Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why do I live in Minnesota?

Colorado is so beautiful! I have had a great time and seen some gorgeous vistas during my week here. Occasionally, I have even gotten teary just taking in the view. The mountains are so amazing. It's almost as pretty as Banff, Canada but without the mosquitoes - that's a bonus!
Jean, Megs, Holly and I on top of Copper Mountain

Still snow on July 27!

The view from the chair lift on Copper Mountain.

Even the flowers here are beautiful. These were in the west village of Copper Mountain, which, as you may have guessed is where we spent the day on Friday.

Saturday we took the "water taxi" from Frisco to Dillon. Stunning sights!

Lots of sailboats out. There was a regatta Saturday night and I guess all the sailors were out practicing. What a beautiful ride!

Saturday night we went to a concert at the Dillon Amphitheater. Besides some great country music, yee haw, the surroundings were breathtaking. For a great deal of the time I just sat there saying, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord! This is incredible!" Can you tell, I like Colorado?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Shack

In a previous blog I told you that I was making my way through a variety of books. I promised reviews of the books I read. I've been working on, Nurture, by Lisa Bevere, and it'll be a bit longer before I finish that. At the same time, I've been reading The Shack by William P. Young. I've been able to finish it up while on vacation and I'm going to make an attempt to tell you about it.

The Shack is a hard book to describe. First of all, it's an allegory, and I'm not good with allegories. For instance, I could never get into the Chronicles of Narnia. In general, my mind just doesn't think that way. I was glad that my friend, Lindsay, told me ahead of time that The Shack is an allegory and what I might expect. As I read reviews of this book I realized that it has created quite the controversy.

The first thing that throws people off in this book is that God is portrayed as a woman. Some people find that very offensive and I probably would have also had Lindsay not told me about it ahead of time. You have to consider why it would offend you to have God portrayed as a woman. Of course, in the Bible, God is always referred to in the masculine sense, yet it is made clear that God is neither male or female. And, in Chronicles of Narnia, God is portrayed as a lion. Why is that not offensive? But, what I found as I read the book was that the sex in which God is portrayed is really almost secondary to the story. What is primary to the story is expanding your view of God.

As the book cover will tell you, The Shack is the story of Mackenzie Phillips and his encounter with God after his youngest daughter is abducted and presumably murdered. While it seems like a tough book to read, and at times is, I still feel it's worth the effort of reading it. I will admit that as I read The Shack, I was skeptical of what I'd read. I was looking for theology that was "off" and I did find a couple of things that I can't agree with. Keep in mind, however, this is a novel - a piece of fiction.

What I did get out of this book is a new way of thinking about God, and a desire to make Him the very center of my life. A lot is said in the book about forgiveness, God's love for us and His desire to have us know Him and walk with Him every moment of every day. William Young tackles some tough subjects that most Christians struggle with almost daily. One of my favorite lines from the book is this, "Be willing to reexamine what you believe."

The Shack left me feeling incredibly loved by God. I believe it's worth the time to read it. Everyone will have to come to their own conclusion about this book, but don't let what people say about the book keep you from reading it. Read it and decide for yourself. I welcome all comments delivered in love. (I'm very sensitive so don't beat me up!)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

When my friend, Holly, asked me to join her for "girls' week" in Frisco, Colorado, I jumped at the chance. Well, I didn't really jump right away, but my interest was piqued. Once Holly told me what the "girls" do, then I was sold. Here's what she told me. "We don't get dressed until 11:00 a.m. (she could have stopped there - I was ready to pack), we read, shop, eat and watch chick flicks." It sounded like a little slice of heaven.

Fast forward a couple months and here I am - sitting in my p.j.'s at 10:00 a.m., blogging in Frisco. The view out our window is beautiful. The air is crisp and clear, and other than being a little winded from the 9000 ft. altitude, all is good. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I'll have a few books to tell you about.

The thing is, you don't have to travel to distant locations to enjoy a little time off with the girls. I mean, it's nice and all, but not always an option. But, I think spending some fun time with girlfriends is a must. Girlfriends offer a different perspective on life than husbands and kids do. Girlfriends help you laugh at yourself, they encourage you when you're down, they know "girl" stuff, they generally enjoying shopping more than the men in your life, and they can just be a blast to be around. I have learned a lot from the girlfriends that God has allowed into my life. So, even if you can't get away for the week, call a friend and get together for a few hours of fun. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel.

In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on my week and try to post more pictures so you can enjoy the view along with me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Taking time

I am making a concentrated effort to enjoy summer this year. I know it sound crazy but I really have to force myself to do this. Usually, I rush through summer and I'm so busy that I don't have time to slow down and enjoy the beauty all around me. Of course, I'm not a big fan of heat and humidity, so our Minnesota temperatures have been perfect for me.

