Friday, April 29, 2011

flashback friday

Flashback :: an old post from 2 years ago. I'm so looking forward to the upcoming weekend and our church's women's retreat and heading back to this wonderful retreat center {I'm counting the hours until I leave}. I can't wait to hear from our retreat speaker. She's been one of my very favorite people since I first took her aerobics class in college. Then we were in a small prayer group together when I was pregnant with Jacob and worked at Bethel, and more recently I was so excited to see her at a surprise pamper-the-momma shower a couple of my friends threw for me right before Sara was born. I hadn't seen Dottie in years and was thrilled that she had been included and was able to come! I also really hope the weather cooperates over the weekend so I can walk the Labyrinth again. I remember it so fondly. I want a Labyrinth in my yard!


I was SO blessed by the retreat that I attended this weekend. It was completely wonderful and just what I needed (except it ended about 3 weeks too soon . . . what's with the "weekend retreat" anyway? I want, like, a whole month!!)

Great women, wonderful teaching, some down time, wonderful friends {one of whom was even willing to share her Dr. Pepper}, a beautiful setting, meaningful small group time, a craft project, new friends, rooming with my momma . . . the list goes on. Every single aspect of the weekend was great! We did a retreat-series by Beth Moore entitled Loving Well, which was wonderful and gave insight into how best to love the many different people that are a part of our lives with a focus on how to love those that are difficult to love. It was wonderful!

I read a book, probably last summer, that sparked my curiousity about labyrinths. Kristen Heitzmann is an author that I really enjoy, so when I saw that my library had a new book of hers, I checked it out. The main character in the book is a landscape architect who specializes in designing labyrinths. I had heard the word labyrinth before and had a very vague idea of what a labyrinth was, {but, as it turns out, I had it kind of wrong} but after reading this book I was very intrigued by them. Well, wouldn't you know it . . . the retreat center we were at has a labyrinth! I was so excited!

Here is a picture (from the retreat center's website) of the labyrinth.
Although I brought my camera along on the retreat and carried it in my pocket nearly the whole weekend, I was having such a great time that I forgot to take pictures . . . I didn't even take 1! {I'm a little mad at myself for that . . . so I guess there was one less-than-perfect part to the weekend. No pictures to help me remember}.

The labyrinth didn't look this great over the weekend, since stuff is still kinda dead-ish. It was more brown than green, but I would love to spend a little time in it when it looks like this . . . I had such a wonderful experience with the labyrinth when it wasn't quite so pretty, I can only imagine how much better it would be if it was this beautiful! So, what is a labyrinth exactly?, you might wonder. Here is a really short, basic description for ya that specifically describes the labyrinth at the retreat center:

Based on the tiled floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France just south of Paris, the Koinonia Labyrinth is a tool for meditation, prayer, and spiritual awareness that has become highly favored by persons wishing to transcend the distractions of their lives…seekers of awareness, wisdom, forgiveness, peace, and grace.

It is not a maze with dead-ends and false trails, but is a single path to, and then from, a center. At the center is a bench for resting before walking out of the Labyrinth to resume whatever it was you were doing or thinking before you began your meditation walk.

That particular description sounds a little weird and new-agey to me, but so be it. If you want a more detailed description with lots of pictures and tons to read, check out labyrinth on Wikipedia here. The main point being that it's not a maze or a puzzle. There are no dead ends and you can't do it wrong. It's just a winding path that leads you to the center and then back out again.

