Sunday, November 28, 2010


Tonight on the way out of Kmart, a presumably homeless man asked if I could spare some change.

I had a ziploc bag of change in my purse.

I handed the bag to the man.

His face lit up like the lights on my tree- brilliant, shining, and full of life.

He thanked me. Then, he offered his name.

He wanted to be known. It caught me off-guard.

He thanked me again. I wished him good luck.

Change. I offered him change (and, of all things, luck) and he offered me his gratitude and his name.

. . .

This small exchange weighs on my mind tonight.
I gave change.
A homeless man named Travis Mills may have changed my perspective.

This season, I want to acknowledge and celebrate individuals. I want to give with a grateful heart.

I want to~
Change priorities.
Change activities.
Change perspective.
Change focus.

I want changed giving.

. . .
I'll let you know the strides I make in this quest of my heart.

My Princess (Bride)

Every year, on or around my daughter's birthday, my daughter puts on my wedding dress. It's a sweet tradition (that I got from Jill).

My Princess (Bride) is 3.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Food on Friday: Maple Syrup Cake

This cake smells heavenly when it's baking. Think warm maple syrup. The cake tastes amazing. I've never had anything like it.

You don't need a fancy cake pan. (But I sure I love the one my mom gave me.)

Maple Syrup Cake

2 3/4 cake flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I didn't have fresh)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 vanilla extract
16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Have all of the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees. **Using a small pastry brush, brush the inside of the cake pan with softened shortening or butter, making sure to coat the detailing in the pan. Dust with cake flour; tap out excess flour. (**I just used no-stick bakery spray.)

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition just until incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Tap the cake pan gently on a work surface to loosen the cake. Invert the pan on wax paper or a serving surface and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving.

Be sure to check out more tasty recipes at Ann Kroeker's "Food on Fridays".

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobbled Up

My kids love making the turkey.

They really love gobbling it up.

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.

I am thankful for my family.

It's fantastic to have my parents in town for the holiday. I'm so thankful for them!

A self-portrait of Daddy, while at work (Don't you love that he's participating in "no shave November"?).

These kids love fruit turkeys!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Like a Little Child

It was one of those Sunday mornings.

I held her but I couldn't contain her. My daughter did not want to be in my lap and she definitely did not want to be still and quiet.

My 5 year old kept asking questions. I kept hushing him.

My 7 year old wanted a pencil, too. I shushed him.

At one point, my 9 year old leaned over from the row behind us and did something to the 5 year old. The 5 year old whined his brother's name loudly in protest.

All the while, my daughter was trying to color on the hymnal. The church bulletin was not right. The clean white pages of the hymnal beckoned to her. She managed to get a few scribbles in as I answered spelling questions for my 5 year old.

Then, we prayed. Or, the minister led the church in prayer. Over and over during the prayer, I repeated, "Shhhhh! We are praying." My last admonishment was more urgent and accurate as I whispered, "SHH! He is praying."

My children love coming to church. Most Sundays, I am stressed during the short period they are all in the service with me. (They all go to separate places after the children's time of the service.)

My children love coming to church.

As I watched my children crowd the minister during children's time, I couldn't help but wonder about the reason the disciples rebuked the children that were brought to Jesus. (Matthew 19:13-15) Were they acting like kids?

Today, I wanted to contain my children so those around me could worship without interruption.

I wonder, would my behavior draw indignation from Jesus? (Mark 10:14)

Is what I am offering God as heartfelt and earnest as my son's drawing on an offering envelope?

I need
~a simple faith
~an ardent desire to worship
~transparency with myself, those around me, and God
~a spirit that cannot be quieted

Mark 10:15 "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Delightful Blend of Laughter and Love

Not much beats watching your kids wait outside for thirty minutes longing to see a car that they won't recognize because it is a rental.

Not much can compare to seeing exchanged smiles and hugs between the generations.

There's a sweeter-than-sugar sweetness when your daughter kisses your dad.

