Friday, July 16, 2010

Lake Michigan how I love you. Let me count the ways.

Today, I spent the day at Lake Michigan with my kids. Seeing my son Sam jump in the waves and let the water crash over him filled my heart with joy. He loves my lake as much as me. I grew up a bike ride distance from the most beautiful beaches in the world, as far as I'm concerned. I grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, not realizing how lucky I was to have such a beautiful place to call home.

Summers during my childhood were filled with weekly (or more) visits to the beach. We sometimes ate breakfast there. Other times, we had bonfires at night. But mostly, we spent the day there, jumping in the waves until we could barely stand up. I knew how strong and dangerous (but fun) the undertow could be. I remember how hot that sand could be on my tender feet. I knew my mom would always remind us to "brush off the sand before getting back in the car". I'm the 3rd generation to spend my summers at Lake Michigan. My grandpa was a lifeguard in the 30's and met my grandma there when they were teenagers. My mom & aunts love recalling stories about summers at the Lake and my parents were engaged there. It's as much of my family history as eating lutefisk and potatiskorv at Christmas.

After moving away from the "big lake" as an adult, I realized how much it was in my blood. I like living in Grand Rapids, but we're land locked here. When I'm driving to the beach and see the first glimpse of the vast blue water and the swaying beach grass, I think, "I'm home". I feel a certain unexplainable peace. There's just something about the sounds - the crashing waves, the sound of the seagulls, the roar of a jet ski's motor and the sound of children laughing that makes me want to bottle it up to take out in January when we're waist high in snow.

It gives me such joy to see my children share this love for a big lake. I know it will never leave them. If they grow up and move away, they'll always have wonderful memories of jumping over the waves and building sand castles.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My life without high fructose corn syrup

So, I've been hearing a lot about how bad this high fructose corn syrup is. Yeah, yeah... it's in everything. How can I avoid it? Well, for reasons I don't really remember, I decided to challenge myself to go all summer without buying anything containing HFCS. I have made an exception (OK, two) - red vines/Twizzlers and Slurpees. I really need those once in a while. Anyway, since I started this experiment in the beginning of June, I have 1) survived!! 2) really started eating better 3) learned a lot more about the food industry (trickery! deceipt! jerks!).

I'm reading a great book - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She and her family made a commitment to eat foods they grew on their farm or could buy locally for 1 year. She mixes their year in review with recipes, what vegetables and fruits they ate in each season with interesting facts and statistics about the food industry. I'm now convinced that I need to eat locally (thank goodness I have a fabulous farmers market in town) and buy organic meat. I never knew chickens grown for our consumption don't get to see the light of day. Poor feathery friends...

I'm not going to throw away my cute heels for Berkenstocks or stop washing my hair, but I am making a commitment to eat "whole" foods, read labels, avoid anything made with HFCS and not eat anything containing ingredients I can't pronouce. Am I sad? Do I miss monosodiumgludamate rednumber 40? Nope. And neither do my intestines. I feel SO much better.

I'm new at this, but here's what I've found without HFCS:

1. Hamburger buns - Aunt Millie's Honey hamburger buns
2. Hotdog & hamburger buns - Arnie's (if you live in the W Michigan area)
3. Crackers - Meijer Naturals Baked 12 grain crackers. They are so buttery & delicious, you'd never know they were good for you
4. Cereal - read labels... most of the "healthy" cereals don't have it
5. Ketchup - Heinz now makes "Heinz Free" (I think that's what it's called)
6. BBQ sauce -good luck. Tastefully Simple (www.tastefullysimple.c0m) has quite a few sauces without HFCS. I happen to sell this product, so call me if you want to place an order :)
7. Ice Cream - Breyers!
8. Jam/Jelly - Costco has an organic variety or make your own! Freezer jam is EASY and fruit is in season now. Tap into your inner Laura Ingalls Wilder and start canning! Your grandma will be so proud.

In general, organic food is going to be your best choice. I love Costco for this reason... they have lots of affordable organic food and meats.

Are you challenged to kick the HFCS habit? Go for it! Your body will thank you for it.

I've gotta go make some granola.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Trust and Obey

My Grandpa Wes was an amazing guy. I was his only granddaughter and he was one of my favorite people in the whole world. When I was a little girl, I loved to help him in his workroom, take bike rides to the beach, learn about nature or watch Cubs games together. He took me to Cubs games and taught me not only how to keep score, but also how to be a die hard fan for a team that hasn't won a World Series in over 100 years!

I truly admired my grandparents, especially how they lived out their walks with Christ. They trusted God in all aspects of their life and always gave Him the glory for all the blessings that came their way.

While I was still dating my husband, he was lucky enough to get to know my grandpa. When Grandpa was in the hospital during his last days, he said, "I want to talk to Alex about Jesus". When Alex visited him, his strength was failing. He couldn't say the words to share Jesus with Alex, he could only hum an old tune.

As my family was gathered in the hospital corridor, my grandma came out and said, "Alex, Grandpa wanted me to sing this song for you. He wants you to remember these words as a guide for your life". She sang 3 verses of "Trust and Obey" from memory.

Alex accepted Christ into his heart after my grandpa's funeral and we've been living by the words of Trust and Obey ever since. We sang it at our wedding and I sing it to our children every night before bed.

I recently made the decision to quit my job and stay home with my kids. My hope is to develop my Interior Design "side job" into a more profitable business venture. When I sit back and trust God, I feel at peace. I am truly taking a leap of faith and blindly jumping into unchartered territory. I know in my heart that God loves me and He'll provide for my family, but I still have moments of sheer panic, like "will we have enough money to eat?" or "will my business completely fail?"

Like my grandparents' example, I'm putting my faith in the God who never fails us and I'm going to obey his commands. I know that if I trust Him and follow His ways, He'll never fail me.



When we walk with the Lord, in the light of His word, what a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey.

    Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey .

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but His smile quickly drives it away; Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil He doth richly repay; Not a grief of a loss, not a frown or a cross but is blessed if we trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, or we'll walk by His side in the way. What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.

Words by John Sammis, 1887.

Copywright: Public Domain

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

21st Century, here I come!

I've always been a little slow to catch on to trends, so here we are 10 years into the 21st century and I'm just learning how to blog. At first I didn't get it. But after reading other friends' blogs (I thank Heidi for inspiring me!), I realize this might be the best my kids get to remember their childhood. My son has a scrapbook from the 1st year of his life, and the rest of his life's photographed moments are still on the computer. Sorry, Sam, and sorry, Lena who as a 16 mo. old only has one framed photo hanging in our house. And no scrapbooks.

So, as a record of my childrens' lives and as a way to ramble on about how great they are and how much I love being a mom, I am now a blogger. Here I go!