While walking the labyrinth I felt like a I really learned a lot. As soon as I was done, I found a pen and some paper and tried to capture all that I had learned about life by walking through the labyrinth. So, without further ado, here are my "Lessons from the Labyrinth":

Lesson #1: This is it? . . . Yup, this is it!: Upon first approaching the labyrinth I was really pretty disappointed to be honest. It was mostly brown and pretty much dead; it was not as big as I expected (I had heard it was the largest labyrinth in the state) and really wasn't much to look at. Could I really spend 45 mintues walking around on this relatively small piece of earth? (the caretaker had told of that a reflective, prayerful walk of the entire labyrinth took about 45 minutes). Turns out this was it and it was what it was! It was my job to make the most out of it . . . as is often the case with life

Lesson #2: Keep going, you'll get there: I kept thinking that I was just about to the center of the labyrinth, but then the path would curve around again and I would be heading away from what I thought my destination was . . . I was convinced, on more than one occassion, that I must have taken a wrong turn somehow and was going to find myself exiting the labyrinth having never made it to the middle. But I kept going and, sure enough, I made it to the middle.

Lesson #3: Sometimes there are lots and lots and lots of turns . . . one right after another: If you look at the picture of the labyrinth you can kind of imagine how it goes: you walk along the path, not quite in circles {although the basic shape of the labyrinth is a circle}, but taking turns and curves to arrive at the middle before following the same path in reverse to make your way out again. Just like in life, the labyrinth often took a turn when you least expected one . . . or right after you'd just finished taking a 180 degree turn moments before . . . it felt like you were covering the same ground over and over. The interesting thing, though, was that you weren't. No matter how repetitive it seemed, you were always on a new part of the path . . . even when it seemed like you had returned to a place where you had just been. Anyone else who can relate to that in their life?

Lesson #4: You think you're almost there, but then you're not: Like I said in #2, you often think you have "arrived" only to realize just a little farther down the path that you have not. In fact, you are heading, again, away from your intended destination.

Lesson #5: It takes longer than you expect: Isn't that just the way? You think to yourself, "this shouldn't take too long" or "this shouldn't be too hard" only to find that it does . . . and it is! Such was the case with the labyrinth too!

Lesson #6: A winding path mowed into the grass can make you cry: Ok, I know many of you won't be surprised by my saying this . . . I mean really, we're talking about me here. I cry at everything! But I was amazed by how emotional it was, just walking through this winding path mowed into a field. What's the big deal about that? I'm not sure what it was exactly, but man was it an emotional experience. It really moved me and got to me deep inside! I wasn't even crying about situations in my life or in the life of others (although it was a very prayerful walk and I was thinking about lots of things that could easily make me cry). I don't have any words to adequately explain it, but I wasn't crying about any particular situations or struggles or people or hurts . . . simply being in the labyrinth and walking its path brought me to tears!

Lesson #7: You will get there: Sometimes you feel like giving up. You think you've taken too many wrong turns (or even just one!) and you'll never make it. It just doesn't seem to be coming together the way you imagined it would. Stick with it. You will get there!

Lesson #8: It's worth it!: When you reach the middle you are thrilled . . . you made it . . . you did it . . . you can rest and reflect now. How great is that?

Lesson #9: Keep your eyes on what is right in front of you, put one foot in front of the other and for Pete's sake just stay on the path: Yup, you can do it! It is worth it! It's not a trick! Trust the path and you'll make it . . . trust the designer of the labyrinth; He knows what He's doing. You won't be let down.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3.13-14)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path." (Proverbs 3.5-6)
"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16.11)
"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him . . . to shine on those living in darkness . . . to guide our feet into the path of peace." (Luke 1.76 and following)
Lesson #10: Beware of dry hay: Because I really felt like having a #10 would round out the list nicely and because the stalk of dry grass or hay of some sort that I picked along the way gave me a nasty sliver that still hurts and has not completely worked itself out of my thumb, I thought I would include this life lesson as well: beware of innocent-seeming stuff.

I hope you have gained a little insight of your own from my time in the labyrinth. I have decided that I want one in my backyard! How great would that be? A great place to unwind, clear my mind, pray . . . maybe someday! For now maybe I'll just need to find myself in South Haven, MN every once in a while and see if I can pop in for a little time in the labyrinth.

