It took 30 years, but she’s finally done it.

Minnesota brainwashed me.

This shoulda-been-born-in-California-Summer-Loving-Flip-Flop-Wearing Minnesota girl is…

E.X.C.I.T.E.D. for winter.

Never. Ever. in my life did I ever think that I would say that, but I’m thinking fall seasonal allergies may have something to do with it ;).

This past month at a team bbq for one of Adam’s classes, I mentioned that I LOVE Minnesota and couldn’t imagine making anywhere else home, at least not long term. This was in the presence of a transplant from Georgia, one from Panama, and others born and raised in Minnesota. Nearly ALL of them looked at me with that crazy look, you know, the one of “what kind of stuff have you been smoking?” But I stood by my claim, giving the best rationale I could muster under pressure- “I can’t imagine living anywhere that didn’t have all four seasons” I said with a smile.

There is just something about the nearly constant change and the cyclical nature of that change that is so healthy for us. My dad always says, “If you don’t ilke the weather in Minnesota, wait a minute.”


The cycle of the seasons is like our lives. There are seasons of new growth and regeneration, rejoicing rest and time on the beach, times of loss and comfort food, and times spent in a deep freeze of struggle, wondering if the sun will ever be warm again.

If you don’t live in Minnesota, you might not know what 30 degrees below zero feels like physically, but I bet your soul does. The times when it hurts to smile, when you wonder if you’ll ever be able to take a deep breath, and your snot freezes… ok, that last one might be stretching a bit. Change challenges us and reminds us of our strength. There are good reasons that people refer to us as “hearty Minnesotans.”

But it’s not all Seasonal Affective Disorder and frozen nostrils up here, there are good things too- like the fact that enjoying a Mint Condition from Caribou Coffee when it’s cold out is exponentially better than when it’s just nice out. Warm, fuzzy scarves are a GREAT way to look like you accessorize :). And summer?! Well, you appreciate summer a WHOLE lot more when you’ve come through a long winter.

Just like the seasons outside our windows, the seasons inside our hearts have so much to offer. Seasons teach us patience and how to find hope. Seasons teach us hard work (think: MARRIAGE, raising kids!, building a career…). Seasons teach us how to relax and celebrate. And seasons teach us how to dust off the running shoes and start over.

Life is a continual cycle of seasons- growth and change.

Our challenge is to find the latte that comforts us and the growth that makes us stronger in every season.

How about you? How do you find comfort in winter and rejoice in summer?


To All My Single Ladies

Dear Single or Married-yet-without-kids Women,

I have a few things I’d like to share from my heart. Because five months ago… I just didn’t know. In the same breath, I’d like to offer a confession to moms who have gone before me and words of caution for those coming behind me.

When I was where you are now, single (or married w/o kiddos) and working, I used to think- erroneously- that being a stay at home mom was boring. I wondered what my friends who stayed home DID all day. This was never in a mean spirit or in judgment, I honestly just wondered!

So I’d like to let you into my day- partially to inform you, partially to warn you- er, prepare you- to have realistic expectations if you day dream of staying at home one day.

7:00 AM (Sometimes earlier) I wake up to fresh made coffee (because my husband is a saint) and a squawking sweetie (that’s my baby, not my hubbs 😉 ).
Change Liliana’s diaper and nurse. Shove coffee and food in my face as fast as possible.
7:30 AM Make hubb’s lunch, take dogs down for potty, feed dogs.
8:00 AM Walk dogs.
8:30 AM Put Lili in Exer-Saucer and hopefully get a shower if she’s compliant.
9:00 AM Nurse Lili and try to convince her that she really DOES need her morning nap (she’s getting better at this-hooray!).
10:00 AM (If Lili naps) Pick up the house from the night before, think about dinner, think about whatever house cleaning needs to be done that day, write a blog, check Facebook, think about working out). Usually just the house picking up actually gets done 🙂
11:00 AM Nurse Lili and entertain her- read books, work on rolling over, generally try to keep her from crying.
12:30 PM Eat lunch whether Lili is crying or not. Eating actually entertains her right now, which is a great excuse to do it…Maybe THAT’s why those last five pounds don’t come off ;).
2:00 PM Nurse Lili and try to convince her that her afternoon nap is a good idea!
3:00 PM Get completely and totally stir crazy and start counting the minutes until Daddy comes home. Start thinking about dinner.
4:30 PM Cook dinner while trying to time it right for when Daddy gets home.
5:30 or 6:30 PM Daddy gets home. He walks the dogs and feeds them.
6:00 PM Lili nurses again and maybe takes a catnap.
7:15 PM Get bath ready. Give Lili a splashie, read a nigh-nigh book, nurse Lili, put Lili to sleep.
8:00 PM Clean up dinner, do dishes, get in any Hubby time as possible.
9:00 PM Usually watch the evening news or crash into bed and check Facebook.


