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not a fan.

About a month ago I purchased Minnesota Gopher Hockey tickets from a co-worker for a game coming up this week. For those of you who are not from

Book by Kyle Idleman

Minnesota, typically the University of Minnesota Gopher Hockey are one of the hottest venues for sports entertainment in the State, especially for games against other teams that are doing well.

Yesterday, I decided I better try and find the tickets that I paid $70 for. After turning the house inside out, and searching my work bag 3 times, I came up empty handed. “Well,” I thought, “at least they might still be in my desk drawer at work.”

After getting to work, I searched all the cabinets and drawers. No tickets! Bummer.

I called Lisa for something else this morning and relayed the outcome. I asked her if she’d be kind enough to help me look one more time at home. Sometimes my bi-focals play tricks and I miss the obvious right in front of me. She also had to pick me up this evening at the park ‘n ride. When she picked me up at 5:30 I got in the car and said I was sorry I’d misplaced the tickets and wasted $70. And then I said, “I think I should ask the Lord if he’d show me where they are.” And I asked her if that sounded like a dumb thing to do. Lisa and I have been studying about God’s sovereignty over all things and 2 missing tickets seemed such an insignificant item in the vast schemes, plots and problems of the world. But we said let’s just pray while we drive home.

We prayed. I asked God to forgive me for asking about such dumb thing as this, and that I felt bad about wasting the money and not keeping track of stuff. I said it was okay if we didn’t find the tickets, but that I really wanted to feel better and not beat myself up over such insignificant things.

After dinner Lisa helped me go through the usual spots in the house  where we usually put stuff like tickets. Then we got out my work bag for the 4th time. She started emptying out the contents and working our way through the items.

Suddenly, a book I’d recently finished fell out on the floor. The book is by Kyle Idleman called not a fan. Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.” The book asks readers a simple question: Are you a fan or a follower? And to quote the back cover, the point of the book is that Jesus isn’t interested in you being his fan (e.g. an enthusiastic admirer.) “Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice….Jesus was never interested in having admirers. It’s not fans he is looking for.”

I picked the book up off the floor, rifled the pages and the 2 Gopher hockey tickets tumbled out.

Lisa and I looked at each other and I started laughing. And then I got a little teary eyed. God has a sense of humor, oh yes. But he also used this to remind me of something very important. I can talk to him about anything and everything. He’s in every little detail of everything that happens in the universe every day. And he reminded me that being a follower means talking with him regularly and talking about more than just Gopher hockey tickets.

He loved on me just enough to get me to laugh and loved on me hard enough to cry and receive his grace and his invitation to converse…daily. I’m a fan of Gopher hockey and not a fan of Jesus, but a follower. Hope you are too.

Numinous Awe

Numinous Awe

“The Numinous is not the same as the morally good, and a man overwhelmed with awe is likely, if left to himself, to think the numinous object beyond good and evil.”
C.S. Lewis

Never in a million years did I think I’d say it, but we ate seaweed twice this weekend. On purpose.

It all started a few weeks ago when Brent and I watched a webinar on how eating well is essential to overall health. That’s no surprise, but we did learn a thing or two. Among the handful of application points we took away was a big thumbs up for the virtues of seaweed. Did you know that this sea vegetation can help curb appetite, and provide a tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals and protein? It can also aid digestion and promote other health benefits.

Most likely, that’s not enough to make you run out and indulge in a heaping bowl of seaweed. But we enjoy an occasional cooking adventure, so we decided to do a little research and give it a try.

Before we got that far, we actually ordered a seaweed dish when we stopped for lunch at Crave at the MOA on Friday. We shared their seaweed salad and it was delicious. Really!

If you’re not used to cooking with seaweed, your first question might be, “Where do you get it?” That’s what we wondered. We started off at a local Asian grocery store, but came up empty-handed. When in doubt, give Whole Foods a shot. And wouldn’t you know, they have a whole section full of the stuff.

After pulling ideas from a bunch of online recipes, here’s what I came up with. It’s much like a Miso soup. Honestly, I had very cautious expectations as I watched the hunks of green leaves simmer on the stove. But if Brent’s response is any indication, it turned out quite nice.

P.S.: If you’re a family member reading this, don’t worry, we don’t plan to bring this soup for the holidays, but if you give us a heads up, we’d love to make a bowl for you.

Seaweed Soup
Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
12 whole dried medium shiitake mushrooms
6 cups warm water
4 medium-sized pieces 
Kelp seaweed, cut to bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thinly
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 T minced fresh ginger
1 carrot, thinly sliced
4 T dry Veggie Base powder
4 T chopped dulse seaweed, cut to bite-size pieces
4 T Amino Acids or soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
3 T green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1 tsp “Sea Seasonings” Kelp Granules (optional)

Rinse mushrooms, kelp and dulse and soak in 2 cups of warm water for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Save the water. Directions:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the mushroom/seaweed water in medium soup pot. Add onion and healthy sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another minute.
  2. When mushrooms and kelp are soft, thinly slice the mushrooms and chop the seaweed into bite-sized pieces. Cut out the mushroom stems when slicing mushrooms and discard. Add to the soup pot along with the soaking water, and 4 more cups of water and Veggie Base. Add carrots. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Once it returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Season with Amino Acids (or soy sauce), rice vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add green onion and serve.

