Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In Honor of Family

fascinating photo... I can't remember where I found it

Please, please go to TirubaTuba's blog and read this post. She is doing a contest that will have some impact on waiting kids. And you might even win a prize or even become a "published" artist or author!

There are thousands of older kids waiting to be adopted. They want a family, but they are scared and hesitant about what they may be getting into. Tuba wants to share with them what your family means to you... maybe they won't be quite so scared any more. And maybe, if a nice family steps up to adopt them, they'll all get off on the right foot and build a happy future together.

Wouldn't you like to be a part of that? Give it a try. Anyone can enter, even your dog!

I am going to have to give this some thought myself..... gotta get those creative juices flowing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sore Feet for the Homeless

Here is my interesting day which I hinted about yesterday: today I volunteered at Project Homeless Connect. It was an all-day event for homeless people. They come to one place and get services all at once, such as help getting a state ID, housing information, employment information, applying for county services, legal assistance, medical and dental help, free haircuts, a free lunch, plus lots more.

I was an intake person. Each intake person meets with an incoming client, takes down some info, and then accompanies the person around the room, to make sure the client finds the services he or she needs (or the person can go around alone if preferred).

What an interesting day! Some of the people obviously have some challenges that make employment and/or daily living difficult. Others were just down-on-their-luck folks. They all appreciated the help and were polite and fun to work with. I was also pleased to see that through my regular job I have learned a lot about the agencies that were there; I felt very comfortable and knew how to refer clients and answer some of their questions.

Now I have sore feet, but it was worth it. If you get an opportunity to volunteer at a similar event where you live, I recommend giving it a try. You'll learn a lot about your own community.

I'm thankful for:
1) interesting opportunities to help others (which also helps me)
2) riding the bus both ways with my husband today
3) American Sign Language
4) two lovely wedding invitations came in this week's mail!
5) a beautiful, cool summer day

Sunday, June 28, 2009

An Award and a Bright Light

I didn't think I had much to write about today, but then I discovered that Beth over at Walk a Mile chose me to win this lovely blog award. Beth and I became pals at church, especially through working on mission teams together. She is an inspiration to me! Thank you, Beth! I am honored! (I’ll follow the blog award rules in a couple of days.)

Today we had church outside in a little "town square" area at a new development in our 'burb. It was a beautiful day to be outside!

Pastor Penny did a sermon on Saul and his conversion along the road to Damascus. Saul was blinded by a bright light. And it completely turned his life around. See the bright light in this picture? I thought it was quite appropriate that this light appeared while a sermon was being preached about Saul. Something to think about: how many of us would be courageous enough to completely change our lives to live as we we belive God calls us to live?

Tomorrow I am going to do something very interesting - at least I hope it will be. Check back in a day or two if you're curious about my Monday plans. I'll tell you all about it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It Was a Good Day to Sew

I got up too early, felt groggy, but was willing to do so because I got to sew ALL DAY today. A nice little Diet Coke solved the grogginess problem.

Met three other women at my church and hunkered down to sew. I made this top.

This was made by Clara (not her real name).

These were made by Jezabelle (NHRN). Don't you wish you could have a bite or three? Become a quilter, join us at my church on the appropriate Saturday, and you, too, might be lucky enough to savor the sweet goodness of these caramel rolls. (They're the Diet version, because she used less butter than was called for.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Five

Five things for which I am thankful:
1) I am so lucky to work for a school and to get the summers off. This is the first summer in many years that I have not worked at least a little. It is wonderful!

2) Even though I'm not working, I am super busy. My whole summer is practically filled up with things I must do. However, I am not complaining, because they are all fun things: a wedding, opportunities to do some volunteering, another wedding, a short vacation, an interesting conference to attend, some visits to family and to some beautiful Minnesota lakes, and lunches every Wednesday with some wonderful women. Who can complain about such obligations?! Not I! (If I do complain, please remind me of how lucky I am.)

3) Today I went to the farmer's market. I bought these beautiful vegetables (picture above). I need to follow this easy yet fabulous advice: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It's that middle one that throws me off, and OK, the last one, too. My potato chips and Diet Coke don't qualify as "plants," I'm afraid. In this area I am still a work in progress.

4) I had such fun today watering our lawn and plants and pulling weeds. I have never liked those chores in the past! I'm trying to take more notice of the miracles all around me, and today those chores qualified. We are loving our newly landscaped yard and the beautiful bushes and trees that surprise us with flowers!

