Finding Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was never a holiday that my family celebrated all that much. The timing was usually off, coming at the end of deer season, and we would have other things to do – like cutting up deer, butchering pigs, mixing, stuffing and smoking sausage – whatever was needed to be done in preparation for winter. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we would always stop for a meal – it just wasn’t necessarily a holiday that brought together all of the family from the four corners of the Earth. Just those of us lucky enough to still be home.

So I have to admit that I’m a little distracted by the hubbub that’s being caused by the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday hours. Now, don’t get me wrong…I understand the importance of time with family. And I know how important it can be to have a reason to get together. But let’s take a little closer look at it.

Future Farmer

Thanksgiving isn’t just for one day…it’s for every day.

I’m now going to read to you every scripture that talks about God’s commandment for Thanksgiving:



That’s right…not once in the Bible does God say anything specifically about Thanksgiving, and yet our society is up in arms about the unfairness of businesses being open on that day in particular.

And yet…Exodus 20:8-11. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Oh, and then there’s Deuteronomy 5:12-14. 12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.”

So why is it that we are so willing to stand up for a holiday that celebrates an event that should be done every single day – and yet we are so willing to go against what God has specifically commanded us to do?

Now, don’t get me wrong – as a farmer’s daughter, a farmer’s wife, and a mother of four, I completely understand that life throws you curve balls on occasion. Animals need to be fed, people need to eat, crops need to be brought in, and sometimes the only day in which the weather cooperates is Sunday. Truthfully, the only reason I mention it at all is because we need to be aware of the convictions that we have and the reasons that we have them.

Perhaps, instead of criticizing those that make decisions that are different then our own, we should focus on what Thursday is supposed to be all about. Let THAT be our message to share with the world – instead of commercializing the holiday even more.

First of all, why is it that we need one day out of the year to get our families together and give thanks for the gifts we’ve been blessed with? Is this not something we should be doing at a minimum of at least once a day? If not almost every minute of the day? I don’t believe that there is a single person in this church that doesn’t tell God how grateful we are on a regular basis.

We see these gifts every where we look – we just have to be willing to open our eyes. Like we read in Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…”

I haven’t always been a thankful person. I didn’t grow up in the most prestigious manner. I didn’t have a church family that I felt I belonged to, and my upbringing was unconventional at best. Some may call it the school of hard knocks, I just call it a lesson in reality. You win some, you lose some – and most importantly, only you can decide what your future may bring.

But my outlook and heart had a pretty drastic change following the events that began in the spring of 2009. For those that may not know me that well, that was the year in which our youngest son, Eli, was born.

None of my pregnancies were easy – and I will openly admit that Eli was no different. I had problems with my kidney, as well as undergoing emergency surgery in my fourth month of pregnancy to have my gallbladder removed. I was grateful that there was a planned end in sight, with a c-section scheduled the day after my own birthday. Eli came into the world at 9 pounds, 10 ounces.

As with all of my boys, it was love at first sight. And even though I never once questioned my love for him – I did question his health. For weeks, and then months, I kept having a nagging suspicion that something wasn’t quite right. He developed jaundice late, and it hung on for weeks. He wasn’t gaining weight. I always joked that he looked like the saggy-baggy elephant.

Finally, I took him in to see the on-call doctor – and the events that unfolded from that moment on became a roller coaster for the next 18 months. I shudder to think what may have happened if my family hadn’t pushed for answers. If Eli would have been the oldest instead of the youngest. Would I have been so willing to keep pushing? Would I have listened to my instincts?

But the fact is, none of that matters. And after Eli was diagnosed with his condition, and I saw him finally starting to grow, and develop, and become the child you see before you, I realized that the path we took to get here may not have been the easiest, but I’m grateful for the experience.

You see, we can’t always change the events that happen around us. The diagnoses we receive. The actions of others. The hours that a business sets. But we can change our response to it. We can change our attitude. And with that, we can change the world.

Thursday is Thanksgiving. But true thanksgiving doesn’t happen every year at the end of November. It’s not marred by a business trying to improve their bottom line. It’s not determined by whether or not a family is sitting down for a meal together.

