Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pray for the Children

Children's Cup is one of the mission organizations that we have worked with on our trips to Africa. They are an awesome organization with a passion to minister to the AIDS orphans in Africa. Forty Days of Prayer for the Children starts on August 1.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't fully understand how this whole prayer thing works. I mean, how does my prayer affect a change in a continent nearly 10,000 miles away? Though I can't explain why, I do know that when God's people agree in prayer miracles start to happen. Would you join me in praying for some miracles in the lives of the sweet children of Africa? Click on this link, "Forty Days of Prayer for the Children," to get more information. I am excited to see what God is going to do!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Enough Photos

We now are in possession of enough photos for an entire Niagara Falls coffee table book. We've seen the Falls from the Canadian side, the American side, from the top, from the bottom, and from nearly inside. We haven't, however, gone over the Falls in a barrel. It's highly discouraged (read illegal), and seriously, you'd have to be nuts to try that.

We did hear an amazing story about a seven year-old boy, Roger Woodward, who went over the Falls wearing only a swimsuit and a life jacket, as the result of a boating accident in 1960. He miraculously lived and his 14 year-old sister was rescued just seconds before plunging over the falls. What I like best about this story are Roger's words recorded years later in this article.
Roger gave all the glory to God claiming it wasn't luck, fate, or the spirit of Lelawala (a young Indian maiden who canoed over the Falls to avoid being married to the oldest man in the village.) Roger states, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that is was the hand of God that saved him that fateful day in July 1960. Cool!

The view of the Canadian "horseshoe" falls from the American side.

The American Falls from the American side, which is far more park-like, less busy and less commercialized than the Canadian side. It's not that the Americans aren't making money, they are just making it differently. I'm glad I was able to see the Falls from every angle. All angles are beautiful and unique in their own way.

John loved our journey under the American Falls. His favorite was listening to the squeals of the kids as they got soaked by the Falls. Good times!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Conquering the Falls

A couple of months ago, John and I went to see the movie, “The Bucket List.” As a result, we’ve started labeling the things we’d like to do “someday” as an item on our bucket list – things we’d like to do before we die. Now mind you, we don’t plan on dying anytime soon, but there are lots of things on our list so we decided we’d better get started. Since our 33rd anniversary is just a couple weeks away we thought we’d celebrate it with a trip to Niagara Falls, one of the "places we'd like to visit" on our list.

We arrived yesterday and today we conquered the Falls. My legs feel more like the Falls have conquered me, but I digress. We are currently on the Canadian side of the Falls, which we’ve been told is the prettier side. I have to say, the Canadians do seem to have the better view and have figured out how to capitalize on their advantage.

I left home knowing only that I wanted to ride on “The Maid of the Mist;” the boat that takes you as close to the base of the falls as is humanly possible without actually going over in a barrel. Who knew there’d be so much more to do here? With the help of an “Adventure Pass” we’ve done the “Journey Behind the Falls,” the White Water Walk,” the “Maid of the Mist,” and for a small extra fee, “The Whirlpool Aero Car.” All were great fun, but my original instincts were correct - “The Maid of the Mist” was amazing. Granted, it would have been a wee bit more fun without the other 500 people on the boat with us, but still, it was pretty awe inspiring to be that close to the Falls, not to mention we got to wear those cool blue “souvenir” ponchos. The need for a blue poncho was obvious shortly after we arrived. All the cool people had one and I’m not one to be left out.

Both the Canadian Falls and the American Falls are incredible works of God. Everyone should see it at least once in a lifetime. If it’s not on your “bucket list,” you should seriously consider adding it.

Don't we look "cool" in our blue ponchos. We looked even better AFTER we were soaked by the Falls.
If you get to the Falls at the exact right time of day, you can see the rainbow created by the sun shining through the mist of the falls. It's extraordinarily beautiful!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Learning on Every Level

This past week has been particularly busy. Good, but busy. I spent the beginning of last week at a cabin in Cumberland with some old friends (literally and figuratively.) For the past 10 years this group of women has met for a week of relaxation, eating, boating, crafts, eating, swimming (you really don't want to witness this), playing games and eating. Are you catching my drift? Most of us used to work together at the Cannon Falls School but we've added a few to the group over the years. We range in age from late 40's to mid-70's. It's an interesting mix but we always have a good time.

What does this have to do with learning, you might be wondering? Well, last week the beautiful, full moon was glistening off the lake as it rose one evening. Someone commented that the fairy trail on the lake was beautiful. I was stymied. What in the world is a fairy trail? Turns out, there are at least a few people who call the moon's reflection on the lake a fairy trail. Who knew? I asked them what they called it when the sun reflects off the lake. It is apparently called "the sun reflecting on the lake." I'm thinking of making up a new term.

