Tuesday, June 30

Family Reunions

Next month I will be heading off to a family reunion. My dad is one of 13 children....there are about 50 grandchildren and 50 great-children (with a few more currently on the way!).

We hold a family reunion every other summer...otherwise it is rare these 100+ family members actually get together.

This summer will be different because my grandma recently passed away. Not only will she not be present, but we'll be holding a memorial service for her on Sunday.

If you were to visit my family reunion I think it would be very telling what kind of people my grandparents were by the conversations taking place throughout the weekend. I imagine the weekend will be spent discussing my grandparents life, family memories, stories, and the legacy my grandparents left behind.

Not all 13 children and their spouses claim to love the Lord, but most of them do. Some have dedicated their lives to telling people about Him. Many of the grandkids love the Lord as well.

In the Old Testament we are told to remember: to share stories of God's faithfulness - to eat, celebrate and acknowledge what God has done. I hope we do that this year, and every year.

That would be a legacy my grandparents would be proud of!

Monday, June 29

Leaving a Legacy

"Rather than filling your life with things to make you feel significant, fill your life with significant things."

I pulled this quote from my files this weekend as comments and accolades were flooding the news about Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett's deaths. I wanted to bring clarity to my mind as to how I was spending my days here on earth.

What significant things am I filling my life with?

Immediately after Jackson and Fawcett's deaths were announced, TV reporters were vying for examples of how these two performers reached a level in life where they were able to leave a legacy. All weekend I heard of how people were impacted by Jackson's music and Fawcett's beauty.

I don't think 'leaving a legacy' is an achievement.

I don't think 'leaving a legacy' is a choice.

I think all of us will leave a legacy. It is just a matter of what kind of legacy we will leave.

I am writing my legacy every day of my life whether I acknowledge it or not.

The choices I make daily will determine the legacy I will ultimately leave behind.

How I chose to invest my time will sculpt my legacy.

What I decide to do with my God-given talents will expand my legacy.

Who I can encourage along the way will make my legacy meaningful.

I reminded myself this weekend to fill my life with significant things. That is what will make my legacy significant.

Friday, June 26

Home Improvement...Summer Entertaining

In spite of the overwhelming response to my question, "What does Kate Spade think is the greatest gift you can give your guests when entertaining?"...no one got the right answer:) At least you didn't post it!

"Being gracious when you entertain is perhaps the greatest gift you can give to your guests," she says. "It signals acceptance and patience and a go-with-the-flow style that can accommodate spills...it is also about being generous." She admires hostesses who make her feel welcomed and relaxed in their homes.

"Making your guests feel at home is truly an art and it's one worth cultivating."

These tips are from Kate Spade's book, Occasions. A fun summer read.

"Entertaining begins with a dream--then quickly gets overtaken by reality, like the size of your living room!"

Here's a fun idea to consider; "Buy a white tablecloth. Have it emboidered with the names of your favorite foods or travel destinations."

Here's her suggestion for a Fourth of July party, "On the fourth, Andy and I always make sure we see a parade...the other thing we usually do is host an outdoor summer party. Rather than using basic hardware store coolers for all the beverages, last year Andy bought large blue and red tin tubs at Target. A friend who was staying with us for the weekend made a star stencil and painted a random pattern all over the outside of the tubs using white paint. We filled them with ice and used them to keep everything cold at our picnic."

Use this weekend to bring some beauty and fun into your home. Gear up for a 4th of July celebration or be ready to host an 'un-occasion' some time soon. PLAN to be a gracious hostess even if it is a simple picnic with your kids. HAVE FUN

Thursday, June 25

Chocolate Cream Dessert

Ryan and I finished working on/updating our porch just last week. It is a 3-season porch built decades ago. We put indoor/outdoor carpet in, painted, added a ceiling fan and cleaned our windows (and by we I mean with the help of our parents!). We are loving sitting out there!

We can drink our lemonade, sip our ice tea, enjoy our grilled meats, eat our cool treats, play with Samuel and soak in summertime...without the bugs!

Here's another tasty - and very sweet - summer treat to keep you cool on warm days. Makes a lot but keeps well in the fridge.

Chocolate Cream Dessert

¾ cup cold butter (or margarine)

1 pkg (18 ¼ oz) chocolate cake mix

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 cups whipped topping, divided

3 cups cold milk

2 pkg (3.9 oz each) instant chocolate pudding mix

2 T chocolate curls, optional

In a bowl, cut butter into cake mix until crumbly. And the egg and mix well. Press into a greased 13x9x2 in baking dish. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping. Carefully spread over the crust; refrigerate.

