Friday, November 28, 2014

faith & family fridays: thanksgiving boy + cornucopia of blessings

On Nov. 27, 2002, the little cutie on the left welcomed the tiny cutie on the right into our family, and life hasn't been quite the same since.

Any guesses how I can love this guy so easily?

On Thanksgiving, he turned 12. I knew we were in for a beautiful couple days of celebrating when, while out doing Thanksgiving errands, this sundog appeared.

Within a couple hours, I'd gathered up the chicks and we were off -- all seven of us in the minivan once again, for the first time in many months.

Well, eight, if you count our reluctant canine, who wasn't so sure about things but managed quite well in the end.


Grandma knew a Thanksgiving boy would easily get bumped from the spotlight so had things party-ready at the hotel when we arrived.

Pizza was eaten, presents opened...

And all that sugar put the sillies in the cousins.

The next morning, while the two cousins were waking in a fish house out on Lake Minnewaska...

we were stretching from our night at the new Grand Stay hotel in Glenwood. Numero cinco and I got up and ready in time to attend Mass just a few blocks away. Mass on Thanksgiving has not been a tradition, but I'm hoping it will become one. After all, Eucharist, in Greek, means "Thanksgiving." There's no better way to start the day.

And a quick dip in the pool one last time afterward was just the thing.

We arrived at Grandma's and Grandmpa's in time to watch Uncle Mike frying up the Lake Minnewaska born walleye on the deck out back.

Grandma Gladys said, "This is about the best thing I've ever tasted." That's saying a lot, coming from someone who has been around a few decades! (It really was quite amazing...)

From there, a little grace with the gang kicked things off nicely, and we were off and eating...

 It was a grand feast and I can't be more thankful for the blessing of it.

My in-laws are pretty awesome the way they welcome and warm hearts and tummies with their serving attitude. I'm humbled to be one of the blessed recipients of all this giving. I know many are literally left out in the cold on such a day. That we might all be welcomed and warm.

Soon enough, we were back home, with just enough time for birthday boy and I to head to the theaters for some time in the recliners with a big tub of buttered corn. That's a Thanksgiving food too, right?

And now for Black Friday fun. Truthfully, it's the thing I most dread, but I've been lured in by a service project one of the kids signed up to do that required an adult presence. For three hours today, we'll be folding unfolded clothes at a large sporting goods store here in Fargo; all for a good cause. Nevertheless, given the sacrifice quotient, I'm pretty sure I'll be given a few days out of purgatory for this one.

Q4U: Were you serving recipient or giver this Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

writing wednesdays: why did the turkey stand in the corner?

Because he relished his alone time, of course!

Well, don't you?

This turkey's got a lot more to say about carving out time to himself (no pun intended, honest!). Head on over to Peace Garden Writer for a gander, gobble gobble.

Monday, November 24, 2014

meaningful mondays: our extra-special 23rd anniversary with the timberwolves

This weekend, we celebrated our wedding anniversary...with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It was a special one - 23 years on the 23rd - so merited a special celebration. Our trip to Minneapolis definitely felt special.

Through my husband's work, we were offered the chance at courtside seats. I doubt this will ever happen again in our lifetime, but for a few short hours, we were treated VIP style at a professional sporting event.

We traveled with Troy's co-worker and wife, Joel and Jill, and enjoyed a meal together before heading to the Target Center.

While there, we flipped a coin to see who would get the courtside seats the first half. Troy called heads. Guess who won the toss?

Our special tickets meant that we were treated extra special. People looked at us like, "How do you rate?" Then they congratulated us for getting lucky. This kind man was our escort to the hidden places where only special people go.

We were taken to a special room with private lockers and treats on the house. After placing our coats into classy wooden lockers, we made our way to the courts via a special "courtside folks only" entrance, arriving just as the teams were being introduced.

Flashing our special tickets, we were led to our special seats, which were even more "courtside" than we'd imagined.

Earlier, Jill had commented that she wanted to get so close to the players that they could drip sweat on her. We were THAT close.


I can't exactly describe how it felt, but it's a wholly different experience being right ON the court, just inches from the action.

The media was right there.

The security guards came within feet of us every time there was a break in the action on the court. See the guy on the left? He was like a Swiss Guard, never cracking a grin. He'd just stand there, surveying the crowd for any unwanted monkey business.

The mascot, Crunch, paid a visit to our section and made this little guy giggle.

We were so close to everything that it almost felt surreal, like we were inside of someone's dream. These hip hop dancers, The Pups, came out on one of the breaks to shake their booties.

I'm sure we looked wide-eyed, while others near us seemed to be settled in like this was all so very usual.

I love basketball, so it wasn't hard to watch the game, and during our half courtside, the Timberwolves were ahead pretty much the whole time. My characteristic four-fingered whistle got lots of use.

Then at halftime, more special stuff when we were treated to the extra-special Backcourt Club (like backstage), where all sorts of special things were going down.

At the start of the second half, we switched seats and were relegated to the spot where our friends had been earlier. See Joel in the orange? That's where we'd been, cozy with the courts.