P.S. In case you are curious, Kirb and the kiddos did just fine without me. Since Kirb is really the better parent in this family, that shouldn't be too surprising. I was thrilled to get home and see my family on Sunday afternoon. They are wonderful!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

thrifty thursday

It was a really crappy morning and I got nothin'.
Go clip a coupon or somethin' and we'll call it good!
Middle school open house tonight :: I can't wrap my brain around how that is possible.

Monday, April 25, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1344. street sweepers
1345. a pretty {in addition to yummy} latte {the nice barista guy made a flower for me in my drink. I wish I'd had a camera}
1346. the return of springish weather
1347. answers to prayers I hadn't even thought to pray
1348. sacrificially loving and caring friends
1349. celebrating six years of Joe
1350. motivation
1351. a wonderful family Good Friday service
1352. spending our date night at another {powerful } Good Friday service
1353. an afternoon with my very best friend who I don't get to see nearly enough {and really cute toes to show for it . . . thanks Al!}
1354. an empty tomb . . . all else pales in comparison
1355. this {you might want a kleenex handy}
1356. a wonderful partner for this extra-challenging, often heart-breaking, always worthwhile job of parenting. I'd be a mess without him!
1357. reading poetry in the sidewalk with my family

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

Friday, April 22, 2011

flashback friday

the whole crew
2 years ago

april 19, 2009

Thursday, April 21, 2011

thrifty thursday

So, I buy apples {we go through TONS of them!} in bags. Usually 3 pound bags. 3 pounds for $3.99, that's what I paid the other day. But, can all those bags really weigh 3 pounds. I don't know about you, but my life doesn't ever seem to come out that nicely. Well, anyone who gives it more than a moments worth of though would realize that it's not possible for all the bags to weigh exactly 3 pounds. But they all still cost $3.99. So, if you want the best deal you have to risk looking a bit silly and take a few bags {or all of them if you want} and go over to the scale and weigh them. Then, if you want the most bang for your buck apple for your dollar you buy the bag that weighs the most. Pretty simple, but over time it'll help with the food budget!

Do you have any favorite easy, thrifty tips? I'd love to hear 'em!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


It's "Joey Day!"
here's the little man we were thrilled to meet and add to our family 6 years ago today.
I can't believe how fast those half dozen years have gone,
what a cute little {crazy-haired} guy he was::
"I'm this many"
{taken when he was about a year and a half}::
with his kindergarten birthday crown::
the requested cupcakes::
"I'm this many!" {how can it be?}::
Happy Birthday Joe!
We sure do love you!

Some little tidbits about you at age 6::
  • you always wear superhero stuff under your clothes {usually your batman or superman pj's -- both tops and bottoms} and just a select few know of your "secret identity" as a superhero
  • you are exceptionally funny
  • you are exceptionally loud!
  • you make some crazy sound effect, the like of which I've never heard before
  • unless you are sleeping you are always making some sort of noise
  • you share a room with Sara
  • you have been on a "Batman kick" for more than 2 whole years now with no signs of letting up
  • you are learning to read
  • you just finished a session of swimming lessons where you started out as a pike and ended with the assignment to go right to trout {skipping over eel all together}, you are finally getting comfortable and proficient in the water
  • you have more facial expressions than any kid I've ever met
  • you can ride a two-wheeler
  • you are a home-body {like your mom} and would rather stay home than go pretty much anywhere
  • you are, however, excited for our Disney trip this summer
  • for a long time at the beginning of the school year you would leave your library book from school in your backpack and never, ever take it out {or even let us take it out}, you love to have books read to you, but you wouldn't let us read your school library book. I don't know if you took extra-seriously the talk about how to take care of library books or what, but it was pretty funny. you're pretty much over it by now.
  • you only eat about every third day . . . and barely pass enough through your lips to sustain you on the days in between. but when it's an eating day you better watch out!
  • you like your apples red and "cut up with NO skin". you won't eat them any other way.
  • the name is a bit ironic, because you basically survive on "Life" cereal -- it has taken on a whole new meaning around here.
  • you brought Oreos to school for your birthday snack today
  • you are a great student
  • you think life is pretty unfair and think you don't get to do nearly enough stuff {you seem to think yourself worthy of all the privileges of a 12-year-old}
  • you love the Lord and a few people have predicted that you might be a preacher someday -- I can't wait to see what the Lord will do with your passion for Him!
  • you love your family
  • you are a fabulous big brother . . . and a great little brother too!
  • your momma thinks you're pretty handsome!
  • you have the pointiest cheeks I've ever seen when you smile big
  • you are so very loved!

