Category Archives: Inspiration

Bridge or Barrier Builder?

This past week as I was driving in my car I listened to one of my favorite cds by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  It’s the live version and I got it from a friend a few years ago for a birthday gift. 

One of my favorite songs on the cd  is Build a Bridge of Love.  On the live version of the cd one of the artists tells the story of his grandfather being a bridge builder.  He said that his grandfather told him that the same materials to build bridges can be used to build barriers, it’s a choice of how you use the materials.

Yesterday morning on one of our coldest days of the year I was in town and took this picture of an old train bridge in Little Falls, Minnesota.  It has always been a favorite bridge of mine because of the architectural detail and its age.

Build a Bridge of Love by Phillips, Craig & Dean

Isn’t it crazy, we haven’t spoken in years
We were the closest friends
Where did we part, when did the love disappear
We thought it’d never end
Just a causeless separation
A turn in the road of life
But now we’re nothing more than strangers
Don’t you think that it’s time to

Let’s build a bridge of love together
One stone of hope at a time
Let’s span the sea that comes between us
So join your hand and heart with mine

The timing is right for our differences to cease
O Father make us one
Let’s join in the fight to love all humanity
Our time has just begaun
We can use these precious moments
To tear apart dividing walls
And with those stones of separation
Build a bridge for all
Every race and every nation
United and unique
We’re all just links in a chain of love
I need you, you need me

The past week I’ve had a lot of time to think about relationships.  I’ve been home sick with the flu.  Relationships are hard work.  It is much easier to build a barrier one piece at a time with each hurt or misunderstanding until the barrier is so large you cannot see over it or too long and can not walk around it. 

Each day I have to make an effort to make the choices that will create healthy relationships.  I’m not talking about becoming a doormat but keeping the lines of communication open even when I don’t agree with someone’s choices. My usual way to deal with conflict is to run the other way.  I just don’t like it and I don’t seek it out.   But that in itself can be a barrier between me and another. 

I don’t want to start building a barrier so that if in the future someone feels like talking about something they can still find me accessible instead of locked up in my castle with the drawbridge drawn up and the moat full of crocks.  Not a pretty picture but it can happen one piece at a time until we have secluded ourselves from the very people on this earth who were put here to enrich it.


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Tinkering Fathers…Growing Old Gracefully

Last evening my husband and I were working late and had to make a quick trip over to a neighboring town to the body shop.  My parents live near Grey Eagle so I called them and asked them to join us for a quick supper at the local bar.  It was Taco Night. 

While we were eating my dad asked if we had time to stop at his office on Main Street just two doors down from the bar he wanted to show us what he had worked on there.  My husband said he wouldn’t be able to but I could since we drove separate vehicles.  I could tell Dad was excited about his latest project so immediately after we finished eating, we paid for our dinners and walked over to the office, Dean headed back to work to meet a customer at our shop.

When we arrived I followed Dad back to one of the offices near the back of the building.  He has a desk with a laptop computer in the room.  As I looked around the room I noticed a piano keyboard, a tripod for a camera on the counter and a piece of paper with the words Happy Birthday Elise printed on it.  I thought who is Elise?  Then Dad explained that Elise is one of the girls in his confirmation class that he teaches at church. 

Dad started tinkering with his laptop to show me what he has worked on.  He pulled up a file on his laptop and opened it.  It was a Claymation animation file.  Dad has taught himself how to do animation on his computer at age 74, almost 75.  His reason for learning is to make his confirmation class more interesting for the students.  The Happy Birthday Elise paper is his present project and first attempt at animation. 

He has learned how to write the words a quarter-inch at a time, take a photo of each step and convert it into animation so it looks like Happy Birthday Elise is being written all by itself on his computer screen.  He told me that the finished project at this point in time is 172 frames for the animation to write Happy Birthday Elise.  Elise has a birthday coming up and the week of her birthday he would like to start class with the animation on the screen wishing her a Happy Birthday.

