Family – There is nothing like it.

My emotions have been all over the place the past few days. Hubby mentioned my Grandpa to a friend as we talked about the MS walk tonight, and my eyes swelled with tears as I thanked God for my huge sunglasses! This afternoon I read my mom’s Facebook post about how my Great Grandma would have been 118 years old today, and a HUGE flood of memories and emotions came tonight as I sat here on the couch.

Maybe COVID and this lockdown crap has finally gotten to me. I don’t know.

I do know that I have been a really lucky person! I had my grandparents on my dad’s side until 1985 (when Grandpa passed) and 1990 (when Grandma passed). I was absolutely spoiled by growing up with my grandparents in town. Grandpa passed away when I was 13 (the one who was mentioned this evening) and then I had my Grandma until I was 40 years old! How incredible is that?!?!?

But, as I read my mom’s post today, I knew my great-grandparents! I know I was young when Great-Grandpa passed away in 1983, but man do I remember some pretty special times with him! And, my great-grandma……I had her until I was 23 years old! Tonight, a whole host of memories came rushing to my brain…

  • Thanksgivings at their house in Skokie
  • The awesome basement we would play in during family parties…and the really cool peanut dispenser that sat up on the bar!
  • Sitting at her kitchen table while she taught me how to play “Solitaire” with her very worn deck of cards. I was amazed by her shuffling ability!
  • Going to visit her and her love of KFC dinner!
  • Lying on their bed in their bedroom and burying ourselves in everyone’s coats! There were so many coats at those Thanksgiving dinners!
  • How sad I felt for Great Grandma after Great-Grandpa passed away and I saw his boots sitting by her back door. This is one of my first “empath” memories.
  • Being in her small tv room watching football games with many extended family members! The Hills are a massive family!!!! There were a lot of people!
  • Anytime she would come and stay at our house in her later years she would ALWAYS bring her famous sweet rolls or her yummy BRAN MUFFINS! I haven’t made those muffins for at least 14 years……I think I need to dig out that recipe soon!
  • As a little girl, I was always in awe of her clip on earrings! They always looked like they hurt but she always assured me they didn’t! She had matching jewelry for all of her dresses.
  • I remember my mom taking her to visit cemeteries around Chicago so that Grandma could “visit” her family members. I loved this past summer when I was able to bring my mom and dad to various cemeteries and find family graves from long ago. (Can I tell you how much I love ancestry.com?) Such a rich, meaningful, respectful tradition in families.

As I grew up, I often compared The Queen of England to my Great-Grandma…. she was far from that royal family, but she was the Hill family matriarch for years and years. She was our royal family in my eyes.

Here, I leave you tonight (or rather early this morning) with a photo of my Grandma Dorothy (my Grandpa’s wife), my Great-Grandma Caroline (my Grandpa’s mother) and me – at age 16 or 17.

I love our family and all of it’s history….. and I sure am lucky to have had such awesome experiences with my grandparents and great-grandparents!

Much Love,

Melissa

Chaos

Today is Ash Wednesday, and once again I worked on a Lenten Photo Challenge for our church as we work on a book study reading “Love Is the Way” by Bishop Michael Curry. Each week features different chapters and the words for our Photo Challenge come from those targeted readings.

Today, I had an extreme chaos moment when I was teaching to my 3rd hour math class. I tried a new platform to make the slides interactive for my students. I could not load the presentation onto my ipad or successfully project it and share it with my in-school kids and my at-home kids. Gotta love technology and hybrid. We just switched over to the hybrid model this week for grades 7 and 8, and it’s all coming back to me how hard it is to do this.

So, I took this photo tonight as I was packing up my desk to leave school. As more than once today, this plethora of technology has left me feeling lost and stuck in chaos.

Fast forward to tonight, I go to post my picture on my blog and I realize that none of my photos or my design have been upgraded since we had family pictures taken. Again, my head swirls around in chaos.

I too often put way tooo much pressure on myself. This is not news to me or anyone who knows me, but today as I dealt with some icky self-imposed feelings, I thought again of the word chaos. I often throw myself into chaos with unneeded, highly unnecessary pressures that I put onto myself. It’s not fun, and I don’t like the feeling it brings, so what can I do?