Switching gears completely from a bunch of crazy women to well, another group of crazy women, I spent Friday and Saturday at the Beth Moore Living Proof Live conference in Minneapolis. That woman can teach! Her three Bible lessons were on "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." I learned tons in the short time at the conference but my favorite thing she said is this: "When you find yourself between a rock and a hard place - press into the rock. Jesus is the Rock." So often we tend to turn away from God when we are struggling. This is the very time we should be pressing in and leaning on His strength instead of our own.

My crazy, busy week ended on Sunday night with an amazing "Super Chick Night" at our church. Each month at River Valley we have a women's worship service (Chick Night) and they are incredible! This month we pulled out all the punches to make it "Super Chick Night." The service started with my friend, Heather Rogers, singing "Dreaming in Color." She hit it out of the park and when the streamer rockets exploded so did the audience. What a blast!

Helen Burns from Vancouver, Canada was here and did an awesome job. She spoke on what makes a woman beautiful. You might guess that what makes a woman beautiful has nothing to do with the clothes she wears, her weight, her height, or the color of her hair. Hopefully, her message will be posted on the River Valley Church website in the next day or two so if you missed it you can hear the podcast. What a great week with some amazing learning opportunities!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Saying Good-bye to a New Friend

It was a sad day around here. I'm probably the only one in my family who is truly sad but sad I am. You see, today was my last delivery from Simon Delivers. I've mentioned before how much I hate going to the grocery store. Well, a couple of months ago a woman I met from Cannon Falls told me how much she loves Simon Delivers and even how much money she saved by not making a bunch of trips to the grocery store. So, I tried it and after figuring out how to order a week's worth of groceries in less than 10 minutes, I was hooked. I'm not totally convinced I was saving tons of money, but the little extra I may have paid was worth it in comparison to the time and frustration I spend at the local grocery store.

Every time I ordered, the same young man, Ryan, would deliver my orders. He was reliable, friendly, and quick, and if I wasn't here, he'd always leave my order in the garage, per my request. It was announced on Tuesday that Simon Delivers is quitting business so when Ryan arrived today we were both almost in tears as we mourned our losses and said our good-byes. His loss, of course, is far greater than mine. He's losing a job; I'm just losing time. Ryan will recover. He's very competent and any company would be lucky to have him. I'll recover too, I'm sure, but until then, John might have to do the grocery shopping. That's when the sadness will hit him.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Walk in the Big Woods

Saturday had to be the most perfect weather day that we've had in many, many years. 75°, sunny, not humid, and a slight breeze. O.K., it might have been a titch more than a slight breeze, but still, not a bad day. We decided to take advantage of the weather and go to Big Woods State Park in Nerstrand, Minnesota. Big Woods State Park is basically out in the middle of nowhere, but it's worth the drive. It's actually only 30 minutes from our house, but then again, we basically live next door to the middle of nowhere.

Admittedly, Scott had to cajole John and I a bit to get us to go. We don't divert easily from the plans that we've made in our minds but basically shared with no one. But, once our minds were changed we were excited about spending the gorgeous day doing something other than computer work. And, if you are going to go to Big Woods State Park, you want to go on a breezy day. I'm guessing on calm days the deep woods might be full of mosquitoes that would challenge even the strongest of bug repellents.

Before we headed out on our hike, John and Scott consulted the map at John's insistence. I'm more of a forge ahead and figure your way out later kind of girl, but John likes a plan. In hindsight, it might have been wise for me to check the map also because, as it turned out, they took me on the "most rigorous" trail in the park. Hmmmm....

Even though our trail was rigorous, it was also beautiful. And, we stopped for LOTS of pictures which gave us all an occasional break. Of course, the first part of the hike was all downhill!

At the bottom of the hill we found the "hidden falls" which was our aim in taking this particular trail. It was worth the effort and was even more beautiful than the picture portrays.

John and I are still smiling in this picture because it's BEFORE our walk back up the hill. Once we got to the top of the hill I'd give John the evil eye when he pulled out the camera. In truth, it was more of a verbal warning like "don't you dare take my picture." Trust me, no one wants to see that! All in all though, it was a great day!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm not the most organized person in the world but I do generally have a plan for the day. You know, get up, exercise, eat breakfast, meet with friend, read a book, church meeting, etc. No day is ever the same and some things get skipped, usually the exercise. But, today I'm having what I call a "what do I do now" moment. My morning went somewhat as planned (even the exercise part) and this afternoon I had an appointment scheduled in Apple Valley at 2:00, which requires me to leave home at 1:30 (at the latest).

At 1:25 a storm hit Cannon Falls. The wind was intense and my thought was, "it'll be done in less than 10 minutes, I'll just wait it out and maybe be a few minutes late." In five minutes things seemed to quiet down so I proceeded to leave home. At the bottom of the street the road was blocked by a downed tree branch. Still, I continued on using an alternate route to circumvent the tree. A little further down the road I noticed more storm damage and began to wonder if driving in this storm was really my smartest move. At this point, still not even out of Cannon Falls, I turned on the radio and heard about tornado warnings for almost every city I'd be driving through on my way to Apple Valley. It was then I determined that my need to live was greater than my need to be at my appointment at 2:00 so I came home, arriving right before the tornado sirens went off.