There have been times in my life when I looked back at my Dad and thought that he was never around when I was growing up and that he was always working, too busy.  I suppose feeling sorry for myself for one reason or another.  It wasn’t about him it was more about me.  I don’t know what I thought he should have done and hadn’t, but it wasn’t a fair evaluation of the situation.  Dad’s project last night brought back many memories of growing up and special things that Dad did that I had forgotten about.

My brother was in Boy Scouts growing up and each year they had the annual Pine Wood Derby.  No one else had a chance of winning if my Dad and brother were in the race.  Dad and my brother worked for months on the pine car.  They were constantly working on the weight distribution and the contours of the car for the least amount of friction through the air as it traveled down the track.  It was a big event at our home for each of my three brothers.

Science fairs were also a big deal at our home.  Mom and Dad would both get into the project with which ever one of us six kids had a science project to work on that year.  One project that they helped my brother build was an apparatus that would test the effects of alcohol on a task.  The task was to move a handle with an eye hook on the end around a wire that looked like a roller coaster path.  If you touched the eye hook to the wire as you went through the course it would light up a bulb.  They had measurements along the course to keep track of how far you made it through the course.  It was a hard course but not impossible. 

Next they started consuming glasses of wine, one each hour, Mom and Dad, not my brother.  It was his job to record the results of their paths through the course.  They did several runs of the course without alcohol and then tested once each hour after their consumption began.  They did this for several hours one evening while we were watching a movie on TV.   My brother received a blue ribbon for the project but it was truly a family affair. 

One of the observations that I have made in the past few years as I was approaching the age 50 and beyond is that there are two ways to grow old.  One is to sit and think of all that might have been and feel sorry for yourself about all the things that you perceive to have been failures in your life.  It is easy to sit home and not be involved in the lives of others.  Waiting at home for them to come to you. 

 The second way to grow old is to do it gracefully.  Don’t resign from life as you retire but embrace it.  Don’t be afraid to learn new things and interact with other people.  My Dad at age 74 isn’t afraid of junior high and high school students.  He wants to take part in life. If that means learning something new to interact with young people he delves head on into it. 

I’m a long way off from retiring and maybe financially I may never be able to but I know from my Dad’s example that I will never retire from life, maybe my current job, but not my life.


Posted by on January 11, 2011 in Family, Inspiration, Life Happens


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Word for the Year…Persevere

Last evening I was checking out some new links for photography blogs.  I came across a blog called Shutter Sisters. I was amazed at how much content is on that one site.  It’s not only pictures but poetry, projects, and instruction.  It’s not just for photographers, I found it genuinely inspiring. 

One of the projects that they talk about on their website is the one word project.  It involves choosing a word, in their case to take pictures that prove their word, in life. 

“The first of the month always marks the One Word Project here at Shutter Sisters. It all began a few years back with inspiration from the awesome Ali Edwards and her One Little Word and since then we’ve dared to dream, wish, share, nurture and play. We’ve turned our lenses toward beauty, motion and gratitude. It’s been nothing short of inspiring!

As Ali has said, “One Little Word can make a big impact on your life” and we know it to be true.

There is no time like today to find a word that will help define the year ahead for you. Have you considered what YOUR word will be this year?”

I don’t know if I will take part in the One Word Project or not but it got me thinking.  What would my word for the year be?  After much thinking last evening and then again this morning I came up with the word persevere. 

Merriam-Webster defines persevere as: intransitive verb: to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.

MSN Encarta dictionary defines persevere as: persist determinedly,  to persist steadily in an action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite problems or difficulties

There were many different definitions that I looked at but I liked these two the best for the following reasons.  In Merriam-Webster’s definition I liked the portion of the definition that said “or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement”

 In a time when everything we hear on the news or from our neighbors is discouraging in regards to the economy and general outlook it’s hard not to be discouraged but its important to get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other and do our jobs whatever they may be in spite of what others are saying. 

In the MSN Encarta definition the portion where it says to “persist determinedly” really spoke to me as an attitude issue in perseverence.  I not only need to persist in what I do but do it with determination and purpose. 

So in this new year I choose persevere.  What’s your word for 2011?