There comes in the scripture for today’s word. Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Now if only this can start sticking in my mind before those ugly thoughts and pressures get thrown onto me (by myself!).

Food for thought! Peace to all of you! I hope you can join in our Lenten Photo Challenge! Check us out on Facebook at Champlin United Methodist Church in Champlin, MN!

Melissa

Another tasty dinner – Grilled chicken sliders

I happened upon a Good Housekeeping recipe for grilled chicken sliders that sounded intriguing. I used that recipe for the marinade and headed over to Martha Stewart for some cucumber, radish, red onion pickles to top the sliders. Served with Pioneer Woman’s yummy smashed red potatoes and my own Mama’s dilled yellow squash and zucchini.

Last night, I made Martha Stewart’s Cucumber, Radish and Red Onion Pickles. Click here for her recipe.

Here’s how I made the yummy chicken sliders.

Marinade:

6 scallions, thinly sliced,

2-3 large clove garlic, pressed

3 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. canola oil

2 tsp. honey

dash black pepper

1 lime, using the juice of the lime and 1/2 of the rind.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (like butterflied and then halved again so you have 4 thin rectangular pieces of chicken to make 4 slider sandwiches) (I used 1/2 of the Aldi family Pack)

12 slider buns and butter

Chicken and marinade:

Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade in a jar and use an immersion blender to mix thoroughly, blending the scallions and the lime peel.

Cut the chicken breasts in half (splitting the thickness of the breast in two). Then cut each of the thinner halves in half (not making them any thinner, just split into 2 pieces)

Put the chicken in a container or a Ziploc gallon bag and pour the marinade over it. Chill in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Make garlic ailoi for serving: 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 cloves fresh garlic, pressed, the juice of one lemon. Blend and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes each side then remove from grill.

Toast buns on grill or on the stovetop.

To serve: take a toasted bun and put garlic ailoi on each side. Place a few pieces of lettuce or fresh spinach on the bun. Top it with a piece of the grilled chicken as well as a few of the pickles (you made last night!) and the top of the bun. Take a big ol’ bite and ENJOY!

Here’s Pioneer Woman’s smashed red potatoes recipe: (I had to use up the leftover boiled potatoes from our seafood boil this past weekend) Well, technically, I found PW’s recipe on another blogger’s site, so hop over there to see it!

For my own Mama’s dilled squash, slice up yellow squash and zucchini squash in 1/4 inch rounds. Layer in a skillet pan. I use a stick of butter and 2-3 tablespoons of dill to dress the squash up. Cover and heat on the stove 10-15 minutes until the squash is tender. Simply divine.

Sure wish I would have taken some pictures tonight. You’ll have to believe me. It was a party of flavors in our mouths!

Melissa

A Feast

Today, I kept telling my boys we were going to have a special feast for dinner tonight. They spent the day out in the backyard playing ball or running through the sprinkler while I sat inside and typed up more answers to the questions for my summer classes.

I had to leave around 4:30 to make an appearance at a surprise birthday party for one of my students, so I set the table before heading out. While I was upstairs brushing my hair, I heard the boys come in and say, “Oh, it’s going to be fancy tonight!” Made my heart smile.

I really toyed with the idea of doing a true Seafood Boil and dumping the feast straight on the. table, but then I decided to put down newspaper and kraft paper like a true seafood boil, but I’d use our big platter for the food along with smaller plates to collect the shells. I used ramekins to put out for our melted butter, and I added some fresh flowers because, well, you know, I love fresh flowers.

After my birthday party appearance, I came home and got to work. I searched online for a recipe. Everything I found was for Old Bay Seasoning, and well, quite frankly, we’re not fans. So, I ended up mixing a few recipes together today and pulled off one heck of a feast!

I gathered the spices and unearthed my huge 12 quart stock pot. It was really simple. Once I got the spice mix ready and added lemon and garlic heads to the water, I just had to wait for a boil. Then, every few minutes I would add in another ingredient until it was all done! I wish I took a picture of the stock pot when it was all done with crab legs hanging over the top! It was quite a scene!