The living room and kitchen are full of life, love, and the sounds of laughter during game time.

My dad, a former pilot disabled from a stroke, flies again with the aid of his grandsons as they teach him to play the flying game on Wii Resort.

There are bedtimes stories and prayers. Those pictures are images tucked away, warming my heart.

~Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. ~Alex Haley~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You

For the Veterans (including our Daddy, Poppa, Aunt Carrie and Uncle John):

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Signed with Love

This morning I received indirect criticism about a gift I recently gave. I was taken aback. I felt irritated. And, then I realized it didn't matter. I gave from the heart. The recipient is grateful. What was said doesn't even matter. The criticism gave me cause to consider gift giving. Why do I give gifts? Does the item express my heart? With Christmas around the corner, I am shaken by the desire to change the gifts I give.

I give to others because I care about them.

I rarely know what to get people.

My gifts usually don't reflect my feelings. My gifts are tokens of affection, often bought in haste because I am under a deadline to meet a special occasion. I don't get something for everyone I wish I could. I am often too late for special events and I miss celebrating someone special all together. None of it -a bought gift or a forgotten gift- reflects the love I have for friends and family.

I want this year's Christmas to be different.

I don't know how I am going to change.

I spent the morning listening to Christmas music, thinking about gift giving and the reason that I want to give to others during the holidays.

I want to show my kids how to give.
They need to give this year. They need to see me giving from my heart.

I don't know what to do differently. My heart aches for change. I want to show more love to those I know. It's plain and simple but exceedingly difficult during the busy holiday season.

I wonder, how can I celebrate giving with my kids?

I wonder, can my Christmas shopping be more than a checklist?

I'm praying over this and looking for ideas. Let me know what you do- big or small- to keep gift giving centered on the meaning behind it.

I want my gifts to be signatures of my love.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Going Deeper

Tonight I visited with a friend- a new friend.

We've known each other for a while. We are just becoming friends. We are moving from the past being acquaintance friends to being friends.
What does that mean? I don't know, except that it is more. It was connecting when there isn't a reason or commitment to do so.

We talked about kids, the school, our families. We were building a bridge in our relationship. In one sense it was just your average get-to-know you conversation. On the surface, I'm sure that's what it could have sounded like to the others around us. For me, it was heart-warming. It was refreshing.

We talked and we listened.
We laughed.
It was more than a friendly smile, wave or nod, as we pick up our kids.

All it took was for both of us being willing to step out of our routine and do something outside of a scheduled activity.

I am reminded:
Going deeper in friendship means investing when it's not required or even suggested.

I want to talk. I want to listen.
I want to invest in others.

I give my time to so much.
I want to give my time to individuals.
Maybe I can only give to a few at a time.

I want to go deeper. I want to give more meaningfully.

I want to be present when it's not required.
I want to plan ahead.
I want to make a point to make plans outside of events.
I want to invest in friendships.
I want to go deeper.

This is not easy. It's not easy when you have kids. It's not easy when you work. It's not easy when you are involved in your community.

I'm convinced it matters that I take time to show others than I care... about them.

That person that I respect.
That person that I think is so nice.
That person that like.
That person that I don't know but I am around constantly.

I want to show them that I care.

Call. Email. Or Call. Text. Write a note. Or Call.
Do something unexpected.

I want to go deeper. I want to develop my connections with those around me.

I hope this longing never subsides.
I pray I will always go deeper in my relationships.

You are relational.
There is no limit to love.
Go Deeper.
Do More.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #144

If you've been around my blog for a while, or if you are a in-real-life friend of mine, you know that my husband is currently working in a different state. Well, he's home this week and we are having a wonderful time as a family.

This week, I am thankful for my husband's visit and for my family being together.

... and Gingerbread lattes.

Today was a fun day.
We went to my favorite pizza place.

Then, we surprised the kids and took them to a bounce house place. We all had a blast.

Yep, I've pretty much had this cheesy grin on my face all day.