Monday, April 18, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1328. Joe, Vince and Anna playing library
1329. an understanding, grace-full husband
1330. going to the store to buy an item that you need, knowing it costs $9.99 and getting there to find out it has a rebate of $8.99 {since the limit was 2, I decided to splurge, spend the whole $2 and buy all the way up to the limit . . . crazy, aren't I?}
1331. true friends -- through the fun times and the not-so-fun
1332. finally being part of a book club {I LOVE to read and have never, ever been in a book club until now . . . well, we meet for the very first time in a couple weeks! I can't wait!}
1333. kids waving palm branches::
1334. the cute way Sara clicks her tongue
1335. the very last day of having a 5-year-old in the house {at least for this time around}
1336. Anna's bed head::1337. a visit with a good friend who moved far away
1338. letting go of commitments and the wonderful people who take them over
1339. another rather successful introduction to the highchair and food::1340. The Children's Shelter of Cebu and another wonderful, amazing, tear-inducing annual banquet
1341. a fabulous babysitter {gotta love arriving home to 6 sleeping kids and an exceptionally clean house!}
1342. motivation and accountability
1343. safety and protection

always, always blessed by and thankful for these precious kiddos that the Lord has entrusted to us {even when they aren't all clean and dressed for Palm Sunday!}::

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

verse 8

It's time for verse #8. Rebekah and I are taking part in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Challenge this year. Rebekah picked our verse for this time around::
I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. {Philippians 4.13}
If you want to join us in memorizing 24 verses in 2011, that's great! You can "register" the fact that you are taking part in it on Beth's blog. That's where you can log your verses each month and just generally be encouraged by all the other people resolving to do something so beneficial along with you. Blessings on you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

thrifty thursday {sometimes you gotta change it up a bit!}

Alrighty, here's my first ever thrifty Thursday. I still have more than enough to be thankful for, but Monday has kind of taken that over, so here goes::

My kids love foamy soap! Plus, it seems to work better for kids since they don't always get that soap spread around enough to do it's job. So, did you know that the magic of foamy soap isn't in the soap at all? Nope, it's all in the pumper thing. So, instead of spending all your money on new foamy soap all the time, just do it once and then when it's gone fill it about 1/5 of the way with any liquid soap and then top it off with water. Another perk is that you don't have to get mad when your kids waste it by squirting it all over the sink, because really it's mostly water and they are entertaining themselves for a bit and who doesn't love that? It also works great in the bathtub. I squirt Anna with foamy soap when she's sitting in there and she thinks it's hilarious and it gets her clean. I bought a big liquid soap refill thing {Dr. Bronners is our favorite. It comes unscented or in lots of great smells -- when our peppermint is gone I want citrus . . . . or maybe almond} and we have probably been using it for at least 3 or 4 years . . . and I have way more hands than average to get washed at my house! So, it will last you practically forever. If you want you can take the money that you save and buy me a latte, that would be really sweet of you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1310. another kiddo mastering the two-wheeler {when did they get so big?}
1311. a walk to the library
1312. 7 straight hours outside on a glorious spring day
1313. eating yummy pizza while packed in to a too-small booth with our gang, my parents and my brothers gang {family!}
1314. fresh line-dried laundry
1315. the trampoline being back in business for another season
1316. occupied, happy kids for great lengths of time OUTDOORS {see #1315}
1317. Easter duds {x 6} for the kiddos
1318. the first thunderstorm of the year {and no scared kids crawling in bed with us . . . when did they outgrow their fear of thunder? sometime over the winter, it would seem.}
1319. laying in bed listening to rain
1320. surviving a bout of the yucky stomach crud
1321. 6 months of little miss Sara
1322. a shorter-than-anticipated hospital stay for my mother-in-law
1323. help in a pinch {thanks Dad!}
1324. being sweaty {not that I like being sweaty, but if it's that warm, winter must really be over}
1325. Keys cinnamon rolls {heaven!! . . . and probably a billion calories. oh well!} and the wonderful husband who goes to get me one
1326. bringing friends to church
1327. seeing 3 neighbor kids raking the front yard of a "chronologically advanced" neighbor man