So, here it is, now 2:50 and I'm stymied. I don't have a plan for this period of time. Mind you, there are hundreds of things I could do. I could read, do laundry, write a lesson I need to teach later this month, take a nap, but I'm totally paralyzed without my plan. I'm sure I'll recover here in a few minutes. At 3:00, my plan was to find a coffee shop and work on my lesson. I may still do that at home, but it just isn't the same. Until I figure it out I think I'll peruse the Internet in search of the perfect swimsuit. That should take up some time and who knows, maybe I'll find something this time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Cilantro Theory

Last week I sent my husband, John, to the store in search of green onions for our 4th of July potato salad. He returned home to report there weren't any green onions at the store. I was a tad bit shocked, but as I mentioned before in this blog, our little grocery store is pretty lame. John went on to tell me that after extensive searching he picked up what he thought MIGHT be green onions. He took his choice to the cashier who informed him that no, what he had in his hands was cilantro, not green onions. (Once again, the Lake of the Woods County horticulture champion award baffles me.)

Enter now, John's cilantro theory. In case you haven't heard, the latest belief in the salmonella outbreak issue is that tomatoes are not the culprit at all but instead it might have something to do with peppers, onions, or cilantro. Here is how John sees it. Women, across America, are sending their husbands to the store for green onions. Said husbands get to the store and apparently none of them qualify, really, to be horticulture champion of any county, thereby mistaking cilantro for green onions. These men, trying their very best to please their wives, pick up the cilantro only to later find out that indeed they are not green onions and the cilantro must be returned to the produce case. Well, now they are "infected" with all the germs from the men who picked them up by mistake. Surely that could account for over 900 cases of food poisoning throughout the country, couldn't it?

John shared his theory at dinner the other night. Our youngest son, Scott, just looked at us and said, "Sometimes, I don't know if you two are a comedy routine or just nuts!" It's a thin line to be sure.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Small Town Americana

You just can't beat a small town when it comes time to celebrate the 4th of July! Our traditions have changed over the years but we NEVER miss the parade!

Erin, our daughter-in-law, and Scott, our son (not married to Erin) waiting for the parade.

The calliope was a fun addition to the parade this year. Of course, there were the standard entries, also. Marching bands, political candidates, horses, fire trucks and ambulances, motorcycles and scouts, not to mention a couple of semi's, which I've never understood.

After the parade we headed for the harness races as the fairgrounds. For each race you were allowed to guess who you thought would win. Everyone who guessed right had their name thrown in a hat and winners were drawn from that group. First prize was $5, but the second and third prizes were the most coveted. Things like mugs from the local realtors and t-shirts were plentiful. Who can't use another mug or two? This isn't gambling, mind you, no money is spent to enter, and even if you guess correctly, you are still unlikely to win the prize, but it gives you a horse to root for and makes the whole thing so much more exciting!

Erin and I were practicing our surprised look for when they called our name after our horse won. We never had to really use it.

The 4th is never complete without fireworks!

O.K., this picture isn't really from the 4th of July. It's from the 3rd, but it is a perfect picture of small town Americana. Not because the white SUV is parked going the wrong way, even in Cannon Falls that isn't allowed on the downtown streets, but because of people's response. At first, I was a little puzzled, and admittedly somewhat appalled (o.k.,let's be honest, I was annoyed), to see that someone had parked facing the wrong direction. But, once I found out the driver was from Norway it seemed to be o.k. I learned this tidbit of information from the girl who works inside the hardware store. Apparently, the driver and his family came into the store to purchase something and their homeland was revealed in a conversation there. When I asked if anyone had told them that they can't park that direction the hardware store employee said, "No, we just thought it was so cute." Only in Cannon Falls!

I hope your 4th was as exciting (or maybe even more so) than mine! This is a great country and I'm glad we take time each year to celebrate the freedoms we've been afforded because of the sacrifices of so many!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Same Kind of Different as Me

I didn't get my second book finished on vacation but I did get it started. And, once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Same Kind of Different as Me is one amazing book! If I had the funds, I'd buy 1000 copies and pass it out to everyone I know, and some I don't know. It's that good! In fact, I would say that there are two books that have made me look at things in a way I never have before. One is Safely Home by Randy Alcorn and this book, Same Kind of Different as Me.

Same Kind of Different as me is the story of Denver Moore, a man who grew up on a plantation in the South, virtually a slave, after slavery had been ablolished, and Ron Hall, an international art dealer. By the time they met up in the 1990's Denver was homeless and living in Fort Worth, Texas, and Ron was living high on the hog. Their story, and that of the woman who brought them together, will change the way you think about the homeless, and even about the miraculous power of God. As Denver says, "our limitations are God's opportunities."

While this story is true, it reads like a novel. You will not regret the time you take to read this book. It is a story that will make you laugh, make you cry, and change your world.