Those are the “easy” days when we get to just be home. Once a week we also have to fit going to the grocery store somewhere in the schedule and other errands on other days. Fortunately Lili is very accommodating and makes my life much easier than I’ve heard other babies can.

A few survival mechanisms that I feel like I may try in the near future is getting up a little earlier every day to work out (but I swear, Lili can SMELL me- as soon as I wake up, I feel like she senses me and wakes up) and try to do the house clean up more consistently at night.


Photo Source:

Now, of UTMOST importance, ladies, I am NOT complaining. I just wanted to share my experiences up to this point because it isn’t all naps and snuggles, rainbows and sunshine. There’s a whole lot of giving and balancing and juggling and exhaustion mixed in with all the smiles, kisses, and love. Maybe you are smarter than me and have already realized that before. I think I knew it in my head before I was living it too, but I still wasn’t prepared.

My hope is that this gives you a more complete picture of what being a stay at home mom may mean for you some day and alleviate some of your questions in the meantime.



Hopeless Marriage: A Book Review

At some point in our lives, “Hopeless Marriage” may as well be splashed across an arrow-shaped neon sign pointing right over each of our homes.

It happens to just about every marriage because marriage. is. hard.

Judy Bodmer and I have a lot in common, strangely enough. We’re both recovering Registered Dietitians-to-be. We’re both passionate about helping other couples stay married because we’ve both struggled in our marriages with emotional affairs (first time I’ve ever written that out loud!). The difference is that Judy has actually written the book to do it! And it’s a good one. I’d love to share it with you.

When Love DIes

When Love Dies: How to Save a Hopeless Marriage methodically explores all of the reasons why we think we should leave our spouse and speaks truth into those feelings. These feelings are so universally experienced that I believe there is not a wife out there who would not benefit from reading through her journey. Judy’s honest sharing of her experience falling out of love with her husband, but choosing to stay offers a roadmap of hope for every woman wrestling over the divorce question in her mind.

Each chapter sets up the struggle (for example, I can’t forgive or forget; I had so many dreams; We can’t talk, etc.), succinctly defines the problem, offers experiences and potential solutions, and finally ends with a challenge. (We can’t talk ends with the challenge- Take your weakest communication point (listening, interrupting, letting your motor run, etc.) and work on improving it this week.) Each challenge offers the reader the opportunity to take responsibility for their marriage and a sense of possibility for real change.

I don’t want to pretend, naively, that there are no reasons for divorce. However, in the absence of abuse and infidelity, Bodmer offers so many reasons for holding on to the committment that you’ve made and rediscovering the best friend that you married. (If anyone wants to borrow my copy, let me know- I’ll even ship it to you!)

Photo credit: Photography by Jewels, 2006

Photo credit: Photography by Jewels, 2006

Just Grown-up Kids: Truths from the Global Leadership Summit 2013

If I could rewind the last 48 hours and invite each of you to come to the 2013 Global Leadership Summit, I would. This is Adam and I’s third year attending the Summit, and every year we leave with renewed focus and with our leadership fires lit for the coming year.

The last two years, I took so many notes in our Summit notebook that I treasured the books as gold at the end of the two days- pages full of insights that I could refer back to throughout the coming year. BUT this year with a four-month old in tow, my notes are a little sparse (to say the least). In spite of that I’d like to share with you a few themes that I heard during the Summit that have especially tugged at my heart- things that I believe God put me there to hear.

Grown-ups are really just big kids.