5) Four weeks from tomorrow I will officially become a mother-in-law. Something new to learn! Hooray! And the fact that I become a MIL means my son is marrying the love of his life! Oh, happy day!!! It's so exciting!

This little tree blossomed while I was away at Crow Creek. I only saw the flowers as they were starting, and then when they were past their prime... something to look forward to next year!

Our hanging flower basket is flourishing. I bought these from a marching band whose school colors are red and yellow, and with whom both of my children have marched. When I look at this basket, I think of my children.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Anything to Avoid my Chores

picture is from farmersmarketonline dot com

I'll do anything else when I have chores staring me in the face. I'm incorrigible! But I do usually perform, eventually, when deadlines loom (such as a wedding) and pressure is increasing (time to get the house ready is shrinking). So I have not yet given up on myself.

Today, however, just about takes the cake. I have been saving recipes from a quilty group I'm part of. This has been over a number of Years. Today, suddenly, it was imperative that I start organizing these recipes and start preparing a cookbook to sell as a fundraiser.

Ha! Is there some house cleaning to be done? You betcha! That's why the cookbook is suddenly so urgent to get done. Incorrigible... that's the word.

Today is ONE MONTH from my son's wedding. Wheee! It's fun, exciting, and I'm starting to feel the pressure. One of these days (I hope) I can report to you that the house has been totally cleaned and prepped. Just watch (and wait, and listen, and please be patient with me)!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday Women

I'm trying to start a new summer time tradition: every Wednesday I hope to have lunch with a woman in my life... friends I haven't seen in too long, my daughter, maybe even a neighbor or acquaintance that I would like to get to know better.

Today was my first Wednesday Woman lunch.. with my daughter. We had a good time shopping together at the Mall of America, and then enjoyed lunch. She was trying to get food off her teeth when the camera snapped. Oh, well. She looks cute no matter what - spoken by an unbiased mom - haha! (She bought a super cute dress for her brother's wedding this summer! Too cute for words.)

I don't know if I'll actually follow through on my new tradition, but I hope so. My #1 Wednesday Lunch with a Woman was great!
Today I'm thankful for:
1. eating out
2. fun contact times with both my kids this week
3. summer!
4. good books
5. naps

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wedding Shower

My book club hosted a wedding shower for my son and his bride-to-be. It was such a nice event, and I so appreciate what they did! They went the extra mile and made food that fits Steven and Melody's vegan requirements. My book club rocks!

These are pillows I made for them... I posted them a while ago but did not reveal the secret of who they were for. They seemed pleased with the pillows. I was happy.

It sort of shocked me to be at a wedding shower for my son... this is real! My son is going to get married! I need to lose 50 lbs in a month! OK, forget that last one. I'm trying to accept Me. I am who I am. (Below: the young couple with the moms.)

It was fun to hear other people talk about them having love and respect for each other and to hear about how well-liked they were on their college campus. They both just graduated, and I am told they will be missed greatly. It's an emotional thing, to hear people say such things about one's child (and his life partner). This wedding thing is going to be a big deal, plus a lot of fun. I'm getting excited!

This is the groom and bride as they looked about 22 years ago. Do you agree that they look alike as babies?

Here they are today, about to step out into the Great Adventure. May they always be there to hold each other up during the hard times and to share the joys.

And may they grow old together in a world of peace.

My House Needs a Mission Team

After spending a week working hard to clean and organize other people's spaces, I came home to a mess. I decided to tackle my own house the way I had tackled the other work space while on my mission trip... but it is just not the same thing! I made a little progress yesterday, but then found umpteen excuses for doing other stuff.

One thing I did was make this toy. Thanks for the fabrics, Kim! (Do you recognize them?) I'm also working on a slideshow of our mission trip pictures.

My house is sad that I gave up so quickly and wishes that a dynamite mission team would knock on the door with rags, mops, and face masks in hand, ready to attack my mess! Until that happens, I'll keep galumphing along... and to be honest, I would die of shame if any mission team actually saw my house right now.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Lining up for a meal... the group from Missouri fed us wonderful, home-cooked meals.

breakfast fit for a lumberjack

Lunches were wherever we happened to be... usually outside.

meatloaf etc etc

... another outdoor lunch...

ravioli-lasagne ... one of my favorites of the week
we knew losing weight this week was an impossible dream
bbq pork sandwiches

Lisa, Peter's sister, made us Indian tacos. Fabulous!!

dessert at Al's Oasis in Chamberlain, SD

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our Work at Crow Creek

Photos by me and by Beth H. - thanks for sharing, Beth.