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


half a year already
how can it be?

Friday, April 8, 2011

flashback friday

I'm reading a Karen Kingsbury book at the moment. Did you know I had the opportunity to meet her? I did. 5 years ago now. She was speaking at a conference at Northwestern and I was asked to be her gofer {for lack of a better term} for the day. Basically, we ate a few meals together, I did a bit of crowd control at the autograph sessions and I got her a couple bottles of water . . . oh yeah, I also told her that her sweatery-thing was inside out {it looked pretty much the same inside out, except for the fact of that tag sticking out in the back}. I'm nice like that!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

thankful thursday

I am so very thankful for spring! I'm pretty sure it's finally here to stay and it is so very welcome. It seemed like an extra long winter this year. So excited to be outside again, feel the heat of the sunshine, exhaust the kids and get some fresh air and vitamin D. So, with windows open and the smell of spring in the air, I present to you a few Stoll-ish, spring-ish pictures::

Signs of spring around here::

sporting raincoats {looks like she might not grow up to be a basketball star, but there's still time to improve that shot, right?}::
flowers peeking up::
rhubarb soon to come::
my first clothes on the line {the snowpants are all clean and put away for next year. take that, winter!}::
the last little bits of snow on the shady side of our house::
walking home from school sans coat::
brotherly love::
our newest two-wheeler master::
watch out world . . . he's pretty fast::
Happy Spring!

Monday, April 4, 2011

multitude monday

Here's my continuing Multitude Monday post, which all started a while back, right here.

"One Thousand Gifts":

1296. the sounds, sights and smells of spring
1297. another wonderful book
1298. dinner with friends . . . a FULL house!
1299. sunshine and a nearly snow-free yard {all the snow melts, then it snows again. all the snow melts, then it snows again . . . the life of a Minnesotan in the "spring"!}
1300. my kids and the joy they bring to my life
1301. starting the week with an empty dishwasher and sink and all the clean dishes put away {thanks to my fabulous husband}
1302. live video feed of an eagles nest . . . riveting, I tell you!
1303. sitting outside with my mom and Sara, enjoying the sunshine and warmth
1304. hearing my grandma play one of my very, very favorite songs on the piano at church yesterday, accompanying our choir {great job, Grandma!}
1305. crossing things off my to-do list
1306. discussing an important book with my 10-year-old {wasn't she just a baby? how'd this happen?}
1307. a warm home and cup of tea on a blustery April day
1308. good friends
1309. bike riding, rollerblading, scooter-ing, trampoline jumping, basketball . . . kids playing OUTside for long periods of time!

Alrighty, that's it's for now. Tune in next Monday for the next installment.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

verse 7

It's April already . . . no foolin'. That means it's time for verse #7. Rebekah and I are taking part in Beth Moore's Scripture Memory Challenge this year. Rebekah and I are doing the same verse this time around::
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. {I Corinthians 15.58 NLT}
If you want to join us in memorizing 24 verses in 2011, that's great! You can "register" the fact that you are taking part in it on Beth's blog. That's where you can log your verses each month and just generally be encouraged by all the other people resolving to do something so beneficial along with you. Blessings on you!

Friday, April 1, 2011


Well, I guess eight isn't quite enough. Guess who's gonna be a big sister?

April Fool!

flashback friday

Me {I'm the one with the SUPER short hair!} and Kirbs 2 sisters::
March 2006