts. Also since I had recently lost 25 lbs, that opened up a few more options that hadn’t fit in a while. So together with skirts and dresses, old and new, casual and dressy, I did have 31… 3 of them are dresses that I use as swimsuit cover-ups, but that worked great when we were at the lake for 4th of July. My only rule, helped too: I decided I didn’t have to workout in a skirt… although I do have a workout skort that I wear most of them time .  And once I have worked out, I can put on something comfty. So this forced me to workout a bit more… especially on days when the dress wasn’t particularly comfy.

Are you keeping all of the dresses?

No… I have about 5 that I have added to the rummage sale pile. The rest I’m keeping, and I will probably continue to wear several a week.

Would you suggest that other women do something similar?

For sure… it was fun! A fashion challenge is a great way to try on some of the things in your closet that we keep but really aren’t wearing… this gets us to wear it and decide if it stays or goes. As for me… I will do this again… dresses again next summer, but maybe sweaters this winter… I have a lot of those that I don’t remember when I last put them on. I just don’t know if I have 31 of them!

Again – many thanks to AnnMarie for sharing her story!!!

In her life now, she is married, has three boys who all play hockey, and is a Configuration Data Analyst for a software company in Mankato. In her “free” time, she volunteers at her boys’ schools, is the webmaster of Mankato Community Bible Study, and serves as treasurer of the Southern MN Autism Coalition (of which she was also a founding member).

What’s next for you, readers?

  • What challenges are youconsidering as we head into fall?
  • Weight loss?
  • A dance class?
  • Better eating habits?
  • More hours of sleep?

I would love to hear about them through the comment section of the blog.  Also – if you have done any challenges similar to AnnMarie’s, I would love to hear about your outcomes as well.

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Filed under Education, health, Relationships, Thoughts, Travel

A Trip of Contrasts

This post is going to be a quick post with pictures and a few comments.

This week, I have the joy of being on a trip to the East Coast that encompasses food, family, and fun.  It is also full of contrasts.

I started out my trip with five days of family and friends with a full schedule of …

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travel to Mohegan Bluffs (and other areas) on Block Island…

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to restaurants such as George’s in Rhode Island…

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and the urban residential area of Cambridge, MA.

I will finish my trip in with a few days of solitude without interruptions or temptations of cell phone, internet, television…or people.

Pictures to come.

See you after my break!

In the meantime, feel free to peruse through some of the most popular posts I have written this year:

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Filed under Food, health, Relationships, Travel