Stopping in the midst of my normal craziness and slipping away to the front porch has become the favorite part of my day. There I can take time to read my current book selection, enjoy the flowers blooming in our front yard, and just relax, even if it's only for 20 minutes. It has been a particularly great year for my flowering plants and sometimes I'm so overwhelmed by the beauty I have to go inside and grab my camera. Here are a couple of shots taken within the past three weeks. It seems the flowers are staging their appearance so as one stops blooming another one starts. You'd have thought I planned it but really, I'm not that good.

Why not take some time yourself this summer, get away, even if it's just for a few minutes and enjoy God's amazing creation?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

5 and 5

At my SisterChicks small group on Tuesday night, our leader, Diane Skoog, was talking about the importance of spending time DAILY in Bible Study and prayer. I couldn't agree more. I have been making a determined effort in the past few years to not let a day go by without spending some time with God. I mean, of course, I am always talking to God throughout the day, but actually spending time sitting, reading, studying and praying, just does not come naturally for me, so I have to almost schedule it into my life. Diane's suggestion for the women who really wanted to get serious in their relationship with Christ is to start with 5 & 5. Five minutes of Bible reading and 5 minutes of prayer. I thought this was a fabulous suggestion.

I know what you're thinking. (Well, I know what I'd be thinking.) "Ten minutes a day doesn't really seem like much time to spend with God. I don't really want to just spend ten minutes. Shouldn't I be spending 30 minutes a day?" Well, of course, thirty minutes would be great. So would sixty minutes, or 90 minutes, but will you consistently do that? Setting that as a starting goal just sets you up for failure. ANYONE can do 5 and 5, even me. The thing is that once you start with 5 and 5, you'll get excited about what you are learning and love it so much that you'll want to do more.

Once you start reading consistently you’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn! For instance, I have read through the New Testament countless times. In college, I read through the entire NT in about three days. It was for “extra credit” in a New Testament class I was taking. Mind you, I had an entire quarter to finish this assignment, I had just procrastinated, putting it off until the last three days of the term. I'm can say for sure that I didn't learn much in those three days, but earlier this year I was shocked to read Luke 10:1 where it says, “The Lord now chose seventy-two other disciples….” Seventy-two! Wow, if someone were to ask me how many disciples Jesus had I would, until now, have said 12.

My point is there is SO much to learn from God’s word that you just won’t get it all in the first read through. It’s like watching a movie for three, four, or five times. You’ll see something different every time through. God’s word is so cool! Spend some time there today. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with 5 and 5 and watch what God does in you!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

20 Minutes

Yesterday, I discovered something. You'd have thought I would have discovered this earlier in life, but I guess I'm a little slow to put it all together. Here's what I figured out. If you have something absolutely deplorable to do, set a timer and make yourself work on it for just 20 minutes. I mean seriously, if you don't like doing something, you can make yourself do it if you promise yourself you get to quit in 20 minutes, right?

For instance, yesterday the screen porch needed to be cleaned. I mean, it wasn't even nice to look at, much less use. But, the job seemed overwhelming. First there is the vacuuming of our 27 year old indoor/outdoor carpeting. (I'm working on the remodeling project but, that will require at least six 20 minute discusssions!) Then, there is the cleaning of the furniture, washing the screens, cleaning out the sliding door track (between the house and the porch) and vacumming down the cobwebs. Plus, I really wanted to read my book!

So, here's what I did. I first went and sat on the front porch, where is was, let's say, clean enough, and set my timer to read for 20 minutes. (Sometimes, I have to force myself to take time for the fun stuff, too.) Then, I enlisted Scott's help and promised him we'd only work for 20 minutes. I set the timer and while Scott wiped down the furniture, I vacuumed up the accumlated dead bugs and other debris. Then, we quit, and the porch looked 90% better! It was amazing.

Today, John washed the screens and Scott and I worked on the sliding door track; which honestly, how does it get that gross? But, I digress. The great part of it all was we were able to spend the day enjoying our clean screen porch and no one had suffered too greatly (although Scott might say otherwise.)

I'm thinking my timer and I are going to be great friends this summer. There is always plenty to do! And, I may get through those books a bit faster if I just promise myself 20 minutes a day.

Now, here's one more tip for my Mom's group friends. With small children, only set the timer for about 10 minutes and ALWAYS work with them. It requires less yelling (oh, I mean reminding) and much more gets accomplished.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Buried in Books

I love books! I love to read, and once I read a review of a book that sounds interesting I simply must get that book. The pathetic part about all of this is that I never really get around to finishing all of the books I buy (and sometimes I don't even start them.) It's just so sad. I felt encouraged last weekend as I read an entire book (it was an easy read) and started another while in the car on our way to and from visiting John's parents in northern Minnesota. But, that's just the tip of the iceberg. To get through all of the books that I've bought just in the last six months I'm going to need to stay focused.