Posted by on January 6, 2011 in Blogging, Inspiration, Photography, Reflections


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Tell Me The Story

When I am out driving on the country roads I am always looking for interesting old buildings to photograph.  Yesterday on my way home from work I drove past this old building.

It is a building that I drive by nearly every day.  It sits on an abandoned homestead site.  I usually see it from the end as I drive by instead of this view from the south. 

Today I parked my car along the roadside and got out and walked in to get a closer look at the buildings.  It was already starting to get dark so the picture is darker than I would have liked.  I will have to go back to get some sunny day photos.

Whenever I see abandoned buildings broken and empty I can’t help but wonder what the stories are from the people who lived there.  Was it a family with children?  How did they spend their days?  What games did they play in the surrounding hills?

Tell me the story was something I used to hear from my oldest daughter.  The story she is talking about was the day she was born.  She loved to have her Daddy tell her about the day she was born.  She has two older brothers and she delighted in hearing how special it was to have a little girl at our home.

Her eyes would never leave my husband’s face as he told her the story about how he went with nurses for her first bath and how I was asking everyone where my little girl was.  Her eyes would twinkle as he told her how he held her all day long the day she was born and how she was his little princess.

I try to imagine what the stories were that were told in the empty homes.  Were they stories of hardship or delight?  Stories of pain or pleasure?  I’d like to know.  I think about the people who live in our old home and wonder if they think about who lived there before them.  I wonder who will live in our home when we no longer live here.  Will it be our children living in our home or someone unrelated?

When I look at this building I imagine a family huddled around a fireplace or wood stove trying to keep warm on a cold winter’s night.  I imagine the Dad of the family telling his children the story of how they came to live in cold Minnesota and what his dreams are for their future. 

I imagine the children exploring the hills around the home and games of hide and seek.  I imagine a Mom heating water to prepare a meal, to wash the family’s clothes or for a bath in a washtub.  Most of all I imagine a family blessed to have each other to share their days in the comfort of their home built with love.

As we approach Christmas this week I love to hear the story of Jesus’ birth and His plans for our future.  It is a story that never grows old with its telling.  Take some time in the week to come to share His story.  I love how His story is told in Matthew 1:18 – 2:12. 

Each year one of the oldest men from our church sits in a rocking chair in front of church with all the little children gathered around him on the floor.  He reads by candlelight the best Christmas story ever told with all the little faces gazing upon him.  A precious sight of delight!


Posted by on December 19, 2010 in Family, Holidays, Inspiration, Photography


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The Pioneer Spirit of Creativity

 Jodee Luna asked me to be a feature writer at her blog on creativity.  This is the post I wrote for her blog.  I decided to post it here as well.


Private Pilot April 17, 2010

There are days when I feel that I was born in the wrong time period.  A true pioneer spirit imagines the possibilities that are attainable by using what you have in new and different ways.  It doesn’t need the latest gadget or craft kit to get the desired effect. 

One of my favorite TV shows growing up was Little House on the Prairie.  I realize that the show glamorized what life was like back then but the adventurous nature of those settlers that ventured out into unknown territory and used what they had to create what they needed inspires me.

My husband and I are modern day pioneers.  We like to take what we have and imagine what it could be.  In 1992 we bought a lake property near our existing home and business.  This is what it looked like when we bought it. 

People thought we were crazy when we decided to dig a foundation and have a crane lift a portion of the existing home onto the new foundation and add on to it.  We spent hours drawing our own plans and figuring out the cost of the project. The old part of the house that we were saving had no historical value but to us it was the work of a friend who built it.  Somehow we wanted to save it in our project.  The crane enabled it to happen.  This is what it looks like now. 


We attended an auction at a local lumberyard and bought up many supplies for our home.  We decided on color schemes, window trim, exterior finishes and windows based on what we could find and use from the auction.  We designed and built the entrance to our home.  The carpenters that helped install it just shook their heads wondering why we didn’t just make our entrance like everyone else.  We wanted something unique.