In a bowl, whisk the milk and pudding 2 minutes; let stand until slightly thickened. Spread over the cream cheese layer. Top with the remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 serving.

Wednesday, June 24

Summer Parties

"When I was about thirty, I decided it was time to give a proper sit-down dinner. My husband, Andy, was all for it, but he also knew that considering this would be my first dinner party, a little warning was in order. So he made copies of instructions for the Heimlich maneuver, which he used as the invitation. The point wasn't lost on our frineds when Andy wrote, 'You're invited to Kate's first dinner party.'

Who's Kate?

Kate Spade, of course!! Who knew that Kate Spade had to LEARN how to entertain! This is an excerpt from Kate Spade's book, Occasions!

If you're at the library this summer with your little kiddos, you might want to check out this CUTE book. It was the cuteness that caught my eye. You don't need to read it from cover to cover, but there are fun tidbits to try on your friends and family.

Here's a sample:
"Hors d'oeuvres should be bite size. I think it's hard to bite into something with a napkin and a drink already in your hand. That's why I like mini foods, which you can just pop in."

"Be showered and dressed an hour before you expect the first guests to arrive. Even the most conscientious hostess will forget this on her pre-party checklist."

It is fun to read about her husband's involvement in their entertaining. It sounds like they make a great team in this area.

"When Andy was in Little League, his mother threw him what became his first un-occasion party, to celebrate his first hit at bat. She invited the team over, rushed home from the game, and served sandwiches, cream soda and twinkies."

What would you think is the one ingredient that 'ultimately defines a good hostess'? Think about it and I will tell you what she thinks it is on Friday:)

Tuesday, June 23

Yogurt cake

It's been very very hot in Minnesota lately. We had heat index warnings today...humidity is up...and summer is definitely here!

So I'm going to share some cool treats for warm weather.

This is my new favorite from my friend Kari! Works as both a cake or cupcakes. And would be perfect for the 4th of July next week. Can be made with strawberry, blueberry or lemon yogurt.

Yogurt Cake
1 - white cake mix with "pudding in the mix"
3/4 - C water
1/3 - C oil
3 egg whites
8 oz. strawberry yogurt (or whatever flavor you want)
8 oz. strawberry yogurt
8 oz. Cool Whip
Mix ingredients together on medium speed for 2 - 1/2 minutes. Bake 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes in 9 x 13 pan. Cool. Top with frosting and cut strawberries. Refrigerate.

Do you have a favorite cool treat to share?

Friday, June 19

Home Improvement...Influencing your Man

Gary Thomas, in Sacred Influence, says the number one rule for influencing your man is this: "Stop taking your husband for granted"

In her book, Capture His Heart, Lysa TerKeurst tells of boarding a shuttle bus at the airport, where she met a sixty-year-old man who said something very simple but astonishing. Lysa commented that people must love to see the shuttle bus pull up, because it means they're going home.
The driver laughed. "Yeah, everyone is excited to see me pull up to the curb. That's why I like my job so much. People get on the bus and smile so bif. They've just been waiting for me, and when I finally arrive, they are happy I'm here. I've often wished I had a video camera to tape people as they get on my bus with the smiling faces and glad-to-see-ya comments. I'd love for my wife to see a tape like that. That's the way I've always wanted her to look when I come home from work." (italics is mine)

Leslie Vernick, author of How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong, once asked a husband in a counseling situation what he would most like from his wife. He responded, "There was a guy at work who was clumsy and never did the job quite right. None of us guys thought much of him, but when his wife came in one day, she looked at him like he could do no wrong. All of us guys were jealous of him from then on, because we knew he wasn't perfect, but his wife treated him like he was. I would love for my wife to look at me like that." (italics is mine)

A wife has a unique opportunity to influence her husband over the years. Begin this Father's Day weekend to stop taking your spouse for granted. It will spill over to how your kids react to dad...and to mom!

Wednesday, June 17

Do You Influence Your Man?

We have 2 sons. Our oldest is Ryan, he's married to Stacy.

I lived with him for about 20 years, he lived with roommates for 5 years and now he has lived with Stacy for 8 years.

Lots has been said about the impact a mom has on her sons and I believe that is true. Values, disciplines, attitudes and many basic habits can be established by a mom...but to make a guy into a real man, well, it takes a good wife.

Ryan could live with Stacy for another 50 or so years. That will really shape him into the man he will ultimately be. He is such a fine man now, I would like to take credit for his sterling personality, but it is Stacy who will really set the bar for who Ryan becomes.