Thanksgiving happens in our hearts – every day. It’s in the gratefulness we feel towards doctors and the advances we’ve been blessed with in science. It’s in the wonder we feel when we watch our families gather. It’s in the strength of a person who faces adversity with tenacity and determination. It’s in the eyes of a 6-year-old who defies the odds that science has set.

Thanksgiving doesn’t happen once a year. And it doesn’t take place at Walmart at 6 p.m. on November 26.

And for that – I am thankful.

Guest post – Salon treat, just for you

A Green Tea Facial and a Sugar Scrub For Your Feet

 You see Hollywood’s most glamorous stars walking the red carpet looking beautiful every year. Why not spend a little time pampering your skin at home in order to feel red-carpet ready for much less than what you would spend at a spa? Enjoy the following recipes and treat yourself to an afternoon or evening of luxury. You will feel ready for the red carpet, or to cart the kids to school, in no time!

Green Tea, Honey and Oatmeal Facial Mask
Green tea, honey and oatmeal are very good for your skin and combine to make a great facial mask. Green tea contains Vitamin C and helps to flush out toxins from your skin. Honey is naturally anti-inflammatory and the milk will smoothen and moisturizes. Oatmeal is a natural exfoliate and will leave your skin baby-soft!


  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1-2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal

Directions: Open up the tea bag and empty the tea bag into a bowl. Add boiling water and let the tea stand for a minute. Add the honey to the green tea and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk with the oats.

Add the green tea mixture to the oaks and milk mixture and stir until the combined mixture resembles a paste. If needed, add a little water until it reaches desired consistency.

To Apply: Cleanse your face thoroughly, and pat dry. Apply the mask to your chin, cheeks, and forehead, keeping it away from your eyes and mouth. Leave on your skin for 20 minutes and try not to move, as the mask can become crumbly! After the time is up, rinse off the mask with warm water, followed by a quick splash of cool water to close your pores.

Homemade Sugar Scrub
Sugar scrubs can be applied to any part of the body. However you use it, a sugar scrub works by exfoliating and moisturizing at the same time.

You can use this sugar scrub on your feet prior to a pedicure. You can scrub your own feet, or you and a friend can give each other a foot scrub and pedicure!


  • 1 cup sugar or table salt
  • 1/2 cup of oil (baby oil, coconut oil, almond oil, safflower oil or vegetable oil)
  • Essential oil

Directions: Place sugar in bowl. Add oil and mix with spoon. The sugar may naturally settle. If you want a scented scrub, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.

A sugar or salt scrub works best on dry skin. You can use your hands or a bath mitt to apply the scrub to your feet. Start off using a small amount and increase as needed. Using a circular motion to lightly scrub, make sure you scrub between your toes! Once you have thoroughly scrubbed your feet, rinse in warm water and pat dry. Your feet should feel smooth and soft.

A Sugar scrub like this can also be used on your hands and body. Exfoliating your skin and hydrating it at the same time is sure to leave you feeling fresh and rejuvenated, whether you’re strutting the red carpet or doing chores around the house, feeling good is always essential.

  “Hey everyone I hope you enjoyed this recipes from Skana, the spa at Turning Stone Resort and Casino where I work! I love my job, and I love being able to share little tips and recipes like this with all of you!” -Michelle


Thank you to Michelle Pino from the spa “Skana” in New York for providing such great tips and recipes! Hope you all enjoy a little pampering! You definitely deserve it!

Monday Morning Inspiration

Last night, our church hosted the Fifth Sunday Sing. (I bet you can’t guess how often these happen?)

It was amazing! From the country church singers, to the little girl with the amazing voice, to the wonderful woman with her puppet, to the children’s bell choir to the group from South Korea.

The children's bell choir...ready to go!



That’s right, I said a group from South Korea.

There was a group of students that attend Northern State University (in Aberdeen, SD, just a bit south of us), that go to church in Ellendale. They blessed us with music from their culture last night. Do you know what the best part was? Even though I did not know what they were saying (although, truthfully, the words were on the screen, I was just too mesmerized to read them), it was one of the most powerful performances I’ve ever heard.

Perhaps it was the jubilation in their voices, perhaps it was the talent of their pianist and guitarist, or perhaps it was just the love of God flowing through the whole church…whatever it was, it was a sight to behold. Of all the times to not have my flipcam! Argh! I was brought to tears by words from another country, I didn’t understand what they were saying, but I completely understood everything they meant.

