It's All Good

Just Another Day in the Life

So Grateful

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt:Gratitude.

I made it!  Every day in May.  Except the 27th, which I made up later.  I’ll admit, I’m more than a little proud.  I don’t know if I built a new habit or not…that remains to be seen.  But the truth is, I really enjoyed taking a little time at the end of my day to sit and reflect on a theme. 

I am so grateful for this little adventure.  Big thanks to Sunday from lovehappydaily for all of the prompts, and the linkup that connected me with some new blog friends, including another UCC clergywoman!  Amy, I owe you an email…

Thanks to all who read, commented, and contributed.  You haven’t heard the last from me, promise.


following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt:Best advice you’ve received lately.



following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt: What have you said ‘yes’ to today?

Today I said yes to:

  • sunshine
  • wearing red
  • taking the long way back after lunch
  • conversations with friends
  • orange soda
  • oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
  • list-making
  • photo-organizing
  • tv-watching


Little Brother

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt: Family.  What do you love?  Best traits? What crazy genetics do you have in common?  Fave photo?


This is not just one of my favorite photos of my brother and me, it’s one of my favorite photos from last year, hands-down.  It was taken at the first birthday party for my twin nephews.  My brother has four children, four and under.  Their house is always a lot of fun!

One of the things I love about this picture is that it shows both how alike and how similar we are. 

In looks, we could almost be complete opposites.  My brother takes after my dad’s Italian side, while I take after my mom’s German roots.  When we were growing up, kids at school would sometimes think we were kidding when we said we were related.  Of course, I think that’s a little silly.  We definitely have some things in common looks-wise. I mean, check it out, we totally have the same eyes!

But it’s our personalities that really prove we grew up in the same house.  We have similar senses of humor.  We both come off as quiet at first, but can get really crazy when we feel comfortable with those around us.  We share some of the same mannerisms, and recently, my husband was blown away when he heard my brother hiccuping after eating a jalapeno popper.  “It’s too spicy,” he explained.  Mike thought I was the only one in the world who got hiccups after eating spicy food.

The birthday party was Dr. Seuss themed, but I thought it was hilarious that we chose practically the same shirt to wear.

We fought a good deal growing up, but I’m really grateful for my brother.  We have great conversations, now that we’re adults, and it really is an inspiration to see him with his kids.  Our family is pretty darn awesome, if I do say so myself.

Well, I almost made it every day.  Last night I got caught up in some drama with the house-buying adventure, and once that was finished, fell promptly asleep.  Oh well, onward we go…following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s (yesterday’s) prompt: Share a project you’ve been working on.

As I’m continuing to prepare to say goodbye to my current congregation, one of the projects I definitely want to complete is an attempt to scrapbook my time there.  Years ago, I told myself I was going to separate my “church” pictures from my “real life” pictures.  But over time, the two just began to overlap.  Last summer, I had a brief sabbatical, and I took some time to go through the piles and organize them by date.

Then they sat for a year.

Now, I’m doing my best to get them into albums, so I can share them with the congregation during the reception after my last Sunday.  But it’s a huge task!  9 1/2 years of memories take up a lot of space.  Plus, we suffered a hard-drive crash sometime last year, and I know I’m missing some big events, including a youth trip to Biloxi, Mississippi to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  That trip was pivitol for me in taking charge of some pastoral authority, and it’s a real loss to not be able to revisit the memories in pictures.

Still, I am amazed at what I do have. 


Years and years of trips, retreats, holidays, and everyday life.  Visual proof of growth and change and transformation.  All gathered in one place.  All waiting to be placed in plastic sleeves and enjoyed as albums.  So far, I have my stacks of pictures.  I’ve ordered more photo books from B & H Photo, where they were half the price of the craft store, with no shipping fee and no tax. 

Next step is to just do it, and try not to feel too nostalgic as I go.


October, 2004 – my first month at this church.


January, 2005. These kids are all grown-ups, now.