Serves 6

Off to the park

We’ve recently moved across town and happen to live closer to nieces and nephews. You know what that means. We’ve been added to the speed-dial sitter list.

Last weekend was our maiden voyage.  A full day with the 3-year old twins. As you might imagine, we had no trouble sleeping that night. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the girls, but they certainly kept us going all day.  To any of you who have children or nieces/nephews, this will come as no surprise, but we came away from the day having been reminded of some important things. These are lessons I gained from a day with three-year olds:

1: SLOW DOWN. Normally, it takes Brent and I about four minutes to get to the park on our bikes. Not so with three-year-olds. No, it was a 45-minute walk each way. The trip to the park wasn’t my brightest idea on a 95-degree day. But they were troopers and never complained. Yet it was a slow, deliberate pace the entire way. There was no rush, no sense of needing to get to our destination quickly. No wonder it’s only adults who deal with things like high blood pressure. We’d all do well to slow down our pace a notch or two!

Stop & Smell the Flowers

2: STOP & SMELL THE FLOWERS: One of the highlights on the trail was to stop and smell the flowers. If we’d been in a hurry, the beauty of the landscape and wildflowers would have been missed. It was sweet to see one sister want to share her flower experience with the other. What a great lesson. Stop, take a look around. Be present in the moment, enjoy what God puts in your path and share it with those around you.

Quack Quack!

3. INJECT FUN INTO ORDINARY THINGS. The girls knew we’d be having a cold treat when we got home, but we kept the fact that it was smoothies a surprise. Unwilling to allow an unnamed treat, the twins decided to refer to the surprise as “Quack Quack.” Silly as it was, it brought us all lots of laughter for the rest of the night.

4: KINDLE THE JOY OF READING (no pun intended!). I’ve always loved books. Most of my life I’ve been a voracious reader. But, for some reason, recent years have drew my attention elsewhere. Watching the girls bring me book after book after book to read was contagious. I think we put away about 20 books before the night was over.

5. REMEMBER THE SNEETCHES. One of the many stories we read was Dr. Seuss’ “Sneetches.” It’s a book I’ve had since I was a child and it shows by its well-worn corners. It made an impact on me as a child and I often recall its lessons even as an adult. The basic message is not to get caught up in the latest trends or judge others just because they’re not caught up in them. I think about how our society is so influenced by the latest

Sneetches

hot gadget, fashion or topic. Too often we’re judged by what toys we have or what we wear or how informed we are about the current trending Twitter feed. Yet, being on top of those things has nothing to do with strong character, kindness and living a godly life.

Isn’t it amazing what God shows us through children? What lessons have you learned lately?

Recently we went to see the current production of Roman Holiday at the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis. It’s running through August 19th on their McGuire Proscenium Stage. The Guthrie has produced a fine musical leveraging the incredible music of Cole Porter and wrapped it around the famous film that originally starred Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn won Best Actress and the film won for screenplay and costume. While attending the play, we learned a bit more about the original film. Produced and directed by William Wyler, it was unusual that a film at its time was actually shot on location in Rome. This was not a common occurrence for film productions in or before 1953. Most of the time locations were re-created in sets. By shooting on location movie-goers were able to experience a Roman holiday for themselves. This was as delightful as the CGI used to surprise today’s movie-goers. The location became another character in the movie. Audiences were as much intrigued with the story as with their ability to lose themselves in the piazza’s of Rome with the other actors. It was a novel introduction into american movie making that we take for granted today.

In case you’re not familiar with the story of Roman Holiday, it’s about a princess (Anne) who escapes from her controlled surroundings long enough to spend a fun filled day as a common, normal person with a reporter (Joe) that turns romantic. He figures out early on who she really is, but doesn’t tell her that he knows and he seeks to use the opportunity to “cash in” on getting an exclusive interview and photos with one of Europe’s royals (in this case of an un-named country). Along the way, the princess exposes her own vulnerability in her hopes and dreams of living a “normal” life that isn’t scripted. The tiny bit of friction is introduced as Joe has to eventually decide whether to cash-in on his luck or whether he’ll help Anne keep her holiday and her dreams a secret in the eternal city.  Does being true, loyal, caring, considerate and loving win out over the promise of easy money and getting what Joe’s been hoping for?