Here’s the spices I used. (Remember, we don’t like old bay seasoning)…

2 tablespoons EACH: Ground mustard AND Paprika

 1 tablespoon EACH: Ground All Spice AND Coriander seeds OR Ground Coriander

 1 tablespoons EACH: Cayenne Red Pepper AND Italian Seasoning

 1 tablespoons EACH: Onion Powder AND Garlic Powder (I only had minced onion, so that’s what I used)

 4-5 whole cloves

 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

 ¼ cup kosher salt

 4 bay leaves

 2 heads garlic (sliced horizontally to expose the yummy cloves)

 1 onions, sliced

 1 lemon, sliced

As I am typing this, I realized I missed the onion at this point, but oh well! We’ll try it next time!

I put 5 quarts of water into my huge stock pot and turned it on high. I took the lemon and squeezed out the juice into the pot then plopped the halves right into the water. As I waited for the water to boil, I ended up taking the little feet off the fresh shrimp as they gross out Kirby. Kirby appeared in the kitchen while I was doing this and asked me to take the shells off too. (I kept the tails on as Punky likes to eat them). Somedays I truly think I am raising divas.

Here’s the yummy spices and the garlic waiting to go into the water after it starts boiling.

I was a tad dubious about the whole cloves and the amount of cayenne pepper, but it was perfect!

Once the water started boiling, I added the spices into the water (Along with the garlic and the onion, had I remembered). I mixed it up and let it boil a few minutes then added my little yukon gold potatoes and set the timer for 10 minutes.

I cleaned up the seafood and cut up the corn and the sausage. It was all ready to pop right in the water!

Once the timer went off, I added the corn into the pot and set the timer for 5 more minutes. When that timer went off, I added the lobster tails and set the timer for 5 more minutes.

Smelling super yummy!

At this point, I started melting butter in the microwave to pour into the ramekins. I also cut up fresh parsley and fresh lemons. It pained me to not add the parsley to the platter on the table when it was all finished, but Punky is not a fan of fresh parsley, so I had a bowl of it all cut up and ready for my plate! Hubby also has to watch his citrus intake as his skin breaks out, so I left the lemon wedges for each person to apply if they wanted to.

When the timer went off for the lobster tails, I added the shrimp, scallops, kielbasa sausage and the crab legs into the pot. I set the timer for 3 more minutes.

When that final timer went off, it was all done and ready to go! I dished up the food from the pot onto my huge platter. There was a tad more so I had to start a second platter (Thank you Rae Dunn DEVOUR platter for that second tray). Here’s what the final product looked like. I wish I would have taken pictures of the boys devouring their food and of Kirby testing lobster and crab (Both of which he is a huge fan!)

Dinner is served!
Here’s the “overflow” second platter. Notice the garlic head on the platter. I kept that there as I knew Punky would eat it,,,and he did!

When all was said and done. There were four very full tummies and lots of smiles! We decided this was definitely a hit and a must do next time Grandma and Grandpa come visit us! So tasty!

Here’s a few shots of what was left (I packed it all up in the fridge to munch on tomorrow!) as well as the “shells/legs, etc” platters for our remnants.

our “leftovers”
Evidence that the boys. loved it!

We ended the night out in the backyard with a nice fire and some yummy s’mores. Perfect day! It sure feels like summer now!

For those of you who want the “true recipe,” here it is!

Seafood Boil

Seasonings:

2 tablespoons EACH: Ground mustard AND Paprika

1 tablespoon EACH: Ground All Spice AND Coriander seeds OR Ground Coriander

1 tablespoons EACH: Cayenne Red Pepper AND Italian Seasoning

1 tablespoons EACH: Onion Powder AND Garlic Powder (I only had minced onion, so that’s what I used)

4-5 whole cloves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

¼ cup kosher salt

4 bay leaves

2 heads garlic (sliced horizontally to expose the yummy cloves)

1 onions, sliced

1 lemon, sliced 

Seafood/Meat/Vegetables:

2 lbs raw scallops

2 lbs raw shrimp, deveined

Lobster tails (I used 4 – one for each of us)

2 lbs crab legs (the store only had cooked ones, so it only needs to cook 2-3 minutes to heat up)

4 ears of corn – cut each ear into quarters

1 lb yellow small yukon potatoes (The mini ones at Aldi are perfect for this!)