And the evening just kept going on in much the same way…amazing talent, beautiful music, wonderful fellowship and a feeling of joy and happiness as you left the sanctuary. What a great way to end one week and start another!

My boys...ringing their bells!



I just had to share that with you…and a reminder, less than 2 hours until the KitchenAid drawing! 🙂

Where were you?

This weekend will mark 10 years since our country was changed, security was tightened, and everyone became a little more cautious. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years…I can remember it as if it were yesterday.

Boss Man and I had just been married that year, and he was on his way to attend Big Iron in Fargo. (Big Iron is kinda like the world’s largest craft fair and fashion show for women…except with tractors and grease.) At the time I worked in a government office. I was checking the morning CNN report, but for some reason, the site kept crashing. My co-worker called in from the field and said that the radio was talking about a plane crash.

And then the phones rang. We were informed about the security risks and vague details of what was going on. All employees were offered the chance to go home, if they felt unsafe in a government building. It was chaos. And it was shocking.

I remember leaving work that day (we all stayed the whole day…because we live in rural North Dakota, and figured we were probably off the terrorists radar) and going to my mom and dad’s and watching the news with her. We sat there, in disbelief, and cried. How could you make sense of it?

The next few weeks are a blur…it seemed as if everyone was just going through the motions. We traveled on a delayed honeymoon in November of that year, and I remember being nervous at the airport. And I know I wasn’t the only one.

And here we are, 10 years later. It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by, and yet the emotions and feeling of helplessness are still so fresh in my mind. My heart aches, just thinking about it.

This weekend is a time of reflection, a time of remembrance and a time of healing. We will continue on, because we are Americans and that’s what we do. We pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and continue feeding, protecting and healing the world. And so, on Sunday (as I do most days) I will pray for our leaders, pray for our soldiers and pray for our citizens…will you join me?

My country...


He Thinks We’re Just Siding

Imagine Trace Adkins song, “She Thinks We’re Just Fishing,” but use the words, “He thinks we’re just siding.” That’s what I’ve had in my head all day.

Yeah, I’ve been working on my parents’ house again. This time, we’re putting on a rock-type finish and new siding on the south and west sides…as well as six new windows.

West side of south porch...Saturday's project!

We finished the most of the porch on Saturday. My sister and her family were down to help. It went well and we had a lot of laughs!

Trim many hands can you get in there???

But today…well, today was just me and Dad. And although there were times that we missed the extra hands, it was pretty cool.
But it wasn’t just siding. It was laughing, learning, and loving every minute of it.
It was joking about a broken hammer, laughing over a broken level, teasing over pinched fingers and blaming each other for the recurring rain storms. And it was fun. We didn’t get as much accomplished as we had hoped…but we accomplished more than I could dream. I have memories stored away, for those days that I need them.
I have pearls of wisdom, that only dad’s can give.
I have a feeling of accomplishment, every time he lets me know that I did something right.
I can look at that house, and always know that it was our sweat, our blood and our tears that made the latest improvements. And with every neighbor, friend and passer-by that stops and gives a compliment, it’s a sense of pride over a job well done.
But most of all, it’s time with my Dad.
And he thinks we’re just siding.

My Dad, Roger...he's even figured out a cell phone! 😉

Wordless Wednesday – Parade paradise!

As I mentioned yesterday, Monango celebrated 125 years this weekend. And what better way to celebrate than with a parade! Check out my parade pictures for Wordless Wednesday:

Grandpa drove one of his tractors in the parade.

Auntie B and cutie Cousin N drove another tractor. Showing vet-school pride!

Uncle J also drove a tractor...this time with the NDSU flag!

Uncle B and Aunt L (along with Cousin H and Cousin G) drove Grandpa's Toronado. Hmmmm...we may have too many letter abreviations going on here!

One of our neighbors had a family float, congratulating Monango on 125 years!

Area businesses also came out to support our town. Including cool throw-backs to the old days, like this truck!

Big Bro was in the pageant, which gave a very quick synopsis of the history of Monango...from the beginning of time to present day. Very cute and funny! And Big Bro's acting debut!