So, in an effort to stay committed to my cause I'm going to post reviews here of the books after I finish them. If you don't see any reviews, email me and remind me to get busy. Either that, or call to borrow a book. I've got plenty.

There are a couple of books that I've read in the last few months (I told you I was slow) that I'll write a little bit about in this post. Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild is an awesome book. In it Jennifer talks about how we, especially as women, say terrible things to ourselves all the time. Things like, "I could never do that, I'm so stupid, I don't think she likes me, etc., etc." (You may not use those exact words but seriously, start listening to what's going on in your head when you mess up at something.) We would never say things to a friend that we'd say to ourselves. Jennifer encourages the reader to change the "clothes in their thought closet." It's a good read and requires some time to stop and think between chapters. At least that's the reason I'm giving for taking five months to plow through the entire book.

On the lighter side, I just finished Anita Renfroe's book If You Can't Lose It, Decorate It. If you've ever heard Anita speak you know she is hysterical. She's just as funny when she writes but I was pleasantly surprised to find some serious thoughts and great ideas woven into the pages of the book. Her basic premise is that we all have things in our lives that bug us- our weight, our finances, our family, other people, and the list goes on. But, instead of focusing on the negative why not try to look at them from another angle and "decorate" the issues in our life. Even if you just get a good laugh out of it, it's worth the read.

Give me a few weeks to get through my current read, Nurture by Lisa Bevere, and I'll let you know what I think, that is if I'm not side-tracked by all the other books waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Blue Ribbon Flower?

Every year, our little town has a fair. It's a huge deal and it runs from July 1 - 4 ending with a fireworks show at 10:00 p.m. on the last day. As with any fair, people bring in their quilts, their photos, their cookies, bars and breads, and whatever else creative people make to enter in the competition hoping that this year they'll win a blue ribbon for their creation. People also bring in their flowers. You know, the ones that they have growing in their gardens. This cracks me up. I mean seriously, these people are going to get a blue, red, or white ribbon for the quality of their flowers. First of all, does God get any credit here at all? And who, in their right mind, would want to be "judging" God's handiwork? I'm told that in order to have beautiful, blue ribbon flowers you have to take care of them perfectly, thus the reason they are up for being judged. I suppose it's true, that if you watched for insects and maybe put the correct fertilizer on, you'd potentially get a prettier flower, but still, I'd rather judge a person's creativity in their landscape design than the "perfection" of their flowers.

All that to say, that if the Cannon Valley Fair was running this week, I think I might just get a blue ribbon for a most gorgeous iris that blossomed today in my front yard. Mind you, I'm not exactly sure who planted it. I think the bulb was in a pot that I was given as a gift, along with some other bulbs. John insisted we plant them on the off chance they'd come up again, so I left tht chore up to him. If I remind him that he planted it, he'll remind me for the 109th time in our nearly 33 years of marriage that he was once "Horticulture Champion of Lake of the Woods County." I always find this claim of his to be most amusing as he doesn't know the difference between a pansy and a petunia. I think the true "champion" may have been his father, but that's another story.

So, here are a couple of pictures of what I consider to be a perfect iris. I suppose I should give John a wee bit of the credit, as he did take the time to plant it, but if I'm honest I'd have to give credit to the One whom I believe deserves it the most, so let me just say, "good job, God!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Road Signs

Do you ever see something when you are driving along and wonder why in the world it's there? It happens to me a lot, in fact sometimes I'm amazed I don't drive off the road when confronted with the craziness that's out there. Tonight, I was on my way to Bible Study in Lakeville and I had just crossed over I-35. So, it's a well traveled road, but not like a highway or anything. Anyway, there is a sign on the side of the road that says, "Lie Detector Tests" and is followed by a phone number. What???

Seriously, who uses this kind of information? I'm thinking that the police and court system have people that administer such tests. Surely, they don't need to pick up phone numbers from a plastic sign stuck in the dirt. So, I'm trying to imagine who in the world calls these people. Do parents threaten their children? "Hey, if you don't tell me the truth right now, I'm calling the Lie Detector Man!" Or, do wives call this guy to see if their husband has been at the bar instead of at Bible Study? And, if so, wouldn't said husbands have to be willing to submit to these tests? I'm just baffled. If you know ANYONE who would use this service, let me know. If need be, I can grab the phone number for them next time I drive by.

Monday, June 2, 2008


So, my last blog was about all the hail we got the other night, which truly, I thought was pretty impressive UNTIL I got a picture from my daughter-in-law, Erin. She, and our son, Paul, live in Rosemount, MN and they got WAY more hail than we did. Ours, by comparison, looks like wimpy hail. Still, John does have that mark about his eye where he was hit. And, the hostas still have holes. I guess I should just be grateful we don't live in Rosemount!