The book, Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas, has been recommended on this blog before and it is worth mentioning it again this week before Father's Day.

If you have a 'dad' living in your home, you have an incredible opportunity to influence that fellow into becoming an awesome figure in your children's lives. It's the big picture you want to keep in focus on a daily basis because that will make it possible for you to encourage your man to 'stay the course'.

Please note, I am talking about 'influencing your man', not changing him! That is where the satisfaction as a wife comes in. I know that in the last 35 years that I have lived with the father of my kids, I HAVE CHANGED...and that has made it possible for me to influence my husband.

When I realized that changing myself into a better wife was going to be a life-long job, I stopped trying to change my husband, I couldn't do both! It was only after I began to change that I really began to influence my husband for the better.

Father's Day is Sunday. Is there something that needs to be changed within you to make this Father's Day a day of gratitude and thanksgiving?

Monday, June 15

Father's Day Week!

"Father!--to God himself we cannot give a holier name."
William Wordsworth

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope."
Bill Cosby

Two quotes from Tony Dungy's new book, Uncommon. If you are looking for a great gift for your dad or the dad of your kids, consider picking up a copy of this book. The subtitle is 'Finding Your Path to Significance'.

It's a good read for a man.

Thursday, June 11

All about patterns

This week I am analyzing and considering the impact of the words of Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

What behavior and customs are actually patterns of this world that I am following?

Some patterns might be...

How number and type of dinners I cook in a week. My friend cooks 5. My other friend cooks gourmet. Another friend cooks very healthy and natural with all the best ingredients. Which one will I pattern my menu planning around?

How I speak to my husband. I could follow a of pattern of nagging, disrespect and intimidation. Or, I could choose a pattern of encouragement, respect and kindness. Are my spoken words really a pattern? So many commercials these days feature a wife rolling her eyes at her husband, making him feel like less of a man....without even being aware I am seeing patterns of disrespect on television.

Another pattern that I could easily follow is a pattern of guilt. I think a lot of what I am motivated by is guilt. I think many people in this world are motivated by guilt. And I think our society and culture plays off this guilt in telling us how to live, what to buy and what to think about ourselves and others.

A common pattern that I see in my age group is the 'next step' pattern. The next step is to buy a bigger house, a nicer, newer car, a bigger television or other electronic gadgets. The pattern we observe and are told to follow is that you always go bigger...nicer...more expensive.

As I look to the future I think about what parenting patterns will I follow? Those of friends? Those of family members? Those I observe on television or am told to follow on talk shows? I read this quote today: "The problem starts when parents raise children based on their personal experience growing up instead of using the Bible as the timeless, authoritative guide"
in relation to a book called The Parent Adventure.

Are my patterns based off my personal life experiences? I am not even sure that lifestyle patterns are consciously chosen. Maybe they are just observed, never questioned or challenged, and then lived out by the next generation?

Following a pattern is external. But if I am instructed not to live according to the pattern of this world then I need to look internally. Maybe the way to live out Romans 12:2 means that I should to take every 'pattern' and check it against God's Word. Is it Biblical? Is it healthy? Is it right for me and my family in this season of our lives?

I think this will take some time to process and truly contemplate. Just one pattern at a time....

Tuesday, June 9

Patterns of this world

Last week I was reading in Romans and came across a verse that impacted me greatly years ago. It's Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

I love this verse because it commands me 'not to conform to the world' and tells me what to do instead: be transformed by the renewing of my mind. I referred to this verse often over the years as a way to take my worldly thoughts captive and to refocus on the Lord.

Last week as I read it, it spoke to me in a different way.

As I read, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world..." I stopped and asked myself what patterns I was conforming to.

What pattern as a mom was I conforming to?

What pattern as a wife was I conforming to?

What pattern as a homemaker was I conforming to?

What pattern as a business woman, child of God, friend, etc?

This world offers many ideas, suggestions and attitudes about 'the patterns' we should follow for our various roles. We see the patterns on television. We read about them in the paper and in magazines. We observe the patterns our friends follow or live out.

Sometimes we don't even recognize that a lifestyle or belief system is a pattern....it just is.

Not all patterns are bad or negative. But someone else's pattern might not be right for me either. And if the pattern I am pursuing in my role as a wife or mom is of this world, the command is to stop conforming.

These are just some things I'm contemplating and working through. What does this look like? How does one live this out?

I'll keep thinking and let you know what I'm discovering about the pattern of this world.

Saturday, June 6

Home Improvement...Contentment!