This thought was a passing comment that Patrick Lencioni jokingly said while discussing his book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers, which digs into the reasons why people hate their jobs, underperform or leave. Lencioni was referring to our need as humans to belong. to be heard. to be seen. to be known. We “grow up” and pretend that we don’t need anyone else. That we can make it on our own. But reality is that everyone needs to be seen and known. If you are in or have been in a workplace (or church) where this was not the case, you know that it can make you miserable.  This became the theme of my Summit experience preparing me for the other lessons that I needed to hear.

What kills love kills organizations.

Dr. Brene Brown authentically delivered a challenge to leaders to break down their walls of pride. Dr. Brown reiterated the need for people on my team, for the (little and big!) people in my home to be seen and known- to be loved. Her research found that what kills love kills organizations:

  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Lack of Respect
  • Betrayal
  • Withholding

Two of my favorite quotes from Dr. Brown- “We are so desperate to belong that we will form groups of intimacy based solely around people (or things) that we hate.” And “You can have courage or you can have comfort, but you cannot have both. They are mutually exclusive.”

Time spent alone is wasted time that you could be investing in the next generation.

This shot to my heart like a bullet. Pastor Oscar Muriu challenged me to get off the couch, get out of my comfort zone and get in the leadership game. No excuses, even being the mommy of little kiddos. My kiddos are the most obvious future leaders that God has entrusted to my stewardship, but they are not the only ones. I am fortunate to be working with an awesome group of young women at my church through the youth group program, but I can do more with them! Look around you- where can you dive in to start now to encourage leadership in the next generation?

I wish I could connect all of the dots for you and deliver a neat and compact summary of the Summit, but trust me, it just isn’t possible. The best I can do is encourage you to attend next year (it is hosted at 230+ sites around the world- there’s probably one near you!) and check out their website and social media feeds for more in-depth followup.

Tongue Sit-ups

Didn’t your mama ever tell ya?

To think before you speak.

Mine did, and I’ve been thinking recently just how much I still need to learn how to put that advice into practice. Sometimes, I find myself saying the dumbest things! The first time I heard the phrase “word vomit” I knew I had found the exact words I needed to describe what comes out of my mouth more often that I care to admit. We giggle when we think of the “darndest things” that kids say, but isn’t it true that sometimes we say things that are “darndest” too?

I was at the park yesterday with a few of my good friends. One of my friends kiddos was off playing at the park when another little girl used some rather unkind words toward her. My friend informed this little girl that her words were not kind and in fact she was being rude! Don’tcha just wish you could grab their chubby little cheeks and say, “Didn’t your mama ever tell ya?!”

As moms, it is SO important to teach our children the power of our words.

The words that we say are the most direct and forthright method of conveying our thoughts and feelings. My words can build up or tear down another human being. That is a lot of responsibility and immense power!


Proverbs 18:21

The consequences can be positive or negative. I wish we could just do tongue sit-ups to reign in our loose tongues and make sure we are constantly delivering life through our words. Don’t you?

A good place to start reigning in our tongues is to think before you speak. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Wohlenhaus taught us to ask three things before we opened our pieholes. I deliver them here to you.

Is it TRUE?

Is it KIND?


Let’s try to bring life through our words this week and teach our kiddos to do the same.

Top 3 Building Blocks for Mom’s Nutrition Philosophy

Since I ranted about how nutrition is more of a philosophy than a science, I should probably share my philosophy with you!

It’s certainly still evolving (as, in my humble opinion, ever person’s philosophy should.), but I can divulge what seven years of study and personal attempts at wellness have taught me.

1. Eat Colorfully.

Nothing says bleh like a monotone meal- yellow, tan, and off-white don’t make for a nutritionally-balanced or visually appetizing meal. One of the easiest ways to eat healthfully is to eat things that have a variety of colors (NOT food coloring, of course, but natural colors). For example, yellow or orange often indicates Vitamin A. Purples, blues or reds often deliver a whole host of antioxidants. Greens usually deliver a dose of vitamin K. And most colorful foods mean a serving or three of fruits and veggies, which also tend to be high in fiber.  All important for keeping and feeling well.