Whenever I am faced with a challenge I get creative.  A couple of years ago I wanted a headboard for our bed.  My husband didn’t want to buy a new bed because he loves our 1970’s vintage waterbed with the old big wide pine board frame.  It originally came with a bookcase headboard that I hated and the bed was just too big for our room.  By cutting off the frame of the bed that the headboard sat on I gained nearly a foot at the end of our bed to walk around.  I loved more space but wanted a headboard.  I combined my creativity and love of quilting for my own one of a kind headboard.  I painted the quilt pattern directly on my wall.


My latest venture in creativity is writing my blog.  Writing is not my forte and it takes work on my part to do it better each time I write.   I love taking the photos to include with each blog.  For now I take my photos with an affordable digital Nikon that was purchased for $120.00.  It allows me to take some good pictures but I want to learn how to do more which will require me to purchase a camera that can do so much more.






Here are some of my favorites.








Sunday Night Blues

  My pioneer spirit kicked in today thinking about the new and better camera that I would like to purchase.  It was time to get creative and find a way to purchase my new camera without having to buy it on credit.  I boxed up my flight simulator and software that my husband bought for me a couple of years ago during my flight training and put it on EBay.  I took photos of the flight simulator, wrote up the description and listed it for sale.  Five days from now I will be that much closer to my new camera. 

So many people limit their creativity, thinking it can only be achieved if you have enough time and money.  The key to creativity is work.  Trying things in new and different ways until you achieve something you like.  It’s not about whether other people like what you do but how it makes you feel.



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When All Is Said and Done

This is one of my favorite songs that I haven’t thought about for a long time.  It is by Geoff Moore.

When All Is Said and Done

When the music fades into the past,
When the days of life are through,
What will be remembered of where I’ve come?
When all is said and done?

Will they say I loved my family?
That I was a faithful friend?
That I lived to tell of God’s own son?
When all is said and done.

Of how I long to see the hour,
When I would hear that trumpet sound.
So I could rise and see my Savior’s face,
And see him smile,
And say ‘Well done.’

You can forget my name
And the songs I’ve sung,
Every rhyme and every tune.
But remember the truth of Jesus’ love,
When all is said and done

When all is said and done.

I’ve been thinking the past few days about what is important in my life.  This year I want “Christ” put back in our family’s Christmas.  I recently read a blog post by titled  All I Want for Christmas: The Complete, unedited list.  I clicked on the post and got a blank page.  I thought there must be some mistake and then I got it.  She wanted nothing.  I, too, am wanting for nothing.  God has provided for all my daily needs.  Oh, there are plenty of ever changing wants out there and they change daily due to creative marketing that makes us feel we desire this or that.

When my life is through or “said and done” as the song suggested I want to be remembered for my love of people and not things.  I want my love to be unconditional for all people and the most important part of that is forgiveness.  We can try to go through this life and try to not hurt others but the truth is we are human and we fail when it comes to others.  We need to set those feelings aside each day.  I love that it says in Lamentations 3:22-23  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 

The Lord is faithful in his love for me.  Each day I fail, am forgiven, and loved.  I am called to do the same for others.  To forgive when they fail and to love others unconditionally.  Our memories are long and it is often difficult to set aside the times when we have been offended but we will be better for it. 

Each day is a new opportunity to improve on the day before.  A chance for a “do over”.  To love others more deeply and compassionately.  A chance to learn what it is that God loves about each person he has placed on this earth at this place and time.


Posted by on November 14, 2010 in Inspiration


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Do you choose to be offended?

Have you ever met someone whose  reaction to every situation is to be offended?  Life is short and the relationships we have with other people are meant to help us enjoy our walk through our one and only life.  How can enjoy life with others if they or we  are constantly looking for a reason to be angry?  When I was growing up my parents always told us to be kind to others for we never knew what was going on in another person’s life on the inside.  They told us if they are acting mean on the outside they just might be hurting on the inside.  I can understand their reasoning and I have tried to instill the same thought process in my children as they were growing up.

