Thursday, August 30, 2007

success



our friend billy sends out a weekly devotional. this week's was particularly insightful, so i thought i'd share it with you:

"Choose Your Success"

Success--that's a loaded word, isn't it? It can mean so many different things to different people. Webster's Dictionary defines success as a "favorable or desired outcome." So I guess to know if we really are a success or not, we have to know what our desired outcome is. For a golfer it's a low score. For a bowler it's a high score. For a sprinter it's a quick burst to the finish line. For a marathon runner it's a consistent pace to the finish line. It really depends on what your desired outcome is.

Many people don't really know what success is for them, so they are dependent upon other people to tell them. I guess this is what the media and marketing is really all about. A BMW commercial wants you to believe that true success is owning a BMW. A weight-loss commercial wants you to believe that true success is losing weight. A home builder's commercial wants you to believe that owning his homes is true success. An investment company's commercial wants you to believe that true success is having a big and mighty portfolio--with their company, of course.




Who do we believe? How do we really know that we are a success? If I buy a BMW, what happens when my friend next door gets a Lexus? Am I no longer a success? When I build my house and my good friend builds a bigger one, am I no longer a success? When I invest my money and I lose it because of a down year in the stock market, am I no longer a success? You see, when you and I buy into these earthly definitions of success, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment because the terms of success on earth are always changing.

How about you and I just try these two simple things that Jesus said were the most important:

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments."- Matthew 22:36-40




In other words, Jesus was saying that if you want to do what's truly important, you'll do these two things: love God with everything you've got, and love people as much as you do yourself. Think about it: there are two things that most people really care about when they get close to their death--God and people. We want to know that we are right with God, and we want to be with our friends and loved ones. If these are truly the things that we know deep down are the two most important things in life, then why do we waste so much time living for other things?

Does it really matter if I've had the right vehicles if my children don't feel like I care about them? Does it really matter if I've built the most beautiful home in my community if I don't have any friends to share it with? Does it really matter if I've achieved every level of success on this earth if I don't get to enjoy the incomparable riches of heaven? You determine what success is in your life--each person does. My humble advice to you is to choose the right desirable outcome for your life. This way when you've achieved your "level of success," you won't be disappointed.

Have a successful day,
Billy

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

caught in the rain


yesterday evening after supper winn and i took sajak for a nice long walk. well, we got about 3 miles out when it started raining, and it rained the entire 3 miles back home. we were thoroughly drenched by the time we got back, and winn made decaf white chocolate mochas for us. it's fun to get caught in the rain every once in a while. ;)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

transition


our friend ray is working on recording the songs that he's composed over the years. have a listen to his piece called "transition": http://www.myspace.com/raydavidlifesounds. we met ray and his wife renee not long after we moved to rochester. we asked them and some other local couples if they wanted to start a young couples' marriage study, and we've been friends ever since. they're wonderful people. this year they added a sweet little baby girl to their nest.

Monday, August 27, 2007

scaredy-cat



or scaredy-dog, rather. sajak has such a big bark (scares the fed-ex man to death), but really he's a big chicken. (don't let the thieves and intruders in on this little secret though.) from the day we brought him home he's been afraid of balloons, vacuum cleaners, fans, you name it. one day about a year and a half ago we brought some mylar balloons home, and he ran and hid under my desk in the office for about 45 minutes. i snapped this picture because it was so odd and endearing.

then yesterday winn and i left him outside while we ran to the store (invisible fences are wonderful things), and when we came home, he was hiding behind the bush in front of the house, afraid to come out in case we were boogeymen in disguise.

and this afternoon when we were on our walk, a gust of wind went through the oh-so-menacing bushes lining the sidewalk, and sajak stopped dead in his tracks and then jumped back away from them. this happened twice, and from then on he stayed on the opposite side of the sidewalk from the bushes and kept his eye on them lest they swallow him up. what a silly boy, so querky and cute.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

flooding




i'm sure you've all heard about the flooding going on here in the midwest. thankfully, rochester has a much better flood plan than they did back in the late 70's when the city was filled with water. we did get quite a bit of water in some places (like this park pictured below) and lots of people had wet basements, but all in all the city fared pretty well. we were blessed to have a dry basement throughout the whole ordeal.

the pictures are courtesy of our friend chris.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

saturdays

i should be mopping the floor. we have company coming tonight (winn's aunt and uncle), and the kitchen floor has accumulated quite the collection of dry, crusty dog slobber. but after spending the day doing yard work and then a 6-mile bike ride, i'm guessing the floor will wait for another day.