1 kielbasa sausage, cut into pieces

Directions:

Boil 14-16 cups of water in a large pot.  Squeeze the juice of the 2 lemon halves into the water.  Put the lemon halves into the water.  Bring to a boil.

Add garlic heads, onions and seasonings to the water.  Stir until mixed.   Lower the heat to medium to simmer.  Let simmer a few minutes.

Add potatoes to the water.  Set timer for 10 minutes.

Add the corn to the pot and set the timer for 5 more minutes.  

Add the lobster tails to the pot and set the timer for 5 more minutes.  

Add the shrimp, scallops, kielbasa sausage and the crab legs into the pot.  Set the timer for 3 more minutes.  When the timer goes off, just stir the pot to make sure the shrimp and scallops are opaque.  The lobster tails should also be red now.  

Turn off the stove and place shrimp, meat, and veggies onto a huge platter.  Squeeze some lemon juice over the top and sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on for garnish.

Serve with melted butter. Be ready to eat with your hands and get lots of napkins ready!

Enjoy!

My Dad

So, this is my 1,193rd post on this blog. Crazy! Anyway, I want to send a HUGE shoutout to my Dad! The best in the business.

I sent him a homemade card this year. It made me do lots of thinking about him and all he has taught me over the years. Here’s the card I made for him – a collage of some of the things that mean something to me and him.

So, Dad, for all of these things and more…

A Camera – for all of the memories you’ve captured over the years and “Photographer Phil!”

A Rae Dunn Mug  – expressing my LOVE

The Big Dipper – I can always find it…thanks to you!

A Spider – to my #1 Spider killer in my life!  Thanks for always protecting me!

The Moon – There isn’t a night I don’t look up!  You taught me that!

The Sun – because you and I LOVE to soak up the rays!

A BBQ Spatula – because you are the Grill Master

Orion – My favorite constellation; it always makes me think of you!

The TICKLE MONSTER – your goofiness with the grandkids. LOVE!

Car Key – for teaching me how to drive (and yes, in reverse too!)

A Steering Wheel – for all of those times you let me ride in your lap from the end of the court to home!

Football – you taught me my mean spiral!

Baseball – you taught me to love the game and how to throw!

Legal Pad – you always grabbed your yellow legal pad to help me with my algebra homework.

A Coconut & A Lime – you know what to do with that.

A Compass Rose – I may not know my left from right, but I know my north, south, east and west!

An “M” glass of wine – my favorite part of my trips home – having a glass with you!

A megaphone – thanks for being one of my biggest cheerleaders!

Your Purple/Plum Sweater – it really was yours, but I made it mine.   THANK YOU!

The Sky – Night or Day, you taught me to look up!   Clouds, stars, the moon, sun, all beautiful blessings!

A Black Bird of Paradise Hawaiian shirt pattern – I love you in your shirts!  You do YOU!  (Background) 

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! You are such an amazing human! I love you!

I KNocked it Out of the park tonight!

I had my oral surgeon appointment today and surgery is set for my extraction on Wednesday morning of this week. In order to get in sooner rather than later, I had to be open to visit any one of the 5 locations for my intake pre-op meeting. Game on! They first opening was in Waconia today, so I drove almost an hour to have them make a plan for my mouth. It was a real pretty drive, and I had lots of time to think.

The boys were talking last week about how they wanted soup like Kirby had when we stopped in at Nelson’s Creamery in Wisconsin last summer on our way down to Lacrosse. Tomato Soup.

Most people love tomato soup with grilled cheese, but have you met Punky, our oldest? The boy hates melted cheese (as in cheddar, American, Mozzarella – so no mac and cheese, no grilled cheese, no cheese on his pizza….. the boy can be a diva.). I digress. We still love him even with his shortcomings.

Punky has been a bit more open to explore things now that he is nearly 15! Kirby, not so much. He likes his food, and don’t mess with it.