In the past few years I’ve noticed that there seem to be more people who are easily offended.  It doesn’t take doing something in the wrong way to offend them sometimes it’s the omission of doing something that sets them off.  I think that this behavior is an outward sign of how self-centered our society has become in the past couple of decades.  Its the whole “What are you going to do for me and what have you done for me lately”  mentality.  How did we get here and how do we turn this train around?  We are not better for it.

The 2000  movie Pay it Forward starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment  in which a young boy stumbles upon a simple way to change the world had a lot of things right.  The focus has to move from us to the rest of the world.  We have to think of ways to improve the lives of those around us for the world as a whole to be a better place.  Before this can start we have to start with ourselves.  If everything is about us then that is all we are seeing.  We need to get beyond that point.  I’m not saying we have to head out into the world miles from our home for this.  It can begin in our own homes by demonstrating manners and politeness.  In my childhood days it was called minding your P’s and Q’s.  I think that has gone by the wayside. 

It can begin just be doing something unexpected to make someone else’s day just a little better.  Is there someone at work or home that normally does a specific job?  Is it something you could do for that person?  At work I can empty another’s trashcan, clean the bathroom, surprise them with a candy bar on their desk or just remember to replace the toilet paper if I used the last of it.  You may run into someone who will take offense if you do one of these things because instead of appreciating the kindness they may think you that you think they aren’t doing their job instead of trying to be kind.  Ouch!  Proceed cautiously but do it anyway. 

At home try to make kindness prevail.  When I do the laundry at home I don’t just do mine but gather everyone elses as well.  It’s not something I would have to do because I have two grown children living at home and they are fully capable of doing their own laundry.  What I have found is that if I make the extra effort to make their life easier they have done the same to make mine easier.  I come home from work some days with meals made and the kitchen already cleaned.  Kindness is contagious and it feels great.


Posted by on October 19, 2010 in Inspiration, New Challenges, Reflections


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My Load is Lighter…over 400 magazines to be exact

I love magazines.  I love to read them cover to cover.  Some of my favorites are home improvement magazines, cooking magazines, and especially flying magazines.  I love to keep them and go back and look at the pictures for various home improvement projects that I thought some day I would like to do.  The problem was getting out of hand.  I bought those handy storage containers for storing magazines.  I thought if they were kept neatly it was okay to keep them all.  They were taking up space in closets and shelves in just about every room in my house and some in the attic and garage.

One of the websites I frequent often is a home management system called  Each month she has a goal to work on in your home to make it a more enjoyable place to live.  This month the goal is to get rid of paper clutter.  She says living in clutter robs you of your peace. 

One reference she made when she made this statement was that we all love to stay in a nice clean motel/hotel.  What is it about it that we like?  It is the fact that it is uncluttered.  That’s what I want in my home.  Uncluttered and peaceful.  I am not a hoarder like the new TV reality shows but I do have areas in my home that have been taken over by my magazines and fabric that I use for sewing. 

Tuesday morning my grandson Jack and I loaded up the truck of my car and drove to the local recycling center and dropped them off.  Oh how I was tempted when I saw the cover of several magazines and wanted to keep just this one copy or maybe two as I was putting them into the recycling bin.

Then I found myself looking at what others had put in for recycling and realized that their magazines were different from the ones I was bringing and started to pick them up and read.  I put them back and thought of my goal of a clean, peaceful, and uncluttered home.  Bringing magazines home with me did not fit into my goal.  It’s a good thing I had Jack to keep me moving. 

The next thing on my list as far as paper clutter is all of my household records.  I love office supplies so I have found ways to keep just about everything paper for our household.  If I go in my attic I could find a box that contains receipts for what I paid for fuel oil for our first home.  We haven’t lived there since 1992.  It would be interesting trivia to read but I don’t think I need them anymore. 

My goal is to work on paring down all this paper for 15 minutes a day.  That I can handle.  I’ve already begun to tackle the mail each day as it comes into the home.  I stand next to the paper shredder, recycling and trash and sort immediately.  With four adults in our home we get a lot of mail. 