i love saturdays. especially when we're not traveling for the weekend or on the worship team, when there's nothing scheduled and we just get to relax and get things done around the house. the rain has finally come to an end in rochester, and today it was beauuuuutiful out! winn and i thoroughly enjoyed it. we slept in and then went to dunn brothers with our laptops and sat there for a couple hours savoring a coffee and a muffin and getting some work done. when we got home, winn got out the mower and tackled the jungle that our lawn had become after all the nice rain. i donned my garden gloves, planted a couple new shrubs that i got for 50% off at home depot, and weeded the flowerbeds. then after a bike ride, a trip to the grocery store, and supper, we changed sheets, cleaned toilets, and washed towels for our company. now i'm plum worn out. but it feels good.

here's a shot of winn at the coffeehouse this morning and another one of him in our new set of wheels that we got last week. after putting tens of thousands of additional miles on an already well-used '98 chrysler concorde, the engine light came on for us for the last time. we bought that car (we called it our boat) from a friend a few years ago and have gotten a lot of good use out of it. but unfortunately, it was starting to require too many trips to the mechanic and too many dimes out of our piggy bank.

with our new purchase we opted for the practical, dependable route and got a honda accord. this is the first brand-new car i've ever owned. aside from the proclaimed 34-mpg gas mileage, the best part is the heated seats and dual climate control. no more shivering over in my seat while winn is sweating over in his! :)

much to winn's surprise, i turned out to be quite the negotiator. i talked the dealership into taking a few thousand dollars off the purchase price, throwing in a rear spoiler for free, and giving us more for our old car than we paid for it in the first place. i also found out that the added warranties are negotiable, so never pay full price for a warranty. for about half their beginning warranty price we got an 8 year/120,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. can't go wrong there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

five years










today is our fifth wedding anniversary. we've known each other for over ten years. wow time flies. we went to dinner at avocados tonight to celebrate. it's a new little bistro in town. style: caribbean. they don't own a freezer or a fryer, so their food is fresh. i had chicken stuffed with chorizo, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes w/ their signature plantain mash, a mango salad, and a glass of salmon harbor chardonnay. winn had chipotle pork ribs w/ corn salsa and a glass of "mad dogs and englishmen" shiraz. for dessert we shared a piece of key lime cheesecake and french-pressed coffee. really yummy. our waitress took a picture for us.















winn wrote these sweet words in the card he gave me:

five years is long enough.
long enough to learn what you like,
to understand what you feel,
to foresee your reactions.
to know what makes you sad, happy, angry, or content.
to know what makes you so unique.
however, five years is not nearly enough time to love you.
here's to the rest of our lives.
always,
winn

what a sweetheart. how did i ever get so lucky!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

vocabulary



i love words. being a court reporter, i have to know a lot of them. thankfully, i don't have to know what they all mean, just how to spell them. i like learning new ones and entering them into my stenographic dictionary. today i had another deposition in a power and energy case that i've been working on for over a year. i've learned lots of technical words in that case, including photovoltaic (able to produce a voltage when exposed to radiant energy) and kilovolt-ampere (an electrical unit). today the attorneys were throwing around a couple of foreign terms that i didn't have in my steno dictionary: ab initio (latin for "from the beginning") and force majeure (french for "greater force"). needless to say, i have them in there now. next time i'll be ready for them. :)

and then there's words like combinatorial and infinitesimally (someone used that one in a deposition the other day and threw me for a loop), which you can easily figure out the meaning of but you've never really had opportunity to use them in a sentence before.

some other fun words that i've come across are quixotic (impulsive, romantic, impractical), usufruct (the right to enjoy something that belongs to someone else, as long as you don't damage it), and querulous (discontent, testy). try them out in a sentence sometime!

anyone out there have any other good ones for me?

la paix

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

missing tooth

my sister carrie is here visiting this week with her kids. my niece caitlyn looks so cute missing her front tooth, and it's funny when she tries to make the "th" sound. it's been rainy here for several days, so we took them to the play place at our mall to burn off some energy. afterwards we grabbed some lunch, and joel had a piece of pizza that was almost as big as him.



Tuesday, August 21, 2007

kohlrabi


my neighbor brought us some kohlrabi the other night. it was a vegetable that i don't remember ever trying before, and it was dee-lish! you can eat them cooked or raw. we enjoyed it with a little veggie dip. apparently, somewhere in michigan there is a "kohlrabi capital of the world."