Meet Jess

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt:Invite someone to guest post for you.

When I saw that today’s prompt would be to invite a guest poster, I immediately thought of Jess.  Jessica S. Frank is a poet and a journalist, who is working on her first novel.  She is also a wife, and a mother to three hilarious children.  She and I have been friends since elementary school.  I hope you enjoy what she has to say, and please check out her blog to read more of her beautiful writing.



Both of my grandmothers loved flowers. I know a lot of grandmothers do. It’s kind of a grandmotherly thing to like. One grandmother lived on a farm in North Carolina and would get the almost-dead plants from the local store and revive them back to life in her greenhouse. The other lived between New York and Chicago, and was part of things like the Glenview Roses Club and subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens.

I am not a grandmother, not for 20 more years, at least (you hear that, children), but I seem to have this thing in common with that segment of the population. Every year, when the Wisconsin slush finally recedes, I am at Home Depot or our local greenhouse, picking out the varieties for my hanging baskets, stock-piling seeds, and waiting until Mother’s Day to plant.

We had flowers and stuff when I was growing up. Okay, we had landscaping. We never had a vegetable garden or grew anything that wasn’t in 2-D schematics next to our patio. But I remember even then trying to plant things…cucumbers, carrots, sunflowers. Once, I even bought a wildflower mix and threw it in the back yard. Later that summer, my mother asked just how much I paid for the weeds that were now growing along her stone sculptures.

My husband and I bought a house 9 years ago. I was 6 months pregnant with our second son, but I was out here in the June heat, trying to spruce up the joint with some Impatients in two planters. The next year, I dug out a patch of our back lawn over the course of a month and tried a vegetable garden. It looked like I was digging a grave.

Every year, through feast and famine, I did something to make my outsides sing. Just a little here and there. So now, I have something beautiful to look at during the summer. Plants are growing, multiplying, and maturing. My knowledge of such things is doing the same.

Every morning, I am up watering my plants like an old lady. I have eight hanging baskets, five large planters, some smaller pots on my patio, and various bushes, bulbs, flowers, and seeds I’ve acquired along the way. I bought some raised planters last week and got to work with each of those, putting in a total of 50 cubic feet of dirt. I planted all of my seeds last Sunday; today, I saw most of them poking through.

(My son called my new vegetable garden the “Museum of things I won’t eat.” I have green beans, red peppers, two different kinds of lettuce, zucchini, summer squash, spaghetti squash, sunflowers, and a few pumpkins. Sorry honey, I can’t find that Cinnamon Toast Crunch seed packet yet.)

Last summer, after a week away, I was on the phone with a friend as I pulled up to the house. “Oh no,” I sighed. “No one watered my flowers.” My friend laughed at me and said it was such a weird thing to hear someone my age complain about. I guess I’m an old soul. But he was right. I have had zero conversations with my peers about how our gardens are coming along. Ze-ro. But that’s okay. I’m content with myself and my old lady hobbies. I am my own validation. That, and my haul of homegrown veggies in about a month.


I took down the old gravesite garden, but want to keep the strawberries. My husband walked past this today and said, “I don’t even want to ask what you’re doing here.

A Little List

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt:  A list for the week ahead.

I love making lists.  A while back I filled out a list like the one below every day for a week, took pictures, and made a sweet little scrapbook. It was such a neat glimpse into my life at the time.  Using the same list to check in with the week ahead. 

This week I am:

Listening: To my re-loaded ipod. Mike does this every now and then for me, and there are always some great surprises.

Eating: Meals out of our freezer, in an attempt to use up what we have.

Drinking: Mike’s homebrew.  Another batch has just finished. This one is a honey IPA, and it’s awesome.

Wearing: Summer clothes!  Finally.  Just got the boxes out of the attic.

Feeling: A little overwhelmed.  Four more weeks at my current church, then some big changes ahead.

Wanting: More time to get things done.  Always.

Needing: To get more sleep. 