So, on my drive I was thinking of making dinner. Tonight’s menu was Tomato soup and Adult Grilled Cheese sandwiches. (I write out the menu each Saturday, but I’m not always sure of my plan until it’s time to make dinner!)

I had 4 cans of tomato soup in my cupboard. But, I wanted to explore. So, I created a homemade Tomato Basil soup tonight with Avocado, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese.

Wow.

It was divine.

Here’s a picture of our food. I’ll write the recipe down below if I can remember what I did. (That’s always the question these days!)

TOMATO SOUP

2-28 oz cans crushed tomatoes

1 cup of bone broth (chicken broth or veggie broth would work too!)

20-25 leaves of fresh basil (minced)

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup butter

Bring the tomatoes and the broth to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add minced basil and sugar to the soup and turn the heat to low. Use a whisk to stir in the cream. Add the butter and serve after the butter has melted and has been stirred into the soup. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

AVOCADO, SPINACH, & GOAT CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE

2 avocados, lightly mashed

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves

6-8 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

8 pieces of bread (My favorite is Aldi’s Zero Net Carb Bread – multi-seed)

butter to spread on bread

OPTIONAL: 1 Tablespoon fresh basil or parsley

Mash the avocados after peeling them and removing the pit. Mix in the garlic, salt and peppers into the avocado. Set aside.

Butter four slices of bread and place them butter side down on the griddle. Lightly spread some of the avocado mixture on top of each piece of bread. Place spinach leaves on top of the avocado spread. Crumble the goat cheese and place some on top of the spinach leaves. (You may also add the optional fresh basil or parsley here too!) Butter the last 4 pieces of bread and put them on the top of the sandwiches (Butter side up). Turn on the stove. Heat the sandwiches 3-4 minutes then flip. Cook for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from griddle and serve.

Boom! Go try them! So tasty!

we all need A little bit of happiness

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  But this picture right here is worth way more than that to me tonight.  

Today, I was doing my regular Saturday menu-planning and grocery shopping on Instacart.  I had orders at Costco, Aldi and Cub.  My Aldi and Costco  orders were shopped and delivered right away (by Jason and Lynda, respectively)  I was getting nervous because our dinner was in the Cub order.   While waiting, I started the emotional task of writing cards out to my students that I will deliver to each of them later this week.  As I was writing, I received a text that my Cub order started to be shopped by Evelyn.  I was watching via the app to make sure Cub had the steaks I was waiting for.  After she shopped the steaks, I noticed she paused around the bakery section (as it’s next to the meat dept).  I texted her that I wasn’t really looking for that specific bread….I just needed a big ol’ crusty loaf of bread for a recipe.  She found my bread, and I thought I’d clarify another part of my order.   I had requested a “Minnesota Bouquet” from the floral department.  I wrote to her “As for flowers….I’m just looking for some happiness on my table.  Anything around $20 is ok!”   She wrote back, “That’s so beautifully put!  I will look for some for you. We all need some happiness now!”  I quickly responded, “Can you get me 2 bouquets?” She asked if I wanted it to be the same or different than the 1st bouquet she picked out.   I told her the same then added, it didn’t really matter, it could be different!  She said she was able to get 2.  

What happened in my driveway 10 minutes later was the most beautiful and raw moment.  It was one I needed today.  I think Evelyn needed it too.   

Evelyn drove into my driveway as I walked out to meet her for my groceries.  She grabbed my grocery bags out of her car and said, “These flowers are so beautiful!”   I quickly took one bouquet out and handed it to her.  I said, “These are for you.  You were right….we all need some happiness right now.”  We both started crying and we gave each other the biggest hug on my driveway.  She said she will be talking about me forever as no one has ever done something so sweet for her before.  

See, Evelyn, is a beautiful person of color, and right now things are not so happy here in our state.  All day, it’s been nagging on me that I feel like we should be downtown helping clean up, but I knew that wasn’t probably a very safe choice for my family.   I never knew how powerful my idea would be when I asked her to buy that 2nd bouquet, but it left us both in tears on my driveway.  We both laughed saying we’ve never cried grocery shopping before tonight.  Evelyn said she had one more order to deliver and she was going home to put her flowers in water.  I went in to start supper, put away groceries, and put my flowers in water as well.  These flowers will be my daily reminder of hope and love in Minnesota tonight.  