I could post a bunch more pics, but I think you get the point. It was a great afternoon and lots of fun for the kids…but the best part was seeing the community coming together. It’s funny how we’re separated by mere miles, but it takes a celebration to bring us together. Here’s to hoping that it doesn’t take another 25 years to see each other again!

We may be rural…but we are not alone.

North Dakota nice…even when flooding

Have you heard the term “North Dakota nice” used before? Around here, it means that no matter what, you’re polite and kind, even to total strangers. And it happens…a lot.

And now we use it for our road signs…as I saw yesterday on the way to baseball/tee-ball:

Please...and thank you.

We’re flooding around here. And although it’s nothing like what’s going on north of us, it’s pretty significant for our area. Now our roads are flooding in places that have never flooded before…but we’re being nice about it. We’re remembering our manners and asking nicely for everyone to “take turns.”

The highway now has water over the road. It's one vehicle only crossing, so please, take turns!


My Mom tried to take a picture of the water we were driving through, but it's basically just a picture of her taking a picture. LOL! 🙂


If you're traveling Highway 11 east of Ellendale, please be careful!

But, it’s not just that way here. If you check out the Minot News Facebook page, you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands of instances of “North Dakota nice,” where people ask for help and receive it. Or people offere assistance without even being asked.
People have offered truck driving assistance, storage spaces, places to sleep, walking pets, watching children, packing items, you name it, it’s been offered. (Even licensed massage therapists have offered their assistance!)
A lady posted on Facebook that an elderly woman needed assistance evacuating. Within seconds, the call for help was answered and more than 30 people showed up to pack what they could and help her out.
I guess you could say that’s just how we operate. You take care of what you can…and when you can’t, someone will usually be there to help you out. Most of the time, you don’t even have to ask for the help, it’s just there.
But, back to the ball game…and a very important announcement! The boys love their summer ballgames, even when they don’t have many opportunities to play, thanks to the rainy summer we’ve had!

It's a big swing for this little batter!


Happy Birthday Big Bro!!! Where did the last 9 years go???

Today is a very special birthday for a very special boy…HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG BRO! Nine years ago we were blessed with you…and every day I thank God for having you in our family! I am one lucky Mama indeed!!!

48 Years…and Counting

Happy Anniversary to my parents. They have been married an amazing 48 years today!

Now, I’m not going to get all weepy about how my parents are the perfect couple and have the perfect relationship and I hope that someday that my husband and I can follow in their footsteps…well, except I kinda do.

You see, my parents are different than most. But they kinda need to be, because our lives are different than most.

My Dad has had heart problems for more than 20 years now. Calling 911 and seeing an ambulance at my parents’ house was nothing out of the ordinary. Dad’s been told by countless doctors that unless he changes his ways, his days are numbered. The doctors just happen to be wrong on that number, because it keeps going higher than they expected…so Dad has continued on his wayward path. It’s what we’ve come to expect.

Nothing could shake him…until last year. Let’s take a step back:

Shortly before Christmas 2009, my Mom had a cold that she couldn’t shake. So she went to the local clinic and was told that she should go have a sore in her mouth checked out by a specialist. The specialist got her in and took a biopsy of the sore. She had to go back for a more in-depth biopsy. And just a few days before Christmas we found out that my Mom had cancer.

But they had a plan.

Shortly after 2010 started, my Mom and Dad drove down to Omaha, Neb., to a specialist who decided that Mom’s cancer would best be treated by removing a portion of the roof of her mouth, along with any other tissue that he deemed necessary. And so it was scheduled.

Prior to her surgery, Mom had to have a whole bunch of tests done. They needed a baseline to go off of for subsequent testing. Mom was the opposite of Dad…where his medical records could fill a warehouse, Mom has very few. She had only been to the doctor a handful of times since my little sister had been born, and most of those visits were typical cold/viral illnesses. Not regular checkups. (And for reference point, my little sister just turned 30 this year.)

Long story short, my Dad ended up having an anxiety attack after my Mom’s surgery…which landed him in the hospital overnight. Did you know that anxiety attacks and heart attacks look and act very similar? I do. Now.

Mom’s cancer was removed, along with part of a tonsil and a couple dozen lymph nodes from her neck. She had none of the bad side effects, didn’t need to have therapy to re-learn to eat or talk, didn’t need to have chemo or radiation. The only thing she needed was to have a plate added to her dentures to cover the hole left on the roof of her mouth.