Thinking: Of all that needs to be finished before we can move.

Enjoying: A great holiday weekend. 

Wondering: What comes next!

Dinner Guests

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt: If you could have 3 people to dinner tonight, who would you invite?


I love having people over for dinner.  There are few things that make me as happy as a table full of guests sharing dinner.

When I was young, my extended family would gather every weekend at my grandparent’s house in Chicago for a meal that would last practically all day.  Course after course would come out, and the kids would get bored far before the adults would get full.  We’d run off to play tag or just run around the neighborhood, returning just in time for dessert of some sort.

My memories of those weekend meals run deep, and when I was in seminary, I did my best to recreate the feeling of family tablesharing by inviting my neighbors to dinner on Sundays.  A handful of us would drag a long table from the storage room in the basement up the flight of stairs to my tiny apartment.  I’d throw together a simple dinner and we’d share stories about our field education churches, talk about our studies, and generally enjoy each others’ company. 

As Mike and I prepare to move, one of the things we’ve been most excited to talk about is being closer to our family and friends.  As we make plans for our new home, the discussions almost always include ideas about having people over to eat.

So, it’s pretty hard for me to pare it down to three people, even just for a theoretical exercise.

Let’s just say, if anyone wants to come over and eat, I’d be happy to have them!

The Comments People Make

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts.  Today’s prompt: Write a post about a particularly good or controversial comment someone left you.

I haven’t been blogging regularly very long, so I haven’t had any extreme comments online, either good or bad.  I definitely have enjoyed having comments here, and connecting with people I otherwise wouldn’t have met has been really cool.

In real life however?  It’s amazing what people think is appropriate to say out loud, and I have heard some real doozies.

I am well-loved by my congregation, and I am far more likely to receive a complement that a criticism.  But when they come, wow!

The key is remembering that most of the time, comments are less about me personally, and far more about the person speaking.  It’s amazing what you can uncover is you stay in conversation with someone who is being offensive. 

I’m thinking of one woman in particular who came out swinging in regards to a decision made at the church. After a little digging, it was revealed that her mother was very ill, and she was seeking security in her life. The small change she was protesting brought up all of her fears that the world was rapidly shifting around her, without her permission or control.

It’s not always easy. Unkind or unthoughtful comments can definitely hurt my feelings. I’m still working through an observation thrown at me recently about how it’s a shame this church doesn’t have a strong youth program. Considering that the youth program has been my focus, my area of expertise, and the heart of my ministry here for over 9 years, yeah, that stung a little. Especially since it’s so untrue!

But again, we can’t control other people. We can only manage ourselves and our responses. If anything, I was reminded that communication is important. We could have the best youth program in the entire world, but if we never share what’s happening, how would anyone know about it?

As I prepare to leave this congregation, I occasionally think about the “legacy” I’ll leave behind. I will be remembered in different ways by different people. I will be missed by some, and others will be dancing with joy as I walk out the door.

But I know I’ve learned a lot here, and will take many lessons with me onto the next.

Let it Live

following along with lovehappydaily‘s Every Day in May blog prompts. Today’s prompt: Share a video clip that you are loving at the moment. It could be as simple as a song on YouTube or an inspirational speaker on TED Talks.

So much of what is packaged as “Christian Music” makes me cringe. I have very little patience for most of the crap that’s out there, painting followers of Christ as whiny, bland, boring, self-centered, conservative, and dull.

This is why I’m so proud of my friend Rob. Rob is a great guy, and an amazing Pastor. He is genuine, and true, and cares for people no matter what. I tease him sometimes, “God loves you best, Rob Leveridge,” because he is just such an inspiration. Recently, Rob wrote and produced a CD of Christian music that doesn’t suck. He lifts up progressive values tied with faithfulness and grace.

The SALT Project, another group I admire greatly, made a video for Rob’s song “Let it Live,” and the first time I watched it, I watched it three times in a row. Once (or twice) is probably enough for normal people. Hope you enjoy.

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