So, I share my priceless photo with you tonight.  Our texting conversation on my computer screen, my Minnesota glass (of water with a lemon and lime wedge) and my beautiful flowers.  Happiness is on my table.  I hope Evelyn has happiness on her table tonight too.  

Stay strong, Minnesota!

I can’t breathe.

Words racing around my head the past 24 hours.

I’m embarrassed.

A sick feeling in my stomach.

My heart is heavy.

I can’t breathe.

This has to stop. A black man was killed by a cop in broad daylight yesterday in Minneapolis. George Floyd. The cop KNELT on his neck while taking down a man behind a squad car. The man repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Bystanders urged the officers to let George Floyd up as he goes quiet and stops moving.

The videos are horrific.

My heart hurts.

For George Floyd.

For his family.

For his friends.

For his neighbors.

For people of color.

For my neighbors of color

For my friends of color

For my students of color

This isn’t right.

It needs to stop.

I am embarrassed to be a white woman living in this state today. I’ve never had to tell my boys what to wear outside. I’ve never had to teach them how to respond when approached by a police officer. I’ve never feared for their safety because of their own skin color. I walk and bike all over this town, and I have never feared for my life on the trails.

I can’t say the same for the families I work with each day at school. This is their reality. I know my students and their parents have had these conversations at home. It’s not right. It shouldn’t be a privilege afforded to some of us because of our color. It’s should be a basic human right.

The look on that cop’s face while he knealt on George Floyd was sickening. The other officer who stood there and pretended he didn’t know what was going on behind him. The other two responding officers and their silence.

All I could think of watching that video was that could have been one of my many students of color. George Floyd was a son, a brother, a friend, a nephew, a student, a colleague, a peer, a human.

That last descriptor gets forgotten a lot these days in our society. Everyone is a number, a statistic. We need to keep that descriptor front and foremost. We are all humans. Nothing should negate that fact – not an eye color, a skin color, a disability, a gender, a religion, n.o.t.h.i.n.g. Our freaking federal government has protected classes, yet, here we are once again.

If you’ve seen the video of this horrific crime, you know that George repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”

That’s all I have stuck in my head tonight as the pressure and stress of life these days just keeps pounding down on us. I can’t breathe. This is too much. The political divisiveness in our country is out of control.

I really have been struggling with how to respond to this. A friend of mine on Facebook tagged me when the story just broke. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t breathe.

I didn’t post anything yesterday or today. My head is still spinning. I don’t just see George Floyd in that video. I see so many different young faces on his body. But, even more sickening is the fact that I see so many faces of the leaders in America on that cop as well.

I found power in the response of the United Methodist Church’s Bishop for our area. Bishop Ough’s statement today is so much of what I have been thinking about.

There is more than one pandemic ravaging Minnesota and our country at this time. In addition to fighting COVID-19, we are besieged by a pandemic of racism, white supremacy, and white on black or brown violence. The tragic, racially charged, and unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers is only the latest flare-up of this pandemic—and Mr. Floyd is only the latest victim. The list of Black lives who have been needlessly killed grows each day. The pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy, increasingly incited by political rhetoric, grows each day. The fear among parents of Black children grows each day. The flaunting of our laws against racial profiling and discrimination grows each day.

I applaud Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo for acting decisively and quickly to fire the police officers. I am grateful the FBI is launching a civil rights investigation. I join with many others in demanding that justice prevail in this situation. I am praying for the Floyd family and the police officers and their families.

Now, it is our responsibility as persons of faith, and particularly as followers of Jesus in the Methodist tradition, to address this pervasive pandemic of racism. We are compelled to address this pandemic with the same intensity and intentionality with which we are addressing COVID-19.

We begin by acknowledging that racism is sin and antithetical to the gospel. We confess and denounce our own complicity. We take a stand against any and all expressions of racism and white supremacy, beginning with the racial, cultural, and class disparities in our state and country that are highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. We sound the clarion call for the eradication of racism. We challenge governmental leaders who fan the flames of racial division for political gain. We examine our own attitudes and actions; all change begins with transformed hearts continually yielding to the righteousness and love of God. 