The choreography, acting and singing are wonderfully produced in this musical adaptation. Stephanie Rothenberg delivers a fantastic performance as Princess Anne in her first appearance at the Guthrie. And the rest of players have been superbly cast. If you’re looking for a really fun evening, we highly recommend it. If you’ve seen it or if you go, please comment back and tell us what you thought about it as we’d enjoy hearing what you have to say.

Admittedly, it’s a frivolous problem. But I currently feel quite trapped in my nails. Some of it is no doubt due to my relative ignorance of the whole manicure world. Oh, and I suppose it didn’t help that there was a major language barrier during the process.

Here’s the problem. About once, maybe twice a year, I treat myself to a manicure/pedicure. I just can’t bring myself to do it more often. Other things win my priority list. But, after a long winter, it’s a lovely way to usher in spring and summer sandal weather.

Usually, it’s business as usual. You go in, pick a color, they clean up your nails, paint and let them dry and you’re out the door. A week to 10 days later I’m back on my own for nail care. While I’m in the salon though, it’s a pretty relaxing process, if you don’t count those few awkward moments my ticklish feet are set off.

However, since we moved recently, I went to a different establishment and the language barrier seemed particularly challenging. I finally thought I understood the young lady asking if I wanted a special coating to make the nail polish last longer. Who wouldn’t want that? Sure I said.

That simple “sure” was my first mistake.

Two weeks have gone by. The nails looked beautiful, but it seems a couple weeks is the limit for this special coating. The only problem is that I scrubbed and scrubbed with remover to no avail. It’s like I’ve got car paint on my nails. And it’s not budging.

So, of course, I turned to Google for help. And I was shocked. After going to the salon’s website to find out exactly what was on my nails, I learned that this special treatment, Axxium gel, is not removable by any normal method. Go figure. You’ve got to go back in to the salon to have it professionally removed. And the procedure doesn’t thrill me. That might have been a helpful little piece of information.

I also discovered why the bill seemed more than I had expected. Turns out I paid handsomely for this special coating that is now glued to my nails.

Perhaps some of you seasoned nail salon clients will have some tips I’m not aware of for removing this now dreadful looking shellac. Otherwise, it looks like I’m headed back to the salon. Or might it be wiser to check out what other salons are in the area?

Buying a house means a gazillion trips to a home improvement store. If you live in a urban setting like we do, you’ll be surrounded by several big box stores. I know many of you probably go out of your way to avoid them intentionally giving your business to a local hardware store. That’s commendable. I have done that too. But the diverse categories of a big box store is supposed to be an advantage, right?

I was trying to think of the advantages. One stop shopping? Bigger selection? Lots of in-store help? Delivery and installation? 24/7 help line? Internet presence?

I suppose any one of those things or others might be an advantage. But none of them have reduced the number of trips we’ve taken to buy stuff. In fact, most of those things have created more trips. Ah, that’s their secret marketing scheme! Everyone in retail knows that increasing the number of in-store visits, grows the customers’ spending, and our economy is 70% driven by consumer spending. The more times you visit, the more you realize you want to add something else to the shopping list. Or you buy something that wasn’t on the list.

And the DIY mentality makes you think you’re somehow saving money. I haven’t signed up for any of the classes being offered in these stores because I know that’s just one more trip that will add something else to our list.

We have several big box options in our corner of the city: Lowe’s, Menard’s, Home Depot, and Fleet Farm. Two of those are national chains, the other two are regional.

Summer has driven us to add to our list for the new house. We gave our old patio furniture to the buyer of our old town home. When you buy a new house, you realize that it’s an occasion to replace a lot of things and seasonal items are one of those big categories. We’ve also picked up several seasonal and non-seasonal items outside the 4 stores mentioned e.g. at Target.

Here are some other items that have driven us to these stores: storm door, garden items/planters and floor care products and window treatments. Garden is the only seasonal item here, although most of you will recognize how much money it takes to just plant flowers and herbs.

The one variable that has had the biggest impact on where we spend our money has been the in-store people working the floor. Here are the characteristics of the people who have helped us spend our money:

  • They know which aisle something is in AND they take you there (they don’t just tell you and walk away.)
  • If surrounded by several customers, they acknowledge everyone who’s waiting and will call another worker over if they can’t get to everyone in a timely manner.
  • They don’t pressure us into making a decision but suggest options we didn’t think about.
  • They engage us in a friendly, natural way.
  • They look up inventory that isn’t on the floor and are familiar with processes to locate hard to find items.
  • They know their pricing policies and have the authority to match competitors without having to “call a manager.”
  • If they’re assigned to a particular area in the store, they know their product.
  • They don’t make you feel dumb because you don’t know the product.
  • If you’re not sure you can fit something in your vehicle, they come out to the parking lot with you and measure the space.
  • They load your vehicle for you.

Have you noticed these same characteristics of the in-store person helps you spend more money? Are there other attributes that you can think of that make you want to return to a particular store? Please comment as we’d love to hear what you have to say.

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