Monday, August 20, 2007

karaoke



our friends had a game night at their place on saturday night. we gorged ourselves on cookies, snack trays, chips & salsa, and pretzels and played taboo, scategorries, and the snl dvd version of trivial pursuit...and then marsha broke out the karaoke machine. apparently we didn't really know this girl after all! she is the karaoke queen! winn also surprised us with his amazing talent...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

marley & me


i've been reading "marley & me," by john grogan. my friend joan larson brought it for me when she and ben were here last month for his biannual check-up at mayo. it's a hilarious book, especially for me since we have a yellow lab that's about as big, slobbery, and goofy as marley. fortunately for us, sajak is not quite as rambunctious though. it's full of heartwarming stories and is a fun read if you're looking for something lighthearted for a change. also amusing is the grogan's website with several endearing photos: http://www.marleyandme.com/index.html.


here's sajak and his best bud copper...















and sajak when he found the futon mattress before we had a chance to put it away after we had company...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

slacker

a whole week has passed since i last was here. what a slacker. in the meantime...

1. winn's mom got a serious infection (possibly from her port) and had to have emergency surgery. now they have her on an aggressive antibiotic that they expect to kick the infection. winn was in des moines over the weekend visiting her in the hospital.

2. we had two open houses, neither of which have produced a buyer for our home as of yet.

3. i went with my mom to madelia for my cousin mindy's baby shower (she and her husband neil are due to have a little boy next month) and to my grandparents' 60th anniversary party in mankato, where family members were all asked to write poems and read them at the party. if you're so inclined, you can view these crafty pieces on our family website: http://www.blanshan.com/.

4. our co-ed volleyball team went out like a lion last night, winning the final three games of the season. unfortunately, we didn't make it to the finals, but we'll be back next year!

5. my sister jessica (along with my nephews grayden and benjamin) has been in town visiting this week, taking advantage of her last days of freedom before she starts her new position as an acute rehab nurse. yesterday she, my sister polly, and i painted some accent walls in my mom's living room (color: applesauce cake).

6. both winn and i have caught whatever bug has been going around, involving a sore throat, cough, and sniffles. thankfully, i think we're both over the worst of it.

7. we've stained our deck (with help from my dad and brothers--see pictures below) and have done some more work on the retaining wall out back, as well as given our floors, walls, baseboards, doors, doorknobs, and cupboards a good dowsing with Pine-Sol (with help from my sisters), cleaned the carpets, and scoured every nook and cranny of our house in preparation for the above-mentioned open house.

and on this rainy afternoon, having arrived home earlier than i expected from a job in mankato, a nap is sounding rather inviting. :)


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

musings


i was in the twin cities yesterday. i have to admit i might have been a little skittish driving across the hwy 52 bridge into downtown st. paul, thinking again of the bridge collapse last week. i happened to be in minneapolis on i-35w the day before it collapsed. who knows, maybe if those bolts had been a little rustier or if a few more semis would have crossed it, maybe it would have collapsed the day before. who knows. it just reminded me of the uncertainty of this life. made we want to live life more fully. more sympathetically, more happily, more testimonially (is that a word?), more aggressively, more contentedly...

a friend told me of a missionary from cali, columbia, who once said something along the lines of "God knows the exact time that i'm going to die, and until then, i'm immortal." this realization freed him to go and minister to drug cartels and youth gangs, where he saw hundreds of lives transformed. what an amazing story. nothing can touch us unless God allows it. if you're still alive, it's because He has a purpose and a plan for you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

david august


my friend knows this up-and-coming artist. i like his sound. "time to breathe again" and "stacy's song" are really good. have a listen: http://www.myspace.com/davidaugustmusic.

Monday, August 6, 2007

so this is what it's like...

so this is how it feels to have your home on the market. i got a call today from a realtor who wanted to show our house to someone this afternoon. so i frantically raced around, sweeping, loading the dishwasher, cleaning toilets, picking up piles of dog poo from the yard... then i loaded sajak in the car, and we made ourselves scarce for an hour and a half. how on earth would you do that if you had three kids?! anyway, i hope it sells quickly because it's not exactly my thing.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

rain

we got some much-needed rain this weekend. things were getting pretty dry, and our grass was about fried. sajak just sat at the window, mourning the fact that he couldn't be outside. here he is at "his spot" last night...



















our house is now officially listed, sign and all. if you or someone you know is interested, here is the link: http://www.homeavenue.com/user/(uwmj0b45kcwu2155owa1ys55)/viewitem.aspx?id=35983571

Friday, August 3, 2007

demolition derby



last night we joined some friends at the olmsted county fair to get our annual fix of fair food (i enjoyed a caramel apple and a delicious basket of grease in the form of cheese curds, and winn opted for a healthy pita and a lemonade--although he did share my cheese curds). after our bellies were full, we took in the demo derby and reveled at the sight of cars getting smashed and engines starting on fire. does that make us hicks, hillbillies, or rednecks? :)