2. Shake Things Up a Little.

If you eat a rotation of 4 or 5 different meals or if you find yourself buying the exact same grocery list every week, you’re likely not eating a balanced diet. I struggle with this because it is SO efficient when you know exactly what ingredients you need to have on hand, and you know exactly what shelf they are on in the grocery store (until they move everything around- but that’s another issue!).

Shoot for rotating at least 10 different meals and challenge yourself to try one new food a week. Fruits are an easy way to start adding new items to your diet! If you’re a banana and apples regular, try reaching for a kiwi or a melon instead. Grains are also an exceptional area for experimentation and adding a little spice to your family’s menu- have you tried quinoa yet? or wild rice? or buckwheat?

Variety is a great way to keep eating healthfully interesting.

3. Nature (Probably) Knows Best.

When it comes to demonizing processed foods, I’m not a big fan of the bandwagon.

However, it is unlikely that yellow #5, blue #1, red #40 and yellow #6 are providing ANY health benefit to me when added to my granola bar. It’s probably best to avoid “added.”  If it’s “added” we probably don’t need it- added coloring, added sugar (including High Fructose Corn Syrup), added fats (think: trans fats, saturated fats).

Now, let me just clarify- that does NOT mean that I don’t eat chocolate cake or ice cream or cheeseburgers.

I most definitely do.

These things just aren’t everyday occurences.

Color- Variety- Simple.

That’s my nutrition philosophy.

If you need some inspiration (Don’t we all!)- here’s a few great places to find new recipes for you and your family.

The Fresh Kitchen

Smitten Kitchen

The Whole Grains Council

Wow! And check out this list of food blogs- Best Healthy Cooking Blog of 2012

Nutrition Philosophy: Color, Variety, Simple

Nutrition Philosophy: Color, Variety, Simple

Apologetically Christian: A Blue Like Jazz Book Review

Blue Like Jazz is a must read for anyone who hates Christians.

Blue Like Jazz is the book that I wish I had written.

Blue Like Jazz is one of those moments in my life when so many thoughts and feelings finally converge into clarity and truth, bringing liberation and life.

Donald Miller somehow combines raw, real feeling and spiritual questioning into a masterpiece where Christians apologize to the “heathen” and Jesus’ true teachings are fully illuminated. Shelves could be filled with the books, seminars, messages from the pulpit, and writings defending Christianity, intellectually debating the legitimacy of scripture, and unapologetically proclaiming God.

Blue Like Jazz brings a brisk slap-in-the-face reality check, that perhaps Christians do need to do a little apologizing. Perhaps, laying down our defenses and loving unconditionally (no, really, unconditionally; not pretend “churchy” unconditionally) is just what this world needs to see the real Jesus. The real Jesus who was named a friend of tax collectors (the hated) and sinners (the despised). Blue Like Jazz challenged me to forgive myself for the times that I have failed to love, and to start now to love- unconditionally and apologetically.

Blue Like Jazz tells the story of so many of the kids who grew up in the church and had to leave when they found out that the “world” wasn’t full of demon-worshippers and hateful people. The kids who were confused at why the people outside the church were kinder than those who were in it. The kids who always felt like they were the red-headed-step-child, but found a place of belonging with the hippies in the woods (you’ll have to read it to understand that part 😉 ). The kids who desperately wanted to believe in Jesus, but got blinded along the way by His followers.  The kids who loved God, but didn’t want to be Republicans. Have you been there? Read this book.

Blue Like Jazz is the story of a kid like me. I wish I had written Blue Like Jazz.

Finally, Don brings into focus so many questions and lays out beautifully the clarity that can be experienced in the midst of the questions. There’s no guilt that having faith means having doubts. There’s no lie, no wall built as if Christians have all of the answers.  There’s just faith and a belief that following Jesus means life, because Jesus frees us from ourselves.  His teachings illuminate the greatest lie and free us from it.  The greatest lie is that life is a story about me. That my needs, wants, and desires, when fulfilled, will bring me the greatest happiness.  The truth is found in the teaching of Jesus that whoever loses his life will find it. Serving others is the highest calling. Loving others is the most powerful tool.


I wish I could do Blue Like Jazz justice in a short book review. I can’t. You just have to read it.  If you’ve read it once already- read it again. I know I will. The pages are underlined and dog-eared, but now I need to find my highlighter. It’s just that good.