I’m feeling better already about my home and the spaces that I have cleared of clutter.  Sorry Tyler that the magazines had to go,  I know your love of magazines,  but the peace is worth it.  I will always read magazines just not keep them as long as I have in the past and pass them along to others to share.

I’ll let you know of my progress at the end of the month.

 My new idea of an uncluttered, calm, and peaceful life!


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Who’s Got the Plane?

“You have the plane”  said the CFI to the student.  

“I have the plane”  said the student. 

“You have the plane”  said the CFI to the student. 

 And so the exchange takes place.  In flight instruction it is a procedure that takes place in the cockpit to verify who is flying the plane.

In my Christian walk instead of letting God be in control of my life in all areas,  I tend to decide which things I can handle, pass off the things I feel are out of my control, or I have messed up to the point that I know only God can straighten them out. 

In Proverbs 3:5-6 it says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”   

God wants us to rely on him FIRST.  He wants to give us the desires of our heart but first he wants our heart.  He wants our obedience.  He is not telling us that we won’t be able to do what we want but he asks us to wait sometimes, to have patience.  His timing can offer us protection.  We don’t see the whole picture.

God is ready to step in and help us,  just as the CFI is there in the cockpit, but he’d rather us not having to go through some of life’s experiences, which can be painful to learn as we step out and try to take control and we lack the necessary tools to handle our present situation.

It can be very humbling trying to land an airplane when your CFI has to take the controls to keep you both from danger but I’m glad he is there to teach me.  God is able to humble us when we get too prideful and take the controls from Him and try to fly our own plane of life.

It’s a flight I’d rather not take.


Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Flight training, Inspiration



It’s never too late to be what you might have been!

Back in 1978 I was a new high school graduate heading off to college.  My chosen major was Medical Technology.  That was, of course, until I had trouble passing biology.  I decided to change my major to business.  I completed most of the business core classes and decided that I really didn’t like marketing or the hours of crunching numbers in the old-fashioned double-entry system of accounting.  I’m talking about the time before computers were in use for most of the everyday office uses they are now. 

What next?  I had all my general education requirements met and finally decided on an elementary education degree as my chosen profession and followed it through to completion and graduated from college in 1983.  All the while in the back of my mind was the desire to learn how to fly.  I was told that just wasn’t something girls did.

Fast forward to about 1989 and I was a married woman with two children and a third one on the way.  While attending church in our small town we had a visiting pastor who was a mission aviator.  He talked about his missionary work as a pilot.  After listening to him speak and his passion for flying I told my husband that I still wanted to learn how to fly.  He said “We need to raise our children first.”  He didn’t say “No” just not now.

Life goes on and I taught school for nine years and we had one more child.  I quit teaching and went to work for the family business as the bookkeeper.  Nothing you learn in college is wasted.  It eventually is put to use at some point in time.  I don’t mind doing bookkeeping with Quickbooks instead of the old paper and pencil method for accounting back in the 80’s. 

In the spring of 2008 I jumped off the deep end and decided it was finally time to pursue my life’s dream of learning how to fly.  It has been the ride of a lifetime.  I have been challenged to learn things I didn’t know I could.  I have studied aerodynamics and read everything I could get my hands on about flying in the past two years.  I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg in learning about weather.  Who would think that maybe a pilot should know something about weather when they are learning to fly.  I never thought about it before I started pursuing my certificate.

I’ve learned how to navigate using charts,  ground references, and radio navigation.  There hasn’t been a more thrilling day than the day I flew myself from St. Cloud, MN to Duluth, MN , Brainerd, MN and back to St. Cloud by myself on my solo cross-country. 

Pilots are a fun bunch to be around.  I love hearing the stories of how each has achieved their goal of learning how to fly.  No two paths have been the same.  Every day is a new opportunity learn something new when it comes to flying.  CFI’s are awesome. 

I’m fifty years old and I have achieved one of my life goals.  Better later than never.  I wonder where I would be now if I had pursued it earlier.  It certainly would have been the road less traveled.  Whatever your dream is, it is not too late.


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