We were blessed.

And now, we’re facing a new battle.

Mom has macular degeneration. And she’s started treatment to have shots in her eye. We all thought it was simple cataracts. That’s what her regular eye doctor said this winter. And he told her to wait until he got back in May to have something done. But we convinced her to set up another appointment with a different doctor while waiting. Which led to a retina specialist. Which led to this new route for treatment.

Dad was cranky after the appointment. And did a little lashing out. But my sister found out what was truly the problem. He simply said:

“This isn’t supposed to happen to her.”

Yes, my Dad is a regular at the clinic, hospital, etc. My Mom is not. And in 48 years, my Dad has never worried that my Mom had anything wrong. She is his partner in everything they do: fishing, hunting, whatever it may be. And the thought of that changing has Dad scared. (Don’t tell him I said that!)

But I know my Mom, and she’ll persevere and she’ll tackle this newest complication the same as always. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I just want everyone to get along.” (My siblings will get a kick out of that last line. It’s Mom’s mantra – or maybe it’s mom-tra.)

And my Dad will be there with her…crabby, cranky and crying when she’s not looking. (My Dad’s a softy.)

After 48 years, neither cancer, nor bad heart, nor bad eyes can stand in the way.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

It’s All in the Name

I spent the weekend helping out my Mom and Dad do a few projects around their house…like replacing a hot water heater. It was tons of fun…really.

Actually, I don’t mind helping them one bit. They’ve always done so much for us and since I was always the one physically closest to them, I’ve been part of many projects. Like replacing a porch floor, repainting the entry way, residing part of the house…little things like that.

I was thinking back on my days in school. You know, those days that you are forced to take classes like shop and home-ec. (I think they call it industrial arts and consumer science now. Ha!)

I remember one shop project in particular. We were supposed to make name plates for our homes. You know, those fancy routered slabs of wood that have the last name engraved on them and look so great outside your house? Well, that’s what it was “supposed” to look like.

I finished the project, but I had a bone to pick with the shop teacher. First of all, I was a girl, and if I got married, my last name was changing. So what was the point of the project? I wasn’t keeping it forever.

Second, we had to pay for the wood by the inch. Which to me, wasn’t fair. I mean, some people had really choice last names, like “Rall” and “Hafey.” I mean, even “Beringer” was bearable and wasn’t going to break the bank. My last name? Are you ready?


Yep. My expensive piece of wood was supposed to hold all those letters.

I was going to need a week, just to get the router through all that. And then paint. And then send it through the planer. It was a grueling project. And not all that cheap.

And here we are, some 20 years later. And guess what?

Anyone have an extra-large doorway? It needs a bit of TLC and a new coat of varnish, but it's all there!

My Mom and Dad still have it on the front steps in front of the house.
I think they just want to make sure they get their money’s worth.

Yeah, they call me Grace

Uh oh. I think I’ve really done a number now. Yeah, I went almost all winter without a problem. In fact, I think the last time I saw a doctor was my check-up after George was born. But I’m guessing I’ll be heading in soon.

I can’t lift my left arm. As in, it hurts to put on my jacket. Lifting George is almost impossible. Typing is OK, but only because I use my fingers, and don’t move my arm.

You see, it’s winter here in North Dakota. And with winter comes snow…and ice. With ice comes quick trips to meet the ground. But the problem was that I didn’t let myself fall gracefully. Nope, I had to go “Val” it up and make it painful. I somehow jammed my shoulder. The silver lining? It’s my left arm, not my right. (You see? There’s a silver lining in EVERY situation, you just have to look a little harder sometimes.)

I’m guessing I have some tears in there. I’m guessing it’ll be a bit before it feels better. And I’m guessing that this is going to be a long spring.

Maybe, if I’m lucky enough, I’ll fall again and knock it back to normal? Hey, a gal can dream, can’t she?

It’s time to go out again and check cows. My wishes are that 1) #70 hasn’t calved and I can actually get her to the barn this time, 2) if I DO fall, that I don’t break anything, and 3) it’s 70 degrees outside. (Hey, as long as I’m wishing here, I might as well throw in one big one, just to make the others seem more plausible.)

Good night! And if I don’t wave to you tomorrow, it’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I can’t! 😉