Once we left our coveted spots, the game went downhill in a hurry. I'm sure the Timberwolves sensed our absence and just couldn't quite recover.

Now, the real truth is, their loss had nothing to do with us. In fact, we weren't special at all. Just extra-special blessed for a few hours the night before our 23rd wedding anniversary. This trip could not have happened without the generosity of others, and we are grateful. Not only was it exciting, but it gave us a chance to glimpse how the other, maybe more like the other 4

I have to admit. I enjoyed being treated like royalty for that short while. But the second half gave me a chance to pause and reflect, and by then, the excitement had worn off a little and my emotions had given way to thought. I'll save most of those deeper reflections for another time, but suffice it so say...I began to feel very grateful for my humble little life in North Dakota. No, it doesn't provide lots of chances for glitz and glamor. But my life is so incredibly rich. And if I had to choose between the two -- regular courtside seats and my usual life of mostly nosebleed section seating -- I'd trade in VIP for a more humble existence any day.

The truth of the matter humble, ordinary life of being a mom and wife married to a humble, ordinary guy and raising five fairly ordinary children in a pretty humble city is really where it's at.

I don't think I'm just trying to convince myself of it. I've got a sweet deal going on.

And we must be doing something right. After all, try as we might, we couldn't even get into Hell...or Hell's Kitchen at least. We tried, but we were turned away. Too nice, they said. 

No, I'm kidding. We just hadn't prepared enough in advance (made reservations).

We missed out on some good food, I hear, but the place we landed instead was very pleasing with its rooftop view with lots of light and a heavenly gaze.


What a great celebration! So many fun city sights...


And as I told my Facebook friends tonight, each year more that Troy and I find ourselves celebrating this milestone of another year of marriage, it feels like that much more of a miracle.

Q4U: What is the miracle you celebrate at this time in your life?

Friday, November 21, 2014

faith & family fridays: a pause can change the world

It's the simplest thing, really, and yet often hard to do, it seems.

The pause. It all comes down to this, I'm realizing. As in, our life depends on it. Our salvation depends on it. The flourishing of humanity depends on it.

Let me explain. Without morality, our world would crumble in an instant. We are moral people, made thus by our moral God. Morality has taken on a negative tone in this age, but I'm here to offer a different vision of it. I'm here to say morality is very, very good, and we can't do without it.

And for morality to work, the pause has to happen. What I mean by pause is...that moment of restraint. The little bit of time to think before acting. The chance to hold back from our reactive, human inclinations and choose another path.

Do you see where I'm heading now? And do you see why it's such a big thing?

Think about it as it relates to social media. We read something that rubs us the wrong way and immediately, our brain engines begins firing. We want to engage. But should we? And if we do, what should we say? Does it matter? We live in a world that seems to be leaning in the direction of it not mattering, and yet I think it does, a great deal.

The pause can change the whole outcome of the conversation, or whether we even have a conversation, or whom we have it with.

I'm coming to see the pause button as a gift from God to allow us enough time to challenge concupiscence (the inclination toward sin) and do what's right. Often, the right thing is not the first thing that comes to mind. If you're human, you know what I'm talking about, and I am the first among those who have failed in this at times.

Since my earliest days I've been quick to react, but my first reaction hasn't always been the most prudent. The older I get, the more I am getting this. I still don't do it perfectly, and when I don't, I know it. I feel it. I didn't pause long enough and now I've gotten myself in a mess. I should have utilized the pause.

Have you ever paused before acting, then acted, and felt relief, knowing that if you'd reacted on gut instinct everything could have turned out much differently, far worse?

The pause matters. But without developing one's conscience, the pause could end up being a waste of time, a spinning of one's wheels, fruitless. So there must be something there to begin with; a base to build upon.

God put something in our moral well to get us started, but it's up to us to follow through, develop and build  so that when push comes to shove and we're in a position of needing to make a moral decision, we'll have something in reserve. The bigger the reserve, in some ways, the better the pause, the more right the action or reaction.

It's pretty simple, really, and yet I know it's a journey, and that each soul comes at it individually and in its own time.

What's most important is that we recognize the value of the pause, work to build spaces for it to dwell, and know when to use it.

Reflection, restraint, prayer, holding back, being mindful, taking time to ruminate, discernment, fair judgment, choosing the right words.

We live in a world of weak words, when cursing is acceptable and reactions come at the quick click of a button. We're all susceptible, but we don't all have to cave to the pressure. There's a better way.

Consider the pause. Regard it. Honor it. Get comfortable with it. The pause doesn't mean you are rendered powerless. The pause just means you're going to commit to taking a little more time so that what comes from you will be thoughtful and just and right.

Q4U: When did you pause recently in a way that made all the difference?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

writing wednesdays: following fiat

Yes, that's right, but not like the car.

No, not that.

This is the Fiat I'm talking about.

You can follow Fiat, too. Just swim on over to Peace Garden Writer and take a little dip!