A team of nine people from my local church traveled to Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota for one week, to help in whatever way we were needed. (The girl smack dab in the middle is my confirmation mentee.)

Here is Peter (below), the Construction Manager, an employee of Tree of Life, talking to the group about what our tasks will be. There were three teams there ready to work: a team of about 45 teens from Illinois, 40 adults from Missouri, and 9 of us from Minnesota. We mostly worked alongside the Missouri team, and they also fed us quite bountifully. Yum!

We participated in a variety of cleaning jobs.

This is Jason (above), the other of our two teens. He was the only guy on the trip, and did marvelously putting up with a group of mostly old women. He was such a hard worker and a great guy!

Above is Corrine, a veteran mission team worker, who reminded us that when things get tough, our job is to "Choose Joy!" She's a gem.

A greenhouse is being built. We helped a little, but didn't have the construction skills that would have been helpful, so we moved on to other projects.

The Thrift Shop became our Project of the Week. It started out as an empty room. Random stuff was stored in there, so we started by hauling it out.

We cleaned the floor and were told to prepare it for cement sealant.

However, once the sealant cans were opened, it was obviously not useable. It was too old, or had been frozen... it looked like cottage cheese. Peter told us to forget the floor and go ahead and fill the shop. He was eager to get it set up and hoped to open next week! Our work was cut out for us.

The attic (aka sauna) was full of piles and boxes of donations. One crew of mostly elderly women, bless their hearts, spent nearly the whole week up here in the heat, sorting through stuff, organizing it into categories, and bringing useful items downstairs to the thrift shop for display. Some of us worked in here regularly. I worked here occasionally. I found it too hot, and bending down to avoid hitting one's head on the rafters was annoying and gave me a backache. I was more productive downstairs.... and also served as roaming Photographer.

This is me (above), half dead after a work stint in the attic, with cool and collected Beth J.

We made good progress getting things set up and arranged.

This is Beth H. who recruited some guys to put up these cabinets for the future kitchen area. Afterwards she helped clean them up.

We organized... arranged....

By the end of the week we had transformed an empty room into an attractive Thrift Shop. It had been cleaned from top to bottom, stocked and organized. Many creative minds working together made the room turn into a very nice-looking shop! We were pleased and proud of all the work we had done! Peter called us "amazing" which was a nice compliment.

Both our teens (one is pictured here with her mother) pitched in and did their share of the work!


Peter is the Crow Creek Construction Manager whose goal is to work himself out of a job. He has a clear and compelling dream for his people. He hopes to help them out of helplessness into self-sufficiency.

The challenges at Crow Creek are enormous. The Dakota people have been struggling with mistreatment and forced helplessness since the days when they were forced onto the reservation. Since then they have learned to keep a hand out for donations and help. This lesson was internalized thanks to years of neglect, broken promises, and nearly zero opportunities for them.

You would be amazed at the emptiness at Crow Creek. I find the prairie to be really beautiful, but there is literally nothing there for the people to do or places to be employed. The little town where we worked consists of the Tree of Life complex (Thrift Shop, garden, greenhouse), a small church, a gas station/convenience store, a casino, a Boys and Girls club, and a health clinic. That is IT. There is literally nothing else. No bowling alley for the kids, no tennis courts, no manufacturing or retail shops to provide employment. Depression and helplessness hang heavy in the region.

Still, the people are resilient, enjoy a great sense of community and camaraderie, are working on rebuilding their culture through schools and cultural revitalization. Tree of Life hopes to have a hand in helping re-create a strong and self-sufficient people. It would be fabulous if Peter and Tree of Life succeed in working themselves out of a job. It is a dream worth pursuing.

Until that happens, our work as volunteers is greatly needed and deeply appreciated. Everyone we met was gracious, funny, friendly, and very willing to share and teach. The Dakota/Lakota cultures are beautiful, very spiritual, and I am blessed to have spent a small amount of time among the beautiful people of Crow Creek (and a year ago, Rosebud). I hope to return next year to the beautiful prairie, to see what progress has been made, and to pitch in with my labor and sweat!