Did you dare answer the question of the week, "Are you content?" If you did, did you find abit of discontentment lurking?

This week was really busy for me. I guess I could say that about most of my weeks, but as I was trying to keep my head above water and handle the demands of each day, my mind constantly was reaching for a level of contentment. All my tasks were good things, just too many of them. So often my daily discontent comes from over-commitment. I try to do too many things and please too many people.

Discontentment can have many roots, but for the average woman, I think a busy schedule often triggers discontent.

This weekend, for Home Improvement, can I challenge you to just take a look at your schedule? That's all. No need to search deeply for ultimate contentment. Just see if you have enough 'margin' in your life to enjoy what you are doing.

Do you have time to sit and talk with your husband?

Do you know what you are making with the groceries you purchased, or are you just throwing a dinner together because you just don't have time to look for a good recipe.

Do you check 'caller ID' everytime the phone rings and often you disregard a call from a friend because you are just too busy?

Do you have nothing to wear because it is all in the wash or it needs to be ironed?

Are you spending money on late charges because you can't find the bills you need to pay on your messy desk?

The answers to these questions may be the first place to start when you are seeking contentment.

This weekend, try to build some 'margin' into all that you choose to do. Take time to take a deep breath and enjoy what you are doing.

This is a discipline I have had to come back to often in my life.

"Contentment has everything to do with how you are doing with you." (quote from Finding Contentment by Neil Clark Warren)

If I am not doing well with me, I need some time to get myself back in balance and that takes margin...time to appreciate all that I have. It comes back to having the time to count my blessings.

Wednesday, June 3


Are you learning to be content?

Philip Yancey writes of a spiritual seeker who interrupted his busy, acquisitive life to spend a few days in a monastery. "I hope your stay is a blessed one," said the monk who showed him to his simple cell. "If you need anything, let us know, and we'll teach you how to live without it."

If contentment is learned, how are you doing? In this economy, it's a good question to ponder. Have we come to believe we NEED so many things?

Look at how Americans perceive their needs in 1970 compared with the year 2000:

Second car 20%
Second TV 3%
More than one phone 2%
Car air-conditioning 11%
Dishwasher 8%

Second car 59%
Second TV 45%
More than one phone 78%
Car air-conditioning 65%
Dishwasher 44%

(Taken from When the Game is Over it All Goes Back in the Box by John Ortberg)

Our 'needs' have changed even more since 2000 when you think of all our cell phones! Back in 1970, only 2% of Americans thought 2 phones were necessary, now we all have our OWN!

Gratitude seems to be the key for me to keep my perspective honest. I can so easily be deceived into thinking I 'need' just alittle bit more and then I will have complete contentment. Of course, if I get that 'little bit more', I am still wanting for 'more'.

I don't want this economy to dampen the blessings I have this summer. I have found if I fill my mind with the blessings I have, I don't have the desire to wander the shopping malls wondering what I am 'needing'.

The summer of 2009 can be the summer of ENOUGH...if I am grateful and concentrate on 'learning to be content'.

Monday, June 1

It's June!

"Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift." (John Ortberg)

What a great reminder that is as we head into June. Summers can get so busy and so out of control for a woman. The kids are around and heading out the door, husbands want impromtu excursions, cooking changes and the house always needs a good cleaning. Gratitude often goes out the window for me when I am just trying to hold on to some order in my life. That is why I have incorporated the summer holidays into a celebration of 'life as a gift'.

Early spring, it is easy to be grateful. The warmth, the blue sky, the chirping birds, the new signs of life...they all make me whisper a prayer of thanksgiving.

By Memorial Day, I am usually in high gear and my 'to do' list for summer needs to be implemented so I am focused on 'doing'. That is why I have made it a ritual to be grateful for the 'gift of life' over the Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July and again on Labor Day. I spend a brief amount of time writing out what is going on in my life and what I am grateful for. It has been an exercise that keeps me centered and slowed down. Usually, Memorial Day comes the last week of May, so as I turned my calendar to June today, I reminded myself to celebrate this wonderful summer season and just enjoy the moments.

Contentment is rooted in being grateful. Paul says in Philippians 4:11 that contentment is 'learned' so by setting a reminder for myself as I turn the calendar on June 1st, July 4th and Sept 1st, I am 'learning' to be grateful and develop some roots of contentment in my soul.

I turned the calendar this morning, and I also turned my attitude around as I listed what I was thankful for at the end of May 2009. It's the good old summertime, don't let it slip away with all your busyness. Count your blessings and celebrate life as the gift that it is.