Let us not turn away or ignore the disease that has been tearing our country apart and destroying lives for centuries. This disease—the sin of racism and white supremacy—denies the teachings of Jesus and our common, created humanity. Let us renew our efforts to eradicate the disease that truly threatens our ideals and the lives, livelihoods, and dignity of so many of our neighbors.

I urge you to join me in continuing to pray for the Floyd family as well as the many families whose lives were tragically altered or whose fears have been heightened as a result of this inexcusable tragedy. May God’s grace, peace, justice, and vision of the Beloved Community overpower the forces of evil and death.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough
Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Area
The United Methodist Church

What happened to George Floyd needs to be the reason we step up. We need to take action. We need to continue to call white supremacy out, starting anywhere we can. Starting in our communities. Starting in our family. Starting in our neighborhoods. Starting in our own lives.

Look around. It’s everywhere. And, it’s our job to step it up. Do every thing you can to help. Silence is complicit. This has been part of our fabric for too long.

Sadly, George Floyd is just the latest human. This will continue if we allow it. There were other names. Too many to count. Names that should still be living in homes all over our country. Names that should still be gathering with families and friends across our nation.

But let this be the name that grabs our attention and makes us stand up to what is undeniably very wrong in our world today.

I do recognize that because I am white I can say these things without fear and that is so, so wrong. I have to do something to help my fellow humans.

So, here I am.

Frustration Released

As I sit here this afternoon doing my weekly grocery shopping online and menu planning for the upcoming week, I can’t help but notice the huge lump growing in my throat. It resides there most days now. And I hate it.

I hate how divided this country is.

I hate watching the news and the buffoon.

I hate how summer plans are being canceled.

I hate how our world just stopped.

I hate Distance Learning. I miss my students.

I hate staring at a screen all day during “school.”

I hate how angry I am sometimes.

I hate that my patience is thin most days.

I hate how crabby I can get these days.

But, then I sit here and realize I need to blog.

As I type those words above, my shoulders relax. My lump in my throat subsides a bit.

I have to remember to find joy.

I do love all the family time.

I love watching the boys hang out.

I do love how quiet our lives are now.

I do love trying to come up with new things to do with the family.

I do love trying to be more creative in reaching my students.

I do love to hear the boys giggling and laughing in the next room.

I do love being home as a family.

I miss a lot of things, but there are some huge silver lining to this ugly virus and the precautions we need to take now.

These are just a few of my joys that are helping me through this icky time.

See…I already feel better. I need to keep writing during this craziness. It truly is what helps keep me grounded. Stay tuned…

Trust.

Today’s word is Trust. From Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”

As I thought about this word today, I kept coming back to the same picture over and over again. I think I blogged it last year during Lent as well, but to me it just speaks volumes about trust.

Last year, this photo was taken when Kirby had to get stitches in his chin, and his little eyes pleaded with me to tell him the truth, “Mommy, will it hurt?” I snapped a picture of him after he asked me. He trusted me completely. (I’m sorry, but this photo just melts my heart…those eyes!)

This year, I see that same look when we are talking about our world right now. These poor littles worry. They aren’t going to school. Mommy and Daddy aren’t going to work. Our family isn’t going to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, and no one is coming over to our house. We don’t even go shopping. (Well, he doesn’t anyway.)

As I sit here each day and write out his checklist for his work he has to do each day, I envision the eagerness he has when he wakes up each day to check off his tasks. He’s searching for normalcy. We all are.

As I sit in video chats with my students showing them how to maneuver through the digital expectations, I sense fear, unrest, and anxiety. I like when I can calm them down to get their work done, and by the end of the call, I usually see their smiles and pride again!

This is an unusual time. But, we as adults can trust in the Lord that all will return to “normal” or some version of it.

But, to our kids, think of when we were kids……time stood still. A school year seemed to take “forever!” These little guys need to know it’s going to be ok and that we are learning it all together. We are all thrown into chaos, but together, we can ease each other’s minds and help us trust again.